Trials: Take the Wild Path to Joy

trials

Who likes trials? Only masochists, right?

Yet in Jesus Christ’s flip-the-world-upside-down gospel — where the weak are strong, and the poor are rich, and the messed up are cleaned up — trials are the wild path to joy, to true happiness. And here’s a key:

Christ gave his life for you in order to give his life to you so that he could live his live through you.

Blessing of Trials

Sucky trials get your attention.

Then you feel a need to deal.

And Jesus is the real deal.

Did you know he wants you to think like he thinks? Did you know you canwhat a mind-boggling thought!  because he empowers you to do so? It’s all Jesus.

‘For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinshtians 2:16, ESV

With Jesus, trials help you and me see, really see. They help us gain a new perspective, God’s perspective, as long as we’re open to listen to him. But Satan tries to interfere.

As Timothy Lane and Paul Trip say in How People Change:

Nothing is subtle about the ongoing war that rages throughout the Christian life. Trials and temptations about, but we respond to them from a new vantage point.

 New Perspective of Trials

We can change our perspective of trials. Here are just three ideas.

1. Remember that God continually blesses you. He is for you. You belong to him, and he wants you to experience the abundant life.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10.

2. Decide to want what God wants: a close relationship with Jesus. Let go of lesser pleasures that entice. Seek the greatest pleasure and spend your life enjoying God.

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

3. Embrace the truth that God uses sucky trials to increase your desire for the highest dream.

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:6-7.

Isn’t it wonderful to know that you belong to God? That you can spend the rest of your life enjoying him? That trials have a goal?

And what is this goal? To become more and more Christlike as you love God and love your neighbor.

Invitation for YOU

Friends, we gave one hope: Christ. But sometimes life beat us down. This is where biblical counseling can help. If you’re facing trials and want God’s best for you, I invite you to consider biblical counseling.

I’m a trained biblical counselor persuing a doctorate in biblical counseling. I also am certified by the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors and by the Association of Biblical Counselors.

I meet with counselees (women, teen girls, and couples) in person and by Skype. (Skype-to-Skype calls are free.)

May our great God bless you, as I know he will. Ephesians 1:3

Sharing Hope for Your Heart,

Know and Accept your New Identity in Christ

New Identity

Your new identity in Christ matters; shake off your false identity. It’s gone. Accept the truth you are a wonderful and treausured new creation.

Did you know that when you embrace who God says you are — blessed, forgiven, precious and more — you discover true contentment? Who doesn’t want unwavering contentment, a very real and blessed happiness?

But you’ve struggled with self-acceptace, haven’t you? Dare I say we all have. Our false identities cling like cat hair. We don’t like them but they are hard to shake. . .even after we become Christians and get an inkling of the Truth.

Believing the World’s Lies

Many years ago, like many overly self-counscious teen girls, I stared in the bathroom mirror and my 14-year-old eyes spoke the question of my soul: Who am I?

A gangling eighth-grader; a highly sensitive, gangling eighth-grader, I tried to smile at the right times at my new school and not do something stupid. Basically I just wanted to fit in.

Did I mention I was shy?

Then the popular (aka mean) girls at my new school thought it hilarious to call me spacey. I wondered if this was who I was.

Was I “spacey” like the mean girls at my new school said?

Insecure, yes. Quiet, yes. Spacey, no.

Then, later that year — and I didn’t tell a soul at school — my dad spent more than a month in a psych ward, and his diagnosis of manic-depression scrambled my thoughts. Like father, like daughter? Did his problem determine my identity?

Even later that horrible year, a boy molested me several times. Was my identity now “victim”?

Where to Find Acceptance

For a long time, yes. I saw myself as an insecure, anxious victim who longed for acceptance. I tried and tried and tried to make people like me. My happiness depended on what others thought of me and how they treated me. I was a people-pleaser through and through, and that’s a horrible way to live, being jerked around by others’ opinions.

Then God showed me a better way: What matters most is who God says I am. The same is true for you.

Think about it. Who knows me best? Who knows you best? The real you. Your Maker, right?

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s careAnd 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

In Christ alone, you discover your new identity and know God accepts you because of the Cross.

What Would You Add to the List?

Here’s the short list of who he says you are. Would you like the long list? I’d be honored to send you a complimentary download. Just leave a comment below or contact me.

Please notice they are present tense. They are true of you now.

