Freedom to Run in Christ

The Power of Prayer freedom_sunrise

Over this past weekend, my church, as we do on the last weekend of every January, had “Freedom Weekend.” It was the last weekend of how my church starts every new year. The first weekend is “Shredder Weekend.” On that weekend, we write down things from the previous year that we are leaving behind in the old year. The next weekend is “Vision Weekend,” and on that weekend we write down our visions for the new year.

On both of those weekends, after the speaker finishes their message, each person who has written down those things they are shredding or their visions, they go forward to pray with one of the pastors or church leaders. The power in this is that for many centuries during old testament times, covenants were made by two people cutting an animal in half and then walking through the two halves.

Of course, on Shredder Weekend, when a person goes down for prayer, they bring down their pieces of paper and put them into paper shredders. Then, the pastor or church leader prays for them. That next weekend, then, is the weekend when every person walks through into a new vision for their new year.

Then, there is faith weekend, which is a weekend to prepare the church for “Freedom Weekend.” During Freedom Weekend, which was this last weekend, after the speaker finishes their message, the speaking pastor leads the congregation in a prayer of healing and deliverance. Then, again, people go down for prayer with one of the pastors or church leaders.

On that weekend, when the people go forward, they do not bring any paper with them. Rather, the person praying for them asks them what they need prayer for, and that person confesses to them what they need deliverance from. The deliverance and healing experienced on Freedom Weekend is intense to say the least. Chains are broken, and people are set free.

Our Freedom in Christ

Yesterday morning, before church, when I was praying, God said to me, “You will not receive freedom from rather you will receive freedom to.” What He meant is that I am a free man by the blood of His son, as are all of His sons and daughters, but my healing yesterday was my freedom to experience all that He has for me. It was a time for every person in the church, in Christ, to experience Freedom to be whole, Freedom to be healed, Freedom to be delivered, Freedom to experience the wholeness of the new man or woman they are in Christ, and Freedom to lay hold of eternal life (I Tim. 6:12-19). It is possible for a person to be a Christian and to be free in Christ but to not realize, enjoy, or abide within that freedom.

Now, maybe you’re wondering what the significance of Freedom Weekend is. James 5:16 says, “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.” Each person who went forward confessed their sins and received prayer from a righteous person. Therefore, the  powerful and effective prayers of that righteous person led to the healing of those people who received prayer. It is now the day by day decision of the person who received prayer and healing to continue to walk in that freedom.

One thing the pastor who spoke last night said was that even after we are delivered from our past, that does not mean we cannot go back to our past. Just as a person who is released from prison must make a moment by moment choice to not go back to those places, people, and habits that caused them to become imprisoned, we, as those who are free in Christ must not go back to those places, people, and habits that caused us to fall into bondage.

For the remainder of this year and beyond, I will continue to relentlessly pursue God, not that I may experience healing, for I am healed, but so that I may remember who I am in Christ and dwell within the healing I received by the blood of the Lamb.

 

I encourage you to run with me.

 

Isaiah 40:31

But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.

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Living out God’s Purpose through Positional Christianity

 

Positional Christianity

Okay, I know I haven’t been blogging as consistently as I should. I started out with a series on how to become a Battle Ready Christian, but since then I have only been blogging about once a month. Life got busier for me, and I just didn’t have time to think of a new topic to write about every week.

So, rather than just blogging once every few weeks, I am going to go on hiatus until the first Monday in January (Jan. 5). Between now and then, I will pray about what the Lord would have me say, write a blog calendar, make this blog look as awesome as I can, and work on some other projects.

Recently, God spoke four words to me, which He said I am to make the focus of this blog. Those four words are prayer, praise, hope, and healing. In that order. So, I am going to blog on one of those every week. The first Monday of the month I will blog on prayer, the second Monday on praise, the third hope, and the fourth healing. On those months that have a fifth Monday, I am not sure what I will do.

Why those words in that order?

Every Christian must go through and remain in these four positions to receive the fullness of Christ. Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me (Lk 9:23).” Being a disciple of Christ means we need to decide daily that we are going to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him.

