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!

Practicing the Peace of God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Those Who Refresh Others Will be Refreshed

Proverbs 11:25(NLT)
“The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”

Years ago, I suffered from some very low points. These were some of the darkest moments of my life.  I felt weighted down by all my wrong decisions and bad choices. Self-condemnation was my middle name and many of my nights were sleepless. I always wished that the progression of time would speed up so I could bypass nighttime hours. I dreaded the thought of going to bed because I’d just lay there, with regretful thoughts of my past, and they made me feel so bad.

Reflecting on those times now, I’m very thankful for my family. I tried to focus on them as much as possible, because it made me feel better about things. With concern, I’ve wondered about people that feel worse than I did at that time in my life. I pray they also have family or friends to bring comfort that will help them feel better. But I also pray that they will heed the invitation of Jesus Christ. He invites them to bring their burdens to him. He offers to give us rest for our souls in a way that only he can.

Jesus Christ said in John 15:8(NLT), “When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” To produce fruit is to share the Good News of the Gospel with someone that doesn’t yet know the person of Jesus Christ. When we tell people about Jesus Christ and the salvation that he offers because of what he accomplished for us on the cross, we secure the opening that allows the love of God to be introduced into the person’s life. We can’t cause a person to be saved; that’s not our call. God tells us in Ephesians 1:4 that He chose us to be in Christ even before the foundation of the World. He chose us first, not the other way around. So, when we share the Good News about Jesus Christ, we are planting a seed. God is the One that does the watering. He causes the sun to shine upon those who need His light. As His children, He commands us to be ambassadors of Christ. He expects that we will open our mouths when He tells us too, and that we will speak a life changing Word into the lives of those that He has chosen.

During the times that I lacked confidence; I didn’t believe I had anything to give towards the ministry of Jesus Christ. I felt too bad about myself and about everything around me, but God showed me through His Word that I don’t belong to myself, I belong to Him; we all do. We were created for His purpose, not our own. He knows the path we should be on so that we can have a wonderful relationship with Him through Christ, and so that we can have a life that isn’t filled with darkness but filled with the light of Christ. We need to allow God to lead and guide us, and we need to be willing to patiently and humbly follow Him.

God doesn’t see us the way we see ourselves. Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we are God’s masterpiece. He made us new creations in Christ Jesus, and He did this so that you and I could do all the good things that He planned for us. I prayed fervently that God would hear my cries and let His love come into my darkest places. It didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen. I placed my hand in His hand and surrendered myself to be led by Him. He did not disappoint, for it is impossible for God to fail.

I asked the Father to show me opportunities that would help me feel better about my life and the gift I knew He had given me. Little did I know that He would answer this prayer by leading me to be a blessing to someone. The company where I work had just hired someone new. She is a bright young woman and is full of energy, but of course she was nervous about beginning a new position. Well, her new boss was very demanding, and had given her a task that she considered to be completely outside her level of skill. On that day, I was in our break room heating a cup of tea, and we struck up a conversation. She began to share how happy she was to have landed a good job but wasn’t sure how to handle the new pressures of her position. I offered her a few tips, and said, “Don’t worry about what you can’t control. Do your very best, pray that it’s good enough, and allow God to do the rest.”

I didn’t know this woman’s background or whether she knew the Lord, but I truly felt in my soul that I had been in the right place at the right time, and that I had made a difference for her that day. I didn’t have to leap a tall building, or even stand before lots of people and teach the bible, I just had to use what God has given me very plainly and in my day to day life.

After bumping into each other a few days later, she said to me, “You don’t know how much your kindness has meant to me.” She had been refreshed because I encouraged her in the Lord, and I had been refreshed in an amazing way myself. I thought, “What if I had chosen to let self-doubt rule the day; I might not have spoken a word to this young woman, but I’m so glad that God allowed me to be a blessing to her.” Things that we consider to be so small and insignificant can make all the difference in someone’s life. We have to remember who we are, whose we are, and what we mean to God. He has called us to be lights in this dark world, and He had given us everything we need to do it. All we need to do is listen to His voice, and open our mouths to speak about the goodness of God and the salvation our Lord Jesus Christ offers.■

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.

