Thursday, December 15, 2016

When God first started to reach my heart

I was reading through an old blog I used to keep but have since taken offline.  My pre-Christian days blog definitely has some posts that show a heart that is DECIDEDLY a non-believing one.  Some of my Facebook posts as well.

One post, though, marks the time when I started to really question whether or not I wanted to believe and let God in, or jump off the cliff and profess once and for all that God doesn't exist. This denial of God was something that had been toying with me for quite some time, and at the time of this post I was truly on the edge of that cliff; both terrified of and considering jumping right off.  I posted this on January 21, 2013.  The post was titled "Does God Exist"- here it is:

I am really struggling with my faith and this question.  Raised a Catholic, having gone to Catholic schools through high school, and now sending my children to a Catholic school does not automatically mean that I am going to continue to believe everything I had been taught by religion, apparently.
The downfall of my belief in the teachings of Catholicism started after college.  I really began to doubt some of the "rules" that Catholics are taught to follow.  I really felt that God would know me, know my heart, and know my intent whether or not I went to church every Sunday or whether or not I confessed my sins to a priest.  I slowly stopped following the rules and traditions of the Catholic church but continued to believe in God and Jesus- at least, I thought I did.
Now- at 41 I am starting to wondering about it all in ways I have never allowed myself to admit.  I want to believe in God- I am sure I still do somewhere deep inside... but when I see the direction this world is taking, when I watch the words and actions of people who claim to be "Christians" yet they don't seem to be living or acting the way I believe God and Jesus would want them to I have to question it all.  What the hell is going on in this world?  If there is a God- then why does it seem as though the entire world is completely FUBAR and getting worse? 
To make matters worse, I send my children to a Catholic school.  How can I be having such doubts and still send them there?  That has got to be the worst contradiction in the history of contradictions, right? 
Then, in the midst of all this confusion, my incredible husband who has professed to not believe in God and had a million arguments against such ridiculousness now seems to be having a change of heart on the matter.  It's like what was in me is now in him and vice versa.
We went to a new church this past Sunday, at my request.  He has indicated a readiness and desire to find a community that would help him with his journey toward possibly finding God and Jesus and so even though I have started having my doubts I looked up some options and found one for us to try.  I sobbed my way through the entire service, much to my utter disgust in myself.  WTF. 
So now- I am faced with a very difficult journey of my own.  I do not want to abandon my believe in God.  I really don't.  My good Catholic guilt is all over this one.... and I feel as though the depths of hell are just waiting to swallow me whole just for thinking such thoughts, much less putting them on paper.  But there it is.  
I know some time back I posted here about not going to church so this isn't the first time ever that I have posted about such a topic.  It is, however, the first time I have ever admitted this struggle.  Well- I actually admitted this to Chad after church yesterday so technically THAT was the first time ever- but he is my best friend and absolute soul mate, so that doesn't really count cause he is safe.  This however, is anything but safe. 
So here I go- on a journey I never anticipated nor asked for, but one that I feel I cannot ignore.  I need to resolve this discontent and figure out where I stand.  It is critical. 
"Faith is taking the first step, even when you don't see the whole staircase"    -Martin Luther King, Jr. 

"Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother"   - Khalil Gibran 

"I believe in everything until it's disproved.  So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons.  It all exists, even if it's in your mind.  Who's to say that dreams and nightmares aren't as real as the here and now?"   -John Lennon 

A good article to read that I took the title of this post from: Does God Exist

Sunday, October 23, 2016

In Whom Do You trust?

"In whom do you now trust?""
      Isaiah 36:5

This is a pretty deep question given all the unrest in our country right now. With all the fighting, name calling, accusing, unfriending, blaming, threatening, hiding, lying, protesting, deceiving, backstabbing, justifying, abandoning, killing and idolizing.... just stop for a minute and think about this question. Who do you trust?


