As we listen to the lies inside, the wedge of fear begins to grow, leading to anger, self-pity, and envy. And that fear can destroy love. But love defeats fear.
I have a confession. Sometimes I feel jealous. Of my husband. His life just seems so glorious to me.
What I see is that he gets up, goes to the gym, goes to work, and gets to go on business trips. In my mind, this translates as he gets up and gets ready without children hanging on him, gets to do what he wants to do without dragging children with him, goes to a place with other adults where he is respected and valued. When he travels (which has been happening more often) he gets to go out to eat at restaurants and sleep alone without being woken up.
In his mind, he has to get up super early, not getting enough sleep, so that he can stay healthy, has to go and talk with adults who act like children, and when he travels he has to be away from his family, eating unhealthy food and not able to sleep in a strange bed.
It’s easy for me to play the martyr. I can easily feel sorry for myself, thinking that I alone bear the burden. What I am craving is appreciation. I want to feel valued. I want to feel loved. And it is easy for this to lead to a division in my marriage because I am only focusing on myself.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast;
1 Corinthians 13:4, ESV
Instead of throwing another fit, I decided to talk about this need with him. Then a revelation hit me: we were both throwing our own pity parties. We were both playing as we had it “worse” than the other. And that’s when we decided to stop complaining. We stopped trying to make ourselves look “better”. Instead, we began to focus on how much the other one was juggling.
Feeling envious occurs when we are fearful and insecure, which in turn leads to building up our defensiveness. We are trying to protect ourselves, but in doing so we end up in isolation. People need people. Strange things happen when we are isolated. In isolation, we to listen to lies being whispered in our heads.
At a recent Gathering, a lady mentioned that we know they are lies if they begin with “I”. I think there is truth in this. Also, we can pinpoint the lie when they are in absolutes like never, always, only, etc.
“I am the only one who does anything.”
“I am the only one who feels this way.”
“Inever get to have time away.”
“I am always the one stuck doing this.”
Love Defeats Fear
As we listen to the lies, the wedge of fear begins to grow, leading to anger, self-pity, and envy. And that fear can destroy love. But love defeats fear.
Hallelujah! Love defeats fear.
Here’s a dose of truth for you: Your Heavenly Father loves you. You are loved. You may not feel like it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. And the best way to feel loved is to show love.
Be patient with others, showing kindness. Stop talking about yourself, and listen to them. Do what other people want to do, and enjoy it. Don’t be happy when others mess up. Put up with the annoying things they do, appreciating the good. And never, ever stop doing these things. (Adapted from 1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
Now when my husband is out of town, I show compassion for what he is having to deal with rather than complaining that I am home with the kids. And you know, my attitude about being home with the kids has changed. Now, I try to make it something fun, doing things that we normally wouldn’t do. (But I absolutely still look forward to him coming home!)
Fighting godly battles requires us to exercise restraint in the midst of our passion. We must avoid sinning because we are impassioned for God’s will.
Polarized. When we read the news, scroll through social media posts, engage with our relatives — is there a better way to describe how the world seems? There is a “for or against” mentality regarding all hot button issues. The polarization trickles down into less public, more intimate disagreements. “We should agree to disagree” is a hollow statement, not meaning the sum of its parts so much as meaning. “We have to stop talking about this now if we are going to continue liking one another.”
I like to avoid fighting. I find no enjoyment in conflict. Anxiety muzzles me. Inwardly I am impassioned, but outwardly I resist the urge to bark or bite at an offending argument. I justify this through scripture that cautions us to be slow to speak, lest we present ourselves as fools.
Fighting on Behalf of God
Our faith, though, calls us to action on behalf of the Truth our God instilled in us. Why did He give us the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit if He empowered us only to sit on the sidelines quietly? No. We must learn to fight for people and the will of God while answering the call to be peacemakers.
I think a lot of the reason we get into unproductive, vitriol-fueled fighting is because we do not take time to control our impulses. We do not step aside from our emotion.
A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression.
Proverbs 29:22, ESV
While we are to advocate for that which is right and righteous, God does not call us to sow hatred or to transgress in His name. He asks us to point others toward Him and His kingdom in all that we do and say. When we stand our ground in our arguments, we should have a subconscious self-check going on as we navigate these debates.
-Do the words I speak, show I love God?
-Will the person I am speaking with know that I love them?
-Does the content of my message show mercy, peace, and love to others?
Our Words Matter
At no time does name-calling point others towards the loving-kindness of Jesus. On my way to work, I listen to a podcaster who is well regarded in the Christian community. I respect the message and wisdom he shares. Yet, he frequently calls people idiots.
He does it in a loving aside, or with an endearing chuckle. This lets people know “I’m not really being mean.” But do our choice of words not matter as much as our intent? Words of condemnation can wound. Applied with the proper intent and execution, however, they can restore and empower.
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
Ephesians 4:29, ESV
This goes beyond using kind words and a gentle tone. If we are to build up, we have to understand the foundation of a person’s belief. We have to be in relationship with the person we are talking to. If their thinking is not in alignment with God, then we should be fighting God’s fight for their betterment, not our superiority. We have to seek understanding. Why does this person believe what they do? Where does their certainty lie?
Often in arguments, we look for the other person’s fallacies to come to light. We want that aha! moment. It feels good to catch someone in their utter wrongness and juxtapose it with our inherent rightness. But they came to their beliefs through their own life experiences; through a lens of perspective shaped by different upbringings and influences. We have to understand that in most cases, those we are fighting with feel they are on the right side of morality or history. Start with the common ground that we all want to do good.
