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Archive for the ‘reflections of sermons & literature’ Category

On Wednesday I was posed the question, “What is faith?” Off the top of my head I rambled on, “confident hope in the unseen.”

Today I found myself rejecting several homes via a skype-in real estate tour of properties in Charlotte.  It was difficult to see the houses were not living up to my presupposed expectations.

I had hoped that the houses would deliver a balance of the purpose God gave me for the space along with safety and resale value.  Was it confident hope in the unseen? No. I did not have faith in the houses, I merely hoped they would turn out.

It struck me, hope is suggesting partial assurance in something with or without any evidence.  Whereas faith, is suggesting full assurance and choosing to fully devote oneself to something without any concrete evidence.  How would you distinguish the two?

On my 2-hour drive, where most of my deep thinking occurs on Saturdays, I began to praise God.  Praise you God, that you provided me with a House of Worship.  In the past, I’ve moved and had a place to live but sought out a place to worship regularly for weeks, sometimes months.  This time, I am already deeply challenged to draw closer to God and His Body through the church.

In the same conversation with the dear, mature sister in Christ I mentioned pointed to me as a “Starter,” I also shared about my heart for the persecuted.  Praying not only for the persecuted, but also for the persecutors.  Noting how rich the testimony of an ISIS member-turned-Christian would be in sharing God’s Truth to Muslims around the world.  We see Paul as a free man, confident in the Truths of the Gospel.  However, Paul was a persecutor, turned persecuted.  With confident hope, I too, stand before the world as  a Follower of Jesus.  If my time comes to take a zealous pledge, then let it be known that I love God with all my heart, all my soul, and all my body.  That my living breath is a living sacrifice and that in my dying, I will be forevermore in His Presence.

Point is, I love my church.  The Church is the Bride of Christ, and as He loves His Church, I too love that He has called me to fellowship here at The Station but to also move and join Uptown.  I pray to always remain faithful in my walking, to speak when he opens my mouth, to listen when my lips can no longer move and my ears hear his tender voice.

Confession, I listened to this sermon on my way home tonight, prayed about what I learned, then started it again.

http://www.uptownchurch.org/sermons/worship-cant-stop-wont-stop/

Are you ready to take the pledge? If not, what is keeping you from having such confidence?

After vowing to God tonight, I asked “who is to keep me accountable?”  With a quick reply,  I thanked God that his provision of an answer could only strengthen my confidence in His provision in the face of persecution.   He is the Great Judge, and I praise Him for ruling in His own favor.  Glory be to God.

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Whether you take Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or Monday as a day of Sabbath rest, may you find yourself

  • Away from:
    • Physical labor (Exodus 20:8-11; Proverbs 6:9-11, 24:30-34; Exodus 31:12-17)
    • Fear, worry, and anxiety (Psalm 37:7, Philippians 4:6-7)
    • Amidst trial and trouble (Psalm 55:5-8, 116:5-9)
  • By God’s purpose:
    • Refreshed (Exodus 31:17, Mark 6:30-32)
    • Restored (Psalm 23:1-3, Mark 6:45-52)
    • Gifted (Psalm 127:1-2, 4:8; Proverbs 3:24)
    • Sustained (Psalm 3:5, 121:1-4)
    • Trusting in God’s ultimate sovereignty (Psalm 46:10, Isaiah 30:12-15, John 5:16-18)
    • With hope in God’s ultimate salvation (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelation 6:11, 14:13-14, 22:1-4, 22:20-21)

Most of all, I pray that we too are able to sing this, praising Father, Son and Spirit as we enter into rest:

Lord, I believe a rest remains
To all Thy people known,
A rest where pure enjoyment reigns,
And Thou art loved alone.
A rest where all our soul’s desire
Is fixed on things above;
Where fear, and sin, and grief expire,
Cast out by perfect love.
O that I now the rest might know,
Believe, and enter in!
Now, Savior, now the power bestow,
And let me cease from sin.
Remove this hardness from my heart,
This unbelief remove:
To me the rest of faith impart,
The Sabbath of Thy love.

