Learning to Love Yourself

love-yourselfThose who have been believers in Jesus for very long are quite familiar with the first Two of the Ten Commandments, which Jesus said were the two greatest. “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments,” is what He said. (Matt. 22:37-40) We hear a lot about loving our neighbor, doing good for others, helping the poor, etc. But we hear little to nothing about loving ourselves. Yet, if you break down what Jesus said in terms of priority, it would be:

  1. Love God with all your being
  2. Love yourself
  3. Love your neighbor

He said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” In other words, we can’t love our neighbors the way He would have us to until we first learn to love ourselves. Most believers would claim that is selfish and even against what Jesus taught. But is it really? Do we ever stop and think about what it actually means to love ourselves the way God wants us to? If we think that the love He is speaking of is selfish, greedy, or self-indulgent, we are wrong. That’s not biblical love. Biblical love is desiring and doing what is best for the beloved, no matter what the cost.

So what does that kind of love look like when we refer to loving ourselves? I believe it means many, many things, but for the sake of space, I will list some of the most important ones. Loving oneself, I believe, means (not necessarily in this order):

  1. Taking care of your body – getting proper sleep, exercise, eating healthy, avoiding toxins as much as possible.
  2. Setting healthy boundaries – taking time for yourself, for leisure, hobbies, personal space, quiet time, rest. Saying “no” whenever necessary in order to have that time.
  3. Taking care of yourself emotionally – learning healthy ways to release negative emotions, receiving inner healing, forgiving those who have hurt you, be a human “being,” not a human “doing.”
  4. Taking responsibility for your spiritual health – spending time with God each day, in His Word, prayer, worship, fasting, journaling, your own personal expressions. Also just resting in His presence, letting Him love and minister to you is so crucial. Seek to see yourself as God sees you, this is key to loving yourself the way that He does.

These are just a few ways you can begin to love yourself. Each one could include a list of things you can do, and some things you need to avoid as well. I see and hear believers nearly every day say the worst things about themselves. Many go so far as to even hate themselves. When we do that, we grieve the heart of our Father who created us in His image and loves us infinitely! If we struggle to love ourselves, we are really struggling to love God. When we receive the revelation of God’s great love and passion for us, in spite of our sins, flaws, weaknesses, imperfections, failures, etc., it is easy to love ourselves the way that He does. Then we can truly begin to love our neighbors, because He loves all of them just as much.

Is it Wrong to Need to Be Right?

Charlene S Hughes

Animals___Wild_artiodactyls_Two_deer_butt_097461_Have you ever been around someone who seemed to have a need to always be right? Perhaps you feel that way. I know I did for way too many years. If someone said something I disagreed with, or knew to be wrong, I was always quick to point out their error, or tell them why what they said was incorrect. Unfortunately, for those around me, it was terribly annoying to say the least. My attitude certainly didn’t win me any friends, and often drove my family crazy. In these increasingly dark times we live in, the need to be right has grown by epidemic proportions. It is especially evident in both the news media and the world of social media. Maybe it seems that way because social media relentlessly provides a platform for every thought, word, and deed, both good and bad, of millions of users.

Everyone has a point…

View original post 522 more words

Keys to Discovering Your Passion and Purpose

right_questions-300x222Many people, believers included, live their lives with no real sense of purpose. They wander aimlessly from relationship to relationship, from job to job, and often from one location to another, never having any clear sense of direction. I was that way myself and I talk to people all the time that are in a similar place. I’ve heard several messages on the subject and found that one of the keys to discovering your purpose is to first find your passion. This can be difficult too, if you’re not sure how to recognize what it is. There are a few questions that can help get you started, such as, what do you get excited about? What makes you get up in the morning? What do you love to talk about? If time and money were no issue, what would you choose to do with your life? What do you dream about doing? What makes you cry when you hear, see, or read something? What stirs up your compassion? These are just a few to get your mental wheels turning.

Spend some time thinking, rethinking, and praying over these questions. Discovering your passion can often lead you to discovering your purpose. The things that move you, that stir you up, are usually an indication that those may be areas in which you’re called to serve. If you feel compassion for sick people, perhaps your purpose is to go into the medical field. If you get stirred up by stories about human trafficking, maybe you’re called to join or start a ministry that frees victims. I’m sure you get the idea.

God has a purpose for your life that is far beyond living in survivor mode, just trying to get from one day to the next, from one paycheck to the next, from one crisis to the next. Some people sadly never find that purpose. You were not an accident. You’re not here to just take up space, or to get by as best you can until your days on earth are over. God’s ultimate purpose for everybody is to know Him and be conformed into His image. Any other purpose He has for us plays into that one, and He wants us to find fulfillment and satisfaction in living that purpose out. He came to give us abundant life, meaning, life to the fullest. A life full of meaning, satisfaction and fulfillment, no matter what our purpose may be, is His desire for us.

