Sunday, July 30, 2017

No Halfway

How Old?

Name’s Sake (No Good Deed Goes Unpunished)


A friend of mine who is experiencing some painful family issues has repeatedly asked herself the “why” questions.

Why is this happening to me?

Why am I being treated like this?

Why is my loved one acting in such an ugly manner?

She has been blindsided by a situation and a relationship she never dreamed was possible, rife with betrayal, deception and slander. This was once a close, bonded relationship, one filled with unconditional love and trust.

So, the events over the last few years were a definite shock.

“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death.”

Matthew 10:21

This wasn’t supposed to happen.

So, why did it?

The question often produces, unfortunately, only unsatisfying silences, with, perhaps, some exceptions, as found in scripture...

“But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me.”

John 15:21
“And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.”

Matthew 10:22

 “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.”

Matthew 24:9

I know, it’s not comforting. But there appears to be a theme here.

“...for my name's sake.”

We’ve all heard the phrase, “no good deed goes unpunished.”

This statement is also not comforting, largely because it flies in the face of the Godly principles we’ve staked our faith on: good triumphs over evil, we will be blessed for our kind deeds and God is a just God.

So, how do we reconcile this with a situation in which evil appears to be winning, wicked actions are rewarded and God seems to be absent, incompetent or non-existent?

Once again, we return to our theme...

“...for my name's sake.”

Living our spiritual journey, our faith will be tested; it’s a case of when, not if that testing occurs.

No one is immune. It is part of not just humanity, but the spiritual experience as well.

So, like it or not, that means like Master, like servant...

“The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.”

Matthew 10:24

Sooner or later, we’ll encounter hurt and betrayal. After all, Jesus had Judas.

“But Jesus said unto him, ‘Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?’”

Luke 22:48

(Check out Luke 22:3-48 for the entire gory story).

So, what makes you and I think we’d get out of our lives unscathed?

And then, complicating matters further (because, hey, life is already way too simple and easy, right?), we have to deal with our recovery issues on top of everything.

No easy feat, especially when boundaries are often blurry, at best, not everyone we encounter is in a healthy, love and life affirming place and, oh yeah, “hurting people hurt people” is in full force.


No, it’s more like good deed rubber, meet some getting punished road.

Here’s, therefore, where we need to get a bit mercenary about our health, well-being and yes, recovery. We need to remember how people vary widely- and their thoughts, motivations and issues do as well.

So, with that reality, we have the perfect storm for betrayals and persecutions of countless scenarios.

The players involved may or may not be aware of that. I’ve heard it said in my own faith walk how human beings are tools either in the hand of God (good) or in the hands of the devil (evil). We play a role in that; and often, yes, we can be deceived and misguided. It would be ideal and much easier if everyone always choose to be agents for good.

But we live in a real world with free will and matching free moral agent human beings who make choices- and not all of them are loving, informed or harmless choices.

Still more great news to ponder.

Yet ponder we must.

And, as we think about the varying, often unpleasant, circumstances we encounter, we need to have our reality check/action plan readied concerning our response when life presents itself.

“The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.”

Matthew 10:24

Nothing Pollyanna about this and it certainly doesn’t make it feel any easier as we encounter and endure hardship of being hurt and betrayed from seemingly unlikely directions.

Scripture, again, reminds us...

“Woe unto the world because of offences! For it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!”

Matthew 18:7

The definition of “woe” means:

“great sorrow or distress; things that cause sorrow or distress; troubles.”

So, yes...

Woe is betrayal.

Woe is slander.

Woe is deceit.

Woe is the unexpected, unloving behavior from our most unexpected loved one.

Again, Jesus had woe from Judas.

And again, it comes back to our theme...

“...for my name's sake.”

Therefore, a core element of our battle plan, in spite of painful, unfair incidents, needs to employ Ephesians 6:7...

 “With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men.”

Life is tricky, filled with unanswered questions. One can drive himself/herself crazy trying to answer the “Judas kiss” kind of experience we face from those “least likely” individuals.

A lot can be chalked up to “things happen.”

A lot can be chalked up to “life is unfair.”

And yes, again, there are things which fall under the “name’s sake” classification.

“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.  Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.

John 15:18-20

So, it is important to bear this in mind, coupled with the seemingly impossible directive given to us concerning our troubled feelings/responses...

