Stand Still

Exodus 14:14

14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.

praying by the lake

[Narrative]

The finish line draws near; however, peace is not my prize. As I pick up speed, I notice the ribbon sagging from the weight of this world. It drips with sorrow, lies, hypocrisy, disunity, and pride. The ribbon holders laugh at my stride and posture which once represented faith, hope, and love. A quick look over my shoulder reinforces my deepest fears…I’m on the wrong road.

My foot strikes the ground with discernible force through the activation of every fiber in my body causing me to abruptly stop. Both force and motion propel me to the ground; yet, I refuse to brace the fall. Through slow-motion action, my past replays through my mind just before slamming face-first into the ground…stillness.

Multiple wounds appear but the origin is suspicious. After careful inspection, my flesh is unharmed but my soul is damaged. Each movement in an attempt to get back on my feet deepens the fragile soul. A prayer is heard and a still small voice whispers from above.

Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

I am lifted into the Father’s arms where the shadow of the Almighty soothes my soul. I am taken to a mighty oak tree. The Holy Spirit imparts wisdom and truth while resting under the branches. The shifting shadows and flickering lights force a weary mind to be still and know that He is God for only God could make light dance through the trees. I am whisked away high upon a mountaintop where the snow sings a gospel chorus. I see the Father’s hand effortlessly conducting this melodious symphony bringing praise back into His arms. I am then carried to the seashore where the sand welcomes the tide as if begging to be refreshed. My eyes are unveiled as I observe the Father placing the waves exactly where He pleases. The boulders accept His announcement by clapping the waters together resulting in an eruption of praise.

A gentle stare is interrupted with the warmest of touches. The Father’s hands rest on my shoulders causing me to fall backwards. This fall was most certainly different than the one before. I expected an embrace this time! My soul fell upon His gentle embrace and my faith was restored. As I attempted to look into His face, the blinding light shouts a promise, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

I then awaken on my new road…one with purpose and paved with His will. My eyes remain on the cross as a great cloud of witnesses cheer me on. The fiery darts do not stop; however, they are extinguished by the blood covering of the spotless Lamb. Each step brings new meaning and strengthens my desire to do more for the Kingdom, and praises abound from a heart overjoyed with knowing that I am truly free!

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Looking Back

Isaiah 43:18-19

18 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

Plano

~Narrative~

An infant’s cry fills the foyer of an expectant home. New life awaits the season of unknowns. Bustling autos create ambient noise in the neighborhood of possibilities. One’s future is bursting with fill-in-the-blank opportunities. Evening walks through a sun-kissed sky promotes jubilee barks from the family pet. Laughter fills the cup of youth. Fountains erupt from familial exchange…but…change!

Seasons no longer represent the divisions of the year but stages in life. The skyline fades as the years pass. The majestic skyscrapers now become photographs for visitors.  Situational dialect across state lines is no longer relevant but a distant memory. The heartbeat of relativism stretches her arm and grabs my shoulder…I stop…and look back!

The still frame creates a guttural response that cannot be denied. What do I see?…the evil one proclaiming his false kingdom. Matthew 4:8-10 says, “Again, the devil took him [Jesus] to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”

The rural road now becomes the blessing. Children laugh and play in the collective land of the protected. The familial song now replaces the fireflies in the field of glory. Glorious solitude paves the road where the sun whispers his secrets to the cornfields. One cannot compare seasons ordained by the Creator Himself. Instead, memories create the foundation for the future.

The passage above teaches us to not dwell on the past. I want to bask in God’s “new thing!” as described in this passage. The challenge is to see what God is up to in your present, which will change your future. No matter where you are (city or town), what is God up to in your life?

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Shelter

Psalm 121

I look up to the mountains—
    does my help come from there?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth!

He will not let you stumble;
    the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
    never slumbers or sleeps.

The Lord himself watches over you!
    The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon at night.

The Lord keeps you from all harm
    and watches over your life.
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
    both now and forever.

FullSizeRender

[Narrative]

Lungs ache for the pure breath of serenity. The unpredictable road is littered with distractions, failures, disappointments, and traps. The evil one unleashes his army along the path to draw you into the wilderness.

Through the parade of evil intentions, you look up to the mountains and cry out, “Does my help come from there?” A still small voice breaks through the atmosphere of despair and proclaims, “Your help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!”

The announcement alone shakes the foundation of the earth. Rocks cry out, “You are worthy!” The quake removes scales from your eyes. What you once viewed as beautiful, enticing, and acceptable now stand before you in the form of serpents and dragons. These monstrous beings have been identified and can no longer stand under the weight of God’s proclamation. Although rebellious, they fall to their knees and bow their heads!

