So, I was talking to a friend yesterday, she said her husband said he didn’t even know if there was a heaven anymore. Of course she was concerned. She is a believer and so is he.
Even the great giants in the Bible wrestled with their faith. It is the cry of our heart when we go through the fires to cry out, “God! Are you there?”
I think about Job and the fire he went through. He lost everything and his friends and wife were of no comfort to him. I bet he felt completely alone. I bet he cried out to God and he felt like he was talking to the wall. Because he could not see what and why this was going on. He couldn’t see it, but he felt it. He was attacked head on. Hit him right where it hurt.
How about Elijah? A mighty prophet who called fire down from the sky? Still, he hid in a cave, exhausted, alone, and afraid.
Even Jesus, on the cross, yelled out, “My God, why have You forsaken me?”
There have been so many things in my life where I felt so alone. I felt like God wasn’t hearing me. I felt alone. Loneliness is the worse kind of feeling.
It is times like this when we are just gonna have to buckle down and say, OK, God, I don’t know why, but You do and I choose to trust You. That is what faith is, right? It is not the things we can see with our own eyes. It is the knowing. Faith is the substance of things yet seen, but hoped for.
How about you? Are you there now? Does it feel like the whole world is out to get you? Are the people who you love not there? Are you reliving everything in your thoughts? You know, the what ifs…if only I….?
My dear sister and brother, don’t let go, don’t give up, don’t throw in the towel.
We don’t know why things happen. Even when we think we are doing everything right.We prayed, we listen to that worship music and read the Word. We get on our knees and we cry out…. “God! Are you there? Have You forsaken me?”
If I know nothing else, one thing I do know, God said He will never leave us. He has shown up too mighty and faithfully for me to doubt Him now. This life is temporal, but His life is eternal. This test, this trial, this fire, this is your testimony. He is trusting you with it, because He has a greater purpose for it. Though it did not come from Him, He will turn it around for your good and to His glory.
This is what Job said, though You slay me, I will trust You.
Trust Him. He has a plan for you and He is with you and He is walking this with you and He has a way of escape for you. He is a good Father.
I Believe! (Click here)
Be Free & Stay Free
I think when we think “Christian,” we do not associate it with violence. I mean, the common description of a Christian is someone who is meek, quiet, and somewhat of a push over. I suppose some would even label Christians as people who aren’t really bright, ignorant, and when called radical it is meant in the terms of their “religious belief or activity.” Interesting, isn’t it?
Jesus said we will know Christians by their love. John 13:35 says, By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love and unselfish concern for one another.”
The worlds definition of love is askew. Most would say love is not suppose to hurt your feelings or offend anyone, and if you speak out against someone or ideology you are accused of hatred. This is so far removed from the truth.
If you truly love someone, you will put yourself between them and what will cause them harm. A good parent has to say no, even when their child begs, cries, or flat out screams “I hate you!” Because the loving parent cares more about their child’s safety and well being than the initial outburst. This is love, being able to endure for the benefit of another, even if the other is ungrateful or doesn’t recognize the benefit of boundaries and safe guards.
Now, back to my original thought about the Christian and violence.
Jesus said, …the kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force.
It takes courage to enter God’s kingdom. You must have unwavering faith. Because the opposition is leveled at us is great. Especially in a world where everyone wants what “feels right” in a “live and let live” motto. You must know Him and have an intimate relationship with Him for your light to shine, so others can see Him in and through you. You must be able to say no when others say yes. You must stand firm and speak truth.
Where is the violence seen in relation to Christians and the Kingdom? It is not seen in fleshly battles, it is seen in the spiritual battles. We are strong when we do not wage carnal war, but spiritual war. Because our weapons are mighty! Let us be the battering ram with our prayers and His word.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places.
For too long we have been silent. It is time to lift your voice to heaven. Everything that has been stolen from you, everything you lost, it is time to take it back. If the devil wants your marriage, your relationships, your health, your mind… then remind him who he is dealing with and he has got one heck of a fight on his hands.
