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Finding God Everyday Freedom | Identity Now Found Blog Videos

How Do We Live Unshaken?

Every day, I hear from others their declaration to stand strong, to live unshaken. Usually it comes right after some kind of upheaval in their life has turned things upside-down and they are determined to never let that happen again. But, can we truly live unshaken? What would that look like? (WATCH VIDEO HERE)

Imagine a mountain, hugged by a curving road below. Cars zip along, occasionally stopping to take a picture. Metal netting protects smaller debris from falling down the mountainside on the people passing by below.

On rare occasion, someone will decide to get out of the comfort of their car and begin to climb the face towering above them. They bring their ropes and harness and anchors to stay securely pinned to the side.

As they climb, the mountain begins to shake. Strong quaking knocks loose small rocks first, then the larger rocks tumble. The metal netting is ripped free by huge boulders.

No longer is the road below the safe place and the mountain the danger. Now, the only place to stand secure is anchored to the towering mountain face.

Daily life is a constant shaking, an upheaval of things that make me comfortable.

Often in life I allow feelings to affect my foundation and I treasure the destination more than the journey, but that’s not what God does…He treasures the journey, not just our arrival on the mountain-top moment.

Hebrews 12:28 reminds us to be grateful for a kingdom that cannot be shaken…The kingdom can’t be shaken, but everything else can be.

So, when I find myself too comfortable in the everything else, then I feel jolted when I’ve got my anchors and ropes stuck into loose rock which are the comforts of this world, when the shaking happens, those comforts falter and my grounding is insecure.

What I need to stay pinned to is that which cannot be shaken: the kingdom.

We’re to seek most the kingdom of God, but sometimes that feels like the most elusive thing in the face of the daily shadow. When we remember that this shadow – this world we experience every day – this is simply an illustration for that kingdom that cannot be shaken, it helps us keep our ties to comfort and our reliance upon emotions in check.

Every physical aspect of creation has a spiritual counterpart…this world points us to the realer real.

My latest book, The Sacred Shadow, is an invitation to enter into this daily mystery of God’s kingdom…to experience in the here and now this kingdom that cannot be shaken. Get your copy here!

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Finding God Everyday Freedom | Identity Now Found Blog

What’s In Your Blind Spot?

You may have noticed semi-trucks with safety decals on the back of their trucks stating, “If you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you,” or “The No Zone,” with blue highlights of unsafe areas around the truck. They are designed to warn you of well-known, possibly deadly areas around their truck that they cannot see. These blind spots can be fatal for whomever is in them and the truck driver as well.

I was driving home one day on a small two-lane road when traffic came to a standstill. Someone disregarded all of the warning signs on the truck and came alongside the truck as it was making a wide right-turn. Not seeing the car in its blind spot, the truck driver proceeded into the turn and the car slammed into the side gas tank, rupturing the tank, leaking diesel onto the street and into the drainage ditch. Thankfully, the diesel did not ignite , but there was still a mess to clean and we had to wait for the hazmat team to soak up all of the fuel. While we all may not drive trucks, we do have our own blind spots.

Do you know where yours are, these areas of our lives that something could be creeping up unexpectedly?

What’s in the blind spot is not always something bad, but it can be. It could be a beautiful view  of a mountain range in your side mirror or a motorcyclist, a surprise promotion or a family illness, falling in love or a spousal affair, or one of an infinite number of situations. Why they happen varies from ignorance to distractedness, a busy life, to not knowing what clues to look for, and even literal blindness.

As a child, I had a freak accident where, floating in the middle of a lake on a tractor innertube, my brothers and I, as brothers often do, started wrestling and jumping on top of our tubes. As I came up over the edge of my tube, from under the water, my brother released his grip of the metal stem used to inflate the tube. The tip of the stem struck my eye and, with intense pain, I fell back into the water and struggled to get back to shore, wailing in pain.

