To live a victorious life we must know our enemy and understand our personal weaknesses.
Military leaders study the strategies of their enemy as they prepare to defeat them. Sports coaches watch recordings of the opposing team to learn their strengths and weaknesses. We, too, must know our enemy and where he is going to try and defeat us.
Most of us who are followers of Christ know who our enemy is. But often we are unprepared for his attacks because we don’t understand our own personal weaknesses.
It helps to spend time reflecting on life to see where we failed and how the enemy got the best of us in the past. Then, with God’s help, as we recognize theses areas of weakness we can guard from future attacks.
This blog ministry is dedicated to reaching women who are hurting in some way.
I’m struggling to find words that will minister to you because I’m in need myself.
These last two months have been incredibly busy for our family and business. All good, but none the less, I pushed myself past physical, mental and emotional exhaustion to complete spiritual emptiness.
Instead of sharing lame words of encouragement I will ask for your prayers.
As a part of my morning devotions I focus on a particular step as it relates to the month on the calendar.
October is Step 10…
Continued to take personal inventory and, when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
Anyone who has planted a garden knows the work required to keep it healthy. We must remove rocks and weeds, nourish the soil, plant the seeds, water them and then guard them from bugs. Most gardens once belonged to the weeds first before we began planting other flowers or vegetation. And those weeds want their space back and are willing to fight for it. Continuous care is needed to keep the garden free of weeds that will take over if allowed.
The life of recovery is much like that garden. Our lives were once ruled by weeds, our addictive habits and unhealthy behaviors. But Praise God, He has planted a new garden in our life. He pulled all the weeds and instead has planted some beautiful things in their place. He has used the 12 Steps as tools and has showed us how to do things differently. But we mustn’t let our guard down. As long as we live, we will have the weeds, our past behaviors, trying to creep back in. That is why Step 10 is critical. We must be diligent and continually take personal inventory to see if we have allowed any old habits to sneak back into our lives.*
So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:12
*Excerpts taken from The Twelve Steps for Christians.
“The nature of human beings is to be inactive unless influenced by some affection; love or hatred, desire, hope, fear, etc. These affections are the ‘spring of action,’ the things that set us moving in our lives, that move us to engage in activities.” ~ Jonathan Edwards
Our heart affections, desires and dreams, determine our actions; which in turn, will determine our future. But without our will being put in place to take action these desires and dreams never take life.
For as she thinks in her heart, so is she.~ Proverbs 23:7
The actions of our will are a barometer, a visual side effect, of the deeper, inner affections of our heart and soul. Good or bad, what our heart desires can and will come about. This is why it is critical that we guard what’s in our hearts.
As a child of the Most High God, we are privy to something very special — His Favor.
The Bible tells us:
…the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless ~ Psalm 84:11
Now you may be asking, “How can I have a blameless walk? I’m only human.”
God doesn’t expect us to do that ‘blameless walking’ all by our self. There is no way we could do that in our own power. We would fail every time. But when we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, God The Father, sees us through Christ, as blameless. When we give everything to Him, when we put Him first in all we think, do or say, He will honor that and bestow the favor and honor spoken of in that Scripture.
Well, I like to take it a step further…
I see God’s favor sort of like a spaceship force-field. It surrounds me completely. It goes before me wherever I’m going, preparing the way, opening the door, touching those I will meet, so that I have favor in all that I do.
The key is to look for it—expectantly. Not in an arrogant way, but knowing that as children of The King we are special not because of who we are, but because of whose we are!
For You, LORD, bless the righteous one; you surround [her] with favor like a shield. ~Psalm 5:12 HCSB
Father God, thank You that I’m Your child and you have surrounded me with Your Force-Field of Favor. Help me to see Your hand in all I do so that I may glorify you Name.
As an avid bird watcher, I regularly put out feeders to attract birds. The problem is, not only do I attract birds, but the squirrels end up eating more seed than the birds.
After spending countless dollars feeding more squirrels than birds, I finally decided to take on the battle. I invested in a “Squirrel-Proof” feeder that actually did what it advertised — allowed the birds to have full reign of their food.
Thinking the birds and I had won the victory, I soon discovered the Styrofoam cooler, where I stored the bird seed on the patio, had small holes gnawed in it. Drat. Those pesky squirrels had gotten past my special feeder and found the main stash!
I dashed to the garage for our hard plastic ice chest and put the remaining seed in it. Take that squirrels!
Well, if you’ve ever battled with squirrels, you know what’s coming…
Yes, it wasn’t long before the hard plastic ice chest had holes gnawed through it, too. Those squirrels knew where the food was and were determined to get fed. Alas, I moved my seed stash to the garage. If the squirrels found it there, I was in real trouble!
How hungry are you? Are you pushing through any barrier to be fed?
