Breaking Cycles of Dysfunction in Relationships (Single and Following Jesus Series Part IX)

Have you been in a cycle of repeated bad relationships or you see your friends in those same dysfunctional relationships? Today is a day of breaking free.

I have asked the same questions about friendships or casual relationships, “Why is this type of person attracted to me? They have no qualities that match up.” That may seem harsh yet let me give some examples for clarity.

My nature is encouraging, supportive, and I pursue kindness. I want to see you win. I will be the most vocal cheerleader for you.

I wondered why those who were negative, critical, mean spirited, unsupportive, and hateful were drawn to me and why they turned their negativity on me.

I am going to tell you why. Are you ready?

1. Opposites Sometimes Do Attract.

You may be giving and attract a taker. You may be kind and attract someone rude. It is not always true that we attract who we are. You may be loving and attract someone critical, rude, mean.

2. Poor Boundaries.

People treat us the way we let them treat us. Some see meekness (strength under control) as weakness. If we do not set a boundary, “You may not treat me that way, you may not talk to me that way, no this is not okay,” then we invite disrespect. It’s a conversation that must start early, not months into the relationship.

I had a lady tell me once (long ago), “I know no matter how bad I treat you, you will always be there for me.” I thought to myself, “What kind of crazy have I signed up for.”

Loving someone does not mean you let them treat you poorly. That is called enabling. It is a form of codependency. Some think God is this way. He is not. His love does not change. He is not cheering when we misbehave. God sets boundaries-“If you do this, this is the result.” God allows natural consequences. He does not remove every consequence this side of heaven.

So with this lady, I pulled back from being her default when she had no boyfriend, the person who answered her calls in crisis. I removed myself from being a doormat under the umbrella of false love.

More examples:

I have an associate who is negative. This person loves to complain and focus on what is wrong. It drains me. I told the person this week, “I would love when we talk for it to be about something positive, goals, good things. What’s going right? There is enough crazy in the world, let’s be the change we wish to see.” I set a boundary. Please keep your constant complaining in your yard. Do I love this person, yes. Do I want to listen to hours of doom, gloom, negativity, gossip, he said/she said…no. I am not a garbage can.

I had a gentleman pursuing me who always wanted to wait until the last minute to set dates. I told him I would appreciate advance notice (not all the time-yet it was considerate to give others notice); texting me Friday afternoon to meet Friday night is a no go for constant meet ups. I set a boundary. He did not listen. So often he’d texted on Friday or Saturday afternoon and I was busy.

My female friend said it was a game to see if I was seeing other people. I am an adult. I only play games with actual children. Some may have thought that was cute. I did not. Maybe if we were a couple and had been dating awhile, yet not for someone I do not know well this was a no go and setting dates signifies value. Yes, be spontaneous…Also take the time to plan something. Gentlemen say, “I would love to see you Friday night, do you have plans?” That conversation happens before Friday. I am not clearing every weekend hoping a guy messages me. I have things to do.

If you make yourself so available to everyone, they will treat you like you have no value. If you do not value your time, value yourself, why should they? I am not saying play hard to get nor play games. I am saying if you do not respect and value your own time, others will not either.

Place God at the center. Would God want me treated this way? If not, why are you allowing it? How much time do I need to invest in this relationship? How much of my heart can they steward well? God knows.

If you have poor or low boundaries, then you will find disorder and dysfunction and poor treatment.

3. Quick to Trust and Dismissing Relational Red Flags.

I consider myself trustworthy. Therefore, I give people the benefit of the doubt. I have learned to pay attention. Watch people. Watch how they treat people. Watch how they talk about others. Do they tell everyone else’s business? They are not trustworthy with your business. Do they only show up when they need something? You are most likely a convenience. Do you make all the effort? You are in a one sided relationship. If they destroy others, do not think they will not do it to you.

Many times red flags are ignored under the, “I am a loving Christian.” Okay, be a loving Christian with wisdom. Wisdom says, “Bad company corrupts good character.” Wisdom says, “How can two be joined unless they agree?” Wisdom says, “Do not make partners with an angry person.” These are all in the Bible right along with love your neighbor. You can love someone without dating them, being close friends, being business or ministry partners, or marrying them.

One of my favorite quotes by Maya Angelou is as follows, “When people show you who they are, believe them.” Unless they want to change or God changes them, that is what you are dealing with in a partner or friend.

