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Writing

Usually when I’m about to make a post, I’ll have written it out, whether it be on a piece of paper or in my journal.

I’m going to try something new. Writing it plain and simple, no piece of paper or page in my journal.

It’ll show my flaws. It’ll show what my writing looks raw. Yes, it’ll be revised. But it’ll be the base material; it’ll have the original piece still in it.

This also isn’t my usual post. Surprise? The last one wasn’t like the posts I usually do.

Welcome to how my mind works.

I go from one topic to another. It is hard to focus, especially when I’m writing. It’s not because I don’t like writing or it’s hard for me to write. In fact, it is almost too easy for me. And as I write my mind goes off on tangents thinking of all the possible topics I could write on or everything that is on my mind.

Just like it is hard for me to focus on My Jesus.

Writing. Write.ing. Two syllable word. A seven letter word. A seven letter word that means a lot to me.
Being able to write. I’m so thankful for it. I use the gift God has given me to be able to do this – blog and share about God’s word. I use this gift to write amazing stories and poems. I also use this gift to my personal advantage. Writing down my feelings. I write down everything, literally, that goes through my mind exactly how I thought of it.

Like I said before, my mind wanders from one thing to another. I do not wish to elaborate, as that’s what my journal is for and maybe someday it’ll be in a post, but as of now… sorry. Of course this post has a point, it isn’t just me going on and on and on writing how I love to write. No, but it has gotten me thinking.

I dropped the line, “Just like it is hard for me to focus on My Jesus.”

It is true. Oh so often I find myself focusing on school, or music, or even cleaning or even my family and the struggle of living. I lose focus on Him. I try to do a devotional each morning. A small one, almost everyone probably has heard of it – it’s called Our Daily Bread. It is a great little devotional. Whether you can relate to the devos or not, it is eye opening and wonderful. But even when, in the quiet of the morning, I’ll be reading it, I still find it hard to focus. I go off planning my day, calculating how much homework I’ll have that day and how long it’ll take me to do it… yadda, yadda, yadda.

I don’t want my mind to wander as I spend time with My Lord, My Jesus. I’m sure I’m not the only one; I know I’m not the only one. I know that I’m proud enough to not admit it right away, that no, life isn’t easy. It’s not easy finding time and just sitting down and spending time with Christ. More often or not I find it easier to sit down and do my homework and listen to music. I just don’t get those people who are like, “Oh, yeah I sit down each morning and spend an hour reading and praying.” I marvel at that, at such dedication, I really do… if it is real true time with Christ. And there are people who spend hours with God and you can tell, you can tell that their faith is unshakable; firm in a solid foundation.

I envy that… “Thou shalt not envy.”

I want that… “Thou shalt not covet.”

But see, I can envy and covet that. That which is an amazing relationship with Jesus.
He wants me to envy and want a relationship with him, because he is My Saving Grace. He is our Saving Grace.

Yes, I’m a strong Christian. I have a firm faith, but it isn’t as firm as I’d like it to be. I want to sort of faith that the people living in persecution have – that no matter what they don’t waver.

Would I be able to stand up to that sort of test?

I don’t want to have to go through that to find out. I want to just know. 

I can feel Him in me. Trust me, he’s there and he’s working.

He is living in my heart, for it is His home. But there is the fact of handing over everything. The deed, the title, the key. And allowing him to rule every part of my Heart and my life. 

My Heart, Christ’s Home.

I may be weak, but the Spirit is strong in me. My flesh will fail, by My God never will fail.

God Gives Me Faith.

His love is relentless. He will never stop seeking to spend time with me, even though I may stop and go. Start and stop and restart. He’s always there, always at the same meeting place. I just have to meet him there, and I will. I go to him excited. Excited that I get to spend time with Him. Cause in the end, he’s all that matters. He’s always by my side.

