“Cover your face, or else… ”
“We just don’t know when we will all be okay…”
“There is no telling how many people will die…”
The endless discussion is enough to make even the most faithful Christian weary, tired or uncertain. Many of us have taken down our defenses. Now, it seems we are prey.
We feel powerless.
Yet, we are not powerless. Christ has not left us powerless, but power-full.
“I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.” (Eph. 1:19-20)
Can you even imagine? The same power that raised Christ from the dead AND seated him in the place of honor — is for us!!!
This is not theory or hearsay; this is truth.
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Tim. 1:7)
We have a spirit of power.
Power to turn off the TV.
Power to pray.
Power to love.
Power to say I don’t agree with what I am hearing.
Power to use wisdom in accordance with peace.
Power to rise above the mayhem and into God’s rest.
Power to cast what is bothering us unto God.
Power to engage with God’s Word.
Power to have great faith.
Power to see God’s great moves in action.
Power to bless and heal others, through Christ’s love.
We are not powerless — like the enemy wants us to feel — we are power-full!
The difference between the two is often the difference between mental health and deterioration.
Prayer: Father God, I thank you that you have not left me powerless. You have not deserted me. You have not left me behind. I am not without a friend. Jesus is my friend. You are my Father. I have family. I am loved. It is well with my soul. It is well in my world. You have given me power, through Christ, to effect godly change in this world. And, I will do so! In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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.
“The girl who smells” & needs to learn what deodorant is. “The girl with the budding boobs” no one else has. “The girl who can’t read” and is behind. “The girl who is selfish” and shouldn’t speak. “The girl who doesn’t really know what she is saying” and needs direction. “The girl with too loud a voice” who needs to kneel on some hard floor in front of Mary to figure things out. “The girl that is not like us.”
What has the world named you?
As I enjoyed lunch with a friend, I mentioned an old prayer partner, “She called me intense,” I said. “I am no longer offended at these crippling words,” I told her, “I am healed.
Internally, I nodded. Yes, I agreed with that. I am over it. I really am. I’ve wiped my hands clean of that word.
She looked at me and said, “Yes, you know your book is intense too.”
The thing that is coming out January 2017?
That thing I poured my heart, soul and sweat into, along with the power of 3 coffees a day?
I thought in my bed that night about it. “Intense? No one likes intense. They like funny, they like frilly and they like fanciful, but no one in their right mind like a book to be – intense. People flee from the intensity of hurricanes, tornadoes and tsunamis. They’ll flee me too.”
I got up from bed. I dictionary.com’d it:
1. acute, strong, or vehement, as sensations, feelings, or emotions: intense anger. 2. of an extreme kind; very great, as in strength, keenness, severity
I was “this”? The kids started mocking again.
I wanted to hate the book in that moment. I wanted to rip it up and speak “loser” over it with loud and forceful declarations – heck, with intensity, with severity and vehement force! I wanted to get all mean all over it.
Do you hate who you are too?
The uncommon, unusable and unrepairable things about you?
But, what if?
What if rather than hiding,
we zipped off people’s demands
to see us, as we are, how God made us?
I considered this, with the help of some wise counselors.
The world has funny,
but could the world need intensity?
Might God want to create an acute force
that reverberates Jesus?
Do severe times call for more solid
and straightforward messages?
My husband reframed the words spoken over me. “Kelly, you are bold,” he said.
What if, rather than fearing what others hate,
I unleashed the raw potential of who God made me to be?
What if you did too?
Imagine what all of us, fully believing in God’s good, could do.
Imagine where we could go, if we no longer held back.
Imagine the face of this world, with people unafraid to step into God’s purpose.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Each unique characteristic has a unique purpose on the board game of God’s master plan.
What if we believed that?
What if we let go of fear? And made our darkness bright.
What if we shared God’s good in us? And found we were the missing piece.
What if we stepped in? And Jesus’ power exploded.
What if we’ve been missing out?
When we hold back our true-self, we hold back Christ.
We show a limping Christianity, yet, Jesus wants to show a thriving one. One where He walks on out into the world, not limping, but striding in trust, light and hope.
When we reach into the deep and hate what we see, we embrace the world’s hate for anything that looks different from its likeness. Yet, when we reach into our deep and believe, with God, “It is good (Gen. 1:31),” something shifts. Something unhooks – and peace falls.
