Tag: Grace

LOVE

            Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.”

Matthew 26:36 (NKJV) 

Forever Faithful

by Gerald T. Ching

LOVE: When I earnestly began seeking to connect with God through prayer, He met me, filling my heart with a joy that has no equal. Being welcomed home into the Father’s loving arms in forgiveness has deepened my capacity to love like Jesus.

[separation: caught between life and death]

1.         And so it began with the Lord God Almighty banishing them from the Garden of Eden; for him to slave over the ground from which he was taken and for her to be ruled over by him all of her days, giving birth in agony to all his children. In painful separation from their Creator they were to live, the weightiest consequence of their sin. They walked from the presence of a Holy God into death and darkness.

2.         Glittering, sparkling like diamonds within the dense foliage of a flourishing rainforest, droplets of dew dance with brilliance reflecting the radiance of life. The fiery orb that beams rejuvenating rays down to a thirsty creation slowly descends, relinquishing its reign across the zenith. The day comes to a close in the brilliance of a setting sun, the soothing hues blending earnestly with one another.

           Quickly but purposefully, night descends from the heavenly realms upon the lush landscape of this beautiful terrain. A cool refreshing breeze billows through the rainforest lulling the great silverback giants, whose loud grunts and roars rattle the timbers of giant trees into peaceful slumber. The bright face of the moon crests the evening sky with authority. Her quiet gracefulness shimmers in splendor, awakening the creatures of the twilight while lightening the heaviness of nightfall. The soft chirping of night creatures calms and soothes the heated day’s events.

           Standing by a clear flowing river and under incandescent stars ablaze in the night sky, Your grateful child stands amongst it all filled with a flooding joy as I see the continual unfolding of the unending love that You have for all of Your creation.

           Crabs skirt across the ocean surf with angry faces searching for the tiny bits that sustain their existence. Intimidating predators swim in the depths with solemn faces, grimacing at all that pass their long-sighted sonar. Warm currents mix with the icy surges from the deep, creating a swirling atmosphere for the creatures of the sea. Short-haired sleek mammals knife through the water like acrobats, forever in motion and at play.

           Rays of a brilliant rising sun shimmer through the blue. The light dancing upon the rippling surface penetrates and plunges into the ocean depths bringing life-giving energy to all it touches. In perfect perpetuation this astounding balancing act of an entire ecosystem was set in place by Your wisdom with each participant playing its instinctive part where predators hungrily reap through the herd driven with prey laying down their lives for the cause.

           Seeking power, holding no law sacred, principalities vie for supremacy. In a depraved world this thirst to dominate and rule comes naturally to the fallen who have been bred since birth to glorify themselves. Destruction hangs in the balance, threatening to plunge all into blind chaos.

3.         Hate, the word turns my stomach; it makes me want to roll on the ground retching bile and spewing froth. Hate, the word sends spikes through my heart; it makes me want to curl in the corner crying deep sobs. Hate, the word weighs down my soul; it has driven nine inch nails into Your hands and feet.

[empowered: learning to embrace the love of God]  

4.         Standing tall among the trees, I peer across the lands of my youth. Somewhere along this rocky path I have found my way back to You. The twists and turns that slowed my journey in the past with guilt and suffering are now keepsakes in my heart. (I know now that back then, Your Hand was ever upon me, guiding and teaching me.) Day after day I wrestle within myself, powering through the most extensive of trials. Lost in this without the means to survive, I cry out for help. Like a lightning bolt I am rejuvenated; with quickness I am loved. Growing stronger daily I am forever thankful for Your faithfulness. Like rigid steel I stand amongst it all, for the Lord is my strength. Shielded by faith I walk. Striding to barriers unbreakable before, now teeter and fall. Submitting to Your will is what is commanded of me; it is the very reason I was born.

           Till my dormant heart with a sharpened wheel hoe, driving the steel spikes deep into the hard packed surface. Rain Your love upon my barren soul emptied of goodness, laid to waste, and sold into slavery. Throw Your seed into my heart with the promise of new growth and the promise of peace.

5.         Starting at the opposite end of the field, I begin the long walk to holiness. A medley of angels trumpeting at the momentousness of this occasion sends my spirit soaring. Jumping through the rings in my heart, You shine like a candle in the core of my soul. Radiant and pure, Holy Spirit pours love from an overflowing wellspring into my heart. Intertwined like ivy creeping across a stone bridge, You support me in this chaotic world, strengthening me when I weaken, guiding me when I am lost.

           My heart sings when I hear Your Word. Your heart cries when You feel my pain. My heart quivers when You are near.

           Sitting with me in a grassy meadow, pondering with me the trials of life, telling me of the dreams You have for me, sharing with me all that You have in Your Heart as I share with You what I am able. Doubt creeps about, confusing even more my lost and wandering soul that is riddled with worldly sins. Embedded with their deadly poison, I walk crowded streets with bustling people searching for the answers to the mystery of life.

6.         Crunching through this life at alarming speed, I hit crossroads daily. What am I supposed to do? Which way am I to go? Whom can I turn to? Who can I trust? Soul searching until I am nothing more than a waft of a spirit, I come before You. Questions rise, deep resounding groans resonate from within my soul; the words reverberate throughout.    

            “Father, I am afraid to look into my heart; I am afraid of what I will find there. But I do know that I have wronged You. So please forgive me, for I have sinned against You. You are my Heavenly Father who has taught me to love by first loving me, and I know that whatever is in my heart, You will stand with me helping me through it, lovingly and justly.”

[transformation: forever changed by the God’s faithful love]

7.         Your healing touch strokes my conflicted flesh. Deeply Your hands dig, kneading the flesh into submission. Terra-cotta flies through the air from Your masterful hands, sending all scattering to the farthest reaches of this foray to await the completion of the final masterpiece. Snatched from the fires of a sin-ridden world and placed upon the worktable of a Master Sculptor who works expectantly, the clanging of tools and chisels sends sparks showering in all directions. The Almighty Hand of the Artist instills His passion into the very core of all His works of art. The warm gentle rubbing of polish marks the ending of another magnum opus. Another masterpiece is ready to be unveiled. The sounding of trumpets accompanied by joyous singing echoes in Heaven proclaiming the goodness of God as the new creation comes to life.

           Being made whole opens my heart to drink in the living waters of Eternal Life. Fresh water from the well quenches my parched soul; words rise to my lips but go unspoken. My life brightens with Your words of grace.

            “Sit with Me and find comfort. Hold My hand when you doubt; receive My strength when you stumble. Rejoice in My faithfulness, and be filled with My goodness. Joyful I will always be, when you call upon my Name.”

8.         All I am and all I perceive dissipates as You open the vision in my heart. Surrounded by images of You, cool refreshing breezes rejuvenate my spirit, calming and easing the anxiety that rattles about me. In the warmth of fellowship the longing of solitude is staved off, quelled with the kindness of a gentle Soul whose love washed the world with hope. So no one could boast and all could benefit in the pure form of a pure love given freely. Never to be sought by the greed of another, but to be shared with another as another needs. So that others may know the joy of peace while living in a sin riddled world, addicted to distraction. Within this blanket of Truth that shields me, I shine with a warm glow of love.

[nearness: learning to embrace the longing for Divine Love]

9.         A reassuring calm settles my battered spirit. The link that connects me to You in this illicit world of deceit holds me close to You when I am overwhelmed. The needful yearnings from my heart scream to be filled with Your love. Hear me as I call out Your Name; hold me with the tender lovingkindness of a gentle Companion. Whisper to me words of love and encouragement, stroke my soft fragile skin while gently brushing away the tears that stream down my face. Your compassion instills the warmth in my heart that gives me hope.

           Fill me with this love; let my heart bubble over with joy as soft kisses brush against my heart. I feel the warmth of Your love when You hold me; it radiates through me like an electrical charge. From inside my heart I hear Your words. These warm swells that resound deeply within my chest speak to me like the shining sun. Flowing outward, penetrating the layers that lead to the outside world, Your words swirl warmly in my chest. Growing and then spreading to the farthest reaches of my soul, Your Light reflects to others on this walk of faith.

10.       Roaring to life, the fear that resides in solitude stands at its full height in blatant defiance, and the connection to the living spring of unconditional love is re-wired and re-networked with the freedom to choose overriding this alliance, and addiction serving the eviction papers.

           In the distance I see You walking towards me. My own face darkens with apprehension which lays heavy my heart and furls my brow. Your Presence makes my heart sob lightly when we embrace. Faithfully You nurture me with a gentleness which knows no bounds as the deepest parts of my soul whisper in worry; long relaxing conversations of all things holy cast away the worrisome spirits, banishing them to the shadows to cower.

           Happy go lucky and carefree we speak of love, my heart bonding to Yours. The dark clouds of an unknown future part with the sunshine of a new dawn, uplifting me to the highest mountaintops to dance amongst the clouds. Spinning round the beautiful treetops, swaying in the refreshing breeze, my spirit rests.

