Jesus Christ has no dark side. In Him is no darkness at all.

Two comments I read this morning during my quiet time that are very meaningful to me from the booklet “The Promise of Security” by Beth Moore:

“Although we may have something unhealthy deep inside of us, those in whom Christ dwells also have something deeper.  Something whole.  Something so infinitely healthy that, if it would but invade the rest of us, we would be healed.”

“Jesus is NOT unhealthy.  Not codependent with us.  His strength is made perfect in our weakness.  This thought never grows old to me:  He has no dark side.  In Him is no darkness at all.”

End quote.

The more we are like Jesus, the healthier we will be, not only spiritually but emotionally! God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit can be trusted!!   God is love!    The Father loved us enough to be the ultimate giver.  Jesus was willing to experience and feeling every temptation we will feel so He could show us the way.  And the Holy Spirit will enable us to do what we cannot do in ourselves when we humble ourselves and ask.  

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Filed under A redeeming God, God can be trusted, Knowing God, Knowing ourselves, Love, Why Jesus came to save us

Some simple thoughts about salvation and sanctification

I’m not a theologian, but I’ve been thinking recently that in a nutshell, our prayer in salvation is “Lord, please save me from my sins and from death and hell!! Our predominant attitude is an attitude of “respect” toward God. “I NEED You!”

In sanctification (aka perfect love, the abundant life, the deeper life, etc) our prayer is “Lord, please save me from myself!” Our attitude is one of not only respect, but of starting to love and trust God in a deeper relationship…even enough to let him change us!! “I WANT You!”

God is completely healthy and “functional”! He wants to help us change any broken or damaged areas of our hearts and minds into being healthy and functional! Knowing God in relationship is our model for human relationship!! What works in our relationship with God works in our relationships with people. What we learn that is true about relationships with people, will be true in our relationship with God too. However, sometimes we have a damaged or dysfunctional experience and/or training in our human relationships and we transfer that over to how we relate to God. That is where the challenge comes in! Will we determine to trust God and change in spite of our feelings…or only trust our own emotions and understanding?! Lord, help us to remember that You only have good planned for us!! You want us to grow and mature!

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When do you use “John and I” or “John and me”?

This post is totally different from my normal topics! Actually, it’s pretty risky for an Indiana girl to share a grammar hint. Many of us Southern Indiana people are not known for our good grammar! We were probably influenced too much by that “Hoosier accent” in our growing up years!

However, one of my elementary school teachers gave us students a hint in English class that I’ve never forgotten–although I’m not saying I’ve always practiced it! (Are you noticing all my disclaimers! :) )

One area most of us have difficulty in is knowing when to use I or me and us or we in a sentence when it’s in combination with a noun or proper name.

Here’s the hint. In your mind, quickly drop out the name or noun and you will instinctively know which form is correct.

Very simple examples: “Would you give that book to the boys and I?” “The speaker spoke to Cindy and I.” “I know us women can drive you crazy!” “Leave Susie and I alone!” “Me and my sister took the kids to the zoo.”

Now drop the names or nouns. You will immediately know which word is correct. “Would you give that book to me?” “The speaker spoke to me.” “I know we can drive you crazy!” “Leave me alone!” “I took the kids to the zoo.”

Quick and easy!

Well, I don’t know that anyone is interested,and maybe everyone else already knows this, but I like people passing along things that help make my life easier or better so I decided to pass this hint along, just in case. Now please don’t think I’m the “grammar police” because I’m not. I know I need all the help I can get, grammar-wise! I am trying! :)

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The Seven Deadly Sins– thoughts from William Backus

This post about the seven deadly sins may give us some puzzle pieces to help us know ourselves! It seems to me that there may be some connection between our natural temperaments and deadly sins. All of us have the sin of pride, but the choleric temperament tends to struggle more with it. The phlegmatic temperament may be drawn to the sin of sloth; a melancholy may yield more easily to greed. This is not set in stone…childhood training and experiences and who we identify with also shapes us. It is something to think about!

This is taken from What Your Counselor Never Told You by Dr. William Backus

The History of the Seven Deadly Sins.
The sin list reaches back at least sixteen hundred years, and probably beyond. It was created as a moral/spiritual diagnostic aid to persons who were totally serious about their Christian lives. The seven deadly sins are: Pride, Envy, Anger, Greed, Sloth, Lust, and Gluttony.

Author’s definition of sin.
Biblical writers understood sin as something larger than an action or thought; they recognized an actual power inside us, a driving motivation. This drive influences our actions, but it is not identical with actions. We have an inclination to disobey God and exalt self, a disposition that is part of every human being.

