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Posts Tagged ‘sacrifice’

Broken Heart

It’s been a while since there’s been a post on this blog — so, if you’re not looking to read a book, then I’d scroll down the page and see what other posts there are, and if you’re up for a nice fire-side story… please, make yourself comfortable.

Let me start out with saying that the image in this post is over-looking part of a neighborhood in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in the early morning. This picture was taken on the last day, or morning, the team was in Haiti. Yes, I was part of that team if it isn’t already obvious. I won’t elaborate too deeply on my experience, but I will say this: No one will understand, unless they’ve been to Haiti, what I am trying to say. I could try and explain it a million ways and people would still not truly get it.

What is it?

It is my personal experience. For many of the kids on the team, including me, which consisted of 19 people total: 11 high school students, 3 eighth graders, and 4 chaperones/leaders, it was our first time going down to Haiti — and for some, it was their first time leaving the country. I have been on an international mission trip before, but to a more rural and less poverished country — Ecuador. Haiti, for me was an eye-opening experience, as it is for many, but since each person’s background story, life experiences, etc. is different, the experience has a different impact each and every time… if that makes sense.

For me, it was a literal slap in the face. The slap in the face, honestly, wasn’t bad – in fact I desperately needed it. I was struggling with so many selfish desires – these desires were to fill that void in my heart, the pain I felt emotionally. I did nothing out of lustful intents nor anything that breaks the law… but I did hurt myself and the people closest to me because of what I was doing to myself. Basically, what I’m also trying to say is that I hit rock bottom. I was done, I didn’t want to try anymore. I was so done that I almost backed out of going to Haiti, as I was second-guessing myself so much to the point I drove myself into having anxiety attacks. Going to Haiti made me realize that I may have it rough, I may go through trials, but it is nothing compared to what the Haitian people are going through. Despite the severe poverty, crime rates, and so forth, the Christians of that society… I envy their faith. Americans are rich with possessions — most often or not unneeded possessions — while the Haitians who are (for some, literally) dirt-poor are richer than any of us Americans could imagine in their relationship to Christ. Seeing how such a poor and troubled people could be so content, so happy, snapped me out of my own trance.

Our group was working on the floor of a school at the sight of the orphanage our church has been supporting for years, now. During breaks, or when we needed a break from the heat, we would go and play with the orphans, as they were on some sort of break. Gosh, I can’t even describe the feeling of getting to interact, hold, and play with the kids — all whose ages range from 2-18 years. I can tell you, as I’m writing this, I’m smiling like an idiot and starting to tear up at all the happy memories. The bonds/friendships made will last a life-time and beyond. The night we said goodbye was heart-breaking. And at that, it brings me to the main point of this entry…

Recently, I was listening to the music on my phone. I have about 800 songs on my phone… don’t judge. Often or not, I’ll “discover” songs that I had purchased a long time ago – and when I say “a long time ago” I mean a year or so ago. Anyway, as I was listening, a song came up that I had forgotten how much meaning it had written in between the lyrics. That song was “Break My Heart by Jonny Diaz. If you have not heard the song, need a refresher, or would just like to hear it, click the link, and take a minute and listen.

Before going to Haiti, that song to me, had as much meaning as the lyrics plainly state:

I see children in slavery
It’s all too much so I turn off the TV
A world away from the world they’re in
So I give up before I even begin

To try to make this right
To try to love like Christ

So, help me see through the eyes of the hurting
Come break my heart, come break my heart
True grace sees a face, not a burden
So, come break my heart, won’t You break my heart?
Come break my heart

It’s hard to see past my picket fence
So I give a little from a guilty conscience
How can I ever really make a change
When I’m too afraid to even feel their pain

So, help me see through the eyes of the hurting
Come break my heart, come break my heart
True grace sees a face, not a burden
So, come break my heart, won’t You break my heart?

