2 Corinthians 2:14

14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.

The dishes were always the same, and you could smell them before opening the door; that’s what made the holidays special! We marveled at my grandmother’s cooking. Of course she was from a generation that knew how to cook without following a detailed recipe. Thank goodness this “gene” passed down to my mother who is also a phenomenal cook. Let’s just say I didn’t quite get that gene; I received a recessive trait where I love to cook and bake but recipes are required and I’m fine with that, ha!

The smells, however, transcended holidays at my grandmother’s house. As a child, it was commonplace to take a nap in the living room on a pallet while falling asleep to the Days of Our Lives theme song. Upon awakening, we would find a piece of spearmint gum under our pillow waiting for us; we loved grandmother’s gum! This is probably why I buy the same type of gum today. The smell takes me back to carefree summers, endless talks, and frozen times.

Decades later, I have intermittent experiences where I can still smell the (since removed) wood paneling and polyester jackets from my grandmother’s house as I walk through the door. How? I bought her house sixteen years ago, and God has a way of slowing us down through remembrance. Oh the aroma. It’s enough to stop me in my tracks before placing my car keys on the table or taking off my lab coat. I look around and simply…remember!

Hebrews 12:1 tells us, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…” This verse brings me to a time of remembrance of those who have gone before me, the great patriarchs of our faith: Abraham, Issac, Jacob. I also think of the warriors like Noah, Moses, David and of course the disciples. My mind then races to the strength of Deborah, Esther, Mary, and Rachel. But then my heart pounds when I think of the Author and Perfecter of our faith – JESUS!

As the aroma lingers in my mind, I can’t help but think of the strength of my grandmother as well. I come from a very strong line of both men and women in my family. I attribute my leadership skills to these familial lines. However, as much as I “hate” to admit it (with a smile) the women outnumber the men in our family; it’s a running joke during family gatherings. They are intelligent, bold, successful, strong, courageous, and independent. However, one thing my entire family has that supersedes all of these characteristics…they have Jesus!

I am blessed to come from a long line of strong believers. It’s one thing to say that my family is smart, beautiful, courageous, and independent, but those characteristics won’t get you into heaven. And let’s be frank…it’s MORE than just securing a “ticket” to get into heaven! Becoming a Christ-follower is experiencing life here on earth to the fullest while loving God and loving people! You can only accomplish your true purpose if you truly die to yourself. True peace comes by giving up your rights and serving others.

As I sit here, in my grandmother’s house, I can’t help but think that the aromas that I smell mean more than physiological consciousness to remembrance. No. The aroma I really smell is that of generations before me who sacrificed their lives to live as Christ followers spreading the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere as it says in our passage above [2 Corinthians 2:14].

Oh thank you Jesus that I come from a familial line who shares the faith with boldness and passion! This was not by accident. Wherever you find me, I pray that you will smell the aroma of Christ Jesus billowing from my presence and not of myself but of the Holy Spirit in me. May His aroma be pleasing and attractive to spread His knowledge everywhere I go.

Smells have a way of evoking the deepest of memories because they take a direct path to the limbic system unlike the other senses [YES I went scientific on you!]. THIS is why I find this passage so thought-provoking. GOD KNEW!

His aroma of TRUTH takes a DIRECT PATH to FREEDOM.

You only need to accept it.

Challenge: Be salt, light, and GOD’S AROMA this week as you encounter people everywhere!


Christian Armetta

Divine Appointment – This Easter

Mark 15:16-26

The Soldiers Mock Jesus

16 The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. 17 They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. 18 And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” 19 Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.

The Crucifixion of Jesus

21 A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. 22 They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 23 Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.

25 It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. 26 The written notice of the charge against him read: the king of the jews.


The trip started out like any other…me waiting until the last minute to pack! “Can anyone help me find my hat?…and where are my extra pair of pants?” are common questions uttered before it’s time for me to leave any trip! What’s shocking is that I am not a procrastinator. However, I do not like to pack.

Yet, this trip was different. I needed it! I’ve been working really hard lately, and I was looking forward to refilling my cup and seeing the sights back east.

