The Dark way to the Light

 

A web of lies had led me to where I stood.  Broken. Confused. Scarred.

Many a battle fought—none ever won.

 

It was a raging war inside me.  The struggle to mingle the outside world with the internal desires of my heart. Continue reading “The Dark way to the Light”

Sponge

sponge

I am a sponge.

If you follow Christ, you are too.

I’m not the soap. I’m not the water. I am only an agent. I am the agent, the vessel, between God and the world. I’m just a sponge. The Holy Spirit that lives within my pores intercedes with others for God. I’m only there to be the vessel through which the Holy Spirit works.

But, there is a daily maintenance that I must do in order to stay fresh and able to do my job well. Just like a sponge has to be cleaned, so do we. Continue reading “Sponge”

Father

(another entry)

Thank You, Thank You,

THANK YOU Father!!!

 

For You still loved me

when my heart had failed

 

You still loved me

when in doubt I lived

 

You still loved me

when my heart became

like a stone

 

And You heard my cries,

You brought me to LIFE!!

 

You reached down and

broke away the stones

 

You let the callouses

fall like scales from my heart, and eyes.

 

I live my life for You

from now until eternity!

Thank You, Jesus!

(another entry)

For You know me better than I know myself.

 

You know that it’s hard for me to let go of things that I have done and give them to someone else to handle.  It’s against my nature–against my will.  Because I feel like I should finish things I started.

And it’s no different when it comes to sin.  I don’t want, of my own will, to give it to You, because I don’t want You to have suffered for something I did out of haste and misery and a complaining attitude.  I feel it is my fault and I should bear the consequences of my actions.

But I did not realize all of this until You revealed this to me.  I did not realize why I couldn’t seem to let go of the past, move on, and be a shining light in the world, by the power of the Holy Spirit.  But thank You, Holy Spirit, for speaking into my heart and allowing me to release these burdens once and for all!

Please pour through me and shine Your light through me, and use me to reach out and encourage others.

I love You, I need You! Thank You, Father!  Thank You, Lord Jesus for taking away my shame and my guilt.  Thank You for purifying and cleansing me.

I need Thee every hour of every day!!!

Oh, Lord!

(yet another old journal entry)

How I was sinking

in my own selfish pride.

 

My heart to touch,

I longed for Your Sweet Fellowship.

 

But I was drowning in despair,

Thinking of all the ways I’d become a disgrace.

 

My heart to hold,

I cried out to You.

 

If You are willing, Lord,

I want to be healed.

 

“Are you willing?”

You asked

 

And thinking of the things I’d done,

I pulled back.

Harboring all those feelings of guilt and shame

that I’d brought upon Your Holy Name.

 

I don’t deserve it,

I cried.

 

I can’t stand myself,

I sobbed.

 

But You were there

Ready to take these feelings of inadequacy–

 

Longing to hold me once more.

 

I hid my face and buried myself in the dark

Where I could not feel You.

 

But You were there

Providing for me

Loving me

Caring for me.

Sending Your children my way to light my path back to You.

Thank You, Father!

(another entry from the same journal)

I fell so deep,

I fell so hard.

 

All I could see was darkness surrounding me.

But You lined my heart with that golden thread tethered to You.

 

I never once doubted that You were God.

I never doubted that everything You say is Truth.

I always knew You were the Great I Am.

 

When darkness overtook me, You held me in the palm of Your hand.

My soul cried out in agony.

Every minute that passed by, I couldn’t bear the thought of another minute without You.

But You are the Great Orchestrator!

You had things lined out before I ever reached out and cried for help.

And then

You reached out and met me where I was.

You pulled me from the dark abyss.

You carried me safely to shore.

You surrounded me with people that never gave up on me.  No matter how hard I tried to give up on myself.

You kept instilling hope in me, as hard as I pushed You away.

You tugged on that golden thread and I could see glimpses of You again.

But I’d push You away and crawl back in my hole.

But You never gave up on me!

You put strangers in my path to instill hope in me–to bring forth Your light and let it fall upon me, ever so gently.

God, my Father, my Creator, my Master–I love YOU!

