Response to these troubled days

 

hallelujah-www.canichangemylife.com_

Yes, we are living in troubled days. Everywhere we look we see evidence of fallen man. Jesus said that Satan is the god of this world, and we see his fruit everywhere; hate, fear, and death.

How do we keep from getting sucked in to the pit with the rest of the world?

How do we keep our hope in the face of hopelessness?

How do we love when we are hated?

The quick and easy answer would be to pray. And yes, we should pray, but what about when we are so heavy laden, hurt, angry, sad, alone, abused, empty, afraid, blue, and if I can be honest… how about when we are just tired of hearing our own voice and see no change around us? What then?

The world is spinning fast, time is but a vapor, and time is short, and nothing is within our control. We can not control another person or what is going on around us. BUT! There is one thing we can control… ourselves. We can take control of our thoughts and our responses. Then instead of being reactive, we can be proactive.

So, again, how do we do that?

We shift our focus!

 

A man walking towards a cross with sunbeams
SHIFT YOUR FOCUS

A broken hallelujah will be made whole. In your brokenness, offer a hallelujah and He will answer.

In  Hebrew, Hallelujah transcends the languages of the world. It is not translated, it is transliterated.  (click here to read more about praise)

“Hallel” means to boast or to brag on, to make a show, even to the point of looking ridiculous.

“Jah” is the short form of the name for God.

 

What do we tell our children to do when there is a fire? Stop! Drop! And Roll!

 

Praise the Lord!
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty heavens.
 
Praise Him for His mighty acts;
Praise Him according to [the abundance of] His greatness.

 
Praise Him with trumpet sound;
Praise Him with harp and lyre.

Praise Him with tambourine and dancing;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and flute.
 
Praise Him with resounding cymbals;
Praise Him with loud cymbals.
 
Let everything that has breath and every breath of life praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord! (Hallelujah!)

-Psalm 150

So I encourage you… No! I challenge you!  Shut the world out, turn the news off, lay down the paper, hang the phone up, shut down the computer, and Stop! Drop to your knees, lift your arms, open your mouth, and let the praises roll!

You can’t change the world, but God can. You may not be able to change your circumstance, but God can. You may be waist deep in what the world calls despair, but He promises if you focus on Him, praise Him for His goodness, trust Him, give it ALL to Him, when you rise you will rise refreshed and strengthened.

He is still God, He is still on His throne, He has not left you and He never will. Don’t let the world steal your peace. Shift your focus.

 

Be Free & Stay Free

Fear is a Liar! : A Short Story

woman

“Do it!” He whispered in her ear, as his unseen hand cupped hers, guiding the razor to her forearm. “This is your only way out.”

Her hand trembled and her vision blurred from the tears as she held the razor between her fingers. Cutting herself use to bring momentary relief from the pain inside of her, the warm, crimson red, flow of her own blood was a drain to the sickness inside of her. The pain of each cut was just enough to dull the despair. But this time she would cut deep enough to kill the pain forever.

Daily living drained her of strength. She no longer had energy to maintain the facade of normalcy. To get out of bed in the mornings brought increasing anxiety. She was constantly exhausted and the effort to keep breathing was an uphill battle. She had no where to turn; every bridge burnt in disappointment, rejection, and failure. Though she sought solace through relationships, alcohol, and every other substitute, it was no where to be found.

He felt her waiver and he knew if he allowed her to stall then she would change her mind. He mustn’t let that happen again. The other demons did an outstanding job separating her from help, it was his job to finish her, and there would be hell to be pay if he failed.

“Push her or get out of the way!” The other demons jeered.

“Silence!” He stood to his full height. “This takes cunning and precision.”

“Here, let me help you. She just needs a little reminding.” Another demon pushed his way through the others to join the rollicking. Shame enjoyed tagging along with the others. Though he was never the first demon to attack, he was an excellent grubber, and he didn’t mind feeding on the entails. It was Shames job to keep her in place, and to stay her from moving forward, by reminding her how worthless and hopeless she is.

