Recipe for Relief

While living in Romania, I would find joy in the morning by sitting on the porch reading God’s Word and watching Gabriel herd his sheep, and goats, down the lane. I would think about Jesus, our gentle Shepherd, and it would bring me peace. We can find ourselves at times in emotional and spiritual struggle and I hope this article brings relief to your mind during these times.

The Recipe

Read God’s Word often and ask the Holy Spirit to help you trust the Father and understand what He has written. Put on the armor of God and pray as the scriptures instructs us. Resist temptation and keep your heart clean.

Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. (Luke 24:45)

Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints… (Ephesians 6:18)

Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41)

Walk humbly before God and thank Him for opening your eyes to see Him. Our real enemy is Satan, the deceiver, those who oppose God are still blind. Pray that their eyes may be opened to Truth from God.

But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. (2Corinthians 4:3-4)

Trust your Heavenly Father, He is at work in ways much higher than we know. He is in control and has authority over this world and He will bring justice in His time. Acknowledge His will above your own and pray as Jesus taught us in Matthew 6:9-15.

Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” (Matthew 26:52-54).

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)

Fast (Isaiah 58) and pray, financially support, and speak on behalf of those who are truly oppressed. Extend yourself to those in legitimate need: children of poverty, refugees fleeing war, orphans, children in foster-care, widows without means of support (no family), preborn babies and their parents who are considering aborting them, and the families of those unjustly imprisoned for their faith.

Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. Isaiah 1:17.

Understand that God is allowing each heart to be revealed. God, our creator and sustainer, is warning us all (our entire world) to reflect and consider if we will submit to Him or not (individuals and governments). He is a loving Father and gave everything to extend mercy to us, but at some point, because He is also a just Creator, His righteous judgement will come. But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. (Romans 2:5)

Remember: For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (I Peter 3:12)

 Photo Credit: flickr.com/Turatti

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)

Painful Pasts

autumn-2857032__480If you have lived through a very painful past then you are able to understand how exhausting and emotionally dark it can be to recount these experiences… you feel the pain and turmoil all over again — as though you have purposely gone back for more. Who would want to do that to themselves? That is why many never come to healing because they fear the process – but you do not have to.

I recently had a taste of this experience upon my visit home to Wisconsin. After several days into my visit, I scheduled a day to go and visit several friends from the past. I had not previously taken the opportunity to tell some of the details of my recent journey and felt free to share more of my story during this visit. All went well with these friends and I enjoyed my time, but that night in my sleep a floodgate of pain poured into my soul. Upon waking, I felt like I had lost the victorious ground I’d gained – like I had traveled back to a very broken place in my climb; what happened? This experience caused me to think about why this occurred.

When we re-enter the large room of our painful past and relive it, that doesn’t mean wewoman-837156__340[1] are still there. It may feel that way momentarily, but what we do with these feelings will determine how we think. We can choose to restructure our minds and return to the place of peace God has given or continue ruminating upon the feelings that have resurfaced.

Many face fear when thinking of their past, and so leaving it alone is the solution they choose; yet God has a better way. In my view, if you are not holding tightly to God’s healing hand and being guided by the power His Word offers, it is a fearful and dangerous proposition to regurgitate the past. Hope and healing that proceed from your Creator’s heart is the safest arena from which to process the painful experiences you’ve lived through.

Truthfully acknowledging that we have suffered is honest and right to do. Bringing into the light all that is darkness (or sin) is needful (I John 1:7). Forgiving our offender is necessary (Matt 6:14-15) and is a process that we want to pursue; a good counselor/mentor can help with that. Allow God to set things straight (Romans 12:19). Healing from the wounds is God’s will and if you desire that, it can happen — that’s is God’s specialty.

I’m thankful our hearts and minds can be powerfully renewed and rebuilt through the Holy Spirit’s work in us. Sharing our testimony about what God has done for us is good. When Jesus Christ suffered and died for sin, He offered the possibility for us to gain freedom from our past. This includes sin we have committed as well as those committed against us. Jesus suffered the awful price and penalty for our sin on the cross 2000+ years ago, we are now left to respond to this great gift He offers. How we appropriate His sacrifice for sin will determine our freedom and healing, or not.

