Discover Your TRUE Heart’s Desire

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Friend, do you know your TRUE heart’s desire? Knowing and fulfilling your heart’s desire can change the direction of your life–from burned out to rest-filled, from down-in-the-dumps to delightful.

Listen to the story of three of my counselees. Notice how different they are. Yet each is making a difference for God’s kingdom. See if your story is similiar.

  • Kim teaches Sunday school to preschoolers, showing them the love of God through simple Bible stories, songs, and Jesus “parties.”
  • Dora has a decorative flair. She beautifies her church’s worship center, making it inviting to regular attenders and visitors.
  • Tanya cleans the homes of elderly folks in need of a helping hand and conversation.

In this brief article you’ll learn:

  1. why you want to know your heart’s desire.
  2. 2 quick steps to discovering your heart’s desire.

Why You Want to Know Your Heart’s Desire

You want to know your heart’s desire because. . .this knowledge empowers and energizes you to make a difference in your own life and in other’s lives. Most important, God wants you to know your heart’s desire to honor him. Does this make sense?

When you know your heart’s desire, you are energized to make a difference, honor God, and be happy.

Take delight in the Lord,

    and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

Sometimes this verse gets mangled. God doesn’t say he’ll give you anything you desire, though at first glance it may sound that way. Reread the verse part of the verse. God gives you the desires of your heart as you submit to Christ.

As you delight in him, you’ll desire what he desires. Yes!

2 Quick Steps to Discovering your Heart’s Desire

God made you unique. There’s no one on this planet just like you. You have your own DNA, life experiences, upbringing, talents, and spiritual giftedness (1 Corinthians 12:1-3).

God wouldn’t change a hair on your head. He is for you. He is with you.

QUICK STEP 1: 

What propels you out of bed in the morning (other than an amazing cup of coffee)? Are you keen on empowering single moms? Encouraging war veterans? Designing organizational systems? Taking photographs that tell a story?

It may help to jot answers to these questions:

  1. If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
  2. What do other Christians say you’re particularly good at?
  3. Which of the following people groups tug at your heart? The homeless; women who’ve had abortions; impoverished families; couples in healthy marriages; children with learning disabilities; substance abusers; families of prisoners; the elderly; the ill; women (or teens) in emotional pain; gifted children, other: ___________.

Look over your answers. Do you see a theme? Now write down: I believe my heart’s passion may be _____________.

If you’re not sure, this is OK. As you try out your interests, the Holy Spirit will guide you. Let’s go to quick step 2. It’s truth-telling!

QUICK STEP 2:

Did you know that usually people’s heart’s desire comes from their life experience, especially the difficult ones?

On a 8 1/2 by 11 paper, turned sideways (also called “landscape”), write My Timeline at the top. Then make 3 long, parallel lines. Divide your current age by 3.

On the lines, you’ll record events (happy and sad and disturbing). The top line is for the first third of your life, the second line for the middle third of your life, and the bottom line for the last third of your life. Got it? Good.

Among the events to record are…

  • Birth dates
  • Death dates
  • HS graduation
  • Anniversaries
  • Marriages and divorces
  • Hospitalizations
  • Moves to new locations
  • New jobs, lost jobs
  • Other important events

Now What?

Once you finish your timeline, prayerfully review it and notice what tugs at your heart. Perhaps you faced a home foreclosure and have a heart’s desire to minister to the homeless. Or, maybe you desire to write a book on fear or to teach Crown financial budgeting principles to others.

Maybe you lived in a blended family and have a heart’s desire to help second and third marriages stay intact. Or possibly you were a victim of a crime and your heart’s desire is to become a first responder, teach self-defense classes, or lead a Bible study in prisons.

Next, look over your timeline. Why not pray over what you discovered. Then, reread your answers to the questions in Step 1.

Finally, write a preliminary statement: my TRUE heart desire may be: _____________.

Chances are, over time you’ll refine your statement. Here’s mine.

Isn’t it amazing that God often uses your story to foster hope in others?

The Takeaway

When you live your heart’s desire, you help others, avoid burnout, glorify God, and are truly happy.

Do you have questions? Would you like help making your heart’s desire a reality? Then contact me. It’s beautiful to hope.

Counseling Hearts to Hope!

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God’s Peace Plan: P.R.A.Y.

planPEACE PLAN: Remember the spunky Miss Clara in the movie War Room? She narrates: “We fight for power. We fight for riches. And we fight for rights. We fight for freedom. There always seems to be something to fight about.” Yet. . .

“Very few of us know how to fight the right way.”

In this post, war-roomI’ll outline a simple, Spirit-inspired peace plan to pray. Miss Clara prayed in her closet she calls her “war room” and taught Elizabeth, played by Priscilla Shirer, to speak fervently with God about her crumbling marriage.

