A Divided World, A Divided Nation, A Divided Church, A Divided Home, A Divided Marriage, A Divided Soul…

Crack

(FreeImages.com/AndrewHildebrand)

There is so much that can unify us, but when I look around, I see so much division!

I see a divided world: first-world countries versus third-world countries.  I see a divided nation: very clearly defined differences in ideologies/beliefs and political systems.  I see a divided church: legalism versus grace versus faux-grace and one denomination against another denomination.  I see divided homes: parents warring against children and vise versa.  I see divided marriages: marriages that elevate one gender against the other and one belief system against another.  I see divided souls: people that walk in confusion, doubts, unrest, and inconsistency.  I see divided identities…

I see a world that reflects nations that reflects churches that reflects families that reflects marriages that reflects souls.

I see so many divided souls because the pains/wounds and mistakes of the past still imprison the present and the futures, unless truth/life is allowed to bring healing.

This can seem to over-simply things, but it is not a simple process.  It takes layers of healing to occur before we begin to stop living from the past and begin to live from the future.

We experience pain in our past, and we decide to live differently.  In fact, we will often pick something very different from our past and think that choice and system of belief will guarantee that we have moved on.

We understand that the systems of our past were broken and faulty, but what we don’t understand is what wholeness looks like. 

Without understanding wholeness ourselves, we will hop from one broken system to another.  They may have a different name, appearance, and message, but the crazy thing is they can often be just the other side of the coin that we had in the past.

Just picking a different system does not guarantee that we are headed into true life, freedom, and healing.

The problem is that when we are wounded, we will choose something different, but the different is not necessarily all whole and good itself. 

At first, the different feels good, safe, and liberating.  It’s a break from those things and people that wounded us in the past.  After awhile though, we begin to realize that throwing off one yoke doesn’t mean we haven’t picked up another yoke with which to replace it.

In fact, the nature of woundedness means we will often pick up another yoke just as heavy or heavier than the one before.  It just looks different and feels different so we don’t realize that it is still a yoke.

And… Freedom is not living a life free of any constraints, responsibilities, expectations, structures, or truth to guide us. 

Something in life is always compelling us.  It’s either others, a system, a belief, or ourselves.

We hear that we are to live freely for ourselves — that we dream our biggest dreams and allow no one to hold us back.

We think that by breaking free from others we break free ourselves.  There is some merit to this.  We don’t want to live to please everyone else, but on the other hand, we don’t want to live to please ourselves or that is the ultimate form of narcissism.

How do we therefore break free from people and at the same time break free from ourselves?

When you have felt the bondage of control and manipulation by others, you often think that freedom means the absence of accountability, structure, or response on our parts.  You think it means that you are free to live and believe however you choose.  To a huge extent, you are.  We are free to choose what we believe and how we live, but we are never free from the outcomes of those choices — just like, thank God, neither are those who have hurt us!

Do we really want a world that is devoid of consequences or accountability? 

Do we really want a world that chooses to live for self in order to liberate self?  Does that really make sense?

Can we be liberated if we live in bondage to the whims and desires of self?

Ultimately, we will also hold others captive to our own selfish desires.

…And… Can we really live free when we merely live in a reactionary state from the past?  Is that not still living under the influence of the past?

The point is we may choose something different because it is different, and maybe we will find something true and good in the process, but maybe we won’t.

If we are simply living from reactionary mode, our decisions are not based on clear and truthful thinking.  Reactionary mode means that we are unable to accurately position ourselves and our beliefs on a foundation of clear and stable thinking.

What then is the answer?

Find healing.  Be aware of your sources.  Find God for Himself rather than the twisted examples perhaps you were shown.  Find Him where He reveals Himself: creation, His Word (take off others glasses when reading it), simply communicate with Him.  Talk with Him, ask Him your questions, and listen.

Know that freedom is more than throwing off bondage.  It’s replacing it with truth. 

Truth is actually the surest form of freedom there is.

I hear though a lot of people who react to the word truth.  There are several reasons for this response: reaction to their past (haven’t healed fully yet), they are still in the state of living ultimately for themselves, they are reacting to twisted thinking that was portrayed as “truth,” and they don’t actually understand what truth is.

If you want to know truth, find God.  Seek Him.  Ask Him to reveal Himself to you and then listen, observe, and ponder.

Luke 20:21

21 Then they asked Him, saying, “Teacher, we know that You say and teach rightly, and You do not show personal favoritism, but teach the way of God in truth:

John 1:14

The Word Becomes Flesh

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 8:32

32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

What Is Our Identity?

