Isolated, but not alone

I know this past year has been a struggle for most of us. I know it has for me.

A lot of things were shaken and in the shaking there was loss. But I would rather think of it as pruning.

Spiritually, there are two choices: Give in and give up or press in and believe.

For me, this time gave me a greater appreciation of God’s faithfulness and provision. Even in the deafening noise of depression and fear, God’s peace broke through and carried me.

The slogan “we are all in this together” is an oxymoron, but I can say we are not alone because God is faithful and always with us. He does not abandon His own.

If you are feeling like your faith is weak and you have quit praying because you don’t believe He hears you, then I want to share this with you. Take your time, quiet yourself, and read this truth from 2 Peter 1

To those who have received and possess [by God’s will] a precious faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: Grace and peace [that special sense of spiritual well-being] be multiplied to you in the [true, intimate] knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.  For His divine power has bestowed on us [absolutely] everything necessary for [a dynamic spiritual] life and godliness, through true and personal knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.  For by these He has bestowed on us His precious and magnificent promises [of inexpressible value], so that by them you may escape from the immoral freedom that is in the world because of disreputable desire, and become sharers of the divine nature. 

For this very reason, applying your diligence [to the divine promises, make every effort] in [exercising] your faith to, develop moral excellence, and in moral excellence, knowledge (insight, understanding),  and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, steadfastness, and in your steadfastness, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly affection, and in your brotherly affection, [develop Christian] love [that is, learn to unselfishly seek the best for others and to do things for their benefit]. 

For as these qualities are yours and are increasing [in you as you grow toward spiritual maturity], they will keep you from being useless and unproductive in regard to the true knowledge and greater understanding of our Lord Jesus Christ.  For whoever lacks these qualities is blind—shortsighted [closing his spiritual eyes to the truth], having become oblivious to the fact that he was cleansed from his old sins. 

Therefore, believers, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you [be sure that your behavior reflects and confirms your relationship with God]; for by doing these things [actively developing these virtues], you will never stumble [in your spiritual growth and will live a life that leads others away from sin]; for in this way entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly provided to you.

Let us take full advantage of this time that we have to draw closer to Him. Do not be isolated, but close yourself in with Jesus. Open your Bible and study His word. Develop a rich prayer life and enjoy the privilege He has given us to go into the Holiest place and commune with our Father. If you struggle, He is there to help you. His Spirit will lead, guide, and teach you.

My friend, this is the time to press into Him. The world is in upheaval, but you do not have to be. Get ready, Jesus is coming.

Be Free & Stay Free

Willful Ignorance

image from iStock

Willful Ignorance: Choosing to be ignorant. Not heeding warnings, unbelief, ignoring the signs of the time, unrepentance.

It is like watching a movie, a good movie, full of action and drama, and it moves you. After the movie you talk about it, “Hey, did you see…” For awhile you think about it, feel it.

Then life happens, and you are no longer wrapped in the emotion, or feeling, of the movie. You were a witness to the movie. You were an audience to the movie. But it was just a movie.

The actors in the movie may have won awards for their portrayal of the character they played, but after the accolades quiet down, the award will sit on a shelf and gather dust. Maybe once in awhile they will look at the trophy and remember the character, their 7 minutes of fame, but it was just a character they played on the screen.

The day is coming, and for some that day has already come…

Willful ignorance, especially in the western church where we are able to freely assemble together (although even this right is being stripped away), pray, read the Bible, and serve, will be the demise of many.

The self-professed “Christian” will go where they are comfortable, noticed, recognized by people, coddled by big screens with the lyrics and verse in big print so they do not have to look in their own Bible (assuming they even have one). As if salvation comes through osmosis. They show up on Sunday morning and leave unchanged, never reading the Bible on their own, never searching scripture for themselves, always taking and never giving, even their offering in the offering plate is a mere “trophy” as evidence they were present, but their heart is far away.

Their willful ignorance will leave them grinding and gnashing their teeth, because they did not search Him while He could be found.

If you can spend hours scrolling through social media, reading the news, debating politics, copy paste and share the days debauchery, but will not pick up your Bible, or share your faith beyond a meme, and/or you can stay up all hours of the night with Netflix but are too tired to pray… then this post is for you.

Turn back now. Repent. Do not waste the gift He has given you. Jesus is coming back soon; I hope you are ready.

But understand this, that in the last days dangerous times [of great stress and trouble] will come [difficult days that will be hard to bear]. For people will be lovers of self [narcissistic, self-focused], lovers of money [impelled by greed], boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane, [and they will be] unloving [devoid of natural human affection, calloused and inhumane], irreconcilable, malicious gossips, devoid of self-control [intemperate, immoral], brutal, haters of good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of [sensual] pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of [outward] godliness (religion), although they have denied its power [for their conduct nullifies their claim of faith]. Avoid such people and keep far away from them. For among them are those who worm their way into homes and captivate morally weak and spiritually-dwarfed women weighed down by [the burden of their] sins, easily swayed by various impulses, always learning and listening to anybody who will teach them, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 2 Timothy 3:1-7 (Amplified)

For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine and accurate instruction [that challenges them with God’s truth]; but wanting to have their ears tickled [with something pleasing], they will accumulate for themselves [many] teachers [one after another, chosen] to satisfy their own desires and to support the errors they hold, and will turn their ears away from the truth and will wander off into myths and man-made fictions [and will accept the unacceptable]. But as for you, be clear-headed in every situation [stay calm and cool and steady], endure every hardship [without flinching], do the work of an evangelist, fulfill [the duties of] your ministry.

