Category Archives: Thirty-three Day Challenge

Accountability

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We are one day away from the ten day stretch to finish the race of this thirty-three day challenge. We have spent the past three weeks weeding through deception. I hope that these past few weeks have been an opportunity to pull up some if not all of the lies that had been growing and thriving inside of you by their root. I hope that it has been a time of blind eyes being opened and a time of oh’s, that’s why’s, and now I get it’s. I also hope it has been a time of training. A time of learning the right tools to keep you from falling into the snare of the enemy of our souls.

If this has been a time like that, and you have experienced freedom and you want to stay free, but you are done lying to yourself and you know you can’t do this on your own, then what you need at the very least is an accountability partner.

If you need more help… go get it. There are churches all over your area with Christian counselors who would love to be there for you and would love to be allowed to be used by God to help restore your soul.

In light of that, our focus today is accountability partners.

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 Day Twenty-Three 

Do you want to be able to be able to say no to worldly passions?

To live a self-controlled, upright and godly life?

To be purified as God’s very own?

To be eager to do what is good?

 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 

instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires

and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, 

looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory

of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, 

who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed,

and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession,

zealous for good deeds.

Titus 2:11-14

Well there you go…

The answer is GRACE 🙂

So many today think that grace is just the “Oh that’s okay… I understand… I hate the sin… but I love the sinner.” But the problem is… most of the time we really don’t hate the sin.

Let me ask you?

Do you hate spiders?

spider

What would you want someone to do if they saw a spider crawling up your back and into your hair?

Let’s say that unknown to you a spider is crawling up you back. You are just walking along in the mall lost in your own little world and then out of no where some person jumps on you and grabs you by the hair and almost knocks you out trying to get to that spider and then after the dust is settled and you, still clueless about the spider, are about ready to KILL the person for jumping on you… and then… They turn around in desperation and show the dead brown lacrose spider that was about to crawl in your ear.

Would you hit them out of anger for hurting you in the process of trying to get to that spider or would you hug them and say “oh! thank you! thank you!” ?

Now let me ask you again…

Do you hate sin?

Grace is the gateway to faith and faith is the way of salvation… Grace is power and strength and might, it is not weak and wishy-washy. Remember that it was the grace of God that put Christ on that cross. He loved the sinner so much that He showed us how much He hated the sin by the stripes on His Son… this is what it took, but God never once stopped loving His Son.

So before you go to hating someone who has clearly pointed out sin in your life…even in a not so nice way or “Christian” way… first ask yourself and ask God… are they right?

Getting the poisonous spiders out of our hair by a stranger or friend who is not going to be one of those who just stands by and watches without helping or warning, may not be fun or comfortable it might be flat-out painful… but at least they didn’t choose to sit back and watch… and then report the news after your destruction…

“well I knew it was coming, I sat right over there and watched that spider crawl right up her britches leg and up her back and that sucker headed right to her ear and then, wham, it bit her! Sure hate that it happened, but you know I ain’t one to get in someone else’s business…” 

Let me ask you again?

Do you hate sin?

If the answer is yes, you need an accountability partner/partners. You need godly women in your life that you know are not afraid to get the spider out of your hair even if their methods end up shocking you or even hurting you.

Perhaps it will be a friend or a sister, a teacher, a counselor, or a mentor. While you may be tempted to look for someone who can sympathize with you, you may have more long-term success with someone who isn’t struggling herself or who has already overcome such a struggle. Hitching two weak oxen together to plow a field is not nearly as effective as hitching a weak ox with a strong ox.

~ Shannon Ethridge

When you are praying about an accountability partner you do not want someone who is in the same boat you are. Yes, it is fine to have those women,we need those women, but those ladies are your “support group” not your “accountability partners”. The support group is there to help you realize you are not alone, but if this is your only source of help, then you might just find yourself surrounded with people that only say,

“Oh girl, I know, I am right there with you, no matter what I try I just keep on falling

Yet they never say,

“NO girl, I KNOW, you don’t have to stay here, you are stronger than that and by all means Christ in you is stronger than that, now get up on your feet and let’s go”  

See the difference?

When you have a mentor who can show you how to thrive on a diet of humility, you may discover a healing change in your appetite. Remember we can not sin and win. If there is sexual or emotional sin in your life, you must starve it to death. You can’t just “trim it down” or it will just grow right back, even larger than before. Sin must be cut out completely. 

Your boasting is not good.

Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough?

 Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump,

just as you are in fact unleavened.

For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.

1 Corinthians 5:6-7

So don’t boast about how you trimmed out some of the stuff that was causing you to fall and causing you to grieve the heart of God, when you have in full awareness chosen to hang on to the sins you “like” to much to stop…

Admit to God that you “like” this one… and get to work with that mentor, that accountability partner, get on your face before your God and ask Him to help you hate it.

He who tends the fig tree will eat its fruit,
And he who cares for his master will be honored.

Proverbs 27:18

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 Now in the morning, when He was returning to the city, He became hungry. 

Seeing a lone fig tree by the road, He came to it

and found nothing on it except leaves only;

and He said to it, “No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you.”

And at once the fig tree withered.

Seeing this, the disciples were amazed and asked,

“How did the fig tree wither all at once?” 

And Jesus answered and said to them,

“Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt,

you will not only do what was done to the fig tree,

but even if you say to this mountain,

‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen. 

And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

Matthew 21:20-22

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As they were passing by in the morning,

they saw the fig tree withered from the roots up. 

Being reminded, Peter said to Him,

“Rabbi, look, the fig tree which You cursed has withered.” 

And Jesus answered saying to them, “Have faith in God.

Mark 11:20-22

Here’s the bottom line… if you tend to the fig tree (sin) then you will eat it’s fruit… but if you care for your master (Jesus) then you will be honored. When you stop tending to the fig tree it will stop bearing fruit and then you will realize this fig tree was worthless all along and you can curse it and then God will destroy it from the roots up… and as you walk by faith in your God and His Christ, it will never bear fruit in you again.

Who/what are you going to choose to care for?

It’s up to you… as Jesus said… Have faith in God, and whatever you curse will be cursed.

Trust, me you can do this. Christ came that you might have life and victory.

You were born again for this!

Fear Not

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Fear…

Today’s focus is fear.

This is something that God has finally gotten through to me on… If fear is controlling me then His Spirit is not.

I finally realized that at the root of most of my stupid choices, at the root of most of the sin in my life, as a lost woman and as a redeemed child of God, was fear. Fear of being left out, fear of being not wanted, fear of being hurt, fear of being afraid, fear of people knowing, fear of disappointing people, fear of letting people know I was afraid… crazy, stupid, fear.

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Day Twenty-Two 

As many times as God proclaimed “Fear not…” it is obvious that fear is a major hindrance to the Christian life. Why is it such a hindrance? Because fear is the opposite of faith. When we focus on our fear rather than having faith in God to deliver us from evil, we are much more likely to lose the battle for sexual and emotional integrity. How can we focus on what we know God will do when we think we are doomed? Such lack of faith says to God, “Even though you’ve carried me this far, you are probably going to fail me now, aren’t you?”

~ Shannon Ethridge

Sometimes we can be in such hurt that the only escape we see is through sin… and that is because we are looking through our eyes and not God’s.

