Purposeful Faith

Category - Jesus

5 Transformational Tips: Make God’s Word Come Alive

Come Alive

Another day.
Another bible reading.

Skimming. I’ve read it before.
Half listening. I know what to expect.
Not discovering. I know the punchline.

Does the bible ever fall flat because you have flattened out
and read its pages so many times?

 

Does your mind have a hard time idling on God’s Word,
because the world speeds too fast around it?

 

I can’t seem to keep my heart in the place where the heart of God is – and that is the problem.

This problem, if not addressed, will, before long – stamp and deliver my heart to destinations I never intended to arrive at.  Frustrationville or Aggravationmount or some place like that. It could just as easily bring me to Jealoustown or Pridebury. Either way, they are places that reek of self and shame and guilt. Their roads are rocky and tumultuous. Every time, they leave me with a stomach turning knots over itself.

I’d rather not.

So, how do you dive into God’s Word, like a fresh glass of lemonade on a hot day? How do you dive into it, knowing that you have had it one hundred and one times, but still, wanting and needing it? Craving and desiring it? Thirsting and salivating over it?

5 ways to make the Word of God come alive:

1. Let your senses sense what the sentiment was.

Imagine being the lead role in the story. See yourself there. Sense your sin and the idea that you or your family has done something terribly wrong. Feel the judgement of the Pharisees upon you. Wonder if God really can and will heal you. Let your heart beat.

After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam”. Jo. 9:6

2. Take your part in the redemption story.

Hear the words of Jesus leave his mouth. Feel the mud in your hand. Experience vision. Look amazed at what surrounds you. Set your eyes on Jesus.

Then, see yourself run to the masses to share the glory of the only one who could heal in this way. Take a snapshot of the story with your senses. Know that while this was his story, it is also your story.

He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” Jo. 9:25

3.  Ask yourself, “What about this experience is calling me to think, do or say differently?”

When you take a moment to think of all God has done, you can’t help but think of all he wants to do. His will makes your will jump up and down just at the thought of serving him.

The (once blind) man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will.”  Jo. 9: 30-31

4.  Believe: He loves you, just as much as he loved them.

Just because you feel less than, doesn’t mean that God sees you that way. Believing that you are worthy of his gifts, love and encouragement, will allow your heart to receive them. Rather than keeping up defenses to his Word, you will lay them down and He will enter in.

The Once- Blind Man: “Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind.” Jo. 9:32

5. Avoid boxing God in (and you might just find your way out of your box).

When you believe in you heart, what Jesus did through Scriptures, you’ll find in your mind you can conceive the great things he wants to do through your life.

It sounds simple, but simple belief is so often what it comes down to.

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. Jo. 14:12

When you approach God’s Word in this way, you realize you hold living water that is not bitter, old or common. Instead, you taste the fruit of what God has done and is about to do. It fills, it satiates and it refreshes. Like lemonade on a parched day – it’s a drink you can’t wait to indulge in, lap up and embrace word by word. It is peace and replenishment all in one.

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Whose Reflection Do You See?

reflection

Post by: Christy Mobley

A few weeks ago, after a long morning at the hospital with my mom and sister, I came home to take a shower, wash my hair and get my second wind.

As I picked up the blow dryer I stared into the mirror. For one split second the reflection I saw was that of my mother. It was weird. I squeezed my eyes shut and opened them again and then shook the event off as simple exhaustion. Turning back to the mirror I pulled up a strand of hair  and proceeded to go off on a ridiculous tirade about frizz and gray and such. And that’s when it me.

Oh my gosh, I look like my mother and sound like my sister!

I. AM. THEM.

Freaky!

Was I caught up in some twisted episode of the Twilight Zone?

Click here to read more and to #RaRalinkup on Christy’s blog…

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I almost died (3 Times): Life and Death Ponderings

Life and Death

I almost died once, actually not even once, three times to be specific. After nearly dying that often, it gets someone thinking…

After having a gas tank nearly explode on you, you inhale and start thinking, life is fragile.

After almost having a tree land directly on you, you look up and start thinking there’s a reason God hasn’t taken you yet.

After doing vehicular twirls on an interstate, you start thinking God has some things prepared by offering another hour on earth.

Not to be deathly morbid,
but aren’t we all just a hair away from dying? 

We are either dead or alive. Can’t be both.

And with all this death talk, it gets me contemplating the difference:

Death is numbing yourself.
It’s blinding self.
Hiding self.
Minimizing self.
Maximizing self.
Rationalizing self.
Guarding self.
Proving self.
Making things all about self.
Overexerting self.
Indulging self.
Starving self.
Admiring self.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Ro. 6:23

Life and Death

But death never represents real life.