Thank You! I need You every minute of every hour of every day!

Use me, Lord, to do Your will!  Use me, Christ Jesus, to be a light to others who are drowning.  Guard my heart, and place a gate over my mouth.  Do not let me get in Your way.  I surrender myself to You, Oh Lord, use me how You desire.

 

I surrender to You my actions, my thoughts, my body, my soul, my tongue, and my pride.

Help me, Father, to step out of Your way and let You shine!!!

Thank You, Jesus!!

 

 

Come Back Testimony

Here’s an entry from my journal (from when I came back to the Lord last year) that possibly could maybe help someone out there, who is hurting like I was for so long:

 

**Disclaimer:  Although I thought at the time that if I died in the middle of my darkness, I would not be saved, I now believe that to be a complete lie.  However, God works all things to the good of those that love Him and are called according to His purpose.  So, me believing that lie kept me from the edge of the cliff on more than one occasion.  So many times I wanted to go over, but I know now that it was not God that was telling me that I would be sent into the abyss (Hell), but rather, it was a lie of Satan.  Once I was sealed with the Holy Spirit, I was made His, and He will not lose any of those that He saves.

 

 

When my soul feels troubled,

When I’m lost and all alone–

Though there may be a crowd around,

In my soul I feel empty.

I now know why.

I had lost sight of my first Love,

I walked down into the night.

I no longer felt I had hope-

but now–now, I know why.

 

My heart was overburdened,

with guilt and anguish and pain.

Because I had lost focus-

Of my first True Love again.

 

You see, it was all about me–

and what I had done.

A deserter, a pride-filled woman.

But You know all along.

 

Oh, my God, my Lord, my Spirit–

You rescued me in the nick of time!

You poured out Your favor,

You grabbed me in Your mercy.

 

You pulled me from the fire–

A love so Divine.

Not another did I need

to rescue my wandering soul.

 

No, it was You who prodded

me back to a life in You.

 

Although my heart

cried all day and night–

You were there all along,

Keeping me in the palm of Your hand.

Lord God, I need You.

More now than ever before.

 

For I see the way of my folly–

And myself I can trust no more.

 

You’ve taught me by Your gentleness

And let me rebel in my childish ways.

 

But You held me so close,

Never leaving my side.

 

Though I could not feel You,

You held my heart all along.

 

You freely gave grace,

You freely poured out Your mercy.

 

Your lovingkindness is true–

Your faithfulness is unfaltering.

 

My love has failed You,

My faithfulness too.

 

But You restore the brokenhearted,

You give grace to the humble.

 

You lift up those that are hurting,

When they finally turn back to You.

 

Your faithfulness is unending

Your love beyond compare

For what could I do,

All I had was despair.

 

I could do nothing, you see.

Oh men, why do we run?

 

Turn your hearts back to Heaven

and hear from His Throne.

 

I had thought to bring calamity upon myself–

since the pain seemed unending.

“But what good would that do?” You had spoken into my heart.

“For surely there you will perish–why not give it one more try?”

But my heart was so calloused,

So bruised and so stained.

 

I argued and said “but You won’t bring me back again.”

But the Spirit inside me would just not give up.

 

I begged and I pleaded for my heart to be restored.

“Give me a clean heart, Oh, God” I cried out–

Though I thought it was in vain.

 

“Remove the callouses layering my rock-hard heart.

“Break me in pieces, You’ve done it before,” I pleaded,

With a little more belief than before.

“Help me come back to You, my Love, my first True Love.”

 

“Make my heart clay again–

and mold me into Your beloved.

 

“Help me see again–as my eyes have gone blind.”

 

Slowly and surely,

You began to reveal

That I was still Yours.

 

My heart was so hard, but I came willingly to Your throne.

I begged, I pleaded

For You to be my own once again.

 

I needed Your mercy and Your love.

Your compassion, Your Grace,

and all good things from above.

 

It took perseverance–

and I wanted to give up.

But this thread was still attached.

Sometimes I felt it, other times not.

 

The doubts would overwhelm me,

the fears crept out in the morning.

 

I went about my day,

My soul lost wandering.

 

Trying desperately to relieve

the pain that kept growing.

