Purposeful Faith

Tag - Pain

For the Days When Your Soul Aches and You Feel Lonely

Seven Bible verses to help you when you're lonely and your soul aches

Post by: Katie M. Reid

The stale air of the subway felt like her closest companion. She was surrounded by people yet no one seemed to notice her. Some passengers looked straight ahead, others seemed to look through her, and most were on their phone. A few, very few, were engaged in conversation.

I’m hungry. She cried out.

And the passengers were unaware…or unmoved.

I’m hungry! She called out again.

I heard the cry. Not just from the mouth of this fellow passenger, but deep within my soul.

I have known hunger too: soul hunger.

And I wonder how many of us join in this refrain? I’m hungry. I’m hungry!

On the days when there’s nothing left in the cupboard. For the times when the house (or inbox) is devoid of life. In the aftermath of unexpected storms that barrel through. There is one who hears, who sees, who understands. One who has experienced loneliness (and hunger) in ways we can’t even imagine.

He answers our cries with Himself: the Bread of Heaven broken for us.

He doesn’t look through us, He lives in us. He invites us to feast as He provides soul manna that never runs out. He never runs out on us. Jesus. Not a trite answer but THEE answer for our deep soul ache.

Tried and true, tested and proven, His Love saturates lonely, aching places.

Here for us; always. When others ignore, when they overlook, or when they inadvertently hurry by…He remains.

Here are 7 verses to feast on when you’re feeling lonely:

  • Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty (John 6:35).
  • Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me (Revelation 3:20).
  • Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? (1 Corinthians 3:16).
  • Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand (Isaiah 41:10, NLT).
  • Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast (Psalm 139: 7-10).
  • For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).
  • Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20, NLT).

There is a verse here for each day of the week. May you be comforted as you cry out to God and bring your loneliness to Him. Oh how He cares for you and is more than able to provide for the hunger of your soul.

Katie M. Reid Author and Speaker

Katie M. Reid is an author and speaker who encourages you to find grace in the unraveling of life (look for her first book coming out next summer with Waterbrook!). She inspires you to embrace your identity in Christ and live out your God-given purpose. Katie delights in her hubby, five children, and their life in the Midwest. She is a fan of cut-to-the-chase conversation over hot or iced tea. Katie and her husband host the popular Facebook Live show, “Stop! Hammock Time” (which airs Wednesdays, 9pm EST). Join in the fun and unwind in this vibrant community.

Connect with Katie at katiemreid.com and on Facebook and Twitter.

When It Appears God Hurt You

God Hurt You

Have you ever felt like you were following through on what God called you to do? But, it seemed he was punishing you?

Perhaps, he’s called you to love a difficult person.
Perhaps, he’s called you to serve in a difficult spot.
Perhaps, he’s called you to wait on him.
Perhaps, he’s called you to stay put in a place you don’t want to.

Paul went to Macedonia saying, “God had called us to preach the gospel (in Macedonia).” (Act 16:10)
There, he cast out a demon in a woman, saying, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” (Acts 16:18)
Only to land himself in prison when the owners of the woman realized they lost “their hope of making money.” (Acts 16:9)

If I was Paul, I might throw my hands up in the air and say, “Thanks a lot, God. You really know how to send a woman out and then let her down.”

Paul and crew were stripped, flogged, beaten and thrown in jail.

What do you do when it seems God – led you, but now he’s fled you?

It’s easy to feel angry, frustrated and indifferent in this place?

Years back, God called me to start a company. I seeking God with all my heart. I was obedient in the work, diligent in the process and hopeful in prayer, yet it didn’t happen. It tanked so badly, there were tens of thousands of dollars on the line. That was tough.

What is tough place has God called you to?

Here’s how Paul responds, within the walls of his prison: About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. (Acts 16:25)

Imagine that? Beaten, wounded and imprisoned, yet still singing, praising and evangelizing…

This act, brings me to a place of pause: What if rather than seeing my disgrace, I believed God, for me, would about-face my situation? 

And, in this I could give praise?

Did Paul believe this?

Did he know his good God would most certainly do a good thing?

Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. (Acts 16:26)

When we believe in God’s power, his power tools break down high walls. When we are in the center of God’s will, God works a way out for us. When we are worshipping, God is working on our behalf to open doors.

I think Paul believed in the power of God. What if we believed too?

When that person hurts us. God can shake us in love that heals.
When that dream fizzles. God will quake new dreams in us; He has a plan.
When pain surfaces: Through God all things are possible. We will wait.
When we see no way out: God will mine gold in our heart through this.
When we feel bad: Jesus’ forgiveness rattles our soul in unwarranted acceptance that feels like peace.

God will show up and when he does the power of his work – will set you free. Until, then, like Paul, “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” (Psalm 27:14)

Embarrassing Bravery and Insane Courage

courage is required as we free fall into grace quote by Katie M. Reid for Kelly Balarie's Purposeful Faith

Post by: Katie M. Reid

There is a captivating quote in the movie, We Bought A Zoo: 

You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.

For ten years my husband and his sister wanted to go skydiving together. Their plan was to go once she turned 18. Time went by and the dream remained tucked away, but not forgotten. Then a few years ago there was a great deal on Groupon for skydiving nearby—and the rest is history.

These adult siblings demonstrated insane courage and embarrassing bravery as they plummeted to the earth (I have to say that their father and I also displayed some too by promoting, watching, and documenting the experience). I am proud of them. Ultimately, it was a lesson of trust, growth, and quite the bonding experience.

Isn’t this like our faith?

When we “sign-up” we count the cost and take a leap into unknown territory. The Lord asks us to trust Him in the midst of fear, obstacles, and at times scary and exciting circumstances.

The giants are present, but the slingshot is in hand. The hand looks weak, but the power is in the One Who called, Who holds together.

God equips for the task at hand. For what is laid out, He knows the course. We ride this journey, tandem.

What is God asking you to trust Him with?

Is He calling you to something that seems impossible in your own strength? Is it self-control, parenting well, mending a relationship, being kind to that “hard-to-be-nice-to” person, getting out of debt, faithfully spending time with God, learning a new skill?

My father-in-law once preached a great message about how, with God, the impossible is possible (Matthew 19:26). We might find ourselves between a rock and a hard place so we will trust and look to Him, and not rely on our own strength.

I have a few friends right now who are facing impossible types of circumstances. It’s hard to watch as the winds of loss, pain, and injustice beat against their face. They find themselves between a rock and a hard place, and the outcome is uncertain. Yet, I’m reminded of Moses, God put him in the cleft of rock while His glory passed by.

Could it be that when we are in a hard place, or a seemingly impossible season, that God’s glory is very near?

and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Exodus 33:22

Courage is required as we free fall into grace. Bravery is needed as we trust God in the midst of the unknown. We do not go alone, as we take a leap of faith. Our Lord has gone before us, and goes with us.

Look to the cross, Jesus is definitely the example of insane courage and embarrassing bravery.

1 Corinthians 1:18

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

1 Corinthians 2:4-5 
My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.

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

Author & Speaker Katie M. Reid image by Adopting Nations

Katie M. Reid is a writer and speaker who encourages others to find grace in the unraveling of life. She delights in her hubby, five children, and their life in ministry. Cut-to-the-chase conversation over hot or iced tea is one of her favorite things.

Connect with Katie at katiemreid.com and on Twitter and Facebook.

Living Beyond Comparison

Living Beyond Comparison

I am delighted to have the fabulous Kristine Brown join us today as she shares about comparison. This can be sure-fire way to lose perspective and her blog reminds me to keep the focus of my eyes narrow and the intentions of my heart clean. Thank you Kristine – and welcome today! I hope you are blessed.

Guest Post by: Kristine Brown

She lived in the shadow of someone else. Someone pretty important, as a matter of fact. Day in and day out she watched this graceful lady. From where she stood, it looked as if this other woman had God’s hand of blessing on her all the time. Of course, it was hard to see clearly when walking behind her at a distance.

She couldn’t get used to her new life in the shadows. And on top of that, she endured ridicule. If only I had a friend, she thought. She struggled to see beyond her bitter circumstances.

Her name was Hagar.

