Purposeful Faith

Tag - life

Winter Means Waiting

Post by: Christine Hoover

In winter, I spend an inordinate amount of time holed up in my home under a blanket, guzzling hot coffee, and longing for spring’s arrival. It’s not my favorite season, but favorite or not, winter is important. Despite what we see with our eyes, the earth in winter is busy creating life. We only know this is so because spring eventually comes, and then we marvel at what that life looks like.

Is it possible that God designed winter and the earthly cycle of life, death, and renewal in order to speak a deeper truth? I believe, because the Bible says it’s so, that everything in creation is designed speech about its Creator. Just as we find him on warm summer days, standing in the sand, listening to the waves crash against the shore, we find him in the stillness of winter.

Winter, however, often speaks of a barrenness we don’t want to hear about.

Annie Dillard writes, “All that summer conceals, winter reveals.” And so we need a life with winters, because we need our hearts revealed. Winter comes to strip us bare of our delusions, to make us face reality: we have imperfections that we can’t perfect. We are helpless to find a formula to reason or act our way out of our helplessness. We are human, and we, in our barrenness, must be acted upon if we’re to experience eternal life, joy, and the supernatural.

Winter then, after stripping us bare, points us to the invisible motion as if in invitation to these very things: life is happening. God is at work, acting upon us.

The harshness of our waiting winter tells us that this world has nothing for us and that we have nothing for ourselves. We have this hope–one, and only one–that there is life waiting for us beyond death.

Although we are not yet in that world, we have reasons for our hope: the words of God. With words, he formed the earth and its seasons and cycles. With words, he continues creating. We can trust his words. In our winter, we must draw ourselves under the warm blanket of God’s promises, a sure comfort in the darkest of hours.

This is what God did with the prophet Jeremiah:

“And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Jeremiah, what do you see? And I said, ‘I see an almond branch.’ Then the Lord said to me, ‘You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.'” (1:11)

In Jerusalem, the almond tree, the first to bud in the spring, was said to “watch for spring.” God used the almond branch to comfort Jeremiah in his lamentable circumstances. The almond branch was a reminder that God is always in process of keeping his promises, that he is, at this very moment, hurtling all of us toward eternal spring. He pointed to the almond branch—the coming of spring—and told Jeremiah to watch and wait.

We too watch and wait, not in fear of this winter in which we live, nor in fear of our own spiritual poverty or even final death. We watch and wait, comforted, because all of this God is right now working for our true life, when winter will forever turn to spring.

Christine Hoover is a Bible teacher and the author of several books, including Messy Beautiful Friendship. Her latest book, Searching For Spring: How God Makes All Things Beautiful in Time, frames the life of faith according to the seasons and according to Ecclesiastes 3:11: “God has made everything beautiful in its time.” Searching for spring is really a search for God’s redemptive work, where suffering and death become fruitful life. Christine invites readers like you, who may be weary and withering, to join her on a treasure hunt for beauty in both familiar and unexpected places.

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What Faith Does

Look back and think of some miracles God has done in your life.

My miracle: He completely healed me from an eating disorder.

My miracle: He brought money into my mailbox on the very day I believed, many years ago when I couldn’t pay rent.

Your miracle: ____

Your miracle: ____

These past miraculous mile-markers serve as huge celebrations. Essentially, we said to God at that time, “Father, I want to ____. I need to ___. Only you can ___.” Then, Jesus did.

Times like this are recounted again and again in scripture. For example, a blind man said to Jesus, “I want to see!” (Lu. 18:41)

Jesus replied: “Receive your sight! Your faith has healed you.” (Lu. 18:42)

It was this man’s faith that healed him. Faith permitted him to receive his healing versus doubting it and blocking it. He opened up his arms to a new idea, versus crossing them. Doing this was powerful, because look what happens. . .

We are told, “Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus, praising God. And all who saw it praised God, too.” (Lu.18:4e)

Notice the progression at work here…
Our faith leads to our receiving: This becomes our seeing.
Seeing leads to following Jesus.
Receiving and seeing creates a life of praising.
Our praising makes others start praising.

Where might your small mustard-seed-size faith start a wildfire of praise in this world? Don’t discount a small beginning of faith; God does not despise it. Instead, remember the wonders of old and recount the faithfulness of yesteryear. Re-establish that your God is able. And believe. Get ready to receive God’s new thing.

 

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.

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

Reasons Why Others Don’t Control Your Destiny

I recently noticed an increasing problem in my life. I can’t stand it if people think poorly of me. If they don’t email me back, I think there’s an issue. If they don’t answer my call, I decide they no longer like me. If I did something in the past and asked for forgiveness, I still figure I’m on the people-we-don’t-like list. The issue is not so much that I haven’t forgiven them. It’s that I think, “They couldn’t have forgiven me.” Which lends to a problem: shame.

