Putting Away Anger

My husband and I will be married twelve years next month, and although we would never admit to “having it all together,” one thing that we have always fought to hold onto is our pursuit to work through our disagreements, however heated they may become, and never go to sleep angry with one another. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we try our best to be quick to forgive and ask for forgiveness. 

But since we are still on this side of eternity, we are continually being sanctified every day, and sometimes our flesh and pride gets in the way of that pursuit for peace and that was the case in a recent argument that he and I experienced. The two of us became so angry with one another that we continued to go in circles and rehash the argument. I found myself not thinking clearly and saying things that were hurtful towards my husband, things that I did not believe to be true. I would constantly interrupt my husband with what I wanted to say and never let him voice his concerns. In my frustration, I became so exhausted and confused that I didn’t have any energy to continue the conversation. Thankfully, before we drifted off to sleep, we both took some time to calm down and began to apologize for our anger and hurtful words. Knowing anger that is not restrained can often lead to sin, and in this case it did, we both repented to the Lord and to each other. We can find much instruction and wisdom in the Bible regarding the sin of unrestrained anger. James 1 has some beautiful instruction for us that is a wonderful reminder for our hearts, especially in marriage relationship:

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20, ESV).

Do you notice how our conversations with each other can be tied to the misuse of anger? This is especially true if we are not considering others before ourselves when we want to voice our opinion or concerns. The misuse of anger is called unrighteous anger because it is selfish and prideful in nature. Those who do not think of others when speaking are walking in pride, which can often lead to anger if met with resistance and tension. When anger is unrestrained and rooted in pride, we are not walking righteously before God. We are to be quick to listen before speaking and patient when engaging in a tense discussion. What wise advice for married couples! Anger is sure to occur when two people disagree, but we do not have to give into the temptation to allow that anger to fuel hurtful or hate-filled words towards the other person, sinning against them and more importantly, sinning against God who calls us to walk in righteousness. We need to prefer others above ourselves in our conversations with one another. May the Lord help us and sanctify us in our marriages and relationships with others.

Father, Your Word has so much to say on the sin of anger, yet we give into this temptation all the time when we are challenged in our selfishness. I repent for sinning against those who have been made in Your image when I did not prefer them above myself and allowed my words to cause pain. This is especially true in my marriage. I have allowed my pride to lead me into unrestrained anger by lashing out and interrupting in my disagreements. Help me to follow Your wisdom of being slow to speak and quick to listen so that anger does not cause me to walk in unrighteous behavior towards my husband and brothers and sisters in Christ. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for Your grace to empower me to walk more Christ-like. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

Tagged : / / / / / /

Shameless and Blameless

“Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1, HSCB).

For many years I was driven by perfectionism and the feeling that I had to work successfully or perform well in life to be loved by other people…and to be loved by God. On the outside, I looked like I had it all together- high honors throughout school, hyper-involvement in extracurricular activities, serving in any ministry I was asked to be involved in, star of the high school plays and musicals, head cheerleader, first chair clarinet player in the band, and the list goes on and on. But on the inside, I was so empty and constantly searching for true fulfillment. I knew God was there for me, but somehow I thought I could be perfect in my own strength on my walk with Him. 

Because we are human, we fail time and time again. We make a mess of things more often than not. Guilt and shame can often push us further away from God, instead of closer. For so long as a Christian, I was allowing self-condemnation to take root in my heart, and it weighed me down as I walked around carrying all of the baggage of my past sins and failures, thinking that I had to continue to strive to keep God’s forgiveness. Thankfully, today, I no longer live burdened by a works-based mentality. I find my identity in the finished work of Christ, and I want to encourage you, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, you should too. Grace is a gift that cannot be earned and you do not have to strive to keep it either.

In Romans 8:1, the Bible tells us that we do not have to carry condemnation in our lives when we’re truly in Christ. If you are a born-again believer, condemnation does not exist because the punishment for our failures and sins does not exist. 

“Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1, HSCB).

This means that when we embrace and believe what Jesus did for us on the cross, as He took the punishment for our sin that we deserved, are lives are now hidden in Christ. When we come to God with a heart full of repentance, resting in this glorious finished work of the cross, we can stand before the throne of God without any shame because Jesus bore all of it for us. The debt we owed has been paid in full- we are free from all bondage.

Jesus took all of your sin and your shame upon Himself and cast it as far as the east is from the west, friend. You no longer have to live with the weight of your failures. You can come boldly to the throne of grace, beloved, because it is grace that did the work for you. You can rest assured that God sees you as blameless and perfect because you are in Christ. I pray you see that you no longer walk around carrying the weight of your past and stop striving for perfection.