Sometimes we can be in such hurt that the only thing we can think about is relief, even if it is for only a moment, and well sin is usually easily available, quick to get to, and yes, sin’s relief will last for a moment… but only a moment… and then it comes crashing down and it brings an even heavier hurt… that you, once again, reach to sin to numb.

We choose moments over eternity.

God has offered us eternal freedom,

but most often we instead choose the short leash of sin’s chains.

Because it is quick, it helps at the time, and we, in our eyes, either actually think it might work or see no other possibility.

How many women compromise their integrity and do what they know in the depth of their being is against God and His truth because they fear “he” will leave them if they don’t. We do not see that we are choosing the approval of man over the approval of our Creator God.

How many women cross the line, and then they draw a new line. Then they cross that line, so they draw still another line, then another line, and another… because they fear not being wanted or they fear the repercussions of standing firm on their “no”?

How many women stay in an absolutely horrible relationship and fight to the death for it… and this person has not even loved them enough to make them his through the covenant of marriage… yet they fight to keep him… even though he destroys their confidence, destroys their strength, destroys their integrity, stomps on their heart, and is cruel to them (and possibly even their children), yet they stay because they “love” him.?

This is not love… this is fear.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear,

because fear involves punishment,

and the one who fears is not perfected in love.

1 John 4:18

My seven year old daughter was riding with me the other day and it was just the two of us and she asked, “Momma, how will I know the man that God wants me to marry?” (Yes ladies at seven years old our daughters already are wondering about Mr Right… so define him to her now… before the Disney Channel and the little boys at school try to tell her who he is supposed to be)

I shared with her that she would know the man that God had chosen for her by looking for three main things:

1) He loved God more than he loved her

2) He was willing to give up his own life, his dreams, his toys, his pursuits, in order to make her his own, if that was what it took.

3) He will meet your Daddy’s approval. She could trust her Daddy’s judgment on the man. If her daddy did not approve, then he knew this man would not love her and care for her the way he was supposed to.

I told her if she set this as her standard… then she would know “the one” when God brought him into her life and it was time for her to marry him.

Let me ask you… are you currently in a “dating relationship” that doesn’t meet the above standards?

If so… why?

If you do not have an earthly father…

does your Heavenly Father approve of this relationship?

Is it one that honors Him?

Have you even asked Him about His thoughts on this relationship?

My ten year old daughter asked me one day “Momma, how do I know when God is talking to me and answering me when I pray and ask Him a question?

(Yes, ladies, your ten year olds are seeking answers and direction from God, they have real hurts, real struggles, real issues, if we can teach them how to go before the throne of grace of now and seek help in their time of need… wow, that’s all I am going to say)

I shared with her that when she was seeking God’s will, when she was seeking direction, she needed to talk to Him with her Bible open. Have a conversation with Him as she turned and scanned the pages… most often He will answer and give guidance through His Word.  Sometimes God would also send another Christian to her to let her know what she needed to do. If she was really looking for God to answer and was going to do whatever He said… then she would know that it was Him.

Today, ask God to show you where fear is controlling you and not faith.

He will.

I don’t know about you, but I hate being afraid. I don’t watch scary movies because I believe they are another tool of the enemy to numb our sensitivity to our fears and they glorify hell and not my God. I don’t like the knot that fear puts in my stomach or the pounding that it puts in my ears and the thoughts that come with it… I don’t like it at all.

So many times we make bad choices because of our fear of the future. We don’t know what will happen or what we will do if we leave… if we walk away from this that we know… so we stay… even if all we experience is pain.

We don’t know where this other way leads so we keep to this path that we know even though we always end up in the same place…

God has called us out… yet we stay… paralyzed by our fear that He just might not be for real… He just might fail us… after all “look at all I have done… how could He actually and really want me and have good planned out for me… how could God actually use me?”  

Jesus opened your prison door. It’s up to you to walk out! How do you do this? By forgiving every person who has ever brought you pain, including yourself. If God does not despise you for the ways you have tried to fill the void in your heart, neither should you despise yourself.

~ Shannon Ethridge

Sometimes fear causes us to run away when we need to stay and fight.

In marriages… how many times do we walk away because we don’t see how God could ever fix the mess? How many times do we abandon the hope of healing because we fear one more day of living in our current circumstances and we, with our eyes, can not see any possible hope of change?

Please I beg you; I implore you, do not walk away unless you know beyond the shadow of a doubt that God is releasing you. Yes, if abuse is involved you most likely need a time of separation for healing to take place, sometimes leaving is what is needed for a wake-up call, but give your marriage time to heal before you call it quits.

Give your spouse time and opportunity for God’s redemptive work to take place in their life.

Don’t let fear make you stay, and don’t let fear make you go, be still and know that He is God and trust and obey Him not fear.

He said, “ I heard the sound of You in the garden,

and I was afraid because I was naked;

so I hid myself.”

Genesis 3:10

We have to decide that we won’t let fear control us any longer. We have to decide that we had rather be controlled by the Spirit of God. Then we have to obey His Word… and trust Him with the consequences. We have to not hide ourselves from Him, we have to come out and trust in His love.

The best place to start is admitting that you are afraid.

Ask God to show you exactly what you are afraid of, then confess this to God and ask Him to forgive you for letting fear lead you instead of Him.

You have to confess fear, it is sin, and there is only One who has the power to give us victory over sin…

…Christ in you, the hope of glory

Colossians 1:27

It is confession that cleanses and heals and restores the soul.

It is laying our hearts open and bare before the Lord.

It is trusting in the character and name of our God and not in our circumstances that brings us victory.

It is in surrender to His will and His way and walking in obedience to His Word that we find peace… real, lasting, eternal peace.

Today your challenge is to raise your white flag of surrender because…

 …the white flag you will be waving as you surrender your past pain, present pride, and future fear is not a symbol of defeat. It is a symbol of victory, for it represents purity. You will be washed clean of all compromise as you allow God to transform you- heart and mind- into a woman who forgives her debtors, walks in humility, and faces the future with confidence in her Creator and Sustainer. White is your color, girlfriend! Post it proudly and enjoy the peacefulness and fulfillment of sweet surrender to the Savior.

~ Shannon Ethridge

Oh precious one, choose to surrender to, and to exalt your God… not your fear.

 

Surrendering

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Are your hands up in the air yet?

Are you beginning to surrender to Him and His oh so great love for you?

We are going deep again today… get ready.

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Day Twenty-One 

In the book Every Woman’s Battle, Shannon shares a story about a woman who was going through a struggle. The woman shared that she was no longer acting out sexually but was still struggling. She shared how she couldn’t get along with her roommates and how she hated the way she looked in the mirror, how she couldn’t sleep. How she was anxious, stressed, and angry but didn’t know why. She shared how she had been sick for months with one thing or another but the doctors could not find anything wrong… and now she was having suicidal thoughts again.

Shannon spoke with her and asked her to dig deep to see if there was anyone she was harboring unforgiveness toward, but the woman was sure she had forgiven everyone who had ever hurt her. Then Shannon said it hit her. She asked the woman if she had ever forgiven herself… to which the woman burst into tears and cried “No, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to.”   

