Take Your MountainHave you ever been in a situation where you have done something you regretted? Where life came to a crossroads and you chose the wrong direction?
We’ve all been there, and while many of us try to keep our skeletons locked safely in our closets; that’s not real freedom. True freedom is found through God.

Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.  Psalm 55:22

When we ask God to break the chains that bind us – whether it’s sin, addiction, or failures – it sets off a chain reaction in our hearts. This is why the Word is so keen on reminding us to give everything to God and let Him take control.

There are times when we wonder if we can handle what life throws our way. We wonder if we can endure the pain, face the guilt, or handle the judgment. We tend to become so engrossed in our own problems that we forget to look for a solution.

Sometimes we have to throw our hands up in surrender and say “God, take it all.” While it may be hard for our prideful flesh to admit we have done wrong and ask for forgiveness, this simple act is what will save us.

There are many things we need to be saved from – far more than can be voiced in a simple prayer, or even the best altar call. This is why it is so crucial to keep connected with God daily. We will always face problems, but with Him by our side, we can handle anything. We, however, have to take the first step. We have to fall in love with God, whether it’s for the first time, or we simply need to be reminded of His grace. When we call on God, we can truly be free,

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.”  Mark 8:34-35

Will you take up your cross, as heavy as it may be, and follow Jesus? Because His burden is light. (Mt. 11:30)~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Kristen Morningstar lives in Claremore, OK, with her mother, brother, and three dogs. She is a freshman at Claremore High School and is an up-and-coming leader at Destiny Life Church 7YM Youth. She loves spending time with friends and family. Kristen also enjoys reading horror stories and shopping. Art and psychology are her passions.

Take Your MountainWhat Honor Means

The Bible says in Romans 14:8, “If we live, it’s to honor the Lord.  And if we die, it’s to honor the Lord.  So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.”

There are hundreds of verses about honor and respect in the Word.  When a truth is repeated that many times, it must be very important to God. If it’s important to God then we should learn what it is and how to walk it out!  We can do this by searching out relevant scriptures, studying them and then applying them to our lives.

What does it mean to honor and respect? When you look at the definitions, it’s clear the two go hand-in-hand. The Bible relates love, obedience, trust, willingness and patience as ways in which we demonstrate our honor to God. We honor with our words AND actions together.  Nehemiah 1:9, Hebrews 13:18

Who and what do we honor? Below are just a few

  • God
  • Parents
  • Those in Authority
  • Laws of the Land
  • God’s Laws and Commandments

When Jesus walked on this earth He treated each individual person with honor and respect no matter their past or current position in life.  Read Ephesians 6:1-9.
If honor and respect are so crucial in living a victorious Christian life, what could cause someone to choose not to walk this path? It can involve many reasons, some of which are fear, control, anger, judgment, and flat out disobedience.

“I don’t have to.”

“This is my life and I’ll live it the way I want to.”

“No one can tell me what to do.”
All of us, generally, are fearful that we will not get what we want or need in life. As Christians, we can either stand in God’s way, or stand in His wake. Throughout the Bible, examples abound of victories that came about when individuals and nations let God go before and make the pathway clear. Likewise we see examples of disaster when God’s guidance is scorned.

Examples of Dishonor

Adam and Eve

The story of Adam and Eve in Genesis chose to dishonor and disrespect God, and as a result caused the fall of mankind. This led to sin, shame, and blame. They were driven from the Garden of Eden, and they then had to perform hard labor in order to live. They lost the personal communion with God himself.

King David and Bathsheba

David failed to honor and respect his marriage covenant. This led him to commit adultery, lie and kill. He was then forced to cover up his bad choices. King David suffered terrible consequences of his actions: He lost a child; he lost a great warrior who was an honorable warrior, he lost blessings from God, and he had to live the rest of his life with the knowledge of the destruction he caused. It affected his children and the generations that followed.

Judas

Judas was one of Jesus’ own disciples, but he chose to dishonor and disrespect his place with Jesus.  He didn’t trust in Jesus, he believed the lies of the masses.  Motivated by money, he turned Jesus over as a criminal. His actions led to feelings of guilt, insanity and his ultimately death. He became so distraught over his actions that he took his own life.

These examples are not relegated to the Bible – they are just as prevalent in our day and age. It all comes down to selfishness and wanting our own way. Each of these people knew God, even had a relationship with Him, but still chose their heart’s desires over God’s guidance.  Dishonor keeps the anointing of God from being released.  Continuation of dishonor shuts down the anointing.

