Tag Archives: Spiritual Warfare

Letting God Forge the Way – The Anvil

I have been very quiet on this site this year as this will be my first post since the new year.  This year started off with a bang as I began my counseling internship in the final phase of my Masters program with Liberty University.  It has been a huge experience so far.  Needless to say, I’ve been a little busy with that.

AnvilThe big thing that has been going on however, is about take place tomorrow.  What began as a conversation over breakfast many months ago has led to the development and now launch of our first Wild at Heart modeled Boot Camp, called The Anvil Men’s Boot Camp.  God put it on my heart well over a year ago, that it was my turn to begin seeking and rescuing the hearts of men.  As time has gone by and as I began to counsel with people, I realized that so many of the problems within families stem from the father in some way, whether he is abusive, completely absent, or present but not present. This pattern is destroying marriages left and right and wounding children by the score.

The need was there, but what would I do about it.  In counseling, many of my clients are women, so getting men to come sit down one-on-one is going to be a challenge.  I realized how huge it was for me to step out of my element and go the Wild at Heart Boot Camp in Colorado a couple of years ago.  We were encouraged to take this message back home.  In the last year, I got to know a few other men who had a similar desire.  2 sages and a peer.

The conversations began.  My peer, friend, and brother, Matt and I started small with a men’s small group where we began to lead men through the Wild at Heart message.  It became evident that something bigger was needed.  I met a man named Butch just by happenstance, and we decided to have breakfast and the conversation began. He is a sage who has a huge passion for men’s ministry as well.  The idea was born.

I pulled in another brother and sage, Steve, who also attended Wild at Heart and is immersed in their ministry as well.  Conversations began to happen and we decided that it was something we had to do, sooner, rather than later.  Only way to learn how was to dive in and give it try.

So that’s where we stood. We knew what we wanted to do, we found the site, and now we needed the men.  Conversations with my friend and pastor, Tim, brought me to begin leading some of our men’s Wednesday night Bible studies.  Again, all of this is out of my element, but I jumped in.

I have to admit, we were skeptics at first.  We knew we would start small and opened it to just 12 attendees. There was skepticism as to whether we would get 6 or 8.  A few weeks later, I’m calling Butch and saying telling him we need a 2nd cabin.  Now with a day to go, we have a 19 men heading to Upstate South Carolina for 4 days with God.  Unreal the response we’ve had and we have more waiting in the wings for next time.

So these last few months in 2017 have been all about planning this event out.  Writing content and coordinating everything.  To see it all come together has been so huge.  I can tell God has been at work in this and we’ve made it a point to surrender it all over to Him and not let this become about any of one us.  We know that if a group a men get together like this, God is certain to show up and He already is.

I knew there would be opposition, but the Enemy has been relentless in his attacks, which tell us even more that we are moving in the right direction.  My family has been attacked relentlessly in the recent weeks.  Stating with physical problems from a baseball to my face, a concussion one week and then a diabetic seizure for one my sons, a large allergic reaction for my daughter, and a stomach bug that hit my oldest son.  All of this has put a huge strain on my bride’s heart and mine as well.  We spent a lot of time holding each other and just letting the tears flow.  We knew what it was though.  Satan was trying to use all of this take us out…to stop this weekend from happening.

We have flipped it on him and surrendered it all to God.  The suffering is hard, but nothing in comparison to Christ and we know this.  We just turned to prayer and have had an army of prayer around us, which has pulled us through all of that in ways we couldn’t have imagined a few years ago.

southeastern-expeditionsSo now we’re ready.  All the content is written.  Final details are being nailed down and tomorrow we head to the mountains.  We’ll have some great times of learning and fellowship and times of one-on-one with God, and some adventure on the Wild and Scenic Chattooga River, yes where they filmed Deliverance.  Hopefully no banjos on the shoreline.  Just kidding.

We’re just so pumped about this.  About the men willing to take the risk to head into the wilderness and we sit in eager anticipation and expectation of God’s goodness.  I know He is up to something big here and can’t wait to see what happens in the lives of these men, who range from 20 to their 60s, and then how their families, our church family, and community is impacted.  It’s all about God and He gets all of the glory here.

As Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

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Stuck In False Comparison

Every story is unique.  Every individual is unique.  It’s pretty cool to see stories play out in the lives of others and to hear the stories that people have lived out up to now and where they are going.  Each of our stories takes a unique pathway that is only unique to us and how God created us to be.  There is a trap that many of us fall into however.  That is the trap of comparing our story to someone else and even wishing we could have a piece of that story.

Tonight I was sitting in a the men’s Bible Study at my church and we continued through a series on The Greater Adventure that Robert Lewis developed.  We are nearing the end of this teaching and this evening we began to talk defining moments in our lives.  There are many that I can point to in my own life.  Some huge ones in the past couple years and many going all the way back, some are tragic and some are great.

During this study, it was shown that part of putting this adventure together is setting time to reflect on our unique design.  Something came to me that I remember Morgan Snyder teaching on at the Become Good Soil Intensive and that was dealing with a spirit of false comparison.  How often have you tried looking at your story and then began to compare yourself to others?  Have you ever seen someone else’s story and thought to yourself, “I sure wish that was a part of my story.” “I sure wish I had a career like that.”  “I wish I was as great a husband and/or dad as that man is, or appears to be.”  There’s something in each of us, in our false self that often falls into this trap of comparison.  Maybe it’s not even wishing that you had a part of another story.  Maybe it’s diminishing your own story, thinking it’s not has significant as another person.  Morgan shared that in this spirit of false comparison we compare part of our story to part of another man story.

I love this teaching, because it’s been so helpful for me, as I have fallen in this trap of false comparison.  What was revealed and only after continued review of the teaching and then in reflecting on the study tonight did it sink in that God only tells us our own story.  My story is my own.  Psalm 139, “You have examined my heart and know everything about me….You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb”  This is so helpful to remember and think about.

Morgan adds in this teaching that once you get visibility on another man’s story, you realize that you don’t want any other man’s story but your own.  Nobody gets everything and it costs everyone something.  Meaning that nobody has it all figured out.  No matter how good someone story looks on the surface, there is always going to be something there, that you will realize that you don’t to have any part of, just has there is something in your story that others would not want to have any part of.  Just know this, it is so easy to get caught up in comparison and I’m so glad that the Father clarified this even more tonight.  So much so, I had to log on and write about it.  My story is unique to me, just as your story is unique to you.  Your story is the best story for your own heart, uniquely designed and woven by God himself.

When you get this and when you realize the power in this, this sets you up for even more freedom.  We can then stop worrying about the wrong things and begin to shift the focus more inward and truly get a clarifying view of the beauty of our own unique design.  Just to know that God loved you enough to make you in His own image, but designed with your own unique design and flavor.  How cool is that?  Why would you even want to have any part of something that God did not uniquely create in you and for you.

This is so helpful to remember.  You are unique to you and nobody else.  You don’t want any part of another’s story.  It was not a part of your fearfully and wonderfully made unique design.  All it does it feed a foolish habit that promotes envy and competition and begins to feed into feelings of our own inferiority which as mentioned before causes us to diminish ourselves.  Avoid that trap and don’t allow yourself to get stuck in a spirit of false comparison.

Don’t Stretch Yourself Thin – Self and Soul Care

It feels like it’s been forever since my last post.  I looked and realized that it had been almost a month and now a I look and we’ve entered fall (although it hasn’t yet felt like it in Georgia), and we’re just a few days from October.  The month of September has just flow by and so much has happened in such a short period of time.  I was on the road for two weeks, first to Liberty University for my final on campus intensive, and then over the pond to London for a week of work.  First trip over and it was a worthwhile trip.

In the midst of all if this, I begin to enter my Practicum/Internship phase of my Masters program.  With that we officially rolled out our new counseling ministry where I will base my work as a counselor, especially in the early phases.  A lot going on and then this week I begin co-leading a new men’s discipleship group.  I share all of this activity with one key point that continues to ring through my head and heart.  “Don’t forget to take care of your self.”As Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart…”

I know I’ve written about soul/self-care before, but I can’t reiterate just how important it is.  I went to my bride, Amber, this morning and said to her, “With all of the counseling and new ministry work that is coming along, please tell me if I begin to let it take over too much and if it is taking away from my time with you and the kids.”  One of the key things I’ve heard in my studies is that counselors and many in ministry as well, are horrible at self-care.  Burnout begins to set in, and then we have nothing else to offer.

selfcare-01bI’m in a season of transition right now, so there is a lot going on, but I don’t think it’s any mistake that God led me back to the mountains this year with Become Good Soil, where self-care was one of the key topics.  I feel that God is definitely teaching me to remember Him and to guard my heart through all of this work.  I’m fixing to take on the weight of so many people’s wounds and sufferings.  It’s not my weight to bear, though.

