When to walk away —Surviving Deception

Motivated by a strong desire to help hurting people and an inherent desire to take people at face value probably marks me with naivety to believe people who tell me they are seeking God Or really want to change their life. I truly want everyone to know the peace that passes all understanding. I see the world through rose colored glasses. My rose colored world is a nice pace to be. There are others like me in the world, who, out of desire to do good for someone, have gone back to toxic relationships time and time again in effort to rescue someone from themselves, only to be hurt over and over again. I’ve been watching it for some time in the lives of several with whom I am close.

Some people aren’t being honest with themselves, and we know that hurting people hurt people. Some people are deliberate in their deception, wanting to cause destruction to other people. Perhaps there are people who don’t even realize they’re deceitful because they themselves are being deceived. Whatever the cause, there are those in the world who would deceive others. Those of us with tremendous compassion need to be able to keep them at a healthy distance. Knowing where and when that point is not always easy. Being able to do it requires grit and I dare say help from God Almighty.

The Bible warns believers about those who will come to deceive. In fact, God knows that without Him, we are deceitful in and of ourselves.

Jeremiah 17:9

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Still, He warms us to be on guard against those who would seek to hurt us with their deception.

Colossians 2:8. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.

2 Corinthians 11:3
But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

Romans 16:17-18 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.

2 Corinthians 11: 13-15 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

Interestingly, though, the Bible paints an understanding picture of the depravity of mankind, and in a compassionate way offers a way out to those truly who seek Him.

Titus 3:3-7

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Gods desire is that none should perish but all come to an understanding of faith and redemption through Christ Jesus. My desire is The same, and I know the others going through similar experiences are also motivated by a desire that all should know Christ.

1 John 1:9.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness

Romans 10:13
For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

My prayer today for those who are deceiving, either themselves or other people, is that they would see Jesus; truly experience the life-changing blood of the Savior.

At some point, though, it’s time to cut the toxic relationship out of self preservation, even if the cut is initially painful. When the relationship hurts physically or emotionally, it’s time to cut. Severing the relationship does not mean we don’t still want what’s best for the person; it only means that for now, we can’t be a part of it.

Get to a healthy distance in the relationship, particularly if the hurt has been physical. Let them hit rock bottom. Keep praying for the hurt soul, that they would find peace through Jesus. Never stop. I’ve seen God work miracles in valleys of despair. Sometimes what they truly need is a “Come to Jesus” event to help them find. Pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to draw them, and watch from afar. The truth is, it’s not our responsibility to fix them, or make them know Jesus, especially if they don’t want to. It’s up to the Holy Spirit to draw them, and it’s up the them if they will accept. All we can really do is be ourselves.

God is not hiding. The Bible tells us that we will find him if we seek Him with all of our heart. I pray those who need Him genuinely seek. And genuinely find.

And to those who have been deceived, rest in the hope that God and His angels have you covered by their wings. He will pick you up and put your feet on solid ground. There is recovery from failure.

Praying,

SB

Copyright 2019 Journey For Life All rights reserved.

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Name Your Year

On Sunday afternoon, I had lunch with my friend, Sue, who I hadn’t seen for several months. We had a lot to catch up on – mostly to get updates on each others’ families and the like.

As we discussed the holidays, and “new year’s resolutions”, she mentioned a tradition that she started several years ago – and that is to NAME her year – to assign a catch phrase or word to the year that represents her intentions for the year. Kind of a resolution but not quite as specific.

For example, one of her years was named, “Growth”. During that year, she took several new classes and engaged in a new Bible study to grow spiritually. Another year was named, “Reach”. During that year, she made several life changes that caused her to reach out in new directions and get out of her comfort zone.

This year’s word for her is TRAIN – not the physical train, although, as it turns out, she is taking a train trip with her best friend. TRAIN can apply to physical training (as in training for a Century ride 😉 ) or even educational training.

Her challenge to me – and mine to you – is to name my year. (Given my 1,000 mile goal, I could easily steal hers, but that’s not really very challenging, is it?) A few that came to mind: Inspire, Thrive, Motivate, Affect, Effect, Recalibrate, Transform. Any suggestions?

How about you, my friends? what will your word of the year be?

Be Blessed, my friends – my treadmill is calling. Have an awesome day!

SB

Copyright Journey For Life 2019. All rights reserved.

