Humble Yourselves

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2 NIV

Where I work this is not an option. I am a caregiver and I work with a woman who is cognitively disabled and has autism. I also have a sister with autism who is physically and cognitively disabled. Because neither one can talk, if I am not compassionate and aware, I could miss something potentially serious like a seizure or an infection. For me, being humble has saved my life many times because God only listens to the prayers of those who humble themselves before Him.

I think people today are stressed and angry. I notice this when I’m on the road. I like to go the speed limit when I drive. Sometimes I speed but it’s usually only when I’m not paying attention to it. Almost every time I drive, someone will ride my bumper and try to push me into going faster. I really don’t understand this behavior. It’s very intimidating and disturbing to see that someone is willing to rear-end me in an accident just because I won’t speed. It doesn’t make me go any faster and if I do slam on my brakes and we get in an accident they will be at fault for riding my bumper.

When you’re stressed or angry you push God away. You push everyone away for that matter. Did you ever wonder how you get stressed and angry? It all starts with self talk. When you focus on things that make you mad like unfairness or any situation where you feel slighted your mind will wander into negative moods and stress. If you meditate on ways people have hurt you you will get in a bad mood. So don’t do that. Stay positive and meditate on ways you can resolve the situation; if it can’t be resolved think about something that makes you happy. You are in charge of your thoughts. Don’t let your mind be hijacked by the devil so that you lose your peace. Animals are really good at this. When they get mad they rebuke their attacker then shake it off. They don’t sit there and stew over something then bite off the first head that comes near them. They don’t pass aggression onto unrelated events or people.

I think it is important to focus on the gentle component of the above bible verse. It is not OK to think about ways to get revenge on someone or something through violence. Jesus never used violence and I believe he wants us to follow in his example. When the military came to seize Jesus and one of the disciples cut off someone’s ear, Jesus healed it. If you like violent video games and aggressive, violent television consider changing your habits. Humans tend to mimic what they see on TV or video games. Children are especially vulnerable to picking up violent behavior from watching TV. Violence is never OK. By watching it on TV you are allowing it into your paradigm of acceptable behavior. Non-violence is the only way to change anything. For instance, look at Ghandi who changed so much through peaceful protest and hunger strikes.

Jesus also wants us to be humble and to maintain a soft heart that is responsive to God’s leading. The bible verses about humility are plentiful. Here are a couple:

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up,” (James 4:10 NIV). 2 Samuel 28:22 says, “You save the humble, but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them low.” Why does God value humility so much? He is an awesome and mighty God. Humility is the only posture we can assume that is proper and fitting in His presence. Jesus although equal to God humbled himself to be lower than the angels in order to save us. In order to save us, God became like us, fully God yet fully human and faced all the temptations we are prone to yet did not sin. In this way He overcame the world (Philippians 2:8).

A Word On Fear

“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” – John 4:24

Some churches don’t focus on the ministry of the Holy Spirit. I think this is a great tragedy. The church is the embodiment of the Holy Spirit – not the building but the people. People make God’s temple not bricks. God’s temple should always be filled with the Holy Spirit or it’s not even God’s temple. Right? Because if God’s not in it, it’s not His temple. The difference between God’s people and regular people is that God’s people have the Holy Spirit in them.

2 Timothy 1:7 says, “for God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and a sound mind,” (NIV). Jesus promised His Spirit to His disciples when He left them. When you don’t have God’s Spirit you cannot please God.

If God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear we need to recognize the implications. For one, worry is a form of fear. If you are given to worry you might want to pray about getting rid of it. In the bible there is a lot said about worry because it is a primary means for the devil to attack. Here’s what Jesus had to say about worry in Matthew 6:25-34 (NIV):

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

It is a very good argument against worry. Again in Psalm 37:8, the bible says not to worry because it leads only to evil. The devil is the spirit of fear. Anytime you lose your peace you can pretty much guarantee the devil’s been at it again. God wants us to come to Him without fear or worry and cast our cares on Him because He cares for us. 1 John 4:8, says

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

If something scares you, call on God to give you support. The bible says that God gives His Spirit freely to His children and Jesus says that whoever comes to the Father through the Son will never be turned away (John 6:37). Jesus says here that “All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.”

The Holy Spirit carries with it gifts. How do you know if you have the Spirit? There are a couple of ways of telling. One way is through your words. If you curse or speak negatively about Jesus you do not have the Holy Spirit. If you can say aloud that Jesus is blessed in front of people then you probably have it. If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart you will be saved and Jesus will confess your name in the presence of His angels. Another way to tell if you have the Holy Spirit is that you would have gifts of the Spirit. The bible talks about those here (1 Corinthians 12:1-11 NIV):

“Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, ‘Jesus be cursed,’ and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.”