Through complete permeability, these evil beings release unrelenting fear into your mind. However, your spirit proclaims 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

The rolling thunder and darkened clouds announce the second wave of attacks. The evil one gathered his very best to steal, kill, and destroy. Anxiety-ridden, your spiritual ears begin to hear the drums of warfare instead of angelic psalm. Your eyes begin to see elements of destruction instead of Jehovah Shalom.

In humble submission, you lay prostrate before the Lord. Immediately, silence falls upon the earth. Without peering up, your spiritual eyes are overwhelmed with wide-angle vision. The One who promises to watch over you like a shade has halted an entire force with His outstretched arms. He has silenced the noise. He has obliterated the prince of confusion with just His presence. With unimaginable authority He speaks…”I, the Lord of heaven and earth, keep my flock from harm. I, the Lord of heaven’s armies, watch over them wherever they go now and forever.”

Dear believer, live in peace today – everyday! In this life, we most certainly will experience pain, suffering, and consequences of disobedience. However, God’s promises never change. He will never leave you nor forsake you. Humble yourself this moment and pray that God overwhelms you with His perfect characteristics each and every day as you walk your life’s road.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Wholehearted

1 Samuel 12:24

24 But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.

wholehearted

 

[Narrative]  You attempt to enter the Holy of Holies with tainted heart. The free gift of grace has tarnished your conviction. The temple veil, massive in symbolic separation, now covers your eyes as you walk freely into the inner sanctuary — you are spiritually blind yet see through evil intentions. You bring pride, bitterness, guilt, idolatry, lust, hatred, and fragments from the world with you. At a time where the high priest would have perished immediately, you continue your gait with worldly confidence. You stumble over the Ark of the Covenant; however, you are too distracted by the enemy to notice. When all hope seems lost, you take your last step and reach the mercy seat! There He is – the One who was drawing you in the whole time – God Almighty. Your tongue forms language that fills the sanctuary with praise yet you thought you were asking questions. Angels assist you to your feet from your prostrate position yet you thought you were walking on air. The Father says open your eyes my child yet you just knew you were already seeing new colors. Then…the Son appears. Jesus says, In order to be a child of mine, you must deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me – wholeheartedly – now wake up!

This narrative describes many believers today. We walk into our churches, work settings, and homes with worldly fragments impairing our relationships. More importantly, these fragments are preventing us from being powerful witnesses to the greatness of Jesus Christ. I am calling Satan’s ploy out in plain sight – division! You are on notice evil one. The body of Christ has identified your scheme and we say NO in Jesus name! We will promote unity, love, service, selflessness, humility, self-control, and patience. We will not stand and watch you destroy our churches, families, friends, and communities. Greater is the One who is living inside of me than he who is in the world. AMEN!

Challenge: We must join together in prayer so that the body of Christ may fully unleash God’s power.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

True Love

John 3:16

For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

cross

During the Valentine season, we are bombarded by the world’s view of love: red and pink hearts, Cupid, bows and arrows, roses, balloons, and chocolate. Yet, I was reminded of God’s view of true love while pulling up today’s Bible verse. I am afraid that believers are becoming desensitized to this most powerful verse. I’m also afraid that we fail to meditate on this verse when it comes to mind because we think we truly understand it. I’m here to say that this verse never gets old. In fact, nothing in the Bible is capable of “getting old.” Jesus, the physical manifestation of the Word, is the same yesterday, today, and forever! Therefore, it’s breathes forever and never will die.

This passage above is beyond timely. I encourage you to focus on God’s truth this Valentine’s day. The truth is God loved the world so much that He sent His One and Only Son to take away our sins in order to restore a broken relationship with our Creator. This my friends is true love because He did this while we were still sinners!

~Roses will die yet my God’s true gift of love lives forever.

~Valentine’s day cards will be thrown away yet my God’s true gift of love lives forever.

~Balloons will deflate and fall to the ground yet my God’s true gift of love lives forever.

~Chocolates will spoil and be thrown out yet my God’s true gift of love lives forever.

I am thankful for God’s true love. If you desire such an unfailing love, draw near to Him and He will draw near to you!

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Empathy

Psalm 56:8

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”

Empathy

PRIDE manifests in many different ways. I recently had an experience with pride that was rooted in fear. You see, the evil one knows our weaknesses, and he also knows how to capitalize on our faults. As I walked into an unfamiliar life situation last week, fear appeared to accompany me. In a moment of weakness, pride sprung forth and stole a kingdom opportunity to “live like Jesus.” The blessing is in the conviction. I am thankful when the Holy Spirit immediately convicts us of our sins. We are then able to humble ourselves before the Lord and seek the Father’s forgiveness. 

~What does pride look like in your life?  

P – Pious 

R – Rebellious

I – Impolite

D – Domineering

E – Egocentric

Pride steals our ability to see others through the eyes of Jesus! Empathy is not just a “psychological” term if you will.  It embodies the life of Jesus as well. Luke 10:27 says, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind. And, Love your neighbor as yourself.” Frankly dear friends, you cannot fully love the Lord and love your neighbor when you are too in love with yourself.

