Sheer Madness – Losing Our Common Sense Along the Way

Have you lost your mind! was the phrase we heard when I was young in response to someone’s expression of a socially unacceptable thought. That would not be a common response today to anyone who may be thinking quite differently than you. Why? Because our whole culture has turned upside-down and it does feel at times like people have lost their minds. Someone from 50 years ago stepping into our world would think it sheer madness at what is being promoted in society today. What has happened?

Are these terms familiar to you? Intersex, Androgyne, Gender expression, Gender identity, Gender non-conforming, Cross-sexual, Unisexual, Transgender, Bisexual.

Gender Confusion

Abigail Shrier, a well-known American journalist, brought to the forefront through her 2020 book called, Irreversible Damage, information about the large number of teenage girls who claim to have gender dysphoria and would like to “transition” to become boys. I can only imagine how difficult it must be for the parents of these girls. This, along with the larger sexual circle of confusion as it relates to gender today, makes me think that we have lost our minds.

It is sheer madness to think that one can change their gender. Someone can attempt to change their physical bodies to appear like the opposite sex, but that is far different from changing who God created them to be.

Her book may interest you to gain an understanding of how this unusual desire is being propagated in our culture, schools, and universities. Our culture has “canceled” those who oppose these progressive, shall I say perverted views, and if you speak out against these new phenomena, you will be ostracized for it. NOTE: You may feel it strong for me to say perverted, but if you do some research about this phenomenon you will see the awful ways in which God’s design for these individuals is thwarted. Young people are ruining their bodies, scarring themselves for life. It is not only the physical pain involved but the emotional pain they suffer from this poor choice as well.

Let’s think this through… 

We now have teenagers, and younger, being told they can decide what gender they’d like to be. If they “feel” like they have the wrong body, they now are affirmed in this and are encouraged to choose to change their sex. 

Much like the birthing of the abortion movement, 50 years ago, the same characters are present. A group of people pushing an agenda of my-body-my-right, onto a culture that has lost its moorings concerning common sense. When we see this manifestation of “choice” we see those who will not acknowledge God as our creator. Instead, they shake their fists in His face and tell him, “We will decide”.

Common Sense

Whatever happened to it? Our senses are so important to functioning well. Recently, I had Covid. I’m thankful that I did not lose my sense of taste and smell, but have friends who did and told me about it. When we are missing one of our senses we are off balance and could end up getting burned, or worse. When common sense is skewed by the influences around us, we can accept as normal something that is very aberrant and not realize it, if the crowd keeps heading that way. Many young people are being swept up in this gender confusion simply because they are taught that it is normal. 

Wisdom vs. Foolishness

 In Proverbs 1:7 we are told that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. In Romans chapter 1 we are told that when someone denies God as their creator their foolish heart becomes darkened. If a person persists in this darkened condition, indulging themselves in their foolishness, their mind will at some point become reprobate. If you stand back and think for a moment about what is happening, I believe many have reached this place already.

 The only way to recover a mind that is tracking down this slippery slope is to turn to God and allow him to renew the mind. His transformative power gives us the ability to change our minds from foolishness to wisdom. 

A Pandemic of Sinful Thinking

The Foolishness of previous generations has so multiplied that we truly are facing a pandemic of sinful thinking, especially as it pertains to sexuality. It’s not only the younger generation who have lost their way.

I could hardly believe what I was hearing on a popular YouTube channel as this “ministry” couple, about 40 years old, was talking about sex within marriage. (The “parent” ministry of this “child” ministry was someone I had respected for their teaching on marriage). After listening for some time, I realized that they were promoting hedonism under the guise of the marriage covenant. They seem to believe that as long as a Christian is married, there is no shame in the sexual games they play. Using the thought that the marriage bed is undefiled (Hebrews 13:4) and lifting it out of context, they seemed to interpret it to mean anything goes. It was disgraceful to listen to their discussion. With the influence of pornography upon our culture, minds within the “church” have also lost their senses. 

Marriage brings two together as one, body, soul, and spirit. The intimacy of sexual union brings a husband and wife face-to-face, looking into the soul of the other. The hormones God created within our bodies are used for bonding purposes in a sexual context. When the eye gate and powerful hormones are used wrongly they will become the curse that scripture warns about.

