And Just how DO We Rest?

Strange question right? To those who can just live a relaxed life, and have ways of de-stressing, rest is a natural thing and easy to come by. But for the heart that is beat up and has a hard time letting go, rest can seem impossible. The things that others find relaxing may do nothing for you, or may actually make things worse.

So how does a tortured heart find rest in this world that seems all but God forsaken?

Simple.

Jesus.

In Matthew 11:28-29 Jesus invites us all to come to Him when we are weary, overwhelmed, and just plain burdened, so that we can find the rest we need. He loves us so very much and wants us to live a life rested and at peace. The very fact that we avoid stress, and stressful situations points out to us that we were not made for stress. The very fact that our bodies have stress coping mechanisms that help us to deal with that stress is another indicator that living a life bound up by anxieties and stress was not God’s plan. (Had it been His plan why would He offer rest, and why would He create an entire system in our bodies that copes with the effects of our stress? )

Jesus promises when we come to Him, we can learn His way of doing things and find rest. Not just physical rest, the kind of rest that we all need, deep soul rest. This rest is a rest where your heart can be free, the anxieties leave,  and you become like a little child sitting on her daddy’s lap smiling and enjoying life with no worries because Papa God is right there protecting you.

So how do we get this rest? The answer may be hard to understand at first but hang with me because it is sweeter than wine.

We get this rest by submission to the Lordship of Jesus. …Ouch right? But wait, don’t quit on me here. There is more to this than you understand.

Jesus says “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle, and lowly in heart…”   He is gentle! From His own mouth He is saying, “I am gentle”. His Lordship is not harsh and demanding it is gently like a Father with a newborn baby. His commandments are not grievous (  1John 5:3)

When we take the yoke of Jesus upon ourselves we learn His ways, and His ways are easy and light. (Matt 11:30) He promises us rest for our souls if we do. But what if we don’t? What if He asks us to do something that we fail at or that we just emotionally can’t handle yet? Well take heart beloved one. There is now therefore, no condemnation to those who are in Jesus. He will not condemn us. In fact He tells us that He gives us peace, not what the world gives (John 14:27).

When we mess up in this world people don’t give us peace. They give us HELL. And that is the way of the world, immediate judgement and condemnation for every mistake.  Jesus however, promises us that we will receive no judgement from Him or condemnation from Him, only peace. Why? Because He believes so strongly in the power of His love and forgiveness to keep us on track and headed the right direction. (We may miss out on the rest, and we often do, but we will not receive condemnation.)

There is more power in the Love of God to keep us living a holy life, than in fear of punishment to get us running from sin. Time and time and time again it’s been proven. God is love. Run to that love.

The last thing I want to mention is that Jesus did not say “Take my rules upon you!” He said “Take my Yoke upon you”. A yoke is a strong bar of metal or wood that binds two oxen, cows, or horses together so that they may share the weight of the load they are pulling. Jesus is saying “I want to be joined with you in this effort. I am not leaving you all alone to do it yourself.”

When we come to Jesus needing rest He takes the weight on His shoulders and gives us His shalom. When we follow His wisdom for our lives we find rest.  Take His yoke upon you today, and learn from Him. Find rest when you start applying His wisdom to your circumstances and letting Him be Daddy God in every situation.

Don’t we all wish our earthly Fathers could do this for us?

Shalom.

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A Dream is a Wish your Heart Makes

I’ve heard over and over about how God will make your dreams come true. But for someone who has struggled with trust, and lived a life of anxiety ridden depression, dreaming is hard.

I had a dream.

Once I dreamed of being a famous singer at a young age, traveling the world and singing on stages with thousands of fans screaming out my name. I was a child, it was a child’s dream. When I gave my life to the Lord, my dream changed. I wanted to be famous and travel the world singing for Him on stages everywhere. I wanted to declare the gospel through song.

Somewhere along the line that dream was lost. It never happened. The famous teen pop sensation dream mutated to a famous twenty something worship sensation and again to a local leader of a church worship team. And alas the dream died. I took the stage as a worship leader, thinking it was all I ever wanted and discovered I didn’t want it at all. I hated it. My heart was utterly discouraged and I was left dreamless. Even now the things that once captivated my heart I look at them and see how futile they are, how empty.

Everyone was talking about making your dreams come true, never stop chasing your dream, keep pushing for your dream. I had none. I was devastated by my dreamless state because I felt like something was wrong with me. I lived this way for a very long time, which only fueled my depression and anxiety. I was even down right angry because I felt like i was made for something and God was holding me back from my calling because I hadn’t measured up.

