Thursday, March 26, 2015

Happy Endings

The other night I was reading to my daughter from her Little Princess Devotional when my daughter asked me a question:

What is hope and faith?

We had just seen recent blockbuster Cinderella.  Therefore, with fairy tales fresh on the mind, I explained hope and faith in the best way I thought an eight year old could understand.

Hope is to believe in a happy ending.





"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."  Hebrews 11:1 NKJV

"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1 NIV  

Biblical "hope" is having a confident expectation of a positive outcome.

Therefore, to have faith is to believe or have a confident expectation of a positive outcome when the evidence is not yet seen.

In the movie Cinderella, there is a point when Cinderella nearly loses her hope.  She almost can't believe in her happy ending.  But, we all know what happens, don't we?  Yes.  Her fairy God-mother shows up!

Sometimes in our lives, we may nearly lose all hope.  We may even feel like we can't go on and there is no use in trying.  It is at those times that we must not lose our hope.  We must continue to believe there is a happy ending.

Cinderella almost gave up.  If she had, it would have cost her a prince and a happiest of endings. Her prince came to her rescue and so will our Prince.

I love this picture of hope as believing in happy endings mostly because it is so simple and child-like.

The Lord says in His Word that we are to have faith as a child and come to Him as a child (Mark 10:15).  Believing is child-like faith.

I understand that life can be hard and your circumstances may look dismal.  In fact, perhaps you are at that place where you have almost lost all hope...hopelessness.  If that is you today, my hope and desire is to encourage you to have hope.  My aim is to encourage you that God has a good plan for you.

We play a part in writing our own stories.  Yes, we make choices daily.  We decide in what direction the plot will turn.  However, as long as our pens are in sync with the Author, we can rest assured He is guiding our story towards a happy ending.

This is the great mystery.  How do we write our own stories when there ultimately is a divine Author.  I may not be able to answer that question, but I do know the Author and I know He is good.

Sometimes our happy endings look different than how we would have written them, but He is a better writer than us  We need to trust the Author.

I trust the Author.

Lord, I trust you.  I pray my pen is hand in hand with Yours.  I thank you that I can be confident for the things I hope for because I can be confident in You.  Thank you Lord for happy endings.  I believe.  Amen. 

Hope...Believe...Trust






















Monday, March 23, 2015

Grace Runs Towards

"And he arose and came to his father.  But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him."  Luke 15:20

"Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing...But he was angry and would not go in.  Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him."  Luke 15:25, 28.  

Both of the verses above are found in Luke 15 in the story of the prodigal son.  If you haven't read the story before, I encourage you to go read Luke 15:11-32 now and then come back.  We'll wait.{smile}

Great story.  The first son had squandered away all his inheritance, he turned his back on his father and family and decided to live only for himself.  The second son stayed at home, was in sense "a good boy" and worked hard on the farm.

Who sinned?  Did the first son sin who wasted all he had on foolish living?  Did the second son sin who worked hard for his father?  Yes.  And Yes.

Both sons sinned.  In Romans 3:10, it says, "There is no one righteous, no not one."

Both sons were in need of grace.  So, let me ask you some questions...

Who is the Father for in this passage?  Who does the Father care more about?

The answer:  Both.

The Father is not for one of His sons and against another.  He is for both.  He desires both.

The body of Christ is not in competition with each other.  The second son in the passage made the mistake of thinking that if his father was for his first son, then he was somehow being robbed.

Not so.

And what I found so incredibly beautiful is how the father ran to both sons.

It says in the passage the father ran to his son even when he was still a great way off.  The Father will run to His sons and daughters even when they are still a great way off.   Grace runs towards.

And when the second son was also in sin and angry (and most likely self-righteous, prideful and jealous), the father didn't abandon him either.  "His father came out [to him] and pleaded with him." Grace moved toward this son as well.

Grace runs towards. 

What I want to point out in these verses is how in both cases the father moved towards his sons even when they were struggling with sin.