For the non-Christian.... really, who do you trust?  If you don't know God - and you see man falling apart left and right, who do you trust?  To be faithful until the end? To never let you down? To never lie to you? To never be weak and break a promise, or a commitment, or a law?  If you say you trust yourself then you are a far better person than I am. I can't trust myself not to eat Gluten for crying out loud- even when it makes me sicker than a dog. I can't tell you how many times I've promised myself that I won't eat any candy- and then someone has a bowl full of Almond Joys on their desk and it is 3pm and I am tired, hungry and slumping.  Down the hatch.  These may seem petty, but that is the point... if I can't keep petty little commitments to myself, what about when things get REALLY tough?


For the Christian.... do you really trust the God you claim to love and follow?  Fully?  How many of you are scared to death of Hillary becoming President and therefore are willing to "hold your nose" and vote for Trump?  Where is your trust?  Do you think God would ask you to do something against your values to achieve something?  Really?  Or is there a part of you that thinks God can't do this without you?

I am not going to go on and on about this because it has been talked TO DEATH. Many Christians are losing their minds over this election and I will not be one of them. I've said my piece multiple times in multiple posts - enough.  What I wanted to share, though, was this poignant and timely devotional by Truth For Life.   Just stop for a minute and read it, and then ask yourself in your heart of hearts- Whom do you trust?  And then ask- do you really?

"Reader, this is an important question. Listen to the Christian's answer, and see if it is yours. "In whom do you now trust?" "I trust," says the Christian, "in a triune God. I trust the Father, believing that He has chosen me from before the foundations of the world; I trust Him to provide for me in providence, to teach me, to guide me, to correct me if need be, and to bring me home to His own house where there are many rooms.

I trust the Son. He is very God of very God—the man Christ Jesus. I trust in Him to take away all my sins by His own sacrifice and to clothe me with His perfect righteousness. I trust Him to be my Intercessor, to present my prayers and desires before His Father's throne, and I trust Him to be my Advocate at the last great day, to plead my cause, and to justify me. I trust Him for what He is, for what He has done, and for what He has promised still to do.

And I trust the Holy Spirit—He has begun to save me from my inbred sins; I trust Him to drive them all out; I trust Him to curb my temper, to subdue my will, to enlighten my understanding, to check my passions, to comfort my despondency, to help my weakness, to illuminate my darkness. I trust Him to dwell in me as my life, to reign in me as my King, to sanctify me completely, spirit, soul, and body, and then to take me up to dwell with the saints in light forever."

What blessed trust—to trust Him whose power will never be exhausted, whose love will never weaken, whose kindness will never change, whose faithfulness will never fail, whose wisdom will never be overruled, and whose perfect goodness can never be impaired! You are happy, reader, if this trust is yours! So trusting, you will enjoy sweet peace now and glory later, and the foundation of your trust will never be removed."

Friday, September 30, 2016

Unashamed

I just finished listening to Unashamed by Lecrae Moore through Audible. It was a quick listen- and his message really resonated with me as a newish Christian.

Even though I did not grow up as a black man in an urban setting, and even though I did not grow up with a huge hole left because of an absent parent, the years he spent as a lost soul desperately trying to fill the God-shaped hole inside is something I can completely relate to.

Before Jesus came into my heart and filled me with the Holy Spirit, I was trying to fill that empty space with many things that hurt more than they helped. All the bad choices I made in my teens and early 20's are a testament to how lost and hurting I was. Later on, I may not have been making all the same bad choices, but my life was definitely a reflection of how little I thought of my worth as I struggled through one hopeless day after another. I may have prayed to God for relief during those years- more like desperate pleas to save me- but those were the ONLY conversations I had with Him. I didn't thank Him for ANYTHING and I certainly didn't pray for others. My "relationship" with God consisted of me begging him for things and nothing more. It's no wonder I thought He was ignoring me.

Lecrae talks about when he first realized the sacrifice that Jesus made for us. Like me, he knew the story of Jesus' crucifixion- the surface level story of Him being hung on a cross and raised on the third day. And like me, he really didn't give it much thought and certainly didn't relate it to his own life in any way. When he was finally hit with the magnitude of what this Man did for him- he found himself on his knees begging God for forgiveness.

