Purposeful Faith

Category - doubt

Celebrating Conflict

Celebrating Conflict

It is that thing that pretty much all of us hate.
It’s what we would rather run from – than run straight into.
It’s what makes us think bad thoughts, nasty thoughts and mean accusations to our closest.
It’s what drives us batty and crazy because we wonder if we will ever be understood.
It’s what sends us to mindsets of sin instead of the peace of holiness, faster than one can whip out a quick retort.

It’s conflict. The worst 8 letter word around.

It is that thing that we don’t know why, we as Christians even have to deal with, but, still, we do. Somehow and sometimes, we are bound to hit it. And as ugly as it is, we often stand right in the midst of it, wondering how something so icky, so yucky and so unsavory, could exist in one who is trying to pursue God so hard?

How a God seeker could turn into more of a raging lunatic than a calming saint?

How this very growth of mold could threaten to swallow whole God’s very light shining on it?

But, yet, if we stop and think, this is the point isn’t it? There still is light. God’s light is still shining on it, right? There is no amount of disgrace, shame and darkness that can remove the ray of light that is above you. Light won’t let go of your hand, it won’t stop warming you and it won’t stop quenching darkness. So, even though you feel your feet stand in the death and decay of relationship, have you ever considered…

…maybe it’s more about focusing your eyes on the land of repair, instead of the face of despair.

Let’s reflect…

Maybe, just maybe, instead of focusing on all that person didn’t do, it is much more about focusing on what God is about to do – in you…
How God is preparing you.
How God is molding you.
How God is bettering you.
How God wants outstanding for you.
How God uses people to reconstruct you.
How God cares more about his life in you, than your happy life around you.
How God can fix the most complex junkers into complete beauties in his perfect timing.

In any rotten moment,
God extends his hand of love out to you.

Will you take it?

Hold on to it. And let him lead you?

Conflict is the body shop of God’s repair, for it is here that he points out, kneads and buffs out the greatest defects of our hearts.

But, it requires we get open, real and ready for his work; it means we get humble.

For a heart bowed down, clears more space for the light of Christ to rest over it.

The light is always the answer. It is the proving point to a mind that thinks like this:

Be not discouraged, he is helping us.
Be not dismayed, he is with us.
Be not disgraced, he calls us to see.
Be not downright angry, he leads us to listen.
Be not debased, he calls us to set our ways down.
Be not defeated, he calls us to victory in Christ.
Be not dejected, he calls us to new ways of thinking.
Be not defamed, you are always loved in his eyes.
Be not defensive, the correction spoken might be your ticket to fullness.
Be not down and out, you are always Christ’s new creation, created in his image.
Be not disqualified, nothing can remove you from the hand of God.
Be not denied, Christ already died to fully accept you.

Thinking like this leads a person. When they feel ready to fall prey, they simply fall down and pray. Suddenly and often, what they find is – God has the best way. Imagine that.

They find themselves being and doing the wild and crazy things they never dreamed they had in them or available to the mean folk who love to come against them:  Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Col. 3:12

And, what they find is – real love. From God and to man.

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The Unexpected Repairing Ground

Repairing Ground

Dear eyes, you have looked through the glasses of not enough for so long. You have gazed upon other’s lots wishing to grab their “a lot”. Their kids, cars, houses, smarts, clothes, cars and blessings. You crave it all. You have hoped and dreamed, pleaded and called, but still, your eyes constrict when you see all you don’t have. There is hope.

Dear hands, you are trying, you are fighting and you are walking by faith, but sometimes the work of your hands falters. You trip up and chip up your nails, your best efforts, which only seems to send you into a cycle of defeat and discouragement. You feel like you can’t make it holy enough. Don’t give up.

Dear mind, you carry around the self-condemning thoughts of “I wish I could be better, love more, do more and be more.” You tend to miss the mark and punish yourself for doing so. Honestly, the way you run circles, chasing the tail of “perfectly all together,” may just rip you apart. There is more. 

Dear feet, you go to the places of need. You rise to the moments of emergency. You run to help others. You go far lengths. But, still, you wonder, do these feet travel far enough? Are they making a difference? Are the steps futile? They count.

Dear other person, I wonder, will you still love me entirely with my flaws? Will you be able to look past all my frame is not to see all I am? What would happen if I trusted you? Take a risk.

