Overcome the Fear of Rejection in Your Marriage & Relationships

“I’m married and haven’t had sex in two years,” a person recently shared with stress and disappointment in his/her voice (names and gender not mentioned for privacy).  “I don’t know how it got this bad and I’ve been sleeping in another room for quite some time now.  My spouse says that he/she needs ‘time’ to sort things out and while I’ve given her/him a lot of time out of respect, I’m still treated terribly and I want to address the situation about how I’m treated and our intimacy problem, but I’m afraid to.  I’m also feeling tempted sometimes by other people in my life who are around me at the gym and where I work, who are very nice and are giving me attention that I’m not getting at home and I’m afraid I might cave to the temptation and make a bigger mess.” 

What is this person and many others we have talked to really afraid of?  Rejection.

Some psychologists would tell you that fear of rejection is rooted in low self-esteem, and Julie and I would tell you that it is rooted in a low ‘God-esteem.’   To esteem God is “to regard highly or favorably; regard with respect or admiration” 

When we have a low view of God and/or are ignorant of His nature and promises, or do not believe His promises are for us personally we will fear rejection from people. 

We will avoid hard conversations because they are hard, and because it will require strength and courage to face the problem and the people or person that the problem is with.  In the situation above there are 2 fears that this person is struggling with:

  1. Fear of rejection…what if his/her spouse says ‘no’ to any intimacy and does not want to work on the marriage?  What will that mean?  As humans we get to choose what that means. Fearful vs. faith-filled people will define the meaning of rejection in very different terms.  How do you define rejection when it happens to you?  What meaning do you give when you feel rejected?

  2. Fear of succumbing to temptation…what if eventually I can no longer stay strong and I ‘cave’ to the temptation of other ‘offers’ for love, attention and intimacy?

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The first fear is based on this person’s belief that another human can determine his/her value instead of believing God that his/her worth is found in Him, not in the actions or opinions of others.

While the fact that being sexually deprived in a marriage does put you at risk for temptation to arise (see 1 Corinthians 7:5), the fear for this person is that he/she will eventually not be strong enough to continue to ward off sexual temptation which opposes the promise of God in 1 Corinthians 10:13 AMP that says: “No temptation [regardless of its source] has overtaken or enticed you that is not common to human experience [nor is any temptation unusual or beyond human resistance]; but God is faithful [to His word—He is compassionate and trustworthy], and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability [to resist], but along with the temptation He [has in the past and is now and] will [always] provide the way out as well, so that you will be able to endure it [without yielding, and will overcome temptation with joy].” 

As Julie and I have mentored people we have discovered that many believers are believing God will be true to His promises for others, but they struggle to believe that He will be true to His promises for them personally.  So if that is you today, perhaps this verse will be a great reminder that: 

“He who did not spare [even] His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?”  Romans 8:32 AMP

Do your words and ‘stories’ you have told yourself reflect the truth in God’s Word above?

We encourage you to ask God to help you with your unbelief.  He desires for us all to possess and exhibit great faith in Him. Ask the tough questions, start the hard conversation and believe God to overcome the fear that is keeping you from transforming your life and relationships.  What are you waiting for?

If this post resonated with you and if you would like a free 20-min. consult with Julie and I to receive personalized tips on how to ask tough questions, or start the hard conversation and overcome your own fear, worry or anxiety click here.

Fearless in Him,

Jamie

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The Key to a Fear-Free Life: Have You Received It?

‘What the World Needs Now is Love’ is the title of a very popular song written by Burt Bacharach in 1965 and it’s certainly as true today as when it was released during the height of the Vietnam War.

 What the world—and you and I-- need more than anything else-- is indeed love! We are all desperate for love, and the One Who is love—in fact, perfect love—Jesus!

 Interestingly, even though the need is great, there is no lack of supply of the love that we all need. It is available to all, and without measure! However, first we need to hearof Jesus’ love for us, and secondly, we need to believe that He does indeed love us! Many people who hear of Jesus’ love for them have a hard time accepting the reality of His love for them because they are used to human love that is unlike God’s sacrificial, completely unselfish love. It can be hard to fathom how a holy God could possibly love us since we know in our hearts that we are sinners who are so undeserving of His love. Yet, it is only through faith in God and a willingness to receive Jesus as our Savior and Lord that we are connected to God, the Source of Perfect Love, Who is able to cast out all fear. (1 John 4:8;18)

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It is one thing to know in our head that ”Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so”, and something altogether different to know in our hearts that He really loves me. I know that my life was radically changed when someone came up to me—someone I didn’t even know well-- and told me that he felt led by God to share with me that God loved me. I had heard about God’s love all of my growing up years, and when I was a young child before committing what I considered to be any ‘big’ sins, it was easy enough to believe that He loved me. Later—when I knew I’d done things that violated his commands-- I started doubting His love for me, and distancing myself from Him. It wasn’t until I was in my late thirties when that young man came up to me and spoke the words, “Jesus told me to tell you that He loves you”, that the revelation of God’s love for me broke through—and forever changed my life! I realizedthat He didn’t just die for the world, but that He chose to die for me; that despite my sinHe would have given His life on the cross even if I’d been the only person. It was in recognizing both my unworthiness of His love, while simultaneously believing the reality of His love that caused me to grasp the truth that I can trust the ‘Man Who died for me’ with everything in my life! 

