Christian Living · faith

Expectation

Ephesians 3:20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us

I saw this quote:

Peace begins when expectation ends. -Sri Chinmoy

I disagree.

I understand the statement. Expectation is a huge killer of relationships. It often causes a lot of disappointment and heartache. But, that’s not where peace begins.

Jesus (Yeshua) is our peace.

God gives a peace that passes understanding. How?

Philippians 4:6-7 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Prayer.

1 John 5:14-15 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

Asking according to God’s will. His word is His will.

Psalm 100:5 For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

And one of my favorite verses…

Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Putting this together tells me expectation in Him is where my peace begins. God is love, good, faithful, just, righteous, omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. He is the I AM. Although there have been times I’ve felt disappointed, He has never let me down. The enemy has delivered some big hits. Thankfully, Abba has been with me through it all.

I used to expect bad things. I’d lived in the dredges of despair, looking for the next negative experience. If it didn’t come I created it through (unintentional) self sabotage. I got used to hurting.

How many of us create our own storms through faulty thinking and then complain about the rain? Far too many.

Today, I want to leave you with a question and challenge. First, what are you expecting from God (or are you) in your life? We don’t serve Him to simply receive, however, His promises are true. There are blessings for obedience.

Second, I leave you with a charge of expectation in God’s promises. No, I’m not suggesting a name it, claim it mentality. But, when we pray according to His will, He hears and answers. He gives good and withholds no good thing (see Psalm 84:11.) Peace that passes understanding is ours.

I don’t know who Sri Chinmoy is. But, he/she is wrong.

Peace begins when expectation in God starts.

Expect today.

Numbers 23:19 ESV God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?

2 Corinthians 1:20 ESV For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.

Hebrews 10:23 ESV Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

Christian Living · faith

Check Please

Acts 16:6-7 And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them.

A friend just experienced a painful relationship breakup. At one point this couple was speaking of marriage. Now, my friend is brokenhearted and trying to move forward. They really felt at one point like God brought them together. There was peace. Others saw it too. But, the other person then didn’t. They felt a “check.”

Check please.

I had a brief message exchange with them, and the following questions were discussed:

How do you know when the Holy Spirit is leading? What’s the difference between checks or cautions vs fear and our emotions?

I’ve said before-and even wrote a blog in the past-on how God leads by peace. And He does. However, that doesn’t mean our flesh and feelings don’t get in the way. Having the perfect mind of Christ is a lifelong process of renewal and refining. All of us mess up. So, is there a litmus test to know when it’s the Ruach (Spirit) vs our hearts?

Not foolproof but pretty much.

Relationships are especially tricky. Separating soul from spirit isn’t easy. We are given free will and the ability to make rational choices. I do believe the more we involve God, the better. But we don’t need to seek Him on what color shoes to wear or what restaurant to eat at (in general.)

What I’ve discovered is…

  • God speaks through His word.
  • God speaks through people (though discernment is needed here.)
  • Nature.
  • Circumstances.
  • Nudges or confirmations.
  • Dreams and visions.
  • Provision.
  • Peace.
  • Lack of peace/caution.

What I ask myself is:

  • Will this glorify God?
  • Does this align with scripture?
  • Have there been confirmations?
  • Is there provision?

I’ve felt fear in my flesh before but knew it was God. The way I can tell is by praying and doing a little digging.

OK, so I’m feeling uneasy. Why am I feeling this way? What thought comes to mind when praying about it?

Am I focusing on the giant more than God?

There’s no formula for this. I wish there was. However, most of the time through prayer and reflection I’m able to determine if it’s my fear or a godly caution.

If it’s something scriptural, glorifies Him, and is in love then it’s almost always good.

I don’t believe in accidents. We meet the people we do for a reason. All too often we are quick to dismiss someone who was placed in our path for a specific reason. Not everyone is meant to be in our lives for a lifetime. But some are. That’s why I believe it’s so important to seek God on all of our close relationships.

But there’s still an uneasiness?

Pray. Ask God for confirmation. He will give it, one way or the other. Be patient.

Today, I want to encourage you to seek God regarding your relationships. Right connections are very important. For some of you, bad company is corrupting good character. For others of you, you may need to forgive someone and reconcile. Or perhaps you need to reevaluate the type of relationship you have with someone. Maybe you are considering marriage and are uncertain. I’ll say it again, pray. Read the Word. Seek godly counsel from wise, mature people.

