How to Get a Christ-Centered Life

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I am listening to the audio version of The Shack by William P. Young, and one concept from yesterday’s reading (listening) really got me thinking. [Yes, I realize that it is a fiction book; however there are some great insights in there.]  God doesn’t want to be the top of our hierarchy pyramid, he wants to be the center of our carousel.

“I don’t just want a piece of you and a piece of your life. Even if you were able, which you are not, to give me the biggest piece, that is not what I want. I want all of you and all of every part of you and your day.”
Wm. Paul Young, The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity

When we think about our relationship with God in a hierarchy sense, (God first, husband second, kids third, etc.) we tend to treat it like a checklist. I did my half our devotion, I’m good for the day right? No! God wants to be a part of everything we do. He wants to be the center of everything we do. When we go to the grocery store, he wants to be there. When we go to the PTO meeting, he wants to be there. God is not an item on our checklist to be crossed off; he is supposed to be a part of us, an essential part of who we are. When we treat him like an item on the checklist this is more like religion than relationship.

I don’t follow Christ or walk in obedience because I have to, but because I want to. I really want to. Why? Simply, because I love Christ more than I love myself. I don’t do it because I want to please him (even though I really do); I don’t do it to make Christ love me (he can’t love me more than he already does). I don’t do it for rewards or blessings (although I do enjoy these). I do it because I can’t help but do it. My relationship with Christ is that important and that encompassing. Now, do I always get it right? No. I make plenty of mistakes; however, God’s grace is right there to cover them all.

It hasn’t always been this way for me. For many, many years I sat in a church pew on Sunday mornings waiting for something to happen. I knew there was something more. I felt it deep in my soul. I knew that Sunday morning Christianity wasn’t enough, but I couldn’t see how it was possible to live for Christ.   I wasn’t willing to give up my life, my wants, or my pleasures.  Yes, on Sunday mornings, there were times I was inspired to do so, but by Sunday afternoon my selfishness had returned.

Come on, we all know the scriptures:

“I have been crucified with Christ…” (Galatians 2:20a)

“…and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…” (Galatians 2:20b).

“… and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and delivered Himself up for me. (Galatians 2:20c).

But it is one thing to know and another thing to live.

I wish I could put together an easy “how to” post on making God the center of your life (i.e living for Christ).  But as such with life, it is anything but easy.  What I can do is share where I started.

My transformation began with building a relationship with God.  I did this by seeking him.  I was kind of like a stalker.  I started talking to him all the time, throughout my whole day. In bed, in my car (I started to think I needed a bumper sticker that said “I’m not crazy, I’m just talking to God”), at the park. I began telling God all my secrets, even the ugly ones. I was just honest with Him.

I also started reading the Word. I know someone of you are rolling your eyes at such a cliche answers, but I can’t help it; it is the truth. If you want to know God more and have a relationship with Him, you must read His Word. Once I was in His Word, I began to really know Him and my desire to know Him more grew and grew.

I also surrounded myself with people who were just as excited to know God as I was. I would have been at my church 24/7 if I could have.  I cannot emphasis enough the importance of surrounding yourself with a supportive community.  If you don’t have this, contact me privately.  I would be more than happy to be your community. (missybaroff@gmail.com)

Then, I began  putting things in action. I began to apply what I was learning in the scriptures. That sounds like obedience you say? Why, yes, I started to walk in obedience (I just love when I can throw that in there).

There is no doubt in my mind that having a relationship with God is vital to making Him the center of your life, but it is not the only thing.

The relationship makes you want to live your life for Christ, Holy Spirit gives you the ability to live your life for Christ.

Once I established a relationship with God, it became easier and easier to want more. I couldn’t get enough and God became an essential part of me. However, I was still missing a key element, Holy Spirit.

I wish I had more time to go into that today, but I feel like I would do Him a great injustice by trying to cram Him in, so I will continue on with Holy Spirit tomorrow.  [Yes, I realize I don't usaully post on Fridays, but that is the beauty of not working anymore, I have lots more time to write.  I also have more time to finally figure all the ins and outs of word press and finally know how to do block quotes and add colors.  lol.  It only took me a year and a half.]