No matter the delay, I always manage to find enough time to pack and make it out the door. [SIGH!] My heart longs for His creation to sing a new song into my soul while taking in new sights and sounds. I even enjoy feeling the grit beneath my toes as the texture of the sand changes from region to region.

With the coastal wind encouraging me, I made it out the door and onto the trail headed east. No matter where I travel, a sunrise is…breathtaking! It’s pause-worthy. Sure, I’m in a hurry, but the colors! Yahweh uses a paintbrush better than any artist our world has ever uttered from our lips. Along the way, I even stop to watch the ewe protect her lamb on the hillside. It reminds me of my youth: the guiding hand of a mother and the protective covering of a father. Time is definitely an enemy, but memories remain.

I’m getting closer to the city now, but I can smell tension in the air. I remember this city, and I’m looking forward to passing through on my journey but something is different. My ears are heightened to conflict well before my eyes can see: yelling, weeping, praying! I turn the corner and walk onto the main square where I see the mob.

All of my senses are attempting to process the rioting atmosphere. I push my way through the dichotomy of clinched fists and crying hearts. The sounds reverberating against the walls of this old city like fiery darts piercing souls.

I turn to ask the women on her knees next to me why the people were…[interrupted]. “YOU!”…the soldier grabs my arm and pulls me onto the street. As my feet catch up to my falling momentum, I come face-to-face with my answer – Jesus!

How could such a noisy place suddenly turn deafeningly silent? All I could see were His eyes. He was bloodied, bruised, and beaten beyond anything I could imagine. I faintly heard the command from the solider above while Jesus and I continued to stare at each other, “You carry His cross!”

I heard about His teachings and miracles. “How could this be happening?” I thought while the soldiers transferred the cross onto my shoulders. The heavy splintered wood struck my joints and muscles far beyond what I was expecting. His blood and sweat staining my shirt and dripping from my elbow. This was the man who brought Lazarus back to life, walked on water, healed the sick, and cast demons out of the afflicted. Why the cross? Why me now?

In this divine appointment, He answered me without saying a word. Though physically bruised and weakened, He spoke to my soul like a warrior: “I did not come into this world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Me.”

1 John 2:1-2 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

Feeling just the weight of the wood overwhelmed my muscles to extreme fatigue and exhaustion, but knowing He was about carry my sins and the sins of every human while hanging on that cross caused a level of pain far worse than physical punishment. As I handed the cross back to Jesus I whispered, “It should have been me!” He placed that heavy beam across His wounded back and said…”And this is what true love [agape] is… ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.'” [John 3:16]

Lesson: Simon of Cyrene had a divine appointment that day. We may not know much more about this man than the brief moment mentioned in Scripture, but what we do know is that he left his country, “passing by,” and came face-to-face with the Savior of the world. As believers, it is our responsibility to take Jesus, who lives inside of us, to others so they too can have an encounter. If you are reading this and do not know Jesus as your personal, Lord and Savior, please take the time and speak to Him today. He’s always calling and chasing after you.

Challenge: Let’s remember Luke 14:27 this Easter, “And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”

We praise the One who bore all of our sins! Jesus, the Messiah.


Christian Armetta


Habakkuk 3:17-18

17 Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.

[Reflective Journal]

It was beautiful. I looked at it every single day reflecting the sun’s rays at twilight as it sat in the center of my mantel. The depths of the colors progressed infinitely as the light penetrated each layer. It was as if heaven were etched in the glass. He [God] told me to take great care of it, and I did…so I thought!

I remember the day He gave it to me. His hands reaching into mine gifting me with a precious and invaluable present. “I don’t deserve such a gift!” I muttered. “How can I ever repay you?” I asked. With grace in His eyes, He said, “The price was already paid. Take care of what I’ve given you so you can then give it to others.”

Wait! “You mean this gift really isn’t mine if I have to give it away?” I asked as He was walking away. Before long, my soul began an all out assault on His word through pride, control, and rebellion. “Surely He didn’t mean to say give it away,” I thought to myself. “I’m sure He meant for me to own it and take care of it.”

Therefore, I cleaned it, polished it, and dusted it daily. I gazed upon this gift as my prized possession, and others even commented on its beauty. I continued this routine without fail but wondered when He would return to give me another gift. You see, the days were getting hard, and I longed for His return.

