Category Archives: Deep Restoration

Freedom We Didn’t Deserve

I think heavily this week, as we draw closer to Easter on the overall power and meaning that this week brings.  Christmas is a wonderful day and I love to celebrate the birth of Christ and the season, but that day is meaningless without Good Friday and definitely without Easter.  I look at this weekend with so much joy with what we have been given, because of this man, Jesus.  The utter pain and torture he experienced is unimaginable.  He willingly went forward to follow the Father’s will.  He knew the purpose that was laid out before Him and went through all of this…FOR US!empty-tomb

Galatians 5:1, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free.”  Because He willingly shed His blood and laid down His life and because He conquered death after a battle ensued in hell, Jesus bought our freedom.  He was the ransom paid to give us our undeserved freedom, but a freedom that was meant for us since before creation.  1 Timothy 2:6 tells us that Jesus “gave himself as a ransom for all”  That key word there is all.  This was not just for one segment of people.  This was for everyone on the face of the earth who hear the Good News and turn to follow Christ.  It is made available to everyone.

525724I ponder this freedom quite often.  I have a sticker on the back of my truck with Galatians 5:1 referenced.  It is a constant reminder that I see in my mirror as I’m driving.  What does this freedom really mean to us?  God intended us to be live in freedom from the very beginning, but we still face a problem where many Christians still find themselves living in bondage and not experiencing the freedom to truly live as they were meant to live.  As John Eldredge shared in Free to Live: The Utter Relief of Holiness, “The way of holiness was never meant to be a labyrinth of complexity and eventual despair.”  

We have been set free from the bondage of sin and we no longer have to live under the old laws of religion that kept the Jews and still keeps many religions in complete bondage.  True freedom lies in the fact that we can be restored and seek to live in the righteousness and holiness we were created for…Ephesians 4:24, “Put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”

As a human race, we have fallen so far from grace.  We have rebelled greatly over our existence against God.  Sin infiltrated us so deeply that we have become a vile creation.  Look at what we have today.  It’s on our tv, on social media, we see it on the news with people killed every day all over the globe.  We have fallen a long way.  Yet despite all of that.  Despite the distance we created between ourselves and the Father, He still pursues us.  How awesome is that?  We are pursued, even though we don’t deserve the grace He has offered us through Jesus.

Morgan Snyder of Become Good Soil and Ransomed Heart shares something great about Jesus:

“But Jesus is different. He is not ruled by the false self, not informed by habitual reactions and pre-programmed responses (like us), crafted with sophistication over decades to disengage from real relationship, in order to self-protect and avoid shame.

He is free. Free to move in  the service of love. He lives in union with His Father. Ever accessing the resources of Heaven that flow freely into Him. Ever aware of what His Father wants to bring through Him in His day as a man walking among us, and making a particular life available to us.”

Jesus is FREE.  Jesus lived the life that we were all mean to live.  In complete union with the Father.  He did not conform to the ways of this world nor to the jacked-up rules of religion.  This is the freedom we have now.  To be able to live out lives walking in union with the Father through Christ.  Not be ruled by our false self.  Not to be ruled by sin and to be conformed to this world and its twisted ways.  freedom-in-christ

I’m grateful for everyday I get to pursue this freedom and live in it.  It’s not always easy.  We spend day after day being tempted to go in one direction or another.  To pursue things of this world that will completely take us out and kill our soul.  We don’t have to live that way.  When you realize the freedom that you truly have in Christ and what that really means, it’s amazing.  As KB says in his song ‘Zone Out,’ “Once you’ve truly seen the Lord, you’re obsessed with what you’ve seen.”  It’s life changing to find that freedom, to know what it is to be sanctified daily seeking holiness and righteousness.  We didn’t deserve that freedom, yet it is offered, because of who we are, but because of who God is and what Christ did for us.  We are free to live and free to love God.

Realigning Yourself With Christ

We are bombarded daily.  That’s just something we cannot ignore.  There is so much going on day after day and it is so easy to feel so overwhelmed.  You ever feel that way?  Feeling like the world is just trying to take you out?  I know I feel it from time to time.  This past week, I felt simply overloaded.  So much so, that I could not even focus my mind to even write at all.  The mind was all over the place from school, to my regular work, and my family.  It can get very difficult to manage life’s demands and then it can be so easy to simply throw in the towel and give up.

