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!

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!

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!

Care for the Soul

What makes us pursue someone that hurts us? I’ve seen it more times than I can say. A woman is disrespected, abused, and sometimes cheated on, and when the man leaves, she does everything within her power to get him back. Is our fear of rejection and loneliness so severe that we will do just about anything to keep a warm body near? I personally know women that have compromised their integrity, put their jobs on the line, and even sacrificed the well-being and their responsibilities to their children in order to get the man back. What I’ve learned is that when we abandon the care of our souls, our need for intimate connection can take us down a very dark and dangerous path.

Genesis 1:26 very plainly tells us that God made human beings in His own image. One of the attributes of God’s image is that He is self-governing. He makes decisions, and He doesn’t have to consult anyone about them. He alone is sovereign, and He can do anything that pleases Him. One of the things that pleased Him was to weave this self-governing attribute into our beings as well. We make our own choices and decisions, and God doesn’t stop us from doing this. In all of humanity’s history, there wasn’t a more catastrophic choice and decision than the one Adam and Eve made when they disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden and bowed to satan. Surely, if there were such a thing as God interfering with our choices and decisions, that would have been an occasion when He would have done it. He could have slapped that ol’ apple right out of Eve’s hand and prevented the series of horrific events that led to the fall of humanity, but God didn’t interfere.

Romans 11:29(NLT) tells us, “For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn.” Heavenly Father allowed Adam and Eve to throw away the treasures of life and holiness that He’d given them. He gave them, and He’s given all of us the gift of free-will agency, and He will not overstep or withdraw it. Understanding His allegiance to His Word also underscores the reality that there’s no mistake any human being can make that God cannot correct. His Will goes forth no matter how foolish we are. Adam messed up big time, and God sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to correct Adam’s colossal mistake. Our Heavenly Father could have wiped Adam and Eve from the face of the earth and made it as if they had never existed, but He didn’t do this. He is a redeeming God, and His willingness to offer redemption reveals that He is forgiving, full of love, and He bestows grace and mercy upon those who seek it. This is indeed good news for us!

To redeem is to compensate for the faults or poor aspects of something by exchanging them for something far better. What God did for us through Christ was to redeem us from sin, so that we could be all He originally intended us to be before the first couple’s catastrophic actions. He did this spiritually, and it’s up to us to align our souls so they are in harmony with the overwhelming love God has shown us through Christ.

Sin is not doing things God’s way. Jesus Christ told us in John 14:6 that he is the way, the truth, and the life. So, God has shown us HIS WAY through Christ, but in the minds of most, sin seems like the easiest, most pleasurable and practical choice. The Bible tells us that thoughts like this about sin are those belonging to a person that has a mind blinded by satan. 2Corinithans 4:4 says that because satan has blinded them, they can’t see the glorious light of Christ and don’t understand it. This is the condition of an individual that craves the thing that causes injury to their souls and pursues that thing instead of the healing that comes from God.

Wanting a person so much that we are willing to chase after them even though we know they are not good for us; this shows us the degree to which our souls need nourishment. Fear is a lie from hell. It causes us to abdicate our rightful standing of authority and power in Christ. Fear causes us to hold tightly to what we think will bring us pleasure, because we don’t believe God’s way will achieve a better outcome. God is the One with the plan for our lives. We must not ever underestimate the good plan that He has in store for us, and we must never underestimate how much prayer will help to align our steps with what He has planned.

Darkness will cause us to think that our souls can lead us righteously, and arrogance will cause us to think that we alone can come up with a workable plan. Not so. The good news is that we can indeed become all that we were meant to be and have the life God wants to give us, but our humility is not negotiable. We must surrender our plan for God’s plan.

Heavenly Father told us in Psalm 46:10(NKJV), “Be still, and know that I am God.” Stillness is a spiritual practice, one that requires the discipline to put the soul on lockdown, so that we give our spirit a chance to minister to us according to the Lord’s guidance. We need to cease from responding and reacting to our circumstances and move to the place of spiritual quietness and renewal; it’s a place where we humbly submit ourselves to the leadership of Christ. It’s when we have surrendered all to God and are availing ourselves to Him, and Him alone, in every way possible.

