Beautiful, Courageous You


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Win the Battle against Negative thoughts

new thinking

The biblical term for thoughts which are negative is referred to as a stronghold, an area in which we are held in bondage (in prison) due to a certain way of thinking . For example a daily negative thought pattern for me, when suffering depression, would run like this: “life is not worth living, I am worthless and I will never be happy again”. This train of thought would play over and over in my mind keeping me oppressed, depressed and in bondage, a prisoner held captive by my thoughts.

You may be experiencing this battle with a negative thought life right at this moment, maybe you have strongholds in your mind, scripts you have been playing for years and you’re not even sure how they got there. Let me encourage you, God is on your side He will not forsake you.

There is a war going on and your mind is the battlefield but here’s the thing, as Satan attempts to build strongholds in your mind rest assured we have all the weapons we need to tear down the strongholds. Strongholds in the mind are, in essence, deceptive lies and false beliefs. The Bible has promised you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (John 8:32). I believe what Jesus was saying is that the truth (God’s word) is our primary weapon for tearing down strongholds. Consider it this way, the opposite to a lie is truth, therefore the more time you spend immersed in truth (reading the Bible, hearing Biblical teaching) the light of God is shed upon the darkness, the lies in your mind.

Without question the truth will dispel the darkness, that my friend, is the power of God’s word! Take a simple example of walking into a dark room, we switch the light on and the dark is gone instantly, light and dark cannot coexist and so it is with truth and a lie so go ahead ‘switch some lights on’ disempower Satan’s ability to influence your thoughts. X


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He Restores My Soul

He restores my soul

Before we can heal the soul we must first understand what is the soul? God has created us as a triune being, we are spirit which has a soul and lives in a body. In pursuit of healing the soul it is most important to understand the soul consists of the mind (which includes the conscience), the will and the emotions.

The soul and the spirit are mysteriously tied together and make up what the Scriptures call the “heart.”  The writer of Proverbs declares, Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.” (Prov. 4:23 NKJV). We see here that our “heart” is central to our will and emotions, * “ for out of it are the issues of life; of natural life: it is the seat of it, from whence all actions of life are derived; it is, as philosophers say, the first that lives, and the last that dies”.

 So in healing the soul we must watch with all diligence, guarding the heart from all that would cause the spring, the stream of life that proceeds from it, to be sealed up. Failure to guard the heart will leave our spirit and soul vulnerable to fear-based living, a heart where no life flows, a life personified as a ‘dead-man walking’ carrying a depressed heart.

Purpose in your heart to continue talking to God about how you are feeling, or simply praise Him for His promises, as you do this your soul will be renewed, or as my counsellor once put it ‘pray, God re-boot me to the manufacturers original default settings’. Think about this, if all the thoughts you’ve had up until this point has not made you feel any better, have another thought. As you pursue God He will eclipse your fears, broaden your horizons, change your perspective and you will have another thought, a thought which comes from His heart and you will begin to see yourself and your circumstances as He does… through eyes of faith, hope and love. Rejoice in this truth – now there’s a thought!

 

* Source: http://gill.biblecommenter.com/proverbs/4.htm


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Believe with Unbelief

never stop believing

Faith and doubt are not opposite’s, in fact they’re often part of the same journey. When we wrestle with doubts, not just our own but those of our friends, family and strangers we eventually come to a position of stronger faith well able to provide answers to the sceptics and at the same time having a deeper understanding of those who doubt.

In his book ‘The Reason for God’, pastor and  author, Timothy Keller suggests we look at doubt in a radical new way, as such that we see doubt as normal and perhaps welcome our doubts as building block to a stronger foundation of faith: “A faith without some doubt is like a human body without any antibodies in it. People who blithely go through life too busy or indifferent to ask hard questions about why they believe as they do will find themselves defenceless against either the experience of a tragedy or the probing questions of a smart sceptic”.

Keller implores believers to look for reasons behind their faith, failing to do so, he writes: “A person’s faith can collapse almost overnight if she has failed over the years to listen patiently to her own doubts, which should only be discarded after long reflection”. Personally, my faith has been lukewarm for most of my adult life, up until I experienced the tragedy of losing my children, faith for me was something I had inherited, a set of beliefs that were passed on.

