What God Says

When hard times come, I can be tempted to believe lies about myself because of how people treat me. The good news is that who God says I am does not change because of the rejection of others.

As I continue to face difficult days with heartaches in various relationships, I need to remind myself not to be dictated by my own thoughts and feelings, but instead to be led by my faith in God and His unfailing love–even when people who once were loving toward me treat me in unloving ways.

What hurts is when I’ve shown sacrificial love, and another person returns evil in response to help I’ve given at their request in their hard times. That’s one trial I’m facing now. I did good, and the person responded with evil. This harsh rejection from this loved one has caught me by surprise, and the hurt lingers as the rejection continues.

Once I started realizing this person is depressed, I remembered that hurting people hurt people. As I let go of fretting, I prayed to God about the situation, and He calmed my heart and assured me that it wasn’t wrong of me to give the help this person requested. He reminded me of His love for this person and for me, despite her withdrawing love from me.

Here is some of what the Lord spoke to me: KEEP PUTTING YOUR HOPE IN ME. YOU CAN’T CHANGE HER. I CAN. AT LEAST YOU KNOW HOW STRONGLY BOUND SHE IS. FORGIVE. PRAY SHE WILL TURN TO ME, SO SHE CAN BE EMPOWERED TO FORGIVE. WHEN SHE TURNS TO ME, SHE CAN STOP BEING A VICTIM AND BECOME A VICTOR IN CHRIST. DON’T WORRY. I WILL CONTINUE TO PROVIDE FOR YOU.

I’ve discovered lately that when I consult with my own mind and heart instead of consulting the Lord, it brings me down. His words— from Scripture, spoken directly to my heart from the Holy Spirit, from others, and in books and songs in the midst of sad circumstances— lift me up.

The words from Lauren Daigle’s song, “You Say,” have really ministered to me lately as it plays often on the Christian radio station I listen to (The Joy FM). In the song, she reminds me I’m loved, I’m strong, I’m held, and I’m His–even though I can feel these aren’t true when people treat me badly.

God is faithful to remind me who I am in Him. He does it through this song and even when the song isn’t playing as I tune in to Him and determine to receive His truth rather than the lies of the enemy and those around me.

I remember years ago I listened to Elisabeth Elliot on the radio. I loved the two statements she proclaimed at the close of her show, which reminded me of God’s unfailing love for me: “I have loved you with an everlasting love, (Jeremiah 31:3) and underneath are the everlasting arms.” (Deuteronomy 33:27).

No matter what happens, those statements are true. What a treasure God’s unfailing love is to me. He never wants me to forget that it’s there for me through every difficulty—even if I can’t feel it at the moment.

Today I pray for my unloving, loved one that she will come to the point where she feels loved, strong in the Lord, held, and His.

The thought that came to me yesterday, which I’m determined to act on, is to do something loving toward this person who has been unloving toward me. What came to mind is to send an uplifting card and a gift certificate for a massage.

I also pray this person will call out to the Lord, since she is not walking with Him. As I do so, I find myself taking my eyes off of me and how I feel and putting them on her and on the Lord, and He is giving me compassion for her.

I wait in thanksgiving for Him to bless her and our relationship. He has already lavished blessings on me through His love, comfort, and strength in this difficult time.

“You Say” by Lauren Daigle

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8WK9HmF53w

 

 

 

 

 

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Counting Every Blessing

My heart continues to ache over the ongoing, unwise—even life-threatening—choices of a loved one, who is battling mental health issues.

The main gift as a writer, speaker, mental health worker, God has given to me is the gift of proclaiming truth. What hurts so much is that this loved one refuses to receive truth. At times she becomes verbally abusive when I speak it to her.

As I reflect on my own life, I know I’ve been in the place of rejecting truth. That’s exactly where the enemy wants us. Even as Christians, we can be enticed to go there.

This dearly loved individual surrounds herself with peers who believe lies, and they support one another in this.

Other circumstances have threatened to bring me into the pit lately as well: more allegations of sexual assault—even in the writing world, Bill Cosby in the news as he was sentenced to prison, the sad supreme court justice confirmation hearing, severe problems in extended family members, other loved ones with mental health problems, marriages of loved ones failing, other loved ones caught in the grips of addiction and dependence on many other enticements of this world rather than on the Lord.

The sexual assault crisis, especially as it pertains to Bill Cosby, brings back memories of the sexual assault against myself in my college years, which was done in the same way. I was given a drug, and then the person, whom I knew and trusted, raped me. I was conscious, but I could not move.

