Focus on what looks disgusting, deplorable and delinquent of any merit.
What is it in your life?
Perhaps it is a car, you hate.
A child you’ve grown angry at.
Another’s bad habits that annoy.
A person who deeply hurt you.
Shoes that you’re tired of wearing.
A wait that should be long over.
A health that has left you in ruins.
Feelings that always seem to lead you astray.
A spouse who continually leaves you hurt.
When you stop to see the dirt for what it is, you start to see the life could emerge from under it.
It is there, you just can’t see it. There is more; you’re eyes just focus on the filth. Yet, under it is the wealth of the new thing that God wants you to see.
After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. Jo. 13:5
Jesus got on his knees, emerged into the filth, moved along from man-to-man, hands commingling in the water of disgust and offered the ultimate act of love to those least deserving.
Jesus washed the feet of rejection, Judas.
Jesus washed the feet of denial, Peter.
Jesus washed the feet of abandoners.
(as they fled from the scene of Jesus’ crucifixion), the disciples (Mt. 26:56). Jesus washed the feet of you and me when the blood of Christ spilled over our grime.
Sacrificing, he allowed the nails in.
Enduring, he listened to the jabs.
Giving up, he trusted his Father’s will.
Humbling himself, he gave up his own very life.
Loving, he forgave even in his own worst hour of pain.
Jesus never allowed rejection and abandonment to
block his water of lavish love
that makes hearts sparkle out of the darkness of impossible.
Whose feet do you need to wash?
Perhaps what you see as crud, has been allowed by God above,
because you are just the one to bring God’s love.
Love to yourself. Love to your conditions. Love towards God who has allowed it. Love to that person who feels like a pet peeve. Love to children. Love to aging parents. Love to your heart that fails. Love to that person you can’t forgive.
Love, displaying itself in the most humble form.
Wash the feet. Forget the offense – and know God is on defense. Let go of the pride – and see the other side. Remember Christ cleansed of you – so you can wash with a heart of ministry too. Watch and see what will come – knowing it is God’s will being done. Trust by faith in uncertainty – so you can get down on bended knee. Watch the mountain move – knowing you have nothing to prove.
Let go and let Christ do the work, and he will. He will wash through your hands, love through your eyes, lead through your will, speak through your mouth, guide through your feet, listen to your prayers and hand back cleanliness, in those moments when you yourself fail.
He will empower you so that you can move into the stink, the stench and the repugnant to do what you never expect: hold it close with the heart to repair what is broken.
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Mt. 19:26
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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
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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:
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.
Sometimes, I look at my family and think, “I want to give you so much more. I want to love you more. I want to be there for you more.”
I have this longing, but then the action seems far from me. I grew up believing that you just work harder, you try harder and you push harder to do the right thing. You simply give your best effort and then God will love you, then you might be good enough, then you might make it through those pearly gates of glory.
But, striving only ends up producing in an overworked blown-out child.
Striving gives us the false belief salvation is on our shoulders and not God’s.
Striving pushes the need for love far and the will of self first and foremost.
Amidst all this striving, it is almost impossible to let the love of Christ’s sacrifice pour over you? Just think, there is no sitting with working. No relying with striving. No space for grace. It is called captive service.
You serve and do and be for God–or you don’t get in!
This makes me think, where is the love?
Even more, no matter how amazing our parents were, no matter how fantastic their love – the plain ‘ole fashioned truth is that they can never love us like Jesus did. They have flaws. And because of their inadequacies and flaws, we learn an inadequately flawed love too. We walk receiving, knowing and giving partial love.
So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child,
God has made you also an heir. Gal 4:7
Even God gets this point. This is why he tells us we are not a slave: a captive striver, an excessive worker, a ruled-over peon, an owned tool or a beaten serf. No. God tells us rather, that we sit in the full glory of who he is.
We are fully loved by the only one who created the definition of love. We are God’s child.
We get the glorious inheritance that is only stored away for God’s own. We are heirs.
We have the same love line as Christ running through us. His DNA is power. We are God’s child.
We are secure in what our father wants to bestow on us; our laziness can’t push it away. We are heirs.
We are new creations, being reformed into the full image of Jesus Christ. We are God’s child.
Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ,
if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. Ro. 8:17
May your sufferings not be seen as agony,
but as gifts that confirm your destiny.
May your pain not be run away from,
but held as the ticket that shows how loved you are.
May your agony not be lived in agony,
for it is simply a precursor to the glory that will shine on you.
Because your whole self is sealed in a way that can never be torn apart. The Spirit lives in you. You can never eliminate his presence or the temple in you, as a child of God.
