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I have been thinking a lot lately about life and death and our purpose for living. A lot of this introspection on this was of this was brought about by the announcement praying for brother Nabil Querishi's condition last year and finally his death from stomach cancer. I watched his vlog posts and prayed often for God to heal him. Also I saw how his desperation to get healing, somewhat biased his normally strong theological knowledge. The topics he preached about for years were being tested first hand to see if what he said was truly what he believed to be true. It's true no one sees God, has relationship with him, or interprets the Bible in a vacuum. All we do, and even our theology, is heavily weighed by our emotions and circumstances. We are just human. Yet I also know that it's good to be unearthed at times so we can challenge our faith and thinking about what we truely know about God. God uses trials to see how well we cling to his ultimate promises of hope clearly laid out in his Holy Word. Without serious trials in life our faith tends to be somewhat theoritical, so we and others need to see it tested and refined as metal is purified by fire.
For me to live is Christ, but to die is gain!
Even though we walk faithfully in the Spirit and have his deposit of assurance in our hearts; even though we worship God daily and have relationship with Jesus the Son with great intimacy and call God our "Abba, Father" with closeness of his presence with us; it is still but a faint glimmer of all He truly is. The apostle Paul reminds us of this "For presently we see through a glass in obscurity; but then, face to face. Presently, I know in part; but then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known." (1 Cor 13:12). Think about this, these are the words of one blinded by direct and personal conversation with the glorified and risen Lord; who God frequently moved within to pen God's own messages to his Church and moved through in power to do miraculous things to heal the sick and raise the dead, and yet he saw dimmly the knowledge of God? What does this say about you and me?
He has shown you O Man, what is good and what the LORD requires of you. But to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.
What does it mean to be spiritual?
It ain't how the world defines it!
Is it a person who spends endless hours on their knees, contorting or flaggelating their bodies or performing some other physical pose to work towards emptying their inner self to gain some form of spiritual enlightenment? No.
Is it someone who attends worship services and sings like an angel in songs of praise? No.
Is it someone who gives lots of money for philanthropic causes to help others? No.
Is it someone who studies the Bible and can quote from memory many important theological truths? No.
So what does it mean to be spiritual, according to God's definition?
The Bible tells us.
A spiritual person is one who is not "fleshly", meaning someone not living immature and guided by worldly passions. One who is not divisive in the Church as in this example below, putting preference of personalities as dividing walls in fellowship with one another in the family of God. When we let our flesh control what we say and how we live, and not the truths of Christ, denying self for Jesus's sake, and true love for our brothers and sisters in Christ, then we are guided not by the Spirit, but by our sinful flesh. That is unspiritual.
Grown-ups in Christ, deny self and sacrificially give to others, even if they prefer something else in the flesh. That is a spiritual person! Walking obedient to Christ as the Holy Spirit leads us all to do.
Think about it. Do you demand your own comforts in most everything you do and places you go, thinking you "deserve it"; or are you dying to self daily laying down your feelings to show Gods love really lives in you?
Listen to how Apostle Paul defines being spiritual below.
"Brothers, I was not able to speak to you as spiritual people but as people of the flesh, as babies in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food, because you were not yet ready for it. In fact, you are still not ready, because you are still fleshly. For since there is envy and strife among you, are you not fleshly and living like unbelievers? For whenever someone says, “I’m with Paul,” and another, “I’m with Apollos,” are you not unspiritual people?" (1 Corinthians 3:1-4 HCSB Https://bible.com/bible/72/1co.3.1-4.HCSB)
A spiritual person according to God, (and His opinion is the only one that matters) is one who follows Christ, not living in childish devisive ways clinging to a particular pastor or Bible teacher as the guru of your faith. Jesus alone is the "guru" of your faith, follow him, and following him means growing up and denying self.
JESUS said, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." Luke 9:23
“Simon, Simon, look out! Satan has asked to sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And you, when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”Luke 22:31-32 HCSB
I find this interaction between Christ and the disciples fascinating and very comforting because of the truth that is being revealed here. Holy Spirit is speaking and I pray we are listening.