           Reclining comfortably in relaxation, happily content, our union sets my soul at ease. Singing in perfect pitch, resonating throughout the land, a watch of nightingales fills the air with their song. Birds of all varieties accompany them in the harmonies of joyous song. In a triumphant crescendo the Maestro conducting this operatic masterpiece passionately closes on the last measure, the last note echoing in the distance.

           Inspired by their song, I surrender a little more of myself to You as a cool and refreshing sun shower bathes me in tranquility. Peacefully I lay as You whisper to me of love and devotion. Lingering in the mists of Your Presence, my heart drinks in understanding while my mind drowns in the simplicity of it all.

[testing: learning to rest the goodness of God]

11.       Staring into the distance, moss covered pillars reach ever skyward while lazy jagged rocks lay heavily on the earth. The burning rays of the sun pound the landscape. Moving not a muscle, I patiently wait. Hotter the rays shine, the heat relentlessly baking my corrupted flesh. Crackling flames spontaneously combust, scorching brush and earth. Swirling dust demons dervishly whirl, filling the air with ash, blackening my skin. Holding onto Jesus, I patiently wait. Black rolling clouds collect in the sky, thankfully shading my blistering flesh from the sun. Sheets of rain smother the relentless heat, washing away all the charcoaled ashen remains. Mercifully cleansed, I stand refreshed.

           Peering breathlessly over the edge, pin prickles line the skin draped over my weary bones, excitement even for a tired old soul like me. Across the great expanse cities litter the terrain with gargantuan monuments stretching towards the sky. Dark ominous towers standing like pillars of achievement towards the heavens, glimmer in my eye with invitation. Gently You calm my anxious thoughts and quell the longing within my heart. Quietly, Your reassuring Presence eases my worry as I jump from the ledge knowing You will be there when I fall.

12.       In the distance, victorious laughter mingles with cries of joy as the saddened are elated and the broken are mended. Lucky stars shooting across the blue morning horizon stream across the zenith leaving their carefree imprint. Rhythmic dancers frolic across animated stages before a crowd with smiles in their hearts, sending jubilant laughter swirling through the air. Jingle bells ringing in the distance brings to mind a quiet tranquil time, when snowflakes covered a slumbering landscape with peacefulness soothing the surrender of autumn.

           This winter season brings with it troubled times that cast their long shadows of doubt upon me. Forgiveness lies dormant in this frightened heart. Darkness kidnaps me in a cloak of secrecy. The ebbing tide of lies laps at my will to survive, manipulating the sustaining Word that keeps me alive. Spiraling down into this ever frigid blackness, I fall victim to winter’s cold hand, which prods and pokes at me with the gentleness of a riding crop. I call out to You and am refreshed with the warmth of Your embrace. Tiny snowflakes fall from the sky cooling my now heated skin, rejuvenating what was once old, but has now been made new.

13.       Washes of color spray across

            the empty canvas of my soul,

            painting me with the Fruits

                 of Holy Spirit

                     leaving no area barren,

                     leaving no corner unfruitful,

            letting no darkness harbor its long shadow,

            creating me into a masterpiece

            filled with love, made to reflect

                 Your light onto a lost world.

 

            Weakness opened the door to my heart

            and Your strength was able to enter.

            Leaning not on my own understanding,

                 but on what You

                      have instilled within me,

                      I acknowledge You

            in all my ways. Your holiness fills

            this refined heart with a goodness

            that comes with the pureness of You.

                 Powerful yet meek, Your integrity

                      flows selflessly through this

                      divine intervention of love.

 

            But still the relentless onslaught of deep

            seeded anger shoots from my soul,

            undeservingly aimed at the righteous

                 and the innocent.

                      Their compassionate hearts

                      endure the battering

            with an understanding forgiveness

            that stems from unconditional love.

 

            My judgmental spirit,

                 always swirling around my insecurities

                      lifts me up superficially.

                      This is the nature of its false power.

            My self-serving, prideful spirit

                 deters me from accepting the help

                      I so desperately need

                      to stay on this road of salvation.

            I cry to all who have ears,

                 and receive

                      their prayers

                      and petitions.

            Humbled and at peace

                 I stand amongst you all

                      with love behind my eyes.

14.       Longing for a fulfilling embrace, waiting in anticipation I lay curled like a newborn suckling its thumb. Mercifully I await Your gentle touch, the loving warmth of Your presence that shelters me in a cloak of devotion, in sweet rapture. The times we spend together put my struggling heart at peace. Your gentle Spirit eases my troubled mind, bringing clarity to my blurred vision. His soft sweet whispers ease the burdens of the day’s trials, lifting the veil that covers the eyes of my heart. When we are one, I am free. Together at last, I am at peace.

15.       “O Heavenly Father, thank you for being so tangible and for loving me so passionately. Thank you for the transforming love of Jesus, who invites all into Your family. Pour Your Holy Spirit deeply into me and reveal to me all that makes up who I am in Christ. Teach me to dismantle the barriers that divide and to seek what unites. For Your Glory and Honor. Amen.”

[redemption: learning to live as a new creation in Christ]

16.       Who understands this road to redemption? To give up this control that I hold so dearly will take the innocence of a child and the courage of a lion. In this world of vengeance, blood is shed and wine flows down the throats of kings and thieves alike, neither any better than the next. Waiting on the Lord, angels stand in anticipation ready to

obey the commands of Christ. Meanwhile, saints following the movements of the Holy Spirit, fervently share with the broken-hearted the peace and joy that is their salvation from this miserable sin ridden world. I have chosen to accept this freely given salvation and am now homeward bound with the everlasting love of the only begotten son of God, Jesus, guarding my heart and my mind.

17.       When I came into the fold, Your eyes of Truth enveloped me in a shining light that blinded my doubting spirit. As I contemplated life, Your love flowed freely through the barriers of my defenses. Sheltered in trust, in the warmth of reassurance, a peaceful light radiates from above this sea of serenity. Within the midst of this divine intervention, the Holy Spirit came to dwell within me. He replaces all I’ve ever known in this life and of this world with the heated fire of the Truth.

           His presence softens the years of loneliness and doubt. Gently He soothes the rock that is this hardened heart. Like the rays of a rising sun, His nurturing light spears through the cold darkness as loving and healing hands commence their work of redemption. The birth of forgiveness finally begins to grow and nurture its disobediently defiant counterpart.

           The self-serving nature that is inherent to my nature with its relentless grasp enslaves me to earthly delights, hopelessly binding me in addiction, to idolatry. The laughter that once filled this heart now hangs heavy with the knowledge of the sin that riddles me. All the joys that I once held so dearly now encumber me with pain and guilt. Slashing and gnashing teeth grind at the intellect of my battered and captured mind, threatening to jab me into rebellion. But, Your merciful loving light from above penetrates this dark slimy residue that lingers after a fall, as I am brought to me knees like a beggar.

17.       Feeling like a prisoner on a cross Atlantic voyage, my heart yearns for freedom. My soul cries out to all who’ll listen, but falls on deaf ears. The selfishness that runs rabid in all Your children pierces me like fiery arrows, puncturing my gift of a soul. The faith that I long for in them is just out of reach. I can taste a sweetness on my lips, but their fruit produces no juice. The love I feel for them pains my heart and soul, while their daggers plunge deeper into my back. Each offense pulls from me a little piece of my spirit which is slow in healing. The Holy Spirit comforts me after each barrage, soothing the wounds.

           Hovering over other fallen souls, You shine Your Righteousness into them, raising them up from even the deepest pits of despair. Resurrected by Your light with Your holiness now flowing through their veins, one by one they rise to kneel before You. In the light of Your mercy all have come into servitude not as slaves to a Master, but as children to a Father; “and you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free” (John 8:32 NLT).   Knowing the Truth Himself is to know freedom.

           My true self, filled with the goodness of God, nurtured with His love and compassion, is ever kind with my dark and greedy self. Patiently he waits, waiting for what has always been beyond me. This struggle of the strong is the effortless walk of the meek with whom You shower all Your wonderful gifts and graces. Ever hopeful and ever faithful are Your promises. Your Eternal Flame that burns deep within my chest is a constant reminder of the love that You have for me and the faithfulness that Your love brings into my heart. The goodness that is You envelops me with a joy and with a transcending peace that words could never describe or a mind ever comprehend. Upon compassionate wings Your messengers bring good tidings to all, uplifting them in needful times as Holy Spirit plants His fruit across a despondently disenchanted vanishing generation. The children of every race are united in this calling.

[the Call: entering into a life of love]

18.       “Walk with Me through the fields of love. Sing to Me your song, breathlessly I’ll listen. Whisper to me your sorrows, your hopes and your dreams, set them before Me for all to see. Do not be embarrassed, ashamed, but set free.

           Let Me wipe the beads of sweat from your brow; lay your weary head on My shoulder, let Me soften your heart with My Spirit. Find refuge in the peaceful folds of My mind, and dance through all that I have created. Know the love that I have for you, and pass it on to another.”          

19.       Pilgrimaging to a most sacred place, I hold my heart in hand. Written upon it are the tales of my walk, the trials and tribulations that bind and release me. My heart holds all the many riddles and challenges that have slacked my thirst. Bound to this plane of worldliness, I walk upon this rolling path of enlightenment. Prudently I tread with kindness from a healing heart, with You forever showing me the lighted way. Harbored deep within my sleeping soul lies the dream of a man that I wish I could be.