Regardless of its source, we must surrender the pain from our past in order to stand strong in the battle for sexual and emotional integrity. ~ Shannon Ethridge

That surrender also includes the pain that comes from realizing our own choices have hurt us and no one else… Are you going through what this young woman was going through? Are you walking in self-unforgiveness? 

These are some facts that Shannon shares concerning unforgiveness. According to the January 1999 issue of Prevention magazine unforgiveness causes negative feelings about people in general, failure to recognize and enjoy potentially good relationships, and the following psychological and physical problems:

*chronic anxiety

*serious depression

*general mistrust

*poor self-esteem

*anger and hatred

*resentment

*rush of hormones exhilarate heart rate

*limits or shuts down immune system

*chances of heart attack increase by 500 percent

*risk of high blood pressure and cholesterol

*enhances risk of blood clots and cancer

*a host of other chronic issues

Shannon shares how she herself eventually found God’s grace for every person who had ever left her, let her down, or offended her. But forgiving herself for her own poor choices seemed to require more grace than she could muster.

She shared how when she would reflect on her past choices she would think “How stupid I’ve been!” “I should have known better!”, “No one could possibly love me if they knew all that I have done”

I know what she is talking about… I have been there with those same very thoughts. These thoughts leave you with a constant need of approval. You need someone else to tell you that they love you, to affirm your very reason for taking up oxygen on this earth. Because you hate yourself so much you are almost shocked when someone notices you… and you become an easy target for those who would take advantage of your weakness… you become a weak woman.

 For among them are those who enter into households

and captivate weak women weighed down with sins,

led on by various impulses, 

always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

 2 Timothy  3:6-7

You keep learning and learning but you never come to the truth. To the truth that God has forgiven you… so you ARE forgiven. God loves you… so you ARE loved. God says you are beautiful… so you ARE beautiful. You can’t grasp that God’s grace IS sufficient for you. So you fall prey into the hands of those who will destroy households and the cycle continues…

Ladies, listen closely…

When you believe that you are unable to forgive yourself then you are saying what Jesus did was not enough. You are calling the blood of your Christ insufficient. You also are saying that your own forgiveness of you is more important than God’s and requires more grace than what God is able to give.

For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one,

much more those who receive the abundance of grace

and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.  

Romans 5:17

Satan uses unforgiveness as a tool to bring about our destruction. Forgiveness foils Satan’s plots to stunt our spiritual growth.

Now today’s challenge is to look deep into your own heart and see if you need to begin the process of forgiveness… either toward yourself… or someone else.

I had student once say that she knew she needed to forgive. She knew she was supposed to, but no one had told her HOW. She wanted to be obedient. She wanted to forgive, but she did not know how to do it… so here are some steps in case you have this same question.

*Acknowledge your anger and hurt. It is very real and God knows it is there.

*Realize that holding on to this pain only holds you back

*Consciously let go of any need for revenge

*Consider the source of your pain: Hurting people hurt other people. Put yourself in there shoes.

*Pray earnestly for those who hurt you, asking God to heal the wounds that cause them to wound others.

*Pray that your wounds do not cause you to do the same to others.

As you walk through these steps of surrendering your unforgiveness so that you might be healed of your past emotional pain… you must also work on surrendering your pride.

Pride assumes several things:

*I deserve what I deserve

*My needs should be met at any cost

*Life is all about me and my pleasure

*The rules apply to everyone else but not me

*I’m above the consequences

Here’s the thing about pride… you could take that above list and use it as your excuses to commit sin or you could also take that list and use it as excuses to NOT accept the forgiveness of Christ for your past committed sins or His grace in your struggles in your new redeemed life.

We must surrender our unforgiveness and our pride if we are to be free from our past emotional pain. If we are to be able to walk into our future with the freedom that is ours in Christ then we must let go of all this junk that is wrapping us up around our ankles.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us,

let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin

 which so easily entangles us,

and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith,

who for the joy set before Him endured the cross,

despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  

Hebrews 12:1-2

Honey, you are loved!

You are forgiven.

You are accepted.

You are secure.

You are significant.

Trust me… His grace is enough.

His blood is enough… it is sufficient for your forgiveness and for your ability to forgive others.

 

 

Open The Eyes of My Heart

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We were created for relationships. We are relational beings. We were created for fellowship and intimacy with each other and with our God…

Then the LORD God said,

“It is not good for the man to be alone…”

Genesis 2:18

Then sin entered the picture…

They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day,

and the man and his wife hid themselves

from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 

Then the LORD God called to the man,

and said to him, “Where are you?”

Genesis 3:8-9

 

Sin came and made a separation in the One relationship that was designed to meet our every need for intimacy because He is the core of our desire to even be intimate. Deep down we are trying to meet a need for intimacy with each other that can only be met through intimacy with our Creator God… the Lover of our soul, the Creator of our soul, the only One who can truly see our hearts.

 …for God sees not as man sees,

for man looks at the outward appearance,

but the LORD looks at the heart. 

1 Samuel 16:7

 

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Day Twenty

Today let us get focused on seeking intimacy from the One whose relationship matters most…

In her book Shannon Ethridge shares, In our quest for relational intimacy, remember there is Someone we can whisper our heart’s desires to and get our boosts from who isn’t going to jeopardize our integrity but will strengthen it.

If you are thinking, no way will talking to God ever excite me like talking to a man, then you haven’t allowed yourself to be courted by our Creator. The same God whose words possessed the power to form the entire universe longs to whisper into your hungry heart words that have the power to thrill you, heal you, and draw you into a deeper love relationship than you ever imagined possible.

A guy may tell you that you look fine, but God’s says,

 

Then the King will desire your beauty…

Psalm 45:11

 

A man may tell you, “Of course I love you,” but God’s says,

 

…“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.

Jeremiah 31:3

 

Even your husband may tell you “I’m committed to you until death,” but God says,

 

…for He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU,

NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,”

Hebrews 13:5

 

Make time to retreat to a quiet place with the Lover of your soul. Speak whatever is on your heart, and then listen as God speaks straight from His heart directly to yours. 

Jesus came to bridge that relational divide that occurred that day in the garden. He came to restore us to fellowship with our Creator and God. Remember precious one, the veil was torn, the dividing wall has been torn down, you can go boldly into His throne of grace…

 

Remember that you are accepted in Christ, you are secure in Christ, and you are significant in Christ… God so desired to be in a relationship with you… He so desired that you know Him as He knows you…

that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive,

because it does not see Him or know Him,

but you know Him because He abides with you

and will be in you.

John 14:17

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but if anyone loves God,

he is known by Him.

1 Corinthians 8:3 

 

that He came all the way from glory to rescue you…

Trust me, Lady Gaga knows nothing about being on the edge of glory… but Jesus does… He willingly jumped off the edge of glory to rescue you because He wants you to see His glory and to share in it with Him…

The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.

 “O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”

~ Jesus (John 17:22-26)

Today you challenge is to listen to Jesus. Today is the day to seek that quiet place and retreat with the Lover of your soul… don’t put Him off. This is how much He loves you…

And sweet sister know…

that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory,

may give to you a spirit of wisdom

and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. 

Ephesians 1:17

Ask Him to open the eyes of your heart… He will!

