A Little Sin Doesn’t Really Hurt Anyone

I’ve tried this online dating thing off and on for the last few years. Match, eHarmony, Christian Mingle, you name it.

Photo Credit: tamahaji via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: tamahaji via Compfight cc

Last year a 4-½-month relationship came out of it. But after three days of prayer and fasting, I knew without a doubt he was not the man God wanted me to be with. If he had his way, we would’ve been married on our third date.

But you see, he loved me more than Jesus, and as Sweet Brown says, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

Honestly, I don’t think it was me he loved. He loved the idea of being married. He loved the thought of calling someone his wife. Not that there’s anything wrong with desiring to be married, but when that wish trumps your desire to make your relationship with God a priority, then something doesn’t match up.

I’m writing over at Single Matters Magazine today. Join me as I discuss my online dating experience and give you some tips on what to watch out for. Oh.. and I’m currently accepting applications for a husband, but let’s at least play a round of mini golf first. Tune in here… 

Three Ways to Help People Pleasers

This is a guest post by my new friend, Wyatt Fisher, Psy. D. Fisher is a Christian Psychologist and the founder of Christiancrush.com. Find him on Google Plus.

Understanding relational styles can be essential to having successful dates, friendships, and even family reunions.

Photo Credit: LyndaSanchez via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: LyndaSanchez via Compfight cc

One very common relational style is called “other-orientation”.  It’s a nice 50-cent word that means you’re a people pleaser to the core. Other-oriented people are known for being compassionate and agreeable, but these qualities also make them vulnerable.

In an article from Psychology Today, Henriques stated, “It is crucial to note that compassion, attraction and appreciation of the other are some of the most positive and hopeful aspects of being other-oriented.” Being other-oriented might make you more compassionate and agreeable, but it might also make you more likely to forget to take care of yourself.

In general, people who are highly other-oriented rely on the approval of others and avoid conflict. When they are put in a situation that might lead to conflict, they sometimes are told to just be more assertive. Unfortunately for other-oriented people, it’s not as simple as flipping the switch between people-pleasing and demanding what they want. Think of it as a “Don’t Rock the Boat” approach to life – it affects every relationship. Too much other-orientation may lead to extreme dependency. Submitting isn’t always a bad thing, but there are some who are so other-oriented that they’ll submit as the slightest provocation.

If you are other-oriented, don’t feel bad about sympathizing with your friends or wanting to make your date feel more comfortable.  Being kind and agreeable is completely natural for you.  Just be careful of caring too much about others and not enough about yourself. Friends and family are important people, but you could spend your entire life holding back your own feelings and desires simply to avoid conflicting views.  Those who are not 100% other-oriented should keep an eye out for their people-pleasing friends.

If you see someone who too often seeks the approval of others, help them out and remind them that they are just as important as the next person. Here are a few ways we can all help one another:

1) Be Compassionate

Compassion makes the world a better place, but compassion in the name of human approval is dangerous. Try striking a balance between loving others while also loving yourself. If you aren’t other-oriented, take care of those who are by being aware of their tendencies and refusing to manipulate them.

2) Don’t fear others

Receiving disapproval can be debilitating.  Read through John 12:37-43 and you’ll see an example of people who didn’t stand up for themselves because they were worried about the human consequences. That final verse packs an impressive punch: “For they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.” These men didn’t follow their consciences or convictions about Jesus because they feared man more than God. We need to stop making fear of disapproval such an idol in our lives and start leading a more liberated life.

3) Be a Jesus Pleaser

Ultimately, we must become more preoccupied with pleasing Jesus than pleasing others. A recent message at Flatirons Church in Colorado emphasized the importance of following Him and obeying His Word at all costs. If we can turn our approval seeking, people pleasing tendency into seeking His approval instead, we’ll be all set. Talk about a transformational redirect! The next time you feel the urge to look towards your peers for your value, beauty, and identity; remember to look up to God instead. By doing so, you’ll be taking your vulnerable tendency of defining yourself through others and rewiring it by illuminating your true self through the One who designed you.

What’s helped you stop being a people pleaser? Share with us in the comments below… 

Eat Your Wheaties

I’m taking a sabbatical from blogging for the next few weeks. While I’m gone, I’ve asked some of my favorite bloggers to stand in for me. This is a guest post by Joyce Glass. is a writer, speaker, and lover of God’s word even more than chocolate! Her desire is to encourage you to walk closer to God. Follow Joyce on Twitter (@joyce_glass).