Be blessed and be a blessing,

Missy

Beyond the Book Review: Not a Fan: An Open Invitation

I know it has been a few weeks, but I haven’t forgotten about our open study on Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman.

For those who are new to my blog, we are currently discussing the book Not a Fan. As the title indicates, it is more than a book review but far from an official book study.

In Chapter 8, Kyle takes a long hard look at who Jesus wants as a follower.

Many, many non-believers and Christians alike seem to think that Jesus only wants the “good ones” or “perfect ones.” But the truth is, the invitation is open to anyone, and anyone means everyone.

Let me digress a moment.

John 3:16-For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

“There is a reason why that is the most often quoted verse of the Bible. In that one verse we read that God loves us, Jesus died for us, and that we can have eternal life through him. It it not unusual to go to a sporting event of some kind and see someone holding up a sign that says ‘John 3:16.’ But I’ve never seen someone hold up a sign that says ‘Luke 9:23.’ Quick say that one without looking. That may be a little tougher. But Luke 9:23 also records the words of Jesus. In fact, unlike John 3:16, Luke 9:23 is recorded in 3 of the 4 Gospels.” (p. 116)

Luke 9:23-3 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

Oh, how I love those words right now. I know crazy right? But, no worries, I am not going there today. (Yes, I did hear that collective sigh of relief.)

Luke 9:23 will likely never win an award for most appealing advertisement for Christianity or be used in promotional literature for recruitment. But it is crucial to an accurate understanding of the Gospel.

John 3:16 emphasizes believing; Luke 9:23 emphasizes following.

Both are necessary; there is no believing without following and no following without believing. (p. 116)

“Jesus begins his call to follow him with these two words, If anyone….. Anyone is significant because it makes it clear whom he is inviting. He is inviting anyone. Anyone is an all-inclusive word. Anyone means everyone. Jesus does not begin with a list of pre-qualifications. His invitation to follow is addressed to Anyone. Many people don’t realize they have been invited to follow. They think, ‘Not after what I’ve done. He wouldn’t want me to follow him. I would never make the cut.’ They assume they are not qualified and as a result never take seriously what it means to follow Jesus. After all, what is the point in filling out an application if you know you won’t get approved?” (pp 116-117).

Anyone means everyone. Did you get that? I just wanted to make sure you didn’t miss it.

We all have stains; we all have pasts. But nothing disqualifies us from following Jesus Christ. Don’t believe me? Well, take a look at the disciples. Talk about a bunch of messed up people. Wait, also look at Paul (you know the one who used to be Saul and persecuted all those Christians).

One of the disciples, Matthew was a tax collector. In Biblical times, that was about as low as one could go seeing as he stole money from his own people. The lowness of Matthew’s status equates to something like a child molester today. Think about, a child molester following Jesus! But it is possible. Jesus forgives. He is the King of Second Chances. Jesus will use anyone who follows him. Nothing you or anyone else has done prevents them from repenting and following Jesus Christ.

Imagine your reaction if you had overheard Jesus telling a child molester, “Follow Me, ” just as he did to Matthew.

When Jesus invited Matthew to follow, he was making it clear that this is an open invitation extended not solely to the religious elite, the morally upright, and those who have their lives together. But it is an open invitation to all of us who are hiding some stains.” (p. 122)

Kyle also points out that people mistakenly believe that the open invitation to follow Jesus has an asterisk beside it like many car commercials. You know the ones, “Anyone can buy a car here,” but at the bottom of the screen there is an asterisk followed by, “With Approved Credit.” There is no asterisk to Jesus’ open invitation to follow him. And CHURCHES NEED TO TAKE NOTICE! A lot of our church signs say “Anyone and Everyone Welcomed,” but we don’t really mean it. No, unfortunately, a lot of our churches mean that anyone who looks like us, seems to have their lives together, and look real pretty dressed up, are welcomed. If someone has gone through a divorce, has no money, or has a drug addiction, would they be welcomed at your church? Would they be welcomed to take communion?

