Practicing the Peace of God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Practicing the Peace of God”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2021. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Resurrection Power!

When the food in our refrigerators or kitchen cabinets is passed its expiration date, most of us will throw it out. We don’t think twice about it. Nor do we think too much about the expiration date until it dawns on us that maybe we’ve held on to something too long. The expiration date is an indication that holding on to stuff can cause harm. Having this date in small letters stamped on jars and labels is something many folks take for granted, but we should be thankful because these little dates are quite useful. Good health is a very wonderful thing to have, and we need all the help we can get to preserve it. So, those simple but useful expiration dates can be the difference between spending a day enjoying life or spending it doubled over with nausea, stomach cramps, or worse.  Many of us have been there and done that, and don’t want to do it again. It ain’t fun, and if we’re wise, when something is past its expiration date, we’ll throw the old stuff out because we understand that it’s harmful to our health and overall well-being.

It’s no secret that there are a lot of things in our lives that aren’t stamped, but they very definitely have passed their expiration date, and many of us have ignored it. There are relationships for instance, there are also people, attitudes, behaviors, and lots of other situations that we’re allowing to hang around way past their shelf life. We don’t often recognize how harmful they are to us until it’s too late. Why do we do it? Why do we allow things to remain a part of our lives when it’s pretty clear they’re driving us further away from God and the life He wants us to have? One of the reasons might be that we’re not convinced that if we let the wrong things go, the right ones will show up.

Not only does this fear come to the surface when it involves relationships and people, but it pops up in the behaviors and attitudes we hold as well. In fact, fear cleverly hides away in our thoughts and attitudes, and it gets fuel from our behaviors and deeds. God has given us instruction in His Word for handling this. Through the Apostle Paul, He tells us in Ephesians 4:22-24 (NLT), “Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” People these days don’t like hearing about the ‘old sinful nature’. Many preachers don’t talk about it because folks get angry when they’re confronted with their sin. They like the nice flowery stuff, but God’s truth and standard is the greatest treasure of anything in existence, and He wants us to throw out the stuff that is past its expiration date and isn’t good for His plan for our lives.

The stuff that’s past its expiration date is the stuff that Jesus Christ nailed to the cross. The gossiping, backbiting, jealousy, resentment, rage, arrogance, lying, cheating, and all the other heavies that harden our hearts and keep our souls weighted down. Some of the people that have attached themselves to us are feeding off this old nature part of us. They have no interest in spiritually growing in Christ themselves and feel most comfortable when we’re turning our backs on it as well.

2Corinthians 5:17(NLT) tells us “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” Our time on earth is the only opportunity that we will have to make an extremely consequential choice. Either we will remain blind and continue to indulge those things that hold us back, or we will embrace the new person we were created to be. It’s up to us to realize that the old life is gone, and to stop reaching back to old dead things that are way past their expiration date.

As the time approaches to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, we must remember that he gave his life on the cross so that we could be made whole through his love. He took all our sins upon himself and paid the price we could not pay. 1John 4:10(NLT) says, “This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” Our precious Lord and Savior got up from the grave with all power in his hands, and all the suffering and sin was left behind. That’s where we should leave it.

Often the suffering and discomfort that we experience in life is because we haven’t left the old stuff behind. We’re trying to make it come alive again, and that’s not a workable strategy. Our Heavenly Father has told us what works for a life made brand new. It is to throw off the old sinful nature and all its cousins. Then, we are to make our minds new by flooding them with God’s Word. As we celebrate the resurrection power of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, let’s remember that God has given us a fresh start, and we ought to take it.■

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

“Resurrection Power!”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2021. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Can You Turn Your Life Around?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Making A Faith Move When It’s Dangerous

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love Is Much More Than You Think

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You May Be Moving Too Fast

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Strategy for Happiness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Run Towards the Light, and Never Look Back

Isaiah 40:29(NLT)
He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.”

“I’m to blame. It’s all my fault. My life is a mess!” This is what we say to ourselves sometimes. It’s negative self-talk. We need to let it go, so we can forgive ourselves and be healed through Jesus Christ!

Admittedly, running away is not always the best answer, but sometimes it is the only solution that will keep you and your family safe. For me personally, getting away from an abusive husband was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to tackle. I didn’t think I had the strength to do it, and I had no clue how I’d make it; but I don’t regret for one second my decision to run away from darkness. It’s the advice I would give any person facing domestic violence and abuse, to run towards the light and never look back.

I don’t proclaim to know it all, but I do know that God never meant for any of His children to be subjected to pain and abuse on any level. He tells us in 1Corinthians 13:4-5(NLT), “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.” It’s wonderful that our Heavenly Father has placed this wisdom in His Word for us. Loving others with a Christ-kind of love is God’s goal for every person, because this is a love that is real and true. We don’t have to speculate as to how a Godkind of love should operate. We have the definitive Word on the subject from our Heavenly Father.