I was reminded of something last week though while the mind was racing.  Something that for a couple of days that I lost sight of because of the chaos.  That is realigning my life with Jesus.  Realigning every aspect and dimension of me with Him.  This starts from the moment I get out of bed every morning.  Before the day begins, just stopping and bring consecrate your life, bringing every part of your life under the authority of Jesus Christ.  This sounds so simple, but wow, it is so important to do every day.

pour-out-your-heart-to-godWhen this is remembered, it brings so much more clarity to the day to come.  I have found myself more capable to deal with the difficulties that may come and stand strong in any warfare I may face.  Psalm 62:8 says “Pour out your heart before Him.  God is a refuge for us.”  He is there for every part of all we face.  We have to call out to Him though.  We have to bring our lives under Him.  Realizing that we are powerless to face all of the struggles of life by ourselves.  When we start our day before God, we lay it all out there for Him.  Let it come under Christ’s authority to see you through.

As we begin this week I wanted to write out this reminder for not only myself but for all of you too.  It’s not about just whining about our troubles, but realizing that God is over all of it and aligning ourselves under the authority of Christ, we bring us into better focus and bring clarity on what matters.  Oswald Chambers said, “We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties.”   This is taking the focus off the troubles and keeping our eyes on Him.

So as you start each day.  Think about this.  Before anything begins, look to the Lord.  Fix your heart to Him first before anything in the day comes in.  Christ overcame, so we can overcome what this world throws at us.  We need to be restored and renewed daily in Christ.

The Fog of Religion

I’m going to talk about something today that will not be very popular with many people.  This has to do with the religious veil that is pulled over many of our faces still to this day.  A veil that Jesus himself brought down and that was torn in two, forever opening the door to the Father through Christ.  I guess it’s appropriate that this is on my mind today on Ash Wednesday.  This day is observed by many as the start of Lent, leading up to Easter.  Even before I fully came into my faith, something never sat right with me about it all.  Now that my eyes have been opened, I see it more clearly.

We have a serious religious problem across the Christian faith.  I guess it’s bound to happen over a 2,000 year period as messages get skewed and people begin to prop themselves up through the creation of new religious practices.  While Lent and Ash Wednesday are not referenced anywhere in Scripture, I don’t have an issue with people that want to observe this time.  The problem lies in the motives of the heart.  There are many people and I know many, that use the time leading up to Lent to indulge however they want. To live like hell and just whatever.  Then Lent comes, they get the ashes on their forehead and then portray to be living a like a Christian for 40 days.  Easter comes and goes and right back to life as usual.  Living a life in Christ.  Seeking holiness and sanctification is not for only 40 day out of the 365 days we have each year.  This is meant to be a 24/7 365 life.  People think that this time can make up for the rest of their crazy living.   Doesn’t work that way.

a43673c9d067ac92903fa8250de42be5In his book, ‘Beautiful Outlaw,’ John Eldredge speaks to the religious fog and how Jesus himself was very much anti-religious.  That’s who he went after directly more times than not through the Gospels.  John says this, “The religious fog uses sanctified worlds and activities, things that look and sound very Sunday school to distort our perception of God and our experience of Him.  It is cunning as a snake and adaptive as the flu, infiltrating our practices to make them ever so false.”  Read the Gospels and as John stated, there is one thing that is unmistakably clear…religion is the enemy.  “Every hostile encounter Jesus has is with very “churchy” people.  This spirit is the great enemy of our life with God, and it is this spirit that Jesus warned his boys about when they were whispering in the boat about the bread” (See Matthew 16:6-12).

Religion is a major problem that we to contend with.  Religion is built by man on rules and regulation that continually build up larger walls between man and God.  Jesus tore those walls down.  Our salvation, our freedom, our restoration, our eternity lies with Him and Him alone.  Not in religious practices and rituals.  We are to be disciplined spiritually through prayer, studying and learning Scripture, and so on, but getting caught up in religious discipline and practices can be a real problem and can begin to pull you away from the heart of God.  Following Jesus does not require the burden of religion.  Matthew 11:29-30, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

9780060694425_p0_v2_s192x300Why do we forget this?  There is a cost to following Christ as it will pull you away from many around you, even if you are close them them, if they do not follow as well.  However, His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  Jesus did not put up more religious walls to shield us from God.  No…He opened the door. The goal of living a life in Christ is to live as Christ lived.  Not to follow every little thing that He may did, specifically, but to follow His example.  In ‘The Spirit of the Disciplines,’ Dallas Willard explained it this way, “The secret of the easy yoke is simple, actually.  It is the intelligent, informed, unyielding resolve to live as Jesus lived in all aspects of life, not just in the moment of specific choice or action.” 

