What is Spiritual Warfare?

Oftentimes, spiritual warfare is seen as an attack from the outside.  Some larger outside force  attacks with the intent to cause personal harm taking the form of financial failure, marriage infidelity, natural disasters, rebellious children, economic depression, war, or dissension in churches.  And sometimes, this is spiritual warfare.

But sometimes it is not. Rather, these events are direct consequences of yours or others actions and desires.  The greatest battle for spiritual warfare is not the larger than life events; instead it is in the smaller thoughts and feelings stirring inside.

Thoughts.  Ask yourself these questions and answer them honestly to better evaluate your thoughts.

  • What do you think about? How much time do you spend thinking?
  • Do you replay conversations over and over in your head?
  • Do you fantasize about how to get even with someone?
  • Do you image achieving a great result to vindicate yourself?
  • Do you focus your thoughts on one area of our life (i.e. work) at the expense of another area of our life (i.e. family)?
  • Do you wish for someone else to experience the same pain as you?
  • Do you dream about winning the lottery?
  • Do you focus on your past failures wishing you done it differently?
  • Do you call yourself a failure, loser, or other self-depreciating statements?

Each one of these thoughts is actually part of your spiritual battle.  More appropriately named distraction.  These negative thoughts distract you from thoughts that are good, pure, just, and holy.  Eventually your focus moves off God and onto more worldly desires.  Some of these desires seem innocent such as winning the lottery and giving the money to family and charity.  But this simple fantasy sows seeds of dissatisfaction in your current financial state and seeds of envy for those who have such luxuries.

Feelings.  Ask yourself these questions and answer them honestly to better evaluate your feelings.

  • If it feels good, do you do it regardless of whether or not it violates your standards?
  • If it feels good to buy a new piece of clothing, do you do it even if you don’t need it?
  • If it feels good to flirt with someone, do you do it even if it jeopardizes your marriage?
  • If it feels good to have a drink or two or three, do you do it even if you risk becoming drunk?
  • If it feels good to mouth off to someone, do you do it even if you risk damaging the relationship?
  • If you don’t feel like reading the proposal, assignment or book, do you do it anyway?
  • If you don’t feel like parenting your children today, do you do it anyway?
  • If you don’t feel like dealing with your grief, do you do it anyway?

Feelings or emotions can drive you to do an action or not do an action in spite of your thoughts.  However, just like thoughts can lead you astray, so can feelings.  Intense emotions such as fear may propel you to do something to supress the uncomfortable feeling instead of confronting it. Or discouragement may cause your to do nothing at all. Feelings are not bad. God created them. But feelings which drive our behavior without a thought can be destructive.

Spiritual warfare is not always the big things happening around us; sometimes it is the little things happening inside of us.  Take an inventory of your thoughts and feelings to see if they need a cleansing.  After all, most historians will tell you that the greatest battle is the one you are fighting right now.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

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Sermon on Depression and Suicide

National Presbyterian ChurchIf you are struggling with depression or know of someone who is, please read this tender yet honest sermon from Chris Erdman about the death of his friend and Pastor Jamie Evans.  I knew Jamie as a child as his parents were and still are dear friends of my parents.  His father, Louis Evans Jr., now deceased, was also my pastor at National Presbyterian Church in Washington D.C., the one who taught me to have a love for God that is still strong within me.

I have nothing but fond memories of Jamie as he would often pick my brother and I up to attend youth functions at our church.  He was always so full of energy and life, so much fun to be around.  In fact, my first motorcycle ride, much to the dismay of my parents, was on the back of his bike.

This wonderfully written sermon is a testimony to Jamie’s life and struggles with ADHD, dyslexia and depression.  It reminds us of the importance of treating mental illness and not pretending everything is OK when it is not.  It is well worth your time to read.

http://chriserdman.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/God-and-Suicide-Luke-13.31-35.pdf

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Marriage Tip: Don’t Be A Spouse Pleaser

Yes, I know that this is strange advice and most likely contradicts the latest marriage book you read but it doesn’t work in the long run.  Sure you can get great results in your marriage by always trying to please your spouse short-term but sooner or later you run out of steam especially when the gesture is not reciprocated to your satisfaction level.  Pleasing your spouse ranks right up there with pleasing others which should not be the focus of your life.

