A Promise of Hope for the Weary

God deals with sin. But through His Covenant of Grace, we find mercy, healing, redemption and restoration. The LORD is mighty to overcome the darkness…and He is faithful to transform the lost years into something beautiful and useful for His Kingdom.

There is ALWAYS hope when we surrender our heart and fix our eyes on Him…

Jeremiah 31:25
I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. Behold, the new has come!

Psalm 103:5
Who satisfies your years with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.

Matthew 5:6
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Matthew 11:28
Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

John 4:14
But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a fount of water springing up to eternal life.

Psalm 107:9
For He has satisfied the thirsty soul, And the hungry soul He has filled with what is good.

Isaiah 40:29
He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power.

Isaiah 43:19
Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert.

The Difference Between Secular & Biblical Counseling

There are a plethora of self-help books available offering various theories and approaches to dealing with the rooted issues of negative emotions and behaviors. Modern day psychology is valuable in understanding the soul (mind, emotions, and will). This is the area that gets sick.

The rooted systems in our life can make our souls extremely sick. A psychology approach can diagnose the problem and offer solution. However, since the solution offered is rooted in humanism and, therefore, manmade, there is no true long term healing that can occur. At best it can help change behavior, and give you tools for self-discipline, or positive thinking. That is not freedom.

There is no lasting victory because it does not deal with sin. It does not allow for the blood of Christ to cleanse us and change us. It merely puts a band-aid over symptoms. It may address anxiety, depression, outward manifestations and symptoms of deeper issues – but often the first solution offered is medication and never gets to the root. So people are not getting the true healing they are seeking.

As Christians, we know that only God has the power to heal us from the inside out and set us free. That is true victory. He doesn’t just change behaviors; He transforms, renews, restores, redeems and breaks the chains of bondage. Psalm 147:3 says “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Isaiah also tells us that God is the “Wonderful Counselor.” John 14:6 says “the Holy Spirit is the Counselor.” Therefore, true freedom is found only by applying biblical truths to the wounds of our heart. Jesus is the balm of Gilead. He is the ointment that heals the wounds of God’s hurting children.

Barriers To Forgiveness

A huge barrier to forgiving others is the misconception about, forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration. Many people believe that by forgiving they will continue to live as doormats allowing sinful behavior when nothing has changed. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Forgiveness focuses on the offense. It only involves one person and has nothing to do with what the other person chooses to do. Reconciliation focuses on the relationship. It requires two people engaged in the process.

Forgiveness is the choice to release the offender. Reconciliation is the choice to rejoin the offender. It’s being brought back into a relationship where there has been a wall of separation erected. Restoration is the process that makes that possible. Restoration of a relationship takes far more than forgiveness. It requires confession, repentance, and a strong commitment on both sides to work on the relationship and rebuild trust. And it often takes a much longer time.

For example, if a loved is engaged in drugs, alcohol, abuse or some other harmful behavior they may ask us to forgive them. Of course, God’s heart is always that we forgive but if they ask that we go back to the way it was the answer is a resounding NO! That’s not what we do at all. Love holds people accountable. Love protects. We do not have to allow harmful behavior that hurt us and our families. Thus, there may be extremely toxic, unhealthy people who may need to be removed from our lives.

An example of this would be a relative who sexually molested us as a child. We can forgive them as God has called us to but having a relationship with them may endanger ourselves and others. So forgiveness does not mean we have to have any kind of relationship with the offender ever again. Forgiveness is a choice. It’s a willful act of obedience that blesses the heart of our Father in Heaven and sets us free.

When Helping Is Hurting

When someone is caught up in the throes of addiction, they are in bondage. They have lost the ability to stop using altogether. Family members of loved ones trapped in the cycle and the roller coaster of addiction do not comprehend the insanity of addiction. They honestly believe that if their loved one cared about their family, they would stop.  Since they don’t understand the dynamics of addiction they think they can shame, guilt, manipulate, threaten or bribe someone into quitting.  What they don’t understand is that you cannot rationalize addiction. People will go insane trying to get their loved ones to stop using often caring more about the addict’s life and responsibilities than they do, and become fixated on trying to fix, change, manage and control the addicted person’s behavior. And because they think they can love someone enough for them to stop using, they often enable the bad behavior by not allowing people to suffer the consequences of their poor choices that hurt them and those around them. Thus without realizing it, they reinforce the bad behavior and offer the person in bondage no incentive to change or seek help. This allows the addiction to continue and hinders “the bottom” necessary for getting to a sweet place of brokenness and surrender required for healing and breaking free from the bondage of addiction.

Doesn’t the Bible tell us to help the needy? Yes, but it also tells us to be wise. Often our helping is actually hurting. But how do we know the difference?  Helping is doing something for someone else that they are not capable of doing for themselves.  Enabling is doing things for someone else that they can and should be doing for themselves. Enabling encourages and helps the addict to stay in addiction.