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.”

“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues,[a] and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.”

Another way to tell if you have the Holy Spirit is by your actions. Are you walking in love and obeying God’s commands? Do you have peace? Is the Word written on your heart? All of these are signs that you have the Holy Spirit. If you don’t have it and you want it, ask God to give it to you. Maybe get baptized and start attending a Spirit-filled church.

True Riches

“Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, ‘Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.’” Mark 9:35 NIV

Hollywood glamorizes a luxurious and rich lifestyle. I see youtube videos advertised all the time that talk about manifesting money and whatever you want through meditation. The earth is God’s and everything in it (1 Corinthians 10:26). Of course in this world we need to have food, clothes, shelter and otherwise but God has promised to provide that (Matthew 5:25-26). Our primary concern needs to be, “how can I please God today?”

In Jeremiah 9:23-24 the Lord says:

“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me,that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight…” (NIV)

Wealth does not elevate anyone to God’s level. Humility brings us closer to God. John 3:27 says that “a man can receive nothing unless its been given to him from heaven.” If we seek to please God we will have our needs met. Matthew 6:25-26 says,

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (NIV)

We need to start realizing that God’s love is precious. He is life. He is beauty. He is abundance. He is intelligence. The love of the world offers only lust and pride. God offers peace, protection, guidance, healing, love, serenity, a sound mind. He offers a living relationship with the God of the universe. What are humans even doing on this planet to try and replace God with wealth? To be great in God’s presence we have to be servants. Worldly greatness doesn’t impress God because He knows what’s underneath all that wealth – a trembling piece of flesh. We all are vulnerable and very small compared to God. Wealth can’t help you if you don’t have a sound body and mind to enjoy it with. Proverbs 11:4 says that “wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.” However, “the blessing of the Lord brings wealth, without painful toil for it,” (Proverbs 10:22 NIV).

But what good is wealth if you don’t honor God and help others with it? You should use your money to gain friends and win others to the faith. Solomon was a man with great wealth. He wrote in Ecclesiastes,

“There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth’For whom am I toiling,’ he asked, ‘and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?’ This too is meaningless— a miserable business!” (Ecclesiastes 4:8 NIV)

I used to be very materialistic. I didn’t think anything about dropping one hundred dollars in a day on clothes. I wanted badly to impress people. I didn’t think much of money, to be honest. I was very wasteful. God didn’t like it. I was spending more time shopping than I was working or even studying. After about three years living like I was wealthy, God brought me down a notch. I lost my job, my license and my sanity. In our town, if you don’t have a car or a license you cannot work because there isn’t much for public transportation. Without a job, license or car I was stuck in poverty for about ten years. Every month, after paying bills I had about $50 left over to buy food with. It wasn’t easy, but God sustained me during that time and taught me how to trust Him.

James 2:5-7 talks about those in poverty inheriting the kingdom. It says:

“Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?”

Matthew 5:5 quotes Jesus as saying, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” When you serve others you please God. The world doesn’t offer much congratulations when you work in food service, trash disposal, caregiving, lawn maintenance, and other service professions. They are hard and dirty jobs that few people are willing to do. But God notices that we are swallowing our pride when we take a lower position in the world and he will exalt us in His kingdom. Don’t be discouraged. God sees your service to others and will reward you. The professions I listed were just ones that I thought of and not necessarily a comprehensive list.

A Word About Slander

“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.” Ephesians 6:12-13 NIV

Back in October my family had someone working for us to take care of my sister who is physically disabled. We’ve had a hard time hiring people because there just doesn’t seem to be a lot of people willing to do the job who are dedicated and trustworthy. We had a woman working for us for about ten years. She was close to our family, she knew the routine and we trusted her. She had good work ethic.

I just recently moved in with my parents in order to cut costs and help them out. My living quarters in their home are in the basement, a doorway away from my disabled sister’s apartment. I was particularly close to the woman who worked here. We would often talk and lean on each other for emotional support. We even went to church together.

In a period of about a month her elderly parents health began to deteriorate. She had to drive an hour one way every day to get to their house and take care of them. In this time she pulled her shoulder and had to take some time off. Things got really overwhelming for her. One day when she came to work I had just let the dogs out. One of them had a urinary tract infection as I would find out later so she peed on accident on the bathroom floor. I didn’t know about it until the caregiver stepped in it. We thought it was just moisture on the floor from the humidity.  She cleaned it up.

The next day when she was working she accused me of trying to make her fall. Obviously, that wasn’t my intention so I apologized for the incident. The next day she came in she was in pain for an injury (I didn’t make her fall) and taking meds and she blew up at me while my mom was sitting on the couch. She called me all sorts of names and my mom and I were shocked. She told me to never come in my sister’s apartment while she was there again. I didn’t want to make waves so I said “fine,” and basically stayed away from her for the week. She came in to work about a week later with her mom and apologized to me. I forgave her but it was awkward. About a week after that she came into work and my mom asked her to clean something in the kitchen. She took offense and wrote my mom a rude text message when she got home. To make a long story short my mom let her go.