It is time we lock arms and battle together. Press in and fight for ourselves, our brothers and sisters in Christ, our families, our nation, the lost, those we love AND those who hate us. He has sent us out as sheep among wolves, therefor let us be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Trust Him! This is His battle. He has overcome the world, just open your mouth and bring His Kingdom to the earth and let Him reign!
In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [draw your strength from Him and be empowered through your union with Him] and in the power of His [boundless] might. Put on the full armor of God [for His precepts are like the splendid armor of a heavily-armed soldier], so that you may be able to [successfully] stand up against all the schemes and the strategies and the deceits of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places. Therefore, put on the complete armor of God, so that you will be able to [successfully] resist and stand your ground in the evil day [of danger], and having done everything [that the crisis demands], to stand firm [in your place, fully prepared, immovable, victorious]. So stand firm and hold your ground, having tightened the wide band of truth (personal integrity, moral courage) around your waist and having put on the breastplate of righteousness (an upright heart), and having strapped on your feet the gospel of peace in preparation [to face the enemy with firm-footed stability and the readiness produced by the good news]. Above all, lift up the [protective] shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Ephesians 6:10-16
Be Free & Stay Free
It’s a process, really.
Have you ever looked back and thought to yourself, “Look how far I have come!”
Then there are the days, when the storm clouds are on the horizon and you feel so ill-equipped. You have momentary amnesia about the storms you have already weathered that did not kill you.
Life is like that, isn’t it. It can be a landscape of peaks and valleys. This is true for all of us.
I am not so sure I agree with the saying, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Because sometimes you don’t get stronger, sometimes you die inside.
I have met people who seem so bitter, so cynical, and I wonder what happened to make them that way. Who hurt them? These people, for whatever reason, have given up. Sure, they are still alive (if you wanna call it life), but they are constantly waiting for the other foot to drop, doubting everything and everyone, and never fully giving themselves.
Then there are people who seem to be happy and enjoying life. They are friendly and joyful. They seem to actually care about others. We enjoy being around people like this, they energize us and encourage us. Maybe they know something the others don’t?
Both have had storms in their life. Remember, everyone has their peaks and valleys. The difference is their outlook. With the proper perspective, even a valley can look like a peak. When we appreciate the peaks, we do not fear the valley.
We can learn and grow during both phases of our life. We can be stronger if we do not become bitter and fearful. But, it does require action; an active faith, to see beyond the now. To embrace the future, we must let go of the past. To fully love, we must forgive. And we must be wise, discern when it is time to let go and move on or when to plant our heels.
“But I say to you, love [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for] your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may [show yourselves to] be the children of your Father who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on those who are evil and on those who are good, and makes the rain fall on the righteous [those who are morally upright] and the unrighteous [the unrepentant, those who oppose Him]. Matthew 5:44-45
Let go of the temporal and cling to the eternal. He never promised it would be easy, but He did promise He will be with you every step of the way.
There is a difference between happiness and joy.
Happiness is based on circumstance, we are happy as long as everything is going well. Happiness depends on others.
But, joy! Now joy is something else. Joy is the deep inner peace of knowing that laughs in the face of adversity and says, “HA! My Father has got this under control!” Joy is relationship. Joy is a person and His Name is Jesus.
Peace I leave with you; My [perfect] peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. [Let My perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge.] John 14:27
Now that is a promise!
Be Free & Stay Free
I recently watched a movie about a young girl who lived in her van. At first glance the girl seems to be happy and carefree. It started as a typical movie, young girl meets boy, they fall in love, boy proposes, she refuses him.
You are probably asking yourself what does this have to do with anything? Stay with me here…
When he proposed to her he offered her a chance to a “normal” life. He loved her and wanted to care for her. It would make since for her to accept his proposal. But when she turned her back to him the camera caught something on her face and I recognized it. It was the look of fear. It was not that she did not love him; she refused his proposal and a future with him because she was afraid.
Fear causes us to do foolish things, doesn’t it?
