One Key to Happiness: Family

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Everyone’s searching to belong. We search to belong to a family, a friend circle, or some other sort of group.

When people become Christians, they start searching for where they fit within the community of believers. They wonder, “Where do I fit in? Where is the place of community for me? Where am I going to be encouraged and loved? Who will hold up my arms when I’m about to fall into temptation?” 

May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers
until you become a community of peoples.
Genesis 28:3 NIV

We can find what we’re searching for within our own families. The problem today is that families are dysfunctional. Parents don’t stick together. They get a divorce. Strife steps in and tears down the bonds in marriage and families. It tears mother from daughter, father from son, sibling from a sibling, and families splinter.

Even in school, what do we do? We promote segregation within the family. You go into your grade, and your siblings go into their grades. You don’t see each other every day. When you do, the older one probably looks down on the younger ones because they are not the same age. The school categorizes everyone by age.

The ultimate community we are all searching for is provided through the family. A family doesn’t need to be perfect; it just needs to be united. I think God set it right there in front of us: “May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples” (Genesis 28:3 NIV). Ask people from big families. They have built-in friendships and bonds that small families may not experience.

Pray with me:
I pray today, Father, that the walls we have built up in our families and close friendships would be torn down and we would choose unity over having our own way. I pray that we will be like-minded and one, as Christ is one with God. I pray that we would choose to lay down our lives over taking up our platform or grievances against each other. I pray that we will no longer be easily offended by one another and that we will encourage each other every single day. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Perspective and Little Annoyances

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I don’t know about you, but I can get upset at the dumbest things.

There was a time I was driving home from the gym and saw an emergency vehicle swashing near my home, and for a moment, I would stop and think, “Lord, I hope my husband’s not in that accident.”

We are so foolish when the only thing we have in front of our eyes is temporal crap. We are so full of it. We can get so frustrated over the dishes or running water. But yet, in a blink of an eye, our loved one may not be present to run the water, leave dishes in the sink, smack our ear, or hug us. We take it for granted that they are going to be there tomorrow, the next day, and the next day. We can be so mad over the dumbest things.

For example, with my husband, I get frustrated because he is defensive. If I talk to him about anything, he automatically defends himself instead of pausing and processing what I say and then talking back to me and giving me a logical statement. I can become so frustrated—but then I am not carrying the love of God. I know the minute I see an emergency vehicle and pray to God it’s not him, the defensiveness does not even matter. I clearly love the man.

If I could keep in mind the eternal perspective that life is short—it’s merely a breath—can you imagine how differently I would respond? How would I respond differently today?

I would like to challenge you today to live with this in mind: What if your loved one, your spouse, or your friend were gone tomorrow in a blink? Is there anything you would do differently? Is there anything you have said but would take back? Is there anything you’d like to stop nitpicking about? Is there any little thing in which you use your words to tear someone down but would turn around and build them up instead? Is there someone you would hug more today? Someone you would call and tell them you love them? Don’t hesitate—do it.

The next time you are frustrated about something small, pause and picture in your mind an ambulance picking them up off the ground, and then see if you want to say something about it.

Serving That Adds You a Credit

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Isn’t it fun to be asked to do something? Isn’t it great when people trust you with a job? Sometimes you look at those people and think, “Well, I don’t want to let them down. They entrusted me with this great responsibility.”

The truth is that we should never work for people. We should always work for God. Whatever we do, we should do it as if we’re serving the Lord (see Colossians 3:23).

Many times, people get lackadaisical about what they are doing. They start serving people or a cause. They stop serving the Lord, and their work becomes less than excellent. They become lazy. All they offer is poo-poo service. They have great ideas but no execution or follow through. They’re not willing to put in the hard work. They want someone else to do it for them.

Scripture says, “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!” (Proverbs 6:6 NIV). I believe every one of us on God’s team should be like an ant. God tells us what to do, and we should be working hard, day and night, night and day, lifting things that are heavier than our own bodies and working as if we’re serving Him. We need to be strong and accomplish His work with great excellence!

People Pleasers

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People-pleasers—they are dangerous. They will run over someone to make someone else happy. This might be good if you are on the receiving end. But at what cost do you want to be pleased?

They are dangerous because their god is not stable. Their idol is a moving target. Their god is the one they seek the most approval from in the moment.

They are angry. When they disappoint someone, they can easily lose their temper because they feel like a failure; they feel like they are not high and lifted up in your eyes.