As Christians, I think we are sometimes afraid of those we see who are struggling with sin.  Maybe we are afraid we will "catch" the sin like a disease.  Or maybe we don't want to associate ourselves with those in sin in fear of what people like think of us.  Or maybe we are just full of self-righteousness and pride like the second son and think we are better than our brother.  Ouch.

The Bible does clearly warn us to be careful when attempting to restore a brother who has been in sin so we don't fall into temptation (Galations 6:1), however, it is only saying that to remind you that you too are prone to sin and no better than your brother.

If we can truly look at others with the eyes of grace, realizing that we are not better than others, I think we would be able to run towards our brothers with grace with open arms and loving hearts.

To abandon one when they are weak or in sin is to misunderstand the heart of God.  Grace runs towards the broken and lost.  

I am speaking to myself as well here.  I need this.  All I know is that when I was in the depth of sin, there was no one running toward me.  All I felt were people pushing me away.  How beautiful it would have been to have felt the loving breeze of grace running towards me in my greatest time of need.  I pray I would remember and be that breeze of grace for others.

Today, I want to encourage you to run towards someone.  Be that breeze of grace.  It may be just the breeze they need to lead them back to the Father.














Monday, March 9, 2015

Swimming with Sharks

Last summer my family and I went to Typhoon Lagoon, a water park at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.  At this park, there is an attraction where you can literally swim with sharks. However, these sharks are "friendly", meaning they stay at the bottom on the diving tank and don't eat people.  I wouldn't want to swim with any other kind of sharks, only Disney sharks.

The other day, the Lord revealed to me that I have been swimming with sharks spiritually.  In contrast, these sharks are not like the ones at Disney.  They are not friendly, and to continue to swim with them will only lead to captivity and eventually death.

Swimming with the sharks is representative of living with a hidden sin.  In my case, this sin was unforgiveness.  I honestly didn't recognize the sin nor the danger until the Lord revealed to me I was swimming with sharks.

And eventually sharks devour. 

Sin is sneaky and often disguises itself as "friendly".  Sin will swim next to us pretending to be on our side, all the while leading us into a watery trap.

"Now the Serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.  And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said, ' You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ' You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it; lest you die.'"  Genesis 3:1-3 (emphasis added)

The serpent pretended to be Eve's friend. Serpents and sharks are never our friends. He appeared to be wise and on her side, all the while luring her to her death.  The enemy isn't interested in just getting us to taste sin.  He wants to destroy.

If you have been swimming with a shark, big or small, I want you to join me in getting up out of the water.  Perhaps you are comfortable with your shark and he feels safe.  He isn't.  He is a shark!

Read the verses below and see how serious it is to swim with sin.

"But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes." 1 John 2:11

"But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." Matthew 6:15

"See, Lord, how distressed I am! I am in torment within and in my heart I am disturbed, for I have been most rebellious.  Outside the sword bereaves; inside, there is only death." Lamenations 1:20

These verses are sobering.  Thankfully, we have an advocate, Jesus Christ, who helps us get up out of the shark infested waters.

"My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin.  And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.  And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world."  1John 2:1-2

The Lord wants to help you out of the water.  He is walking out to you.  He is not afraid of your shark or your sin.  Take his hand and let him help you out of the water.  Ask Him for forgiveness.  Don't be led into the destructive trap set. Get out of shark infested waters! 

Serpents and sharks are never our friends. 



Father, I realize today that I have been swimming with sin.  Father, please forgive me for _________ and help me out of the water.  I don't want to continue in this sin.  I want to be free.  Help me Lord. In Jesus' Name, Amen. 









  



  















Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Stressed or Stretched




"My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him.  He only is my rock and my salvation;  He is my defense; I shall not be moved."  Psalm 62: 5

My friend and blogging cohort Becky Crenshaw introduced a new way to read through the book of Psalms in the month of March.  Click here to read more about it.

