Staying Focus: Video Lesson

Back in the beginning of October, I wrote a post about what God had been convicting me of in August and September of this year.  I was encouraged to try to do a video series about what God’s been teaching me, there is something great about getting to hear tone of voice and see a person’s disposition that I believe was missing from my writing.  Writing and words can seem so harsh, and that’s not what I desire to convey here – a harsh message of truth without the love and encouragement of Christ.

 

Bible verses mentioned in video:

“Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above (the heavenly things), not things that are on the earth (which have only temporal value).”  Colossians 3:2 (AMP)

“Blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked [following their advice and example],

Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit [down to rest] in the seat of [b]scoffers (ridiculers).

But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And on His law [His precepts and teachings] he [habitually] meditates day and night.
 
And he will be like a tree firmly planted [and fed] by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season;
Its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers [and comes to maturity].

 
The wicked [those who live in disobedience to God’s law] are not so,
But they are like the chaff [worthless and without substance] which the wind blows away.
 
Therefore the wicked will not stand [unpunished] in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
 
For the Lord knows and fully approves the way of the righteous,
But the way of the wicked shall perish.”  Psalm 1:1-5 (AMP)

Let your eyes look directly ahead [toward the path of moral courage]
And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you [toward the path of integrity].”  Proverbs 4:25 (AMP)

“For those who are living according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh [which gratify the body], but those who are living according to the Spirit, [set their minds on] the things of the Spirit [His will and purpose].”  Romans 8:5 (AMP)

“Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable andworthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely andbrings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, thinkcontinually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].”  Philippians 4:8 (AMP)

“You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both inclination and character],

Because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation].”  Isaiah 26:3 (AMP)

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you [who are willing to learn] with My eye upon you.”  Psalm 32:8 (AMP)

The [intrinsically] good woman ( text says man) produces what is good and honorable and moral out of the good treasure[stored] in his heart; and the [intrinsically] evil woman (man)produces what is wicked and depraved out of the evil [in his heart]; for her mouth speaks from the overflow of her heart.”  Luke 6:45 (AMP)

How blessed and favored by God are those whose way is blameless [those with personal integrity, the upright, the guileless],
Who walk in the law [and who are guided by the precepts and revealed will] of the Lord.”  Psalm 119:1 (AMP)

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Giving Thanks When its the Last Thing You Want to Do

Happy Thanksgiving sweet reader!  I’m hoping that today is finding you well, and has been a long awaited, wonderful blessing for you.  I’m supposed to make a cherry pie this morning, but wanted to drop in and post a brief note of encouragement to you.

I’m sorry for the absence and delay of the promised next post.

We’ve been having computer issues, and actually had to take our computer in to get it fixed, so tomorrow I will post on the character of Abigail.  The computer place we went to was a trusted company that’s been in our city for years, one that my dad even used to go to when we had computer problems growing up.  Unfortunately, our computer anti-virus software had been over-rided (if that’s the right word), and we had many viruses and malware that was removed by the technician.  It was hard to feel thankful (even though I obviously am) when we got it back yesterday – I feel so vulnerable and exposed, being thankful feels like a distant memory.

But God tells us to,

“Always be joyful.  Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances…” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

When things are going all wrong, don’t stop praying.  When your reputation is being maliciously slandered, don’t stop being thankful for it.

As I’ve mentioned before, in the post about Malicious Joy, thanking God for the trials that you go through, especially when you are doing a good work for Him, Redeems those trials.

There are blessings even in the hardships if you continue to look for them.

I was prevented from posting for days because of our computer issues, but in and during that time, God refreshed my spirit and even gave me 6 more ideas to post on that will be coming soon.

Even though I’ve seen posts written criticizing my compassion for other people, or my authenticity with my readers, or my ability to admit fault (which I freely admit my shortcomings to anyone, especially those of you who know me in real life), even though I’m being “cursed,” God is blessing.

Even though I shouldn’t be writing – my computer was so infected it actually completely stopped working – even though I shouldn’t be joyful in light of these circumstances – I am still writing, and with every word, God is lifting my joy and even thankfulness!