People-pleasers live out of their emotions. They need to feed their flesh so they can have the fulfillment of approval.

People-pleasers cannot be a sold-out follower of Christ because it’s impossible to please man and serve Christ. You cannot serve two masters.

Galatians 1:10 (NIV)
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

People pleasers are selfish. They are self-protecting. They call all of their efforts servanthood, but they’re striving to make themselves look good. James 3:16 says where there is a self-serving motive or selfishness, wherever someone is striving because of their selfish desire to be approved, they will find disorder and every evil work. Wherever there is a self-serving motive, you need to watch your back.

James 3:16 (NIV)
For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

People-pleasers are disobedient. We are supposed to work for the Lord in everything we do. But when you work for man, you may cut corners or be deceitful in everything. You are working for man whose expectations are always changing.

Colossians 3:23 (NIV)
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,

Colossians 3:22 (NIV)
 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.

Numbers 23:19 (NIV)
God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?

People-pleasers are always seeking praise. They practice their righteous efforts for others.

Matthew 6:1-34 (NIV)
Giving to the Needy
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
“This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,  your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.  But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Treasures in Heaven
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
Do Not Worry
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

People-pleasers are unsafe. They are never safe or stable, because the Lord’s shelter is the only safe shelter.

Psalm 91:1 (NIV)
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

The fear of man is a snare. It’s a trap.

People-pleasers are adulterers. Friendship with the world is enmity with God.

People-pleasers take advantage of others. They have a self-protective nature.

Leviticus 25:17 (NIV)
Do not take advantage of each other, but fear your God. I am the Lord your God.

People-pleasing makes them step on anyone to get what they want to please.

Psalm 1 (NIV)
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.
Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

1 Thessalonians 4:6 (NIV)
… and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before.

They smooth-talk you and try to make what they want your idea so they won’t have any opposition. Once again, they are self-protecting. They deceive the innocent.

Romans 16:18 (NIV)
For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.

Heed the voice of the people pleaser. Let no man deceive you. They secretly hate having to please you.

Matthew 24:4 (NIV)
 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you.”

1 John 4:20 (NIV)
Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.

As a man bringing you into bondage. If you are in bondage, you are not free.

2 Corinthians 11:20 (NIV)
In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or puts on airs or slaps you in the face.

Rebellion comes from bitterness. Rebellion is the sin of witchcraft. Stubbornness is as inequity and idolatry.

Someday Your Feet Will Be Carried, Too

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Youth is celebrated.
Yet, everyone ages.
Everyone dies.

A new, baby tree is so cute and beautiful. It’s flexible; it bends to the ground in a heavy wind. It’s short, unable to see the horizon over older trees. The bark is youthful and smooth, without many marks or deep grooves. The bright-green, tender leaves are small and dainty.

The older tree climbs far above the new tree. The trunk is thicker. The bark is rough and deeply grooved. It’s apparent that it has had much wear and tear over the years. The trunk is strong and stable. Its branches can hold the weight of climbing children and homemade swings. It can stand firm through strong winds. It towers over the other trees, giving it a perspective many others cannot see. Its leaves are dark and thick, veiny and tough, even coarse. Each mark and groove tells a story of a storm weathered, a season endured.

My precious grandma stayed in a nursing home. My daughter said, “Mom, nursing homes are like orphanages for old people. They are mostly alone, with visitors few and far between. People come in for an hour to visit once in a while, and then they’re gone again.” It crushed her heart.

Youth is idolized in our nation, and older people are devalued. 

Getting old isn’t glamorous. 

What’s the …
Newest trend?
Best youth-restoring moisturizer?
Coolest thing to wear?
Latest diet?

People look to plastic surgery to lift it, tuck it, change it, keep it youthful.

Everyone wants to stay young. But it’s in growing that we gain wisdom to live by and share. It’s the storm survival that makes us like that tall, sturdy tree. Our marks are testimony to our endurance. We gain perspective and can have peace in the storm because we know we will make it through, even if we lose everything. We know there’s a circle of life and we are just a tiny part of it.

The life that once seemed larger than life when we really thought we were somebody now seems so small, like we haven’t left enough of a mark.

Will anyone remember me?
How long until I am forgotten?
What more could I have done?
All those years I wasted, believing I was invincible.

Everyone ages.
Everyone dies.

Someday your feet will be carried, too.

One day you will be like the very people you see no value in now. You may end up alone in a nursing home, wondering whether anyone will remember who you are in 100 years.

