Purposeful Faith

Category - failure

Opening Up to Others

I remember when I sat at a coffee table with a new friend.

As I sipped a warm latte, I wanted to encourage her, like I do with most people, yet I couldn’t…

There was a huge block: I felt jealous of the opportunities she was getting. These were opportunities that I was not getting.

Facing my sin, I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t stop thinking bad thoughts. So, I did the only thing I could think of…

I mustered up courage and said directly to her face, “Can I tell you something? I feel jealous of you…all the open doors you are getting are things that I’ve been wanting for a long time.  I don’t want to hate you this way. Will you forgive me for this jealousy? God, will you forgive me too. I am so sorry.”

She sat there for a second, just staring at me.

“Wow, Kelly, thank you for saying this.” She said.

Following this moment, we talked together about the areas where I felt sad. We acknowledged the pain I was feeling. We talked about my story. Then, we moved on to how God was working, even in my difficulties.  She encouraged me. Quickly, my feelings of jealousy dissipated.

I was able to celebrate her agin. I loved her even more, in that moment. She loved me too.

Before leaving our coffee date, her parting words were, “Kelly, thank you for opening up about your jealousy towards me.  You really taught me that I can be vulnerable and open about my struggle and jealousy.  Thank you for this.”

Wow. My struggle gave her permission to share her struggle. The amount of connection that I felt with God, and this friend, were on super-high levels now. I was amazed.

Soon after that she, once again, got an opportunity that I wanted.  Yet, as I watched her seize it, I no longer wanted what she had. Instead, I celebrated what she had.  Interestingly, she used a little piece of wisdom I’d previously given her to add to this project — and she acknowledged me. God made me part of this project too. It was a head-nod from God. He knew.

With this, friends, I cheer you on and say — don’t be afraid to confess your sins to one another.  What we reveal to God, and others, gets healed. To receive forgiveness is to restore heart-connection. Even more, healing is not only for us, but often for them too!

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” (Ja. 5:16)

Who do you need to confess to? How is God calling to restore connection with Him and others?

Please know, I understand that people may not always respond as beautifully as my sister-in-Christ did. I get this. At the same time, we do not serve man; we serve God. In this, no matter what they say, do or think — you can be sure of one thing: God will be faithful to heal you. God is Healer, no matter how the other person responds. He is forgiver, even if the other person doesn’t take it well. He lifts up, even if the others still put you down.

God is the rewarder, no matter how others act. As we honor Him, He honors us. (see 1 Sam. 2:30)

Be encouraged. Ask for confession. Offer forgiveness. Restore connection.

A Prayer Request from Kelly: On the launch day of my book, “Rest Now: 7 Ways to Say No, Set Boundaries and Seize Joy” a toddler spilled water on my computer. My computer does not work anymore. I am now writing these posts on my phone, which cumbersome and difficult.  Can you all pray for my computer to miraculously work again or something like that?! I love you all SO much!

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I Can’t Keep Going

keep going

Rushed. Pressured. Little time. Ever experienced being under the gun?

People. Distractions. Problems. Does it seem like there’s no way for you?

Right now, I am in a coffee shop, trying to write the devotional that you will read tomorrow… It is noisy; I can’t think. People came up to me; they wanted to talk. I couldn’t pull away. Now, I have no time left to write. I need to leave soon. I can’t, not under these conditions. I can’t work for Jesus, like this.  There’s every reason why I should — quit.

There is every rationalization as to why lack will hold me back.

What lack are you experiencing? No time? No money? No way? No people who understand? No resources?

As I sit here, I can’t help but think: Jesus didn’t quit. No. He kept walking with that cross. He kept His eye on the prize. He kept going, even though many of his close friends, the disciples, abandoned him. Even though those He loved, abandoned Him. Even though He was wrongly accused. Even though He went down a torturous, hard road…

Still. Jesus moved.

Jesus walked.
Jesus went.
Jesus loved.
Jesus persevered.
Jesus triumphed.

The many-million reasons why Jesus couldn’t did not ruin the will of the Father, letting Him know: He could.

If Jesus persisted in love, with all the offenses of man all up in His face, can’t I — persist.

Actually…I think I just did. This is nearly the end of the blog post. I persisted in moving my fingers — and God completed the work.

And, you will persist too — because God is equipping you, enabling you and energizing you in all His ways. He will give you strength, no matter what lack you face. It doesn’t matter.

Keep loving.
Keep walking.
Keep praising.
Keep worshipping.
Keep going.

God is for you and helping you.

