Interpersonal Engagement

Job 2:11-13

11 When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. 12 When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. 13 Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.

Engagement

During a recent quiet time, this passage popped up and it truly made me stop and think. Most of us know the story of Job, but we honestly fail to give more than five seconds of credit to his friends for their initial reaction to Job’s suffering. Let’s all understand that when these three friends heard about Job’s suffering, they set out from their homes and went to be with Job to offer sympathy and comfort.

What I love about the emotional engagement flow picture is that when Job’s friends saw him from a distance, they transitioned from sympathy to empathy. These friends could barely recognize their dear friend; they began to weep aloud and even tore their robes in complete mourning.

Let’s make a very clear statement: The only way you can move from sympathy to empathy is if you make an intentional step to see someone’s pain.

These men had to literally leave their homes to go visit their friend. Those that know me well know that I speak of encouragement just as much as I speak of spiritual warfare.

Let’s make another very clear statement: If you are seeing from afar then you are not truly seeing at all.

What does this mean? If Job’s friends would have stayed in their homes, they would have never seen Job’s suffering for what it really was and would have never emotionally moved across the interpersonal engagement flow.

Another good example of showing interpersonal engagement is offering your physical presence without saying a word. Often times we feel as though we have to offer immediate advice, suggestions, and personal opinions. Yet, this is not warranted in many situations. We see from this passage that no one said a word for seven days. I love this!

Here’s yet another very clear statement: Sometimes the hearts communicate when the mouths cannot.

Now granted…the moment these friends started talking, things went off course. Just because you have a word does not mean it’s from God nor does it mean it’s good advice. In fact, Job 42:7 says, After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.”

Sadly, I know I’ve done this a time or two in my life. In full transparency, I can be too quick to offer advice, and just because it “sounds good” doesn’t mean it’s from God. I won’t get into all the other components of this book. I simply was pierced after reading this passage.

However, I most certainly wanted to challenge you with looking at how you fit on this interpersonal engagement flow. Some fall immediately to pity and never move because of pride, resentment, and judgement while others have a spiritual habit of landing right on compassion every time.

Questions: Where do you land? Do you move by making an effort?

Challenge: Where do you fall typically on the interpersonal engagement flow? How can you make this an exercise this week?

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

 

Come and Stay Awhile

Jeremiah 31:25 (NIV)

25 I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.”

He-Who-Searches-Mind-and-Heart

[Narrative]

The cheers disappear and the chatter is all but gone.

~You light the way.

The silence is deafening and negative emotions begin to take hold.

~You call me into the Holy of Holies.

My soul pours out until it reaches critical emptiness.

~I enter through the torn veil.

My heart breaks as silence fills my ear.

~Your words never return void.

The gift of edification is met with worldly destruction.

~You call out and say, “Come and stay awhile My child.”

The ‘coat of silence’ is heavy and weighing me down.

~”Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.”

Do you mind if I rest here for a moment, Lord? It’s hard out there.

~”I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul.”


Challenge: I was blessed to hear a sermon on encouragement last night. I’ve learned through personal trial and through teaching that the enemy wants nothing more than to keep Christians busy – so busy that they fail to sharpen one another.

Americans have this mastered perfectly! We do not need any further training; we don’t need the syllabus; we don’t even need the practice test! We already know how to overextend ourselves through work and play to where we forget the “main thing”…making disciples; loving God with all of our heart, mind and soul; and loving our neighbor as ourself. Within this process, there is a great deal of encouragement and edification.

Conversely, when we are focused only on climbing the career ladder, refreshing social media accounts, and making sure our elementary children make it into the major leagues when they grow up [-laugh please-], then we have truly failed. That might be hard to swallow, but we all know it’s true. Living a life filled with the Holy Spirit and on track with Jesus’ ministry means doing exactly what He did when He walked this same dirt thousands of years ago. The first church gives us the best example; they were a body knit together. Can’t you just see it?! Praying, worshiping, eating, sharpening, sharing, helping – Kingdom work!

