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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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Finding God Everyday Now Found Blog

How Do You Know You’re in Love?

Someone young and precious to me posted recently: “How do you know you’re in love?”

Isn’t that a question we’ve all asked at one point or another? Is it mere attraction? Mutual enjoyment? Shared hopes and dreams?

Falling in love with my (now) husband wasn’t difficult at all. As though he was on display for my scrutiny, I considered me, my feelings. Attraction…check. Shared beliefs…check. Desire to be near him…check.

Then came marriage, living together in this daily grind – suddenly, all our opposite traits rubbing each other in uncomfortable ways. What felt like a natural force became a daily choice.

To fall in love is easy: it’s all emotions and heart-fluttering and giddy attraction. It’s like falling, something we have little control over, something we succumb to. It’s often blind, overlooking red flags of warning. It lives in a dream state, ever-imagining. Often it elevates the other as an object of worship.

To live in love is the hard part: it’s raw and sacrificial. It’s preferring the other person above yourself. It’s believing the impossible is possible. It’s releasing the desire to control them or twist them. It’s believing they are and can become the person God has created them to be—and helping them arrive at that destination while persevering with them on the journey. It never uses ultimatums or threats.

A life in love is that ridiculous encapsulation of 1 Corinthians 13 and 1 John 4:

patient, kind, not envious or boastful, not arrogant or rude, not insisting on its own way, not irritable or resentful, not rejoicing with wrongdoing, but rejoicing with the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, never-ending, rooted in the Spirit, producing confidence before God, fearless

Authentic love, abiding love, is an existence impossible apart from God and His grace to empower. Falling in love relies on gravity to do the work. Living in love defies gravity when it presses down, nearly crushing. Falling in love is feelings-based. Living in love does so despite feelings.

Living in love often seems illogical, nonsensical. It’s not a sweet or simple story people flock to the movies for. It’s a long road filled with mundane moments of choosing the other. Of choosing the Source of Love—God.

So, how do you know you’re in love? When you’re living motivated, fueled by Love. When it’s no longer just about you and how someone meets your needs and wants. When there’s sacrifice and service. When you realize that living in love is not a feeling, but rather, is an ongoing expression, a constant outpouring of yourself.

And you take one more step up that mountain, knowing that a life lived in love is more about the hard climb than the backwards free-fall.

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Freedom | Identity Now Found Blog

Where Love and Identity Meet

refining_identity_ver2

I am over at Single Matters chatting about the kind of love that defines.  What kind of lies have you believed about how your relationships define you?  They may not be what you think…

Hop on over to Single Matters and join the discussion!

 

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Finding God Everyday Now Found Blog

Women at War Online Book Study: Chapter 9

Pear Tree white text W@W post

About four years ago, I sat in my small women’s group and received a personal prophetic word. (For any skeptics out there, let me assure you it’s not weird or frightening with clouds twirling above your head or anything!  New Testament prophecy is all about building up, encouraging and consoling people with your words…check out 1 Corinthians 14:3!)

The lovely lady who spoke to me was describing a gift she perceived I had and, with great care and gentleness, she said that that gift needed to be covered in love…I needed to basically get a Masters degree in love so that God could most fully work through my life and transform others.

And…by the way…the beautiful woman speaking to me was our very own Jan Greenwood. (Thanks again, Jan!)

Jan knows quite a lot about living a life rooted in love, but I also very much relate to her initial frustration in hearing about living a life of love and the fruit of the Spirit instead of placing that focus on power.  With power, we could do really BIG things, right?

I love how Jan described living a life that is full of the fruit of the Spirit: “It creates an atmosphere where there is potential for God to move in power.”

Ah!  Not MY power, but HIS!  His power to move and become more in an atmosphere that is surrendered to Him…one that puts more emphasis on the fruit rather than the power.

“If I focus more on God’s power than on the fruit of the Spirit, I end up traveling in circles, missing the access ramp to the destination I’ve been dreaming about. But when I let go of my need to be the deliverer of power, I become a highway of love upon which God’s presence and power can move.”  -Women at War

Let’s take a look at a few questions from the end of chapter 9.  We want to hear your thoughts! Your voice matters and we’d love you to join the conversation!

1) Define “love” in your own terms.

2) 1 John 4:16 says, “God is love”.  How does that statement make you feel?

3) Read your earlier definition of “love” and compare it to the passage from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. How do the two match up? 

I encourage you to take some time thinking through the other questions at the end of this chapter as well.  See what God has to show you about what He wants to do in YOUR life!

 

WomenatWarcover

Categories
Freedom | Identity Now Found Blog

A shooting in a small town.

