Purposeful Faith

The Power of Words

Our words have power.

Perhaps, you hear those words-of-old still reverberating within you. . .

You’re SO __.

You’ll always be ___.

You’ll never ___.

You’re such an ___.

No matter who you were – a child, a dreamer or vulnerable one, negative words like these can hurt us. They don’t always have to be spoken to be damaging, either. A picture or a face can say in a moment what the thousand-word put-down could never say.

Recently, I heard a mom inform a daughter, “You’ll never get that award for good character. You’re mean like me.”

Upon hearing this, my head sank down and my heart nearly cried out. I could almost imagine the girl thinking, “I guess I won’t try next year. My mom knows who I am. I’ll never be good enough for that kind of good award.”

At the same time, how many times have I proclaimed things that bind people?

“You’re like me. . . you’re so. . .”

“You are not clean.”
“You never listen.”

Jesus spoke differently. He spoke “to proclaim good news to the poor. . . to proclaim freedom for the prisoners. . . recovery of sight for the blind. . .(and) to set the oppressed free,. . .”  (Lu. 4:18)

To talk restorative words, like Jesus, I must do 2 things:

ONE: Forgive the people who spoke things over me — and receive God’s truth. 

You always __, you never __, you are so __, you can’t __, or you are a burden-type of statements of old must be recognized. Who said them to you?  Forgive these people. Why? Not because they deserve it, but because Christ didn’t “deserve it”, but still paid the price for you.

Seek the Word, God’s heart and through prayer obtain the actual truth about yourself. For some it may be: I am growing in this area. I am not an idiot or stupid, but wise through Christ generously gives wisdom to all who ask (Ja. 1:5). I am more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus. I am now holy, blameless and pure, because of Jesus.

TWO: Resolve to speak blessings. 

Decide to speak blessings. I realize, not every word can be a blessing, as we have to say things like, “Can you pass the butter?” but if it opposes Jesus’ words to — “set free, build up, send forth or proclaim freedom”, then censor it and don’t speak it. Look for the good. The worthy. Use encouragement. Do this, even with inner-words you speak towards yourself.

Also, be freed friend, there is absolutely no “perfection” in this process. Since I’ve started thinking about what I am speaking about, I have caught myself 50 times being too quick to speak. This is okay. God is faithful. He will teach us. He will free us. He will help us. He will give us eyes to see the good, both within our self and within others.

There’s grace for our going and for our speaking.

Amazingly, the more grace-filled words speak, the more they’ll exist within us. Rather than looking for the bad, we’ll start looking for the good, even within our own lives. As we redirect our words, our mind will hone in on the heartbeat of Christ.  Rather than going down dark and discouraging roads, we’ll hope on paths that speak and promise new life.

We can do this! I believe in you — and most importantly, Christ in you.

 

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What’s in it for me?

We are all busy. Moving. Doing this and that. Answering emails to stay on top of things. Attending to the car that needs an oil change. Driving here and then there. Addressing the infinite immediate needs — but how often do we see beyond all this — to the heart of Jesus?

Recently, I had a project. Much of it was about organizing and recruiting people. In a sense, I had to show people the worth of their involvement in it. Some people said, “Yes, I want to be included.” Others, said, “No.”

But, what I figured was underneath it all, many were asking themselves, “What’s in it for me?”

What do I get?
Will it advance my cause?
How does it work out for me?

That is — until one woman’s reply broke the power of my over-generalizing words, when she wrote, “Yes, and, please let me know how I can help you.”

What?!!! She wants to — help me?  You mean she is not looking at this — from what is in it for her?

Wow. While I’d probably asked a hundred people the same question, only one returned to say — and how can I help you?

It reminded me of this story.

One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” (Lu. 17:15-19)

10 were healed.
1 came back.

Who are we in this story?

Are we the one who looks to take the good stuff from God — only to go ahead with our own agenda? Or, do we come back and say, “Oh, my God! Thank you so much for what you are giving and doing! You’re amazing.”

Are we the one who says, “This story is all about me.” Or, are we the one who turns to the person next to us and says, “What’s your story and how can I help you today?”

Are we the one who keeps talking without considering the person’s desire to talk or share? Or, do we make room for their voice within the conversation?

Are we the one who sees God answer a prayer, only to consider the 501 other things that should be better by now, God? Or, are we the one who falls down and says, “Thank you, Father, you’re doing it! Thank you. I can’t see the rest, but I trust you!”

I’ve been both at times. When I was like the nine, I felt rushed, anxious and tense. Overwhelmed by the next thing I had to do and accomplish. When I became the 1, I rejoiced in how: Jesus saw me, showed up for me, and how I got to hold His hand in the celebration of His goodness. I somehow grabbed a deeper hold of Jesus.

