Breaking Free From Addiction

My pastor once said, “under two clouds friends rarely meet.” I met my friend last yesterday afternoon. We both cried for like the first ten minutes because it had been so long since I had seen her. When I was crying I was just thinking about how nice it was to see her and to see someone that had known me since my youth. We had a lot of catching up to do. When my pastor said that to me it was in a dream. My parents drank a lot when I was young. I had to babysit my younger sister when most of my friends were out together. I developed sort of an indifferent relationship with my friends from school. I thought that they would never be around to help me with my sister and this made me angry and it made me feel isolated and alone in the world. My parents used me to meet their needs at the time. Their needs centered around addiction. They were the two clouds. This post is about addiction, how it can destroy us and what we can do to fight back.

Kids brought up in addictive families often feel guilt. This is how the spirit of addiction can destroy children. Guilt causes us to destroy ourselves from the inside. Many dark spirits come from addiction. Guilt is a very heavy one that weighs on the back of the children that live in addictive families. It is often bigger than the kids and can drive them into addictive lifestyles long into adulthood. It is self destructive much like a spirit described in a sermon I heard recently. The pastor described it as a spirit of Jezebel – which does not represent a rebellious or opinionated woman but rather a spirit of self destruction – irrational fear and suicide. It is the spirit Elijah was tormented with when he fought with Jezebel who sought to take his life after he had killed 800 of her prophets. The irrational fear being that Jezebel had any power over Elijah when God had just shown that he was overwhelmingly in favor of Elijah.

Parents who suffer from addiction are dangerous because they no longer are operating consciously. It is their addiction that is operating and controlling their lives. My parents would often go out drinking two nights a week and come home late after driving drunk and sleep in the next day until around four in the afternoon. The whole weekend was eaten up by me watching, feeding and caring for them and my sister. I lived a somber existence on the weekends. My only joy was watching SNL at 12:30am on Saturday night. After that I watched Tales from the Crypt. That is where I became aware of dark things no child should ever see. My dad would fall down a lot when he was drunk. The scary thing was that both my mom and dad were out of control.

I don’t write this to shame them. I only wish more people understood this process in order to avoid being sucked into it.

Addiction is a form of idolatry. It gives full spiritual and physical control over a person to their god which is their substance of choice.

Addiction is a cruel master. it will drive you and your family into the ground and destroy your mind, body and resources – including friendships. Friendships are important but they rarely survive when one person is suffering under the consequences of addiction.

Addictive substances often dull pain because it is the demon’s way of numbing your senses in order to gain full spiritual control over you. When you don’t feel what the demons are doing to your spirit you don’t even realize they are hurting you. You won’t even attempt to do what you need to do cast them out. You won’t seek spiritual help – friends, family, pastors, church family. The demons cause you to isolate by using shame. They cause you to hurt others with behavior that is not even your own and then make you feel shame for your apparent lack of self control and destructive nature.

Life’s existence can be painful. But usually pain is not naturally present where disease is absent. What I’m saying is that demons cause pain. When you are not in the presence of bad spirits, you are less likely to sin, therefore you are less likely to have disease and pain. Disease and pain are a product of the curse which Christians are not subject to because Christ is their body and he never sinned.

What can we do to stop addiction if we are in the midst of it? Well, I think it’s helpful to say there is nothing we can do to fight addiction by ourselves. Not only do we need friends, more importantly, we need love. We need Christ to beat the spirits that are driving our addiction. He is the only one strong enough to do it. We need to pray and ask for Christ’s help. He can cure any addiction.

Keep Your Chin Up

Yesterday I did some shopping for groceries at Costco. As I was looking around at the people there, I noticed many were older and looking very tired. I myself was feeling tired. I started to get irritable because there was a lady there that nearly hit me with her cart in an effort to get ahead of me and get the last of the sample tray. I started to think about it and I got really angry. Then I got in line to pay and there was something wrong with the produce I bought so I had to go back and get another bag of it. I was really irritated. Then on the way out the door, I saw a man that must have weighed upwards of four hundred pounds that was really dirty and stinky. I had to hold my breath when I walked behind him to avoid the urge to vomit. i got in my car and started to exit the parking lot. People were driving faster than the speed limit and riding my tail.