“Those Who Refresh Others Will be Refreshed”, written by KRenee, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2021. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Can You Turn Your Life Around?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Making A Faith Move When It’s Dangerous

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Should I Stay When He Cheats?

Would you stay in a relationship if you found out your spouse or significant other had cheated? Don’t answer too quickly. If you’ve never gone through it then your answer could possibly surprise you. 

Out of the blue, a close friend asked me that if by chance I found out my spouse was cheating, would I continue to stay in the relationship. I didn’t hesitate to answer with a resounding “NO!” He quickly said to me, “You say ‘no’ because you’re not in the situation right now, but when you’re married with children, the answer doesn’t come that easy.” After giving this some thought, I realized that my immediacy in answering this question speaks to my inability to consider that there are always two sides. Spiritual maturity begs us to seek God before we rush to judgment. It also demands that we have a humble and forgiving heart. So regardless of our pain and anger, we must seek God for the best course of action.

Many women are hurting today, at this very moment, and the reason they’re in so much pain is because their hearts have been broken by someone they love. A few years ago, my pastor taught about deliverance from a broken heart.  What resonated so deeply was understanding that when our hearts are broken, the ultimate take-away is always going to be the lesson our hurt teaches us about ourselves and about our relationship with God.   

This truth stuck with me because there have been times when hurt has come my way, and if I’m honest, I was baffled as to why Heavenly Father didn’t prevent it. I was utterly devastated, and I didn’t understand why God had allowed me to experience such despair, especially by the person who claimed to care about me. It wasn’t that I had mastered the art of relationships and thought I was untouchable, but I thought at least I knew enough to dodge a bullet when it came to getting my heart broken again. I was wrong. 

Sometimes, the significant people we love are not meant to journey with us any further. They are not the person we should marry and spend the rest of our lives with. We try to cling to them, but their destiny is on another path. We should allow ourselves a little time to grieve, and then get ready to proceed onward and upward in Christ. The only way to really do this is to learn the lesson about the love of Christ that this person has revealed to us. A big part of this lesson is to look before we leap—to seek God before making huge emotional investments.

And if we don’t do this, and it becomes apparent we’ve make a wrong choice, we should repent, release the thing that isn’t working for us, and reprioritize our relationship with God, so that He is in the number one spot. Jesus Christ teaches us in Matthew 6:33 that we must put God first in all things and love Him with all that we are. Our Lord and Master affirms that blessings will chase us down when loving God is our prime motivation in life.

When a spouse has betrayed the marriage vow, it is a very different situation than when someone that isn’t a spouse cheats and goes outside the relationship. Because marriage is God’s institution, if the spouse that has cheated desires forgiveness, and the Lord says so, anyone can be healed, and any relationship can be restored. But boy do we have to walk in wisdom and hear from God with this one. You don’t want to set yourself up to be repeatedly lied to and cheated on, but by the same token, you can’t play the victim and shift all the blame on the cheating spouse. We must at all times remember that God holds us accountable for our actions, and sometimes we’ve done things that caused our spouses to feel hurt and isolated as well.

Relationships are challenging and there are complicated issues to deal with. Even before we go into marriage, God expects that we will have saturated our hearts and minds with His Word, so that we have the endurance and spiritual strength to weather storms. Many of us have not put on His whole armor, and we take that walk down the aisle without it. Then, when something happens and knocks the wind out of us, we are faced with a situation that requires more spiritual maturity and strength than what we’ve acquired.

