Take Life in Small Chewable Bites

All of us are wired with that thing that drives us every day we’re on this earth. We can’t touch it and it isn’t audible, but our souls hear it loud and clear. Not only is it the thing that motivates us to get us up out of bed every day, it draws us to certain people and them to us. It makes us crave energies, environments, and experiences that would otherwise be completely foreign to us. We can’t give it a name and we don’t bother to define it. This thing rests beneath our consciousness and most of us never travel that far to face it. We will only skim the surface when the uncertainty of its desire causes us to make colossal mistakes. The blow-back from those painful missteps hurts so much and cuts so deep that we can scarcely walk straight.

Most of us find the courage to keep plunging ahead because the thing that drives us is inexhaustible. Even when we give up, it never does. It should come as no surprise that understanding it more so that we can harness and aim it in the right direction should be our goal. The first piece of information that will aid our understanding is pretty common sense. It is the reality that none of us created the thing, nor can we own or manipulate it. Locked so deep within us that we can’t determine its beginning or end, we must resign ourselves to the truth that destiny is the thing. It is in us, coded in our DNA, and it reaches further back than Adam, the first created human, for God tells us in Ephesians 1:4(NLT), “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.”

Proverbs 14:12 affirms that there is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in destruction. The phenomenal wisdom that God gives here makes it a certainty that every person living or that has ever lived has more than one path in life they can choose. They can choose a path that seems right, or they can choose a path that is right. Sadly, most will choose a path that seems right and will end up in a horrible place spiritually. The path that seems right is not their destiny and choosing this path will leave us perplexed and unsettled with life.

The path to our true destiny in Christ doesn’t allow us to know all its ins and outs in one fell swoop. We must walk it out, hand in hand with the Master as he directs our path. Patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, joy, peace, and love are the Spirit’s fruit, and they are produced from the choices we make to walk with Christ every moment of each day. It is a process supported by the combination of time, life, and the Holy Spirit. We are being perfected through and by the Lord. It is in truth the transformation of our souls into the men and women Heavenly Father has destined us to be.

Destiny forces us to deal with our souls. Dealing with our souls requires Christian discipline. This means that it requires an incredible amount of humility and a maturity level that will acknowledge that the Spirit’s fruit is the target. To discipline the soul in this way is sometimes a challenging and jarring process, but the rewards are stellar. It involves sacrifice, so most individuals will opt out of this work of the soul for the quickest route to pleasure. We have our own ideas about what will fulfill our souls and make us happy. Unwisely and often impetuously, we try to open our mouths wide and take the biggest bite out of life that we possibly can. We’re not thinking about God’s eternal riches or longevity but want as much of what the world has to offer as we get right now. The truth is that people will take those big bites, and they will chew and chew and chew, but won’t ever get full. We’ll never be full that way.

Our destinies belong to God. He owns every nook and cranny of them. The destiny that God has placed in every individual is completely covered in Christ. Romans 8:29(NIV) tells us, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” The person of Jesus Christ is the blueprint for God’s original design for all human beings. Coded within each of us is all the mechanics to fulfill God’s purpose for our existence. We’re driven by it even if we don’t realize it. Destiny is designed by the Creator to be lived-out each day, and to do so in total submission to Him.

Jesus Christ commands us in Matthew 6:33 to seek the Kingdom of God first, above all else, and to live righteously before God, and He will give us everything we need. So, each day is given to us to seek the Will of the God and then move according to His agenda. So many people miss this entirely, and because they do, life is lived beneath their privilege.

Life has little tolerance for us trying to steer our own destinies. We can only see what is right in front of us, and none of us can predict the future. God is the One that holds our tomorrows. He has the master plan for our lives. Although our desire is to take that big gulp out of life, He knows that we can only handle small chewable bites. We must submit ourselves to God and have total faith in Him. We should open our mouths wide to swallow as much of His truth as we possibly can. Psalm 34:8-10(NIV) says,“8 Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. 9 Fear the LORD, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing. 10 The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.” Our souls may at times deny it, but the thing we desperately need is Christ. He is the only One that can steer us into the infinite possibilities our destinies hold.■

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.

“Take Life in Small Chewable Bites”, 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!

Sold Out on God’s Goodness

I’ve had several conversations with Brenda, a wonderful woman who is over 50 and yearns to be married again. Quite honestly, my heart breaks every time this subject comes up. Brenda’s desire for partnership is palpable and finding a compatible mate invariably comes up at some point in just about all her conversations. She always requests that I pray for her, and she frequently asks me why I think the Lord hasn’t yet answered her prayers, but when I endeavor to encourage her, she won’t allow it to land. She either over-talks me, zones out, or takes only the bits and pieces of what I’ve said that fit with her own narrative.

