A Train Ride To Serenity


The New York Subway system is great. There is a fundamental element associated with traveling from downtown to uptown. When I was a child, per my cousin Gary, there were two trains that got the task done. From Penn Station you could catch the “A” train, a local route making many stops throughout the entire boro of Manhattan. Mostly everyone used this one because of its frequent regular schedule during the day. But if you knew what you were doing and your goal was to get uptown, you could travel up a steep flight of stairs, wait a while and get on the “AA” train instead. This express line offered you the freedom to arrive at your destination in a fraction of the time uninformed/impatient passengers realized on the popular local route. Today it is known as the “A Express.” On a good day you can get from 42nd street to 168st in 4 stops.

The Serenity Prayer offers us the same advantage.Serenity PrayerThis prayer is like an express train to my core. On the exterior, when I find myself honestly appealing to God‘s Sovereignty over my life as I face some sort of issue, this prayer acquaints me with the dilemma’s affect on me. It also provides me with a Divine solution – PEACE! Philippians 4: 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Each request in the Serenity Prayer is significant.

At the point when I am “boarding” this train, my spirit cries out “GOD.” Now I must tell you that I had to learn how to interpret this instinctive cry and utilize this prayer. I can vividly remember my twenties, when I was SO overwhelmed by life and too afraid to ask for help,I thought/BELIEVED I was supposed to be able to know how to handle all of the things going on around and in my life. Asking for help seemed like a weak, spineless cop out. In essence, the lies had me fooled and I was destined to experience all of the calamity and blessings that God OK’d. I am so thankful for the Old Testament because my consistent pursuit into that portion of scripture, during my twenties, gave me this level of clarity as my twenties came to a close. However, I did not realize God’s sovereignty until my 30’s.

I take my “seat” on the train as my spirit declares “Grant me the SERENITY.” In other words, my peace has been disrupted. Some person, place, thing or situation has interrupted the harmony within me that fuels my purpose. It’s obvious to me now that at this point I have conceded to myself that I am in need of help – GOD’S HELP – in order to arrive at His desired will for my life. Somehow, someway I have gone astray and I NEED to be restored.

“Accept the things that I cannot change” – Action occurs as the train speeds towards the next stop. Acceptance is in motion. What characterizes the motion experience like that of an actual subway ride is how I adapt to the bumpy segments between stops. When you ride the subway it can sometimes be a rough ride. So it is as I have to get myself to this acceptance of whatever it is that has interfered with my peace. The plea for acceptance directly calls into focus what I CANNOT change. Here is where the bumps get intense. Who cares to admit that they can’t do something when they are so engrossed in the prospects of consistently looking good on the outside. The prayer quickly challenges every aspect of my ego. Summarily, everything that goes on outside of me that affects my core – people, places, things, situations – are BEYOND my control. Acceptance gets me into an awareness that God controls every aspect of what goes on outside of me PERFECTLY (whether I want to believe it or not) and I AM NOT GOD.  The doors close and the train leaves the stop quickly speeding towards the next one.

“Courage to change the things that I can” – Finally something that I can do. The action of acceptance does not stop. In addition , I now call on God to provide what  I can physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually utilize to affect change in effort to achieve peace at all these levels – COURAGE. It enables me to honestly assess all that is going on at my core – what I am feeling, how I am thinking and most of all HOW MUCH I AM TRUSTING IN GOD VS TRUSTING IN ME OR OTHERS.  Courage is necessary in order for me to make whatever changes that are necessary within me that puts God back in His proper place -1st.

Why is this such an important life principle? All month I have delved into courage to gain a greater willingness to get all that courage affords me. I am a fearful being on so many levels. So to arrive at the place where I can honestly seek the Lord’s presence from day to day, and continue to experience the power that His presence does supply, offers me a vast supply of courage. The courage I write about is based in TRUST, HOPE AND FAITH IN THE CREATOR OF THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH, who created me. It just seems so apparent to me that one of the biggest problems we face in our core is keeping God engaged in our day to day affairs. A daily surrender to the finished work at Calvary is not an obstacle when you realize your need for a Savior.  The Apostle Paul made a simple but profound declaration in Philippians 4:13 “I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHICH STRENGTHENS ME.”

