Purposeful Faith

Tag - Pain

Loving Past Our Fears

Loving Past Our Fears

How do you press in to relationships that are hard?

How do you let your heart show up
when it has the inclination to run?

How do you push past fears,
when God is calling you to a great,
but difficult, mission?

Author, Jill Lynn Buteyn faced questions like these as endured with friend and blogger, Kara Tippetts, as she travelled a painful road from life to death to terminal cancer.

What a story! I couldn’t be more delighted today to welcome Jill to Purposeful Faith today for an interview as she teaches us a lesson on loving, listening and just showing up.  Welcome Jill!

Kara&Friends_00621. What moments and memories of Kara do you hold closest to your heart?  

Kara had such a great sense of humor. I don’t know if I remember really big moments as much as I just remember laughing and joking around.  It was a joy to be with her.

She would still ask questions of her friends—about our marriages, our families. One night I stayed with her in the hospital and when she woke in the middle of the night, she asked me who was checking on a friend of ours who had moved away.

Many of my memories revolve around her being sick—she was sick much of the time that I knew her. But we still talked deeply and celebrated life. 

2. How do you “Just Show Up” to be present with someone in the face of pain, difficulties and hard times?

Often the reason we aren’t there for someone who’s in pain or sick is because we fear we won’t know what to do or say. These are legitimate fears, but if we can fight through them (and we delve into some details about this in the book to help) there are so many blessings to be found when we walk through hard with each other. I would tell them to take a step toward a friend… to start somewhere, maybe with something small, and watch for the blessings God has planned.

3. What tangible steps might you give to help others overcome their fears?

Ask God for help, to show you what you can do and how to help someone else. If you fear entering into community, you might need to start slowly. That’s okay. Just taking a step toward others is such a huge thing. It’s lonely without community. Try to find a few safe people to grow friendships with. And in terms of fearing how to be there for someone who’s sick or in pain, a good place to start is in simply choosing them. Decide that you’re in, even if you’re afraid, and that you’re going to make movement toward them. Lean in. Don’t head in the other direction. Honestly, that’s where it starts. It can be scary getting in the trenches with someone, but it gets easier the more you do it.

4. What bible verse provided you comfort and how did it come alive in your life?

My favorite is Isaiah 41:10. 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.

I love this verse because it’s all about HIS strength and not mine. He’s holding me up. The picture this paints is such a comfort to me, and I constantly have to remind myself that it’s not about what I can do but what HE’s going to do.

5. What fears did you hit during this period and as you wrote the book, “Just Show Up”?

Well, I am exceptionally good at fear. Ha! Not something one wants to brag about. I was afraid people wouldn’t want to read what I had to say—that they’d only want to hear from Kara. She was beloved, and for good reason. It was hard for me to think someone might pick up the book wanting to read only from Kara. Though really, people obviously know it’s written by both of us, so I’m not sure why that fear gained so much traction.

The phrase that would often go through my head was, Lord, let me be enough. I feared me and my writing wouldn’t be enough. And God never failed to ask me, for whom? He reminded me I only needed to be enough for him, and I already was because of what he’d done for me.

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About Jill Buteyn

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 4.25.15 AMJill Lynn Buteyn is a co-author of Just Show Up with Kara Tippetts, and the author of the inspirational romance novel, Falling for Texas (as Jill Lynn). A recipient of the ACFW Genesis award for her fiction work, she has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Bethel University. Jill lives near the beautiful Rocky Mountains with her husband and two children.
Connect with her on social media, at Jill-Lynn.com, or at MundaneFaithfulness.com where she guest blogs.

Dethrone Mean People

mean people

I have been noticing a red-flag pattern lately. It’s ugly. It’s injuring. It’s hard to admit. And when I take a long hard look at it, I think it might say a lot more about me than it does about anyone else.

People are letting me down.

Saying no when they’re supposed to say yes.
Not following through on what they said they would do.
Acting not nice and making me pay the price.
Lying, thinking I don’t know.
Hurting, then walking away.
Promising and not delivering.

People are letting me down.

