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Chester Bennington, lead singer of the band Linkin Park sold over 70 million albums died of suicide at the age of 41.Fame does not lead to happiness but Jesus does

Chris Cornell, lead singer of the band Soundgarden and Audioslave sold more than 30 million albums worldwide. He hung himself at the age of 52.

Story after story of rock stars who killed themselves, or say they struggle daily with depression, show that fame and fortune, attention and admiration do not lead to happiness.

Fame does not lead to happiness but Jesus does

The wise King Solomon wrote:

I have seen everything that is done under the sun and behold all is vanity and a striving after wind. What is crooked cannot be made straight and what is lacking cannot be counted. He who loves money will not be satisfied nor he who loves wealth. This is also vanity. When goods increase, they increase who eat them. There is an evil that I have seen under the sun and it lies heavy on mankind. A man to whom God gives wealth, possessions, and honor so that he lacks nothing, and all that he desires yet God does not give him power to enjoy them. But a stranger enjoys them. This is vanity it is a grievous evil. (Ecclesiastes 1:14-15; 5:10-11; 6:1-2)

Jesus said:

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be satisfied. (Matthew 5:6)

Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all the things you need will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:29-30)

…when we understand the text.

For millions who suffer from depression and despair there is a better way visit www.TheExitMovie.com for more information.

(This video is by WWUTT. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central.)

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For Hannah, it started in 5th grade. The obsessive thoughts. The anxious behavior. The suicidal ideation. She knew God. She had heard about Him her whole life. She tried to combat her thoughts with verses from her Bible. But the world in her head quickly turned into doctor’s visits. Psychiatric offices. Diagnoses. Prescriptions. Medications.

conquering cutting addiction through Jesus

By the time Hannah entered high school, she struggled with depression regularly. Anxiety seemed to run her thoughts and therefore, her life. During her junior year, what started as an obsession compulsive action to ease anxiety became an addiction to the pain of self-harm. “It started with a mechanical pencil. I’d use the tip of it to scratch my arm really hard during school. It helped me get through the days. But as I felt more socially separated, I used sharper things. Thumb tacks. Keys. Then one night, I used a nail filer and drew blood. Once I saw it, I liked it. I wanted to always draw blood. It became an addiction,” she remembers.

Now hooked on the painful cycle of self-harm, Hannah lived countless nights begging God to kill her. She frustratingly questioned why God would give someone a life if they didn’t even want to live it. She questioned why God didn’t give her the guts to kill herself. She was angry with Him for even creating her, for waking her up every morning.conquering cutting addiction through Jesus

In the midst of it all, Hannah graduated and moved to Lubbock for college. She found a church community where she grew in her knowledge of the Bible and God’s character. While God was obviously sustaining Hannah’s life, her intimate struggle with self-worth, depression, and self-harm remained present in her life.

Sometimes Hannah would reach three months without cutting, but then she would relapse. “I would be screaming at God, asking why He’d abandoned me and start cutting. I believed the lie that God wasn’t good and was indifferent to watching me suffer,” she recalls. “And all of these false views of God were tainting me. I had all the head knowledge, but the suffering was so great, I couldn’t believe that knowledge.”conquering cutting addiction through Jesus

In August 2014, Hannah decided to get a tattoo on the wrist where she would often cut. She got roman numerals based on Romans 8:37, the verse that regularly helped her fight defeating thoughts: “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

Conquering Cutting Addiction Through Jesus Christ

“Of course I was tempted to cut a week later, but I looked at my wrist and was reminded that I’m a fighter and victorious because of Jesus,” she shares. “I thought I would relapse after a couple of months, but I never did. It was the grace of God.”conquering cutting addiction through Jesus

While her struggle with self-harm dissipated, Hannah’s depression wouldn’t relent. Only two months later, Hannah put her own life in danger when she took an overdose of medication. After another three months, she decided to leave her school and church to seek professional help through an intensive outpatient program. Through this program, God not only helped Hannah gain self-worth and practical skills to help process the emotions she felt so deeply, but He also grew her heart for those who struggle with mental illness and helped her better understand it with a biblical view.

One night, while crying in bed and having an anxiety attack, Hannah read Philippians 1:23: “My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.” And Hannah thought, “That’s all I want. I’m sick of this world. I’m sick of crying. I’m sick of pain. I’m sick of suffering. I’m sick of depression. I just want to be with Jesus.” And although she felt this so heavily, she also began to feel comforted and understood by Jesus and His followers in the Bible.conquering cutting addiction through Jesus

Throughout the years, Hannah has often believed that if she just had enough faith, Jesus would heal her. She was told that if she prayed more, her depression would be gone. “Nothing damaged me more than believing that. I repeatedly asked God what I was doing wrong, and I finally realized, I live in a broken world with a broken mind and body,” she says. “But that’s where faith comes in.” Hannah realized there is no magic amount of prayer or faith that could have healed her. She realized that through all the pain and suffering, God had been pursuing her and was doing something that was ultimately for her good.conquering cutting addiction through Jesus

“I don’t hesitate to say that Jesus is the only reason I haven’t killed myself. In 5th grade, I was told that He loved me and was good, but now I know it. I’ve experienced the weight of His grace on me. He’s the only constant thing in my life. I am constantly reminded when horrible things happen that we can be so glad that we’re not home. Jesus is not done. And God didn’t let me die all of those times for a reason.”

