Can You Turn Your Life Around?

Jesus Christ said in Matthew 19:26 that with God, all things are possible. This is extraordinarily good news! The words of Jesus Christ should break through the haze of doubt and sadness that many people have been walking around with for years, but they feel hopeless, as if nothing and no one can lift them up. When the hiccups and mishaps of life just keep coming, one after another, our enthusiasm for the possibilities that life holds can get buried under layers of emotional stuff, so much so that we don’t know or can’t find the path to joy anymore. Instead, sadness and numbness become the way we move through our days. Some of us are so used to not feeling anything other than sadness and numbness that we think it’s just a part of our personality now, when in truth, it’s a wall. We put it up to try to protect ourselves from getting hurt and to shield ourselves from the pain of experiencing yet another disappointment.

Nehemiah 8:10(NLT) says, “Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the LORD is your strength!” Many people have heard this verse but don’t understand it. Is it that we’re to be joyful because God is our Creator? Should we have joy because of what He did for us through His Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross? Does God have joyfulness, and does it make us strong? The answer to all these questions is a resounding ‘yes!’. But it isn’t enough to agree with the answer, Heavenly Father wants us to live the answer, and He is ever willing to help us do so.

Jesus Christ said in John 10:10(NLT), “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” Jesus Christ came to the earth to give us life, and not just life, but life more abundantly. He is letting us know that life on earth isn’t always peachy, because we’ve got a spiritual enemy that will go for the jugular. Our Master Jesus doesn’t sugarcoat the truth but tells us straightforwardly that the devil’s mission is to steal, kill, and destroy; and he’s not messing around. But Jesus Christ also tells us that we shouldn’t lay down and become the enemy’s doormat. We weren’t created to be continually tricked, manipulated, and influenced by darkness. And in this, we can have joy! We were created to be victorious in every way so that we receive all that God has in store for us.

There’s a better way! Knowing this doesn’t take all our sadness and numbness away. We may not feel like skipping through fields of daisies, but the truth of God’s goodness is a seed that must be planted in our consciousness in order that we might have hope. 2Thessalonians 2:16-17(NLT) says, “16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope, 17 comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say.” We need to be confident that our Father God and the Lord Jesus Christ love us, and with their love there’s hope, because they are committed to help us through anything that we might be facing.

As Christians, we’re called to be realist, and truth is reality. God has all power in His hands, and all things are possible with Him. This is the truth! You and I are called to have faith, hope, and love. Through the Apostle Paul, God tells us in 1Timothy 6:12(NLT), “Fight the good fight for the true faith.” This means we must be fully invested in the practice of totally leaning on God for everything. This is what faith is, it’s totally leaning on Heavenly Father to take care of all our needs; this is the kind of relationship He desires with us, and He tells us in Hebrews 11:6 that this total dependence on Him is what pleases Him.

It’s not that God isn’t seeing the challenges and difficulties we face in life. He does. We need Him to move in our situations, but He needs us to have faith in Him. And sometimes, when we trust Him, things don’t get better right away. This is where hope makes its grand entrance and the faith muscle gets a workout. You and I might not be able to see the future, but we can hope for a good future because that’s what God promises. So, we have to trust in what we can’t see. Even though at times we might feel like the bottom of someone’s shoe, we have to take authority in Jesus Christ, and let God’s Word have the final say and not our emotions. It doesn’t mean that we don’t feel some type of way, but we must turn to God, continue to trust Him, and our emotions will begin to follow.

God is indeed a joyful God. He delights in blessing us, and He commands us to delight in Him. Delighting in God is our strength because it means we are coming in agreement with the truth of His sovereignty and divinity. We have no strength to call our own. 2Corinthians 3:5 teaches us that our sufficiency comes from God. So, as much as we think we are, you and I are not in control. Life proves this to us every day. Psalm 24:1(NLT) declares, “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him.” Heavenly Father wants you to succeed in life, and you can turn your life around if you are willing to place all your trust in Him.■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“Can You Turn Your Life Around?”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2021. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Making A Faith Move When It’s Dangerous

We had been staying at my grandmother’s house for a few weeks, and I was both relieved and terrified. My father thought it was just a temporary thing. We had done this lots of times before, when my mother was too weak and emotionally exhausted from his abuse. She’d threaten to leave him, and we’d retreat to my grandmother’s. She’d rest physically and emotionally, and we always went back. I was familiar with the drill, but this time was different. We had stayed longer than any other time before, and my father was becoming agitated.

Determined to make a new start for us all, my mother had planned to move us to another state to get away from her abuser. Her cousin, notorious for partying and drinking on the weekends, got drunk and told someone of my mother’s plan to leave my father for good. Being a small town where everyone talks, it wasn’t long before my father got wind of it.

