October 9 2017

Karma: Finding The Path To Grace

karmaAs a non believer, I was a firm believer in karma. Karma was very similar to the law of three fold in the Wiccan beliefs that I firmly believed in. Karma says, you get what you deserve, and the law of three fold says, you get what you deserve back three times. Either way, I held in my heart the knowledge that the universe was holding each of us accountable to our behavior, and those that did wrong would pay a high price for it.

With those thoughts in mind, I surely had no intention to do wrong. As a matter of fact, I hated evil. Evil was against everything in my nature. It made no difference that I had a love affair with vampires and witchcraft. Those were not things that were evil; they were things that were deeply misunderstood, just as I was. So with all of my being, I set out to be the best person I could be. To never harm anyone intentionally and to do what I could to always grow and be better. I was convinced the world was full of enough evil, and so I needed to combat that by doing good.

It is very easy to see natural consequences of ones actions and call it karma. Karma, however, according to traditional Hindu and Buddhist beliefs, is not as simple as that. Karma is actually based more on the belief that whatever we do in this life determines what we will return as in during the next life. The meaning of karma has been adapted to fit a wider audience of this world. That is because karma in itself is a twisted ideology based on a world run and ruled by many gods and goddesses. These deities have no real concern for humans, or this world, except to keep them living up to their expected standards of behaviors and worship.

 

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,  not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

The devil would love us to keep in line with this way of living. If we are ever striving to be better and do better, then we are focused completely on ourselves, our behavior, and the actions of others around us. There is no need for grace or mercy, and we give over judgement to this failed universal law of karma. If karma is going to ultimately judge others, then we have no need to worry about anyone but ourselves. What we don’t realize is that while our actions do have importance in this life, there are far more important values than being “good” or “bad”.

Consequences in life are a natural occurrence. It’s the basic law of cause and effect. However, the Bible teaches us about God’s grace. God’s grace is a miracle of His loving kindness. Whether you believe in the God of the Bible or not, you can be sure that you will meet Him on the Day of Judgement and be held accountable for your actions. The difference between karma and grace is, karma leads us to live a life based on works, and grace leads us to a life of submission and humility.

We serve a holy God; a God that is so good and righteous that He is unable to sin or do evil. Yet even though we are created in His image, we have chosen sin over God, over and over again. We have to be held accountable to these sins, for sure. However, the goodness and righteousness of God far surpasses our human understanding. While we would render judgement on the first act of evil we saw, God instead gave us mercy. His mercy and compassion was so great, it lead Him from His place in heaven on the throne, to the womb of a mortal woman.

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.  But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,  he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,  so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Titus 3:3-7

We have all fallen short of the glory of God. We have all turned our backs on Him and decided it was better to make our own way. As much as that grieved our Father in Heaven, He was unwilling to do the same for us. God made a way to connect with us when there was none. Through Jesus Christ we are able to have a sustainable and real relationship, coming into the most holiest of places: the throne room of God.

Why should a people who have hated God, perpetrated evil and terrible crimes against others, even to the point of taking lives, be given any grace whatsoever? If it was up to the universe and karma, we would all be on our way to hell with no chance of redemption. Thank God that is not the way love works. Our Father is a God of love. It was through love He created the universe and all that lay in it, and it was in love He breathed life into man. It was with love He has guided each of us our entire lives, and it is with love Jesus died as that redemption for our sins we never deserved. I cannot think of any thing so great as the love of God that held me and accepted me just as I was.

We are not here in this life to be good. We are not here on this earth to try the best we can. We are here for one purpose; love. Love brought us to life and gave us a chance to know our Creator in deeper and more intimate ways. Try as we might to do good or be good, we are always going to fail somewhere. Thankfully our Father is going to be right there, every step of the way, to pick us up and and help heal our wounds. He is a good, good Father.

As we each come into the understanding of the truth of who God is, I pray that He opens our hearts to fully receive His love. So many of us are so broken and ashamed, feeling too unworthy to even accept the love of God. Our Father is waiting for you right now, waiting to wash you from all of your sin and shame, wanting nothing more than to welcome into His arms for all eternity. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you have done in this life, it only matters that you say ‘yes’.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:16

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September 4 2017

Happy Labor Day!

