Sober Up!

Have you ever been jarred out of sleep by a disturbing nightmare that you couldn’t shake?  Maybe of someone you love dying and it just felt so real, that you were obsessively thinking about it all day long?

How about this scenario: You get into an argument with your husband or friend, and go on an emotional tirade and spew a lot of things you deeply regret later, but can never be unheard by your loved one.

Maybe you’re unapologetically unfiltered. What you see is what you get, and you have no problem letting people know exactly what’s on your mind!

  • Obsessive worrying
  • Obstinate pride
  • Overbearing anger
  • Overwhelming grief
  • Irrational fear
  • Insatiable lust
  • Incessant envy

If any of these strike a chord, and characterize your life, you need to learn to be sober.  

Being sober is the first thing that the aged women are to teach the younger women in Titus 2:3-5.  It’s first because it’s so very important. Without this sober mind, she can’t properly do all that she’s instructed to do in the rest of the passage, because her thinking is carnal, and tainted by the world, the flesh, and the devil.

In Titus 2:4 -The word “sober” is the Greek word sophronizo, meaning to make of a sound mind, discipline or correct. This word comes from the Greek word sophron, which means safe, sound in mind, self-controlled, moderate as to opinion or passion, and temperate.

The aged women have to correct the younger women’s thinking because a sober mind is not something a woman naturally possesses. Ephesians 4:23 and Romans 12:2 both speak to renewing our minds.  If our minds were okay with God then he wouldn’t have given us these commands!

~Ephesians 4:23~ And be renewed in the spirit of your mind.

We have to filter our trials, temptations, tests, and every thought through scripture.

In every temptation of your flesh to just be the same woman you always have, or handle the trials the same old way, or give into your fleshly cravings for sin like your friends are doing, pray for the Spirit’s power and the word’s filtering, and be sober. 

~1Peter 4:7~ But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.

A sober woman is in control of her thoughts, emotions, and actions.  She is circumspect, aware, and alert to the enemy. An unsober woman is foolish and caught up in her feelings.

A foolish woman is characterized in scripture as:

  1. Contentious and angry. Proverbs 21:19
  2. Shameful. Proverbs 12:4
  3. Loud and stubborn. Proverbs 7:11
  4. Thoughtless. Proverbs 11:22
  5. Destructive. Proverbs 14:1

A foolish woman impairs the body of Christ.  They’re unstable and unfaithful, emotional women, who are marked by sins of the tongue-flattery, gossip, slander, and lying. They’re contentious. They hinder the gospel of Christ from going forth and the mission of God from being accomplished.  You don’t want to be this woman! 

That’s why discipleship the Titus 2 way is so imperative to the health of the body of Christ. A mature and godly woman taking another woman under her wing and teaching her with her life and her words, using scripture as the absolute authority for every issue she faces, is biblical discipleship. Without these discipleship relationships within the body, foolishness abounds, contention and chaos never cease, women rally for roles they’re not equipped or called to. Without women teaching women, the structure gets out of order.  We cannot afford to forsake this integral part of the local New Testament Church, as laid out in the book of Titus.

A sober woman isn’t without feelings, she doesn’t suppress her emotions.  She renews her mind with the truth of scripture and that in turn modifies her emotional responses to be in line with God’s will and his word.  God gave us emotions so that we can really experience life, and be empathetic in ministry.  Without emotions we’d be robots, so they’re necessary, but we have to be taught how to control them so that they don’t control us.

Whatever we allow to dominate our mind will dictate our mouth, manners, and ministry.

Sometimes there are physical reasons why our emotions get all out of whack- hormones, lack of sleep, sickness, chronic pain. Those times can really make it hard to be sober.  So we need to be patient and understanding with each other, our daughters, and disciples.  Freely give grace as you have freely received it, and pray her through those times where her body has hijacked her senses.

Being sober is learning how to renew your mind so that you can be emotionally stable and spiritually strong.