On the surface, the “enabler’ may appear to be doing all the right things and doing good things to stop the user from destroying themselves, but often the enabler needs as much help as the addicted person. The only difference is that one behavior looks very good on the surface while the other not so good. The truth is they both need help.

Make no mistake about it! Allowing someone to continue in their addiction without making them accountable for their destructive behavior is enabling, it’s destructive, and must be addressed. Because it hurts everyone involved and cosigns with the enemy to destroy families, relationships and separates us from God. Both sides need to take responsibility and be accountable for their side of the fence. What, they both have in common is an inner woundedness. There is a deeper issue causing the addiction and the enabling. The difference is that it’s harder for the enabler to see their need for help because the rooted issues do not manifest in seemingly negative behaviors shunned by the Church and society but are instead applauded as selfless acts of mercy and love. Enabling allows the addict and enabler to stay in bondage, preventing them from seeing their need for help, and the destructive cycle will continue for a lifetime without intervention.

“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1)

“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness but rather expose them.” (Ephesians 5:11)

 

Are You Fear Based?

Fear is a normal strong emotional reaction to impending danger—whether real or imagined, rational or irrational, normal or abnormal. It was designed by God. However, living with a fear-based mentality or with a spirit of fear is not from God.

If you grew up in a home where fear reigned, and you didn’t experience love, safety, and security, you might have easily developed a fear-based mentality. This abnormal fear cripples and stunts any personal growth or aspirations. It prevents a person from trying to leave a bad situation, even an abusive one. It can also prevent us from seeking help for fear of what will be uprooted. Fear can also be the driving emotion behind anger. This is bondage, and we need to be set free.

God’s Word tells us that “perfect love cast out all fear” (1 John 4:18). It makes sense, then, that if we are love deficient we are fear-based. The solution is to get God’s love into us. As easy as this may seem, for those who have been crippled in their ability to love and be loved because of the wounds of the past, it is extremely difficult. Only the truth of God’s love can penetrate the hardest of hearts. We can overcome fear through faith in a loving God.

Godly Sorrow Brings True Change

Repeated apologies, promises never to do it again, remorse, tears, pleading for another chance are things repeat abusers say to those they hurt. Whether they are causing harm through emotional or physical abuse, committing adultery, being deceptive, lying, cheating, or are engaged in other destructive behaviors such as addiction, they may genuinely feel bad when exposed and confronted and offer appeasement for the moment, but nothing changes.

The behavior continues causing pain and destruction at all levels in families and relationships. That’s because God’s word says there is a huge difference between feeling sorry for what we do and repentance, regretting the wrongs we have committed and committing to change behaviors that bind and hurt others.

Worldly sorrow does not lead to the brokenness and humility needed to get the human heart to a place of genuine Godly sorrow and repentance before a Holy God that produces a desire to change. Worldly sorrow causes the heart to hardened and brings forth death in all areas of our lives, while Godly sorrow softens the heart and brings forth life.

If we continue to allow others to appease us with worldly sorrow, then we must understand that things will remain the same. This is called enabling.

We can’t change another person’s heart but God can. Release them to God, guard your heart, and pray the Lord will orchestrate whatever needs to take place to produce Godly sorrow in someone who is hurting themselves and others. True change begins when you stop co-signing worldly sorrow that leads to death. Stop the cycle! Choose life!

What Are Boundaries?

n the physical world, boundaries are easy to see….. lines, fences, signs, hedges…..these are all physical boundaries. They give the same message….THIS IS WHERE MY PROPERTY BEGINS. As the owner of the property, I am legally responsible for what happens on my property line. Nonowners are not responsible. In the spiritual realm boundaries are just as real only harder to see. Yet they serve the same purpose. They protect ownership.

The word of God says that our bodies are the temple of the living God and His Spirit lives in us. (1 Corinthians 3:16-17) We have been bought at a price…by the precious blood of Jesus. (1 Corinthians 6:20) Therefore, we belong to Jesus first and foremost and our identity is in Him and Him alone. Boundaries merely help guard and protect that relationship and our relationship with self and others.

Boundaries also defend us physically, emotionally and spiritually from intrusive or unwanted dangers. They also make it possible to engage and enjoy a mutually healthy relationship because they protect those relationships by setting the course for mutual respect, consideration, and safety.

Boundaries define us. They define what is me and what is not me. A boundary shows me where I end and someone else begins….leading me to a sense of ownership. Knowing what I own and take responsibility forgives me freedom. If I know where my yard begins and ends, I am free to take responsibility for my life and it opens us options to pursue the person that God created me to be. It also gives me the freedom to allow you to be who God created you to be and take responsibility for your own life. This takes the burden off both you and me.

When you have healthy boundaries you guard yourself against giving more than you should and protect you from others taking more than they should.