I believe that love can bridge the distance
And I believe that one can make a difference
‘Cause one man on a cross changed the world

So, help me see through the eyes of the hurting
Lord break my heart, Lord break my heart
‘Cause true grace sees a face, not a burden
Come break my heart, won’t You break my heart?

Help me see through the eyes of the hurting
Come break my heart, come break my heart
Sure, Your love should never be a burden
Come break my heart, won’t You break my heart?
Lord break my heart, come break my heart
Lord, break my heart

Taken from: SongLyrics.com

I had never given much thought to the true meaning behind the song. But I doubt I could’ve without a little extra help. After going to Haiti, I heard of the stories of children being enslaved — I even got to meet some kids who had been rescued from the restavek programs, who had been rescued from being sex slaves. I got to see first hand through the eyes of the children, thanks to the wonderful workers at the orphanage. At first I had felt nothing after interacting with the kids, but that was because I knew nothing about their past. Their burdens were not burdens to me, their burdens – well, most had let go of. Their faces would light up as soon as they saw us, and so would ours. Those kids broke my heart right in two. This “heart break” isn’t like that of a relationship between a guy and girl… that “heart broken” stuff, for that, is crap. I’m sorry, but it is. To see a child, who is as much as a total stranger to you as you are to them, come up to you without hesitation and lift their arms up as a gesture to be held, hugged, and loved… well, it is heart breaking. I wanted to feel their pain, to know what they had gone through and then see where the kids were now. My heart broke because of the type of adoration I learned of. This kind of adoration cannot be explained.

That step out of my comfort zone — going while I was struggling, going to a different country without my parents, being held at a whole new level of responsibility — is all just a mere memory now.

That love Jonny Diaz is talking about, for me, did build a bridge. It built a bridge from my heart straight to Haiti and the kids there. Their faces are forever in my head – the smiles, the laughter. I thought that while I was going to be down in Haiti, everything would just be a burden, a painful burden. I had pushed my own burdens aside, bracing for these new ones — I was asking myself, “How can I love these children? How can I show them the love of Christ? How do I communicate it?” the list goes on and on. God answered that: be yourself and simply embrace them. I needed to learn how to love these children on my own, for God knew I’d find the answers to my questions very fast.

My heart will always be broken. It will always go out to the orphans and people of the world, no matter what status they are in society. I cannot wait to go back to Haiti and hug the kids and play with them and work in the heat. I do not care what other people think of me and how I feel towards Haiti and the people. Haiti will have a special place in my heart and I will never get tired of showing God’s love in countless ways, as well as serving Him – wherever, whenever, and to whoever he calls me to minister, too.

My wish for ever person that reads this blog, in general, is that they take the message of the post away with them. And I wish for God to place a burden in people’s hearts to do his will – I also hope that each and every one of you who reads this will get a chance to go on a mission trip, as the impact is amazing and unforgettable.

In Christ,
Tori

If you have questions concerning the statics, etc. of Haiti, feel free to send me a message via the blog’s email (found on the Contact Us page).

Here are a few sites about Haiti and its background, for those interested, including information on restaceks.

RestavekFreedom.org
–> The Issue

Love In Motion

MissionofHaiti.org
–> Haiti Facts

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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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The Bravery of Your Ordinary Girl

   Date: March 1, 2014.

   This morning I read the book of Esther. I had always known it was a story about a girl who saved her people from annihilation. But up until now, I hadn’t really read the book of Esther and thought about what really went on in it.

   First off, for those who don’t know or aren’t familiar with the story, it is about a Hebrew girl who becomes the queen of Persia and saves her people from being destroyed by a powerful man in the king’s court. Esther is aided by her gifts of beauty, faith, and wisdom from God along with her cousin and guardian, Mordeci. If you want to really read the whole story (which I strongly suggest you do, it isn’t long), it is found in the seventeenth book of the Old Testament, called Esther.

