The Door That Leads to the Heart of God

shutterstock_370535978My husband and I recently got to spend a couple of days with our oldest daughter who lives in the northeast and whom we haven’t seen since last Christmas. She’s been living far from home for several years now, so seeing her only a couple of times a year has been normal, yet it never gets any easier for this momma’s heart. We all laughed together, watching old home movies which always brings up memories from the past, and leaves me in a reflective state of mind for several days.

Since becoming a mom just over 30 years ago, I have found that no other experience in my life has helped me to understand the heart of God like being a parent. I’m not sure it’s possible to really feel true unconditional love until you hold your own child in your arms for the first time (and every time after that). Realizing for the first time that the tiny human you helped to create is totally helpless and dependent upon you to live, is a sobering weight of responsibility, yet full of joy and excitement at the same time. In that moment, you know that if it ever came down to it, you would lay down your life for this child. You feel the same way for every one of them.

As they grow into teenagers, you feel the pain they feel as they experience rejection from friends, heartbreak from broken relationships, fear about fitting in, stress from making important decisions. You not only feel their emotions, but you also feel the fear of letting them make choices that could alter the course of their lives. Of course, you offer counsel and advice, but often in their quest for independence, your wisdom isn’t heeded. Still, you love and pray for God to watch over and guide them. You want to protect them, but realize they have to learn from their mistakes just like you have.

When they become adults and begin their own lives apart from you, your deepest desire is that they would be healthy, happy, emotionally stable, and ready, as much as is possible, to face a vast, unknown future. Having done your best, with God’s help, to get them to this stage in life, you hope they will remember what you’ve taught them, and one day teach it to their children as well.

Through this process, God is continually allowing us to feel His heart for us, as His children. He truly loves us unconditionally, no matter what we do or don’t do, and whether we reciprocate His love or not. He laid down His life for us when we were totally helpless to save ourselves and He continues to take care of us, no matter our age. He knows, far better than we do, how totally dependent we are upon Him for everything.

He feels every pain that we experience in this life, and He weeps with, and comforts us in our sorrows. Even when we make poor choices, He allows us to learn from our mistakes rather than always protecting us from the consequences, though they be painful. He also laughs and rejoices with us in our victories. He wants us to grow to maturity, though we never reach a point where we don’t need Him anymore. He desires that we also teach our children about Him, generation after generation, that He might truly have a family, which was His desire from before creation. Truly, the ability to create life and raise our children is one of the greatest, if not the greatest privileges He has given to us as His children. It is a door that leads us straight into His heart.

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Guarding Your Heart Against the Danger of Offense

Charlene S Hughes

heart_0These days, in our politically correct society, everyone is offended at something or someone, it seems. You hear it on TV; read it on social media; see it in the workplace; even in the Church. Offense has become an epidemic. According to the dictionary, offense means, “something that offends or displeases; the feeling of resentful displeasure caused; the act of attacking; attack or assault.” Everyone has an opinion, and the slightest disagreement often leads to offense. This violation can escalate to anger, hate, even violence. At times it appears that some people are looking for something to be offended about.

The biblical definition of offense means, “to cause one to stumble or fall away; to see in another what I disapprove of and what hinders me from acknowledging his authority; to cause one to judge unfavorably or unjustly of another; to make indignant.” In Matthew 13 as Jesus taught in the…

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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…

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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.