Can we talk, I mean really talk

Most days it is a challenge to just put one foot in front of the other. Most days I wake up well before I want to. Most days I grow fatigued as the day goes on. I have Psoriatic Arthritis, I am not alone The National Psoriatic Foundation reports that 1 million people in the United States or 30% have this type of arthritis. I would like to give some tips and pointers how to navigate day to day dealing with constant pain.

As pain interrupts my sleep and some days it is a battle to get out of bed, the real battle is in my head. This is an understanding I have come to both learn and embrace. I have to mentally be ready to endure a moment or two of sever pain to sit up in order to stand up.

I know that God has a plan for me and I have really come to the full awareness that each day truly is a gift and should never be taken lightly or for granted. That helps me and gives me good reason to get up and get moving.

Psoriatic Arthritis attacks the joints in the body. I have it in both shoulders, both wrists, all of my knuckles, both hips, both ankles and I am now starting to feel the same tightness and fatigue in both of my knees, which is what I felt in the other areas as the arthritis began  to move in.

This is not a pity party, please do not read it as such!! I want to be transparent in this journey that I have been chosen to partake in. I have never been closer to Jesus that I am right now. I have come to a better awareness of His grace for me. Perhaps, that is what I am to take away from this season.

Back to the battle in my head. Psoriatic Arthritis destroys joints, there is no way around that. But if my focus was there, I would be melancholy and that is not where God wants me to be.

TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA – 2019/02/21: Holy Bible text in the cover of the religious book. (Photo by Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images)

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10

If you are reading this and are going through something, perhaps worse than I am, God bless you. I will not let my joy be stolen neither should you. Keep pushing, while leaning into God.

The heart of a warrior

A warrior can be pretty much whatever we make it to be. A football player, cancer patient, the head of IT, the list goes on and on. Warrior is defined as such “a person who fights in battles and is known for having courage and skill.” A warrior is not typically what comes to mind when thinking about God. Perhaps you should change your perspective and begin to see God as a warrior.

“The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is his name.” Exodus 15:3, in this short yet powerful description God is called a warrior by Moses. It is the only place in the bible God is directly called a warrior. So is there truth to how Moses addresses God in this passage?

Bible and a Sword on a Dark Wooden Table

Many Christian’s understand God is righteous and just. That He loves and extends grace and mercy. But a warrior invokes a different view of The Almighty all together. But, God is indeed a warrior.

“The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” Exodus 14:14, for those in Christ we are allowed the freedom to walk through this life with the backing and security that God himself will intervene for us.

You say you do not fully buy into that concept. Alright try this on for size. “The Lord your God who goes before you will himself fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your eyes,” Deuteronomy 1:30.

What is the point in all this you ask? Fair enough, my point is that far too many Christ followers are trying to fight a battle they have no business attempting to fight. Not sure who I just offended but I am sure I offended someone out there.

It is true. Ephesians 6: 10-18 blesses us with the Armor of God. That is to be put on daily. After it is put on there is one little request, stand firm. It does not get much more clear than that. Stand firm. Do not move. Stand firm.

Fanum Fortunae-Caesars’ Fano. Hypothetical reenactment of Greek, Gaul and Roman civil and military life between the 4th and the 1st Century BC. Fighting legionnaire from the Republican period. Fano (PU) 13th-14th July 2019 (Photo by Camillo Balossini/Archivio Camillo Balossini/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)

God knew we would all need this reminder. It is our instinct when a conflict comes about to fight back. Do not do it! Stand firm. The battle belongs to the Lord. He has made things easy for us. Put armor on for protection as he fights for us.

Take heart in the fierceness of the Almighty warrior today. Give him your battle.

“The devil made me do it” may be the worst excuse a person can use

You are better than this! No, really we all make mistakes and do things that can lead us to a place we regret later on. For a person to utter the age old phrase “the devil made me do it,” is  not entirely true simply put. Why? because at the end of the day there is free will and free choice. So instead of placing blame on someone else that can make the situation even worse while making ourselves appear shallow. Let’s look at a better approach.