Handprint

(FreeImages.com/BSK)

As I was studying I John chapter 2, I was amazed once again by the depth we see in Scripture!  The topic of identity has been greatly on my heart because how we perceive ourselves is how we will live.  This is why it is so important that our thinking is truthful when it comes to how we see ourselves.

As a Christian, I know that my identity is in Jesus Christ!

Who He is is my position and also is what He is revealing, transforming within me (because of Him).

The following verses reveal the nature, the premise, the foundation, and the purpose of our identity:

1 John 2:10-15

10 He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11 But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

Their Spiritual State

12 I write to you, little children,
    Because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake.
13 I write to you, fathers,
    Because you have known Him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
    Because you have overcome the wicked one.
I write to you, little children,
    Because you have known the Father.
14 I have written to you, fathers,
    Because you have known Him who is from the beginning.
I have written to you, young men,
    Because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you,
    And you have overcome the wicked one

1. First, we need to know that we are forgiven.

The forgiveness Jesus offered to us at the cross frees us from Satan’s and sin’s dominion.  Sin and Satan no longer have authority over us because Jesus defeated them at the cross.  This means, Satan has no authority to condemn or accuse us.  We do not need to listen to his lies/false accusations.

2. Second, we have “known the Father” is emphasized several times.

The point being made is that we need to know our Heavenly Father.  Children will often talk, walk, eat, and have similar personalities and even posture to that of their parents.  The same is true with us.  We need to know our Heavenly Father so we pick up on the “family resemblance” and know what it means to be a “Christian.”

Who we are is completely tied in with who He is.  We need to know our Heavenly Father so we can understand better who we are.

3.  Third, we need to understand that we can overcome the evil one.

“God’s truth had a place in their hearts.  And that truth made them victorious in the spiritual battles they faced.” (from Community Bible Study on Christian Living)  God’s truth illuminates the “darkness” and strengthens our faith, keeping us rooted and grounded.  We can overcome by understanding the authority we have in the name of Jesus and in the promises of God’s Word.

4.  Fourth, the Word of God needs to abide in us.

The Word of God will give us insight into our Heavenly Father, into our inheritance, into our standing as His Beloved children, into His promises towards us, and into right thinking in order to have our thoughts transformed by the light of His Word.

5. Fifth, we need to understand the new natures we have been given as His children.

In First John 2, the young men are told that they are strong.  This reminds me of when God called Gideon out and called him a mighty man of valor when Gideon was actually living in cowardly fear.  Once God called Gideon into his new calling and into his new identity, Gideon actually began to live out the truth of what God was actively creating within Gideon.  The same is true with us.  God calls us “children of light” and calls us His beloved.  He says we are overcomers.  It is our inheritance and our new natures to overcome, to live victoriously, to understand we are forgiven, and to understand that Satan and sin no longer have the right to have authority over our lives.

What does this new nature look like?

The distinctive characteristic of God’s true children is the love that they manifest and live out towards one another. 

To walk in light/truth means that we are walking in love.  The truth/light can only be correctly discerned through the eyes of love.  Authentic truth/light is never separate from love.

We receive abundant love from Him that we in turn pour out on others.

Truth Is Only Truthful To Itself

The Truth Shall Make You Free

(FreeImages.com/yournewven)

I just read this comment from a younger friend on Facebook:

I saw this post from a teacher that said that her student asked her if her answers to the math problems could be considered “alternative facts”; because the teacher said she got them wrong, and she didn’t like that. What? Since when did we become so tolerant that we don’t even regard common sense anymore? The laws of the universe? And that’s not being dramatic. Math is involved with physics, which help us translate what is going on in the universe.

My response to this:

This just proves once again the absurdity of deciding there is no absolute truth! Our universe operates on certain standards… We indeed walk away from intelligent conclusions, truthful answers, and reliable outcomes if we refuse to acknowledge that there are principles that we cannot control or manipulate according to our own whims or passions. I have said this before, but truth is only truthful to itself.

Let me say that again:

Truth is only truthful to itself.

As much as we may dislike a rule, standard, principle, or conclusion, we cannot twist the truth to please ourselves. 

Would we really want that anyway?

Would we want “truth” to be altered to please whomever defined it at the moment for themselves?

Would that not be the opposite of truth?

The reliable thing about truth is that it is a standard that is above the mere whims of people. 

Truth is above the opinions of people. 

Truth is above the preferences of people. 

Truth is above the passions of people.

