Hiccups of the Soul

Ashley was obsessed with Derek, and when he broke up with her, the world as she knew it came crashing down. She believed she couldn’t live without his love. And although she ultimately acknowledged her emotional instability after the breakup, she rationalized this instability as ‘When I truly love someone, I love really hard.” Like many people, her definition of what it means to love hard is a willingness to put everything you’ve got into a person or relationship. It’s to empty one’s self of everything they can give, all for the cause of what they perceive as the other person’s need. Jesus Christ was the only true Savior capable of giving to this degree. He sacrificed all that he was in order to save us from eternal damnation. To believe that we are to offer ourselves to another in this same manner is a misappropriation to say the least.

Love is not hard. 1Corinthians 13:4-5 tells us that it is patient and kind, that it’s not jealous, boastful, proud, or rude. Love doesn’t demand its own way and doesn’t get mileage out of someone else’s mistakes. Love doesn’t have to prove itself by supreme acts of devotion or self-sacrifice. That would be bondage, and it would not exemplify the liberty that Christ made available to us. God has freed us through Jesus Christ, and Heavenly Father warns us in Galatians 5:1 to never allow anyone or anything to put us in prison again.

Contrary to what others believe, love is predictable. It’s not erratic or obsessive, and it doesn’t behave out of step with God’s nature. God is love. Just as God doesn’t need anyone or anything to be what He is, love does not require us to subtract or add to it to be what God intended love to be. It doesn’t force, so wherever there exists a need to pressure or forcibly pull out of someone something they have not willingly and lovingly chosen to give, we have stepped out of love and into fear.

We know at the most basic level we all need love. This is wired in our DNA; it’s how God created us. 1John 4:8 affirms that God is love, and everything He has created was made from His tremendous love. 1John 4:16 says that all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. It’s the God living in us that allows love to flow from our hearts to others. We must also recognize that this love emanating from our hearts is going to be tested. It will be tested by the devil to see if we truly love God with all our heart and soul, or if we have entered enemy territory by making a human being an idol.

We make idols of other people, substances, money, and material things because we think they will fill the void in our lives. There can be no mistake in owning the reality that humans were created with the aptitude to worship because worshiping is such an important part of our relationship with God. Worship increases intimacy with Him, but worship is meant for God alone. So, it stands to reason that we’d be in dangerous territory to take what God intended for Himself and give it to someone or something that pales in comparison to the magnitude of all that God is. But this is exactly what many of us do, and it causes hiccups of the soul.

The nurses in my family tell me that, in the physical sense, hiccups are involuntary bursts caused by the contraction of the diaphragm. This contraction causes a closure in the vocal cords, and it makes a ‘hic’ sound. It’s an interruption in the normal way we breathe and can be prompted by many conditions. Because of this interruption in normal breathing, we use this word ‘hiccups’ metaphorically to describe situations that cause interruptions to life as we define or know it. This is also a good way to describe what can happen to the soul. Our souls have a breath, and just as our bodies hiccup, so do our souls.

In Proverbs 4:23(NLT), God tells us, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” This verse makes it very clear that we live from the inside out, and not the outside in. It also reveals that God has placed the responsibility of guarding the heart, which is part of the soul, in our hands. We are the protectors of our souls, and we need help to do it right. Many people are not aware of this, and they are also not aware of what their soul needs. Like the physical body, the soul requires a proper diet in order to remain in a place of wholeness and to continue to be well nourished.

Anything that needs to be fed will also have a hunger. The soul hungers for the very thing from which it was created, love. When we meet someone that we believe has the capacity to feed us, the guardrails come down, and we will latch on to them in hopes that they will latch on to us. Just as Ashley did with Derek, we allow them a place in our souls. And even though they present conditions that cause hiccups, or they are no longer interested in feeding us, some of us will attempt to maintain that connection at all costs. Why? Why do we ignore the warning signs and continue to put our souls at risk? Most of us do it because the pain and suffering of detaching from a soul connection can be devastating.

Many of us indulge junk food from time to time. Even though we know it’s not the best or most nutritious food, we eat it because we crave the taste. After we’ve eaten it, we might feel just as full and satisfied as we would have if we had eaten a nutritious meal. We didn’t get the nutrients our bodies needed, but it tasted good and the damage isn’t immediate, so we don’t think about it too much. If we persist in this behavior, it’s only a matter of time before the hiccups begin. Sooner or later, they will turn into a much larger problem, because it is inevitable that a malnourished soul connection will end in heartbreak.

Few of us have ever realized just how deep our love for someone can go. Heartbreak bears this out. It also allows us to see the connection between our souls and our physical beings. The emotions and feelings of heartbreak can exhaust us; the soul feels almost breathless and this can translate to actual physical illness. The link between the soul and the body is one of the major indications that the care of the soul is monumental to a flourishing existence. When the soul breathes deeply from extreme jubilance, it is nourished in an indescribable way, but when heartbreak forces it to breathe deeply, the very core of our being can be ruptured. When this happens, it is very important to recognize that we’re not broken because the person failed to feed us what we needed. We’re heartbroken because we have come face to face with the possibility of life without connection.

