Tis the season for Holy Week – celebrating the last week of Jesus’ life, here on earth, before dying on the cross and rising again, in glory. So many of us get to hear, once again, about Judas Iscariot, who is famous for one thing – betraying Jesus.
Though Judas did not look like this, I picked this picture because it shows the pensiveness Judas had, but also his look of being lost in himself and in darkness.
My husband gave a joint-sermon tonight, (in April) with our Head Pastor, during our church’s Maundy Thursday service.
They focused on characters of the Biblical narrative of the Last Supper – Jesus, Peter, and Judas.
As the monologue of the character Judas began to unfold, I found Judas more and more relatable to people I know in this time.
In this monologue, Judas admits, “I bring pride and greed to the table,” (the catch-phrase used in their sermon).
However, what caught my attention most, was not that, but what came after. Judas was prideful and greedy, but he didn’t guard his heart.
He was with Jesus through His entire ministry – witnessing miracles, hearing Jesus teach, etc. – and he still was prey to Satan’s attacks, because he didn’t guard his heart. He didn’t overcome the attacks of the enemy, because he didn’t have true faith in Christ.
The scary part is yet to come.
Judas can be equated to so-called Christians today who claim Christ’s name, but don’t play the game.
I mean, they talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk with Jesus. They attend church, to make an appearance, or simply for a personal agenda.
The everyday Judas walks among us, lukewarm, stagnant, struggling, and prey to Satan’s attacks.
Do you know an everyday Judas? Reach out to them today and make sure they know the true meaning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, as their Lord and Savior. Make sure they know the true meaning of Easter.
Do you know those Christians who talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk? Those Christians that claim to know what God says in His word, but don’t follow it? That my friends is the problem with Jonah.
Our community group, a.k.a. small group, from church, is currently studying the book of Jonah. We are going through the study of Jonah by Eric Mason, on RightNow Media, and it is amazing to me the insights that are brought up (1).
There are many aspects of Jonah’s real-life story I didn’t catch onto before.
For example, when Jonah is directly asked by God to go to Nineveh, and share God’s message to them, he ran away. He spent a “fare” to board a ship, to go about 2,000 miles in the opposite direction God had told him to go. This could mean he spent a small fortune to rent the boat simply for himself to run away.
Jonah thought he could run away from God.
God sends a great storm to get Jonah’s attention and what does he do? He hides the fact that he is the one God is after, and waits until the mariners figure it out, before admitting the truth.
Jonah would rather die in the sea than repent for his disobedience to God. He even tries to convince the mariners on the ship to do it for him, so they would be guilty of his death.
God sends a great fish to swallow Jonah, giving him another chance to repent. God could have let Jonah die at sea, but instead gives him more time to repent.
However, Eric Mason points out, if you look at this prayer, there are many “I’s, me’s, and my’s” in there. Even in Jonah’s prayer, he wasn’t repentant, he was seeking his own desires, even blaming God for throwing him into the sea (1).
It takes Jonah three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, to finally cry out to God in prayer.
” For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all your waves and your billows passed over me. “
Jonah 2:3 ESV
God has given Jonah so many chances to be obedient, and do what God specifically asked him to do. Even when he finally delivers the message, he is angry Nineveh is not punished.
He has no compassion for an entire people group (Israel’s enemies), and would rather die than see God be merciful and compassionate on them (2).
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”
Luke 6:46–49 ESV
It is easy to point the finger and blame others for acting like Jonah. You probably can think of at least a hand-full of people who are guilty of pride, a lack of mercy or compassion, and who probably deserve God’s wrath and punishment as well.”
Yet, how many of us are just as guilty? How many of us still haven’t repented of our disobedient and rebellious hearts?
Our actions flow from our true beliefs.
“The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
Luke 6:45 ESV
If we truly believe God is the omniscient (all knowing), omnipotent (all powerful), omnipresent (present everywhere), merciful God, who is love – why don’t we obey? Stop running from God and repent of your sin today. Don’t waste another second.
Mason, Eric. “The Book of Jonah.” Video Bible Study. RightNow Media, 2017.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jonah). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
Are you tired of drowning in fear? Fear of anything…of dying, losing the ones you love, being broke financially, and of countless other things? Read on, and break the cycle of fear!
You are not alone. Many, many people, including myself, live in fear on a day-to-day basis. From personal experience, I feel like I am fighting a battle, to fear or not to fear, 24/7.
You may ask, “How can you be a Christian, yet you live in fear so much of the time?” The answer – because the Devil uses fear to trap us in his clutches.
Fear is the opposite of faith – it is considered the absence or suppression of faith (my own definition). If you are afraid, you are not trusting God will….you fill in the blank.
