Now is Not the Time to Look Back

The past is gone, and the reality is that you will never see those days again. It is as true as truth can be that all you really have is right now. And what you do in the ‘right now’ of this moment will shape your tomorrow and future ahead. No matter how tempting it may be, now is not the time to look back. You’ve come this far, and God has some place for you to be. In Jeremiah 29:11(NLT), He told His people living in Old Testament times, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” God wanted them to know that they were not forgotten. It was true thousands of years ago, and it is true today. Heavenly Father has a plan for our individual lives. It is a good plan, and it requires us to always look up and look ahead.

Jeremiah, God’s prophet to His people, reminded those in captivity in Babylon not to listen to false prophets and allow their hope to be diminished. He assured them that they were on the mind of God, and that God had not forgotten them. We can relate to this, right?! When we’re in the thick of it, and problems are popping up all other the place, it can feel very much like we are without the anchor God gives. We might be tempted to believe that He has forgotten all about us and left us to fend for ourselves. This isn’t the truth, but in our weakened state of anxiety and fear, some of us convince ourselves that it is.

2Corinithians 4:4(NLT) tells us, “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.” Blinding someone’s mind is an extremely dastardly trick. It requires manipulation, and it also requires a willing participant. You might think, “Well that’s just crazy! No one would willingly participate in the devil’s scheme to blind them.” Well, the practice of always looking back and losing hope and trust in God’s plan is a sort of blindfold, because you can’t look back and look ahead at the same time.

God wants our eyes open to the tricks of the enemy because if you’re blinded then you can’t see the truth. Many of God’s children are suffering through the struggles of financial hardship, depression, sadness, isolation, spousal abandonment, and many other debilitating issues of abuse. Our Heavenly Father wants us to see the glorious light of the Good News of Jesus Christ. This light of Christ will bring healing and solutions to the darkness of the circumstances many of us face.

It isn’t uncommon for individuals to define themselves, and indeed their whole lives, by the hurt and pain they’ve experienced. Their disappointments and failings, and not their triumphs, become the narrative of how they describe themselves. These things become branded on our hearts and souls. They become the mark in the sand. We have to realize sooner or later that although our struggles, disappointments, and loss may represent the mark in the sand, our mission as more than conquerors in Christ is to move beyond the mark. We can do this not because we’re so strong, but because God is greater than our pain, and He heals all wounds.

It’s time to remove the blinders and see the truth of who God has made us. Whether it is the spouse or significant person who doesn’t treat us well, or it may be a person who doesn’t want the best for us, sadly these are folks the enemy uses to pull the wool over our eyes. We must wake up, see it for what it is, and then begin to structure our prayer lives around God’s strength and the deliverance He freely offers us through Christ.

Know that every decision you make to walk in your truest, highest self in Christ, is a move towards the light. We were created by God to be free. 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.” Taking a stand means to boldly believe in the power, love, and strength of God and that He will use His unlimited resources to rescue you from all hurt, harm, and danger. It’s not about what’s happened in the past. The past is the past. It’s about what God is doing in your life today, and what He will do every day as you make the decision to surrender to Him. Take His hand and allow Him to guide and teach you. The blinders will be removed, and your life will never be the same.■

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.

“Now is Not the Time to Look Back”, written by KYada, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2021. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Don’t Let Him Pick You Apart!

I bet just about every woman knows the verse in Philippians 4:6(NLT). It tells us, Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Look at how simple Heavenly Father has made this for us. First, He tells us what not to do, then He tells us exactly what to do in order to restore His peace in our lives. We shouldn’t worry about anything because worry isn’t the nature of a believer. Faith and gratitude are our nature, and anything outside of those two doesn’t tell the truth about the goodness of God. Many of us know this, but we let worry and doubt get the best of us anyway. We’ve got to stop giving over our power and authority in Christ this way. We can’t allow the devil to pick us apart, especially now.

I’ve heard many women that are believers speak about the incredible circumstances and situations that God has brought them through. From marital abandonment and financial ruin to domestic violence and abuse, they’ve dealt with it all and some of them did so with darts flying from all angles. As soon as they felt some degree of ease about one thing, two or three other situations came out of nowhere. They felt like throwing in the towel, but they didn’t. One of the common threads in their testimonies of overcoming incredibly painful situations is the lesson they learned about anxiety and doubt. They wasted a lot of time worrying about whether God would come through or if He’d allow them to fall through the cracks. He always delivers on His promises and in the end, He rescued them from darkness and despair.

