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.

Live in Reality (Single & Following Jesus Series Part VII)

Aloha friends.

Today I wanted to chat about living in reality and being realistic.

We live in a world of reality tv which does not always represent reality. We live in a world that promotes fantasy (what feels good to you, act that out).

God invites us into reality with Him. Why? God’s reality is rooted in truth, His wisdom, and holiness.

Fantasy is often rooted in seduction, lust, and deception.

Imagination is God given and can be holy; fantasy is normally rooted in pretending.

God invites us into His truth and holiness. Believing God’s truth sets us free. Believing the devil leads to bondage.

Culture vs. God’s Kingdom:

You see movies of two people falling instantly in love then bed together. They sleep together and live happily ever after right? They do not show you the people dumped after a one night stand, the pregnancies and abortions after one night stands, the sexually transmitted diseases contracted, the new demonic spirits transferred between two people, the tears on the soul, nor the decreased ability to bond to another person after casual sex. The devil never talks to people about negative consequences of stepping outside God’s boundaries. He presents something that seems good, will bring temporary pleasure, yet will not bring lasting joy and satisfaction.

The same goes with pornography. It was not until recently studies popped up showing the detriment of this activity. Fantasy in this area leads to lack of genuine love, decreased genuine intimacy with a real human, and is often the gateway for more illicit choices. Many who later participate in human trafficking (buying slaves or engaging in prostitution/abuse) started with pornography; it devalues humans and reduces them to objects instead of people.

What is Reality?

Reality is God highly values all people and they are not objects to be used for pleasure, they are people to be loved.

Godly love involves commitment, protection, and stewarding the heart of another person well. It is a love that says, “I want to honor you so I am willing to do things God’s way. I will safe guard this relationship so it brings God glory and honors you. I will not take from you without committing to you, for that is stealing what I am unwilling to cherish for life. I want to steward the gifts you are offering me of your time, resources, body, heart, and life. I want to be in covenant with you which is bound by a commitment to sacrificial, unselfish, God given love.”

Let’s talk about another form of fantasy. It happens when people start planning their marriage before their first date or idolizing someone they just met. Why is this dangerous? The person you may end up marrying may not be that person you made up in your head or the person sitting across from you at coffee. Pursuing a fantasy relationship (the made up one in the head) leads to gross disappointment when facing reality.

The made up John may cook, clean, leave roses and romantic cards. The real life John may just take out the trash.

I have seen way too many people fall in love with the idea or marriage or the idea of a person and end up grossly disappointed with reality.

Reality is until that person says, “I do,” they are not your spouse. In your head you can paint a wild, vivid fantasy that amounts to nothing. Why? Until they say, “I do,” they can still choose to walk away from the situation.

Reality is what that person shows you is what you are dealing with and have to take home. People are not projects. I have heard so many women say they will change their husband only to find out they (their spouse) has zero desire to change. They envisioned John the romantic. The reality is they got John the couch potato. In their fantasy they would marry John and make him like the Señor Suave in their head. Reality was John had zero desire to be what the fantasy was so he refused. I still tell people to pray God shows you before you say, “I do,” what you are dealing with in a partner.

Reality is marriage requires work. It as painted as an every day, all day love fest. Yet get some couples as friends who have been married awhile. They will tell you that it requires some work. Get more than just your parents who may withhold some of the deep challenges.

Reality is treating that other person like a brother or sister in the Lord or friend until their is a level of commitment. Giving yourself away, being too available/vulnerable, not setting great boundaries (including emotional/physical), and treating someone not your spouse like a spouse is the set up for heartache. We were not intended to bond with dozens of people then break up. God set up bonding and intimacy so we could form life long bonds. If you take two pieces of paper and glue them together then rip them apart, there is tearing. Neither piece remains whole.

Reality is being single is not a curse nor indication of being inferior/rejected. Jesus had no earthly wife. Paul had no wife. Mother Teresa had no husband. I would not say any of these people were cursed, without purpose, nor inferior beings. They went about doing the will of the Father. Desiring marriage is not a bad thing. Thinking it somehow improves your worth is a bad thing.

