Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Year in Review

Welcome friends! I am glad you found my blog and I hope it is helpful to you!

I am going to try something new this month, a book give-away. If you comment on this month's blog posts, you will have a chance to win a copy of Jesus Calling - the devotional book that changed my life. So, leave a comment and check back the first week of January to see the winner!


Now on to my topic:
 
It is fitting to say that 2010 has been a year of miraculous change for me.  My New Year's resolution for  2010 was a simple commitment to pray.  I didn't even know for what I was going to pray or how to pray, but the story that unfolded  from that day in January until today is nothing short of miraculous. 

I awoke at 6AM as I had planned.  It was very dark outside, the temperature about 10 degrees.  I felt I was the only one awake in world.  All was quiet and still, but there was someone else awake in the house that morning and He was sitting at the table waiting to meet me for coffee.  And meet me He did!  God met me that day and everyday.  He was always there ready and waiting.  If we didn't meet, it was because I didn't show up.  But there were very few mornings that I didn't show up.  It became such a delight to me, I actually couldn't wait for our time together!

Now, I have to tell you, for my whole Christian life daily devotions were a struggle for me, no, let me be honest, they were non-existent!  The problem was, I didn't know how to have devotions.  I am ashamed to say that unless I was involved in a Bible study which required homework, I never cracked my Bible at home. 

Does reading the Bible and praying sound so borrrring you might not be able to stay awake?  Somewhere in the back of your mind do you have this idea that you must read through the Bible in a year?  Does the thought of plowing through several chapters in the Old Testament, several chapters in the New Testament plus 5 Psalms and 1 Proverb a day give you paralysis?  Yes, those were my sentiments exactly.  And yet, I knew I was supposed to be in the Word of God daily.  Secretly, I was envious of people who had the discipline to do this, but maybe you, like me, find that too overwhelming.  But it doesn't have to be like that!

When I was in college, a new song was released by Larnelle Harris called "I Miss My Time With You".  This song is written in first person with Jesus talking.  Every time I heard it, I felt a whisper across my heart from the Holy Spirit.  Many times I was so convicted I would turn it off when it came on the radio.  Here are the words that whispered across my heart:

I miss my time with you
Those moments together
I need to be with you each day
And it hurts me when you say
You're too busy
Busy trying to serve Me
But how can you serve Me
When your spirit's empty?
There's a longing in my heart
Wanting more than just a part
Of you.  It's true
I miss my time with you!


Have you noticed a common thread through all my December posts?  Christmas?  No, the common thread is about being in the presence of God in your "sacred place".  Until this year, I never had a sacred place.  So I want to describe how I found mine (the kitchen table) and what I do there.  In all my years as a believer, no one ever told me how to have a sacred time with God, but I want to share with you what I now know.
  • Set a time - be committed.  It's helpful if it's the same time each day.  Allow 30 min.
  •  Determine a place - you will need a place to write, so I recommend a table
  • Get a devotional book with daily readings - "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young is what I used
  • Read the daily reading
  • Look up and read the related Scriptures
  • Contemplate how God is speaking to your heart in regard to these verses
  • Journal - write your questions for God, your thoughts and your prayers (and don't forget to go back a write the answers God gives you
Truth be told,  we all want to see miracles in our lives.  We desire good health, both physically and mentally, loving marriages, and happy, vibrant children.  Do you want God to give you the desires of your heart?  Considering the verse below, what is the one thing we must do in order for God to fulfill His promise?
Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.  Psalm 37:4
Do you know what it means to delight yourself in the Lord?  When you meet with God each day, you will find that it becomes a delight, it becomes a part of your day that you look forward to, that you can't wait for.  As he fills you with joy, peace and strength and reveals the areas that need to change, you will find a God who longs to give you the desires of your heart...and things begin to change.
"Even now", declares the Lord, "Return to me with all your heart, with fasting, weeping and mourning."
Rend your heart and not your garments.  Return to the Lord your God for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.  Who knows?  He may turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing!  Joel 2:12,13
Before the clock strikes 12:00 on New Year's Day, make a commitment that 2011 will be a year of miraculous change for you.  Get ready!  Show up!  Be engaged!  Expect miracles!