Present life is like:
Stripping ones self,
Or removing the sandpaper edges that rub people raw,
Or the fragmented wood planks that stick out of hardened eyes,
Or softening the 20-inch layers of callous that keep love buried.

We don’t nearly equate these kinds of things with life. Because sometimes life breaks us, shreds us and leaves us in torn strips.

Yet, to be stripped is to become equipped with new life.

Life and Death

As the scales fall, new and supple skin emerges.  It is pure, soft, pliable and empowered with complete nourishment to hike the trail headed to the far sunset of God’s predestined calling.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do. Eph. 2:10

It is called abundant life.
Not abundant health.
No abundant wealth.
Not abundant shoes.
Not abundant amusement.
Not abundant pleasure.
Not abundant power.
Not abundant smarts.
Not abundant gratification.

Abundant life, means you go through the fire of removing self
to find the Spirit
who remakes you in the wake of big waves,
big prayers
and big callings.

It means you fall away from self to land softly in Christ’s open arms.

It means you retreat from your instant inclinations to find retreat in God’s quiet persuasions.

It means you find acceptance in Christ instead of annoyance at self in the face of big errors.

It means you walk untouchable as you proceed to heaven – as a bride, undefined, reserved, whole, sealed and renewed.

It means you know you have more than enough, even if, by the worlds standards you have hardly enough.

It’s life. It’s vision.  It’s truth.  It’s Hope. It’s discovery and recovery, learning and becoming, traveling and sitting all the same.

It’s more than you ever dreamed of, but all the same, exactly what you never imagined. It is pain, but it is always gain. It is joy, but earned through pain. Real pain. Loud pain. Crying pain. Nailed pain. Tortured pain. Ridiculed pain. Cross-ridden, Christ endured pain that signifies our safe return. A return that proves all will one day be okay, even if the worst does happen.

Because death is really life.

Life and Death

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The Sneaky and Subtle Sin That May Be Ruling You

Sneaky and Subtle Sin

This sneaky sin. . . let me just tell you something. It’s under the radar, it’s pulling the covers over your eyes and it’s having a field day in your life – and, likely, you don’t even realize it.

For many of you, you actually think it helps you. You actually think you are better off, smarter, more capable and resourceful for pulling this little trick out of your bag of hats.

Do you know what I am talking about yet? (Clue: it is man’s greatest downfall)

Here’s how it looks in my life:

It makes me a super-speed, crazed, mess cleaner.
It transforms me into a female Dyson; I develop routes and measures to ensure every crevice is “handled.”
It levies the weight of the world on my shoulder and tells me, “You can handle it.”
It shuns advice, instruction and wisdom.
It tells people you better get on my highway, turn left and then arrive on time, or else.
It pushes me towards ambition and drive, without concern for the little guys.
It places one hand over God’s mouth, so I can speak just a little big louder than him.
It passes along the unsaid message, “Stay back God, I’ve got this.”

When I consider why I do it, much of it boils down to this:

If I am not controlling the world, it seems the world is controlling me.
If I don’t use my ammo, I become the target.
If I am just standing there, I risk getting run over.

Add that to the fact that the world hands out a bunch of cliched garbage (like this), and you can see how one can start acting like a maniacal lunatic:

“If you don’t make a way, you’ll have no way.”
“Fend for yourself.”
“Eat or be eaten.”
“Get ahead.”
“Get a leg up.”
“Work harder.”
“Reach for the stars.”
“Figure it out.”
“Watch your back.”
“Don’t give up.”

Self-sufficiency, otherwise known as pride, is gangrene to a body of Christ. It takes his blood, oxygen and flow and blocks it in a way where his mighty providence is dead. We flow by our own accord, our own merits and our own will. So, naturally, our limbs of love, of reliance and of hope, they die. They wither away. For, we have no need for them. We don’t use them. You see, we exchanged God’s sufficiency, for our self-sufficiency and then, we lose.

If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. Jo. 15:6

Limbless, lifeless and loveless we stand, duped. We stand as tall temples of places where hope is not required, where need is useless and where one bows down only to self. The incense of stink rises and fills the air near those around us.

What we can produce by self,
is nothing in comparison to light scent of love
that is always ours to inhale.

It is not a mantra, a self-help phrase or a lift-me-up status that says, “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.” -A.A. Milne from Winnie the Pooh

It’s nothing like this. Because that kind of statement is a lie – it is poo from Pooh. The truth is, we are worse off than we think we are. We are weaker than we admit and we are a whole lot less wise than we walk around pretending to be.

Even more, we are wasteful without his purpose and lacking without his cause. Apart from Christ we can do nothing (Jo. 15:5).

But, here is the thing: with him, we can do everything.  