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“There is no help for you, if ever there was, because people would find out who you really are and what you have really done.” Shame echoed in her mind. “You stink, you’re worthless, and a total screw-up! Who would want you if they knew you? No one, that’s who!”

Memories of every relationship she gave herself to made her feel sick to her stomach. She closed her eyes tight to fight off the memories of the shameful and degrading acts. Shame reminded her of every piece of herself she gave away in each promiscuous act, until the purity of love was buried beyond recognition.

“Excellent work, Libertine!” Shame patted the lustful demon on the back. “I appreciate that you make my job easy.”

“You wouldn’t have a job if it weren’t for me, you little imp!” Lust bellowed.

“Your own father didn’t even want you.” Rejection taunted her with memories of the abuse she endured at the hand of her father. “You were a terrible daughter! Everyone knew it was your fault!”

“You call yourself a Christian? Why look at you!” Religion pointed his finger at her, poking her with each word for emphasis. “You cry and God doesn’t hear you, because you are weak!”

“No one wants you!” Another demon chimed in. “Go ahead and off yourself, you won’t even be missed.”

Confusion stepped in and led the others in an orchestra of accusations, while Murdertiedup gripped her hand on the razor. “Kill yourself! Do it! You are worthless! No one loves you! No one wants you! No one cares! God will never forgive you! If there was a God why does your life suck? You are a whore! You are stupid! You are ugly! There is no hope for you! Everything you touch is cursed! Die! Die! Die!…” Accusations and taunts circled around her head, confusing her, making her dizzy.

Her hand trembled, her tears fell, and though she wanted it all to end, there was a small voice…

Come to Me.” The small voice softly beckoned. “I am your Healer and Deliverer.”

“Jesus?” Her voice was barely audible.

“What did she say?!” The demons stepped back just enough to loosen the grip on her. Although they could barely hear her words, they sensed a power coming forth, though it was faint they knew even a sliver of faith in what she spoke would send them flying.

“Call on Me.” The soft clear voice broke through the confusion and spoke directly to her heart. “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Though they be red like crimson they shall be as wool. Come.”

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“God, help me.” She cried.

The lesser demons began to flee, they knew they were no match for this war. They could feel the change in the atmosphere and their shadow began to fade.

“Stop her!” Murder screamed. But it was too late…

Jesus save me.” The sound of the Name she spoke came through as thunder, throwing the demons off her.

The demons stood in the background, eyes narrowed, poison salivating from their lips with each exhale, waiting and watching. They trembled and covered their eyes when He entered the room, unable to look upon His glory. To the girl He was Love unconditional, to the demons He was a consuming fire. Not even the largest demon was fool enough to think of staying in His presence.

Immediately confusion was replaced with peace. She laid the razor down and wept.

Oh, God, forgive me.” She wept. “I have sinned and turned so far away from You.”

In her brokenness, she laid down and confessed her sins and asked God to forgive her. “Jesus, if You are willing, You can heal me.” She cried.

“I am willing, be healed. You are forgiven.”

jesusHer tears of sorrow soon turned into tears of joy as Gods Holy Spirit ministered love to her. Where rejection once resided, she now found acceptance. Where hatred once fanned the flames of unforgiveness, she found release and forgiveness. Where there was no hope, she found hope. And her weakness was now made strong, through the Name she called upon, Jesus, her Redeemer.

I wish I could tell you, dear reader, that the demons never tried to come back. But I can tell you that when they did, they found no place in her, the door to them was forever closed, as she continued to cling to Jesus and trust Him. This is her story, this is her testimony, though she was lost, she was found. What the devil meant to use to destroy her, God used for her good and for His glory. As we read the words of her story, we can be reminded, we are never so low or too far gone, that God can’t reach us. We have an Advocate, through Jesus, to God the Father. We are sealed with His Spirit and He is forever with us.

What is your story? Let it become your testimony of Gods redeeming love.

Fear is a liar!

Call on Jesus.