1John 4:8 tells us that anyone that doesn’t love does not know God, because He is love. God doesn’t punish us. He’s loving, kind, and gentle. That’s His nature, and because we are His children, this should be our nature as well. 1John 1:5(NLT) tells us, “This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.”Our God is light, and we can run into His loving arms. He will rescue and protect us because He tells us in Isaiah 40:29 that He will give power to those that are weak, and He will give strength to those that are powerless. This includes every person on the planet, because whether we want to admit it or not, we are all weak and powerless to some degree, and we desperately need His help. He is so gracious and merciful, and He is willing to help us.

Those who want to control us also want to steal our power. They want us to continue feeling low and powerless, but we don’t have to succumb to this. Instead, we must put our trust and faith in God. We want so desperately to believe that the person that confesses to love us will not continue to hurt us. We go back to them time and time again, but we need to wake up and stop taking the abuser’s word over God’s Word. No one can love and protect us like Heavenly Father, and He deserves our trust, and He never fails.

No matter how you slice it, abuse is not love. It is a way for the devil to steal your power by using someone close to you. Instead of giving your power to the enemy, use your strength to get to a safe place emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically, so you can do what is best for you and for those who lean on you for support. Run towards the light of God’s love and power, and never look back. ■

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.

“Run Towards the Light, and Never Look Back”, written by KYada, edited by Fran for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2020. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

What Could Be Better Than This?

I met a very successful investment banker that is also a very faithful member of his church. Not long ago, I had a conversation with this man, and he was not exactly what I would call pleasant. I was shocked by this. Understandably, his demeanor was in part shaped and molded by years of being a consummate and confident professional, and no doubt that in some instances he was very much catered to, but I thought the example of Christ should have been more apparent in his manner. My expectation was that some element of the deep compassion, understanding, and grace of our Lord and Savior would squeak through his unfriendly exterior. Ahh, that didn’t happen. Even a casual conversation didn’t escape his condescending tone, and he claims to have been in the faith a mighty long time. What happened?

In contrast to this man’s stern exterior, I have met people that love Christ so much that his essence just oozes from their pores. They make you wonder how such beautiful people can remain that way in this harsh and cruel world. I love the Lord with all that is within me, but honey, there are some things that, if you rub me the wrong way, it’s a struggle. I have to bite my tongue and perform all kinds of internal contortions to keep myself from ripping someone to shreds with my words. Oh yeah, I can do that. It’s one of the skills you pick up from all that repressed anger resulting from domestic violence and abuse.

I’ve learned the hard way that we really must practice the spiritual and intelligent discipline of pausing to think before we speak. Our words are creative. They form a framework for our futures. God’s Word puts it this way in Proverbs 18:21(KJV), “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Our words are constantly and consistently giving birth to the big three Cs, consequences, conditions, and circumstances. Most of us are in the habit of putting all kinds of stuff out there without giving any thought of how that stuff will come back to us. The truth is that everything we bring forth in the form of thoughts, words, and deeds is a representation of who we are. God designed life to be a mirror. It is always going to reflect our thoughts, words, and deeds back at us.

1John 4:16(NLT) says, “We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.” This is a beautiful verse indeed. We could attempt to explore its width and depth ten million years, and still not reach the end of its truth. Heavenly Father is not mean or angry. When He looks at Himself, love is reflected back at Him. Perfection is His reflection; therefore, He is deliriously happy within Himself, His Son, and His Holy Spirit. All the good stuff—every happiness, every blessing, every power, and every ounce of love is contained within God. With open arms, He invites us to come into Him through Christ. Our invitation isn’t merely to have a seat at His table, it is to share sonship through our Lord, Savior, and Big Brother, Jesus Christ.

The passage of Psalm 91:1-4(NLT) says, “1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. 3 For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. 4 He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.”  Inside God’s love, there’s blessings and intimacy with Him. Traveling outside the lane of God’s love, there’s confusion, darkness, and chaos. It can make us very bitter, and this bitterness leads to yucky stuff like resenting, disrespecting, and treating others poorly. We are often surprised by how this stuff comes back to us, but we shouldn’t be. Even some who say they believe in the Lord Jesus Christ are still traveling in the wrong lane. The banker seemed to be in that wrong lane. He felt comfortable only giving himself over to the franchise of money, but not to the total surrender that God requires.

It doesn’t matter how much money we have in the bank, if demonstrating God’s love through the example of Christ in the greatest way possible isn’t our goal, we’re lost, and the temporary pleasures on earth are the only ones we’ll have. God has something infinitely better in mind for our lives.

