Bitterness

When we are hurt emotionally, the fastest way to stop the emotional bleeding is to put on the band-aid of bitterness. It keeps us from feeling the pain and on guard of being hurt again. It also keeps us from feeling God at work in our lives or His call to do His work.

God’s word warns “Looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springs up and cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.” (Hebrews 12:15) Once bitterness has taken root it causes the wound to fester and grow. Anger, depression, anxiety…all grow out of bitterness.

To get rid of the ban aid of bitterness we need to allow God to come in and clean the wound so that it can heal properly. Because even though it’s been covered up through various coping mechanisms, is still there and it still hurts. Just like a cut that got infected, emotional wounds have to be cleaned so we can get rid of the infection and heal.

Like poison bitterness can slowly kill us. It can harden our hearts to where when God points it out to us we turn our back on what we need to do to get rid of it. The good news is that we have a Savior who can heal our broken hearts and bind up our wounds so that we no longer have to pretend that everything is okay and stop putting on a happy face when we are crying on the inside. Take your hurts to Jesus. He can clean out the wound causing the infection of bitterness that is making you heart sick and preventing you from giving or receiving forgiveness and living in the fullness of His love and grace.

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Examining Your Heart: Do You Harbor A Critical Spirit?

One morning while a couple was having breakfast, the wife looked out her window and saw her neighbor hanging clothes on the line to dry.  She noticed the wash dingy and dirty and said to her husband, “That lady doesn’t know how to wash clothes. I wonder if she uses cheap detergent?” Day after day, she would look out the window and make the same comments, saying she couldn’t believe how the neighbors wore those dirty looking clothes. Then one day, the woman looked out the window, and the clothes were clean and bright. She was surprised and said to her husband, “Look, Honey, I can’t believe it. She finally learned how to wash clothes. I wonder what happened?” Her husband smiled and said, “Honey, I got up early this morning and decided to clean our windows.”

We can learn a valuable lesson from this story.

A critical spirit taints every area of our lives. When we are critical and fault-finding in people or things around us, we need to stop and make sure it’s not our own dirty window that’s clouding what we see. A critical spirit follows you everywhere you go, and you can’t get away from it. If you can’t see anything in a positive light – if you only see the scratch on the floor and don’t see the beauty in the amazing house – if you only see what others do wrong and never what they do right – then you need to clean your window.

At some point, we need to look in the window and say, “Maybe I’m the one who needs to change.” You see If you are always critical, then maybe you’ve developed a habit of seeing the bad instead of the good. And perhaps your life filter is dirty. Perhaps you have become judgmental and condemning instead of giving people the benefit of the doubt, and maybe you have even become entitled to your critical spirit and feel justified in judging and condemning others.

The good news is that through the help of the Holy Spirit, you can change your way of thinking and begin to see people through God’s filter – through their strengths instead of their weaknesses. But it’s a choice that you will need to make. You can focus on their good qualities, or you can focus on the things you don’t like and magnify the faults of others and the characteristics that annoy you.

Some people have become so critical minded that no matter what is done for them, it’s never right or good enough. If it’s a spouse situation – our filter can get so skewed and tainted that we can never see their good and can even forget why we fell in love with them in the first place and magnify the wrong in them. If you struggle in this area, make a list of the good qualities you like about your spouse. Write down the good things your spouse does. And catch them doing something good and acknowledge it. For instance, your husband may not be the best communicator but is a hard worker. She may have some weaknesses but is an amazing mother.

Start focusing on the good things because if you have a critical spirit, your entire outlook may be poisoned and will damage your relationships and break intimacy with people, self, and God.  People respond more to praise than they respond to criticism.

What is the definition of being critical?

The dictionary describes it as one who is inclined to find fault or judge with severity often too readily and condemn without facts.  So ask yourself. The same questions.

Am I inclined to find fault with people?

Do I judge with severity?

Do I condemn without facts?

Many people who are critical of others judge themselves in the same harsh matter. Is this you? Ask yourself

Do I think negative thoughts about myself?

Do I judge myself with severity?

Why do I do this?

The answer is often buried deep in the past. God is faithful to expose those root issues that are causing us to view the world, self, others, including God through our dirty window.

“Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots.”

Mathew 15:13

 

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Your Legacy

We have heard the old cliche ‘Life is but a vapor.’ Some cliches are rooted in some very real truths. James 4:14 says that our life is like the morning fog–it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. The truth of the matter is that someday we will all breathe our last and we will have a funeral. Have you ever asked yourself what people will say about you at your funeral?

Will they focus on your worldly accomplishments, your reputation, the material things you owned, the degrees you held, your profession, or will they say that you were a man or woman who loved God above all else, and your faith was the driving force in your life? The answer to these questions will determine the kind of legacy you will leave behind. A heritage is what is passed down to you such as a family name, culture, birthright, etc. A legacy is what you build into people. It’s what future generations will say about you.  It is for certain that you will leave a legacy. The question is what kind?

Our lives have a huge impact on those around us. You are or will be the patriarchs or matriarchs of your families…the leaders and your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will take what you have done with your life and build on their own lives. Your legacy then it’s a continuation of your influence beyond your lifetime. It’s either positive or negative that reflects what you value.