Remember, Jesus is blameless and perfect for you. If you struggle with condemnation, in your prayer time, take some time writing down the failures and mistakes that you have been holding onto and release them one by one to God. He wants you to walk in total freedom with Him.  

Tagged : / / / / / /

Come Out of Hiding

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, NKJV).

A few months ago, my eyes were opened to the stark reality that I was struggling with an area of my past…

… the pain of rejection.

This continues to be a battle for me, yet I realize that healing from the pain of rejection is a partnership and most definitely, a process. Thankfully, I am not alone in this fight.

One thing for sure is that the Lord fights for me and the Holy Spirit guides me into all truth, illuminating and highlighting lies that I was believing that are rooted in rejection.

Rejection had overwhelmed so much of me that I wasn’t being fully honest with people in my life. The lie I believed was that I would be rejected if my sin or wrong-doing was discovered. Therefore, I chose to either keep silent or tell a lie to keep my secret hidden so that I wouldn’t be a disappointment.

That lifestyle was keeping me from being fully transparent and honest with my husband and most importantly, with God. I believe this is why 1 John 1 reminds us of the importance of confessing our sin:

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, NKJV).

Hiding our sin causes us to hide from God, similar to Adam and Eve when the first sin entered the world. They felt ashamed, and shame made them feel rejected. Because of Jesus and the finished work of the cross, we are forever made righteous in our position as we stand before the Father and are forever forgiven, yet when we sin, it causes our fellowship with God to be hindered, and then we can very easily stray from Him. God’s love toward me never changes when I sin, yet I may still experience consequences and correction for my disobedience. Repentance, as a believer, is for our benefit to keep fellowship with our Father open and unhindered. Sin can often cause our hearts to grow callous, and we may not be as sensitive toward the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

The enemy wants you either in pride thinking you are better off doing life your own way or in isolation, bound in a pit of depression, unable to receive love or give out love, feeling like no one loves you or cares about you, especially God. But God’s love is unconditional and perfect, and nothing can stop His pursuit toward you. He wants us to be honest with Him so that we can see real transformation happen in our life, as He conforms us into the image of His Son.

Like I said above, positionally, in Christ, you stand before God forgiven and righteous, but experientially, sanctification is a process because our flesh is weak. Although as born-again believers, we continue to sin against God because we are constantly at war with our flesh in this life, the good news is that we have a great advocate, Jesus Christ, who is forever our righteousness. To be sure, our position in Him as declared righteous before God will never change, yet, we are still called to confess our sin, which purifies our conscious before the Lord.  Is there a particular sin that you have been struggling with? Pause and take some time to write it/them down and repent before the Lord, laying it all down at His feet. 1 John 1:9 says Jesus is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us of all unrighteousness. Let us come out of hiding and rejoice in the truth that Jesus is forever our righteousness despite our shortcomings!

Tagged : / / / / /

Envy That Rots the Bones

"A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones” Proverbs 14:30, KJV.

A few weeks ago, I was in prayer and was having a difficult time letting some thoughts go regarding the direction of my life. Can you relate? Sometimes, the enemy seems to flood your life with distractions in order to cloud your mind, bring confusion, and cause you to question God. Eventually, if left unchecked, we can begin to grow bitter toward others (and God).

For me, because of the way I was raised and also the environment I spent a majority of my life in (theater/acting/performance), I am used to looking at other people’s lives and measuring my life with theirs, whether to make myself feel better or give myself a goal to work toward.

Sadly, this is how most people make decisions in life. They say, “Well, that’s how so-and-so did it so that seems like a good plan.” Or “So-and-so is just so successful in life and seems to have everything they want. I will just follow what they did so I can have that kind of happiness and have those nice clothes, car, job, house, spouse, etc.” Ultimately, if you follow this way of living, you grow resentful toward others and envy starts to grow in your heart. Envy will then cause you to look for reasons why you deserve what someone else has.

Comparison and envy give birth to ungratefulness and bitterness not just toward other people, but most importantly, toward God. The moment you take that step into comparing your life with someone else’s is the moment you will find yourself in a deep, empty pit surrounded by pride.

The book of Proverbs is full of wisdom on how we are to live our life and avoid such pitfalls. Let’s take a look at one of these pitfalls, envy:

"A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones” (Proverbs 14:30, KJV). 