Amidst great pain and sorrow my faith did ‘collapse overnight’ I carried doubt and unbelief for at least two years and believed my doubts were an abomination to God. I was certain God would not heal me from depression so long as I was consumed with doubts about who He was and the promises in His word, doubt, I considered, was sin… isn’t it? Not according to Jesus.

Let me introduce you to my favourite disciple, Thomas, also known as ‘doubting Thomas’ his story resonates with many of us that have battled with reasoning, doubt and unbelief.

Now, Thomas, for whatever reason we do not know, was missing when Jesus first appeared, notice in the following verses the grace of Jesus as He was faithful to accommodate Thomas, even in his unbelief.

24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”” John 24 -27 NKJV

 In the end it was his doubt, his desire to know Jesus for himself, was what brought Thomas to his faith.

So we see here faith and doubt are not opposites, it is possible to have faith with doubt, to believe with unbelief. Faith and indifference are more opposite than faith and doubt. Doubt is often a key part of the journey of faith. It’s a detour, if you will, along the path of faith. I assure you when you find yourself taking a ‘doubt detour’you’re certainly not alone and most importantly you must know and believe it’s not an indication of you being a bad Christian or a disbeliever. God will bless and honour the very little faith you do have no matter how weak or how small.


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Wrestling a Greased Pig!

faith

Most of us find difficulty in believing our prayers or more so even just making time for prayer. Life is busy, we hurry through our prayers (when we remember to pray), our minds drift to thoughts of what’s for dinner etc. our focus is scattered and everywhere but on God.

Prayer is simply conversation with God, no set time or location and minimal effort required and yet so many believers  struggle  with taking time to talk with God.

Max Lucado expressed our struggle with prayer as: “… you’d think we were wrestling a greased pig”. Prayer is an effective and powerful tool and the enemy knows this, he pulls all stocks in an effort to hinder your commitment to prayer.  Our adversary knows what happens when we pray, “We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:4 MSG)

Lucado writes: “…Satan seeks to interrupt our prayers. Our battle with prayer is not entirely our fault. The devil knows the stories; he witnessed the angel in Peter’s cell …” be encouraged to pick up your ‘God-tools’ and watch as the enemy cowers, Lucado continues “Satan is not troubled when Max writes books or prepares sermons, but his knobbly knees tremble when Max prays. Satan does not stutter or stumble when you walk through church doors or attend committee meetings.

Demons aren’t flustered when you read this book. But the walls of hell shake when one person with an honest heart and faithful confession says, “Oh, God how great thou art.” Satan keeps you and me from prayer. He tries to position himself between us and God. But he scampers like a spooked dog when we move forward. So let’s do”.

When you pray… be rest assured God already knows what you need. He has a divine purpose for every situation you face, so instead of crying out save me or bless me, may I encourage you to move beyond fear-based praying, disarm your self-interests and enter into a prayer life based on love, for His love will never fail you. Love-based prayers assert trust in a Heavenly Father that is Sovereign and always has your best interest at the centre of His heart…now you go, wrestle those greased pigs! x


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Rise Up… Take Courage & Do It!

purpose

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God wants to heal you from depression, anxiety, shame, addiction and whatever else holds you captive, He wants you to dream again, to dream big and fulfil the God-given purpose you were created for! As the New Year approaches may I urge you to establish a vision for your life that captures your heart and imagination, something so big that you become purpose-driven. For this to happen you must first confront your captors, those past hurts, habits, and unforgiveness must be dealt with before you can launch out into a new life of complete freedom and joy, ready to dream again, to truly live again!. Doing this requires courage, plenty of it! Author Bob Gass writes: “On the heels of every dream there’s a demon of doubt. No sooner is your dream conceived than your mind is suddenly filled with all the reasons why it may not work…” Your inner dialogue may go something like this:, receiving prayer ‘doesn’t really work’, going to a counselor ‘may be a waste of time’, I have been this way for so long now I doubt anything will ever change… this is ‘just the way I am’… “ and there will be folks around you who’ll be quick to confirm those fears. In spite of doubt and fear, you must forge ahead and dream; otherwise you’ll spend the rest of your life fulfilling the dreams of others”.  It is time to stand firm and declare you will not stay this way, break free from the shackles of fear, God has more for you than you have been settling for. ‘Rise up; this matter is in your hands… take courage and do it.” Ezra 10:4


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He’s Very Fond of Me

love for youIf you’ve ever tried to ‘just forget it’ move on, ‘let it go’,  you will know that it is very difficult to switch off from the pain associated to hurtful memories. For many years I tried to wipe away painful memories through a season of being bulimic, drinking too much alcohol, hypnotherapy, sessions with new age practitioners calling upon the Universe as if it was some magic genie that would wipe away the past!

