Tag Archives: hope

Eternal Life

John 3 (ESV)

You Must Be Born Again

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you  do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.  14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

Eternal life.  Can it be imagined? With the difficulties on this earth it seems at times unhealthy to consider eternal life.   Who wants to continue living with such sorrows and desperate situations.  Who would want to live an eternity?

Well, with the Lord Jesus Christ we have in Him the desire to want more.  More than this life on earth.  There is a desire to live a life serving a most holy God.  The eternity Christ is talking about is not like that which we observe today, it’s quite the opposite.

Revelation 21 (ESV)

The New Heaven and the New Earth

21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place  of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people,  and God himself will be with them as their God.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”…….

Revelation 22 (ESV)

The River of Life

22 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever……

We get a glimpse of what is yet to come in Revelation.  Just a tad bit of info to wet the soul of his saints, to cling to his Word, wanting more, wanting that eternal life with Him.  Very different than that which we have today.  Something more.  Something not yet seen.

Dear friends, it pains me to know that so many do not yet call upon His name.   Please know that there is so much more.  So much more to this world.  Knowing God and seeing his providential care over your life gathers strength to get through the sorrows and the difficulties.  Without Him beside us, we wither away into a depressive state of wandering.  Wandering through the thicket of a forest which encapsulates it’s visitor, not allowing for an exit.  Only through He that gives life does one find a way out.  Only through time studying His word does one find hope.

It is with great prayer that this finds you well with your soul. If not, I pray that you may be inspired to learn more about the almighty who gave you life and who offers so much more.

Finding Hope in the midst of Fear and Despair

It seems that the world is falling apart.  People are rioting in the streets due to the freedom of an election, there is death for the lost, friends that are ill, persecution of the saints and it’s getting colder with winter on it’s way.  I know that last part isn’t a reflection of the world falling apart, yet it reflects the desperation of my prayers.  For warmth and for my hope to become attainable!   Warmth in the kindness people could show one another, warmth in healing, warmth in the sun and warmth in the gentle arms of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Hope  in the protection of His wing when the wind blows fierce enough to try to knock me or those whom I love over.

Finding hope in a lost world can be a daunting task.  Looking around, there is so much more to be in despair about.  Hope seems to be something one has to convince himself/herself of,  not knowing if  hope is that which is to be attained.   Hope in healing, hope in kindness, hope in warmth, hope in love and hope in freedom.  Is it to be?  How can one be sure that  hope is going to become  reality?  Truth of the matter is one cannot be sure of a great deal.   For many, uncertainty becomes an unknown reality of which doesn’t deserve the time or effort of hope.   Hope seems too far in the reaching in a world which thrives in strife.   Sometimes it seems that by getting  hopes up, one will only have a dashed spirit when the outcome is not what was hoped for.  Completely understandable since disappointment is the human natural reaction to a  crushing blow .   Yet, for a Christian, this thought process seems unacceptable or improbable.   Is it really?  Unacceptable?  Improbable?  That sounds a bit irrational!   After all, human nature and the human spirit do not differentiate between that of a Christian and non Christian.   Right?

Wrong!  The definition of human nature tells us it’s the nature of humans; especially : the fundamental dispositions and traits of humans  (Websters).  Yet, for a Christian, there is something else to consider.  The indwelling of the Holy Spirit, hence the reaction of the human spirit.  The human spirit that experiences a knowledge in which human nature cannot compete with.  It’s the truth and knowledge that there is something much greater than ourselves at work.  Something revealed by the grace of the Lord which  is more powerful than that of human nature.  For a Christian, this knowledge is the understanding and acceptance that the will of man and the will of God are not always in sync.  That God always has a plan, that His will is perfect and that His timing is exactly that…His!  Knowing that although we are living in a world of continual unholy drama, we have trust and faith in that which we cannot control.  During illness, a Christian has hope that healing will come.  If healing is not to come, a Christian has the hope of eternal salvation that is yet to come.  If persecuted, a Christian knows that God’s plan is perfect and there is hope in knowing that all things work for His Glory!   In watching the destruction of the fallen world, a Christian has the knowledge that this is not the end, only the beginning.

(I need to pause here with a sidebar…I stopped at this point to take care of some family needs.  While I was waiting at an appointment I was unable to find my phone, which I usually take a look at during such times, so I picked up the book I had also brought.  It was my book that was to be finished by tonights book study with a friend.  As I was reading, I was once again struck with praise to the Lord for His care over my spiritual life.  Here I was, writing my blog prior to leaving the house and then I was reading the chapter that fit so well with the above.  I did not know this was going to be the case when I started writing, God knew.  He knew I would not need my phone as much as I needed to read that next chapter before continuing on.   Praises of Thanksgiving!)

