Abusing God

There are many Christians today who choose an active lifestyle in defiance against God. The frightening part is, many of them are probably unaware, or have chosen to overlook the consequences that brings about. They have excused themselves into a self-seeking lifestyle so much that it’s become acceptable to them. They’ve replaced the standards of God with their own standards, and their justification for their defiance is nothing short of an abuse of the grace God gives.

Before I go any further in writing, I want to list two synonyms for the word ‘abuse’.

  • Mistreat
  • Misuse

I want to focus on these two words, and how devastating they are to Christians. Even though they both share the same definition, they each hold specific connotations which can be attributed to a defiant lifestyle against God.

Ephesians 4:30 says “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God…” NIV

What causes a person to grieve? Mistreating someone is a guaranteed way to cause grief. When I was around the age of thirteen I stole five dollars from my dad. I needed it to pay a debt to someone, and I was fearful of the consequences if I didn’t pay it. I knew where my dad kept his money, and I had open access to it if I needed it. Kids are notorious for always wanting small amounts of change, so all I ever needed to do was ask, and most of the time he would let me get what I needed. It was that easy, because my dad trusted me not to take anything more. Why, then, didn’t I just ask my dad for the money to pay off this debt? It meant having to explain the situation to him, which I severely wanted to avoid, and I wasn’t sure my dad would give it to me. I didn’t want to deal with the impending consequence of getting my butt kicked by the person I owed money to, and I thought sidestepping around the chance of being told no by my dad would be the best option. I decided to just take it. It was easier to mistreat the trust my dad had in me and abuse the already open access to it than it was for me to ask him and run the risk being told no. This mistreatment and abuse of privilege didn’t happen because I didn’t love my dad, in fact, it was quite the opposite. I used my dad’s love and trust to my advantage to do and get what I wanted.

My mistreatment of my dad’s love and trust in me upset him. It hurt him. I had caused my dad to grieve. The defiance I had toward my dad caused a set of consequences that were far more severe than what would have been physically issued by the kid I owed money to had I not paid him. My dad cut me off. Not from his love, of course, but from his trust in me. When we grieve the Holy Spirit we cause the same consequence of being cut off from God, only God isn’t the one who is doing the cutting – we are. With each act of willful defiance we have in our lives, we separate ourselves from God’s presence, and trust. God’s trust in us is different from that of human trust. When people lose trust in other people it causes them to grow leery and cautious. God’s trust in us is rooted in our trust in Him. God already knows what we’re going to do before we do it, but God continually searches our hearts and reveals Himself to us through our obedience to his will. You could say that when God loses his trust in us, what’s really happening is we’re losing our trust in God.

So why do we mistreat God? Why did I mistreat my dad the way I did? I wanted something from my dad, but I wasn’t sure he would give it to me, so I did what I wanted to ensure I got my way, and I paid the price for that. God provides for us what we need, but not always what we want. Our wants can quickly lead to a path of self-seeking behavior to fulfill our own desires, and that will always come at a price.

James 1:14 says “but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.” NIV

“Dragged away” is an interesting way for the author to put it. It suggests that we are being ripped away from something much better than what our own sinful desires could ever offer.

Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” NIV

We were created to do good things. Good things bring about good things. God has a plan for our lives that has been perfectly prepared for us, but just because we have knowledge of that doesn’t mean we fully accept it or apply it to our lives. Our flesh is in a constant state of conflict with what God has in mind vs our wants. Not that every want is bad, but our wants often come from a place of our own fleshly desires that contradict what God has in mind for us, so, like I did with my dad, we’re afraid God will say no. We’ve lost our trust in God, and in turn we mistreat him to get our way. So where does that lead us? We begin to misuse God’s grace.

It may seem like an impossible thing to misuse God,  but we do it everyday. We hold on to things in our life that are keeping us from submersing ourselves in the richness and fullness of God’s presence, and we excuse it by saying things such as “I think God would be okay with this.” or “I’m just being me. This is who I am, and God understands that.” I can’t even begin to tell you how dead wrong that concept is, yet it’s a concept that far too many of us Christians have. Not only is it dead wrong, it’s extremely dangerous territory for anyone to be in.

