Invisible

imageInvisible

Do you ever feel invisible?
Do you find yourself getting your feelings hurt?
When you are asked to do something are you “all in” and then expect others to be “all in” too?

Right now I feel invisible. My feelings are hurt. I am always “all in” because that’s what I’m supposed to do, right? Therefore, I expect that from others too. Sadly, that doesn’t always happen. How do we learn not to expect “all in” from others?
How do we protect our hearts and our feelings?

I am not invisible. God sees me. God knows my heart. Getting my feelings hurt is not a surprise to God. But how does knowing that God sees me and is not surprised by these things help me to not feel invisible?

It is my flesh, my human nature that makes me feel this way, but Jesus said:

I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.” John 16:33 (MSG)

So, I need to trust that:
HE sees me!
HE chose me!
HE loves me!
I am NOT invisible!
I am HIS beloved!

The Lord is fighting for you! So be still!” Exodus 14:14

Sometimes it’s hard to remember that HE fights for me and I just need to be still and trust HIM, keeping my hands open and ready to receive the next thing HE has for me. Life is sometimes hard. Life is sometimes joy. Life IS texture, which makes us all HIS beautiful masterpiece.

When I am feeling invisible I am focusing on myself. I make myself a victim of my own behavior, I am being selfish. Instead, I need to be still, calm my heart and ask HIM two questions:

What are you teaching me through this moment, this situation?
How can I glorify you through it?

Then keep my heart and my hands open ready to receive what HE says and trust that I am NOT invisible!

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Restoration Road

What do you do when the people you deeply love continuously hurt you over and over again? I can only imagine what God must feel like when we make bad choices and move away from Him. This pain is deep. This pain is wide. This pain is leaving gaping wounds on my heart and in my soul. 

The road to restoration is a 2-way street but what do you do when you are the only one on it? Turn around and give up? Do you think that’s what God would want us to do? Maybe just park right where I am and wait? For how long? I know that’s what I need to do, pull over and park but it doesn’t make the pain go away or even lessen. 

I have been studying the beatitudes and they are coming to mind as I write this. How can I apply what I am learning from them to this part of my journey?

Blessed are the merciful for they shall be shown mercy.

Matthew 5:7

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they WILL see God.

Matthew 5:8

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be sons of God.

Matthew 5:9

I can boldly come before the throne of God and seek HIS mercy and grace. But if we don’t show mercy we receive judgement. If we don’t see God, we are not in heaven. If we aren’t called the sons of God we are outside the family.

John 10:10 says:

The thief approaches with malicious intent, looking to steal, slaughter, and destroy; I came to give life with joy and abundance. 

When you are the only one on “Restoration Road,” I believe that’s exactly what the devil wants. He wants to discourage us to turn around and give up. He wants to destroy completely the relationships you so desperately want to heal. He doesn’t want you to park and wait. He wants you to turn around and give up.

BUT. . .

James 4:7 tells us:

So place yourselves under God’s authority. Resist the devil, and he will run away from you. 

When we place ourselves under the authority of God, HE will give us the strength to resist the devil. HE will give us the endurance to stay parked, waiting for the opportunity to move further down the road, closer to restoration and the abundant life that Jesus promises!

 

Dallas Mission Trip Prayer

Please join me in praying for our students and their leaders as they head to Dallas, TX to serve others this week. This prayer is a great way to pray scriptures over them and for them:

Father, I plead that our missions team will be filled with the Holy Spirit and will daily walk in His power (Ephesians 5:18; Galatians 5:16).

I pray that our missions team will speak the Word of God with boldness (Acts 4:31; Ephesians 6:19).

I ask that our missions team will present the gospel clearly to unbelievers (Colossians 4:4).

Lord, I pray that our missions team would be accepted by the natives, the believers. and the missionaries in the area where they are laboring (Romans 15:30-31).

God, I plead that You will protect our missions team from the attacks of Satan and his demons (Romans 15:30-31; 2 Thessalonians 3:2-3).

Father, I ask that You would open doors and hearts to receive the gospel as our missions team ministers in their place of service (Colossians 4:3).

I pray that You will make our missions team ’s ministry exceedingly fruitful and that You will glorify Yourself through this ministry (2 Thessalonians 3:1).

