Are We Being Brave in the Land of the Brave?

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For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Isaiah 41:13

In the devotional book, 100 Days to Brave by Annie F. Downs, she defines what “brave” is. Without a doubt, “brave” is going to be a little different for each person because we are all unique in our needs and tendencies and in how we have been shaped by our environment and upbringing. So, being brave is going to look different in each of us. The author explains how courage is the starting point to being brave. “Courage is doing things even when you’re scared. Being brave isn’t something that happens when you’re not scared anymore. “

I watch the show America’s Got Talent and there have been many times a contestant comes out on stage and you can see it in their body language and in their voice and words how scared they are. But they are there for a purpose, to show America the talent they have and this propels them forward to take the action. It gets them moving out onto that stage before the 3 judges and a very large audience, not to mention the millions watching on television. The transformation from the courage it took to step out on that stage to the point that they are being brave begins when they start showing their talent, they begin their song or when they start their comedy routine. The audience starts responding with cheers and love and they transform from being scared to being brave. Being brave brings confidence that shows in your body and in your face. You can see the transformation. America’s Got Talent Excerpt

The author couldn’t have said it better when she said, “Being brave is hearing that voice of fear in your head, but saying, “Okay, but the truth is, God made me on purpose and for a purpose.” Fear is seen so often in Christian counseling; it has become something that is ruling their hearts and controlling their lives. Some temperaments will have that fear of rejection and others will have the fear of the unknown and still others will fear their finances will run out. But The truth is indeed what can set them free. Seeing that God has made you on purpose and for a purpose is that first step in being able to get the courage from God that will take your fear and transform it to bravery. When we do this, we are bringing God glory and fulfilling our primary purpose. We can rise above the fear in our hearts with the courage God can give us but we have to lean on Him. That is what He designed us for; to lean on Him and rely on Him; to let Him rule our hearts, guide our steps and give us the strength we need to do His will. So, the question is are we being brave in the land of the brave or are we stuck with fear reigning over us?

Get 100 Days to Brave by Annie F. Downs Buy Here

What False Guilt Does

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Romans 8:1 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.

As a Christian counselor I run into this issue often of distinguishing between guilt and false guilt. The Supine in control temperament type will have this tendency to hold onto guilt. They have a hard time making decisions and doubt the decisions they make. When they make bad decisions that are sinful or lead to sinful behaviors, the initial guilt they feel is the Holy Spirit convicting them of their sin.
While Christians are saved from death and their sins are forgiven, past, present and future by accepting Jesus as Savior and Redeemer; God wants a relationship with us and is wanting us to confess those present-day and future sins we will commit. This interaction with God builds an intimacy that bares much fruit. When the sin and the guilt of sin has been cleansed from our soul upon confession, then we can move forward in our freedom and intimacy with Christ.

But for those who have the Supine in their control area of their temperament, they have the tendency of wanting to put the chains back on and not leave the prison Christ has set them free from. They want to hold onto the guilt that they have been freed from because it is familiar or because of fears. This is false guilt based on believing in a lie that says you can’t be freed from all your sins, “not this sin” or that you certainly aren’t worthy of this gift. None of us is worthy but God loves us anyways, no matter what our sins are or will be.

A Supine in control needs to rely on God’s truth to help them overcome this tendency. It will take a commitment to daily confession and affirmation that your sins have been removed reminding yourself and acknowledging to God that you believe him when he says “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” Psalm 103:12

Any guilt a Supine in control person continues to have for confessed sins is now a false guilt based on a lie from the enemy. It’s a stronghold or a governing agent that is control of your being that can only be broken by praise, worship and giving God glory every day for what he has done for you in Jesus Christ.

Father, I thank you for the gift of Jesus who has shed his blood for me; given me his righteousness and holiness that I can come before you. Help me to live in this victory over sin and death today. In Jesus mighty name. Amen.

Yank Out the Chains!