If you are a married couple engaging in sexual activity as animals would, try talking to one another and evaluate your physical intimacy in light of scripture. Shame must be named and dealt with before healing comes. Many couples have no idea what sexual habituation to pornography does to the brain. Please educate yourself and be careful not to follow the world’s practices.

So, what can we do to re-establish soundness in the area of sexuality? I believe going back to the original pattern would be wise. First, we need to recognize that God created who we are, our gender, and He desires for us to find our identity in Him. He has designed a man and woman to be fulfilled sexually within the covenant of marriage, without the influence of porn-induced minds. Common sense tells us how He designed us to come together sexually. The confusion in our culture today concerning sexuality will not end. But we must learn how to interact and help those in our culture of madness.

A related resource by Rick Thomas in helping us think through the basics of gender issues is: https://rickthomas.net/podcast/ep-323-should-you-call-a-boy-pretending-to-be-a-girl-a-girls-name/ 

Related article on biblical sexuality and the complicating factors https://rickthomas.net/biblical-sexuality-and-its-distortions-from-bad-to-good/

There are many educational resources on the power of immoral sex. Please see my resources page for more info. 

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Romans 1:21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.

Hebrews 13:4 (Amplified Bible/Classic) Let marriage be held in honor (esteemed worthy, precious, of great price, and especially dear) in all things. And thus let the marriage bed be undefiled (kept undishonored); for God will judge and punish the unchaste [all guilty of sexual vice] and adulterous.

Photo Credit: Google Images

Adopted and Fearless

Fear is a snare. The only way to overcome the fear of any person (husband, wife, father, mother, sister, brother, or child) is to trust in the Lord and fear (reverence) Him.

Fear is used by the enemy of our soul to keep us from moving forward into an abundant life in Christ. God has provided everything we need to live fully for Him in this world (II Peter 1:3-4.) The Holy Spirit living within us is greater than the spirit in this world (I John 4:4). As we learn to yield everything to God’s Spirit, we become free from the bondage of fear and the enemy’s influence upon our lives.“ For all who are allowing themselves to be led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading again to fear [of God’s judgment], but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons [the Spirit producing sonship] by which we [joyfully] cry, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8:14-15 (AMP)

As God’s adopted children, knowing our position in the Kingdom of God, gives us the confidence we need to overcome fear.  Remember who your Father is — Creator, Sustainer, and Ruler of heaven and earth! Romans, Chapter 8 declares that as obedient children in God’s family we can be free from condemnation and live as His own adopted children, available to freely serve our Father as He created us to. Fear is a major hindrance that binds us from this freedom. Fear comes to us through three main areas: 1) The world—by the fear of man, 2) Our flesh—through condemnation, and 3) Satan—lying spirits and deception.

The World-by the fear of man

The fear of man brings a snare, but whomever leans on,  trusts in,  and puts his confidence in the Lord is safe and set on high.”  Proverbs 29:25 (AMP)

Hunters lay snares to catch animals… I found this pic of a fearful rabbit as I researched snare hunting a bit. (Oh, it is heart wrenching to see the pictures… and I am not a hunter.) The Bible tells us the fear of man is a snare and the outcome of living this way is also heart wrenching! Some of my biggest failures in life have been because I feared a person rather than God! My husband, my children, an employer, any authority figure became “my god”. When God delivered me of that, those around me were set free to be accountable before God for their actions and I was set free to worship Him fully!

We are told by Jesus Himself not to fear man.  “And  fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. “    Hebrews 13:6 (KJV)” So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”  Matthew 10:28 (KJV)

Fear carries with it doubt and unbelief.  Our fear of failure, or how we are viewed by others, reveals our human nature that is governed by human pride.  Human fear, when rooted in pride, will bring defeat.  This fear of man reveals whether we are truly trusting (believing) in Christ as our source or in our own abilities.  Healthy fear equals reverence toward God our Maker. The fear of man brings us into bondage and a snare.

Our Flesh—fear through condemnation

The secret to freedom living is to align yourself with Jesus in all you do!  Not only does this produce a rewarding, fulfilling life, but it protects us from sin and condemnation.  “Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16).  Conviction of sin is a precious gift from God.  It is the Holy Spirit attempting to lead us into Truth and freedom.  Conversely, condemnation comes when we refuse to respond to conviction and continue to walk in sin.  We, in essence, are conflicted because we are willfully acting against Truth presented to us by the Spirit of God.