Today Hannah has hope in Jesus, even through her struggles. She knows that He wants to give us an abundant life. She has hope for the future, when her mind and body will be fully redeemed and glorified with Jesus. A future where she will live out the truth that she is more than a conqueror over both anxiety and depression because of Jesus.conquering cutting addiction through Jesus

The Austin Stone Story Team is a community of artists who tell stories of gospel transformation. We are photographers, writers, editors, filmmakers, and musicians on a common mission to use our gifts for His glory.

(By The Austin Stone Story Team. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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I love you even though we have nothing in common

I’m not sorry. I’m not sorry I believe what I believe. I’m not sorry that I don’t think like you. I’m not sorry that I feel different. That I don’t act like you or look like you.

Now there are plenty of things I am sorry for. I’m sorry for Stealing. Lying. Cheating. Fighting. For Gluing Chris Edgar’s backpack to the floor in the 6th grade. Oh I have plenty of things I am sorry for. I struggle with being a hypocrite and trying my hardest just to fail.

But I am not now and never will be sorry for my faith in Jesus. I love my God and will do everything I can to try and be more like him daily.

But I am sorry for some of the things that have been said and done in the name of Jesus. I’m sorry someone used Jesus name to insult you. I’m sorry someone used Gods name to kick you when you’re down. I’m sorry someone who claimed to follow Jesus attacked you over your life style choices even tough they had plenty of crap in their lives.

See I realize that just because I believe something that you don’t it doesn’t make us enemies. Just because we don’t see eye to eye doesn’t mean we can’t be friends.I love you even though we have nothing in common

You need to know that I might not be like you. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like you. In fact I’ll do everything I can to show you I love you. See this love isn’t about you and truth be told it isn’t about me. See I love because I was loved first – the Bible tells me in 1 John 4:19 that the only reason I know what love is – is because God loved me when I was hateful, angry, bitter and broken. So now I love because I am loved – Jesus said in John 13:34 that I’m supposed to love you just like he loved me. That’s a love of grace a love of forgiveness a love with out grudges.

So even in our differences strike that because of our differences I am going to try and be the man God be.

I will not hate you. I will not mock you. I’ll offer you a helping hand. I would welcome you into my home. I’d buy you a meal. I’d cry with you.  I’d pray for you. I would try to be the friend you needed.

I’m not sorry for what I believe. And I will live daily in a way that you won’t be sorry for knowing me and what I believe.

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Part One: The Suffering of this Present Time

Nothing.

Jake turned the engine over again. Nothing.

Marriage and church sometimes mask the pains of sinful brokenness

Still covered in yesterday’s Austin City Limits Music Festival sweat and booze, he looked in the back of his car for an easy change of clothes. All his belongings were there, and as he turned back to the front, his eyes settled on the crumpled receipt from his 401K—he’d cashed it out two days ago and given it all to his wife.

And in the middle of the passenger seat sat the directions to his old youth leader’s house in Arkansas. He was going to drive there, murder that man, and then kill himself.

That was five years ago. Now, sitting at his kitchen table with his wife and daughter—preparing to move overseas to share the gospel—Jake and Rebecca can see God’s goodness working through each line of cocaine, each lie to cover his tracks, and each lifeline Rebecca threw him in her own attempts to be his savior.

Jake’s mother left when he was eight years old, dropping him at his father’s house for “the weekend.”  Heartbroken, Jake began to attend a church in Huntsville, Alabama, where he first learned to love Jesus. At 11, he was baptized and joined the youth group at his church. “The youth leader took an interest in me,” Jake recalls. “I thought he was my friend, someone I could turn to.” Soon after, that leader decided to show Jake pornography. “It wasn’t the first time I’d seen porn, but to have an adult show it was a whole different situation.”

Jake reported him, and the leader was removed from his position, but remained at the church.

When Jake was 12, the youth leader again approached Jake, and this time the relationship became sexual. The shame swallowed Jake alive, and when added to the abandonment of his mother, Jake began to believe that it was all his fault. He fantasized about his own death throughout his teenage years and begged God to kill him. Because his first sexual experience was with a man, Jake thought he was gay and tried to “prove” himself in high school by sleeping around with multiple girls.Marriage and church sometimes mask the pains of sinful brokenness

At 21, Jake had his first drink and found what he thought was the cure for his pain. When he drank, he could talk—never about the youth leader—but at least about the hurt from his mom. “I’d drink myself into oblivion and then cry myself into this place of ‘why does my mom hate me?’” he recalls.