Does this mean that we as Christians just have hope and go along in our daily lives not worrying about anything or doing anything about concerns that creep up?  Not at all.  What we do however,  through the grace of the Holy Spirit, is become driven to find resolve in the Word and through prayer.  We don’t sit by and say “there’s so much more, God has this covered, I just need to sit by and watch”.  Christians actively seek out and try to stay focused.  It’s not an easy thing for many.

12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13)

I mentioned how my reading of my book study was so compelling as an argument for what I’m trying to say here, that I just have to share the following notes from the book.  (Book: The Hole in Our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung; my notes and some of the quotes below are in italics.)

A question in the book asks, “how does the spirit work in us to make us to make us holy?”  Through various paragraphs my notes are such:

Prayer for Spiritual Strength

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,   (Ephesians 3:14-16 ESV)

Wisdom from the Spirit

6 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But, as it is written,
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—
10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.  ( 1 Cor. 2:6-16)

The Spirit is power and light!  

We can try to say all the right things to ourselves about how it will work out, yet are we going further to directly and actively seek the gospel truth in order to obtain the hope needed in persecution, illness, and fear?  

“But in the pursuit of holiness we need to look at  more than the past acts of redemption.  We have to look forward and trust in future grace.”

Because of the future promises of blessings, our passion for hope is fueled by the power and light of the Holy spirit.  

In closing, I may look crazy, sound like I’m not a realist (which happens quite often) , yet I am hopeful for a future blessing amongst the chaos that goes on around me.  I am not always happy, I am not always positive, yet I strive to do my best in such times of despair to seek the council of the Lord and to trust in the wisdom that He chooses to impart my way.  Am I always naturally secure in my hope?  In all honesty no.  However, that being said, my hope does not come through my own power of will, but through that of the Holy Spirit which gives me the strength to be secure.  To locate the hope of the future blessings that He has yet to reveal.  I pray that any and all adversities that I experience will be used for the greater good of sharing the gospel truth with those who may be in need.  In closing, the book mentioned a quote from Martyn Lloyd -Jones which I want to share:

The New Testament calls upon us to take action; it does not tell us that the work of sanctification is going to be done for us…We are in the ‘good fight of faith’, and we have to do the fighting.  But, thank God, we are enabled to do it; for the moment we believed and are justified by faith, and are born again of the Spirit of God, we have the ability.  So the New Testament method of sanctification is to remind us of that; and having reminded us of it, it says, ‘Now then, go and do it’.   (Marty Lloyd-Jones, Romans: Exposition of Chapter 6: The new Man)

Be well dear reader and go forth seeking hope for that which is yet to come.

Clinging to the only Peace that can Sustain

During times of disbelief over things of this world, I cling to the word more than any other time.  My prayer life seems to consume more minutes of my days than anything else.  I lay awake at night in prayerful thought, consideration and more desperation for the Lord Jesus Christ to hear my prayer.  At times I feel as though I am pleading for His will to line up with my hopes.  In the end, I trust He knows what’s best and He will take care to bring me closer to Him in my thoughts, and also in my prayers.

Psalm 119: 49-56

Remember you word to your servant, in which you have made me hope.  This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise give me life.  The insolent utterly deride me, but I do not turn away from your law.  When I think of you rules from of old, I take comfort, O Lord.  Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked, who forsake your law.  Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my sojourning.  I remember your name in the night, O Lord, and keep your law.  This blessing has fallen to me that I have kept your precepts.

As a great deal has plagued my thoughts and rocked my world this past two weeks, I find peace in Him and in the promises yet to come.  I find grace in the promises already given and I find hope in a creator who is perfect in every possible way.

Where do you find peace?  Do you look for worldly wonders and human nature to give you peace?  Or do you seek Jesus and the Word to sustain and keep you?  Again I ask, Where do You find peace?

 

Sufficiency of God

God’s care for his people is sufficient!  There can be no doubt.  Joy comes from knowing who He is, what He has done for us, what he has provided for us, and what we have to look forward to in serving Him.    I sat in amazement the other night in church as the teaching was on Approaching God from Psalm 131.  It was a very nice follow up to what I had previously that morning posted on my blog.  It wrapped up my thoughts and was like a gift handed back.  I just had to share it here with you.  Hope you will take the time to listen.

