Building Faith in Your Dreams

Many of us have faced times when we didn’t think we had what it takes to make our lives work. I’m not talking about minor insecurities that every person feels from time to time. I’m referring to those occasions when you sink in your heart. The disappointment and sadness can take you so low you feel as though you’ll never reach the bottom. It’s a feeling like no other, because you can’t imagine anyone understanding the depth of what you’re experiencing. These are the moments where the risk of giving up on the dream that is in our hearts is greatest. Most of us know that anything worth having is worth working very hard to achieve, and that results are not gleaned unless we put in the time. But when our dreams are attacked at our most vulnerable places, our faith in God is sometimes diminished. This is too costly to the core of our beings, and we’ve got to strengthen our defenses.

In Ephesians 4:23, God tells us to be renewed in the spirit of our minds. To renew is to make something new continually. It’s not a one-time deal. Renewing is a habit pattern that must be practiced consistently. Some people think that you can memorize a few scriptures and you’re good to go, but this isn’t so. God has given us each the gift of free-will, and it is a gift that He will never violate. He will never do a take-back or overstep this gift in any way. History proves this. Humanity has done some remarkably horrible things against the Will of God. He commanded us to love our neighbors and to treat them the way we want to be treated, but most of us don’t do this. When we accept God’s Holy Spirit through the Lord Jesus Christ, God doesn’t come inside our body-temples and start throwing all the bad stuff out and putting in all good stuff. No. He made this our responsibility. He commands us in Ephesians 4:23 to feast on the positives of His Word and let it saturate our minds so that we begin to think like Christ.

A parable is a simple story used to pack a punch when it comes to spiritual lessons. It helps us comprehend the lesson in a way that lays a foundation for further wisdom, and it connects with our hearts. It makes the wisdom of the lesson so palatable that we make it a part of us. In Matthew 13, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, used a parable to illustrate the laws of God’s Kingdom and the method by which the gospel is planted. The central character is a farmer. The essential dramatic action is that of sowing, and I would argue that the hero is ‘good ground!’

I call ‘good ground’ the hero because in our Lord’s parable and in life itself, good ground is necessary to produce a good life. Jesus tells us that the farmer scattered some seeds; some fell on a foot path, some fell on shallow ground, some fell among weeds, and others fell on good ground. He later explained that the ground represents the condition of the minds of those that hear the good news of the Gospel. In Matthew 13:22, he said the seeds that fell among the weeds represent those who hear God’s Word, but the messages get crowded out by anxiety and worry about problems, and by being too overly concerned with wealth. Those minds, he said, don’t produce any fruit. That’s not the person you and I want to be.

In Matthew 13:23, Jesus said the seeds that fell on good soil represent those who truly soak in the Word of God and understand it. They connect to it in a way that transforms them. They change their thoughts and begin to produce a harvest that is multiplied many times over. Our minds are the soil, and the soil incubates the dream. That’s why you and I must tune out the chatter of negativity and nurture our dreams with faith in the richness of God’s Word.

God has placed the dream in our hearts, and He wants to protect it. Heavenly Father speaks to us and encourages us through His Word. To build up strength in our inner spirits, we must put on the positives of God’s Word daily. He tells us to renew our minds to it so that while our dreams are incubating, they are nurtured like seeds that fall on good ground. Life is not perfect, and the attacks may still sting, but they will not steal our dreams if we continue to build our faith and keep our defenses strong through God’s Word.■

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

“Building Faith in Your Dreamswritten by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2018. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Shifting Expectations

There’s a saying that you can’t get different results by doing the same things. In fact, it is believed that expecting different results by doing the same things is the definition of insanity. Picture a person totally frustrated and exhausted from continuous, unchanging effort; yet, they will not alter course one bit. They keep at it, same pounding effort without the benefit of any sign of progress. When you get a good picture of this in your mind, you begin to appreciate things like spiritual wisdom, discernment, and sound judgment; because these extend the ability to know when it’s time to change course.

Anything that doesn’t grow begins to die. We see this all throughout nature, but make no mistake, our Heavenly Father is all about bringing life. In John 10:10, Jesus Christ tells us why he came. He said the devil comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but he came to give us life; and not just life, but a more than abundant life. This is good news indeed, but many of us are so busy doing the same things that we can’t see the forest for the trees. We’re like the totally frustrated person that’s grinding it out every day without progress, because this person doesn’t recognize they’re not making any.

