Thursday, June 24, 2010

God's Guidelines for our Walk of Faith: God's View of Success

I want to go back in the book-study today with Victory Over the Darkness. Remember the 8 areas of our life we talked about a few weeks ago? Success, Significance, Fulfillment, Satisfaction, Happiness, Fun, Security, and Peace. These eight areas are how we determine our core values. Let's think about how these can be lived out in our lives when we allow the Word of God to be applied to them.

I don't want this to feel like "Psychology 101", but I DO know how much taking these concepts apart and really thinking and praying about them has changed my whole life. If you'll let God speak to you about these areas, you may be surprised at what He might be trying to say and show to you about living your daily life.

2 Peter 1:3-10

3. seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of [the] divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. 5. Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in [your] moral excellence, knowledge; 6. and in [your] knowledge, self-control, and in [your] self-control, perseverance, and in [your] perseverance, godliness; 7. and in [your] godliness, brotherly kindness, and in [your] brotherly kindness, love. 8. For if these [qualities] are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9. For he who lacks these [qualities] is blind [or] short-sighted, having forgotten [his] purification from his former sins. 10. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;
1. Success. Key concept: Goals

This has been a huge one for me, so I'll spend some time here with this one.

I never really had a lot of major life "goals" until about ten years ago. At that time, I had a radical season of God flooding my life. Baptised in the Holy Spirit. However you want to put it, my life drastically changed. He became the all consuming focus of my life. Ministry opportunities came about, miracles were happening, my life took on a whole new dimension in the Spiritual realm. I felt a huge tug and calling on my life and it looked like a personal "ministry" was developing. THEN...the dreaded heart attacks came along, and my life changed once more. After just a few weeks, I got back on my spiritual "feet" again, but because of my fragile health the momentum was lost. God's power was still in my life, I just wasn't out there "doing" things for Him in the same way I had been.

Some people said the devil had a victory in my life, or that I was somehow to blame for what happened with my health. That really hurt emotionally, because I had never been closer to God than I was at that specific time. I was not prideful or walking out of God's parameters. Life just "happened". God knew all along that this was waiting for me around the corner. Did He plan it? No, it just happened. God doesn't bring sickness or disease on His children, any more than WE would put sickness or disease on our OWN children. Is He with us as we walk through it? You KNOW it! He's right there with us.

For several years after I really was miserable. Praying and still wanting things to be the way they were before, but they weren't. I felt like I was literally banging my head on the floor in prayer. Why, oh why, had this happened? I had let God down, I was missing out on my life calling, etc. etc....

Then several years ago, I gradually came to the understanding that I needed to be grateful for my life, however it was that I was living it. I wasn't a failure in God's eyes and I shouldn't consider myself one in my own eyes. I was alive, I have my family, God is providing...I'm still walking in faith. Maybe it's not what I "envisioned", but it's where I am right now. God had given me a "watchman's anointing" to see what is coming. It hasn't changed. But in my personal life I can now get up everyday, be thankful, and ask to be doing God's will, whatever that may entail.

We might never be "famous", rich, or powerful. We might never get to Paris. We may not be riding the wave, so to speak, but if we look to God and let Him lead us EVERYDAY, then we will be doing what God is asking of us. And when you get down to it, isn't that what it's all about anyway? A personal relationship with Jesus Christ that honors Him in our daily life. Then He can use us. Use us in ways we never imagined...but we have to be willing to set aside our personal agenda, and live our lives as God truly has called us. everyday. amen.

I'm asking for your prayers for health, healing, and peace for Debbie and Danny York. We all know them as "Trash" and "Cat Daddy". Debbie reads this blog faithfully and I consider her a dear friend, soulmate, and Christian Sis. I've never met her, but I know her. CD has been in the hospital since Sunday with a staph infection. Please be in agreement with all of us that he will be well soon and that they will find peace and rest in God's hands.

Update on the prayer request: Cat Daddy is out of the hospital and doing well.
God stepped in and sounds like Danny's getting back to his ornery self!!
Thank you everyone for your prayers!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Just a little reminder for me, today...

