Friday, November 27, 2015

B.A.R. Hopping

It was Thanksgiving Day, a time when family and friends usually gather for a wonderful time of reflection of the blessings they have in their lives. 

What a time it would be for everyone; and the family had even been invited to dinner at two homes, unfortunately they had to decline.  

Counting their blessings should have been going on, but instead it was a gloomy day and Arlene had to work. Things could have been different for this family, but the course of events over the past week changed what should have been a relaxing day. 

You would have never known that the husband and wife loved Jesus by their attitudes or behavior.  What both had been doing for some time lately was B.A.R. hopping, and their misery was starting to show to everyone around them. 

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Not the Bar Scene You’re Thinking

Right from the start I can imagine what you are thinking from the title of this article “B.A.R. Hopping," as in people who go from one drinking place to another on a regular basis.  I wasn’t sure how to get people’s attention concerning this particular subject that I’m about to discuss, when the acronym dropped into my thinking … B.A.R. 

Let me say this, it’s not what you think.  Did you automatically start thinking this is a judgmental post for those who frequent local drinking establishments?  That thought may have brought you into the same B.A.R.
 
I'd like to clarify that what I’m presenting in this article has nothing to do with beverages of choice. 

The topic of drinking or visiting town pubs isn’t what’s this is about; that’s an entirely different thing.  However, I will tell you that the word B.A.R. fits perfectly.  

Let me unwrap the story for you.  When I discuss things in my writing it’s for a purpose. The people (whose names are always changed) have given permission or are aware that I feel it may be beneficial to others if I share something that has happened in their lives.
 

The Work  

Now back to our “loving” family… Bill sets his hours at work, so his schedule is pretty much his own.  His wife, on the other hand doesn’t enjoy such a flexible agenda.  For years Arlene worked outside the home and loved what she did.  She had a pretty good income which permitted her husband to expand his own business. 

With the present economy being such as it is, she now works out of her home. Usually Arlene can work around whatever is happening with her family, and often works at night when everyone is in bed.  

Hoping to have Thanksgiving off she needed to work longer hours in the beginning of the week.  Bill didn’t take into consideration what his wife needed to do so their family could spend a holiday weekend together, and kept his schedule to fit his own desires. 

Arlene asked Bill if he could work half a day on Monday, but he insisted working long hours.  On Tuesday she asked him again, once more he said he had to finish a project so he didn’t have to work on Friday.  Not only did he work late, but he took almost two hours off to go to lunch with a friend. 

When he got home that night the place where he was working said they had a problem.  What was wrong?  The Christmas lights he had hung weren’t working, so Bill told them he would come fix them on Wednesday after grocery shopping. 
 
When his wife asked if he could call them to see if they had fixed the problem on their own, he refused saying he didn’t want it hanging over his head.   

All she asked him to do was call.  When Bill didn’t listen she popped out to the B.A.R. once more, which prevented her from concentrating and getting any work done.  When he went back to check the lights he found out that they had resolved the problem and he wasn’t needed after all. 

Wednesday night instead of letting his wife get some work done, he sat and watched television until 1:30 am.  Here the problem was with them both being in the same room, so Arlene couldn’t listen to anything she needed to research.  By now she was too tired to start work.  Getting ready to go to bed the couple had an argument,  but this time Bill took to visiting the B.A.R. 

Thanksgiving morning was a shambles with the entire house not wanting to say a word to “upset” anyone; even the pets kept their distance.  It’s about time for some intervention. 

Spiritual Intervention 

When this couple presented themselves to me I realized there were some deep underlying problems that neither wanted to face.   I knew the couple was having marital issues for some time; thankfully it wasn’t that they wanted out of the relationship.  So what was the real problem that was causing each of them to daily frequent the B.A.R.?   

Bill was never in the mood to discuss anything and certainly wasn’t open to family counseling.  This isn’t new, most of the time when I schedule couples for sessions the husband refuses to come or only agrees to a few sessions. So how could I reach this man?  Was this a waste of time for the wife? 

We’ve Been Called for A Purpose 

Around the middle of the week I talked to the Lord about what has been spiritually happening to so many Christian couples lately. 
 
Continuing in my studies my eyes focused on something the Apostle Paul said during the time young Timothy was appointed as Bishop.  It was while he was writing to the church in Thessalonica about the call of God on the Body of Christ. 