It’s been ten years since her divorce, and it was an abusive marriage. Brenda struggles with forgiving herself for leaving her husband and still wonders if she did the right thing. For a long time, she believed that God was punishing her for it by not allowing her to marry again. Nothing could be further from the truth, but we can get so dug in when it comes to our way of thinking that we simply refuse to see life any other way. 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.” Gifts from our Heavenly Father cannot be improved, they are perfect, just as He is perfect. He is a Giver in the greatest, most infinite sense of the Word. He does not punish or withhold gifts. He gives freely and it is His great delight to do so.

If we refuse to see God in the truth of His identity, we will not be able to see ourselves in the truth of our identity. Ephesians 2:10(NLT) tells us, 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 calls us His finest work, and He has a plan for our lives. We were not created to wing it as we go along. Psalm 37:23(NLT) says, “The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.” Heavenly Father intended our lives to be in total partnership with Him, and His expectation is that we will move according to His Will and Plan for us.

Brenda is beginning to understand that God isn’t punishing her, but she still struggles with doubting God’s love, and she also struggles with negative thoughts about herself. Hebrews 11:6 tells us that it is impossible to please God without faith in Him, and Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes by hearing and perceiving the Word of God. Faith is required for every move we make. You cannot get up from where you are sitting without faith in your ability to do so. Romans 12:3 tells us that God gives every person a certain measure of faith, but His expectation is that we will increase it as we continue to pursue His Word. So, when we are not fully persuaded in God’s goodness, life doesn’t cooperate with us in the way we desire. Instead, life responds to our doubt and unbelief, and it continues to show us situations, circumstances, and conditions that reflect our refusal to fully trust God.

This is the insidiousness of darkness. It enslaves until we understand the authority and power we’ve been given through Jesus Christ and refuse to be enslaved any longer. We must come from behind the veil, and 2Corinthians 3:14,16-17(NLT) tells us, “14 And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ. 16 But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” The Lord Jesus Christ releases us into his glorious light where we can remain continually under God’s covering. The greatest desire of our hearts must be to trust our Heavenly Father by believing in what He has given us in Christ. God is worthy of our overwhelming and unrelenting trust. He alone is worthy of our praise.

I’m not sure what it will take for Brenda to desire God more than she desires to meet someone new, but rest assured, that is the leap of faith all of us must make to please Him. 2Chronicles 16:9(NLT) tells us, “The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” Heavenly Father wants our hearts to be sold-out on His goodness, for He is a good God and there is none that compares to Him. Domestic violence and abuse can do a number on our self-confidence. It can cause us to think the worst about ourselves and others and to even think the worse of our own ability to make good and sound choices, but Jesus Christ is the solution for this. Through him we can be strengthened. We can be wiser from God’s Word, and it is Heavenly Father’s desire that we allow Him to fill up our empty places, so that our minds and hearts are transformed by our faith 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.

“Sold Out on God’s Goodness”, 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!

God Wants Our Eyes Open

Galatians 5:1(MSG)
“Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.”

“Why am I constantly being hit with one problem after another? Why can’t I catch a break?”

I once heard a Domestic Violence and Abuse counselor say that many individuals continue to suffer abuse because they haven’t reached a point of not wanting the abuser in their lives anymore. I must admit that I was surprised and a little shocked when I heard this, but it expanded how I viewed the traumatic events of my own life and the mindsets of both the abuser and the person being abused. There is no question that a person being abused has to make a shift. They must come to a place of recognizing that God doesn’t want anyone to be abused. They must also realize they deserve better and that God will help them. This is part of what it means to come into the light of awareness about God’s plan for your life and align our steps with His agenda instead of our own.

Many of us will endure mistreatment and abuse a long time before we begin to trust God and free ourselves from darkness. When you pull back the layers of why we suffer abuse so long, the root of it can be traced to a lack of faith in God. We don’t have faith that He loves us and gives us strength. We don’t have faith that He will bring someone wonderful into our lives, and we don’t have faith that we can become the version of ourselves that He created us to be.

Everything in life requires faith. We can’t get out of bed each morning if we don’t have faith that we can do it. Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes from hearing the Good News about Jesus Christ. God is the Giver of life. He made it possible for us to have life through His Son, Jesus Christ. Most people understand that life is a gift from God; they at least know this from His Word, but most don’t invest the time to know more than this from His Word. They think they’re here on this earth to do their own thing, and that God doesn’t want to be bothered with the minute details of our decisions and choices. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Proverbs 3:5-6(NLT) tells us, “5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” We’re to trust in God with all our hearts, but in an abusive situation, sometimes all our hearts aren’t available to us. We’re too consumed with either trying to protect ourselves or deal with the dysfunction of the abuser. God tells us to cease with leaning on our own understanding, because we’re blinded by the continual shenanigans of the devil. Only Heavenly Father knows and sees the big picture. He is the Only One that can make a way out of no way. Verse 5 instructs us to seek the Will of the Father in ALL that we do. We are to pray earnestly, diligently, and faithfully. He hears us. He is able and willing to help us, and only He can direct our feet on the path He desires us to take.

