Kick Ambiguity to the Curb!

Growing up, the elders in my community would rarely commit to the success of anything before its completion, and even then, they were careful not to let the slightest hint of arrogance interfere with their assumptions. They would only speculate about their ability to be victorious over any challenge or task by making the statement “If it be God’s Will”. They had tremendous reverence for God’s omnipotence, and from them I, too, learned to honor His Will; but as I got older, I realized there was a pivotal piece of knowledge that I had missed. Because of this, I looked at everything from the perspective of disappointment waiting to happen, and not success.

This was especially the case with romantic relationships. My tactic was to try to overwhelm the throne of God with my sobbing pleas, asking for tons of assurances that the person I was with was indeed the ‘one’. I’d be terrified that he would do something to hurt me the way others had done, or that I would do something to mess things up. In my erroneous thinking, God was pulling all the strings, and could cause, if He so chose, the person to respect, neglect, or mishandle my heart. So I begged Heavenly Father constantly to please let everything work out the way I wanted…‘this time.’

I didn’t understand that God never violates His Word. So, my approach was not one of believing the right things about what God wanted for me. Even though I thought I was headed in the right direction, what I believed wasn’t the truth. I believed what I had been taught, and it wasn’t yielding the results I wanted for myself. God was not orchestrating the details of my demise. He was not trying to teach me a lesson by punishing me, nor would He alter someone’s mind or heart to make them love me. God offers liberty, but I was so accustomed to living in fear that it was difficult for me to see it.

The lessons I learned as a youth were very beneficial on one side. I was correctly taught to honor God’s sovereignty and holiness because He is all good, all-powerful, all-knowing, and everywhere present. But many of those who taught me believed Him to also be a punishing God, waiting to really give it to you if you did something wrong. They believed that you could never know what He wanted, that you could never know in advance whether His Will would provide for your success or failure. It was a dance of reverence and ambiguity that ultimately left me confused about what God desires for our lives.

I asked the Lord Jesus Christ to straighten me out, and as he did, I became a lover of faith! He taught me that fear doesn’t ask much of us, and we’re very comfortable with it, but in order to walk by faith, fear must be released. Ephesians 4:22 tells us to put off the former conversations we had with our old selves. You know, those chitchats we had with our souls about not being—looking—loving good enough; and don’t forget those feelings we had that made us wonder whether God truly loves us and wants the best for us. All of that stuff has to go. It doesn’t create a cozy place for faith to feel at home, and God isn’t pleased with that.

Faith requires us to kick ambiguity to the curb! 1John 1:5(NLT) declares, “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” This is an absolute! God is light, and He has made us children of His light through Jesus Christ, His Son! I knew darkness. I was in it long enough to know how miserable it makes you feel. I wanted God’s light and took the leap of faith to get it. This meant that I had to abandon some of the things I believed and had been taught by people I love very much. They did their best, but we all will face a point in life where we must go higher, and leave behind things, beliefs, relationships or situations that hinder our journey forward.

We can’t have both faith and fear at the same time. That’s a doubleminded person, and James 1:8 says only unstable folks operate that way. 1John 4:18(NIV) tells us, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” God’s plan is to help us to grow in love and grow in the knowledge of His Will. Approaching life as if it is an accident waiting to happen is not the mentality of someone who walks in the light. God is waiting to bless us in ways we’ve never imagined. Open the door of your heart, kick out fear, then, let God’s love drive you to the infinite possibilities His goodness holds for you.

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

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

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

Feeling Invisible

The first time I heard the phrase, “Complete in Christ”, I didn’t quite understand it, but I was desperate for the truth it holds. I had made the decision at a young age to become a follower of Christ, but like many people who have been abused, my brokenness was deep. Understanding the reality of being totally complete and whole presented a vision for which I had no blueprints to construct. I didn’t see it among those I loved and had done my best to honor. They couldn’t protect themselves from injury, and in my mind, they certainly couldn’t and didn’t protect me from it. My cherished ones were silent in their pain, and I learned to be as well. I made myself invisible that way.

Often, I felt left out at social gatherings and functions, as if no one thought enough of me to pay attention, or to be interested in my opinions and what I had to say. It took years before I understood that people were simply responding to my tendency to hide. At work also was my need to be validated by others. All the self-help gurus tell us to avoid letting our choices be ruled by other’s opinions. We’re led to believe that seeking validation from others will harm our self-worth. “Be happy with yourself…” they say, but this is much easier said than done.

