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How is Your Heart?

I was listening to the radio one day and caught the end of a program. The person ended the program with the words “how is your heart?” That statemen made me think. People usually ask “how are you doing?” But I’ve rarely heard someone ask how is your heart?

When people ask how are you doing, the usual response is on the surface and only what we want them to hear. But what if someone went deeper into what really matters in life---asking “how is your heart?”

I know most of us don’t really want to share the condition of our heart. We often think life is too busy to get real. Pain is often too deep thus we don’t allow not even a sliver to creep out. Is living on the surface with our own or each other’s feelings more bearable…..more socially acceptable? The thing with living on the surface is that we’re ignoring what God wants us to give serious attention to; that is the state of our heart.

Proverbs 4:23 (ESV)tells us to “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” Keep your heart with vigilance means to guard your heart above all else. To some you may believe this to mean we’re supposed to protect ourselves from anything that might hurt us, not being vulnerable, not showing our weakness or even not admitting our sins to one another. This belief results in us guarding the wrong thing and what we’re really doing is wearing a mask, thus it keeps us isolated and struggling alone.

I understand it is hard to trust that another person will kindly handle our imperfections. I know how it feels for someone to shy away from you because they are embarrassed by “your” mess. When this happens it’s very tempting to hide away and resist connecting with anyone for fear of getting hurt or disappointed. Can you relate? However, this should not keep us from biblically guarding our heart. That is paying attention to the state or condition of our heart.

The “heart” in a biblical context, refers to the “seat of our appetites, emotions, passions, and moral character. To guard our heart and be aware of the state of our heart, we have to be cognizant of our longings, desires, dreams, wants, temptations, influences and motives. When guarding our heart we can’t just choose to guard a portion, we must be intentional in guarding all of it in its totality.

When guarding the heart, we have to become more conscious of everything that goes in. Because what goes in is what comes out. We must be aware of the connection between the influence on our lives and on our actions.

Whether we admit it or not we need the help of others in the process of guarding our heart. But we also need to learn how to use discernment in choosing with whom we share our heart.
I thank and praise God that He cares about what is going on inside my heart because He knows it will shape my outer life. I have had to ask God for forgiveness for times I forsook guarding what goes into my heart and to allow me to be real with myself so that I could make the necessary changes as to be able to guard the heart God has given me to steward.

PEARLStoPONDER: Has anyone asked you how is your heart? I’m asking you today, how is your heart?
Psalm 51:10--Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me,

Psalm 73:26--My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Proverbs 4:23-27--Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.24 Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you.25 Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.26 Ponder the path of your feet ;then all your ways will be sure.27 Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.

Luke 6:45--The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

James 5:16--Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

Giving Thanks

We often hear the words “thank you or thanks.” But have you ever taken the time to really dissect the heart of the meaning of these words?

Sometimes these words are said with a sincere and honest heart other times these words are said out of habit then there are times when these words are not said at all.

Scriptures tell us “in everything give thanks.” Is this phrase something we can honestly say we do daily with intentionality?

We have hectic schedules with daily lives that are sometimes exhausting, overwhelming and the ever-present need to problem solve every moment of the day. Oh, let’s not forget about the state of the world we are living in, with the coronavirus pandemic.

With all this going on often a forgetfulness of the “good” things in our lives get overlooked. We can become so focused on the hard, urgent and not so good stuff that we miss the opportunity to give/say thanks. We should become intentional in taking the time daily to stop and give thanks. I’m not just talking about giving thanks to those around us, but giving God thanks. When we do this, we will be able to put life into a perspective that will minimize the not so good stuff and pleasantly magnify the good things.

Saying thanks is good for us!  As we profess our gratefulness in ALL circumstances (without complaining), we’re not only like Christ, but we’re also exercising power over darkness. The enemy longs to get and keep us frustrated and discouraged thus often giving in to our flesh. Saying thanks opens a door for God’s presence and blessings.

Giving thanks is a reminder for us to recall all the times we’ve trusted God and Him seeing us through all the difficult times. Thus, further making us aware of it’s not just every good and perfect thing that deems us blessed, but the fact that we are able to have an intimate relationship with God is what makes us blessed.

