December 30 2014

Christmas – The Reason For Hope

christmasThis year was my second Christmas as a Christian. As I have posted before I have always celebrated Christmas by going broke buying presents and enjoying the magic of Santa and all the other Christmas fairy tales that go with it. There are a lot of other things I love about Christmas, such as the lights and the food and the family gatherings, but the center of it all for me was lots of presents and Santa Claus.

So when I became Christian I realized I had to completely change my focus on Christmas, if I was going to celebrate it at all. Every December the same thing happens. My husband works construction and he cannot work during the rain. December usually gives us lots of rain, and so my husband has a fair amount of time off. Our bills start to pile up, and with Christmas presents, it makes it a very tough month. Yet every December without fail I find ways to go overboard buying presents. Well, in the past anyway. Last year I had to make a decision that presents needed to be cut way back in order to focus on The Reason For The Season – Jesus.

Somehow we make it every year though. OK, not somehow. It’s always been God, I just never knew it before. This year was no different. It poured rain and my husband worked for about half the month or less. We were already behind on our bills and the stress of getting them paid and getting at least a few presents for each of my 4 sons was weighing on me heavily. Well, I can’t say this year was no different – it actually was completely different. Usually I would be caving in under the weight of the stress. I would be ready just find a hole to hide in, or just end it all, because I could not deal with it.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.Matthew 11:28-29

I have had a serious problem with depression in the past and this time of year was always the worst. Knowing that we could not pay our bills, let alone afford presents was enough to take me into a deep, dark world where I would cease to function. But that was before God. Now that I have given my life to Christ and experience His healing salvation, problems are not the same as they used to be. I lean on Him when I am weak. I give Him my stress and struggles and ask Him for help. I literally was praying for a Christmas miracle this year, because I knew that we could not do any of this without Him.

When the stress came I prayed. When the fear threatened to set in, I rested in the shadow of the Almighty. I trusted in Jesus, and put all my faith in the One who I know has always provided for me. It was not easy. Days kept moving by and Christmas kept coming closer. I was so tempted to cave in to fear and depression over and over again. Instead I clung to my Rock and Redeemer. Oh how amazing it has been. Instead of trying to subdue the pain with drugs or alcohol, I felt peace, comfort. I felt safe.

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. Isaiah 9:2

Jesus is the most wonderful gift we could ever get on Christmas day. We hear the story of His birth over and over every December. It is a beautiful story outlining the beginning of God’s plan to save us from ourselves. And it is so much more than that. The story of Jesus’ birth is awesome, but the reality that He is here now, our Glorious King, well that is much more amazing to me.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

And that focus is what got me through Christmas this year. Jesus has given this wretch a new life. A woman who would have easily spit in the face of Christianity, and took Jesus name as a swear word, has been redeemed. Saved. How can that be? How could God love someone like me? How could God continually bless my family and provide for us? I don’t deserve it. And yet He loves me so.

Oh how very humbled I have been this Christmas season. I have watched God provide a Christmas miracle for my family, and He is not done wowing me yet. He has more than provided for us though. He has more than sent us means to eat and pay bills and buy Christmas presents for our children. He has bowled me over with His never-ending and unfailing love. Oh how He loves us so…

cribI picture a little baby laying helpless in a manger, one cold winter night. The angels singing ‘glory, glory, glory!’ and a star lighting up the sky like a supernova. Jesus, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, in the form of a tiny little baby, giving up all His majesty in heaven to come here and be one of us. I see this and I realize He did this for me. Me. I am no one, I am not special, and I am a horrible sinner. Yet that is not how He sees me.

He sees me as beautiful, queen, co-heir, lovely and completely loved. Forever. Through all eternity I am His and He is mine. And so are you. Each one of us, who has confessed with their mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believed in their heart that He died for us. Amazing. Wonderful. Miraculous. Maybe when I was praying for a Christmas miracle I was asking for God to provide for my family, but what I didn’t realize I would get was the best gift of all. A change in my heart – an opening to Him. Opening even more to His love and acceptance.

