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Entries in Debbie W. Wilson (7)

Thursday
Oct182018

12 Traits of Unsafe People

Counselor and Bible teacher Debbie W. Wilson helps people develop relevant faith. She also teaches people practical wisdom from scripture. In this Relationship UPGRADE, Debbie clearly defines a group of people that might harm us.

She asks, "Do you have an unsafe person in your life?"

I (Dawn) do have some people that seem to flash warning signs when I'm with them. Most people have some "unsafe" people in their lives, and sometimes it's hard to know how to respond to them. I'm glad Debbie is tackling this issue.

Debbie continues . . .

Jacob’s father-in-law and employer for twenty years was an unsafe person. Laban’s name means white. But he was a dark cloud for Jacob.

Unsafe people live, work, and worship among us.

They may appear friendly and good. But beneath their scrubbed exterior lies a dark streak.

Laban betrayed his daughter Rachel and Jacob by switching the bride the night of the wedding. He cheated Jacob by changing his wages ten times.

His story helps us identify the unsafe people in our lives.

               12 Traits of Unsafe People

1. Unsafe people use you as long as it benefits them.

Laban wanted Jacob to stay while Jacob made him prosperous (Genesis 30:25-28).

2. Unsafe people are reasonable to your face but undermine you behind your back. 

Laban agreed to give Jacob the spotted and streaked animals as his wages, but he gave them to his sons instead. He thought leaving the solid colored herds would decrease Jacob’s chances to raise spotted animals (Genesis 30:34-36).

3. Unsafe people are threatened by your success and disregard your faithfulness.

Jacob’s growing herds threatened Laban’s sons. Laban’s attitude changed toward Jacob. They forgot Jacob’s work had made them rich (Genesis 31:1-3).

4. Unsafe people can’t thwart God’s blessings or will for you.

Every time Laban changed Jacob’s wages, God intervened.

If Laban said, “The speckled ones will be your wages,” then all the flocks gave birth to speckled young (Genesis 31:4-9).

5. Unsafe people don't determine your well-being.

Rachel and Leah acknowledged the bounty their heavenly Father had provided in spite of their father wronging them (Genesis 31:14-16).

6. Unsafe people are on God’s leash.

Jacob was no match for Laban’s men. He didn’t have to be.

God appeared in a dream and stopped Laban from attacking Jacob (Genesis 31:24).

7. Unsafe people manipulate with guilt and shame.

They make you the villain and themselves the victim.

Jacob had the cooperation of his wives (Genesis 31:4-16), but Laban accused him of carrying them off like captives in war.

“You didn’t even let me kiss my grandchildren and daughters goodbye. You have done a foolish thing.” (See Genesis 31:26-28.)

8. Unsafe people's true intentions come out through their unguarded words.

“I have the power to harm you; but God stopped me” (Genesis 31:29).

What? I thought you said Jacob had no cause to run off in secret.

9. Unsafe people are mercenary.

Decisions are based on personal profit—not kindness, relationship, or right and wrong (Genesis 31:38-41).

10. Unsafe people believe they are entitled—me, my, mine! 

Jacob worked twenty years for his wives and flocks.

Laban said, “They’re mine!” (Genesis 31:43).

11. Unsafe people hypocritically accuse you of their ill motives.

Laban said, “If you mistreat my daughters….”

Laban had already wronged Rachel and Leah (Genesis 31:15, 50).

12. Unsafe people are distrustful because they assume you share their ill will.

Laban wanted a watchtower to keep Jacob from harming him and promised he wouldn't pursue Jacob.

Yet, Laban's the one who chased Jacob to harm him and had repeatedly cheated him (Genesis  31:51-52).

Laban debunks the myth we should trust people just because they are family members, authority figures, or claim to be believers.

Don't feel guilty if your caution light flashes when you are around someone.

Ask God for discernment and then boldly heed it.

Eventually, Jacob and his family had to separate from Laban and his sons.

The Bible says:

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18 NIV).

Sadly, sometimes it is not possible to live at peace with some people and be true to our walk with God.

What traits concerning the people with whom you live and work alert you to proceed with caution?

Debbie W. Wilson—drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher—speaks, writes, and coaches to help others discover relevant faith. She is the author of Little Women, Big God: It's Not the Size of Your Problems, but the Size of Your God and Give Yourself a Break: Discover the Secrets to God's Rest. Find her at her blog, Refreshing Faith.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of MGDboston at Morguefile.

