Category Archives: Victorious Living

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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Dear Christian, Who Bewitched You To Leave Goshen?

Intro

The people had hitherto seen a more curious sight. The magicians could not explain it and the wise men were lost for words. A man slapped himself just in case he was dreaming. But this was no dream, this was reality. What is going on he cries out aloud!

Just like every other Egyptian, while this man could not believe the severity of the plagues that was devastating their land, what was more unbelievable was that all this pestilence that had come out of nowhere did NOT touch the land of Goshen. It was as if there was an invisible barrier around Goshen that prevented all these plagues from entering.

History

If you know some bible history, you may remember that Goshen was a piece of land within Egypt where the the Children of Israel settled. After suffering under the hand of Pharaoh who had put them to hard labor, the voice of their cries reached God and He in turn decided to send them a champion called Moses who would save them from the rule of Pharaoh.

Light-bulb moment: Real and lasting change starts with crying out to God.

Moses was a messenger from God who came to put Pharaoh ‘on notice’ but Pharaoh did not like it and hardened his heart…to the chagrin of his subjects who experienced the hardships of the plagues.

Light-bulb moment: We have a choice between pinning our hopes on the ruler of this land or the ruler of the land of our heart.

Application

Of the many fascinating things about the story, the one I want to point out is that though Goshen was nestled within Egypt it did not experience the craziness that was happening with all the plagues. It was as if though it was in Egypt, it was not a part of Egypt. It seemed as if the rules of Egypt did not apply to it. It was as if Goshen was a kingdom within a kingdom. While the citizens of Egypt experienced the full effects of the plagues, those that belonged to Goshen were fully insulated from the effects of what was going on around them. Because of this, unlike the citizens of Egypt who complained about what was happening around them, those in Goshen had no cause for complaint.

If you consider the parallel between then and now, we see that land of Goshen represents the kingdom of God while the land of Egypt represents the kingdom of the world.

Implication

Friends, we ought not  to operate in the world system but operate in God’s system, for although we are in the world, we are not of the world. This means that though chaos and pandemonium may be all around, there ought to be calm and stillness where we live, for we live in Goshen.

But I am afraid to say that this is not the case lately where I live. In fact, the opposite seems to be true of those who are supposed to belong to Goshen (us Christians). Everybody is up in arms and complaining about something – making enemies of their friends based on man-made ideology. Forgetting that our battle is not against flesh and blood but against unseen forces.

Why is this? It is because we have strayed outside of the land of Goshen. When we stray outside of Goshen, the laws and rules of Goshen cease to apply but those of the Kingdom of Egypt do.

Light-bulb moment: When we desert Goshen, people stop seeing us as Goshenites but start to identify us as Egyptians. Instead of being set apart, we get stuck in place.

It Is Time To Go Back To Goshen

To get back to Goshen requires that we seek the Kingdom of God. If we seek it, we will find it. Yet if we are to find it, we need to know where to look.

God tell us that the Kingdom of God is within us. This Kingdom was given to us when the Holy Spirit was given to us. So we see, the Kingdom was sanctioned by God and negotiated for us by Jesus (through his sacrifice). And since the Holy Spirit is its custodian, there is no enjoying the benefits of the Kingdom without walking in the Spirit.

Light-bulb moment: We can’t work our way into the Kingdom of God, we can only walk  our way into it.

This is why Jesus said ‘it is good that I go’. By leaving, he was able to leave us a Helper and a guide who would guide us into the kingdom – a place where we are free of the plagues and pestilence of this world. Jesus left so that we that we could be indwelt by the Spirit not only for eternal salvation but also to experience the Kingdom life right here on earth. That is good news!

What We Are Seeing Today

What we are seeing today is a direct result of not following the lead of the Holy Spirit. When in our pride and stubbornness we decide we know better than the Holy Spirit, we step out of the Kingdom and start to operate in the world system. When this happens, we find out that we begin to pin our hopes not on God but on  whoever is ruling. And of course four years later we are not satisfied and want change again – whatever it is – only to be dissatisfied again.

