What is That To You

Repost from Band of Brothers Devotional

John 21:21-22  When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” 22 Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”

john21-22

Peter, Peter, Peter… boy he sure modeled what it is to be scolded by the Lord often ha ha. How grateful I am that we get to know him so well, for I too suffer from foot-in-mouth disease and misdirected heart syndrome on a regular basis.

So as I was reading this passage (vs 15-25) I was more focused on how Jesus was restoring Peter’s heart. Peter had taken himself out of the bigger narrative due to shame and feeling unworthy.

It’s a good message for those who know they have been called but yet so often feel like they come up short time and time again (like me). When Jesus named Peter “The Rock” He did it full well of knowing where he would glorify God and where he would serve himself through fear, pride, ignorance, anger or apathy. Peter’s behavior never put Peter’s calling in jeopardy, he simply needed to be redirected and restored by a loving and grace-filled Savior.

So funny how quickly we can fall back into our old patterns so soon after being restored!

Just a few verses earlier “Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” and immediately after that he’s now questioning Jesus John’s fate.

How easy is it to get so wrapped up in our ministry, family or workplace that we find ourselves preoccupied with how to help “them” get better” or “do” better. But how much did I need to hit my own proverbial wall at 1000 mph before I surrendered and cried to to Jesus?

Sometimes our best intentions can be the very thing delaying someone else’s relationship with Christ. It usually takes the hidden agenda of co-dependency. Sure we mean well, but…

I have been struggling lately with CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) which is basically unexplained daytime tiredness, weakness and a general nagging exhaustion. During a week’s vacation that I’m taking to recenter and refocus on the only One that matters it doesn’t surprise me that He used His word to expose my heart.

And I’ve felt Him asking…

“You have given me your son a hundred times George, when will you believe I’ve got him” 

“You pray for men and women in Recovery Groups, when are you going to trust that I’m guiding them just as I am you”

“You pray for the homeless, the sick, the lost, the broken, the leaders… when are you going to actually believe that the great I AM is on the throne”

I don’t think He is suggesting I stop praying for people and their situations however I do believe He is revealing the way I pray without belief.

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see

Gee, if I ever wondered why I run around stressed out all the time I’d say this is a good starting point.

My takeaway is to become more intentional in recognizing that when I’m ruminating on a problem or situation that I need to question my perspectives and motivations.

Am I focusing on how best to offload the stuff I can’t do onto Him?

Am I looking for the things that I can do under His power?

Or am I trying to change someone else’s experiences and behaviors so I don’t have to worry about them. Or is there something else that I desire out of changing THEIR situation?

But if we’ve prayed for them, or even better WITH them, then what business is it of ours to continue worrying about the manner in which God is guiding them.

We simply participate, Jesus is the one who rescues.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can; 
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time; 
enjoying one moment at a time; 
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; 
taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it; 
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will; 
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next. 
Amen.

Father God, we need your help this day and every day. I say I believe then act as if I don’t. I say I trust then go back to manipulating people or circumstances way outside of my control based on my own understandings of what I think is best. Forgive me Lord, and remind me what true humility, faith, wisdom, courage and surrender are supposed to look like. I can’t know if my life pleases You but I pray that my desire to please You, pleases You. May we all live simply for Your glory, in Jesus precious name we pray… 

[In chapter 7 of John Eldredge’s book Waking the Dead he poses the question “Does trust come easily for you? Are you at peace, full of a deep confidence in God? This blog entry is where I was led after pondering those questions.]

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God, Are We Ok?

Psalm 19:12-13  How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults. 13 Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin.

sin

So there I was in the restaurant with one of my closest brothers and accountability partners. He’s been struggling because his fiancee’ called off the wedding the day before they were to get married and going round-and-round in his head because he feels like he hasn’t been released from the relationship by God but she is clearly making release from her his seemingly only option.