It’s a moment by moment, day by day way of thinking. A state of mind that can change based on how much time you spend in the word, and how surrendered to the Spirit you are. It’s having a filtered and focused mind.

Even if we are foolish, unfiltered, and driven by our feelings right now, that doesn’t mean we’re destined to be this way forever.  I was that woman I described above.  If God can transform me and renew my mind, he can do the same for you! You can be sober, and in the next post I’ll teach ya how!

~Romans 12:2~ And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

 

 

7 Ways out of a Spiritual Slump

No offense to all you soccer and football moms out there, but baseball is where it’s at. We’re a baseball lovin’ family.  Always have been, always will be. (Go Royals!)

While I don’t know everything there is to know about it, and definitely can’t play it, I do know one thing. Every player, no matter how outstanding, will get in a slump.  It’s inevitable.

Why? Because even though they’re talented, and get paid exorbitant stacks of cash for what they do, they are still human, with the potential to fall into a slump.

And so are you.

The stakes are higher and the reward is greater. Souls are hanging in the balance, and the ministry we have has eternal consequences. Being an ambassador for Christ and minister of reconciliation is a weighty role.

Sometimes the pressure can stifle our creativity and send us into a spiritual slump.  If you find yourself in one right now, here are 7 ways to step out of it.

7 WAYS OUT OF A SPIRITUAL SLUMP

  1. Run to the Lord in prayer. Colossians 4:2~ Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; Prayer is a given in every situation in life, but oftentimes we overlook this most basic component of our faith.  We must look to the Lord for help out of the spiritual slump.  We are powerless without prayer!
  2. Repent and purify your heart. Have you every felt like your prayers are just words bouncing off the ceiling, or falling on deaf ears?  This might be an indication of sin in your life that’s hindering your fellowship with Christ.  Confess it, forsake it, and be reconciled to Jesus.  Proverbs 28:13~ He that covereth is sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.  A great verse to commit to memory is 1John 1:9~ If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.   When we hold onto unconfessed sin we are pushing away God’s forgiveness, cleansing, and mercy.
  3. Rework your priorities. God, Spouse, Children, Church, Lost world, and so on. That is the biblical priority list for every Christian woman.  If you’re single with no kids, you are free to “attend upon the Lord without distraction”.(1Cor.7:32-35) Maybe ministry to other women has subtly but steadily slid your ministry to your spouse and children down the line. Stop and examine where you spend the most time, what has your attention? Make the changes necessary to get your priorities aligned with the word and will of God.
  4. Renew your perspective. Sometimes we get in a slump because like athletes, we can get too focused on the numbers and results. We can get consumed by our following on social media. For a refresher on the proper perspective we should have, read this.
  5. Release the pressure. After using a pressure cooker to process jars of food, you take the weight off and release the steam to unlock the lid and get to the goods. When it feels like the weight of your ministry has you locked down, it’s time to let off some steam! Some of us need to start with lifting the weight of unrealistic expectations, and the pressure to perform at a certain level. As long as God is pleased with your ministry, that’s all that matters! Go at his pace and don’t try to compete with anyone else. Give yourself permission to take a break. Go for a walk or to the gym, take a hot bath, or visit with a friend. Take your bible and journal and find a cozy new place to get away with Jesus.
  6. Remember the point. Don’t ever forget that your ministry came from God, is through him, and for him. He gifted and called you, equips and enables you to do what you do for his glory and not your own. Ultimately it’s not about you at all. It’s all about Jesus.  Hold all things loosely, knowing that he can take it just as surely as he gave it. (Job 1:21)
  7. Return to praise. Nothing gets me out of a slump quicker than cranking up the praise music! Praise him for his goodness and grace, his provision and power, and his forgiveness and faithfulness. Let him restore unto you the joy of your salvation as you rejoice in his glorious name.