When you are on your next trip in nature, remember to look at the trees. The most beautiful ones are large and weathered, with the thickest trunks and intricacies in every branch. Their leaves are larger than your hands. Their branches stretch to the heavens.

That same stunning beauty can be found in the wrinkle lines, spotted hands, thick trunk, and hunched back of an elderly person. They carry their stories in their bodies and their minds. They will mesmerize you if you just ask.

Just ask.

Maybe you will find some wisdom to help your tiny new leaves weather some future storms.

You know they’re coming.


3 Types of Struggles

There are three types of people when they are in the midst of struggling. The first are those who struggle in the public eye. The second are those who struggle all alone. The third are those who struggle amongst their inner circle.

The first are those who tell everyone every detail of what is going on with their life. They can appear to be dramatic. One day they are great, and the next day they are awful. So every person who can peek into their world sees their roller coaster of a life, moment by moment, from day to day.

I have witnessed some people going through trials and tough circumstances in the public eye. They have asked people to pray for life or for their loved one. I have actually heard people who knew of their circumstances pray death over their loved ones—that they would be comforted and it would go quickly. They didn’t actually listen to the heart of their loved one. They listened to their own understanding. That is a con of living in the public eye. 

The pro of this is everyone knows what you are going through and they can throw resources, food, or anything else you need in your direction. They know what is going on, so if you actually lose a battle, you don’t have to explain what was happening behind the scenes that no one knew anything about. They are able to pity you or empathize with you. They are also able to pray with you and pray over you.

When I was pregnant in 2000, I had not told many people yet because my little sister had gotten pregnant at the exact same time. Because this was my second child, I really didn’t want to upstage her. I really wanted her to enjoy the attention of having a baby. So I only told a handful of people. I hadn’t made it public yet. When I miscarried at twelve weeks, right around the time when I was going to make it public, no one knew I had been pregnant. So I didn’t have a crowd of people gather around me to grieve with me; no one understood what I was going through. They couldn’t have empathy or pity, and there was no help.

Second, for the people who are struggling all alone—no one knows their circumstance. They have told no one. It’s all internal. The roller coaster is still happening, but no one has seen it. It’s not outwardly expressed. It is completely inward. No one knows about it. No one knows how you are doing. Outwardly, you look amazing.

These people are so susceptible to suicide because no one knows how they are doing. When I was a teenager going through abuse at home, I didn’t tell my mom. I didn’t tell a single friend. I was too ashamed. Every day was like a mask. There was not a single person who knew what was truly going on in my life. I am positive that the drama I had with all of my friends stemmed from drama at home with my stepdad—and they had no idea.

It’s when you are struggling all alone and there is no one to give you a hand and lift you out that your thoughts become increasingly negative to an extreme perspective, where the negativity can make you take your own life. I cannot think of a single pro to struggling all alone. I can’t think of one.

Third, those who struggle within their inner circle—these are people who aren’t really in the public eye. They don’t tell anyone and everyone. They may share it with some stranger because they may feel their story or testimony can encourage someone. But other than that, they really have a close few who they share it with.

I think I generally fall into this category. I’ve witnessed so many people struggle in the public eye. I’ve witnessed so many people die because they have struggled on their own. For me, I have people in my life who I know will stand firm and fight for me. They will speak boldly to me and speak truth into me. I have known them and respected them long enough to receive it. I know they will be a source of encouragement. I know I can reach out to them at any time, in weakness or in strength, and they will never shame me or discourage me in any way. They hold my feet steady on a rock. 

I am so very grateful to those who hold up my arms like Aaron and Hur. It wasn’t a crowd holding up Moses’ arms. It was two people holding up his arms. Gossip can’t be stirred in amongst the few. Jesus didn’t have a zillion disciples. He chose twelve. He definitely spoke and taught the word to the masses, but He chose twelve who were drawn in and were close with Him all the time.

I am thankful for those of you who are in my circle. You know who you are. I love and appreciate you so much. I praise God for the depth of roots in the truth and your intimate relationship with Him that makes me want to draw close to you, too, because I recognize the Spirit in you.

If you are struggling through something, don’t be discouraged. The Bible says, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV). Struggles will come. It’s not if, it’s when. So when they come, be sure you have people around you who will remind you of the overcoming promises of Jesus, people who won’t try to explain or lean on their own understanding, people who will stand firm with you in Christ. That will be their position, and they won’t change their mind. They will remind you of God’s promises of who He is. 