I went to Dictionary.com for the meaning of truth, and the follow popped up:

noun, plural truths [trooth z, trooths] (Show IPA)
1.

thetrueor actual state of a matter:

He tried to find out the truth.
2.

conformity with fact or reality; verity:

the truth of a statement.
3.

a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like:

mathematical truths.
4.

the state or character of beingtrue.
5.

actuality or actual existence.
6.

an obvious or accepted fact; truism; platitude.
7.

honesty; integrity;truthfulness.
While Googling truth, I came across this article, and I am posting only a segment of it:

What Is Truth?

Truth has always been accompanied by a doubled-mindedness. It is something that people claim to want, but few can bear. Socrates searched for it. Jesus bore witness to it, and Pilate answered, albeit rhetorically, “What is truth?” Truth is seeing things as they really are and ascribing to them their appropriate valuations. It is an identity that rises above mere opinion and affirmatively corresponds to a reality that transcends itself. Jack Nicholson says that we can’t handle it, while the Son of Man holds that it sets us free. Truth is a lot like virtue — in that most everyone claims to desire it, but the general consensus deep down is that they would rather have pie.

Yes, people do not always welcome it, when, like a Jehovah’s Witness, it comes knocking at their doors. For much of humanity, self-deception holds a more soothing comfort: for illusions are fuzzy and forgiving like jogging pants. Some people never look in the mirror because of truth and tests are constructed in order to determine if we know what people say it is. And if you are standing before a judge or fighting a war, it would seem a very good thing to have truth on your side — or an M-16.

The ancients equated it with wisdom. The Enlightenment valued it as a tool of emancipation from a world it was trying to bury. The post-moderns, beginning with Nietzsche, however, denied its ultimate existence and brashly claimed that the whole historical veneration of truth was merely a cynical means to secure power. Their legacy to us, one that is even now being chipped away, is that truth is perspectival — one man’s truth is another man’s false narrative.

Here is an interesting video on truth: http://www.allaboutphilosophy.org/what-is-truth-video.htm.

In a post-modern culture when opinions and standards seem to be as shifting as sand, may we look past ourselves to that which is greater than ourselves — to Truth Himself.

 

 

Your Ministry Is Where Your Heart Is…

beach love

(FreeImages.com/sunshizzle)

This past Sunday was one of those “light-bulb” moments.

I was sitting in a gathering with many people, listening to a powerful testimony and under the truth-piercing Word of God.  My heart was being convicted — not in a shameful way but in a way that caused me to repent in order to receive from God.  I was being convicted of selfishness, pride, and self-seeking within my heart.

God had placed within my heart a calling to reach out to people and to share with them how God changes hearts and what it means to have an authentic and personal relationship with God.  The problem is that my calling had turned into self-seeking.  I was looking for a ministry out there, when the ministry was in front of my face.

On Sunday, it was a powerful moment when I recognized my pride, selfishness, and lack of faith.  Because of these soul issues, I was often unwilling to do the “scary” thing, to step out of my comfort zone, and reach out to others.

As soon as I repented of this, the “light-bulb”moment appeared.  I, all of a sudden, realized that God had placed His love in my heart for several strangers surrounding me, and those were my ministry.  I suddenly realized, that when I follow the love, my ministry will be found.  I know this may sound “cheesy,” but it’s the profound truth.

So often, we follow after a ministry, but instead, God wants us to follow after Him and to be so filled with His love for others that “ministry” is the natural by-product.

Ministry is where the love is.

Loving God through others is the ministry

God doesn’t call us to be in full-time ministry.  God calls us to love Him and to love Him by loving His people.

When you follow the heart of God, you will find the “ministry” He has in store for you.

This past Sunday that happened in a huge way for me, I began to reach out to strangers with whom I had fallen in love.  God led me to pray over a couple, their sick child, a young woman in a wheelchair, and other hurting people.  Why did I do this?  Because He gave me His heart for them.

So often, we get it so wrong!  We want the glory or this sense of purpose by doing things when God just calls us to give His heart to others.  Suddenly, the self-glory and the fear that holds us captive are no longer snares, and we are able to step out in joyful abandon, following Him.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

Luke 4:18

18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

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When The Hard Questions Abound…

Tea party

(FreeImages.com/PontusEdenberg)

Two close friends and I sat, cross-legged on the floor, drinking tea… comfortable enough to ask some hard questions. The questions went like this: “If God is both good and Sovereign, why do we see such evil in this world?” It’s a question that lingers in a lot our minds when we see the depths of evil that shatter our innocence and the sweet idyllism of youth.

These friends and I have come to know our God personally, and we know Him enough to know that He is good. We have seen His power, and we know He isn’t weak. So, why evil?