I’ve always tried to be intentional in saying thank you to anyone who does anything for me. It’s my way of acknowledging their thoughtfulness. But lately I have really been thinking about if I’m just as intentional in giving thanks to God for ALL that He has done for me, but more importantly for who He is.

PEARLStoPONDER: Is your thanks sincere and glorifies God?
Psalm 7:17--I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.

Psalm 9:1-2—I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.

Psalm 107:1— Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!

1 Thessalonians 5:18--give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 

Savoring the Time of Suffering

Suffering is described as someone who undergoes or feels pain or distress; to sustain injury or loss. Given the present climate many people are suffering with anxiety, depression, loneliness and hopelessness that can slowly seep into any of our day to day existence until we become emotionally and completely numb.

I don’t know any person who willingly wants to suffer. But, while we are in this world, we will always have stressors and will endure some form of suffering.

When someone is suffering the first response to the suffering is pray and read your Bible daily. Those are correct responses. However, there is something else that needs to be added to these 2 vitally important actions. SAVORING! To savor means to take, or to enjoy something completely. We must learn to savor that The Lord is Good….even in the midst of our suffering!

Think about any suffering you might be enduring. Below are 5 points on how you can from this point on view your suffering from Gods perspective:

*Suffering is Not Random: Suffering is not without purpose. God sovereignly uses circumstances to teach powerful lessons to accomplish His will. (Genesis 37-50; Hosea 3:1). Suffering causes the biblically grounded Believer to worship God, praise His providential hand and trust His loving heart, regardless if the causes of the suffering are known or unknown.

*Suffering Touched Our Savior: Jesus in the flesh experienced weariness and other human weakness. He was tempted in every way humans are yet without sin. But in the midst of His impeding suffering Jesus’ example was, “Not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). Jesus said His people would follow in His footsteps, and that would include suffering (John 15:20). The ultimate answer to suffering was at the cross when Jesus declared, “it is finished” (John 19:30). Our suffering as we follow Jesus has purpose and it will come to an end.

*Suffering Teaches Us to Seek and Trust God: As we rest and rely on Scripture, Believers can learn to respond to suffering in godly ways (Romans 12:19; Colossians 3:13). All who desire to live godly will be persecuted (2Timothy 3:12; Philippians 1:29). Even in the time of suffering Believers can seek God, find His blessings and give a powerful testimony for Christ (Matthew 5:10-11; 1Peter 2:19-20).

*Suffering Can Bring Glory to God: God sometimes allows things that are underserved, disease and disabilities, to display His marvelous work. (John 9:1-3; John 11:1-4; John 11:40). When Believers suffer people are watching and Believers’ intentions in the time of suffering should be to honor God (1 Peter 4:12-13) and not bring undue attention to themselves.

*Suffering Prepares Us for Greater Glory: None of us like suffering and to be truthful we try to avoid suffering as much as possible. Paul says, “for this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison (2Corinthians 4:17-18). The Believer suffers for Jesus’ sake, is conformed to His image, places all hope in Him, thus trusting that all things work together for His purposes (Romans 8:18-30). This should cause the Believer to rejoice (1 Peter 1:6-9).

To combat any tension or ill feelings from sufferings, become intentional in practicing how to savor that The Lord is good and the many good things The Lord has placed around us.

PEARLStoPONDER: When we practice savoring Gods good gifts, the weight of the suffering lessens. The suffering is no longer magnified and the beautiful reality of Gods purpose for suffering is now the focal point thus, God getting all the glory.

Psalm 34:8-- Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

John 16:33-- I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Finding Calm to Quiet Your Soul

With one month left in 2020 all I can say is wow this has been quite a year! The world feels in chaos…relationally, economically, emotionally and spiritually. Have you found yourself asking, “can 2020 get any worse’? The reality is, yes it can get worse! And, if not careful we could easily find ourselves wallowing in despair if we don’t know how to process the pain of things getting worse.

The possibility of dire circumstances doesn’t mean defeat and hopelessness.

The hardest part of life is on this side of heaven. Scriptures makes us aware of the challenges we will face while living in our mortal bodies. Never the less Jesus promises us peace in Him and reminds us that we should take no thought for tomorrow.

