Let’s Talk LOVE

LOVE.  It’s the first Fruit of the Spirit mentioned in scripture.

I’m not gonna get into what love is as that is a whole ‘nother Bible Study in itself.  And I’m not going to get into the different types of love.  What we will focus on here is the LOVE that is displayed when we let the Holy Spirit dwell in our hearts.

When we allow God to lead our lives, the first fruit we begin to bear is love.  Now I’m pretty sure this must come first as all the other fruit is created when love is at the center.  It’s like a tree, where all the new growth is budding.  Those buds represent love.  As love sprouts forth, all the other Fruit of the Spirit will burst from the fresh blooms of love.

So how do we let love pour from ourselves?  Willingness.

Personally, I created a morning habit.  I wake up and say, “Lord, who do I get to love on today?” 

Let us not miss opportunities to love on others because we are so caught up in our own lives. 

Love is beyond feelings and emotions; it is an act of giving of oneself.  Even on tough days and rough moments, carry on, and love anyways!

Is there a screaming kid out in public?  Give the mom an reassuring nod.
Is there an elderly person unloading groceries in their car?  Offer to help.
Do you know of someone facing a new medical diagnosis?  Be there to listen.
Is your spouse cranky today?  Offer grace.  (do it-it’s worth it!)
Has someone just had a baby?  Volunteer to do laundry or clean a bathroom.
Know anyone moving?  Get over there and help pack or help move big items.
Is your child melting down or having bursts of fits?  Hug them, then listen.
Has someone lost a loved one?  Just be there.  No expectations.  Your presence is enough.

The possibilities of sharing love is endless!  What are some ways you are going to live-out-loud love today?!


God’s Love vs Human Love

Have you ever been disappointed by love? Maybe your heart was broken by the one that you loved. Maybe those that are supposed to love unconditionally (parent’s) abandoned you. Somehow, in some form, we have all been disappointed, betrayed, hurt, or negatively impacted by “love.”

God’s love is so different from the love that we have come to understand and believe in our world today. Love to us has become a feeling. It’s fleeting, flimsy and just plain weak; that is, compared to the true love that God offers. We have come to believe that  we are at the mercy of love, rather than knowing that love is a choice. We hear people say often, “Well, we fell out of love”, or “We simply dont love each other anymore.” Because of what love has become in our world it’s no wonder many people don’t truly understand the love of God.

Do you know, even for the most righteous person, the one who walks the walk and talks the talk, His love is not fully comprehendable.

One of the aspects of the Bible that I really appreciate is how the authors, all throughout, have put human attributes on God. All in order that we, as humans, might be able to understand Him better. God’s hands (Psalm 31:5), His eyes (Proverbs 15:3), His arm (Isaiah 62:8), and the voice of God (Ezekiel 10:5). The problem, however, with this is the very thing we do best as humans: mess it up. I’ve been guilty if it, and I know I’m not alone; the process of taking more human, sinful traits and projecting these characteristics and tendencies onto the Lord. If doing such and such makes Him smile and pleased, then doing this sinful act clearly makes him sad and disappointed. There are a lot of assumptions made in a statement or a thought process such as this. And there is not a whole lot of truth in it.

When we begin to place our fallen, human characteristics on God, several things begin to happen:

1) We are calling God a liar. From His mouth it has been told to us, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, My ways are not your ways. They’re higher.” (Isaiah 55:8-9, paraphrased);

2) We place God in a box, which leads to the third point;

3) His characteristics become human rather than that of the One True God. We strip Him of His sovreignty, His omnipresence, and His omnipotence. Everything that makes God who He is quickly disappears.

4) Ultimately, then, this leaves us completely devoid of hope. Without God, there is not Jesus. Without Jesus, there is no salvation. And without salvation, there is no hope.

God’s love is far beyond our understanding. I’m not convinced we’ll even understand it once we reach Heaven. God’s love is without conditions, it is the same today as it was yesterday and will be tomorrow, nothing can separate us from the love of God. And because of His love we are able to experience true love, therefore being able to love others as He has loved us.

We are human, so we cannot do this perfectly. But as the Church we should set the example: forgive as you have been forgiven, offer grace and mercy as He gives us daily, live as a child of God not as a child of the Devil. Can you imagine the revolution, the revival we could have in our lives, homes, and community if we loved with even an ounce of the love that God shows us!?

Start today, ask God to change your heart and mind, ask Him to reveal His love to you so you can show it to others. Ask Him for a willing heart, a confidence that can’t be shaken, and courage to obey when it’s hard. When you ask, He will always answer. When you ask, you will receive (Matthew 21:22Jorhn 16:24, 1 John 3:22James 4:3). This will not be easy; I’ve adopted the slogan, “Being Christian is not for the faint of heart.” God is going to break you and mold you, to make you more like Him. While it’s no cake walk, the rewards are eternal, the joy that comes from serving Him with abandon is beyond describable, the relationship you forge with God is priceless. The rewards reaped from sowing in God’s love, will far outweigh any hardship you might experience.

Colossians 3:12

John 14:21

Prayer: God, we give you our lives and hearts. Take us deeper than we’ve ever been, farther than we dare go on our own. Jesus, make us more like You. Give us willing, obedient hearts, completely dependent on You. We love You, and look forward to Your plans with hope, peace and joy. In Your powerful name we pray, let it be so!


Finding Self vs Selfless

The more I ask myself “Who am I?”,
the more I realize it’s not about me-
because really, what are my dreams, goals, desires in life but to follow God’s will for my life.

So….

Is it about me?

Is it….

I am amazing.
I am righteous
I am patient
I am kind
I am beautiful
I am powerful
I am productive
I am strong
???

The internet has an amazing resource of words you can fill in with positive affirmations… so many lists to fill in the blank of ” I am _______”

Yet…

I am nothing without the great I AM. 

I am

Is it “I am amazing”
or “I can do amazing things through Christ Jesus”

Is it “I am righteous”
or “I can do righteous things with God’s guidance”

Is it “I am patient”
or “I can be patient when I see things through God’s eyes”

It’s a profound realization when I recognized that most of the list that provided words for self affirmation were really words that describe God.

But be encouraged my friends, for there are some firm truths in the Holy Bible through our relationship with Christ Jesus.  Here are some spiritual truths to stand on-

I am a child of God  (John 1:12)
I am forgiven (Ephesians 1:7)
I am loved unconditionally (Roman 8:35-39)
I am never alone (Deuteronomy 31:8)
I am chosen (John 15:16)
I am redeemed (Ephesians 1:7)
I am accepted (Romans 15:7)
I am created for His purpose (Jeremiah 1:5)

So let us selflessly remember to ‘Come near to God and He will come near to you’ (James 4:8a) as for us to truly find our self.