Upon further study, due to dual use of the English word 'you', in most English translations, it seems as though Jesus is only talking to Peter, but he is speaking to all the disciples. Although Jesus begins by calling out Simon Peter to listen up, when he says "Satan has asked to sift you like wheat", the Greek word for 'you' here is plural! It's more like our 'you all' we use when we want to be clear we're referring to everyone. This is why the NET Bible translates it more clearly saying this in vs 31, "Simon, Simon, pay attention! Satan has demanded to have you all, to sift you like wheat ". Then in the next verse he is redirecting his words back to Peter again, because the next 'you' is singular! This would be hard to detect in most more literal translations without Greek study notes. But some more dynamic translations help by adding the clarifying words...as you can see above. Also we can deduct Jesus is redirecting to Simon Peter with the second you because we read the following context of Peter denying Christ. But the NET makes the true Greek stand out better saying vs 32 like this in saying Simon's name," but I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. When you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." These are the reasons it's good to read multiple Bible Translations if you are able...and in the English language we are truly blessed with many!
Now why is this important? Well because a major truth is being made known here; an important reassuring one at that! Jesus is saying that the devil has to get permission for what he does against us. If Satan had his way, he would totally destroy and torment every Christian alive! But Jesus said Satan came to God seeking permission to put all the disciples through serious tribulation and temptation; to "sift them like wheat! " Jesus then reassured Simon that he interceded for him and he would come back from his failed testing. Implying that he gave Satan permission to go after Simon Peter only for reasons God determined. That in itself is faith building. But this is even more blessed...Jesus is telling us that Satan has no power to act, except that which God allows him to do! (Luke 10:17)
If you face trials and temptations from the devil, God not only knows, but He has allowed it! And for his good purposes in our lives!
While some may be upset at this statement of truth that God is allowing our sufferings to happen; those who haven't really "tasted and seen that God is good", I for one, as many of you, have come to see the way our God is our Savior! He makes beauty from ashes; He humbles us, helps us to die, breaks us down, in order to raise us up in glory, and give us new Life to make us beautiful in His time. His perfected members of his Bride, the Church!!
Psalm 84:11 declares, "For the LORD God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The LORD will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right."
I believe this! I know this in my own life! God is our sun, meaning our source of provision for all our need, and He is our shield, meaning our defender, our protector! And nothing is withheld from us that is good and right! Now this is usually only thought of in the most pleasant of ways, but in reality for a child to grow and mature, we parents have to enact testing and trials as a means of discipline to help our little ones develop and not be spoiled and of little use. So when God allows Satan to hurt you and test you, which clearly is only done under God's permissions, then this too is a GOOD thing! His careful limits, watchful eyes and heart of love for us helps us grow into the people he requires us to be. It is not evil or bad. No nothing that comes into the life of a Believer is ultimately bad, no matter how painful or terrible it may seem at the time. God's Word says "Endure suffering as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?" -Heb 12:7 Yes I take great comfort in this powerful truth, that Satan and his demon hordes cannot touch me, except for that which is filtered through the hands of my loving Father who wants to make me perfected for his Son; to be like him... and will never abandon me nor forsake me! (Heb 13:5) God really is in control... And He is for me, not against me! (Rom 8:31) This is exactly where I always want to be! What about you? Do you know the perfect Father God? (Ps 18:30)
These life tests will prove whom are His... Or not. Those that fall away, sadly are proven to not have ever "known" the heart of God as lover of their soul, may it not be so about you. Do you 'know' Jesus. If you do, the Spirit will cry out in you to Father God, "Abba, Father" ! (Rom 8:15)
May the peace of Christ fill you as you meditate on this life-changing truth.
Did you know a person can believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and still not be saved? Many people have been belief and had preached into them these Biblical truths: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved" as quoted fromActs 16:31, or from Christ's own words in John 3:16, "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life", as well as other Scriptures that say salvation comes by "faith (belief) alone" and it's not as a result of works as clearly explained in Ephesians 2:8-9. These statements are absolutely true! It is only by faith we are saved, and only by belief that God redeems us and adopts us into his eternal family as heirs with Christ! We cannot earn any of it.
So what am I saying? I am here to tell you that some of the most hideous heresies come from taking Bible passages out of context of the whole counsel of God as given by the Holy Spirit inspired Word. While is it true Jesus and Paul and all the new testament writers spoke much about the fact that God saves those who "believe", we must absolutely know, teach and preach how God defines belief! Jesus and the Apostles all wrote much about what this faith is. It's not enough to bark out one line Bible quotes like these 3 verses above if we do not very clearly define Biblical Faith as Scriptures define it.
