Author: Barb Smith

Obeying the 'do not enter' signs

I was talking with a friend at a Christmas party last year, and we both recognized our need for healthy boundaries and wished we had understood this principle sooner as we could have avoided some unpleasant experiences. Healthy boundaries are vital because they help keep us on track with the important things in our lives. We both agreed at times, we had given more attention to the needs of others than we did to our families and personal needs. And out of my friend’s mouth came the final answer that I needed to secure everything I had been learning about boundaries.  She said maybe this is what ‘entering the narrow gate’ means because the Bible talks about how easy it is to take the broad path and how hard or difficult it is to take the narrow path: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction and many enter through it.” Matthew 7: 12 -13 I sincerely believe the path to life is choosing …

Turning over the tables in your heart

“You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32 The Bible tells us that the truth will set us free and for some a radical transformation can take place, as they are instantaneously delivered from addictions and unhealthy lifestyles upon putting their faith in Christ. Then there is the rest of us, who for whatever reason, don’t see a similar thing happening. Sometimes this is because we haven’t fully faced up to the truth about ourselves. This verse suggests there may be unpleasant things that we need to find out about ourselves before we can change. Over the past five years, I have developed a checklist made up of three questions that I ask myself every so often to expose the truth: Am I playing the victim card? Am I blaming someone else for my failure? Do I need to forgive someone? Why do I ask myself these three questions? The reason is that I am the only one ultimately responsible for my well-being. I can’t change what other people …

Time to quit reliving the past

The start of a New Year is usually a time we look ahead at things we want to achieve. This year is particularly significant because it is also the start of a new decade. But studies show that 92% of us fail to achieve our New Year’s resolutions, and I believe it is because we are going about it all wrong. In his letter to the Philippians, the Apostle Paul talks about an important key to achieving future goals in life: “I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13 First understand it is a process. Success won’t happen immediately. Paul was considered by many to be the greatest apostle of the early church, yet despite all he achieved, Paul said that he hadn’t fully attained everything God had for him. We are on a journey. There will be good days and …

Embrace your journey

Sadly, for many years I believed that my purpose was tied into some far off destination that was going to drop into my lap someday. And, I stumbled over my wondering and worrying about what my purpose was and what my goals should be to help me accomplish whatever my purpose was. Even though I was married, had a family and worked part-time, I somehow excluded all this from being part of my purpose in life. Therefore discovering my purpose in life was on hold. It had to be on hold because I did not have the time nor energy to pursue anything else.  My hands were quite full. Then I made the fatal mistake of comparing myself to other women, who worked, had families and were in leadership roles in their community and accomplishing great things while successfully raising their kids and supporting their husbands. As former US President Teddy Roosevelt once quipped,  “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Comparing myself to these women caused me to stumble over what was right in front …

It’s up to you, not them

Christmas is often the time of year when unhealthy feelings towards others are exposed and maybe it’s the pressure of the season that makes these ‘triggers’ more volatile. Lately I have been developing clear principles to follow when ‘I am offended.’ How to forgive and keeping myself in the mindset of ‘forgiveness’ often eludes me.  For me, it has to be simple, as my mind grasps concepts best when they are easy to remember.  First, I needed to get a grip on my ‘trigger’ moments when I find myself suddenly engulfed in waves of emotions that carry me to places where I don’t want to go. Fundamentally, forgiving is a choice we make to step forward and away from the feelings that hold us hostage to the unhealthy energies of anger, bitterness, resentment and offense.  One key principle that has helped me immensely this past week has been allowing myself to feel the emotions and acknowledge each one as they roll around in my life. It doesn’t do us any good to stifle what we …

The 'Act' of Forgiveness

How do we forgive? I seem to have forgotten because this past week I was triggered twice and found myself engulfed by emotions that had not been there 30 seconds before the incidents.  And, I struggled by first reacting and then instinctively trying to push the thoughts out of my mind. I knew I needed to forgive and wanted to forgive but the angry thoughts swirled in my mind and the more I tried to get rid of them, the more they kept resurfacing. It was out of control, and I was not handling things well as I spouted off to my husband how I felt. I thought I knew better and also believed I could handle these unexpected triggers. But obviously, I was wrong. I immediately recognized that my emotions had a hold on me and were pulling me into an unhealthy state of mind. I asked myself, who was in charge at this moment? Well, it obviously wasn’t me. The Bible talks about our need to forgive, because our Heavenly Father knows that …

