Archive for November, 2018

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Christian Quotes: Abiding, Ability, Abortion, Abstinence

Christian Quotes By Topic

 

Abiding

“To abide with Christ – to stay with Him and to learn from Him – is to continually receive eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to obey.”  Angela Thomas McGuffey

“Let other things come and go as they may, let other people criticize as they will, but never allow anything to obscure the life that is hid with Christ in God. Never be hurried out of the relationship of abiding in Him. It is the one thing that is apt to fluctuate but it ought not to.” Oswald Chambers

“Keep your life so constant in its contact with God that His surprising  power may break out on the right hand and on the left. Always be in a state of expectancy, and see that you leave room for God to come in as He likes.”  Oswald Chambers

 

Ability

“Praise Him for dreaming up such a fantastically innovative, glorious, gracious plan whereby you and I can face anything this world can throw at us, not due to our ability but to His ability through us.”  Bill Gillham

“You abound in talents, abilities, and skills. Which gifts of yours enrich you and the lives of those oe you?”  Virginia Ann Froehle

“Your gifts and abilities are part of God’s purpose for your life. Not using them can lead to frustration, disappointment, and fatigue. So when you’ve pinpointed your strengths, it’s important to look for opportunities and environments where you can use them.”  Steve Stephens and Alice Gray

 

Abortion

“Aren’t you glad your mother was pro-life?” Bumper Sticker

“The greatest destroyer of peace is abortion because if a mother can kill her own child, what is left but for me  to kill you and you to kill me? There is nothing between.” Mother Teresa

“Abortion is a glaring example of the difference worldview makes. Are not all children – Chinese babies or inner-city African American babies – worthy of protection?” Chuck Colson

 

Abstinence

“The perfect victory is to triumph over ourselves. For he that keepeth himself subject in such sort that his sensual affections be obedient to reason, and his reason in all things obedient to Me; that person is truly conqueror of himself, and lord of the world.”  Thomas a Kempis

Christian Articles And Websites Related To Depression

Christian Articles And Websites Related To Depression

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Christian help for Depression, free teaching with video’s for Christians tormented by depression, anxiety, panic attacks, fear, suicidal thoughts, trauma, eating disorders, anger / rage and cutting.   https://www.christianhelpfordepression.org/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Need Of The Truth article

In Need Of The Truth article

Lucifer is the “father of lies” (John 8:22). His nature won’t let him tell the truth. “He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). His deception constantly attacks our weaknesses and vulnerabilities in hopes of drawing us away from God. Satan also strives to put us into bondage by controlling the way we act, feel, and think. He often attempts this by using subtle manipulation to make us unrealistically afraid over circumstances that don’t warrant the amount of fear that we experience during those situations. How we deal with his tricks determine his success rate in trying to destroy our freedoms, hopes, and relationships.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Fear defeat more people than any other thing in the world.” Fear increases when we listen to Satan lies. He often uses fear to destroy us. Just ask the alcoholic who greatly seeks forgiveness and grace from God as he tries to forget the memory of him killing that teenager while driving intoxicated years ago? Will he be able to break the addiction of alcohol and believe in God’s love when both fear and Satan consistently tell him he is unlovable? What about the person with a mental illness? Will he continue to believe he has a future when reason says otherwise? Finally, what about the middle-aged woman who is desperately seeking a miracle of healing of the cancer she daily fights against.. Can she continue the fight when fear and Satan repeatedly tells her that there is no cure? They can if they believe in the promises of God.

The Bible is full of promises made by a God who never lies or breaks a promise (Hebrews 6:18). They can be relied upon for support for any tribulation you face in life. Let’s survey the issues of the alcoholic, the disabled person, and the woman with cancer and what Biblical truths they can use to resolve their problems. Listen closely- you may be experiencing troubles like these.

The Alcoholic Who Needed Grace
I’m so bad that no one would want to love me.

We all make mistakes: the “alcoholic” character in this example and every sinner like you and me.

The “alcoholic” has an addiction that he can’t seem to break. It presumably started from listening to bad advice years ago. One day he got drunk and killed a little girl as he drove recklessly down the road. He was later sentenced to jail. Now, at home, he constantly experiences regret, guilt, and shame of that night as he struggles to break the habit. He has no peace with himself as he hopes to find grace somewhere somehow. He doesn’t realize that God is there waiting and wanting to love and forgive him.

Since the serpent’s deception of Adam, humanity has struggled to break the habit of sin. People hate and injure one another as lives get “destroyed”: physically, emotionally, and verbally. The punishment for these crimes is hell. Meanwhile, still living on Earth, people feel regret and shame for their wrongdoings as they struggle overcome their addiction. That is our history of disobeying God.

We all have a desire to be accepted, loved, forgiven, free from condemnation, to be forgetful of the past, and the opportunity to have a second chance in life. God, who knew our sins before our creation, still wants to give us these hopes. Proof of that fact is revealed when Jesus died to “satisfy God’s wrath of our sins”, to give us eternal life, to be free from our addiction of sin. Believers can forget their past, because God will no longer remember them (Hebrews 10:17).. He wants people to have success so bad that He is willing to give His wisdom to guide us along the path that is best for us. (Psalms 32:8). Even better, when we get saved, we will have the Spirit of God in us, giving us the capacity to no longer be controlled by our sinful nature (Romans 8:9). His love is inseparable to the believer: neither death, life, angels, principalities, powers, things present, things to come, height, depth, or any creature can separate us from His love (Romans 8:38-39). God is perfect love. That is His nature.

God’s love gives his followers the authority to be free from condemnation, the enjoyment of being loved and accepted, the consent to forget the past, the wisdom to successfully start a new life, and the power to overcome the addiction of sin. God wants to give you these gifts of freedom. In order to receive them, you must first take the gift and follow Him. If you don’t, you will never find what you are looking for!

The Person with a Mental Illness
My life is hopeless. Nothing good can come out of my life.

There’s a fallacy that nothing good can come out of the life of someone with a mental illness. Even though his cognitive stronghold may interfere with the way he thinks, acts, or feel, it doesn’t mean the individual is totally defeated when he experiences failure. There is hope because “we can do all things through Christ which strengthened me (Philippians 4:13). This is true for all sorts of mental illnesses.

We all have a spiritual mental illness called our sinful nature. It is our tendency to be selfish, hateful, and at times, to injure another for personal gain. These behaviors contradict God’s law we habitually break: to love Him absolutely and to love others like ourselves. Since Satan’s trickery of Adam, choosing sin has separated man from God, sent too many sinners to hell, severed too many human relationships, brought forth the existence of real mental illnesses, and has created too much fear, shame, suffering, and hopelessness to this world. Because we let our sinful nature control us, humanity has experienced and still experiences “death” in many forms.

God doesn’t want mankind to experience death. He also doesn’t desire those with real mental illnesses or those who experience mental anguish to suffer either. In both cases, God has “plans for good and not for disaster, to give us a future and hope” (Jeremiah 29:11-13). He also hopes to “end our captivity and to restore our fortunes”, fortunes lost because of the consequences of our spiritual mental illness. Our job is to let God take control of our mental illness (includes spiritual, mental anguish, and real mental illness) and trust that He will do what is best. If you don’t believe He will, read Romans 8:28.

Life and peace result when people let the Holy Spirit control their sinful nature (Romans 8:6). This requires first being saved by accepting Christ as your Savior and then daily surrendering your will in obedience to Him. When the Holy Spirit is in the driver seat, we will experience fruits like love, joy, peace, patience, and self-control in our lives (Galatians 5:22). We will all be able to experience contentment, even those who experience mental anguish or a real mental illness.. People will be able experience victories over their strongholds and then accomplish things that they never believe could happen because God would empower them to do so. God may then use these people to give hope to those who struggle with their own kind of mental illness.

I know this all can happen to you because I increasingly see it happening to me. Although I have a lot of bad days, my growing relationship with Christ has been the stable foundation that I need to face my mental illness (real one).. When I constantly say yes to my sinful nature, this stability becomes less stable as my illness often become very frightening. However, when I surrender my fears and life to Him, I often find strength to face my disability with courage. But through it all, when I stay connected to God, I find contentment.

The Struggling Cancer Patient
I Cannot Overcome My Adversity

The fears and the hurts that often accompanies trials is like brain cancer: once it enters the mind, it grows and spreads until, unless controlled, destroys the life of the person. If we let problems like cancer, disability, abuse, financial chaos, and the loss of a loved get out of hand, our fears and hurts can get so bad that it “kills” us spiritually, emotionally, psychologically, and perhaps physically. The two can keep us from reaching our goals and dreams, destroy our hope and ruin our relationships, create severe depression, and start the seeds of future trouble which may occur many years later. Unfortunately, our fears and hurts often intensify when we listen to the lies of Satan.

When we are weak, Satan often tell us “we are alone”;“nobody understands or cares; and “you’ll never make it.” Don’t ever listen to those lies. Instead, “cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall” (Psalm 55:22). Here are some other promises to hold on to when you face adversity:

I WILL NOT FEAR; GOD IS ALWAYS WITH ME
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. Deut 31:6 (ESV)

I WILL NOT DOUBT; GOD IS ALWAYS IN CONTROL
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)

I WILL NOT DESPAIR; GOD IS ALWAYS GOOD
I would have despaired unless I had believed I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Psalms 27:13 (NASB)

I WILL NOT FALTER; GOD IS ALWAYS WATCHING
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)

I WILL NOT FAIL; GOD IS ALWAYS VICTORIOUS
‘No weapon formed against you shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, And their righteousness is from Me’, Says the Lord. Isaiah 54:17 (NKJV)

Keep the faith. Trials are for you good. James 1:2-4 says, “Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.” God wants to build your spiritual muscles to prepare you for your “giant-sized, God-given dream. “If you remain steadfast amidst your trial, you will receive the crown of life” in heaven (James 1:12). Eternal gain always outweighs temporary earthly pain.

Conclusion

God desperately wants to give you grace, a future, and victory over adversity. As you seek Him, if you believe you will find it, you will acquire it in unexpected hours. However, if you lack faith, you head yourself toward a futile path. Focus on the truth, not on Satan’s lies.

When Satan tempted Jesus with deceit in Matthew 4, Jesus quoted scriptural truths back at him. When Satan heard the truth, He immediately fled. Angels later came and cared for Jesus. The same will happen to you if resist the devil by exposing him as a liar and replacing his lies with the truth. Afterwards, move onward with your life. Once this all happens, “the truth shall set you free” (John 8:32).

In Search Of A Better Tomorrow article

In Search Of A Better Tomorrow article

Achieving God-sized purposes require abiding in Christ as we overcome adversity. To endure the suffering that this journey often brings, we must all have the powers of perseverance, courage, and faith in us. God realizes this; consequently, He uses trials to make us ready for anything by strengthening these three areas. So as we face trials, don’t lose hope; freedom will someday occur if we stay connected to the Vine a little longer.

God has a purpose for both you and me – to transform this world to the extent God wants it to be changed. To do this, we must always “remain in Christ” because “apart from Him, we cannot produce any fruit” (John 15:5). Since God wants to show the world His great power by having us do through Him “something only He can do”, the journey we must run will be filled with rough terrain. However, as we “face many trials and sorrows”, there is hope. The same Messiah that we are to stay connected to “has overcome the world” (John 16:33).

When facing adversity, purposes can get achieved when our faith in God is stronger than our doubts. James Freeman Clarke once said, “All the strength and forces of man comes from his faith in things unseen. He who believes is strong; he who doubts is weak. Strong convictions precede great actions.” If we just have “faith even as small a mustard seed”, we can move our mountains of life and complete any task God has for us (Matthew 17:20). Unfortunately, doubt can prevent us from doing miracles through Christ like it did to Peter in Matthew 14:22-34.

In that passage of scripture, Peter started to walk on water because of faith as he kept his eyes on Jesus. Unfortunately, when fear diverted his attention away from Jesus and toward the stormy waves, doubt caused Peter to sink. However, when Peter sought his Messiah for help, Jesus reached out His hand and saved Him. Then Jesus asked Peter: “You don’t have much faith. Why did you doubt me?” (verse 31).

That story is like many of us today. We start our mission with progress as we stay connected to the Vine. Problems occur as we begin to focus on fear and not on Jesus. We start to sink. We next scream for help and Jesus then saves us. Jesus then wonders why we doubted Him. Then we start the entire process over again. So how do we move beyond our doubts and fears?

“Feed your faith, and your doubts will starve to death” (Les Brown). This is true because doubt and faith are opposites. The more you have of one, the less you have of the other. Also when you have more faith, you usually have less fear. This happens because fear is often intensified by doubt. So if you control doubt by increasing your faith, you can also “starve fear to death”.

You begin “feeding your faith” by listening to the Word of God (Romans 10:17) – those Biblical truths told by a “God who never tells a lie” (Hebrews 6:18). Next, as you face adversity in life, you recognize the truthfulness of those promises of God as you rely upon them for support. Thirdly, when Satan tells you those lies of doubt and fear, expose him as a liar and he will flee from you (Matthew 4:1-11). Finally, act against the fear as you trust God in surrender. That is how you increase your faith.

As you work to build faith, you will often face life struggles that make you want to give up the fight. When that happens, you will need perseverance to continue on. To persevere, one must have strong endurance to last despite adverse conditions. God knows that. Because of that reason, similar to how a trainer builds his athlete’s endurance through vigorous training, God uses trials to “build our endurance to make us ready for anything” (James 1:3-4). He uses “suffering to produce perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4). In doing this, God won’t let the trial become too overwhelming or without an escape route (1 Corinthians 10:13). His goal is to mold ordinary people into obedient, purpose-driven, warriors of life.

David is an example of an everyday person used by God with a purpose to give freedom to the world around him. Just a shepherd boy, God used David’s many successful experiences of protecting sheep from wild animals (1 Samuel 17:34) to mold David into a warrior that would someday protect his people from their giants. Nobody believed David could kill Goliath; no one except him and God. His previous experiences of being protected by God from bears and lions gave him the hope and endurance to persevere. However, being able to persevere alone is insufficient without it being backed up by the power of God.

During his confrontation with his giant, David had power because he “came in the name of the Lord Almighty” (verse 45). His ability to keep his focus on God and not on those waves kept him strong under duress. When Goliath threatened David with statements of fear and destruction, David responded with the truth: “Today the Lord will conquer you . . .” (verse 46) as he realized that “the battle was God’s and not his own” (verse 47). Because David recognized the truthfulness of God’s promise of deliverance, David was able to prevent fear and doubt from conquering his mind. The world then realized the greatness of God as David (through God) killed Israel’s giant.

In life, we all have our own giant that must be conquered in order for freedom to reign. The giant may be in the form of abuse, illness, financial struggles, addictions, depression, sin, or the loss of a loved one. Whatever it may be, when we conquer our giant by staying connected to Vine, we give hope and insight to others of how to do the same. That is how we change the world.

Purposes get achieved when people stay connected to the Vine; no matter the circumstances; no matter the adversity. Again Jesus said: “ . . .On this earth, you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world (John 16:33). Talking to the saved, this same Messiah who overcame death lives in your heart today. When you abide in Him, you have the power to move any mountain, to overcome any adversity, to sleigh any giant. Don’t let doubt and fear stop you from doing what you are meant to do!

God has given each of us a dream and the power to pursue it. It is our choice what we are going to do with it.

Seeking Love In All The Wrong Places article

Seeking  Love In All The Wrong Places article

‘To err is human; to forgive, divine” (Alexander Pope). The birth of sin has separated mankind from God, sent too many people to hell, and created shame and low-self-esteem to the human soul. God absolutely wants to “forgive and forget” our trespasses; but in order that to take place, we must first accept Christ as our Savior.

You did something wrong – something you cannot take back. The memories of that long-ago mistake haunt you everyday since. You try to rid yourself of the shame but cannot. You want to forgive yourself but the struggle is great. You subconsciously hope that the Creator of this world would just love and accept you in spite of yourself. Your self-esteem wavers because you are afraid He won’t. You don’t realize He will if you turn to Him.

Humanity began its existence without fault and with dignity because we were created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). We believed we were good because in our Maker’s eyes we were (Genesis 1:31). Unfortunately, when Adam ate the apple, we lost our right to be considered “righteous” (Isaiah 64:6). Sin separated us from God, destroying the only relationship that can make us complete in spirit (Isaiah 59:2). Since then, guilt, shame, hell, low self-esteem, hatred of self, and frailty has plagued the hearts of the human race.

We, sometimes when we sin, believe we are bad as we constantly feel the burden of being a sinner. Similar to how Adam fearfully hid in the garden from God after he sinned, we too many times hide from the truth of our frailness (Genesis 3:8-10). We are also the disobedient child that subconsciously fears punishment in the form of life struggles from the Father of all humanity. We try to do right but too many times we falter. Sin also has brought upon us a hunger inside of us: an insatiable need to be loved, accepted, and considered good in spite of ourselves. Life is a struggle for all – all because of sin.

We look for remedy for our problems but don’t know where to go. We fall into the “performance trap” in hopes of being approved by others. We listen to those advertisements that tell us if we “wear their jeans”, “drink their beer”, or “drive their fancy cars”, we will be find contentment and be considered “cool” by others. Unfortunately, these “aspirins” don’t cure our inward pains. Only the grace of God can “heal our broken hearts” (Psalms 147:3).