Of course the road he took to salvation was muddy and fraught with wrong turns and detours- but whose isn't, really? For all Christians there are varying degrees of disobedience- but God doesn't see the degrees. God only sees that we are all fallen.
"For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God"  Romans 3:23
To God, sin is sin. You may think your sin is lesser than someone else's sin, but, while it is true that all sin is not equal in regard to the punishment deserved for it, all sin separates us from God: "...for the wages of sin is death" Romans 6:23.

The good news is that no matter what your sin- Jesus has made a way for each and every one of us sinners to overcome our sin and find our place in Heaven at the end of our lives.
"My God, my God, why have You forsaken me Why are You so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?" Psalm 22:1
Jesus said the words above while he hung on the cross so that you and  I may NEVER have to say them! He suffered rejection and abandonment and endured unspeakable pain and torture- all of which we deserve as sinners separated from God, and he did these things for us in order to secure a place for us in the eternal embrace of our heavenly Father. He bought you and he bought me for a price! A price that we can never repay. All He asks in return is that we love Him and accept this gift completely by repenting of our sins and trusting Him to be in charge each and every day.

If you are living in a world between believing and not-believing, I encourage you to check out this book.  You can get it here or here or check out your local library.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

How can a Christian vote in our world today?

The 2016 Presidential election is going to be different for me than any other election since I became old enough to vote. Why? Because this is the first election since I truly became a Christian- and giving my life to Christ has changed everything. Let me explain.

The first election in which I was old enough to vote was 1992. Bill Clinton won and I voted for him. Back then if you would have asked me if I was a Christian I would have said yes. I was raised Catholic, and, even though by 1992 I was no longer going to Church, I still believed in God. What I didn't do, even though I claimed to be a Christian, was follow or even give a second thought to the Ten Commandments, go to church, read or even own a Bible, or ever pray to God unless I was in big trouble and in desperate need of a miracle to fix a problem I had created through my own bad choices.

Over the next 20 years there would be five more elections and two more Presidents and nothing much changed for me. I continued to drift further and further from God while still claiming to be a Christian. I still didn't own a Bible and had never considered purchasing one. I voted a mixture of Republican and Democrat in all those elections but barely paid attention to politics and didn't have the first clue what any of the candidates actually stood for or had actually ever done. I'm not sure how I made my decisions in the voting booth, but by golly I never missed my chance to vote and let my "voice" be heard because, suffrage! Ethics, values, morals- what were those? I couldn't have articulated what I myself believed so why would I have paid any attention to what the future President believed? Were they popular with "my people"? Did they sound good? Were they "better than the other guy? Good enough for me!

Fast forward to 2013- Jesus Christ came into my life and turned it completely upside down. My heart was turned to Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit and God's never ending pursuit of me, and I've never been the same. My love for Jesus Christ informs every single thing I do now- and I seek to honor Him in every decision I make . Because of this profound change, I cannot look at the upcoming election through anything other than the lens of a Christian committed to following God's Word and commands.... and I view checking that box on November 8th as my testimony to God that I will follow His commands of me and trust Him to be in control of the ultimate outcome no matter what the immediate consequences are. What does this mean as I consider my choice? Whether or not there is any chance the person I vote for will get elected my #1 goal is to follow God, not to "win".

Ever since it became obvious that Donald Trump was going to win the Republican nomination- it has been a tough road for true Evangelical Christians. I have to put the world "true" in because there are many who claim to be Evangelical Christian, or even just Christian, whose actions and decisions do not generally support that claim. Of course we all fail at times- we are sinners! God knows following him perfectly is impossible for us, which is why he sent Jesus. Because I am no better at keeping God's laws 100% of the time than anyone, it has been hard for me to articulate well why I think supporting Trump goes against a true Christian's beliefs until I watched a video by Pastor Cary Gordon called Voting For the Lesser of two Evils. I have never heard of this pastor before this video, but found what he had to say in the video to be very much in line with what I believe is wrong with today's popular "lesser of two evils" approach to voting. I recommend you take the time to watch it, but have summarized and commented on some of what he says below.