As things of this world were taken from me, I cried out in despair and even anger. “Where are you? Why did you abandon me?” I shouted from valley lows. My enemies appeared to grow in number with friendly smiles and dagger-grips. “How long must I cry for help, but you do not listen?” [Habakkuk 1:1] I asked Him in my puddle of grief.

Without adequate reply, I grabbed His gift and forcefully threw it on the floor…broken.

The sound of shattered glass appeared to echo endlessly while my gilt tried to catch up to the pace of my actions. “What have I done?” I cried. I slowly leaned down until my hands and knees reached the shattered glass. Tears pooled on the hardwood making the shards dance in pairs as they moved in rhythm across the floor.

With my last breath of hope, a hand presses into my shoulder as I remained helpless on the floor. “Who could it be?” I thought. My water-filled eyes adjust to the man in the room standing next to me. “You came back!” I said with both excitement and conviction.

“I’m sorry for breaking your gift. You told me to take care of it,” I repeated with anxious confirmation in my voice. He lifted me up and traded places with me. I begged Him to stop. I was planning on cleaning up my mess. “I can repay you the cost if you let me know how much I owe you,” I asked with sorrow. “I’ve already paid for it; you can never repay,” He whispered while moving pieces of glass around.

I watched intensely as He moved pieces with purpose. He sat me next to Him and then it became clear…

He said, “The gift was Me inside of you. It was never meant for you to keep but to give away to those around you. Pride of life makes us hold on to things that were designed to be given away. The enemy wants you to believe two things about Me: that I don’t love you and that you can work for what I’ve already paid for. The truth is…I never left you. I heard every word, cry, and prayer. I was the whisper in your ear, the light in your eye, and the nudge in your spirit. Now this broken glass reveals the REAL GIFT – THE CROSS. The real gift couldn’t be fully revealed until you came to the end of yourself and ready to fully trust me.”

What a beautiful yet costly gift. The cross cost Jesus His life. But that is not the end of the story. This Easter, we remember His life, death, and resurrection. He’s ALIVE. What a beautiful gift, one to be accepted by all. We can never repay Him. We simply repent and accept it by grace. Go, therefore, and share this precious gift to all the nations.

Lesson: God’s gift of salvation is THAT good. Receive it today by grace. God is always good; He cannot be any different. No matter your situation, hill or valley, rest on His promises. “I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”


Christian Armetta

Lifestyle Influencer

Isaiah 57:15

For thus says the high and lofty One, the One who dwells forever, whose name is holy:
“I dwell in a high and holy place, but also with the contrite and lowly of spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, to revive the heart of the crushed.”

[Personal Journal]

Confirmations come when you’re one in the Spirit. Yesterday, you, God, gave me a word: lifestyle. I never imagined that very word would be spoken from the pulpit today. You make me smile and laugh all at the same time. You, God, are the greatest lifestyle influencer.

My heart has been racing for weeks now. The global blanket of revival is here. I see you and champion your great name with every breath you’ve provided. You meet us when our humbled hearts speak your name and our repentant souls cry out to the living God. As my knees hit the ground, the atmosphere ruptures.

Today, I literally witnessed you ripping open the space between heaven and earth and filling the room with rivers of living water. The pillowy clouds could not contain your overflow. Unified hearts spoke without uttering a word: worship, love, unity, forgiveness, humility, and repentance.

Your name is indeed holy and you do dwell in a holy and high place. No one or thing can compare to you. Yet, your love is the bridge to those with contrite hearts. You have spoken Lord, and I hear you. I cry out with a humbled heart and fully seeking after God.

Continue to let revival fire fall.

We need a fresh wind.

Pour your Spirit out.

Wash us in rivers of living water.

Anoint our heads in your oils of forgiveness as we cry out with repentant hearts.

I want to be a lifestyle influencer just like you…an image-bearer. You have given me new meaning. The world is full of lifestyle influencers…false and demonic; those meant to turn us away from the One true God. I don’t want to be a worldly influencer; I want to influence the world through You.