20.       In exhaustion I crawl through this life with a dignity that only a loving Father could ever appreciate. The hunger for a reassuring Word to calm and relax my racing mind bounces through the hardened enclosure that encases my brain. All too quickly though, anxiety overcomes me with sinfulness. In a fevered panic, searching through the many drawers that hold my memories, I rifle through stacks of paper, scattering, shredding, and cluttering the floor with misinterpretation.

           Slowly, leafing through the debris You orderly catalog the strewn papers, organizing and filing the meaningful and inconsequential debris accordingly. The chronological ordering of a chaotic life is the current task at hand. Ever time consuming this process of elimination to regroup, Your patience knowing no bounds or limitations compiles all the information. Binding the final version of the book of my life, You carefully write in a hopeful ending to this sacred romance. Countless new discoveries of the truth unfold as the latest chapters are written in prose. Your gentle words guide my every move, perpetually pushing me back towards You. In the farthest reaches of my mind, I see Your face. Your Presence fills me with the knowledge of forgiveness, swaddling me in love and cradling me in peace. Into a stormless sleep I cede.

[harvest: the joyful fruit of a devotional life]

21.       Blossoming before the Eyes of God, the bountiful seed from a year past has taken root deep in my heart. The winds of change have cultivated the soil uprooting the weeds of guilt and shame while the rainy season of repentance has prepared the soil for planting. I have been humbled.

           The burning ball of fire rises high in the sky marking the beginning of the new season. The rays of warm sunshine tenderly replenish any nutrients lost in the recycling. Daily You walk through the garden calling out my name, inviting me to linger and talk with You. Daily, new blossoms bloom, filling the gardenscape with new foliage. 

           Feeling wonderfully refreshed as this flourishing garden grows within my heart, You continually fill me with a peaceful hope while nurturing the ever-important seeds of faith. You walk among the thriving foliage daily, speaking in reassuring tones of love and holiness. You prune and preen the deadness away making way for new growth as I ripen on the Vine. Cultivating with sweet justice You spread peace and joy throughout my soul. In quiet stillness, with the setting sun encompassing all, You blanket me in peaceful serenity.

22.       Quietly You stare and watch me grow, watering and nurturing as only a Parent can. Rising with the dawn, I stretch myself skyward. My face deepens a rosy ruby in the sun as I raise my limbs ever higher, thirsting for the warm embrace of Your love. I am maturing within Your grace. Visitors come and visitors go bringing with them the scents and flavors of others, tempting my sensual desires. This longing for another gets washed away with Your love. Satiated, I curl with the setting sun, content with the sweet scent of freedom helping to ease the pain of surrender.

23.       In the confinement of night I cry out for help, like a knight in shining armor You come to my rescue, filling me with strength and courage. Your Presence reassures me of Your goodness and reaffirms me of Your love. Allowing You to gently nurture me into holiness, encouraged by Your gentleness I share with You my deepest secrets knowing You will judge justly. Enamored with trust, I share with You my deepest pain knowing You will stand by me. Excited within Your love, I share with You my triumphs knowing You will rejoice with me. You are forever faithful. I trust in You knowing You will never harm me.

24.       The pristine flow of a mountain stream, the lush green pastures of paradise, a life without strife and pain brings tears of joy to this face now aglow. My heart smiles with renewed vigor as my spirit is set free upon angel wings. Climbing ever higher, aloft in the higher troposphere within the temporal clouds of a spring shower, I am lifted up and out of this realm. To relax here with You, I am at peace.

           When we sit together with no distractions, the beauty in the calm serenity is priceless. Your love penetrates the unwillingness of my soul to be opened up in surrender. When the moment of our union was to be, the timing was flawless. It was Your wisdom that set the foundations of the earth. When the crumbling of all my dreams came to pass, the timing was impeccable. My perseverance is born from the willingness of Holy Spirit to let me suffer. And when it’s time for my death, Your destiny for my life will have been fulfilled.

25.       A melody ringing through the still air brings to mind visions of idyllic waterfalls cascading freely on a bright summer day; where swirling waters sparkle in the rays of a late morning sun. Expanding and contracting the land stretches, letting the deep earth sigh in reprieve. Quietly, midday enters with a whisper, swaggering nonchalantly onto the pristine scene while grasshoppers hurdle the abundance of vegetation and butterflies soar drunkenly from flower to flower with clattery chirping crickets droning out the whispering cool breeze.

           The warmth of the sun heats the rocky flats where basking lizards collect and store their day’s energy. Small mammals scurry to cooler comforts; in shady underbrush they take refuge. High in the trees the familiar sounds of monkeys rattle the canopy of the rainforest. Peace reigns above all as the sweltering heat quiets even the noisiest of tempers.

           Soaring birds perch expectantly; from in the branches they wait for a flash of movement. Rodents risking their peering eyes dash for new cover across no man’s land. Confidently hopping from the treetops the sharp eyes of a hawk zero in on the impulsive prey and with quickness snatches its lunch, sending the other would be soldiers to their foxholes.

           In perfection life resumes with the setting of the sun, the warm vibrant colors basking the land in earth tones of old. Life exhales its baited breathe in a soft delicate breeze touching all of creation. Birds start to fly, animals start to scamper, and the natural order of life resumes merrily where it left off as the oppression of the day’s heat mercifully lifts.

           Darkness descends with the changing of the guard. Accompanied by millions of her friends, twinkling above it all, the luminous silvery moon glows in all her splendor. The quiet stillness of night soothes the soul as the droning sound of chirping crickets lulls the minds of the living.

26.       A divine untainted love that cleanses even the darkest of hearts returns to bloom in the most remote places where villagers gathering around drum circles dance to tribal rhythms blinded by pride, where warriors raise their weapons and shake their fists displaying their fierceness while declaring in their native tongues the greatness of themselves.

           Arriving on these barren doorsteps in hope-filled baskets God’s gifts and blessings overflow with love, shine with the Good News of the Truth. Shooting stars falling from the evening sky shower the heavy-laden with dreams of hope. Faithful travelers from another place rise above this world of deceit, reflecting the redeeming light of Christ. A foundation built with this everlasting love spans the globe with a God fearing people bonded in genuine community and care. These Children of Light rejoicing in Holy Spirit, joyously sing Alleluia to the heavens with smiles in their hearts and faithfulness in their souls as they proclaim Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth.

[celebration: worthy is the Lamb of God]

27.       “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come”  Revelation 4:8b (NKJV) yells the herald from afar, “Hear this Good News, bring in His good tidings, and embrace the offerings from the Lord Jesus Christ that quench all who are thirsty. Listen to His words: ‘Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying. I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star’” Revelation 23:12-16 (NASB).

           Melodies of miracles dance upon clouds where dark shadows were once triumphant, but are now cast down. A brilliant sunset splatters the heavens with a multitude of colors, sending pure delight jumping from heart to heart. In awe the warriors of the Son kneel in reverence. Their display of honor and adoration warms the heart, filling it with fresh faith. Joy fills those that witness, uplifting them to the most high where they stand trembling with hands raised in worship. There is beauty in a completely healed soul kneeling in reverence to a humble King whose hands and feet were pierced in fear and anger. In glory He reigns forever, shepherding His children home where they dance unashamed and radiant; fully free.

           For the rest of Eternity I will dance, spinning through the Garden of Eternal Life, singing praises to a kind and gentle King whose fingerprint touches my soul. My purpose has finally been made known. For His pleasure with love have I been sealed and covered with Everlasting joy, beaming with the love of Him who is love.

           “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promises as some understand slowness. He is patient, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with His promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness” 2 Peter 3:9-13 (NIV).

28.       Amongst all God’s wonderful creations under the sun and sky, I fall to my knees in the twilight of my years. I quietly talk to God about the trials of life, thanking Him for never leaving my side. Love passes through me like beams of light, penetrating and piercing everything that stands in its way. Hope is fully restored as my remaining doubt is shown the Truth. Filled with fresh faith and clearness of thought, my heart and soul are lifted up to the Almighty Father. Mercifully my will is finally completely bound to His. I pass on into Eternity in breathless worship whispering words of praise. Sanctified by His grace, carried on into completion, I am a new creation with a new body and a new name. Within His holy presence I now stand.

           On the golden streets of Heaven I am on my knees quietly talking to God about my joyous new life, thanking Him for always being by my side. Basking in the rays of wisdom, letting it fill me with understanding, I stand at my full stature in the mists of a golden city.  The prophecy is fulfilled within this Epiphany moment. All that once was turns white hot, explodes in a glorious blinding light that sends cascading sparks to the farthest reaches of the heavens. In an instant all vision vanishes from my eyes and the Age of Christ begins.

29.       Epilogue: At the gates of Heaven lines of people wait patiently with their hearts in hand. Judgment comes when the Savior reads what is written upon them. Purified are the souls of salvation whose hearts were torn, but are now mended. Humble and contrite are the hearts of the saints whose perseverance rings clear throughout the ages. Recorded in the Book of Life are the names of all the saved sinners. Written on their hearts are the tales of all their deeds done in life. Nothing is hidden from the eyes of God whose fiery gaze purifies our unclean souls with His holiness. All creation comes to kneel before Jesus Christ the Son of God.