-A hymn by Charles Wesley-

*Also a compilation taken from David Platt’s Secret Church 2014: Session 4

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“Ten Cross-Centered Commandments for Entertainment and Social Media”, David Platt:

May you set aside the time to study these scriptures and ask God where you may need to make changes in the use of your time.

“If we have been crucified with Christ and Christ lives in us, then how does that effect the way we approach entertainment and social media?”

  1. Fear God
    • “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7).
    • “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3).
  2. Flee sexual immorality
    • Flee sexual lust– wrongful sexual desires yourself
      • “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).
    • Flee sexual immodesty– provoking wrong sexual desires in others
      • “It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble” (Romans 14:21).
      • “…likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is properfor women who profess godliness–with good works” (1 Timothy 2:9-10).
        • This is a lesson I feel nearly all women must face in young adulthood.  I remember my sophomore year of high school (before I knew Christ), my friend had to tell me why my boyfriend just removed me from sitting on his lap at a football game.  I had no concept of sexual-anything. Then, freshman year of college, a brother in Christ took me aside one day to talk about hugging.  He had struggled through addition to pornography and shared that when we hugged it was a lure to consider his old ways.  I had a similar conversation about necklines on shirts and dresses.  Today, when around my brother (21 and doesn’t know the Lord), I sometimes get complimented on clothing and other times get called Amish.  Nonetheless, I know that my clothing should not lead someone astray.  I know girls, we also have our weakness, especially at the beach, gym, etc.  This is a concern, may we be strengthened in a way that strengthens others: modest (Proverbs 27:17).
    • Flee sexual allurement- including inappropriate emotional attachment outside of marriage
      • “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:223).
      • “My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding, that you may keep discretion, and your lips may guard knowledge.  For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword.  Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol; she does not ponder the path of life; her ways wander, and she does not know it” (Proverbs 5:1-6).
    • Flee sexual looking outside of marriage
      • “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin? What would be my portion from God above and my heritage from the Almighty on high?  Is not calamity for the unrighteous, and disaster for the workers of iniquity?  Does not he see my ways and number all my steps?” (Job 31:1-4).
      • “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous (Hebrews 13:4).
    • Flee entertainment that exalts, glamorizes, jokes around about, and/or makes light of sex outside of marriage
      • Ephesians 5:3-12
  3. Speak wisely
    • “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit.   You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:33-34).
    • “And now, O sons, listen to me: blessed are those who keep my ways.  Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it.  Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors.  For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the LORD, but he who fails to find me injures himself; all who hate me love death” (Proverbs 8:32-36).
    • Think before you speak
      • Proverbs 10:19, 11:22, 13:3, 15:28, 17:28, 18:2, 21:23, 26:23, 29:11, 29:20; James 3:5-10
      • “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20).
        • Will what I say adorn the gospel?
          • Proverbs 15:23, 16:13; Titus 2:9-10
          • “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body: (Proverbs 16:24).
          • “At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison–that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.  Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.  Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Colossians 4:3-6).
        • Will what I say glorify God?
          • “Let the words of my moth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).
          • Matthew 5:13-16
    • Avoid evil and angry speech
      • Proverbs 10:11, 12:18, 15:18, 18:6, 20:3, 25:23
    • Avoid retaliatory and inflammatory speech
      • Proverbs 17:14, 20:22, 23:9, 26:17, 29:8
    • Avoid gossip and slander
      • Proverbs 10:18, 16:27-28
      • “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear…Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4: 29-32).
    • Avoid grumbling and complaining
      • “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:14-15).
    • Avoid saying on a screen what you wouldn’t say in person
      • 2 Corinthians 10:8-11
  4. Communicate honestly
    • Proverbs 12:17-22, 19:9, 25:14, 1 Corinthians 4:5
    • “All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirit” (Proverbs 16:2).
  5. Cultivate humility
    • Proverbs 11:2, 20:6, 24:17-18, 27:2, 29:23, 30:32; Mark 8:34-36; 2 Timothy 3:2;
    • “…Humble yourself before the Lord, and he will exalt you” (James 4:6-10).
  6. Have accountability
    • Proverbs 5:7-13, 13:1, 19:20, 19:27, 27:17; Hebrews 10:24
  7. Maintain mastery
    • “‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be dominated by anything” (1 Corinthians 6:12).
    • Galatians 5: 16-26
  8. Guard your heart
    • “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23).
    • From envy and jealousy
      • “But godliness with contentment is great gain…” (1 Timothy 6:6).
      • Philippians 4:11-13
    • From pride and ambition
      • “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).
    • From unhealthy friendships and unhelpful associations
      • Proverbs 1:10-16, 4:14-15, 12:26, 13:20
      • “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals”‘ (1 Corinthians 15:33).
  9. Renew your mind
    • “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).
    • Beware of falsehood
      • Romans 16:17-18, Colossians 2:8, 2 Timothy 4:3, 2 Peter 2:1
    • Beware of filth
      • “I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless.  I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me” (Psalm 101:3).
      • Proverbs 2:12-22
      • “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8).
    • Beware of frivolity
      • Proverbs 12:11, 15:14, 26:18-19;  1 Peter 1:24-25
  10. Redeem your time
    • Ephesians 5:15-16, Proverbs 10:26, 14:23, 19:15, 24:30-34, 28:19
    • Make the most out of every opportunity
      • Acts 17:17-18, Colossians 4:5
    • Don’t neglect other priorities
      • “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
        • Your time at work (2 Thessalonians 3:11-12)
        • Your time to rest (Psalm 127:2, Mark 6:32)
        • Your time with people (Matthew 22:39)
        • Your time with God (Matthew 22:37)

