Eight years ago today I began a relationship that has changed my life for eternity!!
God found it pleasing to draw me to Himself through Jesus Christ and I have never been the same since!!
This rebirth year has been a time of great internal testing and sifting and I have failed often. Through my failures I’ve learned about the unrelenting LOVE and endless GRACE God provides.
Though I am happy to revisit the day I fell in love with Jesus, I am learning:
It’s not how you begin the race but how you FINISH it.
It’s not a matter of salvation but sanctification.
I know my salvation is secure not in what I do, but faith in what Christ has done as being the propitiation for our sins.
My sanctification is God’s purifying work in me which He will complete until Christ returns.
My privilege is to continue to seek and enJOY knowing God. To be still and abide in Christ, listen for His voice to obey, and walk out the good works He has prepared for me.
My prayer is that I would love God:
With all my heart: guarding my heart with all diligence
With all my soul: that I see Jesus as the guardian and lover of my soul
With all my mind: that I take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.
“What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.”
Author Archives: altarofheaven
“Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, the God who is our salvation. God is to us a God of deliverances. And to God the Lord belong escapes from death.”
His name is Jesus.
Jesus means, “God saves.”
Jesus is the Messiah.
Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.
I am just a grafted gentile, declaring His good news…
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Romans 1:16
“I bring near My righteousness, it is not far off; and My salvation will not delay. And I will grant salvation in Zion, and My glory for Israel.” Isaiah 46:13
Why do parents train their children to look both ways before they cross a street?
It’s because they love them, and want to protect them from harm.
Why do you think God gave us commandments?
It’s because He loves us and wants to protect us from harm.
It’s interesting the Greek translation of ‘sin’ has similar letters of ‘harm’: hamartia, it means ‘to miss the mark.’ Have you ever tried to throw a wad of paper in the trash and miss it? Well, it was no big deal because you can pick it up. But to miss the mark in one of God’s commands is a matter of life and death.
God does not give us commands because He doesn’t want us to enjoy life, but because He wants us to have life abundant in Christ. Even though sin may ‘feel good’ for the fleeting moment, the consequences are harmful. It is harmful to you, and harmful to others. In fact, it breaks the greatest two commandments: loving God and loving others. Once the counterfeit enjoyment of sin is accomplished it brings forth death. Do not be deceived…sin steals, kills and destroys.
- Sin destroys relationships: you hide from God and His people; you no longer hear God’s Truth as love but as hate. You become insecure with your relationships with God and others and you become oversensitive and selfish.
- Sin kills and destroys faith: It produces doubt and insecurity. Doubt that God could forgive ‘this’ sin.
- Sin kills and steals grace: bringing you condemnation
- Sin kills and steals confidence: bringing you shame
- Sin kills and steals your purpose: instead of bringing glory to God you bring shame to yourself and testimony
Sin brings discouragement, depression, and division. Sin binds us. Chokes us. Mutes us. You become entangled and you have given Satan a foothold, and begin to believe his lies, after all he IS the thief who comes only to steal, kill, and destroy.
With this shame and discouragement, you begin to stop reading God’s Word. Even though you’ve been born again of the Spirit of God you become the walking dead. It’s not a matter of eternal salvation but of sanctification-growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ. You can’t grow because the ‘lying’ words of weeds wrap around and choke you, making you feel you’re in bondage. If you are a child of God, there’s no joy in your life because your sin has grieved the Holy Spirit living inside you.
What are we to do with this shame and condemnation?
- Some live alone in bitterness and anger hardening their hearts, perishing until the day they die.
- Some run full force into sin, searing their consciences and numbing their hearts, denying the toxic affects of sin not realizing the consequences of sin begin in this life, not just in hell.
- Some live in a façade. Outwardly living ‘normal lives’ pretending everything is ok, but they know they are not. Instead they start to ‘do good works’ and try to make themselves feel good by serving in ministry.
- Some hear and remember the gospel, turn from their sin and are healed: They remember in order to obey God’s commandment we need a Savior:
(God) He made Him (Christ) who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21
They remember they have ‘begun in the Spirit and must be perfected by the Spirit’ that ‘apart from Christ’ they can do nothing. They remember it is by grace through faith they were saved, and are being saved. They remember: “Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.”
The longer I walk with God, the more I cannot fathom His love. I see the reason He asked Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. I see what type of death and condemnation He was trying to protect them from. Indeed it IS the kindness of God that leads to repentance, which leads to abundant life in Christ.
“…He Himself (Jesus) bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might DIE to sin and LIVE to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.” 1 Peter 2:24-25
Heavenly Father, thank You for being so loving and patient with me. Thank You for setting boundaries to protect me and others from harm. Thank You for Your loving discipline to help me to return to You when I willfully disobey. Give me a love for You and Your commandments as never before. In Jesus name I pray, amen.