The plan was that my mother would leave first to secure a place for us to stay and then send for my siblings and me. Her ticket was purchased, but my father started digging and found out the details of her late-night flight. That evening, my aunts and grandmother gathered, and I remember them being unusually quiet. My aunt would go to the front door and peek through its small window to check periodically. My sweet respite in times of trouble was now a battlefield, and the soldiers were preparing for war. The energy was extremely tense, and my heart was in my stomach. I was accustomed to stress and worry, but I was more concerned for my mom’s safety than I had ever been before. My father had a gun, and I did not doubt that he would use it.

My mom’s cousins had been on the lookout for my dad’s movement, and when one of them met my aunt at the door, I could tell something was going down. I then heard a couple of cars parking inconspicuously as my aunts moved into position. My mother had been told to remain in the backroom with the ‘youngins’ while my aunts handled everything, and she knew they would. They were not strangers to abusers and were prepared to do whatever it took to make sure we would be okay and that my mom got on that plane.

I heard my father’s car as it raced around the sharp curve in the road nearby and stopped mid street, in front of my grandmother’s house. In those days, children were not allowed to witness or speak about the things happening before my eyes, but for whatever reason, maybe because I was the eldest of my mother’s children, I had been allowed to be a silent and shocked observer. When I heard the tussling at the door, it felt as if I had left my body. My mind couldn’t absorb what was happening. There was horrible profanity and threats, and I put my hands over my ears.

My father had encountered a force he had not anticipated. He began to whine, and I felt faint. I knew that if my mother heard his diminished rage, she’d acquiesce. Oh, how I didn’t want that. The instincts that only couples intertwined can share must have kicked in. My mother abandoned her post, and the next thing I knew, she was standing at the door, in front of my father. This time, she did not yield, but held tightly to what strength she had. Outnumbered, my father tore off in his monte carlo, and my aunts and cousins stood watch until my mom departed for the airport.

It took a village to give us a start to a new life, and they put themselves in harm’s way to do it. I was forever changed by this event, and I learned a lot about faith and courage. We all fight in different ways and at different times, but the truth is that we must do exactly that, fight! Our lives are worth fighting for, but we must be smart and strategic about how we do it, and we cannot do it well without faith and trust in God. We must lean on His wisdom and guidance.

Jesus Christ commands us in Mark 11:22, “Have faith in God.” This isn’t a suggestion. It is a requirement for living life. Faith in God is the foundation that gives us the courage to move when it’s time to do so. Our Lord and Savior also tells us in Matthew 19:26 that with God all things are possible. The mind-and-heart-set of any person being abused must be strengthened in the reality that freedom from the bondage of abuse is God’s Will for them. And not only this, but God will make freedom from the clutches of an abuser possible if you place your trust in Him through Jesus Christ.

God tells us in Romans 8:28 that He causes all things to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Living in an environment where there’s domestic violence and abuse is dangerous. There can be no doubt about it, but a commitment to the practice of prayer and to lean on the Lord Jesus Christ will turn what seemed impossible into the miracle we need.

There’s a saying that “God will keep you if you want to be kept.” Some individuals that are being abused do not want to be kept by God’s love, strength, and power. It’s possible they’ve not come to a place of believing that through Jesus Christ, they can fight for their lives and win. Please know, that if you are being abused, God desires to keep, preserve, and protect your life. Never doubt His ability to help you make a faith move to be released from an abusive situation. He has unlimited resources, those that we can’t even imagine. Let the Lord help and guide you, so that when it’s time for you to make a faith move in a dangerous situation, you have the courage and strength to see it through. ■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“Making A Faith Move When It’s Dangerous”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2021. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Should I Stay When He Cheats?

Would you stay in a relationship if you found out your spouse or significant other had cheated? Don’t answer too quickly. If you’ve never gone through it then your answer could possibly surprise you. 

Out of the blue, a close friend asked me that if by chance I found out my spouse was cheating, would I continue to stay in the relationship. I didn’t hesitate to answer with a resounding “NO!” He quickly said to me, “You say ‘no’ because you’re not in the situation right now, but when you’re married with children, the answer doesn’t come that easy.” After giving this some thought, I realized that my immediacy in answering this question speaks to my inability to consider that there are always two sides. Spiritual maturity begs us to seek God before we rush to judgment. It also demands that we have a humble and forgiving heart. So regardless of our pain and anger, we must seek God for the best course of action.

Many women are hurting today, at this very moment, and the reason they’re in so much pain is because their hearts have been broken by someone they love. A few years ago, my pastor taught about deliverance from a broken heart.  What resonated so deeply was understanding that when our hearts are broken, the ultimate take-away is always going to be the lesson our hurt teaches us about ourselves and about our relationship with God.   