There’s a song by Will Reagan and United Pursuit that came on one morning while I was in Virginia early this month.  The song is called, ‘Take a Moment.’  The lyrics go as follows:

Take a moment to remember
Who God is and who I am
There You go lifting my load again

No longer am I held by
The yoke of this world
Come up under the yoke of Jesus
His yoke is easy and His burden is so light

I hear that song that morning and then that morning in class, our professor stopped her lecture to focus solely on self-care for a bit.  She realizes how important it is.  This just blew my mind when I hear this song and then that topic that morning.  The burden of other is not mine.  I have to remember who I am and who God is.  The burden was laid a feet of Jesus, at the Cross.
I write this, this morning as a reminder to myself and to share with all of you as well.  We can’t just take on so much that we lose ourselves.  We will kill our hearts and having nothing to offer anyone around us.
I sit in amazement of God as I think about this and how He continues to remind me of this important category.  Self-care and soul-care.  I was praying about this is morning and writing this post came to mind and then I read the latest blog post from John Eldredge at Ransomed Heart, and God just totally blew me away with this.  John wrote a whole post on soul care in the midst of the loss of Craig McConnell, who went home last month.  John writes:

“Soul care” is not a category for most people. They don’t plan their week around it. Maybe it feels unnecessary; maybe it feels indulgent. It certainly wasn’t a category for me for too many years. But my friends, the harsh reality is this: life is probably going to get worse on this planet before it gets better; all signs indicate it is getting worse at an alarming rate. “If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?” (Jeremiah 12:5). In other words, if you think this is hard, wait till the dog squat really hits the fan.

We are going to want our souls strong and ready for the days ahead, not weary and weak. We are going to need our souls strong. So we must practice soul care. I, for one, am trying to make room for it as part of my “routine.” It really is helping.

We are going to want our souls strong and ready.  Reading this I was just like, whoa…I hear you God.  It’s so easy to take on more and more, but I am reminded continually that I can only take on so much before I run the risk of taken out.  Busyness kills intimacy and union with God and with those import to me, especially my family.
The bottom line is this.  Don’t stretch yourself so thin and stuff your time so full that you forget about yourself.  The enemy is prowling like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  If we are so caught up in doing more and more and more, we can’t guard hearts from attack and the enemy will find a foothold to setup shop.
This myth of busyness and multitasking is another tool of the enemy to take us out.  It leads us further away from intimacy with God, which leads closer to sin.  Take time to care for yourself.  Open up your calendar.  There is room, I don’t care what anyone else says.  There is time.  As Dallas Willard says, “Time is made, not found.”  You can make the time for yourself and for your time with God.
Don’t forget about your heart in the midst of all the busyness of this world.

Back-to-Back with Swords Drawn

I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on my marriage.  Actually, I do that a lot.  It blows my mind that Amber and I are now in our 20th year of marriage.  We’ve been through so many ups and downs together over these last many years.  We’ve had our share of disagreements and many, many more moments of just pure joy of being in each others company.  I’ve been blessed over the last couple of years to primarily work from my house.  One thing that never gets old is spending our days together.  I get to talk to my wife while I’m working and spend day after day in her company, which I cherish.

I look all around us, and I see just how lucky we are.  We’ve seen marriage after marriage around us crumble or those that have already in the past.  It saddens us to see.  I was remembering words from the character, Nathan, in the movie ‘Courageous.’  He said something to the effect that divorce is so rampant because people “make it option.”  I have never understood why this is such a widespread epidemic.  It’s so easy to just call it quits now.