The lost, the lonely, the insolent.

 

I would try to break the monotony of everyday life–

Building, creating, doing.

But not giving freely as You had taught me to do.

 

The pain was sidetracked momentarily–

but kept coming and coming back.

Those thoughts of calamity would come again.

 

“But what good would it do you,” You’d say again.

“Give Me a chance to heal You, to give you rest.”

 

Picking up a habit, I pushed You away, saying

“I can never be forgiven–what I did was too great.

I wish I could, but this pain is just too real.”

 

But somehow You managed

to keep my interest alive.

 

Though I went out and tried for forget the pain,

You kept whispering to me.

Those things I did left me feeling worthless-

More miserable than before.

 

The love I’d known for You

kept drowning in those lies and misery.

 

My heart was so calloused,

I couldn’t even breathe.

My bitterness had robbed me of the joy You gave.

 

But I would cry out to You every day–

although not a faithful prayer.

But there was something I tried to hold onto–

that Hope I couldn’t see.

 

My heart just couldn’t let go.

Leaning on my own understanding,

I’d fallen with a crash.

Though it may have been silent,

as my heart cried out from within.

 

I kept up appearances,

I tried to gain approval from the world around me.

 

But it was so lonely,

Not one knowing the true pain inside.

 

Not one, but You, God.

Oh, my Heavenly Father!

 

You reminded me of the past,

of the Love that I had for You.

 

You reminded me over and over again

of the joy You had filled in me.

 

I took it as a punishment,

instead of being courageous.

 

I cried rivers,

thinking of Essau’s story.

 

I tried to make myself happy

for the time I had left on this earth.

 

Thought of money, of power,

of people who I could impress.

But every thought was empty–

the hope I once had could never be replaced

by things of this earth.

 

In kindness and mercy,

You patiently waited.

And called once again to my calloused heart.

 

You brought me Your Word.

Through perseverance I listened.

As hard as it was, to hear what You might say.

 

“Lean on my knowledge” You quietly replied.

“And you will learn.”

 

So I kept playing sermon after sermon

from only Your Faithful, lest I be deterred.

 

The fear began to fade,

and my eyes began to open.

 

Your love, You showed,

through those that had ministered to me

in the early days of my devotion.

 

I wanted more, and I kept listening.

Through tears and more tissue, I listened at work.

 

I fasted and prayed,

and kept asking for direction.

“Nothing can compare to the love I once had.

“Nothing can replace You,

“the love I’d walked away from.”

 

“Keep listening, My child, I have something for you.”

 

And with determination, I did.

You used this week to minister to my soul,

to show me from the beginning

Where my love had grown cold

and my joy went missing.

 

You sent me encouragement

from Your men of past and present,

men of God, with the One True Faith.

 

You gave me courage

To try again

You gave me strength

to fight from within.

 

The devil came at me,

when he knew Your face i was seeking.

He tried to grab hold, a few more times.

 

But I kept refusing–

only by Your Sovereign hand

could I withstand.

 

I cried and I prayed,

and I called out to You

“Please restore me to the me You once knew.”

 

As the days went by, I could hardly wait.

To get to a place and hear Your Word proclaimed!

 

You stirred in my heart,

You used the ones I trusted to deliver Your Truth.

 

Hour by Hour, and then some more,

I played sermon after sermon, until sleep I could put off no more.

I’d wake and slowly begin to think of the day before.

 

The lies kept at me, “Don’t listen anymore.”

But the yearning in my heart was undeniable!

You, Your word and communion

I had missed so deeply!

 

“I have to know”, I said to myself.

“To keep trying or to give up now.”

I didn’t want to give up,

and I told You so.

I confided my fears to You alone.

 

You urged me to continue

I thought “why not”.

Even if Your Word is not what I wanted to hear,

I needed Your Truth.

 

I needed to know, “is it too late?”

My heart cried out “Can I go back again?”

 

My heart was anxious,

but I asked for reassurance.

I didn’t exactly hear You, but it was evident.

I needed to keep listening. To press on.

 

Whether in the end, I got the confirmation that I should just quit,

or whether You said it was not too late, I needed to know–now.