Ephesians 5:25(NLT) says, “For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her.” This is not some abstract concept. It’s God’s standard for the way a man should love and treat his wife. Jesus Christ said in Luke 12:48 that to whom much is given much is required. So, if a man loves his wife the way Christ loves the church, she has a responsibility to make sure she reciprocates it; her actions must be deserving of this kind of love. Considering this, the very best course of action when cheating rears its ugly head is to come to an agreement together to seek the Lord. Both spouses must have humility and be willing to rededicate themselves towards making Jesus Christ the center of their marriage. Then, every step they take together can be guided by his Spirit. ■

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.

“Should I Stay When He Cheats?”, written by Kyrene, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2021. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Taking Matters into Your Own Hands Isn’t A Good Idea

Learning to love through the Lord Jesus Christ is a spiritual lesson in wisdom, power, humility, and forgiveness. It’s all wrapped together in the most beautiful package, and we’re entrusted with it. Wisdom is the first place to start. Proverbs 4:7(KJV) tells us, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” When something is a principal thing, it’s first in line in the order of importance. This gives us a clue about how we should value and view wisdom. God tells us to be sure we don’t skimp on it. As a matter of truth, He tells us it’s a necessary tool in our toolboxes, and if we don’t use it, we’ll be in big trouble. Some of us have learned this the hard way, especially when it comes to relationships.  

The Book of Genesis in the Old Testament takes us to school on creation and the very beginning. Our Heavenly Father is meticulously masterful, and thoughtful beyond anything we can fathom. Before He created Adam, the first man, He took six days to make a place for Adam’s habitation. Woven within this paradise called earth were the duties and work that would keep Adam occupied and instill within him the administrative and management skills necessary to reign. When God created the first human, He placed him in this paradise where all he would ever need was already provided. God wanted to make sure that you and I were tuned-in to the pattern He established when He created human beings. 2Corinthians 3:5 declares that “Our sufficiency is of God.” He’s our Source, and from the very beginning He established the reality that humans must rely upon His provision. This is a pattern that will never cease.

Heavenly Father took a rib from Adam and made Eve, Adam’s wife. This was the first couple, and this established another pattern and precedent for humanity. Genesis 2:18(NLT) makes it quite clear. It tells us, “And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone;” In today’s world, we’ve gotten so turned around that we label what God says is good as being bad, and what He says is bad, we label it good. What God says goes. He created us and He knows the best way for us to operate according to His love.

The Lord established the relationship between a man and a woman from the very beginning of their creation. This demonstrates for us that this significant relationship is fulfilling and meaningful to our existences, but most importantly, it is purposeful to God’s plan and agenda for creation, and for our individual lives. Our Heavenly Father doesn’t deal in ambiguity. He’s extremely precise, and everything He does has a purpose and reason. It is therefore perfectly aligned that we should seek Him for His wisdom, because it will allow us to walk the path He has purposed with confidence and specificity.

Isaiah 14:27(NLT) says, “The LORD of Heaven’s Armies has spoken— who can change his plans? When his hand is raised, who can stop him?” Anything outside of God’s purpose will not prevail. It won’t be good for us, and it will not yield success. This isn’t negative or punitive. It’s wisdom! If we begin our pursuit of a significant relationship with the wisdom of God’s purpose firmly in our grasp, we can be continually guided and directed by God’s Spirit to the right person for us. It’s a big mistake to assume we don’t require His divine leadership in this very important part of our lives.

Romans 8:32(NLT) tells us, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” Jesus Christ is God’s only begotten Son. He is God’s most precious treasure, and God gave him to the world to save us. God did this, so it is without question that He will not withhold any other good thing from us. He is more concern with protecting and preserving our lives than we are. He knows that the wrong person can cause you dreadful harm and the right person can cause you tremendous good.

