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!

Run Towards the Light, and Never Look Back

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Life Filled with Love, Light, and Other Good Stuff

The Bible is a spiritual book for God’s spiritual people. If a person doesn’t believe that everything is spiritual and that they are spiritual beings, they probably won’t be too interested in hearing what God says. They either will concoct their own theories about life and living or adopt the philosophies of others. The path that many have chosen is to place their intelligence in the forefront and to try to neglect, undermine, or contradict the unmatched intelligence of our Creator. He tells us in Isaiah 55:8-9(NLT), “8 My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. 9 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.” Heavenly Father’s thoughts are exponentially higher than ours, and we can be so easily deceived into thinking our way is right, when it is completely opposite of the mind of Christ. It’s important that we confront this, because in order to have God’s peace, joy, love, and power, we must allow for the reality that we may need to change the way we think.

Folks are complaining like never before. They are upset with people they feel have done them wrong, they’re upset with the systems of the world, and truth be told, they are upset with themselves. Nothing is meeting their expectations, and they want to put the blame on God, when they haven’t done as God has commanded. Heavenly Father tells us in Romans 12:2(NLT), “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Learning God’s Will for our lives is the key that opens the door to love, light, and all the other good stuff that He’s made available to us through Jesus Christ.

The choice to change the way we think is ever before us. God didn’t create us to be robots that followed His every command automatically. If that is what He had wanted, He would have created us to be just that. Our Heavenly Father wanted a family, and He created us in His image. Genesis 1:27(NLT) says, “So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” God created us to be self-governing, like Him. We decide who we’re going to serve and what we’re going to do, but make no mistake, our identity has already been established by God. No matter our choices, we are spiritual beings having an earthly experience, and earth is very definitely a temporary sojourn.

While we’re here, serving one another is integral to our purpose, and we’re to achieve this purpose in the unity, love, and compassion of Jesus Christ. This is “Faith Basics-101”. Living out our purpose in service to God and in service to His people is “God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” This is the path He has set for all His children. God’s kids are supposed to operate this way, because serving others is the way HE operates. Jesus Christ demonstrated this in his life, ministry, and sacrifice. His example leads the way to the Father and lays the path of our destinies before us.

Jesus said in John 14:6(NLT), “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” I am completely and utterly over the moon with what Jesus Christ said in John 14:6. My biological father had issues—serious ones. He was a poor example of how a father should behave, and he did not model love, compassion, and generosity before mine and my sibling’s eyes. His addictions got in the way of him behaving as a good father should, but I can tell you very straightforwardly that if anyone had tried to come against my father in any way, I would have tried my best to make sure they never tried it again. I would have done my best to protect him, even as a child. If I felt this way about a poor example of a father, imagine how Jesus feels about an excellent One. God doesn’t need protection, but He demands holiness. It’s what He deserves. Anything glorious deserves glory, and there is none more glorious and holy than the One True God.

Through Jesus Christ, we are made righteous, we are made fit to stand before God with no sense of guilt, sin, or condemnation. Jesus accomplished this for us on the cross, and his way is the only way to connect to the Source of all good things. Romans 8:29(NLT) says, “For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” We were created to be God’s children, and Jesus Christ has perfectly modeled for us what God’s kids should do—how we should behave, think, and govern ourselves in this world. As our Big Brother, Jesus Christ desires to guide each of us in a way that we become what we were always meant to be. This is our destiny. It wasn’t, nor could it be, determined by us. God knew us in advance, and He has already chosen us to be like our Big Brother, because our Big Brother embodies all that God is in human form.

If I tried to mow my lawn with a vacuum cleaner, I will probably be dissatisfied with the results. The same can be said when we try to live our lives outside of the purpose for which they were created. We are dissatisfied with the results. We were never intended to live disconnected from the Source of all life. We are spiritual beings having an earth experience, and the key to maximizing life is to lead it through God’s love. Most of us have our own ideas about how to accomplish this, but God warns us not to leave it to speculation.

We must not let the worries and enticement of the world choke the Word out of our minds and hearts. Ephesians 4:21-24(NLT) tells us, “Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” Our responsibility is to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, to change the way we think so that we walk in God’s love and align ourselves with our purpose for being on this earth. This is the way to live a life filled with love, light, and all the other good stuff that comes from above.■

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

“A Life Filled with Love, Light, and Other Good Stuff”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2020. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

What Could Be Better Than This?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What Could Be Better Than This?”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2020. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Jesus, Take the Wheel!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God Cannot Fail

A person said to me that she couldn’t understand why salvation through Jesus Christ is necessary. She finds the bible confusing and very troubling in some areas, and one of her greatest areas of confusion is consequences and why we must face them if God’s forgiveness is granted. She has heard teachers and preachers say that the world is being punished by God with the pandemic. She is alarmed by what she sees and said, “How can a loving God do this to people?” I’ve been on the Christian journey a long time, and I’m no stranger to questions like these. We live in a world where people see the most horrible things imaginable. They blame these dark deeds on God, even refer to them as “acts of God”, and they attribute the wonderful blessings of life to themselves or the devil. 1John 1:5 declares that God is light, and there’s no darkness in Him at all. This is the truth! We’d give ourselves the greatest gift of eternity if we’d accept that God’s Word is true, that He cannot fail, and if we trust Him, He will prove His Word to us in an undeniable way.    