All sorts of well meaning people have "Faith", but are lost and still in their sins. We love to make pretty signs and symbols that say "Believe" or "Have Faith" or talk about the 1st Corinthians 13 concluding statement of the greatest attributes to possess as Faith, Hope and Love!
But we must be very diligent and very careful to not let these words stand alone and be defined by every person's whims! They are useless and meaningless left on their own. We cannot and MUST not assume other people know what the heck we are talking about when we say, "Just have Faith"!
There are two types of Faith according to Christ. One type that deceives and one type that saves. Jesus made it clear many times what saving faith really is, and what kind of love is good, and what type of hope is ultimately beneficial and of lasting value.
You see you can have faith in God for the wrong things. You may hope in the wrong things and you may have love for the wrong things. It's not enough to say Faith- Hope- Love and sing Kumbaya and let's all get along.
Jesus came to bear a CROSS, and so too must YOU, if he is to be YOUR master. Many people are just "fans", but few are the "followers". Here is the difference in people who believe and are not saved and those who believe and are saved. True Biblical faith is repentant faith. True faith is humble faith. True faith is obedient faith. It's not perfect faith, we all stumble, and God is gracious, but real saving faith costs us greatly. Matter of fact, it costs you your entire life. Jesus said, If anyone wants to come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. (Mark 8:34)
Here again Jesus is telling us clearly that you can believe and do all sorts of great things, but be as lost as any sinner in hell! Listen closely to his words.
“Not all those who say ‘You are our Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven. The only people who will enter the kingdom of heaven are those who do what my Father in heaven wants. On the last day many people will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, we spoke for you, and through you we forced out demons and did many miracles'. Then I will tell them clearly, ‘Get away from me, you who do evil. I never knew you'. “Everyone who hears my words and obeys them is like a wise man who built his house on rock. It rained hard, the floods came, and the winds blew and hit that house. But it did not fall, because it was built on rock. Everyone who hears my words and does not obey them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. It rained hard, the floods came, and the winds blew and hit that house, and it fell with a big crash.” -Matthew 7:21-27 NCV. Hearing is a form of belief here, but effective belief is that which compels us to obey.
"Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them." Jhn 14:21. ('Has' is the belief and 'keeps' is the obey)
Conclusion is this: Jesus is telling us that by faith we alone are saved; yes this is true, but faith has feet; it follows and obeys him.
A quick nutshell Gospel message and way to more accurately quote John 3:16 in Biblical context is like this: define belief biblically by adding obediently for clarification. "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes (has obedient faith) in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life."
When you first have faith, real faith, it comes by Holy Spirit new birth, then this same Spirit God leads you into dying to self and living for Jesus. If this is not your life experience; If your love for Jesus is not a compelling drive to sacrifice your life for him and seek out ways to better serve him, you too may be an idol lover, and your love may well be in vain. Many lost Hindus love Jesus and have shrines dedicated to him in their homes and pray to him also.
Examine your hearts and your lives. Don't be fooled by 'out of context' Bible passages that get you close to heaven, but never really knowing the this living God that demands you bear your cross, just as he bore his.
You don't have to be among those who hear, "Depart from me, I never knew you!"
Repentance and obedience is in order for us today and tomorrow. Just as you received Christ Jesus as LORD, so walk in him... Those who 'know' him, who received him in repentant humble obedient faith must go daily in this attitude. Teach others likewise and preach a complete Gospel message, lest you lead others deceptively close to heaven, but never helping them enter in.