The Position of Prayer

When we pray, we become intimately acquainted with God. The fullness of this intimacy allows us to move into a position of understanding our authority in Christ. It is from this position of our authority in Christ that we are able to prepare ourselves to fully praise God. That doesn’t mean we can’t praise God until we have an awesome prayer life. It just means the more we pray, the more we will come to know God and want to praise Him.

Though, never think you can go from one position to the other and leave that position behind. You must remain in each position, while you move into the next position, or else you will fall out of your position in Christ. You must get into and remain in these positions daily.

The Position of Praise

My pastor once said, “If you’re not happy, maybe your problem is you’re too focused on yourself.” Go ahead. Try to praise God and keep your eyes on yourself. Prayer moves us into a position of realizing our authority in Christ, from where our natural response is to praise Him for His nature. We can praise in private, but praise is best expressed as a public declaration of our realization of Christ in our lives.

The Position of Hope

When we begin to pray we begin to take our eyes off of ourselves, and we begin to praise Him. The more we begin to praise Him, the more we will begin to hope in Him. Prayer and praise are both conscious decisions to develop an intimate relationship with God by taking our eyes off of ourselves. Hope is also a conscious decision. Though, while the positions of prayer and praise are conscious decisions to develop more intimate relationships with God, the position of hope and healing are positions of enjoying the benefits of developing an intimate relationship with God, which is to receive the fullness of Christ.

When we take our eyes off of ourselves and fix them on God through prayer and praise, we stop wallowing in self-pity and begin to hope in God. This position of hope is the position from which we will begin to realize God’s healing in our lives.

The Position of Healing

Notice I said “realize,” not “experience.” You are healed! You are healed by the blood of the Lamb! By the stripes on Christ’s back! You just need to realize it. Think of it like when you first met your significant other. At first, you hoped they liked you, then you got to know each other, and the more you got to know that person the more you realized they did like you. We begin by hoping God will heal us, but the more we hope the more we realize He has healed us.

Though, God’s healing in our lives will manifest itself at different times physically, financially, or relationally, I am talking about spiritual healing. This is the position from which a person begins to not only understand and live out the fullness of Christ in their lives, but it is also the position from which a person begins to live out their purpose in Christ.

Understanding Positional Christianity

So, it is this last position–the position of purpose–that I will not write about in this blog. God didn’t tell me to include it. I may use that 5th Monday to write about how the first four positions will cause you to move into a position of purpose. Though, the first four positions are positions of preparation, whereas the position of your purpose in Christ is the position of God carrying out His good work in you (Phil 1:6).

Though, know that God only moves those into this position of purpose who are faithful to move into and remain within the first four positions. That doesn’t mean we won’t get knocked out of position on occasion. It means the more and more we learn to get into and remain in a right position with God the less and less we will get knocked out of position and the faster we will get back into position when we are knocked out of position.

The future of #OBHBlog

God is still working on me. I am no further ahead than anyone else. Though, they are becoming more  and more infrequent, there is still the occasional day when I don’t pray. There is still the occasional Sunday when I am not in the mood to praise God. There remain times when I need to remind myself to take my eyes off of my circumstances and set them on the hope that is before me (Heb 12:1-4). And I still sometimes forget I am healed.

Though, those days are becoming less and less, and the more infrequent they become the more God is able to move me into that position of purpose for which He created me. So, as God teaches me how to move me into that position of purpose, I will pass on what I learn. I also welcome you to pass on what you have learned in the comments. Through that collaboration, I hope to create a community in which we can learn and grow together!

Have a very blessed Thanksgiving, joyful Christmas, and happy New Year!

Avoiding Temptation Ahead


Prayer

The other day, while at a stop light, I heard sirens. Second later, I saw an ambulance to my right turn right. Soon after, my light turned green, the barrage of stop lights ahead turned green, and I headed the direction of the ambulance.

Moments later, I noticed several emergency vehicles, including a helicopter, blocking the street. The line of cars, trucks, and other vehicles backed up as police directed traffic.

