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Do I Have a Spirit of Offense?

Photo by Christian Fregnan on Unsplash

Something our culture today is really great at is – offense. It is almost mind-blowing just how easily offended people are today. And it is sad. Because when we are so easily offended, we also have a lack of unity, relationship, emotional connection, harmony, and teamwork. We also miss out on most of the fun, joy, and blessings in life.

THE TRUTH IS

  • Criticizing other people is super easy.
  • Looking at myself and my own faults and taking responsibility for changing myself is HARD.

It is human nature to go around blaming others and pointing our fingers at other people in disgust while we believe we are wonderful, good, and virtuous. It takes incredible spiritual maturity to be willing to honestly look at ourselves and our issues. But God calls us to take responsibility for our own lives first. He calls us to remove the “beam” from our own eye so that we can see clearly enough to remove the “speck” from someone else’s eye (Matt. 7:1-5).

How can I tell if I have a “spirit of offense”?

  1. Am I more concerned about being “right” about everything than anything/anyone else?
  2. Do I tend to focus on other people’s faults?
  3. Do I feel it is my job to correct people’s mistakes in many areas of life?
  4. Do my words tend to be laced with negativity and criticism about situations and people?
  5. Do I “vent” often to others about things other people did to upset me?
  6. Do I tend to have a short fuse and/or raise my voice easily?
  7. Do I believe that it is unacceptable for people to disagree with me?
  8. Do I feel it is my duty and responsibility to make people change their minds to match my opinions, my convictions, and my beliefs – by verbal force – if necessary?
  9. Do I verbally attack, insult, or try to humiliate people who think or act differently than I want them to?
  10. Do I think I truly know best and everyone else would be a lot better off if only they listened to my great wisdom?
  11. Do I have a hard time forgiving even the smallest slights from others?
  12. Do I tend to hold onto grudges, resentment, and bitterness?
  13. Do I tend to have very rigid expectations and be unable to bend or be flexible in relationships?
  14. Do I tend to be a perfectionist and get upset if things are not exactly the way I think they should be?
  15. Do I go on an all-out verbal assault on anyone who dares to question or criticize me – assassinating the person’s character and acting like a prosecuting attorney in a criminal trial?
  16. Do I have difficulty finding sin in my own life and tend to assume I am a “very good person” with few sins in my own life and have no trouble at all finding a lot of sin and wrongdoing in other people’s lives?
  17. Do I tend to assume the worst possible motives of others?
  18. Do I have to have the last word in an argument?
  19. Do I think of myself as morally superior to other people?
  20. Do I tend to burn a lot of bridges in my relationships and cut people out of my life even if they apologize and try to change?
  21. Am I much more concerned with voicing my opinion and telling people my thoughts than understanding what other people think or understanding their perspectives?
  22. Do I tend to find negative things to say about the pastor’s sermon, my boss, my parents, my in-laws, the way my husband helped me with the kids, the way my son took out the trash, etc…?
  23. Do I always feel it is my responsibility to confront people on anything they say about which I don’t agree, no matter how small the issue may be?
  24. Do I feel everyone around me owes me an answer for their thoughts, words, decisions, and deeds? Like it is my right to question them?
  25. Do I give the “cold shoulder” treatment to people often?
  26. Am I quick to share (gossip) all about the terrible things other people have done to me – to my husband, my family, my coworkers, and others?
  27. Do I tend to verbally abuse other people who don’t agree with me, insulting them and cutting them down?
  28. Do I let my emotions have free reign and let my anger have its way when someone ticks me off and not restrain my words if I feel even slightly offended?
  29. Do I genuinely wish harm on people who don’t do what I want or who disagree with me?
  30. Do I freak out if people even talk about their religious or political beliefs if they don’t match mine? Like I really don’t think anyone else should get to have free will but me?

If I answer, “yes,” to several, or maybe (*gulp*), ALL of these questions – it’s time to consider that I may have a significant issue with a spirit of offense.

I, personally, had this sin festering uncontrollably in my life for many years. It truly was a painful way for me to live, and it was painful for those around me, too. The fruit of my life was: bitterness, resentment, worry, fear, control, anxiety, depression, frustration, loneliness, lack of emotional intimacy with others, and broken relationships.

Greg actually said to me one time, many years ago, “You LIKE to be miserable. You want to be miserable. You don’t want to be happy.”

I started to argue with him, of course.

But then, I actually stopped and thought about it. I realized that I was pretty negative and I was rather miserable. I don’t think I actually enjoyed misery. But that sure is where I camped out for many years. I didn’t know how to fix it. But maybe, for once back then, I had to acknowledge that Greg was actually right!

(Now I know he has quite a lot of wisdom to share, if I am willing to listen and receive humbly. He can sometimes see my blindspots and help point me toward a better life.)

God’s Word says pride is one of the most deadly sins.

The root of a spirit of offense is – PRIDE. Big time pride.

Pride was the sin of Satan. He wanted to exalt himself to be equal with God and wanted others to worship and follow him instead of God. His temptation to Eve was that if she ate the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, she would “be like God.”

Satan appeals to our pride still, today. His tactics haven’t changed a lick. Satan loves for us to take offense and to think highly of ourselves. He loves to help create division, tension, offense, hatred, bitterness, contention, arguments, jealousy, and resentment. When we participate in these things, we give him authority in our lives to destroy us and to use our lives to help destroy others.

What does God say about pride?

  • There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers. Prov. 6:16-19
  • The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate. Prov. 8:13
  • Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Prov. 16:18
  • One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor. Prov. 29:23
  • “Knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. 1 Cor. 8:1

The Cure for Pride is Humility.

I must continually humble myself before God and acknowledge that HE is God. I am not. I stop exalting myself above God in my heart and mind. I turn from my pride and embrace that God alone is good and righteous. I am not. I need Jesus and His blood. I have no goodness on my own apart from what Jesus did for me on the cross.

I get off of the throne of my life. I stop demanding that other people look up to me and exalt me. I stop demanding to be exalted by others.

I set God, alone, firmly on the throne of my life. I acknowledge that He, alone, has all wisdom and it is infinitely higher than any human wisdom, including mine. I stop being an enemy of God and I bow my heart and knee to His Lordship in every area of my life.

  • “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6
  • Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 1 Pet. 5:6

I love the quotes from Andrew Murray in his book, “Humility“:

  • Pride must die in you, or nothing of heaven can live in you.
  • Here is the path to the higher life: down, lower down! Just as water always seeks and fills the lowest place, so the moment God finds men abased and empty, His glory and power flow in to exalt and to bless.”
  • Humility is the displacement of self by the enthronement of God.

The Bible Has Great Wisdom for Us about How to Deal with Offense:

  • Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense. Prov. 19:11
  • For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matt. 6:14-15
  • Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Rom. 12:19
  • Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Eph. 4:26-27
  • Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. James 1:19-21
  • For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. James 3:16
  • Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Gal. 6:1-3
  • And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. 2 Tim. 2:24-26

Summing Up

Ultimately, every sin is against God. He will deal with it. He will bring about justice and vengeance for any sin that has not been covered by the blood of Jesus. I can entrust myself to the Lord. I don’t have to make people do things. I don’t have to freak out when people don’t understand me or don’t agree with me. I don’t have to try to control them and change them myself.