And when shame shows up, we can always be sure its makings are from the enemy. And when he shows up, we can know we need to fight back.

How do we fight back? We realize, on many levels, it is not man who is in charge, but God.

Here are 25 Reasons Why Others Don’t Control My Destiny:

  1. What matters is not what man builds, but what God builds.
    “Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain.” Ps. 127:1
  2. Every single battle belongs to the Lord. When He fights, He wins.
  3. Jesus had people against him. Guess what? He kept His eye on the mission, and as a result was still victorious.
  4. I may plan my way, but God ultimately directs my steps. (Prov. 16:9)
  5. God is actively working in others’ hearts in a way I cannot see, manage or predict.
  6. I think far more about how I appear and “come off” than others do. They usually are thinking far more about how they “appear” and “come off” than about me.
  7. What I dwell on, people tend to forget, especially if I’ve apologized.
  8. Another’s silence could also mean: they are busy, out of town, struggling or forgetful.
  9. God is my maker: nothing can unmake His plans for me.
  10. If I remember who annoyed me 10 years ago, they are practically a non-issue today.
  11. For every desperate no-way-out problem in the bible, God drop-kicked its walls and cleared way for victory, for those who trusted Him.
  12. Waiting with trust is the first step to seeing a miracle.
  13. What I can’t see being worked out, God can.
  14. Shame doesn’t rule me. God’s truth and Spirit does.
  15. I’ve been made to focus my attention on God, not on other’s wavering emotions, reactions and motivations.
  16. God knows my heart. He stands behind and protects the hearts of the righteous.
  17. The Spirit in me will guide me and lead me down the best paths.
  18. I am not perfect, but I can trust the one who is to help me.
  19. Jesus’ mission was never thwarted by those against Him.
  20. God-dropped learnings result in my growing, when I steer clear of self-condemning words.
  21. My path is God’s, not the trampled-down wide road the herds travel. Charting a new course with God always takes determination.
  22. It is God’s rod that comforts and protects me, not the response of man.
  23. I am made by God, not by other’s opinions.
  24. I am the daughter of the Most High King. He will provide all I need (and then some).
  25. God is the maker of every man, not the opposite.
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Your Fight Back Strategy!

When it is “You vs. The Enemy”…you must be prepared.

You must.

Because in this world it truly is eat or be eaten. Eat God’s Word or be eaten.

Fight or be killed. Fight back with truth or be killed.

I know this firsthand. The times when I try to do everything on my checklist so I feel accomplished, or work really hard to look better than others, or hear a million reasons why I am no good. . .here, I have one of two choices.

I can:
1. Ignore what is going on within me, do nothing, and thereby proceed into the lion’s den,

or,

2. Square up to the one who desires to make me doubt, fear, worry, stress, overdo it, give up, get defensive or hide.

Choice 1 leads me to: eating a whole bunch of the enemy’s stomach-churning bull.
Choice 2 leads me to: finding the truth that has just set me free.

Choice 1 ends with: doubt, discouragement and despair.
Choice 2 ends with: faith, hope and love.

Always use truth when you face a liar. He can’t stand up against it. So that is what we will do today. We will use truth so choice two becomes your only end and option.

Here is arsenal for your fight:

Nothing can come against me in Christ Jesus.

No weapon formed against you shall prosper,
And every tongue which rises against you in judgment
You shall condemn. (Is. 54:17)

The Spirit in me always trumps what is coming against me.

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. (1 John 4:4)

No evil will overcome me, because Jesus is in me. 

No evil will befall you, nor will any plague come near your tent. (Ps. 91:10)

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. (Gal. 2:20)

How can the enemy own what he can’t find?

For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (Col. 3:3)

I’ve been given divine power to demolish the strongholds set up against me.

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Cor. 10:3-5)

God will faithfully protect me against the evil one.

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

Whatever evil comes against me will be annihilated by God.

The Lord shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways. (Deut. 28:7)

God will not lose me; I am not outside His love.

And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. (Jo. 6:39)

 

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.

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

The Curse of the Capable

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up,

 just as in fact you are doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)

I am the oldest of two kids in my family. While growing up, it was hard not to notice that my mom seemed to spend all of her time helping my younger brother. To be fair, he needed more help than I did but it was sometimes hurtful that I didn’t get the same level of attention. It kind of forced me to become independent. When I was an adult, married with kids, I asked my mom why there was such a disparity in my youth and her response was, “You didn’t need any help. You were perfectly capable.”

Now I call it the curse of the capable. Because you don’t need help, you won’t get any.