Rather than waiting in traffic, I turned right into the parking lot of a CVS, grabbed a few items in the store, and asked someone how to navigate the side streets. I left the parking lot, turned the direction I was told, and navigated my way through the side streets and to the other side of the accident.

It probably took me longer to navigate my way through the side streets than it would have to just wait, but I would rather go the long route and feel like I’m making progress than wait and feel stagnant.

Directions through Prayer

Do you take the time to notice times of temptation ahead in your life? Do you go to God in prayer and ask how to navigate your way around temptation? Or do you follow the easy route of our own selfish desires and go through the pains and struggles of temptation? When we see temptation ahead, we don’t have to give into it. God made a way for us to get around temptations.

Matthew 19: 16, 21-22

“Now, behold, one came to him and said, ‘Good teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?'”

“Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be perfect, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven; and come follow me.'”

“But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”

Are you asking God for directions? Are you taking the directions He’s given you, or are you giving into temptation because a deeper relationship with God would mean giving up something you are not ready to give up?

Signals of Temptation Avoiding Temptation through prayer

I was able to bypass the scene because I was aware of it. I saw the flashing red lights of the firetrucks and heard the roaring blades of the helicopter. Had I not paid attention to those signals and made the decision to turn until it was too late, I would have had to have gone through the scene of the accident. Life is sometimes like that. When we are not paying attention to those signals of temptation, we find ourselves giving into temptation.

I Corinthians 10:13

“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

Sirens of Accountability

Remember that ambulance I was following. Well, the driver knew exactly where they were going and why. They knew what was ahead because they had been to similar scenes. They were called out to help the person going through those difficult times. All of the emergency vehicles I saw that afternoon were called out from somewhere to help those people going through those difficult times and to warn innocent bystanders of difficult times ahead.

Those emergency vehicles are like friends, accountability partners, Bible study leaders, pastors, etc. whom God puts in our lives. They’ve been to similar scenes before. They warn us of what is ahead. We need to find strong Christians, like those emergency vehicles, who will speak truth into our lives and help us avoid times of temptation.

Proverbs 27:17

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”

Ecclesiastes 4: 9,10

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!

Side Streets of the Word

Going through the side streets took me a little longer than it should have. I made some wrong turns, but I eventually got to the other side of the accident. God gives us side streets so we can navigate our way around temptation. He knows we do and will go through difficult times in our lives, but that doesn’t mean we need give into the route of temptation.

God’s word provides directions of how to navigate our way around temptations. We read and memorize verses that speak to situations we are going through. Staying in His word helps us navigate our way around those temptations. And the more we stay in His word, the easier it becomes to navigate our way around temptation.

Joshua 1:8

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”

There you go. Pray, stay accountable (fellowship), and commit yourself to studying and memorizing God’s word. I am not saying the detour around temptation will be easy. I am not even saying you will make the right decision and avoid temptation every time. I am saying the more you go to God in prayer, listen to those God puts in your life to warn you of temptation, and stay in His word the easier it will be to avoid the snares of temptation.

Oh yeah, for those concerned about the victims of the accident, I saw a fireman later that afternoon who was on the scene. He said everyone was alright.

Becoming a Battle Ready Christian – Preparing Your Mind for Battle

Battle Ready Action Figures

Battle Ready Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Do you know what a battle ready action figure is? It’s just what it sounds like. It’s an action figure that’s ready to fight battles.

First, let’s get something straight! A doll is not an action figure, and an action figure is not a doll. C’mon parents, how many times has your kid reminded you of this truth!

Dolls vs Action Figures

  • Dolls carry combs and mirrors. Battle ready action figures carry weapons of warfare!
  • Dolls pluck and tweeze their eyebrows. Battle ready action figures shave with a machete!
  • Dolls get mani-pedis at the spa. Battle ready action figures don’t care if they break a nail (or a tooth)!
  • Dolls consider fitness fashionable. Battle ready action figures muscles’ have muscles (and working out is a survival skill!)!
  • Dolls scream when they see bugs. Battle ready action figures raise a battle cry when they attack!

