Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Being called to the depths

Life - especially life as a Christian - is not always easy. But what does it mean when we are constantly faced with difficult and trying circumstances, and you feel as if the worst aspects of yourself are being constantly exposed? How are we supposed to navigate our way through this time, especially when it seems to drag on for years on end, and every "light at the end of the tunnel" appears to be a false dawn?

Over the last 12 years I have faced seemingly endless struggles within my life. It all started when I moved to Taupo in 2009 and took a job selling cellphones at a local retailer. To say that it was the worst job I've ever had in my life would be an understatement. The job paved the way for my breakdown two years later. Though there has been improvement since then, I've never really been able to move on from the very deep place I found myself walking into. 

Recently I was watching a documentary called Secrets of the Titanic. It was about finding and exploring the wreck of the Titanic at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. This was a challenging task -  they didn't know exactly where the ship was, so it took a long time to find it. When they eventually did find the wreck, in order to explore it they had to pilot a tiny submarine to the very bottom of the Atlantic. It was a very dangerous environment as visibility in the submarine was very limited, plus the water pressure on the submarine was also huge - 2.5 tonnes per square inch. If the hull failed, the crew would have been instantly killed.

I felt God speaking to me about the time I had walked through over the last 12 years while I was watching this documentary. I felt He said to me that the time spent at Faith Bible College had been a time of construction. After that, when I did my first trip to USA - it was like I was being tested out in shallower waters to get a feel for things. But when the real call of God came to move to Taupo and take the job selling phones in 2009 - it was the beginning of being called down to the depths. Here are some of the lessons I have learned.

1. The pressure you are under when you are called to the depths with God is insane.

I knew straight away this new job was a poor fit for me. I am an introvert by nature, and back then I was struggling with overwhelming internal problems, so going into a work environment where I was dealing with hostile customers and staff on a face to face basis was not a good fit for me. From the first few weeks of being there, I wanted out. I tried to find another job, but it didn't happen, so I tried to make the best of where I was and hoped to succeed.

One day God told me that I was not going to succeed in the role, as that wasn't His plan for me. This knowledge added even more pressure. I had people asking me "why you don't just go and get another job?" -  but I knew that I couldn't as I was still meant to be where I was. 

I did eventually leave this job after a very long 6 months, but the pressure never really subsided -  I went into my next role not knowing that I was on the path to burnout. In 2011 I hit rock bottom and had to quit the role I was doing at the time, and eventually I had to leave the city and move in with family while I recovered. I eventually got another full time job several years later - but it didn't work out. This pattern of short term living environments and jobs continued for many years after this.

2009 was the beginning of walking into the place of "crush depth", and it would continue for many years to come. Every time it looked like I was coming out of that place, I'd just end up at the bottom again, as there was still more exploration to do. I have chosen to name this place "crush depth" because it honestly felt like being at the bottom of the ocean in a submarine with tonnes of water pressure on you at any moment.

2. There's no light at the very bottom.

The entire 12 years I've been in this season, it's like there's been no sense of guidance or direction at all, and the few times that it has come, it's only illuminated the path a few feet in front of me. There's been times when I felt as if I was going nowhere, and there's been times I've felt lead to go and do things that didn't make any sense at all - such as to take a new permanent full time job, only to be asked by God to resign from it just a few months later in order to go into full time ministry in another city. Often, if questioned why I did certain things, the only answer I could give was that "I was lead by God to do this".

Watching this documentary on discovering the Titanic wreck made me realize just how deep that part of the ocean really is. It is pitch black down there - sunlight doesn't get anywhere near it. The submarine has a few lamps to help navigate but relies heavily on SONAR and advanced compass systems to find its way around. I realized that this also spoke to my journey in the sense that the only navigation system I had in this place of intense depth and pressure was the Holy Spirit. 

I would wonder sometimes if I was heading down the wrong path. But I learned to become familiar with God's SONAR system in my spirit that would clearly tell me if I was going the wrong way, and I had to learn that even if I couldn't see a thing in front of me, I had to trust that I was being lead in the right direction. Things often didn't turn out the way that I wanted or expected. Despite the number of setbacks I experienced - I knew I had no choice but to keep going.

3. It's up to you how long you stay in that place.

A wreck as historically important as the wreck of the Titanic could not go unexplored. There has been strong interest in the wreck since it sunk in 1912. There were many expeditions sent out to find it which were unsuccessful. Once they finally found the wreck, the hard work had only just begun. The wreck had to be thoroughly explored, documented and photographed. They did not stop until their mission was complete.

I realized into this 12 year journey that I had to explore the darkest parts of my heart and that I could only do it while in this place of great depth. I couldn't come back up until the work was done. I could choose not to face what I was being called to face in this time - but that would only make the time spent in this place carry on even longer. The Holy Spirit would always be bringing things to the surface in my heart that were brought up by the high pressure circumstances I was always under, and I knew that I had to examine them and deal with them when they arose. Once one thing was done - it'd be straight onto the next thing. 

I knew that if I was to leave this place eventually, it would not happen until I was ready - and that I wouldn't be ready until I had learned everything that I was meant to learn. I learned to look inwards about things first and foremost whenever challenging circumstances arose to see if there was anything in me that first needed to change. I learned to see this time as a place of deep refinement and personal growth, and to allow my flaws to come to the surface and explore them as they arose, as this brought healing and breakthrough. 

For example - it was revealed to me how much I struggled with perfectionism and wanting to be right all of the time. As I examined this I realized perfectionism came from a lack of understanding about grace, which was connected to wrong thinking about who I believed I was in God. This type of self examination was the way that I was able to start moving in the direction God wanted me to go during this time. After a while I began to see the progress from doing this - anxiety and distress were slowly replaced by peace and calmness, one small piece at a time.

4. God will lead you out at the right time and will restore back to you what was lost.

For the first time since I've been walking in this deep place, recently I have truly begun to sense that it was coming to an end. For one, 12 is an important Biblical number - it is considered a perfect number, and stands for God's power and authority, as well as completeness. The job selling mobile phones in Taupo started at the end of May in 2009. Funnily enough, around the same time in 2021 I began a new project in my current job where it involved working with mobile phones - meeting with users face to face to help to set their new mobile phones up and performing upgrades.