I realize that this is such a problem, obviously because of our fallenness, but also that when we hit road blocks in marriage we feel like there’s no way through.  Amber and I are beginning to read through the book ‘Love and War’ by John and Stasi Eldredge.  Early in the book there is something that is so widespread true where they share…

51ws2bvvfc5l-_sx331_bo1204203200_“Everybody who has been married knows this. Though years into marriage it still catches us off guard, all of us. And newly married couples, when they discover how hard it is, then seem genuinely surprised. Shocked and disheartened, by the fact. Are we doing something wrong? Did I marry right person? The sirens that lure us into marriage — romance, love, passion, sex, longing, companionship — seem so far from the actual reality of married life we fear we have made a colossal mistake, caught the wrong, bus, missed our flight…Maybe it’s just us…Nope. THIS IS EVERYONE (emphasis added).”

Marriage is full of its ups and downs and I think the picture of so many marriages failing and couples falling away from each other is the very image of man falling away from God when things don’t go our way.  How easy is it for us to turn from God and move further away from Him, when we feel hurt or experience pain and trauma in life.  We make it an option.

There’s a chapter in ‘Love and War,’ that while we haven’t read it yet, the title says a lot about who we are to be in marriage.  Back-to-Back with Swords Drawn.  It’s a given that there is going to be so much in our lives that is going to try to eat into our marriage and tear us apart.  Just as the evil one wants to pull you further from God, he wants to do the same to your marriage will use all kinds of tactics to do so.  This could be boredom and complacency, temptation of looking for that golden man or woman, financial problems, toxic soul ties with people around you both, and a host of other problems.  In marriage, you have to stand back-to-back and shoulder-to-shoulder ready to battle together against anything that will try to tear your marriage apart.

John and Stasi share something else on the same page regarding the struggles we face in marriage…

“For heaven’s sake, bring together a man and a woman – two creatures who think; act, and feel so differently you would think they’d come from separate solar systems – and ask them to get along for the rest of their lives under the same roof. That is like taking Cinderella and Huck Finn, tossing them in a submarine, and closing the hatch. What did you think would happen?

I love this, because it’s so true.  There are many that have the expectation that they should always get along when they marry, but as we all know, who have been there, it just won’t be the case.

In my home, I have all kinds of books and things I am reading or I use for my counseling studies and research.  We have a sitting area in our master bedroom and there is a chair and ottoman.  I have a habit of leaving my books stacked there where I can easily get to them when I need them.  Amber can’t stand it, to put it bluntly.  For our sake, I agreed to move them the other day.  The point is this, we just see it differently, but that’s okay.  It’s a matter of how we deal with it.marriage

Amber and I, just as with any marriage out there, are in this together.  Back-to-back with swords drawn.  The thing with the books stacked may seem so petty, but trust me, it can blow up in bigger things if you let it. One thing that can never NOT happen in marriage is communication.  Amber and I talk about everything.  She knows my heart and I know hers.  That’s what has helped us collaborate through our marriage and make it through the storms that have come along.  We fight through everything together.  So many times we’ve seen marriages fall apart, this key thing, communication is the one thing that was non-existent.

If you allow the enemy to setup shop in any part of your marriage, he will pry at you to tear you apart.  Don’t give him that foothold.

You are in two covenants in this life.  One is with God, through death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ.  The only other one is your marriage.  A covenant is not a contract.  A contract is all about what is in it for you.  A covenant all about what you can bring to the relationship.  God desires to surrender your full self in relationship with Him and surrender yourself to your marriage to serve one another.

Don’t make divorce an option.  If you are finding trouble that seems so hard to get through, know that you’re not the first and there is a way through.  Work through it together and if need be, seek out a counselor to help you both walk through it together.  Back-to-back and should-to-shoulder with swords drawn, you can fend off the all that is thrown your way.

Been Pissed at God?

This is a subject that has dwelled in my heart for the last couple of months.  I wanted to write about it, but was not fully sure how to really do so.  When I was at the Become Good Soil Intensive in May, one of the things that came about through my mentors was in my own brokenness was whether I was willing to forgive God, knowing that God didn’t need forgiving.  It through me for a loop at first, but in prayer I did just that, to be forgiven and to forgive.  I pondered it for a while and then at the end of June, the subject came up again and this time with a little more fire.

