Author Archives: hopestrait

About hopestrait

I'm a wife, a mother and a servant of the most High God.

The Grand Funk

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The Grand Funk

  THE GRAND FUNK
Have you ever felt it? Have you ever been in a dark place where any movement on your part will only bury you alive? Have you ever felt so naked, so stripped down, unveiled, exposed, unmasked, vulnerable, defenseless … have you ever felt raw? There’s hope.
When a person is in that state they are unable to articulate their pain. They become withdrawn and reclusive. Suddenly, they have nothing to say, no opinion to contribute. Nothing is worth the effort of stringing words together to form a thought. Everything they say and do comes from a place of emptiness, an emptiness that just can’t be filled by another human being, no matter how much they love you. You might not want to die, but the thought of continuing in life is exhausting. There’s Hope.
People seem to need a name for this “condition”. Some call it Bi-polar or depression. Others call it Seasonal Affective Disorder and some just refer to it as a lack of faith.
Against every bit of judgment, good or bad, I am going to expose myself. At the risk of worrying my family and friends, let me state for the record that I am not suicidal so don’t rush over or call; don’t worry and don’t feel guilty if we haven’t touched base in some time. 
Several times a year I go through what I call a grand funk. It is a state that I seem to slip into ever so slowly that I don’t even recognize what is happening until I am full on engulfed by it. Most often, by then, there is nothing anyone can do to help me for the most part because they don’t know what is going on. I have become quite adept at hiding the ugly little truth. For certain, there is that part of me that wants people to think I’ve always got it all together and I can handle everything that life throws at me – even though I’m sure no one actually thinks that. No, this “thing” takes hold of me. It wraps itself around me and squeezes until there is almost nothing left of me. My silence gives it power. I become fearful that people might misunderstand if I tell them what is going on. 
I’ve also become accomplished at changing masks, wearing whatever mask I believe needs to be worn at any particular moment. I’ve been afraid to be the real me so much so that there are times I’m not even sure where I begin and the mask ends. It sounds rather pathetic to say but when I’m in this state, I haven’t the foggiest idea who I am. I believe however that it is the very action of veiling my truth that becomes a generating station of denial that only serves to sink me deeper and deeper into the funk. Who am I trying to impress?
So, you might be wondering, why I am sharing this? Or perhaps you’re thinking you should call 9-1-1. Why am I exposing my pain for all to see? Why am I doing the very thing that I have kept private and hidden from so many, so well, and for so long? It hurts too much to bury it. I feel like I’m being pulled into it deeper. Keeping it in doesn’t seem to be serving me any purpose. The funk must have a function. I believe that everything happens for a reason. Do I actually benefit from the state of raw? Is there any good that can possibly come out of an experience where someone is so exposed that every nerve throbs and the thoughts they think hurt? I think there is.
I have heard some well-meaning people tell me that I should pray more or that I lack faith and that is why this happens to me. But they are wrong. Maybe this doesn’t happen to me but happens for me; maybe it happens to me for others. There is only one certainty when I am in the funk: by God’s grace and mercy, I will prevail. I will be victorious. Some would argue, what kind of God would allow you thrash about in quicksand for an indeterminate period of time? The fact is that only a loving God would allow it because there is something that needs to be learned and shared. Experience tells me that no matter how long the funk lasts He will rescue me and I will always come out better than when I went in. I have learned to ride the wave and hang on to Him for my very life. There are absolutely times that I FEEL I’ll not make it this time, but I KNOW that I will because He has NEVER left me or forsaken me … never. He is the Hope I hang on to.

Each time I go through this, I become a stronger person, but more importantly, I become a more compassionate person. I know what people are going through and I can usually see it coming before they become fully overtaken by it. My journey has taught me that I am able to stand along another and say, “I know Someone who can help.” Faith is believing in what you cannot see because you know it will be, even though it doesn’t feel so.
If you’re in a funk at this moment, I want you to know that you are not alone. I want you to know that you’re not crazy. I want you to know that it is not a lack of faith that got you to this point but faith will sustain you while you are there and He will lead you out. You will overcome. You will be victorious.
Be the best you that you can be today and don’t measure your goodness and value by someone else’s standards. If you can barely “be” at this moment, hang on to all hope. Hang on for dear life because life is precious.
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have.” 1 Peter 3:15
My Hope is in Jesus.

 Why We Act The Way We Do

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To live in a world where people care about and spend a moment learning why they are the way they are….

What I wouldn’t give

A few years ago I hosted an enrichment class at my house for a ministry that I was involved in.  Each person was given a personality profile assessment ( Myers Briggs) and a spiritual gift analysis. It actually ignited irritation…and passive aggressive behavior. 

The truth is that people do not want direction or suggestions that do not fit their mind set. Their mind set is usually made up of selfish ambition. 

The truth is that being an ISFJ does not mean that I NEVER think instead of feel. It only suggests that I am naturally a feeler. I, in fact have many moments where I am very intuitive. That being true doesn’t erase the fact that I am naturally prone to sensing. 