As I think of these matters and others, I feel oppressed by the evil of this world.

Yet in the midst, a song has been coming on the radio, which has lifted my spirits. It is “Counting Every Blessing” by Rend Collective.

I listen and remember that the world has been evil since the fall, and that’s why Jesus came. Because of that, I have so many blessings, which cannot be taken away.

As thoughts of negative circumstances invade my mind, and fears of the future threaten to overwhelm me, something else invades my mind: the words, “counting every blessing.” And then I begin to do just that.

One blessing is that God’s love for me and my loved ones will never fail. Another is that He will always be with and for me and them. Yet another is the promise of heaven that nothing on this earth can take away. Then there are the many promises in His Word. Each one is a blessing I can count.

At this moment, three come to mind:

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1 NIV

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Isaiah 26:3 NKJV

God is keeping each of these promises as I go through these latest difficulties.

What I know is that I must keeping holding on to Him. Others have not done as well in the midst of the crises and calamities of life because they chose to hold on to someone or something else. Only He can help us through every dark and difficult day. And if we let Him, He uses the difficulties to make us more like Jesus and to help us grow in trusting Him.

A saying comes to mind, which always holds true: “Life is hard, but God is good.”

During these days, I do not want to doubt God’s goodness. I desire to grow in trust and be a shining light for Him. He wants to give me everything I need to do just that.

God wants my wayward loved one to grow in trusting Him as well. I believe that He will one day use her as a shining light for Him. How wonderful it is that her bad choices do not disqualify her from that.

When I asked God recently how to pray for this loved one, Psalm 139:7-12 came to mind.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

I pray she will sense God reaching out to her in her darkness, and that she will take hold of His hand.

“Counting Every Blessing” by Rend Collective

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7X9d4ubvWH4&start_radio=1&list=RD7X9d4ubvWH4

 

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Finding God’s Will Repost

Recently, I heard a song about finding God’s will that helped me through a difficult time years ago. Today I’m reposting a blog about the subject, which I first posted in 2013. This time I’ve put that song at the end of the blog. I can’t remember what the difficulty was back then, but the truth I discovered still stands up in my latest trial. As I listened to the song and reread the blog, I realized that peace comes as I determine to let go and submit to God’s will instead of trying to make things happen or attempting to control or abort my latest difficult circumstance.

I pray this blog will minister to you in any trial, trauma, or tragedy you may be facing.

Repost of “Finding God’s Will”

First Posted on July 12, 2013

As I have been facing a difficult challenge lately, I find myself crying out to God, “What should I do?” Which way to go seems unclear.  I want to do what’s right, but every choice seems to have its drawbacks.

Slipping into negative emotions and negative thinking makes things even murkier.

“Please show me Your will and Your way,” I have prayed.

What God has done is to reveal to me the next step to take. He doesn’t show me the complete picture of where He’s leading me and how He will bring me to the other side.

The key is to believe He will show me His will, and He will carry me through this just as He has brought me through every other trial in my life.

Discovering God’s will is tied in to being still. The Word says,

“Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10 ESV.

When I forget that He is God or fail to act that way, I try to plow ahead doing whatever comes to mind. That makes matters worse.

When I embrace fully what my Sunday School teacher has been repeating lately, “He is God, and I am not,” I can trust Him to lead me.

When going through hard times, being still before the Lord to discover His will can seem impossible. It’s especially challenging when the enemy is bombarding my mind with thoughts that bring on moments or multiple moments of doubt, fear, and unbelief.

One of the reasons it can be rough discovering God’s will in difficult times is that I ask myself, “How can this thing that’s happening to me possibly be God’s will?” and “How can a loving God allow this?”

The faith side of me says, “God does allow bad things, but He brings good out of them—if I submit to Him and trust Him with the outcome.”

I confess that too often I try to stay in control and straighten out a difficult situation or a heart-tearing relationship conflict on my own. That doesn’t work.

I notice when I try to do it on my own, love does not lead the way.

One thing I’ve become ever more certain of is this: “Love is always God’s will and God’s way.”  If I’m unwilling to love, this shows that I have not been fully set free. I’m moving back into bondage.

When I love even though others have hurt me, God is present and working. The other person may not change in every way I desire, but God changes my heart to become more like His. That’s what trials are for—to transform me into the image of Christ.

Changing me is God’s will.

