Purposeful Faith

Category - grace

Are you in Trouble?

in trouble

The sitter said he had an earache, but I had no idea it was this bad. No idea. Not the kind of bad where the kid shrieks like a wild coyote. If I’d known I would have been home earlier.

I rushed the five-year-old to urgent care. Of course, one step in that germ-laden place and I realized we were bathing in a pool of flu.

Time passed….Ahchoo!
More time passed…cough, cough!
More time passed…nose blowing!
Nothing. Germs grew legs and seemed to walk right on us.

With a crying kid in my arms, I felt like crying too. Apparently, some people had been waiting over an hour and a half. We were getting nowhere and son was getting ansy…

“Get me in there, mommeeeee….it hurts so bad…”

All I could think was, “Mommy bear. Must. Save. Baby. Cub.”

I rushed the desk, but the desk soldiers appeared unimpressed with my strategies. Perhaps, to appease me – or to get rid of me – they sent me upstairs to the soon-to-be-opening unit.  “There, you may have better luck,” they said.

Once upstairs, I saw my opportunity – the nurses, fresh meat, waiting to start their job, waiting for the onslaught of sickness to hit… I approached them and explained son’s pain, his tears and us not wanting to be exposed to the flu. I told them we REALLY, REALLY, REALLY (wink! wink!) were excited to see them. We, then, sat down.

Before not too long, elevators pushed open and the other sicklings walked in.

Now, I wish I could tell you I’d been more compassionate. In retrospect, it would have been delightful if son and I had prayed for them. It would have been extraordinary if we reached out in their time of need. It would have been a great story if we smiled and changed their day, but, nope – that’s a devotional for a different day. All I could see was – son.

And, all God can see is us.

You know, parents go to any lengths to take care of kids in trouble.

I went to – whining, pleading and strategizing lengths – to get my son through that waiting room door. And guess what? It worked.

Those nurses I sweet-talked got us in that office ASAP. My efforts counted.

Are you in trouble?

Do you believe you have a parent pleading on your behalf? Fighting for you?

You know, my son, as he sat in that waiting room, he kept asking,”Why don’t you fix things, Mommy? Why can’t I get where I want to go?”

We’re just like him.

We think God has left us in a waiting room, with infected people and a whole gamut of issues that will never be resolved. He hasn’t. He’s working on things. There is a process. There will be a cure forthcoming. We need only hold tight.

While we are silent, God is fighting for us (Ex. 14:14). While we wait, the Spirit is pleading for us (Ro. 8:26). While we don’t know the way, God is unfolding it (Prov. 16:9).

Know today, your ailment is a grand appointment to meet with a good, good God.

The Things God Teaches Us in the Dark

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

“I should’ve had all my babies in the summer,” I said jokingly to my friend. Only it wasn’t a joke. We were full into the flu season and I was trying to keep both boys healthy as we awaited the birth of our child- a girl. Trying and failing.

All of us caught colds in the final weeks before her arrival. Panic seized me as I imagined bringing our newborn home to a germ-infested house.

The fight against illness and seasonal elements was hard enough, but there was another battle waging. Another reason a winter baby gave me a sense of dread.

I remembered the months of depression that followed the birth of my first child, who was born in the middle of summer. Baby girl would arrive a few weeks before the official start of winter. The dreariness of the season always brought a gloomy mood with it, and on top of it we were adding newborn baby isolation.

A few weeks after our bout with illness, we brought our new girl home and the overcast weather swept in like clockwork. We weren’t supposed to take her into crowded places for a month.

The first few days I was too tired to care, but one afternoon I felt like the walls were closing in around me. Everything bothered me. I questioned my abilities as a mom and a wife, and at night when our newborn wouldn’t sleep, the tears came.

Sometimes when we go through difficult seasons of life, the lessons we learn stay with us. But most of them need repeating.

We humans are forgetful people.

As I repeated the mistakes I made with my firstborn, God brought me to some timely words from a fellow sojourner. And I realized in my sleep-deprived state I was assuming this battle against depression was purely an emotional one.

I was negating the spiritual side all together.