God proves His love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans5:8 Berean Study Bible

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Romans 8:32 ESV

The ‘ALL things’ that faith in His unfailing love has given to me, and is the gift to all who receive His love, includes freedom from fear, worry and anxiety!

When you truly trust God’s love for you, you will: 

· Be able to totally trust in His faithfulness. 1 Corinthians 1:9; 2 Timothy 2:13; Thessalonians 3:3; Hebrews 10:23

· Be set free from the fear of being alone, forsaken, or abandoned (Joshua 1:9; Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5) 

· Be able to face ‘fearful’ situations and yet be unafraid. John 14:27; John 16:33: Romans 8:28,31-38; 1 Corinthians 10:13

· Be released from the ‘fear of man’ as you are more concerned with pleasing God. Proverbs 29: 25; Acts 5:29; Hebrews 13:6

· Be free from worry regarding the provision for your needs. Psalm 23:1; 2 Corinthians 9:8;Philippians 4:16

· Be set free from the fear that your particular situation is too big for God to handle. Luke 1:37; Matthew 19:26

· Be set free from the greatest fear of all: judgment from God, death, and hell (John 5:24; Romans 8:1-2; 1 Corinthians 15:55)

How about you? Have you ever had the revelation of God’s extravagant love for you? Has the reality of His love moved from your head to your heart, and therefore impacted how you live?  If so, have you shared the truth that He IS LOVE (1Jhn 4:8) with anyone else, so that they too might have their greatest need—the need for God’s Perfect Love-- met? 

Whoever confesses and acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.  We have come to know [by personal observation and experience], and have believed [with deep, consistent faith] the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides continually in him.  In this [union and fellowship with Him], love is completed and perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment [with assurance and boldness to face Him]; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love [dread does not exist].But perfect (complete, full-grown) love drives out fear1 John 4:15-18 AMP

If you have yet to make the vital transaction between your head knowledge of God’s love to your heart, I encourage you to seek after God with your whole heart and ask Him to reveal the height, depth, width, and length of His love for you to you. (Jeremiah 29:13; Matthew 7:7). I also encourage you…listen to the Lord, and when He nudges you to go and tell someone that Jesus loves them, step out in faith and do so in love and in obedience to Him! You could be the person God uses to give them the key that will open the door for them to experience a fear free, joyous, abundant life in Christ! 

Lord, give me an understanding, assurance, and deeper revelation of your love. Give me the power to understand how wide, long, high, and deep your love is for me so that I will know in my heart your extravagant, unending, unfailing love, and that I may be filled up with all the fullness of God, which is love. (Based upon Ephesians 3:14-19) 

Written by Julie Van Gorp

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What to Do When You Have Suffered an Offense...Or Been the Offender

 Recently, I unintentionally offended someone by a post I shared on Facebook that I would not have thought would have incited another Christian. The person’s venomous response to me pierced my heart and caused me to ponder about how easily people are offended in today’s increasingly polarized and self-focused culture; how offenses are used to separate the Body of Christ; and what our response should be when offenses do arise. Have you ever caused an offense that was totally unintentional? Or has someone ever offended you-- whether they intended to offend you or not? If you’re alive on planet earth, I’m sure the answer to the above questions is a resounding, “Yes!”

 It’s important to keep in mind that even Jesus, who is perfect Love, offended many while He walked on the earth-- and He is still an offense to many today (Matthew 13:57). If we follow after Him, as we have been called and commanded to do, we can be assured that we too will be an offense (John 15:18-20), especially in a culture that has forsaken and turned its back upon Him. When we align ourselves with Jesus, we will either be a sweet fragrance or a stench to others (2 Corinthians 2:14-17). No matter how hard you may try, you cannot live a life in which you won’t offend someone else. You just have to make sure that your offense is not caused by your ‘walking in your flesh’-- in other words due to your own sinful nature-- but is because you are following Jesus and ‘walking by His Spirit’. At all costs we must make sure that we are not an offense to God, even if others we love are offended by our standing with Him.

 The great news is that God’s Word gives us the answers for what to do when we have offended others, and what to do when others have offended us. When offenses come, we often want to ‘pick up arms and go to war’, but we must remember that our fight is not against ‘flesh and blood’—the other person---but it is against the powers and principalities of darkness that always are at work to separate us from God and from one another ((Ephesians 6:10-18).  Satan delights in stirring up offenses because they are the cause of division among people. Once an initial offense has occurred, Satan seeks to create a chasm in the relationship by having the one offended respond in such a way as to inflame the situation and cause the offending party to then retaliate in anger, hostility, or separation from the relationship rather than by responding in a way that will bring about the reconciliation and harmony God longs to see.

