Acceptance: God Isn’t a ‘Mean Girl’!

acceptance
Do you know that you have total acceptance in Christ?

It’s true, sister! God says so.

Ever met a mean girl or three?. I have. Eighth grade. Me, the new girl at school. Them, clique-y, bratty, “all that.” These mean girls were not God-like, though they acted like royalty, a royal pain in the . . .

God isn’t a mean girl. He welcomes you with open arms.

Many people want nothing to do with God and if that’s you, I get it. From age 8 to young adulthood, I didn’t want to talk with God either. Or attend church. Or wear a cross around my neck.

What I wanted most was the mean girls’ acceptance. Have you longed for acceptance too? What did you do to get acceptance? To belong?

In this article, you learn 1 reason why God accepts you and 3 responses you might choose.

God Accepts You Because He Accepts Jesus

Every Christian is totally accepted by God. Many Christians forget this truth.

Are you struggling with a bad case of spiritual amnesia? Isn’t it easy to forget all that God gave you when you believed in Jesus as your Savior?

Now we have received. . .the Spirit who is from God that we might understand the things freely given us by God. (1 Corinthians 2:12, ESV)

When you became a believer, you received an an inheritance. You are “in Christ.” Jesus is your brother (John 20:17), God is your Father, and all believers everywhere are your siblings. Together you share in your Father’s riches.

So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. (Galatians 4:7, NIV)

Among these riches is peace with God. You have complete peace and acceptance with God. You were once hostile to God, just as I was the mean girls’ enemy, wanting their friendship, hating their rejection.

God knew that you and I were helpless and unable to ever be “enough” or “measure up” on our own. You could spend hours every day trying to please God — volunteering at a food pantry, memorizing scripture verses, writing fat donation checks — but apart from God you can do nothing (John 15:5).

What are two or three ways you’ve tried to earn God’s acceptance? Do you keep running on the spiritual treadmill? Are you ready to get off?

God himself took care of everything you need. Jesus paid for your sins on the cross. His sacrifice satisfied God’s wrath. Now you can approach God, confidently and boldly, knowing God accepts you because his accepts Jesus. He is the only One who could ever measure up.

You may have grown up in a home with the message, “I accept you if. . ..” You may be in a marriage with the underlying that condition, “I accept you if. . ..” This isn’t God’s stance toward you. He is not a mean girl, smirking, chuckling, turning his back. When have you felt rejected by family, friends. . .God?

God Wants You to Delight in Jesus

Knowing God’s wonderful acceptance deserves a response, doesn’t it?

Here are 3 responses you might have. The first one is obvious.

1. Thank God. When I opened an envelope from my Uncle Pat and saw the check inside, I shouted to my family, “Come and see this. Come and see this.” We delighted in the unexpected gift. The next day I wrote my uncle a letter and thanked him over and over.

Have you thanked God for the amazing inheritance he’s given you?

2. Rest in God’s acceptance. You and I make mistakes every day. When you screw up, do you step toward God and talk with him, or do you try to hide? Since God complete accepts you, you don’t have to act like an outcast. You are his precious daughter and he smiles on you. Agree with him you messed up and thank him that you have been forgiven in Christ.

3. Get to know God better. The God who accepts you wants you to enjoy him. Look outside — do you see the sky? He made the sky for you to know his greatness. Look at your hands — you have beautiful hands and beautiful eyes to see them. Every part of you shows his attention to detail, his plan, his creativity, his care (Psalm 139).

God revealed himself in Jesus and in his written Word. To know God better, why not take time daily to read the Bible? If you’re new to the Bible, begin with the gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, which are at the beginning of the New Testament.

God Never Rejects You

When my husband and I welcomed home our eldest child, life turned upside down.

We now had a tiny baby completely dependent on us. She slept through the first three weeks of life, and on day 22, woke up a holy terror. Colic rocked her world and mine. I felt like such a failure.

Why couldn‟t I soothe her? Why won‟t she stop screaming? Am I an awful mom?

Our heavenly Father never ever sees you as a failure. When life gets crazy-bad and you wonder whether he really accepts you, God invites you to get a safe daddy hug. His arms aren’t too big to hold you. He won‟t abandon you. You are God‟s daughter. He accepts you.

Sharing hope with your heart,

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Your Heart Is the Real You!

featured_lucyannmollYour heart is the real you, according to Jesus.

If you want to understand yourself, your spouse, your child, or anyone, you need to understand their heart as best you can.

