Spirit food: Eat this; not that

 

Proverbs 27:7
A person who is full refuses honey, 
but even bitter food tastes sweet to the hungry.

Did you ever look at a friend who wasn’t being treated well in a relationship – and knew it – and wonder why that friend kept taking the kind of treatment she was receiving? Maybe her boyfriend was a cheater. Maybe he was cruel in some way. Maybe he ignored her. Whatever the hurtful behavior…it was bad; and, she stayed in it. You just couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t break it off and move on.

How about a friend who had some sort of life-damaging issue, addiction or behavior? An eating disorder, promiscuity, hoarding, self-harm, drug use, isolation?

I remember seeing a news clip probably 20+ years ago when Robert Downey, Jr. was being sentenced AGAIN for drug issues. This brilliant, talented, valuable man said the most heart-breaking, tortured thing. “It’s like I have a gun in my mouth and my finger’s on the trigger and I like the taste of metal.”

We’ve all done the same in one way or another. Because of some need or deficit. – some hunger in our lives, we learned to eat the bitter until it tasted normal or sweet to us. The danger is two-fold. We establish an appetite for the bitter and unfullfilling. And because it cannot satisfy, our appetite for it increases and we eat more and more while remaining forever hungry in that area.

I will occasionally see articles on the internet aimed at helping us make better food choices. They’re called, “Eat This, Not That.” The premise of the articles and website is to do “swaps.” Instead of “that” choice at the grocery store, restaurant, salad bar, etc., choose “this” better thing that will be good for you and taste wonderful.

Maybe we’re eating self-pity, loneliness, judgmental and critical thoughts and conversations, feelings of inferiority and unworthiness, offense and hurt, envy, jealousy, strife and arguing, shame and guilt, resentment, condemnation…the list goes on. Let’s get our fingers off the trigger and the metal out of our mouths. We need to belly-up-to-the-bar and have a heaping helping of the crazy sweet love of God. We need to get so full of “this” we cannot imagine eating another bite of “that.”

Here are some tasty morsels to chew on:

*Your love, Lord, is priceless and unfailing and isn’t withheld from anyone (Psalm 36:7)
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I am the temple of God and I meditate on His unfailing love (2 Corinthians 6:16, Psalm 48:9)
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His love for me reaches from earth to the heavens and His faithfulness to the skies (Psalm 36:5)
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I flourish in God and trust in His unfailing love forever and ever (Psalm 52:8)

*You, Lord, are compassionate and gracious, not angry with me and Your love and faithfulness for me is HUGE! (Psalm 86:15, Isaiah 43:25, Hebrews 8:12, Hebrews 10:17)

*Nothing can stop Your love for me. (Romans 8:35-39)

*Your love for me will never end. (Psalm 136:26)
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You love me and You are delighted with me. (Zephaniah 3:17)

*Knowing You love me so much brings peace and quiet inside me (Zephaniah 3:17)
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You love me so much, You sing over me – with joy and celebration (Zephaniah 3:17)
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You are with me and because You love me, You bring your strength and power to save me. (Zephaniah 3:17)
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Your great loving-kindness compels me into closeness and intimacy with you. (Jeremiah 31:3)

*You don’t love me because of anything I’ve done to earn or deserve it – You love me just because You love me. Just because You are Love. (Titus 3:4-5)

*Because You love me, Father, You sent Jesus for me. Through Him, who I am is completely different than who I was or could ever be without Him. (John 3:16, 2 Corinthians 5:17)

Feeling a little spiritually and emotionally hungry? Starting to reach for a bitter bite? Reach for “this” and not “that” as quickly as you realize what is happening. Make the “swap.” Taste and see that the Lord is good! (Psalm 34:8) Purpose to change your spiritual and emotional appetite and it will change every aspect of your life. It really will. He promised. We have His Word on it! Take a big bite out of His love!

God is good and He adores us!

This too shall pass – It’s temporary

 

 

There is a truth that has carried me through some pretty tough times and continues to do so.

THIS IS TEMPORARY.

No matter what it is, it will most likely be over soon. If not soon, it probably won’t be too long in the scheme of things. If it takes longer, it is still unlikely to be this bad forever. If it is irreversible in this life, it will be corrected and perfected at the end of this life. No matter what…this is temporary. And, it WILL give way to better things.

Underlying this truth is a bigger truth. We are not alone. God Himself has given us His Spirit, His grace, His peace, His power. He has also given us each other. This is temporary and you have guidance, help and support. Pause. Breathe that in. Let it comfort you and bring you peace and strength. God is good and He adores you.

 

God is working it out for your good

 

 

God is always working the circumstances of our lives for our good. Even when those circumstances can’t be called good. He brings beauty for ashes, joy for mourning, praise to displace despair (Isaiah 61).

Got ashes? Me, too. Some mourning? Yes. Opportunity for despair? All of us do. God’s got an exchange for us. Beauty. Joy. Praise. Even when there are still ash smudges on our cheeks and hands. He’s bringing it. Take hold of it. It’s already yours.

