Month: March 2019

  • Living On Purpose

    “What is my purpose?” “What was I created to do?” “How do I find my purpose and feel fulfilled in my current season of life?” These are all big, burning questions that we hear a lot of women asking and seeking the answers to. Last week we talked about the three different types of purpose. (You can read about them in our article “Made For Purpose”.)

    The first purpose is universal, to love God and believe in His son, Jesus, sharing His Word and His love with others. This is the foundation upon which our identity is built. The second purpose utilizes our unique gifts and can be lived out through our vocation, in our churches and our communities. The third is our day-to-day purpose. These are the everyday tasks or duties we are called to in our current circumstance and season of life.

    Today, I want to focus on this third type of purpose, our everyday purpose. I’m hoping to offer some encouragement that it is possible to experience a fulfilling sense of purpose in our day-to-day lives, regardless of the season of life your are in currently.

    If we’re being honest, our everyday purpose can sometimes feel a little less than glamorous and exciting because of the repetitive nature of daily tasks and to-do’s. Taking care of our families, making meals, cleaning the house, working a job, and helping friends in need, can blur together into a routine that feels mundane or predictable. While there may be moments of fulfillment, it’s hard to feel like you are living out purpose when you are sitting in the carpool lane, folding another load of laundry or giving medications and caring for a chronically ill loved one. It can be challenging to feel like you are using your talents and gifts during your daily routine. We can find purpose and fulfillment in our day-to-day through a change of perspective. I know this may sound oversimplified or like a platitude, but stick with me.

    What if we zoomed out from our limited perspective and instead saw our circumstances from an eternal one? Having an eternal perspective allows us to see God’s hand in all the little details. We will begin to recognize how He is using us right where we are, in each task we have before us, to do real work for His Kingdom.

    Recently, my kids approached me asking to have some friends over to play. I was super tired and wasn’t too keen on doubling the number of noisy boys in my house that day, but God nudged me to see beyond what was right in front of me. When I zoomed out to an eternal perspective, I saw that my younger son wanted to invite over a boy who tends to get picked on a lot at school and could use a friend to encourage him. My older son wanted to invite a classmate to hang out who is a great kid and a positive, godly influence in my son’s life. I could see that my sons were making good choices with their friendships and it was important for me to support that. Having an eternal perspective showed me the ministry that my kids were living out and how God might be at work in their friendships.

    Sometimes the little things we do have a bigger impact than we can ever know. I have a friend who has a fantastic smile. She knows the joy of being God’s daughter and it shows in her eyes every time she smiles. It’s contagious and brightens every room she enters. It’s part of how God made her. It’d be easy to say “It’s just smiling, no big deal”, but to the person that is hurting, is it just a smile? To the one who feels unseen and unloved, could it mean something more? Is is possible that God can break through to the hurting and broken through something as simple as a smile? Zooming out to an eternal perspective, we can begin to see how God uses the little and big things to accomplish His good work in our lives and in the world around us.

    How can you begin to apply an eternal perspective to your everyday life? Walk through your average day in your mind and examine how you see your daily tasks and roles. Take special notice of your attitude toward each one. How might something we see as mundane or ordinary take on a greater purpose if we see it as joining the Lord in the work He is doing?

    And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

    Colossians 3:17

    I want to challenge you to look at things differently this week. Ask God to help you see things, including yourself, from His eternal perspective. What gifts or natural aptitudes do you have that show up in your daily routine? Are there things that you have dismissed as “It’s just listening, checking in on a friend, reading to my kid, putting a band-aid on a cut… (fill in the blank)”. Maybe you think to yourself “I do this all the time, it’s not a big deal”. All these things have an eternal impact. We just need the right perspective to see it.

    It may seem like a minor thing to you to listen to someone tell you about their day, but to the other person, it could mean the world to feel heard. Being your naturally cheerful self may seem normal to you, but it could encourage someone who is having a difficult day. Showing up for the 20th time to your kid’s soccer game or helping them with their homework feels routine, but to your child, it means you value them and see them.

    God has made you on purpose with your unique passions, giftedness, quirkiness, and all, to bless others and serve Him. When we see the way we were created, as the gift that it is, suddenly just being yourself has purpose. With an eternal perspective, we will find our purpose in our everyday interactions with those around us as we recognize the ways God is at work in even the mundane routines of our lives.

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  • Made For Purpose

    Within each of us is a desire to be significant, to have a purpose, to make a difference in this world. It’s part of the reason the Enneagram and other self-evaluation tools are so popular right now. We want to understand ourselves better and long for more to this life than just the mundane day-to-day. But where does this desire come from?

    We can go back to the time of creation itself, in the book of Genesis, and see that God made man on purpose and for a purpose. When he created Adam and Eve, He gave them specific tasks to help make something of the world around them. He put before them purpose in caring for creation and all that is in it. Our desire to create goodness and lasting impact is part of being made in the image of God.