Ephesians 4:27 says “and do not give the devil a foothold.” NIV

Anything, I repeat, anything that diverts your eyes away from God will with absolute certainty destroy you. It’s that simple. If it’s so simple, then why do we constantly entertain the things that are contradictory to Christ? There’s another simple answer: Because we want to. We choose to. We’re not ready to give up our desires, so we continue to flirt with them and indulge them. We disregard what the bible says, and create our own set of rules to follow. We’re essentially rewriting the Word of God to suit our own standards. How arrogant and foolish. And we do this with the full expectation that God will meet us and honor his covenant with us by continuing to give us grace. What I’m going to say next will probably be met with great opposition, but I firmly believe it to be true: God does not accept us unconditionally. He loves us unconditionally, he offers salvation unconditionally, but love and acceptance are two different things. The scripture has this to say:

Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” NIV

Proverbs 8:17 ” I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.” NIV

John 3:36 “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” NIV

Romans 2:7-11 “To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality, he will give eternal life. But those who are self-seeking and reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile, but glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism.” NIV

Luke 13:27 “But he will reply, I don’t know you or where you came from. Away from me, all you evildoers!” NIV

These five passages of scripture very clearly tell us everything we need to know about God’s grace.

  • God loved us while we were still sinners.
  • If we seek out God we will find him
  • If we believe in God, we will live. If we reject God, we will die.
  • If we reject the truth, we will be in trouble.
  • God will not accept us into his house if He does not know us.

When I said earlier that God does not accept us unconditionally, I wasn’t referring to what He offers us. No one deserves anything from God, so his gift of salvation alone speaks to his willingness and longing to want us. Even Paul referred to himself as ‘the chief of sinners’ (1 Timothy 1:15), and God used him mightily. It is by His grace through faith we receive it as a gift (Ephesians 2:8). When we accept that gift however, there is a change, a transformation that occurs in our lives that calls us to be free. That is its very purpose.

Galatians 5:13 “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” NIV

We cannot continue to make excuse after excuse after excuse to stay in an ongoing relationship with a past which we were set free from and expect to gain anything good from it. As Paul states, “There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil”. The bible was written to be a love letter to us as much as it was to be a warning. The Word of God is full of warnings for us to heed. If we continue to misuse God’s grace by indulging our own desires, and mistreating the Holy Spirit by grieving Him, what is that really saying about our relationship with Christ? It sounds like we don’t really have one.

I’m writing this as a plea to anyone who reads it, whether Christian or not. The basic principals outlined here, though biblical in nature, can be applied to any relationship. A true relationship is not one side taking advantage of the other side for their own selfish desires. I urge you, the reader, as much as I do myself, to closely examine your relationship with Christ. Look at the things in your life that prevent you from being completely in His presence. If you have to second guess something, or if you feel the need to defend your choices, or if you feel the slightest bit guilty about something, chances are those are the very things that God is asking you to lay down and walk away from because they are cutting you off from him. It’s not easy. It never is, and it never will be. But we have hope in the one who knows us best, and wants us to draw nearer to him.

Much Love.



What’s So Difficult About That?

Today’s church is bent on appearing charming and representing itself as a fairy-tale to the world. It’s steadfastly chasing the ‘happily ever after’ that’s been promised in scripture by fulfilling its own agenda far ahead of its appointed time. We use the name of Jesus to condemn the person instead of the sin. We use salvation as a way to feel entitled and pass judgment. We use wealth to prosper in things that expire. Today’s church is impatient, and it wants its reward now. It’s rife with passive aggressive tendencies rooted in hypocrisy and is more invested in having a relationship with itself than it is with Christ. We want to please people instead of pleasing God. We are turning our backs on the very people we are called to minister to because they either don’t fit the lifestyle we’ve chosen for ourselves, or we’re afraid of offending them. Hell has become more of a concept than an actual place. We’re making excuses to conservatively live liberal lives all in the name of comfort.