Examples of Honor

Noah

Most everyone knows the story of Noah and the ark. God told Noah to build a massive Ark. He gave him instructions as to how it was to be built and who was to be in it when the rain started. It must have seemed like a crazy idea to the local population.
Noah chose to honor and respect God in the face of disbelief and ridicule from those around him. God honored Noah by using him to save the human race as well as the animals.  God showed that all of His creations is important and thus we should have honor and respect for the same – for all of God’s creation.

Ruth

Ruth chose to honor her mother-in-law, Naomi, after Ruth’s husband died. She took care of Naomi and did not leave the elderly woman’s side. God honored Ruth by giving her a strong husband who loved and adored her and her mother-in-law.  This honor of her mother-in-law allowed Ruth to be included in the lineage of King David, and ultimately in the lineage of Jesus.

Jesus

The most profound display of honor and respect is that of Jesus himself. Living in the flesh as a human, He honored and respected the authority of God His father, He trusted in the Fathers plan, and He loved the Father and all of creation. Jesus taught His disciples through love, honor and respect and became the Savior of this world.
How to Apply this Truth

How do we apply this to our lives in this day and generation in which we live? We start by honoring God through time spent praising and worshiping Him. We acknowledge and honor Him with our every decision, action, and word. We continue by not being a slave to our desires, but rather seeking His will for our lives. We make sure that our hearts are toward the things that Christ has set out for us, to love as He has loved us.

We read His book on how to live – that’s the Bible, God’s Word. Ask God for revelation of truth in your life.   Read 1 Thessalonians 4:4 and Proverbs 15:33.

  • Honor God with your love. Don’t know what love is? Read 1 Corinthians 13 and see what Jesus says love is.
  • Honor your parents, especially when YOU decide they don’t deserve it.
  • Honor your teachers, pastors and other authority in your life; you will be amazed at the blessings that follow. It’s like giving something to someone just because and it makes you feel good.
  • Honor your friends by being a good friend. Not always wanting it your way.
  • Honor people by listening while others talk – not interrupting, but waiting. On the flip side of this, don’t always be the one who talks and won’t let others get a word in. If the conversation is only from you, then it’s all about you. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
  • Honor others by being aware of your surroundings. Open a door for someone; let someone go in front of you in line; simply smile and say “Hi.”

I challenge each of you who read this to incorporate these principles into your life and become the change that your generation needs!!  Ecclesiastes 12:1 and John 12:26!
Lesa is a wife, mother of 2 sons whom she actually gave birth to, but many more call her MOM!!  She and her husband of 24 years, Cliff, are youth ministers at 7ym.  She lives in Claremore, Oklahoma.

Braigen Hubbard

Wake up!

In yesterday’s post Christians and the Arts – Part I, I stated: “The arts are an intimate connection to people and that connection can be good or bad. The arts will tell you what the world wants you to believe, or it will tell you about God’s unconditional love for his children.” (Read Part I here.)

If you think about it, when someone conquered a foreign land, they did not go first for the Kings or the rulers. No, they went in and removed the artists, authors, musicians, and poets. Those people had the greatest influence on the people of the land. You and I, as singers, writers, dancers, and musicians have the greatest influence over our culture today.

Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine and led all the women as they played their tambourines and danced. Exodus 15:20

  You may know this, but just so we are all on the same page, here are some statistics:

  • Just last year American Academics of Child & Adolescence Psychiatry reported that the average age for youth to try marijuana (one of the most popular drugs used by teens) is 14 years old, and alcohol is tried on average by age 12.
  • Suicide is the third leading death among people ages 15-24, and the fourth leading death among children ages 10-14.
  • One in every four babies is aborted. That adds up to 1.2 million innocent lives taken by abortion every year.

Now where do people get the idea that it’s okay to take a child’s life, or its okay to smoke marijuana? “If it feels good,” and “If I think it’s all right, it must be okay,” are common thoughts going through the minds of people making these decisions. Where do these thoughts come from? These thoughts originate from the devil. But if you think about it, these thoughts aren’t always just whispered straight from the devil’s lips into our ears. These thoughts, standards of living, and behaviors have been injected into computer games, movies, TV shows, and songs. Ideas are very easily planted in people’s minds via the arts. The thought is ultimately from the devil, but these thoughts are being transported through the media.

Many people are naive of the ways the enemy gains entry into our lives. Anywhere he gains entry in us, he can also use that side of us to influence others. If Satan can convince you that it’s okay to sing that song (I mean the tempo is catchy, right?), then who’s to say that song isn’t okay for your friend who is trying to find Jesus?

