Are You Bitter or Better?

“How do I know if I’m bitter?” I am often asked that question. Here are some ways you can tell:

Do people set your teeth on edge?

Who have you blocked on Facebook lately and why?

Do you cross the street when certain people come your way?

Does your jaw set when you think of somebody? And why?

When you hold onto unforgiveness and let it grow in your heart, before long you will have bitterness.

Bitterness grows roots that bury deep in your heart. It hurts you. It blocks God. It stunts your growth.

Continue reading “Are You Bitter or Better?”

How Do I Learn to Hear God?

I am often asked these questions: “How do I learn to hear God? What does God’s voice sound like? Is it audible?”

God speaks to us in many ways:


Sometimes people wonder if they are hearing God or talking to themselves.

There are only three voices you can hear in your spirit. It will either be God, the enemy, or your own voice. You will have to discern among those three voices.

Ask yourself: “Does what I am hearing line up with God’s Word and with His nature?”

It helps to practice talking to God. You can talk out loud to Him. The more you call on God and ask to hear His voice, the more you will be able to discern His voice.

Try this to start a conversation:

Say, “Jesus, I love you.” Then be really quiet. What do you hear? What did God say?

People have also asked me, “When I think I’m hearing from God is it because I want to do what I want to do?”

Again, does what you are hearing line up with God’s Word and with His nature?

What are your own motives in what you are asking Him? Are you being selfish and focused on you? Have you really asked God and are waiting to hear His response? Or did you just decide, “God, here is what I’m going to do, please bless it”?

Ask God something that’s on your heart. Listen for His answer. Check it out in the Bible. Does the answer you heard line up with what He says in His Word?

Another common question is this: “What if I don’t like His answer?”

What makes you think you wouldn’t like His answer? He always wants His best for you. Why do you assume you wouldn’t like His answer? Ask yourself where that concern is coming from.

If you hear His answer and don’t like it, ask yourself why you are reacting to it this way. What is His answer triggering inside of you?

Remember, God likes obedience. Have you ever given your children an answer they didn’t like?

Here is another frequent question: “Can other people hear from God for me?”

Yes, they can, but why would you want them to? Don’t you want to hear from Him yourself?

Other people can confirm what you are hearing, but God wants a relationship with you.

If someone hears a word from God for you, do you witness to what they say? Does it resonate with you? Be cautious of who is telling you. Don’t cast your pearls before swine.

If you feel that other people can hear God, but you can’t, ask yourself, “Who is God to me?”

Your relationship with your earthly father can affect how you hear from Father God.

Here are some ways you can get better at hearing God:

  • Study the Word. God speaks through His Word, and His Word helps you learn to hear His voice.
  • Talk to Him. Then listen for His response.
  • Journal what you hear from Him. Look to see if it lines up with His Word and His nature.
  • Build a friendship. Ask God a “get to know you” question you would ask a new friend.

Take some time now to practice. Ask God a question. Write the answer. Check that it lines up with His Word.

Keep practicing, and you will get better at hearing God.

How to Overcome Bitterness in Marriage

Question: “I can’t seem to let go of bitterness regarding my spouse. How do I move beyond my lack of relational skills to keep my heart open and not carry offense?”

Often (especially women) we keep a list with little “tick marks” of disappointments in our relationships. We have been taught not to be “nagging or difficult” so we save up our frustrations. Once the barrel of irritations fills up, we explode. We bring out all of the hurts we have been harboring for days, weeks, even possibly months. Suddenly, almost before we know it, we have hurled our pain and injustices all over our victim like slime.

Their response can only be to react in defense or to shrug their shoulders and walk away, unaware of the emotional time bomb that previously lay dormant below the surface. Not only do they not know how to respond, but they also make inner vows not to lay their heart out before you again. You cannot be trusted. So now, the relational stalemate begins and more offense, except this time, hurt and betrayal by both parties. Bitterness won.