Communication Boundaries

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Yesterday we talked about the danger of flirting and how “just talking” is dangerous. Today I am going to share some of the communication boundaries that Shannon recommends

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Day Nineteen

While many women flirt with men intentionally others don’t realize that their amorous comments are inappropriate. We hear this kind of language so often in the media that flirting can be a natural or automatic response. Some women are too naive to recognize the impact that their words and mannerisms have on the opposite sex. Other women are well aware, but are so hungry for affirmation that they continue to jeopardize their integrity in order to fish for compliments anyway.

Remember ladies, we will give an account for every word… we must always ask our self what is my motive in saying what I am saying… my real motive.

While kind words and compliments can be appropriate, we must be honest about our motives and recognize when they border on becoming manipulative or flirtatious. Even when we learn to discern whether we are flirting or not, there are other forms of communication that can also lead to sexual and emotional compromise.

We are going to look at some boundaries now. This first set of boundaries is huge!! If you don’t put any other boundary to action please put this one…

Complaining About The Complaining

Ladies, please do not complain about your husband to another man.

I won’t go so far as to say that women never have a right to complain about their husbands, but such behavior with someone of the opposite sex can backfire in a hurry.

Shannon shares about woman named Beth whose husband was emotionally and verbally abusive to her. He complained about everything she did and she was hurt by him. So she complained about him one day to a male co-worker… who also chose to complain about his complaining wife to her. This continued and developed into an affair. The complaining did neither one of them any good and it did nothing to heal their marriage or bring them closer to their spouse.

In hindsight, Beth realizes that two wrongs certainly didn’t make a right. While her husband had no right to treat her so poorly, she only made the situation worse by complaining to another man about her husband.

If you are experiencing an issue in your marriage and you need to talk about it, this is where the godly female friendships are so very needed. You need godly friendships with women who will teach you how to love your husband. Who will help you get a right perspective on the situation instead of just looking at it through the eyes of your hurt and disappointment.

Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior,

not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine,

teaching what is good, 

so that they may encourage the young women

to love their husbands, to love their children,  

Titus 2:3-4 

When Not To Help

Women can be far to nurturing in situations, even when red flags begin to surface we often think, But he needs me… I’m just trying to be a friend… How can I possibly not help? That would not be very Christlike!

I had a mentor warn me of this as she shared with me about ministering. She worked in the office at our church and a man came in needing financial help. As he shared his story, she was listening intently and with compassion, and he then did something that sent a red flag up in her spirit. She realized that he was being insincere and was trying to draw her into an uncomfortable situation and was taking advantage of her compassion and attention.

You need ladies like this in your life to teach these things to you… as women in our desire to help we can miss the red flags. (We will talk about this more next week as we discuss accountability partners)

Stick To Business At Hand

It has been said that men use conversation as a means of communicating information, but women use conversation as a means of bonding… And yes, the more we communicate with a person, the more we bond. So we would do well to take a lesson from the men in this area and learn to stick to business a little better. We can learn to communicate with men in friendly, but to-the-point ways, that will not jeopardize our emotional integrity.

Voice to voice:

*set a timer when communicating with a male co-worker or business venture… allot time for how much the business will take and the timer will go off to help you not move from business to personal conversation when the business talk is over

*use the speakerphone and pretend you are also on a speakerphone

*screen calls if you are receiving calls from a co-worker that is “pushing-it” or that you are tempted by and don’t answer until you are collected and able to stand

*avoid late night conversations with any male who is not your husband (whether single or married)

 Face to face:

*when in a conversation alone with a person of the opposite sex that is not your spouse, stick to the business at hand. Keep you motives in check and guard the conversation. Make sure you don’t have a hidden agenda in the conversation. Do not use him as a sounding board and do not try and test his personal resolve, and do not use him to get your own ego stroked

*if a man tries to act flirtatious with you and draw you into a flirtatious conversation… find a distraction and get out of that conversation altogether. You can do this politely without causing any weirdness… and when you do not feed the conversation with flirting in return, the attempts at flirtatious conversations usually will stop coming from this person.

*when a male coworker or friend shows up unexpected and you are home alone have a go-to-girl, someone who you can call to “show up” as well, so that you will not be alone. If a friend is not available… keep the man out side the home if possible, and keep the conversation minimal and quick.

*at work, if in a meeting alone with someone with the opposite sex, keep the door propped open, one supervisor Shannon knows had a glass door installed in her office so that at all times someone could see what was going on so there would never be a question about what was going on behind closed doors… (is this a step you could take?)

*try never to be alone in the car with someone of the opposite sex… it might be better to turn down that business trip rather than put yourself in that position and jeopardize your marriage and integrity

Computer-to-computer:

*I realize that we all must email and receive emails from people of the opposite sex, but once again keep it quick and to the point and only business, as women we tend use to many words in the email… making it sometimes a little too personal…

*if a man from your past, a previous relationship, attempts to contact you… you do not have to respond, and if you do keep it short, and let them know not to contact you again, especially if you got “excited” when you saw the message

*avoid personal email accounts that your spouse doesn’t have a password too, you should be able to keep each other accountable, simply by knowing that your spouse could be logged on at any time.

*if a man tries to invade your personal space through instant messaging and chat… once again you do not have to respond. (another boundary my husband and I put in place is no “friending” of past relationships, leave the past in the past)

*this goes for texting as well. Keep it short and to the point. If it is someone you know is pushing the boundaries with you, the great thing about texting is that you don’t have to respond.

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Okay so there were come some recommended boundaries… as you read did see any you had already implemented in your life and marriage? Did you see some that might be a good idea to implement from now on.

My husband and I have always used one big boundary. When we got married we put one big rule in place: “Don’t Put Yourself In The Situation”. This one rule has been a guard and a guide through our past almost thirteen years of marriage (it’s  almost fifteen now :-)… and it works. 

You can’t make a wrong choice and a false rumor cannot get started if you are not in the situation for it to happen.

Another gage I personally use is, “Is this something I would want my husband reading, seeing, saying, doing, with or about another woman?” If I would get ticked off or be hurt by this word or action in reverse then it means I don’t do it and I don’t say it.

Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.

Luke 6:31

It’s as simple as that.

Let the Word of God speak…

Flirting With Danger

 

 

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Ladies… those that are still with me… you have made it past the halfway point in the challenge. I do hope that the past seventeen days have been a time of quiet reflection and heart examination and most importantly a time of weeding out deception.

My sister in Christ, I hope you understand how I desire to see you walk in victory. How I desire that you know who you are in Him. How I desire that you know that He can indeed meet your every need. How I desire that you live a life worthy of your calling. How I desire to see the glorious name of Christ magnified through you as you live a life that testifies of His grace and mercy and love and power over the evil one and even over your own heart…

Let us put to death the deeds of the flesh and let us live and walk by the Spirit of our God.

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DAY EIGHTEEN 

Today we are going to begin talking about the power of our words…

What is a four-letter word for a woman’s favorite foreplay activity?

T-A-L-K!

Think about it. What affair has ever taken place without intimate words exchanged? Women often tell me, “I’ve not been unfaithful to my husband. All this man and I have done is talk.”

~ Shannon Ethridge

Ladies, have you heard that one as well?