Grace and peace be yours in abundance today~
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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Peace and Joy



outside my front door

Welcome friends! I am glad you found my blog and I hope it is helpful to you!

I am going to try something new this month, a book give-away. If you comment on this month's blog posts, you will have a chance to win a copy of Jesus Calling - the devotional book that changed my life. So, leave a comment and check back on Jan 1st to see the winner!



Now on to my topic:

Did you drag yourself out of bed this morning feeling exhausted and sluggish?  Here we are, the final countdown to Christmas, 3 days left.  There is shopping to be done, gifts to be wrapped, baking, cooking, house cleaning and school parties to attend.  You may be wondering where is all the JOY???  Have you ever felt, at this time of year, a gaping emptiness inside even though your days are filled with busy activities?

Often times the holidays exaggerate the emptiness in our lives: our unfulfilled dreams, our disappointments, our struggles and our lack of Joy and Peace.  For years I studied the Christmas cards and pictures of my friends from around the country.  Their lives seemed so successful, their families so beautiful and perfect.  Then I would look at my own circumstances and I would go through my list of "if onlys":  if only I were married to someone else, if only we had more income, if only my husband had a better job, if only I had a better job, if only I didn't have so many children, if only, if only...  For five years I never sent Christmas cards because I thought everyone could see right through our family picture into all our problems, and I certainly wasn't going to write a Christmas  letter and erase all doubt.

Little did I know that facing my emptiness was the prelude to being filled with all the fullness of Christ.
Colossians 2: 9 & 10
For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.
It usually isn't our natural response to look to God to fulfill our neediness.  Usually, we call a friend who will listen to us vent and will sympathize with our complaints.  Be careful of venting with someone whose eyes are not fixed on God.  Do not be deceived, bad company corrupts good character (1 Corinthians  15:33), but God speaks in the language of Love.  His words will fill you with Life and Peace, Joy and hope.

This filling is the work of the Holy Spirit.  He is the counselor, the Spirit of Truth who will guide you into all truth.  He will not speak on his own; he speaks only what he hears and he will tell you what is yet to come.  He brings glory to Jesus by taking what is His and making it known to you!  (John 16:13)  Isn't that an amazing thought?  He takes what belongs to Jesus and makes it known to you!  Jesus is the Prince of Peace.  The Holy Spirit takes that peace and gives it to you!  Jesus also said, "I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name... Ask and you will receive, and your JOY will be complete! (John 16:23,24)

Do you believe this?  I know, you're thinking, "I've asked for many things that I've never received!"  That may be true and there are reasons for this.  God has put certain "laws" into effect that He usually does not override when giving us what we ask for (topic for another post).  On the other hand, there are some things that God gives liberally.  Two of the things He longs to give liberally are Peace and Joy.  Most of the things we ask for are not necessary for our Joy to be complete.  Read that again, most of the things we ask for are not necessary for our Joy to be complete! 

When we ask God for the things we want, we are seeking God's hand.  But when we live close to God and make Him your highest priority, we are seeking God's face.  As you seek God's face above all else, you will experience Peace and Joy in full measure.
  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled.  (Matthew 5:4,6)
Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with Thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the PEACE of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 4: 4-7) 
In her book Jesus Calling, Sarah Young writes:
"If you persevere in dependence upon God as you go through the day, you will discover at bedtime that Joy and Peace have become your companions.  You may not realize at what point they joined you on your journey, but you will feel the beneficial effects of their presence."
Joy and Peace be yours in abundance today~

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Duct Tape and Christmas Cookies

Welcome friends!  I am glad you found my blog and I hope it is helpful to you!

I am going to try something new this month, a book give-away. If you comment on this month's blog posts, you will have a chance to win a copy of Jesus Calling - the devotional book that changed my life. So, leave a comment and check back on Jan 1st to see the winner!