Hagar found herself in a new role as servant and handmaid to Sarah. Conflict started early in their relationship. And as the family dynamic changed, tension grew between the two women.

Sarah sat in a place of honor as Abraham’s wife. Abraham had heard a solid promise from God that he would be the father of a great nation. God also assured him this promise would begin with a son from Sarah. But Hagar’s position as the mother to Abraham’s first-born only increased the difficulties between Sarah and her servant.

Soon that son arrived. Sarah gave birth to Isaac. And with this new addition to the family, the comparison voice grew louder and louder. Hagar felt unnoticed and unimportant compared to Sarah. Without realizing it, she allowed comparison to lead her away from the God who saw her.

Our situations may be different, but Hagar and I have a lot in common. We both let the destructive voice of comparison whisper into our hearts.

I too have felt the compulsion to compare myself to another woman. I’ve listened to the lies comparison tells me – lies that sound something like this…

She is more talented than me.

She is more capable than me.

She is noticed more than me.

Maybe you’ve heard them too.

If so, then you understand how devastating this voice can be. You know the doubt it causes. And maybe – like me – you’re ready to silence it once and for all.

“I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.” Psalm 57:2 ESV

The comparison battle once affected every area of my life.

My parenting. My role as a wife. My work. My ministry.

I couldn’t see the beauty of God’s plan. Comparison distracted me from the path He created just for me.When I realized how much I’d let its condemning words alter my thoughts, I resolved to find a solution. I went straight to God’s Word, and my discovery began in Hagar’s story…

When Hagar had enough of the hurt, she called out to the God of Abraham and Sarah. That day she learned a vital truth.

God desired to be the friend Hagar so desperately wanted. He was not only the God of Abraham and Sarah. He was her God too, and He made her a steadfast promise just like he did for Abraham – a promise she could count on.

Tweet: Relying on God’s promise is my first step in conquering comparison. – #OverItBook

“The angel added, ‘I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.’” Genesis 16:10 NIV

God had a plan for Hagar. By listening to His voice instead of the destructive words of comparison, she took a bold step. She believed the promise.

Sometimes that first step is all we need to get back on the right path. The question is:

Am I ready to take that bold step? Am I willing to rely on God’s promise and let go of comparison?

My answer is a resounding yes. Will you join me? I’d love to share with you more about Hagar and two other remarkable women in Scripture. Through their stories we can uncover the secret to overcoming comparison.

And when we do, we will also discover God’s plan for us is more than we could ever imagine possible.

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

Over It SPINE (1)The Over It book is available on Amazon in paperback or e-book.  To purchase your copy, click here. ***Proceeds from the sale of each book will benefit the More Than Yourself, Inc. scholarship program.

Author Bio 1Kristine Brown is a writer, dramatist, and teacher. She helps women and teen girls navigate the ups and downs of real life. Kristine devotes her time to family, freelance writing, and her non-profit ministry, More Than Yourself, Inc. You can read more about her book at www.morethanyourself.com/over-it. Connect with Kristine on Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook.

3 Steps: From Pain to Peace

Pain to Peace

Guest Post: By Lisa Murray

It was the tipping point.  The beginning of the fall.  No, it wasn’t a crash, a sudden impact dive that you didn’t see coming.  I saw this coming.  I could feel it making its way toward me and yet, I was entirely helpless to stop it.

It was a slow, distinct unraveling.  That moment where you can feel the wheels teetering ever so slightly out of balance until the whole thing comes unhinged.  My heart, that is.

This was the season of my undoing.

I was quite certain I had never planned for this.  My life was a well-structured agenda of fortitude, perseverance, accomplishments.  They needed me in some misconstrued way, yet I needed them more.

From my earliest memories, I can recall that feeling, deep in my bones, that insane and horrific gnawing that I was not enough.  That I would have to prove myself.  I needed to be special.  I needed to feel worthy.  Loved.

I heard people say,
If you try hard enough, you can accomplish anything.

I believed them.

So I set my face like flint against the wind, I measured my sails, and I set out to prove my worth to the world.

Whatever it takes, that was my motto.

Whether that meant hours of studying or practicing to be good enough.  Whether it meant endless miles running wrapped in plastic wrap to be skinny enough, I did it.  That was me.

