The Blessings of Obedience to God

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The Word of God tells us over and over again how God will bless us when we obey his commands. For some of us, that word “obey” has negative connotations. Obedience isn’t for humans. I can almost hear some saying, “what are we, dogs?” Obeying seems like something we train our pets to do. So how hard is it to accept that obeying is simply doing what God says we are to do? For those with controlling temperaments, it takes a huge dose of humility. Blessings of Obedience to God

I am a Choleric in the control area and I can tell you that God always will humble you in his time. He doesn’t want to leave you stuck and ruled by this area of your temperament. He wants you to be free to respond to his love and gift to us in Jesus with an abandon that will put aside that word “obey” and instead say “love”.

God is not telling us what to do because he has his own control issues. He has purpose and significance in everything. What he tells us to do is an act of love on his part to guide us into receiving all that he so wants to give us.

Blessings of Obedience Formula

Joshua 6:20 clearly shows us the formula that is needed for us to receive all the blessings that God wants to give us. It says, “When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city. The city this verse is talking about is Jericho. It is the city the Israelites come to after wandering 40 years in the desert. It is part of the promised land God wants to give to them. But they have to take the city. Not take the city, in their way but in God’s way.Obedience at Jericho

God instructed Joshua that the armed men were to march once around the city with the priests carrying the ark of the covenant and do this for six days. On the seventh day, they were told by God to march around the city seven times blowing their trumpets. They were told taht at the sound of the long trumpet blow after completing the seventh march around the city, they were to shout in a loud voice. This was all their part. God told them what to do and they did what God told them to do. And than, the blessings came. The wall to the city of Jericho came crumbling down and they were able to go straight into the city and take it.

This piece of history show us the straightforward formula of obedience. God commands + We obey = God’s blessing on us. 

We have to look at our own lives and ask ourselves has God been blowing the trumpet, sounding for us to do something he wants us to do? Have we heard the trumpet call? Or are we ignoring or even denying when God calls us to do something? Maybe it was an opportunity to encourage another? Or it was an opportunity to submit and be humble? Perhaps it was a call to share about Jesus and what God’s done for you to someone?

We will all fail at following every single command every day. The Old Testament is a testimony to how difficult it is to obey all of God’s commands which is why he sent us Jesus. The gift of salvation and forgiveness that only he can give. We just have to learn to respond with obedience not because we are being told to do something but because we love God.

Anxiety that You Control and Anxiety that Controls You

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Anxiety is an emotion that God has given us the capacity to have. And yet, it like other emotions can have a tendency to want to take control of you.

Anxiety is a natural response to those things in life that we consider of great value. I went through this natural anxiety because of something I value this last week. It was the first week of teaching preschool. For the last three years, I have not slept well in that first week of school. In my first two years, it was more associated with fear of what the parents and kids would think of me. It brought up my own tendency to fear rejection that is in my temperament. But in this last two years, I have also built up confidence. I have the thank you cards and gifts, the kind words of affirmation that parents give and most especially the hugs from the kids. All of these tell me that I am accepted by them, not rejected.

So, in the first week of school this year, I had the sleep issues but God showed me how I wasn’t fearing rejection as I had in the past but rather that I have ascribed high value to what I do with the kids. I want to be the best teacher and do all that God wants me to do to lay a solid foundation of faith in them along with understanding emotions, making friends and learning to love learning and accept your mistakes as a path in that learning.

This value-based anxiety is simply God reminding me to trust him with all the details and how it all comes together. No matter what you plan for preschool, you have to be flexible and allow learning to occur without the need to stick strictly to your plan. It’s always about God’s plan. God’s revelation on this helped me to let it go and give it all to him. The next night I slept and had a great day with the kids.

Anxiety that Controls You

Anxiety Under Control

Now, if I continued to focus on this worry over what I have planned and how it will go with the kids and what the parents will think, than I am giving control to the anxiety. In essence you are feeding your own worry and it becomes a bigger and bigger worry monster.  Anxiety can rule our hearts when the worries of life are all we are thinking about.

If anxiety is steering your ship, you can take back the ship’s wheel and let the Holy Spirit take command of the ship. It is a matter of choosing to use the mind God has given us. It’s also choosing to use the capacity to change and grow that God has given us and ask the Lord for the strength and guidance needed to take control of our worries. It begins with repentance for letting worries rule us and focusing on all the blessings God gives us each day. It’s putting our focus back on the one who gives us courage and peace.

