The Truth About America

I haven’t used this blog to talk about a political issue, however, I believe the time has come for me to do that. Below is a copy of an email I sent to five leaders of the Southern Baptist Conference about eight weeks ago. The president of the conference is J.D. Greears. He was one of the men who received this email. I have not altered the content.

In his talk Mr. Greears was touting the fact that they were adding people of color to their leadership ranks on an ongoing basis because “this is the way we need to operate to move forward with the times we are living in.” (That is a paraphrase.) Please do not misunderstand me. If God brings people of color into Christian organizations that is wonderful! However, to purposely seek out people of color to fall in step with the Woke movement is very concerning. God never asked us to do things like the world. In fact, quite the opposite is true because the Bible teaches that we are to be a light in the darkness… a peculiar people… and people whose hope is not earthly but eternal. Based on Romans 12:2 Paul was saying although we live in this world we are not of this world. We are called to an even higher standard than the world and we cannot adopt of things of this world as our mode of operation as Christian individuals or organizations.

I received no response from any of the men who received this email. This is very telling about where they stand… and IT IS NOT where they should be standing as Christian men who are in leadership. This is very concerning and makes me wonder how many other evangelical organizations across our nation are in sync with the Woke movement.

Here is what I wrote after introducing myself:

“Having been a Christian from a young age, I am deeply distressed to see all that is currently happening in our nation and world. One of those things is the alarming numbers of people, businesses and now churches supporting/adopting the Woke movement. 

I listened to J.D. Greears talk posted on gab.com earlier today. What I heard astounded me, so I want to ask as nicely as I can, why is the Southern Baptist Conference supporting the Woke movement? I am having a hard time wrapping my head around how you could be so deceived as to believe that this movement is one that ANY Christian organization should stand behind. We are to love one another, share the gospel and bring people into the kingdom. How is focusing on how many of one race you have within your organization part of being about the Father’s business? Jesus didn’t worry about political issues that took the focus off of his ministry. 

Ben Carson said this week in Iowa, “As we continue to be bombarded by racially charged narratives, there has been a subtle shift in the conversation: Its focus has moved from equality to equity. That is, instead of pursuing the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ideal of judging people by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin, equity would reward and punish people because of the color of their skin. Rather than equality of opportunity, equity would mandate equality of outcome.”

There are two parts of his statement that I want to emphasize. 

The first is that equality and equity are not the same thing. Equity is not a sign of racism but rather of recognizing and using the abilities of a person, no matter the color of that person. 

The second is to point out the words “there has been a subtle shift”. That is how Satan and the world operates. It takes something that sounds good, and is perhaps even a good idea fundamentally – and then very subtly changes it. The subtle changes continue until before long the fundamental idea/ideal is lost and there is a completely different idea/ ideal. This is exactly what is happening with the Woke movement. There are indeed some racially prejudiced people in every walk of life, every color and every economic class. However, that truth has subtly over the last several decades until we are now being told that the truth is that every white is prejudiced against every black, or person of another color. Coca Cola is spending company time teaching their white employees to “try to be less white”! Do you hear the absurdity of that statement? Can you imagine what the fallout would be if you told a person of any other color but white to try to be less of what they are?

Would you also consider with me who are those that are advocating there is such widespread racism in our nation? 

1. People that believe the killing of black babies is ok.  They don’t talk about the fact that the black community is ravaged by more black children being aborted than any other race. Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood was all about population control. These words are from an article dated April 10, 2021 in Yahoo News. “Sanger was a foremost proponent of the eugenics movement in the U.S., motivated especially by her particular animus toward poor nonwhites. Her crusade to legalize birth control was motivated in large part by her desire to prevent the  “unfit” and “feeble-minded” from reproducing.” 

2. People who cry out against blacks being killed by police officers but never speak a word about blacks killing blacks on a daily basis on Chicago’s south side. 

3. People who decided to move the MLB All Stars game out of Georgia because it courageously voted to change election laws in order to ensure a fair vote in the next election. Their reason? They purport that those new laws would keep minorities from voting. Even though those accusations are a lie, more importantly – and sadly, minority owners of businesses will reap lost revenue from the game being moved from their city. After being hit very hard in 2020 with COVID every business in the area was looking forward to the money that would be spent by all those coming to the game. Moving the game because the state is “racist” will cause all business owners of every color to be hurt. They won’t talk about that.

