Mirror Neurons

2 Corinthians 3:18

18 We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.

jesus_in_our_eyes

I had the opportunity to speak to a group in our community this week on memory strategies. This presentation always starts with a fun lecture on neuroanatomy. Every time I prepare for this presentation, I see God’s fingerprints all over the complexities of the human brain; it truly takes my breath away. God’s handiwork over the human body is truly speechless. I thoroughly enjoy studying and sharing this knowledge with my patients and the community around me.

Also during this week, I was listening to a podcast by Rick Warren who mentioned “mirror neurons.” I thought, “What irony!!” This occurred on the same day that I gave my presentation on neuroanatomy, memory function, and nerve health. The Holy Spirit was prompting me to pay attention and I knew there was obviously a lesson in all of it. When the Creator whispers, you must listen. The life lesson I learned was far-reaching and I most certainly had to share!

You see, mirror neurons respond to actions that we see in others. [STOP!] Let that soak in for a moment. We are truly hardwired by God Himself to nearly imitate or at least emulate the things closest to us and especially the things we focus on. This is why it is so critical to focus on God!

There’s a reason why Hebrews tells us to fix our eyes on Christ…

Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

AH! fixing your eyes on the things of this world will truly make you mirror those exact things! Your brain can’t help it so you must avoid it!

~When you fix your eyes on materialism, your mirror neurons can’t help but reflect the filth of this world through your actions and speech to others. You lose empathy, wisdom, discernment and compassion for others. You only see things that falsely fill your personal “want tank.” Egocentrism becomes your idol and you sacrifice those you once held dear for the things of this world. You are consumed by this world which prevents you from being transformed by the renewing of your mind.

~When you fix your eyes on pride, your mirror neurons can’t help but reflect the evil through your tone and discord ensues. You speak critically of others and lose the type of love Christ demands that we show to all. You see yourself as the Queen of your world; however, your empire is built on human praise that will eventually fall. Your eyes are veiled and you miss the pain all around you. Hurting souls are crying out but the “I” in your ear is deafening. Your worship is tainted as it is filtered through unthankfulness, anger, bitterness, hypocrisy, control, fear, obsession, and envy.

~When you fix your eyes on gossip, your mirror neurons can’t help but reflect the power of death in your tongue for Proverbs 18:21 confirms this very truth. In fact, this verse also states that you will ‘mirror’ (eat) the fruits of your speech. Your false empowerment is also temporary as this too shall fall. The darkest side of your tongue becomes your weapon of choice. Edification is replaced with condemnation. The black hole inside of you vacuums light around you. You are incapable of speaking love and disunity grows around you until spiritual suffocation is complete.

BUT GOD…!

~When you fix your eyes on Jesus, your mirror neurons can’t help but worship! You and all of creation can’t help but sing praises to the King. Your entire body comes into alignment with the perfection of Christ. You desire all things pure and holy. Your fruits sprout and grow in the fertilizer of the King. There is no doubt that love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control flow from His endless river onto all those around you.

This is why it’s so important to put on the full armor of God each and every day. Ask the Father in heaven to dress you as you would your child. We must deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Jesus. The only way to do that is to focus on Him in turn mirroring His every action.

It’s “spiritual neurology” my friends! Your brain is hardwired to mirror the very things you place in front of you. If it’s worldly, you will look like it, talk like it and vomit evil like it. If it’s of God, you will shine like it, love like it and speak life like it. I challenge you to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal these things to you during your prayer time. Allow the Holy Spirit to surgically remove these evils in your life so that you may reflect His holiness.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Sacrificial Community

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Friends and Family Give Strength

Two people are better than one.
    They get more done by working together.
10 If one person falls,
    the other can help him up.
But it is bad for the person who is alone when he falls.
    No one is there to help him.
11 If two lie down together, they will be warm.
    But a person alone will not be warm.
12 An enemy might defeat one person,
    but two people together can defend themselves.
A rope that has three parts wrapped together
    is hard to break.

side huge and love

I’m going through a video series with a small group currently that has both reinforced and challenged our way of Christian living. I am only on video number two and it has completely wrecked me! The speaker, Lisa Harper, made sharp statements that spoke directly to my soul. [Side note] Lisa is a powerful warrior and anointed by the Holy Spirit; I encourage you to look her up.

Lisa reinforced the need for community. I speak about this as much as I speak about spiritual warfare. Honestly, they go hand-in-hand! She said, “We need community. We need to surround ourselves with Jesus loving friends. Those watching the video with you will be the first ones to dive in front of you and take a bullet the next time the enemy fires a round of temptation your way. It would be a good idea to give them a hug.”