The last thing I want to hear is someone who is unsettled or unsure of what is coming from the enemy and what is coming from God. I can tell you right now, it will make you toss to and fro and be dramatic, up and down, all over the place. Find some people to help you remain steadfast because in the shelter of the Most High God, we remain stable and fixed, under the shadow of the Almighty. Thank you, Jesus.

5 Keys to Unhealthy Relationships


Want an unhealthy relationship?

1) Never apologize when you judge them (even in your heart).

2) Criticize everything they do.

3) Talk about them behind their back. This is especially awesome. One negative + another negative = worse!

4) Never ask for forgiveness when you mess up.

5) Ignore the harsh words you spoke and let them fester in their hearts forever.

Maybe you are asking, “Why aren’t these okay? They’ve worked for me in the past.”

Maybe they have worked, but they are friendship, intimacy, and marriage stealers! The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. It’s time to recognize the enemy working through us and say, “Get behind me!”

1) “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7 NKJV). See, you don’t even want to have judgmental thoughts in your heart because they will eventually come out of your mouth or eat you on the inside.

2) Over time, criticizing every single thing someone does will make their ears grow deaf to your voice. They won’t seek you for encouragement because they know the kick in the face will follow. Want intimacy? Try shutting your face and speaking life into someone.

3) If you open your mouth to slander another person and the person jumps in and agrees with you, it only makes it worse. Just don’t. Take your ugly thoughts to God so you don’t site the pot.

4) Always apologize. Make it right. I have a friend who is asking each of her friends, “Do you have any offense or bitterness towards me?” She’s doing everything she can to fight for peace in the relationships that she values.

5) Harsh words cut. They leave wounds and scars, places where bitter infection can breed depression, offense, or even hatred. Don’t pretend you didn’t speak those ugly things. Decide in your heart if you meant them and why. What’s wrong with you that you feel that way? We need to do a heart check. Were you striking out because you were angry? Is it a defense mechanism? Is it how you really feel? Regardless, you need to know the source. You will eat the fruit of your own words. Think about the person you hurt in your emotional outburst and how much you value them. Consider what you are thankful for, and it will give you perspective. Suddenly, you will realize the thing you were actually frustrated about is very small.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but your words will never hurt me. This isn’t true: “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21 NIV). Even ugly words spoken out of your own mouth will be words that you will eat. You reap what you sow.

Some people never apologize. They ignore or justify their sin—their judging, their critical spirit, their unkind words—sweeping it under the rug and acting like everything’s cool.

Apologizing, reconciling, and working things out, even though it’s harder, in the end actually makes relationships stronger. Sweeping it under the rug and ignoring it will always leave a little infection for a later, much larger blow out.

Ask for forgiveness, and also forgive people when they offend you. If you have trouble forgiving other people, keep in mind how much God has forgiven you:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
— 1 John 1:9 (NIV)


Being Obedient to God

This is a dangerous statement because our society today tells us, “Just be you. Be who you are. You know who you are. Do what your heart desires. Fulfill your desires.”

I’ve learned the hard way to be careful about sharing this because it only exists for those people who are searching the heart of God in all of their ways—not some of their ways, not only in church on Sunday morning, but in all of their ways. They acknowledge God in all of their ways.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5–6 NIV) 

That word ‘acknowledge’ there means to know God relationally. In everything you do, be in communion with God. That’s really what it means.

If you go out and do what you want to do, and that includes sleeping around and making immoral choices, then you are not acknowledging God in all of your ways. He is not a God of sin. This message is not designed for people who are trying to fulfill their fantasies or their sinful desires.

This is for people who are truly seeking God with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength. They are seeking to know Him. They read the Word. They are falling in love with God more every day. Those people can do this. God gives them the desires of their hearts.

When you’re not really seeking Him, when He is not your first priority and you are not pursuing Him with everything you have because He is good and you want to know Him, then the desires of your heart may not be purely His. They may be your desires for the old things your flesh used to want—you know, bigger house, nicer car, better body, somebody to love you, somebody to fill your void. 

Well, God is your void filler. He is your house. You are His house. You have everything you need in Him, and there is nothing that you lack. Lack is not your portion when you are in Him. I think it takes a while after we begin seeking God for the desires of our heart to transfer from our old, worldly desires to His desires.

But once you are seeking Him and you really know who you are as His child, He puts His desires in your heart. He puts in you the desire to take care of orphans and widows. He gives you the desire to help people. He gives you the desire not to honk the horn and be mad at somebody who road-raged you or drove you off the road. He gives you the desire to offer freedom and forgiveness. He gives you the desires of your heart because He is placing His desires in your heart.