Now, on to my topic:

Saturday was the perfect day for baking Christmas cookies.  The wind was furiously swirling snowflakes outside my window; we were expecting about 20 inches.  Inside my house was warm and cozy; so I turned on the Christmas music, turned on the oven and got out all the ingredients for spritz cookies.  My kids love to make these.  I live in a house full of boys and anything with a gun is fun...nothing could be better than a cookie-shooting gun!!!  Unfortunately, after a couple of shots with the cookie gun, it broke.  My twelve-year-old son was quick to say, "Mom, I can fix it with duct tape!"  Yes, duct tape to the rescue!  I am still amazed that I was able to make many batches of spritz cookies and the cookie gun is still holding fast!  Yeah!

You may be wondering what duct tape has to do with the Battle Mind Blog, right?  Well, duct tape is good for fixing a lot of things, but it doesn't fix a broken heart or frazzled emotions.  At this time of year, we are expected to put on a smile and show extra love and kindness, lest we steal anyone else's joy, right?  Truth be told, we all struggle with the emotions of anger, depression, confusion, anxiety, worry, loneliness, and sorrow that prevent us from living the abundant and free life that is ours in Christ Jesus. 

There was a time in the not-so-distant past, that my bag of frazzled emotions: anger, rage, worry and self-pity was so heavy I was being crushed under the weight of them.  And the one emotion that bothered me most was anger.  Why couldn't I get this one under control?  I would find myself spewing poisonous words on my children and my husband and it was slowly, but surely, killing us all.  And yet, I felt especially entitled to my anger.  After all, I had good reason to be angry.

Do you know how dangerous unresolved anger can be?
Ephesians 4: 26 & 27 says, "In your anger, do not sin. do not let the sun go down while you are still angry and do not give the devil a foothold!"
If we don't resolve our anger before we go to bed each night, we open the door for the devil to stick in his foot and gain access to our lives.  I can't tell you how many nights I went to bed, not only angry, but furious!  I opened the door wide open for the devil to walk right in and take me captive.   You see, we are kept in bondage by the lies we believe and the lie I believed was that I had a right to be angry.  So I coddled, nurtured and protected my right to be angry.  But anger is not our friend, it will betray us and hold us captive if we protect our right to it!  So finally, I cried out, "God, please take away my anger!"

As so often happens, I was aghast at God's answer to my prayer.  I heard Him say, "My child, I don't take away anger!  I have made you an emotional being.  All of your emotions, anger, joy, sorrow, worry, excitement, etc. are all intricately intertwined and are inseparable!" 

How often have you prayed for something and God gave you an answer completely different than you expected?  I was so hopeful that God would just take away my anger and I wouldn't have to build my muscles of self-control!
Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers (and sisters) throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.  1 Peter 5: 8&9
Anger is neither good nor bad, it is a warning signal to alert us to something deeper.  The emotion of anger has been likened to a warning light on the dashboard of your car.  When the engine light comes on, you can either put a piece of duct tape over it and ignore it or you can take the car to the shop and look under the hood to determine the problem.  I certainly don't recommend using duct tape!

Often times, the warning light of anger signals us to a certain mistrust of God.  If we truly trusted God with every aspect of our lives, we wouldn't need to hold on to our anger for comfort and protection against the imperfect people in our lives that disappoint us, hurt us, even devastate us.  So, if God doesn't take away our anger, how can we disarm this explosive that threatens to blow us to smithereens?

First, we need to claim back any ground given to the enemy through our anger and unforgiveness by praying a prayer like this:
Lord Jesus, I confess that I have been deceived by the enemy by believing that I should hold on to my anger and bitterness toward those who have hurt me.  I choose not to hold on to my anger any longer and  I relinquish my right to seek revenge.  I ask You to heal my damaged emotions.  Thank you for setting me free from the bondage of my bitterness.
 Please also see my previous post on forgiveness God Wouldn't Do That, Would He? and go through the process of breaking free from unforgiveness as well.

Now that you have been set free from the bondage of anger that has held you captive, you now need to strengthen your self-control muscles by going to your sacred spot where God can transform you by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2)  Remember,
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.  Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to your goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.  For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in you knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  2 Peter 1: 3-8

Isn't is great to know that God, through His divine power, has given us all that we need to live a godly life and to exercise those muscles of self-control!  God's power is always available to flow into a yielded heart!