We have an enemy who loves to use our seasons of physical and emotional weaknesses to whisper spiritual lies. We are so much more gullible when we’re tired. We’re more likely to accept his lies as truth when we our bodies are healing from surgery, illness and pain.

But you want to know the beautiful irony in all this? Those times when the thief creeps in are also the times when God can do his mightiest works.

His power works best when we’re at our weakest point. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

I tried to wrestle with God and walk in my own strength, but He just wanted me to let him carry me. Sure, I could take my vitamins, drink my coffee and catch cat naps here and there. All those things were needed.

But what I needed most was his grace. I needed it when I snapped at my husband and kids. Most of all, I needed it when I disappointed myself.

We can say his grace is sufficient for us, but change won’t come until we truly believe it. And it doesn’t just cover us enough for our shortcomings.

It drenches us.

The more I embraced this, the more the darkness shrank back and I saw the sun breaking behind the clouds.

The more I let him cover me, the more I saw that I didn’t have to pretend I had it all together. I could just be me, imperfections and all. And because of Jesus, that was enough.

Order Kelly Balarie’s new book, Fear Fighting today! Or, get all her blog posts by email. Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

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

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

Finding the Good in Your Bad

Good in Your Bad

I cuddled with coffee (which is no doubt one of my favorite things to do). It warms me better than mittens on a cold day, which it was. I was sitting on my outside bench and enjoying the frosty morning. Not expecting to see what I was about to see…

Because, after you’ve sat on your porch day in and day out, things start to look, well…monotonous. Been there…seen that – the tree placed on the side of the yard, the bird house a little off to the side and the neighbors car – almost out of line’s site.

I know what’s out there – I can see everything.

My kids? I know their story and what their day will entail. My husband? I know him well, if not, too well. The blog? I know what I do each day. My problems? I can see them ruining me.

I know things – and maybe, this is precisely my problem.

What if by knowing everything, by relying on what I see, I am missing the chance to believe in what I can’t?

What if by seeing things as they are, I am not seeing by faith?

What if, by slightly changing perspective, I could change everything?

If, by believing in what I do not see,…

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Heb 11:1)

I might receive what is best for me…

…so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe. (Gal. 3:22)

Why don’t I full rely on God’s eyes to see…

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. (Eph. 1:18-19)

Maybe my life feels dull and ordinary because I’ve relied far too much on my own vision. God wants me to push pasty my might so I adopt his sight of that frees the captive, that brings beauty out of ashes and that overpowers the forces of darkness. I think I’ve missed out. And, what hits me is – when I seek to see like God sees, I experience a new way to be.

What appears like a shut door,
is really God’s way of sending me off in His new way.

What looks like a kid with a bad attitude is
really an opportunity to bring the gospel to her heart.

What lives like a long waiting period is really time
for me to prepare my heart for what God might want to do.

What comes at me like an in-your-face rejection,
is really a reminder God gives better gifts.

What appears to be time-lost is the chance to see
God reclaim, miraculously, what was lost.

If we don’t believe, how will we ever see – God’s greatest works?

For the one who believes God can do all things, for them, they get to see these things – and greater things.

When did I become such a jaded Christian? I am sorry God. Heal my unbelief. Restructure my faith. Pour out grace. Enliven me in belief with no bounds. I don’t want partial faith in your goodness, but an all out allegiance to your way, your truth and your life. Amen.

And, as I sit there on that bench, surrounded by commonplace things on a commonplace day, I see something far less common. I see, beyond a stone’s throw, a leaf – one I had never seen before in my life. It was oddly shaped, as if it should be in some exotic locale. It is beautiful, awe-inspiring and special. It teaches me – when we get expectant to see, God puts his beauty before us.

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

More Reading:

When You Long to Do Something Bad

How to Find Rest in God

Do you Need a New Perspective?

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Are People Always Judging You?

Sizing you Up

For the longest time, judgments have thrown me off.

If I saw you looking at me weird, I was convinced you hated me.
If you had a comment that I wasn’t doing things right, I’d be devastated.
If you raised an eyebrow at my parenting style, I’d want to go climb into a hole and stay there until you are long gone.