Might God be calling you to unhook the lies?
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. Ps. 139:19
Might you see yourself differently? Known? Loved? Knit as you are for good reason?
Perhaps today, you see yourself reframed and renamed – as His.
A new creation, his original masterpiece, unlike anything else.
An image flowing, moving and working, much like the image of Christ.
It’s the shine of more. It’s the clean of perfect. It’s togetherness and wholeness.
It looks nothing like me.
I look like tiredness personified.
I look like worry building upon worry.
I look like one who tries to trust – but still doubts.
I look like a battlefield where godliness goes up against selfishness.
I look like a girl trying to fit herself into mold “good mom.”
That’s me. Not so shiny. Not very sparkly. Hardly.
It feels hard to keep the glimmer of Christ existent amidst the grime of this life.
But, what if glimmer was not me – or you? What if the pressure was off? What if glimmer was just a matter of letting God’s light bust through our darkness?
What would that look like?
God’s glory is always found within our tension points (Romans 5:3). It is a hard thing to consider, isn’t it? Usually, we run from these places, thinking they spots sent to inflict pain. Little do we know that sometimes, these exact spots, when pushed are what are going to deliver us to freedom – and to greater mobility to reach the world.
Where we feel pressed, God is working things out, so one day, we land at – blessed.
We shimmer. We shine. We find glory!
Do we believe it is possible?
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings,
because we know that suffering produces…
When great joy emerges out of great struggle, people notice. Glory!
When peace is found over hardship. Glory!
When God grants unspeakable calm in the midst of doggone electricity storm. Glory!
When insight speaks into an impossible situation. Glory! Glimmer! Sparkle! Shine! Power! Light unquenchable.
When we endure and then endure and then say, “No matter what Heaven awaits!” Glory!
We can lean into pain, knowing that God, by his very nature,will always use it – for spiritual gain. In that we can trust.
Is it hard? Yes. Impossible. No.
It is not, because it is also a work of the Holy Spirit – he makes you go about all Tigger-style, abounding in hope (Romans 5:13).
Seeing Jesus constructing mission out of our pain. Imagining people changed after relational turbulence. Standing on God’s masterplan rather than our personal ones. Believing that God really is at work to make us into Christ’s image. Going beyond self, to reach the nations. Thanking God for the new thing he is building in us. Understanding the cross and all the pain that came with it. Looking at the captives and depressives and wanting to love them. Getting a feeling that we have to pass around. Knowing we found home and longing for the fullness of it to come.
Hope. It is all you need to sparkle, no matter how you feel. Nothing can steal it. No one can rob it of you. It is a knowledge you’ll be blessed, even if you straight up land at heaven’s gates.
Let it sing in you. Let it rise from you. Walk in its fullness and feel its freedom – then hand it out to all you meet.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 5:13
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I am delighted to have Mary Carver join us today for this #RaRalinkup post!
Last night I messaged two friends. I asked them if I was a bad person for getting upset to see other people get attention and accolades for something I had also done (but for which I certainly wasn’t receiving that attention).
Honestly I wanted them to yell and point fingers and join me in my indignation at being left out and overlooked. Instead, they did what good friends do and reminded me that I wasn’t in this business or this life for either attention or accolades.
They also admitted that my feelings didn’t make me a bad person, simply human – but they were right about my focus. I had forgotten that my ministry and work and life are about obeying God and serving Him the best I can. Not pats on the backs and plastic trophies, not awards and atta-girls. But trust and obedience, love and service.
We can easily get distracted from our mission, can’t we? One minute we’re all about following God, no matter where He leads us, loving Him and loving others, doing whatever it takes to help people see Him. And then…bam! Before we even know what’s happening, we’ve heard about someone else’s mission – and all the perks that come with it, and we’re simmering with envy, wishing our call looked like theirs.
My friend and co-author, Sara Frankl, knew something about that. The call on her life was one that was full of beauty and joy – but it was also full of pain and loss. Trusting God and loving what He had given her was a challenge, but she managed to do it with a grace and wisdom that encourages me and teaches me every day.
I remember the first time I really understood the parable of the vineyard workers. I had heard this Bible story all my life, but it finally clicked in college.
