Purposeful Faith

The Assault of Distraction

“Get that (insert curse word) thing away from me!”

The man screamed at me with all his might. Not only did he scream, but rage filled him, his face became red and he appeared to want to beat me up. Very scared, I walked away. He caught up to me with his bike next to him. Fully aware he was there, I didn’t look his way. I just prayed with all my heart that he wouldn’t hit me and I kept walking. God answered my prayers. He passed by.

Now, that morning, I never set out to get verbally assaulted, but I suppose it was my fault. . .

I decided to go to the beach for a walk with God. My goal was to pray, connect with God and to listen to some worship music. I was in the zone. I was loving talking to Jesus. So, as I approached a beautiful scenic boardwalk that ended with the ocean in sight, I opened up my camera app; I wanted to remember the moment. I did see the far-off man a little to the right side of my picture frame, but he made the shot look even better, so I snapped the photo anyway.

And, that’s where my problem began. In retrospect, I didn’t consider that he may not have wanted a photo taken of him. I started to get angry at myself. I made a mistake. I should have been more thoughtful. I ruined my time with God.

It was as if, after this event, my connection to God was — gone.

And, here, it occurred to me that this whole encounter was symbolic of a greater issue: distraction.

If the enemy can’t keep us away from God, he’ll try to distract us away from Him.

How often does a to-do in your mind occur to you right when you start to meet with God?

How often does a text message come in right when you are praying?

How often do house-needs seem to demand you take care of them first?

In my case, a raging man wanted to steal away my time with God, but similarly, silent or quiet demands pull me away in the same way. Power comes when we recognize them for what they are and stay with God anyway.

If your mind gets distracted, just choose to return back to the last thought you can remember you had with God. He waits.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (Jer. 29:13)

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How Forgiveness Moves us Forward

By Guest Contributor: Joy A. Williams 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trust. Treasured memories. Future plans.

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

And yet, I’m still learning.

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

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

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

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

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

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. (Proverbs 3:5 and 6 NLT)

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

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

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

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

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

About Joy A. Williams

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

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

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

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Allowing God to Clear You a Path

There was nothing special about this stoplight. I happened to be in the front row of cars, which was good because – this time – I intended to be on time to my kid’s school. The very second the light turned green, I’d be off. It was about to change, I was sure of it.

I inched up my car. Yet, before I could take off a woman tranced into the center of the road with a big red stop sign. She wore an orange jacket with reflectors on it and she looked all bundled up in the cold. She was a crossing guard. The only woman with the power to stop the nearly half-a-mile long traffic line behind me.

Her little stiff body said, “No, the children go first.”

She had power.  Leverage. Authority.

In many ways, I can’t help but think – God is like a crossing guard. He can and will literally stop traffic to get us to our destination. Consider when He changed Pharoah’s mind and released the Israelites or when he parted the Red Sea for them. When God wants to bring you somewhere, He will. All power and authority belongs to Him.

With your hand you drove out the nations and planted our ancestors; you crushed the peoples and made our ancestors flourish. It was not by their sword that they won the land, nor did their arm bring them victory; it was your right hand, your arm, and the light of your face, for you loved them. (Ps. 44:2-3)

I don’t think God cares so much what we come with – a speedy car, super high-gear abilities or a full tank of gas. All that matters is one man went into the fray, crossed into the depths of our sin and paid the heavy-price to save us. To provide us — a way.

Jesus is the way.

Jesus clears the path for every child of God; He leads well. He invites all to travel down His roads. Where the going is easy. The burden is light. The protection is ample.  The peace, glory, and safety of His “cross”walk is before us.

Nothing can stand against it: Enemies stop. Obstacles pause. Traffic stops.

But for those who are righteous, the way is not steep and rough. You are a God who does what is right, and you smooth out the path ahead of them. (Is. 26:7)

 

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Be a Blessing

I am delighted to have a dear friend, a prayer warrior, and a true lover of Jesus join me today. Adrienne Young, welcome! It is a pure honor to feature you today on Purposeful Faith. I know your words will be a blessing…

Post by: Adrienne Young

“Don’t make me miss my blessing.”

That’s an odd thing to hear while standing in line at Goodwill, but I ignored the cashier and kept going through my cart to see what items “sparked joy” and what would I discard.

As I got closer to the register, she lit up and said through her smile, “I’m so glad you didn’t get in the other line when it opened up. You are my blessing! I know you don’t come in here often, but every time you do, people gravitate toward you, and you always bless me by asking how my day is going.” Wow! I asked her for her name and how I could pray for her.

Darlene told me she was going through a custody battle and knew the enemy was attacking her but she trusted God. She came from behind the counter to hug me as I prayed for her.