As he was digging under the surface telling me how he has been praying for “God to protect her heart” and nearly in the same breath saying he hasn’t broken off all connections with past girlfriends (not the reason she left him btw) the possibility hit me that God may be doing just that, protecting her heart from his unrepentant flirtations/connections with other married and single women.

Not that he was doing anything outwardly wrong with those other women, but could it not be seen as a betrayal of trust to his near-miss bride if she found out?

Then it hit me like a flood, my own hypocrisy. I say I love God, that I’m all in, yet I have conscious sin that I still fall back on in my deepest moments of anxiety, loneliness or depression. I pictured Jesus as my bride and me “saying” I love Him with my words, prayers and externally visible behaviors, but in those dark and lonely places how easily do I toss Him aside for my own antidotes to what ails me.

And as I sat there listening to my beloved brother, a question hit me like thunder;  “God, are we OK?” I literally let out an audible sound that I couldn’t explain and started bawling right there in the restaurant. The emotion of recognition of how I’ve truly been treating Him hit me hard.

Denial to our own sin is a terrible thing which comes with great penalty.

Even if there aren’t obvious external consequences the price of shame and separation from our Heavenly Father is nearly immeasurable. I had no idea that I felt as shameful as I did until, like David being presented with his conscious & deliberate sins by Nathan, I too was overwhelmed with just how blatant my sin nature has manifested itself into everyday living without even recognizing it for what it is.

And the answer God gave me to the question; NO… I LOVE YOU BUT WE ARE NOT OK.

I know many will jump on the self-condemnation, cross-covers-all train and to some extent that is absolutely true. But willful, deliberate, conscious sin is of the most grievous and heart breaking to God.

As I pressed into the verse above one’s ego could let oneself off the hook for the subconscious sins to some extent, but there are NO EXCUSES for deliberate sin.

I realized in that moment I wanted to start giving God my resume, how often I read the bible, pray, lead men’s recovery groups, seek to be a light bearer in all my affairs in and out of church settings. But as Oswald Chambers puts it: “there are no hidden pieces of hell in heaven”. No stone can be left un-turned.

Galatians 5:19-21 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

If we wrestle with any of those (and others like them!) and are not calling it out for what it is, then as Christians serving the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and body (so we think) are potentially standing in a very long line of believers who will hear:

Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

I know this is a heavy message and some may not agree with the content. But this blog is about my own personal journey of redemption and I seek to freely engage not solely in the joy and freedom in Christ but also the struggles against our sin nature and the effects of The Fall in a broken world.

1 Timothy 1:15 This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all.

And after all of this, God leads me to….

John 12:46-48 I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark. 47 I will not judge those who hear me but don’t obey me, for I have come to save the world and not to judge it. 48 But all who reject me and my message will be judged on the day of judgment by the truth I have spoken.

So, is it Grace + Obedience, or Grace Alone?

Each of us must decide and live accordingly. This is where intimacy with our Savior becomes VERY PERSONAL. Theologians will argue both sides vehemently and make their point/counterpoints quite well.

Which do you choose to believe? 

Father God only you see our true hearts. Reveal to us this day the answer to the piercing question, are we OK? As I take time to quiet my own heart and soul and stop to listen for a reply I lean on the cross and mercy O’ Lord. Show me what true repentance looks like and how much in this sanctification process is mine to do and what is Your load that I could never carry. Thank you Father, I praise Your name Jesus; let it not just be by profession of mouth but of whole body, mind, heart and soul as well. 

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The Palm Sunday Christian

John 12:12-13

12 On the next day the large crowd who had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him, and began to shout, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.” 

palm sunday

Imagine the scene.

Large crowds were there for the festival. Most already knew the buzz around Jesus and many had actually seen Him and His Miracles in person. Whether being fed on the hillside miraculously with thousands of others or seeing hundreds of pigs filled with demons run off a cliff, or the healing of sight, the lame walking and even the dead being raised.

