Purposeful Faith

Category - Contentment

Finding true contentment

Do You Feel Hurt?

She put me down, right there in front of “all them.” Sure, it was subtle, but it was real and … worst of all, it wasn’t the first time. In fact, every time I encourage others around that one particular subject, she circles right back and shoots it down. You can’t get one thing past her.

Hmph! Well, if she’s going to put me down like that? Well…I’ll show her. I don’t have to put up with this.

I thought about leaving the gathering. But I didn’t. I just sat there, internally fuming, while externally smiling.

Later, when I got home, I wondered why I even bother speaking up, encouraging others or taking the risk to be open and honest. Women always hurt me. Like that one time I shared the vulnerable details of my heart, only to get word it was being passed through the meat grinder of women’s chattering mouths. Or the other time when I shared my hurt and it was misinterpreted and stomped upon by those around me. Or worst yet, when I shared about God and felt all the crawling judgment of others walking up and down my body.

The more I think about all this, the more the problem bothers me. And worst yet, I fear: what if the real problem is – me? Perhaps it’s not their issue, but my fatal-flaw issue. One I was born with. What then?

I must not be good. I must be unlikable. I’ll always have this problem.

When I look deep within myself, I see faults:

I sometimes seek to impress others.
I hate feeling like people aren’t approving of me.
I never want to be seen as one doing wrong.
I have a hard time when people disagree.
I feel like less of a person when I’m not adding value.
I feel worthier when God is using me for important things.

Yet, when I look a level deeper I see something else. Yes, I am flawed, but not fatally – thanks to Jesus. I say things wrong, but I am always wanted. I make mistakes, but I am always loved. I do need to say, “I’m sorry,” but I am always forgiven.

I am not the sum of what I do, but the product of how I’m loved by Jesus.

The same goes for you. Love pours out of you, because Love came for you and conquered all. He taught. He led. He bled. He died. He was buried. He rose to heaven. For you.

With this, we no longer have to create perfect love that demands perfect responses from others. Instead, we can rest in Him who is perfect love. We can trust His love to compel us. We can breathe deep and gain perseverance and endurance from the endlessly beautiful gift he extends to us. The gift called, “sweet relief.”

“For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14, NIV).

 

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A Small Thing with Huge Damage

I noticed a scratch on the kitchen floor.

“Where did that come from?” I asked as I pointed it out to my husband.

“I don’t know.” He said.

The next day, I looked down on the ground and there were probably about 5 more.  What in the world?!

I had just put felt-bottoms on those chairs. It makes no sense at all that they would be damaging the floors like this. But, they were. . .

I got down on my hands and knees, flipped the chair over, only to find a rock about the size of two specks of pepper.

This little rock could do that much damage? I said to myself while holding it in my hand.

It certainly can.

What little rock do you have in your life right now? Mine is complaining.

I keep on speaking-out what is not right, what hasn’t happened, and what isn’t coming together. I’ve been griping a bit. I’ve been being a little dour and sour. Commenting on little things. . .far too much.

“Show hospitality to one another without complaining.” (1 Pet. 4:9)

But, the reality of this is: I haven’t been creating a hospitable atmosphere for my family. The environment shifts the second I speak-out — a bad attitude.

What about you?

Are you uplifting others or killing the joy? Speaking life or making everyone participate in your every annoying moment?

People don’t remember the food we made them, the house we let them walk into, nor the gifts we sent them away with — they remember how we made them feel.  Even more, I wonder today, how am I making the Holy Spirit feel, as He lives within me.

Are we being hospitable to the Holy Spirit, who indwells within us?

Today, I commit to all of you, to do my best, to mind my mouth. To think before I speak. To bring my grievances to God. To gain perspective before blurting-out. Now, I probably won’t be perfect (because who is?), but I do plan to be mindful.

Prayer: Father God, may I speak only what is good, noble, worthy and of good report. I want to love others around them, not pull them down into my muck and mire. Give me the grace I need to focus on what is positive and powerful, in you. Then, I will be full of joy and life. Give me the wisdom, as well, to speak thanksgving more than complaint. When I think of it, I do have so much to be thankful for. I praise you today, In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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A Spiritual Tune-Up

As I sat there, I noted, before he began to play he turned. One-by-one, he strummed each string. Why? He was tuning his instrument. He wanted to make sure every chord sounded right. So, he tested them again and again. . .

“Who can discern his own errors? Cleanse me from my hidden faults.” (Ps. 19:12)

Just as this man took the time to ensure his overall melody was not off, so too should we evaluate the strings of our faith.