Are you hungry?  When is the last time you missed a meal?  I miss very few!  I may delay them, but I do not miss them.  I love to eat, and my body does not like it when I do not eat!

Photo Credit: Chapendra via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Chapendra via Compfight cc

Depending upon your age, you may remember the old commercial from the 80’s “Eat Your Wheaties” in the morning. Wheaties always had some super athlete on the box, and they wanted you to remember to start you day fueling your body.

As we begin a new year, many people make goals and plans to exercise and eat better to lose weight.  We make plans for our business and finances.

The best plan we need to make is feeding our spiritual body. 

When we feed our Spiritual body, we are better equipped to plan and keep our goals.

Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry,

but those who seek in The Lord will lack no good thing.

~ Psalm 34:10 ~

Are you spiritually hungry for God?  Do you look forward to studying God’s word, praying, and seeing where God wants to take you?

We have spiritual hunger signs like we have food hunger signs.

Spiritual Hunger Signs:

Cranky or Irritable
Stressed
Focused on what is wrong today
Angry
Fearful
Doubting the situation will ever change

We all have bad days, and life just goes awry.  However, if our time with God is sporadic, then we are not getting the spiritual nutrition our body craves and needs.  If we are spiritually undernourished, our perspective on life is skewed, and we do not have the physical and spiritual energy to handle life situations.

As we feed our spiritual life, we can “Taste and see The Lord is good . . .” (Psalm 34:8). When we feed on God’s word we “lack no good thing” (Psalm 34:10). When painful times come our way “His ears are attentive [to our] cry … He delivers them from all their troubles” (Psalm 34:17).  May favorite verse in Psalm 34 is “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and save those who are crushed in Spirit” (Psalm 34:18).

Is your heart broken over your hurting marriage or a desire to be married, a wayward child, physical ailments, or financial struggles?

Our Loving God cares even when our hearts are broken.  He cares about every little detail in our lives.

Read Psalm 34.  As you feed on God’s word, open your heart to listen to His voice today.  He has great news for you.  You are His beloved child.

You and I need God to  daily nourish our hearts and minds.  This post is adapted from iNeed God ~ daily downloads for your heart due to release in February 2014.

You can learn more at  http://iNeedGodbook.com/More.  I am excited to share that every iNeed God Bible Study is going to support Esther’s House of Redemption, and you will be able to donate a Bible Study to an Esther’s House student.  More details will be available on the website www.iNeedGodBook.com. I hope you will join me in supporting Sundi Jo’s ministry.  She has a big heart to help hurting women, and I am thrilled to support her!

I hope you will join me in supporting Sundi Jo’s ministry.  She has a big heart to help hurting women, and I am thrilled to support her!

Guilt, Shame, and Grace (And Your Chance to Win)

Excerpted from Pure Emotion by Susan Lawrence, who is a Women’s Ministry Consultant, speaker, and author of multiple Bible studies. She blogs at PurePurpose.org, and you can connect with her (through her blog) on Facebook and Twitter. Join the journey! We’re giving away two copies of the Pure Emotion Bible study at the end of this post.

There is freedom from guilt and shame—freedom in God to uncover our faces and not be ashamed but show God’s glory. Freedom in vulnerability. Freedom to become like him. Freedom in him.

Photo Credit: Frederic Poirot via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Frederic Poirot via Compfight cc

But when a person changes and follows the Lord, that covering is taken away. The Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. Our faces, then, are not covered. We all show the Lord’s glory, and we are being changed to be like him. This change in us brings ever greater glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:16-18)

We need to know the difference between godly and ungodly guilt. Let’s not assume all guilt is bad or all guilt is healthy. Cling to what’s true. Guilt is the emotion that indicates you’ve done something wrong. Godly guilt is the real conviction that you’re in disobedience to God’s will. Godly guilt is true guilt.

On the other hand, we can experience guilt when there hasn’t actually been an offense or wrongdoing.

This is false guilt, and it is not godly. “If only…” “I wish I had…” “I should have…” sparks burdensome guilt. You might justify there was offense or wrongdoing because if you had done one thing differently, the situation would have changed. If you had just taken time to talk. If you hadn’t been mad. If you’d done it yourself. The list is endless. Yes, your choices have consequences, but God is big and powerful, and you do not have the power you think you do if you believe you caused something to happen when there was actually no offense or wrongdoing involved. See it through God’s eyes, not your own. He has a better view.

We also experience false guilt in “little things.” We forgot to call someone. We didn’t go to the family reunion. We missed an important day at work because of a sick child. We missed staying home with a child because we had an important meeting at work. Pick a situation—any situation—and you can feel guilty about it.

