Christian Living, faith

It’s Not the Ending

Luke 24:12 But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.

I read Luke 24:12 early this morning. The part that jumped out to me was “but Peter rose and ran.”

He ran.

Peter is my favorite Bible character. I identify well with him. I wondered for a moment why he ran, but the others did not when hearing the women. What caused Peter to not just shrug off what he heard?

I get Peter, at least to some degree. I’ve always had a boldness to me. And yet, I’ve battled with insecurity. I would likely be the first to try walking on water with Jesus (Yeshua) and I’d be quick to sink, too. Not focusing on the wind and waves around me is a discipline I’ve had to fight to master.

Could it be true? Is there really hope? Is there more than just some fond memories?

I’ll bet Peter wondered hard about that. Seeing so many miracles, only to watch the person that said, “Follow me” (and you did, leaving it all)….be crucified. We know how the story ends. For a while there they didn’t. I can’t even imagine the grief. The despair. The disbelief.

So that’s how it ends?

It’s not the ending.

Something in Peter hoped that. I would run too at top speed. There has to be more.

And there is.

The message I sense God wanting me to share here is simple, but life changing for those who are meant to read it.

It’s not the ending. There is more.

You may be facing circumstances that are utterly hopeless in the natural. You may be deeply hurting. Perhaps grieving. Hear me: God already wrote the story. It’s not over until He says so.

I’ve been a believer for 25+ years now. I’ve seen and experienced a few things during this time. A man my mother knew that was so hardened and foul mouthed, just 2 years later get sober, clean up his mouth and his life and teach Bible studies at a church. A woman who got high almost every night becoming clean, praising God. A lady who was a missionary in South Africa, suffering a massive stroke. They told her she’d be dead in a day or two. She’s alive 20 years later.

God is looking for people who will believe His word and live like it. Those who will see with eyes of the Spirit no matter what the physical eyes see or don’t see. Those who unwaveringly stand on His promises.

I’d like to tell you I’m perfect at this but I’m not. However, I’m sincerely trying. I want to be like Peter. The version after he denied Jesus. The one who gets a love and mercy that’s so beautiful it’s worth more than life itself. Someone that will step out in faith regardless of what it looks like and no matter what opinions others have of me.

What happens when we let perfect love cast out fear? Peter. Father, help me believe. Help me never lose hope. May I run to that empty tomb knowing without any doubt who I am because of who you are.

I love you Lord.

Matthew 16:18 ESV And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Acts 4:13 ESV Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.

Christian Living, faith

Seal of Love

Song of Solomon 8:6 Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord.

I’ve been learning what love is in a deeper, greater way than I could have ever imagined. Yes, God is love (see 1 John 4:8.) And yes, I serve Him and call Him Lord and Savior. But I went through most of my adult life as a believer not knowing what love was. So many do.

I’m finally getting what love is.

I think my revelation of who God is and what the very essence of love is about started with me discovering what love is not.

Numbers 23:19 God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?

Growing up in abuse and dysfunction created a distorted view of what love-and being a parent-is. I, like so many others, had little to go on. I could joyfully and completely call God my Savior. I embraced with total abandon Jesus and the cross. But calling Him Father was difficult. Even painful. Perhaps that’s why I made a deliberate effort to call God Abba and know Him in that way.

But I learned what love is (outside of the Bible) mostly from being a mother.

I vividly remember giving birth to my oldest son, worried that I might not feel bonded or connected. What if I didn’t love him? It just came. There’s been struggles as my son’s autism has progressed, but I’ve never not loved.

Love is sacrifice.

It is when I became a mother that I started understanding the sacrifice love involves. I have died so many times to what I want and even need so they can have and be happy. I am not saying true love means giving to the point of depletion. A person can love without diminishing themselves.

Love means giving.

I never realized before how much selfishness I had. I had unintentionally responded to the pain from my childhood and adult situations with an attitude of “it’s my turn.” I genuinely cared about others.

But I didn’t really love. Perhaps it was an immature form.

In this new season of life my Abba is revealing Himself to me in a special, intimate way. With it comes a greater love for others. This has led to a new level of forgiveness. It’s totally humbled me to see love in this perspective.