 “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

John 14:27

None of this invalidates our pain, our heartbreak or our persecution.

Rather, it’s to remind us there is more going on than just our finite experiences- and understandings of them.

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;”

2 Corinthians 4:17

There is, in fact, a Glory principle in effect; and it doesn’t require we feel the positive feelings of that Glory...

 “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”

1 Peter 5:10

Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”

Romans 8:17

So, perhaps, instead of asking our “why questions,” we should, instead, ask such things as...

What spiritual lesson is being taught to me?

How can I embody the Savior’s behaviors? (Yes, I know, that rhymes).

What is the Glory test here?

It is unrealistic enough to be believe we will be unchallenged and have an easy, pain-free life experience.

Likewise, in the faith realm, when we encounter offense and human experiences which make us feel judged, betrayed and persecuted, it also unrealistic to blame that stuff solely on a human being. There is also a spiritual warfare element added to the equation...

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

Ephesians 6:12

And yes, that especially applies to the “Name sake” issue.

So, it would do us all some good to bear this in mind as we deal with whatever “blindsiding” situation we face. We are not above suffering.

But, if we remember this “Name sake” principle, we also realize how, yes, we are also not removed from a deeper promise.

“If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.”

1 Peter 4:14

Indeed, it’s not about being punished at all. Rather, it is about the Divine reward of Savior resemblance.

So, let’s choose to experience that.

Copyright © 2017 by Sheryle Cruse


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Ladies love it!

Your Whole Being...

It Ain’t What They Call You...


“But now thus says the LORD that created you...‘Fear not: for I have redeemed you, I have called you by your name; you are mine.’”

Isaiah 43:1

What’s in a name?

We cannot get around that question. From the start, we are named. As life continues, we bestow more names to children, pets, toys, places, projects, et cetera.

This naming business is far from insignificant. Consequently, it can often subject to negative, extremely personal and abusive behavior. It can challenge the recovery from our individual hurts, histories and obstacles.

I’ve personally encountered this toxicity. I have had people call me derogatory names; profanity and misogyny have often been at the center of those names.

It’s startling, infuriating and potentially harmful to my health and recovery. Often reeling from these encounters, my only recourse is to run to God in prayer.

Recently, I came across a social media post about name calling. And it shed some insight regarding personal attacks.

Here are these reasons behind negative name calling revealed...


Cover up mistakes

Cause confusion

Deceive observers

Discredit or invalidate opponent

Disarm opponent

Distract or divert attention

Draw attention

Encourage criticism

Instigate reaction

Manipulate you into compliance

Manipulate perception or mislead

Manipulate your beliefs and values

Project blame onto others


Reinforce social stigma

Personal Agenda: A Huge “Why”

“For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.”

James 3:16

As we look at this list of “reasons,” it doesn’t take long to see how a personal agenda is behind it all.

And it can become overwhelming to discern and deal with that often destructive personal agenda. Indeed, envy and self-seeking behaviors are often found there. Both share unrealistic expectation, entitlement and, yes, selfishness. Possessing these attributes is human. Like it or not, each of us is subject to falling into this humanity.

With that said, however, it still is not an excuse to eviscerate someone’s character, feelings or circumstances.

Misunderstanding is frequently at the root of negative name calling. We don’t see and know the entirety of a person, their history and their situations. So, in our uninformed perspective, we somehow justify, with unchallenged conviction, the determination they “deserve” said name attached to them.

Someone gets called a profanity, a slur or any other variation of an unflattering, hurtful word.

And here’s where we are confronted with a choice. In that unpleasant, real moment, how do we respond to a derogatory name hurled at us?

“It ain't what they call you, it's what you answer to.”

 W. C. Fields

 This tests everything: our faith, our character and our triggers. Over the years, I have tried various tactics concerning the name calling issue.

I have...

...ignored it, doing my best to not dignify it with a response...

“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth...”

Isaiah 53:7

(Yeah, this Jesus kind of response was definitely not easy)...

...just walked away...

“Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge.”

Proverbs 14:7

 (Again, it’s NOT easy).

...attempted to reason with the person, offering a plea for understanding and civility...

“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”

Matthew 5:9

(Oh, don’t get me started here)...

...responded to verbal attack by stating, “Stop it!”

“Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”

Matthew 5:37

(This, I’ve found, can shut all communication down)...