The truth is, America is not a nation without discrimination. But also…

The truth is, America is not a nation primarily of white supremacists. 

The truth is, America is a nation that was founded on faith in God

The truth is, America has been a nation where people are free to pursue any walk of life regardless of race, color or creed  

AND, the truth is…  America needs Jesus!

We are ALL created in God’s image. Racial hate, unrest and prejudice is a result of sin. Nothing more. Those who are working to convince Americans that we can heal our nation of racism via intimidation, mandates, programs and curriculums are wrong about both the problem and the solution. They do not see that unless America returns to one nation under God, there is no way back to the nation we once knew. A nation that stood proud among the nations of the world. America needs leaders, preachers, teachers and evangelists that are telling the people about Jesus. That is the only fix. 

It is time to be about the Father’s business. It is inconceivable for me to imagine our heavenly father cares at all how many people of color you have within your ranks. What he does care about is how many souls you are winning for eternity. Time is short. Shorter than it has ever been before – simply because we are moving through history, and he will return. But, with all the events in our nation and world I believe the time of his return is very soon… in fact imminent! 

Please, I implore you, abandon this foolish movement and focus only on changing the souls of people, regardless of color, for now and eternity.” 

Show Us Your Glory, God!

I haven’t been writing for awhile, just because of life’s busyness. However, today I find myself snowbound because of a massive early spring snowstorm and am anxious to get to share with you again.

I have been praying Exodus 33:18 for a few years and more so in these last many tumultuous months in our world and nation. It is a prayer of Moses that simply says, “Please God show us your glory”!

What is the definition of glory? As a noun is defined as “a highly praiseworthy attribute”. For many months starting at the beginning of the pandemic and continuing until mid-summer, our pastor preached a series of messages on the names of Jesus. Each of those names were a highly praiseworthy attribute of God. Let me just mention a couple of them for you: Holy, Sovereign, Unchanging and Lord of Hosts. Think about it… the God of the universe and savior of your soul has GLORY streaming out of Him because EVERY attribute of God’s is highly praiseworthy.

To break down my prayer then, “Please God show us your glory”, is to petition God to be able to see each of His highly praiseworthy attributes every moment of every day.

About a month ago as I was walking east on my morning walk, I came to the crest of a hill just as the sun had poked up over the horizon. In that moment I found myself overwhelmed with joy. The sun scarcely visible became a word picture for the glory of God. It was the brightest thing before my eyes. Everything else seemed dark compared to its light. Still I could gaze at it because it was not yet too bright to hurt my eyes. Gaze means to fix ones eyes in a steady intent look – often with eagerness or studious attention. This takes time. Gazing isn’t something that can be done quickly. That is what we are to do spiritually… gaze at God’s glory by spending time thinking about Him and his attributes, pray about gaining more understanding of what His attributes mean for you and meditate on scripture to drive this knowledge down into our spirits.

I did gaze at the sun for a few minutes as I walked, prayed aloud and praised God for His highly praiseworthy attributes and for giving me such a vivid picture of His glory. That walk continued through many turns as I worked my way along my usual morning path and then as I again turned to the east another word picture was given to me.

By now, the sun was much higher and it was impossible for me to gaze at it, let alone glance at it directly. I realized that I was experiencing the physical effects for what spiritually happens when we “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”. This old hymn offer an incredible truth. Just as staring at the sun would have permanently damaged my eyesight, so in the spiritual sense, our earthly eyesight is damaged when we really see God’s glory. The words in the chorus read: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face… and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His GLORY and GRACE!” Yes, if we gaze at God and His glory our spiritual eyes will become dim and more dim to the things of this world because we will see God’s glory above all else.

If any of us intently desires to see God’s glory throughout the moments of every day, then we MUST make a practice of gazing at Him. That is the only way our earthly spiritual eyesight will grow dimmer as our heavenly spiritual eyesight grows stronger.

Let me close with the words to the first verse of this hymn. If these describe where you are at in life, then I invite you to gaze upon God!

“Oh soul are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free.” – Helen H Lemmel

Light Overcomes Darkness ALWAYS!

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. – John 1:5

We observe physical darkness being overcome by light every day, be it the dawning of a new day that slowly paints the black sky shades of crimson and orange or the light fixtures in our homes that dispel darkness at the flip of a switch. We easily become unimpressed by these happenings simply because we experience them so often.