Horace Bushnell once said, “Forgiveness is man’s greatest need and highest achievement.” Without forgiveness, the burdens inflicted by sin will never go away. God, the Absolute Maker of All Life, totally wants you to be free from the tyranny of sin; so much that He had his faultless Son die to be the payment for our trespasses (1 Peter 3:18). “If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us to and to cleanse us from every wrong” (1 John 1:9). Only those who confess, believe in Him and in the cross, and accept His gift of pardon will be free from the penalty of sin (John 3:16Romans 3:23-24). These individuals will have peace with God (Romans 5:1), be considered free from condemnation (Romans 8:1-2), become one of His children (John 1:12), have everlasting life (John 3:16), receive God’s guidance for a newer, better life (Psalms 32:8) , be rescued from hell (John 3:16), and have a legitimate God-stamped reason to say no to shame and low-self-esteem (Colossians 1:22). “There is no greater achievement than to be loved, forgiven, and accepted by God”.

God forgives every sin – past, present, and future one – of His children (1 John 1:9). Again, we don’t have to fear condemnation-filled wrath from Him for any wrongdoing of ours (Romans 8:1). Once saved, our Father will choose to “remember our sins no more” (Hebrews 10:17). This doesn’t mean, however, He won’t try to correct our behaviors through compassionate-Fatherly discipline to make us into better people (Proverbs 3:11-12). It just means that “God is love” and His love won’t “keep any record of our wrongs” (1 John 4:81 Corinthians 13:5).

God will never leave or forsake His children – even when we turn our back on Him (Hebrews 13:5). In the Prodigal Son parable (Luke 15:11-31), the son left his father to indulge in sinful pleasures. When the son came back to his father after making a shambles out of his life, the son expected condemnation and rejection from his father. Instead, the father with compassion welcomed his son’s return with a celebratory feast. God is like that father. “Nothing can separate us from His love” (Romans 8:38).

“We forgive to the extent we love” (Francois de La Rochefoucauld quote). God’s love is so great toward His children that He is willing to “forgive and forget” all of their trespasses. Talking to the Christian, why cannot you express the same compassion to your own soul amidst your screw-ups? If our omniscient God thinks you are precious enough to be loved like that, why don’t you?

Concerning the unsaved, God desperately wants to start an intimate love relationship with you. He wants to free you from all the anguish that sin has inflicted upon you. He wants to be your Father who will “never leave or forsake you”. However, love is not love if it interferes with free will. He created you with the freedom to choose your own destination. What you do with it determines how free you actually are. Please choose Christ before it is too late!

For Joy We Climb Article

 For Joy We Climb article

Experiencing true joy and the power to overcome in this world of sadness requires obeying Christ as we abide in Him. Life often brings upon us floodwaters of life, giant-sized trials that uses sorrow to destroy our emotional stability. To overcome these floodwaters, we must face personal mountains of suffering, fear, and ignorance of the truth – rough terrain we must pass through to remain joyful and free. For the sake of stability, we must constantly choose to “remain in Jesus’ love”. If we do, we will experience Christ’s joy and power to persevere, giving us the capacity to find delight and victory from all sadness.

Sadness – that seven letter world that can make life miserable and the world seem bleak to those consumed by it. Driven by fear and often triggered by adversity, sadness is violent enough to destroy one’s hopes, dreams, and soul. So how do we find victory from this demolisher of freedom when confronted by this emotional monster? What do we need to do to experience and continue to experience joy during this battle? The answer to both these questions starts with stability and ends with Christ.

Everything needs stability. Without a solid foundation for support, houses and people will weaken and eventually crumble from pressure – assuming the pressure is strong enough. This is true in all aspects of human living – including our quest to remain joyful amidst the pressures of adversity and sorrow.

In this world, because of sin, people are constantly forced to deal with adversity-stimulated sadness. During those hard times we struggle to remain joyful, we should focus our attention upon the trials of Paul. In 2 Corinthians 6:3-10, it states that Paul “had been beaten”, “put in jail”, “faced angry mobs”, “been worked to exhaustion”, “endured sleepless nights”, and “gone without food”. Nevertheless, amidst all this, Paul said in verse 10, “Our hearts ache, but we always have joy”. How was he able to experience joy after facing all these tribulations?

Stability in our relationship with God enables us to be stable against the pressures of life. Those who let the Holy Spirit control their life will receive from Him God’s perfect joy and peace; fruit of the spirit that will remain in our hearts as long as we stay connected to the Vine (Galatians 5:22John 15:5). If we only “remain in Jesus’ love by obeying Him, we “will be filled with His joy, which will overflow” (John 15:9-11). This joy – which cannot be produced by human effort (John 15:5) –is the same joy Jesus had when He overcame the worst of all sadness, being crucified and considered guilty for our sins. And this joy can be ours if we only abide in Him.

Obedience binds us to God, His joy, etc.; disobedience separates us from all this until we reconcile and begin obeying again. For the sake of emotional stability in our lives, we must habitually choose to obey, especially when facing the floodwaters of life. According to Luke 6:46-49, someone who obeys Jesus is like “a person who builds his house on strong foundation laid upon the underlying rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against the house, it stands firm because it is well built.” Unfortunately, an individual who listens and doesn’t obey is like “a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against the house, it will crumble into a heap of ruins”. So our lives won’t crumble against the adversity-producing floodwaters of life, lets build our house on solid ground through obedience.

Striving to remain in Christ’s love through obedience is hard, especially when life hurts the soul. Floodwaters like grief, financial hardships, cancer, abuse, divorce, disability, and depression can all make this world seem unbearable, especially when the pain feels never-ending. To overcome these struggles, we must pass through many life mountains – mountains in the form of suffering, fear, and ignorance of the truth that must be climbed in hopes of someday finding freedom on the other side. Passing through these obstacles involves first overcoming the mountain of fear in order to make it beyond the mountain of suffering; and to defeat the hills of fear, mountains of ignorance of the truth need to be first crossed. This is the journey we must take to overcome our floodwaters of life.

Climbing life mountains involve us taking one step at a time in life through much rough terrain and perilous heights known as adversity. Each action we make in life in response to our trial represents a mountaineering step. Sound decisions move us upward; poor ones bring us downward. To victoriously pass through these mountains, we must relentlessly continue the fight until we finish the journey, not to mention rely upon God’s wisdom to maintain stability. Trying to do this all alone can be extremely strenuous, overwhelming, and it some cases, impossible. Thankfully, abiding in Christ not only gives us His wisdom and His joy, but also the capacity to persevere.

Mountains of suffering can be overcome when we learn to persevere. To triumph over great sufferings, we must first learn to overcome milder troubles. Trials are used by God, to build our perseverance so we can be “strong in character and ready for anything” (James 1:3-4). As God develops inside us the character to persevere, we will experience more and more hope to overcome our mountains of suffering. Romans 5:3-4 (NIV) reinforces this concept: “Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character, and character, hope”. In our strength, we are often too weak to conquer giant-sized trials. However, when we abide, we will find empowerment from Christ to defeat all floodwaters and mountains (Philippians 4:13).

As we climb up mountains of suffering, how we handle fear often influences the pain level of our sadness. Fear can make situations seem more pessimistic than they are in reality, and the helplessness and hopelessness that accompanies these perceptions often make the journey seem futile and disheartening. To move beyond the mountains of fear, and to remain perseverant over misery, we must control these fears through the truth.

“Of all the liars of the world, sometimes the worst are our own fears” (Rudyard Kipling). Fear is often deceitful, making floodwaters seem overly violent and mountains seem impassable. When we expose Satan as a liar and then move onward with life, we will find power in the fact that mountains can be defeated and joy can be experienced, regardless of the situation. However, for these two things can take place, we must first overcome the mountain of ignorance of the truth. This requires having faith in the truthful promises of God.

Jesus said in Matthew 17:20, “If you have faith even as small as a mustard seed you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’, and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.’” History is full of Christians who have experienced a lifestyle of joy and contentment – in spite of great suffering and fear- because of their faith in God. You can too if you believe.

During those times, in spite of the truth, where sadness make your life seem hopeless, read what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 10:13: “But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong you can’t stand against it. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it.” Regardless of how violent those floodwaters beat upon the house of the Christian, no suffering is too great to handle when we abide in Christ. He is always there to comfort us.

“God does not comfort us to make us comfortable, but to make us comforters” (John Henry Jowett). We can all remember countless times where, when emotionally down, someone unexpectedly came into our life and lifted our spirits when we needed it the most. Although small in action, their acts of kindness became indispensable to us, giving us back then the nourishment to continue the fight, helping us to make it to this current point in time. Their comforting words gave us inspiration, leading us to believe that there is good in every bad situation. Although these individuals most likely will never realize the impact of their behaviors upon us, we comprehend it today. During those times, their collective comfort was a catalyst that helped us to find joy amidst the sadness that many times plagued our soul.

These comforters don’t come to us by accident. God uses past hurts to give individuals the compassion to help us during our times of need. God then at the right moment leads these comforters in our lives when we need them the most. Once these encouragers help us, it is our time to console others. 2 Corinthians 1:4 supports this concept of our responsibility to comfort others: “He (God) comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step” (Lao Tzu). In a disobedient world that desperately needs stability, humanity is faced with a societal mountain to climb. A planet full of tragedy and sadness, a society who definitely needs joy the way God originally intended to be. Floodwaters like those of hatred, self-centeredness violence, death, drug abuse, crime, divorce, illness, earthquakes, and grief undermine freedom and hope; as a result, there are mountains of suffering and fear we must collectively climb. However, the biggest mountain that we all face is the mountain of ignorance: ignorance in the fact we need Christ. If Christians don’t place priority in spreading the gospel, being a living example of how to find joy amidst sadness, being a comforter to those in need, the world we live in will presumably, someday crumble into a heap of ruins.

“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day” (Henri Nouwen). In this world, there are many reasons to be sad. Floodwaters rise, attempting to destroy our emotional stability. Mountains become obstacles that get in our path to overcome these floodwaters. In our strength, we cannot experience overabundant joy or find true power to overcome. However, when we remain in Christ’s love, we can. Lets abide and not disobey, before it is too late!

Visionary Freedom article

Visionary Freedom article

“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he” (Proverbs 29:18, KJV).

Freedom occurs when God’s visions for man comes true. Since the beginning of time, our Creator envisioned man to be “masters of all life” – all realized when we obey God’s love laws. Unfortunately, sin has instead tyrannized us as our lawlessness have separated humanity from God, destroyed lives and relationships, and sent too many people to hell. Thankfully, to fix these problems, Love sent the True Light to remove our spiritual blindness, so we can both find salvation and also be reunited with the Holy Spirit who gives surrendered lives “life and peace”. If those in darkness just open their eyes and choose God’s visions for their lives, people will experience happiness and also freedom in this world of hate.

All created things, all change, and all freedom, must begin with a vision. Without having a “mental image of what we want our future world be like”, mankind cannot progress. World history is full of men who saw a problem, had an idea to solve it, and heavily labored to make it happen. A vision of “a new nation under God” inspired Thomas Jefferson to write the Declaration of Independence and the “hope of equality” gave Martin Luther King, Jr. “a dream” he wholeheartedly evangelized. Their visions gave these two men the inspiration, direction, and conviction to help break barriers that for too long has tyrannized mankind. Humanity is today better because of their efforts. Now, today as we speak, there is a hindrance to freedom we must all envision to overcome. We must show the world by our actions the dire importance of obeying God’s love laws and also reflect to them the vision of the cross before our hateful, sinful natures bring death to humanity.

“The God who gave us life . . .” (Thomas Jefferson), instilled inside us a vision for our free wills to follow. We were designed to be “masters of all life” (Genesis 1:26) which happens when we obey God’s commands of “loving thy neighbor as thyself” and “loving God with all thine heart” (Matthew 22:27-39). Love and obedience protects our freedom; doing otherwise destroys it. This is true, because “love does no wrong” (Romans 13:10), prevents stumbling amongst men (1 John 2:10), and enables us to experience and stay connected to God, the provider of all true joy and contentment. Unfortunately, today, man habitually chooses disobedience, leading to the death of too many “houses” (people) by the floodwaters of hate and disobedience.

Floodwaters of hate and disobedience are the consequences of sin that attempt to destroy the freedoms and lives of mankind. Luke 6:46-49 refers to these floodwaters as it emphasizes the dire need of building lives on a strong foundation through obedience. “So why do you call me ‘Lord’, when you won’t obey me? I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching and then obeys me. It is like a person who builds a house on strong foundation laid upon the underlying rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against the house, it stands firm because it is well built. But anyone who listens and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will crumble into a heap of ruins.” For the sake of all freedom, we cannot let our “sinful nature control our minds.”

“If your sinful nature controls your mind, there is death” (Romans 8:6a). In this world today, too many “deaths” of people happen – all because people choose hatred and sin over God’s vision of love and obedience. Sin separated mankind from God, creating hateful hearts that relish into destroying one anther. Without a nurturing, abiding, loving relationship with Christ, unsaved souls today experience an emptiness that no worldly, material possessions can remedy. Life struggles have also held hearts captive as the sorrows, afflictions, worries, and uncertainties of this world have led to disbelief in the hope of freedom. Worst of all, “the wages of sin” (Romans 6:23) has sent too many to hell. When there is no vision of love and obedience in the eyes of mankind, “people perish”.

Whereas death results from the surrendering of hearts to sin, “life and peace occurs when the Holy Spirit controls our minds” (Romans 8:6b). Hate-filled hearts that yield in obedience to the Holy Spirit will become that of the fruit of the spirit love, joy, peace, and self-control (Galatians 5:22). If people only surrender to the Holy Spirit, the world would become less hateful and more loving like Christ, resulting into a better place for all. The joy and peace from the fruit of the spirit would empty the emptiness of the brokenhearted, giving them life anew in happiness and contentment. However, before one can surrender to the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit must first be present in their soul, which first requires being a child of God (Romans 8:9).

“While there is great love, there are always miracles” (Wila Cather). Christ chose God’s vision of love and obedience by sacrificing His perfect life on the cross for our sins so we can be considered holy in the eyes of our Maker (Romans 5:12-18). Those who believe in Christ and in what He did and accept that gift of love will have eternal life and be freed from hell (John 3:16). Once saved, we are considered a child of God with the now Holy Spirit living in us. We then will have access to the fruit of the spirit and all of infinite things He does for all Christians. To His children, God promises “nothing can separate us from His love” (Romans 8:35-39) and that “He will never fail nor forsake us” (Deuteronomy 31:6) – never, even during our darkest nights of adversity. If people only just follow the vision of the cross, people can then become masters of life, just as God envisioned. Unfortunately, in order for the lost to see that vision, they must first be able to find it amidst the darkness.

In John 2:9-11, it says “He that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes”. Their darkness is what holds them captive. Unless somebody does something they will never be free. “Only love and light can drive out darkness” (Martin Luther King, Jr.), in which. Jesus is “the light of the world”. If the lost only follows Christ, they “won’t be stumbling though darkness, because they will have the light that leads to life”. (John 8:12). So the lost can see the “light of the world”, we as Christians must become the lighthouse that shines God’s light to those sinking ships facing floodwaters (of hate and disobedience) before it is too late!

“The Gospel is only good news if it gets there in time” (Carl F. H. Henry). Just like Paul in Acts 26:18, God wants to use us to “open the eyes” of the lost “so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God”. The Lord desires mankind to be “masters of all life”, not to be tyrannized by hell, hatred, life struggles, or emotional emptiness. Thus, God has envisioned for each of us a personal purpose to follow– a vision to create change amidst the barriers than today hinder man’s quest to be free – just like how both Thomas Jefferson and Martin Luther King, Jr. once did in their vision of “peace and freedom among men”. If we only continuously surrender ourselves to the Holy Spirit, He will make more and more clearer what our unique vision is to be and then Christ will empower us to achieve that dream (Philippians 4:13). As someone once said, “We are limited, not by our abilities, but by our vision.”

“Lost people matter to God, and so they must matter to us” (Keith Wright). We cannot be the lighthouse than habitually lets its lens get dirty because of sin – doing so will prevent sinking ships from seeing the Light. A stop also must be made to the tyrannizing and destroying of lives by floodwaters – we do that by showing the world God’s vision of love and obedience. If we don’t do what we are supposed to do, those in darkness will perish because they have no vision. For the sake of freedom, we must love thy neighbor as thyself before it is late!

The Boxer Within Us article

The Boxer Within Us article

Rely upon the Vine, fix observations and value judgments – this is how we overcome our boxing opponent called hard times. In the boxing ring of life, this means embracing fears, seeking both God’s wisdom and His power to overcome, and in everything, complete surrender to Him. As we face boxer after boxer, we will experience much injury and many temptations not “to fight another round”. However, during these times, we should never give up. Through God we can win every match – if we only have the courage to listen and rely upon our Trainer (Jesus), the only undefeated boxer in the history of mankind.

Life is often like boxing, a brutal activity where we too many times get punched and knocked down by our foe, adversity. In one match, unemployment surprises us as the fist of financial chaos knocks us painfully backwards to the mat. In another bout, memories of sexual abuse torment us as the left hook called fear leaves a gash above the eye. Every battle is the same – try to be strong as we attempt to dodge the one-two combination of fear and the troubles that particular adversity inflicts upon us, to stay alive. Between every round, in every fight, our Heavenly Trainer is in our corner, shouting out advice to us when we need Him the most. He says: “Remember Philippians 4:13Jeremiah 29:11-13, and Romans 8:28”. Why is it, as we tremble at the size of our opponent, do we hear our Trainer’s advice, but are too afraid to listen?

