Creativity

Creative Christians: If you are totally abandoned to the will of God for your life, your abilities are just expressions of yourself to God. The stuff you don’t do out of strife, or competition, or as a discipline, but you do out of passion and desire for God – if someone rejects that, they are rejecting the Father.

God isn’t impressed by man, talent, or form; He is impressed with your heart. Maybe your worship style will become the form one day. You played the banjo and the fire fell, and now everyone plays the banjo; forms start from people seeking God. He’s not impressed with cds, music industry, art sales, or forms; He is impressed with the heart of His sons and daughters. Has strife and competition broken off of you, and are you free? Has rejection shut you down or do you still have a unique fingerprint?

We’re so independent in our culture, most of us can’t even choose what we like. Most people have to be told what they like. Break out of deception and realize that Father God is pleased with you, gave you freedom, creativity, and uniqueness. He loves those things, and you are not rejected by Him. Flowing, in the creative gifts He gave you, has purpose. Don’t let man shut that down. Flow creativity flow #JasonUpton

Jason Upton – teaching & worship session

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Anxiety & Depression – Distorted Thinking Patterns

crazyMany of us have distorting thinking patterns. We haven’t yet renewed our minds. We have stinkin’ thinkin’ that keeps us in anxiety, depression, negativity, and sickness.

Below are 10 types of distorted thinking patterns.

Negative feelings come from negative thinking, so by monitoring your feelings you will eventually be able to figure out which thoughts and beliefs trigger your anxiety. The first step is to identify the trigger. Most people have thought these ways their whole lives, but God says, ‘Take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ (2Cor.10:5).’ Put your thoughts on trial, convict them, and reprogram them with God’s Word. The mind set on the Spirit brings life and peace. ‘Let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on the new nature created to be like God–truly righteous and holy (Eph.4:21-24).’ Your thinking is vital to your spiritual life as breathing is to your physical life.


Distorted thinking patterns:

think1. ‘What if’ thinking

What if I lose my job? What if I lose my home? What if my children get hooked on drugs? What if my spouse is cheating on me?

‘What if’ thinking breeds anxiety and fear. Sometimes this even turns into a self fulfilling prophecy. If you treat someone like they are cheating on you, they might eventually just start doing so. If you focus on ‘what if’, your fear grows. If you focus on God’s Word, your fear goes. Learn to replace ‘what if’ with what God’s Word says: God always causes me to triumph. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. If God be for me, who can be against me?

2. Catastrophizing

worryThe mind magnifies unpleasant events and transforms them into something more awful, terrible, or horrible than they really are. Making a mountain out of a molehill. It’s like spending $10 dollars on a 2¢ problem.

Like pouring lighter fluid on a flame, they use extreme words like hopeless, terrible, unbearable, devastating. These words fuel the anxiety. The only way to put out the fire is to eliminate inflammatory words from your vocabulary and replace them with more practical, realistic, and less emotionally charged words, such as unfortunate, inconvenient, or difficult.  Stop the drama. I choose faith-building words because ‘we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God (Rom.8:28)’. Practice this pattern of thinking until it becomes automatic, making it a habit and mind-set.

3. Habitually expecting the worst outcome

worryThey usually think if something can go wrong it will, and it will happen to me. ‘My boss didn’t acknowledge me today, so I’m sure she hates me and will probably fire me.’ ‘My husband is late for dinner, I’m sure he is having an affair.’

Realize that when you repeatedly think about something, you create the potential for these thoughts to become self-fulling. Especially if you treat someone as if they are already doing what you fear, it makes them more likely to go ahead and do it. Instead of expecting the worst possible outcome, begin to expect something good to happen to you. Confess God’s Word, ‘No evil will befall my family or me, nor will any plague come newer my dwelling (Ps.91:10).’ Expect God to do something good, and your faith will release a blessing.

4. Leaping to conclusions

needsThey mistakingly believe that they know what another person is thinking without having any facts to support it. They repeatedly and habitually make negative assumptions that fuel depression and anxiety.

You walk in a restaurant and find two friends eating lunch; you see them whisper and immediately assume they have abandoned your friendship and are badmouthing you.

Begin to identify when you are jumping to conclusions. Challenge yourself to expect the best of the other person. Instead of becoming anxious about things you don’t even know are real, determine to wait until you have more information before drawing a conclusion. ‘I am ever ready to expect the best of every person (1Cor.13:7).’

5. Black and white thinking 

perfectionismYou can’t see grey. You are probably a perfectionist that thinks their work is flawless or worthless. You see average as complete failure. You think first place is the only winning spot and every thing else is a loser.

This distortional thought pattern sets you up for failure, disappointment, depression, and anxiety. You will work endless hours to make something perfect, or will procrastinate and never finish because if it’s not perfect, you feel worthless. Also, if you struggle with perfectionism, you will need to watch that you don’t fall into the trap of comparisons. ‘Learn to be content with whatever you have (Phil.4:11).’ Quit focusing on what you don’t have, and start thanking God for what you do have. Choose to love yourself, forgive yourself, and accept yourself unconditionally, even if you make a mistake.