Jude is this small one-chapter book of the Bible. I often fixate on it. This brother of James and Jesus sketches a picture of a community of Christ-followers who had unwittingly allowed people in who succumbed to ungodly desires. Jude does not hesitate to call out these actions as sinful, but throughout he guides us in how to approach those who are not in alignment with the Father.
Yet Michael the archangel, incontending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”
Jude 1:9, NKJV
If a high ranking angel remembered who actually passes judgment while he contended with the devil, then I can speak with a friend who is succumbing to sin without passing my imperfect judgment on her.
It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.
Jude 1:19-23, ESV
Stand Firm in Love
Jude makes it clear. We are to stand in opposition to those who are divisive. When we see another human stuck in doubt or sin, we do our best to point them towards repentance and show them that they need saving. We are not, however, to do so in a manner that goes against God’s commands. We are to keep ourselves in the love of our Father.
God clearly asks us to have mercy and show mercy. At the same time, we must hate the sin they are trapped in, and we should not fall into the trappings of sin ourselves. And fighting with someone in a way that causes harm, for the purpose of bringing glory to ourselves, or in a spirit of divisiveness is absolutely falling into the trappings of sin.
Fighting With Both Passion and Restraint
It’s hard. Sometimes the people we love falter. It hurts to see them walk toward sin. Other people believe so staunchly in things that we find diametrically opposed to the will of God. Fighting for godly things is good. We should ask God to break our hearts for the things that break His. We need passion.
Equally, we need restraint. We need to use our zeal for God’s will to determine what battles need championing, and we need restraint to keep our hearts focused on the love of God while we are in the thick of the fight.
Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.
I’m a very emotional person. Throughout my life, I have gotten so swept up in feeling that I have made great mistakes. I have hurt people. In light of this, I am now a huge proponent of approaching the things in life that impassion me with an arsenal of practical strategies.
We are so lucky that God hides practical strategies within the most poetic moments in His word. In reading Jude over and over again, I am struck by a line that I can use to help guard my tongue. What if I, before I entered into a debate with someone, opened it up as Jude opened his letter?
“Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.”
Jude 1:2, NKJV
What if I said these words, even just in my head, before opening my mouth or before I start typing? Would that change how I approach someone? If I start my conversation with a sentiment of well-wishing, could I continue to portray love while pointing out sin? I think I just might.
Words are the most powerful weapon and have a long-lasting impact. May we live and leave behind a legacy of love and hope through the words we speak.
Have you ever been encouraged by someone else’s words? A friend? A family member? A teacher perhaps?
The word encourage is defined as “to speak courage into”. To speak courage into! How many times have we needed that in our own lives? And what a great comfort when we find it. Some of the best words stick with us for a lifetime. Their power seems only to increase when the one who spoke them is no longer around.
Legacy of Love
This year has been one of those years where I have visited the funeral home far too many times and the newborn nursery not nearly enough. The world has lost a lot of good men. But when I begin to think back on some of the truly great people I have known in my life, I realize they are never truly gone. Their words still linger long after their physical bodies have left this world behind. They have left a legacy of love and light that inspires the rest of us to be better.
Listening to all of these eulogies got me to thinking, what do I want to be remembered for when I am gone? What do I want to leave behind?
While words can be used to bring people together, they can also be used to rip them apart. Just one quick glance on social media tells you that words are oftentimes used more like a sword to cut people down than a hand to lift them up. If you want to see just how hateful and vile man can be, look no further than the comment section of any news post.
Words are the most powerful weapon any of us have. The words we speak to others, the words we speak to ourselves, have a long-lasting impact that will persist long after any physical injustices have healed.
The most useful piece of advice you learn in any writing class is the significance of the first and last sentence—this is the main impression you will leave your audience with. In the beginning of the Bible, the very first official act, God speaks light into existence. What greater example could He leave us with?
And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness.
Our words have the power to build people up or tear them down. They have the ability to encourage or inhibit. Our words can promote peace or harbor hate. Each moment, each breath, each word we speak. We only get one choice, so what will it be?
The tongue can bring death or life;
Proverbs 18:21a, NLT
Each day is a new chance to choose, choose wisely. While things are stronger where they were once broken, if not allowed to heal properly, they leave scar tissue that never fully heals. Be the balm that soothes the weary soul, the cast that helps strengthen someone’s broken areas.
Use your words to build people up, so they can rise up!
Not only did God speak light into existence, but He spoke life into existence.
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness.”
But God did not just create life, He created us to live that life fully and with purpose.
I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
And there is no greater way to live a life in abundance than by giving to others. There is no greater purpose than to love others and bring them to the One who is Love. Sometimes we may have nothing more to give than our kindness–our kind words, our kind deeds. Currency is not only made of green paper.
In my job, we are required to take a CPR class every two years to learn how to resuscitate someone if the need ever arises. Luckily, it hasn’t. But I wonder, how many times have I come across someone in need of emotional resuscitation? Someone who needs me to breathe life back into their situation? Or someone who needed me to circulate fresh air—a fresh way of seeing things—into their lives? How many times have you? And how many times have we been too busy to even recognize the warning signs?
Words Pierce the Darkness
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
May our words be used to build others up, today and every day. Let our words be the balm that soothes the weary soul. Let our words be the light that leads people out of the darkness. Finally, let our words be the light that leads others to salvation through Christ.
Everyone faces struggles. Some things we can avoid, but others we must endure. This is how we are able to find hope from pain.
A few years ago there was a Target commercial that really ticked me off. It was this woman who got up, made her children this beautiful, healthy breakfast, got them dressed and off to school. Then she got herself ready for her professional job where I’m sure she was incredibly successful. And, of course, she then went to the gym and worked out while beautifully sweating, only to come home and spend the evening laughing and playing with her kids.
