Dead Men Walking

Hello friends! I know, it’s been a while. There have been some pretty crazy changes going on in my life. If you recall, my husband and I are expecting our first baby (it’s a girl!) in July, so I’ve had a lot going on, but I really wanted to share this with you…

I’m currently 21 weeks, and during this pregnancy there have been certain times where I’ve had some pretty strange dreams. But none stick out more prominently, than the one I had early in my second trimester, because it seemed to have spiritual significance.

In this dream, I was in a town, where everybody was dead, but they didn’t know it. They were walking around like zombies (without all the gross bodily changes that occur in the sci-fi/fantasy world). They were just trying to go on about their daily routines, but were failing. Oddly enough, some realized that they were dead and wanted to leave this town with me, even trying to take some of their children with them, but the other dead people tried their best to prevent them from leaving.

For the next couple days I pondered this dream and realized, this is reality. We walk by people who are dead in their sin every day. They just don’t know it!

In fact, Ephesians 2:1-3 states that we were all dead in our sins, walked in disobedience, and lived according to the desires of our flesh (we did what felt good/right in our own eyes); and Romans 8:7 says we were actually actively/willfully hostile to God. But God…

But God, being [so very] rich in mercy, because of His great and wonderful love with which He loved us, even when we were [spiritually] dead and separated from Him because of our sins, He made us [spiritually] alive together with Christ (for by His grace—His undeserved favor and mercy—you have been saved from God’s judgment). And He raised us up together with Him [when we believed], and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, [because we are] in Christ Jesus, [and He did this] so that in the ages to come He might [clearly] show the immeasurable and unsurpassed riches of His grace in [His] kindness toward us in Christ Jesus [by providing for our redemption]. ~ Ephesians 2: 4-7, Amplified

God gives us new LIFE, hope, joy, and peace! This isn’t to say that there won’t be tough days or troubles/obstacles in our life, but that He’ll be with us every step of the way; if only we’ll believe and accept Him as Lord and Savior. There’s hope for the walking dead, found only in Christ Jesus.

But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!” ~ Romans 10:14-15, NLT

So, who are the dead men/women walking in our lives? Could it be our co-worker, our classmate, or relative? Could it be our neighbor, our doctor, or cashier?

May we be the bringers of good news!! May we guard our tongue and speak truth in love. May our actions line up with our words and beliefs. And may we boldly proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ wherever we go!

Advertisements

The Gift of Life

Good morning, my beautiful readers! Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything, but I have a really good excuse this time! I’m pregnant! Currently, 13 weeks and 2 days.

I was working two jobs when my husband and I discovered we’d be expecting–the day after Thanksgiving, lol–but I quit my part-time position in December, after the holidays had subsided, and the only thing preventing me from sharing with y’all has been the fatigue and nausea associated with the first trimester. I have been feeling a little better the last few days, so hopefully, I can continue where we left off.

This morning, on my way in to work, God and I were having this really long conversation. I was talking to Him about my pregnancy and the baby; my marriage and relationship with my husband; my friends and family who are also expecting; and my friends who’ve recently given birth, and their marriages. Then I started thanking Him for the life He’s given me and here’s where I started to break down a little.

If you’ve read my testimony, you understand why I began getting so emotional. There was once a time in my life where I didn’t see a baby as a precious gift, but as an inconvenience. I’ve since then recognized my flawed thinking and repented of my sins and failures, but to be in the position that I am now…is overwhelming, to say the least. God’s not only given me new life through His Son Jesus Christ, but now He’s giving me new life in the form of a baby; and that just goes to show how forgiving, loving, and merciful and generous He is.

This Friday, January 27th, is the March for Life in D.C. Last year I got snowed out, and this year I won’t be able to make it just due to the fact that that’s a lot of walking and I’m not prepared for it in my current state (my body has been so achy, lately, since everything is shifting inside). However, if you can make it, I encourage you to do so. I’ll be praying for your safety and that God speaks clearly through you. Don’t forget that there are people on both sides of this issue and we all need to see God’s love and truth through you; we need our talk to be seasoned with grace at all times.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:1, ESV

Lastly, I just want to say…we serve a great GREAT God and I don’t know where I would be without Him. If you are, or ever have been, where I once was, or you don’t have a personal relationship with Christ, and you want to know more, submit a comment below and I’ll be sure to respond with love and grace. I love you all, because God loves us all, and gave up His one and only Son for us so that we might have eternal life with Him…all of us.

