Learning To Wait

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“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” 

-Psalm 27:13-14

I always thought that I was a patient person. It seems like my whole life has been one waiting game after another. Waiting to graduate, to meet my spouse/marry, to see a spiritual breakthrough in a situation, to be promoted in the kingdom of God, to see our dreams become a reality, to get pregnant…the list goes on, and each time we grew in our patience and trust in the Lord.

Growing up as an only child meant that I would have to be creative during the long summer break from school. I remember having moments of intense boredom, lying in bed racking my brain for anything fun that didn’t involve others. Generally, I ended up reading, playing video games, or creating my own worlds/stories with the stuffed animals/ TY Beanie babies I owned in abundance.

But nothing compared to the rare occasions in which the neighborhood kids asked to play with me. They would pull up on their bikes and mom would let them in through the back gate. Together we would play, eat popsicles, and never run out of fun games/ideas. When before I wanted the days to end, their presence made the days too short.

Today, during this Stay At Home lockdown, I find myself in a similar state of mind. Though, perhaps, this time it’s worse. I’m no longer a child, oblivious to the world and its problems. No matter what I do, I can’t shake the spiritual attack pressing in through my thoughts, threatening the peace and trust within me. It’s a daily battle but I won’t be defeated!

Social distancing has separated me from my usual escapes and favorite people. And though I still trust that this will all blow over soon, it has, unfortunately “changed” some plans. The baby shower was moved to May (I’m due June 2nd) instead of being this weekend, and the long-awaited final 3D ultrasound had to be moved because the doctor’s offices won’t allow my spouse inside. My excitement toward labor has also been under attack, as many hospitals are forcing women to give birth alone during this crisis.

The patience I have so long harbored is ebbing away, like sand through my fingers. How do I maintain patience at such a time as this? I know that I’m not alone in this feeling, many others are pregnant, own small businesses that had to close, or are simply shut off from everyone and everything right now. Thankfully, no matter what you are going through, you are never alone.

I know, it might sound like a Christian catchphrase to smooth over hard times. But that doesn’t change its truth. God never leaves you, He has never left you, and this time of waiting and trusting may be pivotal in your walk with Him.

So many Christians easily claim, “all I need is God/Jesus,” and yet, now find themselves needing//fearing/wanting so much more. Perhaps in this time of waiting, we won’t keep Him waiting. Maybe we’ll take this time to really reflect on what we say we believe, and put our words and faith to the test.

Remember, Easter is coming. Do your problems really stack up to His sacrifice? Does your joy/hope reflect that of an empty grave? No matter what, there are some things the enemy can never take away from you, and those things alone should fill all our hearts with praise!

My advice is to take this time to get to know God and His heart. Worship, pray, and most importantly, listen to His still small voice in your spirit. Just as He is always there, He is always speaking…we are the ones who pull away and fail to listen. As Easter approaches watch The Passion movie or Son of God etc. Often times to change our perspective we need to take a step back. Turn off the news/ take a break from Facebook and instead dive into God’s Word. Watch Him renew your time and give you real rest.

Other waiting tips:

  1. Be outdoors as much as possible! Take walks, ride your bike, find a new place to encounter God.
  2. Keep a journal. Record your thoughts and conversations with God. Challenge yourself to write one thing each day God is teaching you.
  3. Keep some Bible verses handy! Write them on flashcards or record them on your cell so that anytime you are feeling afraid/stressed you can read these verses aloud.
  4. Clean, Clean, Clean! Garden, re-arrange the house, clean out the fridge/closets/cabinets you name it. It just feels good!
  5. Really get to know your kids/spouse. Take advantage of this time to build good memories and draw closer to one another.
  6. Create a schedule. It’s easy to get lazy and that can lead to depression and lack of motivation. Set a schedule to keep your mind/body healthy and to promote action.
  7. Plan a summer yard sale. While you are cleaning you may come across a bunch of junk your willing to part with, now is the best time to gather up all those unwanted items for a yard sale. Summer will be here before you know it!
  8. Don’t overlook those small tasks! That dripping faucet you keep forgetting to fix, that unfinished painting you set aside and haven’t touched in months, make time for these tasks each day and you will feel accomplished.
  9. If you get tired, take a nap. Honestly, so long as you aren’t sleeping the day away, a good 20-minute nap here and there can help relieve stress at this time.
  10. Feeling lonely? text, call, facetime, or set up a “social distancing” get together. What does that look like? You can meet at the park, I’ve even seen people sit in the back of their cars in a parking lot somewhere and just chat at a safe distance. It is up to you to find creative ways to respect the law as well as meet your social needs.
  11. Create a list of blessings and a list of all the things you want to do this year. Be hopelessly optimistic! 2020 isn’t over, it’s only just begun. ❤