When I look at these five words, I see so much expectation. I see the words, “Please, be nice, don’t hurt me and give me what I need,” but what I also see, upon stepping back, is a small air of demand shining. In a way I’m saying: “People, get lifting me up!” Then: “God, why do you allow this to happen?” 

God, though. God, he doesn’t answer yelling demands with a cowering spirit. He doesn’t bow down to our attacks for more to let our feelings establish his. He doesn’t retaliate based on questions. Instead, he compels our hearts to realize he is far less concerned about “should have’s” because Jesus “already has.” He already died to make us worthy. He has given us all we need. We are more than enough. Sturdy. Steady. Unwavering in hope.

In this, he doesn’t promise we “will have”
the best people can offer,
because we already have
the best he could
(which is more than enough).

Jesus never said:

People will always say yes, when they are supposed to say yes.
They will follow through on what they say they will do.
They will act nice and you will feel great.
No one will hurt you.
They won’t ever take from you.Mean People

So, perhaps it is time that I stop letting people, injuries and insults dethrone my God. Perhaps it is time that when they come, I let his Word reign. Perhaps it is time, I stand steady in truth, love and hope when I am inclined to move like a tossing punching bag.

I no longer want to take my eyes off of Jesus and place it on insults. Because when I do I move my hearts from the station that fills peace to one that sucks life. I drive to a mindset that will hurt me every time.

If I keep my eyes on God’s ways, he will give me the energy to move forward in them. To love the unlovable with them.

God knows, this is why he says:
Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. Mt. 7:1
Take the log out of your own eye to see clearly the speck in your neighbor’s. Mt. 7
Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Col. 3:12
Do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God. Mic. 6:8
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Mt. 11:28

A heart locked into the hole of God’s love and mercy will not fall down as easily. It will stay steady. It will remain effective. It will hold in hard times. It will open the door to his more, even when people treat us as less.

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Identifying the Lie of Your Life (Part 1)

Identifying the Lie

Do you know your story?

Do you really know it in a way that will guard you against the I-can’t-do-it moments?

I am beginning to know it in this way and it is making all the difference. I am beginning to see the small cracks in my armor.

I can’t do it. Crack.
I won’t succeed. Crack.
I am losing my abilities. Crack.
I won’t be blessed. Crack.
God’s calling is non-existent. Crack.
I have no purpose. Crack.
I will not be led, inspired, helped, released, forgiven. Crack.
I will never be good enough. Crack.

My deep crack was: I can’t write. God hasn’t called me to do this. He is no longer blessing my work.
Underneath this crack, lived surface pressure: God won’t really be for you. He will leave you. Crack.

A crack is just enough for the devil’s foot to grab a hold of a heart.

A crack is just enough to forge a distance of space
between us and the God of our dreams.

A crack is just enough for a foothold of discouragement
to break down faithfulness.

A crack is just enough for him to start
ransacking our holy temples of God.

Which he loves to do. If he can penetrate a crack, he will perpetuate all problems. Days, turn into weeks, which turn into months, which turn into years and before you know it, the door to dejection is flung wide open. Suddenly, what you realize is that you are standing there vulnerable, naked, exposed and not sure where to run.

Unaddressed lies turn into a dressing of no protection that move us from
armed by the power of truth to defeated by the cleverness of lies.

Make no mistake, the devil is a carnivore who delights in eating up anything resembling the temple of God. We don’t have to have four legs for him to take a bite of our flesh. We don’t have to be doing bad things to get chewed up and spit out by the one who hates us.

He wants to take our true, honest, just, pure, lovely, virtuous, and praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8) and make it fake, deceitful, unfair, desecrated, horrible, vile and condemnation-worthy.

When our thoughts move to unholy, we become unholy. The second dirty hands leave an imprint, we grow shame at their touching. The second he raises uncertainty, we become certain that God doesn’t love us anymore.

This happened to me. But then I saw it. I saw what changes it all, the way of flipping my heart back into God’s goodness.

Here is what I saw:

1.) An alone, uncertain and unsure 3rd grader. One who for the life of her could not read or write with the other kids. One who knew she would never succeed. One who would never learn. One who couldn’t progress. It’s no wonder she stayed back that year, she was a loser of a writer. The only comfort she lived with, besides her thumb-sucking habits, was the idea that she would always fail.

