Who’s talking to you?

Young woman thinking with blackboard

When I was introduced to my Savior, and He truly became the Lord of my life, making sense of the Scriptures and finding a community of like-minded individuals became a priority. My husband and I sought out more than the Sunday message and joined a “life group” as we desired to have mature Christians around to keep us focused on forging a solid relationship with our Father.

The years we spent with the incredible members of this group were blessed. The depths of faith, the wells of hope that sprang up, the encouragement and gentle teachings were exactly what we needed during a rough yet exciting season.

One night there was a discussion on how vital it was to consult God on every single decision. Some gave the impression that even in the simplest of choices, such as what to have for dinner, they pressed into the Lord. I remember this conversation well because it was one that the enemy grabbed hold of to use as an accusatory weapon. Comparison was tormenting me trying to convince me I was not “Christian” enough. It made sense to consult God on major decisions. We had been pressing in to get clarity on whether to do IVF or wait on God to heal me to conceive a child on our own. I also wanted God’s direction on His plan for my life. But truthfully, I had not on a daily basis asked God to advise me in meal planning. I had not asked Him whether to take the highway or go the back roads to church.

Consumed with worry that I was not doing this whole “Christian” thing right, I believed the negative voice that said I was going through the motions of a believer, but in reality, I was a fraud. I desired to be like the those I admired in my group, so I made the decision to ask God permission to do anything and everything. I was determined to see Isaiah 30:21 ring true in my life. It would be my ears that would hear a word, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.

I am not trying to trivialize or belittle the fact that the Lord first and foremost be our counsel in our everyday lives. I was in a prison of my own making because I allowed some ridiculous comparison to warp my thinking. I was acting crazy asking God ludicrous questions, and when I heard no answer, I got upset. Why couldn’t I hear God? As time went on, I was convinced that something must be wrong with me!

­­I can’t remember how long it was before I finally heard Him, but when He did, the words spoken were ones I would never forget.

It was lunchtime – a perfect time to ask for guidance! There was a PotBelly and a Pei Wei next door to each other. I asked, “Father, where should I eat? Whatever parking spot is closest to the restaurant, I will know that is where you desire me to go.”

As I pulled into the lot, there was one spot available. It was literally between the two locations. (Smack dab in the middle!) I took the spot, threw the car into park, and asked the Lord, “Why?”

I sat there for a few seconds when I heard a soft voice say, “Child, I gave you a mind and a will to make choices that make you happy. You decide what you want to eat. You’ve missed the whole point. I don’t need you to ask me about every trivial thing. I want you to commune with me and trust me with your life.”

I couldn’t help but smile and laugh. I learned that day that I can and do hear His voice. I also learned that I needed to stop comparing myself to other Christians and focus solely on my relationship with God. And by the way, I enjoyed every bit of that PotBelly sandwich!

Not long after that tasty lunch, God would teach me how important it is press into what He is saying. Right after my daughter turned one, she was scheduled to have some blood work and x-rays done. She had been chronically ill, and we were trying to figure out why. The doctor requested we go to Cooks, and I heard the Lord caution me, “Wait seven days.”

I remember thinking this seems like a nutty thing to do, but I was really focused and hearing God and receiving what He was saying.

The morning of the seventh day, Averey woke up with a high fever. I spoke to the doctor who cleared us to go to the hospital and proceed with tests. Not a pleasant afternoon, but we got through it.

We were home about 15 minutes when the phone rang. It was the allergist calling with instructions for us to immediately take our daughter back where the emergency room staff would rush our daughter into CT and then possibly surgery. She explained the x-ray revealed a possible Peritonsillar Abscess, which is typically fatal in babies.

After the CT, the doctors were stunned. The abscess was at the very beginning stage and could be treated with a short hospital stay and a long course of high-dose antibiotics. No surgery would be required.

God gave me instructions to wait. I could have ignored the prompting, but waiting saved my daughter’s life. I learned one valuable lesson: If He is asking me to do something… Do it no matter how odd it seems.

God’s desire is to have a deep personal relationship with each one of us. God can comfort, guide, warn, caution, advise, counsel and commune with us on a daily basis, but we must understand the ways God speaks.

Whether you are new in your faith or attend a church that does not teach about hearing God, I am going to let you in on a little secret: God is always talking. We just have to tune in and adjust our frequency so that we can hear. Here’s how:

  1. Reading the Word. God speaks through His Word. Romans 10:17 says, “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ.” I had been given a word from a stranger that I would have a natural child. I was battling with doubt after multiple miscarriages. God knew I needed an anchor – something to keep me grounded. That lifeline would be Luke 1:45; “Blessed is she who believes what is spoken will be accomplished.”

    God spoke volumes through that Scripture and kept me focused on the promise and not my natural circumstances. I declared those Words daily until God healed me with no medical intervention and blessed us with our beautiful daughter.

  2. Be still and know I am God. It is recorded in the Gospels that Jesus would wander off to spend time with His Father. He would withdraw to places alone and hear His Father’s instructions (Matthew 26:36; Mark 1:34; Luke 5:16).

    I’ve learned that God likes me a lot and wants to spend time with me. “Quiet time” is simply being intentional to have talks with God just like I have coffee and conversation with a close friend. There are no hard and fast rules to what this looks like. How I spend time with Christ is up to me. If you want to hear the voice of God, make the effort to talk with Him and then allow ample time to sit quietly so you can hear Him speak.

  3. Pray without ceasing. Billy Graham said, “Prayer is simply talking to God, and the most important thing I can say about this is that God wants you to talk to Him! He loves us, and He has promised to hear us when we pray.”

    In the years of waiting for a child, I learned the value of consistent, intentional prayer. Praying became a part of my daily activities as much as bathing and eating. Praying is what draws God close, so the more you pray, the more opportunity there is to hear His voice. Some ways I use prayer in my life include:

    • Offering God my day first thing in the morning is a daily surrender by inviting Him to have His way in my life.
    • Giving praise for the blessings I see happening around me.
    • Seeking His guidance on matters that arise and making petitions when needed.
    • Asking for and accepting forgiveness daily – repenting of my sin and giving God the opportunity to give me the loving correction.
    • Thanking God for the daily bread I received all day and for the sweet sleep and pleasant dreams that will come.

If you are struggling to hear God’s voice, here are five steps to help tune in:

1. Expect a gentle wise spontaneous thought instead of a loud booming voice

The Holy Spirit speaks directly to our souls bearing witness to the truth, convicting us and encouraging us. These thoughts often sound like our own voices yet the wisdom and knowledge go beyond spiritual maturity.

2. Not your will but His will be done

I had to lay down my pride and controlling nature and get over myself. Once I came to Him with a posture of surrender and told Him I desired to have His will in my life, I was transformed. Ask God to talk you about His perfect plan, and then follow His instructions.

3. Connect with the Holy Spirit

While the Holy Spirit dwells inside of us, we constantly need to be made aware of His presence. This is the key to enjoying the overflow of His peace, joy, and love. I connect with the Holy Spirit by first entering into a time of praise and worship. Others meditate in the Word of God while some prefer to go into an extended time of prayer.

4. Free your mind from the drama of the day

It’s hard to hear the voice of God when there’s a grocery list rattling around in our minds. Replaying the events of the day or forming tomorrow’s task list won’t do it either. But shifting away from stresses and to-dos of the day allows us to quickly feel His presence and tune into His voice.

5. Keep a journal and reflect on what was written

I love to journal and taking time to ask if what I hear lines up with Scripture. If it doesn’t, I throw it out because it is likely that I heard the voice of the enemy.

Keeping a journal and reflecting on what you hear is a great way to develop your discernment. The Bible tells us we are to take all of our thoughts captive into the obedience of Christ, which is not easy because we can often get tripped up in our own fleshly desires, emotions and feelings.

If you are not sure your word was from the Lord, ask Him to give you confirmation through a friend or even a stranger in the church. You’d be amazed at the ways God will let you know what He needs you to know.

Most importantly, remember this… you do not have to be an elder, pastor, prophetic voice or leader in the church to hear God. Every one of us is capable of hearing God’s voice. Give it a try and see for yourself what a blessing this can be in your life.

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God Loves Ugly

Young woman in heart shape cave towards the beautiful sky

Do you ever feel that you were not good enough, smart, strong or beautiful enough? Do you think you are too much of a mess, and your “stuff” is just too much for God? Maybe you believe you’ve done too much in your life that God won’t forgive, so why bother? Have you ever felt God didn’t love you?

So many of us are walking around thinking that we are not worthy of God’s love, He takes those disgusting parts of our lives and creates new opportunities for His glory to shine. It’s like taking lemons and turning them into the sweetest lemonade. God takes all our deception, the guilt-ridden, shameful places that none of us wants to talk about into wondrous testimonies for us to be able to help others.

I learned this truth so many years ago, as I was once bound up by the shame of having multiple marriages. Even as writing I am thinking, “Do I want to tell the world my dirty laundry?” The purpose in telling you this is to expose the enemy’s grip and put God’s glory in its place!

I was attending a prophetic training where a women said, “You are the woman at the well.” My first thought was questioning how did she know my shameful past? Even though I knew that the Bible teaches that prophetic words are meant to lift us up, and yet all I felt was shame. She went on to say “You drank the Lord’s living water and have felt His unconditional love. You will share this love with many to glorify God.” This word has been instrumental in my sanctification. I am guided with the Spirit of God and completely feel the unconditional love of the Lord.