 
What is the calling Paul was talking about when he addressed the church at Thessalonica and Christian’s now?  As believers in Christ, Paul admonishes that we endure trials and tribulations with faith and patience.  In doing so, the Righteousness of God is shown counting us worthy of the Kingdom of God, because others have come to believe our testimony of what Christ has done in our own lives.
It’s sad, but society believes what they see Christians do, not what we say we believe. That’s why it’s so important we act on what we say we believe.
Paul also shared that he prayed that God would count all of them worthy of this calling; that is, the fulfilling of the work of Christ by faith through the power of the Holy Spirit.  The “calling” and the works we do are to bring glory to the Lord Jesus by the grace (favor) He has given to each person who has received salvation. (from 2 Thessalonians chapter 1)
While sitting at the kitchen table I distinctly heard three words that are stopping the Body of Christ from accomplishing what God has set before them in life (their individual calling).  That’s when it came together.
Bitterness, Anger, Resentment aka The B.A.R. 

Just as alcohol hinders people from moving forward causing them to stumble, so does bitterness, anger and resentment.  Stepping up to the bar is much different than raising the bar in our expectations in life, but both aspects can fog the mind and be deceiving when they include selfishness. 

Like everyone else there are things that cause me to get angry, and it happened again this week. You can stop gasping now and looking so shocked.
 
When that happens I ask God to take me out of my B.A.R. feelings so I can see things in a different light.  In other words, let me see why I’m really feeling like I am. That’s what I did and He showed me why I got angry.  I was feeling resentful over something that keeps happening to me from a certain individual.   

The problem wasn’t that I was angry, because I didn’t act on the emotion (so I thought) causing me to sin.  Jesus knew there would be times when we got angry, but His command was that we don’t let that anger turn into action that would cause us to sin.   

Every time I get angry immediately these passages pop up in my head. 

“Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah.” (Psalm 4:4)
“Don’t let your mouth cause your flesh to sin, nor say before the messenger of God that it was an error (you didn’t mean to sin). Why should God be angry at your excuse and destroy the work of your hands?” (Ecclesiastes 5:6)
“Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath.” (Ephesians 4:26)
Normally I don’t get angry, but when I do it’s usually for another reason (such as being stressed, tired, etc.) that tends to make the situation intensified.  As I said, the problem wasn’t that I got angry. The Lord revealed to me that I sinned when my anger turned into resentment, because this person didn’t respect what I do for a living. This individual continually tries to sabotage my work and I had reached my limit this time.

Hitting the Feelings B.A.R.
Arlene was facing a similar situation with her husband Bill.  For their entire marriage Bill has always seemed bitter or angry at something.  She is tired of his anger issues and is feeling resentful that her career is taking a back seat to his whims.  It’s more complicated than that, but together they hit the feelings B.A.R. on a regular basis.
The Lord showed me how each of them has a call on their lives to do something for God, but neither are doing what they know they should be doing.  As a result, both are not happy, so it comes out in ways of bitterness, anger and resentfulness.

The B.A.R. Removes God’s Favor
The Bible tells about a time when King Saul was very active in the “feelings B.A.R.”, so much that God removed His favor from the first King of Israel. 
His Royal Highness became even more wicked after the Lord revealed to Saul that David was going to be next in line for the throne. The King went into hot pursuit spending all his days trying to find ways to steal, kill and destroy the next heir to the throne.
David’s call by God would allow him to bring the bloodline of Christ into this world. King Saul would be a metaphor of satan and what Jesus talked about in John 10:10, only this took place over a thousand years before He was born.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that
they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10 NRSV) 

Jonathan, the King’s own son, accepted that David was to take his place in ruling over God’s chosen people. Prince Jonathan did whatever he could to walk out his calling, which was to protect young David from his very own father (King Saul). He was counted as righteous, worthy of the Kingdom of God and worthy of the call on his life.
Prince Jonathan wasn’t distraught because of all the trials and tribulations he had in his life. He forgave his father even after Saul tried killing him when he took David’s side. Jonathan was a warrior for His Heavenly Father and his earthly father, with whom he fought beside in battle.
This individual understood God’s calling. Instead of going to the feelings bar and drinking in bitterness, anger or resentfulness over David receiving his birthright, my husband said Jonathan became a “teetotaler” and drank in the plan of God with gladness.
As a result of following the call of God, Jonathan received favor from the Lord and so did his children after his death. I wonder what God would have done for King Saul in his lifetime had he gotten on board with His plan.  Favor skipped him, but his grandson ended up back in the palace with King David.  How’s that for rerouting favor?
Forgiveness is the cure for:
anger-rage-resentment-bitterness-disappointment-
guilt-pain-injured hearts-hurt-hatred-grief
and so much more!
 
