Tag Archives: intentional disciple of Jesus Christ

{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…”

 

 


Daily Holy COMMUN{ion}

This is a picture when I was eight years old. The day I made my first holy communion but it wasn't until I was 33 that I really had my 'First' holy communion with God!

“for through Him {Jesus Christ} we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.” Ephesians 2:18

Do you prefer communication or communion with God?

Communication’ and ‘Communion’ have similar definitions. The first is the ‘imparting or exchanging of information or news’ and the latter is ‘the sharing of intimate thoughts and feelings…’

Communication can be cold and distant, while communion is intimate and relational and results in fellowship.

We were made to have unbroken communion, or fellowship with God.  Fellowship, or Koinōnia means: “fellowship, association, community, communion, joint participation, intercourse.”

Spending time with God in Holy Communion is a privilege we can experience because of what Jesus Christ has done (Ephesians 2:13; Ephesians 2:18; Ephesians 3:12).

For years I tried in my own strength to communicate with God; I prayed, I wrote to Him in journals, I even ‘completed’ my ‘first holy communion’. However, it was not until I was still and stopped talking, and started listening that I heard God for myself and had my first Holy COMMUNion with Him.

My religion turned into a relationship.

It was no longer a one way cold communication giving God my wish list of things I wanted, but became an intimate communion and sweet fellowship with Him. I wanted to know God. The more I sought God, the more I saw He is Holy and I am not.

God’s holiness shone so brightly I couldn’t help but see my own sin and undeserving heart to speak with the Creator Himself. But grace. God immersed me with His grace, and I understood what it meant to say, “Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” A phrase I memorized at eight to make my first holy communion.

In the Spring of 2009 my eyes were unveiled and I saw how the sacrifice and blood of Jesus Christ cleansed me from my past and current sins allowing me to draw near to God. I saw how the resurrection power of Jesus Christ gives me power to abstain from future sin.  That day I was taken out of darkness and put into God’s marvelous light, given a new heart and title of daughter–a privilege to call the Creator, My Abba…Father.

It was the blood of Jesus Christ that cleansed me and brought me near to God, and it is still the blood of Jesus that cleanses me and keeps me near God giving me the power to ‘master sin’.

No, I have not yet‘mastered’ sin perfectly but I know my role: I ‘practice’ righteousness and God ‘perfects. I am on a journey towards perfection called sanctification and my mind is catching up with how God sees me in Christ. I’m learning the faith, power and victory to master sin comes from God alone, He dispenses the seeds of faith, Bread of Life and anointing for each day, it is up to me whether I take it.

I have tasted the Bread of Life and seen for myself the Lord is good, faithful and righteous. I want this treasure of communion with God more than ANYTHING and I desire to be conformed into the image of Jesus Christ so that I may have unbroken fellowship with God the Father through His Holy Spirit to be used as a vessel of mercy and grace for His kingdom purposes.

I am learning we can’t have unbroken fellowship or commune with God if we are practicing sin; His Word says,

“If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear;” Psalm 66:18

He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion. How blessed is the man who fears always, but he who hardens his heart will fall until calamity.” Proverbs 28:13-14

I am learning to come to boldly to God’s throne of grace and begin the day in a God morning.  This is a discipline turning into devotion for me. With the many fatal distractions and noise in this world I am making it a practice to wake up early in humble prayer asking God to help me set my mind on the things above not on the things of this earth.  I am learning to cast all my anxiety on God believing He cares for me. I am also learning to put my agenda, expectations and ‘to do’ lists on the altar remembering my life is no longer my own. I am beginning to delight myself in my crucifixion allowing my death to precede His living breath.

This is something I must do every morning and I’m learning to do it more throughout the day. I welcome and cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He reveals and convicts me of any sin in my life helping me to confess and repent and walk by faith in His righteous ways. I am learning transparency is transforming and God heals what we reveal. God does not finger point or condemn me for my sin, but rather He is there to save me from my sin…even the future sin.

In seeking God’s kingdom and righteousness first I am learning about the things I do which grieves the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit convicts me of what I am doing (or not doing) I confess my sins, repent (turn from that behavior and turn to God).  I call this daily devotion: Retreat, Repent, Restore, Revive.

  • I Retreat from all physical and spiritual distractions to be alone with God with the intent to be still and listen
  • God’s Holiness reveals and gently convicts me of any current sin and I confess and He grants me the sorrow to Repent
  • God Restores me keeping me from condemnation encouraging me I am to walk by the Spirit He put in me
  • God Revives me according to His Words of life and His Spirit; I am made alive and I am giddy to have personally heard from my Abba—not through someone else’s devotion to God or book, or blog but from Him directly. This intimacy and love I have for Him gives me a desire to obey Him.

In this daily practice I have been experiencing revival by His Word and I have been receiving His times of refreshing that comes from his cleansing forgiveness and grace. I am learning to walk in the fear of the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Spirit.

The more time I spend with God, the more I know Him. The more I know God the more I love and trust Him, that is how I am learning to abide in Him–I am learning to rest in His purposes, His ways and His timing.

Why am I sharing this stone of remembrance with you? It is as John said under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit:

“…what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.” 1 John 1:3-4

I am praying for you beLoved reader:

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


Wearing Or Bearing A Cross?

This beautiful prayer necklace was given to me by my husband seven years before I "pressed on to maturity" in my relationship with God 

This beautiful prayer wheel cross necklace was given to me by my husband seven years before I “pressed on to maturity” in my relationship with God and began to bear my cross

For over 30 years I would wear a cross around my neck but I would not ‘bear’ my own cross.

All those years the cross was just a piece of jewelry to me. I had said I believed in Jesus Christ but when my faith was tested through trials, it was evident in my actions I trusted in my own self sufficiency and not in God.

