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.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Guns again? Alrighty then- answer me this.....

I have a question for those who are pronouncing that we need to remove the right to own certain types of firearms from those who own them, train with them, study them and use them. I'm talking specifically about an AR-15 or AK-47 due to the recent tragedy in Orlando (you know, the ones that some of you call "assault rifles" which, by the way, gives away your ignorance on this topic), but any gun that someone wants to "ban", "control" or "regulate" qualifies. So- let's just ask some pointed questions to assess your qualifications to make such a pronouncement....

1. What is your experience and background with these weapons? Have you ever shot one? Trained with one? Studied the physics of one to understand how they work compared to a handgun or other type of firearm (again if you are calling it an assault rifle then your answer needs to be NO here because clearly you haven't done any of this enough).

2. Did you know that the AR-15 is the weapon of choice for millions of honest, law-abiding Americans for home defense? How do YOU know better than roughly 5 million Americans and what gives YOU or anyone else for that matter the right to determine how people chooses to defend their home against criminals who, by the way. won't be following any portion of the law?

3. WOMEN- have you seen what happens when a man attacks a woman? As a woman- do you want to be AT LEAST equally equipped against an attack from a stronger/bigger/more powerful man so you can defend yourself and your children (personally I'd go with better equipped, but I'm not the one trying to ban guns or someone's God-given right to defend herself any way necessary so I assume you aren't me)? If you answered yes- could you tell me what would make you EQUALLY EQUIPPED? So if he has only his physical strength and no other weapons- what gives you an equal chance? Certainly not your physical strength. A knife then? How close do you have to come to a person to use a knife successfully? How do you feel about your chances of defense if you only have a knife and are faced with going toe to toe with him and your measly knife? You do understand that the police will likely not make it in time to "save" you, or are you thinking that calling 911 is your best defense? How about your children? How do you think you will feel hiding in a closet with your children while you listen to the intruder (or INTRUDERS which is becoming increasingly common) ransack your house looking for you? Remember- when seconds count the police are only minutes away.

4. Do you have a plan that will actually work to remove all weapons from the market once you disarm honest law-abiding citizens? Somehow there are still guns and gun violence in other countries that have strict gun control- if they are banned then how is that possible? How about high capacity magazines- maybe if we ban those these mass shootings would stop....well, hold on a minute.... have you ever trained with an AR-15 and practiced dropping an empty magazine and reloading (oh, duh, you haven't and have no idea, that's why we are conducting this little question and answer with you)? Do you know how long that takes? No? I'll tell/show you- not long- I can load up on 10 round mags and be just as effective as I would be with one giant magazine that holds 30+ rounds (hand guns are similar, btw). Could it be that your fear of these weapons is actually MORE DANGEROUS than the weapons themselves? I'd say yes if it is informing your decision making.

5. Violent crime sans guns- have you seen reports showing the increase in violent crime in countries with strict gun control? Gun violence may drop, but violent crime goes UP. HUGE. So- tell me- if you or your family were to be a victim of such crime and were unable to protect yourself because you didn't have proper means to do so- would knowing that at least the criminal didn't have a gun make you feel better? After all, you want to be "fair" to the criminal, right- and if all he has is a knife then it isn't fair for you to have a gun, right?

People- if you don't have any experience with this stuff- if you don't have an intimate understanding of how brutal these home invasions and these criminals are- if you have never even held much less shot and trained with one of these firearms then you do not have a valid opinion on this topic. The end.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Suicide

My heart is hurting right now for a Totino Grace family whose Sophomore daughter (in my son Ben's class) committed suicide this past weekend. From everything Ben has told me and that I have read in the comments to her funeral notice, this was a complete shock to all. Not even her best friend knew there was something so wrong that she would take her own life.

As a parent, this has rocked me to my core. Even though I didn't know her, Ben did, and it is hard not to think about your own children at a time like this. How would I ever survive if one of them decided to take their own life? How much harder would it be if there were no signs at all that my child was struggling in this way? I have so many questions, but are there ever really any answers at a time like this?

As a Christian this has caused me look for what God's Word tells us regarding such matters. Growing up Catholic I was taught that someone who commits suicide can't go to Heaven. I'm not sure what Catholicism teaches about this now, but since I seek assurance and teachings straight from the Bible instead of religion, I decided to go there for an answer. Here is what I have determined...