This one trip to do what I love to do, what I wrote a book about doing, and what I thought was a normal 8 PM quick trip turned into thrifting with a purpose. . .

You see I had planned to go to my local store just minutes away, but the Holy Spirit led me to this one. What if I decided not to go that night and ignore His voice? What if I would have been so consumed with the purchases that I missed the purpose in going?

My sister, what if we decided to ask God to use us in our everyday life to bless those we come into contact with? What if we took God at His word according to Romans 12:1 MSG?

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.

Prayer: Father, with your help, we will take our everyday ordinary life – our sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around-life, and place it before you as an offering. Help us to recognize how we can be a blessing to those who come into contact with, even when we are enjoying our hobbies. Use us for your glory and help us obey the voice of the Holy Spirit so that we can join in where He is working. In Jesus name, Amen.

About Adrienne Young

Adrienne Young’s mission is to love, live and lead on purpose with a purpose in every area of her life.  She is 100% committed to helping women of faith do the same in their lives and businesses.

Sought out by Fortune 500 companies for professional development, Adrienne combines her John C. Maxwell leadership training with 16 years in education to take organizations from start-up to implementation via her company Adrienne Young Ministries, LLC.

She is the founder of Remnant Warriors Global, Inc., Women Who War, and is the author of the best selling book Don’t Go Thrifting Without Me. Adrienne serves in ministry with her husband Edward. They have two sons, Emmanuel and Elisha, love football, and reside in Fort Mill, SC.

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Love Often Feels Awkward

Riding bikes, my 7-year old turned to me and said, “Mommy, I want to go knock on that person’s door and let them know, ‘God loves them.’

Now, I did not know “that person” or how they would react to my son knocking randomly on their door. As I am sure you all know, I’m all about sharing God, but being a door-to-door solicitor for Jesus seemed, well. . . a little beyond me.

All the same, my heart was struck by the thought: If I want Michael to get to know God personally, I have to permit him to personally move towards God. In this, He’ll get to see God show up.

So, I gave him permission. My son parked his bike and I circled in the cul-de-sac with my daughter, trailer-in-tow.

Heart-pumping – while wondering if my child was about to be abducted – I carefully watched from the street. Yet, the more I watched the more I couldn’t believe it – both my son and the lady who he was now talking to were smiling and laughing. Then, the lady handed my son – what?!!! – cash. Yes, money. Her son took out cash and passed it to my son too.

What is going on?

I approached.

After introductions, the blonde lady with a son said, “You know, today at church it was amazing. Instead of taking a tithe, the pastor gave out cash – $10 to each person sitting in the aisles. He said, ‘Give it to someone who has impacted your relationship with God.’ I didn’t know what to do with the money. Earlier today, after church, I told my husband, ‘I have no idea who to give the money to.’ My husband told me, ‘Don’t worry, you’ll know.”

She went on, “And, here you are. You just showed up today. Right on time.”

We all laughed at the goodness of God. At how God sent Michael to this very house out of the dozens we’d bicycled by. . . At how God just “knows. . . ”

Her son said, “I don’t know, mom? This doesn’t really seem believable…”

And, so it is with God. When we submit to him, He does the unbelievable.

And, here, as I reflect back on this whole amazing set-up that God orchestrated, and my sons’ courage, I can’t help but think: It’s often risk-taking that lets us walk into God’s most amazing things. It is when we do things that are out-of-the-ordinary that we get to see God’s extraordinary moves. It is when we put ourselves “out there”, in love, that we feel God’s deep love making its way back into our hearts. It almost always feels comfortable.

I thank my little 7-year old for this “beyond-me” lesson on love.

With this, I wonder, how can you love extraordinarily today? How can you let someone know, “God loves them”, even if it makes you feel weird?

On Earth, you may never know the impact of your love, but I assure you, your love will never fail . . . ” (1 Cor. 3:18)

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When You Can’t See Where You’re Going

Are you in a wilderness season? Do you feel blind?

May I encourage you for a moment? Maybe it is not that you’re off God’s track, but that you’re on it.

Consider this…

When Saul (soon-to-be Paul), a lead persecutor of Christians, encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus, Jesus said to Him, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” (Acts 9:6)

Following these words, Saul may have wanted to go, but found himself blind. Seeing black, he lost all ability to control his future, his steps, and his path.

He would never find his way on his own.

Maybe you are in shoes like Saul was – without sight to your own answers, your future or your safety. In a place of complete reliance rather than answers.

There are 3 key details from Saul that may encourage us, as we try to chart our way:

ONE: “Saul picked himself up off the ground…” to obey Jesus (Acts 9:8)

Certainly, Saul could have wailed and lamented His past and sat hopelessly in the mud. But, chose not to. The only way to get where God is calling you is to get up an go. Even if you’ve made a mistake in the past. This is okay. Getting up is repentance (repentance = hearing + a new-doing).