4. You Are Pulling All the Relational Weight

I love giving. I love giving with no expectation of return. Yet there is wisdom required in giving as well. Too much time spent together, too much closeness without commitment, too much investment without any investment back is a set up for dysfunction.

Jesus loves perfectly and in exchange for our freedom He gave His life. When we enter into covenant, God asks for our life. Please understand God is not just giving, giving, giving and expecting nothing. He asks for our entire lives. It’s a bigger commitment than an earthly marriage.

This thought that selfless giving is to lead to one sided relationships is not covenant love. Relationships were designed to be give and take. If one person is doing all the work, it’s not love. Both people are to pursue the best interests of the other.

I have seen overgiving lead to abuse; it attracts narcissists and abusive people. Why? They thrive on taking. Selfless givers with no boundaries are easy targets.

A person who loves you will want to bless you too.

I have met so many people angry because they trusted too quickly, fell in love with the idea of someone, ignored red flags, and were burned poorly in a relationship. If you pay attention, people show you who they are. Their mouth speaks what their heart is full of and their actions, if you watch closely, manifest their heart and how they feel about you.

Placing God at the center can save us loads of heartache.

God help me to choose the right associates, friends, confidants, mate. Help me to set godly boundaries and respect those of others. I want to be the best friend I can be to someone and want that in return. Help me to not only be a blessing, but to cease settling for less than what you would offer. Break every cycle of dysfunction in my life and relationships. The common denominator is me. Show me what I am allowing or the poor or low boundaries. Help me to stay centered in you and have the best relationships possible. God help me to be healthy in my soul and attract and maintain relationships with healthy people. Jesus break cycles of dysfunction and it starts with me. Change me so I guard my heart and live out of wisdom and love! In Jesus powerful name.

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Pursue Jesus and Use Wisdom (Single & Following Jesus Series Part VIII)

For the Lord God is a Sun and Shield; the Lord bestows [present] grace and favor and [future] glory (honor, splendor, and heavenly bliss)! No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly,~Psalm 84:11.

“Get [skillful and godly] wisdom! Acquire understanding [actively seek spiritual discernment, mature comprehension, and logical interpretation]!

Do not forget nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not turn away from her (Wisdom) and she will guard and protect you;

Love her, and she will watch over you,”~Proverbs 4:5-6.

Wisdom is so vital in all of life.

Believers are encouraged to follow Jesus and acquire wisdom. The pursuit of wisdom is not for demonic wisdom; the wisdom of this age is not always in alignment with God.

Godly wisdom is pure, full of truth, love, and has the best interests of everyone involved considered. Godly wisdom is holy; it is without sin.

Our culture promotes immorality and sensuality. It is ungodly. The movies and tv promote immorality without ever truly showing the depths of the consequences for immoral choices.

Our culture also promotes the lie that sex or marriage will complete a person.

As stated last post, casual sex is promoted. Not only is casual sex promoted so is love at first sight, magical/mystical/over romanced/over sexualized relationships. Many of these relationships disregard wisdom, true God love, or God’s truths. They sound good, may look good, yet they do not hold onto goodness as you fast forward to when reality sets into the picture.

Ex: Henry and Julie who fell in love find out a year later after the honeymoon period is over that they have nothing in common that’s not physical, they the thrill is gone, they fight over money, they hate each other’s families, and they are miserable. This scenario rarely makes it to the big screen. Henry and Julie maybe pursued lust/feelings over wisdom and love. Then we see them break up (if unmarried) or divorce.

Follow Jesus:

Jesus is love, therefore pursuing God is pursuing love. God helps us to love ourselves and others. When God is first, the voids in our lives are filled by God. We then make decisions out of unselfish, sacrificial love not lust (which is about pleasing self), selfishness, desperation, or loneliness. God fills all the empty places so we enter relationships prepared to give, not with our hands out to receive or be made whole by an imperfect human. Only God can completely fill the voids of the soul and spirit. God solidifies identity, not a mate.

When God is first, He can bring in an equal complement/companion. Otherwise there may be a temptation to pursue a match that is less that God’s best. There are no perfect people, there are God matches that are better together than apart.

Wisdom says, “Will the relationship add value for both people? Is God at the center? Can we grow together? Is there mutual effort? Are we headed the same direction? How does this person handle life, conflict, money? Would God or my close friends/family choose this person for me? Is this person even interested in a lifelong partnership with me? Can we be allies? Are we friends?

