Friday, November 25, 2011

The Courage to Change: Praise & Thanksgiving

Here in America we celebrate a holiday called 'Thanksgiving'. We cook a big turkey, make mashed potatoes, and have pumpkin pie. A lot of folks though, don't really understand the title of this day of feasting. I hear a lot of people calling it "turkey day" instead. People have forgotten how to give Thanks. The word promotes 'want', 'desire', 'lust', and 'greed'. We have forgotten how to give thanks, and some of us have even forgotten, 'what' Thanks is. We are taught to want more than we have. If we search even deeper, we would find that by 'instinct', we want what we do not, or cannot have. It's a part of the sinful nature of man.
I think it is rather ironic, that the day after "Thanksgiving", is called "Black Friday", and it is a day of want, want, want, greed, greed, greed. Everyone wants what is on sale, even if they don't really need it.
The US has forgotten the meaning of "Thanksgiving"....And we have forgotten the reason for giving Thanks.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 ~ In everything give thanks: for 'this' is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

1 Chronicles 16:34 ~ O Give thanks to the LORD; for He is good; for His mercy endures for ever.

Psalms 18:49 ~ Therefore will I give thanks to you, O LORD, among the heathen, and sing praises to Your name.

Psalms 30:4 - Sing to the Lord, O you saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness.

Psalms 30:12 - To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you for ever.

Why do we give Thanks? We give thanks firstly, because we are blessed. What greater gift have we been given than eternal life? What more moving gift have we been given than the death of Christ in our place for sin? You see...According to the law and most likely wouldn't even exist right now. But, Christ bore the penalty for your sin on the cross. He also rose again in order to be a victor over not only sin, but death its self. Do we not have something to be Thankful for?? Why do we all live as if we are still under the law? We whine over this, we whine over that. We doubt, we cry, we panic. We fear everything will crumble right under our feet. We fear life, we fear death, we fear every breath. Why? I think a lot of it is because we do not give thanks. And we do not believe that God is in Control.

"In everything give thanks...How do we do that? Obviously, there are hurdles in our lives that we don't always feel thankful for. There are people in our lives that sometimes we would rather see punished than give thanks... even when they hurt us. We would rather cry ourselves to sleep, sit in misery, or scream out that we are dissatisfied. We see giving thanks as a fantasy, of some sort of 'pretending' to not see the circumstance as it really is. This is not true. Giving Thanks is not a cop out, or refusal of reality. If anything it is the opposite. Read the rest of the Scripture..."In everything give thanks: for 'this' is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."

 Give Thanks in everything 'not' because it is easy, not just in the times you have everything that you want. But also in the times you are going through the worst trials. Give Thanks, Praise God...through 'everything'. For it is 'the will of God' that as His child, you do so. When we give thanks to God, even when we are experiencing hell fire; when we praise the Lord, even when we don't feel like it...We surrender our pity, our pride, our situation to God, and a proclamation that "We trust Him", and we realize that in order for things to get better, we must think on what is good, and not get caught up in pessimism and doubt.

 If we do not praise God in our storms, we get caught up in our pain. We think on it, mull over it, all the way to depression. Those who do harmful things to themselves are the fruit of those who did not 'give thanks, or praise God' in everything. My friends, we no longer have to be under the law of guilt, or sorrow. Jesus Christ has paid the penalty for our sins, and those of others. Giving Thanks even in the hard things, is almost the same as the concept of 'loving those who spitefully use you'. It's like 'praying' for those, who abuse you. God wants our hearts not to be tied down so tightly to this earth. In reality, He wants us  to live lives in the light of Liberty.

Stop being in bondage to your pain, or to the lies of others...Give God praise in all circumstances. He is worthy of your consideration, of your honor, and of your worship. Only when we surrender our pain, our sin, our relationships, our concerns to God will we begin to change. It's by making the decision to Worship Him, even in the hard times of our lives. Choosing to cling to our pain, our hurt, our not only prideful, and is detrimental to our selves. God knew we would experience trials, and tribulations. He knew that the world's and other peoples' sin still would have their arrows, that bring hurt, and pain etc.

Life was not fair to Christ, so it is not fair to us...But Christ has left us an example, and He has told us that it is God's will that we do not let sin, or it's fruit overtake us. It is alright to be angry. But do not stay angry over night. It's alright to feel sorrow, Jesus cried...but do not let sorrow steal your Joy away in serving the God of Liberty and Consolation. God wants us to live in the world, but not 'of' the world. Those of the world, who do not know the Christ, have no hope when bad things happen. Do not be like the heathen who have no hope. Do not ignore Christ and the healing He can bring. Remember, His is in You, and you are in Him. You are not your own, nor are you ever 'alone'. When people hurt you, they hurt Christ in You.