    When we hear the word “purpose” we typically think of something grand–that one thing that makes us unique and makes our impact in the world. We often ask, “what is God’s purpose for my life and how do I find it?” We can get the wrong idea that we each have only one purpose and if we don’t figure it out, we can miss it and we don’t get another chance. While some people in this world have been given a very clear purpose and spend their whole life focused on that purpose, such as Mother Teresa did, for most of us, we are given different purposes in different seasons of life as we grow in our gifts and strengths. There are many opportunities throughout our lives to have a sense of purpose and feel fulfilled, but first we have to understand the different types of purpose.

    Our first purpose, which is our general purpose and applies to everyone, is to love God and believe in His son, Jesus. It is through following God each day, learning more about Him in His word and sharing His love with others that we find our ultimate purpose. This is where we find the true source of our identity and from which all other purpose is driven from.

    Our second purpose is in our specific calling. The word “calling” in Greek is “kaleo” which means “divine invitation”. Ephesians 2:10 says that “We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” We are each uniquely made and have been given very specific gifts, strengths and passions, and we are invited by God to use them!

    Determining our interests and passions can often help us figure out what God has invited us to do. God often works at the intersection of our gifts and our passions. We can find our God-given purpose to serve and bless the world uniquely through who He has already made us to be. This purpose can be lived out through our vocation, in our churches and our communities. We can find this calling and purpose in the volunteer work we do, through ministries we are a part of, through our job, raising our families or through a hobby. If you are feeling unclear about what your calling might be, that’s ok! God has something for you! God is already at work all around you and has given you gifts that will make an impact on his Kingdom. Prayerfully dream with the Lord on what your calling in this current season might look like, and how you might join Him in Kingdom purpose!

    We find our third purpose in day-to-day tasks or duties we are called to in our current circumstance and season of life. We have families to take care of, meals to make, houses to clean, and friends who need our help. This type of purpose is the one that we sometimes struggle with the most because we don’t always recognize how we can find purpose in our day-to-day. When we recognize that each task and job before us is given to us by God, we can find joy and purpose through even the smallest of things. It may be as simple as helping your daughter with her homework, making a meal to nourish your family or being a listening ear for a coworker. God uses the strengths and characteristics He has given you to bless others, even in the purposes of the mundane.

    We can easily feel dissatisfied, however, when we blur the last two types of purposes-calling and daily purpose. It is only natural to want your vocation to also be the thing that you are perfectly gifted for and passionate about. We crave the satisfaction and joy of having a life-giving job that perfectly utilizes our strengths and talents. And in fact, that’s what our culture tells us we should be striving ceaselessly toward, and in doing so, find our worth. And while sometimes we get to do what we are most passionate about, God’s timing is not always our timing and we can find ourselves feeling adrift in the meantime.

    So what do we do when the season of life that we are presently in doesn’t afford that perfect opportunity, and we feel discontented and confused? It’s important to zoom out and see your circumstances from an eternal perspective. This builds our faith and allows us to trust that God is at work in our everyday, which cultivates contentment in our day-to-day purposes. I know this isn’t always easy or intuitive, so over the next couple weeks we will take time to further explore what this looks like in real life. We’ll share more about this eternal perspective, and how to experience purpose and joy in every season.

    In all these things we can trust that God will help us see the purposes that lay before us as we look to Him and spend time in His Word and in prayer. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” We can let God be our joy and our fulfillment as we seek to serve Him in all the opportunities that come our way with the specific gifts, strengths and passions we have to offer. You are wonderfully and beautifully made by God, on purpose, for purpose!

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  • Radiant and Unashamed

    When we talk about our identity in Christ and who we are in light of His love for us, I find that we, as women, often have two simultaneous and opposing thoughts.

    There’s the positive, upbeat identity we feel we should have or want to have, of being a daughter of the Most High God, loved, redeemed and free. And then in the same train of thought, many of us experience an unforgiving wave of shame that keeps us from believing any of that could possibly be true.

    A lot of times we confuse shame with guilt, but they are two very different things. Guilt tells us there is something wrong with our actions-but not something inherently wrong with who we are. Guilt spurs us on to repentance and change, but our identity is unaltered, left intact. We are still loved, and we know it, or we wouldn’t try to do better. Guilt can positively shape our character and is productive in the same way that pain is helpful in diagnosing injury or illness. It points us toward what can be fixed and made better.

    Shame, on the other hand, is never good and has the power to make us feel bad about who we are. It redefines our identity by what we do or don’t do. It makes us feel small, unworthy, unloved and insecure. It causes us to feel that any moment God’s grace for us will surely run out.

    Shame separates us from God, not because He moves away from us, but because we run and hide from Him. Take Adam and Eve for instance. When they first sinned in the Garden of Eden, they hid from God. Even though they knew God and saw Him face to face every day, they were ashamed and ran from Him. Shame clouded how they saw God and themselves. What is the very next thing that God did? He pursued them, he looked for them and called out to them. Sure He knew where they were, but the love communicated in God’s pursuit is astounding.

    In order to understand and truly experience the love of God, we have to look at how our “shame-filter” alters our perception about the very gospel of Jesus and nature of God.