When he met Rebecca, now his wife, he was 24, and she was 18. It took another 10 years for Jake to open up about the molestation. Rebecca remembers that she never thought Jake was an alcoholic: “I just thought he was really depressed about his past, because he only talked about it when he was drunk. I was glad he was talking—that it wasn’t just stuck in there.”Marriage and church sometimes mask the pains of sinful brokenness

Rebecca and Jake dated on and off for a while. Though they had a couple breaks, they always came back to each other. “My heart was always with Rebecca,” Jake remembers.

In January 2007, Jake got his first DWI when he rolled his Jeep through the front of a house on Mary St. in Austin, Texas.

It seemed like a turning point. Jake spent hours in the drunk tank, not knowing if his buddy in the passenger seat had survived. He was mortified that he was capable of what he’d done. His friend did survive, and he called Rebecca to go pick up Jake the next morning.

The incident shook both of them out of their routine, and things started lining up.

Rebecca started going back to church. Jake resisted, but begrudgingly agreed. Later that year, Jake proposed—like a storybook, he slipped a ring on his sleeping beauty while she dozed on the couch one night. He loved every suspenseful moment between the time she woke up and the time she realized there was something new on her finger.Marriage and church sometimes mask the pains of sinful brokenness

Rebecca also convinced him to come with her on a trip to Nicaragua to provide medical care for the people there. At the end of ten hard, sweat-filled days of serving others, Jake and Rebecca found a butterfly garden near Selva Negra and were married. They enlisted a pastor on their trip to perform the ceremony, and the team who had served with them threw everything together. One man grabbed his guitar, a group of women collected flowers for a bouquet, and another man—a professional photographer—readied his camera. By midday, the Harrisons were married, surrounded by new friends and the beauty of God’s creation.

It seemed like a turning point, but it wasn’t. The trappings of marriage and church attendance simply masked the deep brokenness lurking underneath.

The Austin Stone Story Team is a community of artists who tell stories of gospel transformation. We are photographers, writers, editors, filmmakers, and musicians on a common mission to use our gifts for His glory.

(By The Austin Stone Story Team. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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“It is a very weird spot to be in—to know the truths of the gospel in your head, but feel nothing. How can you be expected to feel anything toward God, when you feel nothing toward anything?”

Despite her tragic past, Lyndee now finds joy in God.As an adolescent, Lyndee began a journey through many deep and troubled episodes of depression. For years, she struggled to not only find joy, but to feel anything at all.

Lyndee understood God’s joy in theory, but in her depression, she struggled to understand and grasp God’s joy personally. She struggled to feel God’s presence in her life. Mentally, Lyndee’s depression left her confused and deflated. Physically, it led to self-harm, and Lyndee burned herself as a way for her to feel something.

“I had the gospel, and I believed in God,” she recalled, “but there was a disconnect between that and actually being able to feel and experience joy.”Despite her tragic past, Lyndee now finds joy in God.

While the feeling of joy Lyndee craved eluded her, the feeling of pain brought temporary relief. After Lyndee’s mom confronted her about physically injuring herself, Lyndee guiltily quit the burning. Although the outward damage stopped, the inward problem remained, and led to other, less apparent types of self-harm.

Lyndee would sit outside in cold weather without the proper clothing, or she wouldn’t eat when she was hungry. But despite her efforts to feel physical pain, Lyndee remained numb. “When you are numb, you just don’t feel anything,” she remembered, “which is where I was most of the time.”

Years later, when Lyndee turned 17, she moved to Colorado to attend an art school. Her depression traveled across the states with her, growing worse in her isolation.Despite her tragic past, Lyndee now finds joy in God.

Lyndee, somewhat aware of the severity of her depression, began to self—medicate as a way out of the darkness. But her use of alcohol did not help, instead it quickened her downward spiral. Lyndee realized she could not fight the depression alone. She decided to seek help from a church, even after receiving confusing messages as a teenager.

Reeking of alcohol and cigarette smoke after a night of partying, Lyndee entered a church service one Sunday in a back building of a deserted carnival. After the service, a pink‑haired young woman and her family offered to take Lyndee out to lunch. One lunch led to two, and eventually the family’s home became a refuge from Lyndee’s lonely, dark apartment.Despite her tragic past, Lyndee now finds joy in God.

“I didn’t even know these people, but they would stay up late talking with me,” she said. “They let me sleep on their couch and left me breakfast on the table when they went to work.”

Lyndee encountered a different aspect of community, as she experienced the love of Jesus through her caretakers. This lit a spark, but her struggle with depression and pursuit of joy was not over.