While sipping the comfort of the tea and gazing at the love-filled eyes of these dear friends/sisters, it struck me!  We look at this so wrong so often.

There are two parts to the answer: one is that God has chosen to give us free will. I see this over and over again. Love gives the freedom to choose. Anything forced or manipulated is not true love. With the ability to choose means that evil will exist.

The fact that we see both good and evil in this world demonstrates that there are two forces at work in this world: the force of evil and the force of good. I believe intrinsically we all know this, and our sub-conscious reflects this in movies and books.

What struck me though while listening to this discussion is we wonder why there is evil if God is all-powerful and all-good when in reality we should wonder why there is any good in this world except there be a good God?

The fact that there are examples of sacrificial love, faith, hope, true joy, true peace, generosity, and selflessness indicates that there is present a God who is good — Whose influence permeates this world from falling beyond hope and from yielding completely to the baser elements of evil.

God is Sovereign and God in His sovereignty chooses to allow free will.  Why?  I believe it’s because “wills” are important to Him.  God wants us to exert our wills to respond to Him.  He wants us to exert our wills to surrender to His loving and all-wise guidance.  God woos us for this purpose.

We should not be shocked there is evil in this world — rather we should be amazed that there is good, life, and how many times we are protected and bad things don’t happen.  A world left to itself would only portray death.  It would be a base world where only the strongest, smartest, and most charming survive.  It would be a world where selfishness dominates — where people are only as valuable as they are useful or “usable.”

God though doesn’t operate that way.  He loves the unlovely.  He forgives the “unforgivable.”  He redeems the “useless.”  He takes the ugly and makes it beautiful.

In the end, evil finally will be obliterated.  God’s justice will prevail, and the baser elements, the suffering, the anguish, the pain, the evil will be removed.  Why?

Because love always triumphs over evil, and truth always trumps the lie.  The day is coming!

The time we have now is a gift — a gift to respond to a God who is love, truth, and just!  The choice is ours!

I choose Him.  What about you?

This. Is. It!

Ray Of Light

(FreeImages.com/CarterPerrier)

I love it when God removes the “blinders” and reveals truth to me!  The interesting thing is that often it’s truth I have known in my head but somehow didn’t really understand and/or believe it, meaning live it.

Remember, what you believe is what you live.

It’s interesting how “old truth” suddenly becomes “new truth” when you finally really “see” it!

That’s how it was for me when I realized anew the truth of the following insights God was revealing to me — truths I had “known” before but not really knew.

For example, I blogged previously how God showed me that faith isn’t something God quantifies; it’s something we simply need to have, and that it’s the Object of our faith — God Himself — that is the Source of our faith.  We can’t produce authentic, powerful faith through our own ability to muster up faith.  We have faith as a result of knowing our God — Who He is.

Secondly, I have come to treasure prayer and to view it as the amazing privilege it is — the opportunity to partner with God in His work in another person’s life and the incredible privilege it is to communicate with God.

I used to think prayer was me, naming off a bunch of requests to God and hoping He would choose to answer some of them the way I wanted or thought they should be answered.

I grew to understand that prayer involved some worship of God.  I remember trying to “tack on” a few worshipful-sounding words in order to meet a higher level of spirituality, or so I hoped.  Sounds really shallow, doesn’t it?!!  To be honest though, my prayer life was often exactly that — shallow.

My prayer life was shallow though because my understanding and therefore relationship with God was more shallow. 

It’s hard to pray to One that you don’t know that intimately, don’t really grasp that His love is unconditional and not affected by performance, and don’t really trust. 

The power of prayer is the One to Whom we are praying.

The problem is we so often don’t really understand God, or our thoughts about Him are based upon misconceptions, twisted truths, and harmful misrepresentations.

I recently read the following quote in the book, Wonder Struck:

The wonder of prayer is rediscovered in Who we are speaking to.

— Margeret Feinberg

Reminds me what God showed me about faith.  Once again, it’s the recipient of our prayers and His interaction with me because of Who He is that makes prayer so vital and so incredible!  It’s not the words, in themselves, that make prayer so powerful.

Prayer is so incredible because it is the opportunity to speak to God or as the following quote says:

“Prayer is the opportunity to bend the ear of God.” — Margaret Feinberg

It’s a big deal because of Who God is!  He isn’t some conniving, selfish, evil, uncaring God.  He is a God who longs to hear our voices, especially when they are lifted in awareness of Him.

Have you ever sat with someone and experienced their inattention or complacency?  It’s not exactly pleasant or satisfying.