After 12 years in the dark at crush depth, God has lead me back to where it all began - and shown me the huge distance I had covered within that time. I'm now doing a very similar job as I was 12 years ago but I'm coping with it far better due to the spiritual and mental place I am now in. I have a sense of peace and calmness that I never had before. I can honestly say that I love my job these days. I felt God say to me that I was beginning to leave the place of crush depth, and that He wanted me to go out on a high note. Being able to say that I have finally succeeded in a field that sent me on a downward spiral to burnout was certainly a high note indeed.

I hope this has encouraged you somewhat. If you find yourself in that crushing place of pressure, where there seems to be no light to guide you, and no sense that it will ever end - keep going. Keep working on yourself. Keep being faithful. Keep trusting God, and listening to His leading. It won't last forever. You'll come to the top eventually, carrying amazing records and treasures from your time in the dark, crushing depths.

Take care.

Monday, March 29, 2021

The Mocking Spirit

 This is something I am only just learning about, but I have seen it at work throughout my entire life in various forms. I am writing this blog to attempt to bring clarity on how this spirit works in the hope that it will bring healing, understanding and breakthrough to those who are oppressed by it.

The concept of sowing and reaping is one that is central to the Bible. When a man sows seed into a field, he will reap a harvest of what he's sown - if he has sown good seed, he will reap a good crop. If he has sown bad seed, he will either reap a poor crop or nothing at all. But what happens when these scenarios appear to be reversed? What happens when one who constantly and tirelessly sows good seed seemingly reaps nothing but barrenness, while those who sow bad seed either reap great crops, or are somehow able to steal the good crop from under the nose of the one who has sown the good seed?

Throughout my life I have seen this at work regularly, and to say it has been infuriating would be an understatement. I have been following in the Christian faith for 19 years. Throughout that time I have learned to put God first and to obey Him unconditionally, regardless of the cost - and believe me, the cost has been high. I have lost jobs, friendships, relationships, finances, time, living environments, privacy and health for the sake of obedience. The harvest that I have reaped has been sparingly little in comparison to what I have sown, and it has honestly felt like all the sowing I have done has just been throwing seed onto a barren field, where birds peck at all of the seeds and eat them so I am left with no choice but to gather more seed to sow.

I have also seen this work in reverse when it comes to people around me. I have seen selfish, narcissistic people who have entered into Godless relationships that God specifically told me to warn them not to get into (something which even their close friends would admit) and their response to my warning was to ignore it and carry on with their selfish desires. The harvest they have reaped has appeared to be very blessed and they are still together years later. I have also seen a vain, haughty and arrogant person take a permanent full time job that I believe God wanted me to have - and once they got this job, team up with somebody else in that department to target me with harassment. I ended up having to leave the company altogether as my fixed term contract came to an end, while these two smug, unpleasant individuals remain in their jobs and are able to continue to be nasty towards others together.

I have also seen many, many promises from God go blatantly unfulfilled - promises such as financial miracles, a permanent living environment, permanency and stability in my circumstances. The entire time I have seen all of this it has literally felt at times like Satan himself is staring me in the face and laughing at me - "ha ha ha, I keep taking away what's meant to be yours and there's nothing you can do about it! I win and you lose yet again! ha ha ha!" It has honestly made me so angry and frustrated I've just wanted to lash out but there's no one and nothing I can ever lash out at, so I am forced to keep my frustration to myself. It's just seemed so unfair - how can this be? How am I continually losing and wicked, selfish people are allowed to prosper in their blatant disobedience? How are these people continually allowed to take the blessings that were meant to be rightfully mine, and keep them for themselves without any consequences whatsoever?

My frustration was hitting nuclear levels until God finally gave me the word - The Mocking Spirit. I realized through prayer and intercession that a mocking spirit's purpose is to distort the concept of sowing and reaping so that it appears that sowing good seed reaps nothing but a bad harvest, and that sowing bad seed will reap a good harvest. The mocking spirit will literally stand and taunt, tease and insult those who follow in God's footsteps with unconditional obedience as I have - the "man" in the Godless relationship I mentioned earlier saw fit to mock me in person about the fact that he was getting married to this woman whom God told him through me not to marry, when I was in the bridal party at someone else's wedding. He was taunting and mocking me just to try and upset me as much as possible, laughing at the fact that he got what he wanted and could ignore God's warning seemingly without consequences.

The mocking spirit targets those who are obedient and do what God has called them to do

If you are prepared to sit on your laurels and never do anything for God, never trust Him enough to pursue radical obedience, and never truly take up your cross and follow Him regardless of the cost - the mocking spirit will leave you well alone, because why should it bother with you? You're not doing anything it doesn't like. If you are obedient and truly take up your cross and follow God regardless of the consequences as I have done - it will come after you. It will do and use anything it can to taunt, mock and ridicule you - especially if you've been called to speak the truth and draw a line in the sand about certain things, as I have. It will go out of its way to make sure that you don't see any fruit from your obedience - it will instead ensure that you will receive the opposite, all in the hope that you will give up and stop living radically, and stop following God and obeying him unconditionally.

It is a lying spirit

It lies - firstly to you by telling you that your work is fruitless, and it will bring circumstances into your life to make you believe that this is true. It will also lie to others around you to try and get them to believe things about you that aren't true - for existence with this couple I mentioned, many people in the town I used to live in think that by warning them against getting married I am just some selfish, bitter man who didn't get to be with this girl, so therefore I had to try and ruin it for the person who did get to be with her. 

They think I am just this awful, selfish, mean spirited person who's out to sabotage their relationship when in fact nothing could be further from the truth. I have the Jeremiah Calling as I have mentioned earlier on this blog which is about speaking hard, brutal truth to people that they don't want to hear, but desperately need to hear regardless. It is an unpopular calling and you end up being hated by those you've spoken the truth to - but someone has to do it, and God chose me to be one of these people. By warning them not to get married I was just doing what God called me to do and speaking out the truth that burned on my heart like a furnace. But because the mocking spirit is making sure these people get to keep persisting in their disobedience, no one has any reason to believe this about me and are allowed to keep on believing lies.