Jesus provides us a beautiful example of empathy and truly “living like Jesus” through the parable of the Good Samaritan. Luke 10:33-35 says, “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. 34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.'”

The Samaritan man exemplified the true heart of Jesus – empathy out of love. Empathy has nothing to do with feeling sorry for someone. Empathy, to me, is more of an action emotion. The good Samaritan not only felt compassion (i.e., empathy), he acted! How do you respond when you see your neighbor, friend, stranger, church member, etc. hurting? Do you judge them based on your own values and personal characteristics or do you act out of love?

Over the past several weeks, I have held in tears of the unknown. Yet, the Holy Spirit pierced my heart not long thereafter when He said to me, “I collect your tears!” Please don’t get me wrong…I was not shedding tears out of anxiety or fear for I truly believed God would carry me through my valley. Yet, God quickly reminded me that it is okay to be human!

How did Jesus respond when his dear friend Lazarus died, “Jesus wept.” [John 11:35] It is stated in this passage that those standing around Jesus saw how much he loved his dear friend. Was Jesus crying out of fear, worry, unrighteous anger? Emphatic NO!

I strongly encourage you to allow the Holy Spirit full access to your heart. Demonstrating true empathy when others are hurting can only grow out of humility. Please never forget that pride typically doesn’t stand alone. It loves misery and brings friends along. Therefore, pride sits at the head of the table with jealousy, judgment, anger, and fear.

Question: How do you respond to those around you? [Empathy vs Pride]

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Mirror

James 1:22-25

22-24 Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like. 25 But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.

looking into mirror

[Narrative]

“Of course that’s me!” the distracted soul exclaims as he stares intently at his reflection. “Why am I so confused?” he ponders. “I was just here moments ago and somehow forgot my own reflection!” He feels such conviction as the Holy Spirit speaks, “Do not be deceived my dear child. You must be a doer of the Word and not just a listener.”

The tortured soul refutes such conviction as he listens to the deceptive whispers of the evil one, “I go to church regularly, and I even bow my head reverently during prayers so I know I’m a good person.” The battle ensues over the wanderer’s confusion. His focused attention is suddenly interrupted by a knock at the door. An alluring voice can be heard from the other side, “Are you coming? We are waiting on you!” The distracted one turns from studying his reflection and exclaims, “Yeah, give me a minute to grab my stuff, and I’ll be there shortly.” Carousing speech can be heard on the other side of the door as they await his arrival.

As the conflicted one turns from his own reflection, a bright light catches the corner of his eye. The spiritual battle intensifies as he struggles between following his fleshly desires versus listening to the counsel of God. With only a glimpse, he sees a holy messenger standing where his reflection was once projected. The cautious one immediately recalls Galatians 5:17, “The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.”

Instead of grabbing his keys, he opens the nightstand and pulls out God’s holy word. He opens directly to Psalm 19:14 as he repeats, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” Instead of walking to the door to leave, he carefully walks back to the mirror. This time, his reflection is replaced by the Son of God. The fiery darts appear to come from all directions; however, they are not penetrating his focus. With purposeful intent, the seeker reaches for the Savior’s hand and takes his first step of obedience. 

Jesus hand.jpg

Dear friends, you cannot live a double life. Proverbs 27:19 says, “As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the real person.” Do not be deceived. Seek holiness as you bear the name of Christ for your witness is greater than you think. 

Thankful,

Christian Armetta 

What Are We Doing?

Psalm 101

I will sing of your love and justice, Lord
    I will praise you with songs.
I will be careful to live a blameless life—
    when will you come to help me?
I will lead a life of integrity
    in my own home.
I will refuse to look at
    anything vile and vulgar.
I hate all who deal crookedly;
    I will have nothing to do with them.
I will reject perverse ideas
    and stay away from every evil.
I will not tolerate people who slander their neighbors.
    I will not endure conceit and pride.

I will search for faithful people
    to be my companions.
Only those who are above reproach
    will be allowed to serve me.
I will not allow deceivers to serve in my house,
    and liars will not stay in my presence.
My daily task will be to ferret out the wicked
    and free the city of the Lord from their grip.

Stressed Young Woman

I received some devastating news a few days ago. My childhood best friend’s mother passed away unexpectedly. When I saw my friend’s name scroll across the caller I.D., I was initially thrilled. We haven’t spoken in so long now that we live in separate states. I was most certainly not expecting to hear the words, “She’s gone.” I sank. I spent my entire childhood in her home. We lived in the same neighborhood, and both of our families shared life together. She was such a kind woman. During summer breaks, I am certain I became one of her own kids as I spent as much time as I could there. Those memories are priceless!