May God be glorified. May Christ be magnified. May the brethren be loved and edified.
Someone once told me I was wasting my achievements of Bachelors and Masters degree by being a stay at home mom. They also said I went from riches to rags.
Yes, it may have looked that way when I chose to leave my $113k/yr job to stay home to be a full time wife and mother.
I’ve worked as a military officer leading over 100 troops with multi-million dollar contracts, I was involved in national security projects working at the pentagon, provided leadership for security of Air Force One at Andrews AFB, and served as a successful consultant and leadership/executive coach in the D.C. Area for three of the 15 executive departments of the U.S. Cabinet…and yet…the most challenging and rewarding calling to me is being a wife and mama.
I went from combat boots, to high heels, to bare feet. I say ‘bare feet’ because the calling of motherhood is on holy ground–I finally understood the importance of a mother.
The truth is I went from rags TO riches. I went from my filthy rags of my own self-sufficiency and dependency to God’s glorious riches!!
The world can’t appreciate the spiritual investment of what God is doing in and through us as mamas. Sometimes we doubt it too.
But stand firm in the convictions God has given you...
Happy Mother’s Day!
**Disclaimer** This is not written to invoke condemnation on moms that work outside the home. A mother’s work is never done, and is always full time.
I remember what it’s like to be a full time mama serving in the military, knowing at any time I could be deployed. It’s not easy.
I remember what it’s like to be a full time mama that works full time outside the home. It’s not easy.
I remember what it’s like to be a full time mama that stays home full time. It’s not easy.
I know what it’s like to be a full time mama that home schools. It’s not easy.
I know what it’s like to be a full time homeschooling mama with a part time job. It’s not easy.
The calling of every mother is sacred and holy.
This is the story of God’s grace in my life.
I just needed a season of purification to learn to put my priorities in place and I was exclusively working in the home, but recently have had a part time job, and next month I will be working in a director’s position for a Company where I get to encourage other mothers. This is the path and good works God has for me. Follow the convictions God has given YOU and be at peace.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
To read more about my conversion and the testimony of the grace of God in my life click here.
“I will extol You, my God, O King,
And I will bless Your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless You,
And I will praise Your name forever and ever.
Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised,
And His greatness is unsearchable.
One generation shall praise Your works to another,
And shall declare Your mighty acts.
What does your morning devotion look like this season? Is it like those “Perfect” Pinterest photos, a nice comfy chair with a cup of coffee, tea or water in hand? Do you have a quiet space to go?
In the past, my daily holy communion with God consisted of a prayer walk at dawn, followed by reading the Bible and journaling with a cup of coffee in hand reclined in my husband’s chair. That was my prime time with Jesus!
Of course it wasn’t always that way. When my children were preschoolers I could barely get up out of bed before they were tugging at me like baby birds aching to be fed. I remember those days now. I would pant and yearn for time alone with Jesus. My devotions were usually in a most ‘unholy’ place some would say–it was the bathroom! I stole whatever time I could until their little fingers and lips would sneak under the door calling my new first name: mama.
That season passed and I soon forgot what it was like to yearn and pant for that time. When people would say they struggled with having devotion time with God, inwardly I was self-righteous and unable to ‘relate’ to them because I didn’t have “that problem.” I see now I was struggling with spiritual pride. I’m thankful God loves me that He would lovingly reprove, sanctify and teach me His compassion. He reminded me everything I have, even faith…has been given.
The way God has offered this lesson in compassion began almost two years ago with our move to California. Immediately most of my familiar devotion time objects were eliminated or packed away. It began with my prayer walks…I was in a new neighborhood, which didn’t offer the same kind of solitude and light I once had—or that is what I thought, and I stopped walking. Instead I began praying in the flower garden, but after months I began to have a heart of ingratitude and stopped that too. I complained inwardly for many months that the only place I had in the morning was in a dimly lit cold room on the kitchen table. I missed my walks, recliner, and prayer closet where I could freely worship in quiet warmth.
I whined myself out of worship.
I made devotion about me.
I forgot so many truths:
I forgot to give thanks in all circumstances.
I forgot the Father seeks those who worship Him in spirit and truth.
I forgot we can have communion with God each moment.
I forgot where true worship resides…in Christ and not in circumstances.
With this realization, I repented and received the grace to return to the place of worship in Christ. I’m still in California and I’m still learning how to worship in the dark. This season of my life, I begin in prayer in the dark until the sunlight shines, and I read the Bible as the Holy Spirit illuminates the Word of God.
