Category Archives: Victorious Living

Abrahams Blessings – How Much Do You Love Your Descendants?

In the previous post, we saw that Abraham’s initial disobedience delayed the blessings God had in store for him. We also saw that Abraham did not obey God fully. Though God told him to leave his relatives behind, he decided to take his cousin, Lot! You will see that this turned out to be a really bad move as you continue reading.

When Abraham finally decided to separate from Lot, being the kind of guy he was, he asked Lot to move to any portion of the land he desired. After scoping out the land, Lot decided to choose the fertile plains of the river Jordan. This meant that Abraham had to make due in the less fertile land of the wilderness (desert).

Soon after this occurred, God showed Abraham the implication of Lot’s decision to choose the fertile land. He showed Abraham that his descendants would spend 400 years in captivity in Egypt in a dream!

Our disobedience to God today can lead to grave consequences for our descendants tomorrow

See, it is not unusual for a famine to occur in desert lands. When a famine occurs, it is the people who live in the flood plains of a river that are protected.

Because Abraham took Lot with him, and Lot chose the plains of river Jordan, Lot’s descendants were shielded from the effect of the famine that hit the land. Conversely, Abraham’s descendants were forced to seek refuge in Egypt where there was plenty of food. Thus we see that Abraham’s decision to take Lot influenced their migration from Canaan to Egypt.

Our disobedience today can impact our descendant’s ability to stay in their land of promise

God, knowing all this was going to happen once Abraham made his decision to take Lot, allowed Joseph to be sent ahead of the famine so that the family would be welcomed in Egypt. So they stayed in Egypt (the land of Goshen) – in a good land where they grew in numbers and flourished!

But there was a problem. They were not in their promised land! Therefore, as they grew more prosperous, the Egyptians became more afraid. Instead of kicking them out of the land, the Egyptian Pharaoh decided to use their skill and strength to make his people wealthy. So he subjected them to serfdom!

Any flourishing we do in a place God has not called us to will end up being short-lived

When the time was right – when they had grown enough in numbers and the adversity of Egypt had toughened them up enough – and they called out to God for help, God sent them a deliverer (Moses).

Now they were ready to go back and take back the land promised to them. If they had gone back sooner, they would not have had the strength nor the numbers to fight for the land they left.

This is the domino effect of Abraham’s decision to take Lot:

  • Lot chose the fertile land, leaving Abraham to choose the wilderness
  • Abraham’s descendants had to leave Canaan for Egypt because they lived in the desert when famine struck
  • Others took over the land that was theirs when they had to leave
  • Abraham’s descendants loved the fertile land of Egypt and decided to stay (they would have had the fertile land in Canaan if Abraham had not taken Lot)
  • Abraham’s descendants had to grow and strengthen so they could go back to Canaan to fight for the promised land
  • The Egyptian Pharaoh became afraid of their numbers and made Abraham’s descendants life miserable
  • Abraham’s descendants ultimately went back to Canaan and got back the land that was theirs…including the fertile Plains of the Jordan.

In conclusion, if you really love your family, you will do what God asks you to do, even if your decision is not popular with your family members.

 

 

 

 

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Relationship Lessons From People In The Bible – ADAM

It was love at first sight when I laid eyes on Eve. Indeed, God outdid Himself when He made her. She was like nothing I had ever seen before. I was so awe-struck by her appearance that the first words out of my mouth were ‘wow…man’. So, I dropped the center w and called her woman as a tribute, for indeed she succeeded in wooing me off my feet at first sight. I suppose you could say it was love at first sight. Those early days of our relationship were wonderful!

But the wonder went by the wayside the day we both decided to eat the fruit God told us not to eat. I will never forget that day. It was the day I abdicated responsibility for eating the fruit and instead threw Eve under the bus – blaming her for giving me the fruit. In that moment, I completely neglected the fact that I had my own free will and chose to eat the fruit.