When you are guilty, ask for forgiveness and move on...Christ has died for You. Christ has Risen. Christ is with You. This is enough to give thanks for. Let Christ give you peace, even in the fires of life. The fruit of the Spirit, proves that love, peace, long suffering...are not supposed to be seasonal. Sometimes it may be hard to see God in the bleak moments of life. It may be hard to pray for those who are rude to you. It may be almost impossible you think to love those who have hated you...But listen, every time you choose to love instead of let hate eat you up, every time you let your focus go on a God, who is: FOREVER good, gracious, holy, loving, just, powerful, and merciful you do yourself a giant favor, and you do others a giant favor.

You save yourself from letting evil, sin, and injustice win. It's similar to what I was mentioning in an earlier blog post, on offenses. People can harm you, bad things can happen, mistakes take place, but if you let them consume you in thought, attitude, and reign over your living you let them win over you. Only believing the truth, praying or praising God...will set you free from not only hatred, bitterness, but lies and brokenness etc, etc!
 * * * * *
I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise will be continually on my mouth. My soul shall boast in the LORD; the humble shall hear and be glad. Magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together! I sought the LORD and he heard me and, and delivered me from all my fears.They looked to him, and were ashamed. This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encamps round about them that fear Him, and delivers them. O taste and see that the LORD is good!; blessed is the man that trusts in him. O fear the LORD you his saints; for there is no want to them that fear Him. ~ Pslam 34: 1-9
 * * * * *
Come all ye creation! Come praise the Lord for His Goodnes! He is Forever Faithful, He is Forever Good. Come all ye sinners, come all ye saints, come all ye broken, fearful, and faint.
Come praise the Lord for His Mercy. His Love endures Forever.

Focus on Christ. You are His child. Everything else should get second dibs. You belong to Jesus, and he has sacrificed all for You. Focus on His goodness today, give Him what He deserves. When you let other things, your circumstances, other people's wrong doings, your own wrong, completely 'consume' you, you are pushing Christ aside, and living as if He is not all that He has proved to Be. Live in the Liberty of Jesus, Praise Him! You have so much to be thankful for...Try and focus on the good things.

Jesus has given you in your life. And Praise Him in your storms as well. He is Faithful, and He is True.. Taste and See! that the Lord is Good!

Lay everything else down before His feet.

Lay Um Down - Music Vid version

Lay Um Down - w/ Lyrics bellow

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Courage to Change: Lies & Doubt

Lies. They tare us apart, they crush us, the consume us, they deter us.
Lies. We believe them and they take us over, they trigger our reactions, they make us change for the worse. Lies. Those things you thought you would never believe, those little whispers you thought
you never listened to. Lies.

Lies are built upon false evidence, lack of understanding, lack of wisdom, lack of reason, lack of love. Lies are one of Satan's best weapons against us and our faith. What a person believes, no matter who they are, no matter what religion they are, or where they grew up, determines their lives. Discover what a man believes, and you will get an understanding as to what you can expect or not expect of him. Search inside and realize what it is you believe, and you will be able trace how it determines your actions.

There is no man that does not believe in something. In order to be agnostic, you must first believe that God doesn't exist. What you believe determines not only how you react but who you will become. Every story, every character, can be an example of this, whether fictional or historic. What a man believes, or 'thinks' to be true or not true, determines how he will act.

Today as I was pondering disbelief, I realize that certain things I have entertained in my mind, certain doubts, are actually 'lies' that I have believed. And I have believed not only these doubts, but the major lie that says 'there is no way out of the doubts'. I have come to the understanding that if I am doubting anything, it means I do not believe it, therefore I am either basing that belief on either a truth or lie.

If a person does not believe that the Bible is true, he will not account to the reality of sin. He will sense that something is 'bad', but he will not have reason to condemn it. In such a cases a landslide takes place... this is how Countries crumble, this is how Empires are formed. Evil becomes nothing more than a point of view, or an opinion of the individual. Humanism begins to break through the ground and spread forth all over. If a person does not believe in the reality of the devil, and lies he will fall prey to every lie, and base his theology on every false hood speakable. Do not let doubt have a grip in your life, not in any area.