Armor of God: Belt of Truth, Breastplate of Righteousness

“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, and the breastplate of righteousness in place…”

Ephesians 6:14 NIV

What is truth? This is a question plagued by our society, and probably the whole world. Do we not see it around every corner? People searching in all the wrong places for truth. But did you know, it was also a question plagued by the world over 2000 years ago too? Look at John 18:37-38. Jesus is with Pilate, and Jesus says to him, I am a king, as you say. This is why I was born. I was brought into this world to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.” To which Pilate responds, What is truth?” If this isn’t a reflection of Pilate’s heart, then I’m not sure what would be. Can you imagine being in his position? Standing face to face with THE TRUTH, convinced that Jesus is innocent, yet torn with what society wanted him to do. How would you have responded? Have you ever been in such a place of turmoil with what was true vs what you had” to do? I think it’s safe to say that the way a person responds to objective truth, the Word of God being that objective truth, shows their heart’s condition; it’s a reflection of their righteousness.
When faced with the truth, how do you respond? Are you defensive or humble? Does your reaction depend on how the truth is shown to you? Should it really matter how truth is shown, if it is in fact the truth?
Truth is the basis of our faith, it is our foundation. At some point in time, your heart was faced with the truth about who Jesus is, the Savior, Messiah. And in your frailty, humility, and deep heart ache for His presence you submitted to the truth, you submitted your life and heart to Christ. Thus beginning your journey in truth. Jesus is the the way, the truth, and the light (John 14:6). Your heart responded to the truth that Jesus is the truth.
Do you remember that moment you responded to Him? What was it like to finally know real, unadulterated, living truth? 
There is beautiful freedom that comes with knowing Jesus (John 8:32). We have Joy by knowing the Truth (John 17:13). We are sanctified by the truth; God’s word is truth (John 17:17). We are to worship in Spirit and truth (John 4:24). The Gospel of John is filled with Jesus’ words, and it seems to me that every other word out of His mouth is about truth: what truth is, where we find it, what to do with it.
The more I dug in to this idea of truth. The Word of God being truth, and Jesus being truth, the more amazed I was at the connectivity of everything. I used to have a faith that was so segmented. Like a child building with blocks , one piece on top of the other, but still separate pieces. And now, as I dig into His Word in a way that I never have before, it’s like I’m now building with brick and mortar. Everything is connected, it’s not disjointed and segmented anymore. 
If the Word of God is our objective, solid, always relevant, yet never contradictory truth, then are you living your life according to it’s truth? According to God’s truth? 
You’ve been exposed to the truth. If you’ve made the choice to believe God’s words, accept Jesus as your Savior and asked Him to be a part of your life then you are continuously exposed to the truth through Holy Spirit’s work. What are you going to to do with the truth? Are you going to be responsive and obedient, or are you going to brush it off? My friend told me once that her mother-in-law, who is a born again Christian, refused to further her knowledge of God and faith because she didn’t want to be accountable for what He revealed to her. Are you scared of the truth?
What you choose to do with the truth is going to determine your righteousness. Now, I’m battling with this statement because it’s not completely true, but to an extent it is. Your righteousness is not your own, it has been placed in you by Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection (Philippians 3:9). God Himself is righteousness (Psalm 11:7, Psalm 24:5, Psalm 37:6). Isaiah 56:1 “Thus says the Lord, Preserve justice and do righteousness, for My salvation is about to come and My righteousness to be revealed.”” Who does it sound like He might be talking about? Couldn’t be Jesus could it? God sent His righteousness down to Earth in the form of a man, not removing any bit of His holiness, leaving it all. In order that His Word would be fulfilled; in order that you may attain everlasting relationship with Him; in order that His name would be known.
Our righteousness is not our own, it is not our weight to bare. The righteousness is Jesus’ alone; so, you may rest in knowing that you are not responsible for perfection. You are not responsible to please God, for He is already pleased with you. Otherwise, why would you exist? 
Although our righteousness is not our own, we are still responsible for what we do with the truth revealed to us.
Figuratively, this breastplate of righteousness protects our heart, and emotions, and their desires as they bear our decisions. But we can’t rely on on our heart, emotions and desires unless we are also permeated with the truth. And if you’re living in truth then you’re going to remember not to make decisions based on feelings, and emotions. Here in Ephesians 6:14 we see the breastplate of righteousness; 1 Thessalonians 5:8 refers to the Breastplate of Faith. This indicates that the righteousness we have is a result of obeying the faith that God births in our hearts. If you take a look at James 2:14-26, you’ll see that the work of faith and righteousness go hand in hand. For our works of faith are proof of our righteousness, or rather, proof of the righteousness of God that dwells within us.
So what does a life look like when truth is permeating a heart, and righteousness is abounding? Romans 10:4-10 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. For Moses writes that the man who practices righteousness which is based on the law shall live by that righteousness. But the righteousness based on faith…” will result in true righteousness and salvation. A life filled with truth knows that we are set free in Christ of all sin and bondage. It’s filled with unspeakable joy because of what God did for us. That life is covered with peace despite any circumstance.
Take a look at Psalm 132:9 Let Your priests be clothed with righteousness and let Your godly ones sing for joy.” Now take a look at 1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;” Those verses sum everything up for me: we lived in darkness because we did not know the truth, we were exposed to the truth, accepted the truth and now live in the truth. In response to the truth we now live in we are clothing ourselves with righteousness. It’s not that I’m doing the right things because God told me to. It’s that, God loved me so much, He let my heart know and understand the truth and now I want to live right for His sake. 
Psalm 23:3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” God isn’t demanding us to love Him and obey His commands. Rather He is leading us down a peaceful path, filled with His love. His heart behind commands and laws and rules is not to control. His heart is this, I love you, therefore you need to know….” 

The Armor of God: Part 1

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.

“Be strong” – endunamoo – Increase in strength, to receive strength, to be strengthened, to increase in union with the Lord
“in the Lord” – kurios – The Lord, exercising absolute ownership rights
“and in the strength” – kratos – dominion, power; a mighty deed (from a root word meaning “to perfect, complete” … in this verse context is the might of HIS strength
“of His might”– ischus – strength, power, might, force, ability…power (over external things) afforded by strength

After looking at the original Greek, I have come up with my own version of this verse: “This strength is the ability for us to increase our union with the Lord, who has complete rights to our lives anyway, through His perfect and complete power over external things.” This brings new life to Philippians 4:13 for me: “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

Since we are going to be looking so much as strength today, it’s important to look at our weaknesses too. Take a look at 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. I think Paul is saying that he rather enjoys his weaknesses because then Christ has all the more opportunity to shine, and isn’t that the goal in life? To let the Lord’s light shine before all men. Matthew 5:14-16 is a great illustration straight from Jesus’ lips about how brightly our lights should shine. Look at the end of verse 16 – so “that they may see…and glorify your Father in Heaven.”