And Jesus was now here, and each person thought to himself  “He is going to save me from my hardships”

How many of you recall your first encounter with Christ. Whether (like me) it was a Saul to Paul conversion of great magnitude that saw immediate freedom from drugs and alcohol so that emotional and relational healing could begin. Or like many there was a moment of clarity sitting in church listening to the same verses and sermons you had heard a hundreds times before when something clicked and Jesus and the Gospels came alive like never before.

For many a feeling of incredible exhilaration followed by extreme devotion. The deeply heart-felt conviction that “I’m all in Lord – Your will not mine be done”. And we pressed into the sacrificial verses with determination that they would become our deepest chore character traits.

“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.

 

 

 

He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.

 

 

If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.

 

 

 

And we replied YES LORD, I’M ALL IN

but then….

As the years roll on and we “work hard” for the Lord, volunteering, leading, maybe even going to seminary and preaching; the years roll on…

And the hardships keep coming, and the emotional struggles continue, and the difficult relationships or health problems persist. There seems to be little rest, and even less reward.

And you begin to wonder; what did I sign up for? I thought….

And there it is, the Palm Sunday Christian.

As the throngs of people worshiped and treated Jesus as a King and gave Him a triumphant entrance into Jerusalem just a week before they were under the impression that Jesus would… would… would what?

Would overthrow Rome?

Would raise up a great army?

Would reduce taxes, increase freedoms, produce food, shelter and work on a scale they hadn’t seen before?

What did you think Jesus was going to do for you? Did he meet those expectations?

I know for me I didn’t think it was going to be so hard. The joy I felt in my heart was because I was sure that all the trauma of my childhood abuse which I was medicating away with drugs, alcohol and pornography was behind me… I was set free.

I thought “now I will become a greater success in my career and get paid what I’m worth” and “now my health will turn the corner and I will be able to do the things of my youth”.

I thought…

6 years down the road of being a Christian and I’m wondering why life is still so hard and instead of finding revival I find the message over and over and over that we are a world at war; not just physically as is so evident in watching the news but more importantly a spiritual battle rages and we are called to stand and fight.

The crowds of thousands who were so happy to see Jesus come through the gates of Jerusalem and downright excited and worshiped and honored his presence just one week earlier were now turning on him chanting crucify… CRUCIFY!!!

They had each drawn up in their own minds what they thought Jesus was going to do for them and it created great joy within them.

They were expecting a free ride that would make their life easier. Let HIM do all the work and we will reap the rewards.

If you find yourself today thinking “this is a lot harder than I expected” or “this is not at all what I thought it would be” it’s time for a heart check.

Was the “pink cloud” experience of those early days, months, years when you first came to Christ based truly on going all in and His will not yours?

Or was it with the hope and expectation that all of life’s hardships were going to go away?

And as we grow beyond the naïve notion that our troubles are going to go away; we are then faced with the reality that being a lukewarm Christian playing church once-in-a-while is nowhere near what He expected when He said Follow Me.

War is hell, and we all, every one of us are called to be soldiers on the front lines. We every one of us has special gifts of the Spirit and abilities we were born with and they are supposed to be used for the Kingdom; we are to be fishers of men, every one of us.

Every day we are to be aware that there is an Enemy who wants to destroy every person on the planet and we are to engage in that spiritual battle. We are to discover our specific Spiritual Gifting and use it for the glory of God.

We are warriors called to battle and the battle is real. It’s time to bust any illusion that following Jesus was going to be a gentle stroll down a well lit path and armor up and get in the game.