6. Unenforceable rules

nowTrapping in anxiety, they make rigid rules about what should, must, or ought to be done, and tries to put people in a box. The more unrealistic and unenforceable the rules are, the greater the disappointment. ‘They should stop cutting me off in traffic.’ Situations, people, and society aren’t usually going to turn out in your favor. The only should statement you need is ‘I should practice mercy and forgiveness’. ‘Love keeps no records of wrongs’, so I throw out my record-keeping book. Eliminate should statements and use I would like to or I prefer.

7. Labeling

‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me’ is absolutely false. We need to eliminate labeling words from our vocabulary, such as idiot, loser, klutz, failure, stupid, pathetic, pitiful, jerk. Labels destroy self-esteem, self-worth, and as a result many never accept love. ‘Life and death are in the power of the tongue.’ Choose to see yourself and others the way God sees them. He calls me ‘the apple of His eye,’ ‘His beloved,’ ‘His child’.

8. Negative Filter

capableThis person usually discounts all information that is positive. They discredit compliments. They remember mainly criticisms and negative information. They focus on the bad while the good slips away. These ‘pit thinkers’ usually overgeneralize, taking one bad circumstance and believing its it the trend of how your life will proceed. They use words like always and never. ‘I will always be like this.’ ‘I will never change.’ Stop using absolute words that set you up for failure. Try to enjoy the next compliment you receive. Practice eating the meat and spitting out the bones. Remember that God Himself forgives and forgets our failures. ‘Think about those things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy (Phil.4:8).’ Filter the news, tv shows, music you listen to. If anything falls short of every criterion, refuse to watch, think, or speak it.

9. Emotional reasoning

graceThis person feels like their feelings are facts. If they feel hopeless about an exam, they might not even show up to take it. They give up because their emotions make them feel defeated. The healthy thinker separates emotions from their overall self-worth. They realize that despite how they are feeling, they can change the outcome of the situation.

Realize that negative feelings are a sign that you are thinking negative, depressing thoughts. You need to immediately tune in to the thoughts or beliefs that are at the root of the emotion and simply change the channel of your mind to the one of gratitude. I will not be influenced by my emotions or feelings, because ‘the just shall live by faith (Heb.10:38).’ ‘Let us not weary in doing well: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not (Gal.6:9).’

10. The blame game

Many are stuck in a trap of blaming others or God. This creates a vicious circle of thinking and feelings that leads to anger, resentment, bitterness, depression, and anxiety. People with a victim mentality fit within this group of faulty thinkers. They feel like everything bad that happens to them is someone else’s fault. Blame locks you into the past; it prevents you from examining yourself, recognizing, and removing thought patterns and mind-sets that continue to sabotage your life. Learn to take responsibility for yourself, forgive yourself and others, and refuse to blame anyone. Forgiveness is a choice not a feeling. ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.’ Refuse to rehash any hurt or pain.


mistakeTestimony: I remember when I started trying to reprogram my mind. Every single thought I had was negative. I put a list of these 10 concepts on my dashboard, and memorized them. I started pinpointing them and trying to refuse the negative thoughts. In the beginning I could hardly keep out a negative thought for a whole second. Just like any goal, you have to do some work. Lifting weights will wear you out, but the next time you go, you are stronger. You can work your way up to 2 seconds without negativity. Maybe you can start to think one positive thought; try to convince yourself that it is true. At least believe that God’s Word is true and quote those over yourself. Keep going! It’s been a year, or two, and I am completely changed. I can’t stand hearing a single negative comment. After coming out from under nearly 25 years of negativity, I truly have a distaste for it. I am free, positive, and know God’s plan for me is good. I can see myself through His eyes, and I can see bad situations through His eyes. IT. IS. SO. WORTH. IT. Don’t give up.

distorted thinking

healthy thinking


Worship: Emma, by Jason Upton: Trusting The Angels

facePrayer: God, thank you for creating us and saying ‘It is good’. Restore us back to our factory settings. Help us once again submit our will, ways, and thinking to your ways which bring health and wholeness. Thank you for being the great physician, our healer, and therapist. Thank you Spirit for being our counselor and teacher. Thank you Jesus for setting the example and giving us authority. Help us take dominion over our own minds and submit them to your kingdom instead of this world which bring such distorted thinking. Everything out from under your authority is in rebellion and chaos. We want to overcome the enemies of anxiety and depression. Go to this generation now and tear down the spirits exalted above it. Let the knowledge of you cover the earth as the sea. Stay the death angel and deliver your people from their slavery; free their minds. Bring them out of bondage. Let this generation x, that the world thought would be the dog, rise to be the head and not the tail. Bring transformation to their minds, and to the world. Wrap them up in a cocoon of your Words and see them through this transformation where they will no longer crawl, but sprout wings, in Jesus name, Amen.