Thirty-something years later, during a visit to my doctor’s office, we got on the topic of blind spots. I’d recently noticed that in that same spot where I got hit with the tractor tire stem, I now have a blind spot. I noticed one day as I pointed at something that I saw only the lower half of my finger. The tip of my finger disappeared as if it was stuck in a vortex of time and space. I pulled my hand down a little and I could see the whole thing again. I moved my finger up even further than before and I could see my hand and the tip of my finger, but the base of my finger was gone. It was the oddest thing I have seen.

Mr. Doctor said it was likely some sort of Charles Bonnet Syndrome, explaining how the human mind will fill in the blanks with random images or samples of the area around the blind spot, because it can’t make sense of the lack of information it is receiving.

In my case, my mind is likely filling in the void created by the injury to my eye, blending the surrounding area over the blind spot. It’s not a big portion of my vision, however it’s enough to make me conscious. My awareness of it allows for me to look around to ensure that my mind is not playing tricks on me.

The same principle applies to our spiritual lives. Many of us have been hurt or injured by someone or something in our lives. Our mind’s defense mechanisms put a wall around that pain so it isn’t injured anymore and so the pain will subside. We eventually become numb to it and just start looking past it. God didn’t want it to be this way though. We were created to bring everything to Him, to be able to see things from His point of view.

The belief that the hurt is too great to address and there is no hope of it stopping is often a symptom of the real issue, a belief that God doesn’t hear, doesn’t care, or isn’t there. Could it be that we just can’t see Him because we have become blind to His presence? What if our minds are just playing tricks on us, covering up His existence and all that He has done for us?

Psalm 147:3 says that God “…heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” What if God is inside the walls of that pain waiting for you to peek in and allow Him to heal your broken heart and bind up that wound? What if that blind spot is just where we need to look for healing?

Jesus left the disciples, but He did not leave them alone, nor are you alone.

“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 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.” – John 14:25-27

What is the Holy Spirit saying to you?

Steven Cohen

Author of What Lies Beneath: From Lies to Love and’

Co-Founder of Now Found Ministries & Now Found Publishing

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Freedom | Identity Now Found Blog

What’s the Difference Between a Pattern & a Formula?

On our journey through life, like a hike in the wilderness, sometimes we may come across a path that someone else has already forged, making our trek much easier. Incredible strides are made as we step in the footsteps of others who have gone before us, but there are times when, by doing so, we actually lose our way.

It is easy to see someone else’s success and want to duplicate it, to look at what they have done to fulfill their goals, dreams, and calling on their life and use it as a guide to do the same for ourselves.

So, what is the difference between a pattern and a formula?

God asked me this question one night as I pondered how to artistically give Him credit for the stars. For most of my life, I considered myself an atheist. At one point, I had a scorpion tattoo placed on my right shoulder to give credit to a constellation for my personality, my identity. Then, years later after encountering Christ, I considered what to get as a cover-up tattoo. To my surprise, God asked me why I wasn’t asking Him what He desired. Although I thought that seemed incredibly ironic because of the stigma of tattoos in much of the Christian community, I went ahead and asked. While you may imagine His response was for me to remove my previous tattoo, it wasn’t.

Instead, He asked me, “What’s the difference between a pattern and a formula?” I wondered if this was a rhetorical question or if He actually wanted an answer. As the Final Jeopardy tune played through my head, I couldn’t figure it out and gave up, asking Him for the answer. That’s when He revealed that the difference between a pattern and a formula is who gets the credit. (And, regarding the cover-up tattoo, God then asked why I didn’t give Him credit instead.)

You see, for years I gave the stars credit for who I was and why I am the way I am. But God showed me that giving credit to the stars is a form of worshiping them. And, like so many other things, it’s simply worshiping the created instead of the Creator. It was then that He gave me an image of what the first day of creation could have looked like as light appeared shining through the darkness. The image incorporated the scorpion constellation into the darkness, giving Him credit for the creation of the stars that this constellation is comprised of. This new tattoo tells a story: I no longer believe that I am who I am because I was born at a specific time; I am who I AM says I am simply because He says.