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Those Nights

 Before you scroll down, please listen to: Those Nights by Skillet

I remember when we used to laugh
About nothing at all, it was better than going mad
From trying to solve all the problems
We’re going through, forget ’em all
‘Cause on those nights we would stand and never fall
Together we faced it all, remember when we’d

Stay up late and we’d talk all night
In a dark room lit by the TV light
Through all the hard times in my life
Those nights kept me alive

We’d listen to the radio play all night
Didn’t wanna go home to another fight
Through all the hard times in my life
Those nights kept me alive

I remember when we used to drive
Anywhere but here, as long as we’d forget our lives
We were so young and confused
That we didn’t know to laugh or cry
Those nights were ours, they will live and never die
Together we’d stand forever, remember when we’d

Stay up late and we’d talk all night
In a dark room lit by the TV light
Through all the hard times in my life
Those nights kept me alive

We’d listen to the radio play all night
Didn’t wanna go home to another fight
Through all the hard times in my life
Those nights kept me alive

Those nights belong to us
There’s nothing wrong with us
Those nights belong to us

I remember when we used to laugh
And now I wish those nights would last

Stay up late and we’d talk all night
In a dark room lit by the TV light
Through all the hard times in my life
Those nights kept me alive

We’d listen to the radio play all night
Didn’t wanna go home to another fight
Through all the hard times in my life
Those nights kept me alive

Stay up late and we’d talk all night
In a dark room lit by the TV light
Through all the hard times in my life
Those nights kept me alive

We’d listen to the radio play all night
Didn’t wanna go home to another fight
Through all the hard times in my life
Those nights kept me alive

Those nights belong to us
There’s nothing wrong

From: Metrolyrics.com

Sometimes a song’s lyrics can describe my feelings more than my own words can. Especially songs that have that melody and instrumental component.

There are nights where I just want to cry. Sometimes I do, sometimes it feels like a dam is blocking the tears’ flow.

This isn’t the sort of post I normally do. It’s personal. I really am not one who expresses my feelings to people, though there are a select few in my circle of friends.

As of late, my life, well, let’s just say hasn’t been easy. I’ve done, experienced, and seen things that no one should have to go through. But that is the result of a fallen world. I know many people around me are struggling, suffering, trying, coping, and/or hurting. I know I am one of them.

This is going to be one of my longer posts, just to fore-warn.

An excerpt from my journal.

2/14/14

These past few months I’ve grown sick and tired. I can’t stand it anymore. The yelling, the drama, the list could go on and on.

This really should be spoken aloud, but for now, writing it down will have to do.

My brother, [Younger Brother 1] is almost out of control. He yells and blows up at the smallest of things. ‘Things’ is a broad term. I used it properly. He bad talks and back talks to everyone. He bullies [Younger Brother 2], but then again, somethings [Younger Brother 2] just asks for – baiting him and watching him take the bait. I’m not justifying my brother’s actions, if that’s what you’re thinking.

I am so. fed. up. I’m so done, irritated. Et cetera. I can’t handle it anymore. I can’t remember the last day where there wasn’t any yelling, arguments, people laughing and smiling.

I am torn. I cry almost as much or more than I genuinely laugh. I’m sick of drama. 

[Younger Brother 2] disses me and calls me awful names. I act like they just bounce of. But they hurt.

I set my alarm this morning for 8:00, but turned it off and slept in. Around nine I’m awakened by yelling slamming, and screaming. My door is closed. From the moment I woke up my day has been rotten, even considering it’s a snow day. There is no peace. I just feel tension. I just don’t known anymore.

I jump at the slightest of sounds, I cringe and almost crumple at the raising of voices. I’m afraid. Though, I hide it all away. I put on a facade and keep calm and try to carry on.

I act happy, like I’ve bounced back from a down mood. But I don’t.

I often sit in my room alone, door shut, music either plugged in or not. But I sit there deep in though. I try to think about all the ways I can help my brothers; help [Younger Brother 1]. What’s the psychological factor? His heart? Emotions/real thoughts?

Truth is: I’m desperate.

Yeah, I’ve been going to God more and more, which is a good thing. He’s drawing me nearer to him. I need that.

Through trials, there is happiness at the end. They can be long and tedious or short and over. We can be at the end of the rope and that’s when God seems to pull us out.

I’ve been at the end for awhile.

I’ve been done.

I’ve promised not to ever cut again – I slipped just before New Year’s, but after I said I said I wouldn’t cut myself anymore. My wrists are so far, as clean as they’ll be.

Relapse is real. Addiction is real.

If I said I wan’t angry at God, I’d be lying. I know I shouldn’t be, I feel guilty and like a bad Christian for saying and thinking it.

