Monday, September 26, 2011

Only A Step From Satan's Door

This is a poem that my Grandma wrote. I've always remembered it since I was a little girl. It paints such a picture.  Enjoy...
Only a Step From Satan’s Door

Only a step from Satan’s door -
    The man, so old, was bent in sin;
His past relived before his eyes,
    For death was slowly creeping in.

He’d had a home where love abounds
    And shared a mother’s tender care;
He’d known a father’s guiding hand,
    And love for him was everywhere.

He’d been to church and learned the ‘rule’,
    For he’d been taught the wrong from right.
He’d heard of Christ - the crucified -
    The only way, the Truth and Light!

“Some other time,” had been his plea,
    As worldly pleasures beckoned him;
He turned from all the things held dear
    And, thus, began his life of sin.

Drinking and gambling, day and night,
    Soon had possession of his life.
His money seemed to waste away
    With nothing left but grief and strife.

For all his friends had turned him down,
    His job was gone, he’d lost his health;
His family, home, and self respect
    Departed with his dwindling wealth.

It’d been a gay and carefree life,
    As year by year sped quickly by;
But sin had left its crimson mark
    And, now, he was about to die.

For, in a drunken state of mind,
    He’d staggered from an open bar
Into the path of death, itself -
    He’d fell beneath a speeding car.

An ambulance was called in haste,
    For there had been no time to lose,
And, to the hospital, they rushed,
    The latest victim of the booze.

There, all alone, the end so near,
    The man in agony did lay;
Only a step from Satan’s door -
    Only a moment left to pray!

He thought of family, home, and friends -
     Of early days where love was found.
He longed to see each face once more -
    To hear just one familiar sound.

But there he lay, so far from home,
    As nurse and doctor stood close by
Trying to ease the pain he bore -
    Seconds before he was to die.

Only a step from Satan’s door,
    As on the bed of death he lay;
Troubled in spirit, breath by breath,
    His life was fading fast away.

Then, from the dim, swept past once more,
    He saw the Savior’s outstretched hand.
“Come unto me, I’ll give you rest;
    Break free from Satan’s last demand!”

Would he respond to this last plea
    And trust the Lord to save his soul,
Or had he waited once too long
    And Hell would be his final goal?

His trembling hand reached out to grasp -
    As if something were there in space -
And taking hold of God’s firm hand,
    A smile began to light his face.

He motioned for the doctor, then,
    To bend down low, that he might hear
The parting words he had to say;
    His happiness shown through a tear!

The doctor had to strain his ears
    To catch the old man’s dying word
And in a feeble voice - so faint,
    Well, here is what the doctor heard:

“I’ve spent my life all warped in sin,
    While traveling down the road I trod;
Only a step from Satan’s door,
    But Safe, at last, to be with God!”

And with these words the old man died,
    A smile still lighting up his face;
For not in Hell but Heaven above,
    He’d found his final resting place!

But don’t live like that old man did
    And wait ‘til life has passed you by;
You man not have the chance he had
    To turn to Christ before you die.

Don’t wait until you find that you
    Are just one step from Satan’s door’
Repent, believe, receive Him now -
    Be safe with Christ forever more!

- Norma Sara May Davis

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Spiritual Worth of the Stay at Home Mom

