When Sheep Bite : When Christian “Friends” Hurt You

It’s a tale as old as time, Christian’s hurting other Christian’s. I see it as the dark side of Christianity and no one is really talking about it in truth. The funny thing is Christian’s know the cure, if they are reading their Bibles, and yet they continue down the path of least resistance and sin. Jane doesn’t like Sue, so Jane talks poorly about her, then Jane realizes she has said to much about Sue and then BLAMES SUE for her sinful talk. Bob thinks Pastor Gary is prideful and instead of working with him and exhorting him (and even praying for him and asking God to work in his life!), Bob leaves that church for another one. The disobedience to Scripture and the vicious cycle of church hopping just continues on, day in and day out in Christendom.

What is a Christian to do? How do we become one in unity? How can we serve one another and love one another well? The answers are found in Scripture and a fresh, BOLD look into them is what believers need to be doing. If I am honest, I don’t like dealing with difficult people and when I think about them, I don’t always do so Biblically.  This blog post is written to myself in hopes that I will serve Christ and others better after writing it.

What’s A Christian to Do?

We can’t love others well if we don’t love our Savior well first. Loving Christ, above all else, is a daily decision and it takes a commitment to Him, His Word, and a desire to obey Him. I can’t help but go to 1st John to exhort myself in this. I studied 1 John with a group of friends years ago and it made profound impact on me. It is a great book to help you learn to love Jesus and understand His love for you!

Love Christ well by repenting of your sins to Him. This is something we neglect to do. Why? Because we are prideful and think we are “good”. No one is good BUT the Lord God.  1 John 9-10 ” If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” Repentance is a beautiful gift the Father allows us to do before Him through Christ.  Getting along well with others means you take care of your sins before God before you go after another Christian.

What is unity? 

Unity by definition is, the state of being united or joined as a whole. Being unified as believers does not mean you have to have the same convictions as others, but that the fundamentals of the faith are shared. We are unified in the gospel. We are unified in Jesus Christ as our Savior. We are unified in that the Bible is the infallible Word of God. We are unified in the things that are non-negotiable.

Unity in how one other dresses? No! Unity in what is appropriate to watch? No! Unity in how we view sports? No! These are personal convictions, therefore these are left to each individual, the Lord and His word, and personal sanctification. We must all personally work out our salvation, “in fear and trembling” (Phip. 2:12).  Be unified in the essentials of the faith! Don’t give up on a sister who just has not “arrived” to the same thinking as you on a non-essential. R.C. Sproul, a man who I respected greatly, smoked. I did not stop listening to him because I thought he was a reprobate for this. Smoking is a personal conviction, not an essential. Be patient with one another.

1 Thessalonians 5:14-18 “We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Serve One Another and Love Well

I know it’s hard to serve and love well. I certainly don’t do this perfectly (just ask my husband and children). I want to just stay home, read a book in my hammock and let the world pass me by. This is NOT what God’s Word tells us to do. His word tells us to SERVE and LOVE one another. Don’t go hiding in your hammock!

Jesus is the example we need to follow. He was the PERFECT one and so we turn our eyes to Him and His Word for direction. Matthew 16, shows us, he felt compassion on the people, Matthew 23, He longs to gather His people like chicks under His wings, and the plethora of healing that He did show His heart of service. This is what we think of first when we think of how Jesus served.

BUT sweet sister, those acts were just the tip of the iceberg. He served the greatest by His coming. He left His throne and heaven to come as a poor babe. He came to live, serve and ultimately DIE for you and me. He was the suffering servant Savior , in Isaiah 53, who came to serve us the most through His death and resurrection so that we might be reconciled to Him. (Please read that chapter in Isaiah and meditate on it. Can you or I even attain that kind of service to one another? The answer is no, if you are wondering, but we can practice that kind of service and love)

Love one another and “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ” Galatians 6:2. Love is not just words. It is 1 Cor 13 kind of stuff. I honestly struggle to read 1 Cor 13 because I see myself in that mirror of God’s word and find myself LACKING! Love is not easy, but it is the greatest. As I wrote this, I was convicted of my poorly executed love to Christ and to others. It is really difficult to self evaluate but does cause me to be conformed to Christ even more and for that I am thankful.

You may be struggling with other christian’s right now. You might be feeling like giving up on religion and church, I understand your hurt, BUT don’t give up. Christ came for the ungodly, and that is all of us. We have grace for a reason! It is the kind of grace that pardons and cleanses us from sin because we are NOT able to love Christ without Him helping us love Him. We are all sheep that go astray, are you not thankful for the Shepherd who keeps you safe in His care and comes after you when you struggle or stray?

My friend, sheep bite, but the Savior calls you to love those who have hurt you, gossiped about you and ignored you. Pray for these people. Love these people, because Christ loves you.

Warmly,

Brandy

DISCLAIMER: IF YOU ARE IN AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP, marriage, dating or friendship, I am NOT saying you have to be in it, I am saying to love them. Love sometimes puts up real boundaries to protect you (and children if you have them)

Click here to find help near you!

