Spiritual Warfare and the Power of Relationship

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Spiritual Warfare and the Power of Relationship

By Stephen L France

“Love your neighbour” – Matthew 22:39

It was a very unpleasant night that prompted this blog, so I haven’t formatted it as well as I’d like.

I went to sleep with a hollow feeling in my stomach, that commenced immediately at the end of a cell social.

It was a Friday night; the cell social was dinner at a Chinese Restaurant, but the meal hadn’t tasted good.

The conversation had been fun, but when the night came to an early end after the meal, there was a feeling inside me of incompleteness.

Perhaps it was because two years and seven months ago, nights would end much later than 9:00pm.

Perhaps it was because one of the guys suggested going for drinks afterwards; although I'd have liked to accompany him, I knew I couldn’t do that; re-entering the arena of ‘worldliness’—even if I drank a cranberry juice—would be dangerous territory for me.

This is because it would put my mind in a place best described in Psalm 73, or Exodus when the Israelites wish to return to Egypt.

In other words, I'd survey my surrounding of a Friday night in Leicester Square where we were, and begin to wrestle with the desires of worldly living.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had this feeling of incompleteness after a Christian social night.

My transition from being ‘of the world’ to ‘of the Kingdom’ has warranted many changes in my life.

One of the more superficial amendments, is growing accustomed to the early end-time to socials.

This is where the ‘unpleasant night’ statement earlier, enters.

Going to bed, the incompleteness inside morphed in my sleep, transforming into nightmares with both physical headaches and stomach pains, keeping me between consciousness and sleep.

Although this could have been inspired by food poisoning, I knew straight away that this was a spiritual attack as well.

People may have different descriptions of spiritual attacks, but there are some common points that differentiate it from a bad dream.

1) It hurts you emotionally to such a degree that you carry it into your waking life

2) It drains your energy – a very similar, possibly identical feeling to depression

3) It plays on your personal, deep mental wounds and deceives you massively

The major factor about a spiritual attack, is that it’s not simply a random affair. It arrives with purpose and plays a part on past pains within.

The pain within was loneliness and so I had to ask myself, “why now?”

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God has done a miraculous work to clear loneliness out of my soul – I don’t say ‘miraculous’ lightly.

Nothing has physically changed in my life this past year, yet somehow to the best of what I know, loneliness has disappeared—a true Godly wonder!

However, on this night, it returned with a vengeance because of an incompleteness inspired by the social.

It might appear like I don’t have a point here and I suppose because this blog wasn’t planned, it might not be going in a very structured direction, but there is a point.

I’ve stressed time and time again that ‘relationship’ is the powerful aspect of our Christian life.

It forges our walk with God and ability to surrender to Him completely.

When we have cell socials or any fellowship at all, the principle core is ‘relationship’ founded on:

1) God’s love for us [1 John 4:19] in Christ who gave His life

2) Our restored relationship with our Father in Heaven

3) Our image of God as the perfect Father

Through this grace, I'm able to clearly see ‘relationship’ to other people as:

  • Love/charity/selfless service to others
  • Transparency in truth with others
  • Vulnerability to others
  • Honest communication

…living the aforementioned points can create the best kind of life – a life founded in Christ without loneliness or the fear of isolation.

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The words “Love your neighbour,” aren’t just simple words or a rule for the sake of righteousness. It’s a law that guides us on living THE perfect life; Heaven on Earth.

ANYTHING contrary to relationship—anything at all connected to isolation—will see us in a less favourable emotional disposition.

Putting this into practical terms for my life, this means taking a step of faith, serving my Christian brothers and sisters even more than I’ve been doing. It means calling my church peers simply to see how they’re doing. It means studying scripture with others and praying together either face-to-face or via phone outside of cell gatherings.

Overall, it means relating, and doing everything available that Christ strengthens me to do as He is my source of hope, peace, and fulfilment.

Through Him, everything is possible and I have every faith that the loneliness that attempts to distort my perceptions will disappaear.

When Will My Heart’s Desire Arrive?

By Stephen L France

For the last few blog entries, I’ve talked about trials in various ways.

Although there are plenty of new testimonies I could offer about God’s grace, what I’m really waiting on is a clear, indisputable answered prayer, meeting my heart’s desire.

