One Evolution at a Time

“Both fear and faith may sail into your harbor, but only allow faith to drop anchor.”  Bear Gryllis

Worry.  It’s been said that worry and faith are actually the same thing, only going in opposite directions.  Finances, marriage or relationship issues, looming work or school deadlines and your kiddo’s well being….these are just a few of the things that can and will stir up worry and fear in each of us.  How easily we can get wrapped up in the “what if’s” of an unknown future.  “What if we can’t get through this?”  “What if our daughter doesn’t get into that prestigious Ivy League school?”  “What if we have to file bankruptcy?  It will destroy our marriage!”  “What if I give my tithe but then don’t have enough to buy groceries next week?”  On and on, these worries of tomorrow can paralyze us as they flood our consciousness.

In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians he reminds the reader, “Do not be anxious about ANYTHING….”  (Phil. 4:6)

Anything?  You might be thinking to yourself, “Now Paul, that looks all good and holy on paper but really?  How can I really implement that in my life?  It’s just not realistic.”  Let’s unpack this a little bit….

The U.S. Navy SEAL’s (of whom my father-in law was one) have a saying when they’re going through BUDS (Basic Underwater Demolition School), which is the most brutal physical and mental training one could ever dream of subjecting themselves to….”Take it one evolution at a time.”  

That’s their secret.  

They take what comes at them moment by moment….often times minute by minute and second by second.  They stay completely focused on accomplishing the “task at hand.”  In his book, “Navy Seals Training Guide:  Mental Toughness”, author Lars Draeger writes about how successful SEAL candidates will have the long term goal of getting through the program but don’t spend much time there.  They end up making micro-goals made up of things such as finishing the set of push-ups they’re currently doing or getting “wet and sandy.”  That’s it.  They don’t let their mind drift into what’s coming next week or tomorrow or in an hour….  Task. At. Hand.

Jesus said to his disciples:  “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Matthew 6:31-34

Even here, we’re reminded by the words and wisdom of Christ to stay present and focused on what we need to do today, in this present moment.  A few verses prior Jesus asks, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to his life?” (Matt. 6:27) 

So what must we do, in a practical sense, to deal with our worries and fears?

I believe we can start by putting a positive spin on it.  Our worries and fears are actually an opportunity to “work out” our faith.  Ultimately we can gain strength through this adversity.  The key to faith however, is that the power behind that faith is only as strong as who or what we place our faith in.  For example, secular humanists (a fancy name for atheists) put their faith in their own intellect and abilities, which means that the true power behind their faith is only as strong as they are as individuals.  A “religious” person’s faith might be focused on the outward adornments, idols or traditions of their particular religion…. “Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field, their idols cannot speak, they must be carried because they cannot walk.  Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good.”  Jeremiah 10:5

Those that have put their faith in Jesus….they can walk on water.

Picture the scene.  The disciples are deathly afraid, cowered down on a boat being tossed by the stormy sea and Jesus appears out of the darkness:  “‘Take courage it is I.  Don’t be afraid.’  ‘Lord if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’  ‘Come,’ he said.  Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.”  I wonder how often our own fears are nothing more than promptings to get out of the boat, where we can pray, “I know you are with me, Lord!  You’ve promised never to abandon or forsake me (see Joshua 1:9) and I trust You.  I don’t know what to say or do but I need Your help!  Be my strength, I want to honor You.  Thank you for Your faithfulness and Your blessings!  Please be with me right now and in all of this let not my will but Your will be done!”

Can you see the difference between trusting in ourselves or a religious idol and trusting  in the one true and living God?  When we are redeemed by Jesus we are in an actual, practical, loving relationship with Him.  In fact, Jesus calls us “friends” (see John 15:13-15).  Let yourself marinate in that thought for awhile…you are friends with the One who set the earth on it’s axis and engineered your DNA….and He’s got your back.  This doesn’t mean that everything will be easy because it won’t be.  Remember how I had mentioned in a previous post that we are living in a world at war and we have a very real spiritual enemy.  What this does mean is that He will supply you with what you need, through His grace and strength.

Let’s go back to the verse that we started earlier:  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6-7 

These are our instructions.  This is our focus and our “task at hand.”  Think of it as a spiritual “stop, drop and roll.”  When those unsettling thoughts begin to wash over you like the waves of the sea, call out to Jesus.  When he says “Come!” then it will be your turn to get out of the boat.