Are we also unimpressed by spiritual darkness being overcome by spiritual light? I would venture to answer, “not many of us”, simply because we don’t experience it with our sense of sight. It is something we have to think about, meditate on, pray about and be awed at in our spirit!

There are a multitude of events and happenings in our world and many nations around the world that are the embodiment of spiritual darkness. I could make a long list, but you are aware of them just like I am. People that shake their finger, as it were, in the face of God as they go about their evil ways. Events that mock those that follow Judeo-Christian values and believe in Jesus. Happenings that are called good by many who have chosen to follow their own evil ways rather than Gods.

It is in these dark times that we can, and should, call on the God of the universe, the Lord God Almighty to dispel the darkness because He IS Light!

“God is light – What does that mean?

The phrase “God is light” appears in 1 John 1:5, where the apostle John is explaining that the message we have from Jesus Christ is that God is light and there is no darkness in Him at all. Light is the nature and character of God. He is not a light or a kind of light; He is light itself. All light comes from Him. At the beginning of time, He created the light to dispel the darkness and chaos that was over all the earth (Genesis 1:1–5). Then He created the lights in the sky, the sun, moon, and stars (Genesis 1:14–16). As light itself and the source of light, He had only to speak and light came into being.

Darkness represents everything that is anti-God.
…The light that is God is the opposite of the darkness that is evil. The light of God is His holiness, righteousness, and goodness, which is in contrast to the darkness of evil and sin. Light is part of the essence (nature) of God.” italics mine – from www.CompellingTruth.org

Light doesn’t cover up darkness. Darkness isn’t still lurking behind the veil of light. NO! Light does away with darkness. The two cannot coexist. I have been praying for several months now that God, who is light, would expose the spiritual darkness around us. His light can make evil people shrink away trying to find a dark corner to hide in – but to no avail because His light forces them to see their evil illuminated.

What GREAT NEWS! Light overcomes darkness! I love thinking about God bursting into the darkest places of our world and voile, the darkness is not just exposed, it is no more!

Spend some time meditating on the scriptures above and others that talk about God being light. As we get this way down in our spirits and feel a sense of awe for who God is, we are propelled forward in faith, hope and more power. Then would you, along with me, commit to praying God’s light over the nations of the world? We know that our ways are not always God’s way, thus we cannot be assured of the outcome. However, we know that we can trust Him and therefore we can boldly pray for God himself – the light of the world – to overcome darkness.

CAUTION: Offense Straight Ahead

I viewed a video a few weeks ago by a pastor warning against having a spirit of offense. I must admit, at first I was a bit stymied by what he meant. Over the next couple of days I mulled over and prayed about what this pastor said in his short 5 minute video.

I found this on lifehack.org. Although it is humorous, it is also a very true definition of what it means to have a spirit of offense.
” It’s called Offend-initis, a skin condition whereby the thickness of our skin melts away to the point where everything offends us. Symptoms may include: hurt feelings, indignation, irritability, disappointment, grumpiness and an all-around allergic reaction to anyone who says or does something we don’t like.”

Let’s face it… it is very easy to contract Offend-initis. Everywhere we turn there are individuals, groups, organizations and public officials who are saying and doing things that offend us as Christ followers. We are told our beliefs are narrow-minded at the very best, and downright absurd at the very worst. Our desire to defend our beliefs often makes us respond as offended people, but I would echo the pastor’s words that we need to stop having a spirit of offense.

Instead, think about who and what is really being maligned in our present culture/society.

It is the Lord God Almighty, and the truths taught in the Bible! Even though we find ourselves the target, we need to pray we will not be offended! I know this is counter to everything we feel in our spirits when we are targeted. But our underlying, ongoing desire is to see God lifted up as we pray for everyone who is on the offense trying to fight against the God of the universe and His ways.

Having a spirit of offense creates an ongoing atmosphere of animosity and stress for us and those around us. However, defending God and our beliefs, as given the opportunity, creates an atmosphere of possible change….change that will be God honoring and not offensive to God and His truth.

Thanks for letting me share my heart. Please let me know if I can pray for you in a specific way during this very difficult time in our nation and world. The best way to do that is to fill out a contact form on my website: www.caringhansen.com

HOPE For These Troubled Times

This year has been a year of great change, confusion, frustration, fear and uncertainty for the future. Every year has its challenges for us… whether personal, familial, financial or a host of other possibilities. However, 2020 has heaped challenge upon challenge on each of us, which at the very least, is exhausting. 