The challenges that have occurred over 2017, where God has allowed me to overcome haven’t been desire fulfilment. They’ve been fiery trials [1 Peter 4: 12 – 13] and I’ve been called to keep faith, and by His grace, He’s seen me through. I gleefully anticipate transformation where ‘I delight in the Lord, and he gives me the desires of my heart.’ [Psalm 37:4]

This may sound ungrateful or selfish, but I’ve come to learn that in our relationship with the Lord, we all should expect that He will meet our ‘heart’s desires;’ it’s part of His loving nature [Jeremiah 29:11].

After wise Godly counsel regarding the difference between ‘spiritual blessings’ and our ‘heart’s desires,’ this blog has almost doubled in size for what was initially intended. My soul understands that I’m spiritually blessed – “praise God, for He is great!”

But, I’m still wondering when my heart’s desires will be met.

To clarify, my dreams are:

1)    Start a Godly ministry for men to serve the Kingdom (this is very new to me and has become increasingly stronger over the last 7 months)

2)    Have enough finance from my writing career to funnel into Kingdom works

3)    Have a Christian wife and ‘x’ children and be in loving service to them

I’m not saying there has to be a specific number of desires and the order changes with my feelings and thoughts; I would love to be noble for the kingdom, but my desire no.1 often exchanges with no.3.

Perhaps I’m being naïve, but there is a particular type of situation when we pray for something and our desire is met exactly as prayed for. The kind of gift that is better than our human fathers could ever give [Matthew 7:11], which compels us to get down on our knees, praising and worshipping God in all His glory.

Francis Chan, one of our renowned brothers in Christ says, “there is nothing better in this world than an answered prayer.” How many of us can say we’ve received something exactly as we prayed for?

This is the kind of gift where we’re certain God has moved in our lives and instils us with loving obedience to cast off all fear [1 John 4:18], and give thanks in live testimony in front of our church congregation.

Along this journey, the Lord has continued to transform my mind [Romans 12:2] with sincere changes that have impacted my soul, leading to an increasingly selfless attitude. Don’t get me wrong; when God takes us to the depths of our souls, there are some very unpleasant revelations to accept about how selfish we really are, but in surrender, He changes all of it with a power beyond our comprehension. 

Overall, what I’m looking forward to revealing to anyone who will listen, is to say “my God gave me my heart’s desire;” to write without doubt, fear, or anxiety that God has truly shown favour in my life.

As I’ve said earlier, I could certainly testify to God’s greatness this year – it’s never ending; I’m able to write a list of the amazing things He’s tasked me with, that have shown how much I’ve been changed. But the Lord knows my heart. I would only be fooling myself and others if I were to embellish persevering with 2017’s trials, professing that they were meeting of my heart’s desires.

They’re not.

And that’s just being profoundly honest.

Nonetheless, I’m appreciative because He’s allowed me to see clearly how He’s transforming me.

I repeat, “the Lord knows my heart” and I’m aware He’s the God who makes the impossible happen.

I maintain faith I will soon know what it’s like to be truly delighted, undoubting, unwavering, joyful, peaceful, and thankful, continuing this path so that I finish well.  

I believe the most important lesson we come to learn, is God’s significance and foundation within our heart’s desires.

God doesn’t ally His desires to ours as if we’re the foundation. No.

He transforms us so that we align our desires to His perfect, flawless way. When this happens, then we find our desires being met, because we are walking with His will in us.

The question at the centre of all this—which is the embodiment of the faith struggle—is, God’s way, or my way?

The tricky part of God’s way – it requires focus, faith, perseverance, and patience. Attributes often lacking in the best of us. But in this weakness, that’s where He can do His best work in us [2 Corinthians 12:9].

Please feel free to give testimony of God meeting your desires, so that it might benefit others

SEE MORE FROM FEEDING FAITH HERE

When do God’s Trials for us end?

When do God’s Trials for us end?

By Stephen L France

There is a simple answer to this question – “they don’t until we die…and our last breath maybe a trial in itself!”

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. [Matthew 16:24 – 26]

We’re in a struggle with ourselves for as long as we make the ‘free-will choice’ to live by Spirit and not by flesh.