In the early days of my marriage, I had occasion to be friends with older AND younger women. One in particular stands out. She was about mid forties at the time. I was in my early twenties. We worked in the same doctors office. She worked with filing insurance and as one of many receptionists. I was a doctor's assistant/x-ray tech. I had just had our first baby about a year ago, and wanted to work part time to pay for furnishing our new first home. She was a lady in every sense of the word. Gracious and kind, always ready to listen with an interested and patient ear. I found her soothing to be around and sought her out each morning to help get me in the mood for the workday. Her children and family were her main focus of her life. God was her sustainer. I enjoyed our conversations, her quick wit, and her kindness toward all people. I never heard a bad or negative word out of her mouth, no gossip, no making fun of anyone. She was, and I imagine still is this same lovely lady. I've thought of her often over the years, but don't know how to reach her, and honestly at this moment in time, I cannot even remember her name. Her face and her demeanor are clear in my mind. I guess that's what is most important, a lasting impression.

Now, I'm older than she was at that time, and I have heard God speak to me this morning and remind me about being a godly example to younger women. Do I complain too much? Does an "unwholesome" word sometimes come out of my mouth? Does my humor sometimes end up with someone or something being the "butt" of a joke...even in innocent fun? Who will think of me 25 or 30 years down the road and maybe not remember my name, but remember "me"? 

Version: NAS

Titus 2:3-5

3. Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips, nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, 4. that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5. [to be] sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored.

Blogging this last year has allowed me to share who I am and to really be "me". I strive for that and want to be open, honest, and transparent. I'm sure just natural demeanor and personality had a lot to do with this woman's charisma. I tend to be loud mouthed, silly, and "out there" alot of the time. Maybe I saw a balance that I needed. Over the years I've needed to learn to think before I speak: to temper my words and actions.

Growing up in church, going to school, working for several years, and now even blogging, have all given me occasion to view and consider other women. The ones that continue to stand out are the ones that trust God and aren't afraid to say it. Their lives reflect Him consistently. I don't always do a good job of that, but I try.
Don't get me wrong, I love all the craziness that abounds here in blogdom. I'm one of them. A funny story, (believe me, I've heard some of the funniest here), discussions, upsets, family problems...all that we have to live through and contend with on a daily basis... all this makes for interest. Hey, I'm the one that gives all the dirt on myself. I think I just need to be seeking God daily to be the best "me" I can be. Not to be boring and uptight, because I don't think that's what God is asking us to be, but to put forth His Word and influence and at the same time be a godly woman. Above all, that His Word not be "dishonored".
I'll just make a quick comment on the part of being "subject" to our husbands. I'm not always right, my husband is not always right. If something comes up that we don't agree on, we do agree to take it to the Lord, and ask for His leading and guidance. We try to be open to the other's ideas and opinions. It hasn't always been this way, but over the last eleven or so years God has "gotten ahold" of both of us. Neither one of us has to have our way. But if it comes down to a certain matter, I let my husband make the decision. This has been a hard one for me, because by nature I'm on the bossy side and very opinionated. God has blessed me with a wonderful husband who loves and serves the Lord. I leave it between the two of them. Takes the pressure off of me.
And for the "working at home" part I will say this: God encourages each of us to be creative, and productive. Sometimes that means working outside the home. Sometimes we need to help out with finances. I just always enjoyed being home more than a "workplace". That's just me. Whatever we do, whether it's a job-job, a hobby, business at home; whatever you do, do it "as unto the Lord" and we can't forget to take care of our husbands, home and family. They come right after our personal relationship with Jesus. Submit all things to Him, He WILL give you the very best advice.
I think this was brought to my mind today, because of some of the TV and movie choices out there. Hey, I'm guilty of being a voyeur of some of what's on the tube. I don't want to get caught up in petty fights, bickering, grudges, infidelity, or greed. While it can all be entertaining, is this really the best for me to be participating in, even if not first hand but just by watching? I love what Joyce Meyer once said in so many words: If all you think about and talk about and listen to is talk about hot fudge sundaes, pretty soon you'll find yourself eating one.

And to me it is this today: Be respectful and honor God in all I do and say. Let His light shine through each area of my life. Live life in the here and now, enjoy it, but let Him control it. And oh yes, now I remember... her name is Ann.

Love, In Jesus,

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Letting God Direct Our Emotions

Last post we looked at our feelings of anger, anxiety, and depression. Sometimes these can come from physical and health issues and sometimes these are warning signs about our life goals. I've learned if something is causing me a lot of "stress", I might need to back off for a while, put it before God, and then let Him lead me on how to proceed.

