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11:29 gives us everything we need to be anchored in this truth and tells us that God’s gifts and His call cannot be withdrawn.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! 

You May Be Moving Too Fast

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keeping God First

In Matthew 6:33(NLT), Jesus Christ said, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” This is a commandment of our Lord, and every believer must seek God’s Kingdom first to become all that He wants us to be. All we have to do is look around at the condition of the world, and it shows us the results of not putting God first. Many people have turned their backs on God, but He is not punishing us. 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.” Punishment is darkness, and God is all light. There is so much chaos and confusion in the world because the consequences of not caring for one another and not being good stewards of God’s blessings has caught up with us on a large scale. It demonstrates the degree to which we’ve neglected our Creator and neglected to do what we were placed on this earth to do.

Heavenly Father has been extremely patient with us, but we are approaching a time when we will have to make a choice. Either we are going to believe His Word and chose His love, or we are going to face the consequences of a very wrong choice. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 6:24 that we cannot serve two masters; we will either hate the one and love the other, or we will be devoted to the one and despise the other, but we cannot serve both. We are not built to do this. We are created in the image of our Heavenly Father, and our purpose is to walk in partnership with Him throughout our lives. Even with all the craziness in the world, we can still choose God and His love through the Lord Jesus Christ. This is what God wants for every person. He wants to be a Father to us all, and He wants to guide, protect, and walk with each of us every day.

Psalm 91:1(NLT) says, “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” This verse conveys the closeness we can have with God. To live in His shelter is to stay in the comfort of His presence and to rest there, protected from all the cares of the world. He invites us to do this, but resting there will require us to strip away the things that take us out of His peace. Isaiah 26:3(NLT) tells us, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” God requires that we take our minds and hearts out of the world, and give them to Him, because only He can bring rest to us and anyone else that desires it.

There are so many distractions in the world, and to fix our thoughts will require a great effort. Through the Apostle Paul, Heavenly Father tells us in Philippians 4:6-7(NLT), “6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 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 can see from His Word that God requires our faith in Him. Worry indicates that we have doubt, and He tells us not to do it. And not only does He tell us what not to doubt, He tells us what to do instead. We are to PRAY about everything!

As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we must develop a habit pattern of prayer. We should have an intimate dialogue with Heavenly Father. Some people think that they have to make themselves perfect before they can pray to God. He does not require this, because we don’t have the ability to make ourselves perfect. Heavenly Father perfects us in Jesus Christ as we surrender and yield to Him. He does the work. All we need to do is give ourselves over to Him in prayer.

Prayer is not a one-way street. It is a dialogue where we talk to God, He listens, and He talks to us, and we should listen. Our listening requires us to be still in His presence. It is a spiritual communication where it’s not just talk, but transformation is taking place. He’s working some things out inside us. He’s strengthening our inner man, and we can be confident that He’s performing a good work in us. Philippians 2:13(NLT) affirms, “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”

One of the ways that we keep God first is to begin each day in prayer, to give our days over to the Lord when we awaken each morning. Jesus Christ did this, and we should follow his pattern. God tells us in Jeremiah 29:11(NLT), “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” God is the One with the plan. He knows how to maximize our days and lives, and He also knows exactly what we ought to be doing in order to become the men and women He’s destined us to be. Jesus prayed in the wee hours of the morning that God would take over his day and that he would be led by God’s Spirit. This is the kind of partnership God desires, and we will do ourselves the greatest good by obliging Him.

Brother Adam and Sister Eve got it into their heads that they could operate and manage life without the Father’s help. Boy, did they get that one wrong. It was a disaster for them, and it will turn into a disaster for us if we choose the same path. We desperately need God’s help, and He is oh so willing to give it. We should accept it. He’s our Creator, and He never intended for us to journey through life without totally leaning on Him.

God must be first because that is who God is! He’s first! He said in Revelation 21:6(NLT), “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life.” God is first in every way, and we must align our thinking with the reality of His truth. Keeping God first requires us to develop a habit pattern of spending quality and quiet time with Him. We will see such a difference in our lives if we do this. It will be the highlight of our days. We must always remember that God’s number one desire is to bless us. We remain in His blessings by seeking Him first in our decisions and choices and following His lead through the example of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This is how we make sure that we’re giving God the number one spot in our lives, and most importantly, keeping Him first in our hearts. ■

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.