Heartbreak forces us to experience a void, and a void can be the most painful thing in all of creation to experience. It is nothingness, the feeling of being in a perpetual state of falling, with never a bottom in sight. Fear is birthed from this place, because you are conscious of falling and you are panicking because of it. It is horrific, and it is why obsession can find its way to take root, because many of us will do just about anything to stop the pain of separation, chasing desperately after the person that once fed us junk food.

The thing with us is that we recognize that any ol’ connection won’t do. We want it with someone we’ve deemed compatible and to our liking. They have to make our heartstrings sing, and if they do, we let the guardrails down and give them a seat at the table. At some point, we will have to wake up to the reality that this is a very self-punishing exercise. What’s crucial is for us to decide if we’re going to believe the truth about the soul. The truth is that it wasn’t created to receive food from another human being. It was created to respond to God’s love. He nourishes the soul through His Spirit.

Genesis 1:2(NKJV) says “The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” During the time of this verse, the earth was not as we see it today. It didn’t have structure, and it was dark and void. The earth was in tremendous pain, because everything that is in darkness and void is in pain. Hope entered the picture when the Spirit of God hovered. The power of the Spirit of God takes nothingness and makes a masterpiece. This is what God wants to do to our lives through His Son, Jesus Christ.He tells us in Romans 12:1-2 to bring our everyday ordinary lives before Him as an offering, and then we must embrace Him. As we change the way we think, and begin to think like Christ, God will transform us from the inside out.

It is very true that sometimes we must experience the pain of heartbreak to appreciate the blessings in life. The break can make a crack just wide enough for God’s love to get in. Jesus Christ said in Revelations 3:20(NLT), “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” He stands at the door knocking, but it is up to us to open our hearts and let him in: to let his love into that crack so it can be healed.

If we let the Lord Jesus Christ in, it will be the absolute best thing we could possibly do for ourselves. Jesus Christ rescued us from that perpetual state of falling and reconnected us to Heavenly Father, but heartbreak can reveal the degree to which we are still looking for a human being to do what only God can do. Heavenly Father wants us to love others, because this is His commandment, but we are not to offer ourselves as sacrifices to other humans, and we are not to depend on anything other than God’s love to nourish our souls. The very best thing we can do is surrender Lordship of our souls to Jesus Christ and then allow his Spirit to help us guard them. ■

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.

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

Learning to Walk on Water

For those suffering domestic violence and abuse, or who have endured it in the past, this time of such global unrest may be causing even more anxiety and fear. The sheer magnitude of all this confusion and chaos coupled with that in one’s own home can be the impetus for total break-down, but this break-down can be avoided. It should be all our prayers, that those who are continually in harm’s way will allow the strong tower of God’s love to blanket their minds and hearts. His love will give them the strength and power of Jesus Christ. Acts 17:28 tells us that it is in Christ that we live, and move, and have our being. And we see very clearly that the enemy is strategizing fiercely to divert our attention away from our Christ reality. Therefore, we must be equally fierce when it comes to the game the enemy is playing, so that we choose faith rather than fear.

Faith is the substance God used to create the entire universe, so we know it to be potent stuff. It is activated through thought, intention, and will. It meets us at a place that is higher than the conditional circumstances that surround our everyday lives. This is why God instructs us in 2Corinthian 5:7 to walk by faith, and not by sight. We can’t rely on what we see day to day, because what we see day to day represents the natural realm. The problem with relying on the natural realm is in 1Corinthians 2:14(NLT). It tells us, “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

Earth is the natural realm. It is an expansion of God’s territory, but He hasn’t taken it by force. He’s taking it by love. We are ones to introduce His love into this territory by completing the work that Jesus Christ began. God’s goal is that we live and move on earth by receiving from Him through the Spirit of Christ. 1Corinithans 2:10-12(NIV) says, “10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.”

If you and I were to rely only on information from what we see in the natural realm, we would be paralyzed in every way, because the things we see can be very scary. We might even think that God isn’t making all things to work together for good as He says in Romans 8:28. Be confident that God is extremely busy in the supernatural realm, and this is a realm we cannot see with natural or physical eyes. We experience it through our spirits. The truth is that the supernatural realm is more real than the natural realm. A follower of Christ must condition their minds and hearts to walk in this truth, because this natural realm of earth dwelling is a very temporary occupancy for us.