DISCLAIMER- my audience for this post are Christians. If you are not a Christian and do not believe that God is your Lord and is sovereign over you I fully expect you to disagree on the motivation to do what is right here.  If you are a Christian but make exceptions to the things that God controls and requires of us, then I encourage you to study what it actually means to be a Christian because, in the words of Mandy Patinkin's character in Princess Bride, "You keep using that word; I do not think it means what you think it means".

First of all- voting for someone you consider the "lesser of two evils" means you are voting for someone who doesn't share your values and ethics on moral issues. When you do this, you are displaying situational ethics (voting is an ethical decision). Situational Ethics describes "ethics" that are a moving target. They are based on the assumption that truth is relative (right and wrong are based on different things depending on the person or culture and can change randomly). Situational ethics are not in line with Christianity. Christians believe that we get truth and morals from God and that they are ABSOLUTE. This means that something is true or moral REGARDLESS of how we feel about it or what the consequences from believing and following them are. Absolute truths do not change for any reason. This is not an easy concept for many to get in our culture today. I know this because I didn't really get it prior to becoming a Believer and devoting my life to Christ 3 years ago.

When something is morally relative anything goes because it is based on social, cultural, historical, or personal circumstances. What is considered wrong today, may not be wrong tomorrow. There is no way to know what is right or what is wrong unless you know the details of all the above, and when you move or when the person in charge changes then what is considered right and wrong can also change. It's tough to live in a morally relative world because you can find yourself on the "wrong" side of things without ever changing a stance or behavior that used to be considered "right".

EXAMPLE: Abortion used to be considered morally wrong in our culture. Anyone with a pulse can see that those who still consider it morally wrong have somehow moved from the majority to the minority in the last 40 years. Abortion didn't change. God's stance on murder or whether or not a "fetus" is a human at conception didn't change. The culture did due to moral relativism.

When you live in a world of moral absolutes what is considered right and wrong doesn't change, and once you learn what those things are you can be confident that they will always be that way no matter who is in charge or where you live. If you believe that God is ultimately in charge and that His Word (The Bible) gives us all the instructions we will ever need about how to live, then you also believe in moral absolutes as opposed to moral relativism. You cannot believe in God's ultimate authority and sovereignty and also believe in moral relativism- no matter how much easier it would make your life to do so. Why? Because God doesn't change. He is constant, and so are his truths/laws/commands.

So, what is a Christian to do in 2016 when our only two viable choices for President are referred to as "two evils" (one possibly being the lesser of the two depending on who you ask)? How do you decide when you are told that your only choice is to choose one of those two evils and you personally don't distinguish an "evil" by degree? I've already established that the situational ethics way of making decisions is NOT right for Christians.  For a Christian anything classified as evil is evil, period. Just like God doesn't distinguish between little sins and big sins (even if WE do), God doesn't distinguish between a little evil and a lot of evil.

"For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law." James 2:10-11

Add to this challenge the constant barrage from others in our Conservative circles that we HAVE to vote or are morally obligated to vote for Donald Trump because a vote for anyone else is a vote for Hillary.  Hear this loud and clear- there is no such thing as a moral obligation to vote for someone that you find morally objectionable. As a Christian, I take my moral direction- actually ALL direction- from God. Only from God. If you are truly a Christian I hope you are saying the same thing. To tell me that I am morally obligated to support someone who doesn't also take his moral direction from God just because he is "less immoral" than someone else is ludicrous, and you really should be ashamed of yourself for even THINKING much less saying it.

Telling anyone to suspend their ethics and values to support a "lesser of two evils" is a pagan, humanist system of moral judgment and puts WINNING above God.