    “You’re picking up toys on the living room floor for the fifteenth time today.  Matching up socks, sweeping up lost Cheerios that got away.”  Listening to the new song by Steven Curtis Chapman, I wondered if he had a hidden camera in my house.  I’m sure I’m not alone.
    Being a stay at home mom definitely has it’s challenges.  I miss my career.  I long for adult socialization.  I wish I still had the spending money to go shopping for pretty clothes and get manicures at the nail salon.
    I honestly wouldn’t trade these things for the opportunity  I have to be at home with my children, but I do miss having a “real” job.  Besides what I miss about going off to work, I personally struggle with doubts about my worth and what I’m contributing to our household financially.  Every time I swipe a credit card or sign a check I can’t help but feel a tinge of guilt about spending what I didn’t earn.
    I’m not writing this to tell other moms that they should quit their jobs and stay at home.  I believe everyone should do what God has called them to do.  The Bible says “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms”  (1 Peter 4:10)  It was just time for me to get into the word and find out just what it said about my new “job”.
    My biggest struggle is that I feel as if  I’m not contributing enough.  I’m not making any money to add to our household budget and that’s a tough pill for me to swallow.  Having worked since I was fifteen years old, I’ve been used to my own personal pocketbook for a long time. I also spent many months during my single days struggling to make ends meet.  I can surely crunch the numbers, now, to rearrange our budget, but I can’t throw any more change in the pot, and I feel bad about that sometimes.
    Contrary to my own anxieties, the Bible tells me not to worry about money.  “Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have.” (Hebrews 13:5)  “For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”  (1 Timothy 6:7-10)  “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
    Sometimes I feel sad or ashamed that I don’t get to be “pretty” anymore.  I don’t wear nice clothes.  Why bother?  I will just spill bleach on them, splatter grease, or get spit up on.  I’ve traded in my long, styled hair for a shorter, simpler cut.  There isn’t much time for makeup and jewelry gets yanked off within minutes of wearing it.  This is especially tough for me coming from the beauty industry, but the Bible tells me that “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”  (1 Peter 3:3&4)
    I also worry what everyone else thinks about my “job”.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “do you work or do you  just stay home?”  That really stings.  It’s not in my nature to be sarcastic or argumentative, but contrary to what today’s society may think, I do not sit on the couch eating bonbons and watching talk shows on television.  We stay very busy.  Rather than angrily justify myself to my phantom readers by listing our day to day routine, again I must remember to turn to the Word. 
    I remember reading in the Bible how Titus was supposed to teach the older women of the church so “…they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands so that no one will malign the word of God.” (Titus 2:4)  This scripture was under the heading “Doing Good for the Sake of the Gospel”.  Did you ever stop to think that something as simple as being a good wife and mom is actually spreading the good news about Jesus?  
    In that song, “Do Everything” Chapman later goes on to sing
“Little stuff big stuff in between stuff
God sees it all the same
And while I may not know you I bet I know you
Wonder sometimes does it matter at all
We’ll let me remind you it all matters just as long as you do
Everything you do to the glory of the One who made you
Cause He made you
To do every little thing that you do to bring a smile to His face
And tell the story of grace with every move that you make
And every little thing that you do”
    Everything we do should be to bring glory to God.  “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (1 Corinthians 10:31).  Even if its something as simple as taking care of your home.  “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith…” (1 Timothy 5:8)  That last verse was something I just recently learned.  Not only am I serving when I take care of my family, but its actually a disservice if  I don’t! 
    The best thing about being a stay at home mom is being with my children.  I’m so blessed that I no longer have the heartache that comes along with hours spent separated from my babies.  It’s a blessing for me and for the kids.  (As much as they may take it for granted sometimes!) I truly believe that what a parent is doing at home is one of the greatest opportunities to serve God.  The Bible tells us to “train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”  The very foundation of what your child is going to believe for the rest of their life is in your hands.  Nearly half of those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their savior do so before the age of 13, and 2 out of 3 will do so before 18.  Jesus said “…Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”(Mark 10:14)  We are serving God in the most glorious way when we are bringing precious little ones to know him!
    If you are like me and you start to feel this shame or worry creeping back in, remember these scriptures, and look for more.  Search God’s word to find the answers.  And remember to do “everything you do to the glory of the one who made you.”

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Out of the mouths of babes

And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. -Matthew 18:3
This morning I wanted to read to my 3-year-old daughter from John 14 because we like to talk about God's big, big house that we will go to some day:  "My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."(v 2&3)
I asked her if she knew what Jesus was talking about and she said that she did. "I know all about Jesus," she said.
"Can you tell me what else you know?" I asked her.
"I know that Jesus loves us, and that he died on a cross."
"Do you know why?" I asked.
"God hates sin- when you do bad stuff, like when you have to go to time out, you have to be punished because God doesn't like that. Jesus went on the cross to take our punishment."
"But Jesus came back to life, right?" 
She nodded her head, "mmmhmm"
"And where is he now?" 
She pointed up to the sky and said, "Up in heaven getting the house ready."
I praise God that my little girl know this! It is a very simple lesson. Jesus told us to be like the little children in our faith. Look at what I learned today!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Armor of God