May God bless you all with safety and peace during this time of waiting. Hang in there! You are not alone and no storms of life last forever. See?! The end of this thing is coming! It’s just on the horizon, look toward it and trust in the Lord. This time of waiting is coming to an end. Will it have been wasted? That’s entirely up to you…

The Quarantined Church

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“Though the Church building may close its doors, what of the body?” 

This last week has got me thinking about how we are to continue being the Bride of Christ at such a time as this. And so, here is a word to the churches that have closed and to those who remain open. Feel free to comment below any other words of encouragement/advice that have helped your church family survive and thrive during this world crisis.

To the churches that have closed their doors: There is no judgment upon you! However, how are you continuing to be “the church?” So long as you are continuing to fulfill your call as part of the body/bride of Christ, then you continue to be the church outside of your brick walls. What does that look like?

  1. Keeping in contact with one another/staying available and “reachable” to the world around you. That means keeping your phone on! Checking emails, and reaching out through these means to others. Other examples:
    • Write letters to the nursing home residents, send care packages to those who are, at the moment, cut off from society.
    • Face-time/call/write to those who are sick, praying over them aloud.
  2. Live streaming sermons (if this is possible) so that church can continue from home, and be an open/ready source to others looking for hope.
  3. Giving/Serving community: This can look like virtually anything, it all depends on how much you are willing/called to give of yourself. As a church or as part of the body, we must be lead by the Spirit and unafraid of where he leads us.
    • This can look like dropping off goods at your local shelters
    • Making sure your elderly neighbor has everything they need
    • Being respectful and helpful toward fellow shoppers (this is a great opportunity to demonstrate the love of Christ)
    • Start a local prayer chain, go on prayer walks around your town while still abiding by the law/restrictions of your area.
    • Giving online to your church/local businesses
    • Ordering carry-out at struggling restaurants, writing good reviews of their service at this time might draw more customers to them.
    • Mailing/Delivering bibles/devotionals wherever led/needed

The message here is that the “church” is more than a building and just because its doors may close, the Christian heart should not! Our duty remains and we are designed to be deployed during any form of spiritual attack. Which is exactly what this is. Ask God how you can contribute today and be His light to a hurting world.

To the churches that remain open: Follow the convictions of the Holy Spirit, if you are called to stay open, do so with caution and respect toward your members and those who are overcome with fear. Remain accessible to your fellow men, regardless of whether they come on Sunday or stay home. What should the open church look like?

