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

High Heels on the Rocks

water-3125113_1280Picture yourself walking along a rocky shore wearing high heels — almost impossible right?  When someone is involved in betrayal or hidden sin of some sort, this is a good way to describe the feelings of those close to them. If you are facing the known or very real possibility that your spouse, a child, or someone else you love, is struggling in an area of habitual sin, I am writing this in order for you to recognize and take active steps that will help you find the remedy for this very difficult situation.

The following thoughts may be familiar to you if you are in a relationship with someone whose heart is bound: “Why is it so difficult to have a conversation of substance? Why does (s)he seem so evasive, unwilling to answer any questions? Why does (s)he twist things and blame me? Why is (s)he so impatient and angry? What’s wrong with me, why am I feeling so frustrated and angry? Why won’t (s)he tell me where (s)he’s been? I feel like I’m going crazy! All (s)he wants to do is watch TV or sit on the computer or cell phone! I feel so alone and isolated. I feel like (s)he is overly controlling of me. I don’t know who I am anymore. What’s happened to us? I’m afraid, why do I feel this constant dread, “ and the list goes on.  If you have experienced similar thoughts, and even think you might be going crazy, take heart you are not alone.  There may be a good reason for your uncertainty, hyper self-examination, and confusion.

What I am writing about is common enough in the world around us; where addictive behavior has become normalized. But for those who profess a relationship with Jesus Christ, living this way is simply wrong. If you are attending church and experiencing this dynamic, intervention is needed. God’s purpose in saving us is for us to glorify Him and this will not happen in this environment. You will simply be going through the motions; showing up at church with your mask, yet dying inside — not to mention the effects this hypocrisy has upon your children.

high-heels-463770__480Let’s go back to the high heels. When someone checks out of life and into their secret fantasy world it creates a rocky road for those around them. Let me give you a few common markers that should help you discern if someone you care for is involved in habitual sin. Please remember, there’s no need to panic; this situation did not happen overnight. God has a redemptive plan in mind for you and your family, but you must act wisely if you wish to see good come out of destruction.

Here are three markers that indicate a major problem:

1)  Vagueness and ambiguity.  When you ask “normal” questions and are met with answers that really don’t answer, but deflect, turn it around on you, or skirt the question — beware.  Someone living with a secret has to cover and protect and this takes effort. The easiest way to cover one’s tracks and to keep ahead of those close by is to keep things vague or ambiguous. Antonyms for ambiguity are certainty, clarity, clearness. When these are lacking in conversation, and you have to pull teeth to get clear and concise answers to your questions, there is a problem.

2)  Blame Shifting.   Someone who lives with guilt and shame will, out of necessity, shift the blame somewhere else. This throws the inquiring person into a defensive position — and as in football, you can only advance toward your goal when you have the ball. When someone has a habit of shifting blame to you when asked a legitimate question, you have a power-play going on. The use of diversion is to remove the question from them and shift it toward you. To combat that, stay focused, and speak clearly, directly, and honestly to them about what you are feeling. Also, take a break for the moment so you can regroup. These are skillful patterns and you’ve likely learned to dance in submission to it. Sin and deception, by nature, work together to create an atmosphere of blaming (Gen. 3:12-13).  Manipulation and control accompany the blame in order to keep those involved off-balance.

3)  Impatience and Anger.  This response reveals internal conflict. When someone is living with hidden sin they feel frustrated with themselves, and very much like a failure.  When a soul is dealing with shame and guilt, the conflict will be pair-707505__480demonstrated. A knee-jerk reaction often occurs when someone gets close to the issue and impatience or ridicule is often used by the offender to control those around them.  If the invader’s threat continues, the reaction progresses to anger; then possibly rage and hatred because as sin progresses the bondage grows.

A few practical examples: “Honey, would you like me to pack a lunch for you?” or “Can I make you some breakfast before you head off to work?” Those are simple, kind, questions, right?  Well, if one day the answer is appropriate like, “Sure, thank you.”  — and another day it’s met with, “Why do you always have to bug me?” or “Why are you so controlling?” or “Can’t you leave me alone!” You have a problem. Depending on the dynamics of the situation and how long this has been going on, you will find yourself wondering, “Why this rotten behavior? What has happened to cause such disdain and this adversarial spirit?“ One day you get a normal response to a routine question, the next day its impatience, anger, and blame. Why? The change from one day to the next can be frightening and confusing.  Without understanding the sin, the cycle, the acting out, you may wonder, what’s wrong with me?  What did I do? You may become convinced that YOU are the problem — when in reality they are dealing with guilt and you become the scapegoat.

