Give Your Shame/Guilt To God’s Spirit

Hebrews 10:22 (WEB)


Seeking To Understand The Mind Of God

Seeking To Understand The Mind Of God
I woke up this morning to news that a bus carrying fourteen senior adults from First Baptist Church of New Braunfels collided with a pickup yesterday afternoon. Thirteen bus passengers were killed. One passenger was hospitalized in critical condition; the pickup driver was hospitalized in stable condition.

The senior adults were returning from a three-day retreat at a Baptist encampment.

So far this morning, authorities have not determined the cause of the crash. No matter who or what caused the crash, the passengers were not at fault. Yet all but one were killed.

Tragedies like this bring us to the most difficult challenge Christians face theologically. We believe that God is all-knowing, all-loving, and all-powerful. No other religion affirms these tenets about a personal God as fully as we do.

Since God is omniscient and not bound by time, he knew that the crash would happen before it did (Psalm 139:4; 1 John 3:20). Since he is love (1 John 4:8), he would seemingly not want such a tragedy to come to his children. Since he is omnipotent (Matthew 19:26), he could have prevented the crash from occurring. The Lord who stilled the storms and raised the dead could have stopped a bus and a pickup truck from colliding.

Yet he did not.

Today there are families grieving the sudden loss of their parents and grandparents. A pastor is trying to help his congregation come to terms with a tragedy their church will obviously never forget. The rest of us will watch with sorrow for those who are suffering.

Many wonder why the God these senior adults worshiped didn’t prevent their deaths. So do I.

I often note that God redeems all he forgives. I’m confident that our Father will redeem for greater good even this terrible tragedy (Romans 8:18). But future hope doesn’t explain present suffering. We grieve, and we should. We ask hard questions, and we should.

But here’s what we should not do.

We need not wonder if the Christians who died yesterday share our grief or our questions. We need not wonder if God was able to redeem their suffering. One moment after they died, they stepped into heaven. When they took their last breath here, they took their first breath there. They moved instantly from our fallen world into God’s perfect paradise. Now they are more alive than we are in a world where “death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

In the face of tragedy, we have two options.

We can decide that God is not who he says he is. We can let our questions keep us from experiencing his transforming love and sustaining grace. We can trust our doubts more than we trust our Creator.

Or we can decide to have faith in our Father even when we don’t understand him. The harder it is to trust God, the more we need to trust God.

Which option do you choose today?

The Dark Side Of Self Defeating Jealousy

 The Dark Side Of Self Defeating Jealousy

A heart at peace gives life to the body,
but envy rots the bones.
— Proverbs 14:30

It could be your neighbor’s new car or maybe it was your fifth-grade teacher praising your best friend, but not you. There are so many scenarios that can catch us off-guard and bring out one of the ugliest traits that we are all susceptible to — the experience of jealousy. Whoever came up with the expression “eat your heart out” in reference to producing jealousy in another person was speaking a truth. In Proverbs we learn “envy rots the bones.” Jealousy destroys us from the inside out.

But there is a flipside to self-defeating jealousy. The very same verse begins, “A heart at peace gives life to the body.” Literally translated from the original Greek, “a heart at peace” is called “a healing heart.” The sages explain that a healing heart is a soft heart, one that accepts and forgives and is kind and generous.

A healing heart is the exact opposite of a jealous heart. A jealous heart wants what others have. A healing heart is happy for others when they succeed. A jealous heart is never satisfied. A healing heart is always content. A jealous heart is focused on its own personal gain. A healing heart looks out for the well-being of others.

Yet, for all jealous people do to better their own lives, they only bring ruin upon themselves. In contrast, kind, content, and generous people will bring peace and healing to themselves and to others. People with such a positive and peaceful attitude allow the body to function properly while spreading peace and health to those with whom they interact.

Of course we’d all prefer to have a healing heart over a jealous one. But how can we avoid jealousy?

The following story can help us. Once there were two eagles who would fly together. One eagle was able to fly higher and faster than the other, making the less adept eagle very jealous. One day, the jealous eagle spotted a hunter and asked him to shoot the other eagle. The hunter said that he could, but needed a feather for his arrow. The jealous eagle was happy to oblige, plucking one of his own feathers.  The hunter missed and needed another feather, and then another and another. The jealous eagle supplied so many feathers that soon he didn’t have enough feathers to fly. The huntsman turned around and shot the eagle who could no longer fly or escape.

This story shows us how to avoid jealousy — by knowing deeply that it harms us most of all. When we feel jealousy beginning to grow and fester inside us, we must allow our hearts to be healing hearts, bringing life and joy to ourselves and those around us.