I lived in a prison of shame and anger and discouragement (among other wars raging in my life). What is life if you  have no purpose and how can you have purpose if you have no dream?

After a long time of struggling the though occurred to me that I do have a dream. My dream is to be happy. I dream of a world where people respect each other, where goodness, kindness, and love prevail. I dream of a world where hope can anchor you in God’s promises and you can see His power manifest simply because you believed it would.

I DO have a dream. My dream is to silence the voices of fear, anger, resentment, bitterness, pride, hate, envy, evil, greed and lust. My dream is to shout at the top of my lungs the freedom of the Risen Savior. My dream is to set the captive free. My dream is my secret inward wish for everyone to just get along and love one another. My dream is a dream that seems impossible but undeniably needed.

My dream is a dream of full-fledged revival. And not the kind where you host meetings every night and sweat, and babble in a foreign language and run around shouting. My dream is a dream where the book of Acts church comes alive in the midst of the dead “church” of today.

Where the broken one sitting in that pew getting beat over the head by the so called shepherd finally has enough of getting beat and rejects the hireling only to find the Good Shepherd has always been there waiting.

My dream is for you, the reader. My dream is that every eye could see, that every ear could hear, that every heart could know the Jesus I know. My dream is for freedom, love, truth, justice, hope, peace, healing, prosperity, and forgiveness. My dream is the dream of the heart of God. And I’ve never been happier to dream someone else’s dream. I am dreaming His dream and it feels like my own and I don’t mind one bit.

What is your dream? What is deep in the pit of your heart just screaming to get out? What is the wish that you’d make? Everyone has one. Maybe your dream is just to be healed. Maybe your dream is to finally get ahead and stop drowning in debt. Maybe your dream is to just be loved for who you are and not have to change to make people happy.

What ever your dream is, chase it! A dream is a wish that your heart makes. Deep inside of every human heart is a scream. That scream is your dream. Chase it.

Chrysanthemum

Need a Perk-olater?

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. Psalm 43:5

Why..? The question that always seems to come up in the midst of hard times. No explanation is necessary. You get it.

Why…? The question that should come up. Why are you down cast? Why are you so disturbed? This question that I pose can seem so hurtful to the one suffering, almost callous, as if I overlooked their suffering. Often we feel pressured by the leadership in our churches to not look like we’re “struggling”, to appear as if we have it all together. I was even told once to “slap a smile on that face and show the world that you’re different than them. There will be no boo-hooing on my stage!”

Wow! Now that was callous, and not at all like Jesus.

I have a story, a story of hurt, pain, rejection. I have lived in a prison of depression and anxiety, though others hurt me, a lot of it has been self inflicted. I know.

Jesus knows. His brothers didn’t believe He was Messiah. The leadership of His church banished Him. The people in His country called for His execution, and the government He served murdered Him. He knew suffering. On the night He was arrested He was in the garden praying. He had so much fear and anxiety that blood was  His sweat. He knows.

The crown of thorns upon His head were placed there to signify to the world His reign. Romans mocked His Kingdom, but in reality He reigned even in death, and the thorns are the curse upon His mind. The sweat as drops of blood were the revealing of His frail human psyche, and in the end the crown pierced His head and He bled to take the punishment of a mind wrestling with fear. That mind that wrestles with depression, anxiety, and fear was a fallen mind, the mind we inherited from Adam.

It is important for you to understand that we DO NOT get punished for our mind wrestling with these things. On the contrary, that wrestling mind IS our punishment, the VERY same punishment that Jesus took on His body on the cross.

Let me explain. Adam had perfect peace with God before the fall. I know this because the bible says Adam was in God’s presence daily. And we know that in God’s presence is fullness of joy. Adam enjoyed fullness of joy. But when He ate the fruit from the wrong tree His eyes were opened, and He became like God knowing good and evil, and thus the wrestle began.

Paul describes this wrestling in Romans 7 when he says (and I paraphrase), the things I want to do I cannot do, the things I hate doing is what I end up doing, who will deliver me?!

Interestingly enough Paul continues “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! ” (Rom 7:25a) Paul rejoiced to see that Christ is our deliverer from this wrestle.  There is NOW therefore NO condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus! (Rom 8:1) The wrestle can be over now. We can give in and just feel what we feel. And Jesus is okay with that.

Jesus gave in. Jesus just felt the raw emotion too. He prayed “If there is any other way please take this cup from me.” The good news for us is, there is always another way!!! Jesus is the way. He even had an out. He told them He could call on a legion of angels and they would get Him out. But He didn’t’ call on them.  He held His tongue and drank the cup to the last drop so that we can call out and not drink the cup. He is the way out.