One final thing I’ll pass on here. I’ve learned that, in general, we are to love others and live at peace with all people (as far as it depends on us.) Usually it is best not to cut someone out of our lives unless there’s gross sin or extreme behavior involved. But again, it takes seeking God earnestly especially in a covenant relationship like marriage.

Checks can be a wonderful thing. The Spirit leads us when we yield to Him. However, sometimes the check is just our fear. Know the difference.

Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Galatians 5:16 ESV But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

Hebrews 5:14 ESV But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

Christian Living · faith

Pain Baby

Psalm 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

*For whoever needs it…

The entire immediate family went to church today. Yes, I attend a Sunday church (for you Messianics out there.) I have visited a couple of Messianic congregations on Sabbaths in the past. But…

  • My family needs a congregation close to home
  • My oldest son’s low functioning autism needs
  • My son’s autism needs again
  • And more of my son’s needs
  • Tolerable doctrine
  • Decent fellowship
  • Loving, servant attitude

That is what my husband and I look at when searching for a fellowship. My son’s autism behaviors are so challenging that we have not been going together anywhere as a family for over two years. It’s simply too challenging. Finding reliable PCAs is tough. So, we took the risk. I sat with my oldest in a cry room with a handful of other families. It was overall OK, though there were a few rough moments.

Pastor Jonathan’s sermon stopped me in my tracks. In honesty, I was only partially paying attention to the service until I heard a couple of things that pierced…

Bitter or better?

Don’t nurture your pain like you nurture your life.

This was a message on forgiveness and learning not to hold onto pain. My ears perked up when I heard this, and I sense a few need to read this too.

Women, in general, struggle to let go much more so than men.

No men have ever asked the pastor to pray for an ex after a certain period of time or say things like, “I know it’s been 5 years but…” or, “I know they’re remarried but I’m still believing for us to get back together.” He’s seen men hurt worse than women at first when their heart is broken. However, they can separate themselves from the pain much quicker. Men tend to recover faster.

Women struggle to let go. Many women ask for prayer regarding a person or pain they’re carrying in their heart. Sometimes for many years. There’s a place for praying in persistence. But, it’s not healthy to stay grieving year after year.

No human deserves authority over your life to the point where they control your joy, hope, and overall well being.

Your destiny will not come from past pain. God will bring good from it, but He desires us to be whole.

When the pastor said, “There are women in particular who need to let go today” I knew it was for me. God began speaking to me about two specific situations. My son’s autism and relationships tied to a past trauma.

He is going to use (and has used) my struggles with my son to help others and deepen compassion and humility in me. There is a relationship that may be mended, but as a whole I need to let go. I must stop nursing the pain baby.

It’s time to wean.

Some of you, not to sound insensitive, just need to cease feeding the pain. Forgive. That person or persons may never say sorry or do what you want them to. When we stay bitter and wounded we chain ourselves to the person or event. And no human is worth being in chains over. Not when we are free in Christ.

John 8:36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Matthew 6:14-15 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves. Give it to yourself today. You may have been very wounded, but let Abba deal with it. I’ve done things I repented of. As for “them”, that’s between them and God. Let Him decide who deserves what.

Whoever your “them” is, let it go. Sometimes God takes people out of our lives permanently. We need to thank Him on our knees for those instances. He knows best. Other times reconciliation does happen BUT when it glorifies Him. Bad company corrupts good character.

Stop nursing the pain baby. Put God back on the throne of your life. Let Him be in control, not your emotions and past pain.

He will redeem it all somehow. In some way. In His time. Until then, focus on the gift of the present. Don’t let something you can’t control (the past) rob you of what you can control.

Forward in faith. Give God the pain baby now.

Christian Living · faith

Healthy Relationships

Matthew 5:41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.

*I’m opening up in this blog in the hopes of helping others who need it and can relate.

Codependency: a relationship pattern where you focus on others at your own expense.

Learned helplessness: the result of repeatedly rescuing people from the natural consequences of their behavior.

Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”

Years ago I was told by a therapist I have PTSD. It came from several things, but the main source was the stress involving my son’s low functioning autism. He has very challenging behaviors. Destructive ones. Exhausting ones. I want to pull out my hair-ones.

Some people kind of knew how bad the stress was (and is.) But very few truly do, if any. They don’t live with us. On top of that other trials were going on. I broke. It was hard. Embarrassing. Painful. And I had little support to help me recover.

As I was turning to scripture for healing and wellness, I hit an unexpected roadblock.

Just what exactly is a healthy relationship?

Trauma changes a person. Proper healing reverses the damage, and hopefully leaves the person better than before the injury. But, in my situation, I’m still in the stress. So…I need to learn how to cope. And it’s not easy. Some people in particular mislabeled it as unhealthy behavior and enablement when it’s a hurting person drowning in stress. My family is under supported.

When you feel overwhelmed and inadequate long enough it causes deep pain. Anxiety. Exhaustion. Expressing emotions can be intense if not careful.

Going back to the scripture roadblock, I was trying to reconcile my circumstances with what I was told in therapy with what scripture says.

  • Turn the other cheek
  • Give when asked to
  • Bear other’s burdens
  • Lay down your life
  • Sacrifice
  • Be humble
  • Forgiving
  • Kind
  • Generous

All good stuff…except…

I’m processing trauma and stress. I in general am huge on boundaries. Very much so. Trauma injured that. I’ve healed and grown in this area tremendously. But of course I’m still being refined as we all are, if we allow the Spirit to.

My therapist had said in the past it’s a fine line. People offering support or me asking for it vs codependency and learned helplessness. Yes, there’s trauma and needs. However, it’s important I’m doing all I can to cope. I can’t mistreat someone, cross a boundary, or depend too much on others in the name of Christianity.

Love considers what is best, not what is convenient.

This goes both ways. I consider the other person and the other person considers me. We don’t live just for ourselves, being self centered, but we don’t bail out a person every time either. There’s balance. Love involves sacrifice, but not at the expense of our own well being (in general.)

We have to be healthy in order to help others be so.

Today, I want to encourage you to find biblical balance in your relationships. Love others. However, don’t allow bad company to corrupt good morals either. Set healthy boundaries. Learn when to say no and yes. Realize that sometimes a hurting person can look a lot like a “bad” or unhealthy person. Proper discernment and judging with right judgment is key here.

One question I’ve learned to humbly ask myself and we need to of others is…

Is it a matter of can’t or won’t?

Sometimes a person truly cannot. Coming a person’s direction to support in some instances can help them be more self sufficient and bring dignity. In other cases, we are causing learned helplessness as they need to just take action.

People need people. God made us to be in community. As long as community involves imperfect people (it always does) there will be issues. May we love others with the love of Christ and do to others what we’d like them to do to us. Realize some are healthier than others. Give grace and always know God loves us too much to leave us as we are.

Ephesians 4:22-24 ESV to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Colossians 3:8-9, 12-15 ESV But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

Christian Living · faith

Wisdom

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Recently several situations came up that really challenged me. I hear the Spirit’s voice pretty well. But I was a bit stumped. One particular case pierced and tugged at my emotions. I felt this “need” to do something. However, I didn’t know what that something was. I needed wisdom.

And when we are most tempted to do something is usually when we should especially show restraint.

Wisdom comes from God.

There’s a wisdom that comes from experience and age. But then there’s a wisdom that’s divine-almost prophetic or discerning. It contains insight from God, something that only God knows that is revealed in some way. Whether it’s a dream, vision, word, phrase, picture, or perhaps special understanding of the details regarding something or someone. Simply put, it takes knowledge and reveals the application.

Sometimes wisdom doesn’t come with ease. Circumstances arise from time to time where there isn’t a clear verse for it. But, I believe there’s always some spiritual application and example in scripture even if it’s just broadly.

I spoke to a wise, godly woman about one situation. Something she said reminded me of this verse…

Proverbs 26:17 Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears.

There’s a place to confront. But, we must be careful that we choose battles wisely. After I spoke to the lady the Holy Spirit told me, in essence, not to take up another’s conflict. I was carrying a burden that wasn’t my own. That was why I felt distressed. When I released it in prayer, peace came to me.