Is your marriage in trouble? Are your emotions out of control? Is your teen making poor choices? Are you ill? In financial duress? Brokenhearted?

God has a peace plan for the war you’re in. Prayer is your battle cry!

God’s Peace Plan

It’s a four-letter word: P.R.A.Y.

Do not be anxious about ANYTHING but in EVERYTHING, by PRAYER and petition, with THANKSGIVING, present your requests to God.” Phil. 4:6

Read this familiar verse again. Then think on it. Now do what it says: P.R.A.Y. This is your peace plan!

P: Praise

Begin with praise. Praising God puts your mind where it need to be: focused on God. He is the One who not only created to universe, but also knows your hurts and deeply cares.

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 1 John 4:16, NIV

R: Repent

To repent is to change your mind and line up your thoughts with God’s thoughts. Repentance is a gift from God, and I’ve noticed in counseling, those who repent make lasting, positive, godly changes the quickest.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

A: Ask

The Lord invites you to approach him confidently and share what’s on your heart. This is part of deepening your relationship with him. He promises to give you all that is good.

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 1:2

Y: Yield

As you pray, believing that God can handle your problems, your faith will increase, and you’ll become calm and confident.

Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! Hebrews 12:9

Go ahead, PRAY. I will too. Tell me how it goes.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses are comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:7

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

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OVEREATING: I’m a Slave to Food! (part 2)

overeatingDid you know overeating can dominate your life? This is part 2 of a two-part series. See Part 1 here. Counselor andPaul Tautges shares parts of Shannon Kay McCoy‘s booklet, Help! I’m a Slave to Food. This helpful post first appeared here and, is used with permission. (Edited for length–LAM)

Overeating is a life-dominating sin. It has a strong influence over your life, affecting your mind, your body, your spirit, your heart, your emotions, your relationships, and even your finances. The sin of overeating is practiced repeatedly so that it becomes a habitual lifestyle and almost second nature, a continuous action that controls your life.

Let’s look at nine characteristics of the life-dominating sin of overeating.

Characteristics of Life-Dominating Sin

1. You have repeatedly tried to stop overeating.

You’ve tried every diet known to man, but failed to stop habitually overeating. The root of your problem is that you are not taking this sin seriously.

2. You blame others or circumstances for your failure.

The world may teach you to blame your mother for your sinful eating habits because, when you were a child, she forced you to ‘clean your plate’ at every meal. You may blame overeating on your genetic makeup. Also you may blame your diet plan: “It did not work for me. It is too strict.”

Perhaps you even blame your sin on God because he will not change your circumstances, your cravings, and so on. You completely disregard what the apostle Paul says in Romans 14:12:

So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.

3. You deny that overeating is a sin.

You believe what the world tells you about your overeating problem: that your problem is really low self-esteem, or that you actually have a disease. In addition, you refuse to accept that your actions are sinful and do not glorify God. And so you call it a weakness instead of a sin.

4. You convince yourself that you are not enslaved to overeating and ‘can stop at any time.’ 

You must admit that you are in bondage to the sin of overeating. Jesus teaches, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin (John 8:34). Chance are, you believe that you are in control of your eating habits every time you start a new diet plan or workout program.

But you are deceived into believing that this plan will deliver you. A life-dominating sin requires the work of the Holy Spirit in order for it to be put to death in the believer.

5. Any pleasure from overeating is short-lived, while the harm is considerable and long-Term.

You feel as though you have no control over your cravings. And so you give in to the temptation to eat repeatedly. Then you see your body weight increasing and feel your clothes tightening.

As a result, you get depressed because you don’t like the way you look. Your blood pressure is getting dangerously high, and your knees hurt when you try to climb the stairs to your apartment. Nevertheless, you find yourself stuffing your face again with massive amounts of food and not receiving the relief you are seeking.

6. You overeat when no one is watching.

When overeating controls you, you will seek to hide your outward behavior by doing it in secret….Hiding your sin will only lead you into deeper bondage. You must realize that there is power in confession.

James 5:16 states,

Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

7. You know that overeating obscures the testimony of Jesus Christ in your life and Is a stumbling block to others.

To commit sin and know that it is damaging the testimony of Jesus Christ can lead you more deeply into slavery. You must know that your sinful actions are affecting everyone around you: your husband, children, coworkers, unsaved relatives, and friends.

You cannot admonish and encourage others in their walk with Christ when you are purposefully committing sin in their presence. They see your helpless struggle with overeating and may deny the power of Christ in their own lives.