Walking out of my office with my family yesterday May 22nd,2013 at 6:47pm, across the street from Southlake Town Square(population not too many, last murder over 15 years ago), we were getting ready for a Daddy/Kiddo date while Mommy had a dinner with the girls. It was just then I heard pop, and I turned around immediately to see where it came from. Looking for a commotion….pop……..pop…pop..pop.pop.pop more shots rang out. The sound was too loud and had a pattern too recognizable to be fireworks. From the distance I was at (about 50 yards) it sounded like a .38, .380, or 9mm.

There were no screams, no squealing tires, no one running away like you would imagine if there was a altercation or what I have come to expect from a drive by. People were not running around in a chaotic fashion afterwards for what seemed to be eternity which made me start to doubt, my assessment of gun fire and then the sound of a heart broken woman in panic for the life of her beloved. I couldn’t see the shooter for the cars in the way, but I did see the panic of a man flagging down a police officer, the officers efficient yet cautious dispatch request and survey of the scene, the panic and heart break of a woman in shock of what just happened and the surreal reaction of the many onlookers. BTW..I had told my wife and kids to get in the van because I didn’t see were the shooter had gone and I needed to be able to have them in a controlled location and able to flee if need be. The ambulance came and went and the hustle of emergency crews grew. It was over, the man had lost his life, we woman had lost her husband, his son lost his dad and the threat was gone…..

“Hear my voice, O God, in my prayer: preserve my life from fear of the enemy. Hide me from the secret counsel of the wicked; from the insurrection of the workers of iniquity: Who whet their tongue like a sword, and bend their bows to shoot their arrows, even bitter words: That they may shoot in secret at the perfect: suddenly do they shoot at him, and fear not. They encourage themselves in an evil matter: they commune of laying snares privily; they say, Who shall see them? They search out iniquities; they accomplish a diligent search: both the inward thought of every one of them, and the heart, is deep. But God shall shoot at them with an arrow; suddenly shall they be wounded. So they shall make their own tongue to fall upon themselves: all that see them shall flee away. And all men shall fear, and shall declare the work of God; for they shall wisely consider of his doing. The righteous shall be glad in the  Lord , and shall trust in him; and all the upright in heart shall glory.” Psalms 64:1-10 KJV

Is the threat gone? Is it truly over? The scripture above tells us the wicked are scheming. I love how although the writer does mention the fact that God will take care of our enemies, he is not asking for revenge or retribution, judgement of them or their families. He asks for his Father’s, yours and my father’s, protection. Protection not from the people themselves or their evil schemes, but form that fear associated with the knowledge that they exist. As I started writing this earlier this morning the sound of a police car is ringing in the background.

We live in a world full of spiritual, physical and emotional challenges. Evil’s existence means that for now there will always be threats. Evil is being evil at every moment, not just when we see it, but we do not need to be fearful, bound by that spririt of fear.

“By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment…”1 John 4:17-18A ESV

Who do you know of that lives and strives to cause punishment? It is not God and if you think it is then the Liar has you fooled thinking he is God and I would love to introduce you to the One True God, The Creator and Finisher, The Life and Salvation of the world, Jesus, the perfect love mentioned above, Son of the Great I AM. Remember there is no fear in Love(if you know and Trust Jesus as your savior), because we know we are forever going to be with Him no matter what happens in this life

Please feel free to comment and leave your opinions. If you need help dealing with the situation please feel free to contact us as we can help get you in touch with a great ministry that can walk beside you as you are set free.

Steve

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Freedom | Identity Now Found Blog Relationships | Marriage

The speck…

I was singing worship today and I felt God give me a word as we sang out the following lyrics from a Gateway Worship song:

“Wonderful
You are wonderful
Yours my heart
You’re my life
Jesus Christ”

He said to me, “I know”, and there was a short pause, “even in your sinning, even in your struggles, I know you’re trying, I know your heart is mine and mine is yours”.

He went on to show me how I used to judge Christians and their actions, their failures to live up to my expectation of what a Christian should do, say and even look like. His response to that?

“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye but do not notice or consider the beam [of timber] that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, Brother, allow me to take out the speck that is in your eye, when you yourself do not see the beam that is in your own eye? You actor (pretender, hypocrite)! First take the beam out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye”.

Luke 6:41&42 AMP

(Bible.com/app)

Now, I have seen this scripture being used in church on how we should treat fellow believers, I’ve read it probably hundreds of times outside of that, but this was the first time in the ten years of being a Christian that He showed me this verse from the view point of when I was lost.