I do not know the exact map of my life nor the map of others. I do know God is good. Time can be wasted worrying or stressing over what is not happening verses enjoying who God is. In the presence of God is fullness of joy. I do know fantasy robs us of experiencing the joy of the Lord.

Papa God, for anyone who reads this that is caught up in fantasy instead of reality, I ask for your Holy Spirit to wash over them from the tops of their heads to the soles of their feet. I bind any and all seducing spirits and spirits of lust. I ask you would loose your love, peace, joy, and power. Reveal every lie they have come into agreement with that is blocking freedom. Every idol come crashing down. Holy Spirit of truth permeate every part of their being. Every addiction be bound. I ask you Lord for total freedom, inner healing, and deliverance by the power of your anointing. I decree and declare freedom from living outside Godly reality. In Jesus powerful name. Amen.

Love in Christ,

Erin

Purpose (Identity in Christ Part 15)

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For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future, Jeremiah 29:11.

In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps, Proverbs 16:9.

I know, O LORD, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps, Jeremiah 10:23.

People can wander aimlessly their entire lives and never live the abundant life Christ died to give them. There is a reason for each of us to  be alive. God does not make mistakes and every life has a divine purpose. The world says, “Focus on what’s temporary. Earn the most money, have the biggest house, car, material possessions, the best spouse, focus on your family, yourself. Have the best body. Become the most famous. Do what feels good for you.”  God says, “Put Me first. Seek first My Kingdom and everything you need will be added unto you (Matt 6:33).” The world makes the purpose of life to please ourselves and those around us. God says the purpose of life is to know Him, enjoy Him, be loved by Him, make His name famous in the earth, to become more like Him, and to love others. How backwards the world is to His Kingdom.

We also live in a world that tries to make God unnecessary. If He is not made to be unnecessary, then He is a means to get what we want. People go to God with their plans and purposes and say, “Here God, bless my agenda. Bless what I want.” God is a loving Father who longs to give us good things. However, He knows all, sees all, and loves us more than anyone else. I am not sure we try to get Him on board with our plans instead of seeking Him for His. He is perfect. We are flawed. He knows all, we know little. He loves us, we don’t always fully love ourselves. He is not a means to get what we want. He paid the ultimate price so we could be heirs with Him. We are no longer our own, but we belong to Someone great.

You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men, 1 Corinthians 7:23.

You were bought for a price. So bring glory to God in the way you use your body, 1 Corinthians 6:20.

But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?'”, Isaiah 45:9.

So what does this mean exactly? Does it mean I need to ask God what type of toilet paper to buy, what clothes to wear, or what to eat? Not exactly. God gave us a brain and expects us to use them. He most likely will not tell us to shower, brush our teeth, or eat food to live. There are some things in life I believe we need to talk to God about, decisions that have the ability to impact our lives on earth until eternity. I believe if we are seeking God with all our hearts, our minds, and our souls we will be led by the Holy Spirit to make the right choices. It does not mean we will not fail, mess up, or misunderstand God. It does not mean God will always tell us what we want to hear. It does mean that living our lives seeking first His Kingdom leads to eternal blessings. Seeking God can only lead to blessings. Choosing our own way can lead to disaster. Think of it this way…

If we honor God with our bodies, He is glorified.

If we honor God with money, then we have the potential to help and bless others by building His Kingdom.

If we honor God by sharing the Gospel, then we can partner with God to see more people enter His Kingdom.

If we honor God with our relationships, then we can see others become more like Christ.

If we put God first, we become more like Him and are able to enjoy His presence.

What if the story of our lives is not only being written by God, it is about God? The truth is, the story is about Him. You may say, “How can God make everything about Him?” Well, He’s God. He can do anything He wants. He’s not a dictator. He is not cruel. He is love. He is good. He is the King of the Universe. There is no one above Him. He has given us full  access to Him-to the One who is perfect, wise, and good. He knows why we are here. If we want to know the purpose of something, we don’t ask the thing-we ask the one who created it. God created everything in the earth. Every human being His idea. He is the one to seek for purpose. Bless you friends! Love, Erin.

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Follow the Leader (Identity in Christ Part 14)

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Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does, John 5:19.

By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me, John 5:30.

For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me, John 6:38.

For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it, John 12:29.

Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me, John 12:26.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me, Matthew 16:24.