I just couldn’t keep waiting.

 

Pastor Youssef told me about his journey, and Pastor Rogers spoke of stirring my own heart to find You. Ms Hunt counseled me through another one’s trials. Pastor Stanley gave me the courage to stand back up. Pastor Ravi’s words were encouraging to an empty, wounded heart. And there were others I now know better, who helped me find the strength to keep going. Pastor Laurie, Pastor Schreve. And so many others had words of encouragement and healing to my self-inflicted wounds.

 

Thank You, Father, for arranging this week! Sermons of David, and hope for my heart. Psalm 51 had been my cry for two years, but it was even more so this week. And thanks, Lord, for Dr. David Jeremiah, for the words You spoke into my heart. I will never look at Psalm 23 the same again!

 

What beauty and grace You have bestowed–what mercy You gave to my wandering heart. Pastor Swindoll gave me words of strength, of faith, to hold on. Thank You, Almighty God! My Deliverer!!

 

Father, thank You for the ways which You brought everything together this week. Thank You for reaching to my weary heart and lifting my down-trodden spirit.   Holy Spirit, thank You for being my comforter–and I know You will be with me always, especially in the hours to come. For I know, You, Almighty God, have saved me, and I know that I am Yours! Lord Jesus, Thank You for protecting me and guiding me back and calming the raging storms! Thank You that You shed Your blood on the cross for my transgressions and my inequities. Thank You, God Almighty, for never giving up on me! Please hold me in Your arms and give rest to my fears. Please guard my heart with Your understanding, with Your lovingkindness. Oh, my Lord, I want to follow You and be obedient to Your command. You are my fortress, and within You I am secure. Please direct my steps, and quell my fears. Hold me tight, and comfort me and uplift me. You are my God–whom shall I fear?!

 

Hosea 6 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

 

The Response to God’s Rebuke

6 “Come, let us return to the Lord.

For He has torn us, but He will heal us;

He has [a]wounded us, but He will bandage us.

2 “He will revive us after two days;

He will raise us up on the third day,

That we may live before Him.

3 “So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord.

His going forth is as certain as the dawn;

And He will come to us like the rain,

Like the spring rain watering the earth.”

Restoration

I stumbled upon this today… I wrote this a mere month before coming back to Jesus last year.  My heart was so heavy and I was losing sight of who Jesus even was, which scared me.  I started seeing Him as just another man that walked the face of this earth, not the Son of Man, who was born into this world to save us, who was and is God incarnate.  The One and Only Son of God.  I was getting to the point that everything was getting fuzzy and fading out, and I felt mere seconds away from rejecting Him altogether–which was even scarier than Him not loving me anymore.  I wanted desperately to be in His presence, filled up by Him again.  To be whole and complete in Him.  This was a prayer I wrote out on May 5 2014.  I came back to Him on June 9-10th 2014.  (And was baptized for the first time a mere two weeks later–on June 28th 2014, in front of all of my family and a few friends) 🙂

God is SOOOO good!

Fill Me Jesus

5-5-14

God, help me to rest my soul

In You

Jesus, lay Your hand on me and make me whole

In You

Father, be my light from within

Be my vision to the end

 

Help me see You again,

Help me love You again.

Help me find You again.

 

Jesus, be my guiding light

I live in a world so full of clutter

My shades drawn, no light here.

I don’t know how to reach You

 

I left your side and I know I was wrong

I can’t seem to bring myself back

To the place I once found You.

I don’t know where You are,

Yet You are all around.

 

I see you in others, I see that light I used to have

I long to be Yours again.

Can I, Jesus please? Will you please take me back and make me whole?

God, how I need You. This life isn’t worth living-without You.

 

I feel so lost, wandering to and fro.

I know where I went wrong—please, can I come back?

Help me Father, because I know I’m a sinner.

 

I know I can’t help myself,

Trusting in me I’ll be lost forever.

But with You, through You,

I can be free again. If you will allow me to?

 

I hardened my heart so hard, my neck is so stiff.

But I can’t break my heart myself, I need You.

 

Only You can work miracles.

Only You can help me.

