Not so long ago, I had been delivered soul-crushing news.
News that gave me a new revelation of the past.
News that made me wonder if I was still good, worthy and valuable.
It made me see myself in a new light. It was I-don’t-know-if-I-can-handle-it type news.
I knew God says, “They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lam. 3:23)
But, did God really have faithfulness stored in this?
It seemed this news, this turmoil, and this trouble now excluded me from His promises.
Attempting to push past feelings, I called out to God with all my heart, saying, “Come Lord. Save me in this situation. Heal me and help me.”
Shockingly, as I drove up my driveway later that morning, something caught my eye. A white as snow gift-wrapped box leaned against my garage door.
I couldn’t find a name, but when I opened it and was awe-struck with its contents. What it contained inside changed my entire perspective.
It was as if the very heart of God was delivered to me in a box. It was as if a giant hug and a note of his faithfulness was sent.
Inside lay a picture frame with the words, “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Ex. 14:14)
These words were the exact message that I needed; they healed my heart and spoke to the depths of my pain. I was touched by God, but I was so deeply touched by the love poured out by a friend.
She had been used as an angel of God that day.
She never sought recognition or acclaim.
She had no idea of my pain, but did a nice act all the same.
What she probably doesn’t know is that this act meant all the difference. It changed my vision.
It wasn’t about her recognition or acclaim. She had no knowledge regarding my issue – but, all the same, she offered a gesture of love. Love that was sacrificial, that took her time, that used her money, but that healed a heart.
I was brought to my knees. I was touched. I felt so loved.
I don’t know who this woman is. I may never know. But, what I do know is that God has special rewards for her in heaven. I also know that she taught me a lesson in friendship that day.
She makes me wonder:
Do I go out of my way to make small acts of love?
Do I give my time and money intentionally?
Do I see the friend who is likely hurting?
Do I shower them with advice or do I love them under the radar?
This friend inspires me to love through the power of God. Because friends are often the messengers of God’s faithfulness. I want to deliver Jesus’ messages.
Small acts of kindness do matter and love does conquers all. Friends are the best vehicles for his love, mercy and grace. They drive his truth home in our hearts.
Small acts of kindness matter; they completely transform lives.
“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.” – C.S. Lewis
“The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are.” – C.S. Lewis
Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts via email – click here.
Being a good mom is hard work.
It means being patient, kind and loving.
It means not pulling my hair out when I can’t get one second alone.
It means not having a second to do one little task without being tackled.
It means answering the same question, in the same way, for the 100th time.
Motherhood takes will power to be good.
Many times, I just don’t have it. But, I pretend I do. So, I load myself up with a lot of excuses to make my insides not feel like my outsides.
I try to tell myself – any mom, would get annoyed!
“Moms look at their cell phones all the time.”
“It’s natural to want to hide when things get tough.”
“If they would act right, I would too.”
“At least I am better than the worst time.”
“I did that because they have to learn how to act right.”
Excuses are funny.
Aren’t excuses really just little sweet lies covered with a smile? They’re chocolate on the outside, yet have arsenic on the inside.
Crutches that keep us in sin? We walk with them, but we stumble over ourself again and again never really getting anywhere.
Hinderances to our recovery? We try to look fully recovered, but we don’t let God heal.
I am tired of barriers. Barriers just block us out for God’s great promised land of joy waiting for us. Every time. They. Block. Us. Out.
With this, on this very good day, this very good day that cost one so much. I plead with God to help me take down all the boundaries that keep me from him.
I am humbled at the thought of him.
One who walked the road to Calvary with no excuses.
One who could have said, “Why should I die for those sinners, I am so much better than that.”
Or “I’m not doing a thing for them, for who have mocked me, tormented me and beat me.”
But, he didn’t utter excuses at the cross.
Instead he carried our load, he carried our cross, he endured the shame and the pain and didn’t run the other way. He took it all so that we could take our place next to him in heaven.
He is entirely good. No pretenses. No facades. No excuses. Simply good.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
I praise God that he is good. Because in him, I am good too. I am released from all excuses and free to accept his free grace. My inadequacies are covered.
No excuse is every required, because whatever it is I am trying to excuse is already covered. In this, I am free to bring everything to him without shame, without regret and with a humble heart. In his hands, he will change my ways and help me to be more than myself.
The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. (Ps. 145:9)
Free grace is continually poured out due to his goodness. Abundant love is always being extended due to his sacrifice. My life will never be the same; he marked all days as “good enough”. My days are forever changed.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever. (Ps. 136:1)
Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts via email – click here.