~Humility is a lifestyle

~Repentance is a lifestyle

~Agape love is a lifestyle

~Forgiveness is a lifestyle

~Worship is a lifestyle

~Purity is a lifestyle

~Gentleness is a lifestyle

~Compassion is a lifestyle

~Freedom is a lifestyle

~Revival is a lifestyle

May you continue to blanket the earth with your revival fire and advance your kingdom. God, use each of us today and every day to be the hands and feet. Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”


Christian Armetta

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Identity Time Machine

1 Corinthians 6:17

But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.

That smile; it hides a lot actually. Those brown eyes hiding behind the wire-framed glasses know how to brighten when people enter a room even when I didn’t feel like it. I played the game well. That Italian nose…well…it was a statement all by itself. Yet, who could forget that Irish red hair? Yes…the thick red hair we all said I would never lose [so says the bald middle-aged man looking back at himself].

A few days ago, I received a text message from my son who is a sophomore in high school – the same school I attended a few decades ago. I opened the message and was surprised to see this picture. He asked, “Is this YOU?” I paused and silently laughed before replying, “Yes, son, and aren’t you happy that you look just like me?!” Of course we laughed over this picture any many others while several students were cleaning out old yearbooks.

Pictures have a way of evoking more than…memories. They touch places, stir up emotions, and revive words that haven’t been breached in years. I look back at this picture and want to do two things: (a) stoke the embers of leadership while stamping out the fear of rejection that guided my life for years and (b) hold him tightly assuring him that the future trials would be intense but he would come out more precious than gold.

If those bricks could talk, they would say they were supporting the backs of Christian teenagers who faced many of the same challenges that our kids face today. Sure, the battle has intensified over the years and the enemy is advancing, but the common denominator has NOT changed: Satan wants every human being to believe that they are alone, isolated, and rejected. Why do you think suicide rates are on the rise despite being “more connected” now than at any other time in history?

This is why I love what the Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:17, “But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.” Oh I wish I would have understood this more as a youth. The enemy has such a grip on our children (and adults for that matter) making them believe that they are alone. As a child of God, we are never alone! We have His Spirit, our Advocate! FACT.

Romans 8:26 says, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”

We come against negative words spoken over our youth and take back what is rightfully ours by the power and authority of Jesus Christ in us. We pray for our children, youth, teachers, and leaders. We invite Holy Spirit to overwhelm us with His presence as we throw off our sinful ways in our homes, schools, and jobs. We seek God’s forgiveness, salvation, and revival. We ask that God will sharpen our youth and that Holy Spirit will embolden them to walk upright in authority.

~I see you Ryan: charismatic in personality and faith; your appeal allows you to be a powerful witness to God’s greatness across all environments. One who reaches to the disadvantaged first with strength and empathy.

~I see you Makayla; bold in faith and healing words; you were set apart by the Lord of Heaven’s Armies when time began. Eyes are upon you as you lead with Christ-like boldness. The enemy trembles for you proclaim our mighty God who lives in you and you use the sword He gave you.

~I see you Drew; magnetic in Christ; you walk with purpose and integrity. The soul of one who is gentle yet courageous will bring others to Christ. The light in you will dispel any darkness around you.

~I see you Madelynn; greatest advocate for those in need; you carry the burdens of those around you like a veteran counselor. Despite the trials and stones, your God-given empathy and mercy allow you to walk through fiery darts without getting burned.

~I see you Cruz; captivating in Spirit; your Spirit radiates even in the brightest of rooms. People are drawn to the light and you carry Christ with purpose. Go, therefore, and make disciples for you walk with a missionary’s heart in dark hallways.

~I see you Ashlyn; evangelical in Spirit; your heart (mind, will, and emotions) are tuned to Holy Spirit and your feet simply walk where He tells you. Your mouth utters what the Spirit whispers and fear is not in your vocabulary. The Father smiles upon His child as you stand in boldness proclaiming to the masses.

You see, the world wants us to believe that there is no more hope. My hope is not in this world but in the Lord. Therefore, we have GREAT hope, and our youth are boldly proving His power, worth, and love. Above all…know that God loves you! You are not alone. That red-headed teenager in the picture above struggled with rejection and knew how to hide it. It’s time that we encircle our youth and disciple them, encourage them, and cheer them along in this dark world. Why? “The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.”

