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We are promised victory through God. That’s what the bible says, right? In 1 John 5:4. So why is it that we lose so many blasted battles? If Christ has overcome the world, why does it seem like the world overcomes us?

Maybe I am the only believer on the face of the earth who experiences this problem. I try to do well, read my Bible, keep my faith in God, walk in His love, blah, blah, blah. In return, aren’t I promised some victory? So where is it?

Often is seems like every time I do something good, I am battered by the bad. Every time I overcome a challenge, I am beat to a pulp by the next. Every time I climb higher, I fall harder.

You see, I may never have battled drugs, or gangs, or alcohol…I can’t tell you about all that. But my testimony is quite fat with other stuff. I can talk to you about any type of harrassment. I know all about watching everything I own go up in flames. Abusive relationships? Been there. Done that. Watching loved ones struggle to survive? Yup. Got more bills than money? That’s easy compared to the rest. Addictions so strong it took years to gain victory over? Yeah. Self-hatred so deep it resulted in self-abuse? Oh, yup. Pain so overwhelming I attempted suicide? Phew…that one’s a lonnngggg testimony. Suicidal by the age of ten…oh yeah. Homeless? Several times. Moving way, WAY more than is healthy? Yes. Yes. And yes. Disease and sickness? Blah. Definitely got that covered. All this in 22 years of life.

Yeah, I think that’s about the bare essentials.

So in all that and WAY more (let me tell you), don’t you think I know what it means to have lost some battles? Too be in way over my head? To despair and feel like God has abandoned me? Yes. I’ve had experiences that I wouldn’t wish on Satan himself.

I. Do. Not. Exaggerate.

I have lost more battles than I would like to admit. I have received pain and given pain that I wish never occurred. I have watched loved ones detioriate before my very eyes. And I learned far too early how to be an adult.

But you know what? I know what it means to lose. But I know even more what it means to win. I understand the concept of victory. I’ve experienced it all my life. Just like I have experienced loss all of my life. For if you do not suffer, how can you know what it means to rejoice? If you don’t know pain, how can you offer empathy to another? I know what’s it’s like to feel forsaken, but never BE forsaken.

You see, the bible doesn’t promise us victory over every battle. Because that would be an empty promise. It simply does not happen. Not for us. But it does promise us victory over the ultamite war. For right now, we may shake our fists at Satan and scream, kick, and cry out; “You, you, JERK!”

But in the end, we shall reign with Christ and Satan shall feel the eternal lick of hell’s fire.

Take your weakness,
And make it glory,
Glory, I say, in infirmity,
For weakness breeds
Strength.

Take the sorrow,
And make it worthwhile,
Make it, I say, worth your tears,
For sorrow breeds
Experience.

Take all obstacles,
And make it pathetic,
Pathetic, I say, in your eyes,
For obstacles breed
Confidence.

Take every wound,
And make it your testimony,
Testify, I say, of your pain,
For wounds breed
Sympathy.

Take your weakness,
And make it strength.
Take your sorrow,
And build experience.
Take your obstacles,
And learn confidence.
Take your wounds,
And extend sympathy.

Take life,
And GROW.

I made a mistake a few days ago. A mistake so great that I should not be here typing this post. And one day I will testify when God releases me to do so. But for the purpose of today, I made a mistake from very complex motivations and God had to clean up the mess. Basic but the truth.

Having gone through that, I want to say that God and I are making progress toward forgiveness – me forgiving myself. And part of that process is accepting that there is weakness within me, within all of us. Yes, I am sorry to dissapoint the egotistical maniacs of the world, but we are not God. Perfect, loving God. No, we are part of the self-centered, stubborn, hating, imperfect (obviously), conniving, did-I-mention-imperfect? human race.

Yup. There it is. We. Make. Mistakes. Again and again and again and repeat-that-in-your-head-a-thousand-times-and-you-might-get-the-idea type of ”AGAIN.”

In other words, we are weak in many areas of our lives. We do things we shouldn’t do. We say things we shouldn’t say. We believe things we shouldn’t believe.

But here’s that kicker; all that aside, we are some pretty decent people.

Yes, I said it. After saying all that, we really aren’t all that bad. We have issues, yes. But we have a quality side to us as well. That side that is concerned about the planet, each other, the poor, the hurting. We’re pretty good people.

So when you do something that…maybe you shouldn’t have done, remember that there is a good side and a flawed side. This is a rule-of-thumb. None of us are exempt. We do good things and foolish things. But most of us desire to do right. And from that reasoning I say to you and myself, “Let it go. Move on. Move forward. Continue with your life. Don’t let it become a mistake that binds. Release yourself by forgiving yourself.”