Galatians 5:1 tells us that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, has set us free. He did this when he came to live on the earth, became human like us, sacrificed his life and was resurrected from the dead by the Holy Spirit. Hebrews 2:14(NLT) says, “Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death.” Darkness belongs to the devil, and darkness has many cousins like fear, doubt, insecurity, bondage, destruction, depression, and death. These are many of the things that the devil uses to overpower people and keep them enslaved. The weapon that he uses to do it with is ignorance. People can’t rise above what they don’t know, so when we are not knowledgeable regarding what God has done for us through Jesus Christ, the devil can keep us oppressed.

God has designed life in such a way that the more we know about Jesus Christ, the more we grow in faith. The more we grow in faith, the better our lives become. Jesus Christ said in John 8:32(NLT), “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” If knowing the Good News of Jesus Christ sets us free, then not knowing it keeps us in bondage. This is the current state of many of God’s people, and it is because they haven’t learned about what Jesus Christ has made available. When we don’t hear the Good News and trust it, we live far beneath our privilege. The lights are not on in terms of us understanding our identity in Christ and who God has created us to be.

2Corinthians 4:4(NLT) says, “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.” Have you ever wondered why when one crazy thing happens, no sooner than you get it handled, another pops up right after it? Sometimes, it’s just one thing after another. Many people become so used to this bombardment of issues and problems, that they think this is the way God wants life to go. This isn’t true. 1Corinthians 14:33 tells us that God is not the author of confusion. He is a God of peace, and He desires us to live a peaceful existence, so that we can have peaceful fellowship in our relationship with Him.

If we submit to God, repent from our sins, and trust Him in faith, God will help us. When our trust is in Him, we can be courageous and refuse to walk in darkness any longer. God has given us victory through Jesus Christ, but we must walk in this victory.

Our Heavenly Father wants us to see the glorious light of the Good News of Jesus Christ. God wants us to know that Jesus Christ gave his life as a sacrifice for our sins so that we will saved from a life of bondage and darkness. Ephesians 5:8(NLT) tells us, “For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!” Heavenly Father created us to be children of His glorious light. If we allow it, His light will shine in our hearts and begin to produce good things in our lives.

It’s time out for not seeing the truth of who God has made us. Whether it is a spouse or significant other who doesn’t treat us well, when you and I don’t know the truth of God’s Word, the enemy can use people that are close to us to keep us blinded from the light of Christ. We must wake up and see it for what it is. Know that every decision you make to walk in your truest, highest self in Christ is a move towards the light. We were created by God to be free, and when we repent of our sins, seek God’s forgiveness, and read His Word more, our lives will be transformed. ■

Scripture quotations marked MSG are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

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.

“God Wants Our Eyes Open”, written by Fran and Kyrene for 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!

Flip the Script and Increase Your Faith!

Mark 9 chronicles the record of a father who had a son that was possessed with a demon. We live in a time where many folks don’t like to believe there is such an entity as a demon, and they certainly don’t want to think about the possibility that humans can be possessed by them. But God’s Word is true, and our opinions and speculations are meaningless when it comes to the truth. As my grandmother would say, there’s a whole lot of folks on this planet, and many of them are full of the devil; they’re just very clever at disguising it. In the days that Jesus Christ walked the earth, people understood that everything is spiritual, so when the father approached our Master Jesus, this father with a young son understood that he needed a spiritual solution.

The boy and his father had made quite the spectacle that day, and Jesus Christ was very used to there being huge crowds wherever he went. He is charismatic, energetic, kind, gentle, compassionate, intelligent, and more powerful that we can fathom. When he walked the earth, people flocked to him like a magnet. They had great need, and if they had faith in him, their needs were met in a miraculous way. News of Jesus Christ spread quickly and wherever he went, the crowds expected great teaching, healing, and miracles.

Jesus Christ approached the crowd and inquired about all the ruckus. Mark 9:17-18(NLT) tells us, “17 One of the men in the crowd spoke up and said, “Teacher, I brought my son so you could heal him. He is possessed by an evil spirit that won’t let him talk. 18 And whenever this spirit seizes him, it throws him violently to the ground. Then he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn’t do it.” The father wanted to save his son and was desperate for help. He told Jesus Christ in Mark 9:22(NLT), “The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.”

It is extremely important for us to pay attention to the details of this account. As a parent, we can relate to the agony of seeing our children in pain, and we can imagine how badly the father wanted his son to be healed, but when he said to Jesus Christ, “IF you can…”, the father revealed that doubt was still calling the shots, and doubt is the enemy of all the blessings of God. So often, we trust the pain and misery the devil sends more than we trust the goodness, power, and willingness of God to bless us. Whether two thousand years ago or today, when doubt dominates our mindsets, the script must be flipped in order for God’s blessing to manifest. Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes from hearing the truth about Jesus Christ. If the truth isn’t present, faith does not come.