First of all, just know that you are not alone. Unfortunately, we aren’t taught how to “fight fair.” Even though scripture teaches us clearly “not to let the sun go down on our anger” (Ephesians 4:26). We aren’t sure what that looks like.

I have learned that no matter what the circumstance, I cannot allow seeds of bitterness to take root in my heart. I used to “save up” until I realized my reactional pounce left my spouse hurt and guarded to the next eruption. If you can imagine, it’s like walking around a field of emotional time bombs resting beneath the surface. We finally learned that no matter what the circumstance, we have to talk about it before we go to bed, even if it’s just to agree to disagree.

My spouse is a processor. He wants to talk about and process through everything, from relationships to home projects. It is a blessing and a curse. I, on the other hand, am a reflector. I need time to reflect on processes. If I am hurt, I need to pull away and gather myself and my thoughts.

Early in our marriage, I used to create an opportunity for time away by screaming out of the driveway in my car. Luckily, my “processing spouse” taught me that this made him feel abandoned and alone. I didn’t know what the answer was, but I knew I just needed time to ponder and reflect on not only the circumstance but also how I was feeling about the circumstance. Most importantly, I needed to tame my tongue of all the things I had been feeling and stuffing for so long. I had to figure out a way to deal with hurts as soon as they happened and not to store them up until I erupted.

I would often find myself playing out shoulda, coulda, wouldas instead of focusing on the solution. I would sequester myself and listen to the negativity in my head until I was seething all over again. It became a vicious cycle. And with each circle I became more and more bitter. Before long, the small misunderstanding became an avalanche of premeditated hurt. All the while, my spouse was absolutely clueless of what I was conjuring up in my head.

When we finally came to an impasse, we sought out a few simple solutions based on scripture:

1. Do not harbor bitterness (Hebrews 12:15).
2. Do not let the sun go down on your anger (Ephesians 4:26).
3. Do not let the enemy gain a foothold (Ephesians 4:27).

In simple terms, we decided to talk the minute questions occur. We decided to decide that we are on the same team. It’s obvious there is an enemy out there who desires to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10). If we aren’t on his team, we have to be on the opposing team.

If there is a misunderstanding, the minute it occurs, we have to rally our troops to respond – not react.

Over time, if we keep our accounts of offense short, there is no room for misunderstandings or for the enemy to plant seeds of doubt and mistrust in our heads. And if there are no seeds in our head, there is nothing offensive to slide down into our mouth to “chew on.” If we have no offense to chew on, we then can choose to walk in peace.

Most importantly, once married, we become one. Discontent divides. Division destroys. Marriages can’t survive in either of those two options. If we agree on the same rules, we win. And if the rules are vetted in scripture, it’s truth. In truth, the enemy has no power. No room for bitterness there. No bitterness, no hard hearts.

If we keep our hearts open and walk in truth, there are no landmines, no slime, no verbal assaults. Just an opportunity to learn, love, and grow in relationships, planted firmly in the promise of what marriage is supposed to be as it was created by God: Good!

“I Am Not Artistic”

I am always suggesting that folks grow in the Presence of God and in Peace by participating in art, nature, music, etc. One client responded with the following:

“I am not artistic and ‘all’ that I am good at creating is food, and that’s not art.”

My response to her is that in her deciding to agree with this statement, she is hindering the Creator from flowing through her in a spirit of creativity. By doing so, she is blocking His hand in developing who He created her to be. We are created in the image of God, the Creator.


“When I Was Younger, I Had Two Abortions”

Question: “When I was younger, I had two abortions. Now I am so very much against abortion but inside I feel like a hypocrite. Is that normal?”

First of all, let me say that I completely understand. We often make decisions when we are young without knowing the truth (or thinking about the long-term ramifications). For example, are you aware that Norma McCorvey “Roe” of Roe v. Wade has just retracted her support of abortion? Can you imagine?! She has now become Pro-life!