Sisters, trouble will come! But the promise of trouble doesn’t have to put us in a state of being frazzled and undone. The fear of suffering and hardships doesn’t have to consume our thoughts and rattle our minds with anxiety. We don’t have to allow the lack of control and the unknown to undermine our purpose and steal our joy.

Instead we must learn to have a calm and quiet soul. What does having a calm and quiet soul look like in the midst of a world full of chaos?

The Hebrew word for “calm” which is translated as composed, is sharah. It means to level, smooth, to set or place. What can you do to find a level, stable place in your life to process your thoughts and release all your worries to God?

The Hebrew word for “quieted” is daman, which means to be silent and still. Where is the silence and stillness in your life? What do you need to do to make room for silence and stillness so that you heart, mind and soul isn’t spinning by the overwhelming consumption of chaos but can settle at the foot of the cross?

The word “soul” comes form the Hebrew word nephesh, which refers to the seat of your emotions, passions, and appetite as well as the activity of the mind, will and character. What are you wiling to do to nurture yourself daily? How can you navigate not just your spiritual life, but also your physical body so that you can be equipped to respond to the chaos from God’s perspective?

If you haven’t learned to have a calm and quiet soul, when crisis hit, your first instinct is to try to muster up the strength to press on….just simply surviving. But does that really work or do we just end up worse off?

The answer to obtaining a calm and quiet soul….. we need to practice slowing down daily so that we give our minds and bodies much needed recovery time in order to focus on the truths of God’s Word so that we are able to navigate through inevitable chaos.

God knows you. He sees you. He made you. And He has equipped you to embrace the calm and quiet that we need. However, it is OUR responsibility to seek the calm that will quiet our souls and that calm only is accessible through Jesus Christ.

PEARLStoPONDER: Father God help me to remember that when I feel overwhelmed by what I can’t predict or plan, that You already know what will play out and are with me through the process. Help me, Lord, to trust You as I steady my mind and heart on Your promises. Help me to care for my body in the way it needs so that my mind can embrace Your Truth more easily.

Psalm 46:1-3--God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. 

Psalm 46:10--“Be still, and know that I am God.  I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

Psalm 131:1-2--O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.

John 16:33--I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Matthew 6:34--“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Because YOU Said So

How many of you remember being told as a child “because I said so!” I remember it so vividly and I vowed I would never say that to my children. My rationale was, my children deserve to know why I said they can’t have or do something. Needleless to say that vow was broken. In remembering one of my parental frustration moments the words came flaring out of my mouth…” Just do it, because I am your mother and I said so!” Can you relate to this statement?

In reading Luke 5:1-11 a phrase I extrapolated based on the context of this passage, is Simon Peter saying to Jesus, “because You say so.” God gave Simon a personal word to push out into the deep waters and let down his net. No other explanation or details were given. God basically told Simon Peter to “trust Me and the results will be unimaginable.”

This personal word Jesus gave to Simon Peter was a call to action. Jesus didn’t ask Simon Peter how many fish was previously caught or how long he had been fishing. A personal directive was given and Simon Peter responded in obedience.

You may not know how to literally fish, but we all have been in situations where we are fishing, that is fishing for answers. You know, that new detailed plan you are so convinced will work or that I’m smarter than everyone else syndrome. This type of fishing usually leaves God out thus resulting in an empty fish net.

God knows how to fish better than we do. He already has it figured out. What’s stopping you from pushing out into the deep waters of your circumstances and letting down your net?
Can you trust Him without having all the details?  

Trusting God without having all the details is the kind of trust that is total abandonment of any type of safety net, no exit in sight and a plan that makes no rational sense at all. In order to do this, you have to understand you are not trusting the plan. You are trusting the PLAN MAKER!

Are you in a season where you have been seeking God concerning a decision? You don’t want to do what God is asking because what He is asking makes no sense to you. Take a moment and think about Simon Peter. The Lord gave him a directive. In Simon Peter’s rational mind, he was probably thinking I already did this why is The Lord making me repeat a process I already thought of and executed but to no avail. Nevertheless, Simon Peter said, “because YOU say so.” Simon Peter understood it was The Lord who spoke to him. Simon Peter trusted what The Lord said and didn’t need to hear any details. Simon Peter trusted that regardless of the outcome there was a purpose behind the directive that will lead to The Lord getting the glory.