God is good and He adores us.

When things aren’t like we want them to be…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Habakkuk 3:17-18

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!

Wow! That is quite the list!!

We may not be growing figs, grapes and olives or breeding and tending livestock, but most of us are working to grow, prosper, and increase in the ways that bring good things to life in our lives. We want to be able to have decent food, shelter, and clothing. To enjoy good relationships. To see strong results from our efforts. And we aren’t too happy when things aren’t working out like we want them to work out.

I’ve been thinking about joy. How it has NOTHING to do with circumstances. Being happy has to do with circumstances. Being joyful is an inside job. A choice. An action. A way of being.

I love how the writer declares that in all of this crisis, loss, and emptiness – in all that he sees around him, he WILL rejoice in the LORD. He WILL be joyful. Not about the circumstances. Not about the challenges. Not about the difficulties. Not about the disappointments. In spite of them. Smack dab in the middle of them. A quality decision. Purposed joy. Purposed focus on God. His goodness. His faithfulness.  [Read more…]

Sin is dirty business…

 

“You never know how good it feels to be really clean until you’ve been really dirty.”

This was said to me about taking a shower after doing some pretty dirty work. Hot, dirty, unpleasant work. It immediately struck me in my spirit.

Sin. The filth. The degradation, decay, and stench of it. I’ve been there. You, too.

In John 7, a woman of less-than-sterling reputation is lavishing love and gratitude on Jesus while He visits Simon (not Simon Peter), the Pharisee. Simon is disgusted that Jesus would be so kind to her given her reputation and past.

John 7:47 (NLT)
“I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown Me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.”
 
What I love about this whole passage is that Jesus isn’t saying that her sins were worse or bigger or more numerous than those of the Pharisee He was addressing. He was confronting the Simon’s perception that her sins and mistakes made her unworthy while Simon had no sense of his own issues. He thought that he needed little to no forgiveness. So often, we look at what others have done and think of ourselves as having needed less forgiveness. Or, having needed more forgiveness. The reality is that whether we have a Pharisee’s perception of ourselves as pretty clean or this dear woman’s awareness that our sins were many; we have all needed the finished work of the cross. Forgiveness and redemption. All sin is sin. We’re the ones who’ve categorized it into what is and isn’t as dirty. It’s all the same to God. It all required the cross.

The awareness of forgiveness. Not necessarily for things done naked or with a weapon. Murder. Adultery. Those, too. But equally for things that happen in our hearts, minds, and with our words. His forgiveness eradicates our wrongs. No matter what we’ve done. Gone.

The correlation between our awareness of His grace to our ability to love is clear.

1 John 4:19 (NLT)
We love each other because He loved us first.

Struggling with being judgey (judgmental), harsh, or critical? Struggling with what it really means to love the Lord? Especially with all of our hearts, souls, minds and strength (Easy to quote. Hard to understand. Impossible to do on our own.)? Struggling to be good to people who aren’t being good to you? Struggling with a spirit of competition or superiority? How about condemnation and shame?

Take it back to the most basic place. Focus on His love for us. His grace. His favor. His goodness. The absolute, unconditional love of the Father. The sacrificial love of Jesus. Redemption. Newness. Blessings. For us. For you. For me. The goodness and mercy of the Father.

We’ve all been forgiven much. When we revel in that grace…that love…that mercy…that goodness…we will love richly and freely and generously. We will live more consistently in the understanding and expression of the righteousness that He gave us as a gift. We will love much.

It is like living fresh out of the spiritual shower we all needed so desperately and Jesus so lovingly provided…

God is good. And, He adores us.

A New Kind of Christmas List

the everyday Christmas list

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Proverbs 21:14 (NLT)
A secret gift calms anger; a bribe under the table pacifies fury.

Proverbs 21:14 (MSG)
A quietly given gift soothes an irritable person;
 a heartfelt present cools a hot temper.

On the surface, this verse can so easily raise my resistance. A bribe? Really? REALLY????

Something to remember is the context and culture at the time it was written. Bribes were not necessarily bad. They were a normal part of conducting personal, business, and governmental affairs. And, it was ok.

But, the principle in the verse transcends that. There is practical wisdom and spiritual wisdom at work here.

Luke 6:27 tells us to do good to those who hate us. To love our enemies.

Mathew 5:9 equates being a peacemaker with being a son of God!

Romans 12:19 tells us to never avenge ourselves.

Romans 12:20-21 tells us to feed our enemy if he is hungry; to give him something to drink if he is thirsty. We are not to be overcome by evil, but to overcome evil with good.

1 Corinthians 13 is what we call the “Love Chapter.” Be patient and kind. Don’t keep any list or record of wrong done to us. Don’t be irritable or resentful.

Mathew 7:12 says that we should treat others the way we would like to be treated.

Proverbs 15:1 reminds us not to meet anger with anger – that a soft answer calms the anger aimed at us.

