Foolishness: The New Wisdom

silhouette-boy-pointing-finger“But God’s angry displeasure erupts as acts of human mistrust and wrongdoing and lying accumulate, as people try to put a shroud over truth. But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. So nobody has a good excuse. What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life. They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand.”  Romans 1:18-23 MSG

Remember in the children’s book, The Emperor’s New Clothes, how an entire kingdom of people got caught up in an important social figure’s delusion because those folks didn’t want to be judged in a negative way?  The pitch to this con was that, only the wise, intelligent people in the kingdom were able to see the clothes.  In wearing them, the emperor could separate the educated from the fools.  And out of fear for their reputations, their positions, the people pretended to see the imaginary fabric.  They went right along with the whole charade, and even applauded, ooh-ed and ahh-ed as their proud hero paraded down the street in nothing but his skivvies. It took an innocent little child to call out the absurdity of the situation...”But he’s not wearing any clothes!” If you’ve never read it, you should. The storyline is shockingly parallel to the hour in which we live.

We live in a 21st Century realtime version of the Emperor’s New Clothes, where no one wants to admit that the status quo is out of hand. How we want the acceptance of others, so we choke down any and all ridiculous demands that a few make in order to garner favor.  If you disagree, you might even be sued by your government and lose your business license.  The issues splattered across the headlines as we speak would be funny if they weren’t so tragic. Oh, it’s not popular to contradict the absurd ideals fabricated by our pop culture…no doubt I’ll be met with some shrapnel for saying so. But not even our culture sticks to its own ideologies for longer than a season or two, or until they get bored because it’s not obscene or unreasonable enough. Our appetite demands that our movies be increasingly filthier, our language coarser, our crimes more violent, our rights more invasive of other people’s rights. Our “emperor” of the modern world isn’t a man or woman; it’s the desire to dominate the majority; to win the argument, to create the illusion that our ideas are more relevant than truth itself. It’s a thought system and it stinks in our Creator’s eyes because we reject truth for a lie and we do it without batting an eyelid.

Today’s shameful headlines will be upstaged by tomorrow’s stunts by the popular and powerful, and folks will go right along with outright lies to keep from being labeled closed-minded, bigoted, or archaic. Just so you know, I’m not talking about prejudice, hate crimes, civil rights, or social injustice here…I’m talking about the most basic, common-sense standards that have been flipped on their ear. And the crowd cheers “Bravo! Beautiful! Amazing! Superior thinking!” Hey, if celebrities are touting these far-fetched ideals as relevant, true, and not to be questioned, surely it’s got to be right…right? The fabric is only invisible to the intellectually-inferior. Plus, if you won’t concede to their logic, then you’re not only an opposing view–you are now a bad person. You lose sponsors. Others sever ties out of fear of losing popularity or status. Businesses pull contracts and relocate to get away from association with you. You may even wind up in court or on the unemployment line.  This isn’t really a demand for respect, for acceptance…it’s our twisted society’s way of saying, “You WILL do what we want, and you WILL like it.  Or else.”  And it’s being endorsed by our leaders just so they can garner more votes.  There, I said it.

We don’t even realize we’re going along with it just to appease someone else’s demand for the last word, (and to save our own reputations from ridicule). We’ve gotten so good at playing along that we even think we see the emperor’s imaginary clothes. And somewhere off in the distance, the “spinner” of the imaginary covering is laughing all the way to the bank. Will it take another child, oblivious to modern society’s uber-relaxed ideas of propriety, to blurt out the truth and wake up the deluded masses?

Pray for our nation. There are no words to describe some of the things that have elevated themselves to even be issues among us. Said cautiously and with love…but as honestly as I know how. I’d be really faking it right now if I pretended not to see how embarrassingly exposed we have become as a people. God, please snap us out of our blinded condition. It’s beyond humiliating; it’s becoming dangerous.

File Thirteen: The 490 Principle

IMG_4775“Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!”  Matthew 18:21-22 (New Living Translation)

I’m going to share a personal insight on the above Scripture that may or may not get a round of applause from seasoned theologians; but for those of you who struggle in this area, it may be what you need to help set you free.

I went through an ordeal once where, for about 5 years, I was done terribly wrong by someone very close to me.  I was hung in an endless loop of hurt and self-permitted abuse, and one of the biggest tethers which had me bound was my own inability to let it go.

You see, often when we deal with a deep-seated or long-term hurt, it becomes as much our “friend” as it is our enemy.  Our hurt becomes our identity, something we nurse and justify and protect.  Without it, we no longer know who we are…why, what would we have to talk about with others if not for “it?”  Without it, on whom or what could we blame the weight gain, those pesky gray hairs, or that once-in-a-lifetime dream gone down the tubes?

During this season of my life, I was faced with a crossroads and not much time in which to choose.  On the one hand, I had a lifetime ahead of me to continue carrying that overloaded briefcase of offenses, stuffed haphazardly with the file folders of my memory.  I might be humpbacked from straining and dragging it behind me, but at least I’d never be alone as long as I had my hurt!  I’d never have to reinvent myself because at least I recognized and had learned to co-exist with the long, pitiful face staring back at me in the mirror!

On the other hand, there was a clean slate and a pure conscience; there was love and opportunity and peace of mind waiting through a narrow passage…only I couldn’t squeeze through that passage with my knapsack stuffed with past hurts.  What if I got to the other side and missed being able to thumb through the pages and pages of things gone wrong?  What would I have left if no one else were made to remember the martyr I’d been for having gone through all that hurt?  What glory was there in people suddenly forgetting my sacrifices and longsuffering?  What IF?!!!

Perhaps I’m being overly illustrative, but I truly was struggling and I wanted desperately to do the right thing.  Deep in my heart, I was tired of being sad, and tired of having an excuse for not rising above that series of incidents which kept me stuck in first gear.  It was at this point that in my prayer time, God began to not only edge me toward a new level of maturity, but He also began to reveal something simple yet profound enough to help me actually want to be free.  He’s a really merciful Father…He loves us too much to allow us to stay the way we are!

I had read the Scripture many times about forgiving 490 times in a day, and had a whole different idea of what it meant.  Although my offender at times came pretty close to meeting quota by my estimation (smile), I never actually had to release 490 separate sins committed against me in one day EVER.  But, this Scripture came to life and began to grow with greater revelation when I suddenly made the course-altering move to speak the words that very first time, “I choose to forgive.”

I had thought all my life that, once you forgive someone, you forgive…and the forget part comes automatically.  Well, eventually perhaps, but not always.  For situations like what I overcame, and what you’re getting ready to become free from, there comes “File 13.”

Beginning today, I want you to set a goal to get out from under that one hurt you’ve babied and protected.  Jesus had your situation in mind when He commanded to forgive not seven times, but seventy times seven–or–as often as it comes to your mind.  Our memory can be pretty active when it comes to instant replay, and unless we discipline ourselves to shut that button off, we can consume entire days with reliving hurts over and over.  What a waste of a perfectly good life!

Get serious about this thing, because not only is it toxic to your spirit and to your physical body, but if you want to receive forgiveness from the Lord, you’re going to have to learn how to dish it out.  Right now, say out loud with me, “I choose to forgive __________ (name).”  That person can be dead or alive…doesn’t matter…you’re doing this in obedience to God, and you’re doing it for YOU.  You need to let him or her off the hook more than your offender needs to be let off!

It will feel almost like a self-betrayal at first–and your carnal side is going to kick and scream for retribution and that proverbial pound of flesh–but stick to your guns!  Oops, you just now thought of it again…so say it again:  “I choose to forgive _________.”  Don’t be surprised that, since thoughts seem to travel at warp speed, you may have the occasion to forgive the memory of one act 490 times in a day.  Your mental trashcan will probably have wadded up papers flowing out on all sides.  Keep confessing forgiveness and tossing the offense into the garbage.

Know this:  if you have to re-do the act of forgiveness, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you didn’t truly forgive in the first place.  That doesn’t make you a failure any more than having to die to sin each new day makes you unsaved.  Don’t give up and say, “I just can’t forgive!”  You CAN—with work.  It’s as much a process as it is an action, and sometimes you have to speak with your mouth and then let your attitude follow your intention.  The power of life and death is in the tongue, and you’re in a battle for the quality of your life!  You may not even feel your heart 100% in what you’re saying, but keep saying it anyway.  Trust me when I tell you that for every time you say it with as much faith as you can muster, that hurt has less and less a hold on you.  Eventually the day will come when you really will forget to hurt!  You may not forget the incident, but you will forget to let it control your life. That’s freedom indeed.

I’ll never forget an object lesson Debra Catron taught on a Wednesday night at our church several years ago, when she recounted a difficult season in her own life.  She said, “There’s a little trunk of painful memories in the attic of my mind.  Now, I can open that trunk and go through the contents at any time, or I can leave it locked.  I simply choose not to go there anymore.”

©2011  Lisa Crum.

Please feel free to share, but if reprinting, please use acknowledgments!

Bedtime Bread

compressed_hands-tearing-bread-homemade-largeI remember well a story Pastor Adrian Rogers shared a couple of decades ago in a series on the Lord’s Prayer. Back during World War II, several war orphans were taken in who’d survived unthinkable atrocities; hunger and living in wreckage on the streets had become a way of life in their once-secure world. Their caregivers were grieved at how the nighttime was the worst for these children, many of whom would wake up screaming in the middle of the night or were unable to sleep at all.

Finally, an idea came to one of those adults. He went over to a shaking child in the bed and slipped a piece of bread into the child’s hand, who immediately stopped his fitfulness and drifted into a peaceful sleep. From that time on, all the children were allowed to go to bed with a simple piece of bread in their hands: an assurance that they could actually enjoy having a full belly that night without fear of waking the next day to starvation and uncertainty.

Most of us have never known what it’s like to have experienced so great a lack; and yet, spiritually we can go through life just as petrified with fear that tomorrow will bring problems which cannot be solved. If we are new to the faith, or just not in a deep relationship with God, we may not have learned to fully trust in His Fatherly love and provision.