I didn’t want to be self-indulgent to the point of fooling myself that external pleasures would satisfy an internal hunger. Call it a keen instinct or a gift from God, but I’ve always been able to discern a surface reality from that of something deeply rooted. I wanted the latter for myself. So, on my journey towards accepting the wholeness that Christ offers, one of the greatest lessons I learned is that a physical fix will not take care of a spiritual problem. This level of awareness opens a person’s eyes to what may be buried beneath years of struggling for self-appreciation.

Colossians 2:10(NLT) states, “So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.” God tells us exactly what makes us complete. It’s our union with Christ! He also warns us in Colossians against listening to folks that’ll have us searching under every rock for a wholeness that can only be found in Christ. He tells us to watch out for people like that. They try to dazzle us with big, intellectual talk. They spread ideas that really amount to fluff, and it doesn’t get at the root of our pain, or what we truly need for our souls to be healed. Everything of God is expressed through Christ, and when we invite and accept him into our hearts, he begins to live there. His love is the magnifying glass that makes the invisible visible.

God has blessed us with a physical body, but the bounty of His blessing rests within us. Our goals are misplaced if they are to find treasures in the acceptance of others, or in an identity that really isn’t who we are. We don’t have an excavation tool that will reach as deep in our souls as the love of Christ. He dwells in our hearts through faith. Like love, we can’t see faith. It’s invisible, but the reality of it is more impactful than anything we can see with human eyes.

We feel invisible because we look to things that can be seen to make us feel relevant. Heavenly Father wants us to look to Christ and become rooted and grounded in him. Something spiritual happens when we do this. We will gain a comprehension that defines our true essence, because it brings enlightenment of the width, length, depth, and height of the love of Christ. Our faith in him transforms us, then we’ll see ourselves through the eyes of his love, and that’s really what matters.■

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

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

Understanding the End Game

In Hosea 4:6, God says that His people are severely harmed, and indeed many destroyed, because they lack knowledge. The Old Testament is filled with examples of individuals who thought they knew best, but ultimately landed themselves and others in serious trouble. This happened because either they didn’t consult with God or listen to His wisdom. He always knows best and wants the best for us, but we struggle with believing this. We refuse to understand that life is a corkscrew that in many respects can never be straightened.

The one fact that remains constant in life is that the more we think we know, the more we realize that we haven’t even scratched the surface. Solomon, the son of King David, cracked this riddle wide open long before any of us came on the scene. God allowed him this grace to spare us the time and waste of energy. Solomon was the wisest man that has ever lived. In Ecclesiastes 1, he tells us that he assigned himself with the task of carefully looking into everything with scrutiny. His final synopsis; it was a meaningless pursuit, like chasing wind. In Ecclesiastes 1:18, he said, “The greater my wisdom, the greater my grief. To increase knowledge only increases sorrow.”

Some people have interpreted the words of Solomon to mean that it’s useless to gain knowledge, but this isn’t accurate. Solomon was very young when he was called to be King of Jerusalem, and as any of us can imagine, it was a daunting task. He felt overwhelmed by the responsibility and knew that he needed guidance from God. He loved the Lord, and as was the custom of his father, King David, Solomon offered sacrifices and burned incense in what was known as the great high place in Gibeon. 1Kings 3:5 tells us that it was there, at night, that the Lord appeared to him in a dream and asked, “What shall I give you?” Solomon, considering his task, his desire to do it well, and the overall welfare of the people he would oversee, asked for wisdom.

God was pleased with Solomon’s request, because it wasn’t saturated in the selfishness of riches or revenge on his enemies. God’s nature and desire is to always go beyond what we can ask or think. Ephesians 3:20 tells us that He loves to deal in the exceedingly abundant, so he made Solomon’s wisdom unmatched by any human being before or after him.

Knowledge can be a never-ending pursuit. It seeks to uncover, expose, and resolve continually, but wisdom is the crown that few seek to wear. Wisdom will help us apply knowledge well. With Solomon’s request for wisdom came also a ravenous appetite for knowledge and understanding. He wanted to know what was down the rabbit hole of every subject and found it to be an exhausting and unproductive exercise. Solomon’s wise counsel and advice to us is to save ourselves from pursuing knowledge about things that are not aligned with our purpose. If we can’t use it to please God, it is not worth having.