The difference between giving and pleasing

Recently, a group of women met in my home for a time of fellowship and  the topic of our conversation was about the difference between giving and pleasing. I started out by asking this question: Is there a difference between giving and pleasing? Some thought there was a difference, while others looked puzzled. In my life, I did not understand that there was a difference between the two, because they both look the same on the outside. But there is big difference as they each come from a different motivation of the heart and knowing the difference will help us put in place the proper boundaries that we need to stay on track with our priorities and what is really important to us.  I remember years ago, when my kids were still in high school, receiving a vision or mental picture of my life. I was holding a basket of flowers in my hand as I was walking on a beach covered in small to medium-sized stones.  As I walked down this beach I was …

Getting a grip on our value to God

For years, I have struggled with this verse in the Bible: “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’” Matthew 16:24 I interpreted this verse to mean that if you saw someone in need, you were to drop what you were doing and take care of their needs first, even if there was something important you were doing. In other words, that other person’s need was more important than my needs, or the needs of my family. I thought living this way would make me a happier and more joyful person because back in my day JOY meant — Jesus, Others and You — in that order!  But years of functioning this way did not produce joy in my life and in fact it became ugly. Between working my part-time job that included shift work, caring for my family and serious health issues, I continued to step over my needs, and the needs of my family, to encourage and help …

The struggle to shine

For years, I struggled with an unbalanced view of the Christian faith. In the Gospels, Jesus promised that when we took on His yoke, it would be easy and light: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest . . . For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:29 – 30 There are many things that can make a yoke a burden such as too much weight. Sometimes it becomes lopsided and the burden is distributed unevenly and it starts to wear on one side causing painful, chafing sores. I think many of us have an imbalanced view of the Gospel and because of that we have turned Jesus’ light yoke into a burden. The message of the Gospel is that we are all sinners and that Christ came to take the punishment for our sin. This is an incredible message of hope. But as important as this message is, if we only focus on this one aspect, it can cause an imbalance. …

Your secrets hold you back

Our secrets keep us in the dark and hold us back from truly being who God wants us to be. We can’t truly shine in the world when our secrets repeatedly drag us down and even restrict us from moving forward in our lives.  The shame and guilt wrapped around these secrets keep us in hiding. Sure, we can wiggle around a bit and shuffle forward, but then end up taking two steps backwards because the power of an untold secret or sin keeps us glued to one spot. This is why the Bible talks about confessing our sins to one another. Because what holds us back is the fear that others will find out and Satan uses that to keep us hiding in the dark: “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. “ James 5:16 NLT This verse says that even though we have confessed our sin to God, it is in our best interests to tell at least one person our secret sin …

Balancing out the message of the Gospel in your life

For so long I misunderstood the message of salvation and sharing it with another person has been difficult for me. I struggle with the right words to say even though I know them by heart, because I had things twisted and turned around in my mind.  The message of the gospel hadn’t balanced itself out in my life. I was putting too much weight on one truth and not enough weight on another equally important truth. Once I balanced it all out, it started making sense to me. I have been a Christian for many years and I know that God loves me and that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross closed the gap between God and me.  But my life was riddled with insignificance and I fell short of loving, giving and caring for others the way I wanted too. I tripped over jealousy, comparing myself to others and a selfishness that tied me to the fear of not being good enough and the ensuing rejection that was guaranteed after my attempts to be included. …

My biggest struggle

My greatest struggle over the years has been never feeling quite ‘good enough’ for anything, sports, art classes or trying out for the school musical. I suspect there are a few faces that cross your mind when I talk about women we have compared ourselves to over the years. Even as I talk about this subject, names and images of girls I compared my self over the years are popping up in my mind. I was never good enough to be included in the popular circle of girls who had it all together.  Where their looks landed a leading role in every musical, made every basketball team, and also attracted the most popular girls and guys to their social circles. My main nemesis was Susie who had different names over the years, but she was always there and I always compared myself to her no matter how often her face changed. Picture yourself caught in a mousetrap, and you are that mouse struggling to get out of the trap. This image gives us a clear …

What is the strongest thought you have about yourself?

