Life on Purpose: Being Courageous

Written by: Emily Pelley

I have always been intimidated by the idea of courage. Whenever I heard that someone was courageous, I always pictured a strong, powerful individual who despite all odds persevered through a challenge. Having recently watched the new Wonder Woman movie, that character embodies what I always thought courage looked like. For a long time I never considered myself a courageous person because I was fearful. I saw a challenge and I felt afraid. And while sometimes I was successful, I always thought I missed the “courageous mark” because of my fear.

The mistake I made was thinking that courage is an absence of fear, when in fact that is not true. Courage is the resolve to move forward despite fear.

Joshua 1:9 says,
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Here is we see that we are commanded to be courageous. We are also commanded to not be afraid. Being afraid means we are in a state of fear where it controls us and guides our actions. This is what we are instructed to overcome. However, we are not asked to conquer fear through our own awesomeness. Look at the end of this verse. Be courageous and don’t be afraid because God will be with us wherever we go.

There is so much we can be afraid of. Maybe it’s just me, but I find this to be an easy, default reaction to many parts of life: relationships, motherhood, finances, etc. But a life lived on purpose is not characterized by fearful decisions but powerful ones. In 2 Timothy 1:7 we are reminded that as followers of Jesus, the spirit that we have been given by God is not defined by fear, but by power, love, and self-discipline.

Does this mean that you will now never be afraid? No. But being courageous means that we will move forward despite the fear that could so easily cripple us. We move forward because we do not go alone. This beautiful saviour, Jesus, has given us the greatest call- to know Him and walk with Him, whatever may come our way. This is the picture of a life on purpose.

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow’.”
Mary Anne Radmacher

Life on Purpose: Snapshot

Written by: Emily Pelley

I recently downloaded transcription software on my computer. The purpose of it was to take audio files and transfer them in to text. How it does this is the software will search your computer and try to learn how you talk and what words and subjects you use often. I even had to read one of its prescribed texts so that it could learn my voice and intonation.

Pretty impressive, right? A great idea in theory, I grant you. But sadly it failed; comically failed. When I uploaded an audio file to be transcribed, the text that was produced had NOTHING to do with the audio content! After I had a good laugh, I uninstalled the software and got on with my work.

As I read the garbled text that was produced, I noticed that there were definitely some themes. Looking at this text you could see what I spend a lot of my time talking about and working on: babies, Jesus, refugees, love, gluten free, trafficking, church. While the final product didn’t make sense, I could see that it had drawn from real emails and documents on my computer.

This got me thinking. What would it look like if this transcription software could be used on your life? What words would be drawn to the surface? What attitudes? What dreams?

In the book of Luke, chapter 6, it says this:

45 A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.

If we are going to live life on purpose, we need to look deeply and honestly at where we have placed our heart because from it will come the rest of our lives.

Life on Purpose: Compassion

Written by: Emily Pelley

I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea of compassion. What is it that moves us beyond feeling to action? We see so much heartache through our news channels, on social media, and right here in our own neighborhoods. The overwhelming deluge of pain often leaves you feeling stunned. And so we are often left in paralyzed apathy, never thinking we can actually do something to make a difference.

I know I have been guilty of this- of turning my gaze away from what I thought was an indistinguishable haze of pain. That was someone else’s problem, someone else’s mistakes, someone else’s misfortune. Yet in my bible I read that it is to “the least of these” (Matt 25:40) that I am called to show love and compassion. Because the spirit of God in me actually has the power to set people free. Because, after all…that’s what He did for me.

The purpose of God’s presence with us is not for us to be some silent, passive observer. I do not believe that Jesus came to earth to die just so that we could have something to do on a Sunday morning. Jesus came to earth to change EVERYTHING.

Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him. Matt 20:34

If we are to live our lives on purpose, we do need to be people of compassion. Let compassion grow in your heart. Allow yourself to be affected by the needs around you, and ask God to show you what you can do to make a difference. Though we have missed the point if we think it is not “big” or “important” enough to bother doing. There is something we all can contribute to our world. Let’s be compassionate people not just in word but in deed.

“Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion and anguish.” Henri Nouwen

Life on Purpose- The Weakness of Control

Written by: Emily Pelley

How much of our lives do we spend trying to get things under control? Get a handle on what we need to do, who we need to be, what our lives should look like… As I have grown, and as people and responsibilities have been added to my life, I have been faced with the stark reality that I cannot control everything…I can’t keep it all going on my own.