Father, I plead that You will deliver our missions team from loneliness and frustration (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 18:9-10; Hebrews 13:5).

Lord, I pray that You will create in our missions team a servant’s heart (Philippians 2:5-10).

I ask that our missions team will live and labor each day for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Father, I plead that our missions team will be a vessel through which the love of God can flow to others (Romans 5:5; John 13:34-35).

Please grant our missions team Your specific direction for his/her ministry (Psalm 37:5).

I ask that our missions team will have a growing and intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ (John 15:4-5).

I pray that our missions team will have a deeper and clearer understanding of the Word of God (John 16:13).

Father, I plead that You will continually protect our missions team from all harm and ask that You would strengthen our missions team physically (Genesis 2:7).

I ask that You would grant our missions team peace and assurance about the care of their family members that are left at home (1 Peter 5:7).

Fill our missions team with Your joy in all situations and let this joy sustain our missions team in all situations (Nehemiah 8:10).

Father, I pray that our missions team would see people and things from Your perspective (Proverbs 3:5).

Lord, I ask that You would bless and strengthen our missions team ’s family (Ephesians 5:22-6:4).

I plead that our missions team will have a renewed and growing zeal to share the gospel with unbelievers (Romans 1:15-16).

I ask that our missions team will be completely yielded to Christ and willing to die to self in all matters (Mark 8:34-35).

I pray that our missions team will be growing in humility (1 Peter 5:5-6).

Father, I plead that our missions team will endure persecution in a Christlike manner. (1 Peter 2:21-23).

I ask You to create a thankful heart in our missions team especially in times of difficulty (Ephesians 5:20).

I pray that You will raise up prayer partners for our missions team (1 Thessalonians 5:24). I plead that all of our missions team ’s needs–physical, spiritual, emotional, and spiritual–will be met by You through Your grace and power (Philippians 4:19).

I ask that our missions team will labor from godly motives and not from a desire to please people (2 Corinthians 4:2).

I plead, O God, that you would raise up strong believers around our missions team who will encourage them in the tasks that God has given to them (Philemon 20).

I pray that our missions team would long to be holy and live a life of obedience to the Word of God (1 Peter 1:15-16).

I plead that our missions team would be salt and light to the people to which they have been sent (Matthew 5:13-14). Father, I pray that You would enable our missions team to pray for those who persecute them and for those who spitefully use them (Matthew 5:44).

I pray that our missions team would not lag in diligence but would be fervent in spirit. I plead that our missions team will rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, and continue steadfastly in prayer (Romans 12:11-12).

I ask that our missions team would not lose their focus in ministry but that they would have their priorities ordered by You.

I pray that our missions team will set their mind on things above and not on the things of the earth (Colossians 3:2-3).

I plead that our missions team will be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that their labor is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).

I pray these things in the mighty name of Jesus, AMEN!

Christ Follower

I am a Christ follower. But what does that mean? For me it is simply; Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior who I have an intimate relationship with and I know that Christ is all I need. The question is, how does one come to truly know Christ and have an intimate relationship with Him? For me this question is tied to why there is evil in the world, why terrible things happen, why do we have tribulation in our lives. In order for me to know that Christ was all I needed, I first had to come to a place where Christ was all I had.

​For some this is called rock bottom, for some it’s when they have nowhere left to turn in a crisis, for others it is a traumatic event or situation thrust upon them. Whatever the cause or situation most of us reach a moment in our lives when there seems that nothing can help, we can’t find anything or anyone to fill the emptiness we feel, or there is no relief or end in sight to the pain we are experiencing. I believe God does not remove us from these situations because they are opportunities for us to look to God and call on Him and ask Him to save us. But some of us miss these opportunities because we are self-reliant; we tell ourselves that we can make it through these tough times on our own. And the world would agree with you.

​There is a Chinese maxim: “Eating Bitterness”, known as Chi Ku. It is a Chinese phrase for enduring hardship. You may have heard some english equivalents “Grin and Bear It.”, “Keep on Truckin”, “Hang In There”, “Suck It Up”, all to mean to endure something unpleasant in good humor. Or to continue despite the difficulties, stay focused and don’t complain and have a good attitude.