I don’t know what to do

But I know I need You.

 

I know my heart needs cleansing

I know my soul needs purged.

I hate the very steps I walk in—

I want, again, to walk in Yours.

 

Help me Father, help me Please.

I beg you, Jesus, I need You now.

I don’t know what to say or do,

I just want to be filled with You.

 

Cheap Grace vs. Saving Faith

When it comes to the cross, there is a knock-off version.  It looks a lot like a cross, but it really just resembles an “X”

Which stands for:

red x‘you can’t’…..
‘you aren’t allowed to’….
‘this is off-limits’…
‘the law forbids’….

…and it’s usually followed by a saying similar to:

“Oh well, Jesus forgave us anyway.  Let us not worry about the law, but continue in our rebellion so that He can forgive us all the more.”

 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'?" The woman said to the serpent, "From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.'" The serpent said to the woman, "You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." Genesis 3:1-5 NASB 

God had given Adam and Eve tons of good things to choose from, but what did Satan do? At first, Satan made it seem like they were just tormented by God– that they couldn’t eat from ANY of the trees. However, when Eve corrected him, saying it was just the ONE tree, he honed in on that one forbidden fruit.

Never mind the multitudes of trees that were probably in the garden. (Knowing God, He loves to give us good gifts). But Satan doesn’t want Eve to think about all God has done for them. No, he instead makes Eve focus on the ONE thing that God said not to touch. And he was crafty–because he made her be the one to say it. Then, he attacked. He zeroed in and convinced her that it was okay to disobey God, that “you won’t surely die”.

****     ****     ****

But the Father is Love. He told them not to touch it or partake of it because He was protecting them. Not because He hated them and felt like depriving them, mere hours after He had created them. If that is our definition of who God is, let us reexamine and search our hearts once more. No, He was protecting them.

The garden of Eden was not unique in the trial of temptation, other than it was the very first occurrence of sin. We are faced every day with a slew of choices to make. And for each decision, those who have the prompting and leading of the Holy Spirit residing within have Him to guide us into the decisions that honors not only our Father and our Lord, but also who we are as children of God and Christ followers, as vessels of the living God within us.

 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.   Romans 6:1-4 NIV 
This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.  
1 John 1:5-7 NASB 

Let us make our decisions carefully.

 If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord , choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord ."   Joshua 24:15 NASB 

****     ****     ****

But the Cross?

cross_clipart_3

And He was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.    Luke 9:23-24 NASB

It is the point to which we come, bowing humbly before, in full surrender to Jesus Christ. It is the place where we bring our entire life’s wages—not literally money, and not literally possessions, cars and houses and boats. Yet, if He asks those things of us, we are willing to give those up, in exchange for the Life that He offers us.

But it is where we lay down the life we are so accustomed to living. The practical, the immoral, the day-to-day. The life filled with comfort, with money, with whatever has been our focus, other than Christ.

We feel His tug on our heart, and though we might be timid of what everyone else is going to think, we are ready to take that stand, to take that walk. We haven’t ever fully surrendered our life to Him, and in exchange, received the gift of eternal life. We aren’t sure what it is all about, but we want to know.

Because we realize for the first time that there is nothing good in our self. That we have neither the option to send ourselves to heaven nor pay the penalty for which we could be set free from the eternal flames of destruction and torment.

But we know that the Life that we are offered at the Cross is a Life beyond anything we could ever imagine.  We’ve heard about it, we just have not succumbed, surrendered ourselves. We have held on so tightly to the things we have, afraid that He will take them.  Afraid of what we might have to give up in order to receive Life Eternal.

But we realize that the older we get, the closer death comes.  We are but one day closer to the end of our days on earth, and we realize that we aren’t sure in our hearts if we are truly forgiven and set free from the cords of sin and death.

Even if we’ve said a prayer once, we have to ask ourselves, was our heart really in it? Did we seek Him with our whole heart, our whole mind, with all of our soul?  Or did we just repeat some words given to us, and our heart was really not yet willing to lay everything out on the line for the sake of Christ?  