As for feeling like a hypocrite, I understand that also. Ask God to forgive you for your sins and then forgive yourself. God wants more than anything to set you free from condemnation, and your repentance is the first step. Once you’ve repented, use your testimony to prevent someone else from going through the emotional despair that you have gone through AND save the life of an innocent child at the same time! That’s how we overcome sin! Use your voice and your testimony. Before long, you’ll realize all of that condemnation is gone AND God gets the glory!!!


“Will Not Attending Church Keep Me out of Heaven?”

Question: “I have struggled to find a church and am not attending any. Will this keep me out of Heaven?”

I’m sorry that you aren’t able to attend church right now. I do not believe that this will keep you out of heaven. I do want to encourage you to keep searching for a church. Scripture says “forsake not the fellowship” in Hebrews 10:25 and I do believe it is very important to find a church group, whether it be house church or storefront, or even a church with a steeple because we need a spiritual family. Ideally, we grow, learn, tithe, are accountable, and experience the fullness of relationship in a church family. Without that, we are alone and isolated, and that’s not good. That is a strategy of the enemy, to keep us isolated.

With that being said, I also do understand that there are seasons of change that may not allow us to “fellowship” in a “church.” But that doesn’t mean you can pull away altogether. I believe we should ALWAYS be in relationship with others who are growing in Christ and will help us to grow. Otherwise, we will fall to the wayside in our own relationship with Christ and that is detrimental to our spiritual health and our own testimony of our relationship with Jesus. There shouldn’t be anything that separates us from “a Body” other than the strategy of the enemy.


“Why Is Cleaning Unsettling?”

Question: “I just spent 3 days cleaning my entire apartment. Inside-out. Got rid of boxes/closets/drawers full of stuff that’s been there since I moved in 5 years ago. You would think (and it’s usually the case for me) that after such a huge cleaning I would feel amazing. Instead, I feel very unsettled, disoriented, vulnerable. I have no idea why. I didn’t get rid of anything important, just years worth of old junk.”

Great question! And congrats on “cleaning out your closet” (so to speak). Just imagine that what you are doing spiritually is parallel to the natural. And what usually happens when you clean out your closets or behind your bed, etc.? You find lots of dust bunnies (or at least I do). And what else happens? You stir up a lot of “dust.” Anytime we make attempts to “bring things into order” whether it be physically, or emotionally, we stir things up. And this also stirs things up in the spirit.

We attach a lot of “value” to our “things.” And when we let things go, we often feel vulnerable and “discombobulated.” The same thing happens in our soul. When we dig around in the area of our heart we feel unsettled (for a little while). Give it a couple of days and see how you feel. I would encourage you to anoint your new clean space with oil, invite Holy Spirit to come in and fill the new space … wouldn’t even hurt to open a window and just covenant with a new season of fresh wind and purity in the name of Jesus!!!


“Will Inner Healing Help My Attitude? Lately, I’ve Been Angry … “

Question: “Will inner healing help my attitude? Lately, I’ve been angry with my husband for one reason or another, and he tells me I need to change my attitude. Help!”

Yes, inner healing will help your attitude. Most importantly, it will help you discover the underlying reason you have an attitude in the first place.

It’s kind of like if you walk around with a rock in your sock. You can change your walk, change your shoes, etc. but until you remove all of the outer layers (all the way down to your socks) you’re still going to walk with a limp. UNTIL YOU REMOVE THE ROCK.

Offense is like a rock in our sock except it’s a rock in our heart. Once we’ve been hurt, we decide to guard our heart. Unfortunately, guarding our heart means it gets harder and harder. And then, it spills out in our relationships, both with God and others.

Inner healing helps us track back to what actually started the hardness in our heart. Then, we deal with it. And our hardness melts. We are able to hold our heart open again.

The best thing is that when we have our heart healed, we aren’t hurt by what others do to us. Once our heart is healed, we can then ask the Holy Spirit to guard our heart and help us with the hearts of others.

It’s amazing, and we don’t have to do all of the work ourselves. That’s why Jesus died for us, so we don’t have to deal with these things on our own.

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. — Ezekiel 36:26 (NKJV)