My prayer for you: “May He grant you out of the riches of His glory, to be strengthened and spiritually energized with power through His Spirit in your inner self, [indwelling your innermost being and personality], so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through your faith.” (Eph. 3:16-17 AMP)

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Wait and Renew Your Strength

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength…” (Is. 40:31)

When I wait, I usually don’t feel strength rise. Instead, I’m wondering…

“When will you show up, God?”
“Why is this taking so long?”
“How do I do things differently?”

The more I wonder, the more I feel confused. Ever been there?

Well, I asked God about this verse I could not understand. I knew the issue was not with God, but with me. I needed clarity. Ironically in-line with this bible verses whole concept, I didn’t get an answer from for a while…that is, until He provided me clarity in the most unlikely of places… the ocean.

Surrounded by waves, with my son on top of a boogie board, I was looking into the ocean for just the right wave for him. I explained, “You gotta look for the right wave, son.”

I went on, “If you take any old wave, it will be a dud. If it is a dud, you’ll ride that wave and go hardly anywhere, and then you’ll have to fight all the waves to get back out to where you originally were.  That’ll tire you out.

Wait, son, don’t go too early, and when the time is right — go!”

God hit me in that water. I realized, just like riding dud waves, we often let our mind go where it wills when we are waiting. We ride dud emotions and little lies and let them take us where they will. No wonder we feel tired as we have to work our way back; We fight the tides of opposition to get back to a place of faith and trust in God.

Yet, when we stay near to God, keep our eyes on Him and remember that He has the perfect wave of faithfulness coming our way — we stay at peace. We feel renewed. We often see God’s mini-encouragement show up through His Word or people along the way. We stay afloat with God. There, we can enjoy His creation around us and all He is doing.

Here, we rest.  We rest and see His nature. We rest and wonder at what He is about to do. We rest and remember how good He has always been to us.  We rest and wonder what that beautiful wave of His might look like when it comes…

All these things renew strength. And then, at just the right moment — He breaks through and, boy, were we glad that we didn’t follow every little emotion and instinct that came on us along the way…

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For the Tired and Weary

Do you feel tired? Weary from world happenings? God knows.

Do you feel lonely? Perhaps, many around you — don’t fully understand you. God understands.

There are seasons where God sets us apart to figure things out: us and God. It can feel odd.

I feel this right now. The Lord has positioned me in such a place where there is risk…where I need to pray…where I have to trust Him for big things…where He is working on me…where I have to look at our relationship afresh..where I am not sure what the future holds…where I’ve been going, going, going. Yes, it feels odd, annoying even. I am set apart from what is normal for me.

The feelings could overwhelm me — if I am not careful.

Yet, I know this: a wise person never allows feelings to force them to give up. They see them for what they are — like little waves — that are passing emotions. And, they come to understand the reason they are set apart — is to be with God.

Did you know that the biblical word “holy” (Hebrew: Qodesh) means set apart?  Whether we are John, Jesus, or David, there’s a God set-up for God’s setting us apart. This setting apart was always a part of God’s plan to use them in mighty ways.

John paved the way for Jesus. Jesus paved the way for sinners. We are set apart to pave the way for God’s great moves in our hearts, as we let Him do what He wants to do even through discomfort. We are set apart — so we can meet with Him.

We are set apart so that His leadings, love, and lessons can teach us to not only survive but to thrive, no matter what we face. It is here we learn to rise above other’s opinions, the world’s estimations, and natural limitations.  Here, we learn to completely rely on God.

So, don’t let a feeling throw you. This too shall pass. But, God’s love endures forever. And, perhaps, He is setting you apart because He loves your time together. And so that you can know that He has a very, very good plan for your life… And so you know Him as your truest King, above finances, health or relationships.

Take hope.

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Is. 40:29-31)

 

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Did God Really Say?

Sometimes, I say to my kids, “To delay is to disobey.”

For instance, I may instruct them, “Move away from the cake so you don’t end up eating it!”

If they delay and linger by it…eventually, they’ll put their finger smack dab in the center of it and lick the sugary icing off their finger. The temptation will be too great.

So often, to delay is to disobey. It leaves room to ask, “Did God really say…? Maybe it is okay if I…” (See: Gen. 3:1).  It opens the door to justification and rationalization.

Recently, God showed up in a big way in my life. It was an awe-inspiring breakthrough. I got clarity to a decisive next-step from God. On day 1, I was all in. But, day 14? I started to wonder, “Was that really you, God? Did you really say that? I am not sure it can work that way because ___, and ___and ___.”  I got an Eve-complex.

Questions — and all the reasons why it “couldn’t work” — were zapping my faith.

The delay was causing disobey to rise up in me. I began to sway.

It won’t be good because…
What I have here is really good…
It can’t possibly work out…

Rather than looking ahead to where God was taking me, I looked back at my circumstances.