 God has called us to respond in a way that is totally contrary to the way Satan, our flesh, and the world would lead us to respond when an offense occurs. He has given us His greatest weapon to defeat the enemy’s scheme to create division when offenses arise, and that is demonstrating Christ like love.

 This is My command to you: Love one another. John 15:17 NIV

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 The kind of love Jesus calls us to have is summed up in this well-known passage:

 Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant.  It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured.  It does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices with the truth [when right and truth prevail]. 7Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening]. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 AMP

 So how do we put this kind of love into practice when we have been offended, or when we know that we have offended someone else?

1) First and foremost, go to God for His comfort and most of all His counsel. Only God knows your heart and the heart of the other person. And keep in mind that He created and loves you both. Feel free to ‘pour your heart out’ before the Lord as He desires to hear your innermost thoughts (Psalm 62:8; Psalm 142:2; Psalm 51:6). I assure you that He can handle whatever it is you are feeling! Due to our sin nature we are prone to justify and rationalize our actions; to deny any part we may have had in the situation; and to cast blame on others. Often after being offended we need to first ‘pour out our feelings’ before we are ready to be ‘filled up with truth’ that can only be obtained from God’s view. After receiving my friend’s response, I was hurt. In my pain I felt an offense against her welling up inside of me. I considered her response to me to be very divisive and unfair, and I wanted to defend myself. I knew I had to get before the Lord immediately to share with Him what I was feeling, or else I knew my feelings would take over and I would respond in a way I knew would not please the Lord nor help to heal the relationship with her. I shared my sorrow with Him and my disappointment that she would respond with such unkind words and in a way that presumed many things that were not true. I knew that I could not respond to her until I had first gone to God and bared my heart before Him, and received His heart of love for her. By His grace, I did not respond to her based upon my initial feelings, but I allowed God to hear and to heal my broken heart so that my response could represent His heart of love toward her. It is so important when we are offended that we not respond out of our pain but go to God so He can bind up our wounds and we respond with His Spirit of love.

2)  Ask God to give you a humble heart and to open your eyes to see the situation from God’s perspective, as well as from the other person’s. Consider and meditate upon the cross and how Jesus responded to offenses against Him. Do your best to put yourself in the other person’s position so you can better understand where they might be coming from. Ask God to convict you of any pride, arrogance, or other sin on your part that might have led you—even unintentionally-- to be an offence to the other person. Be willing to humble yourself and go to the other person and apologize, even if your offense was due to ignorance.

3)  After stating your ‘case’ before the Lord, wait and listen to the Holy Spirit who will speak to your heart and lead you if you seek His wisdom and guidance. Then do as He directs you. (Proverbs 2:6; 3:6; James 1:5; John 14:17, 26; 16:13) The Lord initially led me to respond to my friend by asking her to forgive me for offending her, and I addressed some of her assumptions in what I felt was a spirit of love. She responded in a way that indicated she was more interested in ‘winning a fight and being right’ than in mending the relationship. I sensed the Lord lead me to say nothing more at that time. Sometimes the best response is no response, especially if you have done what you know God called you to do and the person still is offended. Consider that Jesus said nothing during his ‘trial’ before Herod. He was doing what His Heavenly Father led Him to do, and sometimes God will lead you to remain silent if He knows that by responding you may ‘add more fuel to the fire’ or for another reason He may lead you to say nothing. If, however, He leads you to speak, do not be afraid to speak the truth even if the truth offends the other person, but never speak the truth in an offensive way. For example, if someone is offended because of a stand you have taken based upon God’s clear commands in scripture —for example, being pro-life or pro- traditional marriage or against any form of racial prejudice —do not compromise the truth of God’s Word, but speak the truth in a way that is loving and winsome rather than defensive and accusatory.  

A soft and gentle and thoughtful answer turns away wrath, But harsh and painful and careless words stir up anger. Proverbs 15:1 AMP

4)  Forgive those who offend you as God has forgiven you for all of your offenses against Him (Matthew 6:14; Colossians 3:12). Do not allow the sun to go down on your anger if someone has offended you, and do not allow bitterness and resentment to take root in your heart (Ephesians 4:26, 31; Hebrews 12:15; Proverbs 4:23). When we are offended, our natural tendency is to want to get back at the other person, ‘to repay evil for evil’. That’s the problem…our natural tendency is our sin nature that must die if we desire God’s nature to be alive and at work in us. God’s perfect will and our sinful will cannot co-exist. You likely are thinking, “But you don’t know what they did to me! How could I possibly forgive what they’ve done?” On your own you can’t… you must be born again and have God’s nature at work in you to forgive as He has forgiven you. His Spirit in you will empower you to forgive the person, no matter the offense. I’m not saying it’s easy; it requires death to our own will that loves ‘nursing’ our offenses and taking vengeance, and it requires full surrender to God’s will. When we consider all of our offenses against a holy God, how can we not forgive someone else for his or her much smaller offense against us? Ask God to reveal to you the depth of the mercy He demonstrated when He died for you--and that He daily shows to you-- and ask Him to fill  you with His mercy for you to extend to the one who has offended you (Luke 7:41-47).