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

Your Strategy for Happiness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to say “NO” Without Getting Physically Hurt

One of the worse noises in life is the sound of a human body being repeatedly thrown against a hard surface. Words can’t describe how disturbing this noise is, and when you grow up hearing it frequently, it becomes an expected and terrifying alarm. Nighttime is not sweet dreams, bedtime stories, and lullabies. Instead, you’re constantly on alert, never sleeping soundly and always primed for the abuse of verbal attacks. Some sense of relief came if it were just the verbal abuse, but even then, I had to be ready to step in the middle of a physical battle at a moment’s notice. Now far removed from the threatening circumstances of that abusive reality, the remnants of the trauma are still with me. They are ongoing reminders to guard my heart and renew my mind to God’s peace. Through the Lord’s grace, I do all that I can to protect the serenity and calmness He has taught me, but honestly, it has taken me a very long time to give “no” it’s rightful place in my life.

“NO!” can save a life or help to preserve one. It’s serious business, and this is by no means a lesson on the right time to say it. That is solely left to an individual to decide for themselves and use their judgment about what is or isn’t an eminent threat of danger. What this is, however, is my account and what I believe to be the scriptural and spiritual foundation that anchors my courage and confidence to say “no” even today. Many people that have lived in abusive homes grow up believing they have no right or authority to say “no” to abuse and expect it to stick. They accept whatever comes their way, and their judgment has not been vetted through the scrutiny of self-worth. That was certainly my experience.   

Ephesians 6:12(NLT) says, “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” When I learned about this verse in my teen years, it was literally a game changer for me. In general, I’m motivated in life by the truth of spiritual knowledge. It is my greatest hunger, and I subscribe wholeheartedly to the reality that the right knowledge will position any person to exercise power.

As a teen, I didn’t understand why the person that had caused so much pain didn’t regard me as someone they were forbidden to hurt? Why was my childhood prematurely chiseled away? The answer to these questions lies in the spiritual realm, not in the natural realm. Everything that we see with our physical eyes is temporary, and everything we see was made of things we can’t see. Hebrews 11:3(NLT) tells us, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” I had battled a physical enemy for many years, and even though I grew in physical strength as I aged, my physical strength was no match for his. But spiritually, this was not the case.

As I gained spiritual knowledge, I also gained spiritual strength. Boy did this make the devil mad, because I had exposed the lie that he wanted me to believe—the lie that I was powerless and had to continue being his punching bag. My faith in Christ unleashed God’s power in my life, and he began to do some amazing things. I had always been terrified to talk back, but the Spirit of Christ within me gave me a boldness I had never known. The truth had given me understanding, and my spiritual eyes were open. I realized that I was not fighting against a flesh and blood enemy, but the evil at work within him.

We are often tempted to take full credit for miraculous demonstrations of courage, but I am not tempted at all by that notion. On the day that I said “NO!” I was as desperate for answers and rescue as I had always been. It could have gone in a completely different direction were it not for my faith in the power of Jesus Christ. I witnessed it with my own two eyes, the person that had been my oppressor for years was muzzled and bound by a chain and restraint invisible to human eyes. He could not move against me, and although I couldn’t see the force that held him, I felt it in every way.

It amazes me even till this day, but I am under no illusions about what happened. A person cannot rise above what they don’t know or haven’t been taught. I sought the Lord, spent hours in prayer, and made Him the center of my existence. I believed 2Corinthians 3:17, “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” I accepted His liberty with all that was in me, and He backed my “NO!” I believe He will do this for anyone that dares to trust wholeheartedly in His awesome love and power.■

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.

“How to say “NO” Without Getting Physically Hurt”, 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 Will Put the ‘Super’ in Your Life!