The train doors close again as it speeds towards the destination. Along the way, my countenance has changed. I am now eager as I realize I am almost there. It is amazing at how quickly I have gone from 34th – downtown feeling all out of sorts and “off” – to 168th street – uptown Harlem – on top of my game, resting in the peace of God which is far beyond what I can possibly understand. Peace is at work because I called on God, requested “serenity now”, actively engaged acceptance and willingly utilized courage. But as the doors open at my final destination I am still in need of “The wisdom to know the difference.” Having the blessing of peace continuously at work in and around me requires a continued presence of wisdom. Wisdom to assess those things that are in my control and out of my control. The wisdom to know when I need to get back on the “aa” train.

 

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Breaking the Silence


Man with sledge hammer, Gerhard Janensch 1920 ...
Man with sledge hammer

It’s difficult to open up and express your heart when you feel the need to protect yourself. My innate coping skills to protect myself from experiencing heartache are grounded in silence. Often times I have used this skill in such a way that it backfires and causes me to have regret. “If only I had spoken up/out!” “I should have told ………. the truth, now it’s too late!” These 2 statements, internalized on many levels, can be haunting. For the past 2 weeks, God has been working on me, preparing me, instructing me on  “Breaking the Silence.”

Why the silence? Well it seems pretty obvious to me that this coping skill is a direct result of fear – fear of negative consequences i.e. I won’t be heard, believed, appreciated and loved -which is based in my realities from childhood. How many times in my adulthood have I had the opportunity to stand for the truth only to keep silent instead because of this fear? More than I can know, I am sure.

The idea that I must keep silent so that you will not become uncomfortable in my presence is the other dilemma that continues to fuel my silence. The fear that you will not accept me as a person worthy of your friendship, company and companionship remains as a staple characteristic of my silence. Once again I am compelled to abhor fear. It is crippling, damaging, and destructive.

I can do many things to combat against silence- pray, study the Bible, fellowship with others, therapy, practice honesty on a daily basis (all of which help considerably even to the point of publishing this today).  A recent post “The Good Comes Through AS U COME THROUGH” was the “shot” I needed today to invigorate my spirit to expose the willingness God is giving me in “Breaking the Silence.”

Hebrews 12:1-3 says 1. Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2. fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne ofGod. 3. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

The first time I studied this passage of scripture I was a pre-teen. By then I had already developed these crippling, damaging and self-destructive tendencies towards internalizing everything. People could say or do anything to me – harmful physical, mental and emotional acts by family, friends, and church members – and I would say NOTHING!

My cousin Peaches was instrumental in introducing me to the passage of scripture that I am referencing today. I thank God that He used her to challenge me then to study and discover the nuggets of truth contained herein. I stated earlier how difficult it is to overcome destructiveness and all that I can do to combat this dilemma. These statements accurately define the problem. Obviously the problem is still active. So then the solution – FAITH – is necessary.

What would Abraham‘s story have been if he did not have hope & faith in what God spoke to him about his inheritance and Sara in her unborn son through her aged womb? Moses would not have lived if his mother did not have FAITH in God’s ability to preserve him despite an edict of death. We would not have an example of perseverance through FAITH IN GOD without Moses’ wilderness experiences. The hall of faith gives us direct insight into Moses’ ability to trust in God rather than in man in ANY circumstance.

Breaking the silence today means to trust in God enough to lay aside this weight daily. I am amazed at how God has led me to this wonderful forum of blogging. It is the one way that I am aware of my willingness to break this destructive pattern. Even when I don’t know how to express my thoughts and feelings, He makes my pathway straight in this forum. ConquerorShots served me over the past few days as I clicked on a “shot” that I needed to get some courage to stay in the race.