Dr. Neil Anderson is a Christian psychologist and counselor; knowing this gives us the understanding on where he is coming from with this information. He has counseled hundreds of people throughout his career and these concepts are good solid psychology, but based on a Biblical perspective.

Anger Signals a Blocked Goal

"When your activity in a relationship or a project results in feelings of anger, it's usually because someone or something has blocked your goal in that endeavor. Any goal which can be blocked by forces you cannot control (other than God) is not a healthy goal, because our success in that arena is out of our hands.
A wife and mother may say, "My goal in life is to have a loving, harmonious, happy family" Who can block that goal? Every person in her family can block her goal-not only can, but will! A wife and mom clinging to the belief that her self-worth is dependent on her family will crash and burn every time her husband or children fail to live up to her image of family harmony. She will probably be a very angry woman, which could drive family members even farther away from her and each other."

OK, my turn now, I'll give you another glimpse into my past life and experiences.

When our younger daughter was in junior high, we had recently left our home church due to a big mess of our very public pastor's making. Sometimes you stay, sometimes you leave. It was a nasty time there with sides being chosen and we just couldn't be a part of it we started church hunting. About that time our younger daughter decided she would leap headlong into rebellion and family discord. (Wow, what a difficult time jr. high can be!) No matter where we went she would decide to "act out". Eye rolling, chair sliding, pouting, mumbling cuss words under her get the picture? oh, it was all such fun. I would come home from church mad and disgusted, not to mention embarrassed and feeling guilty about her behavior. We disciplined her, talked to her, grounded no avail. She was not a happy little church camper.

How did it end? Not well. Her behavior caused us to temporarily give up on church going because it was such a spectacle. Wrong decision...things got worse in our lives, and I'm sure a lot of it was because we didn't keep with it. Now, I know better. I know the enemy was flat out having a hay day with our daughter. I didn't know how to fight for her, I was run over, uninformed, and I let the enemy run rampant in her life, because I was taking all the responsibility for her, not letting God do His capable work. All this caused me deep depression, anxiety, and anger because I saw my daughter and my family suffering the fallout.

In reality, in a Biblical perspective I would have seen fruit if I would have hung in there, realized that as much as I want to, I cannot MAKE anyone love God, seek Him, or have a relationship with Him. I needed to be a steadfast godly mom, pray, trust God for her life and relationship, and then not carry the load of it all. It was a difficult time for our whole family, and I felt helpless. In reality I wasn't. I just needed to turn it over to God and then let Him lead me and her Daddy in discipline and structure for her life. Oh, I prayed, but it was full of desperation, not faith and trust. I felt like her behavior was on me, that I was a bad mom, and that life was going down the proverbial toilet.

Good news is I did finally learn these things. Now, I go to God in prayer for His direction, safety and leading for my family. It takes the load off of me. I turn problems and anxiety over to my Heavenly Father, who loves her far more than I ever could. Thank you God, it's too much for me to carry. She has become a responsible adult, and even though she walked through some really tough times, she knows and loves the Lord with all her heart.

We cannot believe that our self worth and success is based on goals that other people can control. We cannot GET our loved ones saved or "back on track". We can't make other people do the things we want them to do. We can't be in charge of everyone, or even our own family. Free will is a concept that God has been dealing with for eternity. God didn't desire for Adam and Eve to sin and mess up His perfect idea of "family" but they did. He didn't give up. Yes, things changed for mankind but He always has a plan of redemption. So if you feel anger, depression, and anxiety over family matters, know that HE has the plan, and the way to bring it about. Faith for our loved ones eternity is something we can pray for and engage in, but we are not responsible.

This is just one area that my life goal has been frustrated. I could recount a dozen more,  but this one seems to be universal with parenting, and even with a spouse. Prayer is what changes things, not nagging.

Version: NAS

Philippians 4:5-7
5. Let your forbearing [spirit] be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Which reminds me, peace will not come any other way than through Jesus Christ and His control of our lives. I've tried other ways, and they just haven't worked. It's easy to get out of this place of peace when I try to do it all by myself. Just needed to remind myself of this. God is so good and His Word is like water to a parched soul.

Love, In Jesus,

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Are feelings a "Red Flag"?