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure [from this world] is at hand and I will soon go free. I have fought the good and worthy and noble fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith [firmly guarding the gospel against error]. In the future there is reserved for me the [victor’s] crown of righteousness [for being right with God and doing right], which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that [great] day—and not to me only, but also to all those who have loved and longed for and welcomed His appearing. 2 Timothy 4:3-8 (Amplified)

Be Free & Stay Free

Open Our Eyes

On Monday evenings I gather with a group of ladies for a Bible study and prayer. It is such a sweet time of fellowship with my sisters when we lift each other up, encourage each other, and pray for our nation, our unsaved loved ones, and each other’s needs.

The consensus in prayer this past Monday was to know Jesus more and to go deeper in our relationship with Him. We had a wonderful time in worship and calling out to God. It is a wonderful promise, when two or three of Jesus’ followers are gathered in His name, He is there in the midst of us.

For where two or three are gathered in My name [meeting together as My followers], I am there among them.”

When we hunger and thirst for Him, we are hungering for spiritual nourishment that only He can fill, and it is His good pleasure to satisfy our hunger.

We are living in an age when the enmity of the world against God is loud and clear. It is as though the devil is not even afraid to show his hand anymore. What use to make man blush is now paraded down the street, across the television screens, in our social media feeds, and written in bold headlines across the evening news. Isaiah speaks about these days when he says, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; they put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”

May God give us eyes to see.

Mathew tells us about two blind men who wanted to see. (emphasis mine)

As they (Jesus and His disciples) were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed Him.  And two blind men were sitting by the road, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David (Messiah)!” The crowd sternly told them to be quiet, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, Son of David (Messiah) have mercy on us!”  Jesus stopped and called them, and asked, “What do you want Me to do for you?” They answered Him, “Lord, we want our eyes to be opened.”  Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes; and immediately they regained their sight and followed Him [as His disciples].

We are the blind men sitting on the sidelines. We want more of God! We are tired of crumbs and we are starving for the Living Bread to fill us. We want to know and see Him! We know we are called, we know He is near, and we know there is more.

We call out to Him, “Lord, don’t pass us by, we need You!

But the crowd… the social obligations, worries, fear, family, government, political correctness, lack, the past, insecurities … you get the point, right. What (or who) is it that is hindering you from calling out?

I believe Jesus heard the two blind men call out the first time. I mean, they had to be kind of loud for the crowd to try to silence them. But it wasn’t until the two men refused to be silenced and called out even louder that Jesus stopped. Even the blind men knew who Jesus was, they just couldn’t see. They heard Jesus (or heard of Jesus) and they BELIEVED He, and only He, could give them sight.

Their persistence moved Jesus with compassion. Obviously these two men were serious. They were not satisfied with just hearing about what God was doing. They may have even been tired of going to cold prayer meetings and stoic churches and being entertained with lip service and messages that had no power. These men were hands down going after Jesus for themselves.

Listen! God is not hiding from us. He has gone through great extremes through His death and resurrection so that we may know His compassion, His great love for us, that we may know there is real power in His name, so we may call on Him and He will answer.

Jesus is not fooled. He knows when we are truly seeking Him. His kingdom is for those who will lay down their life and trust in Him that He will give you eternal life. Look around you, everything you see is temporary. Pinch your skin, even that will be buried in the ground one day. But YOU! It is YOU He came for, to give you eternal life, with Him, and only through Him.

Take note, after Jesus touched their eyes, they immediately regained their sight and followed Him.

That is the difference. He opened their eyes, and they became His disciples and followed Him.

Dear Reader, are you calling out to God? Are you hungering for Him? Do you want to know Him more? Do you want to follow Him? Are you willing to go against the crowd and refuse to be silenced anymore? Because if you are then you are seeking a good thing. And yes, He will answer you!

Go after Him, my friend. The harvest is ripe and the laborers are few.

But How Do You Find Him?
  • Through His word. You MUST read your Bible daily. It Is food to your soul. You can not live without eating. What? You don’t like to read? Then ask yourself just how much do you want to know Him? The blind men couldn’t see to read and yet they cried out even more. You MUST read your Bible. Only through knowing His word will you know the truth. In a day when lies are called truth and truth lies, you MUST know for yourself.
  • Pray! The Bible calls us His Bride. Now, think of marriage here in the natural… if the two do not communicate on the regular then that relationship is weakened and you will not know the gift of oneness. The marriage may not end in divorce, but I guarantee you the couple will never experience the beauty of pure love and knowing each other. Through prayer we grow closer to Jesus. We talk and He listens, then He talks and we listen, it is a fellowship, a love relationship, and it has the power to transform us into His image, we truly become one with Him. Think about it, the God who created EVERYTHING, knows you and wants you to know Him.
  • Fellowship with other believers. There is benefit to being together with the family of Christ. We edify one another. We watch out for each other. We strengthen each other. The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10: Two are better than one, because they have good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow, but woe to him that is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.”
  • Serve! Yes, that’s right, serve. Be His hands and feet. Can I share something with you, anytime you serve, help someone, it is really you that reaps the benefit. Yes, God may have used you to help meet the need of another, but you are never more like Jesus than when you serve, when you love, and when you give.