All attempts I made to be complete and happy were futile until I came to the complete end of myself, I’d hit rock bottom and from there I found myself running back to the arms of Jesus.   In my quite times with Jesus, reading His Word and in prayer, I have learned of His affection for me, His perspective of me and His interpretation of who I am… when you take hold of a Heavenly perspective of yourself it changes everything!

You are His beloved, He delights in you and longs to see you set free;  “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32 (NKJV).

In these clear-cut words Jesus revealed that the key to freedom lies in knowing Him, knowing what His word says about you and your life. Our earthly reference to love cannot be compared to God’s love for us, the gospel of John defines what love is; “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us”.1 John 3:16 (NKJV).  Jesus is saying to you today, you are worth dying for, your worth is priceless, you are loved.  Earthly, human love is fickle, people are always falling in and falling out of love but the love of Jesus endures forever. Amazing, awesome… word’s fail to capture the profound expression of God’s love for us, the wonder for me is how would my life change, what sort of person would I be, if I could grasp, I mean truly believed the scripture testimony of God’s extravagant love for me?

Brennan Manning tells the story of an old Irish priest who, on a walking tour of a rural parish, sees an old peasant kneeling by the side of the road, praying. Impressed, the priest says to the man, “You must be very close to God.” The peasant looks up from his prayers, thinks a moment, and then smiles, “Yes, he’s very fond of me.”

My prayer for you is that you will allow God to take your past hurts, be healed of them so as you can really begin to live. In spite of what others say and think about you, may you gain a heavenly perspective of just how amazing and wonderfully loved you are… and yes, He is very fond of YOU x


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Deep cries out to Deep

            

Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; All Your waves and billows have gone over me Psalm 42:7

Psalm 42 tells of a deer that longs for a refreshing stream, verse 5-7 speaks of the sons of Korah struggling with depression as deep calls unto deep. I believe this is a cry from the deepest part of our soul, desperate for intimacy with God a cry that say’s i’m completely overwhelmed from the trials that have come across me . In the months ahead of Jaeya’s birth I would experience a place where, like the deer with nothing to quench her thirst, I was desperate to believe in God, I longed to experience His heart and all He is, to drink of the living water, to go deeper in Him. This longing came from the depths of my soul, completely cast down with nowhere else to go, the Lord said ‘go deeper’. In my experience, going deeper, desiring to know God more intimately brings your faith under trial as seen in the story of Job, he was tried and his latter end of life was more blessed than his beginning, his faith was deeper, fortified and proven. Perhaps you have cried out ‘Jesus I want to know you, are you real, do you hear my cries’? Don’t be surprised if He takes you aside into a furnace of fiery trials for a while. There is great purpose in our suffering, like a refiner of precious silver or gold, the heat is turned up as high as needed for the dross, the impurities of the metal, to float to the surface. To his delight, after he has skimmed the dross from the surface, the refiner can see his reflection and the precious metal is ‘proven to be real’. Jesus takes the impurities that surface in our ‘furnace of suffering’,  and although painful, the Great refiner knows what is necessary in order for His precious one to be all that she was created to be. Beyond the refining process  He smiles, for now she reflects His glory. Perfected through trial & suffering our Lord makes something precious, a someone beautiful… so precious and so beautiful that priceless is your worth!

“Are not my troubles intended to deepen my character and to robe me in graces I had little of before? I come to my glory through eclipses, tears, death. My ripest fruit grows against the roughest wall. Job’s afflictions left him with higher conceptions and lowlier thoughts of himself. “Now,” he cried “my eye seeth thee”. Streams in the Desert, Oct 4. Pg. 294


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The Truth Shall Set You Free

“God is real, I am healed!” was my response after reluctantly joining a prayer group for some ‘help’. I was overflowing with joy, how is it possible to move from a deep depression into being overcome with joy? This is not the result of positive thinking, it is impossible to change a negative thought pattern in the space of a few hours, but with God all things are possible.