This struck me to tears. I know this deeply, but it also reinforced a common theme – sacrificial community. As believers, we have heard this topic of “doing life together” plenty of times. Yet, have you truly thought about your sacrificial responsibility? What a beautiful reminder from Lisa Harper this morning. True community makes an effort, a point and a sacrifice for an intentional relationship. You cannot “take a bullet” for someone if you aren’t sacrificing for others.

We know Satan is out there seeking someone to devour. This is where Ecclesiastes 4:12 hits home for me! 12 An enemy might defeat one person, but two people together can defend themselves. The only way you can defend together is if you are actually together. I truly believe we’ve missed the point as the body of Christ. I’m not interested in Sunday morning hellos, masked smiles, and overly used excuses – no! True community means sacrifice.

I’m here to challenge your current way of thinking. Actually, I’m here to sharpen you. May the Holy Spirit melt your heart into seeking sacrificial relationships. Earnestly seek the guidance from the Holy Spirit this week and put on sacrificial, relational glasses. If you spend a lot of time saying “I/We” then I challenge you to lay these thoughts at the Father’s altar of forgiveness. Sometimes we confuse many things of this world with the largest root of pride. However, pride sprouts the tiniest buds that are meant to deceive and destroy everything around you.

Question: What do you need to sacrifice in order to pour life into those around you?

Thankful,

Christian Armetta 

What an Honor

Jesus on Beach

John 2:7-11

Jesus Changes Water Into Wine

Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.

Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”

They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

11 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

~Today I got to assist the King! To be honest, I started my day believing this would be like any other day. I would fill my space like I normally do and help others because that’s just what I do. I’m known for washing over people, which makes them feel better but I’m usually left drained. I’m sad to say that I wasn’t expecting today to be extraordinary. You see, I know I’m supposed to choose joy in all situations and even in the mundane, but it most certainly is a challenge. But today I saw the King! He actually needed me to accomplish His purpose. The very One who was with the Father the day Heaven and Earth were created prayed over me and I was literally transformed before His eyes; I’ve been made new and will never be the same…so said the water that turned into wine.

Matthew 21:1-11

Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King

21 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”

~Today I got to assist the King! It started out like any other day when I ate breakfast and ran a little in the field. I worked in the garden and even carted some goods from town back to the house. I truly thought it was going to be like any other day, but the King needed me! I had no idea that He was on His way and He wanted me. His friends said He needed me! Yes, the Messiah needed me! My life was made for a purpose long ago, and I just didn’t know the impact it would have on eternity. When I walked up to Him, I couldn’t believe I was meeting my Maker face-to-face. He spoke to me without moving His lips. On that day, I got to carry the King who created me…so says the colt.

Matthew 27

The Crucifixion of Jesus

32 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. 33 They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 34 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. 35 When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 36 And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. 37 Above his head they placed the written charge against him: this is Jesus, the king of the jews.

~Today I got to assist the King! When I was young, I never imagined my role in this life. To be honest, I thought of myself as a nobody. In fact, I purposefully didn’t stand out and made sure that I hung around quietly with others just like me. I’ve had some rough patches in my life, but when people look at me in general they don’t like what they see. I never truly felt appreciated as much as I did today. You see, a man needed me today….not just any man but the Savior of the world. I would hear from Him when He was close, but today I got to support Him in His toughest part of ministry. I listened while He prayed and I soaked up His sweat the best I knew how. You see, today I held Jesus as He died and saved you and me…so said the cross.


1 Corinthians 12:27

27 All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.

I truly witnessed the body of Christ in action today and it radiated with love. There is nothing better than serving others and being a powerful witness to the greatness of Jesus Christ. There are numerous examples and commands in the Bible concerning this very message. From worshiping in one accord, prayer walking, cooking, filling book bags, praying with children, to face painting, God’s love was poured out today. My strongest encouragement and challenge would be to seek opportunities to be Jesus to those around you. I found myself overwhelmed with pure joy today because Jesus wanted to use us for His purpose. Just as He can use a colt, water, and a cross – He can use you. The difference is the relationship! So, today I got to assist the King, and I know it changed the world because He changed me!

Challenge: Seek service opportunities this week to live like Jesus in your community.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Goals

Matthew 28:19-20

19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

saying goodbye

I was reminded today that my goals are not your goals but they all must match God’s goals! You see, in a matter of three weeks, I will lose another spiritual sharpener. I almost can’t even type without the sound of tear-soaked keys. People come and go, but you are never prepared to let those very dear to you leave the close perimeter of your life especially when you have witnessed such spiritual metamorphosis in such a soul.

