Snakebite to the Soul ~ and the anti-venom

God’s Word has an answer for every problem you have…

The Apostle Paul knew about snakebite. First, the primitive tribal people of Malta thought he was a murderer and worthy of death by snakebite. Then when he shook the offending snake off and lived, they wanted to worship him. That’s the fickle nature of humanity. Paul had to explain to them that he was not a god, but that the God he served saved him from death by snakebite.

As Paul gathered an armful of sticks and was laying them on the fire, a poisonous snake, driven out by the heat, bit him on the hand. The people of the island saw it hanging from his hand and said to each other, “A murderer, no doubt! Though he escaped the sea, justice will not permit him to live.” But Paul shook off the snake into the fire and was unharmed. The people waited for him to swell up or suddenly drop dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw that he wasn’t harmed, they changed their minds and decided he was a god. ~ Acts 28: 2-6, New Living Translation [NLT]

Today, although it is possible that believers could be bitten by a reptilian snake and that God could save their lives, it’s much more likely that they will become the victims of poisoning of their soul. The enemy (the deceiver, Satan) can do things to poison our soul, but it’s just as likely that we are the ones poisoning our own souls with strife, unforgiveness, bitterness, malice, etc.

 Is it possible we’re choked with bitterness, we’re continually caught up in anger, persistent resentfulness, or we’re planning revenge? The godly antidote for this is forgiveness. Forgiveness is not an emotional issue. It’s a spiritual decision. We decide to be obedient to the Word of God and we forgive. Yes, we even forgive our enemies! We commit ourselves to the Lord and His Word no matter how we feel. We feed on Scripture as our prescribed medicine. We read and say the corresponding Scriptures aloud. Such as…

25 And whenever you stand praying, if you find that you carry something in your heart against another person, release him and forgive him so that your Father in heaven will also release you and forgive you of your faults. ~ The Passion Translation [TPT]

21 Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” 22 “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven! ~ New Living Translation [NLT]

It’s so interesting that the decision to forgive and the act of forgiveness is releasing to the forgiver. We are releasing the offending party from our consciousness. They have been taking up far too much space. We may have to do this act of releasing (i.e. forgiving) seventy times seven times. First, we have to realize that as long as we are consumed (bound) with hatred, anger, resentment, thoughts of revenge…the offending party is dominating our mind, will, and emotions…which spiritually in the Bible is our soul. We need to get free of the offending party. We need to perform an act of our will and forgive them. However, God didn’t make us stupid. We don’t have let them into our lives again. If we can’t avoid them because they are a member of our extended family, or we work with them…we don’t have to trust them, we can beware of them (be aware of their actions and schemes, having spiritual discernment with prayer. Pray for wisdom and protection). And avoid them as much as possible.

Are we murmurers and complainers? I have to confess that I had whining down to an art form. I’m sure my friends got tired of listening to me and thought, there she goes again. Over time, God dealt with me about this. I began to see that thankfulness (a posture and attitude of thanksgiving and gratitude) was the antidote to murmuring and complaining. If you come from a dysfunctional family like I do, you’ll understand how whining over the doling out of love and the short supply of positive reinforcement, continual disappointment, disillusionment, the embarrassment and shame due to ruined situations we thought should’ve been good, and much more has led to our whining. Through intimacy with God, and also with some good and sound teaching on the dangers of murmuring and the benefit of thanksgiving, I have largely walked out of habitual whining. First of all, whining, murmuring, and complaining are useless. They do no good and put other people off. That’s not a good return, not profitable. The Lord began to lead me back (and this was painful and still can be painful) to look at the people and early situations that disappointed, embarrassed, and shamed me. These were the ‘seeds’ of a habitual attitude on my part of whining and complaining. He showed me how (not just that) many of the people early in my life who hurt me were themselves broken people I should have compassion for. He began to show me little gems of joy, happiness, laughter in my early life that I could savor as memories..and give thanks for. Yes, give thanks. Many of the people in my early life were not saved. Even if they were, they didn’t have teaching on how to live a joyous and prosperous life. They were average Americans, from immigrant roots, trying to make a life and often blundering along the way. I now choose to remember the good while not denying the broken. When a painful, shaming memory comes to mind, I can chose to ‘quickly’ replace it with one of those nuggets of early happiness, fun, peace. When the enemy says, “Your family didn’t have it together much, did they?” I can now ‘quickly’ push him aside with memories of my grandmother’s good cooking and her love of feeding people. I can recall my dad, the high school teacher, reading bedtime stories to me and my brother. I can recall my mom baking her ‘Alaska Logs’ Christmas cookies on Christmas Eve. I can’t tell you how much this has freed me and made my present life a happier place. I’m not longer enshrining the pain.