The young girl in the movie instantly went into a fight or flight mode when faced with change. For someone who has been where she is, I could see her wheels turning in her mind. She could risk losing him now by refusing him, in which case it would be “her choice,” this would be flight, to run-away or avoid the entire situation. Or she could risk losing him later when he realized she could not have a “normal” life, this would be fight, she could fight to maintain herself, until undoubtedly she would go down in flames, as she believed.
For anyone who grew up in a safe and nurturing environment, this whole scenario would be foreign. After all, who in their right mind would choose to live a homeless lifestyle in a broken down van and eat from the garbage and then when given an opportunity to a better life… refuse it? Why would someone be afraid of love, commitment, security, and safety? It would just make no sense to someone who has never experienced the depth of injury and loss that comes through long term abuse and neglect as a child.
Our bodies may mature and age, but hidden deep inside is a wounded child. Some of us may learn to go through the motions, the mechanics, of a functioning life. Look around you. Most people are good disguising their wounded selves. You just never know what inner war someone battles because people can be great pretenders. Maybe you are one of them?
Fear does not allow us to look beyond our past. It is a slow tightening noose around the neck of dreams, hope, possibility, and life. It is the glaring flashing sign that says “You can’t do this! You are not worthy! Someone is going to find out who you really are! You will be rejected! You are unwanted and unlovable!” Fear sets itself up as a roadblock to keep us from turning to the very One who can heal us.
There is no fear in love [dread does not exist]. But perfect (complete, full-grown) love drives out fear, because fear involves [the expectation of divine] punishment, so the one who is afraid [of God’s judgment] is not perfected in love [has not grown into a sufficient understanding of God’s love]. 1 John 4:18 (Amp)
Children are not always resilient, they are adaptable.
Resilient is able to recoil or spring back into shape after bending, stretching, or being compressed. To adapt is to modify, adjust to new conditions, to alter. When something is broken, there will be a scar, a crack, even when it is fixed it is not as it was before it was broken.
This reminds me of a teapot I once had. It was once one of my favorite possessions because it was so beautiful with delicate detailed hand painted flowers on the side of it. It was an inexpensive item I picked up at a yard sale, but to me, living on a budget, it was fancy. I enjoyed steeping my tea in it and then pouring it into my, just as delicate, tea cup. One day my teapot broke, it cracked and the handle came off. I tried to fix it by gluing the pieces back together, but it proved not to be resilient, it was no longer usable as a tea pot to hold liquid. However, it was adaptable as a potter. Not wanting to throw it away I made it into a small planter. To me it was just as beautiful, but it no longer served its original purpose.
You see, we are like that teapot. God created us in His image, kissed with the personal touch and breath of God, each one of us unique and finely detailed by His hand. Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you [and approved of you as My chosen instrument]. And before you were born I consecrated you [to Myself as My own]. I have appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” When God saw everything He had made, including you and me, He called it very good. (Genesis 1:31) It is His desire that we walk in this knowledge and understanding.
In a perfect world we would all be born into a family with parents to guide and establish this truth in us. But, we do not live in a perfect world, we live in a fallen world, and because of wounds and injuries passed down from our parents (and generations before) we were not nurtured in the revelation of His truth. This cloud of hurt influences our lives and hides the truth. The injuries hinder us from seeing Gods perspective.
I have found great comfort in Romans 8:28, “And we know all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” This is great news! He has created you for His purpose.
You are not a teapot. You are far more valuable! He does not expect you to be resilient or to adapt. He will not glue you back together, He will make you new.
Do you believe this? Can you take a step of faith and trust Him to heal you?
Trust in His love for you. His love is perfect and you have no need to fear when you know His love for you is without measure and without end. You are free from fear of rejection and shame, He sees much deeper than the surface and if you allow Him, He will go right to the root and restore you.
Be Free & Stay Free
As I sit here and listen to Jason Upton sing about freedom, I mediate on the truth of what he is singing. (Click here)
Ah, yes, freedom! Isn’t that we all long for? True freedom to be who we were created to be in the security of safety and comfort of knowing we will not be rejected?