People, we need to open our eyes and stop trying to determine who is allowed to come to Jesus and follow him.

“Who is allowed to follow Jesus? Anyone.

Sexual past? Anyone. Ex-con? Anyone. Recently divorced? Anyone. Republican? Democrat? Anyone. Alcoholic? Anyone. Pothead? Anyone. Addict? Anyone. Hypocrite? Anyone. (p. 125)

I don’t know where you are today. I don’t know if you are struggling to believe you are worthy to follow Jesus or you’re struggling to accept that anyone can follow Jesus. But what I do know is that God is speaking to all of us today, no matter where we fall of the spectrum. He is calling us to not only accept the truth, but he wants us to start living the truth; start living like your worthy of falling; start accepting one another just as we are.

Have a blessed day!
Missy

My Sheep Hear My Voice

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Well it is official; I am currently a stay-at-home mom and wife. While it may not make sense to some around me, I know the time was right because God called me to it.

Actually I had felt and heard God tell me to quit my job long before I ever did it; I was just too confused to follow through.

If I heard God’s voice, why was I so hesitant to quit? After all, this is something I had been wanting to do for a long time. One word: doubt.

I started to doubt it was God’s voice I was hearing. Because leaving my job and spending time doing ministry was something I was longing to do, I was afraid my voice was getting in the way.

I looked all around me for confirmation. Yes, there was some confirmation; however, it was not the means I was expecting, which made me doubt a little more.

Let me elaborate:

I would be studying a passage in the Bible and I would pray for confirmation. I would get the verse I needed and just when I was feeling pretty good about the situation, I would read a verse somewhere else (Facebook, Author’s website, another blog) that made me doubt once again.

In another instance, God told me one Sunday that someone had a word for me (that has never happened to me before) and out of the blue, a church member who I have never been able to get a good read on (my discernment does not seem to work on him-nothing good or bad) said he felt called to share what God has laid on his heart. It went something like this:

“Sometimes, if we fail to act when we know God is calling us to do something, we can miss our blessing.”

Sounds pretty good doesn’t it? Then why did I still doubt?

I was still unsure because I would have preferred the message to come from someone who I could actually read seeing as one of my spiritual gifts is discernment. It is very rare for me not to be able to get a good read on someone.

[Now, some believe that because I cannot get a good read on a person, the person must be protected by an evil force. I don't necessarily agree with that blanket statement. Sometimes this may be true; other times it is not. I have found it best in this type of situation to look at the fruit of a person's life. Yes, fruit can be faked, but I believe if you pray to God, God will open your eyes to real fruit or fake fruit. I have seen both. Yes, it took me a while to see the fake's true colors, but God did open my eyes. As for the person in question, there is good fruit. Not perfect fruit, but good fruit that is getting better each day (kind of like me).]

Anyway, you can see why this was not the perfect confirmation I would have liked. There are many people in my church, who when given a word, I would have believed instantly, so I couldn’t understand why God would use the one person I could not read to give me a word. I began to really doubt what I was hearing wasn’t really from God and failed to see that two of Satan’s greatest weapons are doubt and confusion.

You see, just as soon as God gives a little bit of confirmation, Satan wants to get in there and mess things up. We must be careful with our expectations and demands. God is not a little monkey who dances on command, He will not necessarily give you the confirmation in ways you’re expecting or wanting.

A few days after the “word” from the person at church, my spirit spoke to me and said, “Wasn’t it the same voice that has been guiding you all along that told you now was the time?”

Uh oh spaghettios!

Now I really have a problem. Have I been hearing God’s voice all along or have I just been hearing mine?

It only took me a minute or two to get a grip. I was confident that I had been following the voice of God since being filled with the Spirit one and a half years ago. And once I was able to stand firm on that, I got it.