You are blessed. (Ephesians 1:3)

You are forgiven. (Ephesians 1:7)

You are a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

You are complete. (Colossians 2:9-10)

You are eternally secure. (Romans 8:31-39)

You are God’s workmanship. (Ephesians 2:10)

You are God’s treasure. (1 Peter 2:9-10)

These statements are true of folks who are believers in Jesus as their Savior. If you are not certain that you are a believer, may I encourage you to go here to find out? Easy to understand. Interactive. Answers your questions.

Sharing hope with your heart,

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Feel Worthless? Reject Lies You Believe!

worthlessHave you believed the lie “I’m worthless”? Many women have! They feel like pond scum! 

In this article, you’ll discover:

  1. Why you feel worthless.
  2. How to overcome the worthless trap.

Remember this: No woman is ‘pond scum’!

‘Am I a Worthless Freak’?

Women who feel inferior often wonder if there’s something terribly wrong with them–and with God. Did you know that what you believe about God affects what you believe about yourself? If you have a twisted view of God, you’ll probably adopt a distorted view of yourself.

So where do twisted views come from? Let’s look at three of them.

CHILDHOOD INFLUENCERS

Often the important people in your childhood told you in words and/or actions that you didn’t matter. Did your dad abandon you? Was your mom emotionally unavailable? Did a relative or family friend poke fun at you?

Perhaps you wore glasses or had carrot-colored hair or were super skinny or a bit chunky. When people who ought to build you up tear you down instead, you begin to believe their lies. Their lies say: You’re worthless.

People often asked, ‘Why do you live with your uncle and aunt? Your folks, brothers, and sister live close, why not live at home?’

‘I don’t know,’ I answered. Wondering, am I a freak? –KC

RECURRING HURTS

Later in life you may experience compounding hurts of a broken marriage, a teenage son or daughter who refuses Christian values, the pain of office gossip, or a tramautic event like bankrupcy, death of a loved one, even robbery or a rape.

Everytime I see a guy who looks the creep who held a gun to my head, I think, ‘Why did he pick me? Am I wearing an X or something?’ –MH

BAD CHOICES

People-pleasing, drugs use, longing for love from guys — these are a few of the bad choices some women make to counteract feelings of worthlessness.

Sadly and tragicly, says Nancy Leigh DeMoss, there’s a sick progression from deep hurts in childhood that lead to destructive beliefs and actions.

“First, as a child, [a] woman was told a terrible, destructive lie,” DeMoss says. “She listened to the lie; then rathering countering the lie with the Truth, she dwelt on the lie until she believed it was actually true.

Ultimately, she acted on the lie until she found herself in bondage to the lie: ‘[I] became very depressed, and wanted to go to sleep and never wake up.'”

What is a lie you believed? How did it color your thinking and your choices? Did you even want to just give up? Where did you find peace?

Getting Free of the Worthless Trap

Like mold in a shower, lies blacken your beliefs about yourself. Repeat: You are not pond scum! Every believer is a precious daughter of the Most High God! Your worth is rooted in Christ.

As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him. 1 Peter 2:4

Indeed, Jesus was rejected by men. More important, he was chosen by God.

When Godworthless sent Jesus Christ to earth in order to pay the price for your sins and mine on the cross, he declared your precious worth. Will you continue believing the lie that you’re worthless when God has proven you have great worth? It’s a lot to wrap your mind around, isn’t it?  

Here’s an another amazing truth:

Christ gave his life for you in order to give his life to you so that he could live his live through you.


Three Actions to Take:

1. Recognize that God wants to bless you. He is for you. You belong to him, and he wants you to experience the abundant life.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10

2. Determine to want what God wants: a loving relationship with Jesus. Let go of lesser pleasures that entice. Seek the greatest pleasure and spend your life enjoying God.

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

3. Embrace the truth that God uses the pain of trials, including feelings of worthlessness, to deepen your desire for the highest dream.

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:6-7

Isn’t it wonderful to know that you belong to God? That you can enjoy him? That your pain has a purpose: to become more and more like Jesus.

An Offer

Friends, we have one hope: Christ. In him we have everything we need to live a fruitful and godly life now. If you’re in a trial and would like biblical counsel to grow and change and find solutions, I invite you to consider biblical counseling. I’m a certified biblical counselor (ACBC, ABC, BCC) and a graduate of Western Seminary, Portland, OR, in Pastoral Care to Women.