If things do not work out, are we leaving the person in better shape than they were before they met us? Or are they in need of deep inner healing after connecting to us? Seriously think about what you bring to the table. Is it good? Does it add value?

The people who engage in sex outside of marriage are robbing a future spouse of intimacy with that person and their own future spouse. The one who engages in pornography is robbing themselves of deep intimacy and understanding of what God intended with sex. His design was always about love; unselfish, committed, holy, powerful, intimate, sacrificial love. The devil invites people to cheapen the most intimate act between a man and woman.

Love is willing to slow down and pray. Love is willing to evaluate the situation and relationship with God. Love wants to keep God in first place. Love pursues purity. Love is willing to set boundaries that offer protection of both people. Love is who God is.

Pursue Wisdom:

Let’s venture into another part of process, pursuing wisdom. I have met many people hurt because they forsook wisdom.

Ex: Susie likes John so she starts having dreams that he is the one. Obviously God speaks in dreams, so she should grab ahold to that dream and start planning their wedding in her head (not wisdom). Hit the mega pause button. I have seen women do this and ignore the actions of John. John is a jerk and mistreats everyone, yet there is this dream/prophetic word-so Susie holds on for dear life only to find out later John never wanted to marry her, or worse they get married and he’s an abuser.

Red Alert: Every dream, vision, prophetic word needs tested. Every single one. Do not just run with a “word” or “impression” or “dream” without testing it to see if it’s truly God. I do not care who the prophet was who gave that word, it needs tested and confirmed. The devil speaks and can invade dreams, impressions, visions.

If you think you heard from God about someone, pray and put that word on the shelf. I recommend praying, “God show me who this person really is,” and watching them. How do they treat you? Do you always initiate contact? Do they invest in you at all? How does being with this person impact your life? Are you constantly confused about where you stand with that person? Are they controlling, mean, unloving? Do they treat you with love, respect, honor?

Too many times people fall for who they want someone to be instead of who they really are. Would you let your best friend marry someone like the person you are interested in? If not, why are you in that relationship?

I have seen women chase men like they are Jesus then end up disappointed they are rejected. Relationships are not mean to be like the animal kingdom; chase, pursue, conquer. They are supposed to be about love. Love involves mutual pursuit.

Evaluate your relationship:

Is your relationship life giving? Or are you in tears or upset most of the time? God wants His very best for you, for everyone. God ordained matchups still have challenges, they should not be loaded with confusion, uncertainty, abuse, pain, and suffering.

I have also seen both men and women cling to the idea that someone loves them or is interested in them who will not commit to them nor express their intentions.

Ex: Karla has been into Jerry for years. Jerry flirts and is nice yet has never asked her on a date, never expressed interest, and does nothing to initiate contact or getting to know each other. Karla is convinced his flirting when he sees her is more than it is.

I work in a predominately male environment and they have told me, “We flirt because it’s fun. It makes us feel good.” Therefore there is no intention of a relationship. For the unsaved person there may be an intention of a hook up, but not marriage or a serious relationship.

Get Wisdom! Ask for discernment.

“Discernment is more than the ability to differentiate between right and wrong. It is the ability to differentiate between right and almost right.”

Wisdom looks at the future as well as the present. Wisdom prays and seeks godly counsel. Wisdom is a life preserver. Wisdom says, “Where is God in this situation? Are we are good match? Spiritually are we on the same page? Can we grow together? Is this someone God would choose for me? Are my God expectations on this person when they should be on God? How does this person treat people, including me? Does this person demonstrate any of the fruit of the Spirit?”

Papa God I pray every unmarried person pursues Jesus and wisdom. I bind any spirits of impatience, deception, selfishness, lust, false dreams/false prophecies, and declare soul health. Come Lord Jesus and fill every soul with your love, peace, joy, and purity. Fill every person to overflowing. Impart godly wisdom and truth. Help each person make wise decisions about relationships. Prepare each person for what you have for them. Heal all past relational wounding, in Jesus powerful name. Amen.

Put Prayer On It (Single & Following Jesus Part VI)

Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?~Amos 3:3.

This was my devotion yesterday on Facebook, yet thought it may bless singles here. Here is the link to my author site if you wish to connect there Erin Lamb Author Page. I post devotions, encouraging words almost daily.

Before you date, court, pursue a business deal, say yes, sign up for that ministry thing, ask God before connecting/partnering with other people. God sees the heart and true motivation.