Would you like to know what causes your fear of public speaking, or your spouse’s brooding, or your child’s backtalk, or a friend’s love of posting selfies on Facebook and Instagram? Then seek to understand the heart. You’ll never know your own heart perfectly — or theirs. Only God does (Psalm 44:21).

In this article, you’ll learn a basic definition of the heart, discover its three main parts, and how God transforms you.

The Heart Defined

You’ve heard a friend say, “I have a broken heart,” haven’t you? She means she’s sad. “Follow your heart” means do what your feel.

Usually people describe it as the emotional part of a person. Scripture suggests that your heart is your mind, emotions, and will. It is the center of your being. You can compare it to a control center. It controls what you think, feel, say, and do.

Proverbs 4:23 says it well:

Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it.

Everything.

And the picture isn’t pretty. Did you know that God nearly wiped out the entire human race? You hear about it in Genesis 6, just three short chapters after the Fall, when Adam and Eve took a bite of disobedience and sin entered the world.

The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. (Genesis 6:5)

The Bible says your heart “tricks or deceives us into thinking that our desires are pure, that we want what we want because it is good and God approves,” writes Elyse Fitzpatrick, the author of many books including Idols of the Heart.

As you struggle against sin, God will help you trust him. He will help you desire to do his will always. He knows your struggles, and he loves you completely. You are his. He is transforming you.

3 Parts of the Heart

“Heart” is the word the Bible uses for your mind and your emotions and your will altogether. Your mind, emotions, and will work together and influence one another.

Your mind: Your mind involves your ability to understand, reason, and discern. It includes your beliefs and opinions.

  • Taken aback with news from angels about her son, Mary the mother of Jesus “treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).
  • The power of God’s word “judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12)
  • As a man thinks in his heart so is he (Proverbs 23:7, NLT).

Your emotions: Generally, your emotions also include your longings, desires, and hopes.

  • But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation (Psalm 13:5).
  • If you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts. . . (James 3:14).

Your will: Your will is the part of your inner person that chooses what actions to take. Your mind and emotions inform your will what to do.

  • Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve (Joshua 24:15).
  • Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth (2 Corinthians 12:6)

How God Transforms You

It is possible to change what you think, feel, and do with God’s miraculous help. You need heart change to change your life. Only God can do this.

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,  whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior,  so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:3-7).

Your transformation is all God!

You were saved by faith and now you are called to live by faith.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him,  rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness (Colossians 2:6-7).

Living by faith is part of progressive sanctification, and you become more like Jesus Christ in your inner self. God renews your mind and your beliefs, and ultimately your desires. You begin wanting to do God’s will rather than your own. Your heart becomes increasingly Christ-centered. It is decreasingly me-centered.

Changing behavior is never enough. You need heart transformation to change the real you!

Sharing hope with your heart,

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Sexual Sin: Finding Freedom


sexual sin artSexual sin wants to take you hostage, my friend.

Isn’t the world’s sex doctrine everywhere today? Surf the Internet, browse cable TV stations, flip though magazines, listen to lyrics — the world’s message on sex says, “Porn is normal and harmless. Adultery is fun. Something’s wrong with you if you’re still a virgin by the time you graduate high school. Experiment sexually any way you want it.”

The truth, the world’s just-do-it sex doctrine enslaves your soul. It enslaves your mind.

In my counseling — in person or by Skype — I bring the hope of the gospel to every sort of sexual sin. The Bible clearly teaches that if you’re a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ your sins have been completely and forever forgiven (Ephesians 1:7; 4:32; Colossians 2:13-14; 3:13; 1 John 2:12).

What I’m about to say now is super important: Sexual sin is no worse than any other sin. Lesbianism / transgender identity / same-sex attraction — these are not the “unforgivable” sin. Nor is adultery (his or yours) or fornication (i.e., sex without marriage) or viewing/reading porn.

Yet sexual sin destroys relationships and opens wide the door to anxiety and depression and shame, even addictions. I cannot say it better than Dr. Juli Slattery, who wrote on her blog:

Consuming “junk sex” is immoral. What we eat only affects our temporal bodies, but what we do with our sexuality impacts our eternal souls.

I recently spoke with a woman who, after describing her promiscuous past flat-out stated, “I feel like my soul is dead. I don’t know how to connect with a man, and I don’t know how to connect with God anymore.” Although you may not be able to physically see the damage done by casual sex, there are women all around us who can testify to its destructive force.

In this article, you’ll discover 3 paths to freedom from sexual sin and to renewal.

