Tearing Down Strongholds

I’m convinced that many of us are still stuck because we have not followed his instructions and are not tearing our own strongholds down in the mighty power of God! A spiritual stronghold is a way of thinking that has become ingrained in your mind. We ought to ensure that He is our stronghold (Psalm 27: 1); because the mind is the stronghold of the soul; and the enemy attempts to acquire and dominate the minds of people. Spiritual strongholds are arguments, high beliefs, and thoughts raised against our Almighty God. Strongholds are based on pride and self-reliance. They lead to a proud heart, bad mental patterns, and recurring sins. A spiritual stronghold is whatever we trust in other than the Lord.

God speaks to you saying that He will give you victory over the thing that is tackling your faith. What is he telling you to do? Are you hearing Him and doing what He says? When the Lord speaks to our hearts and is trying to help us root out the strongholds of the enemy – we must be careful to TEAR IT ALL DOWN!!  All the enemy needs is a small space to get in and make you go the way that God has forbidden; to make you disobey or doubt.  Non of us are exempt — it is not easy!  But it IS the way of victory.

When God tells you to leave a relationship behind; resign from a job; move to a new locale; stop listening to a certain radio program; refrain from drinking; etc.; you can’t then look at your friends and say “well, they’re still doing it!” because His commands for you are for your victory, not theirs!

Every time I read through the Old Testament, I am astounded by the number of times God sends people in to battle – tells them to destroy it all; and then, they don’t!  It seems that there is always someone among the warriors (and often the king)  who decides that destroying it all means that they can keep some loot; leave some enemy alive; leave some spring unplugged; leave a wall standing; keep at least the women and/or children, etc.  Thankfully we are not being asked to slay people in these days – thank God for Jesus!  But we are asked to lay waste to the works of the enemy – in fact it is for that reason that He came!

Though we are in a difficult war, we may be confident knowing that we are on the winning side. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds! (2 Corinthians 10:4).

If you want the victory that He gives (as lasting victory!)  – do it His way!  He is not a man that He should lie! His promises are YES and AMEN!  He will accomplish His Word!  Do your part — TRUST and OBEY!

Lead Me, Oh Lord!

Lately, many who have the life spotlight have been doing some wicked things.  It can make you embarrassed to be American, or even human!  When you look at the actions of some, it can really make you look down on them; and raise your own self up a bit. Yes! Go ahead and admit it … you sometimes raise yourself up just a bit and see them suddenly .. beneath you. I think we’ve all done this at least once, even when we don’t realize we’ve done it.

This points out a truth about who we each are.  I’ll talk about me.  You see, I haven’t killed anyone; spoken with ill regard of anyone publicly; abused any child; mistreated anyone because of their ethnicity; etc. etc. etc.  So,  unlike those people I read about or see on the TV screen, I am holier than thou! Right?!?!  WRONG!

Truth is, only God knows why I refrain from what I refrain from and only God knows the things I do that none of you see.  My mind knows the blessing of trusting God completely and submitting to Him in all things; but my heart, without the leading of the Lord, is self serving even when my desire is to be good! Do you get what I’m saying?  You see, there is nothing in this world that can hide its weaknesses and failings like our hearts/minds. We can truly think that what we hope for is for the good of all people around us, but there is something within each of us that favors ourselves over others and the ONLY way to move past it … to have triumph over these thoughts/desires … is to knowingly and sincerely and deliberately place our hearts and minds in His hands. As for me … I do it every single day! I don’t hope in myself, not for one moment. My hope lies in the actions and love of my King.  He searches my heart and knows my true desires; He is faithful to see if there is any evil in my heart and His mercy and grace are powerful and can be counted upon to always lead me in the everlasting way.

I’m ever grateful that I have learned not to depend upon man – not even myself – to do the right thing.  I depend upon the Holy Spirit in me to bring about in my life what The Lord wills to be so.  Even when it seems that I’ve done a good thing, the truth is that it is only the work of the Holy Spirit in me.  Search me, O God! Lead me, O God! Omnipresent God – my soul hides in You!

“Search me, Oh God, and know my heart. Try me, Oh God, and know my thoughts. See if there be any evil in me! Lead me, Omnipresent God! Lead me, Omnipresent God! Light and darkness are both the same. I, in thy presence, Thy greatness proclaim. See if there be any evil in me! Lead me, Omnipresent God! Lead me, Omnipresent! If my make my bed in heaven, Thou art there! Thou art there! If I make my bed in hell, Thou art there, Oh God! Thou art there! If I take the wings of the morning, or dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea … even then I will find you there, Oh God, and my soul shall hide in Thee! Omnipresent God, my soul shall hide in Thee!” – the late, Glenn Burleigh (based upon Psalm 139)

Missing the Miracles

Legalists – those dressed in their own righteousness – are more concerned with keeping the law than relationships or encounters with the Savior. The Sabbath is to be kept holy — that is sure. But the Sovereign Lord is the maker and ruler of the Sabbath and can choose to do wonders as He will. We, too, can be preoccupied with observing our own religious laws to the point that we miss chances to see God at work. It can be any ritual at all – things like churches that refuse to hold “Sunday School” on Saturdays — or those that say we will never have evening service.