The more you seek Him, the more you find Him and the more He gives you His desires. When that happens, you’ll know. If the desire in your heart is to go out and smoke and drink, that’s not it, okay? You’ll know when it’s God’s desire. If you’re walking and you see someone and think, “I feel like I should give this person twenty bucks,” that’s probably God’s desire in your heart. He is going to provide the twenty bucks, and He is going to want you to give the twenty bucks away.

You can trust that when you are seeking God with all of your heart, you are hearing from Him and He is putting His desires in your heart. When you are first learning to distinguish between God’s desires and the desires of your flesh, what you want to do is check His Word. See whether the desire in your heart lines up with how God teaches us to live in Scripture. If it doesn’t and it’s sinful, then you don’t want to follow that desire.

You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more. (Psalm 10:17–18 NIV)

One of the things I do is let the peace of Christ rule in me. I wake up with God on my heart, and I want to be with Him all of the time. I am with Him all of the time, and He is with me. Before I do anything, I stop and wait for the peace of God to run over me. I ask, “Is this the peace of God?” There’s a difference between man’s direction and God’s, and God’s is always surrounded by tremendous peace.

God Is the Same Yesterday, Today, and Forever

If God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, then reconcile the Old Testament with the New Testament for me.
I could write a novel about this. Let me just say that for starters, God is the God of life. That is why He created the Garden of Eden. From the beginning of time, man has been rebellious against God. God has had to plan to redeem and bring them back to life in the Garden of Eden. That is heaven. That has been His plan all along. His plan was life. The thief came to steal, kill, and destroy. But He came to bring life. 

That is how God is the same today and for always and forever. He is for you, not against you. He wants to prosper you, not to harm you. He wishes, in all things, for you to be in good health. That is His heart for you. His heart is the Garden of Eden. He has been reconciling our screw-ups back from the beginning of time in Genesis 3 all the way to the New Testament and all the way through today.
There was a curse put on us when we decided to depart our ways from God. When you don’t stay under the ways of God, guess what happens? The enemy has free reign in your life. Submit to God, resist the devil, and he will flee. But if you don’t submit to God and you don’t resist the devil, he will pester you. He will take your life. He will destroy you. He is out to take you down. God is a gentleman. He is not in control of your life. He is only in control when you surrender. He is in charge of this world. He has the beginning and the end in His hands. He knows the outcome. You can trust Him in all things because He is the beginning and the end.
He is the reconciler. He is reconcilingman to Him, the earth back to heaven. He is the ultimate reconciler. He paid the price. He sent His only Son to die for you so His Holy Spirit could live in you. In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit could only come upon you because there hadn’t been a sacrifice. Jesus’ Spirit wasn’t released into people yet.
It’s like when Noah was on the boat and he sent out the dove, and it came back. It had nowhere it could land. The second time it went out, it came back because all it could do was pick from the trees. It still had nowhere to land. But the third time he sent it out, it landed and never came back. That is the picture of the Holy Spirit. 

The first time the dove went out, it was like the Holy Spirit. God would give His Spirit to people and let them use the Holy Spirit for a little while, and then He would take the Spirit back. Then when Jesus came, it was a unique time for the Holy Spirit because the Spirit resided in Jesus. He could give the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit came back. But the Holy Spirit didn’t go back fully and never returned to God until Jesus died. When Jesus died, He sent His Spirit, who is permanently deposited into us, guaranteeing our inheritance now.
It wasn’t like that in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, after we sinned there became curses for our sin. Guess what? Jesus became the cursed for us when He died. We no longer live under the law. We live under the blessing.
People do not understand that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever if they don’t understand that God is the God of the New Testament, that He is Jesus, or if they have not read the Word from cover to cover and understand that God is love. He is not a wrathful, angry God who is sitting up in heaven, mad and angry. He has blotted out our transgressions as far as the east is from the west.
What He is upset about is that you have rejected His Son, Jesus Christ. You have rejected the gift. You have rejected receiving the Holy Spirit, so He cannot be your guide and your protector. You have rejected His provision for the plan to work out salvation inyou. You have rejected it, and you continue to reject it daily. You have accepted Him as your Savior, yet you turn around and continue to reject Him and live in your own ways and your own understanding. You live according to your own time, your own calendar, and your own schedule.
He has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him. He has given us the opportunity to know Him. He walked in the garden with Adam and Eve. One of the things I hate the most is when people say, “Sin separated you from God. God can have nothing to do with you when you are in sin.” But the first thing God did when Adam and Eve sinned was He went after them. He came into their presence and said, “Where are you? Come out.” Why? Because He is love. 