My next stop was Meijer. I got in the parking lot and saw a friend of mine. I felt better. Suddenly it was if the clouds lifted. I realized how negative I was being. I started to think well I can either have a good day or a bad day and I think I would like to have a good day. So I told myself, if my friend Jodi the cart pusher can smile in this heat, why can’t I focus on good things? So I said, “let’s clean this mess up.” I picked up the trash in my car and threw it out. As I walked in I noticed a license plate with three almost consecutive sevens on it. People looked younger, happier and friendlier. Three girls walked their service dog in training into Meijer ahead of me. Everything was better. Then, as if to show me what the lesson for the day was, I walked by the candy isle and there was an old man in a wheelchair with too much cologne on complaining to three Meijer workers. He was the oldest person in the store and he smelled like he rolled in cologne. I smiled and didn’t think twice about it.

When I got home I realized that when I was directing my focus on problems and negativity, I felt old and irritable. Smells became noxious and everyone around me started to look old. Beautiful people know the secret to beauty – positivity. Your mind is like a flashlight and what you shine it on kind of becomes you. There are different areas all around that you can focus on and the outside is always a reflection of the inside. If you focus on the positive, you are literally seeing the face of God because He is good. When Moses focused on God’s image (his backside) on the mountain, his face became radiant. It was so radiant, people had to look away. If you focus on beauty – in any form, you will become beautiful. If you focus on negativity, sadness, filth, ugliness – you will look ugly because your face is a reflection of what you see. I always say, what you behold you become.

It is for this reason I tend to regulate strictly what my eyes, ears and body take in. If I focus on negative media – the news, television, Facebook, I will become negative. Even in terms of what you eat – beautiful and colorful fruits and vegetables tend to bring the most nutrients to the body. My mom has been trying to teach me this lesson all my life. She’s beautiful and she’s in her early sixties. It is because she surrounds herself with beauty and focuses on it. She likes to be outdoors and to garden. She eats healthy foods most of the time. She avoids sugar.

That may seem like a trite add-on to this post but sugar is a very negative chemical. It causes so many problems in the body, including anxiety, tiredness and obesity.

When it comes to religion, people that focus on things that you can’t do as a Christian and things that they don’t accept – the devil, homosexuality, etc, they become those things. Think of the people that carry signs that say “God hates fags.” Their faces are twisted in anger and they actually become an embodiment of anger and hate. This is what led to the downfall of the devil himself. It is why you see the devil in their faces. They focus on what they don’t want to be and in doing so – become it. It’s weird logically but there is overwhelming evidence of it in society.

This is the reason I love nature so much. It’s beautiful. Animals are beautifully created. So are humans. What you put into your mind and body is a reflection of what you are. If it’s ugly, look away. Don’t focus on it. If you don’t focus on the devil and his negativity, he can literally do nothing with you. Something in you has to resonate with him in order for his negativity to stick to you and age you. Don’t let it. Focus on love and positive thoughts and you will beat his attempts to sabotage you. He wants to kill you, simply put. Heaven is in your mind and if you create an atmosphere that is full of light your mind will be full of light and the Kingdom of Heaven will be within you.

Overcome Evil by Doing Good

This is basically a journal entry with advice to myself. If you find it beneficial we will both be blessed by it. I have been going through some trials at work and normally I can just brush it off especially when I’m at work because I have a job to do and my mind is focused on doing it well. As a caregiver, I’ve found that over the years, working with people that need special care draws you closer to God and closer to whomever you’re caring for. Although the compensation (pay) doesn’t reflect this, caregiving can be stressful. You have to make sure your cup is full emotionally before you can reach out to help others. Having a younger sister who is severely disabled, I’ve been caregiving all my life. The people I have cared for mostly have cognitive and communicative disabilities. The two that I see the most have autism and cannot speak. I myself have Asperger’s which is a form of autism. As a Christian, I realize that in our lives there is always demonic activity trying to pull us away from God. As a person with autism who also deals with people with autism I am starting to see how it affects us.

