I heard my (quiet) man hollering for me from the other side of our property. My heart dropped as I picked up the pace to find him. When I rounded the corner, I was shocked to discover that our twigs and leaves fire from spring clean up had jumped its boundary and was rapidly burning a widening path toward our neighbor's house.
"Grab our hose! I'll get their's," he yelled as he ran to the neighbor's house. From opposite yards, we frantically hosed down the runaway flames until all that was left was the "Sssttt" of the last bit of fire dying under the onslaught of water.
Relief flooded our hearts as we looked at the scorched earth in one neighbor's yard, cognizant of how close the fire had tiptoed to another neighbor's fence. Together, we thwarted what could have been a significant disaster.
Fast forward to a few days ago when another fire threatened to wreak havoc, only this time instead of an errant spark from a literal fire, it was my tongue.
You see, someone in my life had handled a situation in a way I deemed wrong. For some reason, the wrongness of it all flew all over me. As I replayed the event over and over again in my head, the fire of my anger increased. I orchestrated a whole litany of words I was going to unleash on them to shame them to right the wrong.
As soon as my man entered the room, I verbally pounced on him reciting what had happened and all the reasons why it was wrong. When I finished, I waited expectantly for his agreement of their wrong. He concurred they had mishandled it and declared he too was disappointed.
However, he then kindly quoted, “forgive other people when they sin against you." (Matthew 6:14.)
Like the water hose on our runaway spring fire, that verse snuffed out my internal fire. Chaos and angst fled in the presence of Scripture. Calm and love filled the holes they left. As I sat there quietly reflecting on what had just transpired, I was amazed.
The fire of anger I stoked against the transgressors was instantly snuffed out when I chose to do as Scripture commands: forgive them.
Before I proceed, I must confess that a little over a decade ago, I would have careened down a destructively different path. Back then, I would have clung to resentment. Resentment would have caused me to lash out and/or sever the relationship. The severed relationship would have ushered in depression. Depression would have rendered me useless for weeks on end.
The dazzling difference between the old me and the new me reminds me of this gem found in Romans 8:6:
So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death.
But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.
Choosing to allow the Spirit to direct my thoughts has placed me on the path of life and peace. You may ask how I got to where I am today. I think James 1:19-25 best sums up my journey from being controlled by my sinful nature to being Spirit-controlled in my actions.
1. Slow to get angry.
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters:
You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.
I knew this verse but lived opposite of what it said. The new me chose to discipline my mind and heart to reject my sinful tendencies and submit to godly wisdom and instruction.
1. Be quick to listen.
2. Be slow to speak.
3. Be slow to get angry.
2. Seek God’s Righteousness (right way of living.)
Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.
Unfortunately, my anger was rarely over anything holy. Therefore, the new me chose to train myself to stop taking offense at any wrongdoing, and turn the situation over to the Lord. My flesh kicked and rebelled, but I held fast and pushed thru the hard.
1. I scoured Scripture in search of verses on controlling one's anger.
2. I wrote these verses on 3x5 cards, sticky notes, and scrap pieces of paper, and put them everywhere.
3. I recited these verses repeatedly to knit them into the fiber of my being.
3. Subscribe God’s Label to My Anger.
So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives,
and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts,
for it has the power to save your souls.
My unrighteous anger was a sin, filthy and evil wreaking havoc everywhere. The new me started to confess the sin of my anger, asking for forgiveness from God as well as those affected.
4. Stay in control.
But don’t just listen to God’s word.
You must do what it says.
Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.
When I could feel my anger rising, the new me would bite my tongue and pray. I willed myself to want to be found wise in God's eyes; so instead of spouting off folly, I mentally quoted Scripture allowing His Word to lead me rather than my flesh.
5. Set free!
But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free,
and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard,
then God will bless you for doing it.
Disciplining myself thru the Holy Spirit with God's Word has brought about true transformation! Anger rarely has a stronghold on me anymore. Well, except for times like the other night. One word said in unrighteous anger could have started a fire that would have marred a few key relationships.