If the definition of insanity is expending our resources needlessly, doing the same things but expecting different results, then we must know that the ability to shift our expectations can potentially lead us in a sane or different direction. Using this logic, a person can do the same things and still be considered sane IF they don’t have any expectations for alternative results. But here’s the thing, most of us are not built to enjoy that kind of existence. We were created to grow, flourish, and blossom! God cemented this for us when He sent His Son to offer us a more than abundant life. Most of us would have been perfectly fine with just an abundant life, but Jesus went over and above this to thrust us into overdrive and blow the lid off anything we could ever ask or think. He came to give us access to a MORE than abundant life—a life that can exceed our greatest and grandest expectations! In other words, wherever we are in life, God wants us to know resolutely that through Christ we can go further.

Most of us are not insane, but we are caught in a vicious cycle of doing the same things. Some of us are even fearful of the possibility of change. One of the reasons we’re frustrated and unhappy is because we should have shifted our expectations long ago and we didn’t. The faith walk requires humility, and humility requires that we recognize we don’t have the master plan; God does. He knows best! He wants the best for us, and He’s included the best in the plan He’s designed for our individual lives. Unhappiness and dissatisfaction are very often indications that we’ve not taken a pause to consider that our way isn’t working.

All of God’s Word is extraordinary, but Jeremiah 29:11(NLT) is a particular jewel to me because it makes God’s heart and vision for us so crystal clear. He said, “For I know the plans I have for you…They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Progress is important for all of us, but we don’t always know how to define it. God has given us life to blossom into the person He desires us to become through Christ. His plan is to give us a good future and hope. Sometimes, we don’t see the light of His plan because we’re too focused on doing the things we’ve always done. No matter how much we try to deny it, we don’t know everything, and therefore, can’t see the things that God makes so plain when we follow His directions.

Very often, it’s just a slight movement in the direction we’ve taken that will make a huge impact in our lives. Make this a stellar year. Let God direct your path. He tells us in Proverbs 3:5-6 to trust in Him with all our hearts and to stop leaning on our own understanding. He said that if you seek His Will in all you do, He’ll steer your life in a wonderful direction. Consider that you might be headed down a path that leads to more frustration and disappointment, but if you’ll shift your expectations about what is possible through Christ, and ask Heavenly Father to redirect your steps, He’ll lead you on a path that will exceed your expectations. ■

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

“Shifting Expectationswritten by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2018. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

A Renewed Commitment to Love

Most of us have a story about loving someone when things didn’t turn out so well. For some of us, the relationship went tragically wrong, and even though we’ve collected ourselves to look normal on the outside, we’re still dealing with the aftermath on the inside. We’re still not sure if there’s someone out there who will love us completely, the way we’ve always dreamed of being loved. But the most puzzling piece of past loves-gone-wrong are all the unanswered questions we have about ourselves and our ability to choose what’s good for us. Right under our noses, insecurities can take centerstage in our hearts, and instead of moving ourselves closer toward the blessings we desire, we attract situations and people that feast upon our doubts.

One of the first requirements of being a believer is believing in what you cannot see. 2Corinthians 5:7 tells us to walk by faith and not by sight. This is non-negotiable. We must accept that the things we cannot physically see are more real than the things we can see. We can’t see love, we can’t see hope, and we can’t see faith; but they are all eternal and can never be extinguished. We can in fact see a house, a car, and a person’s body. All of these are temporary, yet, most of us place more emphasis on the temporary things than we do on the eternal. Whenever we’re so turned around in our perception of what is real and lasting and what isn’t, we’ll deny ourselves what it means to love from a place that is real and true.

1John 4:8(NLT) tells us that God is love. Love is who He is. Genesis 1:26 tells us that He created us in His very own image. Our bodies are made from dust, and when they are no longer alive, they will return to dust. Our spirits, however, will never die. Knowing this should make our commitment to love God’s way even stronger, for life is our only opportunity to become what God has destined us to be. As spiritual beings, He’s given us the privilege to abide on earth to learn to love like Christ, and our number one lesson is to express our faith in God by loving others; not the way we want to, but the way He has commanded us to. Galatians 5:6 (MSG) tells us, “For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.”

