What’s Your Motive?

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, Renew a right spirit within me.” Psalms 51:10

Wouldn’t that be a great name for a game show, “What’s Your Motive?” Motives are a sort of mind game, aren’t they? It’s ultimately about our intention to have you believe something or to acquire something we want. Motives can be good or bad, wrong or right, pure or impure.

Have you ever known someone always seems to operate with a hidden agenda? You know the one. The one who is “fake”. The one you can’t trust. The one who whenever he/she is talking is more than likely lying to you? Do you remember when you first found out this person had a hidden agenda? You figured out this person’s method of operation was tricking you and deceiving you for their personal gain? Maybe it was subtle. Maybe they just wanted you to believe something that they are not. You feel deceived, betrayed….like you got kicked in the stomach.

You see, I was one of those people. In active addition, that was my M.O. I wasn’t like that when sober though. No where near it. As days of sobriety started to add up, God revealed to me the subconscious manipulation methods I used in order to get people to do what I wanted. He showed me how I could be subtle in my intent and that my motive was not pure. I wasn’t trying to hurt anybody. It had become a learned behavior and half the time I wasn’t even aware of it.

So I asked God to help me stay sensitive to the motives of my Heart. I ask God often to bring to the surface the little bits & pieces of impurity that may have lingered or have worked their way back in again.

“Grant me purity of heart, that I may honor you.” – Psalms 86:11

God doesn’t reveal these things to me so I will feel bad about myself. That is what the devil wants me to believe. I use to live in a state of guilt and shame (see my post about forgiving myself). God knew my self esteem was unstable back then, and in time I would heal. But now He reveals the condition of my heart so that I can repent any unconfessed sin. I want Him to. I ask Him for this. He reveals my subtle motives so that I can become pleasing in His sight. So I can change. So I can honor Him.

God knows my heart. He knows me better than I do. God knows that I really don’t want to hurt people or even hurt myself. He knows I wanted to change and I wanted to please Him but I couldn’t do that until He showed me the motives of my heart. It’s important that I keep my motives in check on a daily basis. Without purity of hear, I won’t be able to move forward to what the Lord wants for my life.

Changing My Way of Thinking

This is probably one of the hardest things to do and it’s an ongoing process that has to be worked on on a daily basis.thoughts

Don’t be discouraged though.  It can and does happen if you allow Christ to work in your life.

“Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established.” Proverbs 16:3

I was a tough nut to crack, stubborn and resisted change, even though I wanted to change!  I had to commit to reading God’s Word and learning all I could about God’s character and what He wants from me and what I can expect from Him.  I became hungry for the Word and that hunger hasn’t stopped!  I was allowing God to speak to my heart and open to receive His love and grace.  Satan’s lies were so engrained in me and I knew this wasn’t going to be easy.  So all the energy I had put into my addicted days, I used the same energy to immerse myself in the Bible and Christian books.

A fantastic book written by Joyce Meyer, “Battlefield of the Mind, Renew Your Mind Through the Power of God’s Word” helped change my life.  I highly recommend you read this book to enable you to learn how to change your thoughts.  I started to learn what were Satan’s lies and what was the Truth (see my post “The Devil and His Tactics”).

I started changing!  I stared getting inspired!  I started listening to Christian music.  I stared dressing more modestly.  I started paying attention to my speech and my cursing.  When I gained the desire to please the Lord, my way of thinking started to change.

The apostle Paul says in Philippians 3:12-13,

“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection!  But I keep working for that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants to be…I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing—forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.”

The Freedom of Forgiving Myself

For many years, if not most of my life, I lived with self-hatred.  For years I could not forgive myself for my past, my actions, my behaviors, my choices, but most of all, how many people I have hurt through the years, especially my mother.  The pain I put my family through, the many tears shed on my behalf and the feelings of helplessness my loved ones must have gone through seeing me destroy my life.  It still hurts to think about it.  I couldn’t understand why I kept doing the things I was doing, even though I really wanted to change my life.  I grew deeper and deeper into confusion, depression, and self-hatred.  Why was I like this?  How did I get to be such a horrible person?  The “why” questions would consume me.  I gave up on myself.  I gave into the devil’s lies. 