2.) A grown woman at the will of an abusing woman. An abusive woman who would rip up time-intensive writing works with an air of “how could you?” An abusive woman who was a nightmare by day and literally a nightmare by night. An abusive woman whose degrading and demoralizing taunts still haunt.  A woman who caused an eager-to please employee long-lasting defeat, pain and fear of future criticism because her voice still resounds today.

3.) The devil is one who doesn’t give cause to our small cause, but one who goes after our big, audacious and wild causes for the Lord. He is one who, from day 1, has been trying to savor and steal the blessing the Lord has been baking and preparing our whole life.  He is the one who never wants the timer of “ready” to ring and resound.

What has the Lord been baking
that the devil is hungry to burn?

What central lie, from day 1,
has the devil pounded over you to ensure you crack?

For me, he wanted to burn my belief that I could write, so that I never could write for the Lord.

What is it for you? It has likely been happening from the days of old and he will continue it through days of new if you let him.

He wants us handicapped. He wants us crippled. He wants us unable to walk towards real purpose, real value and real transformation. Jesus wants us free, full and ready to say, “This is my body, take and eat.”

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. Jo. 10:10

Jesus enters into our life to bring life – always and everyday. But, beware, we are being sent you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore we must be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves (Mt. 10:16). Are you this way?

This means, if we are standing firm, we must be careful that we don’t fall (1 Cor. 10:12)!  Are you ensuring your good standing before the Lord?

We must “see to it, brothers and sisters, that none of (us) has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. (Heb. 3:12) Are you turning away as you analyze and consume yourself in the small cracks of your armor?

The cracks we cannot see, we cannot repair.  

If you don’t want the tectonic plates of your life to shift beyond repair, the time is now to shift your view on all you have believed to be true your entire life.

Join me for Part II, 5 Ways to Fight Back When Under Attack! To get busy with going and doing – we have to come alive to arming. We must arm up in the power of our Most High God to fight back.

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Staying Faithful When Issues Mount

When Issues Mount

They start small until they climb on your back and squeeze the air of faith right out of you.

They have a way of making the stack of  bills reign higher than the power of God.

The medical issues stand taller than God’s capacity to care.

The relational problems break you into tears rather than into submission to the One who knows.

They are called mounting issues. Personal. Medical. Relational. Financial. Mental.

They take you on a ride like this:

1. You start with faith, looking straight ahead at God.
2. You talk with people, think of the issue and dwell on the problem and get afraid.
3. Your eyes start to look left, and right and left and right.
4. Your worst nightmare starts to take form.
5. You become sure of it’s overwhelming power to take you down.

Then they make you feel like this:

I’m going down.
It will never work out.
God, where are you?
They will always hate me.
I will never recover.
I will never be left the same.
I can’t do it.
I am horrible.

Problems of today have a way, of making us fear the feelings of yesterday.

I remember the fortress of my school.
The incapability of one girl who was powerless to change anything.
Who was uncertain about the next pain that may come my way.
Who felt the result of people’s issues rather than a product of their love.
I remember the embarrassment.

That past mocks all my dreams.
It reminds me that pain will repeat.

It reminds me I either need to fight or flight. 

What does the past claim true about you – today?

The reality is – it’s gone,
and fighting proves worthless
because you can’t fight something that isn’t real;
if it’s not truth it simply doesn’t exist.

But, hushing away feelings never works. The only way to go is to see the one who sees far more than the stalker of fear living in your mind. To see the one who waits, looking, hoping, believing that you will see him – the one who is always following you.

And, while you may think it is over, he doesn’t.

He knows it has only just begun.

Because he is ready to come close, to know, to stay with. He is ready and willing to aid and assist.

He is amazing that way.

He sees the inadequate, unable, and unsure one and says, “You can do it with me, because of me and for me. Stay right there with that truth. You will be okay.”

He spoke these same kind of words to Joshua -the second string, the rookie.
He spoke belief into a man who had monumental issues in front of him: uncertainty, a sea that stood in his way and a towering fortress shining his incapabilities.
He said, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Josh 1:5

What if God was to show up and to say that to you?