Hebrews 11:6(NLT) tells us, “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” God’s grace and mercy are never ending, but He is a Righteous Judge who never violates His law. In the systems of laws and governments that humans have produced, we hear all the time about judges and officials that are corrupt and manipulate the system of justice to serve their own interest of power and greed. Our God would never do this. His Word is His law, and it is incorruptible. Our Heavenly Father is beyond faithful to uphold the standards of justice He has set. So, when He tells us that it is impossible to please Him without faith, we have no other choice but to understand that faith in God is a requirement. It is the basis of our relationship with Him. Without it, it is impossible to please our God.

Jesus Christ showed us this in his response to this boy’s father in Mark 9:23-24(NLT). He said, “23 What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” 24 The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” So often we become desponded, disillusioned, and defeated in our minds because we’re up against incredible circumstances, but our believing is going in the opposite direction of faith. The boy’s father asked the Lord Jesus Christ to help him overcome his unbelief. This is the humility that unlocked the door for God to come into the situation and bring the miraculous.

Many of us assume we’re doing this faith walk the right way. When things don’t work out to our satisfaction, we immediately think that God isn’t cooperating with us, when the reality is that we’re not cooperating with God. We’re not getting in His Word daily, learning about Jesus Christ, and praying often. We’re not thinking and speaking what God thinks and speaks, and we’re not believing that God will do what He says in His Word. He keeps His promises. We have to change this, so that we flip the script, increase our faith, and renew our minds by changing the way we think. There doesn’t exist in all of time a substitute for having faith in God, and we don’t get to play at it. Faith in God through the Lord Jesus Christ is necessary to develop our relationship with Him. It allows us to respond to Heavenly Father with the gratitude, reverence, and love that He deserves. Faith is how we come near to God, and when we do, we demonstrate we believe that He exists, and this is something He promises to reward. ■

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.

“Flip the Script and Increase Your Faith!”, 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!

Never Give Up!

Prior to the pandemic, a woman I had known for several years passed away. I didn’t consider her a friend, but she was certainly an acquaintance for whom our meeting was very purposeful. Indirectly, she taught me many lessons that have been important to my spiritual journey in Christ. I learned them from observing her actions and from those she depended on for help. Towards the end of her life, she was very miserable and depressed. She seemed to give up even before her condition worsened, and because she did, people around her, including those responsible for her care, seemed to give up too. This was the last lesson I would learn from her, and I made sure to learn it well. Never give up. Even when others abandon hope, fight the good fight of faith.

The Apostle Paul tells us in 1Timothy 6:12 that faith is indeed a good fight! It begins in our hearts, gets its momentum in our minds, and soars with the actions we take to back it. The thing is, many of us think we have it when we really don’t understand what it is. We don’t understand why we’ve been given this potent spiritual substance, and more importantly, many of us haven’t studied God’s Word to know exactly how we should apply it. As a young adult believer, just learning some of the deep truths of God’s Word, initially I thought faith was the way to get God’s goodies. I had been badgered severely by the evil one and his cohorts, and I thought my whole life would be one big struggle. When I learned about having faith in God through the Lord Jesus Christ, I just about jumped right out of my skin! It literally blew my socks off, and I was changed forever.

I had lost my job, had my car repossessed, and was down to ketchup sandwiches—that’s all I had in the frig. Things were really bad, and I couldn’t see a way out. I had no clue that human beings could live with God’s power. The notion had never occurred to me. I felt helpless and hopeless. It popped into my head on more than one occasion that I was being punished, but I couldn’t quite figure out what for. I knew that I wasn’t perfect, but I was being dragged through the mud and my circumstances seemed to be getting worse by the day. God opened my eyes to His Word through wonderful individuals that were willing and relentless to teach me to walk by faith.

John 10:10(NKJV) was a pivotal verse for me. In it, Jesus Christ said, “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.” I felt that my life was far from abundant, but as I started to believe that God’s Will was for me to have a more than abundant existence, I could sense a shift internally. As I began to build my relationship with God, my faith in Him increased and soon the internal shift in my thoughts and feelings made its way into my external circumstances.

Hebrew 11:1 tells us that faith is the title deed to what we hope for, and it is the evidence that we have the thing we’ve prayed to receive even before it shows up. We must believe in what we can’t see. 2Corinthians 5:7 tells us that we must walk by faith and not by sight. We also must learn that our faith must be expressed through the love of Christ. Spiritual maturity beckons us to leave the ‘kid in a candy store’ mentality behind, because it’s an attitude where our focus is mainly consumed with what we want. Intimacy in our relationship with God demands that our focus is on His purpose and fulfilling His plan for our individual lives.

This means that as our faith and spiritual maturity increase, some of the things we’ve held on to so tightly will need to be released. The woman that passed away hit this lesson home for me. I don’t know this for a fact, but it seemed to me that she had spent a great deal of her life being bitter. She complained a lot and had an opinion about everything, and when she didn’t like something, her words could be harsh and biting. I believed this had been her pattern of behavior for a very long time. Whether by receiving a revelation from the Spirit or by an encounter with a believer that had called her out on her stuff, this woman tried in her later years to change her behavior a bit and release some of those negative patterns. She had an epiphany of sorts and must have saw a reflection of who she had groomed herself to be, and she didn’t like what she saw.