For more on this topic get the book:

Bible Cure for Anxiety

7 Quotes from the Cross

Jesus went through His worst day, to help you through yours. When we go through junk, it makes us masters and gives us wisdom for those going through the same struggles. In one day Jesus was emotionally distraught to the point of sweating blood, was physically beaten, strung up naked for public humiliation, rejected by all his friend, suffered the most agonizing death, and yet he still perfectly taught us how to get through a bad day. He said 7 things on the cross, and all of them are significant for us today:

  1. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke23:34)
  2. “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” ( Luke23:39-43)
  3. “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” (John19:25-27)
  4. “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?” (Matt.27)
  5.  “I’m thirsty.” (John19:29)
  6. “It is finished.” (John19:30)
  7.  “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke23:44-46)

Fix your Eyes on Jesus– Heb. 12:2 (MSG) – keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.


1. On your worst day, forgive people
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke23:34)

– Eph. 6:12 – we struggle not against flesh and blood but evil forces in the spirit realm.

If you need someone to be mad at, get mad at the devil.

Leave It, or be a Slave to ItForgiveness is not:
1) Minimizing the seriousness of the offense
2) Instant restoration of trust
3) Resuming the relationship without changes

We need to forgive because:
1) Our own emotions can’t be healed from the pain until we let go of it
2) Everyone has done something wrong
3) If we can’t forgive, we can’t be forgiven by God or man
4) Jesus forgave us
5) The people who hurt us were victims too


2. On your worst day, help someone else
“Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” ( Luke23:39-43)

Criminal on Cross– Luke 23:39-43 – One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? “And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

Jesus was dying on the cross, and He didn’t fear piling on more rejection from people, or harm from the soldiers – He still spoke the truth. He talked to the two criminals hanging next to Him. It was a 50/50 shoot. He took the chance and He saved one! One criminal accepted Jesus as his savior. The other, more or less, said, ‘Get yourself off the cross and I’ll believe what you have to say; why should I trust you if you are in the same position I’m in?’ It didn’t faze Jesus.

Help othersWe feel like we don’t have the right to try to help others when we are going through the same struggle that they are. Jesus shows us otherwise. On your worst day, and in the middle of your worst situation, you can still speak Life to someone else. ‪It probably comforted Jesus to have a friend hanging there next to Him, going through the same pain He felt; especially after all his so-called friends had rejected Him that day. It’s easy to say ‘I can’t take anymore’, but what if helping someone else is God’s way of lifting our pain? Taking our mind off our own problems can ease our anxiety. Seeing someone else go through the same struggle can give us a different perspective that can help us. There are countless ways that God uses helping others, to help ourselves.

– 2 Cor. 1:3-4 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

– Col. 3:12 – Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.


3. On your worst day, take care of those who are important to you
“Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” (John19:25-27)

Jesus helps Mary from the cross– John 19:25-27 – Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

Joseph, Mary’s husband, was dead and Jesus, her son, was dying. Jesus’ situation was really bad, but He still did what it took to take care of those He loved; even if it meant getting a friend to help Him do it.

The people closest to you, usually get the brunt of your bad day, but Jesus took care of the people closest to Him. What a great example!


4. On your worst day, you’ll feel like God has forsaken you
“My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?” (Matt.27)

Job forsakenSometimes we try to make God tell us why, before we do what He assigned to us.

– Job 3:23 (MSG) – What’s the point of life when it doesn’t make sense, when God blocks all the roads to meaning?

Realize that there are going to be some questions that you don’t get an answer for. We live by faith, and without faith it is impossible to please God. God says His plans for us are good, so we have to take His word for it sometimes. When you get to heaven, and get the answer, you will say, ‘Oooo, ok. I couldn’t see that, but I’m glad that happened the way it did.’ God’s plan for everyone is good. Job basically said, ‘God, make this mess in my life go away, or at least tell me why my life is so messed up.’ There are 35 chapters of that, before God responds from a scary storm:

– Job 38:2 – Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?

– Job 38:1-5 – Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!

– Job 38:18-21 – Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? Tell me, if you know all this. “What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside? Can you take them to their places? Do you know the paths to their dwellings? Surely you know, for you were already born! You have lived so many years!

– Job 40:2 – Do you still want to argue with the Almighty? You are God’s critic, but do you have the answers?

God creates UniverseBasically, we assume that if God gave us an answer that we would be able to comprehend it. Gods understanding far exceeds our own. Sometimes the answer is too complex for us. We can only understand it once we get to heaven and see how it played out with our new, more capable, mind.

God got a little sarcastic with Job. God who has lived infinite years, said ‘Surely you know, since you have lived so many years!’ The point is, we don’t have to understand everything. We can just trust Him. Paul & Silas did:

– Acts 16:22-23 – The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison

Was it God’s will for them to be flogged and imprisoned? No. It happened because God gave people freewill, and the ability to make their own choices. Freewill is a gift, but unfortunately it is one that is highly abused. God chose not to control us, or make us slaves, and I thank Him for it, because I’ve had enough control and manipulation in my life to be sick of it. Anyway, they were flogged and most of us would be wondering why God would allow that to happen. Yes freewill, but yes, He could also save them. God could’ve rescued them. God rescued several other people from things like this. Nonetheless, they weren’t offended that God didn’t rescue them. In fact:

– Acts 16:25-26 – About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.

