Joy comes in the mourning…

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Image credit: Gracieediaz

Life without the presence of God is dark and depressing with sporadic moments of happiness birthing from our circumstances and experiences.

But circumstances and experiences are fleeting, leaving us empty and depressed once more. How do we experience a lasting holy joy?

In God’s presence is the fullness of joy.

No one can come into the presence of God the Father without an advocate for the forgiveness of sins. But there is an advocate, His name is Jesus Christ.

You must be willing to turn to God and come into the Light of Christ to allow the Holy Spirit to convict you of sin, righteousness and judgement. You must courageously confess and mourn for your sins against God and others.

You will see, God’s faithfulness and righteousness is demonstrated in His forgiveness of our sins. You must continue to believe the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses you from all your sin and unrighteousness…then you can enter into God’s presence and experience His Holy joy and rest through the Holy Spirit.

This joy can only come after humility and genuine sorrowful repentance for sins.

May “the grace of The Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13:14

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I saw this painting in a local coffee shop and was immediately inspired to write this post. This is a demonstration of the how the gifts and talents of the body of Christ stirs one another to love and good deeds. You can find more inspiration and stirring at the artist Graciee Diaz’s website here.


Common Confession to Reviving Repentance

imageDefilement polluted the air threatening to drown out the fragrance of Christ
I was spiritually suffocating
My heart was hardening by bitterness, resentment and un-forgiveness
I was numb and could not hear God
I had forgotten the call
I had forgotten my purpose
I was lost in a fog of delusion, deception and depression
I called on God not believing He could hear me in this darkness
He did hear me…
He mobilized His Saint, my sister fragrant with Christ
I confessed with a hardened heart but not ready to repent
His vessel of mercy and grace listened and did not ignore nor exploit my sin
His daughter anointed my head with the perfume of Truth
My sister wielded the sword of the spirit to slash the bondage of lies

LOVE

Standing by my side she lifted her shield of faith to cover us
We approached the throne of Grace
She spoke, I broke
God’s Words of Life melted the ice around my heart and I began to feel again
First was humility, I wept and repented
Then I experienced grace, joy, power and LOVE
Radiant she turns to me and points up revealing what was hidden behind the fog but was always there…God’s banner: LOVE

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Faith is not a feeling.  We will be tempted many times to withhold forgiveness.
We must continue to walk by faith not by sight. Faith in God not by the sight of your current circumstances or how people treat us.

When we see our brethren struggling, we must not provide relief but allow God to provide repentance.  We must help them to find their way back to the throne of grace, for Christ died so that we may have access to God the Father though one Spirit.

God sent Jesus Christ to live for Him, die for the world, and live through us.

His death offers us forgiveness for our sins and new life with the power of the Holy Spirit in us.

Unforgiveness is the quickest way to lose the power that was given to us by God.

Unforgiveness grieves the Holy Spirit and quenches Him.

God said if we don’t forgive others, He will not forgive us.

It is a wretched state for anyone to be in the bondage of unforgiveness, but most especially for a Christian who KNOWS they have been forgiven much.  Praise God for His steady grace and forgiveness. May we love in deed and truth and dispense the grace and FORGIVEness we have been given.

“Love…does not take into account a wrong suffered…” 1 Corinthians 13:5b


Merry CHRISTmas & Holy New Year

From my family to yours:

Merry CHRISTmas and may you have a Holy New Year! I’m so thankful for the greatest gift: Jesus Christ!

*Today we celebrate the day God became flesh and dwelt among us.

*Daily we can celebrate how He dwells in us.

*In the future we will celebrate how we dwell with Him for eternity!

The advent of CHRIST is not over…it’s just begun.

Prophecy has been fulfilled when Jesus was born and prophecy will be fulfilled when He returns! (Zechariah 14)

I’m praying for you dear reader…

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My Missing Piece

Rejected. Insecure. Angry. Fearful. Lonely. Disappointed. Confused. Lost. Hurt. Betrayed. Jealous. Envious. Prideful. Arrogant and REBELLIOUS….

All of these words described how I felt and acted as a teenager. I felt disillusioned and disappointed at life.

As a young child I began my life trusting people, but as time passed my heart was subjected to the hurts and pains of this world caused by sin.

