Heart Issues, Showing love

Heart Condition Change

gerbera-flower

Did you know today’s children and young adults are the least Christian generation our nation has ever had?

It’s true.

So recently, when my daughter came crying to me about “fake” friends who consistently lie (about big and small things) and have no follow-through on what they say they’ll do, I reminded her about the fact above.

Because, see, my daughter isn’t a perfect friend. Neither am I! We’ve both messed up numerous times and had to ask for forgiveness from God and those we’ve wronged. But we do have conviction, which is not the same as condemnation which refers to guilt and shame. Conviction comes from the Holy Spirit, who lives within us and keeps us from sin and stirs repentance when we fail. The Holy Spirit is just that: holy. Therefore, any sin ruffles His feathers, so to speak. All sin breaks the Almighty’s heart.As Christ followers, the Holy Spirit who lives within us convicts us of sin. The Holy Spirit is just that, HOLY. Click To Tweet

But those without the Holy Spirit don’t feel conviction the same way when they hurt someone else, whether intentionally or unintentionally. They don’t receive the same prompt or drive from their soul to be loyal, truthful, or forgiving.Without the Holy Spirit, people don’t feel conviction the same way when they hurt someone else, whether intentionally or unintentionally. They don’t receive the same prompt from their soul to be loyal, truthful, or forgiving. Click To Tweet

Satan blinds and deceives non-believers and entices them to sin. They have no power to resist it, but believers do.

This deception affects our young generation and blinds humanity to atrocities. It hinders our boldness to speak out and gains generations of footholds to keep us in bondage to the devil and his schemes of dissension, hurt, pain, abuse, and death. The lack of the Holy Spirit or the stuffing of Him down has blinded us to atrocities, made us uncomfortable so as to keep us quiet, and gained generations of footholds to keep us in bondage to the devil. Click To TweetIt’s no wonder these young people aren’t turning to God when they see their elders acting the way they do. How can we expect right reactions to injustices, abuse, or lies if our heart is already in a state of sadness and disorder? How can we expect those who cause the abuse, distresses, and disagreements in our country to see their own faults if their heart is also diseased? And what if we’re the ones causing this heartache and don’t see it?

Kristen Quote

Only the Holy Spirit can change our young generation and our world. God needs to transform the heart to affect systematic change. We can’t expect others to respond correctly if they’re unaware of a problem. We must call upon Jesus for revival and awakening—for how can we be only revived if we’ve never awakened to God in the first place? Our youth must recognize their heart disease, challenge it, fix it, heal it, and then move forth, serving God in His Kingdom work.

We must recognize our own heart disease, challenge it, and invite God to fix it, and heal it, then we must move forth, serving God in His Kingdom work. Click To TweetHow? We start by inviting people into our homes. Those of all ages, including those who don’t look like you. Love them well. Care about them. Listen to them. Be someone they can count on in a world that lets them down. With God’s guidance, we can help soften hearts through Christian love.

So, as I try with meager parenting skills to guide my daughter in relationships, I can invest in her generation. I can welcome her friends into my home and care for them in tangible ways like cooking and transporting. I can always invite them to church with us, support their activities, and say, “I love you.”

What can we all do to affectively change hearts around us? Let us know in the comments below!

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Hardships and Trials

How I Exposed the Sneaky Death Trap of Fear

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Fear is a sneaky prowler.

If you’ve been a Christian for a while, you may be able to recite 2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV): “God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control.” I, personally, have recalled and repeated this verse many times. Like when my little sister was diagnosed with brain cancer. Or when our home was going through a short sale and we had to move. We had nowhere to go and would be taking my daughter out of school in the middle the year.

2 Timothy 1:17

I recognized my need for God to help with my fear during these life-alternating events, when my future looked bleak, or dread paralyzed me. In those moments, I could confess my lack of faith that God was in the midst of my hardships alongside me and had a plan for my family’s future.

 

But fear is also a silent, creeping death trap. It’s like a slow breeze caressing your face that you don’t realize is there. Click To Tweet

Recently, the spirit of fear snuck into my life. I have a teenage daughter in middle school—some of you sent up a silent prayer for me just then—and a few weeks ago I had to help her navigate some heavy stuff. Think social media at its worst, and you’ll probably be close to imagining what we were battling. And in truth, she seemed to get through it smoothly, to snap out the sadness and hurt quickly. But what about me?

This incident wrecked me—made me physically sick. It felt as if the pit of my stomach was caving in on itself, and I could think of nothing else for days. I walked around in constant, nagging pain. I prayed over and over for God to move in this situation. I prayed for our kids, their friends, their influences, for protection over their lives. I wrote all of this off as a normal part of parenting, a part of the journey.

