Tag Archives: eternal life

{His}Story: Faith, Repentance, Joy…{Final Bite}

 

This post is the final part of ‘bite size’ portions of my testimony. If you would like to start from the beginning you can read:

Downsized. {A Bitesize Testimony} (Part 1); Building Facades & Chasing Mirages (Part 2); An Eternal Invitation (Part 3); A Christian Mary Poppins (Part 4)

***

Seven years ago today God was pleased to reveal Himself to me through His Word–His Son Jesus Christ.

I had asked God:

What does Anna have that I don’t? I talk to you God. I want what she has with you!

One month goes by and that’s when I ‘hear’ Him. It was not an audible voice. He spoke toimage my heart and He spoke through His Word….

He wakes me up at 2am on February 12, 2009 and I feel this prompting to get my Bible and journal and go to the guest room of our home. He speaks to my heart:

Arcelia, you want to know what Anna has that you don’t? I want you to go through the Ten commandments and don’t move on to the next one until you perfected the first”

I didn’t even know where to find the Ten Commandments but looking in the concordance I find it in Exodus 20

You shall have no other gods before Me…”

I respond.

I don’t have any other gods before you…then His Holy Spirit takes me to Deuteronomy 6:4-9

“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

I tell God, “I do love You! I do love You with all my heart, soul and might and Anna is ‘diligently’ teaching my children Your word. She knows the Bible better than I do. Besides, this is the Old Testament anyway, what did Jesus say?”

Then I see what Jesus said about the greatest commandment in Matthew 22:37-40 as He quotes the Old Testament:

“ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

My heart drops…I say again, I DO love you God!! Then it was as if He spoke to my heart these words:

Arcelia, you are passionate about your job, you are passionate about serving in the Church, you were passionate about the military, you were passionate about creative memories….what about Me?”

God through His Holy Spirit began to convict me of all of the idols in my life.

I see for the first time. I did have other gods.

But I wanted to love God with all my heart mind soul and strength but how? How can I ‘perfect’ that? I wept and cried out to God. I cried because I was frustrated, how can I love? What was love? I read 1 Corinthians 13.

I saw my inability to love God the way He was asking me. I saw my sinful state in contrast to His holiness and I wept. That’s when I began to understand the good news:

I can’t perfect anything.  That’s why Jesus died on the cross for our sins, He is the perfect sacrifice. He is the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. It is through Jesus Christ I have access to God the Father.

I was broken, my heart soft, repentant and ready to place my faith in Jesus Christ and receive the gift of salvation.

I sorrowfully cried because I finally understood! I understood I was a sinner, disobedient, unwilling and unable to obey God in my own strength. I asked for forgiveness for my sins and had a change of heart and saw my need for Jesus Christ. There and then I loved Him
as never before.

I didn’t get ‘it’ I got ‘Him’, His Holy Spirit and a new undivided heart devoted to God. Just as it is written in Ezekiel 11:19-20:

“And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God.”

It was the beginning of my walk of faith with God.  I told God I am His and I would go anywhere He wanted me to go, do whatever He asked and I would talk to whoever He wanted me to talk to. It was more than just believing in Him, I told Him I would follow Him all the days of my life. I committed my life to Him. 

That was the day I breathed my last and began my life of surrender to God.

A life of a Christian is not perfect nor is it about DOING things for God but BEING in Christ.

A life of a Christian is not about religion but a reconciliation of relationships that begins with God through Jesus Christ and extends to others ( A reconciled Mom and daughter).

A life of a Christian is not without trials and tribulations but there is a blessed assurance and peace that comes from trusting and knowing God.

Eternal life is not about dying and living forever, rather eternal life is meant for NOW.  Jesus said, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

The more you know Him the more you love Him.