This truth stuck with me because there have been times when hurt has come my way, and if I’m honest, I was baffled as to why Heavenly Father didn’t prevent it. I was utterly devastated, and I didn’t understand why God had allowed me to experience such despair, especially by the person who claimed to care about me. It wasn’t that I had mastered the art of relationships and thought I was untouchable, but I thought at least I knew enough to dodge a bullet when it came to getting my heart broken again. I was wrong. 

Sometimes, the significant people we love are not meant to journey with us any further. They are not the person we should marry and spend the rest of our lives with. We try to cling to them, but their destiny is on another path. We should allow ourselves a little time to grieve, and then get ready to proceed onward and upward in Christ. The only way to really do this is to learn the lesson about the love of Christ that this person has revealed to us. A big part of this lesson is to look before we leap—to seek God before making huge emotional investments.

And if we don’t do this, and it becomes apparent we’ve make a wrong choice, we should repent, release the thing that isn’t working for us, and reprioritize our relationship with God, so that He is in the number one spot. Jesus Christ teaches us in Matthew 6:33 that we must put God first in all things and love Him with all that we are. Our Lord and Master affirms that blessings will chase us down when loving God is our prime motivation in life.

When a spouse has betrayed the marriage vow, it is a very different situation than when someone that isn’t a spouse cheats and goes outside the relationship. Because marriage is God’s institution, if the spouse that has cheated desires forgiveness, and the Lord says so, anyone can be healed, and any relationship can be restored. But boy do we have to walk in wisdom and hear from God with this one. You don’t want to set yourself up to be repeatedly lied to and cheated on, but by the same token, you can’t play the victim and shift all the blame on the cheating spouse. We must at all times remember that God holds us accountable for our actions, and sometimes we’ve done things that caused our spouses to feel hurt and isolated as well.

Relationships are challenging and there are complicated issues to deal with. Even before we go into marriage, God expects that we will have saturated our hearts and minds with His Word, so that we have the endurance and spiritual strength to weather storms. Many of us have not put on His whole armor, and we take that walk down the aisle without it. Then, when something happens and knocks the wind out of us, we are faced with a situation that requires more spiritual maturity and strength than what we’ve acquired.

Ephesians 5:25(NLT) says, “For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her.” This is not some abstract concept. It’s God’s standard for the way a man should love and treat his wife. Jesus Christ said in Luke 12:48 that to whom much is given much is required. So, if a man loves his wife the way Christ loves the church, she has a responsibility to make sure she reciprocates it; her actions must be deserving of this kind of love. Considering this, the very best course of action when cheating rears its ugly head is to come to an agreement together to seek the Lord. Both spouses must have humility and be willing to rededicate themselves towards making Jesus Christ the center of their marriage. Then, every step they take together can be guided by his Spirit. ■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“Should I Stay When He Cheats?”, written by Kyrene, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2021. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Taking Matters into Your Own Hands Isn’t A Good Idea

Learning to love through the Lord Jesus Christ is a spiritual lesson in wisdom, power, humility, and forgiveness. It’s all wrapped together in the most beautiful package, and we’re entrusted with it. Wisdom is the first place to start. Proverbs 4:7(KJV) tells us, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” When something is a principal thing, it’s first in line in the order of importance. This gives us a clue about how we should value and view wisdom. God tells us to be sure we don’t skimp on it. As a matter of truth, He tells us it’s a necessary tool in our toolboxes, and if we don’t use it, we’ll be in big trouble. Some of us have learned this the hard way, especially when it comes to relationships.  

The Book of Genesis in the Old Testament takes us to school on creation and the very beginning. Our Heavenly Father is meticulously masterful, and thoughtful beyond anything we can fathom. Before He created Adam, the first man, He took six days to make a place for Adam’s habitation. Woven within this paradise called earth were the duties and work that would keep Adam occupied and instill within him the administrative and management skills necessary to reign. When God created the first human, He placed him in this paradise where all he would ever need was already provided. God wanted to make sure that you and I were tuned-in to the pattern He established when He created human beings. 2Corinthians 3:5 declares that “Our sufficiency is of God.” He’s our Source, and from the very beginning He established the reality that humans must rely upon His provision. This is a pattern that will never cease.

Heavenly Father took a rib from Adam and made Eve, Adam’s wife. This was the first couple, and this established another pattern and precedent for humanity. Genesis 2:18(NLT) makes it quite clear. It tells us, “And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone;” In today’s world, we’ve gotten so turned around that we label what God says is good as being bad, and what He says is bad, we label it good. What God says goes. He created us and He knows the best way for us to operate according to His love.

The Lord established the relationship between a man and a woman from the very beginning of their creation. This demonstrates for us that this significant relationship is fulfilling and meaningful to our existences, but most importantly, it is purposeful to God’s plan and agenda for creation, and for our individual lives. Our Heavenly Father doesn’t deal in ambiguity. He’s extremely precise, and everything He does has a purpose and reason. It is therefore perfectly aligned that we should seek Him for His wisdom, because it will allow us to walk the path He has purposed with confidence and specificity.