A few weeks later, in her car outside her apartment, Lyndee sensed God’s call to leave Colorado and return home. She dropped out of art school, and when she got home, Lyndee questioned why God called her back. Her depression was now outwardly evident, and Lyndee’s parents saw a different person than the daughter they knew, with no real idea of how to help her.Despite her tragic past, Lyndee now finds joy in God.

The message she heard from people in her local church was that if she had more faith, she would be fine. Though they prayed for Lyndee’s spiritual strength and encouraged her to join a Bible study, or to read certain books, Lyndee’s physical and deep emotional scars were ignored. Lyndee returned to self‑harm, now cutting herself, and her depression worsened with obsessive suicidal thoughts, which would not go away.

One night she was overwhelmed by thoughts of suicide. “I tried the best I could to fight the thoughts,” Lyndee said. “But when you are depressed, and your brain is not producing the right amount of chemicals, it is like fighting a battle without any weapons. You have nothing to fight with. My mantra became ‘I am going home. I am going to take my allotted daily medication. I am going to go to bed.’”

But instead of following her own formulaic advice, Lyndee swallowed half a bottle of aspirin. By God’s grace, Lyndee remained alert until her parents arrived home, and they rushed her to the emergency room.Despite her tragic past, Lyndee now finds joy in God.

In the ICU, the toxins in Lyndee’s blood continually measured to a point far beyond critical. Lyndee remembers seeing her dad in the corner of the room, his head in his hands after hearing the doctors tell him they had done everything possible for his daughter.

Lying there, Lyndee knew her fight was over, and her body was giving up. She knew she couldn’t do anything else on her own. “I was desperate for something and I didn’t know what it was.” So she prayed a simple prayer: Lord I can’t do this. I need you to take it from here.

A peace came over Lyndee. She looked up at her dad sitting in the corner. “All you have to do,” she said, “is wait until they take my blood the next time, and my toxin level will be down.”
And Lyndee was right. Her blood levels stabilized, and she was released to go home under the care of her parents.Despite her tragic past, Lyndee now finds joy in God.

Lyndee believes God performed a miracle and healed her. Over the course of several years and with the help of doctors and medications, Lyndee went from feeling numb to being able to function. She co‑owned and operated a small coffee shop, learned to communicate well with others, started going to church, and found victory in leading a very basic life. She felt joy in the small moments of life, following a God who loved her regardless of her past.

Looking back, Lyndee credits much of her recovery to the unconditional love of Christ, shown through her Missional Community group at The Austin Stone Community Church. Teaching her how to live life after depression, God used her MC to show her more of his character and his unconditional love for her. Lyndee was finally experiencing the love of Jesus, finding joy in his love. “I met people who loved me and showed so much grace when I came to them and confessed my sin,” she said.Despite her tragic past, Lyndee now finds joy in God.

She has learned how to forgive those who misunderstood her depression. Today it is important to Lyndee that those around her have a better understanding of what depression is, and that believers begin walk alongside others who struggle with it.

She still has days when she feels down, but clinical depression is no longer a part of her life. Lyndee is growing in her knowledge and understanding of Jesus, and in her awareness of Christ’s love for her. She feels God’s joy through the work of the Spirit in her.

“I have found out more about who I am, learning how to cope with things in a healthy manner,” Lyndee said. “I know joy is knowing you have God no matter what—and that God is sufficient.”Despite her tragic past, Lyndee now finds joy in God.

The Austin Stone Story Team is a community of artists who tell stories of gospel transformation. We are photographers, writers, editors, filmmakers, and musicians on a common mission to use our gifts for His glory.

(By The Austin Stone Story Team. Discovered by e2 media network and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not e2 media network, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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Ideas have consequences, and bad ideas have victims. False promises of love and personal fulfillment are no exception.

Over a year and-a-half after the Obergefell decision, the debate over gay “marriage” and homosexuality has largely fizzled out: partly because of the election, partly because the “T” in the LGBT acronym has been stealing all the headlines, and partly because Obergefell is now viewed by many as settled law. And that’s a shame, because so-called “progress” isn’t bringing about the rosy picture we were promised.

In what may be the most candid piece in Huffington Post history, Michael Hobbes, who identifies as gay, writes about what he calls an “epidemic of loneliness.”false promises have claimed victims in the LGBT community

“For years,” he begins, “I’ve noticed the divergence between my straight friends and my gay friends. While one half of my social circle has disappeared into relationships, kids and suburbs, the other has struggled through isolation and anxiety, hard drugs and risky (behavior).”

Through story after story and mountains of statistics, Hobbes then documents a consistent and chilling trend among those who share his lifestyle. “Gay men everywhere, at every age,” he writes, are two-to-ten-times more likely than heterosexual men to commit suicide.

And that’s just the beginning. Homosexual males also suffer from higher rates of cardiovascular disease, cancer, allergies, asthma, and a whole host of behavior-related infections and dysfunctions. They’re twice as likely to experience major depressive episodes, report having fewer close friends, and abuse drugs at an alarming rate.