There Is Hope and Help…

For many of us with Lyme disease, it’s so difficult for others to understand.  One minute we are doing everything that seems “normal” and the next we are in crash mode.  Our bodies just don’t operate with any consistency.  As I watched Under Our Skin again last week, I was reminded of how so many of us outwardly look “normal” to others, yet inside we are writhing in pain, exhaustion, and discomfort.  What is seen on the outside is quite different than what is going on inside.  While the outside looks content and at peace, on the inside there is a battle.  A battle of immunity vs. borreliosis.  A battle that isn’t won by either, as long as there is treatment, yet a battle that drags on without end in sight, so it would seem.  One side trying to overtake the other.

I remember watching the attached when I was early diagnosed and I wept.  I wept thinking there was not an end in sight for me either and that I would be just as bad as Krista.  Fortunately, at the end of the story, I found hope and was encouraged to look toward healing with a positive attitude.  It reminded me that what I was experiencing was nothing in comparison.  I looked at her age and thanked God that I had achieved 20+ years longer than she before crashing.  Her story is quite extreme, with some additional co-infections that riddled her body for several years prior to them finding out the cause.  It’s difficult to watch, yet it’s so real.  Her story is similar to Julie’s, in my last post, in that their co-infections and symptoms mimic one another.  If, you have the heart to watch, please do so with tissue and with the reminder that there is healing.

Lyme is nothing to mess around with, yet it is not something to be terrified of.  With the rates rising of Lyme disease, everyone should be aware of what kind of symptoms can be observed from just a tiny little tick.  The bacteria that can make a body deteriorate quickly may be small, yet they are definitely a large scale concern.  I encourage everyone to please understand Lyme, it’s affects on the body, learn how to recognize the symptoms early.  Before thousands of dollars are spent on trying to come up with a diagnosis.

Please remember also, when someone is diagnosed with Lyme, we don’t want to be defined by it, yet we want people to understand that every day is a balancing act.  Every day is a new day.  We cling to hope, even though we get frustrated, and we pray knowing that only God will get us through.  With my own experience with Lyme, I have said that I hope I can help someone else someday.  I hope that my own journey will be an example to someone else in a positive sense and that none of what I have experienced will be wasted.   Just as Krista has endured and shared, she also has educated which is what I am trying to do as well with this blog.   Thanks for taking the time to read and to watch.

Grace Abounding – Julies Story

It has been a pleasure to know Julie and her husband Steve.  I met Julie through our blogging and have since then been able to meet her in person on two occasions, and have had the pleasure of reading scripture and praying with her nearly every Thursday night through Skype for the last year and a half.  I adore her upbeat attitude when life seems to try to keep her down and her love for our gracious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  I have witnessed first hand some of the episodes that take Julie’s body to an extremely vulnerable place and have also seen her rebound back to a smile a few moments later.  She credits her strength to the only one who gives it in such times, making her all the more someone to look up to.  Hugs and smiles to you Julie…. 🙂   (Wish my picture would download…)

Here is her story and I hope that you will also check out her blog for more on her struggle with Lyme.

About Julie

The Hope Beyond story began after kayaking in the Cedarville Reservoir in Leo, Indiana on October 11, 2011. What a great time I had with my husband, Steve, and the Fort Wayne Kayaking Group including enjoyment of Louise’s fabulous cookies afterwards! The only problem with our paddle that night was a few sanitary mistakes I made that led to a devastating bout of hepatitis, trip to the emergency room and over a month of wretched illness. The Lord healed me enough to enjoy a family trip over Thanksgiving weekend then symptoms returned thereafter and never really abated.

By January of 2012, my doctor was looking for other causes of the ongoing illness. He identified Chronic Lyme Disease largely by exclusion and clinical presentation; I may have had it for years! Treatment for Chronic Lyme Disease began with oral antibiotics and immediately I was exceedingly miserable. By March I was no longer able to work in my profession as an occupational therapist. We invested in Rife technology coupled with low dose antibiotics, compounded medications, and specific pharm-grade supplements. Daily seizure attack episodes began shortly thereafter and escalated to an unbelieveable level. (See more on my You Tube Channel.) A year later in January of 2013 Steve and I learned that mold in our home was contributing to these neurological complications. We fast-tracked the mold remediation of our home in three months so I could continue to live there! It turns out that the blue-green algae in the Cedarville Reservoir and mold exposures are both “biotoxins.” Then as 2014 began the big focus was on resolving a systemic Candida infection with even more restrictive dietary changes. Sish.