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 8:17

Being a Christian is much more than accepting Christ as your savior. It is a work in progress over the course of your entire life. The Holy Spirit is going to constantly move you to grow and mature in your walk of faith with Jesus. Every time I think that I have gotten to a great place in my relationship with Jesus and that I am understanding this Christian thing, I learn blown away by something new. Every time I reach a desperate low, I am taken to an all new high. I am so very thankful that Jesus came here to save me. Life without Him was awful and there was no hope, no reason to live. With Jesus I have not only the hope of eternal life with Him, but also the hope of everyday and the promises that He is fulfilling.

so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:11

 

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December 22 2014

Savior of Mine

Jesus is Savior. I think it is hard for many people to think they need a savior. It is easy to just live day-to-day and deal with our problems the best we can. We keep our heads down and just keep moving forward, one step at a time. We know that often we fail when we try to solve all of life’s problems on our own, but isn’t that just the way life is? I know I for one do not like to ask for help, and I am guessing I am not alone in this. Maybe it’s a pride thing, maybe not. Whatever it is, we just don’t see much talk about having a savior in this world.

heroWe do love hero’s however. There is nothing like a good hero. They come in all shapes and sizes – super hero’s, every day hero’s, working class hero’, white night’s, rescuers. They are plentiful in movies, TV, and books. There is just something about a hero that moves us and sparks something deep within us. A joy and a satisfaction. It is just so right and honest and we love nothing more than to cheer for a hero. But a hero is a savior of a different sort.

Yet we often do not see our own need for a savior. Maybe we don’t even know it is an option for us. I know there were many times in my life that I knew I needed to be rescued. I was often lost, out of control, or just really messed up. I struggled with drug addiction and depression. Many times I cried out in desperation and despair, but I didn’t know who or what I was crying out to. I just knew I needed help, but help never seemed to come.

It wasn’t until I started going to church did I realize that it was totally normal and OK to be messed up. Not only that, but that there was help out there for me, a savior, that could bring me out of my darkness. I never liked to word ‘sin’ when I was younger. It was something that made me feel like I was a bad person and I didn’t like it. But what I learned is that sin is not a bad word, it is just the truth. We all live in a fallen world because of sin. We are all sinners because of original sin. That does not make us bad people, or mean there is something wrong with us. As a matter of fact it is a wonderful thing to come to terms with this, because it is in this acceptance we come to find our true identity.

You see you were created as not just an individual, but as a part to a whole. You have a body, soul and spirit, but to be complete there is one more piece to you that is vital. God. I am not talking about just any god, but God the Father and Creator of the heavens and earth. God is spirit, and He made you to be a part of Him. His love for you is greater than anything you could ever know. But there is only one way for us to get to God, and that is through Jesus Christ.

The story of Jesus can be very complex and difficult to understand. He is a man, but He is God. He came down from heaven and became a tiny and helpless baby. He lived an ordinary life for 30 years; a humble existence not fit for any god. He then died a criminal’s death – beaten and tortured, then nailed to a cross and left to die. He hung naked in front of stranger’s who laughed at Him and spit on Him and gambled for His clothes. He suffered like you or I in a human existence. I dare to say He suffered even more than many of us ever have. savior

That is what makes Him so special. That is what makes Him our savior. He was willing to leave all His glory behind to come down to earth and live like us. He left behind heaven where angels would sing His praises so He could die for you. And for me. Why would anyone or any god ever do something like that? Why? All for love, and for nothing more.

When Jesus died on that cross that day, He did it by His own choice. No one forced Him to do it. He worked miracles such as bringing the dead back to life and walking on water. He had all the power to stop Himself from being arrested and murdered, but He did not. Because Jesus was willing to pay the ultimate price to save us from ourselves. From our sin, from our pain, from our death.

I know this might sound crazy to some. After all, who do you know that would be willing to give up everything for you? It’s like a millionaire who gives you every last penny they have. Or a stranger who pays your very large fine in a court case. That’s God. That is your savior. He loves you passionately, fiercely, desperately. You may not be able to imagine that depth of love, but it is there, and it is real. Jesus has all the power and authority to free you from the slavery of your sin nature, and turn you into a new creation.