Instead, just ONE verse from God’s living Word doused the fire inside of me!
Praise the Lord!
I share this "Achilles Heel" of mine to direct the spotlight onto the power of God’s living Word. It IS alive and powerful.
Powerful enough to change a hothead like me long-term.
Powerful enough to snuff out the fire of anger in me.
Powerful enough to bring about the righteousness of God in me.
To God alone be all praise!
How about you, my friend? Do you struggle with the noose of anger? Does it threaten to start a fire at the least bit of prodding? Gathering a group of verses on anger management and applying them is life-giving. God's Word does set you free if you do what it says. That is when God blesses us and gives us joy and peace. That, my friend, is not only fire insurance, but it is also priceless!
Jesus Girl. Wife. Momma. Student. Teacher. Lover of milky coffee, dark chocolate, lively laughter, deep talks, and a front row seat on the beach at sunrise.
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Untruths Which Can Unhinge Your Faith Series - Part 1
The conversation began hesitantly as one of the women asked, “How do you minister to a mom whose child has chosen to take his/her own life.” A collective moan arose from the circle of women as each of us wrestled with the weightiness of this topic.
The tragic death of a child is one thing, but when one’s child chooses to take his/her own life and commit suicide? Unfathomable. We quietly leaned in as she shared the mom’s sorrow. The “What ifs?” The “Whys?” We all grappled with what we’d say if we were in the same situation ministering to a mom with a shattered heart. Providentially, two untruths (lies) sifted to the surface and became the focal points of our discussion.
Lie #1 - Suicide is an unpardonable (unforgivable) sin.
This lie about "those who commit suicide are damned to hell forever" has pretty much planted itself as truth in the mind of many Bible believers. The evil one does not want us to know the truth, especially when grappling with life’s tough questions. How slimy of him to plant the lie that suicide is unforgivable.
- It empties the grieving of any hope of a glorious resurrection of the lost loved one.
- It causes us to question God and His goodness if there is no hope of seeing a loved one again because they chose to commit suicide.
- It creates a chasm between God and us in our thoughts and beliefs when we need to be leaning into Him most.
1. Truth exposes the lie.
Scripture states in Matthew 12:3, "Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven."
To the point, the only sin committed by humanity which will not be forgiven is to reject Christ as Lord and Savior. Henry Morris states, “The unforgivable sin of speaking against the Holy Spirit has been interpreted in various ways, but the true meaning cannot contradict other Scripture. It is unequivocally clear that the one unforgivable sin is permanently rejecting Christ.”
Yes, I believe suicide breaks the heart of God just like lust and envy and pride and gluttony does. But the act of taking one’s life does not permanently separate us from Him, only rejecting Christ as Lord does.
When Jesus was dying on the cross, He stated one of my favorite, full of hope sayings, “It is finished!” John 19:30 Because of that statement, God forgives my sins and your sins if we call Him Lord even if we choose to commit suicide.
By faith, I believe Christ’s death on the cross paid for all our sins including suicide.
2. Hope replaces the lie.
Renowned pastor Rick Warren and his wife Kay lost their son, Matthew, to suicide in 2013. Kay said, “Matthew’s body was buried in brokenness, but will be raised in strength.” That’s hope, my friend. That’s truth found in 1 Corinthians 15:43:
Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength.
By faith, I believe Christ rising from the dead on the third day promises a glorious resurrection for those of us who call Christ Lord, despite our sin, because of the cross.
3. Jesus defeated the lie!
I want to show you a nugget from my morning reading of Christ's death in Matthew 27:52. After Christ gave up His spirit in verse 50, look at the cool events God orchestrated to show He kicked death in the teeth:
- The veil in the temple separating man from God was torn from top to bottom.
- The earth shook and the rocks split.
- The tombs were opened.
Yes, you read that correctly! The graves were opened. You know which ones: The ones of the saints, those who believed but died. Not all of them, but just enough to show God’s power over death!
I bet those raised again were sinners just like you and me with a myriad of physical and emotional issues. I don’t know nor do I claim that one might have committed suicide. All I’m pointing out here is God’s love for all of mankind and His power over death. The day Jesus died, God raised a group of believers to live again, just like Lazarus.