I had friend; she was sweet, beautiful and helpful, but sometimes, she had a way of getting under my skin. Normally, I just shoved my irritation through the door of my heart and locked it there with a key. After all, sometimes it feels easier not to deal with things.
I remember one specific day – she asked me to borrow a coat. But, as I handed it to her, she looked at it with disdain. I knew her. I knew she had her eye on one specific coat in my closet. I knew her mind was set, even though she put me through a song and dance trying on each one – I knew where this charade was headed.
In that moment, I wanted to say, “Wear the coat I gave you. I am wearing this one.” I wanted to send a message that I knew what she was up to. I wanted her to see that her approach was wrong.
But, as I evaluated how to deliver this message, the quiet whisper of my heart said, “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.” Lev. 19:18
God’s truth spoke to my heart saying, “Others may annoy you, but it doesn’t matter what they do, it matters what I tell you to do. What matters is – love.”
We headed out. She, wearing the beautiful coat – I, wearing the old one.
As I returned from dropping her off at her house, I recounted all her offenses against me. My irritation levels were on high alert in general, so you can only imagine my frustration when I arrived at the front door, to find it locked and dead-bolted, with absolutely no way in.
Try as I may, this house was impenetrable – and my heart felt imbittered.
But, as I shoved my hand into my old not-so-nice coat, the coat, I felt something; it was just what I needed- a bobby pin – one she has left in my pocket while trying my coat on.
It was this bobby pin that allowed me to pry a screen off a window, so I could climb in to unlock my front door.
In that moment, my whole perspective shifted. I found the key to unlock both my resentful heart – and my front door.
It unlocked all the small annoyances. The truth is, the hurting person is hurt. They need love.
It unlocked the power of seeing over small offenses. God rewards a heart that forgives, that shows mercy and that looks beyond offenses. He rewards a heart that sees a heart.
It unlocked the power of sacrificial love. True love means we put another before our self. When we look past the exterior, God wows us with the interior of the one who stands before us.
It unlocked my mind from anger and resentment. When we open the door of our hurts to the great God who understands hurts, all we can do is run into his open arms to receive forgiveness. Then, we can start seeing the ministry work the Lord has set before us to do in the heart of another.
It unlocked a new reality; true love costs something. Love means we lay down what we have, so we can see how God wills us to reach the other. Sometimes it may cost us a coat, sometimes our time, but no matter, we lay it down in love.
We are all fallen, hurt and imperfect, but as we see past these things, our well-maintained fortresses are penetrated, our walls are taken down and true relationships are forged.
Truly, love surpasses locked doors. It opens up a whole new world.
Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts via email – click here.
Most of the time, and I hate to say this, I do anything but what is right.
I get frustrated at crying kids.
Get irritated at the load of work I have to do.
Feel annoyed with people who get in my way.
And grab hold of a discontent heart.
I look at others and judge.
I gravitate towards sin, especially when I am not filtering life through God’s Word. With the burden of my sin and the distance it causes between me and God, I have been considering how to approach this. Because, like Paul says, I normally end up doing the exact things I don’t want to do. Then, I hate myself for doing them.
How do I do what is good to do and forgo what isn’t?
How do I find God’s joy and his blessings
as I cast sin aside?
God delivered a simple recipe of truth to answer these questions in the sequence of these verses:
1.) Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. (Ps. 37:4)
It’s simple. Delight.
Delight in his truth.
Delight in his love.
Delight in his law.
Delight even more in his grace.
Delight in his power.
Delight in his sovereignty.
Delight in his being.
Delight in his guidance.
Delight in his mercy.
The more I delight, the more he will help me and offer me the deepest desires of my heart – the things I want the most. The things that I often try to obtain by sin. These are the things he wants to give me. With this, God pushes out any works based approach as I delight in him.
The power of delighting casts out all fear of the future, people or circumstances, because God casts out any control they have over my future.
When we delight, they have no weight on God giving us what we most desire in the deepest recesses of our heart.
2. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. (Ps. 37:5)
If my ways are committed, then my ways are likely in his will. In this there is no disappointment, because I will what he wills. We are working in unison. It comes as no surprise to me that he says “he will do it.”
We delight and commit – and he sees us through it.
When we delight in who God is and what he can and will do, all we want to do is commit to and trust in his amazing ways.
3. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light… (Ps. 37:6)
What is the result of delighting, committing and trusting?
He gives us the desires of our heart.
He does what we most desire.
He brings righteousness.
The recipe for blessings is clear – we delight, commit and submit.
As we proclaim his goodness, sing songs of praise from our lips, we discover the joy that is God. We discover his ways, and we let go of our fears.