Are you living in-tune to God or out-of-tune? In line with His fullness or a little off-track?

Let’s test your strings. . .

Do you hear the voice of love or condemnation?

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Ro. 8:1)

Are you feeling full of the Spirit or full of fear?

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” (2 Tim. 1:7)

Are you trusting God by faith or are you striving, by works?

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9)

If you are out of tune today, don’t start berating yourself or hating yourself. It is as simple as tuning the string; simply adjust course. Repent of what was and move into what’s new.

These small-adjustments will help you to play a whole new song over your life.

 

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What You Should Do Right Now

From the second I went on the airplane, I was sure that God was up to something. What? Only time would tell. . .

Squeezing in between a woman and her aisle seat, I sat down in the middle row, next to a man with glasses, who was eager to talk.

“What do you do?” He inquired of me.

“I write books. Christian books.” I said. Then, I inquired, “How is your relationship with God?”

He explained that it had hit some hiccups since his wife “did what she did.” I could see the anger in his eyes. It was almost as if, I knew, he had ‘a right’ to be angry with her.  He went on to tell me that ‘what she did in a moment had a lifetime of consequences’. They’d now been divorced for years.

We continued to talk . . . He longed for a woman. He felt alone. This season was — hard.

Yet, the more we sat there, the more something in me said — he still loves ‘her’. He deeply loves her.

I asked him, “Could you ever forgive her?”

He said, “For that?  I still believe in God, but I can NOT forgive her.”

He seemed furious. Even so, I encouraged him to forgive. I covered points, like:

– “Unforgiveness will never hurt her more, but only you.”
– “What anger and bitterness you leave in you — grows.”
– “Unforgiveness is like a bad seed — you can’t expect it to grow good stuff.”
– “Forgiveness will be your freedom — if you let it be. . .”

Oh friends, you all don’t know how badly I wanted him to forgive her. . . .Somehow, I imagined that they might even be able to get back together. Somehow, I knew what he wanted was on the other side of saying, “I forgive her. God help me to let this go.”

Jesus answered, “I tell you, (forgive) not seven times, but seventy-seven times. (Mt. 18:22)

But, he looked at me flatly and said, “I just can’t. I just am not ready.”

While I respected His desire, I felt like sinking down into my seat. . . If only he knew. . . 

He could be free of his anger. He could move on. He could begin to have deeper relationships. He could. . . At the same time, God is a respecter of free-will, be it towards freedom or bondage, life or death. Sadly, this man wanted to keep his anger. Not left with many other options, I encouraged him to “think about what I had said and to accept God’s grace for the timing of forgiveness. . .”

Even so, I went home thinking about you. Are you choosing to walk in freedom or bondage? I know people have offended you, taken advantage of you, spoken about you, retaliated, been obnoxious around you, stolen from you. . . and done so many other things towards you. With this, I wonder, which are you choosing — freedom or bondage?

You know, this man excused away forgiveness saying, “I don’t think about her. I pretend it is not there.”

That doesn’t work. There are many things that don’t work.  Only forgiveness frees us. The rest of it puts us in greater bondage.

“And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.” (Eph. 4:26-27)

Friend — big or small, years ago or ‘it just happened’, forgotten about or not — please — let it go to Jesus, now. You will be better for it.

Prayer: God, I have feelings about what this person has done to me. They have (insert their injury here). . . I do feel upset, hurt or (insert your feelings here). However, God, I don’t want to live my life being enslaved to judging, critiquing, retaliating or injuring them. I want You to fight this battle. You are the ultimate Justice-Bringer and Healer. With this, I release them from my heart. I let them go to you. I forgive (insert name) and I ask you to bless them. Please pour out the grace they and so desperately need right now. Thank you that as forgiveness goes forth, new vision comes in. Help me to see more of you, God?

 

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How to Pray

This morning my husband happened to flip over a vase in our house. Surprisingly, little pieces of folded white paper fell, like snow, from this vase and danced to the ground. My son was enthralled. Immediately, he fell to the ground and opened the little pieces, like it was Christmas.

They were our old prayers. Prayers from, about a year ago…all splayed out on the floor.

The more we opened them, the more our mouths opened wide: God had answered so many of them. He had literally helped my daughter to stop sucking her fingers. He provided blueprints to my husband’s business. He gave me fresh wisdom for another book and the means to get there. Answer upon answer, breakthrough upon breakthrough, word upon word — HE did it.