Simon Peter didn’t argue or question The Lord. Simon Peter didn’t impose his will upon The Lord. Simon Peter simply said “because YOU say so.”

Can we say those simple words and allow God’s will to be done?

PEARLStoPONDER: “Because You (God)said so!” Remember God’s will is not the same as our will.

Luke 5:4-5-- And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” 

2 Corinthians 5:7--  for we walk by faith, not by sight.

Wing Woman

The term wingman is usually used in the slang referring to a man/woman who helps, protects, or guides a friend or associate; or a man/woman who helps a friend with romantic relationships, especially one who helps the friend attract a man/woman. But for the purpose of this blog I will use the word wing woman. I prefer the term when used in the context of a noun as it refers to a pilot in a plane that flies just outside and behind the right wing of the leading aircraft in a flight formation, in order to provide protective support. My definition….wing woman—a woman who provides protective support consisting of but not limited to helping execute someone’s vision.

I was sitting in my office chair one day and I heard The Lord say loud and clear, “you know you are a wing woman!” A scowl came over my face. In my head I was thinking Lord what are you talking about. He began to rapidly replay in my mind all the times people asked me what I do. But He magnified one specific response from this lady. She said, “oh so you’re just play second fiddle to your husband?” With a raised eyebrow, I thought “did she not just hear what I said!” Lord why did you have to remind me of what this lady said. His response, “I want you to fully comprehend how important your role is as a wing woman.” “Some people will look at your role as being subservient but because I purposed you in that role you carry more power than you even realize.”

There are plenty of women who are “bosses “and in the spotlight. I know several personally. I applaud, appreciate, cheer them on and support when and where I can. I must be honest there were times when I questioned why I’m not a boss in a sense where I’m in the spotlight (the enemy will have you questioning stuff you shouldn’t question. lbvvs). Overtime God kept showing me that’s not what I called and purposed you for. “I called and purposed you to be a wing woman! I called and purposed you to provide protective support.” “Do you not remember how I made woman?” God reminded me, “I fashioned her from the rib of Adam.” “The function of the rib cage is for protection, support and respiration.” Ding ding ding!!!!! This was an aha moment!

In the midst of my aha moment the enemy pushed the rewind button on all those times I felt out of place when I was in certain environments around certain people. I felt uncomfortable in sharing what I do because what I do is not in the spotlight and so I thought not worthy to “boast” about.
Yet once again God had to tap me on my head. God stopped the enemies rewind button and pushed His play button. God’s play button allowed me to think about ALL the boss stuff I do that no one sees. And more importantly I began to give God glory for trusting me with such an important function as the wing woman.

The enemy wanted me to believe the lie that being a wing woman was less than. But there is no greater joy than to humbly accept unknown and unseen assignments of a wing woman, as did the many women who served at the feet of Jesus. It’s unfortunate that the ancient text seldom spent time mentioning these women and when they did it was often in derogatory terms. Some of these women were looked at as nothing but sinners or less than. However, the sacrifices and commitment these women had in following and supporting Jesus’ ministry in the spread of The Gospel is more than commendable. It’s actually encouraging in that it doesn’t matter where you came from or what your condition is, God can and will use you for His glory!

So, for all my wing women, hold your head up and give God the glory!!!

PEARLStoPONDER: Whether you’re a boss woman soaring in the spotlight or a wing woman flying just outside and right behind the leader. Humbly accept the role God has placed you in with the understanding He placed you in that role for His glory not yours! {God gives bosses and leaders the vision. However, there is always a wing woman that helps execute the vision}.

Genesis 2:22-23-- 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

Luke 7:36-50-- 36 One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house and reclined at table. 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” 40 And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”41 “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Luke 8:1-3-- Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod's household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.

John 20:11-18-- 11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.