Scripture tells us that ALL we have to do to be saved is to believe that Jesus Christ is our Savior, that He died for our sins and rose on the third day and to receive His sacrifice by faith.
"For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16
"This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of His blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— He did it to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the One who justifies those who have faith in Jesus." Romans 3:22-26

It does NOT say that we are to sin no more. As a matter of fact it says that we are sinners, and as long as we are alive here on planet earth we will ALWAYS be sinners. This is why we need Jesus, and why His ultimate sacrifice for us was so monumental, because without Him taking on our punishment, we had no shot at Heaven.
". . . as it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one.” Romans 3:10-12

Now- if one sin existed that could keep us out of Heaven, what would His death have been for? If we could lose our salvation once we have it, what would be the point of Jesus' death and resurrection? And which sin would that be? Lying? Stealing? Suicide? How would we know? Plus, the Bible tells us that God does not differentiate between sins. He hates ALL sin- which is why Jesus had to die for us. Because God is just and there had to be punishment for breaking His laws... and since we are wretched sinners and all....

"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

Because of Jesus' death and resurrection our sins are forgiven. FORGIVEN! ALL OF THEM! That is what the Good News is all about. If we are Believers and have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior then we are forgiven and granted a pass to Heaven that no one can EVER revoke. Not ever. Our standing before God is not based on how we perform.... it is not based on works, it is not based on our own obedience, but on the obedience of Jesus Christ who was obedient in our place all the way to the Cross.

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast." Ephesians 2:8-9

Now, there is so much more to say about all of this. I believe that if you are truly saved and have Jesus in your heart, then you are also CHANGED. Changed in such a way that you live and act differently. Some people will argue that Scripture says things like "faith without works is dead" (James 2) and it does... but the context around this is truly beyond the scope of this post. The point here is that, once you are saved, one sin- no matter WHAT the sin is, cannot lose you your salvation. So the answer to the question "Can a Christian who commits suicide go to heaven" is YES. Without question. If you are truly a saved Christian based on what the Bible teaches- then there is nothing you can do to lose your salvation. Amen to that.

And if by the Grace of God you are reading this because you are considering committing suicide or have even small fleeting thoughts about it here and there, please please please go right now and read this. Right now. You are loved by a God who never forsakes us, no matter what our flawed and vulnerable human minds might think at times. Please go read it now.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Are you a live fish.... or a dead fish?

How did we get here?  Republicans are saying that we cannot allow Bernie or Hillary win the White House because it will be game over for this country. Democrats are saying the same thing about the Republican candidates (well, candidate at this point). Republicans and Conservatives are so divided that there are threats of riots and general mayhem if Trump doesn’t win, and many others, myself included, would rather write in Daffy Duck than vote for Trump (yet would never vote for Hillary or Bernie either), but when we say that we are vilified by people who say that we will be to blame if the wrong person gets into office because we didn’t compromise our values and support someone that we simply do not support.

Why is it so hard to come to agreement on what is best for this country and the people who live here? How have we become so divided on the issues of right and wrong? When did we lose our grasp of moral absolutes and instead become a nation and a world of random morality? Morality isn’t a tomato (long A) tomato (short A) issue, but you wouldn’t know it by the way we act.

We can’t even agree on how and why this country was founded. There are documents and letters from our Founders available to everyone to read, yet interpretations of these vary widely. Even the words in our Bill of Rights are subject to interpretations so inconsistent with each other as to be impossible to apply. And don’t even get me started on the Bible- there are more “versions” and more interpretations than we can even count… and even with mountains of solid historical evidence, including the incredible consistencies in a book that was written by more than 40 writers from 3 continents over the course of 2000 years there are those that claim there simply is not enough evidence to believe.

I heard a quote yesterday while listening to a Truth for Life sermon called “The Good Deposit”  that I thought was really good.  “Any dead fish can float with the current but it takes a live fish to swim against the current”

With all that is happening in this country, Christians, we MUST focus on being a live fish in order to combat the current of our culture. How do you do that? READ YOUR BIBLE- really read your Bible. Everyday, ideally, but many times a week for sure. I personally find a lot of encouragement and support in various online ministries such as Truth for Life… they have a ton of free resources, an App for both Android and iPhone, online sermons (that you can also get in the App)… and it is rooted in the Bible. Check them out.