In fact, living in so-called “gay neighborhoods” is a predictor of more frequent, risky behaviors and methamphetamine use. And, Hobbes adds, the community itself is brutal and degrading to its members. Smart-phone hookup apps drive a culture of exploitation and casual encounters that one young man he interviewed said made him feel like “a piece of meat.”

We often hear these disastrous statistics and stories attributed to homophobia, bullying, and shame. Having been treated horribly since childhood, men like this author—the oft-repeated myth goes—are forced to live a lie. They’re depressed because they’ve been oppressed and repressed.

But here’s the problem with the bullying hypothesis. In countries like the Netherlands and Sweden where same-sex “marriage” has been the law of the land for years, gay men remain three times more susceptible to mood disorders and three- to ten-times more likely to engage in “suicidal self-harm.”

The situation is so bad that one respondent in a survey of HIV clinics told researchers, “It’s not a question of not knowing how to save their lives. It’s a question of them not knowing if their lives are worth saving.”

Incredibly, after this long and brutal and well-documented description of life in his community, Hobbes then concludes the cause as having minority status, which has taught them to live in fear. At no point does he consider the possibility that it’s the lifestyle itself that may be what’s destroying these men’s lives.

Still, one expert quoted in the piece hints that he knows what’s going on. Christopher Stults, a researcher at New York University, admits that for many people, the marriage decision was a letdown. “We have this legal status, and yet there’s still something unfulfilled.”

Could it be that this lifestyle cuts off this community from the natural family, from children, and—according to years of statistics—from monogamous partnerships? Could it be the disparity Hobbes sees between what he wants and what he got is a result of a broken lifestyle? Could it be that this behavior naturally isolates people? Could it be that God didn’t design His image-bearers to live like this, and when we do, it actually destroys us?

Unfortunately, those questions are no longer even considered by Hobbes or by social scientists. But we as a society, and especially the Church, must consider these questions. As long as there are real people trying to fill their hearts with lies, caring about them will mean having a more open mind than the Huffington Post.

Visit Breakpoint.org to get further information about the many great books and other resources available there and you can link up to our social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

By Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Discovered by e2 media network and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not e2 media network, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.

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Reflections of Grace Slider2

Have you ever been deeply disillusioned by someone whom you thought was a friend but turned out to be a controller or manipulator and when you didn’t comply with their demands they dropped you?  Do you think because we are to seek to love everyone with God’s unconditional love that means you should allow them total access into your life?

Actually real genuine love has many boundaries.  To enable someone to treat you with anything less than respect is actually enabling them to continue in sin.  If you put up a boundary and not allow them to disrespect you then you are actually walking in His love with them.  We teach people how to treat us by the behavior we accept or not accept from them.  Think about it.

Scripture invites us to develop relationships with other believers, but it also warns us that not all relationships are healthy ones. If we don’t recognize this it could cause many to be trapped in destructive relationships that will not only erode their own walk with God, but also will, in time, project a wariness of others that will make them withdraw from healthy relationships altogether.  This is not God’s will for He says to not forsake the gatherings together with His body.

  • When healthy relationships work well they will encourage us, comfort us through our darkest moments and help us keep our trust in God. There is no treasure greater in this world than sharing that kind of friendship with believers who are committed to God’s work in your lives.

However, it is advantageous for us to learn to recognize those toxic people that come into our lives that can undermine our personal boundaries.  They can take up all of our energy and resources and then when they are done with us they are nowhere to be found.  They simply move on to the next victim, leaving you feeling totally used.  These are the people we are to love from a distance.  Not everyone we meet in the body of Christ should we be intimately connected to.   Even Jesus, when he discerned the hearts of people and that they had ulterior motives and only wanted to follow him because he fed the 5000, ministered to them, showed them kindness, but then turned back to join up with his disciples who He trusted.

During the time he was in Jerusalem, those days of the Passover Feast, many people noticed the signs he was displaying and, seeing they pointed straight to God, entrusted their lives to him. But Jesus didn’t entrust his life to them. He knew them inside and out, knew how untrustworthy they were. He didn’t need any help in seeing right through them. (John 2: 23-26)

Some believers are plagued by relationships where other believers are manipulating and controlling them. Wanting to be humble and open they make room in their lives for the wrong kind of counsel and advice and are overwhelmed with guilt when they can’t satisfy what others expect of them.  The New Testament tells us to love each other deeply, bear with each other through the trials and forgive each other’s faults as they arise, but it also warns us to recognize when relationships turn dark and destructive and to protect ourselves from them.

Image: Frank Powell

Image: Frank Powell

We need to learn to recognize if the signs that the relationship we’re having with another proclaimed believer is not going to help us grow spiritually. He warns us to step aside from them, not in judgment or anger, but simply so that they will not dominate our spiritual passion or lead us astray.   What are some of these signs?