Tuesday
Apr032018

Why We Need Billy Graham's Perspective on Time

When I think about Debbie W. Wilson, I think of the word "refreshing." She encourages us to get a fresh perspective on things we take for grated. In this Biblical Thinking UPGRADE, she encourages a more biblical perspective on how we view and use our time.

"When a university student asked Billy Graham what had been the biggest surprise in his life," Debbie says, "he answered, 'My biggest surprise in life is its brevity.'”

I (Dawn) think that realization becomes more apparent the older we get. In day-to-day circumstances, we may forget to live in light of eternity. But life is short; what are we waiting for?

Debbie continues . . .

James agreed. He wrote to those bragging about their big plans for the future,  

“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14 NIV).

Job put it this way,

“My days come and go swifter than the click of knitting needles, and then the yarn runs out—an unfinished life! (Job 7:6 The Message).

An adult mayfly has a lifespan of less than a day. In comparison with eternity, our lifespan is shorter than a mayfly’s.

Remembering this helps us live without regret.

Our family traveled I-40 from California to North Carolina. If you look at I-40 as representing eternity—which it feels like when you’re glued to the seat of a car with two small children wanting to escape the back seat—our lifespan covers less than 2 miles of I-40’s 2,555 miles.

Cultivating an Eternal Perspective

Remembering life’s brevity should shake us from our slumber. Are we living for the 20-mile stretch or for eternity?

Remembering the brevity of life changes us. It changes—

1. Our PURPOSE

Instead of bragging about my plans, I seek His plan for my life. He knows the future; I don’t.

I want to live for eternity.

2. Our DEFINITION of a Deal.

James rebuked the wealthy who got rich by not paying their workers on time.

“You thought you were piling up wealth. What you’ve piled up is judgment” (from James 5:1-3 The Message).

If saving some cash cheats a sales person out of the fair compensation he needs to feed and shelter his family, it is not a good deal.

The wealth of those James rebuked became a source of shame when they faced death.

3. What we COLLECT

I love to decorate, but when our family moved to the Midwest for a two-year stint, we didn’t invest much time or money into our rental house. However, I willingly spent more on furnishings at a nearby antique auction for pieces I knew we’d move to our permanent home.

It would have been a waste to paint walls and plant shrubs in a place we were soon leaving.

When we set up our permanent home, we were thankful for the pieces we’d bought with our future in mind. 

It’s not wrong to store up treasure. We just need an eternal mindset to identify real treasure and to store it in the right place where it will not be corroded or have the power to corrupt us (Matthew 6:19-34).

4. The LEGACY We Leave

A cartoon showed a man standing before a storage unit with his son. The raised door revealed a space packed from floor to ceiling with stuff.

“This will all be yours one day,” the father beamed as his son grimaced.

What am I leaving behind? For what will I be remembered?

Billy Graham’s “brief” life on earth ended this year. His faithfulness to Christ during his 99 years blessed millions. I can only imagine the throngs of people who greeted him in heaven.

Our lives may not be as public as his, but our choice to live with an eternal perspective is just as valuable.

How does considering the brevity of life change how you live today?

Debbie W. Wilson—drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher—speaks and writes to help others discover relevant faith. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. Share her journey to refreshing faith at her blog and website.

Graphic Adapted, courtesy of JaStra at Pixabay.

Tuesday
Sep262017

How to Kick Regret to the Curb

Counselor and Bible teacher Debbie W. Wilson encourages women to cultivate vital faith, and in this Spiritual Growth UPGRADE, she advises us to deal with mistakes biblically and "kick regret to the curb"!

Debbie asks: "Why would Eve trade paradise for the knowledge of good and evil? Why do I swap peace for worry?"

I (Dawn) can't count the times I've allowed worry to control my life. When I make a simple mistake, I let the enemy play with my emotions until I'm a total mess. But God's Word has solutions for that problem, and Debbie shares a powerful truth.

Debbie continues . . .

Eve and I share a common problem. We've both allowed the desire for knowledge to rob us.

Choosing fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil made her miserable. My desire for the knowledge of good, better, and best has stolen my joy.

Maybe you can relate.

I bought a neutral-colored jacket I thought would go with everything. But after I brought it home, I couldn’t find anything I wanted to wear with it. The time to return it ran out before I realized my purchase wasn’t as smart as I’d thought.

“If only I’d thought it through better,” I moaned.