I can do all things through Christ[a] who strengthens me. Phil. 4:13

When we get to the end of self, we get to the start of life. It is an exchange.

We hand over our ways.
He gives us his.
In the empty, he fills.
In the wanting, he restores. 
In the empty, he sits.
In the cant’s, he can.
The dreams, he makes.
For the low, he lifts.
The unseen, he sees.
The marginal, he magnifies.
The insecure, he holds.
The offering, he transforms.

“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” Mt. 16:24-25

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7 Reasons Why God Is Allowing Your Trial

Allowing Your Trial

Life is good.
Life is great.
Life is manageable.

Until it breaks down at it’s core and the serial killer of joy, (aka your trial) comes back to haunt you again.

Ever noticed that what hit you yesterday,
still threatens to come after you today?

Same vein, different day, but all the same pain. 

It threatens to hurt you like it did.
It threatens to arrive when you least expect.
It threatens you with the same feelings of yesterday.
It threatens you into fearing like you once did.
It threatens to pop right out of your bushes, saying “Now is the time to hit!”

Then you hear the smallest rustle of the bushes makes you think, “I am doomed.”
A resemblance to his tactics of yesterday make you cower, “I can’t.”
The scars of past cut deep, making you say, “Why me?”

Why does God allow our beaten evil to return?

Why doesn’t he annihilate them and say, “You can never touch my child again”?

Paul said, Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 2 Cor. 12:7

7 Likely Reasons Why God is Allowing your Trial

1. To keep you humble.

Pride goes before the fall (Prov. 16:8). If Paul had fallen, Christianity would not have risen. If Christianity did not rise, it easily could have meant our demise.

2. To keep you in training.

Olympic runners aren’t built without sprinting through walls, forging through exhaustion and getting up again when they want to quit. It is in the pain that we find our greatest spiritual gains – to become more and more like Christ.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. Ja. 1:2-3

3. To gift you with the grace of God.

It often takes the face of crisis to see the smile of God’s grace over you. It is here you learn to stop saying things like, “I oughta”, “Why can’t I?” and “I should have”. Instead a quiet and gentle prodding arises within; it is one that begins to know “with God, all is possible”, “no weapon forged against me shall prosper” and “I am a work in progress and I will get there”.

4.  To make you start thinking spiritually, not carnally.

When you have nothing left, you start to see all that is left – and all that matters – God.  Sometimes the stripping, is much more about clothing you with Spirit things than it is about hurting your earthly things and body.

Strip yourselves of your former nature.… And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude]. Eph. 4:22-23 (AMP)

5. To show you growth.

When you hit bad, you can start to see the forming of your good. Meaning, you see how less anxious you are, how less worried you feel and how much more you know God will take care of you.  It becomes a cause for praise.

6. To change things in your unseen.

We forget that while we are living our song, God is conducting a blaring orchestra with moving instruments around us. All rise up to sing, “Glory to God on the highest and peace to his people on earth”! Our sound may play odd, but in the grand scheme of his leading, all things are working together just as he wants them to. Things are being accomplished. People are being reached. Lives are changing. We just don’t know what he knows.

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

7. To develop you into eternal gold, not rotting dollar bills.

When delivered, what emerges from the rot of a once selfish body? Praise. Glory. Honor. Things that are worthy, valuable and eternal.

These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Pet. 1:7

God uses what is coming to get you, not to ruin you, but to make you.

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Rapid-Fire Encouragement: What Bloggers Have to Say

What Bloggers Have to Say

Micah Maddox
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Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105

I love the picture presented here of a path. It’s not a room filled with light or the light as bright as the noonday. It’s just enough light for the path ahead. God’s Word is the source of light.

You may have your own dark cloud that looms directly overhead causing everything to seem dull and difficult to see. Darkness comes in many forms. For me it can be ignited by circumstances beyond my control, fear of the future and discouragement that quickly turns into depression. You may not have a cloud of fear and feelings like me, but your darkness may manifest itself in the form of shattered dreams, prayers yet to be answered or circumstances that make you wonder if God has completely forgotten about you.

As I think about my dark clouds and the light I know I need and desperately desire, God is drawing me near. When I allow His light to brighten my path, my thoughts are transformed and I remember the familiar essence of His light.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. James 1:17

Read more blog posts from Micah…. 

 

Gene Kiepura
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I had been a Christian for seventeen years at the time my fourteen-year-old son Jacob and five others were killed while on a missionary trip in Mexico.

Over the next eight years I demanded an explanation.  I wanted to trust God again. They say trust is earned, could God re-earn my trust? Is that a fair question to ask? It eventually occurred to me that there’d be no one better to trust than the One who died for me—no one had invested more.