I pray for every person reading this that you would know what love is in a genuine, real way. Love is God. There’s no greater love than knowing the Creator and Savior. Becoming a parent helped me to finally connect how God sees, disciplines, and grows us.

I didn’t solve a huge mystery. I haven’t built anything impressive or solved any complex problem. But I’ve discovered something that has changed my life and meant more to me than anything else.

I know love. I am loved and I love. I am blessed.

Christian Living, faith

Wisdom Calls

Proverbs 8:1 Does not wisdom call? Does not understanding raise her voice?

The word wisdom just seems fitting for my season of life, not to mention the world around me. Never before has knowledge been so accessible. And yet, we are having to discern what is “real” and “fake” news. What actually has merit and is worth our time? What is true, authentic, and trustworthy?

Currently I’m in a new job absorbing knowledge as fast as I can. But with that comes the question: how do I apply what I know?

As I have been processing my new responsibilities I’ve also chewed a bit on Marty Sampson’s recent declaration. For those unfamiliar, he was a worship leader for Hillsong Australia for many years. He wrote some of the most frequently sung worship songs in churches. And now, he’s renounced his faith and doubts just about everything.

Wisdom calls.

There’s many things I could say, and have, about this. It helps tremendously to understand Torah and the culture. The parable of the soils. Being ready to give answers to tough questions. Study to show ourselves approved.

What or who are we listening to? Whose call do we answer?

I believe God is always speaking. Not necessarily with words, but in some way of communication. It comes down to whether or not we recognize His voice. His provision. The subtle themes playing out in our life. The same verses coming to us. Running into someone. The peace in our hearts or the check in our spirits.

Yes, there’s a place to ask for wisdom about something specific. But there’s also this…

Proverbs 3:6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

When we acknowledge YHVH in all of our ways, He directs or makes straight our paths. And I firmly believe He is speaking through it all. Every day in the details-big and small.

I’m challenging myself to hear the voice of wisdom better. Those Spirit nudges. People like Marty, ultimately, chose to entertain other voices. We each have to decide who we will listen to. But just like 2+2=4 and cannot equal something else, the same is with truth. It just is. We can embrace it or reject it but truth is still truth.

Wisdom calls, and it’s found in His Word. Too often we reject what we don’t understand vs trying to study and learn. My personal challenge is to study more in depth as time allows. I want to be ready not just for the Marty’s out there, but for myself. I pray that I always answer wisdom’s call, and when I don’t that the Ruach (Spirit) corrects me.

Father, may I hear Your voice above all others.

Proverbs 9:10 ESV The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

Christian Living, faith

Offsetting Penalties

Matthew 7:5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

About a week ago I listened to a very powerful teaching video on YouTube about forgiveness. Both my husband and I watched it and were ministered to for various reasons.

Forgiveness is an easy thing to say, but not always so easy to do.

What is true, biblical forgiveness?

Psalm 103:12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

Proverbs 17:9 Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.

Matthew 6:15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

As Dov Wiseman (the preacher in the video) pointed out, we first see the word forgive in this Bible passage…

Genesis 50:17 ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.”‘ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him.

Forgiveness according to God is removing our sins as far as the east is from the west.

They never touch.

But what if we don’t? How does God see it?

God gave me an interesting picture the other day in prayer. It was a yellow penalty flag as used in football. Later that evening my husband shared his struggles to forgive his father. I saw, as I was listening, that yellow flag again.

Huh.

What was God saying? My mind then landed on the term “offsetting penalty.”

Here’s a little tidbit from the NFL rulebook: A Double Foul is a foul by each team during the same down and includes any multiple foul by either team, including dead ball fouls.

Generally speaking (there are exceptions), when there’s Double Fouls (even with multiple infractions on both sides) the penalties offset and the down is replayed (a do-over.)

After a few minutes the light bulb went off. I understood what God was saying.

When we are wronged, we expect God to judge on our behalf. Yes, He is just and He will deal with people as needed. However, because He is just we cannot expect one penalty to be ignored while the other is enforced.

How many times are we wronged and we also are in the wrong? Or wrong them back by our actions? Sometimes the bitterness in our hearts can last for years while an offense lasted a few minutes.