This doesn’t mean truth is relative. God’s truth is absolute, according to the Bible. But I don’t have to try force truth – or my opinions – on people. I can share with them if they are open to it and trust God to work in their hearts. I can pray for Him to illuminate their eyes.

I can rest in God’s love and goodness. I can rest in His sovereignty and Lordship. And I can invite Him to work powerfully to change and heal me and to transform others and heal them, too.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t ever have to address sin or wrong doing in other people’s lives. I absolutely may need to, at times. I may also need to set very clear boundaries, or even remove myself from certain toxic relationships if people refuse to repent and change if they are severely sinning against me. But I can approach other people’s sin God’s way and from a posture of humility, love, honor, and respect – rather than with a judgmental, critical, hateful spirit.

And I must be very much on guard against a spirit of offense in my heart every day and repent if I notice it is starting to creep in.

Prayer of Repentance

Lord,

Expose the depths of sin in our hearts. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom.3:23). Maybe no one has ever confronted us in Your love about our sin. Don’t let us continue to be blind to the great extent of our sin and the massive debt which we owe to You. We all struggle with pride. We all struggle with offense and wanting to be “right.” We are so small – just creatures made of dust. And You are the One true God, King, and Creator of the universe. How dare we exalt ourselves to be equal to You or above You in our hearts and minds?

Our pride offends You. It destroys us. It destroys others around us. It kills our relationships. It creates division and severe damage in our marriages and families. It is an instrument of the enemy. We don’t want to live in pride and a spirit of offense any more! We humble ourselves on our faces before You. We need Your help! We can’t fix ourselves or clean ourselves up. We are a mess without You.

Cleanse us from all of our sin by the powerful blood of Jesus Christ that was shed for us on the cross. We bow humbly before You, acknowledging that You, alone, are worthy to be called, Lord. We are not. We are creatures who are dependent on Your mercy and grace. We have no holiness of our own. Our greatest attempts at righteousness look like bloody, nasty, menstrual rags in Your sight (Isa. 64:6).

Robe us with the holiness and righteousness of Jesus. Transform us and conform us to the image of Christ because that is Your will for us and it is very good (Rom. 8:29) . Purify us and make us clean and radiant in Your sight now and forever!

Help us to grow in humility. Help us to exalt and honor You, alone. Help us to have proper reverence for You in our hearts. Help us to close the door to the enemy and to our flesh and sinful nature. We want to live in the power of Your Spirit from now on and in the power of Jesus’ victory over sin and the grave.

Fill us with love and faith in You. Fill us with Your supernatural love, grace, and mercy for our fellow travelers on this journey. Grant Your beautiful Spirit of unity to our marriages, families, churches, and our nation.

Amen!

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How has God spoken to you on this issue? Do you have any wisdom to share with us?

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DEVOTION IDEAS

Check out these verses sometime this week. Each topic could make a wonderful study for your devotional time each day.

Bible Verses about Offense

Bible Verses about Pride

Bible Verses about Forgiveness

Bible Verses about Humility

Verses about Vengeance

 

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20 Signs That God Is about to Do Something AMAZING in Someone’s Life

Photo by Robert Metz on Unsplash

I have walked beside hundreds and hundreds of women on this journey. There are several telltale signs that I have noticed that I want to share with you. When I see these indicators beginning to unfold in someone’s life, it means that God is at work, opening her eyes and preparing her heart. It also means that things are about to get beautiful!

This is often a progression that happens in steps over time.

The woman (or man):

  1. Stops blaming other people, making excuses for, or justifying her sin and takes full responsibility for things she has done wrong. She admits that she is a sinner. A wretched sinner. Completely unable to be “good enough” to pass God’s standard of perfect holiness on her own. She acknowledges that she deserves to be separated from God because of her sin.
    • For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Rom. 3:23 
    • For the wages of sin is death… Rom. 6:23a
    • Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Rom. 7:24
  2. Genuinely grieves over her sins, seeing just how great a debt she owes to Jesus and just how unimaginably holy God is and how He can’t tolerate any sin in His presence at all.
    • Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. James 4:8-10
  3. Wants God’s cleansing, healing, His new life, and a close relationship with the Lord.
    • On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” John 7:37-38
    • For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus, our Lord. Rom. 6:23
  4. Begins to grasp the overwhelming magnitude of the unconditional, divine love of Christ specifically for her and His goodness toward her, in spite of her wretched condition. Jesus left heaven and all of His glory in order to come rescue her, while she was still in rebellion against Him. He loved her with a love that is beyond human ability to fathom. She sees that there is no greater love in all the universe than the love of Jesus for His people. All other love begins to look faded and tarnished in comparison. 
    • But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Rom. 5:8
    • But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved. Eph. 2:4-5
    • That you, being rooted and grounded in love,  may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Eph. 3:17-19
  5. Humbles herself greatly before the Lord, realizing her total dependence on God’s provision. 
    • And you were dead in the trespasses and sins. Eph. 2:1
    • For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Eph. 2:8-9
  6. Understands that only the perfect, finished work of Jesus on the cross can make her right with God in God’s sight. She begins to see that He lived the perfect life she could never live in her place. He died the death she deserved for her sin. He conquered sin, death, and hell on her behalf. He offers her eternal life after this life is over and abundant spiritual life in this world! God allows her to make a great exchange. Her sinfulness for Jesus’ holiness and righteousness. Her utter spiritual bankruptcy for Jesus’ overflowing spiritual abundance. Jesus’ death for her life. So God counts all that Jesus did as if she did those things when she receives the gift of Christ and His salvation. When God looks at her, He sees Jesus’ perfection. 
    • Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. Rom. 5:9-10
  7. Realizes that Jesus is the Greatest Treasure in the universe – and nothing else comes anywhere close to His worth. She is willing to give up everything to have Him. No sacrifice seems too great.
    • The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Matt. 13:44
  8. Desires to die to her old self – to her sinful nature, to her sinful desires, to her old human way of thinking, and to this world.
    • And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23
    • We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. Rom. 6:6
  9. Receives her new identity in Christ and God’s truth about her new status.
    • We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Rom. 6:4
    • There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Rom. 8:1
    • But God… raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Eph. 2:6
    • Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Cor. 5:17
  10. Hungers for God, His Word, and the kingdom of God. Has a healthy spiritual appetite for confession of sin, prayer, reading the Bible, praising and thanking God, and fellowship with the Body of Christ.
    • O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Ps. 63:1
    • Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Matt. 5:6
  11. Becomes teachable and ready to absorb and receive God’s truth, spiritual healing, and provision.
    • Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Prov. 3:5-6
    • Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. James 4:10
  12. Wants to do whatever it takes to be as close as possible to God, not to earn salvation or to get other things she wants, but just out of gratitude and love for the Lord – no matter the personal sacrifice involved. She wants to obey God – even if it means giving up previous priorities, time, money, sins, and completely changing her lifestyle to please the Lord. 
    • Jesus answered him, If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” John 14:23
  13. Accepts God’s Word as truth rather than her feelings, past experiences, past teaching in her life, the culture, and personal perception/wisdom.
    • Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. John 17:17
    • All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. 2 Tim. 3:16
  14. Seeks the Lord wholeheartedly even if no one else does, even if it is lonely. Even if her husband, her family, her children, or her friends don’t understand and don’t want to change like she does.
    • Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Matt. 10:37
  15. Desires God’s will far above her own knowing there is no other place she would rather be.
    • Not my will, but yours, be done.” Luke 22:42
  16. Trusts God – or determines that she wants to learn to trust God – and has new-found faith that God’s way will be best. Her fears begin to melt away.
    • For we walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Cor. 5:7
    • There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. 1 John 4:18
  17. Knows that God is good and understands God’s character as He reveals Himself in the Bible.
    • No one is good except God alone. Mark 10:18
  18. Is willing to give up lies about God, others, and self and rebuild her life on the Solid Rock of God’s Word alone.
    • Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.” Matt. 7:24-25
  19. Invites the Holy Spirit to have full control in her life. She fully yields to the Lordship of Jesus. She no longer wants her sinful nature to be in control, although she can still choose to act in the sinful nature. But now, she has the ability to choose to live in the Spirit! She begins to see the Fruit of the Spirit in her life.
    • For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. Rom. 8:6
    • But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Gal. 5:22-23
  20. Begins to experience the very divine love, grace, mercy of God for others in her life. She sees them with new eyes, with heavenly eyes. She can start to see their wounds and need for Jesus. And she can begin to extend the love, grace, and mercy of God that she received to others in every day life. She becomes a fruitful instrument for God’s Kingdom.
    • For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Gal. 5:14
    • I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

