By Jane Horvath
Have you ever had a situation that astounded you or made your heart stop? I am not talking about a beautiful sunrise or sunset or the birth of your child or grandchild. I am referring to that phone call you never wanted to receive, the work situation, the overwhelming health problem or the relationship that seems beyond repair.
One of my new favorite shows is Code Black. A few definitions of code black, a medical term, is mass casualties or personal threat. Any of the situations above could fall into these definitions. We do not live in a vacuum, so work, health and relationship issues can feel like a personal threat and may involve mass casualties. In every episode of Code Black, someone’s heart stops beating for one reason or another, and the doctors and nurses use a variety of means to restart the heart.
When these situations occur, what means are you using to restart your heart? On the other hand, would you prefer to be just another casualty? What will it take to go from the flat line of your heart not beating to hear your heart beat again?
In Code Black, sometimes the heart starts using basic CPR. Other times a powerful medication like epinephrine is used. If all else fails, the heart jolts to life with a defibrillator. In the case when our hearts stop beating because of overwhelming circumstances, God may use a variety of means to start our heart again.
Many times God uses a verse in His word, a song or a text from a friend to jolt my heart back to life. Other times, it is a message from church or something from a book I am reading that startles me back to life. For other times it takes counseling over a period of time for me to start hearing a faint heartbeat.
I do know that the longer it takes me to recognize my heart has stopped beating, the longer it takes it to start beating again. God is the common denominator for my heart to start beating. He uses people, places and things, but God is the one who breathes life back into my body and soul.
If your heart has slowed or stopped beating because of overwhelming circumstances in your life, do not be another casualty. Instead, seek God through His Word or through a person who knows the life-saving treatments to start your heart beating again for Him.
Are we truly aware of the impact our beliefs have on our life and our relationship with God?
She believes she is worthy.
She believes she is loved.
She believes she is accepted.
She believes she is victorious.
She believes she is powerful.
She believes she is righteous.
She believes she is significant.
She believes she has purpose.
She believes she can have hope in Christ.
She believes she is forgiven.
She believes God can heal her.
She believes God will heal her.
She believes she is full of the Holy Spirit.
She believes God makes His home in her.
She believes God works mightily through her.
She believes she can have a meaningful impact on others.
She believes God wants her to show His love to others.
She believes the joy of the Lord is her strength.
She believes she is courageous.
She believes God knows her by name.
She believes God will remove any chains that hold her down.
She believes she doesn’t have to live an unfulfilled life.
By Danielle Harmon
For the longest time, I was worried that I was going to miss God when He was speaking to me. I was constantly concerned, afraid, full of guilt and condemnation and felt that I would make a wrong turn and not hear Him. At times, I lacked confidence in my decisions because I was constantly afraid they were wrong. I was aware of the verse from John 10:27, which reads, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me”. However, I was afraid that somehow I would miss Him. An understanding of the Father’s love for me has been essential in learning to hear His voice more clearly.
Through His Holy Spirit, God has been teaching me that any fear, worry, condemnation, anxiety or depression that I hear or sense is not the voice of the Father. Whenever I have these feelings, they’re directly from the enemy. The Bible says in 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” Therefore, if God is guiding me in His perfect love, He will not use fear to accomplish His purpose. Being fearful is not walking in the Spirit. Instead of fearing misdirection, I can remember Psalms 91:14-16 which speaks of the Lord’s protection, deliverance and guidance.
“Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” Psalms 91:14-16
Whenever feelings of doubt or fear creep into my mind disguised as “wisdom”, I can defeat them because of my understanding of God’s love. Meaning, I can recognize these thoughts and feelings as the voice of the enemy and extinguish them. Then, I replace them with the Truth of God’s Word. As Christians, we are instructed to do this in 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.” Learning to do this is essential to hearing the voice of God. It is the revelation of His love for me which has enabled me to have confidence in my right to use and apply His Truth to my life.