Through the power of prayer, I had God’s Word, the Truth, spoken into my spirit and this was the beginning of my journey back from a deep depression. Truth is powerful, the Bible tells us that the Word of God is, “living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword” Hebrews 4:12. The Word is the greatest weapon of all, when you hear or read the word of God and you know the truth of who you are, when you stand firm, with true determination and resolve that you are more than a conqueror, that you are loved by God… this perseverance leads to breakthrough, without fail!

 Nick Vujicic, author of “Life Without Limbs”, understood this when he said: “in life if you don’t know the truth then you cannot be free, because then you will believe that the lies are the truth”.

So why did God move in such a powerful way to bring a miracle healing upon me? I believe He answers the cry of a desperate heart, we must thirst and long for God, surrender our lives to Him completely. For most of us, we only completely surrender once there are no other options. Like me, going to a prayer group was my final attempt to get well. Begin today to truly seek Him with your whole heart and expect Him to answer your cry for help, if you feel distant from God, I assure you He is not the one who has moved.

The story is told of a young student who went to his spiritual teacher and asked the question, “Master, how can I truly find God?” The teacher asked the student to accompany him to the river which ran by the village and invited him to go into the water. When they got to the middle of the stream, the teacher said, “Please immerse yourself in the water.” The student did as he was instructed, whereupon the teacher put his hands on the young man’s head and held him under the water. Presently the student began to struggle. The master held him under still. A moment passed and the student was thrashing and beating the water and air with his arms. Still, the master held him under the water. Finally, the student was released and shot up from the water, lungs aching and gasping for air. The teacher waited for a few moments and then said, “When you desire God as truly as you desired to breathe the air you just breathed — then you shall find God.”

 


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His Tender & Wise Purposes

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“What God can prevent in His power, He permits in His wisdom”– Arthur Burt

Childlike faith, it would seem, does not just happen for everyone. Like me, you may have many unanswered questions, why didn’t God prevent this from happening? Why hasn’t He changed this situation? , we reason. Sure enough I have questioned why my path has led me through pain and sorrow why should I have to suffer this way?.  After all, I have honoured and served God in all the ways I know possible so how come things worked out this way?. Did Jesus sit on His hands and let our baby boy’s death top the broken heart charts for Lee and I?

Many times people are perplexed that I choose to glorify God, they have questioned how can I still believe in God let alone trust in His goodness? When I was trusting in Him, He let me down?! Didn’t He?? I have grappled in my mind with these arguments for the past three years, ‘is God good? Does He love me? Why do bad things happen to good people?,  in fact why do bad things happen at all? Finally I grew tired of trying to figure it all out and made the choice to trust in the Word of God, my faith has been renewed and I have entered His rest. I still have painful memories and even present day sorrowful situations, but I am learning to transcend them by actively pursuing God in prayer and reading scriptures.

Proverbs 3:5-6 implores us to, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;6  In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths”. Day and night I have meditated on this truth. Trusting in the Lord means, rather than blaming Him for what happens, rather than doubting His love for us, we relax and rest assured believe that our Heavenly Father has our life in the palm of His hand.

Above all else, author Bob Gass writes: “when God doesn’t seem to meet your expectations, it’s not that He doesn’t care; it’s that He sees the big picture and He’s handling issues you can’t even begin to comprehend. So trust Him!”

 I believe God, in His wisdom, allows some things to happen where at the time it seems painful and senseless. The very experience which is so grievous and distressing may be to augment your power so as to be of use to others. He sees the big picture of our lives and knows, just like a loving father, what is needed to help us become exactly who we were created to be. I can honestly say you will ‘grow under the load’ as you continue to trust that your Father in Heaven has your best interest at heart as He walks you through the valleys of life and accompanies you to the glorious mountaintops.

Nelson Mandela said: “I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one finds many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended”.

Life is both good and bad, mountain top experiences are amazing, but, most of us spend our lives climbing in and out of the valleys. I am glad for my time spent in the valleys, I am glad for what God in His power did not prevent, for it has given me a depth of compassion and great empathy for the broken-hearted. In His wisdom Jesus takes our pain and makes it something beautiful, as the prophet Isaiah writes, the spirit of the Lord was upon him, “To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” … 61:3. Today I have beauty in my life, a joy which remains immovable and an attitude of praise that leaves the world perplexed. Many times people I meet are completely baffled that I would choose to praise God and glorify Him in every circumstance and not just circumstances I find acceptable.

