Abuse, Bible Studies

Are You a Slave of Fear?

"...We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace." Jeremiah 30:5


"Fear" is spoken of over 500 times in the Bible. So, to me, that signifies it's a topic worth noting.

I believe the 1980's science fiction film, "Bladerunner" makes a powerful statement on fear.

There are various discussions about the story and the complexity of the Roy Batty character in particular. He's often viewed as the villain. But, if we dig deeper, perhaps there's more to the story.

Living Water in the Desert of Abuse

Hagar couldn't bear to watch - or listen.

She tucked her son beneath the scant shade of a spiny bush, staggered about 100 yards away, and tried to plug her ears against his cries for help. But through the flesh and bone of her fingers, she could still hear him.

"Mama! Water! Please, Mama!" he begged, his voice cracking with adolescence and thirst.

Although the heat was oppressive, Hagar shivered with horror. Her baby was dying and she was helpless against the relentless sun and parched winds.

Soon she, too, would die from thirst. More painful than the thought of her own demise was the pleading voice of her son asking for the basic necessity of life that she could not give him -- water.

Workshop: Acceptance the Pathway to PeacePremium Content

Karla Downling is an award-winning best-selling author, speaker, Bible study teacher, licensed marriage and family therapist and founder of Change My Relationship. Karla’s passion is to see individuals, marriages, and families set free from the chains of dysfunction, scriptural misunderstanding, and emotional pain personally and relationally. Her messages provide practical solutions based on biblical truths that bring balance and clarity to life and relationship issues. She also desires to equip ministry leaders and lay counselors to reach out more effectively to those that are struggling with difficult relationships. Karla’s website is http://ChangeMyRelationship.com.

karladowning: Ok. Let's start off with a definition of acceptance. It is "taking or receiving what is offered, giving approval, believing, or accepting. It is putting out your open hand and allowing the thing or circumstance or person to be put into it and then closing your hand and pulling it toward you. The meaning of "accept" is "to receive as adequate; to receive with approval or favor; to take or receive."

The opposite of acceptance is refusal or disapproval. It is like putting out your hand and pushing it away. think about your life and the things you don't want; don't like; struggle with accepting. Are you opening your hand to receive them or pushing them away? I know for myself that I pushed them away for years and struggled with refusing to accept them. It took lots of energy.

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Learning and Coping in Recovery

There's a theory out there which asserts we have only two jobs in life:

    1) to learn
    2) to cope.

Spiritually, if we expound on this principle, we can see Divine Intervention at work, should we choose to embrace it.

The First Job: To Learn:

Scripture addresses our human need to learn. Proverbs 1:7 and Proverbs 4:7, for instance, are just a couple of verses which tout the important of wisdom.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.

And, again, we are in dire need of this wisdom, as Paul reminds us of our vulnerable human condition...

Is Your Finger on the Feelings Button?

Years ago, there was a popular song, "Feelings."

As the lyrics go, "feelings, nothing more than feelings...whoa...whoa...whoa..."
(It's bad Karaoke, let me tell ya).

Anyway, I've been giving some thought to the feelings factor. I've seen how it has done some damage in my own life. Temper tantrums, crying jags, meltdowns of epic proportion- whatever you want to call them - feelings, let's be real, rarely lead us to make great decisions which improve our lives.

But wreck our lives? Well, that's a different story.

For those of us in recovery, for those of us coming from abuse, the feelings thing is a tricky course to navigate. In my case, because feelings weren't safe in my home, growing up, I learned to suppress, stuff, until...boom! Explosion happened. Not a good coping mechanism.

And so, a girl of extremes, when life moved on, I was determined to fully express my feelings whenever I had them. Oh yeah. This was fun and games. No one was going to control me!

Hence, I was OUT of control.

The cliché in life is true: it's about balance and moderation. And that was NOT something I was good at. I was not good at dealing, in a healthy with my emotions.

Scripture tells us, like it or not, we all need to do this:

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23

Years after the immediate damage of both my eating disorders and my childhood abuse, God has patiently- and gradually- led me into honestly looking at my heart, the factory producing all of these blessed feelings in the first place.

What's in a name?

But now thus says the LORD that created you..."Fear not: for I have redeemed you, I have called you by your name; you are mine." Isaiah 43:1

What's in a name?

We cannot get around that question. From the start, we are named. As life continues, we bestow more names to children, pets, toys, places, projects, et cetera.