It's whole purpose is to discourage, confuse and frustrate you.

Some of the injustice and frustration I have seen in my life has been enough to nearly send me over the edge. In 2016 I foiled a robbery and was stabbed multiple times, and I now carry scars I must bear for the rest of my life. The youths were arrested, jailed briefly and sent to court - and despite committing such a serious crime, the youths were acquitted without so much as even a criminal record against their name - because their bleating families who lived in Australia "wanted them to be able to come and visit them without any problems". Once again, the spirit of mockery prevails and they got what they wanted and I was denied any justice whatsoever for putting my life on the line. Not to mention they can go and tell their friends that you can literally stab someone with a knife and get away with it without so much as a criminal record.

This was like a hammer blow to my spirit and greatly affected my temperament for years on end. I fought this as fiercely as I could by speaking to a senior member of Parliament, contacting the Ministry of Justice, speaking of course directly to the judge himself and even trying to get on a nationwide talk show to discuss my experience - they were very interested in talking to me, until they heard that I was a Christian, then they curiously lost interest. I literally couldn't believe what I was seeing. This was a gross miscarriage of justice aimed squarely against me, and nobody cared. Once again, the mocking spirit wins. This was all a specific assignment of harassment set up to hurt me as much as possible.

The first key to dealing with it is identification.

If you are reading this and can relate to what I've been saying - you are not crazy and it's not just life being mean and unfair. You need to see this for what it is - a deliberate assignment against you of targeted harassment designed to upset you, steal from you, frustrate you and confuse you. Once this has been identified you need to pray and ask God if there is anything that gives the mocking spirit legal rights to remain in your life - if there is any unconfessed sin be it either intentional, unintentional or generational. 

It could be that back in your generational lines someone has sinned in a specific way that has allowed the mocking spirit to take over and distort the biblical concept of sowing and reaping in your life. You will need to seek God for yourself about this. It could also be that it is not connected to you personally in any way, but that it has a presence in the life of someone around you and it has decided to target you through that person. If this is the case, then you need to pray for them and pray specifically against the mocking spirit in their life and pray that it is no longer allowed to continue to operate in their life.

In my case I believe the mocking spirit has had legal rights to be over my life due to generational sin that was passed down to me. I firmly believe that had I not identified and corrected this through prayer - nothing would have ever changed for me. I would just keep going round and round in circles in the same wilderness I'd always been in, continually sowing good seed and watching the good seed be robbed from me and given to someone who doesn't deserve it. Nothing would have ever changed for me without identifying this spirit's work in my life. This spirit - like all evil spirits - does not want to be identified. It does its work in darkness and confusion. It doesn't want you to know that it is there, doing its job. It wants you to blame external factors so that it may remain hidden and continually able to do its work undisturbed.

The second key to dealing with it is to replace lies with truth.

Galatians 6:7 says very clearly: "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows." So how does this scripture apply in these situations when it appears the mocking spirit is making sure good people reap poor harvests, and vice versa? You must realize that it is simply a deception. This spirit cannot go against the Word of God. It can persist in distorting the reality of sowing and reaping for a time - especially if it has legal rights to be present in someone's life - however this time simply cannot last forever. The time will always come when God will say "enough" and will bring about the true sowing and reaping promised in His word. Sometimes this may not happen for years, and the person who has seen the constant injustice may never see retribution this side of eternity. But it will happen. 

The mocking spirit tries to tell you that Satan has won, that you've lost, and that's the end of it. But it's NOT the end. God is telling you that He has won the victory, and that though these evil things may persist for a time, the end to these things will come because He says so in His Word. And to those who smugly continue in disobedience while the mocking spirit feeds them whatever they want - once the mocking spirit is done using them to torment the people it is targeting, it will discard them and send them into utter chaos and ruin. Once again, this may take years. But it will happen. Despite what the mocking spirit will tell you - God is still on the throne and He will not give His kingdom to another. 

This blog may come across as exceedingly bitter and frustrated. I have forgiven those who have wronged me and whom the mocking spirit has used to keep me in poverty, injustice and frustration, because I am at long last able to see clearly what has been truly going on. However I was exceedingly angry and bitter about all of this for many many years because I simply didn't understand or realize what was going on, even though I knew in the core of my being something was terribly wrong over my life. I have expressed my past bitterness honestly and accurately in this blog to showcase just how real this spirit's work over my life has been and just how deeply harmful it has been towards me and towards others. Now that it has finally been identified and prayed against I am fully believing for and expecting breakthrough and significant circumstantial change for me.

I hope this has encouraged some of you out there. If you can relate to what I am saying, please be aware that you are not alone. There is hope for you. You may not see it at this point in time, but it is there. God will come through for you. Justice will be done in your life. Your sowing is not in vain. Even if you are reaping a poor harvest on Earth - God is aware of your struggles and your sacrifices, and you will reap a grant harvest in eternity - where it really counts.

Take care.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Leaning on God

 This is something you often hear spoken about in Christian circles. But what does it really mean to "lean on God" and what does it look like when we do this?

I want to share a testimony of something I went through recently when I was challenged in this area. I had just experienced an extremely busy week at work, and a very full on weekend to top it off. By the time I started work again on Monday morning last week I was very tired from the week before. I got about halfway through the day when I all of a sudden realized that I could not find my prescription reading glasses.

I retraced my steps and went back to every site I visited throughout the morning at work, and there was no sign of my glasses anywhere. I asked at the front desk in every department I visited if anyone had handed in a pair of prescription reading glasses, and everyone said no. I work in the IT Department at a local hospital and my job means that I am often on the move to different departments during the day, so there were many places I needed to check. I looked around on the ground to see if they had fallen out of my pocket, and I couldn't see them anywhere.

I was very distressed about this as prescription glasses are expensive, and it is a hassle to get new ones as you need to get another eye test done by an optometrist, then order the new lenses and frames. It can take at least a week for them to arrive and that means a week without any glasses, which for me will often mean headaches and sometimes even migraines. I was praying in a desperate and frustrated manner and begging God to show me where they were, but He was silent. I eventually had to give up the search for the day and come home. I was extremely upset about all of this as I have always looked after my prescription glasses very well and therefore I was mortified that this had happened.