We all carve out a niche in life. Satisfying and fulfilling or not, we move forward. We do so assuming we know who we are and what we should be doing. Sometimes the opposite is true, and there must be room in our beings to question this. The end game of this earth experience is to know who we are, whose we are, and why we’re here. Not knowing is the gap in our knowledge that causes wisdom to escape our choices and allows destruction a foot hole into our existences.

We spend way too much time obsessing about things that take us away from our destiny, and away from our true identity in Christ. We worry about the things that seem crooked, and we try to straighten them out. Solomon told us in Ecclesiastes 7:13(NLT), “Accept the way God does things, for who can straighten what he has made crooked?” Our time and energy are much better served in exploring all the glorious ways in which God has crafted us to share His love. Doing this will guarantee that we win the end game, and receive God’s eternal reward.■

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

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

 

What If No One Believes Me?

The time in which we now live is teaching us many lessons about, first, the value of truth; secondly, how the masses can interpret it, and lastly, how detrimental it can be when we don’t recognize it. Without truth, we are utterly lost, and there is no doubt about this. In John 8:31, Jesus Christ said to those listening that if they believed on him, and continued in the Word that he taught them, they were his true disciples. Their discipleship would be judged authentic and solid if they believed the Words of Christ, because Jesus Christ only spoke the truth. He then said in John 8:32(NLT), “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Knowing and acknowledging the truth ushers in freedom. This is an incredibly important piece of knowledge for any person that is afraid to speak a truth of their own.

The effects of abuse have many tentacles of pain and harm. One of them is its ability to rob a person of their voice. An individual can be articulate and well-versed in a wealth of subjects, but the trauma and violence of abuse will sometimes render its victim speechless; not for a lack of ability, but because the depth, width, and breadth of what has been stolen is inexplicable. It is inarticulable.

Shame is undoubtedly another of its tentacles. Brother Adam and Sister Eve taught us that with shame comes the instinct to hide, to cover up so that truth is never spoken, and the weight of the lie that shame tells is left to fester in our souls. There, it does its greatest harm. The weight of it becomes heavier as time passes. Meanwhile, the one who has been silenced is split apart, one side managing to look the part of a functioning, sometimes highly functioning, individual. The other side is slowly self-destructing, starved of the healing medicine of truth and restoration.

The fear of not being believed is the enduring curse from an evil manipulation of power. Generation after generation, it silences our soul’s greatest cry for help, as our ownership of the basic right to be heard is paralyzed. When it comes to abuse, the ignorant and unsympathetic resolve of lesser and fallen angels has birthed a culture where lies seem to breathe, and truth is suffocated. Let’s pray the tide is turning.

1John 4:18(NLT) tells us, “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.” The love of God demonstrated through the life, ministry, sacrifice, and resurrection of Christ, expels ALL fear. In other words, God’s love obliterates fear! This is the liberty blockbuster, and the enemy uses every tactic to keep it from falling upon our ears. We don’t speak the truth of what we’ve been through because we fear the punishment. We’ve seen others punished, and to us the risk seems too great.  Exactly the opposite is true. The greatest risk and harm to ourselves is that of not speaking our truth, of not ridding our souls of their burdens and giving our Master Jesus the load.

Our discretion and privacy can be preserved, and even honored to a degree, but not if it is surrounded in the lie that fear tells. There are individuals that cannot bear to hear the truth, because the truth is not in them. This is a quorum we must not join. Truth affords us the undeniable luxury of standing in it with unfeigned dignity, and with an absolute and unrelenting hope for liberty. Ephesians 4:15 encourages us to speak the truth in love—in love of self, and most importantly, love of God and truth. This is the way that we are released from fear’s grip and to be free to grow in the blessed existence that Christ has given us. ■

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

“What If No One Believes Me?” written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2018. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

 

God Loves A Cheerful Giver

The parable in Luke 16 of Lazarus corresponds to the person who begs in our modern society, and there are far more of them today than in biblical times. If we’re honest, we have to admit that sometimes we’re uncomfortable looking them in the eyes. We avoid the exchange, because it forces us to grapple with how the person who begs will use the money we give them. Will they use it for its intended purpose, which is to help nourish their bodies with food, or are they lying for the benefit of whatever addiction or habit they might have? As followers of Christ, of course, we want to be compassionate individuals, but there’s a way to do it that is best for the person in need and for us as well.