I was convicted thereafter. I couldn’t help but think, “What are we really doing as Christ-followers here on earth?” I must share the thoughts of my friend as it speaks volumes:

“Do not take a single day for granted. We aren’t promised any time at all here on earth. Make sure people know how you feel about them. Get right with God, and get right with others, or you may lose the opportunity. You may be the only bight spot in someone else’s day, make the most of it!”

This my friends is the answer! We are called to grow closer to God through an intimate relationship with His Son Jesus Christ. We are charged to share this relationship through His gospel with those around us. We most certainly are instructed to quickly forgive in order to prevent Satan from gaining a foothold, and we are always advised to be the salt and light of the world.

I also providentially came across this passage in Psalm today. I encourage you to read it carefully, and meditate on it wholeheartedly. Psalm 101:2 says, “I will be careful to live a blameless life.” How many of us can actually say we strive to live a blameless life? What about living with integrity? Do you protect your eyes from all things vile and vulgar? Are we convicted yet? [YES]

We will miss our dear family friend. Yet, in true encouraging fashion, we are still being reminded to live like Christ through the reflection of her life and to that we say, “Praise God!” I echo my friend’s words. Strive to live a blameless life dear friends. Be the salt and light in a tasteless world.

What impact are you leaving? Better yet…what impact are you LIVING?

In loving memory of Ms. Rita Mann.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Burdened 

John 14:1-4

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”


We cannot avoid it. We live in a sinful world. The flesh battles against the Spirit daily. There remains an internal struggle in the hearts of every human. Things happen that cause our hearts to be troubled. What does Jesus say about burdens and troubles? 

How can we measure the level and impact of our troubles? The answer lies within your emotional reactions. Jesus clearly states that we should not let our hearts be troubled. Why? He knows HOPE! In fact, Hope = God. Jesus was verbally declaring the promises of the Father! In that, we should be filled to the brim with excitement. You see, our Hope isn’t in this world, people, or things. Our hope is in the Lord. 

When troubles stir, people disappoint, stress abounds, bodies ache, and the mind controls, we should look to the Hope in our Savior. We focus on Him alone for He has gone to prepare a place for us! Do you truly believe? He not only is sitting at the right hand of the Father, but Jesus has gone to prepare our eternal home. He promises, therefore, to return for His children! To that I say – BE GONE burdens! 

Challenge: Dear friends, it’s time to self-evaluate. If you are only on a spiritual high when things are going your way then you need to assess your level of true dependence upon the Lord. Allow the Potter full access. How are you responding to the trials in your life? Are you weary? Are you burdened? Are you depressed? Or… Are you hopeful for the promises to come?

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Are You Coming?

Psalm 100:4

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.

Are You going

I work with some of the most amazing people in the world. God has blessed me with a team that exhibits a vast array of personalities and spiritual gifts. We are beyond blessed to be in a “helping” profession. We get to see God’s work first hand even in physical healing. It never gets old, and I’m always looking for the Spirit. In fact, I listen intently when my team speaks because I want to hear more than the literal terms; I want to listen for God’s message through their conversations no matter how unrelated.

Just this morning, I was blessed to have a spiritual conversation with a new team member. She brings such light, spiritual awareness, and truth. She is gifted and people cannot help but listen when she speaks. Her genuine heart is tangible and visible. She is more than an answer to prayer; she is a gift. This spirit-filled lady made a profound statement today that I couldn’t get out of my head all day. We were discussing the importance and power in worship. We both expressed disappointment when those around us simply appear unmoved and unaffected by His presence. She then stated, “I’m going to the throne room no matter what so are you going with me?”

YES – she gets it! Not only does she “get it” but she helped me understand it too! You see there is power in worship.

Exodus 23:25 – Worship the Lord your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you.

Psalm 150:6 – Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.

Acts 16:25 – About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.

John 4:24 – God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.

Joshua 6:2-5 – But the Lord said to Joshua, “I have given you Jericho, its king, and all its strong warriors. You and your fighting men should march around the town once a day for six days. Seven priests will walk ahead of the Ark, each carrying a ram’s horn. On the seventh day you are to march around the town seven times, with the priests blowing the horns. When you hear the priests give one long blast on the rams’ horns, have all the people shout as loud as they can. Then the walls of the town will collapse, and the people can charge straight into the town.”

I must admit, my friend is right! She’s going to the throne room to worship, and I want to go too! She doesn’t become frustrated when those around her fail to be moved. In fact, this drives her to worship more for she knows the Father is WORTH IT! The Father’s room is deep and wide. His grace and mercy bind us together in one body. The Father yearns for all His children to – come! Don’t delay dear friends. Meditate on the Word; pray without ceasing; and worship like He deserves!

Friends, I’m going to the throne room to worship…are you coming?

Thankful,

Christian Armetta