"May I be daily more and more conformed to thee, with the meekness and calmness of the Lamb in my soul, and a feeling sense of the felicity of heaven, where I long to join angels free from imperfections, where in the image of my adored Saviour will be completely restored, so that I may be fit for his enjoyments and employments.I am not afraid to look the king of terrors in the face, for I know I shall be drawn, not driven, out of the world." - excerpt from a Puritan prayer from 'The Valley of Vision'
Early America was filled with many well educated and literate devout followers of Christ. Prayers and speech like this are full of solid theological meaning and depth that we just do not hear today. We today are some of the shallowest people our nation has ever produced due to the techno-media sound bite attention span most of us have, we rarely plumb into the depths of God's word and truths and apply them so eloquently to our own words and lives. When I read these Puritan prayers, I am challenged to think and ponder God's Word and his blessed truths as they apply to myself. Thank the Lord for many writings from these godly people of early America and beyond. We all would do well to read more of our Christian ancestors and their deep faith and knowledge of God. They offer us much wisdom and inspiration. Who today speaks like this? Who talks about the "felicity" (intense happiness) of heaven? Who refers to our God as the "king of terrors", because truly He is for all the unrepentant! Look how the prophet Isaiah responded to the King of glory when he saw his vision:
Each creature was calling to the others: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord All-Powerful. His glory fills the whole earth.” Their calling caused the frame around the door to shake, as the Temple filled with smoke. I said, “Oh, no! I will be destroyed. I am not pure, and I live among people who are not pure, but I have seen the King, the Lord All-Powerful.”-Isaiah 6:3-5 NCV
And this same God who came and befriended us, saved us from his own terrible wrath to come for our own sins, will return as the greatest terrorist of all time bringing fear to the vast majority of sinners in the world! Look how John's Revelation pictures him!
The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. 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 1:14-18 ESV
But for us redeemed by his merciful hand, we know him as the shepherd of our souls. Truly he is the meek and mild Shepherd who is the defender of our lives.
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. -John 10:14,15
Our Holy Holy Holy God, has given us who trust in him a confidence and peace beyond words, because apart from that, we should all tremble..tremble....tremble.... If still lost in our own righteousness (or should I say our lack thereof) The standard is God's holiness. How will you measure up?
In Christ you are pure and perfect... ...if you don't know him, you are not going to fare well. Terror is the best description.
I am Gabriel!!! I stand in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you this good news!! (Luke 1:19 exclamations mine)
This is how I see it. I added the exclamations. This is from the story of Zechariah the priest getting the news of his 80 year old wife's pregnancy; their prayers for a son answered by God in such a dramatic way. Zechariah was standing before God's highest archangel and requesting a sign!?? Really? Haha. Wow. I hope when God speaks to me l can be more properly responsive. I mean he came and appeared before him fresh in the glory of God himself, the archangel Gabriel!
Just before, the text states that Zechariah "nearly peed himself" in fear, when Gabriel appeared in vs 12 (using modern day expressions)! Gabriel had to comfort him to not to be afraid, but that he came bearing good news, and then he told him that he and Elizabeth's prayers were about to be answered with the conception of John.
Just prior to all this the text narrates some about who Zechariah and Elizabeth were. It said they were righteous people before God, living blameless lives following God's commands. Wow. That's quite a statement of how great a man Zechariah really was! He was truly a man of faith, while most only were going through the motions of religion, he followed God out of love and obedient faith. It had been hundreds of years of mostly silence to the people of Israel. Miracles were mostly stories of long ago history, so when Zachariah gets a visit from heaven's great angel Gabriel, he had trouble with what seems like simple faith. Zechariah sees and trembles and hears the from God his Holy Angel, and then dares ask for a sign to prove what he said was true? LOL. I can't help but laugh.
We know how the story ends. This statement above is what Gabriel begins with by basically saying (my rendition): "I am Gabriel, " for crying out loud! Are you so blind and dim that you don't take my own appearing before you as enough of a sign?! Well since you apparently are so blind, I'll make you blind until your son is born! That will be your sign!"
I chuckle at this story, but as I think it over I also freeze with some fear over my own frailties and inability to hear God and obey at first word from him. I too have stood in the presence of not just one of his holy Angels, but the presence of God through his indwelling Spirit! Yet I still get dim-witted and blind and allow myself to fall into sin from time to time. O how this grieves me and causes me to fall on my face in repentance and sadness! My God who redeemed me and robed me his own glory and righteousness, the goodness of Christ, and who now lives in me through the Holy Spirit; How in my right and sane mind could I ever willfully sin?! How?! Like Paul sometimes, I must humble my heart and say, "O wretched man I am! Who will deliver me out of this body of death? (Romans 7:24)
Within us all is a war raging! A war of love for God's law and glory, given by Holy Spirit transforming us from the inside out, the new man born of God, daily fighting the old man and law of sin and death! If you desire God, and truly want to be like Jesus, this battle will never stop raging...the day it does, you have turned around and are walking from God.
