Thursday, April 27, 2017

Faith

What is faith? Faith is a belief in something we cannot physically see. It is often used to achieve something we do not have. Sometimes we use faith to overcome a hardship in our lives.

Christians have faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and redeemer of mankind. Since we were not able to see Him on earth for ourselves, we can only trust that He is real. On what do we base this trust? The answer to this question will help determine how authentic our faith really is.

If we believe only because of our upbringing, oftentimes our faith
will not survive the doubts and troubles we face in this life. If we believe something only because someone else told us to without really understanding for ourselves, it probably isn't authentic; it is based on somebody else's vision of the truth. But if we clearly
understand the faith inside our hearts, we are more likely to overcome every obstacle that threatens our beliefs. When we analyze and fully comprehend what our faith consists of, we will eventually find peace and not be so easily deceived.

How can we strengthen our faith? After all, isn't it an all or nothing thing? You either believe or not believe in God. So what does it mean if someone has more faith than someone else?

Faith is a belief in something we cannot see; therefore, faith is spiritual. God is also a Spirit we cannot see. The bible says and we know by experience that sin separates us from God. If that is true then the opposite is also true: Righteousness brings us closer to God.

In the bible it says we are justified by faith. It also tells us that Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. Therefore righteousness and faith go hand in hand. The more we turn away from sin and embrace the righteousness we receive through our faith in Christ, the stronger this faith becomes.

Our faith is strong enough to overcome sin, but only if it is real in our heart. If we are living in the flesh and indulging in sinful things, it will separate us from God and cloud our spiritual eyes. If we cannot see Him, He will not seem real to us. This will result in a faith that is weak and vulnerable to temptation.

This is why it is imperative that we follow the Holy Spirit's instruction and give up sinful things in our lives. The more we embrace Jesus and deny ourselves, the stronger our faith becomes. The longer we continue down this path, the more we'll be able to see God in our hearts. He will become more real than anything we can see, touch or feel; and we'll be able to resist and overcome every obstacle or hardship that contradicts God's promises to us.

Faith is real but only if it rests on a solid foundation of truth inside our hearts. If we are unsure why we believe; if our faith is based on lies or weakened by our indulgence in sin, it will undoubtedly crumble under the weight of this world. Therefore, let us be confident what we believe can stand against every doubt or argument.

By following Christ and obeying the Holy Spirit, we will turn away from our sinful lifestyle and grow closer to God. The closer we are to God, the stronger our faith will become. And if we persevere, our faith will become strong enough to overcome any obstacle in life.

(Scripture references: Romans 5:1-2, Romans 4:3)



Self-Destructive Nature

I believe all of us have a self-destructive side; I know I do. It's why we enjoy doing certain things that feel good, even though we know they are unhealthy.

Why are we like this? I believe all of us are born with an emptiness in our hearts that needs to be filled. As we grow up and become adults, many times we fill this emptiness with things that cannot permanently satisfy us. This can lead to a lifestyle of binging on pleasures that are selfish, temporary, and unfulfilling.

As we indulge in these things, at first they appear to satisfy the emptiness in our heart. But inevitably, the sense of fulfillment wears off and we are back where we started. We become trapped in this endless cycle of indulgence and then regret.

The true nature of these self-destructive things is initially hidden to us. Almost as if we are under a spell, we fall victim to its pleasurable allure. But in time, the cloak of deception wears off and we eventually see these false pleasures for what they really are: empty, unhealthy and unfulfilling. Unfortunately, by this time these things will often gain a stronghold inside us and can be hard to turn away from. Those who struggle with addiction are very familiar with this.

Even if we come to terms with our self-destructive side, oftentimes we resist deliverance. We claim to want relief but are unwilling to do whatever it takes to find it. Why? Because deep down we still love our self-destructive pleasures. In reality, it is only the consequences we want deliverance from. Deep down we still want to do bad things that feel good; we just don't want the pain that comes with them.

Isn't this foolishness? Are we not living in a fantasy world when we think like this? The laws of nature clearly tell us we reap what we sow. If we put our finger in an electrical outlet, will we not get shocked? If we put our hands in fire, will we not get burned? Why would we think it is possible to avoid the repercussions for our actions?

