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

Revive

2 Chronicles 7:14

14 if My people who are called by My name put away their pride and pray, and look for My face, and turn from their sinful ways, then I will hear from heaven. I will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

revive

Venom drips from the mouths of the deceitful – REVIVE US OH LORD!

Worldly fruits are ripe for the picking in the garden of pride – REVIVE US OH LORD!

Apathy slithers across the aisle and blots out flickering lights – REVIVE US OH LORD!

The dragon’s forked tongue paralyzes the weak – REVIVE US OH LORD!

Strongholds multiple in the assembly of discontent – REVIVE US OH LORD!

Melodious worship is drowned out by traditionalism – REVIVE US OH LORD!

Giants will fall with one stone and Holy Spirit guidance – YOU ARE WORTHY!

The dragon is defeated by the sword of truth – YOU ARE WORTHY!

Venom soaked cloth is washed away by the blood of the Lamb – YOU ARE WORTHY!

Strongholds flee at the faintest breath of the Almighty God – YOU ARE WORTHY!

Dry bones awaken with a renewed spiritual nourishment – YOU ARE WORTHY!

Mountains will fall into the sea from the sound of the faithful – YOU ARE WORTHY!

Dear friends,

I am encouraged because my God is victorious. I encourage you to remain in the shadow of the cross. Remember, our Savior, Jesus Christ, is ALIVE! Keep your eyes firmly planted on Him.

When surrounded by crashing waves, keep singing because the waves will hush in the spiritual lullaby.

When surrounded by the spirit of negativity, keep praising because peace is a strong spiritual weapon.

When surrounded by apathy and discontent, keep praying because evil cannot stand in the presence of the Almighty God.

When surrounded by crushing mountains, keep believing because faith as small as a mustard seed is strong enough to move mountains.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Traps

1 Peter 5:8-9

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

traps

[Narrative]

Satan’s timing is incredible. The landmine of criticism incinerates the atmosphere of joy. Fiery darts invade your home; however, your unveiled eyes only see emotional triggers. Dirty clothes scattered throughout the hallways and open school books singe your last effort to cope. The spirit of anger penetrates deep within, and the enemy laughs at your attempt to hold it all together. Your physical attempt to resist melts under the weight of stress and trial…explosion.

The raindrops cannot drown out the downpour of exhaustion. Fear, fatigue, illness, abuse, and addiction surface. Immediately, you are contemplating the end. Hours now replace seconds. Empty promises produce a false sense of comfort where the Holy Spirit once stood. Finally, the fiery darts have nailed you to your strongholds.

In a moment of surrender, a prayer is heard. The Holy Spirit flashes the light of forgiveness that cleanses within. The fragments of this world are flushed out as the Spirit overflows the soul. Gifts are strengthened, and clarity revives spiritual will. Fiery darts are extinguished and joy is renewed. Hearts are mended. Strongholds are broken, and families are restored.

Challenge: Be mindful of Satan’s traps in your life. Pray over your families every day.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Unshackled Faith

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

unshackled

The weapons of this world strengthen the links that bind them. What started with one cuff now stretches to the length of your despair. Mental fatigue breaks down the spiritual force within you. Where does your help come from? Psalm 121 flickers within your mind but the weight of the world snuffs out your freedom.

The chains build strength and taunt your insecurities. Strongholds, once suppressed with the fragile strands of human power, now announce their false reign over you. Fear, helplessness, and loneliness now replace faith, hope, and love. The fiery darts of the enemy have increased in accuracy and you are losing strength. Isolation fuels spiritual bondage.

The Holy Spirit reminds you that you are a child of God and fight on this side of victory because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. Suddenly, you hear the prayers of mighty warriors in a concert meant for the King. As you begin to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ, light flashes around you and truth is revealed.

The demon of altered perception is commanded to remove his hands from your ears. Instantly, you hear God’s voice – “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” [Galatians 3:26]

The demon of altered reality if commanded to remove his hands from your mind. Instantly, mental clarity replaces fear and anxiety – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” [Proverbs 3:5-6]

As you submit fully to God, you humbly cry out for His help. Promises from above begin to assemble protective armor for the warfare. The command to resist the devil and he will flee charges the atmosphere. Demons scatter aimlessly. The wind created from angelic wings above prevent further demonic damage. Prayers are now uninhibited and the smell of victory fills the altar of grace.

Challenge: Where does your help come from?

mountains

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.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

See-Through

Lamentations 3:40 – “Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.”

Proverbs 15:3 – “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.”

See through

[Narrative]

~The crisp button down shirt hides the pain within the heart; yet if I let you see-through would you run away?

~The half smile and dim eyes are the definition of uncertainly; yet if I let you see-through would you question me?