For he holds the whole body together with its joints and ligaments, and it grows as God nourishes it. Col. 2:19

Suddenly, my eyes open, my ears listen, my mouth waits, and my hands reach out to see God’s nourishing truth. While I always thought the freedom was centered on me, I am realizing it transcends time-sensitive bodies – it transcends our body. It is not just about one flawed and damaged part, but it is entirely about the whole part. The part he is moving and making into his greatness, for his greatness.

His body that makes my body. Why? Because my body is his body (I am his temple). His body is the church (we are his people). The church is God’s primary mission field to repair damaged bodies (if we let it work).

Founded in Christ and deployed through our willingness, we – together – become the healers of the awkward thoughts, the repairers of hidden shame and the bringers of the most hope inducing words ever – “me too.”

Unity creates immunity. An immunity that wards off loneliness, unsteadiness and unsightliness. We were at our worst, but together, we hit the potential to become our best.

If we give unity a fighting chance, we give let progress walk in – shuffle around –
and do it’s victory dance.

For then, a collaborative voice emerges, saying, “We can do it, make it and conquer it. We can see our bulges, our wrinkles and our indents and say, this body is very good.” (Gen. 1:3) Not because everything is perfectly beautiful, but because everything is beautifully transparent in a way where one needs Christ, where one needs another.

Holding hands, there is joy, there is a sliver of something – a glorious sunrise emerges in the center of the darkness of night and what appears is the new beginning to a story that we thought ended.

We see our ill-formed bodies, as a whole, formed into the image of Christ.

Our body emerges remarkable, radiant and restored.

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

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The Burden is Off, My Friends

The Burden is Off

What would happen if I packed up, crammed all my stuff into a moving van and found a new home – God’s dwelling? Might God whisper “The burden is off, my child”?

If I truly said:

God, you own these kids, so I release myself from the burden of mismanagement.
God, these goods are under your roof, so if you don’t like them – for me, you can remove them.
God, when things break down in our house, you care – it is your house too.
God, you’re in the very center of the air in this marriage. You are in our midst in this house.
God, this home doesn’t actually belong to me, it belongs to you.
God, these plans I make are under your owned roof, help me come to you first, before I steamroll ahead.
God, you care about the mother and father who walk these rooms, their feelings and thoughts you oversee.

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.” Ps. 91:1-2

If I put everything I own under his roof, his bullet-proof roof will wrap me with protection.

Cooking, caring, helping, guiding, serving, homeworking, loving, speaking, thinking and teaching will no longer rest on me, but it will reside under him. Every time I look up, the ceiling will remind me of whose shelter I am under. Every time I feel pressed against a wall, it will remind me I am not trapped, but wrapped with his love. Every time I feel it is too much, I will remind myself that God is much more in this place then I could ever be. Every time, I fear the dark, I will remind myself that he keeps me in his shadow, because he wants me close, not far so he can hurt me.

He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Ps. 91:4

Covered.
Gliding.
Moving.
Progressing.
Understood.
Safe.
Sound.
Armed.
Alarm set.
Tucked in tight.
Into the arms of the father.
Within our own home, which is his.

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. Ps. 91: 9-13

As God rules a refuge, he protects it. As if he places an invisible bubble of armored protection around it, harm hits it hard and falls, disaster is diverted, angels are concerned, my foot is not stubbed, the opposition walks scared and I walk defeating them.

The burden is off of me – and onto God.

Lord, God, come into my home and make your home. Everything belongs to you. I belong to you. My children belong to you. My goods belong to you. My heart belongs to you. My faith belongs to you. My life belongs to you. Rule in your shelter as I live under it. Help me stay in your ways and within your heart, never to depart. Amen.

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5 Ways You (Inadvertently) Fight Off God

Fight Off God

I don’t know about you, but if someone was to ask me, I would say, “Yes, I want more of God.”

In fact, I would probably even go on to tell them, “I want God’s everything. I want to be so close to him. I want to draw near.”

And this is the truth. But, in a way, it is also a lie. Because I notice I play other tricks with God – tricks where I motion one hand, saying, “Come close”, all the while holding one arm out saying, “Stay back.”

It’s like my inside is at war with my outside, which truly I guess it is – and this is the point.