The things we do are a reflection of what is inside us. If this is true, how can we change what is on the inside so that our lifestyle can become healthy? I believe this cannot be done by human means. In our own strength, we can mask the pain and find temporary relief. But real and everlasting change is miraculous and comes only from God. I believe it is something we all must find in order to gain real victory over the things that plague our spirit.

If I have an unhealthy love for something but cannot resist indulging in it, what if my desire for it could be removed? Temptation has little to no effect when it is not desirable. It is much easier to avoid doing something if it doesn't feel good anymore. This is exactly what happens when God changes our hearts. The self-destructive temptations and pleasures of the past become like a dog barking up the wrong tree.

If you're like me then you have a self-destructive side that enjoys doing unhealthy things. Are you looking to find the strength to overcome this side of you? Is it really possible to find peace and have the emptiness in our hearts (the source of our self-destructive behavior) permanently filled? It happened for me. But it wasn't until I was willing to acknowledge and accept responsibility for my self-destructive behavior that I was able to receive this free gift from above.

There is a love which can heal all things. When we invite it into our hearts, it will fill the emptiness within. We can become reborn inside and in time, shed the self-destructive nature we are born with. This transformation is not logical and cannot be explained. Nevertheless, it is real. Those who have experienced it can testify to this truth.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Absolute Truth

What is reality? I believe there are two forms of reality: The first is what we perceive to be reality. This changes from person to person. The spiritual lens with which we view and understand reality is shaped by many variables: How we are raised, where we live, what we expose ourselves to, our belief system, our choices in life, traumatic experiences, etc.

For example, the reality for the average American is much different from the person living in a secluded and primitive culture somewhere else in the world. Somebody who doesn't know where their next meal is going to come from on a regular basis probably has a different reality and outlook on life than the rich kid who has everything.


The second form of reality is absolute truth; it cannot be changed and is not affected by the variables that distort our perception of reality. The absolute truth about everything exists but cannot be attained or understood completely by mankind because of our limited abilities.
All of us fall somewhere in the middle between these two realities, though some of us are closer to the truth than others.

There are many things that cloud our judgment. We all have imperfections in our heart that blind us from truth. Bad choices we make can also pull us farther away from seeing absolute truth. Other times, outside forces cloud our perception. And often unbeknownst to us, many of the things we watch in the news and on television help to paint a distorted outlook on reality.

How do we overcome these factors that distort our perception of reality? We have to fix or change the spiritual lens with which we view life. Without doing this, it is impossible to see past many of the deceptions and smokescreens in life.

So what is the answer? Since mankind is flawed, it is imperative that we all look elsewhere for guidance in this matter. If we are honest with ourselves, we admit there are things we do not understand; we acknowledge our judgment has been wrong leading to past mistakes.

In order to see more of the absolute truth in reality, we must invite the Spirit of Truth inside our hearts. We must allow Him to open our eyes; to shine a light on those things that were hidden to us before. It is a long, gradual process and one that never ends until we die; but if we are persistent, many of the mysteries of life will begin to be unlocked. Our spiritual lens will become clear and our perception of reality will begin to align more with absolute truth, which is the only reality that matters.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Anxiety

Maybe you are like me...I am often plagued by anxiety. In spite of the fact I do not consciously worry about things, I am bombarded by feelings of uneasiness and doubt; not in God or His love for me, but in my own perception of who He wants me to be in this life.
If I'm being honest, the road I am on now is a frightening one. I have no earthly example to follow. My own weaknesses and limitations make it harder for me to stay focused and see my final destination. A lot of times I feel as if I'm grasping blindly in the dark, trying to grab something I cannot see.
My mind races a million miles an hour; my body struggles to calm itself and focus on simple tasks. Sometimes the only thing I am really sure of is an invisible God I've never seen before. If that isn't crazy, I don't know what is.

All of this might consume and destroy me, if I did not already know what I've learned of God. His Word tells me that all things work for our good, for those who love Him. By faith I am sure He knows everything before it happens; therefore He knew I would be in this place right now, before I was even born.

