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Dena Johnson Martin Christian Blog and Commentary

Dena Johnson Martin

Crosswalk.com blogspot for Dena Johnson of Dena's Devos

I remember the days of begging God for wisdom and direction over my marriage. My husband had an affair with a woman in our church. I chose forgiveness and reconciliation. But, as the days turned into weeks and the weeks into months, I knew something was not right. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what was wrong, but I knew there was something seriously wrong.

“God, I need you,” I cried out day after day.

“God, how do I handle this situation?”

“God, show me what to do!”

Over and over I ran to God, begging Him to show me exactly what to do. Do I stay and pray for him to repent? Do I walk out and file for divorce?

No matter which path I chose, I knew there were very hard days in my future. Eventually, I felt God give me the freedom to walk…and even 10 years later I know I was following God.

Sadly, Roy and I find ourselves in a very difficult, very painful situation today (just to clarify, it has NOTHING to do with our marriage). Last night, we just fell into one another’s arms, crying out to God, begging for His wisdom, His direction. Our hearts are heavy and burdened, our minds swirling with thoughts. We are at a loss, no human wisdom can guide us in how to handle the situation.

Maybe you understand our hearts, our fears. Maybe you are begging God for direction with us. Maybe you are struggling to clear the distractions from your mind to make sense of life.

If so, can we just pray together and ask God to give us wisdom and direction?

Lord Jesus, our hearts are heavy and burdened. This life is so often hard and painful, more than we know how to handle. And we don’t want to handle this life on our own! We need you. We need you to open our eyes, to illuminate the path you have for us.

We are in one of those situations where there is no easy answer. No matter which way we go, the pain will be immense. Our minds are all over the place with no clarity. We don’t even know how to pray at this time.

Thank you that you are seated at the right hand of the throne of God making intercession for us with groans that we cannot understand (Romans 8:26)! We are without words, without directions. We are lost and confused in this situation. We don’t know what to say. But what a beautiful promise to know that when we don’t know how to pray, you are praying for us…you the author and perfecter of our faith…you the One who knows our future. Thank you that you love us enough to say the words we cannot find at this time.

You tell us your word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Psalm 119:105). Would you please shine your light clearly on the path we need to take? Would you use your word to tell us which direction we should go? We need your direction. We don’t want to make this decision on our own. We are desperate to hear from you, desperate to know your will for our situation. Be a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day, moving before us to show us the way.

You have promised that you will fight for us, that we just need to be still (Exodus 14:14). Help us to be still long enough to hear you. Go before us and prepare the way. Go behind us and protect us. Walk beside us as we move forward.

Father, You tell us your yoke is easy and your burden is light (Matthew 11:30). I believe you. This burden is so heavy, so unbearable. But we run to you, begging you to carry it for us, to help us yoke together with you so you will bear the burden.

Show us how to cast our cares on you because we know you care for us (1 Peter 5:8). This burden has been ongoing, a constant dripping in our minds. We keep casting it on you, but it seems that we always end up carrying it again. That’s not what we want. We want you to take it from us. We don’t want it any longer.

We ask that our righteousness would shine like the dawn and the justice of our cause like the noonday sun (Psalm 34:6-7). You know our hearts. You know we want nothing more than to be a light for you. You know we want your best for everyone involved in this situation. You know we have done our best to walk in righteousness, to live as you would have us to. Let our righteousness shine for all to see.

As we run to you, help us to get our minds focused on you so that your perfect peace can guard our hearts and minds in you (Isaiah 26:3). Father, we know you are our friend, our helper, our comforter. We know you are our peace. We know that when we lose ourselves in you, you wrap us in your peace that surpasses all understanding. Guard us.

Help us not to worry about this situation or anything else. Instead, help us to pray about everything (Philippians 4:6). And help us to focus our minds on all of the blessings you have given us, all of the beauty you pour out on us each and every day. Help us to remember your mercies are new every morning. How great is your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23)!

Father, we thank you that we are not alone on this journey called life. We thank you that you are our guide for every step we take. We thank you that you are Sovereign over everything we face, that you have already overcome! Thank you that we are victors in you!

We commit this day, this decision, to you and trust you to live through us. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Toxic People

From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead.

But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!”

Jesus turned to Peter and said, Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” Matthew 16:21-23

These words have been ringing through my ears in the last week.

Get behind me, Satan.”

The words run through my brain over and over as I reflect on a recent experience. Toxic people trying to distract me from my calling. Individuals who think they know how to live my life better than I do. People who think they know what God has for me even when they’ve never met me.

The truth is toxic people are all around us. I’ve been in toxic work environments. I’ve had a toxic marriage. I’ve had toxic friends. I’ve had toxic readers.