The quarrels among us aren’t about the people we’re fighting with; work colleagues, friends, family, or spouses. They come from our desires that battle within us, [James 4:1] which is why many of us arrive at the God-given wisdom to submit to our Lord and resist the devil, [James 4:7] knowing that our internal fight can only be won with surrender to our Creator’s sovereignty.

However, I ask ‘when do God’s trials end?’ in reference to the deep cleaning of my soul from past wounds and deceptions; the hurts and lies that live with me daily whether I’m conscious of them or completely oblivious.

I’m talking about the pains that slipped in throughout my childhood and adolescence, that now govern how I think, behave, and react – the secret gods of my life, that work to steal true joy and peace, and provide false happiness and temporary resolution.

1 Peter 4:12 – 13 and James 1: 2 – 4 speak of trials, but they also reveal that there is a conclusion that brings joy to the individual who has gone through them and glorifies God.

Recently, I was waking up at 6:04 on the dot for several consecutive days.

I didn’t know why and had gone to bed at late hours; however, on the third morning, I woke to a foreign and overwhelming thought with an accompanying emotion.

This thought was like someone smashed a gong beside my head and has put me on the path of my hardest mental trial to date. The Lord knows this is difficult for me, because He’s fully aware of my heart.

Despite my usual transparency, I’m not willing to disclose this specific thought, but suffice to say, it is here to stay until the trial inside me concludes and I learn that God can bless me.

Subsequent to revelation of the trial, that very morning I jumped out of bed, got on my knees, and pleaded with God to take the trial away from me, but I also added: "let the Father’s will be done.”

Of course, I always have the option to get out of this trial as we all do, but it’s so well-tailored to me, and avoiding it would be running away from God’s love and care in making me perfect and entire [James 1:4].

I shared the following verses and accompanying spiritual revelations with my Bible cell group, regarding trials; the Scripture and Lord’s message gave me an incredible sense of strength for the struggles to come.

My brethren count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations... [James 1:2]

One huge reason why I sincerely count it joy that I’m in my present position, is because it reveals that the Lord must love and trust me so much to present the burden he has.

He's aware it’s my greatest weakness and yet He believes I will overcome it.

I know this for certain because our Lord does not desire or have any practical purpose for hurting me to the point of losing me from His narrow road.

He is patient with us, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. [2 Peter 3:9]

See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. [Isaiah 48:10]

In my challenging situation, I imagine my Father in Heaven declaring to His assembly hall:

Have you considered my servant Stephen? There is no one on earth like him…a man who fears God and shuns evil. [Paraphrasing Job 1:8]

He's exalting me saying:

“He can handle the issue.”

“He can stand firm in this trial.”

A Godly sister added to my revelations to my Bible cell with this response:

So that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. [2 Thessalonians 1:12]

I cannot say for certain when the Godly trials of my soul are going to end.

Truthfully, it isn’t the spiritually apt question to ask and is more of human curiosity.

My focus lies on what our Lord wants and what He wishes me to learn during the trial.

So that’s what I will do; continue to give thanks for the trial and know that the Lord intends to fortify me for greater things.

Do you have Godly trials that you’re struggling with at the moment?

See more from Feeding Faith HERE

How does pursuit of DESIRES fit with GOD'S plan?

By Stephen L France

On the ‘worldly social scene’ in my teenage years and early twenties, I’d always felt obstructed by moral barriers. I was only free of these principles, following consumption of copious amounts of alcohol.

But in Dec 2014—after five years abroad—I returned to London a changed man, transformed, and liberated of inhibitions.

I had a simple plan for my life going forward.

Initiate my financial boom through writing my novels, and take full relentless advantage of my newfound amorality — a conscience that no longer knew ethical boundaries as a result of many painful situations, during my time on the other side of the world.

The multitude of hurtful occasions while away from home, implanted a soul-destroying lesson; the world is cruel and no one cares for morals anymore, so I don’t need to either.

Being back in London, I joined the most popular dating apps on my phone and was about to commence my tenure on the ‘worldly’ side of life—fully intentional—knowing my desires were permissible by secular world standards.

I’d never felt such freedom before; I was ready to make money and chase a licentious life with the enticing delights London has to offer…

The ‘worldly’ plan…interrupted

Jesus said:

“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it.” [Mark 8:35]

Before I even had time to begin making money, enjoying the night life of London, and pursuing my own will, things took an unusual turn.