Anxiety that you control with the Holy Spirit’s help will lead you to building up that history and confidence. Anxiety that controls you will lead you to depression and hopelessness. If you need help in getting anxiety back under the control of the Holy Spirit within you, please talk to a pastor, trusted friend or counselorAnxiety Controlling You

These are 2 of my favorite verses about anxiety: Matthew 6:26 and Philippians 4:6-7

 

Trusting Others is a Fine Line of Intentions

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There is a fine line when it comes to trusting others. On each side of the line are intentions, some good and some not so good. The problem lies in knowing which intentions are which.

In Deuteronomy 20:1-4, God is telling the Israelites not to be afraid. For them, the fear was from the other nations and people they would have to battle. War is no joke. It is serious business. They had reason to be afraid but they also had the One True God on their side.

God did not just leave them to fight the battle. He knew they would have fear, therefore, he told them that a priest would come forward and give these words of encouragement, “Hear, Israel: Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them. For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.” God is working through the priest to give courage to the Israelites. (verses 3-4)

The Lord God was reminding them of the unseen. He was reminding them that He does the fighting and secures the victory. He wanted them to focus on Him and not on the enemy army. The Lord reminded them through a man, a priest. God used a man to bring courage to the Israelites hearts.

The priest was someone that they learned to trust because they were men specifically set apart to do God’s work. Today, on this side of the cross, we who believe in Jesus have inherited the royal priesthood. 1Peter 2:9-10. We are all called to be encouragers and do God’s work.

The Intentions on Each Side of the Fine Line of Trusting Others Trusting Others is a Fine Line

The intentions people have are not in your face. They don’t wear a sign proclaiming their intentions. It is something that we have to be able to discern based on the information provided. Trusting others with bad intentions can lead us down the wrong path so we have to learn to be good detectives.

Detecting the wrong or bad intentions of others needs to have the filter of God’s truth. When we hold things that people say up to God’s Word and His truth, we are better able to see the deceit and the selfish intentions of others. We can learn to walk the fine line of trusting others when we have God and His Word helping us.

Melancholy’s in the Inclusion area, which is the area within our temperament that is about our social surface relationships and our mind, have a tendency to distrust others. This distrust can leave you feeling lonely and afraid because you trust no one. But God, ultimately wants to help those with this temperament to trust in him and know that he does work through other people. The Bible has testimony after testimony of how God worked through people. Distrusting others is not the way God wants you to live. He wants to help you discern the intentions of others and know that He does work his good intentions through people in your life.

Through Him and His Word, we can all learn how to discern the intentions of others and how to listen to the Holy Spirit in us that is there to guide us. The Holy Spirit will help us to trusts those He wants us to trust and will let us know when we are not to trust.

Trusting others takes time. If you struggle with this, I would be honored to serve the Lord in this way and help you towards an intimacy with God that can help you learn to discern who and what to trust. Take the first step and contact me today. 

 

 

Surrendering All Areas of Life

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Surrendering all the areas of life to the Lord is a process. Our salvation is secured when we accept Jesus as our Savior. He seals us and we are adopted into the family of God. We are his children. But like children, we need to learn and grow in our maturity. This is the process of sanctification; becoming more like Jesus.

Daily surrender is a necessary aspect of the Christian faith. We surrender our lives to Jesus but are we surrendering every area of our life every day? We are choosing him to be our Lord and King but are we choosing him each day?

Think of your subconscious as a building filled with rooms that are stuffed with all kinds of unimaginable things. Like a closet that is stuffed to the max and you have to squeeze everything together to shut the door. I have been in rooms like this in real life. They are the ones where there is no room to walk. Things are piled up everywhere. Trash is not in trash cans but on the floor and everywhere it doesn’t belong.

There is so much stuff in these rooms you don’t know where any of it is or even what is actually in the rooms. Like clearing out a real room, it will take time to sift through it all. It can feel overwhelming so we have to learn to look at each step as progress and know that every thing we get out that doesn’t belong in the treasury rooms of our soul will make room for the Living water of truth to come in and fill it up.

All Areas of Life
Each room needs to be cleaned out.

 

So here’s a starter list of the areas of life that we can intentionally start to consider and pray about:

Have I surrendered all areas of life to the Lord?

  • Marriage
  • Children
  • Home
  • Work
  • Finances
  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Hobby/Recreation
  • Education
  • Extended Family
  • Friends
  • Bible Study
  • Prayer Life
  • Sex Life

In some cases, these areas can be broken down further. Let this list be a start to checking in with the Lord and asking him if you have surrendered each of these areas to him. If you are really stuck or overwhelmed, seek guidance from a trusted friend, pastor or Christian counselor. It is a process to clean out these rooms and store in them the treasure of God’s Word. But this process needs to be moving forward.