If you call yourself a Christian and claim to believe in God and love Jesus you must feed yourself with proper nourishment, and the best food for your soul is God’s Word. End of story. If you’ve let the busyness of life get in the way (as I do often) then let this be your reminder that nothing… NOTHING is more important than serving our Lord. He is the reason we are here, and in the grand scheme of things your life on earth will be over in the blink of an eye. Don’t get so wrapped up in this world that you forget where your home really is, and what the ultimate goal of this life is. Eternity is coming…..

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Cut them off!

What do you struggle with in your quest to fight the good fight for our Lord? What sin or weakness, no matter how small or how great, worries you- that you may never overcome it? Do you possess the Fruits of the Spirit, or are you lacking in one or more?


Friends, Brothers and Sisters, I may post about my love for Jesus and my desire to honor and glorify Him, but I am as weak as anyone. This is why I read Scripture and follow the message of various teaching pastors who preach the true Gospel; to keep me focused on the only One who has the power to save me from myself. Some of Alistair Begg's messages don't speak to me as well as others, and some I don't even read. But some, like today's, are so profound and on point to me that they are worthy of being put up on my wall. This is one of those....


In the name of the Lord I cut them off!
Psalm 118:12

"Our Lord Jesus, by His death, did not purchase a right to just a part of us, but to all of us. He pondered in His passion our complete sanctification—spirit, soul, and body, that in every area He Himself might reign supreme without a rival. It is the business of the newborn nature that God has given to the regenerate to assert the rights of the Lord Jesus Christ.

My soul, insofar as you are a child of God, you must conquer all the rest of yourself that remains unblessed; you must subdue all your powers and passions, and you must never be satisfied until He who is King by purchase also becomes King by gracious coronation and reigns in you supreme. Seeing, then, that sin has no right to any part of us, we are involved in good and lawful warfare when we seek, in the name of God, to drive it out. Since my body is a member of Christ, shall I tolerate subjection to the prince of darkness?

My soul, Christ has suffered for your sins and redeemed you with His most precious blood; do not allow your memory to store up evil thoughts or your passions to be the occasion of sin. Do not allow your judgment to be perverted by error or your will to be led in chains of iniquity. No, my soul, you are Christ's, and sin has no right to you.

Be courageous concerning this, O Christian! Be not dispirited, as though your spiritual enemies could never be destroyed. You are able to overcome them—but not in your own strength—the weakest of them would be too much for you; but you can and shall overcome them through the blood of the Lamb. If you wonder how to dispossess them since they are greater and mightier than you, go to the strong for strength, wait humbly upon God, and the mighty God of Jacob will surely come to your rescue, and you will sing of victory through His grace."

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Weakness- the human condition

Today I was reading out of my Daily Devotional New Testament book that I purchased from Truth for Life. I will admit I have not been very good about reading this, and am only on January 16th... but it is so amazing how God puts exactly what I need to hear in front of me at just the right time. I was writing in my journal about my struggle with weakness. I have a hard time following through on plans and commitments to myself that require discipline and sacrifice. I spend too much money, I eat food that is bad for me and makes me feel bad, I sleep in instead of exercising when I know I will feel better if I just do it, you know what I mean. I ended my journal entry with: "Are all Believers this weak?"

Then, right after I wrote that, this is what I read (pay particular attention to the commentary after the Bible verse):

Matthew 7:24 "Everyone then who hears these words of Mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who build his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

COMMENTARY FROM THE BOOK: "Jesus explains that some who claim to follow Him are not, in fact, true disciples. True Christian discipleship is genuine when it arises from a heart and mind transformed by God's grace. Jesus wants us to recognize that this inner transformation will inevitably bear good fruit (Matt. 7:17-20). True Christians have been transformed, and their lifestyles prove it." [THIS IS THE PART I AM REFERRING TO IN MY COMMENTS ABOVE-THE PART GOD PUT RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME AT EXACTLY THE RIGHT TIME] "This does not mean that Believers are flawless. They will have to battle and turn from sin until the day they die. It does mean, however, that their pattern of life now suggests that they have started down a new path (v.14). It would no longer be accurate to describe genuine Christians as "workers of lawlessness" (v.23). They have entered into an authentic relationship with Jesus, and are now laboring to build their lives upon what He has said (v.24).

