Purposeful Faith

Category - doubt

Bringing Life to What Looks Dead

“Look!” I said.

All four of us turned our head to look out the car window. Dozens of buzzards were feeding on a dead dear. It’s gross, I know.

They devoured it. They were shredding it. They were ruthless.

All this got me to thinking. . . the enemy feeds on death.

Whereas, “Jesus is . . . life.” (John 11:25)

When I am filled with Jesus, I am filled with life. There is nothing for the enemy to feed on. When I am filled with the Spirit, I abounding in the spiritual. There are no wounds for the enemy to gnaw open. When I am praying to the Father, there is no decay the enemy can use against me.

I realize, for many of us the attacks, the discouragement, the devastating news, the demoralization around us, the lay-offs are prevalent around us. I have seen it too. I know it is hard sometimes.

But, some of us need to do an about-face and look at life again — from a different angle. We need to look to Jesus. Because, the enemy is feeding off your despair, discouragement, and doubt. And, you’ve let Him for far too long.

The tide changes when you look full in Jesus’ face. When you access, remember and meditate on His mercy and grace.

Do something new.

Tell your own spirit, “No more. Then, remind yourself: ‘Jesus is resurrection and life. He can bring back, restore or renew anything.”

Then, focus on His names:
King of Kings
Light of the World
Prince of Peace
Son of God
Lamb of God

Remember what He’s done, look full in His face — and let Him bring you, again, new life.

“Jesus said to the dead man, “Young man, I say to thee, arise!” And he who was dead, sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.” (Lu. 7:14-15)

Prayer: God, give me eyes for you. Above all I see, I want to see you. I ask for you to grant me deeper knowledge of your providence and care. Will you help me to take my eyes off of the heaviness that surrounds so that I might see and seek your face, in full? Give me grace to know and love you more. Come to my rescue. Bring life to what appears dead. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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God’s Soil is Life

You all should know by now that I love taking walks. I go outside and just enjoy the air. Usually, I look at trees and all around. But the other day, a singular flower caught my eye. All by itself, it poked out of a massive pile of leaves within a wooded area. But, there it was. It stood bright.

Then, my kids and I approached our house after a day-out, and right in the middle of the mulch was another one. A flower. It popped up out of nowhere right in our mulch. Amazingly, there are not other flowers of its kind. But, there it was. Bright as day.

This morning, I walked through a grassy area and — guess what caught my eye? A purple flower shooting up. There weren’t any around it. Just an isolated flower.

Something woke up in me: God’s full-ability to turn any wilderness-wasteland into beauty. He specializes in this.

You see, what we see as ‘a nothing area’ or a ‘blah area’ is actually fertile ground for God’s growth. It doesn’t matter how we perceive it; it matters how God sees it.

God can do anything, anywhere. He makes beauty for ashes in the middle of the most war-torn marriage. He springs up the oil of gladness rather than mourning, even in the greatest loss. He rebuilds ancient ruins,  from nothing, even if the foundations are cracked. He proclaims freedom to the captives in the most torturous of locations.

God is God; He is mighty to save?

What area of desolation are you facing?

Jesus came to. . .
“..bind up the brokenhearted,
proclaim freedom for the captives
release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God,
…to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion…
..to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
…the oil of joy instead of mourning. . .” and the list goes on (See Is. 61).

This scripture has been fulfilled through Christ.  Whatever desolate area you face, know that Christ has all-ability to spring life. Ask Him to do it; He is faithful.

Jesus said, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Lu. 4:20)

Do you Feel Defeated?

A few days ago, I watched an athlete in a TV interview. What struck me was not his confidence, but his lack thereof. He seemed unsure, insecure and hesitant.  This is not common to champions. It seemed odd. Rather than saying something like, “I’m going to go out there and give it my all,” he spoke something like, “well, I am just going out there. . . and. . . we’ll see.”