Some quotes to the same effect are:
“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” ~Winston Churchill.
“We acquire the strength we have overcome.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson.
“I ask not for a lighter burden, but for broader shoulders.” ~Jewish Proverb.
“There is no success without hardship.” ~Sophocles.

Most sayings will echo some truth like: “When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hold on.” ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

Personally I like this quote very much, but as a Christ follower I would say: “When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in your faith and hold on because it is not your strength that allows you to hang on but the strength you receive from your Father in heaven, this is His promise to you and His promises cannot be broken!”

Isaiah 41:10 says: fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Philippians 4:13 says: I can be content in any and every situation through the Anointed One who is my power and strength.

Sooner or later, for most of us our strength fails us, we are unable to hold on by ourselves and this is the opportunity to turn to God and ask Him to save us because we finally learn that we can’t do it on our own, and we were never meant to.

When we are able to stop being prideful and selfish, we can surrender to God, we can start having a relationship with Christ, but this is just the first step, an intimate relationship is a daily process of giving and receiving, of being pruned into the image of Christ Himself.

John 15:2 says: He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.

The good things in life are not, health and happiness but Holiness.
Not the riches of this world, but relationship with God.
Not our plans but His Presence.
And He withholds no good thing from us because good things aren’t ever things.

DO YOU NEED TO SLOW DOWN?

I find it curious that I have not yet learned to tread lightly (excluding the big stick of course) but my usual modus operandi is a “Bull in a China shop.” I speed up faster than others can keep up, pounding the feet ever harder. Occasionally I may even notice the minutes pounding by harder as well but, I don’t believe I pay them any mind. When I look back I think I can say, with confidence that the hurry more, often hurts than helps. It may even have a way of emptying our soul. It’s like running a race against time, but you snag yourself on time and you end up leaking yourself empty. You might even say that hurry and impatience is a sure sign of one who has a lot of maturing to do and I extend this to not only in doing but in Faith, Prayer and in all that we are.

We live in a consumer society, so quicker is better, faster is always preferred and more now is what the world tells us we should want. We even view our faith the same way, God I need patience but give it to me now. Think of all the missed moments that lay in our wake because we were too busy hurrying along. We didn’t miss them, we threw them away with our choice to be moving at such high velocities so we could get to the next thing without fully entering the thing in front of us.

I recall a conversation I had with my grandmother. She said she isn’t doing too many things these days since she is slow to get around and doesn’t want to be an annoyance. That is a lie the world tells us and we believe it. In this example all we have to do is look to our movies and TV shows, they joke about putting the elderly into homes because that is what is best for them. Is it really or is it better for us? Now I am not talking about putting our parents and grandparents in a home, that’s not the point here. The way the world might have us see it, the elderly have committed two offenses just by existing. One is a lack of velocity, they drive too slowly, they walk too slowly, and they talk too slowly. We can abide so many other maladies and atrocities but being slowed down isn’t one of them. The other is an age old issue, the elderly are our memento mori and we can only be comfortable if they are out of sight which helps our denial.

When middle age has left us, does the accumulation of physical ailments leave us condemned to the ranks of the undead? We treat slowness like a disease of the undead. Anyway isn’t it about belief and attitude and not years, the proffers of salvation know no age. There is many a person that is youthful hurrying about in their lives who can be called undead, their inner putrification hidden for a few decades at least, unless they change their beliefs and attitude.

So the question that I am left with is: how do I change this? Is it possible that living in Christ, the most urgent necessitates a slow and steady reverence? And that living in Christ we are not running out of time but we are standing on the brink of eternity? If the purpose of a Christian is to know God and to praise Him, then wouldn’t it stand to say that relationship is the most important thing (Matthew 7:22-23), of course it is, we know this! Relationship takes time, it is a slow process, a process that is stunted and even stopped when we run about in a hurry from thing to thing and person to person. It’s time to take a deep breath, slow down, give God the glory, sing His praises, live life purposefully, savoring every moment, living fully in what we are doing right now with gratitude and giving thanks for what God has done and continues to do in our lives.

Sacred

Why is the idea of racism so unifying these days? Most people have no fear of speaking out against racism, if anything it is encouraged and praised, which is a far cry from where this country was even 50 years ago. Is it simply about equality and being treated fairly? That is how society in general sells it these days, equality above everything. And who doesn’t want to be fair, who would stand against equality, so it’s a pretty easy sale isn’t it.