 5)  Bless and do good to those who have offended you, and seek to be reconciled with them and to live in harmony, if at all possible.

 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them….  Live in harmony with one another… Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.  If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Romans 12:14, 16-18 ESV

But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. Luke 6:27-28 ESV

 6)  Pray! A tremendous blessing that we can give to others is to pray for them. Pray that your heart will remain pure before God and before the other person so that Satan will not gain a foothold by your dwelling on the offense, which could hinder your relationship with God and cause you to withhold forgiveness from the other person. Pray for those who have offended you. Pray that God will give them a spirit of wisdom and revelation in their knowledge of God and open the eyes of their hearts so that they will come to know Him if they do not already, and that they will walk worthy of the high calling He has set before them if they are a fellow believer (Ephesians 1:17; Colossians 1:10) Pray for the person whom you may have offended, and if you have sought their forgiveness and they have withheld it, pray that they will choose to obey God and love and forgive you as He has commanded them to do, so that they will not sin against God and miss out on blessings from God. Above all, pray that the love of God would be manifested and abound in and through you, and manifested and abound in and through the other person involved in the offense. For love covers a multitude of sins, and love never fails! (1 Peter 4:8; 1 Corinthians 1213:8)

 Written by Julie Van Gorp

 

 

 

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Be Still and Know That I Am God- Finding Peace in Scripture

Do you ever look at others and wonder how they can have so much peace when the circumstances they are going through seems so daunting?  

I had the pleasure of spending time with a good friend this week and she mentioned to me how transforming it was for her to meditate on God’s Word.  Then she shared specifically how she meditates on Psalm 46:10 and the peace it brings her.  


Here’s the order that she thinks and prays about this verse:

First, begin by saying/thinking/praying: “Be still and know that I am God.”   

Then begin dropping off the last word as you go through it, so it would look like this:


Be still and know that I am God.

Be still and know that I AM. (‘I AM’ is a name that God gives Himself in the Bible)

Be still and know

Be still

Be



Isaiah 26:3

I shared with her how Julie & I will often get so much additional insight about a verse by putting exaggerated emphasis on different words each time we say a verse in our mind or aloud.  

Be still and know that I am God.

Be still and know that I am God.

Be still and know that I am God …

until you have deeply thought about and pondered/meditated on each word in the verse.  You can do these exercises with almost any verse and find additional insights and the exercise will help you to keep your focus on God.  God promises that He will keep you in perfect peace when your mind is fixed on Him. (Isaiah 26:3)

Let us know what God reveals to you through His Word as you implement these techniques!

Written by Jamie Shaver



Are you curious to know how much fear, worry and anxiety is impacting your life? Take our free quiz to learn how fearful, worried and anxious you really are?

What Not to Do--and to Do--If You Have Unsaved Loved Ones

Recently I went on a trip to see some family members who I love dearly although I rarely get to see them.  Regrettably, they do not have a relationship with the Lord. There are several things the Lord reinforced to me during this visit that I think may be valuable for all of us who have unsaved loved ones and want to know how to interact with them.

First, I believe we must recognize that all of mankind was created to worship. If your loved one is not worshipping the one true God, you can be assured that they do have a ‘god’—or ‘gods’ in their life.  It may be their work, entertainment, their spouse or ‘significant other’, their kids, their hobby, alcohol, drugs, or something else in which his or her identity and life is ‘wrapped up’.  And you can also be assured that their ‘god/s’ will never truly satisfy them or bring them the abundant life they were created to enjoy through fellowship with God. Their god will ultimately disappoint them, and lead to misery for them and pain for those who love them. The heart in rebellion against God is a self-centered, self-absorbed heart; everything is filtered through how it impacts ‘me’, what ‘I want’ and what ‘I value’. I confess that I know that not only from witnessing that in the lives of others, but also from personal experience when I lived apart from God. We need to be instruments of grace who share with our unsaved loved ones the truth that the only way to experience a joy-filled life of contentment and peace is to ‘die to ourselves’ and to follow God’s commands to love Him first, and others second. (Luke 9:23; Matthew 22:37-40)

