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Freedom To Trust Part 2

 

Most of the time we use these words interchangeably, but there is a difference between faith and trust. What follows is my random thoughts on the topic. I created this list over a period of about 3 months. Please feel free to add your thoughts as well in the comment section –
trusting

Faith is assurance of hope and conviction of the unseen – faith makes us certain of realities we cannot see.

Heb 11:1 – Faith is being sure of what we hope for. It is being certain of what we do not see.

Faith is believing. Trust is acting on belief, regardless of if there’s sufficient evidence to support a belief – trust is acting on belief in spite of evidence.

2 cor 5:7 – We live by believing, not by seeing.

The common denominator in faith and trust is God. In faith, we have assurance of what we believe, in trust we hold to our beliefs regardless of what the world, the flesh, or the enemy throws at us.

2 cor 4:8-9, 18 – We are pushed hard from all sides. But we are not beaten down. We are bewildered. But that doesn’t make us lose hope. Others make us suffer. But God does not desert us. We are knocked down. But we are not knocked out. So we don’t spend all our time looking at what we can see. Instead, we look at what we can’t see. What can be seen lasts only a short time. But what can’t be seen will last forever.

Faith is a noun – it is a thing – something we possess. It is often belief without proof or evidence. It is confidence. Faith is internal. Trust is a verb – it’s something we do. It is the manifestation of faith. It is relational. It says I will act on my beliefs. Trust is commitment based on evidence or experience. Trust is external.

James 2:24 – we please God not just by what we believe but by what we do!

Faith assumes there’s no physical evidence and exists all the same. Trust is based on evidence – which is why it is so fragile.

Jn 20:27-29 – Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here. See my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen me but still have believed.”

Faith is thinking someone is trustworthy – Trust is the ability to act as if people will do what they said or be who they said.

Faith is something that happens in our spirit, while trust is something that happens in our soul. Faith is spiritual, trust is relational.

There is always risk involved in trust.

Faith is saying this chair will hold all my weight. Trust is jumping up in it and shouting O captain! my captain! Our fearful trip is done!

Imagine a snow cone – faith is the ice, trust is the flavoring poured on top. They belong together – one without the other just doesn’t work.

You can have faith in God and be saved – and no matter what you will always be saved. Even then you can still be bound by negativity, strongholds, fear and rejection. Or you can move into a deep relationship full of blessing, joy and rest by trust – by actively following God’s direction and by surrendering your will to him. Trust gives life to faith.  Trust is what sees you through this (often crappy) thing called life – without trust everything falls apart.

Faith is believing God is able to change an impossible situation. Trust is knowing he will!

Faith is knowing how awesome God is. Trust walks in the power of his presence. Trust advances the kingdom. Trust changes the world. Why? Because trust enables us to live out our faith in the midst of everything the enemy throws our way.

James 1:2-4 – My brothers and sisters, you will face all kinds of trouble. When you do, think of it as pure joy. Your faith will be put to the test. You know that when that happens it will produce in you the strength to continue. The strength to keep going must be allowed to finish its work. Then you will be all you should be. You will have everything you need.

Trusting people with bits and pieces of your soul is scary if you have been hurt. Trusting God when you are suffering is hard. Your belief tells you one thing, your experience tells you another. But, trust that is born of faith will help you move forward, regardless of what you are currently experiencing.

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Freedom To Trust

 

But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.”

freedom to trust

I want to start by saying this – my pain is not unique to me. I understand that. I know that there are countless others who have been through more and have endured it with more grace than I have. I know that there are those who have dealt with more than just feeling left out in the cold by God – there are those who have faced, are facing, pain and suffering and even death, who still continue to place their trust in God, and not just for healing but for joy, peace and rest in their day to day lives.

What I have been through in life has been hard for me. What you are going through may or may not be as hard or harder for you, and you may or may not be struggling with trusting God to give you the strength to endure.

The fact is, what I have faced in life, I did not face the right way. I took the burden of these things upon myself, and because I (and we) am (are) not equipped to handle these things, I reacted badly at every turn. I blamed God. I thought he turned his back on me, so I turned my back on him. I cursed him, I cursed myself, I cursed my calling. I hated him for what I thought he did to me.