I will try to communicate to you how it affects me. Typically it starts with a suggestion. Like in the Garden of Eden story, we perceive a lack or deficiency in God’s provision or plan (if we know it). When we perceive the assumed deficiency we start to think about it’s unfairness and God’s inability to provide for our needs in a way we would deem sufficient. Caught in a poor me or what if fallacy of thinking, we lose trust in God and start to meditate on our condition as the devil or ego has explained it to us. We will either start to worry or start to get angry. These are dark emotions that make the ego bigger and stronger. When the ego gets stronger and our trust in God wanes we start to push away from prayer and begin a meditation for chaos because the same spirit that is fueling our ego is also fueling and carrying out our fears. The bible says not to worry because worry does not help anything and nothing is achieved by over-activity in the human mind. Jesus says that we cannot turn our hair from white to black or gain a single inch in height by worrying.

In some people, they have seizures and lose control of their bodies. In me, it creates a spirit of fear and I am unable to control my thoughts. They become catastrophic and worry based and I start to withdraw socially or sink into depression. The bible says that God has not given us a spirit of fear but a spirit of sonship by which we cry out to the Father, “Abba,” or “Daddy.” In other words, God gives His children a seeker’s spirit and a spirit of worship. From our mouth should pour out praise and affection for God and our brothers and sisters in Christ.

There is a way to stop all demonic activity before it becomes overwhelming. First, stop thinking negative. You probably have some thoughts that come in involuntarily. They are fast, negative, and judgmental. However, if you choose to mull over those thoughts and repeat them you are fueling a cycle that will eventually leave your realm of control. Your ego will take over and you’ll find yourself in the company of negative spirits. If you need more help stopping the negative thoughts I recommend the second step: pray. In order to counteract negative spirits you need the sword of the Spirit which is the Word. You need to speak the truth you know about God and your situation in a prayer in order to reaffirm what you already know: God is sufficient. Essentially, God is in control and bigger than the negative thoughts or spirits you’re fighting. I recommend reading the bible every day just to remind yourself of passages that have helped you in the past. Get your bible dirty, marked up and dog-eared. I don’t mean to say you should drop it in the mud but do underline and highlight the verses that you find meaningful. Before you read, ask God to point out to you what He wants to show you for the day. It will likely be useful to you or someone else in your day’s journey.

The third way to get rid of all the negative energy is to shift your focus. Do something good. It could be small but it will occupy your thinking and focus your mind on doing good. Not only will you feel great, you will be helping someone else feel great, too. The bible says we overcome evil by doing good.

My last bit of advice to myself is to not allow anything bad to come out of your mouth. If you need to vent, do it in prayer with a spirit of confession. God is very serious about not grumbling against Him or others because it can be so damaging and permanent when your negative thoughts are spoken. It is very hard to take back negative words spoken and they can call and attract negative energy. In one way it gives people fodder to see negativity in you and dislike you. In another way, it puts you in agreement with the devil’s negative mindset. This is something that will drag your spirit down fast.

Also, I would like to point out that heaven and hell exist in our minds. One way to ensure happiness is to carry heaven in your heart and mind so that when and if you do find yourself in hell you will not suffer from it’s effects. Given the unpredictability of our world’s political climate you will probably find this useful. If you can stay positive you will realize that the Kingdom of Heaven is truly within you.

Getting Through Despair – A Case Against Works Based Theology

Recently a friend of mine told me he had an uncomfortable experience when another person asked him if he was saved. Knowing my friend is saved, I asked him why he felt uncomfortable. He said that he knows he’s not perfect and that he doesn’t feel like he’s good enough to be called a Christian. I myself have fallen into this thinking trap so I knew what to tell him to get him out of it. You see the devil is always trying to make us doubt our salvation. If he can make believers into doubters he can temporarily derail a perfectly good witness for Christ.

Many Christians believe they have made mistakes too grave for Christ to forgive and as a result they have fallen away or remained crouched in the fetal position when it comes to proclaiming what they believe. Works based theology says that we are Christians based on what we do. But the Bible never says our works are anything more than filthy rags in front of Christ’s sacrifice (Isaiah 54:6). His sacrifice and our belief in him is what makes us righteous. Belief is a gift from God. So you can see that salvation has nothing to do with our works but everything to do with the work the Holy Spirit is doing in us. Jesus says that his yoke is easy and his burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV). If we had to amass our own salvation with works what would we need Christ for? The Bible says that we can do nothing apart from Christ (John 15:5). All our energy, righteousness, faith, love and hope begin and end in God – the Alpha and the Omega.