In Matthew 20, Jesus is recorded telling the story of a man who needed help with his harvest. He hired some men for the day, telling them the day’s wage, which they accepted and began working. Throughout the day, he realized he needed more help to get the work completed, so he went out multiple times and hired more workers. Each time he offered the wage to his new workers, they accepted and set out to work.
At the end of the day, he called all the workers together and paid them the same day’s wage. It was the wage he had offered to them, the one they had all accepted. But the men who had worked all day laboring in the fields were angry. They said they were cheated because they worked harder and longer than the others, and should be paid more than those who had worked only the last few hours.
In reality, the problem wasn’t the amount they were paid for the work they did. He gave the workers what was promised to them. The problem was in the worker who only felt cheated when he compared his life to someone else’s. The problem arose when the worker took his eyes off of his own mission, the one he agreed to gladly – and decided he wanted the easier task that was promised to someone else.
I have to remind myself of this story because it’s hard for me not to feel cheated. It’s hard for me to be thankful on a holiday weekend when I have to be alone in this condo. When there is no bustle of family or friends, when I can’t enjoy a turkey dinner, when I have no one to talk with and laugh with and reminisce with and grieve with. It’s hard when I compare my isolated existence with what I know is happening everywhere else.
But that’s not the deal I made with God. I promised Him my whole life, and He promised He would love me, never leave me, and take me home to have eternal life in Heaven someday. It was the wage He promised me, the wage I accepted – and it’s only when I take my eyes off of that promise that I feel cheated. God is honoring His deal. It’s me who looks at life and says, “I’ll have what she’s having, please.”
Does going back to that Bible story make all the hard-to-deal-with feelings disappear? Of course not. It’s still brutal. But it reminds me of what I believe. I believe that God has a purpose for me, and that my job is to be faithful to whatever comes with my life. I will do my daily task and honor Him as I believe He is honoring me.
I believe it. Even when it doesn’t feel good. Even when it hurts and is lonely and feels unfair and requires me to grieve a life I was never promised.
The truth is that my life is no better or worse than I wanted. It’s just completely and utterly different. The wisdom comes in knowing that it is exactly as it should be. The joy comes in learning to love it, not despite all I’ve lost, but because of all that it has brought to me.
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Excerpt, Choose Joy: Finding Hope & Purpose When Life Hurts by Sara Frankl & Mary Carver
Mary Carver is a writer, speaker, and recovering perfectionist. She writes about her imperfect life with humor and honesty, encouraging women to give up on perfect and get on with life, at www.givinguponperfect.com. Mary is the co-author of a new book called,Choose Joy: Finding Hope & Purpose When Life Hurts. Released by the Hachette Book Group in 2016, CHOOSE JOY is a must-have for those searching for meaning and beauty in a world full of tragedy. Sara’s words breathe with vitality and life, and her stories will inspire smiles, tears, and the desire to choose joy. To learn more about CHOOSE JOY.
Sometimes, life leaves us wondering, Jesus? Where are you?
Sometimes trials last year after year, and we don’t see how God works good things through those hard places.
So often, we need a reminder of who Jesus is and what He’s done and what He’s still doing for His loved ones.
The book of Hebrews begins by telling us that God speaks through Jesus to the world.
Previously, God spoke to the prophets, the Old Testament writers. He revealed Himself to them, with divinely inspired revelation, but that revelation was incomplete. He also spoke to people through angels. The original audience for this book, the Jews, had highest regard for the ministry of angels.
But now, God wants us to know, He has spoken in a far superior way.
God has spoken to the world through the person of Jesus Christ, His Son, who is greater than prophets and angels. More.
“Love.” What happens when underneath it all – we don’t feel God’s love in our deepest being? When we know Jesus, but we have a hard time believing he loves us? Perhaps, the world has jaded us, people have hurt us or we have done the unthinkable.
We think God’s love is nice, but we know it as “distant”.
We know love in our mind, but don’t feel it in our heart. We know love accepts us, but still, our past defines us. We know love is the answer to freedom, but the chains remain.
What happens here?
How do we move from knowing in our minds – to believing in our hearts?
From knowing about love – to knowing love?
Sometimes, I feel like I live partially loved by God.
Like a daughter who is visited by her step dad a couple times a week.