Don’t waste any more time just living from day to day, trying to get by. Jesus paid the price for us to live abundantly, and to throw that away would be foolish, not to mention irreverent. Ask Him to show you what your passion(s) and purpose is. He put it in you, so He is not trying to hide it from you! Ask yourself the questions I mentioned earlier, and He will help you to discover and live the life of meaning and purpose He desires for you.

 

Freedom From Self

imagesIf you’re a believer and have been in church for very long, you’ve probably heard quite a few messages over the years on sin and how Jesus came to set us free from it. You’ve no doubt heard a lot about repentance and how we should turn from our sin. And you’ve likely been taught certain “rules” whether stated directly or indirectly, that good Christians don’t do certain things. These days, in our politically correct culture, these messages may not be as popular as they once were, but they are still out there, nonetheless. While parts of these messages are true, I believe they are missing the point entirely.

The older I get, the more I have seen in myself and others, and in the world in general, the more I am convinced that what Jesus came to set us free from was ourselves. It is not so much the things we do that are wrong, as far as God is concerned. What matters more to Him are the reasons we do those things. The motives of our heart. If we are really honest with ourselves, we would all readily admit we are selfish; I know I am. We may do good to, and for, others, but deep down in our innermost being, we usually put ourselves and our needs first. Some, who are constantly doing for others to the point of neglecting their own legitimate needs, should put themselves first sometimes. That’s not the situation I’m referring to here, however.

Not only are we selfish when it comes to what we want, but we’re also very opinionated, thinking our way is always right. Our ideas are the best. Our assessments (judgments) of others are always correct. Our interpretation of Scripture is always accurate. What we do is more important than what anyone else does. This even manifests in the Church. If we’re a missionary in the field, we think everyone is called to that. If we are an evangelist, we try to coerce others to do the same. If we work with kids, we think everyone should work with kids. I’m sure you get my point. We even try to shame others into feeling that their calling isn’t as holy, or anointed, or sacred, or whatever… I’m not pointing any fingers here, I know I’ve done the same.

Jesus wants to free us from self. From always looking out for ourselves, defending ourselves, justifying ourselves, taking more than we give, thinking more of ourselves than we do others. Living that way, I’m discovering, is the worst kind of bondage because we tend to be much harder on ourselves than even the enemy is. Can anyone relate, or is it just me? He wants us to see things through His eyes, not our own narrow-mindedness or petty, shallow thinking. Too often we choose our opinion over His, our rationale over His wisdom, our political persuasion over His Lordship, our beliefs over His Word. We magnify the devil by choosing fear over faith, worry over contentment, anger over peace.

This is why Paul said, “I die daily.” (1 Cor. 15:31) Freedom from self means making different choices every day than those we are used to making, by His grace. It means giving Him room to lead us in our thoughts, words, and actions. It really all boils down to one thing – loving Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength; loving Him more than we love ourselves. Of course, we can’t do this apart from His grace, but we have His Spirit within, continually supplying all that we need.

Healing Ministry 2.0

garden-waterfall-designWhen the Lord called me out of full-time ministry into starting a full-time home based business last year, I have to admit, I had LOTS of questions. I prayed for months, seeking His wisdom, guidance, and direction before stepping out into another totally new venture (first time I started a ministry over 10 years ago, now first time starting a business). Over those months, He began to show me that what I am now doing, sharing my love of Young Living essential oils and products is just another facet of the healing ministry I had been doing the past 10+ years. I call it Healing Ministry 2.0.

During Jesus’ short earthly ministry, He never healed anyone the exact same way twice. This makes perfect sense if you consider that everyone is different, everyone’s background and current issues are unique, and everyone responds in various ways. This was true in ministry, and it is true in the ministry/business I am now doing. God obviously loves variety, just take a look at human beings, animals, and everything else He made! In this new journey over the past two years, I have discovered more of the amazing wonder of our God through His creation, specifically, plant life.

Just one aspect of this is seen in the symbiotic relationship between plants and humans. To make it simple to understand, plants take in carbon dioxide and emit oxygen; humans take in oxygen and emit carbon dioxide. Plant life is vital to sustaining human life, and vice versa. God created plants and trees and made a Garden for Adam and Eve to live in. In two places Scripture says, “And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.” (Ezek. 47:12; Rev. 22:2) Essential oils are the life-blood of plants, trees, flowers, seeds, etc. Just as our blood carries nutrients, oxygen, and all the life-giving substances our bodies need to thrive, so plants do the same through the oils found within them. The various properties and chemical constituents that benefit plant life can often do the same for us. This is the reason essential oils, in their purest form, are very powerful for supporting every system and organ of our bodies.

