Purposeful Faith

Category - hope

2 Prayers That Changed Everything

I’ll never really know all that God saved my son from, but what I do know is that protection came through one thing: prayer.

I visited my son at school during his lunch hour. Something about him seemed off lately. His eyes looked a little sad. His shoulders seemed a little slumped over. His spirit of wanting to play around seemed to be missing. I just wanted to sit with him. We had a great lunch hour. I didn’t pay attention to anyone or anything else, but him.

Yet, the next day when I was praying for my 5-year old, something incredible happened.  My words to God were normal. They sounded something like: “Father, please help my son. Whatever it is that is missing at school, please provide it for him. Wherever he feels sad, comfort him. Whatever it is, I need to do, let me see it. Help me to know what to do. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

I wrapped up my time of prayer, but immediately something came over me. It was a feeling — or a prompting — that hit me right after I prayed. It seemed God was nudging my heart back to my kid’s school for his lunch hour again.

“But, God, I just went there, yesterday,” I said.

No matter, obedience is obedience. I somewhat hesitantly lifted myself off my bed and hustled out the door.

Once there, at a table full of rambunctious kids, I opened my eyes a bit more, rather than honing in just on my son. Here, I saw things I did not see the previous day. I saw how some kids were making fun of him at the table. How they laughed at him because His face got a little messy. How there was a gang of boys at work. How they were fearless in their pursuit of him even with me by my son’s side. How they whispered with their hand cupped over their mouth. I saw the defeat on my son’s face.

How did I miss this before?

No matter, I thanked God on the drive home from that lunch. I now knew what I needed to do. There were other concerns with the school. We immediately decided to pull him out of the school. But, where would he go now?

Once again, I returned to prayer. My husband and I needed to know what school to send him to as we were new to the area. We prayed. We prayed. We prayed and prayed.

Then, one day, while eating dinner, we saw a young family pass by on a walk outside. We’d wanted to meet them for weeks, so we ditched our meal and ran outside. Once there, shaking hands, we learned that the man before us was the pastor of a school that many people had been telling us about. God brought him right to our door. He explained about the “no bullying” policy at his school.

What we asked for, God answered. Not once, but twice.

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of him. (1 Jo. 5:14-15 NLT)

These are not hollow words that we half-way believe, but The Living Word of God. They are true and at work in your life and in mine.

We pray. God hears.

We ask according to His will. We have confidence in it.

We ask like this. We “have” what we asked for.

God, through prayer, takes unseemly scenarios and flips them over. Time and time again. I could tell you countless stories.

What are you facing? What seems impossible? Where do you need wisdom? Ask God, believe He hears you, walk confidently in the prayer you prayed and trust Him to answer. Be open to how He may lead you.

He may speak through a person, a predicament, His Word or some unusual way like He did for me. But, God speaks. He answers. He hears. Your every prayer matters.

Today? My son is thriving at a school full of love and grace. God led Him to just the place He needed to be.

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Loving Hard-to-Love People

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

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

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

What relationships have you run from?

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Love never fails.” (1 Cor. 13:8)

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

Love is never wasted.

 

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Let God Lift You, Today

I woke this morning feeling down. Upon my first step out of bed, a headache hit me. And, because the kids had to get to school early, I had no morning moments to spend with God.

I ran through the house finding uniforms and packing snacks, picking up plates and finding my keys. All the while, mini-assaults hit my mind. . .

That person never got back to you; she abandoned you. . .
You make mistakes Kelly; people see them. . .
You should be ashamed at how you are acting in front of your family. . .

I grunted some short words to my husband and headed out of the door.

Later, I decided to fight back. I refuse to be ruled by feelings, sickness, past issues, rejection, or annoyances.

What is ruling you? Do you feel down because of a person? Rejected because of how things played out? Ruled by what was? Tormented in your mind? Thrown off by how you act?

God broke my downcast spirit these three ways.

One: I spoke to myself, saying, “Insides, you will submit to the truth and Lordship of Jesus. You are under Him.”

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (Ja. 4:7)

Two: I considered how much God loves me.