My wife strongly got the word back from God that He wanted me to lean on Him during this time of uncertainty. Despite only having a few hours sleep that night I still had a lot of energy when I woke up in the morning and knew that I had to go in to work that day. I continued the search while running my usual errands at work, but with less enthusiasm, and I began to wonder if perhaps they were gone and that I just needed to learn to let them go. While I was on my lunch break, instead of praying my usual frustrated prayers I decided to change how I prayed and said to God "you know where they are. If you want them to come back to me, you can show me where they are or you can show them to someone who will bring them to me. I trust you." 

Once I said this the words from a Bethel song came through my mind - "So let go, my soul, and trust in Him, the waves and winds still know His name". I thought that while I was on my lunch break, I should retrace my steps from my lunchbreak the day before, as I have found a little walking track next to my work that I often do on my lunchbreak to get a bit of fresh air and exercise. As I was walking on the footpath just down from my workplace I felt an urgency in my spirit saying "LOOK DOWN AT YOUR FEET RIGHT NOW!" I looked down at my feet and sitting there on the grass verge were my glasses, completely unharmed, with a few drops of rain on them as they had been sitting in that same spot for the last 24 hours, patiently waiting for me to find them. I cried tears of relief.

The funny thing is, I had retraced my steps down that same stretch where I walked on my lunchbreak several times before that but I just didn't see them. It was only once I had really learned to lean on God that I found them. Even more incredible was that they sat there on the grass verge of a busy stretch of road for nearly 24 hours before I found them - they could easily have been stood on and broken, or someone could have picked them up and taken them with them, but they were completely unharmed. Everyone at work whom I told about this was amazed.

I learned to lean on God and was able for the first time to say that I trusted Him with the outcome of this distressing situation - and I was able to 100% mean what I said. I do not believe I would have been able to do this even a year or two ago, but throughout this year I have been working really hard on healing myself of internal stress. I've also been really learning to forgive those who have wronged me in my life, which has been a first for me. The results of the hard work I have been putting in to bettering myself have finally started to show up. I have realized that this is not a one off thing - I need to continually apply this lesson of "leaning on God" in my daily life to avoid stress and help maintain a mindset of peace.

My challenge to you is this - is God asking you to learn to lean on Him? If so, learn to allow yourself to do this. You will learn that He really is in charge and that you can trust Him with everything.

Take care.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Being an Outsider

We live in a world where social acceptance is desired and strived for, quite often at the expense of moral truth and law. So what does it mean to be a Christian in a world where everyone wants to be liked and accepted?

The more I think about it, the more I have realized that Jesus was an outsider. Yes he was very popular during some stages of His ministry but there were also a lot of people who He offended and rubbed the wrong way because to Him, truth was more important than popularity. He stuck to what He knew was right, especially regarding Himself and His calling on earth, even when it cost Him everything. Towards the very end of His ministry on earth as He was dying on the cross he had only a small handful of people with Him as nearly everyone had deserted Him. This was a man who once had thousands of people hanging on His every word and was now in a position where He was almost completely alone due to His commitment to the truth and what His calling was.

This has been a very challenging aspect of Christianity for me to grasp. When I was younger, due to my internal issues I was struggling with I really wanted to be liked and accepted above all things. I learned to let everything slide that offended me in the name of keeping the peace because I didn't want to stir the pot. This was an easier and safer way to live. It was too overwhelming for me to feel like I had offended someone else or done something wrong so the only way that seemed right to live was to be on-side with everybody, all the time.

However, this way of thinking was not to last. After I got very sick with burnout about 7 years ago God began challenging me on speaking the truth to other people. He began putting me in situations where unjust things were happening and people were ignoring the truth because it suited them, and then challenging me to speak the truth about what was happening as it simply needed to be said. The words He clearly used towards me were "Get over yourself!" which meant - just speak out and do what you are meant to do, and stop worrying about whether people like you for it or not.

Needless to say this has not made me a very popular person over the years. I have been called into many situations that I was hoping would work out and last only to realize that I had just been called there for a temporary season to confront issues that were happening in that environment, speak the truth about them, and then leave. I recently had a job on a fixed term contract that seemed ideal until I began to realize what was happening between the team members in the environment I was working in. Several people had started their own little clique and would regularly bully, manipulate and gossip about other members of the team, and if anyone dared complain to management about their behavior they would gang up on that person and go out of their way to reject and exclude them for daring to disrupt the terrible way they treated others.

The ringleader of this little club decided one day that they were in charge of me and that I had to answer to them to the point where their behavior became intrusive and disrespecting of my boundaries. They would regularly check up on me and ask what I was working on, when I was starting and finishing and would even go on my computer while I was away from it to see what websites I had been viewing. This person told me once that when they had a disagreement with their partner it would last for days and wouldn't end until their partner said that they were wrong and this person was right, so it was obvious they had major control and pride related issues. This person was very vain, bossy and used to getting their own way, and enjoyed feeling popular and "in charge" in this work environment, and their friends enjoyed gossiping about others they worked with and would do it on a regular basis. The last straw came when this person humiliated me by telling me off in front of all of my colleagues because they weren't happy with the time I was finishing work on that particular day. I found out shortly after that this person had no authority whatsoever to be doing what they were doing, so I complained to management who very quickly told them to stop their behavior. Their response was to hate me for daring to stand up to them and they quickly rallied their friends around them to exclude me and make it seem like the whole situation was my fault.

These people were excellent at deceiving others and making them think that they were all sweetness and light when the total opposite was true, and due to the people they surrounded themselves with no one would do anything about their behavior - people would just make excuses for it or flat out deny that it was even happening. This little group of bullies expected to just keep on getting away with it until I realized that God had called me into that situation to stand against them and be a voice of reason and truth. I had a word burning on my heart for the ringleader of this little club who treated me so badly warning them specifically about their bullying and unrepentant behavior, need for control and the terrible company they surrounded themselves with. I felt to warn them that unless significant change happened in their life that they were going down a very dark path which would end in regret. I especially felt to warn them that if they continued treating their partner in the same way that they treated me that their marriage would eventually disintegrate and that even if it lasted their partner would resent and not respect them.