A lot of prayer life consists of mumbled phrases thrown out to appease a false view of a vindictive God.

A prayer life is transformed though when we begin to see the amazing and incredible gift it is — an opportunity to commune with an ever-present, ever-loving, ever-powerful God!!!  It is an opportunity to be heard by God but also to hear from God.

This brings me to a third truth.  I read the following quote recently and loved it:

“Hope is confident expectation.”  (Not sure in which devotional I read it.)

Do you see that?!!!  Hope is confident expectation in Who?  The power of hope is in Who the expectation is!  Hope isn’t lasting or “powerful” because it’s something we just randomly possess or stir up in ourselves.  Hope is a powerful emotion that comes from a powerful Source. 

It’s the Source of the hope — what we are expecting or looking to — that determines the resilience and strength of our hope.

As I was pondering the above truths, I was thinking how all kinds of other emotions I can think of owe their power and passion to their source.  If it’s a good source, it can be a good emotion.  If it’s a negative source — a reaction, fear, or bitterness — it can be an emotion that wreaks great destruction.

I couldn’t help but ponder that the authentic reality of truth, love, peace, joy, grace, wisdom, life, hope, faith, and prayer all owe their power to the object or source of their existence: God Himself.

It really is that simple!

This is why I have experienced the pure, authentic fullness of these characteristics only in the Presence of God Himself.

You can pursue peace, purpose, and joy outside of God, but I can personally tell you, it won’t last, and it is only a shallow representation of the authentic reality of knowing the Divine Source!

The secret therefore to the full life is knowing the God of life.  The secret to the above three characteristics is knowing God — truly knowing God.  In order to do that, it may mean laying aside all the false ideas and harmful representations of God so you can finally meet the reality of God Himself.

Additional Notes: 

As I was contemplating these truths further while washing my dishes, it “struck me.”  We often think that people who don’t believe in God don’t believe in God because they are lacking faith or because they are rebellious.  What shattered that pre-conceived idea for me is that just as I need to understand God is my Source of the abundant life so it is with the “unbeliever.”  Perhaps, the person who doesn’t believe in God isn’t about his/her lack of faith at all but more about his/her lack of understanding or false understanding of God.

In other words, how can you believe in One that you think is angry, harsh, uncaring, vindictive, and selfish?  It’s easier to pretend He doesn’t exist than that He does but could be those things.

It is a wrong view of God that is the biggest hindrance to a person’s ability to trust in God.  How can you trust in One you don’t believe loves you unconditionally, perfectly, and eternally?

Rather than telling people they need to have faith, maybe we need to be telling them and showing them more what our God is truly like — not a man-made version of a god but God Himself.  That may mean, we first need to get to know Him more intimately ourselves.

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A Growing Trend…

Supreme Court 1

(FreeImages.com/DavidLat)

There is a growing trend in our society to accept whatever someone else believes, regardless of whether it fits any measurable realities.

I recently watched random interviews conducted on a college campus, asking students if it’s okay to believe you are a different race, gender, age, and height then with which you were born.

For the most part, the students interviewed said that it was fine so long as you were happy as an individual.

The one area most of the students objected about was claiming you were 6 feet 4 inches if in reality you were 5 feet 9 inches.

What’s the problem with believing in something that is not reality?

We could look at all kinds of practical reasons as to why it would create problems.  You might hit your head on a door-frame if you refuse to believe you are the height you are.

It wouldn’t be fair to the other students if you decide you are in first grade when you are in reality an adult with an adult’s normal intelligence.

You might have some difficulty assimilating the full life and appearance of a different race, unless you are a talented actor with a fantastic makeup artist working with you.

I could believe that I am fully Native-American and then I could demand that I receive full scholarships to college programs.  When asked to prove the reality of my claims, I could say it doesn’t matter the way I was born because I feel and identify as a Native-American.  I may receive my scholarship, but wouldn’t my personal preference be denying the reality of authentic Native-Americans?

I could be a soldier and demand I deserve a Purple Heart because I believe that I feel as brave as the soldiers who have earned them, and in my  heart, I believe I have taken a thousand bullets for the protection of others.  I could be rewarded a Purple Heart, but wouldn’t that award be at the expense of the reality of those who truly earned and suffered in order to acquire theirs?

There may not be anything inherently wrong with believing you are something you are not, but we must ask ourselves, “What is at the root of this desire to be something you are not?”  Does it not imply that the person has rejected part of who they are — that there is self-hate lurking within?

