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The Breastplate of Righteousness

Keep It Simple

My Current Study:

“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:13)

The second piece of the armor of God that Paul discusses in Ephesians 6 is the breastplate of righteousness.

In the armor of a Roman soldier, the breastplate served as protection for some of the most important parts of the body. Underneath the breastplate is the heart, lungs and other organs necessary for life. Therefore, if a soldier did not wear his breastplate, he was vulnerable to an attack that could result in instant death.

So, why does Paul call it the breastplate of righteousness? If we do not protect ourselves with righteousness, we open ourselves up to attack from the enemy and can fall into sin.

To be righteous means to obey God’s commandments and live in a way that is honorable to Him. Psalm 106:3 says, “How blessed are those who keep justice, who practice righteousness at all times!”

Unfortunately, our sinful nature often gets in the way of living an upright life. When we decide to live based on our own desires rather than God’s, we make decisions that are harmful to ourselves and others. Romans 8:6 says, “So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.”

How can we put on the breastplate of righteousness? We can start by being knowledgeable of God’s Word, which will allow us to understand how to live a righteous life. When trials and temptation come our way, we can base our decisions in His Word.

In addition, through prayer, we can ask God to empower us to resist living in sin and to do what is right according to Him. 1 John 3:22 says, “And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey and do the things that please him.”

As Christians, we can put on the breastplate of righteousness in our daily lives. In becoming aware of the decisions we make, we can determine whether or not they are based in God’s Word. In addition, we can ask Him to give us the strength to live righteously. Ultimately, this will allow us to withstand attacks from the enemy and live in ways that glorify Christ.

The Country Home, The Call, The Confirmation

My Dream Last Night.

It would seem that the dreaming season is back upon us.  At least the time to remember the dream. 

Last nights dream.

At the House.

My family and I were at our house, a 4,500 square foot, Ranch style, two story home, with a  completely finished basement.  A beautiful home that Jill, myself, Tyler and Jesse lived, along with Jill’s Mom and Dad.  It was on a very large property.  A very real country setting.  No real next door neighbors, to speak of.  A dirt road, with some ruts and holes in the road.  Some small ponds, next to parts of the road.  With tad poles, and even some trout in others, that were connected to a stream.

One day, in the dream, we were helping Dad and mom move into a new home next to our property, and the boys were being very helpful and wanting to carry some smaller items over to the new house.  As they went out to the road, a person on a side by side, quad, type vehicle, was speeding up the road, it was loud and scared the kids off the road.  THAT got my attention, and I yelled at the guy driving the side by side.  He stopped, turned around and apologized.  The oldest of the two was very upset at what just happened.  He is a great helper when it comes to moving things, and if disrupted, he just does not like that, at all!

Next scene:

Everyone was happy, and we were walking along next to a pond, just out enjoying the warm clear, weather.  A beautiful Spring day.  We came across an older, lady, sitting on a rocking chair on her porch, she had white hair, and was most likely in her late 80’s.

We waved at her, and she waved for us to come to her, so we did, and she wanted to share a lemonade with us all.  So, Jill and I sat down on the porch, and the boys went off to play and explore.  The lady, never did catch her name, while she was pouring our lemonade, began to speak over us.  She made the statement, “I see that you two understand what beauty means, when it comes out of ashes!”  We looked at each other, kind of speechless and kind of in shock!  Our eyes began to well up with tears, as we knew this lady was about to speak live and love over us.  She continued, “God gave you both a certain ability that not everyone gets.   Also, not everyone gets you two, but you know, deep down inside what HE spoke over you.  You both see things differently in this world, and it is going to allow you to take the abilities you have to help other people walk out of darkness into light!  It is a powerful calling that HE has placed on your lives, NOW is the time to write, release what you write and pray and watch how God uses what HE has placed in your hearts!”  I looked over at Jill, with Tears streaming down my face, and tears streaming down hers as well.  And we just sat there, in awe, praying in our hearts!

Then BAM, I woke up, with tears  streaming down my face, and praying for Jill and her family, at the same time.