She showed me an up-close and personal portrait of what it looks like to spend a lifetime knowing about God, but not spend a lifetime getting to know who He is through Christ. She hadn’t made that intimate connection with Heavenly Father through His Son, and therefore, she hadn’t learned to walk by faith. She didn’t know that a person can believe God to live a good life and actually have one. She hadn’t believed in the miraculous, didn’t think it showed up in people’s lives like it did in mine. And when the circumstances of her life called for her to trust Him to show up in an amazing way, her mind and heart couldn’t make the leap of faith required.

If you and I are not tenaciously, confidently, and exuberantly overwhelmed with joy about the faith that Jesus Christ has given us, then we haven’t truly discovered what faith is. It is potent beyond what you and I can imagine, and in the words of our Master Jesus in Mark 11:23, if we truly believe, through faith in God, mountains can be moved.

We must believe that #1, God is all powerful, #2, that He is a Rewarder who rewards His children, and #3 that He is WILLING and delighted to use His power to help and bless us through the Lord Jesus Christ! Faith is unleased in a powerful way when our attitude and belief is in line with all three truths. You can’t be lackluster in mind and heart about the faith of Jesus Christ, because if you are, you will not be fully transformed into his likeness. The faith of Jesus Christ is more dynamic, transformative, and powerful than anything we could ever hope to acquire. It is the instrument of change for those belonging to the higher consciousness of his love and light. Romans 10:17 tells us faith comes by hearing the Word of God, and it will perform in direct proportion to our level of enthusiasm, reverence, confidence, and belief in God through Christ.

If we are not thrilled beyond excitement about faith, we are not a match for its potency. If we don’t understand that God has given us the same faith that Jesus Christ had, so we can get some good things done in the earth just like him, then we need more knowledge about Christ. The tenacity, endurance, and hopefulness of which we pursue the faith of Jesus Christ will determine its outcome. If you’re anything like me, you want all that God has in store for you. Let’s not be like the poor lady who thought faith was something you take off the shelf for one day a week for an hour or so. Let’s get real about why we’re here and what we’re supposed to be doing. We were created in the image of God and in the likeness of Christ. Faith defines us, and we must fight to bring our minds and hearts equal to its power.■

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.

“Never Give Up!”, 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!

Care for the Soul

What makes us pursue someone that hurts us? I’ve seen it more times than I can say. A woman is disrespected, abused, and sometimes cheated on, and when the man leaves, she does everything within her power to get him back. Is our fear of rejection and loneliness so severe that we will do just about anything to keep a warm body near? I personally know women that have compromised their integrity, put their jobs on the line, and even sacrificed the well-being and their responsibilities to their children in order to get the man back. What I’ve learned is that when we abandon the care of our souls, our need for intimate connection can take us down a very dark and dangerous path.

Genesis 1:26 very plainly tells us that God made human beings in His own image. One of the attributes of God’s image is that He is self-governing. He makes decisions, and He doesn’t have to consult anyone about them. He alone is sovereign, and He can do anything that pleases Him. One of the things that pleased Him was to weave this self-governing attribute into our beings as well. We make our own choices and decisions, and God doesn’t stop us from doing this. In all of humanity’s history, there wasn’t a more catastrophic choice and decision than the one Adam and Eve made when they disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden and bowed to satan. Surely, if there were such a thing as God interfering with our choices and decisions, that would have been an occasion when He would have done it. He could have slapped that ol’ apple right out of Eve’s hand and prevented the series of horrific events that led to the fall of humanity, but God didn’t interfere.

Romans 11:29(NLT) tells us, “For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn.” Heavenly Father allowed Adam and Eve to throw away the treasures of life and holiness that He’d given them. He gave them, and He’s given all of us the gift of free-will agency, and He will not overstep or withdraw it. Understanding His allegiance to His Word also underscores the reality that there’s no mistake any human being can make that God cannot correct. His Will goes forth no matter how foolish we are. Adam messed up big time, and God sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to correct Adam’s colossal mistake. Our Heavenly Father could have wiped Adam and Eve from the face of the earth and made it as if they had never existed, but He didn’t do this. He is a redeeming God, and His willingness to offer redemption reveals that He is forgiving, full of love, and He bestows grace and mercy upon those who seek it. This is indeed good news for us!

To redeem is to compensate for the faults or poor aspects of something by exchanging them for something far better. What God did for us through Christ was to redeem us from sin, so that we could be all He originally intended us to be before the first couple’s catastrophic actions. He did this spiritually, and it’s up to us to align our souls so they are in harmony with the overwhelming love God has shown us through Christ.

Sin is not doing things God’s way. Jesus Christ told us in John 14:6 that he is the way, the truth, and the life. So, God has shown us HIS WAY through Christ, but in the minds of most, sin seems like the easiest, most pleasurable and practical choice. The Bible tells us that thoughts like this about sin are those belonging to a person that has a mind blinded by satan. 2Corinithans 4:4 says that because satan has blinded them, they can’t see the glorious light of Christ and don’t understand it. This is the condition of an individual that craves the thing that causes injury to their souls and pursues that thing instead of the healing that comes from God.