That’s when the Eve analogy struck me. The serpent told Eve that if she ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, she would be like God (Gen. 3:5).

  • Was my “If only I’d known,” an echo of Eve’s obsession with the tree of knowledge?

  • Was I trying to be like God—all-knowing?

  • Is my desire "to know" a way to replace my need for God?

Have you let decisions you’d like to do over with the knowledge you’ve gained from time and experience steal your peace?

Even though God’s Word and Spirit guide us, we still learn as we go.

Even young Jesus “grew in knowledge.”

Where did I get the idea errors are catastrophes? I've felt worse over a mistake than over sin.

I knew God forgives sin, but I felt I had to pay for my mistakes.

Here’s some grace and help to avoid or handle REGRET.

1. BEFORE a decision, ask God to lead you.

That may mean asking Him to help us want His will. God’s will is always perfect. Ours is shortsighted and inconsistent.

I practiced this during a visit to Chicago. A pair of boots captivated me. They were a timeless style, fit like a glove, and gorgeous. It was snowing outside (I needed them). I peeked at the price. Gasp!

The store held my size to give me time to decide. A battle between why they made sense and why I was CRAZY to think about them ping-ponged through my mind. The next morning I asked God to guide me.

I opened my Bible and read out loud. “Spare no expense!” (Is. 54:2 NLT).

Ginny and I laughed out loud. “Mom, you turned there on purpose.”

I hadn't, but it assured me God would lead me.

When I tried the boots again, they rubbed my heels. I walked away without feeling deprived.

2. BEFORE and AFTER a decision, exercise thanksgiving.

God causes “all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28 NASB).

Even when a decision doesn’t turn out like we’d hoped, we thank Him that He will use it for our good.

Maybe my jacket is meant for someone else or for another season. Perhaps it’s a reminder God’s bigger than my shortcomings.

3. LIGHTEN UP!

God created us to need Him.  

Joy comes from experiencing Jesus, not from avoiding mistakes.

There were two trees in the center of Eden. Satan diverted Eve away from the tree of life to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Jesus is “the life” (John 14:6). Let's not let a decision draw us away from Him.

Before we left Chicago a pair of ankle boots grabbed my attention. Cute, comfortable, and affordable!

What pending or past decision wants to steal your peace?

Debbie W. Wilson, drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher, speaks and writes to help others discover relevant faith. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. She and her husband, Larry, founded Lighthouse Ministries in 1991. Share her journey to refreshing faith at debbieWwilson.com.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of kconnors-Morguefile.

Tuesday
Jun272017

How Do I Protect Myself from Manipulation?

Debbie W. Wilson, who loves to point people to her big, BIG God, also loves to share His wisdom with people. In this Wisdom UPGRADE, she tackles the tough topic of manipulation.  

Debbie says, "A counseling professor told a woman in one of Larry's lab groups, 'Your tears don't move me.'"

That sounds heartless, but I (Dawn) understand that response. I've made the same response in a counseling format, and with good reason.

Debbie continues . . .

His words stunned the group, but the woman stopped crying.

“Those were tears of frustration,” he explained. “They weren’t tears of brokenness.”

I’ve thought of that many times when someone’s tears haven’t moved me and I wondered what was behind them.

Crocodiles shed tears when they eat their prey, but not from regret or sorrow.

Some people use tears to manipulate. Others use flattery.

If that doesn’t work, they pout or explode to get us to follow their script.

Emotional pain is real. And manipulators use it to control us—if we let them.

One family I know didn’t take a vacation the first twenty years of marriage. Every time they planned a trip, the mother-in-law became ill and asked, “How can you leave when I’m about to die?”

Giving in to manipulation is harmful—not just unpleasant.

Jesus said no one can serve two masters. Submitting to manipulation makes the wrong person lord over our time and lives.

How do we protect ourselves from being manipulated?

Recognizing manipulation is the first step.

The controllers in our lives may be blind to their tactics, but that doesn’t mean we have to be in the dark.

The ugly feelings we experience after allowing ourselves to be manipulated should inform and motivate us to create healthy boundaries.

Consider the following if you suspect you are being manipulated:

1. How do you feel after you leave this person or group? .

Guilt may be a sign someone is trying to control you.

A woman pulled aside a friend of mine one night. She complained that she didn’t have any friends. My friend prayed for the woman but left feeling guilty. On the way home, she experienced an aha moment.

