Purposeful Faith

Tag - Joy

Even If He Does Not

Even If

Post by Karina

There’s this space in our lives where sorrow and joy collide, where highs and lows converge and where good and bad embrace. This is a new space for me. But this is a space that many of you may be familiar with.

Usually, in my “Job Seasons” as I like to call them, horrible things happen and keep happening. And they happen often. Those seasons give new meaning to the term “When it rains, it pours”. Unfortunately, I have grown accustomed to these seasons.

For the past 6 or so months, I have been in this new season of this in between space. Picture this…devastating circumstance then joyous circumstance then disastrous circumstance then fun circumstance then overwhelming circumstance then delightful circumstance. Exactly!!!! Now you have a small glimpse of what my life has been like recently.

It’s felt as though I have had spiritual whiplash. Back and forth and back and forth. It’s been one of the hardest times in my life. I’ve been drained in every sense of the word…emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. Most of my prayers have sounded like moans and tears.

I’m coming out of this season, but there is still a remnant of whiplash. But God has met me there, at every turn.

But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Daniel 3:18

The first part of this verse and a few other verses have reminded me of my Heavenly Father’s faithfulness to me, not only in this season, but in all seasons. Whether the season lasts how long I want it to or not or ends the way that I want it to or not…whether God moves in the way I want Him to or not, some core truths remain.

But even if He does not…”

God is still with me.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

God is our Father. He loves us and pursues us. He never gives up upon us. He goes before us, behind us and surrounds us. And He delights to do so. Regardless of what we do or what is done to us, He is our protector and provider. He longs to defend us and bring us healing. He longs to simply do what good fathers do.

God is still good.

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” Psalm 136:1

God is good and faithful and loving and kind. Even when catastrophic situations occur, He is still good. He cannot be or act contrary to His nature. It’s impossible.

The details of this life don’t dictate the goodness of God.

God still has a purpose for me.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Seasons come and go. That’s the beauty of them. They don’t last forever. When dark seasons come, God’s purposes for us are not nullified, they are only sidetracked.  It’s up to us whether or not we allow those times to further equip us for our callings. It’s up to us whether or not we keep the faith that God’s purposes will prevail.

But even if He does not…

God is still with us.

God is still good.

God still has a purpose for us.

Are you in an in between season experiencing a bit of whiplash? I’d love to pray for you!

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BjBC4hzUKarina is a devoted follower of Jesus from New Orleans, Louisiana, but has made her home in Baton Rouge for the past 15 years. She spends much of her time leading worship at church, writing, reading, dancing and mentoring the next generation. She has a huge heart for serving and missions. She is an advocate for the local church especially the one that she attends, Healing Place Church. She also enjoys working out, traveling, photography and going to concerts/conferences.

Karina believes that every woman has a God-sized dream on the inside of them and it is up to an encouraging community to help nurture that dream. Her goal in writing is to see women get a revelation of God’s Word and discover how to apply it to their lives in order to walk in freedom and live the life that God intended. But the most important thing to her is to live out the call of Isaiah 26:8…For His Name and His Renown are the desire of our souls! You can connect with her at “For His Name and His Renown.”

Why It’s Okay to Be Struggling

God is with you in your messy state by Katie M. Reid for Kelly Balarie's Purposeful Faith

Post By: Katie M. Reid

My friend walked through the grocery store with her eyes down and shoulders slumped. She was having a hard day and it showed.

A woman from church saw her and asked, in a seemingly patronizing way, “Are you struggling?”

My friend felt like the woman’s question, laced with pity, was suggesting that it was not Christlike to be struggling.

Listen, we all have hard days and hard seasons.

It would be a lie to answer with an, “I’m fine” during those times.

But sometimes we mask our pain because we fear:

1. The other person won’t care.
2. They won’t know what to do with our hurt.
3. They don’t seem like a safe place to share.
4. We don’t want to burden them or overshadow their happiness.

But life is plain hard sometimes and we need one another to stand up when the waves of circumstance threaten to capsize us.

Just the other day several friends and I were swapping some good news. One of our friends bravely admitted that she was struggling with bouts of sickness with her kids, but she didn’t want to rain on everyone’s parade. She definitely shared in our happiness yet, instead of saying, “I’m fine too”, she was honest with how she felt.