Light-bulb moment: The kingdom life cannot be obtained through legislature. It can only be obtained through obedient surrender to God

What Should We Do

The bible says we will eat of the good of the land if we are willing and obedient. It does not put stipulation on who is where, what they are doing, and why they are doing it. This means that whether we experience the kingdom life or not ultimately depends on us and us alone!

Light-bulb moment: Disobedience to the voice of God is what got us where we are. Obedience to the voice of God (and not of man) is what will get us where we want to be.

What if we had applied ourselves when He told us to; what if we had gone to school? What if we had listened?  What if we listen and obey now!

Friend, lets choose to follow the lead of the Spirit today and obey his promptings. All he wants to do is lead us into the kingdom life – a life of love, joy, and peace. A life of nothing missing and nothing broken. A life that paid for by giving his own life.

Therefore, let us not expect any man, woman, political party, or otherwise to give what only God can give us. To do so is to set ourselves up for disappointment.

Food For Thought: I am the only one who can decide to leave the hell of Egypt for the heaven of Goshen.

 

 

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How to Fight to Win with Minimal Fuss

Are you in a battle that you just can’t seem to win? Does it feel as if the enemy is just overwhelming you? In life, we do not have to go looking for a fight before a fight comes knocking at your doorstep. Yet, no matter how the fight comes to be, the important thing is to know the keys to victory.

Having spent a good part of the past month reading about the wilderness journey of the children of Israel, a strategy for victory has crystallized in my mind and heart.

When the children of Israel employed this strategy, they were able to destroy a Midianite more than double their size without a single casualty.

With this strategy, they were able to go against the giants in Canaan and utterly destroy them. To get an idea of how big these giants were, the bed of King Og measured roughly 13.5 ft long and 6 ft wide.

Most astonishingly, it was this same strategy that Gideon was employed such that he was able to defeat a Midianite army of well over 100,000 with just 300 men.

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgLight-bulb moment: Though the tactics for victory may change, the strategy for victory remains unchanged.

The 2-fold strategy they employed is as follows:

Only Fight the Battles God Tells You to Fight

How could one chase a thousand, And two put ten thousand to flight, Unless their Rock had sold them, And the Lord had surrendered them? – Deuteronomy 32:30

Another way of putting this bible passage is this: The only way for a man to chase down a thousand is with God’s help. Think of it this way. You and I cannot take down a thousand men unless the men had somehow been completely immobilized so that they were as stiff as statues. In such a scenario case, the battle is not fair for the thousand men!

That’s the way it is when God is fighting on our behalf…the battle is not fair!

Truly, the probability of victory is not determined by the size of the enemy we are going against or the size of our own army. The probability of victory is determined solely by who is with us. If the ‘Who’ is God, then the probability of victory is 100%, inasmuch as we follow the blueprint for victory.

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgLight-bulb moment: God fights only in the battles He sanctions. Engaging in a battle that has not been approved by God leads to heavy casualty with no promise of victory.

When the Lord told the children of Israel to wander about in the wilderness for 40 years because of their refusal to enter Canaan, the people were so disappointed that they decided to try to enter Canaan in their own effort and without the blessing of God. The result is that they were crushed in battle (see below).

And Moses said, “Now why do you transgress the command of the Lord? For this will not succeed. Do not go up, lest you be defeated by your enemies, for the Lord is not among you. For the Amalekites and the Canaanites are there before you, and you shall fall by the sword; because you have turned away from the Lord, the Lord will not be with you.” But they presumed to go up to the mountaintop. Nevertheless, neither the ark of the covenant of the Lord nor Moses departed from the camp. Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who dwelt in that mountain came down and attacked them, and drove them back as far as Hormah – Numbers 14:41-45

Fight the Battle the Way God Tells You to Fight it

God is the master strategist and tactician. His tactics are always right and always work no matter how crazy they sound. If He tells you to walk around the wall seven times, just do it. If he tells you to scream on top your lungs, just do it. If He tells you to tell a bunch of people to drink water and go up against a great army with 300 men, just do it.