   Now, I know when I was little, I always thought of Esther as a grown woman, maybe in her 20s – in all the movies, pictures, etc. that was how I had seen her depicted. In which, she was, though she wasn’t in her 20s, but in her time she was considered to be a grown woman. In our day and age she would’ve been considered a girl. Esther was a young woman – a virgin woman – who was probably no older than seventeen. Scary though, huh? (To those teenage girls out there reading this)

   Esther or Hadassah was an orphan. The Bible isn’t specific as to how old she was exactly when her parents died or how they died, but it says she was very young when Mordeci took her in as his own. You may be wondering about the name Hadassah, which means “myrtle” – Hadassah is Esther’s Hebrew name. Esther, which means “star” is her Persian name. When the Jewish people were exiled and captured first by the Babylonians, who fell to the Persians, they were given new names or names that were easier for the Persians to know and with these re-namings, it wiped the Jewish heritage in a sense or covered it up. It was like a supremacy play – renaming was like changing one’s identity.

   As I read further into the book of Esther, parts became familiar. These were the parts of the story that I had heard in those childhood stories. What I didn’t fully recognize was how truly terrified and brave Esther truly was. She was, and can be, definitely deemed as a heroine. In order to saver her people, who Haman was plotting to rid the world of. Esther had to go to the King and plead his blessing (please him) and ask him to reverse a decree Haman had put out. Now, we all may think – or I know I did – she’s the queen, he’s the king, it shouldn’t be a big deal. Customs were different then, unless the king called for the queen, she wasn’t welcome (or anyone for that matter) into the throne room. That idea of the Queen doing whatever she pleased is bologna. Yes, she did have freedom to do as she wished, but she had to obey the King’s laws – when he did summon her, she had to come. No ifs, buts, or whys. If anyone – or the queen – entered and the king didn’t find favor or holds “out [his] golden scepter so that [whoever] may live” (4:11), well it was death for the poor soul that entered.

   Esther was willing to risk it all – she was willing to give up her life to save her people. She had requested prayer and fasting from Mordeci and the Hebrew people three days in advance. God was watching over her. The event that took place wasn’t just chance or luck, it was a God moment. Not only did she gain his approval and kept her life, “she won favor in his sight” (5:2). He even showed compassion and sought to please whatever desires she wished. I think I would’ve fainted out of relief. Her request – well, she asked if the King and Haman would feast with her. She could’ve bailed completely on her plan at that moment  and instead requested riches, luxuries, etc. but she didn’t. She stayed loyal to her people and focused on her plan as well as determined.

  At the feast, or when it was finished, the King asks Esther, “What is your wish? It shall be granted you. And what is your request?” (5:6). I think this threw Esther off a bit – as she was not expecting it, even though in the text she seems calm and collected. She asks that King Ahasuerus (or Xerses I) and Haman dine with her the next night.

  During the course of the night Haman plots to hang Mordeci, though God doesn’t allow it. For what seems like a coincident, wasn’t at all. That same night, after the feast, the King cannot sleep and calls for “the book of memorable deeds, the chronicles” (6:1) to be read to him. He learned that Mordeci had saved the king’s life from two of the gate eunuchs and had not  been rewarded.  The next morning, he calls for Haman, but doesn’t mention Mordeci’s name, and asks what should be done for a man who has essentially saved his life.  Haman tells of the extravagance this man should be clothed in and honored, being paraded down the roads with a high ranked official proclaiming the favor the man has sought from the King. I love how God has such humor and knows how to knock someone off their high horse. The ironic even occurs: Haman must do all he told the King for Mordeci. And he must lead him down the streets proclaiming. This is what saves Mordeci’s life.

  Meanwhile, that even after the feast Esther really confronts the King, or answers his question of how he can grant her wishes.

This is the part that just amazes me.

Elegance. Bravery. Grace. Courage.

Understand that Haman is essentially the second in command; a little below the Queen. He is very powerful. Esther tells the King that there is a person plotting against her and her people – the Jews.