It’s been hard for me to contend with people who condemn.

With certain people, I expect them to act a certain way. I can almost hear the words they’re going to say before they say them. I can almost see the pain strike my heart before the words are even formed in their mouth. With this, I internally fear and steer clear of them. I put up layers so they don’t prick me. I hide to protect my own hide.

I think, today, though, I am ready to admit, I am pretty much tired of this approach. I no longer want to relegate myself to a hole like a tiny mouse unworthy and unable to be myself. I want to step out – into the light – and do my thing, gnaw on cheese, squeak with joy or pounce around without caring what you, or anyone else, for that matter, thinks.

Jesus didn’t tell us to hide our light. He told us to shine it.

Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Mt. 5:15-16

Recently, I met with a friend. She’s spent every day of her life being who a family member wanted her to be. I could see how it had taken a toll on her. I could see she was ready to, like a butterfly, break out of her cocoon and fly-free. I wanted to see her colors. I knew God had something great for her – when she’d start being – who he made her to be.

God is helping me to see things. If we let external criticisms dwell as internal truths, we’ll live imprisoned. You see, the peanut gallery will always have comments as to who we should be. Yet, we don’t have to be who they say we should be. Who we should be is – who God created us to be.

What if Jesus changed who God created him to be in order to accommodate man’s standards? In order to please Pharisees or religious elite?

Jesus didn’t let criticism and condemnation define him. With this, God gives man’s condemnation no room to define us either. There is simply no one who has the power to destroy us. Because Jesus believed in who Father made him to be, and walked accordingly, he duct-taped the world’s mouth shut. No one could waver the mission of Jesus, because Jesus never gave them the chance to.
I want to be like that. Do you

Like Jesus, if we just hear the Word of God and walk accordingly, it doesn’t matter what man says. He can’t change our destiny. He can’t wreck our future. He may try to tell us we are ugly, we will never succeed or we are always falling short. But…blah, blah, blah he goes.
Jesus is in me.
The Spirit is alive.

The fruits of the Spirit are growing.

With this power working from me, I can turn right back around and say to him words of: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and self-control.

Why? Not because I am good, but because Jesus’ good love holds me tight and says, I am untouchable. I am unremovable from his care. I am undeniably chosen and wanted. For Jesus is attached in me, not the words of someone trying to take me down.

Other reading:
Dealing with Super Annoying People
When People Complicate Things
Dethrone Mean People

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Renewing My Mind

I crave being made new.

I have a great desire to be a Size 6 and for firm thighs and flat tummy.  However, why do I equate my physical shape with the depths of my salvation?

They are hardly the same thing.

Somewhere in the twists and turns of thought and belief, I have convinced myself my mind is lacking.  I further the insanity by affirming said ideas when I look in the mirror.  What is this malady of lies I foster and feed?  When did I first believe that my appearance formulated my spirit?  If tomorrow I were to meet with an accident and lost a limb would I believe in Jesus any less?

By no means.

Would a handicap define me as lacking in my belief that Jesus died so that I might walk in the freedom of my salvation?

If this were true, why the Cross…. Continue reading and LINK UP!  

#RaRaLink UP

When You Let God Down

Let God Down

Half my life I lived like this man, saying: “What good thing must I do to reach eternal life?” (Mt. 19:16)

Within my mind, I figured the answer was, “Kelly, fix everything you’re doing wrong.” Jesus responds in a similar fashion to this man, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all you have…” (Mt. 19:21)

If I want to be perfect, go and offer more play time to my children.
If I want to be perfect, go and make better dinners.
If I want to be perfect, go to the store and buy tableware for get-togethers.
If I want to be perfect, go and find God and stop feeling guilty.
If I want to be perfect, go to Africa or India and be a missionary.

What do you need to do to be perfect?
What are you constantly criticizing yourself about?

Jesus goes on, “It’s harder for a rich man to get into the Kingdom of God than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.” (Mt. 19:24)

I know a person who feels so guilty about money. Their money makes them feel like they’ve been caught red-handed and God will slap them for having it. They nearly hate themselves for it. I am sure, they’ll probably hand it all out the very second before their last breath, just to make up for the guilt of holding on to it so long. Just to make sure God knew, they didn’t really need it after all.  I think they’ve missed the point.