Lesson: If you struggle with rejection or loneliness, memorize this Bible passage and ask Holy Spirit to manifest this verse in you today and every day. You are NOT alone. Reach out to your pastor, counselor, small group, or lifegroup today.


Christian Armetta

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Drawing Out

Ephesians 2:10 

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

[Reflective Journal Entry]

Let’s start from the beginning. It all started after the rain, a downpour of sorts. It happened so quickly that I couldn’t assess my surroundings. Until…silence. Do I dare open my eyes after being tossed about?

As I attempted to open my eyes, I simply squinted for my eyes were still blinded by the lightening. Adjustment is never easy. “Why here?” “Where am I?” “Why did you place me here?” I screamed internally as My eyes began their full revelation of my new environment.

You call it serenity, sunlight bouncing off a lake. I call it a valley; perspectives are skewed when cloaked in darkness. Days came and went with little movement and boundaries all around; “Is there any way out?” I thought franticly.

Sure, people drifted by almost on a daily basis, gliding over me as if I didn’t even exist. But…it often felt like I kept them afloat. Even in the valley, I often heard, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10).

I continued to watch; some would say I’m a people-watcher. I saw you from afar attracting large crowds. I’ve seen that before, and “those” people have caused great pain in my life. Yet, you’re different.

You scooped me up out of the valley as you whispered, “You are created for good works, and I’ve been waiting for this moment.” I’m dripping from your hands, but you’re still able to hold all parts of me.

Wherever you went…I was quick to follow soaking up love, grace, and mercy. “Will you discard me like all the others?” I pondered as we traveled. You heard me! The eyes of the Lord are compassionate. “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

The churning inside was obvious like water sloshing inside a vase. “Where are we going now?” I boldly yet anxiously asked. “I’ve been here before!” I’m used up. Done. Finished. Ruined. You don’t need me anymore as I’m placed in the corner of a cold, dark room.

Tears flooded my vase to overflowing. I trusted you. Why did you walk away?! You said you wouldn’t leave. They all leave. I sank into my puddles of regret. Darkness began to slither in from worn-torn walls. Until…light obliterated the darkness!

I squinted just as I did before; you’re too bright. You reached down to gather me in your hands. Your smile spoke volumes. Your heart was written on your face. I knew something big was about to happen for you were boldly proclaiming, preaching, teaching, and praying while holding me! ME!

Not only did you pour into me, but you told me there would become a day that you would pour out of me. As I bowed in complete surrender, you poured out of me rivers of living water filling jars to the brim. Changes occur in your moment of surrender.

You leaned in and said, “For such a time as this; draw out.” I leapt from my jar; I became a new creation. I was truly transformed from the inside out! Nothing even looks the same for God saved the best for now! (John 2:10). When people taste of me, it is no longer bitter for they are truly tasting you.


Dear friends: Please read the miracle of Jesus changing water into wine (John 2:1-11)

Oh the stories of our Lord! They are transformative my friends. We can even see ourselves in the WATER!

Dig: Where do you see yourself in this miracle story? Are you the water, vase, disciples, party guests? Where are you on your journey?

Lesson: Allow the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ, to draw out of you.


Christian Armetta

Bible Bible Study Celebration Christianity Church Community Courage Daily Devotion Devotion Faith Focus Friends Friendship Glory God Gossip Grace Heart Holy Spirit Hurt Jesus Joy Lies LIfe light Love Mercy Miracle Path Peace Prayer Promises Protection Provider Reflection Religion Shelter Spirit Spiritual Warfare Storms thoughts Truth Victory Words worry

After the Harvest

Galatians 2:20

20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

[Reflective Journal Entry]

The warmth of your rays reached in dark places. Your light cannot be stopped or dispelled.

From the very beginning, I felt your warm embrace despite darkness pressing all around. Your endless chase energized my soul.

You spoke truth, hope, and love in valleys low giving food for my soul. Your wings covered me as my soul sprouted although blinded and afraid.

Accepting your truth and grace gave me true life and purpose. Bursting forth, my arms reached for the heavens as I climbed out of the pit of darkness.

