Blue Jean Affirmation

What is it that makes you feel good? Is it how you feel? How you look? What you know? Who your friends are? Who or what tells you that you are worthy, valuable, beautiful? I believe it is all these and more.

Recently, I had to replace my worn out blue jeans with some new ones. I don’t like shopping so whenever I need new jeans, I usually go online, type in what I need and then look for the proper size and the right price. Imagine my surprise when I looked at my new blue jeans and found a message written inside, just for me!

“You are beautiful! You are worth it! You are flawless! You are valuable!” These affirmations and others of similar type, were printed on the inside pocket. I was flabbergasted! How did they know I was all these things? And how encouraging it was to see them….NOT!

While I appreciate the company’s desire to do something to offer affirmation and encouragement, I was reminded that truth is not always found on the pockets of my jeans—and that I need to be discerning and wise about the ways of the world and the deceptions of men.

In our search for significance, we can find ourselves searching out kind and gentle words from any source available. We must be careful and live as those with wisdom so we don’t fall prey to our need for acceptance, affirmation, value and purpose. These are available to those who enter into a personal relationship with Christ, on His terms as expressed in His own words. “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” John 6:40

Our value is found in the price God was willing to pay to restore man’s relationship with Him (the death of His One and Only Son, Jesus); and our purpose is found in a personal relationship with Jesus.

Throughout history, there have been men and women who seek to advance their own agenda and who take pleasure in leading others astray. We must take care in who we listen to and where we seek significance and purpose. As Paul warned Timothy, a time will come when we seek out teachers in accordance with our own desires. (2 Timothy 4:3) Of course, I bet you never thought the makers of a pair of blue jeans would seek to tickle your ears and influence your self-esteem, did you?

I am glad that God uses the experiences of everyday life to reveal Himself to us and to teach us truth. Today, I am reminded of these words from Paul and am thankful that I am accepted in the beloved and there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 1:6 and Romans 8:1)

How about you? Are you longing for acceptance? If so, I encourage you to reach out to the One who knows you perfectly and loves you fully. Cry out to God, the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe, acknowledge you have done bad things and ask Him to bring you into a personal relationship with Him.

“For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.” 2 Corinthians 10:18

Silent Night?

Have you ever been speechless? I mean, really speechless! I have. Many years ago, the women’s ministry at my church was preparing to kick-off a new mentoring program and, as leader of the ministry, I was looking forward to being the speaker for our event. However, on the morning of the event, I woke up speechless. Literally—I had laryngitis. This was before texting and I did not have any way to contact the committee. So I got in my car, went to Marilyn’s home, and knocked on the door. Marilyn was hosting her home school cooperative and she was not the one who opened the door. I will never forget the look on the face of the woman who did open the door. Here stood a crazy woman, gesturing wildly. I felt helpless and frustrated and also a bit foolish. After what seemed an eternity but was probably only a moment, Marilyn came to the door and we were able to come up with an alternative plan for the evening. The evening went well and it was only after Marilyn was done with the speaking part that my voice returned. I was more than a bit upset. After all, this was my brainchild and I deserved to be the one to introduce it, right? Well, we all know the saying, “Pride comes before a fall;” and, before the night was over, I realized that my pride had truly led me to this point. I had been so excited that I would have the opportunity to stand before all the women and be recognized for the great teacher that I was. I believe God used my laryngitis to teach me an important lesson that night. The Holy Spirit convicted me of my sinful pride and taught me that ministry is not about me or my programs—but about God and His desires. I wish I could say that I never experienced pride again, but I can’t. I can say that God often reminds me of this lesson and uses it to remind me that it truly is all about Him.

As we anticipate the celebration of Christmas, I ask that you consider the experience of another who was struck speechless—Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist. His story is told in the first chapter of Luke’s Gospel. Luke tells us that Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth, were both righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. Yet, even this righteous man had difficulty believing the words the angel brought that day. “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son and you are to call him John.” Luke 1:13

Because of his unbelief, Zechariah is struck speechless and for the next nine months had a case of “divine laryngitis.” Even as I struggled to make myself understood, Zechariah did the same, but his laryngitis lasted a lot longer than mine. I don’t remember the first words I spoke after my voice returned, but Luke’s Gospel has an account of Zechariah’s: “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to His people and redeemed them.” Luke 1:68

As I read these verses, I was reminded of the time I was “speechless” and the lesson in humility. As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Redeemer, let’s spend some time “speechless” before the LORD and learn from His example. Then, like Zechariah, let’s raise our voices and give praise and honor to the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has come to His people and redeemed them.

Merry Christmas from Judy and me – and may God draw you closer to Him in 2017.

Fear and Faith

Before I entered into a relationship with Jesus, my life was characterized by fear and anxiety. Even the simple step of asking Jesus to forgive my sins and to take control of my life produced fear and anxiety in the deepest part of my heart; but the desire for healing and relationship was stronger. By the grace of God, I was able to step out in faith and begin a new life filled with peace. Even now, as I think back to that day, I am amazed at the changes God has brought into my life. No longer does fear dictate my actions—no longer does anxiety cripple my plans. “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, all fears are gone.” This simple chorus expresses a truth that forever changed my life.