  1. Skeleton Crew functioning: At this time, you don’t need 5 greeters, 4 ushers, and 15 kids’ ministry workers, nor should your workers feel as though they have no choice but to fill these roles. Less is more, and have a plan B in place for those who don’t wish to serve. (No judgment policy)
  2. Pre-service prayer/worship: I can’t stress the importance of this step! There is power here to affect the atmosphere of your church, and that will, in turn, affect those who walk through its doors. Pray against the virus and fear! Make declarations that your church will be a safe haven to all. This also gives your staff guidance and clarity on how to best minister.
  3. Use common sense: If you play with a rattlesnake, you’re getting bit and you can’t blame God for that. In other words, keep a clean church!
    • You can’t overdo it at this time, just clean, clean, clean! And preferably do some light cleaning before service so that when people walk in, they immediately feel at ease by the aroma of cleaning supplies.
    • Keep bathrooms stocked with soap/the hard to get toilet paper, if you have a changing station have it well stocked and ready.
    • Keep hand sanitizer on tables and avoid serving uncovered/or unwrapped food.
    • Encourage those who have colds/illnesses of any kind to stay home-seriously if you so much as sneeze nowadays people panic.
    • Avoid greeters. No one wants to shake your hand, sorry.
    • If you run a cafe, have permanent markers available so that people can write their names on unmarked drinks.
  4. Re-configure kids ministry: This is entirely up to you, but we have decided as a church to close our older kids/preschool class temporarily and instead offer them little lesson packets/gift baggies during the adult sermon so that they can sit with family and color/read quietly.
    • If you have a nursery/or kids class that is remaining open, do everything possible to reassure parents that you value the safety and health of their children.
    • Have a plan in place for any child who develops symptoms while under your care. (Isolate and notify parents)
    • Keep track of all toys handled and tables/chairs touched during class. Follow your church’s kids’ room closing procedures after service, and then close/lock the door behind you so kids don’t sneak in there unawares.
    • Hand Sanitizer/washing upon entry to class and before snack is a must!
    • Keep a calm and peaceful attitude: Children are aware of the growing tension at home and on TV, they are scared and need the reassurance that everything is going to be ok. You might just be the only person who gets to comfort and demonstrate God’s love to them at this time. (If you are too scared or stressed to serve, don’t. It’s that simple)
    • If you wish to close your kids’ ministry as we did our weekly gift bags involve coloring pages, a take-home lesson to do with family, some crayons, and possibly wrapped suckers/lollipops, and stickers. (items vary based on age)
    • And lastly, if your church can, continue to live-stream sermons and stay optimistic. Plan future events, continue as though you plan on continuing and sow into hope instead of fear. If any serving member is stressed or afraid, pray together before service. This is a time of warfare and we are God’s soldiers. Don’t forget it!

Regardless of what your church decides to do, be a beacon of hope and not of further terror. We are New Testament believers and so I advise focusing messages on the New and avoiding the Old unless your quoting Psalms or something that promotes hope/peace. 

You can have all these things listed above in place and fail to reach anyone if you mirror the world or uphold the belief in an angry God. People are looking for sanctuary and a place to rest in peace, remember that when you write your sermons or post on Facebook. And if you forgot the kind of God you serve, then look to Jesus. He is the example of how we are supposed to be and He demonstrates best who God is and His will for mankind! 

God bless you all and continue to fight the good fight, in Jesus name. Amen. 

Pregnancy: 3rd Trimester

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It’s the final stretch! At 29 weeks pregnant, I have only 11 weeks left to go! Looking back on the 2nd Trimester, though it started off rather shaky with Braxton Hicks contractions and the continuing hint of nausea, it was the easiest part of pregnancy so far!

The nausea left completely, as did my ravenous hunger, lack of energy, and overall emotional state of mind. Braxton Hicks contractions even lessoned up as I learned what triggered them. There were moments in which my heart palpitations were a nuisance, but even that symptom could be managed by drinking plenty of water and avoiding eating sugar/carbs before lying down or just avoiding large meals (a challenge in and of themselves).

At its end, I was finally enjoying pregnancy somewhat. Baby James is quite active, and my belly is finally pronounced enough to be a bump (or more so, a basketball). I feel myself bonding with James more and more as I familiarize myself with his movements, his likes, and dislikes, and his reactions to my touch and voice. It’s all becoming real!! I will be a mother in two months (give or take) and now I’m getting excited more so than anxious about the labor experience.

After months of dreading labor, to finally look forward to holding your baby in your arms is proof to me that God knew what He was doing when He decided the length of pregnancy. Anything less than 9 months is doable but stressful, anything more than 9 months is beyond our patience I think. At the time of our labor/delivery, we are just to the point of wanting the kid outa us and ready for the next step, motherhood.