For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. Gal. 5:17

Do you call for God to come near, all the while fearing that he may?

When we step back to see the war for what it really is, we see it. This tug of war is truly our greatest fight, our ultimate conflict and the most important war of our lives.

Will we fight to win or lay back and prepare to lose?

5 Ways We Get in a Tug-of-War Against God

1. The Spirit tugs: stay close to God.
The flesh tugs: you can’t trust him.

Come near to God and he will come near to you. Ja. 4:8

2. The Spirit tugs: Believe He can heal, help and harness what is coming against you.
The flesh tugs: God wouldn’t do something that amazing for me.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. . . Eph. 3:20

3. The Spirit tugs: Open your real heart, so God can do real work in you.
The flesh tugs: Run from vulnerability, God will hate you.

I think of God, and I moan, overwhelmed with longing for his help. Ps. 77:3

4. The Spirit tugs: Listen to my small voice – and obey – and you will find your way.
The flesh tugs: That is too hard, too inconvenient and too uncomfortable.

He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” Lu. 11:28

5. The Spirit tugs: God’s change is the beginning of your hope.
The flesh tugs: Run from change, it will change everything good about your life.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. 1 Jo. 4:18

When we let God in, he changes everything within.

When we lay down walls, he plows through with a mission of love.
When we break what keeps us stuck, we trample over the past with a vengeance. 
When we let him in – to see through his eyes – we start to see compassion and faith anew.
When we unarm, he arms us in indwelling truth.
When we seek his face, we are staggered by it.
When we come undone, he undoes the pain we have walked in for so long.
When we let him plow the fields of ruin, we find new buds of life forming.
When we back into his loving arms, we crash into hope – straight up hope.
When we realize we can’t do it without him, we start to see that we can do it.
When we bare the ugly, he makes it beautiful.

When we live intimate with God, we start to imitate God.

From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed.  Psalm 61:2

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How to Fight to Win

Fight to Win

It is that thing that pretty much all of us hate.

It’s what we would rather run from than run straight into.

It’s what makes us speak accusations
instead of affirmations.

It’s what drives us bat crazy,
feeling like we are chasing a shifting shadows of ever changing goals and needs.

It’s what sends us to mindsets of sin rather than pastures of holiness.

It is called conflict.

It is that thing that we don’t know why, we as Christians have to deal with – yet, we do. Somehow and sometimes, we just hit it. And as ugly as it is, we often stand, right in the midst of it, wondering how something so icky, so yucky and so unsavory, could exist in one who is trying to pursue God so wholly? 

How a God seeker could turn into more of a raging lunatic than a calming saint?

How this very growth of mold could threaten to swallow God’s very light shining on it?

But, yet, if we stop and think, sometimes our heart actually lands at the truth, doesn’t it?

God’s light is still shining – even when our heart isn’t.

There is no amount of disgrace, shame and darkness that can remove the ray of light shining on you. Like the rays that follow your tin can of transport, so does God go. Like the light that reflect off the tiny pieces of dirt on the side of the road, so does God go. Like the moon that shines even in the darkness, so does God go.  You can’t stop the places his light shine.

God’s light shines hope into every endless pit of death and decay –
it can’t help but make things grow.

The glow of repair is always available – and the glow is a He and he waits for our call, so that he can run to our rescue, operating tools and all, to reshape us into glory, faster than one can mutter “Thank you.”

God didn’t save his glow for the perfect, he shines it on the sinners.

The only hindrance for us receiving it, is us believing dirty rotten scoundrels can really handle it without ruining everything.

It is moving in, rather than running away.
It is waiting, rather than hiding.
It is believing grace rather than fear.
It is relaxing into his work, rather than resisting it.

Conflict is the great body shop of God’s repair,
for it is here that he points out the greatest defects of our hearts.

The amazing part is – when those who are defected,
continually run to him who is resurrected,
we can’t help but find ourselves more and more perfected. 

So, be not discouraged, he is helping us.
Be not dismayed, he is with us in the heat of the moment, despite the coldness of our heart.
Be not disgraced, he calls us to see, not our bad moves, but his great ones.
Be not downright angry, he leads us to listen, so then we can understand.
Be not debased, he calls us to set our ways down, so we can come alive to his.
Be not defeated, he calls us to victory in Christ, so then we may be free.
Be not dejected, he calls us to new ways of thinking, so we don’t live furious.
Be not defamed, you are always loved in his eyes.
Be not defensive, his correction spoken might be your ticket to fullness.
Be not down and out, you are permanently Christ’s new creation.
Be not disqualified, nothing can remove you from the hand of God.
Be not denied, Christ already died to fully accept you.