It circles back to that infamous question, “Why are we here?” Answer: to worship God. How then, are you worshipping God? Is your whole life a reflection of Christ? Where are you struggling in your journey of faith? Look to the Lord for your strength!

Weary? Isaiah 40:29-31; Psalm 73:26
Fear? Isaiah 41:10, 13; Deuteronomy 31:6
Rejected? Isaiah 41:9; 2 Timothy 4:16-17
Dry/Empty? Isaiah 41:17-18
Knocked Down? Psalm 18:33
Psalm 18:2, 32, 28:7-8, 29:11, 46:1, 59:9; Proverbs 31:25

I wonder if what Paul was getting at is that in devotion to Christ we offer our lives as a living sacrifice to His will. In that sacrifice we are bound to see we have weaknesses, but God is so much bigger than our weaknesses. And when we’re honest with God, with ourselves and those around us, our weaknesses begin to fad as Christ steps in and covers them. He doesn’t always take them away as if they never existed, but He covers them in a way that He is seen in our lives rather than us. The Lord is seen, not our inadequacies.

It’s much easier for us when we are seeking God during this process of refinement, is it not? Not that it will be easy-because life in a sin stained world is not easy. However, look at what Jesus Himself says in Matthew 11:28-29: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Is anyone else just absolutely basking in that promise?

As we go through our lives we would do good to remember this: God is pruning the branches that bear fruit so that they may bear even more fruit; no branch can bear fruit by itself, it must remain in the vine. The vine being Jesus. As He remains in us, let us also remain in Him (John 15). Let us do this so that we may be the Father’s glory by bearing much fruit. I love what one of my pastor’s said this last Sunday about glory: it is to live your life in such a way that those around you have a good opinion of God.

But what fruit is it that we bear? The fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5 and Colossians 3. Love. And through love we see joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control and compassion. As we devout ourselves to God’s, love and all these things ooze from our pores. We are a pleasing aroma to God. If you know about my love for essential oils, then you know I’m all about pleasing aromas.

This may beg the question then, how do we remain in Christ, how do we continue shining His light, how do we worship God with all of our life, particularly when life is hard?

1. You must stay in the Word of God, or use The Sword of the Spirit. Daily! “Oh, but everyday is so hard. I’m just too busy. I don’t have the time.” This may not come out very gracious, but really!? You don’t have time for the creator of the universe? You don’t have 5 minutes you can devout to Him? But I agree, it can be a challenge to figure out when and where to fit in the time with God. Here’s my personal belief, which is supported Biblically by Jesus: first thing in the morning. (And make it something interesting ya’ll). Let me drive my point home a bit further here: how often is Satan trying to steal and kill and destroy you? Every single day. And sometimes he’s not even taking a break while you’re sleeping. So, yes, read and study your Bible daily.

2. You must exercise faith. Exercise implies that you’re strengthening something. How do you strengthen your faith then? Stay in the Word of God as you walk, run, stumble and fall through this race of life. Faith is the assurance of things not seen and confidence in what we hope for. As we go through life with confidence in our hope in the Lord, and assured through the Word of God, our faith turns into a Shield with which we can duck behind, or hold high as we extinguish the fiery darts of the evil one. I’ve even recently pictured my Shield of Faith growing larger with each trial.

3. When we equip ourselves with the Sword of the Spirit, and the Shield of Faith, our Breastplate of Righteousness begins to form around our life. Righteousness will protect our heart and vital organs and our back. The righteousness that God is working out in you and allowing to flourish will give you strength to make the right decisions when facing temptation, it will protect you from relying solely on your own strength, or, may the Lord forbid, your emotions or feelings. Instead you are able to rely on God’s truth. When circumstances begin to loom over you like a dark cloud, or your life seems to be spinning out of control, or a situation rises up suddenly, you get to rest in your righteousness. Knowing that you have already have a line of defense in place.

4. Speaking of God’s truth…we are to wrap the Belt of Truth around ourselves, as if allowing it to hold us together. We are then able to walk in His truth which we can find in the Word of God. If you follow Priscilla Shirer with Going Beyond Ministries there are several events she has spoken about regarding the Armor of God. In her speech she talks about how the Belt of Truth helps take the weight of your own righteousness.

5. When we strive to equip ourselves with all these attributes and disciplines we are then moved, and fully prepared by God to spread the Gospel of Peace. It becomes natural to spread that peace where ever our feet take us.

6. And isn’t that our great mission? To tell others about the Helmet of Salvation. With which, none of these other pieces would fit. So you see, it’s a full circle. Salvation leads to the Word which leads to faith, and righteousness, leading to knowing and walking in the truth, and where we walk we carry with us the Gospel of Peace. Salvation leads to the Word, and to faith and righteousness and truth…it’s all connected. They aren’t really separate pieces at all.

7. And then there’s Prayer.

The power and strength and might that Paul is mentioning here in Ephesians 6:10 is most certainly an active strength. When you think about a battle, it’s not a place you imagine to be relaxing, or comfortable, a nice place to rest and rejuvenate. NO! Why then do we think that we can rest in our devotion to God? Leaving fellowship, or taking a day off? I’m guilty of this. In fact just just a few weeks ago, when I was sick (flu sick), I thought, ‘I don’t need God, I’m sick. I’ll be fine. I’m not going to work; I can barely have an attitude anyway with how sick I am. I got this.’ Let me tell you how well that didn’t work for me. I was an awful human being to be around. Isn’t it so reassuring though, to know that the power of Christ can cover a multitude of scenarios? Cancer, death, moving, relationship struggles, mental or emotional distress…the list could on. If Christ’s power works in the midst of a battle, then boy howdy, He can do anything!

I did a quick search in the Bible to see what else the power of God is described as, likened to, or emulated as. [This is where you can grab your Bible and look with me]. Ephesians 1:19-20 The Resurrection Power. Psalm 68:32:35 It can be/should be proclaimed; resides in Heaven; over us-not tyrannically, but rather compassionately, with a downward care for us; the power of His sanctuary is awesome; he freely shares it with us. *Mark 12:24 The power of God is for the living. Job 27:11 We teach others about God’s indescribable power. 1 Corinthians 1:24 Christ is the power of God. *Acts 8:10 Satan often disguises himself as the power of God.
*Context is important for these verses; go back far enough to get a feel for the Scripture and message.