"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."  -Ephesians 6: 10-17 

I had hear this passage before, and I even liked it so much I have a print of the armor of a Roman soldier hanging up in my den with the scripture. I didn't really look at it as something I needed to reflect on daily, but I am starting to see the real importance of this "armor" and how much it helps me to truly understand it's significance.  
I learned at church just this past week that our struggles or fights -all of them- are not with people.  The person that we have a conflict with is not our enemy.  They are only a victim of "The Enemy".  And you know who I'm talking about, right? Satan. I don't even like to talk about him, but I need to because he is always ALWAYS scheming against us.  I can't tell you how much that changed the way I was looking at things.  When I am involved in a conflict I always use up all of my energy being angry with the person.  That is exactly what he wants.  It's not always about a giant, earth shattering, soul stealing, good verses evil battle with Satan.  He loves his small victories, too.  It's all of these small things that he gets through with that beat us down and cause us to forget our true purpose. 
I'm asking God's help to make me more aware of these battles that are going on all the time.  Every time Satan gets a hold of one of my "strongholds" and tries to use it against me, I need to realize what's going on.  It's not just part of the natural scheme of things.  It truly is supernatural. 
If you read my previous post about trying to come to terms with my past, I am recognizing that was truly an attack from the Devil.  He wants me to think I'm not good enough to be loved by God.  Well, I'm really not, but Jesus is, and because of Him I can have a relationship with God.
I want to share with you what God has shown me.  It is helping.  I am thinking about this armor all the time, now!  Every time I start to hear that ugly voice in the back of my head, I am coming to this:

I put on the belt of truth:  The Roman soldier's belt was the foundation for the rest of his armor.  The truth is Jesus.  He is the"way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him." (John 14:6)  This is my foundation.  My solid rock.  Every thing I am rests upon this truth, and it trumps all of Satan's lies.

I put on the breastplate of righteousness.  Jesus is my righteousness.  I can never be righteous enough on my own to come to God, but because of Jesus I am under God's protection.

I will wear the sandals of readiness and peace.  Our peace is the Gospel.  Jesus' life, death and resurrection is the only way to be at peace with God.  Just like a soldier who must always have his sandals on to be ready for battle, I will be ready in this peace I have because of Jesus.

I will carry the shield of faith.  My faith is in the power of God.  Our mighty, mighty Father can protect us from anything the Enemy hurls at us.

 I will wear the helmet of salvation.  Jesus is my salvation.  He is my savior, my redeemer.  He will deliver me from any evil.

I will take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.  This is the weapon God has given me to defeat the Enemy.  The Word of God is more powerful than anything the Devil has.  It is living. John 1:1 tells us "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."  Jesus is the Word and He will always prevail over the evil one.

I will return to this over and over again because this battle is going on around us all the time. Whether we really want to be part of it or not, we are.  This is the only way to stave off the attacks and prevail for the Lord.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Someone recently stepped out of my past and said I was a hypocrite because the person I used to be was so bad.  It hurt.  It brought up a lot of feelings.  Mostly shame.  Something was whispering to me that they were right.  "Look at what a waste you were.  God can't love you".  I am grateful that I have faith enough to know that it was Satan whispering these ideas into my ear, not the voice of truth.
I want to share my testimony with anyone who may read it.  Not to try and prove my worth, now that I am a Christian, but because I want anyone who may struggle with some of the same feelings that I have to know that it's okay.  God does love you.  He loves you while you're still a sinner and wants you to come to him no matter what.
I accepted Jesus as my savior when I was young, but, as I heard it put by Joni Eareckson Tada, I had not given Jesus the "throne of my heart".  I was saving it for myself.  I was living in the world to please myself.  It was like I had Jesus in my pocket and I could get him out if I needed him, but I would keep him in there so I could do what I wanted.
I can't really tell you about a certain moment that I finally decided to give myself wholly over to God.  I just know I felt quite empty through the majority of my late teens and twenties.  God was always there trying to lead me to the narrow path.  I could feel the desire to let go.  I think it took for me to understand that I wasn't the one with the power.  If I kept relying on myself to choose good without asking for God's help I would fail every time. I had to make a decision to repent- not just say I was sorry, but turn away from my old ways and let the Lord lead me.
The thing that I struggle with the most is that obviously I was not being identified as a Christian back then through my actions.  I was a walking contradiction.  I am so sorry that those who saw me then, may have ill feelings about Christianity because of  what I have done.  I know God has forgiven me as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).  It's hard to forgive myself.  This is where I have to stop relying on myself and let God take over.  He will replace the shame and guilt with love and light.
I didn't write this in hopes that people will look at how "good" I am now.  If it weren't for the cross, I would still be doomed even if I had turned away from my old ways.  I want everyone to know that I didn't do anything.  Jesus did it. He paid the ultimate price and washed me clean.  If you are reading this and you have some of these types of feelings, I encourage you to let them go.  I promise you that God loves you and wants a relationship with you.  No matter what has happened before.  Just forget about all that stuff.  I know you may be scared to let go of your life like that or think that you aren't strong enough to turn away from the world.  Well, you don't have to be.  Just let go and ask God to take it all from you.  He will.  He can't wait.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Faith in God doesn't mean hoping He will answer your specific prayer. It means giving all your fear and worry to Him and knowing that His will is certain

