Forged in Fire

And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”

Zechariah 13:9 ESV

One of the most fascinating things to watch is the process of taking raw material in various shapes and sizes, and making them into something completely different, from super-heating the material, to pressing and hammering it into the desired shape, each strike as intentional and precise as the last. Last year, I came across a show on the History Channel called “Forged in Fire”, in which blade smiths encounter three grueling rounds of challenges designed to test every aspect of their abilities. I began watching it purely out of boredom, but was quickly taken in by the pride they take in their work, and the idea of watching these lumps of steel become something they can be proud of.

The process of turning raw materials into something completely different always starts with a vision. The smith knows what he is going to do with the steel; he can see the end product before he picks up a hammer. However, before the metal will budge an inch, it must be superheated to make it malleable under the force of his tools. So, with a forge averaging temperatures between 2,150-2,375 degrees Fahrenheit, the smith puts his creation in the fire until it glows a bright white; this tells him it’s perfect for shaping as he sees fit.

Now, consider the awe-inspiring foresight God had when he made you and me. He has a specific vision for each one of His creations, from the time we were forming in our mothers’ wombs. When the Lord called Jeremiah to be His prophet, he told him, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born, I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5 NIV). He had a vision, a divine plan for him, before he entered into the earth. Such is the craftsmanship of our God, and that same God that declared these words to the prophet Jeremiah is the same today.

God takes great pride in His work. Every action is with divine purpose according to the plan He’s drawn from the very beginning of time. We all enter this world as a beautiful creation, made in the very image of God Himself, our very being consisting of layer upon layer of different “materials” which make us 100% unique. The enemy sees our potential as well, so he seeks to corrupt us to keep us from our purpose. However, when a material contains impurities, the smith doesn’t throw it away, but puts it to the fire so that those impurities are removed, leaving it purified metal.

In the context of life, going through the fire is a struggle, often filled with pain, uncertainty, loss, anger, or any other combination of emotions brought on by trying circumstances or tragedy that question everything we believe. This leads to asking God, “Where are you?”, “How could you allow this to happen?”, or maybe we have no words due to the sheer mental and physical exhaustion we feel trying to bear the weight of our burdens. I tend to go the way of the turtle: slip into my shell and shut everyone else out; that is, until my emotions boil over and I find myself bawling in front of my whole family.

What God has shown me is that I was never alone, that He will stand in the fire with me, and I will not be burned, just as His servants in the Old Testament:

Then King Nebuchadnezzar leapt to his feet in amazement and asked his advisors, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”

They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”

He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”

Daniel 3:24-25 NIV

Are you going through something that’s too much for you to handle? Have you spent years of your life just trying to survive the day-to-day chaos that seems unending? Then you and I have this in common.

The Father doesn’t want the intensity and complexity of life’s struggles to destroy you, but to strengthen your faith and trust in Him to where no enemy can break it. You were never alone in this fight, and will never be alone, because there is another in the fire, and He will keep the flames from overtaking you. God placed a calling on your life before He even handcrafted you. Compared to that, any plan we make is insignificant, and will only bring about our destruction. When we surrender to God’s process, we will be made a brilliant light on the other side, shining with the light of God’s love in a world darkened by sin and corruption.

I pray that we would make a daily decision to submit to God’s perfect plan, and trust Him in all of our trials. I pray that the “fires” in our lives would not tear us down, but temper us as steel in the hands of a master, strengthening our resolve to see the lost come home to God’s salvation.

A Prayer For Fire

Father God,

My heart is swirling with emotions, as a flurry on a cold winter’s night. Your profound love is like the hearth, burning with a passion that gives me safety and warmth, protecting me against winter’s embrace. As I draw closer to the flames, the familiar numbness begins to fade, and I am utterly overcome with your grace.

I can still hear the unforgiving winds outside, ever persistent in its pursuit of my life, or anyone foolish enough to face it alone. I know, O Mighty God, that your fiery presence will go with me, pushing back the cold shadows, lighting my way as my trust falls solely on you. No longer do I fear the evil one; it makes its presence known, howling through the trees with great fury, inciting fear in the hearts of unwary travelers; but you my Lord are my midsummer’s eve in the midst of the icy tempest.

My prayer to you this night, Father, is not for me, but for those still wandering through the cold, either because they lost sight of you somewhere along the way, or they have yet to find their way to you.