I used to talk to her a lot about common friends. There were certain people she hated and when she talked about them I would get angry at them. I didn’t see the problem until after she left and I realized how many friends and relatives I was angry at as a result of the negativity. The thing about gossip is that it spreads like fire. Slander is very serious. Whether true or not, “a gossip separates close friends,” (Proverbs 16:28 NIV). It muddies the water. The tongue is hard to tame (James 3:8). The problem with slander is that you can’t take it back. Once you’ve said something it might never be undone. It can ruin someone’s reputation and ultimately, it can ruin their lives. What happened was very easy to see in hindsight and it all started with self-talk. Instead of taking a positive outlook about the situation she took a negative stance. She chose to see the bad instead of the good and then she meditated on what she perceived as bad intentions. This riled her anger until she could no longer contain it and she blew up at me.

The devil is tricky. If he can get you to accept his negative viewpoint about something he pretty much has you under his control. If you don’t change your thinking you are a willing participant in the negativity. You’ve crossed over from light to darkness. The war we wage is not against each other. It’s against strongholds in our thought systems that the devil puts in place through lying to us (Ephesians 6:12-13). If we believe what he says we are going to act on it. Even Jesus says not to judge other people and Paul the Apostle took it a step further and said not to even judge yourself (Matthew 7:1, 1 Corinthians 4:3). We don’t have the mind for it. God does. His mind is infinite and he sees the motives of our hearts. When we choose to let God do the judging we are less likely to offend others, ourselves and God.

Eckhart Tolle explained the mechanism of gossip well in his book “A New Earth.” In it he says that the ego is strengthened when you gossip because “you feel superior in that moment because you know more.” The ego is like the bane of humanity that is our shadow side. Christians would probably describe the ego as the evil one.

Tolle goes on to say,

“Many people are addicted to gossiping partly for this reason. In addition, gossiping often carries an element of malicious criticism and judgment of others, and so it strengthens the ego through the implied but imagined more superiority that is there whenever you apply a negative judgment to anyone.” (Tolle 82)

When someone gossips to you shut your ears. If you can’t get away from the situation try to stay positive about it and remember that the person who offended you is not your enemy. The devil is your enemy. He knows if he can suck you into believing his lies, your behavior will be negative. Don’t accept lies. Don’t accept slander either. When someone uses slander they are obviously using it for malicious reasons – whether theirs or or the devil’s. It’s good to allow people room to make mistakes. If someone offends you you need to approach them yourself and discuss the problem and resolution so that you don’t fall into sin.

Slander tries to make people look bad. When you listen to it it causes you to hate the person being gossiped about even though you were not even the one originally offended. You could be a third party but now in your mind is this juicy piece of gossip that has just condemned another person for something they may or may not have said or done (Proverbs 18:8). Leviticus 19:16 says,

“Do not go about spreading slander among your people. Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the Lord.” (NIV)

Slander defiles the person who utters it. Jesus says in Matthew 15:18-20,

“But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.” (NIV)

We all sin and judging someone else’s sin is not appropriate if we don’t want God to judge us negatively. Luke 6:37 admonishes,

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (NIV)

As Christians we need to take into consideration that Christ paid for our sin and theirs. To point out another person’s flaws is not necessary or productive because we all have them. It’s all ugly and to meditate on someone’s flaws is a willful act of disobedience because we’ve been told to think about good things. It’s good to be honest with yourself and aware of your and other people’s flaws but to mull over negative aspects of people’s personality in your mind will only cause you to get angry and step into realms of hate. Love always sees the best in people. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 describes what love is. It says,

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

To think about things that make you angry only causes you to sin. You have control over what you put into your mind. Fill it with positive things like scripture and thanksgiving. Think about things you are thankful for. Write them down if you need to physically manifest the words and fix your mind on them. Phillipians 4:8 says,”Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things,” (NIV).

Because you can’t take back things that come out of your mouth, be careful. Don’t let the devil poison your mind with gossip or hatred. In this case it separated close friends and someone lost their job. It’s unfortunate but at least we learned something from it.

Works Cited

Tolle, Eckhart. A New Earth: Create a Better Life. A New Earth: Create a Better Life, Penguin, 2009, p. 82.

On Being Humbled

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up,” (James 4:10 NIV).