So, are you ready?

Father, I thank You for Your Holy Spirit who calls us and gives a hunger to know You more. I ask You to open our eyes so we may see Your glory and grant us the honor of serving You and taking part of the work You are doing. Breathe on us the breath of revival and may all come to know You as Lord and Savior. We do not want to sit on the sidelines, we want to be active participants. Baptize us in Your Holy Spirit so that we may be empowered to be bold witnesses for You. Let Your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Do you want more of Him? Let me know in the comments.

Be Blessed!

Be Free & Stay Free

Breaking Free from the Narcissus

There is a story in Greek Mythology about a handsome hunter. This man was so good looking, but apparently lacked integrity in his character. When he came across a stream one day, he saw his own reflection and fell in love with himself. Yes, Narcissus was so smitten with himself, he didn’t need a boo, he had no desire for romantic relationships, he only wanted to be admired, just as he admired himself. As you can probably imagine, Narcissus was so enamored with himself, he lacked empathy for any other, because it was all about him, after all.  

Along comes Echo, she was a chatty Cathy, and crafty with distractions, and this caused her to be cursed. So, the only words she could speak was to repeat the recently spoken words of another person.

She saw Narcissus hunting with his companions and she fell in love with him. Infatuated with him she followed him, longing to call out to him, but because of the curse she could not.

One day Narcissus sensed someone following him, he called out, “Who’s there?”

Echo repeated, “Who’s there?”

“Come here!” Narcissus called out.

“Come here!” Echo answered.

Narcissus assumed whoever was answering him must be walking in the opposite direction, so again he called out. “This way, we must come together.”

Echo, in her excitement and misunderstanding, she repeated, “We must come together.”

She ran to Narcissus, threw her arms around her beloved, only to be rejected by Narcissus. Appalled, Narcissus pushed Echo away, and said, “Hands off! May I die before you enjoy my body!”

Scorned, humiliated, and ashamed, all Echo could respond with was, “Enjoy my body,” before she fled.

Despite his rejection, Echo’s love for Narcissus only grew stronger.  When Narcissus died, gazing at his own reflection, his final words to himself were, “Oh, marvelous boy, I loved you in vain. Farewell.”

“Farewell,” Echo repeated, as she mourned over his body. Eventually, Echo, too, began to waste away. Her beauty faded, her skin shriveled, and her bones turned to stone. It is said, today, all that remains of Echo is her voice.

Although the story is Greek mythology, it is a classic tale of a narcissist in any relationship, and what could happen to the unfortunate soul who is on the receiving…er, non-receiving end of the relationship.

Have you ever loved someone who could not reciprocate your love? Perhaps in the beginning of your relationship as things began to progress, and you became entangled in the “relationship,” you heard what you wanted to hear, and ignored what would appear obvious to outsiders looking in, to the cost of your own injury?

Most of us want to believe that we are good judge of character. We tend to take people at face value, and we trust them. We know there is evil in the world, but we never want to believe that we could ever be fooled, or that we could fall in love with someone who is evil, or at the least “controlled by evil.”

It usually isn’t until the relationship has ran its course (several times) that you realize you have invested yourself in something that will never bring you a return. This kind of relationship is doomed from the beginning, but you just did not want to believe it. You hold on, believing your love will melt the ice in their heart and they will soon realize you are “worthy” of their love and affections. As if you need to prove your worth to anyone (I will talk about that in another post).

Sadly, when the relationship has finally ended, you discover the only one who changed was you. You are no longer the person you used to be, rather you have become a shell of empty, numb, confusion, and grief. Does this sound like you? If it does, you are not alone and there is no need to feel ashamed, I have been there, and I hope what I have learned through the journey of healing will help you.

Over the past couple years, I have noticed an increase in the word “narcissist” when someone was describing the breakdown and break-up of a relationship. I usually take things with a grain of salt, there are always two sides to every story, and people say and do stupid things when they are hurt. I mean, just because the relationship ended, or someone was rejected, does not necessarily mean the other person is a narcissist, right.

When you keep seeing something over and over again, there must be something to it.

This I can say, through experience, narcissism is real. If you have ever been caught up in a relationship with a true narcissist, then you know the damage it can do to your soul. No one wants to believe the person they love could be so… twisted, evil, uncaring, unempathetic, calculating, cruel. In the beginning you didn’t see it, or if we are honest with ourselves, you didn’t want to believe what you were seeing, because the signals were so mixed. The continuous cycles of love bombing, devaluation, gaslighting, ghosting, and discard, can utterly destroy you.