Wanting a person so much that we are willing to chase after them even though we know they are not good for us; this shows us the degree to which our souls need nourishment. Fear is a lie from hell. It causes us to abdicate our rightful standing of authority and power in Christ. Fear causes us to hold tightly to what we think will bring us pleasure, because we don’t believe God’s way will achieve a better outcome. God is the One with the plan for our lives. We must not ever underestimate the good plan that He has in store for us, and we must never underestimate how much prayer will help to align our steps with what He has planned.

Darkness will cause us to think that our souls can lead us righteously, and arrogance will cause us to think that we alone can come up with a workable plan. Not so. The good news is that we can indeed become all that we were meant to be and have the life God wants to give us, but our humility is not negotiable. We must surrender our plan for God’s plan.

Heavenly Father told us in Psalm 46:10(NKJV), “Be still, and know that I am God.” Stillness is a spiritual practice, one that requires the discipline to put the soul on lockdown, so that we give our spirit a chance to minister to us according to the Lord’s guidance. We need to cease from responding and reacting to our circumstances and move to the place of spiritual quietness and renewal; it’s a place where we humbly submit ourselves to the leadership of Christ. It’s when we have surrendered all to God and are availing ourselves to Him, and Him alone, in every way possible.

We live in a time where everyone does whatever they feel is right for their own souls, and this is usually done without accountability or responsibility to what God says is right. It simply will not work, and the current state of the world proves this overwhelmingly. Our Heavenly Father backs His Word. He’s supreme and He does not lie. Even though our souls may experience discomfort, it isn’t the person that left they are aching for. Our souls ache to be fed manna from heaven, the everlasting power and virtue of God’s Word. If we’ll make the free-will choice to turn to Heavenly Father and trust what He says, we will receive comfort and calm, as our souls are transformed by the One who made them.■

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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.

“Care for the Soul”, 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!

Bound or Loosed

Matthew 16:19(NLT)
“And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

I went to a wedding of a dear friend last summer. As I watched this couple declare their devotion for the rest of their lives, I prayed that they would be able to stand strong through whatever would come their way. Over the holidays I spoke to my friend’s brother, and he said that the two of them were having a lot of problems. In his words, “All hell was breaking lose in their marriage.”  He believes it is because his brother is very egotistical and has anger issues. On the other hand, he said, “His wife is very needy and can’t seem to do anything without my brother’s permission.”

God created marriage to be the most rewarding and beautiful gift, but if we’re not spiritually mature, it can also be very challenging. Just about everyone that takes that walk down the aisle underestimates this. One of the most challenging aspects of marriage is dealing with the emotions of another person. At no time should one spouse ever disrespect the other, but situations will arise that can test our limits and stretch us beyond the point we ever thought possible. Most people that are married will attest to the reality that you see all sides to a person as you grow and become one. Sometimes you see things you couldn’t have imagined, even after knowing and dating your current spouse a while before you married.

God has given us the person of the Holy Spirit to dwell within our body temples. Jesus Christ told us in John 16:13 that the Spirit’s occupation is to comfort, teach, lead, and guide us according to the instruction he receives from Christ. Through His Spirit that indwells us, God will prepare us for marital partnership if we allow Him.

Ephesians 1:11 tells us that God predestined our existence even before the foundation of the world. Acts 17:26 tells us that He appointed the times of our births and the family that we would be born into. There isn’t anything about our lives God doesn’t know. He knows the person that is best suited to walk with us through life. The truth is that many of us don’t choose this person. Some of us fall in love with a person that hasn’t learned to love through Christ and has no intention of ever loving us in the way we deserve. To our disappointment and detriment, and because they haven’t learned a Christ kind of love and compassion, some of these individuals are abusive.

Heavenly Father does not want us in this kind of situation. He knows we’re not perfect and that we will get ourselves into trouble. This is why He tells us in Proverbs 3:5-6(NLT), “5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”  This passage is one that every individual must have as their foundation.

Sometimes people cross the line and go way past the issue of carrying baggage. They resort to hurting those who love them most. This is evil, and when we’re in a situation that leads to this kind of bondage, many of us feel overwhelmed. We don’t know what to do, but God tells us exactly what to do and exactly what not to do in Proverbs 3:5-6. We don’t lean on our own understanding, but instead, we seek His Word to find out His Will, and we lean on Him to direct our paths.

In Matthew 16:19, Jesus Christ tells us that he’s given us the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. We have the keys to unlock doors that lead to all the abundance the Kingdom of God extends. These keys are in your possession. When you settle your mind and heart to use them, don’t attempt to walk down corridors that lead to where and who you used to be. You can never be that person again, but you can and should be the person God has destined you to become! You can be stronger and better through the love of God in Christ, and this is where you must place your confidence.