“Hey (fill in name here),
I was with Moses,
so I will be with you (name),
I will never leave you or forsake you.”

Might these words make a difference?

Might you remember the bush, the manna, the Red Sea, the God, the hope,
the promises, God’s faithfulness to you?
Not if you just heard them, but if you really believed them.

Perhaps, then, you, like Joshua, might think,
“Wow, this God is really for me.”

Perhaps then you would have the courage to open your sea of despair to allow a new heart of courage to carry you to your promised hope.
“Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” Josh. 3:5

Perhaps then, you might set your forehead-to-floor knowing one stands higher than all your perceptions.
Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?” Josh. 5:14

You might even hear the way to go, the heart to have and the whispers of truth
rise above the status of your bank account, your health check-up or your kid’s report card.

You might even have the heart to march around what stands against you to shout the truth of God over it, around it and before it to see God work through it.  And to, even, maybe, see it all fall down (if that is what God has planned for you).

On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.” Josh 6:4-5

Imagine seeing the walls of pain and piles of grief standing before you crumble. They aren’t bigger than your God.

The truth is that in all cases he may not make them completely disappear, but God has the power to crumble circumstances authority over your feelings. He has the authority to set you on a new path, to forge a new way to bring you into the promised land of his peace.

Hear the words the Lord said to Joshua as he was preparing to be courageous and do not let them lightly pass over you (seize them as he seized the city): “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Josh 1:9)

Mounting issues, the past and our feelings are not our inheritance, God’s promises are – and we have already made it to the Promised Land, let’s lay claim to it much like the Israelites.

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3 #RaRalinkup Updates:
1.  Sign up for the NEW Cheerleaders 4 Christ #RaRa Facebook group page (this is different than the prayer one I set up). We will be rolling out a new element to the #RaRalinkup that I want you to be a part of. Details are forthcoming soon. Join here.

2. RSVP for the #RaRalinkup breakfast at She Speaks. Exciting news, prizes and challenges will be shared at this event.

3. Visit next Monday. All of the bloggers who submitted guest posts will be featured on July 13. I couldn’t pick just one, this is not the spirit of the #RaRalinkup or this blog. All win, all are chosen, all are loved! Mark this day in your calendars. Support your sisters by retweeting and mentioning them on Twitter. 🙂

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Beating Shame to The Ground

beating shame

I took down the pillars of protection to share my heart – and she trampled it.
She said, you really need to get over that feeling, you have to fix that.

It was a “What’s wrong with you?” comeback, to an “I already feel terrible” confession.

It hurt.

Was she right that I needed to change? Of course.
But did it make me want to? No way.

It made me want to add more and more pillars so that no person, no way, no how could knock the walls of my heart down again.

But should I?

Does it benefit me to become just as wrapped up
as a present heading off to some distant land?

Wont this kind of approach keep me just that – distant?

I am tired of distance. I long for closeness. I long for unity. I long to see beyond name brands of clothes and schedules of kids and discussions on traffic. I long to know someone deeply, so deeply that they can speak in to my heart and that I may speak into theirs – empowered by God’s truth laser focused into deep needs.

I long for this and God does too. He tells me to be truthful.

But what do I do when the responses of others
want to shut me up as tight as a submarine in 800-foot waters?

Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment. Prov. 12:19

A moment is pretty much a waste – a momentary smile, a momentary cheer, a momentary friend.

I want what lasts, what counts, what heals, what works, what transforms. The answer is always Jesus.  And Jesus was never so concerned with buttoning up his vest to hide that he missed all the opportunities to love.

Because of that, his love is always available to me…
As others batter me.
When the world comes against.
When I feel like running away.

His resurrection power awaits, when I feel body slammed to the ground of shamefulness.

Perhaps the greater lesson in sharing is learning that
my heart is not set on the ups-and-downs of others words,
but on the solid-rock of Christ.

Then I can follow through on God’s calling, which is to:

1. Encourage each other.
We feel most encouraged as we share and others see the real person God created us to be.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thess. 5:11

2. Confess to one another.
Sharing is the starting point to confession.
Therefore confess your sins to each other… Ja. 5:16

3. Pray over healing.
You can’t heal what you don’t know about.
…pray for each other so that you may be healed. Ja. 5:16

To breathe in the power of God, we must exhale the truth of our heart. As our spiritual hunger surfaces, his healing, love and power will seep into our deepest reaching infections.

Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. Mt. 7:6

Certainly, there is wisdom in this great unveiling. We share with those who understand the delicate nature of pearls. With people, who don’t reside in stinky places that want to make our stuff stink too. 

May we have the wisdom to know the difference. May we see their dwelling places (trough or temple?), as we share the dwelling place of our heart.

We won’t always be protected from shame, but we will know God has us all the same.

And, perhaps we will see that:

The leap of spiritual growth is well worth the moment of vulnerable uncertainty and insanity.
Although we may feel naked, God sees us as we are – and loves us anyway.
Intimacy is the greatest way into the heart of God.

Deeper love. Deeper pursuit of God’s hole-filling abilities and a more powerful pursuit of Christ – this is all ours as we take down our pillars of protection to see through God’s eyes.

In a way – we can’t lose. 

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Gal 6:2

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Pay Attention to Road Signs

Pay Attention to Road Signs

Post by Katie M. Reid

As I dropped off my kids at Vacation Bible School I could hardly stand up. I was depleted. It felt like work to walk up the stairs, to have a conversation and to drive home. In fact, I didn’t go home but went to my husband’s office and crashed on the couch there.

Four months of staying up too late—burning the midnight oil to chase a dream—had taken its toil on my body. I was exhausted and sapped of energy.

I had sacrificed the hallow for the hollow.
I had ignored the warning signs and worn myself out.
I had neglected my post at home in order to type out another post here.
I had left the secure to grasp at the wind.
I had traded the best in pursuit of the good.

Running ragged and on the brink of shut-down, I had to recharge immediately or my battery might die.

I was disappointed in myself for thinking I was invincible. I needed more sleep but had ignored the wise counsel of God, my husband, and others.

I plowed forward, at breakneck speed, right into a heap of exhaustion.

My marriage suffered, my kids felt ignored but it was like I couldn’t stop, even though I knew I was driving in a danger zone.

I had once judged others for being workaholics, but, as I devoted more time to creative things—writing my heart out, recording an album, capturing beauty all around—I saw never-stop-working tendencies rise within me. I was a workaholic but few people knew it because I worked from home.

Hypocrite.

Yet, a strange thing happened. His grace found me in the unraveling.

When my reckless acceleration caused me to swerve—through days, nights and months of striving—He provided an escape ramp to keep me safe.

God used my weary body to get my attention.

Through feeling lousy He woke me up.
Through past mistakes He showed me a better way.
Through almost losing it He provided another chance.

His kindness, in letting my body suffer, revealed my need for repentance, to go His way, not speeding ahead nor lagging behind.

The enemy likes to mess with us, using whatever strategies he can to keep us off course.

He might try to freeze us with fear so we don’t offer what’s in our hands.
Or, if we do offer, he likes to turn our offering into an idol.
Or if we keep offering anyway, he likes to breed jealousy, insecurity or pride in our hearts as we lift up what God gave us, to reflect His glory.

Be mindful of his schemes (see 2 Corinthians 2:11).
Examine yourself to see if your motives are driving you straight towards destruction (see Proverbs 14:12 and Lamentations 3:40).

Release your grip on trying to make things happen.

Learn to unwind in His Presence and trust His timing.

You can experience that wind-in-your-hair freedom that comes from driving down open roads, and pursuing the places and spaces that He gives you. However, please learn from my mistakes, don’t turn down a path that leads to unnecessary injury to you and those with you.

Pay attention to the signs that He posts along the way.

Hebrews 2:1 “We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.”

Dear God: Oh how we need you. It’s easy to get side-tracked on this earthly journey. Help us to hold fast to Your Word and not wander away. Forgive us for running ahead of You, grieving Your Spirit by thinking we know best. Help us not get hung up on past mistakes but freely accept your grace and walk forward with You. Thank You for protecting us from the enemy. Thank You for shining Your light on our sin. Thank You that as we acknowledge You, You make our ways straight (Proverbs 3:5-8). Amen.