Take care and God bless!

Unplug – part 2

Back in December I wrote a post about learning to unplug. In that post I was focused on unplugging from technology, but today, I want to focus more on scheduling quiet time for privately studying the Word, prayer, and worship.

Today, upon reviewing past journal entries during my personal quiet time, I noticed a pattern, and from this pattern, God reminded me of something very important.

First, I realized that every few months I schedule these days—often mornings—of quiet solitude and prayer, out of necessity. I find that I’m forced to schedule such days because I’m exhausted, depressed, and unmotivated. I don’t want to get out of bed, I don’t want to go to work, and I don’t want to be around people. I become short-tempered, refuse to answer my phone, and I don’t want to talk to anybody. I’ve finally come to the realization that if I just scheduled these quiet times more often, I wouldn’t have to take an entire day off from work to rest.

I study the Word, I pray, and I attend church and bible studies regularly, but these quiet moments are worth so much more to me because I’m not rushed, there’s no one around to interrupt me, and I’m focused on only one thing—pouring my heart out to God and listening for His voice. My prayers during these times resemble a conversation one would have with an intimate counselor or closest friend. These are the moments in which I confide my deepest fears and struggles, ask clarifying questions, and seek direction. And I hear His voice!

These moments are so precious to me. He comforts me, covers me with peace, reassures and corrects me, and points the way. And so I question, why don’t I schedule these moments every evening, when I come home from work? Why don’t I release everything over to Him and let Him renew and refresh me, every day?

The truth is, life is hectic. It’s busy and stressful and we’re often consumed by the next activity, the next meeting or party, or the next thing on our to-do list. We’re easily distracted and focused on so many other things that we often neglect the most important thing. More important than the relationships with the people around us, more important than our job, more important than whatever we have planned to do, is the relationship we have with our heavenly Father. I don’t know about you, but I can’t do life alone; I need His presence with me wherever I go and in whatever I do. It’s time we stop pretending we can get by without Him! If we think that we can get by on a few crumbs we receive on Sunday mornings, or Wednesday nights, or the scraps we pick up elsewhere, we’re sadly mistaken. It’s what we do in our personal time to deepen our relationship with Christ that satisfies, strengthens, and changes us.

Second, as I realized that this is what I needed to do, God reminded me that it’s what we all need to do. Whether we have a secular job or work in a ministry setting, God desires these quiet moments with each of us to remind us Who He is, to recharge and refresh us, and to change our perspective about our lives in terms of His kingdom. God wants to do amazing things in and through us for the glory of His Name, and if we’re distracted by our desire and plans, we can’t see the bigger picture and what His desires and plans are. If we’re exhausted and stressed out because of our over commitments, traditions, and lifestyle, then when God calls us to do something, are we willing to be used with joyful heart? Or are we too tired? Too grumpy? Too distracted by all the other things on our to-do list?

To conclude, I recommend we all take a good, hard look at what our current commitments and lifestyle looks like, and make a purposeful stance to schedule absolute alone time with our heavenly Father. If this means heading to our car for an hour, hiding in our prayer closet, locking our bedroom or bathroom door, or heading to a secluded spot in a park, so be it. We need this time with God, our Father, as much as we need food or water, and honestly, many of us are slowly dying of hunger and dehydration. Let’s stop making excuses, and give God the very best of our lives, time, and resources, instead of the leftovers.

As Michael Catt says in his study, Refresh: The Road to Revival, “What we bring to God is a reflection of what we think of Him.” What are our lives reflecting?

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside still waters.

He restores my soul.

He leads me in paths of righteousness

for His Name’s sake.

~ Psalm 23:1-3, ESV

Actions are Louder than Words

IMG_3454January 22, 2016 was the March for Life event in Washington, D.C. A group of friends and I planned to participate, however, due to the expected amount of snowfall in the area we decided not to risk traveling in the snow and getting stuck anywhere.

In a previous post I mentioned that this would be the year for action. This is the year where I stop talking about doing things and actually step outside my comfort zone and DO them. March for Life was meant to be the first of this year’s actions and I was prepared to share that with you, however, it appears it will have to wait another year.

If you’ve read my testimony you would understand why March for Life was something I really wanted to be a part of. Every year I say I want to go, but only this year did I mark it on my calendar, take the day off from work, put money on my Metro pass, and gather a group of like-minded friends who were willing to make the trip up north with me. We even waited until the very last minute to cancel because we were so committed to participating in this event.