Let your view on the Bible, crumble from truth to fiction, and you loose grip on reality. Let lies root and they will try and take you over. People believe all sorts of lies. They believe that nothing is worth while in life if they are not successful, if they are not married, if they do not have a girl friend...they believe that it is alright to kill children, that it is not sin to have sex outside of marriage...they believe that they are really another gender than they were born as, and that homosexuality is acceptable and good. People believe lies such as 'they aren't pretty', 'they aren't loved', 'they will never change'. Almost any problem you may have, or any change you want to make, comes down to ridding yourself of lies, and breaking your ties to them.

I sometimes wonder how this is possible, because I give lies too much power, because at times I believe the 'lie' that 'lies are more powerful than my will'. I must instead believe that Jesus has more power than any lie that I may believe. That He can free me, and fill my mind with the truth. I must not put my faith in my own power either, I must put my faith in the Lord. The fact is, If I am in Christ, no one can snatch me out of His hand. Satan would like to pull down the shades, and make me think I am alone, lost, and helpless, but it is not true.

 I like to think of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader movie, where Lucy believes the lie that she is not pretty, or special, and bases her actions on that lie, even to the point of stealing a spell to make her look like her older sister Susan. I think this is a powerful example, because she wakes up as in a dream and looks in the mirror and she is her sister Susan. She opens the mirror like a door, and exits to an outside party. There she meets up with her two brothers. She asks where "Lucy" is. And the brothers both do not know who she is talking of, and say there is only three of them....Lucy doesn't exist.

Lucy wakes up out of this dream and looks in the mirror to see herself standing there, Aslan, the Great Lion comes beside her and speaks to her, and asks her why she has doubted that she is beautiful the way she was created. Lucy realizes she has been believing a lie.

Other examples can be found in almost every single piece of literature you can pick up. I like to use movie examples, but recently I've been studying the "classics" of literature, and finding they are perhaps some of the greatest examples of the power of belief, and lies. Especially, when you take a look at the lives of the Authors themselves, it is really insightful.

Pride and Prejudice, Frankenstein's Monster, Red and Black, I'd say any of the well known books you can pick up, no matter the time period, author, or genre...they all are not only the story of a character who believes something that motivates him in some way, but the Author who writes out of the sack of his own, painting words and ideas with his theology and with what he himself believes. We are most quite aware of 'wordview', every artist is a prophet of his or hers worldview. And you, may or may not be a prophet of your worldview if you are isolated, but you are a product in many ways, of what you believe.

 I am a bit amazed at some of the lies I have believed, I realize that I have been affected by them, even though I didn't consciously receive them. It was more like, the lies had seeped in without me realizing it. I must say that most of lies I have ever believed, are not ones that anyone else told me, but ones I told myself. Can you relate? No one perhaps has looked in your face and told you "You are Ugly", but you believe it none the less. Perhaps no one has ever said to you "I do not love you", but you cannot help thinking you are not loved. What scares me the most is the fact that the enemies lies can get away with, and doubt can get away with leading a person, even when they're void of statements, reason, facts, or proof!

Lies are the basis for Fear and Doubt. Fear is "false evidence appearing real", which means 'fear' is really a 'lie' that one believes and wraps ones emotions around. Doubt is quite similar, only doubt is a lie that one wraps their intellect around, rather than their emotions. I challenge you to break free from the lies that you have believed. You have to want to do it though. You must be brave. Do not believe the lie that says "you are not brave", and "you will never be"...For once step over the red line of fear, doubt, or pride and prove that the lie is mere lie after all. Earlier on I blogged something about "Offenses".

"Offenses" are usually the breeding ground for lies. If you are offended by someone, whether you are hurt by them, back bitten by them, or yelled at etc.. these circumstances, incidents, are perfect atmospheres for the planting of lies. If someone hurts you, for example you may believe the lie that says "everyone will hurt you", if someone treats you wickedly you may believe the lie that "everyone will treat you wickedly". What lies have you been believing? Have you been believing that perhaps your sin is unforgivable? Have you been believing that God isn't real? Have you been believing that you are all right in our relationship with God, but you are really pushing Him away?

 In my opinion Pessimism can be the produce of a mix of fear, pride, and doubt. Severe Pessimism is usually the fruit of a lie that has been believed by the individual. Sadly, a lot of us believe lies and base our actions and lives around them. Many do not realize they are even doing so. Most do not realize that when they believe something, whether they believe something is true or not, their belief, is leading their lives. May I say...that we all need to surrender our beliefs to God. We need to surrender our beliefs, not only the ones of Him, and of Others, but also of ourselves. We need to hand over our fears, hand over our doubts, and in doing so, kill the lies.