The Biblical woman at the well was very instrumental in sharing the Gospel. There are similarities between our two stories. Scripture doesn’t tell us how she might have felt but the Lord brought beauty, hope, acceptance and restoration to her even though she felt so much shame for her transgressions. Let’s see how Jesus interacted with her in John 4:10-26.

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

At that moment, Jesus reveals the truth about Himself to this woman. He was just as vulnerable as she was, and I want to believe that Jesus didn’t want her to feel alone in her transparency. The Son of God knew she was a lovely woman who deserved the truth to know God loved her, and that she wasn’t just the woman with five husbands. He chose her to go and tell the people about His goodness by sharing their encounter, and she went down in Biblical history as an evangelist. The prophetic word I received revealed that our stories don’t end in the test, but live on in the testimonies of God’s goodness we get to share with those in our path.

I can remember broken pieces of my childhood. I suffered from a lot of painful heartache and trauma that left me wide open to find relationships with incompatible people. It was like the song “Looking for love in all the wrong places” was written after my experience. It goes something like this:

“Well, I’ve spent a lifetime lookin’ for you; singles bars and good time lovers were never true. Playin’ a fools game hopin’ to win; I was lookin’ for love in all the wrong places, Lookin’ for love in too many faces, searchin’ their eyes and lookin’ for traces of what I’m dreamin’ of.”

I was destroyed from this grief, trauma and damage from things in my past. I desperately wanted to be filled up with wholeness again, to have the shattered pieces of my life go back together, but I didn’t know how. I felt defective, fractured, injured and crippled. I believed a man’s love could repair my dismembered self. If only I could be loved, be married and have that “Ward and June Cleaver” relationship with 2.5 kids, everything would be normal, and the pain of the past would cease.

My warped thinking took me many years to work through, and I endured the pain of suffering through several failed marriages. I believed the lie that I was suffering the consequences of my actions. Divorce, more hurt, more pain and, of course, the shame of this echo blemish called multiple marriages. I suffered along with my children and family from my choices. I cannot take back the fact that I chose to marry several different men and the baggage that came with them; however, with God’s help, I could learn some valuable lessons and restore my hope for a bright future. God says in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the thoughts I think toward you and they are not to harm but to give you a hope and a future.”

God didn’t stop loving me and wanted me to know it. Even in my darkest moments, He kept on pursuing me and still does to this day. God worked all of my messes into valuable tools used for His purposes, and if you let Him, He will do the same for you.

You might think of your mess as the end, but God sees it as merely a detour. When you have veered off track, the Holy Spirit guides us right back to righteousness in Christ Jesus. When at first we don’t succeed try, try again, as the old saying goes. God works all things for good according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

God is always waiting at your front door desiring to have an intimate relationship with you. It’s your choice to open the door. God loves you and is smitten by you. He is wooing you this very second because of who you are not what you’ve done.

God loves you like good parents love their children. Even though children are not perfect and often break the rules, parents love them unconditionally. The same is true for God. He simply loves us unconditionally. This is beautifully illustrated in the Bible when Jesus loved the woman at the well.

God’s love for each one of us is unstoppable and unshakable; His love penetrates tribulation, distress, persecution, pain, difficulty or any crises that we might face. Our job is to invite God into every area of our lives. Sometimes is easy to compartmentalize our lives. For example, we can invite God into areas of our lives that are all neat and tidy, but when we haven’t dealt with a painful area, we are not ready for Him (God) to be involved because it looks a little messy. But God loves us no matter what, and the reality is that He sees and knows all anyway. You actually have nothing to lose by asking Him into a bad situation; however, you have amazing things to gain if you will trust Him with your mess.

Psalm 36:7 says, “How precious is your unfailing love, O God! All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings.” Can you imagine what it would be like to find shelter in the midst of your storm? What about letting Him guide out of your wilderness? Or what would it be like to be released from the prison of our mess?

The truth is that I am not the guilt and shame from my past. I have been sanctified by the love of God and was created in His image. I am a new creation in Christ Jesus, and the great news is that you can be too.

God loves me when I’m beautiful or ugly, happy or sad and in spite of anything I ever could do or say. I am His beloved daughter. I am His royal princess, and you, my friend are also a cherished member of God’s extended family. Beloved, It is my prayer that you will let this blog take root in the hurt places in your heart. May you come to truly know that God’s love is unconditional.

Beloved one, if it is time for you to truly receive God’s unconditional love to strengthen you, simply repeat the prayer below, have faith in God’s truth and trust that God’s word will never condemn or harm you in any way.

Prayer:
Father God, I thank you that you are the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I recognize that I have come into agreement with the lie, I take responsibility for believing that ______________ (fill in the blank). When I believed the lie, I felt _______________ (fill in the blank). I repent for entertaining negative thoughts and renounce the lie. Father God, I ask you to replace the lie with your truth. I thank you for your forgiveness and for your unfailing love. In the mighty name of Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit, I break any agreements I made with the enemy and ask for a fresh revelation of my identity in Christ. Amen.

Questions to pray and ponder:
Have you felt that God couldn’t possibly love you because of past mistakes? If yes, ask the Lord to lead you to some Scriptures that you can memorize to understand God’s immense love for you.

Has guilt and shame caused you to feel unwanted, unworthy unlovable? Remind yourself of God’s sacrifice. Meditate on all that Jesus did for you when He went to the cross. Let this example of unconditional love you fill all your heart wounds.

What are some ways God has shown me that He loves me?

Divine Encounters

tired passenger

I had just taken a sip of my Starbucks tea when a young woman plopped down beside me. I could immediately tell this girl had a good heart, was full of mercy and had a call on her life to help others.

We were both patiently waiting for our planes to board. There was some idle chatter going on among the others in the waiting area, but there was something about this woman… I knew this was going to be a divine appointment.

Not long after the Holy Spirit began speaking about this girl, she looks up at me and says she’s been in Peru volunteering at a children’s school. I feel like God is showing me her heart as she talks about how these kids suffer from disease and poverty. I’m impressed at this young lady who sees through all the bad circumstances and can tell the children are happy, despite their environment. Exposed now is her mercy and heart for others. What would the Holy Spirit do next?

She’s a pretty girl, black hair, little to no makeup. Behind her glasses, I begin to see there’s sadness in her eyes. Something deep inside of her that is dark and haunting. I knew right then I was supposed to talk to her about the love of God.

I inquired, “Are you a Christian?” She answers, “yes,” but I can tell she doesn’t know Him well. She’s from the North, and she shares with me her thoughts that people from the South are more Godly than those from the North. I’m giggling inside when she says, “I wish I was a better Christian – like my good friend who I deeply admire.”

I smiled and said, “We will both spend our entire lives growing and learning how to be like Jesus.” I explained that the beauty of being transformed into the image of Christ – is that until we take our last breath, we will stay in the process of being “sanctified.”

She was only nineteen. She began to share details of her life with me, and I am in awe of the bravery and courage she displayed. She pours her heart out to me, and God showed me He created her to be a warrior. She was fierce. I felt strongly she’s been through some serious battles in the natural, but also in the supernatural. She’s come face to face with the enemy… she just didn’t know it.

She was telling me about being bullied in school. Her self-confidence and self-esteem suffered and then was obliterated by her parents who told her she was weak. She had watched me tell my daughter she was amazingly smart and savvy, and she said to me, “Don’t ever stop telling her that she is smart.” My heart broke.

She confessed she’d gone through a depression and had a stay in a mental hospital. I shared that the Lord was telling me she was bipolar… just like my husband was. Shocked, she looked up at me and asked, “Was bipolar?”

I smiled, and said, “Yes. Was bipolar. God healed my husband a couple years ago.” I explained how Scott had gotten better as we trusted and declared the truth of God over our lives. She’s staring at me. I could tell the enemy is telling her I am totally full of it, so I explained that Scott went from needing a high-dose cocktail of multiple medications to now being on a tiny dose of an anti-anxiety pill.

Before she could say a word, I went on to say, “I know the Lord has healed you too!”

I can tell she’s puzzled as the enemy is in her head. She asks, “God made your husband and I this way, so don’t we just have to accept it?”

And with that, I shared with her the good news of Jesus Christ, and how God secured our healing and perfect health when He sacrificed His son. I told her there was nothing about her that wasn’t perfect in God’s eyes. I praised Him for He was a good Daddy who would never purposely make anyone sick. I asked her, “Do you feel your depression is a part of you?” She nodded. She’s resigned herself to thinking it’s just who she is… depression defined her.

I looked her dead in the eyes. Quietly I told her our meeting was a divine appointment because God wanted her to know something, and as sternly and as seriously as I could I rebuked that lie off of her in the name of Jesus. I declared, “God loves you,” and shared the wonderful news that because she was created in God’s image, she was not wired to be depressed. God created her and each one of us to be happy, loved and full of peace. I went on to say that Satan was tormenting her with sadness to keep her from walking into God’s plan for her life.

I continued, “You’ve got a great call on your life. You’ve got a heart for others and will one day serve God in a major way.” She lit up. She would be a teacher. She would touch many kid’s lives. She would make a difference.