So, Christian friends, take heart! Your struggles are just a fact of your being human, and have nothing to do with your heart for Christ or desire to follow and please Him. Don't give up- remember, those who persevere/ stand firm until the end will have eternal life (Matt 24:13)

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Letter to our lawmakers- defend the 2nd amendment!

Gun owners and supporters of the Second Amendment had better sit up and take notice of what is happening in Washington. Losing Justice Scalia was a HUGE blow to us in many ways, but especially when it comes to having 2A support on the Supreme Court. Now, we no longer have majority support for what is arguably one of the most important Constitutional amendments. Four justices believe law-abiding Americans have that right – and four justices do not. The person who becomes the next justice is critical to whether or not we can continue to LEGALLY exercise the GOD-GIVEN right to defend ourselves or not.

It is no secret that President Obama has nothing but contempt for the Second Amendment. He has already nominated two Supreme Court justices who oppose the right to own firearms and there is absolutely no reason to think he will do anything different this time. That is what is so concerning about what is happening in Washington right now with his nomination of Merrick Garland. This man's judicial record shows that he does not respect our fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms for self-defense. Confirming him would be a disaster.

It is also no secret that the Republicans in congress have been a HUGE disappointment to voters since they took control of the House and Senate. I am very fearful that they will continue to be weak and wimpy now even though they are talking big about not allowing a Supreme Court confirmation to take place until the next president is in office. Yeah, sure. 

I'm not sure what difference it will make to write letters and contact your Representatives, but we cannot just sit around waiting to see what will happen. We must act and do whatever we can do to make sure this critical right is not taken away from us. Not without a fight! If you believe in the Second Amendment, if you believe GOD provided you with the right to self defense, if you do not want to be faced with either having this right stripped of you OR going against the law to continue to protect yourself, please consider being vocal about this. There are too many gun owners in America for any acts against us to succeed, UNLESS too many of us sit on our hands and wish and hope instead of acting.

I wrote this letter to my representatives today, and encourage you to do the same. Feel free to use any part of the below letter in yours, I am putting it out there as an open invitation to help you if you aren't sure what to say.

LETTER TO MY REPRESENTATIVE, MAY BE USED WITHOUT PERMISSION OR CREDIT:

Dear "insert name here",

I am writing you today to plead with you to support the Second Amendment and OPPOSE anything and anyone who threatens our Second Amendment rights in any way. 

For most of my life I didn't think very much about my own personal protection aside from locking my doors and being aware of my surroundings. After I became a mom the idea that I was somehow invincible or impervious to being the victim of violence has left me, only to be replaced by the knowledge of not only my own mortality, but also how dangerous this world has become and how necessary it is that we all have the means and ability to protect ourselves and our family members. My four children depend on me for much, and protection from those who would harm them is one of the things they count on me to do.

Just like I try to eat well and exercise to protect myself from diseases and ailments that affect all of us, so also do I train and practice self-defense techniques that include both physical and firearm training. I do not ever want to be in the position to either be helpless against an attacker or to have to rely on someone else to protect me or my children should the unthinkable happen.

As a woman I know I am at a disadvantage physically should I ever be confronted by a male attacker, armed or not. Add to that being faced with an attack while trying to protect my children, well, you can understand how that multiplies my disadvantage.

"Insert name here", please listen to your fellow "Insert state name here" who truly want to be law abiding citizens but are fearful about a future where we will no longer be able to protect ourselves from the criminals who don't care at all what the gun laws are. Disarming us, or supporting someone who will, is tantamount to telling me and my children that our lives don't really matter to you. When the data doesn't support that stronger gun legislation decreases crime or makes us safer but instead INCREASES crime and creates more victims, what other conclusion could there be when lawmakers still insist on fighting this amendment which is essential to our right of self-defense?

Thank you so much for reading, and I pray you will work to support all "insert state name here" law-abiding gun owners on this issue.


All my best to you and your family.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Separation of church and state

What do you think "separation of church and state" means? Where was this written by our Founding Fathers that it is so often quoted as though it is part of our country's Constitution?

In case you are interested in educating yourself about something before you talk about it, I thought I would post a couple of articles for you to read. The first one from The Village Church Blog is a little bit of an easier read than the second from Forbes, but I included the Forbes article because I figured some of you would just write off the first one as being biased since it was posted by a religious organization.