It’s not just about how we judge each other as believers, those who are found. He showed me this as a response, a rebuttal, to the lost and the refusal of Christ based on the actions and attitudes of others. If you are lost and like me when I was, used this judgment of others as a form of shield or crutch from seeing, experiencing and becoming found by Jesus, take the log out of your own eye first.

Who is to say the person you are judging is not singing those precious lyrics mentioned above, but is newly found or it’s just struggling in their everyday life. Who is to say that Jesus doesn’t just want your heart so that you can help them through those struggles. Who is to say that Jesus isn’t using that because if they weren’t struggling you wouldn’t have noticed them and that is exactly what you needed to be touched and called to Jesus.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:6 ESV

(Bible.com/app)

The answer to “Who is to say?” is Jesus, he loves you even in your sin, even in your struggles and screw ups, He has no log in His eye which makes Him the only judge that can truly see a person’s heart and He wants to to set you free. Set you free of that judgment of others, something my old lost self or “flesh” still thinks it can judge better than the Creator of the world. Not so. I have set that thought process at Jesus’s feet to let Him take that lie and set me free.

This is for everyone, but especially for those who are already in a relationship with Christ, possibly for a long time, remember He has no log, not even a speck in His eye. He sees everything clearly and misses nothing. Even knowing what He knows about you
He’s in love with you, He loves you unconditionally. Let these words come from you’re heart:

“Wonderful
You are wonderful
Yours my heart
You’re my life
Jesus Christ”

What is the Holy Spirit saying to you I would love to hear from you.

Steve

P.S. Thank you Gateway Worship for putting such great music together that expresses the love of and for Christ so well.

And one more scripture God just showed me for today:

Who is a God like You, Who forgives iniquity and passes over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He retains not His anger forever, because He delights in mercy and loving-kindness. He will again have compassion on us; He will subdue and tread underfoot our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.

Micah 7:18-19 AMP

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Now Found Blog

Rock it out…

Men,

Do not be afraid to let your guard down with those you love most. Jesus should be included in that group. Sing your heart out to God, be willing to make a fool of your self.

All you saints! Sing your hearts out to God ! Thank him to his face! He gets angry once in a while, but across a lifetime there is only love. The nights of crying your eyes out give way to days of laughter.

Psalm 30:5 MSG

God showed me this verse and it just screamed, “l am a man.” As men we know how to worship, it just seems that we put a wall up so others don’t see how we truly feel, especially when we are hurt or when we think we are not good at something. It may also be that we have never been taught how to express ourselves. Just act like your at a “_____” (fill in the blank with a band you love to listen to) concert and rock it out, sing your heart out to God. Just because your vocal cords don’t allow the words to keep the same pitch as a worship leader doesn’t mean your not pulling at the heart strings of God when you just let it go.

Extend this to your family and I think it is a great beginning to bettering your family. Where it says him put your wife and children’s names. When you get angry make sure it is over quickly, you talk to them, apologize and ask for forgiveness “to their face” afterwards. In addition make sure it is it is only once and a while, if it’s more than that help through a men’s group, local church or counselor can help. It is important how those you truly love, truly see you. You should want them to feel and say, much like the scripture above, “although he got angry once and a while, across his lifetime there was always love,” not vice versa. Do this and keep doing this and it will help the pain and bitterness in your house give way to days of laughter.

What is the Holy Spirit saying to you, I would love to hear from you.

Steve

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Adopt | Foster Now Found Blog

Overflowing Love

It has been a month of go-go-go for our family, as I’m sure it’s been for yours. Yes, we had Thanksgiving, but truthfully that was the simplest day of the month for us. I mentioned back in September that we were undergoing the licensing process to become foster parents. Well, at the end of October, we received our license and just a few days later, we got a call that made a wonderful new change to our family!

God has blessed us so much in this process! Yes, making the change from two to three kids is an adjustment, but any parent can tell you that. It has been for me a time of quite literally trusting God with this day alone. Trusting him with the things that absolutely must be done today to give me the strength to endure. And, especially trusting Him with the things that are not necessary for today and can wait…trusting that the world will not implode if I put off laundry for one day.

In fostering, I am amazed at how our territory of influence has grown. We have a list of people all new to us that we will now see on a regular basis. No longer are we in our “comfy” church friends and family only bubble. We have government workers and doctors, social workers and receptionists, biological family members, volunteers, case managers, attorneys and so many more who we now have the privilege of meeting. And in listening to the guiding voice of the Holy Spirit, in time we can have those moments to speak into lives that otherwise might never have known the love of God.

What a beautiful thing it is to remember that none of this is about me. Not the middle of the night diaper changes…not the bottle washing…not the appointments…nothing. It is about the love that God has poured out over us that we get to pass on to a little one who needs love right now. It’s not about the accolades from others who are proud of us. It’s not about facing the doubt that different people share as they wonder why we’re doing this.