Then I shifted topics to explain how Satan operates. He is sly and subtle, dropping thoughts in our mind – negative, destructive thoughts – designed to hinder us from being close to God. He sneaks around waiting for his opportunity to strike, and his weapon of choice is the nasty thoughts that pop into our mind. I cautioned her to the fact the voice sounds like us. She’d never hear a scary male voice, and because of that, it’s easy for us to claim the lies and make them our truth.

She’s listening. She’s interested. So I continue.

“Do you believe we are made in God’s image?” She nods. “Do you believe the Word of God is true?” She nods. “Then you accept that you were created in His image?” Her response was, “I guess so.”

“Is God capable of being evil in any way?” She looks at me. I ask again. “Is God capable of being evil in any way?”

After a slow pause, she says, “I think, No.” So I continue, “So if He is not capable of any evil, then how could He be responsible for your depression?”

There’s another slow pause. I can see her mind churning. She’s zeroed in on me – Am I for real? Am I going to crack? But as I sit there with a peaceful smile on my face, the light bulb begins to come on.

To drive the point home I explained how Satan torments with unloving, critical thoughts – ones that demean and devalue us, that divide us from God and that destroy His plan for our lives. I also warned her the enemy uses accusing thoughts to get us to blame God for the bad things that happen to us.

I spoke against the lies that filled her thoughts – the ones breeding life into her depression. I declared over her that she had been given the power to trample over all evil, and I told her the Word is clear when it says in Luke 10:19, “Nothing by any means shall harm her!”

She looked up and said she wanted to be healed. I explained that all she had to do was have faith Jesus was her Savior, and fully believe in the power of the cross! I said, “You have been fully equipped with the Spirit who dwells in you to defeat all evil. While the battle against the devil would always be in your mind, God has all ready given you victory by the sacrifice of His Son.”

I went onto to explain that our job as Christians was to discern good thoughts from those needing to be instantly trashed. “2 Corinthians 10:5 advises us to take all thoughts captive and bring all negative thoughts into obedience with God’s Word,” I said.

I asked her if she had ever heard the verse in 2 Timothy 1:7 that says, “I have not been given a spirit of fear, but have been given spirits of love, power and a sound mind.” When she said yes, I encouraged her to declare that loudly over her life every day.

Knowing my time was now short, I encouraged her to get into a good church and said, “Dive into reading the Gospel, and let the Word become the lens to which you view life through.”

When the time came for my family to board the plane, I stood up. I told her God loved her, and if she listened God would talk to her in many different ways… a stranger in the airport, a paragraph in a book, a conversation with a friend, or through a Bible verse.

I ended by explaining that God had more to say to her about who He created her to be and encouraged her to spend some time listening. I prayed a quick blessing over her and said goodbye.

Just before we walked off, she grabbed my hand. She looked at me and said thank you. And as I tailed off, I said, “Don’t thank me… thank God.” I wished her well and headed to the gate.

I love God encounters. I’m always on a treasure hunt when I am at the mall or at the airport. I love watching God’s light shine in a dark place in someone’s life. I’ve had many of these conversations over the years. There’s always a common theme as each person believes something about God and/or about themselves that has warped their thinking. I take no credit for what happened this day, but I so do love getting to be a truth bomber. I love opening someone’s eyes to God in a new way. I love watching Him come forth to touch someone’s heart. I love witnessing the moment there’s a shift in their thinking… whether it’s a lie that’s just crumbled, or it’s a shift in their perceived identity.

Treasure Hunt Challenge:
Next time you are out buying groceries, ask the Lord to highlight someone in your path that you can encourage. Take that leap of faith and watch God use you in mighty ways to bring Him glory!

More on Depression:
I also feel it is important to speak to the many who struggle with depression and sadly accept this fate as God’s plan. You feel defeated and believe you’ve been left to deal with this hurt all on your own. I’m here to set this straight.

The exciting truth is God has a plan for you. Plans created to prosper and not harm you! Plans that are designed to give you hope and a future! (Jeremiah 29:11)

The Word is clear in that you will face trials, but it is never God who causes the trial. John 10:10 warns the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy, but also encourages because Jesus Christ came to give you life abundantly!

It’s important if you are struggling right now with depression, that you understand God wants you set free. Depression is oppression. It torments and is NEVER from God.

The Bible is also clear that victory is all ready yours. Isaiah 53:5 says, “It was by His stripes we were healed.” Jesus healed every one of us when He died on the cross. It’s not something we are waiting for. You do not have to beg and plead for God’s will to show up. Healing is a finished work.

This is great news! You can be healed. You can be happy. You can be free. You can be all that God has called you to be, and that’s a promise that can never be broken!

 

Prayer:
Father God, I thank you that you have great plans for each and every one of us. I thank you for creating us to do your good works and creating us in your image. Father, I am not encouraging anyone to abandon treatment or stop medication, but I know your Son died so that each and every one of us can walk in health and wholeness. I am asking you, Father, to show those who are struggling with depression and mental illness that way out of this bondage. I pray that the enemy can be defeated in this way from being able to torment those who deeply need to feel your love and joy. I pray this truth will resonate with those who are hurting and lost, and they will begin to seek you out in new and exciting ways. I pray you receive all the glory for those who receive healing and for those who are out sharing your truth with this in communities they live. Giving you all thanks and praise… in the mighty name of Jesus, Amen.

From Chaos to Refuge

Man hand with lifebuoy ring over blue sea water

Have you ever asked God where He is in the midst of a storm? In a crisis situation, have you ever had trouble discerning the voice of God with the enemy’s lies of deception? Have you ever heard a voice prompting you, almost desperately harassing you, to do something irrevocable that does not line up with God’s Word? Do you believe in principalities?

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world,” 1 John 4:1-3

It was a beautiful sunny day at the lake, and little did I know I was about to test the spirits. I was there with my daughters and one of my daughter’s friends. The day started out pleasant enough just like every other day at the lake. We borrowed a blow-up air raft to relax on the cool water. Remember this is a blow-up raft.

After unpacking the car, carrying a heavy load down the long hill, we noticed the anchor and two life jackets were missing. It was a hot day, and the water looked inviting. Nicole quickly chimed in, “We do not need the anchor and the life vests. We are only going to be in the shallow end of the lake.” Famous last words!

There was a lovely breeze blowing across the lake with the sun glistening like diamonds. The sky was so blue and clear. We were all excited with anticipation to relax and float on the water. We put the raft into the water and took turns taking the rope and walking the raft around the shallow end of the lake.

When it was Nicole and her friend’s turn, they decided to go out just a bit, then a little further, and the next thing I see is the water is now up to their necks. The waves came rushing. I yelled for the girls to get on the raft. There was to be no more playing around, but both girls ignored my command. Within seconds, the raft drifted out where they couldn’t touch, and we were now approximately 30 feet from shore. The waves were raging as I pleaded with the girls to get onto the raft. They had other plans and decided instead to swim to shore.

I was very worried and filled with fear! The waves were strong. We were very far from shore and getting further away with every passing second. My other daughter, Heather, quickly grabbed the two life vests and decided to swim toward the girls to give them a life vest to hold onto.

One question kept badgering me. Are you going to let your children drown or are you going to try to rescue them? The voice was taunting me as the waves got stronger and I drifted further into the abyss of the lake. The taunting in my mind felt like I was being bullied. Are you going to let something happen to your children or are you going to do something about this?

Just as soon as panic began to set in, I heard another voice. This one was calm – a still small voice, peacefully telling me to stay put on the raft. I sensed that I was to stay put because I was older and not in any shape to fight the lake. I felt like the best thing I could do for my children was to call 911.

I was hearing conflicting voices at the same time. One was filling me with peace by speaking life over this terrible situation, while the other was cunning, full of chaos, and confusion spouting probable death.

I was not strong enough to swim against the turbulent waves of this lake because I wasn’t well. I was drifting further away with every passing second. I had a choice to make. I decided to listen to the still small voice and help my girls the most effective way I could.

The girls had their cell phones in a compartment on the raft. I grabbed one and immediately dialed 911. A nice gentleman answered the call and asked for my location. I pleaded to please help my children, and I began to explain landmarks of where I was.

This was extremely dangerous as this was a blow-up raft. I am now in the middle of the lake with no life vest. Normally, I would have panicked, but there was a peace, a shalom peace, that came upon me. It says in Philippians 4:7, “…the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” I believe that was what was happening to me.

By the time the fire department arrived on the scene, they found the girls on the shore, but I had drifted so far they couldn’t locate me. (I’m glad I didn’t realize this at the time.) I focused on the truth that God was with me through the Holy Spirit that dwells in me. I was taking comfort in what 1 John 4:4 says, “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

I had a choice to make in the midst of this storm. Would I trust that still small voice telling me I’d be okay or the one that was desperately seeking to steal, kill and destroy? My emotions were all over the place but I knew the turmoil I was feeling was not from God. I could feel the Holy Spirit guiding me, gently pursuing me with peace and love to make the best decision for all involved, but more than that, this voice kept soothing my wearing soul so that I would break down in panic. It would be roughly an hour later, I was rescued, Glory to God!

Looking back now, I am convinced God was keeping all of us in His secret place. Psalm 91:1-3 says, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.’ Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence.”

I learned that day that the spiritual realm is not a fairy tale like Cinderella or Snow White. There are principalities in this world. There are forces of good and evil. The evil of the world tries to fill and cloud our judgment with deception and lies, while God’s voice tries to fill us with peace and joy even in the midst of scary circumstances.