Remember my post about the demon-possessed man? Jesus crossed a sea to rescue one deranged, out of his mind, senseless man. That shows the heart of our Savior. Even those whose minds are sick are precious in His sight, including those who choose to end their life with suicide.
He is the God of hope who does not change nor does He lie Hebrews 6:17-19.
The only unforgivable sin is denying Jesus as Lord. The tragic choice of suicide has not nor will it ever separate us from the love of God. Remember 1 Corinthians 15:43. That is hope you can bank on, my friend. How kind He truly is.
Next week, I’ll uncover the other lie we discussed that day, Lie #2 - God never gives you more than you can handle.
How about you? What has been your thinking on suicide and eternal life? Do you know the only one who can give your life meaning and hope? Oh, friend, Jesus loves you and longs to have a relationship with you. If you don’t know Him personally or if you have questions, we would love to talk with you. Please send us a private Facebook message or feel free to comment here.
Jesus Girl. Wife. Momma. Student. Teacher. Confidante. Lover of milky coffee, dark chocolate, deep talks, lively laughter, and a front row seat on the beach at sunrise.
This is my story of how I came to know Jesus as a child and then again as a woman. I would LOVE to hear yours! If you don’t know Him personally or if you have questions, we would love to talk with you. Please send us a private Facebook message or feel free to comment here.
You know those iconic small stain-glass windowed churches nestled in rolling hills? I was blessed to grow up in such a church in upstate New York. A myriad of memories flood my mind as I think back to my growing years in that church. Such memories as being baptized in a nearby very cold creek and yearly Easter sunrise services held in the back field followed by a yummy breakfast.
The most important memory, however, involves summer camp. Every summer the church members made sure we kids went off to church camp for a week. Amidst the greased pig contest and polar bear swimming club, my heart softened and permanently declared an eternal relationship with the Lover of my soul, Jesus.
I remember stepping outside that night after my decision to trust Jesus as my Savior. I looked up at the starry expanse spread like a canopy above me. I was overcome that the Creator of the starry realm loved me. Little ole me. I felt like Maria in the Sound of Music just singing and spinning with a soaring spirit. I was so filled with joy I could burst! I felt sure Jesus and I could conquer anything that came my way.
Years slowly slipped away and that night at camp became a definite but distant memory. My adult faith roller-coastered from joy-filled to joyless. Soon, my cup of joy was depleted. While I was active in my local church and wearing my joyful Jesus girl mask so skillfully, deep down I was miserable.
Miserable looks different for each of us but for me, it was as if a toddler had taken paint and splattered it over a beautiful masterpiece. There was splattered paint of anger, depression, and abusive and erratic behavior. I staggered from the high of Sunday morning worship to the deep valley of despair by Sunday afternoon. I was on and off anti-depressants and sleeping pills. My marriage was rocky, and my children trembled in fear at my sudden rage.
Something needed to change.
The joy I experienced that night years ago seemed so elusive now, possible for others but not for me. When I looked at much of what was wrong with my life - my marriage, my parenting, my friendships - I realized I was the common denominator. I had lost the joy of my salvation. I was the Titanic headed for the iceberg.
I needed to change.
I was in the midst of a Beth Moore study. I had always been in awe of her vibrant, radical faith and wanted it, but thought she was blessed with something special, something that was not obtainable for the average follower of Christ. But during one session, it finally clicked! Christ’s abundant life is a promise for all believers, including me!
The smoldering ember of my faith caught a flicker of air and started to burn!
Like a marathon runner, I began to train my flabby spiritual self hardcore. Instead of just a Sunday morning accessory, my Bible became my constant companion and lifeline. I asked the Lord, “Change me. I am willing to do whatever it takes to have the abundant life You promised in John 10:10.”
The Four Steps I Took to Turn My Titanic Self from Destruction:
1. Developed a Personal Bible Study Time
I was as inconsistent as an unreliable car with my quiet time. So, I determined to get up each morning before my family and spend time with the Lord. When my rebellious flesh wanted to stay in bed a little bit longer; I would pray Psalm 42:1-2,
“As the deer pants for the water, help me long for You.”