Why did I eat that fruit you ask? I can’t point to just one reason but a myriad. First, the fruit looked really good and appetizing. Second, I knew she desired the fruit too. So, I thought why not! I convinced myself that not only was I going to please my wife, it would also help move us towards our goal of becoming one. I reasoned to myself that God wouldn’t mind us disobeying his word since it would help us fulfill his desire of oneness for Eve and me.

What is that popular saying people have today? Ahh yes…“Happy wife, Happy life”. It didn’t quite work that way for me. When I ate the fruit, Eve was happy in that instant, but it did not take us long to realize we had opened up Pandora’s box. Our happiness quickly disappeared and our lives became miserable.

The immediate period of adjusting to our new normal was especially rough. After experiencing marital heaven for so long, our new normal seemed like marital hell. We pointed fingers at each other and had lots of arguments. Instead of getting us closer to each other, eating the fruit ended up separating us.

I thank God that Eve and I were both committed to each other though. As time passed, we both realized that we had to let go of the past in order to move forward. Neither of us could go back in time and fix our mistakes. We just had to make the best of the situation at hand and learn from our past mistakes.

Still, it is clear that we would not be in our predicament if only we had listened to God in the first place. From that moment on, we stopped debating whether to believe God or not. We realized He is infinitely wiser than we would ever be and so submitted to His lordship.

Relationship Lessons

  1. Do not sacrifice permanent joy for temporary gratification
  2. God knows what is best for your relationship – trust the boundaries He sets for you
  3. You have to let go of the past in order to move forward
  4. Your commitment to your partner will determine whether your relationship survives
  5. Your commitment to God will determine whether your relationship thrives

Meditation

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding
– Proverbs 3:5
Note: The biblical story referenced can be found in Genesis 3:1-13  

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Winning the Battle Over Depression – Part VII – Overcoming Anxiety Through Spiritual Balance

King Canute, also known as Cnut the Great, ruled the North Sea Empire (modern day England, Norway, and Denmark) in the 11th Century. Beloved by his courtiers, he was often lauded as the supreme lord and ruler of the land. One day, the king grew tired of the incessant praise and asked his courtiers to place his throne by the shore during low tide. Then as the tide rose throughout the day, he proceeded to command the tide to stop rising and not to wet his feet and robe. When the tide disobeyed his commands and wet him, he stepped back and said to his courtiers: ‘Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings, for there is none worthy of the name, but He whom heaven, earth, and sea obey by eternal laws.‘”

We can rule over somethings, but there are other things that we have no rule over.

We are spiritual beings endowed with power to rule. At the very beginning, we were empowered to rule all things except one another (Genesis 1:26 NKJV). Then we decided to give up our birth right and so lost power to rule just about all things but ourselves. Since that time early on in the history of mankind, man has been trying to get that power back – to control that which it lost power to control.

To complicate matters a little, though we lost power to rule, we did not lose power to steward (manage).

Finding spiritual balance is about knowing the difference between the things we have power to rule and the things we have power to steward.  In his address to his courtiers, King Canute points out that the things we have rule over pales in comparison to that which we are called to manage. In the rising tide example, we no longer have rule over the tide, but we sure can steward or manage what we do with it.

Spiritual imbalance is trying to rule over what we have been empowered to steward and trying to steward what we have been empowered to rule

We have been empowered to rule our mind and body. We own them and so they are subject to our kingship. Yet sometimes we allow our mind and body to take over. We become a slave to them. This is tantamount to giving up the power we have to rule! When we stop ruling our mind and body is when our lives go out of control!

Practical Application: When your mind starts to think about things that you do not care about, tell your mind to stop it, and then engage your body to take tangible action to change what your mind is thinking about. Engaging your body may mean subjecting one of your five senses to something different. Walk somewhere, listen to something new, look somewhere else, squeeze a stress ball, or go outside and smell the flowers. Do something to change the trajectory of your thinking before it takes over.

