The River of God

Yesterday a friend and I went kayaking on the Little Miami River. It was the first time I had been kayaking and it was such an amazing experience, especially with the high water!

There are so many ways to see the character and nature of God on something like a kayaking trip. Here are 4 takeaways from the trip.

Soon after we began the trip there was a branch of the river that split off and then came back to the main part.

So once I got caught in the current the kayak and I got swept right into some brush and I fell into the river.

Now my sandals fell off as well and I saw one floating down the river. About two hundred yards later, both sandals were caught by a log! Even though I slipped, God still had my back (or feet in this case!)

First lesson: (Psalm 37:24)

“Though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.”

How amazing is it that both sandals ended up right in the same place?!

As the trip continued, my friend and I noticed a large tree whose roots were exposed by the river, but the root system was so deep and wide:

Second Lesson (Jeremiah 17:8)

“For he will be like a tree planted by the water, That extends its roots by a stream And will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought Nor cease to yield fruit.”

God wants us to be so rooted in our identity in Christ that when a challenge comes we can co-labor with Him for solutions and not be moved by circumstances.

I mentioned the river was high so the kayaking was pretty effortless outside of guiding the kayak. The current carried us down the river.

God desires for us to abide in Him.  In this case, the river represents God. My friend and I could have hurried through the trip, but then we would have missed out on enjoying the beauty.

Third Lesson (John 15:5)

“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

Lastly, there was a section where the wind turned on us and the water began choppy. We actually had to paddle through.  This reminds me of how we our co-laborers in Christ. We cannot just expect God to do everything, while at the same time we can’t do it on our own. We were invited to co-labor with God. What an honor!

Fourth Lesson (1 Corinthians 3:9)

For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.

Between the lessons and great conversation with my friend, kayaking was an amazing experience to learn about the goodness of God! Thank you Jesus!

 

The Dangers of Lukewarm Christianity Part 1

As I continue to renew the mind, I have pondered, “God, I wonder where I would be if I did not grow up in a lukewarm Christianity environment.”

I really do not think God cares much if a child is wearing a dress suit to church or shows up wearing a bathing suit with sandals. He is much more interested in their heart posture.

And God is not just interested in His will being done, but our will as well! All He asks is we surrender to His will and then our desires can become His desires.

This is illustrated in Exodus 32:7-14, God wants to show His wrath on His people for worshipping a false idol. Moses reminds God, how He said He would multiply the descendants of Abraham and not destroy.

Notice what Exodus 32:14 says, “So the Lord relented from the harm which He said He would do to His people.”

What does this show? God wants a relationship with us and the best relationships start with friendship! He wants to co-labor with us.

For example, earlier this year I felt a prompting from God that I would be moving from my parents house in the fall time. This was back in the winter though! A lot has changed since then! I claimed (and continue to) my identity in Christ! We are heirs of God, co-laborers with God, friends of God, etc! I began started to live a supernatural lifestyle on a new levels.

I explained to God that I do not feel staying with my parents is healthy for my continued growth or my relationship with my parents.

After explaining to God the situation, I could feel a shift going on me! He was listening to me. I wasn’t just a robot who obeyed every command of God and did not have a say.

Lukewarm Christianity has a tendency to put God in a box that limits Him.  I really feel it would be best for a person to have never known Christ and be saved at age 30 then be saved at an early age, but grow up in a legalistic background.

Why? Because the young kid has to “unlearn” to “learn”, while the new believer can just “learn.”

Let’s all do ourselves a favor and let God out of the box.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, thank you for being our friend. Thank you for not being someone that gives orders and expects us to obey like a robot. I thank you for your kindness and your humor that you have. And Father for anyone reading this with that desires to  free of legalism, in the name of Jesus, I break off legalistic and religious mindsets off of them right now. And in Jesus name, I loose a spirit of revelation of how creative you are and how creative you made us. Amen.

Claiming Your Inheiritance With God

Yesterday, I was meditating on God’s Word about us being a heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17).

And on a spirit and heart level, it hit home deep! I was curious to see what this meant.

The definition is, “someone who has been appointed to receive an inheritance.”

What?! How amazing is that?

God owns it all and it all belongs to us because we belong to Him.

So since God owns it all, why do humans have a tendency to want to work extra hard? The secret is to enter into a place of rest in God. It is resting with God, where we can find out the steps God wants us to take (Psalm 4:8). It is in rest where we can surrender to God.

For example, if a person is in $50,000 in debt, natural reasoning is to work overtime/ get a second job to pay it off.

The more I understand my position in Christ, my identity in Christ, and all the spiritual blessings we have in Christ, the more I realize that belief of getting the second job/working overtime to pay off the debt is the result of an unrenewed mind.

The second job/working overtime are options, but they are not the only way.

Using the $50,000 debt as an example, let’s try this as an approach:

“God, I am going to continue to be faithful at work where I am right now, but working extra hours means less time for me to spend alone with You, with family, serving Your Kingdom and enjoying life outside of work. I need balance in life.  