8. You Know that God’s Word Tells You to Stop Sinning, and that God Can Release You from this Bondage.

Pride and rebellion are at the heart of your problem. Perhaps you have been a Christian for a long time and you know that God is not pleased with your gluttonous behavior. But you continue to ignore God’s command to glorify him when you eat (1 Corinthians 10:31). You refuse to trust in God’s faithfulness and accept his way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13).

9. You realize that your deeds (thoughts, words, actions) do not conform to the character of Christ.

Your conscience accuses you of your sin. Plus, your behavior doesn’t conform to the character of Christ. Without telling a bold-faced lie, you cannot say that your gluttonous behavior is Christlike. You know in your heart that your behavior is not pleasing to the Lord. You know that your desire is to please yourself.”

Get HELP! I’m a Slave to Food in print copy and/or Kindle format.

RESOURCE: Looking for a whole-hearted, comprehensive ebook to be Fit for Life. Get it now.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

 

Help! I’m a Slave to Food (part 1)

foodFood is a gift from God, right? But for some people, overeating is a. . .sin. In this helpful post that first appeared here, counselor Paul Tautges shares parts of Shannon Kay McCoy‘s booklet, Help! I’m a Slave to Food. It is used with permission. (Edited for length–LAM)

God declares overeating to be a sin: ‘For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty’ (Proverbs 23:21).

So begins the second chapter of biblical counselor Shannon Kay McCoy’s very helpful mini-book HELP! I’m a Slave to Food.

Then McCoy defines sin. These definitions include–

  • whatever is not from faith is sin (Romans 14:23).
  • therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin (James 4:17).
  • all unrighteousness is sin (1 John 5:17).
  • sin is lawlessness (1 John 3:4).

These descriptions view sin as the act of the will. Sin is choosing to act in opposition to God’s Word.

Sin of Overeating?

Slave to Food-small email

McCoy continues: “Perhaps you don’t believe that overeating is a sin. Many of us have been brainwashed by magazine articles, television talk shows, and reality shows that tell us that food is the problem: you are simply eating the wrong things in the wrong way.”

Often Christians view overeating as a diet problem rather than a sin problem. But overeating does n

ot seem serious. We often treat it as one of those ‘little sins’ that are acceptable in the church.

You don’t hear sermons or read books on the sin of overeating, do you? Your focus is more on getting treatment for your problem of overeating than facing up to your personal responsibility of repentance and obedience.

As McCoy pointed out, overeating is failing to do the right thing. It is unrighteousness and lawlessness.

Description of a Food Struggle

A woman McCoy spoke with describes her struggle:

My eating was out of control. I ate solely to satisfy whatever craving I was having at the time. As a result, my health was suffering and I was not honoring God with my life and body He had given me. I was for the first time confronted with the fact that the way that I was eating was sinful. I knew that my eating was ‘not good,’ but I never considered that my eating was sin.

In her mini-book, Shannon transparently identifies with her readers by acknowledging that overeating once dominated her life. Then she shares the life-changing counsel from the Scriptures, which changed her life, beginning with admitting the seriousness of her sin problem.

Overeating Is Not an Addiction

Some overeaters label themselves “food addicts,” believing they are addicted to food. However, addiction is not a biblical term. The world uses this terminology to describe the behavior of someone who is controlled by a substance.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines addiction in this way: “To devote or surrender (oneself) to something habitually or obsessively.” But the danger in labeling overeating as “addiction” is that it undermines the personal conviction of sin. If the problem is not sin, then you will look for solutions in a system of theories, not in the person of Jesus Christ.

Overeating Is Idolatry

The biblical term for “addiction” is “idolatry.” The sin of overeating is idolatry. And idolatry is worship and devotion to creation rather than worship and devotion to the Creator God.

You worship your stomach and appetites by indulging in food. In fact, you desire the created food more than your Creator. The problem is not necessarily the food you consume; it is the worship of your heart. But before you can be set free, you must acknowledge your idol, denounce it, repent, and give your heart and devotion to him. Your greatest hope is in turning from your false gods and surrendering your life to Jesus, who forgives your sins and frees you from the sin of overeating.

God’s Grace Empowers Us to Change

Romans 6:12-14 both exhorts us to repent of the sin of overeating and gives us hope on God’s power to change us:

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

In the remainder of her mini-book, McCoy teaches us how to conquer the sin of overeating by God’s gracious empowerment for disciplined living.

Get HELP! I’m a Slave to Food in print copy and/or Kindle format.

RESOURCE: Looking for a whole-hearted, comprehensive ebook to be Fit for Life. Get it now.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

Biblical Approach for Healing PTSD!

ptsdPTSD: Women exposed to a significant trauma such as rape, a natural catastrophe, or serious car accicent may later experience nightmares, disturbing memories, and feelings of helplessness and other problems. How can you help a friend? How can you get help for yourself?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is the label that describes a long-lasting emotional struggle following a traumatic event. It has been described as a “normal reaction to an abnormal situation.”