I have grown to become very much against religion.  Actually, I hate religion.  It is the enemies ploy to skew the message and the Good News to pull us away from the heart of God and truly living our lives in Christ.  Christ is the example, not the pompous religious pharisees of today that prance around with so much pomp and circumstance just as the pharisees and religious leaders in Jesus’ time did.  Christ challenged them directly and fiercely.  We should not let our lives fall into their trap again.  Clear the religious fog and live in the freedom and restoration found in Christ alone and is directly available to each and everyone of us.

No religious ritual can ever make one’s heart right with God.  That only comes through the grace and spiritual blessings of the Father through the works (life, death, resurrection, and ascension) of Christ Jesus.  Religion keeps you in chains and bondage behind a veil. Jesus tears down the veil, breaks those chains, and sets you free.

A Year Later – An Amazing Journey

Since this time last year, I have been continually sharing with all of you pieces of this journey that God has placed me on as He took a hold of my life and transformed me like I never, ever thought possible.  Looking back to where I stood a year ago, the growth in my life, the movement that the Holy Spirit has brought to me, and the purpose and direction that I now follow is like nothing I ever thought possible.  All of that came because of two major events for me, first during a mens’ ministry study at my church a year ago last week, and then the adventure to Colorado a year ago this week to Wild at Heart.

I continue to look back over this journey with a joyful heart as to what God has opened.  It all came down to one thing though.  Making that decision that I was no longer going to walk on this journey alone and that I was going to put that stake in the ground and draw a line in the sand to follow Jesus from here on out into the the unknown.   I surrendered my life and told God that I was now all in.  I was no longer going to be stranded and just dip my toes in the water.  I was diving in.

I know I mention Wild at Heart continuously on this page and in my writing.  I have discussed pieces of the journey and where it has taken me, but it’s all for a significant reason.  I firmly believe that this transformation in life is available to each and every one of us.  If God can make use of my life, he can make use of everyone.  He is calling on each and everyone of us.  Ephesians 1, the Father chose us before the foundations of the earth.  He chose everyone of us and wants to use each of us for His glory.  Not our…His.

That’s been the important thing to remember.  I was on long journey to nowhere for along time.  I was a husband and father to the best way I knew how and I thought part of that was working for my own successes.  It was all about what I can do for me which was in turn to provide for them.  That was the limit of it all.  It was not for God’s glory.  He was literally an afterthought.  I became cynical and complacent in life.  I battled issues of being angry, being deceitful.  I battled lust and pornography, which consumed me as an escape.  I hid behind my false self.  I loved food and was way out of shape.  Just didn’t care to take of myself and my health was affected.  I entered a dark time where I was even more lost when my Dad died.  I carried wounds and sins with me and hid them deep inside of my heart.  I no longer had any guidance and the little guidance I did receive came from self-consumed people.

In the months and weeks leading to last January, God began a real work to prepare me for what was about to come.  My heart slowly opened.  When I was accepted to go to Wild At Heart, I knew something big was beginning to happen.  I just didn’t know what.  I tried my best to just let the week happen, preparing myself with an open heart to let God unveil all He was looking to.  I was completely blown away by what the entire experience brought and the way my life was going to change afterwards.

I knew things weren’t going to be the same and they certainly weren’t.  I battled though at times. There were days when it became very easy to just go back to who I was.  To just settle with life and not take a risk to make a change I knew that had to be done.  God called and I responded, though.  I now knew Him as Father and I allowed Him to Father me through it all and He still does today.  I shed the old self, the false self, the old nature and I put on my new nature as God’s son and now alive and restored through Jesus Christ.

Densely-01-2For each and everyone of to go on the journey of transformation requires something big of us and something that is very difficult to do.  It requires allowing ourselves to be torn down and rebuilt.  I saw a quote from Mike Mason that said, “A thirty-year-old man is like a densely populated city. Nothing new can be built, in its heart, without something else being torn down.”   At 36 years of age, that’s exactly what I had to do and what each of us have to do.  We have to open the door to our heart to Jesus and allow Him to enter and bring out those wounds and sins, so that we can then renounce and repent and then drive forward to be healed and restored to who we were meant to be.  In my counseling studies, this is called exposure.  It’s very much needed.  We need to be exposed to ourselves and to Christ in order to have a chance at the life we were meant to have.