Jesus tells us in Luke 16 that there was a certain rich man who fabulously adorned himself in the best of the best.  Lazarus was a poor man who was covered with sores, and laid at the rich man’s gate begging for scraps from his table. In Luke 6:20, Jesus said that the poor are indeed blessed, because theirs is the Kingdom of God. No doubt God’s heart is moved by the humility of the poor, and His Word tells us that only those that are humble will enter His Kingdom. Lazarus must have been a person that pleased God, because when he died, he was carried by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man died too. Luke 16:23 tells us that his soul went to the place of the dead, and there, his soul was in torment.

Luke 16:24-26(NLT) states, “24 The rich man shouted, ‘Father Abraham, have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. I am in anguish in these flames.’ 25 “But Abraham said to him, ‘Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides, there is a great chasm separating us. No one can cross over to you from here, and no one can cross over to us from there.’” We would do well to remember that many people have material wealth, but are wicked in their hearts because they refuse to be generous. Jesus Christ reminds us of their peril in Luke 16, by telling us that the rich man had much, but shared little; greed dominated his heart, and that’s why he called hell his eternal home.

2Corinthians 9:7 tells us that God loves a cheerful giver, because this is a person whose love of sharing and giving is genuine from the heart. I considered myself such a person, someone who loves to give, but there came a time when I had to reexamine both my motives and attitudes about giving.

Frequently, I’m in an environment where I’m in regular contact with those in need, and sometimes their need is overwhelming. Over the years, I learned the hard way that the desire to be a good Christian and citizen can sometimes place us in harm’s way. This was not so much the case back in the day. It was not nearly as dangerous as it can be in modern times to lend a helping hand. I speak from personal experience as a not-so schooled giver, someone that gave money regularly to anyone that asked. I was sometimes targeted, and caught off guard when I was alone.

The times are very different than long ago, but we can’t use this as an excuse for not giving to those in need. That would be a humongous and detrimental error. As with just about every other facet of life, we have to be smarter about how we give of our resources. 1Samuel 16:7(KJV) tells us, “For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”  God is concerned with our heart’s motivation for giving, and this is a piece of wisdom we should bear in mind continually. He knows that we desire to please Him, and pleasing Him means that we try to be wise stewards of our resources. In other words, we need to be both wise and cheerful givers.

A good giving strategy is to pray first, hear secondly, and lastly, think it through. God knows those in need better than we do, and He also knows those individuals that will benefit most from our help. We must never forget that we’re in partnership with Him, but we are to follow His lead. Praying about opportunities to give and be a blessing, and then hearing from God, will prepare us best to be doers of His Will. As we think it through, the Holy Spirit will whisper messages of inspiration that will help us. The area of giving and sharing with those in need is no different than any other assignment of God; it must be done, and leaning on His divine guidance will help us do it with love and wisdom.■

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

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

An Energy Rub

The air was thick with tension in the court building downtown, and I felt it before I got off the elevator. For some, I could tell that this incredibly nervous energy was what they were used to. Their lives were always on the line in that way, and they were seemingly immune to the waiting game, legal jargon, and haggling of attorneys. I was there to support my dear friend who was trying desperately to untangle the last vestiges of a very abusive marriage. Her husband’s attorney was unfriendly and carried an aura of ruthlessness, and her husband was there beside him; he seemed unrecognizable to me.  I stepped out of the courtroom briefly, and outside of it, I observed a young woman. My eyes immediately locked with hers, and I couldn’t take them off her. I tried not to stare, but found myself compelled to do so. Attempting to be a bit more inconspicuous, I came to my senses finally, and took a seat. Something was about to play out in front of me, and my spirit knew it before I did.

There are times in life where you rub up against the energy of a person that seems to match yours precisely. It’s serendipitously eerie. It’s not a match that equals where you are in your life at that moment, but perhaps at a time when you knew less—had less wisdom, but was trying with every fiber of your being to live your truest self. I saw this in the young woman, and my heart both ached and rejoiced for her.

A young man approached her, and there it was. It was the look that I knew so well—sheer terror. Outwardly, she was beautiful, and so was he; but I immediately saw right past the exteriors. Companions of fear, immaturity, obsession, chaos, and ignorance were attached to his person. I could tell they had been with him for quite some time. So much so that he no longer felt the pain of them clawing his soul unmercifully. He couldn’t see them, but finally she could, and was trying to get as far from them as possible. A restraining order had been the required method of her survival.

