Purposeful Faith

Category - awe

When You Crave Things

When I was in college, I remember sitting in the car dealership, asking my dad, “Please dad, please! Can I get this car???”

The amazing thing was — my dad wasn’t buying it for me. Somehow, though, I needed his permission. Yet, I was the one walking out of the dealership with a title and a $500 monthly payment on a vehicle. It didn’t matter, I was enthralled. It seemed my whole life was about to change.

The car was a convertible. For the first week, I was internally on-fire every time I drove that car. I wondered if people were looking at me. I wondered if I could feel better than I did when I sat in those fire-red leather seats.

Then, the buzz wore off.

It wasn’t long until it became an ordinary car. It didn’t feel as special. It didn’t look as shiny. The rear window cracked a little. The monthly payments were taking a big chunk of my monthly paycheck.

“I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law. . . ” (Phil. 3:7-9 NLT)

Ten thousand times, I thought all these things were valuable, until. . .

One: They didn’t taste as good as Jesus.
Two:  Their joy ran out.
Three: I got bored with them.
Four: They actually became slavery.
Five: I wanted something else better.

What have you thought “was life”, only to find out– in the end –it wasn’t? A new car? A house? A better wardrobe? A new husband? A perfect job?

Everything pales in comparison when laid up against the One Thing, Jesus, who is everything. Treasures are trinkets once you get a taste Jesus’ love.

My heart, these days, wants to invest — less in goods — and more in love. What about you? What are you searching for? What do you believe will fulfill your greatest hopes, dreams, desires, and wishes?

“I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.  I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead.” (Phil. 3:9-10)

So, today, more than ever, I invest in faith.

Faith is to believe God, despite what you see; to trust God more than you know; to rest on God more than makes sense for your running mind to comprehend. Because it is faith that gets to know Christ and to experience His mighty power that, astoundingly, raised Him from the dead.

Prayer: God, today, I ask for a transfusion of faith to happen. I ask that every reader of this post would be filled with fresh faith that we would all feel on-fire for you. I ask that lesser things fade away and that you as the One Thing come into pre-eminent position. We want you. We need you. We trust you. Fill us with your love, power, and goodness. We ask to know you more. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

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Are You Experiencing A Dry Season?

Are you going through a dry season?

Maybe you are waiting for God’s help with your health, with your children, with your work situation or within your household. . . Maybe you’ve been calling out to God for years. . .  Like an arrow to your heart today, I hope to send you one simple message: don’t lose hope.

God cares for you.

Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Pet 5:7)

God knows exactly what you are facing.

The Lord looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man. (Ps. 33:13)

God is near and hears.

The LORD is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him in truth. (Ps. 145:18)

God looks to strengthen those with a heart for Him.

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.  (2 Chron. 16:9)

God will provide.

But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? (Mt. 6:30)

God will sustain you through whatever you face.

Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. (Ps. 55:2)

Worry accomplishes nothing; faith trusts God for everything. And sees heavenly results.

“By faith the people passed through the Red Sea…By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days. By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient. And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.” (Heb. 11:29-34)

Believe, even when you cannot see. Trust, even if you don’t have the way.

I know how hard it can be when it feels the world is falling on you or when you don’t know what to do, but if I’ve learned one thing, it is this: In the long run, God’s plan is always infinitely better than ours.

What we thought looked good, we later learn isn’t so good. What we thought we needed, would actually be our demise. The timing we demanded would have prevented us from going through a door we didn’t even know we’d need to enter.  The people that needed to be involved would be ready just a little bit later. God’s views are so high, He sees the map of all our ways, all the people involved and every outcome. He fashions things for our good and for his glory every time. We can trust Him. He is faithful, true and good.

 

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Monday Morning Prayer

Father God,

Today, we pause from our normal blog posts, to say thank you.  We pause from the busyness of our morning to honor you and to reconnect with you. We pause our mind to think of you. We set down our schedule to recognize all you’ve given us.

You are worthy of praise.

In the midst of life’s curveballs, you are worthy of praise. When we experience mountaintop successes, you are worthy of praise. When we dive into valley-low places, you are worthy of praise.

In all this, and through every learning, dream, failure, and realization…we say, “Thank you.” You are good and your love endures forever.