“The thief (devil) comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10 .  I admit that the devil is many things, but know that he needs to have permission to attack according to the Book of Job.

The key word is attack. The devil can attack a persons thoughts. However, a  person still has a choice to make. Give into a thought, urge or action or that person can say no while taking that thought captive.

Yet when people do something wrong they act as though they had little choice and that the devil actually controlled their brains, arms and legs. That is not true and would constitute as a lie.

People need to get back to accepting blame for their own issues. Sure the devil may be able to initiate a thought like he did way back in the Garden of Eden when he asked Eve “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Genesis 3:1

There is zero proof the devil can actually take over total control of a body. That is where free will and free choice come into play. The devil gives the thought that does not mean darkness has to win.

Scripture from St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians about putting on the armor of God.

What it means is that as a Christ follower we need to daily put on the Armor of God and take a stand. When we do we take full control of our thoughts, heart, path and can steer clear of making regrettable decisions.

The devil can only win if a person lets him. Press back and take a stand.

Why do Christian’s struggle against spiritual attacks?

The way to defeat darkness has been given. Jesus gave the template on how His followers should confront dark days or spiritual attacks, yet many Christian’s fail to apply what the bible offers. Anyone who has walked this earth for any length of time know that bad days come. That is because the devil is an outlaw. Yet, there is hope.

Reading Holy Bible

As a Christ follower I do not pretend to have it all together or that I know more than anyone else. I do read the bible daily and read the entire Holy scriptures every year. All I can attempt to do is point the reader to the word and hope that the Holy Spirit will give breakthroughs that are needed.

Much like us, Jesus was tempted by the devil. He was fasting and the devil made his move. Satan attacks us but this was a different story this was actually Christ. After the devil gives his temptation Jesus utters three words. “It is written.”

Now being fully man and fully God, Jesus did not just leave it at “it is written” He gave some meat, meaning he used God’s word (the bible) against the greatest villain the world has known and will know.

What we find in the book of Job is that Satan though banished to the earth is in heaven, in fact he tells God he was roaming the earth. The point is that Satan had to get permission to attack Job. Why? Because Jesus said in Matthew 28:18 that “ALL authority has been given to me.” Satan has to check in and get permission.

God knew that Job would stand firm in his faith and allowed Job to be given a no good, very bad day. One that tested all of Job’s resolve. In the end Job was restored and blessed even more.

So as a Christ follower I need to ask, when the devil attacks can you fill in the blanks to “it is written?” Do you know God’s words that well? If not start. Begin to read the bible or listen and read along.

My wife and I were been given a Job like day a while back and sought our then pastor and it began a quest to know God better through reading His word. After many years we are much better equipped to tell the devil what God’s word says after “it is written.”

Dealing with chronic pain

A breakthrough is coming. I know it is, I trust it is, I believe it is. With that said the struggle has been ongoing for years. I have chronic pain, arthritis, seized up muscles that go from my neck to my hips, yet I stand firm that a breakthrough is coming. Not because I am delusional or crazy ( at least I do not think I am.) Because chronic pain is not my identity.

A two car accident.

While I am not 100% sure what has caused chronic pain to invade my body I have some clues that at the very least did not help me out. Years of heavy work, a car accident and maybe a family curse of arthritis (I say that because I am adopted and have no way of knowing and simply do not trust the person I could possibly ask) may have all played a role in the pain that now ensnares my body.

It could be that all the events I listed have worked together for the great bad. The amount of times I say “Ouch!!” in a day boarders on ridiculous, I freely admit that. There was a time that “Ouch!!” would have been replaced by another word that was not meant for human or any ears to hear. So “Ouch!!” it is, because it does provide a little release.

The pain I feel is all day everyday. My body hurts the same there is no worse time of day. This is not a pity party and should in no way, shape, or form be taken or read as such. Why? Because I know where my help comes from. I just do not know when that help will come.