   She had not told anyone of her heritage. Naturally, the King asks who (or not naturally, but relieving). Esther stands up (not literally) to the bully – she says rather boldly, “‘A foe and enemy! This wicked Haman!'” (7:6). As I write this, I never realized why Esther invited Haman. I mean, yes, he was basically the King’s right-hand man, but she needed him there to be able to really point out who, physically. For in the Bible, after Esther breaks Haman’s plot, he is immediately “terrified of [of] the king and queen,” (7:6).

   King Ahasuerus, instead of being enraged by Esther’s reveal, he is enraged ay Haman. Haman doesn’t even try to plead his case – he had enough power, he could’ve. Esther was a Jew. Even the King could’ve thrown her out and called her crazy. But he wasn’t. Haman’s plot in the end becomes his own demise. Esther saves her people and has truly won the heart of the King.

  The application – if that’s what you want to call it – is that anyone, especially girls, can do more than just look pretty. We have voices and are more than able to speak up. Esther was a 16-17 year old girl who became queen and saved her people because of how God worked through her and gave her bravery and courage. In the ancient times, women didn’t have the same freedoms or rights as men. They were seen more as property. In the Twenty-First Century, we have the same rights as men in America. We have the equality. It’s a privilege, too. The fact that the King loved and valued her and listened to her is miraculous, literally. She was respectful. Through God anything is possible (Matt. 19:26). We, as girls, women, can be inspired by Esther – her bravery, faith, and dependence on God is awing. She was just a Hebrew girl. She was not famous, she had no real status. God could’ve pick anyone. Kind Ahasuerus could’ve chosen another woman to be queen, but he chose Esther (mainly though because of her beauty). She really was the star at that time. A star twinkles and stands out against the night sky. She did that.

   We are called to stand out, not only as Christians, but as individuals. The bravery, courage, love, kindness, and so on of one person can change either one person’s life or many people’s lives. God had a plan for Esther, she trusted him – gave him her all. We don’t know what our calling is at first. Some learn early on, some later. Whatever it is, it is amazing and perfect for you. We just have to full believe and trust.

Be brave. Be courageous. Be bold. Be you. Trust Him. Reflect Him.

Invite Him to live in your heart. Watch as your life unfolds and how we works wonders in your life and those around you.

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What's a Part Compared to the Whole?

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”

– Romans 12:1-2, 4-5 (ESV)

Most of my life I have been taught to view the church as the body of God. When I was younger, at first, I thought it was the building that made up the body, for it was the place everyone gathered, where the pastor spoke, and the people sang. But as I grew, I learned that through attending Bible study and youth group, the body wasn’t the church building it was the people; the congregation. My youth group’s “slogan” or theme, is “We don’t GO to church, We ARE the church.” This is were it comes from – the idea that it’s us, we the people, who are the church, we don’t necessarily need a “special” building, in fact many people around the world worship in houses, caves, or even out in the streets. I will admit though, that it’s nice to have a roof over your head, sound equipment, microphones, and air-conditioning when it’s hot in the summer and heat when it’s cold in the winter. But those are just necessities.

The verse that I thought of that goes along with what I’m talking about. It talks about us, as individuals and us as a body of the Christ. In the first couple of verses it refers to us as individuals, how we must present our bodies as living sacrifices. Before you freak out at the phrase “living sacrifices,” let me assure you it’s not as if we’re putting ourselves on a physical alter and tearing our hearts out for God (like the Aztecs did)! The phrase means that we offer ourselves to God holding back nothing, and allowing him to control our lives; we enjoy a new life – for we are dead in sin, but alive (and worshiping) in Christ. Continuing on, we are warned in the second verse not to be allowed to be conformed to this world’s ways.