I used to work in IT. About fifteen years ago God told me to get a physical job. I resisted. Physical jobs don’t pay as much; they require more effort and more hours to get a good salary. I used to take a lot of medications that made me tired. I would fall asleep at my desk when I worked on the computer because it was so uneventful. I guess deep down I wanted to be respected by my peers as having a cerebral job, one that I had to have a college degree to get. After about five years working in IT, I decided to get a job that required more physical effort.

I got a job in caregiving. Incidentally, instead of paying less, it payed better and I had the opportunity to make more in overtime. I spent less time on the computer that way and more time moving around and being around people. The job was less stressful and, as I experienced it, healthier. I felt like I was needed and had a purpose. I was helping special needs adults with cognitive and physical impairments. I wish I would’ve obeyed God sooner but at least when I did work in IT I gained some skills that would later help me develop this website. God has a purpose for telling us what to do. His will is always good and it’s in our best interest to humble ourselves and listen to Him.

Being around cognitively disabled adults has helped me a lot because they are a lot like children. I don’t have children myself but I’ve noticed that other people’s kids are very sensitive to spiritual things. In Matthew 21:16, Jesus quotes this scripture: “from the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise” (NIV).

Luke 18:16-17 says Jesus called the children to him and said,

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (NIV)

To be the greatest in heaven you must serve many. God rewards humility. Jesus says in Matthew 18:4, “Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven,”(NIV). You may be thinking, “that’s asking a little much.” Or maybe you think that serving people is not necessary. There are many passages in the bible that talk about being a servant.

Numbers 12:13 says that Moses was a humble man. It’s very encouraging to see that a spiritual giant like Moses who led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt would actually be humble. He had so much to be cocky about.

“[Let] the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” said God in Jeremiah 9:24 (NIV).

2 Samuel 22:28 NIV says, “[God saves] the humble, but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them low.” It’s when we get proud that we start thinking we don’t need God. He’s probably thinking, if you are so great why don’t you make yourself?

When you suffer you should rejoice because that means that your reward is great in heaven (1 Peter 3:14). In this world there will be trials and tribulations. God wants us to seek Him. Sometimes He uses trials and problems to bring us closer to Him. He really wants to be close to His people. 2 Chronicles 7:14 is a good demonstration of God’s basic will for Israel. It says, “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

God wants us to leave room for learning. We shouldn’t become so wise in our own sight that we don’t even ask for God’s help. Psalm 25:9 says: “[God] guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way.” The only way you can be taught is if you are humble because to learn something you have to admit that you don’t know it in the first place. Admitting we don’t know what we’re doing can be hard. However, for little kids, learning is what they are all about. They love it. That is why Jesus wants us to be like little children.

In the end, when God’s kingdom comes He promises that the meek will inherit the earth. The Old Testament book of Zephaniah chapter 3 verses 11-13 say:

“On that day you, Jerusalem, will not be put to shame for all the wrongs you have done to me, because I will remove from you your arrogant boasters. Never again will you be haughty on my holy hill. But I will leave within you the meek and humble. The remnant of Israel will trust in the name of the Lord. They will do no wrong; they will tell no lies. A deceitful tongue will not be found in their mouths. They will eat and lie down and no one will make them afraid.”

Proverbs 25:6-8 summarizes the intent of the scriptures well. It says: “Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence, and do not claim a place among his great men; it is better for him to say to you, ‘Come up here,’ than for him to humiliate you before his nobles.”

Our culture is so into self-promotion. It goes strongly against what God wants for us. Hollywood makes it seem like pride is a good thing. Rich men and women in our culture are honored but not by God. Matthew 19:23 says, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.” Since Rome’s inception, it seems to be the way of white culture to take and possess land, people and commodities. We need to rethink how we behave, especially in international relations. Violently conquering land and people is not our right. You may be thinking, it’s a little late for that, we’re already settled in our country. Our country is established but we still flex our prideful ways in our foreign relations.

For instance, Chinese workers get paid very little for the commodities they manufacture. However, when something is made in the USA the people that make it expect a living wage for USA standards. Last time I checked auto union workers in American factories made up to $30/hr for low skill manufacturing jobs. Why should Chinese workers make pennies a day and in some cases be used as slave labor when American workers who do jobs that require less skill make themselves into millionaires? I’m not necessarily saying we should pay American workers less but there shouldn’t be a wage gap for foreign labor. It’s just not fair. Black people and women still don’t make a fair wage in our country and it’s just one more way that white culture oppresses other cultures.

What can we do? Don’t buy foreign made products if you can help it. In fact, don’t buy into the whole idea that it is white people’s right as consumers to buy and sell until there’s nothing left but garbage dumps all over the earth. In buying products we don’t really need, Americans foul the environment and planet in the name of consumerism and greed. You can’t take any of that junk with you when you die. It was never yours in the first place because the land belongs to God. We belong to the land. If we get greedy we only foul our own nest. This is why global warming is so out-of-hand.