Strange, how even Spirit filled believers struggle to walk in that freedom. Still, knowing is not always believing, is it? We see, but we do not believe. We listen, but we do not hear. We nod our heads yes, but our shoulders are shrugging. We can even preach His truth and believe it for anyone else, but somehow we think “It’s for everyone else, not me.”
But this is the freedom Christ gives us, to be set free in His love.
There is no fear in love [dread does not exist]. But perfect (complete, full-grown) love drives out fear, because fear involves [the expectation of divine] punishment, so the one who is afraid [of God’s judgment] is not perfected in love [has not grown into a sufficient understanding of God’s love]. 1 John 4:18 Amp.
What does this mean?
I believe God is saying: My daughter (son) you have been created in My image from the beginning. You are Mine and nothing or no one can change that. You are wrapped securely in the palm of My hand, you are the apple of My eye. I have gifted you and created you with a purpose. You are not an accident, you were planned before the foundations of the earth. I knew you before you were even in your mother’s womb. Lay down what hinders you and embrace Me. Look around you, there is no one there to condemn you, I do not condemn you, there is no condemnation in those who are in Christ Jesus. Though others have rejected you, I will never reject you. Do not be afraid to shine. Lay down the guilt, regret, fear, and shame. When you stop trying to self medicate the injury and wounds that did not come from me, then you will seek Me and you will find Me. I am not hiding from you. Unforgiveness will hold you bondage to depression, bitterness, sickness, restlessness, anger, and death. Let it go, give it to Me. Only I can take the ashes and create beauty. My joy that I give you is not based on circumstance, but on the revelation knowledge that I love you and in My love you are free to be the you I created you to be.
Be Free & Stay Free
How do we keep ourselves pure in a fallen world?
You can hardly watch a movie or t.v. show without being assaulted with vulgarity. It is almost impossible to even look at Facebook without being bombarded with arrows to our spirit. Hollywood serves up a smorgasbord of nudity, profanity, and violence buffet style. Just because they believe this is what sells their movies does not mean we have to buy it.
A continuous diet of this cheapens us, our relationships, the way we view things, and eventually dulls our hearing to His Spirit to a point we no longer feel the twinge of conviction. The sting of conviction is a good thing, it serves as a warning to turn away.
Proverbs 4:23 instructs us to keep our heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.
Very much like the adage “you are what you eat,” what we put before our eyes, allow into our hearing, will go into our hearts. Out of the abundance of our hearts, our mouth will speak (Luke 6:45) Our bodies will follow the direction of our feet, so be sure your feet are firmly grounded on His truth, or you may find yourself on a slippery slope.
Images flash before our eyes on a daily basis.
While we may not have a say, or sometimes even a warning, what images flash before us, we do have a say if we continue to entertain or not. Images are to create thought, imagination, and to stir desire. James said this, “Then when the illicit desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin has run its course, it gives birth to death.”
Nothing is just for entertainment purposes. Everything has an angle, whether good or not, everything has an angle and comes with a price.
A good rule of thumb when you find yourself in a precarious situation is to ask yourself these questions:
- Is this edifying, does it offer anything other than a temptation to my flesh?
- Would I feel comfortable watching this if my husband/wife/mother/child were in the room?
- Could this weaken my relationships?
And the most important question to ask yourself is this:
4. If Jesus were sitting here in the flesh beside me would I still watch this?
I don’t think anyone in their right mind would just wake up one day and say “Today is a great day to jeopardize my relationship with Christ and those I love. Like all journeys, it starts with one step that leads to another and then another… until we find ourselves laying on the ground wondering what just happened. So why even take the first step to certain destruction?
In ALL things we are to honor God and guard our relationship with Him.
Everything begins with a seed. Pay attention to the seed you are planting.
Click here for an excellent article on this subject.
For every sin, entrapment, God has given us a way of escape, and sometimes the escape is as simple as just turning it off.
Be Free & Stay Free