Promised Land Living: Choosing Between God’s Energy and Unholy Energy

holy_unholy_energyI recently wrote a series about Promised Land Living. To help explain my points, I included graphics showing how we have to choose between pulling in God’s holy energy or allowing Satan to push in unholy energy. Today’s graphic zooms in on that part of the illustration.

I received the following question from a reader via email:

When you talk about unholy or God’s energy on your blogs, what does that mean? Please explain.” ~ Walking in the Now

Because God is holy, He is only capable to giving holy energy, such as love, joy, and peace. God gives freely without pushing that holy energy into anyone. So, while he makes His holy energy available, He will never “force” you to receive it. If you are a Christian, you have access to all of the love, joy, peace, and contentment you could ever want and more, but you must reach for it to receive it. This requires effort. If you do nothing, then you (sadly) won’t receive the holy energy that God offers you.

Unlike God, Satan is no gentleman. He actively pushes unholy energy into us, such as anger, bitterness, and strife. The unholy energy he offers is the opposite of God’s. Here’s a rundown of fruit of the spirit (holy energy) that God offers versus its opposite (unholy energy), which Satan pushes:

Holy Energy Unholy Energy
Love Selfishness
Joy Despair
Peace Discontentment
Patience Impatience
Kindness Rudeness
Goodness Evil
Faithfulness Disunity
Gentleness Harshness
Self-control Overindulgence

This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but I hope this helps explain what I mean by holy versus unholy energy.

In our flesh, our default setting is passivity. We don’t “pull” holy energy from God. Instead, we passively allow Satan to push all of this unholy/negative energy into our souls and then wonder why we feel so miserable all the time. On her TV show, Enjoying Everyday Life, Joyce Meyer words it this way: “Stop letting Satan use your mind as a garbage dump.” I’ll explain more about this in my next blog entry.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace receiving holy energy freely offered from God but also Satan pushing unholy energy. She is wearing the helmet of salvation, which enables her to send unholy energy to the cross. The helmet of salvation limits unholy thoughts pushed in & digested. Courtesy Grace Daniels and Bitmoji.]

More Reflections after Weeks of Illness

life_is_hardContinued from here.

When I was in physical pain, it felt like it would never end. During the 17 days of illness, it felt like I always had been – and always would be – in pain. I used to feel that way when I was in therapy for the childhood abuse as well. I couldn’t remember that I had ever known joy or believe that I would ever know it again.

I kept trying to remind myself that what I was going through was temporary. When I couldn’t believe that, I broadened the perspective to this life being temporary. Even though I felt every minute of pain across those 17 days (and across years of healing from the trauma of childhood abuse), this temporal experience in this one life on earth is just a drop in the bucket of eternity. I cannot allow the screaming of my flesh in this moment to drown out God’s truths of eternity.

I was also ashamed of some of my poor behaviors when I was sick. Ever since I did the Love Dare to my husband in 2014, I have been mindful that I choose my behavior. It doesn’t matter how I feel — I can choose love, and I can choose grace. That’s not what I chose at various moments when I was sick (although I certainly made imperfect progress from prior illnesses). No matter how much progress I make or how much success I have experienced over a long period of time, I remain vulnerable to allowing my flesh to drown out the Spirit’s leading.

On Joyce Meyer’s TV show, Enjoying Everyday Life, she shared a story about a man who was facing the death of a loved one. His prayer was, “Help me do this right.” He knew that in his flesh, he would be unable to stay faithful to God, so He needed God to show him … and empower him … to do it.

That will become my prayer the next time I am sick (and was for the last few days after I heard this) because I am painfully aware that, in my flesh, I don’t have a chance of remaining faithful to God. Regardless of my best intentions, I cannot do it on my own. The cries of my flesh are too strong, and in the turmoil of physical pain, I have trouble hearing God’s still, small voice guiding me through “doing this right.” However, I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. God gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Through God, I can “do this right.”

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace lying on a coach with her hand on her head above the words, “Life is hard.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

Reflections after Weeks of Illness

i_cant_evenI am writing this blog entry of Day 18 of being sick, and today is the first day I am feeling hopeful that I will fully recover and resume my fast-paced life. While my body is still healing, the “heaviness” of illness has lifted, so I want to reflect upon lessons I have learned during this season of illness so I don’t forget them in times of health.

All of us wrestle with the pull of our flesh (our natural inclinations) versus the Holy Spirit’s leading. I am disciplined about engaging in the seven fundamental practices regularly, which helps make the Spirit’s voice “louder” and drown out the cravings of the flesh. However, when I am sick, I am unable to engage in some of those spiritual disciplines regularly.