The key is to pray so we don’t fall prey, but so we find God’s way. His way is the greatest cease and desist order to the devil and the most potent concoction of peace there is.

Suddenly, what we find is – it’s not so much about winning, but much more about letting Christ win our hearts over in love – so everything flows according to HIS plan.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Col. 3:12

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10 Bible Verses: How Jesus Prayed

How Jesus Prayed

Last night, as I was booting down the day in prayer, I realized something. Something kind of significant. I figured what it said about me just as important as what I actually believed about prayer.

It struck me that while I often pray to stop worrying, I always pray mid-struggle – in the heat of a thought that has run haywire, like a wire with far too much current and no outlet.  Now, I won’t say by that point it is too late, but I just wonder, why do I wait until that point, rather than getting out in front of it defensively?

Why don’t I build an action plan, a game plan and an attack
to beat down worry before it runs wild?

When we fail to prepare with big preemptive prayers, we prepare like paupers. 

But, when we prepare in advance, not fearing to ask for massive deliverance,
God prepares our hearts in the unimaginable.

Why is it we are afraid to ask for the enormous, the unthinkable and the life-changing?

1. We are scared that our big God will only deliver us small answers and thereby disappoint us.
2. We feel guilty for not praying righteous prayers, so we pray empty prayers.
3. We wonder what we will end up believing about God, if we end up seeing him not come through.
4. We figure that we are somehow supposed to conquer, what God stands ready to.

Yet, Jesus, he teaches us to pray unrestrained, unbelievable and uncensored prayers. Let’s take a look.

10 Bible Verses: How Jesus Prayed

1. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Lu. 5:16

Getting alone gives our mind the white space it needs to conceptualize life-transforming spiritual needs.

2. And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will. Mt 26:39

Jesus was not afraid to ask for big deliverance. Our big God can handle big prayers. In fact, he loves a heart that believes by faith he can do all things. Just ask it!

3. My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done. Mt 26:42 

Jesus knew God’s will takes precedence over earthly will. When we pray, we should let our heart convey needs, yet trust that God ultimately knows what we best need.

4. And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark. Mk. 1:35

Jesus knew that seeing God first in his day, sets the foundation of a day – in God. When we place our morning eyes on God, he gives our eyes sight on great strength in our day.

5. Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Mt. 6:9 

Jesus knew who he was talking to, do we? God tells us that the name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous can run into it and are safe (Prov 18:10). Do we believe this?

6. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. Mt. 6:13

Praying to be delivered from what has not already hit, prevents your feet from getting swept out from under. Jesus teaches us to pray preemptively, and for good reason.

7. I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. Mt. 11:25-26

Jesus praised God for what man could easily find fault with. Praise God for the things you can’t understand. When we know that a good God is over our bad problems, we find calm waters.

8. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers. Lu. 22:32

Jesus knew the value in praying on behalf of faith. May we ask for more faith, so we can walk into the unseen with power, authority and courage, just like Jesus.

9. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. Jo. 17:9

Jesus prayed for his beloved children. Let’s pray that our heart, and the heart of all God’s children, will endure, stay pure and persevere together until the end, for this is God’s will for us.

10. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. Lu. 23:34

Jesus forgave when he could have cursed the world for his breath labored pain and agony. He didn’t. Let’s forgive those who cause us pain and agony, for what we will find is that forgiveness is what ends up causing us far less pain in the long run.

Prayer.

It is our power.
It is our strength.
It is our direct connection to the greatest ruler of this earth.
It is our cosmic shift from selfish plans to God’s plans.
It is our ability to be an influencer, a pleader and a worker in a kingdom that counts.
It is our ticket to our greatest needs being met in awe inspiring ways.
It is our hope that confirms to our heart we have a hope.
It is our peace that the creator is still creating. 
It is our power found in uplifted hands and in the quietness of a solitary room.
It is our ability to call the Great Physician to a family member in need.
It is our emergency exit door for what the devil has already cooked up to destroy us.
It is our greatest weapon in a world that is building bigger and bigger weapons.
It is our lifeline when we feel we have lost all life.

