Spiritual Victory: Abide

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.”

John 15:4

I’ve been feeling angry recently. Not at a person or a certain event, just a general anger that has been bubbling underneath the surface. I’ve been frustrated with my plan, and that’s the root of it, my plan. It might be easy to miss what I mean, but it’s the truth. I sometimes fall back onto my plan, what I think is best for the current state of my life and my life moving forward. Things aren’t unfolding the way I would want it to, and that’s frustrating, but I need to redirect my focus. I’ve been focusing on the things that have or have not yet happened to me, and how that doesn’t fit in with the way I wanted my story to play out. The truth is, there is a mad titan messing with my head, telling me it’s all about me, I need to know the battle plan of the enemy, and I need to remember that there is a God bigger than my faults who knows my name. What I just referenced was what I have been writing on for the past month. I’ve been writing it because I believed it’s what you, dear reader, needed to hear. What I have come to realize is that it wasn’t simply just for you, but for me as well.

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Spiritual Victory: Know My Name and All of My Hideous Mistakes

The title of this blog comes from a song by one of my favorite artists, Julien Baker. My close friend Daniel turned me onto her music, and it came just at the right time of my life. You see, this past year has been a season of unknowns. Lots of questions and self-doubt keep creeping in, causing me to grow more and more anxious. I ask myself, where do I fit in this world? What’s my place? What’s my purpose? I have these questions swirl because one moment, I feel like God is calling me to a certain area, and the next it feels like I can’t win. It’s hard being a graduate, everyone wants young fresh ideas, but want someone with years of experience under their belt. Not to mention the stereotypes that are perpetrated about millennials, things like we don’t work hard (except for the fact that many of us have two or three part time jobs to survive…*sips tea*). It’s easy to then translate these unwinnable odds as marks against myself, that I’m not good enough, but the truth is; we are called and we are gifted.

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Spiritual Victory: Knowing Is Half the Battle

I love old 80’s and 90’s cartoons. I love the over-the-top action, the color (oh man that color pallet!), and the laser guns. Like for real, every bad guy was armed with a laser gun (Fun fact from Joshua’s film knowledge, it was a law that you could not have real guns on children TV shows. Oh, how far we’ve gone). The best part of these cartoons were the public service announcements. G.I. Joe, Transformers, and X-men would all warn children of the dangers of not wearing seatbelts or talking with strangers; always ending with the phrase, “knowing is half the battle.” I love these commercials, not only because it’s good to not go anywhere near that spooky stranger, but it tells us a lot about how we should prepare in a spiritual battle we face. I’ve been talking each week this month about having spiritual victory, which means, knowing our enemy is half the battle. Satan is the king of lies, which we talked about last week, and often in our lives when we are caught off our guard, we can take challenges and lies as being things of God. We ask God why you would do this, the truth is, he didn’t. God created our world to be perfect and everything in it to be good, but we rebelled because off the trickery from Satan.

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Spiritual Victory: It’s Not About Me.

May is Mental Health Month. This is something near and dear to my heart, both as I have suffered from anxiety and depression, as well as countless people in my life that have dealt with similar mental health struggles. It’s important to shine a light on mental health, because for far too long people have been scared to open up and get the help that they need. I think as Christ followers, we need to realize that often mental health is tied into spiritual health. I’m not saying that if you struggle with mental health issues that your spiritual walk with Christ is lacking, I would be foolish to insinuate that. For the most part though, I do believe that mental health can be used against us as we try to grow closer in our walks with Christ. We often feel the most pressure and mental attack when we are on the path God has set out for us. As we walk in the giftedness that God has equipped us with and fight towards reaching the world, that same mad titan that we talked about last week (check it out here), begins to switch up his tactic. If he can’t bring us down by a storm, he’ll try his best with a whisper. “You’re not good enough.” “That test defines who you are.” “What they say about you is true.” The father of lies (John 8:44), these thoughts, they can so easily take root and begin to choke out all life, but they have no power over our great God. These thoughts that are whispered in our minds can disrupt our progress, and the truth is, we need to realize that it’s not about us.

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Spiritual Victory: Defeating the Mad Titan

At the time of writing this, Avengers: Infinity War, is only a few days away. I’ve been waiting years for this. Literal years. I love comics, and when Iron-Man first came out, my dad and I stayed after the credits and saw a glimpse of Nick Fury talking to Tony Stark about a little team he was putting together. Then, years after that, Marvel’s Avengers premiered, with another scene after the credits showing a smiley purple guy. I left the theater stunned, Thanos was coming. Being a comic kid, I knew the mad titan, a really bad dude who leaves a wake of destruction in his path. A big purple alien from the moon of titan, bent on taking over the galaxy and harnessing the power within it. Then he gets even more power with infinity gems, and all hope seems lost. The avengers have to band together to stop an unstoppable force. I can’t wait to see this in film form, but this mad titan reminds me of some of the same struggles we face in our own lives. Do you ever feel like whenever you are moving forward, something always seems to go wrong? Something begins to tempt you, a person in your life says words that hurt your soul, you fight those thoughts of self-doubt and loathing in your mind; it can seem almost impossible to survive. These are cases of what we call “spiritual attack.” This can be worse than a physical attack, often crippling us, but the fact is, when we remember our savior we find new hope. The mad titan is nothing compared to the love of God.