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2 Corinthians 10:5
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

As I was listening to the radio the other day, the radio host was talking about the power of our thoughts and how if we think of something negative and not pleasing to God like hateful thoughts toward someone who has hurt us in some way or derogatory thoughts that put ourselves down and make us feel less than who we are in Christ than we are falling under the influence of the enemy. An image of a chain bound around your hands came to mind.
These kinds of thoughts and others that are not pleasing to God need to be yanked out of our minds as soon as we think them. This takes awareness and intention in reminding ourselves through our prayer time with God that we have that tendency to think things that are not noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. In Christian counseling, we see that some temperaments will have this tendency even more so, but the fact is we are all guilty of negative, sinful thoughts. Even the godliest people you know have had thoughts come into their minds that were not pleasing to God. He knows because he knows every thought, feeling and action we have done and will do.
And yet, we have the power of the Holy Spirit who can help us conquer those thoughts that come into our minds that are sinful, negative, degrading, mean, prideful, judgmental, critical and hateful. That first thought that comes in is the first link in a chain that the enemy of our soul wants to put back on us. This chain is a delusion of the enemy designed to think we are still bound to sin and keeps us from being all God wants us to be.
It is good policy to take an inventory of your thoughts for a few days every few months and reflect on them and ask God to show you if there are any thoughts that do not align with His Word, any thoughts that shift your attitude from praise to complaining or any thoughts that make you feel less than who you are in Christ. With Christian counseling, you will learn more specifically how to capture those thoughts and not let your mind be the one in control. Ultimately, we want to allow the Holy Spirit to be our governing agent, the one who is in control of our being. With this, we bear the fruit of the spirit and bring glory to God.

Taking on the Sin

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Genesis 44:32
Your servant guaranteed the boy’s safety to my father. I said, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, I will bear the blame before you, my father, all my life!’

There are so many facets and great truths in this history of Joseph and I encourage you to read the whole account. This part where Judah pleads to his father may not seem as significant but indeed it holds great significance. Joseph’s brothers sin against him because of their jealousy. This sin will come back to them when they meet Joseph who is now the second in command in Egypt. Joseph is requiring they bring their brother, Benjamin back to him to prove that they are telling the truth.
Judah pleads with his father guaranteeing he will keep him safe and if he doesn’t he is willing to bear the blame. “bear the blame” He is not just willing to take the blame but to bear this blame. This is like putting a heavy weight on your shoulders and carrying this with you for the rest of your life. That weight over time and with any other added weight will make life unbearable. And yet, Judah is willing to bear this burden if he cannot keep Benjamin safe. Judah is already bearing the blame of what they did to Joseph and this pleading with his father is his way of trying to relieve the burden of sin already upon him.
The significance is in that Jesus is in the lineage of Judah. What Judah did is really a foreshadowing of what Jesus will do for all mankind. Jesus will not only bear the blame for all the sins of mankind but will guarantee the safety of all those who choose to believe in him. He marks us with that guarantee and safety with the gift of his Holy Spirit. Jesus fulfills everything that Judah was promising, he guarantees our safety, he brings us back to the Father and he bears the blame for all our sins. Understanding all these aspects is a vital key to growing as a Christian and is delved into with Christian counseling. In Christian counseling, I have seen this as a brick wall of guilt that has been erected in a person’s life that is keeping them from becoming all God designed them to be and to living the abundant life that he wants to give us. The person with the Supine temperament in their control area will be more susceptible to holding onto guilt and not truly being able to forgive themselves. We all have sin and guilt and we will all try to “bear the blame” but it is too heavy a burden to bear on our own, in our own strength. So, the question to ask yourself is this: Are you being like Judah and piling up the burden of sin on yourself or are you living with the truth that Jesus came not to condemn us but to save us?