One of my favorite prayers is, "God show me who this person really is."

It's easy for people to smile, do the Christian nice thing (some are not even nice), or go along when there is something they want. Yet God sees the heart. God sees the core of us, even the things we do not see.

I give people about a year before I truly let my guard down and during that time I pray, "God do I need to be connected to this person? Please reveal their heart." Sometimes what flows out of them during that year is unloving, unkind, grossly selfish, etc…I thank God for the reveal. I am simply watching and assessing how they treat me and other people. Someone who is kind to those they deem important and rude to those they do not feel are important is not a kind person.

I love all, trust few, and am close friends with few. Why? My inner circle is reserved for people who genuinely care about me and treat me and others with respect, honor, dignity.

Our actions are always screaming over our words. Our words reveal our heart. Sometimes people are nice to everyone else and hateful to me. Why? I ask God to reveal their heart. God goes, "Here, this is what you are dealing with, you decide how to proceed."

I love all people, I am not friends or partners with all people. Some, I love and the information in my life is guarded from them. Why? They are not trustworthy. The Bible says, "You will know a tree by it's fruit." It is wisdom to seek God over friendships, dating, partnership, business, and even ministry. How can two be joined together lest they agree?

A Tree and It's Fruit

"Beware of the false prophets, [teachers] who come to you dressed as sheep [appearing gentle and innocent], but inwardly are ravenous wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them [that is, by their contrived doctrine and self-focus]. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the unhealthy tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore, by their fruit you will recognize them [as false prophets],~Jesus (Matthew 7:15-20).

My core values are:

  1. Love, respect, honor of all people not just those deemed important.
  2. Build people up instead of tear them down.
  3. Represent (re present) Jesus to those around me; reveal the Fathers heart.
  4. Honesty and integrity.
  5. Seeking to do no harm to anyone.
  6. Caring about others.
  7. Releasing who lives inside (Holy Spirit)

Connection with likeminded people brings forth greater fruit. It helps us to grow stronger. Those who build us up in love are so beneficial. Those who repeadily tear us down are not. Sometimes our mental, emotional, and physical health is compromised due to our associations and friendships.

Papa God, guard our hearts and lives from sheep in wolves clothing. Protect us from linking arms with those who do not love well or seek our harm. Help us to walk in wisdom, love, peace, and joy. You know who is best to be a part of our lives and who is not. Protect us from the wrong associations, the wrong friendships, the wrong partnerships. Help us to be connected to those who will love us like Jesus. Bring in the right friends, associates, partners. Give us eyes that examine fruit, not judge, yet see fruit. In Jesus powerful name, amen.

Love in Christ,

Erin Lamb

Prayer & Discernment 

Photo Source: Pinterest

Morning Devotion: Give it 12 months and pray (talk about relationships (friendships and marriage)). Prayer at the end. 

I grew up in the church, my dad is a pastor/evangelist/chaplain. My mom prophetic, a teacher, preacher, and quite discerning. They taught me oh so very much. One of the greatest things they taught and modeled was agape love and prayer. I was taught to pray expecting God to show up. He has! My word, He has. My parents also modeled sacrificial, lavish love. We were taught to love everyone and be generous. They are part of my family culture. 

One thing I will add to what they taught me is look at the fruit of someone’s life who wishes to connect with you. The character and fruit matter so much more than their words, gifting, or performance. Jesus said you will know a tree by its fruit, not it’s gifting, words, church attendance, performance. 

How many of you pray about the people who want to befriend you or for singles, date you? 

How many pray about the opportunities presented? 

How many look for good fruit in the person’s life or with that business, church, or organization? 

How do they treat people? What is their track record? 

Some Good Fruit: Love, respect, honor, taking responsibility for actions, honesty, integrity, kindness, self control, wisdom, peace, handles conflict instead of avoids it, keeps their word, keeps confidences, loyalty, things bloom/get better with their addition, value added, you are better because of the situation, seeks to build up instead of perpetually tear down, tells you what you need to hear, not just what tickles your ears, treats your heart like it’s theirs, unselfish, fair/just, free of control and manipulation. 

You see there is good, and there is God. There is good, and there is His very best. God gives good gifts. 

I am not stating run from every person who is not perfect; there are no perfect people btw. I am not saying run from broken people either. Everyone has something God is working on in their lives. I am saying look for some good fruit, examine character; prayer may save you some unnecessary drama and trauma. 