Renner – Runner – surviving spiritual attack

Before last week, I hadn’t heard of Rick Renner – but in a few moments that I took a dust-cloth to my family room to dust, he happened to be on the TV that my mother was watching. She’d not heard of him before, either, but was watching a program before he came on. As I dusted, I was momentarily awestruck by some of the words I heard him saying, so much so I stopped in my tracks.

I’be long lived my life expecting God to do miracles and wanting to live to please Him. You may remember posts earlier this year where I expressed I was praying some Jericho sizes prayers and expecting miracles.

Recently, I’ve experienced God moving in my life in strange but beautiful ways, and, admittedly, at first, I wondered if it was God at all. As I reflect on my prayers of late, I am more and more convinced that God is truly preparing to do some wonderful things in the lives of people He’s blessed me with. Because I know the Devil doesn’t like it, I’m trying my best to pay particular attention to His guidance, and this message particularly spoke to me. We WILL survive the battle…. and the war.

Take a listen and decide for yourself

Be blessed today, my friends

Surviving spiritual battle

Blessings,

SB

…Because I Care

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of lunch with a dear friend, former boss turned motivational speaker – one who challenges me and inspires me to be all I can be. (To understand more about what made him a special leader, see my post: Exceptional! )  As always, lunch was filled with thought provoking discussions and challenges for both his life and mine.

During our lunch, he told me about an upcoming opportunity he has to be the keynote speaker at a school lunch nutritional convention in Minnesota. He’s been asked to provide a motivational speech with a phrase for the audience to “take away”, sort of a theme that can become their mantra. The intention of the convention is to encourage those who are serving lunches to see the students as their customers and infuse a sense of caring into their jobs to make a difference in the lives of the students. As he begins to build his speech, he is leaning toward using the phrase, “I care” for the take-away phrase.

As we were talking, I recounted to him a recent conversation with another special friend, (who also challenges me) who asked me why I do what I do  – why I spend hours (in addition to my full-time job) teaching students to play the piano – and hours being a youth leader at my church, talking with broken teenagers looking to find their way – reaching out to broken-hearted people to let them know God loves them. “Why”, he asked, “do you put yourself out there to a world that largely doesn’t care?”   His question was well intentioned, his logic that, if the world doesn’t care, why should I?

As I thought how to answer this question to my lunch mate, I recited the story of the boy on the beach, throwing starfish back into the ocean after they’d washed up on the beach. Someone criticized him, asking why he did it when he couldn’t possible save them all. As he picked up a starfish and gently tossed it back into the water, he said, “I made a difference for THAT one”.

My friend paused several times during our conversation to make notes of things we talked about so he could include in the speech. At one point, he said, “you know, for some of these students, a caring lunch lady might be the only sense of caring they feel all day. Everybody just needs to know someone cares.”

And that, my friends, is why I do what I do. To summarize what I’ve heard our pastor say so many times, “you might be the only Jesus that they see.”

Everyone needs to have someone who cares about them. Be that person to someone today.

Be Jesus for someone today.

Blessings,

SB

Copyright 2019 Journey For Life. All rights reserved.

Listening

I hear You, Lord,

In the still, night, air

I feel You, Lord,

You’re everywhere

Fill me with your Presence, Lord,

Let me drink it in

Let Your Spirit dwell in me,

Rescue me from sin.

I am listening, Lord,

For Your voice so small,

Show me, Lord,

Reveal it all.

Light the path You’d have me take

Give me courage for Your sake

I’m listening, Lord,

For Your voice so small,

Show me, Lord,

Reveal it all.

Copyright Journey For Life 2019. All rights reserved.

The journey continues

In early December, I began (again) my journey toward fitness in support of my wonderful friend, so that she wouldn’t journey alone.

On this January 1, 2019, I am keenly aware of countless resolutions of the same cloth, and expect the gym to be filled with well intentioned people who will go at it hard for the next few weeks before waning and settling back into their old ways.

Perseverance is difficult, especially when set-backs and life get in the way. Over the last week or so, I’ve had set-backs of my own, and life has gotten in the way. Perseverance and “stick-to-it-ivenss” as it’s been described of me, however, is learning not to give up on your goals and dreams, no matter how lofty. Sure, there are times when the climb is not a steady one, and may even regress temporarily, but over the long haul, continues an upward trend until the goal is met.

This past summer, my son and his girlfriend signed up to do a ten mile Spartan race. They selected a location closest to our home that met their schedules (the one that was really closest to our home was scheduled when my son was away at school) and asked if I’d drive them.