John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart I have overcome.” It says right in the Bible we are going to have trouble, but we are to trust Jesus. Can you say that you trust Him in the middle of your struggles?

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” That verse is so encouraging and inspires me to listen to God and to see the future He has planned for me.

I will be honest. I faced fear, but I also had enough faith to see me through all the dread. Faith is key to combating the lies of the enemy and to seeing victory in your life. It only takes a mustard seed of faith to believe what the Word says.

He takes that seed, waters and nurtures it, and faith begins to bloom. I learned that day that it’s vital to have confidence in God and His promises. The lies were trying to lure me to attempt to swim when I wasn’t physically able. But God was peacefully pursuing me, encouraging me to stay put.

No matter what you are facing in your life right now, know that God is a stronghold in times of trouble. God alone is your mighty deliverer and champion. God was my anchor, my life vest, and my refuge that chaotic day on the lake. He alone delivered me from the evil one’s trap, and friends, I am certain through my story, He wants to encourage you. You too can hear His voice in the middle of chaos. Instead of tuning into fear, zero in on that quiet voice… the one telling you no matter how bad your circumstances seem, you will be okay.

Beloved one, if it is time for you to truly trust God’s love to find your place of refuge, simply repeat the prayer below, have faith in God’s truth and believe that God’s Word will never condemn or harm you in any way.

Father God, I thank you that you are the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I recognize that I have come to an agreement with the lie, I take responsibility for believing that ______________ (fill in the blank). When I believed the lie, I felt _______________ (fill in the blank). I repent for entertaining negative thoughts and renounce the lie. Father God, I ask you to replace the lie with your truth. I thank you for your forgiveness and for your unfailing love. In the mighty name of Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit, I break any agreements I made with the enemy and ask for a fresh revelation of my identity in Christ. Amen!

Questions to pray and ponder:

  1. Has there been a time in your life that things were going along smoothly then suddenly something unexpected happened that caused you to feel out of control but you weren’t sure what direction to take? What voice did you listen too?
  2. Recall a time that you felt bombarded with accusations and condemnation stealing your peace. What are some verses that you can lean on next time so that the enemy doesn’t rob you?
  3. What are some steps can you take to nurture and water your mustard seed of faith so that you can start discerning God’s voice while drowning out the enemy?

“Stop It Right Now or Else!”

When we were kids, my parents had this small car. It was a two-door, and five of us piled in this automobile everywhere we went. In the back, the three kids were crowded together like fish in a tin can. And every so often I’d get tired of my little brother poking me or invading my space, and I would begin to yell at him. From the front, I’d hear my mom scream, “Stop it right now or else!”

I think every adult can still remember what it felt like when they heard the stern calling of their name. Hearing the loud firm, “Kimberly Anne” coming from the downstairs was enough to send shivers down my spine. It was in those moments that I would swallow hard in a state of panic, as I knew punishment was coming my way.

My parents were awesome, loving people. They were trying to teach us rules were ways to keep up protected. They also wanted us to understand breaking rules had consequences because we could get hurt or something worse. They wanted us to be happy and be safe, and I always knew that was their motivation.

But as soon as I heard my name being yelled, an intense wave of fear would wash over me… the fear of punishment. No kid enjoyed psychological warfare of a parent letting you know you were in trouble but saying he or she needed to think about what the consequence would be. There’s nothing worse than spending the day fretting the inevitable with a giant knot in your stomach.

Would it be the belt to my behind? Would I be locked in my room like Rapunzel never to be let out of the house again? Would I be forced to eat liver and onions for the next month? Yep, my mind could really drum up some pretty awful scenarios as the enemy would try to convince me that my parents were the absolute worst, and I was the poor little victim of the mean, bad mom and dad. Dread could create some pretty awful scenarios… the lectures, the disappointment, and punishments, most of which never happened.

I can remember daydreaming about running away because the horror that awaited me would surely be far worse than living on the streets forced to eat crawdads from the creek down the road. The best part was imagining my parent’s regret. I could see it playing out just like The Christmas Story when Ralphie shows up blind from soap poisoning after his parents punished him for having a foul mouth. My parents would someday grovel for forgiveness too when they realized the error of their wicked ways.

In truth… I was a pretty good kid. I very rarely got in trouble, but my sister broke the rules a lot and would cause my parents to make some strict boundaries with her. She was three years older than me and watching the trouble she’d be in made me scared to do anything wrong.

The sad reality of this style of parenting was that while it did in lots of ways ensure compliance, it also came at a price because it was only out of fear that most kids followed the rules. It wasn’t because the child wanted to be a good person, respected their parents or just had a passion for the law. No… the truth was that no kid wanted to have a red sore bottom if caught. I was good because I wanted to be at the skating rink instead of grounded, so even as a young girl, I knew being good and following my parent’s orders were the means to get to my desired end.

The sad thing is though that this way of parenting mixed with no real solid Biblical teaching growing up led many, like my husband, to think the Big Man upstairs was a harsh punisher just waiting for us to screw up. Scott knew God loved him like his parents did, but the fear of being struck down by thunder for his sin was a bit overwhelming.

For me, this warped thinking in adulthood led me to believe all the bad things going on in my life were the result of God punishing me. It was a warped old testament view of life that kept lots of distance between us, and Satan liked that. The enemy had accused God of being a mean, harsh and scary dude, and I bought it like I’d bought a cheap, knock-off purse. So when I struggled with infertility and recurrent miscarriages, I blamed God and that led me to a point in my life where I hated Him.

When I was finally introduced to Jesus Christ and had my eyes opened to the truth, I saw the error of my warped thinking. I had been duped into believing a terrible lie when the reality is that God is anything but a punisher. In fact, he is nothing but a protector and redeemer!

With the coming of Easter and the celebration of the death, burial, and resurrection of the Savior of the World, I am reflecting on God’s ultimate sacrifice and how much He must have loved us. John 3:16 tells us that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

I can’t even wrap my head around such unconditional love. The pain God felt, the tears shed and the agony of watching every drop of blood and the drawing of His son’s last breath. I can’t process how painful it must have been for Abraham to haul his son up the mountain believing he was being told to offer his son as a sacrifice. I am not debating whether God was testing him or not. I am merely putting into context how it must have felt to be a parent forced into choosing to watch their only child die. Being the parent of one child… I don’t know how I could make that choice.

But our Heavenly Father did. Romans 3:25 tells us God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin and watched his Son die a horrible, terrifying death. And because of this ultimate act of grace, we are set free from sin’s ultimate punishment… death.

God is a good parent. His rules and laws are for our protection. He wants us to be safe just like my mom who yelled at me to keep my hands away from the hot stove. If I disobeyed her and touched the burner, my finger would pay the price. This is the same with sin. God knows that sin opens the door to the enemy to come steal, kill and destroy. He takes our peace, robs our blessings, causes us to get sick and destroys our hopes and dreams. Let’s not get it twisted… the enemy is the real punisher.

The most amazing benefit of God’s ultimate sacrifice is the victory we now enjoy. We do not have to fear the enemy, nor do we have to dread making a mistake because Jesus took our place and received the punishment for our sin! We just have to look up to our parent and say, “I’m sorry.” When we do that… there is no penalty or punishment to pay because Jesus paid it. There is no need to run and hide or continue to sit the stronghold of dread. There is also no need to view God as harsh. Rather view him as a God filled with grace and mercy. For His sacrifice and His Son’s death, burial, resurrection, and ascension into Heaven conquered sin and the devil for good!

I like to imagine God said to Lucifer, “Stop it now or else!” And when he didn’t, Jesus stepped in and rendered the devil the ultimate punishment.

Happy Easter!

The Cavities in Life Are Not God’s Fault

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When I was young, I got a cavity. I wasn’t nervous sitting in the chair with all the silver tools around me. After a few deep breaths of nitrous the nurse swabbed some numbing cream on my gums. A flash of anxiety washed over me as I glanced at the large needle heading towards my mouth. There was the stick, the sting, and boom – the worst was supposed to be done.

Moments later I noticed a look of concern on my dentist’s face. The room filled with tension as he began to shake my right cheek.

My face went numb, my tongue was double its normal size and my right eye was now closed. My cheek, now swollen to the size of a large softball, was sadly turning black and blue.

Apologetically, the dentist explained to my dad that I had a tiny mouth, and for the first time in this seasoned dentist’s career, he accidentally shot the Novocain into a vein.

The result was I couldn’t enjoy solid food for a couple weeks. From my forehead to my neck, it looked like I had been beaten up and the relentless teasing at school took its toll on me. This trauma took about a month to heal physically, but the emotional hit would affect my life for decades.

Dr. Bettis didn’t mean to cause such trauma as he only wanted to care for my teeth. This was an oddity, not a planned attack, but I blamed him and now feared every dentist in the world. They couldn’t be trusted and wouldn’t protect me. I would battle irrational anxiety that, by my 20s, kept me from being able to walk in an office for a routine cleaning for nearly a decade.

I finally went to the dentist, and much later I realized I saw God how I viewed the dentist. It’s easy to point the finger and blame God for the bumps and bruises, the hard times and the things that happen to us that just are not fair. It’s easy because the voice of the enemy is relentless in his pursuit to get us to doubt God’s goodness.