We are called to love everyone. We are not required to be best friends, confidants, or partners with everyone. 

Every opportunity is not God sent. Every cute or handsome person may not make a great spouse. Every person who tries to befriend you at church does not make a good friend. Every person who says, “I love you. You are like family or my best friend,” does not necessarily mean those words. You must look for fruit. Actions scream over words. 

It’s easy for people to put their best foot forward at first. The goal is (maybe) to impress the other person, connect, and for some to latch on to the other person. The trouble comes when masks fall off and you see the real deal. We are still to love people (seek to do no intentional harm, look for ways to bless them). Yet it is better to know before your heart is entangled or connected if that person is going to put your heart through a meat shredder. 

I placed 12 months on relationships (trial period) because, from experience, you begin to see more of the real person after a year. Some people can pretend for much longer. Yet I have noticed after a year the guard is lowered a bit and you get to see more transparency. Each person do what is best for you. It is not a law, just an observation. 

God wants you and me treated with respect, love, honor, and dignity. 

When I meet people and they have this toxic relationship going on, some will say, “God brought this person into my life.” So I ask, “Would you set someone you love to be in a relationship with someone who treated them this way?” The answer is normally no. Yet there is a belief that God desires less for His kids. 

There is a misbelief that God enjoys the hurt, heartache, abuse, and suffering of His children. He does not. This is a lie based off the treatment of Jesus. The Father delighted in the redemption of mankind through His Son. He did not delight in watching humanity mistreat Jesus. God loves His Son. He also loves you. 

So, with many learning bumps on this heart I have learned and am learning to do the following. 

1. Pray. 

Lord You know this person and their heart/character. Please reveal it to me. Help me not to connect with people who will leave my heart shattered or beat up. You bring in the people who are loving, trustworthy, good, kind, and will leave my heart better than before. 

Lord show me who this person really is. 

Lord is this opportunity a blessing from You or just a distraction or a setup to be mistreated/used? 

2. Pay attention. 

I am speaking from experience, not “Thus sayeth the Lord.” God does not always come out and tell me, “This person is up to no good.” Mostly they show me through their actions. Their words and actions conflict. They reveal two faces. There is disparity between what they say and live. If you remove their words and just look at their actions, you see their character. God will also sometimes reveal their heart/character in dreams. 

3. Love the person with appropriate boundaries. 

It’s easy to throw people in the garbage. We throw trash in the garbage, not people. Just because someone is not the best fit for us, does not make them worthless. No one is worthless. Pray for the person. You may seek ways to bless them. It does not mean you tell them the inner parts of your world or bond like besties. It does not mean you are forced to spend time with them or give them access to you. 

There are people I love, yet my connection with them is limited based on their behavior that brings drama, trauma, chaos. If they were hungry, I would feed them. Naked, I would clothe them. I pray for them. I am not inclined to treat them like my confidant. 

Papa God thank You that You love us all. Thank You that You are good. Thank You that you answer prayers and we can trust You. You know the perfect matches and opportunities for us. You know it all. Give us Your eyes and discernment. Cast out fear and suspicion by Your great love. Help us to make wise choices in relationships. Help us to be a tremendous blessing to everyone. Bring in Your choices for friends, mates, opportunities. Thank You for the ability to choose ourselves, yet we invite You in as the One who knows all and loves us more than anyone else. You desire Your very best for us. Heal any wounds from the not so great connections, make us whole. In Jesus mighty name amen. 

Spiritual GPS (Holy Spirit Series Part 9)

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1 Corinthians 2:12-14

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually perceived.

The Holy Spirit has many roles and functions in our lives. One of the most profound ones is providing wisdom. God is perfect in wisdom. He tells us that those who lack wisdom should ask Him. God sees all and knows all. Why wouldn’t we want His insight, help, and wisdom?

Self guided or Spirit led?

Life teaches us that the choices we make have consequences. So, learning to be led by God’s Spirit is crucial for peace and the abundant life.

Some of the things I’ve learned, and am learning from life with the Holy Spirit.

1. If it Doesn’t Seem Right or There’s an Absence of Peace-Wait.

There are things God will ask us to do that fill us with uncertainty. Those things do not violate His Word. He may ask you to reach out to a neighbor, pray for a stranger, or get out of your comfort zone. It takes discernment to know what’s our fear, and what’s a stop or check in our spirit that we should wait or not move forward. He is willing to provide confirmation.