Our attitudes often mysteriously align with our actions.  So with my actions, even though I didn’t truly feel like it, I’m choosing to thank God this Thanksgiving.

No matter what trials you’re going through, dear reader, be thankful for what you do have.  Be thankful for any of the gifts in your life, they are all graciously and generously given to us from our loving Father who wants so much to bless us!

 

Happy Thanksgiving, and may you truly find happiness in it today.

 

Bold Love – Responding to Fools

Back in 2006, my mom bought me a book that had changed the way she saw things, a rare find that she felt was actually biblical 100% of the way through, it was Dr. Dan B. Allender & Dr. Tremper Longman III’s book, Bold Love.

This is a fascinating and intellectually stimulating book on how to love like Jesus Christ did – not passive or nice, but unpredictable, cunning, and sometimes offensive in how it causes a person to come to face with the reality of their depravity – and forces them to look at the evil they do, to feel the pain that is designed to help that person deal with their patterns of diseased sin that is damaging the way they relate to other people.

One of the things I enjoyed about this book when I first read it, is that it confronts a wife’s capacity to sin (and sin greatly) against her husband.  So often women are viewed as only being capable of goodness and purity, however, as a woman, I will be the first to tell you that I believe we are capable of severely evil acts against others – I myself, have done and said things I deeply regret.  I am constantly on a path of trying to allow God to convict me and show me where I need to change unhealthy patterns, or in how I respond to foolish or evil people.  But I’ve often found that women in our society, are often given an out, given an excuse for their depravity, “Oh, he caused you to do (fill in the blank).  If he hadn’t pushed you to that point, you wouldn’t have had to do (fill in the blank).”  This kind of response is of course, ridiculous, and doesn’t force the woman to deal with the fact that no matter what someone did to provoke her, she is still responsible for her reactions.  She is still called to react like Christ, no matter the initial offense or how deeply wrong she feels.

Bold Love covers many topics, but one I truly love is how a foolish person (woman or man) is capable of hating knowledge – hating to face the facts of the depravity of their own heart so much, that they bypass a deeper relationship with God and the chance to become a different person than they were.

When you allow God’s knowledge and truth to shine light on the way you’ve been acting in diseased depravity of your sins, you become changed – and you will NEVER quite be the same again.  The knowledge literally transforms you, because all knowledge is connected to God – it comes from God.

The foolish woman or man, hates the knowledge of their sin, and cringes or reacts in a flood of anger at it being called out; whereas a wise person acknowledges the knowledge of their sinful depravity, feels remorse, and works to deal with it, in order to change.  A fool takes steps back in spiritual growth, whereas a wise person earnestly tries to allow God to move them forward.

Fools automatically go into assault/attack mode when faced with the reality of their sinful heart or actions.  It is easy to spot because they easily fall into rude or abusive humor, slinging insults, and doubling down on insisting people know “their side” of what happened.

Unless they are at what Dr. Allender calls a “vulnerable point” of remorse, or forced to feel “the piercing exposure of shame,” a fool’s hope for redemption is honestly slim.  It is second nature for them to feel an increased, ungodly rage when a person points out their failures (past or present), and they are almost incapable of achieving real, lasting change from their old behavior.  Lasting change requires an admittance that what they were (or are) behaving like, is wrong.  The best tactic to forcing a fool to see their own actions is exposure that causes them shame.

“Expose with a mood that is matter-of-fact, strong, and benevolent.  Such a mood is like passing a red cape before an enraged bull; it will incite and intensify the fury.  When we “set up” the fool for further exposure, as the Lord did with the rich young ruler and the woman at the well, we set ourselves up for attack.  We need to be prepared to move out of the way with a light step.  This is the most difficult principle to describe because it requires such freedom of heart to operate with spontaneity, humor, and power.”

Exposure must be designed to leave the fool ultimately alone, so that they can face God with the shame of their reaction.  A foolish man or woman will never repent unless they feel pain.  And genuine pain only comes from truly acknowledging the depravity of their actions, but that pain produces beauty.

