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Man a Nothing

O Lord, I am a shell full of dust,But animated with an invisible rational soul And made anew by an unseen power of grace; Yet I am no rare object of valuable price, But one who has nothing and is nothing, Although chosen by you from eternity! Given to Christ and born again!

I am deeply convinced of the evil and misery of my sinful state, Of the vanity of creatures, But also of the sufficiency of Christ. When you would try to guide me, I control myself. When you would be sovereign, I rule myself. When you would take care of me, I do it myself. When I should depend on your provisions, I supply myself. When I should submit on your providence, I follow my will. When I should study, live, honor, trust you, I serve myself. I fault and correct your laws to suit myself. Instead of you, I look to man's approbation, his approval. I am by nature an idolater!

Lord, it is my chief design to bring my heart back to you! Convince me that I cannot be my own God! Or make myself happy, Nor be my own Christ to restore my joy; Nor my own Spirit to teach, guide, and rule me.

Help me to see that grace does this by the will of your afflictions, For when my credit is good, you cast me lower, When riches are my idol, you make them grow wings, When pleasure is my all, you do turn it into bitterness. You are the good God who does what it takes to transform my corrupted heart! Take away my roving eye, curious ear, greedy appetite, lustful heart; Show me Jesus that none of these things can heal a wounded conscience, Or support this tottering frame, or uphold a departing spirit. Then O God, I implore you, take me to the cross, And leave me there! Yes...leave me there where your blood flows down and washes me clean..... This I pray. 

Amen

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My prayer for today, adapted and inspired by 'Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan prayers"