When I see these things happening, I know that God is transforming someone by the power of His Spirit. And I know that He is going to do something glorious that will bring much honor to Himself and much good to the person and the kingdom of Christ. It brings me such joy to watch God miraculously changing and healing people!

PRAYER

Lord, 

We can’t open anyone else’s eyes spiritually. We can’t even open our own eyes. We are totally dependent on Your Spirit to resurrect people’s souls from death to new life in Jesus. We invite You into this place and into each of our hearts. We invite You to breathe Your eternal and abundant Life into our souls. We invite Your Spirit to work in mighty ways and to bring salvation to many who didn’t know You before. And we invite You to continue Your good work, as You have promised You would, in those who know You already. We yield ourselves completely to Your Lordship! We long only for more and more of You – Your goodness, Your presence, Your love, Your healing, Your transformation for each of us to make us more like Jesus.

Thank You for the incredible gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. Thank You for loving us so much more than we could ever comprehend! Give us eyes to see and ears to hear Your Words and Your love for us. Empower us to choose the narrow way that leads to Life.

Amen!

 

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What are some signs you have seen in your own life, or in other people’s lives, that help you know that God is very much at work?

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God’s Healing for Suicidal Thoughts

Photo by Oscar Keys on Unsplash

I am so thankful for this dear sister’s story and for the victory she has experienced in Christ! We have all felt the darkness of despair. May we all experience the Light and hope of Jesus like this wife and mom did. (Shared with permission.)

————

Dear April,

I am writing to you after spending three delightful days with my grandson. The miracle in this is that I am a mother and grandmother at all.

You see, I have struggled with depression off and on my whole life. I seriously contemplated ending my life around 32 years ago, and then again 9 years ago.
Thirty-two years ago I felt so betrayed by a boyfriend, that I felt worthless and that life was too hard. With his unfaithfulness and my sensitive nature, I felt destroyed.

He was my idol, my false god. I placed my own personal value upon how he treated me. He treated me like trash, and I absorbed that identity.

What saved me from taking my life? Three things:

  1. Personal guilt I would feel toward my parents and siblings.
  2. I knew this was against my church’s teaching.
  3. I believed God did not like suicide.

Even though I felt no personal desire to live, I reasoned that if God wouldn’t give a free pass for people to just “quit” life when someone wanted to, then He must have another way out of the mess. In my core, I believed in a good God. Life could be cruel, but surely not the Creator of life?

I remember feeling numb and just praying, “Help me, God.” I went through the motions of living. I held on. I met my future husband one year later. We will celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary this year.

So why in 2009, while on an island vacation with our four children did I feel suicidal again?

This time I felt unneeded, unappreciated, and unimportant.

My husband was extremely successful, admired, and appreciated at work. I stayed home with our children, working very hard to cook, clean, drive, keep up with laundry and dishes, help with homework, etc., and earned no money. I wanted to home school, but my husband wouldn’t let me. I watched our children’s spiritual lives drying up. I was frequently undermined in front of our children by my husband. I was rarely respected and the children saw that.

Needless to say, I became depressed. I remember crying a lot behind my sunglasses on that vacation in 2009, sitting in a bathroom stall trying to decide if I should overdose in that bathroom or go somewhere else. I spent many hours by myself. My husband and the children were having a great time in all the pools, in the ocean, and at the bar…no one knew what I was going through. They still don’t know and would be shocked to read this. My husband still refers to that vacation as a favorite family trip.

Again, making an idol had brought me to the point of ending my life.

What was my idol? My feeling of being a relevant member of my family. This time I didn’t feel like trash. I just felt irrelevant. They could find anyone to cook, clean, etc…

So, what stopped me this time? Two things:

  1. They would have to ship my body back to the U.S., and what a pain that would be…and it would be embarrassing to them.
  2. I still thought God would highly disapprove. I would have to face Him, with my final act being one of disobedience.

My whole life I’ve based my decisions on other people’s opinions; I have idolized their opinions, or what I have perceived their opinions to be. And my feelings have ruled my reason.

  • It is amazing to me that in my depression, I could only hear the voice of death. No other ideas or solutions for making my life better came to mind. I was in a dark cloud.

In 2010 I went back to work and loved my job. In 2012 I wanted out of the marriage. In 2013 my husband’s job changed where he had to travel a lot. He asked me to quit work. I cried. But I quit for our children. I had time to google things I wondered about like “how to be a peaceful wife.” Literally, I googled that. I just wanted to be peaceful – forget happy.

Well, I gobbled up your blog, April. And for Lent in 2014, I did Nina Roesner’s Respect Dare. I begged God for help. My husband started to treat me kindly, as I started to respect the memory of all those good qualities he had when we got married and all his good qualities he still had but I had ignored because of my hurt feelings. I’m not perfect and neither is he.

Shockingly, to me, each family member has come to me for advice on different things within the past two years. Sometimes they follow what I say and sometimes they just listen. It’s free will at this point. I ask God to help me help Him with His kingdom. I hope I have helped my Beloved King in some ways. I pray His forgiveness for my failures and near disasters.

Why did I want to share this? Mental illness and depression are very real. Putting other gods before the One true God twice nearly ended my life. These are my darkest secrets. Could anyone be helped by my story?


From The Peaceful Wife:

If you need help because you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, discouragement, or depression, please know that those thoughts are not from the Lord. If you are experiencing a spirit of death, you can be set free from that in Jesus! He is all about a Spirit of LIFE!

Don’t listen to the awful lies of Satan. He is the one who wants to steal, kill, and destroy you and your family. He is the one who speaks despair, hopelessness, and darkness into your life. Choose to turn to Jesus. He is the Good Shepherd who goes after the one lost sheep who has gone astray. He knows where you are. You are not too far away for Him to save you. Turn to the Bible. Turn to Light and Life in Him. He can heal you. You can have a saving relationship with Him.