“The Lord will not reject His people; he will not abandon His special possession.” (Ps. 94:14)

Despite what people do, God will do what He will do. He works independently of “man”.  He cares about me, His special possession.

I told God about my sadness, then I received (and spoke) the truth that He is NOT rejecting or abandoning me. He will not do that.

Three: I vowed to God to return to trust. I asked God for fresh faith-in-believing.

How blessed and greatly favored is the man who trusts in You [believing in You, relying on You, and committing himself to You with confident hope and expectation]. (Ps. 84:12 AMP)

God will be good, no matter what. It is who He is. Sometimes, our minds may get out of alignment, but the Word of God readjusts us back into place. Nothing can contend against the Sword of the Spirit.

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God’s Heart for You

If you know someone, they respond to you. For instance, if you phone someone that you know, they’ll recognize your voice. They may say, “Oh, hey there. I knew it was you.”  If, however, a telemarketer calls, the voice is foreign. They may even hang up on the unknown caller.

Jesus said we respond to Him because we know Him.

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—” (Jo. 10:14)

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (Jo. 10:27)

We listen to God’s voice.
We know God’s voice.
We follow Him.

The “knowing” instructs our going. Or, at least it should.

Sometimes I act quickly before seeking, praying and asking. These are the times I bang up against hard issues or react pridefully, making things more complex.

How often do you bulldoze ahead without fully knowing and seeking God’s heart? What He is saying?

The sheep know God’s voice; they “listen” to His voice.

The Greek word for “listen” — akouō, means, according to Blue Letter Bible: to understand or to perceive (with the ear) something being announced in one’s presence.

We are wise to “listen to God’s voice” being announced in our presence. As we listen. As we seek. As we read His Word. As we hear His words. As we notice what He is doing. As he takes us where He wants us to go.

In rightly perceiving God, we rightly find our way.

Beyond this, we come to understand that God really knows us — and loves us anyway. He has a plan to help us to be conformed to the image of Christ. He encourages our heart.

I believe God wants us, daughters, to hear things today, like:

You are mine, all mine.
You make me proud; I love who I created you to be.
You are my delight.
You are fully loved.
You are wholly mine.
You are chosen.
You are holy in Christ Jesus.

I love you.

What can you hear Him say about you? To you?

Every word aligning with the Word of God. But all His words – words from God’s heart, change our heart.  To know God is to know peace. To hear His words is to gain courage, faith, hope, and love.

What might God hoping you perceive or understand today? What message might he want to get through to you? Ask. Seek. Knock. The door will be open unto you.

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Rest a Bit. God Has this.

You never have to strive for things.

strive
/strīv/
(Google Dictionary):
make great efforts to achieve or obtain something
struggle or fight vigorously.

Striving is sweating, worrying, fussing, toiling and trying oh-so-hard. I’ve been there.

Strivers run a hamster wheel that never stops. They tend to be tired and annoyed at all God requires of them. They “make’ like they are waiting on God, but push forward like everything will combust if they actually do.

Some may call them “eager” or “over-achievers”. Underneath all of that, they often want to feel special, loved, and are afraid of failure.

Peter was a bit of a striver.

Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear.  (Jo. 18:10)

I’ll take care of this Jesus. . .
I know what to do. . .
I have the answer. . .
I can defend the situation. . .

“Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” Jo. 18:11

Jesus doesn’t need our sword to execute His plan. He doesn’t need our ambition to see through His future. He, who sees the end from the beginning, knows how to take us to where He is going.

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.  (Prov. 16:9)

We plan, God establishes.
We devise, God revises our way.
We see the great thing, God sees His greater thing through.

My latest question to God has been, “God when do you “do it” and when do you want to see me go — do it?”

His answer was, “For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.”

If everything is from Him and through Him, all for the purposes of — His glory, why would I ever want to do something through me, and steal His glory?

Striving steals God’s glory.

Prayer: God, you are God enough for me to wait on you. You are good enough for me to trust in you. Give me peace in the wait and joy in the process of seeing you move. Your ways are greater. May they come forth. Give me a heart to give you all glory. I love you, Jesus. Amen.

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Are You Experiencing A Dry Season?

Are you going through a dry season?

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

God cares for you.

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

God knows exactly what you are facing.