Trying to rule what we have been called to manage is playing God. Since we are not God, it leads to high stress and disappointment with very little chance of continued of success. This can lead to unnecessary anxiety and depression

Can we manage our relationships, our future, our health, our finances? Sure we can! Can we rule over these things? No we cannot, since to rule over something means that we can guarantee the outcome.  Therefore, we should not try to rule what you have been called to steward.

Now, the better stewards we become, the more likely we are to experience the outcome we desire. This gives us the impetus to become better stewards by acquiring knowledge, gaining understanding, and acting wisely. Thus, just because we cannot rule something does not mean we should give up on our stewardship.

Rule what you can and manage what you cannot rule

There are three rules I stick to when it comes to balance:

Rule 1: If the things I am anxious over are things I can manage, I don’t get depressed over them but start the journey to manage them better without marrying myself to an outcome (remember that you can’t guarantee an outcome as a steward).

Rule 2: If the things I am anxious over are things things that are in my sphere of rule, I stop allowing what I own to rule over me but learn to how to rule over them.

Rule 3: If the things I am anxious over are things I can neither rule nor manage, then I do not worry about them until they cross the threshold of rule or influence.

Do not fall into the trap that you have power over everything that happens. You know you do not. 

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Winning the Battle Over Depression – Part VII – Overcoming Anxiety Through Gratitude

I have a challenge for you if you have the courage to stomach it: When convenient for you, I want you to take an alarm clock, go down to the morgue, find a dead body, set off the alarm clock, and watch to see if the dead body comes back to life!

While I secretly hope you decide not to take on my challenge, I hope you thought about why I would ever ask you to do such a thing in the first place! It is because I want you to know that it is not your alarm clock or your body that wakes you up in the morning. Thousands of people die in their sleep daily. That you and I woke up today is a gift from our Maker.

Life is a gift you must open

I suspect that when you receive a gift, you usually thank the person that gave you the gift. So I ask you this: When was the last time you opened your eyes and truly thanked the Maker for giving you another day. Unlike the thousands of people who never wake up, you have another opportunity to take the gift of life and see what it has to offer.

The gift of life is like a fertile piece of land

Life is like a piece of fertile land…whatever you plant in it grows. Life takes your seeds of thoughts, desires, attitude, and actions, and gives it right back to you multiplied many times over but in a different form. Therefore, to understand what you are getting from life requires that you uncover the seeds that you are planting.

If you are like me, you plant both good and bad seeds and so reap both good and bad fruit. While it is crucial to understand the nature of the bad seeds you have sown (perhaps through counselling, therapy, and self-reflection), do not underestimate the value in deliberately choosing to sow good seeds.

Your real challenge is to plant so much good seed that it overshadows and dwarfs the bad seed

One of the best seeds to plant is gratitude. When you plant it, you reap the fruit of peace of mind and favor with men. Peace because gratitude short-circuits worry by changing your minds focus from what is wrong to what is right. Favor because gratitude communicates humility. Since humility is honored in the right circles, it has the potential to lift you out of the very muck that may be causing your anxiety in the first place. Thus, gratitude has the ability to control your anxiety and to lift away anxiety by helping to change your circumstance.

So how do you grow in gratitude? An effective way is purposefully keep in mind that there are people in the world who would gladly take on our troubles any day. If you have doubts about this, just go to http://www.globalissues.org and read the poverty stats.

There is a lot for you to be thankful for today, so give thanks.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend

 – Melody Beattie

 

 

 

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Winning the Battle Over Depression – Part VI – Overcoming Anxiety Through Expectation Reset

When I was in 7th grade, my classmate committed suicide after doing poorly on a test. His parents discovered him after they forced his door open to find him strangled by a skipping rope which he used to hang himself. Why would a 12-year old kid take his own life for doing poorly on a test? And why do it before the results of the exam ever came out? While the dynamics of what he did are complex, we know for sure that he elevated the importance of the exam too high. His performance was tied to his worth as a person. Therefore when he did not do well, he considered himself a failure and so became worthless as a person in his own eyes.

