Dealing With Dream-Stompers, Naysayers, Hope-Slayers

Recently I overheard a mom and her child interacting. The conversation entailed the adolescent expressing a desire, and her mom squashing it due to fear over the child’s past behaviors.

Angry words ensued, and the more the young person repeated the goal she wanted to pursue, the more the mom shot it down.

They invited me into the conversation, but the mom remained negative and wouldn’t listen to my attempts to suggest she allow her child to pursue her dream and give her room to fail.

When I left them, they were still speaking antagonistically toward one another.

After this, I thought of that mom and the role she was playing in that altercation: dream- stomper, naysayer, hope-slayer.

My heart hurt as I thought of times I took on that role with certain people in my life—especially those who repeatedly made unwise choices.

Then I recalled people in my life who have delivered discouraging words when I announced a dream or desire—often those the Lord laid on my heart.

“You’ll never succeed at that.”

“You’re not good enough to accomplish that.”

“That will never happen.”

“Why in the world would you want to attempt that goal?”

“Are you crazy? Kidding me? Have a screw loose?

Despite those who have tried to squash my dreams, with God’s help I’ve succeeded at most of them. The others are still in progress.

The key to realizing our dreams is to avoid listening to the dream-stompers and instead open our ears and hearts to the Lord and embrace His words and will for our lives.

One thing I know is that if He has called me to it, He will do it in me and through me. I think of God calling me to sing and those who have tried to squash that dream He laid on my heart. Several people in my life have said, “You can’t sing.”

My singing is not about being on “The Voice” or “American Idol” but it is about being able to minister to others with songs, some written by talented songwriters and others that God has laid on my heart. When I’ve obeyed God and sung songs to hurting souls, they have been moved and changed. They have said, “Wow! You can sing.” Many times there have been healing tears.

So who is right?

God empowers me to touch souls with songs, and the ones who say, “You can’t sing” are not souls who need a song from me. They listen with fleshly ears and compare me to the best singers in the world.

I think of the tsk-tsk I’ve heard from others as I’ve tried to pursue my dreams. When I turn to the Lord, He has something different to say. He communicates, “Good for you,” “I’m so proud of you,” and “You can do this.”

I’m praying for that mom who too often plays the dream-stomper in her daughter’s life—that she will allow the Holy Spirit to speak encouraging words through her.

And I’m praying for myself that I will completely let go of ever being the dream-stomper, naysayer, or hope-slayer in people’s lives—even my own–as I let go of negative words toward others and to myself.

Today I know for certain that God is dreaming big for me and for my loved ones—even if dreams and desires seem difficult or even impossible.

When others say, “That’s impossible,” I need to remember to embrace what God says, “…for all things are possible with Me.” (See Mark 10:27)

The decision I need to make today and every day is: who will I listen to?

Song reference:

Lately the song “Through It All” written my Andrae Crouch has been coming to mind. And this past Tuesday someone in my Bible study mentioned it as well. Even with dream-stompers, nay-sayers, and hope-slayers working to try to get me to abandon my God-given dreams, my Lord reminds me that through it all He is teaching me to trust in Him alone.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNsWrS5zvBI

“Through It All” by Andrae Crouch featuring CeCe Winans

 

Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

The Better Life

Recently I heard four words in a song that touched me deeply. They were “There’s a better life.”

Those words reminded me that I’m living the better life. The one I lived before I knew the Lord was filled with torment and at times terror. These came not so much because of what I’d been through but because of my negative reactions. I chose substance abuse, overeating, bitterness, anger, and self-loathing.

One of the ways my life has changed for the better is that I’m not bound by negative thinking. Yes, I can slip into it, but because of the Lord and His Word and His speaking truth to my soul, I can choose to quickly escape wrong thought patterns.

The song I was listening to called, “Chain Breaker,” reminded me of all the ways the Lord has made my life better.

Ironically when I looked for an image that said, “A Better Life,” I found one that listed an atheist website.I went there and found a book titled, A Better Life with this subtitle: 100 Atheists Speak Out On Joy and Meaning in a World Without God.

The lie that some struggling Christians or seekers believe is that instead of a life with God being better, the life without Him is the better life. A number of people I know who were once devoted to the Lord have embraced that lie. They’re blind to the fact that what they see as freedom is really a deep bondage.

One of the most famous atheists, Richard Dawkins, has written a book titled The God Delusion. On Amazon.com part of the description of the book said this: “The God Delusion makes a compelling case that belief in God is not just wrong but potentially deadly. It also offers exhilarating insight into the advantages of atheism to the individual and society, not the least of which is a clearer, truer appreciation of the universe’s wonders than any faith could ever muster.”