Begin to go to bed at night having spent time in the Word, and let thoughts of His faithfulness be the last thing on your mind as you close your eyes. Whatever issues you’re dealing with, if you’ll begin to compile and recite Scriptures which reiterate the Lord’s promises never to leave or forsake you, you can be as David who wrote, “When I go to bed, I sleep in peace, because, Lord, you keep me safe.” (Psalm 4:8) Having spent time with Him and feasting on His nourishing supply, you can have assurance that He will not leave you orphaned from His presence. From my childhood on, I’ve found great comfort in sleeping with a Bible under my pillow; and just like those war-traumatized children, I need only to slip my hand under the pillowcase and feel my daily bread waiting on me for when I wake up hungry again.

We are never to lose our hunger for God; but His will is that we be totally delivered from the FEAR of Him not being there to fill that hunger! You can trust Him to always take care of you…

Thorn-Proof Determination

macro-thorn“…I don’t want anyone to give me credit beyond what they can see in my life or hear in my message, even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  1 Cor. 12:6-10 NLT

I think often of the Apostle Paul and the “thorn” (2 Cor 12) that remains a mystery to us all to this day. Perhaps it was meant to be an unnamed source of contention, so that we could identify it with our own thorns.  Interesting, isn’t it, that Paul didn’t refer to an entire thicket of entanglement…just one lone irritating thorn;  like a splinter that is stubbornly embedded, or an itch in the middle of your back that you can’t quite reach.  You’ve dealt with all the rest and there’s this one that you haven’t been able to conquer yet.  Am I getting warm here?  Does this sound like any area of your life where you’ve not yet succeeded in getting permanent victory from struggle?

I could be wrong, but I like to think that instead of a chronic or recurring physical illness, Paul’s thorn was–and ours is– a personal ‪#‎struggle‬ on the battle front of the mind.  All of us have our areas which need work; and if you don’t, I sure do. I won’t bore you with the details, but there are areas of my life that require more spot-checks and maintenance than others. There are areas which, if I don’t renew my mind daily to the Word, will cause me to start reverting back to previous wrong mindsets. What’s your thorn? Is it disappointment in yourself or others…unforgiveness…a nagging temptation to do something that you know is wrong…a terrible feeling of inferiority that sabotages your best attempts for success…an old wound from someone who should have loved you but didn’t, and it robs you of peace?  The enemy has convinced many of us that sickness and disease is our thorn, and that God wants us to stay sick to teach us some kind of lesson.  What a load of garbage!  No, I don’t think the “thorn” represents sickness at all–but I do think, however, that the thorn in our mind can interfere with us receiving the physical, spiritual, and mental healing God has already provided, if we allow it to dwarf our faith with a cloud of unbelief. Where you see sickness manifest, however, there’s quite possibly also the presence of the thorn. Whatever your thorn might be, it operates as a distraction, an annoyance, an attempt to divert your focus from the truth. And yes, the thorn can fling you headlong into ‪#‎depression‬ when it digs in long and hard enough. The thorn whispers and taunts, “God doesn’t care about you. If He did, why would you be having this problem? You’re just a reject, a castoff. I don’t know why He even puts up with you!”

Your answer from ‪#‎God‬ is the same as the answer He gave Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you.” God didn’t tell Paul He would never remove the thorn; but He did tell Paul that His grace would cover those times when the thorn seemed to get the best of him. Who’s to say that God didn’t remove the thorn before Paul died? We only know from his writing that Paul apparently quit asking after the third time. Maybe at some point, Paul was so confident in God’s ability to keep him that the thorn no longer mattered.  The most important take-away of this passage is, God never lifted the grace that covered Paul’s weaknesses; He never left him to the wolves. If that thorn were endangering Paul’s soul or the heavy calling on his life, I believe God would’ve wiped it out the moment Paul were in imminent danger. Paul concluded that as long as he continually had to lean on the Lord and not his own strength, it kept him reliant on God; and it prevented Paul from believing himself to be somehow superior to the people with whom he shared the Gospel. Most of all, we see that Paul grew at peace in the fact that God loved him, thorn or no thorn. The thorn was not Paul’s identity; and you must not let the thorn become YOUR identity, either! God LOVES you!

Take this walk with ‪#‎Jesus‬ a day at a time. You may be high-fiving one day and needing pulled out of the ditch the next day. Maturity in the Word does help minimize the severity or number of times when you’re “the ditch person,” so be encouraged that you’re going to be having increasing good days as you gain strength and momentum. When you are in need of a helping hand, however, for heaven’s sake don’t isolate yourself out of shame. Your brothers and sisters have dealt with their own thorns that are just as embarrassing and tormenting as the one you’ve encountered. Let them help you. Let God help you. Keep a list of the Scriptures that pertain to your struggle somewhere that you can access at all times, and don’t just read them–speak the Word OUT LOUD over your circumstances. The demonic forces assigned against you can’t hear you reading silently, but they sure hate when you read and speak the Word into the atmosphere, where they have to hear it and tremble!

I suspect that if you’re reading this post, you’re having a low day. My friend, God has not left you, and He isn’t orchestrating some cosmic ‘pick-on-YOU’ party for his amusement. Our Father doesn’t work like that; Satan, however, is very much amused by your struggles and failures. God wants you to WIN. Stop beating yourself up today over the fact that you’re there, again, in that big hole where you’ve wound up numerous times before. God isn’t beating you up. No, if you’ll look closely, He is assembling angel armies around you to stand guard while you dust yourself back off. He is sending prayer warriors to intercede on your behalf. And He has already provided a finished work in the death and resurrection of Jesus. The same grace that saved you is the same grace that will cover you while you get back on your feet. It isn’t our excuse for courting a sinful lifestyle or for giving less than our best; it’s the mortar that holds our pieces together and makes up for what we cannot, even on our best days, give. Let His grace cover you now. Feel God’s love and forgiveness and yes–even understanding–scrubbing away all those hateful things the enemy is trying to write about you in your mind. Let it go. Receive God’s help. And whether the process is instantaneous or takes a little while to complete, it’s ok…God’s got your back.  If you’re depressed as you read this, remind yourself, “This is a temporary state and I’m already in healing and recovery mode. I can trust God while I wait to “get over the hump” and back to my normal self again.”

Pray with me: “Father, I’m hurting today. The enemy has launched another attack on a vulnerable spot, and I’m in need of Your mercy. You told Paul that Your grace was all he needed when “the thorn” pressed in and caused him pain. You didn’t love Paul any more than You love me. You’re not comparing the many amazing things Paul did and wrote against the small life I live. You’re willing to give me JUST AS MUCH grace as You gave Paul because the thorn in my life is important to You too. You’re just as much in favor of my being victorious. I release this wounded-ness to You today, and I surrender the fight to handle it my way. Whether it’s an addiction, an attitude, or a hurdle I can’t seem to get beyond no matter how hard I try, I am encouraging myself in You today and reminding myself of Your promise NEVER to leave or forsake me. It’s not Your will that I be destitute, sick, defeated, walking in lack, depressed, feeling inferior or walking under any kind of cloud. I submit myself to You, as Your Word has instructed, and then I resist the devil…and he MUST flee from me. I don’t care if he tries to come back again and again, I will fight him until You say, “Enough!” I plead the blood of Jesus now over my life, and I draw the bloodline around myself. I receive Your grace and I wrap myself in it, like a big protective bubble. The shield of faith deflects every piercing weapon the enemy tries to injure me with. Even those bruises and scratches and wounds I’ve already encountered are being healed by the Balm of Gilead! Thank You, Father, because Your Word is enabling me to see myself as YOU see me. I’m NOT a reject! I’m that earthen vessel in which You choose to house Your precious treasures. You are using this imperfect me–yes! And You are getting glory for the miracles You perform through me in spite of the fact that I’m not yet where I WILL BE when You’ve finished with me!  I will walk holy before You and trust You to carry me across the terrain that’s too rugged for my own feet to navigate.”

I say, “Devil, you cannot have me. I belong to God. You can’t even have me in my mind. I believe God’s Word and He is even helping me with any areas of unbelief…so be gone, in Jesus’ name! In Jesus’ name, I break your assignment against me today, all of you evil spirits who are trying to take me down. You WILL NOT wreck my day and you WILL NOT get my soul. God already knows my weaknesses and His grace is holding me together in spite of them. You don’t win in the court of Heaven today because I’m already forgiven. You have no authority over me. You are under my feet. I’m not listening to your lies. If you want to bring accusation, talk to the hand—the nail-scarred hand!”

Snakeproofing Your Path…or at Least Your Feet

garden.jpgThis morning I drifted back off to sleep and dreamed that I was in this pretty, rustic frame house overlooking a beautiful view…one of those gardens that has stone walkways and big leafy plants. The temperature was perfect. It had balconies and decks on every imaginable angle and level. I thought…finally somewhere to go where I can clear my mind and just relax! I remember feeling thankful that the Lord had blessed me with this time away. I took off down a set of the steps leading to the garden and just as my foot started to hit the landing, I saw the biggest copperhead I’ve ever seen stretched out facing me, with its head lifted up and what looked almost like a smirk on its face.

I took off back up those steps and started warning people not to go down into the garden, and I watched in despair as I could see animals and people already wandering around the various paths down there…imagining that there were no doubt more where he came from; and I just turned away so I wouldn’t see. They couldn’t make out what I was saying as I shouted down. I finally went back inside and slammed my door shut. And then I woke up.

As I lay there in the bed, I recalled the smug look on that big snake’s face. There have been so many times when I was so close to stepping into a new place, only to be met by this spirit of fear…and just as he intended, I would be driven by that snake right back into my comfort zone. It’s strange, as I dreamed this, I didn’t sense the garden to be necessarily a dangerous place. I didn’t blame the garden for the snake, or perceive it an evil trap. It was just a place where I could go and rest my mind and body. Why would he be waiting there, daring me, taunting me? And then the Lord immediately brought this Scripture to my remembrance: “Behold! I have given you authority and power to trample upon serpents and scorpions, and [physical and mental strength and ability] over all the power that the enemy [possesses]; and nothing shall in any way harm you.” (Luke 10:19 AMP). And I then thought of “having your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” (Eph 6:15)

I can’t say whether the dream had a special meaning, but I can tell you this: we don’t have to shrink back from opportunities God gives us for fear of the enemy. Oh, that old serpent is liable to be peeking out along just about any path we’re walking on; but we don’t have to spend our lives running back up the steps into perceived safe places just to avoid him. If we belong to Jesus, we can put on that footgear of peace and go wherever He leads us. Who would’ve thought that peace is in our feet, not our head! I can almost envision a big tall pair of “snake proof” boots with a heavy heel for just such occasions. We are wearing God’s peace, we are protected, and we are given authority to clear the path for others by crushing what causes danger under our feet. We are given this charge not just for our own benefit…but for an entire humanity God wants to reconcile to Himself.