Boundaries are a Blessing

Have you ever found yourself having an out-of-control reaction in response to someone else out-of-control actions?  Whew!!!! Been there. Afterwards I reflected and asked myself why in the world did I allow this person to take me so far out of character. SMH!!! But in that moment, it was very hard to react in in other way and to be honest it felt good at that time.

Have you ever experienced a time when someone asked for your advice, you give them sound biblical advice for your explanation why they shouldn’t do what they are asking and why you don’t want to be a part of what they are asking? Yet they go away from the conversation and much to your surprise they do the opposite! Now you’re livid! Your immediate reaction {being out of control} is not merely being overdramatic or emotional, you were simply trying to prevent this person from a massive train wreck. Or so you thought.

The following is a restatement of someone’s immediate out-of-control action:

“Some important documents came in the mail. My name was included on the envelop, so I opened it. But the minute I opened the envelop and began reading the contents, my blood skyrocketed.  One of the people was moving forward with something I deeply disagreed with. I had previously vocalized my reasoning for shutting down this idea. I couldn’t believe they didn’t listen to me!”

“After reading the contents of the envelop, I simply should have reminded that person of my boundary to not bail them out financially if this decision was as detrimental as I believe it to be.” “Instead, I angrily tore those papers into as many tiny pieces as I possibly could. But that wasn’t good enough. I also tore the folders and mailing envelopes. In my out-of-control reaction I quietly placed all the tiny pieces into a baggie, sat them on the counter with a note stating.” “This is all have to say about this situation!”

I know some of you are thinking, was it necessary to tear the paper and envelopes into tiny pieces and put them into a baggie?  Did this person do too much? Be honest, what situations have you been in where someone else’s actions caused you to have a similar or worse out-ot-control response? 

The following is the reflection of the aforementioned out-of-controllers’ actions:

“In that moment it felt good. But the next morning, I woke up and was like, Really?! Really?! All I could hear was the persons response to me when they saw the baggie filled with those tiny pieces of paper…. “Wow, you’ve made quite a statement.” Now I was the one who needed to apologize and I had to call the company to resend the papers I accidentally, on purpose, in a crazed moment, tore into tiny pieces. And when I did, the lady who worked at that company told me she’d recently read one of my books. Perfect. Wonderful. Ugh.”

Have you ever had that feeling of ughhhh after an out-of-control action? Are you mature enough to recognize your out-of-control response was not warranted and apologize?

Usually these out-of-control outburst happen when we can’t control others. Controlling ourselves cannot be dependent on us trying to control others. The woman I restated above wanted the person who asked for the advice to do exactly what she said. If the woman had of set boundaries up front, the documents that arrived in the mail would not have sent her into an out of control response.

We all have had or will have situations that make us feel like we will lose self-control. But what do we do when those situations arise? Establish boundaries! Boundaries aren’t used to push others away; they are used to hold us together.

Without boundaries, other people’s bad choices will bankrupt your spiritual capacity for compassion. Not to mention if boundaries are not set, at some point you will become so exhausted that you will lose your self-control.

Boundaries help us to understand that only God can bring about true changes in a person. Establishing boundaries equips us to share godly wisdom without putting ourselves in situations that could lead to an out-of-control response.

Setting boundaries is not always easy because we want the best for those that seek our advice. But for the sake of sanity boundaries are necessary. Not only are boundaries necessary, staying consistent with those boundaries are just as important.

PEARLStoPONDER: When was the last time you had an out-of-control action based on someone else’s action? It’s time to set boundaries!
Proverbs 17:27--Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.

Proverbs 31:26--She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

James 1:19-20--19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

Don’t Allow False Guilt to Steal Your Joy

I’ve often heard women say they feel guilty even though they haven’t done anything wrong. This is what I call “false guilt.”

As women many of us spend a lot of emotional energy feeling guilty about our everyday lives. About the legitimate choices and decisions we need to make in our families, careers and especially now during this pandemic in regards to taking care of ourselves. About not living up to the societal standards of social media and feminine perfection. All of this leads to false guilt. You are not alone; I too have worked through my own struggles of false guilt.