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit” Eph 1:13
The Spirit confirms your belonging.
The Spirit speaks to your very heart.
The Spirit leads you in all truth.
The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Ro. 8:16
No matter what turn we make, as a child of God, we are united with the Spirit that confirms our Father’s love. It holds us in all love, safety and significance. This eternal kingdom, belonging to “the children”, cannot be undone. Or erased. It is finished, on our behalf, by Jesus Christ.
Now, we can walk love. We can be love. Real love. Not from a place of doing, but simply from a place of being. Being a son or daughter of the most high king.
It hits me with a sledgehammer a lot. Normally, it concentrates it’s whacks in one place. For me, it is in my mothering. So often, I ask myself: Am I fun enough? Caring enough? Playful enough? Instructional enough? I walk around trying my hardest, while, all at the same time, feeling at my neediest, my guiltiest.
Just the other day, my 4-year old son looked at me and said, “Mommy, I love daddy a little bit more than you.”
HUH? After all I do for you! (then the tsunami rushed over me sweeping away all value I have as a mother).
Do you, son?
Yes, but not a ton, just a little bit more.
May I ask you why?
Well, you look a little strange, mom. I mean, your body is more odd than mine. If you were like daddy and me, then I would love you the same.
And there you have it. While I was walking around defeated, hunched over and breathless at the thought of piles and mounds and landfills of failing, my son was just being a 4-year old in his 4-year old world. He was simply saying, it’s not you mommy, it’s just a phase.
How often do we look at things that have nothing to do with us
and immediately feelings of guilt?
In a way, we load up all the bad things about ourselves into a huge offering of inadequacy and put it before the feet of Jesus and say, “I stink. What are you going to do about it?”
Certainly we don’t want to do the opposite and act like this: “This is the way of an adulterous woman: She eats and wipes her mouth, and says, ‘I have done no wrong.’” Prov. 30:20
One unable to see their wrongs is one
unable to allow Jesus to make them right.
Yet, we have no need for this: When anyone is unfaithful to the LORD by sinning unintentionally in regard to any of the LORD’s holy things, they are to bring to the LORD as a penalty a ram from the flock, one without defect…It is a guilt offering. Lev. 5:15
Sacrificing our own animal instincts, unloved emotions and bad feelings upon an altar of guilt is not a standard that God upholds anymore.
So, why do we keep doing it?
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Cor. 5:21
The one without defect is not found in our self.
The one without defect is not admonished of guilts
through a continuous offering of side effects.
The one without defect never has been and never will be us.
The one without defect is the one sledgehammered to a cross to abolish us from the painful rendering of guilt-laced feelings so long ago.
If we feel unsure. His blood says, “Do your best and trust me with the rest.”
If we reside in shame, his blood says, “Don’t hang out with lowly feelings, let me clean you through my healing.”
If we sin, his blood says, “Confess and know that I have covered that.”
What cause to celebrate! What need to rejoice! What once noosed us has no rope. What held us back is no longer the starting gate we can’t leap out of. What cripples us is let go in the free grace of Jesus’ love.
A love that says, “Live free. I will take you to where you need to go, trust me in the process. I don’t demand no flaws, just full trust.”
As I look at my Savior, I see full acceptance. And I see that what grips me so often is gripping his life out of me.
Do you live by the pulse of your feelings
or do you live by the pulse of God’s great heart beating only for you?
Lord, may our conscience align with your truth. Not the truth of our feelings, but only truth as only outlined by your Word. May we live full of the fact that you are not demanding perfection, but are aware of our imperfection until the day that you make it complete in Christ Jesus. More and more we are growing into you. Until then, we have all we need to live complete. Give us a fresh outpouring of your grace, so that we can know it and live it. Amen.
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Love sees a wrong and rights it.
Love walks into a heart to open it.
Love loves when it doesn’t feel like it.
Love climbs over tall walls that stand before it.
Love crushes the obstacles surrounding it.
Love sets down swords to bring bouquets of flowers. Love beats out pain over time,
to touch the most callous heart.
Love doesn’t count the cost.
Love doesn’t add up the damages.
Love doesn’t dwell in the days of old, but sees to the dreams of new.
Love doesn’t lose its pumping arms of endurance.
Love doesn’t move away from always-there, glimmer-of-light hope.
Love doesn’t part from passionate perseverance.
Love doesn’t see eye-constricting anger, but ever-flowing grace.
Love doesn’t forgive once, but 1000 times.
Love doesn’t always feel happy, but finds smiles through prayer. Love doesn’t always have answers, but seeks God’s solutions.