 Secondly, we must remember that we are all in a spiritual battle. Satan—sometimes referred to as the devil-- is the Enemy of our Souls and the ‘Father of Lies’ who deceives us into thinking that living to please ourselves by investing our time, energy and resources on our other ‘god/s’ will satisfy the desires of our soul, which they cannot (Ephesians 6:11-12; John 8:44). Satan’s goal is always to ‘steal, kill, and destroy’ what God loves, and what He loves most is mankind with whom He longs to have an intimate and loving relationship. Satan seeks to destroy us by keeping us from having that relationship with God, through Jesus, Who is ‘the Way, the Truth, and the Life’ (John 14:6). We who know Jesus have been called to be His warriors...warriors who ‘fight’ for the souls of those who have been taken captive by Satan.  If we are not careful we can forget that our battle is not against ‘flesh and blood’—and sometimes we want to act out ‘in our flesh’ against our unsaved loved ones --but we must keep in mind that our fight isn’t with them, but against Satan and the forces of darkness. Just like prisoners of war, our unsaved loved ones have been taken captive by Satan to do his will (2nd Timothy 2:26). We can’t expect them to act in accordance with the truth of God’s Word, because they never knew it, or they have been indoctrinated in lies from Satan and blinded from walking in the truth.

Only the Truth—the written Word and Jesus, the Living Word--can set them free from the clutches of Satan and empower them to live the ‘abundant life’—a life of peace, joy, and contentment, and open up to them the gift of eternal life. Our words are important to testify to that truth, but far more important is the life that we live before them.

 So what is our role as it relates to family members and other loved ones who have been ‘taken captive’ by Satan to do his will, and therefore are not living in accordance with the will of God?

Things We Should NOT Do:

 1. Do not buy into their lies or fuel their sinful behavior. Filter what they say and do through the lens of scripture so that you do not contribute to their deception. For example, do not accept their rationalizing or blaming others for the consequences of sinful choices that they make. If you catch them in a lie, do not be afraid to lovingly confront them so that they do not think they can ‘sin and get away with it’ and so they will learn that their sin ‘will find them out’ (Numbers 32:23).

 2.Do not indulge their deception that their ‘god’or ‘gods’ will satisfy them by ‘building up’ their ‘god’, but in love expose it for what it is— a source of temporary pleasure, but nothing that will truly meet the deepest longings of their heart, which is unconditional love and eternal security that only God can provide to them. For example, if sports is their ‘god’, don’t focus all of your conversations on sports which could easily lead them to believe that is your ‘god’ too. If they are an alcoholic, don’t support their addiction by purchasing alcohol for them. Or, if they are a ‘shopaholic’ don’t continually talk about things with them or spend your time together going shopping.

3. Do not enable them or attempt to rescue them when their sin ‘blows up in their face’. It’s not your job to save them, only Jesus can; it’s your job to represent His heart of love for them and to point them to Him. Remember that Jesus asks us to ‘come to Him’, but due to our pride we most often will not come to Him until we are desperate and aware that we have nowhere else to go. The biggest obstacle for people coming to Jesus is admitting they have a need. That is why it is so important that you do not try to rescue them, but allow your unsaved loved one ‘to come to the end of themselves’ so that they will finally turn to Jesus. If you want to help them out of a situation that was caused by their sinful choice/s, always pray first and ask the Holy Spirit to examine your heart motive and to lead you in His way. There are times when God may lead you to enforce ‘the law’, and there may be times when He leads you to show mercy, which is why you need to listen carefully to His voice. As painful as it may be to watch your loved one suffer for the consequences of their sin, remember that it is far better for them to endure suffering for a season in this world if it will lead them to turn to Jesus who alone can save them from suffering for all eternity! It is also important that you realize that you can fully entrust them to God’s care; He will be there to pick them up when they look to and cry out to Him!

4. Do not cram scripture ‘down their throat’ as they will likely vomit it out! Sometimes in our zeal for our loved ones to come to the Lord we ‘lecture’ them with scriptures, or in other ways communicate our disapproval of them. What they hear in their minds is that if my family who knows God doesn’t approve of me, then God sure will never accept me either! They often perceive that God is all about rules and regulations that are either impossible to keep, or only there to keep people from having a ‘fun life’. They don’t realize that God wants a relationship with them, not ‘perfect behavior’ from them. We need to demonstrate with our words and actions that we love them unconditionally, so that they will come to believe that if we who know them as ‘sinners’ can love them, then Jesus is more than able to love them too!

What We Should Do:

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1.  Assume your role as ‘an ambassador of Christ’ who has been given the job of representing Jesus and encouraging people to be reconciled to God (2nd Corinthians 5:20). You can’t represent Jesus if you don’t really know Him. So it is important that you make time to read and study the Bible where He reveals His heart, His character, and His ways; to be in fellowship with other believers who will encourage you in your faith; and to maintain communication with God through prayer. Jesus often asked penetrating questions to get people to consider the truth; a great way to represent Him is to learn to ask meaningful questions of our unsaved family members that will cause them to grabble with the big concerns of life, like: what is truth; what is the purpose of life; and where do they think they will go when they die and why? If they espouse to be an atheist or to believe in a religion other than Christianity, lovingly ask them why they believe what they claim to believe so you can earn the right to share with them your beliefs. Another way Jesus interacted with those he wished to reach was by telling them parables, or stories. Share stories of God’s faithfulness in your own life as well as testimonials of His life-changing impact in the lives of others you know; your unsaved loved ones are looking for the Hope you have and they want to have a reason to believe that God is real and all that He says He is in His Word!