Oh, how easy it is to miss all the things God is doing — and has done.

Dear friends, let me tell you something, I don’t think the timing of this downfall is a coincidence. With this happening this morning, I believe God wants you to know: He is moving through the power of prayer. It is no wonder that I’ve been praying for you – and you have been praying for me — and now He splays out answered prayers on my floor.

God IS answering prayer. Believe! Believe, afresh. God IS doing it.

Needless to say, I feel inspired to share all-splayed-out-on-the-floor prayer-process with you today. . .

It started with my friend, and wise Pastoral Counselor, Karen Mortensen, who — way back when — taught me about a “Casting Bowl”.  She, with wisdom, explained that we can take our worries, our fears, and areas we want to control and “cast (our) cares onto the Lord, for He cares (for us).”

In this, we can hand to God what is no longer ours to carry. We begin to “cast”– by writing it down on a little paper, and then we give it to him — by casting it into a little bowl or vase.  Here, we literally – let. it. go.

I like to think of this symbolic action as, “transferring, or putting, our trust in Him.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.  They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” (Jer. 17:7-8)

This is how it looked like in my household: First, I had my whole family write down their worries, fears, and areas of control like a prayer request  — on a piece of paper. Second, we casted each one onto God as we let it fall into our vase. Third, we chose to let Him carry what we usually carry. This includes fear, anxiety and stress. We gave it up. Then, we decided, as these things “come back” or try to pester us again, we pray for them. And, chose not to “take them back” from God’s hands.

I did this imperfectly, I might add.

But, still, God answered me!!!!!  He was faithful!

I believe He will do this for you. I believe He has actually answered many of your prayers of old (if you truly think about them). There are probably so many things you’ve prayed and forgotten, but God has moved. He has moved and IS moving.

Take faith. Take hope. Take courage. Christ has overcome the world. And, He is more than enough to overcome all your problems.

I love you all.

 

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Breakthrough, for you!

While scrolling through the “prayer request” emails, I sulked to my son Friday morning, saying, “I can’t reply to all everyone by email and this is hard for me. I so want to. I have so much to write to each one of them, but there are so many. . . ”

He replied, “Tell them how much you wish you could have written each of them. . .Let them know how much you care. ”

So, today I want you to — hear my heart. First, the weight of what so many of you face? Either big or small, it made me wish I could reach through the computer screen, pull you in my arms and just hold you, close. Second, I pray you know how much I care. You see, I could have written long paragraphs to each of you.  Your stories hurt my insides, and your plights broke my heart and your desire for God to be with you was everything.

I prayed for each of you — by name. I asked God for breakthrough — for husbands, sons, daughters, your future, your insides, for salvation, for jobs, for feelings, for futures, for your situation, for healing, and for your faith with your God — a grand rescue. I expect great answers and moves. God is faithful.

Some of you even wrote to me, “Kelly, I never ask for prayer. . . .“, “I really needed prayer, but I didn’t realize it” or you simply told me that you feel “alone”.

I want you to know today: you are NOT alone. If you had read what I read — all those prayer requests — you would see loads of other ladies struggling with similar struggles: hope-deferred, inner-pain, loss, grief, anger, betrayal, rejection, financial issues, family problems, salvation needs and more. . . Your heart would break for them too.

May I tell you? We need each other. 

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (Ja. 5:16)

Our healing is in coming together; more than it is in worrying apart, in separate worlds.

I am praying for ways to unite us in prayer.

Beyond this, in regards to your prayer request, please know:

Our God is a God of breakthrough. Believe!!!  He has saved me from an eating disorder. He has saved me from debt. He has saved me from loans I needed to pay. He has saved people around me. He has broken the tides of depression. He has deterred people who wanted to hurt me. He has allowed me to get a job when it seemed impossible. He has made what sin I couldn’t break, gone. He has changed people around me. He has brought me closer to my husband. He has answered my prayers time and time again. He has given me new vision. He has restored me from discouragement.  He has turned things radically-around!

God is faithful to move. He hears us. And, prayer is effective; it works.

May I remind you? Your Rescuer, Redeemer, and Restorer is not asleep; He is on your cause. God is on your side. He knows your time. He sees your way. He has you in the palm of His hand.   He hears your requests, that line up with His heart. He knows your way.

With this, I stand in the gap with you today. I raise your arms. I expect answers. I won’t relent in asking for you. Even now, I ask again, “Father, hear our every prayer.”

