Idolatry

Idolatry

What is idolatry and how do we define it?

I believe idolatry is the act of putting something or someone before God in our thoughts or hearts by obsessing over or being consumed by it.  This idol can be your job, money, a sport or hobby, a relationship, or a physical problem; anything that we put before God.  

Exodus 20:3-6 “You shall have no other gods before Me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve (worship) them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting (punishing) the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. 

What are some of the things I have put before God?  In the past, I have put my children, my husband, tennis, and what others think of me before God.  In fact, I became consumed with them. But, why? I had an overdeveloped sense of responsibility; I was a people pleaser due to my fear of rejection and abandonment.  I was plagued with unhealthy relationships that caused me to put others needs above even my own self-care. I obsessed over trying to control things because I did not trust God.  I was fearful to put Him first; not being in control was a scary thought for me.

It was only after I learned to relinquish control to God (Step 1) and admit my life had become unmanageable, that I started learning what it looked like to trust God.  I learned to release individuals and situations into His capable hands, which freed me from carrying these burdens and feeling personally responsible for way too many things.  I learned that God wanted to be first in my life. Reading His word and meditating on scripture first thing in the morning became a daily habit for me. I look forward to that special time each morning with Him and Him alone.

I learned what co-dependency was and how I was so intertwined with others’ lives that I could not detach myself from them.  Their lives affected mine too much. I had to step back and allow them to make their own decisions, learn from their mistakes, and to experience consequences for their own actions.  I no longer had to jump in to fix, rescue, or save others. I learned I am not God; I cannot control another person. I grew up believing I had the power to make people happy or sad by my words and actions, that was a lie from the devil.  I never had that much control. Once I realized this, I surrendered to God and gave Him all the people and situations in my life that I had tried to control. Finally, for the first time in my life, I was responsible only for myself. 

Let me ask you what are some idols in your life?  

Why have you not released them into God’s capable hands?  

What are you afraid of?

I pray that this topic has given you awareness about some areas in your life that God wants you to change.

God bless you as you seek His wisdom and guidance.

IDOL’ATRY, n. L. idololatria. Gr. idol, and to worship or serve.

  1. The worship of idols, images, or anything made by hands, or which is not God.

Idolatry is of two kinds; the worship of images, statues, pictures, etc. made by hands; and the worship of the heavenly bodies, the sun, moon and stars, or of demons, angels, men and animals.

  1. Excessive attachment or veneration (great respect or reverence) for anything, or that which borders on adoration.

Definitions from Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828.

In His love and service,

—Toni

Self-Pity

Self-Pity

Self-Pity

Philippians 2:2-4, Galatians 5:22-23

God wants me to spend less time thinking of myself, and more time thinking of Him and others.

Self-pity is being consumed with thoughts about oneself, usually regarding some unfair situation or treatment by others.  Self-pity is feeling sorry for yourself and asking yourself questions like, “Why Me? Why is God not doing something about this situation that I am in?” 

I feel self-pity when I perceive an injustice, when I am feeling rejected or left out, when I compare myself to other women, or when I am hurt and disappointed by another’s actions.  Self-pity is a dark, slippery, deep hole. In this pit I feel alone, abandoned by others, and tormented.

When I focus on self and not God, I have a distorted view of truth.  I feel hopelessness because I am doing things in my own strength. I cannot see how my circumstances can change because I am powerless to change them. When I focus on self and not God, the enemy sees that I am vulnerable and attacks me with his fiery darts.  My head and eyes are cast down, I am heavy with no energy, and I feel all alone. When I am looking down, I cannot see God and be thankful for all the things He does for me on a daily basis. This is the enemy’s plan. He wants me to isolate myself from God and others. He wants me to focus on that one thing I don’t have, and he continues to lie to me until I start believing him.  Then, he has me exactly where he wants me. His purpose in this world is to steal, kill, and destroy me, my testimony, my joy, and my trust in God.  