I thought there would be some point where I arrived.  Where I would attain.  Where I would be enough.

Yet, inside I knew there was something adrift.  If I was quiet enough, I could hear the tremors begin to quake. I felt the muffled pangs just beneath the surface.

I told myself,
Just keep pushing and everything will turn out fine.

So I kept pushing.  I pushed real good for awhile.  I achieved what many said I’d never achieve.  Nobody noticed the foundation beginning to crumble around me.  I noticed.

I wanted to be healed.  I longed to know what wholeness felt like.  I craved peace more than anything I could imagine.

That must be for someone else, I thought,
but it must not be for me.

I often felt like the woman in Scripture reaching out, desperate to touch the threads that lined the hem of Jesus’ robe.  Surely if I could touch Him, she must have thought, then I would be healed(Mark 5:21-34)

I understood the longing of the blind man, who day after day, hoped and prayed that he would one day see.  How could he have known his Savior, his Healer would come with a little clay and a little spit near the pool of Siloam and give him everything he’d ever hoped for.  How? (John 9:1-12)

I could see myself like Peter, shivering in the waves and wind as he stepped out of the boat onto the Sea of Galilee.  If only I had enough fortitude to keep my eyes on Jesus, I could have walked on water without sinking beneath the waves of doubt and fear that pulled me under.  (Matthew 14:22-33)

And then my healing came.  Not in the way you’d expect.  Jesus ushered me into a sacred place.  A sacred season.  Jesus led me to this season of healing and He never let go.

I heard Him whisper to me, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)

I needed rest.

God gave me rest and He gave me so much more.  Over the years of my healing journey, I discovered an abundance that was more than I had ever imagined.  God was showing me how to build and live a life of peace.  It was all I had ever hoped for.  Longed for.  To breathe.  To feel solid and sure.  To experience wholeness.  To experience abundance.  Physical abundance, spiritual abundance, emotional abundance.

3 Ways To Walk From Pain to Peace

  1. Embrace Maximized HOPE! – Without a doubt your hope lies first and foremost in the person of Jesus Christ.  He is your foundation spiritually, emotionally, and physically.  As you learn to appropriate His hope, His healing into the emotional area of your life, you will experience the fullness, the abundance of hope He promises.

Jeremiah 29:11(NIV) states, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

  1. Discover Complete WHOLENESS! – God wants you to be not only healed, but whole. God doesn’t want his children limping through life, barely surviving.  He wants you to thrive.  He wants you to discover your unique calling, your passion and purpose so that you can make a difference for His kingdom.  As individuals become whole, the entire body of Christ becomes whole.

2 Timothy 1:7 (AMP) tells us that, “God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well- balanced mind and discipline and self-control.”

  1. Enjoy Enduring HARMONY! – You were not meant to live in chaos.  Your relationships were never supposed to be a rollercoaster of pain and disappointment.  God wants us to learn how to foster peace and strength in our relationships so that we can enjoy them without being dependent on them for our happiness or wellbeing.

Romans 15:5-6 (AMP) shares, “Now may the God Who gives the power of patient endurance (steadfastness) and Who supplies encouragement, grant you to live in such mutual harmony and such full sympathy with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may [unanimously] with united hearts and one voice, praise and glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah).

This is the life God has for you.  Don’t settle for anything less than Maximized Hope, Complete Wholeness and Enduring Harmony.  In my book, Peace for a Lifetime – Embracing a Life of Hope, Wholeness, and Harmony through Emotional Abundance, I walk with readers through whatever season of life they are in, and lay out simple, practical life-steps that will help them find healing and will nurture abundance in every area of their lives.

You don’t have to keep trying so hard to prove your worth.  You don’t have to keep pushing, hoping that everything will turn out okay.  Healing isn’t just for someone else.  Healing is for you.

Jesus is whispering to you, Come to me…

Will you come to Him today?  Will you accept the peace He has for you?  Will you let Him walk you from your season of pain right into His peace?

You can experience the love for which you long.
You can experience abundance beyond anything you can imagine.
You can experience peace, not just for today, not just for tomorrow.