Because of her work schedule, we left for Palmerton (about a five hour drive for us) around midnight the night before the race. We had coolers of water and Gatorade, oranges, and nuts and other healthy snacks. Our plan was to find the venue and then get some breakfast and come back for their starting time. I drove all night while they slept and we arrived at the venue around 5:30 am. Turns out, there’s not much around Palmerton, PA, so our breakfast consisted of some fruit cups at the race. The first heat of the race started at 7:30 but theirs didn’t start until 11:30.

Neither one of them is particularly athletic, and they hadn’t really trained, but had completed a five mile Tough Mudder the month before, so thought it would be easy. Little did they realize that people apparently come from all over the world to Palmerston, PA because it offers the steepest and most challenging obstacle race Spartan hosts. I learned this after their race had started, when I had the opportunity to take the ski lift overlooking the course. I was awed by the obstacles I saw they had to complete, and, being completely honest, thought there was no way they’d ever finish.

Four and a half hours into their race, I began to get concerned. The five mile Tough Mudder had taken about 90 minutes to complete. Double the distance and allow some time for fatigue, we thought four hours was a good estimated time to completion. They had no cell phones with them, and signal was poor anyway. I was by myself waiting, thinking the worst had happened, but hadn’t been paged to the medical tent, so hoping for the best.

Along the way, I made a friend who was there to support her niece in her 5th race. She told me to expect a 6 or 7 hour completion time for the first time. We stood together near the finish line, watching for both the kids and her niece. At about six and a half hours in, my son and his girlfriend crossed the finish line! About ten minutes later, my friends’ niece (who had a later start time than my kids) also finished the race.

On our ride home that evening, they shared with me the “mental breakdown” moment she had a half mile from the finish line when the obstacle was to carry a 5 gallon bucket of rocks 100 yards back up a hill. Tears streaming from her face, she exclaimed, “I can’t do it. I’m done”. My son, in a sarcastic moment, told her they should quit after all, since they’ve already completed nine or so miles, and only have a little bit to finish. A moment of determination came over her as she hoisted the bucket up over her shoulder and charged up the hill.

Perseverance is about charging towards the goal even when you think you can’t do it. You will amaze yourself if you don’t give up!

Stick to it my friends! And, for all the “newbies” at the gym this week, I applaud you for starting your journey. Don’t give up!

In the words of a friend, “you have a wide open road in front of you. Be thankful for the horizon you have. Yours to make.”

Happy New Year and many blessings to you this year, my friends!

Blessings,

SB

Copyright 2019 journey for life All rights reserved.

Fixing it ALL – the humbling process of fixing my life.

Many years ago, I was ready to make some life changes.  In fact, in January of that year, I decided it was the time to fix EVERYTHING that was wrong with my life!   I wrote out a very detailed list of goals – it included perfecting everything in my 1) Physical life/fitness (ie.. get skinny once and for all)  2)Financial (out of debt, college for kids paid for, retirement fully funded, etc) 3) Spiritual life (ie, get to know God in an up close and personal way) and 4) Relational (ie, fix everything that’s ever been wrong in my marriage, become the friend that I should be, etc).     I went at it like gangbusters for about 2 weeks.   I was conscious of everything I ate and drank, I logged more miles on the treadmill than I had in a very long time.  I created a budget, read my Bible every day, tried to engage my husband in deep, philosophical discussions.     And then…  fell of the wagon.  I failed at every single one of my goals.

The problem wasn’t lack of desire… or even that my goals were bad.  The problem was that I tried to fix everything all at the same time – and I got overwhelmed, and in the end, fixed nothing.

Fast forward a few years – I learned to set much more REALISTIC goals.  Because I had previously learned that I couldn’t fix everything all at the same time, I decided to pick one or two things to really focus on, master, gain some confidence – and then move on to other areas while maintaining the one.

I realize that my life is a work in progress – I didn’t get where I am (either good or bad) overnight, and I’m not going to be able to change overnight either.  On occasion, I lose sight of this and become frustrated with people who haven’t “gotten it” yet until I remember that I am still growing too, and there are plenty of things I haven’t “gotten” yet.  God allows me to continue growing and learning – He is so much more patient with me than I am with myself or others – I guess that’s why He’s God and I’m not.

As we approach New Years, there are plenty of people making resolutions.  My resolution is simply this:  to continuously improve something – to consciously work toward making something better tomorrow than it is today – in whatever area of life I choose.

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year, my friends.  Thanks so much for supporting my journey!

My challenge to you all today is to leave something better than you found it.

Blessings,

SB

Copyright 2018 journey for life. All rights reserved