The power of God: justifies, saves, reconciles, judges, loves infinitely, creates life, gives life, demands holiness, forgives.

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If we go back to Ephesians 6:10, we see that the power of God lives within us, working personally and communally, as the Church. And it’s God’s power working in us and through us that puts us in a place to choose to put on the Armor of God to fight against our enemy. Don’t miss this: it is a choice; it is your choice. God is not going to force you into relationship with Him, that would go against all He is. But He has given you all the tools to fight successfully, you just have to pick them up, clothe yourself with them, and stand firm in your choices.

We agree then, that the power of God is in us, right? Then let’s talk about the kind of environment you have you created for the Lord to dwell in. What is the state of His house? You’re the keeper of the house, what have you been doing to it? If you watch the show “Stranger Things,” is it like the Upside Down? Do you have locked doors that disallow Holy Spirit to truly roam freely in your life? Do you have piles of clutter you or Holy Spirit are tripping over, or is your life so full right now ya’ll are walking in pathways in your house? Are you holding on to anything that you know the Lord disapproves of? Are you an active participant in keeping the house clean? Are you like I was as a teenager, allowing things to gather and sit and build and pile for ages, and then finally doing a big, deep clean, only to let it all fill up again? Are you putting up a front of cleanliness or righteousness, knowing that inside it’s really a different story? What kind of place have you built for God to dwell in?

Can God truly move freely within you in order to accomplish His plan? What are the obstacles you have out you might be tripping up on, or might be holding up God’s plan?


Prayer is a Powerful Weapon

Andi Anderson

Have you ever had one of those weeks where nothing could get you down? It feels like you are walking hand in hand with God. He’s got you. You’re His girl, and He isn’t going to let anything knock you down.

And then there’s the week where everything seems to be going wrong. You forget your morning devotion time or skip it completely on purpose (!?). You’re at your Husband’s throat for no reason. AND you’re on your period.

While the last 16 weeks or so has been closer to the first described, this last week has been all of the second scenario and more.

Perspective Check: I don’t have cancer, I’m not addicted to drugs, and I’m not pregnant (Yay God!). This is a little thing some of my closest friends and I do when we’ve had a really rough week. And considering most of them are of menopausal age, it really is a YAY GOD that they aren’t pregnant. 

I was reminded this morning that prayer is one the most important weapons we have in our spiritual arsenal. I wish I would have done more to listen to that reminder. Hindsight and all that… The week has left me so emotionally raw. I can’t seem to focus, I’m on the verge of tears, I feel like I’m going to just lose it at any moment, my husband is getting the beating from it all, and all I need to do is stop and pray.

We could probably quote scripture to each other all day long about prayer: where to pray, how to pray, when to pray, what to pray, praying in Spirit and truth, praying continuously… Really, the list could go on. I could fill this blog post with all those scripture references, but where’s the fun in giving you all the answers? Open up your Bible and study prayer for yourself. You won’t be disappointed.

I’m writing to you on my lunch break now. I want to convey to you how prayer has affected my day. When I began my day I was easily angered, picking fights with my husband, running to the bathroom every 15-30 minutes to have a mini cry session (talk about being unproductive at work!), unable to focus, and everything was setting me off. I sat in my car for lunch and started typing this post, and it was awful! The anger inside me was pouring out onto the screen in front of me and I couldn’t stop it. I finally threw my phone down on the seat next to me in utter frustration. “This is awful!” I yelled at God. And then it came. The release I needed. Sobbing, pouring my heart out to God. “I’m sorry I’m so angry. I’m sorry I can’t do it all. I’m sorry I’m letting people down. I’m sorry I was so mean to my husband…” The list went on. All the things I’ve been holding on to for days now came gushing out in tears, sorrow, pain and snot. I took a breath, and then I was done. I simply didn’t have any more tears to cry, no more snot to wipe. The sorrow and pain were gone. And all that remains is a peace that I can’t explain.

I needed to unload all my burdens to God, because that’s what He wants from me. I love being able to talk to Him about whatever: constipation or diarrhea, marital problems, parenting problems, friend problems, work problems, I get to thank Him every morning for the beauty I see during my commute, I get to praise Him for His handiwork I see in my life, I get to worship Him with my words for no reason in particular except that He is God.

Prayer is a mighty tool. A weapon that can not be forgotten during your battle. Our battle is 24/7 my friends, which is why we are instructed to pray continuously. Our enemy does not rest, but even greater than that, OUR GOD DOES NOT REST! He does not sleep. He cares about all the details of your life, big, small and everything in between.

I once had a patient tell me she only talked to God about the big stuff, because He was so busy you know with all the wars, and cancer, and other big stuff people have going on. How sad her faith must be. How misinformed she was. I pray to this day that she would know God’s true character. And I pray the same for you.

Share your life with God, share your heart with Him.


In The Light

“I want to be in the Light
As You are in the Light
I want to shine like the stars in the heavens
Oh, Lord be my Light and be my salvation
Cause all I want is to be in the Light
All I want is to be in the Light”

#TBT to dc Talk, one of my all time favorite nostalgic bands.

Light is the absence of darkness, and vice versa, darkness is the absence of light.

Having walked a life of darkness there is nothing I want more than to walk in the Light. To walk with the Light of the world.

If we look at the definition of light we see that it can act as a noun (a person, place or thing), a verb (describing word), or an adjective (an action word) in the American English language. Put your Spiritual eyes on as we look at the definitions of light. If we apply what we know to be true about God and His Son and the Helper to the definitions of light a whole new world may open up in your mind. You may become enlightened. … Couldn’t resist the pun.

Noun; a thing or object: the natural agent that stimulates sight and makes things visible.
The Holy Spirit or even the Word of God can be the natural agent that stimulates sight. We begin to see the Lord illuminate our world, whether that’s through conviction of sin, or opening our eyes to a new (to us) characteristic of God, or even having a song or verse touch you in a way that elicits an emotional response of true, Spirit-filled worship. Ephesians 5:13 puts it better than I could: “But everything exposed by the light becomes visible-and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.” 

I love the second part of that verse, “everything that is illuminated becomes a light.” Upon salvation we become illuminators, becoming a light to the world. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5 that we are the salt of the earth, the light of the world and our light is to shine before all people. Everywhere we go, everything we do or say, all that we are should be illuminating the world around us.