Look at it this way- if you are given the choice between two extreme evils and asked to choose the lesser of the two, you would say it is a ridiculous choice and you would never choose either (the example given in the video was choosing between Pol Pot and Hitler in a voting booth). The point of that type of exercise isn't to give you an incredibly ridiculous choice that would never happen in reality, but rather, to give you an extreme choice to make it easier to see how flawed the situational ethics way of thinking is as a process for decision making. It reminds you that you have a threshold you won't cross- most people do. The problem is, when moral relativism is the mode by which you judge things, that line you will never cross moves and changes with the tide. This would be expected of a non-Christian who doesn't have God to lead where he/she should go, but if you call yourself a Christian then you need to remember that truth is not now and never has been relative... truth was created and defined by GOD. The only way we can arrive at what truth is and what we are called to do and believe and where to DRAW OUR LINE is to listen to God through His Word. You cannot truly believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and also believe that choosing the lesser of two Evils would be OK with Him. The discipline of Christianity totally rejects the false way of situational ethics and moral relativism and, therefore, so should you. No matter what the cost. There is no such thing as most moral or least moral. There is only MORAL or IMMORAL. Period. Morality is absolute and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

God has provided plenty of examples of this in the Bible. Consider Daniel and his friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. The four of them followed God and never wavered, even when they suffered for it. No where in the book of Daniel do we see them compromising what was right because it would have been easier, or because it would prevent something even worse from happening. Because of their faithfulness God protected them from the worst of the persecution- preventing them from being burned when thrown into the fiery furnace or eaten when thrown to the lions.  Now, of course there are plenty of examples of Christians not being protected from death for following God- but each example serves a purpose and as Christians we must remember that God is in charge and whether it ends well for us here on earth or not- if we are faithful to the end the reward is Heaven. That is a happy ending if ever there was one.  There are worse things than the death of your physical body.

In the video there is a cartoon that illustrates what God expects of Christians no matter what the threat. It is of a Christian during Roman times. The Christian is on his knees... on one side is what appears to be a king and on the other two hungry lions. The King says to the Christian "STOP PRAYING " .  The Christian responds "I'll OBEY GOD NO MATTER WHAT". If you were to use situational ethics here you would determine that agreeing to stop praying was the lesser of two evils, and choosing to keep praying would cause the most pain and pain isn't a good thing, right? Surely God would understand and not want you to "suffer", right?  Many Christians were and continue to be martyred for following God... the Bible warns us this will be the case but implores us to keep the faith regardless.

"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you." 1 Peter 4:12-14

"For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil." 1 Peter 3:17

"You will be hated by everyone because of Me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved." Matthew 10:22

"O foolish Galatians," [and Americans I might add] "who has bewitched you, that you turn away from obeying the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ has been evidently set forth, crucified among you?" Gal. 3:1

We aren't even talking about martyrdom here- just an election! If God would ask us to follow him even to the point of death, do you really think he is going to look the other way when you can't even vote your conscious in a private ballot? You are kidding yourself if you think he isn't watching what you who call yourself faithful will do here. I understand that you believe America as we know it will be gone if Hillary is elected (or Trump if you lean to the left)... I agree! But remember:
"And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?" Matthew 16:26
The bottom line is this: When you agree to vote for the lesser of two evils, you are saying that winning the contest is more important to you than following God's truths or following God's commands for you as a Christian. Jesus Christ did not compromise His values in order to make more friends, or convert more people to follow Him and neither should you. What He did was purchase you for a very steep price. He didn't waiver in His commitment to save you, Christian, and neither should you waiver in your commitment to honor Him at all cost.

Ask yourself this: What unrepentant sin against Jesus Christ does a Republican (or politician) have to commit before you will stop rewarding them with your vote? Both candidates have many sins that have been made public- and neither has shown any desire to repent of them and strive to do better. Sin isn't the problem- we all sin. Christians, those who have made God their King, repent and strive to do better when they sin. That's what separates us from everyone else- including our two choices for President.

Look, when you cease to really vote your values and beliefs and instead vote the lesser of two evils, then you cease to authentically lend your voice to the process. In essence your voice is silenced. Christians, do we really want our voices silenced just to "win" something that isn't really a win in the end? The voice that drives your vote should be determined by fixed universal truths beyond human jurisdiction. You will have to answer for ALL your decisions in the end. Is this something you want to answer to?
"Vox Populi, Vox Dei (the voice of the people is the voice of God) they say, and so it is, sometimes; but it is sometimes the voice of Mahomet of Caesar, of Catiline, the Pope, and the Devil" John Adams
If and until Christians stop following the party line and stop caring more about winning than of being truly represented by someone who shares their values and starts voting that way, only then will the downward spiral of our country stop. As long as we are willing to vote for the lesser of two evils we will always get evil. Always. Will change happen immediately? No- unfortunately we are too far down the wrong path for that. BUT- change will never happen at all if WE don't change first.