Paul & Silas in PrisonGod delivered them. He came through. Not on their timing, but with perfect timing. They went on the mission to spread the gospel. The free people didn’t receive the message, but God knew who would. The people in the prison had been mistreated the same way Paul and Silas had. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. Paul and Silas had freedom, and that freedom got on everyone. God allowed Paul to go through the flogging so he could save all the prisoners. Since that was Paul’s intentions of going to the city anyway, I don’t think he would’ve had a problem with being flogged, once he knew how many people it saved. But Paul didn’t have to know God’s plan in advance. He knew God and trusted that His plan was good.

Remember:
1. God is always with you; even in the depths of hell (Ps.139:7-8 )
2. God is never late (Hab. 2:3)
3. God knows best (Heb.11:39-40)
4. God cares (James5:11)


5. On your worst day, you have needs
“I’m thirsty.”
(John19:29)

Jesus drinks Be human enough to acknowledge your need. We feel like we can’t have feelings or emotions. We like to act like we have it all together, but God Himself acknowledged His need. We need people in the church to start being real with each other.

We all have hidden weaknesses, a desire for approval, and past hurts that need healing. We need support, growth, protection, and unconditional love. This is what the church should look like.


6. On your worst day, you need to know that it doesn’t last forever
“It is finished.” (John19:30)

HopeBe confident that there is a purpose, and an end, to every suffering. No struggle is pointless. No suffering is unending. This life is temporary, but the glory to come is eternal and every tear will be wiped away.

– Ps. 126:5-6 – those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.

– Rom. 8:28 – And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

He works everything out for our good.

– 2 Tim. 1:12 – That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.

1. I know that God loves me
2. I know that God wants the best for me
3. I know that God has a plan for me
4. I know that God will bring me through

– Lam. 3:21-22 – Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.

– 2 Tim. 4:18 – The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.


7. On your worst day, you can give it to God
“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke23:44-46)

quoteJesus felt abandoned by His father, but He still knew that He needed to trust Him. Surrender your day to God, and let it go. I’m going to turn this loose and let you have it, God. I want to hold onto this, but take it over.

– 1 Peter 5:7 – Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

– Phil. 4:6-7 – Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Worry is a control issue. Are you going to be in control or is God going to be in control? The root word means to choke or strangle. It means a divided mind. Worry is unreasonable, unnatural, unhelpful, and unnecessary.

– Matt. 6:27 – Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

RestWorry doesn’t make life better, it shortens life. Ever heard the phrase: ‘I’m worried sick.’ Worry is bad for us. Remember God promises us 7,000 times, in the Bible, that He will take care of us.

– Matt. 6:32 (MSG) – People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

– Matt. 6:33 – But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

1. Get to know God
2. Put God first in every area of your life
3. Live one day at a time


For more on this topic: How to Live Through A Bad Day – Highlands Sermon Series
Worship: Where you Go, I Go, by Jesus Culture


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Fear

Big things come from small thingsChristians like to make hot topics out of ‘big’ sins and ignore ‘small’ sins, but everything big starts from something small. God says sin is sin (1John5:17). All sin grows, and all sin leads to death (James1:5). Trying to get rid of ‘big’ issues is often met with failure. We can pick up broken branches everyday, or we can cut the tree down and pull up the root once and for all.

Because the church isn’t talking about small sins, people often live under fear, competition, suspicion, and a variety of smaller sins their whole lives. They want help with their problems, but can’t pinpoint the issue, because no one is talking about the issue. Many of our smallest problems are the culprit for our giants. Today I want to show you how fear took root in my life and caused branches of immorality, broken relationships, dishonesty, and many other issues. Fear is a hidden killer, and this ‘small sin’ called fear is just as dangerous as the ‘big sin’ of murder. Lets look at how fear can hurt other, self, and our relationship to God.


1. Fear hurts others.

One day, in high school, I saw a girl crying. I had compassion, but I walked past her anyway. God kept nudging me to turn back, and eventually I did. I went and talked to her; she accepted Jesus, and a few years later she died in a car accident.

Don't fear man. Fear God

Don’t fear man. Fear God

I had the choice that day whether I would be a murderer or a lifesaver, and only by the grace of God did I make the right choice. It was just like the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke10), except it looked like the road from the cafeteria to the classroom. The Samaritan found a person half dead; he helped him, where a religious leader had passed by ignoring that voice of compassion.

Don’t you think if the Samaritan had passed by this half dead man, God would have held him accountable? If I had passed by this girl, wouldn’t I been held accountable? If they had died from our lack of help, wouldn’t we have the blood on our hands from our decisions?

I’ve missed many right choices and that puts the fear of God on me. I can see now that my fear is equal to murder, and it’s time for it to go to hell. Fear is just as deadly as any other sin.

– Rev. 21:8 – but the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.