But he knows all my thoughts and actions even before I think them. He knows exactly what I’m going through. He has a plan for my life. A road that is hard, slim, and narrow, but in the end and grand picture of life, there is an un-explainable or indescribable reward and treasure waiting for me.

I often find myself trying to help others first and pushing my feelings off or not wanting to trouble people.

Sometimes you don’t realize you’re actually drowning when you’re trying to be everyone else’s anchor.

— Unknown

Despite his bad times, [Younger Brother 1] has the occasional happy moment (as of late he’s been better than just have the occasional happy moment). There’ll be moments when we both are laughing so hard we cry.

Those moments can change quickly. They are also forgotten fast.

I love my brothers, I really do. I try to cope, I try to help. I try to act strong and fine. But every argument, every tear, every yelling/screaming word tears me apart slowly. There’s a wound try to heal, but each time it’s just ripped back open, even bigger. 

Why do I tell you all of this? To have you pity me? Never. Worry over me?  Don’t even. Post this so all family and friends could see my true thoughts and land me with a counselor? Nope. Cause drama? Didn’t I say I hate drama?

I tell you this because I want to give encouragement out to people who are going through the same, similar, or just tough situations. I want to tell them that there is hope. I’m living, breathing proof.

Those nights? Well, it’s these sorts of nights that causes me to pray even harder.

Pray hardest, when it is hard to pray.

— Unknown

These sorts of nights are what deepens my faith and causes me to hold on, trust, and believe in Christ. These nights belong to us. These nights keep me alive. They keep me alive in God’s word and the Spirit. They help me get stronger, even though it may cause disruption in me for a time.

God is My Lighthouse in the darkest night. He never fails. He never leaves.

One night I dreamed I was walking
along the beach with the Lord.

Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.

Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there were one set of footprints.

This bothered me because I noticed
that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.

So I said to the Lord,
“You promised me Lord, that if I followed you,
you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during
the most trying periods of my life
there have only been one
set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most,
you have not been there for me?”

The Lord replied,
“The times when you have seen only
one set of footprints in the sand, is when
I carried you.”

— Mary Stevenson

I can make it through anything. Anything is possible with God (Matt. 19:26). I know that with him I can be strong and courageous, facing each day knowing he is by my side and he will never leave it; I’m not alone (Josh. 1:9).

For an ending:

7eventh Time Down’s song “Just Say Jesus

If you have any questions, feel free to drop an email, you can see the email on the Contact Us page.
If you want a list of encouraging or just plain good Christian songs, email or comment, I’d be happy to provide a list for you of my favorite artists and songs.

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Speaking Of...

Recently, I’ve encountered a lot of talk on “relationships and love” with people – and it got me thinking about God’s love. How his love sets us apart (as well as himself) from all the other people and their religions/beliefs. This also made me think of how even when we fall into chaos and unknown territory – he is there; he’s always there, for us. And he’s never mad, even when we fumble big-time, or turn out backs on him, or even commit a serious wrong or hold a grudge against someone that we need to let go of – he’s always there calling to us. And when we find him – his bright and ever-lasting light in the darkness of our lives, he opens his arms wide and embraces us, crying or laughing, or smiling with us.

There’s a verse my youth past told us and taught about to us on Sunday (11/3). This is about God’s love and relates to all the things I’ve said. Luke 6:27-33:

“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do no withhold you tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.”

Now, I want to first point out that the first phrase of the verse says “to you who hear.” Why do I point this out first and foremost? Because Jesus is calling people to really listen, as what he’s about to say hasn’t been said before. He knows – as well as you and I, that some people just zone things out or do that “half-listening” thing when people preach/teach on a topic that’s been heard before. He wants to get everyone’s attention, letting them know that this is a new topic, it’s a topic that people really need to whole-heartedly pay attention. Make sense, right? I hope so.

Okay, with that covered, let’s talk about the rest of the verse. This verse is obviously about loving our enemies and treating others how we want to be treated, right? In fact, one of the verses (vs 3) – “do to others as you would have them do to you” as many know it by – is a very well-known verse to many people (not just Christians). And at a first glance of the verse, people get the obvious theme (which I pointed out at the beginning of this paragraph) – be kind to people I don’t like/are considered my enemies, treat others fairly, and take care of the needy. Easy right? No. Is there more to the verse? Of course. Now, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t tend to those who need help or turn the other cheek, or treat others wrongly – their all great and wonderful things to be practiced, but I want to focus on the last bit of the verse plus a few in-depth details about the first part verse.