In the end all we can do it look to the Bible for direction and plenty of examples of what doing it God's way looks like, and what not doing it God's way looks like. God has a history of coming alongside His people to protect them against evil.... but God also has a history of letting His people suffer the consequences of their behavior and choices when they have forsaken him. You cannot claim to love Jesus with all your heart and in the same breath decide that ANY amount of evil is acceptable. No matter the consequences here on earth we are called upon to live differently, and our choices are setting us up for what is to come in our REAL home. So have faith, be strong and courageous, and stop falling in line with what others who are citizens of THIS world and not God's world are doing.

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God"  Ephesians 6:10-17

There is a write in box on that ballot. You can make your voice heard, even if in this particular election it is only heard by God. Trust Him. He is in control- not us. He will have our back and lead us home in the end so don't forsake Him now.




Wednesday, August 3, 2016

#NeverTrump #NeverHillary

I remain resolutely #NeverTrump and #NeverHillary. I flat out reject the statement that voting for someone other than Trump is a vote for Hillary (and interestingly, my Aunt said to me the other day "You know a vote for someone other than Hillary is a vote for Trump"- so both sides are using that particular argument it would seem). An A is not now and never will be a B. If I say I don't like apples and won't eat an apple, does that automatically mean I like and will eat an orange? What about a banana? One does not automatically lead to the other in any world but politics, apparently.

Additionally- THIS PARAGRAPH from this article sums up what I have been unable to articulate thus far:

"That brings us to the real reason to oppose Trump’s candidacy: the attempt to turn the conservative movement into a nationalist populist one, complete with shilling for Trump’s incomprehensible decisions and statements. If you believe that the only solution to America’s problems is true conservatism, your greatest fear is not a Hillary presidency: It’s the perversion of the conservative movement itself, the corruption of conservatism in favor of power. Hillary Clinton’s presidency does not snuff out conservatism, even though it provides a serious danger to the republic. Trump’s presidency does."

At the end of the day, the only SAVIOR any of us can rely on is Jesus Christ. Since the beginning of time Humanity's attempts to make anyone else the savior of anything have failed miserably 100% of the time. The direction that this country has taken away from God and toward human beings to save us from ourselves will be no different now. Quit looking to government to fix what it was never meant to fix. Quit giving it the power that our Lord meant to rest in each of us through living a moral life and following the Holy Spirit's leadings and this all goes away. Until then- pray, speak the truth in love, stand up for your principles without wavering, and vote in accordance with those principals and your moral conscience - not what those without one are bullying you into.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Our first duty

The below Truth for Life blog post convicted me so much I had to write about it. Some of you who have read my blog or my posts know that I am a newly born again Christian. In 2013 God finally got through to me and I have never looked back.

Prior to that I was very lost. If you would have asked me back then what I believed, I would have responded that I was raised Catholic but was unsure where I stood with God outside of being raised Catholic. I would have told you that, while I was unsure what I believed about God, years of Catholic upbringing made me afraid to not believe in God. So I lived in limbo knowing only that I didn't believe or agree with all Catholic teachings, but, since that was all I knew, it left me confused about everything else.

Oh- and since I was so confused myself but afraid not to believe, I sent my kids to a Catholic school and was actually grateful that someone was teaching them about God since I sure wasn't.

Once I gave my life to God, though, I was changed. It may be taking my behavior some time to catch up, but my heart definitely changed that instant, and it changed HUGE. Even with a changed heart, after spending all of my adult life (more than 20 years) actively avoiding God and having never read a Bible (I didn't even own one), there was (and still is) a lot of work ahead to get me to a place where I could lead my children in a Godly way.