I am ready for my body to be my own again, though I still savor my son’s movements and know I will never forget what it felt like to carry him inside. It is both a wonder and a mystery to see how much my body can change and what it is able to endure. Even what James is able to endure is astounding (having survived a car crash at around 25 wks!).

My doctor appointments are now every 2 weeks and at my last one, I drank the dreaded glucose serum (which wasn’t too bad) and had my blood drawn. The difficulty of the test wasn’t so much the flavor of the drink, which tasted like an overly sweet/cheap fruit punch, but in the amount and time frame in which I had to drink it. Being pregnant makes it difficult to guzzle liquid or food in any extraneous amount. Our stomachs are small and pushed up, and our digestion is slow. I found myself burping up the liquid for a while afterward but wasn’t sick from it. I believe eating crackers beforehand really helped ease my stomach and “wake it up” so that it was ready for the liquid challenge.

The blood test showed only that I needed more iron so now I take an iron supplement at an opposite time as my prenatal vitamins, which at this point is no biggie. My doctor also told me that at my next appointment we would have our final ultrasound, the long-awaited 4D images of our son!!!

I really can’t wait to see what he will look like! At 21 weeks I had a 4D shot of him and he was still underdeveloped and lacking the baby fat that he most likely has now and will carry with him into the world. To those who don’t know, these images are still rather tricky and flawed since they are attempting to capture an accurate image through flesh and amniotic fluid. I’ve seen some pictures that can be perceived as grotesque more so than “cute.” If it’s your first child and you want to capture cute images, avoid early pictures when the baby is still underdeveloped and too small to really get an image, and attempt to get your baby lively, maybe drink something sugary and arrive with a full bladder also, so that the photos have a better chance of turning out good.

With the start of my 3rd Trimester, Braxton Hicks have increased in strength and generally occur every evening after I eat dinner and am trying to get ready for bed. Sometimes they feel like they are squashing the life out of me lol. My doctor said that as the day of labor draws near, these practice contractions could become more frequent and bothersome, so long as they go away with a good night’s sleep and aren’t accompanied by other symptoms, they are nothing to worry about and can’t trigger pre-term labor.

I hope that sharing a bit of my journey helps other expectant mother’s out there. If anyone has any questions, please feel free to comment below!

March 31 is our 4D pictures!

April 4 is our baby shower!

June 2 is my due date!

I’d love to hear from other moms-to-be out there! How has the 2nd Trimester treated you? Is your baby a stretcher or a puncher? When is your due date?

God bless you all ❤

 

Bill Johnson (March 15th Message)

Feeling stressed? Not sure how to combat the present evils? Has GermX and soap been your go-to more so than prayer? What’s the fine balance between being smart and being driven by fear? What are we, the church, called to do at this time? 

There are a lot of questions circling and a lot of directions the church is taking during this crisis. Bill Johnson, the pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, California has a message that will answer all these questions and more.

I pray that God uses this message to awaken the church to this great opportunity to “Be” the answer to prayer for many. That a revival will be the outcome of what was originally an open attack from the enemy to sow death, pain, and ultimately fear.

As a pregnant mother, at this time I’ve faced a great deal of fear and not just my own. Many around me have sought to drag me along in this panic. The protection and divine presence of God that we easily trusted before has been put up for question among many of my brothers and sisters in Christ. We have reacted like the world instead of fulfilling our great call to be set apart from it.

There are many verses being taken at random and used during this time. Some are comforting, some feel rather empty, and others are taken so out of context that they simply do not apply to this present situation. Bill Johnson, however, preaches on Psalm 91, and I highly advise all of you to read and reread this verse whenever you feel fear take the throne seat of your heart.

To watch this sermon, start at 1:08:03 unless you wish to watch their amazing worship team and get the full Bethel experience.

May God bless you all ❤

Unshakable

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“Heaven is reality itself. All that is fully real is heavenly. For all that can be shaken will be shaken and only the unshakable remains.”