God has been seeking after us all along. Sin didn’t separate Him and make Him angry and make Him not have anything to do with you. No. He has been working it out, seeking you, pursuing you, wanting to know people, and wanting to get people to come to Him. That is His heart. His heart’s desire is to seek and find the lost. He came for the sick. He spends time with the sick. He doesn’t just spend time with the holier-than-thou. He didn’t come for that. He didn’t come for the righteous. He never did, but He wants to be in community with us. His heart is for everyone to be saved.
Yet people die without being saved and knowing Him. Why? Because He is a gentleman. He gave man a choice. He gave us a choice from the first day: good and evil. “Here are two trees. Pick which one you will choose. Pick one you will follow.” Every day we get that in front of us, minute by minute. “Who will you choose? Will you go out and party with friends, or will you stay here with Me? Will you spend time with Me, or are you going to put yourself on the throne? Where are you going to be?”
He is the same God yesterday, today, and forever. When you remove yourself from His umbrella of protection, just like Adam and Eve did, the enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. The locusts will start taking apart your life. You are not under the protection when you remove yourself.
Yes, He is the same. He is the same loving guy who is trying to restore what we have destroyed.

In Jesus’ name, I bind all of this.


To be totally honest, my heart is broken this morning. I don’t generally share thoughts like this, but I’m sure some of you are experiencing the same thing.

I don’t understand why people quit on relationships because of one disagreement, one hurdle, or a slew of them. The Bible says seven times seventy will you forgive. But what we say in our flesh is: “I’ll forgive you, but I will never forget. I will never trust you again.” That is not actual forgiveness. Jesus forgave, and His forgiveness is forgiving and forgetting. That means treating someone as if there were never a wrong.
I don’t understand why people quit on people. Jesus’ last words were a prayer for unity. Yet people do it all the time. They are like, “I had a disagreement with you. You offended me. You encroached on my territory. So I don’t want anything to do with you—or I will, but only at arm’s length. This is the distance at which I am going to keep you.” This attitude is not godly. You can think you have godly character and godly wisdom all day long, but unforgiveness is not godly.
I completely disagree with the boundaries taught in today’s self-help and relationship books. Whenever you are building your own boundaries, you are leaning on your own defenses and you are leaning on your own walls to protect yourself; you are not trusting in the Lord. Instead, you’re trusting in what you can do and what you can protect. The truth is that we need to be opened up, unwound, and fully and truly have our hearts opened so God can work with us constantly and keep unity and bring restoration. He can bring ultimate, deep healing.
The friendships in which we have worked through hard things are the deepest, longest-term friendships I have. They are awesome. They are forever friendships. They are the ones where you can get back together after a while and feel like no time has passed.
My concern is what are we teaching our children? We are teaching our children that people are expendable based on a feud or an offense. These people aren’t your spouse, we say, and you can break up with anybody except your spouse. How can your children truly understand this mindset? How can they find the line?

Someday we are going to be disappointed, but we need to teach our kids that people are God’s children. We shouldn’t be breaking up and practicing divorce every day with friends, family, and people who make us mad. Learn to suck it up and get over it. Learn to be forgivers and forgetters in Jesus’ name. This is the only way. We should do it by example to enable our children to love with reckless abandon.
You know what? The world is harsh. The world will hate us. People are going to put up their barriers, and new Christians are going to try to protect themselves. Eventually, in time, they are going to learn to trust the Protector. They are going to let their hearts be exposed and let their hearts be hurt. They are going to grow from it because they worked through some difficulties. If our kids can learn to remain, then they are going to be trustworthy.
I was asking myself this morning: Is there anyone trustworthy? Is there anyone you can count on to remain in your life? Do you constantly have to pretend to be someone you are not and tiptoe around people because they are so easily offended that with the first offense, they will simply walk out of your life? What a waste of time. Why am I going to pour into you if, at the first offense, you are going to walk away? Wow. I’ve invested all this time, and you just quit. You’re a quitter. You’re not a finisher. Be a finisher. Be a strong finisher.
God is long-suffering. You’d think one year, five years, or thirty years would be long-suffering. It’s not. It’s short. Be trustworthy in the short things and the small things so God can expand your territory and give you more.