And always pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

*These are compiled from David Platt’s Session 4 sermon from Secret Church 2014.  All black font is exact, sometimes shortened, but the integrity of his sermon notes remains.  I have added commentary in a separate color.

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“Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you obey?”  

(Romans 6:16)

In Psalm 51, as David cries to the Lord, “Purge me with hyssop and I should be clean,” it is notable that he understands that the penalty for his sin is death (v.7).  The story of his sin and its’ cost can be read in 2 Samuel 11 & 12.  His sin must be paid for.  Pastor David Platt adds, “in our sin, we can only approach God through the sacrifice of another in the place of our sin.  That kind of cleansing is costly for that sacrifice and free for us.  This is the wonder of God’s grace” (“The Confession of Man and the Compassion of God”, May 10, 2014).

Paul’s letter to God’s people claims that sin’s power has been broken! He continues to say, “we are no longer slaves to sin.  For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin…Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves in righteous living” (Romans 6:6-7,18).

Platt introduces a third truth in his sermon, “Confession is the connection between our sin and God’s grace.  How can you and I be clean before God?”

Cry out, cry out to God.  And if you do not have the words, you may use David’s (Psalm 51):

Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins…
Against you, and you alone, have I sinned…
Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; Wash me and I will be whiter than snow.
Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Renew a loyal spirit within me…
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you…
You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one.
You do not want a burnt offering.
The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit and repentant heart, O God.

Through honest reflection, we come to believe and live a life reflecting God’s grace.  For man hides no secrets from God.   There are no more cover-ups for our sin before God.

We cannot live by the standards of the world, for then we become slaves of the world.  Rather, we must concentrate on the laws and personal words from God.  In the narrative of David’s life during the profession of these words, we find, “The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them.  People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).  David is not trying to cover up what he has done any longer.  He is justified before God’s eyes and boldly asks God to rid him of his transgressions.  He is a man humbled in confession.

Platt explains that David understands, “sacrifice is an outward ritual that must reflect an inward reality.”

