Purposeful Faith

Author - purposefulfaith

Faith Beyond What’s Comfortable

I don’t like feeling in need. I like to have everything together. I like being the strong one. I like having the right word for the right person at the right time. I like giving. I like handling things well. I like knowing what my day holds. I like convenience. I like knowing what is happening.

Knowing things makes me feel good. Having a handle on life makes me feel comfortable.

But, is comfort what Jesus was after?

I bet many of the disciples didn’t feel comfortable when they left their fishing business behind to follow Jesus.

I bet Paul felt anything but comfortable when he fell off that horse and went blind for three days.

I bet Jesus didn’t feel comfortable when He walked down Calvary Road with a cross.

There are times where the Lord permits a shaking up of our proverbial snow globes in life — to loose us from comfort zones. The Lord, in His All-Knowingness, uses discomfort and awkwardness to provoke great need for Him. Here, rather than relying on our way, our sufficiency, our greatness and our known — we run to rely on Him.

These uncomfortable times of awkwardness can be times of great acceleration if received with open hearts and hands. They can walk us into the greatest, most glorious adventures of life, if we take the risk — to go there with God.

But, not all are willing to go the uncomfortable distance. Not all say yes…to the call, to shedding weight for His great…

Jesus answered (the rich man), ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’

When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.” (Mt. 19:21-22)

The rich man did not follow Jesus because he was comfortable.

What a pity it is to deny Jesus, to keep comfort.

For “…to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Phil. 1:21) Dying to ourselves is not always comfortable, but it is always worth it. Jesus, as The Prince of Peace has peace for us, no matter how hard the bridge there looks. And, all His paths lead to life, for Jesus is Life (see Jo. 14:6). No matter how unorthodox it seems, when Jesus is in it we will find both life and peace when we walk through it with Him. He is true to His nature.

With all this, take courage, my friends, as you walk in these hard places. Gain hope! If Christ has overcome the world (Jo. 16:33), surely He can overcome what you face as you go with Him. He is faithful. Truly, I tell you: You “can do all things through Him who gives you strength.” (Phil. 4:13)

Reflect:
What discomfort may God be using to further holiness, endurance or perseverance in your life?

How might the shaking be making you more into the image of Christ?

How might God be calling you out and will you obey?

Prayer:

Father God, great is your faithfulness. You are so trustworthy. You are so good. You are so mighty. I thank You for Your Son, Jesus. He is worthy of all my life, all my devotion and all my obedience. I ask You for all the grace I need to follow Him. Whether it is to step out into a new calling, out of sin, or into a time of growth through circumstances, I ask for Your equipping and empowerment. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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3 Ways to Love God More

I say after a scrumptious dinner to my friend, “Let me get those dishes for you.” I then proceed to clean the whole table, scrub every dish, get everything dried off and put into place. Pans are cleaned. Pots are put back away.

That friend looks up and says, “Thanks, Kelly.”

Yet, for another friend, on a different night, I do the same thing. Her response? “Wow, Kelly. You are amazing. I feel so loved and so appreciated. I am so thankful. I am so touched.”

What’s the difference? The difference is loving people the way they feel loved. After reading the book, The Five Love Languages, I learned there are five ways people feel loved: Acts of service, quality time, gift-giving, words of affirmation or physical touch. When you nail the love language, the person is hit with a jolt of love.

What is God’s love language?

Jesus said, “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ (Mt. 22:37)

But, how do we love God the way He wants to be loved?

Here are 3 Ways to Love God His way:

1. Have a Need for His Love
Friends, God is love. He is the complete sum of love. Love is a fruit of His Spirit. If we do not rest in His love, receive His love and relish in His love, we will not understand love. In this case we may resort to love as a flesh-focused obligation or duty, but miss the Holy Spirit prompted sort of love, that comes from God.

“We love because he first loved us.” (1 Jo. 4:19)

Are you spending time with the Lord?

2. Obey His Commands

Love will last to eternity and so will our obedience. Because, obedience is love.

When my kids obey me, I feel loved. They listen. They know I am their mom. They care about my words. Likewise, when we obey, we not only honor God, but we love Him.

Do you seek to obey God, no matter the cost?

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

3. Receive His Sacrifice Continually

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Ro. 5:8)

Apart from Jesus, we are nothing. We bring no value, no good, and no work that is worthy. Often, we mess up. We may try not to sin and then we do. We may try to obey and then we fall short.

The beauty here?