The enemy wants you to believe horrible lies like:

The truth of God is:

  • You have value because you were created by God and everything He makes is precious and valuable.
  • You have hope because of what Jesus has done for you on the cross if you will turn to Him and yield your life to Him as Savior and Lord.
  • You are dearly loved – more than you could possibly imagine – by the God who created you. Not because you are so good, but because He is so good and He IS love.
  • You can’t be good enough on your own, but – what good news! You don’t have to be good enough. Jesus was good enough! God will allow His life to count for your own, and His death to count for your death. And He will give you His power so that you can walk in holiness and you can please and know the Lord. All you have to do is turn away from your old ways, your sin and your old toxic thinking and turn to His truth and His life.
  • Jesus offers you a brand new heart, a new Spirit, and a new life in Himself if you will come to Him in faith and trust.
  • The greatest and most lasting peace, joy, hope, and fulfillment only exist in knowing Jesus. When we are close to Him, He shares with us all of His spiritual riches and treasures.

PRAYER:

Thankfully, we can pray anytime! God is always ready to hear from us when we call out to Him for help.

Lord,

The mind set on the flesh is death. But how we thank You that the mind that is set on You is LIFE and PEACE! (Rom. 8:6) You have the power to transform our thinking, our minds, our hearts, and even our circumstances. Help us to acknowledge that we need You desperately. We all do. On our best days and at our lowest points. None of us are good. None of us are perfect – not even remotely. Only You are Good, Lord. The only goodness we can have comes directly from You. We need Jesus. We need Your cross. We need Your salvation. We need Your healing. We need our old selves to be crucified with you and buried with You, Jesus. We need new life in You that comes through Your resurrection power. We need Your transformation. We need the power of Your Word and Your Spirit.

Breathe Your LIFE into every hurting heart today. Heal wounded, broken souls. Conquer the enemy. Conquer the lies. Let all who are in darkness see Your great light. Let all who are chained and shackled in the prison of sin and the prison of Satan see their chains falling off by Your power and walk out into Your glorious light and hope. Let today be the day of salvation and healing for all who are thirsty, defeated, and weary. Let them come to You and find true rest for their souls.

Amen!

SOME LIFE-GIVING BIBLE VERSES (ESV):

  • The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Ps. 34:18
  • He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Ps. 147:3
  • Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Prov. 3:5-6
  • For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jer. 29:11
  • Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. … Rom. 5:2-8
  • For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom. 8:38-39
  • For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Rom. 10:13
  • Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. 1 Cor. 3:16-17 (For believers in Christ, we are God’s temple)
  • For you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Cor. 6:20
  • But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Cor. 12:9

More encouraging verses.

IF YOU NEED IMMEDIATE HELP FOR A SERIOUS ISSUE:

Please contact a trusted pastor, or go to the free one-time counseling services available at www.focusonthefamily.com or check out the counselors available at www.biblicalcounseling.com

If you feel you are an immediate danger to yourself, please call 911, or ask someone to take you to the emergency room. If someone you know is threatening suicide, please call 911 and get help right away. There are a lot of reasons for suicidal thoughts. Sometimes it is because of our own sinful thoughts or a spiritual battle. Sometimes suicidal thoughts can be a side effect of certain medications or a side effect of stopping certain prescriptions too quickly. There are other possibilities, too. But if you feel like you want/need to harm yourself, you are not thinking clearly and you need help right away. Please reach out for help. You will be so glad you did.

SHARE:

How has God given you hope when things were hopeless? Has there been a time when God encouraged you and pulled you up out of a dark pit in your life? We’d love to hear about it.

Do you need prayer and hope today? I’d be glad to point you to Jesus and the healing that is available to you in Him. But, please, if you are in immediate danger, please don’t wait for me to be able to respond, but get local, experienced help right now.

My Commenting Policy – Let’s seek to use this place to honor the Lord, our spouses, our families, and others. Let’s seek not to share lots of details about other people’s sin here or to tear anyone else down, but let’s seek to build up one another in our faith. Thank you so much! <3

RESOURCES:

How to Have a Relationship with Christ – this is the first and greatest step toward REAL peace. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. When He is seated firmly on the throne of your life, He gives genuine, lasting peace.

Why Should I Not Commit Suicide? by www.gotquestions.org – also provides suicide hotlines and resources

Lacey Sturm’s story – she was an atheist teenager who was planning suicide, but God intervened! Now she is a Christian who sings “The Mercy Tree.”

Articles about suicide at www.gotquestions.org

Articles about suicide at www.desiringgod.org

Identifying the Lies We Have Embraced (about God, others, and ourselves – lies lead to bondage and thoughts of harming ourselves or others)

The Idol of Happiness

8 Powerful Keys to Peace

Finding Contentment in Christ Alone in Painful Trials

Praying Life into Your Marriage and Family – changing the spiritual atmosphere in your home

Are You Giving the Enemy Authority in Your Life?

Roots of Insecurity, Low Self-Esteem, Sinful Jealousy, and a Desire to Control

Real Security – in my identity in Christ!

What Does God Say about Me?

Triggers for Sinful Thoughts – sinful thinking leads to fear, depression, isolation, discouragement, and hopelessness

 

 

 

A Critical Spirit VS. a Godly Rebuke

Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash

 

As believers in Christ, we are not to have a critical, judgmental spirit, but there are times when we do need to share a life-giving, godly rebuke. We don’t just want to ignore a situation where someone is hurting others or himself/herself.

How can we rightly discern the difference?

Here is a picture that helps me. I imagine someone is in danger, hanging perilously from the edge of a tall cliff.

  • Do I want to kick the person’s hands so he/she falls farther?
  • Do I want to throw him/her a lifeline?

If I have a critical, judgmental spirit (if I am acting in my sinful flesh):

My motives will include things like: resentment, bitterness, condemnation of others, self-righteousness, hatred, jealousy, pride, hypocrisy, gossip, slander, or some other sinful motive. I do not examine myself first. I do not see sin in my own life. I approach the other person harshly and/or go to other people and tell them how terrible this person is. I cause division and more hurt. I set myself in the place of judge and jury – maybe even executioner. My sinful response only adds gasoline to the fire.

  • My primary goals are to exalt myself and hurt others. I want to see the person I criticize defeated. I view him/her as “the enemy.”

If I am operating in the power of the Holy Spirit:

My motives will include things like: wholehearted love for God, unconditional love for all the people involved, truth, a desire to see the sinning person turn to the Lord in true repentance, a willingness to examine my own life for sin first, a longing for spiritual healing for all involved, a desire for genuine unity in the Body of Christ, hatred of sin and the destruction it causes. I seek to approach the sinning person very humbly. I want to honor God’s Word in Matt. 7:1-5, Matt. 18:15-17, and Gal. 6:1-2 about how to lovingly, rightly confront a sinning brother/sister in Christ.

First I deal with sin in my own life thoroughly before the Lord and I also repent to anyone I have injured. I seek to make things right. Then I approach the person in private. I don’t share details all over social media or with my coworkers and friends. If the brother/sister still doesn’t repent, I bring 1-2 strong believers along with me to address the issue – again, in private. And then, if the person still doesn’t repent, we are supposed to take them before the church. I am to watch myself carefully, so that I do not fall into any sinful temptation myself in this process.

  • My primary goals are to exalt and honor the Lord, to build up His kingdom, and to bless and love others. I am throwing a lifeline to someone who is about to be swept away by danger. I want to see the real enemy (Satan) defeated and everyone in the Body of Christ healthy and functional. I want to see those who don’t know the Lord come to Him and be transformed and healed.