This is so monumentally important because our faith in Christ removes limitations and blockages in our hearts. The heart is the place where love communicates a language unrestricted by words. It flows from the interior of our being and enters a space before our bodies do. When we make loving others about Christ and not about ourselves, selfishness loses its power. We’re not leaning on our own understanding of what it means to feel loved but allowing the love of Christ to flow freely from the strongest place within us—the place where faith in him reigns supreme.

Heavenly Father created us to be intelligent, thoughtful, and loving human beings. His Will is that we are transformed by His love as we learn more about our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This is knowledge that expands our hearts. When we make greater room for him in our lives and begin to recognize his voice and hear it more clearly, we can’t help but change for the better. It’s an exciting walk, one that we should meet every day with a renewed commitment to love more fully through Christ. Be thankful to God for life! See all the opportunities to love that it presents and be committed to greet them with faith. When you do, insecurity and doubt will fall away, and your love for Christ will draw everything you need to be the blessing you’re meant to be.■

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

“A Renewed Commitment to Lovewritten by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2018. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Expect Something Good in Your Life!

If you and I took time to consider all of the miraculous details that must come together so the sun shines each and every day, we’d have a better context for understanding that our problems are not too hard for God to solve. He loves solving our problems because He doesn’t want us boggled down with them. We become anxious and upset, and instead of focusing on the wonderful things God wants to do in our lives, we become consumed with worry and doubt. These feelings and attitudes take us in the opposite direction of where God wants us to go. He wants us looking forward to life with great expectancy! Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we’re God’s masterpieces, and He created us in Christ Jesus, so we can do all the good things He planned for us long ago.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had a few disappointments in my life. Some of them were real doozies, and my heart was broken more times than I’d care to remember. Without me noticing it, I began to develop a habit of expecting the worse. It was a safety net for me, because I didn’t have to risk anything by making myself continually comfortable with disappointment. Well, after a while, I stopped looking forward to each new day, and started to view everything in life as a chore—as something to get through. I asked myself, “Is this really how God wants us to live?”

The answer to this question is a big, giant ‘NO!’ In Lamentations 3:22-23(NLT), Jeremiah, the prophet, wrote, “The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” Everyday, you and I can discover a new opportunity to grow closer to God, so we can have a greater appreciation for His love and grace.

If we’ll notice how others around us are enjoying growth, blessings, and new opportunities, we’ll also see that these were revealed to them within their everyday environments. In most cases, people don’t have to travel far to discover that opportunities for newness are right under their noses. Perhaps a person overheard someone talking or they saw a chance to advance themselves on the internet or in the newspaper. Opportunities to change and grow are all around us, but when we’re not convinced of God’s goodness, and we’re not confident that He wants us to grow and thrive in life, our eyes are blinded to opportunities others see so clearly.

Proverbs 15:15(NLT) tells us, “For the despondent, every day brings trouble; for the happy heart, life is a continual feast.” Many of us walk around fearing something bad is going to happen, when nothing is wrong. This is a form of darkness; it brings trouble every day, but we can stop it with God’s help! Heavenly Father tells us in 1John 4:18 that there’s no fear in His love, because His love is perfect, and it expels all fear.

The way to live love and live life with expectancy is to get close to God. You might think, “Well, I don’t know how to do this.” Don’t feel bad. None of us knew the way to God’s heart until Jesus Christ helped us find it. He said in John 14:6 that he is the way to the Father, and if we will humble ourselves and be willing to swap out our disappointment for his joy, he’ll inspire our hearts with his love. God is waiting on us to get our faith moving in the right direction, and when we do, our minds and hearts will be open to the good things He wants to do for us.■

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

“Expect Something Good in Your Life!written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2018. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Don’t Miss Your Blessings

In the New Testament Book of Acts, chapter 10, the Apostle Peter was the first person employed by God to break down a barrier that once existed. In Old Testament times, God was looking for a people that would welcome a relationship with Him, and we can learn much about His unyielding faithfulness, love, and power through those He chose. They were not a perfect people and made a ton of mistakes. He didn’t destroy them, but loved them beyond their faults, just as He does with us. In the Old Testament, God’s people were the Israelites and they were called His ‘chosen ones.’ Again, it wasn’t because they were particularly special. He chose the Israelites because they recognized Him as their Almighty God, but He didn’t stop there. Expanding His family was always the plan.