I was on campus for a group counseling class and in the midst of sessions, the idea of being pissed at God.  I stepped in and mentioned my dad’s death nearly seven years ago, and although I never said it out loud at the time, I was exactly that.  I didn’t know how to process it all.  At the same time, everything from my religious marinade in me said this was not something you shared.  You can’t be pissed at God, or at least can’t say it.

angerBut when this was shared, it almost felt like a weight lifted off of the class and group as one-by-one, more people were willing to share their own emotion in this regarding their brokenness and that they too, were also pissed at God at their time.  I shared this last night in our men’s ministry study.  People realized that it’s okay, even though we were at this big Christian university share that emotion.  God is a big enough God to handle our raw emotion.  Last night, we were talking about a young-man at our church whose dad died in his arms when he was 12, and in sharing his story with the whole church Sunday, he let it be known that he was pissed at God too.

This emotion is okay.  It goes to our brokenness and flesh nature that when bad things happen in our lives that are out of our control, we are quick to blame someone in our anger and all too often, it gets directed at God.  For the two years after my Dad’s death, I did just that.  I was 31 when he died and I spent the next two years lost and angry and boy did I hide it well, even posing that faith and prayer was getting me through it all.  Total B/S.

God did something though, that I never expected.  He loved me through all of it.  I was not searching for answers from Him, but He continued to pursue me.  2 years after his death, God thwarted me again.  In my own desire to figure out direction my life, I stumbled across an app on my phone that many of us use.  The Bible app from YouVersion.  He had also led me to meet my now friend and pastor, Tim which led us to visit where he was pastoring, and is now our home.  I opened up the Word and begin to read.  Starting with daily devotionals and then I began to just read from Genesis to Revelation, day-after-day.  It was a start.istock_000005343680xsmall-425x270

I was reminded that things like what happened to my dad, or this kid’s dad, or any other tragedy or wound, reminds us that we are not in control.  We don’t like to admit things are out of our control, but it’s a fact.  Everything that occurs in this life is caused or allowed by God.  He knows every little thing that happens and cares about everything that happens to us.  I was led to Matthew 10:29-31, and this is Peterson’s translation in The Message. “What’s the price of a pet canary? Some loose change, right? And God cares what happens to it even more than you do. He pays greater attention to you, down to the last detail – even number the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries.

We can be angry with God, and yet at some point, we have to accept the fact that there many things out of our control.  1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face.  All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.

I love that.  God will never let you down.  He’ll be there to love us and pull us through our times of pain, even when we are pissed at Him.  We have to be willing to turn His way and allow Him to Father us through our pain and grow us up a bit too.  We’re going to have pain, we’re going to experience trauma in life and sometimes, although misdirected, will direct our emotion and blame at God.  God will love you through it.  You’re worth more to Him than a million canaries.  He knows and cares about every aspect of our lives.

We have to choose to surrender to His sovereignty. To acknowledge that He is in control and trust what He doing in your life.  I sat in a class room with 40 something other future counselors and God is using each of us through our story and restoration.  I was in the mountains of Colorado with 47 other world-changing men, all of whom had trauma and brokenness of all kinds and yet, God was present with each of us and is using us.  This young-man at church has been on a broken and restorative journey since his dad died and yet God is using Him as well.cry-out-to-god

God will use us in our brokenness, pain, and anger.  It takes time to be restored, but when we reach that full surrender, you see it all, even the brokenness and trauma through a whole new lens.  It is trans-formative.  Romans 12 says, “You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you and quickly respond to it.  Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of maturity. God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. (MSG)”

He will love you through your anger and will mature you out of it.  If you’ve been pissed at God before or even now, it’s okay to be, but how you respond from there and letting Him begin a work in you will make the difference in where things go from here.

Don’t Allow The Enemy a Foothold

As I prepare for my trip to Colorado in 2 weeks, one of the many things they asked us to do is to re-read John Eldredge’s book, Wild at Heart.  When I first saw this on the list, I thought, “really?”.  I’ve already read it 3 times over the past couple of years.  After going through some of the other things, I picked the book back up again began to read it once more.  After not reading it for a year and half, I was immediately sucked in again.  The reason being is the practical teaching that Eldredge placed in this book.