Lord,
Please radically transform our hearts and minds with the power of Your Spirit! How we need Your power and holiness each moment – that we might love You and love others. Use us to shine Your light in this dark world. Be greatly glorified in our lives and help us to rightly handle Your Word and difficult relationships.
Amen.

Check out the post below for a great summary about what it means to properly give a rebuke.

https://www.gotquestions.org/rebuke-believer.html

 

SHARE:

What are some red flags you have noticed to help you see your motives clearly before you attempt to address someone else’s sin or wrongdoing?

What things have you learned to help you respond in a godly way?

 

Much love!

 

IF YOU NEED PERSONAL HELP WITH A TOUGH PROBLEM:

If you are facing a difficult situation and someone is sinning against you and you need to talk about it – please seek wise, godly counsel in private.

Check out the free counseling resource at www.focusonthefamily.org, or you can check out www.biblicalcounseling.com to find a counselor. Or please check with a trusted pastor or godly mentor for a referral.

Of course, if you are facing someone who is extremely abusive or acting in dangerous ways, it may not be safe to confront them privately. There are times when things are so bad you may need to go directly to the police or seek outside help ASAP.

 

 

 

God Changed a Wife’s Heart for Her Imperfect Husband

I am so thankful to be able to share other women’s testimonies of God’s incredible power to change and heal hearts, lives, and relationships. Every story and situation is unique. I know God can – and will – give each woman His divine wisdom about the specifics as she seeks Him wholeheartedly and is led by His Spirit. And yet, so many of the central principles we all have to learn as believers in Christ are the same. I always love to see that. Keep in mind that time frames and outcomes may be different in different stories. The main thing is that we are close to the Lord and we are doing what He calls us to do each day in our specific situation. I pray this precious sister’s story might be a blessing to you today:

Hi April!

I wanted to share a story with you about how God completely changed my heart and my marriage through the gospel and His will for wives to submit to their husbands

(Note, God’s definition of “submission” is NOT at all the same as the world’s, it is not about slavery or BSDM – and it all begins with our submission to Christ as Lord).

I was a new wife when I stumbled across your website. A zealous new Christian who “had it all figured out” in her mind. Deep down I thought I was very obedient, a good wife and my husband was the man who was a rebel against God. Ignorant to my own sin, I would preach the Bible to my husband. He knew the scriptures, but in my mind he was just a rebel who wouldn’t submit to God.

I didn’t realize the very destructive and severe sin in my heart. I was striving in my works to be perfect. My heart was hardened, but still, I did want to submit. The problem was I thought I already was. I carried bitter thoughts towards my man, I was lifted up in pride, definitely more “spiritual.” I was “righteous” in my own eyes until…

I kicked my husband out one day and he walked on the streets all night.

I told a new sister in Christ how horrible he was and that I told him to leave. He struggled with smoking and pornography, and couldn’t hold a job. I was better than he was in my eyes. Thankfully by God’s grace this sister confirmed the scriptures I knew but brought them to me in a new light. She pointed out how the Lord wanted my heart to honor and reverence my husband rather than the awful self-righteous and condemning judgement that I previously had towards him.

That night was the beginning of a journey, through new eyes. Eyes that had been enlightened by the TRUE grace of God where I found true repentance unto salvation and my heart began to change. I told my husband to come back home.

Things didn’t change instantly.

The Lord had to unwind every bitter thought I had towards him and replace them with honoring thoughts. I felt, for a while, like every day the Lord was nit-picking new sin in my heart. But the closer I got to knowing the Lord, the more delight I had in repentance and suddenly I was a lot more joyful and at peace to submit to my husband. It was no longer a burden, but I started to embrace his leadership and look forward to serving him. I recognized that being my husband’s helpmeet was God’s perfect will.
We used to argue constantly and say hurtful things. Suddenly there was no longer as much to argue about. I was not as easily offended when I felt hurt by him, but could forgive him quickly and move forward, which would soften his heart towards me. Before my husband was so discouraged, he had no confidence to work. Recently the Lord provided him with a position of authority in a workplace that he loves and he excelling at.

I pray for him almost every day to succeed and do well, things I never used to pray for him.

Today we are in a better place, it is truly only by the abundant mercy of the Lord that we are where we are! I’m so excited to see all God has in store and pray that I can just encourage wives that they do have a choice in whether or not they can have a godly marriage. First it starts with a willing heart to serve the Lord, and therefore submit to our husbands as unto the Lord. I finally understand the scripture “seek first the kingdom of God and these things shall be added unto you.”
Have a blessed day. Your website was the beginning of my journey!

RELATED

Should a Christian Wife Consider Separation? – Separation is not ideal, however, there are times when this may be necessary, but only as the Lord leads under certain circumstances.
Biblical Submission – definition

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If you want to share with me about what the Lord has done in your life – as a wife, mom, or single woman, I’d love to hear about it! Just let me know if you want the message to be private, just for me, or if you give me permission to consider possibly sharing your (600-1200 word) story anonymously as a blog post. Send me a message on my Contact Page.

RESOURCES FOR WOMEN WHO NEED MORE HELP

If you are facing something really tough, I encourage you to get in touch with your local Bible-teaching church for godly mentors/counselors/pastors who may be able to direct you and who know you personally if you are having major issues or need one-on-one help.
Or you may contact resources like:
Focus on the Family – for a one time free counseling session and free counselor referral service
Nina Roesner’s eCourse Strength and Dignity
Ultimately, be sure to compare any advice or counsel any human gives to God’s Word and seek to do what He leads. <3

A Season of Spring Cleaning

Photo by Ethan Robertson on Unsplash

mohammad-amiri-239522-unsplashNOTE – The ebook version of The Peaceful Wife is FREE – today only (4-2-18) – at GooglePlay! 🙂

Spring is one of my favorite seasons. A time when all that was dead – or appeared to be dead – begins to awaken. Temperatures grow warmer. Buds and flowers begin to burst forth. Spring seems to be a celebration of resurrection!

It’s also such a wonderful time to do a thorough house-cleaning. When those junky, hidden places have been thoroughly dealt with – everything else is infinitely easier to keep clean, neat, and organized.

To me, a clean, tidy house brings a sense of peace, beauty, and sanctuary.

SOMETIMES SPRING CLEANING BRINGS NASTY SURPRISES

I had noticed a few little oval shaped black bugs on the floor at the bottom of the fridge sometimes for a number of months. Greg and I looked on top of the fridge, behind the fridge, and in the cabinet above the fridge and didn’t see anything a few months ago. So, I didn’t think much about it. I just swept up the little bodies when I saw some on the floor each week. Last week, I was doing a huge purge of the kitchen cabinets and major organizing. As I pulled things out of that cabinet above the refrigerator, I began to see the scope of the real problem.

We had an infestation of tiny bugs – warehouse beetles – apparently. Thousands of them, I would guess. They had made a nest in some dry cat food bags up there! It wasn’t until I really slowed down and began to thoroughly examine things – in the hidden, dark places – that I saw how significant the issue was and where the hidden source was. I threw out every bag of cat food and thoroughly cleaned that cabinet. YUCK!

Spring cleaning is also exactly what God wanted to do in my life over the past two months.

SPIRITUAL SPRING CLEANING IN MY LIFE

First, I had to really slow down. And, WOW, was that hard for me! I tend to want to go 100 mph. I tend to be awful at being still and resting. I felt like I was a freight train trying to come to a sudden stop. It took a good week or so into my break before I really could just be still before God. (Honestly, the Parkland, FL shooting happening on my first day of seeking to rest in the Lord caused me to have to do a lot of spiritual wrestling with fear, probably like a lot of moms of children in public high schools, before I could begin to do the other soul work God had for me.)