God’s Grief and His Surpassing Love

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I was reading the account of the Great Flood in God’s Word (The Narrated Bible) and was going back over it to study it more in depth when I came again to this verse (Genesis 6:6), The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. As I went on to talk to God using my “W” prayer guide, I came to the “W” of my weakness and in that instant, I felt all the pain I had caused God with my sins, all the pain from sins of everyone in the past, present and future and at the same moment felt God’s overwhelming love for me and all mankind surpass the feelings of grief and pain that He had. His great love for us surpasses his own grief and pain at seeing all that sin produces. So, though He has complete foreknowledge of what each one of us will do, He chose to create us and he chose not to wipe us off the face of the earth. His love is simply greater than our sin.
Thank you, Father, for being the God who is love; with a love that transcends all understanding, a love we cannot completely fathom. Thank you for giving us a glimpse of how great your love is and how it greater than all our sins. Help us to live in complete praise and worship to you every day, every moment with this truth. In Jesus Name. Amen.

God Uses Fire to Shape Us

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There are several verses in the Bible that speak of the trials and tribulations or, in other words, the tragedies, problems, pain, suffering and difficulties in life. Isaiah 43:2 speaks of these things as “walking through fire” and in 1 Peter 4:12 a “fiery ordeal”. Peter is explaining that we should not be surprised by the trials and tribulations we will go through. The truth is we live in a fallen world, the creation has been corrupted by sin and so we reap the consequences. Why do good people get sick with cancer and die young? Why are people killed everyday in car accidents? Why are the relationships we are in falling apart? Sin and its consequences are very real and effect every aspect of our lives but we have a loving, merciful and faithful God who will use the sin and the consequences for his good purposes. One of those purposes is in helping us grow more and more into the likeness of Jesus. Timothy Keller in his book called Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering says this about the “furnace”, “the biblical understanding of a furnace is more what we would call a “forge”. Anything with that degree of heat is, of course, a very dangerous and powerful thing. However, if used properly, it does not destroy. Things put into a furnace properly can be shaped, refined, purified and even beautified.” God is taking the lump of iron that he created in your mother’s womb and through the trials of tribulations, through the fiery furnace of life, he is shaping you into what he designed you to be.
The book of Daniel tells of the story of Shadrach, Meschah and Abednego who when told, along with all the people, to bow down to the giant gold statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had made when the trumpets sounded, didn’t bow down. They stood up tall and confident in their belief in God and God alone. And they were taken, tied up and thrown into a fiery furnace; a furnace so hot that when the doors were opened to shove them in, it burned up the guards that opened the door. You may be in a fiery furnace right now but when we go into a fiery furnace with trust and love for God, he will be with us and lead us through it. Like these three men, we can come out of the furnace with the ropes off, nothing singed or burned and not even smelling of smoke. Our God is that great! (Daniel 3:22-27) Jesus says in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jesus is the hope to see us through our fiery ordeals. We can be still in the eye of the storm where there is peace and know that God is God. (Psalm 46:10)
When you aren’t feeling the peace, and the hurt, pain and trouble is overwhelming you, it is time to look closely into yourself and with God’s help discover what is keeping you from taking heart, having courage and gaining the peace that passes all understanding. This is part of the shaping that the fire is doing. God loves us so much that he doesn’t leave us in our mess but works at shaping us into what he intended all along.
Lord, God we thank you for the fiery furnace of life for without it we would never become all that you intended us to be. Help us through each trial and help us get to the place of peace in the eye of the storm which is in Jesus Christ. Amen.