Trying to control of everything has never ended well for me. It’s like trying to straighten your hair on a really humid, foggy day- frustrating and, ultimately, fruitless.

The point in living a life on purpose, however, is to understand that your life is a part of something much bigger than you and yours. God’s plan for humanity- to save anyone who would believe in His Son- is far bigger than our individual stories and circumstances. He has woven together the story of the universe with intricate detail. His purposes are not confined to the limitations of our understanding and physical vision, yet He goes out of His way to include you in the everyday of His plan. Such an amazing idea- it seems so illogical for such grace to be extended to us.

In the book of 2 Corinthians 12:9, it says: Each time [God] said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

I know in my life that it is when I’ve let go of control- when I’ve released the need to know and understand everything that was happening around me – that I’ve seen God step in and do more and better than I ever could. It is when we lose control that we see God at work more than when we were scrambling to handle things on our own. So when the bible says- in our weakness He is made strong- He is calling us to acknowledge that we can’t plan out our lives, nor can we fathom the expanse of His purposes for our lives.

The only thing we can control is where we turn for our source- where we focus our eyes (Psalm 27:13, 14). When we do that- when we choose to trust in God’s power in our lives- we are given the hope of a purposeful God who promises to work everything together for the good of those who love Him (Rom 8:28). Perhaps this is what it looks like when our weakness- or our desire for control- is replaced with His strength?

When Church Girls Meet Jesus

Written By: Emily Pelley and June Zinck

As women in our 20’s, we sisters have been reflecting on how our relationship with our mother has impacted us. We grew up in a home where creativity was encouraged- where bright nail polish, blue eye shadow, and red shoes put a smile on your face. The thinking was not to place enormous value on such silly, superficial things, but to acknowledge that God has created us each with our own flare that we need to embrace. Our happy home fostered a space for us to grow in our relationship with Jesus and to adopt the identity that God, not our culture, gives us. We are defined as daughters of the King, not slaves to our culture’s shifting standards. As women, this was a particularly profound gift that both our parents gave to us.

What usually happens as we grow is that our creative, fun-loving flare fades- whether life beats it out of us, or we let it go…often as a result of conforming to the status quo.

Our mother modelled for us what a woman of God looks like both in the church and in our community. Loving people, serving people, praying for people- pretty simple. Settling for a “normal” Christian life that consists of Sunday church attendance and no cussing, was never an option. In fact, she would repeat to us over and over- “God has more for you”. This Christian life is not about religion, but it thrives from a relationship with Jesus Christ.

We remember on our bathroom door growing up that mom hung a quote which said,
“Well-behaved women rarely make history”.
While she was hardly an advocate for “bad” behaviour, she always believed God was big enough for us to be ourselves, no matter how outside the box we appeared.

Now as grown women, we can see that our outlook on life and faith has been significantly shaped by this mantra- “God has more for you”. We had the opportunity of attending the Hillsong Women’s Colour conference together in London in 2010, where God really spoke to each of us about our responsibility to the women around us- to pull them up, to speak the truth of God’s grace and love and power into their lives. We have each pursued this in our different ways, though carrying the sweet memory of how God used that moment together to empower us.

As adults, the three of us continue to speak into each other’s lives, encouraging this scandalous trust in God that no matter how outrageous or far from the norm His call may be, we are empowered daughters of the King who equips us for the task.

What has been extraordinary to see is how God took our mother’s obedience to God’s call on her life to multiply favor in both of us. This favor is not for our gain, but for the gain of God’s people- that we can draw others into this fulfilling relationship with Jesus. Remembering that God doesn’t ask for us to have a plan- He asks for us to be available.

There is an endless frontier of God’s limitless love and grace that is left for us to explore. Be encouraged today…because God has more for you.

Happy Mother’s Day, Doretta Zinck!

Life on Purpose: Mighty

Written by: Emily Pelley

A few years ago, I began exploring creative writing as a way to express my ideas and my passions. This poem was the first one I wrote, and I would like to share it with you now. I hope it will encourage you this week as you resolve to live your life on purpose.

