Do You Ever Feel Like a Misfit?

How we perceive ourselves can have such a dramatic impact on everything–how we interact with

Photo by adamr taken from freedigitalphotos.net

Photo by adamr taken from freedigitalphotos.net

others, how we perceive others interactions with us, how we perceive our world, whether we take risks or shrink back in isolation. No wonder Satan works so hard to distort our thinking in this critical area! Today a sweet friend, young adult author Mary Hamilton is talking to all the misfits among us, which I suspect applies to us all at some point or another. As you read her thoughts, ask God to show you where your self-image has become distorted and then ask Him to replace that deception with truth. Ask Him to show you who you are in Him.

Ever Feel Like a Platypus?

by Mary Hamilton, author of See No Evil

Photo by OpenClipartVectors taken from pixabay.com

Photo by OpenClipartVectors taken from pixabay.com

The platypus is a curious creature. His legs are way too short in proportion to his chubby body. He hunts for food underwater like a fish, has webbed feet for swimming and lays eggs like a water bird, but is considered a mammal. He has the body of a beaver but the beak of a duck. Even his name sounds goofy. Platypus.

 

Have you ever felt like a platypus? A misfit? Ever complained that you’re too fat or too short. Your nose is too long, your legs too chubby, your hair too frizzy/curly/straight? I know I have. At different times, I’ve wondered, why can’t I be athletic like him? Why can’t I look more like her? If only I could play an instrument or sing like So-and-so. In other words, God, why didn’t you make me different (i.e. better)?

Remember those funny mirrors that distort your image, stretching your body out long or squishing it together? That’s how Satan wants you to see yourself. Distorted. Out of proportion. A misfit. He’s been at it since the Garden of Eden, where his whole strategy was to make Eve dissatisfied.

Eve? Dissatisfied? She had a perfect husband–they were made for each other. She lived in a

Photo by evert taken from pixabay.com

Photo by evert taken from pixabay.com

beautiful garden home with pets of every kind, fresh food every day, and she and Adam walked with God every evening. What more could a woman want?

The one thing God declared off limits. “If you eat from that tree,” Satan whispered, “you’ll be like God.” Hear that hiss of dissatisfaction? Suddenly, it wasn’t enough to be the woman God made her; Eve wanted to be like God himself.

When we look into the perfect mirror of God’s word, we find that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, woven together by God Himself in our mother’s womb. (Psalm 139:14-15) Thread by thread, over and under, God wove each of us together—hair, eyes, nose, chin, body, arms and legs, hands and feet, fingers, toes and personality.
The next time the Enemy whispers dissatisfaction in your ear, remember that distorted mirrors give you a warped view of yourself. Look to the Lord for a true reflection of who you are, who God made you to be.

***

Alt. headshotMary L. Hamilton grew up at a youth camp in southern Wisconsin, much like the setting for her middle-grade Rustic Knoll Bible Camp series. Each book tells the story of kids who bring their baggage to camp—and learn how to carry it.

Mary is a graduate of Long Ridge Writer’s Group, a member of ACFW and CAN. Her writing has won recognition in several contests including the Genesis and Selah contests.

When not writing, Mary enjoys knitting, reading and being outdoors. She and her husband live in Texas.

Visit her online.

See No Evil:

(Christian fiction for teens / tweens / middle grade.)

Taylor Dixon knew having his younger sister at camp would be a pain, but he never expected the SeeNoEvilFrontDropCroppain to go so deep. At 15, Taylor dreams of getting his driver’s license and driving race cars when he’s older. His sister, Marissa, is the only one who believes in his dream, but her adventurous spirit keeps landing him in trouble. Consequently, Dad won’t let him get his license and predicts Taylor is heading for the same jail cell as his once-favored older brother.

Taylor returns to Rustic Knoll Bible Camp expecting softball, swimming and sermons. Then he finds a classic Mustang in the camp’s garage and jumps at the owner’s invitation to help restore it. But when Marissa falls for his snobbish cabin mate, the war of words and pranks escalates until it threatens both the car and his dreams for the future.

Will Taylor fulfill Dad’s prediction and end up in jail? Or will he finally learn the Truth found in the old car’s engine?