From the very beginning of His Word, in Genesis 1, God shows us a little bit about His process of creation. This is an oversimplification of course, but in a nutshell, 1) He spoke; 2) everything cooperated, converged, and complied; then 3) everything came into being in response to His sovereign authority, glory, power and majesty. It couldn’t happen any other way. When God speaks, we have the definitive and final authority on any subject. God also spoke us into being. He created humans to be like Him and gave us free-will agency to make our own choices. Like Him, we are self-governing when it comes to how we want to live our lives. We can live them according to the example of Jesus Christ, which was always God’s plan, or we can try to come up with our own code of standards, and live as we please. Some who do this are very sincere, but sincerity is no guarantee for truth.  

In Genesis, we see that God is very specific and leaves nothing to chance. That’s just the way He gets down. For instance, He didn’t create frogs to have baby elephants, or bears to have baby giraffes. Everything produces after its own kind. That’s order! Another important pattern is the order in which He went about creating. It was very systematic and intelligent. He didn’t create Adam first and then create everything around the first man. No. He created everything humans would need for habitation, and then He created Adam. The understanding that God wanted us to enter into His rest and provision could not be compromised in any way. He is a God of order, and wherever there is order, there are laws. Therefore, there will always be a price for violating the law.

God told Adam and Eve not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. This was His Word. It was law. He said, “Don’t do it!” and that’s exactly what He meant. Then comes the slick and dastardly evil one, who wanted to steal the dominion and authority that God had given to Adam and Eve. Jesus Christ told us in John 10:10 that the devil is in the earth to steal, kill, and destroy. It’s amazing how people will believe in many of the other truths in God’s Word, but they have a problem dealing with what Jesus said in John 10:10. All we need to do is look around at the chaos and confusion in the world today. It is the devil’s handiwork, and he has blinded people so much that they try to label what God says is wrong as right, and what God says is right as wrong.

We have crafted many of the judicial systems on earth following the pattern of God’s laws. In most of them, if you violate the law, you lose all the privileges that come with being a free citizen. That’s what happened to Brother Adam and Sister Eve. They were in paradise spiritually, because they were holy and had spiritual perfection in their relationship and fellowship with God. This allowed them to be in a physical paradise in the Garden of Eden as well. They were in bliss, but they gave it up because they chose to be separated from the sovereignty of God.

They were tricked by the devil into disobeying God’s commandment which forbid them from eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They disobeyed God’s law and lost all the privileges of being a free citizen in the beautiful paradise God created for them both spiritually and physically—on this earth. Notice that God didn’t come down and slap that apple out of Eve’s hand. Heavenly Father didn’t prevent her and Adam from making a bad choice any more than He will prevent us from making them. We are free to choose who we are going to be. The problem is that humans didn’t stop making bad choices after the first couple messed up but continued to sin and do things that were outside of who God has created us to be.

People have thought throughout history that creating more laws was the way the go, that the more laws we had, the better we would become. Instead, the exact opposite was true. The more laws we had, the more we used them to sin even more. We needed to be saved from ourselves and rescued from darkness. So, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to accomplish the work that we could not do for ourselves. Through Jesus Christ, God orchestrated redemption’s plan. He redeemed us from the dreadful curse of the law.

God is a Righteous Judge, more righteous than any of us can fathom. He is not flexible to our whims. He said in Jeremiah 17:10(NLT), “But I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” Many people have lost faith in the judicial systems in governments and countries. They are ruled in some cases by people that have tremendous power but are corrupt. Because of their corruption, they administer a kind of justice that serves their political, personal, and financial gain. God can never fail. He is perfect in every way, and therefore, He can never be accused of administering justice that isn’t perfect, righteous, and fair. Everyday the sun shines on every living person. Every day, whether we are motivated by good or evil, we breathe air and enjoy a beauty that isn’t possible for us to create or reproduce. God sends the rain to water crops, and the rain doesn’t distinguish which crops enjoy its nourishment. This shows us the goodness of God.

God’s Word tells us in 1John 4:18(NLT), “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.” God is not punishing us. We are punishing ourselves, and many are too arrogant to see this. Fear is the opposite of faith. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 6:24 that we can’t serve two masters. We can’t have fear and faith at the same time. There are some very evil people that are possessed by satan to do some very evil things, and unfortunately, there are more of them than there are of those that love God and desire to please Him through Christ. Many of those counted on by millions to make sound judgments and good decisions do not, but God will never abandon those that love Him and are called according to His purpose. Psalm 34:10(NLT) says, “Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the LORD will lack no good thing.”  God will not fail us, but we must trust in His Word!

Galatians 6:7 tells us that God is not deceived when we pretend to be something we’re not. He’s not fooled when we say we love Him but refuse to obey His Word. He tells us that the harvest will always reveal the true motive and identity of the seed. In other words, the consequence will reveal the true motive and identity of the action. That’s a big chunk of meat to swallow but swallow it we must if we want to live by God’s truth. For every action, there is a re-action. Every choice we make has a consequence. God forgives our sin, but just as a good parent desires their child to make good choices, God desires the same for us. When we don’t, we shouldn’t blame Him, but humble ourselves to seek His forgiveness and ask Him to help us right our wrongs. If everyone did this, the world would be a much different place.■

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 Cannot Fail”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2020. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!