Lessons Learned:
God has been stretching my faith by asking me to pour into strangers. How do you speak into someone’s life and not come off pushy, weird, or like a stalker? So, I held onto many prophetic words or visions. Finally when I had the courage to share, the people responded the timing was perfect. God had the waiting (my hesitation) already built into the equation.

2. Pay Attention to Red Lights and Warnings.

When you get a red light, “Don’t go there. Watch what you’re saying or how you’re treating this person. This isn’t a good plan,” listen. You may not hear Him speak directly to you, yet it won’t feel right. He will even use others to point to truth. God not only speaks to us, but through others.

Lessons Learned:
There was this man who was pursuing me for a relationship. I always pray in relationships, “God show me who this person truly is.” Gosh, it’s a prayer He always answers. The Lord spoke to me that the man wasn’t who he appeared to be. I did not listen because he was so kind. Eventually I saw he was not following Jesus. He said all the right things. He talked about God. The more I prayed, the shadier his behavior became. I could have saved time and headache by listening to God. Don’t ignore the red lights. God says no because He loves us.

3. Get the Word of God in You.

I have heard people say they don’t need or read the Bible. They rely on the Spirit.

Friends, we need the Bible.

I had an interaction with a person on social media once. They stated the Holy Spirit told them they did not need to read the Bible. Many things the person said violated Scripture. They believed everyone went to heaven, and hell was just a ploy to scare people. They believed evil people weren’t really humans, but demons imitating people.

The Holy Spirit will not violate the Word of God. He cannot lie or betray Himself. He does expand our understanding, but His revelation does not violate the nature of God. If we don’t know the Word, we can just go by what we think and feel which is dangerous. God will not tell us to lie, steal, cheat, be unfaithful, gossip, lust, covet, etc…

4. Everyday Decisions and Life Choices.

I’ve not had God tell me to brush my teeth or go to work or what to wear. He gave us a functional brain. If you’ve used GPS, you know it normally only provides instructions when they are needed…Turn here….Go Left…Recalculating! The Holy Spirit is smarter than a GPS, thank goodness. He will alert you when a direction needs to change, when a behavior needs to change, when you need to turn around. Otherwise, keep going! Unless you have do not have the Holy Spirit, you’ve hardened your heart or seared your conscience, you’ll get a tug when you’re headed the wrong way. And if you’re not listening, He will send someone to correct you. God corrects those He calls a son or daughter.

What to Choose?:
My first mission trip I had two choices-Costa Rica or Brazil. I wanted both places. I already speak Spanish, so I felt a tug to CR. The Brazil team needed a worship leader and I had just picked up a guitar. God did not point to a map and say, “Go to this place.” I’m not saying He couldn’t or wouldn’t. He didn’t. I chose Brazil. It was an amazing choice. I made lifelong friends and fell head over hills with love for Brazil. Would CR have been the same? I don’t know. I do know I followed my heart and was blessed. It set me on course to be a worship leader. CR already had worship leaders. Brazil was my first time leading and it was stretching. When I returned to Brazil years later I was able to preach for the first time. Brazil holds my heart!

Life Altering Choices:
I believe in asking God for guidance on things that will impact our lives and cannot be easily changed, like marriage or moving across the country.

Marriage (til death do you part):
I had a man tell me recently that as long as two people love God they can make a marriage work. I’ve seen numerous Christian marriages fail and they both loved God when they got married. It takes more than love for Jesus to make a relationship work. There’s compatibility, friendship, communication, attraction, and many other factors that come into play. I sent him on his way to find his wife.

Wisdom says, “You don’t have to accept everything that’s offered to you.” God knows us better than we know ourselves, and He wants the best for us.

May you and I rely on God’s wisdom! He knows the plans God has for us and they are GOOD (Jeremiah 29:11).

Love in Christ,

Erin

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Encounter (Holy Spirit Series Part 7)

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There are so many wonderful things I could say about the Holy Spirit. Tonight I wanted to share more testimonies that will hopefully fuel your faith.

I gave my life to Jesus when I was 7 years old. My parents are pastors. So, I grew up hearing about Jesus and watching them live like Jesus. I saw them open our home to the poor, widows, orphans, and even those who had done horrible things to them. I watched my parents love the man who murdered their oldest son and never served a day in jail for the crime. I didn’t know at the time that their love was a display of one the Holy Spirit’s greatest works-agape love.