What does this tell me? There are no accidents with God; He is not surprised or caught off guard by anything in my life. He knew the mistakes I would make and crafted my life's journey accordingly. He created my body, weaknesses and all. Therefore He must have had a good reason for doing so, even though I cannot see it with my own eyes.
Whenever I am tempted to doubt or complain, I just remember these things. Though I have left behind a trail of numerous mistakes, the one mistake I refuse to make is questioning the One who loves me. Though I am uncertain of many things regarding my future, I will always be certain of His ability to lead me through it. And most of all, the adversity I face now is there for a purpose; for it is through hardship that Jesus strengthens our spirit and brings us closer to Him. For this reason I will rejoice. For this reason I will pray for strength to reach the finish line, knowing that the end result will be a blessing.
If you're going through something difficult right now and you are leaning on Jesus for strength, don't give up. If your faith has reached it's breaking point, don't turn away from God, if for no other reason than the alternative is empty, cold and dark. If Jesus Christ has come into your heart then you also remember what it was like before He did. The trials that we face now could never be worse than what we faced in the past without His love in our hearts.

He is faithful and will never leave us. When we haven't the strength or patience to keep believing in Him, may the spirit of Christ rise up inside us to overcome the darkness that tries to separate us from our God. Amen.

Monday, April 24, 2017

A New Facebook Page

Hi Everyone,

I've started a new Facebook page. Here is the link:
https://www.facebook.com/Feed-The-Sheep-638128943048339/

I posted a video of my testimony on there today. I hope it will be a blessing to you!

FTS

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Reality

What is reality? I believe there are two forms of reality: The first is what we perceive to be reality. This changes from person to person. The spiritual lens with which we view and understand reality is shaped by many variables: How we are raised, where we live, what we expose ourselves to, our belief system, our choices in life, traumatic experiences, etc.

For example, the reality for the average American is much different from the person living in a secluded and primitive culture somewhere else in the world. Somebody who doesn't know where their next meal is going to come from on a regular basis probably has a different reality and outlook on life than the rich kid who has everything.

The second form of reality is absolute truth; it cannot be changed and is not affected by the variables that distort our perception of reality. The absolute truth about everything exists but cannot be attained or understood completely by mankind because of our limited abilities.

All of us fall somewhere in the middle between these two realities. Some are closer to the truth than others. There are many things that cloud our judgment. We all have imperfections in our heart that blind us from truth. Bad choices we make can also pull us farther away from seeing absolute truth. Other times, outside forces cloud our perception. And often unbeknownst to us, many of the things we watch in the news and on television help to paint a distorted outlook on reality.

How do we overcome these factors that distort our perception of reality? We have to fix or change the spiritual lens with which we view life. Without doing this, it is impossible to see past many of the deceptions and smokescreens in life.

So what is the answer? Since mankind is flawed, it is imperative that we all look elsewhere for guidance in this matter. If we are honest with ourselves, we admit there are things we do not understand; we acknowledge our judgment has been wrong leading to past mistakes.

In order to see more of the absolute truth in reality, we must invite the Spirit of Truth inside our hearts. We must allow Him to open our eyes; to shine a light on those things that were hidden to us before. It is a long, gradual process and one that doesn't end until we die; but if we are persistent, many of the mysteries of life will begin to be unlocked. Our spiritual lens will become clear and our perception of reality will begin to align more with absolute truth, which is the only reality that matters.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Invisible Proof

"Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came.  So the other disciples told him, 'We have seen the Lord!' But he said to them, 'Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.'

"A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, 'Peace be with you!' Then he said to Thomas, 'Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.' Thomas said to him, 'My Lord and my God!'

"Then Jesus told him, 'Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'" (John 20:24-29) NIV


Why do Christians believe, even though we haven't "seen?" Though I cannot speak for every believer, I am confident that many have chosen Christ for the same reasons I have. My faith in Jesus began from a spiritual sadness. The invisible pain in my heart needed healing; the emptiness in my soul needed filling. The hollow, physical pleasures of this world could not bring meaningful happiness to my life.

As I started to analyze my inner feelings and thoughts as an attempt to address this pain, I was unknowingly training my spiritual eyes to see invisible things inside my heart. This process laid the groundwork for my eventual encounter with an invisible God.

In order for us to see what is invisible, we must open our invisible, spiritual eyes. We must turn our attention to matters of the heart. Our physical bodies are temporary but our spirit is eternal; therefore we must place a higher priority upon spiritual well being. The irony is our physical well being automatically improves as our spiritual health improves, since they are linked together. 