Some sins are single behavior episodes; habits are grooves. The Seven Deadly Sins are all habits. Not one of the Seven Deadly Sins is a single, separate sinful behavior–not one is an individual action. Instead, all of them are what psychologists refer to as traits. Traits are characteristics, enduring habits, under the skin inclinations to behave in certain ways. Traits are enduring behavioral motivations, leanings toward acting in a given way.

The Seven Deadly Sins are character traits that seem to be pervasive throughout humanity.

Descriptions of the Seven Deadly Sins
(and how they can be revealed in our lives)

Being desirous of occupying first place; seeking to have authority over others; detesting being under authority or external restraints; overestimating self or one’s own abilities and gifts; exhibiting blindness to good qualities in others; showing contempt for others; being anxious to get credit; having presumptuous ambition; taking on tasks without the ability to perform them; thriving on praise and recognition; boasting or faking self-deprecation; being shocked with the misdeeds and faults of others; being self-satisfied; being thrilled or enamored with one’s own spiritual and moral achievements; being strongly opinionated, inflexible, or argumentative; chafing under the rule and sovereignty of God.

Habitually being in competition with others; feeling unhappy when another gets a break; being glad when others (especially those perceived as “equals”) have setbacks or troubles; losing “self-esteem” when another is perceived as having more (spirituality, attractiveness, popularity, intelligence, material rewards—anything) than oneself; desiring to expose defects in others; frequently interpreting other’s words and deeds as bad; persistently tuning in to compare self with others—their qualities, possessions, achievements, etc.

Having a strong desire for revenge; cultivating and harboring resentment; thinking about getting even; arguing, quarreling, fighting; being primarily silent and sullen; being sarcastic, cynical, insulting, critical; frequently being indignant, desiring harm for others; considering it right to “settle the score.”

Wanting to accumulate material things just for the sake of possessing them; cheating, lying, or stealing to gain or hang on to things; being tightfisted and retentive; being excessively thrifty; being overcautious about spending; hating to give; being stingy; being callous toward the needy; hating to pay debts, avoiding repayment whenever possible; feeling excessive distress at small losses; finding it hard to trust God to provide for needs.

Being sorrowful in spirit and mind; finding it difficult to have hope; believing effort and work are too difficult; procrastinating, putting off attending to important matters; deciding prayer or worship is too hard; being sluggish and heavy; having a will that is weak; feeling it is useless to try to break bad habits; often investing self in trivial activities; constantly seeking bodily ease and comfort; preferring idleness to activity; being sad and spiritually worn out; drifting along in mediocrity; being dissatisfied and angry with God for not giving feelings of peace, consolation, and happiness.

Being regularly preoccupied with sexual pleasure, thoughts, and fantasies; thinking about sexual pleasure to the exclusion of other things; looking at, touching, embracing, or engaging in intercourse with illicit or forbidden sexual objects or activities; persisting in excessive interest, conversations, or jokes about sex.

Overindulging in pursuit of worldly pleasure; eating too much; eating too fast; being preoccupied with food; drinking alcohol too often or too much; being finicky or choosy about food or drink; overly investing in the enjoyment of gourmet foods, wines, literature, music, the arts; embracing pursuits that do not meet fulfillment in God.
End quote.

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A 2008 Easter writing

(Another reason for journalling and writing. It allows you to track your growth. :) )

Just this past Friday, I understood something with my heart for the first time. I’m not saying with my head—I’ve known this with my head for a long time. It’s different when truth reaches your heart!

I know I read a lot. It’s not hard to pick up on the more tolerant attitudes our society has toward other religions and other people’ view of Christianity and of Jesus Christ. I’ve sensed the world’s view that Christianity is just one of many religions for years now!

How do I communicate what I just realized this morning?

The bottom line difference is whether we are in relationship with Jesus Christ! Is He a Person to us? Do we know Him? It’s not enough to know about Him (even as a Sunday School kid). If you’re not in relationship, then all you have is head knowledge and that’s no different from anyone else’s view of Jesus Christ, Mohammed, Buddha, etc. etc.

Jesus Christ becomes just one of many!! But if you are in a personal relationship—it’s totally different!

I guess it all makes sense. The difference between Christianity and all other religions is that Christ is alive. . . the Holy Spirit is living in our hearts. . . making us partakers of God’s love and holiness!

No wonder Paul said if Christ is not risen then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty! (I Corth. 15:14)

It takes work to be in relationships. We’ve got to remove any hindrances to love that block us. We must get to know the other person!