In Matthew 14, we can see a vivid example of what’s possible when we receive from the supernatural and rely on God’s power. This chapter in the Gospel of Matthew gives us the record of our beloved Savior walking on water. When his disciple, Peter, saw this, he said in Matthew 14:22(NLT), “Lord, if it’s you…tell me to come to you on the water.” Jesus replied, “Come.” And briefly, Peter walked on the water! He did what he saw his Master doing, but in an instant this changed. For a few moments, he was saturated by the faith of Jesus Christ, and when he heard the word “Come”, he didn’t think, but simply obeyed, and moved by the Word of the Lord; the results were miraculous. But then, Matthew 14:30 tells us that Peter allowed what he saw in the natural to override the truth of the supernatural. This is always a detrimental step backwards. Peter saw the wind and became afraid, then he began to sink. He cried out to Jesus for help.

Oh, how I have wished over the years that Peter’s mind and heart had stayed free, that he had remained caught up in the faith of Christ he visited for that brief little while. Where would we be today if he had learned the secret of remaining in a mountain-moving faith, and then taught others? Even still, Peter did what no human has done since, and showed us through Jesus Christ what is possible when we refuse to be bound by the limitations of the natural realm and live through the faith and power of Jesus Christ.

Most of us will never encounter a situation that will make it necessary to walk on water, but we should learn more about Christ and seek to grow in the faith that would make it possible. We were birthed from that supernatural place, and we must learn to put the truth of our reality in Christ above what our emotions and feelings sometimes tell us. They might tell us to breakdown, but our spirit is reminding us it’s possible to walk on water. We must strive to increase our faith by trusting God through Christ, so that we are not rocked by our circumstances; we are not moved to emotional hysteria and breakdown by what we see. Instead we can know with every fiber of our being that God will protect and shield us. He will put a hedge around us and our loved ones if we are diligent to trust Him first, and let our emotions and feelings follow. ■

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.

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

A Prayer to God for Help

Heavenly Father,

You said in 2Chronicles 7:14 that if Your people would humble themselves, pray, seek Your face, and turn from their wicked ways, You will hear their prayers. You will respond by forgiving their sins and allowing Your healing, restorative power to flow into their lives. Please, hear our prayer for Your help! Humility requires that we acknowledge the honor You are due and recognize that You always know what is best and Your way always works best. Humility means that we come to You with a heart that is truly sorry for not giving You the place in our lives that You deserve. We humble ourselves before You, Father God. We know that You love us, and we demonstrate our love for You right now by confessing our faith in what You accomplished by giving Your Son to die on the cross for our sins.

You are Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. Your name is holy, and You are like no other. May Your Will be done on earth as it is in heaven. There is so much confusion and sorrow in the world, and many people think this is Your Will, that You are punishing us because we haven’t listened to Your instructions and guidance, and we haven’t been good stewards of the earth. Your blessings are not earned, because we could never do anything good enough to earn all that You have done for us. You are not punishing us. You love us, and You bless us because love is Your nature. Love is who You are. Your Will is for us to live the more than abundant life that Jesus Christ came to the earth to make available. You want us to have a life full of Your grace, peace, and joy. This is Your desire for every person, and it has not changed.

Giving Your Son as a sacrifice for our sins is the greatest love act in all eternity, because Your Son is Your most precious treasure, and You didn’t spare Him for us. When we believe that You love us this big, we value ourselves differently because we can have confidence in our worth. We begin to see ourselves as children that are privileged to imitate Your nature. We cannot forget both the joy and unprecedented hate that Your Son was greeted with. Yet, he didn’t allow this to alter or stop him from doing the work You commissioned Him to do. He is our example of supreme love, and like Christ, we must be committed to do the love work You have commissioned us to do as well.

Philippians 2:13(NLT) tells us, “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” Heavenly Father, we invite You to work within us through Your precious Holy Spirit, because we want our lives to please You. There were times when we went off and did our own thing, not realizing that we could invite You to take the lead, and that we would have access to Your incredible love, power, and strength. We got ourselves into all kinds of trouble by choices that involved the wrong people, relationships, and connections. In many cases, we denied our identity in Christ and behaved in a way that was beneath our privilege. Please forgive us for this.

We’re in an environment that is extremely challenging, and so many of us feel very limited in our ability to access resources or to be resourceful. We’re experiencing feelings of sadness and hopelessness, and we can’t see a way out. We feel desperate and alone. Please help us, Father! You tell us in Your Word that You are our Sufficiency. You are our Source for all blessings. You declare to us in Psalm 84:11(NLT), “For the LORD God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The LORD will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.” You love us way more than we could ever love ourselves. You are our Rescue in the time of trouble. Please, Father, give us a pure heart and renew in us a right spirit. Let us abide in Your shadow so that we are continually covered beneath the umbrella of Your care.