Then, I ran into a friend. I knew she’d been dealing with some tough situations pertaining to her teenager and asked her how she was doing. She said something along the lines of, “I’m doing okay. I had to release her to God. I can’t be fearful. I have to trust and have faith He’s working.”

In that moment, I realized all my symptoms—physical and emotional—were really fear, masked as what I thought was a standard part of being a mother. The enemy was causing havoc and keeping me bound like a slave. The devil had used my love for my daughter to weaken my faith in God, and that’s exactly what happened. I didn’t trust enough and believe enough that once I’d prayed about the situation, He would respond.I realized all my symptoms—physical and emotional—were really fear, masked as what I thought was a standard part of being a mother. The enemy was causing havoc and keeping me bound like a slave. Click To Tweet

Don’t allow the spirit of fear trap you in faithlessness. After I went to God with my pain and lack of wisdom over how to help my daughter, I should’ve trusted that He’d set into motion a plan. And then kept praying that I got out of the way to let Him do His thing and claimed victory over the situation.

We must be careful not to allow fear to control our minds. Recite 2 Timothy 1:7 often, not just in the big events and hardships of life, but in the day-to-day struggles as well. When you feel anxious, pray to God and release the fear to Him. He’s got an outcome, one way better than you could orchestrate for yourself. Continue to pray for faith, direction, and wisdom, but never allow fear to seep in. Claim it’s not allowed to live within you in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Let’s talk about this! When have you allowed fear to sneak up on you? How did you deal with removing it from your life?

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Cover for Anchored and Secure devotionalThanks to Christ’s death and resurrection, we don’t have to stress, strive, or perform. We simply need to rest in what Christ has already done. That is when we begin to come; to live as He intended. That’s when we discover true and lasting freedom.

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Relationships

Our Innate Need for Community

Quote from Rick Warren with background of friends

God doesn’t want anyone to be alone, and I’m not going to disappoint Him.”

That’s a powerful quote from my grandmother, something she said to my mother when she was a child. They apply, among other things, to how we do life with others, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ.

God made us to come together and worship Him. Scripture reveals the importance of church community on every page! God wants us to live together and learn from, as well as teach, one another.

Christ-centered relationships, together in a community or church, were instituted by God.

Jesus is the foundation of church. (1 Peter2:5-7)

Paul helped spread it. (Acts 9:20)

And intended for us to continue it.

Once we accept Jesus as our Savior, He longs for us to do more than simply set foot inside a building, commonly known as a church, to worship Him on Christmas and Easter. Or, maybe, to do more than never set foot in one at all.

Let me be clear in how I define church. It’s a group of believers in an environment who seek to grow in their relationship with, and their understanding of, Jesus through many ways including music, prayer, discussion, and/or listening to a message.

This can be a small group held in a home or coffee shop, or a formal service in a traditional or contemporary setting. It can take place in a small or stadium-sized space, or any time and any day. Scripture shows church as place where people are gathered together to praise and learn about God.

Notice the use of we, us, and our in these verses:

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken [heaven], let us be thankful, and so worship God with acceptable reverence and awe” (Hebrews 12:28).

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name” (Hebrews 13:15).

“Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker …” (Psalm 95:6).

According to the gospels, Jesus gave sermons to thousands. He allowed groups to gather around Him as He revealed Scripture. I’m sure these people grew stronger in their faith and leaned on each other in hard times—like when their very lives were threatened after Jesus’ death and resurrection.

The Apostle Paul, the accepted writer of two-thirds of the New Kristen speaker image and quoteTestament, elaborated on this, mostly in letters he wrote to churches. He loved to use phrases like, “Brothers and sisters” and “Dear Friends” when addressing first century believers. In Acts 9:15, we’re told he wanted his ministry companions to join him as soon as possible. They, his friends, were needed by the great Apostle. In Acts 2:42-47 we read an account of some of the first groups of Christians, known as a fellowship of believers.

The question is why? Why is doing ministry together better? I believe God uses us to help and grow each other. To pray for, meet a need for, to celebrate an answered prayer with one another.

God designed us to live in community, to never be alone, as my grandmother might say, in our journey on earth and with Him. In order to live this out, and using the Bible as our example, we must prioritize our time with other believers. We must walk alongside them and help each other worship Jesus and learn about Him.

Where do you stand? Are you heeding God’s call to remain connected with other Christians?

We’ve found, often it’s our fear of rejection that isolates us from each other. But God didn’t create us to live in fear! In Christ, He’s given us everything we need to live Bold and Brave! Join us for one of our upcoming Bold and Brave conferences to gain tools that will help you develop deep community and walk in freedom. Find our more HERE.

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Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION(R), NIV(R) Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. (R) Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Related resource: Included in Christ: Living a New Story From Ephesians by Heather Holleman