These actions are not sins, but they can quickly become what we worship — and take the Lord’s place. So much so that if the Lord works a miracle at an inopportune time for us — we will not even see it!

The religious Jews were concerned about breaking the Sabbath in this scriptural passage. They never acknowledged that a miracle had taken place.

Father – Help us not to be so caught up in our faith traditions that we forget the object of our faith! Help us to look for Your Hand doing Your work at all times — and teach us to join You in Your work. Teach us that no time is inopportune for you. You are the Lord of time, the Sabbath — the God of wonders!

Living Like an Overcomer

No matter what is happening in this broken world, I am an overcomer. So many things in the last few months have happened to make my heart heavy, sad, broken — it can be difficult to muster the strength to hold on to joy and peace. But, I have chosen to hold on to joy and peace. As believers in Christ, the adversity, grief, heartache, woe and injustice that we experience is expected. We are not citizens of this earthly realm; our home is in heaven – we are foreigners here, aliens on a journey. It would stand to reason that we will experience enmity, bigotry, bias, hate. The world will not embrace us, nor its systems treat us with fairness. Sadly, many of us, who are citizens of heaven, have forgotten our place and are treating other citizens of heaven in ways that we should not — but I digress.

As we grieve the things that happen to us on this earth, we can rejoice that we are not alone nor forsaken! We have a great High Priest who is familiar with the troubles that we face. He is limitless in His mercy and grace, and He invites us to cast our cares upon Him. We are His chosen children – He loves us and wants what is best for us. You see, the world wants us to believe that all is lost, that our case is hopeless, that the battles will never end, that we are less than worthy of a peaceful life. But God has repeatedly told us in His word that this is simply not true. We will overcome!

We can hold on to joy — because our hope does not lie in the things of this world or in the systems of this world – but in He who cannot and will not fail; in He who loves truly and perfectly; in He who is our all! Much like those three Hebrew boys who were in the burning furnace, we have to believe that there is One that sees us, hears us and will deliver us in His own perfect time. We have to choose to embrace His truth – He is our peace.

Yes, it is painful; it is unfair; it is discouraging — all of it feels so wrong; but don’t lose sight of the truth that it is not contrary to what our Lord has spoken to us. He has foretold the trials would come; but more than that, he has revealed a future victory that no world system can snatch from us. The troubles of this world can touch my flesh, and they can prick my heart, but I will not allow them to swallow my heart, and He will not let them cover my soul in darkness. I am grateful that my life is filled with friendships that include people of all races, colors, religious backgrounds. I am blessed to have good friends across the color spectrum. But even if no one down here values me, I know who made me, and I know He adores me. Man can hold me in disdain, but He is exalting me as His called out one. I am an overcomer — and I intend to live like it. Make the choice to believe His truths no matter what is happening around you, so that you can experience his peace that man cannot understand. The one who dwells within you is greater than any issue that you might face. Don’t lose heart – in the end, you will win!  Yes! In the end, He will reign!

Althea & Alonzo Edmiston served in Congo; 1902 – 1937

Althea Brown was born in 1874 in Alabama. Her parents were emancipated from slavery, and she was raised on her father’s farm in Mississippi.
She attended Fisk University, graduated in 1901.

Althea was commissioned as a missionary in 1901 by the Southern Presbyterian Church. She sailed for the Congo in 1902 and worked at a mission station run by William Henry Sheppard – another Black American Missionary.

In 1904 Alonzo Edmiston joined the mission. The next year, he and Althea got married and moved in together. They had three children. At the American Missionary Association of the Congregational Board in the East in 1906, Althea Edmonton spoke. She also spoke at Fisk University, where she gave the commencement address in 1921, and at the Missionary Conference of Negro Women in 1922. (1935). In 1922, the Edmistons worked at Mushenge, where the Congo’s royal family lived and worked together. In the future, they worked with Lulus, the Zappo Zaps, and the Luba people, among other groups of people. At the Mutoto Girls’ Home, Althea Edmiston was in charge for three years, and she was in charge of the day-school system for four more years.

Altheas’s work was as a nurse and also in the area of linguistics. Her work was excellent because she did linguistics without prior training. She ensured that a grammar and dictionary resource was published in the local Bushong language. Liturgical and educational materials were translated by Althea so that there was a small library printed for her students to read in their own language.

Alonzo Edmiston taught agriculture and maintained a boys’ home as part of the Morrison Bible School. “Am still busy getting things in order and getting business in shape to open the Agricultural School next month,” Edmiston wrote in his diary entry for July 12, 1918. “16 or 20 boys of the farm have already given their names to come in after this month is finished. I see great things in front of us for the work. Still there is no end to the hard work to be done to get the work started and keep it going”.

Althea passed away June 9, 1937 in Mutoto. Her illness was sleeping sickness and malaria.

At the end of 1940, Alonzo Edmiston came home from the mission field and settled in Selma, Alabama. For the next ten years, he kept talking about foreign missions at churches, schools, and colleges in the South. On December 5, 1954, he passed away.

Two books that tell much of the story:

A Higher Mission: The Careers of Alonzo and Althea Brown Edmiston in Central Africa