Now chances are in your everyday life, you’re more like a doll than a battle ready action figure. That’s okay, so am I. The closest I’ve ever come to shaving with a machete is shaving with a razor with a dull blade and no shaving cream. The good news is even though you may be a doll in your day to day life, you can be a battle ready Christian.

Are you a battle ready Christian? You’re in the middle of a war zone, so I hope you’re battle ready. If you don’t think you are, know that Christ equipped you with everything you need to become battle ready.

In Ephesians 6:10-18, Paul talks about putting on the full armor of God. He begins with the word, “Finally,” which always sums up an argument or line of reasoning. In this case, you need to go back to the fourth chapter to read the beginning of Paul’s line of reasoning.

Ephesians 4:17-24

17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.

18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.

19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.

20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned

21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.

22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;

23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds;

24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Paul tells his audience not to walk in the futility of their their thinking. They need to identify and overcome the futility of their thinking.

Identifying the Futility of Your Thinking

  • Your understanding is darkened (V. 18)
  • You are alienated from the life of God (V. 18)
  • You are ignorant (V. 18)
  • You have hardened your heart (V. 18)
  • You’ve lost all sensitivity (V. 19)
  • You gave yourself over to all sensuality (V. 19)
  • You indulge every kind of impurity (V. 19)
  • You are full of greed (V. 19)
  • Your old self is being corrupted by deceitful lusts (V. 22)

Overcoming the Futility of Your Thinking

  • Put off your old self (V. 22)
  • Be made new in the attitude of your mind (V. 23)
  • Put on your new self (V. 24)

In Ephesians 6, before Paul talks about the Armor of God, he says, “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Eph. 6:10). He’s telling them that before they put on the full armor of God they need to be battle ready. They needed to put off their old self. They need to be made new in the attitude of their mind. And they need to put on their new self.

Are you battle ready? Have you put off your old self? Are you renewing the attitude of your mind? Are putting on your new self? What’s holding you back? Become battle ready! Before a soldier goes into battle, they are trained to be mentally prepared.

Training to Be a Battle Ready Christian

  • Find and get involved in a good church
  • Get on your knees and pray
  • Study the word of God
  • Memorize scripture

There is so much more I could say on the topic, and I welcome discussion in the comments below. I guarantee you the more you do these things, and make them part of your daily and weekly preparation in Christ, the more battle ready you will become. Come back next week. You won’t want to miss it. I’m going to keep writing about Becoming a Battle Ready Christian.

The Objectification of ‘Pretty’ and Redemptive Nature of Forgiveness

In the movie “12 years a Slave,” people are devalued and treated like objects. Throughout the movie, there are scenes in which these people stand in rooms and their captors touch, poke, and otherwise handle them much like a dress in a store.

12 Years a Slave

12 Years a Slave

In Beyonce’s newest video, “Pretty Hurts,” which is about women preparing for and going through a beauty contest, there is a similar scene. All of the contestants are standing along a wall, and a gentleman is drawing on them, touching them, and making sure they are of good value to their judges. They won’t be bought or sold that day, but they are objectified and valued like merchandise. Just as the slaves in, “12 years a Slave” find their self-worth based on whether or not they are accepted by those that objectify them, the women in this video seem to base their self-worth on whether or not those men that objectify them find value in them.

When I saw the title, “Pretty Hurts,” I thought of ‘pretty’ as describing the ‘hurts’ inflicted upon women. In other words, that the wounds inflicted upon women in our society are somehow ‘pretty.’ Though, I think that just as our male dominated society objectifies women, and many women see ‘pretty’ as a level of acceptance to be obtained, we have objectified the word, ‘pretty.’ We consider something ‘pretty’ if it attains to a certain level of aesthetically pleasing standards. A woman, we have taught them as a society, is not ‘pretty’ unless her objectified, physical appearance is similar or better than that of another object to which she is held up in comparison.

