Discerning God’s Voice: Part 1

Have you ever had a hard time discerning God’s voice in a situation? There are so many voices in the world today from advertisements, unsolicited advice and ungodly counsel. Normally, it’s pretty easy to discern God’s voice in these situations. But what about from people that are for you?

This is a subtle, but powerful way the enemy can attack a person.  Take today for example. I was at my neurofeedback session today and asked my doctor about a different type of therapy that the Spirit inside me feels may be an option. My doctor believed “it would totally undo” all the work I have done. So I should listen to the doctor 100%? Wrong.

This is where it is important to have a personal relationship with God. I was able to ask God, would this other therapy disrupt the work done unto this point? By being still and listening to God, the answer was a resounding NO.

Does this mean I’m going start this different therapy tomorrow? Of course not. My only caution is that even the people with the best of intentions, do not always know best. It’s important to learn how to use God’s voice as a filter for incoming information.

Deep Waters

It’s amazing when God starts working in a person’s life how He targets areas that need refining.

In my case, it was that money was my sense was my worth/security in life. I’ve spent the past two years trying to dismantle that belief to almost no avail. So how does God target that thinking? By taking away your money and having you totally dependent on Him of course! Oh the thrill of trusting God!

Just this week, I started my last two weeks of therapy called neurofeedback. Because it is not covered by insurance, it was a rather large out of pocket expense that has the bank account approaching zero.

Naturally, the old ways of thinking started firing off. “If the bank account reaches zero, I’m going to die!”  is some of the catastrophic thinking my brain goes to.

In those moments, I have to make an effort to keep my eyes on the prize: The love and joy that comes from God alone.

Matthew 6:33 states, “But seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.”

It’s easy to get sidetracked on the goal. It is those moments where I have to stand on the promises of God. I pray we all have the courage to stay the course and not get sidetracked by distractions to our goals.

The Joy of Being Broken By God

Last week, I wrote on God’s plan for brokenness and wanted to further elaborate on that post.

God’s plan for brokenness isn’t to break us and leave us there. Rather it is to show us the love, grace and mercy He has for us. The process of being broken may be painful for some. The pain is a direct correlation between how apart a believer lives apart from God.

You see God gave us all free will. He desires to be in relationship with each and everyone, but a relationship is a two way street. God will use any means necessary to break the thinking of our self-sufficiency.

He may lead you through a time where you are unemployed and wonder how you will survive. He may remove certain people that you have developed a co-dependent relationship with. He may use a situation to uncover sin in your life. He may even allow a tragedy, like the death of a loved one, in order to break someone.

You may be saying right now, “Why would I want to serve a God that takes a loved one away. That’s not fair!” Let me assure you that I have been there, but I am also reminded that God’s ways are not our ways!

It is in brokenness where God can shine light through a believer. Imagine a vessel that is completely enclosed and no light can shine through it. The only way to have light shine is to crack it. Then the (God’s) can shine through!

Prayer: Father, how grateful we are for your gift of brokenness. We thank you in advance for not leaving us broken, but to allow Your light to shine through us. Help us to not keep that light to ourselves, but to spread that light to the world. We pray this in Jesus name. Amen.

World’s Design for Life vs. God’s Design for Life

World’s Design for Life at its Best.

Go to school. Graduate from high school, Go to college. Graduate from college. Get a job. Get married. Have kids. Watch kids get married. Have grandkids. Retire. Travel a little. Die.

God’s Design for Life at its Best:

Matthew 6:33

“But seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you”

Romans 12:2

“Do not conform to the ways of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve God’s will-his good pleasing and perfect will.”

Which system are you in?

The God of Restoration

Some people have a view of God that God wants to only take from you. “Why would I want to give tithe and give 10% to God?” “Why did God allow me to be unemployed?”  “Why did God take my health from me?” These are some questions that I commonly here. Listen up.

If God is in the process of taking from you, he also is the God that will restore the very thing you thought you may have lost.

How many times have I heard stories of being people giving to God, and being blessed financially and any many other ways? You cannot out give God. Period.  How many times have I heard stories of people of losing their job to obtain a better career that has more meaning to their lives? How many times have I heard stories of losing their health, to only have it restored? Countless is the answer.  Praise God, He takes away meaningless jobs!

Job 42:10 states”And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.”

You see the Book of Job is not about a blameless man that suffers for no reason.  It is story about a man that lost everything to gain everything in his earthly and heavenly lives. It is a story that is still relevant in 2015.

