September 28, 2010
"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says."
We are going through a series at church right now that has been quite eye opening to me. For a while, I have been fighting this feeling that we as Christians trivialize what being a Christ follower truly means. I have watched people who claim to follow Christ live a life that reflects something very different. Being a Christ follower is not about saying a prayer. Being a Christ follower is not about believing in Jesus. The demons believe in Jesus.
I have spent my entire life in church but on only a few occasions have actually heard it preached or taught that following Christ is a sacrifice. That it is about denying one's self, taking up your own cross and following Christ. It is living a life of obedience. Somehow, along the way, churches have lost that teaching.
"Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."
We were created solely for the purpose of bringing honor and glory to God. That's it. It is not about us. It is not about our happiness, our wealth, and our needs or wants but instead the growth of His kingdom. This is not a difficult concept to understand but because we are such self centered and sinful people, we struggle daily to achieve the goal set before us.
The goal I am referring to is the one that Jesus left with us before ascending into heaven. We are to go out and spread the gospel. Pure and simple. No matter the cost, we are to spread the gospel. Here is what is happening though. We set out to teach people truth but somehow end up helping them to say a prayer, that may or may not be sincere and that does not transform their life. Now I am not saying that this is always the case but I can vouch to the fact that there are many out there walking around professing Christ as their Lord and Savior but living for themselves. Nothing in their life reflects a life where Christ sits on the throne but instead reflects a self-centered love for themselves. In addition, we wonder why people do not want anything to do with our God. Can you blame them?
So what do we do? We set out determined to live a life of sacrifice and devotion to the One who saved us from our sins. We begin a journey where our love for the lost overwhelms us and we are compelled to share the gospel. There are those who would claim that Christ came to save us from hell but that is not true. If He came to save us from hell, then the moment we accepted Him into our lives, we would join Him in heaven because there would be no purpose left for us here. We do have a purpose. He has a plan for every one of us and it begins with Him. It begins with us setting out to share His love, His grace and His mercy with those who need it.
We need to go out looking for those that live in a constant state of conflict not only in their heart but also in their mind. They are lost and cannot gain any understanding for the things of God because the Holy Spirit is not present in their lives. To them, Christianity is just a religion and they are totally unaware of God and His presence. These are the unsaved, the lost. These are the ones we should seek out.
"The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned."
1 Corinthians 2:14
Maybe you are one of those feeling conflicted. If you feel like you have no peace or purpose in your life or like something is missing, chances are you don't know Him. If you do know Him but your life if filled with regret and guilt, you may need to reintroduce yourself to Him. Even if you have fallen away, He is waiting with open arms for you to return no matter what you've done (much like the story of the prodigal son)
The Lost Son
The following verses say it perfectly. These are the words of Christ and He clearly says that we will be known by our fruit. When I hear that, I immediately begin to name the fruit of the Spirit, which is Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control. From what I've read in scripture a born again Christian clearly reflects these fruits. I believe this. People should know us and see Jesus in us as we go about our everyday life. It doesn't mean we won't ever do anything wrong but when life happens, our reaction should reflect something different in us.
"By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them."
So here is what you do. This is straight from scripture and nothing I've made up on my own.
"Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?"
2 Corinthians 13:5
Examine your heart. All you have to do is ask the Holy Spirit for direction and He will give it to you. The Holy Spirit of God is so powerful. Some people will say that Satan has made them doubt their salvation but I don't know that I believe that. Why would Satan make you doubt something that you would investigate further which would be considered a loss to him if you chose God? Just saying...
Be strong in the Lord and,
Never give up hope,
You're going to do great things,
I already know,
God's got His hand on you so,
Don't live life in fear,
Forgive and forget,
But don't forget why you're here,
Take your time and pray,
These are the words I would say
Sidewalk Prophets- These are the Words I Would Say
"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil."
So many times the blows of life can beat and wear you down to where you feel defeated to the point of just giving up. Always in those moments, God reminds me of very specific things. This morning it was Ephesians 6: 10- 18
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
Life can bring us down but when we are grounded in Christ, we are able to get back up again. I have amazing kids. All of them. They can drive me crazy at times but then those moments come when God uses them to remind me of truth. You see, in recent days, someone that was once very close to me has decided and has chosen to tell people that I am an unfit mother and mentally unstable. As a mom, you cannot hit any lower below the belt than with that statement. Since I was a child, all I ever wanted to be was a mom. God saw fit that this was in fact my calling and blessed me with five precious kids that are my life. I received an email from a friend not too long ago and her words said this; "those kids are who they are because of you. You have been a stay at mom since the first was born and you have sacrificed your wants and desires to be there for them. Your kids are amazing and display such a confidence that can only come from having a mom that loves them and has taught them truth." Satan would want me to doubt who I am in Christ. There is no greater way to attack me than to attack what God created me to be and so God gives me those moments through my children to serve as a reminder.