Be Free & Stay Free

No More Self Loathing

forgiveness

We know God forgives us, because He says if we repent, He forgives us of our sins.

We even forgive others (with His help).

Yet…

We struggle to forgive ourselves.

Living in regret and shame keeps us in bondage. This is not God’s will for us.

We start getting ahead and then that ol’ lying devil comes and reminds us of all of our failures, our past sins, bad choices, and the people we have hurt along the way. Our minds get filled with “if only I’s…”

My friend, please hear me when I say this…

God is BIGGER! He knows where you have been. He knows how you have been hurt and who you have hurt. He knows, He knows, He knows… But that did not stop Him from redeeming you! It does not stop Him from loving you! It does not cause Him to reject you!

Are you tormented by your past? Is your heart still breaking for those you have hurt? My dear friend, His Holy Spirit is able to do far more than anything you could ever do. Do you not know He cares for you AND those you care for?

You can not back track. Nothing you can do can change where you have been.  But, if you  forgive yourself, make restitution if you have to, but do not be bound any longer to the past… if you will do this, then you will be free and healed.

You are not the same person you were before. You are a new creation! You are redeemed! You are His now!

Call on Jesus, my friend. Cry out to Him. Give it to Him. Open your mouth and your heart and just lay it all down at His feet and trust Him to work it out.

Be Free & Stay Free

 

Ultimate Makeover

who-am-i

The question we all ask ourselves, huh. Who am I?

For many, the answer to this question changes depending on the season.  Sadly too many base the answer on emotions, experiences, or what others have said about us; as if someones opinions define us.

Times and seasons change. Society is a fickle people. With the ever increasing need in the world to be the best, it is not hard to understand why so many feel they are in competition. It is no wonder so many young girls are insecure and so many women are broken. Shew, it is even a no wonder why men do not even know how to be men anymore.

We have been robbed of our individual gifts and uniqueness. In all of the trying to fit in and be like everyone else to please someone else…

who-are-you-s_800x600

You have heard the saying it is the suit that makes the man and the shoes that make the woman. Nope, that is not true and I have the sore feet to prove it.

who-are-you-really-21449257The beauty industry is making a lot of money on peoples insecurities. Don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying there is anything wrong with dressing up the outside, there is nothing wrong with accentuating the beauty we already have. Shew, some of us need some help. But, my dear friend, beneath everything, all the make-up, newest fashion, hair color, you are still you and I am still me. No amount of make-up is going to take the place of the inner peace and desire for acceptance we all have.

There is only One who can give you the peace you yearn for and He already accepts you. He created you, you are His masterpiece, with His very own hands He formed you.  He put so much detail in you that He knows the number of hairs on your head, He knows how many times your heart will beat, He knows where you will live, He knows your first day and your last breath. In addition to all of this, He gave you gifts and entrusted you with gifts to use to glorify Him.

While you may be looking around and comparing yourself to others, you do not even recognize what and Who He has placed in you and you do not see the one person only you can reach, or problem only you have the answer to. So you walk around, bent over, looking at your feet instead of lifting your head and knowing who you really are and Who you belong to. Royalty should not live like paupers. It is unbecoming to wallow in the pig pen and eat slop when your Father is the King.

And we all, with unveiled face, continually seeing as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are progressively being transformed into His image from [one degree of] glory to [even more] glory, which comes from the Lord, [who is] the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

I am going to get personal with you for a minute, OK.  I didn’t meet Jesus personally until I was already an adult in my 30’s. Before Christ, I had already racked up a long laundry list of what was wrong with me; from childhood and on.  I made choices based on fear and insecurities that were ingrained in me. I believed every lie and was on the path to confirm every lie was truth.

After I met Christ, although all my sins were forgiven, I still harbored guilt and shame. Of course this was concealed very well; so well that I didn’t even fully realize I was carrying all the heavy baggage until later…

Then little by little my slip started to show (know what I mean, ladies?). So I tried to pull it up, tuck it in, cover it up, because I am a Christian and Christians aren’t suppose to have these issues.  The more I tried to cover it the heavier it got and on top of it all I took it upon myself to add shame, guilt, regret, and perhaps a lil’ unforgiveness to my suitcase.