These patterns of unpredictability, vagueness, impatience, and anger, have their root. Use whatever scenario you will, and look for the pattern. While you may be repeatedly blamed for the response you receive, begin to recognize what you are dealing with.

Do not take a victim mentality and give up.  You may feel like you are fighting a phantom! It really can be that confusing at times. While this is primarily a “spiritual” battle, it also has physical consequences. Habitual behavior is aided by hormones that rivet the pleasure sensors in the brain; that’s why people have difficulty letting go of their sin. Defense mechanisms are habitual too; they are a part of someone’s life when they live with guilt and shame from their actions.

Note: some habitual sins (addictions) are easier to spot, and can be dealt with before they become deeply embedded in the soul and brain function of the individual. Because lying and manipulation are central to keeping sin hidden, these patterns accompany habituation making it more difficult to detect. While the “user” is deceived, those around them often fall for these manipulative tactics and end up going deeper into the pit of confusion and despair themselves. Sexual sin[1] in particular is most destructive and is growing within churches. Yet, few pastors will speak openly about this particular sin with their congregations, paving the way for help. While there are men’s groups formed to help, often the wives are left ignorant or confused. This failure tends to keep spouses feeling uncomfortable in attempting to get help.

What Can I do?

Climbing that rocky slope in high heels is not easy. I believe a primary reason some never reach out for help is because of the recurring confusion this scenario brings. Because you are already experiencing disrespect, betrayal, and guilt you lack the confidence it takes to move forward.

Many spouses or family members of addicts have experienced the pain of attempting to get help only to regret it. The resulting pent up anger and frustration someone in this situation experiences can make it appear initially (to an inexperienced helper) that you are the source of the problem. While we all have sin issues to deal with, the dynamics of betrayal and abuse feed our frustration. Get help anyway, prolonged abuse causes some to go inward, silent, and recluse. For others, the pressure cooker lid blows and it all comes spewing out. Either response is a common reaction to the inability to be allowed to express your feelings and to be respected as an individual.

girl-1245678__480Gaining clarity and trying to express yourself takes effort and seems overwhelming because you’ve lived in such a confusing world of turmoil. You’ve changed, you don’t like who you are, your sense of normal is gone and it becomes difficult to express yourself. To be sure, Satan is delighting in all of this confusion. The hidden sin not only affects the one choosing to sin but everyone around them. This is why it is so important to get help. Also, even though the initial sin may have ceased, the behavior associated with protecting that secret is now a deep issue in the heart.

The constant emotional instability eventually breaks down our identity in Christ.  Our mind can become clouded and it seems an overwhelming task to confront the real issue. Along with the biblical mandate of submission and respect for authority, there’s enough confusion to keep many quiet. You may even wonder if you have lost out with God and are abandoned. You’re not. You just need a life-saver tossed to you. You will make it if you hold on to the Life-Giver, Jesus, and make the changes needed.

Bringing sin into the light (I John 1:7) 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 the accountability partner; 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 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 effects. 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 on 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 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 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] 1 Corinthians 6:18 (KJV)  Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.

For further help, please go to the Resources Tab.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Overcoming Failure

Because you’ve failed at something does not mean you’re a failure. God designed us to be renewed in every way. Restoration, new beginnings, and finding hope is what our great God is all about.

Image result for small white PopcornLast evening, I made a big bowl of the best popcorn ever! I decided that instead of supper I’d indulge in a huge popcorn treat that I have been longing for. I had purchased small tender white kernels of popcorn at a specialty store in December, popped them just about perfectly and added some butter! Wow, what a treat, I ate it with much pleasure while viewing a documentary. Before I knew it, I had finished the entire bowl! Oh, my stomach felt it… this morning as I write I feel a bit lousy for eating it all. I failed to maintain my goal of eating mindfully and in small portions.

Failure is common to all of us. In reading the book of second Peter this morning I saw the restorative way that God works within us when we fail. Setting our eyes upon greater things puts our failures (great or small) into proper perspective. As you may know, Peter himself would be considered a failure in his early journey with Jesus. Jesus told him ahead of time of this impending failure, yet because of fear, he denied he knew Jesus three times when questioned. The agony Peter went through from this experience was dreadful. Have you been through an experience of agony over your own failures? Perhaps it’s an entire season in life where you have felt it was a failure. I have and many people I know have as well. So how should we respond when this reality comes to us?