 

 

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December 18 2014

Who Is Jesus

Who is Jesus? I did not grow up knowing who Jesus was. I vaguely remember seeing a picture of Him, a head shot. He was a white man with long hair, blue eyes, and a white robe. He looked friendly. But that meant nothing to me. Later Jesus was something that I disliked. I still had no idea who He was. He was just that guy who stood for Christianity and everything I hated about it. To me Christianity was oppressive, judgmental and controlling. Just like all religion. So Jesus became nothing more than a swear word to me.

I do think when I used His name as a swear word, which was often, there was a certain amount of guilt in it. Not enough to matter though, so I ignored it. After all, who is Jesus? A historical figure? A story or fairy tale? Probably just a man who was really good who touched people – like Abraham Lincoln. To be honest I didn’t give it much thought. It was more just that  knew what I knew what I knew. I didn’t need actual facts to back it up.

I think there are many people out there who feel the same way. They have come to feel that what they know is enough. They are happy with this knowledge, this worldview, and there is no room for anything more. Well maybe happy isn’t the right word, because inside they know there is something missing. Something big, something they can’t put into words, but it is so obviously lacking. And that is the place where I came to find the answer to the million dollar question: Who is Jesus?

Jesus is that something missing inside of you.

That is a pretty big statement to make, I realize. After all, this is coming from the woman who rejected Jesus her whole life previously, and who used His name as a swear word. Who is Jesus and how would I know? I could quote a lot of scripture from the Bible that gives overwhelming information about Jesus – His life, His works and miracles, His death and resurrection, and so much more. And I will, but I want to tell you something much more personal than that.who is Jesus

I have met Jesus, face to face, and you can too. Anyone can. I know that sounds pretty crazy. I guess by the standards of this world, it probably is crazy. But by the standards of God, Creator of the Universe and Creator of You, it is absolutely real. Jesus Christ came into my life at a time when I was broken, but searching for something more. I knew I had a big empty spot inside of me, that I could not fill. No matter what I did. Drugs, sex, relationships, friends, work, kids, a house, a car – whatever. None of that made me feel any better. At least not permanently. It was all just things that felt good for a moment, then that feeling faded away into nothingness.

Some days it was so easy to pretend I was happy. I had things that we are supposed to have in life. But on the inside I was alone, empty, dead. Part of me knew it, but wanted to deny it fiercely, but part of me knew it was real and was searching…always searching. I just didn’t know what I was searching for until I met Jesus.

When I came into the Christian church, it was a big step for me. I had so many questions about the Bible and Christianity, but most of all: who is Jesus? It took some time to truly understand the answer to this. It wasn’t like I started going to church and I knew Him. At first I was too overwhelmed to even get to the question of who is Jesus. Soon I realized that Jesus is the cornerstone to the Christian faith, and I had to know who He was. Because He was not just a swear word…who is Jesus?

I started by reading the Bible – they call it The Gospel. The Gospel are the first four books of the New Testament in the Bible. Each book has a different author who knew and walked with Jesus during His earthly life. They tell stories of His life, and how He lived it. It didn’t take long for me to see this amazing picture painted of the most incredible man, and I was falling in love with Him. He was radical, thought-provoking, honest, and so much more!

The Bible was a great start, but still I was left with: who is Jesus? Then I began a prayer life. I sat and prayed about problems I was having or things I needed, or whatever. I didn’t really have an encounter with Jesus at that point, but I didn’t know how to open up to Him. It was all so new and so scary. Then one day I was in a horrible place. I had struggled with depression for most of my life, and another wave of it had come over me. I didn’t know what to do, and couldn’t find the words to pray. I was sinking in my own despair and becoming lost inside of it.

I cried out to Jesus at that moment. And He answered me. I could feel His love coming over me, washing over me in waves of joy and comfort. It was a feeling I had never experienced before. It was as though He was right there, with His arms around me. I can’t say my depression just dissipated in that moment, because it didn’t. But something new came to me instead – hope. I had never had hope before in my life.

Jesus doesn’t always come and just wipe are pain away or take our problems from us. What He does do is comfort us and give us the strength we need in the moment to get through the hard times. He wipes away every tear and shows us that we are not alone – we are never alone. Who is Jesus? He is not a repair man or a figure of the past or a figment of my imagination. He is a comforter, healer, lover of my soul, counselor, friend and my King.

And yet He is even so much more than that. If you too are seeking answers to the question “who is Jesus?”, I invite you to continue reading as I explore this.

