bound

Rock piled upon rock. Some smooth proving submission to a forming substance over a large amount of time. Others ragged and stubborn…all layered in a massive piled formation.

Varying colors of grey, dark grey, mottled brown and pieces of moss in places.

The shape takes form and it becomes alter-like.

On top lays a figure. Struggling, moving and desperate to be free.

IMG_0739A closer look finds wire…not just wire…barbed wire. Every movement pierces the skin. Tearing as each small point finds surface to impale. Over and over again.

Darkness closes in, so black that no light could ever pierce it. Screams flow out of the figure, yet bounce back as they hit the advancing wall of darkness. The pain and terror echoes as feelings of pain and the reality of being trapped start suffocating the figure.

Bound. Unable to move. No sight of freedom. Terrified of what happens next.

No…I am not sadistic. I am pondering a more spiritual image.

Of being bound by the things that are hurting our relationship with God and with others. At the core is usually sin and a refusal to acknowledge what is keeping us bound to it. But the layers…it is layer upon layer upon layer of the excuses we give to make something appear okay, while on the inside we are screaming.

How many times have you felt like something was holding on so tight to you that you would never be free of it?

How many times have you felt bound by something you have no control over?

How often have you felt shackled by the expectations of others that you have no hope of rising to succeed?

What has bound you up so tightly that you cannot possibly consider the possibility of being free?

Being bound is being so wrapped up in something that you cannot see beyond it. Life sucks? See no end in sight? No light at the end of the tunnel much less a tunnel to get through?

But there is…light busts in and Jesus’ love and resurrection become not only real but alive and active in this world. God does not desire his people to be bound to the sin in their lives. He does not desire that you would feel alone. He does not desire that you would feel there is no way out of a situation.

His desire for you is not of being bound so tightly that it will kill you to become loose, and feel as though you have no voice.

His desire is that you would be as delighted in his love for you, as he about his love for you since the beginning of time. That the freedom you feel from the ultimate sacrifice of his son would have you dancing, singing and praising all of the days of your life. Then in your freedom you would be his advocate, his witness…his ambassador to others. To be that reflection of his Kingdom that others need to see, because choosing to be bound takes away the reflection of God and the beauty of his love.

God’s love is not about being suffocated. God’s love does not revolve around what this world and its’ people put on you.

God’s love is sacrificial. God’s love is unconditional. God’s love is freedom in this life and the one beyond.

If you find yourself bound today by something in this world, shake the shackles off and embrace God’s truth…then keep repeating it to yourself, because this world will only try to convince you otherwise every single day.

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night

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Night brings quiet.

Night brings peace.

Night has an unmistakable, crisp scent.

Night brings darkness and fear, but night brings stars. A light in the darkness.

Since I was a little girl, as soon as the sun disappeared my lips could not contain the endless flow of words. My best conversations have all taken place in the dark of the night.

Life choices. Friend despair. Kingdom thoughts. Beautiful dreams. Revelations.

All under the cloak of night.

I’m not sure why daylight brings mistrust and suppression of words. You would think it would be the opposite, but not the case for me. Night has brought some of the most profound conversations I’ve ever had.

Under that deep cloak of night where others feel fear and oppression. I feel freedom, clarity and safety.

Deep breathes of night air fill my lungs, and wonderment of what’s beyond stars ignite my imagination. Suddenly the veil between God’s kingdom and earth becomes thinner.

Even phenomenal, spirit saturated worship experiences seem to fill the dark of night. Last summer on a youth trip we were on top of Mt. Evans near Denver…it was one of the most memorable times of worship many had ever experienced. At one point the moon broke through cloud cover, and flooded the mountain top with light. Every person there will tell you they felt the presence of God. A moment marked on each soul blessed to be present.

All under the cloak of night.

evil

Evil.

Easy to despise. Easy to be put yourself on the opposing side. Easy to speak out against. Easy to hate the villain.

Also…easy to find yourself slipping into…

How many times have I said something hateful?

How many times have I done something mean?

So often I find myself amidst the struggle of more God verses more…not God.

It is easy to try and explain away…we are human and that struggle is real. It is sin, ask for forgiveness.

And the alternative gives credence to there being powers that work against us. That darkness exists in very real forms. And worse of all…that there is real evil in our world.

We want to believe everything is sunshine, rainbows and white puffy clouds.

And just to be clear, I’m not referring to the pessimists and optimists. I am talking about the guy who tempted Jesus in the desert. The one who possessed people and the disciples had to drive out. The one who convinced a disciple to betray Jesus. I hate even saying the name, but most have sensed the reality in some way.

Discernment…knowing the difference between good and evil. It is one of those gifts that is hard to explain, because if you have that gift it registers different for each person. But you sense there is something dark and ominous. Or maybe in your brightest most Holy Spirit moment…you know there is something that is working against you. To break you, and break your hold on God’s truth.

Because evil is not truth. Evil is lies.

Because evil is not good. Evil is bad.

Because evil does not want happiness for you.

It wants to destroy you simply because you love Jesus.

Paul even writes in several of his letters instructing and encouraging the believers to arm themselves. To be ready and not to give in to temptation that would tear them away from the light of God.

Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. [Ephesians 6:11-13]

TS2I have never felt so profoundly that I was walking with God, and there was an extreme power working against me than when I was in China for a summer. In a place than can have so much hospitality, beauty and beautiful people, we were most definitely making waves with good vs. evil. And when you think about it, God has been doing something incredible in China for many years. Missionaries have risked their lives to bring the message of truth to the Chinese who want to believe. When you look at it that way, of course the scale tips for good and evil wants to fight it.

So, how do you fight? How do you stand? Well, first you have to get seriously pissed off. Get mad that something is working so hard against the God we serve and loves us unconditionally, even when we slip and give evil a helping hand.

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Then…get on your knees. I know for a fact that prayer warriors get the job done. I’ve seen it happen, and I’ve seen change through prayer.

Then…get in God’s word. I know the power of God’s word when you are grounded in it. I just wish I was all-around good at staying in scripture without some pissed-off motivation to send me back to it.

Then…get accountability. I know for a fact that I am stronger with others fighting beside me, and holding me accountable to the Christian life I have chosen to live. God’s word says that the devil prowls around like a lion waiting to devour us. Jesus said he was sending them out like sheep amongst the wolves. When we are separated from each other, we are weak. It is a really bad choice to be alone.

Then…have faith and hope, because God wins in the end. We just have to help him fight along the way.

Here’s to you winning a battle today.