With every breaking of my soul,
I declare,
I will grow stronger.

With every damage done by hate,
I declare,
I will see another day.

With ever attack from the enemy’s hand,
I declare,
I will hand back more.

With every tear I cry,
I declare,
I will bring a soul to Christ.

With every sorrow that I bear,
I declare,
Satan will lose time.

With every arrow shot in my back,
I demand,
RECOMPENSE DOUBLE-FOLD!

amen

Two Sundays ago was Easter Sunday. And when I went to church, I expected a lesson on ressurection, love, obedience, etc. I did not expect a deliverance from unforgiveness. But God never did seem to comply with what I expected from His sermons, so why should He start now?

You see, I have battled long and hard with forgiving some incidences that happened about a year ago. And it’s not that I was being rebellious against the commandments of God. I pleaded with Him often to help me forgive. I wanted to forgive. But I was just so hurt, and so angry, that no matter how many times I tried, I couldn’t genuinly manage it.

A year ago my mind was attacked, my heart bullied, my reputation torn to shreds, my integrity placed on the line, and life became so overwhelming I almost surrendered my life. It was a time of pain I wouldn’t wish on any man. It was a time of such hopelessness and despair I almost gave up on God’s delivering power. And it took me a year and much prayer and many divine touches before I could even consider myself back on the path of true stability.

And because of all of this, I grew angry and bitter. I didn’t want to be, but when pain festers too long, bitterness is the fruit it bears. So when I asked God, why could I not forgive? He told me, Daughter, you are simply in too much pain.

So throughout this past year, God kept me on a path toward healing. He was my Docter, giving me continual doses of peace and joy, over and over, lifting me up every time I fell down. Then, gradually, my pain lessened though it did not fully heal. In time my anger diminished, though it did not fully fade. And I stayed at my Master’s feet and held on to the hem of His garmet.

And then, finally, Easter Sunday I was given the revelation I needed. Apostle Jones was preaching and He spoke about how Jesus carried not only our iniquities, but also our pain. All the hurts and sorrows that we have experienced, do experience, and will experience, He endured on the cross.

It hit my like a bag of bricks. If I am one with Christ Jesus, if my life is hidden in His, then when they hurt me a year ago, they also hurt Him. And when I was in such psychological agony that I desired death over the pain, He was there with me, bearing the sorrow at my side, as one with my spirit. My pain was His pain.

And I realized, if Christ could endure all that pain, and not only mine but many others as well, on that cross, and still cry out that man be forgiven, then I could forgive as well. And as easilly as switching on a light, I did. And as I did, I was able to release all the anger that remained inside my heart. Do I still have a bit of healing left? Yes. Some of the pain is still there. But it diminishes more and more with every passing day. It’s progress was quickened by my breakthrough on Easter Sunday and boosted by continual touches of divine healing ever since.

This is a process. And it is long. But it is also a part of a testimony. And one day soon, this testimony will be complete.

Love Amid the Ashes

Back Cover Blurb

When her beloved grandfather Isaac dies, Dinah must follow his final command: travel to Job’s household to marry his son. After Job’s world comes crashing down, Dinah finds herself drawn to this great man brought low. What will she risk to fight for his survival?

My Review

Author Mesu Andrews weaves a heartrending story of two lives; Dinah, daughter of Jacob, and Job, wealthy servant of the Most High. I was originally drawn to this book because of it’s unique take on the two character’s stories. Who would think to introduce the shamed Dinah to the prestigious but soon-to-be-shattered Job? But Author Andrew does, and she does it skillfully.

The reader can tell that Andrews did her homework on the detail she places into her character’s environment; anything ranging from specific geography to the way they prepared food in biblical times. And the story itself is very gripping. The reader can feel Job’s pain and is sorrowed by Dinah’s reputation. I wanted to cheer for them when they overcame obstacles and hug and cry with them when their pain is deepened. In fact, I was so entranced with their lives that I didn’t want to return to my own.

Excellent storytelling aside, there was a few technicalities that bugged me. The characters seemed to lack much depth. I understood their concerns and joys, but I didn’t feel like I really got a glimpse at their individuality. They weren’t very unique beside the individuality of their stories. I did, however, see a decent character arc in which they matured and grew throughout the story.

That said, the writing was a tad bit dramatic. The author used certain wording and exclamations that was meant to convey emotion but succeeded mostly in making her characters seem melodramatic at times. And though this made me raise a brow a few times, it was easy to ignore for the interest of the story itself.

