Solving Cinderella’s Problem

I have often identified with Cinderella. She gets just one brief night of fantasy at The Royal Ball where she falls in love with the Handsome Prince, and he likewise falls in love with her.

But then she must return to her life of Poverty and Rejection.

The Resolution of version of here Story depends upon the Handsome Prince.

Fortunately for Cinderella, the Handsome Prince feels her loss deeply. He cannot live without her, determines to find her no matter the cost, and makes her his wife.

Happily ever after.

  • But what if the Problem is not her life of Poverty and Rejection?
  • What if the Problem is the false identity she has accepted?
  • What if the Problem is how she sees herself?
  • As a woman with no value?

What Can Cinderella Do About Her Own Problem?

Rather than wait for the Prince to rescue her, she would be a Wise Woman to discover her True Identity.

Which – by the way – would make it a lot easier for the Handsome Prince to find her because she would be in plain sight rather than hiding – or being hidden by the lies that have surrounded her. A Double Win!!

When Things Don’t Go as Expected

I think we’d all agree that this quarantine is lasting longer than expected. People are getting more and more anxious. Frustrated. Impatient. How are you doing today?

Peter said, “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”

However, when resolution is delayed or not going the way you want it to go, your emotions will prompt you to take back your burdens & your fears.

Know why that’s a really bad idea?

Because YOUR solutions are always filtered through your SHAME!

Whereas His plans for you are so much greater than you can imagine.

Yes, even in an extended quarantine!

Instead of your former shame
    you will receive a double portion,
& instead of your past humiliation
    you will rejoice in your inheritance.
Because He fully intends to give you
a double portion of His goodness right where you are,
    & everlasting joy really can be yours.

ISAIAH 61:7
[Dr. Debi’s “amplified” version]

Yes, it is time we lay all of our burdens & our pain at Jesus’ feet.
Leave everything that concerns you in His hands. Let go.
He has promised you & He will do it!

Because God always fulfills His promises.

God is not human.
He does not lie or
change His mind.
Does He speak & then not act?
     Does He promise & not fulfill?

NUMBERS 23:19

Yes.
Hope deferred
makes the heart sick.
But a longing fulfilled
is a tree of life!

PROVERBS 12:13

The Wounded Warrior

wounded warrior

God created men to be Warriors. Amazing. Wonderful. And they are. But so many of our men don’t feel at all like those words describe who they are, especially in the eyes of the women they love. And that makes me sad. I hope it makes you sad, too.

I’ve studied the Psychology of Men at both the graduate and the post-doctoral levels, taught at two Christian universities, and written books on this popular subject. I know that:

The Wounded Warrior

As a normal part of growing up, most men experience relational trauma that women don’t. For example, they’re taught to disconnect from their mothers. Shamed into disconnecting. Usually by 3 years of age. As were their fathers. Which means their fathers are also disconnected. Leaving him with no one to help him understand himself.

Male Relational Dread

Not having learned to deal with emotions in relationship when he was a boy, a man often continues to feel intensely afraid of conflict, as well as connection. Bergman (1995) described this emotional experience as male relational dread.

His fear is characterized by a sense of inevitable, never-ending disaster and an expectation of immense and irreparable damage.

Even though he may desperately want connection, a man may interfere with activation of his own attachment system by “withdrawing, striking out, tuning out, changing the subject, joking, being nice, falling silent” (p. 83).

As Bergman has observed in his workshops, men may have sufficient experiential evidence that disconnection is the better, safer, way to go.

“The men—sometimes with good reason—did not trust the women to let go of their images of men and to accept male vulnerability” (p. 83).

[And we haven’t mentioned the reality of abuse. It’s tough enough when it comes from another man. I can only imagine what it’s like for those who have been abused by women.]

So what can be done?

The short answer is that men need empathy. The more difficult task, however, is to get the women in their lives to understand and empathize with them without adding further shame, manipulation, and trauma.

The sadest part of that – most women don’t even recognize what they are doing to the man they expect to protect, love, and cherish them.