At some point, almost all of us do the same thing I did for so long. We look to the created – others’ successes, others’ creations, the paths they have taken – and we start to worship them. It isn’t a bad thing to look for help, nor is it bad when we find patterns or pathways that can ease our burdens, lightening our load. But, it can become a problem when we look at the pattern and no longer give the credit to God for providing it, instead, we decide to take the concepts, rebrand them, and take the credit for it ourselves. It’s even worse when we abandon the path that God has planned for us for the plan of others. It is so critical that we seek His kingdom, His will, His desire, and His path for us. When we do, it may still be challenging, but it will be well worth it.

What is the Holy Spirit saying to you?

By: Steven Cohen – Author of What Lies Beneath: From Lies to Love and Co-Founder of Now Found Ministries & Now Found Publishing

Photo by Kun Fotografi from Pexels

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Adopt | Foster Freedom | Identity Now Found Blog

How to Keep Up With the Pace of Life

Have you ever felt like you’re living in a hidden season? As though so many life changes are happening at once that you must take several steps back and find a stillness in all the swirling activity? That’s where our family has been in this most recent season.

If you’ve followed our adoption journey, you know we’ve been waiting. And waiting. And waiting. To see the beauty and the promise of God fulfilled. Six months ago, our family was chosen by a birth mom to adopt her precious baby girl. She wasn’t rejecting her daughter. She wasn’t “giving her up.” She intentionally and carefully considered where she was at and what would be best for her baby. At this point in her life, that meant placing her with great intent into a forever family. That is selfless love. That is sacrifice.

When we heard the news we’d been chosen and only had a few weeks to wait, the endless waiting switched gears into a flurry of activity. Our promise was about to come. We would meet our daughter soon!

Our precious girl has been with us from her first moment in this world. I was in the delivery room and was the first (non-medical) person to hold her. Steve was the first to feed her. From the first moment, we’ve known and felt that she is ours. Every day with her truly is precious. Yes, we get tired. But there is something about this process, about the deep intentionality of our entire adoption journey, which makes each moment we have with her a gift. We’ll go to court in a couple of months to finalize the adoption, to make what is already forever in our hearts, forever in the eyes of the law.

In this hidden season of welcoming a baby into our home, we’ve also been preparing for what’s next in life and ministry. This month marks the six-year anniversary of this blog, this space to explore the many ways and places God can be found. We are so excited to announce what has been brewing: the upcoming release of our video teachings! In these brief and accessible videos, we will explore how to know truth, experience freedom, and live in authentic identity and intimacy with God. Beginning in late-August, you will be able to connect with those here as well as through our Facebook page.

We would love your help in getting the word out and sharing these messages as they are released. Who in your life needs encouragement to live in freedom? Who needs to know God more deeply? Who needs to answer the question for themselves, “Who am I?”

If you find yourself now living in a hidden season, remember: time in the hidden place is where God often heals our souls, allows us time to rest, and prepares us for our next leg of life’s journey with Him. Embrace the season of hiddenness and all that He has for your here. When the pace of life feels rushed, out of control, take a step back into the fold of His embrace and find rest. Ask Him: What can I release in this season? Where do I need to put my attention? Who do You say I am?

Rest from the doing and settle into the being, trusting that He will direct your steps.

If you enjoyed this post, continue reading about The Idol of Certainty.

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Freedom | Identity Now Found Blog

Identity Lost

We’ve forgotten who we are.

We’re facing an identity crisis. And the reason is very simple: We have forgotten that it’s the very Person of God which defines us. Who He is speaks who we are into being. So, when God is resisted, pushed away, ignored, considered to be imaginary…that’s when we’ll allow anything but Him to define our deepest selves.