I have spent the past week dwelling on that truth and I was having a really hard day last week, feeling quite defeated when my sweet 10 year old came into my room and pulled up a song on YouTube for me.
It was Matthew West More.
I sat and listened to the words and was reminded all over again, that God is in control. People are people and Satan will use people and their words to try to destroy, but God is ultimately in control and He will take care of not only me but also my kids. They are safe in His hands and nothing that happens, whether good or bad, happens without passing through His hands first. God loves me more than I could ever imagine. My kids know God and know the truth of God because I have spent years teaching it to them and in that, God uses my kids to remind me of that fact.
What a sweet reminder. There is no need to fear the unknown and there is peace through the storm because HE loves ME and He is in control.
September 16, 2010
You gave me wings and made me fly
You touched my hand I could touch the sky
I lost my faith, you gave it back to me
You said no star was out of reach
You stood by me and I stood tall
I had your love, I had it all
I'm grateful for each day you gave me
Maybe, I don't know that much
But I know this much is true
I was blessed because
I was loved by you
You were my strength when I was weak
You were my voice when I couldn't speak
You were my eyes when I couldn't see
You saw the best there was in me
Lifted me up when I couldn't reach
You gave me faith 'cause you believed
I'm everything I am
Because you loved me
You were always there for me, the tender wind that carried me
The light in the dark shining your love into my life
You've been my inspiration through the lies you were the truth
My world is a better place because of you
"He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart…
Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation."
Psalm 91:4, 14-16
So maybe I have found myself in a one of those cheesy moods. This week began with Hakuna Matata and it is going to end with Because You Loved Me.
This posting is to announce that I have in fact found true love and it DOES exist. It is the most perfect and amazing love out there. It is a love that is selfless, brings security, leaves no room for fear or worry, is something you cannot live without and brings great joy and completion. Yes, you have heard me correctly. I do believe in true love and I am convinced that is does exist in this sinful and ugly world.
Over the past year, the roller coaster ride, that is my life, has brought me to a place where I finally recognized that 1 Corinthians 13 Love can be accomplished and it does exist. When you have been betrayed, abandoned and lied to, you are left alone which opens the door for true love to find its way into your life. Now I am not talking about that soul mate kind of love but instead the love that only the perfect husband could provide: a love that can only come from a person who can do no wrong, who is totally selfless and loves unconditionally.
Not too long ago I received a message from a friend who dealt with divorce. She provided me with some huge encouragement and thanks to this special person; it sent me on a quest to find my true love. She told me that through her pain, she as well as her daughters found a complete new faith in God and He became her husband. That is where I am right now.
I am no longer relying on a person to love me the way in which I need to be loved. God has been here all along; I just didn't allow Him to love me the way that He wanted to love me. I guess I didn't understand how it could work when there wasn't someone physically present to hold me or to say verbally "I love you" but I understand it now.
For months, I lived in fear and pain until I finally opened my eyes and recognized the cover of protection and unconditional love over me as well as my kids from His mighty wings. God has revealed Himself in so many ways to me that I have no doubt whatsoever that everything is going to be ok. He has the book for my life, that He wrote, opened up in front Him and as long as I rely on Him and trust Him, He is going to take care of me.
It's actually pretty exciting. I was driving in the car the other day with my 10 year old and he told me that he liked the new mommy. That this mommy smiles and laughs a lot and does not cry like the old one. It was a profound moment for me as I realized that He really is changing me and that my kids can see that change. I have found a confidence in His love that allows me to live without fear and worry. I have assurance in His plan because He is my Father, my Creator and my Husband.
Life will now be different. I have always had faith in Him but now I have so much more.
September 13, 2010
Hakuna Matata! What a wonderful phrase
Hakuna Matata! Ain't no passing craze
It means no worries for the rest of your days
It's our problem-free philosophy
Hakuna Matata-The Lion King
Ok, so I know this is not scripture but of recent days it has become the theme song in our house. My three year old has fallen in love with Simba and Nala. She carries them through the house daily singing Hakuna Matata which translates to "No worries". Isn't it funny how a Disney song can be a reminder and source of comfort to a mom when she needs it?
