My mouth says I want to “run with endurance the race that is set before (me)”, (Heb. 12:1), but my feet often go in the opposite direction.
I get set, and ready to go, until I fall and am ready to cry.
It’s a dichotomy I just can’t beat.
I snap back at my husbandwhen I know a kind word turns away wrath.
I think bad thoughts towards a rude personwhen I need to forgive as I have been forgiven. Col. 3:13
I yell at my children, when God says to bear up under one another in love.
I judge a sister in Christwhen God tells me to first look at the log in my own eye.
I take pride in my workwhen God tells me at the proper time I will be exalted.
1 Pet. 5:6
While my mind says, it’s all for you God, I am running hard and fast for you, my actions say, “it’s still kind of all about me.” I can’t let go. I can’t break through. I can’t succeed with God.”
The pounding of my feet on the sidewalk of God’s mission, start to turn into fists pounding on my heart, saying “Why can’t you just do better?”
Pound. You gotta get it together. Pound. People won’t see Christ in you. Pound. Are you really a Christ follower when you mess up so much? Pound. You are selfish.
And one who is beaten to the ground, can’t be running a good race for Jesus.
One who is pounding themselves, can’t be pounding the ground.
One fallen, can’t be encouraging others.
They can’t “Run in such a way as to get the prize.” (1 Cor. 9:24)
As I investigate my heart, my sin, and my desire, I am coming to see that God understands this roadblock too.
In order to run, run, run, we are instructed to unload, unload, unload: “let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance…” (Heb 12:1)
so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. (Phil 2:6)
Jesus understands the struggle of a heart striving towards him. He doesn’t come to point our our lagger tendencies. He tells us to unload and rise up. To let go, and to move our feet. To say I am sorry, and to speed into his love. To send the failure fits to the sidelines and to move forward in faithful fury.
I’ve noticed, as I can let that go, I no longer feel like a girl running in circles, I no longer feel like the big loser on Olympics day, but instead I start to move forward – in a straight line – gliding into forgiveness, forging into peace, wholeheartedly striding into hope and joyfully pumping into the cheering applause of my loving Savior who roots me on with all that he is.
So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 1 Cor. 9:26
The question is not will I fall, because I will. The question, is – will I unload, confess and believe the promises of God (aka – get back up again), because this is where the race is won. This is where I stop pounding myself for every bad action and start pounding the streets with the message of Jesus Christ crucified and glorified.
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Purposeful Faith has been delighted to have Katy McCown join us as a guest contributor. Her insights have compelled our heart to love God more and more. We wish her only the best as she follows God in the next chapter of her life. Katie, thank you for being you. You glorify God in a powerful way!
“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” Proverbs 31:25 (NLT)
And the hearts of all God’s girls say, Yes, please!
But deep down we wonder, Is this really attainable? Does her newspaper tell the same stories mine tells? No way she considers college costs and laughs.
Before we talk about the laugh we long for, let’s assess our current condition.
How does your sentence end?
She ________ ?
To help you fill in the blank, consider how you might respond in this moment:
You expect your husband (or friend, sister, mom, etc.) to meet you for dinner. You wait 30 minutes and he’s a no-show. What thoughts race through your head while you wait?
He’s hurt. Your heart beats faster and your palms begin to sweat. What route did he take to get here? You check your phone for a missed call from a number you don’t know and consider grabbing your keys to bolt for the car and re-trace the path he would have driven to the restaurant.
He doesn’t care. While you wait you replay all the ways you don’t measure up. Your head drops and a tear may even cloud your eye as you pick yourself apart and tear yourself to shreds. No wonder he’s not here.
He’s not worth it. Your fingers drum the table as your blood pressure rises. You run through the long list of demands still on your plate. How dare he waste my time.
If number one is your instinctive response, your blank may be filled with words like: She worries. She fears. She panics.
If you identify with number two, maybe these words strike a chord: She compares. She doubts.
If option three nails you on the head, then maybe you describe yourself as: She erupts. She controls.
Maybe you’re like me (and Goldilocks) and you’ve tested all three seats, but still haven’t found the one that’s just right. The bad news is that leaves us all scared, sad or sorta mean. But there is good news!