  1. Share your story safely.
  2. Have an “escape plan.”
  3. Check your heart.

1. Share Your Story of Sexual Sin

Choose a safe person — a woman at your church, a counselor, a trusted female neighbor, or family member — to share your broken story.

What if you don’t have a safe person in your life? Then please contact me or another counselor on the Heart2Heart Counselor Directory at my website. In person or by Skype, I’ll listen. No judgment. Hey, I have my story too. Doesn’t every woman?

When you share your story, emotions like shame and fear dissipate. You sense hope.

2. Have an Escape Plan

A favorite Bible verse is 1 Corinthians 10:13 because it’s full of hope and promise.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

sexual sin artWhen sexual sin has infiltrated your life, you need an escape plan. The wonderful thing is, God has provided the way of escape. Every believer has the Holy Spirit living inside her, guiding her, encouraging her, convicting her.

You are not alone. God is with you and loves you deeply. He cannot love you any less than he does, no matter what you’ve done and where you’ve been.

God gives you wisdom too (James 1:1). Pray and ask God for the wisdom to devise practical steps when tempted. They might include–

  • names of trusted godly girlfriends to call when tempted.
  • specific Bible verses to think on.
  • Internet protection like Covenant Eyes
  • ideas to get you away from your temptation, such as going to the gym or hanging out at a coffee shop.

Remember, Jesus was tempted by Satan for 40 days in the desert and didn’t sin. (Temptation itself is not wrong.) Check out Matthew 4:1-11 and see how Jesus responded.

3. Check Your Heart

Ultimately, you and I do what we do because we think what we think. The Bible uses the term “heart” as the seat of our desires and motivations. When you desire sexual sin, your thoughts overflow to actions. . .unless you use your escape plan.

Freedom from sexual sin requires a heart set on pleasing God, not self.

Many Christian women want to end sexual immorality. They know it’s wrong. They are ashamed. Still, you are a sinner and struggle with the desires of the flesh. Like the apostle Paul, you do what you don’t want to do and don’t do what you want to do (Romans 5:17).

In counseling women dealing with sexual sin, I’ve discovered a two-fold process in renewing the mind and changing the desires of the heart

  • Correcting false beliefs about God.
  • Keeping a Renew Your Thoughts Journal.

If you’d like to know more about either, please contact me and I’ll send you a free download.

Be encouraged: Sexual sin wants to take you hostage but Jesus has a radical love for you, and his radical love changes you.

Sharing hope with your heart,

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1 Thing Every Friend Needs

friend

Friend, I hope you’ll love this replay of one of my popular posts. I made a few edits and changed the photo but my heart on friendship remains true. Jill Savage and her daughter Annie have a new book on moms and friendship. It’s titled Better Together: Because You’re Not Meant to Mom It Alone. You might want to check it out.

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The one thing every friend needs is. . .someone who accepts our messiness and loves us in the messy.

Let’s be honest. Friendships scare you and me.

Friendships meet a God-given need for relationship, so why do few women make friends as easily as my college-aged daughter Julia? She collects friends like shiny pennies. She and her friends — girls and guys — always texttweetsnap chat, and meet IRL (in real life) over lunch, dinner, snacks, more snacks — all their waking hours.

She’s the girl I wanted to be in high school, the girl with gravitational pull.

Could some of your and I fear we’re too messy to be lovable? accepted? to have a place of belonging?

Why a Friend Matters

A friend is “someone you feel close to, see often, and can count on when you need her” This is a definition Dee Brestin shared in her iconic book, The Friendships of Women.

A friend helps you know you matter to her. . .even when your life get messy.

And who doesn’t have a messy life? Sometimes “super women” look like that they have it all together. They don’t. They’re hiding behind masks. Perhaps perfection or busyness or materialism or career-climbing.

Please be assured that they’re messy too.

Listen to Elyse Fitzpatrick, a biblical counselor, conference speaker, and author:

Until recent years, even though I knew I was to serve God, I never had my priorities straight. I never understood that my problem was me — not my husband, job, kids, car, parents . . .you fill in the blanks. I was confused and the psychological pholosophies that had crept into my thinking were making things worse. Didn’t I neeed to learn to love myself? Didn’t I need to get my needs met? Didn’t I have a need for romance? For security? For significance? How could God expect me to pour my life out for others then I was so miserable myself? Didn’t I need to fill my own ‘love cup’ before I could fill others? (from Women Helping Women, Harvest House, 1997)

After digging deep into the Bible for God’s truth, her focus changes and she recognizes her messiness and the solution to it.