The woman was a manipulator. Her guilty feelings evaporated with this understanding..

2. Are you making decisions based on what you believe is best or to avoid disappointing or angering someone? .

We want to be kind and generous, but when someone takes more than we want to give we feel taken advantage of and resentful.

God loves a cheerful giver. If I’m feeling resentful, I probably need a clearer understanding of where my responsibilities end and theirs begin.

3. Am I living to avoid pain or to pursue faith and love?

Giving in to controlling people won’t protect us, in the long run, from emotional pain. We despise our spineless compliance and resent them and anyone who reminds us of them. This isn’t love.

People who habitually let others control them may develop self-destructive habits. They mindlessly shop, eat, gamble, or drink to numb the pain of feeling used.

Faith and love are better motivators than fear and guilt.

4. Do I believe all conflict is bad?.

When some religious people tried to control a group of believers in the early church, Paul wrote, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1, NIV).

Standing firm in our God-given freedom may upset those who want to control us. But that isn’t bad.

Paul said, “No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval.” (1 Cor. 11:19 NIV).

Conflict exposes hearts. If one arises because we won’t let someone wrongly control us, it’s okay. We’re in good company.

People with religious-sounding arguments tried to control Jesus, the Apostle Paul, and the disciples. Because these men understood God’s will, they escaped their nets.

By serving one Master, we can too.

What helps you recognize and resist manipulation?

Debbie W. Wilson, drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher, speaks and writes to help people discover relevant faith. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. Share her journey to refreshing faith at Debbie's blog

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Yomare at Pixabay.

Saturday
Feb042017

What's Better than Working for God?

In this Spiritual Growth UPGRADE, Debbie W. Wilson challenges us to think through our perspective on Christian service.

"I quit working for God," Debbie says. "I hope you will too."

On the surface, I (Dawn) think that's a jarring statement. Why would anyone quit working for God? Did I misunderstand? Isn't that a good thing?

Debbie continues . . .

How could a Christian worker make such a declaration?

 Because, I found something better.

When we work for God we make mistakes. We bruise people in “Jesus’ name.” We become resentful, proud, and worn out. We may even hurt His kingdom instead of build it.

Don’t believe me? Check out these traits and biblical examples to see what I mean.

  • Misguided: Moses thought he was working for God when he murdered an Egyptian taskmaster (Ex. 2:11-14).
  • Working against God’s kingdom: Saul of Tarsus thought he was working for God when he was eager to kill and imprison Christians (Acts 9:1-4).
  • Resentful: The hardworking son bitterly resented his father celebrating the return of the prodigal younger brother (Luke 15:11-32).
  • Proud: The Pharisees and religious leaders believed their work for God put them in His inner circle (Luke 18:11).

How do those of us who love Jesus and want to serve Him quit working for Him?

We learn to work with Him.

Those who work for God ask Him to bless their ideas.

Those who work with God join Him in His plan. They look to Him for guidance and strength.

  • Moses learned to rely on God. “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here” (Ex. 33:15 ESV).
  • Saul of Tarsus was transformed into the Apostle Paul who said, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20 ESV.)
  • Jesus who said, “No longer do I call you servants, …but I have called you friends” (John 15:15 ESV) also said “ I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5 ESV).

I used to beat myself up when I failed to meet the expectations I put on myself. Now I believe my job is to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading. That in no way translates into passivity. It means I believe Jesus is living and working in me.

I work with Him. He works through me.

When we serve God by working with Him, He gets the glory.

His plan, through His power, and in His time, builds His kingdom.

Who do you think makes a better ambassador for Christ, the one who works for God or the one who works with Him?

How to Start Working With God:

1. Ask God to show you where you have been striving to work for Him.

2. Admit your inadequacy and surrender your will and your way of doing things to Him.

3. Ask Him to fill you with His Spirit and to teach you how to rely on Him in every area of your life.

4. Thank Him for leading you. This demonstrates faith.

It takes practice, but I’m learning that staying in sync with my Lord is better than reaching my goals—even ministry goals.

Would you rather work for God or with Him?

Debbie W. Wilson is an ordinary woman who has experienced an extraordinary God. Drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher, Debbie speaks and writes to help others discover relevant faith. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. She and her husband, Larry, founded Lighthouse Ministries in 1991. They, along with their two grown children and two standard poodles, enjoy calling North Carolina home. Share her journey to refreshing faith at her blog.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of DodgertonSkillhouse, Morguefile.