Verb; a describing word: make (something) start burning; ignite. This reminds me of the prayer many Christians might pray, “Set our hearts on fire for You, Lord.” What are we really asking for in this prayer? We are asking the Lord to make our hearts start burning, or to ignite our hearts with a passion and desire for Him which is completely unquenchable. Proverbs 30:15-16 mentions that FIRE is something that is never satisfied, and will never cry out, “Enough!” That is what our heart response should be for our Lord, who laid down is life for us, who was humbled to the point of death on a cross. So, yes, Lord, I pray that you would set your Church’s heart on fire, that Your light within us would be beautiful, and unquenchable. I pray that a revival would begin in the hearts of your Church.

Adjective; an action word: having a considerable or sufficient amount of natural light; not dark. Exodus 13: 21-22 “By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.” What a wonderful display of God’s devotion to us, and desire to see us succeed. The Holy Spirit that Jesus sent to help us is acting as a guide, He is our natural light. And just as the definition says, He will always give us a sufficient amount. In fact, He more often than not, gives us more than we need, does He not? 

We are responsible for not putting our light out, not grieving the Holy Spirit, we are responsible for walking in the way of the righteous, we are responsible for our choices to sin or to draw close to Jesus. When we are faithful to the Lord, He is faithful to us to be the natural agent that stimulates sight, He is faithful to ignite our hearts for His good, and He is faithful to act by giving us a sufficient amount of light.

Recently, I was so consumed by my circumstances that I was walking around without joy, without much hope, suffering physical, emotional and mental pain. When I made the choice to submit my heart fully to the Lord, to seek Him, to love unconditionally just as He loved me first-I was able to do this by studying and digging into the Word, fasting and much prayer-He changed my outlook on my circumstances. He showed me that the most important thing in life is to love Him and love others, all else is useless. I had a coworker comment on my changed demeanor and I was able to share with her that it was all because of my submission to God. My friends noticed, acquaintances were noticing. What an honor to be such a testimony of God’s light!

 


(W)holy 40! What is Biblical Fasting?

*This blog post requires tools: Go get your Bible, my sweet friend!*

Fasting, One might think about Lent, along with something they plan to give up (chocolate, meat, smoking, alcohol, etc). One might remember Jesus who fasted for 40 days in the desert, or maybe you think about Passover and fasting from leaven or yeast. What these all have in common is giving up food, all or partial, for a set amount of time in order to achieve … … … in order to achieve what?

I’m hoping to answer this question along with some others you didn’t know you had about fasting. What is fasting really? Why do we fast? How does fasting make us more like Christ?

The answer to these questions can only be found in Scripture. Let’s start in the beginning, the institution of fasting. In Exodus 12 when the Lord is instituting Passover, He tells the Israelites they must remove all yeast from their homes, and they must only eat unleavened bread. If you’ve been in the Church for some time it’s possible you’ve come across the concept of yeast and leaven representing sin, particularly in the New Testament. If we apply the idea of leaven representing sin to fasting, what do we end up with? Fasting is necessary in repentance. 1 Corinthians 5:6, and Galatians 5:9 both say that a little bit of yeast will affect the whole batch of dough. A little bit of sin in your life is going to affect all of your life. There is no such thing as a “little bit” of sin, or a “little white lie.” Sin is sin. When we sin we are separating ourselves from God. That separation then requires action on our part to mend. God is always right there waiting for us.

Take a look at Isaiah 58. Read the whole chapter.*Spoiler alert: Isaiah 58:6 and 8 are my favorites!* Go ahead…I’ll wait right here until you’re done. … It’s powerful isn’t it? As Sheri Hollinger and I have done many personal studies on Isaiah 58 we have found that when we confess our sins to the Lord we are allowing Him to lead us through a time of fasting, especially if it’s a life dominating sin, a generational sin, or one that you continue to struggle with. As we rid our lives of our sin we are allowing a chance for the Lord to fill that place in our heart with His love, His joy, His peace, His light and His life. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather have all those wonderful things than be chained up, weighed down, and held captive by sin.

What is the Lord prompting you to give up? Do you already know? What was the first thing that came to mind? Can’t think of anything? Let me phrase it this way then: what is blocking your joy? Take some time to prayerfully consider what He may asking you to fast from or turn away from. Maybe it’s something that you give up for a season, like T.V., or maybe it’s something you need to give up for life, like alcohol (both examples from my own life).

Jesus is serious about sin in our lives. Look at Matthew 5:29-30, Matthew 18:8-9, and Mark 9:43-50. You must cut it out! It’s better to be marred for life than walk around with sin infecting your heart. Now obviously, He’s not advocating actually dismemberment, and neither am I. But the point is we can not accept complacency.

Once you’ve given up your sin, you’re fasting from it now. But what are you going to replace it with? Many of us might have heard that when you are trying to break a habit, you have to find something to fill that void. Otherwise, you could end up trading one bad habit for another, or go straight back to the old habit during times of extreme emotions. We have to be proactive in changing our habits. Sin can become a habit. Therefore, we need to be proactive when we are in the process of fasting. The most practical thing you can do while you fast, while you repent, while you change your life is to look to the One who gave you life. Seek the Lord with all of your heart. Love Him with all that you have. How this looks in your life is going to be different than how it looks in mine. I choose to take my first hour or so of the morning to sit with and seek God. And let me tell you what, since I have begun this journey of fasting and repenting from my life dominating and generational sins (selfishness and addiction), I have found that an hour isn’t near long enough. The Bible has come to life in a whole new way for me. I also attribute this to the way that I have changed my actual application of study , but that’s a whole different topic. I will simply say this: do not think that there is only one way to study the Bible. If there is a topic you want to know more about, do the research yourself and see where the Lord takes you. It’s a beautiful, joyous, crazy awesome adventure!

And remember, fasting is not about you. Wow, wait! Really? Yes, really. Just look at all we’ve talked about. Fasting isn’t for our gain (or loss, if you’re thinking about weight). We will be posting about what fasting is not later. Let this truth sink into your heart and mind, meditate on it: your life is not your own.

Isaiah 58 is very clear about what fasting is and what fasting is not. In verse 6, we begin to see the consequences of proper fasting. And we know that consequences are not just negative results from choices, they are also positive results from the choices we make. Isaiah 58:6 are the promises God will fulfill when we properly fast.

Isaiah 586 verse image 600

 

Who, in their right heart, wouldn’t want that? I have lived a life of wickedness, I have walked with a heavy yoke and burden, I have been oppressed by my very own thoughts. God is saying there’s freedom from this? And that I can find that through proper fasting? Sign me up! When we discipline ourselves to fast, to repent, and ultimately submit to the Lord, freedom is the outcome. But that’s not all folks! Jump back to your Bible and read verses 6-9a. Great. Now reread verse 8.