TWO: “His companions led (Saul) by the hand to Damascus.” (Acts 9:9) Later, the Lord led Ananias, through a vision, to lay hands on Saul and to set him free.

Some of us feel we have to control our destiny. We have to manage our ship. We have to make things work. The reality is, God is God enough to line up everyone and everything just right.  God will put the right people around you, the right hands on you and the right path before you – to get you to where He’s taking you. He knows what He’s doing. We can rest in that.

THREE: Saul was filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17) and something like “scales fell from his eyes” (Acts 9:18).

Greater sight of God is always our goal. And, blind faith often leads us there. It is not by our power or might, but by the Spirit. The bumpy-road process of getting somewhere is a time of grabbing-onto-God and learning about Him. It is where we find God does have us and hold us, forever.

So, friend, if you don’t “know” today. . . If you can’t see. . .  If you feel like you can hardly make your way. . . be encouraged. . . God sees you and He knows where He’s taking you. He’s always known how to get you there. You are not lost to Him.

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

For more on this topic, see my books, Battle Ready or  Fear Fighting .

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Part II: 3-Steps to Disassemble Fear

Fear, although it feels so real — so tangible, often lies. It not only assumes our future, our happiness levels and our outcomes, but it pulls our attention away from God. God works in our present moments. Fear tries to pull us ahead to a turbulent land where everything may “go wrong”. A place full of hypotheses and worst-case scenarios.

Beware of fear, it’s a land of dark woods, with seething coyotes and deep pits, full of landmines.

The land of fear is a scary place — and its easy to arrive to. Thus, the reason why we are going to learn how to avoid it at all costs.

3 Steps to Disassembling Fear

ONE: Pray and CHOOSE to believe God has everything in His good and faithful hands.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” (Ps. 23:1)

No matter what, we have all we need:

  • heaven
  • help
  • hope
  • the healer
  • Him, being with us

TWO: Do not let the enemy steal God’s will in your day.

Fear looks at self. Faith looks to God.  Fear is a distraction and a diversion. Faith is peace. Fear is stuck in its own world. Faith keeps on loving others despite itself. Fear is not part of God’s plan for you. Faith is your way out.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Tim. 1:7)

THREE: Understand, God has your best way.

Avoid: Leaning on other’s opinions, conducting online searches, and assumptions
Choose to: Dwell on what is good, holy, noble and of good report. Remember and state aloud truth. Dwell on the fact that God’s timing is always perfect.

“God’s rod and staff protect and comfort me.” Ps. 23:4

“Even when I walk through the dark valley of death, I will not be afraid for you are close beside me.” Ps. 23:4

“For there is a time and a way for everything, although man’s trouble lies heavy on him.” Ec. 8:6

Lean not on your own understanding. Faith moves beyond this place. Indeed, choose to repent, forgive or let go of what you need to and do this often, but beyond this. . .never move too far down the road. Ever. That’s a dangerous place. Chose not to dwell on whys, hows or what you can’t understand. That is not your territory. They lead even the best-intentioned people to the pits.

Think on: God’s faithfulness to you in the past, His miracle-moves in your life, His love, His care, His abilities, His might, and His goodness. Thank Him for this present-day opportunity to draw near to His heart. Undoubtedly, He will be there for you and will not fail you.

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Part I: God’s Heart Towards Fear

There’s almost nothing more soul-dropping than when fear hits you like a free-dropping roller coaster. Friends, I am going through a health scare. Ahhh!!! 

The “what-ifs” feel giant. Monsterous. Looming.

Will you pray for God’s healing hand to move in my body?

Although this issue is different, I’ve been here before. Years ago, they thought I had Multiple Sclerosis. Praise God, I turned out okay. Yet, I deeply know how “scary” feels.

This 2-part series on fear is meant to encourage you, your friends, or family standing face-to-face with fear (be it: a job loss, a health issue, a marriage that’s crumbling, financial distress . . .). I want it to be a post people can lean on, return to and keep near.

Here’s what I believe God might want to say directly to fearing hearts, like mine:

Dear Child that I love,

You are mine. All mine. Entirely mine. Do not fear, for I am near. Nearer than the reality of your ever-present fear is me — the one who loves you. Choose to be unafraid and to stand strong in the power of my might. In me, in my strong tower, no winds can tumble you, no force can overtake you and no enemy can remove you from me.

Remember, you are hidden in Christ Jesus.