Just to be clear where I stand... I am against our FEDERAL government making laws outside its jurisdiction. Legalizing gay marriage is outside the Federal Government's purview according to the Constitution (states can choose to do it, though). Legalizing abortion- same thing. States can do it, the Fed can not.

Yes, as a Christian I believe that going against God and His Word is a huge mistake, which both of these things do... but my biggest beef is the complete abuse of power that our Federal Government has exhibited over the years. If you choose to violate God's Word and take your chances with Hell I can't stop you. Our Federal Government, though, has no business legislating these things for the whole country ACCORDING TO THE CONSTITUTION which very clearly limits its power.

Come on, people. Be smarter than this. If you are going to quote something and say it is part of the Constitution and then ignore things that are actually part of the Constitution, you are just contributing to the dumbing down of our country. Do some research on what our Constitution really says and allows before you throw your support at something. If you want legal gay marriage and legal abortion, then work with your STATE GOVERNMENT to make that happen, the way the founders intended and take "separation of church and state" out of it.




Faith vs. Knowledge

This daily devotional by Truth for Life really spoke to my heart. As I read this, I kept wondering who “she” was. I looked at the Bible verse listed before the devotional and went to my Bible to see if I could find out who the “she” is that is being referred to here. Go ahead and quickly go read that devotional and come back....

I had to go back to verse 40 of Luke 8 to learn that “she” was just a woman in a crowd. Jesus was on His way to a man named Jairus’ house to see his dying daughter when a woman in the crowd touched Jesus. She had been suffering with an ailment for 12 years that no one could cure, and upon touching Jesus she was instantly healed. When He tried to find out who in the crowd had just received His healing touch no one would admit it. Finally, the woman fell down before Him and admitted that it was she who touched Him, because, even though she was afraid that she might be wrong, her faith led her to take the chance that Jesus could heal her.

As a new believer who came to faith before I came to knowledge, this devotional really speaks to me. How many of us struggle to feel worthy because we don’t live the perfect Christian life we think God wants? How many of us struggle to feel worthy because we don’t really understand the teachings of the Bible yet, or can’t refute criticism leveled against us by non-believers? How many of us wonder if God will change His mind about us if we mess up, or don’t engage in enough charitable work on behalf of His Kingdom? If any of you can affirm these struggles (or others) in your own life as I can, I ask you…. How many of you have unrelenting faith and love for our Lord? If you can also affirm the truth of your faith and love then that is all you need my friend. Brothers and Sisters in Christ, our
FAITH always saves us instantly, and is always prized before knowledge.

"And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him." Hebrews 11:6

Thursday, March 10, 2016

There will be suffering in this world....

Do you suffer from fear and anxiety over worldly pain? Over the fear of loss? For what seems like no reason at all? You are not alone- most of us do at some time in our lives, even if we don't share it publicly.

I went through an extremely difficult period in my life prior to giving my life to Jesus. Years and years of difficulty. Pain and anxiety and fear that I would not wish upon anyone for any reason. When I look back on it now, I can't believe I went through that all alone without God by my side.

Um, that's not quite right. I know now that God always walks beside us, but when we don't accept Him, when we don't call on Him and pray to Him and have a relationship with Him, we flounder and can't take full advantage of His power and the grace of the Holy Spirit which strengthens us and protects us from the fire of life. He was there with me, wanting me to call out to Him and willingly be His child. I suffered terribly, much more terribly than I needed to, but I knew about Jesus and chose not to call Him to me. I chose to suffer alone. I didn't believe.

Now that I have accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior and work to be in relationship with Him every single day, I have such a different perspective on suffering. Instead of being angry and defeated by it, I am humbled and girded by Jesus' incredible love for us, demonstrated by His unimaginable sacrifice on the cross. He suffered and died for me so that I could have hope and faith in an eternity where suffering doesn't exist. He came to us as a man, fully man, to experience what we experience and demonstrate through His actions that we can survive even the worst pain and suffering, because not only did HE do it, but by HIS doing it He made a way through the fire for us.

If you are suffering right now and can't see a way out or seem to find any relief from the pain, I ask you- do you believe in God's strength to heal you? Do you believe in His promise that, while life here on earth may be hard and terribly unfair, He has a place for you in His Kingdom where there will be no more suffering and no more pain? Do you really believe? Do you pray, and call out to Him and call on the prayers and love and strength of other Believers to lift you up when you can barely raise your head? I believe that Jesus has an ARMY here on earth. An army being prepared to do His work; to be His hands and feet (and heart and head) until He returns. 