The authors have many more tenants for setting up a fool, for having boundaries and consequences set in place, all so that the foolish person is forced to deal with their own foolish behavior.  Oftentimes, your reaction must be the opposite of what they would expect, because in many ways, our own reactions enable the sinful behavior of the fools we have to deal with.  By surprising them with unexpected behavior or an unanticipated reaction they thought they’d get from us, we violate a sense of their being all-knowing or in control.

“Consequences must have a bite.”  In dealing with a foolish person, sometimes the best thing is to show kindness at just the right moment where it surprises them and knocks them off guard.  However, more often with a foolish person, the consequence has to be a “natural consequence,” that they don’t enjoy having to deal with.

Tomorrow I will write on an example of a husband dealing appropriately with a wife who is mean-spirited.

 

Malicious Joy – Schadenfreude

In our Joy study this week, we came across the concept that I’ve thought of many times in life, it was the concept of Schadenfreude.

Schadenfreude is a German word that literally means “malicious joy.”  It is also defined as feeling great pleasure when someone encounters misfortune; misfortune meaning anything negative that they are going through: trials in their life, their kids not doing well, drama they have with other people, illness they may acquire, injuries they may get either physically or psychological harm.  I’ve seen some definitions that put forth that it’s synonym is “bullying.”  True, bullies enjoy hurting someone, but bullying can also be to enjoy watching someone be hurt by someone else.

The study guide asked us to reflect and consider when we’ve been tempted to feel this malicious kind of joy at seeing another person’s misfortune.  I’m so grateful that through God’s grace, I have never felt this for anyone… I was a little taken aback that the authoress brought it up in our study about Joy.  Its so anti-godly, anti-Christian behavior.  But low and behold, in the week devoted to understanding what robs us of our joy, there was the example of Schadenfreude.  I have spent a lot of time trying to understand why someone might experience joy or anticipation of someone else’s suffering.  To me, this is possibly one of the worst things a person can allow themselves to feel toward another human being.  It is akin to envy, but much more evil and darker, and I don’t believe people are even aware when they are doing it.  According to philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, schadenfreude is the most evil sin of human feeling, he is quoted famously saying “To feel envy is human, to savor schadenfreude is diabolic.”

Having malicious joy at another person’s misfortune is Satanic and demonic.  It’s ungodly, the opposite of what God would want us to feel toward another, and yet, I’ve seen communities where Christians engage in it all the time, and feel very entitled to it’s wicked pleasure.

Blogging online has opened my world to see and experience things that I have rarely experienced before I started writing this blog, especially in the way of the trolling (passive aggressive or outright aggression) I’ve received over the two years of blogging.
It’s especially awakened me to the negative feedback or attacks I’ve witnessed other bloggers receive for merely existing on the internet with their opinion.  I’ve seen people undergo smear campaigns where a group of accusers ganged up on one person in order to try to get them to stop blogging.  The blogger’s offense?  Something very minor that the group believes is worthy of their harassment.

I’ve seen a group of people be used by Satan in lying about someone, revealing their private personal information to the general public, and even revealing information about their precious children – their names and ages and where they lived or went to school.  I’ve even seen this same group of people claim that they were the victims, and that the people they cyber-harassed should apologize to them.

While others have had it much worse, the most vicious feedback I have experienced personally, has been sadly from fellow Christian brothers and sisters, people who even admitted to me later, their enjoyment of watching my attackers verbally abuse me online.  It’s Schadenfreude spectatorship.  And it’s been a very eye-opening experience seeing the depth that even Christian brothers and sisters can go when they are alone, anonymous, and behind a computer screen.

I had a young woman, a mother of three little boys, tell me outright that she actually enjoyed watching a man verbally abuse me online, calling me names and slandering me in every way he could imagine.  This same man still slanders me to this day, and yet believes he is representing Christ.  The young woman told me she thought I deserved his treatment because of how I tried to defend myself against his slander.  God convicted her that the Schadenfreude in her heart, her enjoyment of my mistreatment, was evil, ungodly behavior, and from Satan.  She actually apologized to me, and I was given the chance to tell her I forgave her.