What is your dream? What is it- that passion of your heart,
The part that defines, delights and ignites you?
What miracles do you cry out for?
To see that life restored?
That broken mess, that hurt
That chasm that seems so impossible to overpass on your own

So what keeps us from asking? From pressing? From confessing?
What holds back our heart-broken cries to a God who can satisfy
Any need, desire, passion, or plee?
What stops us?
Fear? Afraid of an answer we can’t accept? Or worse…of silence

Fear of our own weakness can hold back our passion
I hear the competing chorus of voices in my head
Singing the tunes of expectations and responsibilities
And the casualties of past discrepancies that have their hold on me
Reminding me I have tried and failed before

It is here we often stop- dumfounded by the scoffers,
Living ordinary lives that in truth deny the power afforded us
Lives of half-attempts, of passionless efforts
Of doing the expected, and expecting so little from a life
Plagued by apathy

And as we stay in this comfortable place of bland Christianity
Where we’ve settled for something similar, while denying the reality
Of our great God who is mighty
We have missed the message

For we serve a God who has power to save
Who secured our victory when He walked out of the grave
And all He desires for us is to crave… Him

This revelation exposes the core of our fears- we have forgotten Whom we are serving!
We’ve put ourselves as the captains
Of this life, we control, not seeking God for direction
Believing our sin is more powerful than His resurrection

But I am no slave to sin, my past does not define this life within
Not since Christ came
He took the punishment that was in my name
And said- “Hey, this one is mine- I’ll take her place”

SO my challenge to you is to step back and consider
The picture of just Who this Saviour is
As the power and majesty of this God who is ALL MIGHTY
Captures your heart,
Your part of the story will never be the same

Because when your focus is locked on this God who is mighty
And the fear creeps back, as it always does
And the barrage of voices trying to sabotage your choices
Tries overtaking you again…

From your heart that is hidden in the cleft, in the haven
There will come a resounding response that will overshadow the fear
Over take the situation, and overcome all remaining trepidation-

Who is this King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle!
Psalm 24:8

Life on Purpose: A Person at Peace

Written by: Emily Pelley

I don’t know about you, but it is a rare moment these days when I feel at peace. Life seems to dissolve into a flurry of appointments and commitments; busy working hard, taking care of your family, and trying to show love to the people around you. I’ve been grappling with the question of what it means to be at peace. I mean, it is one of the attributes we can have as followers of Christ (Gal 5:22). So why is it such an elusive concept? How important is it for living a life on purpose?

In the book Ephesians, the writer talks about what the “armour of God” looks like- that is, the characteristics and strengths that we as followers of Jesus get to walk in every day. The belt of truth, the body armour of God’s righteousness, the shield of faith…but one verse has stuck out to me recently is verse 15:

“For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News, so that you will be fully prepared”.

Ok, so what does this mean exactly?

I heard a pastor preach on peace once, and he made this point that I’ll never forget. He said that wearing the shoes of peace does not mean you are busy making things happen, but instead you are walking forward with the knowledge of what God has already done. Wow. Think about that. This is an intentional decision, one that we make despite how we are feeling. In wearing the “shoes of peace” it means that we stop striving and trying harder to be “at peace”. We need to understand that the God we serve wants to be our peace (Ps 85:8). Living life on purpose requires us to be taken care of, and not burn out before our purpose is fulfilled. If we trust God with our destiny, we need to also trust Him for the sustaining power to arrive there.

Peace is not an attitude- it is a person. Peace exists in the person of Jesus Christ. The solution to our search for peace is found when we open our hearts to a relationship with Him- to talk to Him, to learn about Him, and to spend time in His presence.

The question is- do you believe it? Do you believe that God has already taken care of whatever seems to be robbing you of peace? You see, the peace we all so desperately want in our lives is not going to come by working harder, trying harder- no. Having perfect peace in our lives means placing Jesus at the centre of our world- where all our relationships, decisions, and priorities pivot around the most wonderful, beautiful God of the universe who asks us to know Him. He wants to be your peace today (1 Pet 5:7). Not your last resort or your sounding board…though He will be those things for you too…He wants to know you and be known by you every minute of every day. Let Him fill your life with joy and peace (Rom 15:13).

So this week, I ask you to join me. Let’s remind ourselves every day that God is our peace. Speak out that verse in Psalms 46:10- “Be still and know that I am God”. Let’s walk forward in the knowledge of what God has already done for us. And let’s remind ourselves that perfect peace is only found in knowing and walking with Jesus.