Katie M. Reid Headshot

Katie M. Reid is a Tightly Wound Woman, of the recovering perfectionist variety, who fumbles to receive and extend grace in  the everyday moments of life. She delights in her hubby and four children and their life in ministry. Some of Katie’s favorite things are writing, singing, speaking and photography. She is a contributing writer for Purposeful Faith, God-sized Dreams and enjoys helping others take the next step in their relationship with Jesus and their God-given purpose. Katie would love to connect with you over on her blog, katiemreid.com.

Fighting Back Tough Times

Fighting Back Tough Times

So, I wrote a recent blog post, practically entitled, “The Great Purposeful Faith Hack Attack,” only to be faced with its aftermath yet again.  My site has been deeply compromised, injured internally and badly beaten. Poor thing.

But God’s Word hasn’t.

Jesus was badly compromised, injured and beaten, but his words last forever.
His touch, a lifetime.
His promises, forevermore.
His power, ever-flowing.

So, it all doesn’t really matter does it? In so many ways, anything can be stripped down to its core, but what always remains is the name of Jesus.

It is by him, for him and through him that everything is, was and is to come.

That’s it, my friends  – it all comes back to him, doesn’t it?

If only I can remember this day by day…
Children stripped of clothes, paint strewn all over furniture. Jesus.
Open and wounded emotions after an argument. Jesus.
A big denial after I outpour my heart. Jesus.
A moment of “Why did I do that?” Jesus.
Unhinged expectations. Jesus.

Worst case scenarios come true. Jesus.
Family scars. Jesus.

Sometimes it takes being beaten down to see Jesus’ enduring love –

his endurance that relieves our defiance.

Like a kid being chased, God endures after us, not to mock us, not to yell at us, not to show us what we did wrong, not to call us old labeled names, but to pour out pure and unadulterated love.

He chases us down as loved children because he cares. He sees us running around like chicken’s with our heads cut off. He sees our childlike ways, but he still loves us.

So much so, he takes our present condition of childhood and raises us up to a condition called eternally secure.

The more we are acquainted with suffering, the more we acquaint our eyes to see like Jesus.

Suffering tenderizes our heart.
It pulverizes our judgements of others.
It demolishes strongholds of fear.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean I have been praying for a miracle, because the alternative is tearing down, all that has been built up.

Sure, there is a time and place to be torn down, but, I have this sneaky feeling that if I can just grab hold of the lesson in the wait, I can steer clear of the lesson in the demolition. You know what I mean?

So, instead, I have been trying to take off the 3D glasses of fear:

The ones that seem to think that contentment revolves around joy, peace and comfort.
The ones that make me think I can charge through barriers God has permitted to stand.
The ones that keep me leashed to ideas that no one will like me.

My only thread line of hope is that I can see God’s simple truth and gentle guidance before me.

Gentle guidance. Because opposing God’s direction is tiring. Running against the wind, depletes me and injures my soul. It leaves me worn on the side of the yellow brick road that I thought led to happiness.

Lord, I can’t help but think, if I can only go with your wind, no matter how face-injuring, skin-drying and emotionally-depleting it may feel, that you will gently guide me right to where I need to be.

Sometimes, there is pain in the moment, but we can trust God’s love endures forever. He is much more concerned with His idea of forever, than our idea of a moment.

Crashing sites, lives, jobs and families are all being worked together for good as we trust God. We can trust that.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Don’t miss Part I – Protect Your Heart from Hackers

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God, Why Did You Lead Me Here?

God Led Me Here?

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I remember a time where I prayed and prayed for direction, only to feel certain that I was being led down a specific road.

I sought direction. I sought God through his word, but when I went down that road, things started going wrong.

While I had prayed God would provide; there was no money.
While I prayed God would make things succeed; there was no success.
While I prayed God would bring me through; it seemed God was stopping me.

With everything going wrong, I was tempted to wonder what was wrong with God. I was tempted to wonder why he had abandoned me to my fears.

Faced with doubts, I nearly embraced them.

What kind of God brings you to a scary, desolate land?

He brought me after I  honestly asked, prayed and knocked.
He brought me after I honestly called out.
He brought me after I honestly sought Him.

Why would God guide me into pain? Into suffering?

