Purposeful Faith

Tag - purpose

On Numbing Out

Post by: Karina Allen

A few weeks ago my Pastor began talking about all things summer. Summer is great and all, but as a single with no kids, my summer pretty much just looks like the rest of the year. My church schedule does lighten a bit. But long gone are my college days where I had summers off. For so many of my friends, however, a summer schedule is a real thing. Summer can be amazing! It can hold endless down time, late start mornings, night owl bedtimes, unhurried rhythms, traveling adventures and untapped brain power.

On the other hand, summer can bring a whole new set of unintended circumstances. I have learned that so much idle and unpurposed time can be just the open door the enemy desires. My Pastor has been determined for our church to not fall into a summer slump or to fall victim to the schemes of the enemy or simply going through the motions. I love that his heart is for us to experience as much of God or more of God than we would during the rest of the year.

Summer doesn’t discriminate, nor does it hold back on the issues of life. Relationship drama, financial distress, all manner of loss, hurt feelings, etc… can all be experienced during these hotter than necessary months. It is just as important to stay plugged in to both the Lord and to community.

Do not forsake the ‘Secret Place’.

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

The upside of summer, if your schedule does become laid back, is just that, it’s laid back. There is no need to be somewhere all the time at a certain time. That sounds like the perfect opportunity to dive deep into time with God, even if you have littles running around. My amazing friend Lindsey has literally been living this out with her 4 kids. She is a single, stay at home mom. She has been walking through really hard marital challenges, but she decided to let that bring her closer to God instead of push her away. Then, she made the best decision. She decided to bring her kids along on the journey. They read devotions together along with books about missionaries. They pray and worship. It is beautiful to watch her kids fall in love with the Savior simply because she has chosen to put God first and cultivate an atmosphere of intimacy with the Lord. She doesn’t know where this extra time comes from. All she knows is that He multiplies it as she continues to be obedient in keeping Him the center of her family.

Do not forsake a persevering spirit.

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

Seeing as how, trials and hardships don’t take a break during the summer, it’s key for us to keep up the fight. The enemy is after our minds and emotions and callings and lives. When we become complacent or too familiar with God and the things of God, he takes full advantage of those moments.

It is extremely tempting to become inactive and forsake our time with God or serving or being committed to the Church. I want this summer to be the opposite. I want to have some of the most intimate times with God. I want to have some of the best times in corporate gatherings. I want to have some of the wildest adventures with community. I want to have some of the sweetest times meeting the needs of those around me.

Summer is not the time to give in to an anything goes mentality. It is not the time to numb out. Now is the time to press in and watch a mighty move of God take place.

How are you or can you keep from numbing out and pursue a deeper relationship with the Lord this summer?

 

About Karina Allen

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

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

 

 

When You Don’t Feel Gifted

Not gifted

Baseball. It taught me who I am and what to never, ever, do.

It all started on the bus ride to a game…

“Hey….Kelly,” the men’s Italian voices echoed in unison as I walked down the center aisle, clothed brightly in both team colors and Disney World-like smile. Breathing it all in, I could fully sense the air of excitement: it smelled like Syran-wrapped ham sandwiches with American cheese, it sounded like a portable pre-game radio talk and it felt like the freedom of crunched peanut shells underfoot.

Crackerjack box in hand, I left that bus and walked the stands like I owned the place. This day, I’d be – encourager. The fans would hear my chants, they’d see my team colors and, like last year, I’d start the wave. No doubt, where two or more are gathered, my sister and me? We’d move mountains – or the masses in this case.

We did. We cheered and the wave moved the stadium. The game was groundbreaking. I didn’t watch a lick of it. Still, I learned: she who thinks she is small is big when she let’s loose God’s gifts within her.

I liked that idea, very much. What I didn’t like was all this talk about the pitcher’s slump. Apparently, he lost his luck, which was ironic since he did a little song and dance before every pitch. Plus, I couldn’t figure out how he could possibly be in a “slump.” He was still the same man as yesterday. He wasn’t hurt or crippled. He could still throw 102 miles an hour. He still was strong and powerful. Yet, somewhere along the line, his mind failed him. I guess he figured, “I’ve lost my effectiveness,” or “I’m a fraud.” Maybe he thought, “They’ll all laugh at me if I do bad” or “I really never was as good as I thought.”