As  I’ve been submitting to Him with an attitude of, “Lord, do what You need to do in me to make me more like You,” the hardness in my heart is melting away. I’m embracing what Jesus said,

“Not my will, but Yours be done.”  Luke 22:42 ESV 

There is great joy in discovering God’s will. There is even greater joy when I’m willing to embrace it and live it. I’m excited to see what God has in store in the days, weeks, and months ahead. He is so good.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CsjZ94K7UQs

“Help Me Find It” by Sidewalk Prophets

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Rescuer

“Lord, rescue her,” I pray fervently lately for a loved one who seems determined to rebel against every authority in her life.

The problem is she doesn’t want to be rescued.

The image which came to mind yesterday was that she struggles in the deep end of the pool, has forgotten how to swim, and refuses to grab hold of any life preserver thrown to her.

Why would she do that? I asked myself.

The reason came quickly to mind. There are people she sees as friends in the deep end of the pool with her, none of whom knows how to swim, and she doesn’t want to leave them.

Yes, they are treading water and are keeping their heads just above water with much effort, but it’s just a matter of time that they will sink. Somehow they don’t believe that.

I’ve tried to rescue her myself, but she just fights me off and shouts, “Leave me alone.”

Yesterday a song came on the radio as I thought about this loved one in need of rescue. The song sung by Rend Collective is called, “Rescuer.”

As I listened to the song, the Lord whispered a promise to me, “She may not want to be rescued right now, but I will rescue you.”

I thought of what I needed rescuing from which related to this loved one’s struggles: fear, worry, trying to control, devising my own feeble attempts at rescue, depression, blame, shame, unforgiveness, judging, negativity and more.

So today I changed my prayer, “Lord, rescue me.”

Right now I confess the sins I’ve given in to as I deal with this crisis.

I apply the words to the song by Rend Collective to me and to my struggle. I grabthe life preserver the Lord is throwing out to me. I am allowing Him to bring me back to the place of faith in Him, of believing His promises, and holding to His Word. I determine not to give up on prayer, even though it seems the more I have pray, the worse things get.

One promise which came to mind today is this one: “You will keep him in perfect peace,
whose mind is stayed on You…” (Isaiah 26:3).

I listened to more songs on the radio yesterday after the Rend Collective song, which lifted my spirit and reminded me of God’s faithfulness. How often He has rescued others I prayed for–in His way and in His time. I knew He was able to do it again. I no longer needed to see myself as the rescuer. Only He could rescue her from this place of defiance and disobedience.

As I sense God rescuing me from these negative responses to this loved one’s rebellion, I feel one emotion well up in me for her: love. It’s not my love, but the love of the Lord. I thought of the many times I was the rebellious one and how He loved me through it all and how He forgave me and helped me and once He had transformed me, He showed me how I could help those who had grabbed the life preserver to return to living a godly life. I’ve done this through my writing, through mentoring, and through public speaking.

I’m not going to stop praying for God to rescue my loved one, but I am going to stop trying to be the rescuer, and I’m going to let go of my negative thoughts toward this dear one who needs rescuing.

Once again my trust in the Lord is being tested.

Today I choose to keep trusting—even though circumstances seem dark.

I think of a song the Lord gave me years ago, which I know I shared here in the past. The Lord gave me this song during a different crisis years ago. I still believe the promise the Lord gave to me back then through that song, and I apply it to this latest crisis.

Everything will be alright.

Everything will be alright.

Morning will come

to end this night, and

everything will be alright.

 

Everything will be alright.

Everything will be alright.

Into this darkness,

He’ll shine His light, and

everything will be alright.

Just trust, and

everything will be alright.

God reminded me of the title of another song I wrote years ago for another rebellious loved one. I don’t remember the whole song, and I haven’t listened to it in years. (It’s on an old cassette somewhere.) That loved one is on her way back to wholeheartedly following Jesus. The title, and the words repeated over and over were, “She still belongs to Me.”

I receive that for this loved one as well.

I’m determined this moment, for the rest of today, and in the days to come to keep my eyes on the Lord, and not on all I see that’s wrong, and allow Him to keep rescuing me—even as I hold to the belief that He will rescue her.

He is able.

He is faithful.

He is trustworthy.

Rescuer (Good News) by Rend Collective

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=leh-4fCc5MI

 

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When Tears Fall Repost

Not long ago, a friend whose husband died, unexpectantly and suddenly, told me she cried and cried over her loss. That made me think of a blog I wrote years ago—in July of 2013, where I wrote about crying in the midst of grief. Today I want to cry. Hard times have once again come upon our family. But I’m in the eating phase of my grief. I’m asking the Lord to give me the gift of tears and a determination to bring my grief to Him and receive His comfort.