Father, as an heir with God and co-heir with Christ, in Jesus name, I claim an inheritance to pay off this debt so I can continue to partner with you in advancing the Kingdom of God. Thank you Holy Spirit for guiding me to make decisions to advance the Kingdom of God. Amen.”

Now start asking God what already belongs to you through His son Jesus!

Prayer: Father God, I thank you for all you are doing in each of our lives. I pray that each reader who reads this becomes so rooted in thier identity in Christ and can walk out this amazing life out with confidence. In Jesus name, I impart wisdom to each reader for any challenges they are facing and ask you to double that wisdom. Thank you Holy Spirit for always comforting us. I pray all this in Jesus name. Amen.

Finishing What You Start

Most of my life, I start things but never finish them.

Probably, the most prominent example of this in my life is my goal to qualify for the Boston Marathon, which means I need to run a marathon in under 3:05.

Back in 2013, I ran four marathons and got closer each time. Charleston Marathon 3:22. Toledo Marathon 3:09. Traverse City Marathon 3:09. And the oh so close Columbus Marathon in 3:07. Then my depression got the best of me and I stopped running.

What happened? Well, I got scared of accomplishing a goal of mine.

The good news is that God will NEVER give up on you. Even when you don’t feel like you can go any further the Holy Spirit will push you through.

Phillipians 1:6 states, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”.

There has been many times during my depression that I wanted to give up. But each time, God was pushing me along telling me that He had a plan for my life. I didn’t understand it, but I kept pushing forward.

Now I am excited to say that I will be starting an internship at my local church next year. It’s a place that has invested so much in me, and I now look forward to giving back.

God has a plan each for each and everyone of His children. I pray that you take that first step and ask God what to show you what it is. It might just change your eternal future.

Treating Your Body as a Temple of God

It’s been a while since the last blog post. So let me first take a moment to catch all of you where I am at in the my restoration phase.

I am currently seeing a endocrinologist in Akron, Ohio that specializes in treating depression and bipolar.  One of the most encouraging things he said was that the disease is not my fault, it is just an imbalance of chemicals.

So tomorrow I start a detox of my body and it got me thinking. Our bodies are a temple of God.

In fact, 1 Corinthians 3:16 states, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?

Our bodies are what allow God to do His work through us.  So it’s important that we eat and treat our bodies with the utmost care.

This is going to be a major lifestyle change for me. I’m use to going to McDonald’s and eating whatever I want. I now recognize that if I want to experience God in new ways, I have to make some adjustments to my lifestyle.

Here I Am Lord

This is the title my favorite Catholic song and it sums perfectly up how I feel.  If you want me to do Parking Ministry or speak to 45,000 plus, here I am Lord to do your will.  It’s just amazing when you surrender yourself over to the Lord the work that can be done to Him glory and honor.

That’s how I feel about this blog right now. I don’t blog my personal gain. Or to build my ego. The 164 followers of this blog aren’t mine, they belong to you O Lord.

That’s one of the reasons God used depression in my life  to break the ego Marc out.  There is absolutely nothing that I do apart from the Holy Spirit that dwells with in.

So here are the lyrics to the refrain of Here I Am Lord:

Here I am Lord
Is it I Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night
I will go Lord
If you lead me
I will hold your people in my heart.

I say send me Lord. I come to do your will.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank you for all the support over the past two years while I have been battling depression.  Thank You for keeping  me safe in the valley and hiding me from the rain.  Help me to continue to grow closer to you each day.  I pray that you send every reader a message about a heavenly plan for their lives.  No more going to work , just for the sake of earning a paycheck. Help them and guide them in finding their purpose. I pray this in  Jesus name.

God’s Plan For Brokenness

Yesterday I was sitting at service where Charles Stanley preaches in Atlanta.  Like before, he was looking directly at me while preaching.  This title of his message was “Getting in God’s Way”.  It was a powerful message of how sometimes with the best of intentions we get in the way of God doing an awesome work in someone.

For example, no parent wants to see their child suffer, but maybe there there is a purpose in the suffering. Maybe the suffering is bringing the child into God’s plan for their life. Maybe its the suffering and brokenness that God is after.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 says, “Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

You see, it is in the complete brokenness that God can use someone and become a vessel for God. It is ALWAYS done with love.

While Charles Stanley was preaching I was bursting into tears because this is the point of my recovery where God is breaking totally.

Then he looked directly at me said, “You know in my early preaching days I always wanted to fix everyone.  It was until later that I recognized that wasn’t my job.  God uses brokenness to bring people closer to Him and I don’t get in the way of that anymore.” What a powerful and moving moment that was for me. Not easy to hear, but the absolute truth!

Some of you have asked what is next for me. Well I don’t have the entire picture. In fact, I only have the next two days planned out.  Tomorrow I will be meeting with someone that works at In Touch Ministries. Wednesday, I will being going for one of my last sessions of therapy through EMDR, which is the process of letting go of the trauma in my past and breaking me.