I was not the first to feel this way and to react this way, and I won’t be the last.

Maybe that’s where you are. Maybe you’re just hanging on, right at the tipping point. Maybe you are about to turn your back on the one who can give your life back to you – and he will redeem everything, if you will just take his hand and trust him.

Maybe you have already fallen and don’t know who to trust anymore. Maybe you have no idea how to move past where you are – living moment to moment, day to day, just waiting for something good to happen that will take the pain away.

I lost trust in God. I saw my circumstance as bigger than God and it enveloped me, consumed me and almost killed me, because I let it – because I thought I was a lost cause and because I believed that God himself had given up on me.

What changed? Well, I actually said these words out loud, “God, you have brought me here to die!” And within days, I was reminded (in a sermon at a church I visited for the first time that day – that I almost didn’t go to because I wanted to sleep!) that the Israelites said the same thing, not very long after they had been rescued from Pharaoh’s hand.

They were wandering in the desert, never more than a few miles from the land God had promised, but because they didn’t trust God, their entry was delayed 40 years.  The generation of people that left Egypt were not the ones to inhabit the land – they actually did die in the desert, but God didn’t bring them there to die. They chose that for themselves.

They were supposed to walk from Egypt to a land flowing with milk and honey and take possession of it, but they didn’t trust God to provide for them. God answered their whining and complaining – by providing for their needs. And when they arrived at their destination, God told them to go in and take the land, but they didn’t trust him – all they saw was people who would crush them.

God’s plan was not for them to have to fight to take possession of the land – all they had to do was trust him, and go in and claim it. But because they couldn’t trust him, that generation lost out on the promise, and the next generation had to fight tooth and nail to have it.

I don’t want to be like them. I don’t want to have to wait 40 years and then still have to fight for everything. I want to trust God now – I want to be able to walk into his promise, settle into it like it’s a big squishy bean bag, and watch him do all the heavy lifting. But I’m still not there yet. I’m still struggling with trust issues. But I’m almost through it now – I can feel it! The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!

I’m still learning that God is worthy of my trust and has no intention of letting me down – and what follows are some of the things I’ve learned along the way.

Stay tuned – next time I will post some differences between faith and trust – thanks!

 

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Prepared To Be Annoyed

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If you were to google “pet peeve” you could spend the rest of the year reading and not come across the same thing twice. I know we all know what pet peeves are, but here’s a definition anyway – A pet peeve is a minor annoyance that an individual identifies as particularly annoying to themselves, to a greater degree than others may find it. The thing is, we can take what is “minor” and major on it the rest of the day.

I have a few pet peeves – the big one is people who don’t turn into the correct lane. Now, I understand if you’re turning left and have to make an immediate right turn that you will not be staying in the left lane very long, if at all. That happens to me every day after picking Zoey up from day care. I turn left onto Davis, then I have to make a right turn in less than 40 yards onto Cardinal.

I also go slowly, make sure nobody else is turning into the lane from the opposite direction, and I USE MY STINKIN’ BLINKER.

When I have to go to the office for some reason, the road I drive down is 3 lanes. It comes to a stop where you either have to turn left or right. The middle and right lane have arrows for a right turn, and the left land has an arrow for a left turn. Sometimes people in the middle lane turn left. I never turn left, so I don’t care about that. But if I’m in the middle, I turn right into the outside lane. Along with all of the people in the right lane who also turn into the outside lane instead of the inside lane.

Every time I have to go this way I end up almost getting my car smashed into, and being the almost smashee, you’d think the almost smashers would wave or say sorry or something. No. They honk and/or throw up an “obscene hand gesture” every time.

I also have a peeve involving spelling, punctuation and grammar. I’m not a nazi about it. I recognize that people can misspell words, throw a preposition or two at the end of a sentence (hopefully not the same sentence though, because they are not good to end sentences with with) and sometimes when a person is in a hurry, spelling is less important than getting an idea on paper.

What bugs the everloving snot out of me is repeat offenders, people who should know better. Exspecially on social media. I’m not trying to offend anyone here. But did you see what I did there?