Here, in this nation we like to call the “Land of the Free,” we’ve ousted God from the public square. Pushed Him to the periphery. Surrendered to relativity in the name of tolerance.

And many of us have forgotten that it’s the very Presence of God which defines us.

It’s not the opinions of others which define us.

…Or sexual preference.

…Or past performance or future plans.

…Or present situations or hopeless circumstances.

…Or careers or relationship statuses.

The very definition of identity is under scrutiny in our nation. What does it mean to be human? To be married? To be a parent? To be a man or a woman? To be a Christ-follower? To be free?

David had no qualms about who he was and how he was defined, whether in his lowest moments or in his highest peaks. “The Lord dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me.” (Psalm 18:20)  I’ve struggled with these words – this declaration of right-standing before God – because I know I’m not innocent. I know the inner struggles of my heart, the many, daily failings I face.

Yet in my struggles, God has reminded me that my righteousness has nothing to do with my past. It has everything to do with the sacrifice made for me while I was still a sinner, the sacrifice God made for me. For me! For you!

I just can’t get over the fact that God loves me (and you!) unconditionally. In the middle of my mess, covered with the stench of my choices that are rooted in pride, all the times I’ve sought anything but Him to define me – He still loves fully! He embraces completely! Me…and you…right where we are in this moment.

But He won’t leave us there.

This God who loves us passionately created us for such a time as this. He conceived us in His mind before we were ever conceived in body. And He daily invites us to take steps towards becoming the people He designed us to be.

So, when we’re in the onslaught, facing another attack against the essence of who we are, stepping into His Presence is where we can find the truth that brings freedom.

When we look at what we do and we think it’s who we are, we’ve missed a critical reality! What we do stems from who we are – and who we are is defined by the One who dreamt of us, created us, and stands ready to partner with us in living this life authentically – with love, truth, abundance, and freedom.

 

 

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How can we know who God has created us to be? In my book, Refining Identity, you will dive deeply into God’s Word, coming to understand more of Who He is and who you are. He sees the beauty and potential in you. Will you partner with Him in becoming the you He designed and desires you to be?

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Finding God Everyday Freedom | Identity Now Found Blog

Chronic Healing is NOW Available!

A chronic condition is persistent, ongoing. And for physical, chronic disease, medically speaking, is usually incurable. Facing my own chronic issue has been a decade-long struggle. I’ve wrestled with scriptures and promises of healing, coming to realize deep-seeded beliefs about God as Healer.

As He’s shown me more of Himself in the midst of my circumstances facing a chronic condition, I’ve come to see how healing can be chronically (persistently, continually) received.

My most vulnerable and nakedly raw book, Chronic Healing: Hope and Healing For Body, Soul, & Spirit, is now available. If you face any kind of ongoing circumstance, be it physical, soulful, or spiritual, this book is for you!

Order your copy today!

 

Also available at Amazon, BarnesAndNoble, and Google Play!

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Finding God Everyday Freedom | Identity Now Found Blog

Can I Be Healed?

I don’t suppose I considered this question of healing much before I experienced a life-altering diagnosis. Have you?

I’ve been living with Type 1 diabetes for nearly a decade. A decade of confusion, lessons learned, failed attempts, successes, struggles, and wondering: What is God doing in the midst of this disease?

Several years ago, the Lord put a radical idea on my heart: that healing is not the thing to be sought…that He brings good even out of chronic illness…that He is the Healer of my spirit, soul, and body regardless of what the “facts” I presently face try to prove. As God and I tend to do, we processed this entire concept through writing and now I’m excited to share with you the result, my latest book, Chronic Healing: Hope and Healing For Body, Soul, & Spirit.

Chronic Healing dives deeply into the raw reality of my day-to-day, living with an ongoing condition, and considers the many ways God has brought incredible healing to my life. Through this personal testimony, you will be encouraged in your own circumstances. You will be introduced in a fresh way to your Healer. And you can witness how He has touched and brought healing to areas of my life such as self-pity, control issues, fear, anger, confusion, perspective, body-stewardship, and many more!