Americans are so confident in being a Christian nation. They think because they don’t support abortion and go to church on Christmas Eve they are exemplary citizens worthy of Christ’s kingdom. Please! China has more Christians in it than America and Americans exploit Chinese labor in order to buy more and more widgets for cheap that they see on TV.

Please take this post to heart. God wants everyone to return to Him. If you are confident in your Christianity you should have a heart humble enough to question your everyday living and the character of those who are honored in your culture. Rethink consumerism and humble yourself before God.

Chew On This

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things,” (Philippians 4:8 NIV).

Where the mind goes, the man follows. Spiritual struggles take place in the mind. The definition of the soul or the heart is the seat of the person’s thoughts, beliefs and being. Collins online dictionary says that the “soul is the part of you that consists of your mind, character, thoughts, and feelings,” (www.collinsdictionary.com). As a born-again Christian, you have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). It cannot be sold to, taken or harmed by the devil because it is Christ’s treasured possession. Our thoughts as Christians should be saturated with peace and God’s Word. I’m not saying that to tell you that you should be brainwashed and never have your own thoughts but because, naturally, as Christians, you should be meditating on God. This is what Christ and many people from biblical history did and do as a consequence of being filled with God’s Spirit. It’s not drudgery or a burden. Christ said that His yoke was easy and His burden light (Matthew 11:30). Christ is the Word (John 1:14). If you love God you should also be reading and studying His Word.

The Word has been called the Sword of the Spirit and is our only weapon against evil (Ephesians 6:17). To cut down strongholds and doubting thoughts you need to speak God’s Word. This refutes the devil and reaffirms God’s promises and protection in your mind. Talk to yourself if you have to. Since Christ is the Word and we have the mind of Christ we should be filled with thoughts about the Word.

When the devil attacks you, you need to be armed with the full armor of God. Part of the armor of God is called the helmet of salvation. It protects your mind from thinking you are not saved. You should wear the thoughts of your salvation and the knowledge of your salvation as protection against the devil’s constant picking and doubts that might creep into your head. Paul says this about the armor of God,

“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 NIV)

What you put your faith in is true as far as your mind is concerned. Jesus said, “Everything is possible for one who believes,” (Mark 9:23b NIV). Jesus also said, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer,” (Matthew 21:22 NIV). This is why it’s important to keep your mind on good things. The word “meditate” also means to chew. You wouldn’t chew on feces, so why fill your mind with the spiritual equivalent of fecal matter (poop/garbage)? What you let in your mind has a powerful influence over you.

Psychological studies have found television to be a brain-washing device. Corporations own television. Is it any wonder our culture is so materialistic and obsessed with gaining wealth and the things that corporations sell? TV influences the way people see the world. When you watch TV you are forced to see the world as the corporations want you to see it. The lighting, coloring, camera focus, music, words – everything about TV, is meant to influence your behavior. You wouldn’t knowingly let the devil in your home, but watching TV is exactly that.

What happens when you use your hard earned money to purchase things you see in commercials and programming? You become a slave to consumerism. You have to work harder to buy more stuff and the cycle doesn’t end as long as the TV is still on and there is more stuff to buy. You have to work forty plus hours a week just to get by so that you, too, can keep up with the Jones’. What does TV promote? Violence, cruel comedy, sexualization of women and children, stereotypes, racism, planetary degradation, consumerism, animal cruelty, weird and unnatural sexual behaviors, disobedience to parents, excessive consumption of resources, drug use, prescription drug abuse, witchcraft – etc. It’s all lies.

To stay positive you have to meditate on what’s good. Don’t mull over criticism or negativity. You may have to talk to yourself like a little child. Would you want a little child to be perpetually angry, sad or violent? No, because it would lead to bad behavior. The same is true for you. You need to protect your mind as a mom protects her nursing infant. You need to feed it healthy things. Stay positive. I recommend reading things that make you happy. Look at pictures of things that make you happy. Staying happy is the whole battle. Christ wants you to be happy. God designed us to love good things and to be happy. Have you ever seen an unhappy animal? Nope. It is because animals do God’s will. They don’t let anger or bitterness fester. They shake it off. They eat what they love because it’s good for them and God designed them to have a taste for it and a metabolism that can use it as fuel.

When someone wrongs you, forgive them quickly because anger can get your mind going down a dark path. Don’t even think about getting revenge. It’s not your place as a human. God has said that “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” (Romans 12:19b NIV).

Kill with Kindness

When someone makes you mad you essentially have two choices. You can react or not. If you’re like me and want to make a big impact you might choose to not react. I find that indifference can be the most threatening in a situation where the person causing the anger is trying to get a reaction out of you. Bad behavior typically arises out of misconceptions because hurting people tend to hurt other people. Some Christians try to use a defense mechanism that goes something like, “you hurt me so you must not be saved.” This is how many people justify their negative reaction toward someone they don’t like.