41ebvat8gvl-_sy344_bo1204203200_My last post a couple of week’s ago, I wrote about the Father’s restoration.  I thought more about that as I read through this book. I’m on the last couple of chapters now.  I realize just how desperately I needed restoration again and how complacent I was getting in my own spiritual discipline.  Life moves so quickly, so fast, and mine is no exception.  I’ve been on such a fast track that I think my time with God became more of an obligation, than a full on desire to be with God and walk with Him.  It really hit me yesterday, when I was sitting in prayer and a million thoughts began to run through my head, distracting me.  Later I was sitting and reading the book again and on the first page I was on, it talked about this very thing, being in prayer and just consumed with so many other things.

In essence, this is a battle that the Enemy is waging against us.  Knowing you’re trying to speak with the Father, the Enemy immediately thwarts us in some way.  I recognized that this was once again, another one of his tactics to distance me from the Father.  Satan will try in every way he can to pull you way from the Father.  William Gurnall stated, “It is the image of God reflected in you that so enrages hell, it is this at which the demons hurl their mightiest weapons.

So what do we do with all of this?  How in the world do we handle this?  Knowing we are in a world at war.  Knowing as Jesus said, that thief wants to kill and steal and destroy.  Knowing as Peter stated that our adversary, the devil, prowls around the world, looking for someone to devour.  What do we do?  Discipline!  Being disciplined every day to walk with God, not out of a sense of obligation, but from the reality that we are in a world at war and we need to be able to stand strong and firm in the faith of who we are in Christ.

Spiritual discipline seems so hard for many of us though.  John wrote, “A man will devote long hours to his finances when he as a goal of an early retirement; he’ll endure rigorous training when he aims to run a 10k or even a marathon.  The ability to discipline himself is there, but dormant for many of us.”  In essence, although it requires work, when we have our own goals in life, we can find a way to discipline ourselves to attain those goals.  The Father has the goal of walking intimately with each and everyone of us.  It’s readily available to us, yet we find it so difficult to do.  We don’t want to get up in the morning.  We don’t feel the sense of connection with the Father when try praying or reading Scripture.

This may, for many of us, be easier said than done, but we have to become more intentional, more disciplined through real prayer, meditation, fasting, submission, journaling, and studying of Scripture.  All of these disciplines coincide together.  If we don’t get intentional about how we walk with God and if we don’t stay on alert through this armored with the full Armor of God, which He has given us, the Enemy will easily gain a foothold in our hearts and find a way to take us out.armor-of-god_seriesbutton2_raster_web

Eldredge wrote, “Against the Evil One we wear the armor of God.  That God has provided weapons of war for us sure makes a lot more sense if our days are like a scene from Saving Private Ryan.”  God has given us the armor for a reason.  This is no fairy tale we live in.  Don’t live in fear of the Enemy, but rather live with a sense of knowing he is there and wants in every way to destroy your connection with the Father, through lies, deceit, pain, and struggles.  Being disciplined enough to prepare yourself each day and not walk through this world, blind to this reality will help you stand stronger.

This armor is what you need and you need to pray it over your life every day, authentically. Put on the belt of truth, choosing to live a life of honesty and integrity, the breastplate of righteousness, knowing that His righteousness can stand against any condemnation and corruption, the shoes of the Gospel of peace, choosing to live for the Gospel at any moment.  He has given us a shield of faith to deflect the arrows that the Enemy will try to fire our way.  Those arrows come in the form of wounds, sin, agreements, and anything else meant to draw you from God.  We have the helmet of salvation, which declares nothing can now separate us from love of Christ and our place in His Kingdom. Lastly, we have the sword of the Spirit, through which the Holy Spirit reveals God’s truth’s through His Word to enable you to counter the assaults of the Enemy.

Being disciplined and intentional enough each day to walk with God and pray His full armor over your life, will help you to be prepared for the onslaught that is to come.  We will continue to be attacked.  Look around you.  People we love are being taken out everyday.  It’s a reality.  We have to be prepared and discipline ourselves to truly walk in this reality and walk with the Father allowing Him to come over our lives to Father us and guide us in the way we should go.  It’s a daily struggle.  Don’t let complacency set in.