You are loved. You are seen. And the God who created you has purpose in every circumstance you find yourself in!

Order your copy of Chronic Healing today!

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Finding God Everyday Freedom | Identity Now Found Blog

Wrestling With God

What do we do with the hard things of God?

Do we let doubts and unanswered prayers influence how we see God? Do we skim over scripture that we don’t think lines up with our concept of what a loving God should look like? How do we handle the death of a loved one or being passed over for a promotion at work?

If we aren’t careful, bitterness will creep in. The door will crack open and the enemy of our souls will have a field day planting doubt in our minds, “Did God really say…” We cannot allow our circumstances to shape our view of God.

We must allow God to shape our understanding of our circumstances.

In Genesis 32, Jacob found himself overwhelmed with fear of his brother, Esau. Years before, Jacob had deceitfully and manipulatively stolen the blessing intended for his brother. Now, he approached Esau’s land with the fruits of that blessing: a large family, many servants, immense wealth. Yet he feared his brother’s retaliation. He feared for his life…for the lives of his entire household.

After humbling himself in prayer, Jacob sent an extravagant gift ahead to Esau. Then, he sent his household ahead as well. Jacob was left completely alone when a man appeared and began to wrestle him. It’s always struck me as strange that this “man” just appears from nowhere at the exact moment Jacob is finally alone.

And just a few verses later, we discover that he’s been wrestling with God this whole night. Not a man…but God…the One who has the power to bless, to rename, to direct our paths. God is not having an identity crisis. He is secure in who He is and how He feels about us. He came to Jacob, He initiated – better yet, orchestrated – the whole event. God wanted to talk to him about identity.

“…Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’ And [the man] said to [Jacob], ‘What is your name?’ And he said, ‘Jacob.’ Then he said, ‘Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with me, and have prevailed.'” Genesis 32:26-28

At times when I haven’t heard an answer to prayer and I don’t know what the outcome is going to be, God has allowed me to realize that His thoughts are above my thoughts (meaning I wouldn’t understand even if He did tell me), but with that revelation peace is deposited and I know that everything will be all right.

I don’t have to worry about what is coming because God has told us we are entering His joy; we are going to a place where there is no more crying and no more death. Even when my feelings don’t line up, God is still faithful and He has always gone before me and made the crooked places straight.

I don’t like conflict. I would rather keep the peace than start conflict. And yet, God will allow me into situations where I must face conflict to show me that He is with me and that there are ways to handle conflict which are healthy and honoring to Him.

There are also times when I let myself get anxious about impending conflict and nothing ever comes of it. I’m sure a lot of that is me getting worked up in my mind. But I am convinced that, many times, God is diffusing situations and circumstances before I ever arrive.

And through the uncertainties, through the conflicts, God is standing ready to teach me more about who He is and who I am. He will not let an opportunity to reveal Himself to us pass Him by.

The book of James tells us that tests and trials come to perfect us. Jesus told us that in this world we will have trouble, not that we might. Our eternal God is bigger than circumstances, bigger than situations.

Just another note about Jacob, who was risking his life fighting for a blessing; he was already the carrier of blessing. God had promised him and his father (Isaac) and his grandfather (Abraham) that they would be blessed beyond comprehension.

When we are in tough places, if we will allow God to do His work, He will reveal more of our identity to us. We may not come out on the other side of trials with a physical limp, but if we let God do His work we should walk differently, with a better understanding of who we are in Him.

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Finding God Everyday Freedom | Identity Now Found Blog

Believing For Healing After Hope’s Grown Cold

I’d lost hope completely. Whenever someone offered to pray for me…for this issue…I’d smile and say, “Sure, thanks!” But, inside, my heart had grown cold. I knew the prayer lifted up in genuine concern and out of love for me would fall flat.