The worst thing the church can do is exist to please the consciousness of people. That is lazy and abhorrent behavior. Attendance is down so we contrive new ways of drawing in crowds. We’ve turned church into a gimmick, and Sunday morning has become a sideshow. “Step right up and see what the miracle church can do for you! For a small donation you can by this book that will teach all you need to know about how to have prosperity now!” Televangelism is the new QVC catering to the night owls who will buy anything that’s shiny. Church leaders are selling you on the rags to riches notion of ‘You, too, can have it all!’ But wait…there’s more.

It’s true, the story of Jesus is a real life rags to riches story. There’s no denying that. He was born in a manger. He got a job as a carpenter and wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. He hung out with fishermen, and befriended a whore. He was homeless and slept wherever and whenever he could. He rode into town on a donkey. One of his friends betrayed him, and another straight up denied knowing him. The authorities thought he was a criminal, so they beat him mercilessly and had him killed. They buried him and went about with their business. I’m not going to lie, that sounds like a pretty rough life. One I wouldn’t want to lead, especially if I didn’t have to. That’s the thing, though. Jesus could have lived a very different life if he wanted to. He had pretty strong connections, and had access to a lot of wealth. So what’s up with this guy anyway? What gives?

I firmly believe that if Jesus were walking the earth today he would be the guy to tell the waitress to have a seat while he clears his own table. He would be the guy on the street hailing a taxi and insist he drive himself to his destination while the driver rides along. He would be the guy who continually serves his neighbor. Servitude, however, doesn’t mean being a ‘yes man’. Christ wasn’t a pushover; he stood up for what he believed in and never backed down. He had many opportunities to just go with the flow and step aside making way for mankind to do its thing, but his perseverance laid in his convictions. He would have done mankind a great disservice by backing down and being a coward. Essentially that is what today’s church has become, cowards. We don’t speak our convictions because we’re too afraid of being off-putting and not being accepted, or we speak them loudly with our own embellishment, because, you know, we believe in Jesus so we’re better than everyone else. Nonsense. We don’t develop relationships with people and let them see Christ through our actions. We hide behind the cross and play hide and seek with the world as it looks for a salvation they may not even be aware of.

I’m a Christian. I’m not perfect. I have many, may faults. I’m no better than anyone else just because I believe in Jesus. All Jesus means to me is that I’ve accepted the fact that I live in world full of sin, and as Paul said, I am the chief of them. I’m not going to condemn anyone because they don’t believe in what I believe in. What I will condemn is the lie that saturates this world with the belief that all you need to do is live a good life. It’s so much more than that. Why would God send people to Hell, you might ask. Do you think anyone sends a criminal to prison but themselves? Sure, they are judged and sentenced, but guess why they were judged and sentenced. They’re the ones who committed the crime. No one made them do it. They chose to. We’re born with sin in our lives and we have an out that is so simple. It’s unfortunate that today’s church as convoluted that simplicity with its own judgment and has made Christ nothing more than a farce.

Mark 12:31: “Love your neighbor as yourself…”

What’s so difficult about that?

A Virgin’s Release

she twisted herself
into a virgin’s release
mixed up with a fix up
innocence deceased
abashed in the feeling
of what she traded in
a little girl’s promise
for stained satin and skin
a tearful acquiesce
sanctioned by demur
exonerates her heart
and revived what was pure


I haven’t written much poetry in a while, but last night it was impressed upon me to write a piece about the struggle and consequence of sex outside of marriage. It’s something that many Christians find themselves having engaged in, myself included, and the remnants of its action can be overbearing at times. A moment of pleasure turns into what seems like timeless guilt.

I wrote this in the most simple way I could from start to finish to show that just as quickly as it can happen, so also can the forgiveness we need to accept from God and from ourselves .

A Question of Grace

I’m going to preface this post with this: It worries me that in today’s society we are so quick to pass judgment and that we collectively group our problems and cast them off on other people. I’ve been very guilty of this in and it’s extremely unhealthy and unfair not only to yourself, but to other people. I was once married and was not a good husband in that marriage, but God changed who I was and I am no longer that person. This isn’t to say that people should go running back to unhealthy relationships, that’s not at all what I mean. In fact, I think it’s a good thing that God gets us out of some relationships especially before marriage. I simply mean to say God can change anyone if they allow Him. My only hope is for everyone to recognize that through Christ we can all have victory over who we once were and over any situation.