If you are struggling concerning the pain of your past, through poor decisions made and/or violations committed against you, I hope this helps you in your climb to freedom. God’s plan is to recover and deliver you from destruction. Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy us, but Jesus said He came to give us abundant life! (John 10:10).

There is hope for you! No matter what your journey has been, remember God can redeem it and give you great purpose in your future because of it.

This is part 1 of a 2 part message. We will look at the steps to recovery and deliverance from the pain in the next message.

1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

Matthew 6:14-15 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.

Romans 12:19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Continue to Part 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hope – We Need It

Picture yourself in the lowest part of the earth, perhaps at the bottom of a mining shaft, fearful, stuck… but wait, for a few minutes each day the sun hits directly above, just pitright, and some light from the surface above travels down the hole. Your heart leaps temporarily, “perhaps today I will be rescued from here”. But soon the darkness and hopelessness of your lost condition sweeps in again, you are stuck, alone, in the pit, afraid you’ll never get out; at the same time afraid you’ll be discovered.

This is a glimpse into the soul of one who is stuck in the grip of sin, especially sexual sin – a feeling of no way out, and fear of discovery. Aloneness, darkness, hopelessness prevails; a battle in the mind (heart) so intense that often another fantasy comes creeping up alongside… introducing death as a good option.

Consider for a moment the important words of Jesus to us in John 10:10. The scripture says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Jesus made this simple, clear statement. So why do many fantasize with the invitation to die, or give up — that comes from the Enemy, rather than Jesus’ invitation to live?

No FEAR

Some years ago this slogan, NO FEAR, was popularized. No Fear T-shirts were very popular and sometime later the motto was big within the extreme sports world. The idea was to go to the edge, break the limits, and go beyond what you have known or feared. The problem is that without God, people do some pretty drastic things to try and fill the void within; they try unusual things to create a euphoric state of consciousness.

This No Fear mentality has killed many souls, destroyed many relationships, and people who have lived this out have often headed in the wrong direction. Our culture, knowingly or not, takes scriptural ideas and twists them to make it look as though someone who lives on the edge is enlightened in some way. I have personally known young lives snuffed out because they went for the delusion of trying to find fulfillment in self and new cultural ideas apart from God, our Creator.

Jesus made several other simple and clear statements. In Matthew 10:28, He said, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”  Now that’s a slogan that isn’t repeated too often. Yet, it is Truth and offers the answer on how to live a successful life now, and for all eternity; how to escape the snare of the Enemy, how to avoid ending up in hell for eternity.

Yes, FEAR!

Our Father greatly loves each person He created. And because of that, He offers to rescue us! He gave us a solution to our problems. He gave Jesus, the pure and perfect One, to die in our place, to place our sin upon Him so that we could be free and live an abundant life in Him, without fear.

way-918900__480Appropriate FEAR

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have good understanding. Psalm 111:10

Fearing God is what sets our feet upon the path of wisdom and understanding. There are no problems in life that can be solved permanently apart from God’s wisdom and understanding applied. When we trade away His desires and replace them with our own, we end up in one kind of pit or another. Perhaps your pit is not as deep and dark as the one I described earlier, but we all have places that are dark at various times in life. God has an answer for these times if we will turn to Him for help.

We Need Him

horse-3198112__480I’ve heard various illustrations over the years of hopelessness and rescue. One of them goes like this: A horse fell into a large dry well, there was no way out, it was hopeless. But then a deliverer came along and carefully began shoveling dirt into the hole until it elevated the horse to a higher and higher level to where, viola! — the horse stepped out on the surface!

Have you been down deep in a pit with no one to help you? Days, weeks, months, and even years have gone by, and it seems you’re destined to stay there forever? No fear! Ask God to send some help your way; become desperate, ask Him to help you, He will. He offers hope to anyone who sees themselves as needing help– choose life, not death. Humble yourself, confess your sin (including all heart idols) to God and see what He does. He is the only deliverer that can give you lasting hope and a changed heart. The scriptures say He will put a new heart within you, and remove your stony heart – He will give you a heart of flesh that can function, feel, and love again! Why not Fear Him and become free?

My prayer for you is Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

There’s HOPE.