The Bible has something to say about this in 2 Timothy 3:15:
But understand this, that in the last days dangerous times [of great stress and trouble] will come [difficult days that will be hard to bear]. For people will be lovers of self [narcissistic, self-focused], lovers of money [impelled by greed], boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane,  [and they will be] unloving [devoid of natural human affection, calloused and inhumane], irreconcilable, malicious gossips, devoid of self-control [intemperate, immoral], brutal, haters of good,  traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of [sensual] pleasure rather than lovers of God,  holding to a form of [outward] godliness (religion), although they have denied its power [for their conduct nullifies their claim of faith]. Avoid such people and keep far away from them.

Now read that again. The warning in this scripture is not just about people in the world, it’s also about people in the church.

If you love the Lord and are called by God, then you better believe the devil wants to kill, steal, and destroy EVERYTHING in, around, and about you. We know the devil is no match for God. And we also know the Bible tells us the Holy Spirit within us is greater than the devil. But on your own, the devil will annihilate you. He has been studying you from day one and he knows your weakness, and he will use it to gain entrance.

This is why you must be vigilant and pray God give you discernment. Not everything that glitters is gold, and the devil can appear as an angel of light, or a sweet talking, Bible thumping, good looking, man (or woman). You do not want to get tripped up.

Narcissus was so enamored with himself, the only use he had for Echo was to repeat back to him his delusions of grandeur. Of course, to keep Echo in her place he had to cut her down to size, make her question her own reality, and work on her already broken self-identity. Eventually, Echo had no voice of her own, even after Narcissus died (or discarded her) she was still tied to him (his image) and she was just a shell of a person.

All of her dreams? Dead!
Her gifts? Forgotten!
Her youth? Shriveled up!
Confidence? Replaced with fear and insecurity!
Joy? Strangled by depression!
Friends and Family? Distanced or gone!
Prayer Life? Non-existent!

Does this sound like you? If it does, look up, because I have some good news for you.

Narcissus never could have loved Echo. It was not in his make-up. We don’t have to psychoanalyze him, wonder what happened to him to cause him to be this way, feel bad for him, or even try to fix him. No amount of love, affection, words, adoration, or a hundred second chances will ever change his heart and mind. Only God can change him.  So, if you are holding on and hoping… stop.

You can’t change another person, but you can change you.

You can wreck your brain trying to figure out what went wrong. Ruminating thoughts will cause you more injury. I know, believe me, I know.

Steps to healing from a narcissistic/toxic relationship:
  1. Admit to yourself it is over. It is done. Even if you don’t feel glad about it, remind yourself it is a good thing that it ended, because now you can begin the process of healing and wholeness. Remember, you are a whole person, you do not complete someone else and someone else does not complete you.
  2. Journal. Write it down. Get it out! Journaling, especially prayer journaling, can help you. After you have wrote on the pages, close the book for the day, and purpose to not carry what you wrote down around with you. Leave it in the journal.
  3. Pray! Jesus never stopped loving you. In fact, you could even consider it a gift from Him that the toxic relationship ended, and the person was removed. Be open and honest, God knows anyway. The Bible tells us to cast ALL our cares on Jesus because He cares for us.
  4. Repent for sins you have committed, because let’s be honest, none of us are completely innocent. Maybe you said or did some things in the relationship that you know are not right. A toxic relationship can cause even the kindest person to lash out and be hateful at times.
  5. Forgive. This may be a hard one. You may have to forgive the person seven times seventy times. But I promise you, it is worth it. It doesn’t justify the abuse you endured, it doesn’t make the other person “right,” but it will free you from the ties that keep you chained to the emotional injuries. And it’s what Jesus tells us to do.
  6. Get help. A break-up, or divorce, from a toxic narcissistic relationship/marriage, is not like a “normal” dissolution. Unless someone has experienced the very real assault against your soul, they may not understand why you can’t “just get over it.” They will not understand what a trauma bond is, how it was formed, or how to break free from it. Seek help from a therapist who has experience in narcissistic abuse recovery. For true and lasting help, seek help from a Christian therapist, because the trauma you experienced from a narcissist came from the demonic and only God can free you from that.
  7. Do not isolate yourself. Get connected with the church again. There is a reason why Hebrews tells us to not forsake gathering with other believers. We need each other for comfort, encouragement, accountability, and safety. The relationship you escaped from already separated you from those who care about you. Get back out there! Reconnect. The people who love you will understand and be happy to welcome you back. Do not be ashamed.
  8. Take care of yourself. Get rest but be careful not to sleep “too much.” Make healthy food choices, avoid the comfort foods of sugar. Wake up and get dressed. Exercise and let the endorphins do what they are supposed to do. Be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up. It will take time, even a small step is still a step, just keep taking those steps.
  9. Read your Bible. The Bible is God’s word to us. In the Bible you will find strength, instruction, and encouragement. His word is food to our hungry souls. His word will show you who He is AND who you are. When you know who you are in Christ and how much He loves you and values you and has given you great worth, then you will come through this whole and healed. He will renew your strength and restore your joy. And you will never be easy prey again to the narcissistic spirit.  
  10. Examine yourself. Through prayer, reading your Bible, and counsel, ask God to show you why you were susceptible to the narcissist. In most cases, if we have an injury from the past, it does show up in our choices of who we allow close to us. This does not mean there is something wrong with you, it means there is something that made you vulnerable, and God will show you and He will walk (carry) you through the process of healing that old wound.
  11. Choose your inner circle wisely. Not everyone will understand what you have just come through. Surround yourself with people who speak life to you. You don’t need a group of complainers who will agree with your hurt or tear the other person down. You need people who speak life into you and gently move you forward.
  12. Go and stay no contact. I know, easier said than done, but it is for your own good. You can not go back to your place of injury and expect to find healing. If you did cave to a moment of weakness, don’t beat yourself up, recommit to no contact and move on. It may mean deleting phone numbers, changing your number, erasing emails, blocking him/her on social media, whatever you have to do to put a barrier between you and the person, do it.
  13. Forgive yourself. This is just as important as forgiving the other person. When you have been in a toxic relationship for any length of time you may have hurt other people or done things you are not proud of. Apologize to anyone you may have hurt, and then let it go. If God forgave you, then you can forgive you. The Bible says there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. Unforgiveness aligns you with the destroyer. So, break that agreement now and come under the umbrella of Christ and walk in freedom.