First, I started to attend church to hear the Word of God preached directly from the Bible. Then, I bought a Bible and started reading it. Slowly, I started to learn about God through His word; a God I never knew even after 13 years of Catholic school and 18 years of church on Sundays (passive participation, I have learned, doesn't develop a relationship with God at all). I started to hear God nudging me to talk to my children about Him, to talk to others about Him, and to spread His Gospel wherever I could. That's been the hard part. Hunkering down with the Bible and reading books and commentary by Biblical scholars and teachers- that's easy compared to sharing God's Word when you feel so ill-equipped to do so, so uneducated and so new at it all.

I've been at this new life now, and it really is a new life, for almost 3 years. I have such a long way to go, but God is doing His good work in me, and I'm trying hard to cooperate (or rather, not get in His way). My children still go to a Catholic school even though I don't fully agree with all Catholic teachings. I am happy for them to be in a school environment that can still talk about God, that can still celebrate Christian holidays, and that talks about and supports moral values that come from God. 

I don't, however, still send them there as a substitute for my responsibility to raise them in a God-fearing, God-loving, Gospel-sharing home. I am FAR from perfect- God knows I struggle daily with my new heart and new responsibility as a Christian in a secular world. But I now know and embrace my role as my children's primary witness and example of the Gospel in this world. When I go before my Savior at the end of my life, it will be what I did to raise these precious gifts He gave me with a fighting chance at loving and living for Him that will be on His mind- not who I delegated that responsibility to in my place.

Here is the devotional that sparked this blog post today- hope you feel it calling you as it did me:


"Tell your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children to another generation."  Joel 1:3

In this simple way, by God's grace, a living testimony for truth is always to be kept alive in the land: The beloved of the Lord are to hand down their witness for the Gospel and the covenant to their heirs, and these again to their next descendants. This is our first duty; we are to begin at the family hearth: He is a bad preacher who does not commence his ministry at home. The heathen are to be sought by all means, and the highways and hedges are to be searched, but home has a prior claim, and woe to those who reverse the order of the Lord's arrangements.

To teach our children is a personal duty; we cannot delegate it to Sundayschool teachers or other friendly helpers. These can assist us but cannot deliver us from the sacred obligation; substitutes and sponsors are wicked devices in this case: Mothers and fathers must, like Abraham, command their households in the fear of God and talk with their offspring concerning the wondrous works of the Most High.

Parental teaching is a natural duty. Who is better fitted to look after the child's well-being than those who are the authors of his actual being? To neglect the instruction of our children is worse than brutish. Family religion is necessary for the nation, for the family itself, and for the church of God. By a thousand plots empty religion is secretly advancing in our land, and one of the most effectual means for resisting its inroads is routinely neglected—namely, the instruction of our children in the faith. It is time for parents to awaken to a sense of the importance of this matter. It is a pleasant duty to talk of Jesus to our sons and daughters, and the more so because it has often proved to be an accepted work, for God has saved the children through the parents' prayers and admonitions. May every house into which this volume shall come honor the Lord and receive His smile.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Love

Love
LOVE bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack'd anything.

"A guest," I answer'd, "worthy to be here:"
Love said, "You shall be he."
"I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
I cannot look on Thee."
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
"Who made the eyes but I?"

"Truth, Lord; but I have marr'd them: let my shame
Go where it doth deserve."
"And know you not," says Love, "Who bore the blame?"
"My dear, then I will serve."
"You must sit down," says Love, "and taste my meat."
So I did sit and eat.
George Herbert. 1593–1632


I had to read this poem multiple times out loud to find the right cadence and voice, but once I did its meaning hit me, and I was utterly amazed at the truth of it. George is referring to God in this poem, and how unworthy we humans find ourselves feeling of His love and devotion to us.

Such was His love and devotion that He always wants to spend time with us, and such was His devotion that he took ALL our sin and shame on Himself so that we would be washed clean and be able to rest in His presence for all eternity. He made us out of love, took our sin from us out of love, and pursues us even when we stray- all out of love. And what is God? LOVE.

With that in mind, read it again.