What if I said I had the answer to these questions and that there is hope in that answer… but, I didn’t share the answer? I wouldn’t be a good friend, would I? I am sure you are thinking, how can I be so prideful as to say I have the answer?! Well, let me rephrase the first part of that sentence.  – What if I said I thought I had the answer to these questions and that there is hope in that answer? The response is still the same, isn’t it? I wouldn’t be a good friend if I didn’t share what I thought was the answer.

I know that many, or even most, of you who read my blog are Christians, but the Lord has laid this on my heart and so, in this post I am going to share, as graciously as I can, the reason for the hope I have within me. Do you know what being a Christian really means? I doesn’t mean I am better than you, or that I think I am better than you. It doesn’t mean that I have to follow a list of do’s and don’ts. AND, it definitely doesn’t mean that I live perfectly – not even close! What it does mean is that I have believed what the Bible says about who Christ was and is, and that I have made a decision to live my life as a follower of Christ.

The “plan of salvation” are some scripture verses that explain who God is, who Jesus Christ was/is, who we are to God and how we can be saved unto eternal life by simply believing that Jesus is who the Bible says he was. Here are those verses.

John 3:16 “For this is how much God loved the world—he gave his one and only, unique Son as a gift.  So now everyone who believes in him will never perish but experience everlasting life.”

John 14:6 “Jesus explained, “I am the Way, I am the Truth, and I am the Life. No one comes next to the Fatherexcept through union with me.”

Romans 3:23 “…for we all have sinned and are in need of the glory of God.”

Romans 6:23 “For sin’s meager wages is death, but God’s lavish gift is life eternal, found in your union with our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One.”

Ephesians 2:8,9 “For it was only through this wonderful grace that we believed in him. Nothing we did could ever earn this salvation, for it was the gracious gift from God that brought us to Christ!

Romans 10:9,10 “And what is God’s “living message”? It is the revelation of faith for salvation, which is the message that we preach. For if you publicly declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will experience salvation. The heart that believes in him receives the gift of the righteousness of God—and then the mouth gives thanksto salvation.”

John 1:12 “But those who embraced him and took hold of his namewere given authority to become the children of God!”

I too have had many times of feeling hopeless and fearful of what is ahead of us as a nation and world during this time. I am not immune or somehow exempt from these feelings because of my faith. However, what I do have is a hope that I can draw back to each time I feel overwhelmed by life’s circumstances.

I do not want to alienate you or offend you. My sole purpose is for this post is to share what I feel is the most important thing I have ever shared with you. I will joyously answer questions if you want to ask me more about this “plan of salvation”.

I am praying for each of you who read this because, in this uncertain time, we can all use some prayer.

What is Presumptuous Sin?

Several weeks ago I was reading in the 19th chapter of Psalms and came to verse 13 which reads “Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.” -ESV

In the King James version this term is “willing sin” versus “presumptuous sin” but both are accurate regarding how we live our lives as Christians. I will look at willing sin at the end of the post, but want to concentrate on presumptuous sin for the moment.

Because I was taken with the unfamiliarity of the word presumptuous, I looked up the definition. It means “failing to observe the limits of what is permitted or appropriate.”

How does this relate to sin? Let me disclose something about myself to help you understand. I have had some sort of a dietary restriction since the mid-90’s for health reasons. These restrictions have been quite extensive and are even more extensive in the past three years. If find myself craving things that I should not have but often succumb to the temptation and go ahead and eat the “forbidden food(s)”. I had long wondered if this was sin for me, but couldn’t really explain why I thought it might be. It isn’t sin for others and it isn’t gluttony, so… ? This 12-letter word convicted me that it IS sin for me and here is why. If I know something is harmful to me but I chose to do it anyway, I am not treating my body as the temple of God. That is what Paul says my body is in I Corinthians 3:16. I am choosing to not observe the limits of what is appropriate for me to keep my body functioning optimally.

Now let me move outside the scope of my personal body and look at how what I do that affects others can be presumptuous sin. At times I choose to do things that could be a stumbling block to someone else. This could be in terms of my behavior, habits or negligence. In I Corinthians 8:9 we are admonished to think about what we do based on what those around us believe sin is. “But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.” -ESV

Note that Paul specifically points out our liberty because his passion was teaching that Christians live in freedom from the law of sin and death because of choosing Christ’s penalty for us on the cross. We ARE indeed free! However, if that freedom causes us to act in such a way as to cause an unbeliever to question anything about our faith it becomes presumptuous sin.