I Never Really Fit In…

I Never Really Fit In

Keep It Simple
Island of Misfit Toys

Growing up, my childhood memories were filled with hanging out with my cousins, yes, but for the most part, remember being that of a bit of a loner.  Never really had the feeling that I fit it.  Felt a bit like the black sheep of the family.  Even to this day.  Been pondering this thought for a number of years, and now, people still don’t understand who I am.  Even family, and you know, learning to be okay with that.  There are people out there like me.  Found one, who will forever have a special place in my heart.  For you see, through a series of unfortunate events, some bad choice were made on my part and scared her off.  (Heart Broken to this day).

Those of you from my generation are sure to remember the 1964 animated TV special, “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

In this classic tale, Sam the Snowman narrates the story of Rudolph, a reindeer who is born with a glowing red nose. His father – Santa’s lead reindeer, Donner – feels ashamed, and uses a special cover to hide Rudolph’s nose so that he can join in the Reindeer Games. During some horseplay, the cover on Rudolph’s nose pops off; after seeing his glowing nose, the other young bucks begin ridiculing Rudolph. Rudolph is banned from the rest of the games. Rudolph runs off into the woods and meets up with Hermey, an elf who had been forced out of his job because he was more interested in dentistry than toymaking and singing. The two bond, singing “We’re a Couple of Misfits” after they discover they each have something that makes them unique. Later, they meet a prospector named Yukon Cornelius. The trio manages to flee to the Island of Misfit Toys, an island populated by abandoned toys with idiosyncrasies. Working together, the three save the day by rescuing Christmas, Rudolph and Hermey are no longer ridiculed, and the lead elf finally allows Hermey to open a dentist’s office the week after Christmas.

Wisdom is gained through challenges

I’ve always enjoyed this tale, and I can relate to its powerful message. The morale of the story is that, despite perceived flaws or differences, we are all valuable. Some of my most meaningful work was accomplished alongside folks who, like me, might be considered inhabitants of the Island of Misfit Toys.

Most of us aim for a positive and progressive career path. Unfortunately, that rarely occurs. Life is never as expected, and challenges are needed to facilitate our growth.

It’s enjoyable to see people you know who are doing well and growing professionally. It’s even better to see colleagues who’ve had some sort of professional setback (unplanned job change, poor work alignment, bad boss, etc.) and overcome the challenge to shine brightly again. I look at these folks with admiration, and I know firsthand just how difficult those situations can be.

I experienced a professional setback during my 15-year career. It was a painful and challenging experience. While I would never want to go through it again, I can look back and see the wisdom gained, and how it fueled the next level of my personal and professional growth. Simply put, I’m a lot stronger and more successful today because of that experience.

Don’t feel like damaged goods!

If you’re the one going through challenges today, or still smarting from challenges that occurred in your past, don’t let these experiences make you feel like damaged goods! You’re not! I believe one day you’ll look back and be grateful for the challenges you’ve overcome. It’s these challenges that bring out and refine our strengths. You’ll gain wisdom through overcoming these challenges, and that wisdom makes you a better candidate for the right team – a team that will value your experiences and the stronger you.

The value of wisdom on a team

Some of the most amazing professionals I’ve ever worked for have had experiences that made them feel like misfit toys. Get to know them well enough to hear their stories and you’ll most likely hear that those experiences shaped their character, determination, focus, and values.

It’s been said that “knowledge” is the facts and ideas we acquire through study, research, investigation, observation, or experience. “Wisdom” is the ability to discern and judge which aspects of that knowledge are true, right, lasting, and applicable to your life. Life’s experiences give us the ability to discern, judge, and make better decisions. When I’m looking for the right people to collaborate with, I prefer wisdom over knowledge.

Why it matters

Whether we are individually working to become our very best selves or trying to build the very best team, let’s remember the Island of Misfit Toys. In ourselves and others, let’s value those life experiences that strengthen, and human uniqueness that allows people to look at things differently.

The Healing, The Restoration, The Amusement Park & The Confirmation

So, had a very powerful dream last night.   

The Healing, The Restoration, The Amusement Park, & The Confirmation

When I woke, I was crying and praying at the same time.

