Fight the Good Fight

This life will have it’s ups and downs. We will have our good days and our bad days. We will have our moments when we feel on top of the world and then the very next moment, we can feel as if our world has come crashing down around us. This is the journey called LIFE. It is what it is.

Sometimes, the lows will be in physical form, maybe a ridicule from a friend, a sickness/disease or an actual assault from an enemy. Other times, it will be an emotional conflict or a spiritual confrontation that we must face. However, the times I have found to be the most difficult are those mental battles the devil will try to wage.

He knows our weak spots, our vulnerabilities, our tender places we try to hide. You know, the ones we so eloquently maintain and cover up that they seem to no longer exist. Yes, when we are allowing Christ to be strong through us, these sensitive areas are shielded by His strength. These liabilities are covered by our shield of faith. However, sometimes, we can start listening to the enemy’s lies, accusations and doubts of our identity in Christ. This is when we lower our shield, and he takes a shot to wound us.

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Just because we serve God, and just because we have been Christians for a long time doesn’t mean tough seasons in life never come. The truth of our faith and Christian maturity is what we do when these hard times come. When we’ve been knocked down on the canvas again, the referee is starting the count, and the crowd believes it’s over, THIS is when it all comes down to truth:  THE TRUTH OF OUR CHARACTER.

These are the moments that matter the most. Will we fight the GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH and lay hold on eternal life, or will we lay down our weapons and quit? Will we finish what we’ve started when we made the confession of our faith in the beginning, or will we walk away and give it all up? It is up to us to decide.

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What we decide will not only effect OUR outcome, but it can leave a legacy behind that affects many generations to come…

To Be More Like Him

I read a post the other day of a lady who was in a store parking lot and witnessed a young mom place her two young children (both under the age of five) in the car, roll down the widows just a bit, lock the vehicle and return to the store for a five minute span of time. The person posting simply stood a ways off, watching over the vehicle, until the mother returned. 

There were various comments following, many on either side of choosing right or wrong for this situation. On the one side, the comments ranged from how terrible that mother was, how she should have been reported, and how dangerous the situation was for those children. The opposite side stated how the mother was obviously going through a tough time, how she must be a single parent doing her best, and how judgmental those persons must be who were against her.

This scenario and posts got me to thinking, and it caused me to realize one thing: we are all human, and we all have incredible opinions for each scenario we encounter. Each one of us looks at things from different perspectives, and that’s the way God made us. We all enter the viewpoint of a situation from our own judgmental advantage.

Who’s to say what that young lady was going through? Who’s to say she is or isn’t a hard-working single mom or a selfish, neglective parent? We don’t know her, and we don’t know her situation; so, all we do is assume onto her situation what we want and proceed to get mad at someone else, because they don’t agree with our “right” (or self-righteous) opinion.

As Christians, why don’t we look to Jesus and pray for this young mom and her kids? We don’t know what she’s going through, AND we don’t know what those kids are going through. We have no idea if she needs a ‘bucket full of grace’ or a good ‘kick in the bucket.’ Truth is, it’s not really our judgement call to make on either side.

Truth is, she probably needs a helping hand (or a guardian to watch over her littles), a good talking to AND a lot of love, but it shouldn’t be up to us to decide which of those is more important. What is up to us is to look at the situation with wisdom and grace. Wisdom would say, “Report that incident; so, it doesn’t happen again.” Grace would say, “Love her and give her a second chance that she may not deserve.” 

Too often, we are too quick to assume into a situation our own opinions and conclusions that, sometimes, have no bearings on the truth of the matter. Look at the various moments in Scripture when Jesus had confrontations with people: the woman at the well, the Pharisees, the adulterous woman, the rich young ruler, Blind Bartemaus… When Jesus reached to those in need, He gave truth AND love. He responded differently and the same to each one. He never used their situation, nor their pain, as an enablement for sin nor an excuse for self-righteousness. He confronted the sin, gave grace for repentance and hope for change. He’s called us to follow in His footsteps. That’s our job: to be more like Him. 😉

My prayer is to be more like Him each and every day. Sometimes, I feel as if I do pretty good, and other days, I wonder if I will ever get it right! However, the goal is all about Him, and if we can keep Him at the forefront, we will be able to reach more than if we simply rely on our own opinions and perspectives as our guide. 💕

Your Words

 

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kellyarcidiacono.com

Your words matter. Your words count. What you say can wound or heal those around you. Choose your words wisely.

