My usual routine when I come home from work involves going to an outside window of our house, knocking on the window, and waiting for my daughter, Brooklyn, to show up at the window and get excited about seeing daddy. For about the next 2-3 minutes she tells me everything she has done for the day and then points to the front door for me to come in. A few weeks ago I had a different experience and it brought to mind many of the same situations that we are all in today. It was the same routine as usual: park the car, go to window, knock, wait for Brooklyn, talk through window, and then go to front door, except this time, Brooklyn wouldn’t let me in the door. I had a key and was able to unlock the door, but she had sat down right in front of the door and her body weight was blocking my entry into the house. Now, Brooklyn is only 35 pounds, but some how she had situated her body perfectly where the combination of body weight and leverage kept the door from opening. I could unlock the door, but I could not get it to open to come inside. I could hear her laughing through the door and I smiled at her playfulness. I stepped back from the door and remembered that there was another door in the garage to get into the house. I opened the garage, took the same key, opened the door inside the garage, and easily walked into the house still hearing the laughter of my daughter. When I got into the kitchen, GOD spoke to me and said, “Many of my children face the same difficulty when inheriting the promises I have given them. They don’t realize there’s more than one door.”
GOD has given each and every one of us specific promises that pertain to our life. Those might be personal promises or promises found throughout the Word of GOD, but we all have promises that have been spoken over our lives. Many times we give up on what GOD has said because the way we think it should be doesn’t work out. Essentially the door we want to go through is locked and just like my daughter was laughing at me on the other side, the enemy is laughing at you standing on the front porch, but Jesus addressed this very issue in Matthew 7: 7-11:
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.”
I like the New Living Translation version because it uses the word, “keep.” This little four letter word carries big meaning when we apply it to our life and the promises of GOD. According to the online dictionary that comes with an Apple iPad the definition of keep is: persist, carry on, do something constantly or consistently, carry on. Many times, I have found, that GOD doesn’t answer prayers and give blessings the way I think it should be done. The whole reason Valerie and I started the podcast series “ Embrace the Delay” for Anchor Movement was because in our own marriage and family we were waiting on GOD to fulfill His promises, but we were in a delay. (To listen to our most recent podcast, click here). Delays are not fun and it’s in the delay that many times we get off course. The enemy likes to persuade us that GOD has forgotten about us or that His promises are for someone else more qualified and spiritual, but that is totally not true. It’s in the delays that we learn to lean on the faithfulness of GOD and remember His goodness. That’s why in Matthew 7 Jesus addressed the delay directly when he said, “keep.” Don’t stop asking. Don’t stop seeking. Don’t stop knocking. Keep on keeping on! GOD has good gifts stored up for you in His perfect timing. I love how the Psalmist puts it:
“Lord, how wonderful you are! You have stored up so many good things for us, like a treasure chest heaped up and spilling over with blessings— all for those who honor and worship you! Everybody knows what you can do for those who turn and hide themselves in you.” Psalms 31:19 TPT
GOD has more than one way to bless you and accomplish his promises in your life. Even if you have missed it because of sin or disobedience, GOD is still faithful to what He has said. Our job is to embrace these moments of delay and keep on seeking Him and remembering His goodness. We have the key and GOD will point us to the door that we should open in his timing. Don’t let anyone stop you from inheriting what GOD has for you. Remember what the Psalmist said, “You have stored up so many good things for us, like a treasure chest heaped up and spilling over with blessing!” Treasure chests aren’t something that lays out in the open. Most of the time you have to follow a map and diligently seek the treasure outlined on the map. Our treasure from GOD is found the same way, by diligently seeking Him and following His map. Don’t give up, Keep on going!