 

A Revived Prayer Life

Wouldn’t it be amazing to catch a view of the world, of the Christians in the world, from God’s eye? How many believers are kneeling, at this moment, praying for help. For healing, revival, our schools, our country…

How many more are praying today, or perhaps praying more fervently, because of War Room?

Web1I know one woman, and that’s my guest blogger, Tamera Kraft, author of a Christmas Promise. In the following, she shares her waxing and waning prayer life and how God used a box office hit to bring it back to life. As you read her thoughts, pause to consider your prayer life. Is it growing stronger or beginning to die? Is it characterized by joy and passion or mindless obedience?

But first, I want to invite you to a party!

Today I’m celebrating anyway because the print version of Intertwined has now been released–a2f18-intertwined_n154121from CBD. (You can buy it HERE. Read the first 3 chapters HERE.) I’m not sure when that will happen at the other stores.

Because every celebration needs a party…

Join me this week, Thursday to Thursday, for a fun, interactive Facebook launch party where I’ll be giving away numerous signed copies of the novel. Come join the FUN!

How a Movie Revived My Prayer Life

By Tamera Lynn Kraft

I used to be a prayer warrior. I would get up early before my children went to school and pray every day for an hour. Sometimes the prayer would continue after I walked the kiddos to school. Back then, prayer seemed like breathing, living thing. I kept a running prayer list with Scriptures to back up my prayer requests.

I was amazed back then how God answered my prayers. My husband who was an alcoholic was

Photo by Woodpuncher found on pixabay.com

Photo by Woodpuncher found on pixabay.com

miraculously saved and gave up alcohol the same week. He changed so much that his voice activated car phone didn’t recognize his voice. After a year of contracting fibromyalgia, an incurable disorder, one night in church, God healed me. The doctor said it was like a light switch was turned off.

But then, things started getting off track. My children grew up and started families of their own. I stopped having to get up early to send them to school. Life distractions kept getting in the way. And miraculous answers to prayer didn’t seem to come as easily.

It wasn’t that I stopped praying or keeping my prayer list. I did pray, but not every day. It was sort of hit and miss. For months, I would pray diligently then fall back into the routine of not praying except when a need arose. I wanted to have a prayer time like I used to. I just didn’t.

Then I watched War Room. While I was watching Clara pray in her War Room, it reminded me of what I did when I couldn’t wait to pray. I wrote out Scriptures to go with my prayers. I got away in a secret place to do my praying. I scheduled my prayer time because of my busy life raising kids.

It was like a light bulb turned on in my head. I had stopped scheduling a time for prayer because I didn’t have to worry about children interrupting me. I’d stopped going into my prayer closet because without children at home, I could pray anywhere. My prayer had stopped becoming strategic. When that happened, it stopped becoming powerful.

Since watching War Room, my war room is open again for business. I’ve already started writing our verses and attaching them to prayers. And I can feel the difference. I can’t wait to see how God is going to answer my prayers. As James 5:16 says, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

 Tamera Lynn Kraft has always loved adventures and writes Christian historical fiction set in America because there are so many adventures in American history. She is married to the love of her life, has two grown children, and lives in Akron, Ohio. Soldier’s Heart and A Christmas Promise are two of her historical novellas that have been published. She has received 2nd place in the NOCW contest, 3rd place TARA writer’s contest, and is a finalist in the Frasier Writing Contest.

Visit Tamera online at the Word Sharpeners Blog, on Facebook, or connect with her on Twitter.

 

AChristmasPromise_med (1)A Christmas Promise:

A Moravian Holiday Story, Circa 1773

During colonial times, John and Anna settle in an Ohio village to become Moravian missionaries to the Lenape. When John is called away to help at another settlement two days before Christmas, he promises he’ll be back by Christmas Day.

When he doesn’t show up, Anna works hard to not fear the worst while she provides her children with a traditional Moravian Christmas.

Through it all, she discovers a Christmas promise that will give her the peace she craves.