But, much like me, there was another, who was led into temptation.

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. (Mt. 4:1)

Can you imagine that the Spirit led Jesus into temptation?

That the Spirit led Jesus into a place where he didn’t eat for 40 days, a place where he was “with the wild beasts” (Mark 1:13) and a place where he had to stand up against the ultimate accuser seemingly alone?

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin. (Heb. 4:15)

His identity was questioned.
His authority was scrutinized.
His power was negated.
His trust in the Father was tested.
Yet, he did not sin.

He combatted every lie, with truth. He combatted every temptation with the active Word of God. He fought every blaspheme with courage.

“However, when He, the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth …” (John 16:13)

Jesus spoke all truth. Guided by the Spirit, he was a truth breather, a temptation extinguisher and a loved child of his most high King.

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. (Romans 8:14)

He knew his place.

Truth led him to the wilderness – and truth would bring him through.

We are under the authority of our Father, the Spirit and the Son. We are loved. Adored. Led.

But, our power always comes from remembering who is in charge, not who tries to be.
Our power comes from the one who is the definition of good not the tempter of bad.
Our power is found in knowing who is for us, not listening to who is against us.

Jesus’ final words to the devil were, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ (Mt. 4:10).

No matter what comes against, despite how “in God’s will” we feel, we are to know our role is to worship God – always. To lift him high- forever. And to trust him – in all things. To serve him – above all.

Because we can trust – if we truly have sought the will of God through the Word of God – that the we have been led to this precise place, for a precise purpose – in order that we may be shaped into Christ’s image with precision.

In this, fears, doubts and sin fall by the wayside.

As we combat temptation, we grow in faith.
As we fight the devil, we submit to God.
As we face our fears, we become fearless.
As stand alone, we seek God and we see him.
As we speak truth, we see the truth.

When we are courageous in the face of fear, bold in the face of fire, we do come out the other side – and we come out more faithful.  

The Spirit led us there for a reason.

Did you know that Jesus grew during this time of suffering too?

Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. (Heb. 5:8)

Make no doubt about it, the Spirit always has a purpose when he leads.

While we can’t always say what it is, or even question why it is, we can know that likely we are being built up through the trials to endure the big purposes the Lord has prepared for us in advance (example: Jesus on the cross).

We are being built up, so we won’t be torn down. We are being built up, to be strong. We are being built up, to endure the fires of life.

The question is – will we trust God or will we allow ourselves to fall into temptation?

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When Facebook Hurts

When Facebook Hurts

Tears welled up in my eyes. I felt hurt.

I saw the fun.
I saw the laughs.
I saw the friends.
I wasn’t there.
I wasn’t invited.
I was left out.

How do we cope when Facebook hurts you?  Because frankly, people open their lives up like books and sometimes we read into things only to feel left behind or insulted.

How do we overcome the laughs we weren’t a part of?
How do we get past the offensive words?
How do we move forward in love, when we feel hurt?
How do we let go of annoyances?

These were all things I struggled with as my heart broke a little.

I guess for me, it wasn’t just this person that hurt me, but it was all the little ways I saw I wasn’t being included.

I felt left out of the pictures, the recap comments and the moments.  I saw the smiles. I saw the joy. I saw the fun.

Where was I? How could they leave me out?

The small offenses all rushed over me.

But, then I got to thinking – have I really been pursuing others?

Because, no one is going to invite you into relationship if you aren’t available.
No one is going to welcome you to laugh, if you never welcomed them into your house.
No one is going to remember you, if you let the busyness of your day steal the good intentions of your heart.

I am so busy.

These Facebook pains walk me right up to truth –
the Lord loves relationship.

They also remind me that I can’t control what others do. They can do what they do, but God will always be here to help me through. People will hurt me. They will abandon me. They will drop me at the door. They will write things that offend. They will insult too.

But, we can find refuge in the Lord. We can seek his ways. So can you. Let’s open up to take risks, because we are kept under the safety of his wing – kept close, like a protected child.

Under his protection, he will show us how to act.
He will instruct us in truth.
He will arm us with the right mentality.

He releases us from the power of others’ insulting actions, so we may find freedom in the power of his unending love.