1John 4:8 tells us that God is love. Love is who He is. Through Jesus Christ, God has demonstrated how His love behaves. One of its truths is that it expands. Love grows! It is the nature of what it does. God, being a God of supreme love, wanted to expand His family to include you and me. He chose Peter to break new ground, and to welcome others into His fold by showing them how to follow Christ. For the longest while, Peter and others saw things only one way, and it took quite a nudging for Peter to expand his heart for God’s purpose.

Philippians 4:19 (ESV) says, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Heavenly Father promises to supply our need. In 2Corinthians 9:8(NLT), He also tells us that He will “generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.” And Jesus Christ said in Matthew 7:11 that if sinful people know how to give good gifts to their children, how much more will our Heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him. We’re His kids, and He wants to see us happy and blessed all the time. But we must be mindful that the blessings He gives are not always based on what we want, but on what He knows we need. He tailors them for our lives, and sometimes we need a little nudging to see this. 

Our Heavenly Father gives us good gifts, but we can be so preoccupied with the packaging that we don’t see the gift God is presenting. We’ve been burned before, and we’ve taught ourselves to only accept something if it looks as though it will meet our expectations. We miss a lot of blessings this way. Our need to control outcomes causes us to set up barriers so thick and high that nothing penetrates them.

These barriers are a form of fear, and fear is the enemy of love. Not only do the two not run in the same circles, they can’t survive in the same space. One of them will destroy the other. So, fear has got to go if we want God’s good quality love entering our lives and bringing with it all the yumminess He offers. For operating in the world day to day, a healthy fear reflex is one that warns us of impending danger, but it has no place in our relationship with God.

Many of us are complaining that He hasn’t answered our prayers, when truthfully, we’ve blockaded ourselves with such fear and negative thinking that we’re not even thankful for the air we breathe or the sun that shines every day. If our hearts are not overjoyed with blessings like these, the small stuff we want doesn’t stand a chance. Don’t miss your blessings. It’s a conscious choice to break down barriers around our hearts, and no one can do it for you, except you. Start by giving God some quality time. Talk with Him often so you’ll learn to recognize His voice. He’ll speak to your heart, and you’ll have confidence in ALL the gifts He gives, regardless of how they’re packaged. ■

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

“Don’t Miss Your Blessings”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2018. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

 

A Love that Lasts

Everyone loves those romantic movies where a relationship that seems irreparably broken years prior, suddenly has a second chance. I’m a sucker for these types of movies and will watch them over and over. Of course, I know how the story ends, but we never get enough of seeing two people come together when so much has been stacked against them. Even vicariously, it’s an emotional high to witness a rekindled romance, because let’s face it, we all want to believe in happily ever after. Unlike the movies, real-life relationships are much more challenging, because the story doesn’t end when two people finally commit to one another. In real life, this is where the grunt work begins.

Again, relationships are often the most challenging work of our lives. They are even more difficult when we come to the table not having done some soul-searching and soul-work. It isn’t the best idea to look for a soul-mate, or a mate for your soul, when you don’t have a good grasp of who you are on a soul level.

Many people haven’t begun to grapple with the reality of being a spiritual being with an earth suit made of dust. They haven’t considered that spiritually, they are required by God to learn to navigate earth’s terrain by being the most loving, humble, compassionate, yet powerful individual they can be. The only way to accomplish this is to walk in the love of Christ. He showed us how it’s supposed to be done. It is the most delicate balance imaginable, because spiritual love very often has little to do with the human version of it—and this human version is the one most are hooked on. Human love comes with entanglements and confusion, and many of us haven’t learned to step out of it so that we can go higher.

Spiritual love is love on a whole other level. It’s God’s love and it embodies everything about His nature. Jesus Christ told us a little bit about it in John 15:13(NLT). He said, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” This is what Christ did for humanity. We’re the ‘friends’ he’s talking about. He gave his life because we were in total darkness. We were playing around in satan’s cesspool of death, and he rescued us from it. Colossians 1:13 says that through Christ, God delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us into His Kingdom. This was a spiritual transaction, and the only way to cash in on it is to dive into love by faith. You have to rely on what you can’t see, because the things we can’t see are more real than the things we CAN see.