For over a week, I sensed:

So I yielded to Him and tried to just rest. No spiritual warfare for anyone – not even myself. No relationship advice-giving to anyone. As God helped me to finally slow way, way down – He gently, lovingly let me know it was time for some serious spring cleaning in my heart.

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

He began to show me some yucky stuff that I didn’t realize was thriving in some hidden, dark places in my heart and mind behind closed cabinet doors. Maybe I had seen a few dead bugs at the bottom of the refrigerator, but I hadn’t seen the entire extent and source of the problems before. He showed me that I had been so busy I had developed a:

  • Sense of self-importance, self-effort, and self-reliance – that’s nasty pride.
  • Spirit of hurry and rushing ahead.
  • Tendency to take on more than He was really calling me to carry rather than letting Him do all the heavy lifting.
  • Habit of not having a Sabbath rest from ministry – too much doing and not enough resting.
  • Lack of healthy balance in my priorities.

These things had to go!

I wanted to grow spiritually more than anything. I had asked God to show me what was blocking His Spirit from doing more in my life – and He did! Thank You, Lord! Whew, some parts of the past 7 weeks have been PAINFUL!!!! Like – really painful. But good. And necessary. The kind of pain that leads to healing.

  • I began to praise and thank Him more, longing to yield fully to Him, however and wherever He may lead, holding everything in my life loosely in my hands.
  • I studied more about His holiness in The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges. I was convicted of just how holy God is and how much I want to share in His holiness.
  • I focused on receiving His love, provision, truth, healing, and blessing.
  • I focused on keeping a much slower pace.
  • I spent a lot more time with my family.
  • I went on more walks.
  • I spent more time with God, in prayer, in His Word, and reading/listening to books to feed my soul.
  • I also found I had to replicate a number of steps I had taken early on in my journey as I prayerfully tried to discern the proper balance in various areas in my life. Thankfully, they are coming a bit easier this time. But it still takes some spiritual wrestling, at times, as we are in a spiritual growth spurt and facing new challenges.

God has given me a deeper sense than I have ever experienced before of a number of things like: His peace, His leading, His holiness, His majesty. He has helped me humble myself as I begged him to break anything in me that was not of Him and as I begged Him to refine me and cleanse me to make me holy and pleasing in His sight. He is continuing to help me receive more of Himself, His love, His power, and His transformation in my life. I plan to make some lasting changes to help me keep my own life and spirit more rested and balanced.

I plan to take things slowly and make sure I am following the Lord’s leading and Greg’s leading. I’m excited about what I believe God wants to do here and on my other sites. Please pray with me for God to give me (and Greg) the wisdom we need so that I can do things 100% God’s way and bring Him the most possible glory!

There is always so much to learn and so many blessings to be cherished from our amazing God. What a gift that we can share this road together with each other and the Lord.

CHANGES

My new vision and mission here, along with changes you can expect going forward.

My new commenting policy.

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I have MISSED y’all!!! Thank you for your patience. I’d love to hear what the Lord has been teaching you in the past month or two. Have you been undergoing any spiritual spring-cleaning yourself? I’m working extra today and tomorrow, but I can’t wait to hear all about what God has been doing in your life.

<3

Much love!

Secret Sin Does Not Stay Secret

In God’s mercy and grace, He will often allow it to be exposed eventually if we do not expose it ourselves and repent.

We may think that secret sin doesn’t hurt anyone. But it does. And it will hurt even more people once it is exposed if we try to keep it hidden.

Sin is never worth it!

It will cause us to lose everything that is truly most important.

  • Idolatry (loving, desiring, worshipping, and trusting something or some one else more than God – self, marriage, spouse, children, perfection, beauty, money, romance, control, etc…)
  • pride, self-righteousness, selfishness, self-reliance, self-exaltation, self-importance, false-humility
  • lust, porn use, sexual immorality, sexual abuse
  • drug/alcohol abuse/gluttony/addiction of any kind
  • physical abuse of other people/animals/self
  • emotional/spiritual/verbal abuse of other people, screaming at people, calling them names, insulting them
  • people pleasing, loving with strings attached, being codependent, being needy/clingy
  • giving up personhood, being passive, being a doormat, stuffing negative feelings
  • believing lies about God, others, and/or ourselves
  • lack of self-control, impatience
  • dishonesty
  • stealing, bribery
  • injustice
  • not believing God’s Word, not obeying God’s Word, rebelling against Him, saying the Bible is a bunch of myths or is not true, rejecting the Bible, rejecting the gospel
  • false religion, false teaching
  • abortion, murder, violence
  • hatred, unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment, rage, malice, racism, prejudice, favoritism
  • disrespect, control
  • rejecting God’s order for government and leadership in the nation, church, business world, and family
  • gossip, slander, betrayal
  • a critical, judgmental spirit
  • a divisive spirit
  • greed, love for money
  • unbelief in God
  • fear, worry, anxiety

It all has to go. Every bit of it.

Sin grieves God’s heart. It destroys other people and our relationships. It destroys us and, left unchecked, always leads to death on multiple levels. This is why God hates sin so much. He loves us and wants us to live abundant spiritual lives in Christ.

If there is some sin you think you have been hiding – from God or from other people – it is time to turn completely away from it to Christ! ASAP! It may be time to confess it to other people, too. Maybe to some strong believers in Christ who can help you figure out what the next step needs to be.

The enemy loves for us to keep dark things hidden away thinking they are secret. It is only when we allow all of the darkest places of our souls to be exposed to God’s blazing Light that we can truly heal in Christ.

Yes, this is super painful, just like scraping a wound that is full of gangrene is excruciating. But – just like debriding that wound to keep the whole body from becoming septic and dying – true repentance is equally necessary and life-saving.

Repenting of all sin is one of the first steps to living in the peace of Christ.

Before we can have a sweeping new Great Awakening in our land, we, the people of God, must be willing to humbly turn away from all of our own sin. It starts with us! Let’s embrace this critical time of purification so that we can begin to pray with power for God’s Spirit to move in miraculous, mighty ways in our nation.

and my people, who bear my name, humble themselves, pray and seek my face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

 

RELATED:

How Does My Personal, Private Sin Affect Others? – www.gotquestions.org

Leave Your Secret Sin Behind Today – www.desiringgod.org

 

The Cure for My Compulsion to Control – Part 2

We are continuing a series that started earlier this month:

Once I see that God is God and I am not and I begin to rebuild my thinking on His Word and truth alone, I am ready to begin the next phase of healing from my controlling ways.

GOD’S TRUTH WILL SET ME FREE IN EVERY AREA

I allow God’s Light and Truth into the the deepest foundations of my spiritual beliefs about every topic. I invite Him to help me completely tear out my old foundations and fixed beliefs that I have cherished for so long. Then I invite the Lord to help me begin to build on Jesus Christ and His Word alone.

  • Anything that is not from Him has no place in my life and has to be trashed. It is poison.
  • Anything that is from Him, I must embrace wholeheartedly even if I don’t understand it or like it at first.

I have to be ruthless about this. And yes, it is painful. But extremely necessary.