You can forget about living in peace or feeling complete or whole if you enter into the land of envy or covetousness. Comparison that leads to envy has been a trap of the enemy since creation. The motive behind Adam and Eve’s disobedience was comparison, which lead to covetousness, which lead to pride, which lead to selfishness, which lead to ungratefulness for what God had already provided (all rooted in fear).

Are you in fear?

Then you are not in faith, believing God. Anything that is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23).

When we compare ourselves with another, we are saying we would do a better job planning out our lives than our Creator, the sovereign Most High, acting like Satan who fell and caused Adam and Eve to fall.

Whoa, that is a dangerous place to be!

We are all guilty of comparing our lives to someone else’s life at one point or another. The only way out is to repent and renew your mind with the Word of God.

The word “sound” in Hebrew is marpe, which means healing, remedy, calmness, wholesome, and yielding. We can only have a sound mind when our eyes are on Jesus and we are habitually in His Word. Cling to Him, abide in Him, and you will remain full of His love, joy, and peace- the only things that will bring true fulfillment. You won’t want anything else than what He has for you; His promises for you will be more than enough. You will begin to trust God with all of your heart and lean on His understanding, not your own. When we do that, He will direct our paths and He will never lead us astray.

Take some time and right down ten things you are thankful for. Gratefulness will fill your heart with joy and leave no room for comparison.

Tagged : / / / / / / / / / / /

The Crucial Point Most Affairs Begin (And How to Avoid It)

Most little girls dream of growing up to be a mother, a wife, a teacher, a doctor, a marine biologist, a chef, an actress, a singer…

… but not an adulteress.

That’s not a title I thought I would ever carry, but at 19 years old, I found myself entangled in an affair with a married man.

He was nine years older than me and was cast to play my boyfriend in a musical at a local community theatre company. After rehearsal one night, he asked for my phone number because he was going costume hunting over the weekend and said he would call me to give me details if I wanted to tag along. We didn’t end up going together, but he did call me when I got back to my dorm room that Sunday night. He started to talk to me about his costume ideas for a few minutes, and then quickly said he didn’t actually call me to talk about costumes, but to just talk to me because he was lonely. There was an uncomfortable silence, and then I changed the subject quickly.

He ended the conversation by telling me that he couldn’t wait to see me at rehearsal the next day. The interaction during our scenes together started to become more believable as rehearsals went on, and he decided to add more physical affection during our time on-stage than what the script described.

The way he gazed into my eyes during our duets was so intense and passionate. He would sing his love songs to me and my heart would just melt. It was becoming very difficult for me to separate my acting abilities from my true feelings for him.

Choosing to Follow My Heart:

The show opened and closed, but our love affair continued on. During the day, I would skip class, so we could go on lunch dates. At night, he would drop his wife at choir practice at the symphony hall down the street from my dorm and then swing by and pick me up for our weekly date-night in the city. At restaurants, he would hold my hand from across the table and gaze into my eyes, telling me how much he loved me, how unhappy he was in his marriage and how his wife treated him so badly, but being with me made him forget about all of that. He promised we would be together in the end. I believed every single word, and at the same time felt ravaged inside. I had set it in my heart that I was going to rescue him from his mean and hateful wife.

Oh, what a fool I was!

Affairs Begin in the Heart

In the sermon on the mount, Jesus boldly addresses adultery:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Matthew 5: 27-28, NIV

The sin of adultery – like most other sins– isn’t just an outward act but begins in the heart.

There are many verses in the Bible regarding the significance of the heart of man, butI wanted to highlight these three because I believe they give us clarity on how the sin of adultery (and others) can creep into our lives and what we can do to prevent temptation from becoming sin:

1. We should never trust our heart

“The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 NKJV)

2. We are to protect our heart

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23, NIV).

3. We are to trust the Lord with our whole heart

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NASB).

Learning to Follow God:

I was “the other woman” for about a year, and when he was through with me, he moved onto someone else who played his girlfriend in another musical. It was all a blur of empty kisses and empty promises. I allowed the sin of adultery to drag me even further into the pit of self-destruction with other men while I was in college, creating more wounds and more soul-ties, but the story didn’t end there, praise God!

I eventually committed my life to Christ shortly after I graduated college, and the Lord delivered and healed me. It was a long process of learning how to walk the narrow road, but God’s grace continues to give me the strength to keep putting one foot in front of the other as I follow Him.