That pitcher? The fear that stole his could, was the mindset of – I can’t.

I’ve had his mind of anxiety lately – one of I can’t. I can’t act godly enough. I can’t love my kids well enough. I can’t do what God is calling me to. I can’t find my way. I can’t get out of the hole of discouragement. God can’t really love me, can he?

Fear has sent me to left-field looking for daisies.

And that gift of encouragement? The one that rises people out of their seats, the one that can move masses, the one that sings Jesus’ name? It’s a crumb in the bleachers.

What gift of God feels lost? Frightened away by fears?

What spiritual base of – I can – through Christ – has been stolen by the mindset of – I can’t?

Perhaps, like the pitcher, we recognize, our mind may say we can’t, but the grace of Jesus says, “We can.”

Grace says we are:

Loved beyond the very definition of the word.
Cared for infinitely and intimately.
As much saved today as yesterday.
As free as the grave is empty.
As victorious as Jesus is lion.
As gifted as always.
Irrevocably called.

Our mindset doesn’t define us, a mind set on Christ does.

Choose to win.

Baseball is a fight to win. So is the Christian walk. You can’t walk out on the field of dreams without the armor of grace, truth and love. That’s a fight in futility friends. I’ve played like that – in defeat – for 36/38ths of my Christian life. I remained – slumped.

Sure, I knew Scripture.
Sure, I knew about God.
Sure, I knew the right thing to do.
But, surely it was in my head, not my heart.

A switch must occur. Have you heard of a switch-hitter? It is a player who can hit from either side of the plate. God is calling us to switch to a new mindset that can attack any fear, fret or fury from any side. With a mind set on Christ, led by the power of the Holy Spirit, nothing can stop us.

Today, let’s be switch-hitters – ones with eyes set on Christ, ones ready to fight -and win.

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What is Your Go?

Your Go

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

Post by: Suzanne Stelling

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you listening for God’s direction?

Leading?

And scriptures that invoke action?

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

Where is God telling you to GO on His behalf?

 What directions is He giving you today? 

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

Listen and discern His GO for your life.

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

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

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

About Suzanne Stelling

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

The Incredible Power of a Small Pause

I gripped my chin, thinking, I need to reach out and ask her if there was a problem with me. I couldn’t figure out why she didn’t seem to be progressing forward with the work I had turned in. I knew, it must be – what I had done wasn’t good enough. She thought my work was horrible, trash-worthy, and she just didn’t know how to tell me. She was avoiding me. The hair on my skin rose with the awkwardness I was about to approach.

I typed the email.

Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut. (Prov. 10:19 MSG)

Rather than pressing play on my mouth
was God called me to press – pause?

I waited, staring at the cursor. So much time had passed and she had given me nothing. Still, God says it wise to wrangle wild words. I minimized the screen, considered the thought and went along with my day, wondering, often, if I should text.

What harm would it do? At least I would know. At least I could tie down my emotions, rather than having them fly everywhere.

pause

Often, our greatest goal when we charge is to change our feelings. I knew many of my words were about me feeling good, and not about producing a good and Godly outcome. They were about me knowing – now. They were about me feeling – happy. They were about me getting answers – so I knew I was worthy.

He who restrains his words has knowledge, And he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Prov. 17:26

A cool spirit. It sounds light. It sounds like a refreshing breeze. It sounds easy. Understanding arrived: She is busy. I can offer her space.

Press pause, Kelly.

A week passed, and an email arrived. It was from her. She saw my work and not only wanted to use it, but in a more prominent capacity. God knew all along.

You never know God’s good cause,
being worked through your pause.

You want his hand ruling over your outcome, not your hasty mouth.

What I know now is I could have ruined it all by racing in to rectify my feelings. I could have spoiled what God was growing up in the perfect timing. I could have missed a growth opportunity in patience. They can be the hardest kind.

How do you do with opportunities of patience?
When do your feelings call out to you to “fix” things?
Do you speak a heap of demands or from a heart of love?

I realize now. I can lay back. Why?  Because what I want to rush into, God is already in.