This is the path to peace and miraculous spiritual healing and deliverance. If I don’t do this, I will suffer a lot more pain in the long run. This is not a one-time-and-done thing – it is the path I will continue to take for the rest of my life. There are layers that God will reveal to me and I deal with each one as I see it. It is part of the refining and pruning process.

I have to be willing to question the things I have believed – maybe things I have thought were true since I was very young. I need to question the things I learned and absorbed growing up and even as an adult. Just because I have thought something was true for a long time, doesn’t mean it is true. Just because it feels familiar and feels safe, doesn’t mean I can keep it.

It is ALL about Him from now on and about what He says and how He sees me and everyone and everything.

I read my Bible with new eyes, inviting God to:

  • Teach me!
  • Change me!
  • Heal me!
  • Show me Your wisdom!
  • Empower me to obey whatever You ask of me!

I commit that I will obey God and do things His way from now on – with any passage I can clearly understand. And if I don’t understand something in scripture, I will seek to understand and obey. I commit to learning sound doctrine and to handle scripture rightly. Whatever God asks me to do, I know it will be the best thing for me, for my marriage, for my family, for the kingdom, and for His glory. Bringing Him glory is my highest purpose!

For me, the next step in healing was to see God’s design for authority for His people.

GOD DESIGNED A SPECIFIC AUTHORITY STRUCTURE FOR ALL BELIEVERS

Authority

When Christ is Lord, I also yield to His structure of authority in my life according to 1 Cor. 11:3, Rom. 13:1-3, and other scriptures. I don’t buy the world’s messages or trust my own human reasoning.

God chooses to lead me (and all believers) through His Spirit, His Word, prayer, circumstances, and also through people in places of designated authority in my life: church leaders, government leaders, police officers, managers at work, my husband at home, and parents for underaged children. He provides people in leadership positions to protect, provide for, bless, lead, and create order for His people.

Of great importance – in God’s design, positions of authority/roles have nothing to do with a person’s value. This is the opposite of the world’s system where greater authority = greater value.

Every person has equal value in His eyes. Each of us are made in His image (Gen. 1:27). Men, women, different races of people, older people, young people, and babies are all precious and dearly loved by the Lord. We are all co-heirs with Christ (Gal. 3:28). If anything, God has a special place in His heart for those with the least amount of authority – children, babies, the unborn, orphans, widows, refugees, migrants, and the poor. The purpose, in God’s kingdom, for this authority structure is that those who have the most strength and power are supposed to use their gifts to bless, provide for, nurture, and protect those under their care. And those who are in positions to lead are held to higher standards by the Lord.

For more on the concept of God’s structure for authority in every area of our lives, please check out these foundational posts:

I need to know who has the God-given proper authority in various areas of my life.

I know that God has ultimate authority and sovereignty over the universe. Then when I understand what humans are in places of God-given authority and what their responsibilities are vs. what my responsibilities are – I learn to stay within my healthy boundaries and I don’t try to take on authority/decisions that don’t belong to me. If I usurp someone else’s position of God-given authority and try to do someone else’s God-given job or if I disrespect those in positions of God-given authority, I will bring judgment on myself according to Romans 13:1-3.

When I honor God’s design in any area of my life, including this one, it leads to so much weight being taken off of my shoulders and leads to His peace as I trust Him, honor His will for me, and don’t try to control things that are not mine to control. Then I am cooperating with and submitting to God rather than fighting Him. I can’t please Him if I am opposing His methods.

God leads His people through human leaders to teach us to trust Him and to increase our faith. He did it with Moses. Some men rebelled against the authority of Moses during the exodus – and they paid a hefty price (Korah’s rebellion) because:

God counts rebellion against people in positions of God-given authority as rebellion against Himself.

God also led His people in the New Testament through the apostles and then through elders, deacons, pastors, prophets, and teachers. He accomplishes His will through kings, queens, presidents, and governors. He works through our managers and bosses at work. He works through our police officers and military leaders. He works through our husbands – even unbelieving ones – to lead us into His will. And He works through our parents and teachers when we are children.

God always has a clear authority structure for us to follow. It is His choice and part of His wisdom to lead us in this way “through cords of human kindness” (Hosea 11:4). If a person in a position of God-given authority abuses that position or asks us to defy God or His Word, then we must choose to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29). We don’t blindly follow people. We must use discernment. We don’t follow people into sin or away from God. God is the only one we can trust absolutely.

God uses our willingness to honor human God-given authorities to help us learn humility – which is one of the most important virtues in His sight – and to grow spiritually. Until we learn to properly submit to a person in authority, we can’t act as a person in authority in godly ways.

Note – I don’t want to allow people to abuse authority in my life and I don’t want to allow other people to take over the decisions and responsibilities that belong to me. If someone in a position of God-given authority is abusing his/her position, there should be other authorities over that person to whom we can respectfully appeal.

BEING IN A POSITION OF GOD-GIVEN AUTHORITY

When I have a position of God-given authority – I am a boss, a government official, a police officer, a teacher, or a parent of underage children – I must humbly always keep in mind that the purpose of God giving me such a position is always to accomplish His will and His purposes. It is not about me. It is about taking proper care of His beloved people and about doing His will. It is about dying to self, not becoming a tyrant.

Jesus called them over and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those in high positions act as tyrants over them. It must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” Matt. 20:25-27

 

 

Note – I have a whole chapter in my new book, The Peaceful Mom, that is releasing March 27, 2018 that may be a blessing. It is all about how we develop skewed thinking and how to correct it. There is a very helpful chart with a large number of lies we may be tempted to believe, the truth of the Bible, and scripture references to support those truths.

RELATED

Identifying the Lies We Have Embraced

 

The Cure for My Compulsion to Control – Part 1

Photo by Ashton Mullins on Unsplash

Last week I shared about how we can develop a compulsion to control other people, situations, and the Lord in this post. I thought I “had to try to control” other people and situations. I truly believed it was my responsibility and that everything would be a disaster if I didn’t make sure it all worked out right.

When I try to be in charge of things that are out of my control, I am trying to carry a very heavy weight that I was not designed by God to carry. This leads to extreme stress, frustration, depression, discouragement, anxiety, and a feeling of being completely overwhelmed. It is not the path to peace.

THE CURE FOR MY COMPULSION TO CONTROL IS VERY SIMPLE

meinchargeI need to have proper thinking about God, events, other people, and myself. I need truth.

In my old way of looking at things – subconsciously – I saw myself as very big and God and other people as rather small and mostly within my sphere of control. I would never have articulated it like that – because it sounds audacious. But this is how I lived. You could see it in the fruit of my life.

I am not saying it is painless or necessarily “easy” to give up control – but it IS simple when I see the differences between:

  • God’s responsibilities
  • Other people’s responsibilities
  • My responsibilities

Here is reality:

Goddiagram

 

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? Ps. 8:3-4

When I understand who God is and the place of people in the universe, then I can begin to properly relate to God, people, and myself.

THE TRUTH

  • God alone is God, I am definitely not God. Not even close.
  • God sent Jesus, His Son, to be the only Savior people need. I am not a savior.
  • God’s Spirit is the only one who can open blind eyes and convict people of sin. Not me.
  • God sits on the throne in the highest heavens. Every knee will bow to Him alone.
  • God has put all authority under Jesus’ feet.
  • Angels bow down to God, even the demons believe and tremble.
  • God alone is worthy of worship. I am not.
  • God reigns over the universe. I do not.
  • God has all power and all wisdom. I do not.
  • God loves me, and all people, very dearly because He IS love.
  • I have value because God loves me and I am created in His image.
  • My purpose is to love and obey God and bring Him glory – and to love others with God’s love pouring through me.