Internal conflict drives people to act in ways that harm themselves and others.  A person becomes disillusioned with themselves and attempts to cover this conflict in a variety of ways.  The Holy Spirit continues to convict by His love, yet if we continue to indulge in sin, we will continue to experience condemnation, guilt and discouragement.  Yet, all the while freedom awaits us! Jesus said to the woman who had been condemned of adultery, “…Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. (John 8:11).  We come out from under condemnation and receive the freedom Christ offers when we choose to turn and “sin no more.”

I John 3:20-21 (AMP) says, “Whenever our hearts in [tormenting] self-accusation make us feel guilty and condemn us. [For we are in God’s hands.] For He is above and greater than our consciences (our hearts), and He knows (perceives and understands) everything [nothing is hidden from Him].  And, beloved, if our consciences (our hearts) do not accuse us [if they do not make us feel guilty and condemn us], we have confidence (complete assurance and boldness) before God.”

So, we must discern the source of condemnation.  God already knows it, but we need to see if it is because we are going against the conviction of the Holy Spirit, or if we are facing an external spiritual attack upon us.  Knowing God’s Word helps us in assessing this. Conviction is good; it comes because of God’s love and desire for fellowship with us. When we respond rightly to the Holy Spirit we sense grace, assurance and His love, which in turns gives us boldness. 

God’s Word tells us that as His Children, our position is purchased and kept because of Christ.  Our thoughts as to who we are needs to be placed upon the Cross of Christ and what He did for us to make us worthy!  He is the One who took our sin so that we can come unto the Father.  Our soul was redeemed by His precious blood—nothing else.

In order to live victoriously over sin, Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit to guide, direct, and comfort us.  Our greatest need is to be filled with the Holy Spirit, fully surrendered to His leadership, and find true joy and usefulness in God’s Kingdom. We then become Adopted and Fearless!

Satan—fear from lying spirits and deception

If we are obeying what we know, and walking in open fellowship with God, yet sense condemnation, we can discern that it is coming from the enemy to defeat us and pull us out of the place of victory.  Satan uses this as a tool to keep us away from God–falsely!  The Father of Lies, tries to tell us that we are not worthy of God’s love and care.  He can build upon that through deception and can use other people in a variety of ways.  People who continue to live under condemnation, develop a guilty soul and the shame pulls them into bondage. The focus then becomes their shame and guilt, and fear grows. Depression usually accompanies this. Freedom and change seem impossible in their situation. Deception has done its work.

The work of Satan and lying spirits is to tempt and deceive us. He attempted this with Jesus Himself (Luke 4:1-13). Concerning fear, spiritual warfare is a battle between truth and lies. And the battle rages strongly within our minds. Satan is the Prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2).  In order to win the battle, our position as adopted and fearless children is crucial to overcoming the wiles of the enemy!  You can be safe and protected. But as a good soldier (I Timothy 2:1-5) you need to be willing, trained  in and obedient to the “Manual”, God’s Word.  Our weapons and our true enemy is outlined in Ephesians 6:10-19 and II Corinthians 10:3-5. Satan and the fallen angels desire to bind you with fear and aloneness in your battle. He wants to make you an orphan, rejected and discouraged. But God desires to adopt you, to make you His own, fearless and useful in His Kingdom.  He desires that you know the purpose for which He created you, and the destiny He planned for you.

Remember, God’s objective is to fill your life with Himself, use you in His Kingdom and for His glory which results in great joy and fulfillment.  The objective of God in filling us with the Holy Spirit is to enable us to love as He loves, to walk without fear in this world, and be a witness for Jesus Christ.  This lack of fear and abundance of love will allow you to walk as a victor, not a victim, causing you to overcome in every circumstance you face.   II Timothy 1: 7-8 (AMP) “ For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control].  So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord or about me His prisoner, but with me take your share of suffering for the gospel [continue to preach regardless of the circumstances], in accordance with the power of God [for His power is invincible].”     Amen.

Photo credit: Google Images, Pixabay

Compassion

You do not know God by being compassionate, you become compassionate by knowing God.

How do I know if I am a compassionate person? Well, comparing ourselves among ourselves is not how we determine this. Rather, we should look at what Paul teaches in Colossians about compassion and see how we’re doing.