You do not have to walk through this battle alone. Praying to God is incredibly important. Being in relationship with Him where you go to Him with praise and with pain; where you talk to Him about your hopes and your fears; where you pray for others as much as you pray for yourself. All this is important. BUT- when you are stuck in the depths of despair, when you are not sure if you have enough breath left in you to keep you alive much less to pray, when you have been dealt a blow that would crush even the strongest most faithful believer, that's when you call on God's army. It may be me, it may be a friend, a neighbor, a co-worker, or someone you haven't spoken to in years. It doesn't matter- if you know someone who is a warrior for God- who has publicly proclaimed his or her love for our Almighty Father- call on that person right now to pray for you and WITH you during your time of need. We are Brothers and Sisters in Christ for a reason. God has filled us with His Spirit for just such a time as this.

"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us."   Romans 8:18


"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.                              2 Corinthians 1:3-8

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Daily Bible: Numbers 11: 1-15

Numbers 11:1-15 Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. When the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to the Lord and the fire died down. So that place was called Taberah, because fire from the Lord had burned among them. The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!”

The manna was like coriander seed and looked like resin. The people went around gathering it, and then ground it in a hand mill or crushed it in a mortar. They cooked it in a pot or made it into loaves. And it tasted like something made with olive oil. When the dew settled on the camp at night, the manna also came down.

Moses heard the people of every family wailing at the entrance to their tents. The Lord became exceedingly angry, and Moses was troubled. He asked the Lord, “Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their ancestors? Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.”

Commentary from The Life Application Study Bible:

"The Israelites complained, and then Moses complained. But God responded positively to Moses and negatively to the rest of the people. Why? The people complained TO ONE ANOTHER, and nothing was accomplished . Moses took his complaint to GOD, Who could solve any problem. We need to learn to take our problems to the One who can do something about them."

"Dissatisfaction comes when our attention shifts from what we have to what we don't have. The people of Israel didn't seem to notice what God was doing for them- setting them free, making them a nation, giving them a new land- because they were so wrapped up in what God wasn't doing for them. They could think of nothing but the delicious Egyptian food they had left behind. Somehow they forgot that the brutal whip of Egyptian slavery was the cost of eating that food. Before we judge the Israelites too harshly, it's helpful to think about what occupies our attention most of the time. Are we grateful for what God has given us, or are we always thinking about what we would like to have? We should not allow our unfulfilled desires to cause us to forget God's gifts of life, food, health, work, and friends."

"Every morning the Israelites drew back their tent doors and witnessed a miracle. Covering the ground was pale, yellow, fluffy manna- food from heaven. But soon that wasn't enough. Feeling it was their right to have more, they forgot what they already had. They didn't ask God to fill their need; instead they demanded meat and they stopped trusting God to care for them..... when you ask God for something, He may grant your request. But if you approach Him with a sinful attitude, getting what you want may prove costly."

Credit: Bible verse from the Bible app- NIV. Commentary from The Life Application Study Bible- NKJV

Monday, February 1, 2016

A Christian FIRST

In the almost 3 years since I committed my life to Jesus I have been on an almost obsessive journey to know Him more.  I have spent hours and hours reading my Bible, doing studies and learning about what God calls me to do as His loving and committed child. I love spending time with the Lord.

I have written a lot about how I see our world today through the lens of a born-again Christ follower. Some of what I have written has been strong in admonishing what I see as the drastic falling away of our country from it's Christian roots.  Some of what I have written has been with the intent of sharing out loud what I have been learning to help solidify those learnings in my own mind.  Most of what I have shared has been political in nature, focusing on what is going wrong with our country or with our legal system as it relates to God's word.

I found myself getting sucked into the emotion of it all; when the Supreme Court changed the definition of marriage, I started writing about how this is against God (on Facebook). When President Obama said that we will continue to bring Syrian refugees into this country even in light of what is happen with radical Islam I wrote about our responsibility to protect and take care of our citizens first.  When "gun violence" became the topic du jour, I wrote about God's calling to us to protect and defend ourselves against evil and those who would kill us here and here.