2014 ended with the bombshell news that underlying all of this illness was mercury toxicity!!! I investigated chelation then pursued the best mercury speciation testing and detoxification protocol I could find thanks to my chiropractor, family practice physician, and Quicksilver Scientific. Removal of 2 problematic, root-canaled teeth followed. While the journey of recovery continues to be difficult over four years down the road, I recognize the many cool little life lessons along the way that have served to grow my faith in the Lord no matter what happens to me! And now with my mercury burden down, my beloved Steve and I are hopeful that I AM GOING TO GET WELL!!!

The Lord, Jesus Christ has provided for our needs during this time and directed us through Steve’s leadership, love, and care. The tremendous trials have also brought Steve and I closer to each other and to the His throne of grace. When the isolation of this disease got unbearable, He brought me a local Lyme Support Group, Skype Bible Prayer Group, new friends, my own eBook (Hope Beyond Lyme: The First Year), and meaningful connections with others online including this blog! Somehow I became an Advanced Master Gardener along the way. A new hobby kept my hands busy when I couldn’t sleep and led me to open then sell my jewelry shop on http://www.Etsy.com called, Trinity Jewelry by Design. Although I attempted to write a second eBook (Caring for the Sandwich Generation at Home) and develop a unique home safety product for Two Step Solutions LLC, the severity of the complications rendered me bed-ridden this past summer, many days per week. These projects are on hold for now but not forgotten!

UPDATE: January of 2016 began the time to revisit the diagnosis of Chronic Lyme Disease with IV antibiotics, experimental treatment for a fungal infection (protomyxzoa rheumatica or FL1953), and genetic coaching by a naturopathic physician. Gratefully I am tolerating everything a bit better than when this journey began 4 years ago. Overcoming a complex illness takes time and persistence; I am grateful to report that the wretched episodes are finally starting to diminish! KNOW THAT I HAVE NOT GIVEN UP! I hope that you will see evidence of this in my posts here. The Lord continues to provide comfort and hope from my Heavenly Husband and gracious Father: awake with me in the middle of the night as well as in the light of the day, now and evermore. There is even a little bit of dirt under my fingernails from a wee bit o’ gardening too!

At some other life-changing points in my life, the Lord gave me these promises from His Word:

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Romans 8 (NIV)

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Philippians 1:12 (NIV)

12 But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel.

Gentle Reader: join me on this amazing journey! I know that the suffering during this part of my life will not be wasted. My prayer is that it edifies the Lord and is constructive for others too. Click on the “FOLLOW ME” button along the right hand column or at the bottom of your screen. Thanks so much for taking the time to read this blog and for your support. May the Lord bless you and lead you to Himself . . . a journey always worth taking! :JJ

https://justjuliewrites.com

 

Abiding in His Love

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But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 2Corinthians 4:7-11

I’ve written it before, and I think it needs to be the reminder in our home right now.  Praise God for the glory of His word to teach us, build our character, shape us, and connect us to Him.

For the love of God is eternal, unconditional, just and perfect!  May we always remember, live by, abide by and stand firm in His word.

A Little Perspective

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Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.   2Corinthians 1:3-4

In studying JOB, I have come to understand more clearly the value of trusting God, His Word, and His mercies that are offered to His flock.  Calling out to him over the last year, whether my day was filled with pain or exhaustion, I admittedly had moments where I complained over my circumstances, yet I also knew and had faith that God had a plan.  I was comforted in knowing that He would utilize my situation to His glory and that nothing I go through in this world is too great when I have Him by my side.

I have a picture with a beautiful poem about the Lord carrying us in our times of trouble and the picture has one set of footprints walking in the sand.  Although I enjoy the concept of Him carrying us through this life, I think I would rather consider Him as a partner walking beside me like a seeing eye “friend”.  Pointing out obstacles, directing my footsteps, guiding me down the path of life leading to His narrow gate.  Nurturing me along the journey so that in the end He will be glorified.

One of our questions in our study asked whether we have ever encountered God in a way that transformed our understanding of or attitude toward Him?  We were then asked to share the experience and tell how our view of God was changed.

My answer was yes and I went on to explain.  Our move to our current location was not an easy transition.  We moved to a state that we had never stepped into, knowing absolutely no one, and to top it off it was in the winter.  We lived in a two bedroom apartment for two months while we sought out our current home.  The kids had school and were making friends, my husband had work and new relationships to nurture while I had a realtor once a week.  My days were very lonely.