There’s a difference between a personal style of writing and a person who comes across as uneducated. I would expect it of a child – I lovingly correct my children’s grammar and they both continue to improve. But adults – please – PLEASE – stop just firing off your broken English, garbled and misspelled facebook and twitter updates about the neighbor’s dog or how they put too much whipped cream in your drink at Starbucks.

Now, the last few sentences show you how people can get about their pet peeves – we rant, we become irritated, we experience indignation. Righteously so – how dare anyone do these things!

It just seems like we step out of the house these days already prepared to be annoyed.

I don’t know what’s going on in the world these days. But I know this – we need to get over ourselves a bit and instead of going straight for our guns we need to start letting people off the hook.

Are you perfect? Yes or no?

To quote God here a bit – “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Have you ever commanded the morning to come? Have you ever shown the sun where to rise? Where is the snow kept? Have you seen the storehouses for the hail? Do you send lightning on its way, and does it report back to you, ‘here we are’? Can your voice thunder as mine does? Well then put on glory and beauty as if they are your clothes, and put on honor and majesty as well and let loose your great anger!”

If anyone has a reason to be peeved, it’s God. We were created to take dominion over his creation, to care for it, to tend it. To love and respect it. And that includes people, too. And what we have done is the opposite. We have ruined the earth, we are at war with each other and if there’s one thing this world lacks it’s love and respect.

If I was God I would not be so patient with us. I’d send the lighting. And some giant hail. To all those people who type “your” instead of “you’re” for a start, then I’d work my way up. Or down maybe.

I guess it’s good that I’m not God, and even better that God is love. God is love! And because of that, because he IS love, he is very patient with us. He must be, since we are all still here. Can you imagine God’s list of pet peeves? Since he’s perfect, it would include everything everyone ever has ever said, thought, done or not done.

Not only is God love, but because he is love, we should love one another – because anyone who does not love does not know God.

And, because God is love, those who are in Christ are no longer under a death sentence from God. We are now filled with his Spirit because of what Jesus did. Because he loved us! Because he loved us, we are free from the law of sin that brings only death – we are free to be who God created us to be!

So give me a break if I do my grammar wrong or forget the turn signal. And I will give you a break for your ebonics laden twitter updates. Maybe if we can all start to see each other as what we are – fallible human beings – maybe then we can start to turn this thing around. What do you say? I’ll give it a try – let it start with me, and let’s see where it goes from there –

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In The Beginning, God

nebula

 

The first four words of the bible are some of the most important words ever written. They dispel virtually every thought of the worldly, scientific mindset our culture is enmeshed in. We depend on data. If there’s no input, there’s no progress – that’s one thing that’s never changed. What needs to change is the source of that input.

In the beginning God…But after that, we.

We tried to become our own source. The world we live in was created by the Word of God, but as masters over this creation, we have formed it in our image. God created the world and gave it over to mankind to rule, and then Adam made a choice to trust knowledge over the life-giving power of God. We’ve been trying to get God’s attention ever since.

In the beginning God created. Then with what He created, he formed some things as well. We were formed from dirt by God, then He breathed His Spirit into us. At that time, we were perfect, fully alive, 100% connected to Life. Our choice was to remain connected, or to not.

God placed man in the Garden – the first temple – the place where He dwelled with mankind. The Kingdom, heaven, was here. And at that time we walked the earth alongside God. At that time, we saw as He saw, we thought as He thought, we lived as He lived. Genesis 2 reveals that in the garden were many kinds of trees, and in the middle of the Garden there were two – the Tree of Life, and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

God said they could eat from any tree except one. They could have apples, pears, bananas, kiwis, oranges, peaches. They could have life and it was all good.

In the middle of the garden were two trees and a choice to be made. They could eat from the forbidden tree or not eat from it.

Rather than call upon God, they chose on their own and did what they thought was right. And then, banished from that first place of worship, physically, spiritually and mentally, mankind has sought to find a way back to God on his own terms ever since.

We try to do good, thinking it matters, but we have forgotten that in the beginning God. We learn all there is to know, and by our observations try to understand even more, but we forget that in the beginning God. We make plans, formulate hypotheses, create, innovate, build, rebuild but in the beginning…God.

