Free[duh]m

Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” “But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. (‭John‬ ‭8‬:‭31-36‬ NLT)

I understand being set free. Only because I understand sin. By the grace of God, I am free of many things that used to hold me bondage. Oh I knew sin alright. I could somehow take anything of this world and turn it into an idol; food, money, selfishness, smoking, drinking, approval-seeking, you name it, I was chained to it. And I made decisions based on fear. I was not free in any sense of the word. It wasn’t until I admitted powerlessness over my life, that I could begin to accept that, as petty as I felt, or as silly as my idols seemed, I had issues that needed working out. It isn’t until we are willing to admit complete defeat that we create space for God and allow the power of the spirit to replace our fear.  

Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. (‭Galatians‬ ‭5‬:‭25‬ NLT)

As Christ followers, we can hold tight the truth that the spirit’s leading is pure and strong and wonderful and will lead us to the freedom we so crave.  

Is there any freedom from bondage you need today? Pray for it and let faith replace fear. 

  

This Little Light of Mine

“Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor.” Matthew 5:3

People who can’t or won’t be honest with each other are people who will never experience the kind of nurturing fellowship God desires among His people. Repentance isn’t a shampoo commercial, we are not supposed to wash, rinse and repeat. We can repent all we want, but if we keep doing the behavior and then repent, and then do it again, and then repent…guys, that isnt repenting, we are taking advantage of gods grace when we simply repent then repeat. Repentance of sin, letting go of that which takes you from the kingdom perspective of Gods purpose, Gods process and Gods promise for your life, means changing behaviors, not just recognizing right from wrong.  To have a spiritual awakening means to have the willingness to be courageous and change.  To change takes honesty. To be honest means to be marked by truth.

Honesty is a process from God.   When God’s around, the lights are on! Walking in the darkness means we will probably bump into each other, but that doesn’t equate true fellowship, with God or with each other. 

God sent a man, John the Baptist, to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. (John 1:6-9 NLT)

When we see ourselves and one another clearly under God’s clarifying and purifying light, there are three ways in which we can see with the kindgom perspective:

  1. We can appreciate one another.  
  2. We recognize God working in someone’s life, rather than being jealous of what they have. 
  3. We can experience the common ground that creates fellowship rather than seeing our differences in one another.

Authenticity requires honesty—not putting on a mask; not showing up and pretending everything is okay when it’s not. It is weeping with those who weep; rejoicing with those who rejoice; bearing one another’s burdens, and in so doing, fulfilling God’s purpose for our lives. This is the happiness that comes with honesty. Will you let the light shine in you?
  

Majesty Over Mountains

I look up to the mountains— does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night. The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever. (Psalms 121:1-8 NLT)

Is it the mountains that gives us breath? Look past the mountain. Look beyond the mountain, further than those purple mountain majesties, just for a moment. No matter how majestic, how ginormous, how impressive a mountain view is, how powerful the force of an avalanche or the eruption of volcanos, none of that power can compare to our Lord, who created those impressive masses. And if He has the power to create something so powerful, His power can help us in any and all of our situations.  

What is so encouraging about this passage of scripture is the idea that God does not sleep. Let that sink in for a moment. He isn’t like the picture of a stereotypical TV dad, who after a hard day at work, just wants to relax and sit in a chair and we (his children) are sitting there buggin’ saying,

 “C’mon dad, lets go play! C’mon dad, can we go get ice cream? I need help with my homework, so and so is being a pain, will you tell him to stop!”

 And he is just sitting in his chair, saying, 

“Oh, for the love of Me! Can’t you see I have been slaving away all day creating the universe and making sure the tides go in and out!? Your fellow man has been filling up the streams with their all their garbage and now I have to re-adjust the ecosystem so y’all don’t implode! I really don’t have time for whatever your little problem is right now! Figure it out yourself!”

God doesn’t say that. Scripture says He will not let you stumble. He doesn’t need to rest, therefore we are always protected. This doesn’t mean that bad things won’t happen to us, things we don’t expect or events we would rather not have to go through. All experiences, good and bad, are a part of life. But these verses are clear promises from God. He stands by us as protective shade.  

