On July 4th 1776, America realized its independence. We as a nation matured to a point that we decided that our ideals should be separate from our governing nations. For the first time in many years of battling, we were faced with the exhilarating truth that we can exist outside of England and live as independent individuals. On july 4th each year, we celebrate that truth, but I submit however that this is not the end of the road for us as a nation or as an individual.

At or around age two, a child for the first time realizes that they are independent. Up until that point, when they are sad they think that everyone is sad, when they are hungry they assume everyone is hungry and are completely dependant on their parents to meet their needs. At age two, they learn that they exist outside of their parents and experience a combination of freedom and fear at the same time, a necessary stage in development.

The stage of independence is an important one because it teaches a sense of ownership in one’s life. It serves a purpose to hopefully break entitlement and selfishness, but staying in this mindset of independence will create division and death. God says that it is not good for man to be alone and that together we can put many more things to flight than we can alone.

Ephesians 4:16 tells us that God makes the whole body fit together perfectly. “As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” A mature individual realizes that as independent people we can benefit from each other’s wisdom, love, support, and more. We know that God alone can satisfy us, but we need to put to heart that we are exponentially healthier as a team, and in turn can accomplish more for the kingdom.

So I encourage us today to celebrate our Interdependence day. Let us realize that together we are stronger, healthier, and more efficient contributors to the kingdom of heaven. Today, as we remember our independent stage, let us move past that, break down our walls of division, and open ourselves up to the interdependent stages.

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Shield Bearing

During the time of Rome, the legionaries were prized warriors, fearless and versatile, a formative opponent to all that opposed Rome. In addition to their strong weapons, they were equipped with large shields to protect themselves from flaming arrows intended to weaken their battle lines.

Like the legionaries, we also have an enemy that likes to assault us with flaming arrows. Luckily, Ephesians 6 tells us that we too have a shield to block incoming arrows. However in order to be efficient in battle we have to grow in faith, or at least cry out to God for his protection.

But what if we lack the faith?

Many of us try to use our shields, but find they are bulky and clumsy. We may learn to block some only to find others keep getting through. God is faithful to heal us after the damage has been done, but I submit that this is not what he intended.

The legionaries knew that their individual shields were not sufficient in of themselves. Even with all their training, there would always be an area that they could not protect. To solve this they would huddle together and use their individual shields to protect each other, trusting that if they use their shield to protect their neighbor then someone else would protect their exposed areas.

Even if there are many areas where we are weak in faith, there are certain areas that we are strong. Areas where we won victories over and over again to the point our faith has grown sufficient to distinguish those certain types of arrows. In these areas, we must huddle together and place our shield infront of them forcing the enemies arrows to hit our shield instead.

When we protect people where we strong, others will protect us in the areas where we are weak. When we step outside of ourselves and learn to bear shields for others we will become like the legionaries, strong and mighty, an impenetrable force.  Paul encourages us with the letter to ephesians to stand firm together. When we do, the enemy will flee. (Ephesians 6:14)

So let us focus on the areas where we are strong be encouraged to cover other where they are weak. This life a battle, lets us stand firm together.

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We will Overcome

Why do some people seem to have an easy life, while others struggle?

There are those who seem to be showered with favor, while the rest of us have to fight for everything we have.

We fail over and over again,
We fall down, get back up,  and fall again.
Once one enemy is defeated in one area, there is another one to push us back down.

Unfortunately, God does not guarantee us simple lives. Throughout the bible we find people struggling and failing. The key is to not get caught up with our failure and realize that, in christ, we are much stronger than we think. We are overcomers. God has given us the tools sufficient enough to win every victory. We only fail when we dont realize it.

The only truth that has power is the truth we know and choose to walk in daily. Truth alone does not set us free. (John 8:32)

We are told that we will triumph by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony, and that testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. (Revelation 1:9 and 19:10)

When we overcome, we not only gain victory for ourselves, but also earn the right to speak our victory as living prophecy into others. In addition, our entire family line will receive blessings from our victories for a thousand generations just like we are blessed because of our family members before us. (exodus 20:6)

So let us be encouraged to know that Jesus has all the tools to defeat the enemy. Let us make a stand for victory, not just for ourselves, but for our family line and everyone around us. Let us not focus on our past, but turn our attention on what God can do through us for others as we choose him.

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Are you under siege?

Inspired Pastor Joshua Rivas, Christ’s Center Church.