Fight my friends! Never give up! From Glory to Glory we shall overcome! We know when we fail our God, we have purification and restoration to keep in the war! All we need to do is repent and come to Jesus. (1Jhn 1:8-9) We too can rejoice like Paul and say as he did in Romans 7:25 ...
"Thanks be then to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord!"
Why? Because Jesus himself declared that even if we fall, Satan can never own us ever again and he will complete what he started in us(Phil1:6)! Hallelujah!
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” -John 10:27-30
Stay in the battle and see with clear eyes the glory of God working in you.
Why should I be afraid of bad days? Why should I fear when evil people surround me? They trust in their money and brag about their riches. No one can buy back the life of another. No one can pay God for his own life, because the price of a life is high. No payment is ever enough. Do people live forever? Don’t they all face death? See, even wise people die. Fools and stupid people also die and leave their wealth to others. Their graves will always be their homes. They will live there from now on, even though they named places after themselves. Even rich people do not live forever; like the animals, they all die. This is what will happen to those who trust in themselves and to their followers who believe them. Think deeply on this. Like sheep, they must die, and death will be their shepherd. Honest people will rule over them in the morning, and their bodies will rot in a grave far from home. But God will save my life and will take me from the grave. Think deeply on this.
Could you sleep through a violent thunderstorm pounding your home? I do many times, but I know many who cannot. How about if we add a mega earthquake to that storm? Could you sleep through that?Okay..you know someone who could maybe? Well then let's move their comfy bed outside and then let the torrent of rain fall down on them and add that storm and earthquake to them. How about then? Could they sleep though that?! I bet not! You'd have to either be literally unconscious, crazy, dead, or so full of assurance of your life being in Gods hands, that you would be comfy taking a "rocking-n-rolling-shower-in-bed-while-you-slept" nap!!
I love the story in Matthews Gospel about Jesus sleeping in the storm. Just think about this. The twelve disciples on a relatively tiny fishing boat in a violent storm on the Sea of Galilee fighting for their lives to stay afloat while water is violently thrashing around their boat splashing in and all over everyone! There is no "below deck" sleeping quarters here...just think like a large canoe! And yet Jesus is quietly taking a peaceful catnap with water splashing all over him... and the thunderstorms seemingly about to sink their vessel far away from land! Think loud, rough and wet!
Read this Matthew 8:23-27 with me...
And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”
He was asleep! They had to go and wake him! I mean there is so many things to take away from this account and his miracle of commanding the storm and the sea to be calm is what most of us focus on because of its miraculous nature, but don't overlook this important part of the story!
Jesus was sleeping! Really! How can that be? Think about how you cannot sleep when even tiny things worry you and keep your mind churning... Just imaging what is going through Jesus's head to sleep through such an event. Nothing! Absolutely nothing but a dream about riding a cart pulled by 12 little lambs.. Haha. Who knows what he was dreaming, but I can tell you this. It was no nightmare! He had total confidence that the Fathers will must be done... and his heart was so in tune with God's so as to rest totally in God's divine power and sovereignty! (He and the Father are one in essence and the Spirit kept him humanly aware) So he did not worry that they would perish on that lake because he knew this... God's will was not for them to drown at sea but to spill his blood for you and me.. on the cursed tree!
Are we willing to let go of life control so much as to drop of all your worries, and truly trust in God? Oh how I pray for this kind of Holy Spirit power. Not so much to command the seas and the winds, but to rest my soul even in the storms that blow through my own mind and life! We all have various storms, but will we rest in Christ through faith?
Come unto me all you who are tired and heavy burdened and I will give you rest. -Jesus (Matt 11:28)
He is the Master of REST!
God.You do not play in convincing me of sin, Satan did not play in tempting me to it, I do not play when I sink in deep mire, for sin is no game, no toy, no bauble; Let me never forget the heinousness of sin lies not so much in the nature of sin committed, as in the greatness of You, the One sinned against. When I am afraid of evils to come, comfort me, By showing me that in myself I am a dying condemned wretch, but that in Christ I am reconciled, made alive, and satisfied; that I am feeble and unable to do any good, But that in him, I can do all things and for your glory! Thank you Father God. In Jesus I pray. Amen.
Inspired by "'Humiliation' The Valley of Vision, A Collection of Puritan Prayers"
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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
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.
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."
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.
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?
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.
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!
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.
Adapted from Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan prayers. 'New Beginning'
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