What a load of crap. It irritated me because this is the pressure put on women. It isn’t fair! I can’t compete with that, and trust me – I’ve tried.
Now, there is another commercial that is irritating me. It’s for migraine medicine. This woman (because she isn’t hindered by migraines while taking this medication apparently) is so happy to play dress-up with her daughter. But it isn’t just simple silly dress up. It’s pirates and princesses. And then this grown woman is dressed up as a robot chasing her daughter. Seriously, it is a box robot costume like I made for my son when he was three. But her’s says “mom bot” on it. It is so obnoxious.
I mainly hate this commercial because it makes me feel like I am missing something. Or I need to be a different mom. Or I’m ruining my children because I don’t want to play with them. I know lots of moms who do love playing with their children. At least I feel like there are lots. I feel like I’m the only one who doesn’t. I feel like I’m wrong because there are many times I honestly hate being a mom.
An Honest Struggle
The real struggle is that I don’t feel like I can be honest about this. Especially in Christian circles, where the role of motherhood is so honored. The moms who stay home are applauded for sacrificing for the needs of their children, but this attitude implies that women who work are selfish.
Honestly, I want to be a working mom. For years I was. I had my work-thing, then I came home and did the mom-thing. It was a good balance. Now I don’t know where I fit in. I’m home and I work which leads to constant distraction and aggravation. I want to be there for my children when they need me. I want to work. Sigh. I feel like I’m failing at all of it.
So here is my honest… I do hate being a mom at times.
I hate the constant noise, the disciplining, the toys and messes. And then I hate myself. I feel like crap because I know there are so many women who desperately want to be a mom. There are women who would love to work from home. There are women who would love to have a migraine free day to play dress up.
And so the downward spiral begins.
What can I do?
I can literally beat myself up. Numerous times I have left my legs bruised from hitting myself hard and repeatedly. I have punched a solid wood door – only once. That left me hurting for more than a week. I have hurled insults at my reflection I would never dream of thinking of anyone else.
I can distract myself. Typically it is work, but it can also be exercise or alcohol.
Or I can go to the Lord. And I do. Over and over. I pray, I read, I listen to encouraging messages. And still, motherhood does not get easier. I get angry, I get desperate, and I spiral around again.
Honestly, I hate writing about this. I would much prefer to talk about something I have already walked through and share how the Lord came through. I love those messages! But that is not this message. Because, let’s be honest, some of life’s messes take a long time to walk through. Sometimes God’s redemption seems a long way off. Sometimes we are hanging on by a thread. But I can’t just say “life is crap, good luck!”
What we do when there seems to be no end is ENDURE.
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
Romans 5:3-5, NLT
For me, right now, this is motherhood. I’m struggling in it right now. For you, it may be finances, or chronic pain, or in your marriage, or any other multitude of life situations that are difficult to navigate. But we are to rejoice? Y’all, I don’t know if I’m ready for rejoicing just yet.
I can totally relate to this; I know what it means to train. There are 19 marathons, 4 half marathons, and 3 triathlons on these legs. Believe me, I know how to endure so that I can become stronger and faster.
To endure is to continue even when we are uncomfortable. And half of the battle is in the mind. When running a marathon, you cannot think about the fact that you have 21 miles to go at mile 5. You will panic. Right now, I need to not think about the fact that my daughter is not yet 4. I have too many years to go for that to feel helpful! And when our mind begins to shut down, our body will follow.
Last weekend, my 11-year-old son was mowing. It was hot, he was tired, he wanted to quit. But he told himself that he would get the front yard done. And he did. Then he pretty much collapsed and had a complete meltdown which is rare for him. But he did it because his mind told him to endure. Even though he was miserably uncomfortable.
Endurance is when we don’t stop when it’s hard. It requires the mind deciding not to give up.
But how do we continue when our bodies and minds have nothing left to give. This is when we acknowledge our limitations, surrender, and believe God’s strength will get us through.
“Endurance develops strength of character…”
This is where we begin to put the fruits of the spirit into action. It is where we learn to love when we don’t feel it, to have joy in the middle of struggle, to have peace in the middle of chaos, to be patient when we are frustrated, to be kind when we are treated unfairly, to do good in a world full of evil, to be faithful when we don’t understand, to have gentleness when we are angry, and to have self-control when we are tempted. This is the Character of God, and we have the ability to live like Jesus when we have the Holy Spirit within us.
“Character strengthens our confident hope of salvation…”
When we live out this character, our confidence grows in who God says He is. We know we have received the ultimate miracle of salvation. To be rescued from an eternity separated from God. Everything else… is icing.
“For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”
Love. Over the past several years the Lord has taken me on a journey to believe His love for me. It is His love for me that has given me the confidence to take risks. To keep putting myself out there, exposing my vulnerabilities, pursuing the visions He has placed inside me. But it was not until earlier this year I began to believe that God actually likes me too.
Don’t Give Up
Therefore, because of these struggles, I have hope. Hope that one day, I can rejoice with my children and celebrate all of the traits God has given them, and enjoy them.
Endurance is deciding in the mind to remain faithful even when we don’t feel it. Christ endured in obedience, and ultimately gained victory in defeating death.
It is ok to struggle in your struggle. It is not ok to give up. So endure on, dear sister. There is hope for victory in perseverance.
When we place money above everything else, sin takes root in our hearts. We must learn to replace our love of money for the love of God.
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
1 Timothy 6:10, CSB
I recently read an article stating that money is mentioned more than 800 times in the Bible. Now, I have never sat down and counted the number of times it is mentioned, but I have definitely observed it many times.