Boundaries help bring order to your personal world and the world around you and guard against enmeshment and codependency where you are controlled by others and stripped of your identity in Christ causing great conflict in all areas of your life.

Gods word tell us to……” Above all else guard your heart for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23)

How about you? Do you have healthy boundaries? If not ask the Lord to show you how to put boundaries in place that will guard your heart and help you engage in mutually healthy relationships that are blessed by God.

Emotionally Crippled

We are told in scripture to let go of the past and reach forward to what’s ahead. Sadly, many of God’s children cannot let go or forget the past because they have been wounded and crippled emotionally in one way or another, and the past is affecting their present life. So instead of running the Christian race they limp along the way often overcome with guilt and shame for not “getting it” like other Christians seemingly do.

Our Churches are filled with two types of emotional crippled Christians, The first have open wounds in their hearts that they medicate through negative behaviors such as addiction, immorality, anger etc. They live in denial not realizing their destructive and hurtful behaviors have a root cause.

The second group of wounded believers are also in denial but through sheer will power they have chosen to bury and rise above their past often pouring themselves into ministry, volunteer work, charities, and other busy activities out of a personal need to be needed and valued rather than a healthy heart to serve. By staying busy they don’t have to face themselves and the wounds inside, or learn to receive from others.

These two groups have one important thing in common – they have never accepted the Grace of God. Whatever they do, even spiritually, it never seems to be enough. It’s as if they have to earn God’s acceptance, and yet never feel they are good enough to fully receive it. The first group is overcome with sinful behaviors; while the second group is so busy “being good” they don’t even consider the possibility that they may have festering wounds inside that need healing.

It is only when unresolved areas within are dealt with that the past can truly be put behind and we are able to run the race with endurance and assurance of God’s calling and purpose for our life.

“Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”
Hebrews 12:1-2

Looking for Love

Every human being has an inward need and craving for love. As children our parents were meant to model and fill our need for love often failing because many can only pour out what was poured into them, either healthy love or unhealthy love. If our need for love is not met, we will go through life trying to get our need met through people, places and things apart from God. We will go seeking after the wrong bread and start to feed off that which never satisfies our hunger for love.

Psalm 27 says, “A satisfied man craves the honeycomb, but to a hungry man even the bitter thing seems sweet.” What does this mean in modern language? Bad love is better than no love at all. It’s easy to judge those who stay in abusive or dysfunctional relationships, or the young woman who cruises bars giving her body away freely. How about women, young and old, who dress provocatively and cheapen themselves because they do not know their value and worth? The sad reality is that they are looking for love and acceptance, but like the song says, they are looking for love in all the wrong places. This cheap imitation of love is better than no love at all. Chances are they have never had their need for love met, so they try to get it anyway they know how.

So we keep running to people, places and things hoping they will fill our deepest need for love, but we are left continually unsatisfied. It is not wrong to desire to be loved, God created us for love, but it is desperately wrong for us to think that we can get our deepest need for love in anything other than the love of Christ.

Psalm 107:9 declares, “God satisfies the longing soul. He fills the hungry soul with goodness.” In other words, He will not take away our craving for love; instead He satisfies it the right way. Oswald Chambers wrote, “No love of the natural heart is safe unless the human heart has been satisfied by God first.”

Some of us know these truths in our heads but not in our hearts. If you are having a difficult time letting this truth resonate deeply into your heart and soul, it may be that there are some wounded areas that need to be healed so that you can experience the fullness of His radical love for you.

Do You Want To Be Made Well?

Jesus asked one question to the lame man at the pool of Bethesda in John 5:2 “Do you want to be made well?” This is the pivotal question for every person seeking healing for emotional wounds. The simple truth is that not everyone wants to be made well. They may start off eager with the best intentions, feeling emotionally that they cannot go on another day, but at the end of the day, do not want to be made well, and those who do not want to get well are not going to get well.

Why would I not want to walk in the freedom from the bondage that Christ set me free from? F-E-A-R! Fear of the unknown, fear of rejection, fear of what may be uprooted and exposed, fear of pain, fear that we may have to give up (someone or something); Or we may not be desperate enough yet.

Perhaps we have grown comfortable in our dysfunction and are comfortable in a victim role. We may not have reached a breaking point yet where we face losing someone we love, such as a spouse, or a relationship, maybe even a job, our freedom, and in our minds – we tell ourselves as bad as our current situation is – “it’s not as bad as so and so’s”, or at least we know how to respond, or how to continue to do life and even serve in ministry. However, we are putting on the painted smile while living in a prison in our own mind. But make no mistake…It is never God’s fault. If we do not want to embark on the journey and “be made well” – we won’t get well. Healing is a choice.

If you are in a place where you are desperate enough to get help and want to be made well then I pray that nothing will hinder you from getting the healing that you need and will encounter the Healer in a deep and intimate way.

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