Having to do this was a huge act of sacrifice for me as this was a work environment I had hoped would last a long time so it was heartbreaking and frustrating to have to not only leave the environment but have to directly confront the perpetrators that were causing so much harm in this environment which lead to me leaving on worse terms than I wanted to. But I realized that the alternative was worse - I couldn't live with myself if I just sat back and said nothing about what was happening as the word would just continue to sit inside of me and eat me alive until I decided to forget about the consequences to myself and my reputation, and be obedient to what God was telling me to do. I realize that in many of these situations some of the issues could be perceived as being "none of my business" but as far as I am concerned, my business is being obedient to God and if I know God is calling me to give a word of warning to someone then it becomes my business to do that.

I have been called into situations like this a lot over the years  - such as ministry environments lead by people who were just thinking about their own selfish gain, living environments with landlords with serious boundary issues and problems with greed, pride and unteachability, and workplace environments like the one I just mentioned. Being called into situations to be a voice of truth has not become any easier over the years but I know that the alternative of being disobedient by not speaking out when I am meant to will make things worse for me in the long run. It will mean that I am living without internal peace until I get over myself and my desire to be liked, and place obedience to God before my own need for acceptance and desire not to ruffle the feathers of others.

I have realized that God needs people to do this and calls people specifically for this task. It might seem like people continually get away with the sin they are committing and I believe that this often happens because no one has directly warned them about what will happen to them if they don't stop. I believe God often doesn't allow bad consequences to come upon those who are persisting in regular sin that hurts both themselves and others until that person has been specifically warned so that they can never say to God "well I never knew this was going to happen as nobody warned me". I have found on many occasions that nothing changes in the circumstances of people who are acting like these bullies have acted until I have spoken a truthful warning to them as it gives God room to move, as He will be able to tell them someday - "Graham warned you, and you ignored the warning, so harm came upon you". I've often felt specifically that I "bring out the worst in people" and I've realized that this often happens because the strong demonic forces in others manifest around me - such as the way that they manifested with the person I worked with. This happens because God wants me to see what is truly going on with them so that I can speak the truth about what they are really like, so that they have the chance to change. Needless to say this is a very stressful way to live and a very difficult calling to have on your life.

The main thing that has kept me going and helped me to be somewhat ok with living as a voice for truth in a world that loves lies is the realization that this life is temporary and that I'm living for something greater. I have realized as I have gotten older that life is short and what really matters is doing what God specifically calls you to do because at the end of the day nothing else here is truly going to last. Accumulating a whole lot of wealth might make living here a bit easier but at the end of the day we are all going to pass away one day anyway, and once that happens all of that wealth just gets handed over to somebody else, so it is better to "store up treasure in heaven where thieves do not break in and steal, and moths and rust do not destroy" (Matthew 6:19-21). 

You never know when your last day will be - I knew a lady who was extremely ambitious and full of life - so much so that taking one look at what she was up to made you really think she was living life to the fullest and was going to be around forever. She had her own performing arts group, was on television commercials and regularly traveled the world. All of a sudden she fell off a horse and died due to internal injuries at just 34 years old, so you never know when your time is up. When you choose to look at life on earth as a temporary place you are just passing through and that your real goal is to store up treasure in heaven through obedience, it makes life that much easier to deal with when you encounter hard times, especially when you know that it could end at any moment and you will go on to eternity which will last forever.

I know that there are a lot of people who don't like me because of the calling on my life. I know that the little club in my old workplace despise me and if I see any of them on the street I see them looking straight at me while smiling wickedly and gossiping with their friends about me, but I can safely say I don't care as I know I've done the right thing. I know there are others throughout the years that still harbour resentment against me for standing up to them and speaking the truth, but my conscience is clear so I sleep easy at night. I have achieved the total opposite of wanting people to like me and have replaced it with something far more important - I have achieved God's approval for being obedient and doing what He has called me to do regardless of the cost.

Is God calling you to be an outsider? You need to ask yourself - which is more important, going with the flow and not "rocking the boat" so to speak, or doing the right thing and speaking up against things which you know are wrong, regardless of the cost?

Take care.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Spiritual Realities - Dealing with Curses

This is going to be a very honest blog post about something I've been going through for almost my entire life, and have only just started to find answers for.

Have you ever struggled with what seems like an invisible force over your life, controlling the outcome of situations and influencing your circumstances and even the interactions of others towards you? Have you ever felt so frustrated with this that you've tried with all of your strength to change your circumstances, only for all of your efforts to be in vain?

I know this feeling all too well as this has been a huge part of my life. Starting from when I was very young, I have always felt like a loser. There was nothing I hated more than losing at absolutely anything - be this a computer game, an argument with someone, literally anything. When I was a child and I would play sports at school, if I was ever on the losing team (which was most of the time) I would burst into tears. The biggest cry of my heart would be the words "It's not fair". It wasn't really so much losing the game that I was playing - it was that I felt there was something behind the scenes, subtly affecting my every move, subtly affecting the circumstances to ensure that I was on the losing side, every time. I could sense that something was happening but I couldn't define it and therefore I couldn't stop it, so every team game I played I would immediately be at a disadvantage - and so would the team that I was on. Other children would tease me about this mercilessly but I couldn't help the overwhelming emotion that I felt - it was so strong and told me so clearly that something was not right and was working against me, and this would turn into immense frustration which would result in anger and tears.

This sensation of something working against me did not stop with time - if anything, it got worse. When I began to play competitive football against other schools, most of the time I would end up in the worst team in the league and we would get thrashed at games, sometimes with scores up to 12-0. As a child with the sensation that something was following me and creating this yet I couldn't do anything about it, this was devastating. Sometimes it just seemed as if nothing I did would ever be right - a goalkeeper on the other team could be having a terrible game, but if ever I took a shot against him, he would miraculously be able to save it every time. The frustration became overwhelming and turned into bitterness and anger which began to result in violence - many times on the football pitch I would take my frustrations out on the other team which would mean kicking the other players, and I would also become violent towards myself at times too such as hitting myself out of the overwhelming frustration.