Jesus Christ is the perfect example of compassion. Mark 6:34 says, “And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.”

Use Discernment

There is so much need in our world that giving should be a part of our everyday lives. We give by serving, teaching, helping, and by sharing God’s love found in His Word with those around us. We should not only give to those who may return something to us, but we are encouraged to give to those who may never know us as their benefactor.

By nature, we are self-centered. In order for us to be truly compassionate we need an infusion of God’s divine nature (2Peter 1:4). Do you remember the parable Jesus spoke in Matthew 18: 23-35? He used an example of a king who was owed money, yet the servant was unable to repay him, so he begged for mercy and the king had compassion upon him and forgave him the debt he owed. But that same servant then turned around and went to someone who owed much less to him, and demanded that his borrower repay him everything he owed. The question the king then posed is: Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you? It’s a picture of God’s generous mercy and compassion toward us, yet we often fail to do the same for others.

Self-Check

One way to tell if you are compassionate toward others is seen in your dedication to bringing hope to another soul. This can be done in a variety of ways, it helps to check your audit trail to see how your doing.

Do you carry a lifestyle of debt because of self-consumption? Compare your ongoing spending to how much are you giving out weekly or monthly to others? Following your treasure trail is a good way of determining your compassion level. Money is a primary root that shows what is growing from your tree.

A heart that is free of unforgiveness and bitterness is another. Has God forgiven you, yet you fail to forgive others?

Is your life consumned with your job, your house, your people and your interests? Or do you intentionally care for others with your time, talent and treasure?

God initiates

Our Father had compassion upon us when we weren’t even aware that we needed it. Think about salvation, how long did it take for you to realize that you desperately needed what God was offering you? Once the reality of your need was revealed, how did you respond?

God is the proactive, compassionate one in our world. When we express compassion to another it’s because He has first extended it to us and then puts His virtue into our hearts. Sometimes we express compassion for our own purposes, at other times God uses us for His divine plan.

Do you remember in Exodus 2:6 where it tells of Pharaoh’s daughter extending compassion toward the baby found in the river? “And when she had opened it, she saw the child: and, behold, the babe wept. And she had compassion on him, and said, this is one of the Hebrews’ children.” God placed compassion into the daughter of Pharaoh in order to save Moses’ life.

When we look at God’s compassion toward us, His creation, we see that it is His desire to multiply Himself and His character in our world through our lives. He demonstrated His compassion to us in offering salvation. John 3:16-17 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” Your response will determine your ability to increase in compassion to others.

Our Response

So, how do I know if I am a compassionate person? For the believer, we find in Colossians what Paul indicates our response to God’s compassion to us should be.

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. 10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. 11 In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.

12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy (compassion), kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. (Colossians 3:1-17).

Wow! That’s a lot right there. For the Christian, this is our script; here we have the goals for our life. It involves putting off our former, sinful ways and taking on the new way of life patterned after Christ. Look at what it says. It may feel impossible to be transformed as Paul writes here, but slowly you will if you allow the Holy Spirit to work in you.

Use Wisdom

Remember there are two kingdoms that believers are a part of simultaneously: the kingdom of this world and God’s Kingdom. They will never be reconciled prior to Jesus Christ’s coming to judge this world. So, do not become confused as to why there cannot be unity between the two: one is ruled by fallen principalities (Satan and his demons) the other by God (and His angels). We are daily caught in the tension between the two, as Jesus demonstrated and taught us.

We need to exercise wisdom concerning compassion we offer. Even within God’s kingdom, you’ll encounter those who are not in pursuit of what Paul is talking about. So, be careful as you attempt to care for someone as this could become a problem if you are not grounded firmly in scripture. Let me explain.

There are well-meaning, “compassionate” people who serve as enablers (aka codependents). By that I mean they want to do good for everybody, even to the point of being snared into a trap of the enemy (Jude 21-23). They find their fulfillment by taking on another’s responsibility and are used wrongfully. On both sides this becomes a form of idolatry. A very self-centered person, knowingly or not, will latch onto to an enabler. If you find yourself in relationship with someone like this, slow things down, and ask someone to help you discern the relationship. Your “compassion” may be serving to further feed their “flesh” that really needs to die (Col. 3:5-6).