Those who fear cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. God doesn’t have a hierarchy of sin; He sees fear as equal to murder – and it is. I was barely alive myself, in those days; barely making it. More times than not, I was scared to go out on a limb, and say anything, for fear that it would bring on even more pain. I was fighting suicide. I didn’t feel like I had the ability to help that crying girl, but Jesus was dying on the cross, and He didn’t fear piling on more rejection from people, or harm from the soldiers – He still spoke the truth. He talked to the two criminals hanging next to Him. It was a 50/50 shoot. Jesus was suffering the same thing they were. He took the chance and He saved one! One criminal accepted Jesus as his savior. The other, more or less, said, ‘Get yourself off the cross and I’ll believe what you have to say; why should I trust you if you are in the same position I’m in?’ It didn’t faze Jesus.

We feel like we don’t have the right to try to help others when we are going through the same struggle that they are. Jesus shows us otherwise. People don’t care about answers as much as they want to know someone understands what they are going through. God doesn’t want us to go through hard times, but since He gave people freewill, we often suffer for other people’s bad choices. He could save us, and often He does, but sometimes He ships us out to the front lines of a battle so we can help the people fighting there. This time I helped and we won; but my fear, my silence, my disobedience to God’s law (to share the truth with all people) meant death for someone else. Those times I made the wrong choice, I became a murderer. I left them half dead and something might have come behind me that took them out. Jesus has washed my wrongs away. He can forgive you of anything–even murder; you just have to ask Him. Don’t let fear hold you back. On your worst day, and in the middle of your worst situation, you can still speak Life to someone else.

– Is. 58:10 – if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.

When you help someone else YOU get light in your life. Help someone and it brightens up your own dark places.


2. Fear doesn’t only hurts others; it hurts self.

My previous church split; it was a horrible thing to happen. The body of Christ being cut in half… Ouch, we cut Him in half… Yeah, its damaging. Our pastor was seeking God fiercely, and biblically, and I stayed. Many of my closest friends left with their families and  a spirit of fear came over me and said, ‘If my friends rejected the pastor, and part of the bible, they will reject me too’; so I stayed silent. Like I said, I was barely surviving in those days, and I let fear take over my relationships. I stopped opening up, sharing, or telling my perspective. I had no intimacy in my friendships, because I wouldn’t let them: into-me-see. This led me into problems like looking for intimacy in the wrong places, anger from not being understood, and loneliness which grew into suicidal thoughts. I was dying and I wouldn’t let anyone help, because I let fear of rejection take over. I had many friends and still felt utterly alone; fear stole my intimacy, and kept me from having someone to help me when I needed it. My enemies had a field day with me, because I wouldn’t let anyone see where I was and help guide me out. Jesus was there for me and my love for His laws kept me from going over the edge. The strand of fear was broken, but I was still strong in other areas. He saved me, and brought many teachers and encourages to me in those seasons. 

Fear can shut you down. It can steal your identity. It can open the door for other problems too.

Knowing Jesus as protector gives me courage to be vulnerable

One friend said the things the church believed were crazy. They didn’t know that the only reason I was still alive was because one of the people, with that crazy idea that God still speaks today, saved my life. They didn’t know I believed in the prophetic, or why I would believe in it; but today they do. Now I don’t have to live in constant fear of losing my friend. Their reaction will show me what our friendship is made of. Either they will love, respect, and accept me, or I need a better friend. And now they have heard part of my testimony of what God has done in my life. That prophecy, though it sound crazy, has held unquestionably true in multiple parts of my life.

“The standard has got to be set at such a high level that you have to be so uncompromising, and so unyielding in your convictions, that you make up in your mind that I would rather be my myself, than have somebody fall in love with a me that’s not me.” – Jamal Bryant

Acquaintances have often said hateful things about me to other people. Many assume that I am too prideful to talk to them. That’s why God tells us not to judge with our eyes. We can’t see what people are going through, unless we ask God to show us what He sees. Those people saw me as confident and arrogant. They had no idea that I felt beneath them. They didn’t know that fear had shut me down. I had a false confidence; one that used to say, ‘I don’t care what they think; screw them, because they look down on me.’ Now that God is tearing down fear in my life and helping me see through His eyes, I know that He sees all of us as equals. I ask Him to help me see myself as equal to others, and to help me speak when people walk by. I ask His Spirit to give me boldness, and power, to speak when I have fear. My introversion was full-blown, but even the Myers-Briggs is a witness of how God is transforming me. I am becoming less introverted. While people can cut me down with their words and actions, only God can kill my soul. He is my protector, healer, redeemer, and He has called me to be a light to others. I cannot be a light if I am hiding.

Hide it under a bussel? No! I'm going to let it shine

Hide it under a bussel? No! I’m going to let it shine

It’s foolish to hide who you are, then live in constant fear of what would happen if someone knew the real you. Just let what’s going to happen, happen and get over it. Either your relationship gets stronger, or you get to trust God to bring you a better friend. I’m slowly choosing life instead of fear. I’m casting down every idol of fear and it is making my life so much better. I feel free. I can be known and put myself out there, whether it be for rejection or acceptance. Now people can learn more about God through my openness and experiences, and I can be intimately known by those who love me. Win, Win. Who knew that fear could shut down intimacy? No one told me, so let me tell you! If you don’t have healthy friendships where you can be intimate and vulnerable, then you are going to look for the wrong kind of intimacy somewhere else, and it is still not going to fill the need of being known. God is Love, and in Love there is no fear. To have true, loving, intimate relationships, you have got to pull the plug on fear. God even gives us a helper to bring us out from under fear:

– 2 Tim. 1:7 – For the Spirit God gave us does not make us fearful and timid, but gives us power, love, and good judgment.