Jeremiah 29:11 declares that God has a plan for our individual lives, and it is a good one. Understand that God will allow us to take matters into our own hands and make choices without His input, but this is never a good idea. It’s such a costly mistake, and it can be avoided. Life is not a random chain of unfortunate coincidences. It is the journey that God has ordained for His purpose and for our spiritual benefit. Pray before you leap into relationships. Walk in the Spirit so that you are in tune with God’s wisdom. Get His approval before you make emotional investments in folks that are not aligned with where He wants to take you. God has left no detail to chance, and we need to invite His leadership and guidance into our decision making, especially when it comes to the relationships we want to last. ■

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.

“Taking Matters into Your Own Hands Isn’t A Good Idea”, 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!

He Wants to Fit You in His Back Pocket

Shana said that she sometimes feels there’s a sign on her back that says, “I’m an easy target.” She no longer trusts her ability to chose someone that is right for her life because all her relationships in the past have been abusive. Emotionally exhausted and still in shock over her last boyfriend’s attack, she desperately wants to understand why this keeps happening to her. She’s a very attractive, savvy, and deeply compassionate person. She would never hurt a fly. Her friends and family adore her, and they are always on red alert whenever she dates someone new. Her mother is very concerned and even suggested, “Marriage isn’t for everyone. Maybe you should try being alone for a while.”   

The truth is that Shana loves being in love. Getting married and having a family of her own is her dream, and deep down, she believes it will come true. The thing that has troubled Shana greatly is the men she meets are completely different in the beginning than who they appear to be at the end. The difference is night and day. It’s as if they meet her and after a while, turn into someone she doesn’t recognize. If this had happened only once, she may not have questioned it, but it’s happened with all her adult relationships.

2Timothy 1:7(NLT) tells us, For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.Taking it one step closer, Romans 11:29 gives us everything we need to be anchored in this truth and tells us that God’s gifts and His call cannot be withdrawn. Heavenly Father has given us the spirit of power, love, and self-discipline. He calls on us to stand upon His gifts, because they are good gifts. They are given to us to aid our lives, increase our faith, and most importantly, to help build our relationship with Him through the Lord Jesus Christ. The spiritual goodies that God did not give us are those that should be rejected. If it doesn’t come from Him, it comes from darkness, and therefore, we should mark it “Return to Sender.”

There is nothing random about our lives. Everything about us is created with a purpose specific to God’s Divine Will and Plan. He doesn’t make mistakes. Everything He does is perfect, and there is a reason for everything He does. Romans 8:28(NKJV) tells us, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” To our great disservice, most people underestimate their purpose in God’s plan. They think it’s an arbitrary thing and it doesn’t matter whether they pursue it or not. Because of this cavalier attitude, they also underestimate the unrelenting and evil attacks against them. They are blinded to them—never see them coming.

God’s call is everything. It is life itself! Fulfilling the thing for which we were born literally transforms every detail of our existences. We need to wake up to the reality that when we walk in our purpose, God will cause every detail of our lives to come together, cooperate, and work out for our good. Just the opposite will happen when His purpose is far from our view. And make no mistake, when God’s purpose is far from our view, the devil will try his best to keep it that way. Destiny snatching is the name of the devil’s game, and when we find ourselves stuck in the way that Shana is, the evil minions of darkness are whispering poison in the ears of those who can be used to harm us most.

Blocking your shine, trying to snuff out your light, attempting to squash the magnificence of your call is the abuser’s aim. On every hand he wants to minimize all that you are, so that he can fit you in his back pocket, where you are hidden, silenced, and can only move as he permits. 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.” The light of Christ is the truth, and when we can’t see the truth, we live beneath our privilege.

To keep us blind, to minimize our Christ authority and power, and to silence us so that we will not capture the blessings and power linked to our destiny is the objective the devil achieves through an abuser. When we’re blinded from the truth, we don’t recognize abusers. Our spiritual senses are dull, and we can’t smell the demonic activity of darkness when it’s in our midst. The solution is not to resort to fear, because God didn’t give us a spirit of fear; it doesn’t come from Him. The solution is to turn to Jesus Christ!