Perhaps instead of trying to readjust reality to fit someone else’s denials, we should begin asking the hard questions: “What is it about being tall you like?  Why do you want to believe you are taller than reality would measure?”  In the same way, we could ask, “Why do you want to believe you are a specific race?  Why don’t you want to be the race you are?  Is there something you dislike about the race you are?”

In other words, there are deeper issues at stake in wanting to ignore or redefine reality.

We do society and the individual a disservice when we are unwilling to view things clearly and to clarify the real issues at stake.

I have a friend who has an amazing gift of humor and quick wit.  I love being around her!  There have been times I have wished I had her same level of humor and quick wit.  I recently heard a speaker say that if you are envying someone else, it means you don’t know who you are.  As a Christian, I believe we were all created with a very special and unique purpose.   Who I am will look different than others, but this doesn’t make me less valuable.  It also isn’t healthy for me to say that I am my friend, just because I like the way she looks, talks, quips, and laughs.  For me to deny the reality of who I am is to deny my own value and uniqueness. 

When we ignore reality in preference to an individual’s personal interpretations, we absolve the very tenets upon which true justice can operate and prevail.

For example, what if a person kills someone and decides it’s okay because it is helping them “transcend to a better universe”?  (They are redefining the reality of murder.)

What if a highschool student cheats on a paper but tells the teacher they believe that it’s not cheating: “It’s just equalizing opportunity for everyone by giving every student access to the same information/intelligence?”

What if an employee on the job makes a measurable engineering mistake and as a result, the wrong capacity generator is used and some people lose their lives in the resultant accident?  When the employer fires the employee, the employee then says, “I didn’t do anything wrong.  To me, this generator is the same as the other generator.  Who are you to limit my freedom as a designer/engineer?”

Society cannot function long-term within the instability of ignoring reality to please an individual’s personal preferences.  When the individual is promoted above the well-being of the vast majority, there is reason for concern.

When personal preferences take precedence over measurable reality, there is reason for concern.

An individual can believe what they want, but when it comes to forcing society to adjust to match your own “created reality,” then are we not infringing on the functionality of society and therefore ignoring the rights of the greater majority?

Society cannot accommodate the “personal interpreted-realities” of individuals and sustain a viable structure.  It is society’s “job” to acknowledge measurable realities and to uphold that criteria for the well-being of the whole.

What We Fear Reveals Truth About Ourselves

Sunset

(FreeImages.com/Tatyana Khramtsova)

As I was studying God’s Word today, spending time in prayer, and journaling what God was teaching me, God began once again to convict me and to show me some truths concerning a present battle I am facing.

I am facing the battle of fear concerning a particular situation.  Without relaying more details, let’s just say that this situation has been discouraging.  In fact, in referring to the situation, I have used hopeless terms to describe it.

This morning, God began to speak to me concerning this battle.  He began to reveal to me that the battle I am called to fight requires a long-term commitment and perseverance.  It’s not a battle that is going to be won with a few “skirmishes.”  Another way of putting it is that it’s not a “sprint” that I am called to run but a “marathon.”

God was reminding me that so often when God’s timing differs from mine, I begin to look to others, try to “help” God out by “fixing” the problem by my own methods or means, or begin to accept failure and mentally “check” the situation off as being a losing one and then try to find something else that appears to possibly be more successful.

God was speaking to my heart that the reason why I am not having victory is because I have written “failure” across the situation.  I have assumed the battle is lost or losing so I begin to “back pedal,” compromising my belief in God and His promises and as a result, compromising my actions.  Before long, what I fear comes to pass.

I believe God was prompting me to look at the significance of what I fear.

The question is, “What are we fearing today?”

What you and I fear will reveal the true condition of our heart and beliefs.  They will also be a good indicator of where we are headed.

If our faith in God is solid, we will be able to see past the temporary discouraging distractions of our present situations to the eternal or “bigger picture” of God’s purposes and plans.

Faith is the “key” that unlocks our “spiritual eyes.” 

We can know the truth, but until we believe/embrace it, we’ll never recognize or experience the reality of it personally.

Our relationship with God consists not in what we know about God but in Who He is to us.  What is He to you?

You may say and know that God is gracious, just, righteous, compassionate, etc…, but is He your grace, your righteousness, your compassion today?

Who is He to you?

Putting On Our “Primary Defense Weapons”…

Kendo armor 3

(FreeImages.com/Darya Klevetova)

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog on the first pieces of our spiritual armor: the “breastplate of righteousness,” the “belt of truth,” and the “shoes of peace.”  (https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2016/01/26/putting-on-your-armor/)

Today, I want to share some insights on our primary defense weapons: “the helmet of salvation” and the “shield of faith.”