You can experience peace —for a lifetime.

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

About Lisa Murray

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 4.09.48 AMLisa is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, author, coffee lover, and wife.  Her online community lisamurrayonline.com provides a compassionate place in the midst of the stresses and struggles of life.  While she grew up in the Florida sunshine, she and her husband now live just outside Nashville in Franklin, TN.

 

 

About Peace for a Lifetime

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 4.09.38 AMIn her new book, Peace for a Lifetime, Lisa Murray shares the keys to cultivating a life that’s deeply rooted, overflowing, and abundant, the fruit of which is peace. Through personal and professional experience as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Lisa discovered how to take the broken pieces of life and find indestructible peace with herself, God and others. Through Lisa and other’s stories you’ll realize you can experience peace, not just for today, but you can experience peace —for a lifetime

 

Find Peace for a Lifetime on Amazon.com.
Watch the Book Trailer.
Join Lisa’s Thunderclap campaign.

Hating Your Ugly Scars A Little Less

Ugly Scars

I was in middle school, having the time of my life. One morning, I took off running after my friend at her beach house. Laughing, screaming, having fun, all was good until I fell and scraped my knee against the ground.

I screamed in pain.
She screamed that I should hush down.
I’m almost certain I screamed louder.

The gash ran deep, the pain was bad, but I felt like no one else really knew. It was my pain. It was my deal.

I can’t help but think I later delighted in the size of the scar; it seemed to prove my pain. It seemed to be the one marker of something I could show to others and say, “Look what I went through.” So much of everything else was unseen, but having people know, it meant something. 

I look at that big chunk of ugly skin on my knee sometimes and remember things. I remember her, my friend; she is one of those girls who has a spirit, a joy and a life you can’t ever forget. All the same, I remember how our scars are ours and how they’re really just what we make of them. Victory markers or vile eaters of worth…

I’m making a choosing to see victory scars…

Lines that prove we actually got up and walked again.
A threshold of pain we know we can conquer.
The proof that we can and will endure.
The reminders of those deep injured cells that cry out for self-care.

Each scar is worthy of a memory, a glance and a pondering.

You can choose which way you look at them, you know?

Scars can either bring us to victimhood or victory. The choice is ours.

Victimhood: I have been cut so much there is no way all the King’s horses or all the King’s men, could ever put me back together again. Things are said and done; I will live in pain and pain will come again and again. Good things don’t happen for me, one who looks far less porcelain doll and far more like the shredded woman in a horror film. I don’t know if I can take the idea of being cut again.

Victory: The wounds that look like they may kill me, have the greatest potential to heal me. They are what walk my feet right up to the throne of Christ, so I can see his wounds. The wounds that healed, saved and freed us all.

He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. Is. 53:5

Victory isn’t found through the absence of pain, but through God’s deliverance through it.

He was pierced (for us), he was crushed (to work through our issues), he received punishment (to bring us peace) and he was wounded (so we could be healed).

What deliverance might your battle wounds bring?

What might your victory story look like?

His wounds know our wounds. His pain understands ours. His love quenches our fear. He can’t help but heal; it is who he is and what he does. Healing may not always come on the exterior, but make no mistake it will remodel the interior. And to know this is to know victory.

I hated every moment of being cut. I probably spoke to God things non-repeatable on a blog like this. But, still, with him, we moved and went. I might have wondered how we would make it through, but I got to see how he could bring me through. And one thing I know is you can’t remove a woman from her miracle; it is something that lasts, like scars, and for this I am eternally thankful.

Jesus turns scars into memorials of his faithfulness.

I am not surprised that after he died and rose, he came back to earth scars front and center (John 20:27), I think he knew they weren’t something to hate, but to love, to hold and to remember. For in each scar, there is a story of redemption if we let it work for us.

What evil wanted to hurt me, Christ used to heal me. He wants to do the same with you too…

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20 Reasons: Why Your Suffering is Good

suffering is good

Suffering stinks. It is hard stuff. There is no two ways about it. It brings tears, it surfaces pain and it hurts – bad. It feels torturous…like being one wrung dry. Twisted, squeezed and stuck.