We heard a minister preach a sermon along these lines several years ago. He said that if someone is angry at you or even doing hurtful and very wrong things to you, “put that person on your Christmas list.” This message came during a particularly gruesome time where some very horrible things were happening in and around our business. Things that weren’t right. Not fair. Lies told. Nightmare situations emerging. Real loss.

My husband recently found a note pad of mine from around that time. There was a page titled “Christmas List.” Under that heading, there was a list names and things I could do for those people. Without them even knowing it. My husband didn’t remember the message and was truly confused by the list. I reminded him and we laughed about it. We can now.

But, I will tell you that making that list and purposing to do good to and for people who were seriously destructive was a BIG challenge. “Pray” was next to each name. “Do not speak anything against him/her” also made the list. Several times. We gave a couple of gift cards for restaurants. To people bent on hurting us. I did some gentle and kind things anonymously. Not because it changed THEM. Not even because it changed the situation and issues. But, because it allowed something sweet and peaceful to begin working in me. In us.
 
It was pretty impossible to let the poison of bitterness, anger, hurt, vengeance, and hate swirl around inside me when I was thinking of ways to do good and to have compassion. I would love to tell you that situation was the last one where I’ve had that opportunity. It wasn’t. But, the principle works. Every time. It does a few of things…

#1 – It changes my thought patterns and focus. Instead of lasering in on what has or is being done wrong to me and me as a victim; it is actually empowering and quite freeing to switch to a different role.

#2 – It changes my ability to extricate myself from the emotional turmoil. I am able to open myself up to the healing,  direction, and wisdom of God in how to best navigate the circumstances and situation. When I am pulled inward by the pain, anger, indignation, shock, etc., it is very, very difficult to get above the emotions and operate in my spirit person and hear from God and see His plan and path to take me out of this and into a place of wholeness and restoration.

#3 – It changes the spiritual results and possibilities. It opens up fresh environment and willingness in me for the Holy Spirit to bring peace and newness. To move on and move up and not get stuck emotionally or spiritually.

Sometimes, it isn’t someone doing evil or bad things to us; it is just conflict or misunderstanding. And, (I know this is shocking!) we are usually quite sure that we are right and the other person is wrong. At the very least, they are wrong in their response and reaction. Making them wrong even if we were originally wrong. Right?

The great wisdom here is that it doesn’t matter. I was right? Ok. I wasn’t right? Ok, too. Oh. Well. The answer is the same. Gently, kindly, humbly…do something nice and generous and good. Quietly. Secretly. Not as a show for everyone else. Not as a show for them. Just to and for the person who is angry.

It can SO go against our grain. Hit our pride. Feel wrong. Seem counter-intuitive or even manipulative. We don’t want that person to think that we think they are right. We don’t want to be weak. We don’t want to be the first one to back down. We may not even be sure we want to continue any kind of relationship with them again. Ever.

Not the point.

[Read more…]

Be good to everyone????

be kinder to everyone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Proverbs 17:13 (NLT)
If you repay good with evil, 
evil will never leave your house.

Most of us probably read this and cannot imagine it pertaining to us. We would never do something bad to someone who has been good to us! But, how many of us have experienced betrayal from someone that we invested ourselves into? A heartbreaking rift with the person we shared the most with? A total lack of appreciation from someone that we helped significantly?

There isn’t anyone that’s reached puberty that hasn’t felt that they’ve done good to someone who returned evil to them. Which means that there are probably a few people out there for every one of us that believe we are that person who did it to them. From their perspective, it is the absolute truth. Just like our stack of betrayal stories and bad turns from others is our truth.

I call those “ain’t it awful” stories. There are lots of categories of “ain’t it awful,” but one that EVERYONE has in common is being hurt or used by other people. Many of those stories are genuinely as awful as we remember them and were traumatic. Some were painful, but have become quite enlarged in our existence by the way we replay them in our thoughts and conversations. Others may have actually just sprung from heated misunderstandings that happened to coincide with a heap of other stressful things happening in one or both people’s day or season.

In the events where someone was hurt or offended by something we did or they thought we did, we know all of the context and influencing issues that resulted in our mis-perceived actions and what happened. It feels like it got blown out of proportion or misunderstood. It certainly doesn’t seem to us to have merited the brokenness that resulted. Sometimes, we know that we just blew it and did something that resulted in someone else’s pain. A purposed choice or a mistake. Painful fallout.

Very often, those are the very same thoughts and the rationale of the person we believe did evil in return for our good to them. We each think we are the victim and the other is the villain.

Not one of us doesn’t sit on BOTH sides of this. Not one of us. [Read more…]

He Restores My Soul

He restores my soul

After the storm…

Rose after storms

 

 

 

 

 

This is from my rose garden yesterday. The beauty of creation still amazes me. Every day. This rose – and all the roses in the garden – have gone through some pretty serious storms the last few weeks. Strong winds. Hard, pounding rains. Falling branches. Some didn’t survive. Some did; but with serious damage. But, I am amazed at how many withstood the storms and are stunning in their resilience and beauty. My prayer is that I stand strong in the storms and that I allow God to reveal Himself and to restore and bring beauty. That’s just Who He is.

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