Divorce, division, disappointment, loss, lies, betrayal and hurt. I began to build a wall around my heart and eventually I didn’t trust anyone–not even God. I was convinced anyone I loved would either leave me or let me down. I had become a bitter and angry person who hid my hurts behind a mask of smiles and laughter but inside I was dying, desperate, lonely and lost.

I wanted the physical death I felt inside, and yet I would hide in a closet to cut myself to feel alive.

At 15 I was given an assignment to draw a picture of my life and this is what I drew:

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A Broken heart held together with a band-aid to reveal my hurt and battered heart not knowing it was caused by the sin in my heart and the sin around me.

A Puzzle of Life with a missing piece to depict how I felt incomplete and knew something was missing in my life.

A Border of Question marks to describing how I didn’t understand my purpose in life and why I existed.

On the back I wrote a poem:

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I felt no one understood this darkness, misery and sadness inside.

Growing up didn’t change the way I felt. The difference was how I tried to fill that missing piece.

Instead of cutting I tried to make myself feel alive by filling my emptiness with other things: alcohol, friendships, pleasing others, man’s love, college, money, a successful career, dream home, marriage, vacations, children….but nothing would take away that nagging feeling that something was missing and I still didn’t know my purpose in life.

By 33 years old my heart had become hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. My own un-confessed un-repented sin in my heart and the un-forgiven sin of others done to me.

But one day God sent a human messenger full of the Holy Spirit to share with me once again Who the missing piece was:

Jesus is the Way the Truth and the Life

Jesus is the Way the Truth and the Life

I found this pin a few months after I had been born again, and recently I found this assigned poem and drawing with my old journals.

It’s amazing that after all these years God would be so personal to allow me to find this pin that matches so perfectly the ‘missing piece’ I drew when I was 15. Jesus Christ was always the missing piece in my life.

The day I chose to place my faith in Jesus Christ I was taken out of darkness and put into God’s marvelous Light.

*The blood of Jesus Christ washed and cleansed me of all my past sins and I was given a clean new HEART no longer needing a band-aid to hold it together

*God satisfied that void and missing piece by filling me with His Holy Spirit, teaching me the ‘right way’ to live, reminding me I am His child and Jesus is the Way the Truth and the LIFE enabling me to repent of my sin and forgive the sin committed against me.

*I no longer QUESTION my purpose because I know my purpose: to glorify God by knowing Him and making Him known to others.

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Today I still go into a closet…but this time it’s not to cut myself but to confess, repent and be cleansed daily so that my heart will not become hardened by the deceitfulness of sin…the sin I commit, or the sin committed against me.

The love of God compels me to share this with those who are hurting.

BeLoved, whether you are a teenager, young adult, or elderly…God loves you with an everlasting love and He wants a relationship with you through Jesus Christ.

Sin is hurtful and people are sinful and will always let us down no matter how close they are to us. We are all fallen and can never fill that empty piece we are searching to fulfill–the only One who can fill that void is Jesus Christ.

The missing piece. It wasn’t having perfect parents or a perfect life…the missing piece has always been Jesus Christ.

I’m thankful for God’s LOVE. Despite the circumstances in my life I no longer feel lost, lonely, bitter, or dead because I am alive together with Christ and I am now made complete. This gift is not only for me but for you too…

“For in Him (Christ) all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is head over all rule and authority;” Colossians 2:9-10

God longs to be gracious to you….


CommUNITY

Imagine being in a fierce battle.

The enemy is pursuing your team and everyone is in their position standing shoulder to shoulder with shields lifted in defense.

You look to your left and notice the person you’re standing next to is someone you don’t get along with, someone who has hurt you. What would you do?

a. Keep your shield up and forgive them from your heart because unity is more important

b. Put your shield down and face that person to argue and make a point

What you do will determine the health and welfare of the rest of your comrades.

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. " Ephesians 6:10-11

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. ” Ephesians 6:10-11

Brethren, we are at war and though we have hope and know the final victory is coming, there are daily battles we must face and overcome.

When we remain in our position in Christ, in unity with our shields of faith lifted, we can stop the fiery darts of the evil one.

Conversely, if we choose to put our shield of faith down to fight against our brethren, we leave an open gap and the fiery darts of the evil one causes division, strife, and destruction.

It only takes one.

One person to put their shield of faith down to cause a division, or one person to cover the ‘gap’ by forgiving and loving no matter what.

Remember the words of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.”

As a commUNITY of believers we must remain in our positions in Christ and keep our shields of faith up so we may be one.