But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.  Deuteronomy 4:29

Do we have the conviction, the reassurance in our heart that we are genuinely His? Do we look forward to seeing Jesus returning in the clouds, coming to collect His followers in the Rapture of the Church? Do we know without a doubt that we will go with Him? Do our hearts long for that day with eager anticipation?

It is in that moment of true surrender that, for the sake of the cross, I consider all things rubbish.

More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ    Philippians 3:8

I come willingly to the cross, to give up what I never really had to begin with, to receive a Life I could never earn on my own. Because I realize that it is all His anyway. Everything that was created has been created by Him, and nothing was created without Him.  I realize that I am but broken shards of glass on my own, but that is all I can offer Him. Myself. In full. And, I know and trust that He has the power to make a beautiful masterpiece of my life that could honor Him, something that I could never do.

****     ****     ****

But if I come to the Cross, dragging my possessions, cars, houses, boats, relationships, wrong attitudes and desires—and I refuse to leave them there, I get–well I get what I pay for.

I get the “X”. I think I am walking away with the Cross stuffed in my back pocket, my long laundry list of possessions dragging behind me as I walk away, not really feeling any differently in my heart. In fact, I am weighed down even more so now, with the thought of the “X”.

red x
X = “I cannot. I am forbidden to. That is off limits now. I am not allowed to partake of…”

****     ****     ****

cross_clipart_3But the person that comes to the cross, dragging their possessions, cars, houses, boats, relationships, wrong attitudes and desires–and LEAVES them there, in humble submission to the Lord Jesus, in humble submission to the Father, walks away with the weight of the world lifted from his shoulders.

Rest for the Weary
…"Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."  
Matthew 11:29-30

We walk away, a beautiful blood-stained cross relished in our heart. We leave the weight of the world behind, and when we get home, we realize that He’s blessed us with all the things He wants us to keep. There sits the house (maybe smaller), the car (maybe two instead of three), the boat (maybe now it’s for sale).

In the driveway we greet our family–our kids run to us with eagerness to experience the light that we have brought back home to the family.

We are now utterly, truly grateful for the things that we have—and we realize the great cost to our families, our relationships, of having more than we need. We truly understand that things will never satisfy, but God always will.

The person that carries the Cross in his or her heart is willing to give up anything for Christ.

It no longer is about the “X”.
It is no longer about the law.

It’s about true Grace. And it’s about the transforming work of the Holy Spirit within that person’s heart.  Because, through the freely-given, unmerited gift of the Holy Spirit, He enables us to overcome the sin in our lives.  We no longer relish things in our heart that are dishonoring to our Lord, but rather, we take up our cross, and we submit to the working of the Holy Spirit within us to overcome the temptations and trials that lay ahead of us.

And each day brings its own slew of attacks against our faith.  But, because we have the Holy Spirit to enable us, we can continue on, one step in front of the other, each step asking the Father for direction and guidance.

After the Cross, the things that have held to tightly for so long are free to be taken—because for the first time we realize that they aren’t ours anyway.  They were either A) gifts from God our Father, or B) lies of the devil.

And those things that have pulled us away from the Father—the sinful desires and passions, wrong attitudes and behaviors—in their place, we find forgiveness, and healing. We find restoration, and a changed heart. We find renewed minds and powerful convictions. We find Truth. We find true love, and a love that covers a multitude of sins. We find an overflowing, true love for our brother and sister in Christ. We find peace, we find purpose. We also find love for our enemies that we never had before. We find peace with God our Father, and a love so Divine that cannot compare to anything in this world.

At the Cross, the “X” turns into:

cross_clipart_3“I was blind, but now I see.”

“My heart has been changed.”
“I have no obligation to anyone or anything other than Jesus Christ.”
“My relationship with Jesus is more important than what others think or do or say of me, when I stand up for righteousness.”
“I don’t want to participate in that any longer, because it dishonors my Father, and grieves the Spirit within me.”
“I no longer feel the desire to do that, because I now recognize it as being shameful, and evil and a trick of the devil, dragging me away from my Father.”
“I will not compromise Truth and bow my knee to Satan.”
“I will not partake in things that I know in my heart are unholy, unrighteous, and utterly sinful—because my heart has been changed by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit within me.”

and my personal favorite–because we are not perfect: “Lord, when I fall, help me back up.  Convict my heart of the wrong path I’m on, and set me back on the narrow road that leads to You.”