We deny what we are trying to do by striving. We say there is no God. We trust the scientific method, we try to unlock the mysteries of the heavens and die in that attempt never having found what is all around us, right in front of our eyes.

For this reason Jesus came to die. To break the cycle of mankind’s struggle to “get it” on our own – to solve the problem of the knowledge of good and evil. Remember, knowledge of good and evil are both fruit from the same tree, and neither bring life. Bob Hamp has said, “When the problem is knowledge, more, or better knowledge is like pouring gasoline on an already blazing fire.”

The more we know, the farther we are from God. Jesus came to give us life, to reconnect us to God, to make us citizens of the Kingdom. And if you’re His child, the Kingdom is here, and you are living in it right now.

You can walk with God, just like in the beginning. You can know Him. He can be your source. The cycle of striving for more can be broken. You eyes can be opened to what is all around you. You can see as Adam saw in the beginning.

We have proved, over and over again, that our desire is to know God, but the means to do so is beyond us. We can’t get to the Kingdom trusting our own way. We have to make a willful choice to not trust our will. We have to make a willful choice to lay down our will and enter the Kingdom of God.

In the beginning, God. It will end the same way. How you walk through the middle part is up to you.

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Rocks In My Pockets

Let the one without sin be the first to throw stones!
rocks-in-pocket

I grew up in the country. My dad had some land, pretty far away from anything civilized. When I was 4 and 5 years old, the road wasn’t even paved – it was gravel. I would walk up and down that road all day in the summer heat looking for rocks. Not just any rocks – different rocks. Shiny ones, dark ones, rocks with what I thought were dinosaur fossils in them. Whatever I found went into my pockets. I was out for several hours one day, and I had so many rocks my pants wouldn’t even stay up!

I loved rocks, and I still do. No matter where I am, if I’m walking, I always look at the ground in front of me for some kind of new treasure. I have a box full of nothing but rocks somewhere around here.

The thing about rocks is, as I mentioned before, they can get heavy. They can weigh you down. If you carry them around too long, they can make you weary, and when you become weary, you can become weak, susceptible to all kinds of things.

Today I was reminded of a story. In John 8, Jesus was in the temple teaching, and a crowd of religious leaders brought a woman to him caught in the act of adultery. They reminded Jesus that God had commanded such a person to be stoned – the Law commanded that the woman be executed by having rocks thrown at her.

After a time, and after being asked repeatedly what they should do, Jesus agreed with the crowd – stone her! But the stipulation was this – that the sinless person in the group be the first to throw.

Well, there was nobody who could claim to be sinless. Not in the presence of the Son of God. The crowd dispersed, leaving Jesus and the woman. He asked her, “Where are your accusers?”

That’s the question I am asking myself. Where are my accusers? Who stands to condemn me? The answer is, there’s me and there’s Satan.

My pockets are full of rocks. I collected them from the Enemy. I filled my pockets with them and I’ve been trying to climb out of a ditch, weighed down by lies.

I look at the people around me, the ones doing amazing things, and I think, I could never be like that. I’m not good enough, I’m not smart enough, I’m not strong enough. When in reality, I’m just carrying too many rocks.

What I learned from this story was amazing. I learned about grace. Grace is a tidal wave and it just keeps on coming. Max Lucado has told the story of the first time he saw the ocean. He said, “The waves just keep coming and coming!” The waves never stop – they wash over you, knock you over, they surround you and you can hardly keep your balance and they just keep coming and coming.

Grace is what surrounds me, just like a giant, crashing wave. I’m blown over by it. It never, ever stops. It doesn’t stop when I question everything, it doesn’t stop when I have doubts, it doesn’t stop when I wonder what’s next. It doesn’t even stop when I accuse myself.

Jesus stands by the Father, interceeding for me, and because of him, those accusations have no weight anymore. There is therefore now no condemnation for me or for anyone who is in Christ Jesus! I don’t have to go to church and see people doing what I know God has called me to do and think, “I could never do that.” I wasn’t born to carry rocks – I wasn’t created to be weighed down by the Accuser. I was born to run! I was born to soar like eagles!