A week after arriving in the city of smog, I was unexpectedly at a Christian Bible cell dinner, then Emmanuel Evangelical Church, followed by joining a cell, then reading the Bible cover to cover, and my baptism.

There was no time for middle-ground or Luke-warmness in these months.

It was either ‘in’ with Christ or ‘out,’ and I made my choice.

This was not easy and was met with many moments where I attempted to blend worldly desires with Christ’s life for me.

Of course, this NEVER works.

After a gruelling set of Godly trials—examining past wounds and the self-deceptive coping mechanisms I created (scroll down to see previous blog)—2017 has seen me beginning life again, but with God as the foundation of every single facet.

I have surrendered my life to Christ’s grace, knowing what the Lord means when he says “you will save your life.”

I can’t help but feel that in giving my self to Christ, this is not only describing saving my life in eternity, but also my life on Earth.

The transformation He has nurtured has seen me living a healthier physical, mental, and spiritual lifestyle.

Of course, my conscience attacks sometimes with words equating to: Life is passing me by…

Going forward

Having travelled this narrow road with a fierce hunger for the Lord, my main cause for writing this blog is to ask the questions:

Where does life ambition and money fit in with God’s will?

Is life truly passing me by now that I'm spending much of my time in Godly pursuits?

I’ve been on a part time salary for the past two years and four months and strongly believe this has been God’s will, because it has allowed me ample time to get to know Him intimately.

It’s blessed me with the freedom to consult Scripture daily, read many secondary sources, attend a variety of Godly conferences, and take on multiple courses for profound soul-searching and healing with Christ.

If you speak to me today, my two main statements of revelation are:

1) I cannot believe I ever thought God didn’t love me – He loves people more than words can describe. Everybody needs to know this for the foundation of their self-worth, significance, and security

2) I’m so sorry and sad for the abundance of deceptions that exist in this world – it’s preposterous how many lies are living around us, in us, and through us. I wish to do my Lord’s will and expose the lies to the Light

With this now founded in my heart, I’ve turned my attention back to my life’s desires in the form of my career and regaining financial stability.

This has meant vigilance over time management and making some difficult choices.

The major question that has arisen in my mind is:

Am I putting my own life pursuits before God?

I reviewed the following three verses to answer my query:

Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” [Mark 10.21]

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. [Matthew 6:24]

For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. [1 Timothy 6:10]

There are three fundamental points I drew from this:

1) I cannot let money or anything in life assume control over God. E.g. In making decisions between paid work and voluntary service for the Lord, my choice comes down to spiritual discernment and knowing the Word of the Lord. The fact is, He knows my heart so there is no way around my choice, save being absolutely honest about my intentions in heart-felt confession

2) It is impossible to have two Gods so there’s no point in trying to align them. I have to understand that either I serve God or other life pursuits – never both

3) Love of money or anything else other than God will lead me to evil, translating into wicked behaviour like selfishness, arrogance, ostentatiousness, greed, lust, envy, pride etc.

Conclusion

God does not say that I cannot be ambitious in my career nor does He say that acquiring financial wealth is a sin.

The statute our Lord commands of us is to make sure that money does not become a God substitute or godly idol.

God must come first in all things I do, including pursuit of career and financial stability.

I must fall in line to God’s will--the narrow and perfect way--and not try to align God’s will to my pursuits in life.

So, bringing this into my own life: if a Godly course, conference, or book recommendation emerges and there is a strong calling on me to pursue it for the Lord, am I going to say “no” due to time management and my own desires?

Absolutely not; I will prioritise whatever God has for me, because His way is always the right way in all things.

This may mean firing forward with my career or submitting to further patience, knowing that the Lord's way is always good and right.

Do you ever debate with God’s will for you?

COMMENTS BELOW PLEASE

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Battling with Horrific Dark Thoughts and the Unbelievable Lies of Loneliness

The Garden of Gethsemane - The greatest most loving choice of our world's past, present, and future was made here 

The Garden of Gethsemane - The greatest most loving choice of our world's past, present, and future was made here 

By Stephen L France

There are forces out there that would greatly desire that I perceive myself as isolated, segregated, and alone…’spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.’ [Ephesians 6:12]

The fact is, in February of this year, the greatest physician that ever lived revealed to me just how sick I really am.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” [Matthew 11:28]

This wasn’t a condescending or condemning revelation – far from it. It was the truth in absolute clarity with the promise of healing.