I was grateful for her authenticity, it actually strengthened our friendship—knowing that she wouldn’t lie or put up a front that everything was okay when it wasn’t.

Just because you are struggling to find joy does not make you a weak Christian.

Look at all the biblical greats who struggled with various things like unbelief, temptation, jealousy, fear, anger, etc.

Sure, Christ wants us to have victory and count it all joy, (see James 1:2-4) but that doesn’t mean we have to put on a Pollyanna plastic smile and pretend that everything is okay, when it’s not.

The holiday season can fill us with moments of wonder and worship yet also remind us of loss and pain.

It’s as if our senses are more acutely aware of both our blessings and brokenness this time of year.

Think of the conflicting emotions felt during that first Christmas season long ago.

I am sure that Mary experienced the loss of her reputation when the naysayers discovered that she was pregnant. Then, months later—great with child—she rode on a donkey, not in comfort but on a bumpy journey away from home.

Yet, in her struggle with pain, she was carrying the Good News, the long awaited One, who would bring lasting hope to a hurting world.

Even in the dark there is light. There is hope in the struggle, but that doesn’t minimize our pain.

I doubt that God shouted to his bond-servant, “C’mon Mary, suck it up sister. You’re swollen with the Savior yet there’s no time to complain about your pain.”

God was with her as she labored and He loved her no less in her messy state.

The Good News should cause us to rise up and celebrate but that does not mean we have to be super-human or deceitful and pretend that nothing discourages us.

The super-human Savior, both God and man, came to us in our struggling state and loved us so much that He took on more pain that we will ever experience.

Whether you are struggling or soaring this season, know that you have an empathetic Emmanuel who is with you and for you.

He doesn’t scold you in the shopping aisle, He nods with understanding as you unwrap your feelings and let Him in—even to those untidy corners of your heart.

Thank You Jesus that You love us so well. Even when we are falling apart You hold us together with Your strong arm. You are the Hope of the Ages. Help us to rest in Your embrace and to live bravely, whether we are happy or sad. Thank You that You are patient with us—not condescending. Oh how we need you, this day and for all time. Lift up our heads and may we magnify You—the One laid in manger, killed on cross and resurrected in victory. You are the best gift of all. Amen.

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Katie M. Reid Headshot by Adopting Natinos

Katie M. Reid is a tightly wound woman, of the recovering perfectionist variety, who fumbles to receive and extend grace in everyday moments. She delights in her hubby, four children (and one on the way) and their life in ministry. Through her writing, singing, speaking and photography she encourages others to find grace in the unraveling of life. Connect with Katie at katiemreid.com.

Do We Really Know Who God Is?

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

“If you are the Son of God…” (Matthew 4:3)

Ah, the tactics of the enemy.

Isn’t this the same question the he’s asked since the beginning? These manipulative words attack Jesus’ identity when he is in the middle of the desert, hungry and exhausted. Matthew aptly refers to Satan in this passage as “the tempter.”

Although his angle varies, the father of lies loves to question. He makes us doubt what we believe and second-guess what we heard from the One who is the source of all things good and true.

Did God really say…” (Genesis 3:1)

If the foundation of our trust becomes shaky, then everything else will shake along with it. And no one knows this better than the one who’s been telling lies from the beginning.

As much as I would like to have a trumpet blast or an alarm to announce when the enemy of my soul is on the prowl, this isn’t how he works. His strongholds start in the mind, and once he builds his fortress there, actions follow suit.

Then calamity hits and I question the goodness of God. Just like the battle between good and evil in the wilderness all those years ago, God’s identity is in question.

Would a good God allow this? If God was really all-powerful, wouldn’t he do something about this?

Friends, this is exactly where darkness starts. And it only becomes darker and more hopeless once we question who God is.

I wish the struggle was different, but this is what we face day and day out, as we’re bombarded with news of people starving and terrorists performing unthinkable acts of evil. When we’re in the thick of health crisis and heartache with those closest to us, we fight to keep our thoughts from going to that place of doubt.

So what do we do? When the world, as the popular song puts it, is “going to hell in a hand-basket,” how do we keep our minds from going there too?

When I go back to the passage in Matthew where Jesus is being tempted, I love how he responds to Satan. Jesus knows this world contains nothing which will sustain us, not even food and water.