I believe with all my heart that Jesus is coming back soon. This is why we are seeing an increase of the narcissistic spirit. It is in our churches, our families, our government, on the streets, social media… it is everywhere. It is an anti-Christ spirit, and it has launched a full-scale attack on God’s people. It is destroying marriages, families, and ministries.

My prayer for you, dear reader, is that you may find your source of comfort, peace, and purpose in Jesus. I pray that you stay so close to God that the enemy cannot come near you. I pray your heart stays tender in the face of a world gone hard and hateful. I pray you answer the voice of Wisdom and God grant you discernment, and you rise up and take your place in the kingdom of God in all His righteousness and fight the good fight of faith.

I hope this helped you. If you need prayer, I would be happy to pray for and with you. You connect with me by clicking HERE or email stacey@crookedplacesstraight.com

If you are a survivor of a narcissistic relationship, please leave a comment and share with us your experience and how you overcame.

Be Free & Stay Free

A Runaways Journey to Salvation

I wrote this story for women, young and old, and youth, who have experienced rejection, especially by those who are suppose to love them. Rejection can leave a scar not seen by the human eye, but is felt in the soul.

The young girl in this story is longing to belong, to be loved and accepted. Just like this young girl, in the search for a place to belong, the fear of rejection will rob you of your true identity.

No matter what, or who, you are running from, there is One who calls you to Him. There is One who’s love is so pure it can heal your deepest wound, and restore your hope and joy.

My prayer is, if you are running, you come home.

I am happy to take part in Read An Ebook Week, sponsored by Smashwords. You can purchase my story by clicking HERE, for just $2.50, The sale ends March 13th. Buy it for yourself, or as a gift. Help me share a young runaway’s story to salvation.

Be Free & Stay Free

A Dying Nation

What if the condition of our nation is not the fault of politicians, political parties, China, Russia, Antifa, media, racism, or rigged elections? What if we are the problem?

A lot of people quote 2 Chronicles 7:14, but I wonder…

Let’s start with verse 13: “If I shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or if I command locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence and plague among My people…”

Who is the “I” in this verse? This may surprise a lot of people who do not actually read and know the God of the Bible, but it is God. God said this.

“What do you mean that God will send locust, pestilence, and plague? That doesn’t sound like a loving God.”

God is more concerned about your soul and the soul of a nation than He is about our comfort. You see, we have it backwards when we think God only loves us and is good to us when everything is going the way we want it to.

We get all wrapped up in our own little worlds we built for ourselves, guarded by the walls we erected of entertainment, solitude, our own agendas, money, you fill in the blank. All of these distractions are just that… distractions. Isn’t the devil a sly one?

How is this for distorted thinking:
Things are going bad and we feel the pressure. It must be the devil.
Things are going good and I’m not feeling any demands. It must be God.

Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

If My people. You hear that? God says, “If MY people.”

Verse 14: “and My people, who are called by My Name, humble themselves, and pray and seek (crave, require as a necessity) My face and turn from their wicked ways,” …

This is the same God who delivered His people from the bondage of Egypt, led them by a cloud by day and fire by night, fed them Manna from heaven, parted the sea so they could cross over on dry land to escape Pharaoh’s army, gave them water from a rock, wrote with His very own hand His 10 Commandments…

This is the same God who after delivering His people, let them wander in the wilderness for 40 years because they couldn’t quit complaining and doubting Him. Kind of sounds like us, huh?

We can quote scripture all day and every day, but until we embrace the Spirit, humble ourselves and repent… well we are just going to keep on walking around the mountain, in the wilderness, and never come close to receiving His promise to us, His people.

The world is doing what the world does. Are we so in the world that we forget we are not of the world?

Aren’t you glad the condition of the world is not a prerequisite for God’s promises fulfilled?

