Satan, You Can’t Have My Children

Going into this book I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say I was a little intimidated by the title.  Afterall, it’s a little “in your face” to satan.  For someone who doesn’t really go after stirring up the pot, I certainly would rather not stir up the darkness.  That’s my flesh talking for sure!

I’m reminded often of the power I have at every turn of every moment of my life.  Christ in Me!  The Hope of Glory!  The God who rose from the grave and turned water into wine!  The God that defeated Goliath and withstood the fiery furnace, the God that created man from dust and thousands of years later walked on water.  The very God where darkness cannot be found — it’s not allowed!  That’s the power I have — because Christ lives in me and through me!

With that in mind . . . I read this book!

First of all I must let Ms. Iris know how thankful I am that God laid these truths upon her heart, gave her the spirit of obedience and put them on paper.  They were a true testament to the nature of who she is in Christ and who we all are who call on the name above all names!

Our children are so precious!  More than legacies and more than little people.  As Ms. Iris says, they are unique spirits clothed in an earth-suit of their own.  As parents we spend the majority of our time caring for the earth suits, but little to no time nurturing their more valuable identity — their souls.  Robbed of their innocence, the truths of the Kingdom and their dependence on Christ alone, our children are wandering in the desert and clinging to false faith, false hope and false love.

It is our responsibility as parents to protect them from the scalding arrows of satan and his never-changing lies.  We must PRAY!  Pray for our children at all times!  Present them at Christ’s feet, surrendered but not silent!  It’s past time to be intentional about talking, praying and teaching the Truth, boldly, honestly and fearlessly to our children.

I could go on and on — this book fired me up!  Can you tell?  Every Christian parent should read it for no other reason than as a reminder that our battle is not against flesh and blood — and our children are walking aimlessly inside the lion’s pride.

Click here to learn more about his book!

by:  Mark Cruver

Living Redeemed

“My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you — I, Whom you have redeemed.”  Psalm 71:23

As an early teen, I mastered the art of cashing in on others carelessness.  It was the perfect arrangement and the reward was sweet.  You see, back then (you know I’m getting old when I have to say that), beverages came in tall 12 oz. or 16 oz. glass bottles.  Remember?  Depending on your age, you may have to learn instead of remember.  HA!

At any given moment you could walk up and down the street and find any number of bottles along the roadside, in the ditch or even in the trash.  Thrown away and discarded, these bottles had value!  For me, it was a cash-cow!  I quickly learned that if I collected them and took them to the gas station market right down the street, they would give me 10 cents for every bottle.  That was a no brainer for me!  Do the math!  For every 10 bottles I got a whole dollar!  It didn’t take me long to fill the brown-paper grocery bags with my collection of discarded gold!  And I walked away with a refreshing Nehi Grape Soda and a candy bar — that’s what I’m talking about right there!

I was talking with my son recently about what it meant to be redeemed.  This childhood experience of mine was what came to mind.  To redeem something means to exchange something for it’s value!  It truly is a “cash-in” moment.  So when God says that we have been redeemed — that would suggest a few things.  First of all, it suggests we have value!  Even in our state of sin and disobedience, He reminds us that He has already made the exchange — He’s already “cashed-in” for us!  Second, it suggests in the exchange there are winners!  At the gas station, the attendant won because she received benefit from the glass recyclers and I received my Nehi!  It was a Win-Win!  It’s a Win-Win with Christ and me too!  Christ wins in fellowship with us, knowing that His child is trusting in the life He intended us to live.  I win because I CAN live without condemnation because of Him!  And third, once I hand over those bottles — I don’t have to carry them anymore!  And let me tell you, if you’ve ever tried riding a bike holding two paper sacks filled with empty glass bottles you’d come to realize how challenging that really is.  I can’t say I didn’t lose a few bottles along the route.  Like our walk in Christ, we no longer have to carry the burden, sit beneath the weight or position ourselves under the pressure of the past any longer.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”  II Corinthians 5:17

We are no longer bound to those things, the chains have been loosened and we have been set free!  We are able to then sit in the shade of His everlasting love and enjoy the sweetness of His delight and sip on the “Nehi” of His Spirit that lives within us.

But it’s one thing to know the meaning of redemption, it’s another walking and living redeemed.  What in the world does that look like and how do you do it?  It starts with faith — belief in trusting the Savior because what He says is true (Isaiah 45:19).  Through belief you teach your heart and mind to know and recognize the truth!  What looks like reality isn’t always true — that’s why your compass has to point in the direction of “He” at all times (see yesterday’s post).  Then, and only then, will you walk as does the blind man.  You become fully dependent upon the ONLY one who can redeem!

What does this look like in your life?  We all have issues, crisis, struggles, challenges, worries and busyness.  How do you live redeemed?

The Meaning of Leaning

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

I recently went to one of my son’s cross country meets to watch him run.  To my amazement at the starting line, besides him were what I could only estimate close to 200 other guys in his category lined up.  There must have been a million dollars alone on the feet of all those runners!  The chatter among parents and coaches before the race revolved around the mere numbers and the difficulty the runners may find in spreading out early enough in the race before the path narrows.  Some 17 minutes later the first runner crossed the finish line — challenged, but not phased by the course.  He owned it.  What caught my attention were the runners crossing the finish line near the 33 minute marker.   The last 100 yards was clearly nothing they wanted any part of.  It brought new meaning to … “press on!”  I watched as these athletes crossed the line — the end — the final moment of the race for them and staggered to keep themselves upright.  Many of them would fall to the left, get up only to fall to the right.  Their bodies were refusing to listen to their mind and exhaustion had sapped every ounce of ability to stand on their own.  Without hesitation, helpers would get on both sides of them and lend their own bodies to work on their behalf.  The athlete had no choice but to lean on their person of rescue.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could do that with God?  Wouldn’t it be the best if we could actually “have no choice but to” lean.  Instead, we look at ourselves and say, “My legs are working — I’m gonna take it from here.”  And this is how we tend to go about our lives — training ourselves to lean unto our own reality, lean on our own perceptions, lean on our own knowledge and then we wonder why our “legs” don’t work, or our “minds” won’t stop and our behavior won’t change.  When our eyes are fixed only on ourselves, our hope in life becomes unstable.  It becomes a brick used in the construction of our life.  It appears pretty strong, feels pretty durable, but even the strongest brick placed on a foundation set on sand will crumble.