Following Jesus

There are quite a few verses above. Tonight, I wanted to talk about following Jesus. We are co-heirs with Christ, which means we are linked to Him. Not only are we linked to Him, considered family, we are called to follow Him. We live in a world that is obsessed with independence and doing things our own way. The world says, “Get yours. Do your thing. Think about yourself. It’s your world.” God has a completely different plan and purpose for our lives. Jesus modeled for us what our lives could be if we abide in Him. He said, “Follow Me.”

What does it mean to follow Jesus? It seems like a simple question. It’s more than doing what we are told. Obedience to God is important, but God is looking for more than our checking the box. God is looking at the heart. God knows why we do what we do. God doesn’t say, “Try harder.” He does repeatedly say, “Come to Me. Abide in Me. Rely on Me.” If we could do it on our own, we wouldn’t need a Savior.

I believe following Jesus starts with  relationship. Jesus died for us to be in relationship with Him. It’s not easy to follow a stranger. Following God begins with getting to know Him. Think about it. If a stranger showed up and said, “Do what I say or do as I do,” your response would most likely be, “No way. I don’t know you.” Many times we struggle because we don’t know Jesus. We know of Him. We’ve read the His Word. We go to church. However, we don’t know Jesus personally. He’s a figure, someone we hear about and read about. We obey out of obligation not love. Now think about the person you know loves you the most, would do anything for you, the one you trust the most. If they said, “Follow me,” you’d be more inclined to go.

We can spend years going to church and miss Jesus. Why? Because relationship with God is supposed to be a personal thing. Corporate worship equips us, points us to  Him, and enable us to engage in fellowship with other believers. It does not replace or substitute a relationship with God.

The Building of a Relationship

It starts with Jesus. In order to have a relationship with the Father, we start by a relationship with Son. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him,” John 14:6-7.

Submission to the Holy Spirit. God is with us everywhere. We are the temple where the Holy Spirit dwells. The Holy Spirit is a part of the Trinity. He works in us to teach us, lead us, guide us, and enable us to become more like Jesus. If we yield our lives to Him, we will see tremendous fruit and a flourishing relationship. He is often that still small voice that says, “This is not a good idea.” Or the nudge in your spirit to apologize, make something right, to flee from sin, to confess your sins, or to spend time with God.

We are blessed to listen to the Holy Spirit. We are told not to quench or grieve the Holy Spirit. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption, 1 Thess 5:19. Everything He leads us to do is right.

Time. We have heard the words “quiet time with God” and it makes some people cringe. It seems like an obligation. “I must spend time with God today for X amount of time.” Well, I don’t know about you, but I don’t like spending time with people who feel forced to. It’s awkward and not fun. I would much rather spend time with those who want to know me, be with me, and enjoy my  company. They don’t come to study me, they come to simply be with me.

What does it look like to be with God? Well, there are endless possibilities. I’ve found sweet encounters with God while gardening, painting, walking in the park, listening to the Bible, resting, worshiping, journaling, etc…I believe we need to read the word of God and study it. However, if we limit our only time with God as reading the word for a certain amount of time we will grow bored. Some people come alive and can read the word for hours and they are satisfied. Others can not. God knows how to interact with each and every child.

Final Notes

Spending time with God, getting to know Him, enables us to trust Him. The more we get to know Him, the easier it is to follow Him. Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me,” John 10:27. When we know Him, following Him is not a burden but a privilege. It’s an honor to follow someone who was willing to die for you. Jesus died for us while we were guilty. I don’t know of anyone who would give their life for the guilty. Not only did He die for us, He cannot lie. God is completely trustworthy, kind, generous, compassionate, and good. We can rest assured that God will not hurt or harm us. So, when He says, “Pick up your cross and follow Me,” we can trust that where He is going, we want to go. We want to follow Jesus. We want the path that leads to life.

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Garbage in=Garbage Out

Philippians 4:8
New International Version (NIV)

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

God is so smart. Some people find Him in nature. I often find Him in science. In engineering we have a principle called a mass balance. Essentially what goes into a system comes out of a system. Even things that are absorbed during the process of chemical reactions impact the system. What you put in, is what will eventually come out. This also works for our minds.