John 10: 14 (NKJ)- I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.

John 10:27 (NKJ)- My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

You see, I got so caught up trying to get outside confirmation that I missed the importance of hearing God’s message directly. I know the voice of God. I know when my Spirit is talking and when I am talking, deep down I know.

The lesson here for all of us is that we are the sheep. We know our Shepard’s voice. We don’t need our best friend to confirm what God has directly spoken. If everything was laid out in black and white, why would we need faith? Why would we need trust?

Now, don’t get me wrong confirmation is important, especially when you are not hearing God’s voice clearly. But we can drive ourselves crazy and miss our blessings if we rely more on outside confirmation than the voice of God.

Lord, train our ears to hear your voice clearly and teach us to act faithfully and promptly upon command. In Jesus’ almighty name I pray, AMEN!

Have a blessed day!
Missy

ISIS Simplified

Below is an article I am preparing for my church newsletter. Please understand that I am not an expert of any kind in this field. I struggle to understand the complexities of these types of issues, which is the reason why I have to simplify it. Some co-workers commented it helped them get a clearer understanding, so I thought I would share it with you all.

Understanding the situation in Iraq can be quite difficult as it is easy to get overwhelmed with the many different terms and the mass volume of information. It is past time to simplify the matter.

What is the difference between ISIS and ISIL?

ISIS stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. This is an Al Qaeda splinter group of approximately 15,000 soldiers. They are responsible for thousands of deaths in the Syrian civil war and in Iraq.

ISIL is just another name used, mostly by government sources, as ISIS is now gaining more influence and expanding its borders. It stands for Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (which references the expanded region the terrorists want to occupy).

In short, it is the same group, just different abbreviations.

What do they want?

The goal of this terrorist group is to build a new country consisting of Syria Iraq, and a few other Middle Eastern countries, for the Sunni Muslims.

In their quest to gain control they are attempting to wipe out perceived enemies, such as the Iraqi government, American forces, Shia Muslims, and Christians by means of extreme violence, including suicide bombings and beheadings.

Thousands of Christians are being forced to flee from their homes in order to live as ISIS is calling for their conversions or death. Men, women, and children, no one is spared. In simple terms, ISIS is conducting a “religious cleansing,” meaning any religion other than Sunni Muslimism will not be tolerated and all will be put to death.

What time in history does this bring to mind?

Why should we care?

These Christians may be far away, but they are all brothers and sisters in Christ. They need our support. They need our prayers. Christians across the world need to unite and stand against such evils.

Furthermore, two American reporters have already been beheaded and threats against the U.S. Continue to escalate.

Think this can’t happen in the United States? Think again! In Mr. Obama’s Presidential Address on September 10, 2014, he stated there was cause for concern that Americans helping ISIS overseas now would try to return home to start attacks in the U.S.

On August 9, 2014, someone posted a picture of the ISIS flag unfurled outside the White House. The message attached, “we are in your state, we are in your cities, we are in your streets.” (Gil Kaufman-MTV News)

What can we do to help?

1. Get and stay informed-the situation is constantly changing and evolving.
2. Pray-pray earnestly and without ceasing. Fasting would be a great addition.
3. Raise Awareness-social media is a great outlet. Facebook users are changing their profile pics to the symbol of the upside down “N”, for a show of solidarity. Blogs and newsletters are another great way to get the word out.

nun

4. Write to local and federal government officials.
5. Give-Christian Aid and Open Doors are just a few organizations collecting.

James 2:16-17 (NIV): If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

Other Sources: http://www.kgwn.tv/home/headlines/Whats-the-Difference-Between-ISIL-and-ISIS;
Islamic State’s “Convert or Die” Demands Unchallenged-Global Society by Carrie Dedrick

Are you a Christian or a Disciple?

Yesterday I shared:

John 13:34-35 (NIV)-“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

I further shared that this verse meant that the world will know we are disciples by our love. If we are truly disciples, we will love.