I’ve seen this curse play out a dozen different ways since then. For example, my husband and I are both independent people, and while we love to be together, we don’t always need each other. That can be good sometimes because I don’t have to wait until the weekend change a smoke detector battery or kill a spider. It can be a bad thing, however, because it’s easy for independent people to grow apart. We have to be careful about noticing when we’ve drifted and come back together.

I have also seen the curse among women. I am a natural born encourager. I use phrases like, ‘to die for,’ or ‘phenomenal’ when I’m cheering for you. I’m the friend that will literally jump up and down screaming when you share good news. I like to think I’m the ‘there for you’ friend in good times and bad. The problem I have seen is that as a natural encourager, it’s often hard to find encouragement for myself.

On the outside, it can appear as if I am confident and capable, therefore I don’t need anyone to build me up. Inside though, I am still the little girl thirsting for comfort in an arid desert. I have come a long way in this area. I found Jesus later in life and knowing I have his never waning encouragement is the most phenomenal comfort of all. But I have to admit that I still think it’s nice to get some affirmation from friends, family, and community.

If you are independent or competent, you may be under the curse of the capable. Maybe you are an encourager that needs to be affirmed or a mom who could use a reminder that she’s a good one. Perhaps you are a leader who would love some help but feels bad asking for it because you ‘should’ have it under control. Take heart, friend. As someone under the curse myself, I see you. I think you are doing a great job!

I want to invite you today to take a minute and think about someone in your life that could use a little boost. Even if that person seems like they have it all together, a quick note or message from you may be what she needs most. When we take the time to pour into others, the curse breaks and being capable becomes a blessing.

Father God, you are the ultimate encourager. Please help us to encourage one another regardless of whether or not we need it. Help us never to give up and to break the curse for people we love or admire and that in turn, it would be broken in our lives as well. Amen.

About Anne Watson:

Anne is a former sleep in on Sunday’s girl who didn’t meet Jesus until way later in life. She recently quit trying to be holy, however, after spending an inordinate amount of time trying to shuck her unholy habits to fit into the Christian world. As a bullying survivor, Anne knows first hand the pressure to belong and why changing yourself doesn’t work. She now spends her time fiercely encouraging women to be badass for Jesus by being who God created them to be…themselves. She is a writer, a speaker, and a podcast host for the Declare Conference. She and her husband are raising three hysterical kiddos and are also in the process of going broke while paying for college. You can find more from Anne on her blog, GodDots.com.

Learning to Trust God

I didn’t push the girl’s sheet of paper. I didn’t. She was the one who kept inching her colored sheet over mine and trying to irk me all throughout art class. And despite my best efforts to ignore her, she wouldn’t stop. She did something else annoying too. She kicked me under the table. It was taking everything in me not to respond.

Until, I did. She pushed too far. So I screamed out in the middle of the elementary school classroom, “Stop it.” The girl barked to the teacher that I’d been pushing her sheet. But I hadn’t.

I got in big trouble. The girl sat there unscathed.  I sat in the punishment seat. The girl sat there smiling. I sat fuming. The girl sat in victory.

Where was my defender? Who stood up for me? Why didn’t God bring justice? I wasn’t doing anything wrong.

I still ask these questions, even as an adult.

Why? Why did all that happen? Where were you God? Why did I go down those roads? Where were you God? Why did I get hurt like that? Where were you, God?

When I look back and see God’s absence, it makes me believe He was negligent.

But was He?

While horrible stuff happened, it never kept me away from God’s love. While things went wrong, I still lived. While stuff hurt my insides, it never ruined me. While there were some close calls, I often squirmed right past.

Just because we can’t see God work doesn’t mean He isn’t working.

There is so much I can’t see in the moments when I believe He’s not defending me.  Like His hands holding things back, the angels He sends on my behalf, and the wisdom He pours down from high to help me understand things. Like the arms wrapping around me when I think I am alone, the heavenly court docket that has no record of my wrongs, and the road he reroutes to make sure I am take care of.

Don’t discount the Protector working in the unseen just because you can’t see Him.

Here I stand today. I may have fallen and felt alone yesterday, but I stand victorious in Christ. I stand wanted and in His love. I stand whole and wholly loved. It looks like God took care of me pretty well. He continues to. He does the same for you.

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

***Bloggers, don’t miss it!
Join me, today, as I talk on The Declare Podcast about,
Fighting Fear in Blogging, Writing and Publishing. ***

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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.

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

 

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I want to Look Nice

My daughter came into my room this morning and spotted a reddish container of lip- gloss that had fallen out of my purse. She immediately picked it up. Then, all 4-years of her looked over at me and said, “I have to put this on. I want everyone to see me nice.”

She wanted the girls at her school to see her nice.