Yet, we as David did as well, continue to struggle.  Paul stencils such a personal conviction (Romans 7:7-25):

If there were no law, sin would not have hat power [to arise such desires within me]…[Sin] uses God’s good commands for its own evil purposes.  So the trouble it is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good.  The trouble is with me, for I am all to human, a slave to sin.  I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it.  Instead, I do what I hate…

…I have discovered this principle of life–that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.  I love God’s law with all my heart.  But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind.  This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.  Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Remember that Jesus is the answer, and because His death has claimed victory over sin for all of mankind, we can rejoice, knowing that “not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:38)!

Press on, even if you must chant it as a reminder, press on:  “I press on…Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.  I press on” (Philippians 3:12-14).

And when faced by temptations, tribulations, and feelings of defeat, prepare for battle.  Paul has left us with strength and encouragement (Ephesians 6:5-18):

Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on all of God’s armor so you will stand firm against all strategies of the devil.  For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world…resist the enemy in the time of evil.  Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.

Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.  For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.  In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop fiery arrows of the devil.  Out on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.  Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion.

Are you practicing outward rituals that reflect an inward reality?  If so, is it drawing you nearer to God or further under the captivity of your sin? What is God calling you to? Where is your blame, do you know that your sin is against God, and God alone? What are you repentant of?  May you find the time to devote yourself to this honest reflection of your personal stance.  Stand firm in God’s Truth and know that you have the full Armor of God as you approach battle.

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August 13, 2014

The woman was convinced.  She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her.  So she took some of the fruit and ate it.  They she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. At that moment, their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness.  So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves…So they hid from the LORD God among the trees…Then the LORD God asked the woman, ‘What have you done?’ ‘The serpent deceived me,’ she replied. ‘That’s why I ate it.”

Unfortunately, Genesis 3 can be attributed all of our guilt, shame, and suffering.  Because of Eve yearned for what she could not have, we too yearn.  Thankfully, through the life of Jesus, we as believers have Good News. There is victory over death.  “The Scriptures tell us, ‘The first man, Adam, became a living person.’ But the last Adam–that is Christ–is a life-giving Spirit…Let me reveal to you a wonderful secret.  We will not all die, but we will all be transformed!” (1 Corinthians 15:45, 51).

In times of defeat, where we feel deceived by the serpent, let us concentrate on the life-giving Spirit.  Mark Driscoll speaks on these verses,

It is interesting, isn’t it? The first Adam forgot who he was, the last Adam didn’t. When Satan came to Jesus, he said, ‘Do no put the Lord your God to the test.’  He went back to the issue of identity.  I know who I am, so I know what to do…The issue of identity comes down to being in Adam or in Christ.  The first Adam turned from the Father in the garden, the last Adam turned toward the Father in a garden…In Adam there is defeat, but in the last Adam, there is victory.  In Adam there is condemnation, but in the last Adam there is salvation…In Adam we are cursed, but in the last Adam we are blessed.

Where is your identity? In times of trial, when battling mental or physical illness, are you in Adam or in Jesus?  Who do you cry out to or who do you blame?

Eve chose to eat from the tree, desiring its’ wisdom.  She was unaware and then her eyes were opened to the shame.  God made it clear then when she told them to not eat from the tree.  Now we have Scripture, “Look to God’s instructions and teachings!” (Isaiah 8:19).

“When we choose to sin, we choose to suffer.  And when we break God’s laws, we also break God’s heart,” (Mark Driscoll, “Good News Before Bad Advice”).

I know I fall short, but I do not desire to break God’s heart.  Rather, I’d like to be a recipient of transformation, “God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy to those who please Him” (Ecclesiastes 2:26).

May we have the strength to obey Him.  Oh wait, my prayer has already been answered.  He promises, For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him” (Philippians 2:13).

It is true, “According to the path of Good News, Jesus changes who you are and helps you change what you do. Who you are determines what you do.  Jesus says it this way, ‘A good tree bears good fruit,'” (Mark Driscoll).

Therefore, no matter the trial you are in, you have a choice.  A choice to follow the path of deceit or to remain obedient.

“You’re identity precedes your activity…The decisions people make are in light of who they think they are.”

Who do you say you are?