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Lisa's Story

We all have a story to tell of our life. For all of us who still live and breathe, it is a story still being written in many ways. Your story, or my story; if we are honest, it is a story that is messy at times. So many of us are not willing to share all the good, bad and the ugly of our lives. Quite frankly for many, I cannot bear to spend too much time in thought over the messes of your life, any more than I want to linger over the messy parts of mine. To tell a life story of a person that simply bears me much sadness and no real hope in the end, seems depressing and pointless. Many people have lived lives that in the end are pointless and full of death and decay that led to no good end. I have little patience to read or listen to most of those stories. But what inspires me as real stories of real lives, like this one I helped write about my friend Lisa.  Lisa tells it all, the good, bad and ugly, but ultimately, the glimmer of hope seen early on proves that God had his mark on her life and even though many struggles, God did something marvelous and transformed yet another life of what seemed to be a total wreck in many ways, into something beautiful and full of Joy and Hope. It is stories like this one below that inspire people like me to rejoice all the more in the secure blessings of my salvation and eternal hope only found in Christ Jesus, because when God chooses you to be his very own, there is nothing ultimately that you can do to stop it. God will complete his work in each of his children. This is a story of hope and good endings. Just as it is for all who end up giving their own messy lives over to God. I hope you enjoy reading of Lisa's story as much as I did proofing the text. This is the story of a life set apart for God. God's story for Lisa. My life began in sunny southern California. My mom met my dad in Nome Alaska long before it became a state; he was in the military, stationed on a naval carrier. My mom was a half-Eskimo and half-French Canadian. My father was half-Dutch and half-German. I suppose that makes me a true American, blending of many peoples. Let me tell you about the life and faith experiences that have radically formed my life. I did not grow up in a family that knew God. My mother’s experience with religion was that of Roman Catholics who came to her tiny Alaskan village attempting to force the native traditions out of her and the tribe, mostly through strict rules and beatings. My mom gained dislike and distrust from those in the “church”. Even so, she would still allow me and my siblings to attend church with friends since it was the predominate custom our culture. My father’s religious experience was that of Lutheran, but he did not know God. Thus, my parents’ religious practice was a blend that resembled that of an occultic tradition rather than anything Christ taught. Mom dabbled in witchcraft and horoscope; Dad had a fascination with hypnosis and the occult. He later became a certified hypnotist. Despite my parent’s crazy upbringing, I had a desire to really know God. I would attend church whenever asked by my neighbors. In summertime, I would live with my great uncle and aunt, Ruben and Olivia. They were devoted Seventh Day Adventists. They had the greatest spiritual impact upon me growing up, since they lived true to their faith; more closely aligned with Christ’s teachings. They were a consistent example of living a life of love and faithfulness to God and man. Our family lived in California and lived on some acreage on top of a hill. We had what seemed like a typical American family of the day yet with our family of eight. In reality, our home was chaotic and dark. A day did not go by without fighting and screaming! There was no peace. I often had to find places to hide from all the turmoil. My father owned a business and worked long hours. He often enjoyed the social side of drinking and it was not long until he became an alcoholic. He became like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with his drinking. His nice demeanor would flip and he would take out his rage on everyone when He arrived home late evenings from his post work drinking binges. My Mom had her own major issues. She had trouble keeping her home in order with six of us kids and she too flew into violent tantrums. Between them both, the fury of our parents coming down on us kids was a daily experience. It was like a war zone; parental wrath in the form of beatings, screaming rants and threats. The terrorism of them discarding us as their children was one of my worst memories. The abuse left deep scars on all of us children. We were reminded constantly how much a burden we were to them. My father would curse vile things calling us “sons of bitches”, “no good”, “worthless”, and more. My older siblings got the worst of the abuse. I was next to the youngest, so by the time my parents took out their anger out on the four older siblings, they were usually too tired to beat my little sister and me. We became very skilled at hiding in the fields and abandoned cars. Terror of my dad became so great that anytime I heard my father’s car coming up the drive at night, my heart would start pounding and fear gripped me. I would brace myself for another sleepless night of crying. It was a life of real terrorism, but it is all I really knew. I would often intervene into the fights; trying to stand in between my Dad’s attacks on my siblings in love for them. He would hit them with belts or anything handy he could find. I cannot recall being able to sleep sound through an entire night most my childhood while at home. I would stay up until I knew my parents were asleep, usually 2:00 am or later, and then fall asleep myself. My school grades reflected my home life. The teachers thought I was careless or a daydreamer. I failed all my classes, but no one seemed to care. The truth was, my mind was so full of terror and fear, I could not focus on anything. My mind was always filled with, “Will I live today, or will one of my brothers or sisters be killed by my parents?”. It was a life of no peace. The only solace I found was in my pets, and a horse that my mom bought my older sister. Eventually they all ran off, but later I got a hand-me-down very gentle “bombproof” trail horse that I loved. Looking back, I can see God used it to save my mind and give me peace in my teen years. The oldest siblings left home by this time and it was down to my two older brothers and me and my younger sister. My brothers displayed signs of abuse by stealing and getting in trouble often. My older brother Ralph Jr. was a daredevil. He dealt with the abuse by abusing others, including me. I would daily hit or slap me, telling me I was a slut, whore or worse. He took delight in terrifying me, chasing me with knives, and even trapping me in a hole in the ground, he dug out and called the “fort”. He would leave me in it most the day until my mom began to wonder where I was. I could not understand why he hated me so much. Today I know he was just doing what abused kids do, taking out their abuse on others. He grew very violent and now he is in the mob and a very dangerous man; a murder even. Then there was Roger, he was a year older than I was. Roger had severe learning disabilities, today he would be classified as autistic, but back then, there was little understanding of what my brother struggled with. Sadly, he became the scapegoat, and my Dad and brothers took most their rage out on him. Roger could not read facial gestures. He did not understand when you were mad, nor did he know how to respect boundaries as is common with this mental disorder. If Roger wanted something, he simply took it. Roger had a fascination with mechanical and electrical things, and he tried to discover how they all worked; including my battery operated dolls, blow driers, radios and stuff. My dad would explode on him because he was always taking apart things. One day my Dad came home to find that Roger had taken my mom’s car engine apart! My dad really blew a fuse and decided he had enough of Roger. I heard my mom screaming at my Dad to stop, so I ran as fast as I could to stop the fight like had done so many times before. This time though, what I saw changed my family’s life forever. My dad was trying to kill Roger and had him in a noose! I broke into the room, and looked up at my Dad and shouted at him firmly “PUT HIM DOWN NOW!” with a God given voice of authority and power that could only have been the Holy Spirit working through me. Amazingly, Dad let go of the rope and walked out of the room. My brother dropped to the floor and I ran out of the room. I do not recall exactly what took place soon after, but I remember waiting for Roger in the back woods where we would hide. We ran to a friend’s home across to the next hillside. Roger slept under a willow tree that night. That day I came to truly hate my father. A few days later, they sent Roger to a boy’s home about 200 miles away in the foothills of California. What man meant for evil, God used for good. It was at that camp where I remember Roger telling me that he became born again. I did not know what he meant by that, but for the first time, Roger seemed to be happy! I knew that God had his hand upon him from that day forward. Eventually Roger came home, but as soon as he did, my mom took off for a long trip back to her home in Alaska. Dad told us that she went to stay with her mom for a while. Mom simply abandoned us with our Dad. For the first time in our lives, we had freedom and peace, because our Dad was never home. Dad found another woman. He came by only to drop off change for school lunches. The refrigerator grew empty, but we did not care, since we ate from the fruit and avocado trees when hungry. Even so, the hunger was minor compared to having someone beat you all the time and living in terror. Since Dad was gone all the time, we had parties, invited friends over and celebrated all we wanted, as teens without guidance. I went to school, but was still unfocused. I was hungry and felt abandoned, as it finally dawned on me that my parents had dumped us. I made friends with a freshman boy from school named Eric. He and I were like two peas in a pod. His dad also was abusing him, and I would let him come and stay at my place to seek safety from his father’s wrath. Eventually we ended up sexually intimate. I did not know how a woman became pregnant; very ignorant about sex. We never talked about those things. I remember one time my sister getting beat because she was got pregnant from some guy. My mom dropped her at an abortion clinic and told her not to come home until the baby was gone. When she did come home, she was beat again. She ended up running away because of it and married the fellow with whom she was sexually involved. My Dad was involved with that other woman with kids for about 9 months; we did not care. He left us alone and that took away our fear. My older sister and brother found out we kids were living alone and came by to see for themselves. Ralph took the opportunity to torment us, show up and acting like a burglar. He would take a knife and scare me with it until I would scream for mercy to be let go. My older 18-year-old sister noticed that my body was changed; my breasts were bigger and I was throwing up. She said, “You are pregnant and I have to get you checked.” I was terrified, yet had no idea what she was saying. She and her boyfriend took me to a “free clinic.” There they confirmed I was pregnant. I was in my second trimester about 5 months. They said I would need to go to a hospital to have an abortion. That was when I first learned about the word “abortion”. Until then, I had only heard the word once. It was at a party where some girl had been hemorrhaging because she had an abortion. Fear struck me! I said “why can’t I keep it and why do I have to have this abortion?” My sister said, “You are 13 and cannot have a baby, and mom would kill you if she found out.” I was more terrified of my mom than of my dad, because I had seen how she abused my sisters, and I knew she was right. I felt I had no choice but to do as she said. I remember being in the Planned Parenthood clinic and a mom across the room saying, “she is so young.” I was thinking, “Well, I am almost 14, Lady!” At the clinic, I was treated like a piece of meat. Doctors, I thought were supposed to be caring, but this doctor could care less about my suffering and tears. He said, “You are very far along and we need to insert several seaweed sticks to open your cervix.” I had no idea what he meant, but the pain was unbelievable. He told me to stay home so that the seaweeds could expand. They told me it would be a few days and then we could go to the hospital, and that everything would be fine once the procedure was over. I cried and cried, and wanted Eric with me. I thought he abandoned me, but little did I know, my sister told Eric not to come around. I remember pleading for the doctors not kill my baby, but they just kept getting me ready for the surgery. I remember sobbing and praying, “God I am sorry! One day I will have another baby and will make up for the one that was killed.” I woke up grabbing my stomach in recovery yelling, “STOP!” The nurse above me said, “Oh you’re done, it’s over now.” I was still dizzy from the sedation, and vomited. I was in a room with several other people on gurneys, like a animal holding pen. In my stupor, I managed to slide out of the hospital bed and crawl to the rest room. I cried and threw up; blood was all over me while I lay on the bathroom floor. After a while I pulled myself together, was given pads and birth control pills, then waited outside for my sister’s boyfriend to pick me up and take me home. The ride was deadly silent. I was dumped off at the bottom of our hill on the road. Weak and alone, I walked backwards up the hill to the home where I had no parents to love me or console me. I felt so abandoned. My heart and soul were crushed. I made it to my bed. There I wept all night staring at my wristband from the hospital, while holding my stomach. In shame and pain, I repeated my vow to God, “I promise you God, I will make this up to you, I will have another child to replace this one.” Yet