“Revel in the spirit of a Colonial Christmas with this achingly tender love story that will warm both your heart and your faith. With rich historical detail and characters who live and breathe on the page, Tamera Lynn Kraft has penned a haunting tale of Moravian missionaries who selflessly bring the promise of Christ to the Lenape Indians. A beautiful way to set your season aglow, A Christmas Promise is truly a promise kept for a heartwarming holiday tale.” – Julie Lessman

Available at Amazonthe Pelican Book Group, and ChristianBooks.com

If you enjoyed this topic, you might be interested in reading the article I wrote on Faith, Friends and Chocolate Tuesday titled: War Room–a Writer’s Perspective. You can read it HERE.

Let’s talk about this. How satisfied are you with your prayer life? How to you keep it from growing stale, or from dying to nonexistence? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook at Living by Grace in the comments below, because we can all learn from each other!

God’s Good–Thoughts on Romans 8:28

Photo by Foundry taken from Pixabay.com

Photo by Foundry taken from Pixabay.com

It was a dark time, and I was pretty mad at God. I was so mad, so broken, I couldn’t bring myself to pray. And this frightened me. I was certain God was angry with me. After all, my attitude was less than admirable. But then, in the middle of my anger, a snippet of a sermon pierced through my heart like a divine embrace–God was holding me, and He’d never let go, regardless of how I felt.

This knowledge–knowing nothing, not even my terrible attitude, could snatch me out of His hands–carried me through the gunk, and now, standing on the other side, I can say amen to Paula’s post below. God does indeed make good on His promise is Romans 8:28, although His ways are usually different than we expect, as Paula explains. As you read her devotion, pause to rest in God’s never-failing love, asking Him to help you see the good He’s bringing out of whatever you’re going through.

As an added bonus, she’s giving away a free e-copy of her latest release, For Our Good. The winner will be randomly selected from the comments left on today’s post. 

But first, a praise! It’s release day! The e-version of Intertwined is now available! (The print a2f18-intertwined_n154121version should be releasing soon.) Get your copy HERE! Read a free, 3-chapter excerpt HERE! And read about how God used the story to call my husband to take action in a desperate situation HERE.

And now, today’s devotion, by Paula Mowery, author of For Our Good.

God’s Good–Thoughts on Romans 8:28 by Paula Mowery

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28 NIV).

Have you ever doubted the above verse? I know you’re nodding your head with me. Things have happened that have caused me to say, “Now, God, how in the world are You going to bring good from this?”

Admittedly, it pains me to even type out that doubtful attitude, but I’d be lying to say I had never exhibited that kind of distrust. But, can I tell you something else? God has never failed to deliver on that promise in Romans 8:28.

I can almost see you pursing your lips and tilting your head with a questioning expression. Maybe you’re remembering a time that things didn’t seem to work out well. I’ll throw a proverbial wrench into that line of thinking.

God’s “good” and ours may be totally different.

When what we expect to happen doesn’t occur, we might label that as not turning out well. But in God’s perspective, it is for the best.

Let me share an example with you. My grandfather had been in a nursing home for many years,

Photo by Geralt taken from Pixabay.com

Photo by Geralt taken from Pixabay.com

suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. My mother’s recent trip had left her so down because her father was in a fetal position, not anywhere close to the giant of a man he had been. Why wouldn’t God just take him on to Heaven? She struggled seeing him that way.

There was a disagreement with my grandfather’s old home place. Someone in the extended family was trying to take it to sell and make money for himself. Naturally the family didn’t want this to happen. A battle began but through a simple technicality, the family won. What was the technicality? I don’t understand all of the legal terms and such, but basically because my grandfather was still living, the case worked in the family’s favor. If he had been deceased, the stipulation wouldn’t have held and the extended family member would have won.

Now, when seeing my grandfather lay in that nursing home, just a shell, it seemed cruel that God wouldn’t just bring him home. But, God knew what was best.

Not always does God let us in on what He is doing for us. We simply have to trust that He is working things for our good because He loves us and knows what is best for those He calls his own.

ForOurGood copy (1)For Our Good:

Charlie Jarvis is haunted by loss that fuels her desire to rid the world of drug traffickers. When her next assignment takes her back to her hometown, she has to confront her painful past. She has no interest in a relationship since God seems to kill everyone she loves.