The physician was Christ and the diagnosis of my sickness was founded in my parents’ divorce.

This may seem like an obvious root, but denial goes deeper than an individual simply lying to themselves and those around them.

Denial reached so deep inside my own heart, it convinced me I was healthy and that the wound I carried was something to be proud of.

My ‘healthy story’ was that my parents’ divorce was better than most marriages; after all, they got along better in their divorce than those who opted to remain in unhealthy unions.

What I didn’t realise was the ‘death seed,’ or great deception that had been planted in my subconscious because of my parents’ documented separation.

When my parents made the decision to permanently divide, I made a conscious choice that God the Father was my enemy.

In the following years growing up, anything bad that occurred was attributed to God the Father and I grew to hate Him.

The hatred formed a deep well of anger and sadness in my heart as more unpleasant situations throughout my teenage years and twenties, compounded the original wound.

With this layering effect, I failed to see the hugest of lies embedded as a result of the profound wound of my parents’ divorce, and a single-mother household.

The lie of my entire life was simple:

“Stephen, good things can never happen for you. Never.”

Flash forward to the present day and we have a version of me struggling to get free of this deception.

The lies within pride, self-defence mechanisms, manufactured coping procedures, and protective measures have all been exposed, which is great.

However, I have nothing left with which to handle life, save completely relying on God’s loving grace. This is vastly difficult for an individual who has trusted prideful, egotistical coping mechanisms for so long; creature comforts that have all been revealed as minor or major self-deceptions in dealing with life.

These coping mechanisms and creature comforts are diverse and creative in nature, but all need to be removed if I'm to walk closer with the Holy Spirit:

Coping Mechanism Examples

1) Not being vulnerable to anyone and keeping my barriers up, making sure I remain strong by being cold, emotionless, and unmoved by people around me. The deception meant I never got to experience real relationship with anyone

2) Gaining attention from women and enjoying it to build and maintain my confidence and self-worth. The deception is that I built my significance, self-worth, and security on people who were easily changeable. Perhaps better phrased, I built my house on sand

3) Facebook profile page – having a virtual personality that I could tailor to show my best side physically and mentally. The deception is that my self-worth was dependent on people’s admiration and appreciation through ‘Likes’ and ‘Comments’

Creature Comfort Examples

1) Alcohol – the Friday night deception of a ‘drunken booze high’ that would end in a horrible hangover

2) Night clubs – the lie that lured me to believe I might meet the idyllic wife in a bar despite that the London night scene is now a place for awkward rendezvous and unhealthy relationships

3) Fast food – synthesised food whose manufactured smell and taste comforted me before I realised it’s not real food and has no nutritional value

The great Truth about coping mechanisms and creature comforts is that these are areas where if we choose to fill them with Christ instead, He can keep us sustained in a healthy manner, asking nothing from us.

“but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life." [John 4:14]

Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” [John 6:35]

I have had to ask myself; do I trust Jesus to give me everything that my prideful methods used to?

Do I take Christ as seriously as these words in scripture profess?

Dark Thoughts I’ve experienced

With my personal methods of handling life all revealed as lies, I’ve been finding my way through Christ, but experiencing mental opposition that has been savagely painful.

As I said earlier, the lie that has been planted in me declares that “I can’t have good things.”

It doesn’t stop there.

The thoughts behind this lie are ‘generous’ and offer me two powerful and appetising options; two options that make me sound quite mad, but that look genuinely better than the life I lead.

The two options from this ‘kind’ voice are as follows:

“Stephen, you know it’s impossible for you to have the life you’re seeking. You know you will never meet the woman that you’ve always wanted…but there is a way out. There is a way to end your pain…”

1) Runaway – leave this Christian madness behind you and escape. Be free

2) Die – the pain of 24 years will finally be over. You’ll be free

Now, I must declare that I’m not suicidal. Not by any means!

I’m also aware that this dark thought is more prevalent in people’s minds than the world or church would care to admit.