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

God is near and hears.

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

God looks to strengthen those with a heart for Him.

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

God will provide.

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

God will sustain you through whatever you face.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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When Speaking the Truth Hurts

Do you ever find it is hard to share your truth? To be honest with others about what you need, want or desire?

I “get it”. You see, in a couple of weeks, I plan to go to a conference. It will be a long drive there, I’m excited about it. I plan to listen to some podcasts, pray, sing songs and have some time to think about my writing and what God may want to say.  Long drives tend to be a time of reflection, introspection and seeking God.  A time when I can more clearly hear God and understand what He is calling me to do. A time of “breakthrough”.

Well, one day, when hanging out with a friend, I casually mentioned this event to her. Before I knew it, we were kind of planning to go together. I am not entirely sure how it happened. All of a sudden she was riding in my car and staying in my hotel room.

Was this what God wanted? I hadn’t taken a second to consider that.

Upon arriving home from my time with this friend, I told my husband that she was coming with me. He looked at me, head cocked to the side, and said, “Is that what you want? What God wants?  I thought you were taking a solo trip?”

In all my excitement, I forgot to think about God and about what I really wanted. I forgot to think about how much I needed alone time.

It is easy to forget what I need sometimes.

What about you? Do people pull you five steps ahead of where God is? Do feel obligated to take care of others? Do you say yes, when you mean to say no? Do you feel guilty or rude when you stand up for yourself?

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Gal. 1:10)

I had a hard time calling the friend back. But, I did. I told her that I “needed” this alone time with God and that I was going to drive up alone. I told her “we’d hang out another time soon.”  It was hard. But,  telling her “my truth” was far better than “living a lie” and then being resentful and angry at myself. And missing my alone-time with God.

She took it great. She understood. The whole process of standing up for myself wasn’t as hard as the guilt and fear made it seem. I did it! If I can do it, you can too! You can make God first, by speaking your truth.

 

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Mom, You’re Fat

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

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

She said: “Mommy, you’re fat.”

I said: “Oh really?”

I fretted: Maybe I really am – fat?

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

She said: “Mommy, what made you fat?”

How does one answer this…?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are my thoughts about this:

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

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

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

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

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How Does God Respond When His People Want to Die?

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

Sometimes it’s easier to be a spectator. When there’s an event or tragedy making headlines and getting lots of attention in the media, that’s often what I am. I sit back and read other writers’ words. I nod and silently say, “Amen.”

But over the last weeks following the suicide of two well-known celebrities, I knew I needed to contribute more than hushed acknowledgement. I watched others speak up about their own experiences with depression and bravely tell their stories, and God stirred my soul.

I know what it’s like to be in that space where you dread waking up.

To look out the window and try to feel anything other than the slow nothingness engulfing you. After having my first child, there were days I couldn’t wait to crawl into bed and slip into the abyss of sleep.

Last week I read words from a courageous one who voiced a truth most of us don’t hear very often: Someone can love Jesus but still want to die. And I applaud her for it. These are the types of conversations more of us need to have.

Days after I read her story, its points still circled my mind and I found myself wondering, “Why do we so often want to remain silent about our own darkness?” The autopilot part of me knows the answer. People who love Jesus aren’t supposed to want to take their own lives, right? They’re supposed to have faith that can heal and a spirit that finds peace in his presence, right?

Yes, these things are possible. God is able. But they aren’t always the rule. And the thought in my mind days after I read another sojourner’s words was, “Even some prophets dealt with this darkness.”

Want to see for yourself? Elijah and Jonah, who were both servants of the Lord and heard directly from him, stated they wanted to die. (See 1 Kings 19 and Jonah 4)

These were men who not only thought about dying, but openly told God they wanted to.

These were men who God chose specifically to speak to and use. He trusted them and set them apart in generations filled with people who worshiped idols, bowed to Baals and turned to everything but him to find fulfillment.

They were not far from God, but vessels of his message. They transformed lives and brought hope. At the point they stated their anguish, they had seen God perform the miraculous. Fire from heaven at Elijah’s word. For Jonah, the nation of Ninevah transformed from vile acts of brutality to repentance.