Knowing now that we can do this without fear, let’s get out of our enclosed “safe place” and interact with others. They need us and can’t hear us just shouting down at them. We have to get on a level where they can understand the Gospel, and be ready to defend them from the devil if needed. And, we can do it all while remaining in a state of rest and peace! No fear!

Prayer for the Unsung Heroes: Caregivers

holdinghandsPrayer focus today: Please pray for those in your circle who are caregivers. Unless you’ve ever had to do it, it’s impossible to fathom the physical, emotional, and even spiritual depletion that can happen when you give care to a loved one round-the-clock. It’s most certainly a labor of love. Pray not just for the sick person, but for the person(s) unselfishly looking after him or her. And when you can offer help, a meal, an encouraging word, be a blessing to that person!

 

Father, we come before You today on behalf of caregivers everywhere. Lord, the caregivers would tell us to focus our prayers on the sick and infirm being taken care of, and we do that too; but today, we pray for the caregivers themselves.

We declare over these today a special Psalm 67 blessing. Thank You for being gracious, for making Your face to shine upon them, and for blessing them. When it seems as if they’re in a dark, unfamiliar place, cause that light to shine through the fog, bringing them hope and courage all over again. Calm their fears, Father. It’s a scary realm to navigate, especially when those dependent upon them are suffering from mental compromise. When they feel terribly inadequate or overwhelmed, surround them with encouragers. When they feel exhausted, send helpers to come alongside. When they see no possible opportunity for a break, Father, make possible times of respite. When they feel unappreciated by fellow family members, cause others to become more sensitive to their needs…and send a network of people into their lives who express needed appreciation. Remind them often, Father, that they are not alone.  You have a heart for the helpless, Lord, but You are also well-pleased with and aware of the people who are caregivers, rescuers, nurses, and helpers of those who are helpless!  You keep a record of those acts of kindness, so these who are in positions of caring for the helpless are under Your watchful eye.  Even when others aren’t aware of all they must do in a day’s (and night’s) time, You are there and You know.  Bless them indeed; bless them a lot!

We ask You to help caregivers embrace offered help, to not try and do everything on their own. If siblings are not rising to the occasion, send friends that “sticketh closer than a brother” to help shoulder the load. Cause strength to rise as they wait upon You and upon those who need their help. Strength like eagles, Lord. Running and not weary. Walking and not fainting. Renewed strength. We ask that every opportunity for sleep brings refreshment of double that time! No troubling dreams, no tossing and turning, no inability to relax. Remind them that as they rest, You are watching over those in their care. Thank you for protecting their own health. Healing flows in their adrenal glands so that they don’t feel exhaustion setting in!

We rebuke tormenting spirits, in the name of Jesus, that would create unrest in the atmosphere of the place where the care is being given.  In situations where caregivers are wearing thin to the point of losing compassion for those in their care, we ask You to intervene.  Don’t allow any of our precious caregivers to be stressed to the breaking point where they might be unkind or abusive, even unintentionally.  We invite the spirit of peace, the dove of the Holy Spirit, to rest and find habitation in this caregiving place. Bring peace and calm to the patients, but Lord, bring that same peace and calm to the caregivers. When the devil tries to inject guilt, depression, a feeling of inadequacy, feelings of bitterness or frustration or anger, or feelings of despair and temptation to give up, Lord, we raise the banner of Jehovah Nissi and we say, this territory is occupied by the Lord! Shalom has taken this territory and there is no room for enemies that would disrupt the environment.  Thank You for causing caregivers to be creative and able to hear Your direction…when right music, conversation, interaction, even games help their wards to be calmer, Lord reveal clever ways to caregivers to keep these in their care occupied and happy.

You are near those who are of a broken heart, Lord. Many of our caregivers’ hearts are broken because of the injured, sick, fragile, or even terminal state of their loved ones. Comfort them. Bring many opportunities for humor and laughter even in times when they feel overwhelmed. Let laughter flow as freely as tears, and when the Holy Spirit needs to numb the pain, we ask You to send that comfort too. Peace that passes all understanding…peace when it seems illogical that there should be peace.  Your Word also says that one act of pure and undefiled religion is to care for the widows (and orphans), and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. We pray you will send salvation to the caregivers who have not received You…but Lord, for even the ones who don’t yet have a relationship with you, we ask for very obvious blessings upon them for compassionate caring for the widow, the helpless, the infirm. Let them know that it is You who sends these blessings, and may they see this as proof of Your great love and mercy. We also pray that You will send financial blessing on them, so that they do not have additional pressures over money issues. Bring wisdom for financial management for themselves and those who are their wards.

And Father, for those who’ve done all they can and are struggling with the issue of having to recruit hospice, respite care, home health nurses, volunteer helpers, assisted living, or even a nursing home for their loved one, help them to be strong enough to let go and allow others to help.  Especially in the case where the caregivers’ health is declining, sometimes it’s just not possible to continue as before; and for many, the guilt over not being able to continue to take care of one’s spouse, parent, or child is unbearable.  When the cared-for person is too frail for home care, in need of full-time medical experience the caregiver doesn’t have, has wandering or self-endangerment issues, help the caregiver to be strong enough to turn the reins over and let others come alongside to help.  There is no shame in allowing a better solution for the patient to be had; so help those who must give up being a caregiver not to blame themselves when they’ve reached the end of their ability to do so.  Help them to not feel as if they are abandoning their loved ones if they cannot continue in the role of caregiver.  Sometimes we need medical professionals or just a few more hands involved; and guilt or pride won’t let us admit that we can’t do it alone.  When it’s YOUR time for more people to be involved in the care process, I pray that You will whisper a confirmation into the caregivers’ ears that it is OK; then heal their aching hearts as they make the hard decisions of life.

Finally, we confess Psalm 46:1-3 over them (and over ourselves) to affirm that we know You are with them and us:

 

“God is our shelter and our strength.  When troubles seem near, God is nearer, and He’s ready to help. So why run and hide? No fear, no pacing, no biting fingernails. When the earth spins out of control, we are sure and fearless.When mountains crumble and the waters run wild, we are sure and fearless.  Even in heavy winds and huge waves,or as mountains shake, we are sure and fearless.”(Ps 46:1-3 The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.)

We confess Your Word and we ask these things in the name of Jesus…gratefully, effectually, fervently, and with FAITH that You watch over Your Word to perform it!  And, as You reveal ways to us to be more proactive in ministering to and assisting caregivers, we will rise to the occasion!

Clearing Out Cobwebs and Curses


May we all be reminded today that WORDS MATTER…and learn to apply THE Word to every situation that doesn’t line up with it.

When I was about 19, a close family member (doesn’t matter which one) told me that I would never be able to do what I do in a big way because I was born without enough stamina. While it’s true that I have always tended to tire easily, I didn’t really recall again what that person had spoken (who loved me and meant well) over me until somewhat recently. And guess what? Sure enough, those words had stuck, thus far all my adult years. Whether in my subconscious or elsewhere else, an elder’s voice had unwittingly granted legitimacy to something negative, something that needed dealt with and not just accepted. It gave credence to a mentality that if I tried, I wouldn’t be able to succeed or to hold onto the accomplishments God’s gifts had enabled me to achieve…oh how many times I haven’t even bothered to try, because I could see the watermark where I could only rise so far and no more!  God didn’t vividly bring this When I was about 19, a close family member (doesn’t matter which one) told me that I would never be able to do what I do in a big way because I was born without enough stamina. While it’s true that I have always tended to tire easily, I didn’t really recall again what that person had spoken (who loved me and meant well) over me until somewhat recently. And guess what? Sure enough, those words had stuck, thus far all my adult years. Whether in my subconscious or elsewhere else, an elder’s voice had unwittingly granted legitimacy to something negative, something that needed dealt with and not just accepted. It gave me a mentality that if I tried, I wouldn’t be able to succeed or to hold onto the accomplishments God’s gifts had enabled me to achieve. There has been this watermark in my life where I would only succeed to a point and then would never rise any higher.  Many times I would see that fail point and scared me away from trying again.  But!  God didn’t vividly bring this to my remembrance to hurt my feelings, He brought it to light so that I could do something about it in the Spirit realm! How merciful!

Now I am determined to slough off that declaration and make a declaration of my own: I am an overcomer, I am strong in the Lord and in the power of His might, and I will be–nope, I AM, right now–able to do what I do in a BIG way! I am breaking off that curse and I am getting strong for the next leg of my journey, to the glory of God. In Jesus’ name, I will not sit on the sideline wandering what might have been if I’d only had more in the tank! Not blaming that person here, I’m getting free from some sneaky little hidden things that are being swept out…and hopefully encouraging you to sweep some things out of your own closet.

Has someone spoke into existence a negative thing over your life, even out of ignorance? It is time to neutralize the sting of words and the consequences he or she may have set in motion. Begin now to search the Scriptures for what GOD says you are, what you can do, who you can be. Philippians 4:13 says that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. By HIS strength, I rise above my own limitations, and SO CAN YOU. Stop repeating what others have done to you or said about you and look UP to your real Source. Beginning today, that’s not who you are anymore. Don’t give the devil the satisfaction of hearing you talk and talk about your past…because that tells him he has succeeded in scarring you!   It is important–very important–that you cancel out what THEY said by uttering aloud, with your own voice, what GOD says about you! What they said, what they did? Doesn’t have any bearing whatsoever on where God is taking you. And when you set your mind to it, do what you’re doing not to prove them wrong, but to prove Him RIGHT! #callthosethings

Healing Confessions that Shatter the Spirit of Fear

shatteredNote:  Scriptures taken from The Voice translation of the Holy Bible.   The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society  All rights reserved.