I was intrigued by his words. I wanted to know how he was going to fare at the big athletic event that was coming up. I was pretty sure, he’d already counted himself out. I  kept my eyes on the event. Sure enough, not much later, he got hurt and was out of the event.

Sadly, it wasn’t his athletic power or prowess that made him lose, but his mindset.

How often are we already defeated, before we even start?

Lately, I’ve been working on a project. If I’m honest with myself, my heart hasn’t been in it. I guess, underneath it all — I don’t want to fail and have bad results. I don’t want it to appear I didn’t do a great job at my work. I don’t want people to think bad things about me. I don’t want to try hard and then lose belief in my self.

“The timing isn’t right.”
“I don’t have the resources like I did last time.”
“I don’t feel good about how it is shaping up.”
“God probably is not calling me to do this.”

What excuses are you making — to not see through something you’ve promised to do?

Often, the Lord positions us to awkwardly trust Him rather than casually continuing our own way. We may see it as a position of: lack. But, God knows, it is a position of: power.

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. (Ps. 127:1)

We build. It’s our construct.

He builds. It’s an impenetrable, unwavering, fortress, not easily tumbled down.

Which construct has a firmer foundation?

When God constructs, feelings, end results, people’s opinions, and outcomes don’t matter. When God constructs, we always get built up. It seems he’s coming to fix a window until He says, “Oh no, it goes much deeper than this — I have to get behind your walls.”

This is why sometimes outcomes don’t turn out as we expect. Because our good Father goes behind facades to build a sturdy house, rather than a feeble one. And, it is all for our good. For your good.

What are you building — a house of sticks? Or, one of materials that will last?

As we entrust our heart, our attitude, our will, and emotions to Him, He will build a construct that will not be tossed, thrown out or torn down — and that will endure all the way to and through heaven.

 

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Loving Hard-to-Love People

It is easier to give up than to endure with people. It is easier to walk away than to listen and understand. It is easier to “be right” and to decide them “all wrong” than to hear another perspective.

For years, I decided: 1. People would not understand me. 2. They’d hardly Listen. 3. They’d never change. So, when difficult conversations arose, irritants surfaced, or things got tough to handle — I’d pull-the-carpet out from under all of us. I’d quit the job. I’d run from the relationship. I’d decide the other party wasn’t – godly. I’d figure they didn’t have good intentions. I’d decide they were carrying too much “baggage”.

Areas where God wanted to grow me, I ran from. I started over with other people, rather than going deeper with people I’d already spent years getting to know. My loss.

What relationships have you run from?

In more recent years, my whole paradigm has shifted. Now, I realize:

  1. People are growing just as I am.
  2. When I give leeway, love, and a listening ear, others find radical growth with God.
  3. More than changing them, God is usually up to changing me.
  4. Fighting for “relationship” — and accepting hard truths about yourself — often means gaining a life-long friend or spouse.
  5. There is usually more than meets the eye when it comes to a person’s offensive action.

Seeking to understand before seeking to run away is to uncover a deeper level of intimacy. This doesn’t mean there aren’t cases where it makes sense to put up a boundary, to set some distance or to end a relationship (that is a whole other post, for another day).

(Love). . . always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Cor. 13:7)

Love hopes: It hopes in the good coming for others. It hopes, believing they have good intentions. It hopes for great outcomes during hard-to-have conversations. It hopes in the Lord when the going gets tough. It hopes in miracles that proceed ardent prayer. It hopes to grow personally, more than it wants to fix others relationally.

Love perseveres: It tries again. It goes back to the drawing board to listen. It sees the potential and believes God to show up. It tells the truth, despite how hard it is. It shares the core-issue rather than covering over it and hiding it away. It gives the abundant grace needed, as much as it wants it for itself. It dies to fleshly responses.

“Love never fails.” (1 Cor. 13:8)

Anything done in love, in God’s eyes, cannot fail. With “love,” you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Love lasts straight through earth into eternity. . . No man can halt, hinder or stop the lasting power of love you unleash.  It is not dependent on them, but always reliant on God. To the complete extolment of God.