The bottom line is…we cannot be hypocrites. We can’t hold a grudge and expect God to favor us in our sins and shortcomings while virtually smiting someone else.

Offsetting penalties.

In my own personal life, God revealed to me in a way I could grasp that any bitterness I choose to have is like this. Whatever “they” have done, I have done (and perhaps more so) too. They offset. I have no grounds to hold a penalty against them. Even if (as in the case of Joseph) I did no wrong, I still cannot withhold forgiveness. I must forgive because I am not sinless. I have a past and it’s not all sparkles and glitter.

I took the time to write this solely to help you. I think the biggest barrier to forgiveness is pride. We think the other person is wrong, awful, or undeserving. But we are justified and wonderful. We deserve better. Boundaries are healthy and needed in relationships but we can’t refuse to forgive. God forgives as we forgive. If we don’t the Bible says we are not forgiven.

Ask the Father to show you any bitterness you might have in your heart. Give up the need for a penalty. None of us are perfect. Never forget what you have need to be forgiven of.

Just replay the down in love.

Christian Living, faith

The House

John 5:6 KJV When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?

My early childhood years was spent in a house that looked similar to this photo I found. The home was built in the early 1900s. There’s tremendous history there. The walls of that house witnessed so much life. Births. Deaths. Heartache. Sickness. Sin. Addiction.

My mother’s parents moved there back in the 1940s. They were alcoholics. My grandfather was a successful business owner with his hand in politics. He had quite the collection of memorabilia. A law book signed by Abraham Lincoln. Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower items. Some letters. My mother later took up interest in politics, having a proudly displayed letter from Robert Kennedy along with other Kennedy items.

Secrets.

But this house had dark sides to it. Very dark. A cousin was shot in the arm upstairs. She later committed suicide. An uncle was murdered there by some guys he got in a bar fight with earlier. It’s where my grandfather would beat up my grandmother. Where they both would drink gin like it’s water. That house witnessed my mother’s sexual abuse and psychotic meltdowns.

And yet…

With all of the horrors and terrible memories that house provided my mother, she didn’t want to move. It was a strange type of security blanket for her. Growing up I felt the spiritual atmosphere. It was so utterly intense. Shortly before moving out to live with my dad, I became a Christian. I had used up plenty of oil anointing things and praying over each room. I was just a teenager, but I knew something was off.

Why wouldn’t she move?

Opportunities to move came up. My mother never took them. Instead, she told almost everyone she’d meet how she was the “adult child” of an alcoholic. She was abused. Mistreated. Her life was hard (and it was.) She had health issues (which became worse when she decided to chain smoke.)

Do you want to be well?

I asked my mother that a couple of times. Of course, I didn’t get positive responses. But I wondered why she stayed. Why she wanted to hold onto something that represented so much pain and trauma. Why?

My mother’s identity was in her bondage.

She didn’t know how to be-and was scared of being-whole. Her fear was in healing. I resented her for years for being this way. Now I understand. She did the sickness role well. Could she be whole…well?

Sometimes we don’t know how to be whole so it’s more comfortable to stay sick.

This isn’t to shame those who are ill. It’s to say that sometimes, sometimes, we don’t really want to be made whole.

Sometimes we identify with bondage more than with freedom.

I’ve had to take some serious, prayerful looks at my own life. With the Spirit’s help I’ve seen areas in the past where I was choosing the security blanket of pain. As strange as it sounds, it can seem safer-or easier-to ache than to heal. Healing can hurt, but being healed doesn’t.

Today, I want to encourage you to ask God with brokenness if there’s any area of your life that you are not letting God heal or deliver. My mother’s house was extreme, but I’ve discovered many people have their own “houses.” Things that they hold onto that serve no purpose other than to hold them back.

For a few of you reading this, it may have been a long time. Hear the Savior ask, “Will you be made whole?”

God will heal you but you have to let Him. Let Him. Surrender.

Christian Living, faith

I Taught You Love

Job 10:12 You have granted me life and steadfast love, and your care has preserved my spirit.

“I taught you love.”