As I continued to learn about the potency and benefits of using essential oils as opposed to synthetic drugs, supplements, and other medications, and experienced their effects for myself and my family, I was more convinced that this was the direction in which God was leading me. He continued to give me one confirmation after another until I was finally at peace. My excitement began to grow as I started helping others discover the life-changing differences me and my family have enjoyed. In addition, I’ve been learning about the serious health dangers caused by the many toxin and chemical laden products we typically use every day – things like laundry detergent, fabric softener, bath, body, hair, and personal care products, make-up, scented candles and air fresheners, household cleaning products, not to mention the pesticides found on our produce, and chemical, artificial ingredients in processed foods.

Should we realistically expect God to heal us physically when we use products that have been proven to cause disease, disorders, and other potentially life-threatening health issues? It is our responsibility to properly care for our bodies, as temples of the Holy Spirit. Our country is already largely overweight due to poor eating habits and passive lifestyles. I’m not condemning anyone, but just stating the facts. Although we are one of the most medically and scientifically advanced nations, yet we continue to get sicker and it is not just affecting adults, but children, and even babies, as well. We must realize that something is terribly wrong with this picture. When a television ad goes on and on about the potential side-effects of a drug more than they list the benefits, it should get our attention. (I’m not advocating that we totally ditch traditional medicine nor the help of doctors or other health care professionals.) We may not be able to get rid of all the toxins and chemicals we consume, but we can get rid of more than we may realize.

I have reached a point where I am no longer willing to live a life of passivity where my health and the health of my family is concerned. I have suffered many health issues over the years, and enough is enough. If you feel the same way, I would love to hear from you, and would love even more to share with you some better options, and what has worked for us. Begin the journey to the abundant life Jesus died to give us. Healing is His will for all of us, but we must do our part; He has already paid the price.

The Intentionality of God

Charlene S Hughes

Sunbeams in forestGod is intentional in all that He does or allows. According to the dictionary, intention means, “an act or instance of determining mentally upon some action or result; the end or object intended; purpose.” In other words, nothing is ever accidental with God. He has specific purposes in mind for His children. He made this clear in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  He always intends to accomplish His plans.

As a Father, His intentions toward us are always in our very best interest. His greatest purpose for each one of us is to conform us into the image of His Son. Everything that He does or allows to touch us is unto that end. What’s more is that He is totally committed to…

View original post 188 more words

4 Steps to Having Peace in Troubled Times

london-riotThese times we are living in are unprecedented in our lifetimes in terms of the amount of chaos, turmoil, upheaval, and shaking that is taking place in nearly every segment of society. With nearly constant threats of violence, terrorism, hatred, protests, riots, and the like, it is difficult, to say the least, to find a place of peace. Natural disasters seem to be increasing as well; nowhere seems safe anymore. Yet Jesus clearly warned us that times like this would occur, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) This, and other warnings He gave, were not meant to put us in fear, but to prepare us so that we would not be blind-sided and panic. 

According to this passage, there are four steps to finding and keeping our peace in the midst of turmoil:

  1. Realize God knows everything. He knew this would happen, so He’s not surprised at all. He is not fretting or wringing His hands or worried. He has a plan and it is good, because He is. Though He doesn’t control everything, He is still on the throne and will always be. (See my article, Is God Really in Control? for my views on that topic).
  2. Understand that it is only in Him we will find peace. He is our peace. He is our place of rest, safety, and protection. He is with us, in us, and for us, therefore who can really be against us? We find peace in His nature, that in spite of trials and troubles, He is good and always has our best interest at heart. He works all of the circumstances of life together for our ultimate good. He may not keep us from trouble, but He walks through it with us, and will never abandon us.
  3. Know that the world and its ways will bring trouble. The spirit of this age is violently opposed to God and His ways. Jesus told us that the world hated Him, and would also hate us. (John 15:18) James said that friendship with the world meant hatred towards God. (James 4:4) To expect otherwise is to deceive ourselves.
  4. Jesus tells us to “take heart,” meaning, to be of good cheer; be of good courage; to be bold in the face of troubles! How can we be bold in the face of persecution, hatred, and violence? By knowing He has overcome this world. He was subjected to the worst possible violence, persecution and hatred. He was even betrayed by those closest to Him. He endured the greatest injustice of human history, yet He overcame it because of His love for us. Because He conquered every foe and came out victorious, so will we!

The more we meditate upon God’s nature as seen in His Word, the more we will know Him as He really is. Many in the Church still view Him as angry, vengeful, nit-picking, and perfectionistic. Too often He is believed to be judgmental, displeased, and disgusted with us in our weaknesses and failures. These ungodly views do not facilitate peace in our relationship with Him. We must get healed and free from these ways of seeing Him if we ever hope to have peace in our lives. The more we know Him, the greater our peace in the midst of any storm.