I also know I am in self-pity mode when I compare myself to other women, being critical and judgmental towards them.  This happens when I am feeling insecure about myself and I am not walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). When I catch myself thinking like this and speaking harsh things, I immediately recognize I am in sin, confess this to God, and ask for forgiveness.  Instead of judging others, I need to look for the similarities between us and seek out the good in them. Who am I to judge another person? Only Jesus is Judge. I am commanded by God to love others.

How can we get out of the pit of despair and negative thoughts?

  • The Word of God replaces those negative thoughts and lies with His truth.  It is His truth that makes us free. (John 8:32)

  • By focusing on others.  We read in Philippians 2:2-4: “Fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let His mind be in you (The mind that was in Christ).”

In His love & service,

Toni

Secrets

Secrets

John 8:31-32 and Isaiah 61:1-3

“You’re only as sick as your secrets”, is a familiar recovery term and true statement.  Until we feel safe to share our secrets, we keep them locked up in a type of “Pandora’s Box,” where we keep all our deepest and darkest deeds/experiences hidden. We keep them hidden because we fear they will come out and expose the ugly truth.  For the post abortion woman, this secret is the truth that we terminated the life of our own child.  

God doesn’t want us operating in secrets because He knows how destructive isolation and secret keeping truly is.  I started keeping secrets when I was a young child. I hid the things I knew I was doing wrong from my parents. Until a few years ago, I held onto those secrets.  Finally, I told them about my dark past, including my abortion. It was not an easy conversation, but I knew I had to tell them for the sake of my healing and the founding of this ministry.  I did not want my parents to find out second hand about my past life and abortion. It needed to come from me. I felt a great sense of relief when I finally shared with my parents.

Why are secrets destructive?

First, they keep us isolated from God and others, which is exactly where the enemy wants us.  He wants us isolated and hiding so he can torment us repeatedly. Secrets keep us from the very people that can help us. 

Second, the dysfunction a secret causes is perpetuated and will continue as long as we nurture it, and protect it, as if it were a prized possession.  The secret needs to be exposed and brought into the light.

Third, we are fearful of exposure. Many of us have experienced abuse in our past and this secret is a way to keep us safe, or so we think. In reality, it is causing us to stay sick.  God gives us the courage to step out of isolation and secrets so we can be healed.

Fourth, secrets are destructive because they distort our view of reality, making us feel like we are all alone.  Secrets are usually combined with lies that we believe about ourselves, God, or others. God’s Word and the Holy Spirit help us to know the truth, so we can walk in it and move beyond the lies that have been holding us back from becoming the women God created us to be.  

God wants us free from bondage, which is what secrets do; they keep us in chains and in darkness.  But He has come to set the captives free! 

Isaiah 61:1-3 New King James Version (NKJV)

61 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

John 8:31-32 New King James Version (NKJV)

31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

In His love and service,

—Toni

Bread from Heaven

Bread from Heaven

I would rather go back to what is familiar even if it is bondage…

Exodus 16: 3-4a
And the children of Israel said to them, “Oh that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into the wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold I will rain bread from heaven for you….”

When the children of Israel’s trials were too hard for them to bear, they wanted to go back to what was familiar: slavery in Egypt.

How many of us can relate to wanting to go back to the dysfunctional relationships or sins of our past because there is comfort in knowing what to expect?

Change is hard because it’s unfamiliar; there is no safety or comfort in it.  But God doesn’t want us to stay in our dysfunction.  He wants us healed.  He wants us to trust Him completely with every area of our lives.

God provided the children of Israel with bread that literally dropped out of the sky, He called it, “Bread from Heaven.”  If God did that for them, don’t you think He can help you too? I think the answer is Yes!!!

Let me ask you, what are you still trying to control and refuse to release into God’s Hands?

God wants you to trust Him to lead, guide, and provide for you.  He has a beautiful plan for your life.  Honestly, at this point, what do you have to lose? If anything, you have much to gain.

Step out dear one, and let God take control; you will not regret this decision.

If you need prayer or encouragement, reach out and we will be happy to pray with you.

God Bless you!

Toni and the Team at myashestobeauty.com

Awareness, Acceptance, and Action

Awareness, Acceptance, and Action

Awareness, Acceptance, and Action:
The 3 A’s to true Healing and Hope.

There can be no change without AWARENESS.