And the spiritual gift analysis. Would you ask your foot to comb your hair? No. Can you use your foot to comb your hair? Absolutely. Your spiritual gifts are not meant to be a cage or an excuse. It’s a helpful tool. I personally score terribly low in mercy. That does not mean that I am excused from practicing mercy. 

My point is this… Love people for who they are, starting with yourself. Trying to change someone because they don’t think like you is an insult to them and to their Creator.   

I believe it best to have a teachable spirit and a humble heart. I do not believe nor do I mistake criticism for gentle directives. Constructive criticism is still criticism. 

but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭4:15-16‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

 I have been misunderstood my whole life through. People are quick to think they know me when actually they only know what they want to know. The good and the bad.  I am passionate, I am deep, and even if I am misunderstood, I am finally ok with that. 
  

My Own Kinda Dance

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  Now that she’s back in the atmosphere
With drops of Jupiter in her hair, 

She acts like summer and walks like rain

Reminds me that there’s a time to change, 

Since the return from her stay on the moon

She listens like spring and she talks like June, 

But tell me, did you sail across the sun?

Did you make it to the Milky Way

To see the lights all faded

And that heaven everything you thought it

Tell me, did you fall from a shooting star?

One without a permanent scar

And did you miss me

While you were looking for yourself out there?

Now that she’s back from that soul vacation

Tracing her way through the constellation, 

She checks out Mozart while she does Tae-Bo

Reminds me that there’s room to grow

Good Days & Bad

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Be still, and know that I am God. — Psalm 46:10 reads the sign on God’s waiting room wall.
You can be glad because God is good.

You can be still because He is active.

You can rest because He is busy…

To wait, biblically speaking, is not to assume the worst, worry, fret, make demands, or take control. Nor is waiting inactivity. It is a sustained effort to stay focused on God through prayer and belief. To wait is to “rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him;… not fret” (Psalm 37:7).
Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. — Isaiah 40:31

Fresh strength. Renewed vigor. Legs that don’t grow weary.
Delight yourself in God, and He will bring rest to your soul.

Humility

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6 Aspects of Humility

If humility is not compliance with relativism and is not sophomoric skepticism, what is it? This is important, since the Bible says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5), and “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11). God has told us at least six things about humility.

1. Humility begins with a sense of subordination to God in Christ.

A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. (Matthew 10:24)

Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God. (1 Peter 5:6)

2. Humility does not feel a right to better treatment than Jesus got.

If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household! (Matthew 10:25)

Therefore humility does not return evil for evil. It is not life based on its perceived rights.

Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps; . . . while suffering, He uttered no threats, but handed [his cause] over to Him who judges righteously. (1 Peter 2:21-23)

3. Humility asserts truth not to bolster ego with control or with triumphs in debate, but as service to Christ and love to the adversary.

Love rejoices in the truth. (1 Corinthians 13:6)

What I [Jesus] tell you in the darkness, speak in the light. . . . Do not fear. (Matthew 10:27-28)

We do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. (2 Corinthians 4:5)

4. Humility knows it is dependent on grace for all knowing and believing.

What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? (1 Corinthians 4:7)

In humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. (James 1:21)

5. Humility knows it is fallible, and so considers criticism and learns from it; but also knows that God has made provision for human conviction and that he calls us to persuade others.

We see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

A wise man is he who listens to counsel. (Proverbs 12:15)

Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men. (2 Corinthians 5:11)

6. Humility is to believe in the heart and confess with the lips that our life is like a vapor, and that God decides when we die, and that God governs all our accomplishments.

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. (James 4:13-16)

Read Your Bible More and More

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Read Your Bible More and More

Don’t rest on past reading. Read your Bible more and more every year. Read it whether you feel like reading it or not. And pray without ceasing that the joy return and pleasures increase.

Three reasons this is not legalism:

1. You are confessing your lack of desire as sin, and pleading as a helpless child for the desire you long to have. Legalists don’t cry like that. They strut.

2. You are reading out of desperation for the effects of this heavenly medicine. Bible-reading is not a cure for a bad conscience; it’s chemo for your cancer. Legalists feel better because the box is checked. Saints feel better when their blindness lifts, and they see Jesus in the word. Let’s get real. We are desperately sick with worldliness, and only the Holy Spirit, by the word of God, can cure this terminal disease.

3. It is not legalism because only justified people can see the preciousness and power of the Word of God. Legalists trudge with their Bibles on the path toward justification. Saints sit down in the shade of the cross and plead for the blood-bought pleasures.

So lets give heed to Mr. Ryle and never grow weary of the slow, steady, growth that comes from the daily, disciplined, increasing, love affair with reading the Bible.

“Do not think you are getting no good from the Bible, merely because you do not see that good day by day. The greatest effects are by no means those which make the most noise, and are most easily observed. The greatest effects are often silent, quiet, and hard to detect at the time they are being produced.

“Think of the influence of the moon upon the earth, and of the air upon the human lungs. Remember how silently the dew falls, and how imperceptibly the grass grows. There may be far more doing than you think in your soul by your Bible-reading.” J. C. Ryle

Infinite Joy (John Piper)

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Jesus revealed a secret that protects our happiness from the threat of suffering and the threat of success. That secret is this: Great is your reward in heaven. And the sum of that reward is enjoying the fullness of the glory of Jesus Christ (John 17:24).

He protects our happiness from suffering when he says,

Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven. (Matthew 5:11–12)

Our great reward in heaven rescues our joy from the threat of persecution and reviling.

He also protects our joy from success when he says,

Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven. (Luke 10:20)

The disciples were tempted to put their joy in ministry success. “Even the demons are subject to us in your name!” (Luke 10:17). But that would have severed their joy from its only sure anchor.

So Jesus protects their joy from the threat of success by promising the great reward of heaven. Rejoice in this: that your names are written in heaven. Your inheritance is infinite, eternal, sure.

Our joy is safe. Neither suffering nor success can destroy its anchor. Great is your reward in heaven. Your name is written there. It is secure.

Jesus anchored the happiness of suffering saints in the reward of heaven. And he anchored the happiness of successful saints in the same.

And thus he freed us from the tyranny of worldly pain and pleasure.

You’re An Original

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God made you an original, and He has a unique plan for your life. Psalm 139:13-14 (NIV) says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful….” As we study His Word, we discover the truth about who God created us to be—who we are in Christ.

Philippians 3:3 says we should “put no confidence or dependence [on what we are] in the flesh.” The means we put our confidence in Jesus, in who we are in Him and who He is to us.

David is a great example of a person who was able to live out God’s plan because of the confidence he put in Him. In 1 Samuel 17, the entire army of Israel was too frightened to fight the giant Goliath. But David wasn’t. Why? Because he was looking at God and not himself. He knew that his God could do anything. As a result, he walked straight out to the battlefield and killed Goliath with a stone and a slingshot.

Like David, you can become a giant-killer when you learn who you are in Christ. You can be bold, fearless and believe God for big things when your confidence is solely in Him.

Ephesians 3:20 says that God is able to “do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]” (AMP). He’s just waiting for you to take your eyes off of your insecurities, step out in faith and let Him do something through you that exceeds your expectations. Study His Word to find your security in Him!

Are you struggling with any insecurities about who you are, what your purpose is or whether you have the ability to do what God has planned for your life? We all feel insecure from time to time. But we don’t have to live this way. Study 1 Samuel 17 and Philippians 3 to gain more insight about who you are in Christ. The Truth will set you free to be secure in God’s love as you rely on Him.

The Power to Choose

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One of the greatest gifts the Lord has given us is the power to choose. In fact, every day we are faced with many choices. The question is: Are we making the right ones and doing what God says is best for us?

Think about your life for a moment. When you have a decision to make, do you normally go with the flow, doing whatever feels right at the moment? Or do you pray for wisdom and ask the Lord for insight?

God’s Word is our instruction book for life and the best source of wisdom in every area of our lives. For example, Proverbs 3:5-6 is a good guide when we need help with our decisions. It says, “Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths” (AMP).

God wants to give us direction for each decision we must make. We don’t have to live with fear and doubt about whether He wants to help us. Proverbs 3:6 tells us as we acknowledge God in all of our ways, “He will direct and make straight and plain [our] paths.”

As we study God’s Word, He speaks to us. Hebrews 4:12 says that the Word is alive, active and powerful. And in John 1:14, we learn that Jesus is “the Word made flesh.” So when we study the Bible, we’re not just reading a good book—we’re actually spending time with God Himself! The Bible is our instruction manual for our lives every day.

The best thing we can do each day is spend time with God, studying His Word, so we can get His perspective of our situations and needs. Acknowledging Him in all our ways simply means we consider God and how He wants us to handle the choices we make. It’s like the saying “What would Jesus do?” Whenever you’re wondering, just go to the Bible: your instruction book for life!

New Beginnings

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We’ve all experienced times in our life when we’ve been tempted to give up. Maybe you tried something once and it didn’t work out the way you expected it to. It’s easy to get discouraged, but God doesn’t want us to get stuck in those moments in our lives when things didn’t work out the way we planned. He wants us to keep going so we can fulfill His purpose and truly enjoy our lives. And He gives us the help and direction we need in the Bible to begin again.

God’s Word is filled with examples of people who were given a fresh start. A woman known only as “Rahab the harlot” was rescued and given a noble name in the bloodline of Christ. Ashamed because he gave in to fear and denied that he knew Jesus, Peter was forgiven and inspired to preach at Pentecost. Paul was caught in a trap of dead religion, persecuting the early Christians. However God transformed him and called him to write much of the New Testament.

God loves new beginnings! And He has a fresh start for you too if you’ll spend time studying His Word and let the Holy Spirit guide you.

You never have to get stuck in a moment or season of your life where things didn’t work out as you thought they would. Romans 5:5 says, “Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us” (AMP). If you will refuse to give up and hang on to your hope in Christ, you can enjoy the life God has planned for you. God loves you and He will never give up on you!

Walk It Out

Study scriptures about Rahab, Peter and Paul to learn about how God gave them new beginnings. As you read their stories, pray and ask God to show you in His Word how He wants to get you out of any rut you may be in and ready for a fresh start.