“My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth,” Psalm 121:2

A crucifix is seen on the wall during a Christmas mass at St. Patrick’s Church in Maiduguri on December 25, 2021. – Despite the security situation in Maiduguri, Christian devotees gather together to celebrate Christmas in various churches across the state. (Photo by Audu MARTE / AFP) (Photo by AUDU MARTE/AFP via Getty Images)

I absolutely believe this. That the God of the universe will come and heal me in His time. Until then I need to listen to the doctors he has given wisdom to and to take the medicine they prescribed. Even though medicine is a masking agent to dull the pain, God is the one true doctor.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

So while some days are worse than others and I tend to mope around those days, I also know that God will not only deliver me from my pain in His time, but I will also fully understand the strength that comes only from Him that have gotten through this season of chronic pain.

If you are dealing with chronic pain or any pain for that matter, turn to God and trust in His time, by His grace freedom and healing will come.

 

 

Changing churches is an interesting navigation

A few years ago My wife, children and I packed our bags and well everything inside of our home of 17 years and headed back to our old stomping grounds. This was not a knee jerk move, because the housing market was heating up and the time was right, but it was a God appointed move that He initiated during our yearly family fast.

17 years is a long time to live in one area. We enjoyed life in our former location and we really like the church we attended and volunteered at for nearly the same span of time. After we moved we continued to drive back and forth to the church it only took a half an hour one way.

We moved back to help with aging parents and the Lord showed us why as there were heath issues that lead to surgeries. We again sought God’s face and chose to step away from our what is now former church. It was not an easy choice to make, getting out of the boat and walking on water never is.

We then began to check out different church’s and finally landed on one. Again prayer is a great tool to lean on. So now we were at our new church and all was right with the world. Hold on, yeah about that, sorry wrong story.

The sermons and church leadership was good but my relationship with God was dulled by the shift in church’s. Just being honest. All the friends and relationships we had known for over a decade were harder to continue.

We needed to get plugged in and begin the painstaking task of finding new friends. There is no magic wand and God did not grab ahold of my wife and mine hands and walk us over to people. He did give us what we needed. My wife attended a small group and I did as well.

I had been spoiled. I had great time with my wife coaching small group leaders at the old church and now we were attending different groups at our new place of worship. God worked it out, He always does. We both met new people and got plugged in.

We have met others since that time and are now starting our own small group. We are trusting that God will grow the group according to who needs to be there and for others looking for relationships outside of their homes.

I am thankful for where God has lead us. He really does make all things new.

Why my family and I fast to ring in the New Year

“So we fasted and implored our God for this, and He listened to our entreaty.” Ezra 8:23

A New Year, a fresh start, time of wonderment and anticipation. While today football games will be played, people will gather and food will be eaten, there remains a single goal or should I say a tone setter for 2022, to seek God for what we would like to see Him do for our family this year.

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

We seek God NOT because we are righteous. In fact it is the complete opposite. I am small and have sin filled hands. We seek God and His righteousness because our plans fail or we need help in areas that only He can bring life to. However, when our plans are placed in the one who spoke the world into being there is a success rate that can not be matched.

“Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes.” Daniel 9:3

The key points to fasting in my opinion are:

1. Be willing to open your heart to the one who gave it it’s beat.

2, Be willing to make your fast difficult, meaning eat just vegetables, just liquids or nothing. God will fill you and satisfy your needs.

3. Be willing to make a list of things you want God to move in.

4. Be willing to allow God space to move in His time, not yours.

5. Be willing to trust God in the areas of your fast which will increase your faith.

Can you sense a pattern? Be willing. Sometimes it is much easier to say than to actually do. Many of my opinionated list is centered on having a certain level of patience.

“But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” Romans 8:25

Empty white plate with a napkin on an old wooden brown background, top view. Image with copy space. Kitchen table with a towel and a plate – top view with copy space.

As 2022 starts, I am willing to lay it all before a Holy God. I know He will meet all of my families needs and requests. If you have not done so, maybe consider ringing in the New Year with a fast.