But, who am I to judge? I am guilty too. I am just as rich…

I am rich in my self-sufficiency.
I am rich with my desire to manage daily happenings.
I am rich in comfort.
I am rich with my judgments of others.
I am rich with own opinions.
I am rich with the desire to have earthly security.

I am hardly poor and deeply in need of Christ. I am hardly poor and wanting the fullness of him in every moment. I am hardly poor and wanting less of my flesh and more of his Spirit.

I am so rich. So rich, I feel Jesus might not like me anymore. You’ve ever been there? Feeling so off course that you’ll land shipwrecked and stuck frostbitten in Antartica without a God to save you?

Jesus’ disciples finally asked, “Who, then, can be saved?” Jesus said, “This is impossible for human beings, but for God, everything is possible.” (Mt. 19:26)

And, there it is. Like the ending to an epic movie – in sweeps the hero, the rescuer, the knight who saves the day – it is Jesus. He knows what we are without him is — ruined. But, he also knows, who we are with him is – rescued.

Jesus knew we’d never be perfect.
Jesus knew we all act – rich.

And this is the point. Jesus’ on-earth arrival points to the fact – there is none perfect, nor rich, except Jesus. Yet, in the gap of our wealth, we have available the wealth of Jesus. When we accept it, we intercept spiritual riches earth could never muster.

Jesus hands out what we believed the world never could. Jesus changes what we figured was written in stone. Jesus blasts through barriers, even when the barriers appears like our own wretchedness.

Underneath everything, Savior saves; he brings the kingdom on earth as it is in heaven, not to enforce Christian guilt, but to relieve it.

Inhale. Jesus knows failings; he releases them in the sight of his grace. And, what we are left with is not only an amazing ending, but an amazing here and now. A place we can rest.

Related Reading:
When Life Comes Down On You
When You Feel Abandoned By God
5 Personal Vulnerability Points That the Devil Attacks

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

 

When It Appears God Hurt You

God Hurt You

Have you ever felt like you were following through on what God called you to do? But, it seemed he was punishing you?

Perhaps, he’s called you to love a difficult person.
Perhaps, he’s called you to serve in a difficult spot.
Perhaps, he’s called you to wait on him.
Perhaps, he’s called you to stay put in a place you don’t want to.

Paul went to Macedonia saying, “God had called us to preach the gospel (in Macedonia).” (Act 16:10)
There, he cast out a demon in a woman, saying, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” (Acts 16:18)
Only to land himself in prison when the owners of the woman realized they lost “their hope of making money.” (Acts 16:9)

If I was Paul, I might throw my hands up in the air and say, “Thanks a lot, God. You really know how to send a woman out and then let her down.”

Paul and crew were stripped, flogged, beaten and thrown in jail.

What do you do when it seems God – led you, but now he’s fled you?

It’s easy to feel angry, frustrated and indifferent in this place?

Years back, God called me to start a company. I seeking God with all my heart. I was obedient in the work, diligent in the process and hopeful in prayer, yet it didn’t happen. It tanked so badly, there were tens of thousands of dollars on the line. That was tough.

What is tough place has God called you to?

Here’s how Paul responds, within the walls of his prison: About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. (Acts 16:25)

Imagine that? Beaten, wounded and imprisoned, yet still singing, praising and evangelizing…

This act, brings me to a place of pause: What if rather than seeing my disgrace, I believed God, for me, would about-face my situation? 

And, in this I could give praise?

Did Paul believe this?

Did he know his good God would most certainly do a good thing?

Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. (Acts 16:26)

When we believe in God’s power, his power tools break down high walls. When we are in the center of God’s will, God works a way out for us. When we are worshipping, God is working on our behalf to open doors.

I think Paul believed in the power of God. What if we believed too?

When that person hurts us. God can shake us in love that heals.
When that dream fizzles. God will quake new dreams in us; He has a plan.
When pain surfaces: Through God all things are possible. We will wait.
When we see no way out: God will mine gold in our heart through this.
When we feel bad: Jesus’ forgiveness rattles our soul in unwarranted acceptance that feels like peace.