Now I understand that I’m not to be concerned with whether my perceived ‘needs’ are being met. These ‘needs’ are not issues for me anymore because I believe that God have given me everything for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). It’s not that I’m perfect, I’m not. In fact, I’m far more aware of my sin now than ever before. It’s just that life makes sense now and I’m confident that my loving Father is in control.

Yes, she needs friends. Just as I do and you do.

Real friends.Our real friends give hugs and listen when we have real hurts and laugh with us not at us. Because they listen, our friends encourage and strengthen us. They help us know we are not alone.

Do you have a friend you encourages you? How do you encourage your friends? Hugs? Notes? Listening? Laughing?

Are You Friend “Challenged”?

God is piloting me through a friend-free zone now, and I don’t like it. My once close friends got busy and I got busy too — with work, with family responsibilities. Does your busy life make time for friends? How can you schedule in friend time so you can encourage her and be encouraged?

I cried to God, “I feel friendless and I don’t like it.”

The Lord spoke to my heart: “Come to Me.”

Quiet sharpens my hearing.

Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10, NIV

I sensed that the Lord will renew friendships and bring new ones. . .in his time. He’s giving me another opportunity to trust him. Do you feel friend challenged too? If so does this bring on feelings of worthlessness?

You Matter

Whether you have a bazillion girlfriends like my daughter, Julia, or just a few — or none — God says you matter. When friendships become hurtful, you matter.

It’s not the number of friends on Facebook that matters most. So stop counting. Stop comparing.

What matters most is your friendship with your Maker, and he’ll take care of the rest. Honest. God knows your need of friendship better than you do. 

Now What?

Here are a few “You Matter” verses from God’s heart to yours. Why not memorize one or two this week?

“I am a child of God.” John 1:12

“I am a saint.” Ephesians 1:1, 1 Corinthians 1:2, Philippians. 1:1, Colossians 1:2

“I am chosen of God, holy and dearly loved.” Colossians 3:12, 1 Thessalonians 1:4

“I am God’s workmanship — his handiwork — born anew in Christ to do his work.”  Ephesians 2:10 

Sweet friend, be sure to read the next post. Simply subscribe to my blog now while it’s on your mind.

Sharing hope with your heart!

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3 Traps of Performance-Living

performancePerformance-living is a mindset that says what you do determines your value.

It is a lie.

This lie tempts you to save yourself as you give in to its demands. Do you feel weary? Burdened? Exhausted? Then you may have a bad case of performance-living.

And it’s very demanding, a taskmaster, demanding that you get your own straw to make bricks and meet the quota (Exodus 5:6-9). Push, push, hurry, hurry — and look good as you try performance-living.

It has at least three traps.

1. Performance-living: Achieve!

Performance-living ties your achievement to your value as a person. The more you achieve, the greater your value. What about people who aren’t smart like Steve Jobs? Do they have less value because they aren’t “Person of the Year”? The psalmist says,

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18, NIV

2. Performance-living: Beautify!

It links your looks to your value. The lie is only the young and beautiful matter. Haven’t you used makeup to cover a blemish? Or perhaps Root Rescue to hide gray? Or gone on a diet or exercised to lose weight and tone up?

Believing beauty determines your worth is a treadmill of anxiety and it’s exhausting. The apostle Peter writes,

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 1 Peter 3:3-4

Beauty is a gentle and quiet spirit. Not liposuction!

3. Performance-living: Be Perfect!

graceWant anxiety? Derive your value from perfection: well-behaved kids, a gorgeous home, a fulfilling career, and. . .lead a small group, keep a prayer journal faithfully, and read the Bible in a year, every year.

This is what God wants, right? Perfection? Doesn’t Jesus say, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48)? Here Jesus means growth into maturity of godliness. He doesn’t mean super-woman performance-living.

When you “succeed,” performance-living becomes pride.

When you “fail,” performance-living turns into anger, fear, and depression, resulting in all kinds of untoward behavior unbecoming of a Christian woman. Your thoughts morph into ugliness too.

Gospel-Centered Solution

Exchange performance-living for grace-living. Grace-living is believing and acting on the truth of the good news that God loves you and values you. Your value isn’t dependent on what you do. God determines your value, and aren’t you more precious to him than a sparrow?

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29-31

The gospel isn’t something you do. Grace is a gift of God. There is no score card. No boxes to check. No to-do lists.

Your value is anchored in Christ’s accomplishment, not yours. Refreshing, isn’t it?

Sharing hope with your heart,

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