Years ago, our nine year old son came home from school sad. He felt like he had a bad day. Now, this child has always been more sensitive to those around him, to his environment, words said and actions done. He’s my rough-and-tumble, tenderhearted boy. He likes things to be peaceful and stable, fun and joyful, and this day hadn’t been quite like any of that.

He told me about his teacher snapping at him, how kids had laughed at him, and how the lunch lady had harassed him. As the story played out, I realized the teacher had “jokingly snapped” at him when he told the other kids to be quiet in line, causing the kids to chuckle around him, and the lunch lady had “jokingly harassed” him when he spilled a little of his spaghetti from his plate, saying, “Your mom needs to teach you how to do this.”

Now, to you and me, as adults and people who have experienced pain, criticism and strife, what he went through may not be that big of a deal. I could tell, by the information he had given, that his teacher hadn’t meant to hurt his feelings; she probably didn’t even think twice about it. There was no part of bullying or harrassment meant in her statement.

Don’t we all do that from time to time? We will quip our answers “short and sweet” to those around us, never assuming that it might impact them differently than we intended. Yet, the sharp remarks he received from those two adults at lunchtime, combined with the snickering of children around him, had cast a cloud on his usual joyful demeanor and caused him to feel like his whole day was just horrible.

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mybible.com

As he grows, he will learn how to handle jokes, sarcasm and harassment. His tender heart may not always remain as tender, but I can assure you, this day reminded me that we should all be more cautious with, not only what we say, but also the attitude and tone in which we say it. There are times for sharpness, and there are definitely times for rebuke.

Don’t mistake my comments here to be an agreement with the recent cultural push for a kinder, meeker society where we can give no rebuttal to anyone without a cry against “tolerance.” When there is evil and wrongdoings present, it angers me to hear those trying to settle down a conflict when the only persons they’re trying to calm down is the very one confronting the sin or wrong being done! It seems this nation is working hard to excuse certain beliefs, actions or opposing viewpoints simply because they’re “new and culturally accepted.” These actions and attitudes are not what I’m talking about here.

I am referring to the words we use with those closest to us and the tones and attitudes we portray behind these words. It is so easy to be in the middle of having a bad day, be approached by a child and respond to them by snapping their little head off. It’s so common to be stressed out, right at the time of a deadline and just “blow a gasket,” simply, because your spouse asked where a clean pair of socks are. It’s such a ‘knee-jerk reaction” to be worried and concerned over a situation and respond to your ‘aggravating’ teen in an overemotional manner instead of stopping to realize they weren’t trying to get on your nerves; they’re just being a teenager. I know. I’ve been there, and I wonder if you have been, too…

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deebrestin.com

The heart of a child, a teen, and even our spouse are at stake when we allow our emotions to rule over our words and actions. We should not only have the mind of Christ, but we must have His mouth as well! Let our words always be tempered by His grace, love and Truth.

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kingjamesbibleonline.org

 

Dangers In The Pew

Ok, so, this post won’t, necessarily, be for everyone out there, and if you have not been in leadership, and/or you haven’t been in church for a very long time, this probably won’t even be of interest to you. However, I came across these notes the other day, and I was reminded of the book by Pastor Jim Bolin titled, “Recognizing the Spirits That Hinder the Flow of God.” I thought it might be helpful to those readers who are pastors, leaders or even church members who want to be a benefit to your church family (and pastor) rather than a hindrance… 😉

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therideronline.com

Often times, sinners aren’t the ones who destroy the church, well-meaning Christians do. Everyone of us who call ourselves part of the Body of Christ should be aware of this fact and shield our hearts from this temptation. We were not created to be dividers of the body. We are here to love God, love people, and show them the way to Him. Every one of us, the longer we serve Christ, the easier it is for Satan to use us. If we are not vigilant in our prayer life, of sober mind in our walk and of humble spirit and attitude, we can easily grow comfortable on the pew and be led astray. The Word says, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” He wasn’t kidding, and He didn’t have this written simply for our enjoyment of reading…

 

Some of the most dangerous people in the Body of Christ are the ones who think they could never be used by the enemy to hurt, deceive or push away from the cross another believer (or nonbeliever, for that matter), but if he or she is not alert and cautious, anyone can be used. Look no further than Scripture to see this proof. There are seven spirits that, if left unconfronted and ignored, can kill revival and essentially destroy the body of believers (you can look up these characters in the Word to read their stories):