2. Let the light of the love of Jesus shine forth from you, so that they will be drawn to the Source of your light and life! (Matthew 5:16) Ask God to give you the faith to daily walk by the power of the Holy Spirit so that you will accurately reflect the truth and love of Christ, and so that you will not satisfy the desires of your flesh that can be a stumbling block to your loved ones coming to know Jesus. Below is the way you should ‘dress yourself’ so you can reflect Jesus to your loved ones:

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:12-17 ESV


3. Share the ‘good news’ of Jesus’ love for them if you have not already. As already mentioned, that opportunity often comes when your loved one is suffering from the sinful choices they have made. Help them to see their need for Jesus by lovingly helping them to see what their choices have cost them. Humble yourself before your loved one and let him or her know that you realize you’re not perfect or sinless either, that no one is except God. Let them know that Jesus has made the way for ALL who are willing to admit their imperfections and to turn from their sin to find forgiveness and new life through His death and Resurrection. Assure them that there is no sin that is too great that God’s grace, love, and mercy can’t cover it! Make them aware that when Jesus died on the cross, His blood was shed for every sin they would ever commit. You may wish to share with them this comforting verse from Romans 5:8: But God clearly shows and proves His own love for us, by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Let them know that all God asks them to do is to ‘come to Him’, to believe in Him, and to receive Him as their Savior and Lord, and to repent—or change the direction of their life— through the power of the Holy Spirit (John 6:29; John 1:12) Share the truth with them that only living in obedience to Jesus will ever bring true joy and fulfillment to their lives. Let them know they have a choice. Ask them, “Do you want to continue striving by living in your own strength, or would you like to finally start living abundantly through the redeeming power of Jesus?” You may say, “But what if I share the truth of God’s love for them and their need for repentance, and they reject that truth?” Keep in mind, they are already rejecting that truth by the way they are living, so what do you have to lose?

For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. Luke 9:26 ESV

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4. Focus your thoughts upon God and His desire for your loved one to come to know Him. Consider how different your unsaved loved one’s life would be if he received Jesus as his Savior. I just heard the story of a man who was saved in the military; he came home to his family and shared the truth of the gospel with them. At first, the family rejected turning their lives over to God, but as they saw the difference that Jesus made in the man’s life, they all chose to accept Jesus as their Savior. The man telling me the story said that was 43 years ago, and he was so grateful that his brother who’d been in the military loved him enough to share the truth with him, even though at first he was ‘fighting mad’ at him for doing so. The lives of each member of that family was radically changed because his brother loved them all enough to humble himself and overcome his fear of rejection to tell them the truth that alone could save them. Have you ever considered the blessing you would experience by being used by God to introduce them to Jesus? Be encouraged by these words from James 5:19-20: My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
5. Realize that if you speak the truth in humility and in love, as Jesus has called us to do, your loved one still may not receive the truth at the time you share it. However, be encouraged! The truth of God’s Word will never return void; it will accomplish what God purposes, and in His perfect timing. (Isaiah 55:11) And God will be well pleased with you for your obedience, regardless of the response of your loved one. Jesus has commanded us to ‘go and tell’; you can trust Him with the results if you are faithful to obey His command! (Matthew 28:19)

6.  There are circumstances under which you may need to set up firm boundaries, and even choose to entirely withdraw from a relationship with an unsaved loved one if they continue in their sin, especially if they are influencing you to abandon your faith in God. If you are sensing that you need to cut ties with a family member, make sure you are being led by the Spirit and not by your flesh. And welcome them back into your life with a forgiving heart and open arms if they ‘come to their senses’ and give their heart to the Lord.

You cannot be my disciple, unless you love me more than you love your father and mother, your wife and children, and your brothers and sisters. You cannot follow me unless you love me more than you love your own life. Luke 14:26 CSB

 7. Without a doubt, the most important thing you can do is to pray faithfully and fervently for your loved one! And, when possible, to pray with them. I have found that they are most open to having me pray with them when they know they have a need. I especially encourage you to pray scripture over them as then you can know that you are praying God’s will. Make sure to pray in faith (James 5:15). Satan wants you to look at the circumstances of your unsaved loved one’s life and to think that there is no hope. You must remember that is a lie—nothing is impossible for Our God! Trust Him to do exceedingly and abundantly above what you could hope or imagine! (Luke 1:37; Ephesians 3:20)