That got me thinking, is there a difference between a Christian and a disciple?

The term Christian is found in the Bible three times, the first time being in:

Acts 11:26-….. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.

The term Christian was used to mean “Christ follower” or “little Christ.” As the name implies, a Christian was someone who believed in and followed the teachings of Christ. While at first the term was used as an insult, believers embraced it as honor because the term implied they were Christ-like.

Disciples were those who followed the teachings of Jesus Christ. To be more exact, disciples were considered to be students or apprentices of someone.

John 8:31- 31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.

Luke 6:40-A disciple is not greater than his teacher, but everyone when fully trained will be like his teacher.

In short, in Biblical times, the terms “Christian and Disciple” were interchangeable. I am not so sure the same applies in today’s times.

While most dictionaries still define “Christian” as someone who follows Christ, I think most people use it for those who believe in Christ, or even worse, those who attend church. It is like any other category of religion: Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, etc.

There are many who believe in Christ, but few who actually follow Christ by following His teachings. I equate this with the “fan or follower” in Kyle Idleman’s book Not A Fan.

You can believe in Christ and go to church (today’s Christian) and still not be a disciple (those who are trying to follow the ways and teachings of Jesus Christ).

To be a true disciple, I believe you have to make an effort to live your life according to the Bible. As we learned yesterday, in John 13: 34-35, Jesus states we are not disciples of Christ if we don’t love. Why? Because loving each other is a command from God and if we refuse to try to fulfill this command we are not truly following Christ.

Yes, there is room for grace here as we all fall short, but we must be careful not to let the gift of grace keep us from trying.

Luke 9:23-24 -Then he said to them all, “If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

The greatest realization of my life (next to my free gift of salvation) was that the day I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior I died. A new life was given, not for my own purposes, but for God’s purposes. I am to live each and every day for the glory of God.

Now, in order to be real, I must share that this realization took years. I honestly did not believe it was possible to want to live for God. This sounded so boring. I couldn’t imagine a life not centered around my wants, needs, and desires. It was my life after all, I wanted to enjoy it!

I failed to see that true, lasting satisfaction could only be found in a relationship with Jesus Christ and following in His ways. I have since found that true satisfaction. Furthermore, I want to live for God. I am not doing it because I am required to do it (that would be legalism-the Law). No, I am doing it because I want to do it. Yes, I want to please the Lord, but I also want the comfort and peace that comes with being in the will of God.

To many that may seem far-fetched, maybe even rose-colored, but I swear it is the absolute truth. I wouldn’t have believed it either, so I encourage you all to pursue a relationship with Jesus Christ. Try taking a step in obedience and just see what God will do.

Blessings,
Missy

They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love?

John 13:34-35 (NIV)-“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Jesus gave a new command for us to love one another. Jesus also made a statement that many of us or quick to dismiss: ‘They will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.

In simple terms, if you are my disciples you will love one another.

There are two main points here for me. The first one being that the world will know we are disciples by the love we have and show for others. The second one being that we are only true disciples if we love one another. The first one we will cover today, the second one we will cover tomorrow.

You’ve probably heard the above listed scripture more in the terms of, “they will no we are Christians by our love.” (Yes, tomorrow I will get into Christian vs. disciple.)

Christians are commanded to love. After all, the two greatest commandments are:

Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV): 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[c] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

There is no doubt about this. If Jesus is so clear that we are to love our neighbors than why is it so hard for Christians to love one another?

You may recall last Thursday that I wrote a post titled “When Christians Attack,” in which I addressed my great sorrow at how bloggers and other Christians are so quick to attack and tear down one another.

Well, my sorrow has not lessened. In fact it has grown greater seeing as the very next day the “blogosphere” was filled with posts attacking Victoria Osteen. Yep, in one day, bloggers went from attacking the “Duck Dynasty” to attacking Victoria. What a great example of love!