I had left behind a volunteer position at the kids school that kept me working every day as the school librarian, room mom for one class, a bible study that I had been a part of for 10 years, childhood friends, college friends, family and ladies that I had befriended after our third move.  My involvement with our church included VBS, women’s ministry, fundraisers and the meal delivery service for our brothers and sisters within the church that I was in charge of.   I  was running with kids to Karate classes two days a week, baseball three days a week, dance classes 3 days a week, boy scouts  and brownies every other week and our weekends were spent at a cottage.   To say that I was busy is an understatement.  In fact, one of my friends gave me a mug for my birthday that said, “Note to self:  Stop volunteering for stuff”.

In my loneliness, I found that going to the Lord was giving me encouragement.  In my times of human weakness, however, I sought out to find purpose for myself in our new town.  I thought I needed to be a part of something, other than just looking for a house for the family.  So after a month of spending one day a week cleaning the apartment, grocery shopping and doing laundry, another day going out with the realtor, and the rest of my week spent sitting alone reading the word of God, I went in to our new church and requested a list of activities and groups that our family could be a part of.  I distinctly remember breaking down in tears in front of the secretaries.  Not sure what else to do, they presented me with a list of people to call and activities that may interest us.

One by one we reached out, seeking out purpose, more for myself than the rest of the family.  After all, they were meeting people and making friends.  I was the one who was trying to find my niche.  Each time we reached out, we hit a dead end.  Either the groups were full or after receiving information we decided that the group was not what we were interested in.  Once again, I remember finding myself in tears.  As our second month approached, we had found our house and we were waiting for it to be completed as it had been a new construction.  One more day would be added to my loneliness as I no longer had my day with the realtor.  Another moment of tears.  I remember asking God why and I also remember complaining.

One day, as I was reading His word, I was struck by the time I had to be with Him.  I’m not sure exactly what took place, however, I felt this peace that I had not known since our move.  I came to the realization that prior to our move, my time with Lord was when I could fit Him in, between projects and activities.   I scheduled my time with Him based on what worked for me.  In the two months of being in the apartment I realized that all I had was time to spend with Him.  He had become my best friend, my caretaker, and my encourager.  He was walking beside me and was giving me comfort in my times of loneliness.  I was not alone, I just didn’t have perspective.

I remember thanking Him for all that He was doing for me and my family.  For giving us all that we needed.  Even though we were in a two bedroom apartment and ate dinners at a table in the living room by the couch.  We all have said that they were the best two months we’ve ever had as a family.   As a family, we grew closer, enjoying our time together since we didn’t have any extra curricular activities vying for our time.

I would say that during that time I encountered God as I had not known him before.  The focus in my years prior to our move were spent trying to do all the good in the world, doing all that I could for my family and for others.  I spent time with him when He fit into my schedule, praying while I was driving and in my quiet time upon waking and before bed.   After our move, I had refocused my attention, turning my daily schedule into a time of continued worship of Him.  To my pleasant surprise, my Heavenly Father was there waiting for me and He met with me giving me peace, understanding and perspective.  He didn’t ask me to wait until He had time in His schedule, He was ready and willing to offer mercy, grace, and love when I needed it the most.

Rather than seeing Him as a Holy God who was too busy to notice whether or not I took time out for Him, I realized He was a Holy God who is a jealous God that needed me to take that next step in knowing Him.  I was transformed!  I don’t mean that I became a christian at that point, I knew I was a christian and had been for many years.  I was however, growing in my knowledge of Him and who He truly was.  Humbled by His time with me and my recognition of His Almighty character, I prayed that He would lead me and open doors when He was ready for me to once again serve outside of the home.  I said that prayer in church one night and at the end of the service a woman approached me asking me to be a part of a prayer group.  Timing was everything.  Once again, I thanked Him, knowing that all He wanted me to trust in Him and His plan for my life.   Each experience I have endured since the Lord called me by name has helped me to grow closer to Him and has given me new perspective.

In watching Bethany Hamilton in Soul Surfer recently with my daughter, I am reminded that sometimes we need to be in a different place, focusing on something other than ourselves to gain perspective.  Not unlike what God did with JOB.  JOB had his own thoughts and considerations in defending himself pridefully with his friends, yet it took God’s audience with JOB to show him a new perspective that included who he was in comparison to who God was.   Isn’t that so like the life of a christian?  When we stray from the herd, our shepherd uses His staff to to gently remind us of our place in the flock.

I challenge you reader to look at your current affliction and look for opportunities to give you a new perspective.  Preferably, allowing God to be a part of that process.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.  We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;  persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.  For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.  2Corinthians 4:7-11

 

Rejected or Rejoicing?