Jesus doesn’t joke around about forgiveness. He says that if you don’t forgive your brother from your heart He won’t forgive you (Matthew 18:35). While it may be easy to justify your negativity with the thought that the aggressor is not saved but the truth is that Jesus loves and died for the person who hurt you to the same degree He loves and died for you. All people are important to Jesus. Who knows? A person who does not appear to care about Jesus or you now might actually become the next Apostle Paul upon conversion. There is a supernatural layer to our world that we don’t always see. That person that hurt you is likely under demonic oppression. Their behavior might be unintended. There’s a lot that goes on that we don’t understand. That is why God says “vengeance is mine. I will repay,” (Romans 12:19).

Jesus says that we should turn the other cheek when we are offended (Matthew 5:38-40). We should remain vulnerable to the oppressor because we actually have the upper hand. It is when we take revenge that we truly become vulnerable because in God’s eyes, we have sinned and are under His wrath. As long as your heart remains innocent toward God, the devil cannot touch you (1 John 5:18). John 9:31 states,

“We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will.”

Outwardly, you may be physically injured or cheated but God has said that He will take care of it and you. You don’t need to worry about the other person as much as you need to control yourself and remove your anger from the situation. It is in anger that people sin with their mouth or hands. Paul comments on this:

“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. (Ephesians 4:26-28 NIV)

In being innocent, Christians have the upper hand. Their reward is intact. They have not offended God. You should pray for the people that hurt you because in no way are they going to get any better or even realize they’ve done wrong while you’re ranting or cursing them. All ranting or cursing does is make Jesus look bad. Here you are with your awesome reward in heaven, with riches beyond compare, getting angry over something that doesn’t effect your immortal soul one iota. But the devil knows that if He can provoke you to sin that you will be in danger of offending God. Then you’re on your own and he can devour you.

When you choose to be kind – in your thoughts, words and actions, you choose to resolve the problem. As you are nice to your oppressor, you heap “burning coals on their head,” not to hurt them but to warm their cold, and often broken heart (Romans 12:20). Even when faced with demonic activity we are supposed to say “May the Lord rebuke you,” (Jude 1:9 NIV).  The bible says to pray for those who curse you (Luke 6:28).

So recently I was hurt by someone who I’ve helped a lot. Perhaps the reason it hurt so bad is because I’ve honestly tried hard to do right by this person. My problem lay in the fact that she is a Christian. Her immediate defense towards me was in saying that I must be a fool because I didn’t bring a light (as she put it). I thought about what she said, calling me stupid, useless, and good for nothing, and I was offended. I thought, how could she consider me useless when I’ve done so much for her? After about an hour of rehearsing the offensive statements in my head and trying to find where I went wrong, I gave up. I was frustrated. I can’t escape the situation so I might as well turn the other cheek.

For one, being nice is the meanest thing I can do without hurting myself. What I have resolved to do is be extra nice so that she can not accuse me of anything. I think it will be easier on me if I am nice because then the day will go smoothly without me feeling like I’ve done something wrong. Also, she will begin to see that my intentions are actually good and she might forgive me. Ultimately, by changing my attitude toward this person I can reframe the situation. In this world if she chooses to still be abusive she will feel guilty and will have to seek God for help. What can be more positive than seeking God?

This is the strategy that will defeat the darkness. God says that we overcome evil by doing good (Romans 12:21). In doing this you may gain a brother or sister in Christ. You may make a convert. Treating people the way you want to be treated is easy when you realize that only good comes out of it.

Ask for Help

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you,” (James 1:5 NIV).

Sometimes I think it’s easier to complain about a problem than it is to actually take positive steps to fix the problem. I think it has something to do with ego inflation. Our ego wants constantly to get bigger so it seems like complaining about something will relieve some of our anxiety. Complaining is one way to make your ego or shadow side bigger. It’s also one way to diminish God’s presence in your life. God wants to be in control of your needs. He wants to fulfill our potential and increase His glory.

Complaining makes our spirit old. It deteriorates our body and life force. Proverbs 14:30 says, “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones,” (NIV). I’d like to say that complaining rots the bones, too. It also demoralizes the person who engages in it and even demoralizes those who listen.

I had a dream once that showed me it’s process. I was talking to a beautiful teacher who started to complain. Within seconds her face contorted and shriveled until she looked old. This happens to us, too. We just don’t notice so much what it does to our body because many people in today’s society aren’t in-tune to the ways in which the spirit interacts with the body.