Like a girl who is not always seen.
Like one who needs constant affirmation.
Like one who wonders if she is forgotten.
Like one who needs to earn approval.
Like one who feels unworthy.
Like one who is forgotten.
Like one who doubts.
Like one who falters.
Is this a picture of a loved daughter of the most high King?
Can I truly love others – and God, when I haven’t embraced depths of his love?
His unceasing, unbelievable and unending love?
Perhaps my earthly experiences have shaped my capacity to perceive God’s love. Can I only know love to the depths that I have been loved?
In my search to answer these questions, God is teaching me that to walk in love is to walk by faith.
Because none of us have been loved the way he loves.
None of us can understand the depths of his actions for us.
None of us can perceive the immensity of his presence before us.
None of us can comprehend the lengths he goes to fight for us.
His love is unbelievable in a sense.
Because of this,
we have allowed our perceptions and our tribulations
to create realities of God’s love for us.
Yet, his power extends beyond these created idols of love.
Like the many miracles of Jesus; true power is found by faith.
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Heb. 11:1)
Faith is where the love of Christ is found. It is found when we receive what he gives, even though the gift is so immense we can hardly receive it – or believe it.
– His own son – for us. He gave the ultimate (Jo. 3:16)
– His life for us – for people who can’t stop sinning. (Ro. 5:8)
– A life that is alive with Christ. He goes with us. (Eph. 2:4-5)
– A saved life. His presence. His rejoicing spirit. A presence that quiets our active soul. (Zeph. 3:17)
– Steadfast, never-ending love and faithfulness. (Psalm 86:15)
– Mercy & graciousness. (Psalm 86:15)
– His own Spirit – a constant companion and help – to live within us. (2 Tim. 1:7)
– A position as a child of God (1 John 3:1)
– An owned status, which nothing – no way, no how – can ever separate his love from us. (Ro. 8:31-39, Ps. 24:1)
– A secure position which – no one, no way – can pluck away. (Jo. 10:28)
– No condemnation even though we deserve it all. (Ro. 8:1)
– Gifts that he delights in giving because we are his children. (Gal 3:26)
– An acceptance and approval of who we are. (Ro. 14:18)
– A powerful care about our daily doings. (Ps. 139:2)
– An ever-flowing rhythm of grace that can never be obstructed. (Jo. 1:16)
– An eternal home that has been prepared just for us. (Jo. 14:2)
– An earthly plan and purpose for our lives. (Prov. 16:9)
– A promise to make us more and more like him. (2 Cor. 3:18)
– A nearness, a shelter and a hope that is beyond compare. (Ps. 46:1-6)
– An advocate who fights on our behalf. (1 Jo. 2:1)
– One who is ALWAYS for us. (Ro. 8:31)
– One whose compassions never fail. (Lam. 3:22)
God is so good that, in a small way, it doesn’t really matter how much we grasp his love because his love will still remain for us. His love is so unconditional that it is not contingent on understanding. He loves us despite us.
Freedom is found in this place. Because, even when our world, our past and our choices have proven that we are unworthy of love, we still remain, as believers, in Him. Then, in faith – we can step out to grab the power of God’s love. This is the way.
We can grab hold of love by faith by:
1. Praying. Lord, let us be deeply rooted in you.
2. Seeking. Lord, let your words of truth shoot as arrows of love to our deepest needs.
3. Meditating. Lord, let us see your love pour over us as we close our eyes.
4. Receiving. Lord, let creation testify to the power of your love.
5. Communing. Lord, let us relish in the daily gifts you pour out on us.
6. Abiding. Lord, let us remain in you – and you in us. Help us to see this give and take.
I am done living fatherless from the most high king, distanced from the one who cares for me the most and duped into believing I am alone. I am done with the fear.
Because isn’t fear just a deep knowledge that no one is near?
But, God is. He was. And, he always will be. The Alpha and Omega never changes.
He is even when I don’t think he is. This is the ultimate love. His love is so all consuming that my eyes cannot begin to absorb his immensity. His love is so great that I can’t even fathom it. I can’t even take it.
I will set my mind, by faith, on the power of his love and trust that it will accomplish all it is set forth to do.
The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands. (Ps. 138:8)
My life is secure, never to be forgotten, in the palm of his love.
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