I remember twenty years ago while living in Romania, I needed a pastor to help me with compassion as it pertained to beggars on the street. He explained scenarios in which the beggars make much more money by their “trade” than doing ligitimate work each day as the scripture teaches. Rather than humbling themselves and asking for help from God through the church, they deceive others. My “compassion” was fueling an unhealthy begging situation for this person and the upcoming generations. We can see this in our country through our social welfare system and how it has rendered many to become beggars.

As we exercise compassion, let us walk in humility and follow the Master’s pattern in scripture. Discern, learn from scripture, use wisdom to bring glory to God, He alone rightly deserves praise for any good that we have done.

Destroying Relationships

Fighting over who is elected as the next President seems to be a worthy cause for some, even to the point of damaging lasting family relationships. In jabs, barbs, texts, FB posts, the style of banter used reveals the value you place upon your relationships.

So, what are your relationships worth? Are you the type who gives your view and then huffs off, thinking “There, I let them have it! Now they know what I think.”  Perhaps you’re a mocker, one who uses sarcasm to get your feelings out on another.

Depending on the emotional health and relational well-being of our family of origin, we find ourselves somewhere on the scale. Unfortunately, many of us did not have good teaching or examples with this and have had to learn the hard way, the humble way, but hopefully we have learned! If not, we should.

So many families right now are under stress, or duress, when interacting with a member who is adamant about who everyone should vote for. Some take it to social media and with pride attempt to outwit the other. We’ve all seen it and have likely been tempted ourselves to jump in with our 2 cents, but then thought better of it.

How can you tell the difference between someone simply sharing their feelings or information on what they believe, versus these powerplays of viciousness and/or manipulation? It’s revealed by what’s in their heart. Step back and use your discernment and good relationship skills to respond. Sadly, there are many enabler-types who feed right into the hands of these hubristic people… I used to be one of them.

These interactions reveal someone’s relational heart-health and if poor, that will lead to broken relationships. Circumstances bring out what has been hidden. The old elephant in the room usually gets prodded a bit during election seasons, throw in Covid-19 with its accompanying fears, and some are ready to devour their family members.

Here’s a few reasons why some people are unable or unwilling to surrender to the higher call of love (Romans 13:10).

1. Poor Relationship Skills – This is often fear driven. It causes one to assert themselves and expect others to conform or agree with their view, often manipulating others through authority, anger, relationship, revenge, shame, etc. to agree with them.

On Facebook you see this with the “likes” and “comments” others make to this type of person. You can sense the pressure upon the peer or sub to accommodate their poor statement, thought, or even an emotional rant. But in order to comply with the dominant, they indicate agreement anyway! Very foolish–it is the worst thing one can do as it reinforces the persons poor emotional health and they are deceived into thinking they actually are doing okay by acting this way. They also think they have genuine friends, when it’s their manner that produces these conformist “friends”.

2. Elitism – This political ideology believes some are bright & right (according to their worldview) and others are not able to make a sound decision, so they feel like they should have the authority to do it for them.

(Wikipedia: Elitism is the belief or notion that individuals who form an elite—a select group of people described as having an intrinsic quality, high intellect, wealth, special skills, or experience—are more likely to be constructive to society as a whole, and therefore deserve influence or authority greater than that of others.)

As with salvation, God’s gift is freely offered and while those of us with a Biblical Worldview believe it’s the right choice for all people, we cannot, should not, force this upon someone (remember the 4th century Roman Empire?). The Holy Spirit draws a heart and they alone must choose Christ to be their King. Compelling another with a godly life and heart of love is the way of the Master, not elitism. While Truth is valuable and must be shared, we cannot force another to believe.

3. Fear of the Future. If you are a believer, a follower of Christ, you can trust that God will take care of you; your life is in His Hands. Believing that the next President holds greater sway in your life than God does is a form of unbelief and is demonstrated by fear. When you live as God desires, He replaces fear with confidence in Him. I John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with torment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” The Holy Spirit in us helps us love those who oppose us, and calls us to this higher love that Jesus taught us.

It is very important for us to voice our concern by our vote over the issues in government that we see as right or wrong. We also must acknowledge that God is sovereign and is over all that happens in our (His) world and as finite beings we may have difficulty reconciling the two. Yet, we do our part by taking responsibility in letting our views be known in a variety of peaceable ways and we pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Then, God takes our obedience to Him or lack thereof and does the rest.