But honestly, our passion shouldn’t end here.

Not only should we be ready for whatever else is occurring this year, we should be ready to reach out to the people we come into contact with every day! Our local pregnancy center hosts events practically every month (ex. April 21st is their Empowering Life Gala) and I’m sure we all know someone in our lives—a single mom, an unwed mother, a pregnant teen, etc.—who could benefit from just having someone walk with them through life.

During our Monday night Bible study we were discussing Mark 9, when Jesus takes Peter, James, and John with Him to the mountain top and is transfigured before them. When they came down from the mountain they found the remaining disciples arguing with a crowd over their inability to cast out a demon from a man’s son. In reference to this, the author of our study, Michael Catt, made the statement: “Disciples aren’t made to live on mountaintops. We are made for valleys.” Which, in turn, reminded me of saying that goes, “He’s so heavenly minded that he’s no earthly good.”

How often we forget that when we talk about things such as abortion, orphans, or adoption, we’re talking about real people with real struggles. It’s great to talk about change and to take action regarding the big picture, but what the smaller picture; what about the actual people? We can’t stay high on the mountain top with our beliefs and opinions, and not reach out to the people in the valley. As it is now, if a woman becomes pregnant and decides to abort, people become angry because she’s taking a life. If a woman becomes pregnant and decides to give the child up for adoption, people become angry because she’s not keeping her child. And if a woman becomes pregnant and decides to keep the child, people shun her for having a child out of wedlock. This isn’t how we’re meant to show Christ’s love!

We must remember that we all make mistakes and we can encourage right choices, but most importantly, we can be there for that woman in her pain, her fear, her shame, and confusion (because believe me, these are often emotions she’ll struggle with). She may think it’s impossible to bring a child into this world, and we’re meant to show her that it’s not; it may be difficult, but it’s not impossible.

God has called us to action, to live in the valleys, to walk side-by-side with the lost, hurting, and broken, and to direct them to the Mountain of Christ. In every situation may our actions speak louder than words.

High Stakes

I finished the book of Romans, and have begun 1 Corinthians, this week. I’ve decided that I really like keeping a journal when I study the Word of God, because it helps me remember what I’m reading, which in turn, helps me understand and apply it. Well, this is what I’ve been mulling over for the past few days…

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple. (1 Corinthians 3:16-17 ~ NIV)

I’ve always taken these verses in the literal or physical sense, as in the Holy Spirit lives within us and therefore, we shouldn’t do any harm to our physical bodies and neither should others harm us, because God will have His revenge. But when I read the same verses in the Amplified Bible, it took on even deeper meaning.

Do you not discern and understand that you are God’s temple (His sanctuary), and that God’s Spirit has His permanent dwelling in you [to be at home in you, collectively as a church and also individually]? If anyone does hurt to God’s temple or corrupts it [with false doctrines] or destroys it, God will do hurt to him and bring him to the corruption of death and destroy him. For the temple of God is holy (sacred to Him) and that [temple] you [the believing church and its individual believers] are. (1 Corinthians 3:16-17 ~ Amplified)

EpistlesPaul’s epistle (letter) to the church at Corinth, wasn’t just talking about our physical bodies. He was also talking in the spiritual sense of harm and corruption to the individual believer and to the church as a whole!

These verses made me realize (again) how careful we must be as teachers—and sharers—of God’s Word, to stick to His Truth and not tell others things that they want to hear, just because we’re afraid of what they might say to us, how they may treat us, or what they may think of us, because we will be held accountable! And if we didn’t get the hint with these verses, the Word tells us the same thing elsewhere…

    • But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. (Matthew 12:36)
    • You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine. (Titus 2:1)
    • Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Timothy 4:16)

I believe I’ve mentioned before about how teachers will be held at a higher standard, because we “should know better” (James 3:1-6). As we should! After all, there are souls at stake!

Because I love the people around me and because I value the Bible as the VERY Words of God, I cannot, in good conscience, tell someone that it’s okay to live a certain way or commit a certain act, when I know that it’s sin–per the Word of God–and will ultimately lead to their complete and utter separation from God! I’m not passing judgment; I’m stating Biblical fact/Truth. This is me being loving because I don’t want anybody to be severed from the love of God. I want every one of my readers to come to the knowledge of Christ. To recognize their (our) need for a Savior!