Jesus stands between you and the rock throwers – even if you’re the one throwing rocks at yourself. Grace – that’s what happened for me today.

If God is not accusing you – and he’s not – and if God loves you – and he does – who can stand against you?

Empty the rocks from your pockets! Don’t be burdened anymore by a weight you were never meant to carry! Let Jesus do his job – let him carry it – empty your pockets and be free!

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Here And Now

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

on earth as it is in heaven

Tonight at church I heard a great message on The Lord’s Prayer. I was taking notes, getting a lot of good information – practical stuff – and it was really good, then God kinda got into my head. I started remembering something weird, something I haven’t thought of in nearly 40 years – plantar warts. I told you it was weird.

When I was 9, we lived in Tulsa, OK. It was summer, and I ran around all day without shoes on. So my feet were totally black on the bottom by the end of the day and I had to scrub to get all the dirt and asphalt off.

One day I noticed a little spot on my heel, but didn’t think much of it. But as time passed, I noticed it was getting bigger, and that it started to hurt. Not when I put pressure or weight on it, but when I wasn’t standing on it. I had no idea what it was, but it was really driving me crazy.

It just kept getting bigger and kept hurting more, so I did the most reasonable thing I could think of. I went to the kitchen sink, got a knife, and dug it out of my foot.

Now, there was pain involved, some blood, I may have had a panic attack as well. But I kept at it. Bear in mind that this was at the end of the day, and I didn’t wash my feet first.

So, now instead of the sore on my heel, there was a giant bloody crater. And within days, there was also a raging infection. When I could no longer stand the pain, I showed my mom what I did. And if I told you she completely lost it, well, that would be understating things.

I had to have a little “operation” in the doctors office. I had to take pain pills and antibiotics. I had to wear socks and shoes! Which, to this day, I still do not like.

As I was thinking about this experience, I began to see also what God had in mind for me to learn tonight. We all have little spots, little sores, in our soul. And we try so hard to cover them up, dig them out, fix them on our own. But our effort is never sufficient. The best we end up with is a crater – a hole that we dug ourselves into and have no hope of getting out of.

But that is not what God’s will is for us! I Thessalonians 5:16-18 says this – “Always be joyful! Never stop praying! Be thankful in all circumstances! This is God’s will for you, in Christ Jesus!” I added the exclamation points, because dang – is that awesome or what?

I think we get to that point by remembering who God is – he is love, he is peace, he is everything that is good, and he is holy. And he wants the conditions that exist in heaven to exist on earth, too. And the way this happens is through us – we bring heaven to earth. When we can see God for who he is, and when we see ourselves as he sees us – not as damaged, but whole; not as sinful, but washed clean; not as losers and rejects, but favored sons and daughters; not as powerless, but as filled with his Spirit – then he fills the earth with life, and he does it through us.

I have never had another wart of any kind since then, and from the time it was all healed up until today, I never once thought about it. God reminded me of that experience so I could remind you all – we need God! We can’t fix ourselves – the fixing we need is beyond us and can only come from a source outside ourselves – it can only come from one who’s very breath is life.

What is the Spirit saying to you right now? Take some time to listen. Just be quiet for a minute. Shut off the TV, set your phone aside, and listen. If you listen, he will speak to you – if you hear his voice, and respond to what he is saying, your entire life will be changed! Your here and now will be completely transformed into something that you could never have imagined in your wildest dreams – you can be free!

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The Flower In My Yard

Flower in my yardWe moved into the house we live in now about 11 years ago. It was just me and Cheryl and Trinity back then, and we had plenty of room for all of our stuff – my books and tools, Cheryl’s piano, Trinity’s toys and baby bed.

I love doing yard work, and this yard was a challenge from day one. It was a combination of Bermuda and St. Augustine grass, with a few weeds thrown in for good measure. So I had a choice – do I used the yellow bag of weed and feed, and kill the St. Aug, or do I use the purple bag and kill the Bermuda? Purple bag it is –

For the first 3 years, it was an unholy struggle. I was out yanking weeds almost every day, all spring and summer. Yanking, pulling, digging, patching in new sod, watering, fertilizing, spraying. And in the 4th year, our yard was amazing! We had a four inch covering of thick beautiful grass, front and back, and I was so happy!