-Drew & Valerie Blackston
I remember sitting at this tiny desk in a small dorm room on the 2nd floor my freshman year of college. The computer screen flickered in front of me while my roommate talked about this new website where we could connect with other college students. I scanned the screen at what was then “The Facebook,” but what we know now as “Facebook.” Little did we know what “The Facebook” had in store for us and the world. I’m not sure Mark Zuckerberg even knew exactly what Facebook would turn into. The world has become totally connected through the developments of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and many other social networking sites. Pictures, comments, achievements, all being uploaded for the world to see in the blink of an eye. What used to take hours, days, or months to circulate the globe, now just takes the push of a button. If you don’t understand what “going viral” means you can easily look it up in every major dictionary, paper and online! Wow, how the world has changed since that day in 2004. The ways in which technology has improved our lives, I see where it has impeded our daily interactions. Now don’t get me wrong, without technology, Anchor Movement doesn’t get to impact people all over the globe. Without technology, our podcasts and YouTube videos don’t make it any farther than our bedroom windows. We love technology here at Anchor Movement and we believe that it can be a tool for reaching this world with the message of Jesus Christ. For example, an article was featured online last week that talked about a new Christian radio station that was going to be able to beam the gospel message into North Korea from the South Korean border. Isn’t that incredible?! Christianity in Iran is growing faster than in any other country thanks to new satellite TV channels being watched on traditional TV and mobile devices. Technology is a wonderful tool that is bringing the gospel to the nations, but what about here at home in our own social media and technology world. How about our personal instagram feed or story? Who gets the glory on your instagram or facebook account? The apostle Paul in 1 and 2 Corinthians outlines what our life should look like even in our social media obsessed world:
“Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:31 NLT
“As the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 10:17 NLT
Now listen, we are not against posting a selfie or a picture with friends or even the awesome dinner at that cool new restaurant we ate at last night, but we must look at our purpose even when it comes to the silliest of posts. Are we bringing honor to GOD or are we bringing honor to us? Every comment, post, or like doesn’t need to be something super spiritual, but take a look at what you are saying, wearing, and doing and ask yourself, “Does this bring glory to GOD or does this bring glory to me?” GOD gave you great friends, post away! GOD blessed you with beautiful children, brag like there’s no tomorrow! That wonderful man you wake up next to every morning (Valerie is rolling her eyes), he is an answer to your deepest prayers, post! post! post!
We will all stand before GOD and give account for our actions and this includes our social media accounts. Looking through the lens of GOD’s Word has totally transformed every moment we spend on social media. It’s changed from, ‘how can we make our life look good’ to ‘how can we encourage someone else with our story?’ We all have a unique opportunity today to not only be the physical hands and feet of Jesus, but to be the thumbs too. It might seem silly that you posting about your food can bring honor to GOD but who provided money for that dinner? A simple post about your best friends birthday might seem small, but who led you to that friend when you two were in high school? Valerie likes to post pictures of our two dogs and we can tell you story after story of how GOD has used those two mutts to bless our lives in more ways than we can count. If someone you didn’t know was to scroll through your old Instagram post, what could that person ascertain about you? Where would they see you pointing?
Before your next social media post/comment, consider if your words or pictures are going to be building others up or leading others to envy a false reality? It’s hard not to be self seeking in a “selfie” world, but are we building others up with our comments and photos (in turn pointing back to GOD) or dragging them down? That saying “a picture is with a thousand words” is true. There’s so much more not seen or said when we quickly upload and post- can the story behind it encourage someone else ? We all don’t want to share our lives on social media, which is fine, but think about what you do share as being influential to those around you. You may not think you’re an “influencer”, but even with one follower you are impacting the world around you!
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The toughest battle we face is not between other individuals or nations, but it’s the battle between our ears. How many books have been written about our mental health and defeating our adversaries in our mind. It’s why books like “The Battlefield of the mind” by Joyce Meyer and “Switch on Your Brain” by Dr. Caroline Leaf sell so many copies. People are starving for the ability to win the battle of thought in their mind. Statistics prove this out: suicide rates in America are up 24% since 2000 and almost 25 million Americans are on some sort of antidepressant. Now listen to me, all victory begins and ends with Jesus, but in between are steps we can take in order to capture the thoughts that want to hold us down. Everyday we are inundated with images, perspectives, and thoughts that can either harm us or help us and without a clear strategy for protection it becomes an overwhelming task. The screens on our desk, in our pocket, and hanging on our walls have become the barometer for a life well lived, but how can we attain something that is edited, cropped, and cleaned up for a mass audience? As a husband I see men who are in perfect shape, have ample time for their families, and have amazing jobs. How can I compare to that? As a father I compare myself to other fathers who never yell at their kids and have a constant petting zoo in the backyard. How can I compete with that? The truth is I can’t, but the truth is they can’t either. What I see on my Instagram feed is just a highlight reel of a moment in time, but I take it as a blanket affirmation of their entire life and a constant reminder of my deficiencies. This is a battle that we all face and what I want to do is give you three practical steps for conquering the battle between your ears.