Are you an heir to the Kingdom of Heaven?  Do you own your physical body or do you yearn for your perfect, heavenly body (1 Corinthians 15)?

Whatever the weight is on your shoulders, know that on the path of Good News, “In Christ you are not just forgiven, you are new.”

Reach out.  Find a Bible.  Call a church.  Become a member of Jesus’ Church.  Wear white, for you are made new.  He treasures you as His bride.

Nothing about Jesus is imperfect. Nothing. God’s love for His people is immeasurable.

Do you accept it?  Can you embrace the identity He has gifted you?

My favorite image will remain,

Abraham willing to sacrifice his son

Abraham willing to sacrifice his son

God’s love for Abraham was so abundant that he allowed for a lamb to substitute the offering of his son (Genesis 22).  However, God’s love for His people allowed an everlasting offering.  Where God dismissed Isaac, He replaced all sin by offering His only son.

Jesus Christ gives us new life.  Although it doesn’t always feel physical, know that your burdens are lifted.  That the pain of mental or physical illness is not too heavy for God.

As a follower helped Jesus carry His cross, allow Jesus to help you carry yours.

You belong.  I belong. We belong to a great Family.  Our Father knows discipline, mercy, grace, and love in its’ perfect form.

Brene Brown, Ph.D. and researcher of shame and vulnerability says this quite well, “Belonging is the innate human desire to be apart of something larger than us…True belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world. Our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”

Allow yourself to be seen. And once you reach that place of vulnerability and Jesus has transformed you, may it not be the imperfections of man that the world views, but rather may you be seen for the example of Christ that you are unto humanity.

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August 12, 2014

This would be the part two of a previous post; however, I came to the rationale that perhaps what was written should have never been broadcast.  Either way, somehow it was unsaved and vanished from my computer’s memory.

That leaves us with this.

The death by suicide of Robin Williams has brought public attention to the seriousness of mental illnesses. I pray that as media begins to lessen the attention on specific suicides, overdoses, school shootings, etc. that we as the people do not forget the impact such illnesses have on individual choices.

I have a deep respect for how Pastor Mark Driscoll accounts for the separation of Christians and non-Christians, he states, “For the Christian, this life is as bad as it gets.  For the non-Christian, this life is as good as it gets.  And that is what I want you to understand.”

Either way, life is difficult.  We each have our short-comings.

I don’t want to act as if I am an expert on anything about Robin William’s life, and therefore will only add this one bit in reflection.  Matt Walsh has been receiving a lot of criticism for his chosen words in reflecting the passing of Williams.  I personally appreciate his boldness in recognizing the danger of messages such as “Genie, you’re free.” as posted by @theacademy.  Positive references allow onlookers to re-examine their thoughts about attempting to take their own life.  Scientifically, speaking of suicide does not increase the probability of one taking his or her own life; however, when an individual is seeking an escape from the current burdens of their own life and are holding on for one reason only.  Perhaps the reason is the impact it will have on those left behind or the fear that it is a lasting decision.  Speaking of peace and freedom weighs heavier on the “it is time to let go” versus the “fight to keep holding on” side of the battle.

Considering taking one’s life is a battle. Choosing to reach out is bold and the first sign of ambivalence.  If you are the receiving end of the conversation ENGAGE, take it SERIOUSLY, and LISTEN.  God is using you, and can save a person’s life–both the physical body and the salvation of their soul.

As a suicide prevention counselor the key is to always allow the caller to feel they are in control.  Therefore, we are not permitted to take suicide off the table for them.  Rather, we lead the struggling individual in a temporary partnership to seek alternatives.  Mental illnesses can be blinding to the individual; our job is to say the words and not be afraid: suicide…depression…suicide.

Warning signs are crucial.  Are your eyes open to the needs around you?

Mark Driscoll says this,

I want you to see when you meet with people and when they tell you what has dropped on their life..they ask one question, ‘What should I do?’ …That is a sacred moment, a significant moment, a strategic moment.  I want you to see that they have just opened the door of their soul to you…they have invited you in, they are trusting in you. And Jesus has placed you there, in that moment, to be the person they talk to, and invite in.