-C.S. Lewis

Isolation.

Many familiar faces were already holed up in their homes, most likely watching our church live stream. And yet, I was pleasantly surprised by the number of those who came, despite the overwhelming fear gripping the country and the entire world at this time, we still stand together as one.

Perhaps it was the president’s declaration that today would be a day of prayer that stirred us to action, that encouraged our brethren, both young and old, to take a leap of faith. Or maybe, it’s just in our blood, we don’t cave in to the enemy so easily. We don’t bow to fear.

Our enemy can take any form and yet he is still powerless in the name of Jesus. Just as John G. Lake amazed the doctors by his miraculous faith during a plague in Africa (the germs died just by touching his hands), so we can hope to exercise that same faith in our lives today.

Moments like this, that shake the nation, are opportunities to show just how “unshakable” our Jesus is. I’m not telling you to go out searching for ways to contract the virus or to be careless about hygiene to prove your point. Noah had to build the ark to survive the flood, and sometimes we too must take physical measures to protect our homes and families during times of attack. However, whatever we do mustn’t be driven by fear or worry.

Let’s face it, at what point does physical preparation pass over into obsessive fear?  The truth is, there is only so much we can do to fend off an unseen enemy. I believe that is the heart of the world’s terror, is that it’s unseen. A strange thought, considering that our shared foe, the one behind this virus and all other destructive forces, is unseen and quite actively attempting to destroy us all.

There are people shaking in fear over this virus, meanwhile, they are already quite ill and tormented by demons unawares. The greatest afflictions are of the heart and soul. Can mere medicine mend such a thing? No, only Jesus. He is our Healer.

And yet, I see our brothers and sisters saying this is an act of God. Quoting scriptures from the old testament that no longer apply today that support an angry, unforgiving Father who sends plagues and disaster on His people in order for them to repent. I can’t help but get fired up when I see such things, and that is because they are dusting off the old covenant that God has clearly replaced with the new.

Jesus took on the full weight of our sin (for all time!) He is enough! God has given up His authority, has decided to work through us, the very ones that Jesus paid for and restored power to so that we could take a stand against the enemy and fulfill God’s will which is, ” on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)

I believe this not just because I trust God is good, but because I honor and value the very ones that have died. The tornado that hit Tennessee earlier this month, killing (at least) 24 people, and now the virus, killing significantly more (couldn’t find an accurate count). Do we just sit back and say, “it was God’s will that they died, little children, helpless infants, tearing families apart.”? Do we just fold our hands to sleep or do we pray against this blatant attack from satan?!

When we take the stance that God is behind all of this we excuse ourselves from doing anything to fight it. How can we reach a lost world when we have such disregard for it?

I’m sorry if it seems like I’m beating a dead horse here. I know that lately, this topic has been flooding my posts…I just feel so strongly about it! To end this discussion once and for all (possibly) I want to remind us that we have been given the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). If something feels wrong/off in your spirit, then it probably is…death, destruction, suffering, pain, loss, all feel wrong in my spirit. Tell me, can such things come from a good God?

I’ve experienced satan in this life, and I’ve experienced God. They don’t feel the same, they don’t leave behind the same results, and nor should they.

As a church, it’s time to re-evaluate what we believe and how far we are willing to defend those beliefs…the world has enough confusion and the least we can do is make it simple. In Jesus there is hope. And I pray that we will all stand together during this time and remind the world what we believe. That we will pray against the enemy and not fall prey to fear! That this virus will die when it touches our land just as it died in the palms of John G. Lake. It’s time to turn this attack against the devil and send him running!

It’s time to remain, unshakable.

 

Theology Speaks

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At 27 weeks pregnant, I’ve been immersing myself in social media. Not the greatest past-time but one that takes my mind off my own small problems and onto the world’s even greater ones instead…and boy! does the world have problems!

