The Ban Aid of Bitterness

When we are hurt emotionally, the fastest way to stop the emotional bleeding is placing the band-aid of bitterness on. It keeps us from feeling the pain and on guard of being hurt again. It also keeps 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 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 that we are out of the way of God healing them.

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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Rooted In His Love & Grace

The strength of a life is in its roots. This is true of a physical tree, and our tree of life. The root system serves to guarantee the existence of the tree. Without healthy roots, a tree system cannot survive. They provide a firm base, an anchor for the whole structure of a tree – the trunk – the branches – leaves – fruit. They are all dependent on that healthy root system. One of the primary functions of the root system is to draw water and nourishment from the soil to feed on. This will allow our roots to grow deep to firmly establish and define us.

To live the abundant life of a believer, we must be firmly rooted in God’s love and grace. But first, we must remove and let go of the toxic things that hinder us from being who God created us to be. Shame has no room in the life of a believer. Beloved, please understand that our past does not define us. The sins that hurt us whether ours or someone else’s perpetrated against us are not who we are. They kept us from being who God created us to be causing us to adopt unhealthy coping mechanism and put up walls around our hearts to keep from being hurt. These walls kept everyone else out including God. Addiction, sexual sin, trauma, neglect, abuse, violence, betrayal, unmet needs may not be able to be erased from our minds, but we can be free of their damaging effects on our souls.

God sets us free by helping us walk through and process the pain, grieve losses, remove all the lies we have believed about ourselves and others, enabling us to offer and receive forgiveness. This releases us from the bondage of being a byproduct of our past. With certainty, research confirms we are affected by negative and hurtful experiences in our history. However, because of Christ’s sacrifice and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, we don’t have to be a slave to our past any longer. Jesus sets the captives free and firmly plants us in the nourishing soil of His unfailing love and grace so that our roots will grow deep in the truth of who we are in Him, so when the storms of life come we will not be uprooted.

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Victory In The Battle of The Mind

Many struggles in life often are fought on the battlefield of our minds. That’s why James writes “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” (James 4:1). That’s why we are exhorted in God’s Word to demolish any thought that goes against what God says is true about any given situation.

We are in a Spiritual battle and need to take every stray thought captive and repent, correct it and align it with the truth of God’s Word. If someone has hurt us or wronged us, and are having hateful thoughts towards that person, we need to take that hateful thought captive immediately so that bitterness does not take root in our hearts and defiles us. (Hebrews 12:15)

We need to stop, realize what is truth in the situation, take responsibility for our wrong actions, ask for forgiveness, acknowledge when they are wrong, understand that we cannot change another person, offer forgiveness, release them to God and choose not to hate. The victory in the battle is won when we discipline our thinking, so it focuses on thoughts that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and are praiseworthy to God. (Philippians 4:8)

Negative emotions like anger, bitterness, hate, jealousy, fear, anxiety can kill us. They are joy stealers. They suck the life out of us and hinder us from living abundant lives in Christ. The good news is that we are not powerless. God has given us a choice to meditate on life giving thoughts or thoughts that bring death in our lives and render us defeated. Choose life! Choose victory!  Make it a practice to capture every negative thought and choose to replace them with good ones which come from the truth of God’s life-giving Word.

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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 of their pain not realizing their destructive and hurtful behaviors have a root cause.

The second group of wounded believers are also in denial, but through sheer willpower, 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 receive it fully. 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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Embracing Our Brokenness

Why is it so important that we do not fall into the trap of thinking that we have to be perfect? Because there are no perfect people! But trouble comes when we expect ourselves and others to be perfect. Perfect people don’t have problems so we feel “pressured” to be perfect and cannot admit our problems.

When problems are not presented to God and each other, we cannot be comforted, or if in private desperation we cry out to God and see relief, we cannot share our testimony because we would have to admit to the problem in the first place. That means that we cannot comfort others! What a loss to the person needing help and the blessing for us in helping others.