I was further dismayed that on Friday, my friends and family were sharing articles on Facebook attacking the Osteens (evidently they did not read my blog the day before.) My friends and family are good, kind Christians. I believe I am a kind and loving Christian. Then, how can we not see what we are doing? When we attack other believers, how can we not see the harm we are causing? How can we not see that we are going against the very God we are trying to promote?

You see, it is my opinion that these types of blogs, articles, and media attention are very hurtful to the Christian cause. What are non-Christians to think when we turn on each other? They will know we are Christians by our love? Well, what does that say about us if we are not showing love? We are trying to convey to non-Christians that we are full of love just like Jesus Christ. How is this leading anyone to Christ? Who in their right mind would sign up for this kind of treatment? You ever wonder why there are so few of us stepping up to be ministers, evangelists, speakers, teachers? Well, I am thinking this kind of treatment may have something to do with it.

I have never read a book by either Mr. or Mrs. Osteen. I don’t know much about them. Some stuff that I have read makes me question some of their teachings. However, just because I don’t agree with what they teach does not give me a right to attack their persons. I can rebut what they teach. I can promote what I believe. I can do all this without dragging Mr. and Mrs. Osteen through the mud. There is no doubt in my mind that Victoria Osteen is a great woman of faith who loves the Lord. Yes, she may be wrong on a few matters, and we should absolutely address those issues or teaching, but name calling and shaming is not the way to do it.

Furthermore, I can disagree with Phil Robertson. I can say why I think he is wrong with some of his statements, but I do NOT have the right to attack Mr. Robertson with my words. I absolutely cannot call him names and drag his family into the muck. I am not a big fan of the show personally, simply because I am not a “woodsy” type of girl. I think it is great to see a Christian family on TV being real. I don’t believe they are putting on airs. I don’t believe they ever thought they would be the face of the “Christian Family.” Do I believe they are the perfect Christian family? No. Is mine? No. I applaud them for standing their ground. I applaud them for being who they are. Do I think there is room for them to grow in their faith? Yes, absolutely! There is growth needed in all our lives. Even Paul stated he had room to grow.

Yes, I know these people give us great headlines and titles to drive readers to our blogs and websites. But before you are tempted to use these people to promote yourself/blog or post something on Facebook, ask yourself, “Am I doing more harm than good? Am I hurting my cause? I am driving others away from God instead of toward God? Will they know I am Christian by this post or article-will they see my love?

I am not perfect. I have done more than my fair share of gossip, shaming, and blaming. I am not trying to preach at anyone. I am simply being real and stating what God has laid on my heart.

toby

I hope you join me tomorrow as I plan to tackle the question, “Is there a difference between a disciple and a Christian?”

Be blessed and BE A BLESSING,
Missy

When Christians Attack

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“Do we want to make a point with our opinion or make a difference with Jesus? Let’s check the amount of love in our words.”-Lysa TerKeurst

I am very hesitant to pen words today as I am saddened by a lot of what I have read today in the “blogosphere.”

At what lengths will we go to get people’s attention and divert readers to our blog?

I just read several blogs in which Christians were attacking other Christians. Yes, the Christians under attack have been in the media or on TV, but does that change the fact that they are our brothers and sisters in Christ? Is it right to use their “fame” or “controversy” to further our own personal agendas? Where, dare I ask, is the love in that?

If we want to teach that Jesus was all about love, then shouldn’t we be displaying love? There is no love in throwing your brothers and sisters under the bus because you simply don’t agree with their stances or you want to cash in. The Christian community is made up of diverse doctrines, and there are going to be disagreements. However, these disagreements do not give us permission to attack one another. Furthermore, this type of behavior only divides and distracts us from our common purpose: bringing other into a life-saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

We have to guard our hearts and minds against the worlds. Our churches and our faith should not resemble the world. The world says conflicts tears apart. I believe God wants conflict to draw us together.

“Remember, conflict doesn’t always mean we have to fight against something and tear it apart. Conflict can also mean we’re fighting for something to make it even better and stronger than it’s ever been.”-Lysa TerKeurst

Conflict can result in better relationships provided we resolve our issues according to God’s word. Therefore, please, dear brothers and sisters, let us learn to make our points, speak our beliefs, and attract readers to our blogs without tearing one another down.