Love is never wasted.

 

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Nothing Can Stop the Lord Almighty

I was telling my 5-year old daughter about a Jesus story. He’d been teaching people all day and now the people were hungry. The disciples recognized a problem; there were only 5 loaves and 2 fish.

My daughter looked at me, oddly. . .

“If I was them I’d say, ‘Bring what you have to Jesus!'” She said.

Childlike faith nearly screamed out of her, “Just bring it to Jesus already”, “He’ll do it!”, “He can do anything!”

So, today, let my daughter’s words speak to you afresh: Bring what you have to Jesus!

Even if it looks like not enough. . . Not enough money. Not enough time. Not enough know-how. Not enough answers. Not enough knowledge. Not enough wisdom. Not enough ability to ___. Not enough ability yourself to fix it. Not the right past actions. Whatever.

Just bring it to Jesus; run up to Him and say, “Jesus, this thing I’ve been handling — or mishandling for that matter – feels impossible, ugly, and unfixable. Frankly, it’s an issue I don’t know what to do with. I need you to handle it for me. Give me wisdom and instruction. I ask you for a miracle answer. You can do it!”

“Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves…They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.”  (Mt. 14:19-20)

All of Jesus can take your “hardly anything”, and multiply it into more-than-enough, with leftovers. Don’t doubt.

Asking is humility. Trust is your answer.

“For every child of God defeats this evil world by trusting Christ to give the victory.” (1 Jo. 5:4 NLT)

Do you trust? If not, today’s your day to start afresh. To defeat the evil rising against you. To stand up against what has pushed you down for far too long.

Nothing can stop the Lord Almighty. May we agree and trust in Him today.

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Enjoying the Process

Do we yell at our kids because they’re learning?

For instance, when a son arrives home from school, do we come down on him because he had go to school? Do we say, “You should already know this stuff.”

Or, when a kid says, “Why is the world not flat?”, do we berate them for not knowing.

Or, when they make a mistake, like blurting out a comment, do we hold it against them for a lifetime?

No. We know children:

  • are learning.
  • are growing.
  • need grace.

“…For the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these (children).” Mt. 19:21

Likewise,we are children.

We:

  • are learning.
  • are growing.
  • need grace.

I don’t think God disdains the process of growing and learning as much as we do. He knows we are “becoming” like Christ.

We “are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Cor. 3:18)

This means we don’t already know everything. We will make mistakes. We take off one layer of the onion of __, only to 6 months experience a deeper layer God wants to remove. We find a more complete understanding of God’s Word that sets us free one year, and then it happens to a greater degree 2 years later.

God isn’t angry at us that we had things to learn. That we aren’t perfect. Or, that “only now, are we just getting it”. Or that “we’re so slow.” On the contrary, His process is our progress.

We are becoming, transforming and becoming liberated into the image of Christ. May we not despise the process. May we not run from the crafting work of the Master Creator. May we not think it is because we are ‘bad’ or not good enough. May we not disdain the fact that, like a child, we need Him. That He is helping us understand.

Going to school with God doesn’t mean that you are failing, it means He is growing you, renewing you and readying you for all that He has ahead.

Like a child, be okay with being in school.

“Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding. . .” (Prov. 3:13)

 

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God Will Not Abandon You

There are times in our life when it feels no one understands. In these places, we may communicate our heart along with every word from Alpha to Omega in conversation, and still be met with blank eyes. Alternately, we may try a new action and see it through, yet still find the person responds – “not as expected”. Or, we may open up and convey our insides only to feel utterly rejected because the “listener” changes the subject or looks the other way.

There are times in life when our insides are almost 100% certain we are: alone.  Are you there today?

Do you feel abandoned by those who are supposed to love you? Broken because you are trying your hardest and it still is not working out?

Don’t lose hope.  I believe, in certain seasons of life, there are things in our heart — only God understands.