This love of Christ is a selfless kind of love for sure. Accepting it means that we understand there were barriers separating us from God’s love, and Jesus Christ removed them. Our work is to keep ourselves from setting them up again. In movies, wounded people fall in and out of love very easily. It’s a love that may make us feel good in the moment, but it doesn’t last. That’s not the kind of love that comes from God. His love is eternal, and it sticks with an ever-lasting bond. The amazing truth about His love is that you and I are capable of living in it, and we are capable of giving it as well.

Galatians 5:6(MSG) tells us, “For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.” You and I are on this earth but a moment. We’re here today, gone tomorrow. God is forever; He has no beginning, and He has no end. He’s loved us that long. It is too extraordinary to fathom, but it is our belief in His extraordinary love that fuels our own. This is what matters most. That’s why it is so important to believe in what we cannot see—to have faith in God’s love. It’s incomparable, and when we give it to others, we are giving them something that will last forever. ■

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

“A Love that Lasts”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2018. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Wisdom, How to love myself, Self-love, Love of Christ, Domestic violence and abuse, Spiritual Encouragement for Victims of Abuse, Victims of Domestic Violence, Learning about Jesus Christ

You Can’t Fake Self-Esteem

I once heard a very prominent person say that feeling good is everything. At the time it came across my ears, I truly felt it was one of the most striking statements I’d ever heard. I felt this way because I had spent a good deal of my life feeling bad, and I never looked upon the notion of feeling good as a right. It also occurred to me that I had not viewed it as a possibility. Years ago, I wasn’t enlightened enough to say that I had low self-esteem. I knew that I wanted others to like me and respond to me positively. I thought the way to accomplish this was to minimize myself in a way that made others comfortable and less likely to criticize me. As the years progressed, it became apparent that my desire to make others comfortable around me was making me uncomfortable in my own skin. That had to change.

Low self-esteem is generally characterized by a lack of confidence and feeling badly about oneself. As the prevalence of self-awareness has grown, the term has become very widely used. It’s a sad predicament when the symptoms of low self-esteem—feeling unlovable, incompetent, and less-than—are so common that millions of us have diagnosed ourselves with it. We accept ‘feeling bad’ as part of the human experience, but when it becomes a way of life, there is a real danger. We make ‘feeling bad’ part of our identities, and we do this because we don’t believe there’s a viable alternative. For some people, treatment is necessary and feeling better has to come from a prescription, but this isn’t true for everyone.

For some of us, feeling bad is rooted in feeding our souls the wrong food, and we’d rather fake it than accept this truth. But no matter how you try to fake it, feeling crummy at such a deep level effects your core. Those feelings camp-out and make themselves comfortable when we believe the wrong information about who we really are. God tells us in Ephesians 2:10 that we are His masterpieces, created brand new in Christ so that we can do all the good things He’s planned for us. Low self-esteem will tell us the exact opposite. This is a spiritual problem, and the fix requires spiritual surgery.

Wires get crossed by believing the wrong things, and when those wires become deeply imbedded, we don’t know how to uncross them. We run the risk of being conformed to what society says, when God tells us in Romans 12:2 to be transformed by renewing our minds to what He says about us. Only God knows us through and through. He’s our Creator, and He knows us as intimately as we can be known. The wonderful thing is that He desires us to feel good way more than we could ever desire it for ourselves. He’ll shine a light in our dark places if we’ll let Him.

An arrogant person is one who refuses wisdom, neglects the Source of it, and foolishly believes they don’t need to seek it. It is the one thing that a person with low self-esteem can never afford to be. Feeling bad about yourself is akin to feeling small—of devaluing your ability, potential, and worthiness. It is a level of feeling that is so low, we forget to look up. To look up is to look to God for what we need. In Luke 11:9(NLT), Jesus Christ said, “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” The Master has informed us that asking, seeking, and knocking are actions that must be persistent. They are habits required to replace repression, backwardness, and apathy.

Most people will say that low self-esteem can be turned into high self-esteem when we become confident solely in our own ability. Well, history has proven that all of us are pretty fragile, so I don’t know how far being confident only in ourselves can really take us. God tells us that He is our sufficiency and that we should place our confidence solely in Him. Philippians 4:13 says that we can do ALL things through Jesus Christ who gives us strength. He’s our Source, and if we’ll learn about him and seek him when we’re feeling bad, his love will deliver strength to our cores. He’ll plug us into God, so that our wires make sense, and feeling good will be a way of life.

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

“You Can’t Fake Self-Esteem” written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2018. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!