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Living in the Graveyard of the Past

As we begin to wind down another year (only 42 shopping days left until Christmas), it is only natural for most of us to look back at the year we’re leaving behind, assess the good and the bad, and try to make changes to improve the quality of life for ourselves and those around us. As someone once said, the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result”. No one is interested in repeating the mistakes of the past with their tortured consequences, yet oftentimes, we become obsessed with the past (good and bad).

Grave 1We see this when someone dies tragically, and the mantra of friends and family becomes “If only they had (fill in the blank)”.

We experience this when we make bad financial decisions… “If only I knew then what I know now”.

We even see this in worship in our churches… The tendency after God works in an amazing way to try to replicate the experience whenever we do a specific chorus or song. Instead of a fresh word or experience, we want to relive the “feel-good moments” of the past.

Regardless of the context, in order to move on with God, we have to move out of the past, and its perceived security. God is all about doing a new thing in our lives regularly if we will let Him. It reminds me of a line from the C.S. Lewis classic, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Mr. Beaver and the Pevensie children are discussing Aslan, the character that represents Jesus in The Chronicles of Narnia.

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver… “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

Moving on with God means moving out of the security of our current environment into the unknown – a place where the only thing we have to hold on to is the goodness of God.

Decide to leave the cemetery.

You’ve got to be willing to leave the graveyard of the past. Make a decision to change. The very day Israel made the decision to change, the manna stopped. They got off welfare and went on God’s prosperity plan to gain the land that was theirs! As long as we operate in a circle of unbelief, complaining, “We’re short of money; we don’t have enough to try that path”—we will make it through the day and no farther. When every decision is based on only the resources at hand, we limit our vision and focus for the future.

I’m tired of living in worry over provision, aren’t you? I’m looking for a land flowing with milk and honey. I’m ready to drink out of a fountain with waters from which I’ve never tasted. I want clusters of grapes so large that it takes two men to carry them! I want my portion of fruit from that new land. I’m ready for some milk and honey!

Grave2aIn the academy award-winning movie Coal Miner’s Daughter, Sissy Spacek won the award for Best Actress, effectively and believably portraying singer Loretta Lynn. For me, the scene most compelling in the movie is the moment when Loretta’s father dies. Loretta had just made a record, scraping up what money she had to complete the project. But when her father died, in her biography we find that she secluded herself beside his remote grave for over a day and a night, refusing to leave.

Frustrated, Loretta’s husband, Doolittle, plows up the side of the mountain with a bulldozer, as there was no road up to this graveyard. He basically says to her, “Lorettie, we’ve got all these records and we’ve done all this. You’re going to have to make up your mind whether you are going to do this singing thing or not.” Turning, he leaves her by the grave and goes and gets back on the bulldozer. In a minute she leaves the graveyard, climbs up on the back of that truck and says, “I want to sing.” He says, “What did you say?” “I want to sing.” “What did you say?” he asked her for the third time. “I want this.”

All the success and fame could have been forsaken in that critical moment in Loretta Lynn’s life. She could have sat by her daddy’s grave and mourned the past and talked about how it used to be in the good ‘ole days. “You know, one time I made a record,” she could have said. Her whole destiny, and perhaps even the history of Tennessee and country music, changed when she crawled away from that grave and got on the back of that bulldozer saying, “I’m not going to live in the past anymore.”

It is possible to sit by a past personality and miss the future. You can sit by a past hurt and nurse your pain and miss the future. You can sit by a past grievance and be so angry that you can’t hear anything about what God is saying. You can be hooked to somebody’s past failure or mistake, even if they have asked for forgiveness, that you can’t forget it and you become chained to that place in the past.

I’m encouraging you today to go to prosperity and success. I’m not just talking about a financial situation. I’m talking about true eternal prosperity: embracing a life that counts! A life that counts must say goodbye to some of the things of the past. They are not coming back. They’ll never be here again. It’s time to move on.

Don’t get me wrong… stepping into the future can be full of uncertainties and insecurities. It doesn’t always feel safe. But you know what? That’s ok, because — to paraphrase the sentiments of Mr. Beaver — the (plans of the) King may not be safe, but He is good. He’s trustworthy. He has YOUR best interests at heart.

So get up from the graveside… your destiny is waiting for you!

— portions of this post adapted from my book,  A God-Sized Future
Copyright 2012 by Ron Phillips, published by Charisma House

America The Life of Faith Through The Looking Glass

Learning To Fly

When he was 18 years old, Will was injured in during a game of hockey.

Wilbur WrightAlthough his injuries were not serious, depression crept in and Will became withdrawn, declining entry into an ivy-league school, and living mostly housebound. A few years later, when his younger brother (a high-school dropout) started a printing company, Will shook off the chains of his depression and joined his brother in his new business.

Sometimes we allow the smallest things to deter us from the life that God has for us. We allow our dreams to die because of the lies of an enemy who says we aren’t good enough. But God says that His plans for us are to prosper us… to give us hope, and a future (see Jeremiah 29:11).