He makes us righteous solely by residing in him more. He delights us with the most amazing gifts of our lives, things we may not even be aware of, and he will do his will, which we also will in unison.
Let’s stick to this recipe, my friends – it will yield amazing results.
Life gets so hectic. It gets busy. It gets overwhelming.
Many times, I sit with two children screaming their heads off and I don’t even know what to do. Or, I look at a pile of work that needs to be done, but I have no time. Or, look at the Mount Everest of trials and I have no idea how to ski down.
In these moments, I have to wonder – what do I send?
Do I send love?
Or, do I send irritation, aggravation and frustration?
Because a lot of the time, the world seems to act on me. It seems to send me into a tailspin. One where I just spin in circles trying to grab hold of a tail I can never quite reach.
And, my aggravation, at my lack of control, often sends me on a rampage to dump frustration on those I love.
My environment becomes a result of my circumstances.
I know God calls me to rise above this, but why can’t I? What holds me back?
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. (Phil. 4:8)
Is it that I send my mind down roads of thought that they shouldn’t be traveling on?
When life breaks down, when circumstances come to topple – I can choose to send my heart to Jesus. I can choose to send my thoughts to the Word of God. I can choose to send out to others a heart that ministers to their needs, instead of one that is being swallowed up with mine.
Jesus will help me.
He understands trials.
He knows the chaos of life.
He has the right answer for me.
He can get me through.
Jesus, you have told me to go. Send me down your paths, send my according to your ways. Send me, so that I may find true, joyful and meaningful life – because when you send, no one who is encountered by you is ever the same.
***Sign up for Purposeful Faith blog posts by email for an almost-daily dose of encouragement. Click here.
My son loves baking with me. He certainly takes the cake for the best assistant. But, it wasn’t his baking skills that astounded me, it was God’s lesson of contentment really left a taste in my mouth.
My son stirred the entire contents of the pancake batter in his bowl, yet his eyes were transfixed on the paltry 2 teaspoons of milk in his sister’s. He was aggravated, annoyed and discontent. Suddenly, he didn’t like his bowl; he wanted his sister’s.
I felt sad for him, because:
He didn’t realize the value of what he held.
He didn’t realize that I had given him something special.
He didn’t realize his ingredients were vital to breakfast.
Instead, he became so distracted with her plate, he neglected his own.
Didn’t he know that we were about 3-minutes away from eating some light and fluffy delicious pancakes? He was missing out, missing the point and missing the joy.
His joy was stolen. Envy was eating him up.
How much of our attitude is just like his? One of discontentment?
How often do we see past our portion – to only see another’s? How often are our blessings soured by wandering eyes?
What does God think about this?
It gets me thinking – when our eyes wander to another’s portion, we miss the delight of our own. We miss the joy, the anticipation, the thanksgiving, the appreciation, the purpose, the passion – and the moment.
The whole time, my son had what was better right before him
– but he couldn’t see it. He was too transfixed with the matter of someone else’s batter.
Like him, are we so worried about “getting” that we miss what God is “giving”? Let’s change this attitude to start enjoying what the Lord has placed before us.
10 Ways to Grab Hold of Contentment:
10. Believe that the Lord has given us exactly what we need for today.
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? (Mt. 6:26)
If the Lord wanted us to have more, we would have more. But, we don’t. Why? We can’t always know, we can’t always tell and we can’t always understand – but we can understand that the Lord’s ways are not our ways. He knows better than us. Faith is trusting no matter what things look like.
9. Understand our deepest needs are already met.
Much like my son, we don’t realize that we already have the bigger bowl, the better goods and the sizable portion (we have Christ). However, because we allow envy to creep into our hearts, we become disillusioned by what we see around us – and we miss what the Lord has done in us.
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:19)
8. Realize that underneath the other person’s baked goodies, often lies a chipped, cracked and discolored plate.
While we may say, “wow, what they have looks so good,” we never really know what the other person is dealing with.
Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. (Prov. 4:25)
7. Face reality: We can’t have our cake and eat it too.
We ask God for contentment, endurance and patience – while demanding, coveting and envying material goods. God is not a genie in a bottle and we are not his master. When we trust God as supreme – we appreciate what we have.
One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor. (Prov. 29: 23)
6. Realize that joy is found when we find contentment.
If my son had worried less about his sister’s bowl and more about his – he could have enjoyed the moment. However, his joy was cut short. He instead embraced jealousy, anxiety and frustration because he saw what he didn’t have.
Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Ps. 37:4)
5. Walk by Faith: We never know what God has for us around the corner.
Frankly, we may have less than another today. But, we have no idea what God has in store for us in tomorrow. If we are always playing the comparison game – we will either feel prideful one moment and neglected the next or vice versa. Why indulge in this constant sin-cycle? It’s not worth it; it clouds our calling. It throws us off track.
In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Prov. 3:6)
4. Rest in the knowledge that the Lord will provide.
He will provide for our deepest needs. We don’t have to look side-to-side any longer because we can look high-and-up to the King that stands ready to bestow all good gifts.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Ps. 73:26)
3. Even if we have less, we have a great opportunity to rely on God.
In these moments, we can fully rest in our Lord’s faithful providence. It is here where faith is grown. It is here where real blessings surface. It’s not material blessings, but immaterial blessings that blow us away with joy, peace and purpose.
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. (Phil 4:11)
2. Grab hold of God instead of material goods for true significance.
“Not having” gives us the chance to “have” the greater gift – a gift that fills insecurities, quells fears and provides security. What was once insecure, becomes secure with Christ.
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (Jo. 8:12)
1. Praise, honor and thank God for what we have. The more we do, the more we can celebrate – him.
The more we lift God up, the more we realize – one day – we too will be lifted. The more we glorify God, the less we desire to be glorified by our own might.
And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (Jo. 14:13)
We find contentment when we realize that the Lord has placed just the right portion in our bowl. But, the key is, we can’t let our eyes drift. We can’t miss the moment. We can’t miss his work – in us and through us.
Like my son, we have no idea what will come from our share. While he thought his sister’s portion had value, it was his that actually had true meaning. It was his that would make something lasting. She only held a drop of milk. His was nourishing, sustaining and valuable.
What has the Lord placed in front of you? Is your gift eternal? Are you missing its value? Are you thanking God for this gift?
***Sign up to receive an almost daily dose of encouragement. Get these blog posts by email. CLICK HERE!
Please know that you are loved. You are greatly adored. You are special. You are encouraged. You are seen. You are powerful. You have a sound mind. You have a future. You have a hope. You have purpose. You are secure.
Because of me. Because of your God. Because of Christ, who accepted every ounce of pain, so that he could grant every ounce of grace. Grace has been lavishly poured all over you. Do you know what this means? You are entirely secure.
I am the definition of love. I take joy in my creation. I give life. I show the way. I offer you truth.
Know this, dear child, know this:
I won’t leave you, ever. I won’t abandon you, never. I won’t forsake you, no way no how. I will help you, always. I will lift you up and exalt you at just the right time, just see. I will hold your hand in hard times, I will. I will guide you in all of your days, trust me.
Come. Come and receive.
Stop striving and come.
Stop trying and come.
Stop worrying and come.
Dear child of God, I love you. I won’t stop loving you.
Your Lord and Savior, your King of Kings, your All-in-All, your One and Only
SIGN UP FOR PURPOSEFUL FAITH BLOG POSTS BY EMAIL (and for a chance to win an Amazon Gift Card): Click here.
Proverbs 15:1 A soft word turns away wrath but harsh words stir up anger. (NIV)
I scurried into the store and made a bee line for the customer service counter. It was the holiday season and I was in a hurry to find a specific gift.
There was one other lady standing beside the counter and several customer service clerks meandering behind it. When I got to the counter one of the clerks immediately approached me and asked me if she could help. I no sooner got the words, “I wonder if you could tell me where…,” out of my mouth before the woman standing beside me erupted into a soprano sounding hysteria. With sharp staccato inflections, she belted, “Is there something wrong with you? Can’t you see I’ve been waiting and you’re breaking in line? And… you’re taking my help!”
I felt the blood rush to my face and the hair on the back of my neck stand up as I glanced around and saw there was no line and plenty of help available. I have to admit my first reaction was to blast her right back with a big fat piece of my mind. But Someone bigger than me got the better of me. I almost couldn’t believe myself, when I turned to the clerk and asked softly, “Has anyone helped this woman? If not, will you help her?”
Someone bigger than me got the better of me.
Just as the key verse from Proverbs states, the soft words I spoke turned away this woman’s wrath.
What made her act that way? I suppose it could have been the holiday rush, too much to do on her to-do-list, or she might have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed, but maybe, just maybe, what I witnessed was her normal.
I say that because thirty years ago she, might have been me. Because on many a day that was my normal.
I grew up in a family of yellers. Yelling doesn’t have to mean being loud. Yelling can refer to the tone of your voice as well. Quick and sharp can sound harsh and brash. I didn’t necessarily like some of the tones played out in my childhood but it was my normal. And you don’t change normal.
But God does.