“Lord, you have seen what is in my heart. You know all about me.  You know when I sit down and when I get up. You know what I’m thinking even though you are far away.  You know when I go out to work and when I come back home. You know exactly how I live.  Lord, even before I speak a word, you know all about it.” (Psalm 139:1-4)

Even when they want to, man can’t fully discern from the outside what God sees in our insides. The motives, intentions, will, spirit, history, thought processes and motivations to man — are hidden, but to God — are seen.  Only God has X-Ray vision.

Why is it this way?  This makes us run to Him. Call on Him.  Accept His consolation.  Over time, we build an inside-joke like relationship with the King of Kings. “Only He understands… Only God knows… Only He saves me…”

This doesn’t mean we write people off, expect them to never understand or decide not to share our heart. It means we stop hitting our head against the wall, trying to get everyone to understand every detail of our “backstory”.  Instead, we trust God is rewriting a better story. We call out to Him and permit Him to hear our pain. We wait by faith, not by sight.

The endless explaining of “all our reasons” and “why we did what we did” discussions take a backseat to God’s words. We may even find that He wants us to recognize that we are entering a new season. Here, we may need to make some personal changes or set some new boundaries.

This most easily happens when we become less focused on “changing-them” and more intentionally focused on “changing-me”.

Or we can decide to NOT do this.

The hard truth is: We either partner with God as He takes us where He is going or we fight Him tooth and nail and we go our own way.  Woe be it to the child who engages in hand-to-hand combat against the Lord Almighty.

In some ways, I think I’ve done this lately because I don’t want things to change. But the kind-of funny reality is they’re changing anyway. Whether I like it or not. God always wins.

His plans are good too. It’s usually in retrospect we come to this.

Either way, wisdom is — at some point before “retrospect”  — stopping to throw your hands up and refuse to do what you’ve been doing.  Why? Because carnal breakthrough aside from Jesus is insanity.

Real change is saying: “I don’t know how Jesus, but give me the grace anyway to do what it is your heart most wants.”

Then, by faith, you lean into Him and agree to take a new path. Even if it is completely uncharted territory.

“You are all around me. You are behind me and in front of me. You hold me in your power.” (Ps. 139:5)

 

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What’s in it for me?

We are all busy. Moving. Doing this and that. Answering emails to stay on top of things. Attending to the car that needs an oil change. Driving here and then there. Addressing the infinite immediate needs — but how often do we see beyond all this — to the heart of Jesus?

Recently, I had a project. Much of it was about organizing and recruiting people. In a sense, I had to show people the worth of their involvement in it. Some people said, “Yes, I want to be included.” Others, said, “No.”

But, what I figured was underneath it all, many were asking themselves, “What’s in it for me?”

What do I get?
Will it advance my cause?
How does it work out for me?

That is — until one woman’s reply broke the power of my over-generalizing words, when she wrote, “Yes, and, please let me know how I can help you.”

What?!!! She wants to — help me?  You mean she is not looking at this — from what is in it for her?

Wow. While I’d probably asked a hundred people the same question, only one returned to say — and how can I help you?

It reminded me of this story.

One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” (Lu. 17:15-19)

10 were healed.
1 came back.

Who are we in this story?

Are we the one who looks to take the good stuff from God — only to go ahead with our own agenda? Or, do we come back and say, “Oh, my God! Thank you so much for what you are giving and doing! You’re amazing.”

Are we the one who says, “This story is all about me.” Or, are we the one who turns to the person next to us and says, “What’s your story and how can I help you today?”

Are we the one who keeps talking without considering the person’s desire to talk or share? Or, do we make room for their voice within the conversation?

Are we the one who sees God answer a prayer, only to consider the 501 other things that should be better by now, God? Or, are we the one who falls down and says, “Thank you, Father, you’re doing it! Thank you. I can’t see the rest, but I trust you!”