Isaiah 14:27(NLT) says, “The LORD of Heaven’s Armies has spoken— who can change his plans? When his hand is raised, who can stop him?” Anything outside of God’s purpose will not prevail. It won’t be good for us, and it will not yield success. This isn’t negative or punitive. It’s wisdom! If we begin our pursuit of a significant relationship with the wisdom of God’s purpose firmly in our grasp, we can be continually guided and directed by God’s Spirit to the right person for us. It’s a big mistake to assume we don’t require His divine leadership in this very important part of our lives.

Romans 8:32(NLT) tells us, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” Jesus Christ is God’s only begotten Son. He is God’s most precious treasure, and God gave him to the world to save us. God did this, so it is without question that He will not withhold any other good thing from us. He is more concern with protecting and preserving our lives than we are. He knows that the wrong person can cause you dreadful harm and the right person can cause you tremendous good.

Jeremiah 29:11 declares that God has a plan for our individual lives, and it is a good one. Understand that God will allow us to take matters into our own hands and make choices without His input, but this is never a good idea. It’s such a costly mistake, and it can be avoided. Life is not a random chain of unfortunate coincidences. It is the journey that God has ordained for His purpose and for our spiritual benefit. Pray before you leap into relationships. Walk in the Spirit so that you are in tune with God’s wisdom. Get His approval before you make emotional investments in folks that are not aligned with where He wants to take you. God has left no detail to chance, and we need to invite His leadership and guidance into our decision making, especially when it comes to the relationships we want to last. ■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“Taking Matters into Your Own Hands Isn’t A Good Idea”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2021. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

He Wants to Fit You in His Back Pocket

Shana said that she sometimes feels there’s a sign on her back that says, “I’m an easy target.” She no longer trusts her ability to chose someone that is right for her life because all her relationships in the past have been abusive. Emotionally exhausted and still in shock over her last boyfriend’s attack, she desperately wants to understand why this keeps happening to her. She’s a very attractive, savvy, and deeply compassionate person. She would never hurt a fly. Her friends and family adore her, and they are always on red alert whenever she dates someone new. Her mother is very concerned and even suggested, “Marriage isn’t for everyone. Maybe you should try being alone for a while.”   

The truth is that Shana loves being in love. Getting married and having a family of her own is her dream, and deep down, she believes it will come true. The thing that has troubled Shana greatly is the men she meets are completely different in the beginning than who they appear to be at the end. The difference is night and day. It’s as if they meet her and after a while, turn into someone she doesn’t recognize. If this had happened only once, she may not have questioned it, but it’s happened with all her adult relationships.

2Timothy 1:7(NLT) tells us, For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.Taking it one step closer, Romans 11:29 gives us everything we need to be anchored in this truth and tells us that God’s gifts and His call cannot be withdrawn. Heavenly Father has given us the spirit of power, love, and self-discipline. He calls on us to stand upon His gifts, because they are good gifts. They are given to us to aid our lives, increase our faith, and most importantly, to help build our relationship with Him through the Lord Jesus Christ. The spiritual goodies that God did not give us are those that should be rejected. If it doesn’t come from Him, it comes from darkness, and therefore, we should mark it “Return to Sender.”

There is nothing random about our lives. Everything about us is created with a purpose specific to God’s Divine Will and Plan. He doesn’t make mistakes. Everything He does is perfect, and there is a reason for everything He does. Romans 8:28(NKJV) tells us, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” To our great disservice, most people underestimate their purpose in God’s plan. They think it’s an arbitrary thing and it doesn’t matter whether they pursue it or not. Because of this cavalier attitude, they also underestimate the unrelenting and evil attacks against them. They are blinded to them—never see them coming.

God’s call is everything. It is life itself! Fulfilling the thing for which we were born literally transforms every detail of our existences. We need to wake up to the reality that when we walk in our purpose, God will cause every detail of our lives to come together, cooperate, and work out for our good. Just the opposite will happen when His purpose is far from our view. And make no mistake, when God’s purpose is far from our view, the devil will try his best to keep it that way. Destiny snatching is the name of the devil’s game, and when we find ourselves stuck in the way that Shana is, the evil minions of darkness are whispering poison in the ears of those who can be used to harm us most.

Blocking your shine, trying to snuff out your light, attempting to squash the magnificence of your call is the abuser’s aim. On every hand he wants to minimize all that you are, so that he can fit you in his back pocket, where you are hidden, silenced, and can only move as he permits. 2Corinithians 4:4(NLT) tells us, Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.” The light of Christ is the truth, and when we can’t see the truth, we live beneath our privilege.