We all know the grips of that sinking feeling. It brings you so low that you can’t even define the depth. Every part of you feels upset and bothered, and nothing—no thought or feeling, seems to bring comfort. In our darkest moments, we know God’s healing power, and we also know that He’s commanded us not to worry, but we make ourselves sick with worry any way. No matter how many times our friends, loved ones, and spiritual mentors tell us to give it to Jesus, we vacillate back and forth, giving our burdens to him one minute and taking them back the next.

As God’s children, we can learn a lot about having a constancy of faith by the pattern of good parenting that many of us have demonstrated to our own biological children. We love our children and will do anything for them. We must remember that God is the One who has given us the heart and mind for parenting. We didn’t come up with it on our own. We love our kids because He first loved us. Not only has He shown us real and genuine love through Jesus Christ by giving him as a sacrifice for the sins of all people, but God created us with the capacity to respond to each other with His love. We are made in His image, and we understand that His love is the force that propels us forward.

As good parents, we would never harm our kids, but will do everything in our power to protect them. To make sure their well-being is preserved, we would move heaven and earth if we could. God’s love is infinitely higher than the love that any of us can give. In Isaiah 55:9(NLT), He said of Himself, “For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” God loves us more than we can ever imagine. Our thoughts can’t think that high. It’s a deep, unconditional and abiding love, and nothing can separate us from it. No one can love like He loves. To get a glimpse of how He views our worry and doubt, consider the thought of your biological child sitting somewhere, feeling scared, and worrying that you have refused to take care of them or that you won’t do it for some reason. This would hurt you to the core. Imagine how God feels when we don’t trust Him to take care of us.

All good relationships are built on individuals responding honestly, compassionately, thoughtfully, and lovingly to one another. God set relationships up to operate this way. These responses build faith and trust, and without faith and trust, a relationship will collapse or be injured. You and I are here on this earth to build an intimate relationship with God through Jesus Christ. This is the purpose of life! Jesus Christ tells us that he is the door to the Father. We must have the faith of Jesus Christ to please God. Faith and believing in Him is how we respond to His overwhelming love.

Fear is a cloak of deception that the devil tries to pull off as being real. It is a false evidence of reality, and worry is a sign that we have bought into the lie. We can’t let the devil continue to pick us apart with his tactics and tricks. Let’s resist his plots by doing as Philippians 4:6 says and get really specific in our prayers. We have the authority of Jesus Christ to plead his blood over situations and circumstances. Colossians 1:13 tells us that his blood cleansed our sins, and through the blood of Jesus Christ, God has delivered us from the power of satan’s darkness and transferred us to his Kingdom. We don’t belong to worry and doubt, and we should never claim them.

Yes, it takes time to develop the habit pattern of choosing faith and not fear, but God tells us how to strengthen the muscle. He said, “Thank him for all he has done.” This is a strategy for Godly living. A person can’t be thankful and fearful at the same time. To keep fear from rising up and overtaking our hearts, Heavenly Father commands us to think of His goodness, and do it continually. This is how we constantly hit the “ON” button of faith. Philippians 4:6(NLT) tells us that as we practice thankfulness and gratitude to God, “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.”

God doesn’t leave our relationship with Him to chance. He tells us exactly how to respond to Him, and to do it in a way that causes Him delight. Our obedience and commitment to respond to God with faith and gratitude will invite the indwelling Holy Spirit to saturate us with God’s peace. This peace guards our hearts and minds, but we must live in Christ. This means we must do our part, and Philippians 4:8(NLT) tells us exactly what that part is. It says, “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” We can change the way we handle obstacles and adversity by resisting the urge to respond to what the devil is trying to do, instead, we can respond to the goodness of God, be thankful and abide in His perfect 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.

“Don’t Let Him Pick You Apart!” 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!