***This is my testimony of how God chose to reveal Himself to me. It was a process, a drawing.

It’s not the same for everyone, and not everyone ‘knows’ the ‘exact date’ of their conversion. God is so personal and knows our hearts. The only thing that is the same for all is: repentance towards God, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

I realize it’s not how you BEGIN that counts…it’s how you end.  I know my salvation is not based on works, but in the finished works of Jesus Christ alone, however I want to run this race of faith well so that I may be found a faithful steward of everything God has given me, beginning with my faith and family.

God is the same, yesterday, today and forever….May God reveal Himself to you today if you do not yet ‘know’ Him. I pray you say, “no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.” John 4:42

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The family God entrusted me 2009 {three months after my conversion}

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The family God entrusted me (2015)

“Glory in His holy name;
Let the heart of those who seek the Lord be glad.
Seek the Lord and His strength;
Seek His face continually.”  1 Chronicles 16:10-11

 

“This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior Jesus, all the day long…”

 

 


Burdened Beyond…

God knows every bird
Have you ever experienced a tribulation, distress or affliction that was so overwhelming it was beyond what you could handle?

Thlipsis is the Greek word for Affliction, which is defined as “a pressing, pressing together, pressure, oppression, tribulation, distress.

What a great word picture because it feels like “a pressing” weight when I’m afflicted.

Some of the things I’ve been learning are:

  • Affliction can lead to burdens beyond our strength
  • Affliction can lead us to die to self–humble ourself and admit our inability to change the situation and place our trust in God
  • Affliction can remind us:
    • God is above all things
    • God raises the dead
    • God will deliver us from the afflictions of this world
    • We need to set our hope in God (not man)
    • Affliction keeps us close to God
    • Affliction reminds us to pray for one another for deliverance of these afflictions
    • God delivered us from so great a peril of death through Jesus Christ
    • Affliction reminds us there’s more than this life…there’s eternal life

Eternal life can begin now with KNOWING God and Jesus Christ who He has sent. Unite yourself to the One that can carry you–Jesus Christ.

In whatever affliction you may be enduring, may you be encouraged BeLoved.

Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Matthew 11:28-29

“For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many.”

2 Corinthians 1:8-11

“For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.”

1 Thessalonians 5:10-11


Eternal Mission

One of the main reasons I joined the military was to be part of imagesomething bigger than myself. In June 1996 I saw the news report of the Khobar Tower bombing in Saudi Arabia where 19 servicemen were killed, and it evoked a restlessness in me to make a positive impact on this evil world. As an ambitious 20 year old I was afraid I would miss my calling in life and was mobilized to join the fight of defending our freedom.

Five months later I stepped off a bus the dawn before Thanksgiving enduring humiliation and lots of yelling, and I began to understand just a small amount of what it means to sacrifice. God used the military in so many ways to reveal how He had uniquely designed and equipped me. I LOVED being in the military…the structure, the camaraderie, the sense of purpose of being part of a mission that mattered.

I see now WHY I felt that restlessness of wanting to make an impact on this world…

I was made to be a soldier–a soldier of Christ. There is a real spiritual war going on and many casualties are dying without knowing they have access to God through Jesus Christ!

All those years in the military I knew about God but I didn’t have a saving relationship with Him as I do now. Today I KNOW God and I KNOW my purpose: to Know Him and Make Him Known by bringing glory to His name.

I am so thankful for all of the Christians I met in the military that were lights shining, ambassadors for Christ, serving alongside me, asking me to be reconciled to God through Christ. You know who you are. You not only served our Country, but were on a spiritual mission which made an eternal impact.

I am still a soldier. My allegiance is to the only One who holds all things together, the only One who sustains freedom—His name is Jesus Christ.

The last orders He gave His disciples were:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

And so I go forth and obey Him knowing it is God who is at work in imageme, “to will and act in order to fulfill HIS GOOD PURPOSE.”

By His strength and Word I begin in my own home, neighborhood, and City remembering how a soldier is supposed to behave:

“Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.” 2 Timothy 2:3-4

Will you join me in this ETERNAL MISSION?