To keep us blind, to minimize our Christ authority and power, and to silence us so that we will not capture the blessings and power linked to our destiny is the objective the devil achieves through an abuser. When we’re blinded from the truth, we don’t recognize abusers. Our spiritual senses are dull, and we can’t smell the demonic activity of darkness when it’s in our midst. The solution is not to resort to fear, because God didn’t give us a spirit of fear; it doesn’t come from Him. The solution is to turn to Jesus Christ!

Don’t let anyone hide your light. Don’t let them put you in their back pocket and cancel your destiny. We must be as diligent to protect the treasure we carry in the inner sanctum of our beings as the enemy is to destroy it. 2Thessalonians 3:3(NLT) tells us, “But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.” God is faithful, but we have an obligation to trust Him. Our faith is not just lip service. We must be committed to walk with the Lord every moment of each day. When this is our heart, and we’re growing in His Word, we will grow in spiritual maturity and authority in Christ, and nothing in the earth is more powerful than that. ■

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“He Wants to Fit You in His Back Pocket”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2021. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

A Slight Change in Our Everyday ‘Get Down’

I had the opportunity to watch a photo shoot recently, and I was struck by how many photos were taken and how frequently they were shot. There seemed to be hardly any movement at all by those being photographed, but the photographer repeatedly took what appeared to me to be the exact same photo. Sometimes he’d tell them to move ever so slightly to the left or right, or to tilt their heads a little, up or down. The thing that surprised me most when I got to see the actual shots was that even though the folks in the frame hardly moved, none of the photographs of them looked the same. All my years on this Christian journey proved that what I witnessed on this photo shoot is a metaphor for life. Sometimes it’s just a slight movement in our perception, thoughts, and behaviors that will make a profound difference in our lives.

Truth will forever be the foundation of life. It is required for a life to be lived well. Our lives may not start out on solid footing, but as we expand our understanding of the truth, our lives will increase in meaningfulness and fulfillment. This is exactly what Jesus Christ was pointing to when he said in John 10:10(NKJV), “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”  Jesus Christ is the truth, and the truth is life! Christ is the living Word of God. He tells us in John 14:6 that He is the way, the truth, and the life. So, we can know resolutely that in order for our lives to truly expand with God’s goodness and grace, it must be done through a knowledge of Christ.

Jesus Christ doesn’t keep the fullness of his life a secret. He shared it with us all freely, because that is what truth does. There’s nothing clandestine, sinister, or manipulative about the truth. It’s out there in the open for all to see. It’s transparent! So, our powerful Lord and Savior shared his whole ‘get down’ with us, his baby brothers and sisters. By his flawless example of love, he is helping us to grow up so we can be the men and women God created us to be. Romans 8:29(NLT) tells us, For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”

When it comes to the quality of our lives, many of us either ignore, neglect, or refuse to acknowledge that we’re not the ones holding the camera. We don’t own it and we can’t position it to photograph only the prettiest picture. The lens belongs to Christ and he sees it all; the good, the bad, and the ugly. He doesn’t punish us because we didn’t make the right moves. He corrects us, and that is exactly what we would expect an expert to do!

God has already given us everything we need to get the positioning just right. We’re exactly where we need to be to walk in the destiny He’s set for our lives. Ephesians 2:10(NLT) affirms, For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” God planned for us to get some things done in the earth while we’re here. The DNA for the things He planned come standard with our packaging. We’re pre-programmed for them and this doesn’t require us to do a whole lot of finagling and messing around with things. Often, it’s just a slight movement in our everyday ‘get down’ that will open our eyes to new opportunities.

The smallest thing can lead to a profound change in our lives, but it will require humility towards God to receive the revelation that will help us make it. Another way of seeing things, a different attitude towards a person or circumstance, and most importantly, a greater understanding of God’s love, can open the door to being in the right place at the right time for purpose and destiny. We can’t assume that our lens is the only perspective. Only one outcome can be achieved from our own vantage points. We need a heavenly view, one from which a beautiful portrait can be revealed. We need to see the masterpiece that God sees when He looks at us. This should be our constant prayer. Let’s pray that Heavenly Father floods our understanding with revelation regarding our precious Lord and Savior. Let’s be humble enough to hear what Heavenly Father has to say to us. Then we can make those slight changes, and they will point us in the direction of God’s bountiful blessings. ■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“A Slight Change in our Everyday ‘Get Down’”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2020. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Love Is Much More Than You Think

“Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.”
1John 2:15(NLT)

When you love someone and this person causes you harm, the hurt can feel like nothing else you’ve ever experienced. And yet, some have said that not loving a person with your whole heart is lonely and much more painful. We are brought up to believe that our lives should revolve around the person we fall for. Most of us want this for ourselves, and I was no exception. When I was in my twenties, I invested my everything into my relationships, but wanting to love someone and to be loved by them was followed by pain and devastating heartbreak repeatedly. I wanted so badly to break the cycle, but I didn’t have a clue how to do it.