We are worth more than what we do or achieve in this life

After his death, many of my classmates recalled that he had been depressed after the test. See, depression comes when we are not where we strongly believe we must be OR things are not the way we believe they must be. Thus, depression attracts those of us who have high and potentially unrealistic expectations of ourselves. Why? It is because when we don’t meet what we expect of ourselves, we feel less than. Our identity and security takes a big hit and we feel we can’t carry on.

Now, having unrealistic expectations that we feel we must meet instead of should meet is dangerous. The unrealistic nature of our expectation means that we exert a lot of time and effort to meet it. The nature of expectation itself means that any failure to meet ‘it’ is blown out of proportion in our mind and heart. When this happens is when we lose perspective and we stop being grateful for the things we should be grateful for. In other words, our unrealistic expectation hijacks our thinking to such an extent that the very things we should be grateful for often become entitlements that no longer deserve our attention.

We should not allow our failure to meet our own expectations hijack our thinking to the extent that those things we should be grateful for become entitlements

Jerry West, the hall of fame basketball player whose silhouette is on the NBA logo, suffered from deep bouts of depression that made him consider suicide, though he had a lot to be thankful for, including a loving family and adoring fans. Turns out that his father left when he was younger. He perhaps had an expectation that is father was going to be there. So he took it to heart when his father was no longer there. Was Jerry West subconsciously trying to prove to his father that he was now good enough so as to try and convince his father to stay? Is this the reason Jerry West was always one of the first to arrive in the gym and last to leave? Though the results of Jerry West’ work ethic was spectacular, the root behind the work ethic may not have been as glamorous.

In life, we should expect nothing and be grateful for everything

 The things we expect and feel entitled to can have a deleterious effect. When we expect nothing, anything we get is a free gift. If we truly see everything good as a gift, we are then able to feel and express gratitude right from our heart.

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Winning the Battle Over Depression – Part V – Overcoming Anxiety Through Perspective

The only thing you sometimes have control over is perspective. You don’t have control over your situation. But you have a choice over how you view it – Chris Pine

Perspective is everything when you are facing the challenges of life – Joni Eareckson Tada

I once designed an experiment with my friends that involved a half filled cup of water. My objective to see to see how many people would consider the cup half full and how many would consider it half empty.

So I decided to split my friends into two groups of four – a blue group and a green group. Next, I set up meetings with each person in the two groups over the course of a month.

When meeting with those in the blue group, I kept the cup empty at the start of our meeting and then filled up the cup five minutes before I had to leave and then asked if they considered the cup half full or half-empty.

With the green group, I kept the cup full at the start of our meeting. Then I drank half the water in the cup five minutes before leaving, and asked if they considered the cup half full or half-empty.

The result: 3 out of 4 people in the blue group considered the cup half full. 3 out of 4 people in the green group considered the cup half empty.

When I asked the people in the blue group why they saw the cup as half full, they said the cup was previously empty and now it was half full. When I asked the people in the green group why they saw the cup as half empty, they said the cup was previously full and now it wasn’t. It seemed both the blue and green group looked at the current state of the cup through the lens of the previous state of the cup.

Like those in the blue and green group, our perspective of our current state is highly dependent on our previous experience.

For example, a girl who has only ever slept on a memory foam mattress may see having to downgrade to a spring mattress as a shocker and so experience a measure of anxiety over the situation. This is like going from the glass being half full to half empty.

On the other hand, a girl who has only ever slept on a thin mat may see going to a spring mattress as fantastic development and so experience a measure of happiness. This is like going from the glass being empty to being half full.

The key to developing a well rounded perspective is to subject ourselves to a myriad of experiences that range from the cup being empty to the cup being full

If you have only had full cup experiences, you should design a controlled experiment where you see an empty cup.