I can influence God, people, and circumstances to a degree, for bad, or for good (if I allow God to work through me). But I can only control myself – my attitude, my motives, my sin, my responses to others, my words, and my actions. And even then, I can only control myself in a healthy way with the power of the Spirit.

Just to recap, my actual responsibilities are to:

  • Control myself with God’s power.
  • Love, obey, and worship God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength – which brings glory to Him.
  • Love others with God’s love.

God3

 

I can be set free from my illusion of control. And that is definitely all it was – an illusion.

God’s truth truly does set me free! I can repent from my pride – my huge pride – thinking I was so big and important. And humbly receive God’s truth. What freedom!!!! I seek only to control the things that are truly mine and I trust God with circumstances and other people.

GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY AND WILL

Within God’s sovereignty is His permissive will and His perfect will. God’s permissive will is larger and accounts for people’s free will, their sin, the effects/consequences of sin, and Satan and his influence. But all of these things operate in the confines of God’s sovereignty and only what He allows can happen. And He uses all that does happen ultimately for His glory and for the ultimate good of those who love Him – to help conform us to the image of Christ.

He doesn’t make choices for us or violate our free-will. That is a good reminder for me that it is not my place to violate other people’s free-will either. God wants us, more than anything, to have the choice to voluntarily love Him or to reject Him. People need that choice in their relationships with me, too. The price of our free-will is very high. For us and for God. We experience earthly and eternal consequences of our choices. But we can never fall outside of His sovereignty and even Satan can never do anything without God’s permission. 

freewill3Godsperfectwill

This is how, in Christ, His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He does the heavy lifting. He takes responsibility for the big stuff.

THE FIRST STEP ON THE PATH TOWARD PEACE

I can step down off of the throne of my life and invite Jesus to reign as Lord over every part of my life.

This means total, humble, absolute surrender to Him, His will, and His control. I hold nothing back from Him.

This feels pretty terrifying at first because I have only really trusted myself before. But as I taste and see that God is good, I begin to realize He is much better at being deity than I ever could be and He is trustworthy. Infinitely more trustworthy than I am! He is the only one who is truly worthy of all of my faith, obedience, and submission. I also begin to realize that trusting Him is wise and safe and trusting myself is the most dangerous place to be.

NOTE – Don’t just take my word for anything. Dig into the Bible yourself. Find out what God’s Word has to say about these important issues and choose to build your life on Christ and the Solid Rock of His Word!

RELATED

How to Have a Relationship with Christ

The Spiritual Healing That Is Available to Each of Us in Christ – by Radiant

7 Keys to Finding Real Peace

Identifying the Lies We Have Embraced

The Pain That Pushes Us to Control

Surrendering the Burden of Controlling My Husband – by Shannon Popkin

 

RESOURCES ABOUT GOD, HIS CHARACTER, PEOPLE, AND FREE WILL

The Attributes of God – by www.gotquestions.org

“Who Is God?” – Secret Church series by David Platt

In the Image of God – by John Piper

A Beginner’s Guide to Free-Will – by John Piper

 

RELATING PROPERLY TO GOD

Humility – by Andrew Murray

Absolute Surrender – by Andrew Murray (free download or audio version)

 

A Young Wife Seeks to Honor Her Husband, Not Prosecute Him

Photo by andrew welch on Unsplash

A guest post from a young, Christian wife in response to last week’s post:

I have had a major problem with (acting like my husband’s prosecuting attorney) and continue to if I am not careful. I’ve been married only three short years and I’ve followed this blog very closely. It was, and continues to be, a blessing as I continue to walk with my husband in our very early stages of marriage. As I’ve continued on in this journey there are a couple of things that I’ve found to be helpful that I would like to share in case it helps anyone else.

TWO KEYS I HAVE FOUND

What I’ve found to be extremely helpful is studying and memorizing the specific scriptures about what God wills for wives in relation to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22-33) and then asking God to do two things:

1) To allow me to understand in a practical way what these particular scriptures mean and how they can be applied to my life in a practical way, for day to day living. I pray in faith and believe that He will guide me, even in the midst of a situation. The Bible states:

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. (James 1:5-8)

2) That GOD work a respectful, submissive attitude into my heart. Though we may DESIRE to respect our husbands, we cannot walk this out in our own flesh! This is a biggie. We can do nothing apart from Christ (John 15:5). It will take His spirit to actually complete His will. Romans 7:21-25 states:

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

DEALING WITH DEFEAT

I know we may have times in which we gave the Devil a little more of a foothold than we ought have (Ephesians 4:26). I have beaten myself up and often given up because I’ve felt so defeated.

When I dwell in my sin I feel more and more defeated and wonder why I even try.

But most recently, I’ve tried simply asking God for forgiveness and asking Him to show me how to handle it more respectfully the next time. When the next time rolls around (sometimes within the same our, or even within seconds!) I wait expectantly for the Lord, remembering His commands and trusting He will give me the strength to carry out His will:

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5)

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

I can do all things through Christ who strengthen me. (Philippians 4:13)

A NEW PERSPECTIVE ON RESPECT

One more thing. I am an elementary school teacher. I thought about my authoritative role as a teacher and how utterly disrespected I’d feel if one of my students said or acted towards me the way I often act towards my husband. It would be completely untolerated and it would be inappropriate.

In the same way, I thought about my own boss (the principal). Would I walk up to my boss and say and behave the way I behave with my own husband with him/her? Of course not! I’d know I’d be fired and it would be completely disrespectful to behave that way in the first place.

It’s interesting that regardless of our understanding on how to respect parents, teachers, bosses, etc… we fail to see the importance of giving our husbands the exact same respect and to follow their leadership. We will behave respectfully towards our bosses and others we see as authoritative (as we should) but our husbands we disrespect right in the face of God.

It stings as I write this, because I am so guilty of all of this. But it’s still something I wanted to share as God continues His work in my life.

FROM PEACEFUL WIFE

Honestly, even if I had treated my co-workers or patients the way I treated my husband in the past, it would have been totally inappropriate and disrespectful. As believers, we are to treat all people with dignity, respect, and honor. And all the more so when it is someone in a position of God-given leadership in our lives.

SHARE

What kinds of things has the Lord shown you on this journey to become a peaceful wife? Are there areas where you are struggling and you would like to talk about things?

Much love!

RELATED

The Peaceful Wife – Living in Submission to Christ As Lord – There is a chapter on disrespect, one on respect, one about submission to Christ as Lord, a chapter on God’s design for submission in marriage (what it is and what it is not), dealing with conflict, asking for things respectfully, etc… This was the book I needed desperately 9 years ago when I first began this journey.

Spiritual Authority Basics – for all believers in Christ relating to how we treat those in positions of God-given leadership

Signs Your Husband May Be Feeling Disrespected and Unloved

What Is Disrespectful to Husbands?

Posts about what biblical submission is and is not

What Is Respect in Marriage?

23 Signs Your Husband Is Beginning to Trust You Again

25 Ways to Be a Safe Place for Your Husband Emotionally

Do You Think Women Are Always to Blame for Marriage Problems?

Why Do I Have to Change First?

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