Overall, I say bravo for a gripping tale full of love, redemption, and hope.

I give Love Amid the Ashes 4 out of 5 stars.

“Take peace, “ says the Lord, “from the depth of my bosom. Take quiet rest from the center of my soul. I give it to you. The price for it has been paid; by my blood, by my breath, by my pain.

“You toss and turn through the night. You wrestle with fears and are ensnared by worries. But I am here, my child. I am here to comfort you in the midnight hour. Don’t be afraid. Rest in my peace. I give it to you freely. I shower you with it from above. But in order to settle in my peace, you must trust in who I am, what I can do, and the Word by which I stand.”

Eph 6:12 KJV “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

Thus says the Lord,

“The world is turning quickly to chaos. Governments betray their people. Earthquakes shattering nations. The ocean overstepping its boundary in a flood of destruction. Riots are shaking cities. Mobs are destroying businesses. Children are killing children. Mothers are beating daughters. Sons are murdering mothers. Husbands are destroying the foundations of their marriage by committing adultery, and wives are doing the same. Children born out of wedlock. Youth having sex in grade school.

“And the people ask why. Why is this happening? Why have God not stopped it?

“Did I not warn you this would happen? Did I not say these things would come to pass? Don’t you know that such things must be so? That it must get worse before it can get better? But you have no faith.

“The enemy is like a roaring lion, bent on destruction, but my Word is a two-edged sword that will cut him in his tracks. And I have given it to you. So why do you not use it? Prayer is the mightiest weapon that will summon legions of battle-ready angels at a single beckon. So why are my people not praying? I have offered gifts of teachers, preachers, prophets…so why do the nations not listen?

“Shake your fist at me, prideful nations, but I will not be moved by your anger and fear. I have given you the tools to defeat the ruler of darkness – the one who is ravaging your world. And as you use those tools, I have sworn to stand with you, to fight with you, to gain victory for you. But this is the world of man. These are attacks against man. And therefore mankind must fight in the war. But if they don’t fight, can they be surprised at the battles they don’t win?”

The really unique thing about our prince charming, Jesus Christ, is that even though He is our knight in shining armor, He is not impressed with a damsel in distress. Ever seen the movies or read the book? Where the damsel is an air-brained, helpless female who is always getting herself into trouble and here comes prince charming to her rescue? Bella from Twilight, anyone? *runs from Bella’s obsessed fans armed with pitchforks and butcher knives*

Now, let’s picture the scene a little differently. Damsel in distress. Got it? Here comes prince charming. Can you picture it? Prince Charming saves the fair lady, receives true-love’s first kiss, blah, blah, blah, and here’s where our fairytale runs a little strange…Prince Charming decks the damsel out in full armor, trains her in some wicked cool swordsmanship, and asks that she fight at his side! Wow! (Now, if Twilight followed that route, I may have actually been able to stomach the series *dodges a butcher knife*)

So, now our fair lady has two choices when the lovers are suddenly faced with a fire-breathing dragon. Fight at Prince Charming’s side and help save the day, or shed her armor and run screaming for the hills where a hidden dragon turns her into tasty barbeque. Two options are given, and only two outcomes are available. Which does the damsel choose? Well, hopefully the one where she lives to see her next birthday, right? Right?

Well, if she is anything like modern day Christians…WRONG! She runs screaming for the hills. You see, if prince charming is Jesus and we are the fair damsel, then we are called to put on the Armor of God (eph. 6) and stand by Christ’s side as we battle the forces of evil together. And as the cute as that sounds, it doesn’t reflect the reality of what Christians are actually doing. Run for hills and become fried bacon is far more accurate.

You see, we are helpless damsels at a certain point in our spiritual lives, mainly when we are first saved, and here comes Prince Charming to our rescue. But Jesus Christ isn’t interested in helpless damsels remaining helpless. So He trains us in spiritual warfare and clothes us in impenetrable armor. Then He calls us to fight at His side as He goes up against that great dragon, Satan. And the great part is, so long as we do so, we are guaranteed victory.

But we get scared at the first fireball of dragon breath. And instead of standing our ground with the CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE at our side, we run. And because armor is designed for combat and not retreat, it is too heavy to provide adequate speed, so we shed it real fast. And what happens? We have abandoned the protection of our knight in shining armor, and we have shed the only body protection we have. So when we are faced with a hidden dragon that we never saw coming, we are helpless and quickly defeated.

Fried bacon, anyone?

So what‘s my point? Stand by Prince Charming’s side and keep on your armor, no matter how heavy it gets, and you’ll be alright!