Toxic Friendships Can Make You Sick

Toxic Friendships Can Make You Sick

It can happen to anyone, sometimes a friendship goes bad.

It can be unpleasant, and researchers claim there is a physical toll that comes from being with toxic friends.

Friendships are supposed to give you a warm and fuzzy feeling, but it turns out, instead of making you feel good some friends can literally make you sick.

“Between the headaches and you’re just feeling like, you just feel bad all over,” one woman said.

As CBS2’s Kristine Johnson explained, science now backs that statement up. A study by researchers at UCLA found that stressful friendships lead to significantly high levels of a protein that causes inflammation in the body. Over time that can cause serious health problems including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

“This study is suggesting that there’s more to it than just a psychological impact, that it may be related to health outcomes and diseases that are very common and very severe,” Dr. Daniel Yadager explained.

Dr. Yadager said in addition to eating well and exercising, good relationships can be as important.

“This is also part of leading a healthy lifestyle, is to make sure you’re around people who are nurturing and supportive,” Dr. Yadager said.

Dr. Jan Yager who has written about bad friendships said many people don’t make the connection between illness and bad friendships.

“We like to think that friendship is something that everyone can handle. It’s so much harder to say, ‘my friend is making me ill” Dr. Yager said.

Another problem is that breaking up a toxic friendship can be even harder than leaving a romantic relationship.

“The roots can go a lot deeper. You can’t replace a friendship that goes back to when you’re 5-years-old,” Dr. Yager said.

Ending a friendship itself can be stressful, but there are ways to make it easier. Start by backing off from the friend, be direct about why the relationship doesn’t work, and try to part on good terms.

Dr. Yager said it’s not easy, but worth it in the end.

Experts said when breaking up a friendship it’s helpful to explain that it’s not the other person’s fault, it’s the way you interact.



Reject Rejection/Approval of Others!

Reject Rejection/Approval of Others!

Rejection is a lying spirit that draws us into thinking in a way that is contrary to what the Word of God states. Rejection plagues most people and has been built up as a stronghold in many people’s lives.

It creates disunity in relationships, destroys destinies and releases bitterness, resentment and offense.

So, how do we conquer rejection?

Acknowledging you are suffering with rejection is the first step is removing this hindrance from your life. As you recognize rejecting thoughts, casting them down and taking them captive will be instrumental in receiving your deliverance. In 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, it instructs us to take every thought captive. In the Complete Jewish Bible, taking the thought captive actually means submitting the thought and making the thought obey Christ.

When thoughts of rejection come in, you must surrender them to the Word of God. Ask yourself, “Does this thought line up with the God’s Word or contradict what the Bible says about me and who I am?”

Rejection comes in through words people speak to us or actions they invoke on us. Rejection can also be how we perceive a situation. Just as most of the things we worry about never happen, so it is with rejection. We perceive into a situation the thoughts of reactions of another person that are not true and thus it causes us to take on rejection.

The yearning to want acceptance and approval are linked directly to why we feel rejected. We have this longing to fit in, be accepted, exalted and have people approve of us. We are consistently seeking words of affirmation and confirmation of our anointing or a pat on the back for a job well done.

It is when we don’t get an affirmation, a thank you or a firm well done that the spirit of rejection sets in. Coming to the realization that we are accepted and affirmed by God is the key to releasing ourselves from rejection.

As we grow closer to the Lord in our walk, we will internalize that the acceptance and love of the Father is all that really matters. We should desire to love and live in unity with people, but people are not where our identity should come from. Our identity comes from knowing who we are in Christ and whose we are. As we read the Bible and learn about our kingdom inheritance and our rightful position and authority in the kingdom, it will affirm us.

We will then take our eyes off the need for man’s approval and know we are accepted and loved by God. When we know that God accepts us and are living in the fullness of his love and power, what man believes will not matter because we know who we are in Christ. The words and emotions of this world do not have everlasting value compared to who we are in Christ.

When we are seeking man’s approval more than God’s approval, we are idolizing man.  We are saying what they think is more important than what God thinks. God wants no idols before him.

Casting down the thoughts of what other people think is an ongoing battle. However, it is a battle you can conquer. As you spend time in the presence of the Lord, you will become like him and full of His love.

When you are in God’s presence, He will speak to you and reveal the lies you are entertaining in your mind. He will assist you in removing those lies through His Word. When you are reading the Bible, don’t just read, study it so you can learn what the Bible says about you.