The devil had me believing for years that the way to show remorse to my family was to remain guilty and ashamed.  If I showed happiness of any kind it shows my family that I don’t care.  I didn’t have a right to happiness and peace.  I believed the lie that feeling guilty showed my family that I loved them and felt bad about everything I did to them. 

One night when I was four months sober, I finally forgave myself for all I’ve done.  I had been in active addition my whole adult life.  I truly, honestly and wholeheartedly forgave myself.  I was praying and crying out to God that night because I was in distress from my ex-boyfriend being verbally abusive and screaming throughout the house.  I was locked in my bedroom and cried and prayed for him to stop.  The Lord spoke to me about forgiving myself, even though that wasn’t what I was praying for specifically.  He said, 

“Who are you to not forgive yourself when I, the Almighty God, have forgiven you long ago!  Don’t you trust Me?  I know your heart.  I know all you are.  I know who you are.  You will not grow in Christ if you keep hanging on to your past and allowing abuse to stay in your life.  I love you.  Your family loves you.  They have forgiven you too so why aren’t you forgiving yourself?  It’s okay.  You can let go now, and let go of this relationship.  I know your heart and you are my beautiful child and I love you.  You are not that person anymore when you were using.  You never were.  You just lost your way for a while.  Forgive yourself.  Allow Me to direct your path from now on.  Obey Me and trust Me.  You can let go now.” 

My body suddenly became very warm and an overwhelming peace came over me.  My scalp tingled and I took a deep breath.  I felt a sudden sense of freedom and calmness.  I stopped crying and reflected on what just happened to me.  It felt like the Holy Spirit filled my entire being.  I was calm.  I could breathe.  All while my ex was still screaming and yelling outside my door.  I was still.  I had a breakthrough.  I was free.

Stepping Out Into New Things

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God is always doing new things.  Stepping out into something new in our life can be very scary.  We can choose to continue living in our past.  We can choose to stay where we are.  God doesn’t want a stagnant Christian.  He also doesn’t want us reliving our past to the point where we aren’t able to move forward and make progress.  It’s okay to remember the good things of our past, but not to get stuck there.  God wants us to step into new things.  He wants us to trust Him no matter what, with no apprehension.

I ask myself, “Why are you so resistant to new things, when you can clearly see how God has pulled you through so much in your life?”  Times when I didn’t think I had it in me to go one more day, one more week, one more year, my God got me through.  I don’t like being uncomfortable.  Maybe that’s where my resistance stems from.  Fear usually plays a part in it—fear of the unknown.  But mostly, I just don’t like being uncomfortable!

The Bible doesn’t tell me that I have to be comfortable to be obedient.

Sometimes I just have to do things afraid.  Look at all the wonderful stories in the Old Testament when God wanted someone to step out into new things.  One of these stories is in Joshua 1.  God tells Joshua that it’s time for him to take his new position.  Moses had died and Joshua was in mourning.  God tells him it’s time to move forward into his new responsibility, leading the people into the Promised Land.  God tells him to,

“Be strong (confident) and of good courage…”  Joshua 1:6

This process also involves “letting go”.  To let go of something that I have held dear to my heart is not easy!  God is finished with a certain part of my life and if I am to grow further in my walk with Christ I must make a choice to start living, leave a relationship behind and step out in faith.  I shouldn’t be afraid to walk away from something that God is finished with because His Word tells me He as something new and wonderful for me.  My God is a good God and He is a faithful God!  Being a Christian, I must avoid anything that may compromise my relationship with Jesus.  This includes friendships and relationships.

The enemy loves to steal our joy because after all—a weak Christian is not an effective Christian.  Quite frankly, I’m tired of allowing that to happen.  So I am making a conscious choice to step out into new things today and trust in the Lord to direct my paths and lead me into a new part of my life.