I might be pregnant and battling daily symptoms, but at least in my heart I know it’s all for my unborn son’s sake. That he is very much ALIVE and MY SON. Meanwhile, the world is trying to decide exactly that for themselves. Is a baby alive? How ridiculous to have slipped so far from morality that we have to start at the very premise of what human life is.

Just as I do with my blogs, trying to uplift and instruct, I have attempted to do the same through other social media outlets, particularly Facebook, and have been met with mixed results. Sadly, our brethren in Christ are missing the point just as much as those who are lost. Why is that?

I believe that their theology speaks. Their lack of sound biblical understanding is quite astounding to me. It’s no wonder their arguments never hold up against the “thinking” men. Sometimes it almost sounds like wishful thinking rather than truth, and that’s scary! How can we reach anyone if we can’t even hold our own intellectually? People are so wide-spread in what they believe today that their voices tend to just bounce off of each other, never really making an impact on the reader/listener.

It’s as though they’re speaking without really knowing what they’re saying. Do you know that most of the Christian viewpoints I’ve seen believe in an angry vengeful God? They really think scare-tactics will work in reaching the lost or reaching the women who are aborting their children. They forget that love is honestly the only way to make a lasting difference…we don’t need to shame those who are already full of shame, to the point that they tell themselves it isn’t a baby they just killed so that it lessons the overwhelming guilt on their hearts.

Our brothers and sisters bibles are dusty and their beliefs about God and His character are just as so. It’s a stranger they are worshipping and the world wants no part in their stranger worship. When do we mature in Christ? When do we outgrow this need for milk and move on to solid food, walking on our own two feet, putting our faith into action and opening our bibles more than just on Sundays?

Honestly, I’m venting here more than I’m speaking to anyone who follows my blog. I count you all as “thinking” Christians. Many of you have had real, raw experience with God and your faith has been tested and proven unshakable. You write your blogs because you have a story to tell and not people to argue with. That is maturity!

And so how do we reach our fellow Christian? How do we reform the church into that of Acts, so that no one turns against God because of us?

I believe that each of us may be called to tackle this problem differently, just as each church should do well to follow after/surrender to the God-given vision placed upon them. I’ve seen churches catered to the lost and churches catered to promoting those in ministry in order to deploy them out into the world. Both are legitimate and needed in our society. I firmly believe that some of us could do with more Spirit and others with more Word, that in every church we should destroy this religious spirit that clings to the old way or old covenant, that screams, “turn or burn!” more so than, “Christ’s love paid for all.”

Spirit divorced churches become religious, Word divorced churches become party houses, where people come for a good time but not a meaningful/powerful one. That is why we need more churches that carry both, I’ve seen these churches and they are a force to be reckoned with. They transform the cities around them, the secular world becomes spiritual because their people don’t divide the church (the sacred) from the secular. Their biggest ministry occurs during the week, the day-to-day, at the office, the factory, even at home. It’s not a switch they turn off when they exit those church doors Sunday. The church works as a powerhouse, a place to refill and refresh so that the week outside its walls become impactful/directed.

When we read our bibles we need to understand the context and be wary of those who split up the Word in order to prove a point or to reach an agenda. Don’t put your fulfillment into whether you change someone, or win an argument. First of all, we don’t have the power to change anyone and if we seek that it will exhaust us! Also, no one wants to be your project, and man, just the thought of that sounds so insincere.

Seek God first, just focus on Him and all these other things will just happen more by accident than on purpose, it will be that easy. The truth is people are hungry, no desperate, for a loving father. If they all knew Jesus they would all desire him as their king. So the grand problem really is how we portray His kingdom. Are we good ambassadors? Do people leave our company feeling loved or feeling condemned?

Abortion is an evil deed, but the biggest mistake I’m seeing is that instead of attacking the evil one we are attacking his victims. Our battle isn’t us vs. them, nor should our battles ever involve flesh vs. flesh. Satan is our enemy! In attacking people we are only driving them farther into the devil’s clutches. Perhaps they feel safer in his lying embrace than within our crushing fists!