Where I am Thursday only God knows!

Lord, I’m Ready Now

Wow, what a spiritual journey this has been to this point.  Filled with moments of great hope and moments of great despair. Today, is one of the last days of the healing phase of my recovery. Today, I let go of my earliest wound inside my body that haunts be to this day.  The fear of death.

I can remember exactly where I was where and when I found about death from when I was three years old.  What I didn’t know was the impact it would have on my life.  And yes there was some wheat and also weeds in the fear of death.

The weeds prevented me from living a life of joy.  Instead, I often felt like a little boy inside a grown man’s body. I felt powerless as a result.  I can also remember trying to control when death would happen. I can remember being 8 years old and saying things like, “I’m one tenth of the way through my life!”  I had developed and victim’s mentality.

The wheat of having the fear of death is that it kept me safe.  It kept me from accepting adult responsibilities at an earlier age.  You see if I didn’t have the fear of death, I may have accepted a “mediocre” life. You know go to work from 9-5, come home, have a little fun, go to bed and do it all over again. Sounds miserable! It also kept me safe from ultimately committing suicide last year.

You see I could never actually see myself committing suicide. Underneath the facade of life I had been living, I loved myself and others too much to let that happen. As I have worked through the other emotional scars in my life, I am finally ready to let go of that fear. I’m ready to reap the rewards of the spirit.

Galatians 5:22-23 states, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

Come have Your way. Lord, I’m ready now.

“Oh Lord I’m ready now
All the walls are down
Time is running out
And I wanna make this count
I ran away from you
And did what I wanted to
But I don’t wanna let you down
Oh Lord I’m ready now
Lord I’m ready now

Breaking a Heart of Stone

Today on my way back to Memphis, I saw an exit for Hidden River Cave in Kentucky. Curious, I decided to pull off to check the place out.

When I got there, I quickly realized God was using this experience as a metaphor for my life.  You see this wasn’t just any old river.  This was a river that was found deep within a cave.  As I descended the nearly 200 steep steps towards the entrance of the cave, my eyes were gazing at the exposed rock from a sinkhole back in the 1800s. It made me realize that this is how my heart was.

It was layered with such a deep layer of limestone rock that seemingly nothing could penetrate.  As I walked down the steps, I sound of a running river became louder and louder. As I reached the bottom and looked up, I was amazed that this river was still flowing despite on the years of limestone that was built above it. You see the source of water came from deep within.

How often in life do we live like this?  We know God wants to be good to us, but we continue harden our hearts when we here His voice. Why do we do that? Are we simply afraid of allowing such close intimate relationship with God into our lives? For me, the answer was yes.  The key is to invite the Holy Spirit to break through any stone that is remaining in my heart.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, how grateful we are that we are covered in Your love and grace.  Your love and grace can break through any limestone we have built around our hearts. Lord Jesus, send the power of the Holy Spirit to penetrate our heart  and fill us with a source of living water within us.  Have it not lay deep underground so that no one can see it.  Have it flow like the Mississippi River and bring healing to everyone who encounters you. Blow through the caverns of of souls to overflow. We pray this in Jesus name. Amen.

Check the video around 8:25 mark for the steps that lead down to Hidden River

My Guardian Angel-Rachael “Carli” Woodruff

Yesterday, was my first personal session of EMDR. EMDR is a technique that is used to help release trauma stored in the body.

Before I started my session with Beverly and Mary, they asked me to bring a list of traumas to work on.  I wrote down “Suicidal thoughts, money insecurities, fear of death, lack of inner power, fear of abandonment and control issues.  Guided by the Holy Spirit, I asked Beverly which one to start on.  She said to start with the suicidal thoughts and asked me when the first time I had a suicidal thought.

As I gazed back to my past, I can remember first time I had those thoughts was when my friend Rachael died in a car accident four years ago. I was angry towards God for taking her. I stopped going to church. I thought it was my fault she had died. If only I would have hung out with her the previous night, she wouldn’t have been in that situation. I had taken responsibility for her death.

Years later, on a rational level, I know it was not my fault. But on a emotional level, I had never grieved that lost.  I was too angry and bitter to do so.

An interesting thing happened in the session, Beverly guided me to believe that Rachael had never left me. That she actually needed to go home first to be a trailblazer for my path in life.  I burst into tears.  Rachael had never left me, she simply had to watch over me in a new form.

I have always view Rachael as a little sister as I helped to convince her to attend Kent State with me. Well now the roles are reversed she is my big sister watching over me from up above. She has a new purpose and it is to help guide me on this new life for myself.

Love ya big sis. Thanks for watching over me my guardian angel and Go Flashes!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, how grateful we are for your daughter Rachael “Carli” Woodruff.  Thank you that she is still alive today simply in a new form.  Thank you that she never did abandon me, but is still with me and all of her loved ones.  We are so grateful that she is a trailblazer, not just for me, but for so many others. We pray this in Jesus name. Amen.