There are times when reading/studying my Bible just seems mundane. I do it anyway but I keep silent because I feel that no one will appreciate my honesty. However, I DO NOT KEEP SILENT WITH GOD ANY LONGER! I may not be inclined to tell another person what I am dealing with personally because of the dynamics of my character I exposed earlier. They became damaging, crippling and destructive because I would NOT allow God to BE MY CONFIDANT.

The one thing that Conqueror Ministries advocates is consistency with prayer and reading God’s Word – NO MATTER WHAT! It does not matter how uncomfortable it may become -PRAYER CHANGES THINGS! How else can I lay aside every weight and the sin that does so easily harass me? How can I endure hardship like a good soldier? How can I keep my eyes focused on Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith? HOW ELSE CAN I POSSIBLY STAY IN THE RACE?

Romans 8:37 reminds me “Nay in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.” Outwardly it may appear that I am overwhelmed by life today, and often times that is true.

I thank God daily for His continued presence in my life, power over my life and the purpose for it all which He manifests through my life. Inwardly He keeps on getting better! It is an inside job………….  When I am willing to “have a little talk with Jesus” and tell Him all about my struggles……. breaking the silence is achieved every time. Telling Him gives me the courage to tell you too – in His time, not in mine – that is wonderful,blessed difference today.


This post simply offers you insight into how to STEP UP COURAGEOUSLY TODAY! Check it out and stay blessed.
God bless you Shannon.

Revelations In Writing

“All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s and He will give all of you into our hands.” – I Samuel 18:47

These words were spoken by faith, through the mouth of a young shepherd boy, who would one day become ruler of the nation of Israel.  In the face of the giant, Goliath, and the Philistine army, David had the courage to stand secure in the strength of God.  Not one of the Israelites had found the faith nor the courage to step forward to face the giant for the previous forty days.  Because God was with him, David spoke boldly and stepped up courageously, trusting that God could do exceedingly more than the Israelites could have even begun to believe.  As you know, with a sling and a stone and the Spirit…

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Donnie McClurkin penned a song “We Fall Down but We Get Up” years ago. You, somewhere in your lifetime, have fallen.Witness, identify and emulate what an ACT OF COURAGE does for you and the next person. Read the post please, then review the movie. This is time WELL invested! Stay blessed.

Thank you Cara Olsen for sharing your gift and your heart with ConquerorShots today.

God bless you Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, for recommending the post. 

This Little Light

We are a people easily inspired.

Should we be in the mood for something to encourage or uplift, it seems we need not exert ourselves beyond the click of a button. Pictures, music, clothing, food — it’s all there for our immediate access. In youth, inspiration is somewhat of a capacious, ethereal thing; it changes and morphs as rapidly as we do. Chance encounters, unfortunate circumstances, a generous accolade, a supportive parent — these experiences mold, shape, and respectively define what we consider to be inspirational.

What I find exceptionally grand is how, such as a match beneath brush, inspiration can ignite us, propel us upward and onward, all toward something that was otherwise not thought possible or attainable. Haven’t we all seen how even the unlikeliest of candidates found his or or her way after being “inspired” by a person, place, moment or thing. Truth be told  — and this…

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Full of Courage


Courage
Courage (Photo credit: Pete Reed)

In my lifetime I have been accused of being full of s_ _ t for various reasons – where I was, who I was with, what I was doing, what happened………  Sometimes I was even accused of this status even though I was as sober as a judge and telling the God‘s honest truth. It then occurred to me that this expression is a cliche’ and not necessarily a response that I needed to take to heart. It gave me the wisdom to “consider the source.” 