 

1 Tim 1:7 You see, God did not give us a cowardly spirit, but a powerful, loving, and disciplined spirit.  FATHER, THIS PANIC ATTACK I’M FIGHTING IS STRAIGHT FROM THE DEVIL.  YOU DID NOT INSTILL THIS WRETCHED FEELING IN ME.  YOU HAVE INSTEAD MADE ME BRAVE, CALM, EMPOWERED, FULL OF LOVE FOR YOU AND OTHERS, AND I AM ALSO DISCIPLINED “LIKE A WEANED CHILD.” I REJECT IN JESUS’ NAME ANY TYPE OF EMOTION THAT WOULD CAUSE ME TO DOUBT WHO I AM IN YOU, AND WHO YOU ARE.  YOU ARE DWELLING INSIDE OF ME AND THERE’S NOT ROOM FOR BOTH YOU AND FEAR!

2 Corinthians 10:5 We are demolishing arguments and ideas, every high-and-mighty philosophy that pits itself against the knowledge of the one true God. We are taking prisoners of every thought, every emotion, and subduing them into obedience to the Anointed One.  FATHER, IN JESUS’ NAME, WITH MY VOICE I SPEAK OUT AND REJECT THE SPIRIT OF FEAR FROM OFF MY LIFE.  FEAR CHALLENGES YOUR SOVEREIGNTY, AND I WON’T HAVE THAT.  I CORRAL INTO THE HOLDING CELL OF DISCIPLINE ALL THESE THOUGHTS AND WILD IMAGININGS THAT ARE LOOSE AND WREAKING HAVOC.  I IMPRISON ANY SUCH NOTION THAT YOU’RE NOT LOOKING OUT FOR ME.  I REST UNDER THE SHADOW OF YOUR WINGS NOW, AND I THANK YOU FOR HELPING ME TO SHAKE LOOSE FROM THE TEMPORARY STATE OF WORRY I FOUND MYSELF IN.  YOU MADE ME AWARE THAT I NEEDED TO PLEAD THE BLOOD OF JESUS…I’M PLEADING IT NOW OVER MY MIND, MY THOUGHTS, MY ACTIONS, AND ESPECIALLY MY WORDS.  I WILL NOT CONTRADICT YOUR PROMISES WITH WORDS OF FEAR AND UNBELIEF.

1 John 4:18 Love will never invoke fear. Perfect love expels fear, particularly the fear of punishment. The one who fears punishment has not been completed through love. THANK YOU, LORD, THAT MY LOVE FOR YOU IS GROWING AND GRAVITATING TOWARD PERFECTION.  IT MELTS AWAY THE FEAR THAT SAYS I CANNOT TRUST YOU TO STAY WITH ME AND NEVER LEAVE.  YOU ARE WORKING ALL THINGS TO MY EVENTUAL GOOD.

Genesis 18:15 Sarah was embarrassed and tried to deny laughing. She feared these were no ordinary guests. Sarah: I wasn’t laughing. Eternal One: That is not true, Sarah. You did laugh.  THANK YOU, LORD, FOR PATIENTLY ENDURING WHEN I SOMETIMES ACT AS THOUGH YOUR PROMISES ARE TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE.  I ALREADY KNOW YOU CAN DO ANYTHING; THANKS FOR TEACHING ME HOWEVER, THAT YOU LOVE ME ENOUGH TO DO THE MIRACULOUS NOT JUST FOR OTHERS, BUT ALSO FOR ME…YES, EVEN FOR ME!

Genesis 20:11 Abraham: I did it for my own protection. I did it because I thought this was not a God-fearing place, and I was afraid you would surely kill me to possess my wife.  THANK YOU, FATHER, THAT I DON’T HAVE TO LET FEAR DRIVE ME TO MAKE DISHONEST OR FOOLISH CHOICES.  YOU ARE ORDERING MY STEPS TOWARD A GOOD FINISH.  I WILL OPERATE IN INTEGRITY AND TRUST YOU TO GUARD MY BEST INTERESTS.

Genesis 28:17 But even as he said this, a bit of fear came over him. Jacob: This place is absolutely awesome! It can be none other than the house of God and the gateway into heaven!  I AM GRATEFUL TO YOU, GOD, FOR THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN REVERENTIAL FEAR AND CARNAL FEAR. THE AWE I FEEL WHEN I CONSIDER YOUR UTTER MIGHT AND POWER IS NOT ONLY OVERWHELMING ME, BUT IT ALSO CAUSES THE OTHER, UNHEALTHY FEAR TO DISINTEGRATE IN YOUR PRESENCE.  THANK YOU FOR BEING APPROACHABLE EVEN THOUGH YOU ARE WHO YOU ARE!

Exodus 1:17 But the midwives respected God more than they feared Pharaoh, so they did not carry out the Egyptian king’s command. Instead, they let all the boys live. THANK YOU, LORD, THAT THE KNOWLEDGE OF WHO YOU ARE OVERRIDES MY FEAR OF MAN’S JUDGMENTS.  I WILL PERSEVERE TO DO THE RIGHT THING EVEN IN THE FACE OF A SINFUL WORLD THAT OFTEN DISREGARDS YOUR HOLY COMMANDMENTS.

Exodus 2:2 She became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that her son was healthy and beautiful, she feared for his safety; so she kept him hidden from view for three whole months.  THANK YOU FATHER, THAT I DON’T HAVE TO FEAR FOR MY CHILDREN’S SAFETY.  I STAND WITH ASSURANCE THAT YOU ARE WORKING OUT THEIR FUTURE AND THAT YOU’VE ORDAINED GREAT PURPOSE FOR THEIR LIVES–AND THAT YOU’LL EQUIP ME TO TEACH THEM WELL.  I DRAW THE BLOODLINE AROUND MY CHILDREN AND MY HOME, AND I DECLARE YOUR DIVINE PROTECTION OVER MY FAMILY.  I WILL NOT BE FEARFUL OF LOSING THEM TO THE ENEMY, BECAUSE I USE THE AUTHORITY YOU’VE GIVEN ME IN OUR HOUSEHOLD TO ESTABLISH RIGHT BOUNDARIES AND TO CLOSE ALL OPEN DOORS TO DEMONIC ATTACK.

Exodus 2:14 Offender: Who made you our prince and judge? Are you going to kill me as you did the Egyptian yesterday? Fear immediately gripped Moses.  THANK YOU, LORD, FOR BECAUSE YOU ARE HELPING ME, I CHOOSE TO REMAIN LED BY FAITH AND NOT BY MY FLESHLY IMPULSES.   I DON’T HAVE TO COVER MY TRACKS OR FEAR MY MISTAKES WILL BE DISCOVERED AND  EXPLOITED BY OTHERS.  EVEN IF I DO MAKE A RIDICULOUSLY FOOLISH CHOICE, I CAN TRUST YOU TO NAVIGATE ME BACK TOWARD YOUR PLAN FOR MY LIFE…SO THEREFORE, I REJECT LIVING IN FEAR AND ALWAYS LOOKING BEHIND ME TO SEE IF MY PAST IS CATCHING UP WITH ME.

Exodus 3:12 Eternal One: Do not fear, Moses. I will be with you every step of the way, and this will be the sign to you that I am the One who has sent you: after you have led them out of Egypt, you will return to this mountain and worship God.  FATHER, THANK YOU FOR NEVER PUTTING ME OUT THERE FARTHER THAN YOUR WILLINGNESS TO GUIDE ME AND PROTECT MY ACTIONS.  WHEN YOU REQUIRE GREAT THINGS OF ME, YOU ALWAYS ARE THERE TO HELP ME MAKE RIGHT DECISIONS AND CARRY THEM OUT.

Exodus 4:4 Eternal One: Reach out and grab it by the tail. Despite his natural fears, Moses reached out and grabbed the snake; and as he held it, it changed back into a shepherd’s staff.  THANK YOU LORD, FOR HELPING ME TO BE OBEDIENT EVEN WHEN I AM VERY AFRAID.  YOU ARE GIVING ME THE POWER TO TAKE AUTHORITY OVER THE DANGEROUS SERPENTS I ENCOUNTER–BOTH THE SPIRITUAL AND THE TWO-LEGGED VARIETY!  MY FAITH IN YOU IS BIGGER THAN MY FEAR OF WHATEVER I AM FACING.

Exodus 14:13-14 Moses to the people: Don’t be afraid! Stand your ground and witness how the Eternal will rescue you today. Take a good look at the Egyptians, for after today you will never see them again. The Eternal will fight on your behalf while you watch in silence. THANK YOU, FATHER, FOR EVEN WHEN IT APPEARS THAT THE ENEMY HAS ME HEMMED UP, YOU ARE PLANNING A DARING ESCAPE FOR ME.  I CAN TRUST THAT YOUR TIMING IS PERFECT, EVEN WHEN IT APPEARS TO BE CUTTING DANGEROUSLY CLOSE.  WHEN YOU DO MAKE THAT MEANS OF ESCAPE FROM THE ENEMY, YOU ARE BRINGING DOWN A WALL OF DESTRUCTION BEHIND ME TO ASSURE THAT I AM NO LONGER IN HARM’S WAY.

Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and brave, and don’t tremble in fear of them, because the Eternal your God is going with you. He’ll never fail you or abandon you!  THANKS, PAPA GOD, FOR NEVER ABANDONING ME!  I WON’T LET THE ENEMY SEE ME COWERING IN DREAD, BECAUSE YOU’RE THERE FIGHTING ON MY BEHALF.  I AM STRONG IN THE LORD AND IN THE POWER OF YOUR MIGHT!

Ruth 3:11 You may rest easy. You have nothing to fear, my child. I will do everything you ask. Everyone in this city agrees you are a woman of virtuous character.  FATHER, THANK YOU THAT I CAN REST EASY, FULLY ASSURED THAT YOUR FAVOR GOES BEFORE ME IN MATTERS WHERE I NEED AN ADVOCATE.  YOU ARE PROTECTING MY BEST INTERESTS AND ALSO MY REPUTATION.  EVEN IN MY SITUATION, I’M SO VERY CLOSE TO MY BREAKTHROUGH…AND UNTIL IT MANIFESTS,  I’M COVERED AT YOUR FEET!