As I am in this transitional state of moving from sick to well, I am much more acutely aware of just how “loud” my flesh becomes when I am unable to engage in the seven fundamental practices. The pain in my body was drowning out the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit, making it much more difficult for me to listen to God’s voice.

Throughout my illness, I forced myself to say multiple times a day: “I know that God loves me. I know that He is good. I know that He is here with me right now. And I know that He is in control.” The longer I was in physical pain, the less I believed this. On some days, I could not say those words without crying, and I now realize that my tears were an expression of my internal battle to believe God despite everything my body was “screaming” in my physical pain.

I always engage in praise and worship before writing for this blog. Tonight, this experience was such a joy, and yet for the last 17 days, praise & worship was a chore that I did not enjoy. I did not “feel” the Spirit’s presence as I did today.

This helped me realize that loving God with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength is not a feeling – it’s a choice. I did not feel like I was getting anything out of praise & worship while I was sick, but I still chose to do it anyhow because I love God. Perhaps that’s what Bible means by a “sacrifice of praise” – when we choose to honor God, even when we really don’t feel like it, because we love Him more than what we prefer to do or not do.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace lying on the floor under the words, “I can’t even.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

Notes to Myself for the Next Time I am Sick

cheer_upContinued from here.

In my last blog entry, I shared that I keep a journal (as recommended by Priscilla Shirer) in which I write down helpful tips for keeping the faith. Here’s what I added to help me the next time I am sick and having trouble standing my ground in my faith:

WHEN YOU ARE SICK:

Satan knows this is your Achilles’ heel. He is powerful but has no authority over you. He will try to deceive you that you cannot access God’s joy because you are sick – cannot sing praise & worship or go to church or Bible study. THIS IS A LIE!

God is inside you, and He IS joy, so you have access to unlimited joy at all times, even when you are sick.

Humble yourself. Satan will tempt you to grow larger – to become full of yourself because you feel sick. GROW SMALLER. The Kingdom of Heaven is within you. Grow smaller to access joy, peace, and contentment, even when you are sick.

Fight back: It is written…

  • Greater is the one who is in me than he that is in the world. ~ I John 4:4
  • No weapon forged against me will prevail. ~ Is. 54:17
  • In this world, I will have trouble. But take heart! Jesus has overcome the world. ~ John 16:33

This is a test! You are being tested in preparation for being promoted.

GOD IS BIGGER.

Satan is lying to you. DO NOT BE DECEIVED. He has no power over you. The grave is empty. He is a defeated foe.

This season is temporary and WILL END. God is with you. Satan has no power over you. The grave is EMPTY! Big tests come before big promotions. You are surrounded by songs of deliverance.

The next time I am sick, I will read the notes I wrote to myself so I will remember how to fight back. And then, perhaps the juice that comes out of the squeezed fruit will be sweeter.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace on a sticky note with the words, “Cheer up” and a smiley face. Courtesy Bitmoji.]

Being “Squeezed” by Your Achilles’ Heel

sickContinued from here.

I wish I could say things got better after Day 11, but they didn’t. Day 12 put me completely over the edge when my teenage son was diagnosed with the flu. I did not handle that information well.

On her TV show, Enjoying Everyday Life,  Joyce Meyer talks about how we don’t know what’s inside a fruit until it is squeezed. The fruit might look good from the outside, but it’s only when you squeeze it that you learn whether that fruit contains sweet or bitter juice. Let’s just say that the juice that came out of me on Day 12 was not sweet.

I don’t know why battling illness is such a trigger for me, only that it is. I am grateful that God understands why I react the way I do and is not perplexed by it. Perhaps you are like my son and go with the flow when you are physically ill. If so, you likely have something else – some other life event – that shakes you up and squeezes out juice that isn’t sweet. Regardless of what your Achilles’ heel is, you can rest assured that Satan knows what it is and will squeeze you at just the right time to get the worst possible reaction out of you. When that happens, here’s what you need to remember…

God already knows what’s going to come out of you when life squeezes you, and He loves you, anyhow. One reason He allows us to be squeezed is so we can become aware of areas in which we need work. He also allows these painful seasons to provide us with opportunities to grow. If I had not gone through that horrible day, I never would have known that God and I still had more work to do in that area.

One thing that helped me get back on track was reading my journal. In one of her Bible studies, Priscilla Shirer recommended writing down the things that God teaches you in a journal so you don’t have to keep “relearning” the same things. I have been doing this for over a year, and this offered me a lifeline when I thought I was going to lose my mind on Day 11. As I read through my journal, I remembered various ways to fight back and find my footing on God’s solid rock. Later, when I was in a calmer place, I added information to read the next time I am sick so I don’t have to start from scratch. I’ll share that information in tomorrow’s blog entry.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace’s head on a pillow under the words, “I’m sick.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

Imperfect Progress

I shared in my last two blog entries that I have been dealing with a bad cold. Per my doctor, that turned out to be the flu followed by a sinus infection. Oh, joy!