This sensation did not just stick with the sports field - it began to interfere with every aspect of my life. When I sat my exams when I was a teenager I needed 50% to pass one of them and ended up with 48% - when I requested a recount on my marks they marked me up to 49% - agonizingly close but just not good enough. When I was on the debating team at school I would somehow manage to say the wrong thing every time and all of my answers would get picked to pieces by the opposing team. If I was joining in with several others being disruptive in a classroom I would be the only one called up for it and getting in trouble while everyone else escaped punishment - something which once again made me feel "this isn't fair". There were times when I would be able to win and come first at things but those times did not happen often and when they did, it did not come easily - it felt like it took a herculean amount of effort on my part to achieve any sort of victory.

Over time this sensation of constantly failing and not being quite good enough - just falling short of the mark - began to seriously deteriorate my self esteem and self belief. I began to think like a loser - sometimes I would even say to myself over and over again "I'm a loser!" and I began to develop a negative, bitter and defeatist mentality in life that would literally say "there's no point in even trying because I'm just going to lose anyway" and if I ever did try something, I would end up losing just like I thought I would, which would just further reinforce what I already saw as absolute truth. This defeatist mentality began to lead to severe bullying even in my teenage years as I didn't see any point in fighting back because I felt I wasn't ever allowed to win a fight - verbally or physically - which lead to severe depression as time went on and turned me into a very timid, fragile and oversensitive person who could not express their extreme anger and frustration.

Even since dedicating my life to God this issue has not gone away and I have seen quite frankly ridiculous injustices over the years - such as being stabbed when I foiled a robbery and the judge letting the offenders go with absolutely nothing - which made me say to myself "I bet that happened just because this was me - if it had been someone else they'd have been punished properly." This issue has caused me issues in the workplace in my adult life as I have struggled to stand up for myself against unacceptable behavior from colleagues because everything inside me has said I would just make things worse if I fought back. I struggled a lot when it would come to dealing with unpleasant and rude customers, especially if I had to tell them something they didn't want to hear as they would just start arguing with me and because I had learned to just expect defeat I would just fold under their pressure, which created frustration for me and colleagues.

The other day, everything came to a head when I was doing some online gaming and I was on the losing team every time for about 10 games in a row and something in me finally snapped and I just said "I've had enough of this. God - something is seriously wrong here. Please tell me what it is because I desperately need breakthrough. This issue has dogged me my entire life and I can't take it anymore. Please help." 

Almost immediately these words came into my mind very strongly - "Satan is a defeated foe."

I will share a bit about what I have recently been learning about spiritual forces here, and about my own background. I have learned that getting deliverance through prayer from spiritual forces is only a part of the journey to healing and freedom. The other part of the journey is confronting and exposing the wrong thinking and curses that often comes along with these spiritual forces. Sometimes one event can lead to a host of spiritual forces taking control of a person's mind and each one needs to be dealt with individually, along with the wrong thinking that comes with it.

I have learned that in my family history before my time that there was some form of Satanism which went back generations and had been passed on to me. This Satanism had given evil spirits unlimited access to my inner being as they had legal rights to be there due to generational sin. One thing that has become apparent to me in my study of the Bible over the years is that Satan and his purposes were defeated at the crucifixion of Jesus on the cross. His fate has been sealed and his time of destruction will come. I believe that he knows this and is miserable beyond words about this fact - so his whole purpose is to take as many people with him as he can to destruction to share in his misery because as the old saying goes - "Misery loves company."

Because Satan is an eternally defeated foe who is fighting a battle against God he can never win, and because generational sin had given legal rights for Satanic spiritual forces to take over in my life, I realized that I was under the curse of being a defeated foe myself. Once I realized this, I prayed against it and began to declare victory over myself saying things like "I am an overcomer" and "I am not defeated, I am victorious and amazingly strong to have survived this long under this curse". I began to see change almost immediately. Slowly but surely I have begun to see self belief grow where self doubt, negativity and defeatism always used to be. I am beginning to feel a little more confident when it comes to dealing with customers at my work, because now that the curse has been brought to the light and broken, I am slowly beginning to realize that I can win and stand my ground and that my opinion deserves to be respected - and that sometimes other people have to back down to me.

The reason I am sharing all of this so openly is because I believe that there is great power in sharing stories such as mine because all too often this kind of thing is not talked about in daily life - not even in the church. I am grateful I have the Holy Spirit and have learned to understand spiritual forces and the way that they work because whether we like it or not, we are all living in a spiritual universe and spiritual forces are around us and influencing our daily lives. If we deny this and say that these forces do not exist because you can't see them, it's the same as denying the wind - it is there, it does influence your life and you can definitely feel it, so it is certainly real even if we can't see it and to deny the wind is real would be unwise as all of the evidence proves otherwise.

If I had not learned about this curse that was haunting my every footstep and had breakthrough from it I would have spent the rest of my life trying to find answers as to what was causing this and getting nowhere - which would have led to an ever decreasing state of mental well being for me over the years. No psychologist or therapist could have told me that this was what was happening to me and causing all of these problems, and I certainly could not have found the answer in medication of any sort - be that prescription medication or more unhealthy forms such as addictive behavior. Satan is legalistic and he loves to hide in the dark and unknown parts of our minds and hearts, where him and his forces can operate unseen without people even realizing. If I had never had this revelation he would have continued to work against me in my life and caused me even more continued misery, bitterness and frustration over the years. Once I brought these things into the light and confessed them, they lost their power over me and I began to walk in the freedom I have always deserved.

My question to you is this - have you ever felt like I did in some form? It might not look the same as it did for me, but have you ever felt that there are things in your life that are greatly holding you back but you just cannot define what they are, and therefore cannot break free of them? I would encourage you to seek out answers with God and seek to learn about the spiritual reality that we all live in. You may find the answers you have been looking for in there, and find the freedom you've longed for.

Take care.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

The power of belief

One of the most important ingredients to being able to live a healthy life is what you believe in. So much of our lives are based on what we believe in, as our beliefs shape our choices and our choices shape our character and the lives that we lead.

Throughout my life I have struggled with a lack of confidence. It has been difficult for me to believe in nearly anything, including myself. Sometimes there have been things laid right out in front of me that were clearly true yet I have written them off in my own mind as being lies. This belief system (or lack thereof) has contributed to a very negative, depressive and unhappy outlook on life and a very passive mentality which would often come across as being weak.