When you experience guilt, ask, “Is there an offense or wrongdoing God is convicting you of?” Your guilt, in the context of his correction, is real and should motivate you to change, reconcile, or whatever “next step” he guides you through toward reconciliation and growth. But if there’s no offense or wrongdoing except the ones you’re creating, you might be experiencing false guilt, and it’s time to label it for what it is and move on.

And then there’s shame, which is a deep sense of dishonor, disappointment, or condemnation.

When shame comes from God, it always involves something we’ve done that is contrary to his will and separates us from God. It’s deep, heavy and sorrowful. And it always drives us back toward God. Godly shame will never get us stuck. In fact, it can only do the opposite. It un-sticks us.

Ungodly, or false, shame is self-driven. We imagined we’ve done something dishonoring, disappointing or condemning. In relation to God, we presume his reaction to us without asking him for his reaction. We’re so disappointed in ourselves that we imagine we’ve dishonored him. Perhaps we’ve disappointed him, but we need to allow God to shame what we’ve done, not shame ourselves before we’ve lifted our faces to God to receive his reaction. While true shame focuses on something we’ve done, false shame focuses on who we are. Instead of our choice, action, or attitude being condemned, we think we’re condemned. We feel worthless, useless, and unloved. Those feelings don’t come from God. Satan loves when you get tangled up in a mess of guilt and shame. When you’re tangled in false guilt and shame, you can’t completely focus on God, and guilt and shame easily multiply.

Godly guilt and shame are always temporary, never chronic. Godly guilt and shame are productive, not destructive. Godly guilt and shame draw you closer to God, not distance you. When we regularly live with false guilt and shame, it affects our dignity and our hope. It’s corrodes our joy.

We don’t need to stay in a place of guilt and shame.

God gives us grace. We can receive God’s grace even when we don’t deserve it. We still sweat it out, because we have to sacrifice ourselves in order to place ourselves in God’s hands and receive his grace. We have to let go of our god of self-sufficiency to grab onto the God of all sufficiency.

Shame invites us into grace.

Let’s accept the invitation!

 Susan has graciously offered to give away two copies of her new, Pure Emotion Bible study. Enter below for your chance to win. Each entry gives you extra points. Enter everyday from now through Monday for your chance to win!

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Conquering My Fear of Men

Men. I’m 29 years old and sometimes the word still triggers me. In a moment, pain will stir in my heart and I’m reminded I still have healing to do.

I know all men are not created equal, but most of my life was spent believing that.

Photo Credit: SonOfJordan via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: SonOfJordan via Compfight cc

 

The first sexual contact I experienced was at the age of four, by a man. Then another. Then another.

I was convinced that the one man I desperately wanted to love me, my own father, chose alcohol over me.

He beat my mother. He beat my step-mother. I learned to mix his first drink at six years old. His friends, all men, were the same. They always smelled of whiskey or beer and I’m sure they only owned one shirt.

Not only was I struggling with my own view of men from an early age, but my mother was doing the same. Through her own disdain and fear of men, she was teaching me that men were evil. So far she had proved her theory to be true, so it was easy to believe.

I lost my virginity at a young age, assuming it was the thing to do. Isn’t that what so many of us believe?

Today I’m guest posting for my friend Jennifer over at Prayerfully Speaking. 

Click here to read the rest of the post. 

Standing in the Middle of the Street

This is a guest post by Alene Snodgrass. Alene loves to tell the story, whether it is from behind a camera lens, writing at a computer screen, or speaking into the lives of others. With a heart for this generation, Alene serves in the inner city. Her new book, Graffiti: scribbles from different sides of the street is co-authored with a homeless man. Connect with Alene through twitter @alenesnodgrassfacebook, or her blog Positively Alene.

Recently, I piled into a car with a few friends to travel a few miles down the city strip to give sandwiches and cool water to the homeless congregated downtown under the shade trees. The streets were quiet. There wasn’t a soul stirring.

Standing in the Middle of the Street

Finding a spot to park, we unloaded a cooler full of water and set up a little folding table to put the bagged lunches on.  A few men walked by and we’d wave them over “Are you hungry?” An “Oh, yes,” seemed to be the usual response. We visited, prayed, and asked if they needed anything. There was a sweet aroma of love in the air.

I found myself feeling at home on this side of the street.

The heart stories amazed me continually. As I handed out lunch, I found myself in conversation with a dear woman, and as our conversation ended, she turned to leave. I was captivated by her heart and quickly called after her, “Ma’am – can I pray with you?”

