When guilt, regret, and shame come knocking…

Sometimes I forget.

I forget that I am a new creation.

I forget that through the blood of Christ, I am made clean.

My blemishes washed away entirely. Not even a scar remains.

No evidence of my life before Jesus is visible in God’s eyes. He looks at me and sees Jesus, because I am hidden in Him. Pure. Holy. Unblemished. Sinless.

 

All because I believe.

I believe Jesus is who He said He was – the son of God, capable of bestowing true forgiveness.

I believe He died for my sins, my shame, my guilt, my regret, my immoral decisions, my selfishness, and my flesh that I am constantly at war with.

Today, I am reminding myself.

But I am not reminding myself of who I am in Christ, but simply of who Christ is.

I have been struggling with such guilt and shame over my past lately. I will get random flashes of my worst decisions in my mind’s eye. To battle it, I have been trying to remind myself who I am in Christ. Of who I am now rather than focusing on who I once was…

But even that is not enough to free me. Because then I see the sins that I struggle with in the present, even as a new creation, constantly reminding me that I, myself, am flawed, imperfect, and desperately in need of a Savior.

No. I have to take my eyes entirely off of myself and focus my eyes on what God sees in me. And that is Jesus. I need to focus only on my Savior.

Without Him, I would be dead in my sins – the sins of my past, the sins of my present, and the sins of my future.

To God be all the glory. For nothing I ever do could earn his forgiveness, and nothing I have ever done or ever will do could separate me from His love.

Praise God that my salvation is not dependent on me living a life worthy of Him, because I simply cannot ever reach that bar. Try as I might.

But because I have accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I am forgiven and made worthy and righteous.

I do not need to dwell on my past.

I am choosing not to dwell on my past.

Today I am choosing to fix my eyes on the Jesus. Who He is.

Because when God looks at me, He does not compare who I am now to who I once was.

He simply sees Jesus.

Praise God! He loves us so that He made a way for us to enter His presence. He made a way for us to walk with Him all our days on this earth if we so choose. Praise God that He loves us so much that He saw our iniquities and sought to reconcile it for us, knowing we could never do so of our own strength.

He loves us, brothers and sisters.

If ever you doubt it, you need only look at Jesus. Look at what He has done for you.

Do not let satan attack you with your past or present. He is only trying to separate you from the love of God. To distract you from your Kingdom work. To make you feel unworthy, powerless, and shameful. A person hiding in the dark cannot bring others into the light.

We do not need to wallow, hide, or punish ourselves. And we certainly do not have to allow the enemy to punish us. After all, the enemy cannot judge us for our sins. He cannot judge at all. God has not given him that authority. But he can accuse. He can mislead. He can distract. He can divert. But only as far as we allow.

Because we, who have accepted Christ, can be hidden in Him. We can wear His righteousness. We can live in power and authority over our accusers (Luke 10).

If we fix our eyes on our Savior and tear them away from ourselves, we can live in freedom. We can rest in Him.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. [2 Corinthians 4:18]

 

An awesome read:

https://www.gotquestions.org/how-does-God-see-me.html

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Before you get an abortion, read this.

 

This topic of abortion is weighing so heavily on my heart. And that is because I now know 4 different couples who have chosen this path instead of life. And now I watch them suffer, and it is all heartbreaking.

I know how much I still struggle with the promiscuity of my past… the shame and regret… and how those decisions, which pale in comparison to the seriousness of the decision to end a life, make me struggle with self hatred. I cannot imagine the depth of their pain. It makes my heart ache for them.

One of them has happened in my own family, and we are the only ones he has told about it, because he fears the response of the rest of his family. He and his girlfriend at the time decided to go that route, out of fear and shame. Fear that they weren’t ready, fear that they couldn’t support it financially, ashamed that they would have a child out of wedlock… This list goes on and on.

They have since broken up, the strain on their relationship becoming too much to bear, the immense guilt resurfacing just by being together, their anger at themselves exploding out in angry fights… He is deep in depression. I am now praying that he does not take his own life, as Ethan has said he has said some things that hint towards him contemplating suicide. It is so terrifying and heartbreaking to witness.

Another of our friends shared the same secret. This friend also said he now sees me very differently. He now admires me for going the “harder” route and is now living with the most intense regret of his life.