Don’t stay locked in a situation that undermines your right to walk in the liberty of Christ. Trust God with all your heart and seek His Will in all you do. When you use the keys according to His Word, you will loosen those things that keep you bound, and God will show you a way out. ■

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.

“Bound or Loosed”, written by KYada for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2021. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

The Lord Jesus Christ Has the Key

Revelations 3:7-8(NLT)
“7 This is the message from the one who is holy and true, the one who has the key of David. What he opens, no one can close; and what he closes, no one can open. 8 “I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close.”

I spoke to an old friend this week and she was going through some pretty rough times with her family.  She said to me, “I can’t trust anyone around me. I don’t have nobody!” For many born-again believers today, their world seems shaky and unstable. They are feeling insecure because there’s so much uncertainty all around us. Some folks that have declared their love for the Lord for years are now starting to doubt His love all together. The institutions we have relied on for support are breaking down, and their corruption is on blast for everyone to see. Pandemic notwithstanding, everything seems out of place, and many Christians are losing focus and faith. We must not be deceived by what the devil is trying to do. Instead, we must remember and forever stand on the reality that our hope is in Christ, not in human beings.

This period has been especially taxing for some that haven’t been around their loved ones and are feeling lonely and secluded. The emotional toll on their relationships has been devastating in many ways, and some relationships have been irreparably damaged. God knows all that’s happening to us. In the passage of Revelations 3:7-8(NLT), He declared that only He holds our tomorrows, and only He has the power to open and close the doors that are important to our lives.

Many people do not believe this. Challenging times often reveal whether we truly trust God and will choose to follow Him no matter how things look, or if we will abandon our faith as soon as things get tough. We have leaned far too heavily on worldly systems. This has caused many people’s faith muscle to become saggy and flaccid. God created us in such a way that the core of our being is strengthened by faith, and when our faith is small, the circumstances of our lives begin to mirror our refusal to walk in Christ with authority and boldness.

There can be no doubt that we are witnessing spiritual warfare in an unprecedented fashion. And it is affecting many aspects of our lives, but God didn’t hide this from us. In His Word, He has told us exactly what we’d encounter in the world, and He also told us exactly who our real enemy is. He teaches us in Ephesians 6:12(NLT),  “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”

In order to stand firm against spiritual warfare in the earth, God tells us to put on every spiritual weapon He has provided. His spiritual weapons are fail-proof, and through them we can continue to walk in the victory of Jesus Christ, even when there’s chaos and confusion all around us. 1John 4:4(NLT) declares, “But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.”

We cannot have faith and fear at the same time. We must make a choice. James 1:6(NLT) warns that when we ask God for His blessings, we must “be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.” Don’t let satan convince you that the world has something to give you. In the world, there is only heartache and misery, but in Christ there is joy everlasting. He is the door, and he has given us the key to it. Don’t look for the key anywhere else, not in the world, not in a man, or any other person. Anchor your faith in Christ, so that the core of your being is fortified in him. Then, you will be confident in your ability to withstand any challenge through his strength and power.  ■

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.

“The Lord Jesus Christ Has the Key”, written by KYada for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2021. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Obsessed with the Outer Reality

Sometimes, there are people that come across our paths at the oddest times, and they eventually leave as quickly as they came. I met such a person some years ago. For anonymity’s sake, we’ll call her Alexa. She’s nice enough, pleasant to talk to, and very savvy, but I don’t think I’ve ever been quite as uncomfortable around anyone as I was her. To say she was always impeccably dressed is truly an understatement. Hair beautifully coifed, makeup tight, with a perfect manicure to boot, I was super impressed and a little intimidated to be honest. Her kids were as immaculately kept as she appeared to be. Everything was designer this or that, and the Italian and French names rolled effortlessly from her lips.

As I got to know Alexa a little better, her obsession with status was hard to miss. The car, the home, private schools for the kids, all of it had to be top notch. Her need to keep up with it all was unlike anything I had ever witnessed. It would be wonderful to say that she was as adamant about her relationship with the Lord and with the condition of her soul as she was about shoes with red bottoms, but I personally saw no evidence of this. What I did see, however, was how a life can be totally devastated when an accountability to spiritual principles is ignored, neglected, or refused.

There is a very base level of consciousness that most human beings never seek to elevate. It may sound like a judgment, but truth is not bound, hindered, or bothered by any individual’s judgment. Truth stands on its own and proves itself. When we’re obsessed with the outer reality to the point that we’re neglecting the inner reality, every aspect of our existences will begin to mirror this neglect.

In 1Thessalonians 5:23(NLT), God commands, Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again.” We are made in the image of God. The Godhead is triune: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In like manner, He created humans to be triune as well. He is our Father, we are His children, and it is therefore undeniably logical and perfectly intelligent that our makeup should mirror His. He’s a God of order, and everything He does has order and purpose. We are an on-purpose people serving and honoring an on-purpose God.