It doesn’t take a Bible scholar to see that the Lord wants us to know a thing or two about money. This generation is undoubtedly the most prone to wander from faith, like 1 Timothy 6:10 states. Especially when it has to do with the almighty dollar.
Money Makes Us Squirm
Money is widely talked about and not usually referenced in a way God intended it to be. Why do you think the majority of people squirm in their seats when the pastor preaches on money? Do you think God addressed money so many times to make us uncomfortable? Or is He trying to get our attention and make a point?
Personally, I think it’s the second one. I think people are naturally uncomfortable talking about money because it happens to be the very thing that we depend on in order to live.
Think about it. We need money for pretty much anything! Food, water, clothes, shelter, medical care – you name it – it costs something. Freebies only go so far, for so long. Money happens to be the very thing that helps manage, operate, and change the world we live in for the better. Do you agree?
Plain and simple, we need money in order to live. Without it, we fall into a deep pit of despair and eventually die because we lack the necessary lifeline in order to survive. People say it all the time, “You can’t live with it, and you can’t live without it”.
Money is a powerful source of help. It’s required in order to appropriately exist in this world. I think it’s fair to say we should go to God, our Creator who created all things, to see what He has to say about money…
Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.
Revelation 4:11, ESV
For The LOVE
I want to dive into only one of those 800+ scriptures on money. I hope to provide some insight that the Holy Spirit gave me when I read this passage…
For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil…
1 Timothy 6:10, CSB
Let’s break the verse up so we can better understand what it means.
For the LOVE of money…
When we love something, it holds a higher value and significance over other things. This can be best demonstrated in how we view relationships with others, like our spouse or our children. We give them value and significance in our lives because we love them so much.
Putting value on money can feel as though we need it in order to live. Or, in other words, it feels like we can’t live without it because it’s a necessity. When we view money this way, it reveals in our hearts that we actually love it and can’t live without it. Many people, myself included, have fallen in love with money without recognizing its trap!
Is The ROOT
Let’s continue dissecting this verse and see what comes next.
For the love of money is the ROOT…
Our understanding of the love of money will help us better understand this second part, the root. Whenever we want to see a tree grow, we have to plant the seed in the soil and water it. Roots only take place after the seed is planted in the ground.
In this case, the scripture is showing us that the love of money is the seed that we have willingly planted in our hearts which has started to take root. A root also indicates some kind of growth is happening below the surface.
Deep inside us, we have a “money root” and we better hope it produces good fruit or we will certainly reap the consequences otherwise. Jesus taught His disciples that if they did not develop good fruit, then they would be cut off from the root and thrown into hell.
The ax is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
Matthew 3:10, CSB
Oh, how I wish good growth was rooting in our hearts. Sadly, that just isn’t the case as we’ll unfortunately see.
ALL Kinds of EVIL
Now the final part of the verse.
For the love of money is the root of ALL kinds of EVIL.
This part of the verse is very interesting to me. The fact that this particular sin, the love of money, has the ability to grow and produce ALL kinds of sin within us is quite alarming.
Honestly, the last part of this scripture really had me a bit shaken up. I mean, it does say ALL, so we must conclude that God intended it to mean what it says. He is not a God of deception, but of truth. ALL kinds of EVIL begin to grow from this ONE bad seed.
Beloved, that’s not to be taken lightly! You might be asking yourself the same questions I found myself asking…
How do we avoid the love of money and avert its ability to take root in our lives?
How do we keep it from potentially and inevitably causing more and more sin from within us?
Understanding Faith Like Abraham
F – A – I – T – H! That’s it, my friends. Faith.
Thousands of years ago before houses, televisions, computers, phones and more; men and women lived in this world just like we do today. Sure it looked different, but people adapted to their surroundings just like we do today. I personally think they did a better job with this than we do.
They used their hands to work in the fields and they used their gifts God gave them to help each other even more. In the Old Testament, we find that people like Abraham and Sarah lived according to what God wanted, not what they wanted. If they needed something for basic survival, then they would ask God for it and trust that He would provide it.
When they needed food, God sent them food. When they needed water, He would lead them to where water could be found. If they needed shelter, then God would provide the supplies needed to build a roof over their heads. God ALWAYS showed up when they came to Him for a need.
God knew they were seeking Him first and it gave Him great joy to bless their faith. Makes sense right?
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.
Matthew 6:33, CSB
Just like today, there were people then that felt like they didn’t need God’s provision in their lives. They decided to go their own way and figure things out for themselves. Some might think people like this are brave, strong and courageous. Others may think of them as stubborn, prideful, and foolish.
Consider reading about Abraham’s nephew Lot and his wife to form your own opinion on the matter (Genesis 13-14). In a nutshell, though, it doesn’t go well for them. It turns out that going their own way only leads them into danger. This easily could have been avoided had they followed God instead of their own evil hearts.
So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels.
Psalms 81:12, ESV
How Far Would Your Faith Go?
Abraham, unlike his nephew, was a faithful follower of God. Those who trusted and followed Abraham had the privilege of seeing just how real God is. Abraham found favor in the Lord because of his unwavering faith.
He never questioned or doubted God when asked to go somewhere or do something. He just simply listened and obeyed his Father’s instructions. Abraham knew that God was the provider because, simply put, there was never a time He didn’t provide. Each time Abraham went to God, God provided. And each time God provided, Abraham’s faith grew stronger.