That’s what I heard in my spirit as I was watching a piercing teaching. The message was on forgiveness and love. I regularly watch teachings and read passages on bitterness and love to keep my heart clean. I had a vulnerable moment with Abba. As I was listening to the preacher, my mind replayed some situations. Sins and mistakes. Before long I was feeling down.

The purpose.

Then God put something in me so strongly. I knew in a way greater than before my struggles had purpose. Every stumble brought me here now.

Psalm 119:71 It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.

I learned His law of love. Repentance isn’t just tears. It’s changing and offering teshuvah. Forgiveness isn’t just saying so. It’s choosing to love and cancel the debt. Sin has consequences, even when there’s forgiveness. Love isn’t always easy. It’s often uncomfortable. It costs. Never demanding its own way.

The love of God is the most amazing revelation I’ve ever had. I get something that touches the deepest parts of my being.

He never left me.

To love means to not forsake.

If I could go back, I’d do things differently. Better. But since I can’t, I can do the next best thing. I can be the person I should’ve been. These past few years taught me many lessons. But the one that brings me to tears-happy tears-is this.

I’ve learned what love is.

I’ve sincerely and passionately prayed for those who broke my heart. I’ve given when it cost me dearly. I’ve blessed those who cursed me. Don’t give me a pat on the back. I don’t deserve it or want it.

I’m simply writing this to encourage others who are hurting. I know life is hard. God uses the hard and breaks us and molds us until we resemble Him.

I wanted to be as the other sheep, running around carefree and happy. And I am now. But for a season, the Shepherd had to carry me. I missed out on some things. I don’t mind though.

He taught me love. And He wants to teach you too. Let Him.

Christian Living, faith

Presumptuous Sin

Psalm 19:13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.

Deuteronomy 17:13 And all the people shall hear and fear and not act presumptuously again.

Definition I found online: Presume is usually used when you suppose based on probability, while assume is used when you suppose without any evidence.

I haven’t been blogging as much on purpose. God has been speaking to me and I’ve been soaking in His words and listening. You can’t listen and speak at the same time. At least I sure can’t. Surprisingly to me, God has been strongly convicting me of a sin I didn’t know I was even doing.

Presumption.

Presuming is supposing based on probability. Assuming is supposing from more of a blind guess. But both words are synonyms and have something powerful in common: making a judgment.

John 7:24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”

I’m on the other side of the healing process for the most part. It’s still a process, but I’ve experienced a lot of it. I’ve discovered something.

Wounded people tend to be more sensitive.

For a long time I prided myself in a way with my hypervigilance. I saw it as discerning or wise. But what I was really doing was judging by appearances vs right judgment. I was making suppositions.

  • That resembles something from the past so it must be so.

Or…

  • That feels like how I felt before so it must be identical.

I am a discerning person. But my flesh gets in the way sometimes. I now see that. About a year ago I pulled away from someone assuming, based on something said, that they wanted more from the friendship than I could give.

“I have so much on my plate. I can’t give them what they want. Maybe it’s best I pull back.”

My thought at the time. So I withdrew. When they approached me, expressing hurt, we talked it out. I realized my presumptuous sin. What they wanted and needed I could give.

Small acts of love are big in people’s lives.

I’ve learned I can do small things with great love and make a huge difference. I don’t have to pour 200% of myself into someone, burning myself out. I can give a smile, a kind word, or do a small favor and be a good friend.

Do not judge by appearances…or fear.

Not everything is how it appears.

Switching gears, the story of Balaam amazes me in that there was fear over the Israelites when they were not seeking war. That fight was not the original intention. But all of the bloodshed and pain came from assumption and presumption.

The spirit of fear.

How often do we-do I-pat ourselves on the back for “discerning” something when we’re in presumptuous sin? For me, it’s been too much in the past. I’ve learned. Thankfully I’ve grown.

Today, I want to encourage you as God has been encouraging me. Be very careful in presumptions. And don’t ever just assume. We are not to judge solely on how something looks. Yes, we look at fruit (actions.) But we are not to make judgments without trying to gather all needed information and praying about it.

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

God, help us all fear you most. Give us knowledge and wisdom to make righteous judgments. Thank you Father.