Colton Thomas appreciates material things and the status of being a corporate pilot. When someone approaches him to deliver a package for a large sum of money that could wipe out his debts, temptation knocks loud on his door even as his partner, Marshall, slams it shut. Meeting Charlie challenges his non-committal stance with women. As he considers who he has become and the kind of man he would want to be for Charlie, he confronts his own shallow lifestyle and the fear that he would never be able to help her heal her wounds.

As Charlie pursues the man causing young boys to die of overdoses, she struggles with the secrets she keeps from Colton. With people around them shining the light of God and encouraging their courtship, both Charlie and Colton have to face hard truths about life, death, love, and faith. And maybe find a fresh start for them both.

Paula Mowery is a published author, acquisitions editor, and speaker. Her first two published works, both women’s fiction, were The Blessing Seer and Be The Blessing from Pelican Book Group, and their themes have been the topics of speaking engagements. Be The Blessing won the Selah Award in 2014 in the novella category. In November of 2013, her first romance released in the anthology, Brave New Century, from Prism Book Group. This book went to number five on Amazon’s bestseller category, historical Christian romance. Legacy and Love was her first solo romance and was a finalist in the Carolyn Readers Choice Awards in 2015.

You can follow Paula online and find out more about her  and her upcoming appearances on Facebook and her blog. Read her monthly columns on the ChristianOnlineMagazine. You can also check out her blog for Christian writers HERE.

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! How have you seen God’s promise in Romans 8:28 come true in your life? Can you share a time when His good has been different than yours? What did you learn about Him, yourself, or the situation? How has Romans 8:28 given you hope during tough times? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

But before you go, join me on the following sites.

Yesterday my sweet husband was interviewed on Angela Meyers blog, and in the interview, he shared a God-story that brings tears to my eyes to this day. Love that man! Come read why he’s earned the title “warrior” HERE!

Today I’m on the Borrowed Book talking about the uncertainties of writing (read more HERE), and I’m sharing my encounter with one of the most beautiful gardens I’ve encountered. Read more HERE.

I was also on  the Borrowed Book on Tuesday to talk about something God is working, and working, and working on me for. (Is that grammatically correct? That must be the most awkward sentence of the day!) Read more HERE.

I also popped by author H.L. Wegley’s to talk about trusting God when life gets hard. You can read more HERE, and in a similar post, I visited Ginger Solomon’s to talk about finding joy when life gets hard. You can read more HERE. (Seems there’s a theme here!)

 

Freedom

FreedomversepicSo if the Son sets you free, you are truly free” (John 8:36).

Imagine living your entire life as a slave. What would you give for freedom? What would that freedom feel like once it came? And how long, once freed, would it take to shake off your slave mentality?

We don’t think about slavery much these days; I’m not sure we can ever fully grasp what life is like for those living as someone’s property, spending every moment doing someone else’s bidding. To dream of, long for–ache for–freedom. But to believe it is far from your grasp, so far, you begin to give up hope. You stop dreaming and settle into a life of barely existing.

Yesterday the Associated Press posted an article about a Burmese slave who spent 22 years in captivity. Oh, how he longed for freedom, but the one time he asked, he was beaten so severely, he nearly died. And so, he spent the next 14 years resigned to his fate. And yes, that desire, that deep, inner hunger for liberty and the ability to reconnect with those he loved, would not be stilled. Over time, it grew, and grew, until his desire to be free, truly free, overrode his fear of being beat. And so, he asked again. And again, and again, and each time, his owners beat him down.

One day, after his “owner” cracked his skull with a helmet, he ran away, determined to see his family once again… only to land right back into slavery. But his thirst for freedom would not be quenched, so after being chained to a fishing boat for three days, he managed to break free, and this time he ran with every ounce of energy and determination he possessed.

Oh, to be free, truly free! (You can read Myint’s entire story HERE.)

Last Sunday, our family pastor, Robert Conn asked us two questions: Who are you, and, what breaks your heart? You can watch this powerful sermon here:

The answer jumped to mind immediately–I’m redeemed, restored, and made whole by Christ, and I’m utterly devastated to see others in emotional and spiritual bondage. But the good news is, I know the route to freedom! And that is through Jesus Christ, God’s only Son.

May everything I do and say point to that truth, because without Christ, man is and will remain in bondage. For eternity.