What is wrong with pleasing your spouse or others?  The standard for pleasing others is constantly changing and therefore is not a foundation upon which you can stand firm.  However, going to the opposite point of view which is pleasing yourself is selfish and an equally troubling foundation for a marriage.  Pleasing others elevates their feelings, beliefs, and standards as more important as your own.  Pleasing yourself elevates your feelings, beliefs, and standards as more important than others.  Neither is good.

There is only one to please, one to praise, one to worship, one to follow, one to hope, and one to love.  God.  His standard is unchanging, unwavering, and full of grace all at once.  By setting your sights on pleasing God, you will naturally please others and yourself but not because one is elevated above the other.  Rather, you will be  more focused on His ways of grace, mercy, love, patience, kindness, order, and structure.  This is the best foundation for your marriage.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Don’t Lose Your Christianity in Your Divorce

Sadly being a Christian is no guarantee that your marriage will survive.  The statistics for Christians getting divorced are exactly the same as non-Christians with the same reasons for getting a divorce: adultery, addiction, abuse, pornography, financial problems, sexual problems, parenting problems, and many more.  Just because a person is a Christian does not mean that they are free from the same struggles that plague everyone else.  The Christian too is born with a sinful nature that must be actively worked against on a daily basis.  So while a Christian can obtain freedom in Christ Jesus, the road to repentance and restoration is the road less traveled because it requires humility, honesty, and a heart change.

There is no doubt at this point that your marriage will end in divorce usually for more than one reason.  But just because your marriage is ending, this does not give you permission to become un-Christ-like in your behavior.  If as a Christian you are taught to “Love your enemies”, than treating your soon to be ex-spouse in a loving manner should go without saying.  However, it does need to be said and reminded over and over as emotions are intense, anger is easily provoked, neither of you trusts the other, and forgiveness is in short supply.

So what does it meant to love someone who you are divorcing?  Let’s review the first part of this passage from 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”

Patience.  Being patient with your ex is extremely difficult during a divorce as most want the divorce to be over with as soon as possible.  However, depending on your State’s laws and how complicated your divorce is with stuff, kids, and money these issues can take months if not years to resolve.  Having the expectation that things will go smoothly and quickly in a divorce is unrealistic especially since things did not go smoothly in your marriage.  Change your expectations to more realistic ones and recognize that you will need to be even more patient with your ex than before.

Kind.  Showing kindness to your ex is very difficult especially when it is not reciprocated but we are not called to love just those who love us but those who don’t love us as well.  Your ex knows how to push all of your buttons at one time, being kind is not pushing their buttons even when you could or even when you are right.

Not Jealous.  Jealousy is an ugly beast as it is usually not about one person moving on to another relationship rather it is about the other person “getting a better deal”.  Even the best negotiators cannot divide everything equally and someone is likely to feel jaded by the divorce.  Don’t let your feelings of frustration blossom into jealousy because you did not get your fair share.  Instead recognize that in the end you are not the final Judge, God is.

Not Boastful.  Bragging about how much better off you are without your ex in your life is boastfulness.  Bragging about how you got this thing or won that battle is also boastfulness.  Neither should be done even with your friends or family who are on your side.  The truth is that neither party really won in the divorce, both of you were hurt in some way and both of you will have scars from the divorce for the rest of your life.

Not Proud.  Pride creeps up in the strangest of places.  For instance, talking about how much better you were able to handle everything, comparing your sins with your ex, or minimizing your responsibility is all prideful behavior.  Take responsibility for what was your contribution to the divorce, recognize that you needed support to even get the divorce and start viewing all sin as being equal.  This is reducing your prideful behavior.

Not Rude.  Not enough can be said about this category as most people would never even talk to a stranger the same way they talk to their ex.  Just try treating a friend or co-worker with the same lack of respect and level of rudeness as you do your ex and see how long your relationship lasts.  But for some reason because you have been hurt, you justify the rude behavior as being well deserved.  This is not Christ-like behavior.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Give the Gift of Prayer This Year

I don’t know about you, but every year I struggle with finding the perfect gift for my family and friends.  It is almost a mission to seek out the right gift balancing between the person’s needs, wants, and talents.  When the right gift is discovered it is pure joy to watch them open it and it is in moments like that when it is truly better to give then to receive.