1. Ignore them!
“When Saul returned to his home at Gibeah, a group of men whose hearts God had touched went with him. But there were some scoundrels who complained, “How can this man save us?” And they scorned him and refused to bring him gifts. But Saul ignored them. 1 Samuel 10:26-27A NLT
After Saul was made king by the prophet Samuel he went back home and the reception was not what you would suppose a newly announced king would receive. Many of the people who knew Saul growing up looked on his new occupation with scorn and contempt. In today’s world we call these people keyboard gangsters. These are the people who blow up your Facebook news feed with negative comments, misguided opinions, and asinine assumptions about you and your life. When these haters decide to unleash their useless jargon we have two options: respond or ignore. If we respond, we are no better than they are. If we ignore the battle begins in our mind. With each comment we must ask ourselves, does this truly define me or is this someone just being judgmental? If it’s the latter, which is what Saul faced, do what Saul did—ignore them. Your life is better without them and so is your mental health.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,” II Corinthians 10:3-5 NKJV
Sometimes thoughts won’t leave and that is when you must go to battle. We can either let our thoughts control us or we can control our thoughts. I like what I heard a pastor say about thoughts, “you can’t control a bird from flying over your head, but you can control whether they build a nest.” Our thoughts are like the birds that fly over. Sometimes something might pop in your mind that you never even thought of before. How did that get in there? Where did that thought come from? I’ve felt that before. Especially when I’m making a big decision or a decision that I feel is going to have a big impact on my life. It’s in those moments that I wrestle with this verse. It’s wrestling with the thought and bringing it to GOD’s Word. If my thought says “you’re not good enough” I remind my thought “I am the righteousness of GOD through Christ or if my thoughts say “you’ll never have enough” I emphatically tell my thought, “my GOD shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory.” It’s not always easy especially when the thoughts come like a river, but I know when they do, it’s by bringing those thoughts to GOD’s Word that I find peace in my mind.
For me this is the hardest step in my mental struggles. It’s the ability to release what others have said or what my own thoughts say to me. Ignoring a constant battle sometimes becomes overwhelming and once I’ve captured the thought with the Word of GOD it becomes a situation of where to put it. Like a prisoner of war, I need somewhere to put this thought so that I can move on with my life. That is where this third step comes from: release. Release where? Glad you asked. Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” A yoke is a wooden beam that is fastened between two animals, normally oxen, that enables them to pull together on a load. When we are struggling with our thoughts or that inner voice it’s like being hooked together to that thing with a yoke. You are trying to pull one way and the thought is pulling you in another direction. Jesus said let me pull that yoke with you. Release what is pulling you in the wrong direction and come pull my yoke. Jesus understands what feels like to have great sorrow and stress. He felt the loss of loved ones, the pain of betrayal, and the physics anguish of the cross. What better person to pull the yoke of life together with. Release your yoke and take hold of His. When we allow ourselves to do this, we will find out what it truly means to find rest for our souls.
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For many, Mother’s day is a holiday filled with deep emotions, some wonderful and some heartbreaking. On July 20, 2015, my mom unexpectedly passed away and unfortunately, I remember that day perfectly. In my sudden grief, I fell to the floor in pain when my Grandma called my husband that day to deliver the news. I was 25, and never imagined living life without my mom. Losing her was, and still is, hard. I felt robbed. Robbed of time, robbed of memories, robbed of everything that could have been had she not died.
After going to multiple doctors and having various tests done - all to find out I had succumb to grief induced health issues - I knew this was going to be a long road ahead to recover from what should have been a joyous time in our lives. Drew and I were newly married, 2 months in, when our vows were standing the test of tragic loss and pain. Drew was my rock. Day in and day out he walked with me through my nightmare and never gave up on me. As time went on, I had to move forward as well. Time doesn’t stop and sometimes it seems like people are forgotten but thankfully the loss hasn’t been left behind. God see’s and doesn’t forget. He lifts us up even in the pit of despair to bring the comfort only He can.
John 14:27 NIV
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
I can attest to not being healed by the peace the world gives because nothing anyone said seemed to make me feel better. I had to find that peace only Christ could give me to heal from such a loss. I had to surrender the grief, fear, pain and despair and trade it for a new joy. I felt guilty moving forward..would my happiness mean she’s forgotten? Would my mom think I didn’t love her any more? No, it meant scripture was being fulfilled and I could put on a garment of praise and thank God for the life I still had left to live despite my loss. I could continue to honor her by moving forward with my life.