In 1941, Hitler set out to conquer Russia in his campaign for fascism. The German army was mobilized to take the city of Leningrad and then attempt to defeat Moscow, in their strategic assault against the soviet union.

On September 8th 1941, The Germans had fully encircled Leningrad forming, in their words, an iron ring around the city. Despite certain defeat, three million civilians, including 400,000 children refused to surrender even as they endured rapidly increasing hardships.  By the winter of 1941, there was no heating, no water supply, and very little food.

Between January and February of 1942, 200,000 people died from cold and starvation. Before the siege ended 900 days later, over one million people would give their life. The attack has been recorded as one of the most prolonged, brutal, and dramatic events of World War II.

In the midst of all this death, during this time when shells were falling on the city, a man by the name of Dmitri Shostakovich composed his seventh symphony. He chose to write a victory song before there was even a glimpse of victory.

“I couldn’t not write it,” Shostakovich said “war was all around.” No composer before had ever tried to describe a future victory in music with such power and conviction during a time when his people were fighting for the very right to exist as a nation.

Everything the Russian army did was being shattered by the Germans, but even then, Shostakovich had the resounding purpose to prove to the world that they hadn’t given up.

Copyists worked into the night preparing the symphony for distribution to their musicians. Loudspeakers were set up throughout the city aimed over the walls at the enemy as a direct act of defiance, sending the clear message that they would never surrender. Prior to the performance, the soviets pounded the Germans with a round of shells to silence them and make way for the music.

On Aug 9th 1942, one year before they would see victory, Leningrad performed their victory song.

How many of us are under siege right now, in the midst of an iron ring? There are places in our lives where we know we heard a promise of God, but are trapped. We hear reports of others breakthrough, but have yet to see our own.

How many of us are under siege in our dreams? There is a promise of God that we know is ours, but all we can hear are the guns.

Every strategy we come up with gets shattered.
Every open door, right when we get to it, slams in our face.
Every friend we have seems to be strangely busy.

All we can see is the death of what was, or the hopelessness of what has never been.

Even in the midst of this time, with no resources, with no backup plan, no good outlook, God declares to us, “For I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.”  Then you will call on him and pray to him and He will listen to you.

God understands our circumstances, he listens to our pain, and he continues to declare hope. He consistently speaks to things that are not as though they are. He knows the end of our story and He sees that we are victorious. He is beckoning us to submit to his perspective, to pull the future into the reality, and respond accordingly.

So let us write our victory song while we are still in the ashes, while the the shells are still coming down on our life. Let us dare to believe that there is a hope and a future, and let us turn the speakers towards our enemies and declare our victory, this day.

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The Upward Spiral

Have you felt like you live your Christian life from one spiritual high to the next? At times touching the heart of God, and other times living for yourself?

There are times we have moments of clarity, revival conferences, church camps, or just fantastic mornings. In these times, we feel that nothing can beat us, but then troubles of the world come back and we fall. Soon enough, we find ourselves back in our old ways sinning. That gets us down so we sin again, and around and around it goes. Finally, in desperation we cry out for God. He lifts us up, brushes us off, and sets us up on solid ground, but we then continue to fall.

It’s the downward spiral that is the spiritual walk for so many Christians.

Gods love keeps picking us up even though we then continue to plummet back down, but my friends, this is not His plan for us. He has so much more.

The problem with this way of living is that there is no guidance, no ownership, and no action to stop the downward spiral. When there is no action, we continue to fall.


Because when God picks us up, he fixes the effect of our sin without solving our desire for sin. We feel relieved and are thankful for the rest, but so often we take this rest as a personal victory and decide that we are no longer in danger, but this is the opposite of the truth.

In these moments of grace, there is an obligation for us to fight, not rest.

These temporary gifts of clarity are for us to see how much better life is outside the mud, but freedom without action is meaningless. Just like a prisoner who had the doors open for him, we need to make the best of these spiritual highs, and use them to cut off the things dragging us away from God.

When we cut off our bonds, the true lasting joy comes to invigorate us to continue fighting. If we fight for intimacy in times we feel good, then we will gain the momentum to keep drawing closer in times of trouble. Soon enough, when the high wears off and we find ourself faced with adversity, we will realize that instead of falling, we changed our course and are now starting to rise.

This is the upward spiral that God desires us to live in.

My friends, let us be encouraged to accept Gods grace and strength to use these moments of grace to cut off the things that pull us down. Let us be invigorated so we can experience the upward spiral as a constant in our Christian walk.

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