Mary Kassian | Girls Gone Wise https://www.marykassian.com Spiritual Smarts for Life and Love Wed, 18 Mar 2020 23:23:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 https://www.marykassian.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/cropped-MK-Sphere-512-01-1-32x32.png Mary Kassian | Girls Gone Wise https://www.marykassian.com 32 32 When Things Go From Bad to Worse https://www.marykassian.com/when-things-go-from-bad-to-worse/ Wed, 18 Mar 2020 23:23:31 +0000 https://www.marykassian.com/?p=51284

It’s not easy to be grateful when we face challenging circumstances. It’s even tougher to be grateful when things go from bad to worse. And when the problems pile up and seemingly have no end, that’s when it’s the most difficult to be grateful. It’s also the time when we need gratitude the most.

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When I wrote this devotional for Proverbs 31 Ministries, I had no idea that we would be facing the worldwide COVID19 crisis. What a timely reminder that even when things go from bad to worse, we can trust and rejoice in the God of our salvation!

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there is no fruit on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will triumph in Yahweh; I will rejoice in the God of my salvation!” Habakkuk 3:17-18 (HCSB)

This past week, I had the opportunity to catch up with a friend who’s been going through an extremely difficult time because of a wayward, drug-addicted son. When I asked her how she was holding up, she exclaimed, “It’s just one thing after another!”

My friend went on to explain that in addition to the challenges with her son, she had been hit with all sorts of other troubles, too.

Her problems ranged from inconveniences like her washing machine breaking down, to heartaches like her dog dying, to serious medical issues like her husband being rushed to the hospital with a heart condition. “Every time I think things might get better,” she lamented, “they take a turn for the worse.”

Have you ever experienced a season like that? I have. So did the prophet Habakkuk.

In today’s key verse, he describes a series of problems that hit the nation of Israel. Like my friend, Habakkuk and his fellow citizens were caught in a “one thing after another” scenario. Helplessly, they watched the situation in their country escalate from bad to worse.

First, the fig tree didn’t blossom.

That meant no figs. Figs served as a delicacy, so losing them posed more of an annoyance than anything else. The people missed out on something they enjoyed, but not on something essential.

Next, they lost the grapes.

Grapes provided the daily beverage, so losing them posed a major inconvenience. Losing the produce of the olive was worse. They had no oil for cooking or for lighting lamps. That significantly hampered their ability to function.

Even more critical was the loss of grain.

That meant starvation for large segments of the population. The final blow was the loss of the livestock, as this not only deprived them of food, but also of their ability to produce it. Given a catastrophe of this magnitude, things looked very bleak indeed.

However, regardless of how bad it got, Habakkuk was determined to keep his heart from sinking into despair. How? By focusing on the bigness of God rather than the bigness of the problem. Habakkuk responded to the escalating crisis by rejoicing in God. Even in the most horrible bad-to-worse situation, he knew that the God of his salvation would be faithful to see him through.

Regardless of how bad it got, Habakkuk was determined to keep his heart from sinking into despair. How? By focusing on the bigness of God rather than the bigness of the problem.

It’s not easy to be grateful when we face challenging circumstances. It’s even tougher to be grateful when things go from bad to worse. And when the problems pile up and seemingly have no end, that’s when it’s the most difficult to be grateful. It’s also the time when we need gratitude the most.

After my friend finished recounting her distressing laundry list of problems, she threw her hands up in the air and burst into a big smile. “But Mary, guess what?” she concluded, “I’m actually doing alright … I’m so grateful that even when the tornado rips everything from my hands, I still have Jesus!”

I smiled back and nodded in agreement.

Gratitude enabled Habakkuk to triumph in a bad-to-worse situation. It’s helped me through some tough times. It’s helping my dear friend surmount her difficulties. And it can help you with any challenging situation you are facing, too.

Figuratively, when the fig tree in your yard doesn’t bud. When your olive crop fails. When your fields produce no food. When things seemingly go from bad to worse. Even then, you can triumph in the Lord and rejoice in the God of your salvation!

 

Heavenly Father, please help me be grateful instead of grumbly when hard things come my way. I want to be overcome by Your greatness, not by the size of my problems. Thank You that You are with me and will see me through. Like Habakkuk, I choose to triumph in Yahweh and rejoice in the God of my salvation! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY

1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (HCSB)

Colossians 3:15a, c, “And let the peace of the Messiah … control your hearts. Be thankful.” (HCSB)

RELATED RESOURCES

Thankfulness changes our perspective and reprograms our mood, fostering a rich happiness, whatever the day holds — the kind of happy that blooms in every season of life’s ups and downs. If you’re looking for lasting contentment in good times and bad, pick up a copy of my new book, Growing Grateful: Live Happy, Peaceful, and Contented. It just released this week!

ENTER TO WIN

Enter to WIN your very own copy of Growing Grateful. To celebrate this book, Thomas Nelson will give away 5 copies through Proverbs 31 ministry! Enter to win by leaving a comment here. {They’ll randomly select 5 winners and then notify each one in the comments section by Monday, March 23, 2020.}

REFLECT AND RESPOND

How do you respond when difficulties come? Do you grow grumbly or grateful? Why does gratefulness help us “triumph in Yahweh” during tough times? Which circumstances in your life currently need more of an attitude of gratitude?