Have you used that one as well?

Or maybe as a single woman you used this referring to someone else’s husband… with your back straight and your head high maybe you’ve said, “Well I can’t believe his wife is so jealous, I mean good grief, we are just friends, all we have ever done is talk!”

Or as a single girl to a single guy friend you have no intentions of pursuing romantically, “I don’t know why he thought I was in to him, all I ever did was talk with him

Let me ask you… as you talked, what did you talk about? How did you smile? What was your body language like? Where did your hands go while you talked? The longer you talked how deep into their eyes did you look? What would you have done, how would you have felt if their spouse, or your spouse, walked in at that exact moment?

As you asked yourself these questions did you start making excuses?

You can betray with words long before you betray with your body. Be very careful. There is a very thin line between being “a cut-up” and “flirting”. Make sure you do not cross it…

Men and women are different. You may not be doing or saying anything that you wouldn’t do or say if it was another female you were talking to… but this is not another female. This is a male. So be careful. If you are paying attention you will know the moment that you or they have crossed the line.

We must remember what we have already learned… an affair begins long before sexual intercourse ever takes place. It begins in your mind and in your heart. Your words prove it. Then your body acts on it.

 

For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.

The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good;

and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil.  

But I tell you that every careless word that people speak,

they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.

For by your words you will be justified,

and by your words you will be condemned.”

Matthew 12:34-37

Regardless of her marital status, should a woman stir up a man (emotionally or physically) when she has no intention of pursuing a relationship with him? Is it loving to tease someone with your attentions and affections if you have no desire to fulfill any hopes you may arouse? In my opinion, showing a sincere love and respect for others allows no room for flirting or teasing. 

In my opinion, it is never appropriate for a married woman to behave amorously with anyone other than her husband. If we go back to one of our definitions of a woman of integrity, you’ll remember that she lives a life that lines up with her lips, and vice versa. If we are going to be loyal to our marriage partner, we must demonstrate our faithfulness not just in our actions, but also in our communication with other people. 

Even if you do not have serious intent when you begin batting compliments or overly friendly exchanges with a man, the excitement of those ego strokes can pull you down the road toward sexual compromise, usually slowly, but sometimes at lightning speed.

 

But immorality or any impurity or greed

must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints;

 and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting,

which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.

 Ephesians 5:3-4

 

Married ladies here’s the trap I think we fall into, our home becomes the place of business and then the office, the school, the ball field, and yes even the church… becomes the playground.

At home you and your spouse discuss the business at hand. What bills need paid, what appointments need met, what chores need done, who needs ran where at what time, etc. Then you go on and take care of business, possibly never even touching each other or even looking each other in the eyes.

But at work, school, church, wherever… it doesn’t matter… there is that person that smiles at you. There is that person who compliments you. There is that person that notices your hard work. There is that person that light-heartedly makes all the comments and winks at you as they say them. They actually look at you when they talk to you. They noticed your new hair-do. They noticed that shirt brought out your eyes. They never once mentioned something you forgot, something you broke, or something you didn’t do just right. So you are giddy… and Satan is getting you ready.

Ladies, let me ask you, when was the last time you “noticed” your husband? When was the last time you complimented him? When was the last time you used your words to just “play” with him? When was the last time you “flirted” with your man?

Today’s challenge, I want you to focus on flipping the playground, if just by chance you are caught in the mundane marriage trap. It most certainly does not have to be that way. Your home can be the playground. It should be the playground.

You know that shirt that is in the closet that you realized is little too low cut to wear out… well, wear it at home for your husband. Make a point to lean into him so that he notices… but not so much to be obvious (don’t act like you don’t how to do this 😉

Make sure you touch him when he walks by you… if you haven’t done this in a while… he is already going to be wondering what is going on. You can just start out with a touch on his arm or placing your hand on his hip as you pass each other in the bathroom or kitchen. You can start out slow and start seducing your husband… He will LOVE it and so will you.

Do not get discouraged if he doesn’t respond for a while, just keep it up. Don’t expect him to do the same to you… this isn’t about you. This is about you honoring your God, and honoring your marriage and honoring your husband and giving any attention that you have been giving away to others back to him.

If you have been just business and routine at home for a while… this is going to blow his mind.

Start flirting with your husband. Make a point to look in his eyes and give him “that look”. My husband knows my looks… he can see my heart through my eyes. I bet yours can too, even if he hasn’t looked in a while. It just might be because he didn’t see himself there anymore.

Make little sexual innuendoes towards him. Ladies, here is the fun of marriage! Your home is where the playground should be.

I remember watching a comedian once, I don’t remember who he was, I am sure he wasn’t a Christian comedian… because it was before I was walking with the Lord… but he was sharing about being out on the road as his comedian act demanded… and of course any man on a “stage” has women after him. He shared how some woman came up to him to seduce him to have sex with her and she said something like “I will do things for you your wife would never do…” He said he just laughed at her and said “You don’t know my wife!”  

You see ladies, that’s the way I want my husband to be able to respond to any seductress! Yes, I want him to honor our marriage out of His obedience and love for God, but I also want him to just flat out enjoy me. So often as Christian women we are uncomfortable with sex because the world has done a mighty fine job of distorting it and making it look “dirty” but sex in the confines of marriage between man and wife is not dirty at all, it is holy.

So let us use our words to flirt and tease with the one that we can actually follow through with our bodies and maintain our emotional and sexual integrity.

Honey, are you willing to become “undignified” and throw all caution to the wind in order to blow your husband’s mind?

 

Aroused, Attached, Addicted

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Okay ladies, I hope you took the time yesterday to truly examine your heart and your relationships. I hope that the questions helped you to do that… now for any of you who in this process of examination realized that they were indeed too emotionally connected to someone who was not their husband, or was someone else’s husband (even if you have not let that person know about your feelings, however if you have let them know and they reciprocate those feelings, then you are involved in an emotional affair), or if you have allowed someone to get emotionally connected to you, just to feed your ego, when you have no intentions of ever reciprocating these emotions… then today we will discuss what to do now.

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Day Seventeen

What to do if you have realized that you have crossed the line of emotional integrity:

First, ask God for forgiveness. An emotional affair may not be as big a deal as a physical affair in the world’s eyes, but all sin is equal in God’s eyes. As you are praying for forgiveness, also ask God to reveal whether you should confess your sin to your spouse. As terrifying as this thought may be, don’t let fear convince you that keeping it secret is the best thing for your marriage.

 If we confess our sins,

He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins

and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness

1 John 1:9

 

Next, pray for God’s divine protection, not just over your body, but over your heart, mind, and mouth as well. …but make sure this [other] person doesn’t become the focus of your prayers.

O LORD, I call upon You; hasten to me!
Give ear to my voice when I call to You!
May my prayer be counted as incense before You;
The lifting up of my hands as the evening offering.
Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth;
Keep watch over the door of my lips.
Do not incline my heart to any evil thing,
To practice deeds of wickedness
With men who do iniquity;
And do not let me eat of their delicacies.

Psalm 141:1-4

Third, avoid any unnecessary contact with this person.  In the same way that you might have gone out of your way to cross this person’s path, now go out of your way to stay out of his path… Remember actions speak louder than words. When you refuse to remain in the presence of temptation, it loses its hold on you.