The setting, Jill, both boys and I were in a place that looked like Disneyland.  A lot of activity, music, and the boys were having a blast.  Tyler was about 12 years old and Jesse about 9 years old.  Tyler needed to go to the bathroom and was getting our attention for that, as we were going from one ride to then next.  Tyler was able to easily communicate with us on what he needed, so we asked on of the workers where the nearest restroom was, and we  began to walk in that direction.  On the way there, there was a sign on one of the walls that indicated that was a special speaker, evangelist in town this evening.   I mentioned to Jill that we should check it out.  She nodded yes.  We were rushing to the restroom to help Tyler, on the way there, we passed a  lady, who seemed to  have trouble walking, here legs and arms were blue, and she hunched over as we passed her.   That was odd.  In my heart, I began to pray for her.

We made it to the restroom, and we began making our way to the next ride, on the way there, this other family was walking by us, heading in the same direction, and then I noticed that the lady that was hunched over, that we had passed earlier, was with this family walking by us, heading in the same direction.  As we were waking, struck up a simple conversation with this family, then I asked, “Would it be okay we prayed for you?”  The husband was a bit shocked, and the wife was open to the idea.  They accepted our offer, so we began to pray, Jill, the boys and I reached out to hold their hands, and I began to pray that God would heal the circulation in both their physical systems, and began to declare God’s healing over them, then other people began to join us, as they saw what was going on, as tears began to stream down the faces of this couple, it did to Jill and I as well, as I looked over at Jill, we were both crying as well.   That was done, the couple hugged us, and kept thanking us, and we were on our way.  As we walked away, Jill looked at me and made a comment, almost under her breath, “YOU Have changed!”  To which I stated, “Just doing what God wants me, “US” to do.  Tears streaming down my face as we walked, and reached out to hold her hand.   Too which, she reached back, to grasp my hand.

Then it switched to a new scene.

The Service.

We were at the service with the evangelist and can remember the worship, being peaceful, and full of excitement and expectation.  Not a show, or entertainment, but a true move of our Creator.  We were all able to worship, and enter into HIS presence corporately.  Then as the service went on, the special speaker was invited to come on stage, It was a lady speaker, she has written many books, and came to share what God has laid on her heart.  Jill and I were sitting on the front row, and as this gal began to speak, she noticed us, and stopped for a second, and said, “Just a minute, I need to find out this couples names, and why they felt led to pray for people, at an amusement park.  There is an anointing that rest on their lives, that was placed there by God, and I want to hear more about them!”

Then, boom, I woke up! Crying and praying at the same time.

What are the ‘FIVE’ Love Languages?

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The Five Love Languages Defined

Do you know the 5 Love Languages? Here they are:

l. Words of affirmation – using words to build up the other person. “Thanks for
taking out the garbage.” Not – “It’s about time you took the garbage out. The
flies were going to carry it out for you.”

2. Gifts – a gift says, “He was thinking about me. Look what he got for me.

3. Acts of Service – Doing something for your spouse that you know they would
like. Cooking a meal, washing dishes, vacuuming floors, are all acts of service.

4. Quality time – by which I mean, giving your spouse your undivided attention.
Taking a walk together or sitting on the couch with the TV off – talking and

5. Physical touch – holding hands, hugging, kissing, sexual intercourse, are all
expressions of love.

The Five Love Languages Defined

Do you know the 5 Love Languages? Here they are:

l. Words of affirmation – using words to build up the other person. “Thanks for
taking out the garbage.” Not – “It’s about time you took the garbage out. The
flies were going to carry it out for you.”

2. Gifts – a gift says, “He was thinking about me. Look what he got for me.”

3. Acts of Service – Doing something for your spouse that you know they would
like. Cooking a meal, washing dishes, vacuuming floors, are all acts of service.

4. Quality time – by which I mean, giving your spouse your undivided attention.
Taking a walk together or sitting on the couch with the TV off – talking and

5. Physical touch – holding hands, hugging, kissing, sexual intercourse, are all
expressions of love.

Out of these five, each of you has a primary love language which speaks more
deeply to you than all the others. Discovering each other’s language and speaking
it regularly is the best way to keep love alive in a marriage.