I decided to return to the place I first met God, I opened my bible and let Him reason with me through His Word. I found that pride was standing in the way of my healing.  The only way out of this bitter downward spiral would be to admit that God was blameless and release the resentment held against Him. It was after humbly laying my broken heart at His feet that God revealed Himself in a way that healed my broken spirit.  I finally was able to form these words, “Lord, this isn’t the life I would have chosen, but I’ll receive it. Please teach me from it.”

I found God again. He had been waiting there at the core of all my pain. I discovered something else—pain and joy could coexist within me. I could experience the sting of Jake’s death yet at the very same time feel the joy of the Lord without having to pretend I was OK with what happened. You see, I’m not OK with it; I’m not going to be OK with it. I loved Jacob and losing him hurt. The truth is there’s no explanation for his death this side of heaven that will ever satisfy me.  Jacob is irreplaceable in my life—but so is Jesus Christ and I couldn’t afford to lose them both.

Read more blog posts from Gene...

Dana Hoebeke
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I used to pride myself on the lists I could make and accomplish.

If I didn’t finish the whole list, no one saw the list, even the things I’d done. I’d sulk and be surly to my family, which was an expression of how I felt worthless inside.

God’s Word says the following about me, oh and by the way…I can do nothing to earn it! I am the apple of His eye, I am a Saint, I am redeemed and forgiven (Hallelujah!), I am free from condemnation, I am established, anointed and sealed by God, and most of all I am complete in Christ!

What broke me free from worthlessness, list making, and achievement-based love was confession and then choosing to believe God.

I have made a reference of scriptures identifying who I am as a new creation in Christ. I try to read them every day to ingrain into my heart so I have a new go-to thought for when Satan tries to tempt me to think the old thoughts.

God is God and the list is not!

Read more blog posts from Dana

 

Anna Smit

When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul. Psalm 94: 19

How might the pain, hurt and fear I’ve experienced since a little child be worked into something good?

As a child, I started trusting the actions and words of brokenness above the actions and words of God in my life. Idolizing the love and acceptance of humans exacerbated the fear within me. And with anxiety multiplying within me, the inherent fear that I would never be good enough, I lent into my own prideful self-control to numb it away. I sought to deny the existence of the fear by striving to perform, to be the best possible student, lover, wife, mother and friend.

Fleeing from fear gave me a semblance of control, but also festered an anger and exhaustion within me because no matter how hard I tried, I could never live up to the perfection I strived after. And so the fear would rear its ugly head repeatedly and I’d turn to anger to stifle it, anger at myself boiling within me and compounding the exhaustion from my attempts at perfection.

If you grasp and cling to life on your terms, you’ll lose it, but if you let that life go, you’ll get life on God’s terms. Luke 17: 33 (The Message)

I am choosing to trust that just as His Word promises He WILL go before me (Deuteronomy 31:8), preparing the path (Isaiah 43) and working ALL things together for my good (Romans 8: 28).

Read more blog posts from Anna

Mandy Ralph
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He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
or decide by what he hears with his ears;
but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. Isaiah 11:3-4

Do we imagine Jesus sees through the same judgmental lens we do?

He doesn’t. He couldn’t.

Jesus looks past our outward self. Past our lazy or selfish actions. He doesn’t hear the harsh words we spoke in fear and anger. He doesn’t seek out the dirty windows of our situation, glorying in the smears of our circumstances.

Jesus’ eyes look upon us in love, His ears hear the cries of our heart because he isn’t fooled by outward appearances.

He’s not fooled by my surface niceness that overlies a judgmental heart. He’s not fooled by the outward actions that hide a broken heart.

Jesus sees and hears our inward selves. There is no hiding or pretence around him.

What a gift.

Read more blog posts from Mandy Ralph…

Bethany McIlrath
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Have you had to make a choice that you knew was right but that you thought you would regret? I have. Over and over again.

Recently, I turned down a job offer. For a position I’ve prayed for for years. With enough hours to bolster our bank account. Every bit of knowledge I have dictated that I ought to find a way to make t work, that this was the opportunity I’d been waiting for. The Lord told me no. When I said yes to Him and no to the offer, I thought I would regret it soon.

Romans 8:27-28 tells us that “He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” (MSG)

God erases regret because regret is about my way –and when that slate is clean…

He makes beautiful works of art that are better than anything I could ever dream.

Today I’m glad I turned down that job. I’m so glad we didn’t get the cat then with all the housing turmoil we later unexpectedly experienced (and the dog we were able to get eventually instead!)

I’m glad that money has kept us at times from making decisions to do things more “typically” because we’ve had some amazing relationships out of it. I’m glad for some of my worst moments because without some of the mistakes and brokenness I’ve regretted, I would never have let people into my heart as far as I have.

Read more blog posts from Bethany McIlrath…

Lisa Murray, LMFT
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We must be pruned.