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! How would you answer Robert’s questions: Who are you, and what breaks your heart? More importantly, what might God be asking you to do about it? Who can you point to freedom? Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at living by grace on Facebook.

Speaking of freedom, have I sent the Sweet Freedom series? You get them free when you sign up for my (and 7 other authors’) free quarterly newsletter. Although really, we should probably call it an e-zine because it’s much more than news. In truth, it contains very little news, but a SF Front Coverwhole lot of other stuff, life serial story segments, recipes, devotions… Check out our last issue HERE.

And sign up to receive our next issue, and your free PDF copies of our Sweet Freedom series.

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What Labels Have You Owned?

SaraiLabelShe was beautiful, most likely came from a wealthy family, and would one day become the mother of an entire nation. The matriarch of a faith that would completely change the world, revealing God’s plan of redemption and ultimately, leading to the fulfillment of prophesies given since the beginning of time.

But when we meet her in Genesis 11, one label defines her: barren. At a time and in a culture when barrenness was a huge deal. Children were seen as a blessing, a sign of favor, and for these women who were often easily discarded, a promise of stability.

Infertility in any culture can lead to an incredible emptiness and sorrow, but in her day and age, it was downright shameful. In the ancient Middle East, most women didn’t work. They weren’t scholars, didn’t impress others with their deep and lofty thoughts on politics. Nope. They were valued for one thing–their ability to produce an heir.

In the land in which Sarai lived, failure to do so was considered grounds for divorce.

Can you imagine her shame? Despite her wealth and beauty, I envision her walking through the streets of Ur with her head bowed and her heart heavy. Watching the other women with swollen bellies, or infants held to their breast. Listening to mothers talk about how strong and capable their sons are.

Feeling completely isolated and alone. Held in bondage by this one label thrust on her by her peers: barren.

But God saw her differently. To Him, she was His princess, which is what her name (both versions) means. And He’d spend the next six chapters helping her live like His princess, to wear with pride and conviction the label He Himself gave her.

We all have labels: Unwanted. Unlovable. Failure. Tainted.Redeemedpic

Those labels, when latched on to, hinder our walk with Christ. Some, like Sarai’s, are negative. Hurtful, thrust upon us by others, relentlessly whispering to our wounded hearts, “You’re not good enough.” If not diligently fought against, those labels can cling to us long after we’ve been redeemed. And they begin to influence our actions and reactions.

But we, like Sarai, are princesses (or princes, fellas), daughters of the King! Let’s live like the royalty we are. No one can tag a label on to us unless we let them.

Not even us, ourselves.

Ah, so now we’ve come to the root of. Those labels wouldn’t stick unless we believed them–owned them. So how do we resist them? How do we learn to walk like the royalty we, redeemed and cherished children of Christ, are?

We replace our distorted view with truth and focus on who we are in Christ. That’s the only label we should cling to. That’s the only label we should nurture and live out.

Starting next week, a group of Facebook friends and I are going to follow Sarai/Sarah’s journey, inviting God to lead us on a similar trek–that of embracing and living in our true, defining label–daughters of the King. And I invite you to join us.

Speaking of labels, Tuesday I visited Internet Cafe Devotions to talk about those insidious lies we allow to weasel their way into our hearts, wearing us down and keeping us from the incredible joy available through Christ in an article entitled The Battle You Must Win. Read it HERE.

Let’s talk about this. We all, every one of us, have labels we carry around, some we’ve held on to so long, we’ve forgotten they’re even there. The only way, I believe, to shuck those self-defeating labels is to fill our hearts and minds with truth. This week, prayerfully ask God to show you what lies you’ve allowed yourself to hold on to. Ask Him to show you how He sees you, then ask Him to help you view yourself in the same light.

LivingbyGracepicIs there a certain label that jumped out at you when you read today’s post? Has God perhaps already helped you tear off a label from your past? If so, what was it, and how did God help you toss it? Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook. 

YOU Are the Church

Photo by Marcolm taken from freedigitalphotos.net

Photo by Marcolm taken from freedigitalphotos.net

There are numerous articles expounding on all that’s wrong with the church. They’re trying to be too contemporary, too relevant. They’re behind the times. They’re full of hypocrites, ran by hypocrites. They’re too judgmental, or too lenient, or too rigid, or to laxed…

I could go on, but I choose not to.