Out of these five, each of you has a primary love language which speaks more
deeply to you than all the others. Discovering each other’s language and speaking
it regularly is the best way to keep love alive in a marriage.

You Can Keep Love Alive

Seldom does a husband and wife have the same primary love language. We tend to speak our own language and wonder why they don’t respond. The reason is, they did not get the message, on an emotional level. You express your love by doing things for your spouse, but what they want is physical touch. Your spouse gives you a gift, but what you really want is quality time. You are both sincere, but you are not connecting. Once you discover and speak your spouse’s primary love language, I believe you will have discovered the key to a long-lasting, loving marriage. Love need not evaporate after the marriage, but in order to keep it alive, most of us will have to learn a second language. We cannot simply do what comes naturally for us. We must learn to speak their language, and that takes thought and effort. The good news is that you can do it. You can keep love alive in your marriage.

God’s Purpose For Marriage

What is the purpose of marriage? Sex? Companionship? Love? To provide a home for children? Social acceptance? Economic advantage? Security? In the Bible, God looked at Adam and said: “It is not good for man to be alone”. The word means ‘cut off, isolated’. God’s answer? “I will make him a helper suitable for him.” God created Eve and said: “the two shall become one flesh.” It is interesting that the Hebrew word for “one” is the same word that is used of God. “ Hear O Israel: the Lord our God is one…” It means – composite unity. Father, Son, and Spirit – God is one. Each carrying out a different role, but one. So in marriage, the two are one. Intimacy, unity, oneness is at the heart of God’s purpose for marriage.

A time to clean up messes

Last week, I heard the Lord give me advance warning that, THIS week, He would be pouring out the anointing to clean up messes.

As soon as I heard this, I felt the Lord brooding over it with a deep compulsion and travail.

I wondered why He was telling me this in advance, and He spoke to my heart that:

1) He was giving us time to pray and prepare; and

2) We would need to pray our way through this, because some of the messes we need to clean up have been intimidating us for so long.

I sent this info out by email in a prophetic bulletin (sign up for free email updates here if you haven’t already done so), letting you know that I plan to fast and pray over this word–as well as to sow a seed, which I did. You may want to join me in these things if you feel led to do so.

(Even fasting and praying one meal a day makes a big difference as long as your heart is right before God. And, sowing a seed–and naming your seed when you sow it–tells the Lord you believe/receive the word, PLUS it gets you “skin in the game” in the word–investing you fully in it, which is helpful and necessary if you want to see progress and change. Sowing a seed is also a way to thank Him in advance for keeping His Word to help you in this area. 

Today, I asked the Lord to tell me more about this anointing to clean up messes, and here is what He said:

“I am giving you the anointing to clean up messes. The anointing came on you a few days ago, and it will continue.

Clean up messes while the anointing is fresh. Do it now. My anointing in this area is not to do things for you; it is to help you do things you have been needing to do for a long time.

The spirit of intimidation has been working against you, telling you that things are too hard. But, I say to you today that it is not too hard. Really, the enemy’s attack of intimidation should be a sign to you that My help and My grace are sufficient for you; for the enemy wants to keep you from My grace and that is why he intimidates you.

But My help is here for you to clean up messes.

I will work with you and through you to do this. And although the anointing will continue after this week, I will tell you that THIS WEEK is a kairos time to clean up the messes that have been piling up, intimidating you, and frightening you.

Do not be afraid. Fear is not from Me. I am with you always, to keep you and to comfort you.

Look all around you and see; your future is gathering to you.

Your destiny is happening right now. It is no longer in the distant future; it is in the now. But how can you move forward with the messes of the past clinging to you?

Behold, I make all things new.

In order for Me to make all things new, you must cooperate with Me. You must allow the baggage of the past to literally be placed in the trash can. 

This is why I need you to declutter right now. The things of the past are old and tired. To move forward, even the things you thought you would fix or repair have to go. Even the things you have kept because of their symbolism, in some cases, will need to go.

It’s not that fixing and repairing isn’t good. It’s not that good and holy symbolism isn’t nice. But, My child, I need you to be agile. I need you to be quick and streamlined and focused. All the mess around you, in whatever area, gets in your way and bogs you down.