Any deviation from the plan of God results in the withdrawal of God’s power. I don’t know about you, but I do not want the power of God to be suddenly removed while I am in battle – especially when I am outnumbered. If we want to be victorious in battle with minimal fuss, we must make up our mind that we are going to do what God commands, no matter what it takes to execute the strategy.

When the children of Israel first fought the Amalekites, they gained the upper hand as long as Moses’ hands stayed raised. No sooner did Moses’ hands drop, the Amalekites gained the upper hand. To ensure God’s strategy for victory remained in play, Aaron and Hur propped up his hands.

Why does God use such unusual strategy and tactics? I believe it  is because He wants to leave no doubt that victory is only possible with Him. Why does He want us to have no doubt that He is the author of victory? He does this because He wants to show us that we can trust in Him (have faith in Him) and surrender to Him, the one true and good God.

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgLight-bulb moment: Faith is the key to victory. The proof of faith is obedience.

Application For Today

Though the enemy (Satan) is still on the battlefield (the earth), God has disarmed and surrendered him to us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Because of the victory Jesus has won on the cross, the enemy is like a barking dog with no teeth and no claws. The only thing that stops us from fighting such a dog is the belief that the dog still has some teeth and claws. Since God tells us clearly that Jesus has disarmed all powers and principalities (see Colossians 2:15), it goes that the only thing that stops us from victory is our unbelief (inasmuch as God’s will is for us to fight the particular battle).

When it comes to the enemy, God tells us to fight. He tells us to fight because He has already surrendered the enemy. Thus the only thing we have to fight for now is faith, so that we align ourselves with the plans of God in complete obedience. This is why we are told to fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12). We have to trust and belief (have faith) in what God has told us about the enemy and boldly go onto the battlefield to claim our victory (whatever that looks like). No more fear, no more surrender, no more retreat!

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgLight-bulb moment: The circumstances and situations in life have no power over us BUT that which we give to them. It does not really matter what happens, we can have inner victory over them.

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8 Things That Christians Should Never Say

I AM A FAILURE

You became a new creation when you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior (2 Corinthians 5:17). If you have indeed accepted Jesus, it is no longer you who lives but Christ who lives in the real you (Galatians 2:20). Since we know that the Spirit of Christ is the Spirit of power, love, and sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7), and we know that the fruit of that Spirit consists of love (Galatians 5:22), then it goes that love lives inside of us. Why is it important to know that love lives inside you? It is important because love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8). So if Christ who is love is living in you, and love never fails, then it goes that you are not a failure. Since your identity is now in Christ, you should never again identify as a failure.

You have to be able to separate the results of what you did from who you are. In fact for the believer, there is no such thing as failure, the only thing that exists is results. Moreover, the reason any of us fails is because we chose not to do things God’s way. When you do things God’s way, you do things love’s way. Though love’s way may at times take you through trials and tribulation, you can rest assured that the end result is victory and success.

If you want to know more about love’s way, I implore you to mediate on 1 Corinthians 13: 4- 7.

I CAN’T

Henry Ford is famously quoted as saying those who believe they can and those who believe they can’t are both right. If you believe that you can’t, then it is likely that you have turned many opportunities into traps and many stepping stones into stumbling blocks. It is likely that you take decisions based on security and reality – playing it safe all the time and never disturbing the waters of familiarity.

As a believer, you are not meant to live by the reality that you see around you.  Though you are to acknowledge it,  you are meant to live by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7). If you focus on reality, your focus will be on the way things are. If you focus on faith, then your focus will be on the way things should be. In that sense, all progress requires faith! To make my point, just imagine what the world would look like today if the cave man never saw beyond his present reality.

Remember this: Faith can but fear can’t

You and I are meant to live by faith (Galatians 2:20). We are meant to achieve great things to the glory of God. To live by faith requires that we trust and believe in God’s ability no matter what.

Therefore it is not a question is of if you can or can’t, it’s a question of how strong your trust and believe in God is!