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
Isa 26:3

Life on Purpose: What do you see?

Written by: Emily Pelley

There is a story in the Old Testament that has always captivated my imagination. Perhaps it is because I’m a dreamer and love picturing some of the staggering miracles God displayed in the Bible. But this one story in 2 Kings 6 always leaves me amazed. It’s a story about a prophet- Elisha- and his servant. In this story, Elisha has made an enemy of an evil king from Aram. You see, Elisha had this annoying habit of prophetically revealing the plans this evil king had against Israel to the Israeli king, thus keeping Israel prepared for any attempted invasion. Finally, at the end of his rope, this evil king finds out where Elisha is staying and sends his ENTIRE army to surround that city in order to capture and kill Elisha. So, on that morning, Elisha’s servant wakes up, opens the window, and instead of seeing the beautiful view of mountains and valleys lit by the rising sun, he sees the Aramean army and he knows they are here for his master.

Let’s pause here – can any of you relate to this moment? That feeling when you realize that you are surrounded? That the fear you have been carrying for a long time is now staring you in the face? Maybe you are there right now. You are dumfounded by the scale in which the enemy of your life has come at you and you feel helpless and alone.

But wait! This is not where the story ends. Let’s look at what happens next.

So the servant runs inside to tell Elisha that they are surrounded. He believes he is bringing the news that will cause his master to panic; to realize that it is all over and that they are as good as dead. But here is what happens next:

16 Elisha answered, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 Then Elisha prayed and said, “Lord, please, open his eyes that he may see.” And the Lord opened the servants eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire surrounding Elisha. 18 When the Arameans came down to him, Elisha prayed to the Lord and said, ‘Please strike this people with blindness.” And God struck them with blindness, in accordance with Elisha’s request.

WHAT?! Imagine the servant looking at an enemy more vast than he could compute, and then to be shown an even bigger army surrounding them! An army that was on his side! Can you imagine the relief he felt in that moment?!

The story goes on to tell us that Elisha went out to meet the now blind army, and lead them to the city in which ALL of Israel’s army was encamped. At this moment, God took their blindness away and they realized what had happened. But instead of having them all killed, God told Elisha to give the army a feast and send them on their way, which he did. And that army was never seen in Israel again (can you blame them?!).

I think this is God making a point- that the enemy that was terrifying and impossible to defeat, He now gives them a meal and sends them home. You see, He was never afraid. He never worried if He could get Elisha out of that mess. The stage was set for Him to show everyone who was God. And He did not disappoint.

I share this story with you to encourage you. Do not be intimidated out of living life on purpose; intimidated out of doing what is in your heart to do for God. He has called you, He will give you what you need, and He will confuse the enemy’s plan against you (Deut 28:7). Part of living life on purpose is understanding from whom we receive our purpose. We follow the same God who diverted an entire army to save one man who was devoted to Him. Does your vision need to be expanded to see where God’s army is in your situation? Ask God to show you- to remind you that He will never leave you alone. Let’s hold tight to this truth the psalmist writes,

God is bedrock under my feet, the castle in which I live, my rescuing knight. 
My God—the high crag  where I run for dear life, hiding behind the boulders, safe in the granite hideout. Psalm 18:2 (MSG)

Life on Purpose: The Power in Resolve

Written by: Emily Pelley

One distinguishing feature of people who are living life on purpose is resolve. Resolve to complete their mission, to pursue their calling, and to reach the finish line.

What are you passionate about? Do you dare to imagine a world different than the one you are in now? One without injustice? One where hurting people are made whole? The truth is that we who have chosen to follow Jesus have been given a clear mandate- to share God’s love with our hurting world. While this is a straight-forward sentence, it is not a simple task. In order for us to see this become reality, we need to be a people of resolve; people who are committed to work and to sacrifice because we have placed this mission ahead of our own comfort or ambitions.

The definition of resolve is to decide firmly on a course of action. A more detailed definition states that resolve means- “to progress from dissonance (a tension or clash resulting from the combination of two disharmonious or unsuitable elements) to consonance (agreement or compatibility between opinions or actions)”.

Let’s think about this- resolve is to progress from tension to compatibility; from disharmony to harmony. Therefore, resolve does not originate from a place of strength or clarity. This means that you don’t have to wait until you are better or stronger, or have everything together, before you can follow Jesus completely- quite the contrary! What makes resolve so powerful is the commitment to push through the tension and struggle until there is unity; until there is resolution.