Each of us gets a bit overgrown at times. We settle into our habits, our routines. We relax into the momentary mundane. It happens. God knows that in order for us to continually be growing and maturing, He needs to prune away the dead, unfruitful leaves and limbs.

He needs to carefully trim the excess, the residue that weighs us down and prevents us from growing, from becoming, from thriving.

Pruning isn’t a punishment. Pruning is an act of love. God loves you. He celebrates you. He longs for you to experience the fullness of your identity. He delights in His handiwork. He declares you beautiful. Whole. Complete.

In John 15:2 (NIV) Scripture says, He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.

James 1:2-4 (NIV) tells us to, Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Read more blog posts from Lisa…

Niki Hardy
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“You are my rock and salvation, my fortress and strength…”

I continued to repeat my mish mash verse. In the chemo chair, waiting for lab results, watching my kids giggle, receiving a meal from a friend, fighting nausea, popping pills.

“You are my rock and salvation, my fortress and strength” Ps 62:1-2

Little by little the fears started to loosen their grip and trusting the Lord seemed easier. I found that when we allow God into our pain, He loves to sit with us, hold us, rub our backs and remind us who we are.

At my weakest, when the emotional and physical pain dragged me into the slimy pit, clambering onto God’ rock was impossible unless I clung to God’s promises.

Repeating God’s promises defeats the enemy, sparks hope in our bellies and throws fuel on the fire of faith. With that flicker of hope fanning the flames of faith we are able to trust God with anything. And I mean ANYTHING.

Because when you’re diagnosed with rectal cancer the bottom falls out of your world and then, I’m afraid to say that, the world falls out of your bottom. Laughter and God’s promises really are the best medicine.

Read more blog posts from Niki…

Crystal  Hall
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Have you ever faced an identity crisis?

The problem is that when we lose our job, when relationships end, when our home goes under foreclosure, when the money we take home dwindles and when our past haunts our future – we begin to question ourselves.

We feel like damaged goods, valueless.
We feel insecure and vulnerable.

However, when we base our worth on who God says we are, everything around us can shake, yet we’re able to stand firm. With an identity in Christ, we’re able to tear down strongholds and strip away labels.

It’s not who you are but whose you are.
It’s not what you did but what He did.

Who were are derives from who God says we are, not society.
The Bible says we are, “fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm, 139:14)
The Bible says we are, “chosen, holy and blameless before God.” (Ephesians 1:4)
The Bible says we are, “an incredible work of art.” (Ephesians 2:10)

When we grab hold of truth, we no longer face an identity crisis. Instead, we’ll see an identity breakthrough.

Read more blog posts from Crystal…

Patricia Holbrook
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When Jesus found the disciples failing in their nightlong fishing trip, He could have told them to take up their nets and follow Him to a new, bountiful area of the sea.

They moved their nets, only seven feet across the width of the boat, and cast it on the other side. And as their weary hands obeyed the Master, the bounty came forth.

Do you feel discouraged today, my friend?

Is it the same boat, the same spot, the same fishing technique, over and over again for months, perhaps years?

Remember: If you are in the center of God’s will, walking in obedience with Him, you are where God wants you to be. The circumstances you are in may be uncomfortable, and you may be ready to move on to a better fishing spot. However, unless the Master calls you to move from where you are… Remain…

He is working a fruit eternal in your life. He is molding you as you cast your net over and over again. He is strengthening you as you choose to trust Him, even though you are tired and weary.

And when you feel too tired to go on, remember this: It is the Master Himself, who, after your toilsome, disheartening failures, keeps calling out to you:

“Try again!”

Read more blog posts from Patricia…

Julie Lefebure
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Last year, I stopped the madness.

I took time to rest.

And let me tell you, it was the most beautiful Christmas season I can remember in a long time.

God provides for His own. It is pointless to get up early, work hard, and go to bed late anxiously laboring for food to eat; for God provides for those He loves, even while they are sleeping. Psalm 127:2 Voice

I gave up my belief that taking time to rest was being lazy. I thought I’d see if what others said was true… that I would still be able to get everything done in time–and probably more–if I took time to rest.

I can’t sit here and say it was easy, because it wasn’t. I battled my entrenched habits and pretenses. But, the desire for God to have His way in me was greater than the desire to strive for the perfect holiday, and end up being sick again.

The Eternal, the Everlasting God, The Creator of the whole world, never gets tired or weary. His wisdom is beyond understanding. God strengthens the weary and gives vitality to those worn down by age and care. Young people will get tired; strapping young men will stumble and fall. But those who trust in the Eternal One will regain their strength. They will soar on wings as eagles. They will run—never winded, never weary. They will walk—never tired,never faint. Isaiah 40:28-31 Voice

We may think we don’t have time to rest, but truly, we can’t afford not to.