Abraham’s unwavering faith is tested to the max, though. In Genesis 22, God commands Abraham to offer his son, Issac, on the altar as a sacrifice to Him. Abraham is clearly unsure and saddened by this, but HE STILL FOLLOWS THROUGH WITH IT! He gathers his sticks and tells his son Issac to come with him to the altar without grabbing a lamb! They walk up the mountain to the altar and Issac asks his father Abraham where the sacrifice (the lamb) was and…
Abraham answered, ‘God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.’ Then the two of them walked on together.
Abraham blindfolds and ties up his son and lays him down on the altar to kill him. He is just about to take his son’s life…
But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’
He replied, ‘Here I am.’
Then he said, ‘Do not lay a hand on the boy or do anything to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your only son from me.’
Genesis 22:11-12, CSB
ALL IN Faith Has Its Benefits
God then provides a ram stuck in a nearby thicket by its horns for Abraham to sacrifice instead of his son Issac.
Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught in the thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram and offered it as a burnt offering in place of his son.
Genesis 22:13, CSB
Abraham’s faith showed God that he was ALL IN no matter what! How do we establish that kind of faith today? No offense, but we have issues spanking our own children, let alone putting them on the altar to kill for God! Sounds crazy, but truth be told, our faith is weak because we have become weak as a human race.
We think we know best and don’t feel the need to go to God for help with EVERYthing in our lives. I think this is because we have believed the same lie that Lot and his wife believed: if we follow the larger crowd (a.k.a. the world), then we will be able to make money and lead a successful, happy life. There are people out there, right now, doing this very thing and making it look so appealing. ‘It’s working for them, so it should definitely work for me too!‘ This little lie comes straight from the devil, hoping we catch it and run.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
1 Peter 5:8, ESV
But we believers are called to be set apart.
But know that the Lord has et apart the godly for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him.
Psalms 4:3, ESV
Replace Money With God and Receive Good
We are God’s children, created to follow Him not the rest of the world. So in order to live out this Abraham kind of faith today, we must first acknowledge our need for God in our lives. By doing this we can start to follow His lead instead of our own.
When we acknowledge God as our ultimate “lifeline” in order to survive and make Him more valuable and more significant than anything else in our lives, then we can rest assured He will root in us ALL kinds of good.
God showed me something pretty spectacular in His word. When you take a look back at the one verse we used today, and change only two words in it, it takes on a whole new meaning.
For the love of GOD is the root of all kinds of GOOD.
When we live our lives putting God first and relying on Him to provide for all our needs, then God will do just that. We must replace the love of money for the love of God and surely find a life of contentment, joy, peace, purpose, and prosperity!
With our world changing constantly and new distractions popping up everywhere, it is extremely crucial that we root ourselves in the Lord. God wants us to live our lives in abundance with peace, knowing He will take care of us always.
God knows we need money to live, just as much as He knows we need water to live. The same God that provided for all of Abraham’s needs, is the same God we serve today. He hasn’t changed. His ways and words stay as they are, no matter what we choose. Even though wechange daily, it is good to know that His Wordstays the same.
We all need to get on our knees and acknowledge one simple and unchanging truth…
God will give us what we need when we finally accept that all we really need – is Him.
The Ten Commandments are a set of commands from God we have all heard before, but what do they mean and how do they direct us to live in love?
We all know about the Ten Commandments. We grew up learning about them and knowing that they were important. I honestly never gave them much thought growing up. Yeah, don’t murder, don’t lie, only have one God. It all made sense, but I never truly thought about what they mean to us in light of the New Testament and the fulfillment of the Law. However, my church is going through a study of the 10 Commandments which has caused me to look at them differently.
What is the Greatest Command?
He replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself.’
Love God, love others. Those are the two greatest commands. Jesus is very clear about this. If those are the greatest, where do the Ten Commandments fit in?
All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.
All the Law. This includes the Ten Commandments. All of the Ten Commandments fall into these 2 categories.
The 2 Categories
Love God, Love Others. Those are the 2 categories.
If you break down the Ten Commandments you will find that the first four deal with our relationship with God and the last six refer to our relationship with others.
All of the first four commands talk about how we relate to God and how we are to show our love and honor to Him. If we keep these first four commands we are loving the Lord our God: the greatest commandment.
The final six commandments reference our relationships with others. They deal with basic things like not murdering. To things that are a little more difficult like not coveting what your neighbor has. These commands all lead us to love our neighbors as ourselves the second greatest commandment.
The Law Vs Love
Don’t even begin to think that I have come to do away with the Law and the Prophets. I haven’t come to do away with them but to fulfill them.
The way the Ten Commandments can be compared to the two commands Jesus gave is a perfect example of Jesus’ goal. He came to fulfill the Law not wanting to destroy it, do away with it, or disregard its importance. He fulfilled it so we would not be bound by it. The Law is still important and should be a part of our lives but Jesus fulfilled it and made it possible for us to not have to be bound by it.
Jesus taught us that love is the greatest of all commands. That’s it. Love. When we show love to God and others everything else follows suit…
You must have no other gods before me.
Do not use the Lord your God’s name as if it were of no significance; the Lord won’t forgive anyone who uses his name that way.
Remember the Sabbath day and treat it as holy.
Honor your father and your mother so that your life will be long on the fertile land that the Lord your God is giving you.
Do not kill.
Do not commit adultery.
Do not steal.
Do not testify falsely against your neighbor.
Do not desire and try to take your neighbor’s house.
Do not desire and try to take your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox, donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.
We are new. We are in Christ. This means we are heirs to the Kingdom. Rich beyond measure. How then can we continue to dwell on the empty wealth of this world?
Joy or Cash?