Refuse a Life of Regrets

‘Destiny’ is probably one of the most significant words in human vocabulary. Destiny is coded in our spiritual DNA, and long before we actually arrived on the scene, God wove it in the bloodline that made our very existence possible. At this moment, the search to fulfill our destiny is either driving our aspiration to expand into the person we are meant to be, or the neglect of it is fueling a level of ambivalence that frustrates our every move. Fulfilling one’s God-inspired destiny is the measuring stick by which the umph of life is gauged. Without it, we don’t understand what we’re doing or why we’re doing it. The epiphany that many realize sometimes very late in life is that everything about them was destined for a purpose, and it didn’t become clear until so much had been wasted. When we talk about regrets, this is often a doozy.

The psalmist wrote about the Lord in Psalm 16:11(NKJV), “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Who better to show us the path of life than the Creator of it? He will reveal what He has in mind for us IF we’re interested in following it, but there are a few other things that we must know as well. One of them is about how the Father reveals this path of destiny to us. He’s a God of the exceedingly abundant, but the golden rule of abundance is that it doesn’t support wastefulness. God has structured the laws of the universe in such a way that ignorance and poor stewardship are not rewarded. So, if we have no interest in fulfilling our destiny or gaining knowledge of it, it is doubtful we’ll recognize the path to its treasure; for we will not position ourselves anywhere near its proximity.

Very often, Heavenly Father reveals our purpose in pieces. Once we’ve shown ourselves interested in following the path He’s placed before us, He reveals a nugget and then waits on our response. What should this response be? Primarily, it should be one of gratitude, for this is the key that opens the door to a blessed life. In Old Testament times, people worshipped God by offering the sacrifice of animals, but God made it clear to them in Psalm 50:10 that everything they offered belonged to Him anyway. In Psalm 50:14(NLT), He gives us a directional cue that leads to the path and tells us, “Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High.”

The sadness of regret is often caused by believing we are worse in the present because of something that happened or didn’t happen in the past. It’s something we perceived as a missed opportunity. We should never become emotionally distraught or vexed over one or two missed opportunities. Our God is a Redeeming God. Nothing is lost to us when His love is the driving force of our lives. Heavenly Father has seen to it that opportunities are strategically positioned all around us, but when our hearts are closed to gratitude, we are blind to opportunities we might otherwise see. This is another very important truth for us to nibble on. Colossians 4:2 encourages us to devote ourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart, because the more thankful we are to God for His blessings, the more opened our eyes will be to what He has in store for us.

In our everyday dealings, we cast serious shade on an individual that walks around like they deserve the best but does nothing to earn it. There’s some biblical basis for this, because Jesus Christ tells us in Luke 6:43-44 The Message (MSG), “You don’t get wormy apples off a healthy tree, nor good apples off a diseased tree. The health of the apple tells the health of the tree. You must begin with your own life-giving lives. It’s who you are, not what you say and do, that counts. Your true being brims over into true words and deeds.” A tree is known by the fruit it produces. In other words, we know the treasury of a person’s heart by their deeds and actions. Our Heavenly Father has shown us who He is, and proved it, through the sacrifice of His only begotten Son.

Our God deserves the highest form of praise and worship. He deserves the greatest of all we have to give, because this is exactly what He has poured into us. Our well of gratitude to Him for what He’s done through Christ enlightens our understanding in ways we can never articulate. Ephesians 3:17 tells us that as our gratitude deepens, our roots grow down into God’s love and keep us strong. This is how we refuse a life of regrets, by clinging to the One who loves us more than we can fathom. The sacrifice and resurrection of Christ shows us how wide, how long, how high, and how deep God’s love is. And when we experience this overwhelming love through Christ, Ephesians 3:19 tells us we will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from our God.■

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.

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

The Spirit’s Fruit Producing Business

Ephesians 1:4-6 declares that long before God laid down the foundations of earth, He knew us and predestinated us according to His purposes. He made us the focus of His love and even before we entered our mother’s wombs, He adopted us into His family. He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to accomplish this mission. Jesus Christ initiated God’s plan by which you and I would become transformed into the very image of Christ. And it is through Jesus Christ that we find out who we are and the purpose for which we are created.