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4 NIV

We are a creation made not only of body, soul and mind, but spirit.

And that which is spiritual can’t be sustained by the material.

So today, as you’re gathering around the table and spending time with loved ones, I want you to remember that as good as that turkey tastes, there is a life source far greater. It can’t be neglected or shoved to the back burner.

His words aren’t just black and white on page or an item to check off our to-do list, but a never-ending spring of truth. When we come to him with humility and minds open to receive, he transforms our doubtful thinking and heavy-laden hearts into hearts filled with peace and hope.

There is a reason why scripture refers to Jesus as “the Word.” (John 1:1) The Word brings life and Jesus is life. It is a mystery interwoven into the fabric of our beings, and through it the Father speaks and reveals pieces of his greater plan.

The more time we spend in his presence, the more our questions become affirmations. The more we fill ourselves up with the Living Water which never runs dry, the more we can discern what is eternal and true.

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View More: http://kimdeloachphoto.pass.us/allume2015Abby McDonald is a writer who can’t contain the lavish love of a God who relentlessly pursues her, even during her darkest times. When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, she loves hiking, photography, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.

Abby would love to connect with you on her blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

Surviving Holiday Drama

Holiday Drama

We are all gathered around the table. I can’t keep my eyes off the pumpkin pie, the mashed potatoes, and the creamed corn. I want to devour it all. My mouth is watering.

But, as I smile, as I look, as I sit, deafening sounds quickly pull me out of my delightful daydream, and throw me back into reality. A storm is brewing. Someone is annoyed – again. Agitated -yet again. Frustrated – just like last year.

Who knows what irritated them! It could be one of many things – drinks weren’t served fast enough, a rude piercing reply was launched or a digging question was fired over the table. The “why” is not of as much concern as “how” this sinks my holiday south.

Joy stolen.
Agitation mounting.
Disappointment abounding.

Why can’t we give thanks in peace?

Why can’t we all get along?

Why does it feel that we have to endure holiday rather than enjoy it?

This is should be a time of thankfulness – of gladness – not a time of madness.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are days we expect to be perfect gems of sparkle, joy and peace. Somehow, we think, because we control the preparations, the decorations and conversations, everyone should meet our expectations. But, when they don’t, we tend to get bloated with disappointment.

Yet, God calls us to enjoy this day, rather than endure it. He calls us to leave perfect in the kitchen to embrace imperfect at the table, so we don’t end up hiding in the bathroom with tears.

5 Tips to Survive Holiday Chaos:

1. Seek to embrace verses erase the person in need.

Jesus ran to the people in need. His heart was inclined to those in pain. He didn’t demand, but gave his best.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

Sit under the shade of the cross. Then you will find compassion for the meaningless jabs, frustrating arguments and aggravating words. Heck, you might even see you are just as sinful as they.

2. Be truly thankful – for both the yummy and the yucky of life.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (Phil. 4:12)

True thankfulness takes abundance and scarcity, trials and triumphs, jerks and joy – and gives thanks no matter. Why? Because all are from the Lord. All have a purpose. All are meant to refine.

3. A storm may brew, but without a doubt, God will bring you through.

For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. (Is. 41:13)

It’s ok to feel weak, but unnecessary to feel ruined because God stands ready to help. Call out to God. He waits to run to your rescue.

4. Know you stand secure, no matter what others do.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers. neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Ro. 8:38-39).

People can do what they are going to do. But, none of this impacts our standing with Christ. We are in Him. We are secure. We are loved. We are a new creation. If we stand in Christ, we can’t stand outside of him.

5. Find a heart of thanks for the burnt food.

True gratefulness is not just being thankful for all the delicious pickings, but also for the burnt food. If we have food – or family to complain about – we are already blessed. We are blessed with the perfect, but also with the imperfect. Why? Because through the imperfect, we see our need for a Savior. Through our failings, our trials and our frustrations, we find hope in One who is greater than these things.

God makes imperfect burnt food taste delicious when we see it for what it is – an undeserved gift.

That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:10)

Bonus Tip (consider it your second helping): Realize it is impossible to control others.

We can’t control things. We can only control ourself. And, no one can take our spirit of thanks away, without us allowing them to do it. No one can steal our heart – unless we allow them to.