Except for one little thing – no matter how much I sprayed or pulled or dug, this one stupid little white flowery weed always came up in the yard, every year, always in the same spot. I used to tell Trinity to go pull it, and she did, then one year she thought it was pretty so we left it. I mowed around it once a week, and when it got hot in the summer it would go away.

11 years I’ve been hating that stupid white flowery weed.

And now we are selling our house. We’ve been cleaning and painting and patching and throwing stuff out and hauling other stuff to storage for weeks, maybe even months. And about a week ago, that stupid white flowery weed came up in the yard. I saw it and sat down and cried like a baby.

Our first daughter was barely 6 months old when we moved here. It’s really not much of a house, and we actually couldn’t afford it at first, but we made it work. This place has seen the best and the worst of each of us. 5 years in, and little Zoey showed up. It was a tough pregnancy on Cheryl. Right about the time she was supposed to deliver, I got a kidney stone and missed almost a month of work with it – long story – and at the same time, the church we had been planting shut down.

I’ve had 5 different jobs since we moved here, Cheryl’s had 4. We had to declare bankruptcy about four years ago – another long story –  and almost lost it all. It was so bad that winter, within about a 3 week period, our lights were shut off, our water was shut off and Cheryl’s car was repossessed. But we made it through.

We have been happy here, we have been depressed here, we have recovered here, we have been set free here. This is not just a house, it’s a home.

Don’t get me wrong – I want to move. It’s too small for the four of us. And I’ve never lived in one place this long. It’s an old, small house, and in spite of our past, our present is awesome, and our future, although unknown, is so bright we have to wear shades. We have faith in a great God who has brought us here, who is propelling us into a destiny that he set up for us before he even created a thing. He is steadfast even when we can’t be. He’s the rock, and often we are like the weeds.

So, in spite of the things that happened today (taxes, toilet overflow, missing work to stay home with a sick kid, spilling paint on the floor, and about a dozen other things), we are moving on. And we won’t look back. There’s no time for that, but I may look down every now and then – on the foundation that was built while we were in this place, and for that stupid white flowering weed…I cry every time I think about it. I will never forget it. Not as long as I live.

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God Thinks I’m A Loser

 

I was standing in the front of the church, weeping. Sobbing. I had been through the whole church service – from the first song to the final prayer. A nice lady sitting in front of me went and got me a box of kleenex, which I used up. So in addition to being screwed up, I thought I also owed God a box of tissue.

The man I was standing with had a gold badge on. Don’t remember his name. He held up his hand, and a man with a silver badge came to stand with me. He said some things I don’t remember, but one thing I do remember, quite well. “How do you think God sees you?” And my answer was, “God thinks I’m a loser.”

I came to this point in my life after years of struggle. I was a pastor in a church, and the staff was fired. I had sent out resumes, had interviews, had some hope, too – at first. As the months and years went by, I lost all hope, gave up and didn’t even care anymore. Then we found ourselves standing in front of the church at Gateway.

The minute we walked into the building, my whole family sensed something, but we didn’t know what. Later we knew, but at first it was foreign, but a good feeling. When the service started, we just stood there listening – we knew a few of the songs, but the impact they were having in our hearts prevented us from saying a word – we were broken and alone and for the first time we actually understood that.

And when it was all over and the pastor invited people to the front for prayer, we were the first ones there. I think we even ran a little bit. We didn’t even see it at the time but for the first time ever we were actually running toward God.

For years as a pastor, I thought I knew everything. I always knew what to say and do – several times in my 15 years, I was called on to preach at very last minute (like right before the service started!) and I would take my bible and go up and the words would just flow out of me. That’s part of who I am – I just always know what to say.

In all of that, I looked good on the outside – like I had it all together – but on the inside I questioned everything – my calling, my salvation, if God was really real. What I discovered was, although I was saved, I never really knew Him at all.

That changed, quite dramatically I should add, that day standing down in the front of Gateway Church.