In her book Living So That, Wendy Blight writes,
“Emotionally, our faith is often muddled by fear, hesitancy, and doubt. But our feelings become irrelevant when Jesus is the object of our faith – when He alone is the One in whom we trust.”
Our faith hangs not on the future, but on the One who holds the future.
The woman God paints in Proverbs 31 fears nothing – not because of earthly security or stable emotions, but because of the position and condition of her heart.
She laughs, because she trusts.
“My friends, we are not those who give up hope and so are lost; but we are of the company who live by faith and so are saved.” Hebrews 10:39 (The Voice)
A few days ago all the stars aligned and every, single, one of my six children.
Fell asleep at the exact, same, time during the afternoon.
I tip-toed to my room as fast as tip-toes can carry a tired mama and nestled into the pillows with a smile from one ear to the other. Thank you, God, for the blessing of these few minutes. Thank you, God, for rest. Thank you, God, for
Bzzz … Bzzz … Bzzzzzzzzzz!
Get out! I screamed to the fly as I fanned my hand in circles. I tried to sink back into my tranquil state but to no avail.
Someone left the door open and let a pest in the house.
Bzzz … Bzzz … Bzzzzzzzzzz!
Strategy #1: Ignore it.
Failed. How does one tiny fly know just where to buzz to drive a person millions of times bigger than him CRAZY.
Strategy #2: Avoid it.
Success! Or so I thought. With the help of some spare pillows, I erected a teepee-type structure around my head. And it worked. No more fly. No more buzzing. Back to sweet dreams and silence.
The only problem … I painted myself into a corner. Even the slightest shift of an arm would bring the teepee tumbling down.
Instead of freeing myself from the problem, I trapped myself with a faulty solution.
Is there a pest wreaking havoc in your heart? In your haste to handle the problem, have you set up walls that prevent growth instead of providing protection?
If we want to laugh without fear of the future it’s time to clean house … or heart. Drive out the pests that torment & trap.
If you’ve ever tried to get a fly to do anything you know the dilemma. It reminds me of Shakespeare, “And though she be but little, she is fierce.“
The pests in our hearts put up a fierce fight. Sometimes they outwit. Sometimes they hide or blend into the surroundings. Sometimes they outlast us.
“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 (NLT)
The pest in your heart has a name. The devil pursues you. He waits for the crack in the door. He invades and attacks with relentless force. Something tells me you know this already.
Defeating the devil requires you to do more than ignore or avoid.
“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” Proverbs 4:23
To actively keep my heart, I employ 3 Strategies:
Be Alert! Identify the poison Satan feeds your heart and slam on the brakes (1 Peter 5:8).
Replace lies with Truth! Make every thought obedient to God’s Word (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Choose Faith! Show your belief by what you do (Jame 2:18-24).
So, how would the lady who laughs at the future approach the problem at the restaurant? I bet she prays. She tells God her fears, doubts or anger and begs for His truth to take over. She re-directs her toxic path to one focused on His Words and filled with His promises. And as she chooses to believe Him, she laughs.
“Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” Ephesians 4:23-24 (NLT)
She laughs without fear of the future. Is this attainable?
I have to believe it is and, more than that, anything less is a life not suited for the daughter of the King.
Special thanks to Meagan at Ancient Verse for donating the artwork in the photo at the top of this post.
I left my job as a television news reporter to join my husband, Luke, on our adventure in the National Football League. 10 years, 12 moves, 6 kids, 5 teams, and 4 states later, it’s safe to say the road has been anything but predictable. Our dreams today don’t look quite like they did ten years ago, but I’ve learned along the way dreams do come true … even if you’re not a Disney World. I blog about a football wife’s life at www.katymccown.com and I’d love for you to visit me!
My blog was hit by a brute force hacker who brutely forced fear straight into my heart.
They attempted to hack and whack the message of God.
To halt the images leading the way to the way, the truth and the life.
To hammer my functionality.
To halt images portraying the way, the truth and life.
I panicked. I emailed help like a mad woman. I fretted and feared.
But, nothing can stop the truth of God.
We may fall, sites may fall, finances may fall, buildings may fall, jobs may fall, kids may fall, feelings may fall, but nothing can make our all-powerful Jesus fall from the right hand of God.