The condition of His church, His people, those of us who ARE called by His name, WE are the one’s who are blocking His blessings on our nation. It’s not the politicians, the government, the far-left, China, Russia, the media, covid 19, the president, etc… 

It doesn’t matter who the president is, as long as God’s people continue to live like the rest of the world, then we should not expect anything to get better. If our hearts are not right, then we should not expect that the times will be any less dark. We can get mad all we want, we can point fingers and place blame on everyone else, we can form committees and even march the streets of Washington DC, we can hold rallies, and quote scripture all day long, we can even post cute memes on our Facebook, but until we are ready to lay down the idolatry of self-comfort, self-importance, pride, bitterness, stubbornness, hypocrisy, then we are in great danger.

Of course, His Holy Spirit is the One who leads sinners to repentance for salvation. But in this verse, He is calling for repentance from His people.  

Verse 14 continues… “THEN I will hear them from heaven, and forgive their sin and heal their land.”

IF and THEN! You get it? Do you understand? IF and THEN!

Church, the days are growing short and it is getting dark. Take inventory. Ask Holy Spirit to grant you discernment to know what is hindering you from truly seeking the Lord. What is stopping you from loving God with ALL your heart, ALL your soul, and ALL your mind. Unless you can give Him ALL, you can give Him nothing.

We can not change the direction our nation is going on our own. We need help! Our only help comes from the Lord!

Look again at verse 13: “If I shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or if I command locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence and plague among My people”

Does He have our attention yet?

Be Free & Stay Free

Resist the Enemy, Not the Storm

You can not fight a storm. But you can prepare for a storm and you can survive a storm.
I lived in South Florida for a few years, so I know how to prepare for a storm, especially in hurricane season.

I take stock and be sure I have plenty of water and food to hold me over, I check my batteries incase power goes out, I secure anything outside that could be caught in high winds and cause more damage, I secure my windows, fill my car with gas incase I need to evacuate, have a go bag ready, let family members know where I am, and plan an exit strategy. Then I hunker down and wait the storm out.

I don’t think there is ever an opportune time for a storm, but it is always best to be prepared and keep your calm. No amount of panic or complaining is going to stop the storm. It is a force to be reckoned with.

BUT! At the end of the storm the clouds do go away, the sun does come out, and even if there is some clean-up to do, you survived.

It’s interesting how we are prepared for the natural storms, but not the spiritual storms.

Different areas are known for certain storms, whether it be hurricane, tornado, flood, or fire. You know what to expect for the region you live in.

Likewise, if you are human then you are going to have some storms in your life. Your storm is going to be personal, but not limited to just you; we ALL have storms. Storms come in the form of an illness, death of a loved one, divorce, loss of a job, a wayward child, loneliness, depression, confusion, fear, anxiety…

Even change can be disconcerting and cause its own type of storm, like a change of life, a new job, a move, new school…

I am going to share something the Lord spoke to me during a personal storm. I was in my favorite chair, reading my Bible and devotional, and then BAM!

“Resist the enemy, not the storm.”

If you have ever been caught in a rip current, then you know the feeling of panic and fear. An inexperienced swimmer tries to swim against the flow of the current, exhausting themselves and increases their chance of drowning. It is a scary thing to be pulled away from shore, but if the swimmer swims at a right angle, across the current, parallel to the shore, they will survive.

Storms in life can feel like you are caught in a rip current; and the current is carrying you away from what is familiar.  You may try to hold on to what (or who) is being pulled away, and you panic, setting your focus on the storm rather than the One who controls the storm. Big mistake! You can no more control a storm than you can catch the wind in your hand. But there is One, and only One, who can control the storm and is never caught off guard. You can be sure no storms come unless He permits it.

“Resist the enemy, not the storm.”

I am thinking about the disciples in the boat with Jesus when a storm broke out. Can you imagine? Waves crashing over the boat, the swells in the sea rising and falling, the sky so dark not a star can be seen, I would be terrified. The disciples were afraid, too. But where was Jesus?

In the Amplified, Matthew tells it this way:

When He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him. And suddenly a violent storm arose on the sea, so that the boat was being covered by the waves; but Jesus was sleeping. And the disciples went and woke Him, saying, “Lord, save us, we are going to die!”

He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was [at once} a great and wonderful calm {a perfect peacefulness}.

The men wondered in amazement, saying, “What kind of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”

Wow! The disciples were caught in a storm, Jesus was in the boat with them, and Jesus calmed the storm.

“Resist the enemy, not the storm.”

When we are in a storm, we are tempted to doubt God’s promises. We are tempted to think He does not notice the storm and we must take matters into our own hands. Or we get scared and think God has abandoned us. Maybe the storm has caused so much pain you look to other supplies of comfort, or you get angry and open your mouth and start acting… well, you know.

You would do well to remember this:

  • The thoughts you are having; you know the ones, the thoughts that paralyze you with fear and doubt, and go against what the word of God says; they are coming from the enemy of God and your soul. You must take captive your thought and resist the enemy.
    2 Corinthians says “The weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood]. Our weapons are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ, being ready to punish every act of disobedience, when your own obedience [as a church] is complete.

The Bible says it this way in James 4:7, “So submit to {the authority of} God. RESIST the devil {stand firm against him} and he will flee from you.