2 Kings 6:16-17 Elisha: Have no fear. We have more on our side than they do. praying O Eternal One, I ask You to allow my servant to see heavenly realities.The Eternal awakened Elisha’s servant so that he could see. This is what he saw: the mountain was covered with horses and chariots of fire surrounding Elisha.  THANK YOU, O GOD, FOR OPENING MY EYES TO SEE JUST HOW HUGE AN ANGEL ARMY YOU’VE DISPATCHED TO RESCUE ME FROM DESTRUCTION.  THANK YOU THAT THE ENEMY TREMBLES AND IS SET TO UTTER CONFUSION AS THE REALITY OF SUCH PROTECTION OVER ME SINKS IN!  YOU WILL NOT ALLOW ME TO BECOME AMBUSHED OR CAUGHT DEFENSELESS.  THANK YOU FOR OPEN EYES TO SEE THAT YOU’RE LAUNCHING A FULL-SCALE INITIATIVE TO GET ME OUT OF THE TRAP.

1 Chronicles 28:20 to Solomon: Be strong, courageous, and effective. Do not fear or be dismayed. I know that the Eternal God, who is my God, is with you. He will not abandon you or forsake you until you have finished all the work for the temple of the Eternal.  THANK YOU, LORD, THAT BECAUSE YOU’RE WITH ME AND FOR ME, I CAN BE STRONG, COURAGEOUS, AND EFFECTIVE.  WHAT YOU’VE CALLED ME TO DO IN YOUR NAME, YOU ARE FULLY EQUIPPING ME TO CARRY OUT AND ACCOMPLISH.  I WILL TOSS OUT MY EXCUSES AND MY SENSE OF INFERIORITY…YOU ARE FITTING ME INTO THE PICTURE AND ALSO SETTING ME UP FOR SUCCESS, EVEN IN DOING A NEW THING.  THANK YOU FOR AN UNDERSTANDING HEART THAT MAKES RIGHT DECISIONS UNDER THE CANOPY OF TRUST IN YOU!

2 Chronicles 20:17 Stand and watch, but do not fight the battle. There, you will watch the Eternal save you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not fear or worry. Tomorrow, face the army and trust that the Eternal is with you.  FATHER, ALTHOUGH I AM IN A TIME OF WAR IN THE SPIRIT REALM, I DON’T HAVE TO SUMMONS COURAGE SND STRENGTH TO FIGHT.  I AM HERE AS AN OBSERVER TO PRAY AND WATCH AS YOU SHOW YOURSELF MIGHTY TO SAVE.  I RELEASE ALL FEAR AND WORRY, AND I SEAT MYSELF AT RINGSIDE TO WITNESS A FIGHT OF EPIC PROPORTIONS AS YOU ANNIHILATE THE ENEMY OF MY SOUL AND BODY!

Nehemiah 6:9 We knew our enemies’ intent was to intimidate us into stopping our work. They reasoned, “These Jews will stop rebuilding out of fear and discouragement. Progress will grind to a halt.” Instead I renewed my dedication, strengthened my hands.  THANK YOU, LORD, FOR SQUASHING THE SPIRIT OF INTIMIDATION. I RENEW MY DEDICATION, I STRENGTHEN MY HANDS, AND I WILL NOT BE DETERRED FROM THE MISSION TO WHICH YOU’VE ASSIGNED ME!   FEAR AND DISCOURAGEMENT WILL NOT, IN JESUS’ NAME, MAKE ME UNFRUITFUL; AND NEITHER CAN ACCUMULATING CIRCUMSTANCES.   IF “WHEN IT RAINS, IT POURS” IS THE BUSINESS OF THE DAY,  YOU ARE SWAPPING MY LITTLE POCKET UMBRELLA FOR YOUR BIG STADIUM UMBRELLA AND A NEW SET OF RAIN GEAR!  I WILL NOT BE SOAKED TO THE SKIN BY THE ENEMIES LIES OR HIS CLOUDBURST  OF ATTACK, AND I AM FREE TO WORK THROUGH WHAT YOU HAVE ASSIGNED ME TO DO.

Job 3:25 What I feared most descends on me; my nightmare—now reality.  THANK YOU FATHER, FOR DELIVERING ME FROM CRIPPLING FEARS WHICH TORMENT MY MIND AND LEAK OUT MY MOUTH.  I WILL NOT OPEN MYSELF UP TO DEVIL’S SNARE BY VOCALIZING WHAT CAUSES ME TO BE AFRAID OR WORRIED.  I REPENT OF IDLE, UNFRUITFUL WORDS WHICH MAY HAVE GIVEN EVIL SPIRITS A CLUE AS TO AREAS IN WHICH I’M VULNERABLE, AND I COME BOLDLY TO THE THRONE OF GRACE TO OBTAIN HELP IN THIS MY TIME OF NEED.  YOU WILL HELP ME TO SPEAK FAITH WORDS EVEN WHEN MY MIND SCREAMS, “IT’S NO USE!  JUST GIVE UP BECAUSE YOU’RE WHIPPED!”  IT IS NOT TOO LATE FOR ME.  YOU HAVEN’T FORSAKEN ME.  I CAN MAKE IT ONE MORE DAY IN JESUS’ NAME.

Psalm 3:5-6 I lie down at night and fall asleep.I awake in the morning—healthy, strong, vibrant—because the Eternal supports me. No longer will I fear my tens of thousands of enemies who have surrounded me!   IN THE NAME OF JESUS, I AM GOING TO SLEEP LIKE A BABY TONIGHT AND AWAKE REFRESHED, KNOWING I’M PROTECTED BY ANGEL ARMIES.  MY FATHER HAS ALREADY SET ME UP FOR A WIN OVER THE ENEMY.  DOESN’T MATTER WHAT THE CIRCUMSTANCES APPEAR TO BE…GOD IS GOING TO SHOW HIMSELF MIGHTY ON MY BEHALF!

Psalm 16:8 He is ever present with me; at all times He goes before me. I will not live in fear or abandon my calling because He stands at my right hand.  HOW ABOUT THAT…YEAH GOD!  THE ENEMY WILL NOT SCARE ME INTO COMPROMISE OR BACK ME INTO A CORNER, BECAUSE YOU’RE ASSURING THAT I CAN DO ALL THINGS YOU’VE ORDAINED ME TO DO, THROUGH CHRIST WHO STRENGTHENS ME.  YOU ARE SETTING ME UP FOR A WIN.

Psalm 23:4 Even in the unending shadows of death’s darkness, I am not overcome by fear. Because You are with me in those dark moments, near with Your protection and guidance, I am comforted. NOT EVEN THE FEAR OF DEATH CAN INTIMIDATE ME!  LORD, THANK YOU THAT I KNOW YOU’RE HOVERING OVER ME AND SHIELDING ME FROM DESTRUCTION. DEATH HAS NO POWER OVER ME BECAUSE JESUS PULLED ITS TEETH!  I REJECT THE ACCUSER’S SUGGESTIONS OF ALL THE ILLNESSES THAT ARE ATTACKING ME.  WHEN SICKNESS THREATENS, I CHOOSE TO GET INTO YOUR WORD AND SHUT OFF THE INTERNET SEARCHES OF SYMPTOMS AND DISEASES.  IF THE DOCTOR GIVES ME A NEGATIVE REPORT, I HAND IT TO YOU AND SAY, “I CHOOSE TO TRUST THE GREAT PHYSICIAN–JESUS!”

Psalm 46:2-3 No fear, no pacing, no biting fingernails. When the earth spins out of control, we are sure and fearless. When mountains crumble and the waters run wild, we are sure and fearless. Even in heavy winds and huge waves, or as mountains shake, we are sure and fearless.  FATHER, NO WEATHER PHENOMENON AND NO WAVE OF WICKEDNESS IN THIS WORLD CAN DRIVE ME INTO THE GROUND.  NO MEDICAL DIAGNOSIS, NO FINANCIAL CRISIS, AND NO FAMILY DRAMA CAN ROB ME OF YOUR PEACE.  I AM SURE AND FEARLESS, I AM SURE AND FEARLESS, I AM SURE AND FEARLESS…AND I DON’T CARE ONE  BIT TO KEEP REPEATING THAT TILL IT DRIVES THE ENEMY CRAZY!

Psalm 56:3 When struck by fear, I let go, depending securely upon You alone.  FATHER, HOW AWESOME IT IS TO KNOW WHAT WHEN YOU’RE ALL I HAVE, I HAVE ALL I NEED!  YOU ARE EVERYTHING TO ME AND BECAUSE I HAVE YOU, I DON’T HAVE TO HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS IN THIS MOMENT.  YOU KNOW THE END FROM THE BEGINNING, AND YOU ARE ORDERING MY STEPS.  THAT’S ALL I NEED TO KNOW–THAT YOU LOVE ME AND THAT YOU ARE FOR ME.

Psalm 56:11 In God I have placed my trust. I shall not let fear come in,for what can measly men do to me?  FATHER,  IF YOU’RE FOR ME,  WHO CAN BE AGAINST ME?  I TRUST YOU TO HANDLE THOSE WHO OPPOSE ME.  YOU WILL NOT LET THE ENEMY HAVE THE UPPER HAND!  IF I’M ACCUSED FALSELY, THOSE WHO RISE UP AGAINST ME WILL BE SHOWN TO BE IN THE WRONG.  YOU ARE MY DEFENDER, AND THE ONE WHO ASSERTS JUSTICE ON MY BEHALF.  THANK YOU THAT I HAVE THE BEST LAWYER THAT FAITH CAN SECURE–MY ELDER BROTHER–AND THAT HE TAKES A PERSONAL INTEREST IN MY CASE!

Proverbs 3:24-26 Your mind will be clear, free from fear; when you lie down to rest, you will be refreshed by sweet sleep. Stay calm; there is no need to be afraid of a sudden disaster or to worry when calamity strikes the wicked, For the Eternal is always there to protect you. He will safeguard your each and every step.  THANKS, FATHER, FOR SAFEGUARDING MY STEPS AND ORDERING THE COURSE OF MY LIFE.  YOU ARE PROTECTING ME IN EVERY WAY–MY SPIRITUAL, PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL, FINANCIAL, RELATIONAL WELL-BEING ARE LOCKED IN THE VAULT OF YOUR WORD, WHICH YOU WATCH OVER TO PERFORM!  FOR THIS REASON, I’M NOT GOING TO LIE IN BED TORMENTED IN MY THOUGHTS.  IN JESUS’ NAME, I’LL JOIN HIM IN A SOUND SLEEP IN THE HOLD OF THE SHIP.  OTHERS MAY BE PULLING THEIR HAIR OUT IN FEAR, BUT I WON’T BE PARTICIPATING IN THEIR DRAMA!