Always remember, if a man is defensively withdrawn or angry, he probably has a very good reason.

If society is confused about boys and men, then so may boys and men be confused about themselves. The goal is not to become feminine in the process of increased self-understanding, but to find the freedom to be more fully themselves.

There aren’t many safe places in a man’s world, but men can learn to acknowledge their need for a safe place. Negotiating the world of masculinity is a dangerous endeavor, yet the rewards of doing so successfully are many.

Let’s learn to be wholeheartedly
on the side of the man we love!

Good Friday

it is finished

It is finished. Looks as though the enemy has won the battle against Jesus and everything He stood for. But nothing could be further from the Truth. And that’s what makes this Friday the Good one.

The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life – only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father. (John 10:17-18)

Jesus is crucified, dead, and buried.
But, of course, there’s more to Our Father’s Love Story than meets the eye.

His Plan is working.
By paying for our sins,
Jesus is buying us back!

He declares, “It is finished.” (John 19:30)

Done.
We are redeemed!
Free from the bondage of sin and death.

And so much more …

Disturbing News

betrayed

Picking up where we left off Jesus has supper with His disciples and shares disturbing news. One who’s eating with them will betray Him. Jesus will die, and they’re all going to scatter. They can hardly believe their ears. But it’s true.

He prays while they wait.
He’s betrayed and arrested in the Garden.
An interesting place for that to happen, yes?

His trial is mockery, and He is beaten severely.

That same crowd – the one that hailed Him into Jerusalem just a few days before – chooses a criminal to be released for Passover. When asked what to do with Jesus, the people shout,

Crucify Him! … Crucify Him!
(Matthew 27:22-23)

It looks like the enemy is winning.
The Son of God’s beaten. Literally.

To be continued …

Doing Good

Doing Good

Yesterday, I wrote about our Defensive strategy. Today let’s review our Powerful First Line of Offense against the attack of the enemy of our souls. It’s not what we’d think of first, is it?

Jesus begins His ministry. He goes “around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil because God was with him” (Acts 10:38b). Soon He’s very popular. Which doesn’t sit at all well with the religious leaders. It’s time for the Passover, and they’re getting really worried about Trouble in River City. Not that Jesus is opening a pool hall, of course.

He’s just messing with their teachings.

He says dangerous stuff like,
“You have heard that it was said .… But I tell you that ….” (Matthew 5:27-28).

Despite what the people are saying – or maybe because of what the people are saying – the religious leaders don’t like Him at all. And they try to trap Him – more than once.

Can you imagine?

Trying to catch the Son of God doing something wrong? How crazy is that? Of course, they don’t have a clue that He is Who He is. They think He’s just some troublemaker dude from Nazareth. Boy, are they wrong!

At the peak of His popularity, Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey. His disciples are more than pumped about His Kingdom. The people spread their coats on the road ahead of Him. Some are waving palm branches …

The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (Matthew 21:9)

Well, you can just imagine how well that goes over
with the religious leaders. Their plot thickens.

It is Written

it is written

Virus. Quarantine. Economic uncertainty. We’re all involved in battle right now. What’s your first line of defense?

Picking up where we left off yesterday … Jesus then meets up with John and gets Himself baptized. The Father loves the whole scene and announces how pleased He is with His Son. Then Jesus heads into the desert for 40 days. And guess-who shows up.

That old fallen angel – the one known as the adversary – evidently has no idea Who he is trying to mess with out there. So he pulls a few tricks out of his infamous bag of lies.

Jesus doesn’t fall for any of them.
Instead, He quotes Scripture.

And the enemy takes off.
He can’t stand against the Truth.

Never has. Never will. Remember that.

Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan!
For it is written: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.
Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
(Matthew 4:8-10)

For God So Loved the World …

John 3:16

The Word became flesh and blood,
    and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
    the one-of-a-kind glory,
    like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
    true from start to finish. John 1:14, MSG

We’re not the only ones to go through troubles. The World was messed up when Jesus arrived, too. But that didn’t stop Him from loving people.