The day after I wrote the last two blog entries (Day 10 of feeling ill), I fell … HARD. I awoke to so much pain that I could barely sit vertically during my quiet time with God. My quiet time wound up being fairly short – a “Help me, God” prayer following by lying down and listening to songs about how God is always with me. I became self-absorbed with all of my physical pain and ANGRY … only I didn’t have anyone to aim my anger toward. Not God. Not my son for giving me the flu. Not my husband, who was already doing so much to help me. So, I had all this raw emotion but nowhere for it to go.

Some of that raw emotion spewed out onto my doctor, which I’m not proud of. And then, after I got home, I sobbed … and sobbed … and sobbed. Where was that person who had just written about experiencing storms without darkness?

Thankfully, I am reading Lysa Terkeurst’s book, Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions, which talks about imperfect progress. Our walk with God is not linear – we are going to make mistakes and fall … and sometimes fall hard, as I did. However, we get back up and continuing walking, which is progress … not “perfect progress,” but progress nonetheless.

Even as I was “coming unglued” over my physical pain, I remembered that God loves me, is good, is with me, and is in control. I also knew His mercies are new every morning, so no matter how badly I messed up today, God would give me the grace to continue my walk with Him again tomorrow. I also became acutely aware that I am unable to continue to walk in my own strength – without God’s intervention, I’ll fall again just as hard.

So, I am now writing to you on Day 11 with no guilt. No question that I was guilty yesterday. I blew it in so many ways that I cannot even count. However, Jesus’ blood was enough to cover all of my sins, and so I stand before God today just as righteous (through Jesus, of course) as if I had lived yesterday perfectly. That’s grace … and that’s imperfect progress.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cover of Lysa Terkeurst’s Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions Courtesy Amazon.com]

Darkness in Stormy Seasons of Life Dispelled through Love

Continued from here.

The perspective I shared in my last blog entry was not always the case for me. For decades, my stormy seasons were also very dark. I have lived through many dark monsoons, and I questioned whether God even cared.

I was severely abused as a child and grew up into an emotionally shattered woman. I hated myself and could not believe that anyone else could ever really love me. After all, I saw nothing in me worth loving, so how could I believe that anyone else would see anything to love, either?

My self-hatred manifested itself in numerous ways – an eating disorder, suicidal urges, self-injury, intense bouts of anxiety, panic attacks, nightmares … I was one hot mess. I didn’t actually believe that God loved me. I thought I was an “add on” – that Jesus was already dying for someone else, so he tacked me on for the sake of efficiency. I could not/would not receive God’s love, and that made my life dark.

My life was radically transformed when I chose to believe that God loves me. That one choice changed everything and has forever removed the experience of dark and stormy seasons in life. While I still experience storms – and even heavy storms, they are no longer dark.

Hawk Nelson has a song out that I encourage you to meditate on: Live Like You’re Loved. What would change in your life if you really believed that God loves you … just as you are?

Here’s what it did for me: I became able to give grace to others as I received God’s grace. I was able to love others as I realized that God’s love for me is more than enough – that I could not use it all up if I tried. I started learning from my mistakes rather than defining myself by them. I developed hope that anchored me in light – no matter how stormy my life gets, I know that I know that I know that God is in control, He is with me, He loves me, and He is good. This sliver in time is not the end of the story.

Believing and receiving God’s love for you is the way out of the darkness. Life can get stormy, but it doesn’t have to grow dark. The light of the world lives inside you, so darkness has no power over you. Start living like you are loved, and you’ll never again have to experience hopelessness.

[Graphic: Cover of Hawk Nelson’s Diamonds CD, which includes the song Live Like You’re Loved. Courtesy Amazon.com.]

Light during the Storms of Life

stormI am living in a storm right now. I have been sick with a fever, congestion, and cough for 10 days, causing me to miss two weeks of church, including the last session for a Bible study that I have led for over a decade and am stepping down from leading. My throat has been too sore to do much praying aloud, and I have been unable to sing praise and worship songs to God. I haven’t had the energy to study my Bible as much as I would like. In fact, my quiet time with God over the past few days has mostly been me lying down, imagining my head in His lap, as I listen to songs reminding me that God is always with me, no matter where I am.