This one word has become a revelation of how God desires me, as an individual, to live. I have repented and will continue to repent for it was Martin Luther who said “…All of a Christian’s life is one of repentance. When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent,’ he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”

Your revelation will most likely be different from mine… but, it is nonetheless just as important to repent of. Perhaps you are far from being a drunkard but your drink is more important to you than it should, be causing you to shirk your duty in areas regarding being a parent or employee. Or, it might be that you are choosing to dress in somewhat seductive ways that could cause a stranger to lust after you. The list is endless.

Ask God what might be your presumptuous sin and then repent. Not because of guilt or trying to please God but because you desire to live in the freedom he has given you through salvation. We cannot be entangled in presumptuous sin and be fully free.

Remember that the King James version calls presumptuous sin willful sin? Here is the difference and the similarity between the two words.

Willful sin means that we are fully aware something is wrong and yet choose to do the deed anyway because afterward we can ask God to forgive us because he DOES forgive. The problem with that thinking is that this not a sign of a repentant heart. It is like telling a small child to say they are sorry to their sibling, but the tone of their voice gives away that they are not sorry at all… they just said the words to get out of a sticky situation.

Presumptuous sin means that we may not know it is sin until the Lord convicts us. But once we have been convicted, if we choose to do the deed anyway it is failing to observe what is permitted or appropriate.

Let me end by reminding you that each time I challenge you in a post, I am also challenging myself. We are all sinful creatures, but PRAISE GOD, because of Jesus – we are forgiven and forever accepted and loved unconditionally by our Heavenly Father!

LAVISH… What Does It Mean?

For many years I have been intrigued by the word lavish. It is not a word that is widely used, yet it has a beautiful meaning.

As an adjective it means: sumptuously rich, elaborate, or luxurious.
As a verb it means: bestow something in generous or extravagant quantities

I even found the meaning of the word as it relates to the Bible on www.definitions.net
Verb: To expend or bestow with profusion; to use with prodigality; to squander
Adjective: Superabundant; excessive

In I John 3:1 the apostle John writes “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”
-NIV

Say it out loud with me right now… “LAVISH”
Doesn’t it rather gush out? It is a bit of a messy word when spoken, producing a lot of spit between the “v” and the “ish”.

And that is exactly what it should do, because these definitions could be translated “to gush” and in the verse, “to gush with LOVE”.

Doesn’t that give new meaning to the way in which God has loved us? It is excessive, extravagant, even to the point of squandering it on us because oft-times we don’t appreciate the level and depth of this love He gushes on us.

I find it interesting that the words “prodigality” and “squander” are used in the definition, considering these are the very words used by Jesus in the parable of the Prodigal Son. The younger son asked for his inheritance early and leaves home where he frivolously squanders away his inheritance on the things in life that do not satisfy nor last. He soon finds himself with nothing and, in desperation, decides to return home to beg his father to allow him to work alongside the other hired servants in order to earn room and board. However, upon returning home his father sees him from “afar off” and comes running to meet him. The son doesn’t even get to his plea to be able to work as a hired hand. As he begins asking for forgiveness, his father refuses anything less than that his son be completely restored to his former place in the family.

The son who lavishly spent everything receives his father’s lavish love upon returning home!

And, that is what the Lord does ongoing for us. He lavishes His love upon us, as children of God. …in generous and extravagant quantities, that are sumptuously and luxuriously rich!

Remember – this word gushes. It continuously spills out completely covering what it gushes onto. That is us, you and me. We are soaked in the love God lavishes upon us!

What a beautiful word indeed. LAVISH!

To Do or Not to Do… that is the question

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How many of you find yourself asking this question of yourself far too often? There is no doubt we live in a world that demands much of us … but how do we determine when we do stop taking on more things?

This question has haunted me for most of my adult life. I am a go-getter and generally have a lot of energy to do that go-getting! That personality trait readily side-steps me when asked to consider new opportunities. Saying “yes” or offering to do more is far too easy for me. I am ashamed to admit, that often I don’t even think to ask the Lord whether I should commit to a new opportunity or not.

That life-long tendency to do more and more is partly because of my disposition and partly because of my gift of helps… but that doesn’t mean that since God made me this way it is OK to pack my minutes, hours, days, weeks and months full of “doing”.