Whether you’re a writer whose lost the words, or a mama struggling to keep her head above water, the solution’s the same. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. 

I hope these 7 steps are a blessing to you, and that God lifts you out of the slump you’re in as you delight in him today.

~Hebrews 12:1-2~ Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

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From Worry to Worship~ Shifting your focus from the “What ifs” to “What is”

Worry= a state of anxiety and uncertainty over actual or potential problems.  

I was in this state of anxiety this week.

With the holiday,  battling writer’s block, and a tight schedule, I’ve gotten so behind on the blog. I also need to work on the first e-book I’ve started, and revamp my bible study material to teach the ladies at church. Along with that is a nagging sense of pressure to produce transparent pieces that minister to women on a practical level.  Writing is hard y’all!

As I brooded over all I needed to get done, the “what ifs” started popping in.  Things like “what if I get weeks behind on the blog, what if I lose my inspiration completely, what if I never get to finish that e-book, and what if I’m not prepared when it comes time to teach?”

Through some prayer partners, fellow writers, and in my daily time with Jesus, the Lord brought it to my attention that this was all self-inflicted worry.  I placed all these expectations on myself.  Standards without flexibility, giving myself no grace. (Have I mentioned I’m a recovering perfectionist?)

I had to go back and re-read my post on Proper Perspective, and re-apply the truth I had just taught. I needed to be reminded to rest in the Lord, remain in his word, and rely on his Spirit.

God has given me this platform to proclaim the word and help women to know, live, and invest the truth.  He gives me every post, I just have to make sure I’m tuned into his leading through my quality time with him every day.  My job is to put the time in studying, praying, and living out the things I teach.  His job is everything else.

His timing is perfect, and so is his track record. I just need to trust him.

Maybe you’re as forgetful as I am, and you’ve had a similar experience lately.  Times where you find yourself wandering down the rabbit trail of “what ifs” when God desires you to stand firm on the path of “what is“.

Worry is a common stronghold for women.  We crave control, we’re problem solvers, we like to get things done.  So in the unknown that characterizes our walk of faith, it’s easy to fall into the snare of the “what ifs”. If you’re a:

  • Mom– What if my kids don’t get saved; live a life of sin; get cancer; die before me…
  • Wife– What if my husband cheats on me; leaves me; doesn’t get that job; doesn’t walk with Jesus…
  • Daughter– What if my parents get sick; I’m the only one to take care of them; I can’t afford their medicine…
  • Friend– What if they gossip about me; find a new friend; they like someone else more than me…
  • Worker– What if I don’t get enough hours; lose that promotion; get fired; can’t pay my bills…

We could sit and dwell for days on all the different scenarios that could happen.  But where’s the profit in that?  We don’t gain anything other than a few more wrinkles and alot of irritability.

What the Lord wants us to do is to think soberly about the circumstances of life, to discipline our thinking, so that we can worship him freely, without the restraints of unnecessary fears.

Jesus addressed worry in Matthew 6:25-34.  You should read it.  He starts and ends this passage with “take no thought”– basically don’t worry about the things of this life.  God is a perfect provider and will meet all your needs,  you can count on it.

~Matthew 6:33~ But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 

Don’t panic over your problems, put time in with Jesus.  Pray over it all, praise him for who he is and what he has done.  Proclaim the promises of what he will do.

Walk by faith and not by sight.

The apostle Paul also gave us instructions for winning the war with worry:

~1Corinthians 10:5~ Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Instead of stewing over situations outside of your control, and imagining things that may never happen, arrest those thoughts and apply the truth. Put your mind in submission to the word of God.

~Philippians 4:8~ Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Shifting our focus from the “what ifs” to “what is” true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtue, and praise, will naturally turn our hearts from worry to worship as we recount all the ways God is present, powerful, and perfect.

Even if you’re facing great uncertainty, a scary diagnosis, a wayward child, marital problems, or are buried under the weight of a busy schedule, no matter what- God is faithful. 