With the former option, I already tried running away – I was in Caribbean paradise for five years…it was not paradise and that’s putting it mildly.

Nevertheless, the attractive nature of these options is because my brutally wounded mind cannot fathom receiving good things in life. Essentially, my brain cannot absorb that I’ll ever receive real love.

My mind therefore looks to escape methods, but the options it gives me are sinister to say the least…

Regardless, I’m extremely hopeful.

I look to Scripture and I see that when holding to Christ and His Holy Spirit, these extreme times of physical, mental, and spiritual warfare, reveal a huge blessing in the aftermath.

I don’t know what that blessing will be, but after the remarkable EEC Surrender conference that clarified for me that God is the loving Sovereign professed in the Word, I’m now finding His love is filling my heart.

This is not a throwaway comment.

After two years and three months of intense pursuit of the Lord, I’m receiving the love of God!

There is no scientific formula to this – I can track back and tell you everything I’ve done, but it really does come down to surrendering to the Lord’s process.

A final note – the image above has been a tremendous source of strength for me.

It’s not so much the image, but the scene of scripture that this picture is depicting. It’s the Garden of Gethsemane and it’s where the most loving and gracious choice in this world to date was made.

I urge all to get familiar with what this scene means. It always presents this question to me; how could I have ever questioned if the Lord really loves me?

Have you got profound mental battles that you’re facing at the moment?

Are you bringing ‘every thought to the obedience of Christ?’ [2 Corinthians 10:5]

PLEASE COMMENT AND SHARE

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The Biggest Revelation Yet…I have no friends...

The Biggest Revelation Yet…I have no friends

By Stephen L France

It’s a very painful epiphany to realise you have no friends.

I don’t mean this in the sense that I’m some sort of social misfit, but rather that wounds of the past have not allowed me to receive people with the love that solid friendships should exemplify (God shows us true friendship in 1 Samuel 18: 1 – 5).

This week of February 20, 2017 has been testament to just how far deception can go, because although I knew I had an inability to receive love, I didn’t KNOW it.

A friend asked me a series of questions with a revelation she’d received from God about me.

The dark truth came out.

I confessed: I actually didn’t consider anyone my friend.

I knew with unadulterated clarity that it was a very powerful lie that had been sown into my heart from all the betrayals in my Primary School days; but it had become my living truth.

I’d allowed the deception full authorisation to monitor and ‘protect’ me from further pain, contrary to the Holy Spirit's healing power.

God's Word says in Ephesians 4:31-32: Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Since I constructed my life on a foundation of these hurts mentioned in the first line, it’s no better than behaving as such.

I followed what the world instructs of us.

I took the pain and created a method by which the hurt could never reach me again. In fabricating this defence, I unwittingly shook hands with the enemy, and unknowingly blocked myself off from love, unable to receive it or give it.

My behaviour over two decades has exhibited the results of this ‘handshake’ with absolute clearness and yet, I have chosen to abide with the deception over that period, thinking it will keep me out of harm’s way.

I have erected all the necessary defence mechanisms to keep hurtful people out like the surveillance system at a covert military base. But alongside hurtful people, no one’s getting in!

  • I don’t phone close friends to see how they’re doing because I don’t really believe anyone cares for me
  • I don’t message people unless it’s with a specific purpose or task in mind
  • I don’t like hugging people very much – though I’ve become accostomed to it in the last few years
  • I constantly suspect and expect the worst of people so as not to be surprised
  • I don’t sign off any messages for family with kisses
  • I actually dislike the word ‘love.’ My mind has only ever known the opposite, provoking my resentment and jealousy of the word

Even though speaking truth and transparency comes easy to me—like telling individuals about my weaknesses, failings, flaws, and sins—the missing ingredient, is the ability to be vulnerable to people, and most importantly to God.

This absent component is fundamental to SURRENDER and HUMILITY...being vulnerable...a brutal challenge for a stone heart.

Like many people in this world, I have been broken for quite some time and now, more than ever, I’m ready for Jesus’ full healing ministry.

This week, it was both disheartening and uplifting to accept this revelation. It also appears completely impossible to change my mental state on this darkness, but the great faith we have recognises that the Lord does the impossible.