The last time we looked at the Book, Victory Over the Darkness, we were talking about our "feelings" and how we cannot base who we are on how we "feel". Our emotions are so deceptive, can cloud our judgement, and hamper our faith in God.

Today, I thought it was time to get back to the book study, maybe I need the lesson here! Let's talk more about emotions and feelings and see where some of them come from and where they might be taking us.

When I started sharing with you all out of this book back in late winter, I told you what a critical role this book played in changing my life. I lived by my feelings at that time. Depression, anger, anxiety, just to name a few. Things were happening in my family dynamic that had put me over the edge. My life and emotions were out of control. OK, we can blame a little on the "H" word, hormones and oh yea, menopause.(sorry guys).
But you know, those DO factor in to how we react and function; good or bad. No getting around it for us gals. Physiology and our health play a big role in our emotions. Just ask any husband or boyfriend and they will agree.

I learned so much at this time of my life about being spiritually prepared. Get our spiritual life in order and then it's easier to maintain our "physical"and emotional life, and vice-versa. If any one of these is out of whack our lives can be a roller coaster. Depression can be a "physiological" issue, but then it can turn into a spiritual issue. The enemy sees our state of "being" and then can use that against us. If we need medication for physical issues, then pray about it, and then we probably need to get to the doctor. I had a low thyroid for years without realizing it. I think many women do, but go undiagnosed. I'll try not to play doctor here, but if you are continuously depressed then there's probably more to it than just having the "blues". None of us want to be using medication as a crutch. I know I want God to show me where I'm out of whack spiritually, but if there is a real medical need, don't be afraid to let a doctor help. I've made this mistake many a time and it has cost me dearly.

OK, back to the book study looking at emotions.

In the words of the author, Dr. Neil Anderson:

"I believe that God desires all His children to be successful, fulfilled, secure, (remember those 8 values we have?) significant, satisfied, happy, ability to have fun, peace. Don't you? From birth you have been developing in your mind a means for expressing these eight values and reaching other goals in life. Consciously or subconsciously you continue to formulate and adjust your plans for achieving these goals.
But sometimes your well-intended plans and noble sounding goals are not completely in harmony with God's plans and goals for you. "How can I know if what I believe is right?" you may be wondering. "Must I wait until I am 45 years old to until I experiences some kind of mi-life crisis to discover that what I believed in these eight areas was wrong?"  I don't think so. I believe that God has designed us in such a way that we can know on a moment-by-moment basis if our belief system is properly aligned with God's truth. God has established a "feedback system" which is designed to grab your attention so you can examine the validity of your goal. That system is your emotions. When an experience or relationship leaves you feeling angry, anxious or depressed, those emotional signposts are there to alert you that you may be cherishing a faulty goal which is based on a wrong belief."

I'll share a recent example of this. Now granted, when this happened I was not in good health. I wasn't taking any medication (that I should have been). I didn't realize how bad I felt, but my emotions should have been a red flag, but I ignored them. I hold no one responsible here except myself. So if you were personally involved, just know that I love you all, and I was at fault.

Several years ago. I was heavily involved in the antique buying and selling scene. I had had several booth spaces at several different stores, and I was wearing myself out. Here is where my health should have been a consideration, but like the bull headed person I frequently become, I ran past my feelings, physical and emotional. My nerves were shot, I griped, complained, and frequently had semi- "meltdowns" over one thing or another. I knew I didn't feel great, but hey, not the first time, I have things to do. (anyone else see themselves in this scenario?) I knew God had had me start in this business, but unfortunately I was on "auto pilot" and was no longer listening to anything He might be trying to say to me.
Every day there was some sort of issue. Frustration, anger, and did I say "anger"?... took over my life. I look back on it now and think, "good grief, what was I thinking?" That was a hard lesson to learn as I was starting another heart attack by the time I finally got to the emergency room one evening. Reading and studying this book has had me think again about stress and upset. Not a good combination for ANYONE!

Next time we will look at these three red flags of our emotions: anger, anxiety and depression. In the meantime ask God to show you any areas of your life that these are manifesting. Let Him help you take a look at what and how you are feeling with any particular situation or relationship. Maybe He's trying to tell you something.

Romans 12:1-2

1. I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, [which is] your spiritual service of worship. 2. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Love in Jesus,

Quotations and concepts taken from Victory Over the Darkness
by Dr. Neil Anderson