Sadly, a loved one of mine who once seemed to be a devout Christian has embraced all that Richard Dawkins communicates. This individual not long ago went to hear this well-known atheist speak and expressed excitement over meeting someone whom she saw as one of the greatest men living on this earth. I cried when those words were texted to me from someone who was once a Christian I admired, but had rejected truth for lies.

What deception.

Yet at any given moment each of us has to decide if life with God or life without God is better. Even as a Christian I spend too much time living as if there is no God. I try to solve matters myself and look at self-sufficiency rather than dependence on the Lord as the greatest virtue. I tend to plot and plan instead of pray. I choose worry over worship and fear over faith.

I’m grateful that God whispers to me to draw near when I get caught in any of these.

Lately I’ve been thanking God that He drew me into the better life and has kept my heart strong against those who try to convince me that a life without God is superior, especially during those periods when it seems God is refusing to answer my prayers, and my heart gets broken yet another time.

The bottom line is that no matter what my circumstances may hold, I have a God who holds me and helps me—who hears me and heals me.

What I need is grace to remember all that God has done for me and in me, all He has brought me through, all the ways He has made my life so much better. Psalm 105:5 says it like this: “[Earnestly] remember the marvelous deeds that He has done, His miracles and wonders…” (AMPC)

Today I’m celebrating this better life God has called me to. I’m trusting Him to continue to break every chain that keeps me from fully enjoying it.

“Chain Breaker” by Zach Williams

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGYjKR69M6U

 

Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Three Keys To Peace

Receive My peace. Those are the words that often come to mind when I seek the Lord with a listening ear.

The lie that gets in the way of obeying is this: I cannot have peace until these difficult circumstances in my life are resolved.

The truth is God’s peace is available 24/7.

When Jesus left this world He said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives…” (John 14:27 NIV). The last part of the verse speaks to what will get in the way of receiving the peace He offers. “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Whenever I read that verse, I’m reminded of a short but powerful song a lady I met at a prayer meeting sang there. “This peace that I have. This peace that I have–the world didn’t give it, and the world can’t take it away.”

As I’ve been contemplating what blocks peace in my life three things came to mind: Unconfessed sin, focusing on problems, and prayerlessness.

So the three keys to receiving peace are these:

–Maintain a repentant heart. David spoke of what it feels like when he held on to sin in Psalm 32: “For day and night your hand was heavy on me;… Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.’ And you forgave the guilt of my sin.”(vs 4-5)

I cannot attain lost peace until I stop denying my sin and humbly acknowledge it.

Letting go of sin shows I desire to obey the Lord. I like the promise in Psalm 119:65 “Those who love Your law have great peace; Nothing makes them stumble.”

–Focus on the Lord. I confess that too often I keep my gaze firmly planted on the problems and pressures of this world. I focus on fools, fears, flaws, failures, which can lead me to be in a frenzy rather than in a state of peace. The verse that speaks to this is Isaiah 26:3:   “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You: because he trusts in You.”

Turning to God and keeping my mind fixed on Him is a sign that I am trusting in Him, and trust is what brings peace.

–Pray. Sometimes when I lack peace, it takes me awhile to realize that I’ve been doing lots of trying to figure things out myself instead of praying to the One who is in control. When I take on the role of my own problem-solver, peace evades me. In fact, this course can lead to a sense of feeling I’m in a panic.

Philippians 4:6 challenges me to instead pray about everything. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” And the promised result (verse 7) is peace. “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

All three of the above keys to peace are interconnected, and as I embrace them I sense God’s peace taking over.

When I looked up John 14:27 in the Amplified Bible a little while ago, I decided my heart’s desire is to do what’s in brackets. “Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. [Let My perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge].”

Lord, please give me the grace to do just that.

Music moment:

A number of years ago, I listened to the following song again and again after hearing Cheri Keaggy sing it in person at a women’s retreat. Listening to the song again today reminds me how sweet the peace of God truly is.

“Sweet Peace of God” by Cheri Keaggy

Note: I’ve written about peace before in these Hearts Set Free blogs. If you want to read more, here’s a post from December 10, 2010 https://elainecreasman.wordpress.com/2010/12/10/guaranteed-peace/

Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , | 2 Comments

My Wants Vs God’s Will

Recently I heard a song that touched my heart. The theme was embracing God’s will even when it seems that what He has allowed brings heartbreak.

I found out later that the song was written after the songwriter experienced a miscarriage.

One line spoke of our broken hearts possibly being God’s will—that it’s part of His plan.

I thought of all the heartaches and heartbreaks I have had in my life. Could it be God’s will that my heart break? Again and again?

What I do know is that my heartbreaks have brought me closer to Him.

I think of the verse that helped bring me through those times of heartbreak, especially after my brother’s suicide, Psalm 147:3, which says, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds [curing their pains and their sorrows].” (AMPC)

Another verse about broken hearts is Psalm 34:18: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (NIV)

Because this is a fallen world, we all will experience things that break our hearts. What I need to consider is this: what am I going to do with my broken heart? At my job I work with people who choose drugs and alcohol to deal with heartbreaking circumstances. I’ve tried that route myself, and it is a dead end, which only increases the pain.

