by Tracy Manno
A couple days ago I was watching my two daughters argue, which can be fairly entertaining at times. I don’t always intervene right away in hopes they will find ways to work it out. Over the years they have learned how to push each others buttons, and they each know what drives the other crazy. They have also, unfortunately, learned how to use these skills to influence the others actions by manipulating their emotions. And as I continued to watch it became clear they weren’t going to attempt to make peace on their own.
At the center of this particular argument, the younger one was trying to keep a secret from the older, and the older knew she was. So she took advantage of her younger sister by saying things that would purposely rile her up until, out of frustration, would divulge her secret. Once the younger sister realized what had happened she was devastated! “How could I let this happen?! How did she gain control over me that way again?!” And the tears started to roll down her cheeks.
My goal in that moment, as a parent, was to teach them not just about what is right and wrong, but about why and how the choices they made were destructive, in fact, hateful. Each of them was looking to gain control over the other. The first wanted to hold power over the other with secret information, and the second wanted to control the actions of the other by manipulating emotion.
I heard it said recently that if someone can control how you feel than they can control how you think, and ultimately how you respond. Based on this simple example with my two girls, I’d say there’s quite a bit of truth to that statement.
When we allow others to swell our emotions, whether by words or deed, and we don’t ground ourselves with reason and discernment before responding, we are in danger of handing them control of the direction of our actions. Remember that old phrase, “My anger got the best of me.” When this happens, which it does to all of us, our anger – or hurt, fear, guilt, shame, etc – becomes the leash around our neck that someone else is in control of. And unless we recognize it, and take back control through the use of our mind and powers of judgment, we will forever find ourselves saying those words “How did she gain control over me that way again?!”
In James 1:19 it says “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry (or respond).” We are also told in Ecclesiastes “Be not quick in your spirit to become angry (or offended), for anger lodges in the heart of fools.”
All these instructions are there to help us protect our freedom and maintain control of our own lives. They are meant to keep us free from the control of others, keep us on God’s path for our lives, and live a life of worship in Spirit and Truth.
I pray this story comes to mind throughout your week, and you will find yourself taking back control of the areas in your life that the enemy has sought to steal from you.
by Tracy Manno
We are all creatures of familiarity. Even those of us who are adventurous and like trying new things, we all find a comfortable place in going back to things that are familiar to us. Whether it is a favorite food, an old movie, or coming home after a long trip away, we all find our grounding in things that are familiar to us.
The problem with our tendencies for the familiar is we can become trapped in patterns of old thinking and behaviors that hold us back and keep us from walking the NEW things God has prepared us for. Jesus made this point when He said “"No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:62)
This truth extends a lot farther into our lives than I think most people recognize. We all understand that we wrestle against our old nature; our sinful, prideful and selfish tendencies. But even more than that, there are greater forces at work against us that aren’t as clearly seen or understood. These are forces designed to keep you trapped in living a life that is less than what God intended for you. Strongholds meant to keep you in the dark, and conformed to patterns of this world.
And the scariest part is that these strongholds that are meant to imprison us end up being the very things we defend and identify with the most. We don’t recognize them as dangerous because they are by design familiar to us. We don’t question them because they are cloaked deep within our core beliefs and how we see the world. And the more we deflect the truth of their existence, the more hardened they become.
I wrote the book “Know God Find Freedom” to give you insight into these strongholds and show you how to identify them; and to also show you God’s strategy to release His power in your life that will set you free, shift your perspective, and move you forward on the path to fulfilling His purposes for your life! And that power is in the knowing!
Jesus said “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free”
Our lives can feel like that of a hamster in a cage, always looking through the plastic box to something we want to reach on the outside, and as we move towards it we find ourselves running within a habitrail, a maze of twisting tubes, always leading us back to where we started. Each time we try and move toward our new life, our old thoughts and behaviors unconsciously redirect us back to where we have always been a hundred times before, until finally, and tragically, we resign ourselves to think “this is just how life will always be.”
Have you been there? Are you there? Well I want to encourage you today not to give up hope! There is an escape from the cycles and patterns that have held you captive!
When the apostle Paul told us to “Grab hold of the eternal life to which you were called!” he was saying take hold and enter into the freedom of your new life now! And the place we go to grab hold of this freedom is at the place of KNOWING GOD.
Jesus IS the truth, and to KNOW the Truth we must replace what we always thought to be true with what He says is truth. This is the process of abiding in Christ, and it’s a very personal process, and it is the path to your Freedom, of taking possession of your new life, not just when you get to heaven, but right now!
No longer do you need to submit to patterns that keep you filled with fear and anxiety. No longer do you need to resign to a life of doubt, confusion and hopelessness. No longer do you need to question if God has a purpose for your life.
This is a journey of discovery! And in order to discover the new, we MUST BE WILLING AND INTENTIONAL about letting go of the familiar. What you’ve always thought. How you’ve always perceived and interpreted the world and those around you. You need to be willing to look through new eyes, hear with new ears, think with new thoughts, and understand with the wisdom God gives.
Jesus said we must become like children again if we are to be useful in the Kingdom… ready to learn, explore, seek out the new! When we seek and find truth, we also find revelation. God not only wants to reveal all of who He is to you, but also all He created you to be and do! When we know God, we have FOUND OUR FREEDOM.
Know God Find Freedom will help you break free from the paralyzing forces that keep you running in familiar circles and holding you back from taking new ground; and will open your vision to the journey set before you, to know and live the new life that Christ has already prepared for you.
I know that as you apply the insights and methods discussed in this book, it is going to be ground breaking for your life, your calling, and your freedom!