Grace and peace be yours in abundance today~

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Come Sit With Me

one sideImage by farhad pocha via Flickr
Do you remember the story of  Mary and Martha?  Most of us find ourselves in Martha's shoes, especially during the holidays.  We are quick to laugh when someone accuses us of being a Martha because what we really believe is that Martha is the better woman, right?  In the story from the book of Luke 10:38-42 we read:

As Jesus and His disciples were on their way, they came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.  She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said.  But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.  She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself?  Tell her to help me!"
"Martha, Martha,"  the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."   
I have always identified with Martha in this story.  After all, preparations did have to be made.  She had at least 15 hungry people sitting in her home waiting for dinner.  If you had 15 unexpected dinner guests, no doubt you would turn on the overdrive and work like crazy so our guests wouldn't be famished, true?  Have you ever wondered what would have happened if Martha also sat at Jesus's feet all evening and listened like Mary did?  I think Jesus would have had to do another miracle called the feeding of the 15!

So why would Jesus tell Martha that Mary had chosen what was better?  Those of us who are Type A, high strung, get it done, solve the problem type people, shake our heads at the kind of person who can sit and seemingly do nothing while letting others carry the work load.

Jesus said, "Martha, Martha you are worried and upset about many things."  Isn't it interesting that Jesus didn't say, "I understand, Martha, you are right.  Mary will help you in just a moment"?  No, He told Martha that she was worried and upset.  I'm sure her worrisome and angry attitude was a pattern in her life and Jesus was trying to make a point to all of us who struggle with the emotions of anger and worry when we feel we are carrying an unfair amount of the burden.  When the workload has become one-sided and the people who should be helping us are not.

There are times in our lives when we encounter a season or two where the weight of a relationship or responsibility is on our shoulders, especially in marriage.  Spouses get sick, struggle with depression or addiction, work too much, work too little, lose their job, start a new business or are away from home for an extended time.  The weight shifts to us and we find ourselves saying, "Lord, tell him to help me!"

Now, I don't think Jesus was saying to Martha that it was okay for Mary not to help with the preparations, but what he was saying was that spending time sitting in His presence was the best choice.  When we find ourselves carrying a weight larger than we bargained for, Jesus is saying (my paraphrase),"My child, you are worried and upset about many things.  Come and sit at my feet.  Come to me so that I can give you a chance to rest."
Come to me you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden light.  (Matt 11:28-30)
Martha was trying so hard not to be upset and not to get angry, but finally she cried out, "Lord, don't  you care?  Don't you care that I've been left to do all the work in this one-sided relationship?" (my paraphrase)                                                                                                     

This is the prayer I found myself crying when my husband was so depressed he couldn't get out of bed, work a steady job or be involved with family life.  I was left to take care of the children, go to work, do all the cooking, laundry, yard work, etc. I cried, "Lord don't you care that my husband has left me to do all the work by myself?  Tell him to help me!"

After my long journey with anger, fear and self-pity tucked securely in my backpack, I found myself in a very lonely and desolate place and the only person there was Jesus, beckoning me to come and sit at his feet and let Him lighten my load.  I know that sounds cliche', but don't misunderstand, He isn't saying He is going to take away all of your problems.  But something beautiful happens when you sit down in that sacred place (like at the kitchen table), Bible in hand, and let God pour his comfort and healing balm into your soul.  Your perspective will be changed and your strength will be renewed.  Every day when we come to that sacred place, we find Him there with his right hand stretched out and he places His fingers under our chin and lifts up our head to see Him who is our help.

Jesus said, "Martha, only one thing is needed..."  What is that one thing?  It's time in His presence.  It seems so simple, but when there is so much to be done, who has time for that?  One January, I made a New Year's resolution that I was going to get up one half hour earlier to spend time with God.  God so honored our time together and that beautiful thing happened....the comfort and healing balm was poured into my soul.  That is what can never be taken away from me.    If you find yourself carrying more of the load than you bargained for, if you are more a Martha than a Mary, take God up on His word:
But you are a shield around me, O Lord; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.
To the Lord I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill.  Psalm 3:3.
                                                                                   
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Friday, August 20, 2010

How To Forgive Someone Who Has Hurt Me





Welcome friends! I am glad you found my blog and I pray that my writings will guide you to finding peace in the presence of God and thankfulness in your trials so that you can live an abundantly free life in Christ.