Here’s the blog, “When Tears Falls” from 2013 with a song I added today. It helped me again as I reread it. I pray it will help you too if you are suffering grief from the death of a loved one or other losses.

Lately I’ve been crying at times. And it is a good thing.

One of the bondages I battle is turning to food for comfort. Since my brother died in February 2012 of suicide, I have turned back to using food to ease sorrow. The problem with this is that it can cause me to stuff my emotions down. They tend to get buried under all the ice cream, cookies, or cake that I’m eating.

Not long ago I suffered another trauma, but this time I determined not to eat for comfort as I grieved this disappointment, this heartache. The result was that I’m feeling my emotions.

I’m crying when I hurt. I’m weeping over the sin and hardened heart of my loved one. I’m shedding tears over the sin in this broken world and all the broken people I know.

In a recent article I read, I was reminded of the benefit of tears:

“Tears are your body’s release valve for stress, sadness, grief, anxiety and frustration. They…reduce stress hormones and contain antibodies that fight pathogenic microbes…crying stimulates the production of endorphins, our body’s natural pain killer and ‘feel-good’ hormones. Crying makes us feel better, even when a problem persists. In addition to physical detoxification, emotional tears heal the heart. (from “The Health Benefits of Tears” by Judith Orloff MD)

God designed our bodies this way—to leak water out of our eyes to help us deal with the emotional side of our lives. To me this is an amazing thing.

Tears can draw me closer to Him and remind me how much I need Him. I do feel a closeness to God when I cry in His presence when I pray. At those times I like to imagine Jesus holding me and weeping with me.

I think of the verse in Scripture that says:

You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book? Psalm 56:8 NKJV

There are promises in the Word involving tears that encourage me:

They who sow in tears shall reap in joy and singing. Psalm 126:5 AMP

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5 AMP

It comforts me to know that Jesus shed tears. John 11:35 has those two words:

Jesus wept.

These were tears of empathy. When people I know and love are hurting I forge a deep connection when I cry with them. I remember hearing a story about a little girl who appreciated her friend because as she put it, “She helped me cry.”

Another time that Jesus cried was when He wept over the city of Jerusalem.

And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it,  Luke 19:41

Jesus shed tears over what the people had missed and what they must go through for not submitting to Him. I’ve wept over the same thing.

Another poignant time of tears in the Bible is when Peter weeps tears of repentance. I’ve done that lately too.

…for the second time a cock crowed. And Peter remembered how Jesus said to him, Before a cock crows twice, you will utterly deny Me…three times. And having put his thought upon it [and remembering], he broke down and wept aloud and lamented. (Mark 14:72 AMP)  

I thought of negative type of tears that can cause us to go deeper into despair. They are when we cry out of self-pity, bitterness, or anger. Also we can cry to manipulate others with our tears—to try to get our own way. My goal is to cry healthy tears that cleanse and bring healing as well as a deeper connection to the Lord.

My favorite verse about tears is Revelation 21:4 (ESV)

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

In heaven I will have no more reason to cry. I will be with Jesus, the One who loves me most. At long last I will be safe in His arms. What a glorious time and place that will be.

“Cry Out to Jesus” by Third Day

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

 

 

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Breaking Up With Fear

When I think of freedom, I often come back to the subject of freedom from fear.

Not long ago, I heard a song called “The Breakup Song,” where the singer belts out a tune about dealing with fear in her life.

After I listened, I realized once again fear had invaded my life. Lately, I engaged in emotional eating. I did this in an attempt somehow smother my fears with food. I felt tense at times, and fear also tried to push me into depression.

I have dealt with fears since I can remember—even as a little child.

When I became a Christian, the life verse the Lord gave me centered on fear: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 NIV

Today when I looked up that verse again, I noticed the word “so,” at the beginning. So I went back to look at the previous verse.

The last part of Isaiah 41:9 states this fact from the Lord: “I have chosen you and have not rejected you.”

Often, the enemy tries to make me afraid that I don’t belong to God—that He has rejected me because of the trials and traumas in my life. But here God tells me a truth to counteract that lie, and then He gives me a command to let go of fear.

Other verses come to mind when I think of fear.

“I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4

I confess at times I seek answers elsewhere when fear starts to overwhelm me. But I’ve learned over the years that only the Lord can deliver me from fear. When I speak to others, often my fears become worse—especially if I bring my fears to those who don’t have a strong faith in the Lord.

Psalm 56:3 reminds me what I need to do when fear arises. “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”

Fears come when my trust in God starts to slip. What I sometimes want is to believe that if God is trustworthy, He won’t bring trials, traumas or tragedies into my life. What makes Him trustworthy is that He remains with me throughout every circumstance and gives me everything I need not only to survive but to thrive. And He brings good out of every situation. If I back off from God when one of these happens in my life, my trust in Him starts to fade and fears take over.