Accusation is a nasty evil that if not careful, can warp the way we view God. It can be very subtle often using an element of truth to set us up to believe a counterfeit truth. These lies hinder your relationship with God, work to tear down your identity in Christ, and open the door to other strongholds like bitterness, anger and fear.

I fell victim to the enemy because I was not cemented in the Word. I didn’t truly know God’s character or my identity in Christ. I saw Him as a punisher and accused Him of making me pay for mistakes.

I thought of God as I thought of the dentist ­– unsafe and not to be trusted. Why? Because I believed God was responsible for all the good and bad that happened in life. This lie absolved me of owning the poor choices I made, but worse, it took the blame right off Satan. It was God who looked like the bad guy. By all appearances, He was against me, but nothing could be further from the truth.

These accusations would nearly destroy me by the time I hit 40. Satan blamed God for all he was doing to wreck my life. And I ate up every bit of it and grew disappoint in God. This also kept me in denial because I couldn’t see where I bore any responsibility for the mess.

I stewed over all the unmet expectations I placed on God. I wanted what I wanted and when I didn’t get it in my timing, accusations against God surfaced, such as:

  1. He did not hear my prayers
  2. He was not for me
  3. He wasn’t a good father
  4. He was a punisher

So many lies swirled in my mine because I didn’t understand it was my job o take the destructive thoughts captive and defend the Father. The negative thoughts fueled my pain and kept me from forming a solid relationship with God. I was convinced He was responsible for all that was wrong in my marriage, my job, my health, etc.

We had just lost our fourth child, and accusation led me to develop a fear of the Lord that was ungodly. I also felt abandoned by the One who said He’d never leave or forsake me.

I held God responsible for killing my babies as I had come into agreement with the accuser’s grandest lie: God is responsible for all that happens in life. I felt like He didn’t protect them to punish me, and I thought I must not be worthy to be a parent. This destroyer was killing my dream of raising a child, crushing my spirit, attacking my relationship with God and slowly tearing up my marriage.

As a result I rebuked God. I was so angry at Him that I no longer saw a good Daddy, but only saw perceived abuse. Accusation was stealing my peace and joy, making me an explosive mess in my home and robbing me of enjoying the pleasures that come from a man and wife creating life. Accusation was opening door to many other strongmen to come and wreck me. Envy, bitterness, rejection, complaining, control and manipulation… Those were just a few.

One day I found myself on the floor of our church crying to God to take my pain away. I had heard our pastor declare, “What grieves God most was bitterness and iniquity of sin.” He made an alter call, and I flew out of my chair. I was dying inside and wanted a way out. As I walked to the front I felt like a voice was telling me my iniquity was bitterness, and it needed to be ripped out of me. Then I was smacked with the reality I was guilty of accusing God because I didn’t trust His timing.

I repented and renounced all the agreements I had made with the devil. Bitterness with God stemmed from the lie that He killed my babies, but the Word says the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. Envy was the result of the accusation that God was blessing everyone but me because I was a bad person. Anger was the by-product of placing expectations on God when Satan twisted the verse that says, “Ask and it will be given to you.”

It was wonderful getting set free. The Lord showed up in a mighty way and filled me with peace. He plucked that envy right out of me, and I was no longer afraid of Him.

This was the beginning of a journey that culminated in the holding my daughter in my arms a year later. It was the full expression of Phillipians 4:4-7.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

If you think you are being attacked by an accusing spirit but are not sure, take a look at the following checklist and if these characteristics apply:

  1. You are suspicious.
  2. You project fear and analyze others motives, including God’s.
  3. You are bitter.
  4. You do not trust others.
  5. You consistently believe the worst.
  6. You are easily offended and/or can create an offense.
  7. You make rash judgments based on limited knowledge and misunderstandings.
  8. You turn away from relationships and fellowship even after there has been repentance.
  9. You zero in on the flaws, weaknesses and evil in others while tending to exclude the good.
  10. You live in denial and always find someone to blame.

If you feel like you have been participating with accusing spirits after reading the list above, simply repeat the following prayer out loud:

Father God, I thank you that there is no condemnation to those who are in Jesus Christ. And it is in His mighty name that I recognize and take responsibility in my life and in my generations for all accusation. I repent for and renounce participating with all spirits of accusation against God, self and others. I release all my guilt, shame, fear, mistrust, judgments and offenses and ask God that you fill me with your peace, love and truth. I ask for forgiveness and receive my forgiveness for participating in and serving accusation. I thank you Father for your mercy and grace. Give me the wisdom to discern your voice and the ability to recognize accusing thoughts so that I can take them captive. In Jesus name, amen.

Next steps:
If you’d like to learn more about Satan and how he can use spirits of accusation to cripple you in your life, click here and listen to the teaching on accusation.

When Drivenness is Destructive

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From a very young age, critical voices influenced how I viewed myself. I was drowning in a river of negativity with thoughts that began with “You’re not (fill in the blank)”.

Good enough. Smart enough. Talented enough. Pretty enough. Qualified enough. Creative enough. Innocent enough. Skinny enough.

Enough. Enough. Enough.

I recall hearing this voice for the first time when my family moved. My parents were proud to call themselves homeowners while I felt forced to leave the life I enjoyed to start the last year of elementary in a new school filled with strange faces.

Fifth grade was a hard year for me. This school was night and day different from my old one, and I felt like a fish out of water. While I did make friends, this was a lonely year.

I think this is where I began to strive for perfection, as I believed I would be liked if I was the best in class, a great Girl Scout and a stand out on safety patrol. I was driven to make the best Valentine’s Day box, get straight A’s and excel at skating. I worked hard at being perfect, but in the quiet of the night, the voices in my head seemed to get louder. “No one will like you.” “You are boring.” “You will never fit in.”

Sadly the very next year, I started junior high, and the cycle repeated – a new school across town, kids that could reject me, and a new set of fears to deal with. These thoughts devalued myself until one day I believed the negativity. “I’m a hag.” “I’ll never be popular.” So many lies filled the pages of my diary. I began to feel tortured inside.

My way of dealing with the lies in high school was to prove them wrong. I was driven to be the best in everything – newspaper, drill team and honors classes. No matter what I did, I excelled at it. I fought to silence my mind, trying to convince myself of my worth, but I felt the only way anyone would notice me, like me, and/or love me was if I exceeded expectations in every area of my life.

Sadly college was more of the same. No matter what I did, I’d hear the nagging voice devaluing me even though I was a sorority officer and yearbook editor, making good grades and sustaining great friendships.

My third year in college, I experienced love at first sight. We began dating, and I twisted myself into knots to be exactly what I thought he wanted me to be. I was frustrated because I was becoming someone I didn’t like as I devalued myself – crossing many boundaries I didn’t really want to. Eventually, my heart was broken when this man cheated on me. Rejected and heartbroken, I shut down emotionally. While I was cool on the outside, I was a raging mess on the inside.

The worse the thoughts got, the more driven I became. I graduated and began a job working for a magazine. I twisted my stomach in knots, stressing over the pressure to write that perfect feature. Not only that… I excelled at graphic design even though I had no formal training.

I quickly rose in my career, but despite the success, I only saw what I lacked. I defined myself by my job title but wasn’t satisfied until I was promoted. The pressure I put on myself to exceed expectations led me to have stomach problems and insomnia.

My personal life was worse. I had no concept of value, which set me up for heartache and pain as I tried to be someone I wasn’t. My self-esteem and confidence dove to an all-time low as the next man I loved told me I was fat, alienated me from his friends and often took his bad moods out on me. The more I tried to please him, the more I got hurt. This was a toxic relationship – a cocktail of mental and physical abuse.

For several years I endured the highs and lows of this affair. It tragically ended when he slammed his head into my car windshield, but you’d think I was the one cracked as I was destroyed. I should have been happy to see him gone, but I believed no one would ever love me.

My shattered heart and desolated self-image could not handle another trauma. But sadly, I was date raped by the very next guy who came into my life. I was in such bad shape that I actually thought this was my fault as I had put myself in a bad situation that I should have known better.

Shame consumed me. I was plummeting into a deep depression – trapped in a cycle of people pleasing and performance anxiety as well as unhealthy attempts to meet the expectations of another. I was making co-dependent decisions based on my need to be needed, to be validated and feel worthy. But all I was getting out of it was destroyed.

Eventually, I spent time in counseling and found a measure of healing. My life would ebb and flow between the peace that came with being alone and the chaos that came with dating someone that was no good for me.

It would be another 15 years before I would summon the strength and courage to silence the accuser for good when I began to sit in a Bible church pew instead of sitting in another’s expectations of me and began to let God’s Word permeate through my heart and soul.

I meditated on the reality that I was saved by God’s grace and not on the basis of works. Romans 11:6 began to open the door to freedom as I realized the truth –God loves, accepts and values me… just the way I am.

My Heavenly Father desires a relationship with me and has great plans for me based on His heart and His view of me. I could not be perfect enough or good enough to ever deserve such a gift.

This was revelation! My value was no longer dependent upon other people’s opinions. My worth would no longer be defined by men or by job title. What I thought about myself was not based on how skinny I was, how long my hair was or by the expensive purses I carried.

Worthy by definition means having merit, or value; good and deserving of respect, praise, or attention; having enough good qualities to be considered important and/or useful.