One God and Father of all,
who is over all and through all and in all. Eph. 4:6

He is in it and is carving spiritual and emotional strides.  He is ironing everything out. He is making all things work together for his good, my good and the good of the entire story that extends beyond my here and now. I can trust that. I can believe in that. I can hope in that.

pause
For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving… (1 Tim. 4:4)

And, so, what small wait, what unheard response or what dead end – in those, I will remember God is there and because he is there, goodness is there. It is who he is, it is what he does and it is simply the only thing he can ever produce.

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A Titus 2 Wake Up

Wake Up

It is with great excitement that I welcome Debbie Hopper to Ministry Monday! Debbie brings heart, wisdom and passion. Her experience shines. Even more, I found her words to be a soothing lesson for a worrier like me. I hope you enjoy this post as much as I did! 

It was the first week of January 2016 and my goal setting was in full swing.  But as I looked ahead to the next six months, there was a date looming on the horizon that stopped me in my tracks :  my 60th birthday.

It just didn’t seem possible…
Children growing up?  Yes! 
Daughters getting married? Yes!  
Becoming a grandmother? Yes!  
Caring for aging parents?  Yes!  

But turning 60 and getting the infamous AARP card?  I had only blurred images associated with this decade and they were scaring the daylights out of me:

·       My Dad died at 63 after spending his last 8 years in a wheelchair

·       My Mother did a few adventurous things after he died, but her health declined by 70

·       Most women ahead of me on this journey seemed to be slowing down or checking out

The Lord needed to give me a fresh download, a picture of what He saw for my sixties, to give me a new vision and a renewed spirit about embracing this milestone.

And of course, He answered.

“Call out to me and I will answer you,
and will tell you great and hidden things
that you have not known.”  
Jeremiah 33:3

First, He very sweetly (but firmly) reminded me of all the great and marvelous things He had done in my life over the past 59 years.  Times He rescued me, protected me, redeemed me and poured favor over me when I didn’t deserve it.  The thought that kept coming to me was:

You gave me my first breath and will take away my last.  Who am I to question any breath in between?

Next, He led me to dig deep and study what it really means to be a Titus 2 Woman.  Whenever younger women had referred to me as their Titus 2 in the past, I would just shrug or smile and accept it as a compliment.  But study it?

The LORD was giving it to me as marching orders:

1.     Tell everyone to follow God’s Word

2.     Teach older women:

  •  To be holy in their behavior
  • Not speaking against others (gossip)
  • Not addicted to wine/drink/food
  • Teaching what is good

3.     Teach younger women:

  • Love their husbands
  • Love their children
  • To be self-controlled, wise and pure
  • To be a model of good works at home
  • To be kind, show integrity and dignity
  • To yield to their husbands

4.     Always use the Gospel as the source for godliness

The limitations we seWake Upe, are often doors God knocks open through Godly instruction.

Where do you need to see past
limitations, restrictions, age or beauty?

For the first time, 60 held the promise of fulfilling work as I pursued that inseparable link between faith and practice, belief and behavior.   There was a renewed excitement in my spirit. He had not only answered me, but offered purpose and meaning to the days and years ahead.

I felt new wind behind me. In fact, I began planning a harbor cruise with the Daughters.  For it seemed worthy of celebrating all He has done. I was ready to sail into sixty with new hope.

Are you dreading a date on the calendar or waiting anxiously for a new day? Wherever you are, Sisters, let’s embrace the days with His goals instead of our go-to worries.

And, maybe, if you are fortunate, like me, you may even end up with a Senior Discount or something…

Debbie Hopper bio

debphotoDebbie felt called into the ministry at age 16, and spent the early part of her life serving the body and working in the corporate world until her God appointment into full-time ministry 8 years ago.  As a Minister and Director of Women’s Ministry at Seacoast Church in Mt. Pleasant, SC, Debbie has the honor of serving under the leadership of Pastor Greg Surratt, the ARC network founder.

Married for 22 years to an amazing man of God who is a Project Engineer by day and a Leader of Men by night, they have 3 Daughters, 2 Son-in-loves and 9 Grands.

To recharge from long days of ministry, Debbie enjoys Date Nights with The Hubby, long chats with The Daughters at Starbucks, reading, gardening, archery and photography.  You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: debhopper

Doing Less in Order to Gain More

Doing less
Post by: Katie M. Reid

Do more, be more.

You’re not enough, you must work harder.

Do more, be more.

You have value if you produce.