 

 

 

Meeting God in the Temple

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Meeting God in the temple seems like an easy thing. We walk up steps into a home or building all the time. How come we can’t seem to get into the inner sanctuary of the temple of us?

We are the temple. Our body is the outer wall. Our soul is the inner court, inner wall and the Holy Place. But our spirit is deeper in. The spirit of each of us is in the Holy of Holies.

In the beginning, our spirit was in complete communion with God who is a spiritual being. But sin carved a deep cavern between us and God because of his holy nature. Jesus came and formed a bridge to cross that cavern and restore that spirit-to-Spirit connection with God.

Meeting God in the temple is possible when we are abiding in Jesus. It takes all three parts of our soul, the mind, will and emotions to come together in agreement, saying “Yes” to Jesus. Madame Jeanne Guyon put it this way, “The Lord is found only within your spirit; in the recesses of your being, in the Holy of Holies; this is where he dwells. The Lord once promised to come and make His home within you. (John 14:23) He promised to there meet those who worship Him and who do His will. The Lord will meet you in your spirit.” Meeting God in the Temple

For many of us, we are on a journey learning how to consistently have that connection with God but a lot of people have something or somethings within their soul ruling their heart. This is much like something within yourself is chaining you up and keeping you from entering into the inner sanctuary and meeting God in the Holy of Holies.

Christian temperament counseling gets to the heart of the issue. We are shinning a light over the soul and discovering in the temperament what is keeping you stuck. Meeting God in the temple is possible because we have a God who does the impossible. He does this impossible as we seek Him.

Are you feeling stuck? Don’t feel the connection with God that you may have once had? Maybe you have never truly felt that connection? It’s a wonderful thing. Allow me to be the tool in God’s hand and get you moving into the inner sanctuary of your temple and connecting with God.

The Only Way is the Only Way

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The only way to be freed from the sin of unforgiveness is to forgive. But forgiving others, ourselves and God is not something we are able to do. Not in our own strength. This sin of unforgiveness is seen so much in Christian counseling. We have been commanded to forgive as we have been forgiven but we find ourselves not obeying. (Colossians 3:13)

The Only Way is Jesus
Following God’s Signs?

I am reminded of a pet peeve of mine involving the sign at an intersection that says “Only”. You are only supposed to go the way that it indicates. It shows an arrow turning left but people don’t listen to the sign and do what it says. They make their self-choice and do the u-turn, slowing down the whole line of cars behind them. If we can’t obey a simple road sign, how much of a challenge is it to obey our heavenly Father?

Jesus was asked by Peter how many times was it necessary to forgive someone. Jesus used numbers to show how our forgiveness must continue on and on for every grievance. Peter asked him, “Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Matthew 18:21-22) Jesus followed this up with a parable about a king who forgives the very large debt of a man because the man begged for mercy but the man turned around and did not show that same mercy towards another who needed it. (Matthew 18: 23-35) This parable tells us that the Lord of Lords and King of Kings forgives us our sins, therefore, we should be forgiving.

How Do We Forgive?

Forgiveness by Matthew West

Our only way towards forgiving others for the wrongs they have done or the words they have said is the road that takes you to Jesus. The only way to forgive yourself for not being perfect as you think you should be or for the sins you have done is to take the road to the Lord. The only way to forgive God for not doing all  you want or expect him to do or for not answering your prayers as you want them answered is to take the road to the Almighty, himself.

The grace and power to forgive are from the Lord so it is to the Lord we must go. There are three things to consider on this road to the Lord. Are you asking for the help to forgive the other person, yourself or God? Have you been asking the Lord to forgive that other person or forgive you? Are you asking the Lord for a clearer understanding of the anger you are having towards Him? Have you asked for the truth to be made clear so that you can see with your spiritual eyes? Are you praying specifically for that other person or yourself in regards to the reason you have this anger and bitterness? This communication with God is the road towards receiving the grace and power to forgive.

The only way to be freed from the sin of unforgiveness is through the only way that God has given us which is in Jesus Christ. Start and keep that conversation with the Lord going and the Lord will lead you to the place where you can finally say, “yes, I forgive…”

We all need help. Talk to a trusted godly friend, pastor or Christian counselor.

Tranagular Forgiveness
Forgiveness is a prayerful process.

 

 

When We Are Vulnerable to Attack

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When we are vulnerable to attack, we can sink into our tendency weaknesses or we can stand firm and fight back with God’s strength and guidance. In a recent sermon, Pastor Tim McConnell from First Presbyterian Church made the statement, “we are most vulnerable when we are in the middle of a battle and don’t even know it.”