Many times, we get depressed when things are not the way we think or expect them to be. What perspective does is change the way we think or expect them to be. The more variety we experience, the more well-rounded our perspective. The more well-rounded our perspective, the less likely we are to be anxious or depressed over a particular situation.

Our experiences change our perspective and our perspective change our expectations 

So give yourself the gift of perspective today. Go down to the homeless shelter. Listen to the story of a person whose life has been ravaged by drugs. Watch the story of a single who went from rags to riches.

You must do these things for it to really sink in. Knowing that there are people out that have it worse than you won’t be as effective.

Know that it will not always be the way it is today.

Things do and will change.

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Winning the Battle Over Depression – Part IV – Overcoming Anxiety through Prevention

This series comes as a result of a friend who battles with depression asking that I write something on the topic that may help her. This series looks at depression from a biblical perspective. I hope it helps anyone struggling with depression in some way.
Note: I encourage you to read the earlier posts associated with this series to give yourself the best opportunity to get the most out of this topic. Click on the following links for the first three installments of the series: Part I – Root cause of depression & Part II – What anxiety does to the heart & Part III – Root cause of anxiety

Overcoming Anxiety

Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad

– Proverbs 12:25

We can overcome depression by employing strategies that are implicit in the same foundational scripture that forms the bedrock of this series: (1) Stopping anxiety from getting into our hearts (2) Expelling the anxiety that enters our heart before it has a chance to morph into depression.

To effectively overcome depression, both strategies much be employed. While learning how to prevent anxiety from travelling from your mind into your heart is the preferred strategy, no one on this earth will be 100% effective at executing this strategy. Therefore, it is equally as important to learn how to extricate anxiety form your heart.

Stopping Anxiety From Getting Into Your Heart

To stop anxiety from getting into your heart, you have to guard your heart. The bible puts it this way: Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life (Proverbs 4:23). The best way to guard your heart can be found in the following scripture:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds – Philippians 4:6-7

Point A: The peace of God guards our hearts as we humbly submit everything to God.

Whatever we do not submit to God, we take responsibility for, and we try to exercise control over. While taking responsibility is generally a good thing, there are many things we cannot and should not try to control. These include things such as what others will do, and what will happen in the future. It is only when we get rid of our illusion of control will we become humble enough to submit our situation into the hands of a supreme being.

Point B: Prayer is the bedrock of humility. It diverts anxiety from travelling into our heart and into the hands of God.

Prayer says “I can’t do it by myself, God I need you”. Hence, prayer is the language of humility. This does not mean that your situation will change immediately, if at all. What it does do is prevent your heart from being infected with anxiety.

Unfortunately, we often think of prayer as the last resort in our lives. Have you ever heard, “there is nothing more to do now but pray”. Have you said it yourself? This is an attitude that speaks to our tendency to want to feel a sense of control. While this may be good for our ego’s, it does nothing to relieve us of stress and anxiety.

Whatever you think you should have control over is what you will stress over or have anxiety over.

For peace of mind, prayer should be your first resort and not your last resort. Therefore, pray more and pray often. Let go of control and watch peace flood your heart.

In the next blog, I will address how to overcome anxiety through perspective.

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Fear Or Faith – Which will you feed?

An old Cherokee teaches his grandson about life, saying:

“A fight is going on inside me. It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Faith and fear are two powerful wolves that do battle against each other. The wolf we feed determines whether we live a life of adventure or absentia; whether we live as a warrior or a wimp; whether we are a champ or a chump; whether we live a life of wonder or we live our lives in the wilderness (dry and desert place without life).

Speaking of wilderness, the bible tells of a story of a group of people who after spending roughly two years in the wilderness were faced with the option – feed their faith or feed their fear. Ahead of them was an awesome land flowing with milk and honey –  a land promised to them by God, therefore a group of twelve men were sent ahead to spy out the land for 40-days.