Ever felt so tightly squeezed by pain, you’d do nearly anything to relieve the pressure?

I have.  It’s at this point that I try to fix, finagle and figure my way out. What I normally finagle my way into is a greater mess with higher levels of stress.

But, what if Christ had a different way for me?

Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. (1 Pet. 4:1)

Have the same attitude as Christ in suffering?! This verse nearly knocks me off my rocker! It nearly makes me choke on the coffee I am downing right now. It halts me…

But it is true…

I can walk strongly and confidently to my Calvary Hill,
because it means I am walking strongly and confidently to
less of me and more of him,
less flesh and more life
and less world and more eternity.

Walk into pain with an attitude of gain, because Jesus Christ already gained everything. There is nothing else to lose. 

Do you need to change your attitude on pain – and exchange it for the view of gain?

20 Reasons Why You Can Delight in your Suffering:

1.  Our earthly troubles bring eternal glory. (2 Cor. 4:17)

2. Our hearts draw near in the face of great fear.

3. We find a training ground for a breaking down of self and a restoring ground of God.

4. There’s a deep search for Christ – and we find him.

5. Spiritual things take precedence over demanded things.

6. God’s glory shines through the darkness of a buzzed world.

7. Comfort comes close, then we learn to extend that same comfort to others (2 Cor. 1:3-4)

8. God restores, making us “strong, firm and steadfast.” (1 Pet. 5:10)

9.  We encounter a great God deliverance. (Ps. 34:19)

10. When become less, Christ more. (John 3:30)

11. In our weakness, Christ power activates in us. (2 Cor. 12:9)

12. Grace becomes all-sufficient to get us through. (2 Cor. 12:9)

13. Our current pain is brings Christ-like gain; we reflect him more.

14. We are blessed. (1 Pet. 3:14)

15.  We suffer with Christ; we learn to understand his love for us more. (Phil. 1:29)

16. We become like Christ in death – and ultimately in life. (Phil. 3:10)

17.  We lose our life, but we end up finding it. (Mt. 10:39)

18.  We come to depend on the Word of God. (Deut. 8:3)

19.  We learn that life is more than earth and God more than the worldly things we want.

20. We get a chance to see prayer work out God’s good and perfect will in our life.  (Lu. 22:42)

When I look at this list, I can see an attitude shift in me. Sure, I am being wrung out, but it’s all about retraining; it’s not a mission in paining. It is all about beholding beauty; it’s not about staying stuck in futility. It is all about developing spiritual sight that sees beyond the constant fight.

God is constantly chasing us, to push us into greater. The push may hurt, but sometimes the push is exactly what is needed to get the bird to fly. And, when we do, we finally see why.

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Gyms, Playgrounds & Pushing Into Jesus

Pushing Into Jesus

Gyms

Something inside me was brewing. I could hear the voices. I could sense the excitement. It was all around me. I wanted to jump in, I wanted to participate; but, all I could do was stand and stare. Like a frozen spectator, the reflection of the gym class mirror gripped me. Giggles. Smiles. Connections.

Loneliness. Wishes. Sadness.

The were living everything I wanted, the everything I was somehow was not a part of. I was the lone wolf.

Untitled design (10)

I stood smack dab in the middle of the class, but knew I much more belonged on planet Jupiter.

Every inch of me felt vulnerable, “Will they notice that no one is talking with me?”
Every ounce felt embarrassed, “Why don’t I have a friend here too?”
Every bit of me wondered, “Do I look okay?”

Everything in me, made me feel like I was reliving yesterday…

Playgrounds

Playgrounds are places where kids play, except for when you are me. Then they are places where you sit out. They are places where you are left behind. They are places where you watch from the safety of a curb, from a position of arms crossed or from a nurses office for safe keeping, because what you know is: on these grounds everything you believe about yourself is being determined. 

Things like:

1. I must not be likable.
2. I have some weird gene that excludes me.
3. I think differently.

I reached out my hand to be friends with one of the girls. I tried; I tried so hard to extend myself beyond myself. I looked in her eyes – and she looked back too.  There was hope!