I’m going to start at the end – with verses 32-33 (the last paragraph of the given verse). Jesus is saying that when we love and treat those who are good to us and love us – what’s the point? What do you truly gain? Yes, it’s crucial for those who love you to love you and for you to love them back, but what about that kid who bullied or you really bad once – maybe more? It’s easy to hold a grudge against them, hoping something bad will happen to them, just as something bad happened to you, or if they try to apologize, you want them down on their knees begging for mercy while you have your arms crossed, foot tapping, and your head angled enough to look down on them making a disgusted face and refusing – until they collapse – to forgive (Jesus even points out that when we love those who love us – even murderers, prostitutes, etc. love those who love them – that’s what he’s referring to when he says “sinners.”) Why is it easy to hold a grudge and not “love our enemies” as we’re instructed? Let me tell you a secret – it’s called flesh; sin. We want to have revenge; satisfaction, making whoever made us feel unloved, unwanted, and not good enough… we those who weren’t good to us, have the same feelings, if not worse.

See, if we only love and do good to those who love us and do good to us, then we do not truly treat those how we want to be treated, we don’t understand truly what it is like to love our enemies. We don’t know what it’s really like to show them God’s love, and we don’t try to understand how to act or reply in a Godly way to those who wrong us. Just like in school, teachers teach and have the students practice the concept they teach – for without practice how can we truly learn and know the material?

Rewinding to the first section of the verse (vs. 27-31)… try applying what I just said about verses 32-33 to these verses. Have a different perspective now? What about a new plan or way to approach situations in relation to these?

Now, in verse 27, isn’t just loving loving your enemies that “Oh, that wasn’t nice – but all well” attitude, it’s about coming along side them, helping them; showing God’s true love, and forgiving them even if they haven’t asked forgiveness. As a Christian, we should always strive to go that extra step. And – or more – but, when these situations come up, we need to check ourselves – giving/praying (to) our hearts to hearts to God and letting him take those grudges and put them away – destroy them. We also need to make sure our actions are for self-glorifying reasons.

You know that sarcastic phrase that people (you) often mutter when in or towards a situation that comes up and is hurtful, benigning, etc.? The one that goes: “Well, that was a slap in the face.” Literally, it could of been – but that’s also when you show grace and turn the other cheek. Don’t lash out, don’t retaliate. Humbly offer the other side of your face. Either they will “hit” you again or be in shock from your actions. And even if it seems that your actions had no effect – let me assure you, they did. God is planting that seed in their heart through you. Some may often even come back asking questions, because their so dumb-founded, of “Why?” and “How?”. That is your opportunity to tell of the “why” and “how.” The same application can go for the second half of verse 29 – where it talks about offering someone your “tunic.” When someone begs – have a compassionate heart. Give to them – and don’t demand repayment or ask for what you gave to be given back to you. Whether is was simply loaning a money to a friend who forgot their lunch at school to food to someone needy… don’t ask for repayment. These actions and showing love sets us Christians apart (and God), as I said before.

You do need to be careful though, of people who have a false claim, do show them God’s love, but be wary, going to God and seeking counsel on the situation you’re in. It’s sad, but there are people who imitate and act in ways that are deceiving to gain things they are have and don’t need.

Referring back to the first paragraph – where I was talking about how we oh-so-often struggle, I want to conclude partially in reference to Tammy Maltby’s book, Confessions of a Good Christian Girl. In the book, she talks and tells of women who struggled – these were good Christian women, leading Christ-like lives and living well, or that’s what it appeared. Yes, they loved God, but these women were conflicted with suicide, cutting, addictions (drugs, alcohol, pornography), self-image and confidence. The book tells countless testimonies of how in the deep dark, these women found the light, the love. One of the quotes Maltby put in her book, which is by Angela Thomas, goes:

“Jesus wants you to know that when you are broken, shivering, alone, or afraid, with nothing left and nowhere to go, then you can turn in His direction and lay yourself at the foot of his love…. God wants you to know that when everything is gone, that makes more room for Him, and every time there is more room for Him, you are blessed.”