While each of the twelve men lived in the same environment, they experienced different realities. Ten of the twelve men said the congregation should stop making progress because they had fed their fear. The last two of the twelve said to take possession of the land because they had feed their faith. By this, we already see that fears puts a halt to progress in life, but faith always looks to move forward.

The story, which can be found in 13th and 14th Book of Numbers teaches us about the symptoms of faith and fear. Below are some symptoms the story points out. Hopefully, this will help you identify whether you are walking in faith or fear.

Fear

Numbers 13:28: Fear see’s what is good just as people with faith see what is good, but fear chooses to focus on the bad, and what could go wrong. Fear is not grateful for what it has but always looks for what is missing. They key word to ponder is the word ‘Nevertheless’

Numbers 13:31: Fear is a naysayer (always says I can’t) instead of a can-doer (which says I can). Fear discourages people and tells them there is no point in trying.

Numbers 13:32: Fear exaggerates and tells lies to defend its position. Look at this verse again. If the land truly devours people, how is it that they were able to stay there for 40-days?

Numbers 13:33: Fear causes us to have a poor self-image and assumes other people see us the same way. Think of this verse where it says, we saw ourselves as grasshoppers and we were as grasshoppers in their sight.

Numbers 14:2: Fear always complains and always looks to blame others.

Numbers 14:2 Fear would rather die than try – fear gives up before it ever gets a chance to begin.

Numbers 14:3: Fear would rather go back to the past it knows rather than a future that is promised. Fear would rather go for security rather than go after significance.

Numbers 14:4: Fear is disobedient to God and rebels against Him.

Numbers 14:4: Fear does not look to past victories for strength but quickly forgets them

Numbers 14:10: Fear does not listen to reason or opposite points of view. In fact, it can’t stand opposing views.

Faith

Numbers 13:30: Faith always quietens an intense situation to provide a calm in the middle of a storm.

Numbers 13:30: Faith looks to take immediate action and does not procrastinate to take hold of God’s promises. Faith does not see obstacles but opportunities.

Numbers 14:8: Faith focuses on the good and not the bad

Numbers 14:8: Faith understands that all things are possible with God

Numbers 14:9: Faith see’s things through the eyes of God and not through the eyes of man.

Which Will You Feed

As the story goes, ten of the spies fed their fears and caused others in the wilderness to feed their fear. As a result, all of them wondered in the wilderness aimlessly, and all died in the wilderness (except the two who had faith) and never entered into the good land that was promised them. Only the two who had faith entered into their promise land.

This carries some warning for us:

  • Be careful not to listen to or take advice from people who are feeding their fears – fearful advice will keep you in the wilderness (desert) of life
  • Feeding our fears will lead us to wonder aimlessly in life and we will miss out on God’s best for us
  • Living with those who are feeding their fears will impact how quickly we will be able to live God’s best, so be careful who you associate with for it will delay destiny.

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The Curious Life of Buddy Law – A man with sight living as a blind man

I have a friend, Buddy Law, who is the same age as me. Buddy was born blind. For most of his adolescent and teenage years, Buddy walked around with the aid of a walking guide. Because he had the guide for a long time, Buddy  became adept at navigating through life with it. The walking stick quickly became an extension of him. It became his dear friend, his guide, his way of moving through life.

Then one day, Buddy ran into a doctor that told him he had a remedy that could reverse the condition that caused his blindness. Though skeptical, Buddy decided that he had nothing to lose and so went in for treatment. That one decision changed his life. After years of being blind, his eyesight was suddenly restored.

If you were to meet Buddy Law, you wouldn’t know he had regained his eyesight. Though his eyes have been opened, he still walks around with a walking guide. He keeps his eyes closed most of the time and so has to use his walking guide. He is not handicapped anymore, but possesses a mental handicap that keeps him living the life of the blind. He trusts the guide more than he does his opened eyes.