Proverbs 29:25 If you fear other people, you are walking into a dangerous trap; but if you trust in the Eternal, you will be safe.  THANK YOU, FATHER, FOR DELIVERING ME FOREVER FROM THE FEAR AND THE ADDICTION OF APPROVAL BY MAN.  I AM SET UP FOR SAFETY AND SECURITY BECAUSE I ALLOW NO ONE TO SQUEEZE ME INTO HIS MOLD.  I AM TRANSFORMED EVERY DAY, ALL OVER AGAIN, BECAUSE I RENEW MY MIND TO WHAT YOUR WORD HAS SPOKEN.

Proverbs 31:25 Clothed in strength and dignity, with nothing to fear,she smiles when she thinks about the future.  THANK YOU FATHER, THAT JUST LIKE THE PROVERBS 31 WOMAN, I MODEL STRENGTH AND DIGNITY AND THEY FIT ME LIKE A BEAUTIFUL, TAILORED GARMENT.  IF THE DEVIL WANTS TO MAKE ME ERUPT INTO LAUGHTER, LET HIM THREATEN TO MAKE MY FUTURE DARK AND BLEAK!  I’M NOT AFRAID OF GETTING OLD AND HELPLESS BECAUSE YOU’RE KEEPING ME STRONG.

Isaiah 35:4 Tell those who worry, the anxious and fearful,“Take strength; have courage! There’s nothing to fear. Look, here—your God! Right here is your God! The balance is shifting; God will right all wrongs. None other than God will give you success. He is coming to make you safe.”  THANK YOU FATHER, NOT ONLY FOR REASSURING ME OF MY OWN SAFETY AND FAVOR, BUT FOR ALSO GIVING ME A BOLDNESS TO DELIVER THAT SAME MESSAGE TO OTHERS.  YOU REALLY ARE RIGHTING ALL WRONGS AND TURNING AROUND SEEMINGLY IMPOSSIBLE SITUATIONS, AND I’M GOING TO TELL OTHERS JUST HOW POWERFULLY YOU ARE WORKING.

Isaiah 54:4-5 Don’t be afraid, for there is no one to shame you. Don’t fear humiliation, for there is no one to disgrace you. The shame of your younger years and the sorrow of your widowhood are over. You’ll forget those days as if they never happened. Because the One who made you will be your husband; the One called Commander of heavenly armies will set you right again, the Holy One of Israel. It’s not for nothing that He is called “God of all the earth.”  THANK YOU, JESUS, FOR BREAKING THE CHAINS OF MY PAST FROM OFF MY LIFE ONCE AND FOR ALL.  ALTHOUGH I’LL NEVER BE PROUD OF WRONG DECISIONS I MADE, NEITHER WILL I LET THEM CRIPPLE ME OR DWARF MY TESTIMONY.  YOU ARE SETTING ME UP AS THE COMEBACK KID–AN ENCOURAGING, LIBERATING STORY THAT WILL HAVE OTHERS RUNNING TO YOU FOR DELIVERANCE, TOO.  NO ONE CAN USE MY PAST TO HOLD ME DOWN OR LIMIT WHAT I CAN DO, BECAUSE MY FREEDOM AND STRENGTH ARE IN YOU.  YOU ARE MY COVERING, YOU ARE THE ONE ENDORSING ME TO MOVE ON WITH MY LIFE–FORGIVEN, FREE, AND FULL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.  SHAME, YOU ARE NO LONGER MY LAST NAME BECAUSE I HAVE MARRIED THE ONE WHO BREAKS YOUR SOUL TIE TO ME!

Jeremiah 17:8 He is like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots beside the stream.  It does not fear the heat or even drought. Its leaves stay green and its fruit is dependable, no matter what it faces.  THANK YOU FATHER, FOR BREAKING THE FEAR OF LACK FROM OFF MY LIFE.  EVEN IN TIMES OF DROUGHT, MY ROOTS ARE SUNK DEEP TO WHERE YOU ARE KEEPING ME ALIVE, WELL, AND DEFYING ALL ODDS TO BEAR FRUIT.

Jeremiah 51:46 Do not lose heart or give in to fear and panic when the rumors start to fly in the land.Year after year, the rumors will come—rumors of violence reports of one ruler warring against another.  THANK YOU, LORD,  FOR WIPING OUT THE FEAR OF CURRENT EVENTS FROM MY MIND.  I’M NOT GLUED TO THE TUBE, DRAWN INTO THE NONSTOP NEWS NETWORKS WITH THEIR NEGATIVITY; INSTEAD, I LOOK UP AND REJOICE, BECAUSE THE SIGNS INDICATE I’LL SEE YOU VERY SOON!  I SUBMIT MYSELF TO THE PROTECTION, AUTHORITY, AND BOUNDARIES OF MY FATHER, I RESIST THE DEVIL AND ALL THIS ALLURING TEMPTATIONS TO BE GRIPPED WITH FEAR, AND IN JESUS’ NAME, I COMMAND HIM TO FLEE FROM ME.

Matthew 17:7-8 But Jesus—who was, by this time, used to His disciples being plagued by fear—touched them. Jesus: Get up. Don’t be afraid. And when the disciples got up, they saw they were alone with their Lord. THANK YOU, JESUS, THAT BECAUSE YOU CAME TO EARTH TO IDENTIFY WITH COMMON MANKIND, YOU’RE PATIENT WITH MY HAVING TO BE RESCUED FROM TIME TO TIME OUT OF THE GRIP OF FEAR.  WHEN YOU SEE ME ABOUT TO REVERT BACK INTO THE MODE OF FEAR AND DISTRUST, I THANK YOU FOR TOUCHING ME AND REMINDING ME ALL OVER AGAIN THAT IT’S OK…IT’S JUST YOU AND ME.

Luke 8:47 The woman now realized her secret was going to come out sooner or later, so she stepped out of the crowd, shaking with fear, and she fell down in front of Jesus. Then she told her story in front of everyone—why she touched Him, what happened as a result.  THANK YOU, JESUS, FOR MAKING ME BOLD AND NOT FEARFUL CONCERNING MY TESTIMONY OF DELIVERANCE.  I CAN SHARE MY STORY WITH OTHERS, TOTALLY NOT BOUND BY THEIR OPINIONS OR JUDGMENTS.  BECAUSE YOU’RE PERFECTING THAT WHICH CONCERNS ME, I NEED NO ONE’S APPROVAL BUT YOURS…AND YET, WHEN PEOPLE FIND OUT HOW YOU’VE SAVED, HEALED, AND SET ME  FREE, MY STORY PROVES TO HAVE A HAPPY ENDING THAT BRINGS YOU GLORY AND BRINGS OTHERS HOPE.

Luke 12:7-8 Since you are so much more precious to God than a thousand flocks of sparrows, and since God knows you in every detail—down to the number of hairs on your head at this moment—you can be secure and unafraid of any person, and you have nothing to fear from God either. That’s why I keep telling you not to be intimidated.  THANK YOU FATHER, FOR BREAKING THE SPIRIT OF COWARDICE AND INTIMIDATION OFF MY LIFE, AS WELL AS THE FEAR OF LACK.  YOU ARE EL SHADDAI, MORE THAN ENOUGH.  I REVERENCE YOU, BUT I DON’T DREAD YOU!  TODAY IS YET ANOTHER CHANCE TO WITNESS YOU AT WORK ON ME AND IN ME, TWEAKING THIS WORK IN PROGRESS AND CONFORMING ME TO THE IMAGE OF YOUR SON.

John 14:27 My peace is the legacy I leave to you. I don’t give gifts like those of this world. Do not let your heart be troubled or fearful.  JESUS, THANK YOU FOR LEAVING ME THE LEGACY OF PEACE.  IT WILL NOT DIE WITH ME, BUT I WILL NURTURE IT AND PASS IT ON TO THOSE WHO FOLLOW ME.  IT IS MY BIRTHRIGHT AS A CHILD OF GOD, AND I RECEIVE IT WITH GREAT JOY, RELIEF, GRATITUDE AND PRAISE.  THE BLOOD OF JESUS IS THE BOUNDARY AROUND MY LIFE THAT REINS IN PEACE.  MY ABILITY TO RETAIN MY PEACE AMID CHAOS IS YET ANOTHER WITNESS TO A LOST WORLD THAT YOU ARE CHANGING ME…AND THAT YOUR HOPE CAN CHANGE THEM, TOO.  TAKE THIS SITUATION I AM FACING IT AND MAKE ME SHINE FOR YOU, AS I DISPLAY GREAT TRUST IN SPITE OF WHAT SCARES ME.

Romans 8:15 You see, you have not received a spirit that returns you to slavery, so you have nothing to fear. The Spirit you have received adopts you and welcomes you into God’s own family. That’s why we call out to Him, “Abba! Father!” as we would address a loving daddy.  THANK YOU, FATHER, FOR THIS FATHER-AND-CHERISHED CHILD RELATIONSHIP WITH YOU.  I’LL NEVER GO BACK INTO SLAVERY, BECAUSE I’M NOW ONE OF YOUR FAMILY.  YOU DON’T SHOO ME OUT OF YOUR PRESENCE, BUT INSTEAD, YOU ARE TENDER AND LOVING AND INVITE ME TO CALL YOU MY DADDY.  YOU INVITE ME TO BE HELD AND SPOKEN RIGHT WORDS OVER.  SO SINCE YOU ARE GLAD TO RECEIVE ME THE SAME AS IF I WERE NATURAL-BORN, I CHOOSE TO STICK CLOSE TO YOU AND NOT LET YOU OUT OF MY SIGHT.  I’M SAFE RIGHT HERE WITH YOU, AND NO THREAT OF SICKNESS, DEATH, LOSS, DEFEAT–NOT EVEN THE TAUNTS OF THE ENEMY WHO’D PULL ME BACK INTO SLAVERY IF HE COULD–CAN EVER PLUCK ME OUT OF YOUR HAND!  SO THERE.  I AM FIRMLY IN YOUR GRIP AND I WILL FEAR NO EVIL!