It’s sad all the years I was tormented. The more I strived for anyone to define me as worthy the worse my life got. Sadly I failed to realize God’s Word had plenty to say about my worth.

Once I knew that His view of me was the only one that mattered, I began to flourish and grow comfortable in my own skin.

I was made in the image of God who said I was more precious than silver and gold. God wrote about the days of my life before I was born. God chose me as His child before the foundations of the earth were formed to serve an important purpose in His Kingdom.

Coming into this reality changed my life in profound ways as some health issues and high blood pressure disappeared. My marriage improved as I stopped the co-dependency and the need to be “right”.

I discovered a piece of wisdom that has transformed my life: while it is okay to pursue excellence, any drivenness or perfectionism bread out fears, low self-worth and other negative reasons should instantly be recognized and dealt with.

 

Are you looking for love in all the wrong places?
Just like I did, there are many determining their self-worth based on what other people say. This results in us developing unhealthy coping mechanisms such as drivenness, perfectionism and people pleasing.

Here are signs you might be struggling in this area:

  • You believe if you excel at home, at work or in life, others will accept and love you. This belief causes self-doubt and frustration when expectations are not met.
  • You are careful not to hurt someone’s feelings and place everyone’s feelings above yours.
  • You tend to look around and compare yourself to others. You can be super critical of yourself and typically believe you are less than, not good enough or will never measure up.
  • You have a difficult time opening up, being vulnerable and sharing your feelings with others due to an intense fear of perceived failure and rejection.
  • The word no is not in your vocabulary, and as a result, you resent and harbor bitterness when others say no or you engage in things you didn’t want to.
  • You have a lot of one-sided relationships and can tend to feel used.
  • While extremely critical of yourself and others, you often take criticism poorly by getting offended, defensive and angry.
  • You often feel like nothing you do is good enough, feeling continually dissatisfied, depressed and stressed.

 

You can be set free!
Healing begins when you can recognize these destructive patterns in your life and begin to allow God’s truth to replace the lie that you are not valuable enough to be loved. When you can accept God’s love based on grace and let go of the destructive “works” mentality, God can begin to heal the tender places in your heart.

Accept the truth that your value and worth were determined by God when He sacrificed His Son. It was this price (Jesus on the cross) that makes you worthy. In fact, it’s this ultimate price that makes you (and me) priceless.

When you know your worth through the eyes of the One who loves you completely, no one in the natural or the spiritual can make you feel unworthy.

Unfortunately, the enemy will continue to chip away at your value. When you begin to hear the negative whispers again, speak the truth of Galatians 2:20 out loud.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

If you are ready to silence the accuser by tuning into the loving whisper of God, simply repeat this prayer. After, be encouraged to dive into the Bible and ask God to highlight verses that define you!

 

Pray loudly:
Father God, I thank you that you are the Lord of All. I thank you that you gave me my identity. Daddy, I only care about hearing all that you say I am. I ask you would silence the negative, condemning voice in my mind and change my frequency to hear your voice clearly. Father, I desire to seek approval from only you… not from my friends or family. Keep my eyes focused on your plan for my life. Help trigger me to stop when I begin to fall into my old patterns of drivenness and perfectionism. I ask Father for you to forgive me for engaging in codependent behaviors that have been destructive in my life. Father, I thank you that you sacrificed your Son. Thank you for showing me just how valuable I am. I thank you for healing my heart, my soul and my spirit as I come into more of your loving truth. Father, I declare – You are my source… the only One I need. My life is yours to have your will. May my life bring you honor and glory, in the mighty name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

Questions to pray and ponder:

  1. What do you think about yourself – honestly? Would these thoughts line up with God’s view of you?
  2. Are you able to discern when Satan is invading your thought life trying to convince you that you are not worth?
  3. Do you struggle with perfectionism and drivenness? What are some ways you can stop this destructive pattern?
  4. What are three Bible verses confirming your value that you can declare loudly every day?

Father Against Father

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“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6 KJV)

As a father, I see this as my duty to our daughter. It is my responsibility to give her the knowledge, discipline and advice she needs to have a good life as well as a healthy, whole life.

In reflecting on how I was raised, I believe this is how my own father felt. Life was often hard in our house. As the child that was a “surprise” and much younger than my other siblings, I often felt alone. It didn’t help that my father would face medical issues when I was young that would change the dynamics of his world forever. With the challenges and woundings my father dealt with, I suffered much, and I don’t think he in any way rose to the challenge above.

There was no open communication in my house. I was struggling in many ways to understand who I was and who I was created to be. I sat in church, but didn’t understand God or what His plan for my life was to be. I was expected to be what my parents wanted me to be. I wanted to make my parents happy and not create waves, but I was confused about many things.

There was very little nurturing in my home. I don’t remember hugs or being told that I was loved. I am not saying it never happened, it just happened so sparingly that I was desperate for affection. I began at some point in my teens to look for some kind of emotional connection, but often found nothing but sadness and despair as it always seemed like I was not enough or couldn’t measure up to the expectations placed on me.

Sadly, during my high school years, I excelled at many things but couldn’t feel any sense of accomplishment. I wasn’t happy even though I was in the top of my class academically. I was the starting tight end of the varsity football team and pursued many other extra-curricular activities but still felt such a void inside.

I had rarely dated or pursued girls at my school. My dad had made it firmly clear that girls were not my priority. However, during the summer days leading into my senior year that all changed.

I met a girl, and tried to do and be everything the way I thought she wanted me to be. Against my father’s objections, we began to date.

I remember one night we went to the beach for a night out. It was a cool summer’s night, yet we heated up the car in lust-filled passion. On my 17th birthday, we had sex for the first time. It was not safe to talk about sex in my home. As messed up as this sounds, I thought sex was something I had to do as a man – like it was expected. This was a subject that was not safe to discuss with my dad. So sadly, I cared about having sex, not the girl it was with.

Whether she was “the one” or not was not relevant… I was enjoying my manhood. That was until one day, she confessed she was pregnant. Instantly, waves of fear washed over me. What was I going to do? What would my father do to me? What was going to happen to my future and her future? I was feeling alone and desired to simply cover up the problem.

This was a problem no teenager should have to deal with. Here I was trapped in one tense moment in life where people have two choices – rely on our own judgements or ask for help.

Unfortunately, I had a father that I did not trust for many reasons. He did not condone me dating, much less the sex he did not know I was having. Riddled in fear and shame, I decided I had to rely on my own decision, which was to cover up my mess. I didn’t talk about this with anyone.

I felt trapped because I didn’t want the baby, but I didn’t necessarily believe in abortion either. But I had no one to confide in. No one was there to help advise me. Therefore when she announced that she wanted to have an abortion, I didn’t fight her choice. I didn’t stand up for what I believed, nor did I support her at all. I left her alone to make this enormous decision, and I left her to deal with this all on her own.

Although I gave her the money, I had other priorities during the football season. On a Friday afternoon, my baby died while I played a high school football game. See I couldn’t miss practice or a game for fear of dad finding out. So I dumped all of this on her and felt relief that she took care of the problem. I only wanted to save my own skin as I was riddled in fear.

I have spent a large portion of my life filled with guilt and shame. When my wife and I struggled to have a baby and suffered through a bunch of miscarriages, I truly believed that this was my punishment for the dirty secret hidden in my past.

There’s lots of freedom that has had to come from this painful time in my life, but one lie that I believed was that because of the relationship I had with my dad, I had no authority to turn to in my distress. I felt lost and alone.

I had been in church all my life, but I will admit that I had let the relationship with my earthly dad define how I saw God the Father. I didn’t see him as loving, but I saw him as the same unloving distant, punishing dad. But sadly that was just not true.

I would hit the age of 40 before I would finally discover the truth… the truth explained in 2 Corinthians 1:3. God, who is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is also my Father… is the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort.

I am still to this day wrapping my head around the unconditional love God the Father has for me. As I grew up thinking that my dad’s love was conditional on so many things.

But honestly, I’ve had a rough time even accepting that I have two fathers. I have an earthly father, whose job it was to guide me and point the way for me to accept and get to know who I am in Christ as well as a heavenly Father who comforts me, consoles me, protects me, provides for me and loves me no matter what.

I wish I had understood at 17 years old, that if my earthly father was not going to or able to guide me, my heavenly Father could and would do it. For Jesus said, “… If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him,” (John 14:23 KJV).

I wasn’t getting what I needed at home. I didn’t receive what I needed from God sitting in the pews of my Catholic church, nor did I get the emotional fulfillment I desired from the girl I was sleeping with. But I was getting filled with a lot of lies… lies I believed because there was no one else showing me a better way. Sadly Satan devoured my relationship with my father, my virginity, my child and me. Why? Because the devil “…was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not the truth, because there is no truth in him…He is a liar, and the father of it,” (John 8:44 KJV).

See Satan is the father of lies, and even though I felt I followed no father at all, I listened to, believed and sadly followed the father of lies. I was convinced in my sin that it was easier not to deal with the pain in my home, to make my own poor choices, to lie, cover it up and deflect when those choices bit me. I learned at a young age that I didn’t have to take responsibility for my life or my choices. It would be costly to tell the truth and deal with an issue, so I grew to be passive aggressive and manipulative. This way of living would have devastating effects – costing me one marriage and nearly costing me my second. Luckily, I was able to seek help and get some much-needed freedom to save the family I now hold so dear.