something in me changed that day, something died. I felt dead and I wanted to die. I lost my innocence, and most of all, I found out no one cared for me. I kept my abortion secret. I began to drink alcohol to numb the pain, plus I developed an eating disorder. I wanted to die, but could not think of an easy painless way to kill myself. About a month later, my mom returned to get her things. She said she was moving back to Alaska and had a boyfriend. She said, “You can come with me or stay with your dad, but I am leaving in a week.” I did not want to stay with my dad who had abandoned us and left us foodless, but I was also angry and distrusting of my mom who also abandoned me when I needed her most. I felt she was the better choice. We packed up our two cats and all we had into a Pontiac. My mom and we three children took off up the Alcan Highway to unknown territory, leaving behind my childhood friends and all I knew. I was excited a little about the change, but also upset. My thoughts rang out the promise I needed to fulfill to God, because my conscience was reminding me of the evil that happened in the hospital. My soul cried out for a savior. All I could think about was finding a boyfriend, and I imagined meeting my ‘knight in shining armor’ some place in this Alaska journey; someone who would take me away from all the horror I knew as my life. In addition, I thought this meant that the abuse was now over, since my dad was out of the picture. I was feeling glad to be gone from all the bad memories and sleepless nights. For the first time, Roger was no longer being beat, and perhaps this was the beginning of a new life for my little sister and us all. Mom, who was 40, said that we were going to live with her new 25-year-old boyfriend, but I was very apprehensive with that situation. Moving to Alaska, I was expecting igloos, and barren wasteland, but what I found was that Anchorage Alaska was a big city and had normal homes. It was bitterly cold there, but no false persona way of life existed in Alaska, like in California. People were real, and for the first time no one judged me by where I lived or what we drove. My relationship with my mom was so strained though; I hated her and loved her. I looked up to her, but had lost all respect when she left me. I blamed her for what took place, and I never told her my secret of the abortion. My mom’s boyfriend was nice. He was calm and never raised his voice. I never let him close to me emotionally, but I knew we were safe with him. Roger continued to get into trouble and eventually went back to southern California; to this day, he lives on the beach as a homeless person. With his disorder and the abuse of my father, his spirit was broken. I will never forget him cry when he asked me, “Why did dad try to hang me?” I told him our dad is sick and it was not Roger’s fault. Roger is just a shell of humanity today. I know God watches over him. One day he will be with me in heaven; healed and free from all his pain and anguish. Suffering will be no more. In my sophomore year, a girl who was jealous of my long blonde hair, came from behind me and hit me with her fist in my temple so hard, that I lost vision and control of my right side for a day. After that, I dropped out of school. I was ashamed, tired of all the hate, and done with school. A few years later, I earned my GED, and enrolled in trade school for Travel Agents and Airline industry. When I was nineteen, I fell in love. I remembered my vow to God and sought to have a baby by that man. I was an avid soap opera watcher, and it perverted my view of romance. It seemed that all I needed to do was get pregnant, and he would fall hopelessly in love and marry me. Within a few months of dating, I became pregnant; I was happy and expected my boyfriend to be happy also. He was not. He was fearful and convinced me that we barely knew each other and it was way soon to have a baby, but in time he would consider it. It devastated me that my plans were not working. What would I do? I promised God that I would make up for the child I had killed and now I could not see a way out. My boyfriend proceeded to contact the abortion clinics and threatened my relationship with him if I did not abort our baby. I did not know what to do, except comply. My feelings became like that for my mom, I hated him, but loved him. He dropped me off at the clinic, while he waited outside in the car. I did not have the strength to say no, and my fear of abandonment was greater than my need to do what was right. They intake people at the clinic were eager to help me, but once I was in the procedure room, the niceness changed. It was painful and I cried while the abortionist did his work. The nurse held my hand as I dug my nails into her hand. They saw me filled with sorrow and it made them upset. They left me unattended in the room with the containers of baby parts and blood to look at for several minutes. I wanted to look and see, but I was horrified at what I saw. I wondered why anyone who cared about a person would let them see the contents of their child in a container like that. They treated me cold and inhumane. All the nice talk was over, once they ripped the baby out. It filled me with guilt, regret, hatred, resentment, and deep hurt over what I had just done. I not only broke my vow to God, but now I felt I had to make right my wrong choices, and fast. I was suicidal and drank even more, to nub out my pain and my inner conscience. I lashed out at my boyfriend and our relationship was now unhinged; deranged. No sooner had I had an abortion, I again became pregnant. He gave me the same story and I followed the same routine. Why? Why? Why? My need for affection and to not be rejected so controlled me! “Why did someone not love and want me?”, I thought. I gave up on promises to God. I knew I was guilty of terrible wrong and nothing could change it. I was going to airlines trade school in effort to find a career. My relationship with my boyfriend began to crash. Even though I was getting noticed by other men and realized the treatment that this guy was giving me was abusive and wrong, I couldn’t move on. I was addicted to the abusive cycle in which I grew up. I again found myself pregnant for the fourth time! This time, I said “NO!” to my boyfriend’s push to make me have another abortion. I said, “I will keep this child and I will no longer do what you’re telling me to do!” Somewhere I found the courage to stand up to him and walk away if necessary. My mom was not supportive and angry and told me that I was on my own with that decision. She kicked me out of her home. Thankfully, I found some friends to live with. However, I was still addicted to my boyfriend, but he had moved on with other women while I was pregnant. He treated me like dirt. I drank and snorted coke, even early on in the pregnancy at times. I did my best to pretend I was not pregnant as means of coping. My boyfriend would take me on bike rides and skiing where I would fall. Looking back, I realize he was trying to have me ‘accidentally’ loose the baby. I was naive, and the abuse from my own home caused blindness in me to men who are abusers. About that time, I was experiencing many headaches. Every day I used Excedrin for the horrific migraines I was having. The doctors said it was stress of being pregnant. Then September twentieth came and I went into labor, my boyfriend did not show up to the hospital, but I did have a few girlfriends with me. I was in back labor for 2 days. I was failing to dilate and I panicked, telling the doctors that they needed to do something or I was going to throw the Pitocin machine across the room! So, a doctor came in soon after and said he was doing an emergency C-Section. On Sept 22 Alicia Ann was born. They had to resuscitate her because she drowned in the amniotic fluid. They put her in the NICU for a few days because she had trouble breathing. I was unprepared for motherhood, and sadly, I did not bond with Alicia. Her dad did not want her, my own family disowned me, and I was on my own. I had a deep sense of responsibility, and said to myself, “I made this decision and now I must live with it.” I remembered the promise to God, and realized that the guilt did not go away. I had a child but I still felt the deep ache of my past haunting me. I had a big responsibility at 21 without any help, I was alone and I had to fight to care for my child. I was in over my head, but what could I do? I had to live up to the responsibility no matter what, and give this baby a chance in life. I passed my education and the Airlines hired me as a reservation agent. Life seemed to be improving. I dropped my daughter off at my mom’s while I partied on the weekends. I was very selfish, and although I made sure Alicia was clothed and fed, I did not give her the emotional love she needed. I was emotionally absent. I did not know how to properly show affection or even feel love. I am not sure if it was because of the years of abuse or the abortions that took away my feelings. It was probably both. All I know was that I could not feel, and I lacked compassion. I was a hard mom, and when she cried, I said “Oh you will be ok; get over it.” I began teaching her be like me, not to feel. Alicia was also a very wild-child, so no one wanted to baby-sit her, I would get comments from my family all the time about my parenting and that she had a problem, and was ADD. I hated it that she was not wanted, and I tried so hard to make her okay for everyone. That meant that I over corrected her on the smallest things, and nitpicked at her slightest faults. Looking back, she was just being a needy, neglected and curious kid, but I wanted her perfect for my family, so that I could be accepted. In reality, Alicia was raised by babysitters and my mom, not me. I worked and visited her in between naps. I was on the hunt for a husband, and kept her on the sidelines. When Alicia was 18 months, I met a man name Al, at a local dance bar I frequented. He looked like one of those Chippendale dancers and was the bouncer. We had immediate lust for each other. As it turned out, he was a male stripper and body builder. About that time, my daughter’s dad came around and wanted to reignite our relationship. He even asked me if I would marry him. I remember that day as if it was today. I looked into his eyes and felt nothing. I said, “When I needed you, you left me and showed me who you really were. I do not love you nor ever will I.” He cried about it, but I became stronger that day. My new boyfriend Al seemed to really like Alicia; so we quickly moved in with each other and talked about marriage. While living together I noticed that Al had a big problem with cocaine and lust. I had frequent headaches, mood swings, and black outs, even forgot to turn off things. It troubled me, and I saw a doctor, but he said that I was under lots of stress being a new mom and with work and all. Al and were both doing coke, and were involved in the bodybuilding scene. I even took injections for steroids a few times, urged by him to make me look bigger. Even though we were talking about getting married, I discovered that he was cheating on me. I was livid, and kicked him out. My heart was broken, and then my worst nightmare came about, I was pregnant again! “How?”, I thought, “I was doing all I could to not get pregnant and even taking precautions; how could I be pregnant?” I found out that Al was cheating on me a lot and even suspected of abusing my daughter, how could I even begin to have his child under these circumstances? My fragile world was falling apart again. I knew what it was like to have one child on my own, but now two! No one would ever want me with two kids from different fathers and this guy is a child molester! I was sick, far along in my third trimester and I could feel the baby kick. I tried to ignore my all my good senses. I was thinking, “If I had this baby this guy will molest this child, I could not go through this anymore.” I did only what I felt I could. I went to the doctor and scheduled an abortion, my fourth abortion! I did not have enough money, and I asked the woman at the abortion desk, “I have this solid gold necklace; can I use this for the rest?” Much to my amazement, she took it and scheduled the abortion at the hospital. Since this was my forth, I knew what to expect, but I hated what I had to do. I did not feel I had the strength to raise or even give birth to another child. I was already alone and to me, I could not find any way out. I was sick; I was weak, but I was responsible. The shame was on me, and I knew it! I cried in the hospital room hoping someone would help and stop me. No one came. I felt the kicking and when into the slaughter room; fully aware of my decision. There was no naivety this time. I did this murder. When I woke up, I was numb as I walked out. I wanted to die and so began to contemplate how I would kill myself. Because I was a wreck, I they fired me from my job. My life was crumbling. Poor little Alicia all alone; ignorant of what was going on and brought into this world though my selfish irresponsibilities. I am unable to care for her. I drank and pondered what to do, how to take my life, but what about Alicia? I prayed and made one last ditch effort to see if God was real. I said, “God, I am tired...I don’t know who you are, Mary, or Jesus, but I need you to show me that you are who you are or in two weeks I am going to kill myself.” I had finished off a 12 pack of beer and fell asleep. The next morning I woke up, with some newfound hope, a new desire to look for a non-denominational church, one that just teaches the Bible. I then remembered a church on the hill a few miles from where I lived, named “Abbott Loop Community Church.” I remember it, because my best friends in High School got married there when she became pregnant. I thought, “If she could be accepted there, Maybe I might?” I looked them up in the phone book and called the pastor to see if I could get in to see him. I told him that I wanted to kill myself and needed to talk to someone. He said, okay come on in that day. His name was Dan Amos. I will never forget him and the first thing he said when he saw me was that, “God is going to use you in a mighty way.” I heard that and