Scripture indicates often throughout the Old Testament that God raises up and brings down Kingdoms; there are many examples if this. We also know that God influences the heart of the King (or President). That explains why we may see someone, unlikely in our view, doing something that upholds God’s righteous ways. It doesn’t make sense but it happens because God is doing something through it. (Proverbs 21:1 The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turns it whithersoever he will.)

Of course, there are other reasons for poor behavior in relationships leading up to and following this election, but these three give us enough to think about and hopefully each of us will examine our hearts and see where our health meter is sitting. Is your heart for others, or against others? It is to bring peace while disagreeing on a matter or to engage war?

I wrote this poem, Step Back, many years ago and it seems to fit here. When we are re-acting to someone or something that is happening, we get ourselves into trouble. But if we will act, after thoughtful moments, we find that we are much better at responding properly.

STEP BACK

When life seems quite overwhelming,
and you feel the need to take charge.
Be careful you honor the scripture.
for pains of consequence are large.

If you will take gently a step back,
consider your ways and be wise,
you’ll soon see your Father’s instruction,
in your situation proved wise.

Step back and make room for the Lord,
give time for His will to reveal.
Instead of you charging forward,
with error your future to seal.

Wait! God will in His timing,
use peace to measure the score.
And if that is not present within you,
Step back, do not engage war.

God guides by these simple treasures,
His Word, obedience, and peace.
And when, all these three are present,
the warring and tumult will cease.

So step back and do an assessment,
and see where you’re missing the mark,
adjust and then humbly go forward,
with God’s favor and peace in your heart.

Photo Credit: Google Images

Forgive and Live!

Hurt people, hurt people; we’ve heard this phrase often and it’s true. Realizing that everyone has suffered some type of wounding in life, leaving scars of pain, we can see that if left ignored your hurt will hurt others. This article is the conclusion of Painful Pasts (Part 1 and Part 2). Here we will explore how to be set free.

Have you washed your windows lately?

Some people drive around with dirty a windshield and this makes it hard to navigate the road ahead. Seeing clearly makes a big difference when we are traveling through life. We all have our blind spots and with humility and an open heart, God will give us good people who will come alongside and help us see those areas. Then, like the dirty windshield, we have a choice to make, wash it and see or wait until it rains (God’s grace allowing us to see some of it) or an accident happens (again, God’s grace with a more direct hit).  These blinding filters upon our hearts need cleaning, if we fail to respond when we discover a blinder, we end up in a very destructive and dangerous place.

Accidents Happen

Yes, they do, and prevention is worth a pound of cure. I like to take a defensive driving course every three years to sharpen my driving skills and receive a 10% discount on my auto insurance. Insurance companies have found that those who will take the time and preventive care to take the course will make an attempt to drive defensively. They remind us of current laws, give attention to potential hazards while driving, and to make adjustments for constantly changing road conditions. Navigating life is a bit like this. If we’re going to avoid unnecessary accidents, we must invest energy in prevention and recovery.

When we live with a Que sera, sera, attitude, we demonstrate human pride in a way that says, “Don’t trouble yourself, live and let live, what will be, will be.” This attitude works against what the scripture tells us about sobriety, learning, and stewarding our lives well. We are told to care for others, to teach and model responsibility, study and learn, and to be good stewards of what we have been given. 

A good illustration of this attitude is a young person whose situation entitles them to a car, perhaps the family car, or they are given one by their parents or grandparents. Compare this to the young person to one who works and saves money to purchase their own car. Which vehicle will likely be more carefully driven and cared for? Which person will “see” the importance of maintaining the vehicle? And when an accident occurs, which will say, “Get off my back, accidents happen!”. Perspective often creates attitude.

Entitlement

When we view God as someone who should take care of us and fix everything in our lives so it runs smoothly, we tend to be like the child who has been given everything, it’s expected. We become angry with God over the injustice that has occurred or if things don’t go our way. We blame Him, or others, for our lot in life. Relationship with God is two-sided, both parties must reciprocally give to it. The person who understands the sin-nature of all human beings realizes that God owes us nothing, yet offers us everything. With this outlook, we tend to approach Him with a proper fear and reverence for who He is. If our worldview is off biblically, nothing will be properly understood about life here on earth, or why things happen as they do. Missing this big piece of life’s puzzle makes one think that only good things should happen. Suffering of any sort – physical or emotional abuse in any form — becomes monumental and we demand justice. When we find our proper posture before God, we discover that we have all sinned against someone, and it’s by His grace that we have not perpetrated the same, or worse, against another.