Wait for me. Trust in me. Pray to me. Expect from me. Expect to see. What you want, I know of, care for, and have the vision to see through. I see from high heights. I know what you don’t know. I have you and I’ll instruct you. I’ll show you the way to walk and then you’ll walk in it. I’ll be with you. Fear is an illusion. The only thing it serves to do is to block you from me — from hearing me, praying to me, and knowing me habitually in your mind. Do not allow what is not — of me to steal my words — from you. I am yours and you are mine. Forever.

The Lord will protect you from all danger; he will keep you safe. (Ps. 121:7)

If you struggle with fear, check out my books, Battle Ready or  Fear Fighting 

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Soul-Important Information

You matter.

Nowhere did Jesus tell people to “Who I created you to be doesn’t matter.” No time did Jesus look a woman in the eye and say, “You don’t matter as much as she does.” Not even once, did Jesus say to someone, “I have too much on my hands to help you.”

All of God is available to all of us. Right now.

Right here. Right now.

God never left you. He never got tired of your whining and left you. He never deserted you to your negativity. He never walked away from your hopelessness. He’s right here. Talk to him if you want to if you need to. He hears your cry. You matter.

At the same time, I believe, He’s not content where you are. He’s not content to leave you the same. Because He knows what He created you for. You were never meant to wallow. You were never meant to stay stagnant. You were never meant to call your comfortable place your dwelling place.

Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. (Col. 3:10)

Here, as if Jesus is calling us out of our shell — I believe, He desires hearts of radical obedience, far more than proclivities to modern-day conveniences.

I find TV convenient. I find shortcuts convenient. I find doing what the herd does convenient because it is easy and not shunned upon. But, I’m convicted, my desire for modern convenience can never shut off His sometimes random or impromptu calls to radical obedience.

If one keeps on shutting these off, their heart grows cold and hardened. There’s the real potential their conscience may get seared.

And, this is where a major problem presents itself.

You matter to God, but so do your choices. Do you pick God or other things?

Yes, God loves you

Yes, God cares about you.

But, also God cares for your daily choices.

Radical obedience knows when to turn away from modern conveniences (like a TV show that’s gone way-wrong, too much TV, staying in an area your supposed to leave, telling God no, gossip, slander, old routines, busyness, etc)

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Ro. 12:2)

Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained. (1 Sam. 2:30)

This year, tear down every barrier, blockage, between you and God.  Tear down your TV, your fear of man, your self-hatred, your hibernation-like tendencies, your shopping issue…whatever…if you need to do so.

How? There’s no back-breaking pressure. Simply, ask God where to change and how. Submit to His plan. Take a small step. Keep doing it. You’re half-way there… Not by your power or might, but through the Spirit — choose to love God this year.

“If you love me, keep my commands.” (Jo. 14:15)

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2 Steps: Renew Your Hope & Your Faith

Hope deferred makes the heart sick… (Prov. 13:12)

This is a real condition. Sickness, due to a loss of hope.

Are you struggling with it? Perhaps you’re facing a marriage that is going the opposite way you thought it would. A dream that won’t seem to come to life, despite the time you’ve spent studying to make it happen. A person who keeps turning away from your heartfelt words about God.  A health scare that won’t leave you.

When you hope in God and are met with the same stuff, day-in-and-day-out the sickness of doubt and discouragement tries to settle in.

Doubt and discouragement defer hope.

Yet, faith ignites it.

“Hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.” (Eph. 6:16)

In fact, faith not only ignites hope, but it can stop an attack in its tracks.

You hold up the shield. The arrows have no place to stick to you. You are protected with steel over your chest. Your heart can’t be injured. You have the shield of faith, the enemy has no way of assault any longer.

Gaining faith in the middle of a physical, emotional or spiritual attack is not hard to do — although the enemy would try to convince us of that.

2-Step Remembrance Plan to Regain Faith

1. Remember what God did.

I remember, when my husband and I just got married, I used to get so angry when a plate broke. I would ‘go off’. It was as if the world was going to end. Yet, today, if something falls, I sweep it up without a care in the world. God healed me of momentary and heated anger that came out of nowhere.

What has He healed you of? Where has He brought you from? What work has He done in you over the years that you forget to give thanks for?

2. Remember what Jesus did.

Speak aloud to Jesus. Yes, right there, wherever you’re reading this. Say: Thank you that you died for me. Thank you that you saved me. Thank you that, through Christ, I am holy, righteous and pure. Thank you that I am redeemed. I am a new creation and I am in Christ. I am blessed. I cling on to this. I believe in your plan. I trust you. Amen.

“They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.” (Rev. 12:11)

Learn more about Kelly’s new book, Battle Ready: Train your Mind to Conquer Challenges, Defeat Doubt and Live Victoriously.

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