Nothing can make us fall from grace. Nothing can make us fall from our eternal standing with Christ Jesus.
We are not falling victims of senseless attacks, but rising sinners headed to heaven.
God has secured our future no matter what attacks come our way.
With God, we rise above attacks.
What the enemy uses to take us down, God uses to raise us up,
to a greater enlightenment,
to a deeper truth,
to a more powerful resolve to push through obstacles.
Nothing can take Jesus down, because he has already risen up!
The devil might attempt to bring us to our knees, but God uses to reinforce our faith to a greater degree.
You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. (Gen. 50:20)
Lately, I have been getting vulnerable – real vulnerable. This attack has showed me that the more we become vulnerable, the more we lay ourselves wide open to attack.
But, God never promised we wouldn’t be persecuted, he promised us we would have eternal rewards when we are.
We are open and ready to receive from God. We raise our arms in surrender, we lift up our heads, we close our eyes, but this is also the perfect position for the enemy to come right in to shove us over. We aren’t looking at him, afterall. It’s hard to see the onslaught coming.
Can you remember a time where you were going head-on right into the heart of Jesus with complete abandon, only to feel the weight of the world come crashing down?
Can you remember feelings of doubt, discouragement and despair throwing you off track?
Vulnerability and surrendered hearts are open to a brute force attack, if we don’t add safety guards.
For my site, it is extra walls of security and additional plug-ins. We need to plug-in too. We need to plug-in to the armor of God “so that (we) can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Eph. 6:11
This means we add a little extra security to our holy temples.
We dress up a bit.
We wear our accessories daily.
We protect our open hearts.
We put on:
1. The “belt of truth buckled around (our) waist.” Eph. 6:14
Just as a belt is the center point of our body, so is the Word of God the center point of our lives. All truth flows and knowledge flows from God’s Word that brings life.
2. The “with the breastplate of righteousness in place” Eph. 6:15
No matter how open your heart is to God, when we act in righteous ways, we wear an armor that protects us from getting hurt. It makes all darts against us bounce off.
3. “Feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” Eph. 6:16
If we are ready and willing, we can’t be stopped. There is resolution in the face of trials. Put on readiness so you may grow and go according to Christ’s purpose.
4. “The shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” Eph. 6:17
When we believe in what we cannot see, the troubles we can see don’t deter us in the moment – we walk with a higher mission.
5. “The helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Eph. 6:17
We can cover our head with the protective helmet of eternal salvation. Our mind can rest secure under it because we have eternal standing that can never be removed.
We wear our armor, but we live/worship/surrender as “wise as a serpent and as innocent as a dove”. Mt. 10:16
This means we worship with hands raised and one eye open.
We share discerning if we may be throwing our valuable pearls to the swine. Mt. 7:6
We pray, knowing that is not by our might, but by God’s that we are protected. Eph. 6:18
Because, otherwise, we are just as vulnerable to an attack as we are to God.
Otherwise, we walk with our heads in the clouds, ready to be hacked right back down to earth.
Let’s get up, wise up and start plugging in to God’s protective armor. We are fighting a greater battle.
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“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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You won’t be able to do that. No one does that. It doesn’t happen that way.
Despite my sure belief and confidence in what God had been working – uncertainty crept in.
Was this person right? Was it impossible? Was I wrong to believe?
Waves of doubt filled my heart. With force, they came to topple down my focus on God, my desire to follow and his great purpose for me. They rippled wider than my head and pushed straight into my anxious heart, with thoughts like:
I am on my own, God has left me! What do I do now?
Why did God give only to take away? I better figure a way to fix this myself.
Should I just take flight and run another way? I can’t do this after all.
Why did I believe? It seems now, I was never cared for to begin with.
Swelling up, under all of these fear-ridden thoughts, was a deep undercurrent that I wasn’t capable, valuable or lovable enough to get good from God.
Yet, as I thought of all that God has done for me, He brought me to on of the most valuable questions that we can ever ask ourselves: Who do I trust? The power of God or the power of man?
It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in humans. Ps. 118:18
Trust means I fully accept
the promises, the assurances, the life,
the resurrection and security of Jesus Christ.