Father God, forgive me! As I become more aware that much of my joy in the early years of knowing you was based on my expectation that someday it was going to get easier. That was never your promise Lord. Yes my soul can have rest but the Enemy will never stop coming at me and the ones I love… and more importantly the ones YOU love (which is everyone) and I must always be ready to engage the enemy when I see him trying to kill, steal and destroy. You have blessed me Father with a life free from drugs and alcohol and a heart that longs to worship you. I know that I have been set free but my emotional struggles indicate that I’m still not living free. Help me to accept the reality that my life is not my own and that fighting for and with you is a far more glorious destiny than my little mind would ever dream up. I here and now reclaim the joy I knew when we first met and renounce any place in my heart that reduces you to a gumball machine. You are my Savior and my Lord and my life story will sing Your praises. In the mighty name of Jesus I pray…

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Fear of God

Romans 3:18
There is no fear of God before their eyes”

fear God

Brothers and Sisters we have NO excuses for not gaining wisdom on a biblical scale. What once would take a pastor or biblical scholars days, weeks or even months to research now takes mere seconds with the click of a search button in a bible app.

Case in point: the ABIDE APP has a series on anxiety and offers tools, tips and most importantly God’s Word and prayer to address our worry and anxiety.

Because these are strongholds in my own life (worry of things that haven’t happened and anxiety over things I many times cannot even pinpoint) I desired to look more deeply into the Bible for insight.

What I found?

In the NIV there are:

  • 15 verses on worry
  • 7 verses on anxiety
  • 336 verses on fear

Hmmm, huge contrast! So I decided to dig deeper

Worry
We are basically told about the folly of worry. Do not worry about your life, food or drink, what you wear, about tomorrow, or even how to defend yourself verbally when in confrontational situations. We are asked the question: does worry add a day to your life? And told to “decide to not worry”.

Anxiety
Again we are told of the needless burden of anxiety

Proverbs 12:25

Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.

 Ecclesiastes 11:10a
So then, banish anxiety from your heart and cast off the troubles of your body…

Fear
Here is where the 2×4 of God’s Word slammed me upside the head this morning in a mighty way.
  • 336 verses in total
  • 92 verses on the Fear of God or lack there of
  • 135 verses to Fear the Lord

We are also told to fear the Word of  God, and about those who feared God and who didn’t fear God as being those who were blessed and cursed.

Then it got real interesting, I looked in the right-hand column and saw it was broken down by Old Testament and New Testament. What did I find?

With “Fear Lord God” the breakdown is

  • 38 Old Testament
  • 2 New Testament

This made sense to me. Under the Old Covenant the LAW and sacrifices was the path to God.

Out of the 2 verses in the New Testament only 1 was directly relevant (and what I found spurred this blog this morning)


The Ministry of Reconciliation

2 Corinthians 5:11-21

11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 

12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 

13 If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 

14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 

15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 

18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 

19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 

20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.


How true I find Oswald Chambers’ in my own life.  I still in so many ways live “under the law of sin and death” yet sadly without the OT covenant of fearing the Lord.

I so easily fall back to pride, anger and judgement to build myself up, or fear external circumstances as if they hold the power to make or break me or fall back into sins of performance for validation or lust for escape. So often a healthy Fear of God does not prevent those behaviors but instead an unhealthy view of God convicts after those behaviors.

And from a New Testament perspective of fear I completely miss the “Ministry of Reconciliation” and when I fall into those sins I reap self-condemnation and self-loathing instead of rejoicing in the atoning price that Jesus paid to cover my transgressions.

Our righteousness is not a matter of measuring the degrees of sinlessness we obtain (although that is the goal) but our right-standing with God is what was purchased on the Cross.

Our missionary work in day-to-day life has nothing to do with flogging ourselves over our sin-nature but instead simply to preach the good news of Christ’s salvation available to all who call on His Name and to walk with our heads held high and praise on our lips and worship in our hearts because of who HE is.

To fear God is to exalt Him with our life because nothing in this world holds the power of heaven or hell. Our battle is spiritual in nature and freedom is ours today, purchased by the Blood of Jesus and it will never be about our performance.

We’ve got to get over our focus on us and others and instead focus on the love of our Father who gave us a new name, we are co-heirs with Christ!

Glory to God forever!