Wright FlightWill (or as he was better known, Wilbur) joined his brother Orville in becoming successful businessmen and inventors. While no one remembers Will the hockey player, no one can deny the contribution the Wright Brothers made to the world with the invention of the fixed-wing airplane.

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Upsize Your Future to God-Sized

Across the WaterAccording to the World Health Organization, by the year 2020, the number 2 disease in the world will be depression. Worse than that, suicide will be in the top 5 causes of death worldwide.

In his wonderful book, Moving Beyond Depression, Dr. Greg Jartz cites four stages of this debilitating affliction:

  • Loss of the ability to experience joy.
  • Loss of hope.
  • Sense of no positive future.
  • An attitude of “what’s the use?” “Why carry on?”

All of this leads to an atmosphere of negativity and negative self-talk which manifests itself in anger, fear, guilt, and shame.

Now, I would go a step further and add one more thing to Dr. Jartz’s list: Demonic oppression. Fear, anger, guilt, and shame are normal emotions that, given the opportunity to linger (ie: dwelling on them) will become spiritual strongholds of wrong thinking, inviting demonic pressure. After all:

  • Anger drains optimism.
  • Fear steals hope.
  • Shame and guilt crush joy.

Overcoming this paralysis of hopelessness requires a change of mind and heart – a paradigm shift.

For I know the thoughts I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. ~ Jeremiah 29:11

Get Rid of Stinking Thinking

Moving from heaviness to hope requires a choice… your choice. Albert Einstein once said that “Significant problems cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that created them.” Make a decision to tear down the strongholds of wrong thinking, evict the agents of darkness, and upsize to God-sized… GOD IS BIGGER THAN YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES!!!!

Evaluate Your Situation Honestly

Only the truth will set you free. We find in the above verse a promise… God has a plan for your life!

However, the context of this verse is interesting. The people are already in captivity. God may not take you out of your circumstances, but may choose to bless you in the midst of them!

Get The Basic Stuff Right

We have to recognize that the plans of God are not fanciful schemes. In the case of the people Jeremiah was talking to, God didn’t hit them in the head with a gold brick. Sometimes, the resources and answers are not immediate. Instead, God’s desire for us may be to affect change where we are. That may mean to settle in, build homes, start businesses, grow families, and be positive influences in the places where God puts us. Just do the normal, everyday stuff with all of your heart, and watch what God can do. Do it with gusto, and expect to prosper where you are (even if it is in a place of governmental hostility and oppression).

Claim A God-Sized Future

We may not always see the end result of the promise, but God’s promises about our future is multi-generational. We may not see the prophetic word fulfilled, but our children and grandchildren can!

So what should you do to claim the future God has for you?

  • Make God’s promise your plan.
  • Make prayer a priority.
  • Make the pursuit of God’s Presence a Holy passion.
  • Realize that God’s Presence is the Pathway to Prosperity.

Friend, you have a God-sized future waiting for you! Take hold of His promises today!


A Traveler’s Journal: Final Day


We spent our last day visiting the Abba’s House Children’s Center in Cien Fuegos. We arrived to a group of smiling faces, full of energy and excited to greet new visitors. From the first moment there, you could not help but fall in love with these wonderful children. The center is run by Pastor Jose Rodriguez and his wife Anyolina, a ministry we have adopted and that now serves as the official Abba’s House representative in the Dominican Republic. The center feeds and teaches over 100 of these precious little ones every day, and we are excited about the plans for their future, and the possibilities of feeding and ministering to even more in months to come. Jeremiah 29:11 says that God know the plans He has for us… good plans for a future filled with hope. We believe that God is going to do great things through the ministry of Pastor Jose, and use him to offer a bright future to many children.

While we were at the center, a small group from the team went to “the landfill”. What they saw there broke their hearts. The landfill is an actual landfill where the garbage and refuse from all over Santiago is brought and dumped. It encompasses hundreds of acres, and is filled with flies, stray dogs, cattle (and the waste they bring), and hundreds of people – many of them children – who scavenge for food, as well as discarded items that they might be able to resell. Almost ALL of the children from the Children’s Center were rescued from this very life, but there are so many more to rescue.

After our visits, it was time to get ready for the final crusade. What had been a beautiful day became cloudy, and while we were on the way to the stadium, the bottom fell out. It poured, turning the infield of the stadium into a muddy mess. Still, it did not deter thousands from coming to get a fresh touch from God, and find healing and deliverance at the foot of the cross. I shared the pulpit with Pastor Ronnie Jr. as we told the story of Jesus healing the woman with the issue of blood, and raising Jarius’s daughter from the dead.

Pastor Ronnie gave an invitation for salvation, and many, many people prayed to receive Christ. He then gave an invitation for those wanting to be healed. Hundreds of people flocked to the stage to be prayed for. Our team, as well as local pastors prayed for those who came forward. The pastors then gathered at the front of the stage, and we prayed a blessing over about 100 of them.

This has been a glorious trip, and I want to just say a word of thanks to all of you who lifted us up in prayer. Your prayers were felt every step of the way, and encourage  us to look forward with great anticipation to what God is going to do in the future in Cien Fuegos.