Recently in my prayer and meditating times the Holy Spirit revealed to me that I have struggled with a deeply rooted mentality of unbelief. This mentality has said to me that God isn't real (even though I know He is - I've still had this lie buried deep in my subconscious mind), that the spiritual realm isn't real, that everything that came into my life and proved itself to be fact was in fact just an elaborate deception to try to get me to fall for it so that I could be harmed as a result. This mentality has told me to believe in nothing because nothing was real, nothing was dependable and nothing was as it appeared to be. Most of all it told me that I couldn't believe in myself and my own perceptions of the world because the moment I believed in something, it would undoubtedly be proved wrong.

I had a vision of myself and another person standing on a flat piece of land. The person next to me began walking around on the land, running and even jumping. They knew that they could do this as they had the belief that the ground would support their weight and were so certain of this belief that they were willing to put it into practice - and their belief was justified because what they were believing was indeed true. This other person said to me "Come on Graham, aren't you going to run around and explore with me?" To which I replied - "No, because I don't believe the ground is going to hold me up. I believe that the moment I set foot outside of this spot, the earth will collapse under me and I will fall". The other person then replied "But look at me - I'm running around on the same area and nothing is happening to me - therefore it's safe for you too!" But I still could not be convinced and therefore refused to move - therefore robbing myself of the ability to move forwards and ensuring I remained stuck and stagnant in the same spot in life.

I realized when I had this vision just how powerful this mentality of unbelief really was in my life. I also realized that simply "going and doing the thing I didn't believe I could do" wasn't going to change anything as if I had followed that other person and gone running and jumping on the ground without changing my thinking first I would be overwhelmed with stress and anxiety. The change needed to come from within first - then and only then could I change my actions.

I began to realize how much of life I had been robbed of and the amount of times I had let gross injustice happen without standing up to do something about it because I simply didn't believe that I could. I have always had a strong desire for revenge that I had never been able to understand until I had this revelation as I realized that this mentality of unbelief told me that people would not be held accountable for their sins and that God would not bring about justice and restoration and consequences for the sins of others - because God didn't exist and neither did the spiritual realm.

I have realized that unbelief is an enormous tool of the kingdom of darkness as it tries to convince people that it does not exist and that there is no such thing as a spiritual realm - all so that people will not believe and fall into sin and harm without even realizing it. It is also a good way of holding Christians prisoner and keeping them from becoming effective - not to mention happy in life - because if they don't believe they can do anything or bring about any sort of change, then they are not even going to bother trying and won't end up doing the things that they are called to do.

Confessing this unbelieving mentality has already begun to make change in my life. The constant sense of uncertainty and self doubt is beginning to be replaced by a sense of confidence, courage and boldness which comes from learning to believe in the right things - including myself. I will keep working at this as I refuse to be held captive by a prison of unbelief any longer. I refuse to remain rooted to one spot, unable to move on because of fear - and I refuse to doubt every single thing that comes into my life. I want to start really believing in what is true and living my life accordingly - to learn to move on from that one safe spot and believe that I can walk forwards in freedom and that the ground underneath me will be able to support me.

I am reminded of the movie The Matrix - where the character Neo is believed to be the One who can stand up to the agents and save humankind, and can manipulate the Matrix as he wishes. At the beginning of the movie he tries to jump between two buildings and fails miserably. Yet by the end of the movie he is able to stand and fight against the Agents that had caused the human race to run in fear - plus he is able to manipulate the Matrix in any way that he desires - such as by flying. He was always able to do these things from the beginning - it was only his unbelief that stopped him. Once he began to believe the truth about himself - that he was the One - he was able to throw off his limitations and walk in the truth of who he really was.

Obviously wisdom is still called for when it comes to changing your thinking to a mentality of believing - there's no point in going and jumping off a building because you believe that you are going to be able to fly, and that therefore just because you believe it, you will be safe - as we don't live in the Matrix and gravity would tend to disagree with you if you think that you can fly. So there is still a balance that is required. But if obvious truth about something is staring you in the face and the only thing that is holding you back from believing it is your own doubt and self belief - you will need to change your thinking in order to be able to bring about change in your circumstances.

My challenge to you is this - does any of what I have said today resonate with you? Do you struggle with unbelief and doubt? Do you look at every thing that happens with suspicion and need a long list of facts about something before you can be convinced that it is true? Do you remain stuck in the same spot because you are afraid of moving on? Perhaps you struggle with unbelief like I have. I would encourage you to be honest about it. Tell others about your struggles and if they don't get it, find someone who does. Bring the dark places in your heart to the light by talking about them as this is what breaks their power and their hold over you. Don't allow unbelief to rob you any longer of what is rightfully yours.

Take care.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Progress or stagnancy

This is a topic very dear to my heart, due to the journey through life I have faced up till this point.

I believe that one of the most important words that defines Christianity is the word "progress". 2 Corinthians 4:16 states
 "though outwardly we are wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed day by day." But what defines a person who is in the process of being "renewed?"

One of the most powerful stories I heard as a new believer was from a young man who lived in Wellington, the city I spent most of my teenage years in. I can't remember that much about his testimony other than the fact that when he got saved, he had dropped out of school and was working for a greengrocer, stacking produce each day. He had been doing this job for some time - but once he got saved, things changed. He said that God led him to many other different jobs and cities around New Zealand, and throughout all of his experiences in these different places he got the courage to share his story. What struck me the most about his story was that the way he worded it seemed to say that he had no hope or ambitions for anything other than stacking fruit and vegetables in a grocer's shop - until the Holy Spirit got hold of him and challenged him to move on.

The book of Exodus in the Bible talks about the plight of God's chosen people - the Israelites. Suffering in slavery, they cried out for deliverance and breakthrough. God eventually answered them. But He did not answer them through making things better for them where they were. His answer was to lead them out of the place of slavery - and into the wilderness, where they had to learn to rely on God and God alone for their sustenance. Gone were the days of being planted in one location, and gone was the safety that they had experienced in the sense that although they were enslaved, they knew that they would always have enough to eat and a roof over their heads. Now they were lead into a constantly changing environment, where every location was temporary and nothing could be depended on other than God, who said that he
 "...led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands." (Deuteronomy 8:2). It was hard, and it forced them to face the truth about themselves, it got them out of their comfort zone, and challenged them. But it was necessary for their growth and was the proving ground that they had to walk through before entering into the promised land.