Now, like infants at the breast, drink deep of God’s pure kindness. Then you’ll grow up mature and whole in God. ~ 1 Peter 2:2 MSG
Step 9: Made direct amends to people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Step 9 is a culmination of the forgiveness process: forgiving ourselves and others, receiving forgiveness from God and others. But before we can forgive ourselves fully, we must first acknowledge the pain others have suffered because of our actions. Once through this process we will be closer to our goal of peace with ourselves and peace with others.
By taking inventory with Step 4 we’ve purged ourselves of hidden secrets and wrongs doings but maintained balance by looking for the good as well. In Step 5 we pressed through the shame confessing our faults to another person. Now armed with the list of persons we harmed from Step 8, we prepare to personally make amends for the things we have done.
There are going to be people that we can’t make amends to for various reasons, but where possible we must take this important step. A commitment to changed behavior can be an acceptable substitute when personal contact to make amends isn’t appropriate.
While painful and difficult, the amends process is critical in the healing process. Prayerfully seek God’s wisdom and discernment before making amends. Phone calls and letters are perfectly acceptable ways of making contact when face to face isn’t possible.
Some basic guidelines:
Pray. Turn your anxiety over to God.
Keep a loving attitude toward yourself and the person you’re contacting.
Know what you want to say. Keep it simple. Avoid details.
Take responsibility for your actions. Don’t make it about them.
Manage your expectations regarding the other person’s response.
Remember God is a God of restoration. He will give you just the right words and timing to say what needs to be said. Give it all to Him!
If you take your gift to the altar and remember your brother has something against you, leave your gift on the altar. Go and make right what is wrong between you and him. Then come back and give your gift. ~ Matthew 5:23-24 New Life Version
Friends are special people, they are chosen; not in someone’s life by accident. Friends don’t force themselves on you when you want to be alone. Friends keep promises.
Loneliness and lack of social supports are linked to an increased risk of disease and higher mortality rates. So it stands to reason that good friendships enhance an individual’s sense of happiness and overall well-being.
Enter Social Networking.
As of January 2011 and after only seven years in existence, Facebook has more than 600 million active users with the average user having 130 friends.
A conservative estimate shows there are over 4,000 active networks.There’s MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter, Ning, Flickr and the list goes on. Yet with all our social technology advances, Americans have been suffering a loss of close friendships since at least 1985; and today few have any real confidants.
Modern friendships have lost the importance and the meaning they once had.
Do you have hundreds of Facebook friends but still feel lonely?
Most of us love introducing our best friends to others. Let me share mine with you…
Growing up a sexual abuse victim, a promiscuous teen who grew up to become an abuser; I felt totally unworthy of God’s love. But the Bible tells us it is the goodness of God that calls us to repentance.
Of these three: the friendship of God, the personal touch of Christ and the conviction of the Holy Spirit; it is the friendship of God that has been most significant to my life. It was the most healing thing for me to discover, that no matter what I had done, God really did love me!
There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. ~ John 15:13
The evidence that having a friend is good for our health more than applies here. But we need more than a Facebook friend to help us make it through our daily struggles. Whatever our problems are we can bring them to The Friend of Sinners. What better BFF to have than Jesus!
Do you feel unworthy of God’s love, unable to come to Him because of things you’ve done?
Please allow me to pray for you…
Father God, I want to pray for my friend reading this right now. Thank you that you’ve brought her to this place. I ask for the Holy Spirit to touch her heart, so that she can know without a doubt that Jesus is her Friend. Amen.
This summer I attended a women’s workshop to wrap up of the Christian Virtues class I took in the Spring. For one of the exercises, we paired up with a partner to practice sharing and listening skills. The goal was for the sharer to communicate a problem to the listener, who would then reflect back the problem and if possible, help solve it. The partners then switched roles and repeated the exercise with a different scenario. Some scenarios were fictional, but my partner, Sue, and I chose to use situations taken from our lives.
The situation I chose to share was from a pivotal and extremely difficult time in the 1990’s. When it happened I never shared my personal pain with anyone. Instead, I hid my pain, allowing the enemy to pull me into a downward spiral that lasted more than a decade, nearly costing me my marriage and my family.
During the workshop sharing exercise, Sue heard my pain without judgement, then gently offered me guidance and God’s love. More than fifteen years after the fact, I learned a valuable lesson:
If I would have done this years ago, I could have saved myself and my family lots of heartache!
LISTENER and SHARER
Both are important roles we will play several times in our lives with various friends and family members.
How good are we at listening? Most of us not good at all.
How good are we at sharing our feelings and pain? Not much better.
How can we improve? Practice.
God loves us and puts the right people in our lives at just the right time. The challenge is to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, so we can recognize the person who needs our listening ear or feel that gentle nudge when it’s time to share our own struggles.
By internalizing our pain to avoid embarrassment today, we may set ourselves up for future suffering.
We must be willing to share our pain, open up our vulnerabilities and risk bring judged in order to receive potential inner healing.
Don’t go thru your pain alone!
Look around. Reach out… God has given you a friend who will understand and walk with you.
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.~Proverbs 17:17 NKJV