Father God your Word cuts life a knife exposing those areas of our old selves that still cling for control and comfort in the flesh… and I thank you for that. The revelation this morning that fear and anxiety are to be tossed aside as folly without another thought because they do nothing but weigh us down. However a holy fear of You is healthy, a reverent fear that doesn’t generate anxiety over our destruction but instead becomes fuel for rejoicing as you took care of our right standing with you through the Cross. Help us Lord recognize the incredible power You have over our destiny and claim with boldness and authority the power of the Holy Spirit within so we can tackle the insignificances of life with a sole vision on the eternal glory that gives us new life, purpose and calling today.  We thank you and praise you in the Mighty Name of Jesus…

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The Unchangeable Choices

We all make hundreds of decisions each day and thousands if not a million in a week.

Some are incredibly insignificant such as what kind of muffin;  blueberry or cinnamon.

Others could have greater impact in the short-term, turn left or go straight at the next traffic light.

And still others take on a much greater importance such as to take a full time job or go to college.

There are also those also that seem life altering and they are; such as getting married, move across country for the career or become a missionary.

As many of our son’s and daughters get ready to graduate high school and potentially move away from home for the first time I think this message of unchangeable choices which hold life long ramifications is critical to convey (or re-convey).

An unchangeable choice is one that once made and the consequences come to bear they can never be undone or if they can be altered it comes with painful consequences.

  • Getting your girlfriend pregnant
  • Catching a sexually transmitted disease
  • Having an abortion
  • Committing a crime
  • Committing suicide

Yes through Christ there may be found forgiveness and redemption however you cannot avoid the life-altering consequences that comes with it.

You can change a house, a college choice, a career and even get divorced and have an abortion but you cannot un-abort, or un-suicide, un-std, or un-steal.

Yes you can indulge in the pleasures and shortcuts in life that Satan puts on our options list, but if the consequences are reaped it will be something you live with the rest of your life.

The expression of wisdom doesn’t comes from knowing you have choices but moreover having the courage to make a stand on the decisions that extend life and promote our dreams and avoid at all cost making the short-sighted decisions that can shut the door on or make incredibly harder the hopes and dreams you currently have.

Father God we pray for protection over our son’s and daughters that are graduating high school and soon to be walking into a major life transition. May their newfound freedom with driving, money, relationships and living situations not tempt them beyond their ability to make wise choices or make irreversible life-altering decisions. Help them to know they always have an advocate in You Lord and that the Holy Spirit within those who are saved will always be the guidepost to making life affirming choices that will open exciting new horizons every step of the way.

We place their care and protection in your all powerful and capable hands Lord. Surround our children with men and women who know You well and will help continue to guide and nurture our children while they are away from us. In the mighty and precious name of Jesus we pray.  

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Man Fully Alive

Philippians 3:13-14

13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

saul to paul

Imagine the shame the Apostle Paul likely felt over and over throughout his life in Christ as he would reflect on the miracle of his life transformation and then the Enemy of our souls would remind him how he tortured and killed the very Christians he now loves and serves.

{links now open to the verses in full context of the point being made}

1 Timothy 1:15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.

Imagine Peter, the Rock himself who when reflected about Jesus greatest and ultimate sacrifice remembers his role of denying Him 3 times then running away in shame and not even being there to support his closest friend; especially after being positive in his soul that “he would die for him”

Mark 14:31 “No!” Peter declared emphatically. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the others vowed the same

Or how about David’s confession and mourning after coming to grips with the horrifying reality Nathan revealed to him about his affair with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband.

Psalm 51:1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.

Also worthy to note there were immediate consequences to sin with the death of his son and curse on future generations. However – He was fully forgiven, considered a man after God’s own heart and in the lineage of Christ!

Consequences of sin is not the same as condemnation for sin.

The point of which I’m prayerful is coming into clear view is that God does not love or bestow calling upon those “other people” who are pure in heart and perfect in faith. He is not looking over our resume’s and determining our value based upon our high morale history.