In other words, to Christians everywhere, please keep the big picture in mind. Don’t attack your brother or sister over small matters. When unified efforts are being made to extinguish the flames of evil, don’t distract us with the smaller offshoots of flame. If you feel called to put them out, then, by all means, no one is stopping you. However, the greater evils require more hands and they cannot be stopped from their work until it is completed.

I’ve lately seen Christians attack each other based on denomination, based on young/old earth theories, based on science, and now even abortion! Christians are trying to drive a wedge into sound arguments, trying to disperse the flock over issues that are smaller and less common, meanwhile, hundreds of babies are being aborted for other reasons entirely. Personally, I support life at all costs, but for those who aren’t sure about some cases such as those aborted from rape or risk to the mother, or even babies that appear to be on the verge of death in the womb, please understand that the greater problem is the 99% who are aborted out of convenience or fear. The 1% can wait, or be tackled with separately. Help us get society to value life again first and then we might just see both the 99% and the 1% get worked out!

Extinguish the big flames and the little flames won’t survive.

Lastly, what God do we believe in? Are we old covenant people who believe God still has wrath to release on us, that this evil spreading is because God has had enough? Do we believe that God takes life and gives it? That it’s His supreme will for this world to suffer and its people to perish?

Again, these are the viewpoints many Christians are expressing on social media. And let me tell you, no one is converted to Christianity by their words! You simply can’t believe in a good God who murders His people, who actively takes part in the destruction of the world, the old and young, the babies! Surely John 10:10 made it clear by saying, “The thief (satan) seeks only to steal, kill, and destroy; I’ve (Jesus) come so that you may have life and have it to the full.” 

God is either all good or He isn’t good at all. Remember, He spits the lukewarm out of His mouth because, in them, they have already decided. You can’t be a fence-sitter because satan owns the fence. This earth is his kingdom and our free will means that God works through us “His vessels (temple)”, to bring about change. It’s a co-laboring agreement and we are failing in that we aren’t being willing vessels! Nor are many of us even useful vessels, some of us are flat out broken and hardened.

It was a lot of words, I know. But my hope is that my ventings, my zealous anger to see the church and it’s people come alive again, like the church of old, will stir all of us toward further growth and biblical understanding. We don’t know everything, we aren’t perfect, but neither are we idle or satisfied by where we are. This whole life is a journey and if we ever feel like we “arrived” before our death than we missed it. Whether we are 9 yrs. old or 90 we should always be learning and growing in Christ, there will always be another step to take forward, and despite our pursuit, we will never reach the end of understanding God’s agape love for us.

Let your theology speak, listen to it! Ask the Holy Spirit to correct you and guide you so that it does more than simply “speak”, but transforms this broken world…

 

We Still Stand

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Maternity Photo: Hope Family Church

Life is never a straight line…even our days are a rollercoaster of ups and downs, moments of peace and moments of war. We tend to rate our days based on how few inner/outer wars there are, from this we determine whether a day was “good” or “bad.” As if circumstances alone accounted for our happiness and success.

It really is all about perspective…Feb. 22, 2020 was filled with anxiety, trauma, motherly fear, and some pain…in the moment, it appeared that day was doomed. I remember Aaron clearly stating at the end of it that “it was still a good day.” And I, hooked up and stuck in a hospital bed for 8 hours of observation remember replying, “no it wasn’t.” I couldn’t see his point of view at that moment, but now I do.

It was a good day, despite what satan intended to do, God saved us and our baby. Many people poured out love on us and prayers and we gained a new perspective on life and the blessings around us. We still celebrated our wedding anniversary and found a deeper love and appreciation for each other. We learned never to take things for granted, not a single day, moment, hour…and most of all, we learned that God still holds us in His capable hands, and loves doing so.

Can I really still say that was a bad day? Do I even have the right to? I heard a quote once that said, “in life, pain is mandatory, suffering is optional.” It’s a really thought-provoking statement that is quite true. I know we can all think of someone, whether in our lives or in history that either faced pain with joy/optimism or succumbed to misery and was always suffering. (Who, I wonder, is remembered most of the two?)