But you must be careful so that your freedom does not cause another with a weaker conscience to stumble. 1 Corinthians 8:9

We, as influencers in our generation, should be careful and wise in the choices we make. This includes being wise in our involvement in the arts. The arts have become the enemy’s territory, and if you’re going to enter those grounds, be ready for battle.

Every time I dance for the Lord, I receive resistance from Satan. Every time I speak out on the Lords behalf, Satan tries to attack me. Yet I continue to find strength in the Lord and I have learned that “he who is in me is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

Now with the abilities God has given me I am choosing to influence my world for His glory. He is the one that has blessed me with life. He gave me a loving family and supportive friends. He gave me the ability to dance. Because of this I am choosing to use the love of dance God has given me to turn his children back to him.

What will you choose? What will you paint? What will you write? What will you sing? How will you influence our generation?

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 Braigen Hubbard is the oldest in a family of five girls. She lives in Claremore, OK, where she attends Destiny Life Church and is actively involved in 7Youth Ministries. Braigen is homeschooled and studies at the sophomore level. She has danced for 11 years and  established and now manages LIFE Dance Ministry.

                                                                                

Braigen Hubbard

The Influence

Art. What is it? Is it painting a canvas? Is it building a building? Is it singing a song? Well yes, but that’s not all. Art is a form of expression. Whether it is through singing, dancing, drawing, painting, building, sculpting, writing or drama, art is the way we express ourselves.

The young women will dance for joy, and the men- old and young- will join in the celebration. I will turn their mourning into joy. I will comfort them and exchange their sorrow for rejoicing. Jeremiah 31:13

The arts are an intimate connection to people and that connection can be good or bad. The arts will tell you what the world wants you to believe, or it will tell you about God’s unconditional love for his children. These arts used to be used for the glory of the Lord. Singing and dancing were used to praise and worship God. Through speech and writing the word of God was spread. Paintings and buildings were displays of God’s magnificence.

Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with timbrel and harp. Psalm 149:3

Sadly, little by little, the world has polluted the purity of the arts. Songs tell us that we should do anything to be loved. When we look at paintings they show us the destruction of this world we live in. When we think of dance we typically think of parties or the media’s rendition of dance in the form of shows like “Dancing with the Stars” and “So you think you can dance.” We have gone from David dancing before the Lord in worship and praise, to exploiting our bodies for human pleasure.

And David danced before the Lord with all his might, wearing a priestly garment. 2 Samuel 6:14

Now think. What are you showing through what you say, do, and sing? From the songs our generation sings, to the way we write and talk, we could be telling the rest of the world that we are immature, that we will do anything to be loved, or that we will fall for anything you put in front of us. Is this what we want to say, do, or think?

The next time you go out to a movie with friends, think about what you’re watching. Would you live by the standards set in the movie? Or the next time you’re jamming out to a song, think about the words your singing. Would you treat people the way this song is suggesting?

For more insight on Christians and the Arts, check back tomorrow for Part II!  (Click here to read Part II)

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 Braigen Hubbard is the oldest in a family of five girls. She lives in Claremore, OK, where she attends Destiny Life Church and is actively involved in 7Youth Ministries. Braigen is homeschooled and studies at the sophomore level. She has danced for 11 years and  established and now manages LIFE Dance Ministry.

CraigI would like to bring to light a combination of the revelation that C.S. Lewis had through his book the Screwtape Letters, and Oswald Chambers’ book, Biblical Psychology. We will look at the logical supposal that C.S. Lewis makes about the way demons truly work against our minds in ways and thought patterns that are quite foreign to today’s common teaching and preaching.

So let us examine and digest the reasoning Oswald makes as to why demons and angels are the way that they are, and how they came to be; and then analyze Lewis’ revelation on demons carrying out such a task that they have been given. Then we will look at scripture about how to combat these creatures and where we stand in the hierarchy with them.

Oswald shows in Job 4:7 there are references to beings known as the sons of God. Nowhere in the Old Testament does the concept of man being “a son of God” appear. The first part of this verse shows that there was an entire universe before the earth was conceived; it fell in the first couple of verses of the Bible: “when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy.”

This alludes to the fact that there was a time before time. It could be said: When all that existed was God and his first creations, the angels. The angels existed and fell even before man or earth was made a reality. Oswald in this book shows us a different kind of fallenness that the angels have than man has.