It was one of Jesus’ greatest tools,
shouldn’t it be ours too?

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Breaking Normal to Find Phenomenal

Breaking Normal

The coach stopped me in my tracks with this soccer drill. It was meant for toddlers, but it was sent by God for me. It burst my bubble of known, it tossed out the waste of old and it rolled in eye-opening insight that would redecorate my heart with truth.

Who knew soccer was so good for mental health?!

4 cones.
One square.
No space.
3 Kids.

“Go!”

My son tried to move, no dice (or rather, no goal!). He tried to inch forward, but couldn’t gain traction. He tried to kick, but his ball bounced off his companions’. He tried to run, but, the two collided like blind bulls. Boing!!!

Yet, amidst the mayhem and the maniacal movements of the inept, the coach broke through “crazy” with two words, “Break Out!”

And so they did.  Kids, ran left, right and nearly out of sight! Like bees set free they could chart a destination on a course that was possible, feasible and liberating all at the same.  If I could have I would have cheered this moment, saying, “Go, free ones, go. Now you can fly!”

The coach would too and, together, we would breathe a sigh of relief.

What small confines are you stuck in –
trying to plow your way through?

What is not giving you an iota of movement,
yet still, you fight for tooth and nail?

When we are so pressed against everything, we can’t enter the huge field of opportunity the Lord has set before us. We see the Promised Land, but our eyes keep us kicking around in the small perimeter of everyone else’s movements.

They are set on our competition.
They become obsessed with personal performance.
They see each kick like an eternal report card of worth.
Moves become belabored and burdensome.
Irritation mounts.
Aggravation scores.
We lose!

God becomes distant.

“He’s out in left-field somewhere!”

Break Out! 

When we get hyper-focused on numbers, feedback, criticisms, critiques, God says, “Break out!”
When we start looking at everyone else’s progress, toys and accomplishments, God says, “Break out!”
When we start fearing our ability to succeed, God says, “Break out!”
When we start feeling our chest constrict into the fist of anxiety, God says, “Break out!”
When we start to be man’s responses, God says, “Break out!”
When we are obeying strategies and growth plans first and foremost, God says, “Break out!”
When we are sure we will surely be marginal at best, God says, “Break out!”
When we start making the past the predictor of our future, God says, “Break out!”
When we see the bad surrounding, the pressing in indwelling, God says, “Break out!”
When we doubt calling, God says, “Break out!”
When we wonder if we are any good, God says, “Break out!”
When we box ourself into sameness, God says, “Break out!”
When we look at boundaries and limitations, God says, “Break out!”

Get out of the box, push over the boundary and fly to the place where God is.

If you’re goal is to be with him, it is a goal that can’t be blocked.

It’s a goal that wins the game every time – heck, it wins the World Cup, for that matter!

Run into the freedom of open air.
Bask in the place of his prompting.
Skip to the place of true calling.
Jump to the heights of unrestrained love.
Fall into the depths of incalculable peace.
Sit in the field of rest.
Move to the new places, no one has transversed.
Win there! That is where you win!

We find our little slice of heaven on earth, carved out for us in the here and now,
in the freedom found, not in doing what the world and demands and people tell us,
but found in the unusual, uncharted and unknown callings of him.

No one ever got anywhere by kicking around in the complacent and crazy confines of controlled chaos. Just ponder. Many of the “Great Remarkables” became remarkable because they stopped caring if the world called them remarkable and they just followed God.

Simple. He is speaking. Are we listening?

Look at the woman at the well. She became well because she broke free from confines at the well – so her mouth could not confine her truth of liberation.

“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” Jo. 4:30

She had to break out of world-made form though. Do you see this power yet?

She had to trample form that told her Jews don’t talk with Samaritans.
She had to push through the fact that talking women should have husbands present.
She had to push away the fact that rabbis shouldn’t speak to sluts.

She had to break out!

To step out of the box of confines to be unconfined.

What is God ready to break out on your behalf as you break out?

God isn’t found in the small boxes of safe, of expected, of normal, of man and of “steps for success”, he is found in the wild land of adventure, pursuit and nonconformity in him, by faith and through Christ.