We repent of our sins, and we place ourselves under the guidance and Lordship of Jesus Christ. We trust him with our whole hearts to lead us in the path of Your purpose and Will. You tell us in Philippians 4:19 that You will supply all our need according to Your riches in glory, and that You will do this by Jesus Christ. He is the channel by which Your abundance and blessings flow, and we rejoice in him, because through him, our hope is complete and unfailing. You tell us in Philippians 2:9 that You have given Jesus Christ a name above every name and have highly exalted him; and it is in his precious name, the name of Jesus Christ, that we pray. Amen. ■

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

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

Pray

It can’t be lost on us that this is a particularly vulnerable time for those who for whatever reason are still in an abusive relationship. Even for a person with a naturally calm demeanor, a crisis will add a dimension of stress to their lives. Many assume that those who have been in an abusive relationship for a while are somewhat accustomed to handling a tense environment. But the restrictions caused by the pandemic may be bringing them in closer proximity to their abusers for longer periods. This can potentially cause an increased level of stress and volatility in the home. I personally know the frightening uncertainty of living with the constant threat of abuse. Even without the pressure of extraordinary external circumstances, it’s a rollercoaster of terror. So, it’s concerning to think of those that are living with abuse under the new stay-at-home restrictions. Like me, you may have wondered if there’s anything you can personally do.

In Matthew 6:33, Jesus Christ instructs us that in everything we do, we must seek God first. In looking at how we might serve all our brothers and sisters in need during this time, our best course of action to have confidence in the power and healing that Christ provides. In Matthew 11:28-30(NLT), our blessed Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ extended an invitation to us all. He said, “28 Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” This is a beautiful passage that many have recited and it brings tremendous comfort, but sometimes we can hear a familiar truth so often that we no longer comb the depth of it and allow the never yielding enlightenment to impact our hearts and minds. The first time we hear a wonderful passage, it strikes us, but many of us have allowed ourselves to forget the flavor of our most delicious meals.

The words of Jesus never lose their flavor, and he invites us to the table to taste them again and again. And the beautiful thing about his invitation is that no one is excluded. “All” means all! Our precious Savior didn’t give his life on the cross for just the believer, but for the unbelieving as well. He died for all, that all might know the goodness of God! Most people will not accept God’s love. They will reject it and not allow it into their hearts. Even so, it is important to know that God loves all people, whether they accept His love or not.

Many of us were carrying heavy burdens before this pandemic crisis, and now it feels that our load has increased even more. Jesus offers rest to our souls, and we desperately need it. And to the person that is wrestling with all the emotions and trauma of abuse, there is peace in the arms of the Lord. To worry is not to rest. To have stress on every turn is not to rest. We also know that in an abusive relationship, there is no rest. There is the weight of fear, disappointment, insecurity, powerlessness, and despair. The person who knows this kind of weight is exactly the person Christ is speaking to. They may not feel as though anyone can help them, but he can, and he will through faith.

Luke 18:1(NLT) says, “One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up.” There is no power that equals the power of God. This is the reason our Redeemer has commanded us to pray as often as possible. It is the way to petition his power and strength; not just for our lives, but we can pray and intercede on behalf of others. James 5:16(NLT) tells us, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” Each of us has the distinct honor and privilege to pray for all people, especially those who have the added burden of abuse, homelessness, and disabilities that have made them particularly vulnerable during this crisis. As many of us are confined by the restrictions and guidelines caused by the pandemic, lets be sure to carve out time to get into our quiet places and pray. ■

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.

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

Walk in Wisdom, but Don’t Worry

There are many people speculating about why it is we find ourselves facing a global pandemic. The most prevalent of reasons out there is that God is punishing us because we’ve strayed so far away from His Will. This belief does not square with His Word, because God does not punish people. He doesn’t need to use fear to show His people the way. He used the love of Christ to do this. 1John 1:5 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.” Fear is darkness, and many of us that have endured or are enduring domestic violence and abuse can attest to this reality. Fear cripples in many ways, and it is designed and used by the devil to do just that. When our minds and hearts are gripped by fear, and we’re in panic mode, we can’t think clearly and act wisely or decisively. We must be extremely careful not to fall into this trap.

God is light, and there isn’t any darkness in Him at all; not one drop. He doesn’t use fear to get people to do what He wants. Our Heavenly Father is the Creator of all that exists. Genesis 1:26 tells us that He created us in His own image. He gave us the gift of free-will—the ability to make our own choices and decisions. So, we can be confident that He’s not in the business of forcing us to do anything. He’s a loving God, and love doesn’t force, restrict, or imprison. 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.”

Darkness is dispelled as soon as light is introduced. Likewise, fear is dispelled when the love of God is introduced. One of the things that our current state bears out is the reality that we still have much work to do when it comes to introducing the love of God. We still have a way to go when it comes to learning to lead by the example of Christ, so that God’s perfect love will squash the darkness of fear and all its cousins.