Jesus, thank you that you came and died to set us free. Thank you that your love changes us, time and time again. Thank you that by your stripes, and your stripes alone, are we healed.  Thank you that no matter how much the enemy spits at us, we remain covered by grace.

We rest in your mercy. We rest in your love. We rest in your love-equipping power. You are more than able to do all things, at all times, in any way, and we rest in that. This is peace.

Thank you that you love us so much.  You give us the giftings we do not deserve, blessings we could never afford and love unduly warranted. No matter, you rejoice over us with singing.

You want us. You chose us. You call us holy, because of Jesus.

When we truly and deeply think of you, you truly and deeply amaze us.

Your love is overwhelming and your guidance is unparalleled.  May we honor you, every day and in every way. When we feel overwhelmed, may we unwind through surrender and fall into your arms. You always rescue us. Even if we can’t swim; you rescue us. Time and time again. Therefore, we lean not on our own strength, wisdom, power or might. We lean onto you, the Author and Perfecter of our faith. We praise you for the grace that allows us to repent and realize sin. It is a good thing, a life-transforming thing. Anything that draws us nearer to you is — good.

All praises, all glory, all honor, all acclaim to your name. Nothing we can do can add to what you’ve already done. It is finished. Praise!  You did it. You. The Promise Maker, the Promise Keeper, and the Promise Ruler. Everything is in your hands; you have the whole world in your hands. You ARE the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and Omega, the Lion and the Lamb. We entrust ourselves to you. We love you. And you love us. And, for this, we are eternally thankful.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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The Assault of Distraction

“Get that (insert curse word) thing away from me!”

The man screamed at me with all his might. Not only did he scream, but rage filled him, his face became red and he appeared to want to beat me up. Very scared, I walked away. He caught up to me with his bike next to him. Fully aware he was there, I didn’t look his way. I just prayed with all my heart that he wouldn’t hit me and I kept walking. God answered my prayers. He passed by.

Now, that morning, I never set out to get verbally assaulted, but I suppose it was my fault. . .

I decided to go to the beach for a walk with God. My goal was to pray, connect with God and to listen to some worship music. I was in the zone. I was loving talking to Jesus. So, as I approached a beautiful scenic boardwalk that ended with the ocean in sight, I opened up my camera app; I wanted to remember the moment. I did see the far-off man a little to the right side of my picture frame, but he made the shot look even better, so I snapped the photo anyway.

And, that’s where my problem began. In retrospect, I didn’t consider that he may not have wanted a photo taken of him. I started to get angry at myself. I made a mistake. I should have been more thoughtful. I ruined my time with God.

It was as if, after this event, my connection to God was — gone.

And, here, it occurred to me that this whole encounter was symbolic of a greater issue: distraction.

If the enemy can’t keep us away from God, he’ll try to distract us away from Him.

How often does a to-do in your mind occur to you right when you start to meet with God?

How often does a text message come in right when you are praying?

How often do house-needs seem to demand you take care of them first?

In my case, a raging man wanted to steal away my time with God, but similarly, silent or quiet demands pull me away in the same way. Power comes when we recognize them for what they are and stay with God anyway.

If your mind gets distracted, just choose to return back to the last thought you can remember you had with God. He waits.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (Jer. 29:13)

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Love Often Feels Awkward

Riding bikes, my 7-year old turned to me and said, “Mommy, I want to go knock on that person’s door and let them know, ‘God loves them.’

Now, I did not know “that person” or how they would react to my son knocking randomly on their door. As I am sure you all know, I’m all about sharing God, but being a door-to-door solicitor for Jesus seemed, well. . . a little beyond me.

All the same, my heart was struck by the thought: If I want Michael to get to know God personally, I have to permit him to personally move towards God. In this, He’ll get to see God show up.

So, I gave him permission. My son parked his bike and I circled in the cul-de-sac with my daughter, trailer-in-tow.

Heart-pumping – while wondering if my child was about to be abducted – I carefully watched from the street. Yet, the more I watched the more I couldn’t believe it – both my son and the lady who he was now talking to were smiling and laughing. Then, the lady handed my son – what?!!! – cash. Yes, money. Her son took out cash and passed it to my son too.