I have been telling you that I am doing a quick work, and I am. That’s why the mess must go.

The work that I am doing will make your head spin. The speed of the work will be intense. You will need an uncluttered mind (filled only with My Word, and not with strife or stress), an uncluttered home, and an uncluttered soul and spirit (focused only on Me) in order to advance with Me.

You have no idea how important this is to your quality of life.

The stress you have been under affects everything. Decluttering and cleaning up messes this week will make way for My Spirit to move in your heart, mind, spirit, and life in ways you have only been dreaming of–AND MORE.

This week is a kairos, opportune time.

I will always help you with whatever you need to do, but THIS WEEK is the week I have chosen for you to get these hindrances and obstacles out of your life. Notice that I said “for YOU to get” … meaning, you must do this yourself, with My help of course. This is going to take gumption on your part, but if you will simply surrender to My anointing, My Spirit will help you. He is waiting for you right now, I say; even now.

Do everything you can this week to clean up messes. Do not hold on to things.

I know you have been holding on to some things for sentimental reasons, but again I say: where you are going, there is no time for junk. Keep the things I tell you to keep, and throw away everything else. Do the things I tell you to do, and don’t do anything else. Walk the way I ask you to walk, and don’t go anywhere else.

What you do this week could change your life.

However, it’s up to you. Will you cooperate with My Spirit? Will you allow Me to help you? Will you trust Me to give you grace to overcome the things that have been intimidating you?

It’s up to you; but I promise you that I will be with you if you will but go. Go and do. Go and handle those things I have asked you to handle. Throw dynamite in your log-jam; go all-in and all-out. Clean up the messes that I am asking you to clean, and you’ll be glad you did.

Love, Papa.”

Deep breath.

Does this word about the anointing to clean up messes speak to your heart? If so, pray this with me:

“Father God, in Jesus’ name, I choose to surrender to Your help and Your Spirit and Your Word. Please help me to clean up messes this week; I choose to cooperate with Your anointing. Let it be to me, on earth and in my life, just as it is in Heaven. Let my life resemble Heaven more every moment this week, and give me grace to declutter, to let go, and to clean up everything you have asked me to clean up. Thank You, Abba Father. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

Healing and being Restored

Things have been reset in my heart and mind. Walking down the path that I’m called too.

The calling is that of making a positive difference in this world, and helping people walk out of the “HELL” they may find themselves in, for what ever reason, what ever choice that was made. A time of healing and restoration is for everyone. To allow our Creator to make Beauty from the Ashes that may have found itself on your life.

There have been people praying for me, voices that have been speaking life over me for the past year, and was not hearing with my heart, as it was overshadowed in the dark. THAT is no longer the case. There is a movie scene that perfectly depicts how this feels to me in my heart.

A gal, that I know, who is very dear to my heart, her and her family, lived in Hawaii for a number of years spoke life over me for well over a year, and now my heart hears and sees. Here is a scene from Moana that means the world to me, and can actually hear, her singing with the movie, as she sat next to me, as tears stream down our faces as we watch what was going on in the movie. A moving and very powerful scene.

Hatred being softened back to LOVE! Hardness changing to good and beauty. Yes, this is a beautiful scene and there is one gal that, it is my hope, that one day, will be able to thank her in person. Thank you for helping restore the heart of Alexander H. Atkinson, Jr. Without your prayers, this would not have happened, and the prayers of your parents and sister, and my family as well. Embarking back on the trail that was begun many years ago.

Winds of Change

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Things are about to shift once again. Can sense the winds of change and things are about to become very familiar and exciting once again.

Keep It Simple

Can sense a new door opening, have the home office set up and and ready to go. The phone is primed, I’m ready, and very excited!

Some change can be very difficult. Some new choices have had to be made, and walking in love, peace and faith once again. I say, “once again”, because some bad, personal choices were made, and ended up in a dark night of the soul time. That created alot of bad things, and hurt feelings.

My last blog addresses a part of the dark night of my soul.

This new change is going to be bring increase on many different levels. Alot of big changes. Alot of debt being cancelled out. Alot of exciting things on the horizon and a weight is being lifted off my shoulders and for that am very excited.