Don’t let anyone hide your light. Don’t let them put you in their back pocket and cancel your destiny. We must be as diligent to protect the treasure we carry in the inner sanctum of our beings as the enemy is to destroy it. 2Thessalonians 3:3(NLT) tells us, “But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.” God is faithful, but we have an obligation to trust Him. Our faith is not just lip service. We must be committed to walk with the Lord every moment of each day. When this is our heart, and we’re growing in His Word, we will grow in spiritual maturity and authority in Christ, and nothing in the earth is more powerful than that. ■

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

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

“He Wants to Fit You in His Back Pocket”, 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!

A Slight Change in Our Everyday ‘Get Down’

I had the opportunity to watch a photo shoot recently, and I was struck by how many photos were taken and how frequently they were shot. There seemed to be hardly any movement at all by those being photographed, but the photographer repeatedly took what appeared to me to be the exact same photo. Sometimes he’d tell them to move ever so slightly to the left or right, or to tilt their heads a little, up or down. The thing that surprised me most when I got to see the actual shots was that even though the folks in the frame hardly moved, none of the photographs of them looked the same. All my years on this Christian journey proved that what I witnessed on this photo shoot is a metaphor for life. Sometimes it’s just a slight movement in our perception, thoughts, and behaviors that will make a profound difference in our lives.

Truth will forever be the foundation of life. It is required for a life to be lived well. Our lives may not start out on solid footing, but as we expand our understanding of the truth, our lives will increase in meaningfulness and fulfillment. This is exactly what Jesus Christ was pointing to when he said in John 10:10(NKJV), “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”  Jesus Christ is the truth, and the truth is life! Christ is the living Word of God. He tells us in John 14:6 that He is the way, the truth, and the life. So, we can know resolutely that in order for our lives to truly expand with God’s goodness and grace, it must be done through a knowledge of Christ.

Jesus Christ doesn’t keep the fullness of his life a secret. He shared it with us all freely, because that is what truth does. There’s nothing clandestine, sinister, or manipulative about the truth. It’s out there in the open for all to see. It’s transparent! So, our powerful Lord and Savior shared his whole ‘get down’ with us, his baby brothers and sisters. By his flawless example of love, he is helping us to grow up so we can be the men and women God created us to be. Romans 8:29(NLT) tells us, 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.”

When it comes to the quality of our lives, many of us either ignore, neglect, or refuse to acknowledge that we’re not the ones holding the camera. We don’t own it and we can’t position it to photograph only the prettiest picture. The lens belongs to Christ and he sees it all; the good, the bad, and the ugly. He doesn’t punish us because we didn’t make the right moves. He corrects us, and that is exactly what we would expect an expert to do!

God has already given us everything we need to get the positioning just right. We’re exactly where we need to be to walk in the destiny He’s set for our lives. Ephesians 2:10(NLT) affirms, 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 planned for us to get some things done in the earth while we’re here. The DNA for the things He planned come standard with our packaging. We’re pre-programmed for them and this doesn’t require us to do a whole lot of finagling and messing around with things. Often, it’s just a slight movement in our everyday ‘get down’ that will open our eyes to new opportunities.

The smallest thing can lead to a profound change in our lives, but it will require humility towards God to receive the revelation that will help us make it. Another way of seeing things, a different attitude towards a person or circumstance, and most importantly, a greater understanding of God’s love, can open the door to being in the right place at the right time for purpose and destiny. We can’t assume that our lens is the only perspective. Only one outcome can be achieved from our own vantage points. We need a heavenly view, one from which a beautiful portrait can be revealed. We need to see the masterpiece that God sees when He looks at us. This should be our constant prayer. Let’s pray that Heavenly Father floods our understanding with revelation regarding our precious Lord and Savior. Let’s be humble enough to hear what Heavenly Father has to say to us. Then we can make those slight changes, and they will point us in the direction of God’s bountiful blessings. ■

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 Slight Change in our Everyday ‘Get Down’”, 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!

Love Is Much More Than You Think

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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