God will show up and when he does the power of his work – will set you free. Until, then, like Paul, “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” (Psalm 27:14)

The Care and Keeping of a Mean Girl

Post by: Jami Amerine

At a recent doctor’s appointment, I learned my physician suspected that the greatest health crisis I was facing was… dehydration.  That’s right, I am thirsty.

I consider myself fairly intelligent when it comes to health and nutrition.  I confess, I am embarrassed by this diagnosis.  Alas, I knew he was correct.  And the fact of the matter is, I don’t have time to drink eight, 8 oz. glasses of water a day.  On the days I do get that much water in my thirsty body, I don’t have time to make it to the bathroom in an efficient ratio of water in, urine out… so I am fairly miserable for 90% of the 64 ounces.

Needless to say, I left my doctor’s office feeling defeated, depleted and discouraged. There isn’t any way that my scale can be ten pounds lower than his. Is he just a vindictive mad scientist?  I sat in my car and had a hale and hearty cry and then as I examined myself in the mirror, I began to multitask. I reapplied mascara and lip gloss while listing all things I find most awful about myself.

Fat.
Loser.
Lazy.
Dehydrated.
Whiner.

Horrible at math, mostly weights and measures.

Exasperated.
Phoney.

And the worst of all… mean.

I am a very mean girl.

I called the friend who was babysitting our young son and two foster placements and told her I would be there in an hour. I went to the store and bought her a lovely fall floral arrangement and the ingredients to put a fragrant squash soup in her crock pot for dinner. Crusty bread and an apple pie were added to my basket.

I would take great care of my friend for helping me.

On my way to the checkout, I stopped and grabbed chocolates for my sister, my husband’s favorite cookies, and the children’s favored frozen pizza.  I scurried to the other side of the store and thoughtfully picked lovely greeting cards to bless my friends, our foster-daughter’s birth mom and her caseworker too.  Just before I checked out, I filled my basket with an abundance of toiletries for our three oldest children  who are at college. Then I made my way to the gift wrapping aisle to find bright colored bags to put the shampoos, shaving gels, creams, lotions, and deodorants in;  if I hurried I could leave the bags at their dorms before I picked up my babies.

When I climbed back in my car, quite pleased with the purchases, I would bless my darlings with, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Immediately I began to admonish myself, I forgot to grab myself any water.  I rehashed the list of my faults:

Chubby.

Dumb.

Slothful.

Parched.

Grumbler.

Frustrated.

Fake.

And the worst of all… mean.

I am a very mean girl.

About that time my daughter called to ask about my doctor appointment. I reported to her my struggle and she chirped, “OH MY GOSH MOM!  You must get this new app!  It’s called plant nanny!”

I followed her instructions and downloaded the app. I picked a cute little cartoon plant and begrudgingly entered my weight and read my results. The plant nanny decided how much water I must drink to keep my little imaginary plant conscious alive. The little seedling blinked at me with trusting animated eyes and I cooed at the psychological entrapment that would force me to drink enough water to nurture the cybernetic life into a blooming dependant illusion.

Over the next few days, I became more diligent in my pursuit of water. My iPhone would alert, my little make-believe Japanese succulent would bat her eyes at me and I would drink, click, and apply “water” to my H2O conscious companion.  I treated that animated being like royalty, then on the 4th day, a tragedy arose.

I lost my phone.

I turned the house upside down, it was nowhere to be found.  Later that evening, I recovered my phone between the  couch cushions.  When I opened the plant nanny app I knew immediately, the app had died of thirst.

Fat.

Loser.

Lazy.

Dehydrated.

Killer of simulated Japanese succulents…

And the familiar voice hummed in my ears, “You are so mean… you were so good to tend to that imaginary plant.  You are so kind to your neighbors, orphans, and case workers. You observe such careful and tedious attention to everyone, but you are so mean to My girl.”

I know this to be true.