Don’t wrestle beloved. Don’t carry that care, not one second longer. Cast allllll your cares upon Him. He cares! Does it bother you? Even a smidgen? Then its a care. Cast it at His feet. Did it come back? Are you wrestling again? Cast it again, and again, and again until one day you walk free from it.

Don’t put pressure on yourself to be something you’re not. Just live in the here and now. Live in this moment with Jesus. If you feel pain, cry it out to Him. He is near to the broken-hearted and saves the ones crushed in their Spirit. Do you feel joy? Rejoice with Him! But don’t allow the religious notion of a perfect, stable Christianity give you anxiety because you’re still in the wrestle.

God wants to take you from the wrestle to the REST. Let Him. Just rest now beloved. Just rest on the promise that He is faithful and He is trustworthy.

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Are you stuck?

John’s blog  

ARE YOU STUCK IN SATAN’S WEB?

We’ve been in a season of warfare (it helps just to know this). See this knowledge brings light to your difficulties, it helps you to see you’re not as bad off as you thought, in fact you’re a lot better off than you thought! See just knowing that you’re being assaulted with a wave of warfare helps you to clear your mind knowing that even the thoughts that you’ve been thinking haven’t been you at all but rather the enemy bombarding you with fiery darts and accusations. He’s been trying to get you to question who you are, what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. He’s been attacking your character and identity trying to get you to second guess yourself and think as one who doesn’t know who they are at all. And along with this onslaught from the enemy he’s also been trying to confuse you, cloud your judgement, fill your heart and mind with doubt, discouragement and depression. And as if all those weren’t enough he’s also been attempting to bring division in your relationships, apathy at work and deceit in your mind (even leading to difficulties in your health).

I say all this to bring light to his schemes. Jesus said that he is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44). Satan operates in darkness (which means ignorance), therefore when we don’t know his schemes we are often subject to them (Hosea 4:6). Jesus is the light of the world and in him there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5). Jesus brings light (understanding) to Satan’s schemes. And therefore it’s through Jesus we overcome. Christ is the head of the church and we (referring to believers) are his body here on the earth (Romans 12:5, Colossians 1:18, and 1 Corinthians 12:27). So as we spend time with Jesus (reading God’s word and spending time in worship and prayer) and his body (sharing what’s going on in each of our lives and praying for one another) we walk in the light and darkness has no power over us. I believe even now as you read these words darkness is leaving and light is filling your heart. Ignorance, deceit, discouragement, confusion and despair are headed out and in their place joy, peace, understanding, encouragement, clarity and hope are flooding your heart today.

I declare freedom for you today in Jesus name! You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free (John 8:32). And he who the son sets free is free indeed (John 8:36). All the rain is passing, the sun is bursting forth and you can clearly see God’s promise painted in the sky. “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.” Deuteronomy 7:9 Great is his faithfulness (Lamentations 3:23), faithful is he who calls you, and he also will bring it to pass (1 Thessalonians 5:24). “Not one of the good promises which the Lord had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass.” Joshua 21:45 “Remember his covenant forever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations.” 1Chronicles 16:15

Remember God’s faithfulness! Remember all he’s done for you! Remember who he says you are! Remember the prophetic words spoken over your life! Remember all that you’ve been through together! Remember! Now rise up and give testimony to who God is in your life today! Stop letting your mountains speak to you and start speaking to them! God has given you authority, use your words, declare God’s truth over your heart and situation and be encouraged knowing that God is working ALL this for your good! Yes, indeed! Even your past, yes even your present, yes even this dark season, this time of testing, yes God is working it ALL for your good! Just think of what the Father has in store for you (in light of all these things). Oh, God is good, let’s bless his name together!

(If you were blessed by this message and believe others you know need to hear it, please share it with them, share in my joy knowing God is using you to help others and share it with the world as you never know who is in darkness and could really use some light)

Blessings!

John

It’s not your fault

As He is...so are we

This clip is from Good Will Hunting. Just a word of caution. This clip shows a real issue and real emotions. If you’ve been abused this may bring up emotions or flashbacks. My aim is for healing, redemption, and to let you know that it’s not your fault. Please pardon the language:

It isn’t! You didn’t do it. You didn’t bring it on yourself. You had nothing to do with it. You weren’t being punished for who you are because who you are is a beautiful person God personally designed, thought about, and put together. You were not a mistake. What happened was caused by someone else and their sin, frailty, and wounding. They did it, not you. You are free from being responsibly for someone else’s actions. God can, and will, and is freeing you from the past. Remember that it is not your fault. You are free to…

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