The early Christian church dealt with the heresy of works based theology. Paul said that those who teach works as a way to salvation are better off not to procreate because they are denying the power of salvation that came through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. They people that preached that people had to be circumcised in order to be saved in addition to believing in Christ were considered heretics by the Apostle Paul. He actually said they should emasculate themselves because their offense was so serious (Galatians 5). God wants us to live by grace and he will commit the fulfillment of the law with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Christ is the fulfillment of the law and we were meant to live by grace not by works. He came so that we would have joy to the full not a burden of keeping the law by our own striving (John 10:10). This type of works based salvation is very attractive to bible thumping hell fire and brimstone preachers because they believe it makes them superior to other believers and heathen.

Good works do have a place in a Christian’s life. They are a result of God’s grace. They are not burdensome or heavy. Good works are a byproduct of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit so that we don’t go around boasting about how great we are but so that we give God all the credit and glory for our salvation and everything that comes with it.

Despair comes from works based theology. It’s during the struggle that we experience despair because at some point we realize that nothing is good enough. We find our human condition in a state of despair. It robs us of our joy and shackles us in despondency. Despair is the opposite of what Christ has planned for us. He came that we might have joy and have it to the full. It causes depression. Depression is demonic oppression. The devil knows you can’t save anyone when you are depressed. No one wants what brand of religion you’re selling if it doesn’t even make you happy. It’s hard to even find a reason to wake up in the morning when you’re feeling despair.

Our nation is in a state of despair at this point. People are just trying to make it through the day and not necessarily preaching the gospel. If they knew the gospel they wouldn’t have to preach it their lives would be a living sermon. Now they are trying to bandage their wounded spirits with entertainment and consumerism. People are sluggish, tired, and fat because they are using maladaptive coping mechanisms (addictions) as idols to replace the joy that is missing in their lives from not knowing the gold that lies in the message of the gospel. The message is “Christ has risen and He has overcome the world!” We are overcomers; we have hope. We have a purpose. Our God has not abandoned us. Joy comes from knowing you are saved. It comes from knowing the gospel. Ultimately it comes from a rich a full life that is inspired by the Holy Spirit. If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ now, what are you waiting for? He’s the only way toward freedom from despair, despondency and the struggle.

Do Not Worry

Don’t worry. We had a sermon about this last Sunday and it really helped me so I think I will expound on it and share my thoughts and experiences so that someone else can benefit from them.

The Bible says that God never gives us more of a burden than we can carry on any given day. Thoughts come in our heads all day but we don’t have to build on them or unpack them. If you are worried about something pray about it and Christ will take care of it.

We just aren’t built to carry the burden of worry. Not many animals have pockets or purses yet they seem to always have enough to eat and a place to sleep. This is because God feeds them what they need when they need it. If they worried about tomorrow they wouldn’t have the energy to forage today. They’d be weak, ugly and sick. Their hair would be coming out it clumps and they would probably stink a lot worse than what is natural from all of their sweat. God doesn’t say don’t be ready for the future, he just says don’t worry about it. Sure the end of the world could be coming tomorrow but who cares? We’ll all be dead if it does. What’s the worst that can happen? We die. If we die we won’t even know we’re dead because the dead know nothing. If they know nothing, they know no pain.

If God couldn’t handle things, by definition, He wouldn’t be God. Worry is a form of striving. We don’t need it. It’s outputting energy into the atmosphere that serves no functional purpose. It’s like a hamster on a wheel. It’s not going anywhere; it makes the hamster tired and it doesn’t fuel anything important. At least a hamster on a wheel is getting exercise but worry is not a good outlet for mental energy. If you stay busy with your hands or mind by working or reading you won’t have any use for worry. They say an idle mind is the devil’s workshop and I concur. Don’t let yourself get bored because boredom often leads to worry.