           “Dressed in a robe reaching down to His feet and with a golden sash around His chest, His head and hair white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes a blazing fire. He stands with feet like bronze glowing in a furnace; He speaks with a voice like the sound of rushing waters and out of His mouth comes a sharp double-edged sword. His right hand holds seven stars and His face shines like the sun in all its brilliance” Revelation 1:13b-16 (NIV).

           Shimmering in the light of the Son, lines upon lines of souls kneel in wait. Justly the Right Hand of God judges each soul accordingly. His Almighty Word streams from His lips with authority, cutting through the density of sin within each soul. One by one each soul is carried away in the arms of an Angel of the Lord. Finality rides upon the backs of these angels who carry each soul to its final destination. Only some are going to the Promised Land.

           “After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in Heaven, saying, ‘Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God! For true and just are His judgments, because He has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication; and He has avenged on her the blood of His servants shed by her.’ Then a voice came from the throne saying, “Praise our God, all you His servants and those who fear Him, both small and great!” And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thundering, saying, “Alleluia! For our Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready and to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints” Revelation 19:1, 2, 5-8 (NKJV).

           “Now I saw Heaven standing open, and behold a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called the Word of God. The armies in Heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” Revelation 19:11-16 (NKJV).


suffocatingSOUL

What is it that defines you? Throughout my life I’ve allowed a variety of things to form me. To use biblical language, I’ve allowed a variety of things become my potter, rather than allowing God, the Creator and Giver of life, be my Potter. For the better part of my life drugs formed and defined me. But, even before I started using drugs, I allowed anger and bitterness to control the way I lived my life which when left unattended steadily grew into hated and vengeance. Some of the outward fruit of this showed itself through lying, stealing and eventually drug use while inwardly this hatred and vengeance slowly, yet, relentlessly ate away at my soul; suffocating it from faith, hope and love.

The day I came to faith (solely by the grace of God), the fragrance of Christ invaded my being and a miracle happened, I became a “new creation in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17). From that day forward my spirit became eternally joined with the Holy Spirit and He has begun to bring healing, salvation, redemption and restoration to my decaying soul. In many ways the process of sanctification has been like a great airing out of my soul. No longer does hatred and vengeance control the way I live, but rather peace, love and kindness. No longer am I defined by drug addiction, but rather God is my Potter and His Truth defines who I am. Faithfully, He has been purifying my soul by peeling away the many layers of sin that has been suffocating my soul. Do you feel like your soul is suffocating?

The bible says that Jesus offers freedom to those who choose to believe and following Him. I have experienced (as many others have) this freedom. As the Apostle Paul puts it, freedom from the slavery of following the law (Galatians 5:1ff) which can be interpreted as freedom from the yoke of religion. The Creator of Heaven and Earth is a relational God who loves, likes and enjoys spending time with His creation. I believe a lot of people believe God to be a distance, stoic God who angrily puts up with us. But, I don’t think there could be anything further from the Truth. “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5:5). This same Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 8:11) will also teaches us how to live a life out from under the law (Galatians 5:18). A life based on Truth (John 14:26) which Jesus says will set us free (John 8:32).

My prayer is that by God’s grace the Holy Spirit would help you to surrender more of your life to Jesus, so that He can breathe greater measures of faith, hope and love into the areas of your soul that are suffocating. I proclaim freedom over you in Jesus Name, Amen.


FIRE

“Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of the sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.”

Romans 8:5-8 (NIV).

Being Set Free

by Gerald T. Ching

FIRE: In fear, anger, sadness and rebellion my soul whimpered, screamed and cried out while surrendering to God. Through the constant filling of His Holy Spirit and the unending lavishing of His grace, I am learning to let go of my addictions.

[origins: the battle begins]

1.         Across the land, powerful ebony monoliths jut from the charred surface of this existence. A new star, a glimmering beacon melts into the rising sun. Anxiously chattering, nervously hacking at possibility, freedom seekers ascending from the pit, bitterly deliberate. They claw at their lethargic minds, sharpening that which has been dormant since the fall of Man. Their shadows drag like bags of bricks. Heaping in disarray, building a feeble, flimsy, and false foundation in hopeless uncertainty from a corrupted and demented generation, depositing and withdrawing emotional guilt-ridden baggage in hopes of a cash advance: $$$. Anxiety burns through their cables of liquid life.

2.         Born unto this plane of existence unasked, brought into life unannounced, I blindly live in this world while manipulating my way through a fallen creation. Down in this deep tunnel of endless darkness, I sit and ponder this barbaric world, the bottomless pit of despair that is my life. In a vicious cycle my pain recycles itself, binding me to this world of addiction. Yearning for the release from this prison, I am forever damned to want what I cannot have. Stifled and bound, I am manacled to the rigid board of longing. I am ashen and deadened, like a still life awaiting the life giving touch of an Artist. The curse of Adam, the first fallen man, in him our burdens rested, and in him our dreams failed. Taking responsibility for sin and receiving forgiveness is an ongoing contingency that has survived since the beginning. The jealousy of Cain brought murder into the world, and through him the line of hope ended in destruction. Beginning with Seth who replaced Abel, men began to call on the name of the Lord, and the line of God’s faithful people began again.

3.         Your peaceful Spirit shields me, guarding me from lusting bitter hearts that fiend for power, seeking to be gods. Your gentle reassuring whispers speak of another life, one without pain, one full of peace, one that I long to know. Together we walk through this debilitating existence with You whispering guiding truths to me, easing this burden of being lost and broken.

            Clutching a pristine pellucid orb to my chest in which lays the hope of an all-consuming fire of forgiveness. Swirling love streams through the depths of this forgiveness, combining the many layers that compose its symphony. In triumphant crescendos, climactic waves rattle the chamber, threatening to burst the protective bubble. Shadowy haunts scatter; dark and grimy their vigor dissipates in the spin cycle of this cleansing. Drowning in this whirlpool, I spiral down bleached white as the plugs get pulled, draining me into oblivion.

4.         Awakened by a distant light, my outstretching arms and arched back reach ever outward, with muscles straining like a rubber band on the verge of busting. Who’s there? Encompassed by a brilliant light a slight silhouette emerges emitting a radiant glow, like clashing radioactivity throbbing towards destruction. Will you hold me? Red-hot steel pins travel through every pore, a scorching sensation much like the piercing rituals that fill my days, converge at my beating core, my blacken core of life, sending tremors through my cables of liquid life. Will my mind finally rest? Stripped of my flesh, the ever-brightening light engulfs me in a sea of serenity smoothing my being like a sheet of dry ice that burns like fire. Take me, take me over the edge. The light wavers like the belly of a laughing man, the heat intensifies, and my light fades. Where am I? Who are you? What have I done? Wracked in turmoil, wringing my hands numb, shivering in the coldness that doubt brings, I start walking.

[first strike: the enemy attacks]

5.         The hate monger that runs with abandon through my broken spirit shakes the foundations with his ridiculing maniacal laughter, plummets me down even further into a cocoon of seclusion. I crawl back behind the wall that divides us, hesitant to peer over the ledge again. This debilitating struggle hinders my walk, sending me crying like a newborn hungry for its mother’s breast.

6.         Listen to my heart that screams with sincerity, accept my apology for the length of my exile; forgive my indifference to the longing I feel for You. Stitch my torn spirit with healing threads from Your heart. Pull me into a warm embrace and hold me longer than I am able, hold me for as long as You are able.

7.         A sudden movement awakens my senses bringing forth the blinding stark reality of life. What is to become of me? Powerful forces working overtime to save the undeserving, resort to tactical maneuvers heard of only in antiquity. Something thought lost is regained, and something gained is lost again. Bombarded by the lingering words from the Holy Spirit, my present state of affairs stands in the mists of limbo. Like the riddle of the sphinx, the convicting nature of the message strikes confusion to my heart and mind. Young and restless with the knowledge of a predestined future haunting me, my actions reflect the carelessness of youth. Mature in the ways of the world, street-smart senses hinder the growing inner child of my soulful spiritual new self; the steadfast words from the transcendental Spirit forever echo in the back of my befuddled mind.

             The deciphering of the riddle becomes an all-consuming task. Little by little the puzzling brain teaser starts to unfold, my feeble mind trying desperately to grasp the gist of the clues. Drained and at my wits end, the words still a riddle, a voice speaks in quiet tones with authority, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6).

[battlefield: between two worlds]

8.         Rubbing shoulders amongst the thronging masses and feeling a subtly twisted sense of love and affection that comes from being in close proximity to others pulls the puppet strings that dangle from my troubled heart. This sensation brings me back to the days of innocence when life was truly joyous and I saw beauty abounding in all things. I am reminded of when I felt the feeling of oneness without knowing anything less and the feeling of trueness without knowing anything more, when I knew what it was to be at peace. This feeling of serene tranquility that was a gift to me has been lost while I journeyed along my impersonal walk through life, caught up in the excitement of life that speeds by at a blinding pace. Sometimes, in quiet moments, when my subconscious gives my consciousness time to sit up and listen, I can almost feel that kind Hand that gently pushes us all onto the road to enlightenment.