Guilt can and will show up in many ways. Do some of these look familiar to you?
               *Feeling as though you can never do enough
               *Allowing others to repeatedly overstep boundaries
               *Beating yourself up for past choices, imperfections or mistakes
               *Saying yes when you should say no
               *Letting others guilt-trip you
               *Not speaking up when you need and want to
               *Staying in or going along with dysfunctional behavior as though its normal
               *Feeling indebted indefinitely to someone who did you a favor
               *Making decisions out of guilt and obligation

Whether it’s the persistent voice of the enemy reminding you of the mistakes you made and haven’t forgiven yourself for, unmet expectations you haven’t lived up to or the blessings you have that others don’t, false guilt can have you playing a broken record of self-sabotaging thoughts. That broken record of self-sabotaging thoughts sound a little like this: I am not enough. I should be doing something more. Why can’t I get this right!? I should be doing something better, but I’m not so I feel guilty. Rehash your shortcomings so you can keep holding your happiness hostage. Followed by the high note shrill of self-criticism.

Enough of this broken record! It’s tiring and it’s not God’s way for us to live. It’s the enemy’s plan to destroy us! God wants us to live in His grace. He wants us to reset our expectations so we can let go of the guilt!

The best and fastest way to reset our expectations in order to undo guilty feelings is to adjust expectations of ourselves and make sure they are aligned with God’s expectations of you.

Here are some examples of resetting expectations that helped me:

Other’s Expectations: Sometimes what others want isn’t what you want, isn’t what God wants for you or simple isn’t doable. Fear often leads you to take on the burden of others’ expectations to avoid being rejected. Set boundaries! Know what works best for you and stick to your boundaries.

Vague Expectations: This is prone to set you up for guilt because you can’t really measure the results. Saying you should be doing more…..well how much more? And what should you be doing? Without specifics, you will never know when or if you’ve done enough. So be specific about what it is you should or want to do.

Outdated Expectations: Life happens and in life. Life changes will occur that shifts your day to day and put you into a new season. If you hold on to old expectations about the life changes that shift you into a new season you will set yourself up for guilt. Changes will happen, give yourself some grace, roll with and accept the new season. Much to your surprise the new season may bring you unexpected happiness.

The enemy wants to steal your joy. Reset your expectations in order to regain the joy God deems for you to have.

PEARLStoPONDER: As you are resetting your expectations remember the following:
*If you don’t believe God created you for a purpose, you cannot accept or embrace God’s unique life for you. God’s purpose for you may look very different from those around you.
*Until you accept and embrace the life God created for you, you’ll continue to feel guilty for not living the life “others” expect you to live.

John 10:10-- The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Romans 12:2— Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Philippians 1:20--as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.

Portrait Mode

Most cell phones have a portrait mode feature. This feature is designed to make the main subject of a photograph stay in focus while the rest of the background blurs.

What if we had this feature accessible for ourselves? Imagine how laser sharp we would be in keeping focus on what’s important and blurring out those things and thoughts that aren’t so pleasant.

Guess what! We do have that feature accessible to us. Just like on our phones it’s easily and readily available if we know what it takes to access it.

The apostle Paul not only gives us encouragement as to where our attention should be concentrated but also gives instructions on how to access the portrait mode in our daily lives so we are able to remain focused on what lies ahead.

The apostle Paul refers to athletes who run a race, emphasizing the importance of keeping one’s eyes looking forward (portrait mode), not turning to glance at what’s behind them (blurred out). Looking back would slow the runner causing a loss of focus of the path ahead. But when Paul fixes his eyes forward, he isn’t falling down he’s focusing on his goal, “the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.

If we look at the word “forgetting” translated in its original form it doesn’t mean simply a failure to remember-such as you forgot an appointment in a brain fog. It means calculated and purposeful neglect, a realization that you no longer care. This is an intentional abandonment encompassing forgetting things, events, times and places. When viewed from this perspective, it gives the image of forgetting very powerful. As is the case with portrait mode, when this feature is turned on there is a deliberate intent to blur out (to forget about) specific contents of the photograph.

The deliberate forgetting of the past permits the apostle Paul to run unimpeded and with clear focus toward the goal. Forgetting the past does not eliminate the past. But in forgetting it helps us to put our focus (portrait mode) on our growing relationship with God through our faith in Jesus Christ.