    When we read the Gospel, or “good news about Jesus” in the Bible, we often hear it summarized it like this: “We are sinners. And our sin separates us from God. But God loved us so much that He sent His Son to die on the cross, be buried, and after three days, come back to life, all to take away our sin.”

    The “good news” here is that even though we are sinners, there is grace for us through Jesus. That is good news! But maybe this summarization of the gospel emphasizes our own filter of shame. Summing up the Gospel this way places our primary identity in what we do. We. Are. Sinners. But what if we are more than that?

    What if we zoomed out and looked at the Gospel through the whole story of God’s love woven throughout the Bible. We might summarize it more like this:

    “We are God’s beloved, created in His image, in whom Christ dwells and delights. We make mistakes and we still sin. But our sin does not define us, meaning it is not our primary identity. It is something that we do, and we continue to strive to leave sin behind. Because God loves us so much, and keeps on loving us, He has gone to great lengths to conquer sin and make a way for us to be with Him. He gave His own Son to die on the cross in our place, to take the weight of our sin away, to bury our shame with him and three days later, to come back to life so that we can be raised to new life with Him, unashamed and radiant, a new creation, never to be separated from His love.”

    Do you hear the difference? When we place our identity in our sinfulness, it slowly erodes the truth that we are first and foremost, God’s beloved daughters.

    Let me balance out the scripture scales here. Yes, we need grace! No, we should not continue to sin, just to experience more grace. We should not and cannot take sin lightly. Romans 6 says we are made new through Christ and should live like it. That is why it is so important to not allow the enemy to turn productive guilt into paralyzing shame.

    “Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” Psalm 34:5

    We have loving Creator who knows us and longs to have relationship with us. He is not waiting for us to slip up so He can bring down the hammer of punishment. He lovingly pursues us, calling out to us by name. He already knows exactly where we are, and is waiting to gently lead us back to restored relationship with Him.

    When we look to God as the source of our identity and redemption, we are so filled with His love that there is no room for shame. We are no longer defined by our sin, but we are given a clean slate and a new beginning. We see ourselves as God sees us and our identity is unshakable.

    1 John 2:28 encourages, “And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.”

    Dear sister, stay in relationship with Jesus so that you can continually be reminded of who you are in Him. Continue in Him, keep your face toward His, so that you can be confident! Step out into the light with me, feel the sunshine on your face. You are forgiven, loved and complete in Christ. Let’s live like the beloved daughters of God that we are, radiant and unashamed.

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  • Who You Are

    Nowadays we have a lot of pressure to do all the things and do them perfectly; to be everything to everyone; to basically be superwoman–all the while looking fabulous and handling whatever comes our way with an air of ease (not even breaking a sweat). Do you ever feel the pressure to be it all? We think we need to be the perfect wife and the Pinterest-worthy mom, have a successful career, make sure our kids eat their vegetables, volunteer for the latest cause, and be there for everyone who needs us while somehow not losing our sanity.

    The problem with trying to live up to this image or expectation is that we can end up feeling like we are never enough, feeling empty, exhausted, and unlovely. It leaves us feeling like we are ever-striving but never arriving. We were never meant to keep striving to be somebody. Because the truth is, you are already somebody. You are already worthy, enough, and successful in Christ! He has made you the way you are with all the things that make you, you–to be who you need to be for your friends, your kids or your spouse.

    What if we got off the hamster wheel of chasing our self-worth and identity from our jobs, roles and the approval of others? What if we first found confidence from knowing who we were made to be and owning that? What if we found our security from knowing that what defines us is who God says we are?

    Every day we must choose if we are going to let the opinions and pressures of the world to tell us who they think we should be or we can stand firm in the never-changing truth of God’s word and who God says we are.

    You are CHOSEN. (John 15:16)
    You are REDEEMED. (Col 1:4)
    You have PURPOSE in Christ. (John 15:16, 2 Corinth 17-21)
    You are COMPLETE in Christ. (Col 2:10)
    You are WONDERFULLY made by the hand of the Creator. (Psalm 139:13-14)
    You are the SALT and LIGHT of the earth. (Matt 5:13-14)
    You are one in whom God DELIGHTS. (Zephaniah 3:17, Gal 2:20)
    You are an HEIR to the kingdom of God. (Romans 8:17)
    You are EMPOWERED through the Spirit. (2 Tim 1:17)
    You are God’s MASTERPIECE. (Eph 2:10)
    You are a CHILD of GOD. (John 1:12, Eph 1:5)
    You are LOVED! (Romans 5:8, 1 John 4:10)

    I know it is not always easy to remember these truths and so very easy to get caught up in the lies the enemy whispers in our ears, telling us we have to keep striving to be enough. But please know, your momentary feelings are fickle and can lead you astray, but the truth of who you are in Christ is solid and secure. So next time you find yourself doubting who you are, your purpose, and if you are enough, repeat these truths to yourself. Choose to focus on what is true and let the Holy Spirit remind you of God’s truth.

    I am praying these truths will cover your heart and mind, so that you will have great confidence in who God says you are!

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