Break out! Today, see what holds you in and push past it in the name of Jesus. Zig and zag his way. Run arms open. Sprint into his fields of purpose.

Don’t just read this and move on, but listen and press in. Promise me that. If you don’t think this is for you, think again, it is, especially for you. What is he calling you to?

My break out: I will not intentionally look at post or visitor statistics. My words are an incense being released solely on behalf of his beauty – from my heart to his, uncensored, untouched and unchangeable by man. And so they will be. And so I will go into the field of his providence, trusting.

What is yours?

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Our 5 Go-To Defensive Stances Against God

Defensive Stances

I just go along my merry day, skipping and jumping and hiking through life, until. . . BANG! I hit a roadblock, a stumbling point or a detour to everything that I had thought, planned and willed.

This just happened to me recently. My husband and I were convinced of what our family needed to do. We investigated, we prayed, we hoped, we looked, but no matter how hard we pushed, God wasn’t opening up a single door for us to move through.

We were stuck, children, without a way.
Isolated, kept in a barren land.
Roaming, unsure of our next step.

It’s normally just about this point when things get ugly.

When we start whispering things under our breath, when we get that under-the-skin-feeling of annoyance, when our good god and his powers seem to have taken the next flight to Siberia.

Ever felt this way?

There are five defenses that push a child of God away,
faster than you can say, “orphan”,  they are:

1. Believing God doesn’t care about your meaningless situation and that the grand scheme of the world takes precedence.

Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

Notice that God does not say, “Only cast God-worthy anxiety on me,” instead he says cast all anxiety on me.

2. Telling yourself, “Pull it together and act better.”

Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Ps. 62:8

Let your heart’s pain pour out at the foot of the cross so that his love can co-mingle and release you from their overwhelming power.

3. Uncertainty that God will really answer you. This means you pray a little, worry much and then give up.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Mt. 7:7

God hears and he delights in giving his children good gifts. He hears every prayer.

4. Walking distracted rather than engaged.

I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. Ps. 119:15

If you are thinking about world things, you will be ruled by it’s ways, not God’s all rescuing truths.

5. Wrapping your arms around worries and your detailed plans that go with them.

Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. Ps. 37:4-5

Delight beats up worry then walks you over to your deepest desires.

Will we fortify our lives with man-made defenses
or will we fortify our lives with God’s truth
and move arms open into his great purposes,
believing he is commanding the war?

It is a choice. But, the direction we choose, determines the fullness of our calmness, satisfaction, peace and wellbeing.

The truth is God doesn’t hate us and berate us. He doesn’t restrict us, to inhibit us. He doesn’t withhold pleasure to displeasure us. He guides us to revive us, to indwell us and to compel us.  He brings us from the barrenness of apprehensive and ineffective, to plains of impressive and courageous.

As we learn to take down our defenses, we end up remaining where God is. We dwell in his camp, which means we dwell in a place of complete love.

Here, he calls us to more. He beckons us to greater. He pulls us to insight. And relieves us in truth. He approves of our heart to know him. He delights in our will to rethink things. He enjoys our journey of discovery. He receives our heart to move differently. He answers our call to change. He throws out the crutches of condemnation and removes the splinters of failure. He stands arms wide open, ready to receive our changed heart. He longs that we fear not, and we don’t, instead we draw near.

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Overcome Like Jesus: 7 Ways He Proves You Can

Overcome Like Jesus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Somehow, I doubt it.

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

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

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

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

1. He had to defeat the powers of hell.

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

2. He had to defeat his mind.

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

3. He had to perfectly time things.

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

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

4. He had to fulfill Old Testament prophecy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you need to keep moving as Jesus did?

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

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

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

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

overcome like Jesus

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

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5 Ways to Beat Defeating Thoughts

Defeating Thoughts

Trends.

What is trending in your life?

Where is the tide of your emotions moving?

Where is that one current that you can’t seem to get past?

For me, it has been thinking that I am not good enough. It has been thinking that I stand on the brink of “mistake” that will send me careening to quick destruction in no time. It has been listening to destructive criticism that simply wants to wash me up shore, breathless, nearly lifeless and without a rescuer.