(pg 5, Maltby)

In this we can take an apply the concept of that when we hold on to grudges, hate, and hurt (etc.) when you give them up and lay “yourself at the foot of His love” we are revived with his love and forgiveness. This helps us make that step to forgiving those who may have hurt us or even ourselves. Because just as other people may be our enemies and slap us in the face, we can do just as much damage, if not more to ourselves; we can easily become our own enemy. We must learn to have compassion on ourselves and others and to have respect for ourselves and others.

I wish I could write on about this topic, but time is such an enemy to me lately, so short and demanding. Before I part, until next time, here’s some verses in parting. Don’t just go, “Oh cool, verses to look at!” and ignore them or think I’ll look at them later. Look at them now. It won’t take much time.

Psalm 36:5, 1 Corinthians 13:4-13, 1 John 3:1-2, 1 John 4:7-12, 16-18

Some questions for reflection:

  1. Are you able and confident that in times when people wrong you, you can stand up, humbly, forgive, and give your burden to God, even though it’s not easy?
  2. Even when you mess up, or others, are you able to go the extra mile for God’s sake?
  3. Loving your enemy will be hard, but will you be able to rise above the offense and “offer the other cheek?”
  4. In times of distress it’s easy to forget about God – it’s easy to blame him, and in times when you want something badly, and it may not be his will – are you able to accept him and trust him to lead you 100% through?
  5. Sometimes it’s our very selves that get in the way of seeing truly what’s right – having a personal conflict is hard to accept, confess, and be able to reason and respect yourself, but sometimes that’s the first step to forgiveness. If some of these questions were hard to answer, maybe start deep in your heart and soul. Really think about it.

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How to: Pass the Test of Faithfulness

If you do not wish to read the passage in this post, 
you can also read it here (for those visionally challenged): Daniel 1:1-21 (ESV)

“In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. And he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his god.  Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans.

The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate and of the wine that he drank. they were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king. Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah. And the chief of the eunuchs gave them names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego.

But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself. And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs, and the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who assigned your food and your drink; for why should he see that you were in worse condition than the youths who are of your own age? So you would endanger my head with the king.” Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, “Test your servants for tens days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.” So he listened to them in this matter, and tested them for ten days. At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king’s food. So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables.

As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. At the end of the time, when the king had commanded that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. And the king spoke with them, and among all of them none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Therefore they stood before the king. And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom. And Daniel was there until the first year of King Cyrus.”

– Daniel 1:1-21 (ESV)

In this chapter of the book of Daniel and observing and dissecting it, before we dive in, let me point out that in verses 1-2 we are given a brief history lesson. And in this history lesson, we see that the year is about 605 B.C.

Now, discussing Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. All of these names are names of teenagers. And these teenagers’ names were changed into Babylonian names; names that were linked to the Babylonian gods, not Yahweh. The boy’s Jewish names mean (in order that they are listed above): “God is my Judge,” “Yahweh is gracious,” “Who is what God is?,” and “Yahweh is a helper.” As for the Babylonians names, they invoked the help of the Babylonian gods Marduk, Bel, and Nebo: Belteshazzar means “O Lady [wife of the god Bel], protect the king!” Shadrach means “I am very fearful [of God],” Meshach means “I am of little account” or “Who is like Aku?” and Abednego means “servant of the shining one [Nebo].” The Babylonians wanted to change the Jew’s identity completely; they wanted to extinguish their faith.

Testing reveals who and where you are. Daniel 1:8 is the key verse in the who chapter. The word “defile” means “polluting or staining.” When Daniel didn’t accept the food, he wasn’t rude in any manner, he just simply said, I don’t want to be defiled. Daniel knew that if he took this little step and did eat the food and wine of the king, it would eventually lead to bigger problems. We have to be steadfast and keep those good little things near, practice them and keep them close, for if we don’t and we slowly take little steps away from what is right, it can lead to bigger problems. When Daniel didn’t accept the food, he knew that he was taking a risk, as Nebuchadnezzar was not the type of guy one stood up to. Daniel and his friends had made up their minds before that they wouldn’t compromise – no matter what the consequence would be.

People fail because they don’t plan. Failing to plan is planning to fail.

Those things that we count valuable cost us.