~The recoiled posture marinates into the pot of despair; yet if I let you see-through would you comfort me?

~The questionable behavior alarms the elect; yet if I let you see-through would you gossip instead of protect?

~The heart’s denial battles the soul’s awareness; yet if I let you see-through would you correct me?

~The habits strangle purposeful intent; yet if I let you see-through would you carry me?

~The tongue speaks of what you want to hear only to mask the truth deep within; yet if I let you see-through would you pray for me?

~The talented hands move in unconscious memory as if going through the motions; yet if I let you see-through would you forget about me?

~The reputation fights for balance within the bitter sea of pride and humility; yet if I let you see-through would you call me narcissistic?

~The demons attempt to speak through the pores; yet if I let you see-through would you embrace me?

~The walls write another chapter of strongholds, devastation, and worldly battles; yet if I let you see-through would you call me your friend?

~The eyes tunnel into the spirit of truth which cascades volumes of personal despair but also victory; yet if I let you see through would you hold me accountable?

Dear friends, I speak a great deal on unveiling the truth within our lives. We spend an enormous amount of time packing fear, hurt, and strongholds behind our eyes. John 8:31-32 says truth will set us free. I will always encourage you to actively seek out strong Christian brothers and sisters to share life together. You do not have to live in darkness or face battles alone. To that I say, Satan is a liar!

Challenge: Reach out to a close friend and become actively involved in sharing life together.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Stronghold Isolation

2 Corinthians 10:3-4

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.

lonliness

The pew briefly collects the weight of your thoughts while you ponder your sinfulness. Thoughts of divinity overwhelm your senses to where your reflexes engage to mask the hurt welling up inside. Your painful expression makes one last effort to smile during the congregational welcome.

As the choir releases a powerful anthem of praise, your flesh sounds the alarm. You hear, “I’m not worthy.” Spiritual cement appears to paralyze your core. The battle between the forces of good and evil ignite and you feel as though you have already lost. The weapons formed against you continue to tear down your mental defenses as you ponder your past and the physical destruction of your present. The whispers continues, “If they only knew who you really are!” You turn sharply afraid your neighbor can overhear your thoughts.

The discerning hearts surrounding you release prayers of strength and peace. Even though the enemy has convinced you that your sin is greater than your neighbors, warrior angels have already commenced and the battle is the Lords. The enemy continues his attacks as you fight back the tears of disgrace. In a moment of surrender, the veil is lifted and you are surrounded by outstretched arms.

Stronghold isolation is a lie and you now realize that you’re not alone. Chains begin to fall. The congregation through the spirit of acceptance and humility ask the Holy Spirit to cleanse the temple body. As the strongholds release, they are extinguished by the blood of the Lamb. The Lord continues His protection, and the spirit of fear is cut off from your body and you take your first step into true worship and faith.

You awaken prostrate at the altar of forgiveness surrounded by fellow sinners with the same realization – God is sovereign and we are not alone!

Dear brothers and sisters, my greatest challenge is that you build strong accountability groups and share life together. Please know that isolation is Satan’s best weapon.

~Your struggle is not unique…God is all-knowing.

~Your battle is not new…God is all-powerful.

~Your sin is not greater than your neighbors…God is forgiving.

~Your struggle is not against flesh and blood..God is victorious!

Challenge: Release the strongholds that entrap you and know that you’re not alone! Share your story to entrusted Christian brothers and sisters and find freedom in the similarities of life.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Evaporation

Ezekiel 37:1-6

37 The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

Evaporation

[Narrative]

Visionary fragments release from your core like dust in the wind. Dreams, purpose, intentions, and goals flutter from your consciousness into the atmosphere of apathy. Depression, stress, pride, and control assemble a Goliath right before your eyes.

~His sword represents your failure.

~His shield represents your hopelessness.

~His armor represents your fear.

The collective laughter from even the godly suffocate the still small voice from above. The world entraps you by clinging to your ankle reinforcing your lack of faith. You feel as though there is no way out. You instinctively sense pieces of your character departing your reality until emotional and spiritual weakness ensue.

Your Goliath laughs before the battle even starts. You appear paralyzed by the weight of this world. Agonal breaths evaporate from the caves of your suffering. Your bones become brittle with exhaustion…[pause]…your last utterance announces surrender.

Defeat is imminent!

You sink into the valley of dry bones believing hope is lost. The enemy’s victory table is assembled over the dry bones reinforcing the crushing defeat. However, a rushing wind can be heard traveling over the hills. The Lord calls out, “Hear the word of the Lord!” The Lord’s announcement brings fear to the fallen angels. Trembling replaces gloating tongue. As the word of the Lord stretches over the valley, breath reenters, and life is renewed. Tendons and flesh reappear with reinforced strength from the Almighty.