We live in a time where everyone does whatever they feel is right for their own souls, and this is usually done without accountability or responsibility to what God says is right. It simply will not work, and the current state of the world proves this overwhelmingly. Our Heavenly Father backs His Word. He’s supreme and He does not lie. Even though our souls may experience discomfort, it isn’t the person that left they are aching for. Our souls ache to be fed manna from heaven, the everlasting power and virtue of God’s Word. If we’ll make the free-will choice to turn to Heavenly Father and trust what He says, we will receive comfort and calm, as our souls are transformed by the One who made them.■

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

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

“Care for the Soul”, 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!

Obsessed with the Outer Reality

Sometimes, there are people that come across our paths at the oddest times, and they eventually leave as quickly as they came. I met such a person some years ago. For anonymity’s sake, we’ll call her Alexa. She’s nice enough, pleasant to talk to, and very savvy, but I don’t think I’ve ever been quite as uncomfortable around anyone as I was her. To say she was always impeccably dressed is truly an understatement. Hair beautifully coifed, makeup tight, with a perfect manicure to boot, I was super impressed and a little intimidated to be honest. Her kids were as immaculately kept as she appeared to be. Everything was designer this or that, and the Italian and French names rolled effortlessly from her lips.

As I got to know Alexa a little better, her obsession with status was hard to miss. The car, the home, private schools for the kids, all of it had to be top notch. Her need to keep up with it all was unlike anything I had ever witnessed. It would be wonderful to say that she was as adamant about her relationship with the Lord and with the condition of her soul as she was about shoes with red bottoms, but I personally saw no evidence of this. What I did see, however, was how a life can be totally devastated when an accountability to spiritual principles is ignored, neglected, or refused.

There is a very base level of consciousness that most human beings never seek to elevate. It may sound like a judgment, but truth is not bound, hindered, or bothered by any individual’s judgment. Truth stands on its own and proves itself. When we’re obsessed with the outer reality to the point that we’re neglecting the inner reality, every aspect of our existences will begin to mirror this neglect.

In 1Thessalonians 5:23(NLT), God commands, Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again.” We are made in the image of God. The Godhead is triune: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In like manner, He created humans to be triune as well. He is our Father, we are His children, and it is therefore undeniably logical and perfectly intelligent that our makeup should mirror His. He’s a God of order, and everything He does has order and purpose. We are an on-purpose people serving and honoring an on-purpose God.

Three parts make up the sum of our being, and without all three parts, we would not be human beings, we’d be something else. We have a human spirit, a human soul, and a human body. All three parts are to be in harmony, and to be unified to such a degree that all are functioning and operating in the very same way that Christ did. A Christ-level of being is the ultimate and the highest state than any living creature could ever hope to attain. To help us achieve this highest state of living and being, God has given us a part of Himself. He’s given us His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, and sealed our human spirit with His Spirit. Ephesians 1:13-14 The Message(MSG) affirms, “ It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This down payment from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life.”

Our human spirit was recreated by Jesus Christ through the born-again experience and is perfect in every way. It is the highest part of us, and the soul and body must obey it in order to be in harmony with the Lord. A base level consciousness refuses to be obedient to the ways of Jesus Christ, and because of this refusal, the souls of many people are not fed the diet of God’s Word they desperately need. Our recreated human spirit contains our new nature, and this new nature wants to do what is right, but the soul is a very different story. The soul has the old nature, one that craves whatever will make the body feel pleasure. It is a flesh driven existence, one that keeps a person craving the very thing that defeats them.

The old nature rebels against the ways of Christ, and it causes the kind of self-sabotage that not only destroys our lives, but it can take others down with it. I saw the beginning of this with Alexa. Her need to control, her temper tantrums when she didn’t get her way, and the nastiness of her arrogance were corrosive. When her life began to crumble, the shame of it was too much. The marriage, the home, the car…all of it gone. As quickly as her life had crossed my path, it faded from my view, as it did for many others.

To give ourselves the greatest chance for fulfillment and peace during our sojourn on earth, we’ve got to disconnect from the old nature and feed our souls the diet it desperately craves, which is life in the Spirit. Everything in our entire being is aching for us to let the Spirit be at work within. Ephesians 3:20(NLT) says, Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,” God’s power works in us through His Holy Spirit. God’s Holy Spirit is His seed, and He has placed His seed within our human spirits to help us lead a successful life as followers of Jesus Christ. Letting the Spirit take the lead over our lives through Christ is the very best decision we can make, and it will benefit the whole of our existence. The question that you and I must ask ourselves is whether we’re allowing the Holy Spirit to be at work. If we aren’t, now is a terrific time to start.■

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 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.

“Obsessed with the Outer Reality”, 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!