As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” (Ro. 10:11)

The key is: Don’t give up. Pray unceasingly. And let the God of all God’s guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.

Beyond this, please pray for your other sisters who read my emails; they need you more than you know! Think about the collective power of all our prayers lifted up for each other. . .  And, to wrap this all up — as breakthrough happens — please let me know.

I love you.

My prayer: ” May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Ro. 15:13) May He rush into your cause, and resurrect life, where there appears death. May you know that you are not alone. May your soul thrive under the goodness of His love. May you walk in His light, with all clarity. May you be filled with His Spirit in fresh ways that revive your heart. May you see the God of All Rescues come in and — change everything. May the God-of-Turnaround light your day, today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Need Prayer? Your Day is Today.

When is the last time you asked someone to pray for you?

We have a way of qualifying things in our minds, don’t we? This isn’t big enough to ask others to care about. This isn’t as worthy as her issue — she’s sick after all. I don’t want to bother them or bog them down with my issue.

We’re so afraid of being a burden. Or a kill-joy. Of being ___(Fill in the blank).

So, we press on, and buck-up and — feel all alone. A singular person on our own deserted island.

Some of you are struggling today. The load feels back-breaking. The situation feels excruciating. Your mind can’t think about it anymore. You feel like you live in a fog now.

And you’re fending this and facing this, all alone?

This morning, I opened the most blessed email from a reader. She said, “Kelly, I want to encourage you. . . .I felt like you needed prayer.” In it, she included some verses on her heart for me. It touched my heart.

Did I need prayer? Sometimes, we don’t even know what we need. We’ve been so much fighting in the battle that’s raging, we hardly realize we’re a bit bruised. The world will do that to us. But, she was right. I needed prayer and I didn’t even think to ask. . .

With this, I want to do two things today. .  .

First, I want to ask you to pray for me and my family. Will you pray for direction? For breakthrough? For God’s providence in everything we face? For new friendships? And, a new fire in my heart — so that I can see through every single thing God has for me to do on Earth?

Second, I want to ask — how can I pray for you? I want you to reply to this email and let me know. I will not reply to your email (you can only imagine how many there will be). But, what I will absolutely do — is to stop and pray for every person who responds. I will say a prayer out loud for you, with God, when I get your response. I will stand with you. I will ask God on your behalf. I ask God to detour the enemy for you.

You are not alone. You are not on an island of despair. A sister stands with you. She loves you. And, so does God. I believe He will help you. I can’t wait to pray. I can’t wait to see what God Almighty — will do.

We are in this together.

“In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.” (Eph. 6:18 MSG)

 

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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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Bringing Life to What Looks Dead

“Look!” I said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do something new.

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

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

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

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

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

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Clean-Up Day!

I can’t handle a dirty, crumb-laden counter when I sit down to write. Before I place my computer on my black-granite counter, I need to have a clean counter. I need to have fresh space I can work on. I need to have the ability to work without a million little pieces surrounding me.

This lets me focus on what most matters.

I wipe it all down before I start. I get it ready. I prepare my surroundings so I see the bigger thing, God, without little things getting in the way.

I believe God loves it when we come to Him with clean hearts too. Here, as I’ve discovered it, rather than Him needing to address a million little stray things, He can bring us deeper into Him.  Here, He has fertile soil to do His best work. Here, brings us deeper levels of wisdom through His Word and through prayer.

There isn’t so much ancillary work to be tackled.

Just like we come to communion with God by clearing out things that are not of Him — so that we can meet Him. Today, I strongly feel God desires us to clear our table of what blocks us, distracts us or keeps us from Him.

What is that for you?

Is it an over-spill of self-wrath? Have you been talking to yourself like the accuser of the brethren?
Is it grimy fear of the future? Has it been building up in you?
Is it 1000 crumbs of daily distraction? Are they filling your mind more than God?
Is it the overwhelming clutter of worries? Do they make you feel like you have to handle things rather than God?
Is it the boiling anger you have at a child? Is it all you see?

Clean tables meet God in more intimate and free ways. There isn’t as much stuff to get ready before the real food is set on the table. This way, you seek Jesus — and you find Him, in a fresh way. You move past the clutter and behold His heart.

Today, be still and let God search your heart. His best roads are ahead of you — but, to find them, let the blockages be cleared. So you can find your roads to eternal abundant life. . .

Investigate my life, O God,
find out everything about me;
Cross-examine and test me,
get a clear picture of what I’m about;
See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong—
then guide me on the road to eternal life. (Ps. 139:23-24 MSG)

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