Unbroken 

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.” Corinthians 9:24

Today we began a series entitled “At the Movies.” Our pastor takes a popular movie, shortens it to fulfill  the purpose of his message, and inserts himself in the film and provides biblical commentary.

The film today was Unbroken, which is about the life of Louis Zamperini. It recounts his amazing odyssey of triumph that he contributes to the unfailing grace of God.

His life was such a powerful testimony! We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us and Louis proved just that! His brother Pete gave him a mantra-“If you can take it, you can make it.” This gave Louis strength for the journey  during his 97 years on earth.

I was moved to tears during the showing and sat on the edge of my seat. It was hard to watch the evil he endured.

I could relate to so much of his life-the low self esteem, facing trial after trial that would break most, and the strong will to make it despite the odds.

Pastor Dave reminded us that the devil has no real power over us and he can only trick us into destroying ourselves. He plays a lot of mind games and excels at convincing us that we  are worthless. In the case of Louis, the devil used the Bird to try to break his spirit. It was obvious that the Bird saw greatness in him, too and hated him for it.

Pastor Dave also talked about how living out of season can hamper us. Louis defined himself as an Olympic runner and was almost destroyed when he lost a race as a prisoner. His focus should have been on survival instead of his past glory. We must stay in the present in order to appreciate the blessings that we do have.

It is true that God prepares us in advance to fight future battles. Louis was “trained” as a youth with the many gladiator type battles he faced as an Italian immigrant in his neighborhood and his Olympic training as a runner.

The most astonishing part of his story was the ability to forgive his captors-the very men who tormented him as a POW. He actually met with them all except for the Bird who refused. Again, another solid example of how we can do anything as long as we rely on the strength of the Lord.

Louis spent 47 days at sea after their military plane crashed. He vowed to God that he would dedicate his life to him if he would only let him live. God granted his request and Louis eventually kept his promise.

I have been down-but never out, bent-but not broken, and I’ve been through many fires-but I never smell like smoke-Hallelujah!!!!

I want to encourage anyone reading these words today to keep running the race! Our sufferings are never in vain and all things can be used for good by God. He hears every prayer we utter and stores them in His golden goblet in heaven. Never grow weary of fighting the good fight of faith my friend!

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Testimony Tuesday

“But You, O Lord are a holy shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head. I cried to the Lord with my voice, And He heard me from His holy hill.” Psalm 3:3-4

God has been my shield. He has heard each of my cries as He sits on High looking low. Thank You Father! Today I received some good news from my doctor, another battle won in the war He’s fighting on my behalf. 

It’s no coincidence that the Lord gave me a word for 2015, “still.” Still as in “Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10 and “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14. He knew in advance the magnitude of what I would be facing. 

Despite His faithfulness, I continue to struggle with whether or not I deserve His goodness. But I came to the conclusion today that I don’t. However God “remembers that we are dust” and covers us with His grace and mercy daily. Thank You Lord! 

On Goodness

“I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” Galatians 2:21

“They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” Romans 3:12

I want my Christian light to shine. I don’t want to be a person in which others can’t tell that I am a follower of Christ based upon my deeds and words . However, it’s been hard for me. It’s true that you have to die to self daily. As Paul so eloquently said in Romans 7:15, “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.  If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good.  But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.  For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.  For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.  Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.” I truly want to do good and be a good person, but my flesh is so weak.

I had a conversation via text with a close friend the other day about this very topic. She is of the opinion that one can be good on their own merit. I disagree strongly. We cannot be good on our own strength. If that’s the case, we would have no need for a Savior. And the Bible clearly states “For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9. I know that I can not make it without God’s grace and mercy. I depend on this. Without Him I am a MESS. I can’t trust myself to do the right thing at all times. I need to be covered in the Blood of the Lamb and dressed fully in the armor of God. Even on my best day, I am not worthy. Simply put, I can’t function without Him.

The mentality that being good is enough outside of Jesus is one of Satan’s deceptive ploys. He tricked Eve with this same strategy. Don’ let the devil fool you into believing otherwise.The truth is that we need God. For everything. Period. The End.

Be Still

“Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

This year instead of creating a list of New Year’s resolutions, I chose a single phrase to center the upcoming 365 days around. The dictionary defines still as “not moving or making a sound”  “deep silence and calm.” It sounds easy enough, yet being “still” has been a real challenge for me. Especially considering that I have yet to totally surrender to the will of the Lord.

Being still is a scary concept for a person like me. Being still means being lazy and incompetent. It means that you are dependent on others to do things for you. This thought goes against my very nature. I’m impatient which doesn’t lend well to stillness. I’m also stubborn and determined to finish anything I start. I simply can’t trust anyone to do it for me.

I spent time really pondering Proverbs 46:10 and what it means. Allowing myself to be still glorifies God and his omnipotence. I CAN be still because I know that God is more than capable of handling anything that may come my way. He doesn’t need my assistance. I don’t have to play Robin to His Batman. My faux superpowers pales in comparison to His. He already knows beforehand the trials I will encounter; so who else is better equipped to lead the way in battle? To paraphrase Exodus 14:14, the Lord will fight for me and I only need to be still. It shows others how we are strengthened by Him in our obvious weakness without doing anything other than being still. It gives way to blessings that testify God’s goodness and His desire to see us happy. But remember, he will never force stillness upon us-we have to choose to accept the invitation.

Basking in this still place I know that can depend on Him to fulfill my needs. It relieves my anxiety knowing that I don’t have to do it all. Admittedly I can’t do a single thing without His unmerited grace. And here I thought I was running off of my own might and fortitude when I was being fueled with God power this whole time.