As you read the following thoughts penned by H. W Smith, may you be encouraged to praise Him no matter the circumstance and begin to trust in His tender and wise purposes toward you;.

See God in everything, and God will calm and colour all that thou dost see!  It may be that the circumstances of our sorrows will not be removed,      their condition will remain unchanged; but if Christ as Lord and Master of our life, is brought into our grief and gloom, He will compass us about with songs of deliverance. To see HIM, and to be sure that His wisdom cannot err, His power cannot fail, His love can never change; to know that even His direst dealings with us are for our deepest spiritual gain, is to be able to say in the midst of bereavement, sorrow, pain, and loss,                                            “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”…


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A Gethsemane Moment

Not long before Jesus was to be arrested and later die on the cross, He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Luke 22:42.  This was His ‘Gethsemane moment’, deeply distressed, Jesus prayed three times for ‘this cup’ to pass Him by. “Nevertheless”, He prayed, in complete surrender to the will of His father in heaven. Jesus showed us that even those with the strongest of faith can feel weak and overwhelmed in a time of crisis. In our times of deepest sorrow, in the middle of a Gethsemane moment,  it’s hard to believe that all things will work out for good, in fact it’s hard to believe in much at all. Understand this, it’s okay to feel weak and afraid, one of the things we can learn from Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane is that He understands when we feel overwhelmed and frightened of what lies ahead, Jesus has been there.

The day of our 6 month pregnancy appointment is recorded in my mind as a Gethsemane moment, a moment when I was faced with imminent physical and emotional pain, exhausted from deep sorrow I fell to my knees and cried out ‘God take this from me’. I know we are called to trust Him but I prayed He would change things so as I didn’t have to trust Him. All I could think was ‘save me from this nightmare’. Author Wayne Jacobsen writes that in every situation we encounter, there are two options in prayer.; ““Father, save me,” or “Father, glorify your name!”” One will lead you to frustration and disillusionment, the other to the greatest wonders in God’s heart”.

What began as a day of trusting in a loving Heavenly Father would soon become a day wrought with frustration and disillusion. 9am was our scheduled appointment, as we drove to the clinic a strange impending grief washed over me, like a robe of sadness had been draped across my shoulders. Our obstetrician, George was always so warm and caring, he re-assured me that I was looking well, healthy and perhaps a little anxious given my past experience of loss. However ‘to put my mind at ease’, he offered ‘let’s have a look at bub shall we’?.

Today as I write, my eyes glass over with tears, tears I have not yet allowed to fall… grief is such a mysteriously long road.  I recall the moment both Lee and George anxiously gazed at the monitor, they could see what I had been feeling – no presence of life in my womb. With tears in his eyes, George turned to me and said ‘I am sorry’. Clear memories of what I felt in that moment fail me, the shock and terror of burying another baby gripped me with an iron fist around my throat. I found it hard to breath and hard to cry!.

Much happened between the labour, birth and saying goodbye to our baby. After a night in hospital, we packed our belongings and embarked on a long silent drive home, so empty, so disillusioned, physically and emotionally exhausted. My  4yo daughter was waiting outside, excited to see us, as we hugged I explained that she was a big sister to a baby boy and he was not well so God had taken him straight to Heaven. Tears in her eyes she said ‘that’s okay mummy we’ll see him in Heaven’. Oh to have the resilience and ‘matter of fact’ attitude of a child, so faithfully they cope with life’s hurdles. Her childlike faith and absolute trust in God made way for her healing to begin immediately, unlike myself and most ‘grown-ups’ we want the facts, question ‘why me?’, hurl accusations at God then journey through a maze of guilt, doubt, shame and unbelief until we come full circle back to where we began… at His feet and completely surrendered. The moment we choose to trust in a loving Father with faith of a child, not having all the answers but trusting in the One who does, that is the defining moment when we receive a peace that surpasses understanding, a peace which is beyond words. Perhaps that is why Jesus so loved the little children He took them in His arms and blessed them “… Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14.