9.         With a quickness I falter upon this rocky ground, inspiration is lost to the thief in the night. I trudge knee-deep through sand and soil, my momentum slowing as I slither like a serpent through this muck and mire. Surrounded by alluring curiosities, sold into slavery, helplessly I am chained in bondage, addicted. I have been reduced to a loaf of bread and set out for market. I am bound in a constant state of emergency which leaves me in a condition of sleeplessness forever searching for the magical formula that will cure me of this sickness. Shout to me so even a deaf man will hear. Show me again and again so even a blind man can find his way. Let me feel Your Presence so I will doubt no longer, for doubt brings out the hatefulness of my loneliness.

10.       Striving for greatness in an evolving world, I stand frozen in the landscape staring at all the evils of a fallen human race. Travelers from near and far stand amongst the ruins of a declining civilization, hounded by their many skeletons that whisper of guilt and despair. Harnessing and hindering all in the same instant, stopping me cold in my tracks, my own demons tempt and tease my trivial existence.

              In this world of regrets, I am bound to chains of self-pity and greed. Circling like a hungry caged lion awaiting its next meal, this insatiable burning passion for more incinerates the already addictive nature of my soul. Wandering the streets of this decaying world longing for fulfillment, searching for the answers to the mysteries of life, my mind convulses, like an epileptic caught in a stroboscope, each thought flashes in stark skeletal contrast laying bare the sinfulness of my heart. The hustle and bustle of these thoughts cloud the images of a hopeful future.

              Music plays on in the distance, the band unknown yet familiar, melodic melodies dance and sway through the towering concrete jungle of my mind. The voice of the crooner jumps from the rooftops with his intense ramblings, striking the pavement deep within my heart. His words caress the deep wounds that feverishly fester, exacerbating the ache that slices through the rippling waves of my soul. With wicked thoughts pumping through my mind and this deep seeded loneliness bubbling in my soul, ugly after ugly lie engraves itself upon my heart, this relentlessness never ceasing, this battle ever raging.

             Standing naked with selfishness still polluting my veins black as mud. Prideful actions choke the arteries so vital to life, cluttering my heavily bound heart. My worldly ways hinder my growth but still You hold on. You cling jealously to nothing but me. Out chasing my own self for the prize of life; running the mile in four minutes flat, broken and beaten, picked-up and pounded, sold and forgotten, hung out to dry. Dry desert heat blasts erupt from the furnace of life, corroding layers of needfulness. Propped up before an onslaught of eyes, I am exposed, a conflicted man; first out of the gate, but not willing to commit.

11.                   Searching for relief –

                                    a release from this prison,

                                    fleshy hands grope

                        with minds of their own.

                        Strength is exhausted

                                    seeping away quickly,

                                    a shivering quivering corner

                                    calling me closer.

                        Burdened with sin –

                                    temptation bound,

                                    leather straps tightening

                        hung upside down.

                        Searching through riddles,

                                    lost not yet found,

                                    cultivating sorrow

                        with a broken down plow.

                        Surrounded by barb,

                                    thorn and bristle,

                                    tender skin prickled

                        thistle after thistle.

                        Plucking and pulling

                                    at overgrown weeds

                                    clearing the way

                        for a new crop of seeds.

                        The refreshing sound of trumpets

                                    resounds in the mind,

                                    quieting the battle

                        that rages unkind.

                        Peace is restored

                                    as darkness flickers away.

                                    A daily ritual,

                        the gift of being saved.

12.       Sitting and pondering my life with victories beginning to finally outshine my downfalls, life paces on with time ever constant. Idly flipping through the pages of memory, flickering images of days long gone cloud the eyes of my weary soul. A lifetime seems to have come and gone with unspoken bonds made to violating acts committed. I’m tired, so very tired. What is there left to see? What is there left to do?

              In wonder, I sit contemplating this dilemma toiling over my life. Sitting by myself, licking my wounds for past indiscretions, wallowing in the mists of self-pity, I ponder the life of others and wonder of their past indiscretions. Do they wallow as I in self-pity? Feverishly I search for answers to it all. Anxiously I ponder what is to become, pressure-cooking my exhausted brain; soup for lunch, which is my liquefied mind.

[revolution: waking the dead]

13.       Brooding over this unforgiving life, juggling all that I’ve learned with all I’ve been told, I realize that all this is just temporary. Having to justify everything just to get through this life means I’m living a life of lies, a life in perversion. In the end, all that I’ll have to show is a black heart and a rotting soul; ring, ring, ring, the bell tolls. Deeply resounding, this ringing rattles my spine splintering fragments of weary bone. Angry booming voices shatter my will to live. Poisonous smoke billows throughout my veins, darkening the light within my heart. In a crumpled mess I crash to a halt with guttering muttering filling the room resounding, mumbling sweet nothings to a body decayed. Spinning round for hours, blankly I stare, slowly sinking into a pit of despair.

14.       Shattered windows cloud my vision; shards of glass protrude from my fatigued feet from trampling upon my own brokenness. I stumble past a leering and jeering crowd, ashamed and guilt-ridden. I trip over myself, sending my spirit reeling. I turn back to see myself frightened and confused. Growls and roars deafen my ears; I falter, falling to a knee. Swaying in the coldness, my life starts to fade, sweet oblivion rising before my very eyes. The crowd begins to disappear taking all of this away, leaving me spent and shivering in space.

15.       Waking to the screaming silence, the deafening sonic boom shatters my eardrums. The madness begins and the light fades. Huddling within myself to stop the cold, soulless eyes pierce my mind, bringing me ever so closer to the edge. A sound, just a sound – to break this ear piercing silence; seconds tick silently on; minutes tick ever so slower. Is this Heaven? Is this Eternity? Is this tranquility? Is this serenity? A sound, just a sound – to end this madness; I wish I could scream, even just whimper. I long to hear even the endless echo of a dripping faucet. Reaching rotting hands climb deeper into my soul scorching my will, dimming the light. A sound, just a sound – a sound, just one sound…

              Chaos erupts, the answer to prayer or the lie of the eavesdropper? Boxing round and round again, slammed to the mat again and again, dark ribbons encircle the windows of my face. Caught in the grips of envy, locked-down in jealous rage while wicked thoughts run hateful and cruel with free-for-all fists flying with blind abandoned shame; I am lost amongst myself waning for Truth. I stagger for stability, only to crash to the mat again. Sapped of all strength, weakened to my knees, grasping for scales to balance this bout, the promise of salvation comes with the ringing of the bell. The fighting ceases for a time.

[solace: breakthrough]

16.       Green is the color that fills my heart, clouded as I look with sinful eyes. Salivating they drool with tears full of lust and greed, coveting everything in sight. Blue is the color that fills my spirit, in sadness paddling further out to sea, hopelessly losing strength, down-trodden, beaten and battered, drowning in sorrow and guilt. Black is the color of my soul, the many layered depths charred by sinfulness. Hand fed by my own flesh, in a putrid stench it lays in self-pity. This darkness oozes through the pores of my face with poisonous thoughts clouding my judgments of the day. Pain surrounds my spirit, bruising it a purplish-black, threatening to forever taint me with this stigmata.

             A shower of soft delicate rain beats down upon my skin, soothing the bruising, alleviating the malignancy. Children run playfully through these April showers, laughing with unashamed abandon. Their honesty shines through like beacons of light. Oh to have faith like a child, inspiration to us all. Lightning strikes to the core of my being, jumbling my thoughts, shocking them into submission. Sunshine breaks through these dark clouds lifting the burdens of this everyday life, warming my soul and refreshing my skin, coloring me in earthy tones.

17.       Listening to the bombarding voices that ricochet off the walls of my mind, I bounce around the inner sanctuary of my soul shouting at the top of my lungs with tears in my eyes, “Why?” With the echoing of my own voice drifting to silence, Your sympathetic peaceful groaning touches my heart in gentle caresses, filling it with love and joy, warming the core with an engaging fire, melting its frosty covering.

             Peacefully Your kindness gently arrives on pillow soft breezes that blow by the closed shutters of my turned down house. Longing for entry, the gentle rapping stirs the Keeper of this heart. Stretching from his devotional position, fanning at the thick hazy smoke of remembrance, the shell of a lost love lays lifeless on the floor, yearning to be resurrected. Striding to the closed shutters, He unlocks the latches throwing open the windows to this heart. A patient love comes fluttering in breathing life back into the deadness. Warm rays flood the many rooms with joy and understanding, lighting the house with unfailing love. Deep in my heart, the found never lost Keeper is busy with preparations for an eternal destiny.

[confusion: the metamorphosis]

18.       Pouring my heart out to the world, hoping the words fill the minds of all with songs of encouragement and inspiration, I ramble on with fervor, yet am bound to walk life as a recluse. In seclusion, addicted to distraction, my lonely soul is set apart from the gathering by sin, lost in self-pity.