It means I don’t see all I can’t do, it means I just see all he DID do.
It means I don’t see others words, I solely see his words guiding my way.
It means I don’t see an overwhelming future, I just see overwhelming past proof of his love for me.
The tide of God’s love is pulling me into the deep waters of Jesus. It brings me back to the place of trust.
I want to rush into his waters, only to come out drenched with his love and purpose.
3 Ways to Pull Yourself Back Into The Current of Faith
1. Seek to See God and His Surrounding Faithfulness.
I have the opportunity to see God. Truly! I can see his invisible qualities, his eternal power an his divine nature. It is all laid out before me in the creation that surrounds me. The more I look into nature the more I find his peace-giving presence.
The sun proves his consistency.
The thunder proves his power.
The mountains prove his steadfastness towards me.
The sky prove his all-encompassing presence every day.
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Ro. 1:20
2. Dive into the Safe-Dwelling Waters of Jesus.
Like David, as we seek God, dwell on God and pursue his holiness, we start to lay our eyes on the heart of God. The world, voices and messages start to fall away and we start to build a sanctuary of love in our heart. This sanctuary is a temple of God that many are drawn to – it shines God’s glory.
Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the LORD your God. Begin to build the sanctuary of the LORD God, so that you may bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD and the sacred articles belonging to God into the temple that will be built for the Name of the LORD.” 1 Chron. 22:19
3. God brands us with his promises. His promises are marked on us, they never leave our side – and we believe it.
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
As believers, we are sealed in the Lord’s love for us. We are packaged so tightly with his purpose, his seal can never be broken. We are sealed inside of all he has already promised us. Now, we walk believing it.
God is not a man, so He does not lie. He is not human, so He does not change His mind. Has He ever spoken and failed to act? Has He ever promised and not carried it through? (Numbers 23:19)
We are held tightly by the power of:
– a hand that holds ours
– a Father that sees
– abundant forgiveness
– unending mercy
– unrelenting love
– unbelievable grace
– a help in a time of trouble
– eternal life
Trust is built – and kept – as we remember our Creator, his holiness and our sealed status in him. Truth and life already available. Assurance of our faith already exists. The question is – will we choose to believe and seize it? Will we choose to trust God or to trust man?
Because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever. 2 John 1:2
We can overcome doubt with faith in all of God’s abundant promises.
This came as a surprise to me. I certainly didn’t mean to go there – to the place where my voice got a little louder and my eyes watered a little greater – only to end pouring out in an avalanche of tears.
Ever been there?
To that place where you hate going?
The one where you regret visiting after all is said and done?
I don’t like that place. It distracts my heart from the day’s duties, it disrupts my sleep and it usually leaves me guilt-ridden for days.
Yet, there I was – feelings busted open. Wide open. Lying on the floor open.
It felt, this person was crippling my authentic heart towards God.
Negating my pure intentions. Saying I was inadequate. As if, she was not for me.
I took insult.
And, while forgiveness seemed further than Antarctica yesterday, isn’t it amazing how the gift of time can move our hearts rapidly into God’s light? His light where he brings all truth.
His light exposed my aching and rapidly pulsing heart. Here, I was able to identify a resounding theme – She made me feel ____________ about _____________.
If God is God – and, I am not…
If God is God – and they are not…
How can another define who I am?
How could they ever define the intentions of my heart?
They can’t. Only God defines me. Only He knows the inner workings of Kelly. Only He knows the deep intentions and the pulse of my life, which no one else is privy to.
So, why did I absorb all her words as if they were greater than His?
Why did I overreact instead of act with love?
When you hold someone accountable for that which Christ has already given you, you wrongly exalt them above your Maker.
Sure, words, instruction and wisdom are vital to a strong Christian walk. We should receive these things. And, indeed, the body of Christ is surely put in place to build up, but one thing is true – people never hold greater authority than the work of God or the Word of God.
God never gave people make or break status. They don’t have that ability – unless we let them.
Our job is to keep our eyes constantly set on him above, so we can always walk in love.
So doubt doesn’t set in.
So fear doesn’t win.
So, others don’t steal our grin.
Then, God enters in.