Do more, be more.

You are worthy if you succeed.

These are the chants I live by.

Tightly-wound tendencies, cultural demands, and lies from the pit—that’s what they are.

When I listen, which is far too often, I get stuck in a pattern of striving, driving, and running out of gas. I get cranky, I don’t get enough sleep, and I’m left feeling discouraged.

I’m on a vicious cycle straight towards burnout when I live this way.

My brother Brian has Down Syndrome. He has great purpose even if he can’t contribute to society in typical ways. He lives a simple life. His routine is quite structured and predictable.

Brian is a gift. He knows when to give a timely word like, “You’re great,” or “I love you-oo”.

Brian also has a knack for picking out just the right Scripture that summarizes the sermon being preached. Just the other day, as the pastor was speaking about not giving up, Brain quickly turned to Isaiah 40:31:

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” -NLT

Brian doesn’t have to work harder to be deemed enough. So, why does his big sis struggle to apply what she believes is true about him?

I feel handicapped in my ability to change. My head listens to the lies and yet my heart knows the truth. Somewhere between the short distance from brain to heart I have lost the ability to grasp grace. I have exchanged dependence for self-reliance. I keep trying to do more and be more so that I feel like enough, valuable, and worthy.

So the other day, I finally said, Okay God, I can’t make these changes on my own. I feel helpless. I do what I don’t want to do, but I can’t seem to find my way out of this unhealthy pattern. Would You please help me?

It seemed that Jesus responded with a knowing smile and something like this, Well, My child, it’s about time you acknowledged that you can’t do this without My help. Now we can make real progress.

You see, self-sufficiency is my go-to sin that doesn’t usually work out so well. I try and try and try a little harder but I eventually end up ready to give up…and then I go to Jesus for help—realizing that I don’t really have what it takes.

Why do I wait to give the S.O.S until it’s too much? Why don’t I go to Jesus first and admit my need?

We often have a false perception that we can handle it, manage it, and produce it on our own strength, intellect, and know-how. But He is truly the Sufficient and Capable One.

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

-Matt Maher, Lord I Need You

We are studying the book of Matthew in Bible study this semester and it struck me how Jesus was led by the Spirit. He was also intentional, faithful, and completed tasks. However, He wasn’t harried, hurried or hustled. He didn’t seem to rush.

I want to be more like Jesus—purposeful yet full of peace.

Since the “do more, be more” mantra isn’t working out so well, I want to adopt a new chant to undergird my days.

Do less, gain more.

Trust God to work even when you’re not.

Do less, gain more.

Stay hidden in Him while He fights for you.

Do less, gain more.

Give God room to make you bloom.

As God cocoons us in His love we stop striving and let Him work. At the right time we emerge, a new creation, ready to glorify Him.

We don’t have to muster up worth through tasks upon tasks. We are enough because Christ is enough. We don’t have to produce to be valuable. We have value because Jesus died on our behalf. We don’t have to be enough. We have a God who is enough for us.

Let’s do less striving and let’s gain what truly matters—a dependent relationship on the One who came to set us free from the rat race of sin.

As we hide ourselves in Him we are found. As we let go we find peace. As we life the surrendered life, led by the Spirit, and secure in Jesus’ love, we are home.

P.S. Jesus loves you-oo.

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

Author & Speaker Katie M. Reid image by Adopting Nations

Katie M. Reid is a tightly wound woman, of the recovering perfectionist variety, who fumbles to receive and extend grace in everyday moments. She delights in her hubby, four children (and one on the way) and their life in ministry. Through her writing, singing, speaking and photography Katie encourages others to find grace in the unraveling of life.

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

I Am Tired of the Sidelines

the Sidelines

Post by:Karina

I’ve been thinking, maybe obsessing, about dreams, purpose and calling. I’ve been thinking about my present circumstances and where I’d like to see my life in 10, 20  and 50 years. Many times, people have a gift or skill or talent that is obvious. It stands out. It gets them noticed. That’s not me. More often than not, I feel completely average. I’m not saying average is a bad thing. I’m just saying that I don’t often think I stand out. And that’s okay as well.

Over the past year or so, my dear friend Aimee has been speaking over our lives that we have in many ways been placed in a hidden place by the Lord . We have skills and talents and gifts, but we’re not necessarily flashy and in the forefront. I’m sure many of you feel the same way.