Who doesn’t love a superhero, right? My husband inherited a boatload of comics. Trying to get them cataloged, I’ve gone through so many of them, that I can’t help it, I’ve got superhero on the brain; they come in with their superpowers and super strength and save the day! When I was a child, like everyone else I suppose, I wanted to be one. The mere thought of jumping from building to building, defying gravity, and seeing through walls took our imaginations beyond the limits of casual childhood play. Superheroes helped to teach us to dream bigger than our perceived capabilities. As much as they were entertaining back then, there are some insights these pretend power-packed champions can give us as adults, even today. I believe they will shed some light on why we get stuck and feel as though life has not dealt us a fair hand.

If you think about it a little more, you might agree that imagining for a second that a person can step outside the norm and be super means that we are willing to accept certain realities. One of them is that laws govern the world we live in, and it would take someone with super abilities and higher intellect to manipulate those laws or override them if such a thing were possible. Another notion we’d have to accept is that there are some individuals that don’t have superpowers but are so despicable and abusive that those of us without super abilities often need rescue. We get ourselves in such a fix that we need this rescue on a super scale. The third thing most of us buy into when it comes to superheroes is that ‘super’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘good’. It could mean dastardly evil, in which case the buy-in that good always and ultimately wins would also need to be present. ‘Good always winning’ is primarily the thing that keeps us good-loving folks coming back for more and more of the story.

I have no doubt in my mind that the people that came up with comics, as well-meaning as they might have been, didn’t really understand much about how faith works. They did, however, understand the limitations of human beings and our need to believe in someone greater than ourselves. They also understood that we need to be rescued on a scale that exceeds our propensity to do great harm. In a way, I guess one could say that comics have successfully branded the word ‘super’ so that most of us associate it with a hero. Our mistake is that we relegate almost everything to do with the word to the ‘make believe’ category. It has prompted some folks to dismiss the reality that with God, ‘super’ exists on an unimaginable scale.   

Not trusting a reality higher than our physical sight can see will hit the pause button on life; it will cause us to be stuck for sure. That’s not what Heavenly Father had in mind. He created us with wonderful imaginations so that we will dream big and aim high; so we won’t acquiesce to the baser things. Instead, we’ll change the way we think to recognize and believe the miraculous truth that Jesus Christ spoke in Matthew 19:26, that with God all things are possible. To be WITH GOD is to accept His help, trust His wisdom and ability, and move in partnership with all that He is. And the extraordinary thing about this is that God moves through, in, with, and by us! His Spirit lives inside the sanctum of our inner beings. 2Corinthians 5:17 tells us that when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we become a new creation. 1Corinthians 3:16 affirms that our bodies become God’s temple, and His Spirit dwells within us.

Heavenly Father didn’t create us to be superheroes able to leap tall buildings in a single bound because we didn’t need to be. He created us to partner with Him in amazing ways. And one of the endless reasons that this is so amazing is that God created the law! He created laws that keep us grounded and continually growing in our relationship with Him. He spoke them into being, and although He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and everywhere present, He never violates His laws. He can do anything He wants to do, but He chooses to do everything perfectly through His unconditional and overwhelming love.

Jesus Christ demonstrated this love-power with his entire life. One of the most poignant examples is in John 6. It was around the time of Passover, and John 6:5(NLT) tells us that while sitting on a hill with his disciples, they saw a huge crowd coming towards Jesus. This was not an unusual occurrence of course, because his power, love, compassion and charisma always drew crowds. Jesus turned to Philip and asked a question, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” Understand that Jesus was not looking to Philip for a resolution, because he knew Philip had doubt in his heart. Doubt is the very thing that keeps the power of God from flowing through us. Doubt traps us in very troubling and oppressive circumstances.

In John 6:7(NLT), Philip responded to Jesus by saying, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!” There were about five thousand men, and this count did not include the women and children that were there as well. Philip saw this situation as outside the limits of what they could handle, and even having the Son of the Living God with them didn’t change Philip’s mind. The revelation of the enormous power and authority of Jesus Christ slipped by Philip even though he had witnessed the many miracles Jesus had performed, but Jesus wasn’t deterred in the slightest. A young boy, no doubt strategically positioned by Heavenly Father, was nearby and he had five loaves of bread and two fish. Five loaves of bread and two fish was incredibly disproportionate to the huge crowd of over five thousand. This should fuel our understanding of 1) God’s enormous power, 2) the compassion and love of Christ, and 3) the great need of those he served. It allows us to appreciate ‘super’ in the form of a miracle when the combination of love, power, and need converge.