1John 2:15 tells us not to love this world or the things it offers. We need to discern this wisdom. God wants us to know that obsession isn’t love, and when we feel the need to fill up our empty places with another person, our expectations are unreasonable. Heavenly Father didn’t create us to idolize one another. He created us to walk in His Spirit through Jesus Christ, and love others from a place of spiritual strength. Often, we meet individuals that are not good for our lives, but it’s something about them that makes our hearts swoon. We feel a connection, and we allow this person into our hearts without consulting Heavenly Father. We leap before we look, and this can be a very dangerous thing.

Someone said, “You can’t help who you fall in love with.” If that is the case, why are we all not falling madly in love with our Creator? He is the only One who deserves our whole hearts, yet, most people do not even acknowledge Him. God has given us free-will choice. We can and should help who we fall in love with. This is the piece of information that I needed to know to break the cycle of bad choices.God has made us totally responsible and capable of making good judgments and sound decisions, but our trust must always be placed in Him. We should never make a person our everything, because they can never live up to that role. They are as imperfect as we are. Instead, we should seek the kind of relationship with Heavenly Father where His love swells in our hearts. When it does, not only will we be guided by His love, but He will teach us how to discern through His Spirit, so that we love smart.

Proverbs 27:19(NLT) tells us, “As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the real person.” A person will reveal to you their true essence in a short period of time. The question is whether you will have the discernment to recognize the voice of God telling you to walk away. Even if the person seems to check off the right boxes, they could be terribly bad for your life.

Love is so much more than we think. It is so much deeper than butterflies in our tummies and swooning in our hearts. That stuff can be fun and makes the heart grow fonder, but make no mistake, the love of God in Christ is the treasure we must be aiming for. When asked what the greatest commandment is, Jesus Christ responded in Mark 12:30(NLT), “And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ God must be first in order for everything else in our lives to work. When we love Him the way we should, we will have all we need to love from a place of strength, courage, faith, and wisdom.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“Love Is Much More Than You Think”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2020. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord! 

You May Be Moving Too Fast

The psalmist, David, said in Psalm 56:13(NKJV), “For You have delivered my soul from death. Have You not kept my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?” It is believed that David was as young as thirty-years-old when he wrote this psalm under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Even at such a young age, he had many challenges, and he was confident that God had gotten him through everything he had faced and would face in the future. He knew that God had delivered him from death and kept his feet from falling. This is something all of us must pay close attention to, because many believers are falling in their faith. They are stumbling both physically and spiritually, and both of these can indicate that something is out of alignment internally.

In a very literal sense, most of us understand what it means to fall. This is why David’s words resonate with us. Not only can falling be harmful to us physically, with broken bones and bruised bodies, but it is often an embarrassing thing as well. So, we associate several not so likeable attributes to an accidental fall, and this helps to cement our understanding of what a catastrophe it can be to fall spiritually.

When I was a youngster, we played in my grandmother’s large yard, running and jumping about. Crying to her over skinned knees and elbows was a common occurrence. She’d often scold us and say, “See, you were going too fast!!! You weren’t paying attention to what you were doing.”  She was right. Her scolding was not to make our fun any less, but to teach us that even when we’re having fun, we must be careful.

From the very beginning, in the Old Testament, God tells us about the first couple, Adam and Eve, and we learn about their tragic and incredibly damaging choice. Adam’s choice to bow to the devil and turn his back on the sovereignty of God is known as “The Fall of Man”. Adam’s wrong choice had dire spiritual ramifications. So, to fall in the spiritual sense is to abdicate the solid and sure standing we have in Christ.

Just as an accidental fall can be a warning sign that we’re not paying attention to our physical surrounding, a spiritual fall is a sign that we are not paying attention to our spiritual standing in Christ, and it is infinitely more harmful than a physical fall. Spiritually, a fall occurs when we’ve veered too far from the path we were destined by God to travel. It’s when mistakes, missteps, and hiccups in life come one right after the other, and many of us don’t recognize the internal misalignment and disharmony they are pointing to.

 A literal fall is often a wakeup call that we’re moving too fast; we need to slow down and think about what we’re doing. We may even need to make a change. Most people don’t recognize this, and it is because they don’t see that there’s a reason for everything, and for everything the reason is spiritual. We can’t put anything in life in a separate compartment and exclude it from having a spiritual reality. Again, everything, from the smallest to the greatest, is spiritual. If we don’t wake up and smell the coffee, we might fall several times before we recognize that our stumbling is because we haven’t taken steps in the right direction. 

Sometimes a wrong action can accelerate our speed towards something detrimental, and this causes our lives to spiral out of control. Sinful and negative thoughts and behaviors over a long period of time also have the potential to cause both a physical and a spiritual fall. Again, it’s a wakeup call to return to the right path. And we can’t behave as if we’re oblivious. Many of us know the difference between right and wrong. We learned it from our parents, faith community, and even our teachers in school, but as we become adults, some of us abandon what we know to be right. We think we can be independent from God, and we think our way is right for us.  