Then, her friend walked by, reached out for her arm and said, “Don’t be friends with her.”

pushing into Jesus

Said and done – from that point on everyone acted cold. Standing on that field, playing whatever sports game we where playing, a little piece of determination and a little piece of resolution was lost. I kicked softly and felt horribly. And walked home solemnly figuring there was something wrong with me.

I wonder if Jesus ever felt like me?

A moral, good and righteous odd-ball-out kind of kid?
Without sin, yet having to dwell in sin (Heb. 4:15)?
Immersed in a world of pain, when he was used to the wealth of paradise?
Hated by those he loved and shamed by those he came to save?
Might those he loved felt awkward and restrained near him in sight of his greatness, his perfection?

And what about when Jesus was about to head to the cross? No one could understand his grief. No one could fathom the far depths of his love. No one could walk in the shoes that would cleanse the whole world with righteousness. No one could understand what it feels like to be “forsaken” (Mt. 27:46).

Surely, I am not nearly like Jesus, but I think Jesus might have felt a little like me – alone. Not understood. Weary.

Pushing Into Jesus

When I step back from all this – to look at Jesus and myself, I start to see something emerge.

What strikes me is: How often am I like those who stood around Jesus – just a little scared of him?

How often do I believe Jesus looks at me and says,
“Her, no…. you don’t want to be friends with her”
and then he grabs all his love and walks out the door?

When we feel like Jesus is ready to abandon us,
we become hyper-aware that the world will too.

Deflect his love and you will deflect all love.
Intersect with Jesus’ love and you’ll be resurrected by it.

Do you ever feel unable to receive the fullness of God’s love?

5 Ways to Tell if You are a Love-Deflecter:

1. You feel guilty beyond guilty when you make a mistake. You can’t get over it.
2. You sometimes fall trapped to believing: God is too big and too mighty to hear your small prayers – or answer them.
3. When you close your eyes and imagine meeting Jesus in heaven, you see him squinty eyed as he greets you.
4. You figure a way out of trials, verses letting God’s love hold you through them.
5. The past makes you think he runs from your past too.

There is no ounce of shame, that disqualifies you from the power of his name.
There is no ounce of shame, that disqualifies me from the power of his name.
Say it aloud if you need to.

Jesus knows our pain and loves us the same.
pushing into Jesus

He felt pain and won the game.
He knows our cries – and cries with us.
He bring us to the sinking point of love,
found at the foot of the cross.
Where the past has bounds,
but the future is boundless,
where pain exists,
but where love swallows its power.
Where life is made new again,
and past handicaps become moot.
Where the compassion goes on and on and on,
and where small kids are made whole again.

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Being Dissed. The (real) bad – and good of it.

Being Dissed.

She looked at the girl sitting next to me, and said, “Hey it is so great to see you” and continued on not even giving me the time of day.

Who does that?

Who completely ignores someone when they completely know someone?

Boiling hot, I was about ready to make a primed kettle sound.  Wwwhhh….
Someone was going to get burned, and I had a feeling it was going to be me.

In an instant, my mind returned to a time of old,
me, the new girl, trying out for the team,
her, a potential friend that I really enjoyed being with,
all was good, until…
[walk in villian],
her age-old best friend walked in… (dun. dun. dun.)
and whispered to my potential laughing-mate,  “Don’t be friends with her.”

Things went cold, I went hot. Wwhhh!!!

Discouraged. Dejected. Demotivated. I lost my athletic swagger.
I was rejected from the team.

I felt rejected by everyone. Wwhhh!!!

Clearly, it was apparent that there was something deeper going on here.

I couldn’t help but think:

Boiling over happens because of past pain that lays under.
Yesterday returns to sear us with the markings of – unwanted today.
The devil is a avid scorcher, using his red trident of age-old shame – time and time again.

He hits us with it – and we almost can’t help it. We jump out of our seat, jump on the person and rip the person apart from the insides out. We say, you won’t mess with me or rule over me or hurt me ever again. Our eyes close, our fists move and our whole will is determined not to live on repeat. Except, when we open our eyes, the person we look at is not the girl on the field, but the thirty year old with two kids and a whole heaping lot of problems just like us.