So many people are feeling stuck and sad, and they may not feel as though there’s anything super in their lives. God invites us to put Him to the test. If we’ll move from fear and doubt to faith, through the Lord Jesus Christ, God will save the day. That’s what He does. He has rescued us through Jesus Christ, and there’s nothing pretend about that. We must begin to believe in the power of God’s love more than we believe in the evil around us. Only villains believe in evil more than love. In 2Corinthians 12, the Apostle Paul was vexed by one of satan’s angels, and Paul said, “he tried his best to get me down. What he in fact did was push me to my knees. Paul begged God to remove this obstacle, but God told him in 2Corinthians 12:9(NKJV), “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” God’s strength shows up and shows out as we humble ourselves before Him in faith. We may not be superheroes by comic book standards, but we serve a God who has all power, and He wants to show us that we can do infinitely more through His love than we could ever do without it. ■

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

“God Will Put the ‘Super’ in Your Life”,  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 Is Validating the REAL You!

Do you feel honored, valued, appreciated, and loved by others? Do you feel as though people know the real you—the ‘you’ that you believe yourself to be at the deepest level? We all want validation from those we care about, but the truth is that it doesn’t come that often. I will venture to say that there are more people that feel undervalued and unappreciated than those that feel valued and appreciated. This doesn’t paint a very pretty picture I know, but so many of us feel as though we’re doing all the right things, yet it doesn’t appear we’re being rewarded. Well, God has something to say about this, and if we’ll open our hearts to receive it, I believe that it will make all the difference in the world.

I’m reminded of a conversation I had with a young woman that is very disillusioned with life. She was raised with parents that love the Lord, and she doesn’t remember a time when their lives didn’t revolve around their faith. She told me she does all the things that she believes a Christian should do—reading God’s Word and praying often, but something doesn’t feel the same she said. She’s reached a point in her spiritual walk where she feels depleted—like no person or thing can fill up her empty spaces. She has feelings of hopelessness and is emotionally exhausted.

Back in the day, and in many churches today as well, the diagnosis would be one of judgment and perhaps not one of compassion and spiritual maturity. We can’t get it twisted, we live in complicated times and the enemy is busier than ever. There are a multitude of darts aimed at our direction, and they are aimed at various and important areas of our existences. Sometimes we are attacked on all fronts. Someone or something at the job is weighing heavy on our minds; boyfriend or girlfriend ain’t acting right, and maybe a family member or friend is not providing the support and care you expect. When you add financial instability, environmental craziness, and the state of the world today in this mix, becoming weighted down emotionally is a very real possibility.

Jesus Christ has told us to cast our every care upon him, and most Christians know this passage in the bible. It’s Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT): 28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Many of us do this. We give our burdens to Jesus Christ because we know the awesomeness of his power, and initially we trust him, but many of us take our burdens back. There are a couple of reasons why we do a take-back and why our commitment to surrender, release, and let it go doesn’t stick. I’d like to put a few out there for your consideration.

Lack of Prep for the Next Phase
Like the young lady I mentioned, many of us have been on this journey a while, and we know that God requires a commitment to His Word. In our minds we might be doing all the right things, but this doesn’t always mean that we’re growing spiritually. A routine can turn into inflexibility in a hot minute. It can lock us into habit patterns that work for a season, but what about God’s plans to take us higher now and in the future? Heavenly Father created life to be dynamic when it comes to spiritual growth. In this arena, stagnation is a minus and not a plus. When our spirit has received the message it’s time to go higher, but our soul is not in a listening mood, the disharmony gets translated to our hearts and minds as feeling bad. Surrendering to the reality that God wants us to cling more tightly to Him and that it’s time to move up, this will prepare us for the next phase of our spiritual journey. Praying for guidance through His preparation process will aid us tremendously.