Only wish, was able to share it with…

Keep it Simple

More to come as things begin to unfold. 🙂

My Dark Night of the Soul – A Journey that has been extremely difficult…

Out of suffering have emerged the strongest Souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars. – Khalil Gibran

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At some point, most of us go through a phenomenon known as the Dark Night of the Soul.

Although we try to run from it, it is still there. Although we try to cover it up and smother it, it is still there. Although we try to put on a happy, smiley face and pretend it away, it’s still there.

While some of us seek reprieve in religious thought, others of us seek respite in spiritual philosophy or psychology, and still, others seek relief through addiction and mind-numbing external pursuits.

The truth is that although we are all born with Souls, not all of us know how to fully embody and integrate them into our human experience. The truth is that in our modern world, we live ego-centrically rather than Soul-centrically.

Mystics, saints, and shamans throughout history have all referred to this ego-centric human struggle in different ways. But the one thing they all had in common was their tendency to point to the need for us to consciously grow into our Divine potential.

One of these people was Saint John of the Cross, a Spanish monk who coined the term “Dark Night of the Soul” (“Noche Oscura” the name of one of his poems) based on his own mystical experience.

These days, the concept of the Dark Night of the Soul has come to be used in a much broader way. What was once a term reserved for people actively going through a Spiritual Journey, has now come to easily label anything ranging from a few bad days and a period of depression to the death of a loved one.

But what really is the Dark Night of the Soul?

First, we’ll start with a basic definition:

What is the Dark Night of the Soul?

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The Dark Night of the Soul is a period of utter spiritual desolation, disconnection, and emptiness in which one feels totally separated from the Divine. Those who experience the Dark Night feel completely lost, hopeless, and consumed with melancholy. The Dark Night of the Soul can be likened to severe spiritual depression (it’s a type of spiritual emergency.)

The concept of having a Dark Night of the Soul has existed for a long time, and spans back to the 16th century when poet and Catholic mystic Saint John of the Cross wrote a poem entitled, “La noche oscura del alma (The Dark Night of the Soul).”

Wrote Saint John:

If a man wishes to be sure of the road he’s traveling on, then he must close his eyes and travel in the dark.

Traditionally, the Dark Night of the Soul refers to the experience of losing touch with God/Creator and being plunged into the abyss of godless emptiness. The modern understanding of having a Dark Night of the Soul, however, is not exclusively a religious one, but can often mean losing all meaning in life, feeling out-of-touch with the Divine, feeling betrayed or forsaken by Life, and having no solid or stable ground to stand on.

Some of the heaviest questions we ask during this period include for example, “Why am I alive?” “Why do good people suffer?” “What is truth?” “Is there a god or afterlife?” and “What is the point of living?”

Dark Night and Depression – Is it the Same Thing?

The Dark Night of the Soul is not the same as depression.

Although depression shares many of its characteristics with the experience of having a Dark Night of the Soul, it can often be treated and sometimes cured with medications, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness practices, lifestyle changes, and so forth.

Furthermore, depression often has its roots in biological chemical imbalances and/or unhealthy thought patterns, and often comes as a result of personal loss, mental illness, physical illness, abuse, genetics, and so on.

On the other hand, having a Dark Night of the Soul is a much different experience because it is primarily a spiritual and existential form of crises that can’t be treated or cured with therapy or psychiatry. Therefore, those of us going through the Dark Night often feel an increasing sense of hopelessness, unease, and despair as we discover that no one can save us but ourselves. Inevitably, this makes us feel even more alone, frustrated and confused about the world and about ourselves.

I am intensely aware of what it is like to experience complete psychological and spiritual desolation and although the feeling seems endless, there is a light at the end of the tunnel if you just know where to look.

Finally, walking, in the LIGHT once again. Once the issue was identified, was able to reconcile that with my CREATOR, and literally walk out of the darkness, into the light.

The only challenge now, is allowing God to heal the areas of my heart that caused hurt and pain in others that I LOVE! To walk out of darkness and shame and allow the healing to take place. In the still of the night. Allowing healing to have it’s way.