Frankly, we all offended Jesus. We actually offend him daily. We insult, we overlook, we leave him out.

But, does he stop loving us? Does he stop pursuing us? Does he still call us into relationship?

We prompts us to extend grace, just as he has.

So, let’s remember:

1.  We are who Christ says we are. Our identity is secure in Christ, not dependent on Facebook.
2.  We can’t expect to be pursued when we are not pursuing relationship.
3.  People are quick to speak and slow to think. We can be like this too.
4.  Jesus shows us unending grace; we can fall into his grace to extend grace.
5.  If we can let go of how others act on us, we can grab hold of how Christ wants us to act to others.
6.  The more we keep our eyes – and heart – on what is true, noble, upright and of good report, the more peace and joy that will be ours. Offenses lose their power.

The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these. (Mark 12:31)

Do to others as you would have them do to you. (Luke 6:31)

It strikes me that we can let go of insults, injury and inadequacies, when we grab hold of truth, God’s truth.

Because, truly, there is only one book that defines us – and it’s not Facebook.

The Gift of God-With-Us

Post by: Angela Parlin

For a couple months, we’ve looked forward to hosting two sisters, who are orphans, in our home this Christmas. We selected clothes for them to wear, rearranged bedrooms, stocked up on groceries, and scheduled outings. We shopped for Christmas gifts, wrapped them all in red and black glittery paper, and hid them in a closet.

It’s been great fun, preparing for Christmas and getting ready to welcome these little ones into our family for a month.

But then, this week happened, the last week before they arrive. You wouldn’t believe how many things went wrong. (As in, not according to plan.) My stomach feels knotted up. I’ve had to remind myself to breathe. I’m having a really hard time slowing down, especially enough to pray.

We’ve known all along that this could be an amazing month–or it could be a very difficult month. But it’s like this news just now caught up to my insides, for the first time. All the concerns, what ifs, and fears floated to the surface.

I want to look forward with faith, to anticipate great things from God. I don’t want to feel so incapable, or worry about details. I don’t want to give fear some big, shouty platform in my life.

But I don’t feel I have much control over my anxiety right now. So last night, I put myself to bed early. But first, I read a chapter of Luke, where an angel tells Mary she’ll give birth to Immanuel (God With Us). And then I fell asleep thinking about something he told her:

The Lord is with you.

We need that reminder, don’t we? Because sometimes, we know it in our heads, but we live as if we’ve completely forgotten.

Today, I’m still fighting anxiety, so I looked up some places where the Bible repeats this truth, The Lord is with you.

I read about Jacob, who dreamed of a stairway between heaven and earth, where the Lord stood and clearly said to him, I am with you. He woke up and realized, The Lord is in this place, and I did not know it. (Genesis 28)

I can relate. Can you? I have not felt the Lord with me this week. I’ve fixed my eyes on my concerns and to-do lists, more than I’ve fixed my eyes on Jesus. But the Lord is in this place, in this week, even when I don’t feel that way.

I read about Moses, when he considered himself unqualified to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. God said, I will be with you (Exodus 3), and then showed Himself to Moses in so many visible and miraculous ways.

I found numerous reminders of God’s nearness in the Psalms. The Lord is near to His children; The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. (34) God is an ever-present help in trouble. (46) The Lord is near to all who call on Him. (145)

I read parts of Isaiah, where the prophet shares these words from the Lord—So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41)

I read about when Jesus arrived in this world, as God-With-Us in the flesh. And then before He left again, He told His followers–Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28)

I could keep going, keep on finding this truth repeated.

The Word of God offers us this beautiful gift—The Lord is with you. It’s a truth we need to remember, and a truth we need to act on.

Whatever your struggle this Christmas, whatever your anxiety, whatever your pain, whatever difficulties you face, please remember this, friend–the Lord is with you. So take your concerns to Him!

God’s Word promises:

  • He will give you rest.
  • He will fill you with peace.
  • He will help you.
  • He will strengthen you.
  • He will give you what you need.
  • He will uphold you.

May we remember, the Lord is with us. Let’s unwrap the gift of God-With-Us this Christmas.

~Angela Parlin

ang3

Angela Parlin is a wife and mom to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos.