Climbing the Mountain of Discouragement

mOUNTAIN

It’s been a while…but I’m still here.  I’ve been discouraged.  Do you ever get that way?  In the midst of living life and doing God’s work, there are things that just bring discouragement.  I’m there.  It’s not just one thing, but more like a host of things.  I know God is still good and He is faithful.  I don’t doubt that, but in the midst of the outside forces pushing in around me, I get discouraged.  Like most of you have probably experienced, our Christian walk is full of mountains and valleys and the roads in between.  I feel like I’m on that road in between.  I’m not in a dark valley, where I have been before, feeling hopeless and defeated.  I’m not on a mountain top where I feel like I’m basking in the presence of my Savior and no one can touch me.  I’m in between.  I’m on the road heading up the mountain and I’m tired and the top just seems so far away.  Ever been there?

God has been doing some amazing things in my life and giving me opportunities to stand for Him.  I’ve been given speaking opportunities and chances to gather with other believers and stand for our freedoms.  On those days, I feel like I’m on the mountain top; mostly.  I’ve found though, that when you are doing what you are called to do and being obedient to Christ, it comes at a cost.  The cost is a target on your back.  We have a real enemy in this world and he knows his time is short.  And because his time is short, he is aiming for the biggest threats to his agenda.  So if you want to be left alone, continue doing nothing.  If you are like me and you also see that time is short and you are not willing to go down without a fight-get ready!

Discouragement comes from so many different places but I will lump them into three categories.  These are the places that seem to be getting to me.  First is the world.  That includes the world as a whole, our country, our leaders, people in society; basically those outside of your personal realm.  Then there is relationships.  This is the sphere of people that have a direct influence on you and your everyday life.  Lastly, would be circumstances.  Those would just be those things that happen to you and are usually out of your control.

So first, I want to talk about the world.  Holy cow!  What a mess we are in!  It is nearly impossible to turn on your TV, radio, or social media and not be bombarded by the depravity of the world.  It’s downright depressing.  Besides the all out war to see who can be the most corrupt, there seems to be very few sources that are reliable, and don’t have an agenda, to get the truth from.  There is always two sides (or more) to every story, but it seems that what we hear is very one sided and very, very wrong.

2 Peter 3:3 says, “First of all, you must understand in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.”

Boy does it ever feel like as a Christian, people are constantly scoffing at us?  It’s everywhere!

“…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.” Phil. 4:8.

Really?  Seriously?  Where are these things in our world?  People in our society don’t even seem to know what these words are, let alone how to live them out or think about them.  And there in the world lies my discouragement…

Then there is relationships.  We all have those people in our lives that have the gift of discouragement.  The funny thing is, they don’t even seem to realize it.  They can be friends, relatives, coworkers, even fellow church members, but these are the people you can’t get away from.  They may even be well meaning in their actions, yet still manage to bring uninvited discouragement.  When I was thinking about this the other day, I was trying to think about Jesus and what He did in those situations.  Two came to mind.  The first is in Mark 3.  Jesus was in full swing in His ministry.  The crowds were constantly following Him and He didn’t seem to have a moment’s peace.

“When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind.'” vs. 21

I’m sure they had the best of intentions.  They truly thought that He needed their help and they went to provide it-uninvited and unrequested, I might add, non-the-less.

This is how Jesus responded, “A crowd was sitting around him and they told him, ‘Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.’  ‘Who are my mother and brothers?’ he asked.  Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers!  Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.'” vs. 32-34

Sometimes you just have to look around and see who is really on your side, let them in close, and keep the rest outside.

The other story that came to mind was Jesus and His relationship with Peter.  Peter was a good guy, but boy was he ever putting his foot in his mouth.  Again, he had good intentions.  He was one of Jesus’ chosen disciples, after all, but old habits die hard and Satan was still able to use him on occasion.  It happens to the best of us.  On one particular occasion in Matt. 16, Jesus was explaining to the disciples that He was going to suffer and die and on the third day be raised from the dead.  This obviously did not sit well with Peter.

“Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.  ‘Never, Lord!’ he said. ‘This shall never happen to you!’  Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan!  You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.'” vs. 22-23

Peter did not realize the words he was saying were a “stumbling block” to Jesus.  Like Jesus, there are so many times those closest to me say things that make me want to say, “Get behind me, Satan!”  And there is where relationships cause my discouragement…

Finally, circumstances.  As the world turns, life goes on and things happen.  When things start happening out of our control and start piling up, it leads to discouragement.  What I have found is that it doesn’t have to be big things.  Most of the time, it’s not big things for me.  It is the everyday busyness, stress, messy house, lack of sleep, running on empty that gets me discouraged.  It’s in the tenth time of telling my kids to pick up their mess.  It’s in the argument I have with my husband, where we can’t seem to find common ground.  It’s in the things at work that just don’t seem to be going as planned.  In the midst of those things, it’s hard to see the good.  It’s hard to remember John 16:33,

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may find peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”

And that is why in the midst of circumstances I find discouragement…

Though I’m in a time of discouragement, I know I won’t stay there.  God has work for me to do and I will do it, because that is what He called me to do.  I will still have bad days and tough relationships.  It comes with the territory.

Matt. 5:11-12 NLT says, “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers.  Be happy about it!  Be very glad!  For a great reward awaits you in heaven.  And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.”

So, I will lift my head, pull up my big girl panties, and put a smile on my face, because “If God is for me, who can be against me?” Rom. 8:31  If you are there too, climbing the mountain of discouragement, will you join me?  Keep pressing on.  Keep fighting the good fight.  Keep looking up, because our redemption draws near!  Even so, come Lord Jesus, come!

Blessings in the Battle!

Warning! Are You Ready for September?

Today’s blog will be different…

Today’s blog is difficult for me to write…

Today’s blog is difficult to read…

Today’s blog is a warning…

But please hear me out…

cross

 

Last Saturday, I had a conversation with a friend about what was to transpire in September.  Some of you may be aware of the events that are set to take place next month, but some of you may not.  It piqued my interest and forced me to do some digging and research.  After a week of investigation, I want to share some of my findings, but I challenge you to do some exploring of your own.  The resources are endless.  I have included some links, but there are many more out there.

 

In our lifetime, there has never been a series of events that are historically, scientifically, and biblically connected like the events that are set to unfold in September of 2015.

Biblical/Historical Significance:

September 13, 2015 is the once every-seven-years biblical day of reckoning on the Jewish calendar when all debts and credits are wiped clean. “Shemitah as it is called, is the Sabbatical year, which occurs every seventh year.  Shemitah is “Shabbat” (the Sabbath) for the land of Israel; the land “rests” in a fashion, similar to the way the Jewish people rest every seventh day (Leviticus 25:4).”

While observing Shemitah guarantees abundant produce, neglecting it leads to judgment.  Jeremiah foretold that the Jewish people would be exiled for not keeping Shemitah by not allowing the land to rest (Jeremiah 17:4).  When the Jewish people violated the law of Shemitah, God exiled them for seventy years until the land “enjoyed her Sabbaths” (2 Chronicles 36:19-21).

Jewish tradition teaches that exile is the penalty for the three cardinal sins of murder, idolatry, and sexual immorality, and for neglecting to keep the laws of Shemitah!  Our country is guilty on all accounts.  On the last two final days of Shemitah, the exact same biblical “day of remission,” which is Elul 29 on the Hebrew calendar, there have been record stock market collapses.  Our stock market is currently on a path leading to another collapse of historical proportions, along with numerous other countries’ markets around the world.

2001 was a Shemitah year.  There was the dot com crash of 2001. On September 11, 2001, we were attacked on American soil by terrorists.  When the stock market reopened on 9/17/01 it lost 684 points in one day.

2008 was a Shemitah year.  On September 29, 2008, the stock market collapsed 777 points after nearly a year of economic collapse.

Jonathan Cahn Message of the Shemitah

September 28, 2015 is also the appearance of the final of the Four Blood Moons that align with the Feasts of the Lord within this century. There have been three Tetrads, or series of four consecutive Blood Moons with a total solar eclipse occurring somewhere in the sequence, that are tied to Jewish history.  Each time the four Blood Moons appeared on the exact days of Passover and Feast of Tabernacles on the consecutive years.

 

The first Tetrad of Blood Moons was in 1493-94.

In 1492, the Jews were banished from Spain when they refused to convert to Catholicism.  Christopher Columbus sailed to America and found a safe place for the Jews.  “The expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 was a world-changing moment.  The mantle of prosperity was lifted from Spain and placed upon the shoulders of an infant nation that would become the United States of America.  God almighty used the Four Blood Moons of 1493-94 as a heavenly billboard to mankind.”

 

The second Tetrad of Blood Moons was 1949-1950.

In 1948, Israel was once again declared a nation.  The Land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people, so this was a truly significant time for Israel and the Jews.  The first permanent Israeli government took office on January 25, 1949.  During the next several months, several truce agreements were signed and the borders were established.  It was during this time that the second series of Blood Moons occurred.

 

The third Tetrad occurred from 1967-68.

After years of wars, following their statehood, things came to a head in 1967 when the Arab nations united to come against Israel.  In the Six-Day War that ensued, Israel was blessed by the hand of God and after a series of miraculous triumphs, they won the war.  Jerusalem was finally reunited with the Jewish people for the first time in nearly nineteen hundred years.

 

We are currently in the midst of the fourth Tetrad of Blood moons occurring from 2014-15, with the final Blood Moon appearing on September 28th.

  1. Passover, April 15, 2014
  2. Feast of Tabernacles, October 8, 2014
  3. Passover, April 4, 2015
  4. Feast of Tabernacles, September 28, 2015

John Hagee-Four Blood Moons

The Jewish Jubilee year starts on Yom Kippur/Day of Atonement, which begins September 23rd at sundown into September 24th.  A Jubilee year historically means blessing for those who are humble and repentant and are seeking to hear and obey the Holy Spirit, but is also judgment for those who are unrepentant for their sins.  A Jubilee year happens at the end of seven sets of seven years or every 49 years, with the last beginning in 1967, the year of the Six-Day War, making 2015 the start of the next Jubilee year.

Jubilee Year 2015

Current Events:

September 17th is the deadline for Congress to approve the Iranian nuclear deal.

September 23rd Pope Francis, the 266th pope, is to meet with President Obama, on the 266th day of the year.

September 24th the Pope will address a joint session of Congress.

September 25th The Pope will be the keynote speaker at the UN in New York.  He is expected to endorse the UN’s new global agenda titled “Transforming Our World: 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”  The Pope has already called for a global government to fight climate change and poverty.

I must admit, I don’t know exactly what all this means, but I do know that it is a warning. Why?  Because, historically God has given warnings to His people before the coming of a great trial or disaster.  He also says we will not know the day or the hour of His return, but we are to watch for the signs (Matt. 24:33,36).  I’m not saying that Christ is returning in September and I’m not saying He is not.  Even the Son does not know.  What I am saying is these are the facts.  I don’t think it is by accident that He is lining things up in this way or that He is revealing it to so many.  I believe we may be headed into a time of great trials.  There is no end to the possibilities of the repercussions of these events that are about to take place.  We could see terrorist attacks, natural disasters, economic collapse, or all of the above…or we could see Christ in the clouds calling His children home. Either way, the message is this…all that matters is where you stand with Jesus Christ.

Look UP

JESUS IS THE ONLY ANSWER AND THE ONLY SALVATION!

No matter what September brings…Christ is coming…soon! So Look Up!  I’m ready!  Are you?

Battle Cry! It’s Time Christians!

Statue of liberty

Several weeks ago, I had a life changing experience.  It was the first step in many to come.  God shook me to the core and called me to action.  I can’t even tell you what it entails yet or what it is going to look like, but He spoke and I must obey.  I will give you a glimpse of how He moved that night.  He would not let me rest, so at 1 am I got up and I wrote it down.  I had not read what I had written until just minutes ago, but it is profound for me.  Sometimes I have the privilege of sitting at this computer and letting God write the words with really no recollection or input of my own, it seems. This was one of those times…and this is what I wrote…

 

Tonight, I watched the movie “Fury.”  It was about a tank crew in Nazi Germany, in World War II.  It was a very gruesome, violent movie.  It was full of blood and gore and profanity.  I don’t enjoy these kinds of movies, but the reality of the events really stirred something in me.  As I crawled in bed, I cried out to God.  I didn’t know what else to do.

The questions I have for Him are endless.  Why have you not stopped the violence?  How can you look around and see all that is going on and not just wipe us out?  My heart hurts as I look around and see the atrocities that are taking place all around the world.  Why have you not sent Your Son to stop all of this?  Why have You not come back?  Deep in my soul, the answer came…”For the one.  I am not willing that any should perish.” The answer is, we as Christians have not done what we are called to do.  I am talking to myself.  Maybe I’m talking to you, but we Christians, as a whole, have not gone into all the world and preached the gospel.  We have not searched for the lost souls that are wondering aimlessly, with no hope and introduced them to the Savior of the world.  Our job is not getting done…and so He waits.  My heart longs for His return, so that my children do not have to suffer the things to come.

Around the world people are dying daily for their faith, as the world turns away and pretends they don’t see.  Babies are being ripped from their mothers’ wombs and sold for their parts under the guise of freedom of choice, while a man is being threatened for his life for killing a famous lion.  Laws are being passed that allow men to enter women’s restrooms, to protect a few from offense, while many others’ safety is being threatened.  The Biblical standard by which all marriage is based has been cast aside for the perverted pleasure of some, while the masses will suffer in the aftermath of the ruling.  It’s a sick, twisted; upside down world we are living in.  Lies have become truth to so many, and Truth has become bigotry.  There is no longer absolute Truth, but what each individual declares as their own truth.  If our truth is not God’s Truth, then it’s a lie!  We have no authority to change the absolute Truth of God’s Word.  We have no authority to make laws that are contradictory to what His Word teaches or says.  Lawmakers may think they have the power to overrule what the Bible says, but they do not have the authority, and when they choose to take their power and abuse it in such a way…there will be consequences.  A time is coming very soon in our nation, where every person will feel the effects of a small number of people who chose to go against God and His laws and make their own.  His hand of protection and blessing will be removed, and we will suffer.  Around the world others are already facing it.  Why do we think we are immune?

We have a president and people in power who think that they can redefine our national heritage and delete the history of our nation.  They are leading our children like sheep to slaughter and indoctrinating them with lies in our schools.  We feel powerless to do anything to stop the corruption.  We rant and we complain.  We hate the things we see happening.  We shake our heads and disagree with those who have chosen this path, yet we do nothing to change the course of what is happening.

It’s time we take this country back!  It’s time we strip those in power, of their power, and appoint people with values and common sense.  It’s time we stand on their porches and pound on their doors and make them lose sleep over the decisions they are making.  It’s time that we make our voices heard, not just on our computers, but in their faces.  It’s time we drop to our knees and ask God to forgive all of us for our part in the mess we are in, because we are all guilty.  We are guilty of turning the other way instead of standing for what is right.  We are guilty of being passive and keeping our mouths shut instead of speaking out against the injustices and wrongs.  We are guilty of electing people into office who have no business being there, because we are afraid to put ourselves into those positions.  Father forgive us for our apathy as we allowed our nation to fall further and further from You and now cry out because it is a mess!

 

I must confess, this scares me to death!  These words are bold and abrasive, but true, non the less.  “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and of a sound mind.  Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our LORD…” 2 Timothy 1:7-8a.  So, I will be bold and I will obey and I’ll let God take care of the rest.  How about you?  What is God calling you to do?

Praying Your Journey

Prayer ONe

I recently had a conversation with a group of teen girls who said that they have a hard time focusing when they pray.  They begin praying and then their minds take them off on rabbit trails.  I can so relate to that problem.  My mind has a mind of it’s own, and rarely are they going the same place.  It can be extremely frustrating to begin praying and ten minute later come back to your senses and realize that your prayer took an unexpected turn about ten seconds in, and you’ve traveled through a ten year time span of memories and thoughts in the ten minutes your mind was wondering, and non of it had anything to do with the prayer you started with.  Phew!  That wore me out just typing it!  Often that’s how I feel when I pray…completely exhausted and unattached from praying in run-on sentences.

Since becoming a Christian back in 2001, I have kept a journal.  I’m not consistent, but I wish I was.  I enjoy going back and reading the past journal entries, even if sometimes they are difficult to read.  But the most meaningful entries, are the ones where I cry out to God.  They aren’t just posts about what I did that day, but the cries of my heart to God.  Often times, I have forgotten what I had been praying about at a particular time in my life, but when I read through my journal it is so evident how God walked me through those times.  I see answered prayers and threads of things I still struggle with, but see that God has made improvements.

“Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me.  I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue.  If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer.  Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me.”  Ps. 66:16-20

Journaling has been the single most important way for me to track my relationship with Christ.  It keeps me focused when I’m praying, because I am writing my prayers down.  It also gives me a record of God’s goodness and faithfulness through the different times and trials of life.  Rereading the entries gives me a chance to thank God for the many answered prayers that I have taken for granted.  Because our prayers are often not answered in the time frame we expect or the way we desire, I have found that the journaling of my prayers helps me see the hand of God more clearly at work in my life.

“I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.  Because He turned His ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.”  Ps. 116:1-2

Back in 2006, I began a journey.  I was given the book “David” in the “Personal Reflection Series,” by Beth Moore.  It started me on a path I did not expect.  The study really spoke to me.  It wasn’t just Beth’s personal insight into the life of David, but it was my personal reflection throughout that was specifically impacting for me.  At the end of each day’s lesson, Beth has you write a prayer about the topic of that day.  She begins the prayer with some scripture and you are to finish it.  I wrote daily from the cries of my heart, but it wasn’t until later, when I reread those verses that I truly saw the value of them and the power of God at work in me.  I have since done the “Paul” and currently the “John” studies by Beth Moore.  It is still the power of the prayers that have moved me to share this.

When I began my blog, I had a tab included Prayer Journal.  It has been on my heart to share some of these prayers with you.  I have shared them personally with a few people and the feedback was very positive.  I’m hoping that you will be inspired by the words God placed on my heart and that you too may start a prayer journal of your own.  I’m hoping to make this a regular part of my postings here at “Groomed by God,” so please let me know what you think.  If these posts help you or inspire you, I’d love to hear about it!  As I bear my heart, I hope it touches yours.

Today’s prayer is still significant to me in this time of my life, even though it was written nearly 8 years ago. As I seek to serve in ministry as God calls me, I don’t exactly know what it looks like, but I want to get rid of anything that would hinder me from following where He leads.  Maybe you can relate, so pray with me…

“Lord, give me things to accomplish for You, and allow me to “put-off” those things that are hindering me and making progress for Satan and not Your Kingdom.  Help me to recognize the things in my life that are stumbling blocks and that keep me from growing in You.  Purge those things for good and keep me from returning to them.  Give me Your strength and Your will to accomplish what You have planned for me and those that I love.  In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.”

Praying God gives you good works to accomplish today and that you too may be inspired to write them down!

5 Reasons Having Kids in 4-H is Like Childbirth

Sorry it has been a while since I have posted a blog.  The last few weeks have been pretty busy.  Continue reading to see why.  Friday was the last day of the 2015 4-H Fair for our county.  For any of you 4-H parents maybe you can relate when I say that having kids in 4-H is like childbirth.  It’s not very pretty, but worth it in the end.  Here are 5 reasons why…

1.  It sounds like a good idea at the time.  Just like deciding to have a baby, signing your kids up for 4-H sounds like a good idea.  Lots of people do it.  How hard can it be?  “It will be a great experience,” they say.  It teaches responsibility and new skills.

When we started the 4-H adventure five years ago, it seemed like a good idea.  I had been in 4-H a few years and my husband was a 9 year member.  It only seemed natural that our kids would be in 4-H as well.  We signed up for several livestock and non-livestock projects.  It presented itself as a great way to teach responsibility and for our daughters to learn some new skills.  Little did I know that there was way more to it than that.  4-H Fair isn’t just a week in July, it’s a way of life.

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2.  No matter how prepared you think you are, you have no idea what you are getting yourself into.  You must learn to expect the unexpected and know that no matter how well you think you have prepared, you are never really prepared for what’s to come.  There’s so much more to it than you could ever imagine.

I had no idea that I was not just signing my child up for a few projects, but was signing away a good portion of our lives.  It was so much more time consuming than I had imagined, not just for my kids, but for me as well.  There were forms on top of forms, papers, log books, registrations, meetings, picture taking, receipt collecting, supply buying, pre-fair judging, and a week off of work to attend all of the shows they were involved in.  It was six months of prep for one week of shows and a whole lot more work than I had planned.

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3.  It brings out homicidal tendencies that aren’t usually present.  As in childbirth, anyone and everyone who has a part in the process is fair game for your psychotic behavior.  The desire to hurt anyone in your path is extremely high, including the child and the husband.  Somehow, all rational thinking goes out the window.

Oh how I hate to admit it, but the fair brings out the worst in me.  Keeping track of multiple deadlines, staying on the kids to complete their books, turning in their paperwork, registering online, working with their animals, and packing everything for fair is a daunting task.  Then there is fair week…being at the fair early to feed all the animals, getting ready for shows, staying late to get feeding done, loading and unloading animals, and attending the extra events makes for really long days, even shorter nights, and very short fuses.  Come show day, it’s all I can do not to completely lose it on my children.  I can never find them when it’s time to get ready for the show.  They always seem to forget something they need.  The animals seem to realize it is show day and choose to act up, just for fun.  Emotions run high and my children get the brunt of my stress overload.  At the end of the day, I regret how I acted, but unfortunately it’s too late to undo the mess I made, let alone the impression I made on everyone who witnessed my psychotic breakdowns.  Ugh!!!  You think I would learn!

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4.  You have forgotten since the last time just how painful the process is.  Even though in the midst of the process you swear you will never do it again, somehow you forget by the next time around and find yourself in the same predicament all over again.

Every year, in the midst of the 4-H process, I swear that the next year we will not do it again.  I tell the girls they can’t do X,Y, and Z projects because I am tired of having to stay on them to get things done.  They procrastinate every year and there is always last minute running around trying to get things done and turned in on time.  I get beyond frustrated after constant reminding that things need to be done and their broken promises that this year will be different and they will get things done early.  It never happens, but somehow, the next year, registration rolls around and here we are again signing up for multiple projects.  I must be a glutton for punishment!

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5.  In the end, you find it was all worth it when you look into the face of your child.  Just as you looked into that newborn baby’s face, you look into the face of your child who just finished well in a 4-H project and know that you would do it all over again just to see that face and feel that pride.  There’s something about the love of a parent for their child that makes all of it worth it.

At then end of the day, when my kids have done their best and they smile with pride at a job well done, I can’t help but be glad that I went through all of that mess, just to see them smile.  I beam with pride at my child, knowing all that went into getting them to that point.  The ribbons and plaques are great, but the, “Thanks Mom!” is the best prize ever!

So when registration rolls around next year, I wonder what we will sign up for?  It’s always an adventure.  Hopefully, I will learn from all the years before and just try to relax and enjoy the ride.  In the end, it’s my kids that matter.  It’s about encouraging them to do their best and supporting them as they work to achieve it.  When my kids are grown and gone, I will look back on these years and I don’t want to look back with regret, but with fond memories.  So if you see me at the fair next year, hopefully I’ll be smiling, if not, tell me to, “Relax and enjoy the ride.”  I may want to knock your head off, but at least it will make me stop and think! 🙂

 

DISCLAIMER:  Sorry there is no spiritual content to this post.  It was meant to be a humorous look at the life of a fair mom.  No children, animals, or others were hurt during this week at the fair. 🙂

Getting Off the Hamster Wheel

Do you ever feel like a hamster running on a wheel, running as fast as you can, but never getting anywhere?  In today’s fast paced world, you would be an oddity if you said, “No.”  I’ve been feeling this way for quite some time now.  I look at my schedule and shake my head.  There doesn’t seem to be any open spots for anything, but I look at what I have to do and there just doesn’t seem to be anywhere to cut.  It’s not that anything that I’m doing or have scheduled is frivolous or a waste of time.  They are all things that need to be done, so I keep on running.

However last Tuesday, I finally hit a wall.  You see, for the last year, we have hosted an exchange student from Germany, Tessa.  It has been a wonderful experience and she became my third daughter.  On Monday, she left to return home to Germany.  The week before we went camping for the week to spend some quality family time together before she left, without all of the distractions of home and everyday life.  It was a wonderful week, except for the constantly reoccurring thunderstorms.  But as anyone who camps knows, preparing for the trip and unpacking after the trip are both a lot of work!  We returned home on Friday evening in yet another thunderstorm, so most things were left in the camper until we could unload in dryer weather.  Saturday was a whirlwind.  We had to unpack, do laundry, make food for a carry-in after church on Sunday, and did I mention I was having an open house for our exchange student after the carry-in and I had to go set up and decorate.  Also, in the mix of the day, I had to go to the post office to pick up a package from Tessa’s mom before the post office closed and go get groceries to restock the fridge and pantry after being gone for a week!  Needless to say, I was burning the candle at both ends.  Sunday consisted of a day of church, the carry-in, open house and then finishing packing Tessa for her trip home, with lots of goodbye’s all day long.  It was a late night getting her ready to go and an early morning the next day taking her to the airport and sending her off.  It was exhausting emotionally and physically.

This brings me back to last Tuesday, when I finally crashed.  I cannot remember the last time I purposely scheduled myself a day off with nothing to do and Tuesday was no exception.  I had an appointment that I needed to go to, but had failed to write the time down on my grooming calendar, so I didn’t schedule any grooming appointments for the day.  When I checked the time, it wasn’t until 4pm.  God works in mysterious ways.  He knew I needed to rest.  I was physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted.  I ended up cancelling my appointment and vegged out all day long.  Usually, I would feel guilty for sleeping in and then curling up on the couch with a good book for the day, but that day I felt no twinge of guilt.  God had called me to a day of rest.  He had orchestrated it, because He knew in my humanness, I wouldn’t have done it for myself.  I needed that day of rest more than anything.

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” Ps. 91:1

I wrote all of this long story to say: God calls us into times of rest.  Sometimes we just need to take a break.  Even God rested on the seventh day after creating the world and all that is in it. Genesis 2:2-3 Why do we allow society to feed us the lie that we don’t have time to rest, because there is too much to do to take a break? It’s simple really.  We have an adversary that knows if he can keep us running, he will wear us out and we won’t have the energy to do the work God has for us.  When we are worn out and tired from a life of stress and busyness, we are much less effective at serving God.  I believe God was speaking to me loud and clear on Tuesday, when He told me to rest.  Matthew 11:28 came to mind that day.  “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

So, if you’re like me and you have been running on the crazy hamster wheel of life, maybe it’s time to take a rest.  You will be far more productive in your walk with Christ if you do.  Your time of rest may not look like mine.  Maybe yours is longer than a day.  Extroverts may need to recharge with others, where introverts, like me, need to be alone.  It doesn’t really matter what it looks like, it’s just important to take time to recharge.  If your batteries are on empty, God can’t use you to your fullest potential.  He desires so much more for you than a life running on empty.  So, take time to rest and see what great things He has for you!

Resting in Him,

Lorissa

Developing Hunger for the Word

This week I found some old journal entries and was amazed at how relevant they still were to my present situation, so I decided I would share one…

8-20-07

Recently, I have earnestly sought to know God better.  This has included knowing His will for my life, spending more time in God’s Word, and praying for a new closeness to God.  God has blessed me immensely just for asking.  I am amazed at the things He has revealed to me in such a short time.  I am grieved at the time I’ve wasted by not asking earlier.  Since becoming a Christian in my adulthood, I’ve often looked at other new believers that were on fire to learn more about God and mature believers who seem to have an open, direct line of communication with God.  I was always jealous and yearned for that spark they had.  It was as if God had given them something that I hadn’t had the honor of being privy to. 

What was it that had given other believers this one-on-one connection to God that I so desperately desired to have?  In the not so distant past, I believe I stumbled upon the answer to that question.  What I found was that it had been there the whole time!  I just had not earnestly sought to find that relationship.  I read the Bible because that’s what Christians are supposed to do, but as I read, nothing seemed to make much of an impact.  I would find myself going longer and longer periods without reading because I just wasn’t getting into it.  It was another thing on my “to do” list and it seemed to be the easiest thing to eliminate on a busy day.  It wasn’t that I didn’t want to enjoy it.  I saw other people with an insatiable hunger for the Word, that were being fed by reading it, but I just wasn’t. 

Then a friend bought me a book for my birthday.  It was a study on David by Beth Moore and I made a conscious effort to do the study.  It required me to answer some personal questions and write a prayer.  I found that I really enjoyed the study and I was getting something out of it.  Though at first, I was not consistent, the more I did it, the more I looked forward to it.  After doing the study for a while, I started looking back at the things I had written. I discovered something amazing.  It was that connection that I had been looking for and thought that I didn’t have.  It was right there in my prayers.  I could see the desires of my heart and now looking back, I see the answers that God had given.  If not for being recorded in that book, I may have taken for granted all the answered prayers.  I wouldn’t have remembered what I had talked to God about.  Therefore, I wouldn’t have been able to see how He had carefully taken the time to respond to each one.  It was totally amazing!  Right there, in that book, as if God had taken the pen from my hand, He had written in my prayers what He desired for me, the person He wanted me to be, and what He wanted me to do. 

Those prayers ignited that fire that I had so longed to have and envied in other Christians.  It gave me a hunger to know God more and spend more time with Him.  It also has given me the desire to share what I’ve learned with those around me.  I want to shout from the mountain tops “Look what I’ve found!  come and see!”  I’ve started reading God’s Word and getting it.  I look forward to what He has to show me and teach me.  I’ve seen how He puts what He wants to teach me in His Word and then shows me the same thing in the world around me to reiterated what it is that He is teaching me.  It’s awesome to see Him everywhere and know that He sees me right where I am and will gladly meet me there if I just ask.

Even though this journal entry was nearly 8 years ago, I still see God’s sovereign hand in it.  He has not changed, even though I have.  There are still dry times when I get busy and don’t make study a priority, but in the fruitful times, this journal entry is so true!  The farther along I go in my faith journey, the fewer dry times I have.  I see God’s hand more and more everyday.  

So if you are struggling to find that spark, find a study that speaks to you.  It may be the boost you need to start a closer, more intimate walk with God.  You will be amazed at how He will speak to you and reveal more and more to you everyday!  Journaling will help you see God working in your life, as you go back and review the answers to prayers.  It’s always a faith boost when you can see His hand at work!

Matthew 7:7-8, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

I will close with a prayer written in my book on the study of David…

Lord, open my heart and reveal those things in me that keep me from hearing Your voice and tapping into Your power.  Show me the areas of my life that I need to recognize and change, so that I may freely communicate with You.  When I am in those dry spells, please give me the still, soft reminders I need to reconnect on the intimate level I so desire to be with You.  In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Still Seeking,

Lorissa

The God of Little Things

Last week, I was reminded of God’s faithfulness in the little things.  Often times, we think that God is too busy for the small details of our lives.  We feel silly or like we shouldn’t pray for those little things that only matter to us.  I used to think that way, but God has shown me over and over that He cares about every detail of our lives, and sometimes we miss out because we are too afraid to go to Him about things we think are insignificant.  In Matthew 10:29-31 says, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.  And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”  Our God is in the details, because He made the details. We just have to look around to see it.

My husband has been gone for over two weeks on a trip for work, so my life has been a little busy, to say the least, trying to keep up with everything going on at home.  Tuesday evening, I was in the middle of one of my trips running kids to different activities and noticed that one of my diamond earrings was missing.  I never take these earrings out and a little twinge of panic came over me.  I instantly began to retrace my steps of the day in my mind and tried to remember the last time I knew I had it in.  These earrings have sentimental value to me that means more than the monetary value, which made it even more heartbreaking that I had lost one.  You see, my husband is wonderful in so many ways, but romantic gestures and gift giving is not one of his strong suits.  He is also very frugal and doesn’t like to spend money on unnecessary things.  So, when I received these earrings as a gift from him to celebrate an important honor in my life, I was thrilled.  I was so touched that he had gone through the trouble to get me something so meaningful to commemorate a special occasion; without me telling him or giving any hints, I might add!  All that to say, I had to find this earring!

All week long I searched.  I looked in every possible place I could remember being in the days before I recognized it was missing.  I searched parking lots. I searched vehicles.  I searched businesses.  I searched the house, the shower, the closet, the garage…you name it, I searched it.  Days had passed and I prayed every time I would search for it.  I prayed whenever it crossed my mind.  My husband would be home in a few days and I prayed with all my heart that I would find it before he returned, so that I wouldn’t have to tell him I had lost it.

One evening I was taking a shower and again praying about my earring.  I was searching the drain one more time, just to be sure and I was reminded of a conversation I had had with some friends earlier in the week.  We had been talking about how so often God calls His people to remember in the Bible.  He had people build alters to remember what He had done.  He would tell His people to remember the times of His faithfulness.  We talked of how Moses reminded God of His promises.  And so, I began to remember and was reminded of two specific times that God was faithful to hear and answer my prayers for something small and insignificant to the world, but very important to me.

The first instance was several years ago when my oldest daughter was about five.  We had gone to Disney World that year and she had gotten a pair of Tinker Bell earrings.  They were her prized possession.  She loved Tinker Bell and it was her favorite souvenir.  She wore them constantly.  We had gone to my brother and sister-in-law’s house for a family gathering.  My parents live next door and my dad had made a train out of old plastic barrels and pulled them behind the four wheeler.  They rode that train all day long.  Shortly before we left, Hally came to me in tears of panic.  One of her prized earrings was gone.  She had lost it somewhere that day and could not be consoled.  The search began.  The probability of finding that earring in the acres of grass that the train had driven was slim to none.  We split up and began to search the property.  We searched and searched to no avail.  Finally, we decided all hope was lost and we needed to leave.  The look on my daughters face broke my heart.  I sent up a silent prayer to God.  “God, I know it’s just an earring, but to Hally, it’s a big deal.  I know it seems impossible, but please let us find her earring.”  We gathered our things and began to leave.  As we were walking through the garage going to our car, there on the floor was her earring.  She was ecstatic and so was I!!  Many prayers of thanksgiving went up to God!  It was a small lesson in His faithfulness in the small things.

Another instance came to mind as well.  The year after Hally was born, I went on a Christian women’s weekend retreat.  In many ways I was still a baby Christian and had only been walking with the Lord for about two years.  I was struggling with many things in my life and had no interest in going on this weekend, but God is faithful and He met me there in a very personal way.  The ways I experienced God that weekend are countless, but one experience came to mind.  It was a couple of days into the weekend and I was wanting to take a shower.  There were two showers for about 15-20 women and getting into the shower was hard enough, but hoping for hot water was near to impossible.  It was late at night and I was the last in line.  It had been a long couple of days and I longed for a hot shower to soak away some of the junk I had been wading through.  As I finally stepped into the shower, as I suspected the water was freezing cold.  In desperation, I cried out to God.  “If You can turn water into wine, surely you can make this water Hot!!!  Burning Hot!!!”  As soon as the words came from my mouth, I could feel the heat returning to the water.  Within a few seconds, the water was so hot I had to step to the side out of the spray and keep turning it down until it was cool enough to step back in.  Tears were streaming down my face as this was my first miracle.  It was my own, personal, miracle.  It was God showing me that He cared, even about something as insignificant as a hot shower.

So, as I stood in my shower remembering, I again cried out to God.  I reminded Him of the times He had been faithful in the little things of my life.  I asked Him again to help me find my earring.  “Father, I remember Your faithfulness.  I know that You care about the things that I care about.  You know that this is just an earring, but to me it’s important.  I don’t want to have to tell Jeremy that I lost it when He comes home, so if you could let me find it before he comes home I would be grateful.”  I turned off the shower and got out, continuing to pray as I went through my after-shower routine.  I went into the closet to get my pajamas on and I bent over to pick up a few things on the floor.  As I leaned over, there on the floor of my closet was the front and back of my earring within three inches of each other!  It was unbelievable!  Not only had I looked in my closet, but had been in and out of that closet multiple times a day over the last few days and never saw that earring.  Again, the tears began to fall and praises to my Father in Heaven went up. 

Everyday, I’m reminded that God is in the details.  I see it in the way He works out my crazy schedule so that everything gets accomplished.  I feel it in a song that I needed to hear at just the right time.  I recognize it in the beauty of creation all around me and the intricate details of every living creature.  I cherish it in that ten minutes of down time He gives me in the midst of a crazy day.  Just look around and you will see Him in the details of your day as well.  And when you do, say, “Thank You!”  The more you do, the more He will show Himself to you.