My first realization of His work in my life came on Easter when I was 7. I was watching the Easter movie about Jesus. When it came time for Him to go to the cross, I recall being overwhelmed with sorrow and love. I wept. This man gave His life to save mine. The Holy Spirit was so at work that day! I didn’t want to live another day without Him!

Like many Christians I thought God only spoke to special people, like pastors. 😉 Yet, there was this hunger in me for Him that couldn’t be quenched. There were so many things I couldn’t understand, like walking in a place and being able to know if it was good or bad. My mom said I had an uncanny knack of knowing spiritual atmospheres. Later learned it is the gift of discerning spirits.

It wasn’t until college I begin to hear God speak to me. A still voice would bring scriptures to mind, line by line. I had to look them up because my memory was never excellent at memorizing scripture. I began to journal, date, and log those versus. I still have some of those journals. He moved from speaking scripture to providing wisdom, and insight. I keep a journal with me at all times to document what He’s speaking.

Knowing (Prompted to Pray):

One night at a Sunday night worship gathering I was caught up in worship (meaning really into it). I was joyful, excited, and happy. At one point sorrow hit me so profound I felt as if I wanted to die. This was so strange. I began to cry big crocodile tears. I excused myself to the restroom. I begin to pray. I didn’t know what else to do. After awhile the grief lifted. Days later I was talking to a friend and she confessed she was going to take her own life. She said Sunday night she had it all planned. A light bulb went off for me. I asked what time? She said that evening. It was the exact time I was hit with grief. She said something like a wave of God’s love hit her and she couldn’t go through with it.

Healed in a Moment/Delivered in a Minute:

I told you last post about being trapped in my car under water. Well, after that incident, I had awful panic attacks in enclosed spaces. Mainly in my car. I would have to get out of the situation as quickly as possible, or otherwise be overcome with fear. I went to my pastor at the time for prayer. He wanted me to go to counseling. I’m not against counseling. I’m pro take it to God first. I left church discouraged. I drove around worshipping and talking to God. I told The Lord , “I never want to feel this way again. I know You can fix this.” It was in a moment that I felt extreme warmth surge through my body. Fear was gone. I didn’t have anyone pray for me or lay hands on me. God did a complete work in one minute.

He did the same thing for my heart. Years before that awful car accident, I had a bad reaction to medication during a routine surgery and almost died. The outcome was a healthy teenager came out on heart meds and seeing specialists. I told God I knew He healed. Jesus paid for healing. I’m happy to say my heart is healthy!!!! This happened with me and God. One moment changed my life, one act of faith.

There are people who travel all over to see miracle workers or “super” spiritual people. The Miracle Worker is God alone. The Spirit of God is in every born again believer. He doesn’t come in percentages and is fully God. There are so many breakthroughs that can happen with just you and God. I’m an ordinary person who has suffered quite a bit and seen God bring miracle after miracle! I’m thankful for every person who refused to help or could not help because it’s taught me to rely fully on God. Yes, we need people too. God is everything. He is my everything. The Holy Spirit is all powerful. So, I encourage you to fan the flame of your love for God! Get into the secret place with Him. Get to know Him for yourself. Know the Author of the Book (the Bible). Encounter Him. Let Him encounter you!

Greater is He who is in you than in the entire world!~1 John 4:4.

Love in Christ,

Erin

Know, Speak, Do (Holy Spirit Series Part 5)

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I know we took a week off from the Holy Spirit Series. I want to jump back in to talk about the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We talked about what they are a few posts ago. I want to encourage you not to limit God to a list. The Holy Spirit is fully God and can manifest His Presence in ways we may not understand.

Scriptures are filled with stories of ordinary people encountering an extraordinary God. Has God changed or have our expectations of what He will do changed? I truly believe we don’t expect much from God anymore. Since we in the Western world have so many options, it’s easy to bypass God. We rely on ourselves, others, intellect, or our abundant resources.

On missions we’ve seen more people giving their hearts to God, healed of sickness and diseases, and encountering God in powerful ways.

What’s the purpose of all these gifts of the Spirit?

To build up the body of Christ. To demonstrate the love of Christ. Love and power combine to bring heaven to earth.

Let’s look at the gifts coupled with the fruit of the Spirit.

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The attributes of God are manifest through the gifts.

Knowing Gifts:
Words of Wisdom:

This is a revelation gift.

…this gift involves having a sense of divine direction, being led by the Holy Spirit to act appropriately in a given set of circumstances, and rightly applying knowlege.