The Lord is willing and able to provide you with everything you need to extinguish worry before it engulfs you.  You have to be intentional to be sober minded and turn your thoughts toward him. Go from worry to worship today!

~Philippians 4:6-7~ Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Transformation in Times of Transition Part 1

Times of transition are something that we all experience.  Whether that’s a change in season (what up hoodies and bonfires?), style(although leggings will forever be fantastic), school(pray for my daughter), street address(living it!), or a spiritual transition from sinner to saint, or sideline to service, transition can be tough. God has a purpose for these transitions, and that’s transformation!

~Romans 12:1-2~ I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

In this verse Paul tells us what believers are supposed to do – be transformed, not conformed. Then Paul gives us the how to do that – by renewing your mind.  Lastly, he states the why – to prove out the will of God in your life.

The word “transformed” in this verse is the Greek word “metamorphoo”, where we get our English word “metamorphosis”.  It literally means “to be changed into another form, to transfigure, or metamorphose”.  The dictionary definition for metamorphosis is “the process of transformation from an immature form to an adult form in two or more distinct stages.  A change of the form or nature of a thing or person into a completely different one, by natural or supernatural means.”

An example of this in scripture is when Jesus was magnificently transfigured before the disciples. Mark 9:2-3~ And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them. And his raiment became shining exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them.  And in 2Corinthians 3:18, where Paul talks of our transformation as we encounter the Lord~But we all, with” open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.  

God has given us some examples in nature of metamorphosis- frogs, dragonflies, even trees, but I love the example of the butterfly.  First, the butterfly starts out as an egg, which grows into a caterpillar, which then makes a chrysalis, similar to a cocoon, where it is supernaturally transformed into a completely different creature-a beautiful butterfly.

At the caterpillar stage, its sole purpose is to eat as much as possible.  It eats, grows, and sheds its skin five times.

  • As babes in Christ, our job is to eat and drink the word of God (1Peter 2:2, Jeremiah 15:16, Psalm 119:103).  Through personal bible time, discipleship, church services, and online and radio sermons, we feast on the bible, and grow through several stages spiritually.  If you’re in this caterpillar stage, your job is to eat up as much of the word of God as you can and shed those old skins of carnality.

After the caterpillar has satisfied it’s hunger, it finds a safe place to rest and builds its chrysalis.

  • Similarly, we build our spiritual chrysalis by staying in the structure of the local church, maintaining fellowship with other believers, and resting in the safety of our Savior. (Matthew 11:28-30).  During this time of rest and transformation, all of those verses that we have eaten up in the caterpillar stage are like layers of comfort, care, provision, and protection from the Savior.

When the butterfly is ready, it bursts forth as a gorgeous new creature, able to fly instead of crawl and experience an aerial view of God’s creation.  Did you know that it’s sole purpose now is to reproduce?

  • This is like our time of service to the Lord, where we are ready to get out of our comfort zone and make disciples.  A time to invest in others what we have been taught during our time of sanctification and training.  This doesn’t have to be formal teaching, but it can be.  Discipleship is reproducing worshipers for the glory of God. It’s transferring your transformed life and knowledge of Jesus to another person.

Who is in your sphere of influence that the Lord has been laying on your heart?  Pray for them, pray for an opportunity to share a verse with them, or pray with them.  Go to coffee, have dinner together, just build a relationship with this person.  Be an example for them to follow, help bear their burdens, and continually point them to Jesus Christ as their solution to every problem, their Savior in time of need, and sufficient to meet every need, and you will be making disciples.

As you transition through the stages of life, rely on the word of God, rest in the safety of God, and reproduce worshipers of God by allowing the Lord to supernaturally transform you along the way! Continue the cycle of life, take what you have ingested, and the testimony of transformation that you have, and invest it!

 Next time we’ll take a look at the mindset needed for transformation in times of transition.

~2Corinthians 5:17~ Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.