Just my heartbroken thoughts for the day.

Blessings,

Missy

Satan, The King of Camouflage

I just wanted to add one last thing to generational sin. Satan.

Yes, while our choice to sin are more often than not the cause of our bondage, the devil is prowling like a lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).

Yes, Satan is real. Yes, Satan will tempt us. But we have to be real careful here. We can’t be quick to blame everything on the devil, when our choices have led us down the rabbit hole. Now that being said, we must guard ourselves against demonic attacks and make sure we are not participating in activities or making choices that give Satan a foothold. Come on, you know what I mean.

[As I have shared before, I am heavily influenced by what I read. If I get to reading too much in the secular genre, I can find myself with a distant relationship with God. Is it due to what I am reading or is it the amount of time I'm reading? Well, it is a little bit of both. I love mysteries; however, if I tend to read dark mysteries I can find myself contemplating too much on the dark side of life, which can put me in a down cast mood. I like books with a little romance (not too much and none of that detailed harlequin stuff), but if I'm not careful, I can find myself dissatisfied with my own life. This is not generational sin, but rather a potential foothold for me (I realize it is not for everyone else).]

Satan can be forthcoming and attack us straight on; however, in my life Satan is not so obvious. In Breaking Free, Beth Moore points out that the devil is the King of Camouflage.

“Generational yokes often go undetected because they bled in so well with our personalities. We excuse some of these yolks as simply being the way we are. We might even say, “My mother was like this and so was hers! We’re just outspoken women who know their minds!”

Today I challenge you to take a long, honest look at yourself. Is there sin in your life that Satan or yourself has camouflaged as a personality trait?

Are you bossy? Are you independent? Are you afraid? Do you lack compassion for others?

Then, because the sins of the father increase the vulnerability of the children to 3rd and 4th generations (Exodus 20:5), reflect on your parents and grandparents.

We are not trying to play the blame game as we are all responsible for our own actions and our choices to carry on in sin. However, the goal is recognize sin as sin so we can break free of all bondage, even if it has been unnoticed or camouflaged.

Be blessed and be free!

Missy

Be Careful Little Eyes What You See

Last week we talked about generational sins and how sin can be passed from one generation to the next. We discussed whether this was a curse from God or deliberate choice to sin. I came down on the side of choice.

Today, I just feel called to remind us that our children are indeed watching us. What we do, how we choose to live, will have a great impact on the lives of our children.

In Breaking Free, Beth Moore shares a very telling story from It’s Always Something by Gilda Radner:

“When I was little, my nurse Dibby’s cousin had a dog, just a mutt, and the dog was pregnant. I don’t know how long dogs are pregnant, but she was due to have her puppies in about a week. She was out in the yard one day and got in the way of the lawn mower and her two hind legs got cut off. They rushed her to the vet and he said, “I can sew her up, or you can put her to sleep if you want, but the puppies are okay. She’ll be able to deliver the puppies.

Dibby’s cousin said, ‘Keep her alive.”

So the vet sewed up her backside, and over the next week the dog learned to walk. She didn’t spend any time worrying, she just learned to walk by taking two steps in the front and flipping up her backside, and then taking two steps and flipping up her backside again. She gave birth to six little puppies, all in perfect health. She nursed them and then weaned them. And when they learned to walk, they all walked liked her.”

This may seem oversimplistic to some, but for me, this story illustrates just how much influence we have over our children. This can be good, but it can also be bad, real bad.

I’m then reminded of an old children’s song. [It may seem kind of silly, but some of the best messages I have ever heard were directed at children. My pastor gives great children's sermons and I often come away contemplating the kids' sermon just as much (and sometimes more) as I do the one geared toward us adults]:

O be careful little eyes what you see,
O be careful little eyes what you see
For the Father up above
He’s looking down in love,
So, be careful little eyes what you see.