To those who read what I have been writing, you probably have formed your own opinion about me. If asked to describe me you might start to use words that describe a political leaning due to some of the things I have posted (conservative, republican, right-winger, idiot, intolerant, racist).  That's fine, we all form opinions about others based on the available information about them.  Here is how I would describe myself, though:

I am a Christian FIRST.

Everything else that makes me who I am exists after this one fact. I am a Christian. My existence as a human being is completely and wholly because God created me.  The world and everything in it exists solely because God created it. There is absolute truth and morality because God created them. Everything else comes from this.

So much of what gets my blood pressure up in this country has to do with what I see as deviations by both our governing body and our popular culture from God's laws.  Now that we are in the thick of a Presidential election year I can't escape evidence of this.  It also happens to be the culmination of a few years of deep soul searching about my place as a Christian and the very first time I have EVER paid this much attention to politics (by far) so my blood pressure is up A LOT (Lord, help me with this).

Now, I'm not saying I have this all figured out.  I'm sure there are Christians who read what I have written and think I a misguided.  Given my newness at this I would have to say that they could be right on some things. One thing I do not think I am wrong about, though, is my absolute conviction that our next President needs at a MINIMUM to be a true Believer.
"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders".  Isaiah 9:6
The Bible tells us JESUS is ruler of everything; not man.  To the extent that God tells us to be subject to a human government in Romans 13, He also tells us that this government should follow God's authority as it forms its basis for governing, saying "the authorities that exist have been established by God".  So many times I've read articles and blog posts by people that take this chapter completely literally and without context and say that no matter what if the Government rules it then according to God we are subject to it.  No no no! There are multiple examples in history about God's wrath coming down on nations because they fell away from Him.  The government of those nations started making choices and passing laws permitting things that were decidedly against God and His word, and thus God destroyed them.  Babylon, anyone?

Nations will come and go, as has been exhibited by thousands of years of history, but PRINCIPLES endure. What immutable principles has this country stood by over the centuries since we were formed? Any? I am having trouble thinking of a single one that hasn't been amended and/or mutilated, can you? Without a Christian in the highest office we will continue UNABATED down this destructive path.

I'll be the first to admit that I did not always have a core set of values and principles.  When my husband first asked me years ago if I believed that there were moral absolutes I could not comfortably answer him because I lived in a world filled with gray and conditional thinking. I could say something might be wrong for me but how could I say that absolutely for everyone?  Was that even my place?

Then, I accepted Jesus into my life and the Holy Spirit filled my heart and soul.  I am CHANGED. With that change has come a changed way of thinking and a solid belief system based on Biblical teaching and God's laws.  Yes there are moral absolutes and no one, not even the government, can change them.

This is where living in this world becomes a bit tricky or at least uncomfortable for us Believers. The law of the land has turned away from God now.  We Christians are faced with a choice. Follow God, or follow the government.  Increasingly there is no middle ground.  Sure people argue that just because the law allows abortions, or the law allows gay marriage to be recognized as true marriage, that doesn't mean we have to do it.  Riiiiiight.... except..... when it does.

What about Kim Davis who refused to issue gay marriage licenses because it was contrary to her faith?  What about the owners of the bakery Sweet Cakes by Melissa who refused to bake a cake for a gay wedding and have been dealing with legal issues ever since (and have lost their business as well)? Think these are petty, ridiculous examples of people who took their "religious beliefs" too far? When it comes to following God's commands of us, what exactly is "too far"?

Did Abraham think God was asking too much of him when He told him to pick up and move all his people to the wilderness and wait for Him?

Did Esther think it was too much to ask her to go against the King's law to stop a mad-man from destroying her people?

Did Daniel think it was too much for him to live in a place where his love and worship of God was constantly being challenged; to the point where he was sentenced to death or threatened with death multiple times?

Did Paul think it was too much to ask him to give up EVERYTHING and preach the gospel even though it would eventually have him killed (but not before he spend ample time in prison and being beaten)?

We are heading into some dark days, I'm afraid.  This isn't surprising to those of us who read our Bible.  That doesn't make it any easier, though. God warned us that things will be difficult if we follow Him. Just a cursory understanding of Christian history confirms that we haven't always been the most popular people. I am hopeful that we can get a true Believer into the office of President in order to at least attempt to undo some of the damage that non-believers have brought upon our country. Regardless of what happens, though, one thing won't change.

I am a Christian first, last and everything in between.

"I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart!  I have overcome the world."
John 16:33 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Why God, why?