thought, “Oh great! What did you get yourself into now, Lisa?.” I followed him into his office; expecting a clergy with a white collar, not some hick with a cowboy hat and boots. I sat in his office; he opened up a Bible and began to read. He asked me if I believed in what he read. I said, “Yes” to all he asked me. He then said, “Well, you just need to repent and trust in Jesus.” He also told me he wanted to introduce me to a friend, who had abortions like me. He felt that she and I would be able to relate. He invited me to church on Dec 15, 1987, and the next day I got to meet this friend. I felt hope! I felt great! I could come to church and they accepted me even with all my sins! I thought I was going to have to confess all my wrongs. I knew I could not remember them all, what a relief to know I did not have to do all that to come to Church, I thought. I looked forward to meeting the woman who had gone through my abortion experiences the following day. I remember coming to church and feeling good. Alicia was with me and I could feel the warmth from the people. I sat up front and listened to the sermon, every word seemed to speak to me, and tears filled my eyes. After the service they introduced me to a woman who was radiant and warm, immediately my spirit fought this meeting. Confusion, anxiety and chaos filled the area of our meeting. It was as if we were in the ocean and a wave hit us both and toppled us over. She knew I was in a battle and quickly secured a meeting time with her at her home the next day. I loved this woman and hated her at the same time! She irritated me and I could not figure out why. Despite my feelings, I promised her that I would come to her home the next day and visit with her. For a day, I struggled with going see this woman. I dreaded it, and because I smoked, I fought against that loss of that comfort. My thoughts bombarded me with all kinds of reasons not to go, but something in me desired to know more, and I headed to her little home in the snow that evening. I knocked at her door and she welcomed me in with her husband. Her home was warm and cozy; there was a feeling of peace upon it that I had never sensed. All my defenses fell away as she began to share her own story of her past with abortions. Then she taught me about the Gospel of Jesus and how to be born-again. She asked me if I wanted to receive Christ as my Savior and I said “YES!” Then I immediately felt my shame lift and joy filled my heart! She asked if I wanted to be filled with the Spirit of God. I said, “Sure, I want it all!” So, they prayed that I would be filled with the Spirit and somehow I began to speak in tongues. I knew something had wonderful happened because my normal insatiable craving to smoke a cigarette was gone! For the five hours prior to receiving the Spirit in her home, I could not wait to get in my car and smoke. But once the Spirit of God came in, the craving and desire left me. I knew that I had an encounter with God. Not only that, my eyes were suddenly opened to sin like never before! I saw the world for what it was. I was even ashamed that my neckline was low and began to pull it up. It was as if I had been asleep and the lights suddenly turned on brilliantly! I knew the truth, and I even now craved more of it. When leaving, I got in my car full of joy and drove off! When I saw my cigarettes, I threw them out the window and have never smoked since. That day was Dec 17, 1987! She gave me a bible, and when I got home, I began to read and read and read. I could not put it down and would spend hours in it in amazement! The church had two weekly services I attended, and I was at church whenever I could get into the doors. I remember sobbing every time, and I almost hated the singing, because I would ruin my make up by weeping through the songs. I rarely sung before, in my home when you sang you were told to shut up! I loved to sing, and it was in the singing that my heart began to melt. About this time, my old boyfriend got ahold of me and I told him that I was now a Christian and that He needed to repent. I gave him a Bible and that was the last time I spoke with him. My heart was deeply broken by him, and still in a million pieces still despite my conversion. I longed for love, yet my heart was so wounded by all that I had gone through. I knew I had a better life, but at the time, Jesus could not fix the ache in my heart for companionship. I was a single mom, and everyone kept telling me to keep my eyes on Jesus and he would provide. I loved being at church and the people that surrounded me were my new family. I had never known love like this. I did not know how to receive love like that which I was getting, and I felt awkward. My emotions seemed up and down and I cried all the time, I had severe headaches that did not help. Again, I was told it was just all the changes and stress. I began to think about moving out of Alaska, and making a new fresh start somewhere else. Perhaps if I leave, my heart can mend better I thought. Against everyone’s wishes, I decided to move to southern California; the area where my great Uncle and Aunt lived in Fresno. I packed up all my belongings and drove with Alicia to California. I was a wreck, stressed, frequent headaches and forgetful periods of hysteria; it was by God’s grace I was able to drive alone from Alaska to California with a four-year-old child. I arrived in there and immediately connected with a church family, and found a job working at the airport in reservations. I was under a lot of stress, but hopeful. I found a sitter for Alicia and things seemed to be looking well for us. What I noticed was that I would forget things often, like turning off the stove, iron, and locking doors. I even ran into a glass window while walking towards it. Friends where telling me that I was not paying attention when they talked, and my job said I was forgetting things. I could not figure out why, and I was getting worse and worse, the headaches especially. I remember calling a doctor to tell them about my symptoms, and they said I was just under stress. I wanted to believe them, but deep inside I knew something was deeply wrong with me. I began to wonder if God was punishing me for all I did and that I was experiencing his wrath for my sins. As a new Believer, I had not learn yet to surrender all my life to God, and would fall into sexual sin with men, but fears of what I was doing began to trouble me. This lust addiction was hard to break, and even when I willed myself not to succumb, I gave into it. Shame and guilt became my tormentors. I would do ok, but then when a man would take me out and get close, I would become weak and unable to resist his advances. I beat myself up, saying, “Why? Why? Why am I so weak?” I tried harder and harder to be good and attend church events, the headaches grew to where I was laid up for two days at a time with them. My neighbor gave me some Vicodin but it did not help. One day while I was at work at the airport a man came up frantically with his ticket shaking it in my face and suddenly my head exploded. I began to throw up and ran to the bathroom crying, “Help me, I am dying.” I curled in a ball on the bathroom floor and medics rushed me to the nearest hospital. They checked my purse for drugs and found caffeine pills, and asked me if I was on drugs. I yelled something at the doctor and vaguely remember signing some papers. I was taken to another wing of the hospital and put in a room. I cried and cried lying in bed waiting for a doctor, but no one came. I managed to crawl out of bed and crawl down the hall to the nurses’ station. I saw a sign that said “Therapy room.” I asked where I was and I begged for something for my headache. The nurse said, “You are suicidal and are being held for 72 hours, now go back to your room.” I was in shock, and could barely talk. The pain in my head was so great I could not even think. I begged them for Aspirin, and they threw me a package on the floor. Weeping, I crawled back to my room. I could not even think or reason my head hurt so bad. I found a towel to get wet in the bathroom and wrapped it around my head. I lay in bed crying because pain was so over whelming! A nurse stopped by and asked me if I wanted to go to therapy, I cursed at her! I got mad, something in me rose up and I knew I had to get out of that place somehow. I began to threaten the nurses that I was going to call the TV stations and tell them I was being held against my will. So I did, I found a phone book and called everyone I could find, and told them to please help me. Then I thought about calling my pastor. I told him what happened, and he came and took me into his custody. I just wanted something for my headache, I could not wait to get home and take the Vicodin I had to stop the pain. I was home for about 4 hours and then I went into full seizures, and my head hurt so bad I had to wrap it in a towel while I screamed in pain. My poor daughter age 4 had to go to the neighbors and ask them to call an ambulance for mommy. The ambulance came, and this time I told them that “I was not crazy, I am very sick, do not take me to the other hospital and please check my head.” I passed out. The next thing I remember was the sound of knocking from x-ray machines and lying flat strapped to a table unable to move. My head hurt so bad it felt like it was going to explode, the pain was beyond bearable and I gritted my teeth in pain. I remember thinking, “This is what it is like to die! I was afraid, because I knew that I was not living my life right before God.” I focused in, and tried to talk to God in my mind, to prepare myself for heaven, or hell I wasn’t sure. Suddenly out of nowhere, I hear my name, “Liiissssaaaaaa”! It spooked me! It was like a lightning bolt of power went right through me. The pain ceased, and I was suddenly in the presence of the Lord! Righteousness, love, holiness, mercy, and truth all proceeded from Him! It was like the power of water rushing down a waterfall and lightening at the same time! I was frightened and I immediately wanted to hide. My true intents were exposed and I could not hide! I was undone, and I knew it within seconds of hearing my Lord speak my name! I was ashamed! He knew me and all the bad in my heart; I felt suicidal and wanted to die. My heart broke and I just subsisted there for a while. Then what took place next has forever etched in my heart... Christ began to weep. He was sad and He wept over me. Why, I thought? He was sad because He loved me! I had no idea how much He loved me. He said, “You don’t know really know my love and how much I love you.” Then He said, “I have a plan for you, and you are going to be okay.” There I was expecting to be condemned; snuffed out! I truly deserved it! Instead, He was weeping over me! “Why?” “How can it be?” I thought. The next thing I remember was waking up to a doctor at my side. He said, “You have a big tumor and showed it to me in the x-rays.” He said he would not know if it is cancerous, until after I had surgery. He said He only knew one doctor who could perform this surgery with any success, and he is in Alaska. I marveled and said, “Great, I am going to be okay, let’s get this thing out.” The doctor tried to explain how bad it was, but I was just happy that I was not going nuts as I had thought! I clung to hope, and those precious words of grace God gave me in my vision, “You are going to be okay, and I have a plan for you” It was like I was Moses, and the brightness of Gods glory was so great! I just believed and what God said would happen. The anointing from being in the presence of the Lord was so strong, it caused me to give up all I had and believe! For the first time in my life, I had no fear, no worries, and I did not think of myself. Driven from then on to only think about others, I could not wait to be well so I could reach out to the world with this love I had encountered. As we all have heard, Gods plans are not always as they may seem to us. His, “You’re going to be okay” did not turn out quite as if I had imagined it. I had to fly up to Alaska in a wheel chair. Some good news was that tests revealed that I was dominate on both sides of my brain, and left handed. That meant that I would not lose all my cognitive abilities, and may not be a vegetable. Either way, I ignored all what the doctors said, and remembered what the Lord spoke to me. However, God and I had different ideas about what “okay” meant. I awoke after surgery and realized that I was in big trouble when I could not figure out how to tie my shoe! Now I know, God was trying to show me something and it really had little to do with my brain tumor. He was showing me that I needed deep healing in my heart not my head to be okay! The suffering of the brain tumor brought out the real issues; that was my soul was damaged! As He healed my soul, my body would follow. All along I was thinking my problem was my brain tumor, but God showed me the problem was my heart, and the tumor was a manifestation of sick heart. As God began the long grueling process of breaking though this ordeal in me, He gave me a special gift because of the brain surgery. I did not know I had this amazing gift until 6 months after my surgery I set out to a find job; any job. I could not keep lying around and do nothing. I became mad at God and said, “God, you said I was going to be okay, but I am messed up and need some work.” So, I looked in the paper, and spotted an advertisement for a job that I thought I could do. It was a part-time ad agency position taking pictures of artist hand drawn ads, making them smaller to be cut and pasted into newspaper advertisements. I did not realize that this job would reveal my secret gift from God, but it did. I saw that staff artists were having fun drawing, and I thought to myself, “I bet I could draw too.” So, I took a pen and drew a pair of sneakers. Much to my utter amazement and the rest of the crew, I drew them perfectly, so much that they put them in the advertisement! Within three months on this job, they hired me as a full time illustrator! God has His sense of humor, and perhaps He knew I would question our encounter, so He left me with a supernatural gift to draw and paint so that I would never forget or question His hand upon my life. image