The words of Mark Driscoll that I have chosen to include in this reflection and proactive invitation to all my readers was spoken to the American Association of Christian Counselors at the 2013 World Conference.  His words are not in response to any one particular tragedy.  He speaks according to God’s advice for good counsel in leading with preaching the Good News before offering human advice.

He understands that “for a lot of people, they never get to this moment.  They will suffer in silence.”  Take the invitation seriously.   As an individual who has been the counselor or friend in several conversations about the threat of suicide, I ask you this: Don’t feel responsible for another individual’s life decisions.  And if the unfortunate does occur, don’t feel guilty.

Be prepared that even if you are willing to say the words, to approach the intimate moments of reflection, to speak of the hope in finding new identity, unfortunately sometimes, we do not witness the victory we hoped to see.

I do pray though, that you see this bit of honesty and know it is not an excuse to run from the hard conversations.

I must also add, if you read this and think this is a reason not to unload your burdens on someone, please reconsider.  If you can’t think of someone you trust that could engage with you about your thoughts or concerns, you can start by calling a hotline to talk or to consider a prevention plan.

On the hotlines, I am told to guide the caller to answering their own questions. Sometimes I feel led to comfortably share a little good advice.  But am told not to share the Good News.  When God needs His Truth to be known, He opens opportunity for me to engage in clear waters.

I am here.  God has gifted me with a compassionate heart.  And this year, He has led me to feel the sorrow and victory over the mercy shared. Please know, it is by God’s strength that I am able to listen, to comfort, to lift high, to cry with, and to rejoice with you when the time is right.  May you find a person to trust–whether it be me, your family member, a dear friend, pastor, or mentor–that can tell you the path of obedience, the path to salvation, the path to dancing in the glory of God.

And if you are reading this thinking, I could be that person for my husband, for my friend, for my sister, for my– you fill in the blank.  Please recognize that it is important to first humble yourself.  It is not by our authority that we share words of knowledge in someone’s life, rather we submit to the authority of God’s Truth and by that we wisely comfort as He embraces the individual in their vulnerability and pain.

“When two people relate to each other authentically and humanly, God is the electricity that surges between them.” – Martin Buber

My prayer, whether it be God’s design to raise and lift up the spirits of these individuals struggling through mental illnesses in their current bodies.  To restore these physical bodies.  Or it is His ambitious, God-glorifying vision to meet with them and to fully resurrect their bodies into a Heaven-ward individual in the future.  Either way, our purpose is to make disciples of the nations.  Let it be known that God is with us in our struggles.  Let it be known that we have life, we have hope, and we have a new identity in what Christ has offered by the sacrifice on the cross.  All has been done, nothing needs to be done.  We cannot do anything to make up for the lives we have lived in sin and fear, rather, we must hold on and grip the Truth, the life of Jesus Christ.  For it has been done and we are free.  Let us live in freedom, not choose death to be free from life.  Let us walk in confident hope that our identity is a reflection of Christ and not dictated by the fall of man. We are presently free.  Lift off the chains and claim victory over disease!  God is in control.

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March 30, 2014

One week later, from speaking with my friend on the topic of sexual immorality and being redeemed, washed clean by the Lord’s forgiving grace, and God answered with “Thy Will Be Done,” a sermon series from the Rock Church in San Diego, California (http://www.sdrock.com/messages/2014-03-30/).

Today, I woke up too late to attend my own church.  God pursued me by opening my mind to attend the church where I began sponsoring a girl through Compassion International.  Five years later–for the second time ever– God asked me to attend Rock Church, and He inspires a deeper declaration rebuking the hold Satan has in our lives.

Pastor George Clerie interviewed Maria Sainz on “Spiritual Identity Theft.”