A lie is not powerful if we do not open our hearts to believe in it. Lies attach our intellect, and they attack our emotions. We must be careful to guard our minds and emotions. May we put on the whole armor of God. Ephesians 6:10-20 The Belt of Truth, the Breastplate of Righteousness, The Sandals of the Gospel, the Shield of Faith, the Helmet of Salvation, the Sword of the Spirit... so that we may fend off the darts of the evil one. Believe that you are God's. Believe that You are in Christ, and He is in you, and that you are in His care. Do not store up marks against God. One of the surest ways to entertain lies is to make a list of all the bad things people do against you, or make a list of all the times God has not answered you in the way you think He should have, and hold this list against your faith, the love of God, or the love of others.

 If you foucs on all the bad, you will overlook how much of the good has passed by your head. That is why God says to focus on what is Good, what is pure, what is praise worthy, to seek out these things, and to dwell on them! He wants you to be filled with what is good, so that instead of dwelling on offenses, (the breeding ground for lies) that you would dwell on 'the good' (the breeding ground for faith). If you dwell on the good, your head and heart will be lighter, and you will be stronger in harder times. You have been given ample opportunity to dwell on what is good, and all the good that God has done for you.

What will you choose? will you think on the good? or sit in the puddle of gloom and fester lies? Do no such thing! The Lord says, "I  am God, and there is no other. Forget not the hand that saved you, nor the love that is stronger than death". If you choose to let fear, doubt, lies consume you, you are letting them take the throne where God should be sitting in your heart, because God has saved you from having to stay in the dark anymore, and He has proved His love for You.

Do not let anything consume you but Him.

Are you letting lies rule you? What or who, is your Master? Fear? Doubt? Pessimism? Stop listening to the lies of the enemy, and wake up from your slumber. Stop letting offenses handcuff you, instead let love in where you have been hurt, or backstabbed. God is love. He wants you. this is not a lie! This is true!

Devil's Been Talkin - Need To Breathe

Bag of bones and blood red cheeks
Guilty from the words I speak
Say the truth will set you free
But it won't for me
Cause I'm uneasy in my skin
Hangin on by a thread
Life it hasn't left me yet
But I won't forget...
'The Devil's been talkin')
The ship is setting off to sea
But it's sailing without me
I can't help but feel I'm on
An island born to sink
...The devil's been talkin)

We can't change who we are
We are all alone...
'The devil's been talkin'

I'm running out
Of this hole alone
These fingers bled
Down to the bone
And I can't move
This hell is cold
The chorus sings
This is home...
'The devil's been talkin'

Bag of bones and blood red cheeks
Guilty from the words I speak
Say the truth will set you free
But it won't for me;
'The Devil's been talkin'

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Courage to Change :Desires and Your Future

Lately I've been thinking a good bit about the future of the lives of those around me. Most of them have eyes toward marriage and a future relationship. I look at their lives and I try to share with them my point of view...but over all I just want the best for them.

I think one the biggest topics to blog about right now would be Relationships and Desires and how we tie our Futures to them. I was in the mall the other day and the song I hear playing sang out "Everybody wants to be loved". And it's true. Even the sinful people, even those who are rejecting who God made them to be, really...most everyone wants to be loved.
A lot of us look out over the far field of our distant future, and either tie it's success with one of two things. 1. A Relationship 2.  A Status.

Usually, a person either thinks their future will be worth the living, if it holds a satisfying relationship, or a successful career. What is it that you tie your future's happiness with? Is it a lover? Is it a Musical Career? We all want to 'feel' good. And we have all heard that "God has plans for our lives, plans for good, and not for evil"...and we all expect this easy hay ride down the road to the magical future prepared for us.
The grass is always greener on the other side, am I not right? But what about "today"?
Is today any less of a miracle, or of any less merit than the future that you are always looking towards? What makes today any different from that day a few years from now? Is it because you still don't have what you want? Is it because you still haven't the title or status that you desire? Whether that be "married", or "famous", or "business man", or "artist".....

What if I said, that you are living 'the future' right now? Once upon a time you were younger. Once upon a time you looked out the window and gazed at that speck up the road that you imagined as yourself, some place in the future. "Right now" you are living in that 'future'. You are living in a moment you have never lived before. This Present, was once, 'the future', and it will one day be 'the past'.

Are you happy with where you are at right now? Perhaps you don't feel like you've actually 'arrived' at that place, or status of your dreams 'yet'. And that is o.k, there is still 'more future' to come. But what about the 'present'? What will you do with it? Some people get so consumed in 'the waiting' or 'the working' for the future, or for the finsihed project, or 'focusing on the completion' that they do not 'open the gift of today', like the "present" that it is!