That consideration has prompted me to examine the statement “full of courage” today. When have you ever used this expression in describing someone? Try saying it – “You (are) full of courage!”  The tone and expression of this observation begs the question – “How is this possible?” You must admit that when you stumble upon someone that is endowed with courage it can be confrontational to you as you perhaps are entangled in a fear-driven reality. If honesty is present, and you are willing to acknowledge this person’s courage and inquire about how to attain it personally, the act of inquiry opens up your spirit to the opportunity to become “full of courage” yourself. BUT YOU MUST CONSIDER THE SOURCE!

2Corinthians 5:6 Therefore we are always full of courage, and we know that as long as we are alive here on earth we are absent from the Lord —
5:7 for we live by faith, not by sight.
5:8 Thus we are full of courage and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.(NASB)

The person is the example but the source of courage which fills the person is the BLESSED ASSURANCE OF THE HOPE OF THE GLORY OF GOD THROUGH THE POWER OF CHRIST THE RISEN SAVIOR AT WORK IN HIM/HER BY THE PRESENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

The theme of Paul’s writing deals specifically with the spiritual reality of the GIFT OF ETERNAL LIFE IN HEAVEN WITH CHRIST and the human struggles associated with living on Earth with all of its daily issues we face. This human reality is apparent to all- no matter what their socio-economic status may be. However, the spiritual component is what seperates “the men from the boys.”

Paul in this chapter defines being “full of courage” as a standard design for living as an Ambassador for Christ. It comes, not because of ANY attainment of status in the flesh (the flesh is to experience the continual “dying” process he defines in Galatians 2:20) which humans aspire towards naturally. When Christ was here on Earth performing all of the duties of His Earthly ministry, His most substantial acts were the death at Calvary, His burial and resurrection. By these acts, He secured the benefit to mankind for a “continued presence of His spirit in us” thereby relieving man of any need to please Him in the flesh.  PERSONAL COURAGE IN HUMAN ABILITIES IS FUTILE FROM THIS PERSPECTIVE. IT’S JUST NOT ENOUGH!

A thorough persuasion of the “fear of the Lord” is at work in this instance. This reverence is the bedrock of our “walk by faith, not by sight.” It yields the assurance of the appointed time which God ordained before the foundations of the world whereby we must all appear before the “Judgement seat of Christ.” Notice that there is no hesitation for this great appearing. It is a bold statement that infers a “Blessed Assurance” that “Jesus Paid It ALL” at Calvary. Therefore, all of the blessings associated with His “Finished” work at Calvary cultivates a fullness of courage deep within our spirits that garners a great expectation for our Eternal Life over any human expectation for our Earthly life. And so, we are FREE then to experience ALL of the FULLNESS OF OUR EARTHLY LIFE through the “good works that God foreordained that we should walk in them” during our lifetime while we “look forward to that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ” eternally.

Stop trying to fix yourself with human effort and let God create your NEWNESS through His spirit at work in you today.

The fact remains WHETHER YOU BELIEVE IN CHRIST AS YOUR PERSONAL SAVIOR OR NOT you will STAND before HIM in eternity. You can stand before Him at the Great White Throne IN FEAR OF THE ETERNAL OUTCOME or you can BOLDLY STAND before Him at The Judgement Seat of Christ FULL OF COURAGE! This earthly life you are blessed with is afforded to you as an opportunity to GET IN WHERE YOU FIT IN.

Jesus Christ is the Way!

A Presence of COURAGE


Courage
Courage (Photo credit: drp)

In my teen years we used to sing a song in the choir – “I’m determined to walk with Jesus-yes I am.” Through hard trials, tribulations, persecutions, I am Determined… I’m Determined to walk with Jesus, yes I am.”  It had an infectious bass line that pounced down deep in the souls of all who heard it with a reverberating, spiritual anchor. A simple yet powerful display of the presence of COURAGE.

This type of determination I speak of must have it’s origins securely connected to a firm foundation. I have found it to be a compelling gift to be able to assess when it is present and when it is not. I know that there are many times when my faith in Christ and the finished work at Calvary gives me courage to stand in the midst of hardships. I have just too many examples to refuse this reality. But, I must admit there are times when my human side shows up. Then, and only then, is my determination to walk with Jesus hindered.