I’d rather remind us all that WE are the church. We are the ones whom Christ sent out, to help the poor, love our enemies, pray for those who persecute us, to die to ourselves and “to find common ground with everyone, doing everything [we] can to save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22b).

Because let’s face it, our pastors are outnumbered. In a congregation of 500, in a given week, you’ll have those who are sick and in need of visitation, those who are struggling financially and in need of aid, single moms who are lonely and in need of a friend, and I could go on. And on. And on.

Sadly, there will likely always be more needs than resources to meet them. That benevolence fund created to help families in need eventually runs dry, and needs you and I to contribute to it. Because the funds for ministries aimed at showing Christ’s love and helping our communities come from you and I.

As I type this, I’m thinking of Jesus’ advice in Matthew 7:3-5

“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye” (NLT).

The hypocrite, it seems, is the one who criticizes others without taking the time to evaluate themselves, without taking the time to zero in on and remove the plank that’s distorting their vision.

When I do this, when I focus on my vision-distorting plank, I suddenly remember all the times I chose to buy a latte rather than giving to a need. Or when I avoided that which was inconvenient or awkward–the reaching out to a new neighbor, or watching the children of a single mother, or cleaning the house of a shut-in–to do that which was most pleasurable.

Each day, I make selfish, non-loving choices. Each day, I get caught up in my agenda, or my schedule, or even the 5,000 thoughts swirling through my popcorn-kernelling brain. Leaving those I love and want to love hurt in my wake.

And each day, I must confess this selfish side of me to Christ, asking Him to help me do better, to love better, and to better Lovewithactionversereflect who He is.

So let’s drop our pointing fingers, set aside our debates, roll up our sleeves and get to work. Because there’s a big, hurting world out there, a world of incredible needs, and it’s going to take all of us, working together, to meet them. To love them. And to reach this generation for Christ.

Unity of the gospel is a powerful thing.

LivingbyGracepicLet’s talk about this! How do you feel about the points raised in this post? (If you disagree, that’s totally OK! 🙂 ) When have you been tempted to focus on another’s faults or weaknesses, either personally or in relation to their ministry? How did God bring you back to a place of unity? Why do you think people are often quick to point fingers at the church? What are the dangers in doing so?

Share your thoughts with me in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

And before you go, I wanted to introduce you to our newest addition to the Living by Grace team: Susan Aken! My regularly readers are probably fairly familiar with Susan and her writing by now, as I’ve had her on here numerous times. She has such a heart for Christ and such a sweet, humble way of presenting thought provoking truth. She’ll be hosting on Mondays. In the meantime, visit her blog (HERE) and tell her hello!

And, if you haven’t done so, I encourage you to sign up for my (our) free quarterly newsletter. When you do, not only will you receive great content (serial story segments, devotions, recipes, and more!), but you’ll also receive free e-copies of my two compilations: Sweet Freedom With a Slice of Peach Cobbler and Sweet Freedom Ala Mode. So sign up now! 🙂 (If you’ve already signed up but didn’t receive your free copy yet, please let me know! I’ve had some emails bounce back on me.)

 

Focusing on and Living Your Purpose

Created a new verse picKnowing why we are here changes everything… if that reason is true, valid, and big enough to carry all the muck. I was thinking about this very thing yesterday, as I pushed through some physical challenges. Thinking how all this gunk, (and we’ve all got our gunk) would feel utterly pointless and defeating, if not for my mission in Christ.

Knowing–and living–our purpose changes everything. Today my sweet friend and Author photoone of my most cherished critique partners Marji Lane shares her thoughts on this liberating and life-infusing subject this morning.

The Purpose of Our Lives by Marji Lane

I saw a tweet the other day that apparently quoted the Dali Lama. According to the tweeter, the purpose of our lives is to be happy.

Really? What a self-absorbed, empty life that is. It’s all about me being happy. That means whatever it takes to make ME happy, that’s what I should do because my purpose is to enjoy happiness.

Yikes. No wonder folks are so messed up.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I know wrong ones when I see them. I don’t care how often-quoted or sincere a person is; wrong is just wrong.