 

I Can’t But God Can

I want to share with you an experience I had that involves how God empowers us and guides us in our daily life.

I remember when I had been promoted to an assistant manager position at a previous job. I have only worked there 2 months and by being quickly promoted, it had me both excited and scared.

My confidence level needs much improvement though. In fact, I almost didn’t accept the position because I was really psyching myself out. I was allowing Satan way too much time in my thoughts and almost worked myself into a panic attack. I was questioning whether God really gave me this or was it my own will taking over. Satan had me questioning everything and I was obsessing over it. I was stressed to say the least.

Most of you know my past and the bad choices I have made in my life. My struggle with addiction and years of verbal abuse all play a part in how I feel about myself and my abilities.

I remember the first day running the store by myself. I had a staff of 7 and it was important for me to not only keep everything running smoothly but I also had the strain of having to cut people early due to high labor costs earlier in the week. We have a couple employees who are “high maintenance”. You have to constantly watch them and stay on them to do their job. This alone is very stressful.

As soon as I walked in, there were problems.

Running that store was like a machine. If all the parts aren’t working properly, it quickly falls apart and it can be difficult to recover. So if one employee is lacking, it affects the whole thing. Five minutes after I walked in that day I said softly out loud, “God, you have to help me.”

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” Isaiah 40:31

No matter what problem was put in front of me and needed my attention and/or leadership, I remained calm and focused. I handled things without getting upset or freaking myself out. I was able to solve any problems that came up and from what I could tell, customers appeared happy with the service. The day wasn’t perfect and we did have a few customers who got upset but I was able to resolve any issues and make them happy before they left.
God gets all the credit!

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This had nothing to do with me. God was with me totally and it was all Him. Our lives can get so busy that we don’t always realize just how much God does for us on a daily basis. We don’t see just how much God is in control and faithfully loves us and guides us 24 hours at a time.

I encourage all of you to take a few moments today and reflect on how God works in your daily life. Ask Him to reveal the “little things” that we often miss. Remember that by humbling ourselves to Him, He empowers us to do things that we normally couldn’t do if left up to our own will.

Healing, Mental Health and Restoration

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well- balanced mind and discipline and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:9 AMP)

The Bible promises Christians a sound mind.  Mental illness, personality disorders and any form of psychological damage may result from childhood trauma, domestic abuse, demonic activity or disobedience to God (Deut 28:15, 28).  Thoughts are jumbled, chaotic and there is an inner turmoil that feels like torture.  A chemical imbalance in the brain can cause mood swings, aggression and depression.  Sometimes medication is needed.  Sometimes therapy, one-on-one counseling or a support group is needed.  But one thing for sure, CHRIST IS NEEDED!download (1)

I believe for some people that going to professional secular help is necessary.  It was for me.  Equally important is help from our pastor and keeping a biblical perspective about our emotions and thoughts.  God desires us to be whole.  This would involve every aspect of our life—spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically.

So how do you get to that point of healing?  Healing is certainly a process.  It can be an ongoing thing, but I also experienced an “instant” healing that changed my life!  I have another article titled “The Freedom of Forgiving Myself”.  I will tell you…I am a hard case.  I don’t know why that is and I wish I wasn’t like this because I could have saved myself from years and years of hardship and suffering if I would have just listened and followed God’s will for my life.

I’m one of those who has to experience everything for myself all the way down to rock bottom before I say, “okay, maybe you’re right”.  In the meantime, I become a self-hater, self-loathing, never understanding why I do the things I do or why I want to do the things I do.  Blaming others doesn’t work.  Feeling sorry for myself doesn’t work.  But God’s grace does work!

And you know, the bottom line is this….it doesn’t matter what others think you should do or how you do it, or what you do to get well, or how you do it to get well.  What matters is the connection between myself and God.  God is the only One who knows my heart.  He is the only One who knows what I need and how and when I need it.  So in a sense, for me, being healed and restored involved me being selfish and not letting anything or anyone influence me in the process.  It’s between me and God.