I am glad that we have Joshua 1 to remind us all of what the presence of COURAGE in us looks like. In the first 9 verses God repeatedly offers Joshua this vital instruction – “Be strong and of a good COURAGE” 2 times and  “Be thou strong and very COURAGEOUS”. Then towards the end of the chapter he again states “Be strong and of a good COURAGE.”  By the 10th chapter God once again felt the need to ONCE AGAIN REPEAT “Be strong and of a good COURAGE.”

Thank God for repetition! He is so gracious. How many times has he repeated something in your life? Are you listening? I know this Divine teaching principle has always been at work in my life. For so long I was too caught up in my human affairs to even pay attention to the  subtle messages God was teaching me through repetition. It took God’s consistent faithfulness in and over my life to get me to yield to his Word. But in the text, Joshua was a quick learner. He was listening to God’s Word so intently that by verse 18 it appears that the message was thoroughly received – “BE STRONG AND OF A GOOD COURAGE JOSHUA!”

“Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might,” Ephesians 6:10 comes to mind as we define what strength was required. Joshua was going to encounter many adversaries – some of which were superior to his military preparedness. Joshua had to rely on the Strength of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to overpower the might of the earthly armies along the way. If he were naive enough to disregard God’s instruction – “BE STRONG AND OF A GOOD COURAGE JOSHUA” – he would not have realized the success that God was calling him and the children of Israel to. It stands to reason hear how difficult it must have been for Joshua to disregard ALL human efforts to succeed and rely TOTALLY on the STRENGTH AND POWER of God’s Word EXCLUSIVELY. Imagine how Joshua had to encounter the men under his command who would see the mission from the prospective of human eyesight and how he had to CONSTANTLY remind them of the importance of FAITH IN GOD’S WORD! It seems to me that the more opposition he faced, the more inclined Joshua was to exercise DETERMINATION to do it God’s way and thereby continue to bask in the presence of COURAGE.

We often times get sidetracked from the presence of COURAGE because we put so many unsubstantiated demands on ourselves on how a DETERMINED response should look like. “I should have said this” “I could have done it this way” “Why can’t I be like ……..” “If only I had ……. faith”  “God I want to be like……” Clearly the demands we place on ourselves to be what or who we are not capable of being – AT THE TIME – are designs of bondage that keep us from being the person we are at that moment and relying on God’s Word exclusively.  Joshua never seemed to experience a dilemma getting ready for God to demonstrate His power. He merely was who He was called to be – the son of Nun and Moses’ right hand trained to one day lead – who was given Divine and SPECIFIC instructions on how to succeed moving forward. He did not have to encounter all of the self help gurus, the constant barrage’ of success stories that dictate how human success works and constant reminders of how success is SUPPOSED to look. NO! He was under the tutelage of Jehovah Jireh, Jehovah Shalom, Jehovah Shammah and Jehovah Tsori just to drop some names 🙂

What a travesty it would have been if Joshua was so egotistical to respond to God by saying, “OK God, I hear you. I will get the ranks ready and we are going to make you proud of us. I am going to do my best. You will not be ashamed of me God, I won’t let you down. I got it God. We will be strong in our might and skill sets, our military growth and our courage to win will not go unrealized.” This is why God makes a SPECIFIC attempt to repeat the message “BE STRONG AND OF A GOOD COURAGE, JOSHUA.”

Guess what, God is doing the same repetition today. Are you so busy telling God how you are going to get the job done that you are not basking in the the reality of His Sovereignty? – “IT’S ALREADY DONE!” A presence of COURAGE is so peaceful. You can be assured that God will do EXACTLY what He is going to do and no one or nothing can prevent His will from prevailing. The more Joshua practiced this “single-mindedness” the more he realized victory and success. It worked then and it is STILL working today.

THANK YOU LORD FOR THE PRESENCE OF COURAGE.