  • God will not leave you alone in the storm. When you are in a storm, this is when He is the closest to you. Do not measure your circumstance by your feelings. Psalm 34:18 encourages us with this promise, “The Lord is near to the heartbroken and He saves those who are crushed in spirit (contrite in their heart, truly sorry for their sin).
  • Just because you are going through an uncomfortable season, and yes, it is painful, but it does not mean that He loves you less. God is a good Father, and if a storm comes it is because He allowed it. You can believe that He will use the storm for your good and His glory, if you let Him. Romans 8:28 tells us, “And we know {with great confidence} that God {who is deeply concerned about us} causes all things to work together {as a plan} for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose.
  • Even Jesus had storms in His life as He walked the earth as man. It would do us well to remember He said in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have {perfect} peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous {be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy}; I have overcome the world.” {My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.}

Friend, no matter what storm you are in, you are not alone, He will carry you through. Do not give in, do not give up. Stand! Make the devil pay for messing with you. Do not give in to your emotions. You will feel the emotions, the emotions are not bad, feel them and give them to Jesus. He knows. He understands. Resist the impulse to do what seems natural, and move in the supernatural, and you can only do this by keeping your focus on Jesus and not the storm.

How do I keep my focus on Jesus?’

Consider Psalm 27, written by a man who had fearless trust in God even when the armies were encamped around him. David knew that only God alone could save him. I recommend reading the whole Psalm, but my favorite verse is 8. David must have asked God the same questions we ask Him, and this was His answer, and this was his response…

“When You said, “Seek My face {in prayer, require My presence as your greatest need},” my heart said to You, “Your face, O Lord, I will seek {on the authority of Your word}.”

Do not try to swim against the current, you will only wear yourself out. Instead, lay back, look up, and let God carry you through. I am not suggesting you sit there like a tree stump, because faith is a verb, I am saying to posture yourself before your God and King, submit yourself to Him, and wait for His instructions and His victory to manifest.

Again, I say, resist the enemy, not the storm.

If this post encouraged you, please hit like, share, and leave a comment below.  

Be Free & Stay Free

God and Mercurochrome

Premium Vector | Boy and girl riding bicycle together, exercise for good  health

I was a tomboy when I was young. I was always outside riding my big wheel or bike, playing baseball, freeze-tag; anything that involved being outside and running.

There was a neighbor boy, Johnny, and we would ride bikes together. I forgot to mention I have a bit of a competitive streak, so naturally when Johnny wanted to have a bike race, I was all for it.

So there we are, racing down the road, our legs pumping, the wind blowing in our face, the imaginary crowd going wild, and I was in the lead. And then it happened…

Bike Crash Cartoon Vector Images (75)

My tire hit a rock and I went flying. Ouch! I was skinned up, my knees were bleeding, my forehead above my eyebrow was bleeding (I still have a little scar), my pride laid in a heap on the ground. Johnny was a good friend; he pushed my bike home for me as I limped down the road crying.

33 Scraped Knee Illustrations, Royalty-Free Vector Graphics & Clip Art -  iStock

As much as the scraped knees and cut forehead hurt, it was nothing compared to the spit fire that was coming. Are you old enough to remember Mercurochrome? It was awful. My father chased me around the house to clean my cuts and apply some good ol’ devils fire to kill any germs. Even with my cries of “No, no, no!” He picked me up, sat me on the kitchen sink, cleaned my cuts, and bandaged me up.

I think I remember this so well because of what happened after. My family didn’t have a lot of money, so anytime we went out to eat it was a special treat. To make me feel better, my father took us out for dinner; and guess what… I got to pick the restaurant! The pain from the bike wreck went away, but one thing that did remain was the memory of the after. My father wasn’t trying to torture me (even though it felt like it at the time), he was helping me. Then to apply the medicine of love he took me out to eat.

God speaks to me when I read the Bible, and as odd as it may sound, He brought this memory back to me with the verse from Jeremiah.

“For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you,” says the Lord, “thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.” -Jeremiah 29:11

Sometimes when our world comes crashing down around us it is easy to think we are being punished. Especially when we know we have to let go of some things… or someone. Or maybe the letting go was not your choice and you are feeling a loss, betrayal, and rejection.

Just like when I was running away from my father so he couldn’t put the “medicine” on my wounds, we run from God. “Please, God, don’t take this (you fill in the blank) from me.” We plead. Even when we know what we are holding on to is hurting us, we are afraid of the pain of healing.

This is what I hear God saying, “I know the plans I have for you, My thoughts are for you, I am for you, and though it may hurt, I promise you if you let go of (you fill in the blank) and give it to me, I will replace it with hope and the final outcome will not be more injury, but healing, wholeness, and purpose.” (My paraphrase of Jeremiah 29:11)

Whatever it is that you are holding on to, and you are afraid to let go because it has become your normal, please know this: Gods plans for you are so much higher than you can ever imagine. And yes it might hurt, the healing process is just that… a process, but if you allow Him to clean your wounds, you will heal and His joy will come. Why? Because with Him you have hope in your final outcome.

Be Free & Stay Free

Guard Your Heart

Guarding your heart; I wonder if we really know what this means. You usually hear people say this when talking to someone about “relationships”. 