I meet with women and families in person in greater Chicago and by Skype worldwide. Would you like a complimentary 20-minute consult. Please contact me.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

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Because He Loves Me: Book Review

fitzpatrick

Marie Notcheva highly recommends Because He Loves Me: How Christ Transforms Our Daily Life by Elyse Fitzpatrick. This gem articulates the gospel and encourages readers to live it every day. Marie is a featured Heart2Heart Counselor and writes a blog. Here article appeared first here on her website and is used with permission. 

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Elyse Fitzpatrick is who I want to be when I grow up.

Of course, I mean that completely in the Ephesians 4:15 sense of “grow up.” The ability to articulate the simple, profound truth of the Gospel and its implications for day-to-day life as beautifully as Elyse has in Because He Loves Me: How Christ Transforms Our Daily Life speaks of a real spiritual maturity. Her passion, from the first page of this encouraging book, is for her reader to have the same joyful, settled assurance of Christ’s love that she herself has found in the pages of Scripture.

Whose Responsible for Your Spiritual Growth?

Why is it that so many of us recognize our need for the Gospel – the Person and work of Jesus Christ – for salvation; then slowly move past the Good News in our daily strivings to “please God”?

We come to the Cross for justification, but practically live as if sanctification depended solely on us. Elyse spots this tendency – which often leads to a moralistic, defeated attitude – and reminds the reader of the only antidote: applying the finished work of Christ to our continually sinning hearts.

Weaving the entire thread of Scripture around a central point – that God FIRST loved us – Elyse shows how getting this knowlege of His deep, abiding, personal, and unfathomable love for us down into the very marrow of our bones completely changes everything. In fact, it transforms our whole identity – who we reckon ourselves to be.

If we see ourselves as “foster children,” who can be evicted or abandoned at any moment, we will live like it. Realizing we are a permanent, cherished part of the family – His adopted children – transforms our hearts and enables us to live for Christ in His strength.

As she writes, “Any obedience that isn’t motivated by His great love is nothing more than penance” (page 148). Well said.

The Impact of the Gospel on You

How does the Gospel message impact our walk, 10, 20, even 30 years after our conversion, when we can rattle off the Doctrines of Grace like the days of the week?

If we don’t consciously live in the light of His love, the gospel will be secondary, virtually meaningless, and Jesus Christ will fade into insignificance. Our faith will become all about us, our performance, and how we think we’re doing, and our transformation will be hindered.

This tendency to take our eyes off of Him and focus inwardly on our failure becomes a vicious cycle, especially when one is battling a life-dominating sin. Many of you bear witness to this fact. I once received the following e-mail from a reader:

…I have been REALLY struggling again lately. I have trouble turning to God, because I feel sometimes like I don’t deserve His forgiveness, or to ask Him for help.

Lately I have been obsessing about food and eating all day long, and binging and purging A LOT! I work as a nanny, so I am alone with kids and in a house full of junk food I wouldn’t buy, and have found myself unable to keep from destructive eating behaviors.

Please pray for me that I will go back to Christ for guidance, and be able to truly repent for my sin. Please also pray that I will stop worshiping false idols of food and thinness, and instead live to glorify Him… (emphasis mine).

This young lady sincerely loves God and wants to please Him, but her words reveal that she has fallen into the trap so common to all of us: living as if our position before God is based on our own merit.

When did any of us, in our “best” moments, EVER “deserve” His forgiveness? We didn’t. Christ secured it for us – while we were still His enemies. We forget this. When we succeed, we feel good and can worship. Failure brings shame and a fear of approaching God, which naturally leads to more failure and despair. We are, as Elyse points out in this book, essentially not trusting God that He is as good as He says He is.

This is unbelief, and it leads to idols. When we don’t feel fully secure in our position in Christ – solely based on His righteousness and grace – we seek the satisfaction that should be found in Him alone through counterfeits. Putting our trust in these “earthly treasures” leads to fear, worry, and anxiety – which leads us ever further away from the Cross.

Freedom from fear comes from contemplating and remembering the love of God, manifested in Christ. As I have written before (and Elyse so much more articulately), change in our behavior can only come from truly realizing and appreciating who God is and what He has done for us. Knowing that His kindness is what has led us to repentance (Romans 2:4) motivates us to love Him back, and approach Him with confidence. Our ‘identity in Christ’ (as Elyse refers to it; I might use ‘position’) is permanent and irrevocable. It is what frees us up to walk in love.