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Wearily pulling myself out of self loathing yesterday, I had the opportunity to visit with a friend whom is no longer able to walk and is finishing out her young life knowing that she is fading away into the arms of her savior.  I was so blessed and refreshed by the visit, that I had to ask God’s forgiveness for the moments prior to our time together.   After all, I  had been questioning what good was going to come of such a visit when I was so tired from battling my pneumonia for the last 3 weeks.  I did not feel like smiling, I just wanted to sleep and rest in the comfort of my living room.  Venturing out into the cold was not appealing, even though I had an errand I had to run prior to the visit.  I pondered forgoing the errand and the visit.   It’s amazing how God uses times like those to touch our inner being, reminding us that there is so much to do and so little time for the joy of the Lord to be shared with others.  I came home physically tired, yet spiritually uplifted.   My original intention of visiting my friend was because I thought I was going to bless her, yet, God blessed me instead with a sustainable energy that kept me going for the rest of the night and He reminded me of the grace of humility.

There is no place for self loathing or a self serving attitude for Christians who know Him.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.  You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you , declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.”      Jeremiah 29:11-14

For the last year, life has had it’s ups and downs with my diagnosis of Lyme Disease.  The loneliness of having a physical disability is only known by those who are also afflicted with such circumstances.  For this reason, I was determined that when I felt better, I was going to start weekly visits with my friend whom I had neglected prior to my own illness.   I remember having the need to visit her, however, I am embarrassed to admit that time was filled with so many other things to do that I never made the time.  I was just too busy, plain and simple.  Isn’t that so like our society today?  We spend so much time doing so many great things that have such little value.  Yet the things that mean so much, we brush aside thinking they are not of great significance.

I challenge you reader to consider your own life and ask yourself this question, “What have I done today that was not for my own gratification?”  If you ask yourself that question and find that you cannot come up with one thing, I challenge you to step out of your comfort zone and give it a try.  If you are only doing for others so that you will benefit, you have not challenged yourself enough.  Try taking time out of your day to do something for someone that will not have anything to do with benefiting yourself.   Let me explain.  If you partake on a mercy mission for someone else, make sure you are not thinking that it’s for your own benefit or self glorification that you are doing it.   True acts of kindness, love and humility do not come from knowledge, they come from the heart.  Outpouring unconditionally!

Last year there were several wonderful friends who took time out of their days to sit with me or write to me.  The fact that they thought of me and prayed for me was enough, but these women actually took the time out of their busy lives to let me know.  Unconditionally!  From guilt free quilting to those friday pizza nights where I would otherwise have sat here alone.  From e-cards of inspiration to the hand written notes mailed through the post, I was blessed by the giving of their time.  I can only hope that they too felt blessed by the love they shared with this lonely Christian in her time of need for fellowship.

My friend and I sat together yesterday and began reading a book.  Although my friend can no longer read and I am actually doing the reading, our discussions during and afterward were wonderful.  We began the first week with the first two chapters of the book and studying Psalm 13.

How long, O LORD?  Will you forget me forever?  How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day?  How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?  

Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep and the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.  I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.   Psalm 13

We both discussed how blessed we are knowing that we had the fellowship with one another, and the fellowship of the Lord Jesus Christ.  David, in writing this psalm, felt alone and abandoned by God, yet he trusted in His love.  He knew God was there or he would not have called out to him to begin with, but he cried out for the reassurance.   He just longed for the fellowship and comfort of the Lord to help with the loneliness  that was overtaking his physical being.  Is this any different than how we feel when we are going through trials?  As Christians we know God is ever present and we can trust in His love, yet we long for that physical fellowship.  It’s in our human nature to have that need, and yet, so many are left in their lonely state.

In both of my studies this week, the same question came up, “Why is it so important to establish a right view of God before adversity hits?”  (CBS JOB commentary)   Both my friend and I agree that in our circumstances we could not get through all that humanity and disease throws at us if we did not have trust in the Lord and trust in salvation.  In saying that, it does not mean we will not have tears and that we will not be discouraged at our current situation.  Just as David was discouraged, he still trusted in “steadfast love” which in turn allowed him to “rejoice in salvation”.   Rejoice…

Rejoicing in the everlasting love of a creator who has chosen us to be a part of his kingdom.  Rejoicing in his blessings of family and fellowship with other like minded brothers and sisters who will share in an eternal life.  Rejoicing in the blessing of vision to see that our sorrows are short lived in this world.  Rejoicing that Jesus Christ took upon himself the sins of mankind to save.  Rejoicing in the Hope and Faith of healing and God’s everlasting care in our lives on this earth.  Rejoicing in knowing Him!