Hope. Joy. Light. Healing. Righteousness will guide you. And the glory of God will guard our backs. After reading that verse, if you’re not convinced it’s time to give it up, whatever it may be, then may the Lord break down your walls.

“Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of God will be your rear guard.”

What sweet promises the Lord gives here. All we have to do is submit to His will.

The next set of verses 9b-14 then speak of the outpouring of our love. When we are properly aligned with God we are so full of life, light and love that we can’t help but to help and serve and love others. Have you ever been so full of God’s joy that you can’t stop smiling? Or so full of God’s love that it was as natural as sleeping to hand that homeless person your lunch? When we live a life submitted to God, those acts of service and the joy, are just absolutely overflowing. It’s a byproduct of the fasting that you’ve done.

If this is what proper fasting is, why don’t we do it more often? Why is this not a common practice within the Church? Furthermore, why would we want to continue being friends with the world? James 4:4 “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” I don’t want that in my life. No, thanks!

“Jesus came to give us a life to the fullest; He came to set us free, and those who are free are free indeed.”

So, what is it you’re struggling with today? What healing needs to happen in your heart? What healing needs to happen in your physical body? What healing needs to happen in the relationships around you? These are questions we all have to face, and we face them every day, whether or not we’re actually acknowledging them. Questions you must face in order to properly and successfully fast. When we choose a proper fast the bondage, sin, oppression, guilt, and shame will be broken!

If you’re feeling as if there’s a veil over your eyes, over your mind, over your ears, or even over your heart, then consider a fast. When you fast the Lord will be faithful to let your light break forth like the morning. What hope, what joy comes from the promises of God’s word. I cannot implore you enough to take this journey with us as we fast for 40 days. Because we must break those chains of bondage, we must allow our healing to spring forth quickly. If we stay stagnant any longer as children of God our nation is going to crumble. We will lose an entire generation of children to worldly passions. And those we know and love who don’t know and love the Lord will be lost in an eternity of damnation. I am no longer willing to sit down and be quiet and allow our enemy to have control in my family, in my life, or in my Church. Who’s going to stand up with me and fight the enemy?


Confessions of a Christian Woman

God is still writing my story in the pages of His book. Below you will find my testimony. I have been blessed to have walked a tough road, through many choices of my own. Blessed because now I get to impart truth, hope, life, and grace to those who would listen. In April I shared this testimony at our church’s yearly women’s retreat, and just a few weeks ago was able to share a snippet of this with the youth group at church. May the Lord bless and protect all who read this.

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When you examine your life and you really think about that one thing you want, that one thing you need, what would it be? Is it that job, or that house? Is it to have a marriage like them? Would it be to have kids that acted like her kids? Let me tell you that all of these have crossed my mind, and settled into my heart at one time or another. But really at the core of all these desires there is a lack of worth, a lack of true love. And as women, isn’t that what we want, what we need? In our deepest longings, in our heart of hearts we are screaming, begging for someone to tell us, “You matter to me. You are so worthy of all my love, and freely I give to you, unconditionally, all that I am. I love you!”

The apostle Paul nails it on the head in his letters to the Ephesians, Colossians, and the first letter to the Corinthians. He knows: women need love. We as women, as young girls are so impressionable, especially by the men in our lives. And before I go into my account of how God gave me worth, and told me that I was loved, I want to encourage you today to begin seeking your worth and meaning and true love in Christ alone.

In the book of John, Jesus says this, “For the thief has come to kill, and steal, and destroy” and how does he do this? With society. With the ideas that this is how you’re supposed to look, that you have to be super-mom, or super-wife all on your own, that you need to be happy, and that all the things will make you happy. But then Jesus says, “I have come that they,” they being those who have chosen Jesus to be their Savior, those who have said, ‘I am sorry Jesus for my sins. I know YOU died on the cross to save me. Please come into my life and change me!’, “may have life.” Note that Jesus doesn’t say happiness, but LIFE, “and have it to the full.” I truly believe that there should be an exclamation point after this statement (I think John got that wrong). Jesus gives a full life! And as you are about to read, I tried filling my life with all the things. In an attempt to find that fullness, to find that worth, to find that love I so desperately craved, and still do, I searched in all the wrong places. I might be showing my age a bit when I ask: Was it in the 80s that the slogan of “drug, sex and rock n roll” became a thing? Well…welcome to my life.

I should set the scene for you. I was raised in the church, a “Christian” household. I had accepted Jesus into my heart at a young age. My biological mother and my Dad ran the Children’s Ministry. So believe me when I say I never would have thought my family would be the victim of a divorce. Looking back now I remember having a happy family at church, and a tendency towards anger, dysfunction, and explosive behavior at home. Now that’s not to say we didn’t have fun and I don’t have fond memories, but I do know that the Lord shielded my eyes from many things.

I actually remember walking to the bus stop one morning when I was 8 or 9 and hearing all the neighbor kids talking about their step-moms, step-dads, or step-siblings, and the resentment you could hear in their voices was astounding. But I thought to myself, ‘How lucky I am that we are Christians, and Christians don’t get divorced.’

Not long after that our parents sat us down in the living room, only a small light was on, and we sat next to a dying fire. What an ironic picture for what was about to happen: “Mom is moving out.” At 10 years old, I had no idea what that meant, I had no idea what that was going to look like. I honestly thought that she was probably going to move a few houses away. My brother was 12, and my sister was 8. As you can imagine, for our Christian family, this was devastating. It was absolutely earth shaking, and over the next several years my foundation showed its weakness and cracks, and eventually crumbled away. Do you remember that kids song about the foolish man who built his house on the sand? Although I had gone to church for as long as I could remember, and I truly had Jesus in my heart, I had a foundation built on sand. I had not made a foundation of rock for myself. I had not owned my faith yet, my parents were still my foundation. But their foundations were broken too.

In the years to follow the ugliness, the brokenness, and the darkness in both of my parents came out full force, in different ways. Custody battles ensued, leaving a house divided even more, me with my Dad and my brother and sister with my biological Mom. Eventually I would choose to not visit her at all for various reasons but the main one being that there had been years of backlash from her and her second husband with me wanting to be involved in the church. I struggled with feeling abandoned: If the woman who carried me and gave birth to me couldn’t love and accept me for who I was, then who could?

The love and acceptance I so desperately needed could clearly not be found in my family, my family was a hot mess. My biological mother didn’t even want me. The feelings of abandonment and not being worthy of her love, the pain that enveloped me from this divorce would soon take me down a path I wouldn’t come back from for about 10 years. With every lie that Satan whispered in my mind, every one I began to believe, I was giving my heart to the enemy that had come to kill and steal and destroy. And while this story obviously ends with a wayward child returned to the loving arms of Christ, I still struggle with those destructive, negative thoughts.