I looked like this…

suitcase
Nah, I’m good, I don’t need any help,      I got this.

I just couldn’t understand why everything was going to pot; no matter how much I prayed or read my Bible. I was good at encouraging other people and believing the word, God’s promises for them, but not for myself… I was a mess.

You know why? Because I was sitting outside of the palace eating in the pig pen. I knew I was saved. I knew God loved me (even though I couldn’t understand why), but His word said He did so He must, right.

ThiefIt is like locking your door, but leaving your window open. Sooner or later the thief is going to try to break in and steal your stuff.

Jesus told us the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy.  He also told us that Satan is the father of lies.  When we believe anything contrary to what God’s word says, we are to cast it down, because it is a lie. We are not to believe it!  But it doesn’t stop here!

When you know God’s word, you can recognize the lie and you must combat the lie with the truth!  You can’t just ignore the devil and hope he goes away. No! You have to kick him out! He takes your silence as agreement. You have to open your mouth.

God has already set you free! To walk in His freedom you must take the steps. If you want out of the prison cell of shame, regret, fear, insecurity then you must walk through the open door.

Dear prodigal, do you not know your Father is waiting for you? Sweet woman, there is no need to die of thirst at the well when He gives you springs of life and a refreshing that overflows and never stops.

Stop looking at the outward appearance. Your beauty is deeper than flesh and your worth is far more valuable than rubies.

The next time that lying demon whispers in your ear you put your foot down, stand your ground and fight back with God’s truth!

I am leaving you with some thoughts, ammunition, to get you started. Read it, meditate on it, remember it, AND BELIEVE IT!

This is God’s word and God doesn’t lie. This is the truth of who you are!

If you would like to share more of Gods promises to us, please leave a comment below.

Until I write again, or we meet in heaven…

Be Free & Stay Free

 

Safe in the Storm

cross

I cling to the cross when the storms roll in and the dark clouds try to distort my vision. The work Christ did and completed on the cross is my anchor.

When the waves tempt me to row in the opposite direction, Jesus calls me to the stern and He tells me to rest.

I have no need to fear when the One who created heaven and earth and speaks to every storm (even the waves obey Him) holds me in the palm of His hand.

My eyes do not have to see what my faith believes.

He is andI find my being.

Be Free & Stay Free 

 

 

Mercy Over Judgment

merciful-Jesus

Straightening up, Jesus said to her,“Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?”She answered, “No one, Lord!” And Jesus said,“I do not condemn you either. Go. From now on sin no more.”]  John 8:10-11

A woman was caught in the act of adultery and the religious people of the day thought they would just march her right on down to Jesus. They were certain they had the law on their side and if Jesus was who He said He was then He would agree. They were testing Jesus.

Imagine the woman was trembling inside. She knew what the law required; she was to be stoned to death. They stood her in front of the crowd, in  public humiliation, announcing her sin. Can you imagine the whispers and shaking of heads that must have been going around the crowd? I imagine the pious religious men, chest puffed up and standing tall in their own self righteousness, believing they finally caught Jesus.

stone

You see, the scribes and Pharisees knew the law, but they did not know Him. If they knew Him they would have known God desires mercy over judgment. Religion wanted to condemn this woman and the law wanted to stone her; but Jesus stepped in.

For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; but [to the one who has shown mercy] mercy triumphs [victoriously] over judgment. -James 2:13

When we use your hand to point at someone, our finger is pointing forward, but the other fingers are pointing toward us. Try it, use your hand, point at something. What do you see? What are the position of your other fingers? That’s right, they are pointing back at you. How easy it is to see another persons sin out and ignore our own, huh? We have all been guilty.

The woman had no defense. She could not deny her guilt. All she could do was hope for mercy. I have been there. Have you?