Recently, during a much needed "mommy nap", in which I often use the quiet time to pray and meditate on God's will and word, I suddenly shot awake with a revelation!  It was apparent to me that it was something that the Lord had laid on my heart for some time.  It may sound obvious to some:  "Faith in God doesn't mean hoping he will answer your specific prayer.  It means giving all your fear and worry to him and knowing that His will is certain.
Like I said, this may be quite obvious to some, and for those I congratulate you and pray that you are sharing this with your brothers and sisters.  But for me, I think it was something the Lord had been telling me for some time and I finally  listened. God hears all of our prayers.  "Know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself; the LORD will hear when I call to him." Psalm 4:3  Although it is difficult, we must understand that our human wants are not always in accordance with His will.  "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him."  1 John 5:14-15
It is impossible for us to truly comprehend why and how our Heavenly Father does what He does but I believe He truly delights in us giving up all control and putting our trust fully in Him.  He knows everything there is to know about us ("If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything" 1 John 3:20), He loves us more than ANYTHING- after all, he gave up His Son for us! ("For God so loved the world he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16), and he absolutely knows what is best for us and our lives( "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5)
I finally get it!  God wants us to let him be in control.  I truly believe that when Jesus told the Pharisee in Matthew 22:37 that the greatest commandment was to "‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ this is what He was talking about.  How can we love God with everything we have if we aren't trusting Him that what He is doing in our lives is what is supposed to be happening?
I am not a preacher and I'm not ever going to tell someone else what they should be doing.  I want to just encourage my brothers and sisters to read the Word.  It is our instruction manual.  It tells us everything we need to know.  PERIOD.  I would, however, like to share with you how this "revelation" has changed my prayer life.  My whole life I have always prayed for this and for that.  "Lord please do this... Lord please do that"  I'm not telling anyone that's not okay or that God doesn't listen to those prayers, because I know for a fact he does.  But, I started praying more like "Lord please move in my life and show me your Will.  Take away my self indulgence and help me to accept what you want for me.  Let me trust in you completely and wrap me in your arms and carry me through."  AND HE DID.  He does.  Every time.
So, I'm not going to tell you to pray this way.  I just want to ask you to try it.  Try it and earnestly seek out God's will and see how He moves in your life.
Jesus told us it was the most important thing - to love the Lord with EVERYTHING.  I really do think this is the big part that most of us are missing.  Personally, I think God has been telling me this for a long time, and I can't tell you how much of a difference it has made since I listened.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Jesus in Disguise