What is going on?

I approached.

After introductions, the blonde lady with a son said, “You know, today at church it was amazing. Instead of taking a tithe, the pastor gave out cash – $10 to each person sitting in the aisles. He said, ‘Give it to someone who has impacted your relationship with God.’ I didn’t know what to do with the money. Earlier today, after church, I told my husband, ‘I have no idea who to give the money to.’ My husband told me, ‘Don’t worry, you’ll know.”

She went on, “And, here you are. You just showed up today. Right on time.”

We all laughed at the goodness of God. At how God sent Michael to this very house out of the dozens we’d bicycled by. . . At how God just “knows. . . ”

Her son said, “I don’t know, mom? This doesn’t really seem believable…”

And, so it is with God. When we submit to him, He does the unbelievable.

And, here, as I reflect back on this whole amazing set-up that God orchestrated, and my sons’ courage, I can’t help but think: It’s often risk-taking that lets us walk into God’s most amazing things. It is when we do things that are out-of-the-ordinary that we get to see God’s extraordinary moves. It is when we put ourselves “out there”, in love, that we feel God’s deep love making its way back into our hearts. It almost always feels comfortable.

I thank my little 7-year old for this “beyond-me” lesson on love.

With this, I wonder, how can you love extraordinarily today? How can you let someone know, “God loves them”, even if it makes you feel weird?

On Earth, you may never know the impact of your love, but I assure you, your love will never fail . . . ” (1 Cor. 3:18)

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Soul-Important Information

You matter.

Nowhere did Jesus tell people to “Who I created you to be doesn’t matter.” No time did Jesus look a woman in the eye and say, “You don’t matter as much as she does.” Not even once, did Jesus say to someone, “I have too much on my hands to help you.”

All of God is available to all of us. Right now.

Right here. Right now.

God never left you. He never got tired of your whining and left you. He never deserted you to your negativity. He never walked away from your hopelessness. He’s right here. Talk to him if you want to if you need to. He hears your cry. You matter.

At the same time, I believe, He’s not content where you are. He’s not content to leave you the same. Because He knows what He created you for. You were never meant to wallow. You were never meant to stay stagnant. You were never meant to call your comfortable place your dwelling place.

Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. (Col. 3:10)

Here, as if Jesus is calling us out of our shell — I believe, He desires hearts of radical obedience, far more than proclivities to modern-day conveniences.

I find TV convenient. I find shortcuts convenient. I find doing what the herd does convenient because it is easy and not shunned upon. But, I’m convicted, my desire for modern convenience can never shut off His sometimes random or impromptu calls to radical obedience.

If one keeps on shutting these off, their heart grows cold and hardened. There’s the real potential their conscience may get seared.

And, this is where a major problem presents itself.

You matter to God, but so do your choices. Do you pick God or other things?

Yes, God loves you

Yes, God cares about you.

But, also God cares for your daily choices.

Radical obedience knows when to turn away from modern conveniences (like a TV show that’s gone way-wrong, too much TV, staying in an area your supposed to leave, telling God no, gossip, slander, old routines, busyness, etc)

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

Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained. (1 Sam. 2:30)

This year, tear down every barrier, blockage, between you and God.  Tear down your TV, your fear of man, your self-hatred, your hibernation-like tendencies, your shopping issue…whatever…if you need to do so.

How? There’s no back-breaking pressure. Simply, ask God where to change and how. Submit to His plan. Take a small step. Keep doing it. You’re half-way there… Not by your power or might, but through the Spirit — choose to love God this year.

“If you love me, keep my commands.” (Jo. 14:15)

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How We Unknowingly Block God’s Plan

If anyone had the right to be bitter, it was Jesus…

“What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them.

“Crucify him!” they shouted.

“Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.

But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him! 

Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified. (Mk. 15:12-14)

Jesus did nothing wrong. Jesus stated the truth. Jesus was coming to do good. To help the people who wanted to hurt him. He had the best intentions. A pure heart.

Yet, he was completely misunderstood. Maybe you feel the same way today.

Maybe someone has accused you of something you didn’t do, or they’ve name-called you in the past, put you down, embarrassed you in front of other, charged you with something that you don’t deserve, criticized you in front of man, chosen someone else to get something better than you. . .