Freedom requires sound decision making which demands proper detections and reactions to change. When we fail to adjust true to the movements of our boxing foe, adversity, consequences occur. For example, after losing a job, appropriate responses to this situation need to be made or further injury, leading to greater financial instability, may occur. As a result, the brain must correctly “attach meaning” to the environmental stimuli that our senses detect and then develop a suitable strategy to the problem at hand. So we can think clearly and hopefully be sounded in knowledge, our value judgments, observations, and emotions must not interfere with our information processing.

Observations are “our perceptions of processed information that our brain has constructed from our experiences”. A value judgment is “an estimate, usually subjective, of the worth, quality, goodness, evil, etc. of something or someone”. When our mind makes a value judgment, it uses our belief system, influenced by our observations, to “label” a situation as either “good or bad”. When the value statement of the evaluated situation goes beyond a certain level of perceived “acceptability or unacceptability”, an emotion is produced automatically. This emotion may then, depending upon the intensity and the type, impact the quality of our living and also our capacity to reason which impacts the decisions we make in life. To properly detect and react to change, observations must not be erroneous in nature.

Our observations, or perceptions, of life events influence our thoughts which impact our decision making process. Painful past experiences and fear together often manipulate what we believe more than anything else. Common negative faulty observations constructed from these two variables include “There is no hope beyond my troubles”,
“I cannot do this”, “Nothing good will come out of my life”, “No one will ever love me”, and “God is mad and will never forgive me”. Depending upon the intensity of the value statements of these and other false observations, emotions like fear, sadness, and anger can be emitted, potentially leading to more irrational thinking and more unstable conditions; leading to more pain and fear, which starts the cycle over again.

“All human suffering is an experience based on value judgments of what is good and bad”. What makes the problem worse is that the brain, in its memory, has stored every bad situation that we have experienced in life. Every time in the present we experience similar events to those memories, the brain will recall the situation, the experienced emotions, and the underlying observations and value statements that contributed to the struggle. Just as bad, our mind, as it analyzes all the unknown variables and unsolved mysteries of the future, the brain will again recall the past. In both situations, we will experiences all the troubles and emotions of the past, all because we let our observations and value judgments control us over and over again. As Epictetus once said, “What disturbs people’s minds is not events, but their judgments on events.”

“Fear defeats more people than any other thing in the world” (Ralph Waldo Emerson). However, it doesn’t have to destroy me and you. 2 Timothy 1:7 says “For God has not given us the spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” There’s hope for the Christian, because Christ – our Trainer, the only undefeated boxer in the history of mankind – lives inside us. To find victory over our boxing opponent, we must constantly do the following three things in unison:

1) Change our mind’s value judgment by embracing the fear
2) Correct our faulty observations through the truth of God’s wisdom
3) Rely upon God’s power to do this and everything else

Change our mind’s value judgment

To think clearly and enjoy life better we must raise our tolerance level of handling fear to a higher degree; or in other words, keep the value statement that stimulates the production of fear at an “acceptable level”. Fear is our body’s internal response to our mind’s observation of danger being present in this world, whether the fear is real or imagined. Fear subsides with the perception that “everything will be okay”. If we embrace our fears; that is, if we “cherish, love, accept, welcome joyfully” fearful situations, the mind will then perceive the situation as positive, causing the mind not to release the “fight or flight” hormones. We will then have greater control over our life circumstances.

How can we view a situation as positive when the threat of pain is so enormous? This requires surrender to the promises of God. Putting more trust in Christ will reduce intensity and pessimism of the value judgment. How can we find inner peace in a world so frightening? Let God carry the brunt of the load of your pressures.

In Philippians 4:6-7, it says “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus”. Fervently pray to the Trainer, “God, I am so scared. I don’t know what to do. I cannot do this alone. I need you so much. I am putting this situation out of my hands and into yours as I trust you are going to do what’s best. Amen.” If you do this, you will find His perfect peace in unexpected hours.

Correct faulty observations

Faulty observations create fear when no fear is warranted. Bad information also leads us to undesirable paths. To make sound decisions, we need wisdom beyond what we can imagine. To properly adjust and react to the punches of change, we need information without any flaw. We need God’s perfect wisdom and not our own often erroneous thinking to deliver us through the trial. We need to surrender to God’s wisdom to receive what we need the most.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will direct your paths.” If we in boxing ring faithfully listen to the words of our Trainer during times of duress, we will eventually find victory from our giant. It may not be right away, and we may get knocked down a few times, but His guidance will make smooth our path – no matter how rough and jagged the course may be.

Rely upon God’s power to defeat our boxing giant

Defeating our giant requires power that we alone cannot muster. We need the power of the Vine to deliver us through. John 15:5 says, “I am the Vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me, you can do nothing.” Through Christ, “we can do all things”. (Philippians 4:13). In our imperfect human nature power, we make too many mistakes too often. We need to learn to rely upon the Trainer, who gives His boxer the empowerment to overcome.

In Samuel 17, David defeated his boxing giant because he “fought in the name of the Lord Almighty”. His knock out of his adversity came about from the fact that he realized “it was the Lord’s battle, not David’s” (1 Samuel 17:47). When any average man would shiver at the sight of Goliath, David boldly remained confident. In that boxing ring of life, David responded to the heckling of his naysayers by saying “Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you. . .” (1 Samuel 17:46). David won the heavyweight championship because of whom he drew his strength: that is, his Trainer.

We must rely upon the Vine and His word to properly detect and react to the punches of adversity. We must change faulty observations and replace it with the Truth. We also need His power to control our emotions by embracing fear and closing the value judgment lid. We need to believe in and draw strength from the Trainer before it is too late!

“Anything is possible if a person believes” (Mark 9:23): these are the words of the Trainer who will “never fail or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). Believe in Him. One day the Trainer said to His disciples, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible” (Matthew 17:20). . . Take that leap of faith before you let your fear block your dream.

“To become a champion, fight another round” (Muhammad Ali). In life, we have many bouts where we feel like giving up. We look at the blood and think hope is gone. It isn’t. “Suffering builds perseverance which builds character which builds hope”. (Romans 5:3-4). Hope from winning smaller bouts will make you ready to win bigger ones. Look at David again. Defeating lowly bears and lions in the ring gave him the experience to many years later defeat the “unbeatable” Goliath with only five stones and a sling. The Trainer molded David into a champion and He will do the same for you if you let Him.

“God blesses the people who patiently endure testing. Afterwards they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12). Remember this when you feel defeated in the boxing ring of life. Just think: you will soon receive God’s trophy if you don’t give up!

During every moment we take a breath in that ring, we face a crisis of belief. What memory is our mind going to recall? Is it going to be memories of past experienced victories or those of defeat? “Feed your faith and your doubts will starve to death” (Les Brown). If you don’t, fear will destroy your faith. The choice is up to you and me.

Houses of Retribution Article

Houses of Retribution article

Freedom from hatred, selfishness, and discord all happen when people obey God’s love commands. Stability, in spite of retribution-driven adversity, occurs when we allow the Holy Spirit produce the “fruits of the spirits” in us. Becoming a Christian, surrendering self to the Holy Spirit, and “making disciples of all men” is how mankind can finally break free from its chains. If we all only say “yes” to our unique purposes, free will will allow the love of Christ “fix” the houses we refer as people, giving us all the necessary foundation to withstand the floodwaters of adversity.

Negative consequences which can undermine freedom happen when we disobey God’s command to “love one another” (Matthew 22:39). Freedom in stability can be found for people, families, societies, and mankind if they only love and sin not. Jesus said in Luke 6:46-49, “someone who come to me, listens to my teachings, and obeys me is like a person who builds a house on a strong foundation laid upon the underlying rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against the house, it stands firm because it is well built. But anyone who listens and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will crumble into a heap of ruins”. To have stability against the “floodwaters of adversity” from beating and destroying our houses (us), we must always obey God’s decree to “love thy neighbor as thyself”.

Today, in this world full of violence, hatred, discord, and selfishness, the stability of houses (people, families, societies, nations) is being pressured by the floodwaters of adversity. Because we choose the flesh and not Christ as our foundation, too many lives are crumbling. The mortar, which binds together the bricks (people) of a house (family, society, humanity), is weakening and causing bricks to collide into another, as retribution is increasingly replacing forgiveness as the binding agents of family and society. As new houses (children and families) are being built, as current houses struggle to stay erect, we must all take notice in how we build our foundation and what mortar we use.

“A tree is identified by its fruit. Make a tree good and its fruit will be good. Make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad” (Luke 6:43-45). When we injure one another and “eye for eye” back, we are surrendering to our sinful nature which produces bad fruit (sexual immorality, impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, hostility, quarreling, outbursts of anger, etc.) (Galatians 5:19-21). However, when we yield to the Holy Spirit, He produces His perfect fruits of the spirit in us: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). No bad ever comes from these fruits. “Us houses” will always remain firm when we yield to the Holy Spirit.

No “fruits of the spirit” fruit can ever be produced in the lives of the unsaved, because the Holy Spirit only lives in the soul of the Christian (Romans 8:9). Jesus – the only man who never chose “eye for eye” to those who injured Him, the only man to sacrifice His innocent life for the freedom of all, the only who can restore the relationships of man to God and man to man, and the only man who can give a world of people a new start on Earth and in heaven – is all we need. Christ’s love rescues, forgives, changes hearts, restore relationships, transform enemies into friends, and gives birth of the Holy Spirit to all Christians. If everyone only accepts Christ as their Savior, all of the world’s problems would presumably go away. (See John 3:14-16Romans 10:9-10, Revelations 3:20, etc. to find out how you can become a Christian).

Erich Fromm once said, “Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence”. So Love (Christ) can work to save this world and all the people in it, all Christians have a role to play. Jesus said in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.” To do this, we must constantly surrender our wills to the purposes God has given us. Jesus wants to use us so He can convert sinners into saints; the Gardener (Holy Spirit) wants us to be a tool that helps Him make hardened hearts wanting to obey Him. In essence, we are to be an instrument that God uses to turn self-centered, disobedient hearts into saved, obedient souls which God can use for His glory. Each of us has an unique purpose, driven toward this mission.

“The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it” (Albert Einstein). Every day, we face a crisis of belief – choose self-centeredness or our unique purpose. Too many times, as we are exposed to the temptations and pressures of life, we pick disobedience. Depending upon the magnitude of the situations, negatives consequences which may impede God’s work in the world may result from our rebellion. Jesus said in Matthew 16:24: “If any of you want to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow me.” It is often a great challenge to be God-centered; however, “what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will give us later” (Romans 8:18).

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step” (Lao Tzu). To create a better world, we must daily be obedient to our God-given purpose. “To put the world right in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order; we must cultivate our personal life; we must set our hearts right” (Confucious). Every day, we must “be the change you want to see in the world” (Mahatma Ghandi).

“If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry a real war against war, we have to begin with the children” (Mahatma Gandhi). Youngsters are usually the easiest to influence; they are also the building blocks of future generations. If we can reach them, they can do the same to their children, and so on. This would be a start of shattering our lawless culture, a major hindrance toward freedom in Christ. Man could then relearn to “love thy neighbor”.

In an overpopulated world, where the action and decisions of imperfect people collide into each other, mistakes will happen, causing injury to you and me. Whether intentional or unintentional, we face a crisis of belief of how we respond to the situation. We cannot let our anger control us, and we cannot succumb to the troubles we daily face. We must always show forgiveness and not retribution. To do this, we must surrender to the Holy Spirit, who gives us perfect fruit of the spirit love.

We must choose forgiveness and be obedient to our purpose, so Love can save a broken world, full of broken people. We also must become the tool God uses to reveal the gospel and the work of the Holy Spirit. We must do this now before another “house” falls down! We must start now!

Purposes article

Lets Follow In The Footsteps Of Abraham Lincoln article

 

Human freedom, achieving God-given purposes, and Love saving human hearts can all happen when perseverance triumphs over adversity. For example, because of Abraham Lincoln’s resilient, steadfastness to his purpose of becoming an U.S. president, he was able to help end the Civil War, free blacks from slavery, and presumably, create a more loving / less hateful society. Today, symbolic to this story of President Lincoln is the crisis of belief Christians have upon ending the “civil war” and “spiritual slavery” much of humanity has amongst itself. To enable the hopeless to experience true freedom found only in Love (Trinity), the saved must lovingly endure hardships as they surrender themselves to God’s perfect will.

“From time to time, life as a leader can look hopeless. To help you, consider a man who lived through this: Failed in business at age 31. Defeated for the legislature at 32. Again failed in business at 34. Sweetheart died at 35. Had a nervous background at 36. Defeated in election at 38. Defeated for Congress at 34. Defeated for Congress at 46. Defeated for Congress at 48. Defeated for Senate at 55. Defeated at Vice President at 56. Defeated for Senate at 58. Elected President at age 60. This man was Abraham Lincoln.” (Unknown source: these numbers are not ages of his life, but years in the 1800s.)

Chasing a dream in spite of overwhelming odds demands the sheer will not to give up, especially when there is no assurance it will be achieved. Exerting enormous time, energy, and resources toward that goal, can be totally excruciating, particularly after experiencing repeated failures, doubts, and hopelessness. However, as Dale Carnegie once said: “Most of the important things have been accomplished by people when there seemed no hope at all”. Lincoln had to persevere through enormous adversity to become an U.S. president, and then to later help end the Civil War and slavery of blacks. Human freedom resulted because of his courage and determination as his purpose and love for a better world saved individual hearts. Today, in this world, we like Abraham must also exhibit comparable kind of valor, as we together must chase a similar dream of freedom; that is, to end spiritual slavery and our civil war among man.

During the Civil War, Lincoln saw a chaotic nation, torn by differences involving slavery that fought and killed its own. In our day, I see both a civil war amongst man and also spiritual enslavement of spiritual slaves. Dysfunctional neighborhoods, families, and Christians, motivated by selfishness, hate, and wickedness, cannot get along, as their sinful natures injure one another, inciting stumbling blocks and “eye for eyes” – all because man forgot to love. Separated from God due to sin, spiritual slaves (the unsaved and wayward Christian, both controlled by spiritual slave owner Satan) are doomed to hell; have no intimacy with the Creator and thus discontented; have no living hope from adversity; and are terrorized by the consequences of their unsound decisions. Both the unsaved and wayward Christian wants to feel “whole” again, but don’t know where to turn. They hope their possessions, status, works, addictions, and interpersonal human relationships can save them; but they cannot: to experience true joy, we must abide in Christ, requiring obedience (John 15:9-11).

Abolitionist God wants to free humanity, but is unable if man remains wayward. According to Luke 6:49, someone disobedient to Christ’s teachings is like “a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will crumble into a heap of ruins”. Because people don’t obey Christ’s love commands, floodwaters of hate today beat upon rocks (human beings) of houses (families, neighborhoods, societies, and world) with sufficient pressure to destroy what we call freedom. Floodwaters like rabid racism, discord, countless killings of the innocent, domestic violence, criticism, discord, rape, false witness, haughtiness, jealousy, etc. threaten the presence of us “houses”; all because individuals build their “houses” (neighborhoods, families, etc.) without Christ as its foundation. Sin (floodwaters of hate) is today destroying too many “houses”, which is exacerbating the civil war of man problem; thus giving Satan greater control of its spiritual slaves (and possibly, to the rest of the world) as these people must endure unstable conditions.

Freedom to man can occur when society chooses to let the Holy Spirit change their hateful hearts into loving, Christ-like ones (Romans 8:5-6). To those who surrender to the Holy Spirit, perfect fruit of the spirits (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control) will be produced in their spirit (Galatians 5:19-23). This means people will become good and not evil, because these fruits will overpower Satan’s lawless desires of the flesh in us (Galatians 5:19-23). If humanity loves like Christ and not hate like Satan, society will be free from “civil war amongst man” as we will stumble not into another. For this all can take place, Holy Spirit must live inside the human spirit, which requires individuals being saved through the cross.

The Holy Spirit makes the lost a “new creation” when they accept Christ as their Savior (Romans 8:9-11). Sinners need spiritual water to quench their spiritual thirst. Christ, whose purpose was to save human souls from all wrongdoings as His perseverance overcame the greatest of adversity, will satisfy your thirst if you let Him. Jesus said in John 4:13-14 (KJV): “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a water springing up into everlasting life.” The Holy Spirit is the “water” that can set your soul free from spiritual slavery if you choose to let Him. “For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved!” (Romans 10:9). To have freedom over sin, we must accept Christ as our Savior so the Holy Spirit can reside and do His work in us.

Christ is the Light that shines Himself through the darkness (sin, selfishness, hate), saving all of us sinking ships lost at sea, rescuing man from stormy waves (hell, sin, adversity). Christians need to be the “lighthouse” which makes Him visible to all. We are to “make disciples of all nations” and be a living example of how to be obedient (Matthew 28:19-20). In everything we do, Christ followers are to show the greatness of God as we lead man into all truth, show him the need and power of God’s love in human lives, and prove to them our Creator is a god we can trust. Whether we are a janitor, a preacher, a writer, an encouraging neighbor, a Sunday school teacher, a computer programmer, an athlete, an errand boy to the needy, on an overcoming cancer patient, it is all the same. We cannot let our lighthouse windows be dirty of sin so spiritual slaves and sinking ships (both aka: the unsaved, wayward Christians, strugglers of adversity) cannot find Christ’s light which leads to freedom.