I found out that God created me as I am on purposed, for a reason, and that He loves me no matter what. That pastor went a step further – He said, “God is love and He loves you, but you know what? He LIKES you too!”

I never felt like God liked me. I thought my purpose was to be an example to others of what not to do with your life. Believe me, that was the enemy. I had listened to his lies for so long that they became who I was. I was living a lie.

It took almost 2 years to work past those lies. Some victories came immediately – healing started that first day at our new church home. Others were fought for and won the old fashioned way – with heavy artillery. AKA prayer, fasting, more prayer, counselling and prayer. And lots of praying.

Now, as opposed to thinking I know everything, the only thing I am truly aware of is this: I am God’s, He is mine. I can see who I am to Him, and I am wonderfully made, powerful because He resides in me – I am the temple! And I take His power and His image and His Kingdom with me everywhere I go. And wherever I go, I am called to do the same thing Jesus did – make disciples, bring peace and rest – and to take dominion. Not to dominate, but to let His Spirit so work through me in every place and every situation, that all those around know that His Kingdom is at hand.

“Come to me,” Jesus said, “And I will make your burdens light! When you can’t carry your load any longer, I will give you rest!” Can you believe that, for yourself, right now? Can you begin to see who you are, through God’s eyes? Take a minute and ask Him right now – “Who am I?” And listen for His answer – you might just be taking the first steps on an incredible journey to freedom!

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Terrified

terrifiedI have been scared a few times in my life. Once, when I was a teen, I had parked my car at a friend’s house and went out with some other friends who picked me up. Nobody was at the house, so several of us left our cars there. We got back late, I got in my car and was driving home, when a face appeared in the rear view mirror! It was my friend who’s house I parked the car at – but I didn’t know it! I pulled over and got out and ran like crazy!

This type of scared is normal – a shock to our system, where our heart pounds in our chest, and we instinctively run away.

Then there are situations that we avoid because we are scared of them. This is fear that has taken hold of us. Instead of us being in control, we give the control over to something that most likely will not happen, to an imagined idea or concept. This is not normal.

A good example for me is flying. I am scared to fly – I avoid flying. But you know what? I had to fly to Chicago last year, and to San Diego. I swallowed my fear, got on the plane, and believe it or not, we didn’t crash and I didn’t die.

I have another fear I’m dealing with though. This one goes way deeper – into the roots of who I am. You see, I love people, I love helping people, I love listening to people. I was a pastor for many years, and my gift of helping and the way I listen was a huge part of my success. But those gifts were turned back on me in a very bad way, and I my wife and I were both hurt badly in a church setting, by Christian people.

It took years to get past the pain, the anger, the bitterness. But we did, and we are involved in ministry in our church as volunteers and we love it – we use our gifts to help people every week. But I am still clinging to fear – fear that if I do what God is calling me to do, I will be hurt again, and I don’t want to go through that ever again!

This fear is unfounded, not based in reality, but still in my mind and heart it is such a real thing. It is actually terrifying to me to think that I might be a pastor again some day. I actively avoid that thinking and conversations where it comes up.

This is a stronghold in my life. Because of this stronghold, my ministry is limited in reach – I will never be the person God created and redeemed me to be with this fear in my life. And yet, it persists.

I know the steps, and I have led people through them myself, on overcoming a stronghold. This battle takes place in my mind, and is played out in my flesh, and affects my spiritual relationships. I know that the bible says I can be transformed by the renewing of my mind, and so much transformation has already taken place – but this one thing persists. Our weapons to fight these attacks are spiritual in nature – prayer, fasting, worship, reading God’s word, listening to his voice instead of the voice of the enemy. And I do these things. But still this fear has hold of me.

What it comes down to is, I have given up space to the enemy, and he has built a strong fortress. I may need to tear it down brick by brick, or God may just give me complete victory over that. Either way – I have given satan the right to be there. Until I take it back, he’ll be a part of everything I say or do or think or feel. And that is not right or normal for a son of God.

What kinds of fears or strongholds are you dealing with? What steps are you taking to recapture ground that the enemy has taken? Please talk to me about this! I would love to hear what you have to say!

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Zephaniah 3:17