I am one of many following her lead in reading through Psalms.  Yesterday, one of the verses I read was the above verse, Psalm 62:5.

Lately, due to circumstances, I have felt a little stressed.  Stress is also why I haven't written as much here.  As I thought about how I have been stressed last night after reading this verse, these words resonated in my soul...

God doesn't call us to be stressed but rather stretched to rely on His strength.  

There is tension placed on a rubber band when stretched.  The strength of what is holding the band keeps it from moving.  The little rubber band is unaware of what is happening at first.  It may hurt.  It may feel uncomfortable. However, as it is being stretched, it grows.  It changes.  It expands.  It takes on a new shape as it is drawn in close to its holder.  The band takes on a new shape for a useful purpose.  This new shape can only be cultivated by the strength of its holder.

A rubber band left in a drawer may be comfortable, but it isn't fulfilling a purpose.

I'm sure you can tell where I am going with this.

God is our Holder.  He is our strength.  When we feel stressed, we are actually being stretched for a purpose.  It feels uncomfortable, but we can be certain He is holding us.  And as long as we trust in the Holder, we won't be moved.

"My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him.  He only is my rock and my salvation;  He is my defense; I shall not be moved."  Psalm 62: 5 









Friday, February 20, 2015

Why I Share My Abortion Story?

It was a typical day.  I opened my email.  Inside was an email from someone who had found my blog and read my story.

Her words conveyed desperation.  She had also chose an abortion.  She longed for healing, but hopelessness dripped off her fingers as she expressed her pain and regret through words on a screen.

We spoke on the phone that day.  I pray the words the Lord gave me pumped hope into her hopelessness.  It was a divine connection.  God had ordained every word spoken or typed.  I pray she saw how intricately His loving hand was involved in her life.  God was reaching out to her to begin her healing journey.  This is our God.  This is our Father.  How He longs to fill us with His hope and healing and wholeness! It is up to us to take His hand.

She asked me a question that day.  She actually asked me many questions that day.  The Holy Spirit guided me in every answer.  The questions were good.  This question was good...

"Why do you share your story?"  

The words lingered in the air for only a brief second as I thought about this verse..."Always be ready to give a reason for the hope that you have." (1 Peter 3:15)

"Why do I share my story?"

What a fabulous question!  The answer surprising rolled right off my tongue as if I had rehearsed it over and over again...

My passion is to see women and men set free from the bondage of the sin of abortion or any sin for that matter.  I want to see my brothers and sisters in Christ living in freedom!  The enemy lies and tries to tie our identity to an event or a situation and straps us down with condemnation, guilt, and shame.  He lies to us about who we are and it makes me plum mad!  My heart is to see those wounded by abortion set free to be a voice of truth to spread light on the harsh reality of the destruction it does to women, men, and families.  It not only ends the life of a living child with a heartbeat, it damages the heart of those who make that choice in ways that globally effect their lives. Abortion hinders marriages, mothering, fathering, and other relationships.  

The enemy's plan is to keep God's people locked up in silent defeat bound in chains that keep them from fulfilling all God called them to do.  The enemy doesn't even have to do much to accomplish his goal.  He just needs to get God's people to agree with the lie and they will keep themselves locked in chains.

God says in His Word, "And you will know the truth and the Truth will set you free." John 8:32

I share my story to share the truth that God not only forgives all sin, He removes all sin (Ps 103:12).  I am not identified by what I have done or not done.  I am identified as a child of the Most High God.  I am His beloved.  I am His handiwork created in Christ Jesus (Eph 2:10).  I am the righteousness of God in Christ (Rom 3:22), a new creation in Christ (2 Cor 5:17).

The truth needs to be told.  The more voices declaring the truth of the gospel and grace, the more free God's people will be, which will lead to more truth of the gospel and grace.  It is a beautiful cycle!

And the more voices spreading the truth of abortion, the more hope we have for this atrocity to end and those wounded to find healing and freedom, which in turn leads back to spreading of Jesus's love and grace.