God restored my health and gave me a career and purpose. Today, I live a radically changed life by the grace of God. I am an artist, and I run a custom framing business. Yes, I am okay now, and He has a plan for me that I am living out. It’s a life telling many others of the forgiveness and love of Christ to all who will listen! Most of all, I am healed by the power of His love from the abuse and abortions. I confessed my sins and He has washed me white as snow from them all. I can now feel love and give love, and I know that the power of God can heal and give us life…….life more abundantly! I am living proof of Jeremiah 29:11-13 that says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” All who come to Jesus in humility and truth will find life, just as I have.

Lisa Mother, Artist, Servant of God Most High.

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Chewing gum theology

When you read the Bible, do you read it simply to get through it? Or do you read it with a sense of expectation looking for something God wants to speak to you about ?    I have found if we read for the wrong motive it totally changes things. It may become a drudgery, inconvenience, or something we just must do as some religious exercise.  Even for one born-again of God, this can be a trap that makes your "feeding on the bread of life" like chewing gum.  Something you chew on casually, taste a little and then spit it out once the bold flavors are absent. The end result is meaningless.

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God wants to transform our lives through intimacy with him. Like Moses, we cannot spend time with God and not walk away without his glory shining from our lives. If you are not moved, then you did not swallow the truths of who He is and his call on your life. You chewed and spit him out.  This reminds me of my 2 year old grandson, who often chews a new food we give him, that don't suit his taste or texture preferences, and then he pushes it all out of his mouth with his tongue, never swallowing it. The Bible is God-breathed and as such is living an active and will nourish our souls, if we will learn to enjoy it's flavors and swallow.  It penetrates both the physical and spiritual realms of life. It is not supposed to be like chewing gum, but to be solid meat for the soul. We must desire God in this life so much as to be like a deep hunger to a starving man. Holy Spirit indwelling causes those who are the Lords to want to consume him...to hunger to know him and follow his every word. We should naturally hang our lives in balance to hear the next word from our sovereign Savior !    Why would we even say we want heaven and all the glory of seeing Christ face to face and being forever with God in all his beauty and not really have any passion to know him and obey him today? He is God; Our Creator, and full of endless wisdom and love and has good plans for our welfare and our future with him. He speaks through his Word as the Spirit in us makes it alive and guides us in truths that will direct our steps in daily life applications.

Read your Bible books and learn the context first.... Then Slow down... Stop and think and search paragraph by paragraph, sentence by sentence, about some truths God is wanting to apply to some part of your life today. But you got to slow down and listen for that still small voice that is speaking.

God is speaking. Are you listening?

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Yielded to Holy Spirit

There is a real interpersonal mystery in the Holy Spirit. He relates to each of God's elect on an intimate basis. Even so while maintaining his eternal relation to the Father and the Son in the triune mystery. As we read in 2 Corinthians 13:14, "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all"; herein we see there is fellowship and intimacy with God through the Spirit. (Notice also the triune persons of God represented again) There has been much talk about the Holy Spirit and his power being revealed among us as much in the charismatic movement has been a forced exercise of trying to use God the Spirit for our own human desires or feelings.   But God; He is not one who we can use. He uses us. Intimacy with God begins by surrendering daily to the Spirit and allowing him to lead you. We don't conjure Him up in some emotionalized worship service like some form of pagan spiritist or medium. Worship and power of the Spirit is much more than outward manifestations seen among worshippers in a gathering of Believers, which many times emotionalism and forced jibberish is confused with the Spirit's power and presence. But rather a life of obedience to God is evidence of the Spirit in you. Romans 8:5b says "...those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit." The Spirit is sent in power to encourage us yes, but even more so to empower us to boldly do the works of the Gospel.

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Do you live according to the Spirit? How does this reveal itself in you?  Since the Spirit inspired all of the Bible, wouldn't you likewise assume to see a deeper hunger for those who are true children of God for his Word, and to walk in the ways of Jesus to whom the Spirit leads us to be like? Yet the vast majority of those who call themselves Christian rarely spend time with God listening to him through reading and meditation and obedient application of their Bibles to their lives. Scripture exhorts us to be doers and not hearers only. (James 1:22)

If a regular hunger and making time with God through prayer and reading his Word and seeking his voice to lead is not part of your life, then something is seriously wrong.

Make the change you must to reorder your life. Today is the day of repentance  from known sins that hold you back, and getting your life right with God. Don't delay, because every day missed from this glorious relationship with Christ and the Father through the Spirit is a day others cannot be made new through you.    God does have plans for you, to give you a future and a glorious hope. Yet you must seek him in love and listen to the Spirit and yield to him. The promise is; you will find.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord , plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.- Jeremiah 29:11-13 ESV

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Conflict- a prayer

O Lord God,You are my protecting arm,    fortress, refuge, shield, my buckler. Fight for me and my foes must flee; Uphold me and I cannot fall; Strengthen me and I stand unmoved, unmovable; Equip me and I shall receive no wound; Stand  by me and Satan will depart; Anoint my lips with a song of Salvation     and I shall shout your victory. Give me abhorrence of all evil,     as a vile monster that defies your law, that casts off your yoke, defiles my nature, and spreads misery. Teach me to look to Jesus on his cross     and so to know sin's loathsomeness in your sight. There is no pardon but through your Son's death,     no cleansing but in his precious blood,     no atonement but his to pay for evil. Show me the shame, the agony, the bruises of incarnate God,     that I may read boundless guilt in the boundless price. May I discern the viper in its real malignity,    tear at it with holy indignation from my chest,     resolutely turn from its every snare,     refuse to hold polluting alliance with it. Blessed Lord Jesus, at your cross     may I be taught the awful miseries from which I am saved,     ponder what the word "lost" really  implies,     see the fires of eternal destruction; Then may I cling more closely to your body broken for me,     adhere to you with firmer faith,     be devoted to you with my total being,     detest sin as strongly as your love for me is strong, And may holiness be the atmosphere in  which I live,     to know you deeper Father,     to breathe in the life of you O Holy Spirit,     and to live all my days of eternity for your pleasure dear Jesus, All to you my God I live.     Amen.

Inspired and adapted from 'Conflict', Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan prayers.

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Love of Christ saves me

I was put to death on the cross with Christ, and I do not live anymore—it is Christ who lives in me. I still live in my body, but I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself to save me. - Galatians 2:20 NCV This bold statement of our death was preceded by Paul's explanation that we who have given our lives to Christ by faith, have in essence, died to trying to save ourselves. He says we died to the law, so we can now live for God. The Law represents your attempts to be holy by your own power.

It can be easy to add our own interpretations of what Paul is saying here. Indeed there are many things we have "died" to, so personally this statement can be a long laundry list of specifics, but in context this is speaking of one particular thought. So reading and thinking about this in context is important if we want to gain the full truth being revealed here.  If you read this passage in context you can see that Paul is preaching that we are not justified by the law. In other words,  we are not made holy and pure before God by following a set of rules of right and wrong.  This is our natural human thinking. In reality we all know every wrong demands justice, but justice is not doing some good every time we do a wrong. Justice is about punishment for the wrong. Doing a good deed never undoes the wrong. If that were the case I could kill someone who I didn't like and then simply go save another person from dying to undo my other wrong and be clean. No! You have to pay for your sins.  All of them. This is the great error of all other non-christian beliefs. The flaw in most human thinking is that we think doing some "right", some kind of equal opposing good deed will nullify the wrong. Humanity deludes themselves this way to cope with our own inherent evil. The problem is any good we do, never wipes out or nullifies any wrong. It is like you are a glass of pure water.  You pour in some arsenic.  The water is now poisoned. I can add some more pure water into my glass to attempt to purify it. While I may dilute the poison somewhat, I still am impure and contaminated. I am worth nothing more than to be discarded and poured out, unclean as God has described. Also to make matters worse, because we are already polluted by sin, the good we try to pour in is also dirty and thus we are defiled all the more. As Paul preached, the Law only exposes our impurity and is the standard that shows our filth before Holy God. Good deeds never wipe out our sins. Each sin is still in need of being paid. Justice demands to take an equal eternal punishment of death from the sinner for every sin committed, since each sin is a violation against the eternal holiness of God for which we were created.  He who has broken one law, has broken the entire law (James 2:10). Once broken  it is broke, and you and I cannot repair it. Bleak and despairing thought indeed.