With the most precious toothless grin, her blue eyes looked into mine and she said,

“Yes, but I want to pray. Is it alright, because I only know one prayer?”

I nodded. We bowed our heads and she began “Our Father  . . . “

Tears flowed freely down my cheeks as my heart connected with hers. It was as if the graffiti of our souls was becoming blurred and smudged. All of a sudden, the bold outlines of the art of our lives didn’t matter. Even the street where we stood was common ground.

. . . “who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are Yours now and for ever. Amen.”

Maybe there is something to standing in the middle of the street.

It’s them that you realize that there’s more common ground there than on the sides of the street. This is the beautiful graffiti of the heart, of which life is made, if we can only open our eyes and see.  To see not the bold outlines and colors that make us different, but to see the heart graffiti that makes us the same.

I’m so appreciate to my homeless friend, who lives down the street and under a mesquite tree, for his beautiful scribbles of graffiti! He taught me to be brave and step across the street, to see that although our streets are different our hearts are the same, and he taught me to be bold and write God’s graffiti out for all to see.

Writing Graffiti along side a homeless man had it’s challenges. But I tell you, I wouldn’t trade that journey for anything. I learned to step over fear and love a messy world.

StudyandDo210As Graffiti released I got many comments and questions asking for “how to’s” and steps others could take to experience heart graffiti. So, beginning June 3rd we will begin Graffiti Summer: study and do.

You can find out more information here and you can hear more about and order Graffiti the Book here.

Will you step over fear and join us for Graffiti Summer?

His Plan For You and Your Chance to Win My New Book

I’m announcing how you could win a copy of Dear Dad below..

Photo Credit: Ella's Dad via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Ella’s Dad via Compfight cc

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Jeremiah 29:11

Need I explain my fear of marriage? I’ve never seen what a real marriage is supposed to look like. My grandparents’ is a mess. My parents’ marriage certainly can’t be normal. We know how it turned out with you and Mom. Are my friends doing it right? I don’t know what it’s supposed to look like.

I think it will be a fear I battle until the day I actually step up to the altar. I go back and forth between the fear of marriage and the fear of never getting married. But God’s Word comforts me.

I’m excited to be guest posting for Maria Morgan today. Click here to read the rest of the post. 

Trusting Ourselves vs. Trusting God

You have trusted in your wickedness and have said, ‘No one sees me.’ Your wisdom and knowledge mislead you when you say to yourself, ‘I am, and there is none besides me.’ – Isaiah 47:10

I woke up this morning to this verse. I find myself wondering why I counted on myself and not God. I got scared and stopped trusting him.

After I cried out to you and still had the dreams, I didn’t know what to do.

I’m sorry that I left you. I don’t want to handle things on my own anymore. Too many times I have trusted in my own wickedness. Too many times I have gotten caught up in my own desires and my own sin that I thought I was the only one who could see me. Forgive me.

I’m excited to be guest posting over at Single Roots today. Click here to read the rest of the post. 

Asking for Help

Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up – James 5:14-15

From Dear Dad…

I wanted this to all be over. I sat at my desk twirling a pencil around, trying to figure out how to make sense of everything. No one else was in the office yet. I was extremely grateful. I was going to talk to my friend Jammie.

Photo Credit: larskflem via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: larskflem via Compfight cc

Maybe she would help me make sense of everything. Then I saw her e-mail:

“I was reading this morning and came across these scriptures and wanted to share it with you:

“Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up“ – James 5:14-15

“I love you and hope that you can meditate on these, and maybe they will help you want to seek help from our church family.”

Seek help from our church family? I had no idea what she was talking about. They had dragged her into all of this, too.

 I’m honored to be guest posting for Larry Hehn. Click here to read the rest of the post. 

Sensitivity is the Key

God smacked me with truth today. I was sitting on the couch reading the Bible and opened it to this verse:

1 Thessalonians 5:14, “Encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.”

My footnotes say, “Don’t yell at the timid and weak; encourage and help them.”

At times it can be difficult to distinguish between idleness and timidity. Two people may be doing nothing—one out of laziness and the other out of shyness or fear of doing something wrong.

The key to ministry is sensitivity: sensing the condition of each person and offering the appropriate remedy for each situation. You can’t effectively help until you know the problem. You can’t apply the medicine until you know where the wound is.

Sensitivity. I’m lacking it.

I’m guest posting over at Joseph Iregbu’s place today. Click here to read the rest of the post.