Three parts make up the sum of our being, and without all three parts, we would not be human beings, we’d be something else. We have a human spirit, a human soul, and a human body. All three parts are to be in harmony, and to be unified to such a degree that all are functioning and operating in the very same way that Christ did. A Christ-level of being is the ultimate and the highest state than any living creature could ever hope to attain. To help us achieve this highest state of living and being, God has given us a part of Himself. He’s given us His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, and sealed our human spirit with His Spirit. Ephesians 1:13-14 The Message(MSG) affirms, “ It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This down payment from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life.”

Our human spirit was recreated by Jesus Christ through the born-again experience and is perfect in every way. It is the highest part of us, and the soul and body must obey it in order to be in harmony with the Lord. A base level consciousness refuses to be obedient to the ways of Jesus Christ, and because of this refusal, the souls of many people are not fed the diet of God’s Word they desperately need. Our recreated human spirit contains our new nature, and this new nature wants to do what is right, but the soul is a very different story. The soul has the old nature, one that craves whatever will make the body feel pleasure. It is a flesh driven existence, one that keeps a person craving the very thing that defeats them.

The old nature rebels against the ways of Christ, and it causes the kind of self-sabotage that not only destroys our lives, but it can take others down with it. I saw the beginning of this with Alexa. Her need to control, her temper tantrums when she didn’t get her way, and the nastiness of her arrogance were corrosive. When her life began to crumble, the shame of it was too much. The marriage, the home, the car…all of it gone. As quickly as her life had crossed my path, it faded from my view, as it did for many others.

To give ourselves the greatest chance for fulfillment and peace during our sojourn on earth, we’ve got to disconnect from the old nature and feed our souls the diet it desperately craves, which is life in the Spirit. Everything in our entire being is aching for us to let the Spirit be at work within. Ephesians 3:20(NLT) says, Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,” God’s power works in us through His Holy Spirit. God’s Holy Spirit is His seed, and He has placed His seed within our human spirits to help us lead a successful life as followers of Jesus Christ. Letting the Spirit take the lead over our lives through Christ is the very best decision we can make, and it will benefit the whole of our existence. The question that you and I must ask ourselves is whether we’re allowing the Holy Spirit to be at work. If we aren’t, now is a terrific time to start.■

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 MSG are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

“Obsessed with the Outer Reality”, 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!

Practicing the Peace of God

Not long ago, a friend said to me that she’s rarely had occasions when she didn’t feel the gut-wrenching discomfort of fear churning away inside her. With everything that is going on in our world, she believes her fears are getting worse. She’s often heard folks speak about the peace of God, but she finds it very challenging to accept. My friend is afraid of everything, and much of her time is spent preparing for the worse. Many of us have been there, and some of us are still there. The anxious gnawing away inside us is the response to our fear of eminent danger, and it’s because we feel powerless to do anything about what we perceive to be a threat. Whether or not we can readily identify any immediate danger is irrelevant. Our internal register tells us that we’ve been wounded before, and we are in jeopardy of being wounded again.

Romans 8:37 declares that we are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ who loves us! The “more than” takes it over the moon for me, because it conveys overwhelming victory through Christ. A life filled with fear is operating in a whole other dimension than a life fully operating in Romans 8:37. It’s almost as if the two individuals, one trusting Christ and the other overwhelmed by fear, are on two different planets. Our fears, worries, and doubts do nothing to help any situation that arises, yet most of us gravitate towards these heavies more than we do towards faith in God through Jesus Christ.

The thing that I shared with my friend is that fear has a ravenous appetite. It doesn’t know how to take one bite. It just wants more and more and more. Anxiety and worry feed it and continue doing so until this cycle of feeding and wanting more takes over a person’s life. At some point, we have to get off this rollercoaster and realize that although it’s fast moving, it’s not getting us anywhere.

The peace of God is our destination, and there are certain choices and decisions it requires for the journey forward. The first of which is understanding that we’re not in charge of God’s peace. It isn’t something we calculate, manipulate, or ration. Fear makes us think that by feeding it, we have some degree of control. We don’t, and this mindset will not fly with the things of God. He is sovereign. This means that He’s in total control, and the only way that you and I can experience His blessings is through our humility. We must humble ourselves before all that He is. Fear is from the kingdom of darkness, and fear does not acknowledge that God is in control.

Another important choice we must make is that of no longer practicing fear. This is not to say that we must totally eradicate every drop of fear in our lives. From where we stand today, none of us are even totally conscious of how much fear and doubt is in our hearts. But to the extent that we are aware, we must focus our attention on God through the person of Jesus Christ and allow Him to do what only He can do in our lives.

Philippians 4:6-7(NLT) tells us, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 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 have to be willing to surrender everything to God in prayer, understanding that our faith in Him through Jesus Christ is what transports us from chaos and confusion into His perfect peace. We cannot steer, and we don’t own the map. All we are required to do is to trust Heavenly Father and train the eyes of our hearts to continually look to the Lord, as we allow our souls to rest in His peace.■

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.

“Practicing the Peace of God”, 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!