 Rise up! Consecrate the people and say,

‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow,

for thus the LORD, the God of Israel, has said,

 “There are things under the ban in your midst, O Israel.

You cannot stand before your enemies

until you have removed the things under the ban from your midst.”

 Joshua 7:13

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But put on the Lord Jesus Christ,

and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.

Romans 13:14

 

Finally, seek a trusted friend or counselor to hold you accountable through this season of temptation. If you know you are going to have to answer to someone else- whether it is your husband, a friend, or a counselor- about your thoughts, words, and actions, you’ll try harder to limit them to things you wouldn’t be embarrassed to admit. Getting real and honest with yourself and with someone who can keep you from falling into the pit of compromise is the best lifeline available.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another,

and pray for one another so that you may be healed.

The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

James 5:16

 

My experience has been that if you starve your desire to be emotionally intimate with a man, it eventually dies. The more you control your appetite for forbidden fruit, the more dignity and satisfaction you will feel about yourself and your ability to be a woman of sexual and emotional integrity.

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Let us remember that emotional arousal and attachment is the red light.

Now I want to address those who might have already ran the red light. I want to address those who are in an emotional affair and might even be so far as to be addicted to emotional affairs. I understand that if you are here most likely it is because you have chosen to use these emotions as some kind of balm for your pain. Maybe you are married to an abusive husband, whether that abuse is emotional, verbal, or physical, and you have used this emotional affair as an escape from your reality. Please know that this is not going to get you any where. It is only going to cause you greater hurt in the end. 

Shannon shares that rather than running to the Ultimate Healer for relief from our emotional wounds, women often make idols of relationships- worshiping a man instead of God. We begin submitting to a man’s and our own unholy desires rather than submitting to God’s desires for our holiness and purity, thus becoming a slave to our passions. When we peel back the layers of this issue, we can see the core problem: doubt that God can truly satisfy our innermost needs  

I’ve known many women who have journeyed to this depth of desperation, hoping to find something to fill the void in their hearts, only to discover that the pit was far deeper, darker, and more lonely than they could have imagined. I’m one of those women, but after many years of focusing my attentions and affections on my first love (Jesus Christ) and my second love (my husband), my life is a testimony to God’s changing grace. In His lavish love, God’s arm of mercy reaches further than we could ever fall. 

Ladies, let me assure you that God’s way is the best way. Do not let the enemy or the world or the greatness of your pain lead you down the path of destruction. There is grace and mercy and hope in Christ. Do not doubt the grace of God. Do not doubt His ability to meet your every need, to meet you where you are at. Do not doubt His ability to heal your heart and to heal your marriage. Don’t run to band-aids and ointments that only treat the symptoms and mask the cause. Get to the heart of the matter, go for the root, and trust God. 

Now if you are still doubting that God can meet your needs… Shannon has a challenge for you. So here’s your challenge for today… some more questions to ponder: 

*Have I really invested much time getting to know God personally and intimately?

*Do I read the Bible searching for clues as to God’s character and plan for my life?

*Have I given God as many chances as I have given other men? fantasy? Internet chat room?

*Have I ever made the choice to pray or to dance to worship music or to go for a walk with God instead of picking up the phone to call a guy when I’m lonely?

*Are there moments spent alone (masturbating, fantasizing, reading or looking at inappropriate materials, and so on) that I ignore God’s presence in an attempt to satisfy myself?

*Do I believe God can satisfy every single need I have?

*Am I willing to test this belief by letting go of all things, people, and thoughts that I use to medicate my pain, fear, loneliness, and becoming totally dependent upon God?

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[If during the course of this challenge you have realized that you have ran past the red light of emotional attachment and affairs and realize that you are in fact addicted to emotional connections and romantic affairs having realized as you examined your life and actions that you were no longer concerned about who got hurt, but was only concerned about having your own hurts covered and eased, then please seek help at www.everywomansbattle.com. Your addiction is real. You are caught in the cycle of seeking relief for your pain in a way that causes more pain thus leading you to seek relief from that pain causing more pain… etc. You don’t have to suffer in silence.]  

Getting To The Heart Of The Matter

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Obviously your heart needs to be a primary concern if you hope to be a woman of sexual and emotional integrity. It’s one thing to determine how far is too far physically in a premarital or extramarital relationship, but it’s another to answer how far is too far emotionally. What are the emotional boundaries?

~Shannon Ethridge

Okay ladies, today we are going to learn some tools to stand against the enemy and to guard our hearts. The best tools are knowledge and love. Love without knowledge is foolishness and knowledge without love is dangerous. We need both at the same time.

but grow in the grace and knowledge

of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 3:18

Because lawlessness is increased,

 most people’s love will grow cold.

Matthew 24:12

As the knowledge of the true Word of God slips away out of our society we see society’s love grow cold. When the Word of God is not renewing our own mind… we will find our love growing cold. Real love, sacrificial love, obedient love… will grow cold apart from the Word of God. As lawlessness increases in our day we see our society remove itself farther and farther away from the truth of the Word.

If you take a moment to think about a time that you chose to allow a certain sin in your life, a time of lawlessness, what was your love like? Was it sacrificial or selfish? Was it on fire for God or going through the motions? Did you hunger for the Word or did you not want It near you? 

We must never stop growing in the grace and knowledge of our God because the moment we do our love begins to cool and it won’t be long before we are chilled to the bone.   

but speaking the truth in love,

we are to grow up in all aspects into Him

who is the head, even Christ,

Ephesians 4:15

I used to have my list of sins that a “real” Christian could never commit, if they were indeed a “real” Christian. However, as I have grown in the grace and knowledge and love of God in my own life I have learned that a Christian is not an exception to humanity.

Our condemnation just falls harder from the enemy because we “are supposed to know better”. But the truth is sometimes we just don’t know enough. Granted most of the time it’s because we simply have not taken the time to know more. We have become easily satisfied with whatever the preacher delivers us on Sunday mornings instead of feeding ourselves daily.

Daniel was the man in Scripture who was called a man of high esteem, he had uncompromising integrity. Do you think that just might be because he prayed to our God three times a day? Morning, noon, and night he called on the Lord… let us be willing to give our God the same… to seek Him… to be in constant fellowship with Him. He is only a prayer away.

I hope that these past fifteen days have been a time of growth for you and also a time of amazing fellowship with your Creator as you have focused on getting the “other” things out of the way to make more room for Him in your heart.

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Day Sixteen

I want to be a woman of sexual and emotional integrity. I lived a life so far from God and His Word and I blasphemed His name among the lost because I still called myself a Christian as I lived a life that in no way represented who I claimed to be. I thank God that He is aware that I am but dust. He saw my ignorance and passed over my sin and chose even still to forgive me and to give me life.

Today I am going to share the tools with you that Shannon share’s in her book to help us walk in sexual and emotional integrity. Because the last thing I want to do is blaspheme His name among the lost again. The enemy of our souls knows how to bring us down and he knows the power of emotional manipulation and sexual temptation. Don’t think he won’t use it against us. Don’t think that he will not take the bond that is formed by believers in the unity of the Holy Spirit and try to pervert it.