When man sinned, Eve was in ignorance and had a different kind of relationship with creation than Adam did. She was more of a caretaker and close to nature. Adam, on the other hand, was the responsible one who was not deceived. He was fully aware that God had commanded them not to eat the fruit – this is why the blame falls on Adam as a sin.

This sin was recognized, and was not an act of rebellion. That is the difference between man and the angels. The angels choose an all-out rebellion, eternal condemnation in which they wished to overthrow God’s glory and power. Being all spirit, they are eternally indignant and were of a different order than man. (This is another subject to be explored at a different time.)

So, Satan is in total rebellion trying to bring mankind – a matter-spirit being – into the same line of rebellion as himself. Let’s go to C.S. Lewis and examine a supposal on how they do so.

Because the demons’ fallenness gives them this desirous notion to take all man down with them, they use every tactic of folly to bring us down. That is not the revelation here; the revelation is the manner in which they use these tactics. Self pity, self loathing, and self deserving are some of the strongest weapons in the demonic arsenal.

It’s the concept of how we use our time, and how we believe that the things we have are our own. Getting us to look at a person in the pew in front of us as just someone who wears goofy earrings, instead of a person who might need prayer. Or as an individual with the potential to be a powerful man or woman of God. These tactics keep us in a sense of complacency in sin, keeping us in a torrent of misery through influencing our own decisions.

Another tactic that is prominent (even for Lewis in his day), is that demons try to keep you from realizing that they truly are that little voice in your head, and to keep reason out of your mind about certain topics. True reason leads from truth to truth about the reality that we live in, not the deformed idea that the demons are trying to get across.

In his writings, Oswald Chambers suggests that perhaps Satan even dislikes when we commit monstrous sins and fall all the way down because he knows that we will eventually seek a savior, or a redeemer. Rather Satan’s plan is to slowly, but constantly turn up the heat and boil us without our being aware. These ideas are not absolutes, but logical supposals evidenced in scripture and in our own lives. Also, as we can see in Job, the devil tries to not only corrupt our view of God, but also God’s view of us, to his very face (Job 2:1-3).

Since we are beings, as it says in Psalms and quoted in Hebrews (Psalm 8:5 and Hebrews 2:7),  that are made slightly lower than angels, because we are also made of matter and spirit, we have the tendencies of the flesh, cultured by the spirit through the medium of transformation called the soul. As we come to acknowledge our full spiritual-ness being the very “form” of Christ, then we become something that the angels cannot even understand. Oswald states that our essence and ability to become “Christ-like” is where we become something greater than the angels. Christ came down, identified with us, and released his spirit onto Christians, and His authority onto the church (John 20:21-22) and (Luke 9:1,2) giving them power to cast out all devils, cure diseases, and preach.
     You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. (2 Timothy 2:1-4).

We are human, but we don’t wage war with human plans and methods. We use God’s mighty weapons, not mere worldly weapons, to knock down the Devil’s strongholds, to break down every proud argument that keeps people from knowing God, to conquer their rebellious ideas, and we teach them to obey Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
These verses are good examples of how the early church fathers saw spiritual warfare, not as something to fear and should be worried about – including spirits – but as an area Christians can work in and thrive. Christians are the only ones who can bring the peace of God with them and let it rest on places (Matthew 10:13). God’s grace to us is something we can bring and represent to others. We are to fight the good fight against principalities and powers through Christ alone. He is the One we draw our strength from. Through prayer and faith we can move mountains; however when our faith is lacking, a demon will not be moved. Not all spirits just bow to our whim, let alone any. You must be clothed in the armor of God and wielding the sword of the spirit.

“I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18 KJV)

We do know though, that there will be attacks against the church as the scripture above insinuates, that through all his might Satan will come against it, but will not prevail. It is our job as Christians to be ready and able to fight against the passageway of hell. It is our job to make our stand, stay awake and sober, and fight the good fight.

     …now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. (Romans 13:11-14 NKJV)

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My name is Craig Iott, and I am 17 years of age. My father died of cancer when I was fifteen, and through that long process of asking questions and having doubts, the Lord has revealed much to me. I go to Claremore Christian School. I love apologetics, philosophy and theology. I am proud to call myself a Christian and will have pride in Christ alone. Be blessed.

Note from Norma Jean Lutz, Take Your Mountain Administrator:

Many teens in our midst are walking through deep grief.  Grief comes to our students for a number of reasons.  It may be the loss of someone close, it may be the loss of a relationship, or grief can come due to an upheaval in life. There are no right or wrong ways to deal with grief, and every individual deals with it differently.