The enemy has been studying our habits and the patterns of our life and has learned when we are vulnerable to attack. The enemy has learned our tendencies. He knows that we can be influenced to sink into the weaknesses of those tendencies. But are we ready for the battles or are we going through life forgetting the invisible that is happening all around us? Our enemy is not just the enemy of God who is known as the father of lies but the enemy is within us and our sinful nature.

Vulnerable to Attack?Being in the Christian counseling ministry, I am all too aware of the attacks of the enemy. Ministry workers are attacked more so because they are actively pursuing the work for God’s kingdom. They, including myself, need our prayers.

Jesus Ready for Attack

Jesus was vulnerable to attack at two distinct parts of his ministry. The first was in the beginning of his ministry when he was led by the Spirit into the wilderness for 40 days. He was fasting all this time and was hungry. I have been in that state of “hangry” as they call it today. That place where you are so hungry that your angry at being so hungry. It can take control of your actions if you let it. It is in this vulnerable state, Satan attacked Jesus with his temptations. Jesus was prepared for this attack. The Word of God, His truth and knowing who he was and his mission helped him to stand firm against the enemy.

The second time Jesus was vulnerable to attack was before he went to the cross, in the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus is God in the flesh and knew the time was approaching where he would be utterly rejected, brutally tortured and nailed to a cross. Jesus was also human and was experiencing the intense feelings of knowing what was about to happen to him. He was vulnerable to attack from within and from the outside forces.

Imagine the worry you have felt when you have physical symptoms but you don’t yet know what is wrong. This can’t even compare to what Jesus was going through in those moments in the garden. He wasn’t worrying about an uncertain future for he knew what the future held. He was sick in his soul to the point of bleeding from his pours which is scientifically possible. (Luke 22:39-44) Yet, He was prepared for the attack. How? He had a pattern of going off alone to talk with his Abba. Though his soul was crushed with grief, he welcomed God’s will to be done and he kept praying. God strengthened him and he was resolved to do the Father’s will and die on the cross for all the sins of mankind.

Our Tendencies Can Make Us Vulnerable to Attack

Our tendencies within our temperament, our very soul, can be attacked from the outside, the inside or a combination of both. The better prepared we are, as Jesus was, helps us get through the attacks without sinking into our weaknesses. Knowing your temperament needs and tendencies is a significant part of the battle plan we all need.

Vulnerable without prayer
Do You Have a Pattern of Prayer?

Sing praises to the Lord for the victory he sought for us on the cross and give thanks to God for His armor he gives us to put on to help protect us from every enemy. Are you prepared? Are you keeping the communication lines open with the Lord? Do you really know your own weak areas? Christian temperament counseling can help. Take the first step to learning to be prepared for the attacks that will come and maintaining an intimate connection to the God of grace.

An Offering Made By Fire, Not Your Own Fire

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Levitcus 3:5 says …as an offering made by fire, an aroma pleasing to the Lord. There is more to the book of Leviticus than its reputation for redundancy and lists. God is setting up the Israelites with the specific offerings and what they all entail. This last part “as an offering made by fire, an aroma pleasing to the Lord” is one of those redundant aspects. However, speaking things again and again is meant to show that it has value and is worth taking note of.

Made by Fire
We are made by fire.

An offering is not just something a person brings to the Lord. The lamb, the flour with oil, the first fruits of the harvest; whatever it is, isn’t an offering until it is put on top of the flames of fire on the altar. What we bring with our offerings is our willingness. It represents our will humbly wanting to be aligned with God.

The fire is the Holy Spirit within us that takes that willingness and works it into the good fruit we bear. The smell of freshly cut fruit rises upward. The fruit is an aroma pleasing to the Lord.

Temperaments and Strong Will

For certain temperaments, this area of the will can be a huge road block that is keeping them from gaining that level of intimacy with the Lord that will only come when you willingly go into the inner sanctuary of your soul. Offering ourselves to the Lord is an act of the will. It is an act of obedience for God has commanded us to worship only Him; to love Him with our whole heart, soul and mind. (Mark 12:30) How we refuse to obey comes in many forms but it all falls under the sin of pride.

Temperaments like the choleric in control want to be in control and not be control. Having someone do something for them is not an easy pill for them to swallow. They want to do things their way. Making an offering made by fire takes a humbled choleric. And make no mistake, God does do the humbling.

Made by Fire

It is an unwillingness to accept God’s sovereign will for our lives. I know this because I have lived this. I wanted to be in control, drive the ship, take the reins of my life. Telling God, “I don’t like your plan,” “I like mine better.” was a barrier to my intimacy with God that was only overcome by God’s sovereign hand reaching down and putting me into circumstances that I could not control.