If you and I could transform ourselves, we would have done it long ago. The truth is that we can’t do it ourselves, and because of what Jesus Christ accomplished through his sacrifice and resurrection, we don’t have to. Christ restored the connection to God that Adam lost. He made it possible for us to receive God’s seed, the gift of Holy Spirit, in the inner sanctum of our being. Our Creator set the precedent. His pattern of reproduction is such that a child must have its father’s seed to be that father’s offspring. When we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Big Brother, by the consummation of our faith, we receive the same seed that Jesus Christ has.

God is our Father, and we carry His seed, the Holy Spirit. We are spiritual beings having a human experience, not the other way around. If we miss this, we’ll miss a whole lot. Every moment on this earth affords us the opportunity to affirm our identity in God’s truth. The gift of this opportunity is monumental because once this life is over, there’s no chance for back-tracks or do overs. This is it! We will either accept our call and walk in God’s purpose, or we won’t. Choosing not to accept His call is catastrophic, but it is indeed our choice to make. However, if we accept our call, we will become rooted and grounded in God’s love through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

With Christ at the helm, there is no regression or going backwards to our old state of darkness and dysfunction. God’s trajectory is forward and upward, never backward. His call is that we abound in Christ, to increase in him in every way, because Christ is God’s blueprint for humanity. Becoming like him is the highest, most excellent existence available to any living thing. And to increase in Christ, we’re going to have to leave our comfort zones. That’s an absolute.

A comfort zone is the place where we hang out emotionally, mentally, and physically. It’s the familiar. Anything outside our comfort zone will press us to change, and change is what many of us resist. We know what we know, we like what we know, and we don’t want to know anything different. That’s a recipe for being stuck, and our destiny in Christ will not support that stance. Rather than being stuck and afraid, we will need to make room in our lives for this hugely supernatural word called ‘surrender’. We must surrender our fears to Christ, take his hand, and allow him to lead us through his Spirit.

Jesus Christ tells us in John 16:13-14(NLT), “13 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. 14 He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me.” The Holy Spirit is our Comforter, Friend, Teacher, and Guide. He guides us through life according to the purpose and plan God has set for us, and walking by, with, and in God’s Spirit is no ordinary life. We must completely take our hands off the wheel, and let the Spirit do what only he can do for us.

Walking in the Spirit requires us to make a switch. We can no longer allow our flesh to be our guide. That occupation belongs only to the Spirit. We must surrender to him, and when we do, it’s a total faith walk! We can’t lean on the flesh and please God at the same time. He tells us in Proverbs 3:5-6(NKJV), “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” The flesh doesn’t want us to surrender, it wants quick pleasure and to keep us marching to the tune of rebellion. It leads us to think that we can direct our own paths, be self-reliant, and become grounded in self-security. Life will teach us how wrong this line of thinking really is.

Everything is spiritual, from the smallest to the greatest detail of life. God isn’t keeping anything hidden from us. He is one hundred and fifty million percent transparent, and then some. Our responsibility as God’s sons and daughters is to bear fruit through the Spirit for God’s Kingdom. The Spirit’s power is unlimited, and he gets busy. IF we will allow him, he will work through us to produce good works. If we doubt this to any degree, all we need to do is ask God about it. He’s not shy. If you earnestly want to know the truth about why you are here and what you’re supposed to be doing with your life, ask the Spirit. But you can’t ask just for the sake of asking. When you come to God, you must recognize and honor who He is, and you must be ready to surrender and to let the Spirit lead, guide, and direct you in his fruit producing business. ■

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

“The Spirit’s Fruit Producing Business”, 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!

Your Alabaster Box

I was seven years old when I began spending my summers in Chicago with my aunt and cousin. To my cousin’s friends and neighborhood playmates, I was the country cousin who spoke funny. My words were often met with odd looks and “I don’t understand what you’re saying.” I entertained these youngsters simply by being me, and sometimes this was more hurtful than it was amusing. Now that I’m much older, I remember my aunt’s friends more distinctly than I do the children my cousin and I played with for hours. Her friends were colorful with big personalities that took up all the space in a room, and there was one in particular that I will never forget.