Proverbs 14:12 (NLT) tells us, “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.” Many of us are moving so fast or we’re so into our routines that we can’t see that internally, we’ve changed lanes. The remedy for this is to go to the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Heavenly Father tells us in James 4:6-7(NKJV) “6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” 7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” We must heed God’s warning and instruction in James 4:6-7, so that the devil doesn’t continue to trip us up! We must not let arrogance cancel the humility that is needed to seek God in all things. We can’t have an attitude that if it looks right, then it must be right! Only God knows the true nature of a thing, and we should seek His guidance and ask for His wisdom in our decisions and choices.

Many of us deny God this level of involvement in our lives because we’re arrogant and we think we can do this thing called ‘life’ on our own. We can’t. God’s wisdom in Proverbs 16:18 tells us that pride and arrogance go before a person’s fall. In other words, a fall is guaranteed if we’re so prideful we can’t or won’t see the Lord’s correction or direction. If it appears that you are stumbling and unsteady in life, consider that you may be moving too fast. You may be heading in the wrong direction spiritually, but you can get back on track if you humble yourself before God, make a greater commitment to the example of Christ, and allow Him to direct your path.■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NKJV) are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

“You May Be Moving Too Fast”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2020. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Keeping God First

In Matthew 6:33(NLT), Jesus Christ said, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” This is a commandment of our Lord, and every believer must seek God’s Kingdom first to become all that He wants us to be. All we have to do is look around at the condition of the world, and it shows us the results of not putting God first. Many people have turned their backs on God, but He is not punishing us. 1John 1:5(NLT) tells us, “This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.” Punishment is darkness, and God is all light. There is so much chaos and confusion in the world because the consequences of not caring for one another and not being good stewards of God’s blessings has caught up with us on a large scale. It demonstrates the degree to which we’ve neglected our Creator and neglected to do what we were placed on this earth to do.

Heavenly Father has been extremely patient with us, but we are approaching a time when we will have to make a choice. Either we are going to believe His Word and chose His love, or we are going to face the consequences of a very wrong choice. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 6:24 that we cannot serve two masters; we will either hate the one and love the other, or we will be devoted to the one and despise the other, but we cannot serve both. We are not built to do this. We are created in the image of our Heavenly Father, and our purpose is to walk in partnership with Him throughout our lives. Even with all the craziness in the world, we can still choose God and His love through the Lord Jesus Christ. This is what God wants for every person. He wants to be a Father to us all, and He wants to guide, protect, and walk with each of us every day.

Psalm 91:1(NLT) says, “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” This verse conveys the closeness we can have with God. To live in His shelter is to stay in the comfort of His presence and to rest there, protected from all the cares of the world. He invites us to do this, but resting there will require us to strip away the things that take us out of His peace. Isaiah 26:3(NLT) tells us, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” God requires that we take our minds and hearts out of the world, and give them to Him, because only He can bring rest to us and anyone else that desires it.

There are so many distractions in the world, and to fix our thoughts will require a great effort. Through the Apostle Paul, Heavenly Father tells us in Philippians 4:6-7(NLT), “6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” We can see from His Word that God requires our faith in Him. Worry indicates that we have doubt, and He tells us not to do it. And not only does He tell us what not to doubt, He tells us what to do instead. We are to PRAY about everything!

As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we must develop a habit pattern of prayer. We should have an intimate dialogue with Heavenly Father. Some people think that they have to make themselves perfect before they can pray to God. He does not require this, because we don’t have the ability to make ourselves perfect. Heavenly Father perfects us in Jesus Christ as we surrender and yield to Him. He does the work. All we need to do is give ourselves over to Him in prayer.

Prayer is not a one-way street. It is a dialogue where we talk to God, He listens, and He talks to us, and we should listen. Our listening requires us to be still in His presence. It is a spiritual communication where it’s not just talk, but transformation is taking place. He’s working some things out inside us. He’s strengthening our inner man, and we can be confident that He’s performing a good work in us. Philippians 2:13(NLT) affirms, “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”

One of the ways that we keep God first is to begin each day in prayer, to give our days over to the Lord when we awaken each morning. Jesus Christ did this, and we should follow his pattern. God tells us in Jeremiah 29:11(NLT), “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” God is the One with the plan. He knows how to maximize our days and lives, and He also knows exactly what we ought to be doing in order to become the men and women He’s destined us to be. Jesus prayed in the wee hours of the morning that God would take over his day and that he would be led by God’s Spirit. This is the kind of partnership God desires, and we will do ourselves the greatest good by obliging Him.