The Pathway of Growth

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2 Peter 1:5 9 In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.
The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.
Peter is talking about growing in faith and what that looks like. He lists those things that grow us and their progression. We must first begin with a good understanding of right and wrong. This is the beginning of moral excellence, but we grow further in it with the knowledge of God’s Word, His truth. “What is right and pleasing in God’s sight?”, is what we grow more and more in. And this can only happen with the appropriate growth mind-set or attitude; the God-centered motivation and the intention and commitment to work at establishing the spiritual discipline of being in God’s Word.
From the knowledge of God’s Word, we are reminding and affirming what God calls us to each day and in His strength, we begin our growth in self-control; the control we need to fight temptations, to conquer old bad habits and to do what God calls us to even when we don’t want to or don’t feel like it.
The next piece in our growth is having the patient endurance. Life isn’t a sprint, but a cross-country journey and we will sometimes take two-steps backwards, encounter rough terrain and/or be tempted to stray from our path with Jesus. But when we keep at it, don’t give up or give in to the voice that tell us you can’t do it, we are exercising that patient endurance. We wait for God’s help, his strength and his revelations that refine us, stretch us and will propel us forward in our growth.
As we mature in our growth at this point, we are producing the fruit of the Spirit and the godliness within us. Godliness is a place where you are connecting with the Spirit of God within you. From this God connection you can have the brotherly love and beyond; the love of everyone, even the hard to love, the enemies of your own soul; the people that have rejected you and hurt you.
Peter is saying to us in these verses that if we don’t see ourselves growing along in this progression than we may be short-sighted or blind. Being short-sighted is akin to not seeing the big picture or focusing only on your self and the issue that is before you. What is happening is you have allowed something other than the Holy Spirit to govern you. There is another governing agent or agents that have taken over. These governing agents can be within our temperament; needs not being met or they can be lies that have been planted within us effecting our actions or they can be sins that have not been confessed that are festering within us. We are standing in the garden of our soul and we can’t just look down at the ground we are standing on and the weeds that are surrounding us. We have to look up and out and over the garden of our soul and look to the Gardener, our Father who wants to show us our next steps to grow more into the likeness of His son, Jesus.
Blindness is crippling. If your eyesight were suddenly taken away, you would be confused, and things would become chaotic. You would stumble and fall and hurt yourself and others along the way. This is what happens when we let sin come back in and take control. We begin to hide, try to fix the problem ourselves or we blame others. We have become blind again forgetting that Jesus has forgiven all our sins.
If you find that you are not growing in your faith journey or feeling stuck, it’s time to get your spiritual eyes checked. God has made us to be in fellowship, to work together and help each other along on our journey. Whether it is a friend, Bible study group or pastoral counselor, seek the answer to the hinderance or stunt in your growth in becoming more and more like our Savior.
Lord God, thank you for the power of your grace within us to help us conform into the likeness of your precious son. Help us to be intentional about the growth within our soul and reach out for help if we are feeling stuck or like we aren’t going anywhere. Lord, guide us and help us to rest in your strength. In the mighty name of Jesus. Amen.

You Are a Piece of the Puzzle

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Psalm 139:13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. God created much more than just our bodies. That “inmost being” is the soul and spirit. Our soul is the place where our mind, emotions and will are. It is what we call our temperament. This temperament seed of who we are was designed by God with unique needs and tendencies that become strengths and/or weaknesses. We are uniquely made for the special purpose that God has for us. We are unique puzzle pieces and when we allow God to place us into the puzzle of his plan we will find peace and joy and so much more. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:16. You were made this way for a purpose but are you living that out?

Heart Hunger: Is it calling you?

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Hunger in our bodies, for the most part, can be recognized with the grumbling in our stomach but what does the hunger of our souls look like? This hunger is a result of the fall of mankind into sin. It is our separation from God, our creator that leaves a void within us that needs to be filled. I recently had a large cyst in my side surgically removed and a couple weeks later when I went in to have the sutures removed found that I had developed a hematoma. The doctor explained that when something is removed from the body, the body naturally wants to fill in the space so it sends blood that will end up clotting into a swelling mass within the tissues. The space within our inner being naturally wants to be filled. It is a hunger or a “heart hunger” to get this void within us filled. It is a “Heart Hunger” that is crying out for fellowship with God, to be reconnected to our creator. It is the driving force that motivates our actions. We need to satisfy the needs within our souls. It is these unmet needs that create the chaos and dysfunction in our lives. What needs within you are crying out to be filled and are not? Is the heart hunger calling to you? David sought after God and was filled. Here his words from Psalm 63: 1-5 O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory. Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you! I will praise you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer. You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy. Is your heart hungry? Jesus says in Matthew 7: 7-8 “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” That “everyone” is you. You are invited to dine with Jesus and be filled. Revelation 3:20.