If my heart is aligned with His heart and my thoughts are aligned with His thoughts, them I am living on purpose and according to His will.

So the healing begins by allowing me to forgive myself.  To allow myself to put my foot down and say, “this is what I have to do to help me.”  It may seem very self-centered and selfish to those looking from the outside.  But let me reassure you…once I was able to forgive myself and allow Christ to heal my inner being, I came out a better person and a more likable person.  This opened the doorway for me to get well and stay well for longer periods of time.

I certainly haven’t perfected this whole sobriety thing, but I’m much healthier mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.  I understand now what God means when He says He wants us to be made “whole”.  In this wholeness I found inner joy and peace.  I know that God has healed me from the guilt and shame I carried because I am able to open my eyes to things I couldn’t see before.  He has opened my ears to things I haven’t heard before.  Because of what Christ did for me on the cross, I can be healed and restored.

 

 

Our Emotional Life

God created us to be emotional, feeling human beings. Managing our emotions is an important skill set for anyone who wants to help others deal with life situations and life circumstances. I know from personal experience that it is very difficult for me to learn from someone who may be strong in their knowledge of the Word of God but in their emotional life they are a wreck.

It is equally important for our own personal peace and happiness to get a handle on our emotions. As Christian believers, our emotions play a major part of being “in His image”. Jesus was emotionally expressive during His ministry and portrayed a life of self-control, and situational discernment. He experienced anger, sadness, grief, excitement, joy, love and even experienced feelings of abandonment.

Our feelings are every changing. They seem to fluctuate with no apparent reason. We can go to bed feeling good about our day and in good spirits, and the next morning wake up irritable and tired. We often ask ourselves, “Why am I feeling this way?” It can be very frustrating and confusing. The good news is we can learn how to manage our emotions instead of our emotions managing us.

It’s important to know that even though we feel bad, we can still choose do what is right. Our feelings are neither good nor evil. Our feelings cannot always be trusted though and they are usually unreliable. We are to follow wisdom not our feelings. The Holy Spirit will convict our hearts to follow wisdom instead of our emotions. For example, something may feel (emotion) right be we know (wisdom) it to be wrong. Paul explains his own struggles with sin in Romans chapter 7 and I believe he is not only telling us of the sin within us but also the emotions and feelings that go along with this struggle. We know what’s right but sinning would feel good or feel more comfortable than doing what is right. Paul also tells us in Romans 8:5-8 that if we have the Spirit of Christ living within us that we are to be controlled by the Holy Spirit, not our old nature.

“Those who let themselves be controlled by their lower natures live only to please themselves, but those who follow after the Holy Spirit find themselves doing those things that please God.” (Romans 8:5)

My emotions and feelings have run amok as an adult and although I have definitely “grown up” and matured in the last couple years, I still have much more work to do in this area. Just about my entire adult life has been consumed with drugs and alcohol I have heard that my emotional maturity stopped at the age of 18, which is when I started drinking and using on a daily basis. I have also heard that our emotional maturity ceased to grow at the onset of abuse and neglect. Any form of abuse, addiction or trauma greatly affects where we stand in our emotional lives.feelings jpg

I want to explore the Christian’s emotional life deeper and will be writing more posts on our feelings and how we can learn to do better in this area of our lives. We should do our best to model the emotional life of Jesus and I will be exploring more of how He managed His emotions when He walked on this earth. It is my hope that I can help you learn some practical ways to manage your emotions and we can mature together in how we handle our feelings on a daily basis. The transforming power of the Holy Spirit will help us heal our emotions from past hurts and with His help we can learn to develop a stable emotional life. As followers of Christ I believe it is our responsibility to develop and mature our emotional lives to a level that is pleasing to God and in return it will enable us to live a life of peace, joy and a sense of contentment no matter what is going on around us.