Paul's point in this passage above is not about all the many sins that I have "died" to (even though it is true all our sins were nailed to the cross), but rather in this context, what primarily was crucified with Christ is our root of sin...The sin of self-sufficiency; Pride.

Pride is the thought that I can do anything good on my own and save myself in any way. I cannot, neither can you. We all need God to save us. This is why the Word became flesh, Jesus, and came among us to die in our place. Isaiah 64:6 made it crystal clear. " We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away."

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So the day we fall on our knees and cry out to Jesus saying, "My God have mercy on me a sinner", realizing we have no good in us apart from his life, that is when we are crucified with Christ, born-again so that we can then and now live for God. Christ's blood alone can pay for my sin, apart from that,  eternal death on my part for every one of them is my lot! So, when we do good, it is not done tainted for personal reasons of payment for past wrongs done, to supposedly balance the scales, but rather out of pure love; love for God and love for man. With my sin paid for, I can love purely and do good things purely, even if by human measures it is tainted with sin. My sin is paid, so no poison remains. This is the pure saving cleansing love of God at work in us. ....nevertheless, I live still in this crucified body with Christ. I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me. Praise God, because of the love of God, I have died to the Law and now I live.

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America the Great... ..Babylon?

Then I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of God’s holy people and with the blood of those who were killed because of their faith in Jesus. When I saw the woman, I was very amazed. - Revelation 17:6 NCV The great Babylon, Mother of Prostitutes, and of Evil things of the Earth....this is the title written on her forehead so says the prior verse and she was riding in the the red beast with 7 heads and ten horns...  This vision of John also says that the earth became drunk with the wine of her sexual sin as all the kingdoms of the earth prostituted themselves with her.

Then it goes on to say in vs 15 -16, "Then the angel said to me, “The waters that you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, races, nations, and languages. The ten horns and the beast you saw will hate the prostitute. They will take everything she has and leave her naked. They will eat her body and burn her with fire."

The passage describes her as wealthy and adorned with glamorous jewels and clothing and gold...then in chapter 18 after God allows the beast to destroy this Babylon harlot it speaks of the utter shock and dismay of all the peoples of the earth that she is gone... The one who provided them so much sexual sin and extreme wealth. Even though they hated her and assisted with complicity in seeing her destroyed, they will mourn not for love of her so much as for their own loss of pleasures... Look at this.

The kings of the earth who sinned sexually with her and shared her wealth will see the smoke from her burning. Then they will cry and be sad because of her death. They will be afraid of her suffering and stand far away and say: “Terrible! How terrible for you, great city, powerful city of Babylon, because your punishment has come in one hour!” And the merchants of the earth will cry and be sad about her, because now  there is no one to buy their cargoes— Revelation 18:9-11 NCV

Now I don't claim to be an all knowing interpreter of all prophecies in Revelation, and I certainly can be wrong about who this country is that this end-time Babylon represents.... Over the years I have heard of many possible interpretations ...but when looking around the earth there is only one country that can possibly fit this today;  wealthy, international trader who makes all nations profitable,  sexually sinful, and sexual corrupt pushing nation that satisfies peoples urges all over the earth in which if destroyed would cause so much dismay and sadness over the loss of their lusts...

The United States of America! We are by far more wealthy, and the source of wealth to all the world. We are disgracefully the 100 billion dollar world leader in providing the world with porn producing well over 244 million pages of online porn a year!!  Toping Germany the second largest purveyor of porn by a whopping 20 times! Yes America may be losing ground of leading in many other ways, but our millions of pages of internet perversions are spreading like wildfire across every human on this planet, being consumed by the masses even in the most radical Muslim countries while they curse us and want to kill us.

Sounds like a man and a prostitute kind of relationship doesn't it?

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If this is so, which by all common sense it  seems to be,  the end times Babylon is America as she forcefully pushes her porn, her dollars, her homosexual lifestyle perversions and her bloodthirsty abortions all across the world.... Beware!

We true Christ followers are about to see persecution in America like never ever though possible a few short years ago.  America is drinking the blood of her own babies and soon she is to get drunk on the blood of Gods saints.

Therefore Prepare your lives for action...never before has 1 Peter 1 rang so loud and true as it is needed for us today!

1 Peter 1:13-25 ESV

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.  Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls,   but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

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New Beginning

Incomprehensible, Great and Glorious God,I adore you and lower myself. I approach you mindful that I am less than nothing, a creature worse than nothing.

My thoughts are not screened from your gaze. My secret sins blaze in the light of your countenance.

Enable me to remember the blood of Christ that cleanses all sin,     To believe in the grace that subdues all iniquities,      To resign myself to that agency which can deliver me from the bondage of corruption       into the glorious liberty of the sons of God!

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You O God have begun a good work in me,     And can alone continue and complete it. Give me an increasing conviction of my tendency to err, and of my exposure to sin.

Help me feel more of the purifying, softening influence of pure religion,    Its compassion, love, pity, courtesy,        And employ me as your instrument in blessing others. This I know is my purpose here on earth.

Give me to distinguish    Between the mere form of godliness and its power,     Between living and the source of life in Jesus,      Between deception and truth,      Between hypocrisy and pure religion that pleases your eye.

If I am not right, set me right; And may I always come into your presence in peace and the joy of knowing you,      my Lord.

Amen.

Adapted from Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan prayers. 'New Beginning'

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Pray for God's justice.

It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them. - Deut 32:35 I have heard it said by god hater atheists/agnostics that they cannot believe in a egocentric genocidal God of the Bible who kills men, women and children. But then again if you asked them if there was a group of people capturing, torturing and murdering their own children and family members and other innocent people they did not like, would they not deem it just to bring those bloodthirsty people to justice? And give them what they deserved, equal punishment for equal crime?

Now we humans live in an imperfect world and we cannot see or know all the intents of the heart. So when humans administer justice we tend to either do it unjustly or err on the side of leniency because of our fear of being wrong or inability to know a persons future actions of either continuation in evil or reformation. We are not all knowing.

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But not so with God. You see it's not egocentric as in a bad thing, when the center and foundation of all that exists demands that we recognize him for who he is. If I buy a pet dog and love it and care for it, it is not egocentric to demand that the dog love me and respect me as its master and owner. If it constantly runs off and seeks the affections of others or its own pleasures I would naturally go try to fetch it and discipline it to teach it proper honor. If the dog refuses my affections and love and hates me and bites me, I will take it and have it put to death, because what worth is there in a possession that brings me misery and pain and has proven it is reprobate beyond repair? Even more so with the just and true God. God created every living thing and for a purpose. If we who are given free will, to choose or reject God and choose to hate him, "bite" at him, run from him, and never submit to his corrections to reform and love him what good are we to him? After all we are a creature created by him and FOR him. The very living cells in us function and are alive because of the power of Jesus Christ who sustains all things! At any moment all he needs to do is say "enough" and withhold his providential giving of life and breath to you or me and we die. These ignorant agnostics think too much of themselves; and their own pride to be the ruler of their own lives has blinded them. Yet for us who are submitted to God in Christ, we are to love them and teach them the truths of God as kindly as we can, that he created them for himself in love not hate, and if we hate and disobey him we will suffer justice at some point.

If God ends someone's life here it is never unjust. Does not a Potter who is molding clay have the right to smash his creation and start over if it does not reflect what he is creating it to be? For man to say that God is unjust in wiping out even the entire earth and all that is in it, including every man, woman and child, the potter has to right to rework his creations. It's not wrong nor unjust. It's only wrong for one of his creations to object to anything he is doing. This goes for all his creatures... Whether in submission or not. He is true to his word, so those who are submitted to him can rest assured that all that God is doing in their lives, even painful things, are for our ultimate good according to his will.

In my reading in Revelation 8 I once again see this word picture of our prayers wafting before God. It says in vs 4-5, " And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer and filled it with the fire of the altar, and threw it to the earth; and there followed peals of thunder and sounds and flashes of lightning and an earthquake."