This fire you have gifted me Lord was never mine to keep; it was for me to give, to bring your warmth to those you meant for me to reach. So, as my heart dwells on those caught in the gale, I pray you would use my fire to draw them to your shelter. I can see them, God, they rely on their manmade constructs for peace of mind; but it is only a reprieve, a brief escape from the harsh reality that surrounds them, and numbs them to the pain that is meant to expose their need.

I pray that you would show them the folly of their ways, that only your relentless love can satisfy them, that they would never thirst again. Shine bright within me, lover of my soul, that the light I carry would bring the newness of Spring to those caught in the enemy’s deathly grip. Let them not succumb to the offerings of this world one more day; rather that they would recognize that it is all vanity, a chasing after the wind.

I trust you to complete the work that you began, Lord, in my life and all those you have called. Let your bride go as one body, and scatter the darkness to the corners of the earth, so that nothing can hide in the dead of night. Let the sun fall upon their skin, and your unfathomable love reform them after your heart and mind.

In your perfect name I pray, amen.

Stepping Up to My Pulpit

I’ve never fancied myself a public speaker. Singing on stage with a choir is one thing, but when it comes to speaking in general, I have a propensity for putting my foot in my mouth, so my nerves get the best of me. I grew up a very quiet person, only saying something if I was approached first, only giving brief answers, sharing basic pleasantries, secretly hoping the interaction will end quickly…you get the picture. After texting became a cultural norm, I quickly learned that it was easier to express what I’m trying to say if I typed it out, because it gave me a chance to revise my statement as many times as I wished until I was satisfied.

This realization sparked an idea to start writing my thoughts out, whatever they may be. I would bring a notepad to work (if it was allowed) and just scribble down whatever ran through my brain, never really knowing what I would do with it, usually just throwing them away. After doing this for a period of time, I realized that it gave me a sense of satisfaction putting my deepest emotions to the pen. I didn’t realize at the time that I had tapped into an integral part of God’s plan for my life.

It’s funny looking back how something as simple as preferring to text over talk would plant a seed that would grow into a desire to cultivate my writing skill to be used by God through me. He placed this gift inside me from the very beginning, because this is my “pulpit” from which I am to declare the faithfulness of God in my life. I greatly admire preachers and how the Lord anoints them to be able to speak in front of many and declare the truths of His Word, but this doesn’t mean I envy their calling. On the contrary, I am blessed to be uniquely chosen by God for the calling He has placed on my life.

Each one of us is meticulously crafted by the Almighty to take the gospel to every corner of the earth. Satan knows this, so naturally he wants you to think you’re not deserving or capable of serving such a high calling. I spent decades of my life letting him attack my sense of self-worth, and I honestly believed there was nothing special about me. Ironically, these were similar to the thoughts I would scribble in my notepads at work.

God never stopped working on me, His plan for my life never changed, He never abandoned hope that I would return to His loving arms. I gave up on myself, and on Him for many years. While I was writing about how hopeless and lost I felt, He was planting seeds that would come into bloom in His perfect timing. Now that I have fully surrendered myself to His will, God has planted a desire within me to be a burning light for Him, to take up my pulpit and speak of His faithfulness in my life.

Maybe you’re like me and you counted yourself out long ago. Perhaps you think too much time has been wasted or that there’s nothing special about you, like I have. It’s hard to imagine yourself being free when you’re in the middle of a raging storm, barely keeping your head above water. So how are you supposed to hang on to hope when everything seems hopeless? How do I find God in the middle of what I’m going through?

I loved singing along to Casting Crowns’ “Praise You In This Storm”, but never gave much thought to the message of the song. When I talked to God, it was always to vent about how low I felt and how I desperately needed Him. I wanted to talk about the storm, because that’s all I was focused on; but when I approached God just to thank Him instead, to put to practice what I had belted out in my car so many times, He inhabited my praise, and His love consumed the darkness in my heart in an instant.

There’s freedom in surrender. When you hit a new low in your life and choose to speak life into your situation instead of anger and pain, He honors that. You don’t have to search for Him in the middle of the storm, because he never left you. His love is sufficient; I am living proof of just how powerful that love is when you let Him invade your space. It drives me forward, pushes me to be a better person, a better man, a better son, a better brother. Now, it pushes me to my “pulpit”, to share what He has imparted to me these last few weeks, to those who have ears to hear.

God will meet you wherever you’re at. He has weaved unique gifts into your identity, to reach the lost and dying that only you can reach. I pray that He would meet you in your dark place, and cultivate the seeds He planted in the very beginning. I pray His love would consume the shadows in your heart, and push you to become everything He’s called you to be. I pray that God will inhabit your praise, and invade your space, until the only thing that matters is Him. Lastly, I pray that He will help you find your voice, your own pulpit, to proclaim His faithfulness to a desperate world.