Purpose for our lives goes back to creation. Why were humans made in the first place?

“Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” Genesis 1:26. And in the third chapter, in the midst of the first sin, the man and the woman “heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day …. Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?”

Sounds like Adam and Eve had a habit of walking with God in the cool of the evening. So much so, that when they weren’t there, He called out to them. (Not that He didn’t know what was going on.) All this leads me to believe they were created to be the Lord’s companions. That identifies where I should be putting my effort now.

I need to make sure I cultivate that ongoing relationship with my Heavenly Father.Draw Near verse pic

In addition, Christ gave instruction to share the good news of His gift of eternal life. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” Matthew 28:19.

Another purpose for my being here is to share the amazing love and grace of the Father, the sacrifice of Christ, and the good news of our adoption into God’s family. I find this purpose difficult to act on. I’m not naturally an evangelist – I don’t have that gift of the Spirit. Yet, regardless of how comfortable I feel doing it, I am still called to share.

I do have one other purpose, one that falls more fully into my forte. Whereas I don’t have the spiritual gift of evangelism, I do have the gift of exhortation. The apostle Paul, through the Holy Spirit’s prompting, urges us to encourage one another in Christ and build up His Body, the Church. (1 Thessalonians 5:11) I am called to find ways to support other believers, to strengthen them as they act in accord with the Lord’s work and will. My words need to be full of grace and love, with the intent to renew the spirits of my brothers and sisters. Especially when they are struggling for the cause of Christ.

This certainly gives more depth and satisfaction than to simply “be happy.” And all of my actions should fulfill my purposes.

  • Learn about the Father through scripture and spend time with Him in prayer, listening to the Spirit’s urging to follow as closely to Him as I can.
  • Sharing the truth that I’ve learned with hurting people who desperately need to know of the hope and love they can have through Christ’s sacrifice.
  • Encouraging other believers with my words and actions—”Speak to one another with songs, hymns, and spiritual songs.” Ephesians 5:19—in order to strengthen the body of Christ.

Looking at these in a nutshell, I see I’m not in the center of any of them. My desires are focused on others and on the Lord. That type of focus brings true satisfaction and joy. Especially when the quest for joy isn’t the point of what I’m doing.

Your turn: How do you define your purpose?

Marji Laine is a homeschooling mom with teenage twins left in the nest. An independent author with her debut novel, GRIME BEAT, just released, she spends her non-writing times transporting to and from volleyball, teaching writing classes at a local coop, and directing the children’s music program at her church. Raised in suburban Dallas, she got her first taste of writing through the stories of brilliant authors of their day, Mignon Eberhart and Phyllis A. Whitney, and through stage experience. After directing and acting in productions for decades, Marji started writing her own scripts. From that early beginning, she delved into creating scintillating suspense with a side of Texas sassy. She invites readers to unravel their inspiration, seeking a deeper knowledge of the Lord’s Great Mystery that invites us all.

imgresGrime Beat:

Her best friend missing, every cell in Dani Foster’s body screams something is wrong.

Crime scene cleaning is the perfect job for relocated Dani Foster. But her orders to maintain a low profile and stay out of trouble mean little when her friend goes missing. Suspicions point to the handsome crime scene specialist, Jay Hunter, but he’s also the only person willing to help Dani. Dare she trust him even when lies seem to surround him?

Dani amuses Jay. Her penchant for speaking and acting without regard to the consequences land her in the funniest situations. But her latest moves have thrust her into serious danger. As he learns more about her circumstances, the stakes rise until her very life is on the line. He has no time or inclination for romance, but this girl needs him, and she seems to have no one else. How can he turn his back?

This is the first episode of this Christian Mystery and Romance series set in Dallas, Texas. Dani’s troubles and Jay’s attraction are only just beginning!

Buy it HERE!

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! Have you discovered your purpose? The reason you’re here? Are you living it? What things tend to distract you from living out your purpose? What activities or verses help you to remain diligent and focused on your purpose? Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

And before you go… have you signed up for my (and 7 other authors) free quarterly newsletter? If not, wanna? You’ll receive free serial story segments, recipes, devotions, and more!

(Check out our last edition HERE!)

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