*Thank you my fellow Veterans of the U.S. Military you are LOVED.

God HAS blessed America–He has forgiven the world of our sins because of the sacrifice of JESUS CHRIST.


The CROSSroad

 

"Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death." Romans 8:1-2

“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” Romans 8:1-2

Conviction is a pathway leading to the CROSSroad of condemnation or freedom.

The narrow road to freedom comes through Jesus Christ as we confess and repent of our sins.

Daily we get to choose whether we will walk in condemnation or freedom. The choice is ours but so are the consequences.

May we walk and live in faith by the Spirit.

Stay focused: Glorify God. Magnify Christ. Edify the Brethren

*Galatians 5:16-26 *Romans 7:14-8:1-17


Unreceived Grace

Her effort to be perfect is destroyed by her sin
Paralyzing guilt sets in
She weeps, sadden by the loss of ‘perfection’
She hardens her heart and tries to justify her sin

Enter in grace…

The one she sinned against forgives her, but her hands are clenched
He pleads for her to return to him
She wants to return, but doesn’t forgive herself
She knows she does not deserve forgiveness
She runs away into the dark to hide
She doesn’t think she deserves to live, and wants death
She begins to numb herself

Messengers come, reminding her of grace…
One day the one sinned against speaks to her again
He invites her to reconcile
She dares to believe reconciliation is possible
She dares to believe she could be forgiven
She steps out of the darkness and towards the Light
She takes his hand and walks on the road of reconciliation

Through this journey her hands open and her heart softens
She weeps a different type of sorrow
She weeps in humility and gratitude
She experiences a spiritual death and is rewarded a new life

She lives because her hands opened to receive grace
She lives a new life because she walks in the Light
She lives a new life because she believes she is forgiven

Today she is hidden with Christ in God!

Hallelujah!

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It’s Hard To Believe…

It IS hard to believe…

It’s hard to believe I need a sacrifice for my sins.
It’s hard to believe God would come down in the flesh and save me.
It’s hard to believe I’ve been forgiven of my past sins.
It’s hard to believe I have the power to overcome future sins.
Its hard to believe I can speak to God Almighty.
It’s hard to believe God can hear me.
It’s hard to believe I can hear Him.
It’s hard to believe God lives in me.

It’s hard to believe God loves me.

It IS hard to believe.

That’s why it takes a working of GOD to save us:
To save us from this of doubt Him.
To save us from this division from Him.
To save us from this depression within.
To save us from this darkness around.
To save us from our sins.
Oh what GRACE is HARD to comprehend!

Please LORD,
Remind me again how Your grace and mercies are new each morning.
Remind me how the blood of Jesus still cleanses;
Remind me of Your faithfulness and righteousness to forgive;
Remind me of Your presence within.

 

***

God saves
When I was first born again six years ago I was overly zealous for Jesus Christ. Though I shared Christ with those around me, I was trying to make others believe. I had salvation ambition and I came across as a ‘Bible thumper.’ I wanted so badly for others to be rescued out of the darkness and depression I once knew.

But what I didn’t fully realize then that I do now is this…I can’t make anyone believe, not even myself. Saving faith is a work of God.

So today I sow the Word implanted in me…I sow with my mouth, I sow with my writing, I sow with my living and I sow with my tears.

I pray and wait as God causes a growth.

May this God Friday be the day of someone’s salvation.

*Read Titus 3


Light Shines @ The Vagabond Inn

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It was a cool dark morning when my kids and I walked toward the lobby of the Vagabond Inn. My eyes quickly darted away from the band of men in the dimly lit parking lot, whispering and staring at me with unlovely looks. Fear immediately gripped me, and the Holy Spirit reminded me,

“Perfect love casts out all fear…”

I was reminded I was not alone, God was with me, and I took my thoughts captive and asked Him to help me not to fear the men but allow God to love them through me.