Despite what we know from Scripture and have seen in the movies about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, it’s difficult to fully know what life was like for Him.

But I imagine He was a normal, happy child who grew into a confident adult. I doubt He ever rebelled against Joseph and Mary.

Can you imagine living next door to their family?

You can almost hear the back-and-forth rasp of handsaws cutting fragrant wood and the pounding of His hammer as He creates another Masterpiece with His calloused hands.


The laughter of children playing nearby.
The sweet aroma of baking bread.
His mother’s voice calling Him for dinner.


Yet no one notices anything particularly amazing in Him.

Of course, there was that old rumor about His conception.
His parents weren’t married then, only engaged.

But like any gossip, it had probably died down long before He’d become a man. An ordinary man.

Then one day, He goes to a Wedding.

And the host of the feast runs out of wine … long before the party is over. His mom, who knows the Truth about Him, sets Him up. It seems He’s not especially happy about that, but He steps in and saves the day nonetheless.

Miracle #1

Water turns into wine.
Not just any wine.
It’s like the best wine ever.

Instantly.
No planting the vineyard.
No waiting for it to bear fruit.
No working the winepress.
No aging in wooden barrels.
No wineskins.

No waiting.
No drama.
Simply the best wine ever.
Instantly.

Nothing is impossible with God. Remember that.

For Unto Us a Child is Born

You know, I don’t believe The Father uses people. Instead He writes Himself into their Love Story. Everything had changed for Joseph and Mary. And The Father never forgot that they were made of dust. In fact, He chose to become dust Himself.

We can only imagine how This Beautiful Love Story unfolded.

 

The Nativity Story movie is a new tradition for me. It’s about a spiteful, fearful king.
And three other kings who honored The Lord with their presence and their presents.

It’s about Mary and her family and a community that didn’t understand. And it’s about a man named Joseph. A man of honor. Who accepted Jesus as his son.

  • his disappointment and shame
    when everyone knows that Mary is with child
  • his dedication to his wife and determination
    to protect and provide for her
  • his overwhelming joy upon seeing the Savior
    born and holding Him in his own hands

I cry all the way through this movie.
Because it’s about the Birth of Our Lord Jesus.
And Delightful Surprises in the Beauty of Sacrificial Love.

And because it’s exactly the way
I imagine that it all happened.

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3 Reasons You Are Here

You are here - at this time & place - for a reason.

3 Reasons You Are HereLife can be confusing. Things don’t always turn out like we expected. Problems defy solving. We drift from one thing to another. Looking for meaning. So why are you here? As I see it, the answers are simple. All you need is to realize three reasons you are here. On this earth. At this time in history. Although I believe the reasons are the same for all of us, how we play them out is a matter of our individual stories.

1. You are here to love.

God is love. You are created in His image. That means loving is the most natural thing we do. Because it’s who we are. 1 John 4:8, Genesis 1:26-27

2. You are here to be loved.

Love is an exchange. Not an obligatory form of reciprocity. But something that happens naturally. Because you are lovable. It’s how you are created. Genesis 2:18-25, John 13:34-35, Romans 12:10

3. You are here to take dominion over something.

Life isn’t just one big love fest. But love is the at the core of everything else. Including the particular way you are created to make this world a better place. And, yes, that’s natural, too. To take back what was stolen. To restore. To renew. To rejoice. Genesis 1:28, Ephesians 2:10

Natural? Yes, you are created for these reasons.

Your desire to love, to be loved, and to make a difference is in your DNA. That means it’s “natural” for you.

You also have an adversary. Every hero does.

He’s there to mess things up. To drag your thinking sideways. He tweaks things to make you think …

  • You have to be strategic (manipulative) with your love.
  • That you are unlovable. Or that love is owed to you.
  • And he often convinces you that taking dominion comes first. But it doesn’t. It rises naturally from loving and being loved.

QUESTION: If you were to make a list of reasons you are here, what would be at the top of your list?