            Television waves radiating the latest in all things indulgent microwave and tenderize my brain, whipping it into a mushy conglomerate, my temporary placebo to this terminal sickness. Programmed and then reprogrammed, my heart gets laminated with a glossy finish, sealing in the stench that steams off of it. Slick, shiny and pleasing to the eye, my heart now hangs prettily for all to see in a noose from around my neck.

             My heart seeks a peace that never comes, for my mind battles for control every second of my life. Heart felt sighs make my mind rage evermore for that control, never relinquishing the battle, for the heart is weak and the mind is strong. But in truth, the reality of it all makes my heart cry which sends my mind reeling, running for cover into the folds of solitude. The peace I have lies in solitude, which is also my pain. The fear of belonging is the source of this pain. My sanity hangs on the threads of a soon to be lost button.

19.       Bound within my heart lie the tools for destruction, and the thirst for power is still fresh upon my blackened soul. Racing through life like a junkie hell bent for a fix, I gamble my soul in disregard to my conscience. Dark shadows haunt my mind, antagonizing my existence as Angels of Light battle on my behalf. Spinning out of control, swirling to dark depths, I am surrounded by hate and guilt. Riding through this storm of a life, You rip through the very fabric of my existence. Lightning strikes; I cower. Thunder peels; I shiver. Hail rains down upon me weakening my will, breaking me down to the very simplicity of my being.

20.       A spark flickers in a breath bringing forth the stark realities of Truth. Not just the bewildering but the mortifying awakenings caught only in glimpses stroke the deep ache that incinerates barriers and knows no bounds. Traveling through shafts and plummeting down crevices, it scorches a path that shatters my will exposing its core blackened by sin. Swimming through the depths of the whirlpools in my mind brings me closer to the source of this recurring torment that haunts like a poltergeist. Hanging in a closet, my maggot-ridden flesh is stripped exposing sinew, tendon and bare bone. The splintering of ivory and the milking of marrow bleed the soul of all its dark forces that welcomes with open arms this warm soft pumping sensation. I am covered in Your grace as I stand refreshed. A new horizon fills my vision with the shedding of this worldly skin.

21.       Quietly a reassuring Voice begins to gently nibble at my ears, easing the burdens that weigh heavy in my heart. With Your encouraging loving Word You minister and nurture my flagrant spirit, helping me to curb my maturing appetite. Pulsating surges full of excitement tempt and tantalize the longing that resides deep within my soul, threatening to interrupt this flow of Righteousness, Your gift to me that draws me out of the depths of darkness.

[renewal: the faithfulness of Love]

22.       In reminiscence, the days of my youth roll on by in thick dark billowing clouds, threatening to cast their impending doom upon my present state of mind. Deep pondering and long meditative sessions of quietness are my only times of peace; then I am thrown back into the throng of things.

23.       Down pouring rain falls in inundating sheets upon the vaporous streets of an evolving world, the hustle and bustle of competitiveness stifling necessary spiritual growth. The Gospel of Peace looms in the air threatening the existence of the frantic daily routine. Mad commotion erupts into panic as the words hit home.

             Fleeing for my life, I run back to You. Balking and faltering upon the last steps, I crawl the last part of the way, I rise to my knees. In the throngs of this awakening, seething lies crackle the air. Acerbic and piercing, the words spear my spirit, leaving gaping holes that long to be filled whole. Slowly they seep. Attacked from all angles, I am beaten. Hold me with Your steel grip, never releasing me from the safe haven of Your breast. Fiery missiles sizzle on impact against the coolness of Your Holiness that refreshingly soothes the battle raging within the temple of my mind. Peacefulness descends upon me, and joyously I proclaim of the warmth within my heart. In my defense, You stand interceding on my behalf, Your words of Truth wrapped in love slay me with a blanket of compassion. Darkness is on the run.

24.       Longing for Your guidance, my clouded vision of the future brings me back and forth and then forward and back again. To know all is to be God and to not know is to walk by faith. Theological discussion with my heart helps to ease the tediousness of reason. Quietly, in persistence, Love comes in from all angles threatening to break through these philosophical walls of solitude.

25.       When You are near, I am aware of the sadness that echoes throughout my soul. It bounces off invisible barriers that bind and hinder my healing. Haunted by skeletons from a guilt filled past, continually pestered by shadows that gnaw at my soul, life turns bleak in the reflections of a distant future. In secrecy, off in the darkened corners of my mind, wicked thoughts lay in wait plotting their evil intentions in premeditated violent lawlessness. I am hounded by their deceptive hallucinations of destruction as their offensiveness thrashes about in complete disregard to the whimpers and cries from my exhausted heart, a whisper on a gentle breeze the only amnesty from this accusing criminal injustice against my soul.

26.       Compassionate arms stretch towards the earth with an all-encompassing unconditional love, faithfully following a boy lost to loneliness and enslaved to addiction. Stumbling blindly, fighting with inadequate weapons, and unleashing a pitiful showing of character, I clumsily limp through life. Accusing laughter resounds from the roaring crowd within my mind, pounding even more tears into this sorrow-soaked heart. Seeking shelter from the onset of dejected thoughts colliding like bumper cars spasmodically chasing each other in dizzying circles, I pray with a hopeful heart.

27.       The longer I walk with You, the more aware I become of my own sinfulness. Feeling the shame and guilt of living such a long life as a pagan, I run from You. In the crawl space of my mind I cower, licking my wounds, hiding myself within the confines of my unkempt garden where thistlely weeds grow wildly. Yet, in merciful love You call out to me and by Your Truth I am set free. For You are truly my only salvation; in You alone my hope rests. In finality the reality of this compelling Truth carries my heart into surrender. Deep resounding sobs pour out of my weary soul weakened from the strife of the world. I finally relinquish control to You, allowing the strength of Your Son to enter my heart which brings a transcending peace to my distressed soul. His Presence calms my weary soul, permanently filling me with the love that I’ve come to cherish so dearly. Straight to the very center of my spirit His sweet Voice penetrates, mending my fragileness. Being pulled towards the Light, knowing that I have finally been drawn onto the road to redemption, I hold fast onto Jesus as I fall willingly into Your loving arms.

28.       “I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me. The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation. Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: ‘The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things! The Lord’s right hand is lifted high; the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!’ I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done. The Lord has chastened me severely, but he has not given me over to death” Psalm 118:13-18 (NIV).

             “Had it not been the Lord on my side when men rose up against me, then they would have swallowed me alive, when their anger was kindled against me; then the waters would have engulfed me, the stream would have swept over my soul; then the raging waters would have swept over my soul. Blessed be the Lord, who has not given me to be torn by their teeth. My soul has escaped as a bird out of the snare of the trapper; the snare is broken and I have escaped. My help is the name of the Lord, who made the heaven and earth” Psalm 124:2-8 (NASB).

             “Creation and creatures applaud You, God; Your holy people bless You. They talk about the glories of Your rule, they exclaim over Your splendor. He does what’s best for those who fear Him – hears them call out, and saves them. God sticks by all who love Him, but it’s all over for those who don’t. My mouth is filled with God’s praise. Let everything living bless Him; bless His holy name from now to eternity!” Psalm 145:10-12, 19-21 (The Message).

[mission: empowered by Love]

29.       Epilogue: A hard day’s ride is ahead of me; my mighty stallion is exhausted. Sweat glistens off his pearly white flanks under the burning sun. Commanded by my Lord I ride with confidence, for He has gone ahead of me and has already prepared the way. A refreshing vision of His radiant brilliance sets my mind free. My Companion reassures me throughout this endeavor, helping to uplift my spirit and heart in trying times. Quietly I listen to all He has to say soaking in His sweet discerning words of counsel. His Words refresh my soul like spray from ocean surf; I am renewed.

              Up hills and down valleys we ride, searching for the lost and the broken. Their cries are barely audible through the thickness of their pride. On the winds, loud, clattery, banging, resounds heavily in the air – the babble of the world. In bedlam the chaos churns. People in a confused state wander aimlessly on fruitless pursuits, blinded by the glittering prizes of the world. Their own sinful desires choke the very life from their hearts. The stench from their selfishness vaporously steams off of their souls. Enshrouded in darkness, they dance to the devil’s song.

              Quietly, in secrecy, behind locked doors, saints kneel in prayer before the Almighty Lord who meets with them in their secret gardens away from the babel. They faithfully intercede on behalf of the lost and the broken, who are in reality disguised as the wicked and rotten. Always faithful, the living God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob hears and answers their cries for mercy and justice.

              The thundering of hooves and the snorting of vengeance filling the air swings my mount around. The ringing of my fiery sword blazes high in the sky. A fiery Sword of the Spirit wielded in the hands of an able saint strikes straight to the hearts of all the lost and broken children of a decaying world with the heated fire of the Truth. It pierces through the many layers of lies written upon their hearts. The eclipsing nature of this rebirth by fire rings the melodious bells of Heaven, raining down the joyous love that is all creation’s inheritance.