It seems social morality and politics have focused their energies on fairness and equality. I really think it is more than that, our race should be considered a sacred thing, our ethnic background and family should most certainly be sacred and it should be treated that way. But we have reduced it to a thing of fairness and equality. Do you think it is about equality no matter what our race is? Or do you think race and family are sacred and should be treated as such?

You might be wondering why this line of thought. Well it just dawned on me that sexuality in our society has been treated as something that should be viewed with fairness and equality when it should also be treated as sacred. Because of my faith, I know that sexuality is a sacred gift from God. So when asked about homosexuality I can’t justify the aberration just like I could not condone or justify anyone’s actions of promiscuity outside of marriage.

We were created by God and it is His plan for a man and woman to be united as one. It is in this union that the needs are met for and in each other. Now I know the argument for those who have the disposition for homosexuality and I would not argue that because everyone faces temptation, everyone has a thorn in their side. As a Christ Follower we need to renounce our disposition and we hope and pray that we receive the strength in order to resist our flesh. This does not mean we are perfect and without sin, it means with all our intent we strive for who Christ has told us we are.
So an individual choice needs to be made. Do you let society tell you that a storm of emotions leading you to do what we want, are more important than a man and woman who are committed to each other, mutually helping one another and raising children together. The term individual is important here because the decision is for each of us to make, but do we make that decision based on the worldview or a biblical view? Some say the Bible isn’t relevant these days, funny thing none of the issues have changed that the Bible speaks about, and it is relevant in my life, in fact it is life changing.

I haven’t written this to separate myself from others. That isn’t something we as Christians should do. We’re called to minister to all people, especially those not in the Christian community. However, the Gospel at times is repulsive to those who do not know Christ. The idea of giving up power, greed, and pride to be a servant to others is against everything inside our hearts. The idea that the closer we get to Christ the more broken we look in comparison is not appealing to us in the slightest. That is why the Gospel, and consequently Christians, are treated the way they are.

“If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” John 15:19

Priorities

Priorities; what comes first in your life? No, don’t answer just think about how much TV you have watched this week? How much YOU time have you had this week? Did you spend time in the word? Doesn’t that sound passive spending time in the word. Did you at anytime in the past week open a bible and read God’s word? Did you just read it? Did you gloss over it or did you have to fight to stay awake reading it? If so are you counting this as your quality time with the Lord. During the Old Testament only the best livestock was acceptable for sacrifices’. Do we give the best of ourselves to the Lord or just what we have left? When was the last time you hungered for God’s word? When was the last time you looked forward to studying His Word?

​Yeah life isn’t easy, and it is that much harder if we are to be a Christ Follower. And why is that? Well we have to recognize that the world is so very contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ you could say backwards. Christ turned the status quo upside down. Have we let Christ turn us upside down, have we let him hold us there and shake everything that we hold onto right out of us? What sin or secrets are we keeping hidden? Not only does this keep healing from happening it destroys intimacy with Christ as well as with others. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Mathew 7: 21-23 Is it in anyway shape or form possible that God does not know us. He created us so of course he knows us, the very hairs on our head are numbered. What is being said is “You and I have never been intimate.” The word knew in greek is Ginosko which is better translated as intimacy. Are we being intimate with Christ? So are we letting God shake out all that we were, are we letting Him work in us. I say we’re because most of us listen to the world that says our past shapes us, we are a product of our environment. And that is all true without Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, but when Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior we have to look to Him to tell us who we are, we have to let Him shape us. Are you letting Him shape you?

​As Christians we are forgiven, we are saved. How have you responded to your salvation? The only proper response to our salvation is obedience. God so loved the world that he sent His Son to die for us. It’s by God’s Grace alone that we are saved. But why? So we will tell others what Christ has done for us, so we will spread the Gospel and bring Glory to God’s name. Sharing the Gospel and living in obedience is what others who do not know Christ see in us that they wonder about and causes them to seek themselves. When we do not respond in obedience we can do a lot more harm than good. When we do not live in obedience we are not being intimate with Christ. Now obedience does not mean perfect, we are sinners and we will continue to sin, but the Holy Spirit will convict us when we do sin. Our response should be to repent and ask for forgiveness from God and of those we sin against.