The longer I live, the more convincing truths I read in Scripture.  This morning I was reading one such passage in Matthew 18: 21-35.  The words virtually jumped off the page at me.  I have read this parable many times before, but this morning the words had an altogether new meaning.
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me?  Up to seven times?"
Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times."   
Therefore, the kingdom of  heaven is like a master who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.  As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten-thousand talents was brought to him.  Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
The servant fell on his knees before him.  'Be patient with me', he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denari.  He grabbed him and began to choke him.  'Pay back what you owe me!'  he demanded.
His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.'
But he refused.  Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.  When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.
Then the master called the servant in.  'You wicked servant, ' he said, ''I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to.  Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?'  In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he could pay back all he owed.
This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart. 
God wouldn't do that, would he?  Turn us over to the jailers to be tortured, I mean. Do these words grip you like they gripped me?  Does your life feel a lot like a torture chamber?  Are you being tortured with depression, fear, hopelessness, suicidal or destructive thoughts, heart palpitations, high blood pressure and other physical pain?  Are there voices in your head telling you life is just not worth it and you should just give up?

To understand what Jesus means, we have to understand who the jailer is and who does the torturing.  In other passages of scripture, such as Eph. 4:26,27 we are told not to give Satan a foothold by letting the sun go down while we are still angry.

I believe failure to forgive is the #1 area that Satan uses to keep us in bondage, in jail, and he tortures us both mentally and physically (since we know that our body and spirit are inseparable) while we are angry and bitter and refuse to forgive.

There is freedom, my friend, from the enemy's torture chamber and it simply requires an act of your will.  To forgive someone does not mean that you condone their behavior and it does not mean that they will never hurt you again.  To forgive someone is to release them from the debt they owe you - no strings attached, just like the parable above.

Forgiveness is truly a miraculous process.  When we desire to obey God by forgiving someone more than we desire to hold on to our bitterness and pain, God enables and empowers us to forgive through His divine power.  Miraculously, both individuals are released from bondage -  you are released from the the jailer's torture chamber, and the person you forgive is released from their debt to you.

Not that long ago, I was given a worksheet called "Forgiving An Individual Who Has Hurt Me".  Each day I would work on this worksheet and my list grew longer by the day; however, as I read the the prayer at the bottom I would say to myself, "No way, I am not ready to pray that prayer".  This went on for 2 weeks before I was ready to pray the Forgiveness Prayer from my heart.

Forgiving An Individual Who Has Hurt Me
List each way ______________________(name) has hurt/offended you.

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.
add more lines if you need to...

SUGGESTED FORGIVENESS PRAYER:

“Lord, I choose to forgive ________________(name) for ________________________(offense, wound). I acknowledge my emotion(s) of ______________________________________________ and I am willing to work through the emotional pain and consequences that ________________________ has caused me. I take back any ground given to Satan through my bitterness and now yield that ground to the control of the Lord Jesus Christ. I chose to no longer live as a victim of that offense.”

I can't tell you the release I felt when I prayed that prayer with true sincerity from my heart.  I had a fluttery, light feeling that made me want to get up and dance, but instead, I just sat there and cried.

This is a huge step in the healing process.  Jesus is the re-builder of all things broken and he wants you to be healed.  When I say healed, I mean mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.  He is the healer!  Sometimes healing is instantaneous, but mostly it's a process.

If you want the voices in your mind to stop and the healing process to begin, start with forgiveness.  Then follow this blog as we begin the process of being transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2).

For more information about finding freedom in Christ through forgiveness, I HIGHLY recommend Neil Anderson Bondage Breaker and the Step By Step Guide to Freedom In Christ.

Grace and Peace be yours in abundance today~

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Battle For The Mind






Welcome friends! I am glad you found my blog and I pray that my writings will guide you to finding peace in the presence of God and thankfulness in your trials so that you can live an abundantly free life in Christ.

This is what I believe:

I have come to realize that the apostle Paul was speaking to every believer, including me, when he said,

"Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." (Ephesians 6:11 & 12)

My own journey into the reality of the dark side did not come by choice.  Even though I had been a Christian for many years, I was never curious about demonic activity or the occult.  The lure of this knowledge and occultic power never appealed to me.