 Lord, I release my loved one to You, knowing that You love them even more than I do or ever could. Fill me with Your heart of love for them, and empower me by the Holy Spirit to be a faithful ‘ambassador’ of Yours who accurately represents You and faithfully walks by the Spirit and not in my flesh. I confess that when I see my unsaved loved one’s lifestyle and poor choices that I often feel overwhelmed and helpless. Holy Spirit, guide me so that I know when to speak, when to remain silent, and when to take action. When you lead me to speak, give me your Words of truth and life to speak to them.When you call me to act, may I do so with all humility and in the spirit of Your love. I ask that you would arrest their hearts and minds and bring them into alignment with Your will! Send forth the Holy Spirit to convict them of their sin, of righteousness, and of the coming judgment! (John 16:8-9) May they come to know You, the Source of abundant and eternal life! Amen.

 Written by Julie Van Gorp

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3 Things to Consider When Drafting Your ‘Contract Negotiations’ with God

Recently I was mentoring someone who with tears claimed to deeply desire a change in her behavior patterns.  There were certain thoughts that were consuming her mind, taking up valuable time, keeping her isolated mentally from those with whom she would otherwise be engaging, and creating an enormous amount of stress— which in her case exaggerated other health problems.  I asked her the question, “Do you really want to be set free from this?”, to which she exclaimed, “Yes…as long as_______________doesn’t happen if I stop caring (aka worrying) so much about this.”

Her greatest fear was losing her ‘perceived’ control over the outcome.  She wanted to be free from her fear, worry, and anxiety as long as SHE got to control the outcome; as long as SHE determined how and when she would be ‘set free’; and as long as SHE was able to be in charge of the other fine print ‘contract negotiations’ of the deal she was looking to make with God.  

Have you ever felt this way?  Like you wanted to make a ‘deal’ with God or negotiate a contract with Him? Perhaps a contract that might say something like: “If I do this, God, then you will do what I want, at the timing I want, in the way that I want you to do it. And if you do that, God, then you’ll get a great referral from me to my network. Now, please give me a ‘sign’ that you agree to this contract, and we’ll get right to this matter in the way described above.  Please note God: Time is of the essence for the completion of the work described in this contract. It is anticipated by the parties that all work described herein will be completed within two (2) weeks of the date of execution, which is right now, and that any delay in the completion of the work described herein shall constitute a breach of this contract and a negative review on ‘Yelp.’”  

In our human interactions with God we often want a contract; but God doesn’t do contracts, He makes covenants!

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Here are a few thoughts to ponder as you think about the ‘contracts’ you try to make with God, whether you are aware of it or not.

  1. God can control everything in the entire universe. It was all made by Him, and it is only in Him that ‘we live and move and have our very being’.  He is a far better and more powerful Person to be in control of our lives than we are—even the wind and waves obey Him! (Mark 4:41)

  2. His ways are higher than our ways. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9 ESV) Consider this, Daniel would not have experienced the miracle of seeing the mouths of the lions shut had he not been in the lion’s den.  Rahab’s house was on the walls of Jericho, the very walls that God planned to have fall down for Joshua and his army. Yet, God made it possible that where she lived on that wall she and her household were saved.  

  3. We are to seek first God’s kingdom and He will add to us everything else that we need.  This is a promise from God.  “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. ‘But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.’ So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Matthew 6:32-34 ESV

Do you know how to seek God first?  You may want to check out this page for more tips on ‘how to grow and have a relationship with Jesus’. The woman I was mentoring wanted to seek her desires first, and then to add God. That mixed up order resulted in her experiencing worry and anxiety that got increasingly worse the more she tried to control the situation with which she was dealing.  I know it’s an old cliche, but it’s true:  “It’s time to ‘let go and let God.’”  As a believer, when you fully begin to trust Him, and your actions back-up your proclaimed faith in Him, then you will experience peace that is beyond anything you could hope or imagine.

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful."  John 14:26-27 ESV

What are the ways that you seek God first? Please share below.

Written by Jamie Shave

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Are You a Contagious Christian?

The other day I was racing to leave my neighborhood for an appointment when I encountered a long line of cars in front of me due to a repaving project. We were all ‘held hostage’ by a construction worker with a stop sign controlling the flow of cars driving in and out of the neighborhood. I was in a hurry, and my frustration level began to mount as the wait time increased. Finally, the STOP sign was switched to a SLOW sign and I was able to move, and as I drove past the sign, my irritation melted away as I saw the sign holder’s radiant smile as she took off her hat, graciously bowed, and gave me a ‘Miss America’ wave as she warmly signaled for me to drive on. She exuded joy that was contagious! I opened my window, and said to her, “You must know and love Jesus!” In response, she enthusiastically responded, “I sure do, and I have ever since I was a little girl!” I later learned that her name is Sharon--known by some as ‘Sharon the Fabulous Flagger’-and that I was not the only one who took notice of her exuberant demeanor.