♥  People who have an obsession with controversy and gossip…they judge others morals while doing the very same things in their own hearts.

♥  People who flatter you with their lips in order to get close to you to glean your very energy because they have no life of their own…when you put up boundaries they are the first to get offended.

♥  People who blame others or pass out lists of things you can do to be a better Christian.  You know you’re with people who are placing their confidence in something other than the work of God himself when you see this.

♥  People who want to take God’s place in your life. You’ll know you’re near one of these when they attempt to force you to choose between submitting to them and doing what you honestly feel that God has put on your heart.

♥  People who take the joy out of everything. Your rosy outlook on life continues to get squashed with negativity. Before you know it, their negativity consumes you and you start looking at things with gray colored glasses yourself

♥  Negative people who every time you have an idea, they tell you why you can’t do it. As you achieve, they try to pull you down. As you dream, they are the first to tell you it is impossible.

♥  People whom you can never give enough to make them happy. They take you for granted and have unrealistic expectations of you. They find ways to continually fault you and never take responsibility for anything themselves.

Believers who act destructively are themselves broken and fractured people. If God graces you to stay near them to love them and you can do it without compromising your own relationship with him, by all means do it!  But beware that the relationship doesn’t start taking up all of your energy and distracts you from others that God would have you reach.

Now, we aren’t to distance ourselves from the people of the world. How else will the world ever come to experience God’s love if it is not through people like us loving them even in the midst of their worst failures and sins? This danger of distraction from our walk in Him doesn’t usually come from the world for we already know they have need of Him; it comes from the self righteous and broken within the church, sad to say.  Most all of the hurt and rejection I have experienced along my journey has come from those I thought were my brothers and sisters in Christ.

When you recognize that another proclaimed believer is becoming a drain on you and keeping you from the real prize of knowing Jesus, you don’t have to be mean about it.  You don’t have to confront, accuse and try to prove you’re right. Just step away quietly from them and spend your time with those relationships that stimulate you to draw closer to God and recognize his work in you.  With the demands of our lives pressing us from every side, time is just too short to waste our energies on people filled with manipulation, gossip and division. We must learn to recognize the red flags in our relationships and become bold enough to use our boundaries and know when to say “No, that won’t work for me, thank you.”

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Reflections of Grace Slider2

Have you ever had a time when you felt like you were in a spiritual black hole?   I have. The pressure seemed unbearable. No sense of God‘s presence. No sense of anything going on around me.

These are the times, sorry to say, when I tend to question God’s love for us.  But then He demonstrates to me that He was there all the time. I call these times “faith experiences.”

I have come to believe the black holes are needful in order to know that we have the shield that can withstand the incredible heat that comes when we follow Him with a whole heart – a heart that is radical in a commitment to fully follow His ways.   He strengthens us and hardens us to difficulties and to know He is truly a God of the supernatural.

So, at present I am finding myself in a hole when it comes to my life of faith.  I am going to disclose some of my conversation with Jesus with you.   I looked back to a time when I could “feel” God in a really big way.  In comparison the conversation I recently had with Him is quite different.

Jesus speaking:

“My child, I have you in the palm of my hand.  I open the windows of heaven to you in my wisdom and timing.  Your steadfastness will be richly rewarded.  I have it all worked out already.  Your faith has made you whole.  I am calling you into a big place—a far place—a lovely place—a perfect place for what I have called you to do.  You’ve been tried by fire, but as the impurities have burned away you are left my pure princess, called to a higher calling than before, called unto Me, your Lord, Your Friend, and the Lover of your soul.  I love you with an everlasting love.  I love you as a Father protects His baby.  All that you have lost and missed in your life I will give you Myself in return.  You need not fear.  I will not leave you but will give you so much more than you can even think of right now.”

This is the kind of conversation I am used to having with Jesus.  He is always speaking if we are listening.  I had been asking Him many questions about our current state of affairs back then and this was His answer to me.

Fast forward to today.  We are in another trial of huge proportions.  I have been drawn into a type of wilderness.  It is odd.  Because my outreach through my book, “Climbing Out of the Box” and my Coaching is growing and I know He is doing huge things that I can’t even see yet.

But our business has been taking a beating with all the cutbacks in California.  It has been, at the time of this writing, a good month with no work, no income.   However, we have not missed a payment on a bill.  Every week it is amazing to see how we are provided for.  I am waiting to see manna on my front lawn one of these mornings.  We are learning a supernatural way to live in trusting Jesus for our daily provision.  Every week we watch Him meet our needs in spectacular ways and through various means.  He is our source of sustenance.

However, the hardship of not knowing what is going to happen, or if we need to just wait for deliverance or if we should start doing– “what?”  Problem is there isn’t a clue as to what the “what” would be.  And for my husband it is so hard to not to be working and to have no answers.

