By Kelly Barcol, our Chaplain Role Champion, Owner of CrossFit Winnersville, and Pastor at Winnersville Community Center

My challenge to you tonight is this, acknowledge the baggage you are carrying around in your soul.

If you are anything like me, this makes me uncomfortable.  You see, All of my life I was told to suck it up and be strong.  That I had to be strong and so I was.  I could talk about my strengths very easily but I didn’t want to talk about my baggage. 

I want to keep my dirty laundry in the laundry room.  I don’t like to think about it, and that’s how most of us are.  I had to learn that a real man is a man that can talk about his weaknesses, his struggles, and his baggage.  

“I cannot keep from speaking.  I must express my anguish.  My bitter soul must complain.” Job 7:11 (NLT)   

I will speak out.  I will acknowledge it, express it.  I will talk about it.  What I’m experiencing down deep in my soul, I MUST let out.  And that is what I would challenge you to do even this weekend in your small Groups, to talk openly and to bring to light things that have been hidden, and let God do what only He can do.

What’s your baggage?  Give it a name. 

For so many people I know today, they have what I call spiritual baggage down deep in their soul.  Maybe you were or still are under some legalistic teaching or you’ve become spiritually judgmental.  Maybe for you, you’ve got a problem with church.  You heard something bad about church or had a bad experience, so you didn’t like church before you even came in here this weekend.  Maybe it’s with God.  Maybe life hasn’t turned out the way you thought it would and so you are angry with God.  Or maybe it is with God’s people.  Christian’s turn you off.  That’s baggage you are carrying.  All Christians are not ungodly, hypocritical, judgmental people.  

Or maybe your baggage is not getting acceptance. Approval. Getting left out. False guilt (divorce). Some hidden sin. Dealing with same sex attraction. Guilt from a porn addiction.

Maybe for you it is relational baggage that you still carry down deep in your soul.  Someone somewhere along the way that you trusted betrayed your trust, so you have built a wall up all around your heart and you don’t let people in, and you don’t talk openly, and you don’t become vulnerable. 

I read that at least one in four girls will actually be sexually molested.  One in four young girls … and the sad thing is, so often, it is done by an authority figure or a family member in their life.  That’s heavy baggage.  Some of you know first hand that kind of horror and what that does in your life.  Then, along with that comes the wrong thought processes that will go through our mind where we start to think, “Maybe it was my fault.  Maybe I shouldn’t have done this.”  

And then, so many people have some self image baggage down deep in their soul.  Believing lies like, “I’ll never amount to anything,” and “I’ll never be good enough.”  Some people feel they could never ever break free of an addiction and the baggage just seems to mount up unless we give it to God.  And that is what we are going to do.  Prayerfully and intentionally, we are going to learn how to unload baggage that is weighing us down deep in our soul.  

To get to the place where we can unload this baggage, I want to teach you to pray three prayers.  And one or more of these may actually become a consistent part of your prayer life.  

The first prayer we are going to pray is this.  Let’s just pray this out loud, God, help renew my mind with truth.” 

2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12:2  

“But be transformed.”  Be changed.  Become different.  Now, how do we become transformed?  

The Bible says, “with the,” what?  “… the renewing of our minds.”  Do not be like the world, but be changed by the renewing of our mind.  “God, help replace the lies that I so often believe with Your truth. God, renew my mind with Your spiritual truth.” 

The problem is, for so many of us, we hang on to the lies.  For so many, they are locked in and we have believed the lies so long that for us, the lies actually become truth in our own minds, even though they are not.  And we do life according to the lies as if they were true.  

Acknowledge your baggage.  

God’s truth is what sets us free. I don’t know what it would be for you, but many of you, you’ve got a wrong mindset. Maybe, for you, you don’t believe you could ever make a difference in the world. You are not smart enough. You are not good enough. You are not talented enough. You think you’re not pretty enough. That’s a lie that is not true about you. I know so many talented young men that feel insignificant and incapable of making a difference. I know people who are addicted that just say, “I just can’t get over this.”  Some  of you think your stupid and there is no way you can make to or through college. 

What’s the wrong mindset for you?  Acknowledge it and ask God to help renew your mind with truth.  Let the power of this verse speak to you.  The Bible says you were taught.  This is something you learned. 

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds…  Ephesians 4:22-23

You see in the attitude of your minds, you replace the lies of the evil one with the truth of God.  “God, help renew my mind with truth,” and all of a sudden, the baggage starts to go away.  

The second prayer is this, “God, also help restore what’s lost.”  Say it out loud, pray it with passion.  “God, help restore what’s lost.” 

In Psalms 71:20, many of you will relate with the pain in the first part of this verse,  Though you have made me see troubles many and bitter.  Some of you would say, “Oh, man, have I seen more bad stuff than I ever hoped to see.  “Though I have seen these things, God, You will restore my life again.  From the depths of the earth, God, You will bring me up.”  There are some of you that are so discouraged at this moment.  You feel so low.  You have no hope at all.  God specializes in restoring broken people. 

Have you ever seen your Dad or any man looking for a lost remote control . . .  God’s heart is so much more aggressive than that, when it comes to that which is lost.  Luke 15, Jesus tells three powerful stories reflecting the heart of God.  The first story Jesus told about was a shepherd who had a hundred sheep, and if one of them wandered off, the shepherd would leave the ninety-nine to go after the one that was lost.  Jesus told about a woman who had ten coins, and if she lost one of them, she would tear her house apart to find the one that was lost. 

Jesus told about a father who had two sons, and when one son ran off, that father would spend day after day, and week after week, and month after month, perhaps year after year on the edge of town looking, hoping, praying, searching for his one son that was lost.  And when that son was found, or the coin or the sheep, they would throw such big parties that no one had ever seen, because God cares for those who are lost.  You matter to God.  

What is it that God wants to restore in your life?  Maybe for some … the loss of your virginity?  Maybe He wants to restore your faith in Him? Or your faith in even believing that there is some good in this world?  Maybe it is that He wants to restore your hope, that you just don’t have any hope right now.  Maybe He wants to restore intimacy in your relationship with Him or with someone else that you love.

Let Jeremiah 30:17 speak to you.  God says, ‘But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,’ declares the Lord.”  God specializes in restoring that which has been lost.  What is it that God wants to restore in your life?

And that leads us to our third prayer, which is this. God, help me release my offender.”

The truth is, so many people today are carrying around baggage of bitterness and unforgiveness and hatred toward those who have offended us.  This is some of the heaviest weight we can carry around deep, deep in our soul. 

This verse of scripture has spoken to me oh, so many times, Colossians 3:13. The Bible tells us to “Bear with each other and,” do what? Say it, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.” You are not forgiving them to make them feel better or let them off the hook.  You are not forgiving them so that they can go on with their life. 

You need to forgive so you can get on with your life. . .  SO that you can free your soul! Now, how in the world do you forgive someone who did something that was unforgivable?  Well, scripture answers it. Forgive how?  Would you say it out loud?  “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”    

So, you walked in with some baggage down deep in your soul.  It’s time to lay it down.  It is time to take it to God.  “God, renew my mind with Your truth.  God, restore what has been lost, and by Your power, God, help me release my offender.”  Whatever bags you still carry today, lay it down at the foot of the cross.  I know some of you think you can’t do it.  You can’t change.  You can’t let go.  You can’t lay it down.  You’re not strong enough. You’re not godly enough.  You need to know that you have someone fighting for you.  Someone who will come in and rescue you in a moment’s notice.

I want you to acknowledge your baggage –your hurt – your resentment – your fear – Take the baggage from your heart, from deep down in your soul and turn it over to the heart of God! 

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