But he has no idea. Having a child is tough financially, and it’s more work (gotta feed ’em, ya know?)… But that little girl has brought me so much joy and added such depth to my life. She changed how I see everything and everyone. Parents out there know exactly what I am talking about. She gave me something to be better for. Every day, she wakes up, totters over to me with messy hair and sleepy eyes, she smiles sleepily at me, she gives me a hug, and she tells me how much she loves me. That doesn’t sound so bad, huh?

And there are difficult moments, for sure. It is difficult when our bank account is overdrawn. It is difficult when she is misbehaving. It is difficult when I have to wake up with her in the middle of the night because she had a very realistic dream about sitting on a potty. It was difficult telling people that I was pregnant and unmarried at 19 and was carrying the child of a man whose commitment level was questionable. It was difficult to have people look down on me for being irresponsible.

But that taught me not to cower under a critical eye. It taught me to pull my shoulders back, set my jaw, and decide that I was going to be a good mom. That I was going to do everything I could to give my baby a good life. And now I get to enjoy the fruit of that decision. I’ve got a beautiful little girl that I love with all my heart. I get to hear her belly laugh, get to watch her grow and learn, get to hear her thoughts about Jesus, get to praise God for every step she takes towards Him, get to help raise her to be a good person and then watch her be kind. And she has taught me more about unconditional love and grace than possibly anyone, as she had readily forgiven me for my mistakes and immediately hugged me, smiling, and telling me that she loves me. It is truly an amazing journey.

I truly believe that I did not take the harder route. They have.

Money can always be made. Your life plan may alter, but I truly believe it will NOT be for the worst. Money is not everything. College is great, but it’s also a debt generator (student loans have made my life 100x harder than my daughter. My husband got paid twice as much as I am being paid now, and he does not have a degree (now he is opening his own business), I know a couple that started and own 5 successful businesses, no college experience, the list goes on). Careers are great for money, but they will not fulfill you. Parties are fun, but they will not bring you the joy of a meaningful relationship, like the one between parent and child.

It is easy to walk into a Planned Parenthood and get an abortion, but life afterwords is far from it.

It is one of the greatest lies of the enemy that we face today – that abortion will save you from a difficult path. That your life is easier without another life to worry about.

But the reality is, you will have to battle a deep regret and remorse for an indefinite amount of time, perhaps your entire life. Your mind will randomly stray to that moment in time when you had the procedure or took that pill, and you will think about how old your child would be, wonder what they would look like, what their personality would be like, wonder what your life would look like with them by your side. You will look at other children and struggle to smile because of the sadness. You will struggle with self-hatred, because you have made a choice so selfish in hopes of making your own life easier, but the cost was ending a life.

I am not saying this stuff to make people feel bad, I am writing exactly what those that I know have told me they now feel and what they now struggle with. If you’d like to read more testimonies of the after-affects of abortion, click here.

If you have had an abortion and you are struggling with depression, please seek help. Do not isolate yourself. Dive deeper into church, try to find a small group setting to jump into (recommendation: Rachel’s Vineyard & Celebrate Recovery), find a safe space to talk about your struggles. Seek counseling (preferably Christian, as they can lead you to the Truth, which can lead to true healing). And whatever you do, do not let that decision separate you from the love of the Lord. God love you unconditionally. Truly. Do not let the enemy win. Do not let the enemy tell you you are too far gone. The darkness is as light to the Lord. He wants to save you.Read why.

I know it is scary to have a child when you feel unprepared. But you WILL BE a good parent. God will provide, for He is FAITHFUL. And even married people (also have many married couple friends pregnant right now) who have been TRYING to get pregnant struggle with the same fears – that they will not be a good parent, that they will struggle financially, etc. You are not alone!!! Having a baby is a big deal, but it is AMAZING. You can do it, because Jesus will be right by your side the ENTIRE time. And He’s really all you need.

Some people don’t want saving.

I was blessed to go on my first ever business trip over this past week to New York City. This was a BIG deal for me, as I don’t travel much and live in a small town in the middle of the woods. But I have always wanted to go to the big city, just to experience it.

So I got to wander NYC for 5 nights, just me and Jesus. It was amazing.

Last night, my last night there, I walked from my hotel, across the Brooklyn Bridge, into Brooklyn Heights, had an amazing vegan burger, and walked back. On my way back, there was a man who walked with a severe limp. He was extremely thin, had ragged clothes and hair, and was covered in dirt and grime. He appeared to be homeless and struggling.