Do we have deep sadness and are we in a state of mourning? Did we lose a spouse, a child, a parent, sibling, or friend far too young. As a widow, I know what sadness and mourning are. I’ve also lost two dear friends far too young. And, I’m also old enough to have lost both of my parents. Did you lose a house, a job, a business? As a maturing Christian, I know mourning is a process we have to go through to be healthy. Still, there is a time we must leave that deep state of mourning behind and get on with life. While, there is no cure for mourning, the very real feelings will surface from time to time,  they should not kill our joy. Our joy comes from the Lord.

Here are two Scriptures from the Word of the Lord to help us when we seem lost in grieving…

This one from Proverbs is one of my Scriptures. I claim it. It’s good to laugh, to have some fun, some lightness of spirit, even during mourning…maybe especially during mourning.

22 A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones. ~ Proverbs 17:22, New King James Version [NJKV]

This one from Isaiah is so deep on so many levels, it’s good to study and meditate on when in the grip of mourning that seems consuming.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; 2to proclaim the year of the Lord‘s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; 3 to grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. 4 They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations. ~ Isaiah 61: 1-4, English Standard Version [ESV]

So many times in her life, Detective Katerina “Kat” Andruko experienced sorrow, abandonment, and betrayal. She’s just starting to trust the city’s handsome forensic profiler, but she can’t shake that he could be a murder suspect.  COURTING DANGER

Good Thoughts – Good Memories ~ in 2020

2020 photo

What Are You Thinking On?

My mother had severe juvenile diabetes (type 1) in a time when the disease was a death sentence and insulin was a very new medical treatment. She grew up in the Ukrainian immigrant community where, at that time, there was tremendous fear of injections. My grandparents bravely decided that she should have insulin and she lived. Not only did she live, she married my father, had two children, and had a life. However, she was an exceedingly negative person all of her life. As a child, I didn’t understand her struggle, and I found her constant negativity painful. Despite my mother’s untreated chronic depression, she was a decent and ethical person who tried really hard to live her life and have a family. I understand that now, as an adult and how I think of her has changed a great deal. I now see her in a much more positive light without denying her faults.

My father was pragmatic, unemotional, bookish, and often withdrawn. But he could be very funny and for me that was some relief from the darkness of talking about every thing that was wrong or was about to go wrong.

I took after my dad in a lot of ways. I found refuge in books, and I’d make a joke out of whatever was upsetting and dysfunctional. That was when I was around other people. In private, I was more like my mom, focused excessively on the painful and the negative.

It wasn’t until my mid-forties that I first heard teaching on renewing of the mind and the importance of focusing on the lovely and the good. And by that time, I had  focused on the unlovely, the broken, and the sad so much, that I hardly had any good memories from my childhood, and even from my adult life. They’d all been overshadowed and buried by my rehashing of all the dark and negative moments.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. ~ Philippians 4:8, New American Standard Bible [NASB]

I married a man whose family was even more dysfunctional than mine…if that is even possible. My own immediate family and my extended family had PhDs in negativity. (See, I am still able to make a joke out of the gruesome.)

Well, one day there was great turmoil in my husband’s family. A lot of yelling in the kitchen and people running in and out of the house. So, I went into the living room and started surfing channels on the TV just to block the chaos out. It was a Sunday and I clicked onto this petite blonde lady standing behind a podium. Gloria Copeland. I thought she was preaching, but she is much more a teacher than a preacher. She was no-nonsense positive. Positive that God is a good God, is a healing God, is a loving God. She was intelligent, logical, and didn’t have big hair. That sealed it for me, and by the end of the program, I put my hands on the TV and got saved.

I am aware of true ‘Christian’ positive-thinking that first manifested itself in the 1950s, and that is good. But what I’m talking about is deeper.  It is a real and abiding belief that the power of the Word as written in the Bible is transformative and healing. It is the belief in the supernatural power of God’s living Word. I have to point out here that God’s Word in the Bible is not magical, not hokus-pokus, nor abracadabra. It is the belief that if the living Word gets deep-down within the heart and soul of the believer, it will start to heal those hidden, broken places.

Note: God’s Word in the Holy Bible has structure, context, and order. The Word of God can’t be ripped out of the Bible and thrown around as a quick affirmation for selfish purposes. Any phrase we wish to speak over our situation has to be understood in terms of what came before and after it in the chapter (and even in other chapters and in other books of the Bible). The Bible is a cohesive whole, pointing to and proclaiming Jesus as the Christ, the Anointed One, the Savior.

That said, if you want to get rid of darkness and negativity in your life…if you want to start making some good memories, a good place to start is the Philippians 4 Scripture noted above. Take it apart and on purpose (even if you have to force yourself) start to focus on what is:

  • True
  • Honorable
  • Right
  • Pure
  • Lovely
  • Of Good Repute
  • Having or Striving for Excellence
  • Worthy of Praise