A Misleading Need for Emotional Validation
Heighten emotions of praise and thankfulness are such a big part of the way we worship and experience God. But some us have developed a kind of dependency on emotions, and we start to trust our emotions more than we trust what God says. We have to switch that around. Our emotions should follow what God says. In other words, when we turn our dials all the way up to believing and trusting God, we might not feel like skipping through fields of daisies, but we have to trust Him anyway. The skipping will follow.

Looking to the Wrong Source
Validation is part of the soul’s appetite. All of us will seek it because it’s part of being human, but the source of our validation is monumentally important. Many of us sense this big hole inside, and it just feels awful sometimes. So, what do we do? We try to fill it. We seek to feed our souls validation from those we love, admire, and support. The trouble with this is that their food is not eternal, and it can’t affirm the truth of who we are and who we’re meant to be. So, if we’re looking to feast on any other source than Heavenly Father, we will be in a constant state of soul-starvation. This is where many of us are right now.

The soul can only be as fulfilled and whole as its most hearty and healthiest meal. When we understand this, the words of Jesus Christ in Matthew 4:4(NKJV) magnify exponentially. After fasting forty days and nights, he was tempted by the devil to turn stones into bread. He responded to the devil’s temptation with “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. ” The eternal wisdom, counsel, and promises of God’s Word is the food our souls were meant to eat. The psalmist lays out God’s spiritual menu in Psalm 34:8(NLT). He tells us, “Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!”

God knows us intimately. He knows the REAL you better that you can ever know yourself. When we’re depleted in our inner beings because our souls are starving spiritually, God can give us what we need. He has the very best medicine, and He knows exactly where to administer it. We are spiritual beings, created to thrive from spiritual nourishment. When we’re feeling depleted, devalued, and low, we need not cling to what worked in the past. God’s resources are infinite, and He loves to help us tap into His treasures. Let’s be good to ourselves and surrender totally to Him. Let’s be willing to release the things that hold us back so we can make room for the things that propel us forward. Then, we will be prepared for the next level of spiritual growth. As we feast on His Word, we’ll learn to trust the Lord in a greater way, and He will validate our souls and keep us continually satisfied.■

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

“God Is Validating the REAL You!” 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!

Better and Not Bitter

I got out of a relationship with someone that I thought was a really good guy. He loved the Lord, preached on Sunday at times and was a really good father to his children. We loved each other but after about a year together, the relationship took a turn. His love became painful. If he called and couldn’t reach me, his insecurity would rear its ugly head. It wasn’t apparent at first, but as the relationship progressed, I saw that he handled his own pain through manipulation and playing mind games. I was just not willing to remain in a place where hurt and pain became the constant, and love took a backseat.

I left this man, and it was indeed a difficult break-up. I was truly committed to him and the relationship. It took months before I could even think about him without shedding a tear, but I endured the pain, because I’ve lived long enough to know that trouble doesn’t last always. When we face heartache and trouble, God tells us exactly how to handle it. In Romans 12:12(NLT), His Word says, “Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.” Instead of letting myself become bitter, I followed the Lord’s commandment.

As I busied myself, going on with my life, I happened to see this man in passing one day, and before I knew it, I had given him a smile. It was not forced or fake but came from a place that the love of God had created in me. He emailed me and said he was so happy to see me, but he said he was even more happy to see the smile I had given him. He thought I hated him.

James 1:2-4(NLT) tells us, “2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” God wants us to get to a place where we are not dependent on a person to do for us what only God can do. Heavenly Father is the Source of our joy, not a person.

If a relationship is harming us, it’s harming our relationship with God. He will give us the strength to let it go. One thing I know to be true, time causes us to forget some wounds, but only the love of God can truly heal them. Just as 1John 4:11 tells us, because of God’s love for us, we should be able to love one another. Even if we want to hold a grudge or be angry for a lifetime, our growth in the Spirit of Christ will not allow us to do this. We can let go and be better and not bitter, and we’ll be so much stronger for it.

Pray and ask God to give you a new heart, and let His love blanket all your pain, as only He can.

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.

“Better and Not Bitter” written by KYada, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2020. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!