 

Would you like a printable copy of today’s devotional?  Click here for a pdf version! Healing Confessions that Shatter the Spirit of Fear

That Your Prayers Be Not Hindered

praying handsWives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives,  when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.  Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.  For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.   Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.  Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.  For,“Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.  They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it.  For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”  — 1 Peter 3:1-12

 

I want to interject early on, that there is a difference between medical conditions which trigger certain behaviors, and spiritual conditions.  When someone is (or should be) under medical treatment and/or medications for such conditions, I would never advise you to stop treatment or counseling.  In fact, I beg of you to get checked out if you suspect you’re dealing with bipolar, depression, PTSD, or any other mental health issue that might make it easy for you to mistreat others.  The difference is, medication can help with a physical/mental condition–there is no shame in needing it–but if your problem is spiritual, you cannot medicate away a spiritual problem!  May all of us transparent with ourselves enough to know when sin is the root cause of our bad behavior–and may we aggressively do the work to get it out of our lives.

I also want to note that, this article can’t possibly take into account every single home’s unique issues.  I do want to, however, talk about just a few of them.  If these don’t touch on the particular problems, causes, and conditions in your own home, just know that I’m trying to touch a small area in a very broad issue.  Please, if you’re having problems, don’t just take my small blog post as an all-inclusive approach to dealing with them.  Consult with a qualified marriage counselor, pastor, mental health advisor, someone who can get into the finer points of your particular crisis.

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It’s not often that I start a devotional out with such a long passage of Scripture, but to condense this very important passage would not do any justice to the teaching topic I’m addressing this morning:  cruelty in the home, most notably, spousal abuse.

There aren’t many instances in Scripture where spousal abuse is recorded; yet, treating one’s family well–including (and especially) the husband or wife–is a recurring theme throughout the Scriptures.  It’s important to God. Being kind to one’s mate should be a given, right?  Yes, it should be.  There are some things God shouldn’t have to come right out and get elementary about, and yet…  He had to spell out that we not have sex with animals, with our parents/kids/near kin, etc.  If you think that mankind is inherently good, well, think again.  The human heart, without God shaping it and molding it, is desperately wicked.  When mapping out a plan for godly living, yes, He got very specific.  He knew there would be a few delinquents in the bunch who might come back later and say, “Well, no one ever told ME that a person’s not supposed to do that!”

A Double Life

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.  Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:  For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.  James 1:8, 19-20

You cannot be cruel in your home and it not affect your life outside your home.  I knew of a man once whom everyone in the general public loved.  He was very charismatic, very accommodating to others.  He was the “open doors, help little old ladies across the street” kind of guy.  He was well respected in the business world and in the political realm; yet there was an elephant in the room.  When he went home at night, he left the nice-man suit in his car in the garage, and put on the monster costume.  He was a verbal abuser to his entire family, but especially to his wife.  It would eventually come out that on occasions he got physical with her, too.  She remained with him until her children were grown, reasoning within herself that it was ok, so long as he didn’t physically harm the kids.  Then, one day she and his children were well out of harm’s way, and everyone was shocked.  They couldn’t figure out what on earth would break up such a happy home.  Then, slowly, the stories begin to emerge about what was actually going on in that home.  The wife would confide, the kids would confide; eventually, what was such a carefully-guarded secret was all over the place.

If that weren’t a sad enough note to end this little story on, the man didn’t just go back to business-as-usual in his outside life.  With no one at home to take his frustrations out on, the monster costume was occasionally worn to work and out in the community under his clothes.  His stellar reputation went south, and though he was a man of means, he lost everything of true value.  Eventually even his financial prosperity proved to be tainted by the cruelty in his heart.

Abuse Isn’t Always Covert

Flip the situation and I’ll tell you of another.  I used to know a married couple that I absolutely hated running into.  They were friends of ours, and I didn’t dislike them, per se.  I was just always left deeply uncomfortable by the way the wife continually, and in every conversation, insulted her husband to us…right in front of him!  She would go on and on about foolish choices he made, and how if he’d only have listened to her, he wouldn’t have done them…or how he always did this wrong, or always failed in that area.  Her whole discussion would always seem to center on how superior she was to him in every way.  I could tell this man was resentful and deeply ashamed of what she was doing, and yet, the climate never seemed to change.  They had a rocky, on-again, off-again relationship.  It always felt good whenever we were able to finagle ourselves away from them!  Was that spousal abuse?  It absolutely was!

No Place for Abuse in a Christian Home!

Why am I sharing this in a devotional?  Because I see it, shamefully so, in Christian homes and not just in the homes of nonbelievers.  And yes, those stories abound as well of women who are abusers in the home.  Their outcomes are no better than this man’s.  And this situation I’ve shared with you is a secular story.  You’re seeing ones like it on the news nearly daily now.  There are countless big-time athletes and actors and celebrities who’ve lost their status because their abusive characters outside the workplace cause their employers to view them as a public relations risk.  No one wants to be associated with a bully or a thug, or even a jerk!  Even some of the best-looking actors in Hollywood have completely lost their heartthrob status when it came out that they were abusers of their spouses and families.

I wonder–knowing what an outspoken man Peter was–how and when he eventually came to the place in his walk with God where these teachings had lodged within his own heart!  Peter–the same man who wrote the above passage is the same hot-head who cut off the high priest’s servant’s ear in the Garden of Gethsemane.  He’s the same fellow who denied Jesus three times, and other major debacles of character.  Yet, he apparently at least eventually got the revelation that God values self-control in a man (and a woman).  Jesus even showed up at his house at one point to heal Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever, and she rose up afterwards and ministered to them.  A man who has relationship issues wouldn’t call Jesus to his home to heal one of his in-laws!  He’d probably do anything that he could to keep Jesus from entering his home, for fear that Jesus would sense a spirit of offense there.  Peter’s writings here would indicate that, at least in time, he understood the necessity of one’s horizontal relationships’ being in harmony to positively open up the VERTICAL relationship with God.

I’m not writing this devotional to try to shame men into becoming walked-on wimps, and I’m not writing it to tell women that they have no voice and should just be door mats to their husbands.  I’m writing it to urge you to get your houses in order…because how you treat your family matters to God.  You will be judged for it.  The fruitfulness of your hopes, dreams, and prayers depends on it, too.  If you don’t particularly like being successful, being thought well of, being blessed, being whole in mind and body, then just ignore everything I’ve said…BUT!  If you do want to have a blessed, prosperous life where everything doesn’t go to pieces, then you need to respect the conditions for blessing that God has set forth in His Word.

Common Excuses We Use Not to Change

  1.  It’s just the way I am.  I inherited this temper.  So lame!  This is the laziest excuse to let one’s emotions run the show.  You are right about one thing…without God’s help, you really can’t change.  And if you inherited a short fuse, stop bragging about it!  It’s not something to be proud of.  If you have anger issues or a personality trait that is endangering the welfare of your family, be man or woman enough to admit it before God and before a qualified marriage counselor.  Don’t wait until the damage is beyond repair.  You may not feel that bad about it now, but at some point in time, you will reap some painful things for the pain you inflict on others.
  2. It’s his/her fault that I lose it.  My spouse sets me off with that mouth!  While it’s true, our spouses can lend to the overall problem, it is still up to you to control your own spirit!  Temporarily distance yourself if you have to, rather than engaging so heatedly into discussions that you wind up saying and doing regretful things.  Back off.  Take a walk.  Better yet, pray and get into God’s Word.  Take the initiative to arrange for pastoral and qualified family counseling if you have these types of issues.  Whatever you do, don’t let that volcano of hate and anger spew into your home!
  3. He/she knows I really don’t mean it.  We always cool off eventually.  I can promise you this:  when you say hurtful things to your children or spouse, they play over and over like a broken record long after the argument is over.  Don’t be the cause of your family having to deal with the sin of unforgiveness through repeated abuse on your part!  Nothing good can come of you causing your spouse and kids to develop hard, callous hearts.  It will tell on you, eventually.
  4. As long as no one at work, church, school, or our community knows we have these problems, it should all work out ok.  You see, that’s the lie Satan plants to keep us satisfied that we still have it all under control.  Remember, God’s opinion ultimately is the most important, and if you are disobeying His guidelines for the way you treat others, you are sinning, PERIOD.  Just because no one else seems to be observing the problem, doesn’t mean that they aren’t already picking up on the bad vibes.  People aren’t that stupid, friend!  Your spouse and children have body language and many other non-verbal means of communicating to the world that you are not treating them well, even when they are trying to hide their embarrassing secret.
  5. I came from an abusive background and I didn’t turn out so bad. I’m not nearly as bad as my dad/mom.  Are you kidding?  The very fact that your own family is repeating the same nightmare in another generation is a serious problem.  What if your children’s relationships turn out to be even worse than your parents’, just because you failed to deal with it in your own life?  Yes, it’s serious.  Don’t grade yourself on a curve against others who you perceive are/were worse than you are.  Examine your life against God’s standard in His Word, and make whatever changes you need to make to live a life pleasing to Him!  Proverbs says that when a person’s ways please the the Lord, He makes even that person’s enemies to be at peace with him/her.  Righteousness and a truly right heart will positively, even miraculously, affect your ability to get along well with others.  It is truth.
  6. I don’t feel well.  My health issues make me moody and my family knows it.  Yes, they certainly do know it, and they resent being the brunt of your frustration.  And if you want their prayers, love, understanding, and support, you will try harder not to let your personal pain affect your treatment of them.  The best way to have someone actually on your side is not to turn him or her into an enemy by being an ogre!
  7. I’m just talking mean to him/her.  Since I’m not name-calling or using foul language, it’s not really verbal/emotional abuse.  Baloney, friend.  You are not that deceived!  If the way you are speaking and behaving is causing abnormal fears, manipulation, torment, sadness, depression, suicidal thoughts, resentment, self-hatred, depreciation, insults, you are not behaving like Jesus!  Yes, sometimes we have to address issues in our homes.  Things need discussed, resolved, debated, corrected, at times changed for the better of everyone involved.  Sometimes we must be iron sharpening iron…you may be instrumental in discipline in your home, but you are not called to be a verbal axe-wielder in your home.  You can have even serious, somber, firm discussions with others without stepping into a spirit of strife.  Weigh every action and word against how Jesus would handle what you’re handling, and if you are emotionally scarring another person, you need to stop it, NOW.

Initiating Change Through Prayer and Honest Self-Examination

There’s no way I can possibly cram all the helpful elements to enhancing our spousal relationships into this little blog post, but what I will do is this:  I have included a couple of prayers for spouses whose anger issues are jeopardizing their marriages.  I am proposing not anger management, but anger crucifixion!  It’s time to take these issues to the cross, once and for all.