As I dedicated time to build a stronger relationship with God, Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit, I am thankful to have such a forgiving, loving Father who has given me the grace and mercy necessary to lay down my past and reshape my future.

I didn’t start out being a good father to the one child I have. I used to wonder what will my daughter think of me when she reflects on Proverbs 22:6 and compare it to the way I loved her. I knew I cared for my child but wasn’t sure I really loved her or not those first several years. I wasted time scared I was doing everything wrong or living in the anxiety that I’d end up like my dad.

God is so faithful and mighty to save. I’ve moved past the past. I’ve forgiven my dad, myself and released my guilt and shame. I am still working on letting go of the passivity by actively seeking to be present and involved with my daughter. I’ve learned to love unconditionally using God as my model as well as to be the kind of parent that will allow my daughter to thrive in who God created her to be. I imagine this to be the way my dad had wanted to parent me.

I can’t look backward as God encourages us to move forward. The past is gone. I’ve done all I can to repent and let go of the painful parts of my past that set me up for failure. But, t9here’s still one desire that remains for me: I look forward to the day I hold the hand of the child I loved, yet never met.

 

Next steps
Did you struggle in your childhood in a dysfunctional relationship with one or both of your parents? Difficult relationships with parents can cause emotional wounds that can hinder our ability to develop a healthy identity and cause us to view God in ways that conflict with His true nature and character. If you struggle to feel a sense of belonging, have difficulty in making decisions or taking initiative, have a rough time receiving love or even compliments from others, or feel rejected often, maybe its time for you to pray and consider doing the following:

  • Recognize and repent of any bitterness, grudges, resentments, anger or hatred towards one or both of your parents.
  • Ask God for his forgiveness and accept His forgiveness.
  • Invite Him to heal the hurts and wounds of your past and be open to receiving the unconditional love your Father has for you.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to begin to speak to you about your identity in Christ.
  • Give thanks and praise for the work God is doing and will continue to do in your heart.
  • Begin learning how to take the destructive thoughts captive and form new thoughts about God in order to replace Satan’s lies with God’s truth.
  • Enjoy the freedom that comes from soaking in your true Father’s love.

Want to learn more about the Father’s love? Click here to listen to a powerful message from Senior Pastor John Aldridge of Son Rise Church and ministries.

 

About the guest author
Scott Slater grew up as the last of five children in a military family. Scott spent most of his formative years trying to understand his identity in God. Twice, he almost joined the priesthood, both from high school and college, but could not reconcile his deep desire for a family.

After 10 years of wandering through a failed marriage and broken relationships, Scott met his wife, Kimberly. With God by their side, they built a family despite many attacks on their marriage and the devastating loss of many unborn children. Through faith in Christ and the healing of his broken heart, Scott delights in the Word of God and enjoys delivering that message to those who open their hearts.

Scott has spent time as a men’s mentor and member of the alter team at Gateway Church. Scott resides in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, with his beautiful wife, 6-year-old daughter and three rescued shelter dogs.

 

 Never Alone!

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Has there ever been a time in your life where you felt alone, abandoned or simply forsaken? Has anyone ever let you down you thought you may never recover? Have you ever trusted in someone so much yet the person couldn’t live up to your expectations? Have you ever been so devastated by someone’s selfish actions?

I have experienced all of the above during a painful time in my life. I had just given birth to my fourth child…a precious baby girl. My life was turned inside out and backwards when my husband; the person I thought would be there for me and for our family would leave the state for another woman. Not only that, but he would take my car fifty miles away and leave it at the airport while stealing the last few dollars I literally had out of my wallet.

The pain in the pit of my stomach was more than I could stand. This was devastating. Alone and feeling desperate, I couldn’t process what was happening. I had just given birth to this man’s child. How in the world does a person leave another during such a vulnerable time? Where were the compassion, the love and the sense of duty to stick through the good and bad times?

The painful memories still haunt me. I didn’t have enough diapers for my baby girl. I recall thinking “what in this world am I going to do?” This was truly one of the lowest points in my entire life. He wasn’t a good man and had many times hoped I’d be free of him, but the way this unfolded was just tragic.

Before I was left abandoned, this man verbally attacked me. Over and over he devalued me, telling me no one would ever want me. He degraded me, and I was convinced I was not someone worthy of anyone else. I was no good. The messages of not being enough and I would be alone forever echoed throughout my mind on constant repeat.

So now he’s gone, and instead of feeling relieved, I’m wondering if I would now be alone the rest of my life. Would I now be one of those spinster cat women you see on TV? I was blessed with four beautiful children, but I couldn’t help but wonder if we’d be known as the five musketeers from now on. So many questions ran through my mind, and the enemy was right there throwing so much chaos at me I didn’t know which way to turn.

I had felt abandoned and isolated as we had just moved out to the country. I was now away from the city and in a town of 600 people and cow pastures everywhere. I felt like I was on a Green Acres episode, and my name was Lisa. “New York is where I’d rather stay, I get allergic smelling hay.”

Ironically the town we moved to was called Godly. Hmmm… maybe this wasn’t a coincidence in my life. But at the time, all I knew is I had no husband, and I had no idea where God was.

Jesus tells us to call upon Him in Psalm 91:15. The promise is God will not only answer us, He will free and honor us! However, I cried out and could not hear or feel His presence. His Word instructs us to call on Him, yet all I heard was deafening silence. This only confirmed the ugly lies my husband spoke over me as I now believed I wasn’t worth of God’s love either.

But it would not be long before I would have an encounter that would show me the truth that nothing can separate us from God’s love. After husband left and I cried out to God, He showed up in a powerful way. His healing restoration started working in my life when a co-worker called and heard the loss in my voice. I guess it was too difficult for me to hide the feelings of devastation and betrayal. I didn’t have to hash out my feeling as this co-worker simply asked me if there was anything he could do to help.

I didn’t want to ask for anything, but my newborn baby girl only had a few diapers left and wouldn’t make it through the night. Reluctantly I asked if he would mind bringing me a couple of diapers. He came quickly with a big box and just comforted me. No expectations… just kindness.

Isn’t that just like the Lord? In Psalm 34:18 it says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” God was right there, and He sent me someone to comfort me and freely provide the compassion and resources I desperately needed.

This experience taught me several key lessons:

  • God is always listening
  • He will always answer our prayers, even when we don’t think He is
  • He is always for us
  • I am His daughter, the daughter of the King
  • I am loved by God

People are all human although some don’t always act in the most humane ways. We will make mistakes. Some will fail us, disappoint us and hurt us. There is only one who will never abandon, and that is Jesus Christ. In fact Hebrews 13:5 tells us that Christ said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” We are never alone.

And to make sure I knew I’d never be alone, God brought the co-worker to my door. That man, who showed me such sincere kindness, ultimately became my husband. And we have been happily married now for 16 years. I was never left to be the cat woman, and I was never left alone to single parent my four kids. I was given the desire of my heart.

John, my spouse, is the most kindhearted, compassionate, loving, responsible man that calls my children his own. He even adopted them and gave them his name… a reflection of how God adopts us when we accept Jesus Christ as our personal savior.

Even in my darkest moments, when I thought I was rejected and abandoned… I was never alone. The truth was then and is now simple: my God is always with me, and He is also always with you.

You might be going through a devastating experience right now, I can tell you from experience that our God is there with you in the midst. You might not be able to see Him, but let me assure you, He is there.

Even if you feel far from Him, He is there. Believe the scripture and believe me when I say, He will never leave you or forsake you. You can count on God when everything else might be chaos. Don’t listen to the chatter of the enemy, but instead listen for God’s still small voice and be comforted in His presence.

Courageous one, if it is time for you to receive God’s love, assured that He will never leave you or forsake you to strengthen you, simply repeat the prayer below, have faith in God’s truth and trust that God’s word will never condemn or harm you in anyway.

Father God, I thank you that you are the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I recognize that I have come into agreement with the lie, I take responsibility for believing that ______________ (fill in the blank). When I believed the lie, I felt _______________ (fill in the blank). I repent for entertaining negative thoughts and renounce the lie. Father God, I ask you to replace the lie with your truth. I thank you for your forgiveness and for your unfailing love. In the mighty name of Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit, I break any agreements I made with the enemy and ask for a fresh revelation of my identity in Christ. Amen!

Questions to pray and ponder:

  1. Can you remember and describe a time in your life when you tried to hear God’s voice but couldn’t hear Him? What is one verse you can find that could help you in the future so that you never feel alone again?
  2. What are some lies about God that you might be believing that could be causing distance between you and the Father? What verses of the Bible could replace the lies with God’s truth?
  3. How can you usher in the presence of God to hear his voice clearly? Challenge yourself to ask God a question, sit quietly and wait for Him to answer. Make this a regular practice and watch Him draw near to you as you pursue Him.
  4. Do you know in your heart that God is a perfect Father? If you are not sure, reflect on His goodness and recall times He has shown you He is always with you.

It’s All His Fault

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“There’s no hope for my marriage, he’s never going to change.”

I’ve uttered that sentence a thousand times believing one massive lie… If he would change our marriage would be better, and I would be happy.

See I was a type A, want-what-I-want woman, who married at 35. I had many years of living alone to get set in my ways. Simple things like how he folded the hand towels drove me crazy. Why couldn’t he just do it the way I like it?