Cain – spirit of murder: killing people with our words, back-biting, slander and gossip.
Balaam – spirit of false doctrine: remember, “If it’s true, it isn’t new, and if it’s new, it isn’t true!”
Kora – spirit of rebellion: full frontal assault against authority: They get a team together to fight their cause. They never want to meet with authority alone. They bring a reproved, organized group.
Absalom – spirit of disloyalty: this is a whisperer at the gate who brings disloyalty against the one placed in authority.
Jezebel – spirit of control: this one doesn’t want to lead, he/she only want to control the leader. Commonly, this is referred to as a woman, because Jezebel also will use seduction as her tool. However, a man can operate in this spirit, as well, because he “seduces” the leader by threats of withdrawal if confronted.
Leviathan – spirit of confusion: this is one who twists words, heard and repeated, in a twisted way. You can never reason with Leviathan, because, as an octopus will “ink the waters” to confuse it’s prey, leviathan does the same thing in conversation.
Pharisee – spirit of righteous judgment: this is, perhaps, one of the most dangerous, because this is when Satan convinces you that all your manipulation and control is helping the church. A Pharisee will throw stones at sinners and saints for the sake of religious tradition. The longer we serve God, the sweeter we should become. We should have a gentle and gracious spirit. Pharisees will throw rocks, make judgements and live by their opinions of the Word rather than the living, breathing Word of God.

When we believe we should hold a position that we don’t have, Satan can lead us to rebellion. We’ve got to figure out what position God has called us to and do it well, regardless, of where we believe we should be. Once we allow rebellion in our heart, we will allow one of these spirits to run rampant.

So, what’s the cure? How do we avoid these issues where we are?  The Word speaks pretty clearly: “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:29-32

Submit to God, for feelings follow actions. Change your behavior and your feelings will follow. If we will respect the positions set over us, our actions will follow. Let us see the king in those over us in the Lord, even before we “feel” like they are king. Look no further than the story of David and Saul. David was anointed king, but he didn’t touch God’s anointed (King Saul), because God never gave him permission. God fought his battle and rewarded him for his faithfulness and submission! 😉

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What’s Your Talk When They Walk?

You can’t change someone else, their brand of crazy, their attitude, or even their perspective or opinions. They are who they are, and you are who you are. Only God does the changing when we yield to His hand. Expecting change and then getting angry when it doesn’t happen is simply a recipe for disaster and misery.

 

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reinhold niebuhr

 

Yet, we all do it, don’t we? If you’re in leadership, I can almost guarantee you do this, unless, you’ve mastered the art of waiting patiently for God to “do His thing.” It’s tough to work alongside someone day in and day out, see their flaws, be convinced of what they need to change, suggest needed change, and then fail to see any successful change, isn’t it? Honestly, it can be downright aggravating, frustrating, really! Although, it can be quite a challenge to pour into someone all that you have within and still watch them walk away, we must remember Christ went through this very thing.

Jesus spent hours, days, weeks and even years with Judas Iscariot. Judas stayed with him, ate meals with him, visited the sick with him and even watched him heal and deliver the bound. Yet, in the end, Judas still chose to betray Him and walk away. He chose to walk away from Jesus’ love, forgiveness and promise of hope.

Jesus, also, spent the same amount of time, and more, with Peter. Peter stayed close by His side. He was one of the three who went to the Garden of Gethsemane with Christ. Yet, when it came to down to the heat of the moment after Christ’s arrest, Peter denied even knowing the very man who had saved him. Thankfully, there was a moment of clarity later on for Peter, and he returned to Christ.

Let us never believe we are better than our Master, our Lord and Savior. If He had people walk away, we will, too. It’s how we handle these moments that will determine our success or failure in leadership. Do we let them walk away without a word, or do we confront? Do we confront with love or cruelty and hatred? Do we pray for them after they leave, or do we simply bash and gossip about the wrong choices they obviously have made?

 

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quoteaddicts.com

 

Let us always trust God is still in control even in the midst of our disappointments. Let us always turn to Him in the middle of our hurt and anger over someone walking away, and let us always follow in His footsteps of loving confrontation followed by prayerful concern for that one who left.

We never know who might be spurring us toward our destiny or who will, eventually, come back to join us in the journey.