Maybe you feel like Jesus, unduly prosecuted by man.

I’ve noticed a couple of things along Jesus’ journey as it pertains to addressing hurts like these:

  • Saying less is saying more.

So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.” But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed. (Mark 4:5)

To lay down your defense is to find God’s. The King of Glory moves in (see Psalm 48 for more on this defense).

  • Giving up is not losing.

In worldly terms, a person who “surrendered” in war is the loser. They wave the white flag and they’re out. They lost. They gave up. Well, Jesus “gave up” too — “and when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit (Mt. 27:50)”.

By giving up, Jesus gained everything: our salvation, eternity and a complete shut-out of the eternal power of the forces of hell. Things are not as they look. If you give up to God the offenses you’ve been carrying, you’ll assuredly gain new life too.

  • Bitterness has to go to accomplish God’s plan.

Jesus was mocked, scorned, abandoned, rejected, mutilated, embarrassed, shunned, laughed at. . . If anyone had any right to feel bitter, it was Jesus. How did He fight this?

Notice these words that He spoke on the cross right before he “gave up his spirit”, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Lu. 23:34)

Jesus allowed no bitterness. He realized that we may not have realized what we were doing. Then, he forgave us. Who do you need to forgive?

Bitterness can be the biggest stopper to God’s plan in your life. Let it go.

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God will Put Everything “Right”

“I don’t know, I don’t have a crystal ball.” I’ve noticed this is a catch-phrase for financial analysts when on TV.  They love it. They’re point being, they have no idea what the market will do. No one knows. But, much like us, everyone wants to know…

I want to know what God is doing. I want to know why things have happened the way they have: I want to know the reason a family member passed away, why I am still stuck in different areas in my life and how God is going to show up in the future. I want to demand answers from God on many a day.

Tell me! I need to know.  Like Eve, I say, let me “know”, God!  ASAP!

Knowing is not always beneficial.

I keep Christmas gifts a surprise to my kids. Why? Because there is nothing better than seeing the joy written all over their faces when they open up that morning-surprise. I don’t tell them all the details about the “birds-and-the-bees” yet. Why? Because there is a right time for that message. I don’t let my son see what’s on those late-night cable channels. Why? Because wisdom says, “He doesn’t need to see that — ever.”

Have we ever considered? Not knowing makes us fortunate.

“David confirms this way of looking at it, saying that the one who trusts God to do the putting-everything-right without insisting on having a say in it is one fortunate man…” (Romans 4:8 MSG)

You don’t have to know the whys.

Or, understand the whens.

Or, get answers to every question you have.

God will put-everything-right.

Blessed is the man who trusts God to put-everything-right, without knowing-every-nitty-gritty-detail regarding how.

Our knowledge doesn’t make things right, God’s good work does. It handles all those things we most fear.

“…Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (Jo. 20:29)

When we believe anyway, we are blessed. When we trust, we are fortunate.

Where do you need to let go of any unresolved pain, bitterness, grief, misunderstanding, anger or worry? Where do you need to let God off-the-hook for the answers, in order to find peace? Where do you need to bask in the fortunate you’ve obtained; the fact that, for you, God no longer “keeps score” of your sin? (Ro. 4:7 MSG) Today is the day. Ask God to forgive you for carrying around these burdensome demands; let His help come in and rescue you.

God will put-everything-right.

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Learn more about Kelly’s new book, Battle Ready: Train your Mind to Conquer Challenges, Defeat Doubt and Live Victoriously.

Intimate Words from a Father

I love how God wants to speak to us, intimately. Through prayer, I have gotten such a glimpse for his heart for me, for you and for all we are facing.

This is how I believe God might want to speak, personally to you today… Oh, how I hope these words and bible verses speak to the deep of you!

My child,

What you cannot see, I can. I know the plans I have for you – for prospering – and not for harming you. What would it look like for you to really trust me? To lean on me? To know me?

(Kelly’s response: I guess, God, it would look like me: seeing you in all things, choosing to ask for help, waiting on you, and having a willing heart to change).