I AM A NOBODY

The moment you accepted Jesus is the moment you were adopted into the family of God (Ephesians 1:5). In that moment, you took the name of God and gained access to all the power and privilege that the name commands. Since God is the King and you are now a son or daughter of God, then it goes that you are now a prince or princess. Moreover, you are not just a prince and princess of any earthly king, you are that of the King that made the heavens and the earth.

So for you to say that you are a nobody is to misunderstand who you have become in Christ. You are not just somebody but you are a very important body. You were born again not only to receive eternal security but to rule and reign in this life. Isn’t it time you started to live your true identity?

I AM POOR

The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it belongs to Him (Psalm 24:1). If that is the case and you and I have become heirs of God and co-heirs with the Lord through adoption (Romans 8:17), then you and I are very wealthy indeed. Now just because you and I are not enjoying the fruit of our inheritance just yet does not mean that we are not wealthy. In Christ, all the resources that we could ever need are available to us.

Yet here is the thing: God will only entrust his riches to those good stewards that will carry out His purpose. God will not give you and I something we do not have the character to handle. If we do not have the character to handle wealth, then wealth becomes an instrument of destruction and not of blessing. God loves us too much to allow that to happen. So instead of saying I am poor, the best question to ask is where can I make a tangible change.

IT IS IMPOSSIBLE

Since Christ tells us that nothing is impossible for those of us who believe (Mark 9:23), Impossible is a word that you should remove from your vocabulary. While it is okay to say in humility that it is impossible for you, you should follow it up by saying nothing is impossible with God. Since Christ lives within you and I, impossible things can and will flow through us through faith-full action.

So stop saying that it is impossible for your situation to turn around. Stop saying that no one wants you because of your situation. Stop saying that it is not possible for your relationship to be mended. We serve a God who specializes in the impossible.

Do not let your unbelief be the reason you are not seeing the manifestation of God’s power in your life.

I AM PHYSICALLY UGLY

God says that we are wonderfully and fearfully made. While God spoke the worlds into existence, we are told that He formed us (Genesis 2:7). This means that He took His time to craft you and I. He decided what you should look like and He set your features especially as He liked it.

For you to say that you are ugly is to say that God has made something that is imperfect. The only reason you think that you are ugly is because you have gone away from God’s standard of beauty and imbibed that which has been made popular in your particular culture.

Friend, the only thing that makes you and I ugly is sin – both as persons and in person. That’s it.

IT IS TOO LATE FOR ME

To say it is too late is to give up on God. God never gives up on us so we should never give up on Him. There is nothing we have done or can ever do that God cannot redeem.

No matter what you have done so far, it is not too late. Just because you have written a few bad pages, chapters or have written a horror story so far does not mean that you cannot change the story around. Simply hand the pen of your life to Jesus and watch how He turns your story around. With God it is not over.

If God can perform a miracle through Elisha after his death, realize that even death does not end the impact of your life. So do what you can now even if you have a few days and watch your story live on forever through the people you touched.

We serve a God that may tarry but is never late (Habakkuk 2:3).

I HAVE NO FRIENDS

No matter how many earthly friends leave you – perhaps because of what you did or what you did not do – I want you to know that you will always have a friend in Jesus. His friendship does not hinge on your behavior but hinges on who He is. So do not allow the enemy to tell you no one loves you and cares about you. It simply is not true! Jesus is a friend who loves at all times (Proverbs 17:17).

Now Jesus is your friend but are you His friend? Have you accepted Him into your world? If not, then today is your day to ask Him into your heart. Now here is the cool thing, the more you become a friend of Jesus (love), the more you will find that real friends who are loving gravitate towards you.

In Christ, you are never alone!

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4 Things We Keep Doing That Keeps Getting Us In Trouble

IGNORING WEAKNESSES

We all have weaknesses. To say we do not is to lie to ourselves. But what do we do with our weaknesses? Do we simply ignore them and focus on our strengths? No, that would be a mistake for we are only as good as our weakest link. Is the answer to focus on strengthening our weakness at all cost? No, that is also a mistake because our weaknesses will never match our strengths no matter how hard we work at them.