~My goals are not your goals but they all must match God’s goals.

Sure, it’s not about me but there are always lessons to learn! Just this year alone, I have watched three precious families and courageous hearts dear to me leave the familiar and venture out into new lands. Now, in just a blink of an eye, we will raise palms to the sky and release another warrior into her promised land. Stunned, shocked, yet rejoicing.

~My goals are not your goals but they all must match God’s goals.

As I listened to her speak, I heard the same words uttered from my mouth twelve years ago when God called my family back to Louisiana from Plano, Texas. You cannot deny open doors; God doesn’t miss an opportunity to outline the doorframe with tissue I know! I’ve been there before.

~My goals are not your goals but they all must match God’s goals.

So, I raise a hallelujah for surprise blessings! Yes, it’s not about me but one thing for sure…I’ve grown through her salvation, encouragement, praise, worship, and prayer. May we all learn that no matter where we go the mission remains the same: to love one another and to make disciples. I cannot wait for my dear friend and strong colleague to see God’s footprint as she settles into her new promised land.

~My goals are not your goals but they all must match God’s goals.

This is what I want to be known for truly. Your mission is where you are! It does not matter if you are working at a hospital, in a school, in a church, or at home…your mission is God’s mission and that never changes. This is also why every church should follow God’s mission and goals. Church goals should always reflect that of discipleship and brotherly love. Goals that fail to include God’s clear command will always end in destruction.

~My goals are not your goals but they all must match God’s goals.

Inward self-seeking service is rooted in pride. My encouragement and challenge for you this week is to study God’s commands and expectations for the body of believers. Always remember that the life of Jesus was remarkably people-minded because souls were hanging in the balance. I honestly want you to examine your mission field. Have you lost your focus for people? Is your calendar inwardly focused? Have you become just too busy in the world of distraction? It’s not too late to refocus on God, His mission, and His heart for people. It’s why He came and provided the ultimate sacrifice for us. So, it’s time that we all re-examine ourselves, our groups, and our culture. Let’s all agree that Satan no longer can distract us from our mission…to be light and salt in a dark world…making disciples.

~My goals are not your goals but they all must match God’s goals.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

No Greater Defense

Psalm 91

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

under God's Wing

I have a few places of pure peace and sanctuary: my whisper spots where I pray daily [yes I have more than one spot because I am in more than one place in a day]; an altar praying and worshiping; and on a long road with running shoes laced and earbuds tuned to my favorite praise and worship songs. Honestly, when I look back at this list, I would probably say my favorite time to worship, listen, and speak to God is when I’m running [gasp – I know!].

For some, this sounds more like a punishment; yet, for others this is about as close to God as we can get. Granted, this message is not a reinforcement or advertisement for running [even though that WOULD be a good one!]. No, this message came straight from the Holy Spirit today while running down a dusty road, worshiping, praising, and praying.

I found myself pulled into one song – Your Love Defends Me by Matt Maher. Granted I’ve heard this song many times, and it is most certainly on my favorites list. Yet, today was different. Don’t you just love how God points out something you’ve heard before, seen before, and maybe even done before and makes it…NEW! Ah…the God of wonders! Well, this is exactly what He did for me today.

If you have never read or heard Matt Maher’s heart behind this song, I strongly encourage you to read it. Here is an excerpt: “To put it simply – evil is in the business of accusation but God is in the business of raising up testimony – of who He is and what He’s done. This song talks about how God is a defender.” ~Matt Maher

[click below]

Matt Maher: Behind the Song

 


Trust me, this hits home!

When seasons change and persecution commands a mighty front:

~Your Love Defends Me

When closet faces find their prettiest mask to shield the evil behind:

~Your Love Defends Me

When hidden lies create spiritual craters in the souls of the innocent:

~Your Love Defends Me

When pride and bitterness corrode strands of unity one piece at a time:

~Your Love Defends Me

When the snarls of the devil are masqueraded behind the elite:

~Your Love Defends Me

When enemy forces catch the tunes of the worshipful seconds after vocal escape:

~Your Love Defends Me

When accusations replace affirmations:

~Your Love Defends Me

When personal opinion ruptures Godly wisdom:

~Your Love Defends Me

When excuses strangle the sin of judgement:

~Your Love Defends Me

When the tongues of the Pharisaical lash endless assault

~Your Love Defends Me


I’ve been on a deep spiritual journey that has taken me along the highest mountaintops and some of the deepest valleys that I’ve ever been on in my entire life! Nevertheless, I am learning each and every day that God’s love defends me and He never leaves me.