Daughter, I know your path. I see the end goal and how I’ll get you there. If you will follow me, all these things will be added onto you. Truly, you come into what you most want, when you most want me.

(My response: God, will you help me to most want you?)

It is a joy to teach you. But, like a child with their hands over their ears, I can’t give what you won’t let in. Will you be willing to hear me in new ways?

(My response: God, I need your help. I want to.)

I am a good teacher. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go. With my loving eye upon you: I will not fail you. Hold my hand. Follow me. There is increase for you. I am the creator of all things. Imagine what I can create in your life. Don’t rule out my goodness. If I sent Jesus to die for you, how much more will I do for you?

Lean on me. It’s okay to relax on my strength. You can trust me to hold you up. To equip you. To engage your heart in a tender way that changes you. I am good to you. In me, you’ll find rest.

(My response: Yes, God, I want that. I really do. I want to know and love you more. May you pour out the grace for me to draw near to your heart.)

Love,

Your daddy

Bible Verses to Ponder:

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. (Ps. 32:8)

Whoever has ears, let them hear. (Mt. 11:15)

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)

He has said: “This is the place of rest, let the weary rest; this is the place of repose.” But they would not listen. (Is. 28:12)

 

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Learn more about Kelly’s new book, Battle Ready: Train your Mind to Conquer Challenges, Defeat Doubt and Live Victoriously.

Mom, You’re Fat

She said (with all the wisdom that 5-years brings a girl): “Mom, how come other moms have bodies that go straight-down? And, you’ve got a body that goes out on the sides? Your back side is big too.”

I said: “Hmm…Madison, that’s true. Some moms do have bodies that go straight down.”

She said: “Mommy, you’re fat.”

I said: “Oh really?”

I fretted: Maybe I really am – fat?

Yes. My sides are bigger. My hips are larger. My silhouette is more pear-shaped than stick-shaped. She’s right about that. In this moment, I almost wanted to rush to the mirror to check myself out. Maybe I’d become disillusioned about own figure? Perhaps I was a whole lot bigger than I’d realized. I do see myself every day. Those kinds of things can inch-up on a woman.

She said: “Mommy, what made you fat?”

How does one answer this…?

I made me – fat?
God made me – look fat?
I am not – fat?

Here, I thought back to how she didn’t want me to hug her in class the other day. She pushed me away. Was it because — I’m fat? Maybe I need to go on a workout plan. Maybe I need to stop those afternoon ice-cream digs for peanut butter cups. Maybe I need to walk some more…

And then reality hit me, much like her words: God could care less about fat. Indeed, He wants me to love His temple, but, where man looks at our outsides; God looks at our heart.

“For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7)

“Madison,” I said. “God made us all shapes and sizes. He loves all of us the same. It is not how we look that makes us lovable, better or more valuable, but Christ inside of us that makes us special.”

Who knows if I got through to her. It’s a scary thing to send a girl out in this raging pressure-filled world. But, perhaps, I can get through to you and me today…

Here are my thoughts about this:

  1. We’re not a product of our pants-size, but the product of God’s love dwelling inside.
  2. We’re not conformed to the image of this world, but we’re being transformed into the beautiful likeness of Christ.
  3. Grace abounds.  If we need help, He who IS help has more than enough help to help us.
  4. Internal or external insults can’t stick to us when we’re covered by the full acceptance, love, and approval of Jesus.
  5. Jesus is not in the business of weighing us, He’s in the business of pouring out the full weight of His love on us.

In God’s love, even if there’s an extra 5 or 50 pounds we need to shed, we remain: wanted, love, kept, desired, approved of, accepted, valuable and full of Jesus.  God looks at us with love; He doesn’t spend one ounce of time hating our outsides. And, if He doesn’t, why should we?

You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you. (Song of Solomon 4:7)

Is weight a battle for you? Or, are you going through a different kind of battle in your life? A battle of discouragement, disappointment, frustration, loneliness, fear, worry or doubt? You may be interested in reading my latest book, “Battle Ready: Train your Mind to Conquer Challenges, Defeat Doubt and Live Victoriously.” Many women have found liberation, restoration, renewal and life-change from its pages. I believe, God will do a mighty work as you read it. XOXO!  Check it out today!

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