For some reason the world encourages us  to warn people of the danger of being embarrassed, and the danger of being physically, emotionally, or financially injured; but for some reason, it discourages us from warning others of spiritual danger—the most important and destructive threat to our very souls! This life is temporary (extremely short); but eternity is forever. I want every one of you to spend eternity in heaven, but I also understand—according to the Truth found in the Word (the Bible)—that God can’t commune (connect or establish a relationship) with us as long as there’s sin in our lives. In fact, the Word says that as long as there’s sin in our lives, we are actually enemies of God (James 4:4).

Yet, even so, God still desires a relationship with us! As it says in Romans, “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (verses 5:7-8). Can you imagine dying for your enemy? THAT’S love. (Jesus did all the work; all we have to do is repent–turn away from our sin and turn towards God–to receive the precious gift of eternal life and a relationship with the giver of life, the God of creation, the lover of our souls!)

Okay, so now you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Everybody makes mistakes and everybody sins and they should just be free to make their own choices.” (I know this because I’ve heard it repeated and asked over and over again.) Sure. Fine. But I’m not going to encourage anybody to make bad and/or sinful choices. I’ll continue to encourage them to do just the opposite; to make wise choices. Because isn’t that really, what love is about? Being there for the individual, speaking truth and encouraging them to live holy lives, pleasing to God (Hebrews 10:24)? That’s what I want for my younger sisters, my parents, my friends. I understand that ultimately, it’s their decision. I can lead a horse to water—in this case, I’m talking Living Water—but I can’t make them drink.High Stakes

Make sure the words from your mouth and pen are spoken in love and truth. Make sure you hold true to the standard that God provides us with through the Bible. If God says that He’ll respond to our actions in a particular manner, don’t accuse Him of bluffing. This isn’t a poker game (and if it were, our souls are mighty high stakes to be playing with)! If He said it, He meant it! I get the feeling that we think that God will change His mind in regards to sin. “Oh, but He loves us, how could He condemn us?!” His Word says He can and He will. We will stand before Him and be held accountable (Matthew 12:36-37; Romans 2:5; 2 Peter 2:4-9, 3:7 ). The questions we should be asking ourselves are: will we have Christ defending us (Revelations 12:10)? Is Christ our rock and our foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11; Ephesians 2:19-20)? Is He our covering (Galatians 3:26-27; Romans 13:14)? Our life’s purpose (Mark 16:15; Philippians 1:21)? And is our life a testimony (evidence) of the One Who saves us (Acts 26:20; Romans 6:12-13; Hebrews 10:26-27; James 2:17; Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 4: 22-24; 1 Peter 1:22; Revelations 12:11)?

As Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, “I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you” (1 Corinthians 4:14).

Awakening

I’ve been trying to think of the best way to broach this subject, without making light of the grief associated with such tremendous loss of innocent life, which occurred on Friday, December 14, 2012. My heart goes out the individuals and families involved and associated with these events; and you are in my prayers.

That being said…As I drove home from work on Friday, after briefly hearing what was taking place in Connecticut, I had the strong urge/desire/need to read my Bible. As you know, I’ve been studying the book of Romans and decided early last week, to really take my time studying this book, because there are just so many important topics worth discussing. I’ve been writing it all down in a notebook so that I can discuss these various topics at a later date, but during Friday’s studying/reading I covered Romans 1:18-25. Today, we’re going to focus on the first two verses.

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. (Romans 1:18-19)

As I read these verses, I couldn’t help but think of all the wicked and godless things that I’ve been seeing in the news over the past few weeks. From stolen nativity scenes, billboards claiming the story of Christ to be a myth, and churches approving of homosexuality (and allowing them to take leadership positions within the church). As well as what’s been splashed across our media for the past few years regarding pornography, human trafficking, child molestation, abortion, rape, murder, divorce, and sex outside of marriage (including adultery, prostitution, and casual sex).

We live in a nation that refuses to acknowledge that God has full authority over all. A nation that wants to remove God from everything: our schools, our government, our money, basically our everyday lives. A nation that doesn’t want to take responsibility for its actions; and therefore, refuses to acknowledge the fact that there is a God. Because to do so means that we must be held accountable to the laws which He’s established.

I have a newsflash for you, whether you believe that there is a God who maintains full authority or you don’t; it doesn’t change the fact that God is real, that He loves us and He sent His son to die for us. If we choose not to believe and choose to live a life of rebellion and of personal satisfaction and gain, we will be held accountable.