As my children and I began fixing our breakfast, my husband walks in to tell me he had to leave for work and couldn’t stay to eat with us. He prays and hugs us good-bye.

Once he left the room, the silence was deafening and my heart was overwhelmed by the sadness, depression and darkness of the environment. I quickly took an inventory:

Five men outside, two men inside getting food, one sitting at a table eating….and in the far left corner was a young woman scribbling in a notebook. Her head was down and she was trying to be invisible. We sat at the table across from her and I prayed in my heart,

God, I know you have cleansed my heart, I know you have reminded me that while we were yet sinners You loved us by sending Jesus Christ…I know I have good news to share but I’m scared…can you help me to share Christ with a lost soul?”

Desperate for help, I looked through my phone for a song and find ‘Light of the World’ and I began to sing with my kids. We started worshiping softly and become progressively louder, drowning out the dark and depressing environment.

When the song finished, the silence returned but the atmosphere was different. A voice pierced through the silence,

“You have a beautiful voice.”

It was the voice of the young lady.

I want to disagree with her, but instead say, “Thank you.” I looked at the children and excused myself and they nodded knowing I was stepping out in obedience.

I walked into her sphere of life and introduced myself. She forced a smile and told me her name–J.

Her eyes are familiar to me…full of hurt, hopelessness, and shame, ready to burst.

I gently asked her,

“J, Do you have faith?”
“Oh yes, I do.” She responded defensively
“What do you have faith in?” I pressed.
“I believe in God, I talk to Him all the time. I gave my life to Christ when I was 11….”

Her eyes began to light up and she invited me to reminisce with her the goodness and grace of God in her life as a child. She shared how she completed the entire AWANA program and memorized a lot of Scripture.

I was so excited and pointed to my children and told her they too were in AWANA hiding God’s Word in their hearts just as she did. My children take this as a cue to come over, and she smiles at them. She shared with us the other things God did through her, like the time she went on a mission trip to build houses. She was coming alive as she spoke of God. My next question broke her,

“J, What are you doing here?”

Her lip quivers and she darts her eyes at the kids and back at me. My children sense the seriousness of the moment and return to their seats to finish their meal. She casts her face down and quietly mumbles that she came down to the lobby because the man she was with is still sleeping.

I didn’t mean to ask her why she was at the Vagabond Inn, but why she was in this town. I saw my question caused her to want to hide and I felt compassion for her. I reached my hand to hers and squeezed it tightly hoping love would flow through me to her. I opened my mouth,

“J, God’s Word is in you…all those years of memorizing in AWANA and God’s word does not return to Him void. You have given your life to Christ when you were 11 years old. You must remember nothing….’nothing can separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus? NOTHING. Not even what you did five minutes ago.”

I continued,

“…do you mind if I pray with you?”

“Sure, I’ll pray with you….”

We hold hands and pray aloud.

When we finished our eyes locked on each other and I said,

“The Bible teaches us, “If we confess our sins God is faithful and righteous to forgive us and the blood of Christ cleanses us from all unrighteousness.” He has taken us out of the darkness into His marvelous light and we need to come back to the Light. God still LOVES you.”

Her eyes lit up with excitement and she bends down to grab two pieces of paper. As she unfolds them she tells me,

“I drew these last night and this morning as I was talking to God….”

I look at them as she gets water. They are drawn from a tortured and torn heart. It was evident she was in a spiritual battle.

She drew a line of demarcation and had light and dark contrasted. On one side she listed all her struggles and sins with a picture of satan and she’s crying.

On the other side there was light and beauty with flowers and a butterfly with words like love and happiness. She was smiling and happy and her hearts goals and dreams were listed in order.  Number one on her list was to have a lasting relationship with God and her family. She had the words “Get back” written in several places indicating she knew she was off the path and wanted to get back on it.

Suddenly I hear another woman’s voice ask her a question,

“Hey, was that you praying? Will you do me a favor, I want you to pray for me and my friend….”