I think for the first time I’ve been able to put words to feelings and convictions I’ve had for a long time. God is real! But it does take a step of faith to begin the relationship. When I believe, I am opening the door of my heart and inviting the Holy Spirit of God to come live inside me. When I watch someone else growing in their relationship with God I see again the truth of the Gospel.

Some habits simply have good results. Meditation has provably good results whether you are Christian, following an Eastern religion, or practicing yoga!

However, the Gospel changes us from the inside out because we are in genuinely close relationship with Christ! Words alone don’t change us—it’s our relationship with God.

Father, I thank you for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ! I’m starting to see the depth of it!!! So much I had taken for granted because I heard it so much as a child.

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Avoiding or denying feelings is like using an emotional credit card

A friend of mine went to a Dave Ramsey Financial Seminar. Ramsey made the statement that letting go of money is going to hurt, period. We have the choice of experiencing the immediate hurt by using a cash system which means we feel the pain as soon as the money leaves our hands or we can choose to put off experiencing the pain by using credit cards, loans, etc. But the truth is, we may delay the immediate pain, but the pain will come….but now with a lot of built-up interest and fees!! The pain that comes with waiting is much worse than the pain of immediately paying for something!

This is what came together in my mind. We know that God has laws and principles for relationships and emotions just as He does for every other area of life. It seems to me there are consequences for every action we can make—good, bad and everything in between. Some choices are nearly inconsequential; however, others are life-changing. Like it’s been said, we can choose, but we can’t choose the consequences.

Just as it can be painful learning to let go of money in finances, learning to face conflict in relationships is also painful. And we have the same choice. We can deal with conflict immediately and feel the pain right away by not letting the sun go down upon our wrath, or we can mishandle it by delaying and/or stuffing our feelings, or doing whatever else comes naturally to us.

Stuffing feelings and choosing to delay conflict is just like using an emotional credit card. We start that habit because it feels less painful, but just like credit cards, stuffing and avoiding only delay the pain, it doesn’t cancel it. When payment comes due (in other words, finally resolving the problem), just like interest and fees will inflate your balance on your credit card, the emotional cost of avoiding conflict also becomes much higher.

I listened to Josh McDowell’s audio book Right From Wrong on a trip to IN. This is one thing he said he explained to his son, trying to prepare him for life.

If you make a right choice, you will notice that almost immediately you experience a negative benefit.

If you make a wrong choice, almost immediately you experience a positive benefit.

For example, if you lie or cheat, immediately there is a positive benefit. You didn’t get into trouble, you passed the test, etc. But in the long run, lying and cheating are devastating to you.

If you choose not to lie, there are immediate negative benefits—you are grounded, you are disciplined, etc, but if you choose not to lie, in the long run, it is good for you!

Apply this to any weakness in your life. It’s so easy to make wrong or hurtful choices because we immediately experience a positive benefit! My family and I have codependent traits. We are caring loving people. But if you move into codependency, it’s very detrimental to your relationships. For years I made many wrong choices in regard to conflict because I didn’t want to experience the immediate pain. Because of preferring the immediate positive benefits, I began to develop habits of avoiding and stuffing. Books on codependency talk about “recovery”. Recovery is simply the process of unlearning all those harmful habits and retraining your emotional reactions with truth! It takes TIME!! And it can be painful!! But if we want to become healthy, we’ve got to go through the time of recovery.

The concept of recovery is valid for many areas. If we are in trouble financially, recovery is the painful process of getting the bills current again, of developing a budget, of seeing the fallacies in your thinking, of figuring out ways of holding yourself accountable, etc. If you have a habit of overeating, recovery will be the process of facing your reality, of learning all you can learn about food, diet, your health, your reasons for eating—everything! It will involve developing good habits to replace the old ones. Sometimes the issue is not necessarily calories, but of making food choices that are good for us! That is not easy!

Recovery must be practiced to become free from alcoholism, drug abuse, porn, workaholism, I believe homosexuality, and many other habits. I’m not talking about just stopping drinking, or stopping drug abuse, or avoiding an action–recovery is learning how to live a healthy life in all areas! It probably will mean the healing of some areas of our past too.

I hope this doesn’t depress you, but many credible authors say, and it’s been my experience, recovery of any sort does seem to take as long to get out of as it took to get into the place you are now. Not that you are at the same place the whole time…we’re moving up the spiral…but it does take time!!

Again, for those of you who are younger, believe and internalize God’s Word!!! Know what the Bible says–McDowell says God’s laws are for our provision and our protection. That is so true!!

For those of us in the middle of a personal battle, think long-term! Learn all you can about yourself. Ask God honest questions. He will answer. And don’t be afraid of “practicing” recovery. That’s what we do in our Christian life! Recovery is just a secular word for the process of becoming a mature healthy individual. Spiritually we call it discipleship, becoming a mature Christian, etc. Emotionally, it also takes time and practice to change our habits, feelings and misbeliefs by putting emotional truth into our minds! We are what we do.