I’ve been both at times. When I was like the nine, I felt rushed, anxious and tense. Overwhelmed by the next thing I had to do and accomplish. When I became the 1, I rejoiced in how: Jesus saw me, showed up for me, and how I got to hold His hand in the celebration of His goodness. I somehow grabbed a deeper hold of Jesus.

Friends, often our thanks, when done by faith, makes us well. How do you need to turn back to Jesus today to say, “Thank you”? Maybe it is not only done by word, but through action.

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Busting The Enemy’s Plan

I pray often. Why?
Because I expect God to answer. I’ve seen him answer countless prayers. I know He has show-up and show-off power so divine — it can change anything and everything, in a split-second. I rely on prayer like breakfast.
“And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (Jo. 14:13)
Anyway, my husband and I have recently talked about how people — people we don’t even know — are likely praying for us. We just got the sense that God was putting us on people’s heart.

Today, I saw this come to reality. I clicked into my hidden Facebook messages (the ones I hardly ever check) and there were messages. Two said things like, “Kelly, you are on my heart. I am praying for you today.”

Bam! God knows. He sends workers out to help us harvest His fields. Often, we can’t even see them at work, we don’t even know what they are doing or how they are praying with us. You never know who has your back. Some faithful friend, I pray, has you covered.

Anyway, later, I saw another message come in my Facebook inbox. I anticipated that it was, once again, was God and more answered prayers. I immediately went to open it. No. It was not God. It was porn. In motion, playing right before my very eyes.
I clicked out of that thing as quick as my fingers could move and then I thought, “Isn’t this how the enemy works? What seed God is planting the enemy comes to steal with a message that disturbs the mind. That distracts. That pulls away what God is doing in order to replace it with shame.”
“Catch all the foxes, those little foxes, before they ruin the vineyard of love, for the grapevines are blossoming!” (SOS 2:15)
What, in your life, is God blooming, where the enemy is working at stealing? What seed of prayer have you planted that the opposer wants to rip up through doubt?
Just because you see the image, hear the accusation, come under the attack, sit with the pain, feel the calling to sin, doesn’t mean you have to submit to it, to indulge in it or to give mind to it.
Greater is He who is in you, than He who is in the world. Shut down the attack. Move back to glory. Jesus is writing your story. The grapevines that ARE blossoming. Don’t pay due attention to what glory is not due to the enemy.
Prayer: God, thank you that you are greater than every obstacle. You are more powerful than any injury. You are more present than the people around us. You are alive and well, moving and healing, answering our prayer and then answering it once again. You ARE faithful. You WILL show up. For many people reading this blog, you will show up today, in awe-inspiring ways. Let them see you. Let them perceive you. Let them know you. Including me, God. Break into our lives, and break-out peace so divine it touches the world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

How to Trust In The Lord

Many of us say to God, “Father, I can’t see where you are taking me or what you are doing. How do I trust, when I don’t know? What instruction do you have for me?”

I believe that wisdom wants to speak to you today, saying:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
    do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
    and he will show you which path to take.

Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom.
    Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
Then you will have healing for your body
    and strength for your bones.

Honor the Lord with your wealth
and with the best part of everything you produce.
Then he will fill your barns with grain,
and your vats will overflow with good wine.” (Prov. 3:5-10)

God encourages our heart, by reminding us: Just trust me.

“Trust in the Lord and do good.
    Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.

Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you your heart’s desires.

Commit everything you do to the Lord.
    Trust him, and he will help you.

HE WILL make your innocence radiate like the dawn,
    and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.” (Ps. 37:3-6)

You will be brought to the land, as you trust. You will be given your heart’s desires as you – take delight. You will be helped as you commit. It all goes hand-in-hand. But, the keywords are: HE WILL DO IT. All this is done by God and through God.

Prayer: God, will you increase my faith? Will you help me trust you, follow you, and take delight in you? I, today, commit my every way, every thought and everything to you. I place it all under your love, care, direction, and authority. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

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