Do you know what the Sword of the Spirit is? Do you know how vital to your own survival it is? I urge you to take a few minutes and watch this video. It is the final installment of the Spiritual Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) series from Skyline Church.
You know what? I am thankful for a God that loves us enough to equip us with such amazing armor and weapons to be able to not only face, but also defeat the enemy! Today’s church service was entitled: SWAT: The Helmet Of Salvation.
SWAT – The Shoes Of Peace. This is the title of the message from the current series – and yes, I am thankful for it. The truths found and shared in this message speak for themselves. I am so grateful for a pastor and a church who seek the face of God, and share Him with our community and beyond. The words spoken – in this case about the shoes of peace – are powerful. We have discussed the armor and weapons necessary to keep you safe during times of battle.
This is the video from this past Sunday’s service.
Today at church, our pastor spoke about having a story. Each and every one of us have a story to tell. It is ours, and ours alone. The good, the bad, the beautiful and even the ugly make up who we are and the life we live. Our past, present and future comprise our story. It is this story that people will see whatever we are a witness of.
As Christians, God gives us a story. He doesn’t erase the “bad” parts and keep only the good. No! Instead, He redeems us, and allows every part of our story to share grace, hope and peace with others. The things in my life – the ups and downs, the peaceful moments and struggles alike, will be a living testimony of who Jesus is – through us.
Something I have said before, and that was mentioned today is that we are very well the only Jesus some people will ever see. As I was explaining to my husband, there are many people who do not know Jesus. They don’t attend church, and the Bible is nothing more than “just another book” in their eyes. To that person, I (as a Christian example) may very well be the only church, the only Jesus, and the only witness of who He is that they may ever know.
I want my life to be a witness of who He truly is. The life change and personal transformation I have experienced – and continue to experience every day – is something I want every living breathing human being to come to know. When people experience even a fraction of the love He has for us, life change happens.
I want to live my life in such a way that my story – my experiences in life that brought me from where I was to where I am today – speaks for itself. It is my desire that my story share the same amount of peace, grace, hope and love that was shared in such a real way with me. If anything I have been through in the course of my life (good or bad) can be used to share Him with another human being – to share grace, peace, hope and love — it will have a purpose greater than I could imagine.
I am one person, with one story – and it is with that story that I want to share gratitude and thanks to God for giving me. It’s my story. I am the only one with this story. I am thankful for my story – for all of it – for it is what has made me who I am.
Marriage is not guaranteed to be easy. I am a living breathing testimony of this. What marriage is, however, is a union (built on love) of a man and a woman who [should] enter with the acknowledgement that they are binding two lives together as one, for better or worse, until death do they part. The truth of the matter is that we, as human beings, have a habit of allowing life to take over, and not always prioritizing the things in life that matter the most. We allow ourselves to become busy, distracted, and at times overwhelmed. In any relationship, but especially a marriage, this can be detrimental.
Another challenge in a marriage (and the primary topic of today’s post) is when a couple does not share the same faith. Maybe I should have said the same level of faith. I’m not talking when one spouse is Baptist, and the other Methodist. I’m more talking about when one spouse has faith, and puts their trust in God – and relies on His guidance for their life and their family — all the while the other spouse has not come to know the same faith in God. As you may imagine, this can put stress or strain on a relationship. When one half of the equation does not equal the other half, confusion will occur. Things may be very clear to the believing spouse, and the non-believing spouse may just not get it. (Whatever the “it” is in the equation.) In such cases, frustration ensues.
If a person is not grounded in faith, it may be difficult for them to maintain the same morals and values their believing spouse has. What may be especially difficult in the relationship if both go into the marriage as being non-actively believing and then one spouse comes to know Jesus. The one non-believing spouse may now feel alienated, wondering why things have to change. They may liken a new faith in Christ to a negative connotation because it is something they do not understand.
As is with anything unsure or not understood, they may even resort to abusive behavior – physical or mental. This is not okay, and should not be tolerated. If you are ever, or know anyone in this situation, please seek help. At a bare minimum, seek marriage counseling, and if warranted, seek emergency services. Your physical health and your life are more important. Even in the midst of these extreme situations, God is capable of bringing healing and restoration. God’s healing hand reaches out, and can touch even the hardest of hearts.
The entire thought process I’m trying to explain in further detail is that it’s imperative that two people in any relationship, especially a marriage be on the same page. Two lives form as one. If on different wavelengths, things will not work well. Keep your eyes focused on Jesus, and Jesus at the center of your relationship.
If you are in a marriage where your spouse does not share the same (or any) faith as you, not all hope is lost. Again, for the sake of this blog post, I will continue with part 3 soon.
Know this, friends – if you are reading this and can identify with any part of it, you have my prayers and encouragement. Do not hesitate to contact me by leaving a comment or my “contact me” page. I will be happy to listen, talk and pray with you. This is not something you need or have to walk through alone. Be blessed, and know that hope is real…and it is for you!
Here is a full length video of Skyline Church’s service from January 6, 2013. What a phenomenal, God-centered service. I’m so blessed to call this church home.