You provided nutrients through your Word as “it takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth.” (Matthew 4:4)

Sharing the fruits of the Spirit reinforced your calling. You overly and abundantly produced encouragement, discernment, wisdom, truth, vision, and prophecy as long as my roots remained in You.

Each morning you whispered through the morning dew: “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” (Luke 10:2)

Ministries grew all around as “those planted in good soil reaped a harvest 30, 60, and 100 times what was sown.” (Mark 4:20) Bountiful and lush, we swayed in one accord giving praise to you like wheat swaying in the wind.

Visions collided and communities united. The Holy Spirit poured out His richness over the fields from a heart of obedience and reverent fear. Pour your Spirit out! (Isaiah 44:3).

Yet, in the distance I hear a rumble like an endless herd trampling underfoot. The sound magnified as it approached exponentially- cutting, trimming, pruning.

“Save me from the pain!” I cried. However, You held me tighter in preparation for the harvest. I closed my eyes and melted in Your embrace; You cradled me like a child while I sang through my Spirit as the blades approached: “Yet not I but through Christ in me.” (Galatians 2:20).

As the morning sun sheepishly peeked over the horizon, my eyes were filled with tears. Lush vegetation and bountiful fruit have been replaced with lifeless stalks as far as the eye can see.

“Oh, God! Why did you destroy me?” I cried with my last breath. He reached down from heaven’s throne (Psalm 18:16-28) and lifted me up for a spiritual view.

The Holy Spirit said, “to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21). He continued to whisper, “God did not destroy you! He left the most important part of you; just look.”

As I gazed across the field below, my eyes were unveiled. I could easily see that God left the very parts of me necessary to replenish the soil for future growth! What I saw as a useless stalk was intended for a future, different harvest.

The Holy Spirit revealed that my leftovers “after the harvest” were intended for future growth not destruction!

He smiled through His Words and said gently…”Just as Jesus died and left the very important parts of Himself through the Spirit in each believer to ‘go forth and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” (Matthew 28:18-20).

My lesson: God prunes, takes, and shapes what He requires for His Kingdom.

The “stalks” left behind were intended to replenish the soil with much needed nutrients and even protecting the soil during the harsh winter months.

God was actually protecting me!

As God placed me back into the ground, I looked up and smiled through my stubby stalk and said, “Not I but through Christ in Me.”

Until the next harvest, I will worship, praise, pray, and be still and know that He is God.

Question: Are you in an “After the Harvest” spiritual season?

Prayer: Thank you God for your provisions, protection, mercy and love! Today and forevermore we worship you. Forgive us for our selfishness and pride. Rid us of ourselves and fill us with Your Holy Spirit. Use each of us to fulfill your Kingdom purpose all over the lands. Thank you for your Son, Jesus and keep us in your vine as we grow, produce, and remain in You all the days of our lives.

Special thank you: Sarah Fortenberry

Music: Yet Not I But Through Christ In Me (Live) – Selah [YouTube]


Christian Armetta

The Living Christmas Tree

Romans 12:1

A Living Sacrifice

12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

[Reflective Journal]

“Do we have to listen to that song again, mom?” asked the little red-headed boy in the backseat of the family station wagon. Without hesitation, mom always replied, “I have to memorize my music. It’s Living Christmas Tree time.”

For me, the Christmas season was more than getting out of school, anticipating gifts from Santa, and listening to my dad read the Christmas story from the Bible before opening gifts each year. Christmas was about listening to an array of Christmas songs on a cassette tape, over and over again, for many months as mom prepared to sing in our church’s Living Christmas Tree program annually. In fact, the picture above was taken from one of those programs at our church decades ago, and mom can be found on the lower rows; she never liked heights!

Even as a child, I jokingly felt like I should have been on that tree for all the hours spent listening to the music in the car with my mom and unintentionally memorizing every note and word! During the live performances, I could be found sitting in the middle of the church on a wooden pew singing every song and reciting every spoken word.

I have many fond memories of this annual program, but one particular piece within the performance continues to resonant with me to this very day. During the middle of the performance, various choir members would shout out comparisons between “this tree and that tree” referencing the Living Christmas Tree and “that tree” (i.e., cross) highlighted on the church wall.