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Warrior

“When you go to war against your enemies, you might see that they have horses and chariots. They might even have an army stronger than yours. But don’t be afraid of them. The Lord your God will be with you. After all, he brought you up out of Egypt.”

Deuteronomy 20:1

Life can seem overwhelming most of the time. Stress increases the pressure in our schedule, the battles we face each day with addictions and past sin can haunt us, our struggles with our mental health can overwhelm our thoughts, and the doubts that come from our thoughts and words spoken over us create an unrelenting fight. This is the strategy of Satan, to get into our heads, into our minds and make us see a losing battle. Each day we are fighting in a war, one that in our own power, we are hopeless in winning. Our human nature is fallen and our enemy is very real, he wants to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). This lack of hope causes us to become overrun in the trenches, we lie in wait, hoping we can get the upper hand. The truth is, when we step into the truth that our savior is stronger than all things and he saved each of us, only then can we live in victory.

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Worthy to Defend

This past month of this New Year has been so incredible. My church just went through a season of praying and fasting, it was filled with so much encouragement of what this year will bring, and it will bring forth great things. God is moving through his people, his children made in his image, us. You and I are going to be used immensely this year, but it won’t be easy. This past month has been very impactful for me spiritually, but our world has been through much hurt and pain. In the United States (Where I live), we have seen women stand up and say that enough is enough, we are more than a body to be looked at and we are people with much to contribute. We have seen anger and hatred split people down the middle because of the past election. We have seen the way that fear of another people can cause others to hold deep hatred. We have a battle in front of us. My world is being torn apart by sin and evil; but there is always hope. If there is one thing God has taught me over and over again it’s that hope in him will not fail. When our hope is in Christ, we march together to say that enough is enough, we can have rational discourse with opposing views to come to an agreement, and we can show love to those who are not like us by living out the gospel. We have a purpose and God has placed it on each of our hearts.

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Sacred Over Scared

This week I begin my last full semester at UNCG. It’s a pretty exciting feeling, but at the same time, plenty of unknowns that go along with that. The things that are unknown in our lives can cause us to fear a great deal of things. Will I be able to support myself? Is this the right move? What happens if I got it wrong? These questions make us afraid, they scare us because the unknown is a scary thing. You see, life is full of these scary unknown situations. We have questions about each of our futures and the purpose we have in life, while at the same time, events come up in our lives over and over that cause us to question our God. We see people close to us pass away, we see the pains of addiction, we feel the sting of the hand that was laid on us, and we remember the words of death spoken over us. You see while those things may not have happened to you, but we are all affected in some way by those in our lives. We feel the pain and question why these happen to us; we begin to lose hope. But there is hope. There is always hope. I look back at my own life and I have watched friends lose their battle with depression, and I will never get a chance to see them again. When my friend passed away two years ago, I had no idea why or how God could let that happen to my friend who helped me gain confidence in myself and helped me be who I was in Christ. I began to lose hope, but God gave me new hope. You see in that moment I made a choice. I chose to follow and trust, even when I had every right in my mind to be angry, I chose to be sacred over scared.

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Fear Not

I figured we would start this post off very simply. I am very afraid, but that’s okay. I’ll rewind a sec; I’m a pretty simple guy who loves to write and help people discover their God given purpose in life. But my fears are real. I will be finishing up school soon, which means I have to start figuring the core of life out. That whole job thing is kinda important to provide for myself and a family one day. I want to write books and be in next generation ministry, and that excites me, but it can feel like an army that I have to overtake to get there. It’s easy for me to get anxiety over things, the little things like being on time or registering for classes, and it messes with me. I try to do the right things and take the right steps, but it can feel like I’m doing all the wrong things and making it harder for myself. I think we all have struggles like this. Fear is something that can so quickly enter our lives and make us want to hide away for a while. I want to hide away. Thankfully, God has so much grace for me, he is able to pull me out of the moments where I just want to quit and says that he has more for me. He says this about all of us, and he tells us to fear not.

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Guard Your Heart

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

Proverbs 4:23

Everything we do; our actions, our words, our attitudes towards others all flow out of our heart. This month I’ve been going through b-movie tropes to help teach life lessons that I have learned from God’s word. Today I want to continue but with no direct example, because there is a trap that we all fall into and it is a serious one. In movies we see people make dumb choices, they go into the graveyard/basement/abandoned circus and get themselves into big trouble. In movies we yell at the screen and laugh as a poorly acted character gets into the trap that we all saw coming. The truth is, we are often that character. We walk into obvious traps and lies from our enemy, and it costs us a great deal. Maybe you went into a relationship that everyone said was a bad idea, or maybe those friends you have that don’t really change the way you act (riiiight), or maybe it was the under-the-table dealings in your job that no one would find out about. We walk right into these traps, and they stare us right in the face. We can easily blame God for not warning us, but the real issue is us. When we don’t have our hearts set on what really matters, we will fall into the traps of the enemy.

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