Like a scientist gathers data and then forms a hypothesis to support his findings, I have analyzed my spiritual heart and invisible thoughts to form a hypothesis. I discovered my heart was sinful and my thoughts were often selfish.

If a scientist is biased and unwilling to accept the actual data gained from his work, his final hypothesis will be flawed. If he is motivated by an agenda other than finding the real truth, his work is meaningless. The same applies to us: If we are unwilling to honestly evaluate our invisible heart and thoughts, our conclusion will be flawed.

What do I mean? One example is, if I analyze my invisible sexual desires and find the pleasure I gain from them is selfish, I can go in two directions:

1) I can ignore this truth or attempt to de-legitimize it by making excuses. Why would I do this? Because I love the pleasure more than my concern for a sexual partner(s). Or, I am unwilling to do whatever it takes to fight and overcome my selfishness. Instead, it is much easier to accept excuses that justify my behavior.

2) Even though the truth is telling me I like doing things that are bad...even though it seems impossible to change my behavior, I will accept the truth and not hide from it. I will acknowledge what I'm doing is bad and do whatever it takes to change.

In my past experience, the reason I did not initially see the truth was because I didn't want to. I was blinded by my hidden agenda, which was my love for pleasure over what is right. I believe many people are also blinded because of their love for something other than what is right.

Where is the proof that God exists? The road to finding it is found inside our invisible hearts and minds. When we are willing to open and use our invisible eyes, then we'll be able to see an invisible God. However, unless we are willing to embrace the truth our invisible eyes show us, we will never find this proof.  





Friday, April 7, 2017

Stand Up And Face The Enemy

We all know what it feels like to be afraid. Everyone has hidden from a situation because they lacked strength. All of us know how this burden can weigh us down.

We may not realize it but everyday there is a war that goes on inside our minds. There is an invisible enemy that tries to rob us of our joy and ultimately lead us to an early grave. He comes in many forms: fear, stress, worry, addiction, anger, selfishness, temptation, low self-esteem, bad memories and others.

Many times we feel overwhelmed by these thoughts in our mind. The pressures of this life have a way of wearing us down. It often seems as if everything is working against us. As a result of this pressure, we often do or say things that we regret later.

The good news is, there is someone who can help. Mankind has a Champion; one we can look to for help and strength. His name is Jesus Christ.

In His name, we can look every demon that torments us right in the eye. With the Lord by our side, we can endure the fear and pain that comes from facing our demons. Just as Christ overcame all evil, He can give us the strength and ability to overcome every evil in our lives.

Though I do not completely understand how or why, I believe we are all born into sin. This weakness we've been born into serves as a doorway for evil to influence and in some cases dominate our lives. Our King humbled Himself and died for us so we could have freedom from the chains of evil. Not only did He redeem our souls for eternity, He also died to give us victory in this life on earth.

We no longer have to hide in fear from anything. With the Lord by our side, we can stand up to the bully in our minds. Whatever has been tormenting us inside, we can look it in the eye and refuse to cower in fear any longer. After all, when the love of God has come into your heart, what is there to be afraid of? This beautiful and wholesome love overcomes all fear and evil.

The next time we are challenged by our invisible enemy, may the fire of the Holy Spirit and the strength of Christ rise up in all of us. May it enable us to stand tall and resist the lies that have plagued our souls. When we do this, each victory will build upon itself until there is a spiritual fortress around our hearts, impervious to the attacks from the evil one.

Let us all become the strong and fearless warriors our Lord has called us to be. With true love as our Rock, no amount of turbulent forces can knock us down. May we all stand upon this Rock on a daily basis and overcome this evil world.


"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." (Ephesians 6:10-17)




Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Quest For Innocence And True Love

When we are children, life is very simple. Most of us are not exposed to the harsh realities of our world at a young age. When we get older, there comes a time when we must put aside childish things, pull up our big boy/girl pants and face reality.

Once we do this, invariably our childhood innocence becomes lost in a sea of compromise and hypocrisy. The pressures of life have a way of separating us from innocence. I believe all of us have buckled under this weight, in some way or another.