By just observing and using our senses we can pick out that this world is corrupt – full of hurt, poverty (both materialistically and spiritually), loss (and much more). Our peers, the press, and marketing all put pressure on us. We must act a certain way, dress a certain way, wear this brand of clothing, etc. to be accepted or deemed worthy enough to be considered to be “cool.” I know a lot of people, including myself, struggle with how people think about us. For the teens reading this: our generation/age group is the most targeted group out off young children, adults, and seniors for marketing. We are emotionally unstable, trying to find that “group” we belong in, and we also have jobs – jobs that really just support ourselves, we don’t have to take care of a family or pay a mortgage. People study psychology and they know all we want to do is conform or fit in. Referring this to our faith and mindset, we need to break away from that longing. We must stand out and not follow the crowd – we must allow Christ to transform us, so that our minds and bodies can be renewed; revived. Trust me, standing out is hard, especially when most of the time you’ll get picked on or casted out. But that is what is to be expected – we will be tried, we will be tested. We’ll be tried and tested and through it all, hopefully, we’ll be able to pick out what is right in God’s eyes and plan for us, which is perfect in every aspect.

In the last couple of verses of the passage given, it talks about us as a body of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 12 (verses 17-20, 22, 24-25) Paul references the church body to the human body. After discussing the importance of each part of our body, he makes the comment of, “‘If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?…God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. On the contrary…God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another… For the body does not consist of one member but of many.'”

Just as a human body has many parts to it -all of them extremely important for the body to function – so does the church. Each part is significant, though some parts may operate in different ways – the brain telling the body what’s going on, the heart beating oxygen and blood through our veins, the lungs allowing us to breath – they all serve the same purpose; to keep us alive. The church just like that – there’s the pastor, elders and deacons, volunteers, and missionaries – all serve in different parts of the body of church, some in different parts of the world, and though there are many of us – we make up one body of Christ, living to serve him and spread about his love and sacrifice he made to make a way for us to live eternally with God in heaven.

To answer the question of: What’s a part compared to the whole? A part compared to a whole is small, but that one part is what makes up the whole (the whole body of Christ). Without that one part there would be no whole. We, as different parts of the body, make up the whole body of Christ. But for us, we would be no body without Christ at the head of it.

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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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Oh so often we often question ourselves, “When will I have time to do anything?” Oh so often we are running around from place to place, watching the time carefully and making sure we are where we are supposed to be at a certain time. I know too many people who are away from their home almost all day (excluding school); they get back around 11:00 at night and don’t go to bed until 1:00 am, because of how their day was scheduled. It’s crazy and a little insane how our society has that constant push to go, go, go. There’s never a break, or leisurely pace.

I can say when me and family went to Ecuador, I could care less what time it was. I go up early in the morning and went to bed whenever. Our days went by according to what we did, and the projects we helped out with were finished whenever they were finished; there was no set date or time. We took each day accordingly. I can admit it was hard to adjust back to my “regular” pace of life. I suddenly had to be places right on time and and leave when it was over almost immediately. I suddenly had to get up for school; set my alarm clock, and make sure I stayed on my morning schedule.

I tell you all this because once in a blue moon do we sit down and read God’s word. We tell ourselves, “I need to make time for Christ.” And maybe a few mornings we read the Bible and study a passage, but rarely do we continue this in an appropriate manner. We get caught up in life. We get caught up in this day and age’s way of how things are thought to be; not how they should be.

Are you familiar with the questions like “how do I make room for Jesus when my life is crazy?” and end up answering it with: “I should make time, maybe the down time later before practice, but I planned to go out and practice earlier with my friends…” and after that, it becomes a “should I or shouldn’t I” situation? For me this is, all too often.

I know we’re not perfect; no one is, but this is the very reason why we need to study God’s word and take and apply it to our lives and store it down in our hearts. That extra time you have before practice? Tell your friends you made another commitment. This isn’t lying, it is the truth. You made a commitment to God way before you made a commitment to your friends. I know it may be hard, trust me, but the rewards are worth it. Taking that extra time to spend with God will be the best thing you ever chose to do.

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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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