 

Adoption

This is an odd place to be and an even odder subject to be writing about. Adoption, it comes in different forms. Pet adoptions, person adoptions, city or stated adoptions even sports team can be adopted, the list goes on. There is a certain stigma for a person who is adopted, I mean there has to be right? A child or adults must be gossiped about behind closed doors when the cat is out of the bag as far as being adopted. Actually, I do not think so. I think the only so-called stigma is between the ears. I know, I am adopted.

For a long time I lived with a secret that really was not a secret except in my mind. I was adopted in 1975. Through an act of God, I was spared a life less desirable and given what some would call the chance of a lifetime.

I really did not know my biological family well. Perhaps I was to young or there are simply places I do not want to revisit in the recesses of my mind. As I grew I had no desire to look for biological family members. I was not part of their lives and I was good with that.

I do have a sister who is a bit of a hot mess. Part her own doing and part I firmly believe was a family curse passed down. I will refrain from details, because it is like a broken record to me and because God has called me to look forward and not back so that is where my focus is.

UNITED STATES – JULY 18: Exterior, Joseph P. Kinnerary U.S. Courthouse, Columbus, Ohio (Photo by Carol M. Highsmith/Buyenlarge/Getty Images)

I now embrace that I am adopted in ways that I never did before. Part of it is maturity and part of it is knowing who I am both in Christ and in the family I am blessed to be part of.

There is no stigma. Only joy of being part of something that has altered my beginning and transformed me into the person who God wants me to be. If you are adopted embrace it, celebrate it. If you are thinking of adopting, do it.

Are you a servant of God or a friend of God

Embed from Getty Images Most Christian’s would say they are a friend of God. From Genesis- Revelation God’s word (the bible) is full of commanding instructions. Time and time again, blessings come from those who obey what Almighty God tells them.

In the gospel of John, Jesus brings the fullness of obeying God’s commands, “If you keep My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in His love.” John 15:10.

When we do something other than what God has written out for us, it is rebellion. Weather it is do not fear, listening to the authorities over us (which is hotly contested now a days) it does not matter.

The fallen part of us says ignore, the overcomer side of us says obey, there is joy when we do. It lines us up with Jesus in God’s eyes. This brings blessings not just for ourselves but for others.

“You are my friends if you do what I command.” John 15:14, this is the only place in the bible where Jesus tells us how we can be true friends with God. Do what He commands. Doing it our way does not bring friendship with the One True King, no matter what we have lead ourselves to believe.

If we do what God has commanded or instructs then freedom comes. It comes in a big way, a way that only Jesus can provide. “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” John 15:15. Jesus has an expectation His followers will do what is written in the bible.

If we are doing our own thing and taking authority from God so that it fits our wants, God will not call you friend. That may sound harsh, but I did not write the book, neither am I God. I believe a heart check on our part is needed, perhaps a change of thinking as well.

Maybe praying a simple prayer like Psalm 51:9 “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me,” would be the steps we need in becoming true friends with God.

 

Submitting to authority when things seem desperate

Embed from Getty Images “Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.” Titus 3: 1-2.

I admit these are trying times. With people working from home, unemployed or going to work because they have been counted as essential workers. This is geared more for the folks that are Christ followers and are not working. I am going to attempt to put things in perspective.

There should be no complaining about shelter-in-place mandates. “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.” Philippians 2: 14-15.

I understand the want to go to work and the urge to make money. That is very valid. However, I also know that God will meet needs. “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4: 19.

That verses gives me the confidence that if I or my wife would lose our job, God will meet us where we are. It brings peace to my family. For Christian’s to voice concerns is fine, in fact we should. But to rail against State Officials or the President is something we should not take part in.

“Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” Romans 13:2. We need to remember that God is in charge. Nothing is bigger than Him, nothing escapes Him, nothing surprises Him.

To seek God daily is to seek peace. Asking God to give you your daily bread is to ask Him to meet your needs. In fact, there is great wisdom, hope and redemption in Isaiah 55: 8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.”

It is easy to get caught up in the worry and allow our thoughts to hold us captive. It is another thing to apply the word of God to our life and allow Him space to move and meet our needs.

For a great resource check out BibleGateway.