There are many reasons why we do this. One example is, in our own weakness we sometimes rationalize and justify our behavior. We tell ourselves, "How can we do this thing that is right if it is impossible?" Or, we look around us and find justification from the countless others who do the same things.

As a young man, one reason I turned away from innocence was my love for sinful pleasure. My willful decision to embrace something evil lead me down a path of confusion and shame. It wasn't until I decided to turn away from my selfish behavior and embrace true love that I began to see things with clarity.

At the time I didn't realize it, but this was the first step in God unravelling a soul that was very twisted and tied in knots. I had a desire to be made pure and innocent, but achieving this goal would not happen overnight. In fact, it took over twenty years to get to a place where I could feel close to Jesus on a personal level; where I didn't feel ashamed or like I was underachieving.

I don't want to give the impression that I am perfect or a finished product. The truth is, none of us will ever become perfectly pure or innocent. But with the Lord's help, we can reach a place where the devil can no longer torment us in our conscience. We can reach a spiritual level where our desires and God's will match up more perfectly. When this happens, fear and doubt are replaced by courage and confidence. Our guilt will give way to a feeling of innocence and acceptance from God. 

What I have seen in this world and even inside my own heart has disgusted me. That is why I turned to Christ. It is why I have (after years of stubborn rebellion) now given my entire heart, mind and body to the Holy Spirit for correction. Every thought, every thing I watch, do or listen to...I have opened my entire self like a book to Him.

I am not saying this to brag or toot my own horn. On the contrary, I've made many mistakes (and still do) and am no better than anybody else. My motive for sharing this is to inspire others to do the same; to open their entire selves to God.

Keep in mind, this is not an easy path to follow. It doesn't feel good when you open yourself up to God and He reveals your weaknesses and shameful behavior. Fear will also become an obstacle. But if we stay persistent and allow Him to fix us, the end result is a reward that is priceless. I am living proof of this. As a direct result from my total submission to Jesus, now I am able to walk upright and with confidence. I am no longer easily susceptible to the deceptions that plague our world.

It is so easy to become buried under the weight of this world. Stress and a busy schedule can distract us from what matters most: the innocence and true love found only in Christ. In Him we can find healing and an escape from the pressures of life. Dare I say, those who experience this love have actually discovered a time machine that travels back to when they were an innocent child?


"Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.' (Matthew 19:14)



FTS








Monday, April 3, 2017

We All Make A Difference

Most of us live quiet lives away from the spotlight. It can be easy to think our actions do not matter very much. The truth is, our lifestyle can have a great impact in our world. It just depends on how you look at things.

We see popular televangelists and the wide audience they reach; we hear of missionaries touching hundreds or even thousands of lives overseas; in comparison, our impact on the world can seem small or even meaningless.

I believe all of us have a calling from the Lord. Some of us impact thousands, maybe even millions of souls. But most will only a impact a handful of people who are closest to us. Which has a more important role: The person in the spotlight who helps thousands or the person living a quiet life who helps one? Well, if you asked the one who was helped by the person living a quiet life, what do you think they would say?

Every individual person is equally important and loved in the eyes of God. Therefore, there is no calling more important than the other. What matters is that we are faithful to whatever God has called us to be.

Maybe you're a stay at home mom. There are times where you might feel unimportant or unappreciated. If those feelings come, think about how important you are to your children. You mean everything to them. In fact, the way you raise them will have a huge impact on what kind of person they will become. I believe there is no greater responsibility than raising a child.

Maybe you aren't married and don't have any children. I would bet there are people in your life that God has called you to be a good example to. Or maybe the Lord will put you in a situation to give a kind word or gesture to a stranger, that will have a lasting impact on their life.

By allowing the love of Jesus to flow through us and touch others, we have a major impact in our world. Sometimes we don't even realize the positive effect we have on others. Just living everyday with a smile on your face can make a difference in somebody else's life.

All of us matter. We are all the body of Christ. It is no accident that we are where we're at. Everyone who follows Jesus has been called to make a difference in their little part of the world. It's not how many we impact, but how faithful we carry out the Lord's plan for our lives.

The next time we feel unimportant, we should remember that God is working His plan in our lives right now. Everything we do and say is extremely important. Our actions might make the difference in somebody's life that we're not even aware of. Let us all use this as inspiration to shine the light of Christ in everything we do.