For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Mt. 7:2)
When I think of this friend, I realize I can’t hold her accountable. Likely, she didn’t know how badly I strive to be pure, she didn’t know how much I pray to be used, she didn’t know how much power her words held. She likely didn’t know her words would cripple. How could she?
Her only responsibility is her own heart, before her great God – something I am entirely not responsible for.
But, I am responsible to respond to God. To forgive. To see past. To release. To love. To heal. To build into. To encourage. To see past. To bear under.
God calls me here because forgiveness is often about them, just as much as it is about me.
We don’t have to approve what happened,
we just have to approve that God is best equipped to handle it.
We don’t have to feel healed,
we just have to trust he will heal us.
We don’t have to fight,
but simply let God fight on our behalf. (Ex. 14:14)
We don’t have to dwell in misery-mode,
God is calling us to ministry-mode.
This is the call of God. The calling of our heart. The calling to lay down arms, in order to pick up an arm to love, to hug and to wrap around the one before us.
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7)
God sees hearts. Only God.
As we seek God, he reveals our hearts to us. You know what I see when I look deep, deep into my heart? The heart that fought so hard to be right before God? Embarrassingly, I see that nasty word, that mean word, that ugly word – the one we never want to admit or see – PRIDE.
How many of our arguments are based from this place?
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
Forgive me Father. I have sought to look good before man. I have sought to win approval from a sister in Christ. Yet, all that matters is your view of me. You know me and you see me. Forgive me for my anger at not being seen by her, because all that matters is – YOU. Amen.
The Lord changes hearts, with these types of prayer. He replaced my pulsating hot heart with a radiating softened heart of love. When someone hurts you, God will use it as an opportunity to rework you – if only you let him.
Receive one another, then, just as Christ also received you, to God’s glory. Ro. 15:7
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I think to myself: You are not doing that right.
You’re coming off as a know-it-all.
Kids don’t love a mom who acts annoyed.
You always drop the ball with your husband.
You are being too selfish.
You are a continual mess-up.
God won’t bless that.
Condemnation. Like rain, it sure can pour down. Yet, somehow I have grown to think it’s an ordinary part of life. It’s like a fly in the house. Sure, it’s annoying, but I can deal with it. Sometimes, it even becomes familiar. Provided it doesn’t bother too much, we can co-exist.
But I wonder, how much does it hurt me to co-exist with condemnation?
Because when I think of it, I see that self-condemnation left unchecked…
leads to self-loathing and self-loathing left unchecked…
leads to self-inadequacy and self-inadequacy left unchecked leads to…
a fear-filled turned-in spirit that doesn’t turn-out towards God or others in faith.
Condemnation may not injure our current actions, but it sure impacts our future ones. It may not hold us back from dreams, hope and a future in the present, but it’s lasting effects do bite.
And yes, friends, I do know that God says, “There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus,” but sometimes I just don’t consider that in the moment – the moment when the thoughts move in as fast as a freight train.
Mostly, in that moment, I am just trying to get by, to live the hand of cards dealt – even when they leave me flushed with thoughts of how much I lack, what I can’t do and where I can’t go.
Sure, I hate those cards, but at the same time I am used to them. That doesn’t make them right though.
Yet, as I stare intently at those cards, wanting something more, my eye starts to focus on the King, the King who wears the crown. The King who is high. The King who can change the game.
I remember his love, I see his royalty and I admire his crown. I see something. I grab hold of something…
I realize the King’s love has already condemned condemnation.
Thinking of it in this way, allows me to grab hold of this truth.
His love is what changed – and changes – the game. And it is what changes my thoughts.
Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. Prov. 4:25
If I can keep my eyes fixed on what is love – Jesus – my thoughts will follow him. He will lead my mind in truth. The King will teach me the right way to go.
The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart. Lu. 6:45
I know Jesus calls me towards obedience. I can’t help but think of this verse: take “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ?” 2 Cor. 10:5
I want to be obedient.
Next time, that hand is dealt and that fly buzzes, I am going to ask myself 3 questions:
1. How does Jesus see you in this moment?
2. Is this thought rooted from a place of Christ’s love?
3. Could I imagine Jesus speaking these words to me?
Perhaps, then, I can discard the things that trump his love and grab hold of the ultimate King of hearts. Perhaps then bad hands won’t be a precursor to bad actions. My eyes will be set on the King.