We all want to be seen nice, don’t we? We try to put on our best face at get-togethers. We try to hide our nervousness and to soften our points of disagreement. We try to be the person everyone likes.

It is human nature to want to be seen: nice.

But what happens when, despite our best efforts to love, share, or to be honest, something goes horribly kaputz? What do we think in our mind when we tried, yet failed. When we speak and someone is offended? When we aim to apologize but the argument gets heated?

How do we contend when our best efforts go horribly wrong?

Galatians 6 says, “If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ”.

Something here speaks to me. It says: If my goal highest goal is to ensure man is happy, I will hardly be in service to Christ.

The fact of the matter is while we look at people’s faces, God always looks at hearts. And while we are tallying up what is happening with others, God might be working something fantastically new within them. Face-value reactions are not our guide; the Holy Spirit is.

When we are true to God, he will be true to see the best result through. We, in humility, wait and respond accordingly. Sometimes, it involves an, “I’m sorry,” or “I should have done this better.” All this is okay.

We just move with God, always. And rest in the truth that He has already figured out what we haven’t. And this is peace that feels – nice.

Prayer: God, far more often than not I want to look nice to man. God, help me to have a heart and mind that aims to always look nice to you. Align me with your truth, will and heart. I want all of you and less of what holds me back from you. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

 

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.

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

Addressing the People in Need

A person taken advantage of by a boss.
Another in desperation because there is no way out of a marriage.
One uncertainty about what the future holds because children are now gone.
A friend in deep need to be healed not only of cancer, but emotionally.

We see these people, but we often feel helpless. We don’t know how to help. What to say.

The apostles perhaps felt the same when they saw thousands without food. They instructed Jesus to send them away, to “villages so they could find food” because “there is nothing here in this deserted place.”

Jesus had none of that. He replied, “You feed them.” (Lu. 9:13) He says the same to me. You feed them.

You feed her – the daughter who needs to know you’re listening.
You literally feed him – the husband who is tired and comes home starving.
You feed them – the couple who looks downtrodden at church every week. Go to them and see how you can get to know them.
You feed that one – the person who has been on your heart for weeks, but you haven’t taken a step towards.

Do it.

Even if you say, “What, God? Me? Don’t you see I am in a deserted place? I have nothing to give.”

Jesus replies, “You feed them.” (Lu. 9:13)

This Christmas season, neighbors left and right came out of their house with little cookies for me and my family. I was far from home and without family nearby, but they came – and they came with smiles. Some with gifts. And every one with a heart of love.

This season, I got fed. I feel full. I told my husband it was like we were with family for Christmas.

These people didn’t count up their own deserted land and have a pity party of their own. They picked up their tin and came over. This is what Jesus means by feeding. Just get out there and do it. It matters. Small things offer others big heart strides.

And the truth is, all of us have a something, even if we have nothing. His name is Jesus. He is always our something. He is always our first leading to our best thing to do, to give, to hand away no matter how big or small. Size never matters in God’s economy. What is little gets big, in the name of Jesus.

You feed them.

Prayer: God help us to do the small things you instruct our heart to do. Give us a will of follow-through. Give us intent to love. Give us your vision and your hearing so that we might love a world in need. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

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.

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

Making Space + New Stuff with Purposeful Faith

Remarkably, Jesus called out the Pharisees and religious types repeatedly for their loss of what mattered most. While they were dead set in following the law to the T, Jesus was all about letting love out abundantly.

The schism between these two in Jesus’ time often seemed great. It still is, in many ways.

It is not that the law is bad; it is not. It is surely good. However, when the letter of the law triumphs over love in a way that restricts the heart of God, this creates problems.

My heart here at Purposeful Faith is to feed you the heart of God day-in and day-out. Yet, to do it five days a week, I am coming to realize, feels more like abiding by a rule of daily law than impromptu love.

I think back to the stories throughout the bible. So many times, religious, pious or scholarly folk missed Jesus’ heart. He’d reply to them with wisdom, instruction or the way to go and they’d either rebuke him, walk away from Him or miss the point entirely.

But one time, the tax collectors responded differently — like this, “”Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?””

I have asked God what to do about my love for each of you. “Teacher, what should I do so I love my readers and you, well?”

A couple things came to me: pray bigger, love better, encourage more and open the doors to new writers.

You can expect all this in the New Year. You can also expect less weekly blog posts (3-4 times a week), with more exposure to me via video prayers and encouragement on social media.

What would you like to see from me? What topics would you like me to cover? How would you like to connect? What sort of video encouragement would you like to receive? Let me know.

And, beyond this… what if you were to ask Jesus this New Year, “Teacher, what should I do so I love those around me well?” You might be astonished what he says.

 

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.

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