The things that come out of my mouth toward myself are brutal. The TLC I afford those around me is stellar. The attention I bestowed upon the animated succulent … was criminal compared to the neglected efforts I make to grab myself, His girl – an artless glass of water.

I am most convicted of this, I may look as though I love my neighbor… but how could I possibly when I so blatantly despise myself?  How can I be so hard and ugly to the daughter of the Most High?  How can I spend so much energy on what I deem righteous and be so cruel to myself?  He who died for me, that I might be called blameless… His girl. I agreed with Him. It was not what He wanted for me. He wants me to recognize, I am clothed in His goodness. He sees me as perfected. He adores me as His own.

I have neglected the gift of my inheritance, daughter of Jehovah.  I deleted my plant nanny app.  I applied mascara and powdered my nose.  I grabbed my glass off the table and filled it with new water.

Water that this beautiful girl needs to bless the nations with wealth, prosperity and the Good News of Jesus Christ.

A champion for the little guy, a woman on a mission. Refreshed and adequately warned, don’t mess with His girl.

And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a slain offering and sacrifice to God – a sweet fragrance. Ephesians 5: 2

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

547592_3961306391397_890561921_n (1)Jami Amerine is a wife, and mother to anywhere from 6-8 children. Jami and her husband Justin are active foster parents and advocates for foster care and adoption. Jami’s Sacred Ground Sticky Floors is fun, inspirational, and filled with utter lunacy with a dash of hope. Jami holds a degree in Family and Consumer Sciences (yes Home Ec.) and can cook you just about anything, but don’t ask her to sew. She also holds a Masters Degree in Education, Counseling, and Human Development. Her blog includes topics on marriage, children, babies, toddlers, learning disabilities, tweens, teens, college kids, adoption, foster care, Jesus, homeschooling, unschooling, dieting, not dieting, dieting again, chronic illness, stupid people, food allergies, and all things real life. You can find her blog at Sacred Ground Sticky Floors, follow her onFacebook or Twitter.

 

 

 

Grace for One Who Self-Condemns

Self-Condemns

I sat in the car, head down and thoughts heavy.

I can’t get things straight with this person.  I seem to bother them. I seem to aggravate them. I seem to be a burden on their life.

She who feels condemns condemns.

Have I been condemning?

The thought pressed closer to my chest, piercing my heart. Does their lack of approval regarding me, act like a boomerang,  and move right back on them?

They seem irritated, so I get irritated because they are irritated and we stand at an impasse. They snap at me, later, I fear they’ll do it again, so I use a harsh voice. They don’t listen. I come down hard and demand to be heard.

Anger at myself settles. Once again, I’m the problem. I hate that feeling and its abysmal return.

She who is beating herself up can’t heal another one up.

More anger at myself settles in.

She who is not freed by grace can’t free others by grace.

More anger at myself settles in, except with it also comes the thought that if I really want progress, I really need to accept grace. Not just accept it in a way where I wear it on the outside, but instead, wear it, internally, like a stint that keeps the oxygen of my life flowing. One that keeps my heart beating and moving in ways that are transformational and life-giving to be both me and others.

Therefore let us [with privilege] approach the throne of grace [that is, the throne of God’s gracious favor] with confidence and without fear, so that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find [His amazing] grace to help in time of need [an appropriate blessing, coming just at the right moment]. (Heb. 4:16 AMP)

I am welcome to walk right up to God’s grace; I can approach the throne of grace with all confidence and no fear. When I walk up to it, I need not think, I will be turned away, but I may just know mercy will be mine. It will be mine for every failure and it will work for me in my time of need. It will be an “appropriate blessing, coming at just the right moment.” I like this.

With this, I may approach this person differently.

Grace lets me move forward with imperfections and with room for my mistakes, faults and failures in Christ Jesus.

God’s love removes my need for a defensive spirit.
God’s mercy covers my guilt with new life.
God’s forgiveness is not something I should feel shame for receiving.

I am being developed into this likeness of Jesus and this takes time.

What might grace, seized with confidence and no fear,
look like in your life?

What form might God’s – “appropriate” and timely blessings  –
take as you make space for them?

My heart is called today to be a grace-getter. Do you know what a grace-getter looks like?