God Can Redeem Your Mess

I look back over this time in my life, now a very happily married woman of 10 years and a mother of two precious little boys (and one little prince or princess on the way!), and I can’t help but thank God for His mercy and grace. Instead of feeling shame and guilt from my past sins, I can now glean from these wrong choices to help strengthen my marriage and ensure that it doesn’t become susceptible to the sin of adultery.

I believe the Lord can take my mess and turn it into a message for others, both married couples and single people. I never want to give glory to my past sins, but only give glory to the One who can redeem us from our sins and give us the strength to escape every temptation. Most of all, I long to lead you to truth and obedience to Christ one step at a time in the right direction.

Tagged : / / / / / / / /

I Was That Girl

I was only 12 years old when I began giving myself away, piece by piece.  First it was pornography and cybersex; then it slowly moved toward physical sexual encounters. I continued this behavior for a whole decade of my life, until I was about 22.

For most of my youth, I never felt my dad loved me. He was an on-again-off-again alcoholic, and I know it was that missing piece in my life that made me long for genuine love and acceptance.  And as I grew up, I constantly pursued approval and attention from boys.

I dealt with rejection, depression, anxiety and a giant void in my heart I didn’t know how to fill.  I quickly became ensnared by alcohol abuse and did many dangerous things that only served to create glue-strong attachments to other people — things like an adulterous relationship with a married man and countless one-night stands with random men I followed home from the bar.

Filling the Void

In college, my love for theater and acting became my means of escaping my desire to be truly accepted. I tried to find fulfillment in the fantasy relationships I had with others on stage and attempted to make real off stage. But my pride caused me to fall in love with myself, trying to satisfy the emptiness that refused to be filled.

I knew John 3:16 by heart, but I didn’t fully understand it. I knew Jesus died so that I may be forgiven and restored back to the Father, but I just couldn’t shake the religious upbringing that taught me only about a vengeful, angry God who would smite me down if I were not perfect.

I still felt like I had to work for forgiveness and acceptance. And love. That performance-driven mentality affected all areas of my life. No matter how hard I tried to be perfect, I never felt good enough.

I reached a point where I stopped trying and just lived. I made plans to run away to Los Angeles. I would be an actress and prove to the world my worth, talent, beauty and charm. But, one Sunday morning, only a couple months after I graduated from college, my eyes were truly opened to my selfish and sinful existence.

I hadn’t been to church in years, but one morning I went with my mom and sister. During the worship service, I began to experience this deep conviction that I was living a reckless and selfish life and that I had been running away from God. It was my prodigal son moment…I came to my senses and the end of myself (Luke 15). Immediately, I knew I needed to repent and start running toward Him, back into the Father’s arms. In that moment, I realized where I truly belonged. Right there, with hands lifted in worship, and tears streaming down my face, I repented of my pride and rebellion; I told God that I didn’t want to live this life on my own anymore, and that I wanted to surrender to His plan.

Faith at a Crossroad

As I began to loosen my grip on my plans for my life one finger at a time, God began showing me that His plans were so much better than my own. I finally laid down my prideful desires to become an actress in Los Angeles and committed to truly follow Jesus, wherever that led, for the first time in my life.

But only a few short months after this change began in my heart, I received some traumatic news- someone murdered my father outside of a strip club. His lifestyle landed him in the wrong crowd, and it tragically cost him his life.

That’s when my faith reached a crossroad.

I could either believe Jesus was my solid rock, my firm foundation, or allow my father’s murder to completely shake me and destroy me. God gave me the strength to believe. At my father’s funeral, I read one of his favorite poems, “Footprints in the Sand,” and I told my family to trust in Jesus; He would be the One to carry us through this tragedy.

Total Healing

Since my father’s passing, I have not stopped running toward God. I find refuge in His presence, and I ask daily for help to walk in His will. I try my best to make it a priority to study His Word, and spend time in worship and prayer, but only by His grace am I able to do that.

God has completely healed me, delivered me, transformed me and overwhelmed me with His great love. He is the Father I always wanted — the One who will never leave me or reject me.

I don’t work for forgiveness anymore; now I fully receive His grace and forgiveness. I know I have been forgiven of so much, and I long to be so filled with God’s love that it pours out of me to everyone I meet. I want others to know they can never outrun His love. I know I sure tried that, and I learned that no one can ever be too far gone for God to fulfill His purpose in me.

I speak from experience when I say nothing in this world will ever be able to satisfy like God’s love does. Now I get it: Nothing can ever separate us from Him. Nothing. We don’t have to work for His love or prove ourselves worthy of it. We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).