Take some time right now to express gratitude to God in prayer, thanking Him for who He is and what He does for you.

© 2020 by Mary Kassian. All rights reserved.

A Joy-filled Guide to Blooming Where You are Planted

The habit of gratitude fosters happiness no matter what the day holds – the kind of happy that blooms in every season along the pathway of life’s ups and downs. 

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Announcing The Right Kind of Strong https://www.marykassian.com/announcing-the-right-kind-of-strong/ Thu, 28 Mar 2019 13:04:19 +0000 https://www.marykassian.com/?p=50735

What does it mean to be a strong woman? These strength-building habits will help you become the strong woman God wants you to be.

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What does it mean to be a strong woman? 

This generation has been raised with the idea that it’s important for women to be strong. The Bible agrees. It says this about the ideal woman:

She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.  Strength and dignity are her clothing.  —Proverbs 31:17, 25

 Unfortunately, culture’s idea of what makes a woman strong doesn’t always align with the Bible’s. Even as Christians, we aren’t immune to having a skewed image of what constitutes strength.

In 2 Timothy 3:6-7  Paul called out a group of women in  the church in Ephesus for being weak. This is how he described them:

[False teachers] creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

This passage is extremely enlightening. Because if we break it down into clauses, we can discover seven unhealthy habits that shrunk those weak women down into tiny spiritual minikins.

Seven Strength-Sapping Habits

A weak woman:

  1.  Tolerates creeps (“creep into households”).
  2. Fails to guard her mind (“capture”).
  3. Lets things pile up (“burdened with sins”).
  4. Is governed by emotions (“led astray by various passions”).
  5.  Doesn’t apply what she learns (“always learning and never able to arrive”).
  6. Doesn’t have solid convictions (“knowledge of the truth”).
  7. Embraces the wrong kind of strong (“weak women”).

If we want to be strong, we must avoid these strength-sapping habits, and develop strength-building ones instead. That’s the focus of my new book, “The Right Kind of Strong.” It offers a biblical guide to what it means to be a woman who lives in God’s mighty power rather than her own. By guarding against seven habits that can sap our strength—letting issues pile up, failing to guard our minds, being governed by emotions, and more—we can walk in freedom and grow to be strong God’s way.

Imagine what it would be like to be a genuinely strong woman.

I’m not talking about the brash, worldly kind of strength that relies on your own capacities—the
kind of strength that’s brittle and fragile and shatters when tested—but a soft, quiet, confident strength that relies on the power of the Holy Spirit. The kind that makes you bold to stand for truth and brave to navigate through any kind of storm.

The surprisingly simple habits in The Right Kind of Strong offer you more than Girl Power ever could. You only need to take a series of tiny steps, consistently, over time, to strengthen your spiritual core. Just think: you can become bolder, braver, and stronger than ever before . . . and best of all, it will be the right kind of strong. 

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Revive ’19 – Seeking Him https://www.marykassian.com/revive-19-seeking-him/ Thu, 28 Feb 2019 15:26:58 +0000 https://www.marykassian.com/?p=50703

Refresh. Renew. Re-energize. Registration for Revive 19 is now open! Join me and thousands of women from around the world as we unite for one purpose - to seek HIM.

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Join us this September in Indianapolis, for a weekend of renewal, refreshment, and revival.

RESTORE YOUR FIRST LOVE.
REMOVE BITTERNESS, FEAR, AND WORRY.
REFRESH YOUR SPIRIT.

Experience personal refreshment and be equipped to share the hope of revival with others.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Mary Kassian

Mary Kassian

Dannah Gresh

Dannah Gresh

Chizzy Anderson

Chizzy Anderson

Andrea Griffith

Andrea Griffith

Damaris Carbaugh

Damaris Carbaugh

Kelly Needham

Kelly Needham

We Need Restoration. We Need Revival.

Talk to many women today, and you’ll hear recurring themes of overload, stress, being tired out. One of the biggest reasons we struggle to handle the rigors of day-to-day responsibilities is that our spirits are weary and our souls are in need of restoration. The remedy for that isn’t found in any vacation but in spending time with the Lord. It’s our desire to help you enter into God’s presence and find new life in Him.

Revival isn’t just an emotional experience. It’s a complete transformation! It can happen in your heart, in your home, in your church, and in your world.

Do you want to . . .

  • Restore your first love?
  • Develop a heartfelt desire for God’s Word?
  • Resolve conflicts?
  • Repair relationships?
  • Remove bitterness, fear, and worry?
  • Refresh your spirit?
  • Renew your mind?
  • Re-energize your life?

You can get back your passion and zeal for the Lord. Begin by Seeking Him!