On top of this, my professional life is unstable, to say the least. I don’t know how much longer I will be employed or where I will go if/when my current employment ends. Many people I care about have already lost their jobs. Meanwhile, my husband just recently changed jobs, which has been a great move professionally, but he is in the transitional phase that comes with any new job, causing him stress. I have received more contact from my son’s school over the past week than I would like … and so it goes.

Right now, my life is stormy. I cannot see very far in front of me because the rain is so heavy, and I must rely on God to lead every step because I cannot see what is ahead. Nevertheless, my life is not dark because God’s hope has become an anchor for my soul. God’s hope shines light, so I don’t have to sit in the dark during the storms of life. I can have hope, no matter how stormy my life gets, because I know that God loves me, is good, is here with me, and is in control over my life. His purpose and plan for me are good, so I will not fear because my God is with me.

If I keep my eyes focused on the storms in my life right now, all seems hopeless. However, because I choose to focus my eyes on my God instead, I know that the story is not over yet. Yes, this season of life is difficult, but God is working it all for good. I trust Him, and that shines light into my storm.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace holding an umbrella in a storm with the waters rising up to her waist. Courtesy Bitmoji.]

Promised Land Living: Helmet of Salvation Example

Let me give you a personal example of how to use the Helmet of Salvation to hold every thought captive to Christ. Because of the childhood abuse, I grew up believing that I was fundamentally unlovable. I thought that if anyone ever saw the “real me,” he or she would run screaming from the room. I viewed myself as loathsome, so I could not fathom anyone else finding anything lovable about me. I built much of my identity around this lie.

God’s Word says the complete opposite of what I believed about myself. It says that God loves me lavishly, that His love is unfailing, and that Jesus found me worth dying for, even while I was still mired in my sin.

I had to decide which to believe – the lies that seemed to be supported by many years of child abuse or God’s Word. Once I chose to believe God’s Word (even though I really didn’t believe it), I put on the Helmet of Salvation and chose to believe God’s Word over my own feelings and past experiences. Whenever Satan tried to push another “I’m unlovable” thought, I fought back with God’s Word. As I persisted in rejecting thoughts that ran counter to God’s Word, the unholy energy stopped poisoning my soul, and I grew to believe God. I began living like someone who is loved.

In her book Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free from Spiritual Strongholds, Beth Moore has already done the work for you of locating numerous Bible verses that address common lies and turning them into prayers. This book includes a chapter entitled Overcoming the Insecurity of Feeling Unloved, which you can use to fight the lie that you are unlovable. The book also includes other very helpful topics, such as overcoming unbelief, feelings of rejection, addiction, food-related strongholds, feelings of guilt, despair resulting from loss, depression, and sexual strongholds. I have found her format to be helpful in doing the same work for topics that she did not include, such as overcoming anxiety.

God’s Word is truth, so whatever you believe that runs contrary to what the Bible says is a lie. As you choose to meditate on truth and reject any thought that runs contrary to that truth, you put on the Helmet of Salvation and protect your soul from Satan’s poison. This is one of the keys to Promised Land Living.

[Graphic: Cover of Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free from Spiritual Strongholds. Courtesy Amazon.com.]

Promised Land Living: Holding Every Thought Captive to Christ

thoughts_captive_christContinued from here.

Let’s take a closer look at what has changed in Grace as she becomes a disciple of Christ. The key is that she has put on the Helmet of Salvation. She no longer passively receives whatever garbage Satan is trying to push into her head. Instead, she filters every thought and rejects each one that stands in opposition to God’s Word.

To be able to do this, you must know God’s Word. That means you need study the Bible so you can learn what God’s perspective is on whatever you face in your life. His ways are higher than our ways and often don’t make logical sense. We must choose to believe the Bible over our past experiences, what “looks right,” or what other people tell us. Either we believe God or we don’t. If we believe God, then we will reject any thought that runs counter to His Word.

Once we know what God’s Word says, we must choose to reject any thoughts that oppose it. For example, when someone hurts me, my natural reaction is to think and say negative things about that person. However, Jesus told us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. If I am passive, I will think negatively about those who hurt me, and that negativity will grow into bitterness. I must actively choose not to stew in my anger but, instead, pray for those who hurt me. As I pray for my enemies, I send the negative energy to the cross and only allow God’s positive energy to flow through me.

Because I am not allowing the negative energy to enter, I don’t digest it, so it does not make my soul sick. I then have less trouble behaving honorably toward my enemies because I have less negative energy trying to push its way out. While this process is not easy, it really is that simple.

This is the same way Jesus handled negative thoughts that Satan tried to push into him. In response to each unholy thought that Satan pushed, Jesus quoted Scripture. That’s how we need to react as well – by wielding the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Zoomed in to Grace in the graphic from the last blog entryCourtesy Bitmoji and Grace Daniels.]