The Narrow Gate
…And someone said to Him, "Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?" And He said to them, "Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. "Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, 'Lord, open up to us!' then He will answer and say to you, 'I do not know where you are from.'…          
Luke 13:23-25
The Narrow Gate
"Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. "For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.  
Matthew 7:13-14

So, let us head the warning and let us all carefully examine our hearts.

Examine Yourselves
Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you-- unless indeed you fail the test?    
2 Corinthians 13:5
Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.   1 John 3:7-10 NIV 

Let us return to the Cross this Easter and come humbly before Him, asking Him to search our hearts, removing any thing, any thought, any desire, that does not honor Him, and ask Him to lead us in the way everlasting.

And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.
Psalm 139:4

Let us come humbly to the throne of Grace and offer up ourselves, our sinful natures, our lustful eyes, our pride, our wrong thinking, wrong relationships, greed, idolatrous hearts, and evil desires.

Let us ask Him to change, and if necessary, remove, the things that we have placed upon the throne of our hearts in His place. Let us ask Him to bring us to a place where we no longer feel the weight of the world, but instead feel the easiness of His yoke, letting Him carry our burdens that we’ve drug around with us for far too long.

Let us drag everything we are, ever have been, or ever hope to be—to the foot of the cross, and lay it all down, asking humbly for Him to transform us into the person that He designed us to be.

I am a jealous God…

    “You shall have no other gods before Me.

      “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORDyour God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

I think somewhere in the back of my mind, it has always made me cringe, thinking about my Father in that light.  I mean, after all, God is kind and compassionate.  He is merciful, and loving.  So for Him to be jealous–that just doesn’t seem to “fit the mold”, in my finite mind.  I also understand that He is the Only One who is 100% Holy, Righteous, Pure, Good.  He has nothingevil in Him.  Yet, when I think of “jealous”–it always brings a negative connotation to my mind and my heart.

IMG_20150224_182336_309Exodus 20: 1-6

Then God spoke all these words, saying,

      “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

     “You shall have no other gods before Me.

      “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

I think somewhere in the back of my mind, it has always made me cringe, thinking about my Father in that light.  I mean, after all, God is kind and compassionate.  He is merciful, and loving.  So for Him to be jealous–that just doesn’t seem to “fit the mold”, in my finite mind.  I also understand that He is the Only One who is 100% Holy, Righteous, Pure, Good.  He has nothing evil in Him.  Yet, when I think of “jealous”–it always brings a negative connotation to my mind and my heart.

I was washing dishes earlier.  One of those dreaded tasks that, try as I might to put off for as long as possible, it had to be done.  Today, I really just didn’t have a choice.  Who else is going to wash them?  So, I invited my Father to talk to me while I’m standing there running the dishrag over each cup, bowl, plate, utensil…. It’s actually kind of soothing once I stop to do it.  Kind of like painting a house…you just drift off into a trance, and before you know it, you are off in another world.  It’s the whole “getting in the mode of doing it” that I have a hard time with.

This seems to really be the time that Him and I can just have those really honest conversations.  You’d think I’d look forward to doing the dishes more!  This time was no exception.  My Father was there, He was present as I just stood there, asking Him “why?”.  Why did this happen?  Why did I let myself go down this road and get hurt?  I know You told me not to—a long time ago.  But rebelliously, like a small kid throwing a temper tantrum, I folded my arms over my chest, pouted, and took off in the opposite direction.  I was going to go do it anyway–regardless of what You said.

He very clearly pressed it upon my heart in that moment.  “I love you, and you are to have no other gods before Me.”  And I knew exactly what He meant.  I realized why He was jealous.  I realized all of a sudden why He had impressed upon me from the beginning–don’t let your heart get too far into this.  I am your God, and you are not to make an idol out of anything or anyone else.