Bearing one another’s burden isn’t bearing one another’s conflict.

Today, I want to encourage you to seek wisdom. Read the Bible daily. Read at least one chapter of the book of Proverbs too. Wisdom first and foremost comes from Abba. However, there’s safety in the multitude of counsellors per Proverbs 11:14. Go to two or three trusted, godly people who are seasoned and live with integrity when you’re stumped. Pray. Be still in His presence.

In the end, we’re human. If I pray, read my Bible, seek godly advice, fast etc and I still make a mistake, then I do. Chalk it up to learning and maturing.

We will never be perfect but we should seek excellence. Wisdom is a wonderful gift of the Spirit-something given generously to those who ask with a right heart. Seek it today.

Proverbs 1:20-21 ESV Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets she raises her voice; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks

Proverbs 2:6 ESV For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding

Proverbs 11:14 KJV Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.

James 1:5-8 ESV If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Christian Living · faith

Big God

2 Timothy 3:5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

My husband recently visited a church where the pastor preached a message on church being a hospital. This particular church’s vision is to be a place hurting, broken people can get healed, delivered, and established. As my husband was giving me the cliff notes version of the sermon, my brain wheels (and my spirit) has been turning. Churning.

God or god?

My family has been turned away from churches for various reasons but usually over my son’s disability. I know others that have experienced rejection too. It’s painful. Disheartening. Demoralizing. And it leaves a person feeling very lost. If we can’t get acceptance at church, where can we? It communicates that church is no more than an exclusive social club. But it goes deeper. And, it begs the question…

What kind of God do we serve?

Don’t we serve a God that heals, delivers, refines, softens, and provides? The Creator of the universe that loves us, and sent His Son to redeem us? A God that is eternal and defies death. Swallowed it up in victory.

  • He split the Red Sea
  • Gave barren Sarah a child in old age
  • Shut the mouths of the lions to save Daniel
  • Rained down fire for Elijah
  • Brought divine conception to Mary
  • Raised the dead
  • Gave sight to the blind
  • Healed diseases
  • Cast out demons

Many are struggling themselves. They can’t give much. But someone has to show the world the love of God. God can and does heal hearts, save marriages, repair relationships, soften the hardest hearts, and frees those in addiction. He brings joy to the suicidal heart. Gives peace to an anxious soul. His Spirit helps us live holy lives.

There’s widows, orphans, the impoverished, and the hurting. They need to belong. We are many members of one body. All have a purpose and place and play a part in the Master’s plan.

Today, I want to challenge you to try (as we can’t fully) to grasp the magnitude of our Creator. Don’t put YHVH in a box. He does exceedingly abundantly above all we could ask or think. What a shame so many limit Him.

Give everyone a place at the table. God is big enough to make it work when we put Him and His heart first. He is able to meet your needs and heal your wounds. You can be free in this moment. Press in.

Jeremiah 32:17 ESV ‘Ah, Lord God ! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.

Ephesians 3:20 ESV Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us

Hebrews 4:16 ESV Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Christian Living · Devotions · faith

The Circle

Proverbs 29:23 One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.

I feel led by the Spirit to write this particular blog today. I actually was in the middle of writing one called The Next Door Mission Field (now renamed) when I sensed a change in direction. There’s someone who needs to read this.

Today is Sabbath, a day of rest. Shalom or peace. A day when you especially put debates and arguing aside. And yet, far too many enter into this day at conflict with someone, bitter, angry, and full of pride. Even worse, some pick this day to quarrel. It’s incredibly unfortunate and sinful. In general and on a more specific level.

The circle.

When I was praying earlier I got a picture of a circle. Then, the phrase “get out of the circle” came to mind. Regarding relationships, pride can often lead to being stuck in an impasse or circle. It just revolves with no end in sight.

I’m acting like this because you’re acting like that.

I’m waiting on you to do this or say that.

If they wouldn’t have done or said this.

One person points the blame. Then the other points the blame back. Both sides are waiting on something. Even in the cases where a person goes numb, something (unless they have a seared conscience) will warm them. Until that something happens, it’s stuck. Deep down, there’s hurt, fear, frustration, anger and bitterness.

It shouldn’t be like this. It should never have happened.

One or both parties says the above. So, the circle of finger pointing and pride remains. Who is right matters more than what is right.