God’s love is the creative force behind everything good and lasting. Love does its most perfect work when we think, speak, feel, and live God’s love.  His love prepares us! It makes us fit into the glorious plans He has for us, not just for this life, but for eternity. Hebrews 5:9(NLT) tells us, “And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him.” Jesus Christ is perfect, and he became for us the source of eternality. He’s given us the gift of salvation, and with this is the gift of being with Heavenly Father in Christ forever. Those who cling to money and worldly pleasures also base the root of their identity in the pursuit of those things. For them, eternity is not viewed in the glory of its light; it is just another acquisition. But for those who walk in the Spirit, eternity represents a never-ending expansion in which they become in Christ all they were meant by God to be from the very beginning. It is the joy of leaving an everlasting legacy of love that continues creating out of God’s love for an eternity. This is what happens when we make the moment by moment choice to speak, think, act, and move through God’s love. What could be better than this?!■

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.

“What Could Be Better Than This?”, 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!

Jesus, Take the Wheel!

A few years ago, a few of my friends went ‘vision board’ crazy, and some of them were over the moon when the goal listed on their boards became a reality. We were all inspired by their success, but one friend in particular was very impacted by everyone’s enthusiasm and success. She’s much younger and has a special place in my heart because her childhood was very similar to my own. Issues resulting from low self-esteem and childhood trauma had caused her to feel as though life would never deal her a fair hand. After breaking up with her last boyfriend and wondering if she would ever get married and have a happily ever after, she decided to give this vision board idea a try. She hoped it would have a positive impact on her life.

In the Old Testament times, God would speak through a few chosen individuals that were spiritually attentive enough to hear His voice. These were God’s prophets, His truth speakers and truth seekers. They were responsible for delivering the Word of the Lord to the people of God, so that everyone could remain blessed according to God’s Will. There were three extremely important pieces that had to fit together for this to happen. The first is that people had to believe that God exists and that He speaks. Secondly, they had to believe that the prophet could hear from God, and thirdly, they had to believe that the word spoken was a true and sure Word.

Faith doesn’t get down with any finicking, wishy-washy business. It’s a tool in God’s mastery kit, and He designed it to only respond when the truth is heard and obeyed.  Studying God’s Word, it’s clear that many of the prophets of the Old Testament were chopping at the bits to hear from Heavenly Father, and this is a huge lesson in spiritual maturity and development for those of us living today. The prophets understood the enormous value of receiving a Word from heaven, and that nothing in all eternity could challenge or prevent it from going forth.

This is often the missing piece in the way that we think today. We are motivated chiefly by what we want to happen or the blessings we want to receive, and we expect it to take place on the double. Before, or even without knowing whether it’s in God’s plan for our lives, we get busy pursuing what we want and expect it all to take place without receiving a true and sure Word from Him.

‘Jesus, take the wheel’ has become a popular catch phase, and many use it with no idea of its heft. Jesus owns the wheel! Through his grace, he indulges our indifference to this truth. You and I don’t own anything. Everything we have is a loaner from the Almighty. Colossians 1:15-17(NLT) tells us, “15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, 16 for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. 17 He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.” The grace of God is nothing short of amazing, because even our very lives belong to God. Our bodies are His temple, but most people behave as if this isn’t true, and yet, He still loves us and wants us to love Him back.

Habakkuk was God’s prophet, and after praying to receive a Word from God, the Lord answered him in Habakkuk 2:2(NKJV) and said, “Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.” Our God answers our questions. The answers may not always be what we expect, but He will always answer our questions in a way that reveals His Will for our individual lives. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to trust in the Lord with all our hearts, and don’t lean on our own understanding. We’re to acknowledge Him in all our ways, and when we do this, He promises to direct our paths.

Some of us have this a little backwards. We think we’re supposed to guide, and then tell God to follow along, doling out His resources and power for our plans. This is what my dear sweet friend thought when she set up her vision board for marriage and career goals. Not having a clear understanding that GOD is the ONE who sets the vision has led many down the path of disappointment. Many worry that He might not speak to them, or that they won’t be able to recognize His voice or discern His directives. The reality is that learning to hear His voice and learning to discern His directives is what gives our lives meaning and fulfillment; and walking the path He’s set before us is what makes life sweet. The gift of the Holy Spirit is our perfect teacher! He has no problems whatsoever teaching us to hear and discern. Our job is to be obedient and make sure we learn the lessons well.  

The process of creating a vision board requires a clear vision of the goal. God knows our past, present, and future; therefore, clarity from Him regarding His vision ensures that we’ve got the right goal, so we can then have confidence and faith that it’s achievable AND pleasing to God. A vision board also uses more pictures than words, and the words should be concise and impactful. This is where truth comes in. The pictures we need are those that come from the mind of Christ. John 16:13(NLT) tells us, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.” This is precisely the information we need to be concise, and only the Spirit of the Living God can provide it.

Rest assured that dreams come true and goals are reached when we allow Jesus Christ to take the wheel. He knows God’s plans for our lives and the purpose for which we exist. If our aim is to truly follow the call of destiny and reach the greatest level of fulfillment God has destined us to achieve, best to let Him lead the way. He’ll give us the vision for our lives, and it will not disappoint. It’s up to us to write it down, be concerned about making it clear and concise, and follow wherever Jesus Christ leads us.■

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.

“Jesus, Take the Wheel!”, 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!