It looks like a person who shoves fear down a ditch, then runs up to the foot of the cross. She waves her arms and says, “Hey God, over here. My ways aren’t working so well, God.  I need you to relieve me of my pain.”

She who gets grace –  gives grace.

She knows, in her time of need, God has things covered and the blood of Jesus is just enough.

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Have You Lost Peace?

Lost Peace

I am delighted to have Susan Pettrey from Brooklyn Tabernacle join us. Susan is a tremendous force for the Lord. She is used in ways, I know, she can’t even begin to imagine. She has impacted my life through prayer. It is a pure delight to welcome Susan today for Women’s Ministry Monday.

It was another night of going through the normal bedtime routine I have with my 6-year old son, Levi. Something was wrong.  It had been for days.  He was unusually hyper, unfocused and distant from me. I knew why.

We had recently moved to a new neighborhood, and within the past month, Levi had to adjust to a new home, school, peer group and, even, a new nanny.  It was a lot.  It would be for any child, but Levi is adopted and, as I’ve learned, adopted children intensely crave security.

I can only imagine what goes on in his little mind as he tries to process the implications of his adoption and life, but it was no mystery that all of the recent changes were creating extreme anxiety in his heart.

As Levi jumped up and down on his bed, I decided that a reprimand was not what was needed at that moment.  Levi needed to be ministered to.  I asked him what was bothering him only to be given his typical response of “nothing”.

The more I probed the more Levi tried to change the subject until, finally, I said, “Honey, it’s very clear right now that you don’t have peace in your heart.”

With that, Levi got quiet and waited for me to continue telling him what he couldn’t find the words to express himself.  I did my best to validate his feelings. Then, I encouraged him with words of hope.

I told him that I knew God had led us to this new home and, so, we could trust He had a plan. It would be for all of our good.

He laid his little head on my chest. I could feel his body slowly begin to relax.  It was as though my confidence…or peace about Levi’s life and future was transferring into his own heart.

We prayed together. I kissed him goodnight with an assurance that his anxiety had subsided.  I was grateful for that moment and thanked God for it without realizing the deeper truth He was going to teach me.

When I opened my Bible the next day, this is what I read- “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

As I pondered the verse, God showed me my exchange with Levi was just a dim reflection of what He desires to have with me.

So often, when life has been difficult and seemingly out of control, I’ve prayed for more peace.  As if the process involved God giving me the power to muster up my own peace in the midst of my troubles.  But, now, what Jesus was saying became so alive to me as I remembered my experience the night before.

Just as Levi received my peace as his own,
so Jesus wants to give us HIS peace.

When we were saved, God’s Spirit took residence in us.  Our old man was put to death and, now, it is no longer we who live but Christ who lives through us.  How often I forget the benefits that come with this great truth.  I don’t have to be a better “Susan” anymore.  All I need to do is look to my Savior who longs to give me everything He is.  Not only does Jesus want to fill me with things like His love, His strength, and His wisdom, but He desires to fill me with HIS very own peace too!

Not a peace that is manufactured by me or dependent on imperfect people or an unstable world. It’s a divine peace rooted in the one, true God who has all authority over heaven and earth.

It’s a supernatural peace that can never be moved or shaken by the circumstances of life. It’s a peace that comes from the One who knows how the story really ends.

Whatever the challenges we might be facing at this moment, Jesus invites us to lay our head on His chest and receive His peace today.

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Susan Pettrey’s Bio

img_8712_2Susan Pettrey is the second daughter of Jim and Carol Cymbala, who pastor the Brooklyn Tabernacle in Brooklyn, NY.  Susan grew up witnessing great moves of God and His power to change the most hopeless of lives.  As an adult, Susan has been all over the spectrum of ministry at the Brooklyn Tabernacle.  She has served as a worship leader and soloist in the choir.  She is the director of the women’s ministry, as well as, the BT Drama Company, where she writes and produces full-length plays that are used to minister to the church and evangelize her city.  Her greatest priority, however, is her wonderful husband, Brian, and four amazing children, Luke (19), Claire (16) and Levi (6) and Charlotte (1)