It doesn’t have to be physical pain that hinders us, no, more commonly it’s mental/emotional pain that chains people from their God-given potential and ultimately, stops them from experiencing joy in this life. I am a personal believer in the power of Christ to free such individuals, however, more often than not, they seldom desire freedom, or are willing to seek it out.

Let’s face it, from the perspective of the world we are entitled to suffer, entitled to feel victimized and powerless to do anything about our circumstances. It is easier to let our emotions lead us than to surrender ourselves and selfish pride to God. Surely it is easier to lay down and cry when you are sick than to force yourself to walk around, drink some soup, and get well. People want a cure-all that doesn’t involve self-sacrifice. They would rather their doctors prescribe a pill than give them a list of things they can do (or give up) to see results.

(Please understand that I’m not singling out those born with mental illnesses caused by imbalances/birth defects etc though even still, God’s Will is for healing…what I’m talking about are states of mind that we put ourselves into, “this is coming from someone who did suffer from depression and is now free by the grace of God and through His wisdom)

The truth of the matter is that God should be the one we turn to first. He is the supreme doctor and redeemer, He knows what you need when you need it. And His prescription may be hard to swallow, but it will REALLY cure you. Earthly doctors only know what they see with their eyes, they have no idea what goes on in the spiritual, how many of the people they drug up are actually suffering from demonic affliction rather than physical? They, like all of us, have a family to feed and a product or quality to sell… and so they give you what you want more than what we need.

Those old country doctors that tell you the hard truth whether you like it or not are a dying breed. They didn’t care if you didn’t like what they had to say, they told you anyway, and they weren’t so worried about you taking your money elsewhere, all they cared about was their patients getting well. God is of the same mind, He doesn’t care if you get mad at Him…He’s a good father, who will make you mad if He has to in order to save you, oftentimes, from yourself.

Lately, I admit to being tempted into despair, anxiety, and uncertainty. Financially we really are relying solely on God to help us make ends meet. We are still both being attacked and being blessed often all in one day as if He were trying to remind us, “Hey kids, I haven’t left you…this problem is no bigger than all the other problems we have faced together, and I am not done being your Father!”

Pregnancy, though more enjoyable now that our son is very active, I have more energy and feel good for the most part, still isn’t without its challenges. Mentally and emotionally I’m being tested for sure. With each passing day, I grow larger and look less like “me.” And my delivery date is quickly approaching, regardless of our financial struggles or plans, our son is arriving soon and at his proper time. It is a joy and a terror to think about, but even in this, I choose joy.

Seeing every day as good and being joyful/hopeful doesn’t mean you don’t experience other emotions, it just means you don’t let them consume you. You take authority over your life and your day and just decide to smile, to laugh at satan’s attempts to rob you of something paid for by the blood of Christ. Satan is powerless to rob you of anything, the only way he gains control is if you give it to him. Only you have the power to surrender your authority, to wave your white flag in defeat before the battle’s even begun.

I know it isn’t easy. When I was going through depression, in the middle of my emotions everything felt impossibly difficult. I was tempted to just take some medication, something that looked easier than facing my inner struggles. I can honestly say that if I would have claimed “depression” over my life and succumbed to it, managing or burying it with pills, I wouldn’t be who I am today, or where I am. Eventually, we have to face our monsters, we can’t hide them or stuff them away forever, no pill is strong enough for that. Often times our depression is actually mourning, or the result of an open unforgiven wound of the past, surely, such things must be dealt with rather than stuffed. There is a process of mourning and healing that is painful but necessary.

I really am speaking from experience, not just in my own life but in the lives of those around me. It is my hope and prayer to see other people become free and experience joy while they are here on this earth. It’s too short a time to waste! And what we do here and how we face things will make a huge impact on our eternity.

So today, though satan has knocked me down more times to count, I still stand. So long as I have God, I have all I need to keep standing back up, again, and again…His strength is sufficient for me.