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together.  One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:  “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"  Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  Matthew 22: 34-40 
Jesus tells us that the most important thing is not only to love the Lord with everything we have, but to love each other as much as we love ourselves.  If you are anything like me you may find yourself thinking that is really hard.  Sure I love my family and I have love for my friends and brothers and sisters in Christ, but do I really have love for someone who's point of view I completely disagree with?  Do I love the dirty homeless person who I see on the street who's probably there because they are addicted to drugs?  Do I love someone who doesn't believe in Jesus and hates everything to do with Christianity?
Jesus said “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that.  And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.  But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:32-36  Did you see that it even said wicked?  I think that covers everyone.  God loves them just as much as he loves us.
Do you remember that song by Joan Osborne from back in the 90s?  What if God was One of Us?  I used to think that song was kind of blasphemous.  "...Just a slob like one of us..."  I thought "Of course he is not one of us!  He is King of the Universe, not a slob!"  I was recently challenged in my thinking when I read about the sheep and the goats:
  “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.  All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
    “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
    “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
   “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
    “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,  I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
    “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
    “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
    “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” Matthew 25:31-46
I want to be in the sheep section, don't you?  So maybe that Joan Osborne lady was on to something after all.  What if that "stranger on the bus" really is God?  Jesus pretty much tells us to treat him as he is.  If we are doing something kind for those people, it is just like we are Mary Magdalene washing Jesus' feet. 
Try this:  imagine every person you see today is Jesus in disguise.  I don't mean fall on your feet worshiping them, but be kind to them in the way you would want to be kind to Jesus if he needed something from you.  See how that changes your outlook and how much love it fills you up with.

Dear Lord, thank you so much for the love that you have shown us.  To give us your Son is the ultimate and unimaginable portrayal of just how much you love all of us.  Lord, fill us up with your love so that we might give it away, freely, to anyone and everyone we come across.  So that those who don't know you will see your love in us and want some, too.  Let us be identified as your children by outsiders seeing your light shine in us!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

John 3:17

You're probably thinking "don't you mean John 3:16?"  I just heard this in church, today.  It meant so much I just had to come and share.  Almost everyone has heard John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."  Even people that are not Christians have heard this scripture, but the sad thing is that we are surrounded by people who think that doesn't apply to them.  People that think they are so bad and have sinned so much in their life that there is no way that they are "good enough to become a Christian".
That is why if we just read ahead a tiny bit we get some more good news that might even be better news for some people.  "For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.  Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God's one and only Son." v 17&18.
It doesn't matter what you've done or what you're going to do.  You could have committed some of the most heinous acts know to man and you can still be saved.  Or you could have lead the most honest and righteous life ever and still not be saved because you don't know Jesus.  It just goes to show us, that it's not about us it's only about Jesus.  There is nothing we can do to get to Heaven accept call on Him.  That is Good News!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What I'm learning from Roman's 8

I'm Free From the Law of Sin and Death

This is something I've just recently learned.  Until I learned it, I spent the majority of my life relying on myself to "do good" and not "mess up" and when I inevitably did, I spent the rest of my time feeling shameful about my own inadequacies.  Finally, as I told you before in a previous post, I read Romans 8 and for the first time really understood that God had taken care of all of that for me, and I should not be relying on myself for anything.   
The law is good and just, but if that's all there was it would be impossible to get to God by following it.  That's because we just can't manage it all on our own.  By ourselves we are naturally governed by the "flesh" or self fulfillment and that is always going to lead to sin.  Verse 7 says the "the mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God.  It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so."  We can't do it.  It's just not possible
But "what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.  And so he condemned sin in the flesh," - verse 3.  Jesus became a man just like us, but he is the only person who has ever been able to do it - meet the requirements of the law, and condemn sin once and for all.
Once we belong to Christ, the Spirit of God lives in us.  We will automatically have our "minds set on what the Spirit desires," verse 5.  The amazing thing is that once the Spirit of the one who was powerful enough to raise the dead actually lives inside of us, He is absolutely powerful enough to remove sin from our lives!
It's not to say that we will never sin again, because we are still flesh and weak, and we naturally have that self fulfilling desire.  "I can do it," or "I should be better".  That's when we will fail every time. We must learn to succumb to the Spirit that dwells within us.  It will guide us and lead us in what He desires.  And it will totally change your life!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? Part II