Read more blog posts from Julie…

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Shooting Back Fear (Response to San Bernardino)

Shooting Back Fear

San Bernardino.
17 dead.
14 injured.
Me…
Questioning.
Wondering.
Asking..

How everything around me moved from the safety of
white-picket fences and neighborhood playgrounds
to a territory where the wild things are?

What will happen to me?
Is this world going to eat me alive?
Will my kids be okay?
Will I be punished for my beliefs?
Stripped of my goods?
Hurt?

Today, we seem to live in risky territory. Raw territory. Hunt and be hunted territory. Even a head in the sand can’t hide this fact. It can’t take away the feeling that we don’t know what to do or, really, how to even prepare.

Fuzziness ingrains fearfulness.
Panic invokes more panic.
Rage makes us rage.

Then the unknown makes us certain our demise will become known.
The potential of “anything” swirls like a reality-bomb ready to explode.
The people against us become big and the people with us – become little.

Even when we tell ourselves “we are getting extreme again” and try to check ourselves in to a better mindset, we still don’t do well, for our mind comes undone, yet again, at the next catastrophic world blow-up.

We return to square one at this point, asking God, “Why do you allow this stuff?”

His answer looks something like this: “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Tim. 3:12)

God doesn’t hide the truth from those who want to hide their head under the blanket of this-all-can’t-really-be-happening. And, maybe, just maybe this is the point.

It is what it is. And God is who he is.
And fear is profitable when channeled properly.

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling… (Phil. 2:12)

When I start to fear my big God, that stands over all world problems – I find peace. I find hope. I find resolve.

Hope that looks like:

He will save us
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
 He will cover us with his feathers,
    and under his wings we will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be our shield and rampart.
 You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday. (Ps. 91:3-6)

Open your eyes and turn from darkness to light, from the dominion of Satan to God, makes way for forgiveness of sins and a secure inheritance among the sanctified (Acts 28:18).

Protect us, God will. Because he loves, he will rescue. Why? Because we acknowledge his name. We will call on him and he will answer. He will be with us in trouble. He will deliver us as we honor him. As we satisfy him all of our days, he will show his salvation to us (Ps 91:14-16).

Eternal glory in Christ Jesus will be ours, after we have suffered a little while, for he will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Pet. 5:10

Hope that leads to RESOLVE. RESOLVE to believe. RESOLVE to stand, no matter what. RESOLVE with fear. But, RESOLVE, nonetheless. Not in a fake way, not in a shallow way, not in a comfortable way, but in a I-can-only-do-it-with-you way. In a you-won’t-abandon-me-way. In a if-I-stay-in-your-truth-you-have-me-covered-way.

RESOLVE.

Reaching to a God who saves.
Expecting him to fulfill his promises.
Searching for his teaching amidst the terror.
Obedient to his steady promises above wavering feelings.
Leading our mind to his dwelling not the dwelling of the agonizing, torturing and demoralizing.
Vindicating and convicting, left to him.
Entering the holy dwelling place of the Spirit to reside with the comforter, the leader, the teacher and speaker of all truth.

Resolve in the name of Jesus. Resolve in the name of true belief. Solid gold, unbendable, unbreakable and untorchable belief. Believe that he is protector. Believe he is mightier. Believe he is more powerful.

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Some Things Are Meant For Unfolding

Unfolding God's Word light

Post By: Angela Parlin

We’ve been working on folding shirts a new way, in my two younger kids’ rooms, because the old way, Mom’s way, was not working.

Our new fold is really a cross between rolling and folding. Instead of stacking shirts flat, we place them in their drawers almost upright. The kids are able to see which shirt they’re pulling out before they move anything around, and so the rest of the drawer stays neat. I like neat. 🙂

Our littlest is five, a great age for being a helper. This new fold is something he does well, and he’s excited because he does it all by himself. He often says, “You HAVE TO come see this, Mom! My shirts are so good!”

I gasp and tell him, “I’ve never seen anything so neat (especially in this room)!” And he nods his head, proudly.

We get a little excited around here about new systems for keeping things neat and tidy and well-managed. But there are some things which were never meant to be kept in a drawer, out of the way, folded up tight, and managed.

Psalm 119:30 says, The unfolding of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.

I wonder, what is this unfolding, and how often do we approach God’s Word this way?

Do you come to this ancient book, ready to unfold the words and let them unfold upon you?

Do you sit long enough to allow layer upon layer to open before your eyes,
lighting the path of your life? Lighting the way to life?

I love to study God’s Word, yet I’m convicted. Sometimes I allow myself to get swept up in the busyness of life, much of that busyness my own making. Then I approach God’s Word as a super-quick fill-up. I know I need it to get through the days, but I don’t always spend the time.

