Unstoppability

I happened to hear a coach being interviewed recently, and she said something very interesting. When asked about what makes a winning athlete, she said in her view a winning athlete is someone with heart. If an athlete has heart, she explained, they understand how to push themselves beyond the capacity of their physical ability or talent. They tap into a secret place that allows them to exceed even their own expectations about what they can do. They have a track record of winning because of this. Her definition of ‘heart’ equates to what most believers know as spiritual endurance. It defies physical, emotional, and mental limits. Once you know how to tap into it, this race called ‘life’ takes on a whole new meaning.

God talks to us about this race in His Word. There were many heroes and sheroes of faith throughout biblical history, and Heavenly Father referred to them in Hebrews 12:1(NIV) as a “Great Cloud of Witnesses.” The critical piece of wisdom gleaned from them is one that you and I can’t afford to miss. It reveals that the race of life isn’t one we choose, it is one that has been laid before us. This verse tells us, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” God is the Creator of our races and the Architect of our destinies. He tells us with everything in life, to place our total trust in Him.

Sometimes in our relationships with others, we lose ourselves. We forget about the race, the finish line, and the prize; and we convince ourselves that immersing in the love of another human being will fill up our empty spaces, and it will take the place of the race we were destined to run. It will not. No human being is capable of doing this for another person; they can’t do it for us, and we can’t do it for them. We are running towards God’s love. That’s the prize, and we cannot put down the baton until this knowledge is firmly etched in the sanctum of our inner beings.

We were created with ‘heart’ in our DNA. And we must remember that God baked it in our makeup for a reason. It’s not just so that we will fall in love with a quality person. Although this is a beautiful part of life that He allows us to experience, romantic love is too temporary to sustain our destinies. If you can ‘fall’ in love, then it stands to reason that you can just as easily ‘fall’ out of love. Romantic love is yummy, but it will never have the glue that Heavenly Father’s love has. This is simply the truth, and if we don’t run the race with truth, we won’t win. God gives us the ability to develop ‘heart’ or spiritual endurance so that we will keep running even if our hearts are broken. We must have faith that we’ll reach the finish line and receive the prize He has waiting for us.

The common thread in the Great Cloud of Witnesses like Abel, Noah, Enoch, Abraham and Sarah, is faith. We cannot run our race without faith, and we must know that our faith is going to be tested. We have a spiritual enemy, and he will send momentum blockers. It’s a divisive darkness that works through people to hinder our race. Our mission and assignment from our Master Jesus is clear. It is to be unstoppable, because unstoppability demonstrates the highest quality of God’s love; for He tells us in 1Corinthians 13:8 that love never fails.

An athlete loses momentum in a race the moment he or she looks back at their opponent. The longer we look back, the more we stand to lose. Wisdom teaches us that there will be individuals that betray, abuse, and try to undermine our confidence. And sure, our love for them may cause us to look back, we may even cry a little, but for goodness sakes, we can’t let them cause us to lose the race. Jesus Christ tells us in Luke 18:1 to always pray and never lose heart. We must have faith that God has empowered us through the Lord Jesus Christ. His spiritual endurance is in our DNA. Be confident that if you continue to run this race and keep your focus on God, He will handle the momentum blockers, and He promises to reward you in a way that only He can.■

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

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.

“Unstoppability”
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!

Becoming the ‘YOU’ God Sees

In Romans 8:29(NLT), God tells us that He knew us in advance, and He chose us to be like His Son, Jesus Christ. This is why it is so monumentally important to know Christ and to know what he accomplished for us. John 1:1 says that Jesus Christ was with God from the very beginning. He sat on the throne with our Heavenly Father, but he left his position of supreme majesty and authority to come to earth. In Romans 10:10, he tells us why he did this. He left the throne of God in heaven and came to earth to give us access to a more than abundant life. Therefore, you and I can reason that before he came, our access to a more than abundant life was denied. This is both mind-blowing and integral to the missing piece of the puzzle that so many of us are searching for.

God knew us in advance. The question that you and I ought to ask ourselves is “in advance of what?” The answer to this question is one that we could never quantify or enumerate, because it would be impossible for us to count that far back. Revelation 1:8, tells us, “I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God.” So, you and I can’t pinpoint a date and time that would adequately define the ‘knowing in advance’ God refers to in Romans 8:29, but we can surmise with a great degree of confidence that it’s a really, really, really long time ago. He knew us, and by this we must understand that He knew every inch of us, from the top to the bottom. He knew us, and He chose us for a very specific purpose, and it is to become like His Son, Jesus Christ.

What is Jesus Christ like? In John 21:25, the apostle tells us that Jesus Christ did so many extraordinarily good things during his time on earth that if they were all written down, the world could not contain the books that would be written. The goodness of Jesus Christ is boundless, and his love is pure and selfless; so much so that he endured what none of us could endure and sacrificed his life to cover our sins. If you didn’t believe or accept that such a tremendous act of love was accomplished for your sake, your strength would be greatly diminished, and your growth cut down. This is because you would not know the extent to which God’s love has rescued you, and you would always underestimate the magnitude of His saving grace. We would be relegated to a prison of doubt and fear with such limited thought. Our God didn’t want this and has given us a hope in Christ that exceeds such a pitiful state.

Through Christ we are empowered with inner strength. Ephesians 3:16-19 (NLT) tells us this. It says, “16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”

If we cannot trust the reality of our amazing, precious, and powerful Redeemer, Jesus Christ, we cannot truly know ourselves, for Romans 8:29 also tells us that Jesus Christ is the firstborn of many brothers and sisters. Ephesians 1:5 (NLT) says, “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” God knew us long before we were conceived in our mother’s womb. God knew us because spiritually we could be known. The person He sees when He looks at us is the person He has predestined us to become. This is why we shouldn’t be consumed with the external things that don’t matter and have nothing to do with our destinies. If you haven’t already, ask the Lord to introduce you to your glorified self. It’s the person He sees in us. Our identity is a replica of Christ, our Big Brother. His Spirit lives inside us and like any great big brother would, he will help the ‘YOU’ you know become the ‘YOU’ God sees.■

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.

“Becoming the ‘YOU’ God Seeswritten by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2018. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Building Faith in Your Dreams

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Renewed Commitment to Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Expect Something Good in Your Life!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t Miss Your Blessings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

You Can’t Fake Self-Esteem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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