Why are you friends with Buddy Law? Some have asked out of curiosity. Why keep company whose behavior is odd for someone with sight they wonder.

I don’t know. Perhaps Buddy and I are friends because I can relate to him. Like him, I was born spiritually blind. Therefore, I bumped into things and fell into ditches I did not know were there. After years of being bruised and battered, luckily I found a walking guide by the name of the law. With the aid of the law, which some now call religion in some circles, I attempted to go through life without bumping into things. I became aware of ditches and was able to avoid them. Life was good.

Then one day, I bumped into a doctor by the name of Jesus (see Mark 2:17). He led me into His office and opened my eyes. He took the walking guide away from me and told me that I did not need it anymore.

He said that with my eyes now opened, I could go beyond avoiding trouble to actually living the life I was meant to live. Your perception of reality is about to change, He told me before I walked out of the office. You will now see things as they really are, not the way you always imagined things will always be. Though, the law (walking guide for the blind) was good, grace (sight of those with faith) is better.

Why do I befriend Buddy? It might be because I turn into him from time to time. I close my eyes to the grace of God and pick up the law once again. When I do this, I find that I turn into someone trying to avoid mistakes, feeling my way through life in the dark, not knowing where I am going, and therefore not enjoying the fullness of life. I find myself wanting to stick to environments I know – chasing after security. Anything different scares me. Every sudden noise and situation that I am not familiar with strikes me with terror. I become someone I do not recognize.

But then something within me tells me to let go of the walking stick, so I do. Why do I keep this wretched walking guide around, I ask myself when I open my eyes.

That’s when it hit me. I realized that I had a fear about losing my eyesight though the doctor had told me that this was impossible. My problem was that I did not believe the doctor and so I kept the law at hand as an insurance policy.

I realized that my unbelief concerning the grace of God was keeping me from living the best life he had in store for me.

Like me, everyone had told Buddy to keep an insurance policy. You better keep you walking guide next to you. What will you do if you lose your eyesight and you don’t have it next to you?

Buddy is now seeing that his unbelief is what is leading him to take hold of the walking guide. So he has resolved to spend more time with the doctor – to really get to know Him. Now seeing the character of the doctor, he is doing a much better job leaving the walking guide behind. One day, he resolves to change his name from Buddy Law to Buddy Grace.

Who would you like to be – Buddy Law or Buddy Grace?

When we decide to trust God is when our name gets changed – from Jacob to Israel, from Abram to Abraham, from Saul to Paul, from Simon to Cephas.

Do you need to change your guide? Do you need a name change?

 

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God I am Serving You, So Why Does Life Feel Like a War Zone?

A few days ago, I woke up to a text from a friend that read, I am serving God faithfully, so why does it feel like my life is under attack. I texted back, Perhaps you are being attacked precisely because you are serving God faithfully. I then shared the passage of scripture found in 2 Chronicles 32:1 which speaks to how Hezekiah, the king of Judah, was attacked by an enemy right after showing himself faithful to God.

As wonderful as it would be for life to become filled with fluffy bunnies and fanciful unicorns the moment we decide to serve God, this is not the reality of living in a fallen world (see Note A below). Conversely, Jesus says that in this world, we will have trials and tribulation but that we should cheer up for He has overcome the world (John 16:33). Another biblical verse tells us to count it all joy when we fall into trial and tribulations (James 1:2).

Cheer up? Count it all joy? How can God say to do these things that contradict our situation? What He asks us to do is only possible when we defer to what we KNOW is ahead of us versus what we SEE happening in front of us.

Knowing that Jesus has overcome the world allows us to put our faith in Him. Knowing that we inherit the promises of God by faith and patience (Hebrews 6:12) allows us to endure trials for we understand that the testing of our faith produces patience (James 1:3).

So we see that there is a promise at the end of the problem if we endure faithfully and patiently. See, anyone living in this world will experience problems. The good news for us in Christ is that we know that nothing we go through is wasted, but those things carry with them a promise. While the world can only look forward to surviving a problem, we can look forward to a blessing that comes from the problem. Now isn’t that a reason to cheer up?