Jesus. He shows His love for us — through the cross — even while we are sinning, He forgives. He gives us a blank slate, again. He offers us a second chance, or a 30,000th chance.

God’s continual love for us turns into our continual love for Him. How could a love this divine save us again? We worship. We give thanks. We love Him all the more, because His love is so extravagant.

Prayer: Father, we love you. We thank you. We praise you. You are everything. We ask that we could love you from deeper depths. Would you pour out your love upon us? Would you fill us with your love so we can love you and others more? In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Overcoming on Hard Days

I said to the pilot, “What is the best learning you have from flying high in the skies?”

His answer, “There is always, always, sun above the rain clouds. If it looks dark and dim when you take off, you just have to go higher. There, the sun is bright!”

The man had a point. What he said was not only a lesson in the natural, but in the spiritual. Above every dark cloud of uncertainty about the future, above every relational problems, above financial concerns, above health issues, remains the Son. The glorious, bright and ever awe-inspiring Son.

When we fly higher than problems, we see Him. The Sovereign One is always reigning when it is raining.

But, so often, my problem is — I don’t look up. Friends, while it is hard to admit, in recent days, I have made a habit of looking at the rain, more than the Rain Maker. Internally, I keep griping, “Ugh, isn’t this over yet? How long can I take going through this?”

I see what hasn’t happened.
I look at what isn’t right.
I see what people aren’t doing.
I am upset at what I am not doing.

Somewhere along the line, I got earthly-focused instead of heavenly-minded. The result? Faith dwindled. Frustration mounted. Anxiety increased. I worried. I sinned.

I sinned by taking my eyes off of God and putting them onto my problems, people and circumstances.

We are told not to do this:

“So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” (2 Cor. 4:8 NLT)

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (Col. 3:2 NIV)

When we set our mind above, we remember King of Kings and the Lord of Lords reigns above it all! When we fix our eyes on Him, we see His glory and power despite our problems and issues. When we think about heavenly things; love comes in right order.

How have you been focusing on what is earthly, instead of Him, who is heavenly? How might you need to let go of your grasp of worry, for the better gain of knowing and loving Him?

Prayer: Father, I thank you for every single person here. I thank you that you know what each and every person is going through. Jesus, you understand the hardships. You empathize. You know. I also ask that you would give us a grace to keep our heart and minds set on you. I ask that you would equip us to rise above problems and people and to glorify your name. Forgive us of self-focus and self-pity. Give us mouths of praise and eyes love. Give us faith and hope. Give us the ability to keep our eyes on you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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You Have Worth

take advantage

When you really want something, you pay any price for it. This is why collectibles are collectibles… People are willing to pay thousands for an old record. They pay big bucks for an old baseball card. They buy a watch for thousands.

Worth is proven by what people are willing to pay. Jesus paid the highest price — to redeem our worth. The Father counted our worth so worthy that He didn’t pay in dollars, but with His Son’s own blood, with His own Son’s beating and with His own Son’s life. Can you even imagine? Sending your own child to the slaughter?

Jesus paid the highest price to bridge our sinful divide. He laid down His life so we could be lifted to eternal life. He went the whole distance, because He wanted us.

Jesus didn’t die for someone or something with no worth. High prices mean high worth.

My dear friend, I want you to know: You have worth.

I used to think I had no worth. That is why I got an eating disorder and was trying to kill myself. I thought I got over all that long ago and that (praise God!), God healed me. Yet, sometimes, I forget how God sees me. I forget that He sees me as having real value to Him. I forget that I am loved more than how people treat me. I forget that I am not what happens to me, but I am what God says about me. I forget that I am not all alone; Christ lives in me.

Jesus died for me, because He loves me. He paid the price for me, because I am worth it to Him. I am not a nothing now; I am a daughter. I am chosen. I am wanted. I am His possession. This means something.

If everyone else in the world doesn’t want me, but God does, I am still wanted. If everyone else forgets me, but He remembers, I am adored by Him. Jesus adored me enough to die for me.

It feels awkward to receive love so lavish like this, doesn’t it? It feels hard to let Him validate our worth, right? For me, it almost feels selfish or self-indulgent, but this is how I base my identity on Christ, rather than being needy on the world.
God loves me. He loves you.

We only pay a great price — for things we absolutely love.

“Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me in the shadow of Your wings.” (Ps. 17:8)

We are ” a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession…” (1 Pet. 2:9)

Prayer: God, thank you that when we know our worth in You, the worth other people ascribe to us doesn’t matter. Help us to know how you see us. Let us understand the lengths, widths, depths and heights of your love. Let us know how seen, wanted and kept we really are. We adore you. We thank you for paying that hefty and costly price for us. W are Yours now. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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When You Want To Fix Things

As a mom, it is so easy to keep a mental tally of what the family needs. My son needs new shin guards after practice today. My daughter needs the light turned off on the remote and not on the wall at the end of the night. My husband needs a good dinner.

I anticipate needs and I help.

How might you, like me, anticipate needs? How might you step in to help people when they are down? How might you do for others what they need help doing? How might you emotionally cover others when they are down? How might you step in to save people?

I have tended to think, some of me – added to what others need – makes for a good result. But lately, Christ has been reminding me, Jesus needs none of me, to release the goodness of all of Him.

I cannot help Jesus save me, or others. Only Jesus is Savior.

I cannot add to what He is doing. Only when I move my flesh out of His Way, will He move.

I am unwise to step in between a family member and what God is doing. I am unwise to fix and give advice. I am unwise to stop the process of growth that happens through struggle. This is often pride.

“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

When I move into Savior position, I may not even realize that I have a savior-complex. When I get a savior-complex I fix what God alone can work out. When I let my emotions move me more than my trust in God’s ever-working saving power, I get confused, frustrated and upset at people who are trying to work things out with God.

Where are we stepping in when God may be calling us to step out – and pray? Where are we moving by a need to be wanted or valued more than by the Holy Spirit? And, how might we be halting the move of God wanting to move in the lives of those we love.

We are not saviors; there is only One Savior. Let’s turn to Him. He will take care of us. He is the Ultimate Defender and the Best Protector! He has all we need – and all they need too!

Prayer: Father, I confess today my own need for you. Sometimes, I get scared and want to take things into my own hands. I confess I can even use religious words or techniques to accomplish what you want to do. Help me to make room for you in my life and in the lives of those I love. Help me not to step in, to blurt out, or to move in, before you call me to. I trust you to save. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Giving is Receiving

stir it up

Do you have a thing you get really excited for?

Coffee is my thing! I love a good latte. Add in some vanilla or caramel syrup and my heart is happy. Add whipped cream and my joy-levels go over the moon.

About a week ago, my husband, two kids, and I drove down a long rock road, flying up a whole lot of dust on our car, to reach a café tucked back in the woods. I knew soon I’d have that first sip. But, when we got to the cash register, an issue popped up: we didn’t bring enough cash. After my kids’ treats, my husband’s coffee and my latte, we were .50 cents short. Something would have to go…

“I’ll skip my latte.” I told the cashier.

I turned, walked away, completely okay with the loss and sat down.

“(Love) does not insist on its own way,” (1 Cor. 13:5 ESV).

At the same time, I watched my husband mouth something to the cashier. I knew what he was up to! He was giving up his coffee so I could have my latte! My heart jumped at his desire to love me. I felt so cared for. God was providing for me after all.

We all sat down with our treats and I relished in my sugary drink. Yum. Two seconds later, the waitress came over and placed something down in front of my husband, Emanuel. “You get one too – for free!”

Wow! God blessed my husband.

What we lay down for another, God will always pick up and handle. It may not always come in a financial blessing or an immediate gift, but we cannot lay something down without Father God seeing, knowing and taking care of us – as we lay down ourselves, as a drink offering in His hands.

I love how God encouraged us all in this way. We laid down our right, and then God picked up our fight, even for something as seemingly meaningless as our coffee.

He loves us that much. He loves you that much.

What might God be calling you to lay down – so He can pick it up?

Prayer: Father, sometimes it is so hard to lay down to you, especially when we want to cling and hold on to what is known. Help us to lay down our lives knowing that you will pick up our cause, fight for us and protect us. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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Known for Love

It wasn’t what my Nana did; it was how she made me feel.

As the oldest of six kids, I was a like a second mom at home. I took care of my siblings constantly. I handled things, especially keeping everyone in check.

Nana would come and get me, though. She’d rescue me away, picking me up in her long white Cadillac. Along the way to her white country house, she’d pull into a rock drive, straight into my favorite place, Little George’s! It was a small convenience store marked by a huge pig out front!

“Pick out any candy you want, Kelly! It doesn’t matter how big it is,” she’d say.