The following passage is from Paul’s second letter to Timothy, his mentee:
“5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. 6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, 7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
2 Timothy 1:5–7 ESV
Paul is reminding Timothy of his own “sincere faith,” not piddly, little, wimpy faith – sincere means “honest”, “pure” and “true” (Mish, Frederick C. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition).
The Devil likes to make us think our faith isn’t good enough – so we give into the deception that we need to be afraid of what we lack, instead of having faith in God to provide it.
If we would stop focusing on the lousiness of our sinful selves, and more on the incredible, omnipotent (all-powerful) God, we wouldn’t need to live in fear of anything.
Fear comes from doubt in God’s ability to take care of us, our needs, and our desires. I am as guilty of this as anyone. I struggle to let God have full reign over my life, and not take control myself.
This is the ultimate deception – do we really have any control in the first place? We like to think so, but I dare to say we have none. God is all-powerful, and we are simply along for the ride, to give Him all the glory He deserves.
That my sound selfish to most of you, but the reality is, He’s God, and He deserves everything we are and everything we possess, because everything is a gift from God.
“4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. “
Ephesians 2:4–10 ESV
When you understand God’s gifts of life, salvation, of grace and mercy, of provision and care for us – then you will be firm in your faith, to escape the Devil’s snare of fear – and live victoriously, through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen!!
Are you someone who wonders, “How did I get into this relationship in the first place?”
Some relationships are like that, because they are toxic.
Recently, I have been observing current and past relationships in which one spouse dominates the other, in a toxic way.
In the Christian community, men like to through the word submission around to mean many different things.
What it is actually talking about is “humble obedience” on the part of the married woman, in the marriage. It is a choice she makes, not a weapon for the man to use against her.
I know there is the stigma only men are abusive, and women can be too. But this post is directly talking about three real-life examples I have recently observed.
With that said, I do believe submission is important in a marriage, but not to the point of killing the essence of who God created the wife to be.
Her unique beauty, gifts, passions, goals, etc. She is just as much a magnificent creation of God, and should be treated as such.
What the Bible Says…
God calls husbands to lay down their lives for their wives, just as Christ has done for the church (Eph. 5:25). This puts submission into it’s true intent, to submit to Christ, and to each other (Eph. 5:21), as Christ did for us, as the body of Christ.
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
…submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.“
Ephesians 5:15-30 ESV
Now that we have looked at what God says in His word about this, let’s get to the heart of the issue.
Toxic relationships exist because of one thing – sin. Pride, selfishness, power struggle, pornography, abuse, neglect, gossip, refusing to meet the needs of your spouse or family, for your own selfish gain, etc.
BOLD & Beautiful
The list of sins is endless, and so is the number of toxic relationships out there.
If you are in a toxic relationship, whether it be a dating or married relationship, you are not alone. But you are not doing yourself or your spouse any favors by staying quiet about it.
BOLD & Beautiful
Whether it be verbal, mental, emotional, physical, sexual abuse, or neglect, it is toxic.
Abuse is NEVER Okay
God never wants people to get hurt, even if they have made a covenant with one another in marriage.
BOLD & Beautiful
Abuse should never be tolerated, and is never deserved by the victim. If you are made to feel like everything is your fault – you are in a toxic relationship. Please get help before it turns into more severe abuse.
Don’t let yourself be isolated!!!!!
This is the first step controlling abusers take before they really show their true colors. That way, the victim doesn’t feel like they have a way out – which isn’t true, but the abuser wants them to believe it whole-heartedly.
Keep your friends close and your family! If they disapprove of your relationship, there is probably a good reason for it.
LISTEN!!!!! Don’t tune them out!!!!!
The three examples I am referring to, (two currently married, one now divorced) wouldn’t listen. They rushed into their marriages, allowed themselves to be isolated, and have kept silent…suffering in silence…
Let me tell you another story. There was a lady I used to know, from Mexico. She was married and had two sons. For years, she suffered abuse from her husband, and eventually fled to the U.S.A., with her sons, for safety.
However, she never divorced. She stayed separated for seven years. Do you know what God did? He restored their marriage! The husband became a Christian and their marriage was restored, and she forgave him.
This is possible, but no, this does not happen for everyone.
I include this real-life example, because so many people are quick to divorce, because they crave another relationship to fill the void of the last one.
God does address these issues, yes.
But I challenge you to heal first, to pursue peace and healing from our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Don’t be a martyr of abuse.
Don’t let your low self-esteem, fear of what may happen, and feelings of failure keep you in a toxic relationship.
If you couldn’t tell by my previous two posts, stress must be the theme lately.
Is anyone else feeling the pressure of the impending school year inevitably approaching?
Rowdy kids, who are tired of being home, stressed out moms – about to burst – and the dads who end up picking up the shrapnel when they get home from long days of work.
So what do you do, when all you can feel is the paralyzing stress of parenting, and life itself?