The Spirit gives life to the body. God is said to be the “Fountain of Living Waters.” Just as water gives life to a tree or plant, God’s Spirit gives life to our body. Science can confirm what the spirit does as science can confirm that water gives life to a tree. As our spine delivers nutrients to the rest of our body the spirit delivers nutrients to the body. The body is probably about 70% water. It moves freely through the blood and spine and lymph fluid.

There have been experiments where people found that if they talk positively to standing water the water seems to settle better and do a much better job of hydrating it’s host. You would not drink cursed water yet the definition of cursing is to talk negatively about something. When you complain you essentially are cursing your own life force. If you’ve ever been in a room with someone who is really negative and complaining you will notice yourself start to get heavier. It just brings everyone down.

Phillipians 2:14 says, “Do everything without grumbling or arguing,” (NIV).

To move forward with my story, I found myself getting discouraged about work. At work, I’ve been getting more and more upset about a client’s behaviors. She is autistic and mentally disabled. Today, while running errands, I found myself picking my own emotional scab by thinking about the negative effect my client has on me. The words I used in my mind were annoying, stupid and useless. For about a half an hour I engaged in irritating my own spirit by thinking about this problem. Having lived with myself for long enough I’ve realized that complaining doesn’t get me anywhere. Inwardly, it brings my emotions down and outwardly it annoys other people and discourages them from engaging in right behavior toward my client.

After I was pretty emotionally exhausted from thinking about the problem I decided to switch gears. I asked God to help me love her and see good in her for my sake mostly but also because she doesn’t have many friends or advocates in this world. Immediately I felt better because it closed my mind from further irritation and put the problem in God’s capable hands. God offers to help us in every situation; we just need to ask for it. He offers wisdom. That happens to be exactly what I need.

Sin also ages us. I think that is why God has such a problem with it. When I was younger – in my twenties, I went through a partying stage. I was going to the bar a lot, drinking, dancing and engaging in stupid and lewd activities. I kid you not, when I turned twenty-five I looked sixty. My hair was dry and course, my eyes looked old, I looked very awful for my age. I remember going to church for Christmas Eve services and looking like an old woman. A friend of mine I hadn’t seen in a while saw me and even commented on how old I looked. It really hurt my feelings. When I finally left that scene of trying to please myself and actually tried to obey God, His Spirit revived my body and people started to say that I looked young for my age.

Our church pastor had a similar experience. One week in church was really hard. Someone had died, someone had got into a horrible car accident, some people were getting divorced and in-general terrible things were happening. The good pastor that he was, Dave tried to help them all with counseling. When the week was over he looked like he had aged forty years. All of the trouble and sin in the church had aged him. When things cleared up God renewed his spirit and he looked young as ever.

A couple of days ago the word of the day was this on Biblegateway.com,

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life,” (Galatians 6:6-8 NIV).

The Beauty of Faith

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8 NIV

Faith is a gift. One of the beautiful things about God is that if you don’t have faith you can ask Him for it and He will give it to you. Luke 11:13 says, “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Jesus was attracted to and rewarded faith in His followers. Once, someone asked Jesus to heal Him and the man said “I do believe. Help me overcome my unbelief,” and Jesus did (Mark 9:24 NIV).

Belief is so strong in our world that people can die if they believe they have an illness even if they are perfectly healthy. It’s called the placebo effect. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia in the early 2000’s. I never believed in the diagnosis but people around me did. My doctor got a court order for me to take injectable antipsychotics for the past ten years. I fought it the entire way and never accepted the illness as mine. Someone in the hospital showed me a passage in the bible that said disease is a curse and their is no curse for those who are in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:13 NIV). So I believed I was healthy. I haven’t been back to the hospital since.

Incidentally, I recently found out that I have Asperger’s Syndrome. It is a form of Autism. I consider it a blessing. Granted, some things about it are difficult, but I can mostly manage well on my own.

Consider the promise of health Christ has guaranteed for us. When Adam sinned he brought the curse on mankind (Genesis 3:17 NIV). When Christ was hung on a cross He bore the curse for all of mankind (Galatians 3:13). When we take communion we are conceding to Jesus’ promise that we will bear no illness. Although we should have no illness some people still do. What does the bible say about it? Paul talks about some members of the congregation getting sicknesses.

1 Corinthians 11:29-31 says:

For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment.

James 5:14-16 talks about sickness and prayer. In it, James says:

Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

If you are sick, remember God’s promise to heal with prayer. Do not allow yourself to be influenced by the world that says there are incurable diseases. You know Christ can make the blind see, the dead live and the sick well. We just have to believe it. He wants to give you life (John 10:10). If God can physically part the Red Sea, we need to believe that He can essentially do anything. Nothing is impossible for God. If you can easily believe medicine makes you well, why can’t you believe that the God who made the mind who created the medicine can make you well? It’s not farfetched. What is farfetched is some of the psyche drugs on the market.