Shannon share five stages of emotional connection and has them marked with a green light, a yellow light, and a red light to let us know when all is good, when we need to be careful, and when we need to stop and back the truck up.

Emotional connections:

(1) attention

(2) attraction

(3) affection

(4) arousal and attachment

(5) affairs and addiction

Attention, this is based on what we see, whereas attraction is based on what we hear.

That’s why you may see someone, they have caught your attention and you may think, “hmmmmm” but then they open their mouth and you think “ughhhh, ewwwww”.

Or you see someone and go “ughhhh, ewwwww” and then they open their mouth and you go “ohhhhhhh”.

Now in attraction you become familiar enough with the person to know you are drawn to him, but you are not yet familiar enough to act affectionately toward that person.

Both attention and attraction are not limited to men but include a wide variety of things: the kind of clothes we like, the style of house we prefer, and the type of food we crave.

When you go to church or business meetings, you probably are drawn to certain individuals but not to others. The woman who became your friend is probably someone you run to when you need a hug or have really good news to share.

Society has twisted our minds into thinking that if we are drawn to someone, we must want to have sex with them. But attraction isn’t necessarily sexual. 

(Personally I believe this lie and twisting of attention and attraction and affection is one of the tools that the enemy has used to convince many that they must be homosexual or bisexual to feel the way they do. We will discuss this in more depth later in the challenge)

When we find ourselves attracted to someone we then begin to move into showing that person affection. Here is where the green light goes to yellow. Here is where you, married or single, have to pay close attention to your motives and your actions. We show affection in many ways and to many individuals. We not only show our husband affection, but we also show our children affection through cards, hugs, helps, words, etc. We also show our friends affection in similar ways and we can safely do this with our male friends also if we watch our motives.

Married women, here are some questions you need to prayerfully ask yourself before you show any type of affection to a man who is not your husband. 

* What is my motive for making this expression of affection? Is it appropriate? 

* Am I trying to show genuine appreciation for this individual, or do I have a hidden agenda?

* Am I using affection to draw this person into a deeper relationship?

* Could this expression be misinterpreted in such a way that this man would be confused, tempted, or suspicious of my motives?

*Is this expression of affection one that I wouldn’t mind my spouse knowing about?

Single women, here are some for you:

*Is this person unattached? Does this person have a “significant other” in his life who would be concerned with how I express affection toward him?

*Is my expression of affection in line with the current level of my relationship with this person?

*Do I sense that this man has personal feelings for me that I do not reciprocate? If so, would signs of affection give him the impression that I am interested in more than friendship when, in fact, I am not?

*Could this expression of affection be interpreted as seductive, or does it truly express godly character?

Now we are getting into the red light district, Emotional Arousal and Attachment. Now if you are a single woman then this is still in the yellow light for you, that is if the man is also single, but if you are married and you are at emotional arousal and attachment with a man that is not your husband, RED LIGHT!

Emotional arousal occurs when we are stirred romantically by someone, and it usually precedes most sexual activity because our heart determines the direction of our mind and body.  

How can you tell the difference between attraction or affection and emotional arousal and attachment toward a man? Here are some questions to ask…

* Do you think of this man often (several times each day) even though he is not around?

* Do you select your daily attire based on whether you will see this person?

* Do you go out of your way to run into him, hoping he will notice you?

*Do you look for excuses to call him so you can hear his voice?

* Do you find reasons to email him, eagerly anticipating his response?

* Do you wonder is he feels any attraction towards you?

* Do you want to talk or spend time alone with this person, out of earshot or eyesight of anyone else?

Your challenge today is to spend time examining your heart and your friendships, especially those with the opposite sex. Ask yourself these questions and see where you are at in your emotional and sexual integrity. Tomorrow we will look at what to do if you have found yourself caught up in an emotional affair or have even progressed into an addiction…

Precious one, there is forgiveness and there is hope. 

  

  

     

Jesus Loves Me

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Yesterday we looked at freeing our mind as we talked about the importance of taking every thought captive as we guard our mind against the schemes of the enemy. We talked about how it’s not enough to just avoid trash intake… you must replace the trash with the Word of God.

 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable,

whatever is right, whatever is pure,

whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute,

if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise,

dwell on these things. 

Philippians 4:8

We must be very careful what we allow our minds to dwell on… because our thoughts will become our actions. We must not allow our minds to think or imagine things that go against the Word of God. We are not to fantasize about men that are not our husbands, whether we are single or married.

Now before we go any further let me assure you that if you are married… honey go right on ahead and fantasize about you and your man! (Aghum, that is, as long as no one else is included in the fantasy.) We must remember that marriage is about becoming one. It is about becoming “known”  and we’ll get deeper into the becoming known later in the challenge. Marriage is about intimacy with your spouse and only your spouse. If your fantasy begins to include any extra participant take that thought captive… it is a perversion of what is true, honorable, right, pure, and lovely.

Today we are beginning a focus on guarding our hearts… never forget that as a woman you must guard your mind and your heart… your mind follows your heart. When you emotionally connect with a man (fictional or real) then your mind begins to fantasize about him and then you desire to make your fantasy a reality. However a man, fantasizes in his mind and then seeks to emotionally connect so that he can make the fantasy a reality. Remember men give love to get sex and women give sex to get love.

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Day Fifteen 

Ladies, we must guard our hearts and we must teach our daughters and any other young women in our lives how to do this as well… victory IS possible and it is imperative.

“While the need to love and to feel loved is a universal cry of the heart, the problem lies in where we look for this love. If we are not getting the love we need or want from a man- whether or not we have a husband- we may go searching for it. Some look in bars and others in business offices. Some look on college campuses and some look in churches. Some women look to male friends while others look to fantasy. When love eludes them, some women seek to medicate the pain of loneliness or rejection. Some take solace in food; others in sexual relationships with any willing partner. Some turn to soap operas; others to shopping; and still others to self-gratification.

If you have tried any of these avenues for long, you have likely come to a dead end. Your pursuit has left you longing for something greater, something deeper, something more.”

~ Shannon Ethridge

Are you at that dead end? Honey I have seen it and it is not a pretty place to be… so if you are there or if you find yourself there one day… there is only one thing to do at a dead… turn around! 

 But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 

Therefore remember from where you have fallen,

and repent and do the deeds you did at first;

Revelation 2:4-5

Repent, turn around, head back to your first love… to Christ.

I remember being a little girl and being so in love and in awe with my God. “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so…”

I loved Him, I did.

I didn’t know Him… but I loved Him.

Loving Christ but not knowing Him is kind of like that dream you have for that spouse, for that  husband, you may not have met them yet but you love them… and even when you do marry them… you love them… but you still don’t really know them. Now the test comes when you have to choose to remember your “first love” for them as you get to know them… really know them.

As a little girl, I loved Him, I loved Jesus. Yet, I didn’t get to know Him. So my heart’s void was not filled with my love’s devotion to Him because I wasn’t seeking Him to fill that void… I forgot Him. I turned to other things to fill it. Things I could easily see and touch and feel… you know the things that didn’t require so much trust and work on my part.

I didn’t guard my heart and mind and save it for my Jesus… I gave it away… and my body followed.