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I’ve got something kind of embarrassing to say, something I kind of hate to admit, but I am sharing it today in hopes that God’s truth helps me overcome this annoying habit.
Here goes: I can’t stop making everything about me.
How that person responded – is about me.
My ministry work – is about me.
Someone getting chosen above me – is about me.
My husband’s response – is about me.
My children’s behavior – is about me.
The response of another – is about me.
Can you see where this is going?
Somehow everything centers around – me, myself and I. And even when I say it doesn’t, I lie.
I don’t want to do this, but it is almost like I can’t help myself. We live in a “selfie” world.
We take pictures of ourselves in the moment and all we can think about is how we performed, how we looked and what kind of response we will get. It is almost as if our worth is dependent on “likes”. It is almost like others “comments” are vitally important in our missions.
So, I wonder, how do I really die to self instead of pretending all that matters is myself?
God says: Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. (Mt. 23:25)
I certainly don’t want to be that dirty Pharisee, but my cup is just the same – dirty on the inside and shiny on the outside. I lure others over with my outer beauty, until they come closer to see what I have inside. Truly, no one wants to be filled by a cup that only pours out black, dirty and tainted water. There is no living water there. Dirty unclean vessels can’t love as Christ would – nor live as he would.
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; (Phil. 2:3)
How do I get over myself to dive into God’s will?
Because I am tired of swinging on the pendulum of righteousness – either I swing too far to the left and am completely inadequate and selfish or I swing too far to the right and am completely over-righteous and prideful.
Back and forth I go.
Have you ever felt this way? When we ride this swing, we can never seem to rest in the peace of the Lord. We are always striving to be more, to do more and to give more. Both a guilty shame-filled heart and an overzealous righteous heart both have roots in the “me first” mentality.
When one falls down, the other side lifts higher. Back and forth they go.
Yet, the middle place on the pendulum, the still place, is the place of love, grace, mercy; it is a restful place.
God calls us here.
So, how do we come to this resting place of stillness, shamelessness and surrender? The place where we are neither self-centered or self-inflated, but simply self-less?
Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity… (2 Tim. 1:8-9)
Note: – The power of God saved us. – The power of God called us. – The power of God leads us in our holy calling. – The power of God works not through our works but through his. – The power of God works as he purposes. – The power of God bestows grace over grace.
This is the power we walk in. Anything more or anything less than God’s power is just the endless movement of a pendulum that keeps heading in the wrong direction.
It is solely by the power of Christ that we do anything. When we work through his power, his power at work within us makes us selfless, humble and full of grace.
It reminds me of the lyrics of “Turn your Eyes Upon Jesus”:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.
We fade, Christ brightens.
We become selfless, he becomes radiant.
He shines, we take the back burner.
Not by the power of our own might, but only by the power of the great God we have in sight.
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The look in his eyes, says it all – he is worried and scared about the perceived “real enemy” on TV.
Fear and worry fills his face, but, my son seems to know that having mommy next to him makes all the difference.
He knows that with the presence of a parent, he is safer. That the TV is not real and that his mommy is. That nothing can come against when is mommy is there.
I love both his faith in me and his desire to draw near to me in this moment.
But, I wonder am I this way when I come face-to-face with worries?
Do I choose to sit with the enemy and dwell on his tactics or do I choose to sit with my Father and dwell on his goodness?
Do I choose to let God protect me, guard me and speak truth into my soul or I do I choose to let the show and all it’s details play on and on and on?
Do I choose to sit with the fear-consuming, worry-ravaging, all-powerful Father or do I choose a screen that replays my worst fears, my worst case scenarios and my enemy’s worst threats?
I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. (Ps. 16:8)
I keep my eyes on the Lord! I. WILL. NOT. BE. SHAKEN.
Eyes on God can’t have eyes on problems.
Eyes beholding nature’s beauty can’t be beholding life’s injustices.
Eyes beholding God’s love can’t be beholding the world’s hate.
Eyes beholding God’s truth in a still moment, can’t be running circles in fear.
When we have our eyes set on God’s perfect love, and we receive it in a moment of close embrace, fear is cast out. (1 Jo. 4:18).