This tree…that tree. Of all the songs, lyrics, words, instruments, lights, and sounds, I’ve never forgotten the comparison. Jesus was born to die on a barren, brown tree. When I mediate on the symbolism of the Living Christmas Tree and the cross, I cannot help but think of being a living sacrifice. Romans 12:1 speaks of this beautifully as the apostle Paul urges us to present ourselves as a living sacrifice to a God who is merciful!

My prayer for us this Christmas is very simple…may “that tree,” the cross become our daily focus not just on Christmas morning but every day of the year. We become a Living Christmas Tree when we accept the merciful and gracious gift of Christ. Being a living sacrifice has everything to do with offering ourselves completely to the Lord who gave His lifeblood on “that tree.”

God does not delight in burnt offerings but in obedience [1 Samuel 15:22]. This type of obedience is self-sacrifice. Denying the flesh and offering ourselves as a living sacrifice daily is our true and proper worship. This Christmas, may we worship the Lord through obedient sacrifice. It is only through the death of our sinful man that we truly live. This can only be accomplished through the acceptance of Jesus Christ, the One who poured out His lifeblood to atone our sins on “that tree.”

Yes, that baby in the manger was given for all of humanity! Praise God. Offering our bodies as a living sacrifice to the One who gave it all is the only way to be transformed as “Living Christmas Trees” this season and every day.

Romans 6:1-11 Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with,[a] that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

May you be a true “Living Christmas Tree” representing Christ this season and every day through your sacrifice.

“Do we have to listen to that song again, dad?” asked my brown-headed son sitting in the back of our family SUV. I looked in the rearview mirror…smiled and laughed inside my soul as memories flooded my mind, “Yes, son. It’s Living Christmas Tree time. Dad has to memorize his music.” Life has a way of bringing us back to where we started yet older and hopefully wiser. I gripped the steering wheel, turned up the music, and asked him to sing along. On the day of our live performance, what did I see? My son singing every song and reciting every word as I stood in that tree a few years ago.

Some traditions are actually ripples; they gently flow from one generation to the next. May this be the season for sacrificial traditions that impact generations to come. Dear believer, offer yourself as a living sacrifice to the One who sacrificed it all giving us a hope and life everlasting – true and enteral life. May this be the season you accept the One who gave it all on “that tree” allowing us to become “The Living Christmas Tree.”


Christian Armetta

[Special thank you: Joe Joslin, Jeremy Fortenberry]

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Christmas Offering

Matthew 2:11

Entering the house, they saw the child with Mary His mother, and falling to their knees, they worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

[Reflective Journal]

What can these dirty hands offer a king? Those in royal positions wouldn’t dare accept anything from me. What do I bring?…My life began in absent existence floating from one experience to the next. Life consisted of episodic collisions leaving deep scars hardening my shell through years of pressure, pain, and trial.

Memories are marred by abuse and pain as sharp as stab wounds from a surgical knife ripping through my very core. I bled, but those around me only wanted more. Why do those around me cheer when they see tears like resin running down? It hurts.

Through the spirals of life, my core appeared to explode leaving fragments of myself falling miles from where I started. How could I ever pick up the pieces? I can’t ever go back. Who would ever desire me?

Left alone and in silence, I grew tired searching for my fragmented pieces which caused me to build layer upon layer of protective covering. I’m useless and of no value. I’ll be safe under this shell. No one is searching for me, and these trials of life shake my very existence.

I feel as though I’m being moved from one episode to the next in the volcanic current of life. Pushing against the current feels like a piece of sand attempting to wage war against a tidal wave-futile. Existence without purpose is a fitting description while I wait.

I feel the chiseling all around, but who is searching for me? I’m picked up, dusted off, and refined. Life’s impurities appear to fall off of me; the cleansing hurts but the reflection is pure. Where are you taking me? I have nothing to offer! Do you know where I came from?!

Suddenly, my chamber of darkness is opened where I see a sliver of hope. As my eyes adjust to the light, I’m speechless. Before me…THE KING!