We would miss the whole point of what Paul is talking about in this passage of scripture.  When we can stop fighting our brokenness and instead accept it, we can surrender our need to cover the shame by trying to be perfect, earn acceptance, get validation, prove our value and worth, or check out of life in various ways so we don’t have to face our brokenness. When we do this we live in survival mode and miss out on the abundant Christian life grounded in this truth – It is in my brokenness, powerlessness, and in my weakness that my JESUS is made stronger.

Only when this truth resonates deep in our hearts are we able to identify with other’s brokenness. Let’s cry out to God and be comforted and invite others to experience the same kind of comfort we received. This is the true Christian life!

 

 

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Seeking Counseling

If you have been a victim of any form of abuse, neglect, abandonment that is still affecting your life and crippling your ability to walk in the fullness of Christ, then you should consider seeking out help through Christ-centered professional or pastoral counseling to be mandatory as soon as possible.

In seeking help, seek out those persons who are specifically trained to help you deal with your particular issue and fully rely on the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit through the inerrancy of God’s Word to help you replace the faulty message left behind by acts of abuse or neglect with God’s truth.  It is the truth that sets us free. Only the authority of God’s  living word has the power to heal, change and restore hearts and lives.

Other resources are available to you like support groups designed to help those who have been victimized in various ways. What you must remember is the sinfulness of other persons visited upon you is in no way an act of God. In no way were the acts of sinful abuse, neglect, and abandonment put upon you the will of God. Remember God loves you beyond measure. God wants you protected and sheltered from any form of abuse, neglect, hurt, or abandonment.

Beyond professional help and counseling, a substantial part of your life will need to be devoted to surrendering your pain and heartache to Christ. Christ is the son of a loving God. Christ and His Father in heaven possess a wrath to be visited upon those who take advantage of and hurt others. Your place is not to even the score or get revenge with others.

To find healing from the abuse, neglect, or abandonment you suffered, the focus of your life should be surrendering up your hurt and pain into Christ’s nail-scarred hands.

 

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Overcoming Fear & Anxiety

Fear and anxiety are normal emotions.  As normal as fear and anxiety are, these stress-makers shred our ability to be kind, caring, and compassionate people. Fear and anxiety turn us inward towards ourselves. Satan can and will use fear and anxiety against us at every opportunity. When we experience fear and anxiety, we must take a deep breath and think about Christ and His assurance to be with us. We must remember to relax and place these negative emotions in a proper perspective.

Fear is the negative emotion generated by a tangible threat. Anxiety is the negative emotion generated by an intangible threat. Fear is the result of something real. Anxiety is the result of something imagined.  Anxiety causes an unsettledness within, often people can’t identify what they are anxious about.  Worry is different,  the object of their worry is identifiable.

When we are worried,  fearful and anxious, we must remember to pray. Obviously, fear and anxiety take away your prayerful moods. However, God cares about your coming to Him in prayer, regardless of your emotions or your circumstances.  Pray God’s word over every fear, worry or anxious thought.  By doing so, we are promised in Philippians 4:6-7 that the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds.

Always remember that negative emotions are rooted in negative thinking.  Emotions will not change unless we change our thinking.  Scripture backs this up beautifully, “Anxiety in the heart of a man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad.” (Proverbs 12:25).

Saturate yourself in the Truth of God’s Holy Word. Meditate on the rich promises that are part of your inheritance as a beloved precious child of the living God!  No matter how your feel right now choose to embrace the truth, strength and wisdom and peace of God by changing your spiritual focus from darkness to light. Let the One who counts every hair on your head comfort and fill you with hope for the future. His perfect love casts away all fear. Set your fearful thoughts on Jesus. He is the greatest mood stabilizer of all.

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Getting Even Will Not Even The Score

When you are hurt and you are wronged by another person you may want to even the score. When you are damaged and broken by another person you may want to undo the damage and fix the brokenness by getting even.

However, the idea of getting even is a false idea put into your mind by Satan and his forces of deception. The truth is there is no true way of getting even with another person. There is no true way of evening up the score by hurting another person for what was done to you. There is no true way of getting even because hurting someone else does not make your own hurt go away.