I once struggled to find my identity in Christ, and I know I’m not the only one. But let me tell you, the greatest position you will ever stand in is being a child of God.

I once struggled to find my identity in Christ, and I know I’m not the only one. But let me tell you, the greatest position you will ever stand in is being a child of God.


“I Was That Girl” was first featured in Shattered Magazine (Fall 2015 issue, print edition).

Tagged : / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /

To the Christian Party Girl: An Open Letter

Dear precious daughter of the King,

You were made for more than the party and bar scene.

When I was younger, no one bothered to tell me that.

I thought what I was doing was harmless. I figured drinking alcohol was just a part of growing up. It wasn’t like I intended on getting drunk…

…I knew that was frowned upon in Christian circles.

But one day, I found myself isolated from my youth group/church friends and around a completely different group of people. Many of my new friends did not profess Jesus at their Lord and Savior, and if they had, they didn’t speak of Him much, unless they were swearing with His name. It bothered me a little bit, but they were really great people and I enjoyed being around them.

Then all of a sudden, I found myself dating someone who frequently drank alcohol and smoked pot.

As long as he doesn’t do it around me, I’m fine, I thought to myself.

But there came a night where he and a close friend of mine wanted me to experience the college party scene. I agreed to tag along, but I WOULD NOT allow myself to drink.

I walked down that path once before when I was fifteen, and I ended up in the backseats with high school seniors and a not-so-flattering nickname.

I surrendered that lifestyle to the Lord, I was going to try to live pure.

But that was my problem: I thought that I could abstain from sin in my own strength. That, my friend, is a dangerous mindset.

I gave in.

That night, I had a drink, and another, and another, and another. I had to be carried out of the house. It wasn’t long until I was no longer a virgin.

Alcohol and the opposite sex (and sometimes even the same sex) is a recipe for debauchery.

I eventually realized that I could not live purely in my own efforts, so I gave up and made my home in the pit of sin. I lived there for the next three years in utter bondage to my sin.

Alcohol became a way for me to escape reality for a few hours and have fun. I didn’t have any stress or worries. I wasn’t introverted or shy like usual. I felt attractive and funny. Men gave me attention and even took me home with them sometimes. The regret always hit me like a ton of bricks the next morning, but like a dog returning to its vomit (Proverb 26:11), I foolishly entangled myself in the party scene time and time again. If I didn’t wake up in another man’s bed, I would often wonder how I got home…did I drive myself home last night?

Foolish. Absolutely foolish!

A part from God’s grace, the help of the Holy Spirit, and God’s Word, you cannot walk in purity.

It breaks my heart, beloved, to see you walk down this slippery path that only leads to destruction.

I speak from experience.

That lifestyle isn’t harmless; it costs you fellowship with your Heavenly Father.

“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not so short
That it cannot save;
Nor is His ear so dull
That it cannot hear.
But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God,
And your sins have hidden His [a]face from you so that He does not hear.”

Isaiah 59:1-2, NASB

It can also cost you your life if you are not careful.

If you find yourself embracing the party scene and flirting with drunkenness, repent, dear one, repent!

Repentance is not simply saying that you are sorry for your transgressions, it is completely turning away from that way of life and seeing the Lord to change your ways to look more like Christ, by the renewing of your mind through His Word. When you go back to the same sins time and time again, you hinder the deep work God wants to do in your heart. You are holding onto a lifestyle that you think brings you joy and true pleasure.

You cannot live with one foot in the world, which is sinking sand, and the other on the solid foundation of the Rock, Jesus Christ.

Are you ignoring the conviction that the Holy Spirit is bringing? If you can’t sense conviction of your sin, you need to do some serious soul searching and find out why.

Devote some time in prayer and reading His Word and find out why you long for illegitimate pleasures of this world instead of His presence and fellowship.

Any time I see a young girl, such as yourself, caught up in the party scene, I am utterly sick to my stomach. If there was a way to jump through that Instagram pic that you just uploaded and take you home with me, I would do it in a heartbeat!

Instead, I lay awake in bed, while you are sipping on that dangerous cocktail, and pray that you would wake up from the slumber of lies that enemy has whispered in your ear that you can eat, drink, and be merry with no consequences.  “Live it up…live the life,” he says!

I pray for your soul, that you would find pleasure and joy in God’s presence above all else.

“You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

(Psalm 16:11 NKJV)

You are so beautiful to God, my darling. You are His daughter and He longs for you to find that path of true life and walk on it.

Sincerely,

Your sister in Christ

Tagged : / / / / / / / / /