Also, don’t eat a lot of sugar. Sugar makes our minds and bodies susceptible to demonic attack. It can cause anxiety and a whole host of physical problems. The same is true for simple carbohydrates like white bread or pasta. When I work I sometimes end up eating too much sugar because it’s all that’s available. When this happens I will often have anxiety attacks that come with no warning or cause (besides the sugar). What I mean is that I will have crippling anxiety with no thoughts that should have provoked it. It’s very scary. When I eat healthy I don’t suffer from anxiety at all. It has been said that sugar is more addictive than cocaine. People that eat a lot of sugar often look and feel old at a young age. It reduces the body’s ability to heal itself. If you eat it it will rot your teeth. When it’s rotting your teeth, what do you think it’s doing to the rest of the body – especially when our teeth (or bones) are the hardest structures in our body?

If you have a lot of excess mental energy, I recommend reading or exercising. If you don’t have the patience for that, maybe play a video game. It will buffer the energy and give you something constructive to think about (as long as it’s not a violent game). You can also create things with arts and crafts or painting.

Above all else, if you try to stay positive and think about things that make you happy you will not have time or energy for worry. You’ll find yourself even looking better. You can be your own natural antidepressant. All this requires a little bit of discipline which doesn’t readily seem to sell in our country but it’s worth it.

Love Defeats Darkness

Love is the only way to defeat the darkness. I am a fighter. A lot of the time I am alone and it is important that I stay strong because sometimes there is no one around to encourage or help me. I’ve been judged, hurt, neglected, discriminated against, and even called a witch. I am eccentric and usually awkward socially but honest and faithful. For a long time I thought that I had something wrong with me because I was different than other people I knew. Turns out, I am autistic, which accounts for most of my eccentricities and awkwardness. I’ve finally found a job where I can make a difference in people’s lives and it’s even made a difference in mine. I work with autistic adults, assisting them in their daily living.

For most of my life I’ve thought that being strong meant me against the world because outwardly, that is how life appeared to me. In school I mostly kept to myself although I was friendly and nice to all my peers. My stepdad for a long time now has felt like my enemy. His exterior is very rough and he doesn’t compromise much or show things like happiness or love. This disturbs me and I am usually very shut down around him because I am afraid of getting emotionally hurt. Recently, I realized that I needed to try a different way.

The only thing that has ever prompted positive behavior toward others in me is love. When people reach out to me and show me kindness my heart learns to trust them and open up to them.

I began going back to a church I used to go to with the intention of loving the congregation. At first, I was afraid they would judge me but now I’m fixated on showing them love and helping them. They showed love to me in opening their doors to me and I appreciated it. Deep down I know that I need to maintain internal strength and faith independent of the church family for their sake and mine. People may not understand everything about you and they might judge you negatively but you have to maintain your faith and confidence in Christ for the sake of your own conscience and integrity. You should make sure you’re doing good when no one else is looking and that you’re not putting on an act for church folk.

When we love people we open their hearts to change. When we are careful and considerate in our actions we open the channels for constructive learning. The only reason people act bad is because either they feel unloved or they don’t know any better. Both can be remedied when we show love.

We wage war all day long with darkness. Violence only begets violence. Anger only causes violence and darkness to thrive. If you try to defeat evil by violence you will only make the darkness in you stronger. If you try to fight hate with hate you’ll only reap darkness, misunderstanding, and fear. To defeat darkness you must show love and do good. Acts of love are never wasted. No one may know what you’ve done to help other people but God knows. Also, you must not treat yourself poorly. Be rich in kindness toward yourself. Don’t criticize things you can’t change in yourself. Think about things that make you happy and don’t beat yourself up anymore. If you make a mistake, say sorry and move on. Do your best.

How To Overcome Darkness

Today I learned a lesson. I went upstairs to put my clothes in the dryer and I saw my stepdad. He struggles with depression and alcoholism and he is rarely positive. When I look at him, I start thinking thoughts about how much I dislike him. Today I realized why and what it was actually doing to me. Undoubtedly, he has made mistakes which have hurt me. But I must realize that I have also made mistakes that have hurt him. As a person he has his flaws but as a person I also have flaws. In front of God we stand on level ground without Christ’s help. Christ helped me by saving me. When I think about how I don’t like my stepdad, it is not about how I don’t like him as a person. What I don’t like is when he is mean spirited.