Today my friend lays her 34-year-old son to rest.  The sudden death of a child; what could be more devastating?  At a time like this even the most faithful Believer finds herself questioning and quite possibly even being angry with the God of her heart.

Over the last week, since I received her call about Ben's passing, I have found myself trying to imagine what my friend is going through.  I, too, have a son named Ben.  He is still a teenager, and not a single one of us is safe from a devastating loss such as this.  I honestly cannot even imagine what it would be like to lose a child. Sometimes I think I can. I can picture it strongly enough that I have cried over it, but I know our imaginations cannot really go there until we have actually been there.

Since becoming a Christian I have spent many hours praying to God for the strength to get through just such a situation should I ever be faced with it.  I'm not talking about the strength to remain upright in the days and weeks following a loss of this magnitude, although to be sure I would need that.  I'm talking about the strength to be faithful to my Father. The strength to find His grace and mercy in something so catastrophic to me that it would threaten my relationship and belief in Him as my almighty King and Savior. My belief in a God that loves and protects us.

I believe with all my heart that pain and suffering does not come from God.  God loves His children and walks with us through our time on this earth.  He wants what is best for us, but He also wants us to persevere and lean on Him in a world covered with sin and suffering. Sin and suffering that comes from Satan. He let's us go through the pain of this world so that we will long for Heaven, which is our true home.

When we go through suffering here on this earth we are in good company.  So many of the men and women in the Bible went through incredible suffering as they passed through this earth on their way Home.  Joseph, sold into slavery by his brothers.  Job, whose suffering lasted virtually his entire life.  Noah, being isolated from his fellow man, building an arc and then living on it with his family while all living things save the animals and his family on the arc were destroyed. Paul, giving up everything he had on this earth to preach the gospel, spending many years in prison, homeless, hungry, beaten. Mary, watching her beloved son Jesus be persecuted and then brutally and publicly crucified.  Jesus.

These are but a few examples among many.  Why do I bring these up now, at a time of such sorrow and suffering for my friend?  Because as Believers we must continue to trust in God, even when our hearts are broken in a thousand pieces, and we cannot comprehend the unfairness of it all. BEFORE we go through something like this we really do need to prepare ourselves for the possibility that life is going to get really hard and be really unfair. We must not bury our heads in the sand that terrible suffering cannot come to us such that we do not prepare our heads and our hearts for it.  Satan wants nothing more than to take every single person away from God.  He waits for a time such as this to worm his way into our lives and plant seeds of doubt that could eventually destroy our love for God.

If you read your Bible you know that God warns us of this.  He warns us that life on this earth will bring suffering.  When sin entered the world with Adam and Eve so did death and suffering. But, it does not have to be in vain.  God can use our suffering to help us be a light and beacon to others. God uses such things to glorify His Kingdom and bring others back to Him. We are not promised an easy walk here on earth, but we are promised that He will walk faithfully with us, and then bring us Home when the time comes.

I don't want to leave it here but am at a loss for more words.  It is a little after 6am and I have to get ready for work.  In a little over 8 hours from now I will be hugging my friend along with many others as we help her lay her son to rest.  My stomach hurts thinking about it. I can't imagine how she feels right now, but I believe in our Lord's power to heal us.  With all my heart.

If you aren't a Believer and you are reading this, I will be praying that the seeds of longing for our Lord placed in you at your birth to move you enough that you will be stirred.  If you are a Believer who is going through a season of suffering that brings doubt, I will pray that you will be lifted up by others who can fortify your love for God and help you see His loving, merciful hand guiding you through the darkness.  And if you are a child of God who has yet to experience suffering, I rejoice with you that God is so good and pray that you will use this time to gird your faith and your love for Him.  Study God's word. Pray and prepare your heart for the trials and tribulations that will likely come so you can be strong in your love for Him and not give Satan one sliver of an opening into your heart.

“Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” Ephesians 6:11
“We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5:3-4
"Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me. Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done." — Luke 22:42

The words from Luke above were spoken by our Lord, Jesus Christ.  Even He called out to God in His suffering.  In the garden of Gesthemane, Jesus got down on His knees and begged God to remove from Him the terrible suffering on the cross that was to come. Jesus knows first hand what we are going through when we face a cross that we believe cannot bear.  Lean on Him, For he understands fully your pain.

Our suffering can bring us closer to God, if we let it.