I was nine or ten, and she was wearing all black when I first met her. So lean and stylish, she looked as if she had been a model in her younger years. It was a Sunday afternoon after church, and she had stopped over for a plate of my aunt’s Sunday dinner. My aunt was southern bred and could burn in the kitchen almost as well as my grandmother. Somewhere during her friend’s visit, it dawned on me that she had been the woman that ran to the altar for altar-call at church and fell to her knees, whaling with moans and tears. Her big hat had kept her face hidden from me during service, but when my eyes were supposed to be closed for prayer, they had been locked on her the entire time. I wondered why no one else seemed as mesmerized by her distinct and gushing cries as I had been.  

Luke 7 contains the record of a woman with a beautiful alabaster box. She came to Simon’s house where Jesus Christ had been invited for dinner. Simon was a Pharisee, and they notoriously hated Jesus, but masked it at times for the sake of tricking him or finding something they could use to discredit him. This woman heard that Jesus would be in Simon’s home and came weeping at his feet. Luke 7:38(NLT) tells us, “Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them.” She took the contents of her alabaster box and anointed the feet of Jesus with rare perfume.

It was customary in those times to anoint the heads of guest with olive oil as a sign of hospitality, and even though Christ was more worthy of anyone to receive this courtesy, Simon had not given it to him.  Jesus Christ said of this woman in Luke 7:47-48(NIV), “47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” 48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”” The humility of the woman with the alabaster box in Luke 7 is palpable, and my aunt’s friend, the thin, stylish woman in black, is in my mind a symbol of her. She was drenched in gratitude, and humility oozed from her being like a river of anointed oil.

When I was older, my aunt explained that this woman, her dear friend, had endured many years of domestic violence and abuse at the hands of her husband. He had been at times ruthless, and she endured it for the sake of their children. Not long after she turned to Christ and gave her life to him, her husband’s health began to decline. My aunt told us she had committed herself to his care, as he no longer had the strength or the heart to do her any harm. Her praise to God was unabashed and in total awe of how our Heavenly Father took a life as pitiful as hers and made peace where there was total desperation.

1Corinthians 4:20(NLT) tells us, “For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.” Life is not stripped of all adversities, obstacles, and troubles so that we can walk a path devoid of those things. God has designed life to teach us to walk in His power despite the hurdles that come with living on earth. Faith would not be faith if there were no challenges that reveal the magnitude of its brilliance. God’s deliverance and power manifests in our lives in many ways. There is no limit to what He can do, and we must remind ourselves of this continually.

All of us have a beautiful alabaster box. The woman who anointed the feet of Jesus Christ with rare perfume showed us that it isn’t the beauty of the outside but what we do with the contents of the container that makes all the difference. Whether our troubles are prolonged or swiftly moved out of the way, Christ will forever be the reason for our joy. Our hope in him does not disappoint, and in him our every expectation for fulfilling God’s glory is complete. We don’t have any excuses to feel distant from God, He’s brought us close to Him through Christ. And now that we have the great privilege to give back to Heavenly Father the treasure He’s placed within us, we should let the sweet perfume of our faith in Him anoint everything that we do.■

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.

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

“Your Alabaster Box”, 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!

Dissolving the Dark Cloud of Sadness

One of the residuals of surviving domestic violence and abuse is the feeling that everything is stacked against your happiness. Not only is it an alarming place to be, it is emotionally exhausting. Once you’ve placed your trust in someone you believed to be worthy of it, and they end up betraying this trust, something is lost. You no longer believe the world to be a safe place or that you can carve out a small piece of safe harbor for yourself. Living daily with this can make you feel like there’s a dark cloud looming over your head, and it follows you everywhere you go. For many of us, it is a sadness we can’t seem to shake.

Some abusers cloak their manipulative tactics with a very charismatic personality. They seem exciting and have a lot of fun, and this can be a very attractive and magnetic draw, especially for a person that is starving for attention and isn’t secure in themselves. Many victims fall for the abuser and latch on to them very tightly because of this. It’s the beginning of such internal conflict. One part of you, a very important part, is being fed in a way that is deeply satisfying. The other part of you is being zapped of all its vitality and strength by someone who wants you to believe they love you. To say that you are torn is an understatement.