When we stop looking for everyone to be perfect, we can start enjoying them for who they truly are.

When our standards aren’t higher than the twinkle-lighted roof, we can see people’s hearts, history and pains.

And, we sometimes, can even empathize and minister to them.

So, this holiday season, let’s celebrate and see all that we have – burnt food and pickings. People will always disappoint – and we will disappoint people. No one is perfect – except One. But, the ultimate truth is that God’s grace never ends. It nourishes us when the spread leaves us hungry for more love.

Let’s lay this truth on the table so we can pass, dish and eat up all the goodness of grace – in our own hearts and towards the hearts of others.

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The Burden is Off, My Friends

The Burden is Off

What would happen if I packed up, crammed all my stuff into a moving van and found a new home – God’s dwelling? Might God whisper “The burden is off, my child”?

If I truly said:

God, you own these kids, so I release myself from the burden of mismanagement.
God, these goods are under your roof, so if you don’t like them – for me, you can remove them.
God, when things break down in our house, you care – it is your house too.
God, you’re in the very center of the air in this marriage. You are in our midst in this house.
God, this home doesn’t actually belong to me, it belongs to you.
God, these plans I make are under your owned roof, help me come to you first, before I steamroll ahead.
God, you care about the mother and father who walk these rooms, their feelings and thoughts you oversee.

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.” Ps. 91:1-2

If I put everything I own under his roof, his bullet-proof roof will wrap me with protection.

Cooking, caring, helping, guiding, serving, homeworking, loving, speaking, thinking and teaching will no longer rest on me, but it will reside under him. Every time I look up, the ceiling will remind me of whose shelter I am under. Every time I feel pressed against a wall, it will remind me I am not trapped, but wrapped with his love. Every time I feel it is too much, I will remind myself that God is much more in this place then I could ever be. Every time, I fear the dark, I will remind myself that he keeps me in his shadow, because he wants me close, not far so he can hurt me.

He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Ps. 91:4

Covered.
Gliding.
Moving.
Progressing.
Understood.
Safe.
Sound.
Armed.
Alarm set.
Tucked in tight.
Into the arms of the father.
Within our own home, which is his.

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. Ps. 91: 9-13

As God rules a refuge, he protects it. As if he places an invisible bubble of armored protection around it, harm hits it hard and falls, disaster is diverted, angels are concerned, my foot is not stubbed, the opposition walks scared and I walk defeating them.

The burden is off of me – and onto God.

Lord, God, come into my home and make your home. Everything belongs to you. I belong to you. My children belong to you. My goods belong to you. My heart belongs to you. My faith belongs to you. My life belongs to you. Rule in your shelter as I live under it. Help me stay in your ways and within your heart, never to depart. Amen.

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How to Fight to Win

Fight to Win

It is that thing that pretty much all of us hate.

It’s what we would rather run from than run straight into.

It’s what makes us speak accusations
instead of affirmations.

It’s what drives us bat crazy,
feeling like we are chasing a shifting shadows of ever changing goals and needs.

It’s what sends us to mindsets of sin rather than pastures of holiness.

It is called conflict.

It is that thing that we don’t know why, we as Christians have to deal with – yet, we do. Somehow and sometimes, we just hit it. And as ugly as it is, we often stand, right in the midst of it, wondering how something so icky, so yucky and so unsavory, could exist in one who is trying to pursue God so wholly? 

How a God seeker could turn into more of a raging lunatic than a calming saint?

How this very growth of mold could threaten to swallow God’s very light shining on it?

But, yet, if we stop and think, sometimes our heart actually lands at the truth, doesn’t it?

God’s light is still shining – even when our heart isn’t.

There is no amount of disgrace, shame and darkness that can remove the ray of light shining on you. Like the rays that follow your tin can of transport, so does God go. Like the light that reflect off the tiny pieces of dirt on the side of the road, so does God go. Like the moon that shines even in the darkness, so does God go.  You can’t stop the places his light shine.

God’s light shines hope into every endless pit of death and decay –
it can’t help but make things grow.

The glow of repair is always available – and the glow is a He and he waits for our call, so that he can run to our rescue, operating tools and all, to reshape us into glory, faster than one can mutter “Thank you.”