...put the particular name through my questioning filter, attempting to assess if there was anything “valid” to the incident...

“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Psalms 139:23-24

(As if I’m not enough of a masochist already)...

And here’s where I run into a gigantic sticking point: negative name calling is DESTRUCTIVE, not CONSTRUCTIVE criticism.

“Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.”

James 3:5-6

Unfortunately, when a person is in this reactionary mode, they are often not the least bit interested in resolving, understanding or being peaceful. They, because of fear, hurt or frustration, disguised as personal offense, often only want to retaliate.

Again, no one is immune from being in this place.

Nevertheless, it still targets a pointy question for the name caller:

Why are you saying what you are saying?

It comes back to personal human agenda.

But Thank God, God is different...

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Isaiah 55:8-9

And because of our unflattering agenda portrait, we need to return to God on this issue.

When imperfect human beings make the choice to hurt with untrue, but painful verbal attacks, how much more do we need to reaffirm God’s position on the name calling topic?

Called By MY NAME...

“Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made."

Isaiah 43:7

We need to learn, apply and bandage ourselves with how God sees us and how He names us.

(Once again, this is not easy).

When painful verbal abuse is launched our way, we need to keep first things first.

Our First Love: That Settles It...

 “We love him, because he first loved us.”

1 John 4:19

Our inherent value and lovability are secure and decided upon long before we were ever in a circumstance which challenged us to believe a harmful lie of a degrading name.

We were specifically, intentionally, created in His Image and called good...

“And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good...”

Genesis 1:31

 And God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness...’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”

Genesis 1:26-27

And after our creation, God celebrates us...

 “The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Zephaniah 3:17

That’s an important thing to keep in mind whenever we’re in a name calling moment.

 I mean, let’s face it, in that uncomfortable scenario, there is nothing celebratory going on.

Why HIS Name Calling?

“Since you were precious in my sight… I have loved you…”

Isaiah 43:4

So, whenever we feel diminished in a negative context, we need God’s affirming naming process. It comes from an agenda of love.

“The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, ‘Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.’”

Jeremiah 31:3

At surface level, this feels like a no brainer.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we know- God loves us.

Yet, when we are bombarded with vicious, degrading and hurtful words, words which often convince us of our worthlessness, this important love thing can be incredibly difficult to accept.

Free To Transform Because God is Decided...        

“I have chosen you and have not cast you away.”

Isaiah 41:9

Therefore, knowing God is already decided about His love and decision to choose us can, however slightly, make it easier for us to absorb.

And maybe this absorption can facilitate our trust inthe grace-infused process of transformation, even in spite of our wounds and issues.

 “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

2 Corinthians 3:18

One of the reasons I frequently refer to 2 Corinthians 3:18 and an entire slew of unconditional love scriptures as  I write, speak and mentor, is because life, without any sugarcoating, is brutal. I’ve encountered many along the way who are walking wounded from someone else’s fiery tongue.

Therefore, part of the ongoing healing process is to frequently remind ourselves of these love and value scriptures.

I wish I could say I am completely finished and healed. I would love to say it’s all resolved.

But I would be lying if I said that.

 My struggle, to this day, resides in not just the memories of days and words gone by, but also in the current biting experiences from people, especially when they are family, I experience to this day.

This, unfortunately, is a common reality for many of us out there. From what name, insult or slur are you trying to process and heal? Who said it? Do you take over where they leave off, calling yourself this horrible name for yourself?

While the recovery journey of truth, acquiring tools and forgiveness unfolds for each of us, there’s one more thing which needs to also be mentioned: Matthew 12:36.

“But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.”

Do I offer this scripture because of the “get ‘em” promise of vengeance on our enemies?


Rather, it is to remind us all, myself included, of the reality of individual accountability. Even on our best day, we still can only control our own actions. That does not guarantee self-control and appropriate behavior will spread to anyone else. So, yes, there is the risk of someone else’s choice for bad and hurtful behavior to be aimed at us- and name calling is included in that.

It’s important to believe God’s love and value estimation concerning us is more powerful than any person’s opinion and the toxic results emanating from it.

Again, to quote W.C. Fields...

“It ain't what they call you, it's what you answer to.”


Let’s commit to the challenge of accepting ourselves, called by our true names!

“...‘I have called you by your name; you are mine.’”

Isaiah 43:1

Copyright © 2017 by Sheryle Cruse


The Exact Moment

A Secret Club Agenda?


Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.”

 “Fight Club” is a powerful film, cemented within pop culture. It’s notorious, in particular, for the famous line of its main character, Tyler Durden’s, often quoted within our society...

 “Welcome to Fight Club. The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: you DO NOT talk about Fight Club!”

And it got me thinking about secrecy.

I understand the lure of club membership. There are benefits to joining such an entity: socialization, improvement of like-minded skills and, of course, the all-powerful “sense of community.”

Many of them have rituals, handshakes, pledges and rules of conduct- and yes, quite often, those elements are “secret.”

Indeed, for many of us in recovery, that also applies to the numerous Twelve Step programs out there; we do see the impact of people gathered together under a common cause/interest, in a safe “anonymous” setting.

But, with that being said, it still brings up the risk for potential mindsets and behaviors that are far from constructive.

And, at that center lies secrecy. Here’s where the unhealthy crutch arises instead of the ideal focal point, actual recovery.

As the old saying goes, “You’re as sick as your secrets.”

Secrecy’s toxic impact in a “club setting,” first discounts the necessary need to admit our powerlessness, as referenced by Steps 1-3.

  1. We admitted we were powerless over our addiction - that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

“Secret-keeping” enables the person afflicted to keep going about his/her usual routine, with absolutely no acknowledgement of one’s own powerlessness. The harmful delusion asserts itself: he/she is still running their addiction-fueled show.

And, this delusion further flourishes, as long as the addict keeps attending meetings; all appears well. The attendance serves as a “smoke and mirrors” distraction for destructive truth. As long as everyone is looking at the meeting attendance, no one is actually paying attention to a member’s “using” agenda.

The addict is at the meeting in body only.

And, before anyone catches it, a cavalier attitude can insidiously extend to Steps 4-7, the actual wrongdoing of the addict.

4.      We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

  1. We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  2. We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  3. We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Emboldened by his/her hush-hush “fight club,” the addict now feels no need to do that necessary recovery inventory. He/she is playing the secretive game of lip service with no action behind it- and it continues to go unchallenged.

And, again, the addict may even believe he/she is “doing the work,” as they passively show up to meetings. They may believe that is enough.

In full denial, steps 8-10, therefore, are a moot point to the addict, when in direct contrast to “secret keeping.”

8.      We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

  1. We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  2. We continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.

A toxic pattern repeats itself, only now, it expands its reach. The addict reasons, “If there is no need to honestly address, examine, discuss and change what I’m doing, why should I do change my behavior with other people?

The secretive all-important agenda, to the “crutch-y addict,” likewise, perpetuates its resistance for the remaining steps, eleven and twelve.

11.  We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

  1. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Again, if we are “as sick as our secrets,” then what is our approach to these last two steps?

Are we transparent?

Or, are we content to avoid the work and put on the mask of committed recovering addict instead?

Perhaps we think we’ll “take things more seriously” at a later time.

Perhaps we believe really aren’t “that bad,” and, therefore, don’t need the implement the steps in our lives.

Perhaps we think we have the best of both worlds as we keep and practice our secret, destructive behaviors: we have the social interaction benefit without having to give up any of our vices. got it great. We’re getting away with it.

Except...we’re not.

 “For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Nope. You can’t keep a secret, especially from the Most High God...

“Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.”

Psalms 90:8

So, there’s that. Buzzkill.

Therefore, especially concerning the realm of our all-important recovery, it would do us some good to come back with this response...

 “... Cleanse thou me from secret faults.”

Psalms 19:12

It’s not about shame. Rather, it’s about the healthy checkup of what we’re really doing.

Are we truly in recovery? Are we pretending we are? Are we going through the motions?

The “Fight Club” speech states...

“...The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: you DO NOT talk about Fight Club!”

According to scripture, that secretive perspective is a vain imagination which exalts itself against God and His Word (2 Corinthians 10:5).

And it does not profit us. We may feel like we are “getting away with it,” but come on, is there really unshakable security if we insist on secrecy?

And really, are we blessed by that secrecy?

Honestly, we know that answer is “no.”

“He who covers his sins will not prosper: but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”

Proverbs 28:13

What are our secrets? How are they playing themselves out?

 “You’re as sick as your secrets.”

Is that our true club membership?

Copyright © 2017 by Sheryle Cruse