Individually, our actions may not have immediate impact globally, but we can certainly do our part personally and in the lives of those we influence. Heavenly Father tells us how important having and using wisdom is in Proverbs 4:7. This verse says that wisdom is the principal thing and getting it is the very wisest thing any of us can do. This verse also says that whatever else we do, we should gain a clear understanding of how to implement wisdom so we can develop good judgment. Through media and several other channels, we’ve received lots of communication about what to do and what not to do. Using the wisdom we’ve received from public health officials is responsible in the eyes of our Heavenly Father, and we should be thankful to Him that we’re receiving the information we need to care for ourselves and others.

God tells us in Philippians 4:6(NLT), “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Another incredibly important way we can positively impact as many people as possible is to take care of ourselves spiritually. Heavenly Father tells us not to abandon wisdom for worry, but instead pray about everything, from our families and loved ones to the many we’ve never met all over the world. And when we pray, there must be a level of gratitude in our hearts and minds that although we are enduring challenging times, we know the Lord will bless us to get through it. As long as we are committed to not let fear override our faith in God’s love, we will continue to grow spiritually stronger and be a blessing to many others. ■


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cripture 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.

“Walk in Wisdom, but Don’t Worrywritten by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2020. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Help Yourself, Then Help Someone Else

For many people, one of the more challenging truths to accept is Proverbs 23:7(NKJV). It’s a very well-known verse in the Bible, and it says, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” It’s pretty astounding actually, because it speaks to the reality that we are all spiritual beings, and this is a reality most have not accepted. Our spirit-man or ‘inner man’ is the highest part of who we are. The brain performs functions that are so complicated we can hardly fathom the intricacy of its inner working, but even so, the brain does not define us. The heart is a wonderful piece of machinery, but it doesn’t define us either. People receive heart transplants all the time, but a new organ does not change one’s identity. Proverbs 23:7 tells us that the substance of a person is shaped and molded by the invisible activity of the soul. The soul’s centers of will, emotion, and intelligent creativity determine whether we will align with our highest self or betray it.  

1Corinthians 6:19-20(NLT) tells us, “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” Our physical body is our temple. It is made of dust, and when it is no longer alive, it will return to that of which it was made. This is not to say that we should regard the body any less than the magnificent creation that Heavenly Father formed it to be. However, we have no right whatsoever to assign to it functions higher or lesser than the ones sanctioned by our Creator. He has told us that the body was created to be a temple that houses the presence of His holy and powerful Spirit. If we worship the temple rather than the Holy One who lives within it, we have made our body an idol. Idolatry is the practice of worshiping the creation and not the Creator; this is a sin.

Jesus Christ said in John 6:63(NKJV), “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” The vitality, fulfilment, and richness that God intends us to experience in life can only be found in Him through Jesus Christ; it cannot be achieved through efforts of the flesh. It is impossible for you to give yourself life. You may have honed or increased the gifts, talents, and abilities you have, but you didn’t gift them to yourself. All that we are, everything that you and I own or have in our possession comes from God. Acts 17:28 tells us that it’s in Him that we live, move, and have our being. So what most of us have to do is to change our thinking about our relationship with God. We must begin to see that He’s at work on the inside of us, and then we must allow Him to come into our hearts in a greater way so that our lives will change. Romans 12:2(NLT) tells us, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

When we don’t understand the partnership between the human spirit, soul, and body, and that all must be aligned and humbled to the Spirit of God, we become disconnected from our own hearts. It shows up in the form of being constantly disappointed and continually emptied of life’s nutrients and favor; all because we seek treasure where there is none.

As a spiritual being, God saw fit to give us this earth experience. Ephesians 1:11(NLT) tells us, “Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.” He chose us way before we passed through our mother’s womb. He knew us as His spiritual children, and He ordained that we should help others see the light of Christ. He appointed the time and place of our births, and we were handpicked by Him for such a time as this. It’s an enormous, incomparable gift, and we must see it this way; for we are in time, and God is not. Therefore, it is pressed on us to be conscious of the reality that life on earth is a necessary and beautiful process. We are going through it, transforming into the person God already sees when He looks at us.

You must align with the reality that your spirit contains the treasure, and it’s with you everywhere you go. Yes, Christ is just that close. It is not selfish to choose to free yourself from the affliction and bondage of abuse. It is an action to move yourself and your thoughts to higher ground, where Jesus, not pain, is Lord! Don’t allow anyone or anything to stall or impede your process, because you are transforming into the very image of Christ, then you can help someone else do the same.■

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

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

“Help Yourself, Then Help Someone Elsewritten by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2020. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

All Things Are Possible with God

“I don’t want to leave my husband! I just want him to stop hurting me!”  This is what a family friend shared over the holidays. A lot of people will hear a statement like this from a woman in an abusive marriage and think “Why doesn’t she just leave him?” But those that have been in an abusive relationship can understand what she is going through. The person that is now causing her so much pain wasn’t always that way. They were high school sweethearts and got married immediately after graduating high school. With over twenty years under their belts and three children together, leaving the marriage feels to her like the unthinkable.

