This Temporary Home

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“Nothing makes us more vulnerable than when we love someone. We can be hurt very easily, but I’ve always believed that what you get when you love someone is greater than what you can risk.”

-Commander Chakotay: Star Trek Voyager

I don’t believe that you will ever come across someone who isn’t broken in some way. To have never been broken…is to have never loved. As Chakotay said above, we know that love is painful, but we continue loving anyway because it is worth it. Every single moment.

Let’s face it, we live in a temporary plain. It is an unavoidable truth whether you’re a Christian, Jew, Muslim, or Athiest, it doesn’t matter. No one is immune to suffering and pain. God has never promised us that we wouldn’t suffer, in fact, if anything He promised we would, in John 16:33 Jesus says that, “…in this world, you will have trouble.” And yet He promises something else to, “I have told you these things so that you may have peace.” We can have peace amidst our pain for He pours out the peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:7).

King Solomon was regarded as the wisest man. He understood the fleetingness of life, the meaningless toiling, and pain. And yet he concludes that despite it all, it is important that we enjoy this life, that we don’t just survive, but truly live. I mention this because eternal beings in a temporary plain can forget the imperishable truths, the insatiable longings for our true home. We can forget this thing called hope.

And that hope is this, though we suffer greatly, though we are but broken vessels…this pain too is temporary. God says that He will personally, “…wipe every tear from our eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things have passed away.” That is our hope, God never breaks His promises.

What stirred up such a post today? Well, to be honest, our church has recently suffered a terrible loss. A family who gave up everything to move here because they were called by God, suffered a fatal blow by none other than satan himself. A friend, mother, and passionate sister in Christ lost her life in a car accident leaving behind a loving 3-year-old boy and an amazing husband.

So many dreams, a future gone in the blink of an eye. It’s been a very rough week…I’ve cried and screamed, I’ve wanted to write but found that I had no words to say. What can I say?

Today God has sparked some hope within me again. His promises remain, and heaven awaits us all. It’s never “goodbye”, and always a “see you soon!” I can’t imagine the celebration that awaits us, the reunion with friends and family, never to be separated again.

All to Jesus now, no turning back…no turning back.

Until we meet again Rachel Sullivan.

 

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Blogger Recognition Award

Sixth Seal Ministries nominated me for the Blogger Recognition Award! I am honored, thank you!!

Sixth Seal Ministries was created to, “shine the light of God’s Word into the hearts of His people in these dark days; that we may be equipped to stand firm in holiness and godliness, as we eagerly await His return.”

For more information about Sixth Seal Ministries click the link below!

Sixth Seal Ministries

The Rules:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog
  2. Write a post to show your award
  3. Give a brief story on how your blog started
  4. Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers
  5. Select 15 or more fellow bloggers for this award
  6. Let each nominee know you have nominated them and leave a link to your post

A brief story on how my blog started:

I started this blog while I was attending the Columbus School of Supernatural Ministry. God had started to open my eyes to what it truly means to be a Christian. His Presence, a relationship with Him, has substance. I discovered that He is tangible and ever chasing after us. Throughout my learning and experience, I sought a means to share all that I have learned. We are all on a journey, I share mine in the hopes of awakening hope in others, just as God did for me.

Two pieces of advice to new bloggers:

  1. Liking your follower’s posts is great, commenting is even better. Invest in others, build them up!
  2. Be genuine, with your posts, with your comments, and with your followers. Heartfelt honesty is what people are hungry for in a world centered on the superficial.

My Nominees: 

  1. “Jesus Christ Still In Control”
  2. There Is Hope!
  3. Matthew Winters (Comeback Pastor)
  4. Emeka Ofili
  5. To Declare His Glory
  6. A Christian Worldview of Fiction
  7. atimetoshare.me
  8. Pastor Unlikely
  9. In My Father’s House
  10. Following Him Beside Still Waters
  11. josephsdailywalkwithjesus
  12. Hallelujah
  13. Kristi Ann’s Haven
  14. Becoming His Tapestry
  15. Brandon J. Adams

#1 Fan

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It’s that time of year again, when families crowd around a tv screen with Football jerseys and chicken wings, cheering and shouting as their favorite team scores. At the stadium people become even more excited, with painted faces (or stomachs), waving #1 fan signs and screaming until their voices grow hoarse.

It’s a good time, but I’ve often discovered that it can also be an obsession. Just say the phrase, “It’s just a game,” and see what kind of response you get. I’m not saying that it is wrong to be competitive or momentarily caught up in the joy of seeing your favorite team win, but what does concern me is how often and how easily we become #1 fans of things that ultimately don’t matter.