Trust me, I would love to “try” to defend myself, but I’ve learned that NEVER turns out well [ha!]. It would almost look like young David putting on King Saul’s armor trying to defeat a giant – that would be David trying to defend himself. That wasn’t the plan. He let God defend him, and we know how that turned out – victoriously! What did David do? He showed up and let God do the work with a sling and a stone. I expect to do the same then! So, I do pray Psalm 91 over myself, my family, and my friends. Yet, today it reached a deeper meaning. So, be encouraged today! His love defends you too!

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Runaway

Matthew 26:36-46

Gethsemane

36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

goodbye

I recently read a wonderful devotion covering this passage that made me literally stop in my tracks. Jesus was in true agony! He knew what was coming; He felt every bit of urgency, pain, sorrow, and a million other emotions the night before His crucifixion. We can honestly say He dreaded the cross, but He loved us too much to allow selfishness to take over. In fact, that would have been flat out impossible!

Look at His response in verse 53, “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”

 

The one thing that Jesus asked during his most desperate time of need was for His disciples to stay near and pray. However, these men could not stay awake. Jesus said to Peter, “You men could not stay awake with me for one hour?” This should pierce us all! Jesus explains why He wants and honestly needs them to stay awake but when He returns for the second time, He finds them asleep again. 

The point:

Jesus was fully man, and He was also fully God (Colossians 2:9). Jesus showed us through His own life here on the earth that we will experience trials and even anguish in this life. It is important to have people praying around you. However, we battle the flesh that keeps us bound in selfishness, self-pity, pride, bitterness, jealousy, greed, and anger. These oppressive forces block your blessings from reaching any further than your own thoughts.

Soon after Jesus’ arrest, the disciples deserted Him and fled (v. 56)…[pause]…we no longer have to wonder why Jesus strongly encouraged these men to stay awake and pray [v. 41 The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.] In His most desperate time, they fled; He was alone.

The solution:

~Pray hard and honestly.

~Pray with others and don’t fail them in their time of need; humble yourself.

~Pray even when you don’t want to; let go of the rebellion.

~Pray until you have nothing else to say; the Holy Spirit is still praying on your behalf.

~Pray until it hurts; God catches all your tears.

~Pray even when the world grows silent; God is always listening.

~Pray when others sleep; God is stretching your dependence.

~Pray when you see them run away; He will bring more back to you.

 

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Reaching

Acts 17:27

27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.

Reaching

[Interpretative Journaling]

I hear you forming; I see you in the distance. Your winds brush against the back of my neck in a taunting manner; trust me I know you’re there. Chaos grabs disunity and forms a funnel cloud of spiritual proportion.

As you approach, you are not very quiet. In fact, your roaring entrance has silenced everything and everyone around me; that doesn’t scare me. I stare at you because I know who you are; I’m unmoved. Lightening strikes the earth below. The ground practically crumbles underneath my feet as stability is wiped away.

As you swirl even closer, you gain even more strength by oppressing the souls of those whom I love. I’m still staring at you. You race toward me as you destroy everything in your path, but be prepared when you get really close. I know who you are; I’m unmoved.

tornado

Psalm 16:8 I keep my eyes always on the LordWith him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”

~You failed to see the King in me!

~Reinforcing arms come from afar.

~The horn sounds for His army.

~Even foreign tribes have promised to protect me.

~What was once familiar has fallen behind.

~The call from mighty warriors rip through your core.

~Affirming visions spanning across the globe dismantle your evil intentions.

~In unity, we reach out to our Savior to ultimately destroy you.

~Never forget that He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world.

~When you see me again, you’ll remember that I don’t back down because my father is the King.

lion

Proverbs 30:30, “A lion, mighty among beasts, who retreats before nothing.”

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

 

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

 

Unraveling

2 Corinthians 4:8-10

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.

warrior

The devilish storms collide as I watch pieces of faith unravel around me.

~Hard pressed on every side but not crushed.

My eyes see your squall filled with your venom but my ears only hear silence.

~Perplexed but not in despair.

Norms are replaced with abnormalities to persecute, pierce, and punish.

~Persecuted, but not abandoned.

The evil grip punctures my heart and your forked tongue relentlessly plants lies.

~Struck down, but not destroyed

Abandoned and deserted while pride, hypocrisy, and judgment rise all around.

~The life of Jesus may be revealed in our body.


Before walking out of my house each morning I pray that God would help me put on the full armor of God. Honestly, I imagine Him dressing me as I pray over each piece. This image brings me both strength and joy.