Each man’s role, to end both spiritual slavery and our fighting amongst mankind, is as important as the other. Just as the eye is as essential as the hand in the human body’s daily functions, one person’s purpose is needed as much as another in the church body. So the church can bring forth human freedom in this lawless society, everyone must do their part (entire paragraph, see 1 Corinthians 12).

Pursuing freedom in an unfair world often involves facing great adversity like Lincoln did before. However, as we strive to do what we are meant to do, “there are no hopeless situations, only people who think hopelessly” (Windred Newman). As you face your giant, put your hope in the Lord. If we do this, “our hope will not be cut off” (Proverbs 23:18), and “anyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame” (Romans 10:11). Also, draw strength from the Lord when you feel like giving up. Isaiah 40:29-30 says: “He gives power to those who are tired and worn out; he offers strength to the weak. Even youths will become exhausted, and you men will give up. But those who wait on the Lord will find new strength. They will fly on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint”.

As we daily surrender to God’s will, our perseverance must triumph adversity. Our love for humanity must exceed our self-centeredness. Our faith must surpass our fears.

Put again your hope in the Word as you give Christ ownership of your fears. Meditate upon and trust in His promises and God will use trials to develop your endurance – “so you will “be strong in character and ready for anything” (James 1:2-4). Then rely upon Christ’s power to deliver you through (Philippians 4:13).

“So don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time” (Galatians 6:9). Lincoln persevered, and his purpose gave blacks freedom and restored national unity as he saved human hearts. We must also be strong so we together can work toward ending spiritual slavery and also civil war amongst mankind. “With man, this is impossible. But with God, all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

Sources:

http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/featured_documents/emancipation_proclamation/

http://www.gotquestions.org/names-Holy-Spirit.html

http://www.neverthirsty.org/pp/corner/read/r00238.html

http://www.gotquestions.org/living-water.html

http://quotationsbook.com/quote/13856/

Love Stronger Than Any Rejection Or Mental Illness article

Love Stronger Than Any Rejection Or Mental Illness article

 

Freedom from rejection and our mental illness demands the stability of an intimate love relationship with Christ in our lives. Regularly basing our self-worth on grace and the Christian’s position in Christ, rather than on performance, can free us from our fears of being unloved, unworthy, and insignificant. Also, children of God can remain confident that the Father’s Love will still hold their lives firmly, in spite of the stormy winds of life.

Personal strongholds often result from rejection. Rejection can hold our minds hostage by controlling how we act, think, and feel. Depression, low self-esteem, distrust of others, perfectionism, self-rejection, suicide, anxiety problems, shame, and relationship troubles can result from being rejected. Dealing with rejection is hard for anyone, especially with someone with a mental illness.

God never designed mankind to feel and be that way. By the Creator of the Heavens and Earth,” man was created in His perfect image” (Genesis 1:26-27); unfortunately, free will and sin made us into hell-sentenced sinners (Romans 6:23). Our disobedience separated us from God; produced too many wars among men; birthed every human with a “spiritual mental illness”; and created suffering of all sorts, including what those with a real mental illness daily experience. Man fears rejection because it again has to feel the shame associated with being imperfect. Instead of reconciling with God through grace, which brings back true joy and contentment (Roman 5:1, Isaiah 12:3), we instead subconsciously become approval addicts who attempt to use performance to prove self-worth, a faulty measure to remedy shame. Robert S. McGee sums it up like this: “One of the tragic implications of this event (Adam’s rebellion) is that man lost his secure status with God and began to struggle with feelings of arrogance, inadequacy, and despair, valuing the opinions of others more than the truth of God. This has robbed man of his true self-worth and has put him on a continual, but fruitless, search for significance through his success and the approval of others”.

Our spiritual “mental illness” craves to do wrong and struggles to do right; feels shame and fears rejection because, again, it hates to be reminded of its flaws; experiences futility in the use of performance, addictions, and possessions to remedy pain – this reflection we see in the mirror needs grace now. Even though we deserted Him, our sovereign God so desperately desires a renewed, eternal love relationship with you and me so badly, that He had His blameless Son die the death of a sinner, in hopes people will someday accept His token of Love and pardon for hell (1 Peter 2:18-24). The God, “who knows all the hairs on your head” (Luke 12:6-7), wants you to call him “Abba Father” (Galatians 4:6). As Wayne Jacobsenan once said, “No matter how unloved you have felt in the past, no matter how lost you feel in your sin, God knew all that when He chose you – and He wants you anyway.”

“God’s Love is unconditional, which means that it has absolutely nothing to do with us. Thankfully, God doesn’t love us for who we are, but because of who he is” (David J. Stewart). To God, you are the lost coin that the owner desperately seeks after (Luke 15:8-10). You are one sheep out of a hundred that the shepherd goes after in hopes of finding. (Luke 15:1-7). God is right now knocking on the door that leads to your heart, saying “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me” (Revelation 3:20-21). Please open the door and let Him in.

If you seek true inner peace, Love, contentment, freedom from hell, and want your shame be covered by His grace, wholeheartedly pray this prayer, written by Charles Stanley, to God: “Lord Jesus, I confess that I am a sinner. I want to thank You for loving me so much that You paid the price for my sins on Calvary’s Cross. I lay my life down before You and ask that You would come into my heart and make me complete in You. I accept your forgiveness as atonement for my sins. Thank You that I am given new life through You. From this day forward, teach me to follow only You”. (For more information on “God’s Simple Plan of Salvation”, please go to www.inpursuitoffreedomministries.com/Salvation.htm).

“You aren’t loved because you’re valuable. You’re valuable because God loves you” (Anonymous). “When you accept His Son’s death on the cross as payment for your sins (John 3:16), you become of child of God. You are grafted into His family, and your life has an eternal worth (Romans 11:17). There is nothing you can do to become more worthy. And there is nothing anyone can say about you that will cancel God’s love for you.” (Charles Stanley, from his book, Dealing with Life’s Pressures). Isn’t that what you want, to be loved in spite of your imperfections? God will, if you let Him.

“Nothing in all creation can ever separate the love God has toward His children” (Romans 8:35-39). Nothing can: not even “death; life; angels; demons; our fears for today; our worries about tomorrow; the powers of hell; no power in the sky above or in the earth below”(see Romans 8:38). Nothing can ever separate – not even our sins – the love of God to the Christian. As Charles Stanley said, “He may not always approve of your behavior, but He will never reject your personhood.”

Our Father in heaven is like the father in the Prodigal Son parable (Luke 15:11-32). In this story, the wayward child leaves his father and makes enormous, erroneous decisions. In the eyes of the Father, the Prodigal Son’s performance is way below standards. However, when the Prodigal Son realized he did wrong and came to the father asking for forgiveness, the father didn’t reject the Prodigal Son, even though the father’s other son tried to convince the father he should. Instead, the Father opened his arms, and welcomed his son back and they celebrated. The love of the father didn’t at all condemn or reject the Prodigal Son for being immoral; the father welcomed the Prodigal Son back because he was his son. That is how God is toward the unsaved sinner who comes to Christ, and also to the wayward Christian who seeks forgiveness for their sins.

Born with a real mental illness, your heart may cry: “If God loves me so much, why do I have my disability?” One obvious reason, again, is the consequences of sin. Adversity, according to Charles Stanley, “gets our attention; delivers us from pride; reveals our weaknesses and strengths; increases our hatred of sin; demonstrates the faithfulness of God; strengthens our faith; removes pride and self-centeredness;, prepares us for future service, and enables us to comfort others facing adversity.” Those are the main reasons for adversity. However, there is another purpose, interrelated to these previous ones, that I would like to drive home, discovered by Paul, in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10.

Paul had his own thorn in the flesh that he struggled to deal with, like how we have our psychological mental illness as our thorn in the flesh. According to verse 8, “three different times Paul begged the Lord to take his thorn away” but each time God said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So after the third time, Paul figures out why God didn’t remove the adversity, revealed in the next two verses: “So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

“Everything God does is love – even when we don’t understand Him” (Basilea Schlink). In our weaknesses, God loves to reveal His power so He can help those who need it worse than we. He also puts life struggles in our paths to build our “faith and perseverance muscles” so we can be strong in character and ready for His God-sized purpose He has for our lives (James 1:2-4). When we through Him overcome our personal giants, others will see Christ in you and then realize they can find victory through Him in their battles with their mental illness (both spiritual and real). What we must do in the meantime, is to rely upon God’s power to confront the fears that hold us down in life as we believe in and surrender to the promises God gives us to overcome our giants. Once we grow closer and closer in a love relationship with God, we learn more and more about His qualities, one of them being is His Love that would never let His children suffer more than what they can handle through Him (1 Corinthians 10:13). Another one is Romans 8:18: “Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will give us later”.

In life, as we face our fears of rejection, we must always focus upon our position in Christ, not what others who hurt you tell you. Someone once said, “Let your evaluation of worth derive from the awareness of God’s love for you. All other measures leave one in a state of delusion.” When facing the fears of the trials of life, again focus upon the truth of the Scriptures. If you embrace them, and have the courage to trust in them, the Truth will eventually set you free.

Here are some verses to read when facing adversity:
1 Corinthians 10:13Romans 8:28Jeremiah 29:11-13Psalms 32:8Deuteronomy 31:6,9Philippians 4:13Isaiah 41:10-11James 1:12; Psalms 27

Courage Article

We Are To Be Courageous article
“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them” (Walt Disney). God gives every human a purpose to achieve through Him. To reach it, it requires constant surrender to Him, in spite of our life struggles, doubts, fears, and temptations to terminate the journey.

To climb Mount Everest, to be the boxer who beats Muhammad Ali, to successfully sail across the Bermuda Triangle, demands enormous hope, courage, perseverance, and faith in spite of gargantuan life obstacles. However, accomplishing lofty goals like these show greatness. That is why God gives giant-sized purposes to people – to show His greatness to a dying world, so individuals will realize how much we need Him, in spite of our giant-sized problems.

You may think your life doesn’t matter; but I believe God has a special dream for you and me to accomplish in our own lives. We may not see the rippling effect our words and actions each day have upon people, society, and generations to come, but God knows. Whether or whether not our dream is greater than ordinary, it still the same. All God wants is a surrendering heart that desires a love relationship with Him and others.

In every mind is a warfare for supremacy: between doubt and faith; selfishness and love, and fear versus courage. Days of sorrow and confusion, where the trials seem too overwhelming and out of control, where there are struggles not to hate after being hurt, where you just plain want to disbelieve the dream of freedom, often torment the human mind. Trying to be the onward Christian soldier who continues to march forward no matter what, we can’t let the uncertainty of the unknown compel us to give up the fight – just like the Israelites who wanted to forgo their “land of milk and honey” because they feared what lies ahead. Our courage must be stronger than our doubts, hurts, and fears.

“Fear defeats more people than any other thing in the world” (Ralph Waldo Emerson); however, it doesn’t have to beat me or you. In spite of being told by King Saul, “There’s no way you can fight this Philistine and possibly win!” (1 Samuel 17:33), David, an ordinary shepherd boy, with only five stones and a sling, conquered fear and his giant Goliath, through the power of God. “With man, this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible” (Mark 10:27).

When you trust in the God who is always on your side, no giant can defeat you. “There are no hopeless situations, just people who think hopelessly” (Winfred Newman). So, how was David back then able to muster sufficient courage and faith to risk his life in the process of testing God’s trustworthiness in delivering David through his trial?

“The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion a bear will rescue me from this Philistine” (David, 1 Samuel 17:37) – words of David, indicating David’s growing confidence that gradually grew from his previous smaller victories of conquering lions and bears through God. In Romans 5:4, it says that“trials worketh patience; patience, experience, and experience, hope.” David’s earlier trials taught him that “I can do all things through Christ (God) which strengthened me”, as each faith experience gave him more and more conviction and hope to face the next trial. This faith principle is also true for us today.

“I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears” (Psalms 34:4). Our faith grows further when we are able to associate God’s promises found in His Word, with our faith experiences. When we can correlate “What God says He will do” (found in Scriptures) with “What God has done in my life” (our faith experiences versus adversity), our courage, in time, will increase, and our doubts and fears will gradually diminish.

“Courage is being afraid, but going on anyhow” (Dan Rather).Through the power of Christ, we must daily confront our fears, embrace the conflict of the adversity, believe in God’s promises as we surrender our anxieties to Christ, and finally, replace our pessimism with optimism. Doing all this, in spite of our personal strongholds, is definitely a difficult task, accompanied by many failures. However, according to Dale Carnegie, “Most of us have far more courage than we ever dreamed possible.”

“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you” (Deuteronomy 31:6). Wholeheartedly knowing truths like these will not only liberate you from your strongholds, but can, depending upon our purpose, remove the shackles of the people around us.

Goodness And Forgiveness Article

Building Brick House Families article

Freedom from disobedience and its consequences demands “families” of all sorts, choosing goodness and forgiveness. Stability from floodwaters of life necessitates surrendering to the Holy Spirit, so bricks (people) can harmoniously coexist with bricks (people). To escape spiritual slavery, to build stable homes, to receive and give goodness and forgiveness, this unstable world desperately needs to see the “city on the hill”, to find the Light of the Trinity.

On the Internet, I long ago came across with a quote, by Confucius. It said:

“To put the world right in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family, in order, we must cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right”. . .

On this planet today, stated by Charles Stanley, “nations fight against nations, in marriages people fight against each other. We are in warfare, in national warfare, and in warfare with each other and with ourselves.” Bad trees are today producing bad fruit – all because man is sowing hatred and retaliations, rather than love and forgiveness.

Billy Graham once said, “Self-centered indulgence, pride, and a lack of shame over sin are now emblems of the American lifestyle”. Hate crimes, same-sex marriages, abortions, no religion in schools, child abuse, neglectful parents, TV violence, condoms, false religions, and illegal drugs, etc., today infiltrate human minds. How would our founding fathers, including those soldiers who bled and died for the cause of religion, feel to see how far immorally we let America slip? “WHEN THERE IS NO VISION, THE PEOPLE PERISH; BUT HAPPY IS HE, THAT KEEPETH THE LAW” (Proverbs 29:18).
. . . .

“For each of our actions, there are only consequences” (James Lovelock).

Brick Houses

Key verses: “So why do you keep call me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say? I will show what it’s like when someone comes to my teaching, and then follows it. It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house. It stands firm because it is well built. But anyone who hearts and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.” (Jesus, Luke 6:46-49)
Imagine a brick house comprised of many bricks (people). Each person, because of disobedience, is born with a “spiritual mental illness” (imperfect in choosing not to sin) in conjunction with a spiritual addiction (cannot control urges to do wrong). “Civil wars among men” result, as fruits of the flesh, enslaves humans into “spiritual slavery”. Joylessness, insecurities, discontentment, bloodshed, fear, shame, real addictions, real mental illness, hell, separation from God, and depression are examples of man’s spiritual tyranny. Consequently, each person is like a brittle brick that is breakable when other bricks and pressure beat against it.

Just as weak bricks need mortar to keep bricks unified and bind together, as you will later see, people need Christ’s love and goodness to maintain unity and stability amongst themselves. “Brick houses” like families, societies, churches, business, government, nations, world, desperately need God’s stability through obedience, or it will always remain vulnerable to the floodwaters of life (adversity, often negatively-stimulated by sin).

Unsound decisions lead to negative consequences which, depending upon the repercussion’s force) can collapse lives and “brick houses”. Unfortunately, according to Charles Stanley, people don’t like to acknowledge this truth: “People don’t like the idea of consequences. They want to be able to live their life freely and do what they want to do without any consequences.”

“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.” (Margaret J. Wheatley). For example, in a world where TV violence both desensitizes, and fuels the creativity of wicked minds, to do evil, we are creating a society of fear, distrust, and hatred, which when uncontrolled, progressively leads toward total human annihilation. Ponder these two quotes:

“In time we hate that we often fear”. – Williams Shakespeare

“Hate is a cancer that spreads one cell at a time.” – Dave Pelzer

Pope John Paul II once stated, “Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought”. “One of Satan’s most deceptive and powerful ways of defeating us is to get us believe a lie. And the biggest lie is that there are no consequences to your own doing. Satan will give you whatever you ask if it will lead you where he ultimately wants you” (Charles Stanley). Being able to distinguish truth versus lies, is the first step toward overcoming this growing immoral epidemic we live in.

“Only God who made us can touch us and change us and save us from ourselves”. (Billy Graham)

II. Love is the only sane and satisfactory solution to the problem of human existence (Erich Fromm)

“Man has two spiritual needs. One is forgiveness. The other is for goodness.” (Billy Graham). Human freedom occurs when these two attributes are both experienced and expressed by man.

Problems occur when sinner yield to their sin nature. “Sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, and wild parties”, are all examples of what results, when the flesh is in control (Galatians 5:19-21). Especially, In a lawless society where the unsaved person is capable of expressing unconditional love, societal chaos can occur. (Because Holy Spirit doesn’t live in soul of unbeliever, person is unable to unconditionally love like Christ.)

For the sake of freedom, man must choose goodness and not evil. Thus, the Holy Spirit must reside in person, so He can release fruit of the spirits love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in individual (Galatians 5:22-23). Because these Holy Spirit-produced attributes cause no harm to anyone, “there is no law against these things (Galatians 5:23).” Fruit of the spirits are produced when Christians surrender to the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22).

Forgiveness prevents man from doing “eye for eye” when someone hurts him. It frees society as man works to do goodness. To sufficiently love, forgive, and be good, we need the Holy Spirit. The cross, the door that leads to the Holy Spirit and renewed intimacy with the Father, was the sacrifice and pardon for all believers’ sins, freeing man from hell. Through the Trinity, those in spiritual chains can feel whole again; and the Christian is no longer obligated to evil, as Christ’s crucifixion not only crucified our sins, but also nailed man’s passions and desires of the flesh. Thus, the cross is the bridge that leads man to the God and the Holy Spirit (in which abiding in them leads us to spiritual freedom).

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend” (Martin Luther King, Jr.) Jesus is Love. When Christians we continually surrender to Holy Spirit, fruit of the spirit Love (etc.) becomes a part of our daily lives, in a society that desperately needs it. If everyone person becomes a Christian, and every Christian continually surrender to Holy Spirit, not only would everyone gets saved, but every human would be in fellowship with God, and every man would be in fellowship with man. God would then guide all the human interactions of man, and man would not stumble into one another, because of God’s light. (Note: God’s light also removes the darkness of our sins.)

In short forgiveness is what reunites and restores the relationship between sinner and hurt party. Forgiveness is what makes enemies friends; Holy Spirit’s goodness is what leads people not to injure another. Just as God forgave us for our transgressions, we must do the same (through Christ) to those who hurt us. Christ is the not only the pure example of forgiveness, but Jesus is the way to the Holy Spirit, who enables surrendering people to forgive and be good like Christ. To forgive and be good reciprocally, that’s how sinful people become able to harmoniously co-exist.
. . . .

(Go to inpursuitoffreedomministries.com/Salvation.htm for information on how to become a Christian.)

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Part 2: Love is a condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own” (Robert Heinlein).

Freedom occurs when man turns to Christ, which demands Christians to surrender to their God-given purpose, so Christianity, to those in darkness, can become the “city on the hill, that is not hidden”. (Matthew 5:14-16)

“Your task is to build a better world, God said. I answered, How? . . . This world is such a large, vast place, and there’s nothing I can do’. But God said, in all His wisdom, just build a better you”. (Author Unknown) . . .

Christians are to the lighthouses that reflect the love/light of the True Light (Christ) to those sinking ships (non-Christians) lost at sea. Just like John the Baptist in John 1:6-7, “we are to be a witness that tells others about Jesus (the light) so that everyone might believe because of our testimony.” Daily surrendering our lives to Christ is essential to being a witness.

Like a branch which cannot produce fruit without being connected the Vine (see John 15), man is unable to produce spiritual fruit, without the Holy Spirit. In Acts 1:8, it says “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be witnesses, telling people about me everywhere – in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Note that it says, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you”; to me, that means that it is fruitless to witness until the Spirit is ready to empower you, to do it.

I believe John 15:4-5 reinforces this.
God has created everyone with a unique way (unique life purpose, unique set of abilities and spiritual gifts, unique location) to witness. Being a witness doesn’t only mean “confronting someone and sharing the Gospel”. It also involves “loving people with goodness and forgiveness, “living a Holy Spirit-inspired life of morality”; “being an overcomer through the power of Christ”, and “letting God make uses of your talents for His glory”, and etc.

Most of the time, we are an effective witness outside of our awareness. Our job is to only surrender everything to Him and let God do the work. Unfortunately, our self-centeredness too many times gets in the way of us doing what we are meant to do through Him. Thus, we are like “diamonds in the rough” that God constantly has to work on, to remove the imperfections which interfere us into being a “hope diamond” that reflects Christ’s
hope to those who need Him.

In order for us to be the “city on the hill”, we cannot let our lighthouses become so dirty of sin that people cannot see Jesus in us. We “diamonds in the rough” must also be “moldable” so God can use us for His glory.

The Family

“A man ought to live so that everyone knows he is a Christian . . . and most of all, his family ought to know” (Dwight L., Moody).

Abdul Kalam once said, “If a country is to be corruption free and a nation – of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, the mother, and the teacher.”

“The family is the nucleus of civilization” (William J. Durant). For humanity to begin being free, parents must daily by example selflessly lead their children to Christ, and then teach their children about “goodness and forgiveness.”

Charles Stanley once said, “In giving us children, God places us in a position of both leadership and service. He calls us to give up our lives for someone else sake – to abandon our desires and put your child’s interests first. Yet, according to His perfect design, it is through this selflessness that we can become truly fulfilled.”

Proverbs 22:6.says: “Direct your children on the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” It every parent did that, man would presumably be free.

Conclusion

“When freedom does not have a purpose, when it does not wish to know anything about the rule of laws engraved in the hearts of men and women, when it does not listen to the voice of conscience, it turns against humanity and society” (Pope John Paul II). . .

“The Bible is clear that those who fail to heed the Lord’s discipline – whether nations, cities, or individuals – suffer devastating consequences. (Charles Stanley)

“A family is a place where principles are hammered and honed on the anvil of everyday living.” Charles R. Swindoll

Whether it be a normal family, a neighborhood, a society, a state, a country, or the world – to function, a “family” must learn to both “be good” and “forgive” on another. Only through a proper understanding, of the cross, can we ever really grasp what this means.

Christ commanded us in John 15:9-11: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. In saying this, Jesus also told us: “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”. . .”and that if we do, we will be filled with Jesus’s overflowing joy!” . . No wonder much of society is miserable today.

Elie Wiesel once said: “The opposite of love is not hate. It’s indifference”.

For the sake of freedom, societies cannot let indifference prevent themselves from daily being obedient to God’s teachings. Christians must overcome indifference, or it will sabotage us from being the city on the hill, that is not hidden. Spiritual hearts need to be set right, so “brick house builders” can build / rebuild families, societies, nations, and world (etc.) right.

And the first place we start is the children.

Jesus said: “With man, this is impossible. But with God, all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26ks

Thanks for reading this goodness and forgiveness article.

God And I Always Greater Than OCD article

God And I Always Greater Than OCD article

 

Freedom over OCD requires proper identification and reaction to perceived danger. OCD’s false alarms and Satan’s trickery together attempt to destroy us, like Goliath almost did to Israel, until David and God intervened. Thank God, in our personal bouts against giants, we also have a sling (God’s Word) and stones (cognitive-behavior therapy, Mindfulness) and most importantly, an unconditional, loving Father who “will never fail nor forsake us”, victoriously fighting our battles.

Danger: people desperately seek to be safe from harm. That is why God equipped man with fear, to protect us from danger. Unfortunately, the OCD mind excessively warns us of trouble; thus, we constantly become engaged in fight-or-flight struggles against imaginary Goliaths. “Will my house burn down while I’m on vacation?” “Will my car crash into a tree, killing my family because of a flat tire?” “Or will I lose my job today, and become penniless and homeless in three months?” Exaggerated worst case scenarios like these may seem far-fetched to normal people, but are mortal threats in the eyes of the OCD person. I know this because I have the disorder.

Reflecting upon my OCD experiences, I used to be terrified to go to public places like churches, restaurants, and movie theaters in fear of blurting out the n-word after seeing a black person. Today, I still face those obsessions, but my perceptions of them have radically changed. Years of confronting fears and surrendering outcomes to God has conditioned my mind to be less fearful of the obsession. Now I view the n-word obsession as just a thought which when confronted, may cause some anxiety but is harmless. Same thing with intrusive images of seeing a girl getting raped when around women, impulses to cut my testicle with a razor blade when naked, etc. The medication Anafranil, cognitive-behavior therapy, Dr. Swartz Brainlock strategies, my better understanding of God’s grace and the tricks of the devil, my OCD research, and learning to use scriptures to counter obsessions, have all been beneficial in reducing the frequency and intensity of my daily obsessions; in particular, checking keys, door locks, stove burners, efficiency at work, and counting money in wallet. Scrupulosity, constantly calling people on telephone, checking alarm clock times, making sure my paycheck is still in wallet, and basketball shoes still being in athletic bag, and fearing being responsible for mistakes have all also improved, but still need work. Even though I struggle many days with OCD, I feel content because of my relationship with Christ.

The World Health Organization ranks “OCD as one of the top ten most disabling illness in the world in terms of income and quality of life”. Don’t tell that to these famous people with OCD: Howard Hughes, Donald Trump, Justin Timberlake, Albert Einstein, Michelangelo, Penelope Cruz, and David Beckham. There’s no rule that says you cannot live profitable lives because you have a mental illness. Meditate upon these Dale Carnegie words: “You can conquer almost any fear if you will only make up your mind to do so. For remember, fear does not exist anywhere except in the mind.”

Moving forward in life happens as we learn not to listen to the fears and doubts of OCD. Dorothy Thompson once said, “Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live.” Unfortunately, daily dealings with the struggles, frustrations, and anxieties of OCD can be a very burdening cross to bear. However, Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. . . For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

The remainder of this article discusses Christian and psychological concepts and coping strategies which has helped me in my pursuits toward overcoming my OCD. I strongly believe if you take the time to study them, you can also find them beneficial too. The itinerary includes the following:

• Introduction: Understanding Each Step of the OCD cycle
• Using Scriptures to Change faulty statements and negative evaluations of thoughts which will help in neutralizing anxiety of OCD
• Understanding The Role The Devil Has On our OCD and how to combat it
• Using Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz’s Brainlock strategy to combat OCD
• Using cognitive behavior therapy (ERP) to combat OCD
• Conclusion

A. Understanding Each Step of the OCD cycle

To understand how to overcome OCD, you must first have a proper understanding of the illness. From the book, Anxiety Free: Unravel Your Fears Before They Unravel You, here’s a step-by-step look on the nature of OCD:

• Triggers: Anything our five senses detect (events or stimuli) which awakens our OCD monster as we begin to shift attention toward and eventually obsess over. Leaving your apartment could be a trigger that causes our OCD to wonder if the door is unlocked or if a stove burner was left on.

• Odd thought or images: After leaving the apartment, the OCD starts thinking thoughts you dislike: “What if someone comes into my house, steals my possessions, and sets my living room on fire, Then I will have no place to live.”

• Negative evaluation of thoughts: As your mind imagines your apartment being burnt down after coming home from work, you begin to label the situation as being realistic, dangerous, shameful, irresponsible, and irrevocable. The OCD brain says: “I am in grave danger. If I don’t do something, my world will end!” Labeling events as dangerous stirs up the OCD monster as your anxiety increases.

• Self-monitoring: Anxiety causes the OCD mind to become hyper-vigilant as the fear of the obsession coming true consumes the brain. Every thought, action, or stimuli change becomes watched very closely.

• Demand for certainty: The OCD brain has to be 100 % sure that the house won’t burn down. Nothing short of perfection will suffice. Thinking this faulty belief intensely increases the anxiety of the obsessions.

• Thought-action fusion: Because I have this thought (that my house will burn down), it automatically means, in the perception of the OCD mind, that it will happen. Thought-action fusion, just like demand for certainty, fuels the anxiety of the obsessions.

• Thought suppression: You try to force yourself not to think of the fear “that you may have no possessions or places to live because you may have left the house unlocked and the stove on”. Unfortunately, fighting obsessions only makes them stronger and more anxiety-producing.

• I’ve lost control: All this anxiety makes your mind feel like you are losing control of the situation.

• Compulsions: The OCD mind performs some ritual in hopes of neutralizing the anxiety which continues to worsen as your OCD mind is constantly telling you, you are losing control. So you repeatedly check to see if the door is locked and if the stove is on, until you have a felt sense of completion.

• Felt sense of completion: You tell yourself, “I can quit doing the checking because I feel I have done it enough.” In time, many experiences of doing the compulsion and feeling a sense of relief afterwards, you get hooked on the addiction of doing that particular ritual “so many times” in order to feel relief from the obsession.

• Avoidance of triggers: “Compulsions are a lousy solution to the problem of having obsessions” (Fred Penzel). This is so because unless the compulsion habit is broken, no complete relief of the anxiety happens. As a result, you may think: “I won’t have these thoughts if I simply don’t leave my apartment.” So many people choose to avoid situations, places, objects, people, or events so they don’t have to experience the anxiety again. OCD then becomes a tyrant that needs to be over-throwned.

(Source: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/anxiety-files/200906/how-do-obsessive-compulsive-people-think, Robert L. Leahy, Ph.D)

Changing fautly beliefs using the scriptures

“Habit and routine have an unbelievable power to destroy” (Henri De Lubac). We don’t have to remain tyrannized, though: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). If we use scriptures to alter the negative evaluations we give to the obsessions we daily experience, we can neutralize anxiety that accompanies obsessions, as well as telling our brain’s false alarms that we are not in danger because of our Heavenly Father. Convincing our mind that everything is safe is like using a fire extinguisher on a fire: it eventually dies out. This is how we do it.

Example

Trigger: touch doorknob of public bathroom without toilet paper.

Demand for certainty faulty belief: “For sure, I’ll get a horrible disease and die from it.”

Counter with Realistic Appraisal: “I can remain calm in the face of uncertainty. Since I can’t control everything, why try? By trying to control everything, I only make my OCD worse. I don’t want to die, but the fact is, if I do lose my life from the disease, I will go to heaven and I will suffer no more.” Revelation 1:4 says: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” So if my obsession comes true, that’s okay.”

In this example, we used Revelation 1:4 to counter our demand for certainty and our negative evaluations of scary obsession. When we fully embrace scriptures, we are basically telling the OCD “I am not in danger” as we think about fears like contamination As we surrender the obsession to Christ, and believe we are safe because of scriptural truths, we are basically telling our OCD signal that you are just a false alarm that may produce anxiety but is harmless in nature.
Recognizing how the devil influences our obsessions

Believing the devil’s lies imprisons us. Satan uses temptation and deception to lure us into sin, and once we transgress, he makes accusations of us being “dirty sinners” as he tries to fool us into “God will reject me and not forgive me of my sins”. By creating distance between us and God, we become more vulnerable to Satan and OCD as our faith in God’s deliverance and goodness loses strength. Since the birth of sin, man has always experienced awkwardness in approaching God after after sinning. The devil knows this and uses spiritual warfare to increase this clumsiness.

Greatbiblestudy.com defines OCD as “demonic torment brought on by a person’s bondage to shame and fear”. When we obsess about shameful and embarrassing things we have done in the past, our compulsions get stronger.. This is because man is spiritually and physically intertwined. I read that “tackling spiritual issues like trusting Christ for your faith, perfection, and forgiveness can positively change how your OCD brain functions”. So, if you haven’t accepted Christ as your Savior, please log on to inpursuitoffreedomministries.com/Salvation.htm.

“The enemy loves to put thoughts into the believer’s minds. These thoughts produce strongholds, which produce feelings, which lands you into bondage” (Greatbiblestudy.com). Those who let their sin-producing shame and fear beat them up spiritually and emotionally, while choosing not to forgive themselves, become vulnerable to tormenting spirits. The devil likes to plant intrusive thoughts: “If I commit this hideous obsession, it will prove to all, including God, I am no good.” I know this from personal experience.

To combat these devilish tricks, root yourselves in God’s unconditional love, build a heart-filled understanding of God’s grace, put on the armor of God, and counter Satan lies with scriptural truths like Jesus did in Matthew 4. Once we become finally able to unwaveringly embrace “nothing can separate us from God’s love” and that God is not an “angry, tyrant taskmaster”, in spite of our sinful addictions and tricks of the devil, we will become less distracted in learning “God will never give us a temptation greater than what we can withstand though Him (1 Corinthians 10:13). In addition, understanding His grace better also opens the door towards more and more of His complete joy, peace, and contentment.

Mindfulness – 4 Steps by Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz

In 1996,Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz wrote a book Brain Lock, detailing a four-step method to combat OCD, helping “tens of thousands of people with OCD.” Understanding what obsessions and compulsions really are helps you to learn how to manage the anxiety and fear of OCD, making it easier for you to respond to obsessions and compulsions.

Step 1: Relabel: Understand the problem as a faulty pattern in the brain.

When your brain has obsessions and compulsions, label them as such. For example, instead of fearfully saying, “I just saw my sister’s child naked, and I may sexually touch him.”, say instead, “I just saw my sister’s child naked, and I am having an obsession that I may sexually touch him.” When you fear contamination and you feel a compulsive urge to wash your hands several times, tell your mind, “I’m having a compulsive urge to perform the compulsion of washing my hands.” Saying “this thought is an obsession, this thought is a compulsion”, doesn’t make the obsessions and compulsions vanish, but aids the OCD brain to better understand that these feelings are false alarms.

Step 2: Reattribute: Separate the pattern of having obsessions and compulsions from any sense of guilt.

Simultaneously, as you relabel obsessions and compulsions (step 1), do step 2, reattribute. When you see a pretty girl and have a violent obsession enter your mind, tell OCD, “I am not a rapist, my thought is just an obsession, caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. It’s not my fault, it’s my OCD.” Doing this, stated in The OCD Workbook (co-authors, Bruce H. Hyman, PHD and Cherry Pedrick, RN), recognizes that the “uncomfortable catastrophic ideas, pervasive doubts, and compulsive urges” which describe OCD triggering events, are not derived from an objective assessment of a situation by your brain, but rather originate exclusively from the presence of OCD – a medical condition. According to reattribute, “you are not a bad person because you have the thoughts, it’s the fault of your OCD”.

Discussing biological issues of the OCD brain reinforces reattribute. When our senses detects life changes, the brain’s thalamus processes the data and then labels it as either important and unimportant while predicting related, future situations as being malignant or benign. Receiving messages in the form of neurotransmitters like serotonin, the caudate nucleus filters the thalamus-sent information, allowing information depicting “danger” pass through to the orbital cortex, while impeding the passage of “nonthreatening” messages. The orbital cortex, the brain area where thoughts and emotions unite, is also an initial warning system which tells other parts of the brain that “something is wrong”, that “fight or flight” needs to be activated. Low serotonin levels, plus abnormalities in the thalamus, caudate nucleus, orbital cortex, etc., often leads to thalamus problems in producing accurate information and caudate nucleus failures in blocking the passage of benign messages, which makes the orbital cortex overactive. This causes the orbital cortex to produce intense fear and false danger alarms to the mind. The cingulate gyrus, which helps the mind to shift from one thought and behavior to another, also becomes overexcited, causing the OCD brain to get stuck on obsessions and compulsions. As the cingulate gyrus races, signals telling other brain areas “something bad will happen if you stop doing the compulsion” is released. So when you have bad obsessions and struggle with compulsions, its not your fault, its your OCD!

Step 3: Refocus: Focus on actions that replace the undesired behavior

Refocus, by far the most difficult chore, is also done concurrently with relabel and reattribute. When you refocus, you focus your attention do other activities to distract the OCD mind, when tempted to do compulsions. The idea is to do what the cingular gyrus struggles to do when having compulsive urges: switch to new thoughts and behaviors.

We need to repeatedly refocus successfully to condition and train our mind over time to switch behaviors and thoughts. Take a walk, listen to music, read a book, play XBOX, have a conversation with a friend. When you refocus, your OCD will scream like a baby, demanding for attention. During these times, you must be the parents who ignores the tantrum; in time, the “OCD baby” will figure out that “screaming” will do no good, and thus quiet down. Dr. Schwartz recommends a minimum “15 minute rule” for postponing compulsions. The more effective you are at refocus, the less intense future compulsions will be.

Step 4: Revalue: Move on with Life

Doing previous steps successfully, makes revalue natural to do. Revalue means saying to your obsession: “I am having this OCD thought. I am not going to take it face value. I moving on with life. It is just a thought. It is not significant in itself.”

Cognitive-Behavior Therapy – Exposure And Response Prevention (ERP)

ERP involves exposing yourself to OCD fears and then voluntarily forcing yourself not to commit the compulsion. When this happens, eventually the obsession dies out and becomes extinct. It is based upon the fact, that the human body, when experiencing fear, simultaneously releases calming agents which attempt to calm the body down as the “fight or flight” stirs it up. When our brain no longer perceives itself being in danger, we become calm as calmness overpower fearfulness, which happens as our brain gets bored with the fear.

The goal of ERP is habituation and ultimately, extinction. Just like how we no longer feel the chill of cold water in a swimming pool, the OCD mind gets used to OCD-producing situation as our brain’s interpretation of the obsession changes, which occurs after repeated, prolonged, exposures to the obsession without performing compulsions.

Example: You want to enter a public bathroom but are afraid of contamination.

Obsession:“It is extremely dangerous to touch this doorknob.”

Compulsion: Don’t enter the bathroom door.

Choosing to do the compulsion (stay outside bathroom) makes the compulsive urge to not touch the doorknob stronger; thus, your OCD worsens. However, if you repeatedly choose not to do compulsion (you instead decide to confront your fear and touch the doorknob and walk inside), habituation eventually happens.The brain then reappraises and reinterpret the obsession (“It is extremely dangerous to touch the doorknob”) and replaces it with (“Nothing terrible will happen if I touch the doorknob – I can take a risk”). As you repeatedly continue to avoid the compulsion, the obsessions increasingly weaken until it hopelessly dies out.

Conclusion

OCD is about trust. You face a situation and an obsession pops in your head. “You are in danger”, the illness falsely says. What are you going to do?

For example: “You see a black man and have the impulse to scream out the “n-word”. You don’t want to do it, but though-action fusion says, “because I’m thinking it, I will say it!” You then become afraid that if you say it, he will beat me up; everyone who hears it will reject me. They will burn my house down, and God will reject me, not love me, and decide not to help me with my future problems. It will show I am no good!” Demand for certainty only intensifies the feelings of losing control, and you then become tempted to avoid public places where African Americans might hang out. How will you respond?

Martin Luther once said, “There are two, and only two, types of faith: the one from the fact I trust someone . . . the other from the fact that I acknowledge a thing to be true.” When obsessions enter my mind, I run to God. I put on the armor of God. Even though I often falter in trusting the Truth, I am increasingly learning that “God is not an abusive father who waits to condemn and punish”; but instead, “He is my Heavenly Father that always compassionately welcomes every Prodigal Son”; a God “who will never leave nor forsake His children.” Because He always forgives and considers us precious in His eyes, we have infinite reasons to be completely assured that promises like 1 Corinthians 10:13Jeremiah 29:11-13Romans 8:35-39, and Romans 8:28 can be trusted, in spite of all the devil’s lies and all the OCD false alarms our mind hears everyday!

Lies: we must not listen to lies! “Fear is born of Satan, and if we only take time to think we would see that everything Satan says is founded upon a falsehood” (A.B. Simpson). The obsessions and false alarms our mind fears, is false credibility is based upon a malfunctioning brain, tyrannized by a chemical imbalance of serotonin. We must open our eyes and have the courage to step out into the unknown and pursue our God-directed dreams!

Dan Rather once said, “Courage is being afraid, but going on anyhow.” In Samuel 17, a lowly shepherd boy David, even after being told by King Saul and Goliath he would lose, exhibited the courage to trust in His God to face the giant Goliath. Before they fought, when Goliath mocked David, David boldly replied: “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies – the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the Lord will give the conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!” (1 Samuel 17:45-47). Moments later, a stone sank in Goliath’s head, and the former giant fell to the ground!

We are David and OCD is Goliath. People may not believe you can overcome your illness, “but with God, all things are possible.” Jesus said in Matthew 17-20, “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’, and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” We must get ready for there are some mountains to be moved and some giants to be slaughtered.

Just like God used David to show Israel “there is a God” and that “God will rescue His people” by defeating Goliath, God created us with OCD to show the world that underdogs through God can overcome giants, and that “God will never fail nor forsake His people.” Everyone has a giant they must face. Our job is to reveal the God they desperately need.

Your struggles are not in vain: “God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12). Don’t give up! Romans 8:18 says “What we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later!”

“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you” (Deuteronomy 31:6). So be like David and pick up those stones (ERP, Mindfulness) and your sling (the scriptures) and know unwaveringly that God will be close as He will empower you to defeat your OCD.. Tell the enemy with conviction: “I can do all things through Christ which strengthened me” (Philippians 4:13).

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/anxiety-files/200906/how-do-obsessive-compulsive-people-think

http://www.anxietycoach.com/overcome-ocd.html

http://www.hope4ocd.com/foursteps.php

http://anxieties.com/office.php

http://www.wsps.info/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=82:ten-things-you-need-to-know-to-overcome-ocd&catid=0:

http://www.net-burst.net/guilty/scrupulosity.htm

http://www.flti.org/site/c.dnJHKLNnFoG/b.6178671/k.208D/Living_with_ObsessiveCompulsive_Disorder.htm

http://www.anxietyandstress.com/dealingwithocd.html

http://www.cherrypedrick.com/spirituality.html

http://www.ocdsite.com/10-strategies-for-coping-with-ocd/

http://www.afocd.org/callners-spirit-pages/inspirational-quotes

http://www.greatbiblestudy.com/obsessive_compulsive_disorder_ocd.php

http://www.benotconformed.org/thoughts.htm

http://www.greatbiblestudy.com/inner_healing.php

http://www.hopeforlifeministry.com/stress/overcome.html

http://www.familylife.com/articles/topics/life-issues/challenges/mental-and-emotional-issues/living-with-obsessive-compulsive-disorder

http://voices.yahoo.com/living-obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd-261952.html?cat=72

http://www.greatbiblestudy.com/spiritual_warfare_vs_bondage.php

http://therapyinmanhattan.com/blog/entry/tools-for-coping-with-ocd

The OCD Workbook: Second Edition, Your Guide To Breaking Free From Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Bruce M. Hyman, PHD and Cherry Pedrick, RN.

The Doubting Disease: Help for Scrupulosity and Religious Compulsions

God, Please Help Me Overcome My OCD article

God, Please Help Me Overcome My OCD

 

Finding freedom from our OCD involves facing fears, accepting obsessions, surrendering our anxieties to God, believing in the truth, and finally, postponing ritualizing thoughts. If we courageously do all this, we can experience more and more victories from this illness – if we only habitually choose to stay connected to the Vine.

“A mind that is afraid withers away; it cannot function properly” (Jiddu Krishnamurti). The OCD mind creates for those with the disorder a never-ending battle one shouldn’t have to face: a struggle to remain unafraid, stable, and functional, amidst the brain’s trouble to distinguish between legitimate and imagined fear. During this conflict, our OCD mind is constantly vigilant; always believing the world around it is dangerous. Consequently, it uses compulsions to prevent bad obsessions from hurting us. Thus, we constantly check to see if the stove is off, we repeatedly wash our hands in fear of germs, we endlessly count money in wallet, and we still many times get bogged down in details. In short, our tendency to both obsess and ritualize creates for us hurdles we must overcome to be free. The worst thing is that we often know the truth, but are afraid to accept it.

OCD can put shackles upon us; however, it doesn’t have to keep us imprisoned. 2 Timothy 1:7 says: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and of a sound mind.” To experience freedom from OCD, we must continuously abide in Christ. When we abide, or stay connected to the Vine (John 15),” we can do all things through Him” (Philippians 4:13). With “His mighty power at work within us, He is able to accomplish infinitely more than we can ever dare to ask or hope” (Ephesians 3:20). Unfortunately, when disjoined from the Vine, “we can do nothing” (John 15:5). To experience power to overcome OCD, we must continually decide to stay connected to the Vine.

“Habit is overcome by habit” (Desiderius Erasmus). To break the OCD habit, we must first start the abiding in Christ habit. Meanwhile, as we choose to abide, we must also habitually learn to decide with conviction to do five other things every time we start to obsess and ritualize. We through the Vine must condition ourselves to: 1) face our fears head on; 2) accept our obsessions; 3) surrender our anxieties to God; 4) believe in the truth; and 5) postpone thoughts of ritualizing as long as possible. These steps are helping me to experience freedom from my OCD illness.

1. Face our Fears Head On

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.” To overcome any obsession, you must with courage and conviction decide not to avoid the situations and circumstances that fuel your obsessions. Confronting fears dwarves your giants; avoiding fear makes them seem more menacing. To neutralize the underlying fears of your obsessions, you must through the Vine face them head on. As Robert Frost once said, “The best way out is always through.”

Many times one single step in faith away from fear can propel you beyond an obsession. This increasingly continues to happen to me when I experience checking obsessions like those of door locks, keys in pocket, money in wallet, stove burner being on or not, etc. When I start to ritualize during obsessions like those, I am finding out that when I am able to immediately stop thinking about the obsession and then start walking away from the scene of the obsession, I often am to able to “walk away from the obsession” before my illness can take control of my mind again. This doesn’t always work for me; but it does much of the time. In hopes of being able to walk away from our obsessions, we must face the fear and choose to move forward into life.

2. Accept Your Obsessions

As we work to muster the courage to confront our fears, what should we do in the meantime when our OCD starts the obsessing process? The answer is to accept our obsessions – not to fight them.

Trying to forcefully rid our OCD minds of obsessions is the worst thing we can do. This is so because fighting obsessions only creates more anxiety and fear in us which causes us to obsess more intensely. Rather than telling ourselves “I must stop thinking about these obsessions”, we instead with conviction must tell our minds “It is okay that these thoughts entered my brain.” In addition to accepting the fact we are obsessing, we should also agree to the possibility that what we fear may actually happen. If we do both, we will gradually become less vigilant and fearful of the situation, eliminating more and more of the bite of the obsession until it disappears.

3. Surrendering Our Anxieties to Christ

Accepting obsessions can be extremely difficult when the fear of misfortune is enormous. Thus, we must put our frailties in the hands of the God who won’t let us down. Surrendering our fears means letting Him have control of you and the situation and trusting He will do what is best. Surrendering our fears to Christ is the staple point of us accepting our fears.

In Philippians 4:6-7, it says “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts as you live in Christ Jesus.” If we firmly accept our obsessions by confidently surrendering our fears to Christ, His peace will keep us away from the anxiety that fuels our obsessions. “Fix your thoughts on Christ” in faith and we will truly experience “perfect peace” (Isaiah 26:3).

4. Believe in the Truth.

To have the faith to surrender, we must first believe in the truth. We have obsessions because we are afraid; the reason why we have fear is because we are ignorant of the truth. If we expose lies with the truth, fear will run away.

Below are three scriptural truths we can lean upon when doubt leads to fear. If we believe in these and other promises of God, the Truth will enable us to surrender; and complete surrender will empower us to accept obsessions as we confront what makes us scared. When we can do that, we can find victory from OCD. Lean upon these scriptural truths when fear discourages you to surrender:

Deuteronomy 31:6 => ”Do not be afraid of them! The Lord your God will go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor forsake you”.

Romans 8:28 => “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them”.

1 Corinthians 10:13 => “But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong you can’t stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show a way out so that you will not give in to it”.

5. Postpone Ritualizing Thoughts

In the meantime, as we work to confront our fears, accept our obsessions, surrender to Christ, and believe in the truth, obsessions will inevitably continue to enter the mind. Again, when this happens, don’t fight the obsessions. “Choose to pay attention” to those temptations to ritualize; however, not now but later. Mentally choose to postpone thinking about the obsession for a certain period of time; and “when that time arrives, postpone again”. The idea is to keep postponing the urge to obsess until the obsession dies out – and or when we are firmly able to surrender the fear to Christ.

“Let yourself experience the obsession. But not right now.” That is the concept behind postponing. Successful experiences of postponing gradually builds in us an increasing capacity to endure longer and longer periods of more intensified obsessions. In essence, learning to postpone our urges to ritualize teaches our minds not to obsess. “Refuse to act on an obsession, and it will die of inaction” (Recovery, Inc.).

Conclusion

Antoine De Saint-Exupery once said, “What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step”. To find freedom in spite of OCD, we must choose to stride toward God and decide to stay connected to the Vine. If we start this habit, we will experience Christ’s power to do all things, to overcome all fears, to find peace amidst our obsessions. In the meantime, as we face obsession after obsession, we also need to take five more steps. We need to confront what we fear, to accept our obsessions, to surrender our fears to Christ, to believe in the truth, and then finally, to postpone thinking of our thoughts to ritualize. If we only have the courage to abide and take these five steps, we will find victory from this illness in unanticipated hours.

Thanks for reading this OCD article.

Chasing Dreams Article

Chasing Your Dreams Amidst Your Personal Nightmares article

 

Dreams can be achieved when people overcome their strongholds. In life, we all experience a constant battle between our faith in God and the fears that constantly attempt to tyrannize our thoughts and actions. Disappointments can undermine hope and create despair as we feverishly search for light in this dark and dreary world. Similar to soldiers in warfare, courage is needed to both boldly and calmly wait to experience God’s power in response to these potentially heartbreaking obstacles. We can all experience this courage since “God is the brave man’s hope.”

 

God places dreams in the souls of every human. Behind these fantasies may be the desire to succeed, to overcome, or most importantly, to improve human living. Whether it may involve a desire to attain and keep a challenging job, to find the right mate after previous broken relationships, to have a child reach their full potential, to maintain financial stability against the odds, to persevere another day over cancer, or to find inner peace amidst personal limitations, aspirations often inspire individual actions toward some goal. The greatest dream is to help enable those seeking freedom to find both a living and an eternal hope from God. He does this by enabling us to attain all of the smaller dreams which comprises the specific purpose for each of our lives.

 

When chasing dreams, we often experience disappointments when the outcomes of our attempts toward achieving goals don’t meet our expectations. Many times, during these situations, we feel pain, “an unpleasant sensation” resulting from the consequences of bad life events. During these fear-producing situations where we actually experience or expect the future feelings of pain to occur, we respond by the “fight or flight” reflex. In too many incidences, people have conditioned themselves to “flight” rather than to “fight” when facing fear and pain. This action is not necessarily bad, because many times the appropriate response is to “run and hide”. However, there are certain circumstances when we apply this behavior when we should “fight” the event, rather than always “running away from our problems”. Once learned, this “flight” behavior is hard to change. However, in order to reach personal purposes, this issue needs to be addressed by “dream-chasers”.

 

Strongholds are fears that put human minds into bondage, as it controls the way people think, act, or feel. Because of strongholds, many individuals fail to chase their God-given dreams. A single, divorced mother of two chooses not to start or go further in a relationship because of the rejected and abusive past caused by her previous husbands. A 23-year male adult who longs for a better job decides not to since he was repeatedly told as a child that he was incompetent. A middle-aged drug addict who desires to break the habit but cannot because he feels he cannot endure the pain involved with his recent daughter’s loss to cancer. Or a struggling, insecure Christian who habitually expects negative consequences from God because of her fear of being condemned, even though she knows of God’s grace. Another example entails “a God-chosen leader” who isn’t because of his knowledge of his disability.  These individuals are in bondage, as their personal strongholds dictate their future, similar to how a bully has control over those he bullies.

 

Strongholds can also hold back those dreamers who choose to “fight” as they strive to achieve their aspirations. “Chasing dreams” involves a moment-by-moment, life-long journey where an individuals starts at one position and gradually travels toward the next by properly reacting to situations and obstacles they face in the struggle called life. Perceived negative potential consequences of a situation can create intense anxiety in a person as fear overshadows the possibilities of something positive happening. This anxiety often causes us to overestimate the power of the obstacles we face in life as we underestimate the abilities that God has given to us. Our obstacles become “giants” in response to the “dwarves” we perceive ourselves as. The net result is that these “giants” overpower us “dwarves” as the fear of failure prevents us from feeling we are in control of the situations we face. Through faith in God’s unlimited capabilities, humans can defeat these “imaginary giants”.

 

Strongholds are created by Satan to keep us dreamers from achieving the dreams that God has given to us. All humans are engaged in a war, a fight between who is going to be in charge of each of our lives: God or Satan. It is also a battle in our minds between faith and fear or hope and hopelessness. When God’s dreams for our lives get achieved, it is hurtful in Satan’s attempt toward world domination. Consequently, the devil works diligently, strategically, and deceitfully to create strongholds in each of our minds. These strongholds can only be conquered through the power of Christ.

 

According to Georges Clemenceau, “War is a series of catastrophes that results in a victory.” In each of our minds, when facing troublesome, painful disappointments, the perception of  these “catastrophes” battle our human will for control. During each of these situations, one of two combatants is going to be victorious. If our strongholds continuously win, the chances of our God-given dreams being achieved become very slim. If we are victorious, we increasingly mature as we strive toward the next challenge.

 

When we lose a battle versus our strongholds, it doesn’t mean that we are completely defeated. Albert Einstein was “predicted to be a failure.” Thomas Edison’s childhood teacher once told him “he was too stupid to learn anything.”  Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. Famous Pablo Picasso, at age ten, stopped attending school as he was hardly able to read or write. Abraham Lincoln, who during his life struggled with bipolar disorder, entered the Black Hawk War as a captain and left as a private. According to his voice teacher, “the famous tenor Caruso could not sing at all.” A newspaper editor once fired Walt Disney because “he lacked good ideas”. These successful “dream-seekers” refused to be controlled by their strongholds as they learned from their failures.  According to B.C. Forbes, “History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats.” People can overcome adversity if they keep on trying after being defeated by their strongholds. As Norman Vincent Peale once stated, “Never talk defeat. Use words like hope, belief, faith, victory.” In Proverbs 23:7, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he . . .” When individuals view situations positively, good thinks are more apt to happen; negative thoughts encourage the presence of bad life events. In his book “Your Best Life Now”, Joel Osteen reinforces this concept: “If you dwell on positive thoughts, your life will move in that direction; if you continually think negative thoughts, you will live a negative life. If you expect defeat, failure, or mediocrity, your subconscious mind will make sure that you lose, fail, or sabotage every attempt to push above average.” Perceptions have a major influence upon the success or failure in achieving one’s dreams.  Hope is required to overcome strongholds. It is the “belief that positive outcomes will occur regardless of how negative the situation”. Without hope, according to Erich Fromm, “the heart would break”. Unfortunately, after facing so many life defeats, many are afraid to have hope, in fear they must again endure the pain involved with experiencing disappointments. To have hope, one must have faith. According to Charles Stanley, faith is the “assured reliance on God: a confident dependence on the character, ability, strength, and truth of God and his promises.” It is one thing to believe a bridge is stable enough to hold you. It’s another to trust it enough to cross it. To keep on trying when faith is struggling, courage is demanded.

 

Anais Nin once stated, “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” Courage can be defined as the capacity to “overcome danger, misfortune, and fear” as we confront the strongholds that scare us. According to someone, “courage is not the absence of fear, but the mastery of it.” In our own strength, we have insufficient power to “master” the strongholds we face. But in God’s power, we can.

 

In Deuteronomy 31:6, it tells us to “be strong and courageous” and “not to be afraid of them! For “the Lord your God will go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor forsake you.” According to Psalms 33:20, “We depend on the Lord alone to save us. Only He can help us, protecting us like a shield.” Because of this, “our hearts are filled with joy” as we are helped by Him (Psalms 28:7)..Psalms 34:17 reinforces this point: “The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles.”

 

Dreams can be achieved when we abide in the spirit. In John 15:5, it talks about how Jesus is the “Vine” and we are the “branches”: “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” Individuals who “remain in Jesus” have been given the power to achieve their God-given aspirations and to conquer their fears. According to Psalms 60:12, “With God’s help we will do mighty things, for he will trample down our foes.”

 

When we abide in the spirit, we receive God’s power to overcome our strongholds. When we don’t, we are vulnerable to them as we fight them in our own strength. To abide in the spirit, we must have fellowship with God. This requires communication with and faith in God. Reconciliation with Him after sinning is also demanded. Unfortunately, in our imperfect lives, we often disconnect ourselves from God’s power.

 

Ruth Gordon once said, “Courage is very important. Like a muscle, it is strengthened by use.” Similar to how a sergeant molds his assembly into warriors, God slowly uses life struggles to train us into competent, talented, purpose-achieving, stronghold-overcoming soldiers of Christ. For this to occur, we must pass each test of increasing difficulty that He gives us.

 

As stated before, all humans face a war against their strongholds. Throughout these times, in this interdependent society, Christians should reciprocally encourage and motivate other Christians when possible. This is one of God’s purposes for each of us. As we do this, people should not become a “stumbling block” to another. The consequence of these actions creates distrust while worsening the predicaments people already currently experience from their strongholds. When this occurs, Christians should immediately seek and receive forgiveness from each other.

 

During the American Revolution, I strongly believe the reason why our founding fathers was able to secure American freedom was because they conquered their personal strongholds as well as England. This would not have happened without their reliance upon first God, and then upon each other during these stressful times. They supported each other as they strived to benefit rather than to hurt one another. Individual dreams were met which enabled the organization’s overall mission to be achieved: freedom. Because of them, Americans today have freedom.

 

In our fight against the devil, sinners can experience freedom from both sin and from their strongholds if each of our God-given dreams get achieved. Christ’s dream came true, giving all hope. If we let God fulfill our purposes, others can also have freedom: whether it be a living or eternal hope. Having our dreams come true requires having faith, courage, and hope in a life where events don’t make sense, where the consequences of failure is sometimes enormous, and when there is often no evidence that one’s personal dreams are even being remotely met in this unfair world. For this to occur, in this dark and dreary world, God’s light needs to be shined toward all those dreamers scared of their strongholds, so dreams can come true. This results from abiding in the spirit.

Tobias Smollett once said, “Who bravely dares must sometimes risk a fall.”  When we pursue God’s dream for our lives, we must realize that disappointments are common in occurrence, and that pain is inevitable. But, according to Thomas Paine, “These are the times that try men’s souls.”

 

Vincent Van Gogh once asked, “What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?” It would be a life of no freedom as dreams become unfulfilled. Condemnation would overcome grace as nobody would mention the name of Jesus.  Hope would succumb to fear because people would not experience God’s power. Finally, hate would have victory over compassion in humans since many would not understand what it means to forgive. For the sake of human freedom, Christians must “fight” (rather than “flight”) to keep their dreams alive.

 

 

 

 John Fitzgerald once said, “We should not let our fears hold us back from pursuing our hopes.”  Many times we never realize what we can endure until we try. ” Every time you fall, with failure, or drop with disappointment, get up stronger, so when the next obstacle comes, you’ll fight harder. (unknown)”  When we struggle and feel like give up, remember what Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”  Each time we face difficulties, we are confronted with a decision of what is going to be in control: faith in God or fear from our strongholds. As someone once said: “It’s time to stop being gripped by fear and to start gripping God.” God has given each of us a dream and the power to pursue it. It is our choice what we are going to do with it.

Thanks for reading Chasing dreams article.

God’s grace article

In Need of a Love Relationship

        Freedom requires sound decision making. Someone once said, “Freedom is a package deal – with it comes responsibilities and consequences.” In order to maintain freedom, one must be responsible to make good decisions. If they aren’t, their freedom is vulnerable to the consequences of their actions. Poor decision makers who reap misfortune are forced to hope their ensuing losses would remain manageable and that life would give them another chance to make the right decision that would hopefully restore their freedoms and fortunes. But if this opportunity arises and they do nothing or if they make another faulty decision, time and second chances may run dry as life puts that personal in a greater, more crippling predicament. A person may be born with freedom; however, if not careful, he may lose it all!

 

        This concept is true for all realms of humanity, but never more critical or most consequential than in the spiritual realm. When God first created Adam, He gave mankind the freedom to choose,

         Freedom requires sound decision making. What freedom people have is determined by the consequences

        Choices either expand or contract human freedom: good decisions expand, while bad ones contract. Someone once said, “Freedom is a package deal – with it comes responsibilities and consequences.” In our lives, the decisions we make affect not only ourselves, but also others. What freedom is determined by what Individual actions have not only the potential to influence current generations, but also future ones. Unfortunately, once decisions are made, they cannot be undone..

         The worst decision ever made was a sin by man’s first father, Adam. When he disobeyed God, humans lost their precious relationship with God. One of the consequences of this happening was that mankind lost the true happiness, peace, and security that result from having fellowship with God. The world that Adam once viewed as safe, peaceful, and controllable has almost infinitely been since perceived as scary, hurtful, angry, and uncontrollable by his offspring. Hearts have become more wicked and painful. Murder, thievery, adultery, and other forms of dishonesty seem to prevail over human decency. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Sin is not harmful because it is forbidden, but it is forbidden because it is hurtful.”

          In the eyes of God, we are all sinners. In varying degrees, we can all be considered as “child delinquents” as we fail to do what God’s laws require. Adam is the “bad father”, from whom we learned how to lie, steal, and hate from. Adam is the “bad father” that has caused great mental and physical turmoil to us. His actions have created inward securities in the way we perceive ourselves. Because of him, all humans experience a “hole in their hearts” as they try to overcome the pain and suffering that results from being alive. Because of him, we read about how “our brother” has committed suicide or hear about how “our sister” has been raped. As the Hungarians once stated: “Adam ate the apple, and our teeth still ache.”

          Every sin brings its punishment with it. (Romanian Proverb). According to the Bible, “the wages of sin of death.” Because of Adam, our father, all humans have been sentenced to the death penalty in hell after their life ends on Earth. That means, according to God (the “Judge”), “our eternal hope for us ‘child delinquents’ has been taken away.” The “Judge” views us as “filthy rags” in His sight. Our “hole in the heart” is enormous, needing a “heart doctor” to fix our “broken heart.”

         In this world, there lives a “heart doctor” who strongly desires to save us from our sins. He wants to adopt us “child delinquents” and make us “His” own. His name is Jesus Christ. In John 3:16-18, it says that “For God so loved the world that He gave us his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it. There is no judgment awaiting those who trust him. But those who do not trust have already been judged for not believing in the only Son of God”.

        Jesus, the “heart doctor”, has given mankind a pardon for all their sins. The “Judge” accepts this pardon under one condition: the person being evaluated by the “Judge” must believe that this gift exists and must choose to accept this offer given by “the heart doctor”. In short, “the heart doctor” desires to provide us a service to fix our broken hearts. If you do not let him perform this service, He cannot help you. Individual freedom contracts because of Adam’s choice to sin, but expands eternally because of  Jesus Christ’s decision to love us.

       Those saved by Christ have their relationship restored with God, regardless of how much us “child delinquents” decide to sin. However, negative consequences still remain for those believers who continue to do this. Sin prevents fellowship with God, a requirement to experience the peace, happiness, wisdom, and security we need from God in this turbulent world. When we do wrong, we must face the consequences that directly result from our poor decisions. In addition, our acts of wrongdoing can limit the future received rewards from heaven we obtain for good behavior. Finally, not having fellowship prevents the guidance other struggling believers need when facing life struggles.

       For any Christian, there is a constant battle between right and wrong. Bad habits conditioned by our father, Adam, fights against the newly developed habits resulting from our new adopted father, God. Jesus, our “heart doctor” realizes this as He perceives us as a “diamond in the rough” that needs to have our “child delinquent” imperfections to be molded into a precious, flawless diamond. Although not all of these imperfections will be removed until we go to heaven, “the heart doctor” simultaneously uses both discipline and love to perform this task. He desires to mold every “child delinquent” into an “improved, God-law-abiding citizen”.

      Unfortunately, the consequences of our unsound “Adam-influenced, bad father” decisions often makes our “sinful / child delinquent” nature prevail in this battle between right and wrong. When this occurs, we lose the peace, happiness, wisdom, and security that we temporarily had when we were in fellowship with the “heart doctor”. During these times, life struggles often seem to overwhelm us, creating a greater need for the “heart doctor” to fix the “hole in the hearts” we suddenly experience.

      There may be times where our Father in Heaven may seem upset and frustrated when we disobey Him. We may experience bad situations and believe He is angry and out to get us. However, our Father’s love is so unconditional and so great with compassion that when He does correct our behavior, he does it with patience and precision rather than with force and abruptness.

      When we decide to be like the “Prodigal Son” who turns His back against his father and lives like the “Adam-conditioned, delinquent child” in us, Our Father in Heaven is there patiently, lovingly, and compassionately waiting for us to return. Nothing can keep the Father from loving His adopted son. Nothing could ruin the relationship He had with His son. When we choose to come back to our Heavenly Father, He will embrace us similar to how the father did in the “Prodigal Son” story.

      In life, we make choices: some good, some bad. The worst decision to make is not to accept Christ as your Savior, to save you from the gates of hell. The consequences of other decisions made are also critical, but not as bad as the previous one. Those struggling with the “Adam-conditioned, child delinquent” behavior must be aware of their actions, but also realize that God is the “god of infinite chances”; a compassionate, loving God, waiting to give His adopted children another opportunity to learn from his mistakes. People who have a “hole in the heart” must continue to believe and seek the “heart doctor” who has the capacity to mend their “broken heart”.

      We all make mistakes, and must face the consequences of the errors we make in this world. However, while our Father works to make us better decision makers and more spiritually mature, life is also about love – God’s grace expressed toward all of His Prodigal Sons. Calvary gives the sinner a new identity: “a completely forgiven, fully pleasing, totally acceptable, absolutely complete” “creation of great worth” (inspired by Robert S McGee).  Unfortunately, only the Prodigal Sons who return to the Father find this indescrible compassion.

There is a consequence to every decision we make. Make the right choice: choose Calvary before it is too late!

Thanks for reading this God’s grace article.

Success Article

A Christian success article

 

God’s Ways Of Success

 

True success happens to the extent we glorify God and enjoy Him forever as we are faithful to God’s purposes for our life. Because of disobedience and distrusting God’s sufficiency, man got separated from God, was doomed to hell, lost complete intimacy and joy with God, and became failure-prone.  However, the purpose of Christ gave mankind another chance at experiencing freedom, and we can have it daily and be used by God to help others do the same if our brokenness  chooses God’s will over the world’s success system.

 

  1. Introduction

“Failure is the unforgivable sin. It must be avoided at all costs” – this is the belief that seemingly everyone has had, as it fuels motivation and insecurities toward a defined goal to succeed. Everyone has their own definitions of success, and now I am going to share you some versions.

Success trainer, Doug Firebaugh, defines success as “an ongoing realization and obtainment of worthy desired results, concerning actions, life, business, wealth, or a worthy ideal.” Success happens when someone “strings together a series of accomplishments that lead to a more significant life achievement.” So, according to Firebaugh, what fuels success and not failure is a “need for an ongoing accomplishment of ‘worthy desired results’”.

Analyzing those descriptions of success by Firebaugh, author Steven C. Roy, of What God Thinks When We Fail, gives us four questions we must ask ourselves when we evaluate what constitutes success in our life:

1)  What is a worthy goal?

2)  Who defines such a goal?

3)  Who evaluates my accomplishment and success?

4)  In whose eyes must I be a success in order to think of myself as successful?

In life, why is it that some individuals perceive themselves very successful when the majority may view them as failures, while other people feel like a strong failure when society views them successful?  According to Tony Campolo, “we consider ourselves to be successful if the most significant people in our lives deem us successful.”

Everyone has a “significant other”: someone we admire and spend enormous energies trying to live a successful life, hoping they will accept and view us competent. In essence, it is the person we try to impress and please the most – it is our number one evaluator of our success. For example, children can become approval addicts to win the acceptance of their parents, teenagers fall in to peer pressure with their peers, the opposite sex longs for those they are attracted to, students spend countless hours studying trying to win their teacher’s approval, employers try to impress customers and bosses, spouses try to make their mate satisfied and happy, and parents derive significance from being parents of successful children from other parents. It is not inherently wrong to have these people be our evaluators of success, unless for at least two reasons. First, we must not let negative perceptions of others rigidly define our self-worth, while disregarding God’s truth that “we are a special creation in God’s eyes”. Secondly, it’s okay to have secondary significant others as long as God is the primary person to please.

Many times we wrongly base our self-worth on human opinions and on our performance. If we succeed, we are elated, but since we are failure prone, we often take the threat of failing too seriously as we feel rejected, depressed, and defeated afterwards. Instead of embracing the fact that the God of the Universe loves His creation so much, proven on the cross, in spite of man’s flaws, we feel inclined to constantly prove our worth again and again through performance. Rejection from man can be crippling, so we become approval and performance addicts, trying feverishly to be perfect to avoid emotional defeats and “you are a failure” labelings from people.

Today’s world measures success by wealth, prestige, power, being beautiful and young, sports success, competition (if you win, you are successful, if you lose, you are no good), and relationships and family (if you don’t have a mate or perhaps a family, you may be frowned upon). If we are victors in these areas, you are successful, if not, you are not as good. Thankfully, God doesn’t judge man like that. He does evaluate performance when evaluating what heavenly rewards to give for service, but doesn’t correlate performance with self-worth. If you are a child of God for accepting Christ as your Savior, you will always be considered good in God’s eyes because of grace, all because Jesus paid the penalty for our sins. (Those who don’t accept that free gift of salvation are not a child of God and will go to hell. Please click on Plan of Salvation to read about how to become a Christian.)

The remainder of this article talks about God’s success system and what man has to do to become a success in God’s eyes.

 

  1. Introduce God’s success system. “The purpose of life is a life of purpose” (Robert Byrne).

God’s success system is based upon the fact that the Creator designed every human with a purpose to achieve, and that success can be defined as the “effectiveness that created object meets the needs  and achieves the goals defined by that purpose”.

Success involves being a child of God and realizing that God loves you unconditionally, regardless of performance, because of God’s grace proven on the cross. It involves having a rich relationship with God and glorifying God and enjoying Him forever as you are faithful to your life purpose.  According to Westminister Shorter Catechism, “man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever”.  See also 1 Corinthians 10:31.

God’s glory, according to Matt Heard, Life With A Capital L, is “God’s enoughness for all creation and for you and me.”

God seeks to enjoy His creation forever. Starting with Adam, the Perfect Provider has always been completely enough for mankind in all ways. Unfortunately, man doesn’t always realize that and thus becomes discontent or fearful, often leading to sin which produces unstable conditions for us to live in. God’s enoughness is still there, but our choices don’t always take advantage of it. For example, God had every need met in the garden of Eden and were able to enjoy God forever until our first parents listened to the lies of the serpent.

Sin became a barrier man created to hinder experiencing God’s provision fully and to enjoy God forever: “Ground is cursed. Hell became punishment. Separation from God and man. No intimacy with God. No dominion over earth.  Hate and selfishness destroyed human relationships. Shame and insecurity from the threat of making a mistake. Depression, suffering, hell on earth. Man habitually since struggles to obey God’s commands, secret to living a successful life.” God’s enoughness didn’t fail to remain perfect, but Love requires giving man free will, and man’s choices separated man from God, creating a sinful world whose consequences creates failure, suffering, and insecurities.

However, Love wanted to give His creation another chance so He purposed the life of Jesus Christ, the Savior of all mankind (to those who choose to accept Christ as their Savior). He died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins, so believers can be reunited with God and experience God’s glory (enoughness) in their lives again. The cross gives Christians, God’s promises of never forsaking them, even amidst adversity (Deut 31:6,9), and in spite of sins (“Nothing can separate me from God’s Love” – Romans 8:38). To the extent man obeys God’s commands and abides in Christ, does man experience God’s overflowing joy (John 15:9-11).  Freedom from hell and protection from life struggles and the opportunity to experience peace, love, and joy of intimacy in abiding communion with the Father are other benefits of the cross to believers. In addition, a chance to be a success  as God rewards impartially and fairly with heavenly rewards for being faithful in service to God’s purpose for your life  (which is to “engage daily with His purpose of restoring all things to reflect His glory”) can also happen if you become a Christian.

Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law”.  Imagine a world where an entire population become Christians and abide habitually in the spirit: an once ruthless, dying, insecure world full of people who behaved problematically now acts with the spirit of the Holy Spirit in them. Agape love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control controlling the actions and behaviors of society people, where there would be no wars and no hate among brethren, and peace, love, self-control, goodness, and kindness would be dominating behaviors of mankind. This happens when people get saved (Holy Spirit doesn’t reside in soul of nonbeliever) and then makes sound decisions, guided by the Spirit, including abiding in the spirit. At the extent man surrenders to God is the extent man fully experiences God’s perfect glory.

“The gospel of Jesus Christ offers the only antidote to the ills that plague our society” (Bill Bright and John Damoose). The Christian job is to make God know through our life purpose so the world can see and find God – so they will be saved. So man can enjoy God forever, which is the greatest joy.

Francis Chan said, “Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things that don’t really matter.” World has many pleasures, but all are temporary, passing, and not eternal. But what really matters is eternity. Remember this: “Your choices on earth have direct consequences on your life in eternity” (Bruce Wilkinson).

Mark 8:36-37 says: “What does it profit if you gain the entire world but forfeit your soul? And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?  Is anything worth more than your soul?” If you are not a Christian, going to hell is far more important than storing up temporary riches that will be gone when you leave this world. And for the believer, what you store up on this temporary earth is nothing compared to the far greater amount of riches you can obtain and enjoy forever in heaven.  Be faithfulness to God’s purpose every day.

III. Being Faithful Daily to God’s Purpose

 

‘The secret to success is constancy of purpose.’  Benjamin Disraeli

 

God wants to hire and compensate you for your services to your purpose. In a job setting, employee must be dependable if employer can rely upon employee to get the job done. The worker’s faithfulness to the job and employer is often evaluated by the boss to evaluate the employee’s performance.

“Faithfulness is the foundation for usefulness in God’s kingdom” (Rick Renner).  A “faithful” person by definition is “dedicated, dependable, accurate, true, conscientious, dutiful, careful, scrupulous, thorough, loyalty, full of faith or trust, unwavering, firmness, constancy in relations of God and man, unchangeable, to be reliable, steadfast.” God is perfect faithfulness to man, and man struggles to be faithful to God, to the extent his brokenness surrenders to God.

Charles Stanley once stated, “Brokenness is God’s requirement for maximum usefulness.” According to Nancy Leigh Demoss, “Brokenness is the shattering of my self-will – the absolute surrender of my will to the will of God. It is saying ‘Yes, Lord!’ – no resistance, no chaffing, no stubbornness – simply submitting to His direction and will in my life.” Without brokenness, man cannot be faithful or fruitful to God.

Here are two quotes to ponder:

“God will not accept a divided heart. He must be absolute monarch.”   D.L. Moody

“He’s either in full control or He’s not on the throne at all.”  Michael Youssef

Follow Elisabeth Elliott’s advice as we should say the following daily to God: “Work your whole will in my life at any cost.” According to 2 Corinthians 9:6, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully, will also reap bountifully.” You must decide how faithful you want to be, for when you neglect your duties, you risk losing a reward which could be yours. So “whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3:23-24)

“Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.” (Galatians 6:8)

God evaluates our success when the Lord comes. 1 Corinthians 4:1-5, apostle Paul says: “Now, a person who is put in charge as a manager must be faithful. As for me, it matters very little how I might be evaluated by you or by any human authority. I don’t even trust my own judgment on this point. My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove I’m right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide. So don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time – before the Lord returns. For He will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due.”

Success or failure in our lives is not final until the Lord comes, the final end of the ball game. Until we die or when the Lord comes, the score of our game of success is not final. This means that “successful beginnings of being faithful” can be reversed, or “bad beginnings of being unfaithful” can be changed, during the remainder of our life on this planet. In a baseball analogy, the score may be 6-3 in the sixth inning, and you are losing, and you’ve struck out three times so far. However, there is still at least three innings to play, and you can be successful, by driving in the winning home run in the ninth inning, and all your previous failures will be forgotten by everyone. Success or failure isn’t final until your game of life ends.

Here are two more quotes:

“Don’t presume to direct your own life on your own terms. Discovering the will of your creator and Savior – and walking in that will may not be the most “secure” way to live, according to the world’s standards. But I assure you of this: it will be the most fulfilling thing that could ever happen to you.” (Jack Hayford).

“The most important thing is not the work I can do for God. The most important thing is to make God the most important thing.” Phil Vischerth

Types of Brokenness Decisions

There are at least two subset categories of brokenness decisions we must make daily. They include:

1) Choosing to rely upon God’s power to do the work

2) Choosing to be obedient, having faith, and being perseverant as you rely upon God ‘s power

 

  1. Choosing to rely upon God’s power to do the work

Simi Mary Chacko once said: “It’s not your intelligence or your hard work that will lead you through – it is God’s faithfulness.”

Psalm 89:8 says, “Where is there anyone as mighty as you, O Lord?  You are entirely faithful.” God is perfect in all ways. He can do all things. He makes no mistakes. All of His plans ultimately work true. He is never failing, always available, never giving us an assignment that we cannot do absent from His power.

We as humans are limited in our knowledge, abilities, powers, strength, perseverance, faith, etc., in comparison to the Almighty God. God didn’t make a mistake planning that. For when we are weak, we should rely upon those who are stronger and wiser than us – that  is, God. If God is in charge, He will never fail. If we are in charge, we often tend to make a mess of things. So God is there, waiting and ready to make things right when we mess up. Sometimes when we think we fail, His plans are still in perfect motion, He just plan it that way for a greater purpose. Remember, we are incapable of understanding and knowing things like God does. When we don’t understand, doesn’t mean God’s plans are messed up. God has everything under perfect control.

Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength”. In another words, “I can do everything when I rely upon God’s strength, and not on my own power, abilities, wisdom, and strength.”

Jesus is the Vine, we are the branches. Apart from Christ, we can do nothing. We must stay connected to the Vine, by constantly abiding in the spirit, which includes repeatedly affirming it is God’s power and not mine that does the work best. The power source of the branch is staying connected to the Vine, because the branch receives energy and strength from the Vine. When we disconnect ourselves by not being obedient and brokenness, we often find ourselves weak, especially during trials.

  1. Choosing to be obedient, having faith, being perseverant as you rely upon God’s power

Faithfulness requires choosing to say “yes” to God’s callings. This is again brokenness, which in essence is obedience. To obedient when our Heavenly Employer has an assignment for us, often requires being obedient during times of duress, especially when God’s glory is revealed to the world most visibly during hard times. Miracles happen more often when there are times that require great faith on our part, so we often need to exhibit both perseverance and great faith while God does great work in our lives.” Without faith, it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6).

“Faith proves itself by its obedience to the Lord” (Jane Jarrell). If you don’t trust the Boss with faith, it is much harder to be obedient, especially during trials. God takes obedience on our part very seriously. See Numbers 20:12 for reference.

An employer expects employee to follow directions and do what they are told, because if the employee doesn’t, it makes it harder for mission strategy to be implemented. God can do anything, but He wants to use His people for His glory. And when His people aren’t faithful, they cannot be used and that person won’t get rewarded for the work He has in store for them. God can, if He wanted, to speak things in motion, but He doesn’t always do that; He prefers to use His people for His glory. And in His eyes, that person wouldn’t be considered a success because their brokenness and obedience chose not to follow directions in pursuit of completing their purpose through the power of God. God will still love that person just as much as before, but He would be unwilling to compensate that person for their efforts. That is just practical, fair business principles.

Perseverance is needed by man to be obedient and be filled with faith during hard times, especially when temptations to give up on the mission become the greatest. Perseverance, faith, and obedience is not easy, but that it why God wants to rewards us heavily for our work in the afterlife. We need to draw support from God’s Word daily and encouraging Christians during hard times, when fears that hinder success become strong. “Fear disrupts faith and becomes the biggest obstacle to trusting and obeying God” (John Ortberg).

Here are some more quotes to ponder:

Fear can be conquered only by faith, and faith thrives on truth”. Brendan O’Rourke and DeEtte Sauer

“Faith is the simple belief that God will keep His promises”. Steve Campbell

“Confidence in God’s presence is our basic weapon against fear”. Mary Southerland

“All we can truly rely on is faith in a God who is in control”. Jane Jarrell

“God’s trustworthy character is the key to the Christian life of faith, nothing else”. James Odens

 

“Our circumstances should never be deeper than our faith” (Jeff Huff). Here are some promises of God that can help you in your journey toward thwarting fear:

  1. Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”.
  2. 2 Corinthians 4:17 : “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!”

3. 1 Corinthians 10:13: “ The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure”.

 

Our faith is anchored in God’s perfect faithfulness (trustworthiness). When God says He will do something – He will always do it. All of His plans are for good, and He won’t make us endure trials or temptations greater than what we can endure through Him. Our heavenly rewards will also vastly outweigh them and last forever. God is incapable of lying. When He says He will do something, or that something is true, it is and will always be! God wouldn’t be entirely faithful if He failed or was wrong even once! We just need the courage and faith to believe it.

“God accomplishes extraordinary things through ordinary people who believe God can and will use them – imperfections and all” (Donna Partow).  The work isn’t based upon our abilities, but faith in God’s perfect faithfulness. We just need strong sufficient brokenness to abide in the spirit, no matter the circumstances. When we consistently abide in the spirit, the Holy Spirit will grow the fruit of faithfulness in our lives over time. The greater the fruit, the more godly and faithful we become. See Galatians 5:22-23.

“No matter who you are, if you will yield your life to God, you can become a vessel God can use” (Donna Partrowna).

  1. Enjoying God In the Meantime

“More than anything we can give for God, be for God, do for God, He simply wants our heart” (Donna Partrow).

“God enjoys His creation.”  (A.W. Tozer).  He loves every one of His children with a relentless love. He loves and cherishes to be with all of His children, all of the time, regardless of performance and what sins they committed. Perfect God knew every sin that every human would commit in their lifetime, and still chose innocent Christ to die to pay the penalty for every sin. God purposed Christ to die to give every human on the history of this planet – present, past, and future – an opportunity to become a child of God.

Once a Christian, the new believer would experience all the benefit of being a child of God – including, to experience God’s enoughness to its fullest, and to journey with God in trying to complete his or her individual purpose of life. But most of all, God wants to enjoy you and me now on Earth and forever in heaven. That is because God is perfect Love.

It grieves God that not every human would choose to become a child of God. He doesn’t want to send anyone to hell at all. But man broke the rule, and someone has to pay the punishment or God would not be considered Holy and Just. If God wasn’t holy and just, He would not be perfect or entirely faithful. His enoughness couldn’t be trusted, and He would not be God. So He purposed Jesus to pay the penalty for our sins, and purposed every Christian follow with a mission to reveal God’s glory, so that unbelievers in their life’s sphere of influence can hopefully see their need for Christ, can become aware of Truth of the Good News, and have the faith and brokenness to choose Christ. God pursues every unbeliever with a relentless love, but because of Love permitting free will in human lives, He cannot force an unsaved person to become a Christian. He can manipulate life changes to heavily persuade them to choose Him, but He cannot force His will on man. And despite how much incentive God wants to give the Christian to follow Him, He always cannot force their wills, either. Free will has tyrannized mankind in its history because of disobedience and lack of faith, but God’s glory cannot force mankind to make sound decisions, which making sound decisions Is the secret of success.  If you want to be successful, never forget this: “Your choices on earth have direct consequences on your life in eternity” (Bruce Wilkinson).

“Authentic living in the light of God’s glory is not about being perfect but about living grace-filed lives” (Chip Ingram).  Success at its most basic level, is “becoming a child of God”, and then advances towards “glorifying God and enjoying God now and forever as you are faithful daily to your life purpose” (to help God “restore all things to reflect His glory”).   Based upon your decisions, you will be either considered a success or failure in God’s eyes. However, regardless, how much you are considered either a success or failure, you will never be loved less than perfect love from a God who is perfect Love. In the case of the unbeliever who rejects Christ, it would be real hard for Love to send him or her to hell. For God wishes to send no one to hell, but He wouldn’t be entirely just and holy if he allowed the guilty to go free in this world without Christ or the sinner being punished.  If He did, God wouldn’t be entirely faithful and thus be, “not enough” for the world’s crises.  Then the world would truly be in trouble.

 

Man will always be failure-prone. There will be countless times when we will fail to be faithful to God. Just before Jesus’ crucifixion, the disciples deserted Christ when Jesus needed them the most. In fact, Peter denied Jesus three times. The disciples felt like failures and unworthy of Jesus’s love after reminiscing over Christ’s death and their mistakes. However, when Jesus appeared, the first thing Jesus said to them: “Peace be with you.” (John 20:19-22). Because of Christ’s purpose on the cross, grace overcame sin as Jesus still had peace with all the disciples in spite of all their failures in service to God’s calling. Because of the cross, God will still say “Peace be with you” after every time you  fail Him. Jesus paid the penalty for all our sins on the cross. Justification declares “we are not guilty” and thus, “peace be with you” every time we sin.

God judges our performance to evaluate our success in doing our service work, but never judges our self-worth. He sees Jesus and the cross every time we sin, and thus, our relationship remains unchanged and always full of peace and grace. We must forgive ourselves like that when we fail and others likewise when they fail us.

“The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust”. Psalm 103:13-14 

Thanks for reading this success article.

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