Hmm…

I want to cut off this record on repeat that won’t stop playing,
“I think I am dumb. I think that is why. People don’t love me. They will always pass by.”

This kind of song makes you live in limbo. It makes you live believing people have one foot in and one foot out. It makes you live expecting the next diss. It makes you live wondering when you will feel hurt again. It makes you wonder if God will be out the door on you too.

Wwhhh!!! It starts to rise in you. You feel like hitting again. Except when you open your eyes you realize who you would be hitting, and you remember – he was already hit.

Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Mt. 26:67

You want to get angry, but as you start to soften your face, you remember:
‘The stone which the builders rejected, this became the chief cornerstone… Mk. 12:10

The stone that keeps the unsteady fabric of beings from falling over.
The stone that was never thrown.
The stone that binds eternal life.
The stone that knows the depth of rejection.
The stone that rose up to build a church that unites hands around the world today.
The stone with a clear purpose, despite the mocks, slanders and accusations of others.
The stone that was raised on high.
The stone that the Father adored.
The stone that seals us as always accepted.
​The stone that pursues us and loves us and owns us always and forever and then forevermore.

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Overcome Like Jesus: 7 Ways He Proves You Can

Overcome Like Jesus

Ever looked at your life and wondered how God was going to deal with “all this”?

Sometimes, our lives seem to mangle themselves up into intricate webs of complexity. Each string lays on top of the other in a jumble of difficulty, hardship and ugly.

And, if we don’t actually ask God this, we normally think:

God, can you really work through this?
How can you untie everything wrapping against me?
There are so many moving pieces, so many difficult people and so many heavy problems, do you care?

overcome like Jesus
We look up, and we think, “How am I going to climb this barrier, this ridiculous tower of hardship and this likely-to-fall thing of pain?”

My son, looked up at his playground web in much the same way. It looked impossible for him to climb. He got to the middle of it, looked up and said, “I think I have gone far enough. I am not sure if I can go any higher.”

“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Mk. 9:23

I wonder if Jesus looked at his walk to Calvary Hill in much the same way?

Did he think “This is impossible? This is a mess I can’t get myself out of? Can God really get me through this?”

Somehow, I doubt it.

Jesus believed that the impossible, was the beginning of God’s possible.

He knew that intricacies of life, are the proof point for the immaculacies of God.

He knew that deeply woven, meant deeply scalable by God.

Look at the intricacies Jesus climbed to make it to the pain-ridden and pain-freeing cross.

1. He had to defeat the powers of hell.

And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Col. 2:15

2. He had to defeat his mind.

Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done. Lu. 22:42

3. He had to perfectly time things.

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law. Gal. 4:4

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Ro. 5:6

4. He had to fulfill Old Testament prophecy.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth. Is. 53:7

5. He had to take on the sins, the pain and the agony of the world.

He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. Jo. 1:22

6. He had to keeping humility, reliance on the plan and people coming at him in line.

Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself. Jo. 6:15

7. He had to deal with his dearly loved disciples abandoning him at his hour of need.

But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled. Mt. 26:56

But, still, what looked impossible, was possible.
Like the King he was, he did not stop halfway.
He didn’t give up in the garden of agony.
He didn’t stop on the road of tears, pain and mocking.
He didn’t bow down to the taunts and lures of Satan.

He climbed. He scaled. To ascended on high. To reach the fullness of God’s heights.

How do you need to keep moving as Jesus did?

Remember, what your eyes see – is not what God sees. What he sees is greatness, holiness, sanctification and peace in process. What he sees is his good ending from the painfully woven beginning. He sees his plan and he knows it is good.

Faith is what you cannot see.
Belief is feet that keep moving when things keep getting harder.
Hope is God’s imminent rescue for those lives that trust him.

Trust him.
Keep climbing.
Don’t give up.
Don’t back down.
There is a plan.
He will bring you to his heights.
Press on.

My son focused. He kept moving. With the son against him, as he always is, he kept climbing and forging. And guess what happened? He didn’t fall, waver or give up halfway, but he made it to the top.

overcome like Jesus

Joy flooded him, smiles returned and a little “happy dance” in the sky occurred. He pulled through with God’s help.

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