In many ways, I feel like a Job.  I thought I had it all, the money, the house, the friends, the resources, etc. In reality I had nothing.  I didn’t have a personal intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.  I was a lukewarm Christian, which is a dangerous place to be in life (probably a blog post for a different date).

Like Job, I had to recognize that God is God and He can do what He wants in a person life.  As my bank account dwindles towards zero, I can’t help shake the feeling that God is about to do something that is about to do something awesome in my life. And not just financially.  In fact, I have more peace about my financial situation than I ever did when I was just hoarding my money.

God takes away from people, but He is also in the business of restoration.

Prayer: How grateful we are Father that you don’t take from us without the promise of restoration.  Thank you in advance for restoring lives, relationships, finances, and everything else.  You are the Provider.  You are the vine, while we are merely a branch.  Help us to draw closer to You in ways we could never imagine.  I pray in the power of the Holy Spirit that there is a spiritual awakening across this land.  Guide people to seek You and to find You. In Jesus name. Amen.

When God Seems Silent

Have you ever been through a time where God seems silent to you? You keep asking for something, yet seems like the more you ask, the quieter God gets.  Get ready then because God is about to do awesome in your life and you don’t want to miss it.

There are two types of responses a person can take in this situation.  One is of restlessness and worry and the other is one of peace that God is in control (Take it from me, the worry option isn’t worth the struggle).

Currently, I have placed out about 10 phone calls and have heard back from one person (And that was while I am typing this).  In the past, my thoughts would have led me to a dark place. “God why are you leaving me? God, why are you allowing this discomfort? God, I don’t know about this.”

Well let me assure you, God isn’t leaving you, He is working for you.  Let me say that again.  He is working for you. I spent about month worrying about where my next step would be after my Atlanta visit.  Then within the course of about 3 hours, God made it so crystal clear that Memphis was the next step for me.

You see what I couldn’t see was that God was aligning all the right people, facilities, resources, etc. to help me transition to Memphis. He was working FOR me.

Now when I come across a situation where it feels like God is “leaving me”, I might as well pull up a chair, a soda, sit back and listen to Ty Linder’s “The Flashes are going to Omaha!!” on repeat or some other Kent State classic on Youtube.

I now recognize he is working with me. He is doing the work, that I don’t have to.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, how grateful you are a God that works with us and not against us.  Thank you for always having our best interest at heart even when we don’t see a way.  Thank you for being with us in the fire and the flood.  We love you. In Jesus name. Amen.

It’s Harvest Time Part 2 (Grace vs. Shame)

Friday, I began the process of letting go the fear of death through a technique called EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing).  EMDR is known for being the equivalent of 12 sessions of talk therapy.  Towards the end of session, the leader asked us to imagine the doors in the back of the room were opening and asked us who we saw.

I saw Jesus and I started bursting into tears.  It was a catharsis moment that I had been waiting for so long. The next 24 hours took their toll on me.  You see this was the fear and shame I have been hanging on for so long.  The process is now under way of burning these weeds in my life.

Saturday afternoon, there was a deep root of shame in me..  You see I have a very critical inner voice that questions nearly every move I make “Should I of made that purchase?” “Should I of said that?” “Did I do this the right way?”

Now I know on a rational level, I can’t continue to live a shame-based life. However, my emotional mind hasn’t caught up yet.  I can quote from Romans 8:1 all day which states, “There is now no condemnation for those in Jesus Christ.” But it doesn’t stop the inner critic in my head.  I look forward to removing that shame in the coming weeks and replacing that with grace.

You see shame says that love is conditional.  It can be based on performance or achievement.  Grace says, “Ok Marc, you had a tough 24 hours.  It’s ok that you did and it makes perfect sense based on the facts of the day.  I love you anyways. I love you when you are at your best and I love you when you are at your worst.”

Grace is ultimately how God sees each and everyone of his children.  You could make the worst decisions for the rest of life and God would say, “I love you anyway my son/daughter.”.

Side note for my future wife, if we have two daughters, their names have already been picked out. Joy Kutylowski and Grace Kutylowski.

Prayer: Heavenly Father thank you for sending Your son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins.  Thank you that Your love is not conditional.  You paid our sins debt in full.  Thank you for replacing our shame with grace.  We love you Lord in Jesus name. Amen.

Fundraising Update: Thank you so much for your financial support to support my 6 week stay in Memphis.  Just in the first week, you helped to raise over $1,160!  Thank you!  You can continue to donate at the “Fundraiser” link at the top of the page.

Spirituality vs. Religion

My good friend Joey once told me, “Religion is for people who don’t want to go to hell and spirituality is for people who have already been to hell and don’t want to go back.”