There’s Hope.

If you’ve experienced verbal abuse or cyber-harassment (bullying) online, don’t let it steal your joy, and whatever you do, don’t try to counter-attack your attacker, as it never works, and only adds fuel to the fire.  Defend when you can, but sometimes the battles are too complicated, false witnesses rise up to tell lies against you, or the online environment too hostile for one person to defend themselves, that the only right thing to do is to walk away.

Don’t try to counter-attack your attacker, it only adds fuel to the fire.

I’ve also seen that people can be so confused as to the truth, especially when someone gives false witness of what happened, that they mentally block out any explanation you would even try to give to clear up the confabulations.  Focusing on the ordeal will steal your joy, and trying to clear up matters that people have chosen to misunderstand is a futile waste of one’s precious time.

Instead, we should be focusing on pursuing what God wants us to pursue, and this gives one a peace that surpasses understanding, the ability to even offer kindness and joy to our offenders that amazes and astonishes them.

When you’re able to ignore slander, and all kinds of insults or verbal abuse thrown at you from a person or group of people, you grow in a beautiful way.

***

This doesn’t mean that it doesn’t take a long time for you to get to that point.  I’ve only recently begun to realize a few months ago, how much focusing on these things was taking me away from my purpose, and stealing my peace of mind and joy – things that my children depend on me protecting for their own benefit!  But I understand the strong temptation to counter-attack or waste time fighting back in detrimental ways.

Recently this past weekend, one of my husband’s fellow Officers was hit by a drunk driver.  Amazingly, the crash didn’t kill him like so many others, however one of his legs were shattered.

My husband saw the news article online, as well as the usual derogatory comments Police Officers tend to get, however, this time he saw one of his fellow Officer friends commenting online, trying to defend the friend that was injured.  This is something they never try to do, no matter how bad the slander and insults get!  Defending against commenters online who feel emboldened by their anonymity, and get away with saying anything would only be a torturous ordeal for them.  He told me he was going to counsel this younger man, and help him understand that there is NOTHING he can say to combat the cyber-harassment people do online when they think they’re anonymous, and when they have no real life consequences.

Photo Credit Sarah Rahman

Photo Credit Sarah Rahman

These men and women are used to the verbal abuse they receive daily, people tell them things that would make a normal citizen faint or want to violently counter-attack the person.  But watching people enjoy this Officers pain and joke about the way he was injured must have gotten to this man.  And I’ll admit it, the anti-police rhetoric I’ve seen from Christians in online communities has devastated me in the past.  I’ve tried argue that not all of the police officers are bad, only to receive more insults and slander against them, even against my own husband.

We must forgive those who engage in Schadenfreude.

I know that sounds like a hard pill to swallow, but it’s crucial to not letting it steal our joy.  Forgive them, warn against them as Paul did of the men who caused him great harm, even turn them over to Satan as Paul said he did of Alexander and Hymenaeus.  Wash your hands of them so that you can continue on doing a good work for God, not being distracted by their enjoyment of doing evil or causing others harm.

Put boundaries around yourself.

Don’t read the slanderous comments or the passive aggressive posts if they start to steal your joy.  Try your best to ignore the accusations and attacks that are based on ignorance, and forgive the people who foolishly believe the false witnesses.

I’ve found that the best thing is to depend on God for your sustenance, and to bless those who curse you, bless those who insult you, and to know that God sees everything, and promises to repay those who do evil against you.

Thank God for it.

I know it sounds backwards and insane, thanking God for something that is so painful and potentially reputation-ruining, but thanking God for the insults you receive, the lies spread about you, the false witnesses encouraging others to believe wrong things, changes the circumstances.  Thanking God for these things, Redeems them.  It’s acknowledging in your heart that God can even use this to grow you, to make you more like Him, and to work good in your life.

Thanking God for receiving verbal abuse, or feeling other’s malicious joy at your misfortunes also redeems back your joy in life, and protects your mind and spirit from becoming bitter.

Love others, do what is right, forgive those who cause you harm, and thank God for it.

Blessings!