No one wins. God isn’t glorified. Satan rejoices.

Colossians 3:12-13 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

What is the answer?

The solution starts when one person gets out of the circle. Someone needs to say, “I just want to glorify my King and love like Jesus (Yeshua.) The relationship matters more than the offense or who’s right.” Our flesh will scream for “our rights.” Healthy boundaries are good and needed, but modern psychology is very humanistic and self preserving. It’s very me, myself, and I focused.

Today, I want to ask you if there’s any circles in your life you need to step out of? Are there any unresolved conflicts in your life? Someone you need to apologize to? Have you been stuck in pride and bitterness?

These circles will hold us back from the fullness of God’s plan for our lives.

Remember, no matter what public platform you’re called to, the private pulpit from one-on-one interactions is what matters most to God. It’s about integrity.

Swallow your pride, choose to love God by being obedient and step out of the circle. There’s a blessing on the other side of it.

Matthew 5:23-24 ESV So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

Philippians 2:1-8 ESV So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Christian Living · faith

Boogeyman

1 John 4:12 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

My middle son yesterday watched a cartoon episode of Ghostbusters titled Boogeyman. I don’t think I’m going to let him watch this series anymore. However, this ended up providing a good opportunity for a conversation on the spiritual realm.

He can’t hurt you if you’re not afraid.

That was said throughout the episode. The boogeyman was hidden to many, except for young children who felt fear. He thrived in the darkness, under a cloud of deceit and manipulation. Sound familiar? That’s right out of the bag of Satan’s tricks.

Last night.

I was literally seconds from closing my Facebook app later on when a preacher/worship leader I follow went live. His topic: the enemy only has the power we allow him to have and his hidden, deceitful nature.

My experience is Satan either hits us with fear or he tries to convince us he isn’t real. The armor of God has power to bring victory in spiritual battle. But, we have to put it on and use it. I literally speak the armor over me as in Ephesians 6 and others I pray for. And the one offensive weapon listed is the sword of the Spirit (word of God.)

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Psalm 144:1 Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle

The boogeyman isn’t real, but the demonic realm sure is. It only has the power we allow it to have. Strongholds are areas we give the enemy access to. So many have in essence given demons squatter rights. They are camping out in our thoughts and bodies, wreaking havoc. Physical ailments are real as we live in a fallen world. But I wonder how many folks are popping a pill to treat something that’s really spiritual.

Today, I want to challenge you to put the armor of God on daily. Speak it aloud. Keep your mind focused on scripture and praises to God. When the enemy comes knocking (because he will) answer with faith and the Word. Ask God to give you the gift of discerning spirits. The Bible is the key to discernment and wisdom. It’s the benchmark everything else is held to.

Defeated foe.

The enemy is real. There are angels and demons (fallen angels.) Remember though that Satan is a defeated foe and he hates the light. There’s power in the name of Jesus (Yeshua), the name above all names (see Ephesians 1:21.) Use it. Start Fasting. Getting ourselves out of the way can make a big difference. As in John 3:30 He must increase, but I must decrease.

The real life boogeyman is defeated. Fear not.

Ephesians 6:11-17 ESV Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God

Colossians 2:9-15 ESV For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

Christian Living · faith

Those Feathers

Proverbs 21:28 A false witness will perish, but the word of a man who hears will endure.

I saw a post on being a false witness yesterday. I sensed the Spirit wanted me to speak on this so I did a Facebook video. But, I want to also add to it here. There’s something in particular I’m going to focus on.

The bad and the gray.

Some gossip and slander or lashon hara (evil speech) is obvious. Maliciously spreading gossip to damage someone is hands down, sin. I named this blog Those Feathers because, like a pillow with the feathers thrown to the wind, once gossip is said it can never be taken back. A person can repent and try to repair the damage. But it’s done.

The bad.

A few times I’ve been victim of slander, especially on Facebook. Rumors and misinformation spread like wildfire. Just recently I said something totally benign and loving. The person was going through a tough time and interpreted it incorrectly. When I clarified they lashed out and blocked me. It’s obvious they are going through a difficult season. So, I said a prayer for them and moved on. They need grace.