Through Jr. High, in those few years right after the separation and divorce, I tested the waters of rebellion. I wore white eye-liner, like Brittney Spears, against my Dad’s wishes. I wore tight clothes, and shirts that showed my mid-drift. And to get away with these things I would often change at school, or put layers on so Dad wouldn’t see. I listened to Country music *gasp* but it was against my Dad’s wishes. And I was a serial dater. I was dipping my foot in the waters, testing it out, seeing what I could get away with. So you can see that in the core of me I was looking for acceptance, worth, and love, and I was beginning to seek it out in earthly things. But I still enjoyed going to church and doing all the church things. There was a spiritual war beginning in my life, and I didn’t even realize I was playing into exactly where Satan wanted me.

In the summer before my freshman year of High School, there was a revival within my heart, quite unexpected I might add, I suppose they usually are though. I went on a mission’s trip; I joined the worship team and eventually became a part of the student leadership team. I was finding acceptance and worth in my friends, and the things that I did for God. But there was still a big issue: I was finding love, and acceptance and worth in church and acts of service, not Christ. In a matter of 3 years I would leave high school as a completely different person then who entered in. Depression, self-mutilation, and Satan’s lies would entrench me by the time I graduated.

I began serious dating in high school, and subconsciously, in order to protect myself from the hurt of abandonment ever again, I would perpetually end relationships suddenly. Generally, it was because I had already started liking someone else. This would also carry into my “adult” life. And Satan would use these situations to pile shame and guilt in to my heart and mind; I knew it was wrong, but just couldn’t seem to stop it. Why? Because I hadn’t found my True Love yet.

Towards the end of my junior year I began believing that I was in such turmoil and pain because I was bi-sexual, and I was living under oppression from my Christian family, and I was being forced to live a lie. In a bold attempt to show my Mom (technically step-mom, but she holds the title of Mom) and Dad who I really was, and why I was in such turmoil I told them I was gay and had a girlfriend. I packed my room at lunch the next day and moved in with my biological mom. Because I just knew she would accept me as I was. I ended up living with her for about a week but during that time, I found myself at a college party with a friend, drinking heavily, really drinking for the first time aside from sneaking a bit here and there from my parents. And before I knew what was happening I was having sex in a bathroom with some guy I barely knew. Was it rape? No. However, in my naivety and drunken state, I really didn’t know what was happening until it was too late. I cannot even put in to words the shame and guilt I felt, how absolutely empty, bare and dirty I felt the next morning. And at this point I had no loyalty to God, but Satan was using this act of sexual immorality to take me further down a path of destruction. Much to my own dismay the pain I was now feeling was a catalyst to return to a safe place, and I ended up moving back in with my Mom and Dad a few days later. Talk about spiritual warfare. There was clearly a battle between Heaven and Hell for this child of God. And I felt every single bit of it. Turmoil and darkness surrounded me, while God and His angles fought for me.

Internally I continued to struggle with my sexual identity, and my depression. In 2007, my senior year of High School, I began dating a boy and really thought that I had found the love and acceptance I had longed for so long. Alcohol also entered my life more regularly and became a facilitator in numbing pain. And when you begin mixing alcohol, instability, depression, and teenagers, you know you’re bound for trouble. One weekend, I was feeling particularly invincible and thought it was a good idea to have some friends over and we had a bottle of alcohol. Mind you, my parents are asleep downstairs, my two youngest sisters asleep upstairs where my friends and I were. The girl that I had dated briefly was there that night, and we fooled around a bit, I gave her a ring to profess my love. But I’m still dating that wonderful guy, and guess what else? I wasn’t invincible, my parents found out about the alcohol.

Oh, the turmoil I suffered in those next few days. Not only was I dealing with consequences from my parents, I also had to figure out the drama I had created with this girl and this boy. On top of my heavy school load, because I was an Honor Student you know, and participating in sports, and, and, and… I could not cope. I couldn’t deal with the consequences of my actions. And on January 3, 2007, it would seem that Hell had won the battle for my life. It was a Wednesday night. I finished swimming practice, went home, grabbed a brand new bottle of Tylenol PM, and 2 or 3 handfuls of Ibuprofen. I only tell you the specifics of what I swallowed so that you understand it is ONLY by the grace of God that I am alive right now.

I wrote my last words down as I swallowed pill after pill, handfuls at a time. One might think that with all the people I felt the need to write to that night I would have snapped out of it. It’s shocking how engulfed I was in the lies Satan had been hissing in my ears.

Now, obviously I didn’t die, but boy I remember thinking in the hospital how badly I wished it had worked. Because not only did I still have to deal with the choices I had made prior to my suicide attempt, but I now had this suicide attempt to deal with too. After a night in ICU, a week in the hospital, and another week in inpatient psych care I left the hospital, and decided somewhere along the way that I was going to be continue dating that boy. We continued to date through high school, and shortly after graduating we were engaged.

Now, because of the nature of the relationship with this boy, not only did I struggle with who my true love was, acceptance and worth, I would now struggle with associating love as sex. He left for boot camp some short weeks after our engagement. So when the sex stopped I was easily swayed to fall for someone else. While Mr. Navy was away, I became involved with a guy at work, Mr. Lifeguard. I ended up moving in with him, at his parent’s house, and didn’t write to Mr. Navy for almost 2 weeks.

Mr. Lifeguard and I had a dysfunctional relationship to say the least, and I was not any more responsible than I was in high school, as grown up as I felt. Living on my own with my boyfriend…in his parent’s house. Mr. Lifeguard and I were together for about a year and a half, and towards the end of the relationship I began having feelings for one of our mutual friends. We’ll call him Mr. Married.

Again, turmoil; I was living with someone but was carrying on an emotional affair with another man, but the fact that he was married didn’t bother me. Eventually I made one of the most adult decisions in those days, and ended what was going on with Mr. Married. Although, much to my dismay about a month later Mr. Lifeguard would tell me that he didn’t think we should be together. So I moved in with a friend from work.

Mr. Married came back into the picture very quickly, as did a few other guys. Some physical, some emotional, some I led on because I thought that the attention was lovely. To be blunt I was acting a whore; in one 24-hour period I had sexual relations with 3 different guys. But soon all the sex, all the cigarettes and all the alcohol couldn’t numb me enough. I found marijuana, oh the sweet relief I felt when I was high.