Money. Yikes. Man’s best friend and the root of all evil. As someone who loves stuff, I find money to be quite convenient to have. Besides, in a world where everything costs an arm and a leg, why not rack up on cash? As I begin to learn the ways of the world (and money), I’ve definitely fallen to the stigma of “more is better” and most of the time don’t even realize it.
Why is it that we’ve been given everything we need, even a lot of what we need, yet we’re constantly looking for more stuff and more things? At the root of it, at least for me, personally, it’s that I am discontent with what the Lord has given me. I think I know what’s best, therefore, I strive for it; all my energy wasted.
Daughters of the King
When you think about it, we’re all richer than we could imagine. Heirs to the biggest kingdom there ever was and ever will be. We need not ask for anything because we have already received eternal wealth.
But let me ask you this, as daughters of the one true King, what has God given us and what makes it so much better than anything earth could offer us? My darling we can’t even imagine…
And God will open wide the gates of heaven for you to enter into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:11, TLB
Rich in Christ
In heaven, we receive love. Not circumstantial love that can only live off of what we do for it, but true, unconditional love greater than we could imagine.
In heaven, we receive peace. Not the peace we find when we lay in our bed after a long day, not a peace we have to work for. But a peace for the soul. No more restlessness, no more tossing and turning. I honestly can’t imagine that peace, but I am sure as heck willing to give everything I have to be with the One who gives it.
How do I do that though? How are we supposed to be poor in spirit so that we can be rich in Christ? And how do we non-reluctantly give up every singlething we have and know and pursue Christ? What does that even look like?
Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?
James 2:5, ESV
Many of us have heard 2nd Corinthians 5:17. We are told that in Christ, we are new creations. While reading over this, I thought in the context of my questions… new creation can be taken literally. New. Not what we were. Not what I was. This means there must be a change. A change so vast that the word new can be applied to us.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV
When I look at my life since I’ve given it to Christ I honestly don’t look a whole lot different. I still find myself caught up in a lot of what I used to do. For me, I believe living for Christ will start by no longer living for myself. I can’t continue living the way I was. I am new in Him; rich in Him. I know this, but what am I doing to change it?
My encouragement to you is to find what you’ve been holding on to, or what it is you refuse to change. God I pray, please help me rid me of myself. Help me live for you and not the world.
Living with a loved one who has severe depression and anxiety can be disorienting. The key to survival and a strengthening love can be found in our Creator. God holds us all through the peaks and valleys of depression.
Survival Guide Resume
Before I launch into this guide I first want to give you a glimpse at my resume, so you know that I know a little about what I’m talking about. For ten of the last twelve years of my marriage, I have been the husband of a wonderful woman who has had severe depression and anxiety. It started as postpartum depression after our second child was born and it has never gone away.
I will not go into the symptoms because chances are, if you clicked on the link to this article, you are very familiar with them. Instead, I am going to direct my comments to the depression newbie. The poor soul who has recently woken up to find their spouse (or someone they love) is no longer the happy, fun-loving person they married (or used to be). Who has found that their love has been brought low by some unseen, unimaginable malevolent force for which there seems to be no defense. This is your survival guide from a veteran of this fight. I hope to be able to save you some of the stumblings around in the dark that I have had to do.
Also, to make it fun, I have decided to put it in the form of a list! Because the internet loves lists right? Of course you do.
It’s not about you.
Drop your ego. It’s not about you. Really. It’s not about you. Your spouse has a disease. Unless you are just being horrible to them, his or her depressive episodes are not the result of something you did or did not do. Along those same lines, there is nothing you can do to “fix” them or make the symptoms “go away.” Your spouse is on a rollercoaster.
It is a rollercoaster through a hell so terrifying that neither they nor you would ever have the words to adequately describe it. The only thing you can do during these moments is to honor your vows, board that roller coaster with them, hold their hand and ride that ride. Is it scary? You bet. Does your presence help? Sometimes. Sometimes not. But ride it anyway. It builds empathy in you and, when it is over, gratitude and trust for you in your spouse.
Don’t hide. Be open about it.
Ok, listen. Unless the people in your lives are told what is going on, they can only speculate, and they can’t help. Depression is a terrible and lonely disease. Being married to a depressed person is equally lonely. There is a stigma to depression. Don’t pay attention to it. Your spouse has a disease. If they had cancer, you would tell people, and those people would gather around in a loving and supportive group to help your spouse through the difficult and painful process of treating their cancer.
So, pretend it is cancer. Be open with your friends and family about what is going on. Your spouse needs that extended support group, but almost as important, YOU need that extended support group. YOU CAN’T DO THIS ON YOUR OWN. Don’t try. Also, if you have children, be open with them about it. Explain the illness to them. Obviously, consider their ability to understand based on their age, but don’t exclude them. If they know WHY your spouse is behaving in this way, they will be less likely to blame the behavior on themselves. You need to include them. They have a right to know and to understand.
I am going to keep saying it until you will never forget it. Your spouse has a disease. A disease that could kill them. A disease that continues to kill more and more people every year. Diseases are treated by doctors, specialists, and medicine. Don’t let your spouse tell you they can handle it on their own. They can’t. Get them a doctor or a counselor. The good news is, there are medicines that can help manage the symptoms. The bad news is: scientists know more about the surface of Mars than they do about how the brain actually functions.
So, there is no magic pill that will cure this disease, and treating the symptoms is more akin to throwing paint at the wall and seeing what sticks. You will likely try three or more medicines before finding one that works well for your spouse and manages the symptoms without unacceptable side-effects. After many years, we finally landed on one that gives my wife a semblance of normalcy in her life. There are those that will tell you to not ever use medicine. I disagree. From my experience, it helps immensely.
You are not alone.