I had a shallow superficial faith because I never read the Bible for myself. Even when I did hear God’s Word from others I used His Word as band-aids to my ailments, an emergency self-help kit I took out whenever I was hurting or needed something.

Then one day I met a woman radiating the love of Jesus Christ and she didn’t even wear a cross around her neck! She bears her cross…For weeks I quietly watched her intently as she would deny herself daily and yet be so full of love, joy and thanksgiving even in the midst of hard trials.

I wanted what she had more than any jewelry could offer. I asked God how I can get my own flame and love Him as she did. He told me, and I have never been the same since–that was the day I breathed my last the day I “committed to the cost of following Jesus“, that was the day I BEGAN to bear my own cross.

The Bible teaches us intentional disciples of Jesus Christ are to bear our own crosses not just wear one:

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.”(Matthew 16:24)

The word ‘deny’ (aparneomai) means: “to affirm that one has no acquaintance or connection with someone; to forget one’s self, lose sight of one’s self and one’s own interests”

The word ‘take up’ in Greek (airō) means: “to take upon one’s self and carry what has been raised up, to BEAR; to BEAR away what has been raised, carry off”

If we wish to come after Jesus Christ we must ‘lose sight’ of ourselves and BEAR our cross and follow Him.

The day I committed to follow Jesus Christ I put myself on His altar and told Him I would go wherever He would send me, do whatever He would ask of me, and talk to whoever He wanted me to talk to. I began to let go of everything that is of myself and prayed He would increase and I would decrease.

My adventure of walking closely with Jesus Christ is a novel in itself but let me share the very first radical transformation in my life.

Through His Word, God told me to stay home and raise my children. You would have to know me personally to understand why this was a huge test of faith for me.

*I was raised by a single parent Marine Daddy

*I was paralyzed with fear and insecurities to be a mom since I wasn’t raised by mine

*I saw my children less than 15 hours a week and didn’t know what to do with them on the weekends

*I believed the lies that I made a better mom working outside the home especially since my high paying job would help pay for their future tuition

*I was the mom that dropped her children off first and was the last to pick them up {it hurts to admit this but He wants me to}

*I was the biggest persecutor and made fun of stay-at-home moms {and I said I would NEVER stay home}

*I had finished my Masters degree and was making a six-figure salary and absolutely ENJOYED my job

This was a test of my husband’s faith too. When I told Him about my encounter with God and that I felt God calling me to stay home full time my husband’s response was,

“It will never happen. It is impossible.”

It was impossible for us because we had a half-million dollar home, a Harley Davidson, Mini-Van, Truck and over $100K debt. We were the rich young rulers.

To get over my own insecurities, fears and desires was one thing, having the reality of the golden handcuffs of debt was quite another. I started to sink into an area of doubt and asked God why would He change my heart but not my husbands’? I then stopped asking questions and began to be still and serve God while I waited.

I would not forget the deep conviction God gave me. I knew He had asked me to stay home but I didn’t know how it was going to happen. I stood on His Word and chose to trust God.

I look back now and see God was teaching me submissiveness to Him and my husband. I did not nag my husband. I didn’t not bully to get my way {as I used to} but I submitted to God by submitting to my husband.

Instead, I would pray Deuteronmy 6:5 over my husband’s head while he was sleeping. I would pray with my spiritual mentor that my husband would love God with all his heart, mind, soul and strength. Then it happened!!!!

It just took five months from the time I encountered God for my husband to hear from God too! God told my husband through His Word:

…the righteous will live by faith

Five months from when my husband heard from God we were moved from the VA/DC area to Alabama and I began my full time ministry of motherhood.

I am empowered by God's Holy Spirit to be a momma to my children for God's glory!

I am empowered by God’s Holy Spirit to be a momma to my children for God’s glory!

I am filled with humility and gratitude when I think of the day I breathed my last breath and was filled with His Spirit. I am humbled when I think about how God was drawing me for so many years even when I had been pushing Him away and denying Him. I smile when I think of my husband’s words when I told him I wanted to leave my job and stay home with the children, “it is impossible”. I smile because I remember what Jesus Christ said of the rich young ruler who wanted to enter the kingdom of heaven:

“…with people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

By God’s grace my husband and I have gone from rags to riches…from our filthy rags to God’s glorious riches!

By God’s grace I am growing in the grace and knowledge of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! I am learning, we bear our crosses when we genuinely say Galatians 2:20

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

And do you know what else I’m learning? We CAN NOT deny ourselves in our strength, we can not believe we have been crucified with Christ in our own strength and we can NOT press on to spiritual maturity unless God permits (Hebrews 6:3), we NEED His help, apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5)! My hope is in Jesus Christ alone, I know I can not hope to change myself or others, He is my all in all!

Yes, for 30 years I just wore a cross.

However, I realize I just ‘wore’ a cross and never bore my cross because the truth is I can’t bear my cross without the grace of God’s Holy Spirit.

It is by God’s Holy Spirit I am equipped to deny myself daily…whether it is leaving a job I enjoy, canceling ‘alone’ time because a friend is in need or pause my writing even at the climax of completion because a child wants a drink of water–His Spirit empowers me to do what He’s asked of me. I have learned the Spirit must come before the fruit.

Let God’s Word examine your hearts, are you bearing the cross or are you just wearing one around your neck? May we press on to maturity!

“For I am confident of this very thing, that HE who began a good work in you will PERFECT it until the day of Christ Jesus” Philippians 1:6

I am sharing my ‘Hazardous Faith Story’ as part of a synchroblog connected with the release of Ed Cyzewski and Derek Cooper’s new book Hazardous: Committing to the Cost of Following Jesus. To discover more about the book and to read other Hazardous stories, click here.

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