Another woman did this. Her name was “Lot’s wife.”

And, God was not pleased with her behavior: “But Lot’s wife looked back as she was following behind him, and she turned into a pillar of salt.” (Gen. 19:26)

She looked back at sin, at Sodom and Gomorrah. Today, I repent of looking back, delaying, and rationalizing my own way. I can’t move ahead when looking back. Nor can I go with God, when I’m going against Him. Forgive me, God!

And, He does, forgive me.

What about you? Where have you strayed? Looked back? Delayed? Where does it feel that you are working against God, rather than with Him?

You know, things of God won’t always make sense. They won’t always seem easy. They won’t always come together as we expected. But, this doesn’t mean God isn’t working in our life.  When we trust Him, even though, He helps us. When we keep our eyes on Him, despite what we think, He leads us. When we remember our best work has nothing to do with us, He equips us.

God has your best path and all you need — you already have — through knowing Him.

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” (2 Pet. 1:3)

Be encouraged, even if your way doesn’t make any sense.

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A Face Like Flint

My face has looked like defeat, of late. I really thought big moves of God were going to happen: breakthrough would come, my kids would act nicer to each other, I’d see God open up doors that had never been open before — yet, it’s been much of the same.

In fact, things seem to be moving — s. l. o. w.

Are you in similar shoes? Maybe you’ve prayed and prayed. . . sought God and sought God. . . asked and asked. . . .waited and waited. . .

. . . well, keep doing it and don’t give up. The Lord is not done with you yet. He’s not done with me either. And, if I’ve learned anything through scripture, it is this: He finishes what He starts. He also is no minder of our timelines.

Be it David becoming a King, Jesus getting resurrected or Lazarus getting raised, God is okay waiting days.

What do we do in the meantime?

We set our face like stone.

“Because the Sovereign Lord helps me,
I will not be disgraced.
Therefore, I have set my face like a stone,
determined to do his will.
And I know that I will not be put to shame.” (Is. 50:7)

Stone-faced, we set our eyes on Jesus. We determine to only look at Him. We know that we will not be disgraced. We resolve to do His will. We determine to see forth His cause.

We will not give up. We do not back down. We know that we will NOT be put to shame. We keep going.

In some translations, setting our face “like stone” is written as we set our face “like flint.”  I want us to realize that our face, set on God, has the ability to start a fire. It has the ability to light things up in our lives and in the lives of others. Do not discount a face — intent on God.

Be like a warrior. Keep working, listening, loving, helping and looking to God — for your God never fails. Ever. You can trust in that.

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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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3 Ways to Speak Life Into Others

“What’s wrong with you?”
“Why can’t you be better?”
“Why do you always?”

If you are a mom or dad, you’ve probably spoken a statement you’ve regretted. We’ve all been there.

I’m not one to critique; I’ve said some pretty horrible things to my husband, like:

“You always. . . ”
“Why don’t you ever. . . ”
Plus, some unmentionable statements spoken under my breath (which I won’t get into).

I’m not proud of this. Why? Because words reflect one’s heart.

“But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.” (Mt. 15:18)

My words don’t only damage others, they damage me. Untimed and uncontrolled words cause arguments, frustration, anger, irritation, bitterness, strife, worry, restlessness, anxiety, divorce, job loss, court losses. . . (the list goes on).

Plus, when I go about . . . complaining, whining, insulting, attacking, gossiping or faulting someone. . . I never feel good inside. Do you?

I regret my words. But, the hard part is knowing — how to “not say” what I know I “shouldn’t say”. Sometimes my words get out of my mouth before my mind catches up with them.

What is a fast-speaker to do?

THREE VERSES THAT GIVE WISDOM:

ONE: “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Col. 4:6

Reflect before responding. Consider: How might Jesus respond? What might God want this person to know? How can I speak truth full of overflowing love (you have to really check your motives on this one)?

TWO: “The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.” Prov. 15:4

Our words make or break people. They give life or steal life. Before you speak, ask yourself: Is what I am going to say life-adding or depleting? Will it produce blessing or increase fear? Not every story needs to be told. Not every detail needs to be divulged.

THREE: “Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.” (Prov. 21:23)

It is a matter of a wise woman to pause before she speaks. If it is not holy, righteous, of good report, worthy or true, shut-eth the trap-eth.  Ask God what He wants you to say. Then, respond-eth accordingly.

Along the way, extend yourself grace. Remember, if you spew some horrible-blahness on someone and you didn’t mean to — thanks to Jesus, your mistakes become investments in learning. Be sure to learn from the lesson and develop a plan to speak more wisely next time. If you change your words, you will change other’s lives. Be an encourager, a blesser, a visionary, a hope-filled friend, a source of life and someone people can trust in. Test it out and let me know how it goes.