 “The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life.” 

 Do you ever have moments when thinking back to your teens or 20’s and all the stupid stuff you did and think, I should be dead right now, why aren’t I dead, all the dangerous stupid stuff I did, I really should not be living right now. Yet, here we are, with God watching over our life. And even if we come and go, even when we take our self will back, He keeps watch over us now and forever. Outside of time, outside of space, outside of our circumstance.

What is it you need help with today? Pray to Him, the Maker of Heaven and Earth and He will supply all your need.   
  

Acquaintance with the Spirit

Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up. (Proverbs 12:25 NLT)

There are three stages of relationships. The most basic is the acquaintance stage:

“Hey, how are you?”
“I’m good.”
“Good.”

End of conversation. Maybe sharing details of lives, maybe not.
The next stage is the personal stage. This is when we can actually share details of our lives and our feelings surrounding these details.

“Hey, how are you?”
“Oh, not good, I am dealing with a difficult time.”
“That’s too bad, I’ve gone through hard times too.”

And then there is a third kind of relationship. There may actually be very few people we allow into this stage, the spiritual stage. In this stage, we not only listen to our fellows and friends, but we invite the Holy Spirit into our conversations and time together. We pray for them and we pray with them, and we allow them to pray for us.
Look at yourself frankly and ask, where have I physically isolated from dealing with my relationships? Where have I spiritually held back and isolated, either by way of not making time for my own growth or not working on a spiritual relationship with others?
If you want to have deeper level of friendships with people, take a chance and begin praying with them.

“…and though perhaps he came to scoff, he may remain to pray.” -Big Book of A.A.

Father, thank You so much for all three levels of conversation. But thank You most for designing us to yearn for depth in relationships. Thank You for meeting us as we meet each other in honesty, integrity, and transparency before You. I pray for each of us to be willing to be transparent and grow deeper in faith with you and stronger in relationship with each other. May we see the fruits of honest relationships in our lives. In Jesus name, Amen!

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The Definitive Eye

I have always wondered where my place in the world and the point to my life is. These are not new questions that are only asked by me. Pretty much everyone wonders about their life, maybe even on a daily basis. By keeping a focus on the following three things we can live a life of value and have experiences we can relish with an understanding of a kingdom perspective which is God’s purpose, God’s process and God’s promises for our lives. When we have the right focus we begin to get answers to the right questions.

Identity: Knowing whose you are.

For see, today I have made you strong like a fortified city that cannot be captured, like an iron pillar or a bronze wall. You will stand against the whole land— the kings, officials, priests, and people of Judah. They will fight you, but they will fail. For I am with you, and I will take care of you. I, the lord, have spoken!” (Jeremiah 1:18, 19 NLT)

Integrity: Doing what you said you would do.

The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity. (Proverbs 11:3 NIV)

Intent: Ask for guidance before you decide on a desired outcome.

“Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention. (Matthew 7:13, 14 MSG)

What are YOUR definitions of the three I’s?

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Vision[Airy]

Panic is our great enemy.
We don’t need to become desperate. If overwhelming problems appear in our life, we need to stop struggling. We can tread water for a bit, until our equilibrium returns. Then we can go back to floating peacefully down the gentle stream. It is our stream. It is a safe stream. Our course has been charted. All is well.
Today, I will relax, breathe, and go with the flow.-Melody Beattie, Language of Letting Go

I often picture a stream in my meditations. When I am in need of peace, I visualize floating on a tube, the sun dappling through the willows, the tube successful at staying out of danger. When I feel fearful, my vision is signified by rocks that tear my tube, rapids I need to journey through and logs that get in the way; the vision automatically turns the blue green clear water with a clean pebble bottom to murky sticky waters with storm debris riddling the shore. The blue sky turns gray and I must stop, turn my thoughts to a better vision and pay attention to the self talk. Is it negative? Positive? Am I putting more emphasis on circumstances and less on God’s character? It is interesting that in my mind’s eye I see dangerous waters as negative yet in real life I try to see it as adventurous. I wonder how I can bring my subconscious to a more courageous look at the storms in life. When I face struggles, it makes me feel powerless and unsure of my safety and brings panic on, the loss of control and the unknown of the future. By focusing on the character of God, it quiets the waters and brings the sunlight of the spirit into the dawn.

Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31 NLT)

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The Zombie in You

Zombies. In the bible. Yes, you read correctly.
I am an uber geek. I love zombie movies. Movies about zombies lets me have at least two hours to really detach from reality. Cause I’m sorry, no matter how good the script is, no matter how well the actors portray their characters, no matter how well the scene was shot or the make-up was put on, reanimated humans will not ever happen, I don’t buy it.

And Jesus cried again with a loud voice and gave up His spirit. And at once the curtain of the sanctuary of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; the earth shook and the rocks were split. [Exod. 26:31-35.] The tombs were opened and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep in death were raised [to life]; And coming out of the tombs after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many people. When the centurion and those who were with him keeping watch over Jesus observed the earthquake and all that was happening, they were terribly frightened and filled with awe, and said, Truly this was God’s Son! (Matthew 27:50-54 AMP)

I know what you’re thinking. I must be watching too much ‘Walking Dead.’ But could it be that our drift toward the undead is simply our subconscious searching for the truth that the son of God truly is miraculous? Is our human nature and desire is to be at peace with the thought that there really has been dead that have risen? And if so, wouldn’t it be safe to say that a God that could raise the dead is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-encompassing and desires us to know Him more and that is why we want to believe? Perhaps it is human nature to believe in zombies.
Thinking about zombies also makes me think of chainsaws. Or axes. Or a two-handed Japanese sword. I suppose cause something that could cut heads off would be my weapon of choice in a zombie attack. Which of course makes me think of something Jesus said in Matthew:

And if your hand—even your stronger hand —causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. (Matthew 5:30 NLT)

Perhaps the issue of whether or not Jesus was crucified and rose again isn’t disbelief, it is detachment. Maybe not as drastic as detaching a limb so you escape a zombie virus or a walker coming up on you to attack, but a look at letting go. Letting go and restoring the true self. Look at step three of A.A., we made a decision to turn our lives and our will over to the care of God. The message version says it this way:

And you have to chop off your right hand the moment you notice it raised threateningly. Better a bloody stump than your entire being discarded for good in the dump. (Matthew 5: 30 MSG)

Jesus is telling us to detach from the habits that hold us back from our true selves. When we lose our temper, revert back to the behavior that is not healthy, feed the addiction that is not beneficial to our lives, it is those behaviors we must detach from. Until you learn to let go, it is kinda like mixing clean spring water and sewer water and expect to be able to drink it without getting sick.

“Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship.”-Romans 12:1

This living sacrifice is often misinterpreted as us losing something. If I sacrifice then I will be without. But when we turn our will over to the care of God and our lives, we are abundantly free.
Step three is about discipline, but the discipline that held us back for so long was the thinking that, we needed MORE self will. “oh if I had more will power I wouldn’t get mad and hit my kids or I wouldn’t mouth off to my boss and get fired or if I had more will power I could quit drinking, smoking ,eating, spending, lusting, whatever have you. It is not about having not enough will power, it is actually about having too much. When we cut the arm off that is sinning so to speak, we aren’t out an arm. We gain more strength because we are working in God’s strength. God gave us free will. This is a gift.
Detachment is about separating ourselves from idols that are not God. Self serving goals and agendas just end up poisoning the fruit He wants us to produce with our lives. Letting go of the notions of money and power and position is what makes you who you are. Circumstances do not make you. Trusting God with the outcomes rather than yourself so you do not have to feel like a failure every other minute. A life in which you can honor others without feeling like you have to manipulate or control them, that is freedom!
When we practice the 12 steps and we learn to let go, when we decide to turn our lives and our will over to the care of God, we have freedom from our jobs, from society, from addictions; we are free to live as our true selves, we learn to live with acceptance even when things go into descent, loss or death. And because we live in a way that finds God amidst these things, learning to let go prepares us for the final let go- death.

Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for? (Mark 8:34-37 MSG)

Jesus died to change the truth about you. What thinking do you need to change?

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