Nana was like this, always giving (taking me shopping, getting me crabs at her house, finding the best corn for us to eat). Always showing up (making a point to get me). Always wanting to be with me (playing cards, making me clean her house – ha!, giving me ice cream).

Nana certainly was super generous, but — I will tell you — it wasn’t what she gave me that blessed me so much. It was how she made me feel. She was consistently patient, thoughtful and welcoming. She was that way with everyone.

Nana is gone now, but I still want to be like her. She never said a bad word about anyone. I tried to talk ill about her friend, who herself, was “a griper”. Nana stopped me. Ironically, that same day, fire ants went flaming up my leg at the lady’s house. It seemed to remind me that. . . mean words do bite!

Nana didn’t talk love, she showed it.

“Love is patient, love is kind.” (1 Cor. 13:4)

I want to be patient and kind in a world that is rushed and panicked. I want to be love, rather than constantly talking about it to my kids. I want to be kind even when things with my husband get tense.

I want people to know me more by how I make them feel, than by the Christianese I profess with my mouth. I’m not sure I’m there yet.

May they know us by our love. Jesus didn’t talk about love 24/7; He IS love. What if we were to love in such a way, people felt it in the fabric of their being?

Prayer: God, only you can help us love more. Help us to experience your love, to show love. Help us to walk in your grace, to release grace. Help us to live by you, to love by you and to walk away from mean words. We don’t want to just be professors of your word, we want to be possessors of it and releasors of it.

You say, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (Jo. 15:4)

Help us remain in you, for then the fruit of love will come easy!

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Can I Trust You?

There are people I do not share my hard times with. Of course, I share these times with you all! I love opening up to you (plus, you all listen so well). Thank you for being amazing. Thank you for all the prayers you’ve prayed over the years. I pray for you too.

But, like I said, there are people I don’t share with. Why?

The people I don’t share hard stories and deep emotions with, tend to:
– turn the story back around to themselves, ignoring my heart issue.
– put down what I have shared, telling me, “That’s not a big deal.”
– immediately go to advice-giving.
– spread my story to other people.
– judge me when I am talking.
– not empathize or show any compassion.

Unfortunately, because I repeatedly give unsafe people the benefit of the doubt — I’ve gotten hurt, repeatedly. After a lot of hurt, one must learn. Wise people use discernment in what they share and with whom they share it with.

Have you been hurt by people’s responses too?

“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” (Mt. 7:6)

I forgive people, for they know not what they do — and, usually, they are really trying their best. I take responsibility. I cannot continually go to a well that  does not have living water flowing from it.

At the same time, it makes me think — how do I respond to people?
– Am I quick to listen and slow to speak?
– Do I reserve judgment?
– Do I stay calm and patient in the process of their sharing?

I can’t say it is always great (especially with my kids). I too, need help in the “truly-listening” department.

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” (Ja. 1:19)

A few words can make a huge impact. It is not the wisdom that I carry; it is the heart that God wants us to bring.

What if I were to listen from the heart? What if we were to be the safe people? How might God use us?

Prayer: God, help me! Help me to be quick to listen and slow to speak. Help me to ditch anger, for love. Father? I also forgive those who have dissed me when I was sharing. I let them off the hook. Give me wisdom in whom to share with and whom not to. I love you, always and forever. You are my King! You are Lord! You are my everything. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Get up and walk!

The other morning, I felt led of the Lord to read John 5, so I did. But, what I didn’t know was that within 48 hours, I too, would be unable to walk…

What I read:

“When Jesus saw him (the lame man, at the pool of Bethesda) and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?”

“I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.”

Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!” (John 5:6-8)

A couple days later…I couldn’t walk. I lay on my bed, immobile. The irony wasn’t lost on me.

Let me tell you what happened, from the beginning…

Three pairs of my pants ripped (one of which, ripped: Straight. Down. The. Back.).

This was a sign; I needed to work out. So, I hightailed my growing backside to a gym. At the gym, they told me I should “try a handstand against the wall”. I was hesitant, but I didn’t want to look dumb in front of the group. Needless to say, I tried, but I couldn’t execute it. While going up a wall, my legs fell down, straight down and my big toe hit the ground with all my body-force. Oww!

As a result, on Mothers’ Day, I sat, stuck on my bed, leg iced and lifted. The next day I still couldn’t move. My family waited on me hand-and-foot.