 

December 17 2014

Blog By Faith

blogWhen I first felt the Holy Spirit moving me to write this blog, I was very excited. I love to write, and I have been writing since I was 13. I began with writing dark poems about my obsession with death. Then I moved into writing short stories and later began to journal as well. Then one day I just stopped. I stopped writing completely. No journaling, poetry, nothing. It was like I was a dried up well. I always felt my poetry was an expression of my inner most self – my soul. I guess it was about a year or two after my second son was born. I was depressed because my husband had abandoned us and I was in an abusive relationship. So it was a period of about 10 years that I did not write at all. Wow, that’s a lot!

I also stopped playing music. I have been involved in music since I was in 4th grade. I started by playing the recorder, then took 5 years of violin, a year of piano and a year of choir. I had a guitar I liked to strum on, an acoustic bass I fiddled with and I taught myself how to play the drums. I also loved to sing and was fairly obsessed with music. It was something that was deep in my soul. Yet about the same time I stopped playing music too. I still sang though – that was easy enough to do while driving in the car.

I don’t know what it was that caused me to stop, but since I have found Jesus Christ I have come alive in these areas again. So like I said, I was very excited at the thought of writing down my story, my testimony on a blog and sharing it with the world. I worked hard on making it look nice and picking out a name. When I began to write out the stories from my life – my own personal horror stories – I was very difficult. Partly because it was hard to remember things that were so painful in my past, and partly because I didn’t want others to have to read it. It was just so awful and sad and I felt bad for anyone who would read it and be sad for me.

I am not sad anymore over my past. Jesus has healed me and helped me become whole. At least I am on my way to it and it feels great. But in writing this blog I really began to question, why? I really felt that the Holy Spirit inspired me to start the blog. Often times I would sit to write and not have a clue to what I was going to write about, then the words would come tumbling out of me. So I know that this blog is for God. I have prayed many times and asked Him to take this blog and use it for His glory. That I was writing for Him, and that was all that mattered. Yet time and time again I would turn to God and cry out, why? Why am I writing this blog anyway? What is the point? I mean no one is even reading it!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

It is frustrating to feel that God has called you to do something, especially when you don’t really feel equipped to do it. Writing a blog isn’t just putting the words on a screen and hitting publish. There are key words and Google search engines and social media pages to share it on. And how hard is it to get Google to rank your page and show it when someone types in your keyword? And speaking of keywords, how the heck do you even choose one anyway? I love to write, but beyond that I am just lost in this whole process.

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”  Matthew 14:31

So again I find myself crying out why Lord, why? Why am I writing about my messed up life, why am I doing a blog, that I have no idea how to do, and what is the point anyway. Some days I think about writing and I dread it. I just don’t want to do it. I’m not good enough, and I don’t know what I’m doing.

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.Isaiah 40:31

directoryI have to keep reminding myself though, God has called me to do this. I am doing it for my King. So I don’t need to be good enough, I just need to obey. I don’t need to know what I am doing, I just need to trust. That is such a hard thing to do! How much easier it would be to just trust in the ways of the world!  The things that I could see and touch and feel! But I have done that for most of my life, and where did that lead me? Nowhere I would like to return.

So I put one foot in front of the other and keep walking on this journey with God, writing this blog. I cannot see any fruit from it right now, but I believe in God, and I believe He keeps His word. I know not many people are reading it, but I trust that God will use it, even though I can’t see it.

For we walk by faith, not by sight. 1 Corinthians 5:7

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December 16 2014

Praise For My Failures

As I raised my two oldest sons, I taught them about the things I believe in, naturally. Things like evolution and the Big Bang Theory. That is what I learned in school and I believed it was fact. I also believed Christians stole everything from pagans and I wanted my kids to understand that as well. I didn’t want them falling into any false notions that Christmas had anything to do with Jesus or that Easter was even remotely about God. It was all taken from our ancient pagan roots.