With reverence, stones appear in the hand of the refreshed. The Holy Spirit guides the charge while stones soar to met their rightful place – the forehead of your Goliath. The giant falls and is extinguished from the battlefield. The chains of depression, fear, and covetous heart fall from your shoulders. Victory replaces the field where dry bones littered God’s promised land. The lies of the enemy are revealed and truth unmasks evil intentions to destroy you. Faith wins!

Challenge: Ask God to breathe life into your dry bones.

Questions: What is holding you down? What/Who is your Goliath?

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

Amazing Things

Joshua 3:5

Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.”

Mission Trip

Today we pray for our dear friends and church family in Honduras and Ecuador as they exemplify God’s love by being His hands and feet through missions. Some are participating in a medical mission in Honduras while another is teaching English in Ecuador. Please pray with me that God will be glorified through these encounters. You see, it’s never really about passing out medical supplies or teaching conjugated verbs. The main point is showing Christ’s love through word and deed. 1 John 3:18 says, “Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.”

While reading through the first few chapters of Joshua this morning, the Holy Spirit clearly stopped me when I came to Joshua 3:5 that says, “Joshua told the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.'” According to Merriam-Webster, this means to wholly dedicate yourself to something of greatest important. It also refers to the act of setting yourself aside and dedicating yourself to God. This passage and definition enlightens me!

In this passage, Joshua challenged the Israelites to consecrate themselves in preparation for the Lord’s goodness. How many of us miss the supernatural because we are too self-absorbed? In this same passage, we know that God did in fact show up in a mighty way. The priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of the people and stepped into the Jordan river expecting the supernatural! As soon as they touched the water’s edge, the waters parted and the people were able to walk across on dry land.

I believe the Word of the Lord is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. I also believe that if we humble and consecrate ourselves before the Lord, seeking His forgiveness of sin, then we too can walk supernatural riverbeds to reach the lost, hurting, and unloved here in our own towns or even in foreign countries.

So today I have two challenges:

  1. Pray that our dear friends in both Honduras and Ecuador consecrate themselves before the Lord so that they too will be able to walk across dry riverbeds into victory. We pray for salvation, healing, and love to abound.
  2. Pray that the Holy Spirit will reveal where you are failing to step into your own Jordan river. Are you doubting that God will part the waters for you? What is holding you back from believing in His supernatural abilities even today? Stop staring at the river and step! First, consecrate yourselves before the Lord and take the next step – walk across dry lands to what was once thought of as impossible – and bask in the God of possibilities!

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Less and Less

John 3:30

30 He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.

ladder of success

I just love the running community. This weekend we are celebrating the Beauregard Watermelon Festival here in Beauregard Parish. All the area runners come out in support of the Beauregard Christian Women’s Job Corp to run the local 5K. It is notorious for being hot, fast, and fun. This year did not disappoint.

We all love the competition and seeing who will place year after year; however, the goal is simply to finish which is an accomplishment in and of itself. After the award medals were placed around the winners’ necks and celebratory chatter died down, I couldn’t help but think about our Christian walk.

We spend our entire lives climbing the ladder of success in all aspects of our lives not just professionally. Our society teaches us to climb as high as we can. Some worldly philosophies would even support jostling your competition just to surpass him or her. Don’t get me wrong, I love races and winning medals, but when it comes to our walk with God, I want us to consider this verse in John that says, “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.”

As we elevate Christ, we become less important [pridefully speaking]. You see, it truly isn’t about you or me – are you shocked? Of course you’re not! Matthew 20:28 also says, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Yes, God incarnate came to serve others and to give his life for many who would spit on him, punch him, beat him, curse him, and nail him to a tree. Sadly, we are still doing that today. Even as believers, we abuse grace for recurrent sin. Instead of elevating Christ, we continue to lose focus on the prize – being a powerful witness. You can’t be a witness when you are too busy jostling people off your spiritual ladder.

I encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit to dig deep within your soul. Flip your ladder upside down. While the world is climbing a ladder that will rust and fade away, spend time working your way off the pride ladder. Let God change the rungs so when you step back on, you step on the rung of mercy, then grace, then peace, then patience, then kindness, then thankfulness. Before long, you are at the top…however, the world will see only Christ in you as you are elevated high like a bright light. Matthew 5:14, “You are the light of the world–like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.” So I’m going to keep climbing but in the fruits of the Spirit and not flesh so that Jesus will become greater and greater, and I will become less and less.

Question: What do people see at the top of your ladder? Personal Pride or Christ Himself

Thankful,

Christian Armetta