God relates to us the sweet incense of our prayers to him....and in context here we are seeing Gods Judgment being dealt out in response to the prayers of his saints. You see, while we are to love our enemies and pray for them, we also are called to value and love justice and goodness and pray for just vengeance from God to all who continue to do evil.

In Rev 6:10-11 we see the prayers of the slain Saints being heard. " And they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also." God says vengeance is his...and he will avenge all injustice among his creatures. He is Holy and True.

Yet the word pictures given us here is that God is breathing deeply of the prayers of his people to avenge the injustices among us. Notice what happens immediately after breathing our prayers in Rev 8:5. In our prayers for us to better love our enemies and serve them, we must not shy away from praying for the justice of God to come upon all who continue in sin. It is okay to pray for evil ones to be vanquished by God's mighty hand, but just not our role to take that vengeance into our own hands. God has created for mankind the institution of Government to deal with evil and gave them the power of the "sword", which means death if so needed. So for us now we must pray for evil ones to come to repentance and faith, or justice to be dealt out on them, and serve them in love hoping that even they will come to know the life changing love in Christ Dfaith Jesus we have found. But by the grace of God there we all would be. God hears and will respond in due time. In the end God will make all things right.

He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God- Micah 6:8 Justice is fully interwoven along with Mercy in God't nature. Live justly and mercifully and pray for it likewise to come to all people.

So be it.

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Jesus knows what YOU do.

To the Church in Ephesus Jesus says,"I know what you do, how you work hard and never give up. I know you do not put up with the false teachings ..." Revelation 2:2 NCV To the Church in Smyrna Christ said, "I know your troubles and that you are poor, but really you are rich! I know the bad things some people say...." Revelation 2:9 NCV To the Church in Pergamum He said, "I know where you live. It is where Satan has his throne. But you are true to me...." Revelation 2:13 NCV To the Church in Thyatira the Son spoke, "I know what you do. I know about your love, your faith, your service, and your patience. I know that you are doing more..." Revelation 2:19 NCV To the Church in Sardis 'The One' said, "... I know what you do. People say that you are alive, but really you are dead." Revelation 3:1 NCV To the Church in Philadelphia God said, "I know what you do. I have put an open door before you, which no one can close. I know you have little strength..." Revelation 3:8 NCV And to the Church in Laodicea 'The Amen' spoke to his people, "I know what you do, that you are not hot or cold..." Revelation 3:15 NCV

Do you see ?  Do you get the theme here? Seven times Christ addresses his Church in various locations and tells them He knows them...He sees them... He is paying attention, and He is not sitting idly by letting it all pass. No.  Take comfort in knowing you are known by the the God of all creation. He knows his sheep, and by his Spirit given to us, we too can know him and his voice. Take joy in your struggles to fight sin and darkness within and around you. GOD is more than watching... He is involved in the welfare of his children.

Take Joy...well that is, unless you are like some of those he rebukes who are living in sin...then take head and repent. Turn from sin and start following Christ as you know you should. For they too shall not escape without due discipline to bring them to steps of life.

This is life... Knowing the Father, and knowing the Son, Jesus Christ, whom He sent. Those who know him obey his voice, not out of fear, but love.  Yet for those who are resisting God and living in sin, he reminds us in his Word, Our God is a Consuming fire, and a man reaps what he sows.

Look at these repeating verses again. What does Jesus say? He knows us? Yes. But more specifically... He knows our works. He knows our deeds.  He knows what we do. Jesus knows what you do. Nothing ....absolutely nothing is hidden from God.

Ecclesiastes 12:14 NCV says this... God will judge everything, even what is done in secret, the good and the evil.

Faith in action is doing, or lack thereof is not.

So. Think on this.  What are you doing?

Do you have ears to hear? I conclude with this beautiful thought for those walking in faith.

“Those who win the victory will sit with me on my throne in the same way that I won the victory and sat down with my Father on his throne. Everyone who has ears should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.” - Revelation 3:21-22 NCV

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Intelligence does not preclude blindness.

Science is simply the study of the observable creation. The problem with evolutionary scientists is that they have stepped off into a quagmire of illogical delusion in trying to make assumptions about life's origins and purpose, exempting from their possibility truth; the biblical God who they cannot see or measure, into creating for themselves a substitute evolutionary 'creator' that has absolutely no evidence for existence, has no mind nor intelligence, who has no cause, who has no beginning origin itself, nor has any purpose for evolving things into this dying and decaying Universe that had a finite and definite beginning a relatively short time back, and will one day grow cold and cease to exist as we know it and can readily observe.

Now this is what is most insane about it all: The very Creator God they deny, because they cannot "touch, see or measure" with their carnal minds and so refuse to acknowledge, has been replaced with a fantasy god called "Random Chance" (RC) that created all the intelligence and beauty we see, plus the laws of physics, laws of math, stability on planet earth for the very existence and sustenance of life in a very inhospitable life-destroying universe, and this non-thinking, non living RC god, somehow coded all life with intelligent blueprint we call the alphabet of DNA, and yet, THIS god also cannot be seen or measured or touched!! Now how insane is that?

The infinite and intelligent Creator God, "I Am" was rejected for a delusion; for a lie that by all mature thinking is a ridiculous childish fantasy or wishful thinking. Truly the Idol god of modernity.. Satan is still in the deceiving and blinding business. Idolatry is alive and well... especially in academia, where some of the worlds most "intelligent" people reside. Intelligence does not preclude blindness.

How prophetic and applicable is this passage in the Bible we read in relation to the RC idol god...this passage is not only about the delusion of the homosexual agenda lie, but delusion of mankind in all ways that oppose Yahweh God.

"They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen...They are... God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful...they have no understanding...Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them." (Excerpts from Romans 1:24-32)

There was a time early in my life when I used to laugh and be amazed that people "once upon a time" actually carved idol gods out of wood and worshiped them. Not any more. Today my heart does not laugh, but cries. For this is all too real today. Today we do not use wood, but theory and stories and imagination to 'carve out' our gods. I will conclude this on this sad note that God spoke some 2900 years ago that is all too real in the modern world. People never really change.

( From Isaiah 44)

6“This is what the Lord says—

Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty:

I am the first and I am the last;

apart from me there is no God.

7Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it.

Let him declare and lay out before me

what has happened since I established my ancient people,

and what is yet to come—

yes, let them foretell what will come.

8Do not tremble, do not be afraid.

Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago?

You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me?

No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.”

9All who make idols are nothing,

and the things they treasure are worthless.

Those who would speak up for them are blind;

they are ignorant, to their own shame.

10Who shapes a god and casts an idol,

which can profit nothing?

11People who do that will be put to shame;

such craftsmen are only human beings.

Let them all come together and take their stand;

they will be brought down to terror and shame.

12The blacksmith takes a tool

and works with it in the coals;

he shapes an idol with hammers,

he forges it with the might of his arm.

He gets hungry and loses his strength;

he drinks no water and grows faint.

13The carpenter measures with a line

and makes an outline with a marker;

he roughs it out with chisels

and marks it with compasses.

He shapes it in human form,

human form in all its glory,

that it may dwell in a shrine.

14He cut down cedars,

or perhaps took a cypress or oak.

He let it grow among the trees of the forest,

or planted a pine, and the rain made it grow.

15It is used as fuel for burning;

some of it he takes and warms himself,

he kindles a fire and bakes bread.

But he also fashions a god and worships it;

he makes an idol and bows down to it.

16Half of the wood he burns in the fire;

over it he prepares his meal,

he roasts his meat and eats his fill.

He also warms himself and says,

“Ah! I am warm; I see the fire.”

17From the rest he makes a god, his idol;

he bows down to it and worships.

He prays to it and says,

“Save me! You are my god!”

18They know nothing, they understand nothing;

their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see,

and their minds closed so they cannot understand.

19No one stops to think,

no one has the knowledge or understanding to say,

“Half of it I used for fuel;

I even baked bread over its coals,

I roasted meat and I ate.

Shall I make a detestable thing from what is left?

Shall I bow down to a block of wood?”

20Such a person feeds on ashes; a deluded heart misleads him;

he cannot save himself, or say,

“Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?”

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Jesus hates some things

"But there is something you do that is right: You hate what the Nicolaitans do, as much as I." - Jesus. (Rev 2:6)

Hate is not a bad word. It's only bad when it's used incorrectly. God hates and so too you see here the glorified Christ also hates. While there are places in the old testament that seem to allude that maybe God hates certain people, and we could 'out of context',  argue that he hates people who sin so much as to send them into eternal punishment, but that argument would be false. Yes God hates, but he does not hate his creatures. David at times in his zeal for the Lord declares hatred for his enemies and those who are wicked and despise God. But those are not our commands to hate people, but rather to hate sin and the death is brings. Jesus clarified this by saying "Love your enemies". God simply hates that we sin. He hates our sin. Detests it!  Sin, or disobedience, or falling short of his character in any way is not what he created us to be, so when we diminish our own created glory his heart breaks for us.  Because He is righteous and good, He by his own nature must wipe out every dark blemish from his presence.