I don’t always approach the Word the way I’d approach a person I love.

I come rushed, asking for what I need, and please, God, drop it on me fast, because I also need to be out the door in a minute.

I hope you don’t hear any condemnation here. I believe God honors any minute we give Him, just as He honors the hours. But sometimes I see a pattern in me, and I wonder if you see the same.

Sometimes I forget this book is a treasure waiting to be unfolded, waiting to give us light.

His Word is alive and divides me in two. It lifts my eyes beyond everything I can see. It lifts my eyes to heaven. It grows my love for Jesus, for others, and even my love for me–as His work of art, His chosen, His beloved, His sister.

Do you unfold His words, and let them unfold upon you?

To unfold means to open. That’s a pretty straightforward starting place. We open His Word and let His words enter into our hearts.

To unfold is also to reveal, which is something the Lord does for us. He unfolds His words upon us, reminding us of truth or revealing truth in a new way.

Finally, to unfold is to interpret or expound, which takes time and the effort to dig in.

God’s Word is a treasure, and any effort we spend unfolding it, manifests in our lives as light and understanding and wisdom.

Lord, Your Word is perfect, and it refreshes our souls. Your Word is trustworthy, making us wise. Your Word is right, giving joy to our hearts. Your Word is radiant, giving light to our eyes. Your Word is righteous and pure. It is firm and endures forever. Your words are more precious than gold. Help us to treasure them, to treasure You. In the Name of Jesus, Amen. {adapted from Psalm 19}

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Angela Parlin

 

 

 

 

 

 

Angela Parlin is Dan’s wife and “Mom” to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com, Eyes on Jesus.  

 

Speed Blogging: A Quick Injection of Encouragement

7 Bloggers. 7 Heart-Inspiring Mini-Posts. 7 New Bloggers to Check Out.

Join me today as I welcome mini-guest posts on my blog. We can’t read everything online, so I hope to provide a quick rundown of some great words being written. Check them out!

Rosie Jensing
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Stepping into an environment that is bigger than what we know and are familiar with, forces us to expand our knowledge and stretch our thoughts.

As uncomfortable as it is to step beyond the place of familiarity, true growth can only take place when we reach the end of our abilities and enter into the beginning of God’s.  For me, this is the place where I rely on Him to show up in order to be successful.  It is the place where my heart flutters in uncertainty of what lies ahead.  It is the place where the shoe is a little big for me, but I chose to wear it anyway and trust that God will help me grow into it.

Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.  Joshua 1:9  Read More.

Susan B. Mead
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Where do I look, Lord?
How do I do this, Lord?
Who do I to turn to for help, Lord?

I need you, Lord, to guide me through this puzzle called life.

Holding my hand
So I can take the next step

Feeding and filling me with Your Word
So I can share it with others

Loving me – missing pieces and all
So I can love others in spite of their “missing pieces”

They were puzzled, wondering what to make of this. Then, out of nowhere it seemed, two men, light cascading over them, stood there. The women were awestruck and bowed down in worship. The men said, “Why are you looking for the Living One in a cemetery? He is not here, but raised up. Remember how he told you when you were still back in Galilee that he had to be handed over to sinners, be killed on a cross, and in three days rise up?” Then they remembered Jesus’ words. Luke 24:4-8 (The Message)

And

The chief of the Temple police and the high priests were puzzled. “What’s going on here anyway?” Acts 5:24 (The Message)

Even Jesus’ disciples, the Temple police and the high priests were puzzled…  Read more…

Alyssa Howard
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A funny thing happened when I finally let go of my reputation – God intervened. First of all, I learned that God cares about how others perceive those who are His. He will always defend His children because He understands our pain. Jesus knows all too well what it’s like to have a reputation destroy you. He was perfect and without sin, yet He was laughed at and mocked to the point of death.

He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. – Isaiah 53:3 (NLT)

Secondly, God taught me what it means to seek Him first in all things… including my reputation. When we hold on to things and choose to use our own strength to defend ourselves, we aren’t allowing God and His strength to take over. God wanted to renew my reputation, but I refused to trust Him with it.

Finally, God taught me… More.

Doris Swift
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I felt like what I did made me who I was, “that pregnant girl.” Then I met Jesus, and the truth set me free.

What we did in the past doesn’t make us who we are; it’s what Jesus did for us that confirms our identity.Jesus had already taken my shame to the cross, it just took me a while to find that out. When Jesus overcame our shame, years of disgrace were replaced by grace.

I shared this story while speaking at a women’s event. After stepping from the stage, countless women couldn’t wait to say “me too.” This is why we need to tell our stories; because we overcome the enemy by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.