Over the past several years, I have literally watched friend after…both online and in my everyday life, launch businesses and non-profits. It feels like everyone else’s dreams are coming true. I feel left behind.

For me, being in this hidden place has caused me to shrink back from stepping out in faith and taking chances. By nature, I’m not a risk taker, but I want to be more of one. I want to take the risk that trusts God and builds His Kingdom.

Some aspects of calling and purpose have come to mind as it relates to what I can do and the timing of it all.

God works in His own timing.

“And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” Luke 1:45

There are several truths wrapped up in this one verse. It refers to blessing, patience in waiting and fruition. The time of waiting between our now and our future can either make us break us. So much of our character is forged during this time. It is here where we come to know and truly believe the promises that God has spoken to us. It is here where we push past what we can see in the natural and trust that God is working in the unseen.

We are co-laborers with Christ.

“For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.” 1 Corinthians 3:9

We have a part to play in our dreams, calling and purpose. It doesn’t all rest on our shoulders. Praise God! But, we have work to do! This is the fun part! We get to embrace who God  has created us to be and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. Before the foundations of the world, He prepared good works for us to do. And the beauty of that is that He has equipped us uniquely for each of these good works. There is a deep satisfaction in playing a small role in God’s great story.

Seek the giver of the dream more than the dream itself.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

Dreams are great! For the believer, they are God-given and God-sized, but scripture clearly tell us that is God who brings the increase. A man plan’s way but it is God who directs our steps. We can strive and hustle and take situations into our own hands. We can speak pretty, persuasive words, but if all of that wasn’t birthed in the heart of God, it will all fail.

Only God’s plans are guaranteed for success.

He will always bless those plans. We are to seek His heart, His purposes, His truth, His way and His Kingdom. He will take care of the rest.

He will fulfill the desire of our hearts when our desire is for Him.

Cheer on those who are stepping into the fulfillment of their dreams.

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Sometimes I think I have this one under control. Other times, I know I don’t. It frustrates me to no end because I am an encourager. God has gifted me with this. It comes so naturally most of the time. Sometimes, I have to work at it. The times where I have to work at it are the times when my friends are getting opportunities that I’d do anything to have. I don’t begrudge them, but I would like to have them as well. I easily fall into the scarcity mentality that believes an opportunity for someone is one less opportunity for me. This just simply isn’t true. It’s a lie from the enemy.

He wants us to be divided and warring against each other. But, the heart of God is for unity and oneness. The best way to combat this battle of comparison is to cheer wildly and pray fervently for one another. We need to believe the best for one another and call out the gold in them.

A win for my sister is a win for me.

A win for me is a win for her.

So no more sideline living for me! I am going to chase hard after my Jesus, confident in who He says that I am and trusting in His goodness. He’s got everything else!

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

BjBC4hzU

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

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

Learn How to Grow Effectively in Faith

Learn how to grow and be set free to bloom by Katie M. Reid for Kelly Balarie's Purposeful Faith

Post by: Katie M. Reid

Grow in Faith

Spring is just around the corner and I’m so glad. What a thrill it will be to see daffodils peeking their heads through the once barren ground.

As this new season emerges I want to be ready to enter it—ready for what’s coming next—not just Spring but for the plans my Savior has for new life.

But how do we effectively grow in our faith?

When we focus on these four areas, I think we will be in great shape for what’s coming.

G- Grace

R- Rest

O- Outside Help

W- Worship

Step 1: Grace

When we receive God’s grace and extend it to ourselves and others we position ourselves to live unhindered by the weeds of sin that threaten to choke us. The enemy likes to wrap his lies around our roots and stunt our growth with his schemes. Let’s says “no” to the sins that easily entangle and expose the culprit that tries to trip us.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. –Hebrews 12:1

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. –Ephesians 6:11

Maybe the weeds that overwhelm are stubborn things like discouragement, doubt or fear?

Maybe the schemes sent to stunt growth are sneaky things like pride, legalism or isolation?

As we sow in grace we lay the ground work for growth.

Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. All glory to him, both now and forever! Amen. –2 Peter 3:18

Step 2: Rest

It might seem counterintuitive to rest, but it is necessary in order to facilitate optimal growth. My tween daughter is growing up and she requires more rest as her limbs are stretching and lengthening, and her emotions are swelling in greater ways than before.