Taking down that barrier was hard but it was God’s way of not leaving me in my mess. He loves us too much for that. He wants us to be all that he designed us to be. Loving God, worshiping Him and giving to him of ourselves is the ultimate offering. It’s an offering that God takes and is made by fire, his fire. Does your blood boil when someone tries to control you? Christian temperament counseling might be the help you need to put out the fire of anger and allow the fire of the Holy Spirit to do His work.

We trust in Him with our lives and the good fruit will be washed, sliced and smelling good, an aroma pleasing to the Lord.

 

Circumcising Your Heart Without Pain

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Circumcising your heart is an act of trust. It is a risk to open yourself up and be vulnerable. We have to choose, by our will, to take down the walls; cut off the foreskin.

Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. Deuteronomy 10:16

Circumcision was an act of humility and vulnerability. Today it has become a medical safe-guard but also an aesthetic preference. God required Abraham to do the first circumcisions. It was to be an act signifying the establishment of the covenant between God and Abraham. God told him he would be the father of descendants that were like the stars in the sky, too numerous to count. Abraham believed God and was credited with righteousness because of his faith. He trusted.

Stiff-Necked Temperaments and Circumcising Your Heart

Certain temperaments may have trouble with this idea of “circumcising your hearts”. It is because of the tendency to be stiff-necked or stubborn. It is a self-defense mechanism. Their stubbornness is their own protection but it isn’t enough. On your own, you can’t protect yourself.

Circumcising Your Heart
Don’t Be a Stubborn Mule
Circumcising Your Heart
Can’t Fully Protect Yourself without God

It is like a fire fighter out in the forest fighting the raging fire. He can’t put on his gear and fight the fire on his own. The gear will only protect him so much and it definitely won’t save him. But God is able. He is our protector. He showed His protection when Shadrach, Meshach and Abdenago (Daniel 3) were thrown into the fiery furnace by the command of King Nebuchadnezzar. Their hearts were circumcised. They chose to trust God when they were presented with the choice between standing firm with God and worshiping only him or bowing down to the large golden statue erected by King Nebuchadnezzar. They chose God and God protected them.

These three men, in the book of Daniel, came out of the fire un-singed, ropes gone and without the smell of smoke on them. Only almighty God can do that!

Truly circumcising your heart takes God’s help. Admitting that help is needed is the first hard step. Talk to a pastor, Christian counselor or trusted friend.

The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live. Deuteronomy 30:6

Truth and Lies All Mixed Together

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Truth and lies all mixed together wreak havoc in our lives. These two together have been stored into the holding tank of our character.  Our character has been formed by the seed of who God created being shaped in the environment it is in. It’s like a lump of clay being shaped by the world. It will become dry and dust away into nothingness. However, if we allow the Creator of the clay to take us and mold us, we can be shaped by the truth.

God's truth replacing the lies.
Allow the Potter to shape you.

Our character holds all our beliefs, attitudes, expectations and viewpoints. It is the basis of our choices. These choices turn into our behaviors. Choices based on lies will produce bad fruit. As James Allen says in As a Man Thinketh, “Every thought seed sown or allowed to fall into the mind and to take root there produces its own… Good thoughts bear good fruit, bad thoughts bad fruit.”

Definitions Bring Clarity

Let’s take a look at how lies and how truth are defined. I like the straightforwardness of these definitions from Dr. Chris Thurman from his book called The Lies We Believe. He says, “lies are beliefs, attitudes, or expectations that don’t fit reality” and “truth is reality as it is, not as it seems to be.” It has to be real for it to be reality. With these definitions of truth and lies, you start to see how having the real mixed with the unreal is a recipe for disaster.

This recipe was began on the day you were born and has been added to day by day during your childhood and on. Truth. Lies. Truth and lies mixed together. Is it any wonder we are confused? Where is truth found?

Truth Analogy

Truth and lies down deep
There is so much more below the surface.

Dr. Chris Thurman likens truth to an iceberg and continues to say, “What we can learn from day to day experiences is just the tip of the truth that we can learn on our own. Knowing the deeper, spiritual truths of life that lie below life’s surface requires that we depend on a greater power than ourselves. It seems planned that way. To learn the truths that are the most powerful and life-sustaining of all, we must look to that greater power.”

I can’t imagine trying to dive down to uncover more of the iceberg.  It would be exhausting always needing to come up for air and never getting very far in discovering anything. We can dive down and discover what is hidden in our soul when we allow the Creator of our soul to do His work. We can shine the light into the darkness below onto the under-the-surface iceberg and start to see the lies and chip them away from our soul. Need a diving guide? Get in touch with a Christian counselor, pastor or trusted Christ-centered friend. (Real Iceberg Diving)