In my early twenties, it was no coincidence that I married a peacemaker, my polar opposite, a man who could charm the skin off a snake. Needless to say, my often sharp and abrupt approach was a shock to his system. He would say to me, “Christy, the way in which you deliver a message is just as important as the message you deliver.”
The way in which you deliver a message is just as important as the message you deliver.
Those words gradually went from my head to my heart. While raising our two boys, and watching them grow, I was growing too – spiritually. My deepest desire was for my boys to grow up to be godly men with gentle spirits. But whatever children see their parents do in moderation they will do in excess. It was then the Holy Spirit convicted my heart that if I was to be a brighter light I needed to have a softer voice.
Whatever we do in moderation our children will do in excess.
I needed to soften my sharp words and tune up my normal. To make this change I had to do 3 things, admit, commit, and submit.
1. Admit, I was a yeller. I had to admit my approach was often wrong.
2. Commit it to prayer. I couldn’t do this on my own, I needed to ask God for help.
3. Submit to accountability. Finally I had to have a few somebody’s to hold me to it. My boys were more than willing to oblige in that department.
Thanks be to God, He is still at work in me everyday changing me to be more like Him.
Today, I hope all my words will carry the sweet harmony of Jesus, whether it’s to family, friends, the bag boy at the grocery, the girl at the drive-through window, or a hysterical woman in a department store.
What about you? At the end of the day, don’t you want to be someone’s melody rather than their malady?
We have a choice to make. Do we believe the World or do we believe the Lord? We have to live in this world, but we are smart to discover how not to be of the world.
Because the fact of the matter is that you can’t serve both. You will either serve God or you will serve the world.
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. (Matthew 6:24)
The world tries to tell us that we need to be rich, powerful, successful, beautiful, funny, outgoing and (fill in the blank).
But, as Christians, the World is not our maker – and it is certainly not our master.
Yet, sometimes we act like it is. It tells us what we need to believe, how we should act and what we should say. And we follow in step. Its words can become louder than the Word of God – especially if we aren’t taking time to hear the Word of God.
The world’s magnetic pull draws us close and we tend to get consumed us with its standards rather than getting consumed with the one who holds all life, all love and all power.
The truth is, we can’t focus on two destinations. It’s impossible. You can’t drive to two places at once. And that is exactly what we are attempting to do. We say we are driving towards Christ, yet that enticing off ramp pulls us off our course.
We continually get distracted when we take our eyes off the road leading to Christ.
We follow signs that direct us to pleasure and enjoyment – and we get sidetracked. We see the stop sign that offers a perfect moment to look at our needs in the mirror – and our voyage is halted. We see a billboard that advertises a perfect face of beauty, riches and power – and we get thinking. Then, we get lost.
Let’s not set ourselves on a crash course. In order to do this, we must think about what we are thinking about – and we must think about what we shouldn’t be thinking about. Likewise, we have to look at what we are believing – and not believing. Because, we either have our eyes set on Christ or we are swerving down the roads of the world, ready to head straight into a ditch.
God calls us to focus. To keep our eyes on Christ.
To avoid looking at what everyone else is doing, being, and saying – and to instead see Him.
Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God (Hebrews 12:2 The Message)
When our eyes are on Christ, they are not on the world. And, when our eyes are on the world, they are not on Christ.
Lets fix our eyes on the One who provides all direction, all hope and all purpose by keeping focused eyes.
Focused eyes understand He is the One who provides all good things.
Focused eyes, let the world become blurry.
Focused eyes allow God to magnify the right ministry opportunities.
Focused eyes spend time connecting with God on the daily basis.
Focused eyes see those that need love.
Focused eyes are focused on the needs of others before themselves.
Focused eyes are not just focused on TV.
Focused eyes understand that God has big plans for them.
Focused eyes know that God is greater than any circumstance.
Focused eyes know that God has not forgotten them.
Focused eyes know that God is alive, well and aware of all things.
Focused eyes know God will rescue and restore.
Focused eyes do not veer off the road. They steer clear of potholes. They avoid dark areas.
The result is a life that is full of Christ, abundant in love, strong in purpose, weak in pride, engaging in relationships, authentic in grace and powerful in faith. We all want this.
When we meet Jesus, we want him to turn to us and say, “‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” (Matthew 25:21)
When our eyes are focused, we won’t miss out on what God has for us. The opposite happens – we see ourselves and our lives with amazing clarity. We receive the goodness, the peace and the love that God has in store for us as believers because we are not sidetracked. We need not fear because the Lord will keep us safe.
Stay tuned for Part II where we will discover who we are in light of our God.