By renewing your mind through being in His presence and in His Word, He helps us conquer the insecurities that lead us down the road to rejection.

We are here on this earth to serve God and serve people, love God and love people. If we continually focus on that, then we will never feel we are owed anything. Servants give without an expectation of anything in return.

We have to renew our mind and be servants. We need to give without an expectation of someone saying thank you, that was nice or other words of affirmation. When we give and love with no expectation of anything in return, then we can guard our hearts and minds from rejection, because rejection sets in when we are expecting a return or looking for a response.

Can you conquer the rejection you are faced with today? Yes, you can, and here is how:

  • Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the pockets of rejection.
  • Repent of where you have taken in rejection.
  • Declare this: I am accepted and loved by God and that is the real truth I need to believe.
  • Ask God to help you get over your need to feel accepted and approved by man.
  • Learn your identity in Christ through reading books and the Word of God.
  • Be love and give by serving without any expectations in return.
  • Take every thought captive and cast out the ones that don’t line up with the Word of God.
Practice casting thoughts of rejection and  peoples approval off you until this spirit is released and conquered 


False Friendships (Part 2)

False Friendships: Part Two

 About a month ago I wrote a column called “5 Ways to Recognize False Friends.” and it struck a nerve—apparently a raw one.

As I shared, the Bible has plenty to say about false friends—and you’ve probably had one or two yourself. Of course, you probably didn’t know they were false when you first befriended them or you wouldn’t have put yourself through the grief!

I’ve had a number of false friends over the years. Some had selfish ambition and thought I could open a door for them. Others had a Judas spirit and walked with me until they didn’t agree with a decision. Still others were subtle manipulators who manifested when I said “no.”

Even still, I’ve kept my heart open to everyone. I don’t believe in putting up walls, though boundaries are wisdom. I don’t believe in operating out of suspicion, though discernment is essential. I lean heavily on the Word of God, which points out ways to discern false friends. Here are five more ways:

1. False friends are selfish and self-centered. “For wherever there is jealousy (envy) and contention (rivalry and selfish ambition), there will also be confusion (unrest, disharmony, rebellion) and all sorts of evil and vile practices” (James 3:16, AMPC).

With false friends, you can count on plenty of drama. They may be jealous of you and try to tear you down. They may have selfish ambition in their heart and get upset when you won’t give them a leg up. Or they may be self-centered and inconsiderate of everyone else but themselves.

These false friends may simply be immature, or they may be under the influence of a spirit. Either way, when there is consistent unrest, disharmony, rebellion, and other evil and vile practices, you have to question the health of the relationship. True friends help you bear your burdens rather than constantly being one.

2. False friends manipulate and control. “For such people do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own appetites, and through smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting” (Rom. 16:18, MEV).

False friends will try to control and manipulate you. They may know exactly what they are doing or they may have no clue. With this false friend type, you’ll find yourself caving in and conceding to their pressure even when you don’t agree, then getting mad at yourself later. When you finally contest your false friend’s control games, they’ll turn the table on you and accuse you of being the manipulator.

This is a toxic relationship. True friends don’t make false accusations. That’s the devil’s job.

3. False friends kick you when you are down. “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Prov. 17:17). David experienced this: “For it is not an enemy who reproaches me; then I could bear it. Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me; then I could hide from him. But it was you, my peer, my guide, and my acquaintance. We took pleasant counsel together, and walked to the house of God in company” (Ps. 55:12-14).

False friends will kick you when you are down. False friends will see you are suffering and launch their accusations, unearth their offenses and demand discussions even when it’s clear you can’t take another hit. False friends will push the matter. True friends will suffer long with you, especially when you are under attack, under the weather or otherwise under the gun. True friends will refrain from bringing up issues in the relationship until you are ready to respond in peace.

4. False friends use and abuse you. “Do not take advantage of each other, but fear your God. I am the Lord your God” (Lev. 26:17, NIV). False friends will take whatever you will give them and these selfish ones will they offer nothing in return. False friends will come with expectations that you will give them what they want when they want it—and pout when you don’t.

Jesus warned that there would be those who despitefully use us (Matt. 5:44). The word “use” in that verse means “to insult, to treat abusively, use despitefully, to revile, to accuse falsely, to threaten.” False friends will give you ultimatums, launch false accusations, and make veiled or unveiled threats. Jesus says we’re to pray for such ones.

5. False friends break covenants and betray you. The Bible offers many examples of people who made covenants with one another. False friends will make covenants and break them. Jesus called Judas a friend (John 15:15). Judas drank of the covenant of Christ’s blood (Matt. 26:28). But Judas that very night betrayed the Son of the living God for a mere 30 pieces of silver.