After living with a diagnosis for more than eight years, I’d come to accept that having Type 1 diabetes, an “incurable” autoimmune disease, was to be my lifelong fate. This is the kind that you can’t just exercise your way out of. It’s living dependent on insulin injections every. single. day.

Years ago, my heart was still tender. I sat praying one day about just this issue, believing my God for a miracle, asking for what He wanted to do, fully open to Him. And I heard, resonating through my spirit, “I have healed you.” As in past tense…already complete.

But when I didn’t see that manifest in actual physical evidence, hope waned…gradually…over the next months and years. I stopped asking for prayer. I stopped praying even for myself. I started concocting reasons. I started believing lies.

I’m too undisciplined with food, so having diabetes is a necessary thing to keep my appetites in check.

The apostle Paul had a “thorn in his flesh” that never left him, so I guess this is mine.

Managing diabetes helps keep me in line and have a reason to eat well and work out. I can’t do those things without it.

It’s not so bad having an excuse to put myself first, such as urgently eating if my sugar crashes, or bringing food with me anywhere.

But God…

While I was at a conference a few weeks ago, God began stirring my heart. And when one of the speakers stood at the end of her message and prayed for healing over those of us in the room with autoimmune disorders, something broke free in me. A spark of hope. A sliver of receptivity to believe the impossible.

So, I asked…one more time.

The next day, my sugars were inexplicably crashing again and again. My body simply didn’t need as much insulin as it had the day before. Once I stabilized, I was using about 30% less insulin than I typically needed!

And I prayed, breathing out belief, breathing in truth…

Lord, thank You for restoring every single cell in my body to Your original and perfect design.

Father, thank You for being the God of the impossible things. Thank You for healing me.

Thank You for making me wonderfully, fearfully.

Lord, I reject the lies I’ve believed and spoken. I believe You can do anything! 

Make me a testimony of Your presence, Your healing touch, Your grace in my very physical body.

Thank You for caring about every part of me…not just my soul…but You care about my spirit, soul, AND body!

I surrender to You my appetites and attitudes. I don’t need any disease to keep me in check. You are my everything!

Lord, thank You that the days of wearing my insulin pump are numbered. I will see the day when it is no longer needed at all!

Lord, I receive You. Renew every cell. Regenerate what has been lost. Resurrect what’s been dead in me.

Over the past several weeks, the confirmations of His movement have continued…every day! Insulin needs lowering. Friends standing with me, believing alongside me that we will see a miracle here. Words given (completely without prompting from me at all!) confirming that God has told someone to tell me that He’s healing me.

I’ve considered keeping this under wraps while healing is “in process.” But God is asking me to be bold…to draw a line in the sand and declare out loud what He’s doing in the quiet places.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” Proverbs 18:21

Will you join me in praying and agree with me? Will you dare to believe that our God is the same yesterday, today, and forever? This Jesus, who healed every single person who came to Him asking for healing, and healing many who never asked…will you believe with me that He’s still healing?

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases…” Psalm 103:2-3

Is there something you’re facing where you’ve lost hope that any change is possible? Your Healer stands ready to meet you. Are you willing to invite Him into the impossible situation?

I’d love to stand alongside you and pray with you! Let’s shake off the lies and the excuses and the doubts. Let’s believe beyond what our minds can grasp. Let’s spend time with the Healer, with Yahweh Rapha, The Lord Who Heals…it’s His very nature to do so. Let’s ask Him what He has to say about the situation, what His truth is, despite what the evidence might suggest. What are you believing for today?

“A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. ‘If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,’ he said. Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be healed!'” Mark 1:40-41

[In the meantime, I am still taking insulin. I am still monitoring my blood sugars very closely. I am still exercising and caring for my diet. And, as I see my blood sugars go down, I’m slowly lowering my insulin intake. I’m still keeping my doctor’s appointments. I’m believing that the “facts” of measurable evidence will continue to reflect the truth of His healing more and more.]