Again, being the spouse of someone with depression can be a terribly lonely experience. There will be times where you feel like you are the only one in the world going through this. Times when you feel like you can’t talk to a soul about what you are going through. There will be times when it gets so hard, so dark, so hellishly frustrating that you want to throw your hands up, walk away, and leave them to their own devices.
These are the moments that separate the wheat from the chaff. Stay. Fight. Dig deep. Find that reserve of strength inside of you and keep going. Your love is your spouses best hope of navigating the depths of the darkness inside of themselves and finding their way to the light of joy and happiness on the other side. For better or for worse. Well, this is one of those “worse” times. Ponder the following words:
Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? […]Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you…
Matthew 6:26-30, KJV
In more ways than one, you are never alone. Bring God along with you on this journey. Let Him give you comfort, let Him heal you. Surely the Author of all creation can and will soothe the open wounds of your despair with the healing balm of His majesty and love. Let Him. You are never alone. Believe it. Because after all the experiences I have had, I know it.
This journey, if you let it, will strengthen you personally, and teach you what love really means.
When I married my wife, I thought I loved her. Of course, I did. But through this journey, I have learned the breadth and depth of what love really is. Is love, buying flowers for your wife on your anniversary? Yes. But more so, love is holding your trembling spouse as they sob and shake uncontrollably at 3 am due to some unseen and unassailable despair that gripped them suddenly and is making them say things as they would rather be dead than feel this way.
Love is canceling a trip you have been planning and looking forward to for months because your spouse is having a panic attack at the prospect of your absence. Love is enduring the verbal attacks of a spouse who is lashing out at you, not from any fault of your own, but because they are under an unbearable weight and have to let it out somewhere. Love is then forgiving them for that same act.
If you let it, this journey will teach you a lot about YOU. Is it scary? At times, it’s terrifying. Is it worth it? Absolutely. I now have an indescribably deep and abiding love for my spouse. It is so much more than fondness, friendship or physical desire. It is a love that binds our souls together and continually makes me more and more grateful for the gift of each day we get to spend with one another.
Through peaks and valleys, through better or worse, for now and extending into eternity with God, we walk together. And so can you. You can do it. Have patience, have faith, and never give up on them.
We will all, unfortunately, experience a shattered heart. People will hurt and disappoint us, but Jesus will always treat us will care. We must learn to trust in His faithful love.
The Lord is near the brokenhearted; he saves those crushed in spirit.
Odds are, we all, at one point or another, have fallen in love. For me, my first love was when I was 16 years old. I was a sophomore in high school. I entered into a new school with new friends and was lucky enough to be picked to be on the JV Cheerleading squad. Everything was going for me. My past had been full of ups and downs, but now, as a sophomore, things were taking a turn for the better. Then I met… him.
Butterflies and Love Letters
Listen! My love is approaching. Look! Here he comes, leaping over the mountains, bounding over the hills. My love is like a gazelle or a young stag. See, he is standing behind our wall, gazing through the windows, peering through the lattice. My love calls to me:
Arise my darling. Come away, my beautiful one.
Song of Songs 2:8-10, CSB
He was popular, with good morals, and full of charm. Everyone liked him, and yet, he had his eyes on me. I didn’t understand why, but I enjoyed the attention. This is the stage in every relationship, at least in my generation, where love notes were written all the time. Back and forth we would express our feelings of what felt like love towards each other. I remember thinking, So this is what butterflies feel like when you love someone for the first time. I had never experienced anything like it.
For a 16-year-old, these feelings were all new and very exciting. I felt like I could do anything with him by my side. We attended church together, had nicknames, picked out our very own song, gave each other promise rings, and even managed to stay together when I moved away because of my Dad’s job. When life was hard, we had each other. When life was good, he was always the reason. Then one unexpected day, my whole world shattered. I found a note…
Shattered and Left Lonely
He attended a private school and was there while I was on break. I found myself over at his house often trying to help in any way I could, since his mom was single and working with much on her plate. While cleaning his room, I found a note on the floor with his handwriting. I picked up the letter thinking he had written it and just not given it to me yet.
After the first few lines, I knew that was not the case. I continued reading and noticed that he was talking to his friend in class about a girl he found attractive at his school. He expressed his interest in her and how he wasn’t sure what to do since he was still dating me. My heart pounded within my chest and the knot in my throat grew enormously in size.
Any girl that’s experienced a shattered heart, unfortunately, knows this feeling all too well. It’s a gut-wrenching, empty feeling in the pit of your stomach that just won’t go away. In that moment, my emotions were all over the place. Fear of the unknown, deep sadness, feeling I had just been replaced. And anger for putting so much trust in someone so young. I was left standing in his room all alone, brokenhearted, as I waited for him to come home from school. The clock ticked and tocked as I sat there counting the minutes of the inevitable breakup I never saw coming just two hours prior.
A joyful heart makes a face cheerful, but a sad heart produces a broken spirit.
Proverbs 15:13, CSB
Blessed and Learning Love
Obviously, the conversation that took place upon his arrival home didn’t go so well. He admitted he had feelings for someone else and that was basically the end of our relationship. It took WAY longer than I’d care to admit to get over that heartbreak. But in time, I finally learned how to move on.
Some of the hardest battles we fight are for love. We will fight hard for someone when we see that they have all the qualities we are looking for. We never forget our High School first loves and will remember those relationships for the rest of our lives. They draw out of us our deep longing for intimacy and connection for another. What I know now, and didn’t realize then, is that this desire for intimacy was meant for my Savior, Jesus Christ and no one else.