When the life that you’ve built surrounds and anchors the lives of children, decisions are often complex and extremely consequential. Even in the best situation, the fabric of lives can be very fragile, and if abuse in any form is a part of the equation, that fabric is already unraveling. In the beginning, my friend didn’t tell anyone that her husband had started to say hurtful and demeaning things to her, even in front of their kids. The physical abuse started when the arguments became more frequent, and her husband started slapping her face when things got heated. Then, one evening he came home late, and when she said something about it, his anger became out of control. He wouldn’t stop hitting her and their oldest son jumped in to defend his mom.

Domestic violence and abuse is defined as violent or aggressive behavior within the home, typically involving the violent abuse of a spouse. But we know that it also happens in relationships between couples that are not married. Instances of abusive behavior is increasing among teens dating in high school and on college campuses as well. I recall a few instances of hearing about dorm-mates and other young women that were in abusive relationships when I was in college. I imagine there were many other cases of abuse where these women suffered in silence, too afraid to tell anyone about what was happening.

If it were as simple as just walking away, the instances of domestic violence and abuse would not be increasing at the rate it is. But we’re talking about patterns of behavior that are deeply rooted in both the victim and abuser, and when we’re stuck in patterns that are destructive to our souls, it is unquestionably a kind of bondage.  

None of us have it all together, and when it comes to someone taking the power that God has given us or our giving it up to them so freely, we need the kind of internal strength and help that only the Lord can provide. All of us are broken inside in some way. We can’t fix ourselves. It is impossible for any of us to come to Jesus Christ as perfect human beings. It doesn’t work that way. He tells us in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me!” We are to come as we are, broken and all, because only Jesus Christ can do a work on the inside of us through his Spirit.

Galatians 5:1(MSG) tells us, “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.” This is exactly what an abusive relationship is—it’s a harness of slavery, designed to steal our joy and power so that we feel hopeless and helpless. We don’t have to live that way, because Jesus Christ has set us free to live a free life. He will help us take a stand if we will give ourselves to him completely. A victim may be financially dependent on their abusive partner. Without money, or even a place to go, it can seem impossible for them to leave the relationship, but Jesus Christ said in Matthew 19:26 that with God all things are possible.

My friend is struggling to do what is right for her family. Her husband is not who he used to be, and only God knows why. We can never know what is in another person’s heart or why they harbor such anger, but God doesn’t want anyone to be abused. It’s not His Will. He also doesn’t want any child to witness or be involved in the abusive relationship of their parents. We must pray to Him in the powerful name of Jesus Christ, because God can and will help! For any person that is dealing with an abusive partner, know that God wants to rescue you and the very first step towards being free is believing that through Him, it is possible.■

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.

“All Things Are Possible with Godwritten by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2018. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!olved Mentio

Focus on YOUR Race!

In Psalm 73:2-3(NLT), the psalmist, Asaph, said, “But as for me, I almost lost my footing. My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone. 3 For I envied the proud when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness.”  In this passage, we can learn two very important lessons about this race we call life. The first is the reality that we can lose our footing, and sometimes the results of doing so are catastrophic. The other important lesson is that in the time we expend looking at how someone else is running, especially with envy, we could lose the entire race. God has given us the wisdom and power to prevent this from happening. He wants us to win in life, and we should most definitely want this for ourselves.

The one thing that you and I must know is that life is indeed a race, and it is given to each of us by God to run. Some of us would like to think we’re random beings, here to do our own thing. God, in His tremendous grace and love, will allow us to think this, but in truth, the race doesn’t belong to us; it belongs to Him. He predestined us to be born at the time He appointed, and in the place He appointed. We are here for the purpose He has ordained.

It’s not lost on anyone these days that ‘winning’ in life has become kind of clichés’-ish. But this is what we humans do, we take something that is meant for pure goodness and try to put our spin on it. Again, the truth is that God has established the race, and He also defines what it means to win. To make sure you and I don’t get it twisted, in His Word, He’s given us plenty of examples of those who ran their races masterfully. The Apostle Paul reminded us of these individuals in Hebrews 12:1, when he called them a Great Cloud of Witnesses. Their races were not easy, and God never promised they would be, but these individuals won because they ran in faith. You and I must do the same.

Just like them, God tells us in Hebrews 12:2 to lay aside the things that weigh us down so we can run the race He has set before us with endurance. Endurance requires focus. Every good athlete knows this. We can’t be looking sideways and turning backwards, trying to see what the other runners are doing. There’s too much to be done, and we don’t have time to waste. We should also know there’s going to be some things that will get in our way. There will be relationships, situations, and people that aim to slow us down. Sometimes, we get caught up with a negative mindset and we, ourselves, become the biggest obstacles to our own races.