PTSD affects many more people than combat veterans and people who endured 9/11 closeup.

  • 70 percent of adults in the U.S. have experienced some type of traumatic event at least once in their lives. That’s 223.4 million people.
  • Up to 20 percent of these people go on to develop PTSD. As of today, that’s 31.3 million people who did or are struggling with PTSD.
  • An estimated 8 percent of Americans – that’s 24.4 million people – have PTSD at any given time.
  • An estimated 1 out of 10 women develops PTSD; women are about twice as likely as men.
  • Among people who are victims of a severe traumatic experience 60 to 80 percent will develop PTSD.

The above statistics come from HealMyPTSD.com.

What about you? Do you struggle with PTSD? Do you know someone who does?  Have you wondered, “Will I ever be normal again?”

You Are Not Alone!

1. You are not alone.

2. There is hope.

Tragically, among the deepest crises leading to the PTSD label is sexual abuse. This trauma sickens the soul and messes with the mind, spirit, and body for years, even decades. Also, the effects range from paralyzing fears to physiological symptoms. And they damage relationships.

Believers who’ve experienced trauma may ask, “Where was God?”

According to the Sidran Institute, people who experienced specific traumas such as rape, child abuse, and violent assaults often feel isolated, guilty, trapped, and confused.

But there’s hope. Says biblical counselor and author David Powlison:

Your recovery will be a process of learning and remembering those two truths — you are not alone and there is hope — not just once, but over and over.

Think about how bread gets made. It must be kneaded so that the yeast goes through the whole loaf. These two truths must be kneaded into who you are until they work through every part of you. The working of these truths into the deepest part of you takes time.

The damage you suffered may have been done in one or more terrible moments; the healing and the restoration unfolds at a human pace. It unfolds at your pace. It unfolds as part of your story, and it unfolds over time.

Lindy’s PTSD Story

Lindy Abbott, Christian blogger, wife, and mother suffered severe abuse as a young child and unwittingly dissociated to survive ongoing trauma. Dissociation protects a victim from awareness of the pain in the short run, but later she may develop relationship difficulties and inability to function.

As Lindy writes at her blog Abuse and Trauma Hope,

It is at this precise moment [of abuse] that the child unconsciously begins to protect the soul from utter destruction by separating the harmful/abusive experiences into hidden places in the soul. The mind does this without needing the child to actively think about what she needs to do to survive, it as an unconscious act of self-preservation.

Lindy says this about her abuse:

My life began in trauma and abuse as a child, affecting who I am, how I see, and how I feel. The abuse was hell but God has used it for good.

Truly, God has used what was meant for evil to be good in my life and to conform me to Christ Jesus.

I see things deeply. I feel deeply too. Sometimes really good, sometimes really bad. While I love to laugh and be silly, I am burdened by the seriousness of eternity.

Transformed by Grace

Horrific memories may also haunt someone with PTSD. And condemning words like “You are dirty and ugly” may invade thoughts. What happened was horrible but the truth is, your mind can be transformed by God’s grace.  Indeed, you can apply the truth to your horrible situation.This journal helps.

ptsd“Because of her faith in Christ she can apply the truth that she is clothed in the righteousness of Christ and she is precious and loved. She can apply the truth of who she is in Christ to the truth of her past experiences,” says biblical counselor Eliza Jane Huie with Life Counseling Center.

Isn’t it true that each of us needs to remember who we are in Christ and apply this truth to our lives? “Having a painful past that still hurts is an opportunity to build a deeper confidence in the truth of God’s Word and what it says about you,” Huie says. “This is not an exercise in positive thinking. It is telling gospel truth to yourself.

As you speak gospel truth to horrible situations you’ve faced, let it make you desperate for God and for the love he has for you. Here’s a reassuring Bible truth:

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. 1 John 3:18-19, ESV

An Invitation

Sweet friends, whether you or a loved one suffered abuse or endured another trauma, know that God heals in his timing, and his timing is always right.

Do you want to talk with someone confidentially about your pain?

As you probably know I am a biblical counselor. I counsel women abused sexually as children and who experience anxiety, depression, and abandonment (adoption, death of a parent, marital infidelity, for instance). God wants to give you hope now. Please contact me for a complimentary phone consultation. I counsel women and families in person and by Skype.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

 

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5 AMAZING NAMES GOD CALLS YOU!

Blessed, Daughter, Saint, and more!

In this delightful, four-color ebook, you’ll discover the precious names God calls you. Today so many Christian women don’t fully know their wonderful identity in Christ. Isn’t a time to know yours? Filled with scripture, photography, personal stories, and encouragement!

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