The presence of God that sits with us when we fear, gives us a new perspective on what looms near. His presence confirms to our soul – we are his.
By faith he (Moses) left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. (Heb. 11:27)
Moses seemed to know God is “Emmanuel” – meaning, “God with us”. He seemed to know, when God is with us, nothing can come against us.
When we dwell on God’s nearness, worry fades and strength pervades.
Moses knew he could move forward with “God with him”; He could persevere verses cower in fear.
He saw the one who is right there.
Do we see “God with us” in our problems? Do we allow his real and powerful presence to cast aside all our worries?
Because when we pull near, he is there and there is no room left for fear. His love pulls up and fills us up – in a real and powerful way. Then, worry has to leave.
Suddenly, we overcome the face of fear through the power of faith.
We know he is closer than any looming disaster and more powerful than they enemy.
We see him with us as we go through the valley of the shadow of death (Ps. 23:4).
We remain in God – and he remains with us. (John 15:4-5)
Worry and worship aren’t friends. When one comes, the other leaves. Stillness and a racing mind don’t hold hands either. One runs away from the other.
When we choose “God with us”, we seemingly find our way of escape, our protector, our strength, our hope, our defense. We can trust he is working all things out for his purposes, which are always good.
Enemies can try to come against, but when God is with us, we send their bags packing, because God wins every time.
Dear friend, I know what it is like to worry. I know the pain, I know the agony and I know the despair, but today, God is calling you to something greater. God is calling you to get real, honest and transparent; he is calling you to bask in his presence.
Will you call him near as the screen of life portrays images that invoke fear? He offers the ultimate protection.
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I remember when I was young, I went to the PGA US Open when it was held near my town.
Amidst the thousands of people,
amidst my sister who turned into a lunatic,
amidst people pushing and shoving,
I remember tottering on my tippy toes just to see.
I just wanted to see the world famous Tiger Woods.
I knew that I wouldn’t really get a hello from him or a handshake – there were too many people and he was too famous. I was too average and he was too important.
But I just wanted to grab a look.
Wasn’t it similar for Zacchaeus?
And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. (Luke 19:3-4)
He just wanted to see.
He knew he was small.
He knew he was guilty.
He knew he was unworthy.
But, he just wanted to see the man who had power.
He wanted to cast his eyes on the one who could entirely change the game. So much so, that little Zacchaeus went to new heights – in a tree- to see new depths – in the an unforseen King.
Jesus rewarded this “go-to-any-lengths-mentality.”
Jesus rewarded this heart that wants to view his glory.
Jesus rewarded this will to see from a new view.
Jesus rewards a simple desire to see.
Jesus responds in such a different way than any earthly celebrity would.
He is less concerned about his destination (Lu. 19:1), and more concerned about salvation.
He halts all his plans, just to to see one man everyone probably hates – and he turns it into a opportunity to heal.
Can you imagine for a moment how it is being in a crowd of people? Jesus would not be able to see ahead or behind him, but Jesus knew the only way he needed to be looking – was up.
He never had the need for speed, but instead had a deep desire to fill an aching need. He stopped, he saw and then he went the extra distance and met the man in the most intimate of places – his home.
Jesus saw the one who truly needed eyes to see.
He put his plans on pause, for a greater cause. He saw the need of the moment, rather than the plan of the hour.
He saw what no one else wanted to see – “the sinner”. (Lu. 19:7)
Zacchaeus had eyes to see. Jesus had eyes to see.
Do we seek to see Jesus from new perspectives?
Do we give all our heart to find him?
Do we risk climbing difficult trees to seek him?
And, what do we see in the midst of the hustle and bustle?
What do we see in the spaces between our to-do list action items?
What do we see in the faces of those we love?
Because, when we stop to see, what we often end up with is a great visit by the great Comforter – who never ceases to leave us unchanged.
He knows our needs and ministers to our hearts.
Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today. (Lu. 19:5)
I want Jesus to visit me in my house, don’t you?
Because a visit from Jesus, changes our hearts, our minds and our lives as nothing else can.
And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Lu. 19:9)
What does Jesus stand ready to give you when you only seek to see?
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