This journey is far from over.  I was broken and then restored.  I was dead and then reborn.  I had no direction and now I have God’s purpose and direction.  It’s possible for all who are willing to let go and turn to Him.  Trust me.  I didn’t think it was possible and yet here I stand.  Restoration and life is very much possible if we will just trust God’s will and allow the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts.  It takes work and you will be opposed, but trust God with your life is all you need

Thankful For God’s Pursuit – Christmas Reminder

Here we are, just two days from Christmas.  Such an awesome time of year and has always been one of my favorites in terms of traditions with family now and in years past as a kid.  As I wrote last week, I’ve also gained  new perspective on Christmas and one that I realized last year and now more than ever as I see the turmoil our world is in.  I am given a stark reminder of God’s willingness to pursue our hearts and restore us by invading this world, sneaking behind enemy lines through the womb of a teenage girl.

If you think that Christmas was is not part of the spiritual war that takes place, you have not read enough into the Christmas story.  It’s far more than just a manger, shepherds, wise men, animals, and gifts.  It is war.  This part seems to always be overlooked, or if not overlooked, minimalized.  Read Matthew 2 and really soak that in.   Starting in verse 13, Matthew shares of an angel coming to Joseph and telling him to take Mary and Jesus into Egypt until they are told to return.  Herod was coming to kill Jesus.  Starting in verse 16, we learn of the ‘massacre of the innocence,’ when all male children under the age of 2 were slaughtered by Herod’s soldiers.

The real  and true story of Christmas is an invasion, a great battle, and the demonstration of God’s love for us that he was willing to leave his thrown put on a robe of flesh and become fully man so that we may be restored and come fully alive in the holiness we were meant for.

I for one, am ever thankful for God’s continuous pursuit of my hearts.  No matter how far I ran, He never gave up on me.  His Word shows that He would never give up on me and I see that now as I see the story of my life played out.  Because of Jesus, I can now live.  As Paul writes in Ephesians 4, I can now put on my new nature and leave my old self behind, and now begin to pursue living as God created me and all of us to be as His image bearers, imago dei.  

I know I have written about this before and even some last week, but I think it is so important to remember.  Don’t get so caught up in the commercialized and traditional side of Christmas that you forget the true story and what is, in fact, going on.  The story goes a lot deeper and God is showing us that He is willing to go wherever we are, even to sneak in and walk among us in order to restore us to Him.

With that, I want wish you all a very Merry Christmas from my family to all of you.  I pray God’s peace, love, and joy to fill your hearts and your homes.  I look forward to my final post of 2015 next week as I go through what has been an absolutely amazing year of transformation for my heart, my life, and that of my family.  God Bless you all!

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A Thankful Heart

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I pondered this post for a few days.  Thinking exactly where I would focus as we draw closer to Thanksgiving.  When I look over my life and all that is around me, it fills me with a thankful heart.  I have been blessed with such a beautiful wife that is such a beautiful soul.  A true Proverbs 31 woman in my life.  We’ve been blessed with 3 beautiful kids.  They are our pride and joy.  My boys are the apple of my eye and my daughter is my delight.  Proud of all 3 of them.  We’ve gone through a lot together as a family and we’ve made it through storms together.  I’m very thankful to the Lord for having each of them in my life.

There are so many other things I can call out to be thankful for.  The biggest thing above all things, however has to be full and complete transformation.  I can stand here today and say that 2015 has been a year of complete transformation, not just for me, but for my family.  Jesus took a hold of my life this year like I had never imagined possible and boy oh boy, this is just the beginning of what I can tell already will be an exciting life of following Him and leading the lost to Him.

CrossLoganville

Through all of this transformation, through all of this change, there are so many things, just in this short period of time that I can point to and that am very thankful for.  I am thankful for my church family at The Cross Loganville.  My pastor, Tim Cash, and the rest of the team, our men’s ministry, the awesome small group Amber and I joined, and all the connections and friendships we have made so far.  Truly blessed to be walking with such an awesome body of believers.  They’ve welcomed us in and have been very instrumental to our lives.

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I’m thankful for Ransomed Heart Ministries, led by John Eldredge, and the opportunity to attend the Wild At Heart Boot Camp in Colorado.  This was the pivotal life changing moment for me.  One that God was prepping me for through many encounters right up to the day I left and I knew He was really leading me to, because of the spiritual warfare I dealt with before I left.  When I made it there, however, I was able to let go.  My life completely surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ as I stood in those mountains and I knew I would never be the same.