I ended up at that dead end. However here’s the awesome and amazing thing about my Jesus, He can be found at the dead end. He doesn’t care how “lost” you are, He will get you turned around and headed in the right direction if you will just listen and fall into His arms. He will lift you up off your feet and carry you out of the muck of life better than any Richard Gere could his Debra Winger.

My First LoveHe took me back. He didn’t care how dirty I was… He didn’t care about all the times I chose to fill His place in my life with cheap worthless things… He still loved me. He never stopped loving me.

If you are at that dead end… remember your First Love and turn around. When you fall back into His arms He will teach you how to guard your heart and to fill any void you have had with Him, the real lasting genuine deal. He will not reject you. He will not leave you lonely. He will not leave you empty. He beckons you to Him so that you can get to know Him… really know Him.

The LORD appeared to him from afar, saying,

 “I have loved you with an everlasting love;

Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.

Jeremiah 31:3

When you remember your First Love and return to Him and begin to fill your heart with His love, it is out of this love, His love for you, that you are now finally able to really love others… including your husband. If you are single it is out of this love, His love, that you are able to say “no” to anything that would pervert or prevent love between you and your future husband.

If we are ever to have the ability to guard our hearts and our minds against the lies of the enemy and the seductions of this world… we must start here. We must start with remembering our Jesus and making peace with our God. “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so…”

And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension,

 will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:7

 So today let us just examine our hearts.

Today focus on the oh so great love that Jesus has for you. Remember Him. Take the time today to write a love letter to Him. Tell Him about what you remember about that day you first fell in love with Him. Sing Him a love song. Take the opportunity today to get alone with your Love and dance with Him… Close your eyes and praise Him and use your mind and your heart to imagine His arms around you and His voice whispering His Words of unfailing love in Your ears.

Trust me, you will know He is there 🙂

Free Your Mind

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Sow a thought, reap an action:
Sow an action, reap a habit;
Sow a habit, reap a character;
Sow a character, reap a destiny.
~ Samuel Smiles

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Day Fourteen

One of the first things I realized after I was wholly surrendered to my Christ was that my thought life had gotten me in A LOT of trouble. My thoughts ended up becoming my actions… every time. 

I learned this playing ball.
I had a coach that taught me to lay on may back and shoot my basketball in the air and catch it and visualize it going in the basket, stripping the net. I did… and when game time came it worked. If I wasn’t practicing physically, I was mentally. I did the same in softball as a pitcher. I visualized where I wanted the ball to go then I pitched it.

I learned the power of my thoughts and mind as I read books. I honestly cannot tell you half the time if a picture in my head or a story line in my memory, is from a book I read or a movie I saw. It gets all tangled up in the filing cabinet of my brain because when I read it is just as visual to me as a movie.

I didn’t realize the danger of my thoughts until I began to grow in Christ. It had never really occurred to me that my thought life really mattered. I used it for sports and for getting into a good book… but I had never connected the fact that my failure in sexual and emotional integrity had anything to do with my thought life…

  As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father,
and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind;
for the LORD searches all hearts,
and understands every intent of the thoughts.
If you seek Him, He will let you find Him;
but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever.
1 Chronicles 28:9

 

After becoming wholly surrendered to Christ I looked back on my life.
I realized that I had been playing out sexual immorality and impurity in my mind through the books I was reading and the songs I was listening to and the movies I was watching. So when you throw in a little alcohol with a mind full of trash… well I was powerless to fight.

I was deceived.
I was defeated.
I was in fact in the very process of being destroyed.

Satan’s plan was working… my inability to fight and my guilt and shame from being unable, plus the emotional and mental and spiritual damage that I was placing band-aid over band-aid over and self-medicating with alcohol, drugs, and illusion…

My thoughts turned from visualizing sexual immorality to visualizing my suicide.

What would be the best way.
How could I do it without hurting my family.
It would have to look like an accident.
I don’t want my family blaming themselves because it’s not there fault…
I just can’t live with me anymore.

Have you been there?
Are you there?

Wretched man that I am!

Who will set me free from the body of this death? 

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Romans 7:24-25

Praise God in Christ Jesus my Life and my Lord!

Yes! He can set you free from the body of this death!

This death of your soul that happens little by little through sin and fear and failure… your spirit is already dead without Christ… so Satan is after your soul… your hope , the very hope that will cause you to cry out to your God for help, for salvation, for life. He wants to silence your voice. To keep you from confessing the truth and finding life… he wants you to believe his lies and die.

Oh honey, don’t believe him.

Don’t let him silence your voice and destroy your soul.

Cry out to Christ and let Him save your soul and give you His Spirit so that you will be complete in Him. Whole in Him… mind, body, soul, and spirit.

When I cried out to God for help and called on the name of Jesus to save me and was wholly surrendered to Him I began to study His words of truth like a mad woman. I was tired of studying lies. I needed more Life in me… I was tired of death.

The more I studied the Word, the more I realized how dangerous my thoughts could be to me, to my relationship with God, and to my relationship with others. I realized it began in my mind and then was acted out in my actions… then I read:

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, 
for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh,
but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 
We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing
raised up against the knowledge of God,
and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, 
and we are ready to punish all disobedience,
whenever your obedience is complete.
2 Corinthians 10:3-6 

 

Take every thought captive. I read this, and I thought, and I said to God… how? How do I do it? How do I take every thought captive? What does that mean?

Guess what He told me.
And He taught me.
He’s a pretty good Father like that 🙂

The first thing He taught me was that I needed to stop filling my mind with the trash I had been feeding it. Then I needed to fill my mind with His Word. Cleaning out the cup does no good if you leave it empty… You have to fill it with a nutritious drink and actually put it to your mouth and drink. You have to swallow it and allow it to become a part of you and infiltrate your entire system.

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God,

to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice,

acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 

And do not be conformed to this world,

but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,

so that you may prove what the will of God is,

that which is good and acceptable and perfect. 

Romans 12:1-2

If I wanted my actions to be holy the first thing I had to do was get my thoughts holy… I needed a mind make-over. And ladies if you haven’t picked up on it yet… that’s what this challenge has been focused on thus far… a mind make-over. Thirty-three days to a new you… if you continue in what God is opening your eyes to as we go though this challenge.

Cause here’s the thing,

“No matter how well you try to prevent tempting thoughts from entering through the gate of your mind, some will slip through. Life brings temptations. The day you stop experiencing temptation isn’t the day you stop reading romance novels or watching R-rated movies or the day you put a wedding ring on your finger or the day you fast and pray for twelve hours straight. The day you stop experiencing temptation is the day you die. Temptation comes part and parcel with being human, and you are no exception to that rule.”

~ Shannon Ethridge 

So your specific challenge until March 17th… take every thought captive. In your minds… when temptations invade…

Take. Them. Captive.

Rebuke them. Send them back to hell where they came from and then fill your mind with the Truth of God that refutes that sinful thought.

And ladies, single or married, don’t think on committing acts of sexual immorality with that guy… think on how to say NO when that guy wants something that belongs to THE guy.

Ladies practice this with the young ladies in your life. Teach them to rehearse saying no in their mind. I would go so far as to write out a script and rehearse a play by play. If he says this you say that, and if he says this, then you can say that…   
Free your mind!
Your actions will follow…