              The sun in its full glory beats down on the advancing horde. At full charge they come at me with hatred in their hollowed eyes. My Companion speaking in tongues of fire holds me steadfast to the covenants of God. Basking in the Everlasting Light from above, I am strengthened with the Truth that is my triumphant cry. Fortified with His Righteousness, I ride headlong into battle with You by my side. I am a new creation in Christ.

              It has begun…


the gift of holiness

What I’ve been meditating on lately is this: “Holiness as a gift from God, rather than a human achievement.” What goes on inside you when you read this? Does it comfort you or make you anxious? Personally, I’m comforted by this. These words have literally change the landscape of my heart. Because if I believe this to be true (which I do), then my posture relaxes and changes from one of striving to receiving. When I feel like it is all up to me to purify myself and make myself holy, then all the pressure rests on me. But, when I understand that holiness is a gift from God, then all the pressure rests on God. Holiness is a work He does in me to bring Himself glory and not an achievement that I accomplish for His Namesake.

This doesn’t mean that we are totally passive on this journey into holiness. What I want to suggest here is that as God cultivates more holiness in our hearts and lives, we then become stewards of this holiness. Now hear me on this because this is where it gets a bit tricky. It’s really easy to get lost in stewardship where we lose sight of the fact that the holiness being stewarded was a gift of God in the first place: where we begin to believe that it’s our stewardship that’s keeping us holy, rather than it still being a work of God. When this happens the gift becomes a burden to maintain, rather than a gift to enjoy. We must remember that God is the great Gardener of our hearts, who is continually pruning, cultivating and sustaining our holiness. And He will never stop working until the work is complete. If there’s one thing we can learn from the Pharisees, it’s that God is more concerned about our inward transformation, than our outward appearances. An inward transformation that happens only through the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, who sculpts our hearts with God’s Word as He forms Christ in us to the Father’s glory.


a Gospel lifestyle

For most Christians today, there’s way too much hesitation, even resistance and apathy in making that transition from seeing a need to fulfilling that need. I believe the problem is that we live lives that are far from a Gospel lifestyle. A big reason for this is that a lot of our lives are defined by something else other than Jesus. Remember Jesus is the Gospel without Jesus there is no redemption, no forgiveness of sin because it’s only through Christ’s shed blood on the Cross that the entire debt for sin was paid in full. For the disicples, their whole lives were defined by Jesus, every aspect of them. They lived and breathed knowing that Jesus, their Savior and Friend was the Lord of Lords and Kings of Kings (2 Tim 6:15). The One who raised people from the dead (Matt 9; Luke 7; John 11) and washed their feet (John 13). The One who they saw resurrected from the dead and then ascended into heaven. The One who breathed the Holy Spirit on them (John 20:22) and sent tongues of fire to rest upon them (Acts 2:3). 

What is it that is defining your life?

     – Is it your job?

     – Is it money or material things?

     – Is it your family and friends?

     – Is it the affirmation and praises of others?

     – Is it the attention of the opposite sex?

     – Is it your fears?

  

1 One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. 2 Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. 6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. (Acts 3:1-10 NLT)

 

The more a person’s life reflects that they are completely defined by Jesus, the more quickly they will be able to act redemptively in any given situation. Everything Jesus did was redemptive and the more a believer’s life is defined by the Gospel, the quicker they will act to address a need as Peter and John did in the lame man’s life. They will be able to move right from seeing a need to fulfilling that need by acting redemptively with the power of the Gospel. There was a fluidity that Peter showed as he moved from seeing the lame man, to healing him in the power and authority of Jesus’ Name. We don’t read any hesitation. Peter didn’t have to spend time thinking about what to do. He didn’t have to talk to John about it or they didn’t invite the man to the temple with them. No, Peter just looked at the man and did what needed to be done.

 

I believe that when believers are completely defined by Jesus, they will be able to move fluidly in the power of the Gospel, in the power and authority of the Name of Jesus. But, too often, I hear and see people not acting or hesitating; myself included. But, the more my life has become defined by Jesus, meaning the more I’ve begun to live a Gospel lifestyle, the more Jesus has included me in His ongoing ministry of redemption here on earth. I’ve literally, seen people set free by the power of God. It’s one thing to watch miracles happen, but to actually be involved in that process takes it to whole other level.  

 

Now how a Gospel lifestyle is lived out is going to look differently from believer to believer. But, at the core of a Gospel lifestyle will be these characteristics:

     – Faith                  – Love             – Peace              – Self-sacrifice

     – Forgiveness        – Prayer          – Goodness         – Kindness

     – Redemption        – Joy               – Hope               – Self-control

 

 

Now, this list is neither exclusive nor exhaustive. Maybe you’d add a few other characteristics to the list. The point here is this: The more a believer’s life is defined by Jesus, the more their lives will reflect these core characteristics of the Gospel. But, in order for these elements to be more tangible in a believer’s life, there needs to be surrender and submission to God. We are all in process with the Lord and His desire is to glorify Himself in every aspect of our lives by bringing us into the fullness of His grace and redeeming everything in our lives. This means we need to be daily positioning ourselves to be transformed by God, so that more areas of our lives will be integrated with the Gospel. This means we need to be actively surrendering to God. The more we surrender, the more God establishes His rightful place as the Lord of our hearts and the more fully Gospel integrated we become. Jesus needs to be sitting at the throne of every part of our lives. Make it your mission today to begin living a Gospel lifestyle! 


a rhythm of prayer

I was talking with a couple friends and I asked them what kind of rhythm would describe their prayer life: One friend said he felt like he was constantly skipping a beat. It was like he was caught in this broken rhythm that felt like he was taking a step forward, but then would get bumped back or to the side. Another friend said he feels like an erratic metronome that fluctuates from super fast tempos to slow dragging beats. He says he does pray throughout his day (slow beats), but there’s not a lot of passion. The times that he feels passionate about prayer (super fast beats) are when he goes to prayer meetings or conferences. Where are you at on the metronome?

 

What’s the rhythm of your prayer life?

     – Is it a driving techno beat or a hypnotic trance beat?

     – Is it a slow classic rock anthem beat? 

     – Is it a fast two minute punk beat?

     – Is it a slow bluesy beat or a catchy country beat?

     – Maybe it’s a complicated jazz fusion number?

Whatever it is, is it a rhythm that keeps you in step with the Holy Spirit in your life? If not what needs to change?

 

There’s this music technique called “syncopation.” Maybe some of you know what it is, but for those of us who don’t, like I didn’t, here’s what it means: Syncopation is the accent of a beat that is normally unaccented.  It is deliberately upsetting a beat by placing a rhythmic accent on an unexpected beat or a weak beat in music. How many times has God forced you to change up the rhythm of your life because of an unexpected surprise, both good and bad; or stretched you by putting you in an uncomfortable “weak” position. Syncopation exists in order to add emphasis on certain notes to liven up a beat or rhythm. Maybe God is trying to liven up your life by bringing in needed change. Regular beats with the same accents can get boring; adding syncopation changes the feel by adding accents to places where you would not expect. Doesn’t that sound like something God would do?

 

We all have blind spots in our lives and only God can reveal those things that are hidden from us. And more often than not He gets our attention by changing up the rhythm of our lives by breaking us out of our routines of comfort, so that we can begin living the fullness of life that Jesus promises us (John 10:10). It’s real easy for us to get so caught up in the temporal side of life and forget that true living involves eternity where believers begin witnessing the Kingdom of God breaking into their families, their friends, their neighborhoods and towns. I believe God brings syncopation into the rhythm of our lives in order to get us grooving to a new rhythm, an eternal rhythm; one that involves the glory of God and the reconciliation of all things through the shed blood of Jesus Christ and the glory due His Name because of His suffering.

 

I believe the Holy Spirit wants to orchestrate a rhythm of prayer for every believer’s life. But, we need to start making ourselves available to God, so that He can begin to birth in our lives this rhythm of prayer. Don’t resist the movement of the Spirit to simplify your life, but surrender your schedule to Him. Let Him begin to set up moments of prayer with believers and nonbelievers. Even ask Him to do so. I believe the more we do this, the more we will be grooving to the the eternal rhythms of Heaven.


the 420 Prayer Movement: VISION


hidden in Christ

When you read a passage like 2 Corinthians 5:17 which says: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” What goes through your mind? We all say we believe that, but when it comes to actually walking this verse out in our lives, do our actions actually line up with what we say we believe? because this verse talks about change and transformation. Maybe when you came to faith, God pulled you from a life of sin and you had a pretty dramatic conversion and the contrast between the old and the new was very clear. Or maybe you’ve been walking in the new life since you were a little kid and the distinction between the old and the new has never ever been that clear to you. Either way, as we grow and mature, we can reach a certain level of comfort in who we are and it’s real easy to begin to settle into that image of ourselves. When this happens, it’s really easy to simply stop growing and take on a complacent, even an indifferent attitude toward change.