Our sin not only affects us, it affects our relationship with God, and with others. The world says if it feels good so do it, it’s not hurting anyone; this is a lie.

Let’s read the rest of the story.

Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger. It is not recorded what He wrote, although some speculate it was the sins of her  accusers. While He was writing in the dust her accusers kept  on ranting and demanding an answer from Him. When they persisted with their question, He raised Himself up and said, “Let him who is without sin be the first to cast a stone at her.” Then He bent back down and continued writing in the dirt.

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Can you hear the silence as each one of her accusers were dismantled of their own self righteousness? Do you hear the stones dropping  as they turn and walk away? Their conscience was pricked, one by one, from the oldest to the youngest, until there was no one left standing in the center of the court but Jesus and the woman.

Jesus raises Himself up and say’s to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Has no man condemned you?”

No one, Lord.” She answers.

“I do not condemn you either. Go your way and from now on sin no more.” And with these words, she is free, made new, and forgiven.

Jesus-HH

Did you hear that? Jesus said to her and He says to you, “I do not condemn you. Go your way and from now on sin no more.”

Yes, God desires mercy over judgment. His heart is for us. For this reason He came down as a Man. He was fully man and fully God. His great love for us encompasses us and covers our sins and the affects of sin in us. Do you understand this? The guilt and shame you are tempted to carry because of sin, He has freed you from it!

Beloved, perhaps it wasn’t adultery you were entangled in. Sin is sin, and the accuser stands at your door waiting to devour you with condemnation, guilt, and shame.

Let this Psalm be your prayer. Then receive His forgiveness, His mercy, His love, and go and sin no more.

Search me [thoroughly], O God, and know my heart;
Test me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way. Psalm 139:23-24

Be Free & Stay Free

Beauty for Ashes

beauty

Shame does something to a person. It produces a judgement of guilt and unrelenting condemnation.

Shame distorts a person. It suffocates the future and feeds on regret. The showering of fear hinders growth and stifles a person from becoming who they were created to be.

When I think of people in the Bible who overcame shame, I see a common thread.

Think of the woman at the well, for example. Shame ostracized her right into isolation. Or how about Rahab the prostitute? You better believe she could clear a sidewalk when she walked down the street. Even Gideon hid because he was the least of the least; he didn’t see himself as a man of valor; but God did. The list could go on and on, because God chooses such people.

Do you know what they have in common? They encountered the living God!

Are you there, my friend? Are you carrying shame like a dirty little secret and trying to cover it with  lie upon lie; afraid of being exposed? Have you isolated yourself in your closet of regret and you no longer do the things you used to enjoy, you hide from people, your prayer life is non-existent, you don’t even read your Bible anymore, and your head is too heavy to hold up?

If this is you, then there is something you need to know. There is no sin so great that He can’t forgive. There is no wrong that He can’t make right and no reason your past has to rob you of your future.

Jesus came to set you free! Do you believe this?

When He gave His life for yours, He took the shame to the grave and left it there, and then He rose victorious! His victory is your victory.

He gives beauty for ashes. Do you believe?

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed and commissioned me
To bring good news to the humble and afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up [the wounds of] the brokenhearted,
To proclaim release [from confinement and condemnation] to the [physical and spiritual] captives
And freedom to prisoners,
To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance and retribution of our God,
To comfort all who mourn,
To grant to those who mourn in Zion the following:
To give them a turban instead of dust [on their heads, a sign of mourning],
The oil of joy instead of mourning,
The garment [expressive] of praise instead of a disheartened spirit.
So they will be called the trees of righteousness [strong and magnificent, distinguished for integrity, justice, and right standing with God],
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. Isaiah 61:1-3

Call on Him. Repent and receive His forgiveness. Let it go. You have been created for so much more. When He formed you, He held you in His hands and He said, “It is good.”

We make mistakes. We don’t always make the right choice. Sometimes we do it willingly and sometimes not. But, He has made a way for us. Come to Him just as you are, because this is one thing you can’t do on your own; you need Him.  We all need Him.

Be Free & Stay Free