On the other hand, we are here on this earth to be used, encourage, help and guide. I do not want to waste a minute that I could be doing something for the “family business”,  the business I am a part of because I am a daughter of the King – the God of the universe. (Our pastor talked about being part of THE family business earlier this year and I just loved it! I hope you don’t mind me borrowing it, Pastor Shaun.)

Balance: a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions

As with so many things in our lives, balance is a key word. I tend to be like a teeter totter…and I am sure many of you do too. AND, of course, that is the opposite of living with balance. So, where does balance come from? It comes from prayer and meditation on scripture. In fact, I will so bold as to say, I believe that is the ONLY place balance comes from. Praying with an open mind and spirit asking what significance/obligation I am to have in any situation is key to living my daily Christian life out with purpose and balance.

Significance: the quality of being worthy of attention; importance

Until just a few years ago, I pretty much defaulted to believing that any new task or obligation presented to me held significance for me. That was actually very haughty of me… thinking I was somehow gifted and well-suited enough to need to give attention and/or bring importance to everything and anything that came across my path. However, there ARE some things that I AM to bring significance to. The Lord is the only one that can reveal that me as I pray and ask for guidance and then chew on His Word. God promises wisdom to those who ask in James 1:5-6 “ If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” -ESV

All that is required of me is to ask, and listen for the answer. Colossians 3:23 says that whatever I do, I am to “do heartily as until the Lord and not as unto men.” Note, if does not say that that I am to do everything! It says that out of everything I could do… the things I actually do should be done heartily (with my full-heart, soul and strength). It is impossible to do that if I am over-committed, over-worked and thus exhausted emotionally, physically and spiritually.

Once I know if I am to have any significance in something, the next prayer should be, what then is my obligation to be?

Obligation: an act or course of action to which a person is morally or legally bound; a duty or commitment

When the Lord answers my prayer of “should I any significance in this?” with a “Yes”, it may not mean I am take on the full obligation. Or, perhaps it does. That is why I must go back to the Lord and ask what amount of commitment and involvement I am to obligate myself to. This is very freeing, because when I know the Lord is directing me, I am released to be who He desires me to be… not who someone else wants me to be, or who I think I need to be. Guilt cannot glom onto me because I know I am doing, or not doing, exacting what my Jesus has led me to do.

Just like me, all of you are faced with opportunities. Prayer and scripture can direct us in the way we should go, keeping balance and JOY in our lives as we serve our Lord. That never-ending question “To Do or Not To Do?” loses it haunting power when we let Jesus direct our paths

Euonia

I ran across this word several months ago and jotted it and its meaning down. Since then I have come back to it many times because I believe it is a delightful sounding word with an even more delightful meaning. Pronounced: you on’ ya
It’s origin is most likely Spanish and is a medical term for someone with a healthy mind. Literally translated it means a “well mind” or “beautiful thinking”.

I am quite certain you have never heard a doctor use this word, nor have I. …AND, as much as it would be a good word to hear from a doctor about my physical mind, especially as I get older – I would far rather hear that about my mind spiritually.

God’s word talks quite a bit about what leads to a healthy mind.

Colossians 3:2 “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” – ESV

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” – ESV

Isaiah 26:3 ” You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” – ESV

This last verse promises us that if our mind is focused/meditating on God, and the things of God, it will be a healthy mind spiritually. Trusting God is a side-effect of spending time thinking on Him and thus it produces peace …peace despite the storms of life that may be swirling all around us.

Colorado has moved into the top five states that have the ominous title for the most damaging hail storms. Living in the suburbs of Denver I have seen some unbelievable storms the past few years along with incredible lightning shows and roars of thunder. We also get blizzards during the winter with wind whipping snow-ladened trees around in frantic rhythms. I think we can compare these weather conditions to “things on the earth” spoken of in Colossians 3:2.

In contrast Philippians 4:8 points to the things that we should think on… things that bring solace, things that make our minds spiritually healthy.

I have spent a few sessions with our church’s counselling pastor, Ken Kelly, when the storms in my life are tumultuous and I need to talk with someone with clear thoughts and encouraging words. Much of what he has said has stuck with me, but one thought in particular I believe is the prescription for euonia.
Whatever you Think on… will lead to your
Emotions… will lead to your
Feelings… will lead to your
Actions

Thinking on God and the things of God will give you peace and joy. Feelings of satisfaction, contentment will follow resulting in the ability to see other perspectives than our own and thus act perceptively.