Now that I’m learning to hear God’s voice more clearly, the verse from John 10:27 has taken on new meaning. I have come to understand that the deeper my relationship with Him, the more clearly I hear Him. Continued learning and revelation of His character leads to greater ability to hear his guidance. As I grow in my understanding of Him, I have found that He will direct me so I can follow His will. The Bible tells us this in Proverbs 3:6: “Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” I have confidence in knowing that the Father will tell me when to turn right or turn left. He will not lead me astray. He created me for His designed purpose and He is faithful to see it to completion by showing me the correct path. Just as a parent would not watch a child wander off in the wrong direction without speaking up, God will let me know when I start to roam so that I can make a change and turn back.
Through the revelation of the Father’s love for me, I have traded fear and anxiety for love and confidence in Him. I am no longer afraid of “missing God.” I know that He cares for me. As a result of the relationship that I have with Him, He will let me know when I start to get off-course. As I am consumed by His love, I find my refuge and peace in Him instead of being tossed around by worry and fear. I can rest in the knowledge that God truly loves and cares for me (See Psalms 23).
By Danielle Harmon
This morning I felt like I was playing the game where you toss a quarter in the air and declare, “Heads you win, tails you lose.” You see, I’ve been encouraged to reach out and make some new friends, but I struggle with the uncertain outcome of opening up to other people. It seems like a coin toss to me; it may work—but it could hurt.
But then, I read Psalm 90:14: “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love.” At first, my interpretation was that I needed to ask God to satisfy me with His love so I did not need friends. (I admit it was tempting to stay there.) But as I thought more, He guided me to realize that just as the “head” and “tail” are part of the same coin, so being satisfied with God’s love every morning is what will allow me to find true friendship.
The harder I try to find and get love from another person, the more elusive it becomes. Only when God satisfies me with His steadfast love in the morning will I be open and able to give and receive love from someone else. Therefore, in a way, it is “heads, you win.” When Christ is my head and I seek Him and receive love from Him, it is always a win.
Being satisfied with God’s love every morning will result in rejoicing and gladness, which will in turn open my life to friendships where I can give and receive love. In the event a relationship does end up feeling like “tails you lose,” I won’t really have lost. Friendship with a God who never fails is something I can rest in—and will help me take those risks.
So today, instead of believing that praying to be satisfied with God’s love is exclusive to creating new friendships, I realize it is the only path to finding them.
By Jane Horvath
“Some of our interactions to bring hope to others cannot be measured.” Dan Miller
When you own a small business like I do, it’s easy to get caught up in measuring “success” by numbers–numbers such as how many people may be reading my posts or want to be on my email list, or what products or books are selling. Some churches measure attendance and offering amounts. Individuals track their to-do lists to see if they have accomplished what they want to in a given day. And of course, businesses report their profits and losses, hoping the profits are growing. As a rule, we humans are into tracking our progress and measuring “success.”
In some ways, the practice of tracking our progress on goals, budgeting our finances, and keeping lists are good tools to help us stay disciplined and on track. However, we must remember that we cannot always measure the impact our words, actions and disposition can have on others.
Do you still remember a certain positive or negative comment someone made to you growing up? Does that still shape you?
Do you have a certain opinion of a product or company because of one negative experience you–or someone else–has had with them?
Have you ever had someone tell you what you mean to them, or what some action meant to them, and you hadn’t a clue about the impact that one thing would have on someone?
Did a certain experience in nature, with music, or from a book have a profound impact on you and not necessarily on the people with you at the time?
Some time ago, I was blessed when someone shared about my writing having impact on someone they know–something I would probably never have guessed. A couple days later, in an email dialog, an individual said, “Thanks for all you do to make our lives better.” I am grateful God allows these occasional glimpses, and am reminded that we may never know the impact something may have on someone else. That’s why it’s important to walk closely with God on a daily basis. We will never be perfect. We all may be the negative memory someone has, and people are responsible for what they do with those memories. But if we walk with God daily, and try to listen to His leading, we can leave more positive deposits than negative ones.
Let’s be especially open to bringing hope to others today!