The top four things things that Christians struggle with are materialism, laziness, staying accountable, and staying true to the word. When people are accountable, and they plan ahead, and realize that they need to stay focused on God, they stay on the right track. When trying to pass a test, you want to have confidence, but if you have too much confidence, things can go awry. For example, you didn’t study, but it was because you’re confident you know the material, you set yourself up to fail. Studying is crucial; especially studying God’s word.

Making your faith stronger is just – if not the most – important thing to do. God is the one who is the strongest and will help us overcome the tests of life. We need to be able to stand up to people who try to change us. We need to refuse to “bow down” to the worldly things and stay committed to our relationship and journey with God.

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Discipleship in a Broken World pt 3

Part 3 of How Following Christ Transforms Everything and Discipleship in a Broken World

“So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it–to say nothing of your owing me even your own self. Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ.
Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. At the same time, prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that through your prayers I will be graciously given to you.
Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”

– Philemon 1:17-25 (ESV)

In verses 17 to 19, Paul talks about how a disciple sacrifices for broken relationships. In these few verses, we see that he (Paul) is asking Philemon to set aside his rights as a Roman and accept Onesimus and consider the higher calling to be like Christ. Paul points that, when you get involved with helping and living for Christ, it does cost. Sometimes you, as the offended party have to stop up first and forgive. God sent his son to be among flesh, he paid the debt we could not pay. He intervened, because we could not. This is the appendix of the Christian teachings.

When Paul wrote the letter to Philemon, he left a P.S. In this, Paul said, I will repay you. He also says an “I owe you” to Philemon – as Philemon owes Paul his life.

Forgiveness and intervening is costly, and the reason disciples like to intercede is because it is refreshing and healing, and it works. All the skinless–bloody–knuckles are worth it.

In the last set of verses (verses 20-25), Paul makes the point that a disciple is confident that Christ can heal broken relationships. In the original text (Greek), “refresh my heart” was written as (excuse the bad spelling and unknown ‘pronunciation’) “shplankma,” which means “refresh me.” It is refreshing and rewarding when a person’s heart break – and when I say break I don’t mean in the “love sick” like break. I mean a heart breaking, like a when someone is breaking a horse and the horse gives in, it is a happy moment.
Paul is sure that Philemon will do the right thing, he is also confident that Philmeon will go above and beyond. There is a great deal of creativity we do when we forgive; there just isn’t one standard way of forgiving. When we forgive, we are also accountable to others. We do not live in a vacuum; unlike a vacuum and how it only sucks things in and not out, the way we live our live does affect others.

A root of bitterness in forgiveness and stubbornness in willing to let others in affects the whole body. You can either shatter the faith, break it down, or pump life into it. People will see it and see the grace of God. People will see the spirit working in you; God has dumped his grace on us, and we need to do the same for others.

Forgiveness is one of the most god-like acts we can come close to doing or perform. When we go the extra step; intercede and help out, people will see it – they will see that we have hope, and love, and grace, it is through the grace of God that we are able to show these ‘characteristics.’ The world’s hope – that people will forgive. The reason we still have so many broken relationships is because someone isn’t willing to step up and forgive.

Each one of us here is in debt to our parents, teachers, and obligations to repay, though they don’t expect it, it is our duty to forgive whether or not they have blatantly wronged us or didn’t mean to wrong us. When we don’t forgive, we thwart the plan of God.

“Prayers are the nerves that move the muscles of God’s powers.” – Unknown

Before you close the tab or go back, take a minute to answer these questions. And please answer them full-heartedly, not a third, or half, or five-sixths heartedly – make sure it’s 100% full-hearted. There are only two questions, and one I wrote down an answer, but see if you can come up with your own.

– What is the nature of forgiveness?
It is promising that you will not take revenge on the person who wronged you. It’s saying I won’t bring it up to you, myself, and other people.
– As a disciple, how far should I go to intercede in a broken relationship?

Some relating verses:

– Isaiah 2:4

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Discipleship in a Broken World (pt 2)

Part 2 of How Following Christ Transforms Everything

“Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you–I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus– I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment. (Formerly he was useless to you but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. I would have been glad to keep him with me in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord.
For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved bother–especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.”