We train our soul to lean one of two directions.  Unlike natural reality where there is a North, South, East and West to determine direction, in our spiritual reality there is only two directions . . . He and Me!  The magnet of our soul turns the compass of our hearts to trust in one or the other.  Unfortunately, many of us choose throughout our every day to follow the arrow on our compass to follow Me!  When we move in this direction and place our trust in the ways of this world, absent Christ in our daily walk, our lives are filled with hopelessness.  But when we follow the compass of our hearts to follow Him — to trust completely upon Him in EVERYTHING, our soul begins to learn to habitually lean on Him.  He came so that we might have Hope! (Romans 15:4)

I don’t know about you, but this is where I want to be every minute of everyday.  Like the athlete who on his own barely crosses the finish line, I want Christ to become my “legs,” my “arms,” my ALL!  I want the magnet of my soul to, without question, habitually lean toward He every time!  When this happens, God says, “thank you!”  Because until we surrender ourselves to Him completely our needle will still be pointing to Me and not He.  I’ve got to let Him every minute!

Let He, not Me . . . that’s the meaning of leaning!

“Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever.”  Psalm 125:1

Best Friends For Life And Eternity

“My command is this:  Love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command.”  John 15:12-14

Last night I was reminded of what friendship is all about when I realized it was the greatest thing that ever came out of Zephyrhills Jr. High School in 1982.  In my opinion, never before this time nor since then, do I believe anything as great as this has ever come from this place.  An introduction between two 12 year old boys on the first day of science class.  A friendship, nurtured through time and tested with life’s most challenging events — death of family, marriage, abandonment, accomplishments and failures, betrayal and family crisis to only name a few.

I’ve thought about what life might be like without friends.  It’s pretty quiet to say the least.  No one to share life with or rejoice in victory.  No one that cheers and no one that listens.  A true place of isolation.  It reminds me of how I thought Wall-E must have felt (even though he was a robot) — but even he had a pet roach!

So I cherish my friend!  I am unable to express in words what his friendship really means to me.  But it pales in comparison to the worth of friendship my Father has of me!  As much as I value the one thing that has stood the test of time on earth, it too will pass.  My joy in this earthly friendship is knowing our lives will extend into eternity — into the presence of Christ — an eternal existence far more indescribable and greater than anything on earth.

So long as I’m still on this earth, everyday I am able to live in that heaven.  I experience the essence of what Christ intended in our relationships through the gift of this friendship He orchestrated.  His blessings, through friendship, is a reflection of His character living out in me and through Him, I am able to live in peace and joy of knowing the nature and future of our friendship.

It is merely a taste of the friendship the Father, through His Son, has for me!  Christ commanded us to Love one another as (He) has loved (us).  This is how we are to relate with one another and an example of Christ THROUGH you!  Our love — true love — is only possible THROUGH Him!  And when we do!  When we trust in His love towards our friends, He then says, “you are my friend!”

What?  Christ is my friend?  I have always understood Christ as my Teacher, Christ as His Son, Christ as my Sacrifice, Christ as my Life, Christ as my Comfort, Christ as my Rock, Christ as my Deliverer …. but friend?

How blessed I am to have a friend on earth that reminds me of what Christ means when He says He too is my friend!

by:  Mark Cruver

All Rights Reserved

The only right a Christian has is the right to give up his rights.  -Oswald Chambers

My nephew is 3 years old.  Lunch for his brothers and sister were being prepared for the day and they were being carefully assembled on the kitchen counter.  His mom grabbed the block of cheese from the refrigerator and began slicing pieces off for each of their lunch boxes.  No one was eating the cheese at the moment, it was for later.  But this little guy was ready, right now, to get his cheesy prize.  His logic was clearly, “if there’s cheese, then I get some.”  Unclear to him this was false logic, because once he found out he wasn’t getting any cheese, his happy, sweet and innocent self turned into a thrashing, loud and tearful torment.  What in the world just happened?

He felt he had a right to get cheese.  All the pieces were in place for this to be true . . . he was there, cheese was there, mommy was there, his mouth was there!  Cha-ching!

I have been challenged lately in my life in much the same way.  There are circumstances where I have felt all the right pieces were present for a very specific outcome.  On more than one occasion these moments have never turned out as I had imagined they would . . . or should.  So, upon departure I would find my anxiety to be high, my criticism to be sharp and despair to be looming near in the shadows.  What in the world just happened?

It’s all about my rights!  In those moments, much like my nephew, I thought I deserved something.  A pat on the back or a certain comment, maybe just a positive look to assure myself things are just fine.  The fact is I don’t NEED any of those things.  Sure, I’d like them and it would be added coolness to get them, but all of those things are already being met in and through Christ in me.  I just need to learn, and trust, in living in that truth.  My worth, my identity is found through Christ.

“I am the vine, you are the branches.  If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”  John 15:5

by: Mark Cruver