If we who were created to be sustained by his glory are kept away from his fountain of life, how could we possibly live? No, we would perish. God is love and because He loves us very much. He knows the decay wrought by our sins and he hates that! He did something to rescue us with an amazing love and grace!

He hates that those he created in love must be destroyed. It is not God's desire that anyone should perish (2 Peter 3:9), not even Judas or Esau; even though we are told Jacob God loved, but Esau he hated. What say we about this? Did God really create a person and then choose to hate him? No.  This is a figurative comparison showing God's freedom to show Mercy upon whom he decides; to emphasize his ability to choose whom he desires and bless whom he desires. Paul tells us some are created for noble and some for ignoble purposes.  Who can know fully the mind of God? Even the ignoble ones were created in love to serve him; yet we know that no one deserves grace or mercy.   If we read our Bibles and are honest about it, we see that we all deserve death. Scripture says "ALL have sinned and fallen short of God's glory" and "The soul who sins shall die".    God hates, yes he does. He hates sin. He hates impurity.  But he loves! He loves every human and likewise commands us to be like him and to love; even the most vile sinners ; even our enemies. Romans 5:10 says "For if, while we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!" You see we too were God's enemies, but he still loved us, while all along despising our evil. Romans 5:8 speaks such an amazing truth, "but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." This is the kind of Love God wants us to have for sinners, while not condoning or enabling their sins. We are to despise sin and wickedness as God defines it and yet love the person caught up in it. Our goal is to lead them to repentance and life, never to force them. God wants loving obedience, not forced robots.  So let us hate; hate sin while gently steering people from sin and to Christ as we are able, but love all people whom God created in his image and let Christ be the rightful judge. We are not God and cannot read a person's heart and mind, nor know if they too are called and destined to be part of the royal priesthood, rescued by God.

God may have you in place to be the vessel through whom the Holy Spirit reveals Jesus and brings repentance to the sinner. Be a humble vessel, hate sin;  especially your own, and humbly love all people, yet never failing to speak honestly the hard to hear truths of Christ. Light will expose darkness. The messengers normally are blamed and battered. Expect that. But be humble and full of love. God be with you as you love Him and love people. Love the sinner and hate the sin may be somewhat a worn out cliché in modern society. It may be a phrase Gandhi made popular also, but it still is Biblical and the way God is.  We being still corrupted by sin have a hard time distinguishing between the two because of our own tendency to focus on others sins more than our own.  The war on Truth that deviant communities have perpetrated on Christians has exposed far too much personal hatred rather than sin hatred, and this must stop within the Church.  But this does not mean we stop trying. We persist in seeking God and following him speaking against all evil no matter what the culture says. Hate for sin is appropriate. Just don't do it in your flesh; walk by the Spirit and be full or mercy and grace, so that you can love the sinner and lead them to living waters of Jesus. 

    Now this is the way Christ taught: Be broken and humble, like the adulterous woman who they tried to get Jesus to stone, Christ said, "Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more." But to the proud who refuse to see  God and deal their sin, God does resist and holds them accountable. Grace to the humble, but law to the proud. Remember it is unloving to allow someone to do wrong and blindly walk into disaster without telling them. Jesus used whips to drive out the proud sinners who saw no wrong selling their goods in the Temple courts. Now we are not to use whips to drive sinners into repentance ( remember Jesus is God unlike us and had a different purpose other than repentance during that event), but we too are to be zealous over the holiness of God.

So let's be zealous over both truth and love exercising both in balanced compassion towards those around us. "A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so also you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” - John 13:34-35

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The Son more radiant that the Sun!

  When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. - Revelation 1:17-18 ESV

John was given a great vision of God and saw this exalted view of Christ our Lord, who when he spoke he described "as the roar of many waters", whose hair was white as snow and whose eyes were like flames of fire and from whose mouth protruded a double edged sword (illustrative of the Word of God) and whose face shinning like the sun in it's full strength! If you can imagine, this was John, the one described as closest to Jesus in his ministry yet when John sees our glorified Lord, just like Isaiah when he sees God glorified in his vision falls on his face in total fear before him... Jesus here is pictured as the "Ancient of Days", the one who stands in judgment over all the cosmos...whose voice was like the roar of a mighty waterfall. (I have stood next to the deafening roar of falling water torrents before.) Can you imagine? If you can, then even now you would fall on your face in total humility before God. He is infinitely awesome and powerful. Let us not forget this. In our diminished view of God in our lives we can at times forget how Great is our God. Yet here is the beautiful thing. When we do humble ourselves before him today by faith, on that great and glorious day when all mankind will be on our faces in his full radiant glory, those who he knows and has called by name, those who today surrender their hearts and lives to Jesus; they like John here and like Isaiah in his vision experience will feel the hand of Almighty God reach down and touch them and through the thundering yet tender voice of Christ hear these loving and tender words...

"Fear Not..I Am..."

My question for you is this... Are you...?

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Heart Corruptions

God,I confess my sin, my frequent sin, my willful sin; You have struck a blow at my pride, At the false god of self, And I lie in pieces before you. Forgive me.

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But you have given me another Master and Lord, your Son, Jesus. And now my heart is turned towards holiness. My life speeds as an arrow from a bow towards complete obedience to you! Help me in all my doings to put down sin and to humble pride. Save me from the love of the world and the pride of life, And everything that is natural to fallen man. O God, let Christ's nature be seen in me day by day. Grant me grace to bear your will without hesitation, and delight to be not only chiseled, squared, or fashioned, But separated from the old rock where I have been embedded so long, and lifted from the quarry to the upper air, There I may be built in Christ forever and ever. Amen.

(Excerpt adapted from 'Heart Corruptions' Valley of Vision, Collection of Puritan Prayers)

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Living like a slave to a perfect Master

When your natural flesh is pulling and tempting you to do what you know is wrong and that which goes against the Holiness of the Spirit of Christ living in you, how do you react?  The easy and broad road that leads to destruction is our natural path. We must look for the hard way; the narrow way; the way that brings life. We must bring our minds and bodies under submission to Christ and the Holy Spirit who will help us if we only try.   Praise be to God who will make us continuous overcomers if we just try! Go and make every moment dedicated to Jesus! He saved you and will continue to do so! It's not by your own power you overcome anyhow...It's by the Spirit alone. So let's stop taking "rest breaks" in this race for the holiness of Christ and buffet our bodies into submission to Jesus as our Lord and King!  In Christ we shall overcome! Press on soldiers... The victories are ours!

You know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize. So run to win! All those who compete in the games use self-control so they can win a crown. That crown is an earthly thing that lasts only a short time, but our crown will never be destroyed. So I do not run without a goal. I fight like a boxer who is hitting something—not just the air. I treat my body hard and make it my slave so that I myself will not be disqualified after I have preached to others. - 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NCV

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Kept by God

Yahweh, Almighty God,You are the  Creator, Upholder, Owner of all things, I cannot escape your presence or control,    nor do I desire to do so. My privilege is to be under the rule of omnipotence, righteousness, wisdom, patience, mercy, grace. You are love with more than parental affection; I adore your heart,    admire your wisdom,    stand in awe if your power,    lower myself before your purity. It is the discover of your goodness alone that can    banish my fear,    allure me into your presence,    help me to cry over and confess my sins. When I review my past guilt     and am conscience of my present unworthiness, I tremble to come to you, I whose foundation is dust, I who have condemned your goodness,     defied your power,     trampled upon your love,     rendered myself worthy of eternal death.

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But my recovery cannot spring from any cause in me, I can destroy but cannot save myself. Yet you, O God, have laid help on One that is mighty,    for there is mercy with you,    and exceeding riches in your kindness through Jesus, your Son. May I always feel my need of him. Let your restored joy be my strength; May it      keep me from lusting after the world,      bear up my heart and mind in loss of comforts,      make me alive in the valley of death,      work in me the image of the heavenly,      and give me to enjoy the first fruits of your Spirit,          such as angels and departed saints know so well. May I dwell in your house forever my God. Amen.

My adaptation of 'Kept By God', The Valley Of Vision, a collection of Puritan prayers.   May you be blessed as you humbly come before the majesty of King Jesus. He is the source of living water to all who thirst after God. 'Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.' - Matthew 23:12 ESV

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