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The following was posted in my town’s neighborhood Facebook page:

There was a wonderfully cheerful lady directing traffic around the road work on Hickory Drive earlier this afternoon. Are you in this group? I just wanted to say THANK YOU for doing your job with such flair. Your joy is absolutely contagious!!”

And another person wrote:

You want to get mad for having to sit there but then you get up to her and all you can do is smile and wave. Everyone should love their job like she does. She told me she has to deal with very impatient people and she soon realized that her friendly attitude could defuse aggression. She’s a gem!”

Sharon’s life shines forth like a light and is so God glorifying!

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16 ESV

Her joy in performing her menial job—especially in the extreme heat and humidity of ‘Hotlanta’—caused me to consider the following:

When others see me-- whether at work, at home, or out and about-- what is their impression? Do they see someone whose words, actions, and overall countenance testifies to the fact that I have chosen to follow Jesus and to serve as an ‘ambassador’ of His loving kindness? Does the way I do the ordinary things in life express joy in living, as well as concern for others, or do I communicate that I am merely in ‘survival mode’, self-focused, and unconcerned about those around me?

What about your life?  What kind of an ambassador are you for Christ? Are you a contagious Christian that attracts others to you and makes them wonder what is the source of your joy? Do the words and the tone you use with your family communicate irritation with or love for them? What about at work? Are you more of a ‘Suzy Sunshine’ who arrives with a smile that no amount of frustration can wipe away, or are you more of a ‘Debbie Downer’ who complains as if that’s your job? When you are grocery or mall shopping, do you smile at other customers? Let others in a hurry go ahead of you? Do you engage the cashier in conversation and thank her for doing her job? Do you stop to visit with neighbors while out walking or jogging? Do you make a point to welcome new neighbors and to invest time in getting to know 'old' neighbors? 

Do you think that you accurately represent Christ’s love to the people with whom you interact on a daily basis, whatever it is you are doing? Do you think Jesus would agree with your assessment?

Below are just a few ways in which you can represent the love of Christ on a daily basis as you go about your life:

1.  SMILE!  It’s amazing the difference a smile alone can make, especially when you look someone in the eye. By doing so you acknowledge that they are worthy of you taking notice of them. You may have heard of the testimonies of people who were contemplating suicide who decided against doing so because someone cared enough to just smile at them. Plus, wearing a smile will continue to fill your ‘joy cup’ because giving a smile almost always leads to receiving a smile! (To be clear: I am not talking about a sexy, flirtatious smile, but a warm and friendly smile that acknowledges that the other person is made in the image of God and therefore worthy to be noticed and their presence dignified by gracing them with a smile.)

2.  Say something kind and affirming to others. When I am out and about and see someone who is kind and outgoing, I will often tell her that her smile or joyful countenance blesses me. Many times I will follow that statement-- as I did with Sharon—with the comment, “You must know Jesus!” or something to that effect. Most times they say, ”I sure do!” and the faith of both of us is built up as we identify one another in the marketplace. But what if they don’t know Him?  Then it gives you a great opportunity to say, “Oh, I encourage you to get to know Him as He is the most wonderful person in the world and will change your life!”

3.  Do not be easily irritated, but instead look to alleviate the irritation of others. I remember going to a grocery store on my birthday when I was in college and the cashier was nasty to me. My initial thought was, “It’s my birthday and I sure don’t deserve to be treated that way!” and I took offense by her attitude.  Then it occurred to me that I didn’t know what that person was going through that might have led them to act so unkindly; perhaps they had just found out some bad news or it was the anniversary of the death of a loved one, or maybe someone in line had just treated them poorly. I resolved that I would always seek to treat others as if it were a special day in their life, for every day is indeed special! The Lord makes each and every day, so we are to rejoice and be glad! (Psalm 118:24)

4.  Show appreciation to others who serve you and look for ways to serve others. Jesus came to serve, not to be served (Matthew 20:28) We have the opportunity to represent Jesus’ heart of love to those who provide services to us, like our mailman/woman and sanitation workers by verbally thanking them and performing acts of kindness toward them. I remember watching a wonderful video of a family whose young kids would give something cold to drink or give a snack to the sanitation workers when they came by; a beautiful friendship developed between that family and those workers. Notes of appreciation and other acts of kindness can let them know you value them. Look for ways in which you can serve those who serve you.

5.  Pray for others! When you encounter people who appear from their sullen face or unkind actions to be experiencing a rough day, speak words of kindness to them if possible, knowing that a kind word turns away wrath, and always pray for them! (Proverbs 15:1; Luke 6:28) Pray that they will come to know the love that Jesus has for them and that they will be filled with His loving kindness and joy!

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17

Lord, let my life so shine forth before others so that all who see me will see your life at work in me and Your life reflected through me! Amen!

Written by Julie Van Gorp

 

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