And sometimes we have to stop and say to these toxic people, “Get behind me, Satan.”

As I have removed a number of toxic people and situations from my life in the last few months, I feel a tremendous sense of relief…of strength…of power…of courage. Mostly, I feel the Father tell me I’ve done well, I’ve made the decision to remain steadfast in my calling. I’ve made the decision to see things from God’s point of view.

It’s never easy to handle toxic people, but it is necessary. Even Jesus chose to put one of his nearest and dearest friends in the category of toxic, and he did what was necessary to handle the situation. He didn’t end his friendship with Peter, but he did very clearly call him out on his limited perspective.

What can we learn from Jesus about dealing with toxic people in our lives?

Jesus was close enough to His Father to know His will. It’s easy for us to look at Jesus, the perfect son of God, and know that he was doing his Father’s will. We know how often he got away to a solitary place to pray. We know He was constantly connected to the Father and was confident in what God had called him to do and be.

What an amazing example he gave us! However, none of us is Jesus. We are humans. We do make mistakes in our walks with God. BUT… only we are truly able to discern God’s will for our lives. We know His will by walking with him, by spending time with him. We know his will by following Jesus’s example of getting away to a solitary place to pray. We know his will by abiding in Him daily.

If we are going to deal with toxic people in our lives, we must be steadfast in our relationship with our Heavenly Father so we know His calling on our lives.  

Jesus was focused on His calling. Jesus knew exactly what His Father was asking of him. He knew the path He had to walk, and He refused to take his eyes off that calling. He was steadfast, focused. He was passionate and determined to follow His Father no matter the cost.

Peter thought he knew what God wanted from Jesus, and he tried to change Jesus’s mind. He didn’t want to see his friend suffer, die. He had a vision of what Jesus would do, of how Jesus would be the Savior of his people.

But his vision wasn’t the same as that of the Father. He was looking only from a human perspective. Jesus, however, knew exactly where he was going, why he was doing it. He knew the calling on his life and refused to be distracted, deterred from the path he was walking.

He was steadfast in his calling, with a single-minded devotion to the will of His Father.

And we must be the same. When we are walking close to God so we know His will, we will have a determination, a focus, on that calling—and we cannot allow toxic people to distract us from following Him.

Jesus dealt strongly with toxic people. “Get behind me, Satan,” he said to one of his nearest and dearest friends. Jesus didn’t allow people to distract him. He didn’t allow them to get into his mind or under his skin. He called it like it was.

Have you ever had a toxic person? That person who makes snide comments? The one who is always negative? The one who thinks he/she knows more about your life than you do? The one who thinks he/she knows what God is calling you to better than you do?

It’s time to deal with them. Don’t sweep it under the rug. Don’t let it eat at you. Do whatever is necessary to remove the toxicity from your life. Life is too short to waste it worrying about those people who will never be satisfied, the ones who can only see from a human point of view.

Who is your toxic person? A boss? A family member? A friend? A spouse? Is it someone you need to completely remove from your life? Or, like Jesus, is it someone who is normally on your side but is just going the wrong way for now?

How do we deal with toxic people? I think it all depends on the situation. Jesus called Peter out, made sure he knew how wrong he was. But… Jesus didn’t cut Peter out of his life. I think Peter had enough of a relationship with God that he was able to see the error of his ways when Jesus spoke truth to him. Eventually, Peter’s eyes were opened and he became the rock upon which the church was built.

Not everyone will see the error of their ways. Some people have to be cut completely out. Blocked. Removed completely from our lives. Maybe one day they will repent and we can restore them. Maybe not. Only you will be able to determine if and when you can allow someone back into your life. We can most definitely pray for those toxic people to see the error of their ways, for God to bring truth to light.

Sadly, we will encounter many toxic people in this life. We have to be discerning enough to recognize toxic people and bold enough to deal with them—whatever the cost.

Lord Jesus, you know the toxicity in my life and in the lives of those near to me. I pray you would help us to walk so closely to you that we are completely convinced of your calling on our lives. Help us to remain focused on you in spite of those people trying to distract us. Give us wisdom to recognize the toxic people and the boldness to deal with them swiftly. Protect our hearts as we strive to follow you more closely, more intimately, every single day. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

God Size Dreams

Three years ago, I wrote a book. I know without a doubt God put it on my heart, called me to write it. I know I did it exactly when He wanted me to write it.

But I never imagined what would happen next.

I had the book at the publishers, ready to start pushing it through to completion. And that’s when my ex-husband passed away suddenly. I immediately called the publisher and pulled the plug on the project. I just didn’t feel right publishing a book about his affair that soon after his death. I couldn’t do that to his family, to my kids, to him.