I recently came across an inspirational quote online that stirred something within me. The quote comes from Heather Lindsey. I’ll admit that I am unfamiliar with who she is or her ministry, but that didn’t mean that I was passing any manner of judgment on her. I simply disagreed with the ambiguity the message behind the quote could derive in some people. The quote is as follows:


At first glance you’re probably wondering what I could find wrong with what she is saying. When I first read it, it made me feel very unsettled on the inside, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Was I taking it too personally having gone through a marriage and a handful of relationships that didn’t work out, or was there something deeper poking at my heart? I took some time this evening to look at it further and tried to biblically find the answers to the questions it posed. I decided to write Mrs. Lindsey to express these concerns and ultimately ask her what her opinion of my questions were. Here is the email I sent to her:

Dear Mrs. Lindsey,

I recently came across an inspirational graphic online attributed to you as a quote about relationships that has left me a bit shaken. The quote I am referring to is this: “If your ex was so amazing, you would still be together. Isn’t crazy how the illusion of a person is amplified when you leave a unhealthy relationship? Then you run back to them out of loneliness & find out.. they are EXACTLY the same. Fill those voids with Jesus, not exes.”

There is so much about this quote that I both agree and disagree with. My first agreement, of course, is that Jesus is the only one fully capable of filling any void left no matter the circumstance. I also agree that far too often people do run back to unhealthy relationships out of desperation over feelings of loneliness or abandonment. I cannot disagree with any of that. Where my concern comes from is the connotation which this quote may be given due to certain ambiguities it has about the definition of an unhealthy relationship. Upon my first reading of the quote, I found it to be very unilaterally biased. Given that not every relationship that comes to an end shares the same cause-and-effect, I feel the quote could provoke a misguided sense of unity for one half and could project feelings of judgment on the other half. The root of what I am getting at is that I do not see any grace within the message you are sending.

In my experience I have known many couples, even myself, that have been in relationships that were considered to be unhealthy for many reasons. In today’s society, when someone hears the phrase ‘unhealthy relationship’, more often than not it will elicit feelings of abuse or neglect. That’s not to say this is the case every time, but we live in a very sinful world and these a very prominent problems that Satan uses to attack relationships, among many others. I realize I may be in the minority by disagreeing with your message, but coming from my own personal experience of having been in relationships that ultimately God did not want for either of us, I felt a sense of judgment wash over me when I read your quote. I asked myself why. Why would I feel judgment? This is the answer I came up with that I wanted to share with you.

As I mentioned before, I strongly feel that the quote lacks a message of grace. When you say: ‘If your ex was so amazing, you would still be together.’ To me, this is pronouncing a sense of false ego that says ‘I’m better than they are’. Romans 3:23 teaches us “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. None of us are ‘amazing’ people. Asking ‘If your ex was so amazing’ immediately indicates that we are attributing the ‘amazing’ category for ourselves and should therefore be looked at as such. Two God-fearing, healthy people can both be in an unhealthy relationship, both equally contributing to a problem that is not within the will of God. The only amazing person that has ever walked the earth was Jesus. This isn’t to say that we’re worthless, on the contrary, Romans 3:22 says “We are made right in God’s sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have done.

This is also in tune with the part of the quote that reads: ‘they are EXACTLY the same’ when you run back to them. Saying this prevents us from doing two things: 1. forgiving them, and 2. acknowledging that Christ has victory over the situation. When a breakup occurs, if it’s done properly, both sides should take that time alone with God and with themselves to reflect upon who they are as individuals and allow God to show them what it was that wasn’t right and why it was not in God’s will for them to be together. We should be thankful that God has gotten us out of an unhealthy relationship, regardless of the circumstance, but we should also spend that time in prayer and ask for forgiveness and forgiving the other person and not assuming they are the same, in effect, creating judgement in our own hearts. It’s true, that some situations call for an immediate release from relationships because of potential dangers or exhaustive efforts to keep it going which hinders the other person, but that is why I feel it is so vital to reevaluate your quote so that it broadens the message that not every relationship is equal. Surely if I am one person that felt judgement from what I read, there has to be many more that might feel the same way and could potentially have wounds that were once healed be reopened, making them believe they are less than what they truly are in God’s sight.