If you have not seen the movie the story goes a little like this;
A young lion prince is born in Africa, thus making his uncle Scar the second in line to the throne. Scar plots with the hyenas to kill King Mufasa and Prince Simba, thus making himself King. The King is killed and Simba is led to believe by Scar that it was his fault, and so flees the kingdom in shame. After years of exile he is persuaded to return home to overthrow the usurper and claim the kingdom as his own thus completing the "Circle of Life".
This story has become my life. Now I have not killed anyone or been falsely accused of killing anyone but instead have been accused of doing things I have not done and made to believe things about myself that are untrue. Because of this, I found myself in exile but slowly I am returning to the main land in which I live and realizing that truth wins in the end and because I am the daughter of a mighty King, I have no need to worry.
Simba had to return to the "Pride Land" in order to clear his name and make things right. It took time for him to reach that place of believing in himself but when he did, he returned to Pride Rock, defeated the enemy with the help of his friends and Pride Rock was returned back to its beautiful state before it was ruined by Scar. Now in the movie, a group of lions, a baboon, a meerkat and a warthog accomplished this. In real life, the Creator of the universe will have this victory. The mightiest warrior alive will defend His children and restore the wrong done, making it right.
A counselor told me once that even though life may seem like hell right now, one day my life would be restored and God would bless me with a love like one I had never known. However, was also told that the person who was causing all the hell would continue to live in torment until they recognized their need for God and find true peace.
Until then, I sit and patiently wait upon the Lord and His timing, singing Hakuna Matata because I know I have no need to worry.
I will extol the LORD at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
2 My soul will boast in the LORD;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
3 Glorify the LORD with me;
let us exalt his name together.
4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
6 This poor man called, and the LORD heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them.
8 Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.
9 Fear the LORD, you his saints,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.
11 Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
12 Whoever of you loves life
and desires to see many good days,
13 keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their cry;
16 the face of the LORD is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
17 The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.
18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
19 A righteous man may have many troubles,
but the LORD delivers him from them all;
20 he protects all his bones,
not one of them will be broken.
21 Evil will slay the wicked;
the foes of the righteous will be condemned.
22 The LORD redeems his servants;
no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him.
September 10, 2010
I am at a crossroads. I would truly enjoy some feedback on this posting because I really would like some input on the belief of other Christians out there.
What does the bible say about unconditional salvation? Can we lose our salvation? What of those who profess to be a follower of Christ but their actions, words and lifestyle reflect something very different?
I know a person right now who is living a lifestyle in front of some that leads those people to believe that they are godly and walking a righteous path but behind closed doors, is manipulating and destroying another believer. This person does not seem to feel guilt or act as if they have a conscience. It is almost scary. They live as if the lies they tell are complete truth and it has becomes their reality.
When I think about it, I do not know which scares me more. The fact that this person has a following and that those following are totally sucked into this world of lies or that this person can act, speak and live in this way without feeling any sort of conviction. What does that say about their spiritual health?
Scripture tells us that none of us is good (Mark 10:17-19) and we all sin (1 John 1:8). The important question to ask then is are you convicted when you sin? If you lie, does the Holy Spirit convict you? When you hurt someone, does the Holy Spirit tug at your heart? If you cannot answer yes to that question, I believe that you may not truly be saved.
I have asked more than one pastor about their thoughts on losing your salvation and one of the responses I received has always stuck with me. His response was that if you fall away from God and there is no conviction for your sins, though you may have prayed the prayer, it most likely was not sincere and you are not saved. There are so many out there that proclaim to follow Christ yet everything they do speaks to something different. Scripture says that we are known by our fruit.
"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
If our life does not reflect good fruit, then how can we claim to be Christ followers?
I am truly at a loss. My heart breaks for this person and all I can do right now is pray for them because I truly question their salvation. I know I cannot judge but I care for this person enough that I do not want to think of them spending eternity in hell and so I will choose to pray for a spiritual awakening. I pray that this particular heart will be opened and possibly, for the first time this person will feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
How do you combat something so evil? I know God is greater than any enemy is. I know He will have the victory in the end and that His justice will be served but how do you survive against something so dark that makes you feel as if you're living hell on earth? When I am around this person, it is truly unnerving. I literally begin to shake and my spirit becomes unsettled. Every time I know that I am going to have to see this person I have to pray to get prepared for the battle that takes place spiritually within me.