Well, of course, I thought I knew better.  I thought in my almond-sized brain, “well I can worship You at the same time as I go off and try to do this thing right here.  You will just have to see, Daddy.  I’m going to go and do this and You are just going to look at me in amazement after the fact, and say “hey, you did it after all–even without My help! Way to go, I’m proud of you!”.

I know–it’s laughable, really.  But honestly,  looking back at it, that is exactly how my mind and my heart was reacting toward Him telling me “No”.  I thought I was big, bad, and grown enough to do it all on my own.  Without His help.  At 33, I thought I finally knew better than my Father in heaven–I guess?  (I didn’t outright think that, but it sure came out in my actions–and I think on some level of my subconscious, but I was trying to hide it from Him, from myself, and from anyone else who might pick up on it.)

Yeah,  so today I come crawling back into my Daddy’s arms, crying to Him and asking Him how I got so far out of line.  He just wrapped me up in His arms and told me, “I love you too much to let you focus all of your time, energy, attention, or anything else on anyone or anything but Me.  Only I am 100% there for you.  It is I who will always be here, and will never let you down.  It is I who loves you beyond all comprehension.  Who understands your every need, every desire, every hurt–every part of you.  If you focus your time, energy, and attention on anything or anyone other than me–and thereby you make that your idol, you will always be disappointed.  That’s why I’m jealous.  I don’t want My children to get hurt.”

All of a sudden, I realized—Well, you know how you “know” something for a long, long time–mentally?  –but yet it never sinks into your heart?  Well, this was one of those special moments in time where it just SUNK into my heart.

(If you had been standing there with us, you probably would have heard it go “plloo–uup!” as it dropped into my heart.  Okay, make whatever sound effect you want–but seriously, it was that instantaneous.)

And all of a sudden, I smiled as it rippled out across my emotions, making me realize how deep the Father’s love for us is.  For once, I realized the depth of His love—well, to another level than I formerly had.  In that moment, He revealed to me one more part–one more level–of His love for me that I had known mentally, but never comprehended in my heart.

I realized that “jealous” in His case is not at all negative.  He is jealous not because He is an abusive, angry Father who doesn’t want His kids to have good gifts.  (Something, which, by the way, never connected with my heart either, because my father on earth is a great Dad, and no where near abusive or angry.  But still, that word just always leaves a foul taste in our mouths as people, and especially as Christians, I believe.)

No–He does want us to experience all kinds of awesome things, and He longs to give those to us.  He expectantly waits for us to ask, and He provides the gifts that He knows will strengthen us and make us happy and strengthen our relationship with Him–never ones that hinder it.

But first, we have to be purged of any sort of idolatry before those gifts can truly be bestowed upon us, and truly mean something to us.  We have to recognize that the gifts He gives came with a PRICE—His Son Jesus’ shed blood on the cross at Calvary.  So, Who we give thanks to for the gifts, and how we treat those gifts should be equally as honored as the reason behind Him bestowing them upon us.

Yes, He freely bestows upon us all kinds of things that will please us and make us happy and rejoice in Him.  But when these things become bigger than Him, when they become more prominent than Him, when they become something He never intended–He will prune us.  And that leaves us shaking, hurting, crying–sometimes that leaves us gasping, “how could You, Father?” It can leave us reeling in pain.  But, it is for our good.

Because He loves us.

Because He desires for our devotion to be directed toward Him.  Because He’s some kind of ego maniac, and just loves all the attention that we can muster up and throw at His feet?  No.  Very simply again: because He loves us.  And He knows that there is no one or no thing on this earth that will satisfy us, that will complete us, that will enable us to become all that we are designed to be in Christ.  No one outside of Him, our God.  He knows that when we focus our attention, our devotion, toward something other than Him, we are inevitably going to get hurt.

That’s why He says “No” long, long before we ever get started down that path.

Seems pretty simple, right?  Yeah, after the fact.  Maybe I’ll remember that next time He says “No”.  And so maybe, just maybe it won’t hurt as bad when He prunes me again.

Jesus Is the Vine—Followers Are Branches

      1“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. 3“You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6“If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. 7“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8“My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. 9“Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 10“If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11“These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.     John 15

Where O Death is Your Victory?
…The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.        1 Corinthians 15:56-58