This time when I talk to the Lord about this trial this is what I get:

“Okay, Lord, where are you?”

Image: Donnell Duncan

Image: Donnell Duncan

“I’m here my child.”

“But you are not saying anything.  At least I’m not hearing it if you are.”

“I’m here my child.”

“The fire has been hot, Lord.”

“Are you burned?”

“Well, no.  But I tend to get scared.  This trial has been too long and I am so weary.”

“My strength in you is sufficient, Dixie.”

“This has been so long now.  I fight fear daily.  I have no direction.  We have tried every door and they are locked from the inside.  Can’t you see me? “

“I see you quite clearly… My ways are not your ways.”

“But what will happen tomorrow if I still have no direction?”

“Is today taken care of?”

“Well, yes. But Lord, (insert whine) nothing is happening.   I can’t see a thing and I have no idea where this is heading.”

Silence

“I know I am doubting you.”

“Yes.”

“Wow, never thought my faith would be tried to this degree.   I always pretty much had answers.  You said you’d never leave me or forsake me.”

“I haven’t.”

“I feel as if in a moment my life as I know it could be over.  I am standing on a cliff ready to jump off into the unknown.”

“Jump.”

“Will you catch me?”

“Yes.”

“How do I know for sure?”

“Seriously?“

“Oh yeah, the things that I hope for, but the evidence of things not seen, and a grain of mustard seed, pretty tiny.  Is that enough to get you to move?”

“Yes, but in my time.”

“Why not in my time?  When I don’t think I can go on, you will still make me wait?   Makes me angry if you want me to be honest!”

“It’s okay.  I can handle your anger.  My plans are different than what you can see.”

“Sigh… I do love you Jesus.”

“And I love you more.”

“When I absorb that, I realize that kind of love from you is really all I need.  You are more than enough.”

“Be still, Dixie, and know that I am your God.”

No amount of cajoling would get Him to say more, give me more information, or disclose what this trial is really about.  My humanness just wants it to be over and to get back to our normal lives.   He is working out far more important and eternal things in both mine and my husband’s life.

Sometimes He is just silent my friend, but not in such a way that we don’t know that He isn’t there.  He is always there…sometimes he leads us into the wilderness so that our trust is in Him alone.  When all else is gone, there HE is!!!

I might add that when you look back to what he originally said to me in 2007 he already answered the questions I am asking Him now.  We are so human, and we need to be reminded that He still means it when the going gets rough.   He doesn’t change.  He is always the same.

He is always speaking but sometimes it is in the silence.  But when we are ready to come up out of the wilderness He has lead us into, He will be still be speaking tenderly to us!!

 “Therefore I am now going to allure her;
I will lead her into the wilderness
and speak tenderly to her.
15 There I will give her back her vineyards,
and will make the Valley of Achor (troubling) a door of hope.
There she will respond as in the days of her youth,
as in the day she came up out of Egypt. (Hosea 2:14-15)

“ My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me! (2 Corinthians 12:9)

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Reflections of Grace Slider

We all have had desert experiences in our lives at different seasons of time along our journey. Some seasons of trial are short and some are very long.

He loves us so much that sometimes He allows us to stay in those deserts for a while to bring us back to Him. When it gets hot and dry we start looking for Him for relief. You know why?

He misses you and desires relationship with you.

Hosea 2:6 says:

“For this reason I will fence her in with thornbushes.
I will block her path with a wall to make her lose her way.”

He does this to bring us to the end of ourselves and to get us to turn to Him in thirsty longing. Then He begins to draw us to Himself. He often takes us aside from every source of comfort so that He alone can have our heart’s attention.

Then He says in Hosea 2:14

 “But then I will win her back once again.
I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there.”

And it is here that we begin to experience Him, not as the God up in Heaven, the big guy in the sky, the God of Sunday Mornings, but as the pursuer of our hearts, as our lover.

“’When that day comes,’ says the Lord, ‘you will call me ‘my husband’
instead of ‘my master.’  I will make you my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion.’“ (Hosea 2:16 & 19) 

“I will be faithful to you and make you mine, and you will finally know me as the Lord.”  (Hosea 2:20)

This love is not something we struggle for, earn, or fear. It is bestowed upon us.

He has chosen us.

We are made for such a love.

Our hearts yearn to be loved intimately, personally, and romantically. We are created to be the object of His desire and affection, and He is totally and completely in love with us.

His love is for each and every one of us. God wants intimacy with you! In order to have it, you must offer it to Him and surrender yourself over to Him.