 

 

Why Are You Downcast, Oh My Soul?

There are times winter sets up camp in my heart and it seems as if I am in Narnia, where Christmas never comes. The bleak dark clouds of relentless sadness seem to wash over my mind as I battle with sin. The coldness of my heart toward the goodness of God makes my soul ache as I cry out to the Lord, to warm it once again at the fires of His Word.

I find these times of coldness to be extremely difficult and I seem to daily battle with myself. I know the truth, that God loves me, cares for me and desires to have me near Him, but my angry, selfish, sinful heart wants to push Him away.

Psalm 42:11 “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.”

How does one find their way out of the darkness of a downcast soul? We have to preach truth to ourselves through God’s Word! Personally, it is a struggle to open the pages of God’s Word when I have allowed the sin of despondency into my mind. The moment I open the pages of God’s Word I am washed over by truth of it and that, my friend, is when I see the ugliness of my heart.

Psalm 42 opens with, As a deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God;

I am reminded to BEG God to help me to turn to Him and desire Him when my soul wants to turn inward into myself. I need to literally turn my mind toward Christ and the truths of His Word. For example, Colossians 3:2-3 tells me to “set my mind on the things above, not on things that are on the earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” A commentary I read said the word set can also be, to think or to have inner disposition, this disposition should point us toward he things of heaven. These verses should cause one to ask, What is taking my thoughts of Christ and dethroning Him in my mind? What situation is now greater than Christ? Why am I unable to see Christ through the haze of my circumstance?

I am thankful that the Psalmist in 42 was honest and poured out his heart. There is sometimes a perception that we as believers can’t be sad or struggling, but God’s Word gives us glimpses of others who have had moments when their souls were struggling. The Psalmist in 42 gives us the answer we so desperately need in verse 11. Our hope is in God!

How do we hope in God when we are personally struggling? I don’t know about you but I ask the Lord for it. God’s Word tells us, we have not because we ask not, and believe me, God gives hope abundantly to those whom ask Him for it.

I flipped back from chapter 42 to chapter 40 and read this, ” I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of destruction , out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear And will trust in the Lord.” I need to remember what God has ALREADY done for me! What has He done? First, He saved me from my sin and made me righteous because of Christ. He brought me out of the pit of sin and miry clay that had entangled me. He took my unstable self and placed it upon a firm rock! He put a NEW song in my mouth, a song of praise to Him, when before that my mouth was full of self and cursing. The first step for me to get out of despondency is to remember what God has already done for me.

The second thing I do to be renewed and is begin to be refreshed by His Word. I run to the book of Psalm and bath my mind in the truths there. Psalms reminds me to to praise the Lord, share my heart with my God and then to keep praising Him. They help me to remember how to praise Him when my soul is struggling. There are times where I just open Psalms and read it out loud because while I want to praise God, my soul struggles to come up with the truth. If I read the Bible out loud I am proclaiming truth about Him and praising Him and it brings healing to my bones.

Psalm 40:11 days ” You, O Lord, will not withhold Your compassion from me; Your loving kindness and your truth will continually preserve me.” Isn’t it wonderful to know that God preserves us and shows compassion on us when we struggle? I am so grateful to know He keeps and preserves me.

Friend, trust in the Lord when you are downcast and ask Him to lift your head! Preach truth to yourself and remember, His steadfast love is better than life, (Ps. 63:3) forget none of His benefits, forgiveness of sin, healing of disease, REDEEMED your life from the pit and crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion. (Ps 103) He Daily bears your burden (Ps. 69) He is your portion (Ps. 73) He is ready to forgive those who call on Him (Ps. 86) I could go on and on of the truth in His Word about what He has done and is doing for me and you!

Why at are you downcast, O my soul? HOPE IN GOD!

Be encouraged today!

Brandy

Resources for you if you are struggling with depression and despondency.

Biblical counselors near you

Booklet on Depression

This was written on an app so forgive typos and incomplete sentences. It’s hard to edit things on a car ride on an iPhone!

A Mom’s Daily Battle

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Lamentations 3:22-23  “The Lord’s lovingkindness indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.

The morning has broken, the alarm has sounded and your feet are swinging to hit the cold floor. It’s the moment where you begin choosing the way your attitude for the day is going to go. We can begin one of two ways, with a heart thankful for the new day to serve the Lord or a heart drudging the day with an unwilling heart. I imagine you stumble to the kitchen and you switch on coffee pot, the kids come bleary eyed out of their rooms, and the bickering begins. (I’m not even kidding! I am in my kitchen right now and this is seriously happening!) One sticks out their tongue, the offended yell, “MOOOOM! She is sticking out her tongue.” I ignore the offended, who then chooses to retaliate, not with words but with a sneaky elbow punch.

***Freeze frame it in your mind now*** ( Excuse me while I switch to a first person account, because I am battling this out right now!)