I ached for her because behind her beauty I saw battle wounds and extreme sadness. Like me at one time, she was in the throes of survival’s most crucial and uncomfortable phase. It is often necessary to go through it before confidence in God’s delivering power is fully entrenched in our hearts. It’s when the pull of going back to what you know is the strongest, and you have to fight hard for your life.

But I also saw hope in her. Romans 12:12(NLT) tells us, “Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.” No matter who you are, you can’t rejoice in something unless you’re confident that good is on the horizon. The mere fact that she was in that court building, fighting to let her light shine, speaks to the reality that darkness was being dispelled. Jesus Christ is our hope, because he loves us, and he IS the light! Philippians 4:13 tells us that we can do everything through him, because He gives us strength. By ourselves, we can’t accomplish much, but through faith in him, we can see the pitiful weakness of darkness, and refuse it.

The trouble that God’s Word talks about in Romans 12:12 is the fight to get to the other side. It’s being patient with ourselves even though we’re tired…even though we don’t feel strong enough, and we’re scared of what the other side might look like. Christ will be our rest. He is our refuge, and he’ll be our strength so that we have the courage to make it through.

I walked away that day knowing I had been strategically positioned to pray for her continued strength. It reinforced my belief that our tribulations leave a trace of victory for someone else. Our troubles can deepen our reservoir of compassion and insight, so that we pray well for them. A brief energy rub that day with this young woman was a reminder of how far God has brought me, how He has empowered me through the Holy Spirit to stand in courage and fight for my life. He gave me the strength of Jesus Christ when I had no strength of my own, and He’ll do the same for you!■

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

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

 

The Biggest Cause of Emptiness

No one needs to tell me what it feels like to have a big hole in your soul. I have some personal experience with this, and I can’t think of anything more miserable. I was very young when I started to feel it, and as I got older, of course the hole seemed to get larger. I had an appetite for something I couldn’t name, and like many people, I started to look for love in all the wrong places. I wish someone had told me that growing up in an environment where domestic violence was common place can cause an individual to develop false beliefs about why he or she feels empty. We tend to think that it’s because we didn’t receive enough of something or that our lives are unfulfilling and boring as heck. Unfortunately, many people who feel this way try to address the symptoms and not the cause.

I walked around with this dark cloud until my mid-twenties. Then one day, I decided I had to put a stop to the way I was feeling, because I was becoming increasingly angrier and disillusioned about my life. I was sick of that cloud, and I grew determined to help myself, because I really believed it when I learned that Jesus Christ suffered miserably so that we wouldn’t have to.

I don’t think I was ever an impatient person, and believe that this is one of the things that has helped me most; because I’ve given myself time to build my relationship with God, and have allowed Him to take the lead. I also must state that I’ve never been able to stomach the pie in the sky stuff. I could always see right through folks who were power-hungry, cultish, or fake. So my approach to understanding the Gospel of Christ has always been based on finding real answers to real problems. It didn’t hurt that I met loving Christian people who I believed genuinely cared about my well-being, and took the time to help school me about the deep things of God.

In Matthew 6:33, Jesus Christ instructs us to seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness first; when we do this, the bounty of His blessings will be ours. In my quest to fill up my empty places, the first clue that I discovered was that a spiritual transaction happens when we seek God first. Something that we need for our souls shows up.

1 John 2:11(NLT) says, “But anyone who hates another brother or sister is still living and walking in darkness. Such a person does not know the way to go, having been blinded by the darkness.” Every spiritual person knows that what we focus on grows. For a very long time, I focused on my emptiness, and it kept growing. I was so consumed with being unhappy that darkness blinded me. The discipline of Christian love escaped me, because I thought that another person owed me something that I was without. This is the biggest cause of emptiness. It’s waiting for the hole to be filled, and letting anyone who talks a good game try to fill it.

Emptiness is caused and perpetuated by abandoning the person Heavenly Father created us to be. We are not weak. We are not empty. We are vessels meant to be continually filled with His love. 1John 4:16 tells us that God is love, and the person that dwells in love dwells in God, and God dwells within him or her. We are His children, made from His love, and made in His image. 2Corinthians 3:5 tells us that He’s our Sufficiency. We were not designed to be sufficient unto ourselves. We were created to depend on His love, and when we open our eyes to this, we’ll step out of darkness. It may take a little while to see the light shine brightly, but if we’ll put our trust in Christ, Psalm 23:3 says that he’ll restore our souls, and lead us on the path to right living. ■

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

“The Biggest Cause of Emptiness” written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2018. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!