Whether it’s a goal to be healthier, have better relationships, pursue a dream, or to get out of an abusive situation, God makes it clear that the solution begins with how we decide to run the race. At the close of his life on earth, Paul said in 2Timothy 4:7(NLT), “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.” Faith makes the fight a good one! This is how all of us should want to finish our course.

Hebrews 11:1(NIV) tells us, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” It is the truth we believe about the goodness of God and the empowerment He has given us through the Lord Jesus Christ, despite what our circumstances and conditions may present. We are to wear faith like a second skin. It is important to know this because one of the realities of life is that the intensity of our desire for the blessing is going to be tested. There will be opposition as we seek to attain what God wants to place in our hands. You’re going to have to fight the good fight of faith to get what you want in life. Anything worth having will require work and diligent effort to get it AND to maintain it.  

Focus on YOUR race, not someone else’s. Again, you have neither the time or luxury to waste your resources. Everything in you is necessary for your journey forward in the victory of Christ! In Jeremiah 29:11(NLT), God tells us, “For I know the plans I have for you…They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Want what God’s has for you. Understand that an attitude of faith isn’t built on a whim, but on the persistence, endurance, and longevity that commitment requires. Ecclesiastes 9:11 tells us that the fastest runner doesn’t always win the race. We win because we’re focused on trusting God, and we’re fully persuaded in His faithfulness to help us achieve and attain what we desire most in 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.

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

“Focus on YOUR Race!” written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2019. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Have You Ever Tried Running up A Mountain?

The term ‘wholeness’ is one we apply to an individual that is thriving mentally, physically, emotionally, and most importantly, spiritually. The Bible is instrumental in helping us understand what happens when the spiritual part of us is out of whack. All the other parts of us go haywire too. Most people would agree that when it comes to the mental acumen for things like technology and science, humanity has advanced in many areas. One would expect that all the other aspects of our being would keep pace, but in fact they haven’t. This is particularly true regarding our emotional well-being. The times are exceedingly stressful, and although we’ve grown adept to keeping up with technological gizmos, emotionally, we seem to fall further and further behind.

In Hebrews 12:1, the Apostle Paul said that since we’re surrounded by the witness of all these wonderful folks that lived with incredible faith in God, we have no excuse. We have to get busy like they did. After all, they were not perfect. They had flaws, but they ran the race God placed before them and accomplished what He wanted them to do. We all have a race to run; all of us! Paul tells us to go ahead and strip off all that heavy negative stuff that weighs us down so we can run with endurance. Sure, we might become tired, but not easily so; we’ll keep running no matter what, with our eyes continually on the prize.

What’s happening to a lot of folks is that they’re not able to run because they don’t understand they’re in a race. And not only this, they haven’t built up endurance. Why is this such a huge problem? Well, it’s a huge problem because life happens. God designed life to be a constantly moving, everchanging, progressive, and productive dynamic. It doesn’t slow down and wait for anyone. It just keeps going, and if you’re not prepared for the ‘get down’, it will boogie right on passed you. The wonderful people that He tells us about in Hebrews 12:1 had incredible faith, and we know this because they faced incredible obstacles. You can’t have one without the other. Jesus Christ tells us in Romans 8:37 that through him, we’re more than conquerors, but you can’t be a conqueror if there’s nothing to defeat.

Given this, it is inevitable that life will present some mountains. In Mark 11:23(NLT), Jesus Christ used a mountain to teach us about faith. He said, “I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart.” Some of us are dealing with some mountains right now. Maybe you’re in an abusive relationship, and it seems there’s no way out. Perhaps your debt is mounting, and you can’t see a way to get from underneath it. From marriage problems to unrelenting sadness, many of us have what we consider to be mountain size challenges. The good news is that this is the Lord’s specialty. There’s nothing too hard for Him, and He loves to help us.

Sooner or later, we’re going to have to face the reality that the mountain is part of our race. Yep, sure is. I know, it seems insurmountable, every mountain does when you’re looking at it from the ground up. That’s why God tells us to keep our eyes on His love while we’re moving through rough terrain, so we’ll never see the problem bigger than we see Him.

This is not to minimize the difficulties we face in life, because keeping it real, have you ever tried to run up a mountain? What?!!! Try putting the treadmill on the highest maximum incline—it’s no joke, but the thing is, we up the ante on the treadmill because we know it’s going to give us a good workout. Life is given to us by the Creator to do same thing to our faith—to give it a maximum workout. With the treadmill, you can press ‘stop’ and get off. Life doesn’t work quite the same. You can’t ‘get off’ of life unless you take yourself out; and some folks are doing this. They are ending their lives because the pace of life exceeds their emotional acumen to deal with it. God has given us a better way! It’s the way that leads to wholeness.