To be mean spirited is to temporarily harbor an evil spirit. When I am thinking about how much I dislike him I, too, am interacting with a negative spirit in a way that is dangerous. It not only makes my ego larger, it makes me angry and causes my thoughts to become negative. This makes me in the current moment victim to an evil spirit. However, if I were to disengage from the negative thinking I could easily dismiss the evil spirit that is attacking me. To get it out of my presence I need to either look away and try to think positive or continue to look and maybe put a smile on my face. In other words, by showing love to my stepdad I have a better chance of dissipating the darkness in him and keep it from entering myself.

When blame steps in it brings with it anger. Anger feeds negativity and dark forces and causes me to act in ways that are inconsistent with Christ’s character. Shame brings guilt and guilt brings fear of punishment which also causes me to act in ways that are inconsistent with God’s character. To be afraid of God keeps me from seeking His help. Which is why the blame and shame cycle never helps save souls it only distances them from God. The preachers that preach in negative ways that condemn and discourage are those that are seen as hypocrites immediately by children and saved folk because the look on their face and the tone of their voice scream their lack of God’s Spirit.

Sometimes I find myself thinking negative thoughts and it causes me to obviously get angry. I will then start attacking the object of my anger in my mind. That invites a mean spirit and usually causes me to feel guilt about something I’ve thought. It also puts me in danger of sinning by speaking something that would criticize or hurt someone else. It also changes the look on my face which can put people off and hurt feelings.

This all works the same with complaining. Complaining is negative and insulting to God. It obviously distances us from God. It will cause you to be tired and to look and feel old. God’s Spirit also gives us energy and natural beauty. Why is complaining insulting to God? It insists that God’s plan and His Spirit are something other than perfect. God gives us what we need when we need it and if we need something He hasn’t given us, it is clear that we should ask for it. If we don’t get it we probably don’t need it. After learning to trust God don’t throw away progress by complaining. That’s what the Israelites did and a whole bunch died because God punished them.

Worry is another negative mindset that doesn’t come from or help the Holy Spirit. Worry comes from a spirit of fear which is contrary to God’s Spirit. Worry causes striving which gives the illusion of struggle. If you catch yourself being tired a lot you should begin to wonder if you have been striving too much. It wears you out so that you’re in no condition or mood to act the way God would want you to. Even mind striving is unnecessary. What do I mean by this? Don’t try to make things happen with your mind. If you think something or do something wrong apologize – then move on. Don’t try to fix a thought with a thought because it can’t be done. It’s like trying to erase a pen mark with another pen mark. It can’t be done because in thinking of what you need to correct in order to correct it, you’ve already committed the error again. You need to say sorry, forgive your mistake and take the healing that comes with it. If you need to talk it out, you can. But you have to get out of your mind and back to earth so you can be fully present and act how Jesus died for you to act – happy.

Never Give Up

I don’t know if other people struggle with this issue or not but I will share my experience in order to shed light on a mindset that is rarely talked about in the Christian church. When I used to go to church I would feel so uncomfortable. The experience was completely overwhelming. What I felt was that if I wasn’t doing the Lord’s work I wasn’t doing enough. I thought it was necessary to become a minister and preach the Word and save souls in order for me to be saved. The truth is there are a lot of needs in the church and to fill those needs it only is necessary that we do simple acts of obedience with love. It is not necessary to preach to people because most of your sermon doesn’t come from your words but from your actions. God sees and knows this and it is exactly why He equipped us with a ready, willing and healthy spirit – His Spirit, in fact, so that we could help those in need.

There isn’t some special knowledge that God endows us with that imparts upon us favor. Belief begins and ends with God so that God gets all the glory. He gives us faith and our gifts are exactly that, gifts. This makes it so people can’t boast that they have some sort of special knowledge that saves them. I believe this is called Gnosticism. It’s really just a tactic of the devil to keep us tied up in knots. When we’re constantly trying to be good we are so focused on ourselves in striving, it’s exhausting. No one is able to be helpful when they’re physically and psychologically exhausted. Striving is of the flesh and it causes jealousy, selfish ambition and strife between people. None of that is necessary. God doesn’t need our help to do His work but he blesses us with His Spirit so that we can share in His joy.