I turn to look at her response. Her eyes widen and she looks astonished that someone would ask her for prayer, but she slowly nods and begins to walk away.

I walked over and stood next to J and saw two women and after introducing myself I tell them we will pray for them right now. One of them asks curiously,

“So that’s what you do? You pray? You sit here in the lobby and ask people if they need prayer?”

I smiled full of joy and said, “Well I’m not always here but I’m available to pray for, and with anyone willing. Jesus is the one that is always interceding for the saints.”

We held hands going to the throne of grace together. We cry out to God clothed in the righteousness of Christ, thankful for His forgiveness and grace and we ask for His help, His wisdom, His strength to be obedient daughters and walk in the Light.

When we finished one of them says, “AMEN! I became a Christian when I was eight and I have strayed far into the dark but someone has been inviting me to Church and I’m going back today!”

Like a giddy little girl, I lift my hands and praise God!!

As the two ladies left, J and I discussed her confessional drawings. She told me she wanted to get out of there. I admitted to her that I wanted to take her out of there. She asked if I would take her to L.A.

I told her I was going to Church and she could come with me and afterwards I could take her….but I stopped and looked into her eyes and asked,

“J, if I take you to L.A. what will you be doing there? Who do you know there?”

She drew back and casted her eyes down and says, ‘I know lots of people’ and if you don’t take me I will take the bus to get there anyway.”

I told her, “Thank you for being honest with me, I understand. But do you understand why I won’t take you?”

“Yes. You don’t want to be the one responsible for taking me into the darkness and if something happens to me you would be upset.”

“That’s correct. J, if I had my own place I would take you home with me. I have to pray and ask God for wisdom, I need to ask Him my role in this situation right now, and I need to be content with the role He has given me.”

‘I understand.’

We sit in silence for a moment and I remember I have some more ‘Bread of life’ to leave with her so I run to my car and write her a note and hand it to her. Before we say good-bye I reminded her of more Truth,

“J, God loves you so much, you are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works He has prepared for you to walk out. Your salvation is not just for you but for the building up of the Church. Didn’t you see that when the woman asked you for prayer? There are lost souls out there that need us to remain in Christ so we can encourage them to come back on the path of Light. We must continue to go to Church so that we can come together to stir one another to love and good deeds just as we did today.”

She smiles and her eyes show she understands. She says thank you, we hug and exchange contact information in hopes to keep in touch.

We had Church before we went to Church that day, and Light shined brightly in that Vagabond Inn: To. God. Be. The. Glory.

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******
I share this to encourage you. I am not perfect, there have been many times I’ve missed opportunities to share truth with the suffering because of my pride and self-righteousness.

The day before I met ‘J’ I was tested and sifted. I confessed to my husband my ugly thoughts about the residents of his temporary ‘home.’ I told him I was scorning them, looking down on them for the bondage they allowed themselves to be in….as I confessed, my heart was pierced with God’s sWORD:

“But God demonstrated his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

I meditated on ‘while we were YET SINNERS…”

That was me too. The only reason I was different was because of God’s grace. Instead of scorning them I chose to mourn for them. All of this was necessary to prepare me for the good work God would do through me this March morning.

There are a lot of hurting people in the world. They do a lot of things to escape the pain by numbing themselves with drugs, alcohol, and unhealthy relationships.

Some of these souls have never met Jesus Christ, and some have known Him and are prodigal children. They have tasted and seen The Lord is good but they have walked in the darkness so long they actually believe the lies of satan, “that God no longer loves them.”

Someone in your sphere of life needs to hear TRUTH: that God loves them, someone in the environment you are placed in needs to be encouraged to walk in the Light. Someone near you needs you to SHINE the LOVE and LIGHT of Christ to help them turn back to Him.

I have two questions for the children of God:

Will you scorn the lost or will you mourn for them?
Are you ready to share the hope that is within you?


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