What are your thoughts? Do you know anyone like this? Do you believe that salvation can be lost?
September 1, 2010
"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us."
These past few weeks have been a whirlwind. Remember that door that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that had closed? Well the windows are beginning to open and it is so incredibly refreshing. After months and months in the desert thirsting and alone, I have finally found an oasis that has quenched the soul and brought much relief.
So many new opportunities and exciting things happening which have kept me extremely busy but I am so incredibly thankful for every moment as it is only proving to be blessings of God's faithfulness.
I haven't been able to write much lately but did have two questions sent to me about two posting that I had previously written and so I am going to take the time this morning to answer them and hopefully shed some light for this anonymous person.
Question 1 (references posting Reflection 8/24): Okay, so I believe also that God has great plans for us, but what happens when we deliberately disobey him? Doesn't that remove us from his will and therefor his plans of prosperity for us?
Absolutely. God is Holy and we cannot be in His presence or in His will when we sin or deliberately disobey. The important thing we need to realize is that we each deliberately disobey Him every day. Every time we lie, we deliberately disobey. Every time we gossip, we deliberately disobey. Every time we show disrespect to our spouse or friends, we deliberately disobey. Every time we put work, hobbies, or even a person before God, we deliberately disobey. You see, every one of us deliberately disobeys God pretty much every day which means that we should come before Him every day, confessing our sins/disobedience and asking for His forgiveness. No one is perfect, though many would believe differently about themselves, and because of this, we need Jesus. He came to save us because He loves us. God is the most incredible daddy we will ever have. I have five amazing kids who deliberately disobey me every day, but no matter what they do, they could NEVER lose my love. It was not until I became a parent that I totally understood this love that God has for me, His precious daughter. We are all going to screw up and do the wrong thing, but God will NEVER turn His back when we seek His forgiveness. Knowing that He loves me more than I love my kids is more than I can comprehend but that is ok. I know it is true and in that there in such peace and confidence because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am a child of God. As long as I continue to seek His will and His face, He will bless me. It doesn't mean that I will not fall on my face from time to time but the awesome thing is that is He is ALWAYS there to pick me up, brush me off, wipe away the tears and hold me until the pain is gone.
Question 2 (references posting The Great Adventure 8/16) What was the sermon? Why do you feel like God wanted you there and Satan didn't?
The sermon was about missions and the Great Commission. This is something I have a strong desire for and over the years have forgotten because of the circumstances in my life. I love people and want to love people where they are but sometimes the church can make you forget who God created you to be and over the months, He has really been working in my life to show me my purpose in His plan. How do I know it was God and not Satan that wanted me there? Because the last thing that Satan wants is for us to be with a body of believers worshiping God. On top of that, there is no way that Satan wanted me to be reminded that I am to go out into the world and share the love of Christ. That would be the LAST sermon he would want me to hear. Most importantly though, I know when God is speaking to my heart. I know the peace that comes from hearing His voice through the chaos and acting in obedience to His direction. You can spot a person out of God's will a mile away. They are constantly stressed, paranoid, obsessed and looking at everyone as if they are the enemy. They have no peace in their life and are constantly looking for ways to bring down others because it brings them temporary happiness. The problem is just that though, it is only temporary and then they are up and running to find the next victim to bring them some validation. Sounds harsh but it is true. That is the ugliness of living a life without God and focused totally on yourself. That is a life that brings no glory to God. Many out there proclaim to be followers of Christ but do not know peace because they cannot get past themselves. You know when you are walking with God and when He speaks to you. There is no guilt, no shame. These are the lyrics to one of my favorite songs and if you feel like you are not good enough or do not deserve His love and grace, listen to this song. You will hear the peace in the voice of the singer and recognize that he gets it.
There is no shame
No pointing fingers
There is no blame
What happened yesterday…has disappeared
The dirt has washed away
And now it's clear
There's only grace
There's only love
There's only mercy and believe me it's enough
Your sins are gone
Without a trace
And there's nothing left now
There's only grace
You're starting over now
Under the Son
You're stepping forward now
A new life has begun
Your new life has begun
An' there's only grace
There's only love
There's only mercy and believe me…it's enough
Your sins are gone
Without a trace
And there's nothing left now
There's only grace…
Get back up, get back up
Reach out and take my hand
Get back up, get back up
Get back up again
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