Let me put it this way, lately, Aaron and I have been trying the Keto diet, and the results have been great! We have easily become #1 fans of this diet, so much so that we end up talking about it to everyone. It’s exciting and fulfilling sharing the “good news” of Keto, and it’s very easy. Aaron and I have enough knowledge under our belt that we are ready with a reply to any question someone asks, and by the end of the conversation, we have most people convinced or converted to the Keto way.

Does this scenario sound uncomfortably familiar? Good, it did to me also. I was sitting at a restaurant, listening to Aaron talk about Keto with our church friends and realized that it was too natural. He spoke with passion and excitement, just like I do when I talk about Star Trek. Have we really forgotten what it’s like to be #1 fans of Jesus? Shouldn’t we be sharing that good news a bit more often? Shouldn’t we be excited to share our faith and find it natural, with replies ready on our lips to any question?

Maybe I am being harsh, or maybe not. At least, I feel convicted by how often we talk and think about things that aren’t God-centered. There’s nothing wrong with interests or hobbies, things that we enjoy and love. The problem occurs when those things take precedence over God. There is only one throne room in our heart, and if He isn’t sitting there then something else always is. We are creatures of worship, fashioned in such a way to give glory and praise to God. And it is an easy pitfall for us to worship other things, look how often it happened in the Bible. Idol worship back then makes us cringe, and yet it is just as common today, among Christians!

I merely wanted this post to be a wake-up call, for myself and for anyone else who feels the same. There’s no condemnation here, just a realization that we are imperfect beings always in need of correction and guidance. And ever always in need of God and His abounding grace.

Lord, I want to be your #1 fan before anything else, you are what I desire and long for. You alone deserve all the praise, honor, and glory. Keep my heart pure and set on the right things, and protect me from satan’s pitfalls and traps, so that I am not led astray. My heart is yours always, thank you for your gift of grace, Amen. 

The Wilderness

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“They did not say, ‘Where is the LORD Who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, Who led us through the wilderness, Through a land of deserts and of pits, Through a land of drought and of deep darkness, Through a land that no one crossed And where no man dwelt?’

-Jeremiah 2:6

Wilderness Definition:

An uncultivated, uninhabited, and inhospitable region.

  • a neglected or abandoned area of a garden or town.
  • a position of disfavor, especially in a political context.

 

Before reading this definition, the images I associated with the term, “wilderness” were relatively positive. I think of hikes through the woods or mountains, enjoying the raw beauty of God. Nature has always been a favorite place of mine to immerse in because it displays God. It is beautiful chaos, yet each facet fits together perfectly. There is a rhyme and reason and a lesson in everything I see. God is very present and very alive in those places, and His voice often becomes as clear as the wind in the trees or in the cry of the hawk.

However, my view of the wilderness is shaped by my experiences. I’ve never been lost, attacked by a wild animal, or caught up in a storm without shelter. Nor have I ever experienced another form of wilderness, such as the desert. The wilderness I know is rich and full of life, while the wilderness the Israelites knew, was a hot and unforgiving wasteland that only the strongest could withstand.

It is that “wilderness” in which Adam and Eve were cursed into. It was that wilderness in which Abraham raised his family, awaiting God’s promise. It was that wilderness in which Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt. That wilderness in which Jesus was tested by satan.

Over and over again the bible mentions this wilderness. It was a place that the jews sent their sins into in the form of a goat, hence the term “scapegoat” (Leviticus 16:10), a place that the high and proud King Nebuchadnezzar was cast into like a wild animal, feasting on grass (Daniel 4:33). The wilderness was a place where the proud became humble, where faith was tested, and you could become lost in more ways than one.

Why did God create such a place? Why did He cause the Israelites to wander in it for 40 years? Why did Jesus have to go into the wilderness to be tested?

I believe there are many reasons but the core lesson is this; His grace is sufficient.

We have nothing, can do nothing, and are nothing apart from God. It is only by His grace that we live and are blessed. Every man must go through such a trial in order for this truth to come alive in his heart. Otherwise, we will always believe that “we” can overcome challenges on our own, or by our own might. We will take God’s blessings for granted or will attribute such blessings to our own skill and success.

“Consider it a gift when you hit a point in which God is your only option.”

-Brian Johnson, Christian singer/songwriter

“Faith is the inner confidence that God is enough.”

-Brian Simmons, author of the Passion Translation

Jesus often went away to the wilderness, even after he was tested by satan, to spend time alone with God. I believe it was in these moments Jesus renewed his strength. It is easy to forget that he was a man too, that he faced every hardship and suffered more than anyone for our sake. If the Son of God needed to go off alone and pray, then how much more do we need to do this?

Each of us has walked in or will walk through the wilderness. Maybe not in the literal sense, but in the spiritual one for certain. It is only through such a place that we learn to trust God, to surrender it all to Him, because only He can save us and our families.

Food For Thought

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Every action we take first began as a thought.