On the other hand, I was on an intense search for understanding as to why my husband was so depressed and my search one day lead me to Ephesians 4:26 which says,
 "In your anger do not sin.  Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry and do not give the devil a foothold". 
It was as if I heard the voice of God, not an audible voice, mind you, but that quiet voice that speaks into the depths of your soul.  He said, "Your struggle is not against your husband, but against the spiritual forces of evil".

In his book Bondage Breaker, Neil Anderson explains a misconception we have been duped into believing, "What the early church called demonic activity we now understand to be mental illness.  Terms such as depression, schizophrenia, paranoia, psychosis and so on are merely labels classifying symptoms.  But what or who is causing the symptoms?  Is the cause spiritual, psychological, hormonal, or a neurological imbalance?  Certainly all these options must be explored.  But what if no physical or psychological cause is found"?

He continues, "We should not be surprised when secular psychologists limited to a natural worldview attempt to offer natural explanations for mental problems.  Their worldview does not include God or Satan.  Even many Christians who vociferously reject the scientific community's explanation for the origin of the species naively accept the secular psychologist's explanation of mental illness.  Research based on the scientific method of investigation of human spiritual problems is not wrong; it's just incomplete.  It ignores the influence of the spiritual world, because neither God nor the devil submit to our methods of investigation.  We need to learn to distinguish between organic or psychological mental illness and a spiritual battle for the mind.  Depression is a body, soul and spirit problem that requires a balanced body, soul and spirit answer".


I believe our problems are both psychological and spiritual.  To say otherwise is to imply that there is a distinct division between the human soul and spirit.  Neil Anderson goes on to say, "There is no inner conflict which is not psychological because there is never a time when your mind, emotions and will are not involved.  Similarly, there is no problem which is not spiritual.  There is no time when God is not present".

I have finally accepted the fact that the spiritual world is just as real as the natural world, "for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:18), nor is there any time when is is safe to take off the armor of God.  With this in mind, I was able to stop polarizing toward medical and psychological answers only and face the fact my husband and I were in spiritual bondage.

The battle is real!  Much of what is being passed off today as mental illness is nothing more than a battle for our minds.  But take hope,
"for though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ".  2  Corinthians 10:3-5
Freedom from spiritual bondage and conflicts is not a power encounter with evil spiritual forces; it's a truth encounter.  Satan is a deceiver, and he will work undercover at all costs.  But the truth of God's Word (the Sword of the Spirit - the Bible) exposes him and his lies.  He and his demons are like cockroaches that scurry for the shadows when the light comes on.  So, let's out-truth him with the Light of the World!  Sword Fight!!!

Friday, June 18, 2010

You Gotta Have Hope

Welcome friends! I am glad you found my blog and I pray that my writings will guide you to finding peace in the presence of God and thankfulness in your trials so that you can live an abundantly
free life in Christ.

My hunch is you're in a storm and you may feel as if you're treading water, barley able to keep your head above the crashing waves of despair.  I know the feeling well!


Let me assure you that you are not alone!

Catch this lifeline...

Jeremiah 32:17, "Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm.  Nothing is too hard for you".

Nothing means not one thing - no person, illness, dying marriage or hardship is too hard for God to restore and heal.  The same Creator who made the heaven and earth and calmed the storms, longs to rescue you from the deep waters you find yourself in today.

I realize you may have already given up hope.  But, I challenge you to dare to hope again as you and I begin an adventure to discover what can happen when we say yes to the power of Jesus.  The God that chose you, who loves you and adopted you, is a God who has resources in heaven - riches, strength, power and might - that are beyond your imagination.

There are three important questions I must ask you:
  1. Do you believe there is a God?
  2. Are you willing to apply the principles of God's Word to your life?
  3. Will you pray for the Spirit of God to strengthen you and your loved one?

Don't get me wrong.  There are no quick fixes, silver bullets or magic wands to wave.  I am a realist.  You will experience a barrage of doubt or a flood of anger, but I am convinced that God cares about you personally.  He cares about your family, your marriage and He especially cares about the fact that you are hurting today.