The devil puts us down, he wears us down, and he has many faces. Once you realize that he has many faces and can fill anybody at any time you start to understand how serious the battle is. If you don’t have God’s spirit you will be defeated. By nature we are little more than worms. But with God’s Spirit we really can do anything. A tactic I have learned to help me cope with the ups and downs and subtle discouragements that come is to stay positive and never give up. When the devil reminds you of your past, remind him of his future. He’s very insecure so he will point out your weaknesses in order to destroy your confidence. He will try to humiliate you into not sharing your testimony. But don’t doubt the progress God has made in you. You may have made mistakes but none are so serious that they can’t be forgiven.

You are important to God and He loves you. He would never hurt or discourage you into feeling defeated. Also, God has promised to never leave or forsake His children. That is a promise that you can believe in. Remember the Israelites were stuck in the desert for 40 years traveling around the same mountain on a journey that technically should have only taken 11 days. God prepares us thoroughly for the promise land as He did the Israelites. He wants to bless us abundantly but we have to be ready for it so that we don’t slip into forms of idolatry once we arrive. Things may look bleak but don’t give up because God has promised not to give up on you.

Now, I am a queen of “what-if” questions. If there is a subtle possibility of there being a loophole in God’s promise, I have tried to find it. Honestly, with all my experience and research I’ve only found it to be true that God’s promise remains one-hundred percent foolproof. If any of His children could fall or be snatched from His hand His promise would be void. I am one such example of the tried and true promise. I thought I would go to hell because of the mistakes I made while saved. But that is a fear that comes from the pit not from God. Your church may even give up on you but God won’t. He can and will use everyone He’s called to fulfill His purpose.

If I believed that liar that is the devil I’d believe I was going to hell for leaving church early on Sunday or for swearing in my mind. The truth is that the devil knows how to make us feel guilty because it’s all that he feels (that and fear). He will project his guilt onto anyone that will accept the blame. We just have to remember that Christ’s sacrifice was enough to save the worst sinner. If it wasn’t, what good would it be? We’re all destined for hell without Christ because the Bible says “no one is good.” Don’t let people shame or dirty look you into thinking you’re worthless. You’re not. Also, God is not a respecter of persons that some people would be holier than others due to their profession, deeds or special knowledge. Don’t let people brow beat you. You are just as valuable as they are to God.

What Not To Do

There are three things that I’ve learned that God does not want us to operate from. They are: striving, fear and forgetfulness.

Let’s start with forgetfulness. We know the importance of the maxim “Know thyself.” When you make the same mistakes over and over again something is not going right in your learning process. Basically, you are not learning from your mistakes. We all make mistakes. Sin is a mistake. We aren’t expected to not make mistakes but we are expected to learn from them. If you know what your weaknesses are you can make a plan to avoid situations where you will be tempted to sin. For instance, if you are an alcoholic, you might want to avoid that buddy that tells you it’s not going to hurt anything to get loaded again. It does you no good to forget your buddy is also an alcoholic.

We should never forget what God has done for us. We should never forget where we came from and what it felt like when God freed us from sin. Sin is bondage. When you don’t have Christ you are under the curse. Your body is bound for decay and will reap the fruit of sin – death. When you are saved you are no longer under the curse. Your body is not under the bondage of death and decay; you have crossed over from death to eternal life. When Christ took on the cross he took on the curse and nailed it to the cross. He put to death death and ended the curse. There is no longer a curse for those who are in Christ. They are free from bondage. Don’t forget what that feels like. When you forget what God has done for you, you are more likely to sin against Him.

The second thing God doesn’t want us to operate out of is fear. God has not given us a spirit of fear. He’s given us His Spirit. That also means he doesn’t want us to worry. Jesus promised two things that contradict a spirit of fear: peace and joy. If the majority of the time you do not experience peace or joy you should question whether or not you are truly following God’s lead. Our peace and joy should guard our hearts from turmoil and reassure us of the promise of our salvation through Christ Jesus. These two things are evidence that we’ve been given God’s Spirit and that we are sealed for a victorious life in Christ. A spirit of fear causes bad behavior. It can also cause striving, the third element that God wishes to clear from our behavior.

Striving is against God’s will for us. When you strive you risk making what you strive for an idol. Instead of being content with the moment of now you are focused on the future. When you are striving you cannot experience joy because your effort is centered on something that is essentially out of your control in attaining: the future. You don’t know if you will live or die tomorrow, so why focus your efforts on something that you do not know whether or not you will be there to enjoy? You have the present moment and in this moment Christ has guaranteed peace and joy.