Hurting someone else does not fix your brokenness. Hurting someone else does not undo a wrong committed against you. However, there is a way to erase the wrong, heal the hurt, repair the damage, and fix the brokenness. You can erase the wrong, heal the hurt, repair the damage, and fix the brokenness by pushing back against wanting to get even. You can push back and heal, repair, and fix the hurt by asking Christ to push with you.

You can push back by asking Christ to help you be forgiving. Certainly, the way of the world is not to forgive. The way of the world is to try to get you to even the score by doing to others the same bad things others have done to you. However, look around you. Look at the results of the way of the world. Now look within your heart where God is within. When you look within your heart…the place within you where God is found, then you will see His way is not the way of the world.

God’s way is the way of giving you healing. God’s way is the way of giving you wholeness. God’s way is the way of giving you rightness. God’s way is the way of giving you peace. To go God’s way means you must use your might, use your will, and use your heart to push in His direction and ask Him to help you forgive.

When you and God both push in the same direction, you win and you do not just even the score into a tie, you do not just win by a slim margin…you win by smashing the adversary back into the ground from where the adversary slithered forward to bite you and poison you.

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Loneliness

Christmas is a time of good cheer, excitement,  expectancy, warmth, busyness and feelings of joy surrounded by family and friends. But for some, it can be a time of extreme loneliness.  Loneliness can be described as a feeling of emptiness in the pit of your stomach when someone you love has left you either through death or broken relationships. You may feel abandoned, unwanted, or unneeded as if you’re all by yourself when you are actually surrounded by all kinds of people. You may feel like no one really cares.

These feeling can intensify if you begin to believe that your loneliness is a result of something being wrong at a core level with you – that you are somehow unacceptable, unworthy, don’t measure up, or unlovable.  When this happens, you may feel hopeless and have nothing to live for. Your pain can erode your self-worth, and drain you of strength.  Loneliness puts a huge wall around your heart and prevents you from allowing others in including God.

When you feel as if the entire world has abandoned you, and that no one understands your pain and sorrow God’s Word promises that the Lord is with you and He will never leave you.

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

Deuteronomy 31:8

In your loneliness and despair, have you distanced yourself from the Lord?

It is never too late to draw near to Him again. You are His precious child. And when you return to Him, you will be welcomed with open arms. You will have heartfelt joy when returning home to the shelter of God’s unconditional love and acceptance. You are never alone!

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The Grace Sifter In Relationship Conflict

Every person has a learned pattern of behavior when dealing with conflict.  Some lash out; others become critical, defensive and sarcastic, while some retreat like a turtle and avoid conflict altogether.  None of these patterns work towards solution and even create more conflict adding layers of bitterness and resentments causing hearts to get hardened and broken intimacy in relationships.

What’s God’s solution when conflict in relationships arises? GRACE! You see people model what was modeled to them. If they attack, they were attacked. If they are critical, they were criticized.  If they avoid, stuffing and avoidance were the names of the game growing up. These patterns are brought into relationships and affect those we love. It’s important not to personalize the wrongful reactions of other people. It has more to do with their faulty filters and less to do with you. Grace understands this.  It can build a bridge to healthy relationships.

God’s word says “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Instead of getting angry and replying in kind commit to sifting every conflict through a grace sifter.  Nothing gets through unless it contains grace.  Just like a flour sifter catches big lumps of flour that will ruin a recipe – nothing critical is allowed to sift through that will ruin our relationships. There is nothing wrong with the flour it’s just the wrong consistency. Likewise, conflict issues are legitimate and must be addressed and dealt with. But it’s our negative reaction to conflict that needs sifting through the filter of grace.

The next part of the recipe calls for seasoning with salt. Salt is a preservative. If your conversation is full of grace – allowing for faults and imperfections of others – it preserves relationships and brings peace to our lives. This is the perfect recipe for healthy God-centered relationships. Let’s get to cooking with grace.

“But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.”

Colossians 3:14

 

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