What is the strongest thought that you have of yourself and what thoughts are rolling around in the back of your mind supporting it? Over the past years the strongest thoughts and opinions that I had of myself was that I couldn’t do anything and I had all sorts of excuses: There was the comparison trap. Susie was better at this than me. In fact, almost everyone was more capable and gifted than me and comparing myself to them just made things worse. I don’t have everything together in my life right now to tackle this. I thought I needed to be perfect, before I could accomplish anything. There has been too much struggle and rejection. If others don’t think I have what it takes, then who am I to think I can. I keep trying, but people keep getting in my way. I can’t do this anymore.  In my mind I was never enough or up for the challenge. Comparing myself to others and being directed by other’s rejection is what defined me.    Everything …

Where are your thoughts taking you?

My greatest struggle over the years has been that deep-rooted feeling that I was ‘not good enough.’ Feeling and believing this way led me to some very unhealthy places. I became lethargic and allowed circumstances to roll over me because I believed I was a door mat. People were always going to wipe their feet on me, because that’s who I was. Because I was thinking I wasn’t good enough, it brought along feelings that I can’t do this. I have failed before, so I will probably fail again. The mind is the battlefield, and your life is always moving in the direction of your strongest thoughts. You become who you think you are. The Bible says that as a man thinks so is he (Proverbs 23:7). In other words, our thinking becomes our reality. If you believe you are a victim, always blaming outside circumstances, you will stay a victim. Yet the power to change is inside you, but if you believe it isn’t, then you are trapped. When your mind is consumed by …

Tearing down the hostile walls

At times, my soft spot for a particular person shows up when I should be offended, as they unexpectedly direct their anger at me. Because I am starting to realize that behind the angry words is a hurting, wounded person. And through this, I am learning to find my soft spot that overlooks and pushes through their angry energy that pops up out of nowhere directed at me or more often past me, when they’re actually angry at someone else, but I was in the way.   I am learning not to take it personally, because it is not me they are furious at. And, as I peek around my shield I try to reveal my heart for them and be sensitive to what might be the root cause of their anger, that often they can’t explain. This happened to me recently. And in this situation involving a young woman, I turned and faced her trying to understand the reason for her pain. I pushed back the offense and judgement that was rising up in me and …

Denying yourself doesn’t mean depriving yourself

It began in a very difficult season of my life several years back. My physical health was deteriorating and my emotional and mental well-being was in a dark, downward spiral.  Tough circumstances at work and hurtful accusations that sent me reeling kept me emotionally drained and teetering on despair. How could this be happening to me?  It was the worst of times but ended up being the best because out of those dark, depressing days came some extraordinary changes in my life. While people were beating me down, God started the process of changing the way I thought of myself as these difficulties revealed the fragile, wavering opinion I had of myself.  I believed that I wasn’t good at anything. The gift in these painful circumstances was my desperation and after saying no to several opportunities to get help during that difficult period, I finally said yes and took a course that woke me up. At this course, I heard things like you need to love and value yourself. People were telling me that the …

The journey from your earthly father to your Heavenly Father

Recently, I had an appointment with a young lady. Halfway through, my daughter arrived bringing me a coffee and joined us for the last half of the appointment. I love this young gal, and she obviously felt the freedom to express her thoughts on various world views. But the conversation was starting to become intense. Something had triggered her and I wasn’t able to figure out what it was or why. In the middle of this, she abruptly stopped and said, “I would give anything to have the relationship you and your daughter have.” Then she started to talk about her own father and it was then I realized she was talking about the relationship my daughter had with her dad. My daughter joked about her dad and how he likes to tease her. My daughter loves her dad, and they have a good relationship. I had found the trigger and the explanation why the conversation had become so intense. I looked at her and asked what the relationship with her father was like. She …

Lost dog, lost sheep, lost people

A few nights ago my daughter parked her car in a bay next to the park where she plays soccer. She opened the door and a small gray dog jumped into her vehicle. She noticed that its two front paws had blood all over them, and they were still bleeding.  She felt torn because her game was about to start and her team needed her that night. She picked up the dog and asked a lady in a yard nearby if she had seen the dog before. The woman replied that she had seen it running around the bay before. So my daughter placed the dog back on the street in hopes that the owner would find it. Since our dog Sugar had just passed two weeks ago, I wondered if this was a sign from God that this dog was to be ours, as it didn’t have a collar. First thing in the morning armed with a blanket I drove to the park to find this dog, rescue it, take it to a clinic …