In the book of Psalms 119:1,2 it says:
You’re blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God. You’re blessed when you follow his directions, doing your best to find him.

It is clear here that following God’s instructions will only benefit you. But what I love is that it doesn’t stop there. In verses 7 and 8, the psalmist says:
I thank you for speaking straight from your heart;  I learn the pattern of your righteous ways. I’m going to do what you tell me to do;  don’t ever walk off and leave me.

It is amazing that God doesn’t just ask us to be resolved to live out our calling, but He speaks directly to our hearts and gives us the encouragement we need to keep going. The key in all this is to not depend on our strength to be “resolved”, but to allow the powerful, wonder saviour named Jesus Christ to be the strength in our resolve. What does that look like? It means daily (sometimes hourly!) talking to Him, asking for His help, taking time to rest in His presence- thinking about who He is and everything He has done for you.

Let me encourage you today that even though life is chaotic and stressful- maybe you are dealing with a lot of dysfunction or hurt right now- this is not the place to give up! This is the place to become resolved. Right here- in the middle of the mess. I know you are tired. You may feel helpless and alone. But you are not alone! In Exodus 33:14, God reminds us- “My presence will go with you. I’ll see the journey to the end.” So continue on! Resolve that you will live your life on purpose, allowing our faithful God to bring you through.

Take a moment, listen to this song, and remind yourself of the amazing God who is here with you! (You make me brave- Bethel Music)

Life on Purpose: God’s Love Never Quits

Written by: Emily Pelley

As I have grown up going to church, one of the hardest things I had to get my head around was God’s love for me. It was always this big, wonderful, mind-blowing reality. Kind of like looking out at the vast expanse of the ocean, or a snow-capped mountain range on a clear day- the immense scale of it can’t be taken in all at once.

But what does it mean for me? How does it impact my daily life?

There are so many amazing things about God’s love, but I find the main thing we as humans get stuck on is the fact that there is nothing we have to do to earn this love. Doesn’t matter how good or well-behaved you are, whether you have just messed up big time or have a list of mistakes that spans a lifetime- God’s love for you is complete, it is perfect, and it is all yours (Rom 8:38-39).

God loves you. You. The way you are. Reading this right now, He loves everything about you. The reason he sent Jesus to die on a cross was for you, so He could know you, and so you could know Him (Rom 5:8). You see, we get to be connected with this wonderful, loving God. His love has created a way for us to talk to Him, depend on Him, and give our hearts to Him. Nothing in this life will fulfill you like having this connection with God. I dare you to consider what that could mean for your life, if you haven’t already…

“Jesus loves me” is my daughter’s favorite song right now. When she is tired or upset, if I start singing that song, she calms right down. It is amazing to me how much truth is in that little children’s song. If we could only get those truths embedded in our hearts…that though we may be weak, He is strong! And He offers His strength to us. I love how Luke puts it in the book of Acts 20:24:

What matters most to me is to finish what God started: the job the Master Jesus gave me of letting everyone I meet know all about this incredibly extravagant generosity of God.

Have you ever considered what it was that kept Jesus on His mission while He was here on earth? In the face of threats, social rejection, and ultimately death? Yes we know that Jesus was fully God and fully man, so what that tells us is that Jesus’ strategy for staying on purpose is one that we need to take note of, because if there was anyone who had every right to give up, it was Him. And yet He kept going, kept loving, and kept serving.

Take a moment to read Psalm 136. Thirteen times in this one psalm, the line repeats- “God’s love endures forever”. I wonder if God is trying to get something across to us here…

In the Message version, it reads, “His love never quits”:
23-26 God remembered us when we were down,
    His love never quits.
 Rescued us from the trampling boot,
    His love never quits.
 Takes care of everyone in time of need.
    His love never quits.
 Thank God, who did it all!
    His love never quits!

So, what kept Jesus focused on His mission?
God’s love never quits.
What is going to sustain you through everything life will through at you and your family?
God’s love never quits.

You are loved by a God whose love is perfect and powerful! As you live your life with purpose, don’t forget to rely on this truth for strength and courage. Every day, remind yourself that you are loved and valued, and that your purpose is ultimately to be connected with the God who created you. Stand tall and walk confidently today knowing that…God’s love never quits.