Letting Go of Myself

A thought is a powerful thing. Every moment of every day we process untold amounts of thoughts, for better or worse. Any single thought can turn a whole day around, or ruin it. It can ignite inspiration, or strike fear and doubt. Through our thoughts, we take action, we contemplate everything from our daily agendas to life’s greatest mysteries. It is both a powerful tool as well as our most profound weakness.

As I walk into this new season of my life, reignited by the Spirit of God and His outpouring of Love, the vast majority of my thoughts are about Him, but the mind is never without its imperfections. My focus now rests on “dying to self” daily (1 Corinthians 15:31) and consecrating my thoughts to only that which pleases God. Every morning is spent with God for just such a reason, and every night I send up my gratitude and praise. Remaining in prayerful vigilance is a vital part of our success against the attacks of the enemy; after all, our strength comes from the Lord, not ourselves.

The last thing I want is to appear like I suddenly have everything figured out in a span of two or three weeks. On the contrary, my eyes are only just beginning to open for the first time, and what was completely out of focus is finally starting to take shape. That doesn’t mean the whole picture has become clear, and that’s okay. That’s what trusting in Him is all about; I don’t have all the answers, but I belong to a God that is completely in control of everything, and He will reveal all in His perfect time.

The first thing He went to work on was helping me to let go of the indulgences that fueled my selfish intent. For so many years of my life I would claim with my words that I was willing to give up everything for the cause of Christ, only to secretly resent the notion of letting go of my comfortable life with all my comfortable things and my comfortable dead-end job. I spent my whole life doing what served my self-interest, so why would I want to give that up for something I don’t even understand?

If I could sum up the last 30+ years of my life in one word, it would be “lackadaisical”. Yes I Googled it, don’t judge me.

However, after my encounter with Christ, I’ve realized that everything I was clinging to was futile, pointless, and had no lasting value. In glancing at Solomon’s writing in the book of Ecclesiastes, he makes it clear that everything that is done without God’s guidance is vanity, a chasing after the wind (Ecclesiastes 1:2 AMP). Being in the Lord’s presence, feeling his vast love for me, desiring to see His promises fulfilled in my life, are the only things that actually matter. Once I began to accept this, it became easier to let go of myself, because my selfish desires lead only to death, while His desires for me will lead to a life beyond what I can even imagine.

The process of “letting go of myself” is a daily process, for as long as we abide in this earthly realm, we carry our fleshly nature with us. I can already tell that if it weren’t for my daily meetings with God, I would have slipped back into habits that held me captive for so long, because the temptations persisted and still do. On the other hand, these past few weeks have seen some good habits formed, priorities shifting, feeling like it’s ok to be happy instead of wallowing in misery, and being more sensitive to His voice when He speaks to my heart. It’s funny how all these things I was having an impossible time trying to change on my own, suddenly just happen when I give myself over to God.

That’s the part about living Christ-like that many can and will miss; in order to live, you must first die; in order to gain, you must first lose; in order to lead, you must first serve.

The great deceiver waged war on God’s people long ago, and the battleground is set in our hearts and minds. By denying our flesh, we deny the enemy any chance of a foothold in our hearts. By consecrating our thoughts to only that which pleases God, we refuse to listen to Satan’s whispering and thus breaking his influence in our thought processes. When we humble ourselves before God, we open ourselves to His unending grace and favor in our lives.

Our thoughts are a double-edged sword; they can just as easily work against us as they can work for us. So tomorrow when I wake up, I’ll sit up in my bed, take my daily prescriptions, read my Bible app, and then I will deny myself and glorify God in everything I say, do, and think. When I do mess up, I won’t dwell on my mistakes as I used to, but ask forgiveness and then turn my thoughts back toward fulfilling God’s will for my life.

A thought is indeed a powerful thing, but the affection of my Heavenly Father is immeasurably stronger, His thoughts unquestionably higher than my thoughts, and His ways are surely higher than my ways. In these truths I can find peace, protection, and purpose.

When God Came To My Rescue

When I think back to all my previous entries I’ve made and the state of mind I was in, the dark place I was stuck in, it’s no surprise that they all talked about my pain, anxiety, depression, and so forth. It seemed to me that I would be in that state of being forever, a wasted existence. This new year started out much the same, so in my mind I thought 2021 would be yet another year of unfulfilled potential.