If I am not a better mother, this kid won’t end up liking me much.
If I can’t stop being quick to speak, I am never going to make strides.
If I don’t live pleasing people, I will never be happy.
If I fall to mean speaking, I am a shame-wrecked failure.
If I live for selfishness, I am a faith-wrecked failure.

Do you know what is trending? It is easy to let our thoughts move like passing clouds, without giving them a second chance. But, stop, today. Think, today. Don’t just move with the wind of your life. Lean in to what your thoughts are working within, so that you can work out what God wants to push out.

What voice inside your mind speaks judgement over enlightenment?
Disappointment over God’s appointment?
Punishment over realignment?

Our voices inside shape our voices outside.

Defeating Thoughts

“You’re not a good mom” produces a snappy chide spoken to the kid asking for water.
“You speak in all the wrong way,” produces a defensive comeback.
“You deserve punishment,” produces guilt that makes me want to hide.
“You will never make others happy,” produces a why-bother attitude that no one wants to be around.
“I will always be selfish and I can’t stop sinning,” produces defeat that turns around to wave hello to more sin.

Our voices inside shape our voices outside (I am saying this twice for a reason).

They have the power to flip relationships 
inside, outside and upside-down – for either good or for bad.

What thought has been plaguing you? Stop. Seek. Look. Press in. Think.
Passing glances produce lasting problems.

God doesn’t leave us on the side of the road, an anxious hitchhiker, with no one around to bring us to his destination of promise, fulfillment, enjoyment, safe pastures and comfort. He doesn’t ride by, wave at us, and scream “Don’t be anxious about anything – continue on and good luck!”

God tells us instead to:

1. Rejoice. Find worship – and you will find worry is no longer convicts you as an guilty bystander. (Phil 4:6)

2. Pray. Pray the name of God, pray the hope of glory, pray against evil temptation (to think negatively), seek wisdom and pray, “Help me!” (Phil 4:6)

3. Ask. God tells us to pray and then he tells us to ask (Phil 4:6). Point is: Keep on praying, asking, pleading and then go about believing. Repeat.

4. Give thanks (Phil 4:6). If you are saying thank you, you can’t be saying, “I hate my life.”

5. Focus on what deserves focusing: what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy, not once but continually – and then continually focus there again. (Phil. 4:8)

When we get stuck in the place of worship,
we find ourself stuck on the mind and the heart of God.

It is no wonder that God explicitly tells us in his ever-redeeming and reconstructing Word that for one who keeps with this momentary, hourly or daily process that the peace of God will show up, literally transcending understanding to guard their hearts in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:7).

When we submit to God’s ways, he shields ours.

What do you need to submit? Rejoice, pray, ask, thank, and make your mind-prose “praiseworthy”. 

This means asking yourself:

Is saying “I am a bad mom”, is that a “praiseworthy” thought bringing glory to God?”
Is saying, “Things will never improve”, is that a “praiseworthy” thought bringing glory to God?
Is saying, “I will never stop sinning,” is that a “praiseworthy” thought bringing glory to God?
Is saying, “I deserve punishment,” is this a “praiseworthy” thought bringing glory to God?

If not, get yourself back to step 1. Pray for sanctification of all things entering in your mind.
Because, what you let in, will work into every crevice of your day.

We look at a glass of water you see, and we say, “Ehh…what we can’t see won’t hurt us. What is small, shouldn’t make a difference.” But, what we miss is the fact that there is clear poison dropped in that glass. If you knew that, would you drink it?

No. And so it goes with our thoughts.

Small poison = big negative results.
Small poison = a heavy and hardened heart.
Small poison = an angry, bitter, victimized or jealous spirit.

But, Jesus. Did you hear that? But Jesus. Even if we have been guzzling poison, he rushes in with the antidote. 

Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. Mt. 9:12

With no slaps, whacks or breaking of our backs, he heals up what we let in, so that we can move out through his faith and through real transformation, sanctification and reformation of our mind. 

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Ro. 12:2

For me? I will remember, my family and friends and my God – they love me. I am secure in Jesus’ love. I am a sinner sinning, being rescued by a Savior saving. My God is good. This is praiseworthy!

When we think like this, we live no longer as a hitchhiker seeking our next best ride to some unknown land, but we watch on as God escorts us to transformation. A place where green pastures of peace and resulting fruit are plentiful.

Breathe deep. What could be better than that?

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