Our past has so often kept us bound thus hindering us from focusing on what is really important. And that is God being the author and finisher of our faith. It is our faith in God through Jesus Christ {our accessible portrait mode feature} that will enable us to forget those things from our past.

Starting today will you make the decision to use the portrait mode feature? No longer allow the blurredness hinder or distract you from where God has purposed for you to go.

PEARLStoPONDER: Are you sick and tired of being blurred?

Philippians 3:13b-14—But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Hebrews 12:2--Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Proverbs 4:25--Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.


I was flipping through the TV one day and I saw a rodeo show. I got ready to change the channel but it was at the point where the cowboy was preparing to lasso the calf. As the calf burst out of the gate, the cowboy with intense focus followed closely in pursuit of the calf. With lasso in hand, the cowboy swings the rope in the air lassos the calf and throws him down to the ground.  As I’m watching, a very vivid picture came to mind.  This is what we need to do with certain negative words that are running wild in our minds eager to escape the gate (the mouth). We need to lasso, throw them down in the dirt and cover them with the Word of truth to rein them in.

Scripture teaches us to take every thought captive. Once we lasso a thought (take it captive) we can decide which words leave the gate and which ones need to be tied up and secured (bound).

Have you ever thought about how many words you think per minute? How many of those words are negative? And why do the negative words seem to flow out so easily? Well, it goes like this…. First, a thought (the calf) begins in your brain (the stall), then the thought runs across the mind, if not lassoed (captured) those thoughts will eventually burst out the gate (the mouth). Remember the above scenario with the cowboy and calf? Once the calf burst out of the gate the cowboy had to expeditiously “think” about his immediate reaction. The same concept applies to us when those negative thought are in our brain. Within a matter of seconds, we must expeditiously determine if those thoughts are negative and need to be lassoed or if those thoughts are true, helpful, inspiring, necessary or kind. (T.H.I.N.K).

Toxic thoughts produce toxic talk. Think about what you’re thinking about. If you are relishing in and stewing on those negative thoughts in your head, then you will spew those toxic negative words from your mouth.

Paul gives us a great plan on how to detoxify our thought: He wrote:  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. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9).

The acronym T.H.I.N.K. gives us a tool to use in considering our words:

Are they true? Are these words reliable? Do they line up with God’s truth? For example, when we speak negatively about someone, we should consider: Do these words fit with God’s view of this person as His image bearer?

Are they honorable? Because I am a child of the King, my words should reflect nobility. Is what I am about to say demonstrating high moral character or ideals? Is it language that exhibits excellent qualities?

Are they just? Are these words virtuous? Are they appropriate, suitable, and reputable? Right words at the wrong time become wrong words. Is this the right time, or do I need to wait for a more appropriate time?

Are they pure? Are these words free from anything that taints, or infects the reputation of another? Are these words tainted by my own sin, or do they reflect the righteousness of Christ that has been given to me?

Are they lovely? Do these words inspire love, affection, or admiration? Are they morally or spiritually attractive or gracious? Do these words depict a picture of beauty or loveliness?

Are they commendable? Do these words inspire others to see excellent qualities in another person? Do the words paint a picture of praise or excellence?

Are they excellent? Do these words reflect goodness, exceptional merit, or virtue? Are they of a high moral nature? Would God rank them as “excellent” if they were spoken?

Are they praiseworthy? Do these words stir a sense of praise or condemnation?

The only way to detoxify our negative thoughts is to put T.H.I.N.K. into practice. Paul gives us the means by which to implement it----" What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9).

I know sometimes it seems like our thoughts are too much to handle. But if you practice T.H.I.N.K you will begin to develop a new pattern in not only detoxifying negative thoughts but it will become easier to lasso the calf before it gets out the gate.
PEARLStoPONDER: T.H.I.N.K. before you speak!  I know there are times when we “feel” what we say is “right” based on the situation. That may be true. But is what you saying in that situation right in your eyes or is it right in God’s eyes?
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.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5:  For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.

Proverbs 21:2: Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.
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