Part of my story (which you can find in its totality in my first book, Climbing Out of the Box), is that I was forced by extremely painful circumstances and losses into five years of desert life. I experienced the loss of my first marriage, my ministry, my church, and my friends. I was swept into a devastating desert season, where I met Jesus face to face. In the first couple of years of my sweltering in the desert, I experienced:

  • Anger
  • Desperation
  • Depression
  • Abandonment
  • Emotional agony
  • Empty nest
  • Financial woes
  • Heartbreak

Then, out of my own depth of pain, I sought Him.

I began talking…and He did too.

Once I was liberated from performance-based religion, I was alone and free to pursue Him as my lover. I started listening to Him again. And He was faithful to show me how my own denials led me into the wilderness, and He allowed it. He allowed it to show me the difference between true relationship and performance-driven religion. We took walks, drives, and had long talks together.

And when the revelation came that I did not have to do anything to make Him love me more than He did at that moment, nor did I have to do anything but love Him, I was set free.

“So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.”  (Galatians 5:1)

Based on my own life, and through my observations in my coaching practice, that every unfulfilled longing inside of us originates from a deeper longing for Jesus Himself. It is an emptiness He makes us aware of, that can only be met by His love and none other. And what a love it is!

At different seasons of our lives, we find different longings. Some of us go our whole lives as one big, gaping hole of need. That is so sad to me.

Because now I know that the answer always rested in Him all along. It is so simple, really.

We struggle and we struggle; and we complicate everything by anxiously trying to fix our lives with our own ideas of what we need. Only to find that the thing we tried didn’t work, and now we are right back where we started…and oh, do we feel defeated and hopeless.

We turn to so many things, trying to find that one thing that will satisfy. And we become addicted because we find we can never get enough of just one thing.

Sometimes it is even good things we use to fill that hole…but only to find that the hole is still there afterwards, and we realize we still can’t get enough. That is because we were not meant to. Your creator made you to desire Him.   But this world has played havoc on us.

  • Alcohol
  • Drugs
  • Relationships
  • Exercise
  • People
  • Ministry
  • Kids

All of these things can be used to attempt to fill us up in one way or another. Though they may be good things, they were never meant to take God’s place in our lives.

  • When we are tired and weary, what we really need is Jesus.
  • When we are lonely, we really are missing Jesus.
  • When we are hungry, but not really, we are searching for something that satisfies, but what we really want is Jesus.

There is a time coming, my friends, when we will find that our every longing will be met by Jesus Himself.

God really does withhold no good thing and if He is withholding something, as much confusion and pain as it brings at that time, it is ultimately for our good and to make us more aware that He is there for us. I have found this to be true again and again in my years with the Lord.

walking with Jesus

Image: Helen Thomas Robson

I am deeply flawed, you see, and I am trying to find my way past my fleshly longings to find that sole satisfaction that comes from only my King. And I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. It is an amazing journey!

To you who have an unmet longing, whether it be a husband you wish to share life with, a child you yearn to bring into your home (whether through adoption or naturally), a wound from a relationship, a dream or passion to come true that’s laid dormant for years, a hunger to do something you’ve been waiting to do, a desire to move up in your career, the longing to grieve something you’ve lost, whatever it is, my words to you are these:

Your longing is safe with Jesus—maybe you can’t see Him, but He is there and He can not only fulfill your heart that longs for more, He can also give you good things.

You can grieve the lost time that you struggled before you knew this truth and you can be honest. You can talk about it. You can ask these questions:

Where is my life going from here?

What is next?

How do I bring You into my longings, Jesus?

What is He going to do to take away this constant feeling of wanting something that I don’t even know what it is?

Remember, Jesus is holding your every longing. He is waiting for you to turn to Him as your only answer. He longs for you with a passionate desire to walk with you every minute of the day.

Do what it takes to trust Him, whether that means putting yourself out there and sharing, or keeping it in your secret chamber where you meet with God. Your longings are not foreign to Him.

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Transform Slider

(The following was originally published at www.CareyGreen.com.)

The Mindset Struggle is very real…

The struggle to maintain a healthy mindset is real!

One day you wake up feeling great, ready to conquer the world!

The very next day you wake up feeling down or depressed and want to give up.

It’s a constant cycle that comes around at different intervals for different people, but the reality is that no matter what degree of difficulty you face personally, YOU have GOT to deal with your struggle to maintain and nurture a healthy, strong mindset.

There are three main reasons we struggle with keeping our healthy, truth-based mindset intact…

  • Body chemistry & health issues – hormones, physical disabilities, other biological limitations. These impact your ability to maintain the mindset you need.
  • Habits – We all have habits of belief, habits of feeling, and habits of action. Many times “bad” habits fuel our struggle with mindset health.
  • You leak – Simply put, your healthy mindset leaks out. You’ve got to refill the reservoir every single day.

How do you refill your mindset tank every day?

There are many strategies, but in this video I give you one very powerful, practical thing you can do to attack those negative mindset drains the minute the crop up.

I call it a “Mindset Reset List” or an “Anti-Depression List.”   Watch the video above for more details!

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