This year as finances have become tighter, I find myself less interested in all of the bargains, deals, extra shopping hours and countless searches on the internet.  Rather it has become a time of self-reflection onto the meaning of Christmas rather than the gift giving of Christmas.  When I recall the best gifts I have received during the year, it is the rare moment when a friend tells me they have been praying for me without my prompting and without any knowledge of my present circumstances.  Those moments are precious to me and I can remember every one of them with great clarity far better than I can remember the gifts I received from Christmas even just last year.

So this year, I’m going to give to my family and friends the gift of prayer.  Not in a showy way or prideful manner that says “I’m more Christian than you”, not in a gossipy or need to know the details of their life manner, but rather a simple personal email with the below prayer.  This prayer was taken from the first chapter of Colossians and it was Paul’s prayer for his fellow believers.  While reading the passage, it occurred to me that many times I pray for circumstances rather than character, relief from stress rather than strength, and change rather than clarity.  But no more, here is my prayer.

May God bless this season of your life through (Col. 1:8-12):

  •   Thanksgiving for your faith
  •   Knowing His will for your life
  •   Gaining spiritual wisdom and understanding
  •   Living to honor and please Him
  •   Learning more knowledge of who God is
  •   Increasing in strength for endurance & patience
  •   Filling you with joy and thankfulness

Let me invite you to consider a similar prayer for your family and friends this year, perhaps in addition to or in replacement for a gift.  Just imagine for a moment the change that could occur during your family visits if you prayed this prayer for each family member before gathering together.  Maybe, just maybe, it might be the best Christmas yet.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Do You Need A Mistress?

Lovers under umbrella

Lovers under umbrella (Photo credit: Grey Rocker)

What?  How could you ask such a question?  Are you kidding me?  Don’t you know that mistresses are evil?  While this may be true in some circumstances, I rather prefer the title of “Mistress” and often use it in my communications.

The word originates from the French word “Maistresse” which is the feminine version of the word “Master”.  In addition, the “Mrs.” front of so many female names is actually short for “Mistress”.  The definition is of a woman who is in a position of authority, who in control over something or someone.  The term later came to mean a kept woman by a married man, but I rather prefer the original meaning and abbreviation.

So what does the original question have to do with the definition of the word “Mistress”?  Quite simply put everything.  I imagine that “Mistress” is exactly what God intended when He created Eve.  She was created to be a helpmate to Adam, to bear children, to work the land, and to rule over creation alongside her husband.  Proverbs 31 describes such a woman who helped her husband, worked outside of the home, raised kids, managed a household, and managed servants.  Talk about busy and confident!

In order to accomplish so much, a woman or shall I say mistress needs confidence with a strong sense of who she is and what she is able to do.  She knows her limitations and does not let them stop her from accomplishing her goals.  She is focused, directed, and strong.  Her actions give a hint as to her thoughts which would have to be truthful, positive, and encouraging in order to accomplish so much.

Do you want to be a mistress?  Too often however women place their value in what they look like instead of who they are.  But looks can be deceiving and unfortunately they can also change over time (even with plastic surgeries).  Negative self-talk about body image is pervasive in our culture at any age and while there is value in taking care of you physically, that should not be primary goal or focus of your time and energy.  In order to be a mistress, focus your attention instead on your character aspects rather than your physical aspects.

Do you want the mind of a mistress?  To develop the mind of a mistress, begin by listing all of the roles you play in life such as mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, Christian, and co-worker.  Then list your positive attributes for each role.  For instance, as a mother I am loving, generous, and kind.  Sort through all of the attributes and focus on three which really define your uniqueness.  Then write the three down and carry them with you as a reminder of who you are, replacing the negative self-talk with more positive self-talk.  However, all of the positive self-talk discussed will not help a mend a broken heart or relationship.  Rather than cover up these hurts with positive self-talk, it is far better to deal with them directly guided by a professional.

Do you want the security of a mistress?  There is no substitute for realizing who you are as a part of God’s creation, how your being is part of a larger plan and how you were created with a purpose.  A mistress is secure in her position of authority and in her role in life.  She does not waste time on being something that she was not designed to be rather she is focused on being the best she can be.  There is great security is striving to excel at what God created you to do.

So, I’ll ask again, do you need a mistress in your life?  Instead of looking for someone else to be the mistress, you can be that mistress.  You can adopt the mind of that mistress and you can claim the security of that mistress.  And the next time you add “Mrs.” to your name, you will be doing it with intention and not just out of tradition.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.