Lord! My boss is acting crazy. My coworkers are out to get me. The bills are piling up. And blast it! I’m sick of my brother’s uncle’s cousin’s sister’s adopted daughter always giving me a hard time! I’m going to kill her. You understand me, Big Guy? Huh? I’m going to blow up the whole flippin’ earth if something doesn’t start going right within the next two minutes. Starting now. Starting right now! Argggh!!

Am I the only who might occasionally…sometimes…feel this way…maybe more than sometimes…

*Cough*

Look. Let’s be real. Life sucks sometimes. K? If you wanna read this and pretend like life is skippin’ through the tulips on a bright sunny day and you never knew the meaning of rain clouds…well, this blog ain’t for you. My recommendation: go check out that good ol’ www.stoplyingtoyourself.com. I hear it’s all the rave right now.

But for the rest of us normal Christians, well. Time for tough love. Ready? Can you take it? If you can’t, then check out www.youneedprayer.com.

Listen. We are in the school of life and God is our teacher. In school, what do we receive at the completion of certain lessons? Tests. Guess what? Today we are in a season of testing.

Test #1 – The Love Test – God wants to know if our love for Him is the number one love in our life. The Word says that whoever puts someone before God, is not worthy of Him. The bible says it. Not me. The bible – which is only, like, the foundational standard of our faith but…yeah. I’m just sayin’…

Test #2 – The Giving Test – When the bills are tight and we are running on the dreaded unemployment that pays us just enough to cover an occasional water bill, what will we do when God says, hey, bless your sister with two of those three twenty dollar bills left in your wallet? And you think, hey, Lord, Mister Know-It-All up there, I’ve got four mouths to feed. I’ve yet to go grocery shopping. My gas tank is near empty. And you want me to do what? (I’ll be honest, I would not want to be in that situation…I may not be obedient.) But it’s important to understand that God is not testing our desire to give (well, if you’re real stingy, He might be,) but He’s testing our faith in His unfailing provision.

Test #3 – The Forgiveness Test – This one is key to reaching that next spiritual level. And if you’ve been following this blog at all, you know this is a sore point for me. Can we forgive someone who’s hurt us real bad? Now, don’t get all huffy on me, but if you can read this and say, yeah, no prob. What’s the big deal? Jesus forgave us, we forgive the world. Life is good. Running through the tulips, etc. Ahem. If you can say that lightly you have probably not been hurt to the point that I’m talking about. And that’s great. Good livin’ for you. But for others, they know what I’m talking about and yes, I’m still saying God wants to know if we are willing to forgive.

So what’s the bottom line? God’s tests hurt. Sometimes they really, really sting. Sometimes, they straight-up just suck. Sometimes, we know that the situation is just God doing His thing, but we feel like, man, do you have to darn near kill me in the process? I mean, if somebody had told me about seven months ago, hey, honey, this is just God trying to clean you up real good, I probably would have punched them in the face. Just saying. Now, I’ve never punched anybody. But a comment like that would have sorely tempted me at that moment in time…in fact, I think it might just still tempt me… Just pray for me, alright? Pray!!!

But here’s the good news. God’s invested in us. Can I say that again? God is invested in us. He has signed His name on the book of our lives and sealed it with the blood of Jesus. Now that’s an expensive seal, let me tell you. And nobody throws away an expensive anything just for kicks and giggles. So here’s the cool part. God sends us in the fire to withdraw us as pure gold. He scrubs our flesh until we’re kicking and screaming. And then? Well, He does the whole process over again! It’s aggravating! But anyway, even though He does all this, He is extremely careful not to burn us in the progression of it all.

One might say, hey! Wait a minute. You stick somebody in a flippin’ fire, they’re going to flippin’ burn. One plus one does equal two! Ever stuck your fingers on a hot stove? Duh! Burned, didn’t it? Duh! So don’t be telling me about…*continues screaming in the background* Alright. Let’s put it another way. When we cook food on the stove, we cook it until it’s, well, cooked, right? Do we cook it until it’s good or until it’s burned? Is there a difference? Why, so glad you asked. There is a difference! Guess what? Burned food don’t taste good. God don’t want burned kids. He wants cooked kids, get it?

So God sends us through these nasty tests that feel like they’re burning us to high heaven even though they’re just cooking us up until we’re nice and tasty so He can eat us up (just kidding). But if you remember anything through all my bumbling, remember that in the midst of it all, God is right there with us, carrying us, keeping us, and helping us pass the tests. Remember, He’s invested in our success.