Whether you are parents of young children, or older children taking care of elderly parents, I pray the lesson I am learning can help you remember: We can worship in the dark because of Jesus Christ. It is through the grace of God giving us His Spirit and Truth.
“…for through Him [Jesus Christ] we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.”
“But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23-24
“For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” 1 Corinthians 4:7
We must forGIVE, for He GAVE…
Today I am pondering on the sufferings of Jesus Christ–the betrayal, the rejection, the beatings, the gossip, the slander, His crucifixion…His death…His LOVE!
I’m meditating on the salvation I have because He GAVE me new life through His death.
I can’t help but take a moment to reflect on those that I must forGIVE. I’ve been rejected, slandered, misunderstood, and betrayed. Jesus didn’t die for “just” my sins…but for the sins of the world. This includes those that hurt us.
BeLOVED, when we forGIVE we are “sharing in the sufferings of Christ.”
“For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 8:5-6
As the brethren of our Church in Alabama prayed over my husband and I at his deacon ordination in the summer of 2013, the one word I prayed earnestly for was humility. Little did I know God was about to answer this heartfelt prayer…
In the summer of 2014 we CAME to California “to help” and we beCAME humbled.
I remember the day I first felt the conviction to move to California to serve my family in the name of Jesus Christ.
It was the Spring of 2014. I had flown to California to help the woman who nurtured and cared for me all my life–my Grandma.
She had suffered through her third stroke and needed extra help because she had fallen and injured her foot. During this season of our lives my husband and I were planning a mission trip to Guatemala. We felt the ‘next step’ of our spiritual journey was to be missionaries.
When I shared about the mission trip with my Grandma she told me the ladies that helped her in the rehabilitation center were from Guatemala. I thought it was interesting that I was going to help strangers in Guatemala, and strangers from Guatemala were coming to help my Grandma.
I felt convicted that I was ‘willing’ to sell our stuff and go to another Country to serve and share the Gospel, but my heart hesitated when it came to my own family. I had sang the song, “All I have is Christ” many times and told God I would go anywhere and do anything and yet I felt I was being tested.
You may understand when I tell you, it’s hard to serve your family. I think it’s because we tend to be offended more easily since we are so close to them, and we want to please them.
That morning as I was reading the Bible, God asked if I was willing to be a ‘vessel of mercy and grace’ for my family. If I would be willing to “pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification, without which no one will see the Lord.” I wept, and surrendered. I told God I can’t, but I know with Him, all things are possible.
I ‘threw a fleece’ out and asked God, if this conviction is from Him, He would ‘move’ my husband. In the past my husband had said he would NEVER move to California. I didn’t want to be the one to ‘convince’ him of anything, but I knew if this was God will He would ‘convict’ him.
In the sermon that morning God confirmed through His Word this conviction was indeed from Him.
What God did next is amazing…less than an hour of getting out of Church during my visit in California my husband calls me from Alabama and tells me he was moved and convicted by the sermon and after praying he knew where our next assignment would be.
I thought he was going to say drilling water wells in Africa. He had just met with a missionary about it and was heart broken about the lack of clean water. I braced myself and asked,
“What do you mean ‘there'”
My heart raced and so did the time.
We had already started downsizing and having Garage sales in the summer of 2013 but in the span of five months we had a total of 8 Garage sales/consignments, many donations and trips to the dumpster as we prepared for the cross-country move. The pursuit of sanctification was evident as I was confronted with my flesh during the garage sales. I never saw myself so sentimental, stingy and selfish with my stuff. Gently God began to
work on my heart and help me to let go of stuff.
The pursuit of sanctification continued in California as we pursued peace while our motives and intentions were scrutinized. In fairness, I understand. It’s hard to believe a family would uproot from a place they love to serve in a place they’re unsure of—but time and testing would reveal motives and that is how God is glorified.
We moved from our spacious four bedroom home to my Grandma’s much smaller three bedroom home. This was supposed to be temporary as we searched for a local place to live so we can help our family care for my Grandma while giving her personal space.
What we did not realize was how long it would take to find a job for my husband. We also did not realize the work God was doing in him to ensure he knew his identity was not in a job title, or how much or little he made but in Christ. We thought we ‘learned’ this lesson but we were about to learn this lesson again, again, and again and we continue to learn this lesson.
I watched my husband burn in God’s refining fire of sanctification. He was willing to do whatever it took to provide for his family. He walked miles knocking on 90+ doors marketing for a construction company, he worked in the heat of the day digging water wells in central California being away from his family and the fellowship of the Church. He had many lonely days, clinging to Christ and yet yearning for fellowship that comes in Christ with the Church. He endured a hernia and was on disability as he waited months for surgery.