At times I’ve turned to other things of this world to deal with my broken heart. I wanted my husband to heal my broken heart when I married him and at various times over the years. I turned to food, the accumulation of possessions, the approval of people.

These just make my “heart” condition worse.

I’ve discovered that turning to God is the only answer to my broken heart. Doing His will after I don’t get what I want is the only way to maintain hope and receive healing when my life doesn’t turn out the way I had planned.

My plans did not include loved ones turning away from the Lord. They did not include my own and family members’ battles with physical and mental illness. I did not want severe struggles in our marriage and in other relationships. What I wanted was a smooth life. What I received was a rough one with challenges that have some days seemed insurmountable.

But as I embrace “Your will be done,” instead of going my own way when God refuses to give me what I want, victory comes. He shows me His way. He reveals His will.

And so today and in the days ahead with trials continuing to challenge me, I stand firm on following the Lord and embracing His will.

How about you?

Thy Will by Hillary Scott & The Scott Family

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCR_Fa8YV2U

Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Lord, Restore My Soul

Here is a repost of a blog I posted on July 9, 2012.This post touched me anew as once again I need restoration. I’m praising God that He is faithful to restore us as we cry out to Him. I’ve added a song that’s new to me called “Restore Me” by Anthony Evans.

This week I’m thinking about the word “restore” again.

The reason is I’ve really needed restoration lately.

During the sermon on Sunday, our pastor asked us to look at some verses in James 5. One of them was verse 16 which spoke of being restored. This was in the Amplified version of the Bible, which I had with me.

Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart].…

Lately for hours at a time I’ve been in trouble in my thinking, I’ve embraced negative emotions, and I’ve fought against instead of embracing God’s will. Why? Because I’ve slipped out of a spiritual tone of mind and heart and found myself being ruled by what I thought, felt, and wanted.

I keep slip/sliding into this bad place because I’m disappointed by the behavior of someone claiming to be a Christian who seems to have lost their spiritual tone of mind and heart. I’m discovering how easily I abandon my spiritual way of thinking and living when I’m too much in the company of those who don’t operate from a Christ-centered mindset.

I’m quick to judge them and say, “How can they be that way?”  Yet I see how rapidly I can become just like them—especially when I’m interacting with them, and they’re behaving badly. Their yelling at me, putting me down, or refusing to listen to what I have to say can cause me to do  the same in return. But I can’t blame them for my bad behavior. I can choose another course—to be led by the Spirit.

Even today when someone lashed out at me when I tried to have a discussion, I sensed myself sinking again inside. I felt immediately offended and wanted to seek revenge instead of remembering that

A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. (Proverbs 19:11 NIV)

Although I didn’t draw my sword to slash back at the other person with words, I did so in my mind. And I saw how quickly I lost any sense of a godly state of mind.

“O Lord, please restore my soul,” has been my prayer this week. It is my prayer at this moment. A little while ago I sent out an email to praying friends confessing my fall and asking that they join me in my prayer to be restored to a spiritual tone of mind and heart.

Now comes the waiting to be restored. I’m lying down in this green pasture beside still waters, and I’m believing God’s promise for restoration.

How about you? Do you believe in God’s promise and power to restore?

Restore Me by Anthony Evans

Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Don’t Flip Your Switch

Not long ago someone I love suddenly switched from having a calm conversation with me to lashing out in anger. This came without warning, and the anger was over something minute—at least from my perspective.

As that person went from calmness to anger in a flash, I sensed there was a similar switch that could happen in me—from listening calmly to being bitter because of the anger directed at me in a way that seemed unjust.

This person’s anger often erupted due to his not overcoming traumas from the past, and something (I could rarely determine what that something was going to be) that was said or done would trigger an angry response.

At that moment, I realized I had a choice. I could choose not to let the switch be activated in me just because it was in this other person. His lack of dealing with past trauma brought drama, but I could choose not to carry the drama forward.

It is true that one of the main traumas from my childhood was people becoming unjustly angry at me and even verbally abusive because of their overwhelming stressors and their own traumas from the past. Back then I became bitter, and unforgiveness ruled my life. But God has healed me of that.

So I no longer needed to be bound to this automatic response from my childhood.

As I reflected on this, I realized that many times in my present relationships as soon as the “switch was flipped” in regard to anger in the other person, I automatically let the bitterness switch be flipped in me.

Also, I realized that for so long I spent much time and energy trying to prevent that switch from being flipped in others. Then I would feel frustrated that I couldn’t do it. No matter how great my efforts, anger still poured out. Certainly I’m a failure, I thought.