God didn’t save his glow for the perfect, he shines it on the sinners.

The only hindrance for us receiving it, is us believing dirty rotten scoundrels can really handle it without ruining everything.

It is moving in, rather than running away.
It is waiting, rather than hiding.
It is believing grace rather than fear.
It is relaxing into his work, rather than resisting it.

Conflict is the great body shop of God’s repair,
for it is here that he points out the greatest defects of our hearts.

The amazing part is – when those who are defected,
continually run to him who is resurrected,
we can’t help but find ourselves more and more perfected. 

So, be not discouraged, he is helping us.
Be not dismayed, he is with us in the heat of the moment, despite the coldness of our heart.
Be not disgraced, he calls us to see, not our bad moves, but his great ones.
Be not downright angry, he leads us to listen, so then we can understand.
Be not debased, he calls us to set our ways down, so we can come alive to his.
Be not defeated, he calls us to victory in Christ, so then we may be free.
Be not dejected, he calls us to new ways of thinking, so we don’t live furious.
Be not defamed, you are always loved in his eyes.
Be not defensive, his correction spoken might be your ticket to fullness.
Be not down and out, you are permanently Christ’s new creation.
Be not disqualified, nothing can remove you from the hand of God.
Be not denied, Christ already died to fully accept you.

The key is to pray so we don’t fall prey, but so we find God’s way. His way is the greatest cease and desist order to the devil and the most potent concoction of peace there is.

Suddenly, what we find is – it’s not so much about winning, but much more about letting Christ win our hearts over in love – so everything flows according to HIS plan.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Col. 3:12

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10 Bible Verses: How Jesus Prayed

How Jesus Prayed

Last night, as I was booting down the day in prayer, I realized something. Something kind of significant. I figured what it said about me just as important as what I actually believed about prayer.

It struck me that while I often pray to stop worrying, I always pray mid-struggle – in the heat of a thought that has run haywire, like a wire with far too much current and no outlet.  Now, I won’t say by that point it is too late, but I just wonder, why do I wait until that point, rather than getting out in front of it defensively?

Why don’t I build an action plan, a game plan and an attack
to beat down worry before it runs wild?

When we fail to prepare with big preemptive prayers, we prepare like paupers. 

But, when we prepare in advance, not fearing to ask for massive deliverance,
God prepares our hearts in the unimaginable.

Why is it we are afraid to ask for the enormous, the unthinkable and the life-changing?

1. We are scared that our big God will only deliver us small answers and thereby disappoint us.
2. We feel guilty for not praying righteous prayers, so we pray empty prayers.
3. We wonder what we will end up believing about God, if we end up seeing him not come through.
4. We figure that we are somehow supposed to conquer, what God stands ready to.

Yet, Jesus, he teaches us to pray unrestrained, unbelievable and uncensored prayers. Let’s take a look.

10 Bible Verses: How Jesus Prayed

1. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Lu. 5:16

Getting alone gives our mind the white space it needs to conceptualize life-transforming spiritual needs.

2. And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will. Mt 26:39

Jesus was not afraid to ask for big deliverance. Our big God can handle big prayers. In fact, he loves a heart that believes by faith he can do all things. Just ask it!

3. My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done. Mt 26:42 

Jesus knew God’s will takes precedence over earthly will. When we pray, we should let our heart convey needs, yet trust that God ultimately knows what we best need.

4. And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark. Mk. 1:35

Jesus knew that seeing God first in his day, sets the foundation of a day – in God. When we place our morning eyes on God, he gives our eyes sight on great strength in our day.

5. Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Mt. 6:9 

Jesus knew who he was talking to, do we? God tells us that the name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous can run into it and are safe (Prov 18:10). Do we believe this?

6. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. Mt. 6:13

Praying to be delivered from what has not already hit, prevents your feet from getting swept out from under. Jesus teaches us to pray preemptively, and for good reason.

7. I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. Mt. 11:25-26

Jesus praised God for what man could easily find fault with. Praise God for the things you can’t understand. When we know that a good God is over our bad problems, we find calm waters.

8. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers. Lu. 22:32

Jesus knew the value in praying on behalf of faith. May we ask for more faith, so we can walk into the unseen with power, authority and courage, just like Jesus.

9. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. Jo. 17:9

Jesus prayed for his beloved children. Let’s pray that our heart, and the heart of all God’s children, will endure, stay pure and persevere together until the end, for this is God’s will for us.

10. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. Lu. 23:34

Jesus forgave when he could have cursed the world for his breath labored pain and agony. He didn’t. Let’s forgive those who cause us pain and agony, for what we will find is that forgiveness is what ends up causing us far less pain in the long run.

Prayer.

It is our power.
It is our strength.
It is our direct connection to the greatest ruler of this earth.
It is our cosmic shift from selfish plans to God’s plans.
It is our ability to be an influencer, a pleader and a worker in a kingdom that counts.
It is our ticket to our greatest needs being met in awe inspiring ways.
It is our hope that confirms to our heart we have a hope.
It is our peace that the creator is still creating. 
It is our power found in uplifted hands and in the quietness of a solitary room.
It is our ability to call the Great Physician to a family member in need.
It is our emergency exit door for what the devil has already cooked up to destroy us.
It is our greatest weapon in a world that is building bigger and bigger weapons.
It is our lifeline when we feel we have lost all life.

It was one of Jesus’ greatest tools,
shouldn’t it be ours too?

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How Judging Can Bring Worship

Bring Worship

He was spinning slowly with a gigantic smile.
He was raising his fists, tightly pressed towards his stomach with pointing motions to the sky.
He was leaning in and jumping up.
Smiling.
Moving.
Doing all kinds of crazy stuff.

“Why does he have to distract so many?
Is he making a show for himself or a show of God’s honor?
Is this kind of worship worthwhile?”

Completely distracted from God, my eyes were wallpapered. But, the more I looked, the more his background shined, just like the raindrop tattoo below his left eye. The more I looked, the more hardship, gangs, and possibly prison sentences were likely. The more I looked, the more I saw the real joy of absolute freedom, applicable grace and abundant peace written on his face of admiration and adoration.

I saw all of this. And then I saw him start to spin circles, eyes wide open, with me standing right behind him. The smile wouldn’t stop.

Circles?
Eye contact?
Awkward. Odd.

You couldn’t miss this one, so I didn’t. I watched even more.

And what I eventually noticed was this: for this man, it didn’t seem to be about showing off, or grabbing attention, but simply about celebrating his now set-free love with his full being, his entire body and all his emotions because one, far greater than himself, saved him. He appeared to be almost in the very throne room of Christ, simply enjoying the lavish love of his Savior.

Perhaps, he relished in the love that was always so hard to obtain? Moved into the acceptance that might have always turned the other direction? Basked in light that eluded him, crying “Amazing Grace” from a heart that lived anything but amazing – and probably agonizing in comparison?

Perhaps this man really got the point of worship.

Worship is the satiating wellspring of what never had a chance to spring up before Christ.

It is the power of a Savior to save you again in your moment of need.

It is celebrating the light of day,
despite the dark of night you lived because of your crime-laden past.

Does my heart move in tandem with Jesus’ in reckless, all-out, arms-open, heart-heeded abandon?

I don’t have to spin wild circles and make hand-gestures like a catcher, but the point is, would I or could I? In an outpouring of thanks, in the name of Jesus, could I pour out my heart through worship without worrying and fearing that I was embarrassing myself?

Would I go to those lengths to show him outlandish love?

  • To offer an outpouring of my best self and my highest worth, just as the woman washed Jesus’ feet in undressed affection: A woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. Mt. 26:7

Others probably thought she was crazy.

  • Judas, the one who eventually walked right up to betrayal, shook hands with it and fell to its power, had this to say about the moment: “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” Jo. 12:5

Why does this worship-dancer have to be so crazy?
Why does he have to draw attention?
Why does he have to make a show?

Maybe the issue is not him – but me. I think I am far to comfortable with being comfortable. I am far too complacent in my complacent worship. I am far too judgy with Christian judgements.

Is this attitude bringing me closer to God’s heart?

Or is it simply pushing me out of God’s ring, to stand on the sidelines with a pointed finger?

Perhaps the things I want to judge are the things God is using to give me a nudge.

Perhaps the people that I look to mock,
are those that should make me take stock over my spiritual walk.