When we share how God brings beauty from ashes, our past story becomes part of our grace story.

So goodbye shame, Jesus took you away, and I will gladly step into the light and tell others about it.

Read more.

Anna Seeley
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We need to stop fighting and be still.

I was so focused on trying to run away from my fear that I just made myself busier and busier.  I was afraid to be still because I knew it would overwhelm me. So I tried to fight my own battle by doing everything but sit still and silent in the presence of God.  But it wasn’t my battle to fight.

The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent. Ex. 14:14

We must claim our freedom daily.

Joshua was nervous to carry out all the big things God told him he was to do.  God constantly reminded him that he had no reason to fear! There is no shame in going to God daily, moment by moment for reminders and encouragement.

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. Deut. 31:6

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Josh. 1:9

We are called to freedom for a purpose. God has something already set in motion for you to do!  Don’t let your past, fears, or mistakes hold you back in chains!  Use your freedom to serve Him and others.

Read More. 

Linda Perkins
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When I opened my Bible the other day and ran across this verse: “And the suffering is as much a gift as the trusting.”

Say whaaat??

Clearly, Paul, the writer of Philippians must have been mistaken. How can anyone think of suffering as a gift? Surely, suffering is not God’s will for us, right? Wrong. Maybe suffering is our own fault, and it will go away as soon as we turn back to God. Nope. Oh, OK, then perhaps God only allows us to suffer temporarily, so He can then show His healing power. Well, sometimes yes, sometimes no.

The Bible says that suffering, not just the release from it, is a gift from God.

How in the world could this be true? I dug deeper. What I found was a God who cares deeply about our suffering (Exodus 3:7) and hears our cries for help. And while sometimes He does rescue us, He more often delivers us in our suffering and speaks to us in our affliction (Job 36:15).

His purpose for allowing suffering is not to harm us, but to draw us closer to Him.

Read More. 

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When You’ve Pushed God To the Point of No Return

Point of No Return

By: Angela Nazworth

The busy highway turned into a parking lot. I gripped the steering wheel and willed the cars ahead of me to move. Not one budged. I was going to be very late picking up my daughter from preschool and I worried that she was feeling sad and scared as she waited for me. When I finally arrived at her school, I found her sitting alone at her table. She was wearing her pink coat with a matching hat; her princess themed back pack was resting over her slumped shoulders. When I called out her name, her little head popped up like a gopher emerging from its tunnel.

“Mommy,” she exclaimed!

Reaching out for my embrace, she turned her head slightly toward her teacher and confidently said, “I just knowed my mommy would never leave me.”

Do you hold such confidence in your heavenly Father?

Do you know that He’ll never leave you?

I ask because deep down in my soul, I didn’t always believe this truth. I believed it in part, but not in whole. I believed that God, the creator of the universe, was always present in His creation. I believed that if I were oppressed, victimized, or sick, He would be with me in those dark hours. I also believed that He celebrated each milestone and victory in my life.

What I had trouble believing is that God
would stay by my side during the times I failed.

When people or the stuff of this world hurt me, I found my strength in knowing that I was a child of God and that He would not forsake me. Yet, when I was the promise-breaker, liar and the selfish hoarder, I felt not only shame and sorrow for my actions, I felt alone. That perceived desolation, which was stationed on a lie and wrapped with guilt, often kept me from crying out to my Savior.

I took God’s promises from John 3:16-17 and added  the word “unless.”

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Unless you mess up in a big way.

With the added unless, I completely ignored John 3:17

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

I rewrote the meaning of grace and lived as if it didn’t apply to me. But Grace is without limits. Grace blatantly steps over our human-made boundaries and says I haven’t left you. I will never leave you. Rest in me. Trust me. Live for Me, because I will never let you go.

Scripture does not read, He will never leave you or forsake you unless you take the Lord’s name in vain, or unless you commit adultery, or unless you yell at your kids, or unless covet your neighbor’s house.

Yes, our actions have consequences. No, God does not want us to chose our sinful desires over His perfect gifts. But once we’re His, he won’t leave us. He never longs for us to self destruct. Instead, He hears our cries and invites us into His open arms.

Point of No Return

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?  As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8: 35-38.

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

Angela Nazworth is a flawed and forgiven recovering perfection who writes mostly about the beauty of grace, faith, friendship, vulnerability and community at angelanazworth.com. She is a wife and a mother of two, who manages philanthropic communications for a nonprofit, national healthcare association. Angela’s also an encourager, a lover of good books, coffee, girl’s night out, sunshine, and waterfalls. She believes the creator of the universe is both the author of and lead character in her life story. With every experience she learns more about who she is in Him … and takes another step on her journey to love others better. You can also chat with Angela via Twitter.