The conclusion I came to is that I cannot keep the switch from being flipped in another person, but I can choose to not allow the switched to be flipped in me. I’m not a failure when I fail to keep another person from getting angry at me, but only when I fail to have a godly response.

There are two switches, but I only have control over one—my own.

Too many times I can try to blame the other person when I have a negative reaction in regard to someone lashing out at me. “If you hadn’t lashed out in anger, I would not have had to be bitter in my response to you.” But God gives me the grace to have a godly response.

In fact, at any given moment and in every situation I can choose to have a loving response.

Jesus, who was perfect, always chose the godly response when He was on this earth. That response–unlike mine which can be fueled by fear, hurt, or frustration—was directed by love.

The closer I am to Jesus and as I allow Him to fully heal me of deep hurts, the more I can allow myself to be led by the Holy Spirit, rather than my flesh, and the more often I will have a loved-filled, Jesuslike response—even to negative behavior.

This verse reminds me of that: Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” ESV

The good news is that if I fail to show a godly response, I can remain humbly aware and quickly say, “I’m sorry that I reacted in a negative way to your anger. Something must be bothering you today. Do you want to talk about it?”

I remember a friend told me a saying years ago that has stayed with me. It went something like this, “When her cup is jostled, Jesus pours out.”

That’s what I want others to see in me.

“What Matters Most” by Cheri Keaggy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnGt3g6hu80

 

Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Dealing With Cons and Cares

Recently when I felt badly rejected by those I love, I realized that four individuals seem to come against me on a regular basis. There are different reasons for this—many centered on issues they have failed to deal with or bring before the Lord.

As I thought of them coming against me, these “con” words came to mind:

Contrariness: the quality of being someone who intentionally wants to disagree with and annoy other people.

Condescension: behaving in a way which shows you consider yourself to be better or more intelligent than other people.

Contempt: a strong feeling of lack of respect for someone or something.

Condemnation: express complete disapproval of, typically in public

Until that moment, I had not realized how often these actions were part of how these four treated me.

At first I thought How dare they? and What in the world am I going to do about this? even though this had been going on for years.

Once I got over my indignation, another thought occurred to me. In these four relationships I had acted out these four “con” words toward these people at one time or another. With two of them, it was because they had treated me that way first, and I was retaliating. The other two I hated to admit that at times I was the initiator of these behaviors because this was my response to their rebellion against the Lord.

Another “con”  on my part was that I too often tried to control these four people in an effort to get them to do or think right, and the four above actions were connected to that controlling behavior.

The bottom line is the Lord impressed on me that whether they started it or not, I was not to return evil for evil–contrariness for contrariness, condescension for condescension, contempt for contempt, condemnation for condemnation.

Here is how the Bible says it: “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.” Romans 12:17 NIV

“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” 1 Peter 3:9

Here is what the Lord spoke to my heart after praying about the matter: LET ME EMPOWER YOU TO STOP RETURNING EVIL FOR EVIL. THERE IS MUCH EVIL COMING YOUR WAY BECAUSE THEY DO NOT KNOW HOW TO CALL ON ME TO DEAL WITH HURT, AND HURT PEOPLE HURT PEOPLE. LET ME EMPOWER YOU TO SAY NOTHING. EACH OF THESE IS INCAPABLE OF LISTENING. POUR OUT YOUR HEART TO ME. I AM LISTENING. CRY OUT TO ME. CRY YOUR TEARS BEFORE ME. DO NOT TURN TO THE THINGS OF THIS WORLD TO DEAL WITH PAIN, ANGER, OR DEPRESSION. FOOD WILL NOT HELP. BUYING THINGS WILL NOT HELP. EXERCISE PROFITS ONLY A LITTLE, BUT WILL NOT HELP TO HEAL THE DEEP HURTS OF YOUR SOUL. I WILL HELP YOU. I WILL HELP YOU. I WILL HELP YOU. I WILL STRENGTHEN YOU. I WILL UPHOLD YOU WITH THE RIGHT HAND OF MY RIGHTEOUSNESS. REJECT LIES FROM THESE FOUR FOES. RECEIVE MY TRUTH. RECEIVE MY PEACE. RECEIVE MY JOY.

This evening one of these four spoke against me in a condescending manner. Instead of retaliating, I was able to be silent and call out to the Lord and pray for this one that her hurts would be healed.

Then I thought of something I heard in a song on the radio that I need to do consistently in regard to these relationships rather than coming against those who come against me: “I will cast my cares on You.” I care about these people, and I’m hurt deeply when at moments it seems they don’t care about me. I want to fix things between us and between them and the Lord, but I can’t. It’s essential to cry out to the One who cares deeply for all of us and is able to heal me and them.

“Cast My Cares” by Finding Favour

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKuAMmTqUbs

Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , | 6 Comments