Here we are three years later. The book has been on my computer—unread and untouched—since April of 2016. God has been stirring in my heart about this book, about its future.

Last November, I attended the BLAST Next Level conference with Shannon Ethridge. The last few years, my passion had waned as I was overwhelmed with life—a new marriage, kids graduating high school, illness, and so much more. But when I was with Shannon and this group of AMAZING ladies, God reignited my passion. He reconfirmed His calling on my life. He reminded me about this book I have setting on my computer.

At the recommendation of Shannon, I reached out to Redemption Press this last week. Of course, I had a neat little timetable for publishing my book—this year I was focusing on getting my Masters in Life Coaching and I wanted to time the release of the book with the completion of my Masters degree.

But God…

It seems God might have other plans. Isn’t that just like Him? He loves to come in and mess up our neat little plans and do things HIS way and in HIS time.

Ugh…

And that’s where we find ourselves in a crisis of belief. Will I believe God? Will I trust Him to complete this project in His time and in His way? Will I join Him where He is working? Will I take that step of obedience—and risk looking the complete fool—to do things His way?

So here I sit today. Asking for God’s direction. Asking for His provision. Asking that He will help my unbelief.

And now I have to ask that He will help ROY’S unbelief too! Life truly is more complicated when you are married!! (It’s also so much fun, but for now I have to harass him just a little bit…)

Athena Holtz, the Founder and CEO of Redemption Press, wants to push my book through production by August of this year. Eeeekkk!! In addition, Athena wants me to be a featured author on a large Christian women's tour this fall!

As if trying to publish a book in five short months isn’t overwhelming enough, how exciting to be part of a conference that will reach around 20,000 women. I couldn’t contain the tears when the opportunity presented itself.

This is where the whole story becomes a God-sized thing—bigger than anything I could ever ask, hope, or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). I tempted to say it’s impossible, and then I hear God whisper, “I specialize in the impossible. You’ve already said you don’t want to do anything unless it is an obvious God-thing. This is a God thing.”

Now I sit here, facing my crisis of belief. Will I step out in faith? Will I trust Him to do what only He can do? Will I believe that He will provide?

I imagine myself much like Moses:

But Moses said, “Here I am among six hundred thousand men on foot, and you say, ‘I will give them meat to eat for a whole month!’ Would they have enough if flocks and herds were slaughtered for them? Would they have enough if all the fish in the sea were caught for them?”

 The Lord answered Moses, “Is the Lord’s arm too short? Now you will see whether or not what I say will come true for you.”

So Moses went out and told the people what the Lord had said. Numbers 11:21-24

Put yourself in Moses’s place. God has just told him that there will be enough meat to feed all 600,000 Israelites. That’s a God-sized task. Can you imagine what was going through his mind as he stood in front of them and proclaimed they would have meat to eat? Talk about a crisis of belief! I would have been asking God all kinds of questions: Are you sure? I’m putting my reputation on the line here! How do I know you are really going to do this? How do I know this is you telling me these things? This is crazy!

Lord, help my unbelief!!

Right now, I feel much like Moses, wondering if I am crazy, if God is crazy, if He will come through. I find myself begging God to help my unbelief.

So where do we go from here?

Each and every one of you is an answer to my prayer. You have no idea how much you mean to me, how much you have helped me heal. I covet your friendship, your support.

How can you support me?

  1. Pray for me. Pray that I have faith to believe God for what He is asking me to do. Pray He will provide for me. Pray He gives me the stamina to push things through on His timetable and not mine.
  2. If you have the ability and feel led to do so, I ask you to go to my website https://denajohnson.com/the-vision-of-dena-johnson-ministries/ and donate to my ministry. I have God-sized dreams! I want to buy homes and allow single moms to live in them while I provide life-coaching. I want to give in ways I’ve never been able to give before. I want to see this project through to completion. I want to see God do what only He can do. And, the cost to publish a book these days (unless you are a well-established author) is quite expensive. Please remember Dena Johnson Ministries is a 501(c)3 organization and all donations are tax-deductible.
  3. Pray some more. I can’t start to tell you how much I covet your prayers right now. Be my Aaron and Hur, holding up my arms to call on God’s power. You are needed. You are loved.

You all are such an amazing part of this journey, and I wouldn’t be where I am without you. I look forward to sharing with you just how God provides for this crazy, God-sized dream.

Lord, Help my unbelief. Here I sit on the cusp of a miracle and I find myself doubting you will be faithful. Why? I am (sadly) so much like the Israelites, seeing you do mighty miracles in front of me and yet turning the corner and doubting you. Forgive me. This is a God-sized dream, a miracle only you can make happen. Show up and show off so I can proclaim your faithfulness! In Jesus name I pray, amen

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