Love lets the definers and originators
of the word make it come alive.
When our arms fall down and our back falls back,
Father God, the Son and the Holy Spirit step up.
They teach us the real meaning of the word.
Then we see how love wins even when it feels like it is losing.
Love isn’t easy and Jesus proves that to us.
Love sometimes mean being seemingly nailed and beaten by those we love. Love still remains.
It still works out. Love knows the alternative to love is hate and hate is the quick funnel to all pain, agony and despair. So love continues on…
Love never fails.
Love seeks truth.
Love fights for itself.
Love continues to die to self, and live to Christ.
Love brings life. Love wins in the end.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Cor. 13:4-8
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
There is one small shiny nugget that will make all the difference in your faith walk if you truly dig down and find it.
Not in a cliched,
I have known this forever,
of course it’s truth,
I say I believe it…kind of way.
But in a real, I seizing it, I am rushing to it, I will never depart from it or let go of it – kind of way.
Moving this foundational truth from background noise to real and present truth, changes it all. Moving it from head to heart will transform your faith.
You’ll more easily move from claimed by the past to claimed by God. From owned by people’s words to owned by the owner of it all. From feeling guilty forever to feeling exalted forever.
The small nugget is: knowing, not just thinking, God loves you.
So many times, I have lost my way without this deep-down heart-felt belief (usually when trials hit me 100-mi/min). Yet, when every morsel of my being, and every part in my heart feels unsure, unsteady and unable, I am starting to tap into God’s unbelievable strength. It stands waiting to become my fall back position, resuscitating my life – if only I give it that chance.
Is God’s real and valid love your fall back position?
Does it catch you from landing in pits of fear, anxiety and depression?
Does it fly you high to new levels of peace and security?
As we fall into this iron clad truth, the lies explode, and combust.
Lies can’t exist amidst the full power of peace.
Knowing this, I want to seek God’s love like a gold rush. I want to go after it. It is that valuable. I need it. I almost can’t live without it; I certainly can’t live joyfully.
May we rush after God’s love as much as we rush after plans to fix and change the things that ail us. Perhaps, then we will find the greater gift.
As we park ourselves in God’s heart of love – as we sit down in it –
we rest under the safe-covering of his hand.
When the burdens of life smother, sit down in his love.
When the feelings of I can’t come at you a mile a minute, sit down in his love.
When the weight of finances crush like a 100-pound gorilla, sit down in his love.
Love that says:
I engraved your name on my hand. Is. 49:16
I know how many hairs are on your head. Mt. 10:30
I love you in an everlasting way. Jer. 31:3
You sinned, I eagerly died for you. Ro. 5:8
I sent my own kid to rescue you. 1 Jo. 4:10
You may fall, but you can’t fall from me. Ro. 8:39
His love is best summarized as this: freeing handcuffs that lock you as forever his, not because of what you did, but because of what he did.
His love can’t be undone. Not when you remember back, not when you feel like you left God, not when you said that thing, not when you did that thing, not when you accept him at the last minute, not when you feel shame, not when regrets hit you, not when problems surface.
It always is. It always is – for you.
God wants you to have it. Nothing can thwart it. It belongs to you.
Life can’t hold you back from it. Trials can’t keep you from it. God defines it. Yet, He waits for you to receive it.
Keep in God’s love.
Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Jude 1:21
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I am wrecked by this one idea. It throws me off every time. It surprises me in its truth. I almost can’t accept it and so many times have difficulty doing so. It’s the one thing that rains down and can never be blocked with the umbrella of self.
When I spew that nasty comeback. Its rain flows.
When I yell at that innocent face of the 4-year old before me. Its rain flows.
When I bark orders like a militant leader in need of children followers. Its rain flows.
When I let the house problems send my soul into a tizzy. Its rain flows.
No matter how hard I try to look the other way. It flows. It pounds.
It downpours on my soul, knocking my umbrella of self-condemnation and mutilation away. This rain wrecks my heart in the wild oceans of love, in the turbulent seas of Christ’s sacrifice and calms it by God’s rushing still water of his forgiveness.
to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. Eph 1:6
Even when I slap God’s hand, it is still given.
Grace is not just given, but unlike normal dealings, it comes with no strings attached, no paybacks, no debts owed and no loan shark trying to chase me down for what it appears I stole.
What sweet relief Jesus! Without you, Jesus, I couldn’t, I wouldn’t…
I am simply wrecked by the idea that you are not wrecking me.
I am floored by the idea that you are not pressing me to the floor.