Please know that I am not passing judgement upon you or your ministry. I am simply a fellow believer in Jesus that wanted to share with you my feelings on something I read that caused a stir within my spirit. I would love to hear back from you and to know what your thoughts are.

Have a very blessed day.

Travis Lickey

Like I said in my email to her, perhaps I am very much in a minority with my reasoning behind my concerns, but that’s why I felt it was important to reach out and voice them. We’re all students in God’s world and we’re each taught lessons very differently. We need to be bold enough to ask questions and humble enough to accept the answers. I’m ready to accept that my concerns might not be valid, or that perhaps I should look at them from a different view. Either way, I’m hoping for an email back and I will update this as soon as I receive one back.


I’m Judging You

“I’m judging you”. It’s a phrase we’ve all said jokingly to our friends when we catch them sneaking that extra slice of pizza, or we walk in on them listening to their favorite Nickleback song. It’s all said in fun with no harm done, but what about when we walk out the door and into the lives of everyone else around us? Chances are we’re still assuming the “I’m judging you” attitude only this time with less fun involved.

Let’s be realistic here, it’s fun to judge people. I wouldn’t be honest if I admitted otherwise. It’s a favorite pastime of many people that makes them feel a little better about themselves and might even justify some of their own actions. I’m guilty of it, very much so. When I see certain people at Walmart that really stand out (you know who I’m talking about) it’s almost second nature to pass judgment on them. If we must be honest, then let’s be brutally honest. This world is populated by a lot of overweight people, unfortunate looking people, obnoxious people…I don’t really need to go on, do I? I don’t say this because I think I’m better than they are; I say it to make a point. Earth is a big kitchen with a lot of spices, and some don’t mix well with others. That doesn’t make them any less important in the recipe, though.

Did you ever stop to think that the overweight woman you see milling about in the cookie aisle, the one wearing the mangy looking sweatpants and a tank top that’s stretched a bit too far around the more, shall we say, robust areas of her upper torso, the one with the dirty looking kids that won’t seem to shut up, you know, her – did you ever stop to think that she has feelings that are just as easily damaged as yours? It’s true that there’s some people in the world that are so self-confident they could appear in public in their underwear and feel no shame. And, of course, there are the ones that simply don’t care or perhaps aren’t aware of their appearance due to delusion. Suffice it to say, however, most people will be all too aware of the way they look, and people like that woman may not be at the place in her life to take better care of herself. Maybe all the money she receives is from state support, or maybe she works two jobs so she can pay the bills and feed her family with next to nothing left over. Why am I saying all of this? It’s simple, it’s time we start cutting people some slack. And I’m speaking to myself the most.

We lack conviction and compassion in our lives. We don’t want to be held accountable for our inner most thoughts because they’re ours. They’re locked away in our minds where no one else can hear them but us. If I said out loud half the things I think, I would no doubt offend a great deal of people. Keeping it to an inner monologue doesn’t change the fact that’s it’s any less wrong than making it public. On the contrary, it still has the same effect. You may not be hurting someone’s feelings with your words or your glares, but what you are doing is channeling that judgment from your mind straight into your heart. Eventually, if enough time goes by giving way to these patterns, cynicism and ego will take over and you’re going to start believing that you’re somehow better than everyone else around you., when in fact, you’re just like them.

Romans 2:1

Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.

And that’s just not talking about the act of wearing dirty sweatpants either. That’s summing up a lot more than that. It’s talking about hypocrisy. In simpler terms, we are a reflection of the people we meet everyday. The guy who is rude to the salesman is the woman who is obnoxiously talking on her cell phone in the check out line. The teenager who is making fun of a classmate in school is the principal who thinks all kids are worthless. The white guy that tells his friend that all black people are lazy is the black guy that tells his friend that all white people are privileged. Am I being bold in these statements? Absolutely. I think it’s time as Christians that we start holding ourselves accountable and recognize in ourselves what has already changed in our lives when Christ’s spirit came to dwell inside of us.

Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

When we accept Christ as our savior we not only invite Him into our lives, but into our minds, our hearts and our spirit. Christ has taken over who we are. When I said earlier that we are a reflection of the people we see everyday, we are also a reflection for them and it’s time we start letting them see Christ in us. When you see someone smile it makes you want to smile. When you see someone having a good time, you want to join in. Let’s start showing people the joy that Christ has given us so they’ll want what they see. It’s an open invitation and there’s more than enough room.

Luke 6:38

Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.

So, the next time you see our friend at Walmart, say a blessing to her as you walk by. It will make her feel good and you might be surprised how it makes you fee, too.


Lost But Not Forgotten

Have you ever felt like all is lost? We will undoubtedly encounter painful situations in our lives that will shake us to the core. We will experience pain that causes us to drop to our knees and cry out with questions that may seem unanswerable. When we don’t understand what is going on in our lives and why things seem to be on a downward spiral, our first instinct is to become defensive and shutting out any voice of reason that might be coming our way, even if it’s from ourselves. These are normal behaviors that we experience, but they are not part of the solution.

When bad things happen we often feel like we’re being tested. Do I have enough strength? Could I have had more faith? Why is this happening to me? Why do I feel so alone? It’s a safe bet to say that if you’re experiencing something that is making you miserable, chances are you’re not alone. The old adage ‘it takes two to tango’ doesn’t necessarily denote negativity, but it does mean there is more than one side to your situation. A breakup, for example, is a classic situation where a person has immediate feelings of abandonment and rejection. Those feelings can ignite a range of passionate reactions that for the most part, usually never help to resolve anything other than furthering your own grief. So what do we do to help ourselves move forward when all we want to do is question the past in search of those answers that may never come? We turn to Christ.

It’s a far too often told lie from Satan that God doesn’t want us to be happy. If that were so, Christ wouldn’t have even bothered with humanity and would have let us perish. Everything we experience emotionally Christ also experienced. On top of that, He’s the one who created our emotions, so He absolutely knows how to help us handle them. There are five stages to grief that a person typically goes through when faced with a loss, and it doesn’t have to be limited to death. Losing a friend or someone who you love due to a breakup will garner the same result. Let’s take a look at these five steps and then apply what Jesus teaches us about each one.

1. Denial. Your first instinct is to refuse to believe this is happening to you. You were happy and things might not have been perfect, but you had faith and trusted they would get better. Now your world has shattered and you simply cannot believe what has happened and you feel like you could die. Let’s look at the word, ‘die’. Of course, you’re not going to die, (things aren’t that bad) but in effect, going through a breakup is the death of a relationship. What we need to focus on is what comes after. God has promised that death has no victory over us. This mainly applies to our physical death, but death is what it is.

1st Corinthians 15:54 is a good way to look at it:

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.

We don’t have to worry when someone or something in our lives dies. There is victory over it . The loss of something is the promise of something yet to come. Take time to grieve the loss and allow yourself a period of healing. Moving forward apart from what we’re used to is difficult, but God promises there is always life after death for those who believe in Him.

2. Anger. This is where a lot of people might want to stop reading. A lot of us want to be angry. We think it makes us feel better to get mad and allow ourselves this type of outlet. The reality is, there’s two types of anger: righteous anger and sinful anger. Anger itself is not a sin. It’s what we do with it that causes us to sin. This is an area of my life that I have struggled with deeply in the past. I would become angry and express it in ways that hurt people close to me, even myself. It never brought about a solution; it created more problems. How then, do we handle our emotions when they’re running on overdrive to the point of exploding? We follow Paul’s teaching in Ephesians.

Ephesians 4:31-32 teaches:

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

These are not easy things to do because we must first acknowledge them in our own hearts. We can’t choose to put away bitterness if we don’t see it first. “But I have every right to be bitter!” you say. Take a step back and look at what it is that is causing your bitterness. Is it justified? If so, then take it to God first. Maybe it’s not justified and you’re just feeling angry because you don’t know all the facts. Lay it all at His feet and let God guide you. You may have every right to be angry, but God also tells us to get there slowly.