I think most of us, have a common case of "completion anxiety". We want what we desire, and nothing else matters in life, if we do not have it. We strive and think about what it is we do not have, or haven't achieved, and we let the desire consume us. I feel a lot of single folk do this. This get so consumed in the idea of getting married, or falling in love with Mr. or Ms. Fireworks that they let it lead their lives. All that begins to really matter, is finding or uniting with that other person. Life is miserable without them, and less worth the living. This is a lie. Desire can actually blind us from the beauty of today. We want something, so much that we let the thought of it rule our lives, determine our happiness, and we begin to believe that we shall 'never be happy' if we do not have what it is we desire most of all other things.

I am learning the fact that life is not all about what we want. It is not all about what we think we should have, or should be doing. Life is a matter of the more overlooked things. Each day is what makes up life, not just every want that fulfilled, every desire that is satisfied. One day we will live in paradise and we shall not longer long and doubt like we do here.

What does your life revolve around? Does it revolve around 'attaining the future'? "getting there"? "becoming better?" "being in that relationship"? Don't let your life become consumed by anything, so that you believe that life is not worth the momentary living. Focus on what has 'already been accomplished' for you ;) and live life in that light. You can strive, and strive for a closer relationship with Christ, but unless you live believing that he is with you every moment, unless you stop focusing so much on 'what you should do', and realize that what really matters is what 'He has done for you' then you shall not grow like you desire.

 There is nothing 'you' can do to become closer. It is the reality of what "he" Christ has already done that changes a person, and brings a hope and a joy to every moment, and to the future. People have told me "draw closer to God" "do this, do that, come into his presence", but it just all sounded to 'self centered to me'. I don't believe any more so much, that really it was "I" who needed to grow more, but rather "Christ" who needed to grow more in me, until He took me over. And the only effort I needed to take was to let Him. To focus on Him, and what he's already done, rather than what "I" need to do, or the relationship I "should" have had with Him.
Because, that relationship could only come into being, if I lived like I was always in His presence, if I feel in love with "Him", by focusing on what He had done for 'me', and not what 'I' should do to make Him bigger somehow in my life. That isn't think that we can 'make God bigger in our lives by going through the motions more'. It's ridiculous.

The way God becomes bigger in our lives, is by focusing on what "He's" done, and the awesomeness of "Him". That's how we fall in love with Him; not by praying more, not by merely by reading the words of the bible more, not merely by singing more, or fellowship with other Christians on Sundays or week day nights. But, by discovering what He has done for us, focusing on who He is, by reading how he reacted, served, loved, in scripture. By Believing He is who He says He is, and believing in what he has done. If you do not believe, truly believe, what he has done for you, than the rest doesn't really matter. You can go through all the reading, singing, studying, fellowshiping, but if Christ doesn't move you with who He is, none of that will draw you closer. But once you realize the reality of God, the God who Was, and Is, and Is to Your life and in others. Then every day has meaning. What He's done gives purpose for today, for tomorrow, and for eternity.

It's time to ask yourself...Instead of what you want from your future...What does God want?
What would God live right here, and right now? If it's a closer relationship with Him than I recommend you open up your heart, receive again the truth of what He has done for You, and let it motivate you to worship Him in return. "God" has a purpose for You, your life, and your future. And that is for it to fist Glorify Him and for You to be blessed by Him. And even if your desires are good desires, and even if they could easily be fulfilled by God.
 I recommend you to lay them down before the throne of God, and tell Him to align your priorities and your desires. Live in the moment. Live in today. The person who lives in the moment and lives in the present, are those who 'believe'.

If you do not believe that anything else is worth while in life, but the one thing you desire most, than you will not enjoy the other gifts surrounding you. God Has given you "Life". He has given you emotions, He has given you senses, He has given you a mind, He has given you a body, He has given you a Soul. He has formed you in your Mother's whom. God has made made the flowers, stirred the wind, formed the sun to shine, and the moon to glow. God has put in you the breath that you are breathing right now. God has died for your own sin by the sacrifice of His Son, and taken your penalty.
 God has said that He has gone to prepare a place for You, and that Heaven will come down to earth. This is Hope. This is Future. God said He has plans for us, a "future" and a "hope", and He has. It's o.k to have desires. God has placed some of them inside you. But, don't let them get out of hand. Don't let them rule your living, so that you cannot enjoy all else that you were intended to enjoy. "Live", not some day in the future, but "right now"! Breathe! most importantly...Believe. - All Along - I'm Letting Go