Unity (εἷς): one.

Unity begins with God. Come to Jesus Christ and know He has prayed this on your behalf:

“The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.” (John 17:22-23)

“Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.” 1 Corinthians 1:10


Stacking Stones…Not Throwing Stones

When I drew near to God and was born again, I was overflowing with gratitude from the grace and mercy lavished on me. I did not deserve to be forgiven of my sins and I knew it.

I didn’t need anyone to remind me I was a sinner nor did I need someone to convince me I was a sinner, the Holy Spirit was already doing the convicting. It was this conviction that drew me to my knees causing me to pouStacking Stonesnd my chest with my eyes downcast asking God to be merciful to me, the sinner. The day of my salvation is a HUGE stone of remembrance I visit often.

I must confess, if I don’t visit the day of my salvation I can become arrogant and think highly of myself, forgetting I was saved by grace and it is by God’s grace I am kept.

I’ll never forget the first time God taught me a lesson about His love and grace…that it wasn’t just for me.

It was just three weeks into my new birth experience when my family and I went to a local train show and I saw people that were in sin standing near my children. My heart was enraged and I began to judge them and I was haughty in my heart when God’s Holy Spirit led me to Truth and the words of Jesus were brought to my remembrance:

He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone…” John 8:7

Immediately I couldn’t see past the plank in my eye and realized I could no longer see past my own sin and this humbled me. I saw though they may have been in outward disobedience I was inwardly disobedient to God. I immediately repented of my judgmental thoughts and thanked God for His forgiveness, and prayed for them. My heart was tested that day.

Just weeks later God brought a person struggling with the same sin into my life and my heart was now ready to love because I knew my place; I am the vessel not the judge. I am the conduit, not the source.

God showed me if I really wanted this person to be transformed I needed to love them…just love this person. By God’s power that’s what I did. After months of working with this person they approached me and told me they noticed how I was different and she wanted what I had. That moment my cell phone rang and my ringtone, “How Great Is Our God” was singing in the background while I shared with her the Gospel of how Jesus Christ transformed me and how He died on the cross for all of us and we don’t need to ‘clean up’ to come to Him we just go to Him and He will take care of the rest. What an honor to lovingly share the Gospel with someone God is drawing to Himself!

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What Im learning is this…I am called to exhort my fellow brethren to stay on the narrow road and if they are in sin I am required to restore them and share the Truth in love but…I can’t love apart from God’s Holy Spirit, and before I open my mouth I better make sure they are His Words, His Timing by His Spirit or else it is not Him it’s me.

We can’t love without giving and in this instance it may involve giving up of my own opinion of how they live their lives according to the Bible and wait for God to use me. He can’t use me if I am full of myself, arrogant, quarrelsome–opposite of who He is: LOVE. I’m finding God prepares me for such work by granting me a testing sanctifying moment before I share His gospel by His Spirit.

Dear reader, if you are not a believer and disciple of the LORD Jesus Christ, and a Christian has thrown a stone at you, I am sorry. I have made that mistake before too. As Christians we are not perfect and we still make mistakes. Please do not let man keep you from a relationship with Your Heavenly Father.

I pray God will draw you into His presence and He will send yielded obedient vessels full of His love ready to pour out on you so you will taste and see the LORD is good, kind, compassionate and He is longing for you to come to Him. No matter what you have done, or where you have been, if you turn to Him and draw near to Him, He will draw near to you for Jesus did not come to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

*Titus 3:1-7


It’s Not about Education…but Sanctification

Deuteronomy 6:4-9
With eyes wide open and gasps the women say almost in unison,

“Oh I can NEVER do that…you must be a very patient and organized person…” 

The temptation to broaden my shoulders and receive the compliment subsides with the realization of the opportunity to share the truth of my weaknesses and Christ’s power.  These women were referring to my conviction to homeschool.

I have fought the desire to write about homeschooling because I see how this subject can divide and stir others to conviction, and some to condemnation if they don’t remember they are in Christ.

Let me begin by saying as Christians we are on our own personal journey with Jesus, and that’s what distinguishes Christianity from any other ‘religion’. Ours is not a legalistic following of rules but rather a grace-filled living relationship with God through Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit.  Daily we have access to the Wonderful Counselor. Only God knows our heart and yieldedness to Him, and only He knows the plans He has for us and our family so it’s best to get our convictions from His Holy Spirit and not other people.  I write to encourage and share God’s story, our testimony…

I first felt a conviction to stay home with my children five years ago when God’s Word was illuminated in my heart as I read:

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

At the time we lived a double-minded life, building façades and chasing mirages, seeking the things of the world and the things of God at the same time. I was more committed to life in the corporate secular world than the seeking a relationship with God.