Press in. Press in? Yes, press into the stress.
Think of a diamond. Without pressure, a diamond would not reach it’s full potential, it would stay a lump of coal.
How do you do that?
Well, first pray.
Only God can help release your stress so you can function, change your situation for the better, and protect you from your temptations to fall into unhealthy coping techniques or act out of anger or frazzled attitudes.
Second, take a moment to breathe and think.
If it is stress with your kids, ask yourself, “What do they really need right now?” Think of what they are lacking that is making them upset.
Don’t focus on how fair their punishment is for acting that way – focus on loving them unconditionally and showing them grace.
If you don’t show them grace, don’t expect them to learn it.
My second daughter is such a challenge for me. She is so intense, full out meltdowns, screaming until she gets her way (or falls asleep – which is rare), and hurting everyone around her.
You know she needs when she does that? Snuggles and hugs! Yeah, I was surprised too. When she doesn’t feel secure, she lashes out physically, because she needs her physical needs met.
Third, lean on your support system.
If you have a spouse, let them give you a break, without blaming them for being gone or feeling guilty for needing a break.
If you are a single parent, lean on your family and friends, and even your church family. They are there to help you regroup, and in turn, be a better parent/person yourself.
…pressing into the stress usually means not letting the stress conquer you or keep you from fulfilling your purpose/potential.
Don’t undermine the role of spiritual warfare in your life.
Every time my husband needs to be gone for ministry or family, etc., my kids go bonkers!
It doesn’t matter what fun activities I have planned to distract them or bribe them with (totally didn’t think I’d bribe my kids…mommy shame…), they will not relax until he comes home.
So what is a frazzled mom to do? Press in. Press into the peace and strength that Jesus gives me, remember I love my children more than they stress me out, and not forget my husband is fulfilling his purpose.
The enemy wants me to explode, so my kids are hurt and my husband is hindered. Not today Satan!
Always remember who the real enemy is here…
“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.
In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.”
Ephesians 6:11-18a ESV
Claim the victory in Christ and press into God’s Word and the Holy Spirit. Take up your sword and shield – always be ready to fight the real enemy!
Do you ever feel like you are a shaken pop bottle, about to explode? I mean, so crammed full of emotion, you are about to burst?
So many times, it begins with one main stress.
This stress could be anything from an ongoing project you’ve been working on, and can’t wait to get done, to a difficult relationship with a friend or family member.
When this stress refuses to disappear, lingering for what may seem like a lifetime, there’s more.
The car dies.
Your kids throw the biggest temper tantrum, to date.
Your boss gives you “constructive criticism,” but really means you messed up big time.
You get that call, a family member is in the hospital.
You and your spouse get into an argument.
Stress, stress stress…shake, shake, fizz!
Pretty soon, the stress and pressure turn into numbness, absent-mindedness, and major fatigue.
Now, what is little, becomes huge! What is petty, becomes pinnacle. You holding everything in, becomes an explosion…usually causing the most innocent of casualties.
BOLD & Beautiful
So why do we do this? I know I am not the only one, who periodically goes through these cycles of bottled up emotion.
Lack of trust. That’s it? Yes, it’s that simple.
In these times, at least personally speaking, I struggle the most when I lack trust in God.
In these times, my heart is distant, rebellious, and prideful, but most of all fearful. So much so, I try to take control of my circumstances, to find some sort of security.
BOLD & Beautiful
When I stop looking to God for my peace, wisdom, provision, and guidance, my bottle sure get’s shaken up ten times faster!
I am the first to admit I’m still learning this trust lesson.
Things will be “all good,” and my “I’ll take it from here” attitude rises to the surface. I hope someday, I will finally have this lesson down.
For now, I must recommit my mind, body, and soul to God. I must recommit my time, energy, and resources to God’s will and work, not mine.
When I stop relying on God for help in every aspect of my life, I am stealing His throne, His glory, and His role in my life.
How dare I think I can outdo God! Whoa!!
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.
Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.
My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.“
Proverbs 3:5-12 ESV
God, I pray you forgive me for trying to take control of my life, on my own, and not trust you with it. You are a perfect, loving, good, and faithful God, who is trustworthy.
Please forgive me for not living Your will, and not fully depending on You as my Savior and Lord. You don’t need a sidekick, you need a servant. I love you and am so thankful to be called your child. Amen.
Are you stressed? Are you stressed about being stressed out? You’re not alone.
Everyone experiences stress many times throughout their lives. However, it is how we manage our stress that makes the biggest impact on us and those around us.
Not all stress is bad.
There is such a thing as “good stress,” such as getting married, having a baby, family coming to visit, the nerves right before a big performance, etc.
Yet, if we don’t go to God with our stress, we lose out. We fail to find peace, live fulfilling lives, and lose out on the joy God intends for us to have, every single day.