Happy Labor Day! I hope you have had an amazing summer! I am so thankful for the wonderful break from ministry and all God has done in me. I will happily resume my regularly scheduled posting next Monday! I love you all

 

November 8 2014

A Christian Church?

Finally we were in our new home! It was a good feeling to own a home, and to have a sense of home. A place that we could grow roots into and just stay for a long, long time. We moved into an area that we did not know well, and because we homeschooled I decided to look around for a local home school group. I started searching around the internet for groups and I found something interesting at a nearby church. They had home school classes for science and history once a week, and a parent meeting once a month. That sounded so nice to me, but it was at a church. A Christian church. churchI thought about it a lot. I even started looking around at other churches in the area. I really liked the idea of church and community and what it could do for our family.

But, it was still church. I would look at the websites for the churches and look under the “what we believe” tab. It would always go on about Jesus and the Holy Spirit and blah blah blah. I just could not get on board with all that junk, no matter how much I was seeking spiritual fulfillment. I mean, how was I expected to believe that stuff? It was so obviously and ridiculously fake!

So I started looking or another Unity church nearby. That church was better than a Christian church at least. And I found one, only about ten minutes from our new house. I thought it would be great to check it out, and my husband agreed it was a good idea. So one Sunday morning, Super Bowl Sunday as a matter of fact, just a few weeks after moving in, we went off to the Unity church near us. It was at this tiny little community center. I mean the parking lot had about 5 spaces. Much smaller than the building the previous Unity church had been held in.

When we walk in we see how small the room the service was being held in was. And that we were the only family there, and we had the only kids there. Everyone else were older and looked to be mostly single. We sat at a large table in the back and someone was very kind and gave the kids crayons and paper. The service began and I was feeling more uncomfortable by the minute. It just felt so wrong. The room was so small I could not even talk to my husband because everyone would hear. But I was thinking of that church that had the home school classes. I was thinking about how they had a service starting in 20 minutes and how it sounded really great right in that moment.

I grabbed a piece of paper and a pen and started writing a note to my husband. “Let’s get out of here. That other church I told you about has a service about to start!” And he wrote back “No, that would be rude.”. “It will be OK, let’s just try it.” “It would be rude to just walk out of here right now.” “You know we are never coming back here.” “OK. Lets go!”

And out we went! We rushed out to the car and another ten minute drive to the other church. I was so nervous and a little excited. I had never really been to a real church before. I mean I had been to the Mormon church as a kid and then the one Christian church one time, but that was it. When we pulled up to the church the first thing I noticed was how big it was! It looked like it was going to be nice. Then I was nervous about how I was dressed. I didn’t even have any clothes that I thought were church appropriate. And what about all my tattoos? What would these Christians think of me??

 

 

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November 9 2014

Church Home

My long journey in a life of darkness was coming to a close that morning as I sat in this unfamiliar building. I didn’t even know I was in darkness, or that there was even an alternative. I had lived life in that place for so long I didn’t know anything else existed. Yet here I was on the door step to my salvation.

A church. An actual, real life church. I never thought in a million years I would ever be dragged into one of those places. But there I was. And it was ok. Good even.  So odd for me! I was so against anything Christian. Jesus was a swear word for me! Yet here I was sitting in the pew and listening to the pastor preach about God. And it felt like home. church

That day I took one of the pamphlets that was tucked neatly into the book rack on the seat in front of me and read it while at home. I was intrigued.  For the first time I ever I wanted to know more about this God and Jesus stuff. I was skeptical, but interested. So unlike me.

We went back the next Sunday. The pastor brought up a younger guy who gave his testimony and told of his past drug habit. I was blown away. I had no idea you could have done drugs and be a Christian. I wanted to know more. We went back again the next Sunday. And the next. The pastor asked us all to bend down in our pews and repent of our sins and ask for forgiveness. By the end of the service I was weeping after confessing all my sins. Sins?? What was going on with me? But somehow I liked it.