Will you give Him one more chance?

This post was adapted from a text by George Kenworthy, Marriage Makeover.  I HIGHLY recommend this book.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Trying To Understand Depression

SPIRITImage by Marianone via Flickr

Welcome friends! I am glad you found my blog and I pray that my writings will guide you to finding peace in the presence of God and thankfulness in your trials so that you can live an abundantly free life in Christ.

It is very humbling for me to share my story with you.  I have been through much and God has taught me much.  I never set out to blog about my trials, but God has called me to share.  I know there are many people out there, even those in the Body of Christ, who are struggling with depression, disappointment, unfulfilled dreams and devastating loss.  It is my heart's desire that as I share the intimate thoughts of my heart that you will  find encouragement in the words of Scripture as God has revealed them to me. 
 




And so my story goes:
 
My life hit an all-time low in 2002. My husband lost his job in financial services the year before and he was still unemployed. Not only was he still unemployed, he had never even done a thorough job search. No resume was written, very few applications filled out, he was depressed. I was pregnant with our third child and we were living on our savings which was quickly being depleted. I couldn't understand why my husband stayed in bed until noon, got up for a few hours and went back to bed again. He was moody and irritable. When we tried to communicate, we just ended up yelling at each other. I knew he was bummed out about our situation, but I couldn't understand why he didn't just snap-out-of-it!!! We no longer got together with other couples or enjoyed socializing as a couple. Every once in a while there was a good day and I thought I had him back, but then he would slip back into his sleepiness, moodiness, pain and isolation.

This went on for several years. It was obvious to people around us that something was wrong. For those who didn't know the details, there was just a stigma of dysfunction that made people uncomfortable around us. We had eaten through our savings, David's 401K, my 401K and we were now living on credit. We had our third child and then our fourth. After many attempts to create income, and many failures, David said I had to go back to work after 12 years of being a stay-at-home mom... WHAT? He didn't have a job and I was supposed to support the family? I was angry. In fact, I was more than angry, I was bitter and hateful.  Alas, I went back to work. God provided a wonderful job with good pay and the flexibility that my family needed, but I still didn't understand David. His behavior was so irrational. Oh, I knew the symptoms, but I had no compassion.

After My husband's depression diagnosis in 2006, he started on medication and I could see some improvement, but things were FAR from good. I thought there must be something else wrong with him so I set out on a quest to figure out his "problem". I knew this was not just a "blue" feeling, but rather a paralyzing oppression that rendered him completely disabled. I was feeling like a single mother. I had lost my friend, my spouse, my helper to a paralysis of the mind. I was working, raising four children, doing all the cooking, cleaning, laundry and household chores while David gave me every excuse in the book as to why he couldn't get out of bed. Our marriage was on it's last leg. The "D" word was part of our daily vocabulary. I had not only hit the bottom, I was falling so fast I crashed right through the bottom, but something kept telling me to hang on, that all was not lost, that there was hope.

There is a God. The problem was, I didn't know what I thought of God at that point. I knew the verse in Jeremiah that says, "For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you." but I didn't know if I believed that or not. If God wants me to prosper, why is my life in shambles? I felt like a I was being held captive, in bondage, to fear, bitterness, poverty and exhaustion. Maybe you feel that way too...

In the days and weeks to follow, this blog will chronicle the road I have traveled to understanding and healing. As a disclaimer, I am not a physician nor a counselor, but I know I have found the answers I was looking for. Answers that I couldn't find in counseling sessions, classes, diagnosis or medication. If you or your loved one is on medication, do not stop taking it. Medication can be helpful, but most people reading this blog know that medication doesn't "heal" depression, anxiety, hurts, hang-ups and irrational behaviors, it simply helps one deal with these behaviors. So, if I were to give this blog a second name, it would be Beyond Meds - this is where the healing takes place.

Let me go back to that verse in Jeremiah that I quoted earlier and let me finish the whole thought.

Jeremiah 29: 11-14
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 a hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the Lord, "and will bring you back from captivity."

This is where the journey begins - with God. Is he there? Does he hear our prayers? Will he answer?

Grace and peace be yours in abundance today~
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