Friends, often our thanks, when done by faith, makes us well. How do you need to turn back to Jesus today to say, “Thank you”? Maybe it is not only done by word, but through action.

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How to Look to God

After having my baby girl, I  was so excited. I dressed her up in the cutest girlie outfit I had and was prepared — to show her off. Eager and happy, we pranced off to church, my new package in tow. I sat in the row smiling, and waiting for people to come and see her cute little face. That is, until no one came over. No one said anything to me. They didn’t walk over. They didn’t ooh and ahh. They didn’t even give much regard to me as I struggled to carry her little baby car seat out the door with her in it. I felt invisible. Unseen. Rejected.

If your heart feels strongly, like mine, even small hurts – hurt. They make you feel alone.

And if you’re alive, people-hurts are not isolated incidences.

Lately, an incident pricked my heart. It wanted to pull me back into frustration at them. Yet, all I could hear God whisper, was, “Kelly, look at me, not them.”

Look at me:

  • protecting you.
  • guiding you.
  • teaching you.
  • showing you.
  • preparing you.
  • readying you.
  • leading you new places.
  • taking care of you.

Don’t look at them and how you perceive they are:

  • rejecting you
  • denying you
  • abandoning you
  • hurting you

We should all do the same. Look at Him and not “them” (the offenders, the issue, the mean ones, the oppressors, the retaliators, the cause of our pain, the abusers).

Because, when we decide people are:

  • blocking us
  • (eternally) causing harm to us
  • doing things unto us
  • leaving us behind, hurting us, not wanting us, or
  • punishing us. . .

. . . we lose. We lose control over our emotions. We lose attention on God. We lose mindshare that could’ve been directed to prayer, praise, and a greater purpose. We misplace devotion.

This is always our loss, not theirs.

Beyond this, we never know if:

  • they even realize what they were doing.
  • we misunderstood what happened.
  • there were 500 other things at play that we never considered
  • God wanted us to learn more than He wanted us to immediately get our way.
  • God is setting something up – greater than we expect or realize.
  • God wants us to get a view into a part of our heart, we’d otherwise be blind to.

People do not make us, shape us or grow us, Christ does.

He rules. He is always in charge.

With this, we can forgive “them” and look back to Him.

We can ask:

  1. God what are you doing?
  2. What are you teaching me?
  3. Why did this happen and what do you want me to know?

We can learn, grow, understand, forgive, hope again, and be filled with fresh faith. This is our way, always. Don’t give up.

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Cor. 4:17-18)

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Don’t Bemoan the Process of Growth

I know you all know me as the girl who wrote the book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears. With this, almost undoubtedly, I should have this ‘fear-thing’ wrapped-up and conquered by now, right? I should be the one who’s figured out “fear” and who comes to you with remedies and bullet points galore. A whole arsenal of things to make you radically and instantly courageous.

Truth is: I do have the ability to come to you with some of those things, but I am also still very much a work-in-progress.

Aren’t we all?

Friends, growth is a process. Sometimes it is slow — and, on the amazing occasion, it is radically fast. Either way, just because you see you still need to grow — or because you need God’s grace, doesn’t mean you are failing.

The breakthrough of yesterday is often proceeded by God removing another layer.  Or bringing you to a deeper level, in Him. It may happen days, months, or years later. This “situation” doesn’t mean you are doing a “bad job”. It just means God is at work.

You are growing, grace upon grace.

“For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” (Jo. 1:16)

Lately, I’ve had some freak-out moments, like:

  • What if I don’t do what God wants me to do in life and I somehow “miss it”?
  • What if God doesn’t keep me safe?
  • What I am not good enough for you, God?

Grace comes to questions or doubts like these without condemnation, but with truth:

“But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.” (2 Thess. 3:3)

“For it is God who works in you to will and to act on behalf of His good pleasure.” (Phil. 2:13)

“My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” (Jo. 10:29)

Grace always speaks a better word. There is no shame in the process of growing — or in hearing, understanding, and in doing something new. These all point to increased faith. These are all part of the story of an activated, heartfelt believer.

God does the good work; we show up and submit to it. God saves; we look up and trust. God has the best plan; we come into alignment with it. We are in-process, but we are in good hands. These hands form and fashion like Jesus, more and more.

“So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” (2 Cor. 3:18)

Be encouraged.

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Is Your Heart Soft or Hard?

Have you ever been shocked when reading God’s Word?

Boy, was I when I read what Paul wrote to Timothy. . .

“Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked. Hymenaeus and Alexander are two examples. I threw them out and handed them over to Satan so they might learn not to blaspheme God.”
(1 Tim. 1:18-19)

What has your conscience been trying to tell you? What is God calling out for you to pay attention to?