– Philemon 1:8-16 (ESV)

In these verses, Paul is talking about how a disciple intercedes in broken relationships. When Paul wrote the letter, he put the greetings and who was sending it at the top – that’s how people sent letters then. Unlike us, where we sign a letter at the bottom. Paul has the heart of a forgiven man, if you don’t know what this means – he knows what it’s like to be forgiven and is able to forgive and have grace. If you’re still unclear what this means, read part one of this series.

Paul, as we see, loved Philemon as a brother. He (Paul) has a high regard for Philemon, as he was an established man of power in the Roman Empire. Paul knew that Onesimus, Philemon’s slave, had run away and he had met him.

When Onesimus ran away from Philemon, Paul realized that he wasn’t running away from Philemon, but from God. Paul told him that he could go on and try to run away from God for all of eternity, but it’s useless, because God will always call and chase after us, only to pick us up in his arms and reassure us that we cannot live without Him.

Side Note: You may be thinking – running away. It’s not that big of a deal. I beg to differ. In the Roman world, running away as a slave was a huge deal, as it was punishable by death if you were caught, and you could be put to death right then and there. It also often meant that the master was cruel and such. It was quite a big deal and a huge demeanor to the master in the social realm. Philemon was no such master, he was kind, gracious, and caring towards his workers. But because Onesimus ran away, Philemon was ridiculed and mocked; he was put down by his fellow Romans. Philemon was willing though, to be a teacher. For when Onesimus returned, he was not going to punish him, but teach him.

God asks us, despite being ridiculed and mocked (etc.), to minister to the people who want to be taught. We need to pray for those who do not want to be taught – that their hearts would soften and they’d be willing to hear God’s word.

In verse 11, there is a play on words that the English translation misses. “Onesimus” means “useful” — and in verse 11, Paul said he was once useless to you, but now he is useful. In verse 13, Paul talks about not wanting to send Onesimus back, as he wants Onesimus to serve him while he is imprisoned, and in verse 14, Paul said, “but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord.”

Paul is saying we need to look from God’s perspective, forgiveness is the key to restoring a relationship. When we accept Jesus, it changes our life, and though you may not feel like their life is changed, God is working in you and you have to have faith and trust and obedience. A kind of forgiveness, the highest form, is when we have to forgive someone, and they know not what they have done. In Luke 23:24, Jesus cries out something similar like this as he is dying on the cross. Bloody, in pain, and suffering the world’s sin, as well as processing the emotional pain of his father turning his back on him, he said these words: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

A lack of forgiveness impeded your joy as a Christian, if you hold back forgiveness you will not enjoy the forgiveness God has given us. Letting go of a wrong someone has done against you – whether intentionally or unintentionally – means more than just the words “I forgive you.”
A lack of forgiveness impedes your joy with other Christians – you lose the joy of fellowship.
A lack of forgiveness assumes against the role of God. In Matthew, Jesus says, “Do not repay evil fro evil.”
A lack of forgiveness makes you unfit for worship.
Lacking forgiveness misunderstands the nature of trials.
We need to have a good perspective of ourselves, and it is pride that often gets in our way – “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall,” (Proverbs 16:18 ESV).

Before wrapping up this post, I want to impose on you a few questions.

– Is it worth being miserable for the rest of your life because of the lack of forgiveness?
– How should you counsel someone who was finding it difficult to forgive someone else?
– What biblical principles apply?

Don’t just read through the questions and answer them in like a three-second answer. Take time, think about it. Write the answer down, if needed to help you truly answer in a truthful and honest way.

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mirrored sunset

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike. I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should.

– Ephesians 6:10-20 (NIV)

We live in a time of war, not just physically like with the Iraq or Afghanistan war, but also spiritually. So many Christians lose faith because the Devil is able to creep his way in and take out, we must, in order to fight him off, put on the armor of God. There are four points in these ten verses. The first being the armor of God (10-12). The “full armor of God” is referring to the Psalm and Isaiah soldier; Ps. 59:17. It is only with the armor of God that we can defend against the Devil. When we try to do it ourselves it doesn’t work out so well and we end up losing the battle and seriously wounded. In verse twelve it says: “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” It’s true. We are not fighting beings with flesh-and-blood, we are fighting dark forces; dark spirits that would love to ruin our lives and make sure we never see the light of Christ. In this day and age our modern war technology is amazing and deathly accurate, but it’s useless when fighting a war that one cannot see physically. We must turn to “old-world technology” and less advanced ways; we must put on the armor of God and arm ourselves with his word and prayer.