Many times, we want to live a life that is comfortable so we avoid anything that produces fear or anxiety. We allow fear to cripple our forward motion and we seek to do those things which are comfortable. How many times have I used this excuse— “I don’t feel peace” – when making a decision? While feelings are good indicators for what we are thinking, they are not good motivators for forward progress. Many times, our feelings inhibit forward motion and are used by the devil to keep us from fulfilling our potential. In “Joshua, Courageous Discipleship,” Dr. Ralph Wilson says:

My friend, one of the reasons you haven’t grown more in your walk with God is because of your fear—fear of people, fear that people won’t approve, fear that you’ll fail, fear that you’ll make a fool out of yourself, fear that you aren’t strong enough, fear that God will let you down.  

I have found that fear can overpower faith—but I am learning that fear and faith can exist together and when I choose faith (believing God and His promises, not that elusive ‘feeling’ that I think I can somehow muster up), fear is less crippling. I still have the fear—but as I go forward, God proves Himself faithful once more. The reality that God is on my side and that He is with me gives me courage and strength to do those things which seem uncomfortable and scary, whether it be reaching out to those who are hurting on the streets or standing before a group of people instructing them in the importance of reaching out to those who are hurting. Not to mention - traveling to foreign countries…

In Joshua 1:9 God says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

Romans 10:17, Paul writes, “Faith comes from hearing the message and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” Take time to read God’s Word and to meditate on it day and night and you, too, will find the courage to move forward despite your fear.

Blessings, Jackie

Beliefs and the Family System

Have you ever said, “I sound just like my mother?” Did you ever wonder why you turned into your mother (or father) even though you were determined not to?

The answer to this question is pretty simple, really. The members of our family have a large impact on our lives. The family system is our most important childhood influence simply because of the close, continual contact in this system. We all grew up in some sort of family system. 

Some of us had a large family, while some had a small family. Each member is connected to every other member. When one member does something, every other member is affected. 

As the diagram illustrates, each family member is connected to all the family members. Each one of us learns from each of the others. We can learn from modeled behavior (behavior that we observe) or from pointed behavior (behavior that is directed at us).

The beliefs that we learn affect our behavior, which in turn affects the whole family system. God, as the designer of the family system, has standards for how the family should operate.  Each family member should love and respect all the others. Sometimes the family meets these standards and sometimes it doesn't. Each member of the family learns beliefs from watching the other family members—including the father, mother, and children.

Proverbs 22:24, 25. “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared.” NIV

What is the principle we learn from these verses? We become like those with whom we spend time or with whom we associate. We need to understand that if our family and close friends modeled to us certain actions, reactions, behaviors, emotions, etc., which are not in accordance with God’s Word, we could easily and naturally repeat the same behaviors. Many times, these behaviors bring negative consequences, which make us suffer. Many of these negative consequences impact our lives and the lives of future generations.

So, now for some good news. There is a way we can change our belief systems and learn to live in a way that brings good consequences and honors God. How can we do this? We begin by examining the beliefs we learned from our family system. Identifying the lies we believe is the first step in breaking free from the bonds of generational sin and finding a better way to live.

The following exercise will help you to identify the beliefs learned from your family system. Try to see both the godly and ungodly beliefs that have been learned. For example, even if you grew up in a non-Christian home, you may have seen your father respect your mother; or you may have had positive support in some areas from your parents. As you work through this chart for yourself or with someone, you will find that you can put any of God’s commands in the left column and then work through the chart. This is a great tool to help you identify the areas of your family life and examine what behavior was modeled and determine the belief you learned from it. From looking at the beliefs learned, you will be able to see the truths and lies that you believe.

Let’s look at an example:

Ephesians 5:22-6:4 tells us God’s standard for families:
All: Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ
Husbands: love your wives just as Christ loved the church
Wives: submit yourselves to your own husband as you do to the Lord
Children: obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right
Fathers (parents): don’t exasperate your children, instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord

This exercise was very helpful to me as I worked through the restoration process. It helped me to see the positive aspects of my family as well as the things that I needed to change.

It is my prayer that God will give you insight as you do this exercise. I encourage you to pray for honesty as you fill out the profile. Facing some of the realities of your family may be difficult for you.  It is my prayer that as you go through this process, you will seek out the support of those around you. Having the support, prayers and encouragement of a trusted friend, counselor or support group during this time will be very beneficial to you.

God's Amazing Work of Restoration

In 2015 REST Ministries celebrated 25 years of ministry. As I have looked back, I have thought about some of things God has done in and through us over the past 25 years. The deepest impression on me is the stories of the women and men who have attended the workshops, seminars, and conferences, especially the Bridge to Restoration Workshop. Over the years, after attending the workshops and being discipled, a few have even helped with the ministry. I give all the praise to the Lord for His grace and faithfulness to us and the power of His Truth to set us free from the lies of the past and teach us how to live in the truth of who we are in Christ.

This is one woman’s testimony:

Isaiah 41:10 (ESV) Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Hebrews 4:9 (ESV) There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own works, just as God did from His. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest.

“When the bottom fell out of my life, God was there for me. He took me in His loving arms and started the process of Restoration. REST Ministries was part of His Righteous Right Hand.

“When the walls of my heart came tumbling down, He picked up the broken pieces, entered my pain and gave me hope only He could give. REST Ministries was a part of that hope.

“When friends, family, and the church failed to be there for me, Jesus was my support. He was the Strong Arm to lean on. REST Ministries is part of the supportive body of Jesus Christ.

“When the fiery test of confusion invaded the corridors of my mind and heart, the Truth of God’s Word was a lamp unto my feet, a light to my path. Jesus, the Living Word within me, took me through the darkness of my tunnel vision experience. A brighter light awaited me as He walked with me through and away from the dark night of my soul. He brought me out to bring me into a greater awareness of His grace. As in other trials of my life, He proved again to be The Way, The Truth, and The Life. When I was helpless and hopeless to help myself, His grace proved sufficient to do for me what I could not do for myself. His Joy rose again within me, the greatest joy I have ever experienced.

Nehemiah 8:10 (NASB) … Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

“REST Ministries was part of the restoration process in my life. This arm of the church gave compassion, encouragement, support and truth. They held the light faithfully while God began the rest and restoration process to a life that once was bruised, and broken by the storms of life.

“I was like the disciples when they cried out to the Lord to save them from the stormy sea that threatened to drown them. Jesus stood up in my boat in the midst of my storm and spoke to the winds and the waves that threatened to destroy me. When He spoke, rest entered my life once again – the rest of my body, my soul, and my spirit. Jesus has taken me to the other side of the storm. Today I am able to once again walk in the confidence of the Lord. Praise God for what He is doing in my life. Though I am flawed and imperfect, His grace continues to carry me through life. When I see others struggling in some of the ways I have, I can once again testify to the faithfulness of the Lord. As Corrie Ten Boom once said, ‘There is no pit so deep that the love of God is not deeper still.’”

Isaiah 43:1-3 (TLB) But now the Lord who created you… says: Don’t be afraid, for I have ransomed you; I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up—the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, your Savior, the Holy One of Israel….

What a wonderful testimony of God’s amazing grace and restoration. If you have a story of God’s grace in your life, I hope you will share it with us.


What Abuse Is and Does …

“Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close.” (Psalm 27:10 NLT)

According to FreeDictionary.com, nearly 83% of abused children were abused by a parent or a parent acting with another individual. In our first article titled “A Life Restored,” I shared with you a little about myself, as well as the abuse and dysfunction in my family’s background. Today, I want to share some definitions of abuse, and how it personally affected me.

As a result of the different types of abuse that I endured for many years, I formed and was taught many misconceptions and lies about God, in addition to lies about others and myself.

“These little ones believe in me. It would be best for the person who causes one of them to lose faith to be drowned in the sea with a large stone hung around his neck.” (Matthew 18:6 GW)

As a coping mechanism, at first I denied and minimized the abuse, as did my abusers. I certainly wasn’t aware of how much it would adversely affect me for the rest of my life in one way or another. During the early years, I lived in constant fear of what might happen to me if someone discovered our family’s dark secrets, and what my mother might do to me if others knew what actually was going on in our house. I grew to believe that I was at fault for what was happening. I struggled daily trying to understand what was wrong with me, and what I could have done that was so terrible to deserve the beatings, as well as the verbal and emotional abuse. I consistently tried everything I could think of to please my parents and to earn the love I so desperately longed for, to no avail. Subsequently, many years passed before I discovered that most abuse victims and survivors had/have experiences and feelings virtually identical to my own.

The types of abuse that people are most familiar with are physical, sexual, emotional, verbal, and actions involving neglect. But, please note that spiritual misappropriation and withholding of financial support are also widespread forms of abuse. Spiritual misappropriation is the misuse of God’s Word to lord over and control, versus to love, respect, and care for. Financial withholding is when a family head has the monetary means to provide the family’s needs such as meals and medical care, but doesn’t do so as a result of personal indulgences such as addictions (gambling, pornography, drugs, etc.) or control issues.

“But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers.” (1 Timothy 5:8 NLT)

In the United States, as well as in many other countries, and even in the dictates of the United Nations, abuse is illegal.  REST Ministries firmly believes that abuse is not only illegal, but it’s also ungodly.

The Free Dictionary’s definition of abuse is … “to use improperly or excessively misuse; to hurt or injure by maltreatment; physical maltreatment or violence.”

REST Ministries believes abuse is a physical or verbal act committed against someone that injures or damages them in body, soul, and/or spirit, whether directly or indirectly, short-term or long-term. The bottom line is that abuse has occurred when someone has grievously sinned against another. When abuse occurs, the perpetrator has not only sinned against the victim, but he or she has also sinned against God and is in direct violation of His Word.

According to the medical dictionary sector of FreeDictionary.com, “the United Nations Development Fund for Women estimates that one-third of all women in the world will be beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused during their lifetime. Sixty-nine percent of women worldwide report that at some time during their life they have been abused by a spouse or man with whom they are intimate. Intimate partners also commit the majority of murders of women.”

During my early teen years, I was sexually abused by a so-called family friend, as well as by someone I dated whom I believed when he said he loved me. The abuse greatly affected my body, soul and spirit. Some of the wounds to my body healed quickly; others took quite some time. But, the wounds to my soul and spirit are still healing. The emotional and verbal abuse gave me a distorted unbiblical view of myself. I would judge myself very harshly. I was in a regular habit of kicking and putting myself down. In an unhealthy way, I became a perfectionistic, workaholic, and an individual who was very intimidated by authority figures. I would feel very uneasy around certain types of people, and really didn’t know how to relax and have fun in a normal social setting.

I remember going to an “adult only” party where they were having good wholesome fun playing Charades. I was watching some of the people miming their phrases, as others were hilariously laughing while trying to guess the answers. And then, they kindly tried to get me to participate; I went into full panic mode! There was no way I was going to get up there and publicly act like that. I was so terrified that I immediately left the party. Maybe you can identify with some of my thought patterns and fear based irrational emotions. 

Today, I want you to be encouraged knowing that it’s possible to heal from these types of heartbreaking wounds and deep psychological scars. God is totally able to heal the brokenhearted and those with a broken spirit. What has, and does help me is when I take the time to pray, asking God to heal me by giving me an overall picture of how the abuse has affected me and what truths He wants me to know.

In our next post, I will elaborate more about the specific areas in which abuse affects us. But for now, just remember that total healing and restoration are absolutely possible. I can tell you this with full heavenly authority because of what God has done in my life.

“The Lord appeared to me in a faraway place and said, ‘I love you with an everlasting love. So I will continue to show you my kindness. Once again I will build you up, and you will be rebuilt …’” (Jeremiah 31:3-4a GW)

Abundant blessings, Judy

The Family System …

Family systems are defined as the “social interactions, patterns, and interdependences that exist between members of families, especially as they pertain to the impact of one member’s illnesses on others in the family.”

We all grow up in some form of a family system. Some of you may have grown up in multiple systems. For example, maybe your parents were divorced and you toggled back and forth between them. Or, possibly you grew up in the foster care organization and moved frequently from one family system to another. Even if you grew up in an orphanage, other forms of family systems exist within these facilities.

The family system is the core of our most important childhood influences, simply because of the close continual interactions within the system. Each member is connected to every other member as shown in the illustration below, and they interact in reciprocal relationships, responding to one another in the context of their individual roles.

When one member of the family engages in certain behaviors (positive or negative), every other member is affected to varying degrees. This is illustrated by the arrows which display the interconnection of the family members. You might be wondering how all the members of a family are affected by the actions of a single member? Well, each member mentally absorbs something from the modeled behavior of others. And then, based on what they’ve witnessed, responds out of their own beliefs. For example, as children witness behaviors from their fathers towards their mothers, they will subconsciously ingest ideals and beliefs; and being children, they probably won’t even realize the principles and standards they’re absorbing at the time. If the behavior is positive, male children may learn that husbands should treat their wives with respect, by being loving and supportive. In this same scenario, female children may come to learn to expect respect from their husbands.

Take a minute or two to think about the family system you grew up in. Jot down a couple of memories as to how your father figure treated your mother figure. How did your mother figure treat your father figure? How do you think some of your personality traits developed from the examples you observed within your family system? How has this affected your current relationships, and manifested in other areas of your life? These can be tough questions, and sometimes they may bring up painful memories. But, this process can also be helpful to you in learning to recognize the lies that have become a part of your fundamental system of beliefs. Once God reveals to you all of the lies that have consciously and subconsciously become a part of your personal belief system, you can then begin to learn how to replace those lies with God’s Truth. It’s His Truth that will set you free.

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32 NIV)

God, as the Designer of the family system, has standards and principles for how the family should operate, such as … family members should hold each other in high regard with love and respect. There are a great number of families that strive to attain these standards with success, and there are a great many that don’t.

The mass majorities of the behaviors that I observed within my own family system were ungodly, and certainly didn’t follow the principles of God’s Word. After I became a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, I began to learn exactly how God wanted me to love Him, myself, and others in a godly and healthy way. This didn’t happen overnight; it’s an ongoing process. So, my hope is that you will be patient with yourself. I would encourage you to pray, and to ask God to bring a mature Christian role model into your life who can help teach you God’s principles, as well as guide and support you in this Christian journey. Two of the resources my mentor suggested that I utilize were excellent publications. The first was written by Kay Arthur and entitled “Lord, Heal My Hurts.” The second was written by Nancy Leigh DeMoss entitled “The Lies Women Believe: And the Truth that Sets Them Free.”

“Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them from their distress. He sent out His word and healed them; He rescued them from the grave.” (Psalm 107:19-20)

In His Grace, Judy

Edited by: Min. Tracey Carson

"imagine if"

We here at REST Ministries greatly desired to share a poem of encouragement with you this month. Personally, this poem reminds me of what a great God we have and the depth of His faithfulness to us.  Second Timothy 2:13 says …

“If we are unfaithful, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny who He is.” (NLT)

If

If you never felt pain,
Then how would you know that I’m a Healer?
If you never went through difficulty,
How would you know that I’m a Deliverer?
If you never had a trial,
How could you call yourself an overcomer?
If you never felt sadness,
How would you know that I’m a Comforter?
If you never made a mistake,
How would you know that I’m forgiving?
If you never were in trouble,
How would you know that I will come to your rescue?
If you never were broken,
Then how would you know that I can make you whole?
If you never had a problem,
How would you know that I can solve them?
If you never had any suffering,
Then how would you know what I went through?
If you never went through the fire,
Then how would you become pure?
If I gave you all things,
How would you appreciate them?
If I never corrected you,
How would you know that I love you?
If you had all power,
Then how would you learn to depend on Me?
If your life was perfect,
Then what would you need Me for?
(Author Unknown)

 

Fighting Personal Battles

“And Moses said to the people, ‘Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.’” Exodus 14:13-14 (ESV)

How do you fight the battles in your life? Maybe you are like me in that it seems as if, when I’ve just finished facing and fighting one conflict, another scrimmage has already begun. I’ve faced and continue to face many struggles in my life, as I’m sure you do too. I believe we all wrestle with tests, challenges, and spiritual warfare just about every single day. Sadly, it’s the reality of living in a sin-filled world.

Generally, we all contend with different kinds of battles from day to day. The combat can be in a range of areas such as physical, psychological, emotional, or spiritual. Those who contend with physical issues may have to wrestle regularly with chronic or serious health problems. Emotional turmoil may stem from negative encounters with family members, co-workers, or neighbors. Psychological warfare often arises from life experiences that cause self-esteem issues. And, spiritual grappling is frequently entangled with doubt. Internal brawls can attack in many different forms.

In many different circumstances, the Israelites tended to take their eyes off the Lord and focus solely on their immediate situations. Unfortunately, this has become a habit of which most Christians are guilty. A perfect example can be found in chapter 14 of Exodus. God had graciously delivered the Israelites out of their bondage in Egypt, but Pharaoh’s army was coming after them in a hot pursuit with the intent to slaughter. At this point, the Israelites became terrified and thought they were going to die. Moses had the huge task of helping them stay focused on the Lord’s leading which ultimately gave them their freedom and victory.

Every time we take our eyes off of the Lord and put them on our struggles, what usually results is fear, discouragement, anxiety, and hopelessness. When we experience these things, we need to stop our thought trains and turn our entire focus onto God by remembering His promises. If need be, repeat aloud that Jesus is on your side and will fight for you because He said He would; and He can’t be defeated. In Isaiah 54:17 God Himself says …

“… no weapon turned against you will succeed. You will silence every voice raised up to accuse you. These benefits are enjoyed by the servants of the LORD; their vindication will come from Me. I, the LORD, have spoken!” (NLT)

It’s important to note that God did not say that no weapons would ever form against us; but He did clearly state that none of them would be victorious over us. This is why it’s equally important to read the Bible avidly so that you’ll know what He promised. Knowing His promises will disable the enemy from tricking you into bouts of anxiety and despair.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes it’s hard for me to shut up and be still.  I’m a doer! Taking action is one of my “type A” personality traits. But, I’m learning how and when to be hushed verbally and physically. I strive daily to let Christ be the God of my words and actions, while I trust Him with every detail of my life. Psalm 46:10 says …

“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” (NLT)

When we regularly devote the time to be still in mind, body, and spirit, spending time with God in prayer, He often reveals Himself to us in different ways. Thus, we learn how to enter into His rest and strength. We learn how to walk by faith and not by sight, as well as how to truly find His mercy and grace fully sufficient for whatever turmoil awaits us.

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 (NIV)

Abundant blessings, Judy

Edited by: Min. Tracey Carson

 
 

Examples & Effects of Outward Influences

Dear Friends,

Last month we discussed the topic of “Outward Influences.” In that article we defined outward influences, and delved into how important it is to reflect on the outward influences we each have had that has affected who we are today – both positively and negatively.

I've had a great deal of negative outward influences in my life, but God has also blessed me with a lot of wonderful people in my life who have been powerful positive influences. Many of them have helped me identify the lies that were slowly and systematically destroying the person God created me to be; and, assisted me in replacing those lies with God’s life-saving truths. The Bible gives us many examples of how other people can be influencers for either good or evil:

  • In Mark 15 we read about Jesus when He was brought before Pontius Pilate for sentencing. In verse 11 we read how the chief priests incited the mobs of people to shout for the release of Barabbas (a murderer), and how they demanded Pilate to crucify Jesus.
  • King Solomon was one of the wisest and richest men in the Bible. He started out on the right track, but in 1 Kings 11:4 we read … “As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God like the heart of David his father had been.” (NIV) This illustrates how Solomon’s many wives, who happened to be idol worshipers, turned his heart away from the one true God.

Last month we provided you with definitions and explanations for the terms “Modeled Behavior,” “Point Behavior,” and “Incidents.” Now, we’ll provide you with applicable examples for each of the terms. A “Modeled Behavior” in your life might be how your father treats your mother. Does he bring her flowers every Friday night as a small token of his love for her and appreciation for all she does for the family; or, does he come home drunk every Friday night belittling and screaming at her?  Another example might be how a teacher disciplines two of your classmates. Does he/she speak to them about the problem at hand privately outside of the classroom; or, does he/she mock and demean them in front of the entire class? These are situations in which you are just an observer. Yet, subconsciously these situations instill ideals of some sort into the human belief systems. 

A good illustration of the “Pointed Behavior” that we described in last month’s blog might be how your mother treats you. Does she regularly tell you that she loves you; or, does she call you bad names and say things like she wishes “you were never born?”  Another pertinent example might be how your husband treats you. Does he comes home late from work and apologize for his tardiness; or, does he come home late and beat you because his dinner is cold. A great deal of our beliefs stem from behavior that is pointed towards us.

“Incidents” are often called "acts of God," "strokes of luck," "coincidences," or "accidents."  An example of an Incident might be something good or bad that your grandparents have experienced. Maybe, as a golden anniversary gift someone gives them an all-expense-paid vacation to the Bahamas. Or, maybe they might fall victim to identity theft and lose their entire savings at the hands of someone who preys on the elderly.  There are many other scenarios such as a neighbor's child dies, or a family member gets a divorce. Often  unbeknownst to us, these things affect us greatly and permeate the structure and foundation of our ideals. Those are indirect examples, but here is a direct example of some incidents that might affect your permanent behaviors and even your personality: You work diligently, day and night, on a school project which leads to your receiving a full scholarship to an Ivy League university. Or, maybe an intoxicated driver of a car full of drunken college kids hits you, leaving you paralyzed for the next 12 months.

All of the aforementioned circumstances can be either greatly encouraging or severely traumatic.  Incidents that occur in our personal lives, as well as in someone else’s life, cause us to form beliefs about how God interacts within our world.  Often, if something good happens, we believe that God is good. If something bad happens, we believe that God does not exist or doesn't really care. 

This month I would like you to take some time to think about your own life.  And then, write down some of the outward influences that may have affected who you are. Then write down what you learned from that influence. Was it positive or negative? What did you learn about God, yourself and others?  Sometimes we have been so deeply affected by some of the negative influences in our lives that we haven’t ever really stopped and thought about what we learned and/or wound up believing as a result of those experiences.

 “Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.” (Jeremiah 33:3 NLT)

 Abundant blessings, Judy

 

Edited by: Min. Tracey Carson

 

Outward Influences

Take a very close look at the cycle in the chart above. Many years ago, we at REST Ministries developed this chart. Being a person that was introduced to various forms of abuse at an early age, it has been quite helpful to me. Hopefully, it will be just as helpful to you in understanding the power and effect of outward influences in our lives.

Everything that happens in our lives, whether the occurrences are positive or negative, affects who we are to varying degrees. At REST Ministries, we call these "things" outward influences. We tend to learn and adopt either God’s truths or the enemy’s lies from these external influences. These outward influences help us form conclusions about God, others and ourselves.

The Bible teaches that from our hearts flows a progression of our beliefs, thoughts, feelings, choices and behaviors. When the Bible speaks about our hearts, it’s referring to our minds, free will and our emotions.

“… For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34b NKJV)
Other references: Genesis 8:21; Matthew 12:34-35 and Hebrews 4:12

My dear sisters, no one is exempt from this cycle. A major part of who we are today is the compilation of all that has happened to us, both positively and negatively, throughout the courses of our lives.  In turn, we all must learn how to identify the lies we have learned and ultimately come to believe, and replace them with God’s truths. In doing this, God helps us heal from the negative episodes whether they are as a result of our own choices/decisions, or whether they are the result of the actions of  those who have sinned against us; thus, putting the Biblical restoration process into action. Outward influences affect our system of beliefs which ultimately determines our behaviors. 

After I invited Christ to come into my life, some of my behaviors changed immediately, but other things took a very long time.  For years I struggled with anger, fear, shame, guilt, low self-esteem and insecurity.  I was afraid to share my past with anyone for fear of rejection.  I couldn't understand why, as a Christian, I was still having so many problems.  Since I didn't know the cycle, I didn't understand that my personal beliefs were what I needed to confront.  I had many negative outward influences in my life that deeply affected me inwardly. Thus, I had learned many lies that needed to be confronted with God's truths.

Some of you may or may not be able to identify with my specific hurts, or with the lies I learned. Yet, unfortunately, each of us has experienced several ordeals which brought about emotional scarring because we live in a hurtful world.  Each of us has soaked up many lies, and/or truths from the outward influences we have experienced. I grew up in a non-Christian environment.  But, growing up in a Christian environment is not exempt from its unique sets of ordeals and pains. Because we live in a fallen world, all of us endure various injuries in our lifetimes; and we all learn either truth or lies from those external influences (experiences).

Outward influences are (re)occurring situations (positive or negative) that you hear about, witness, or personally encounter from which you foster ideals and beliefs about others, God, and yourself. Three basic outward influences are:

Modeled behavior - Positive or negative behavior that you witness (once or repeatedly) from one person to another, or from others that is not necessarily directed toward you.

Pointed behavior - Behavior that is directed at you.

Incidents – Things that happen to you, or someone else, that you actually observe or just overhear.

This means that we usually learn something from most situations (good or bad) whether they happen once, sporadically, or frequently. We don’t have to be the direct victim to be personally affected.  All of these scenarios, which are outward influences, impact us by instilling in us varied beliefs about God, others, and ourselves.

Having a proper view of God and the state of our world will enable us to know and believe truths about God, not lies. It’s important to really think about the outward influences in your life while asking yourself what you honestly believe about God, others, and yourself. In future articles, we will discuss examples of outward influences, communicate more about the effects of outward influences, pinpoint the lies, and focus on how to change the false beliefs that have made grave impressions upon us for far too long.

Abundant Blessings to You My Dear Sisters, Judy

 

Do We All Need Biblical Restoration?

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness …’” Genesis 1:26 ESV

God created us in His image. He also created us to have a personal relationship with Him. God placed Adam and Eve in the beautiful Garden of Eden with one simple commandment …

“And the LORD God commanded the man saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.'" Genesis 2:16-17 ESV

Since we are created in God’s image we are given a free will from which we can choose to sin. Keep in mind though, that we can’t choose the consequences of our sins.

From Genesis 3 we learn that the enemy of God (Satan) tempted Eve to sin against God. At the end of this scenario, Adam and Eve decided to believe Satan’s lies, and of their own free will they chose to disobey God. That choice resulted in the sin, suffering, and death we experience in our world today. To this very day, men and women continue to do their own thing, adhering only to their own fleshly desires, and forsaking the will of God.

Adam and Eve’s choice resulted in a broken relationship with God and a marred image in man. The Bible teaches us that a consequence of this blatant sin is that everyone born since this first act of disobedience to God has been born in this condition. This disorder was passed on to us by Adam and Eve. All of us are born with an affliction … we sin by nature and by choice. And, it’s because of this transgression that we all need Biblical restoration.

Psalm 51:5  “For I was born a sinner – yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.” (NLT)

Romans 3:23  “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (NIV)

NOTE: It might help you to also read Romans 3:10 & Romans 6:23.

This is a terrible state to be born into! But, because of God’s great love for us, He offered a remedy that would deliver human beings from this horrible condition. God’s solution to this horrific dilemma was Jesus Christ.

John 3:16  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (NIV)

John 1:12 “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…”

When we put our faith and trust in the work Jesus Christ did for us on the cross as payment for our sins, and ask Christ to come into our lives to be our Lord and Savior, our sins are immediately forgiven. We also receive the gift of eternal life, and are born again into the Family of God. God has restored our severed relationship with Him. And, another amazing thing also happens - God begins the work of restoring our marred image to be like that of Jesus Christ.  

NOW that is good news! That news gives you, me, and all hurting people a true hope. But, it also explains why we all need Biblical restoration. So, how do you receive Christ? Take a moment right now and pray a very simple prayer:

“God please forgive me for my sins. I know I can’t save myself. I believe Jesus died on the cross for me and rose from the grave. Please come into my life and help me to learn how to follow You. Help me to live my life the way that pleases You. Thank You for placing me into the Family of God, for accepting me, for forgiving me, and for restoring my relationship with You. Amen.”

Many years ago I prayed a prayer similar to the one above and asked Jesus to come into my life and help me to have a close relationship with Him. Every day I ask Him to help me to live my life in a way that would please Him.

Keep visiting our blog. My prayer is that you will walk with Jesus so that He can bless you the way He really wants to, and that your life and testimony will become an encouragement and blessing for others.

Please contact me your comments, questions, and prayer needs.

Abundant Blessings to You, Judy

What Is Biblical Restoration?

I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior in October of 1971. It was an amazing day, a day during which I personally experienced a peace that I had never known before. I knew (based on God’s Word) that my sins had been forgiven, and that I had received His gift of eternal life. I had peace! I had hope! I encountered brand new feelings for a brand new me!

Within a few months, the work that God had been doing in my life all along really started to manifest. I began regularly attending a local church where God’s Word was accurately being taught. I also started attending a women’s Bible study. This was a new experience for me, but I really enjoyed learning more about God and about myself, as well as what He wanted for and from me. Step by step, God was helping me to grow in the grace and knowledge of Him.

“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.” (2 Peter 3:18 KJV)

As I was learning more and more about the Lord, He started teaching me His process for overcoming the long-term consequences of abuse and addiction. This process is called Biblical restoration.

What does restore/restoration mean?

Per the American Heritage Dictionary, restore means to “bring back into existence or use; reestablish.”

According to the Complete Word Study Dictionary, restoration means “to bring back to an original state; to put (someone) back in a former position.”

