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

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

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

Judging Others

Matthew 7:1-5

Judging Others

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

judgement

The tongue brings forth both praise and condemnation almost within the same breath. We’ve all heard the saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” However, I want to take this a step further by saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, ask God to reveal your own plank so the Master Surgeon can skillfully remove this evil from your body.”

James 3:8-9, “but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.”

Yes, I’ve heard it all! You say, “But her sin is greater than mine!” “She went down a dark road and ruined many lives.” “He lives in sin yet comes to church like nothing is wrong.” The list is endless! Yet, the mirror image of your condemnation tarnishes your very own appearance.

The stumbling block verbally created by linguistically simple phrases blocks spiritual progress in the body of Christ. In other words, it doesn’t take much effort and much movement within the mouth to destroy not just one person but an entire assembly through relentless gossip, judgement, and hate.

~Venom projects into the body of Christ with such articulate morphology of evil overtones.

~Charisma masks the hatred under the skin in order to draw others into the stumbling block of defeat.

~A critical spirit takes residence within the laryngeal vestibule.

~Speech is filtered now through evil intentions.

~What can break this type of stronghold? The NAME OF JESUS!

Philippians 2:9-11

“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Dear believers, we come together and ask that God pierce us all against such sinfulness masquerading as concern for others. The simple truth is…you are gossiping and holding the body of Christ hostage with your entangled words. No one is immune to the simplicity of this mighty sin. Therefore, if you truly have nothing nice to say, I ask that the Holy Spirit humble you at that very moment. Seek His face in order that your words may be uplifting and beneficial to those who listen.

Ephesians 4:29

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Question: Have you allowed your tongue to produce venomous condemnation or fruitful edification?

Challenge: Ask God to place a spiritual mirror in your face at the very moment you feel the desire to condemn others?

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Scales

Luke 24:13-35 [Read Entire Passage]

The Walk to Emmaus

35 Then the two from Emmaus told their story of how Jesus had appeared to them as they were walking along the road, and how they had recognized him as he was breaking the bread.

Recently, I was blessed to share this personal revelation at church. I am thankful for my pastor and the truth he preaches. His words are sprouting new spiritual growth within many whom the Holy Spirit has prepared. It is time that we see the body of Christ as community minded and not consumers. Are you ready to make the change?

Let’s think about this passage for a moment. If the two men who were walking and discussing the recent events of Jesus’ death were consumers, they would have failed to commune in conversation with the stranger (i.e., Jesus) on the road to Emmaus. Why? In our current culture, we don’t want to be bothered. It’s easier to go through the self check-out line instead of actually talking to a cashier. Satan has convinced even the strongest believers that life is an inconvenience. Don’t get me wrong! I love a quick self check-out register; however, aren’t we missing the bigger picture here? What encounters are we missing by frankly running away from people? My dear friend Mrs. Rita has also opened my eyes to this very practice.

Sadly, we simply don’t want to be bothered. We are too absorbed into our own lives that we miss heavenly encounters on our daily road. As consumers, these two men on the road to Emmaus would have ignored the stranger walking the same path because he was not originally part of their group. As community minded, we should see others as an opportunity to share, anytime and anywhere.

As the men approached the village, Jesus continued to walk acting as if He were going on to his final destination. However, the two men begged Him to stay for the evening because it was getting late. As consumers, the two men would have never even had a thought to ask Jesus to stay with them. This would have been too much of an inconvenience. As community minded, these men sought to impart compassion and hospitality which ended up being a life changing blessing. How often do we let heaven’s blessings continue to walk away because we are consuming instead of being aware?

My greatest personal revelation comes from the verb acted. 28 By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus acted as if he were going on, 29 but they begged him, “Stay the night with us, since it is getting late.” So he went home with them. 

My dear friends, we are missing it! This quick pragmatic exchange resulted in a personal encounter with the Savior of the world! What would have happened if these two men were more concerned with self-preservation? What if they thought, “This stranger is nice but we have come to our destination and we just don’t have any more food or enough space to let him stay so he’s on his own.” What if these two men truly had these selfish thoughts?

Better yet, how many times have you let Jesus continue to walk when He just wanted to come in and stay? [Pause]…me, sadly, too many times.

30 As they sat down to eat, he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them.31 Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared!”

As consumers, these two men would have missed the biggest blessing of their lives. As community minded believers, they witnessed the power of God before them, shared their word of testimony, and that word continues to be shared today over 2,000 years later! A single encounter with Jesus can and will alter life forever!

I simply want us to get it. The road to Emmaus is our road. It’s your highway that cuts through the heart of your city. It’s the back roads of the hill country. It’s the hallway you walk down at your job. What and who are you missing by failing to commune in love while you walk these roads? How many angels do we fail to entertain because we are simply self-absorbed? What blessings are you failing to impart onto others because you simply are too busy to see the need around you?

I encourage you to be community minded (as my pastor would say) and not consumers. As Christ-followers, we should blow God’s presence out in complete oscillation around us.

Challenge: Pray that God removes the scales from your eyes so you can truly see.

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