My mind doesn’t naturally go down this path. It wants to go down a self-serving path thinking about how I have been mistreated or put-upon… and that does NOT produce euonia. However, as I spend more time with God and in His word it becomes less about me, more about Him and my emotions, feelings and actions take the healthy mind path.

Praise God.. it is HIS work in me!


Boundaries OR Compassion Fatigue?

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Recently I have been dealing with something called compassion fatigue. I had never heard of it and when a friend first told me that was what I was experiencing, I wasn’t even sure it was a real condition… but trust me, it is! A situation arose out of a very challenging relationship about six weeks ago and I found myself in a state of frustration, anger and panic. I didn’t lash out at the woman, but after the conversation ended I found myself saying and acting in ways that were not God honoring. I was so frustrated that after investing nearly a decade trying to help her, she preferred to continue living with a victim’s mentality. I was angry that I was now in the same pot as many others she has spoken unfairly and maliciously about. …and, I was panicked because this was such a foreign place for me to be in.

Much of where this relationship ended up was my own fault because I had never set any boundaries. In an attempt to be there for her any time and in any way she needed me, I had let myself be taken advantage of… only to find she didn’t want my help. But what happened next was nothing I had ever experienced before. Although I felt bad to how I responded to the situation, after I prayed  – confessing it all to God I felt almost a state of euphoria. I had been released!

As a people-pleaser, I generally won’t allow myself to be released even when God is saying “step away”. But that day, I knew I had been released! However, I was also in the midst of compassion fatigue. There was simply nothing more in me to give her. God was saying that was OK, and in my then state of euphoria, believed that would be the end of it.

However, once the state of euphoria ended, I became aware that my normally optimistic outlook as a high-energy, “fix-it” person was gone! Exhaustion both physically and emotionally had taken their place. It felt as if there was no compassion left in me for her or anyone else. Within a couple of weeks I was on the verge of depression. The friend who first spoke the words “compassion fatigue” to me, wisely explained that unless I went to God and dealt with this it could turn into deep depression.

I had prayed when it first happened. And I was praying each day during daily devotions and throughout the day. But I had thought this was not that big of a deal and I would soon be the same person I had been prior to my compassion fatigue. When she shared that with me, I went to the Lord in prayer and cried out for mercy and grace in a situation that I had perhaps not created, but had allowed to get to the place it had because of not setting boundaries. I assumed it would take some considerable time before I was able to reach out in compassion toward anyone again. Instead, there was an immediate change in me! God heard and He answered loud and clear. “This is your gift I gave you. Go help others, but in my strength. Pray… set boundaries and I will do the rest.”

I wrote a letter to this woman explaining why I could not talk to her anymore about the things in her past. I also apologized for letting the relationship come to the place it did because of not setting boundaries – and then I set the boundaries that should have been there all along.

I wish I could say everything is fine between her and I, but it isn’t. She has chosen to be push me away because I have had to end several conversations prematurely when she crossed over the boundary line. And, guess what?! I am OK with that. I have prayed and I have set boundaries and I have His strength now in the situation. Whether it ever turns around or not, I am where God wants me.

If we don’t set boundaries, compassion fatigue may render us unable to help anyone! I know that often our “helps” gift gets in the way and we feel like we are to sacrifice ourselves in terms of time, energy and advice to help those in need around us. That isn’t what God has called us to. He calls us to be wise! …and a big part of wisdom is knowing when boundaries need to be set and then sticking to them once they are set.

May I challenge you, my fellow helpers?
1. Look at each relationship where you are a helper and pray about whether there need to be boundaries set, or perhaps modified to protect you emotionally and perhaps physically.
2. Give yourself permission to allow the limits of the boundaries you have set to be pushed back a little when you are comfortable with that.  …it won’t seem as strict.
I have let this woman talk about things that cross the boundary line as long as it
is not too stressful or abusive to me. Once she pushes past either of those… I tell her
I can no longer talk to her because she has crossed the boundaries, and end the call
or walk away.
3. Begin each new relationship by praying about what boundaries need to be set.

I am finding that each time I set a new boundary or enforce an in-place boundary it gets easier. What a wonderful perk!  I also am experiencing a freedom I have rarely felt in my life. Instead of my emotional strength being sapped, I am spurred on with new energy for helping her when the boundaries are respected along with more compassion and energy to help others God places before me. I am sure you will too!