People are looking for someone who understands more than they are looking for answers. That’s why you shouldn’t wait till you have come through a situation before you try to help someone else. You can help someone while you’re in the midst of your hard situation. Jesus gave up His life, and He gained it. He made a friend who was going through the same thing He was. It probably comforted Jesus to have a friend hanging there next to Him, going through the same pain He felt; especially after all his so-called friends had rejected Him that very day.


3. Fear hurts our relationship with God.

The root to all sin is not trusting God. When you don’t trust God for provisions, you’ll steal. When you don’t trust God where your marriage is concerned, you’ll commit adultery. When you don’t trust God plan, you fear and make your own.

Fear God not man; respect God above man.

– Matt. 10:28 – Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul

David trusted God, and God gave him victory over his giant

David trusted God, and God gave him victory over his giant

Most people aren’t going to kill you, so just do what God asks you to do. Even if they kill you, you don’t answer to man but to God. The judgement of God determines our eternal freedom or condemnation. He asks us to be fearless in taking the kingdom. Take the kingdom with force. Be a soldier. Don’t hide. The brave, and the valiant, gain great honor and wealth.

– Jos. 1:9 – Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

– 1 John 4:4 – You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

– 1 Sam. 17:24-25 – As soon as the Israelite army saw him, they began to run away in fright. “Have you seen the giant?” the men asked. “He comes out each day to defy Israel. The king has offered a huge reward to anyone who kills him.

– 1 John 5:3-5 – For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. Forwhatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world– our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

Put your trust in God’s words. They are here to guide you in every situation. Renew your mind and allow God to show you how He would do things. Leave no stone unturned. Question every aspect of your life to see if it lines up with God’s ways. He will give you victory over everything. Even the smallest sin in your life could be the cause of your biggest problems.

– Gal. 5:9 – A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough

Sin grows, just like yeast works through dough. Don’t let sin sit in your life. Confess and turn away from even the least bit of it. Tear down fear today, because I am a living witness that it leads to death.


Worship: Voice of Truth, by Casting Crowns

“The stone was just the right size
To put the giant on the ground
And the waves they don’t seem so high
From on top of them lookin’ down
I will soar with the wings of eagles
When I stop and listen to the sound of Jesus
Singing over me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth”

Prayer: Lord, start to show your people the destruction of the seeds. Bring forth more understanding of how small things can cause big problems. Raise up voices to talk about these issues so your people don’t live in confusion and ignorance. Help us see the problems so that we can overcome them by your strength. Help us hear your voice above all the others and know your truth when the enemy is coming against us. Increase our discernment of your voice. Teach us your ways. Tear off fear from each person; put a spotlight on it, so they can remove what they were stumbling on in the dark and so they no longer have to walk in darkness. Sign your light and let your word illuminate every mind and bring peace to every situation fear has affected. Help us chase after you without hinderance. Tear down this giant and take us that much closer to stepping into our promised land. Let us no longer fear being known. Let us no longer fear speaking in your name. Let us shout praise to you as you bring us through the battle; a war cry, and a shout of victory, for all to hear. Just as David took down Goliath – and he opened the eyes for others to see that you can bring them victory – many people were strengthened and later took down Goliath’s brothers. Grow and develop us. Help us work together, as your church, and take down every enemy, in the name of our crowned victor, Jesus; our God is mighty in battle, and at His name every knee will bow. Your kingdom lasts through eternity Father; Amen.

Metaphors of the Church

Jesus gives us several metaphors to help us understand what the church should be like. The ‘church’ is not a religious building, or a specific denomination. The church is every person who accepts Jesus as their savior. Here are five metaphors to help us understand His plan for the church:


God is the master architect

God is the master architect

1. The Church is like a Building
This means: We need support.

If you are in the ‘church’, you are a part of the building, and helping build the building. If you are a pillar, then you need someone who is concrete to support you; you need someone as a roof, for you to hold up. We need people to support us, and people who we can support. A building is not made of only one kind of material. We need each other; we cannot do it by ourselves.

– Eph. 2:19-22 – Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

– 1 Cor. 3:9-10,16 – You are God’s building. Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation (Jesus) like an expert builder. Now others are building on it… Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?


We are the body of Christ

We are the body of Christ

2. The Church is like a Body
This means: We need to grow.

When a body is healthy, it grows and develops. It needs many parts to be able to function. If you plucked out the eye, it couldn’t do its job. It still holds the potential to do it’s job, but it is worthless unless it is attached to the body. Parts must be connected to use their potential, help, and grow. Your potential cannot be realized by you. You need others to bring out your full potential. When we are separated from the body, we die.