Prior to studying in detail the armor of God, I used to say, “We need to put on our armor,” but I didn’t really understand what I was saying.  I knew it had to do with God’s Word, faith, righteousness, and peace.  But what specifically did those things mean in relation to how I was to live my life victoriously?  I understood them in theory but not completely in actuality.

The following is a quote from Kay Arthur in Lord, Is It Warfare?  Teach Me To Stand:

The belt, breastplate, and shoes were essential clothing, but the shield and helmet were the soldier’s primary defense against the enemy’s attacks.  The breastplate alone couldn’t shield a solder from the enemy’s fiery darts, but the shield of faith was able to extinguish all of the them.

Back in ancient warfare, the enemy would often use fiery darts to attack a soldier.  Before going into battle, a soldier would prepare for battle by soaking his shield in water.  A soaked shield would extinguish the fiery darts of the enemy.  In fact, every dart would be extinguished when encountering the prepared shield.

In the Bible, God says that we have a “shield of faith.”  So what prepares us to resist the attacks of the enemy?  Faith!

I think it is also important to clarify what those attacks are.  What is the real attack?  Is it difficult circumstances, wounds inflicted by other people, disease, etc…?  So often, we “drown” in the “deluge” of our circumstances because we think that the attacks are the circumstances, the people, the events, or the objects.  In reality, the attacks are the lies that enter our minds in relation to the events, people, objects, and circumstances.

(Yes, the attacks may come as physical objects, circumstances, or people, but our battles are not fought in the physical realm but in the spiritual — the lies that are associated with those events, people, and objects.)

Let me repeat that because it is so relevant:

The attacks are the lies that enter our minds in relation to the events, people, objects, and circumstances that we face.

This is what we often do not understand and as a result, why we often do not live the “victorious” Christian life.  We don’t understand our enemy’s attacks.

Living victoriously is also more than knowing that his attacks are insidious lies, aimed at us personally to penetrate our “weakest links” in our armor.

Living victoriously involves knowing how we can extinguish the lies and guard against all manner of weapons in a full-frontal assault.  It means holding fast the position of victory that Christ already won for us at the cross.

Every piece of armor is vitally important for the well-being of the soldier against all attacks from the enemy.  If any piece is missing, the soldier is at risk.

Let’s look at the “Helmet of Salvation.”

Without a helmet to protect a soldier’s head, all attacks threaten to be mortal.

The “Helmet of Salvation” represents our position in Christ, otherwise known as our “identity” (who we are in Christ).

The following is a quote from Lord, Is It Warfare? Teach Me To Stand:

The helmet is the assurance of salvation, the confidence that salvation brings.  The helmet is symbolic of the fact that you belong to the Lord Jesus Christ and are a member of His forever family.  When you put on the helmet, you demonstrate that you know and embrace your position in Christ.

…When you put on your helmet of salvation, you acknowledge that the enemy cannot crush you, touch you, or do anything to you without your heavenly Father’s permission.

How important is it to understand your position in Christ?  Vitally!

There are three aspects/”tenses” to our salvation.  I love the way Kay Arthur summarizes them so clearly so I am going to borrow her wording:

The first is justification — you have been saved from sin’s penalty.  That’s the past tense — something which happened in your past, and because it did, you’ll never be condemned.

I recently wrote a blog post on the issue of eternal security.  I believe this is belief is vitally important for protection against the potentially mortal attacks of our enemy.  See: https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2015/12/05/the-lie-that-a-lack-of-eternal-security-reveals/.

The second is justification — the present tense of salvation.  You are being saved from sin’s power moment by moment as you live under His control and allow the indwelling Holy Spirit to lead you into all righteousness.

from Kay Arthur in Lord, Is It Warfare?  Teach Me To Stand

We can “quench the Holy Spirit by not letting Him carry out His will in our lives or by singular acts of sin … Your fellowship is broken but not your relationship.” (Kay Arthur in Lord, Is It Warfare?  Teach Me To Stand)

The third is glorification, and it is future.  You will be saved from sin’s presence and given a new body.  Someday, you’ll die and be at home with your heavenly Father and the family of God.  You’ll sin no more.

from Kay Arthur in Lord, Is It Warfare?  Teach Me To Stand

So what gives us confidence to “hold our head high”?  It’s the “protection” of understanding our identity in Christ.  No one can take that from us!