Joy is a choice, peaceful is a way of being, and both contribute to a life worth enjoying.
Joy is a choice. No matter what is happening around you, you have a choice to see it in a positive light or negative.
There is always good and bad in everything, except God. God is always good, whether or not we see Him that way all the time.
Another way of saying it, “Do you look at the glass as half empty or as half full?”
Impact of Stress
If we don’t go to God with stressful situations, or the stressful people causing them (including ourselves), we can cause unmeasurable damage to our relationships, to our productivity, and even to our own bodies.
Migraines, stomach aches, tight and sore muscles…the list goes on.
So how can we destress or successfully achieve stress management?
Go to God. Stop trying to fix it on your own.
No man-made stress technique can out pacify or calm His eternal, perfect peace.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”
1 Peter 5:6-11 NIV
Stressful People Cause Stress
Some of you may be thinking, how can I live stress free and peaceful, when I have people in my life who purposely and frequently cause chaos?
Simple, but not easy. Choose joy, and if necessary, distance yourself from them, for a time.
Pray for wisdom how to handle the situation and what to say. Remember God is with you, and only He can fix it.
“Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but those who plan peace have joy.”
Proverbs 12:20 ESV
Jesus Carries Our Burdens
Lastly, we have to lay down our burdens at Jesus’ feet. Only He can carry them.
We were never meant to carry the world on our shoulders. If that were so, we’d have much larger shoulders, haha.
On a more serious note, if we don’t humble ourselves, meaning actually admit we need God’s help and ask for it, we never reach our full potential. We never get to enjoy the “peace that surpasses all understanding” or the everlasting joy of the Lord.
“My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.
So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.”
Proverbs 3:1-8 ESV
Don’t miss out on all God has to offer you this side of Heaven. Let go and let God. Amen.
One of the deadliest toxins to marriage is nagging.
Whether it’s that honey-to-do-list, or that topic you can’t seem to agree on, nagging drives the steak into the heart of your spouse, every time.
My Own Marriage
I asked my own husband, how he views nagging. He said nagging is being “badgered,” “scolded like a child,” “it makes me want to checkout and not try anymore.”
I will be the first to admit my fault. My intention has never been to drive a wedge between my husband and I. Yet, I have succeeded in a way I never meant to, in the first place.
Nagging doesn’t produce the outcome you hope for. The reason being it may seem to get done, but in the long term, you have constantly and continually chipped away at the patience of your spouse, depleting your marriage intimacy.
What the Bible Says…
According to Scripture, an argumentative wife damages your home (Prov. 19:13; 27:15), ignites a fatal fire of strife (Prov. 26:21NIV), and it would be better for a man to live in the desert, without her, than it would be to live in a plentiful home, with her.
Yet, wives are not the only ones required to abstain from an argumentative, nagging attitude.
Anyone who intends to serve the Lord, can’t be argumentative, but instead has to “be kind to everyone, able to teach, not (be) resentful.”
2 Timothy 2: NIV
This applies to every Christian. We are not to cause fights or disagreements, but we are to seek unity, a free-conscience, and teach other to follow Christ’s example.
Servants of God cannot be successful for the kingdom of God without following His commandments and His design for relationships, and for marriage.
Couples cannot hurt their spouse verbally and not expect a disastrous consequence in return.
Loss of your marital integrity, loss of trust, loss of support and encouragement, marital abandonment, divorce, the list is endless.
What to Look For…
Yet, hope is not lost. As wives, instead of focusing on and forcing our agendas on our husbands, we can pray, be patient, and trust them to have our best interests at heart.
Ask once, and wait. Demanding is different from asking with a pure, and sincere heart.
Here’s a test: If I ask this of my husband, will this encourage him or leave him checked out, badgered, or belittled? Will he be pleased to be useful, or frustrated to be downgraded yet again?
Men nag, but women are the most guilty of doing so.
I often wonder how deeply God’s curse over Eve is related to our wish to supersede our husbands, to take over, but want him at the same time.
Reference to Genesis 3:16 NIV
This is where the root of submission was planted, because Eve thought her desires superseded God and her husband. She reaped what she planted.
What are you planting in your marriage?
Perhaps your home is full of love, trust, mercy, and forgiveness or perhaps your home is full of arguments, degradation, toxic avoidance, and fatal resentment and bitterness.
Perhaps your home, like most of us, is a combination of both.
The Love of Marriage
My charge to you is this:“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. (1Peter 4:8 NIV).”
You are married because at one time, you were deeply in love with your spouse, enough to commit yourself to them for life.
What happened to that love? Your love is still there, but has been covered up by past hurts, arguments, bitterness, lack of forgiveness and pride.
Your love for God and for one another can cover those wounds, and recover true love in your marriage today.