The cycle of freedom can be compounding!  The possibilities are truly overwhelming when one grasps its gravity.

We need your voice.  Will you share your story?  It might be scary at first.  But then, it isn't.
And the more you share, the freer you become and the more freedom wins and the enemy is
defeated.

"And they overcame by the blood of the Lamb and the Word of their testimony." Rev 12:11  

You can start here.  Email me.  Comment.  Take a breath.  Then, take a step.

There is freedom and healing.  Your sin is not your identity.  It is not who you are.  You are His.

You are why I share my story.



(For more information on healing the abortion wounded heart, feel free to contact me or you can go to www.godeeperstill.org)  



Tuesday, February 17, 2015

What if I Pray and Nothing Happens?

"Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart."  Psalm 37:4

My 9 year old son lay in bed under his worn from lots of love "Cars" themed comforter.  I knelt beside his bed, as I do just about every night, and asked him if he wanted to pray about anything. Immediately the tears formed.

I inquired lovingly, "Why are you crying?  Is something wrong?"

Through sniffles, he said, "I want to pray about something but I don't think I should. I don't think it will happen. And you and God won't think it is important."

I patiently insisted that nothing is too small to pray about in God's eyes and He wants us to pray about everything. He still was sure his request was not worthy of God's time.  He was even embarrassed to tell me.

Finally, he relinquished and with a deep breath, said, "I REALLY want that Lego set.  You know, the one that is $300.  But, I know it is a lot of money and I don't think it will happen. I don't want to pray about it and it not happen."

Now, one might think he was acting in manipulation with the tears and pleas for the Lego set. However, I know my son and this was no act.  Besides all that doesn't work with me and he knows it.  $300 is still $300.

I understood my son's hesitancy.  How many times have I thought the same...What if I pray about it and it doesn't happen?  I don't want to pray about it and it not happen.  Isn't it better if I just don't pray about it then?  

Guilty.

I shared Psalm 37:4 with my son..."Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart."

However, this verse, requires an explanation, which I also willingly expounded.

The beautiful part about this verse is that when we are truly delighting ourselves in the Lord, the desires of our heart will line up with the Lord's desires.  Our will becomes His will as we are in His Word and delighting ourselves in Him.

When we are not delighting ourselves in the Lord, often our desires are very self centered and can become idols.  When our desires are bordering on idols, we can be certain the Lord will not grant that request.  His answer will be a loving "no" every time.  A baby might want to play with a rattle snake awfully bad, however, a loving mother won't give it to him!  She knows it will hurt him!

As our hearts change and line up with His, then the Lord does give us the desires of our hearts.  He can because as our hearts line up, our desires also will line up.  We may find the desires we once had have faded away and been replaced with new.

As I was writing Psalm 37:4, the word "also" caught my eye and I was curious about what the first part said.

I found the answer in the verse above.  Together, they read like this...

"Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart."  Psalms 37:3-4 [emphasis added]

Trust in the Lord. 

When we are trusting in the Lord, we are confident that He has our best interests at heart.  Even when we don't see the answer right away.

Even in the struggle, will you delight yourself in Him?  Even in the struggle, will you trust in the Lord?  Will you trust that He is faithful?  Will you continue to "do good" and love others even in the midst of being Lego-less?

His answer is coming.  He is never late.  He is always faithful.

When we don't pray because we are afraid it won't happen, we are really saying, "God, I don't trust you."  A better stance is to pray with the posture...God, I really want this, but You Lord know what is best and I trust you.  

When you are trusting in the Lord and your heart is in line with the Lord's, you can be certain that your requests are heard and will come to pass if it is best.  God always wants His best for His children, just as we want what is best for ours.

From something as small as Legos to as big as matters of life, God hears your every cry.  He is faithful.  Trust in Him.  Delight yourself in Him.  He will give you the desires of your heart.























Thursday, February 5, 2015

My Word for 2015

For the past few years, I have been asking the Lord for a word to represent each new year.  I first heard of this through being involved with Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies (which ROCK, by the way!).