For the longest time, when my husband saw an opportunity for improvement in my life, and he would tell me about it, I would react defensively.

For example, he’d say, “You can take care of yourself, Kelly and not always say ‘yes’ to the kids.” I’d answer, “I do take care of myself! Don’t say that!”

My heart was hardened. And, it became a habit. The more he shared, the more I resented it — and Him. I began to tune him out.

Likewise, the reality is — the harder our hearts become, the harder it is to: hear God, to understand Him, to go where He is directing us, or to get answers to our “what should we do?” questions. . .

I love how my NLT bible commentary puts it, writing, “Treasure your faith in Christ more than anything else and do what you know is right. Every time you deliberately ignore your conscience you are hardening your heart. Over a period of time, your capacity to tell right from wrong will diminish.”

When we diminish our conscience, we diminish our ability to hear and understand God’s direction and leading.

The capacity to let go of what is wrong is vital so that God can lead us to what is right. Just think, what parent can bring their kid to a playground of joy, when they are clinging to their bedpost saying, “No. I am fine where I am. I don’t want what you have for me.”?

Today, what would it look like for you to lay down your defenses, strategies, excuses, burdens, excuses, rationalizations and fears? What would it look like for you to see the hard to see spots, the ‘it-feels-like-too-much’ realities or the ‘things-need-to-change’ opportunities to find new life? To really consider the words someone has been trying to get you to hear?

It may feel awkward to let go of your flesh, but it’s here where you get powerfully led by His Spirit.

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Every time, God is Greater.

Two nights ago I awoke in the middle of the night with “concerns”.

I got up at 12:05 and sat on the couch in my living room for 2 hours.

There I:

  • worried about my son and something he said.
  • became concerned about a get together with a critical friend.
  • felt guilty about doing something I knew I should not have done.

My first instinct when dealing with all this was to develop my own attack plan.

First step: In the morning, I’d tell my husband how to “talk” to my son. I’d also suggest he take him out for a “boy trip”.

Second: I’d think more about the friend and whether to avoid her, confront her, or ignore her.

Third step: I’d just sit there and think more about how to not allow these things to happen. . . (while fearing that they might.)

What are you fretting these days? What wakes you up at night? What is breaking your heart? Calling you to manage it? Convincing you — you will always be a mess-up?

While all the other steps led me to anxiety, worry and more sleepless minutes on the clock, finally I made the right step. I cracked open my bible to Psalm 27.

It jumped of the page:

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
so why should I be afraid?

(God saves. God brings light to situations. God is Rescuer. He will come and make the wrong things right. He is mightier. He is stronger. What am I afraid of?!)

The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
so why should I tremble?

(He puts me in His fortress. No arrow can hit me. As I trust Him, I am safe. Enemies can’t reach me when I am hidden in Christ. I am eternally loved.)

When evil people come to devour me,
when my enemies and foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.

(Jesus is Ruler. People are people. He is my defender, keeper and the watcher of my soul. I am safe, in Him. With the armor of faith on, his promises become my shield)

Though a mighty army surrounds me,
my heart will not be afraid.
Even if I am attacked,
I will remain confident. (Psalm 27:1-3 NLT)

(What can touch me when Jesus is for me? Who can come against me, when He is with me? What can take me down when I am confident in His ways and not mine.)

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Do you Expect the Worst?

I have something to admit. . .

Whenever I get an email in reply to one of my blog posts, I brace myself. Before I even open it, a sense of dread settles over me. I anticipate words that will make my heart hurt.

Oh no, I must have said something wrong.
I wasn’t helpful.
I got cited the wrong verse.
They found an issue with my perspective.

It is a completely unwarranted expectation. The number of people that write words of thanks, encouragement, and life — far, far, far, outweigh other comments. Yet, still. . .

The other day, I opened an email.

It said,

“Thanks for the emails you send. Today’s post felt like it was out there just for me. . .”

I stopped in my track. She said it was “out there”. They must have thought I pulled something out of left field. I wonder why it was “out there” to her and how I skewed things so much.

Then, I re-read it. And, as I did, I caught the true meaning of what she meant. She meant it was — out there in her email inbox — just for her.

God hit me. How often do I anticipate the worst and then find it because it’s what I feel I deserve?

How often do I see the negative in my children, because I don’t feel like “that great of a mom”? Or, how often do I hear an underlying message behind someone’s words, when they’re not even saying that?

We find what we are looking for.

I don’t want to find what is dark, demoralizing and negative. I want to find God’s goodness and light.

I want to have this attitude: “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” (Ps. 27:13)

I want to look for God and find Him.
I want to expectantly wait for Him and see Him.
I want to think of Him and rejoice in the blessings of His goodness.

“Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” (Is. 30:18)

 

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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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