Hurt people, hurt people. Apart from Jesus Christ, everyone born into this world has experienced the pain of being sinned against and in turn, has sinned against others. Jesus himself was greatly violated, tortured, betrayed, and hated, yet he reviled not against those who harmed Him. He knew that one day His Father, the only just One, would make all things right.

Truth and Justice

Until we desire to know Truth, we will not allow for God’s method of justice. Rather, we will demand justice our way.

God set up earthly authority as it is described in Romans Chapter 13 and Paul said we should avail ourselves of this human government. In chapter 12, he claims that vengeance belongs to God alone (Romans 12:19-21). Since God is the ONLY ONE who sees and knows everything about every situation, and the intricacies of every human heart, He is the only one qualified to exact vengeance and justice. And He will one day. He alone is just. His Truth and mercy endure forever. The best we can do as flawed human beings are to enact laws and punishment according to the best of our ability. And yes, we fail, but God knows. Innocent people have gone to jail. Parents have not been fair, they have failed in many ways. We have missed the mark. So, what do we do with these failures? How can we best promote truth and justice while living in a hurting and confused world?

Humility and Forgiveness

It becomes clear, over time, when a person’s heart has been cleansed by God and granted forgiveness from their past. Humility is a marker of that, along with the willingness to make things right. It’s true, we cannot take back what we have done, but we certainly can, in humility, go to those we have wronged and name what we have done and ask forgiveness. This is foundational to healing wounds that we have inflicted upon others.

Sometimes we are not aware of the damage we have caused another and that’s where humility helps us. It allows others to share their feelings and pain with us. Ask someone who has a broken relationship with you, “What have I done to hurt you?” Yes, it will hurt to hear it, but if you have experienced God’s grace and forgiveness, you will be able to listen with an attitude of concern. We must examine our own hearts and see where we have wronged another and make it right. If we do not, we will become the abuser we so despised.

Matthew 6:14-15  (ESV) “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses”.

Stonewalled

But what about those who are fearful, afraid of confronting someone who has hurt them, what can they do? This is understandable in many circumstances, depending on the abuse suffered, and the relationship of those involved–child to parent or subordinate to authority figure. This is where it helps to have someone who can come alongside and offer to help, perhaps mediate. 

For those who’ve been deeply hurt it would be wise to seek out a helper, rather than continue trying to get by. Building a wall to protect the pain inside only magnifies it. Some victims lock themselves into a prison of despair, thinking the other will suffer from their silence. Each must decide for themselves to become free of the past and move into a healthy new day.

How’s your heart?

Have you opened your heart to God lately? Have you thought of allowing His refreshing cleansing stream to wash you? Or are you crusted over, forever blaming and reliving all the wrongs that have been done to you? You will not find peace or contentment if you resist having your heart cleansed; even the good things of the past become wormwood to you.

Continued rumination is dangerous. Without taking action toward the right, you will be consumed to where your thinking will become distorted. You will no longer find joy in anything. The people around you will only frustrate and fail you.  You will not be able to recall the blessings of God but only the fruit of your miserable heart. If you are there, humble yourself and turn. Get the help you need to begin to wash your windshield so you can see where you’re headed. Accidents may still happen but you’ll be able to handle them differently. You will begin to see joy in everyday life again. The burden of shame and blame will be lifted from you and you will see like never before.

God will grant grace to those who come to Him in sincere humility asking for his mercy. Taking steps toward change may involve removing yourself from a destructive relationship, involving civil authorities, placing temporary protective boundaries.

We have all failed God and unless we move into a place of surrender to Him, we will never progress from our painful past to healing freedom. Dear friend, let this be your starting point today. Take the necessary steps to forgive and live!

Counselor Rick Thomas shares here on allowing people to share their feelings with you, whether in a good healthy way or not (12 minutes)…   https://youtu.be/zGw2k8Rz6sc

Photo Credit: Google Images

Related articles: Painful Pasts (Part 1) and Painful Pasts (Part 2)