God’s Word is the only hope for a mind that has been wired to sin. If you decide to surrender and open your heart to Him, be sure to fill your mind with God’s Word so that you will be successful in your journey. Get involved in a church family where you can grow and give your time and energy in ways that will bless others, instead of hurting them. Pray and ask God to remake your mind (heart) and then do the work of putting God’s Word into your mind daily — soon you will think differently, resulting in new actions that please and glorify God. There is hope!

Our culture is increasingly realizing that with the proliferation of internet availability and it’s usage in the mid-nineties, the lure of sexual sin increased exponentially; sadly, we live among a generation of sexually addicted souls. Some folks seem unaware of the dilemma we face or would rather avoid it. And the church is not exempt; among men, statistics indicate 65% are struggling with sexual sin, for women over 25%. For specific details, please go to the Covenant Eyes website  to become further educated.

While there seems to be a growing number of men’s groups within the church to address the sexual idolatry problem and provide help, women in the church are usually left outside the info circle, confused, or avoiding the problem altogether. Husbands must bear the responsibility of talking honestly with their wives about this issue, and women must be willing to acknowledge this condition and learn how to respond without fear.

Related articles are: Gateway Drugs, Self Pleasure, Freedom from Habitual Sin, High Heels on the Rocks, Exposed.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Action Steps in Response to Sin

What can I do? This question has faced many. It is very difficult for someone to discover habitual sin that has been hidden. Besides the knife in the heart feeling, and a mind racing with possibilities, it’s important to gain what is promised to us in 2 Timothy 1:7, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but rather of power, love and a sound mind.”  First of all, realize that fear is your enemy and you need to choose to think rightly and get the help of a biblically sound person. Recognize the power of God to help you and allow His love to motivate you toward a godly solution.

When someone sins against you, they first have sinned against God and lived in rebellion to Him. They have failed to worship God and have an ungrateful heart.[1]

Decide to be a tool in God’s Hand to bring sin into the light (I John 1:7), this is vital. This offers the opportunity for repentance and confession (I John 1:9).  Perhaps this hasbridge-19513__480 already happened on occasion with this person; you must realize that there is a deep, deep stronghold that comes with habitual sin — especially sexual idolatry. Coming out requires much more than confession and repentance, intensive restructuring with God’s Word and accountability is mandatory. Don’t agree to just let it ride and become their monitor; that will not work.

Freedom, found in Christ, comes from walking in the light and hating sin; we must hate sin as God does. Consistent, honest openness and accountability with another party is required. It takes work. Changing the mind and its patterns concerning what is pleasing to God is vital.  Humility is a major factor in overcoming the past, and pride will fight against this all along the way.

boy-1916204__480Action Steps: If you feel sin is present, don’t allow fear and suspicion to rule your heart.  Instead, take steps toward having a conversation about what you are feeling with the one involved (Mt. 18:15-17). If this fails, find one or two to come along and assist you.

In order to prepare yourself:

1) Think biblically: get biblical counsel if you are unable to think this through yourself. Living in High Heels on the Rocks for years will have its affects. The truth presented in love (Eph. 4:15) will be needed to set everyone free, including you.

 2) Act, instead of reacting: God’s Word gives action steps that bring hope. Write out what scripture says about your situation. Differentiate truth from thoughts based in the pain you feel.

3) Pray, instead of panicking: In order to trust God through this process you need to pray and gain power over the enemy, who uses fear to derail us. Reacting will not produce righteous fruit.

4) Exercise faith in God: Trust involves believing God. Responding out of your flesh (feelings) will increase the confusion, which Satan loves to operate in.  God offers clarity to those who will trust Him.

5) Ask for help — this is so important! Do not try to handle the situation alone. There are plenty of resources available to you; there are caring people who can help. Start with your pastor, church leadership, or someone trained to help; they may need to become involved to enact biblical discipline. Glorifying God and freeing yourself, and those you love, are worth it.

Remember, Satan wants to destroy you, your spouse, and your children, but God wants to give you abundant life (John 10:10).  Bringing sin into the light is the first step to freedom.

[1] Taken from Stuart Scott, The Exemplary Husband (Bemidji, MN: Focus Publishing, Inc. 2000), 287.

To read the complete article go to: High Heels on the Rocks