It would turn out, however, God had other plans with me.

One night about two weeks ago or so, I was sitting on my bed, around 4 in the morning, and my mind was heavy with the burdens I was carrying. With so many questions unanswered and critical choices to be made, and yet not possessing the willpower to do any of it, I found myself at a difficult crossroads. I wanted to pray, but knew not the words I should speak, nor was I sure they would do any good anyways.

In spite of this, I began crying out to God for some sort of answer, as I knew I could not go on without Him in my life. As the words escaped my lips, I began to feel something I hadn’t felt before, or at least not to this extent. In this moment, my words of lament turned into words of praise and thankfulness, and suddenly I was enveloped by His presence there in the privacy of my room.

It was altogether inexplicable, like with a single mighty breath God blew away all that troubled me, and the heaviness of my burdens was replaced with the reality of His indescribable love. It was a new type of feeling for me to say the least, and I stayed there in that moment, in awe of Him.

Before I knew it, my phone now read 5 am, and I reluctantly decided to stop and get some rest. Now, I’ve had what you would call “mountain top” experiences before, like when I went to church camp, had an amazing experience, then came back home and went right back to my usual patterns. This was my life cycle, one high followed by many lows. Only this time was different because it has remained with me ever since that night, and even more so as time progresses.

Now, each morning and night I not only pray, but praise, and my thoughts are only of pleasing God, and walked in faith rather than how bad things may look around me.

If you would have told me a month ago that all this would happen I’d have scoffed at the notion. It’s good to have a Father who never gave up on me even when I gave up on myself, and Him. Now, I can look forward to the future instead of dreading it. I know this will frustrate the enemy as he knew that if I fully realized my God-given potential, that I would be a threat to him. I know that my experiences will be a testimony to someone who may be feeling the same way I did until now, which is why I thought it was important to share this with all of you.

So now, instead of talks of shadows, chains, storms, I believe the future will hold greater things for me, even though it won’t all be perfect, as I am far from perfect. God knew all along that I would slip and fall, and yet He has chosen me for a time such as this.

Here’s to finally “stepping into the light.”

The Simplicity of Walking by Faith

Despite the pain of my past, despite my lack of motivation to do even the smallest task, despite the intense level of self hatred and doubt I have, God remains. In spite of how far I’ve run, when I turn around, He’s still there. There is nowhere anyone can go to escape from His love, the kind of love no human can ever fully comprehend. That’s one of the most unbelievable parts about God-that He can just love and forgive no matter how messed up I think I am, regardless of how many times it takes me to get it right, His long arm is outstretched, waiting to take ahold of me and lift me up.

He wants to resurrect me-the real me-and cleanse me of the stench of corrupt spirits that siphon away my very will to continue living. Even so, the amount of doubt I have as to whether I can take the necessary action and actually commit to it has proven to be perhaps my greatest chain. I have attempted to take steps many times, only to realize my chains limit how far I can go.

I find it so hard to express these thoughts, except when I sit and wait-fingers resting on the keys-until something happens. I dive into my deepest, darkest thoughts and emotions, and just type without giving myself a chance to think twice, because it’s then that my doubts prevent my action. I hesitate, and in that brief moment, the enemy has everything he needs to put a wedge between me and my purpose.

If I’m going to surpass my limits, it has to start with doing what I can do in this moment. I get so overwhelmed when I look at the big picture, pondering it’s magnitude and how even one misstep will cause me to slip back to the bottom. I’ve slipped so many times that I’ve begun assuming how it will end and decide to remain dormant, motionless, collecting dust like I’ve put my life on a shelf and walked away.

For so long I have sat and waited for some great revelation from God on what to do, or for Him to give me the strength to succeed. It felt as if no answer was coming, when the reality is I either wasn’t listening when He spoke, or just couldn’t see past my insecurities and dismissed it as impossible. The truth is, the answer is so simple, but I had myself convinced only divine intervention could rescue me.

The simple truth is as the Bible says, “faith without works is dead.” (James 2:14-22) I can pray, listen to podcasts, read my Bible app, etc., but unless I can learn to walk by that faith and not by sight, then the only thing I’ll see is the profoundly huge mountain in front of me. I’ve become obsessed by this obstacle, when faith tells me Christ gives me strength to do all things through Him. Walking by faith works against what my mortal senses tell me, and yes even what common sense will tell me. Our human nature works against us daily and without fail, but when we resolve to operate by what God has promised, that carnal aspect no longer has power.