I am humbled by your humility in your approach towards me.
Who am I to get your best?
Best of all, I don’t even have to try to win your smiles, hugs and applause. Without my lame attempts, war plans and business objectives, it is still effective!
1. Moves us from orphanhood to sonship.
It’s not earned through trial and error, but through believing and receiving his grace. No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are. Acts 15:11
2. Makes a construction zone out of our heart.
The more grace showers down and seeps inside the more we look up and are changed inside. Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up… Acts 20:32
3. Has benefits that never end.
It is the only free gift that keeps on giving, again and again and again – and forevermore. Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. Acts 20:32
4. Gives us VIP access to God.
The door swings open so we may converse, confide and collaborate with the author and perfecter of faith. through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. Romans 5:2
5. Sets warring hearts at complete peace with God. we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. Romans 5:1-2
Grace is not a trying zone, but a high-flying zone for people that are anything but ship-wrecked.
They are just wrecked by the word of grace and God’s power to never stop loving, working, pleading, helping, shielding and revealing on our behalf.
Grace moves to friend status, instead of foe.
And, for that, in the unending downpour of rain we will forever dance – free, uncharged and unobstructed.
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Without Jesus I’d be like a car accident with no repair shop,
a mental-case of self-doubt,
a walking shot of vodka times twenty.
Without Jesus in me,
I would travel from place to place
as a leech seeking my next feel-good prey.
That would be me.
You know what the crazy part is? I’ve realized it’s ok if I still leech. Jesus doesn’t mind how much I leech on to him.
I can grasp on, pull out everything that IS him and still get every ounce of what I desperately need. I pull in all of his goodness to breathe out all of it wherever I go.
Jesus practically says leech off of me
and I will give you all-surpassing peace.
You will keep in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Is. 26:3
I never thought it should work that way. But, it does. It really does.
He is the rescuer, the ambulance, the paramedic who now runs to my rescue. Not from the physical issues that most likely would have plagued me, but, to the deep emotional hurts. He doesn’t even bandage them – but simply touches them with his gentle hands to bloom what once was bruised.
I don’t need much else besides him. He is the all-inclusive package to life.
I can seek him until I am blue in the face, and still uncover greater sustenance.
He’s better than the straight shot of alcohol because his intoxication heads directly into my heart.
He works in me, through me and for me.
to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Col. 1:27
Now I have hope. What once looked like a world full of hurt, crud yet-to-come and accidents waiting to happen, now looks like a world of hope-at-bay, peace-at-work and joy-yet-to-come.
It’s a mystery, but once you have Jesus in you – it all becomes clear as day.
You don’t have to worry about today, because God holds tomorrow.
You don’t have to fret about lost dreams, because God works beyond our visual screens.
You don’t have to be anxious, because God is working through the piles of trash that seem all around you.
You don’t have to feel alone, because God’s presence is greater than the blue sky that covers.
You simply rest in him, knowing he is working. That is Christ in you.
A person cheating and swindling? Compassion for their needy heart. Christ in you.
An obnoxious customer service call? Grace to the one who gets rejected all day long. Christ in you.
Another call at church to give more money? An outpouring of money to those in need. Christ in you.
Things you could never comprehend pouring out,
were always poured out by Jesus. Christ in you.
I am realizing that the only requirement is a desire to keep blockages of his glory far, far away. To keep those things that trip you up distanced. That’s it. It’s not even so much that I have to do the hard labor, Christ in me, handles that for me, I just have to be willing to bring it to him.
To acknowledge it – you know, the opposite of deny it.
Then we can see his radiant glory shining out and when it shines it changes everything you look at. Christ in us. The power is staggering.
It’s addictive. More of you Jesus, let me leech onto you.
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If you come to me and ask for prayer, these are the words I will have for you: All things are possible. God is a healer. Hold tight to your faith. Just believe.
I will carry your request to God, believing He can do anything. And that He will.
It’s easy enough to pray for my friends. I don’t even hesitate.
But for me?
Sometimes the only words that will come are ugly, insidious whispers:
You are not enough. You don’t deserve what you want. You haven’t been faithful enough. You haven’t trusted Him enough. He’s not going to come through for you, so don’t get your hopes up.
It’s a form of self-flagellation at its worst. Beating myself up and living in the assurance that because of all of my failures, God, too, will fail. Or, at the very least, will fail to act.
It’s a cruel torture that leaves a mark as surely as a whip would do.