I am not saying that we can’t fall in love with people, because clearly we can and I have. However, the deep intimacy I gave my first love is meant for Christ alone. Falling in love with Jesus and making Him our first love has its advantages. This allows us to not place expectations on any other human we fall in love with, because they can not give us what Jesus can; which is an uncompromising, incomparable, everlasting, unconditional, eternal love.
Jesus never breaks my heart. Jesus never hurts my feelings. Jesus never replaces me for someone more desirable. Jesus ALWAYS chooses me. Knowing this truth has helped me learn how to love others and forgive them when they happen to break my heart.
May the Lord direct your hearts to God’s love and Christ’s endurance.
2 Thessalonians 3:5, CSB
Prayer For The Broken Hearted
Father, I need your love daily. Remind me that even when people break my heart and leave it shattered in pieces on the floor, you are there to faithfully pick them up and put them back together again. When I think my world is falling apart, give me eyes to see it’s falling into place. Lead my heart to follow you so I don’t fall into the trap of following it. My heart is evil Lord, this I know. Restore it and teach it to love like you. Mend it and use it for your glory and your goodness, God. In my Beloved Savior’s name, I pray. Amen
Listen to me, you who know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my instruction: do not fear disgrace by men, and do not be shattered by their taunts.
When the Lord fills us with His love and light, our buckets are full to overflowing. With full buckets, we can fill others with Christ’s love.
I was sitting in the gymnasium at my kids’ elementary school as 200 squirmy students sat on the floor, their teachers perched slightly above them on metal folding chairs. The atmosphere was charged with palpable energy, excitement, and anticipation.
They were all waiting for a guest performer to take the stage. The man was Red Grammer, a Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter and performer who the CBS Morning Show described as: “a superstar to the young and a hit with parents too!” And we were all about to find out why!
Moved to Tears…
As Mr. Grammer began to sing his first song as if on cue, all 200 students chimed in:
Everybody here has a bucket. (Yes!) Everybody’s bucket holds light. (Right!) Add a little light here, add a little light there, till everybody’s bucket shines bright.
It was an incredible moment to behold. I don’t know what it is about a bunch of children singing together, but it gets me every time. As I looked around the room, I could see I wasn’t the only one who was deeply touched by what I was witnessing–many of the teachers and staff were wiping tears from their eyes too.
As I sat there in my chair, tears streaming down my face, I tried to soak up every ounce of the beauty that I was beholding. Moments like these don’t happen often enough. Moments when time just sort of comes to a stop. It’s as if a divine hand pushes an invisible pause button on all of our worries, anxieties, and fears. And we’re invited to simply take in the moment. And in the middle of that busy, secular public school, I experienced a divine moment.
As Mr. Grammer continued on with his performance, his 200-member backup choir followed suit. They added choreographed hand gestures and signs to match the lyrics–which their amazing choir teacher had taught them. There was a sweet ballad called “See Me Beautiful,” about asking others to try to see the best in us, even when we might be at our worst. Then, a fun tune called “I’ve Got A Lid” about protecting our hearts when someone comes to “dip into our bucket” with harsh words or actions. Followed by a call and response number called “I’m All Filled Up”–with happiness, good thoughts, and love. And the hits rolled on…
In A Nutshell…
Although Red Grammer is not a Christian artist, the simple messages of his beautiful songs cover the gamut of scripture. The overarching theme on his Circle of Light album is “bucket filling”–the simple notion that we all have buckets that hold love and light. Sometimes our buckets are empty; other times they’re full.
When someone’s bucket is empty, s/he might “dip” into others’ buckets by tearing them down. But we all have “lids” that we can use to protect our own buckets from dipping. We can always help to fill up others’ buckets by sharing love and light with them. So, essentially bucket filling represents the basic tenets of the Christian faith in a nutshell!
Love and Light…
First, our buckets are filled with love and light. As believers, we know that God is love:
And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
1 John 4:16
God’s son, Jesus, is the light of man:
In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
Bucket Filling and Dipping…
Next, God fills our “buckets” (our body, soul, and spirit) with His love.
And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.
Sin empties our buckets and causes us to hurt or “dip into” others to find fulfillment.
There is no soundness in my flesh because of thine anger; neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin. For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.
Using Our Lids…
Finally, we must use our “lids” to guard our hearts and minds against attacks by the enemy and worldly sin that so easily ensnares.
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
Ultimately, our job as believers is not to judge or fight our enemies, but rather to see them as our brothers and sisters whose “buckets are empty.” As believers, we are called to help “fill others’ buckets” by showing them the love of Christ.
But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you.
That night after the concert, as our family sat around the kitchen table, all of our buckets were full. My husband had helped set up the sound equipment for Mr. Grammer. I had helped emcee the event and both of our kids had attended the show. As we sat there eating–in typical mom fashion–I suggested that we go around the table and share one way that we had filled someone else’s bucket that day and one way that someone else had filled our bucket.
It was so sweet to hear how our kids had been touched by their friends’ kindness and how they had helped others throughout their day. Each of us enjoyed this activity so much that it has become a new family ritual at dinnertime. Sometimes things are so simple that they just work. And this concept of bucket filling has given our family a common language to consider how we are treating others and how they treat us.
Power to Change The World…
The final line in another of Red Grammer’s songs goes:
Filling up a bucket seems like a small, small thing. But it has the power to change the world!
Amen! I am so thankful we serve a loving God who wants nothing more than to fill to overflowing the buckets of all of His children.
Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
How have you filled someone’s bucket today? How has someone filled your bucket?
All scripture references are from The King James Version of The Holy Bible and all song lyrics and bucket filling references are drawn from Red Grammer’s performance and his Circle of Light album. For more on Mr. Grammer, visit: https://redgrammer.com/