As soon as I saw him, I felt an overwhelming urge to ask him if I could pray for healing for him. Not just healing over time, I felt like if this man said yes, that the Lord would truly heal him right then and there.

Now I have never done a prayer for physical healing on the spot before, but the burden is not a new one to me. Usually, I am so terrified that a healing won’t happen that I don’t risk it. I’m terrified that the Lord won’t answer my prayer. I’m afraid that instead of it being an instruction from God Himself to heal by His power, that it is just me feeling empathetic for their suffering. I am afraid to confuse the two, to not have the prayer answered, and to damage any chance they had of believing.

So, per usual, I tried to stuff that burden down and to rationalize it away. But it would not budge. I truly felt like his foot would be healed if I prayed for it to be healed. That confidence was new. And all these verses kept popping into my head, each confirming this feeling in me further.

So I back-tracked to where he was, because I had long since passed him by the time I decided to take this leap of faith. I approached him and asked him his name. He told me and then asked me why I asked. I told him I felt like God was telling me to pray healing over his foot.

He freaked out, you guys. His eyes got super wide and he looked terrified. He quickly looked away, shaking his head and saying, “Oh, no, no, no. I don’t want that,” and immediately started walking away. It was the strangest reaction I have ever seen.

I started walking again, too and said, “Can I ask why?” hoping to understand this man’s reason behind his reaction. He said, “No. Now I’ve got to get to Manhattan, so excuse me,” in a little bit harsher of a voice, though his face was still a mask of fear, and he was now leaning away from me like I was about to strike him or something. So I just shrugged and said, “Okay,” and continued on ahead of him (since he walked very slowly with his limp).

It was bizarre, you guys. This guy was so clearly not on neutral terms with God. There was something definitely going on there, and by the tone and urgency of his rejection, it was not good.

I started tearing up the second I was past him, not because he rejected me, but because he had rejected God. I walked on, wondering why on earth he would be so afraid of healing, of prayer, of such a loving God. My mind began reeling with unanswered questions:

“You WANT to live with that pain? You WANT to go on suffering? What is it about God that is so terrifying or wrong to you? Do you fear the Lord or are you angry with Him? Are you unwilling to give up whatever sin you think will fulfill you more than the Lord? Are you afraid to face the Lord with all of your sin, like I was? 

Or maybe there is more at work here than I can see. Maybe he has demons within him that do not want this man healed. Perhaps if those demons are in him, they are terrified of being cast back into Hell. Dang straight…”

My heart ached for him, now more for his soul than for his physical suffering. Though I am not positive, I have a very strong feeling that this man is addicted to some bad drugs and that there are forces of the enemy at work within him. I have never seen anybody react like that.

But even though my heart ached for him, I walked away with a weight off of my shoulders, because I had been obedient.

I realized in that moment that I would much rather live with the tiny sting of rejection than with the regret of a missed opportunity and the knowledge that I was disobedient. The sting of rejection lasted for only a moment, and it was pretty much entirely overshadowed by shock at this man’s fear of being prayed over. I walked away knowing that I had done what I was meant to do. I felt like I was doing what the scriptures say. I felt overwhelming peace, despite being rejected.

Even though I did not get to see God heal this man right then and there, I did pray for healing for him, and that he would know exactly Who to give the glory to if/when it happens.

God has been taking me on quite an interesting journey lately. I’ve been reading the Word and learning about it more than ever before, and all that I am learning is really challenging me. I’ve also been listening to Francis Chan messages on YouTube (highly, highly recommend him), and he seems to keep bringing up the idea of taking the Bible literally and living in such a way that our stories would be like those in the Bible. He challenges everybody to live more like Jesus instructed His disciples to, bold and powerful, since the same Spirit that was alive in them is now alive in us. He promises that God will be with us when we go out and make more disciples (Matthew 28: 16-20).

This experience also reiterated the fact that a lot of people are going to reject Jesus in spite of Him revealing Himself to them and giving them ample opportunity to believe and be reborn, something I have been having a hard time wrapping my head around. But there this man was, doing exactly what is predicted in Scripture, choosing to not follow Him, choosing not to be healed, choosing to continue with a life of pain, sorrow, addiction, sin, whatever it is he is holding onto so tightly…

God already knows what every person’s ultimate choice will be (hence the names in the Book of Life – those who will choose Him in the end), hence why Jesus often began with “He who has ears, let him hear,” knowing that most people would not truly hear His words. That His words would be falling on both deaf and alert ears. That most of the crowd would listen to his words and walk away unchanged, that they would not do anything about what they heard, that they would not confess Him as Lord, that they would go on living their lives no differently than before He had spoken. So when He says, “He who has ears, let him hear,” he is addressing those whose names are in that Book of Life.