So we see why Satan attacks those who have chosen to serve God faithfully. He does not want us to inherit the blessed promise. Moreover, he does not want our faith and patience in trials and tribulation to be a testament to those around us so they are blessed.

Below are three times in our lives when we should not be surprised we are under attack – it speaks to how to recognize the attack, what the attack entails, and what to do.

(1) When Satan Discovers Your Purpose

The bible tells of King Herod who ruled when Jesus was born. Being influenced by Satan, and not wanting Jesus to take his rightful place as king, he decreed that every male child 2 years old and under should be killed. So we see that when Satan realized Jesus’ purpose, his immediate goal is was to deny Him the opportunity to choose it.

You don’t have to know your purpose before Satan starts to plot against you to deny you the opportunity to step into it. The tactic of denial works like this: It keeps doors shut, puts up road blocks, and distracts to keep you from your purpose.

The good news is that if we keep the faith and persevere, we have a promise. He opens doors that no one shuts and shuts doors that no one opens (see Revelations 3:7). That is to say that there are doors that will open up and will remain open.  We just need to choose to step into it.

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine could not buy a job if she wanted to pay for it. Upon persevering, her problem changed from not being able to find a job to deciding which job opportunity she should choose. So keep heart!!

(2) When You Are About to Step Into Your Purpose

The bible tells us that Satan showed up right before He stepped out into His ministry after fasting 40-days and nights. In this vulnerable state, Satan attacked Jesus with doubt of who He was, deception as to the will of God, and detour from His purpose in hopes Jesus would take the easier route.

Right before taking a big step in life, do not be surprised if you are filled with seeds of doubt (about yourself and what you are doing) and have all sorts of voice telling you that you are not in the will of God, especially if you are going against the grain of populism or stepping out of your comfort zone.

If Satan can’t use others to influence us in this way, he will always give us an easier option that seems to accomplish the same goal.

If this is where you are, respond like Jesus. Respond with what you know God has told and promised you specifically and avoid the ‘maybe God wants you to’ statements that others will offer. Note that Satan’s retort to quote scripture to Jesus during the temptation in the wilderness was a ‘maybe God wants you to’ tactic. Instead of guessing the will of God, know the will of God.

God is not a man that he should like or like man that He should change his mind (Numbers 23:19). Keep the faith.

(3) When You Are About to Fulfill Your Purpose

The Bible tells us that Jesus’ heart was exceedingly sorrowful right before He entered the very last leg of fulfilling His purpose. In other words, Jesus was filled with despair.

Don’t be surprised if you have bouts with despair and seem to have lost joy though you know you are in the perfect will of God for your life. At this point, Satan would like you to believe that God has deserted you and that the whole thing rests on your shoulders.

Instead of listening to the sounds of your emotional and mental state, the best thing to do is go into your prayer closet. Don’t come out until like Jesus, you start to feel strengthened again from deep within your spirit. Then do not delay, go quickly to fulfill that which God has called you to do.

When you do, you will find that you trial and tribulation was all worth it. Just as God’s promises for Jesus proved true, His promises to us will prove true as well. And it will be for the glory of the kingdom of God. This is when mourning will be turned to dancing, pain to joy.

So what do you do when life feels like you are jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire? Hold fast the promises of God for your life, keep the faith and know that God is for you and has not left your side, and defeat the attacks with all the weapons of your warfare (Ephesians 6:11-18).


Note A: Living in a fallen means (a) we don’t have to look for trouble before it finds us (b) we experience the justice of God – we reap what we sow, more than we sow, and later than we sow – in other words what we do matters (c) we have a flesh problem – the flesh is an open door for Satan to wreck havoc in our lives (d) we have an enemy who can’t wait to stick it us any chance he gets

 

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