When I think of the ‘Rich Man’ and Jesus's words: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God," [Mark 10:25], I find my situation parallels the difficulty here.

I'm not a rich man, but I can identify with how impossible it appears for me to recieve God's full blessing.

However, I'm always hopeful when I read this verse.

Why?

Because Jesus also said: "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." [Matthew 19:26]

I'm also reminded of the famous verse that is used in abundance because spiritual warfare is in the mind: Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. [Romans 12:2]

And so somehow—I don’t know how—somehow, God will allow me to embrace my identity that's been hidden under a deceptive self-defence strategy.

I will finally know what friendship and love really are.

Do you struggle with ‘being vulnerable?’

COMMENTS BELOW PLEASE

See more from Feeding Faith HERE

My life was a performance

My life was a performance

By Stephen L France

It’s a jolt to the system to know that most of my life was an egotistical performance, founded on mental wounds of the past, and psychological defence mechanisms intended for self-protection (– I will present an example of this later).

It was harder still to recently read some journal notes of my time living abroad.

Here I rediscovered tangible evidence of my naivety, ignorance, and self-delusion; my ego resurrected through Word documents within my computer archives:

“If there is a major lesson I have had to swallow recently, it is one of humility. A simple truth that I personally have resisted since the dawn of my time in Tortola: Accepting that you need assistance to endure the mass turbulence on this Caribbean roller-coaster.”

This extract from an internet blog post was a lie.

I was desperately trying to convince myself that things would get better when it was blindingly obvious I was in an awful predicament. In essence, I was performing, deceived into thinking I knew humility and desiring the world to believe I was making progress contently.

I really wasn’t and looking at the time stamp of the journal entry, I KNOW this to be fact…

Perhaps it sounds like I’m being excessively self-critical, but it’s simply blunt honesty about my life before Jesus found me. I can fearlessly say He's transformed my mind; I am a different person.

All throughout Jesus’ ministry, The Gospel’s words talk about denying self [Luke 9:23], self-sacrifice, and dying to self.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. [Romans 12: 1 – 2].

These verses use simple words, but relate the great struggle within those of us who have chosen God’s way;

The battle of:

Pride – manufacturing my own personality/ performance

VS

Humility – allowing my natural identity to form through a life given to Jesus

On the surface, it appears very basic; I’m not to boast, be arrogant, or ostentatious [Ephesians 2:8 – 9], and I’m to allow a humble, meek character to develop through my relationship with the Holy Spirit. I’m not to ‘produce’ my own personality, but allow Jesus to fashion my identity [Psalm 40:4].

As I’ve meditated more on the Scripture’s teachings about pride, the Word has revealed that this is an area of intense deconstruction that never ends, especially when you’ve been in and of the world [John 17:15 – 17].

It starts with traumas in childhood; the best example I can provide of the pride VS humility battle’s depth, is through exploration of one of my own mental wounds.

When I was in an infant, I experienced an ample amount of bullying across primary school, play centres, and even Sunday School. The trauma of the antagonism instilled a motion in my heart to learn self-defence.

At around eleven years old, I remember walking out of the library with numerous books on Karate, Aikido, Taekwondo, Muay Thai, Judo, etc. The librarian said, “looking to become a vigilante?” or something of the like. At fourteen, I began building up my muscles and took up martial arts in multiple disciplines.

To a secular audience, this reaction may appear like a positive, healthy resolution; after all, I was aiming to protect myself from potential, future harm; however, it’s in this decision that I was ‘performing,’ which is why it was a deception; the root problem/ damage wasn’t tackled at all.

Proper healing of the wound was concealed by an action I adopted to control the outcome of future events in my life; the original wound was unattended and instead a ‘performance’ was created.

If tackled through God and His Word, a more comprehensive form of healing would’ve been founded, perhaps producing a question like: why was the bullying traumatic? This could subsequently have led to full healing of the wound as opposed to my ‘sloppy bandaging.’

The more I pray, reflect on the Bible, and live in this world, the more I realise that Jesus needs to be the foundation of every single aspect of life, because He offers complete truth [Matthew 6:33].

This means focusing everything I do toward God’s will.

Narrowing such a lifestyle to its core—and this is a simplification—is defined in living selflessly.