My friend, is there something in your life that you are afraid to ask Our Father in Heaven?  Do you think it is too small or too petty to ask for?  I want you to know that Our Father is a personal Father.  If you have children, you know what it’s like when something is important to your child.  It may be something totally insignificant to the world, but to them, it is everything.  Our Father knows what is important to us and He wants to bless us with the desires of our hearts.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying that God is a genie in a bottle and will grant us our every wish, but when our desires are pure, He takes delight in giving them to us.  Our God is in the details and He is faithful in the small things,  so trust Him, because He cares.  All you have to do is ask. 

Blessed in the Small Things,

Lorissa

Lessons from a Loyal Companion

Last Sunday morning, we laid to rest our beloved family guardian, our dog, Tessa.  “Tess the Mess,” as we lovingly called her,  came to us as an 8 week old puppy.  We had spent many months researching her breed, locating breeders, going to visit her parents, and then finally choosing her from the litter.  Both my husband and I are dog lovers.  As a matter of fact, I cannot remember a time in my life that I have not had a dog.  Even all of my jobs since high school have included working with “man’s best friend.”  All that to say, we take owning a dog very seriously.  To us, a dog is not just a pet, but a member of the family, so for our family, this was a major loss.  As we stood around her freshly dug grave, we laughed, we cried and we remembered her attributes.  As each person named the qualities that made Tessa so special, I paused to think…I wish more humans were that way.

I have a sign that hangs by my grooming tub that says, “The more I get to know some people, the more I like dogs.”  Being a dog groomer, I spend many hours with only canine companions.  This suits me well.  It gives me lots of time to think, and God often speaks to me as I work. As funny as it may seem, all week long, I’ve been thinking about those things that we talked about standing around our dog’s grave that day, and it has challenged me to be a better person.  So, I wanted to share with you the lessons I’ve learned from the life of a loyal dog.  If you’ve ever had a faithful, four legged companion, you might recognize some of these characteristics.  We may have taught her how to sit, down, shake and rollover, but what she taught us was so much more.

When I think about my Tessa, the first thing that comes to mind is her unconditional love.  From the moment she entered our home, she was ours and we were hers.  Nothing made her happier than spending time with her family.  She was always very repentant when she did wrong.  The look on her face always gave her away when she was guilty.  If you have a dog, you know this look-the head down, eyes looking up and then turning away in shame.  How can you not forgive that look?  On the other hand, she was always quick to forgive.  She never held a grudge.  It didn’t matter how long you had been gone, a few minutes or several days, she was always there to great you with a wagging tail and wiggling body.  She loved unconditionally.

Another thing that stood out was her fierce loyalty.  By her breed nature, she was a guard dog, but she was more than that.  She was loyal to a fault to her people.  She was a good judge of character.  If someone was a friend to us, then she knew they were a friend to her.  Even if they didn’t want to be her friend, she did her very best to win them over.  She could be quite intimidating to non-dog lovers.  When someone came to our home, it was her job to protect us and our property and she took her job seriously.  At first, she thought it was effective to run into the garage and bark from inside where no one could get her and if anyone approached her, she would squat and pee all over herself. (Sorry for being graphic, but it’s the truth.) This was really not effective in scaring people that did not belong, or anyone else for that matter. It took her a few years to figure out how to most effectively do her job, but eventually she got the hang of it.  By the end of her life, I could confidently say that she would have protected us with her life.  She would boldly put herself between us and anyone or anything that meant to cause us harm.  She loved loyally.

Finally, she was a faithful companion.  Wherever we were, she was happiest to be with us.  She loved to spend time with us and because she did, I’m pretty sure she got to know us pretty well.  Dogs have feelings too.  If you spend enough time with them, you will see.  When we were down, she would come lay her head on our lap and look at us with those sad puppy eyes.  It was like she knew we just needed a friend and she understood.  She would listen when we talked and acted like she knew exactly what we were saying.  When we were happy and enjoying life, she would wiggle all over and be happy with us.  She only had a two inch tail, therefore wiggling was much more effective than wagging.  Whether we were working, playing or lounging around, she was always by our side. And we were happiest, when she was by our side.  She loved faithfully.

She loved unconditionally. 

She loved loyally.

She loved faithfully.

And so I think…Do I love like thatCan I love like that?

John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  Tessa loved like this.  I get this.  I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I would lay down my own life for the life of my husband or the life of my children, but I think God intended a little more.  He gave His life for all who would believe, even while we were still sinners.  That one is a little harder to swallow, but challenges me non the less.

But…am I first to say, “I’m sorry?”  Am I quick to forgive?  Do I get excited to see my family and always greet them when they come home?  Do I listen well and sit with those who just need someone by their side?  Do I mourn with those who mourn and laugh with those who laugh?  Do I protect those I love with a fierce loyalty?  Sadly, my answers to these questions are often times, “No.” 

If we loved her so much for loving us like that, then why should we not love others like that as well? 

So, as I remember you Tessa, I want to say… Thank you my loyal companion for teaching me through how you loved.  I don’t know if dogs go to heaven, but if they do, I know God would say, “Well done, good and faithful companion.  You loved well and you were loved in return.”  I no longer mourn the days to come without you here, but instead celebrate the time I had with you and the life you lived.  You were so loved and I miss you dear friend.  Thanks for teaching me how to love.

Loved Well,

Lorissa

Find me linked up at http://www.w2wministries.org/.

“No, Because I Love You.”

NO.  It’s one of the shortest words in the English language.  It can be one of the hardest words to say and it can be one of the hardest words to hear.  As a parent of a toddler, this can be one of the most used words in your vocabulary.  It can also be one of the most frustrating words to hear as your child learns to say it back to you as a response to almost EVERYTHING!  As the parent of a teenager, the word “No” can make you one of the most disliked people on the planet.  There is just something about that small, two letter word that stirs up some strong emotions in a person.

As I’ve told you in a previous post, in parenting my own children, I’ve come to learn a lot about God and why He does some of the things that He does.  You see, as a parent there are times when it is absolutely necessary to say, “No.”  For instance, I will tell my children, “No,” when whatever they are wanting or attempting to do will cause them or someone else harm.  If I can see something they are going to do will cause imminent danger, then as a parent it is my duty to tell them, “No.”  There are other times I tell my children, “No,” because what they want is not the best choice and I know there is a better option.  Like when my child wants to sit down with a bag of chips five minutes before supper is ready, I know she will ruin her appetite with junk and not eat the healthier choice of a home cooked meal.  Other times I have to say, “No,” because they have broken a rule and I have to follow through on a consequence.  (That’s a tough one and makes me very unpopular.)  And finally, there’s other times I say, “No,” because I know something that they don’t know and by saying, “No,” I am setting them up for something way better.  One time my daughter wanted to have a friend spend the night.  I said, “No,” because I knew that the following day we were having a surprise birthday party for her.  If I would have said, “Yes,” it would have messed up the plans we had for her prior to the party, which was a special daddy/daughter date where my husband presented her with her purity ring. She was quite upset when I told her, “No,” but said, “It was so worth it,” when she found out the reason why.