When you live life together, you can’t help but encourage those around you! So, I encourage you today – look up! First and foremost, let the Holy Spirit fill you up to where you have His rushing waters flow from your spirit onto those around you. Does your family need a refreshing? What about those around you at work? Let the Holy Spirit flood you and those around you. Secondly, be intentional! Make a point to step outside of yourself and encourage those around you. For some, this is super easy. For others, this is foreign and hard. However, the reward flows both ways! Be blessed as you pour out a blessing.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Broken Walls

Broken Walls

Nehemiah 1:1-10

Nehemiah’s Prayer

These are the words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah.

I, Nehemiah, was in the capital city of Susa. It was in the month of Kislev. This was in the twentieth year. One of my brothers named Hanani came from Judah. Some other men were with him. I asked them about the Jews who lived through the captivity. And I also asked about Jerusalem.

They answered, “Nehemiah, those who are left from the captivity are back in the area of Judah. But they are in much trouble and are full of shame. The wall around Jerusalem is broken down. And its gates have been burned.”

When I heard these things, I sat down and cried for several days. I was sad and did not eat food. I prayed to the God of heaven. I said, “Lord, God of heaven, you are the great God who is to be respected. You keep your agreement of love with those who love you and obey your commands. Listen carefully. Look at me. Hear the prayer your servant is praying to you day and night. I am praying for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites have done against you. My father’s family and I have sinned against you. We have been wicked toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, rules and laws you gave your servant Moses.

“Remember what you taught your servant Moses. You said, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations. But if you come back to me and obey my commands, I will gather your people. I will gather them from the far ends of the earth. And I will bring them from captivity to where I have chosen to be worshiped.’

10 “They are your servants and your people. You have saved them with your great strength and power.


[Narrative]

You trailed behind me making me believe you left long ago; however, clanging bones revealed your position. You were closer than I ever imagined! Pausing long enough to catch your eye [pause] – brings back sorrowful emotions. Visions flood my mind where captivity, chains, and venom abound. When I saw these things, I could only cry. Evil freely enters through broken walls without any awareness or plan to fortify. Replaying the events mimicked learning to ride a bicycle yet falling repeatedly on gravel without any one there to help mend the wounds.

The hair on the back of my neck stands at attention in the first line of defense. The legion has been identified and their war cry is deafening. The sickening sound of anger, resentment, fear, and seclusion swirl around me like fiery hornets. My posture changes to prayer as my physical calls for help go unnoticed by man; I’ve been looking but no one comes. The hills are empty and my voice carries with purpose yet the echo returns empty. As I hit my knees, my Spirit always reminds me:

Psalm 121

A song of ascents.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.

storm coming

Falling prostrate in prayer allows my God to fight my battles! I am transformed into a field of peace, where His hand of protection covers me and allows me to stand on His solid Rock [His Son] where I am able to look at the storm, head on, only through the eyes of my Savior who took the battle ahead of me. Through His ultimate protection, I begin to feel the Potter rebuild the damaged walls and fortify His city within me. I continue to rely on 2 Corinthians 12:10, “So I am happy when I have weaknesses, insults, hard times, sufferings, and all kinds of troubles. All these things are for Christ. And I am happy, because when I am weak, then I am truly strong.”

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Reflecting Jesus

2 Corinthians 3:16-18

16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

reflecting jesus


[Narrative]

The law of religion casts a spiritual veil entangling those who call themselves righteous yet remain in darkness. Tear-stained pews welcome the sign of forgiveness and freedom; yet, the face of skepticism reinforces the spirit of fear. Shackles emerge from the stagnant atmosphere where negativity, criticism, and judgment abound. The powers of darkness multiply through generations of apathy while the sheep remain scattered. Disunity provides the appetizer for Satan’s pawns; yet, no one really understands that their souls are his main course. The trumpet sounds and in a dissonant whisper the church hears, “Woe to those who call evil good.”