We continued to go to church every week. In the meantime I picked up a Bible a neighbor had given me years ago. I think I had tried to read it once or twice before. But when I got to the part where it said God created the world in seven days, I put it back down. I knew there was no way that could be true. My husband and I read it together and we started at the beginning – literally. The beginning of all creation. The version we had been the King James and it was painful for us to read. We barely understood what it said, but we were thirsty for more.

A new friend I met at church asked me after about a month if I had prayed and asked Jesus into my heart. I hadn’t. I still wasn’t too sure who that guy was. I stood in the parking lot with her as she led me through a prayer to ask Jesus into my heart. It was so surreal for me at the time. I wasn’t even sure what it meant or if it even worked, because I didn’t feel anything special happen.

This was just the beginning though. God was speaking to me, and to my husband, and even to my 12-year-old son. He was already answering prayers and showing us His presence. It was exciting and scary all at the same time. God made us a home there at that Presbyterian church, and I am so thankful for it.

 

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November 13 2014

Jesus Loves Me

It was all so surreal, going to that Christian church every Sunday. Yet I was open to it, and so were most of my kids. My husband was praying for God to reveal Himself to him, and so was my 12-year-old son. And God was answering them. I was kind of stumped myself, because I didn’t know how to pray. I mean, it made sense that we were supposed to communicate with God, but how exactly did the whole prayer thing work? Do I pray out loud or in my head? JesusDo I just talk to Him, or is there some sort of formula? So I tried praying for a sign, that if God was real that He would reveal Himself to me. I never did get a sign that way my husband and son did. I think deep down I knew better to ask God for a sign that He was real. He had been revealing Himself to me for years, I just was ignoring the fact it was Him.

So my prayer life began. I decided to just talk to Him. Out loud. It was the most comfortable way for me. It made me feel closer, and helped me to realize I was actually talking to someone, not just some idea in my head. I still did not understand really understand who Jesus was. I was only beginning to understand how very important He really was. I finally got my hands on a Message Bible and began to read Matthew, the fist book of the New Testament. It was then I began to see a picture of who Jesus was. I was amazed. Enthralled. I was falling head over heels in love.

I had no idea all of these years what i was missing out on by not knowing Jesus. I had been using His name as a swear word. It was meaningless to me. I had mocked Him and tore down everything I had heard about Him. And all that time He was just waiting, patiently for me. Holding out His hand to me, loving me and never condemning me.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17

I felt so awful. Easter was soon approaching as I began to learn of Jesus. As I realized what He had gone through for me. Me. I am nothing, He is God. He was tortured, whipped, beaten and murdered and all for little, insignificant me. I did not deserve His grace or mercy, not one bit. I had lived my life in rebellion to God, hating him, doing drugs and so many other bad things. How could He ever love me. I am not good enough.

The Bible mini series came on the History channel. I watched as Jesus was beaten and murdered, in bold color, right before my eyes. It was so painful to watch. It hurt me so deeply, my heart ached so badly to see Him bleeding; dying. I became depressed. It was all too much to bear. Why? I just could not understand any of it. All I knew is that I loved Him. So much. And I did not want Him to hurt, to suffer, to go through all that for the sins of the world. I understood it was supposed to happen, it was a part of God’s plan, but it made no sense to me at all.

And it wasn’t just why did he have to suffer, but why did I have to live my whole life up until now without Him? If I had Jesus in my life before, maybe I would not have gone through so much pain, depression, drug use, misery. I would have had Him to go to when things were hard. Because where there is Jesus there is hope. Before I had no hope. Never. Now my life was beginning to be filled with hope in a new and beautiful way.

In the depths of my heart I heard Him speak to me. To tell me that He knew how hard my life had been, that He had been there all along. That He had never wanted me to suffer, but that it was OK, because He was going to use it some day to help others. And I smiled, because I believed Him. He loves me. And that is why He was willing to suffer for me. And that is why I was able to move forward, away from my past, and into my future. A future filled with healing, and love, and light.

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

 

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