The man I dated was romantic, catered to me and cared about what I wanted. He swept me off my feet, and I fell deeply in love. But once married, things quickly changed.

A month into our marriage, Scott sunk into a depression and became a man I didn’t recognize. His wounds and dysfunctional coping patterns reared up, and the selfless man I dated was now a stranger – self-centered, withdrawn and cruel.

We started therapy, and life got better for a while. But several miscarriages, fertility issues and added pressure took our marriage from bad to worse.

Miserable, I felt abandoned. Scott declared regularly, “I don’t care about you.” I was certain he didn’t love me. I adored the man I dated but didn’t care for the stranger sleeping beside me. Deep down I knew my marriage was a mistake.

Many lies filtered through my mind. “I’d be better off alone.” “He’s never going to meet my needs.” These caused me to stop seeing the man God created Scott to be. I zeroed in on ways he didn’t measure up. All I saw was how he let me down. It was all his fault.

As a result I grew volatile. In righteous anger I’d sucker punch him verbally. I tore him to shreds with cruel words, but believed I was not the problem. He needed to change – not me!

In 2009, I sternly announced, “I want a separation.” I couldn’t take another second of Scott’s issues and his unwillingness to change. I had a growing baby in my belly and was convinced we’d be better off without Scott.

At the same time a friend raved about the book Love and Respect. I read it and implemented the principles the author suggested.

For months, I affirmed Scott. I never raised my voice. I sought forgiveness for what he said I did wrong. I truly gave this 100% effort, but Scott was blind to my effort. I wasn’t safe. He didn’t trust me. He held grudges and disconnected even though I was doing my best to connect.

As a result, anger turned to rage. Respect went out with the trash, and I flew off the handle. I wanted him to suffer the way I was suffering. I was belligerent and full of malice. I hated him.

In therapy, a counselor steered me in the wrong direction. “Get over your judgment about divorce and stop seeing marriage as a covenant,” she explained. “Scott broke the marriage contract, and you have every reason to leave.”

She said, “God would not want you to be this unhappy.” And with that, I planned my exit strategy, but God had other plans.

Tensions were thick, and we walked around on eggshells. I was miserable, but when I prayed asking if I could leave, I’d hear, “not yet.” That obviously made me mad. He wasn’t fixing my marriage!

There was no intimacy. We talked of superficial things like “what’s for dinner?”

The disconnection kept things peaceful, but also kept us broken. We no longer hugged or kissed, and I swore the lack of intimacy was his fault. Our marriage would ebb and flow between disconnected peace and world war. We were both battered, but neither had the strength to leave.

But shortly after our fifth anniversary, Scott changed. He confessed admitting he didn’t care the first years of our marriage, but now he did. He’d attempt to hold my hand, and I’d pull away. I deemed him a liar, and knew we’d never make it our sixth anniversary, so why bother?

However, with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26), and six became seven. Seven became eight. We had serious problems, but Scott was trying

In 2013, God got a hold of me after I was consumed by unloving spirits. I hated my life and my marriage… filled with bitterness and accusation. I only saw what was wrong when God commanded, “I want you to affirm your husband 10 times a day.”

My first thought was “never gonna happen!” Convinced he didn’t love me – I wasn’t willing to put myself out there, but God armed me with strength and power (2 Sam. 22:33). I obeyed.

I struggled to think of two positives. “Thank you for going to work and paying bills.” But slowly, the effort paid off, and my perspective shifted. He’s funny, smart and witty. He’s an incredible dad. Kind. Sensitive. He’s a servant. He desired me to be happy.

The problem was my critical nature, need to have my way and anger were out of control. I felt I had a right to be mad and wore the victim hat proudly, until one day I took a good look in the mirror and realized:

• I was angry with myself – not Scott or God.
• I didn’t hate Scott. I hated myself.
• I needed help.
• I had to change. I realized for the first time – it wasn’t all his fault.

In 2014, I walked into Son Rise Church and Ministries, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ came alive in my life. I focused on ridding the matriarchal spirit and dealing with my junk through repentance and deliverance. Strongholds were replaced with truth. My happiness no longer depended on what Scott did or didn’t do. The major revelation was God is my helper, and Lord Jehovah sustains my soul (Psalm 54:4), not Scott.

I fixed my eyes on God and nothing else. I separated myself from sin and laid the worst parts of myself before Jesus Christ. I took responsibility for what I had done in the marriage. I began to take my thought captive. I sought forgiveness and let the Holy Spirit fill my wounded soul.

My life looked like Psalm 37:40 – the LORD shall help me, and deliver me: He shall deliver me from the wicked, and save me, because I trust in him.

I did trust God, and in May 2015, I experienced a radical encounter while attending healing training. As I felt horrible chest pain I heard, “I’ve fixed your heart. It’s no longer broken.” The pain faded into an unspeakable joy and peace I had never known before. I was touched by God and radically changed.

I forgave Scott, God and myself. I left the past behind and desired to start fresh. I knew I only had control over how I reacted to my spouse. I could pray for him but had no power change him. But even more I ditched all expectations of change, as they were the result of assumptions, judgments and accusations that were nothing more than sin.

The truth was simple: I can’t depend on Scott to meet my needs because that job belonged to God. I can be happy in my circumstances no matter what Scott brought to the table.

I gave Scott space to adjust to his new wife. This wasn’t an easy process. My past behaviors were thrown in my face, as I had not been forgiven. He wasn’t buying that I had been radically transformed. But as days turned to weeks, weeks turned into months, it became clear I was different.

Peace washed through our home for the first time. While I’m not perfect and can fall into old patterns, I quickly recognize what’s happening and shift my behavior. I changed and as a result, my marriage improved.

No matter what Scott was or wasn’t doing, I refused to make a laundry list of shortcomings. I refused to engage when he picked a fight, and I prayed my marriage would continue to improve.

And God was faithful as Scott realized he needed help and started his own ministry. I was now safe, and Scott the room to focus on him. I stopped trying to be the priest of the home and allowed him to rise. I submitted.

Together we are on guard for the spirit of offense. We think before reacting out of our emotions. We give each other the benefit of doubt. We talk, laugh and enjoy life more. What’s disappeared? All outbursts and the need to punish were gone. We became partners – we were finally becoming one flesh (Genesis 2:24).

Six months after my miraculous encounter I heard myself say three words I thought I’d never say again, “I love you.” And the thing is… I meant it.

What a testimony to God – we happily celebrated our 10th anniversary back in April. I never thought we’d make it, but with God all things are possible.

In Genesis 12:1 we learn God, who desires to lead us by the Holy Spirit, would like to lead us in to many things… one of them being a happy covenant relationship with our spouse.

I hate the fact that the enemy convinces Christians that divorce is the only option. We have a marriage crisis in our country because too many believe the enemy’s lies instead of adhering to God’s truth.

Marriage is a divine snapshot of the relationship between Christ and his Bride, the Church. As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one,” (Mark 10:7-8).

I feel like we finally ditched the contract mentality and understood for the first time the marriage covenant is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one.

My marriage is a testimony to the power of the Word of God being applied. Scott is learning to lay down his life in sacrificial love and protection. And I am learning to shed the type A personality – willing to submit to his leadership. I also have seen the fruit that comes from building up a man rather than tearing him down with critical words and unrealistic expectations.

Today I love Scott for the man he is and the man God made him to be. I no longer long for the man that courted me but enjoy the one that walks through the door at night. Divorce is no longer a word in my vocabulary.

A friend, we have known for years, recently came to the house. As we were leaving, I said “Bye babe” to Scott. Stunned she exclaimed, “That’s the first time I’ve heard you speak endearingly to him and about him. You were always so cold in the past.”

And with that, God whispered, “Good job, faithful servant. I’m proud of you.” Now I look in the mirror and like whom I see and that fills my heart with so much joy.

Prayer:
If you are struggling in your marriage, I urge you to pray this out loud:

Father God, I thank you that you have only good things planned for my marriage. I pray all of Satan’s strongholds will be broken, and my marriage will be saved. Help me Father speak life and not death over my spouse. I pray for restoration and not separation. I pray you draw us to connect and not withdraw. Father, I thank you for reminding me to fix my eyes on you and not on my current circumstances. I thank Jesus Christ for restoring the blessing of Abraham in our lives, and I am grateful this blessing included covenant relationships. Father please help both of us have faith that this blessing is a gift… ready to receive right now I pray the accuser be silenced, all expectations town down, and all bitterness disappears now in might name of Jesus. Renew my love and help me to see all the amazing qualities my spouse has. I lift up my marriage so it can flourish and not flounder in Jesus’ name. Amen and Amen.

Questions to ponder:
1.
Are you harboring resentment, bitterness and refuse to forgive your spouse? If so, repent and ask the Holy Spirit help you in this area.

2. What negativity is the enemy speaking over your marriage? Are you convinced things would improve if your spouse changed? If so, get with God and let him lead you into the truth.

3. What areas of weakness do you need to work on that could help improve your marriage?

4. Are speaking life or death into your marriage? Your words matter! Start praising your partner and speaking life into your marriage by focusing on the good instead of the bad.

Additional resources:
For further information on the Matriarchal and Patriarchal Passive/Control profiles, visit http://sonrisechurchandministries.sermon.net/main/main/8360324 and listen to the great teaching by Pastor John Aldridge of Son Rise Church and Ministries.