The first part of the statement definitely rang true in my early years of life.  I went to Catholic church every week, said my prayers, gave a little, but always felt like something was missing. It wasn’t until I went into my deep depression that I realized what that was. A personal intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.

Now this isn’t something that could be obtained by going through the religious rituals that I had been doing. I needed to put my faith into action.  But how would I know that I was actually following God’s plan for my life?

Well I guess that’s why they call it faith because to be honest I didn’t know for a long time.  I didn’t know at the time that I was following God’s will for my life by walking away from that well-paying unethical job.  That was blind faith.

Matthew 17:20 states, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move.” I always find it fascinating how the parables told in the gospel ring so true even in 2015.

You see God isn’t interested in your religious practices. He isn’t interested that you go to church every week or that you skimmed through the Bible for the week.  He wants to have a relationship with you more than anything.  He wants you to be spiritual more than religious. Ultimately, He wants to know you.  The question is, do you want to know Him?

Prayer: Father how grateful we are that you desire us more than anything in the world. We are thankful that you are not interested in how perfect we perform religious rituals, but desire us to follow Your promptings in our spirit.  All you ask is that we are obedient to you. There is nothing we could ever do to repay you for what Jesus did at Calvary. We love you Lord. In Jesus name. Amen.

The Awesome Impact of Your Story

I had dinner with my friend Danny this evening and he really got me thinking.  He recently converted from Judaism to Christianity a few years ago.  He mentioned the best teachers about the Bible aren’t necessarily the best sermons, but the ones that have the best stories to tell.

It made me think about my story over the past few years and my obedience towards the Lord when everything in my head tried to tell me to do otherwise. I’ve walked away from people that no longer were beneficial in my life even though I care about them deeply.  I’ve walked away from a well-paying unethical  job.  I’ve even trusted the Lord that he would spare my life during my suicide attempt.

Then it made me think a little bit deeper about the stories in the Bible and how I relate to certain biblical characters.

I feel like I’m just a David that I am just a Kent State graduate with a political science degree being called to greatness. I’ve been told recently by several people that they see me having the same impact of a Dr. Charles Stanley. That’s mind blowing for the person that worried about a $2 cup of coffee.  I feel like a Job that I really didn’t “deserve” this suffering I have been through, but recognizing that God is God and can do what He pleases. I feel like I am an Abraham when called to sacrifice my own life, but being spared like Abraham’s son Isaac at the last moment.  I feel like a Jonah being told to go to Nineveh, but going to Tarshish (57 times in my case :)) Finally, God got my attention and I am heading towards Nineveh.

I feel like we all have an awesome story to tell.  So I have a few questions for you.  What is your story to tell?  What biblical characters are you?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, how grateful we are that You are the Alpha and the Omega.  You have already planned our days in this land.  Help us to continue to seek Your guidance for your story you are building in our lives.  Then help us to have the courage to share our story and to inspire others. I pray this Jesus name. Amen.

When All Hope Seems Lost

Today was my first day of my trauma resolution therapy and on the surface it seemed like a miserable day.  Old thought patterns of feeling unworthy, not mattering, seemed to flood my mind.  It made me feel like I was starting back at square one in my recovery. I felt hopeless again today.

But I’ve seen this deceiving trick played by the devil one too many times.  Whenever, I go through a tough day or two now, there is almost always a new level of freedom that awaits on the other side.  God is teaching me to be patient and boy is that a tough lesson I am learning.

I’ve learned this lesson out of Colossians 3:2 that says “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

This means despite FEELING like today was a bad day, I can change my perspective now.  God is in the process of refining my rough edges and that requires a little bit of pain. I am learning not to live off of my feelings, but what God says.

God says in Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding”

It doesn’t say to trust only when I feel like it or when I feel good.  This verse makes it crystal clear the pitfalls of falling into my limited mindset.

A good way to combat my negative thinking is start reciting verses from the Book of Psalms.  Psalm 27:1 has become my battle cry.  It states, The Lord is my light and my salvation of whom shall I fear?” This single verse reminds me of seven principles from God. I matter. I am not bad, I have power, I can do good, I am love, I am worthy, I am joy.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, surround us with Your presence when the enemy attacks.  Help us to not become bitter with You as You are the source of our hope and strength.  And help us to recognize the lessons we learn from You are not done out of a place of punishment, but love.  Father, thank you that we are becoming more and more like Your son Jesus Christ everyday.  And then sharing Christ’s light in the fallen world we live in. I pray this in Jesus name. Amen.