Let’s look at some of the things Peter has written, under the Holy Spirit’s direction, in his second letter. What can we learn from this man, who failed, yet became one of Jesus’ greatest servants? Peter was impetuous and deep-hearted at the same time. As you read the text, think about how we are instructed to live. Read slowly, soak it in, note the promises and the warnings he gives. I believe by the time you finish you too will see how God is able to take anyone of us and through His grace free us from ourselves, our past and our failures. God calls us higher and gives us clarity on how to walk by His divine nature at work within us. We can be overcomers, just as Peter was.

2 Peter – English Standard Version (ESV) – Chapter 12Peter1 4

1 Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: 2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
Confirm Your Calling and Election
3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
12 Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. 13 I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, 14 since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.
Christ’s Glory and the Prophetic Word
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Chapter 2
False Prophets and Teachers
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; 5 if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6 if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7 and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked 8 (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); 9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.
Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, 11 whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord. 12 But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, 13 suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. 14 They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! 15 Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, 16 but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.
17 These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. 18 For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. 20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”

Chapter 3
The Day of the Lord Will Come
This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, 3 knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
Final Words
14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. 15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

Note: a full reading of First Peter will explain the groundwork for an overcoming life.

Photo Credit: Google Images.

Painful Pasts – Part 2

pexels-photo-712413In Part 1, we looked at the importance of holding onto God’s Hand as we walk through the process of healing from a painful past. Here, we’ll look at the importance of a renewed mind in this process. Isaiah 26:3 (ESV) You keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

Heart/Soul/Mind: We are told to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind. So how does someone love God with their mind? How is it possible? We are told in scripture by Jesus himself to do this; and this is how we find the abundant life He offers us (Matt. 22:37).

Our Past: When we suffer from a painful past, something negative has occurred and we find ourselves circling back to that event (consciously or not) because it has lodged within us. Of course, everyone’s past contains both good and bad memories. For some, the bad causes fear, anxiety and often changes the way we interact with others. Can these instances that have harmed us be used somehow by God as a useful tool? Indeed, there are examples in scripture that indicate this. Joseph is a good example of someone who suffered much and was used by God because of his obedience. He delivered his family from starvation, while also teaching them what forgiveness looks like (Read Genesis Chapters 37-50). You too can be used by God as a result of your painful past.

Step 1: Brain Cleansing
In order to overcome our “triggers” and turn them around on our enemy to be used for God’s glory instead, we must renew our mind so that we can think rightly and then act accordingly. His powerful Word is what accomplishes this for us. Perhaps you’ve tried reading it before and you cannot lay hold of what I’m saying or even believe it contains the power to transform your mind. Please believe me, it does, and you will need to explore for this yourself — ask the Holy Spirit to guide you and He will. The more you douse your mind in the inspired Word of God, the more you will think according to your Creator’s design for you. That is when miracles happen! I am a living testimony to the transformative power of God’s Word to do this.a-2729794__480

In order for us to rebuild, we need the Holy Spirit to cleanse and refresh our minds, as well as our bodies that have been affected by the constant chemical dumps from stress. Neurologically we need renewal, a shift in the pathway that our brain has been following. Through the hormones and chemicals in our brains, we have laid down some counter-productive ways of dealing with life and we need to lay a new path. You already know this, so now begin to take action to change your brain.

Here are some helpful scriptures on renewing your mind: Luke 12:29-31, Romans 7:21-25, Ephesians 4:22-24, Proverbs 16:3. Journaling scripture and your thoughts help as well.

Step 2: Antidote for Anxiety
Have you suffered from a traumatic event, years of oppression, abuse, manipulation, or something significant that has altered your view of yourself in an unhealthy way? Do you find you become like jelly when you need to express yourself, rather than being able to say what you really feel? Perhaps when you attempt to talk with a person associated with the pain all that comes out is frustration and anger? There’s help for you. It can be difficult to step back and see these behaviors for what they are. Depending on what has occurred and for how long, the fear factor can be overwhelming; trusting again can feel impossible. Many fall into sinful lifestyles after these events, not because they want to, but because they feel incapable of  overcoming these feelings.