On the flip side, hearing the word “No” is pretty hard to swallow sometimes too.  My husband tends to be very frugal with our money.  I, on the other hand, tend to be a free spender.  Over the last several years, I’ve become a little more respectful of his wishes on how we spend our money.  I will ask him before making larger purchases and I must say,  I still get a little miffed when he tells me, “No.”  And don’t even get me started when I tell one of my children to do something and she tells me, “No.”  Even if she doesn’t verbalize the word, but in action says it loud and clear, this momma gets mad!  Then there’s times when someone else tells me, “No,” and it just causes disappointment, like when I ask a friend to do something and they can’t.  It may be for a good reason, but it’s disappointing just the same.  “No” is just not a fun word!

So where am I going with this?  Well, when I think about God and His Word, there are many times He tells us, “No.”  And as I listed above, there are so many different reasons for saying, “No.”  The difference between me as a parent and God, besides the obvious, is that God is always good and He’s always just.  There are times I will simply say, “No,” because I’m in a bad mood.  It may have nothing to do with what I’m being asked, but in my selfishness I will say, “No.”  God is not like that.  In every situation and in every response, He is totally good and totally righteous.  His response is always for our good and His glory.  It’s never just because that’s what He feels like at that moment.  In my good moments, even when it’s hard, I will say, “No,” because I love my children and I know that it is best for them.  God’s response is always because He loves us and wants the best for us.  Many times I think we forget that.  We start to think that God just doesn’t want us to have any fun or that He’s punishing us, but that’s just not the case.

The problem is, we are human and we are sinful-each and every one of us.  There are no exceptions.  In the beginning when God placed Adam and Eve in the garden, He only had one “No.” “You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” Genesis 2:17.  Now God was doing this not because He was holding out on them, but because He was looking out for them.  It was not only for their safety, but because He wanted something better for them.  He loved them.  They were His children and He wanted the best for them.  But, because they sinned and chose to disobey, we too are now sinful and often choose to disobey.  His love for them did not change in their disobedience, but with their disobedience came consequence.  Their consequence was removal from the garden and their ability to walk daily in His presence without shame and ultimately death.

God has not changed.  His love for us has not changed.  He is still the same God that walked with Adam and Eve in the garden.  The difference is the sin in us.  In the garden there was only need for one “No,” but once sin entered in, there was need for more “No’s.”  Once the untainted bond between God and man was broken, the Bible became the most effective way for God to communicate His love to all the generations that have followed.  It isn’t merely a history book or a book of rules, but a comprehensive way for us to learn how God loves us and how we should love Him. 

There are people who claim that “their God” is a god of love and acceptance, and that we must be reading the Bible wrong if we disagree with their interpretation of what is right or wrong.  They can’t comprehend that a “good and loving” God would tell them, “No.”  They can’t believe that a “good and loving” God would have consequences for behaviors that He says are not acceptable.  And don’t even mention that this same God will send people to Hell for not accepting His Son.  Its seems inconceivable to them that a God that says, “No,” could possibly be loving, so they choose to omit the “No’s” they don’t agree with and only focus on the parts of the Bible that fit with what they consider loving.  This is what I must challenge, because I am a flawed human being and I love my children.  I absolutely want the best for them in their lives and because of that, I must at times tell them, “No,” set boundaries, and give consequences.  If I chose to be completely tolerant of any and all behaviors that they chose to participate in, I would be neglectful.  It is not loving to allow my children to play with a loaded gun just because they want to.  It is not loving for me to say, “Yes,” to every request they make just because I don’t want them to get angry with me.  And it is not loving of me to not have consequences for breaking rules, therefore teaching them that they are the most important thing in the universe and they don’t have to respect authority.  So why do we believe the only way that God could be loving and good is by never telling us, “No,” and never having consequences when we disobey His rules?

So when the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who have sex with men, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” God is still loving.  Just because we don’t like the message, does not make it less true.  Because God loves us, He says, “No.”  He accepts us right where we are, but loves us enough to not let us stay there.  Verse 11 goes on to say, “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”  Romans 5:8 also says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  He loves us so much that He sent His only Son to pay the price that we deserve to pay for our disobedience.  His only requirement is that we turn from disobedience and accept His free gift of forgiveness.  It’s like He’s saying, “I love you enough to say, ‘No.’  I have something so much better for you, if you will just trust me.  Do you trust me enough to obey?”

As Christians, it’s sometimes hard to address sin in those around us, be it in other Christians or non-Christians.  We can come off as judgmental and intolerant, but I don’t think that is the case with most Christians.  Maybe we just need to change our approach.  Most of us know first hand what it’s like to disobey God’s “No’s” and then experience the freedom of living in obedience.  I used to be some of those things mentioned in 1 Corinthians 6, but thank God for verse 11. Now I know first hand that what God had to offer was so much better.  It wasn’t about Him telling me, “No.”  It was about Him telling me, “Yes.”  “Yes, I love you.  Yes, I accept you.  Yes, I forgive you and yes, now you are free.”  If you are a Christian, you should have had a similar experience.  So maybe we need to talk more about that.  I think it’s ok to say, “No, I don’t condone what you are doing, but I love you.  No, God doesn’t condone what you are doing, but He loves you.  Let me tell you what He offered me in place of those things and how it changed my life.  He is offering it to you too.”  On the flip side, if we choose not to address these things, is it possible that we will “love” people straight into hell in the name of acceptance and tolerance?

There are still times in my life when God tells me, “No.” I still don’t like it, but because I know He is faithful, He is good, and He is just, I will trust Him.  I will trust that His “No” is what’s best for me.  It will keep me safe or it will give me the opportunity to experience something even better.  Do you trust His “No’s?”  If so, share your story.  You never know who may end up saying, “Yes!” to Christ.

Because I’m Forgiven,
Lorissa