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Envy: Choke that Green-Eyed Monster (Before it Chokes You) https://www.marykassian.com/green-with-envy/ Fri, 03 Nov 2017 12:45:38 +0000 http://www1.girlsgonewise.com/blog/wordpress/?p=15

Your sister just moved into a beautiful new home but instead of being happy for her, you’ve got a little green-eyed envy monster putting a squeeze on your heart.

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Your sister has just moved into a beautiful new home and instead of being happy for her, you’ve got a little green-eyed envy monster putting the squeeze on your heart. Outwardly you’re all smiles and congratulations, but inwardly you resent the fact that she’s getting ahead while you’re spinning your wheels and stuck in a rut.

Envy is the age-old monster that motivated Cain to murder his brother Abel, and the wicked Queen to poison her step-daughter, Snow White. According to the Bible, it’s an evil that leads to quarrels, fights, disorder, and “every vile practice.” (See James 3:14-4:2)

A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot. Proverbs 14:30 (ESV)

Envy wraps its ugly green tentacles around our hearts whenever we observe the success or advantage of others and feel a painful or resentful awareness of our own lack. The monster can show up in virtually any situation. We might covet a neighbor’s swimming pool, resent a co-worker’s promotion, begrudge the beauty of a lady in our exercise class, yearn to have a husband like our girlfriend’s, seethe when someone else’s child gets the MVP award, crave someone else’s talent, or feel slighted when others are recognized and we are not.

Envy Rots the Bones

Envy is one of the seven deadly sins identified by the early church Fathers. It was categorized as deadly because of the terrible damage it does to the soul. Medieval artists depict envy as a monster gnawing on the heart. As Proverbs says, a tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot(Prov. 14:30, ESV). Envy is a malignancy that eats away at our spirits. Left unchecked, it can destroy us from the inside out.

Envy Distorts Perspective

The problem with envy is that it warps our perspective. When we perceive others to have an advantage over us, we subconsciously feel the need to level the playing field. We attempt to make up the difference by puffing ourselves up and pulling them down. Like birds, we splay out our own feathers and peck at our opponent’s eyes.

The envious person focuses on the other person’s deficiencies, and concludes that that person is full-of-herself, cold, arrogant, or flawed in character. The envious person is blind to the fact that the problem is not her competitor, but the green-eyed monster that has dug its talons into her own heart. That was the situation with King Saul, whose envy had so warped his perspective that he regarded David as the one with the problem.

Envy Causes Division

When envy festers, it erodes and damages relationships. When we envy, we obsesses with another person’s seemingly unfair advantage and become spiteful towards them. Our hearts become malicious. We want to cut them down to size. So we slander, whisper, spread gossip, revel in their flaws, and wait like a vulture for them to falter or fail. The monster of envy breathes out a poisonous vapor that can infect an entire community. It’s the root cause of many church splits and the breakdown of countless relationships.

Thankfully, with God’s help, we can replace envy with tranquility. A peaceful, tranquil heart breathes out blessing and life and chokes this terrible bone-rotting monster.

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Why is Envy Green?

Why do we turn green with envy? . . . and not purple or blue?

In antiquity, the Hebrew word for envy, qinah, referred to the burning color in the face produced by a deep emotion. The Greeks believed that jealousy was accompanied by an overproduction of bile, lending a yellowish-green pallor to the victim’s complexion.

In the seventh century B.C., the poetess Sappho used the word “green” to describe the face of a stricken lover. After that, the word was used freely by other poets to denote jealousy or envy. The most famous such reference and the origin of the term “green-eyed monster” is Iago’s speech in Shakespeare’s Othello:

“Beware my lord, of jealousy; it is the green-ey’d monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on!”

Choke the Monster of Envy Before it Chokes You!

So how do we choke the monster? Read James 3:14-4:2 in your Bible. Grab a pen and complete this section to begin to loosen envy’s grip on your heart:

 

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Step One: Honestly Examine Yourself

James said,”If you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth” (3:14 ESV). In other words, if you’re envious, admit it! To choke the evil green-eyed monster, you first need to see and admit that he’s there.

Take a hard, honest look at your heart. In your journal, write the names or initials of friends and acquaintances that you secretly envy. (Hint: Think of people that you privately criticize, mock, deride, slander, resent, or are malicious or insecure towards. Don’t be blind like King Saul. It could be that the problem is YOU!)

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Step Two: Confess and Repent

James pointed out that it is possible to “boast” about the envy in our hearts. We do this when we shrug off our attitude as justifiable considering the other person’s behavior, and fail to regard our own sinfulness as a serious offence against God. To repent means to have a change of mind to amend one’s attitude. Are you willing to do this with regards to the names you listed above?

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Step Three: Sow Seeds of Blessing

According to James, you can choke the monster of envy by sowing seeds of peace and blessing in your relationships (3:17). The way to do this is to purposefully change your behavior to bless (and not curse) the person you envy. Make a point of speaking well of her, encourage her, take her out for coffee, send her a card, ask the Lord to help you come up with a plan. Jot down your ideas. And make sure to follow through!

James guarantees that those who sow righteous seeds will kill the monster and reap a bountiful harvest: a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (3:18).

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