Antidepressants are marketed to kids like candy. I’ve taken them before and they don’t work. They can even induce bipolar symptoms in people that aren’t bipolar. That is exactly what happened to me. I suffered and had to take psyche meds for the past twenty years. They’ve made me gain weight, have heart palpitations and sleep all day long. I would have rather stayed away from them in the first place.

The Hebrew word for sorcery is pharmakeia. This is the root word from which we derive the word for pharmaceuticals. Is it not some kind of weird magic that people believe some pills will make them well when God has said that good health only comes from His blessing? I’m not saying don’t take your meds but I am saying do some research and heart searching. If you need to repent of something and ask someone to pray with you, don’t be ashamed. Do it. If you need to start taking better care of yourself, do that, too. But don’t believe the lie that the pharmaceutical companies put out that popping a pretty pill will make you better.  Do believe that what you ask in faith, believing it will happen, will be done.

God Still Speaks

Do you ever get the feeling that God isn’t listening anymore? Some people believe that God is silent, inert, deaf and uncaring. In many places in the bible God condemns idolatry. He even comments on how stupid it is to believe something made by human hands with no sensory organs could take the place of God. This gives us a good indication to what God is not: silent, deaf, inert, and uncaring. God isn’t an idol. He refers to Himself as the fountain of living waters (John 4:10). He offers His Spirit to all who believe in Him (1 Thessalonians 4:8). His Spirit is real, alive, hearing, seeing, sensing, active and Holy – as His name indicates.

When I committed my efforts to this blog, I was told to write everyday. Yesterday I challenged this command by not sitting down to write until nearly 11pm. I had to work for eight hours and my sister and her family were here so I told myself that I would squeeze in writing after work. By the time I got off work and home I was tired. I sat at the computer for a good ten minutes waiting for inspiration but none came. I looked at Biblegateway.com’s verse of the day which was when tempted, God will always offer a way out so that you will not sin. I sat on my bed and began to read the bible. Not finding any inspiration, I slowly sulked into a laying position and before too long, fell asleep.

As I lay, I asked God to give me inspiration so that I wouldn’t miss a day of writing. While laying in bed I envisioned a white board on my floor with writing on it. It said what to write. I couldn’t read the whole thing before I awoke. I still didn’t know what to write so I went back to sleep. Around two I woke and sat at the computer again. I browsed to biblegateway and read their verse for the day – today.

It was this,

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” Galatians 6:7-8 NIV

I was listening to my flesh and sleeping when I should have been writing. God does still speak in various, meaningful and even unconventional ways. Jesus promises to be with us until the end of the age. He also promises never to leave or forsake us. I keep going back to that verse. God is faithful. It is no wonder He expects it from us. I could give you hundreds of examples of God speaking in everyday situations.

If you want to hear from God and not just talk to Him in prayer you can. All it takes is an open mind, heart and some of your time. One way to hear from God is by reading the bible. If you pose a question in your mind – the key to this is to listen to your mind’s chatter. Where the mind goes the man follows. If you ask yourself, “I wonder what God would say to me today,” then open the bible to a random page and read where ever you are drawn to you can sometimes get an answer. The Holy Spirit speaks most of the time to our inner self. It’s voice is always present and is one that we sometimes take for granted. If you pay attention to that chatter and dialogue in your mind you can often get a sense for what God is trying to tell you. God hears our thoughts. He determines whether or not or motives are pure and sometimes convicts us of sin by showing us that our motives were wrong. He is very sensitive and knows why we do the things we do. There is no reason to try to hide or mask ourselves when facing God because His Spirit sees all.

Once I was walking on a back stretch of road and thinking about my life’s experiences. I was thinking about a trial that I had been facing for a long time. In my mind, I said to myself, God should thank me for how good I’ve been. This does seem cocky looking back but I’m trying to be honest. Just then a car turned and pulled in front of me on this off-beaten road and the license plate said – no joke “Godthxu.” I almost tripped I was so excited. What are the chances that that car with that license plate would pull out in front of my vision with that message on it? God does speak. He is amazing.

When you get start to hear from God, you will forsake this world’s pleasures. They don’t compare to God. He is able to provide our deepest desires and even better He provides us with deep spiritual intimacy with Him through the presence of the Holy Spirit. His Spirit isn’t that dried up dead stuff churches sometimes offer with their crusty hymnals and readings. It is alive and dynamic. It hears, sees, smells, tastes, feels and talks. Don’t settle into a complacent mindset and allow yourself to believe that God doesn’t have anything to say to you. He does. The bible quotes Jesus as saying that He came to give us life to the full (John 10:10). We need to start taking Him up on that offer and listening to what He has to say.