Do you remember the Rubik’s Cube? Oftentimes the image that we hold of ourselves is like that one completed side that we can all accomplish. I don’t know about you, but when I finally complete that one side I am pretty cautious about doing anything to mess it up. In many ways this is like the image we keep of ourselves that we guard and protect. Have you ever said to yourself: “Oh, that’s just the way I am.” When we say things like that, what we are really saying is that I’d rather stay the way that I am than try to change. Maybe you believe that you can’t change. But, thinking like that excludes God from the picture. In this Rubik’s cube example, what I’ve wanted to emphasize is that we as people as limited. Our desires are limited, our understanding is limited, and our view of ourselves is limited. It’s because we are only creations. But, God is the Creator who is able to see everything going on, when we can only see a portion.

God’s Word says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) and we all know this to be true because I don’t know about you, but I know that I’m complicated. And I don’t know about you, but just thinking about trying to get every side of a Rubik’s Cube seems almost impossible, but God knows what He’s doing and though it may seem like He’s messing up our one little side, what He’s really doing is working to complete the good work that He started in all of us: Philippians 1:6 says: “being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” So, when God begins to bring change into our lives, it’s because He’s trying to make us whole. He’s putting together and completing all the other sides. But, we must always remember that it’s only through Christ that a believer is given new life because Jesus is the source, power and goal of all Christian growth.

Colossians 3: 3-4 says: “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” There are two truths in these verses: 1) that a believer’s current life is hidden with Christ in God and 2) that all believers will one day appear with Christ in glory. Do you believe that your life is hidden in Christ? That everything that we need in understanding who we are can be found in Christ? What Paul is saying here is that believers are “with Christ in God” and therefore reside in a place other than this world, a place where divine grace transforms us into a new creation. Where are you looking for your life? Are you looking for your life in Christ or out in the world?  

  • It’s in Jesus that we find eternal life.
  • It’s in Jesus that we find our inheritance.
  • It’s in Jesus that we find our true identity.
  • It’s in Jesus that we find peace with God, others and ourselves.
  • It’s in Jesus that we find joy.
  • It’s in Jesus that we are given the Holy Spirit.
  • It’s in Jesus that we are healed.
  • It’s in Jesus that our hearts are mended.
  • It’s in Jesus that our minds are renewed.
  • It’s in Jesus that our souls are refreshed.
  • It’s in Jesus that we are redeemed.
  • It’s in Jesus that we are adopted as sons and daughters of God.
  • It’s in Jesus that we find true strength.
  • It’s in Jesus that we experience the Father’s love.
  • It’s in Jesus that we are under the protection of the Father.

Everything that we need to experience the fullness of life that Jesus promised (John 10:10) us can only be found in Him. That’s why Paul says that our lives are hidden with Christ in God. But, we must also remember that this fullness of life that believers experience is only in part (1 Corinthians 13:12) because it is only at Jesus’ Second Coming will the Kingdom of God be fully realized where as Paul says: believers will “also appear with Him in glory.”When Christ appears we also will appear with Him in glory because God will have completed the good work He’s begun in each believer (Philippians 1:6). God’s grace truly is amazing!


raised with Christ

The way that we live our lives reflects in a lot of ways the type of person we are. It reveals who we are and what’s important to us. It reveals our core values, both the good and selfish and sinful ways. What does your ideal day look like? If your human, than you’re a creature of comfort like me who likes your day to go smoothly, without any surprises. Take a minute to really think about your day to day routine. Do you shy away from confrontation? Do you purposely schedule your day so that you’ll meet the least amount of resistance? Do you try to avoid conflict at all costs? If you had to compare your ideal day with a type of music, what would it be? If I had to describe my ideal day with a type of music, it would have to be “Muzak” you know the music that you hear on elevators. The calming and comforting music that fills up the uncomfortable silence with nice, soothing and relaxing melodies. Kind of boring I know, but it’s safe.

Our natural tendency is to only think of the temporal side of life, what will make us the most comfortable, our immediate security. Most of the time this won’t include the spiritual aspects of life: what God may want to do on the inside of us, in our character by pulling us from the idols of comfort or materialism or money or selfishness or fear or whatever is getting in the way of having Christ formed in us. We ask God to transform us, but then we do everything we can to stop God from actually doing that. If we trust that salvation is found in Jesus then we also must trust that God’s grace will always be about us and that by His grace we will be transformed so that we are then able to set our hearts and minds on the purposes of heaven as Colossians 3:1-2 says: Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

Maybe the reason that we just coast through life is that we don’t see the urgency of our situation, in who we are and what we do, because we don’t recognize the spiritual component or realize the eternal ramifications of the things happening in our lives. We don’t take into consideration the reality that who we are, what we’re all about and our actions do impact eternity in some way because we’re so stuck on the temporal side of life. Earthly things have become more important then heavenly things. If we realize it or not, what we do in the visible has some affect on the invisible because the physical and spiritual components of life are intricately connected.

God know this. He can see the whole painting when all we can see are a few brush stokes and when we set our hearts and minds on things above we are more apt to be able to sense and see life from God’s perspective. We will be able to see life with an eternal perspective. But, our earthly desires are in direct conflict with the purposes of heaven. So, the more focused we are on the temporal side of life, the less able we will be able to set our hearts and minds on the things above. The kind of people we are in Christ and the kinds of actions we take as his disciples must always reflect what and in whom we believe. We must also remember that God’s work of grace is inside out, meaning the private matters of the heart are always fleshed out in public. The reality of heart transformation is revealed in changed lifestyle.

That’s why God brings change into our lives, so that He can break up the routines of safety and comfort that we covet so desperately. I believe a child of God can get to a place where the rocky path of sanctification will be more desirable than the smooth road of comfort. I believe that a child of God can get to a place where they are so engaged with Jesus that when God does bring change into their lives, they will almost be expecting it because it will feel so absolutely and completely right. But, this means intentionally setting our minds on things above, more so than on earthly things. I believe the more we do this, the less worry and more joy we will have in our lives.


Redemptive Relationships

Friendships are important. When I think back on my life, what I remember most are my friendships. Sure, I may remember certain times and places, maybe things I’ve done (or wished I did). But most of all I remember the people who shared those moments with me. When I look through the photo album in my mind that stores the snapshots of my life, I see people because if we really boil it down, all we truly have in this life are our relationships. Now if I call myself a Christian, the Bible challenges me to make all my relationships redemptive ones. What is a redemptive relationship? It’s a relationship that always has eternity in view. Jesus was a man who lived His life on earth in this way. When Jesus talked to someone or touched someone He made an eternal impact on their lives. Sometimes it was for the better (those who accepted His message and believed), but other times it was for the worse (those who rejected His message). Either way, people left Jesus changed because redemptive relationships have eternal impact.

As followers of Jesus, being redemptive needs to be infused into who we are. It needs to be part of our spiritual DNA, so that no matter where we are, we will be living as God has called each of us which is to first and foremost love Him but also to love one another. When we are truly living out our faith, we will be caring for one another in genuine community as a family, uplifting the Body of Christ and we as God’s people will experience a deeper understanding of Christ’s love for us. When this happens, we will begin to see the deep need to be actively living redemptively in all our relationships because when we are, we will touch people’s hearts with the love of Christ. Now, if we are to be thinking redemptively, we have to remember that it’s our faith in Christ that activates love and empowers us through the Holy Spirit to be grace and truth to people. And when we are this way, people’s hearts will be refreshed which will not only bring renewal, but will also inevitably impact their lives with the transforming power of God’s love which will deepen their understanding of who God is and His love for all of us. This is what it means to be redemptive.

There’s a difference between counseling someone’s flesh and refreshing someone’s heart by encouraging their spirit. Encouraging someone’s spirit means washing them with God’s Word, but that doesn’t mean spiritualizing everything by giving Bible verses like aspirin. Sometimes being God’s Word to a person is what shows greater love. Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” Sometimes a person just needs you to sit, weep and mourn with them. Just your presence speaks volumes. Being intentionally redemptive in a relationship also means not just dealing with a person’s behavioral or heart sins, life burdens, pains and fears, but also a person’s heart longings and desires. We all have deep longings and yearnings (wishes, hopes and dreams that long to be released from our hearts), but oftentimes they go unspoken or unnoticed because we can get so caught up in telling people how we think they should act instead of taking the time to draw out who God has called and redeemed them to be.

Now, on my journey with Jesus, He has taken me through the depths of my heart where I’ve had to be brutally honest with myself. Spiritual self-awareness is a blessing and whenever I’ve taken an honest look at my life, both in my heart and in my behavior that’s when change began to happened: that’s when redemption was able to take hold. This also meant allowing others to speak truth and life to me, even when it was hard to hear. Facing our fears can be terrifying at times, but on the flipside of our fears are the desires of our hearts. If you have a fear of being judged, your desire maybe to be known, to be heard, to be real, to be loved. If you have a fear of rejection, your desire maybe to be accepted, to belong, to be included, to be appreciated. If you have a fear of failure, your desire maybe to be recognized, to be valued, to be validate, to be a blessing. What this means within the context of a redemptive relationship is that we not only address a person’s fears, but we also draw out their desires. You nurture them, so that their desires become greater than their fears. Of course, I am talking about healthy and godly desires and not sinful ones. All of us have desires that God has put into our hearts and when we act redemptively in a relationship, we help draw out these desires. Proverbs 20:5 (TNIV) says, “The purposes of the human heart are deep waters, but those who have insight draw them out.”