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”    Romans 1:16-17

 

Beauty or Truth? You decide…

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Proverbs 4:7  The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,and whatever you get, get insight.

Ecclesiastes 7:12  For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money,
and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it.

We recently returned from another Highland Festival gathering which took place once again in Canada.  We decided to take an additional few days before the games to take a tour of the north eastern part of Canada since we were going to be so close.  So off to Quebec City we drove.  There is so much to share about our trip, yet one part of it continues to haunt my thoughts and is something I have been praying over for the last week.

When I began writing this blog, my earlier posts had a theme of “why”?    I thought it would be interesting to write in that direction, however, many other things popped up that had me writing and sharing outside of that why box.  Well, I have over the last week continued to pray about and ask why about one small hour in time that took place on our trip.   I know and am very aware that this subject could be a hot point and am not certain how many will continue reading once I get to my point, however, I certainly hope that more will at least consider that this is me asking why and maybe they will consider my question and God’s truth on the subject.  After all, 2Timothy 3:14-16 says “14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

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On our country tour of Quebec City, we were taken to St. Anne’s Basilica, or as the French call it Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré Shrine.  My first why was questioning “shrine”.   In the dictionary this is how they describe shrine: a building or other shelter, often of a stately or sumptuous character, enclosing the remains or relics of a saint or other holy person and forming an object of religious veneration and pilgrimage.   My second question was more of a “who” rather than why.  Who was St. Anne?  On the tour bus we had the explanation given through our tour guide describing her as the mother of the virgin Mary.     Now comes the third question, why is the mother of Mary a saint?  Well, saint in the dictionary reads as such: any of certain persons of exceptional holiness of life, formally recognized as such by the Christian Church, especially by canonization.  Did she lead an exceptional life?  Her name is not listed in the bible and from what I researched it is only listed once in the middle of the second century in the apocryphal Protevangelium of James.  Everywhere I looked for information about Anne, there were different stories and legends about her life.  From her being barren and sharing the same story as Hanna and Samuel, to her being married once to her being married three times and having three daughters.   I repeatedly found the word “tradition” used when describing her and her importance. Making me wonder what the definition of tradition was: a : an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior (as a religious practice or a social custom)
b : a belief or story or a body of beliefs or stories relating to the past that are commonly accepted as historical though not verifiable.

Ah, definition b. is where I see the bigger picture. “Commonly accepted as historical though not verifiable.”  With such inconsistencies,  no clear biblical explanation into her importance, why is she a saint? It must be obvious at this point I am not catholic.  I do not understand praying to someone other than directly to the Lord in the name of Jesus.

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Back to the trip…off through the country’s winding roads and small towns we went to see a shrine dedicated and named after a woman who is a part of history yet whose name is not even in God’s holy scriptures.  The driver went on to explain that St. Anne was prayed to for healing and that people have hobbled into the basilica crippled and walked out leaving canes and crutches behind.  As I sat uncomfortably in my seat, knowing that my body is riddled with spirochetes and various other infections, I was no longer concerned over my own health, yet was concerned over the spiritual health of those who pray to someone other than Christ.  I began to pray  for the miracle of His divine power to change the heart.  I began praying for all of those who ooed and awed at the thought of seeing the basilica, seeing her hip bone under glass, and their praying to “St. Anne”.  I asked Christ directly to show those who did not know Him to be shown Him.  Just as my peace and healing has come from prayer directly to Christ himself, they too can feel healing if they only knew Him.

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Exiting the bus, it was hard not to breath deeply at the beauty of such a towering “shrine”.  It certainly was beautiful from the parking lot, and from the road.  I took a great number of pictures of the beautiful windows that the suns rays shown through, and the enormous copper doors which a local man had made.  However, as I studied the sculpture above the door as we entered in, I was wrought with sadness.  Sadness at seeing a woman (St. Anne) portrayed as an idol by those who were bowing down before her.  (I tried for 3 hours to download the picture, not sure why it will not upload.)  Why?  Her name is not listed in scripture, she is not the reason for Mary’s immaculate conception, her history is sketchy at best and there is no history of her doing anything spectacular other than being a mom to someone else who was an important part of history.  Bus loads and car loads of people unloaded to go into the basilica and pray to her.  There was even a campground across the street and a small building behind the church to buy your souvenirs.   Why pray to her?  Scripture tells us even in the old testament prayers were lifted to either the creator of the earth, our Lord God Almighty, or to man made idols.  So, since we know she herself is not God, does that make her an idol?  After all, people make pilgrimages to her basilica where miracles of healing are proclaimed and they pray to her.