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12 NIV
By Beth Beutler
Henry Cloud and John Townsend presented their research based work in the book titled Boundaries , published by Zondervan in 2008. In the years following the release of that now classic work, they have gone on to publish a series of books that drill down into specific types of boundary issues, including teens, marriage, leadership, kids, and face to face conflict management.
Physical boundaries can define where my yard ends and yours begins, or where one country ends and another begins. Personal boundaries are much more intangible. They can be easily breached because we oftentimes haven’t defined them, not even for ourselves. Personal boundaries help me to identify and clarify what IS mine to own and take responsibility for and what is NOT, where I end, and where someone else begins. Prov. 4:23 instructs us to
“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”
Cloud and Townsend presented 10 basic principles as tools to help each of us establish and maintain healthy personal boundaries. We will begin with their first Principle, and I will try to apply it in everyday, very practical, biblical ways. Above all, I hope that these applications will spur each of us to think, to reflect, and to pray asking The Lord our God for His help:
#1: The Principle of Sowing and Reaping
The New Living Translation of Galatians 6:7 tells us “Don’t be misled– you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant,” or as the King James says “You will always reap what you sow.”
So let’s get practical with this principle. If I plant roses, I expect to get roses, if I plant tomatoes I expect to get tomatoes. But in our relationships there can be a real disconnect for us. It may not be easy for me to see or to admit that what I am reaping in this relationship is directly tied to what I myself am sowing into it. When I look at I Cor 13, I see God’s formula there for loving others. One sure thing about the Word of God is that when I actually obey it, it works! My vision becomes clearer, my perspectives change, and my relationships smooth out in ways I never thought possible while I was attempting it in my own strength.
So–Let’s apply the principle and see what happens:
- Sowing ~ I insist on my own way
- Reaping ~ I get resentment and push back from you—mmmmm
- Sowing ~I treat you rudely or with unkindness
- Reaping ~ I get rude and unkind responses, [ouch!! that hurts]
- Sowing ~I tend to keep a record of your wrongs (I just cannot help myself) and maybe worse, I bring them up whenever we are in conflict
- Reaping ~ You keep your own list as ammunition and self-protection and throw it back at me
Ok, so what are the outcomes here? Relationships that are fraught with frustration, discouragement, resentment, or regrets; one or both feel misunderstood, invisible, or worse, used and abused.
God’s Word is so clear that there is an absolute and direct correlation — what I sow I will reap. We can see it in our marriages, in parenting our children, in our professional relationships, and in our social relationships. Ephesians 4:22-24 tells us to “put off the old man and to put on the new man, in Christ likeness.”
In the eyes of the world, this principle can diminish to narcissistic nonsensical thinking—“this will make life nicer, this will give me what I want, what you get is what you give–so be kind so they will be kind and it will make life nicer for you.” But God’s ways are never superficial. They are complex layer upon layer of meaning and value. He always has our good and His glory in mind. So, we do not obey to see what I can get out of it for ME. Instead, let’s close out by looking at what GOD has in mind for His people when we apply His sowing and reaping principle into each of our relationships:
- Sowing ~ I do not rudely insist on my own way
- Reaping ~ You feel seen and heard, you feel included in the process, and you feel that you have something to offer to the relationship
- Sowing ~I treat you with patience and kindness
- Reaping ~ You feel loved, valued, and understood, affirmed in how God has made you
- Sowing ~I keep NO record of your wrongs. I tear up your IOU to me, I give to you forgiveness with no strings attached as Christ did for me. This means I never bring it back up again.
- Reaping ~ You do not live in fear around me, wondering what am I going to throw at you. You feel understood in your failings, included in the community of us who fail regularly and run to Him for grace. This allows you to live freely and unreservedly give yourself to your relationships.
I am sure you saw the switchover. We went from “I” to “you” in every application. When I believe God about ‘one anothering” I see myself beginning to walk in newness of a life that soars with joy, passion and peace with both God and others.
By Cindy Van Wingerden, PhD, RN