We see this Spiritual warfare demonstrated by the shepherd-turned-anointed king in 1 Chronicles 21 as “Satan rose up against Israel and caused David to take a census of the people of Israel.”   David’s right hand man, Joab, asked, ” But why, my lord the king, do you want to do this?  Are they not all your servants?  Why must you cause Israel to sin?”  Still, the captain of David’s army followed instructions and conducted the census.  To which, “God was very displeased with the census, and he punished Israel for it.”  David said to God, “I have sinned greatly by taking this census.  Please forgive my guilt for doing this foolish thing.”  God then allowed David to choose from one of three punishments, and once the angel of death left the people, Israel was forgiven.

Maria considers our bodies as a mobile home, the place of warfare between Satan and God.  However, the Devil has been stripped of his power by the Cross, he needs our help to succeed.   His weapon is deception.  The enemy uses our wounds to make a legal contract with him.

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly (John 10:10).

“What we give power to will rule over us…When under the influence of the enemy…you no longer go the direction the Father has for you;” therefore, we must first break our contract with the enemy to fully receive peace and forgiveness.  It is by forgiveness that we are cleansed of our filth and revamped into the likeness of Jesus.

Sanctification is a process in which we grow intimate with God as He molds us into the image of Christ Jesus.  Once you have relinquished Satan of his power over you, you begin the process of sanctification.

You may enter into this state of rest with a loving Father.  For God sent His Son before you, has written a love letter to you, and forgave you.  Pastor George Clearie shares, “God is not mad at you, He knew you would sin!”  We serve a proactive God, not reactive.  For He intentionally made you just as you are, chose you individually, and loves you uniquely (Psalm 139).

Excitedly, Maria shared: “Our birth right is to experience the fruit of the Spirit!  Jesus rewrote the contract.  We are no longer bound by law but redeemed by grace!”

May you come to live intimately with God, captivated by His attributes, proclaiming  “I don’t know how this works, but I follow the guy that does!”

Through personal trials, Maria has developed four stages:

  1. Recognize a lie you have been agreeing with
  2. Repent: Ask God for His forgiveness, for His justice to prevail
  3. Renounce: Break the legal agreement the enemy has with you
  4. Refill: Replace the lie with God’s Truth, make a divine exchange

You have God’s permission to rebuke the enemy in the name of Jesus Christ, the Almighty!  Maria describes this divine exchange as the opportunity to be released from your bondage, experience the true freedom of Jesus Christ, receive a baptism of love, and receive a fulness in Christ.

A guided prayer led by Maria: in cooperating with the Spirit of God, expect a break-through:

“Heavenly Father, in the name of the LORD Jesus,

I recognize that I have sinned by agreeing with the enemy in a lie.

I ask you to forgive me for any bitterness I have held against that person for this incident.  Any rejection, any fear, I release this to you now.

I thank you LORD that it is done and over with.

I ask, Holy Spirit, come, tell me your Truth, and fill me. “

Selah.  Stop and rest in the LORD, listen to His guidance.

I am personally captivated by modern psalmists.  By that I mean, Christians humbling themselves at the throne of Jesus, writing poetry, singing praises, honoring His very name.

Strahan’s album Posters is a compilation of this very idea.  In which, they sing “Wells”:

Well I have bought fire and I’ve bought ice
I’ve sold myself and I’ve sold lies
And I’ve walked these streets I know these roads
I know the beat they’d tell you so
And I know
I need grace more than I ever have before
I’ve done one thing and separately
have done the other I don’t mean
I’ve knelt to pray and walked away
And not listened and not forgave
So I say
I need your love now and I need it now to change
I’ve seen the wells with dirt be filled
Stood in the dessert left to melt
And I’ve felt the rain through my veins
To see the wells open again
My heart now changed
You give your Spirit when I give my life away

This is your chance to change, don’t walk away! May you be able to look Heavenward, declaring:

You give life, You are love
You bring light to the darkness
You give hope, You restore
Every heart that is broken
Great are You, Lord*

Two songs to consider in your contemplative spirit, surrendering before the Lord Almighty: “Dead and Gone” by Elenowen, *All Sons & Daughter’s “Great Are You Lord”

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