Forgiveness & B.A.R. Visits
I don’t know what’s going to happen to the couple in our story, but I do know that if they don’t get in line with God’s plan they’ll continue to "B.A.R. hop" and probably will add a few more emotions in the mix.  I do know that as long as they’re in this mode and mood without forgiving one another, there will be limited or no favor from God and mankind falling on them.
It’s easy to get caught up in bad feelings or emotions, especially when things don’t seem to be going as we hoped.  We may start out visiting feelings of bitterness, but it we’re not careful we’ll keep making stops at all our negative emotions until our faith and testimony are of no effect as a Christian. 
Believers in Jesus Christ must understand that feelings both good and bad are part of life, but forgiveness and rejecting negative emotions are not an option. They are mandatory if favor from God is to flow in our lives.

Stop B.A.R. Hopping
When I talked to my husband about how I could get this message across all he said was, “That couple is a mess!”  When I asked what he would do next he said, “I don’t know, I seem to be visiting some of those places myself lately.”
I said let’s look at this in perspective. You be King Saul and I’ll be Prince Jonathan.  I thought it was quite funny, but he didn’t think so.
Then I changed my mind.  Jonathan was willing to put all his earthly goods and emotions aside for someone who wasn’t even kin.  He stood by David who had God’s favor on his life, and he didn’t abandon his Dad who was the poster child for B.A.R. hopping when it came to how he hated David with a vengeance.
Obviously I’m not there yet, but because of Jesus the Jonathan tendencies are hidden within waiting to come forth in my life as a child of the real KING.  There was something God did say to me though and He wrapped it up in one word – HOPE.
There is hope for all who have the desire to walk out the call on their life so Jesus is glorified, and others are brought to the saving knowledge of Him. We have to cling to that hope if others are to believe our testimony and turn to Christ.   

This Week’s Challenge:
Close the B.A.R. 

Let’s face it, as long as we are in these earth suits we’re going to have fleshy feelings that could get us into trouble if we don’t take hold of them.
Bitterness, anger and resentment will stop God from extending grace, favor, blessings and mercy on us. We have to search for the Jonathan seed planted deep in our spirit and forgive others, so that God will count us worthy of this calling on our lives.
The challenge this week: If you find that you are about to walk into the negative feelings B.A.R. take hold of who you are in Christ and close the B.A.R. door immediately.
Remember this so that you don’t let hurtful feelings cause you to sin.
“I am a prisoner of the Lord and will walk worthy of the calling to which I am called. (from Ephesians 4:1)
I will forgive and walk in unity with God and my brothers and sisters in Christ, no matter how I feel or what others say or do against me.
Like Jonathan, by faith and the power of the Holy Spirit I will do what I’m called to do for God and fulfill all the good pleasure (favor) of His goodness in my life.”
As soon as you feel yourself getting angry or any feelings that might cause you to sin, tell yourself this even if you have to say it out loud:
“I’m not walking into that negative feelings B.A.R. again; it is closed for good. I’ve shut down the power it has to strip me of my inheritance from God and His favor on my life.”
God brought the word “hope” to my attention for a specific reason. We have to believe that our best days are ahead of us and can’t quit now thinking this is all there is to life.
Although we may be dealing with things that trigger emotions the devil would have us act on, we have the assurance that God is still there guiding us through each situation.
There is hope in front of those who believe and act on the Word of God.
For those who believe what they say they believe by faith, they will see hope manifested through the works of the Holy Spirit and favor.
 
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes,
it is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12 NKJV) 

This week also remember to pray for families, couples and individuals who have demonstrated visitation rights to the bad feelings B.A.R. Pray that God will reveal to them the reason behind those feelings and that they will be empowered by the Holy Spirit to conquer them.
I leave you with this prayer as Paul did,
“Therefore I also pray always for you that our God would count you
worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness
and the work of faith with power.” (2 Thessalonians 1:11 NKJV)
 
 

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Until next time, God’s favor stops outside the B.A.R.!
 

Check Messages throughout the week.  

“Negative feelings cancel out My favor.”
Jesus Christ 

Note: The words satan or devil are not capitalized deliberately, because we give him no place in our lives.
Disclaimer: Article information is not meant to be used as treatment for mental or physical issues, but geared toward spiritual awareness.
 
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http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/product?event=AFF&p=1167566&item_no=790695

Choosing Forgiveness: Turning from Guilt, Bitterness and
Resentment towards a Life of Wholeness and Peace
by John Loren and Paula Sandford
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Content and Image Copyright from Favored1. Do not copy. 
Scripture reference was taken from the New King James Bible Version provided by Gateway Bible
Image credit: Google Images or Dreamstime Creative Common License if not specified.
Image:  Family Dinner  King Saul Fallen
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