I wanted to take some time to share with any of you who might be reading something that is weighing very heavily on my heart.  I have a dear friend who has recently learned that her mother has stage 4 stomach cancer.  In the few weeks since the diagnosis, the news just keeps getting worse and worse.  I want to console my friend, but there is not a lot you can say.  I've just told her to "trust in the Lord, it's part of His plan.  Let Him carry you through these tough times"
She is understandably distraught, but also angry.  Why should someone like her mother, who has already been through so much, have to go through this?
It isn't really my place - or anyone's for that matter - to question our Father on His plan, but I have been quite desperate to give her some kind of assurance.  The best place to turn when you have questions like this is to prayer, and scripture.  I turned to one of my favorite chapters in the entire Bible - Romans chapter 8.
The first time I really tried to read the Bible with understanding something changed in me when I got to this chapter.  At that time I was a new mother and life was really stressing me out.  I was constantly feeling ashamed for not being good enough. When I got to Romans 8, I finally understood that I could not keep relying on myself to do anything.  I really truly learned about my new life in the Spirit "because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:2
I will soon tell you more about how Romans 8 changed my life (you've really got to read it), but right now I want to share more about my friend.
So I turned to my trusty chapter and read a verse about suffering. "The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.  Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." Romans 8:16 & 17 and then later "As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." verse 36.  
This "suffering" that is mentioned - I knew about that.  They were talking about all the saints who'd come before us and died defending their faith.  Or future Christians during the great tribulation that will perish in the name of Jesus...right?  Never had I considered that all of us will suffer here and now just because of who we are.  
But then I remembered "For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it" (Matthew 7:13,14).  If being a Christian were easy, everyone would be jumping on board, but its not.  It's not just hard to stay away from temptation and lead a holy life, but everything is going to be hard: marriage, parenting, work, school, health - all of it.  We have to remember that these hardships, as devastating as they may be, are paving the path to glory.  And "...our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us" verse 18.
I'd like to ask you to pray for my friend, her mother and their whole family.  Please pray for God's will first and foremost.  Pray for her mother's health.  Pray for healing - God willing, and peace and comfort.  Please pray for my friend and the rest of her family.  Pray that they will surrender to God's will and that they will be able to trust in Him completely and allow His Holy Spirit to carry them through this trial.

"Father in Heaven, thank you for giving Your Word as an instruction manual to life. Thank you for letting us come to You in prayer and always hearing us. Thank you for sending us Your Holy Spirit to intercede when we are so devastated that we don't even know how to pray.  Thank you for bringing your precious Son up from the grave to sit at your right hand and also pray for us.  Thank you for letting nothing separate us from Your love for us.  Please guide us in letting nothing separate us from our love for You.  Amen"

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?

Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?  For some, this is the biggest question. It may be the one thing that keeps a person from having a relationship with God.  It is often an atheists biggest argument. I have definitely struggled with it before.
"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." - Hebrews 11:1, so I know that whatever God does is righteous even if I don't understand it or like it because of my faith, but it's so hard to explain that to someone. I have caught myself doubting it sometimes.
I like to listen to KLOVE radio.  They often have a segment called "behind the music" where there are stories of the inspiration behind a certain artist's song.  So often I hear stories of a terrible tragedy that has befallen one of these artists.  One day while I was driving in my car and listening to one of these stories I thought to myself " Why are these horrible things happening to these awesome Christian people?  They are so much better than me, and look at the tragedy in their lives." Right away I got my answer: that is why they are such good Christians!  
You might be thinking "that makes no sense", so I'll explain. The story of Jeremy Camp's wife, Melissa, particularly inspired me and you can read more about it if you aren't familiar here: . But basically Jeremy's wife Melissa died of cancer and he turned around and made some amazing, inspirational music.  I don't know about you, but I always imagined that if something like that happened to me, how would I go on living?  How would I ever get out of bed and face the day? Let alone stand up and glorify God because of it!  To simplify the thousands of thoughts and feelings I had about that revelation: That is why God let that happen to such good Christians as Jeremy and Melissa; because of that tragedy they were able to bring such glory to God. Jeremy said: "That was such a good act of obedience for me, just saying, 'Lord, I don’t want to do this, but I know this is why I am here.' "
"I remember not wanting to ask God, 'Why,' but I finally did, and God always spoke to me. He said, 'Jeremy, I don’t always want you to know why, because I want you to have a testimony of walking by faith.' And I had written that song previously on our honeymoon, Walk By Faith."
"And I look at these songs that come from it, Walk by Faith and I Still Believe. I wrote two weeks after she went to be with the Lord," says Jeremy. "I have seen story after story of God using this whole thing to show His faithfulness to encourage people. That blows my mind realizing that Melissa made that statement, that if even one person accepts Christ. I hear thousands and thousands of stories. I remember being on my face after that realization and God said, 'Jeremy, 'Remember.' "- from the interview Jeremy Camp: Melissa's Dying Wish by Audra Smith.
Romans 8:28 tells us "We know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose."  Yes it would be so tragic for this to happen, and I'm not saying that Jeremy doesn't have every right to mourn the loss of his wife, but wont it be wonderful when he gets to Heaven to hear his master say  "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!" and to meet all of the other people in Heaven who are there because if the message that God inspired in him!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