Were Adam and Eve by the Forbidden Tree when satan tempted them? The bible doesn’t say, however, it does say that the tree was placed in the middle of the garden. I find this interesting, it makes me wonder if the tree could be seen no matter where you were in the garden. Adam and Eve in any case, probably grew accustomed to passing by the tree even if they gave it a wide birth. And it’s even more likely that they thought about the tree, even though they feared God’s wrath. Like a child told to not touch a plate of cookies, they may have outwardly taken a step back but inwardly imagined taking a bite.

And what about the Tree of Life? It too was placed in the middle of the garden for all to see, and yet unlike the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, God didn’t command Adam and Eve to not eat of it’s fruit. They could’ve eaten it’s fruit at any time, possibly unawares since the bible doesn’t show God describing this tree or it’s name to Adam. He was placed in the garden after God had created the trees, and God only named and pointed Adam to the one that was forbidden. It makes me wonder if God placed the trees together for a reason, maybe as a possible test. Should Adam and Eve pass the test, then would God have then told them about the Tree of Life and offered it’s fruit to them Himself?

I’ve discovered that God never hides gifts from us but for us. Through seeking and overcoming challenges He reveals His blessings and secrets to us. In other words, maybe He was hiding the Tree of Life for Adam and Eve to find at the right time, when they had proven they were ready for it.

Another possibility is that Adam and Eve were more captivated by what they couldn’t have than what they could. That was the lie that satan deceived them with after all. He made them believe that God had withheld something good from them, when in reality He had given them everything including the Tree of Life. Did they turn their backs on it all because of that one forbidden thing? It is possible, considering how people are today. The girl you can’t have because she is married, the car you can’t afford, the cake you can’t eat because you are dieting…desire for something has been proven to increase the moment you find that it is forbidden or unattainable.

Lastly, as a final food for thought.

Did God want to see if Adam and Eve would fall into the same sin as satan? The bible describes satan before the fall as being given much authority and beauty. Some believe He was even the angel in charge of worship. (See Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14) His sin that led to him being cast out of heaven was pride. He thought himself a god worthy of worship, and in this he turned his back on his blessings and the one who gave him such blessings, all because of the one thing (the throne seat) he couldn’t have.

In both cases, the sin wasn’t in the thinking but in the doing. Eve taking a bite of the fruit, satan outwardly rebelling against God, turning to violence, and influencing a third of the angels to follow him. And yet, we should still guard our minds from such thoughts that lead to sin. Our thoughts and our focus reveal our heart, and a heart that is set against God does not go unnoticed by Him. Nor does it go unnoticed by those around you, eventually our true colors will shine through, spilling out in action.

What are your thoughts on the garden of Eden/the first sin?

I Fold My Hands

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I fold my hands

when trouble comes

and darkness blocks my way

because I believe

His glory shines

brightest in the rain

 

I fold my hands

when I am scared

I know His words are true

that no matter how the storm appears

what can it really do?

 

I fold my hands

when I am sad

no tear escapes His view

and every time He lifts me up

I know…

all I need is you

 

Lately, I’ve been going through a lot of stress. But I realized during prayer at church, how easy it is to still fold my hands and pray. How easy, yet also, how necessary. Prayer is more than what we do, it’s a part of who we are. It connects us to what really matters. God is our anchor and He has the final say no matter what we are going through. That is why I will always fold my hands, because God is bigger than anything we may encounter in this life, He understands and He has an answer. Just never stop praying, never stop hoping, and never stop believing…God is Good.

 

 

The Pharisaical Christian

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“And Jesus said, “For judgment, I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, “We are not blind too, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.”

– John 9:39-41

There are two kinds of Christians today. Those that reside in the Old Testament and those that live in the New Testament. Let me explain.

The Old Testament reflects an old covenant. It was a time before Christ when man had to strive for perfection, sacrifice to atone for sins, and had to follow many laws to be in “right standing” with God. This was an impossible task, and only a select few could experience God’s presence and live to tell about it. This covenant’s very purpose was to pave the way for the new covenant and to prove to us how very much we needed a savior.

The New Testament reflects this new covenant that fulfills the law of the old. Jesus becomes the bridge between God and man. The veil is torn, and the Holy Spirit comes down to live in us. Authority is given back to us, and our sins are forgiven. Now we no longer have to strive, but can actually “be” righteous because of the Holy Spirit within us.

I’m sure there are some emotions that we could say reflect each Testament as well. For the old, there is a lot of shame, guilt, despair, unworthiness, and unsatisfied hunger. We see a separation between God’s people and a one-sided power. Anyone who could withstand God’s presence or who was the chosen mediators held the power over those who lacked this authority. Towards the end of the old, we see what this authority created in the pride and self-righteousness displayed by the Pharisees. (Man strives/God works)

The New Testament was bought with sacrifice and pain, and yet we see an outpouring of joy, compassion, and power. There is hope and redemption, and everyone is treated as a brother or sister in Christ. No longer does your striving for righteousness lead to salvation, but belief in Jesus Christ as the Messiah does. The message also changes from condemnation to love. (God works through man.)