To grasp those things in the future is called striving and it doesn’t work. Striving steals our peace and joy in the present because when you strive you are not content with what you’ve been given. God doesn’t say that salvation is something you strive for. It is a free gift. You’ll never be perfect based on your striving or wanting to be like Christ. Wanting to be something is futile. You are not your creator. The best you can do to attain salvation is to believe in Christ’s sacrifice. Even then, faith is also a gift from God. Nothing you do can save you. It’s like a pig bathing to get the mud off in mud. When your thoughts and heart are far from God, no amount of will power or mental energy can clean that up. You have to let a clean God wash your conscience clear. You know deep down you are a sinner. Everyone is. No one can save you but God Himself. Jesus is the only sinless human because He is also God. Lay down your burden and let Christ carry you to the other side. Because of sin and the guilt it brings you are already tainted. Like a dirty pig you can’t wash your mind free of guilt by wanting to be clean. The human condition indicates that you are born into sin. No one can escape fatality on this planet unless they are sinless and only Christ was.

God is the author and perfector of our faith. God’s plan for salvation is good enough for everyone. He did it Himself and He will receive all the glory for it.

The End of Striving

God takes us from glory to glory. This past week I went on a vacation to Italy. In all honesty, I didn’t like it. I am by nature a home body and going out of my element for any more than a day is taxing. I went with my mom and she loves to travel. Her job consists mainly of travel. The trip was exhausting but God helped me through it.

There is a reason God does the things He does. He doesn’t intend to exhaust us. When we do get exhausted due to our own disobedience, he will restore us to our former glory when we ask. He wants to give us rest. He wants us to seek His rest and His face. In fact, that is what the Sabbath is all about. Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:1). He doesn’t ask for striving, he asks for presence. He is not a God of wanting and striving, He is a God of being. His name is not I will be but I Am. All seeking and striving is for naught. God is within us. He is ever present. There is no need to run to a foreign country to see the beauty inside yourself. You are an entire galaxy. Why seek to visit another galaxy? What is wrong with yours?

When God led the Israelites out of Egypt He taught them how to be content with what God gave them and not to seek other gods or foreign lands for satisfaction. In fact, God kept them in the wilderness for forty years when the journey to the promised land was really only 11 days. They just kept going in circles until they learned how to live out of God’s hand.

I had a similar thing happen to me. I’m glad it didn’t take forty years but it did take seven. I spent years traveling going to parties and looking for something. I lost my license due to a mental breakdown where I was so exhausted I went crazy in 2009. I lived for seven years without a license or a job. I lived in near poverty but I always had enough. I learned to be content with what I had. It was just me and my dog and cat. We were happy. I learned to tend to my needs and take care of my dog. I learned to be present and to listen for God’s leading. I couldn’t do anything else, For some people it takes illness or loss to learn peace. That’s exactly what it took me.

God built us. He knows how to keep us at optimal functioning. We only need to listen. If we won’t listen we have to learn the hard way. The manual way. When I start striving and envying what others have I end up hurting myself. I think, “if I go here or there I will be happy.” I thought if I went on a trip with my mom I could spend more time with her but how stupid is that when we live in the same house? But in the striving I sinned against my own body and disturbed my peace. By the end of the trip my thoughts were angry and hopeless. That is what striving does. It’s worthless. Don’t say tomorrow we will do this or that because you don’t know what tomorrow will bring (James 4:13). Instead, say, if it is the Lord’s will we will do this or that because apart from His will you can do nothing. Look at the Lilies of the field, they neither toil nor spin and verily I say to you Solomon in all his glory was not clothed as one of these (Luke 12:17).

On our trip we were walking along a canal in Milan and at the end we ran into a shop with the most delicious looking treats. Just then I was saying how hungry I was. I thought “Thank you, God, for bringing this to me.” Then I was overwhelmed with God’s grace and started crying. I saw a huge graffiti that said “No frontier.” Then I realized that God was there with me. I didn’t need to search for Him. Then a song came on the radio that was Ed Sheeran’s Perfect. If made me so happy. Words don’t describe what my heart felt. Just then a group of boys all started staring at me. God made me beautiful. Peace is beautiful. It’s a placid lake.