– Rom. 12:4-6 – For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.

– Eph. 4:16 – 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.

– Eph. 4:11-12 – 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.

– Phil. 1:6 – For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.


Christ is the shepherd of the flock

Christ is the shepherd of the flock

3. The Church is like a Flock
This means: We need protection.

The church is meant to protect you and for you to protect those in it. You are not meant to be alone. You can be around a lot of people, but if you aren’t being truthful, and transparent, you will feel utterly alone. You are meant to be able to share your life with others and let them speak into you. You need others to teach you, help you spot enemies, and help you trample the enemies. The enemies plan is to find those who are separated from the flock, and those who are weak. You cannot stay safe on your own.

– Acts 20:28-29 – Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.

-Acts 17:26-27 – he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.

– 1 Peter 5:2 – Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care

– Jer. 3:15 – I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding.

– Luke 12:31-33 – But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom. “Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven


We are the family of God

We are the family of God

4. The Church is like a Family
This means: We need to be loved unconditionally

God loves us unconditionally. We are saved by His grace, not by works. Have you had a family member you didn’t get along with? We might not get along, but we aren’t supposed to kick each other out of the family. We need to be able to see others through our Fathers heart. The more we understand God’s heart, the more we will be able to show His love to others. We are adopted by God, into His family, and joined together by the blood of Jesus. A lot of times, your church family sticks closer to you than your physical family. These people know the struggle and have wisdom from God to share with you. We need more spiritual sons, daughters, mothers, and fathers. Mentors rise up!

– Eph. 2:19 – you are no longer foreigners and strangersbut fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household

– Prov. 18:24 – … there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

– Eph. 1:5 – he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will

– Rom. 8:14,29 – For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God… For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

– Gal. 3:26 – So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith

– 1 John 4:20-21 – If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.


We are the bride of Christ

We are the bride of Christ

5. The Church is like a Bride
This means: We need to be One with Christ.

We need to leave everything to be joined to Christ, our husband. We need to get rid of every hinderance, and lay down every weight. We can be honest to our husband, because He loves us unconditionally. He takes His vow seriously, and He does not believe in divorce. In Jewish culture they would actually slaughter a bull and the couple getting married would walk between the parts and say, ‘may I be like this bull if I do not keep my vow.’ Christ walked through the parts for us (Gen.15:9-18). We are in a covenant relationship with Him and He will never leave us or forsake us (Deut.31:6).

– Gen. 2:24 –  a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

– Eph. 5:31-32 – “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mysterybut I am talking about Christ and the church.

– 1 Cor. 6:17 – But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.

– Rom. 8:9 – You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ

– Ruth 1:15-16 – Then she said, “Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.

– Matt. 19:29 – And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.


Worship: Brother, by NeedToBreathe

Brother let me be your shelter
I’ll never leave you all alone
I can be the one you call
When you’re feelin’ low
Brother let me be your fortress
When the night winds are driving on
Be the one to light the way
Bring you home

Prayer: Lord, join your body together, so we can be the holy temple of God. Make your bride spotless, and show your people how to live unified in love. Keep our eyes set on your return, for you left for Spirit as a wedding pledge to us. Let us keep showing off this great gift of your Spirit, as one would a wedding ring. Let us stay about your work awaiting your return to take us to the home you have prepared for us in your Father’s kingdom. May your people (family) be our people; teach us to love them. May we build up the your people (building) with words of encouragement. May we protect your people (flock) and share the truth about our sufferings, trials, and victories. Help us grow, develop, and reach our full potential. Bring a new level of unity and love to us in Jesus name, Amen.


For more on this topic you can listen to Pastor Chris Hodges:
Be Transparent – How to Live Through A Bad Day – Highlands Series

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Because I Said So

'Because I said so'

‘Because I said so’

No child likes hearing the phrase: ‘Because I said so.’

This phrase can work with a child who knows, and trusts, their parents, but it is not a great response for a child who lacks relational connection to their parents.

‘Because God said so‘ can, occasionally, be an okay answer for a Christian who trusts God, but to an unbeliever it is like eating fire; likewise, to a disconnected child it is going to mean absolute rebellion.

Rules without Relationship = Rebellion

Rules without Relationship = Rebellion

Many children who have been abused, whether emotionally, physically, or sexually, have a hard time trusting authority. Something as simple as not spending quality time with your child (avoidance), can damage a child emotionally. If a child feels like you do not care about them, you are going to have a hard time with discipline. If you are already in this position, try to put quality time above the law for a little while and see if it makes a difference. Children who love their parents will automatically want to please them.

Understanding that, rules without relationship is a recipe for rebellion, we can start to see why unbelievers typically hate Christians. For years Christians have stated the ‘rules’ to God’s wayward children, instead of portraying His love to them. We need to rethink our outreach plans. Relationship is the most important thing to God.

A father gave his son his inheritance, to do what he wanted to with it. The son made some bad choices, and ended up remembering how good his father was. We need to be the people reminding the prodigal son how good and loving the Father is. The son already knew he was in a mess. When the son returned, the father didn’t get onto him for his bad choices, he hugged, accepted, loved, and celebrated his return.