However, no matter how old I get or how “seasoned” of a believer you are, you are truly never prepared for an all out war! This is why I like the picture of the warrior who dropped his sword but his eyes have not moved while he is picking his sword back up! They are firmly planted, and trust me…the only way we can survive is to not only put on the full armor of God but to also keep our eyes firmly planted on the Lord.

Hebrews 12:1-3

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

I pray that you are courageously wearing your armor. I also pray that you are fixing your eyes on Jesus while you run this difficult race of life. The war is real and some seasons are more difficult than others.

I had a dear friend recently tell me that the hard pressing will result in “diamond-faith” if you allow Jesus to use it for His purpose and stop fighting it. “Diamond faith” is created under extreme heat and pressure! We often want to fight God and yell, “TIME-OUT!” Yet, He just wants you to stay in and rely on Him – the result – perfection! I am thankful for this word as it encouraged me and renewed my faith.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Unwarranted Blessings

Exodus 17

Water from a Rock

17 The whole Israelite community left the Desert of Sin. They traveled from place to place as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim. But there was no water there for the people to drink. So they quarreled with Moses. They said, “Give us water to drink.”

But Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why are you testing the Lord?”

But the people were very thirsty for water. So they grumbled against Moses. They said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt? Was it to kill us, our children and our farm animals with thirst?”

So Moses cried to the Lord, “What can I do with these people? They are almost ready to kill me with stones.”

The Lord said to Moses, “Go ahead of the people of Israel. And take some of the elders of Israel with you. Carry with you the walking stick that you used to strike the Nile River. Now go! I will stand in front of you on a rock at Mount Sinai. Hit that rock with the stick, and water will come out of it. Then the people can drink.” Moses did these things as the elders of Israel watched. Moses named that place Massah because the Israelites tested the Lord. They asked, “Is the Lord with us or not?” He also named it Meribah because they quarreled.

water from rock

“Oh those rebellious Israelites!” I look at this sentence and want to find a rock myself to crawl under. Why? Well, maybe because I’ve said this myself about one hundred times until I find myself acting just like them. You mean I was being judgmental? Sadly, probably so; however, I think it is more prideful. 

It is so easy to look at the collective lives of the Israelites, their journey, their purpose, and their lessons on this side of the Bible and impose our first world judgments. I’m here to tell you…this amazing story was not providentially entered into the Bible for your personal opinions or judgments but to learn how we, in fact, live parallel lives.

Just this week, I found myself grumbling and in a melancholy mood. Right the midst of this, God provided an opportunity for me to not only pray with a complete stranger but to also encourage her. You see, I was the Israelite; this stranger was the water from the rock.

Let me take you a little deeper. In the passage above, we cannot miss the fact that the Israelites traveled from place to place as the Lord commanded. Oh I see! They literally didn’t go to the next place unless the Lord told them to go.

[Don’t miss this!] So, if the Lord prepares the way, He will give you everything you need, but it might not be in the form you are used to seeing; it might not even be in the quantity you are used to receiving. Can we even say…it might not be in the same comfort you are used to living. But rest assured. He WILL provide if He tells you to go!

When the Israelites made it to their next destination, their flesh kicked in; they were thirsty. Who could blame them? However, it’s how they went about asking for water that makes this an unwarranted blessing. Instead of believing and demonstrating deep faith, they complained. Not only did they complain, but they even questioned Moses for taking them out of captivity in the first place.

The whole point of the story is that God was well prepared to satisfy their needs because the rocks were at the ready!! However, the Israelites were too far into their fleshly grumbling to even comprehend that God could possibly provide fresh water by means of rocks.

Dear friends, are you standing in the desert surrounded by awaiting rocks? To bring you back to my personal story, I found myself grumbling over being inconvenienced; I will tell you this is an ugly thorn from the root of pride. I had no idea that I was standing, no completely surrounded, by rocks just waiting to be split open by the Holy Spirit and to be poured out on me and a complete stranger.

When the Holy Spirit’s waters rushed out and poured over us during that prayer, I knew I was unworthy but thankful beyond words for grace that covers a multitude of sin. I was immediately reminded by God that He continues to use us despite our selfishness and pride. I am thankful that I remained available to the Holy Spirit.

Question: Where do you see yourself today?

  1. Are you in the desert grumbling unaware of the blessings surrounding you?
  2. What are you exactly thirsty for?
  3. Have you experienced the Holy Spirit’s waters rushing over you

Challenge: I know you’re thirsty! But stop grumbling and humbly ask God to give you His living water and to use you each and every day!

Thankful,

Christian Armetta