How do we practically live this?  We “walk according to the mind of Jesus Christ which became [ours] at salvation.”  (from Kay Arthur in Lord, Is It Warfare?  Teach Me To Stand)

Here’s an amazing quote from James Fraser, a missionary to the Lisu tribe in China, in the book, Mountain Rain:

…deliverance from the power of the evil one comes through definite resistance on the ground of the Cross.

To live a victorious Christian life, we have to be more than “name-only” Christians.  We need to believe the truth of God’s Word and understand our relationship to it and more importantly, to the God of the Bible — our God!

Let’s look at the “Shield of Faith” now and how that relates to us personally.

Earlier, I alluded to how the “Shield of Faith” was an essential piece of equipment for protection against the fiery darts of the enemy.

I think this refers to belief in God’s Word.  In other words, there is a difference between knowing the truth and being able to recite Scriptural truths and/or passages and actually believing/living according to them. 

You can tell others about trusting in God and that He is a good God, but when difficult times come, you can actually walk in doubt, questioning God’s “apparent” neglect.  You can judge God’s actions based on the seen rather than the “unseen” of what He is working within the spiritual realm.

There are purposes God has that extend beyond the present difficulties of your present circumstances to work something exceedingly better.  This is why we “walk by faith and not by sight.”

The physical realm is temporal, but the spiritual realm is eternal.

Faith is the key to seeing God’s purposes, operating simultaneously within the spiritual realm while using events within the physical realm to accomplish them.

The “Shield of Faith” uses the Word of God, through the power of God (Holy Spirit), to “quench” the attacks of the enemy.

The “Shield of Faith” is embracing the truth of God’s Word and living in the reality of it.

Without a steadfast faith in God, you will be unable to reject, resist, or “extinguish” the lies of the enemy from penetrating past the other pieces of armor into the vulnerable areas of your soul.  The enemy knows where those weak “links” are, and he will go for them, using many different means.  Each of his attacks can be defeated by effectively using the “weapons” God has given to us.

We often think the battle is out there, but the real battle is fought within.

If we take captive our own thoughts with the “weapons” God has given to us, we’ll have guaranteed victory.  Our victory is not dependent upon others and their responses, upon the difficulties of our circumstances, the physical sufferings we might be experiencing, and the wounds of our pasts.

Our victory is always won within us.

Today, let’s embrace the truth of God’s Word, live confidently as His sons and daughters, have the faith to see the “bigger picture,” and be “refreshed” by the Presence of His Holy Spirit that enables us to walk by faith.  May today be lived in the victory of Christ!

2 Corinthians 10:4

(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

2 Corinthians 10:5

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

2 Corinthians 5:7

(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

1 Corinthians 2:5

That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

Ephesians 3:12

12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.

Ephesians 3:17

17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,

 

 

 

 

 

The Simplicty About Sin…

(http://www.freeimages.com/photo/checkmate-chess-1181519)

This past Saturday, I was pondering some truths I had read in Scripture, dialoguing with the Lord, and then He gave me this thought…

It was so “simple” and yet so profound in its impact…

Anything independent from God is sin. 

That means any time our wills are not aligned with God’s or simply put, submitted to God, we are in sin.

Understanding this simple truth is changing the way I pray and is changing the way I view my own sin.

It “emblazons” my sin before my eyes so that I no longer can justify or minimize it.

When I understand that I am sinning when I am not aligned with God’s will in ALL AREAS, I realize that I have a decision to make: I either respond to God’s conviction with contrition/repentance, or I rebel and reject His ways and reap the consequences of my own actions.

Thinking about this simple truth means I have been doing a lot of confessing lately — not prompted by fear or pride — but prompted from my own desire to walk in freedom and for greater communication in my relationship with the Lord. 

I don’t want hindered communication in my relationship with the Lord.

Sin hinders communication.  It produces “soul noise” that “drowns out” the voice of God.

Repentance reopens those channels, “unplugs” my ears, and removes the “blockades” in my spiritual life.

True repentance produces unprecedented peace and joy. 

Understanding the profound truth that my will needs to be aligned with God’s will in order to walk in truth, life, freedom, and righteousness means that I now pray the following prayer:

Lord, may your will be done in such and such a situation…”

“Lord, change my will to be yours in such and such a matter…”

So simple and yet so life-changing!

It does not matter that I want certain things.  Unless what I want is in alignment with what God wants for me at that time or in that way, to proceed ahead would be sin.

Yes!  I have been praying a lot of prayers, asking God to change my will in many matters and asking His will to be accomplished in many situations.  It is so exciting and amazing to be a part of His work in the lives of others and to be receptive and responsive to His leading!

May 2016 be a year of amazing revival in my life, my home, my family, and yours as well!