Dear believer,

This Christmas…we must presents ourselves as living sacrifices to the KING! Jesus knew He was entering this world to pay the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. You’re never alone as He chases the one and no level of darkness can hide His light. In return, we should present ourselves to the King as an offering this Christmas.

You may find yourself this season battling depression, doubt, fear, loneliness, shame, and guilt. You may even find similarities in your own life with this parallel storyline above. The precious gifts offered to our King ALL went through a refining process. Gold originated through a series of interstellar collisions, explosions, and extreme refinement. Frankincense and myrrh originated through the cutting of tree bark which caused the tree to “bleed.”

All of these treasures started from (a) hard beginnings, (b) traveled through a refinement process, and (c) ended up at the feet of the King as a precious gift/offering. This is YOU! We worship the ONE who laid down His life for all of humanity.

This is the kind of treasure and offering Jesus desires. He wants the tough story! He came to set the captives free; to seek and save the LOST! He simply wants YOU the way you are this Christmas. He doesn’t want the “fixed-up” you. He wants the messed up, knotted up (i.e., frankincense knotted tree branches), rocky-souled (i.e., gold), and gnarled-past (i.e., myrrh gnarled tree branches) you!

The days are drawing near. If you are not a believer, please let this Christmas season be the time to offer your life to the King who gave His own to save us. If you are a believer and feeling oppressed, let our Savior wash over your darkness through His blood, and walk in His light.

Merry Christmas!



Christian Armetta

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That’s Not My Name

Proverbs 22:1 ESV

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.

Ecclesiastes 7:1 ESV

A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of birth.

Isaiah 62:2 ESV

The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory, and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give.

Proverbs 18:10 ESV

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.

What’s in a name? EVERYTHING! If we were to ask Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, they would tell you the same…that’s not my name! [wait…what?!] But we sang the songs as kids in children’s church. We read the stories in vacation bible school. What do you mean that’s not their names?

The book of Daniel tells us about three Hebrew men: Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. These three brave Hebrews take a stand against the king of Babylon, refuse to bow to an idol, and are thrown into a burning fiery furnace. For me, the interesting part of the story is not the miracle because we SHOULD have that kind of faith. The interesting part of the story is failing to recognize their God-given names and referencing their pagan names.

Shadrach means “command of the moon god.” [PAGAN]

Meshach means “who is Aku.” [PAGAN]

Abednego means “slave of the god Nebo.” [PAGAN]

These names were given to the men when they were besieged by the Babylonian king. These pagan names were meant to erase their faith and identity in Israel’s (AND OUR) god, YWHW.

We must never forget that in the original Hebrew, Shadrach was named Hananiah, which means “God is gracious.

Meshach was Mishael, which means “who is God?”

Abednego was Azariah, means “God has helped.

I do NOT find it ironic that these names bring the focus back to the One true God!

Dear believer, the enemy wants nothing more than to change your identity in Christ, which means to take your focus off of the CREATOR and onto yourself, the world, or others, which means idols! [pause! breathe!]

~Hello my name is NOT unwanted, I am bought with a price [1 Corinthians 6:20]

~Hello my name is NOT sick, I am healed by His stripes [Isaiah 53:5]

~Hello my name is NOT lowly, I am blessed and highly favored [Luke 1:28]

~Hello my name is NOT foreigner, WE are ONE in Christ Jesus [Galatians 3:28]

~Hello my name is NOT weak, I am strong in Christ [Philippians 4:13]

~Hello my name is NOT depression, I am upheld by God’s right hand [Isaiah 41:10]

~Hello my name is NOT unforgiven, I am cleansed from all unrighteousness [1 John 1:9]

~Hello my name is NOT condemnation, I am approved in Christ [Romans 8:1]

~Hello my name is NOT hopeless, I am life in Christ [John 10:10]

~Hello my name is NOT lost, I am the one He left the ninety-nine for! [Luke 15:4]

Yes, I would say there’s POWER in names!

What are you calling yourself? Has the devil renamed you like the men in the book of Daniel? Are you accepting an identity other than what God has named you?

Today, I say ENOUGH! We must remind the enemy on a daily basis who our daddy is and who He says we are: “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Romans 8:17


Christian Armetta

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