Romans 8: 1-2 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

Our sins (past, present and future) do come with a price however NOTHING can separate us from the love of Christ or the redemption found through the cross.

Romans 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We are at war. There is an Enemy and he wants us to believe that we have gone too far in our sin. He less concerned about non-believers because in their current state he already has a lock on their destiny. He after believers!

Our enemy wants us silenced and sidelined and he uses shame and guilt and overwhelming senses of hopelessness and unworthiness to take us out.

But God…

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

He does not say He came to save us; to give us the opportunity to barely get buy in our suffering state…

LIFE TO THE FULL

Brothers and Sisters in Christ. Do we glorify our Creator, Savior, King, Comforter, Confidant, and Redeemer from a past filled with wreckage by continuing in strongholds, shame, depression and fear?

Only when we acknowledge that we are at war and we know that the Enemy will constantly be hurling insults and hardships our way will we begin to get over ourselves and recognize that the glory and joy of our new lives in Christ has nothing to do with our circumstances but instead about the glorious new ownership and destiny that is upon us today and forevermore.

FOCUS = FEELINGS

If we focus on what the enemy is doing we are going to be filled with fear, anguish and depression

If we focus on what God is doing we are going to be filled with a confident hope, praise and worship

Gut check: how are you feeling right now?

Are you looking forward to a great day of opportunity to watch God at work in and through you – to be the thermostat setting the temperature in the room instead of the thermometer responding to others emotion states?

Or are you feeling a sense of dread that you have to wake to the same hurtful people, work at the same miserable job, fight the same miserable traffic, scratch for the same miserable existence.

WE ARE NOT VICTIMS ANY LONGER

Everything starts with our attitude. We have to keep forefront 3 critical truths at all times

  1. Yes I am a sinner
  2. There is a God who covers my deficit
  3. I am His and He is mine

With that foundation our lives becomes an outpouring of service and love and response to Kingdom calling. We acknowledge our sin when our flesh or fears rear it’s ugly head but WE DIDNT SURPRISE GOD with it, nor did we disqualify ourselves from “life on earth as it is in heaven”.

WE MUST GET OVER OURSELVES!

Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life

 

John 5:40 come to me to have life

 

Acts 5:20 Tell the people the full message of this new life

 

Romans 6:4 Just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives

So today and everyday we get to choose what kind of day it will be. There will always be hardship, but we have been given the weapons of war by God Himself

 

Ephesians 10-18

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

Father God here our cry. Search our hearts. Leave no hurt uncovered. Reveal to us Lord those places that we still desperately cling to for identity and escape which were born of the Enemy of our souls. Let the voices of our past, the condemnations of those who don’t truly know you be silenced. Write on our hearts Lord the new identity which You purchased for us. We desperately need help to claim our new birthright as Your son’s and daughters, co-heirs with Christ Himself. This is the Good News that we will never be able to give away to others if we don’t first have this message written deeply into our own souls. We have been set free – only through a growing faith and believe in You Lord will we ever be able to claim that victory which likely stands in great contrast to our current circumstances. The Enemy no longer holds claim to any part of our hearts Father, we joyfully surrender to all the goodness You have for us. In the precious name of Jesus we pray…

To learn more about who you are in Christ check out the I AM series

Posted in 12-steps, Addiction, bible study, encouragement, faith, God's story, hope, Jesus, love, Recovery, Salvation, The Cross, trials | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mental Masturbation

James 3:17

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

wisdom

I have spent years studying scripture, attending bible studies, reading devotionals and have invested hundreds of hours in various 12-step and other recovery groups and yet somehow my emotions continue to betray me.

After many recent months of wrestling with this Ecclesiastes-like conundrum in my own life (nothing I do seems to make a difference in how I feel) I have come to a single conclusion.

The pursuit of knowledge alone will never positively affect one’s emotional health or change one’s life.

Much like reading about flying a plane. The imagination of being in the cockpit and soaring through the sky can produce a euphoric sensation as we can really feel like we are flying.