This naming business is far from insignificant. Consequently, it can often subject to negative, extremely personal and abusive behavior. It can challenge the recovery from our individual hurts, histories and obstacles.

I've personally encountered this toxicity. I have had people call me derogatory names; profanity and misogyny have often been at the center of those names.

It's startling, infuriating and potentially harmful to my health and recovery. Often reeling from these encounters, my only recourse is to

Obtaining the Warrior SpiritPremium Content

"...and that's when I became a warrior!"

I recently caught this statement trending on social media. It's no surprise why it has caught on. With so much suffering in the world, taking on a fighting perspective can be empowering.

No matter what we've experienced in our lives, God has placed within each of us a warrior spirit. He knows full well of our challenges, setbacks, relapses, pain and loss. He also knows of our mighty purpose as well.

And it is precisely that reason why the warrior emerges. I'm sure you've heard the phrase, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." It's that kind of thing which attaches itself to our every breath. It's that thing which does not give up, no matter how many times we feel we cannot go on.

Whatever you have survived in your life - loss, trauma, addiction, abuse, extraordinary pain- God wants you to do something with it, in spite of it.

Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction.
Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.
Proverbs 31:8-9

He wants to turn those ashes into beauty (Isaiah 61:1-3).

But He doesn't stop there. He doesn't just want you to fight for fighting's sake. He wants to give you the Victory as well!

But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:57

God wants you to experience overcoming that enemy. He didn't say it would be easy, instant or painless. But He has assured us that Victory is ours.

For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 1 John 5:4

And that is often what awakens the warrior within us, often, without our own awareness. Some call it "instinct." But again, it's "that thing" which keeps going when everything and everyone else tells us to give up. It's God given.

And because it is God given,

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Unbreakable Grace

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. Romans 6:14


For years, I've had a small Jesus statue, depicting thanksgiving to God for the loaves and fishes. This statue has traveled from Portland, Oregon to Dallas, Texas to our current locale of Minnesota. And, over the years and states, it has, unfortunately been broken at least a couple of times. His small hand, holding a broken loaf of bread, has repeatedly been glued back on.

It's irritating, yet also meditative, as it got me thinking about the whole grace thing.

Memories: Ouch!Premium Content

Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation;
and uphold me with thy free spirit.
Psalm 51:12


Autumn floods me with childhood memories of locusts inhabiting our farm and caterpillars on twigs, kept on mason jars, just waiting to become monarch butterflies.

And, with that flooding, often comes the tinged bittersweet feelings that accompany a childhood innocence of long ago.

I recently caught a funny post on the internet. It read: "Memories: Ouch!"

They say humor is humor because it is unflinching truth. And that certainly was the case with this post.

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How is Your Spiritual Heart Health?Premium Content

God has been teaching me His way concerning heart health. The condition of my physical heart mirrored the state of my spiritual heart. Through a physical and spiritual heart catheterization He exposed blockages, which left untreated, would be my certain physical and spiritual demise. He exposed areas of my heart that were still wounded and thus divided. I suspect I am not alone in this process.

According to the parable of the sower, Jesus teaches that It is from our hearts that we gain all spiritual guidance and understanding.

"But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop" Luke 8:15 NIV.

"All valid spiritual direction comes to us through our heart-the seat of true knowing and our "eyes and ears" in the spirit. If we discern the "will of God" it is through our heart. Knowing our true identity and destiny is achieved through our hearts as well." "Living from the Heart Jesus Gave You", pg.67, published by Shepherd's House, Inc. revised version 2000.

As a direct result of these remaining heart blockages, I was no longer able to fully hear, retain, or re-produce a good crop from the word that had been so wonderfully planted in my heart for decades. The ability to correctly discern, know and understand Papa's will or my true identity and destiny as Papa's beloved son were being robbed from me. In this state, my capacity for joy was weakened. Of course my loved ones were profoundly affected by my heart disease as well (which of course there has been profound mercy and the amazing grace of forgiveness).

When your heart has blockages, your core identity becomes at best skewed and can even lose touch with reality. You are less able to live from the new heart Jesus gave you as your birthright. You even can end up not behaving or acting like who you truly are-an adopted child of God. Probably the most devastating part of this condition is being blocked from enjoying Christ in your heart. He-of course, will never leave us or forsake us-but our intimacy with Him can be diminished.

I am being so transparent about this in hopes to impart the courage for you to ask Papa to search your heart and know truth in your inner most parts, as King David did. This is why he was "called a man after God's own heart."

The single goal of heart healing is to

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