Orar como un hijo de Dios

English version: Praying like a child of God He tenido muchos pensamientos acerca de la oración últimamente. Y, me he dado cuenta de una cosa que a menudo uno  se queda bloqueado y que está pidiendo, pidiendo y suplicando a Dios en busca de respuestas, especialmente cuando nos enfrentamos a una situación desesperada en nuestras vidas o la de un ser querido. Creo que hay un tiempo para buscar a Dios en busca de respuestas e incluso milagros como Hannah que derramó su corazón delante de Dios de rodillas llorando, agitada a veces en su desesperación por un niño porque ella era estéril. En estos momentos, el Espíritu Santo se acoplará con la oración y la intercesión. Esta ha sido mi experiencia. Durante los primeros años de nuestro matrimonio vivia  doblada de rodillas orando a Dios, pidiendo y pidiendole un hijo prolongandose esta oracion por un largo períodode tiempo. Llegando ya al punto del desespero. Pero es necesario que haya un equilibrio y parte de esto incluye un cambio de actitud, porque creo que es …

The Choices We Make

I miss my dog Sugar. She was 14 years old and passed a week ago.  My greatest comfort has been envisioning a creamy white pup running through fields chasing rabbits. It was her happy place and on most of our walks over the years a rabbit usually showed up just around a corner or ran across the street in front of her to entice her. I hope there is a doggy heaven, that dogs and pets alike may be guaranteed a heavenly home because of their innocence and inability to make human choices.  They make choices but it’s limited to chasing a rabbit or not, begging for food or escaping the back yard into the neighborhood and beyond. Unlike humans, animals do not have the same understanding that we have.  Our Creator gave us a free will to make our own choices — good, bad and ugly — and as a reward we get to own our mistakes, failures and successes. We get to take responsibility for the good and bad. We may want to …

Is it time to step into your dream?

I am a fairly optimistic person and at times ideas flood my mind and I have said to myself and others “anything is possible.” I feel a dream rising in me like a bubble and I can’t stop it! It’s just there! When these thoughts overtake me, I find myself incredibly happy!  The ideas and the possibilities are endless. This is what energizes me and propels me forward.  Over the years dreams and desires have stirred within me only to be overtaken by work, family, health etc. But, the Bible tells us: “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.  It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain.” Hebrews 6:19 Hope is the confident expectation of what God has promised and its strength is in His faithfulness. Although my desires and dreams have been dampened and squashed at times, over the years they continually resurfaced and reminded me that they haven’t gone away. I believe these desires and dreams, that refuse to leave, are often put there by God. It’s …

Is eternity in your heart?

Recently my niece, who has been dealing with cancer for the past two years, sent me this text: “In my dark times, I cry and ask for help but overall I am just trying to put one step in front of the other, trust in God and be grateful for each day. That is all I can do and need to do.” Afterwards, I thought that is really all any of us can do, whether we are dealing with a life threatening illness like my niece or day to day stuff such as kids and money we need to put our confidence in God. When we worry about tomorrow, our future remains unsettled in our hearts.  The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 3:11 that God “has set eternity in their heart.”  One meaning for ‘eternity’ is future. There is a God-given awareness inside each of us that there is more to life than what we are currently experiencing in this unstable world. This verse says humans operate differently because we have a sense of this eternity …

What it means to go the extra mile

For years my life revolved around how people hurt and wronged me but the light has recently been turned on exposing areas where I may have offended or hurt others in the past.  As God revealed this to me, I have done my best to make amends and it has been hard work. It’s never easy admitting that I was the one who erred, and I was the one doing the offending. It is all about going that “extra mile” in our Christian walk. Though the phrase going the extra mile is in our modern vernacular, in fact it has a Biblical root and comes from a statement Jesus said to His disciples: “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. “ (Matthew 5:41) In this verse, Jesus was describing the practice of “impressment” that was common at that time. According to Roman law, any Roman soldier could order a Jewish civilian to carry the soldier’s baggage, often his heavy armor, for one Roman mile  (1.45 km). Obviously, the Jews …

Ferdelance Pit Viper

Venom or victory

It has become clear to me that forgiveness is a practice.  It is something you just do when you recognize resentment, anger or even hatred building in your life towards another person. Each of us must come to that place where we recognize that these symptoms debilitate and dis-empower us from becoming the best version of ourselves for the glory of God.  Forgiveness is not about the other person, it is always about what is best for you. When we are bitten by the venomous snake of unforgiveness, it sucks out our potential and purpose. Left unchecked, its poison will travel through the veins to our heart and once there we lose sight of everything that is important to us. The people we love end up getting contaminated by this venomous reptile, as we slither around with a forked tongue spewing and releasing venom onto our loved ones. Forgiveness needs to become a practice in our lives. We need to determine in advance, when offended we will forgive.  Sometimes it won’t be easy and will …