The following prayer was found laying out for people to read and use in their prayers.  (Please note 1/2 way down the page under Before a relic of Saint Anne, second paragraph..)

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It must be mentioned that the Catholic Church in 1677 condemned the belief that Anne also participated in the immaculate conception of Mary.  Another why… why then is this prayer sitting in a Catholic Church dedicated to a woman who is not listed in scripture enticing people from all over the world to visit and to pray to her?

1 Timothy 2:3-6  This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.

I know that the answer falls back onto the shoulders of those who taught such ideas, as well as tradition.  Tradition passed down from generation to generation.  It is possible however, to be the one person to break with tradition and begin reading scripture as God intended for us to do.  We no longer live in an age where all we have is personal reflection and stories passed down due to the lack of writing and paper.  We have bibles in our stores, churches, hotels and prayerfully in our homes.  We have internet, Bible aps and ipads.  If one begins reading them and praying directly to the Lord in the name of Jesus Christ one may find wisdom.  As Christians we need to ask hard questions when something doesn’t seem right in the teaching of the scriptures.  If people do not know truth, how will they know Him?

Hebrews 4:12  For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

To the reader that has read all the way through, thank you.  Thank you for pondering with me the questions which need to be asked.  I hope that you will continue to read the scriptures below and listen to the following sermon posts on the first two commandments so you may understand my concern for those who pray to anyone other than Jesus Christ.

I titled this post Beauty or Truth?  because I think it’s another pondering question.  Would you rather have a beautiful sanctuary with gold and silver relics and copper doors or would you rather have truth?  I would rather have truth.

Who should we pray to:

John 14:13  Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

John 14:21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.  

John 14:14
If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

John 15:16
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

(Please note that the Father in this text is God, not the local priest or pastor.)

James 1:5
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

Let us remember:

Deuteronomy 5:6-21

6″I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
7 “‘You shall have no other gods before me.
8 “‘You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 9 You shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 10 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
11 “‘You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
12 “‘Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. 15 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.
16 “‘Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
17 “You shall not murder.
18 “And you shall not commit adultery.
19 “And you shall not steal.
20 “And you shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
21 “And you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. And you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field, or his male servant, or his female servant, his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.’

Jeremiah 18:15
But my people have forgotten me;
they make offerings to false gods;

Zechariah 10:2
For the household gods utter nonsense,
and the diviners see lies;
they tell false dreams
and give empty consolation.
Therefore the people wander like sheep;
they are afflicted for lack of a shepherd.

Jeremiah 10:1-15

Idols and the Living God

10 Hear the word that the Lord speaks to you, O house of Israel. 2 Thus says the Lord:
“Learn not the way of the nations,
nor be dismayed at the signs of the heavens
because the nations are dismayed at them,
3 for the customs of the peoples are vanity                                                                          A tree from the forest is cut down
and worked with an axe by the hands of a craftsman.
4 They decorate it with silver and gold;
they fasten it with hammer and nails
so that it cannot move.
5 Their idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field,
and they cannot speak;
they have to be carried,
for they cannot walk.
Do not be afraid of them,
for they cannot do evil,
neither is it in them to do good.”
6 There is none like you, O Lord;
you are great, and your name is great in might.
7 Who would not fear you, O King of the nations?
For this is your due;
for among all the wise ones of the nations
and in all their kingdoms
there is none like you.
8 They are both stupid and foolish;
the instruction of idols is but wood!
9 Beaten silver is brought from Tarshish,
and gold from Uphaz.
They are the work of the craftsman and of the hands of the goldsmith;
their clothing is violet and purple;
they are all the work of skilled men.
10 But the Lord is the true God;
he is the living God and the everlasting King.
At his wrath the earth quakes,
and the nations cannot endure his indignation.
11 Thus shall you say to them: “The gods who did not make the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under the heavens.”
12 It is he who made the earth by his power,
who established the world by his wisdom,
and by his understanding stretched out the heavens.
13 When he utters his voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens,
and he makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth.
He makes lightning for the rain,
cand he brings forth the wind from his storehouses.
14 Every man is stupid and without knowledge;
every goldsmith is put to shame by his idols,
for his images are false,
hand there is no breath in them.
15 They are worthless, a work of delusion;

 

I hope that you will consider listening to these two sermons on the first two commandments.  Very thought provoking.

http://crbc.us/media_events/953-The-First-Commandment

http://crbc.us/media_events/954-The-Second-Commandment

 

For more information on biblical teaching of the commandments, visit CRBC.us.