If you have not truly experienced salvation through Jesus Christ, then this is the beginning of your journey to freedom. Next, renewing your mind in God’s Word daily and obeying what it says, is how you gain the Holy Spirit’s authority and power within. You are no longer simply a human being living your life alone, vulnerable in this world, rather through redemption, you are transformed into a Child of God. You receive family benefits (and a powerful elder Brother named Jesus) from this transaction, but you must learn how to lay hold of these gifts. They are there for you, and you need to realize that and appropriate them.book-2617987__480

Look up these scriptures on fear and apply them to your life – they are part of the family benefit package: 2Timothy 1:7, Hebrews 12:28 & 13:6, 2Peter 1:3-4, 1John 4:18-21, Psalm 56:10-13 (the Psalms are filled with passages about not fearing people). These are just a few samples, there are many more. Advance your mission and search!

Step 3: Remove Double-mindedness
I am thankful that people cared and reached out to help me during my early days of recovery and much double-mindedness! They carefully walked me out of the prison cell I was living in. It did not happen overnight and God led me to various people who helped. The trauma was deep and there were layers of conditioning and painful places that needed to be dealt with. I was very fearful and filled with anxiety about many things. This fear manifested in pride and an overly self-protective attitude and left me in a very double-minded condition emotionally.

One example of fear I experienced early was going through the process of counseling with a couple who were trying to help me. Their focus was marriage counseling in order to work toward reconciliation. I later realized that this situation was premature and in my thinking I was being asked to trust an untrustworthy person. I felt vulnerable and was constantly battling between my position in-Christ as His child and submission to this person who had dealt treacherously with me. I realized later that sin needed to be brought into the light, acknowledgment of the secrets involved was needed (confession), and a reasonable determination if true repentance occurred was needed. With out exploring if godly sorrow (2Cor. 7:9-11) over one’s sin was occurring vs. the sorrow of the world (ie: getting caught), it is not possible to move forward. While going through this experience it seemed impossible to look beyond the person to God because everything remained shrouded in deception and I was stuck there.

If you have been harmed in an ongoing way by someone in habitual sin, the deception and manipulation are very damaging and learning to trust again can be difficult. A counselor who is nouthetic (willing to confront sin) is needful. Covering over sin is never going to produce a good outcome.

In order for you to get a sure footing and move forward, you must know where you areBoots heading, why, and how to get there.

I recently visited West Point Military Academy with a couple of young friends and learned how it is designed to train a cadet to overcome their fears – how parallel this is! If you do not enroll, engage, and strip yourself of doubt and unbelief as to the mission before you, you will not make it. The battle is in one’s mind. If you are going to become free from your painful past, you must decide and act. If you have a divided heart — going back and forth between your feelings and what God says, you will fail. Jesus said in Luke 11:7 that a Kingdom or house (heart) that is divided (vacillating or double-minded), will not stand. So in order to succeed in your endeavor to become free, you must gain a single-minded heart. Helpful scriptures are Luke 5:22, Hebrews 4:12, and James 1:8.

PRAY: Talk to your Father in Heaven as Jesus taught us in Matthew 6:9-13. You may find reading these few verses with a surrendered heart can ignite your mind into greater vision! Think about what Jesus is saying here:
1. You have a Holy and loving Father (that is established throughout scripture).
2. As you surrender to God’s will, He performs it through you (an opportunity to glorify Him).
3. He gives daily to those who ask Him (seek Him).
4. He forgives all your sins, and we are to do the same to those who have harmed us (yes, it’s a process).
5. Evil is all around, ask Him to deliver you from it and recognize that living in His Kingdom enables you to lay hold of His power and live for His glory (there’s no better way to live).

Victory and freedom boil down to your commitment to wanting to experience healing from your past. It takes singleness of mind and heart to do so.

Scripture Study: I encourage you to daily have a physical Bible that you can write and highlight in. There are also useful on-line helps to do word studies: A simple way is through: biblegateway.com A more detailed way (including Hebrew and Greek) is through blueletterbible.com, they also offer Bible Study courses.

If you find it difficult to study on your own then I suggest asking a godly mentor or biblical counselor to walk the path with you. If you do not have someone you know that can help, pray, ask around, and commit to the journey — you will not regret it. Our teacher and comforter, the Holy Spirit, miraculously takes the inspired words of God and transforms our minds (hearts) through the process of reading, hearing and apply His Word. I can tell you that there is no greater power to transform and lift a heart from pain to promise than the powerful Word of God. He has miraculously transformed my mind and does so daily. Hallelujah!

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Relates Part 1 and Forgive & Live! Part 3

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