So now, as 2020 fades into the reflection of our rear-view mirror, I pray that I would not squander the opportunity God has given me to train my “spiritual eyes” to guide my way and not my limited earthly vision. I pray that I find victory in the small, daily goals, knowing that sometimes a miracle is not instantaneous, but a gradual process. Help me God to trust your process, and to remember your promises to me, always.

A Letter To My Fear

Dear anxiety,

I’ve known you my entire life, yet I have never taken time to address you directly, which is  a regrettable action on my part. You have put in so many decades of effort into your craft, and I need to say a few things about it, because my life has reached a crossroads, and I can ill afford to have this great burden lead me down the wrong path again.

I can remember a time when were not yet acquainted, when I was very young. The reality of adulthood being so far away from my mind, I was free to be my true self. I think about my adolescent years quite often with fondness and yearning. I long to revisit those simpler times, but then again, many of us share the same sentiments.

If I could recall our earliest meeting, I would have to say my teenage years. My struggles with weight started early on, and I never took it seriously. I struggled in school, struggled to socialize with friends, and struggled with a general uncertainty about my life and my self-worth. It was the little things that made knots in my stomach, like doctors/dentists, saying something stupid in front of my friends, or even just making conversation. Of course, these are not uncommon, however they merely laid the foundation for what was to come in later years.

Many times I thought I had rid myself of your influence, especially during church camp. Being there gave me an opportunity to separate myself from everything you tried using against me, and it allowed me to clear my mind for the first time. I would leave there feeling like a new person, a better, more confident version of myself. I’ll say one thing though, you’re nothing if not persistent. You laid in waiting, ready to pounce on my fragile psyche at the first opportunity.

Fast forward to present day, at nearly 600 pounds, struggling to keep a job, my very life hanging in the balance, with depression weighing down my heart, mind, and spirit, and you, my anxiety, still remain. Some days it feels like you’re sitting on my chest, mocking my feeble attempts to pray you away. You hid my joy away and locked it behind closed doors. Sometimes, I can sense it nearby, like I’m pressing against the doors to get closer to its warmth, but I’m always reminded of your icy presence lurking in the shadows.

Despite all this, I still trust that God’s fully in control and will never leave me, despite how distanced I feel from Him. I know He has never stopped loving me, and that love is something I can lean on for comfort in times of desperation. His presence stills my stormy waters and saves me from drowning in my fears. So to my anxiety, you have been put on notice. Your eviction is coming, and you won’t have my weight, health risks, or my uncertain future to use against me anymore. My life belongs to my Lord, my Savior, My God, who guards my heart, and gives me peace and joy.

Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

No longer yours,

James

Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Psalm 42:5

Trust the Way Maker

How many times do we get any given song stuck in our heads? Sometimes it’s the latest hit that we immediately add to our playlists, or more likely it’ll be the theme song to some preschool cartoon that you’re obligated to watch with your children. Music moves all of us in different ways, whether it’s in concert, vinyl collections, or a masterful composition for your favorite movie. It speaks to us on levels that people oftentimes cannot in mere spoken word.

Every so often, I’ll hear a certain song that resonates with me on such a level that I’ll hear it in my head, over and over. For me in this season, that song is Way Maker by Leeland.

From the very first three words, “You are here,” I think about how many times I’ve thought I had run so far from God that He wasn’t anywhere near me, that He couldn’t hear my cries for help. To think that even after all the years I’ve wasted serving only my selfish desires that God was always here, still loving me, still desiring for me to come back to Him and fulfill all that He has planned is sometimes hard to believe.

Then, as I’m belting out the chorus (alone in my car, of course), I’m dwelling on the words “promise keeper”. Now, throughout my adult life, I’ve made innumerable amounts of promises that I would lose the weight, go back to school, etc, and never fulfilled any of them. In fact, I would go as far as to say many of the positive changes to my life were made possible because of the constant loving determination of my family to see me succeed. Having all this weighing down on my heart for so long, I began to began to place limiting factors on God’s promises. I felt that by now I had squandered too much time and now I must live a life of mediocrity, just getting by like I always have. In this season, God wanted me to know He never gave up on me, and that His word never returns to Him void, so if He spoke it over my life through someone else or said it in the Bible, He is always working, and will make a way to bring His promises to pass.