The Bible teaches us that God originally created man in His image to have a relationship with Him. When Adam and Eve believed the lie that their way was better than God's way, which led them to sin against God, our relationship link to God was destroyed. To this very day, Satan is still tricking people into believing this same lie. God’s solution to reestablishing this broken link was Jesus Christ. Please read & 1 Timothy 1:15-16 & 1 Timothy 2:3-5. Restoration of our relationship with God was accomplished by Christ’s death on the cross.

Once our bond has been restored with God through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, God then begins the process of restoring us to His image. This restoration is an ongoing process that occurs throughout our lifetime. 

Our next blog post will address the question: Do We All Need Biblical Restoration? I believe that you will be Biblically enlightened and uplifted by what you read. Therefore, I hope you will continue to follow the REST Assured blog. These articles are not only for those who have been abused, or who are currently in an abusive situation, but also to help those who wish to encourage these individuals in dealing with the short and long-term effects of abuse.

Please feel free to write and share your thoughts with us, as well as any questions you might have. The answers to conquering many human strongholds will be found within our postings. You are important, and we want to encourage you by sharing God’s Truths with you.

God Bless You My Dear Sisters!  Judy Edinger

 

Edited by: Miss Tracey Carson

A Restored Life

Recently, God reminded me that He has not given me His healing and restoration to keep His truths to myself. I am to share them for the benefit of others. So here is my story…

For many years I have been asked to write my story, and have been reluctant to do so. But, over the years, I have seen many women suffering from the effects of past and/or present abuse. Unfortunately, I’ve also seen that they receive little to no help, encouragement or good Biblical guidance. 

I grew up in an extremely dysfunctional home. The neglect, as well as the physical, verbal emotional abuse that I suffered began at a very early age. The neglect was not the lack of food or clothing. It was the lack of proper medical care as a result of the abuse. A short while later the sexual abuse began. The abuse shattered my confidence and self-image. It was during these years that I started digesting and believing many lies about myself, mankind, and God. Some of the lies I learned and believed were:

  • God doesn’t really love ‘me’
  • I can’t trust God
  • I can’t trust anyone
  • People in authority are dangerous
  • I  am worthless
  • I must keep secrets

At the age of 14, I experienced another traumatic blow - I was raped.  I was told that the rape was “my fault.” Also, that it “wasn’t really a big deal.” My few seconds of informal coaching consisted of four words … “just forget about it!” I didn’t receive any medical attention or help of any kind. This was just another big “secret” that had to be kept. The shock and indignity confirmed the lies that I had already believed and taught me some new ones:

  • I am “ruined” goods
  • No one, especially God, cares about or will ever love me
  • My life has no value
  • My life is hopeless

I grew up with these lies becoming stronger and stronger as they took over the forefront of my belief system. The lies, I believed, manifested themselves in my thoughts, feelings, choices and behaviors. By the age of 18 I was an alcoholic; and at 23 engaged in a relationship with a very abusive man. But God … He had other plans for my life. 

God brought a wonderful man into my life. After we were married and moved into our home, a local pastor visited us one day. He clearly explained how much God truly loved us. I confessed that I didn’t really believe God loved me because I had undergone too many afflictions. This pastor pointed out that Jesus has a first-hand understanding of suffering and heartache. I came to understand that it was because of God’s deep love for us, that He willingly allowed His Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer and die on a cross as a debt payment for all of our sins. Upon understanding this, real truth became the key that unlocked the door to my Salvation.

Romans 5:8 – “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”(NIV)
John 1:12-13  – “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of  God, to those who believe in His name who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”(NKJV)
Ephesians 2:8-9 – “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.”(NIV)

At this point, my husband and I prayed and asked Jesus to come into our lives. We prayed for forgiveness for all the sinful thoughts, spoken words, and physical actions we had committed against Him. I specifically asked Jesus to show me His love, and to bring His healing and restoration into my heart and life.

I can’t even begin to express the peace that came over me; a peace I had never known before. It was the true peace of God!

In the days to come, I will share more with you about God’s restorative work in my life and truths from some of the materials we have written and present to churches and other organizations. Please contact me if you want information about the workshops we offer. There will be other bloggers that will join me in doing the same. With His help, we will guide you through His cycle of restoration.

In future posts, we at REST Ministries will provide many other articles and resources directly from God’s Word to you. We will also provide poems, devotionals, and other articles of encouragement. Please feel free to send us your comments, thoughts, questions, and prayer requests. We look forward to hearing from you!   

Be healed!  --- Judy

Welcome to REST Assured

The purpose of the REST Assured blog is to bring Biblical restoration, truth, encouragement, and support to women who are hurting; especially those who have experienced abuse. REST Ministries is one of the compassion ministries of Handi*Vangelism Ministries International. Our mission is to make God real to the hurting, abused and addicted. REST is an acronym for:

Restoration  Encouragement Support   < Thru >   Truth

This truth is available for all who have suffered trauma(s) and any type of abuse. There is hope; and it’s our desire to help you along the way on your journey to restoration.