So its darn if you do and darn if you don’t right? No again! God gives us a way to handle our weaknesses without expending energy and without compromising our strengths. Instead of moping about our weakness and wishing it goes away, what we have to do is submit our weaknesses to God and allow His power and favor to wash over us. What? Is that all there is to it, you must be wondering. Yes, that’s it. It is so easy that it is difficult.

Practically, the way we do this is by: (1) realizing those things that trigger our weaknesses  and (2) praying to God when those triggers are pressed. How do we know this works? We know by these two things: First, when the prospect of dying on the cross triggered weakness in Jesus, He responded by praying to the Father who in turn sent an angel to strengthen Him (Luke 22:43). Second, God told apostle Paul when he was tired of his weakness to simply really on His strength (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Personally I have found out that it is impossible to beat myself because (1) it hurts when I punch myself and (2) no matter who wins, I lose. I find that it is much easier to submit to God and have Him handle me. He is gentle and oh so effective!!!

KEEPING  THE WRONG COMPANY 

Just as keeping bad company will keep you from achieving anything in life, keeping the wrong company will keep you from achieving all that you can achieve in life. If you keep the wrong company, you will not feel fulfilled AND it will cause a lot of trouble in your relationships. Just think of the eagle and the dove. While both the eagle and dove are wonderful in their own right, they are not meant to flock together. If the eagle flocked with the dove, the dove would feel like it is holding the eagle back and the eagle would feel unfulfilled because it is not reaching its fullest heights. If they loved each other, they would let each other go to be the best that each can be.

If you are a dove, should you try to be an eagle? No way!!! There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a dove. If you feel as a dove that you are inferior to an eagle, then you have drunk the Kool-aid of comparison and self-imposed inferiority complex. The dove cannot help being a dove just as much as an eagle cannot help being an eagle. God made them the way they were supposed to be. Our job is simply to reach our fullest potential (not someone else’s). Anything else will bring dis-contentment!

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus – Galatians 3:28

REJECTING HONEST AND TRUTHFUL INPUT

We all need four sets of eyes. We need a set of eyes in front of us to see where we are going and we need another set of eyes in the back of our head to see what is coming behind us. Now perhaps the reason we are made with only one set of eyes is so that we are reminded of our need to be in relationship with other people.

All of us need someone to watch our backs to make sure we are not blind-sided by unseen forces. Failure to do this means that we are always learning by experience instead of by correction. If you are like me, you do not want to learn everything by experience – experiences are just too painful.

If you are the ‘I don’t need anybody’ kind of person, I implore you to reconsider your stance. The truth is that we all need somebody. If you have someone who is encouraging you to change (like your family), do not despise them. Take your pride out of it. It is much better to learn a lesson from home than to learn it from the world. The world will not be as forgiving and only wants to capitalize on your flaws.

Remember, the people who love you most will give you the most honest and truthful input. Also remember that just because an input is honest does not mean it is truthful. You do not want someone to just tell you what they honestly feel – for the feelings may be erroneous. You want people to tell you what they have honestly seen based on their close observation of your behavior.

Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses – Proverbs 27:6

BEING INSENSITIVE

If you wrap a diamond ring in dung, do not be surprised if no one opens up the package. If you think that it is silly to forego a diamond ring just because of its package, you are right! But the point is not that you are right, the point is that the gift has not been received.

The point of the diamond ring example is this: People act more on emotions than they do on facts. If you do not cater to people’s emotions, people will immediately take it to mean that you do not care about them – even if that could not be farther from the truth. Since nothing has the ability to damage emotions faster than words, you must be careful of not just what you say but how you say it. Most people will remember how you said something versus what you said. If fact, how you say something will often change the meaning people associate with what you said. Thus you must continue to be sensitive to people in the way you communicate at all times to ensure that the love you so want to give is received. Do this and you will save yourself a lot of grief.

To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some – 1 Corinthians 9:22

 

 

 

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