If we want to end generational sin, then we must choose differently than those who have gone before us. We need to set better examples for our children. We must always remember they are watching us. We need to be the people we want them to be.

I pray for you all to have a great week and I look forward to sharing with you all again tomorrow!

God bless,
Missy

Curse or Choice?

Deuteronomy 5:9- You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 10 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Exodus 34:6-7 (NIV)- And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”

For many years, I took this to mean that God would curse generations. I mean, after reading Genesis, it is not hard to believe that God could and would do this. I couldn’t help but feel this was unfair. Generations were indeed seemingly cursed, but what I failed to see was that there was underlying sin that brought down some generations.

In order to lead you all where I want you to go, I must first start with the 10 Commandments. Yes, I’m talking obedience again! And, yes, I can already hear the groans.

Most people see the 10 Commandments as rules; a list of do’s and don’ts. However, as Beth Moore pointed out in Breaking Free, the Ten Commandments are meant to serve as boundaries for our safety and protection. Those who live beyond those boundaries (or move them) will live in bondage. And not only will they live in bondage, they will possibly lead generations into bondage.

Yeah, it is not earthshaking news that God uses the Ten Commandments for our protection, just as our lists of rules protect our own children. What I find important here is that it is not a curse from God, but our own choices to sin, and keep on sinning, that keep us in bondage.

Yes, I know it says in Deuteronomy 5:9 and Exodus 34:6-7 that the children will be punished for the sins of their parents, but as Beth Moore points out, God is simply stating that the sins will be passed down. All you have to do is look at a family prone to alcoholism. Many alcoholics have children who are alcoholics and their children are alcoholics. But we have also seen that pattern broken when one of those children makes a choice to live differently.

For those of you keen on playing the blame game (I’m cursed because of my family), I’m here to tell you that your parents or whomever may have led you into bondage, but your choices to sin have kept you there. Jesus did not come from a lineage of perfect people. No, his lineage included sin, drunkenness, prostitution, and more. However, Jesus chose to live differently. He chose to live within the boundaries, within the Ten Commandments.

beth moore

So, one lesson here today is that good choices (godly choices) and living by the Ten Commandments can lead us out of bondage and break generational sins.

[ Now, I don’t want anyone to get confused as I am not talking salvation here. Salvation is not based on works, but a belief in Jesus Christ as one’s Lord and Savior. No, I am talking about walking victoriously and breaking free of generational sins. ]

Take a moment or two today to evaluate your life. Are there generational sins you have taken up? Now, it doesn’t have to be something as big as alcoholism. Sometimes the hardest sins to overcome are the little sins that we don’t even recognize as sin.

My family is full of bossy women. We like to disguise it as independence, but the truth is we are bossy. It is very hard to be a Proverbs 31 wife when you are bossy. I fight this constantly. I would like to think it is just nature, but deep down I know it is sin and I have to find a way to break free.

I’m also very insecure. At first glance, this doesn’t seem like much of an issue as the Bible says to be humble, but my insecurity leads to sin. My insecurity causes me to fear; it causes me to doubt God. My insecurity causes me to use my tongue as a gun. I tend to hurt people when I feel they have hurt me. Insecurity has cost me friendships because I could not trust my friends. I tend to come across mean or standoffish because I am afraid to let anyone get too close. I’m not as outgoing as I want to be because I am worried about what others think about me.

Are my insecurities genuine? Do I have reasons in my past to be insecure? You bet I do. But I have a choice. I can let those in my past and past circumstances keep me in bondage, or I can choose to make better choices, choose not to sin, and be freed. I may still feel insecure at times, but I will no longer act sinfully because of those insecurities.

Another lesson to be learned is that our sins are affecting our children and the generations to come. I wish I could get into this today, but I know I can’t keep your attention much longer. So, come back tomorrow and we will take a closer look at how our sins are affecting those around us now and those yet to come.

Be blessed and be a blessing,
Missy

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