Likewise, to say that a person in this situation needs rescuing is also an understatement. The first truth that we must accept is that we’re unable to rescue ourselves. God is our Rescue. 2King 17:39(NLT) states, “You must worship only the LORD your God. He is the one who will rescue you from all your enemies.” Without God, we wouldn’t be able to do anything. Nothing in the universe happens without Him allowing it to occur. We are given this earth experience to grow in our relationship with Heavenly Father and to also increase our knowledge and understanding about Him, so that we can make wise decisions and choices. The goal in life is to trust Him more and more with each passing day, our trust in Him transforms us into all that He desires us to be. 

Believing God to this degree is a foreign concept for most. Some might believe in Him, but they don’t think leaning on Him for everything equates to the level of maturity an adult should have in life. They think it’s fine for children, but they equate a fully persuaded faith in God to believing in fairytales. Not understanding the accomplishment of Jesus Christ through his ministry, sacrifice, and resurrection, some people believe life is to be lived on their own terms and that’s that.

Faith in God is nowhere near a fairytale. Faith in Him through Jesus Christ is believing in reality, everything else is temporary and fading away minute by minute. 1John 2:17(NKJV) declares, “And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” Society teaches us to place all our trust in people, governments, institutions, relationships, and material things. We start to believe that we can use all those things as a foundation for building ourselves and to undergird the kind of life we desire. The world is corrupting, so why would we use it to build anything we want to last? 1Colossians 3:11(NLT) teaches us, “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” He is the Rock of our Salvation, and because of him we have received the gift of eternal life.

The dark cloud of sadness that hovers over many individuals does so because they refuse to have faith in God. Many of them are stuck in disappointment because they gave another human being a place in their lives that only God should have been given. They put all their eggs in this person’s basket, and the eggs were crushed because this is a responsibility no human being can handle successfully. God didn’t give any human the ability to see into the heart of another, nor did He give us the capacity to keep someone else’s heart. He lets us know in His Word that we are responsible for our own hearts. He commands us in Proverbs 4:23 to guard them above all else.

Dissolving the dark cloud requires our diligence to grow in faith. The fantasy was believing that another person could give us something that God could or would not. The fairytale is thinking life will cooperate with us when we don’t trust God with all our hearts, minds, and strength. He is our Rescue. He’s our strength from day to day, and He tells us in His Word to delight in Him. There is none that compares to our Heavenly Father, and He is all we need. We don’t have to live a life dominated by fear. We’re not built for that. Our hope is in Christ, and Romans 5:5 affirms that this hope does not disappoint! We were created from God’s love, and through Christ, we can live love every moment of every day. This is what God wants for us, and one of the greatest things any of us can do is to want it for ourselves. ■

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.

“Dissolving the Dark Cloud of Sadness”, 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!

Take Life in Small Chewable Bites

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Take Life in Small Chewable Bites”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2021. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Sold Out on God’s Goodness

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

It’s been ten years since her divorce, and it was an abusive marriage. Brenda struggles with forgiving herself for leaving her husband and still wonders if she did the right thing. For a long time, she believed that God was punishing her for it by not allowing her to marry again. Nothing could be further from the truth, but we can get so dug in when it comes to our way of thinking that we simply refuse to see life any other way. 1John 1:5(NLT) tells us, This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.” Gifts from our Heavenly Father cannot be improved, they are perfect, just as He is perfect. He is a Giver in the greatest, most infinite sense of the Word. He does not punish or withhold gifts. He gives freely and it is His great delight to do so.

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

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

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

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

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

“Sold Out on God’s Goodness”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2021. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

God Wants Our Eyes Open

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2Corinthians 4:4(NLT) says, “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.” Have you ever wondered why when one crazy thing happens, no sooner than you get it handled, another pops up right after it? Sometimes, it’s just one thing after another. Many people become so used to this bombardment of issues and problems, that they think this is the way God wants life to go. This isn’t true. 1Corinthians 14:33 tells us that God is not the author of confusion. He is a God of peace, and He desires us to live a peaceful existence, so that we can have peaceful fellowship in our relationship with Him.

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

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

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

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

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

“God Wants Our Eyes Open”, written by Fran and Kyrene for written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2021. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Flip the Script and Increase Your Faith!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Flip the Script and Increase Your Faith!”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2021. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!