And yet, they wanted to die.

Now, I’m not going to go into the details surrounding each man’s journey. But if we read their stories, we see one was afraid of a crazy king’s wife and the other was angry. Their desire to die stemmed from very different emotions.

What I want to talk about today isn’t their reasons, but God’s response. Because there are many who think God turns away from these types of feelings and cries of despair. And I’m here to tell you he doesn’t.

So how did God respond? Did he chastise them? Turn away and cast them into hell? Hide his face and let them wander in darkness?

Not even close. Here are three ways God responds when his followers want to die:

  1. He comes to them in their need and allows them to rest.

God does not turn away from his children. He doesn’t yell, “How dare you say such a thing!” or act as though he can’t believe one of his own followers is making such a bold statement. In Elijah’s distress, he sends an angel to him with food and water. He lets him sleep and prepare for the long journey ahead. Once he’s had time to regain his strength, he follows him to Mount Horeb. To Jonah he provides shade and eases his discomfort. And although he later takes the plant away to illustrate a point to Jonah, he doesn’t leave him.

  1. He gets to the heart of the matter.

God doesn’t shy away from what’s really going on in these men’s hearts. He asks questions. He sees the things they’re not saying or asking. To Elijah he asks, “What are you doing here?” (1 Kings 19:9) and to Jonah he asks, “Is it right for you to be angry?” (Jonah 4:4) God already knows the answer to these questions. He wants the men whose hearts he’s after to see what he sees.

  1. He listens.

God doesn’t interrupt these prophets or cut them off as they’re explaining how they’ve arrived at this place. Once again, he knows the answer. In Elijah’s case, he knows he mistakenly believes he’s the only follower left. But he still lets him speak. He lets him say these words he’s been holding onto as he traveled through the wilderness thinking there was no one left to serve God.

Sometimes the journey through the wilderness is what prepares us to receive the truth.

Friend, I don’t know where you are today. I don’t know if you’re fighting through darkness or if you’re standing firm in a place of victory today. But can I tell you God sees you, no matter what? He doesn’t turn away from those places you keep buried.

God doesn’t stand in disbelief at statements like the ones from Elijah and Jonah. He comes close. He reaches through the gap. When we hurt, he hurts.

Talk to him today. Even if you don’t think he hears, talk to him anyway. He’s is right there and is waiting for you to reach for him.

 

Abby McDonald is the mom of three, a wife and writer whose hope is show readers their identity is found in Christ alone, not the noise of the world. When she’s not chasing their two boys or cuddling their newest sweet girl, you can find her drinking copious amounts of coffee while writing about her adventures on her blog. Abby would love to connect with you on her blog and her growing Facebook community.

 

 

 

 

If you need to talk or you know somebody struggling, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text with someone at the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

When You Give Your Best Away

give your best

“Give Thanks.” That is what the mug said.

Looking at it, I considered the thought deeper. I hadn’t been giving a lot of thanks lately. Mostly just gripes to God about people, timelines and the endless cause of trying to keep my house clean. In reality, I’d forgotten about thanks.

So when I considered which of the mugs to give away, it was hardly shocking that I nearly heard God say, “Kelly, thanks is made to be given away.”

Here, a mug short, I picked up the “Give Thanks,” mug. I would give it away with a heart of thanks. . .

…for, thanks is meant to be given away.

And this is the heart of hospitality. You give because you are thankful. You receive and say thank you.

So when the ladies came to my house for the event (I told you all a couple of weeks ago, that I was completely nervous about) and they selected little mugs to take home, I nearly kissed my favorite mug goodbye. Except. . . I didn’t.

When the event was over, the mug still remained on my counter. After texting the group to ask who left it, I got no response. So what I gave away in thanks, I kept.

What we give away to God, in thanks, we also keep…

We keep a smile on our face when we think of that precious moment of joy.
We keep a memory of a moment that we will treasure forever.
We keep a belief that God really will come through.
We keep a hope that God really can do the miraculous time and time again.
We keep a heart that is willing to change because God’s results are great.
We keep a fresh perspective on how much we have.

We give: thanks. We keep: everything. God doesn’t take away our cup; He fills it.

 

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

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