One of our Take Your Mountain blog authors has for a few years now, walked this difficult road. Craig Iott, during the long illness and resulting death of his father, chose to spill out his grief in his poetry.  This venting of deep emotions allowed him to verbalize the confusion and distress.

Although I often edit student blog submissions for this site, I wanted these poems to stand as he has submitted them – as he wrote them in the darkest hours when his soul cried out to God.

It is my hope that these writings will 1) touch the heart of every reader who reads them, and will also 2) encourage other wounded, hurting, grieving teens to use writing as a way of working through the grief.

Craig submitted several of his poems. One was featured yesterday — see it here.  Featuring the second one in this blog.

Click HERE to read Craig’s own personal testimony. 

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I’m dying inside from this shame
a body consumed with never ending pain,
my life which was so bold
has been falling inside the fold,
time goes so very fast
I’m losing faith, my desire to last,
so i wish to end this failing task
to show whats underneath a shining mask,
in my mind my will shall fade
a dying heart will be made,
here perhaps is an exotic whim
that perhaps if this fate is fin
I will heal slow but sure
it sounds so bad but has its allure.

All the time he is getting worse
when i look into his eyes its a hollow curse
for him to go on much more like this
is a curse so strong as like, hell’s foreboding kiss
They say i am strong but i feel so weak
this looks so helpless it feels so bleak.
I suppose they say time time will tell
but when they say this i want to give a untimely yell
for 4 years this i have been told
Those who say, ” you should be ok by now” need a harsh scold,
I hate this so muchI just wish it would end
Thank god though that i still have a good friend,
To keep me strong every time i need
I feel so sorry for you to help carry my deed,
but forgive me if i fail
i am growing so frail
So many times goodbye is what i wish to say
but heaven beckons me to stay.

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My name is Craig Iott, and I am 17 years of age. My father died of cancer when I was fifteen, and through that long process of asking questions and having doubts, the Lord has revealed much to me. I go to Claremore Christian School. I love apologetics, philosophy and theology. I am proud to call myself a Christian and will have pride in Christ alone. Be blessed.

Note from Norma Jean Lutz, Take Your Mountain Administrator:

Many teens in our midst are walking through deep grief.  Grief comes to our students for a number of reasons.  It may be the loss of someone close, it may be the loss of a relationship, or grief can come due to an upheaval in life. There are no right or wrong ways to deal with grief, and every individual deals with it differently.

One of our Take Your Mountain blog authors has for a few years now, walked this difficult road. Craig Iott, during the long illness and resulting death of his father, chose to spill out his grief in his poetry.  This venting of deep emotions allowed him to verbalize the confusion and distress.

Although I often edit student blog submissions for this site, I wanted these poems to stand as he has submitted them – as he wrote them in the darkest hours when his soul cried out to God.

It is my hope that these writings will 1) touch the heart of every reader who reads them, and will also 2) encourage other wounded, hurting, grieving teens to use writing as a way of working through the grief.

Craig submitted several of his poems. One is featured today in this blog; a second will be featured tomorrow.

Click HERE to read Craig’s own personal testimony. 

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Every night it comes upon me
I begin to fall back to a place inside me
I can’t fight it, it comes so fast
all i have to do is make it another hour, I just need to last
If this is my curse for every night and day
Take me now, this i do pray
I tend to want to just go to sleep
But fear and pain come and i weep
My God I trust you every day
but if feels like I have just become prey

If This pain will become my strength
I will try to fight it to any length
I try and give the weight to you
But then my strength just bids me adieu
This pain its like a serpent that bites my soul
It hurts like I’m dying it hurts up to my skull

This human happiness comes again
but soon it’s fleeting and is another dead end
My faith begins to wonder if I’ll ever be free
Or is freedom from agony just a sweet memory
My life feels like it’s set on fast forward, but yet I’m stuck here
it feels as if I’m in a car that i cannot steer
I can’t run or fight, but sit and wait
I fear time is passing for soon it will be to late
Each day then each night it comes again
All the doubts and pain just keep on closing in

To those who read this letter of pain
to me this is nothing for gain
but a testament of tonights endeavor
may this not go on forever.

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My name is Craig Iott, and I am 17 years of age. My father died of cancer when I was fifteen, and through that long process of asking questions and having doubts, the Lord has revealed much to me. I go to Claremore Christian School. I love apologetics, philosophy and theology. I am proud to call myself a Christian and will have pride in Christ alone. Be blessed.