Brother Adam and Sister Eve got it into their heads that they could operate and manage life without the Father’s help. Boy, did they get that one wrong. It was a disaster for them, and it will turn into a disaster for us if we choose the same path. We desperately need God’s help, and He is oh so willing to give it. We should accept it. He’s our Creator, and He never intended for us to journey through life without totally leaning on Him.

God must be first because that is who God is! He’s first! He said in Revelation 21:6(NLT), “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life.” God is first in every way, and we must align our thinking with the reality of His truth. Keeping God first requires us to develop a habit pattern of spending quality and quiet time with Him. We will see such a difference in our lives if we do this. It will be the highlight of our days. We must always remember that God’s number one desire is to bless us. We remain in His blessings by seeking Him first in our decisions and choices and following His lead through the example of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This is how we make sure that we’re giving God the number one spot in our lives, and most importantly, keeping Him first in our hearts. ■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“Keeping God First”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2020. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Your Strategy for Happiness

Everyone has a different definition for happiness, and for everyone, happiness is achieved in different ways by different things. There can be no doubt that we all desire it, and the quest for it is what drives many of our ambitions, but happiness is not the door to life. It’s not even a key. For many this is a tough pill to swallow. We’ve placed so much emphasis on feelings and on making ourselves happy with external things that we’ve forgotten happiness is an inside job. It’s a state of mind, which means it’s too subjective to be a foundation for life. What does this mean for our quest? Well, one of the things it means is that we need put on our trusty googles, hone our exploration tools, and get ready to search a little deeper. We may have to alter our strategy for happiness, and if we’ve not had one before, we may have to build it.

The whole reason that we exist is to have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is our Big Brother. Romans 8:29(NLT) says, “For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” Long before we entered our mother’s wombs, God knew us. We are not surprises to Him. He chose us to be His kids, and He wants us to model our lives after His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. We are the brothers and sisters that Jesus Christ wanted, and we should consider this incredible, over the top good news!

God is not redundant. He doesn’t make mistakes. He never has to do a take-back or a do-over. Everything He does ends up achieving the purpose for which He created it. Heavenly Father had a plan for bringing us into His family, and there are absolutely no holes in His plan. When we give our lives to Him through Jesus Christ, a supernatural birth takes place, and we receive His seed. This seed is God’s Holy Spirit. Romans 8:15(NLT) tells us, “So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.””  Through Christ, Heavenly Father adopted us into His family, and now we call Him, “DAD!” It’s the equivalent of the term “Abba Father” that is used in Romans 8:15. It’s a term of endearment and conveys intimacy in the relationship. This is exactly what God wants with each of us, an intimate relationship.

Again, God chose us, which means that everything about us can potentially come together in such a way that we achieve His purpose for our existence. We are wired for this! Whether we realize it or not, God’s purpose is in our DNA! He predesigned and fashioned us to be in the same mold and image as His Son. And through the example of Jesus Christ, we have a pattern for walking in relationship with God every day. The life and example of Jesus Christ is the route to true happiness. He’s the foundation upon which our lives must be built, and but many of us don’t see it this way.

When I was a teenager and started my first foray into baking, I decided to make my mother a homemade German Chocolate cake for her birthday on my own. In my family, baking was more than a casual pastime. It was serious business and all the women in my family could throw down. The pressure was on, and I spent weeks imagining the “pleased as punch” look on my mother’s face once she’d tasted my prize-winning cake. I’d have a space right next to the matriarchs whose baking prowess I did my best to match. Well, instead of a ½ teaspoon of salt and ½ cup of water, guess what I did? You guessed it! Somehow, I got turned around and added a ½ cup of salt instead of the ½ teaspoon the recipe called for.

As an adult looking back on my baking disaster, I can’t help but laugh. I’ve redeemed myself, and my mother was very kind-hearted and forgiving of my mistake back then, but the lesson was clear. The right ingredients are necessary for the sweetness of the cake. Likewise, no matter what strategy we concoct for happiness in life, the right ingredients are needed to make it sweet. We are created spiritual beings, and we were designed to operate through love. The way that we operate optimally is to remain connected to the Source of love. His love is our fuel. It makes the cake sweet.

Our souls have a voice, and they have a memory that is deeper than our conscious minds can fathom. Our souls remember Romans 8:29, that God knew us before we came to the earth, and that we are the brothers and sisters of Christ. In our search for happiness, many of us look everywhere but to the One who can give it. From people, to relationships and material things, we try to receive a soul satisfaction from all those things, but it can only come from our relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ. Romans 8:16(NIV) tells us, The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” This is the internal communication we desperately need. Spirit to spirit communion is what we truly crave, and through Christ, God so freely offers this tremendous gift. It’s the key piece to the strategy of happiness, and we simply can’t be happy without it. ■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“Your Strategy for Happiness”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2020. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!