The numerous accounts of violence against others and self that have occurred within the last few years, as well as fires, car accidents, natural disasters (hurricanes, tornadoes, famines, typhoons, tsunamis, earthquakes, forest fires, and floods), our failing economy, threats and rumors of nuclear and biological war….are not entirely separate from our reaction to God and His commands. The more we chase the things this world has to offer, rather than the cross; the more we try to deny His existence, rather than proclaim His glory; the more innocent children we slaughter in the womb, rather than being grateful for the blessedness of life;  the more we try to create God into the image of man, rather than striving to become more like Him (check out Romans 1:22-23)…the worse our circumstances will become.

Unfortunately, this is to be expected. We know, as believers, that according to God’s word, that things will become even more terrible before His return (I am always thinking about Christ’s return (even more so lately, as we’ve been celebrating Advent and Christmas); and since we don’t know when Jesus will return we need to be prepared at all times and we should be sharing His Truth and love with everyone who crosses our path!

However, just because we’re living in the end times, and we know that wickedness will continue to grow, doesn’t mean that we ought to just sit back and let it happen! There will still be times of revival and awakening in our nation and churches. Remember the days of kings such as Hezekiah and Josiah, and the many prophets whose words can still be read in our Bibles today (and even the Great Awakenings of the early 1700, 1800, and 1900s). Before Israel/Judah’s fall, God gave His people chance after chance to serve Him; and awakenings and revivals were common during that age (don’t believe me? Read 2 Kings).

We, the church, need to stop sitting on the fence and standing on the sidelines, and we need to be proactive (instead of reactive) by sharing and living out our convictions before it’s too late; before our Assyrian and Babylonian armies come in to take us apart, and before Christ’s return. As of right now, there are so many that aren’t standing upon God’s word and aren’t living as He called us to, and unfortunately, some of these individuals are simply being deceived and following their wicked leaders; but the truth remains that they won’t be joining us in heaven. Never stop speaking truth in love.

You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:6-13)

Perfect Storm

While finishing up the book of Acts today–chapters 27-28–I read about Paul being sent to Rome as a prisoner. Paul’s entire story amazes me and once I find the time, I really want to study more about his life; but in these two, final chapters of Acts, that which impresses me most, is Paul’s ability to remain calm while sailing through a hurricane.

After reading it, I sat here wondering to myself, “If God wanted Paul to go to Rome (which He did, according to Acts 23:11), then why did He allow a hurricane to delay his arrival and put 276 passengers at risk?” A few different answers came to mind…

First, just because God calls us to do something or go somewhere, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be easy to do. Sometimes there are obstacles and/or battles that we must face before we can move forward. And storms, such as these, prepare us for even bigger storms/obstacles that we might face in the future. Therefore, we must persevere and allow the storms of life to strengthen and mature us; otherwise we’ll never be strong/mature enough to handle the greater things God throws our way!

Second, sometimes we go through storms as a test of faith. Paul passed this test with flying colors! He knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God was going to bring him through this storm safely, so he didn’t let it freak him out! He was actually the one trying to calm down the rest of the crew and forcing them to eat, since they’d been so worried about their predicament that they hadn’t really eaten in two weeks (Acts 27: 33-34).

Third, sometimes we go through storms for the sake of the people around us. Paul’s reaction to this storm greatly impressed the people around him. They saw that Paul had great faith in God, that he could foretell things that would happen next, and they were encouraged by him. They were taking Paul’s advice by the end of their journey!

I wish I had Paul’s faith! Even though I know that God is in control, I know I’d be anxious if I were facing Paul’s storm. Facing the storms of life are no easy task. Most of the time, the people around you can’t see what you’re facing, and you feel alone, scared, lost, ashamed, or sad. I faced my own reoccurring storm recently (that’s why there was such a gap between my posts) and the winds continue to blow harder and the waves keep getting bigger, with each storm; but I keep moving forward; I keep persevering. I KNOW what God’s word says, even though I feel differently during these times; but, I know that feelings can be deceiving, so I stay grounded in His promises. Lastly, I know that because the storms keep getting bigger and meaner, I’m growing and maturing in the way God intends; which, can only mean that He has something big planned for me. So please keep me in your prayers and I’ll keep you in mine.

Take care and God bless!

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)