Oftentimes though, when something like this happens people will tell someone about it. Their version. Their perspective. And a decent person gets their character and reputation hurt. Or, someone out of hurt and anger deliberately lies or distorts information. That is the bad.

The gray.

Not long ago I did a gesture of kindness to someone. Something hurtful to me took place afterwards. I went to my accountability friend for prayer. My heart was heavy as I desire good things and blessings for them. I said a prayer and chose to forgive. They said to give the benefit of the doubt. And I have decided to. But this is where it gets tricky.

It’s healthy to go to godly people for prayer and accountability. In my case doing so was helpful for me. However, what if what you’re saying is something that could paint the person in a negative light? That’s the tough part. There’s balance.

Prayer chain gossip.

Let me tell you, over the years I’ve seen my fair share of prayer chain gossip. Folks that use prayer to spread something. It’s terrible. I’ve discovered a lot of personal information about others in my life through prayer chains. It’s one big reason why I’m no longer a part of those groups. It’s a great idea, but too often abused. I would someday participate in one again if it was properly led by the right person and contained godly prayer warriors with integrity.

Give the benefit of the doubt.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that. A friend of mine told me a few weeks ago she was looking at her friend’s post on Facebook, then put her phone in a pocket. She thought she locked her phone but didn’t. All the right buttons were accidentally hit and she ended up blocking her friend’s profile. She told me this story with a chuckle, as it’s quite strange and funny. She’d never intentionally block without good reason. But what if offense was taken? This could too easily plant a seed of bitterness, which in turn could lead to lashon hara.

“I can’t believe they did that to me. Isn’t it awful?”

Our words must be chosen carefully. Opportunities to gossip come easier than we think. We must stay deliberate and mindful of our thoughts and actions.

Today, I want to encourage you to a) not spread gossip and choose carefully who you tell prayer requests to and b) not entertain gossip. There’s a place for healthy venting. However, our ears are not trash cans. If someone is just dumping negativity about someone we need to quickly shut that down. Offer prayer and encourage that person to go directly to the offender.

Luke 17:1 says that temptations to sin or get offended (in some translations) will come. It’s all in how we handle it.

Build others up. Encourage them. Bless them. Let God deal with them if need be. Leave the feathers in the pillow.

Ephesians 4:22-27, 29 ESV to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Christian Living · faith

The Wrong Cover

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

I was at the dollar store when I found a book series on the fruits of the Ruach (Spirit) by Robert Strand. One in particular caught my attention. There was only one book left titled Self Control. As soon as I set eyes on it I sensed I was supposed to purchase that book. It’s only a dollar anyway.

Surprise.

When I got home I opened it and turned to the first page. I had only glanced at the front and back covers in the store. Right there on the first page it said Faithfulness. Yep. The cover was wrong. This book was about a fruit of the Spirit. But not self control.

Faithfulness.

At first I tossed the book aside.

That’s what I get when I buy a book for a buck.

But the Holy Spirit wasn’t done with me. I needed to read on faithfulness a lot more than I realized.

Faithfulness: steady allegiance to God and trust/reliance in Him.

Faithfulness can refer to God’s character or ours. Here in Galatians it’s more so referring to human trust and reliance on God. Being loyal. Devoted.

I’m not as faithful as I think I am.

That fact completely smacked me in the face. God had been dealing with me in recent months on holiness and restraint. Self control. But I wasn’t expecting faithfulness to be highlighted here. I recognize that I need to trust God better. Truly. However, God is calling me to a greater devotion.

I’ve been speaking aloud God’s word and promises and injecting mine and other’s names. I am reminding myself that God’s word is true and the spiritual application is for me and you. Abba deserves our total trust and devotion.

Today, I want to encourage you to offer devotion and complete trust to God. Be faithful to His commandments. None of us will ever perfectly, this side of eternity, be 100% loyal to God. A bit sad but true. The flesh and spirit are at enmity with each other. However, I believe we can reach (with great maturity) 99%.

That “wrong” cover ended up being just what I needed. God is so good. He gives us what we need when we need it.

Sometimes the mistakes…aren’t. God will use it. Be faithful, for He is always faithful to us. Always.

Psalm 37:5 ESV Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.

Psalm 40:4-5 ESV Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie! You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told.

Hebrews 11:1 ESV Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.