I heard TD Jakes say, “rarely do people have fantasies of righteousness, dreams of good things happening, or the best outcome, or doing things to save the world. Most of the times our minds are filled with worry, doubt, unbelief, fantasies of sinning, anger, bad thoughts about people, dreams of how we can better our own lives instead of the world.” Why is that?

Garbage in=garbage out. What we watch, listen to, engage in, and open our minds and spirits to affects us. Listen to gossip for a long enough time, you will begin to gossip. Watch movies filled with lustful scenes all the time, you will begin to lust. What you take in, is what will come out. It’s inevitable. The passage above tells us to think on things that are good, pure, noble, praiseworthy,….the only way we are able to that is if we are purposefully filling our minds with good things. If we are purposefully spending time with God allowing Him to speak into our lives. If we are purposefully taking every thought captive and making it obedient to the Word of God. I am not saying you only read the Word, only spend time worshiping, or become a Monk. I am saying that whatever you repeatedly hear, you will begin to believe. What we open our minds to over and over plants seeds. Those seeds whether truth or lies, impact our spirits.

Fearful and worried thoughts are not from God. For there is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out fear.

Lustful thoughts are not from God. For love does not seeks its own pleasure but longs to do what is best for the other person. Lust seeks to take. Love seeks to give.∙        

Hateful thoughts are not from God. For love does not hate. Love rejoices with the truth, but loves those who sin. Love convicts, but does not condemn.        

Jealous and envious thoughts are not from God. For love is not jealous or envious. Love rejoices when someone else is blessed.

Rebellious thoughts are not from God. For love delights in doing the will of the Father. Submitting out of love and not obligation.        

Vengeful and spiteful thoughts are not from God. For love desires restoration to the Father over revenge.        

Controlling thoughts are not from God. For loves gives freedom and does not insist on its own way.

So, dear ones, may we guard our minds. The place where sin can easily creep in and begins to set up camp. May we take every thought captive and measure it against the Word. It’s seems like a painful task, but it is easier to demolish a thought, than a stronghold. Once we have dwelt on a lie or allowed sinful thoughts to take root in our minds, they are far more difficult to remove. May we put His Word in, and may His word come alive in us, working through us so we are transformed into the image of His glorious Son. In Jesus name, Amen.

Stronger

“We’re stronger in the places that we’ve been broken.” ― Ernest Hemingway

I am learning to box. Yes, fighting is fun until you get caught off guard and hit in the face. ☺ No worries, I am not out picking fights with people. It’s more for exercise and discipline. Life can be like a boxing match at times. You are all geared up, in the ring, ready to go, and out of the blue, BAM! Life hits you with a hefty upper cut and you are on the ground. You didn’t see it coming, but when you get up you realize something is broken.

I hate the word brokenness. It seems so final. I am broken. You are broken. It seems like such a negative word. Who wants to be broken? Mostly no one. However, as Ernest Hemingway stated and I am learning, we become the strongest in the places we have been broken. Just as our muscles become stronger after a strenuous workout, we (if we cooperate with God) become strong in the places where we have been broken. Here are some examples.

The person who’s been rejected learns to reach out to love others because they know what it feels like to be without love.

The person who’s been traumatized and abused reaches out to heal, comfort, encourage, and help those who are hurting.

The person who has failed repeatedly extends mercy to those who fail.

The person who suffers learns to help those who suffer.

The person who’s family life is beyond dysfunctional learns to be family for someone else.

The key to becoming stronger is allowing God in to every place that hurts and allowing Him to heal from the inside out. He is the Healer. Some of the most influential people I know have stories that would rock you to the core. You look at them and think, “How did they survive this?” And they use what happened to them to help others overcome. One word that I cling to is, “Don’t waste your pain.”  Use it. Use what life threw at you to destroy as a building block to help others and a stepping stone for your future. You can overcome. You can become stronger. God does not lie and He does not fail. He will use everything that happened to you to bring great glory to His name. You’ll look back years from now and say, “God is so faithful.” You are loved friends. You are deeply loved. The words I type to you, I type to me. We are more than conquerors through Christ who gives us strength. That strength is that same power that raised Christ from the dead. You are not without hope or a blessed future. Each day, may your heart grow stronger! Love, peace, and grace.