The bridge of this song really brings it all home for me, saying, “Even when I don’t see it you’re working/Even when I don’t feel it you’re working/You never stop, you never stop working/You never stop, you never stop working.” I remember times when I was only in church physically, but my mind was always somewhere else. I was so focused on everything that was going on around me, all of struggles I was dealing with, that was all I could see. I no longer trusted that God was working in my life, or that He would ever rescue me from where I was.

When I was thinking about all this a moment ago, God showed me something that I just had to put into writing. I think it’s safe to say we’ve all heard the story of Peter walking on the water more times than we could ever count, but when you really stop and think about it, you begin to wonder about certain things. For me, I couldn’t help but think about that moment Peter looked away from Jesus, toward the raging storm around him, and he began to drown. I think about what went through his head in that split moment, when the storm tried to claim his life. We know he was afraid, because after taking his eyes off the one who helped him rise above the raging waters, his fear allowed his circumstances to overwhelm him. I really related to that idea of letting circumstances and fear control every aspect of my life, and completely lose sight of the way maker, miracle worker, promise keeper, and the light in the darkness.

After Peter cried out for the Lord to save him, and Jesus immediately pulling him back up, he says to Peter, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31 NIV). That doubt and fear Peter almost succumbed to are my two biggest obstacles in my personal life. That’s why Leeland’s song is such an important message for me; when I truly start to trust that God never stops working even when I don’t see it or feel it, I get the motivation to go after His promises, and see them fulfilled in my life. I’ve felt the Lord reach into my storm and say to me, “why did you doubt me?”

I am learning more about the fierceness of God’s love and just how relentless he can be (I could probably write a whole other blog about You Won’t Relent by Misty Edwards) and I’m working daily to remove myself from the situation and let God be the Lord of my life. I know I have a long road yet to travel, but I know He will always be here with me, that He never stops working on me, and that I can always trust in Him to lead me through all the storms in my life.

The Candle in the Dark

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and praying, about what God’s message is in this chaotic season we’re in, especially given the events as of late. I thought back to December 24, 2019, when we did our annual Candlelight service. After a time of music and worship, Pastor Chuck asks for all the lights to be turned off, leaving nothing but darkness.

Then, after a brief message about how the world is living in darkness, and that without our light they would surely perish, he lights his candle. A lone light pierces through the shadows, drawing the gazes of everyone within the darkened room. Then, one by one, the other candles are lit, until the room glows with a chorus of flickering lights. As we join our voices together in song and praise, with the candlelight dancing across the multitude of faces, we celebrate in one accord the hope we have because of the grace that has been freely given to all who believe in Jesus Christ. Finally, with a quick gust of wind the flames are snuffed out, and the world is once again consumed in an everlasting darkness.

The question that’s on my mind today is, have we allowed this to become nothing more than an annual tradition before the arrival of Christmas Day? Has the message behind it eluded us, or perhaps we’ve become overwhelmed by the tumultuous state of the world we live in?

People are hurting in our nation. Innocent lives are being stolen from their families and friends, all because of personal prejudice. Cities are burning. Medical professionals are still on the frontlines of this pandemic, and we as a nation are more divided than ever. The devil looks to incite chaos, fear and hate. There is a great shadow being cast across this country, and everyone is struggling to find an answer.

After considering everything that’s happening and what’s been laying on my heart, this is my message: no matter how dark the world looks, God’s light will only shine brighter. He’s not limited by the shadows, but rather will use His body of believers as a beacon to bring the lost and the hurting to Him. If we can shine our light before men, instead of hiding in our silence, then God will draw all people unto Himself. We need to focus on who the real enemy is, and fight for the hearts and souls of the lost.

God is getting ready to pour out His Spirit upon all flesh, and it’s up to us to be the ready and willing vessel we have been called to be when this happens. I’ve felt Him working in me these past few weeks regarding my personal issues with anxiety, depression, and my weight. I struggle daily to remain focused, and not allow those thoughts to distract me from my goals (because all it takes is a thought to take you off the path to God’s calling). I’ve lifted these issues up to the Father, because I want to be able to reach the people I am appointed to reach in my lifetime.

My prayer for not only myself but all of us as children of God, is that we would offer our lives in total surrender to Him, and that we will be a city on a hill that cannot be hidden, and bring the reality of God’s fierce love to those who are hurting or feeling hopeless and living in fear. I pray that we lead by the example given to us by Jesus, and serve our community with humility and grace. May we never allow the enemy to cause us to lose our hope in Christ, and may we always remember that His promises are forever, and His word never returns to Him void.

May we forever be the candle in the dark.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works, and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Matthew 5:14-16 ESV