My low point finally came when I began to be more concerned about being high than just about everything else. Only by the grace of God, did I continue going to school and working. Because of my desire to be high all the time I chose to become homeless so I could be with my “friends”, my suppliers. There were four of us, and one was a young mama with a 2 year old daughter.

My pastor mentioned in a sermon some time ago that people can become so entangled with sin that they do not care for the sanctity of others. This was true for me. There was one night when the little baby was so fussy that I thought, “Marijuana works to calm us down, it should work for her too.” So we proceeded to blow smoke in her face, hoping she would become just “contact” high enough to sleep. The poor baby was actually just hungry and dehydrated. She ended up in urgent care the next day.

Not too long after this my Mom and Dad had got ahold of me and asked me to come to dinner. Offering a shower and use of the washer and dryer if needed, but the stipulation was that only I could come. I obliged, thinking only of what I could gain.

To my surprise they offered as the main course God’s grace along with a plate of spaghetti. Much to my parents surprise I broke down in a broken heap of tears and accepted their sweet platter of grace. I moved back in the next day. Mom helped me straighten out my financial mess, I continued to work and go to school. There were house rules of course: no drugs, no alcohol, you have to go to church on Sundays, and other basics. But I NEVER went to church with them; I always made sure to be working.

God had been working in my heart in ways that I didn’t realize, and He would continue to use me, and orchestrate events that only He could. At some point during the summer Mom called me and said they were going to a local burger joint and the church picnic. I asked if I could go simply because I wanted a burger and I didn’t want to pay for it. I was always thinking about me, what could I get from a situation. But here’s where God started getting my attention. When we got to the park we were getting out of the truck and before I could stop the words from leaping off my tongue I blurted, “Since I’m not working Sundays anymore,” because I had been fired from that job (blessing in disguise!), “I’ll go to church with you guys, because I know it’s important to you.” I regretted saying it as soon as it had come out of my mouth, but there was a strange peace in that choice too. I dreaded every Sunday. I would sit sourly in service journaling about how communion was cannibalism, and popping my knuckles during prayers, dressing as masculine as I could.

One Sunday though, as I was driving home, I began arguing with God about His existence. And I knew He was talking back to me, and I don’t know how to describe it, but if you’ve heard Him talk to you, you know what I mean. I told Him, “I’m sorry, I just can’t believe You’re real.” God responded ever so tenderly, “I know.”

On December 14th, 2009 I was taking a shower and out of nowhere, I hit my knees, “God, I can’t do this alone anymore. I just can’t do it.” The peace and light that washed over me was so freeing. In that very moment I began building my foundation of rock. I had owned my faith, and asked God to be a present help in my life. That was the moment I asked Him to be Lord over my life. I promptly went downstairs and told my parents. And while I continued to struggle for some time finding my new life, I was finally on the right path to finding the love, and acceptance and worth I so craved.

God has done amazing works in my life following that day. I quit smoking marijuana cold turkey, on more than one occasion I have quit smoking cigarettes cold turkey, God healed me in a way that I no longer identify as bi-sexual. I am married to a great man with a beautiful 4-year-old daughter. While my testimony continues in a very different light after that day, it wasn’t until more recently that I truly began seeking Jesus to be my love, my acceptance and my worth. I’m not going to pretend that God made it all rainbows and butterflies after I was humble before Him. It’s not easy, in fact Jesus Himself said that we will have it rough; trials and tribulations. I have good days and bad days. I still struggle with depression, and have added anxiety into the mix, the lies of Satan still often drown out God’s truth, I have contemplated suicide on more than one occasion in the past 8 years, even in my marriage I struggle with associating sex with love. But God is so gracious to continue shaping us, and isn’t it so much easier when we are willing participants.

I would really encourage you, if you haven’t accepted the grace that God offers, the salvation that comes with Jesus’ death and resurrection, to seriously consider it. It won’t be easy, but you’ll have peace in the chaos. You’ll have troubles, but the love that God offers is true and unconditional. There will be drama, but God’s truth, God’s Word, the Bible, defines your worth. And if my life hasn’t convinced you that God will accept you as you are, wherever that is, then may He bring you someone’s who will.

 

 


Knowledge is Power

The fear of God is the beginning of knowledge.

When you think of knowledge what do you think of? IQ, tests, computers, awards. Do you think of a person? A doctor, an astrophysicist, a philanthropist. Do you think of someone specific, perhaps? Did you think of yourself?

No, I would agree on most days that I don’t think of myself, but I should. Knowledge, the way God intended, is not the collective ideas that people spread, the inventions that are made, or the things that people know of this world. It is not simply being smart, or intelligent, or being labeled a genius.

Knowledge, as God intended, is so much more. It’s knowing Him, it’s loving Him, it’s learning everything you can about Him in your short stay on Earth. And how better to know someone then to spend time with them?

Do you have a relationship with God? How do you spend time with Him?

~Study His Word

~Talk with Him

~Sing songs to Him and about Him

~Enjoy His creation

~Obey Him

I do not believe that one can have true knowledge without first knowing the One who created the ability to have knowledge. Many people today would have you believe that being submersed in the political or societal issues of the day, or having a higher education would bring you the most knowledge. I would strongly disagree. [Please hear me when I say that I am not bashing on college, I am not saying “Nay” to being versed in the issues of today. These are very important things, if this is God’s path for you.]

Oh, knowledge. Do you feel full of knowledge? I do. And if you asked me anything about politics, or sports, or women’s issues, or anything going on in this world, I would look at you with a blank stare and probably say, “ I’m not sure what you’re talking about.”

Someone could easily argue that had I actually gone to four years of university study, or if I versed myself in the issues of the world I would understand more, be a better person, have critical thinking skills, etc. They could be right. But if a person doesn’t know anything about the One who created knowledge, how could they ever expect to have any.

Did you know that the first 30 chapters of Proverbs is a father imparting wisdom and knowledge to his son. And the last chapter is the child’s mother imparting her wisdom and knowledge. An entire book of the Bible dedicated to knowledge. It’s truly amazing.

At the end of your life, when you take your last breath, what good is that degree, all that studying you did, all the research, is it going to get you into Heaven? No ”But I used my knowledge for good. I helped people,” you might argue. To which I respond, “Thank you. But was it enough to get you into Heaven?” No. Because Jesus said, “I am the way, I am the truth, I am the light. No one gets to my Father except through me.” Being “good” is great. But it’s not enough.

In all your getting, get wisdom and knowledge. But remember that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. If you seek wisdom like you seek gold and silver, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.

God’s words are knowledge. Study them, know them, learn them.

Seek the Lord with all your heart, do not lean on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and it will be well with you for all your days.