James 1:19-20

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

God wants us to move slowly when it regards our emotions, especially with anger. Our emotions can take off and run on their own as we try to catch up to understand what’s going on. Chances are, we probably don’t understand what’s happening fully

Proverbs 3:5-6 hits it home for us:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight…

Okay, so what do we do when we’ve gotten there slowly? There is no definitive answer to this because every situation is handled differently, but if we are aligned with Christ and what His Word says, we will already be at a place in our hearts where we are no longer a slave to our anger. It’s at that place where we will be right in the sight of God and it will be easier to forgive.

Remember what I said before, you’re going through a rough time and you’re probably not alone. Pray for yourself, but also offer up anyone else involved in prayer that you may be reconciled to them. God calls for reconciliation, and that doesn’t always mean what we want it to in terms of relationships. Reconciliation can simply mean to have peace.

Hebrews 12:14

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

3. Bargaining. “Okay, God. Listen, maybe I’ve got this all wrong. Maybe if I just pray differently things will get better. Maybe if I stop doing this or start doing that, everything will work out.” Sound familiar? It’s our go-to play in our little book of tricks we keep in our mind’s back pocket that comes out when the chips are down. The thing is, you can’t bargain with God. We tend to think that we can influence God and sway His will. Not going to happen, my friend. It’s as simple as that. If we had the ability to bargain with God, then what we’re truly saying is we think we know better than God. We don’t.

Psalm 139:2-4

You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely.

It doesn’t matter what we say to God to try and get our way, He already knows what you’re going to say before you think it. God knows we’re still going to try, but He wants us to do is come to Him with a different approach. Instead of bargaining for what we want, tell Him how you feel and pray. Prayer isn’t a bargaining tool, it’s our open line of communication with God. If we’re so down that we don’t know where to even begin, ask for the Holy Spirit to intercede.

Romans 8:26

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.

God knows what our hearts want because He gave us those desires, and they are not fully revealed to us except through prayer. Rather than trying to find a quick fix, take joy in what God is allowing you to go through, thank Him for you what you have and…

Psalm 37:4

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

4. Depression. This is something that many people experience every day, and I firmly believe that it is caused by a supernatural attack on our spirit from Satan. Satan doesn’t want us to be happy. Misery loves company, and trust me, Satan’s miserable. He knows his ultimate demise and he wants to take as many people down with him as possible.

Sadness comes on when we feel that we’ve lost all hope. It can cause people to fall into very deep and dark holes in their lives where nothing else matters. It can cause us to have feelings of complete self worthlessness even up to the point of wanting to end life itself. It is a delicate topic to handle, because when we see people who are depressed our first reaction is to try to cheer them up. Sometimes the best thing we can do is just be there for them to listen and to offer support. We don’t have the ability to fix them, and sadly, neither do they. Ultimately, God has to intervene and bring healing.

Hopefully you’ll never have to experience those levels of depression, but if you are feeling down in any way, it’s a good place to start by remembering that God is our joy and our hope. In the bible, David dealt greatly with depression. There are many scriptures in the book of Psalms that are open cries out to the Lord, Psalm 23 perhaps being the most well known:

Psalm 23:

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

There are many promises of hope in this passage. First, David acknowledges that he lacks nothing, God has given him all he needs. He promises peace, or a time of quietness. The thoughts a person can have during depression can often be very loud and overwhelming. God goes on to promise a time of refreshing, or renewal. He makes things new! He promises guidance even in the darkest of times. David acknowledges that he will not be afraid because God is his comfort. God also promises a proper place to rest at during our hardship. Depression can leave us feeling like we don’t belong anywhere. God says we do, and He has given us that place! God promises good things, so much that they will overflow. There is hope through Jesus because what He has promised us He will give to us. It’s difficult, seemingly impossible to do at times, but we must not listen to the lie that there is no hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

5. Acceptance. If we’ve come this far through the last four steps and have applied the teachings of Jesus in our lives to them, then acceptance should come pretty naturally at this point. That’s not to say that we will have just forgotten everything that we’ve gone through, rather, it should be looked at as an experience that God as allowed us to go through that has brought us closer to Him.