Faith> fear.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  Isaiah 41:10

“I set the Lord always before me.  Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”  Psalm 16:8

 

Advertisements

Our Calling

“There are a lot of things a warrior can do at a certain time which he couldn’t do years before.  Those things themselves did not change; what changed was his idea of himself.”  Carlos Casteneda

Bondage.  I believe the majority of humankind traverse life unconsciously trapped by the negativity, cruelty and lies that they’ve come to believe about themselves.  “You’ll never amount to anything….you’re ugly….you’re not smart enough….you’re not good enough….you’re a burden….you don’t have what it takes….you’re a mistake….you have no purpose here.”  There is a reason our spiritual enemy is called “the accuser.”  That is his purpose…with his end game being the destruction of those made in the image of God, which happens to be you and I.  He doesn’t care how long it takes.  Little by little, over the course of our lifetime he tempts us to compromise and make decisions that lead us down the well worn path that so many have previously tread.  It’s not hard to see the evidence of the devils having their way with so many.  We can walk through any city and witness the countless number of those beaten and broken down, now only shells of their former selves.

It doesn’t have to be this way.  We don’t have to accept the lies.  We don’t have to live in this shame.  Remember what Jesus said, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free….So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”  John 8:32 & 36 

This is our starting point.

If you have never recognized your true spiritual state, that you are a sinner, separated from God (although you experience his grace, given to all of humanity as Paul reminds us in Romans….while we were still sinners, Christ died for us).  In this natural state you are no match for the darkness.  Whether they actively attack you or passively lull you into a state of spiritual indifference, you are trapped all the same and under God’s wrath.  However, if you are of humble heart, recognize this and are willing to turn from your sin and call on Jesus to forgive you, He promises to save you from both this present darkness and the very real Hell that will follow.  “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  Romans 10:13  

My brother used to say to me, “If there are 100 steps between you and God, he’s taken 99 of them you, just need to respond to Him.”  

My friend, you are being called to something more.  You were created in His image, so truth be told, you’re a MASTERPIECE and all of the spiritual realm knows this.  In Him, you DO have what it takes.  In Him, you ARE good enough.  In Him, you HAVE everything  you need to fulfill your GOD ordained calling.  This is the truth.  Hold onto it.  For when the attacks come (and they will) and those familiar lies starting ringing loudly in your ears,  you’ll need to actively resist with this truth and ask for God to cover you.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.   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.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,  and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”  Ephesians 6:10-18

Welcome to the family, Warrior Soul.  How far you take it is up to you….

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here….We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.”  2 Corinthians 5:17 & 20

A Needed Shift in Our Paradigm

“The battle of life is, in most cases, fought uphill; and to win it without a struggle were perhaps to win it without honor.  If there were no difficulties there would be no success; if there were nothing to struggle for, there would be nothing to be achieved.”   Samuel Smiles

Comfort.  Does any one word more accurately define the ultimate goal of western culture?  Instant gratification, smart phones, instant messages, entertainment at our finger tips at any time and in virtually any place.  We live in a “plug and play” world.  How often do we find ourselves willing to grind, spend, invest and struggle….not in order to be able to give more….but just in order to chase the elusive “security” of comfort?

But here is what the master marketers of our day neglect to tell us.  The “comfort” and “security” they’re selling us is just an illusion.  It is an illusion that can blind the vast majority of those around us.  The spirits that rule this realm (for the time being) prefer to keep things this way.  We can almost hear them saying to one another, “Keep them busy, ‘happy’ and fattened for the slaughter!”  This darkness understands that when an individual begins questioning this “reality”… that is when the Light can begin to illuminate our minds and more importantly in many cases, our hearts, to what truly is.  I like to call this an individual’s “Matrix” moment….

“This is your last chance.  After this there is no turning back.  You take the blue pill-the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe.  You take the red pill- you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.  I know that you’re afraid…you’re afraid of change.  I didn’t come here to tell you how this is going to end.  I came here to tell you how it’s going to begin.”  (Morpheous in the film “The Matrix”)

We need a shift in our world view.  We need to understand that this current world, in this current age, is a world not of comfort but is in fact a world at war.  It may not be a war we can see, smell or touch but it’s all around us, all of the time.  The spiritual warfare never sleeps.  We see it throughout scripture:

“Be alert and of sober mind.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” 1 Peter 5:8 & 9 

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.”  1 Peter 4:12

“In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”  Jesus speaking in John 16:33

This blog will be dedicated to those who decide to take the red pill.

How about you?  How far down the rabbit hole do you want to go?  The choice is yours….