I’m thankful for the change of my heart to know I needed to follow Jesus into the unknown.  To live the unscripted life and follow Him to wherever He is leading.  I’ve always lived a life with a plan about where I was headed.  I can no longer do that and since then, there is so much freedom in knowing God is now leading the way, not me.  I go myself out of the way and stopped trying to control things that were not in my control and let Him take control.

LibertyUni

I’m thankful for the opportunity to attend Liberty University to pursue a Masters in Counseling.  Something I never thought I would do, but somehow, I feel as if God has been leading me here for many years through the many encounters I’ve had and the moments of counsel that I have given to others.  I never recognized it until this year, but once did, He put me on the fast track.  I’ve been blessed with great teaching, great fellowship when getting to go on campus, and great Christ centered learning and development.  Truly excited to see what the Lord is going to do with my life through all of this.

Amber_Fall2015

I could honestly go on and on and on here.  All of this points to what the Lord has done in my life since I surrendered completely to Him.  He’s been leading me back to Him for the last few years and this was the year He decided it was time to unleash.  The transformation for my life has transformed my home.  Seeing my kids light up, but most of all seeing my bride light up.  Now watching her day after day getting into the Word on her own and journaling.  Seeing her build up the courage to break out of her shyness to fellowship and know others in our church family and building the courage to share what is a very powerful story.  She just glows in it as I see her eagerness to grow and know God.  Of that I am also very thankful.

2015 has been the Lords year for me and family.  He’s taken the reigns and is leading us into the unknown.  It’s no longer about living the good, comfortable, content, and ‘successful’ life.  It’s about living the unscripted life that follows where we are led.  My heart is very thankful for this transformation and where He takes us from here.

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I want to wish every one of you a very Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving from my family to yours.

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! – 2 Corinthians 9:15

Get Ourselves Out of the Way

It never ceases to amaze me the things that God will reveal to me or remind me about at the most random times and in moments when I’m not even locked into receiving anything.  Usually when I get to late in the evening, my mind begins to wind down as we all do, getting ready to turn in for the night.  Last night was a exception.  Coming home from an evening watching my daughter sing at a Talent Show, which was awesome by the way, we came home to wind down.  Kids went off to bed.  Amber was working on a couple things, and I flipped the TV channels and found “The Legend of Bagger Vance.”  It was about mid-way through, but I didn’t care.  Love that movie, so I kept it there and watched.

If you’re not familiar with the movie, Matt Damon plays a man named Rannulph Junuh from Savannah, GA, who had everything going for him as a golfer and then after losing his entire unit in World War I, even though he was decorated with the Medal of Honor, Junuh was completely lost and taken out, still stuck on the battlefield.  A chance to find his way back to the game comes a decade later to play against two great golfers, Bobby Jones and Walter Hagan.  Along comes Bagger Vance, played by Will Smith.  A simple looking man, who just happened to walk up one night and offered Junuh his services a caddie. It was on from that point and the work began to restore Junuh, not to who he was, but to who he was meant to be.

There’s something very mystical about this movie and one thing that John Eldredge shared at Wild at Heart was that Bagger Vance, in this movie, is the image of the Holy Spirit, looking to restore Junuh to his true self and finding his place in the field, or as we would say, finding himself in Christ.  Bagger counsels and guides Junuh in just the way I see the Holy Spirit working on us in restoring our union with the Father and the Son.  It’s really quite something to see and think about.  Follow-me a little here as I share this.

When Junuh first starts to play in the tournament.  He is terrible and falls 12 strokes behind Jones and Hagan.  He looks to Bagger for help and Bagger offers him little help.  He asks Bagger, “Any ideas?” when Junuh is in a bunker.  Bagger says, “huh..about what?”  Junuh frustrated, just grabs a club and Bagger says, “Yeah, that’s a good one there.”  At this point, Junuh is completely relying on himself.  thinking he can just get back to the way things were.  His game would return to the glory it once was.  Bagger leaves him alone in this self-reliance and Junuh pays for it as his game suffers.  After the round, Bagger tells him, “The Junuh you was, you ain’t never gonna be again; ever.”