When I read the verse ‘teach these to your children‘ I contended with God ‘reminding’ Him of my insecurities as a mother, let alone one that can teach them things about God.  At the time we had a Jesus loving Nanny for the children and she was teaching them to love God and love others, I felt it was sufficient to delegate this responsibility.

Eventually we partly yielded as a family and downsized to one income and a smaller home.  At the time my children were 2 and 4 and I had NEVER stayed home with them longer than the 4-6 weeks of maternity leave when they were born.  This was a huge adjustment for us to say the least.  After a few weeks alone with my children I had repented of all the ‘gossip’ and defiling words I said about all of ‘those stay at home moms’ and I was looking forward for the big yellow bus to come and take my son to kindergarten when the conviction came yet again…this time I was reading John 17:6-7.  For context, this is Jesus praying to the Father about the disciples He was given. I dared to ask that day,

LORD who do you give me to manifest Your name?

He answered, and I cried.  He already gave me two–my children.  I immediately wrote their names in my Bible praying someday their names will be in His book.

Since it was Eve that was deceived by the serpent in the garden I went to my husband and asked him to pray about ‘something’ I felt God calling us to do.

What is it?” He asked bluntly.

I held my breath cringed and clenched my teeth and barely managed to say, “homeschool our children…”

Without hesitation or surprise my husband said, “I have already been praying for three months and I’ve already researched curriculum.”

So began our ‘homeschooling’ adventure.

Let me be painfully transparent: This ‘adventure’ is HARD for me.

I am not naturally patient or kind. I do get jealous when I see other kids (especially younger) more advanced than my children, and yet I do brag to make myself feel better when my kids can do something no one else can.  I can be arrogant, and act unbecomingly. I have sought my own agenda many times, and I’ve been easily provoked to anger or giving up, and I have kept many records of my children’s wrongs. Yes, this ‘adventure’ has been a refining crucible daily revealing my need for my Savior Jesus Christ.

I remember one ‘spicy’ day when I was a ball on the floor weeping and asking God, “Why? Why am I doing this?” His gentle peace washed over me and I heard Him speak to my heart,

until Christ is formed in you…”

I look up in the Bible and see Galatians 4:19:

My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you--”

Context: This is Paul writing to the Galatians but this was a reminder to me. At first I thought, “Yes, of course, until Christ is formed in my children…” but God said,

My daughter, until Christ is formed in you, for that is my will and purpose.”  That’s when I heard,

It’s not about education, but sanctification.” Jesus is LORD

 

We no longer call it home-education’ we call it ‘home-sanctification.’  God is the Principal, the Teacher, the Head-Master and we are all His students.  This has helped me renew my mind and gain an understanding of the purpose of our lessons:

We learn our ABC’s to learn to read
We learn to read so we can learn to Read the Bible, God’s Holy Word
We learn to Write to capture and record stones of memorial of God’s faithfulness
We learn Grammar to communicate the Gospel to others
We learn Math to be good stewards of time, talent, money and resources
We learn History to learn about the faithfulness of God and consequences of sin

We learn Biology to learn about God’s creation

We learn Geography to pray for the lost to be found and strength for the missionaries

That’s it.  These are the basics of what we are learning in our household–we can’t handle extracurricular studies outside of these subjects right now.  I’m learning to be OK with that and not strive to drag my children where I want them to be or where I see other kids.  I’m learning to be like Jesus and to meet them where they are at.

I’m learning to yield myself to His Spirit so He can lead and guide us into all Truth daily.  I’m learning the greatest ‘lesson planning’ is done on our knees after confession, repentance, cleansing and revival in our hearts.  I’m learning that when I boast and share my weaknesses with my children and others, the power of Christ is manifested in me and God is glorified.

Our family’s vision is Jesus Christ. Our most important desire for our children is that they know and love God with all their hearts soul, mind, and strength and love their neighbors as themselves.

This is my holy conviction written on a stone of remembrance for those days when I will forget why I am doing this….for sanctification, not education: May Christ be formed in me…

“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.1 Thessalonians 5:23


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