Remembering God’s Love for You

In the final section of Because He Loves Me, Elyse demonstrates how remembering and contemplating this unfathomable love God has for us is the true motivation for lasting change. She writes,

Our natural unbelief will always cast doubt on His love for us. It is the awareness of His love and only this that will equip us to wage war against sin. Until we really grasp how much He loves us, we’ll never be able to imitate Him.

We won’t come near to Him if we’re afraid of His judgment. We won’t repent and keep pursuing godliness if we don’t believe that our sin doesn’t faze His love for us one bit. We won’t want to be like Him if we believe that His love is small, stingy, censorious, severe. And we’ll never be filled with His fullness until we begin to grasp the extent of His love (Eph. 3:19).

As a member of His family, you’re the apple of His eye, the child He loves to bless. You’re His darling.

“Every failure in sanctification is a failure in worship.”

Far from minimizing the seriousness of sin, Elyse reminds the reader how costly it was to God – and invites her to rest in this reality. At the same time, we are thus enabled to “wage a vicious war against sin” – the imperative (command) that naturally follows the indicative (what God has already declared to be true). Every sin, from greed to sexual immorality, is a failure to love as we’ve been loved – at its root, unbelief.

The key to walking in freedom and joy, then, is remembering that we’re beloved children, redeemed by Jesus, set free from the power of sin. This settled confidence produces thanksgiving ane edifying speech, rather than complaining and bitterness. This is what applying the Gospel to every area of our lives looks like in practice.

I have been recommending Because He Loves Me to women who write me about their specific struggles, as well as counselors and anyone else who would benefit from the reminder of what Christ’s perfect life, love, cross, resurrection, and intercession really mean to us as we grow in Him.

In short, everyone reading this would likely benefit from the encouraging and joyful explanation Elyse presents on the synergy of God’s grace and our response. Like C.J. Mahaney’s The Cross Centered Life, Because He Loves Me trains the reader to reflect more deeply on the finished work of Christ on her behalf as a catalyst to worship, rather than presenting sanctification as a spiritual self-help plan.

See more about this wonderful book here.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

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Emotions Reveal Your True Thoughts

emotionsYOUR EMOTIONS tell you a lot about your thoughts. Guess where your thoughts originate? Your thoughts come from your deeply held beliefs! When your beliefs line up with God’s Word, you experience a transformed life

You feel what you feel because you think what you think. What does this have to do with a transformed life? More than you might imagine. Your thoughts are the key to transformation.

In the short article, you’ll discover:

  1. Emotions “talk.”
  2. Change your thoughts, and you’ll change your emotions.
  3. Experiencing life transformation.

Emotions Say Something Important

Emotions “talk.” They reveal thoughts. When you know what you’re thinking you can ask yourself, Do my thoughts agree with God’s Word.

To see how this works, “hear” the thoughts in this parable where the rich man feels the emotion of fear of loss.

And he (Jesus) told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’

And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’

But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:16-21, ESV)

In the parable, the rich man thought he’d have his crops a long time and told himself to relax, eat, drink, and be merry (actions). His thoughts and actions were based on the godless belief that pleasure is what matters, not God. His fearful emotion was an early signal to pay attention to his thoughts and change them as necessary.

What is one of your common thoughts?

  • Life’s not fair?
  • I’m a loser/ugly/stupid?
  • If I had more money/status/popularity, then I’d be happy?

Ask yourself, Does my thought agree with Scripture?

Change Your Thoughts and Emotions Change

Years ago I counseled a Christian woman I’ll call Anna, who was sexually abused by a family friend at age 13. This family friend led a Christian camp, contributing to her twisted image of God. To her God was weak and uncaring, even evil.

She thought sex was a way to get what she wanted most: affection and love. She settled for the false love of naked embraces and murmured “I love you”s” from high school boys.

Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23, NIV

In time, Anna discovered that only God fulfills her deep need for true love. Her emotions changed from fear and sadness to peace and contentment. Her beliefs changed too as she believed God’s Word and applied its truths to her life.

Experience Life Transformation

Believing the Word of God is crucial to thinking in line with God’s thoughts. As you believe God and spend time reading and meditating on Bible verses, God renews your mind. He transforms your life. Check out Romans 12:2.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” 

As God transforms your thinking, your actions change too.

  • You thank God for your home rather than complaining about your old furniture.
  • You pray more often because you want to draw near to God.
  • You replace the habit of spending hours on Facebook with spending time with your kids.

As you take your eyes off your emotions and as your thoughts change, guess what happens? You begin to experience inner contentment, joy, hope, and peace. Who doesn’t want the abundant life?

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10, ESV

 

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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