I didn’t teach my children about witch craft or magik, but I did teach them that there are many gods and goddesses, and that it was impossible for this Christian God to create the world and everything it in. We originated from the primordial ooze that crawled out from the sea. It made perfect sense to me at the time, I swear. bigbang

Now I listen to the theories of the Big Bang and evolution and I actually want to laugh. It sounds so silly to me now, and I can’t understand why it sounded so perfectly logical before. I mean I never actually have any real information to back up any of my arguments. It was just one of those things I knew was true. Everybody knew it was true – at least in the world that I lived in. The world of a pagan viewpoint.

 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? Romans 10:14

As a matter of fact, the year before we came into our Christian faith, I started a science lesson on evolution, including reading a biography on Darwin. I wanted it ingrained into these children. Just 6 months later we were going to a Christian church every Sunday and learning about the Good News. Who would have thought? Certainly not me, and definitely not my oldest son. He was 14 at the time, and completely head strong and stubborn. Turns out he wanted nothing to do with the Good News or Christianity in any way. And he let me know very clearly that he was an atheist.

An atheist? What a blow that was to me. How I had spent so much time teaching my child what I thought was true, only to realize I was so very wrong. I had ingrained into him the ways of the world, unknowingly, and now he was stubbornly set in it. And it was all my fault. My child could possibly go to hell for my ignorance. It was heart breaking. And the more I tried to teach him the truth that Jesus saves, and read the Bible to him, and show him videos that had astounding evidence for the truth of the Bible, he did not want to hear it. He actually was angered and disgusted the more I tried to teach him and “save” him.

I was failing completely and I was afraid for my son. I had come out of a life of misery, despair and depression, and left him in it. I could see his misery and despair and depression, and there was nothing I could do for it. I prayed for him often and slowly grew an army of prayer warriors who would also pray for him. A year went by and things got worse. My son told me that me becoming Christian was the worst thing that ever happened to him. It ruined his life.

I was distraught, but I was trying to do what was right for him. There were things that had to go in his life, things that had to be weeded out. Just like in my own life. Many TV shows, books, video games, etc. that I realized were just not healthy, had to be taken away. I can understand his anger towards me. My son is one who has never been fond of change. He is slow to accept change, especially change that he never asked for in the first place.

A year passed, and things were only getting worse. I did not know what to do. I even gave up on praying regularly because I didn’t see any fruit from it. I was just frustrated because I wanted to save my son and I couldn’t. God is so much bigger than that though. Our God cannot be limited by our failures or incapability. No, that is where we can truly see His power come through. God knew that I was not going to give up on my mission to save my son, so He had to remove me from the equation.

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Psalm 19:21

God sent my son to public school. It was something that I was completely against. I never thought I would have one of my children in the dreaded P word again. I was convinced it was evil and I wanted no part in it. But when God calls, I answer. So when I felt God calling me to put him into a public high school, I was in denial. My husband prayed and confirmed my feeling. I am usually one to be pretty obedient, so I did it. But not without having a really bad attitude about it. I wanted God to know how unhappy I was about this decision of His. I mean why in the world would He ever want my son to go to public school!?

Well God is so much bigger than that too. Bigger than my bad attitude, bigger than school boundaries, bigger than all the worldliness in the school system. He is the maker of the heavens and the earth, Lord of Heaven’s Armies. How could I have ever doubted Him? Just because I could not see what was happening, did I really think nothing was happening? Well, I mean yeah, that is what I thought. But, God is so wonderful and merciful. Even though my doubt and anger, He loved me and gently showed me what I could not see.

praiseMy son loved public school and was thriving in it. I had to drive him to and from school everyday, because he got into a school out of our neighborhood, and so my prayers for him exploded. It has only been about five months, but I can already see a positive impact in my son. And get this, he is now not an atheist anymore, but an agnostic. Hey, that is really great news for me! That is a move in the right direction. I see my son being more positive and friendly at home, and not quite so angry. He doesn’t yell when we talk about Christianity or Jesus anymore, and is a little more open.

Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! Psalm 150:1-6

I mean the boy has gone to Sunday School, Youth Group, Bible Study and Rock Choir every week for almost two years. It’s not like he’s not getting the Word instilled inside him. So I praise God and His glorious and mighty name. And I thank Him for letting me get out of His way and stop trying to do His work. I have nothing but high hopes for my son and his salvation. And he will have an amazing testimony to share with the world, when he finally decides to accept the free gift Jesus has been holding out to him this whole time.

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

 

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