A pharisaical Christian, therefore, believes in Jesus but from an old covenant perspective. In their mindset, the Holy Spirit no longer resides in power within us. Test them in this and you will be met with the same responses the Pharisees of old spoke to Jesus, such as, ” he (Jesus) casts out demons because he is the ruler of the demons.” (Matthew 9:32-34). In all honesty, the pharisaical Christian is opposed to the very character and nature of Jesus, which promotes love above all else.

I would highly advise that we all use proper discernment because of this. I’ve discovered that many Holy Spirit led people have been labeled falsely due to this denial that he still works in miracles and power today. In other words, just as Jesus was labeled a demon worshipper for his deeds, so will many today that continue his work. Pharisees remain the same in every era, in that they will try to destroy and mislabel an act of God.

And what a serious crime it is to give satan glory for something God has done. This is the unforgivable sin that Jesus mentions in Mark 3:28-30:

“Truly I tell you, the sons of men will be forgiven all sins and blasphemies, as many as they utter. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of eternal sin.”Jesus made this statement because they were claiming, “He has an unclean spirit.”’

I say this with sadness because they are our brothers and sisters also. The heart of every Christian is to please God, and I believe that this desire is expressed differently because we are divided on what God’s Will really is. I believe it is hard for many to grasp that God both prizes the law and its fulfillment in Jesus. The Old Testament served its purpose and is recorded as a reminder to us how necessary Jesus was in restoring our relationship with God. His original design is displayed openly in the Garden of Eden, where we don’t see sacrifices or an angry God, but a deep friendship and co-laboring that is again possible today.

Unfortunately, it is the pharisaical Christian that therefore promotes the image of an angry God, and if any are led to salvation through such a Christian, it is out of fear of punishment than out of a love for God. We’ve all seen the bible thumpers, the fire and brimstone preaching and signs held high with the unanimous message, “turn or burn.” As if Jesus’s sacrifice wasn’t enough to atone for sins as if it wasn’t in great love that God gave up His son freely for us.

We see what appears to be a change in the very character of God from the Old Testament to New because the covenant changed. The circumstances allowed God to be considered a friend to man, rather than opposed to man. Keep in mind, God still is opposed to sin, but thanks to the Holy Spirit, God can reside in us an work through us despite the sin around us. God is the ultimate redeemer, and He is redeeming us. The Bible is a love story, and God loves us so much that He didn’t leave us fallen and broken but gave His son to restore us back to that garden.

“I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends since I have told you everything the Father told me.” (John 15:15)

The law cannot be followed through the efforts of man, but now through the Holy Spirit, the law can be followed, without effort. This is because our hearts now reflect the Will of God. The Pharisaical Christian has not yet been transformed by this truth. They do not know how to embrace the new covenant and unlock it’s many gifts given freely and paid for at a great price. In pride, they memorize the Word of God and yet they refuse its power. The religious spirit keeps them bound and unchanging and this is falsely perceived as steadfastness. When in truth it is stagnation.

It might seem harsh and blunt for me to say these things. And if while your reading this you feel offense I want you to question where this feeling comes from. Jesus never once felt such a feeling, and yet the Pharisees grew offended at every turn. I have faced this feeling and have faced the spirit in which it is connected to. Humans can easily worship the wrong things, can misplace priorities and therefore lose focus on what really matters. Why? because we have an enemy dead set on dividing us all, distracting us all, and ultimately destroying us all. He isn’t worried about the Christian who places religious rituals and structure above a relationship with Jesus.

Lastly, I will say this. God is bigger than our idea of big, He is better than our idea of good, and He is more loving than our idea of love. Our boxes don’t contain Him, the Bible isn’t a book of all the possibilities of God, only a handful of such possibilities.

“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14:12-14)

If Jesus himself promised us that we would do even greater things than we must believe that greater things can happen. That the Holy Spirit is alive in us, otherwise we could do nothing apart from him.

My prayer is that every Christian would recognize their potential in Christ. That they wouldn’t be afraid to step out in faith and believe in God’s Word despite the world and maybe even their own brothers and sisters persecuting them. That they would be above offense and filled to overflowing with love and compassion for people. That they would see a person and not just a sin. That they wouldn’t condemn or judge another but would let the Holy Spirit work in their lives and convict their hearts toward change. That miracles such as healing, prophecies, and visions would be a welcomed act of God, and that division in the body of Christ would be but a long lost memory.

It is time to embrace the New Covenant of God, to walk in all its promises and gifts.

To reflect Jesus and His great transforming love.