The gift of wisdom is the wisdom of God. It is the supernatural impartation of facts; it is not natural. You can’t earn it. It is received from God through prayer (Ephesians 1:17).

Words of Knowledge:

A word of knowledge is a definite conviction, impression, or knowing that comes to you in a similitude (a mental picture), a dream, through a vision, or by a Scripture that is quickened to you. It is supernatural insight or understanding of circumstances, situations, problems, or a body of facts by revelation; that is, without assistance by any human resource but solely by divine aid.

Discerning of Spirits:

Discerning of spirits is the supernatural ability given by the Holy Spirit to perceive the source of a spiritual manifestation and determine whether it is of God (Acts 10:30-35), of the devil (Acts 16:16-18), of man (Acts 8:18-23), or of the world. It is not mind reading, psychic phenomena, or the ability to criticize and find fault.

Discernment will also enable you to recognize the Holy Spirit in another person.

Speaking Gifts:
Tongues:

Supernatural utterance in languages not known to the speaker; these languages may be existent in the world, revived from some past culture, or “unknown” in the sense that they are a means of communication inspired by the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 28:11; Mark 16:17; Acts 2:4, 10:44-48, 19:1-7; I Corinthians 12:10, 13:1-3, 14:2, 4-22, 26-32).

The spiritual gift involving ability to speak in foreign language(s) not previously studied or to respond to experience of the Holy Spirit by uttering sounds which those without the gift of interpretation could not understand. At Pentecost the church received the gift to communicate the gospel in foreign languages (Acts 2). God gave His Spirit to all His people to empower them to witness and prophesy. In Corinth some members of the church uttered sounds the rest of the congregation did not understand (I Corinthians 12-14). This led to controversy and division. Paul tried to unite the church, assuring the church that there are different gifts but only one Spirit (I Corinthians 12:4-11).

Interpretation of Tongues:

Interpretation of tongues is a supernatural verbalization and subsequent interpretation to reveal the meaning of a diverse tongue. This gift operates out of the mind of the Spirit rather than out of the mind of man.

Prophecy:

Prophesy is speaking God’s words and agenda for the building up of the Body and others. It is to encourage, edify, warn, and correct. Paul tells us about prophecy in 1 Corinthians 14:1.

Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives–especially the ability to prophesy,~1 Corinthians 14:1.

All prophecy is to be tested. Meaning we take what’s said and weigh it against God’s word and character.

Prophecy is divinely inspired and anointed utterance; a supernatural proclamation in a known language. It is the manifestation of the Spirit of God – not of intellect (I Corinthians 12:7), and it may be possessed and operated by all who have the infilling of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 14:31).

Doing Gifts:
Faith for Miracles (Gift of Faith):

The gift of faith is the supernatural ability to believe God without doubt, combat unbelief, and visualize what God wants to accomplish. It is not only an inner conviction impelled by an urgent and higher calling, but also a supernatural ability to meet adverse circumstances with trust in God’s words and messages.

Healing:

The gift of healings refers to supernatural healing; it is a special gift to pray for specific diseases.

Healing can come through the touch of faith (James 5:14-15); by speaking the word of faith (Luke 7:1-10); or by the presence of God being manifested (Mark 6:56; Acts 19:11-12).

Miracles:

The greatest miracle is salvation.

A miracle is the performance of something which is against the laws of nature; it is a supernatural power to intervene and counteract earthly and evil forces. The word miracles comes from the Greek word dunamis which means “power and might that multiplies itself.” The gift of miracles operates closely with the power gifts of faith and healings to bring authority over Satan, sickness, sin, and the binding forces of this age.

Miracles can also be defined as supernatural intercessions of God. God exhorts us with energy to do something that is not natural or normal to us. Just as the ministry gift of miracles is the expression of prayer, so is the function of the Holy Spirit to direct our prayers (Romans 8:26).

Italasized text from Christcenteredmall.

The gifts of the Spirit are available to all believers. Some believe if a gift isn’t apparent in their life, then that’s it. Paul encouraged people to desire and ask God for the gifts. Gifts as stated before are not signs of spiritual maturity or to be used to abuse people. They are to be led by the Holy Spirit and measured by the fruit of the Spirit.

Father, I ask we would fully believe the Holy Spirit is capable of all things. He is fully God. He can do all things. Help us to rely fully on Him. In Jesus powerful name, amen.