Taking Ownership

There’s been a thought that has been on my mind quite a bit these last days.  That’s the idea of personal responsibility.  This is something that seems to be lacking so much in this new entitlement culture that has been created today.  Nothing seems to be of our own doing.  The same can be said for our struggles, sins, and wounds.  Yes, we have wounds in our lives that can have a drastic effect on lives.  Yes, we live in a world that is steadfastly set against our faith and are fighting an enemy in Satan that, as Jesus says, wants to steal and kill and destroy our hearts and pull us further away from God each and every day.

With all of the things that can come against us in this life, it’s so easy to forget our responsibility in it all and that we have a choice in how we choose to respond to struggle.  There is a way to respond and although it may not always be easy to do so, sometimes the most difficult decisions and responses are the ones most needed.  The key is choosing to take ownership of the problems you’ve faced and bad decisions you’ve made in order to move beyond them in freedom.  Not with band-aid solutions, but with real mind and heart renewal.

7b3d3a4d27-f9d2-449c-81fd-4a49f805e6fb7dimg400Dr. Larry Crabb writes in his book, ‘The Marriage Builder,’ “I am unalterably opposed to any line of thinking that undermines the concept of personal responsibility, and I find myself in general agreement with those who insist people are accountable for choosing godly responses to life’s situations.”  It’s amazing how true I have found this to become.  Many people are stuck in the the feeling of ‘woe is me’ and do not try to discover ways to deal with the their sins and wounds in a responsible and godly way.

thingswelearn-01-2I remember being out at Wild at Heart and I was in deep prayer just dealing with my wounds and sins.  I had a couple of guys join me to pray over me and the one thing that really stuck to me, going beyond just allowing Jesus into my wounds was the prayer and encouragement to forgive myself for allowing those things to hold me captive for so long.  I had to also take ownership of the decisions I made that were done in a way that ran from God rather than going to where He wanted me to go.  The Lord was calling for a reinterpretation of everything to understand that this was not just on others, it was on me as well.  Actually most of it was, because, although I did not know better, I did not choose to respond in a godly way before.

Crabb goes on to further write that, “Because our human nature is stained in every part by sin, the work of sanctification is no simple matter of ‘don’t do it your way, do it God’s way’…Merely changing what we do will not change who we are. The cure for selfishness and fear that control so much of what we do cannot be reduced to shallow solutions…We need to understand the wrong goals we have set, honestly face how we feel, and deal with our sinful and painful emotions in a way that reflects our confidence in God’s unconditional acceptance.”

Dealing with our emotions in a a way that reflects our confidence in God’s unconditional acceptance.  This such a key thing.  If we choose to sulk and choose to not move beyond our past sins an struggles, no matter how much we say we believe, it is showing that we do not have confidence in God’s unconditional acceptance.  As my pastor says, I’m thankful to have a God that gives second, third, fifth, and tenth chances.  We can spend so much of our God’s running from God and not trusting in Him and His grace.  We can spend years of our lives blaming everybody else for our struggles and not doing anything to move beyond them.

Let me tell you something…and this comes from real life, personal experience. Taking real ownership of my sins, wounds, and bad decisions and then turning all that to Jesus in full repentance, allowing His full restoration of my heart and mind each day, has given me so much clarity to see that I have a real choice in how I respond to my own junk and everything else in this life.  I can either sulk and have a poor me attitude, or I can choose to have a godly response that does not let any of it define me.  My identity in Christ now, not in my former self and the same can be said for everyone, if you choose to turn to Him in real faith.

The bottom line is to renew your heart and mind.  You have a role to play in altering where your story goes.  You can easily choose the path that blames your past and the rest of the world, but you can also choose to truly allow Christ to set you free from that.  Is it always easy, NO.  You will fight it all the time, but when your thoughts are renewed truly in Christ, you will find it so much easier to not let that junk hold you captive, but rather respond in a godly manner, repent fully, and move forward in real freedom.  As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:11, “When I was child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I become a man, I did away with childish things.”  When we learn to truly renew our minds and the way we respond to struggles, we do away with the habits of the old self that are in spiritual adolescents and move forward with greater maturity.