I do want to say this, as we end on a positive note:  today is a new day.  We can repent and apologize for the sins of our past, and start from this day forward to make better choices. I so respect Larry and Tiz Huch, television ministers, for their very transparent testimony of how God restored their marriage after years of abusive behavior.  We need to see more testimonies like theirs of couples who’ve overcome the past, forgiven, and gone on to have happy marriages.  I want you to know that there is hope for you too–but you must be willing to fight the real enemy, the devil, for it!  God is ready to meet you right where you are, and His grace is sufficient.

Husbands“Heavenly Father, I feel the pressure on every side to be in charge.  The hardest time I have holding it together is when I come home, because that’s where I want most to be able to be myself.  But Lord, I don’t like the man I see myself become when I’m around my family.  Forgive me for the horrible way I have let my anger leech into my homelife.  As the spiritual leader of our home, it says that I have spiritual issues of my own which need dealt with.  Lord, I don’t want to damage my children for future relationships!  I don’t want my wife to secretly despise me.  The truth is, I don’t know how to change and without Your help, I can’t change.  I ask You, in Jesus’ name, to break off any generational curses of parental and spousal abuse from my bloodline now.  Sever all negative ties between my family history and my own immediate family now.  If there is abuse in our lineage, let my family be the generation in which it is stopped.  Lord, shine the light of Your Word into my spirit man.  Chase the wickedness out of the corners of my soul where it loves to hide.  Father, if there is an indwelling of any unclean spirit in me or on me which influences me to verbally, emotionally, or physically abuse my wife and children, I resist it now.  I submit myself to You because Your Word says that if I will humble myself, submit to you, and resist the devil, he MUST flee from me!  Drive out every evil spirit that influences me to harm others and to harm myself.  Fill me up to overflowing with Your Holy Spirit and help me to recognize all open doors to evil in my life.  I go behind Your revelation of these things and I shut them, one by one.  In Jesus’ name, may every legal access the devil has to our home be deadbolted shut now and forevermore.  Father, as I repent and submit myself to Your Word, I will also repent to and before my family for the wrong things I have said and done to them.  Your Word says that anger rests in the bosom of fools.  I don’t want to be a fool.  I want to love my family the way You do, and to protect my spouse the way Christ shields and covers His Church.  If I cannot see substantial changes coming, I will be man enough to initiate marital counseling.  I will not hide our problems behind the guise of a Christian home, but I will get help and I will stop the abuse from perpetuating to another generation.  Help me to love like You love.  Thank You for forgiving me and extending Your grace and mercy over our situation now.”

Wives –  “Heavenly Father, You have heard my silent cries for help, and I know that it is not Your plan for my family to be harboring this ugly secret.  Verbal and physical abuse are not attributes of the Spirit-filled!  These ugly manifestations have no place in our home.  I look to You for wisdom to be able to be the thermostat of our home.  While it is not right for my husband to abuse me, I know that I need to recognize “triggers” that provoke outbursts.  I can’t always prevent bad moods and temper flares from occurring, but You can enable me to divert certain situations before they even occur.  Lord, forgive me for times when I nag or boss or belittle my husband.  Forgive me for sometimes not resisting the urge to push his buttons by inserting a little dig or subtle insult into discussions.  While it is wrong for him to mistreat me, it is equally wrong for me to dare him to do so.  I will set a watch upon the words of my mouth.  I will learn to give soft answers that turn away wrath, and I will set in motion a spiritual mood change in our home through praise and worship, thanksgiving, prayer, reading and speaking Your Word aloud, and through the cleansing of evil spirits from my household in intercession!  Help me to proactive in this area.  Help me to build up my husband’s spirit man and not to tear him down.  I repent of every time I have emasculated him through open insults, rebellion, and belittling him in front of others–especially our children.  Help me to have new-found respect for him, and help me to forgive.  Oh, Lord, how I need Your help there!  Cause my moods to come into harmony in ways that affect his moods more positively.  Your Word says that my lifestyle has the power to win him over to You just by the witness I live before him!  No amount of preachiness or nagging could ever influence him like seeing Your love pour out of me.  Help me to identify characteristics in my personality which might cause arguments (complaining, griping, negative words, insults, sarcasm, bossiness), and to put these things on the altar for good!  Make me that kind of woman, Father, so full of Your Holy Spirit that he cannot resist the pull toward You.  I will apologize to him for my shortcomings, and I will take the high road to reconcile whenever we have disagreements.  I will not assume that he can read my mind!  If I have concerns, I will speak gently to him about them and allow Your Holy Spirit to convict him in those areas.  Lord, I ask You in Jesus’ name to break generational curses that come into our family from my side of the bloodline.  Whether emotional disorders, addictions, abuse or being enslaved by those who abuse, or any other trap of Satan to perpetuate damage into our children, I stop it now by submitting our heritage to You!    Doors that You have made me responsible to shut, I will close.  I will set no wicked thing before my eyes, and I will not entertain the foolish advice of a broken world on how to conduct my household affairs!  I look to You, O God, and I pray that, should our marriage require counseling, that You will pair my husband and me with the right counselor(s) who can help us to heal and move forward.  And please, if remaining in our home is endangering the safety and well-being of myself and our children–if You see that my spouse is unwilling to be helped and will go on harming us–give me the discernment and courage to know when and where to flee for protection.  In Jesus’ name I ask, Amen!”

 

Secondhand Smoke

smokeCan fire be carried in the bosom without burning one’s clothes?  (Proverbs 6:27 NRSV)

I think I just now realized that the expression “hot under the collar” came from this verse of Proverbs!  Oh the challenges we face in the Twenty-First Century Church, with our 24/7 news and social media.  We have become absolutely saturated with information until it’s coming out our ears.  The Word said it would be this way in the end times…Daniel’s age-old prophecy declared that knowledge would increase.  Interesting, isn’t it, that only knowledge seems to have increased.  Our world is just as unwise as it ever was; in fact, we’ve gotten pretty stupid to have become so smart.

As believers, we must guard our souls from toxic overload, truly.  At the time Ecclesiastes was penned, the only sources of information were books (well, scrolls and tablets to be more precise) and direct word of mouth.  Yet this totally relevant-to-our-day word was given to us all those centuries ago: The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one shepherd. Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them.  Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.  (Ecclesiastes 12:11-12 NIV)  Imagine the author’s awe had he a glimpse into the age of technology!  Now, it can be fittingly added, “of being bombarded with information true and false, there is no end…and overexposure is exhausting and unhealthy!”

A couple of decades back, I remember Nettie Neace teaching in Sunday School how that the Lord had delivered her from an addiction to watching the news.  Just a young adult at the time, I couldn’t really grasp the idea of keeping news channels on all day long; but that was before the Internet!  Now all we have to do is click open our social media just to say hello to friends and family, and it’s on!  Why, we can rabbit-trail all day long, following links to a million different opinions about our world’s debauched condition.  We can shake our heads in disapproval, rant a while, and then click “share!”  It goes on and on and on, and to what end?  At the end of the day, we probably haven’t actually prayed about the people and conditions who’ve shocked us so…but we sure have been drawn in by the stories and pictures!

God spoke the words “secondhand smoke” into my spirit this morning as I pondered these things.  Just as you can become sick from breathing someone else’s cigarette smoke, you can also become physically and spiritually sick from taking in the sinful, appalling stories about others’ lifestyles.   Are you absorbing the toxins just because you won’t distance yourself from what’s polluting your soul?  Many times we don’t even realize we’re doing it…if you’ve lived with a smoker or worked in a place where you have to breathe it all day, you can begin to tune it out to where you don’t even notice it anymore.  Your lungs do, however.  When we make it a daily routine to tune in to the next episode of “As the World Churns,” we are drawing fire into our bosom; we are filling our lungs with the fumes of sin.  Proverbs warns that it will burn us!  In our own covert ways, the world’s reveling can even become a form of entertainment as we take it all in.  It may not have immediate effects, but when you allow yourself to become glued to screen, letting commentary anger you and raise your blood pressure, it is going to do cumulative damage.  I made a comparison yesterday on my Facebook status that all of this is like poking your finger in your eye, yelling “ouch!” and then poking your finger right back in your eye again!  We can make ourselves victims of these whether our views lean to the left or lean to the right–there are plenty of ploys to anger us by “the other side” or to, as my grandma would say, “get our goat!”  And there are people who sure know how to push our buttons.  We can walk right into the smoke and hang out there, or we can recognize what it’s doing to us and walk away.

Does this mean we are to be like ostriches with our heads in the sand?  No, not at all.  We need to advocate and practice balance.  Jesus told His disciples to watch and pray, lest they enter into temptation.  We should limit our time around tv, newspapers, and social media to reasonable amounts.  What you read, stop and pray about it before just going on to another and another.  The true litmus test of whether it’s worthy of your attention is this:  1.  Does it move you to pray and intercede, or does it instead cause you to rant and rave?  2. Does it have the ability to enrich your life in any way, or is it just more “fluff?”  3.  Does it rob you of peace, or does it instead give you peace?  4.  Do you read it because you are seeking answers, or do you read it because you are addicted to the rush of another shock?   5.  Does knowing about it in any way stand to benefit you?  6.  Would Jesus post it to His status if He had a social media account?  Would He share, forward, bookmark, comment on, or consider it to be worth sacrificing time spent doing good?  7.  Can you actually do anything about what you’re watching, or are you just another spectator with an opinion?

I need work, too.  I’m not that into television, but I can easily get drawn into news stories online.  I have a big heart, I can come pretty unglued by all the sinful, unjust, hateful things going on.  Most of them don’t put me in a prayerful state, I must confess.  They depress me, discourage me, disillusion me.  If that’s all I fill my soul with all day long, how can I do anything more than wallow in misery?  I have to apply the Word to what I see, and pray for the people who are so full of hurt and deception; but I also have to know when I’ve ventured beyond praying and now I’m just loitering.  The Apostle Paul gave us a great guideline to follow about what we breathe in, and there’s nothing smoggy, smoky, fumey, stinky, or dirty in a bit of it:  Brothers and sisters, think about the things that are good and worthy of praise. Think about the things that are true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected.”  (Philippians 4:8 NCV)  If ever there were a time we need to apply some First Century godly wisdom, it’s now.