I want to encourage those of you who’ve known loss in the same way, there’s so much ahead of you...so much you can’t see yet. God has a beautiful story He is writing and maybe yours can help someone else. If you’ve lost a loved one, I can guarantee they wouldn’t want you to trade in your life to be “dead” here on Earth. They would want you to prosper and find joy again. Your life is a beautiful gift that only you can choose to live. Dear son or daughter, no one else can be you. The world needs more of you. Sometimes we have to lay down our pain to take hold of His peace because it was never meant to be carried alone. It doesn’t mean you don’t still feel sad, it just means you can allow yourself to live again.
Matthew 11:28-30 NIV
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
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If you were to ask my wife what is the one thing that I can not live without (Excluding Jesus and her of course), she would emphatically tell you “coffee!” I am a coffee junkie. To me coffee is my water. I believe that GOD made Adam and Eve and when they had children he introduced them to the coffee bean. Because of my infatuation or better yet, need for coffee, I find myself inside coffee shops many times throughout the week. My usual routine when ordering coffee is pulling up the app on my phone, ordering my coffee, and then sitting inside on a nice comfy couch waiting to hear my name called. In the moments between ordering and picking up my amazingness, I typically just scroll through the news feed on my phone or text my wife back and forth. A few weeks ago GOD called my attention to the other patrons enjoying their cup of joe. As I scanned the room, I observed about 75% of the room either looking at their phone, iPad, or some sort of tech device. The other 25% were either in line or sitting with another person. I couldn’t help but think how connected we are online, but how disconnected we are in the real world. Coffee shops were meant for communion with friends, family, or complete strangers. A place to go and enjoy conversation and purposeful interaction with other physical human beings. I felt very misplaced at that moment. How many times have I slipped onto my comfy couch, immediately pulled out my cell phone or computer, and focused my attention to the bright light radiating from my screen. Who have I missed? What lonely individual had come looking for coffee just like myself, but needed to hear a simple “hello” or “how are you?” How many times have I stood in line without even noticing the person behind me or the name on the tag of the barista taking my order. “This will stop today,” I emphatically declared. No more missing the world going on around me for the world that is in my pocket. From that moment on, my aim is to not just be in the moment, but to thrive in the moment. I want to see eye color and pay attention to name tags. I want to hear someone’s voice and recognize the emotion behind it. I want to get out of my little world and see the world that GOD has divinely ordained around me.
Jesus is the perfect example of someone who connected with the people around Him and through those connections He was able to offer hope, healing, and salvation. One of my favorite stories about Jesus is more of a transition than a story. It’s a transition in Jesus life, but He used it as a great opportunity for intimate connection. In the last few verses of John 8, Jesus is having a pretty heated discussion with the religious leaders of the day presenting Himself as The Christ. The leaders in turn became very angry and picked up stones to kill Jesus, but Jesus just concealed Himself and left the temple where He had been teaching. Chapter 9 starts with this verse:
“Afterward, as Jesus walked down the street, he noticed a man blind from birth.” John 9:1 TPT
Afterward. After the heated discussion where the religious leaders tried to kill Jesus. Afterward. Jesus had just exchanged one of the most prominent examples to the Jews that He was not only The Christ, but that He existed with GOD from the very beginning. I am sure that emotions were running high for Jesus, the religious leaders, and His disciples, but Jesus didn’t dwell on what just happened. As He walked down the street He noticed a man blind from birth. Jesus was always looking for connections. Always looking for someone He could encourage or speak life into. There was never a wasted moment in the life of Jesus. If Jesus ministry was happening today, He would ignore the constant vibrating of His cell phone to connect with that person who is sitting alone at dinner. The rest of chapter 9 is an incredible story of the healing of this man who was born blind and the glory of GOD that was shown that day in Jerusalem. The same day that Jesus was in an emotional heated conversation with the religious leaders. The same day those same religious leaders tried to kill Him. That same day He noticed a man born blind and stopped everything to show the everlasting love of GOD. My question to you and myself is how can we be more like Jesus in our transitions? When life is busy and we are running from one place to the next, how can we slow down enough to notice? Let us not be people who are defined by the cross around our necks or the place we go on Sunday, but let us be defined by the actions we take in the transitions and the love that we show in the busyness of our day. My declaration will be this:
I will be more purposeful and intentional with my daily interactions—wether that’s with my wife, kids, family, or a complete stranger. I will take Jesus into every interaction, every conversation, every insignificant moment and let His grace and mercy move through me.
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