In 2013, the Lord gave me the word Newness.  And BOY! Did that ever describe 2013!  The following posts share a little of how the Lord brought newness that year...

http://www.livingfreeinhim.blogspot.com/2013/11/god-what-are-you-doing.html

http://www.livingfreeinhim.blogspot.com/2014/01/continued-newness.html

In 2014, the Lord gave me the word Boldness.  In many way, I have seen the Lord manifest more boldness in me over the past year, which I may share at another time.

In December, I began to ask the Lord for a word for 2015.  Almost immediately, I heard the word, "Light".

At first, I thought this meant simply the Lord wanted me to be more of a light and shine more of His light.  However, over the past few weeks, I feel there is more to this word than I initially sensed.

Light can be used in many ways.  In fact, Merriam-Webster has fifteen different definitions for the word light!  But, I am less interested in Webster and more interested in the Creator of Webster for defining light.

The Lord uses the word "light" in many ways in His Word.

One way the Lord uses the word "light" is to contrast the darkness.  Darkness is...well...dark.  In the darkness, it is hard to see.  In the darkness, we stumble.  In the darkness, we are blind.

"If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice truth.  But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His son cleanses us form all sin."  1 John 1:6-7

To walk in darkness is to walk in continuous habitual sin, or keep sin hidden from God.  Please don't misunderstand.  We cannot hide our sin from God.  God knows about it already.  However, there are times that perhaps we, like Adam, try to cover up our sin with leaves and pretend there is nothing wrong (Gen 3:8).  

The good news is though that if we walk in the light, that is if we stop a habitual sin and then confess it to the Lord, then we can again have fellowship with Him and others.  It is hard to have real fellowship with other believers when one is hiding under leaves.

I don't think I was living in habitual sin, but as I mentioned in Shoot the Foxes, the foxes of compromise are sneaky and can creep in gradually.  I want light to illuminate any foxes I might need to shoot.

"He reveals the deep things of darkness and brings utter darkness into the light." Job 12:22

There are things hidden in the deep.  The Lord spoke to me one time about the things hidden in the deep places.  He took me visually down into the depths of the ocean where there are creatures lurking that cannot be seen from the surface.  There are living forces in the depths that are unknown to us.
They are unknown because they are in the dark and cannot be seen unless special equipment is used. They are unreachable due to their depths.  Even though cannot see them, they still effect the total ecosystem and the surface we can see.

Inside our depths are things that are hiding.  We cannot see them, but they effect the things on the surface.  We are unable to get to those deep places.  In fact, it is safe for us to go there.  But, the Lord can.  He reveals the hidden things kept in darkness and brings them into the light.

He reveals not to condemn, but to restore.  

"For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made his light shine in our hearts to give the light of knowledge of God's glory displayed in the face of Christ." 2 Cor 4:6

When we asked Jesus to be Lord of our life and invited Him into our heart, His light was implanted in us.  We don't have to strive to get His light.  We don't have to confess we are the light so many times a day.  We don't have to muster up faith to believe we are a light.  We just need to stay plugged into the Light source for His light to shine through us.  Just abide in Him.

The Lord usually surprises me and has much more in store than I can know.  For now, though, I  think the word "light" for me this year partly means:

 1.  The Lord is going to take me deeper in Him and reveal even more things hidden and bring them into the light and restore. 

2.  The Lord is going to help me be more of a light to others. (Please Lord!)

If you haven't asked the Lord for a word for 2015, it is not too late!!  I encourage you to get alone with Him and your journal and ask.  He has a plan and a journey for you this year that you don't want to miss!

Additional verses:

"The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. "John 1:9

"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." John 1:5

"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light."  Eph 5:8


Reflection questions:

1. What does it mean to you to walk in darkness?

2. Are you willing to go deeper with the Lord this year?  Are you afraid of the deep? Do you believe the Lord can restore?















 
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