‘Pretty’ is no longer an adjective to describe an object. Rather, ‘pretty’ is the object the subject (women) try to become, and it is the attempt to attain to that object that becomes the barometer by which many women measure their value. In that, as a society, we have moved from objectifying women to objectifying language in the form of the word ‘pretty,’ and women are held in subjugation to trying to become a certain type of object. If we understand the word, ‘pretty’ in the title as an object (a noun), we can understand how the word ‘hurts’ is used as a verb or adjective. Both uses of ‘hurts’ describe a physical or mental wound inflicted by the objectification of ‘pretty.’ The title describes the object inflicting wounds up on the subject.

Just as black men and women were subjected by the word ’slave,’ the attempt of women to become an acceptable object (‘pretty’) wounds them physically, emotionally, and psychologically. And just as, the objectification of ‘pretty’ can hold a woman in subjugation to attaining to a level of acceptance, so also the knowledge of sin holds sinners in subjugation to the full awareness of their sinfulness.

Hebrew 10:1-4

The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.

Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshippers would have been cleansed once for all, and would have no longer felt guilty for their sins.

But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins.

It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

When Christ came, He came to cleanse our consciousness.

He came to free us from the guilt of sin, and all the sacrificial system did was remind people they were slaves to sin. The sacrificial system didn’t pay off the debt of our transgressions against God, rather it just reminded the people of their debt. The high priests knew they would just have to go back to the temple the next year to make another sacrifice. They were, along with all of the people of Israel, under the subjugation of sin. Christ didn’t come to make the final payment; Christ came to make the only payment that counted. God demanded the blood of a perfect lamb, so our conscious could be cleansed from the bondage of sin, but we did not have access to the perfect blood of the lamb until Christ came.

So, how do overcome that bondage of sin?

We must allow Christ to cleanse our conscious from trying to obtain to the object of ‘good.’ Jesus said, “No one is good—except God alone (Mark 10:18b).” Sin caused us to objectify ‘good,’ as if it is something we must obtain. Rom. 3:23 says, “For all sin and fall short of the glory of God.”

Just as some women only feel ‘pretty’ because of the self-value they learn from those around her, we realize ‘good’ is not something to obtain because of a certain amount or types of works we do that we call ‘good.’ Those of us bought by the blood of the lamb are ‘good’ because of Christ’s nature in us, and the realization of that nature is our salvation. Just as a woman should not measure her worth according to whether or not she is able to attain to a socially acceptable level of ‘pretty,’ we should not measure our worth in Christ by trying to obtain ‘good.’

When we take on the nature of Christ, we take on the nature of ‘good.’ ‘Good’ is no longer an acceptable character level we must strive to obtain, rather it is the value of Christ’s nature within us. The sacrificial system of the old testament, and the good works of those today who think the more good works they do the closer they will be to God, is like makeup. It may make someone appear to be something on the outside they are not on the inside, but it does not change who they are on the insude. That doesn’t mean Christian shouldn’t or don’t do good works (Read the book of James), but it means Christians should not allow themselves to become subject to trying to obtain salvation by being and doing ‘good.’

How do you overcome the objectification of trying to be ‘good enough’

1. Realize there is nothing you can do to obtain to the level of ‘good’ that will justify you before God. It is like trying to pay off a sum of money with an infinite number of zeros when you only have access to wood chips by giving your debtor IOU notices (that’s the sacrificial system) that only remind both of you that you can never pay it.

2. Admit to God that you have a debt of sin to Him so large there is nothing you can do to pay it off, and ask Christ to pay it off for you.

3. Realize that your debt is now paid, and you are redeemed by the blood of the lamb.

Too many people only have a surface level understanding of the power we as Christians have, and I want to help more people realize the depth of the power of our salvation in Christ. The main focus of my blogs will be on strengthening the body of Christ, but some will be gospel focused. I love studying God’s word, I love sharing my understanding and knowledge of what I study, and I love dialoguing with others about what I study

I welcome questions, comments, and even criticism. But please no personal attacks, attacks on my beliefs, or attacks on anyone who chooses to comment here. I want this blog to raise awareness of the redemptive power of God we have through Jesus Christ. I hope you will continue to read this blog and join me on my journey ‘On Becoming Human.’