Rest is important to prepare us for what’s coming. If we neglect it I believe we stunt our growth. As we rest we communicate trust in the One who makes each beautiful blossom, in His time.

Let’s bend to God’s ways of doing things.

Step 3: Outside help

Are we depending on the Lord to grow us or mustering up gumption to become something great?

Are we insistent on being a lone bloom or do we gather near to those who have gone before us, to help us blossom more beautifully?

As we allow the Master Gardener to cultivate and others to support, uplift and help us see blind spots, we become more fragrant and strong.

Don’t go it alone. Learn to depend on the One—and the ones He gives you—to help you stay the course and emerge in full bloom with the coming of Spring.

Step 4: Worship

We grow in important ways when we acknowledge where our beauty and strength originate. When we offer ourselves as living sacrifices and lift our limbs in worship to Jesus, we become properly aligned and rightly focused on the Son.

It’s tempting to let ourselves overshadow the true Light. Don’t be tricked into worshiping the creation instead of the Creator (see Romans 1:25). As we allow our roots to go deep—grounded in His Truth—and bend with the wind of His Spirit, we become firmly planted in soil that sustains.

As we worship, even through rainy times, we offer up a fragrant aroma to the One we made us from seed.

Through grace, rest, outside help and worship…we learn how to GROW and are set free to BLOOM.

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Katie M. Reid AuthorKatie M. Reid is a tightly wound woman who fumbles to receive and extend grace in everyday moments. She delights in her hubby, four children (and one on the way) and their life in ministry. Through her writing, singing, speaking and photography she encourages others to find grace in the unraveling of life. Connect with Katie at katiemreid.com.

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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Don’t Let Comparison Steal Your Purpose

comparison steal your purpose

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

The morning was full of potential. I got up on time, didn’t check social media, and made the kids breakfast.

Then, after dropping my son off at the bus stop, I checked my email. And everything went downhill.

The intent of the message was positive. My reaction to it was not.

This successful blogger wanted to let me in on all of the secrets to success. And I’m sure deep down somewhere that I craved this knowledge.

But what I saw? The numbers. How many readers visited her site. How much income she brought in each month. It was though these stats represented some invisible gate-keeper and I was stuck on the outside, pushing a door that wouldn’t budge.

Comparison turns our vision into opposition. It turns our joy into jealousy.

As I sat there that Tuesday morning basking in self-pity, and knew I needed an attitude adjustment. And do you know what’s beautiful about asking God to change your attitude?

He always answers.

Sometimes he asks us to take a good long look at ourselves. Other times he sends a word of encouragement through a friend or family member. But he never fails to deliver.

On this particular weekend in mid-winter, he drew my attention to my kids. Particularly my oldest son.

My firstborn delights in new responsibilities, no matter how small. You can give him the house key to open the side door as you labor up the steps with groceries, and he will skip to complete the task.

But more than that, he does it with love. Which is something I forgot in my moment of temporary insanity and comparison.

As my son grows older, my husband and I increase his jobs around the house. He takes care of the pets and helps clean up around the house, and we reward him for his efforts. But we don’t start him off with a huge list of chores to do. Nor do we trust him things we know are beyond his ability.

If we look at scripture, God follows the same pattern. When we first read of God’s call on David he is out in the middle of a field, tending sheep. When the angel of the Lord appears to Moses, he is tending the flock as well.

The Lord is pleased when we take the same care with the small as we do with the big. As a matter of fact, the Word tells us he “rejoices” in it.

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…” Zechariah 4:10 NLT

Friends, God does not see our work in the same way we do. And aren’t you glad? With each step you take to glorify his name and make him known, he is honored. He rejoices over you.

The absolute best words we could expect to hear from God on the other side of this life are, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Not, “Congrats on all the followers you had on Twitter,” or “That was a really solid platform you spent all those years building.”

It’s his platform, not ours. Let’s remember that even in the small, he is always faithful.

Even when we misstep.

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Abby McDonald is a writer who can’t contain the lavish love of a God who relentlessly pursues her, even during her darkest times. When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, she loves hiking, photography, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.

Abby would love to connect with you on her blog, Twitter, and Facebook.