In the second point, the passage talks about the specific parts of the armor of God (13-17). Each part of the armor blocks major places we are vulnerable and replaces those weaknesses with God’s strength. There’s the belt of truth – for flesh loves to deceive and lie. The body armor of righteousness, to protect our hearts and keep them pure with good morals, for flesh likes to corrupt the good. The shoes of peace, so that we may be swift and well in sharing with others about God’s love and spiritual peace. The shield of faith is there to stop the arrows of the dark side (Devil) and keep them from burning our souls and turning them to ashes. The helmet of salvation, to protect our head so that we can make right choices and acknowledge our salvation and surrender in Christ. Finally, there’s the sword of the Spirit, which we use to cut down and vanquish the enemy and turn others to God, for the sword of the Spirit is God’s word; the Bible.

In the third point, I want to emphasize of blocking and extinguishing the Devil’s fire (16-17). When we block his fire, we don’t want to just bounce it off and let it burn elsewhere, when we block it, we need to them charge and suffocate it so that it cannot burn in the place it seeks to wreak havoc and destruction. To put that fire out we need to use God’s word, as well as prayer,  and speak the words of truth and justice. God’s word is like rain to the Devil’s fire – it rains till it’s out. Arming ourselves with verses for every occasion will prove us well, even if it seems like a waste of time at first, it’s not. At all. You’ll be thankful one day that you sat down, or while on a business trip, or on the school bus you looked at one verse and memorized it, adding it to your permanent memory bank, for you’ll be able to think and treasure each verse.

In the final point, it’s using prayer and the word of God in this spiritual battlefield – warfare if you will. We are told to pray at all times and on every occasion. At first it seems absurd, but once one does it enough, it becomes a part of life and we grow in our faith; stronger in it. Prayer is one of the biggest connections we have to our heavenly Father – it’s our way of communication to Him. When our connection isn’t strong, then our relationship with Him isn’t as strong as it could be. It’s like if you didn’t talk to your father often, your relationship would be poor and you wouldn’t trust him as much, and when you needed help, he wouldn’t understand well, because your communication was lacking. Of course God knows your every thought and feeling, but he loves when we talk to him and let out our frustration and troubles. We need to pray, too for each other. We are all in the battlefield – at school, our homes, or out on the mission field. We need to ask God to give us the wisdom and the words to speak to share and spread His word and the good news about Him. Even when we’re in chains (spiritually or literally), we need to still be bold and share. His word is like a wild fire – once it catches it spreads fast.

In conclusion, we need to though, understand that faith does not protect us, but it seeks to find a protector – God. To me, my faith is like a privilege. Jesus did not have to die to save us from certain spiritual death. He did not have to create us. He did not have to share about His wonders and amazing love and forgiveness. I am so glad that He did do those things… and more, much more. We cannot thank him enough. Reason alone will never figure out this world. We need the word of God to discern things in this world for us.

Some corresponding passages are Ephesians 4:1, which is one of the main points in this passage – it’s part of its context. Ephesians 4:44 also corresponds to this passage – it talks about putting on a new self, putting on these new weapons, and bracing to go out and share the Faith. In Psalm 88 it talks about wrestling with God, which is and can be a part of the spiritual warfare we endeavor and have to conquer with putting up a white flag and surrendering ourselves to God. Hebrews 12:1-3  talks about God and how He promises to bring differentiation to our lives because he loves us. Psalm 18 is about how we need to be trusting in God at all times, it talks of how there are perils, it seems, and how God is our solid foundation – a foundation that is never shaken or broken. Romans 13:8-12 is a great parallel to this passage, vs. 8 talks how we own no one anything, except loving each other, 10b talks how love is fulfilling, and vs. 12 talks about casting off darkness and putting on armor of light.

A Few Reflection Questions:

    1. How does this fit in with everyday life?
    2. Verse 10 is a continuation of verse 9, it is about family, work, etc. How does spiritual warfare play out in these places?
    3. In one of the corresponding passages, Romans 13:8-12, verse 8 and 10b talk about how we owe no one anything, except loving each other and how love is fulfilling. How do you think you could apply these to your lifestyle and seeing how true love is fulfilling?

Love moves towards people – it does not pull away.

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