 

AWARENESS is understanding and reflecting on a situation, person, or feeling with openness and curiosity (as defined by peopleleaders.com.au).

For me that day was when I started a new journal and called it, “Why are my relationships to those closest to me toxic?”

Kind of an interesting name for a journal, but I had awareness that something was terribly wrong with my relationship with several people closest to me.

I was the common denominator, what was I doing to encourage or enable this unhealthy behavior?

I believe God gives us awareness as we pray and ask Him to remove blindness and to show us our sins, unhealthy coping mechanisms, and our character defects.

The Holy Spirit, is referred to as the Spirit of Truth, who gives us wisdom and reveals truth. (John 16:13)

ACCEPTANCE is recognizing this is where I am right now in my life.

I recognized that my relationships with those closest to me were fear-driven; my fear of rejection and abandonment caused me to become a people pleaser.

My need for love and acceptance had plunged me deep into drinking and drugs in my early teen years, in order to find some kind of relief from the emptiness I felt.

I also was not able to communicate how I was feeling, which would cause me to enable all kinds of unhealthy and emotionally abusive treatment from others.

I had no voice and no boundaries and as a result of my destructive lifestyle, I hated myself more and more as the years went by.

The nail in the proverbial coffin for me was when I found myself with an unplanned pregnancy at 21. There was no way I could tell my parents; they would be so hurt and disappointed in me.

I was fearful. I panicked like so many of us do; I needed to take care of this quickly.

How many of you can relate to that statement? I want you to know you are in the right place. There is no judgment here just love, encouragement and the forgiveness that God offers everyone through faith in Jesus Christ.

Action; I realized I needed to get my life right with God.

I confessed my sins to God, I recognized and professed that Jesus is the Son of God, and He died on the cross for my sins and was buried and on the third day, rose from the dead, and is in Heaven seated at the Father’s right hand.
(Romans 10:9-10,13, 1 st Corinthians 15:3-4, Hebrews 10:12)

Once I had this relationship with Jesus, I was given the gift of the Holy Spirit, which is given to all of who believe.

My relationship with Jesus began on 2/6/1994, and I have never been the same. He has given a new purpose, a new hope, and a new song.

I have been made alive as one that was plucked out of the depths of despair and darkness and being tormented by the evil one, who wanted me to end my life, but God had a better more beautiful plan for my life that I never imagined I could have.

He has turned my ashes, my darkest moments, and has made something beautiful out of them for my good and His glory. (Isaiah 61:3)

It was my relationship with Jesus that gave me the courage to get the help I needed so that this dysfunction would stop with me and not be perpetuated to the next generation. I pray God gives you courage too.

 

In His love and service,

—Toni

God’s Grace

God’s Grace

God’s Grace can be defined as the unmerited or undeserving favor of God to those who are under condemnation.  (Enni, Paul.  Moody Handbook of Theology)

Verses Romans 3:19-28, Ephesians 1:7, 2:4-9

Grace was not something I witnessed growing up and I didn’t see it displayed at the church or school I attended as a young child.  Instead, I saw students hit with rulers when they disobeyed.  I began to believe that my faith was based on my good works:  if I was good, I would be loved and accepted.  But that was a lie. 

The Bible says, “For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) According to this and other verses, I could never be, “good enough” to be accepted into God’s family.  Instead, by having faith in Jesus Christ and believing his death on the cross was the payment for my sins, I would be welcomed into God’s family.  I didn’t have to strive to be perfect; all I needed to do was believe. 

Faith in Jesus and being a Christian is not about following rules.  It’s about having a relationship with God, acknowledging that Jesus is the Son of God, and that He died on the cross for our sins.  He paid our sin debt.  We are saved by grace through faith.  It is a gift of God, not of works.  

Grace is a gift from God, it cannot be earned. 

Grace is overlooking someone else’s faults and loving them where they are. 

Grace compels me to love others, to extend mercy, and to be kind to all people. 

Grace humbles me when I think about what Jesus did for me on the cross; a gift I can never repay. 

Have you truly received this gift of grace in your heart?

Do you extend grace to others?

 

In His love and service,

—Toni