The conversation goes something like this:

“I met someone and I am just not sure….”

or “They said they were sorry, but…”

To which the well intentioned, but often misinformed person will respond with:

“OK, but guard your heart.”

To guard your heart in the context well meaning friends advice, is to withhold forgiveness, acceptance, understanding, and love. You see, love is not love if it is given in limited measure, or with stipulations. To guard your heart in this manner is bondage. It is not perfection, and there is no freedom; only moments or cycles of feeling good, happy, contentment. Honestly, it is selfish and fearful.

The Bible says it this way, there is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears is not made perfect in love.

The Bible has much to say about our hearts.

Proverbs 4:23 instructs us to keep our hearts with all diligence, for out of it springs the issues of life.

In the context of scripture, to keep our heart with all diligence is literally more than guarding it. It is to make sure it doesn’t get away (into wild imaginations and/or bitterness), and to keep it safe from attack (not closed to love, but protected from attacks of the enemy that will whisper lies and suspicions).  In Hebrew, the heart is the location of knowledge and the preconscious source of decisions.

Your heart is who you truly are. If you want to test the health of your heart, or know who you truly are, then listen to the words that come from your mouth; out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.

What Is the Perfect Book in the Bible for Those Who Are Afraid? | CBN.com
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. -Psalm 139:23-24

Jesus said He gives us His peace. Now His peace is not like the world. The world can not offer us this kind of peace. His peace passes all understanding, and it is His promise to us no matter the circumstance. When you allow the Holy Spirit to move and operate in your heart, you will soon see that you do not have to keep your heart under lock and key, you will be FREE, to love like Jesus loves, forgive like Jesus forgives, live like Jesus lives, and trust the Father like Jesus does.

So how do you keep your heart? First, you need a new heart, and that can only come through a relationship with the Father through Jesus Christ.

  1. Repent. Stop (sinning) doing the stuff that stands between you and Jesus.
  2. Pray. Talk with Jesus. Be honest with Him about your feelings. Then Listen for Him to speak to you.
  3. Read your Bible. Don’t just read it for the sake of reading it, but study it. I recommend having a pen and pad handy to write down the things that come to your mind, this is a way the Holy Spirit speaks to you. Underline and study the verses that jump out at you.
  4. Meditate on His word. As you go about your day, think about what you read in the Bible. I like to journal and write down scripture that “jumps out” to me, and then I carry that journal in my bag and I read it throughout the day, or when I am at an appointment and waiting; keep it handy.
  5. Put into practice what you are learning from Scripture and your time with the Lord in prayer.

And that, my friend, is what it means to guard your heart. Consecrate your heart to God and you wont get tripped up in the worlds definition of guarding your heart. Now this is peace, real peace.

Be Free & Stay Free

The Problem With Dead Things

woman-by-grave

(This is a rewrite of an old post I wrote on another blog, but still relevant)

I once knew someone who used to carry a corpse around with her. Everywhere she went people would say, “Ew! What is that smell?”

“What smell? I don’t smell anything.” She would answer, as she sprayed perfume into the air.

“It smells like decay.” They would point at the corpse. “Shouldn’t you just bury that thing?”

“Oh no!” She would answer, as she tried to prop the corpse in an upright position. “It’s not dead, it’s just resting.”

Soon people began to avoid her. They would look at her with raised brow as she continued to talk to the corpse and try to feed it.

Her friends would gather together and talk about how someone has got to do something. They wanted to help her, but she refused to acknowledge the corpse was dead. Every time they would invite her places she would slow them down, because a corpse is heavy to carry, after all.

After awhile, even she began to notice the weight of the corpse, and yea, so maybe it did stink… a little. She began to miss her friends and the things she used to do. This dead thing was weighing her down. But, she didn’t know how to let go of it.

As you can imagine, if you carry a dead thing around for awhile, an infection is going to start to set in. This is what was happening with this person. She began to get sick. Her mind got cloudy, she could no longer think about anything else but that stinkin’ corpse. Her heart beat slower and she struggled to even breathe. Sleep eluded her, because it is not very peaceful laying next to a rotting thing.

But she held onto the dead thing for so long that she didn’t know if she could ever get used to life again without it. “It was alive once,” she reasoned, “maybe if I carry it awhile longer it will come back to life.”

The problem with dead things is… well, they are dead. There is no longer life in them. Eventually they will have to be buried. The living can not coincide with the dead. Besides, dead things make bad companions.

Finally she agreed to call the Physician. “Please help me.” She cried. “No matter what I do, I can’t revive this corpse.”

The Physician, with great care and love, looked her in the eyes, and with a gentle hand on her shoulder, said “Give me the corpse and I will heal you. Let Me have it, you were not meant to carry this.”

Slowly, and with much tears, she let go of the corpse. The Physician picked her up and held her. He comforted her with words of love and promise. He replaced the stench of death with the aroma of future. He stood her on her feet and she began to feel her strength renewed. Soon her tears stopped and her grief was replaced with joy.

Do not let the stench of something dead follow you around. Do not be afraid to let go of the corpse you carry. Because, trust, there is life even after death. Let it go. Give it to Him, the Great Physician, Jesus. Only then will your heart and your soul begin to heal.

Be Free & Stay Free