It’s awesome that we’re making all these technological and scientific advancements, but ‘The Cloud’ ain’t got nothing on the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus Christ is where the action is! Through him, God has equipped us to not just keep pace with life, but to blaze a trail of love that others can follow. God would not give us a race that we’re incapable of running. Let’s get moving by being more committed to Him. Let’s study His Word and pray more. Give the Holy Spirit greater room in your heart. Throw out the welcome mat and ask him to come in and help you prepare. He’ll help you train. Then you’ll have the endurance to run up that mountain and run the race God has placed before you with the victory of faith. ■

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.

“Have You Ever Tried Running up A Mountain?”
written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2019. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

He Will Help You Get Your Treasures Back

One of the most well-known passages of scripture in the Bible is in the Gospel of Matthew. In it, Jesus Christ extends an overwhelmingly generous and loving invitation. In Matthew 11:28-30, he tells us, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” If you’ve never faced a problem or issue in life so troubling that you literally feel imprisoned by it, then the invitation of our Lord and Master may not mean much to you. But if you’re anything like me, and you’ve had your back pinned against the walls of your circumstances and condition a few times, then you will understand and appreciate the lifeline our Redeemer is offering.

Recover
He offers us rest, and it is more than just a temporary reprieve. It is a rest that allows us to recover, be restored, and increase in spiritual strength. Spiritual recovery is so important to us because it brings the healing that only our Lord and Savior can provide. And all we need to do is ask for it. Very often we feel imprisoned by life’s circumstances because our destiny is to be at point C and we’re still at point A. We must remember at all times that we’re spiritual beings having an earth experience. Our body provides the vehicle to move about within the earth, but our spirits provide the opportunity to move with Holy Spirit power according to God’s Will and Plan. So, when we feel as though we’re stuck in life, growing in God’s love, nature, and power is always the solution. This is why Jesus Christ tells us in Matthew 11:29 that the conduit to the rest he offers is to learn about him.

Restore
We have a dastardly evil enemy, and he is the devil. Jesus Christ said in John 10:10 that the devil is a thief whose chief mission is to kill, steal, and destroy. Our Big Brother and Lord would never lie to us. Jesus Christ is truth itself. So, if he tells us that we have a treacherous spiritual enemy, it would be incredibly unwise and catastrophic if we refuse to believe him. He wants us to know about our enemy, and he also wants us to know how to protect ourselves against him. God’s Word places this wisdom in our hands.  

I heard a wonderful believer’s testimony about an encounter he experienced after praying fervently for a friend. His friend was very bound by oppressive situations. They were fracturing his family relationships and depleting his finances. This friend had contemplated suicide and came to this man for prayer. While meditating in the Lord, the believer saw a massive room filled to capacity with every imaginable treasure, and everything in this room was chained. He knew that these were treasures of God’s people that had been stolen by satan. Understand that God will help us get our treasures back.

Heavenly Father told His people in Joel 2:25(NLT), “I will give you back what you lost to the swarming locusts, the hopping locusts, the stripping locusts, and the cutting locusts.” God’s people had lost everything that was important to them, and the locusts in this verse are symbolic of the devil who steals and destroys the things we value. God reminded His people that only He has the power to restore. They had made the terrible mistake of putting their faith in the wrong things, but in order that God could restore them, they needed to turn to Him in obedience and have faith in Him. This is true for us as well. It’s why we need to learn about Jesus Christ in God’s Word, because learning about his love, ministry, and the extraordinary sacrifice he made for us will build our faith.

Increase in spiritual strength
Increasing in spiritual strength is probably the most important aspect of rest. God tells us in Ephesians 6:10 to be strong in Him and in the strength of His might. Life requires His strength, and the more we know about Him the stronger we become. It is important for us to respect that our destinies are etched in stone, so to speak. Our conscious minds are not aware of all that God has slated for us, and it’s why we must trust Him with all our being. He knows where we’re supposed to be, when we’re supposed to be there, and He knows how to get us there. Our propensity is to try and control the journey, and this won’t work. The rest that Jesus Christ offers requires that we give him the wheel. This is a no brainer. We should never hesitate but take the lifeline and rest he offers; we desperately need it.

While we’re in the passenger seat, we’ve got plenty of time to read, study, pray, and mediate on God’s goodness. That’s the whole purpose of rest, to remember what has been done for us through Christ, and to rest in it. You see, there’s a mindset of intentionality that’s expected of us. We must intend to gain spiritual strength as we rest. If that’s not our intention, we won’t have the strength to maintain what God restores. Let’s do our part by resting in the peace that Christ offers. We’ll be amazed at what the Lord does in our circumstances when our hearts are truly committed to spiritually grow and increase our faith in Him. ■

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.

“He Will Help You Get Your Treasures Back”
written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2019. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!