Get Out of the Box

22 Jun

Do you feel stifled: creatively, personally, professionally, spiritually? Have you been confined to the box of your own design with seemingly no way out? According to Joseph Avakian, creative genius, father, husband, and speaker extraordinaire, there are 6 strongholds of the enemy that are highly effective in crippling our progress as followers of Jesus Christ. They are:

1. Fear: Fear can be mentally and physically paralyzing. Often irrational and unfounded, fear is poisonous. It leaves us stagnant, unable to move forward. And it disqualifies us from success before we even begin.

2. Comparison: Comparison always leaves one party labeled as “lesser.” God uniquely hand-crafted each of His creations. They were not made to be compared to each other.

3. Criticism: Criticism is the byproduct of a prideful heart and an insensitive spirit to the perspective of others. This plague rapidly affects all within earshot, destroying everything in its path (leadership, credibility, positive attitudes, evangelism, opportunities, etc.) The critical tongue is a razor blade, inflicting deep wounds that can take years to repair. It also assumes that it has the right to criticize, coming from a place of superiority that should be reserved for God alone.

4. Egoism: Egoism is the ignorant belief that your way is the best way. It neglects to place value on other cultures or attempt to understand different people. It also fails to consider the Lord’s perspective on His creation.

5. Arrogance: Arrogance isolates. It puts itself on a pedestal, exalted above all others, yet at the end of the day the pedestal is a lonely place. Arrogance is a deadly cancer to community, and opposed by God Himself. (Proverbs 8:13)

6. Control: Are you a control freak? The illusion of control is a strong addiction to many. It cripples faith and attempts to do things on its own, without help from the Lord or others.

So how do we get out of the proverbial box? We must begin to move in the opposite spirit. For each stronghold of Satan there is a directly opposing (and stronger) force of God. Joseph’s 6 ways for overcoming these strongholds are:

1. Agape love: Agape love is not just any kind of love. It is the unconditional love of the Father. It is not contingent upon our performance, and it never fails. Most importantly, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18) Knowing and understanding this love makes us capable of living a life unconstrained by the paralysis of fear.

2. Identity: When you truly begin to know and understand your identity in Christ, the spirit of comparison evaporates. You were fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of your Heavenly Father, created to be a unique being incomparable to others. When we grasp our eternal identity, we are free to pursue our own unique callings, putting into practice our individual giftings and talents.

3. Exhortation: Simply put, exhortation is speaking the truth in love. Rather than producing the cutting wounds of criticism, exhortation produces lasting change because it is driven by love and founded in truth. Instead of criticizing others, take the harder step and disciple them, spend time with them, understand their perspective, and establish relational equity with them. We must refuse to take the easy way out, for only when an unconditionally loving relationship has been established can we be empowered to walk beside someone as they pursue righteousness.

4. Generosity: Generosity is a powerful warrior against the self-centered spirit of egoism. It requires you to die to yourself to freely give of your time, encouragement, forgiveness, compassion, finances, affection, etc.

5. Humility: Humility is taking an accurate assessment of yourself and walking in the truth of who you are. It does not minimize itself, nor does it puff itself up with pride. It is willing to follow the Lord wherever He may take them, doing whatever He asks along the way, slaughtering arrogance, and building a strong community based on authenticity.

6. Freedom: When we are willing to let go of the metaphorical reins of our lives and let the Lord take over, we are free to experience the incredible plans He has designed for us. When we stop trying to control every aspect of every situation, we are free to enjoy life the way God wants us to. I love the song that proclaims: “Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” So true it is.

Walking in the things of the Lord empowers us to crush the constraints of this world, live in freedom and righteousness, and progress into deeper intimacy with God and others. The Lord didn’t design us to be confined. He created us for freedom in Him. It is my fervent prayer that you would let Him let loose your chains today!

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2 Responses to “Get Out of the Box”

  1. mel June 22, 2010 at 10:30 pm #

    it’s a good teaching!
    thanks for sharing!

  2. Mike Bennett June 25, 2010 at 3:37 pm #

    Thanks Erika for sharing the six strongholds of the enemy and the stronger forces of God. There is a lot of insight and inspiration for deeper thoughts on all of these points. Turning the reins over to God is a powerful but challenging metaphor. The title of your blog reminds me of the Rebecca St. James song “Here I Am” that is now running through my head!

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