Then, I started up on the internet (a big no-no), which convinced me that I would be immobile for months, if not struggling for years. My mind was spinning. It could be this… It could be that… What if this… What if that…

I continued to lay on my bed; I can’t move.
I tried to hobble on crutches; I am not going to be able to do anything for a long, long time.
I searched more online; I’ll be inside permanently.

My mind settled into the idea – I was crippled.

I wonder, like me, might you also feel crippled? Are there categories of life, in which you have settled into a crippled-thinking? Maybe a habit is crippling you? Or a job? A future? A personality flaw? Where do you feel stuck on a mat, more than able to get up and walk to Jesus? Where have you started to think there is no way forward?

For me?

All this internet searching, made me mostly forget about Jesus.

But, soon, I remembered Jesus’ words – the words I read a couple days before, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk.”

Yes! This is it, I realized. I am not an immobile victim; I am someone Jesus wants to help. If He carried the cross, certainly He can carry my cross and me to some sort of victory, even if in my mind.

Something rose up in me. Authority came. I said to myself, “I’m not going to sit around here sulking! I am going to the doctor!”

I got up off my mat using crutches, thanks to Jesus, and headed in.

There, I found out, my foot was not broken and with shoes – I could walk again, even right now!!

Get up off your mat, and walk!

My friend, you have authority.
Jesus can help you walk again.
Jesus can help you do anything.

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:13)

Where is a victim mindset keeping you on a self-inflicted mat of defeat? Healing comes to a mind that says, “In this way (in the way God is leading me), with Christ’s strength, I can get up. I will get up. I am going to get up.”

It doesn’t have to look like a huge thing or a huge healing. Just make a move towards Jesus, in faith and see Him move.

There is always hope! Jesus has conquered the world and HE can help us conquer any painful situation we are confronted with, even when the worst pain is in our mind.

Keep the faith – and walk how He’s leading you to walk! He is faithful.

Prayer: Father, we praise your Holy Name. We thank you for your Son, Jesus. Oh, He is amazing. He is miracle-working. He is the One and Only. We ask you to forgive us of our victim mindsets that don’t believe and that keep us stuck. You are able to do anything. Come and meet us, come encounter us, come confront us in any areas where you see us on a mat. Come and help us walk. We want to walk again! Help us up. Some of us may have been stuck on a mat for a long time. I ask for an extra measure of grace for all of us to get up in the ways you want us to. And, Father? I thank you for helping me. Do it again, Father. Do it again, for all my friends and family on this blog. You can do it! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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If He’s Calling you to Wait, Wait.

The football coach proclaimed something like, “You’re out!! You just won’t wait in the pocket, like I want you to!”

The quarterback was afraid of getting hit, so rather than obeying the coach’s command to stay back, he moved out from behind the line to throw or to run, even though the coach’s clear command was — stay put.

The quarterback didn’t want a huge linebacker to pummel him, so he kept fearing and disobeying — by moving out — rather than trusting and waiting to throw the touchdown pass.

Likewise, many of us are afraid of waiting on the Lord. Many times, we fear that in our wait, we will: miss out on something; get hurt by our inaction; miss an opportunity; or be proven a fool. So, we don’t trust God and we move.

Have you ever been there? Maybe God is nudging your heart to wait on Him before applying to new jobs? To sit with Him before speaking out to your spouse? To keep in prayer before putting your house on the market? To rest in Him before moving your mouth?

How are you afraid of getting hit?

In this quarterback’s situation, in the movie, American Underdog, the coach set him up — to repeatedly get hit. Why? So he could learn to courageously wait and overcome.

Bam. I can do this.
Bam. I’m still alive.
Bam. After being hit 20 times, I now know I can take a hit or two.

Friends, I don’t know if you are at all like me, but I’ve been hit a time or two, too. I can’t say that God caused these hits, but I can certainly say my disobedience did. Hits were things like arguments, discouragement, defeat, or bad outcomes. Each hit hurt, but also, each hit taught me: it is a better strategy to trust the Lord than to move out on my time in my way.

“Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act…” (Ps. 37:7)

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.” (Is. 55:8)

Better is it to stay with God, to wait in His presence, than to go my own way.

Prayer: Father God, if you are calling me to wait, please give me the perseverance and endurance to do so. Please give me strength in the wait. May I feel your nearness and your presence. May I gain a greater understanding of knowing and loving you. May I rest in the fact that you fight for me while I am still. May I trust you more and more, even when I don’t understand or can’t figure out what you are doing. Truly, you are weaving a tapestry of the greatest story ever. Help me to trust your plan. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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