As those who know me know (and those who don’t are about to find out) I grew up in and around church my entire life. As a child, I came to know a faith in Christ. It was real, but not something I held close into adolescence and young adulthood. Truth be told, God was still there – 100% of the time. It was just that I allowed myself to drift further from Him than I’d like to acknowledge. I always had “faith” and always knew God loved me. I never fully turned my back on Him, but neither did I allow Him to have all of me. I took way too much time to do my own things – and follow my own paths. Let me tell you, walking a path alone – without God by your side, gets to be very lonely.
It wasn’t until recently that I made the life-changing decision to give God my all. Not just my Sunday mornings, and not just praying before meals – but all of me. It very quickly became a necessity to get real with myself, with other people, and especially before God. As I have mentioned before, this sort of transforming life-change was made possible for me by a church with a God-centered, people-loving vision. My life was changed from the moment I walked in the doors. I was not completely without God before, but my life lacked much determination, focus, drive, and ultimately purpose. To find those things through the extended hands of love made such a big difference. Getting connected with people, learning to open up and let others in while also reaching back – that is a work in progress, but has made a tremendous difference in my life.
Today was a very special day for me. It signified my decision to take that next step, to make my faith public, and to be baptized in water. This is something I did as a child. Yes, I was old enough and knew what I was doing. However, since I spent so many years walking in varying (non God-centered) directions, I decided that now was the time to make this decision for myself. As an adult, to make the decision and to let my church family join in celebrating with me. What I was not prepared for was what happened internally as this took place. I was slightly nervous prior to it being “my turn” to get baptized. I knew what to expect, but I just wasn’t sure. As little sense as that makes – all I am saying is that I was excited beyond belief to be making that step, but nervous maybe just being in front of the whole church. That said, the instant I walked out there, God’s presence filled me with an overflowing joy – from the inside out.
In my head, this signified so much more than just getting dunked into a tub full of water. It signified a new season in my life. It signified life-change in a beautiful way. I said to myself, and to all watching that this was real. I did/do not care who thinks that what I did was silly, unnecessary or any other negative connotation that may come to mind. This was not their choice. It was mine. I did not do this for anyone else. This was a personal, but public display of my faith and following of a God larger than life. I do not have to seek another persons approval. I am made complete in Him. The same can be true for you, that guy next door, or that random stranger walking down the street. Live your life less for what everyone else expects, and more for His plan and purpose for your life.
No matter what situation happens in my life, no matter what heartbreak I face, and no matter how uncool things appear at certain points, I will not let anyone steal the joy of this day. This day marks a new start. A fresh start. A real faith in a real God.
If you do not know Him, I urge you to just think about the words I have said here. If you have any questions about water baptism, about what I mean by faith in a God larger than life, in what it means to be a Christian, please do not hesitate to post below, or to contact me privately via my “contact me” page. I’m here, and would love to discuss whatever is on your mind. I welcome your thoughts, comments, replies and/or any prayer requests you might have.
Be blessed, friends – and make today a day worth remembering.
As I was sitting here this morning, I began to think of all the things I am grateful for. There are many, too numerous to put down into a single post. What I would like to mention is the topic of truth.
Truth is vital. The underlying truth is that we don’t always want to hear it. The truth can sometimes hurt. However, life change and situation changes become possible when truth is spoken in love.
I have recently had a conversation or two that hurt in one way, but breathed life in another. There were things that I truly needed to hear – things that (had they not been spoken with the right heart, and in love) I might not have received well otherwise. These same thoughts made me look internally, do some digging deeper, and ultimately come to know peace and joy as a result of an open mind.
Never be afraid to speak the truth. Always attempt to speak the truth in love. It’ll have a much greater impact. What someone wants to hear isn’t what they necessarily NEED to hear. Be the difference.
As this prayer challenge has gotten underway, God is using it to touch hearts, mold us into His image, and bless people. I was very excitedly sharing with a friend some of the impact just this dedicated prayer time has kick started so much more. As I was sharing the “challenge” prayer with friends, God began to touch people clear across the globe. As my friend Aaron said, it’s not about him (as I jokingly called this challenge his “brainchild”) and it’s not about you, and it’s not about me. It’s ALL about Jesus, and about a call to respond to. It’s about relationship – with people and with Him.
Anyway, through these beginning days, I am continually blessed and amazed at all God is doing in the hearts and circumstances of people. When I shared with someone that this challenge has been accepted by a few people I know in other continents even, he was surprised, excited and amazed…while another friend mentioned how incredible this all is.
And, clearly, I agree wholeheartedly. However, there is something else that I’d like to ask. Why!? Oh, how many times, and in how many situations have you asked that question!? That said, the “why” I’m trying to answer is why we are so surprised when God responds to His children!? Why are we shocked and amazed that He acts on our behalf – when His love spans the globe! Don’t get me wrong – this question is just as much for me, as it is for you. I think when we remember the majesty and character that God truly is, none of this would really come as a surprise. A blessing? Yes, of course. But, so many people (myself included) pray a prayer, not really sure if God even hears their prayer. Well, my friends, He does. He listens to your every word. He cares about you, and about what you have to say, ask or praise Him for – and He does so with a passion!
Just as He is doing this amazing work in my heart, he is in so many others who have said, “Yes, God. Use me.” When you truly allow God to work through you to make a difference in people’s lives, don’t be surprised when He does! Remain humble, and keep your heart and mind open to His call…in a prayer challenge, or whatever in life He calls you to. Don’t be surprised when you encounter life change as a result!