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Filed under Growing up, Handling conflict, Knowing ourselves, Living emotionally only, Maturity, Relationship principles, Satan's lies, Uncategorized

Commitment Before the Fact

How critical it is that we make important decisions and commitments ahead of time—before we feel the emotions that come with a temptation!! Satan can come as an angel of light with his enticements; he can come with ideas that feel like a most desirable option!! How can we determine what is normal emotion and what is a temptation wrapped in emotion?! Well, we probably need time to decipher that. That’s why we need to think ahead and have some decisions already made in principle.

I’m going to repeat a truth. It’s not very often, if ever, that we make good decisions based on emotion, especially if we’re in an emotional valley to start with! Good emotions follow good decisions, but emotions by themselves seldom lead to smart choices!

However, I do think one way God uses our emotions positively is to lead us into bonding with and loving people before perhaps we are hurt so much that in ourselves, we would withdraw from them and cut them off. Exodus 32 is an example of what I’m trying to say.

As an immature Christian, I used to interpret Exodus 32:7-14 as Moses being a better person than God!! God wanted to destroy Israel, Moses intervened for them! So Moses was more loving and more mature!

Now that I’ve lived longer, I believe this is what was happening. God already knew that Israel was going to worship the golden calf. God knew the feelings that Moses was going to face even before Moses felt them! And God prepared him so that he could be “victorious”—victorious in that he chose to continue to love the people and to stay connected with them!

How did God do that? He challenged Moses. What God said about Israel was the truth!! They were stiff-necked! They had rejected God and were already worshiping a golden calf! Was God’s confrontation with Moses about Israel a test that would show Moses his own character? Moses committed to the people before he saw their sin. He bonded emotionally with the people by praying and interceding for them with God before he saw the golden calf actually being worshiped!

God had told Moses what Israel was doing, but Moses hadn’t seen it with his own eyes yet. It’s one thing to know something in our head, it’s another to see open sin that hurts you or is harming those you love.

The Bible says Moses pleaded with God for Israel. I think it must have pleased the Lord to see Moses reflecting God’s heart of love and God’s character. Moses was growing up.

In verse 32, Moses so identified with the people that he could pray, “Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.

Moses was developing his ability to love the people. We are what we do. God gave Moses the chance to choose to love Israel. Then when the test came a few hours later, Moses was able to act on that decision to love.

Here are some other real life examples.

The Amish have already decided that part of their teaching and lifestyle is that they will choose to forgive. A few years ago, we saw the tragedy of the young Amish girls being killed for no reason.

I believe as a group, the Amish will forgive. That’s already been decided. The path to getting there may be difficult with many curves and unexpectedly painful emotions, but if they stay committed to obeying God’s Word and forgiving as Christ has forgiven us, I think they will eventually get to the place of genuine forgiveness. They had already chosen to love and to forgive—before the test even came.

Likewise, when we get saved, if we’ve already made up our mind that we will trust and obey God, then we have already decided ahead of time what our final decision will be when temptation comes. Life’s experiences may surprise us—they may blind-side us!—but we’ve already made the decision!! I will stay connected with God. I will obey no matter what. I will choose to love God and to love people!

I think this is true about marriage too. That’s what the marriage covenant is all about!! It’s to be a commitment to an intimate loving marriage relationship before we even feel the feelings of conflict, or before we feel the reality of being richer or poorer, in sickness or in health!! We have already decided to do the loving thing—even before we face the temptations to be selfish and controlling! (I understand that we cannot force a partner to be committed or be mature. I’m not trying to inflict more pain on already wounded hearts. But we are responsible for our own actions and attitudes in perhaps an unwanted situation. God wants to help us grow in grace.)

My point is—be careful of floating through life making decisions by how you feel at the moment. We must have some unchanging guiding principles! You may make it fine for a while, but remember that emotions are self-centered and want to be in control. That feels good and feels safer to us. God’s ways are rooted in love (the opposite of self-centeredness) and trust (we let go of trying to control our life!). It’s God’s ways that will work!! The longer you live, the more you realize that! That’s why it’s called a life of faith. It doesn’t make sense to our human understanding—but God’s ways work!

Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. Ground yourself in God’s Word. Read it daily. Internalize it. It is through His Word that God gives us hope for times of trouble.

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Filed under Growing up, Knowing God, Knowing ourselves, Living emotionally only, Love, Maturity, Relationship principles, Trust, Uncategorized