Have you thought about what legacy you want to pass on to your family? If you were to die today, what kind of legacy would you leave behind? What if by the grace of God you were given more time, a day, a week, a month? How about another 50 plus years? What would your children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren say about you?

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, please hear this, even if you only have one more day, the word of God tells us that one day in His courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. We serve a God who heals, redeems, restores, and can transform your family legacy despite what was passed down to you, or you have been leaving behind up to this point. Joel 2:25 tells us that God will give us back the years that the locusts have eaten away. Genesis 50:20 declares what the enemy meant for evil God will turn around for our good.

The world is a darker place today than when we were children, and it’s only getting darker. We must stand up and be a light not only in our generation, but we must pass on the torch of light… our faith, for the next generations, but it starts with our families. It starts with you. You can be the one who applies the redemptive power of the cross of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and leave a legacy of faith that lasts. One that honors God and makes a difference for all eternity. Choose to leave a godly legacy. Your great-great-grandchildren are depending on you.

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse.  Choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants” (Deuteronomy 30:19)

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Emotions Are Tied To Our Thought Life

Emotions are tied to our thought life. Have you ever stepped back and listened to your thoughts? Have you been surprised by them and wondered where they were coming from? In his book ‚Wild at Heart,‛ John Eldredge wrote, ‚We are being lied to all the time. Yet, we never stop to say, ‘Wait a minute who else is speaking here? Where are these ideas coming from? Where are these feelings coming from?‛ Satan is at war with God’s children. He is a crafty one and a deceiver; and, he knows if he were to show up as a dark, scary figure, with a pitchfork, we would immediately flee, sensing danger. So, instead, he uses our fears, hurts, and insecurities to influence us through our thought life.

The enemy knows that if he can control our minds, he can control our behavior; and, what is his most used weapon to do so? Lies! When we believe Satan’s lies, rather than God’s truth, it leads to faulty ways of thinking and wrong behaviors that enslave our souls. The only defense we have to protect our minds from being lost in the darkness of lies, is the truth: the inerrant Word of God.

God’s word gives a detailed combat strategy for defeating the enemy. We are to pull down strongholds (rooted lies) and bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). Simply put, we must replace Satan’s lies with God’s truth. If your thoughts are telling you that you are not good enough; that you are unworthy; that you are ugly; that you will always live in fear; that you will never heal; or that you will always live in bondage, stop for one moment and ask yourself, ‛Whose voice am I hearing? Who is it that is telling me that?‛ God’s word tells us that Jesus is the Good Shepherd and His sheep hear His voice and His voice protects them from the thief who wants to destroy them.

Our beloved Savior would never harm His sheep by speaking such lies. If you hear that you will never amount to anything, that’s a lie from the enemy; choose, instead, to listen to your Shepherd who says, ‘For I know the thoughts I have towards you, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to bring you a future and a hope‛ (Jeremiah 29:11). The enemy is a liar and cannot stand against God’s truth.

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Emotional Healing

Often people who are experiencing emotional pain have difficulty expressing their feelings in a healthy way. A common cause is buried feelings due to loss or past hurts.

Ignored or denied feelings won’t go away. They are buried alive, deep inside your soul, where they fester and create an infection that produces poison in your body.

As long as emotional pain continues to be suppressed and undealt with the symptoms will only get worse such as relationship conflict, unhealthy behaviors, depression, addictions, and all sorts of other coping mechanisms that wound the heart and separate us from self, others and God. That’s why it’s so vitality important to face your feelings.

Bring your heartache and hurts, your anxiety, your fear, and frustration to Jesus. Pour out your heart to Him and receive His comfort. He alone understands the depth of your hurt and pain. His word assures us in Isaiah that He was a man of sorrows acquainted with our grief. Hold on to the assurance found in His Holy Word…

“We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. “
Hebrews 4:15-16.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Healing The Roots of Rejection

Nothing wounds a heart more than rejection. The dictionary defines rejection as “an act of throwing away or discarding someone or something,” which implies a lack of value in the person or thing being thrown away.

Since every human being has three fundamental needs ….to be loved, valued and accepted, rejection results in wounding in the heart so painful that people cannot deal with it so they suppress it in their mind, stuff the pain away inside, pretend it’s not there and live in denial of their pain, but later it surfaces in various negative behaviors causing deeper pain, problems and conflict much like a layering effect.
 
Rejection can be rooted in our family of origin, peers, those in authority (teachers, pastors, etc.), resulting from verbal abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, troubles in the home, adoption, divorce, abandonment, infidelity, and peer rejection.
 
Sadly rejection can breed more rejection if the roots are not dealt with. People with rejection issues often feel victimized and place themselves in situations where they are always the victim, whether real or imagined and it sets a pattern that becomes a way of life, Others turn to exhausting ways to feel accepted – people-pleasing, perfectionism, workaholic, etc. Others refuse to deal with it altogether and check out through drugs, alcohol, anger, immorality, and other negative behaviors. Unless the root is dealt with, the truth is accepted and replaced –the by-product or rejection will always be rejection.
 
Despite past rejection, our God can heal you. He can walk into the darkness of rejection and shed His marvelous light on the path of your healing journey. The one who created you and numbers the hairs on your head will never reject you. He wants to heal those painful roots of rejection so that you can live in His acceptance.
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