...and 10 years behind I started my own blog

I remember playing "the Sims" on playstation years and years ago and seeing the option to have your sim "blog" and I had no idea what that even meant. Now I'm here trying to do it for myself. I always thought there would be no reason for me to keep a blog because I can't write particularly well and who would want to read about my life, anyway?
No one may read it, but every once in a while I have a profound desire to share my thoughts with someone and this is how I guess I can do it. If something I say can be a blessing to just one person then I guess it's all worth it.
I just started reading a new book recently called "Crazy Love". Last year when I was in the choir at my old church, someone who I really didn't know just handed it to me. I put it away on a shelf and thought I will read it after I finish ______.  So a year later I still haven't read the book. The church I was attending right before my son was born started doing a study with the same book. Kind of cool. I thought "okay, I'm going to read that book soon". Then, the other day I went to the book shelf, juggling the baby in one arm and searching for another book with the other and I pulled out "Crazy Love" by mistake. I thought "Okay, Lord, you want me to read this book."
I started reading the book right then and within five minutes, I really felt as if my whole life had changed! Have you ever had one of those WOW moments like that? Needless to say, I really recommend this book (but I always recommend reading the Bible first and foremost), and I hope to share more and more of it as I get further into it.
I just want to share what really grabbed me and shook me. And it's not like I didn't already know, but sometimes you've got to be told again in a different way before you really get it. I've had a really challenging year. I left my job, I got pregnant, we bought a house, moved, my grandma died, my other grandma got cancer and died in front of me withing 3 months, and then I went into labor 2 months early and had my son prematurely and had to watch him in the hospital for 3 weeks. It was a lot. Not all of it was bad, and I knew it was all part of God's plan for me, but I kept finding myself still trying to figure out "why".
I'm going to share what I read in the book that gave me such an "aha" moment. I hope I'm not breaking the law by copying it word for word, but this comes directly from Crazy Love by Francis Chan:
"God is all powerful.  Colossians 1:16 tells us that everything was created for God:  'For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth,visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.'
Don't we live instead as though God is created for us, to do our bidding, to bless us, and to take care of our loved ones?
Psalm 115:3 reveals, 'Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.'  Yet we keep on questioning Him: ...'Why are so many people dying of starvation?'...'Why is my family so messed up?' 'Why don't You make Yourself more obvious to people who need You?'
The answer to each of these questions is simply this: because He's God. He has more of a right to ask us why so many people are starving.  As much as we want God to explain Himself to us, His creation, we are in no place to demand that He give and account to us."

Does that WOW anyone else? How can we possibly dare to understand why the creator of the entire Universe does what He does? We wouldn't understand even if He did tell us. That is how this epiphany of mine came to be. How I finally began to understand that I am His. Everything I am is His. Its all for His Glory. It's not so I can have a good time while I'm here on earth.  After all, earth is only a second in the grand scheme of things. Who knows how all the trials and tribulations we face here on earth will shape us for what is to come in Heaven - our real existence. Is it as mind boggling to you as it is to me? I could sit and think on it for hours.
The author of this book put it in layman's terms for us "If my mind is the size of a soda can and God is the size of all the oceans, it would be stupid to say He is only the small amount of water I can scoop into my little can."

Here is my prayer for today:
Father in Heaven, You are so mighty and majestic. You created the entire universe. Your power is indescribable and beyond limits, yet you still love me and have a specific plan for my life here on earth.  Forgive me for not trusting you at times. Help me to always remember that you are always in control and I don't need to know why You do what You do, but thank you for doing it! I love you so much, Father, and I am so grateful for Your grace so that I can have a relationship with you. In your Holy name I pray.

There is always a song that says it just right!