Luchando para liberarnos de las redes de la comparación

English version: Struggling to free yourself from the web of comparison Creo que decimos  “ lo siento ” muy  a menudo. A algunas personas no les puede gustar su opinión, pero siempre y cuando no sean opiniones duras o destructivas no hay razón para disculparse. Sin embargo, muchos de nosotros nos disculpamos por las cosas más tontas. Dejemos de decir “  lo siento “  si no tenemos una razón reall para hacerlo. Pregúntese si usted realmente necesita disculparse o son estas palabras otra forma de menospreciarse a sí mismo? Guarde su disculpa para cosas que de verdad usted realmente ha echado a perder por su mala actitud y ahora ya no tiene otra alternativa. Hagalo cuando se desea reconoce el error que ha cometido. Entonces es ahi cuando te disculpas y dices las  palabras, “ lo siento “. Pero junto con esto tenemos que entrenarnos para dejar de decir “ lo siento “ por las cosas de las que no somos responsables.. Por qué hacemos esto? Tenemos que entender que la raíz de disculparnos  por …

Breathing life into your dry bones

How far can you go without breathing? In reality, you are breathing but sometimes it feels like you have stopped breathing or does it feel more like your living in the valley of dry bones where numbness has set in and you are clattering through the day just barely surviving? If I pay attention in these moments I notice that my breathing is shallow and I wonder if at times I have actually been holding my breath. I suspect that is exactly what happens as I lose myself in the course of my day full of  ‘to do lists.’ And, I am sure this happens to many of us. There is a small group of women who meet regularly on my deck to do some gentle stretching.  Each of us has tightness issues, and we have greatly benefited from this weekly routine. Sometimes between stretches we lay on our backs and notice our breathing and listen to the birds singing in the yard. Often during these times a gentle breeze will blow over us like …

Praying like a child of God

Español: Orar como un hijo de Dios I have had many thoughts about prayer lately.  And, I have noticed one thing I often get stuck in and that is asking, begging and pleading to God for answers especially when facing desperate circumstances in my life or that of a loved one. I do believe there is a time for seeking God for answers and even miracles like Hannah who poured out her heart before God on her knees crying, shaking at times in her desperation for a child because she was barren. In these moments, the Holy Spirit will engage with our prayers and intercession. I have been there. During the early years of our marriage I found myself bent over in prayer asking, requesting and pleading to God for a child and this went on for a long period. I was desperate. But there needs to be a balance and part of this includes a shift in attitude because I believe it is possible to block blessings, provisions, answers by getting stuck in prayers …

La llama de la fe

English version: The flame of faith Cuando se trata de orar por un milagro, la duda y el miedo círculan en mi mente con pensamientos de que no puedo hacer esto y mi fé inmediatamente se escurre. Sin embargo, mi habilidad para orar con confianza y claridad para los milagros parece posible hasta que en realidad estoy frente a una situación que me parece imposible y a continuación, la duda inunda mi mente. La montaña de lo imposible se apodera de mí bloqueando mi fé y mi esperanza va disminuyendo. ¿Por qué incluso intentar orar o creer en lo imposible? Como resultado, yo bajo mis expectativas y me digo, tal vez la próxima vez seré capaz de creer por un milagro, pero no por ahora. . . no esta vez. No es que mis esperanzas sean demasiado altas y que yo no pueda llegar a ellas; es que son demasiado bajas y mi fé lo es tambien Pero hay algo que he empezado a hacer recientemente que parece estar ayudandome y la quiero compartir contigo: …

Can anger be a road map to a better life?

Anger is a powerful emotion and can pull us into situations we are not prepared to deal with.  We are not in control. Anger can map out a direction and lifestyle we did not ask for or want.  It just takes us there! We get angry about relationships and our circumstances at home or work. But anger can quickly get out of control. It is like an anchor attached to a rope that slips out of our hands before we can get a good grip on it. Now a lot of Christians think it is a sin to be angry. But the Apostle Paul says that we can be angry and not sin: 26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, (Ephesians 4:26 NKV) Anger is an emotion and sometimes things happen that are clearly unfair or simply wrong, and we are allowed to get angry. But we must catch the last part of this verse when Paul says don’t stay angry. Don’t let the sun go …