We had many days of spiritual depression caused by our disobedience and doubt. We cried, fought, and even conspired to run away from the fiery furnace…but we didn’t run away. I’d like to say we didn’t run away because of our faith, but the truth is we couldn’t. There was no money to go anywhere so we stayed…it wasn’t until we fully surrendered to the calling here in California that things began to change for us. In less than a week, Billy was offered a job as a recruiter at a Security Firm allowing him to work closer to home and be back with the body of Christ.
Though we have made many great memories in California it has NOT been easy. It was hard to leave our kindred friendships in Alabama and be the ‘new’ family in an established community. It was hard to not have a ‘reputation.’ It was hard to lose my sentimental stuff. But what has made it most difficult was seeing our rebellious and prideful hearts. To see our depravity.
I have come to the place to choose to look at my depravity and humble myself….I see this is a daily exercise of dying to self. I must daily address the defensiveness and rebellion in my heart. Living with family can be difficult because there’s no opportunity for false pretenses. It was my gracious Aunt that gave me wise counsel.
“Let it go…”
“Let go, the need to be right….”
“Let go the need to defend yourself…”
She was guiding me back to the path of humility reminding me of the way to access grace as shared in 1 Peter 5:5-6:
“You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time….”
Praise God for His grace, strength and power that comes through humility. God used my family to test us. To reveal what is in our hearts, and show us areas not yet surrendered to Him. We had a choice- to deny our sin, or confess and repent of it.
Our flesh had been ‘peeking out’ in areas we had not realized still existed. We were continually humbled. We saw our tendency to focus on the environmental factors, circumstances or the behavior of others and blame them for stirring up our anger. The fruit of the Spirit and flesh are evident.
The truth is, circumstances and people only reveal what is in the heart. If we say they are tempting our flesh, then we are acknowledging there is flesh to be tempted, and as a Christians we should see this ‘temptation’ as an opportunity of refinement, to die to self, and be more like Christ, to trim the fat and rid the flesh, for us to decrease and Christ to increase. This is good but it doesn’t feel good (Hebrews 12).
There has been much for us to confess and repent. The circumstances of being around my family have revealed how prideful and self righteous we can still be, wanting to be right and defend ourselves. We can be very defensive and try to prove our intentions. We are learning intentions are truly revealed by God in His timing and that’s for Him to reveal to others. We are to worship Him in Spirit and in Truth as we abide and obey Him keeping our eyes fixed on Christ.
We know we must abide in Christ, walking in continual confession, repentance towards God and faith in The Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit will write these Scriptures on our hearts.
There’s unity in humility. When I began to humble myself, not only was I able to receive God’s grace, but I was able to see the hearts of my family. I began to have compassion for them.
Genuine compassion is birthed out of experiencing the lives of others. That’s what Jesus did. He humbled Himself:
“…made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men, and being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and become obedient to the point of death, even death of the cross.” Philippians 2:7-8
We came to California to help and we beCAME humbled.
We thought our next ‘assignment’ was going to be a missionaries to a far off land. We have come to understand and appreciate the Truth that “Man plans, but the LORD directs his steps.” With the counsel and teaching of our current Church, we are continuing to mature as disciples and realize our wrong thinking about missions. We are always on mission,and it begins in being faithful wherever you are. The ministry of reconciliation is a calling we all have as Christians, and yet it is only done in God’s strength and power. We have been humbled to KNOW we will be learning for the rest of our lives and never ‘arriving’ until Christ returns. We have also have learned what it means to have ‘A Biblical Theology of Work.’ This has been a liberating truth full of grace!
Recently, my husband was blessed with a job that allows him to work from any location. Since our house in Alabama never sold, we have decided it is better stewardship of our entrusted resources to move back to Alabama. We are excited and thankful for the opportunity to rejoin the fellowship of believers that have invested much teaching, prayer and encouragement to our family even while in California. They are watching us grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ and we are returning one humbled family.
My Grandma will continue to be loved and cared for by her children and grandchildren in the local area. Though my heart is torn and sad to leave her, I know she is not alone and she does not need another Savior because she already has One–His name is Jesus Christ.
We have made many mistakes, and I know I did much in my own strength than I should have. Many apologies flowed out of our hearts and mouths, and an abundance of tears were shed. But by God’s grace, we pursued peace, and we pursued sanctification.
We pray the Lord was seen.
Since making the decision to move back, we have been given the opportunity to serve in a ministry in Alabama that is seeking peacemakers, people that pursue peace and sanctification. I can see God has used this testing and refining time in California to prepare us for this ‘next assignment’ and we go knowing apart from Christ we can do nothing.
Pray we pursue peace.
Pray we pursue sanctification.
Pray others see The Lord Jesus.
“Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see The Lord.” Hebrews 12:14