I also think of Philippians 4:6 when I’m tempted to give in to fear: “Do not fret or have anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.”

And then comes the promise of peace in verse 7. I like the words in brackets in the Classic Amplified version of the Bible, which defines peace.

“And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (AMPC)

The instructions in these verses give me a remedy for fear. My problem can be that I choose to ignore them. I need to seek God, trust God, choose not to fear and pray about everything.  The result of following these instructions is that He will help and strengthen me, I will be delivered from fear, and I will have peace that God can be trusted.

Over the past several years, my goals center on trusting God more. In order to do that, I must as the song title suggests, break up with fear. And I need to keep aware of fear trying to creep back into my heart.

So right now I give God my fears—about the publishing process in regard to my book, about my aging parents, about loved ones who making unwise choices, about the prodigals I pray for, about those I know and love who refuse to let God into their hearts and lives even when dire consequences take place, about those who reject me…

God doesn’t want me to face these circumstances on my own. And He doesn’t want me to have fear about them.

Today I choose to trust God and receive His peace.

How about you?

The Breakup Song by Francesca Battistelli

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

PS Sing along with the song when the singer gives the instruction. It’s freeing.

 

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Letting Go of Cons

Recently I talked to a friend who feels hopeless about her marriage. During our conversation these words which expressed her frustration stood out to me:

“I just can’t control what he’s doing.”

I thought how often that has been a frustration in my relationships.

I confess I have often tried to control the other person when what they did bothered me. But what I’ve learned along the way is that I can’t control what the other person does, but I can control my reaction to it.

As I thought about this, some other words which begin with “con” came to my mind. I realized when I feel overwhelmed by my inability to control others, instead of having a godly response, I can fall into the trap of these three additional “con” words.

The first one is condescension. I begin to look down on the other person and view their behavior as so much worse than anything I would ever do. The conclusion I come to is: “I’m better than you.” Condescension is fueled by pride and goes against God’s instruction to “in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3 ESV)

The second word that came to mind is contention. I looked up the word and read this: “heated disagreement.” Some of the synonyms listed were: dispute, argument, discord, conflict, friction, strife, dissension, disharmony.” When I think of the word contention this verse comes to mind: “It is better to live in a corner of a roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman” Proverbs 21:9 NASB

The third word which came to my mind that can flow from frustration over not being able to control, was condemnation. The dictionary defines the word this way: “the expression of very strong disapproval; censure; the action of condemning someone to a punishment; sentencing.” Synonyms for condemnation are: criticism, denunciation, vilification, reproof.

As I contemplated these three words, condescension, contention, and condemnation, I saw that my friend was engaged in all three. I realized, too, that often I let these three “cons” be my reaction to not being able to control people in my life, especially my husband, my children, and my grandchild.

I thought more about this and wondered how I could react differently.

Three other words came to mind. These words started with “com.” They are communication, compassion, and comfort.

How different these words are from the first three, and what a difference they make in my relationships when I embrace them.

My contemplation on this subject continued, and I thought that sometimes the One I can’t control is God. And when I can’t get Him to do what I want Him to do, I can react with condescension and contention. I confess I sometimes act as if I know better than God and at times I contend with Him to try to get Him to do my bidding. So far I haven’t condemned God, but that’s what people do when they lose their faith in God and refuse to connect to Him.

I’m glad I had my conversation with this friend. I learned how often I can have a bad reaction when I feel frustrated that I can’t control the negative behaviors of others or God allowing negative circumstances into my life.

Instead of doing the three cons: condescension, contention, or condemnation, I can choose communication (with God communicating is prayer, which I neglect when I’m in the trap of being upset that God allowed trials, traumas, or tragedies), compassion, and comfort. Although I never considered before the act of being compassionate toward God or offering comfort to Him, when I’m pleasing Him by trusting Him, perhaps I am doing just that.

God lavishes these three on me on a regular basis as I draw close to Him—even when I’ve blown it.

That’s what I suggested to my friend–drawing close to God. I offered to pray with her. She refused.

This thought hit me just now. I do feel frustrated that I can’t control her loss of faith in God–her falling from grace. But I refuse to give in to condescension, contention, or condemnation.

Lord, help me to continue to communicate with her, have compassion for her, and comfort her as she battles hopelessness.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JT0k3xioiwc

Love & The Outcome–When We Love

 

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