God prepares our hearts for the things He has in store for us. Our life is like one big classroom with many subjects being taught simultaneously. We may graduate from one thing only to find that we’re several grades behind in others. Count everything you go through as a blessing. There is nothing that God allows to happen in our lives to ultimately cause us to be unhappy or wanting for more.

Acceptance is nothing more than having trust in Jesus that our lives are in His hands.

Hebrews 13:5

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

We may feel that all is lost, but we are not forgotten.




Failure Is Not An Option

The apocryphal expression “Failure is not an option” that is accredited to NASA’s mission control director Gene Kranz in the 1995 Ron Howard film Apollo 13 is a powerful testament of the determination everyone involved had during the week-long crisis that astronauts Jim Lovell, Fred Haise, and Jack Swigert endured on their failed mission to the Moon. The odds were grim and the world waited patiently in hopes that they would safely return to Earth.

Our lives are much like that of Apollo 13. We all have goals in mind that we want to reach. For some they are small, while others shoot for the Moon. No matter the goal in sight, we strive to work toward seeing them fulfilled. There are things, though, that can happen along the way that can alter our ‘flight plan’. When they happen we feel defeated and often times we just want to give up and believe that we have failed. When the Service Module of Apollo 13 was damaged, the crew felt the sudden defeat of having lost the Moon, but that didn’t stop them from addressing the problem at hand – getting back home. How do we respond when we feel that we’ve lost something? A deeper question might be, what was it that caused us to get off course?

As a Christian, our main goal is to enter into a personal relationship with Jesus so that we may know Him and live our lives accordingly through his Word. When you’re in a relationship with someone who you love, the last thing you want to do is do wrong by them. Being a Christian doesn’t mean that you will stop doing the wrong thing. We still have the ability to sin and will continue to no matter how hard we try not to. And sometimes we’re going to sin and it will be a very conscious choice. What happens after we sin? If we’re aligned with Christ in our hearts, the first thing we’re going to feel is guilt, so then we ask for forgiveness and repent.

Acts 3:19 says:

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,”

This is where Satan likes to comes in and attack us with one of the biggest lies he’s ever told, and that is that we’re not worthy. Satan likes to try to keep us in a position of feeling like a failure in our relationship with Christ. He lays some pretty big guilt trips on us, and too often we listen to him, and it keeps us off course and prevents us from getting back home where we belong. That’s a dangerous place to be because it keeps us from having what God wants for our lives.

So, what do we do? Do we see ourselves has failures having lost our goal? Do we get down on ourselves for what we’ve done to sin against Christ and believe the lie that we’ve messed up too many times for God to even care about us anymore? Do we consider ourselves to be a failure? With Christ, failure is not an option. It never has been and it never will be.

Genesis 3:15 says:

“And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.”

Adam and Eve were on a path that followed God. That course was altered severely causing them to lose paradise. The Moon was lost for Apollo 13 after something damaged their course, but just like the people at mission control that created a plan to bring them home, God the Father had a plan to save His creation and bring us back home to Him.

When we sin, it’s true that the consequence of our actions may alter our course, even perhaps causing us to miss out on certain things completely, but we’re never going to miss out on Jesus. Our sins are washed clean and God chooses to forget them. He does this through our acceptance of salvation. Some people believe that sin is in the world because God is punishing us. First off, God doesn’t use sin as a form of punishment. Sin itself is not a punishment, it is a consequence of a willful action that rejected God. God created a perfect world in which he placed people. Mankind chose to reject God, and by doing so people are responsible for their fall. That’s the consequence. The punishment for that is death.

Romans 6:23 reads:

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

When Christ rose from the dead he took with him the keys to death and it no longer has a hold over us. Death has no power where there is Christ, and neither does sin.

If we feel guilty because of sin count that has a good thing. It means that we’re aware of our actions and not living with reckless abandon. If we find ourselves off course that doesn’t mean we’ve lost. Jesus is our new flight plan. We have to be determined to keep our hearts fixed on Christ. Remember, our relationship with him is our main goal in life, and once we’ve entered into that, nothing is too great to ever damage us to the point of not being able to return to Him.