The angels sing and a war breaks out. The enemy’s handshake encodes rejection and persecution into the deepest creases of your palm, and he doesn’t want to let go. Comfort, satisfaction, and power drift from his breath into a coat of lies. However, Jesus came to set the captives free. The blood flowing from his nail-pierced hands decode the Deceiver’s message, and it now says, “BOUGHT AND SET FREE!” Your religious chains are no more. The veil has been lifted; the shackles are broken. Under the new covenant, all who turn to Jesus have communion with the Savior, and His glory shines upon you. The Word of God reflects the Holy One, and He is seen through your eyes.


Dear friends,

We have this false idea that only the religious leaders during Jesus’ time were the only ones who rejected the Messiah while He was right in front of them. The religious people during this time did not grasp the message even though the Messenger was right in front of them. Why? They had a spiritual veil over their eyes. Honestly, they were blinded by their own rules, religion, and doctrine. Sound familiar? Yes, it actually does. The same thing is happening today. Please do not believe Satan’s lies any longer.

2 Corinthians 3:16 says, “But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.” Praise the Lord! This is a heart change my friends. You can’t work enough for it; you can’t pay enough for it; you can’t do good enough for it. You must turn your heart and trust the Holy One, Jesus Christ. The law only brings bondage; rules only bring bondage; religionism only brings bondage – interesting theme here. Don’t get me wrong. Jesus makes it very clear how Christians are supposed to live; however, if you are trying to follow rules to be found righteous, then you are veiled. Jesus wants you to receive true freedom.

No more legalism! Receive the true gift of freedom so you can see through Jesus’ eyes. Begin to see His ministry, His people, His passions, His sheep. Be filled today with the Holy Spirit and bask in a new life each and every day – one where you are seeking to be a disciple!

Question: What do you see?

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Refuge

Psalm 18:2

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Refuge

What a year! I took the word challenge at the beginning of the year and decided to pick my one word that I wanted to basically live by for 2018. My word was teachable…[gasp]…yes, some of you are saying, “Why would you pick such a reactionary word almost like asking for patience.” Simply…God said so through my prayer time so rebellion wasn’t an option.

My “word” did not disappoint! I started the year off with a significant health scare that lasted three months. I learned to fully rely on God during this time. My flesh wanted nothing more than to control every bit of my situation down to insurance authorization, or the lack thereof actually, scheduling, appointments, diagnoses, medical plans, and clarification. Yet, all things were out of my control, even knowing if my life was going to change forever or not! Interesting! Actually, no…rather typical for someone who prayed to be teachable I would say. Peace replaced uncertainty.

Instead of detailing an entire year’s worth of teachable moments, I wanted to shed light on one main truth. The main thing I learned by remaining teachable was fully understanding that only God is our refuge. Anxiety and fear manifest when our refuge is anything other than God Almighty. There are literally millions of things that masquerade as a false place of refuge in and around our lives.

Other things that I learned:

~I learned that pleasing those around me instead of keeping my eyes on Christ manifests in the quicksand of disappointment.

~I learned that pride permeates the thickest of spiritual and physical walls and infests all who are lukewarm in His eyes.

~I learned that trust is more subjective than I ever imagined.

~I learned that freedom doesn’t always have to follow a process or pre-planned systematic approach.

~I learned that healing from both physical and spiritual ailments comes to those who are actually willing to carry their brothers and sisters to the feet of Jesus in pure faith.

~I learned that worship is a representation of the heart.

~I learned that greed and envy grow exponentially in the garden of bitterness and discontent.

~I learned that prayer is the strongest weapon yet highly underutilized.

~I learned that criticism weakens spiritual gifts and kills the branch that will evidentially be swept away.

~I learned that placing faith and hope in people will lead to ruin.

~I learned that resting in Christ is more than fulfilling, it’s peaceful and consistent.

~I learned that supernatural encounters are still alive.

~I learned that ministry requires reaching outside your personal boundaries.

~I learned that the enemy is very much at work today, but we hold the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord.


I could continue this list because I truly learned a lot as I did try to remain “teachable” this year. In the highs and lows, the one thing that remained the same…Jesus!

My refuge in peace AND storm – Jesus
My refuge in joy AND uncertainty – Jesus
My refuge in contentment AND dissatisfaction – Jesus
Question: What did you learn this year? How did God grow you?Thankful,Christian Armetta