The child without relational connection, or with damaged trust, will ask ‘Why?‘, so they can see if they can trust the reasoning. The unbeliever needs us to show God’s reasoning of why something is wrong or right. This is called teaching and gaining trust. The unbeliever is the prodigal son, and the mistrusting/damaged child. They need to know they can trust God’s rules. They need to be able to see that God’s plan for them is good. Thankfully, God tells us why. Instead of tweeting ‘Divorce is sin‘ or ‘Homosexuality is sin‘, realize that you are quoting rules to a disconnected child that will result in rebellion. Instead say ‘Divorce causes deep emotional trauma‘ or ‘Homosexuality results in disease and illness. God says it’s wrong because He doesn’t want you to be in pain.‘ God is concerned for you and deeply cares about you.

A ‘b/c I said so‘ message tells the child, I don’t care about our connection or teaching you how to make decisions for yourself. Why then are Christians still preaching sermons with a ‘b/c i said so‘ mentality toward the lost? God gives us His reasoning. He shows us why right is right, and why wrong is wrong. He wants to teach us and build relationship, not command/control us, and keep us ignorant. His first goal is to build relationships and trust. Once we trust him ‘b/c I said so‘ becomes an okay answer here and there.

Ablaze

– 2 Tim. 1:7 (MSG) – That precious memory triggers another: your honest faith—and what a rich faith it is, handed down from your grandmother Lois to your mother Eunice, and now to you! And the special gift of ministry you received when I laid hands on you and prayed—keep that ablaze! God doesn’t want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold and loving and sensible.

Paul said that for him, one precious memory triggered another. He clearly had the gift of encouragement. In this passage he encourages Timothy one way, then it triggered another encouragement. This is how we keep the gift God gave us ablaze!

– 1 Tim. 4:14 – Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching. Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you.

Timothy had the gift of teaching, and Paul is telling him, and us, that it’s easier to keep momentum than to build momentum; it’s easier to keep a fire going than to start a fire. I’ve tried to start a fire in the rain without matches, or paper, or cheater items… its hard, okay? Blogging started hard, but now it keeps my teaching gift ablaze; I blog about a subject, throw in one random concept, then the next post is wholly on that little concept. It just keeps going! It’s effortless. God wants the gifts to flow in and out of us as effortless as the air we breathe. Amen!

– Heb. 12:29 – our God is a consuming fire.

It doesn’t take long to start a fire and keep it going as long as you are getting closer to God.

Newton's Law of MotionNewton’s law of inertia states: An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force

I noticed two things from this statement:
1. We need to be the influence on people who are at rest
2. We need to laser zap the enemies attempts to knock us off course. Keep the gift ablaze!

insert 'pew pew' sound effect with your mind voice.. or aloud if you really want to be a geek

insert ‘pew pew’ sound effect with your mind voice.. or aloud if you really want to be a geek

Knock down every demonic thought of discouragement, fear, rejection, hatred, religion, or whatever enemy comes from the pit of hell against you. Take the sword the Word of God that says ‘I am more than a conqueror.’ ‘Greater is He who is in me, than he who is in the world.’ ‘My God loves and accepts me.’ ‘My God is my refuge and strong fortress.’ Go to war. There are plenty of times that I play fighter video games and just press random buttons, but I still win! I take down people who actually know the right buttons to press on the game. Likewise, you can just keep quoting scripture through your day. It is taking down the enemy. combo code

Every once in a while, someone will know the button combos really well, and they will beat my random fire method. I don’t have the patience to learn button combos for a fighter video game, but I sure can take the time to realize life is a real battlefield, and learn which tactics work the best against which enemies. If I’m going to write a post about homosexuality, I can guess what the enemy is going to throw at me, so I go ahead and sharpen the sword in that direction: ‘It is sin. We all sin. We are saved by grace alone. If I teach, but have not love, I am a noisy worthless gong.’  God makes you a skilled warrior that way.

Figure out what your God given gifts are. Then put them to use and fan the flame! Here’s a link to my previous blog, and the assessment test for gifts: Finding Your Purpose & Giftings


John Wesley was kicked out of the church, but he went into fields and preached and thousands of people would come listen even in the cold and rain. When asked how he got people to come listen, he said:

Joan of Arc

I think it looks better with a young Joan of Arc though! Around 1412, she was 19 years old and leading a revolution. Everyone has a gift that can spark momentum. I know I have gifts. I have lots of gifts, and the church keeps turning me down, so clearly God has put me here for a reason. I will blog. O, I will set these keys on fire. Watch me burn!


Worship: Unspoken – Start A Fire

Prayer: Help your people find their purpose and direct them to the places they can use them. We need people on the streets, in the news, in politics, in medical fields, in sales,in car repair. Don’t let us get discouraged because we aren’t ‘needed’ in the church building. The church is not a building; it is the body of believers and I need those people everywhere. Scatter and disperse us. Cause us to go out in groups to encourage each other and take each realm of influence for you, in Jesus name; Amen.


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