It means that any opportunity I receive to share God’s grace—which could be in the form of speaking truth, offering time, using my skills, and/or donating money, etc.—I give with sincerity and good cheer [2 Corinthians 9:6-7].

It means I don’t expect a reward for passing on my blessings as my duty is to serve the relationship I have with God – do His will; everything I possess, He has bestowed upon me freely and therefore, I should grant the same to everyone else freely [Matthew 10:8].

After all, His almighty will is for all of us to know salvation [2 Peter 3:9].

Nevertheless, pride will wrestle against us in a multitude of extremely creative ways, to the degree where even humility can be a prideful endeavour if it’s being performed.

Do you struggle against pride and how so? COMMENTS BELOW PLEASE

See more from Feeding Faith HERE

Is God Real?

By Stephen L France

Is God real?

It’s January 2, 2017 and for the last few days, this question has emerged as one of my first thoughts when I wake up.

It’s arisen as a reflection of 2016’s many unnatural deaths in the News, the extreme changes within our world, and the seemingly impossible trials of life.

When I say trials, there is vast diversity here.

We have the obvious challenges of financial troubles, maintenance of good health, and responsibility to uphold a stable life. But in moving toward a Christ-like life, other mental debates materialise, bringing a distinct clash between pride and humility.

One of my own personal situations over the Christmas period, was understanding ‘loving selflessly.’ It really tested my mind as I read and meditated on the attribute in 1 John 4 – especially when faced with a hateful individual, who I’m called to love because it’s God’s way.

In the two years I’ve known the Lord, I’ve observed a multitude of trials that have grown progressively challenging.

My selfish questions have been:

When will I get to relish His blessings?

When will the excitement I used to gain from secular lifestyle be replaced with the joy that He promises?

This funnels into my central mental discussion – is God real?

Sometimes I need to remind myself of the practical parts of faith in order to re-engage with God’s spiritual clarity.

Both reading the Bible as well as the transformation of my mindset, continue to show me that He is indeed real, and His Word is the Way, Truth, and the Life [John 14:6] – here’s why…

The Word of God

As a literature student and an avid reader of motivational books, the very Word of God has more wisdom than anything I’ve ever examined.

In a single verse, one can find all they require to live; I’m sure this is why Jesus called Himself ‘the bread of life’ [John 6:35]. For example: “See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.” [1 Thessalonians 5:15]

God addresses the natural urge inside us to balance the scales when we’re hurt, but commands us to take a different path, contrary to our pride. If this wisdom spread throughout the globe, it’s clear it would improve the world dramatically.

Behaving this way is a fierce challenge to pride and a part of life that I’ve been tested on quite thoroughly, but it’s these many controversial laws that have shown me that this particular Book is of the supernatural.

Transformation of Mind

Transformation spoken of in Ezekiel 36:26 and more commonly known in Romans 12:2 talks of changing our subconscious; a process that I always thought was impossible. However, in the last two years, I’ve noticed a comparable difference in my behaviour, that has not required any concentration or effort.

My question by the end of 2016 was:

How is it that a book translated into old, fragmented English, has had a powerful transformation on my mind

in comparison to

a multitude of modern, motivational books that had temporary effects?

A perfect example is that most comprehensive motivational books offer the advice, “live in the present,” or “be in today.”

A Bible verse for this particular life lesson is: ‘Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own.’ [Matthew 6:34]

Digesting this verse has subtracted a great deal of anxiety from my life and compelled me to sincerely appreciate every single day as it comes.

I often ask myself why I haven’t been able to live like this before – I’d read this type of lesson many times over in alternative philosophical books with much easier English to comprehend; yet, the Bible has somehow stapled it in my heart.

That said, Christmas and New Year was a period where things grew proverbially hot and I could almost feel the ‘dark forces’ smashing against an invisible barrier around me; hence the question – is God real? and the egocentric queries comprising it.

Nevertheless, with the Word of God coming to life through the transformation of my mind, I’m consistently shown that God is making His presence known and that my next step is very simple.

After having ample proof for our Lord’s existence (which would be an entire dissertation – a little too much for a blog post), I’m to now do what He says during the storm:

Be still and know that He is God [Psalm 46:10] – a solid and challenging principle to abide by as I journey into the new year.

See more from Feeding Faith HERE