This is just how I see the Holy Spirit working in us and restoring us when we are taken out and lost.  Often times we try to get ourselves back on our own.  That’s exactly what I did.  Thinking I could just find my way, find my motivation in life and career again.  I wasted 3 years in doctorate studies and went to different seminars looking for motivation, but nothing doing.  Trying to make it on my own didn’t get me anywhere but back to square one.  This is much the same way that Junuh found himself way behind.

In much the same way as the Holy Spirit, at just the right moment, Bagger says, it’s time.  Time to see the field.  Time find our swing.  Time to find our true self.  Time to find our authentic self and to be who we were created to in Christ.  To “put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” Ephesians 4:24.  Through the next parts of the movie, Junuh leans completely on Bagger, listening to him and all of a sudden, his game returned and he found confidence in himself to maybe win this tournament against to of the worlds greatest golfers.

At one point, Junuh’s old self returns and he becomes over confident in himself again and his game began to crash back down.  At the moment of most desperation, when Junuh is retrieving his ball in the woods, Bagger digs right in.  Takes him back to the moment he lost himself on that battlefield.  Telling him it’s time to let that go.  He says he’s right there with him and that he’s been there all along. Time to let the field choose him and bring out his true, authentic self, but all we have to do is get ourselves out of its way.  In the same way, Christ is choosing us and wants to restore us, if we will get out of our own way and let Him in.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me” Revelation 3:20.  Jesus is there knocking, and ready to come in an restore us.  The Holy Spirit will be there to guide us through the whole thing.  It’s not an easy road and often times, it will be a painful one when we are brought back to the wounds and sins that took us out in the first place.

Jesus came into my heart and restored me over 9 months ago.  The Holy Spirit was with me over the last many years since I was lost and taken out.  He allowed me to go through it on my own at first, but at just the right time, caused me to throw my hand up in that Bible Study to admit I was doing things alone.  Caused me to venture outside my comfort level and head west for a few days. Then when I was at my moment of sheer desperation and pain, Jesus came into those wounds, having already chosen me, but I got out of His way and no longer relied myself.  It was all about Him and His choosing at that point and I’ve been following ever sense.

God wants to restore each and every one of us.  He choose each of us to put on our new nature of Christ.  We just have to get ourselves out of the way and let Him come in to restore us.  He’s there with us all along. He showed me that and just has Bagger told Junuh, “I’ve been right here with you all along.”  He has never given up on us and is waiting on us to open the door.

God Never Gave Up On Me

We’ve all had questions about life.  About who we are.  About why we are here.  We’ve all had doubts about ourselves and about our faith in some capacity and at some point in life.  It’s a part of our nature and a part of who we are a humans.  We are not infallible as some think they are.  We all jack it up at some point or another.  We all give in to temptation at some point or another.  It is a part of endemic sin nature.   It’s who we are.

As I wrote on Monday, we did this thing at Liberty last week called a spiritual life map.  I looked over mine over and over and as we were in class talking through them in practice sessions and discussions, my map revealed something very key to me and to all of us, through all of our doubts, questions, wounds, and sins.  God never once gave up on me.  At point after point I could see where His hands were there.  He brought Amber and me together at the right time.  He blessed us with 3 wonderful kids.  He brought me through the loss of my Dad which happened 6 years ago yesterday.  He used all of those circumstances even when I was not turning to Him, to continue pouring into me.  He used people around me to pour into me in different capacities, even when I didn’t realize it, and it all brought me to the point of complete surrender.

God never gave up on me and guess what, He has not given up on you.  He is eager to pull you back from the brink.  His hands are always there to grab us, even when we keep running from Him.  It takes our willingness to stop and face all of our sins and wounds, lay them at the feet of the cross and chose to live a life for only Him.  He desire that for each one of us, which is why He set aside his deitic privileges to walk as fully human in Jesus and willing give up that life and shed His blood for us.  That is the ultimate symbol of God not giving up on us.  To show that kind of love for us to bring us back to Himself.

When I thought of this last week, this was such a powerful time.  His hands have always been there through the ups and downs.  He never gave up on me and again, He has not given up on you.

Never Knew How Lost I Was

This year, I came to an amazing realization about my life.  I was lost.  I was desperately lost and wandering through each day unsure of myself.  I was coming to know God more steadily as I’ve written a great deal about lately, but still unsure.  Was I truly made new in Christ?  I really didn’t know answer for some time.  I knew that in years past, the answer was no.  Then something happened and God took a hold of my life and my heart on a level that I had never experienced before.  It started while sitting in a Bible study with our mens ministry at my church.  My heart was pierced and I realized I had wandered so far alone that I was just going to continue staying lost if I stayed that way.  A few weeks later, the whole world changed for me.  My view of life, my view of my faith, everything changed.

Until all of this happened, I never knew just how lost I truly was.  It was until I fully surrendered my life that it all became clear.  God showed me where I was off track, pulled me into my pain and brokenness and allowed me the chance to repent and renounce all of that and allow for Christ to restore me as He came to do.

It’s a truly amazing feeling when all of this happens; when your life is taken by storm and Christ opens our eyes (the blind see), opens our ears (the deaf hear), and you come alive and restored (heal the brokenhearted).  The clarity of life is amazing at this point and you truly begin to see that your old and false self for what it truly is.  Becoming a sold out follower of Jesus Christ was and is the only way to truly find your way again and live.

I was talking with a couple of brothers this week, one at service Sunday and then at the gym one morning this week.  We were talking about the desperate need of so many for counseling and restoration.  So many people all around us and some of you reading this may be included, are desperately lost.  You may have some idea of who Christ is, but you don’t fully know Him or have not opened the door to let Him into your heart (I stand at the door and knock).  These types of conversations have allowed me to continue seeing that God is moving me in the right direction to help lead people to discover their brokenness and that they are lost, and be able to find the real healing that is only available in Christ.

I never truly knew how lost I was until I truly found God and I allowed the restoration of Christ.  Wandering through this world without that relationship will only lead to emptiness in the end.  It’s a Truth that none of us are above.  Fortunately there is hope in Christ for ALL who come to Him.

 

Be Still…Clear The Mind

Writing on this blog is something I thoroughly enjoy doing, it feels like a gift that God has blessed me with as He blessed each of us in our own unique way.  I began this blog nearly 3 years ago.  In the first 2 years, I had about 90 posts over that time.  This year alone, God’s Holy Spirit has filled me tremendously and this will be my 81st post since January.  It’s amazing how much God has worked in my life this year alone, especially in my writing.

I sometimes, however will find myself getting so frustrated with myself when I hit the dreaded writers block.  When it seems the ideas just stop and it’s hard where to continue.  If feel like I need to write something, I need to put something out there and yet, I can’t figure out where to go.  I get that sometimes in school papers, which is frustrating, but sometimes it carries to this site and what I am able to write about.  I get those days where things just seem to be flowing and inspired, yet others where nothing seems to flow.

I was sitting with a brother the other day just talking about life, faith, and discipleship.  We both had similar experiences in being able to get away from the norms of life and escape to the wilderness to unplug and spend time with God and with God alone.  I’ve shared my Wild at Heart experiences on numerous occasions since January, but I was reminded of something very important in that conversation.  Sometimes we just need to be still and let our mind clear.  First, the power of this is huge in the rest it can provide, true Sabbath, but also, when we can get to a place in our minds and hearts where we are still, we can begin to hear God through the Holy Spirit and in these moments we can often receive our greatest inspirations.

The trouble today is that we are so busy, every single day, that doing this is hard to do.  We are filled and bombarded with clutter everyday as we live in a world that no longer even honors the Sabbath in anyway truly, and is constantly trying to fill our time up with more tasks, more to dos.  We get too busy.  We try to multi-task, we try to fill our days, thinking if I am busier and busier I am doing the right thing.  But doing so and never taking a time to rest and clear your mind and reset, can kill your soul.

This goes back to my writing.  I found when we hit the summer months, the inspiration was hard to come by.  This is usually are busiest time of year as a family, and constantly being on the go filled my mind with more clutter and it was often difficult to just stop and rest.  This made writing often times challenging, when the inspiration was hard to come by.

This is important for all of us. Rest, renewal, and restoration.  Look at the life of Jesus.  How often did He retreat away from the crowds and His disciples into the wilderness to sit in prayer.  It was necessary for Him and you can bet it is necessary for us.  It’s a vital part of our existence.  God created the Sabbath for us for a reason.  We need that rest.

I challenge you to look at your life and find where you are just cluttered with life.  If you feel bogged down with busyness and the troubles of life, find time to stop.  Even if you get up early in the morning before the day begins.  Before getting on email or social media.  Before turning on the TV.  Before waking up the family.  Take that time to sit in prayer and even in Scripture and writing in a journal.  The power in starting this way is so huge.  Before the chaos of the day begins, set our heart and mind on God alone.  Let your mind clear.  There’s great power in this…trust me.