It is about one more open door. It is about being open to God leading us through this day, equipping us for right now. It is about giving. And in giving, we have received so much in return! We have received slobbery baby kisses and the opportunity to see our bio kids smother this one in love. We’ve received a wonderful compliment from a CPS worker who said it was such a pleasure to see foster parents enjoy being foster parents. In remembering that this is not about us, God has given us a peace each day where we don’t have to live in fear of wondering where this precious one will end up. We are a chapter in this life. God knows the end. And for now, He has entrusted this gift to us.

Will we have this little one forever as our own? We just don’t know yet. That isn’t important right now. Today is the day the Lord has made. He will equip us for today and we will trust Him with tomorrow. But the giving of love today, we trust, will not be in vain. Giving love to another never returns void.

 

November is National Adoption Awareness Month. There is such an incredible need for foster and adoptive families! I challenge you, rather than just giving an immediate excuse as to why this doesn’t apply to you, to sit with God and your spouse and pray about God’s heart for children who need a temporary safe place or a forever family. Ask Him how you can be a part of this incredible opportunity to love on some amazing kiddos. There are so many ways…become a foster/adoptive family, volunteer as a CASA worker, volunteer as a respite worker, take a meal to a family who is fostering or newly adopted, watch bio kids for the parents who are getting licensed, donate clothes and other baby or kid items to a closet benefiting foster/adoptive families and pray, pray, pray for those families…there are nearly endless ways to help. We couldn’t have done it without the help we received and we are so very thankful to each and every person who has freely given their time to help us get to this place.

You may also like: Room for One More and THE Question Everyone Asks

 

If you’re a foster/adoptive family or are considering it, visit Chosen Ones!  God brings special families together and this amazing ministry provides support and encouragement to make these families successful.  They have immensely blessed us in our journey and I can’t imagine having walked this road without them!

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Now Found Blog

The skipped commandment……..

I felt God woke me this morning at 5:30 am to tell me something. It was that sometimes we dont pay attention to the smallest of things. He gave me John 12.47-50, “If anyone hears does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”
http://bible.us/John12.47.ESV

I have found that many times we come to this text to prove the fact that Jesus did all of the things He did and said all of the words He said not with His own authority, but with the Authority of God, the Father. One thing that is odd to me is that we skip right over that Jesus says,”that His [God the father’s] command is everlasting life.” This is huge, With the authority of God the father, and following what the Father tells Him to do he says into existence that God the Father’s command is everlasting life.
Think about it, God’s commandments are the laws we have to live by to be in relationship with Him, right? If He didn’t set the bar high enough with the first ten, then over 300 commandments, try this one on for size. He wants us to have everlasting life. I don’t think God ever thought that we could pull that one off. What I think is that God, like the perfect parent that His, wants to be with us, his children, forever. Being the righteous and omniscient God that He is knows that if we come into his presence in the unrighteous state that we are in, we would be annihilated. The problem is that the debt that we owe because of our sin is too great for us to pay. But because Jesus fits the bill, He pays our bill, and then purifies our unrighteousness so that we may obey this commandment.

Everlasting life, that’s a pretty cool one to be a part of. Most of us look at the whole washing of our hands and some of the ritual commandments as not exciting, but I can get really excited about that one.

Remember, God didn’t give us the commandments to boss us around or to toy with us and laugh when we missed the mark. He was showing us that only someone perfect like Himself, or Himself could come before Him without being annihilated. It simply points out to all that we need a savior, that we can’t do it without His help. That’s all he ever wanted was for us to reach to Him so He could love on us. Remember that all came possible by the Son, Jesus, Jeshua, the Messiah, dieing for us.
This last part is for anyone who has not been born again, John 3:3-6 ESV

“Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

If you do not know the Lord Jesus as your Lord, please take a moment search deep in your heart and listen for the sweet voice of the Holy Spirit. If you hear God asking you to be close to him, to come to him so he can love on you, you must become born again. How you do that is simply in your own words, confessing that you can’t live up to perfection, you are flawed, and asking him to purify you through the blood of Jesus. One other crucial part is asking Him to take the reigns from here, let His will be done. Surrender your will for his, as in Jesus’s prayer, your will be done on Earth as it is Heaven. Accept it, embrace it, enjoy the Love of God. I pour blessings out over you and ask God to pour His love on you as you live in His will from this day forward.

P.S. you will never get it right, you will never be perfect, you will continue to sin, but if you always come back to Him asking for His will those sins will become fewer and fewer and you will continue to become more like him. God Bless.

Originally written 4-15-2010