I get to decide how I am going to respond on this one.

“God, help me!” I cry inside.  I had a fruitful, beautiful time in your Word and now these kids are putting me in jeopardy of sinning, or are they?

So, the quick answer is, No. They are not causing me to sin in my possible response. I get that responsibility. Seriously, it is on my heart to respond with an answer that is God honoring and pointing them to the Lord in how they should treat one another. This time I was able to not lose my temper, it’s early in the day and I am still meditating on my quiet time. My desire is that they day will continue in this pattern but I can assure you that it will digress at some point. I am stuck in this sinful flesh that I battle until my weary head hits the pillow at night. It’s then this sinner gets to rest and turn off her mind and tongue until the next morning.

We have a gracious God, who is acquainted with all our needs, our thoughts, and our weaknesses! What hope we have as we walk through this thing called, Motherhood, with Him as our strong tower. He is the one who can filter our thoughts and words for us as we try to saturate ourselves with His life giving Word. The Word is the guide for us in how we should live and move and have our being! Oh, that we would run to it in time of need or that He would bring to our minds what we need when we are at a crossroads of a response to others.

Proverbs 16:24  “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

Lord, I am in need of your guidance on how I should respond to my family today. I am so easily frustrated and I turn to my flesh before I turn to you. Help me to be more like you in how I speak. I give vent to words that should not be said. Forgive me, and help me to point my children to you. Help me to show them, by example how to treat one another and speak words that are full of Your Word.

Delighting in the Word: Psalm 1

Read Psalm 1

Psalm 1:2

“But His delight is in the law of the LORD,  And in His law he mediates day and night.”

Psalm 1 is one of my favorites. When I read chapter 1, I am always immediately hit with the word DELIGHT. Delight is a word that speaks of a  high degree of pleasure towards something. Can you say you are delighted to read the Word of God?

There was a time in my life when I did not delight in God’s Word. In all honesty, there was a time when I would rarely read it,  and so it meant nothing to me. I would go about my life claiming Christ but never really knowing Him or desiring to learn more of Him. Once I bent my knee to the Lord, I went to a Ladies Salad Supper and the speaker spoke on how much she loved God’s Word. She held up her Bible and kissed it and said, “I love God’s Word!” I DRANK it in! My soul broke and cried, “I want to love your Word too!” From that time on I began to hunger after God’s Word and was learning to delight in the gift of God’s Word to me.

How do you meditate on God’s Word? First, you need to pray and ask the Lord to help you. (Matt. 7:8-9) Second, you need to read it! Read it slowly and carefully. Read it again. Read it out loud. Read it with a pen in hand. Memorize from the text you are reading. Study it with a good commentary so you can meditate with a correct understanding.

You will find yourself thinking about what you read throughout your day. It will become a balm to your heart and mind and soul. Once you start reading the Word of God and begin to delight in it, you will never be the same again. So dive in daily and drink deeply from the well spring of life.

Father, thank you for your Word. Forgive me for not loving it and cherishing it like I do other things. I get so tempted and drawn away by the cares of the world sometimes….. I don’t want to do this, but I do. Help me to love you, give me the pure love that comes from a broken and contrite heart. You deserve more love than I could possibly give.

 

Recommended Reading:

John MacArthur Commentary

Treasury of David, By Charles Spurgeon

90 day Psalm Reading Plan

 

 

 

Open My Eyes:

Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. Psalm 119:18

“When we come to hear or read the word of God, let us pray, ‘Lord, open my eyes! Persuade my soul! Bow the neck of my soul, the inner man of iron. Take away my hard heart, and teach me.” ~Richard Sibbes

Have you ever just sat at your devotion time and just stared at the Bible? You know you want to read it but are not sure where to start. There is the nagging discomfort that even if you do read it you won’t understand it. I have personally had times where I would be frustrated before I even started.  How was I to grow in Christ and in His knowledge if I did not read His Word?

When I read the quote by Richard Sibbes, I was encouraged. I was reminded that in the times I do not understand the Word I should pray, “Lord, open my eyes! Take away my hard heart.” It was a simple and gentle reminder to pray to the One who wrote the Bible by inspired men so that through the Holy Spirit my eyes, heart and mind can be enlightened. (Eph 4) Why do we doubt that He can give us understanding? May He take our hard hearts and give us knowledge!

Today, should you be hesitating to read the Word because of lack of understanding or passion, bend to your knees in prayer that He would encourage your heart to read it.  Then let Him do the work in your heart and mind  to understand it and you do the work of obedience by reading the Bible. (John 14:26)

Proverbs 1:10-11 “For wisdom will enter your heart And knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; Discretion will guard you, understanding will watch over you.

 

To the younger woman reading this, if you have small children or a lot of children, something is better than nothing (5 minutes)! You may think you don’t have time. Little kids that are up at night and knocking at the door from sun down to sun rise. You run here and there. How is this even possible in my busy woman/wife/mom world? Start small and do not be discouraged!