2. Studied and Applied God's Word
I dug deep into James 3:13-18 and into the Proverbs, like Proverbs 29:11, longing to be counted among the wise instead of the fool who is controlled by anger. My constant prayer was:
“Make me wise, Lord. Help my tongue speak words of life, not death. Allow my hands to be hands of healing, not hurting.”
3. Really Fell in Love with Jesus
I asked the Lord to help me fall deeply in love with and trust Jesus. With a renewed hunger, I studied the four gospels and every account of Jesus’s interaction with everyday people. With new eyes, I saw His love and compassion and miraculous healing of EVERY kind of sickness and disease. I prayed,
“Help my unbelief! Help me know you love me as deeply as those You walked with all those years ago."
4. Claimed Resurrection Power
I understood Christ's power to overcome death was available to me as a believer, yet I let that power lie dormant. I knew the only way to overcome my angry, depressed, abusive self was to pray Christ's death-defeating power over myself and my weaknesses. My steady prayer was:
"I'm weak and helpless to change myself. Lord, please help me believe Your resurrection power can save me from myself!”
And slowly, unlike the Titanic, I veered around the iceberg and started to feel a change in me.
- I started having joy which lasted longer than a worship service.
- I was experiencing peace that no pill or brownie or latest purchase could bring.
- I began to love being a wife and a momma and a friend.
I. Am. Changed! (Happy dance!)
Finally, I am experiencing the abundant life Jesus promised in John 10:10! All because the same power that raised Jesus from the grave is still available to us today! I just needed to receive it and believe it! Life has not become a bed of roses since my radical transformation. But now the joy of the Lord is my strength! His strength makes me strong where I am weak!
Just like that night long ago, the Creator of the starry host still loves little ole me. Just as important, Jesus and I CAN conquer anything that comes my way. When given the chance, I tell all who will listen,
"Jesus saves, not only from the literal hell, but also from the hell inside of ourselves!"
That is the victory of the empty tomb, my friend. That is the victory guaranteed to each person who humbles themselves, confesses their sin, and accepts Jesus as Lord.
Oh my friend, it's NOT too late! You are NOT too far gone! The victory of the empty tomb is possible for you, also. If He can save me from a Titanic-like existence, He can do the same for you!
May you believe it and walk and flourish in the power of Christ's empty tomb!!
Depressed, angry, and abusive defined the real me behind the mask I skillfully wore. On the surface, many saw a sweet Jesus girl who seemed happily married and mothered her children so well. Yet under the surface a volcano was brewing, rumbling and sending out steam, indicating something was seriously wrong. Perhaps that’s why I love the story of the demon-possessed man that Jesus freed in Mark 5:1-20. His story could be my story but let’s focus on the beauty of Jesus.
1. Jesus Crosses over to the Other Side
The true story told in Mark 5 of the demon-possessed man is a beautiful picture of the heart of the Savior, going to any lengths to rescue one person. That's the beauty of the gospel. Not only was it true 2000 years ago, but it is still relevant today! Jesus will leave the 99 sheep to rescue 1. Matthew 18:12 That's my story. Jesus not only rescued me from the literal hell, but also rescued me from the living hell I was choosing to live here on earth. He truly is the Miracle Maker!
When I think of those who are still shackled by the chains of anger, depression, and abuse, by faith, I rise up and shout from the mountain top, “Jesus is just as much in the miracle making business today as He was 2,000 years ago! Look at me! He wants to do the same for you!”
“Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you.” Mark 5:19
How about you, my friend? How has Jesus set you free? Perhaps you’re still shackled by your own “demons”. Oh my friend, Jesus wants to set you free! Cry out to the Miracle Maker, and trust Him for a miracle!
Jesus Girl. Wife. Momma. Student. Teacher. Confidante. Lover of dark chocolate, milky coffee, deep talks, lively laughter, and a front row seat on the beach at sunrise.