Perhaps what I resist, is exactly where God wants me to persist.

You see, this man taught me a lesson.  By taking a short second-break from analyzing and critiquing, I could see the heart of God revealing and beating.

I remembered how much Jesus loves outlandish outpourings
of everything on to him.

But, how often are we too far consumed with the action’s of others, that the lessons of God fall on a path of concrete and grow no roots?

This man, he taught me how to give it all over. He taught me how to smile the words, “Worthy is the lamb,” and to mean it from every cell of one’s soul. He taught me, that the best gifts are the ones that are offered to God through a heart that is only outpouring for him. He taught me, don’t judge the ones who are different, because their “different” may be what brings us into “oneness” with God. He taught me to accept what is outside of my God-parameters. He taught me to be a little bit more open to other’s interpretive movements of surrendered love.

He taught me that my judgements are cause for greater worship,
because they are already forgiven.

So, as they ushered him out of the church aisle, and escorted him out of the church, I said, “Thank you God for this man, you see, what was lost, is now found for him – and he knows it. But, more importantly, he is not afraid to show it. Help me to be like him – not just to know, but to celebrate every cell of goodness stored up in the gift of you.  Help me to love you freely and fanatically today.”

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The Secret Well of Continual Peace

Well of Continual Peace

Now.

These 3 letters signify all we have. They signify husbands who hope to receive a smile. Children who simply want our presence. Parents who are eager just to hear our voice. Friends who deeply desire to be understood.

They signify the only thing we are guaranteed and the only place where it is possible to make change. They signify our present purpose. They signify the meeting ground for our heart and God’s – a God who stands waiting, hoping and eager to meet us.

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Ps. 16:11

Yet, what I also notice is that staying in “now” is just about as hard as staying in constant peace, which I figure may be almost one in the same.  And, just this thought, this pressure of staying in peace, nearly sends me into a tailspin where that notorious hook comes to pull me off the stage of God’s purpose and peace.

Adios, bad girl! Where are the tomatoes?

As I step away from the faces, the eyes, the hope, the joy and the love longing for me in the here and now, I almost can’t help but dwell in the two places no human, known to man, has ever been able to ever control: the past and the future. I start to see all that I am not and all that God can’t possibly do for me: He can’t possibly be with a girl like me, he can’t possibly promise to help in this situation, he can’t possibly do good things here.

Feet that walk from the vibration of God’s
truth, love and presence

walk into the trepidation of discord, doubt and defeat.

I’ve done it one too many times; I should know.

One too many times that makes me think one more time about my approach (And, yes, observant friend, I realize this is going to the past, but occasionally we go to the past, with the goal to move past the past) and something is stirring.

Living in the moment and living in striving
are mutually exclusive. 

And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Ex. 33:14

Notice God does the going and we do the resting.
We just behold him and he holds us.
We be with and he works in. 

Simple stuff. And, that’s how it is to live in the “now,” it’s simple. It simple laughs, simple tears, simple words heard, simple hearts held, simple games played, simple words shared and simple love bestowed. But, what it all adds up to at the end of ones life, far surpasses simple and far beyond normal. It ends up nearly exceeding glorious, or perhaps being the sum of it – because what we see in our future, a day that will finally come to a close is that we really loved. We loved deeply and wildly and passionately and greatly and meaningfully.

But the greatest of these is love. 1 Cor. 13:13

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Linking with #DanceWithJesus, #FiveMinuteFriday and #LiveFreeThursday.

7 Encouraging Words from The Blogosphere

Encouraging Words

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!

1. Valerie Murray

My mommy! My daddy! Does your child ever possessively announce that you are “his/her” mommy/daddy? Isn’t it because of who you are to them and how you love and take care of them?

When I remember that I am loved by God and my family because of who I am to them, I tend to worry less about my reflection and focus more on my character.

God thinks you’re beautiful because he created you!

God formed man from the dust and personally breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Genesis 2:7

He created you in his image. True beauty comes in the pursuit to reflect the image of Christ in our lives.

And clothe yourself with the new nature, which was created according to God’s image in righteousness and true holiness. Ephesians 4:24

Read More…

2. Lisa Murray
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I was simply stunned from my less-than-gracious tumble, humbled by the gaze of concerned onlookers, and grateful that my husband saw me and picked me up, lovingly lifting me to my feet again.