The flame of faith

Español: La llama de la fe When it comes to praying for a miracle, doubt and fear circle my mind with thoughts I can’t do this and my faith drains away. Yet my ability to pray confidently and clearly for miracles seems possible until I am actually faced with a seemingly impossible situation, then doubts flood my mind. The mountain of the impossible looms over me blocking my faith and diminishing my hope.  Why even try to pray or believe for the impossible? As a result, I lower my expectations and say to myself, maybe next time I will be able to believe for a miracle but not now . . . not this time. It’s not that my hopes are too high and I fail to reach them; it’s that they’re too low and I do. But there is something I have started doing recently that seems to help. Whether your hopes and expectations for a miracle are high or low start envisioning a candle burning brightly and steadily inside you. And let this …

Struggling to free yourself from the web of comparison

Español: Luchando para liberarnos de las redes de la comparación I think we say sorry to often. Others may not like your opinion, but provided you weren’t harsh or mean in what you said, there is no reason to apologize. Yet many of us apologize for the silliest things.  Stop saying sorry for no real reason. Ask yourself if you really need to apologize or are those words another way of belittling yourself? Save your apology for the real stuff when you have really blown it and now you have to own it.  Do it when you want to run and hide or avoid acknowledging the mistake you made. That’s when you apologize and say those words, I’m sorry. But along with this we need to train ourselves to stop saying I’m sorry for things we are not responsible for which is also backwards. So why do we do this? We need to understand the root of our apologizing for everything may have been deeply ingrained in us from childhood. It is often rooted in …

Breaking free from the chains of regret

Many of us are weighed down by regrets from the past and the longer we stay chained to these regrets, the harder it is to break free from them.  We lose our freedom in Christ because holding onto past regrets links us up to self-condemnation and self- hatred. The Bible says that in Christ we are freed from all condemnation (Romans 8:1) and there is also no separation from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39). We must learn to love ourselves in the same way God loves us. The longer we hold on to this chain and refuse to forgive ourselves for past mistakes and failures, the heavier the chain becomes. So how do we free ourselves from these chains that weigh so heavily upon us, that they almost take our breath away at times? It starts by accepting the fact that we all make mistakes. It is part of being human.  And then forgiving ourselves if needed. If we don’t, it will inevitably lead to condemnation. Lana Vawser, a prophet and teacher, says it’s …

Shine brighter!

One of our greatest fears is that we will be appear selfish to others and mar the perception of a selfless, self-sacrificing woman who puts the needs of their loved ones and ‘others’ before her own needs. We are more concerned about the outward appearance of our cup with its chips and cracks from service than the fullness of our cup inside where the water level is dangerously low, barely covering the bottom of our cup. We have been culturally programmed, even in church settings, that being a good mother or Christian woman means you are always available for the needs of others before your own.  We don’t want to mar our outward appearance of having it all together, but inside we feel empty. I have taken great comfort this past year as I began to understand what Christ meant when He said: “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:32) The definition of the word draw in the Greek means to pull or drag, …

The Armour of Perfection

I still find myself afraid to make a mistake. I don’t like looking foolish or weak in the eyes of others and in the end I find myself lost in a forest of perfection, feeling small, insignificant and unworthy as I look at people who have their act together. For so long the message of the world has been that doing everything right will make you happy and that true happiness lies in doing and saying the right thing all the time.  As Koren Motekaitis says, “Chasing perfection is exhausting” because we think the approval of others will make us feel better about ourselves. It won’t, because we can never be perfect. The opposite is what happens though, shame shows up when we make a mistake and fall short of our hopes to be truly loved and accepted. It puts us under pressure to be someone we are not. We work so hard at not being judged by others and end up feeling worse instead of better as we fall short again and again. We …

Are you infected with the ‘disease to please’?

There are many physical diseases in this world and in the spiritual realm there is one particular disease that will kill, destroy and eat you up in a very short time. The ‘disease to please’ ruled my life for many years and if I have learned anything, repeatedly putting the wants and needs of others before my own leads to spiritual death that sucks the joy and peace right out of you. Why? Because many of us misunderstand what Christ meant when He said “deny yourself and take up your cross and follow me.” Somewhere along the way our minds twisted the truth of Christ’s words. And as we misinterpret Christ’s command to deny ourselves an infection sets in, and we easily fall into the trap of gaining peoples’ approval through our actions. The infection is called people-pleasing. We start to believe that other people matter more than we do and that we are to live humble, service-orientated lives because what we want doesn’t matter. Geri Scazzero is a pastor’s wife and in her book …