But soon enough reality kicks in and I realize I can’t fly. I could take lessons and learn how to fly… but that takes time, money and great effort. Too much work.

It would seem since coming to Christ I have in many ways simply been in love with the idea of being a disciple of Christ; that my imagination has reveled in how different my inner and outer world “could be” if I woke each morning truly transformed by the gospel.

But that knowledge requires a response

Proverbs 16:32 Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.

Proverbs 25:28 Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.

Acts 24:25 As Paul talked about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.”

1 Corinthians 7:5 Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

Galatians 5:23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

1 Timothy 3:2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,

2 Timothy 3:3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good,

Titus 1:8 Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined.

Titus 2:2 Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.

Titus 2:6 Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled.

Titus 2:12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,

2 Peter 1:6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;

Satan tricks the fool into believing knowledge is wisdom however, true wisdom takes advantage of the new choices knowledge provides and it is the new behaviors that bear fruit. 

It’s easy to visualize a child of abuse being in an emotional prison created by others.

It also shouldn’t be hard to sympathize with that child becoming an adult locked in that same emotional prison even if they are now the key holder created by their own poor choices to medicate through drugs, alcohol, sex, food, etc…

But as we learn that we are indeed set free by the blood of Christ and that God has given us a new name and free will the prison door truly swings wide open.

Why then do so many sincere Christians actively pursuing restoration and recovery continue to struggle with emotional strongholds of addictions, anxiety, depression, poverty and hopelessness?

Fear

Much like the serenity prayer laments:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Wisdom without the Courage To Change is merely mental masturbation  

For many years I have been under the impression that the wisdom I was gaining in pursuit of both gospel truth and the neuroscience of addictions combined with my ability to lead other men toward greater levels of awareness in these areas should be having a greater impact on my inner well-being

Why then with a nearly immeasurable number of of ‘ah-ha’ moments of revelation and clarity do I seemingly still struggle at the soul level with the emotional bondage of lack of self worth and bouts of isolation and mild depression?

It comes down to a lack of self control.

Romans 7:19 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.

How much do we all struggle with living out “the courage to change the things I can

  • We have a toothache but don’t go to the dentist
  • We don’t like our job but don’t persue a new one
  • We have friends who are unhealthy but don’t change them
  • We may be overweight but still eat cheeseburgers and fries
  • We could be out of shape but never even take walks
  • We may have an estranged relationship with a parent but don’t pursue amends
  • We know we are judged by the level we judge others yet still gossip or road-rage
  • We desire deeper relationships but still text more often than we call
  • We may struggle financially but don’t maintain a budget
  • We could feel lonely yet isolate often
  • We know drugs, alcohol or porn are the enemy but we still go to them for comfort
  • We are told we a great person who helps many but we don’t believe them
  • We desire better relationships with our spouse or children but don’t pursue their hearts
  • We love Jesus but don’t heed his commandments
  • We constantly confess our need for more prayer but never make more time

Daniel 9:4 I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed: “Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments

John 14:21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

Yes, the Good News of Christ Jesus is REALLY GOOD NEWS, but response to the gospel requires the courage to make new choices and behave differently.

Simply being aware of the option of living a new life is an exciting prospect but Jesus purchased our freedom that we may LIVE DIFFERENTLY.

Father God, you alone know the hearts of men. Search us Lord and leave no stone unturned. But please Father don’t just leave us with the knowledge and wisdom of our own sin-nature and shortcomings but infuse us with the courage and power to live out the very freedom You alone paid for through Your life, death and resurrection. Help us all to see that claiming freedom comes up far short of  courageously and boldly living free. Let us not mistake knowledge as fruit but instead let our actions bear witness to the glory of God. It is in Your precious and holy name I pray Jesus… 

Posted in 12-steps, Addiction, alcohol, bible study, conviction, drugs, encouragement, God's story, Jesus, pornagraphy, Recovery, Salvation, sex, The Cross | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment