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I Surrender All, because of All That I Have Been Given

Where do I begin? How do I start?

The Lord God has a hold on my heart. It’s a hold like I have never felt before. It’s a hold like, “the present danger that you see right now, does not compare to the coming wrath.” “I have CHOSEN you, you did not choose me.” I am humbled to my core. Nothing that I have is mine nothing that I own even my own life compares to what I have been given in Christ. It has put my eyes down cast it has caused a serious surrender. What do I have here in this life, my children, my home, my own life that I can hold up before God almighty and say it’s mine? None of it. None of it compares. Not one thing I have is mine. I cannot protect myself, I cannot protect my family. I cannot even do good, think good without Christ.

All I have I lay down before the feet of Christ because it has been his from the beginning. My heart is stirred. Who am I to be chosen? I am nothing no more than a worm in the ground. Who am I to speak? I am nothing, no qualifications of any sort. In the worlds eyes I am less than. God chose less than and I’m still wondering why? Why me? Lord I am nothing but he is everything. I have nothing, but he gives me everything. And all that I do have he has given it to me and it isn’t even for me to keep but to steward. So everything that I do have that he has given me I lay down in surrender.

My heart is overcome. My mind is overcome. I surrender because to not surrender is to place myself as God and I cannot even see what happens in the moment after next. Who am I to make the decisions? Who am I to choose what is best? I am not capable.

I have been appointed for eternal life. I have had my eyes opened and my heart renewed. With this I sacrifice all. Let the world destroy me because I have already been restored where they cannot go.

What do I do in this present age? What do I do now? I hand over what he has given me because it is His already. I obey his commands. I speak what he asks me to speak. I teach what he asks me to teach. I stand in the gap. I pray on my knees. I become radical in the eyes of the world. I am not comfortable here. This place is not my home. I do not belong here but have work to do here. I train and I instruct those who belong to him not to me. He uses me to prepare warriors for himself. Warriors who will fight a battle that I have not seen so who am I to not lay down my comfort of today for the preparation for tomorrow.

Oh God how merciful you are upon me. How gracious you would choose me. How humbled I am to be in your presence and to be apart of your work. I have been gifted beyond measure. All glory belongs to you.

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Who Can Understand the Word of God:Truth and Lies about studying scripture

What is required to study scripture on your own? Can an average person study scripture on their own and understand it? Do you need to have a degree or seminary background to understand deep theological truths? Is deep bible study just for pastors or theology professors? Are bible study books required to understand truth?

First, what does scripture say about understanding truth?

““I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.””
‭‭John‬ ‭16:12-15‬ ‭NIV‬‬

““All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
‭‭John‬ ‭14:25-26‬ ‭NIV‬‬

According to God’s word, the only thing needed to understand scripture and truth to be revealed is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our teacher and our counselor. He will guide us into all truth and he will make known to us what is the Lords. He will bring to mind what we have been taught and will teach us all things.

Not all have the indwelling of the Spirit. It is only those who have received the good news of Christ. That he has come and died in our place for our sins. And that he rose again defeating death and making a way for us to have eternal life with him. When we repent of our sinful ways, accept the truth and believe in Him through faith He seals us with His Spirit.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
‭‭John‬ ‭3:16‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.””
‭‭Acts‬ ‭2:38-39‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Now if you have the indwelling of the spirit there is no reason that you cannot study scripture for yourself and begin to have understanding.

The enemy would love nothing more than to convince Gods children to believe that they cannot understand his word. It benefits the the enemy for you to believe that you need special education or degrees to grow in maturity of faith. He would love for you to become dependent upon men rather than the Holy Spirit to tell you what you need to believe. When we place this dependence upon men and never reading and studying for ourselves we can easily be deceived.

If our understanding of scripture begins with sentences of, “Pastor ( ) said, ……..” then we have placed a man as the authority of scripture and not the The Lord Himself.

So with all of that being said, how do you actually study scripture? There are different methods of the mechanics of studying Gods word. They are just practical methods of breaking down text to take one part at a time.

To me for the most basic and most reliant on the Spirit method is this:

1. Choose a single verse, a few verses or a passage to study or seems to be challenging to you.

2. before trying to dissect its meaning: Pray for the Lord to clear your heart and mind of your own way of thinking. Then asking the Holy Spirit to teach you and give you understanding and ask for wisdom and God gives it freely.

3. Read the piece MULTIPLE times. Meditate on what is saying. (Meditate is thinking about the scripture and just rolling the ideas around in your head.)

4. Then start asking questions about that scripture. What are the facts, what are the promises, what are warnings. What are the truths.

5. If something profoundly stands out ask the Lord to reveal what you are to do with that. Ask how do I apply these truths to my life. Is there conviction of sin? Is there a call to surrender or sacrifice? Is there a challenge to change or a need for transformation of thinking.

If we get in a habit of studying God word this way and studying in context of his word he will indeed reveal truths to us and give us understanding.

There are several other simple methods that can help break down the scripture but the real power and real work comes from the Spirit highlighting the truth that He wants to teach you.

So, my challenge to you is this: if you are a believer and have never studied Gods word for yourself I pray that you ask the Lord to teach you how. Take a week to go over one passage and meditate on it and allow the Holy Spirit to reveal the Lords truth to you.

The church was not meant for you to sit in a pew and be fed but be taught how to eat. The church is a school and an equipping ground to teach skills so that we may go out and serve.

“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭4:11-16‬ ‭NIV‬‬

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Only God can fill the hole

I used this imagery to teach the kids about Gods love for us.
When we are born we have this hole inside our heart. It’s a missing puzzle piece. We feel it deep inside and sometimes we can explain it in words and others times it’s a feeling of longing or emptiness. I explained all people want this hole filled but so many people try use many different things to fill it. We use careers, relationships, and things to fill this hole. But all of those other puzzle pieces do not fit properly and the hole is not filled and we are not satisfied.
The hole is specifically a God sized puzzle piece. Anything less than him simply won’t fit and will not satisfy.
The enemy knows of this missing piece and as we search for other things besides God he places lies in our heart.
So if you have an emptiness about you a longing to be whole. Have you turned to the Lord? Are lies preventing you from seeking true wholeness in him?

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Turning away because it’s too uncomfortable.

Y’all I’m just on the preaching bandwagon today. My heart is just overwhelmed and the Lord just reveals things in my heart and I can’t do anything but speak.

This child and sex trafficking stuff has always been on my heart. I have always been so cautious with my kids. But even so I have been guilty of turning a blind eye. Not because I didn’t care but to look upon the evils that would harm children in such a way cuts down deep that it makes me physically ill. I turned because my mind would be overwhelmed and fearful but what I was really doing was turning because it was so uncomfortable to even think about. It hurt so bad to imagine these poor children and what they are suffering.

Over the last few months God has shown me the importance of looking upon the hurt and the pain in me first. I turned a blind eye to words like depression because I couldn’t handle the idea that I was experiencing that. He showed me that the only way I could move past it, is to look at it knowing I was held in the midst of it.

He then started placing trafficking even more heavily on my heart. I have cried out. Tears and snot running down my face for these kids and I knew I could not ignore it and I couldn’t turn away. The fact is as believers to look upon sin and the discomfort and hurt we experience is a fraction of hurt God the father experiences when he sees these things. He doesn’t turn a blind eye. He doesn’t scroll pass quickly trying to find comfort in something good. No, instead he sent his Son. He provided rescue, he provides healing, he provides restoration. As a believer I can’t turn away even though it is painful. I can’t look away and pretend it’s not there.

My greatest weapon I have is prayer. At times I feel helpless to do anything and a deceiving thought enters my mind, “prayer isn’t going to save these kids or it would have already happened.” It’s the enemy trying to beat me down to keep me from fighting. If you look at Ephesians 6 and the Armor of God and after you are completely suited up…the action for you to do is PRAY! “Pray in the Spirit, with all sorts of prayers and requests…” the enemy knows when we are on our knees and praying fervently there is no stopping Gods children.

When we are in prayer we need to remember exactly who God is. There is nothing done in the light or in the dark that he does not see. He knows the deeds of man and wickedness that hides. We are praying to a sovereign God who is over all and who will bring forth his judgement on his enemies. We need to pray for our own hearts to be revealed. To expose the sin in us and for God to correct our own behavior. We need to intercede for the hurting and the lost. We need to ask God his direction. Today it might be praying for the revealing what is done in the dark. It might be a time of fasting and dedicated prayer. It might be some other move he wants you to take in order to be the hands and feet of God. But we cannot do any of this if we remain in the comfort of ignorance and denial. We cannot be effective if we value our own comfort feeling above looking on and praying for those in need.

Praise God he did not look away from me in my most vulnerable and deplorable ways. Praise God he came with outstretched hands to save and secure me. Praise God he did not leave me to the wickedness in this world and even in the wickedness that lived in me. Let me not turn away. Let me not return to comfort while the defenseless is being abused.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:10-18‬ ‭NIV‬‬

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What’s the difference between Bossiness and Leadership?

Oh man, so there is theme within our children lately of working together and playing kindly. It has been a serious struggle.

We have multiple leaders within our kids and they are navigating and learning the difference between leadership and bossiness. There are conflicts between extroverts and introverts some need constant people around other don’t mind to play it solo. The more easy going kids are refusing the follow the leading kids and the leading kids are flopping down and totally distraught at the fact they won’t play with them.

It’s a total mess. But within that mess I can see where God is preparing the leaders to lead in a loving way.

But in my knee jerk reaction to all the conflict and whining makes me want to lash out. In my flesh I want to yell out, “hey you are being a bossy brat! And no one wants to play with you!” quit doing that!

But realizing as a parent it’s my job to redirect and teach my kids and remind them who they are in Christ instead of letting the frustration reign.

I ask the two leaders what is it they really want? Do you care more about the game and someone playing it your way so you have fun? Or do you care more about having fun with the person?

And when confronted with that hard question God revealed in their own heart they were more concerned about themselves. I explained to them that if you play with only you in mind then it will only be you playing. But if we play and are more concerned about the other person then many will be drawn to you to play.

It the moments of frustration I think it’s hard to teach kids. Its hard not to let the flesh take over and yell out things that damage rather than build. The fact is God made two leaders and just like me or anyone else they are learning to become that leader. But since they have a sinful and selfish nature that leadership can turn to bossiness. As a parent I need eyes from to see past the sinful behavior and see the child for who God created them to be. To direct them toward him and cultivate who they are in him.

This is not an easy task. A lot of prayer and a lot of times me asking for forgiveness from my kids because I allowed the flesh to take over. When your children are in the throws of conflict or just simply driving you nuts, take a step back for a moment and ask God to see your child the way he sees them. Then you can direct them to the way He created them to be.

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The New Creation, The Bride of Christ

As I was praying this morning for myself, my family and my country, God brought an image to mind. It was me in broken pieces and he was putting me back together in a mosaic form. The grout that would hold me together would be his own spirit living within me. I’m a broken individual but I am made whole through Christ. He doesn’t do away with me and discard me because I am broken. No, he takes those broken pieces and he forms a new creation held together by Him. And the grout, which is his spirit, shines through and around the broken pieces as a testimony of what was and now is.

But as I began painting this image and applying flesh color to each mosaic tile my color varied in saturation. Some tiles were very dark and others very light. Then the Lord revealed to me this is a picture of my people. Each tile represents individuals of various size and color and they are all untied by one spirit and that is the Holy Spirit. Each tile has its place and together they make a new creation a beautiful creation that is the bride of Christ. And just as the body is not complete and all pieces apart, God is not done brining others to him through salvation.

Where we have so much division in a world with the color of our skin the lord looks at us as pieces to a beautiful whole. Each individual an original piece, a masterpiece within itself, but intended to be apart of an even greater masterpiece held together by Him and his spirit shining through.

“Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:16-19‬ ‭

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Folks, It’s time to wake up and get on our knees

Ok I’m gonna rock the boat. I don’t personally care to be the boat rocker but I would hate to think of the consequences of staying quiet.

Colossians 2:8

“Make sure no one controls you. They will try to control you by using false reasoning that has no meaning. Their ideas depend on human teachings. They also depend on the basic spiritual powers of this world. They don’t depend on Christ.”
‭‭Colossians‬ ‭2:8‬ ‭NIRV‬‬

has been on my mind. I have picked through this verse. I have looked over definitions of words and have considered its context. And it’s application for today. The words that came to mind was Freedom of Thought. And how free are we to think the way we want. Or how controlled are we to think a certain way?

I keep thinking about the world around me and all the avenues in which thought and ideology is formed. Our basic ideology and philosophy in life begins in childhood. What is important to our parents, was made important to us. The way our parents behaved and lived set the foundational principles for us.

But then I began to think, what about outside forces that encourage a certain way of thought. Public school alone accounts for 18,720 hrs from kindergarten to 12th grade of instructional thought pattern determined by a chosen curriculum. The curriculum is not chosen by you but has the stamp of governmental authority on it. During that 7-8hrs a day your child is expected to follow a certain societal norms or they are deemed troublesome in some sort of fashion. Even the best teachers are hamstrung by bureaucracy.

Now, we also live in a culture that determines that the amount of extracurricular activities that a child is apart of will increase their chances of success. If they don’t have those opportunities they are somehow being neglected or robbed of a better life. The time that the children are in these activities takes time away from the family dynamics.

Now let’s take a look at screen time. We are inundated with screens wherever we turn. We hardly can live without them. They are our primary communication sources. They can be used for wonderful things like spreading the gospel (writing encouraging blog posts etc.) but they also can be destructive. Have you paid attention to your child’s cartoons lately? Have you noticed any certain ideologies they push as facts based upon a human understanding? If we are not careful, what looks like a harmless cartoon could be the introduction to a societal mindset apart from God. That idea is introduced and followed up in school through a picked out curriculum and then solidified in higher education.

Then we look at the typical American Christian family and we can see that most attend worship once a week. Little bible study is done at home by parents or children. A single day of worship ensures the check off of a belief in Jesus. His name is mentioned here and there but He has no real effect on the family life.

So now, what does this have to do with freedom of thought? Have you noticed there is an intolerance for thought patterns that do not fit societal norms? Have you noticed that if you don’t agree with a certain agenda you are labeled biased, ignorant or “the problem”. You are even considered “conspiracy theorist” If you suggest that those in power may have a hidden agenda. These thoughts perpetuate the false idea that humans are inherently “good” which from scripture we can plainly see that humans are inherently evil until we are made righteous through Christ.

The fact is those who break from the norm to live a life based on scriptural beliefs are a problem. It is a problem because they are not deceived by a spiritual enemy who easily deceives men and women apart from Christ. We are a problem to a society where humans are the authority of knowledge not a God who knows and sees all. We are a light in a dark room and our life shines on the evil that is masquerading as righteousness, good will, and wisdom.

So my question to you is, who is teaching the next generation? As a parent have your forfeited your rights to others to tell your children how and what they should think? Are you and your children falling for deceptive philosophies of this world? Would you be able to tell the difference between “your truth, to follow your heart” or THE TUTH.

It’s time to wake up.

“You received Christ Jesus as Lord. So keep on living your lives in him. Have your roots in him. Build yourselves up in him. Grow strong in what you believe, just as you were taught. Be more thankful than ever before. Make sure no one controls you. They will try to control you by using false reasoning that has no meaning. Their ideas depend on human teachings. They also depend on the basic spiritual powers of this world. They don’t depend on Christ.”
‭‭Colossians‬ ‭2:6-8‬ ‭NIRV‬‬

“Here is what the LORD who rules over all is about to do. The Lord will take away from Jerusalem and Judah supplies and help alike. He will take away all the supplies of food and water. He’ll take away heroes and soldiers. He’ll take away judges and prophets. He’ll take away fortune tellers and elders. He’ll take away captains of groups of 50 men. He’ll take away government leaders. He’ll take away advisers, skilled workers and those who are clever at doing evil magic. The LORD will make mere youths their leaders. Children will rule over them. People will treat one another badly. They will fight against one another. They will fight against their neighbors. Young people will attack old people. Ordinary people will attack those who are more important. A man will grab one of his brothers in his father’s house. He will say, “You have a coat. So you be our leader. Take charge of all these broken-down buildings!” But at that time the brother will cry out, “I can’t help you. I don’t have any food or clothing in my house. Don’t make me the leader of these people.” Jerusalem is about to fall. And so is Judah. They say and do things against the LORD. They dare to disobey him to his very face. The look on their faces is a witness against them. They show off their sin, just as the people of Sodom did. They don’t even try to hide it. How terrible it will be for them! They have brought trouble on themselves. Tell those who do what is right that things will go well with them. They will enjoy the results of the good things they’ve done. But how terrible it will be for those who do what is evil! Trouble is about to fall on them. They will be paid back for the evil things they’ve done. Those who are young treat my people badly. Women rule over them. My people, your leaders have taken you down the wrong path. They have turned you away from the right path.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭3:1-12‬ ‭NIRV‬‬

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How To Pray

After Jesus prayed, the disciples asked, “how do we pray?” Jesus gave them an example to use:

“So He said to them, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.””
‭‭Luke‬ ‭11:2-4‬ ‭

When looking at this example you can see there are 5 basic parts to the prayer:

1. The adoration of God: who he is and what he has done

2. Our needs

3. Confession of our sins, shortcomings and weaknesses

4. Our prayer for others

5. Direction and protection

When we pray within this pattern that the Lord has laid out for us, we can begin to gear our mind toward his. We must first place our thoughts on who God is and what he has done and praise him for it. We then can come to him with our needs and he will supply them. Next, we confess where we have sinned and ask for forgiveness. We take that grace and we pray for others especially those who have hurt us. Our hearts and minds begin to become clearer so that we can ask for direction and protection and be able to hear his response.

Prayer is our communication with Holy God. It is a critical and vital aspect of our life as much the air we breathe. Prayer is not difficult but the enemy can cause discouragement and confusion. He can make us think we need fancy words and long drawn out monologues. But in truth, God is looking at the heart of the person praying. He knows everything before our lips speak it and even things that our lips do not even know what to speak. He gives us this pattern to help our minds and hearts align with his. He shows us the necessary communication to commune with him.

The lord tells us ASK, SEEK, KNOCK. Ask and it will be given. Seek, and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened. This is done in prayer. Prayer is the opportunity for us to align our desires with Him and for Him to give what he has already set apart for us.