Isn’t this what God does for us?
Isn’t He the one who sees us in our distress and lovingly picks us up?
Isn’t He that present with us in our lives?

I am reminded of David in Psalm 145:14 (NIV), when he says, The LORD upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.

How great is the love of God that doesn’t leave us in such a pitiful state lying on the ground.  He holds up all who fall – ALL.  That means ME!  That means YOU!

What moves me more than anything is to realize that in order for Him to pick us up, He had to be there, right there, watching all along.  He saw.  He sees.  He knows. Read More…

3. Samantha Citty
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This kind of guilt was not from God.

Here was the problem: I was looking for answers at all the wrong places.  I was turning to blogs and social media instead of the One who comforts us in our time of need.  The opinions and words of other people became more important than the Word of God.  I didn’t realize that “the fear of man is a snare, but the one who trusts in the Lord is protected (Proverbs 29:25).

So I read the entire Bible cover to cover and noticed one of several themes about God.  He doesn’t leave or forsake us (1 Chronicles 20:20, Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:5).  He’s not looking down from heaven judging whether or not we’re “good Christians”.  Because without Christ, we aren’t good.  Only He is good.

Not everyone will agree with our choices.  For a while, I took these opinions more seriously than what God thought of His own children.  Since He gives good things to those who ask Him (Matthew 7:11), I can trust He has good intentions for me and my family.  His blessings are beyond the guilt and shame we put ourselves through.  Read More…

4. Lori Schumaker
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That day, as I experienced the betrayal, I felt my thoughts pulling me into the downward cycle of self-blame, unworthiness, and bitterness.

I wanted to hide away, hardening my heart to relationship. I craved a sense of safety, and the enemy beckoned for me to hide my goodness from the world. He beckoned me to hide my light.

In that moment it was tempting. Hiding the good in me away forever in order to protect it from all future attacks, seemed my safest act.

But I’d walked that road before and recognized the lie. In Matthew 5:17 we read, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”  Truth declares hiding as contrary to His desires for us. If I choose to live contrary to the way in which God has called me, I will only feel a greater sense of unworthiness and bitterness in my soul.
Read More…

5. Sarah Travis
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I see others around me succeeding at running. I feel left out when I can’t track my Couch-to-5k journey along with friends or take part in Tough Mudder!

“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13b-14 NIV

We all have to keep moving forward with our eyes focused on the Lord and not what others around us are doing. You see friends, if I run it sets me back rather than moving me forward. I can experience pain that can prevent me from even power-walking. When we strive to be like others, and become bitter because we are not able to be like them, we are keeping ourselves from what we have been created to do.

Ephesians 2:10 says I was “…created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us {me} to do.”  The Lord prepared my assignments before I was even born! I don’t want to miss what He has created me to do because I am too busy looking at the assignments my friends have been given.
Read More…

6. Jenny Shinsky
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I ran under the goal post and past the scoreboard before a friend caught up with me. “You ran the wrong way,” she said. “You just scored for the other team.”

I wore blinders that day. Once the ball was in my possession, I became focused on one thing –  to get a touchdown and win the respect of my classmates.

All those the father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me, I will never drive away. John 6:37

God created us with a need to be loved and accepted. When we expect others to fulfill that need, we set ourselves up to be emotionally hurt. God never meant it to be that way. No one can completely fill our need to be loved and accepted.

Only God can do that. He wants to fill that need.
Read More…

7. Carolyn Newell
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She stood there humiliated and ashamed as her accusers publicly condemned her before Jesus. After catching her in the act of adultery, the men were eager to cast stones at her, but the stones were already being hurled. Stones in the form of words. Adulterer. Tramp. Worthless. Had she heard these words before? Perhaps they had been the labels her conscience had given her.

Jesus stooped down and began writing with His finger on the ground. Nobody knows the words that Jesus wrote that day. What if He replaced the insults of her accusers with the words of a loving Savior? Words like blessed, chosen, and holy. He replaced the labels of the men with labels of blameless, loved, and predestined. He could have identified her as an adopted daughter, accepted in the beloved. Redeemed and forgiven heir. Sealed with the Holy Spirit.

And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” John 8:11b (NKJV)
Read More…

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