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Making Room for People’s Faults

Whenever she does something – it’s off.

There’s one particular friend who can’t seem to do things exactly right. It’s as though when she buys me a gift, it’s the one color I dislike. When she says she’ll see me soon, she forgets because she “had to run more errands” and shows up 30 minutes late. When she’s trying to be thoughtful, it’s awkward.

Now, issues like this would be fine as an isolated incident, but she always and repeatedly acts this way.

I know her heart, but she lets me down  – even though her intentions are good.

It is easy for me to judge her. And, I have. Her wrong timing. Her wrong words. Her wrong ways.

But, recently, I’ve been wondering if I’ve been wrong?

God says: “Bear with each other . . . ” (Col. 3:13 NIV)

Where God wants us to bear with one other, the enemy wants to tear us apart.

Recently, I started noticing my 7-year old son’s tendency for ungratefulness. I’ll buy him the world and he acts as though I owe it to him. I go out of my way to reverse my car so he can see one particular person that looks like his teacher and he gets upset I didn’t do it fast enough. I make him a special dinner and he hardly notices. He tells me he wanted something different.

I’m like my son. I get ungrateful. I don’t see the good. I want things to cater to me at times.

I repent of this. The reality is, this friend is not perfect, but she’s pursuing relationship as best she can. She has many outstanding characteristics about her. She is giving. She makes time to show up. She goes out of her way to be thoughtful.

I’ve been hard on her. I’ve made a mistake.

I am sorry God. Father, will you help me to see the good in others, before critiquing the bad? Will you help me give thanks for the beauty you’ve created in them, even when it is hard to see?

“Make allowance for each other’s faults . . . ” (Col. 3:13 NLT)

May I make allowance so I can draw closer rather than giving enemy room to drive us apart. Thank you for your help, Father God.

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How Forgiveness Moves us Forward

By Guest Contributor: Joy A. Williams 

Forgiveness feels good when it comes my way. It scratches my itch for another chance. It lets me back in when I should be left out.

But when it’s time for me to forgive, forgiveness may feel awkward or even unfair. I know it’s the right thing to do. It’s what Jesus did for us on Calvary’s Cross. It’s what He does for me daily.

O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help. (Psalm 86:5 NLT)

Forgiveness moves us forward. I was reminded of its force when I saw a church sign a few years ago.

It read “If you stole our stuff, we forgive you.”

As I consider hurt feelings over a recent relationship struggle, the words on the sign inspire me to say: “Although you stole my stuff, I forgive you.”

I don’t know what items were missing from the church. But I do know the “items” missing from my heart.

Trust. Treasured memories. Future plans.

Are stolen items missing from your heart too?  Are chunks of dignity or pieces of a dream absent? Forgiveness doesn’t change what happened, but it changes what could happen if we don’t forgive.  We may become bound to the thing we disdain instead of becoming free to walk in God’s purpose.

And yet, I’m still learning.

Forgiveness is how we grow in front of people. Bitterness is how we grow weary by what happened.

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:31 and 32 NLT)

Letting go of an offense is a strenuous “growth opportunity.” Our pain matters.  But what Christ did for us matters too. We must decide if what He did matters most.

I can be tempted to fix things myself with a sharp-tongue or misguided perspective until I realize…

Forgiveness acknowledges what went wrong while trusting God to make it right.

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. (Proverbs 3:5 and 6 NLT)

It’s not always easy, but He can always be trusted.

I hope the person who stole the church’s items stepped up, made amends and met the Savior.  I see Christ working in my struggling relationship in both tough and tender moments.

I want Him to take over my perspective when forgiveness is required.

I praise Him for taking what was meant for evil and turning it into something good.

If your “stuff is stolen,” God knows all about your pain. Whether you need to meet the Savior or need to grow in front of people, may you be restored by His grace and move forward.

About Joy A. Williams

Joy A. Williams is an author, blogger, and speaker. She has served as a small-group Bible study leader, Women’s Conference and Retreat speaker for over twenty years.  Her years of experience of encouraging others with God’s grace has deepened her enjoyment of sharing His life-changing truth in Christ.

She is the author of Friendship MAPS: A Journey through Maturity, Aspirations, Perspectives, and Struggles. Joy shares “hope for the heart and joy to the soul” on her weekly blog (at https://joyAwilliams.com) and she loves living life in North Carolina with her husband Brady and their son.

In addition to subscribing to her weekly blog, you can also connect with Joy on Twitter or Facebook @joytothesoul and on Pinterest @joy2thesoul.

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