A few months ago, I found a lump in my breast. Instead of a regular mammogram, they scheduled me for a high-res, diagnostic ultrasound. I had to wait longer to get in. And I knew, I just knew, that the best thing I could hope for would be an assurance that “it’s probably nothing, but we need to do a biopsy.” I figured I’d have to schedule a procedure or two. And wait. And wait a little more.
Instead of leaning on God, I snapped at my husband. Criticized everything in sight. And tried and tried to pray, but all I could manage was, “Dear Lord,” before I’d stop.
Stumped. Afraid. Before I’d dwell on the fact that Mom died of cancer. That my dad had cancer. That my sister’s best friend died from breast cancer. That one in eight women will get it. And that there’s no reason in the world why that should not be me.
As I sat in that waiting room, with the little pink shirt-gown on, while my technician prepared the machine, I couldn’t focus.
I finally cried.
And I was so afraid.
Too afraid to really pray.
So I tried to block out all of my thoughts with a simple melody. The melody to Hallelujah (You Never Let Go), sung by Jeremy Camp came into my mind, and I thought-sang-prayed, You are with me, Hallelujah. You are with me, Hallelujah…
And I let those words push away my fears.
I let them drown out the what-ifs and oh-nos.
It’s so easy to forget God is with us. That He. Is. Right. There. With. Us.
No matter what we feel. No matter where we go. So I just kept repeating that chorus. Until I believed it.
Felt it. Rested in it.
After the ultrasound, the radiologist assured me that there is nothing there. It’s normal fibrous breast tissue. No cyst, no tumor. Nothing. I’m fine. I could have sighed with relief and moved on, like we often do, forgetting about it now that I’m past the scary part.
But the situation got me thinking.
I believe with all my heart in the power of prayer (so much so that I wrote a book about it). And if I still have my moments of doubt, if I still think that maybe God will come through for everyone else but not listen to me, then many of you probably feel that way, too.
What if, just for today, we let ourselves pray as though God is everything we want Him to be?
Everything that we think He is or should be?
What if we prayed full of belief?
What if we stopped torturing ourselves for our failings?
What if God shows up?
What if this is the moment when everything will change?
What if I can summon as much faith for myself as I can summon for you?
What miracles do you suppose we’d see?
Let’s find out.
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Kelly O’Dell Stanley is a graphic designer, writer, and author of the new book, Praying Upside
Down, which releases May 1. With more than two decades of experience in advertising, three kids ranging
from 21 to 14, and a husband of 24 years, she’s learned to look at life in unconventional ways—sometimes
even upside down. Full of doubt and full of faith, she constantly seeks new ways to see what’s happening
all around her. Subscribe to her blog (www.prayingupsidedown.com) to download her free ebook, Praying
in Full Color, along with this month’s prayer prompt calendar to jump-start your prayer life.
Purchase links: Amazon Barnes & Noble *Also available at christianbooks.com, Lifeway, Books-a-Million, Parable, and others
“I don’t want you to do that. You better not go there.” “I walked down a path and I saw the bad things that resulted.” “You may get hurt.” “I will have to carry your load.”
When we speak fear, we speak death into another person’s joy. We speak the emotions of worst case scenarios into what could be another’s best. We rain on another’s parade.
I don’t want to be that kind of person.
The kind of person that sees a child with a new balloon – and who then sucks the life right out of it.
I can try to justify it in love:
I don’t want them to be hurt.
I am saving us future pain.
They should know the truth.
But speaking fear is just criticism wrapped with a thin bow of “care”. The “care” bow doesn’t last, but often it’s the underlying words of fear that endure.
Are you raining on a parade?
Are you letting fear dictate your words to another?
To a spouse?
I am guilty. I look at my 3-year old son, carrying big bucket of water and a huge smile, only to say, “Don’t spill that. I really don’t want to clean that up.”
While I know this is a small example, and it won’t ruin his life forever, it still conveys the point. What if, instead, I was to say, “Wow! That looks like fun. You are up to something cool. I want to be a part of that! Let’s take it outside.”
Instead of stealing joy, I am building into it.
I know, so often, I run so fast to fear…
Fear that ruins.
Fear that cripples.
Fear that overshadows emotions.
Fear stands for:
Fun Ends And you’re left… Rejected
What’s the other alternative? Love.
Love stands for:
Letting Obstacles Vanish and Enduring Faith Win
Love doesn’t see issues, but sees hope.
Love doesn’t see threats, but sees opportunity.
Love doesn’t see differences, but common pain.
Love doesn’t see the words “you can’t”, but encourages through the words “you can.”
Love doesn’t see the potential downfall, but a chance for greater faith to be forged.
Love doesn’t run to save, but trusts Jesus to.
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