One thing that I have witnessed over the years which has frustrated me deeply is the amount of stagnancy in Christianity in the world today - especially in the Western world. There are so many people out there who call themselves "Christians" yet simply do not want to change and move forwards. I've experienced many people like this over my time and have even lived with the odd one on occasion. They find a bubble of comfort zone, where they don't have to be challenged about anything and receive constant enabling from those around them which gives them even less reason to change. When questioned or challenged by anything - or if something happens that threatens their little bubble of security - they react defensively and even aggressively, wishing to remain in an unteachable state, not wanting to hear the truth, wanting to remain in a place of complete ignorance so that they can hide from the truth about themselves and dream of a better future without doing the necessary character development and "soul work" to turn it from dream to reality.

The reality of this kind of living is that it is governed by fear and cowardice. It goes nowhere. Satan wants nothing more than to see God's people remain mediocre and ineffective, while watered down "truth" is given to them to help them feel good about being where they are instead of challenging them to move forwards and grow. I believe wholeheartedly that the Holy Spirit is deeply frustrated by all of these things. He calls His people to be overcomers and part of that means overcoming themselves. Living in a bubble of comfort zone, reacting in a hostile manner when challenged to get out of it and being constantly mollycoddled and enabled by those around them is not being an overcomer. No one who lives like this will ever see their dreams fulfilled. Chances are, they will also miss out on God's best for them because they do not have the character needed to be able to fulfill the destiny and the calling that God has for them, because during the time that they should be developing said character, they are simply sitting around making excuses and expecting everyone else to pander to them and "accept them the way that they are."

The reason this frustrates me so much is because I used to be exactly this person before I went to bible college for the first time. I was so full of fear that I didn't want to face or even know how to face, so I just stayed stagnant, living with my parents at home, not really wanting to move out, wanting all of my creature comforts around me at all times to help me feel better about where I was. When I left to go to bible college, I was a fragile mess for a long time. I constantly wanted to go home - even though it wasn't where I really wanted to be, it was easier than where I was. However as time went on I began to realize that it was really me who needed to do the changing. I began to turn my focus from building a little impenetrable safe bubble around me where I could live without ever being challenged on anything - to realizing that a better life resulted from a changed heart, so I set about changing myself. I began taking up the challenge of following God through the different locations He had assigned for me to go to and the lessons He had for me to learn at each one.

This journey lead me to different living environments and jobs all over the country, and even overseas at one point where I was called to live in California for 3 months. The hardest part was when I fell very ill in 2011 - this move required me to move back home with my parents for a time and begin the process of speaking the truth to some people I had once been close with, while focusing constantly on rebuilding myself and my own heart by clearing out the wrong thinking and replacing it with the truth. This was where I really began to embrace 2 Corinthians 4:16 and I began to really see the effects - by working on my soul and focusing on healing myself, I felt my soul becoming more and more renewed - which translated to better physical health and better relationships with others.

As time went on, however, this journey got easier and easier. I am now planted in a good city with a great job and I am happily married with a lovely living environment. I am in the healthiest place emotionally and spiritually that I have ever been and I become more and more healthy by the day. I also have a lot of wisdom to share about the journey that I have been on and I know that there will be many more adventures and challenges to come over the years. But I no longer face these with fear - I am excited as to where they might take me.

I believe the kind of freedom and wholeness that I am coming into is available to everyone. I believe it is what the Holy Spirit wants for everyone. But to those who are insistent on remaining unteachable and do not want to leave their comfort zones - mollycoddling and pandering to them and their "needs" is not going to work. I believe people like this need  - through much prayer and intercession of course - to be put in a position where they simply have no choice other than to make a change, to grow up, get over themselves and learn to take responsibility for becoming who God has created them to be. This is what had to happen to me. I had to leave behind a secure living environment with my parents and move hundreds of kilometers away to a bible college campus I had never even seen before with people I didn't know. It was hard. But I simply had no choice but to sink or swim. I'm not saying that moving forwards means to be constantly changing location, as that can also be a form of escapism and therefore destructive. I am saying that moving forwards involves being challenged by the Holy Spirit and to accept that challenge.

Throughout my recovery from having a nervous breakdown, God has been equally harsh with me on other things. He challenged me to speak the truth to someone and this challenge had me quaking in my boots. God saw my fear, and simply said to me - "Do you want to get better, or don't you?" I realized I had no choice other than to feel the fear and do it anyway. Once I did this and spoke the truth to this person I saw a definite change in myself and a definite sense of release of tension and improvement in my mental health. 

This is not optional. God cannot win the world to Himself through a cowardly, mollycoddled church, where all of their "needs" are waited on hand and foot and watered down truth is delivered to them to make them feel good about themselves, yet not give them any real motivation to change. He cannot use people who refuse to be taught the truth and just want to stay in their comfort zone forever, wasting away both internally and externally. God does not need leaders who will pander to people like this and not challenge them to better themselves. God needs a church of people who will deliver the truth in love and a church who will receive correction and instruction in love and will see it as a benefit to them rather than a hindrance. God needs a church who will follow Him even when it scares them and a church who can stand their ground and endure when the going gets tough. The Holy Spirit wants us to be overcomers through His power. He wants us to be the best version of ourselves that we can be. He wants to test us and challenge us to make us stronger and more effective for His Kingdom.

In conclusion, I want you to ask yourself - where do I fit into this? Am I one of those unteachable people who calls themselves "Christian" but doesn't really want to let go of their sin, doesn't want to change and doesn't want to be challenged? Am I one of those leaders who neglects the speaking of truth out of a sense of wanting to be loyal to people and a fear of "ruffling any feathers"? Or am I on the right path, living by the Holy Spirit, obeying His commands and promptings, seeing and feeling the renewal of a changed heart through His healing touch and revelations?

Take care.