False friends will say what you want to hear to get in your inner circle. False friends will serve you faithfully until it no longer benefits them—then they will break covenant and betray you. True friends are loyal even when they disagree.

Those are just a few characteristics of false friends. You may think of others. If you are in an unhealthy relationship, pray. The Lord may want you to restore it, serving as a witness of God’s love and longsuffering. But we are not called to be doormats, abused, manipulated, controlled, betrayed and the like. Also, be careful because false friends will offer false repentance—like Ahab—and just continue repeating the same sins against you. You are commended to forgive seven times 70 and beyond but reconciliation is not mandatory.

Break unhealthy soul ties you may have formed with false friends, refuse to give into their emotional tactics, and stand on the Word of God, walking in love and being slow to speak—and pray for them. If you do this, you’ll remain blameless in the sight of God and will free the Holy Spirit to bring conviction so they will either repent or exit your life peaceably.


False Friendships

False Friendships!

False friends. The Bible has plenty to say about them—and you’ve probably had one or two yourself. Of course, you probably didn’t know they were false when you first befriended them or you wouldn’t have put yourself through the grief!

In my role as a life coach and counselor, I’ve met my fair share of false friends. They usually walk in my life with a big smile on their face, suggesting they can lift my load, open new doors or be a confidential sounding board. I’ve fallen for it once or twice, but after getting a third-degree friendship burn, I learned how to spot false friends from a mile away.

I’m not flowing in suspicion, mind you. I’m operating out of discerning of spirits and what I’ve learned from past experience. I also lean heavily on the Word of God, which, as I mentioned, has plenty to say about the topic. Here are at least five ways to discern false friends.

1. False friends bear rotten fruit. 

“Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruit. Do men gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit. But a corrupt tree bears evil fruit” (Matt. 7:15-17).

This verse mentions false prophets, but you can identify a false friend with a fruit inspection just the same. False friends make a lot of promises but don’t do the works to back up their words. False friends may tell you what you want to hear with words smooth as butter (Ps. 55:21) to get on your good side because they want something from you, but when you need them, they are nowhere to be found.

2. False friends betray your trust and stab you in the back. 

The Bible says faithful are the wounds of a friend (Prov. 27:6), but that’s in the context of a friend correcting an error in your life that you can’t see. Sort of like iron sharpening iron. That’s a lot different from someone who speaks cruel words behind your back or betrays your confidence.

That’s painful, and David knew it all too well: “Yes, my own close friend, in whom I trusted, who ate of my bread, has lifted up the heel against me” (Ps. 41:9). And let’s not forget that Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss (Luke 22:47-48).

3. False friends won’t respect your godly boundaries. 

False friends don’t have any respect for your boundaries or your morals. They don’t care if you’ve set your heart to study the Word every night or get up early in the morning to pray. They will tempt you to spend your time in ways that do not glorify God. Take Paul’s advice: “Do not be so deceived and misled! Evil companionships (communion, associations) corrupt and deprave good manners and morals and character” (1 Cor.15:33, AMP).

4. False friends won’t show you kindness when you’re in need. 

The Bible says not to withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do it (Prov. 3:27). Many times, when we’re going through a trial, we need kindness. Kindness is a fruit of the Spirit, and any friend operating in the fruit of the Spirit will show you kindness in a time of need. But false friends don’t have your best interest at heart, and they won’t offer genuine kindness. Job 6:14 puts it this way, “A despairing man should be shown kindness from his friend, or he forsakes the fear of the Almighty” (MEV).

5. False friends bring strife and division into your life.

 Proverbs 16:26-28 warns, “An ungodly man digs up evil, and in his lips there is as a burning fire. A perverse man sows strife, and a whisperer separates the best of friends.” False friends bring drama and bad blood into your relationships with them and with other people. If someone is nothing but drama or is working to separate you from good friends who love you, take caution.

Those are just a few characteristics of false friends. You may think of others. Thank God, He sends us good friends and those we should treasure. Proverbs 27:9 tells us, “Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart, so does the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel.” Proverbs 18:24 speaks of a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 17:17 reveals how a friend loves at all times.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 tells us: “Two are better than one, because there is a good reward for their labor together. For if they fall, then one will help up his companion.” And Hebrews 10:24-25 admonishes us: “And let us consider how to spur one another to love and to good works. Let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but let us exhort one another, especially as you see the Day approaching.”

I don’t know about you, but those are the kinds of friends I want. Amen?