It is crazy to think about.

But, I don’t know what God has planned for this man. Maybe I was the 5th person on that bridge to have asked him to pray for his foot and that’s why he was freaked out. Maybe the 6th person to ask will be the one he finally yields to. I don’t know!

Maybe God used me to plant a seed in his mind, just like my mom kept doing long before I chose to follow Jesus, which I believe was how I knew exactly Who to turn to in my time of need. I don’t know!

I won’t know until Heaven. Maybe I’ll see that guy there. God, I hope so…

All we can do is be obedient to the nudges. To have tender hearts and a tough hides – to be compassionate and empathetic, while not allowing fear or the sting of rejection to hinder or discourage us from Kingdom work. 

I would love to hear any stories of healing, PLEASE comment them below. I would love as much evidence as possible on here that these things actually do happen, that we are meant to go out as the Disciples did, healing people in the name of Jesus Christ. Please don’t exaggerate or embellish any stories! (Note: I have settings for comments to require my approval before they are public, as some comments I receive are quite personal or hateful, so don’t be discouraged if your story doesn’t show up immediately. I’ll get on here as often as I can to get them approved!)

Thank you for sharing and thank you for reading, brothers and sisters! May Jesus continue to make us bold and powerful for His glory!

Do you truly trust God?

I’m going to be 100% real with you guys, and this is a fact I am not proud of. But it is the truth.

Are you ready?

I have never read the Bible cover to cover, starting from page 1 to the end of times. I am about halfway through doing so, and it has taken me years to get through the first half reading page by page.

*GASP* “You haven’t read the whole Bible yet?” “*scoff* Only halfway??” “What kind of Christian are you?!” haters may ask.

Welp, I’m a human one, haters. A flawed, human one. One that gets lazy and tired on my best days, and one that lets sin and lies get to my head to keep me away from seeking truth on my worst days. But I am staying the course. My path may stray from reading the Word – maybe even as much as I should – but I am trying harder and harder to learn more about Jesus and to love Him more. To trust Him more. I know God does not expect perfection out of me, and I know I can never deliver that, so each day I do pick up my Bible, I celebrate a little victory of defeating my laziness or whatever else is stopping me from cracking open this beautiful work of wisdom sitting in my lap.

Whew. Glad I got that off of my chest.

So now that my truth is laid bare, I want to dive into a little bit of what I read tonight and then get even more real.

Actually, before we do, real quick, I just want to share the encouragement that was shared with me. It has helped me to not feel so overwhelmed by my goal of reading the Bible in one year and made it seem much more… do-able. Francis Chan said that if you spend roughly ten minutes per day reading the Word, you can read the entire book, cover to cover, each year.

Alright. There you go. TO SCRIPTURE!

Psalm 127

A song of ascents. Of Solomon.

Unless the Lord builds the house,
    the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
    the guards stand watch in vain.
In vain you rise early
    and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
    for he grants sleep to[a] those he loves.

After reading this, two basic questions arose as I thought over these verses.

  1. What do you feel when you read this: Do these verses give you peace? Or do you they make you feel uneasy?

Your answer, whether you chose peace or uneasiness, I think, may just be an answer to the tougher, deeper question – Question number two: Do you trust God?

For me, these passages are basically telling me that God is in control. I can toil away, I can lose sleep, I can take a million measures to protect my home and my family, but at the end of the day, the Lord chooses whether we are safe, whether we are financially prosperous or in financial hardship, whether we are sick or whether we will be healed, and so on and so forth.

So to be honest, my answer to these questions would be:

  1. Both peaceful and uneasy. Peace when I think about the love of God and His love for me and my family. Uneasy when I think about how His will can be painful (look at Job, look at Steven, look at Peter, look at Paul, look at Jesus, look at John the Baptist, pretty much most people of significance in the Bible).
  2. So, I do and I don’t. I go back and forth. I try to, but there are moments where I am so afraid of the suffering that comes with this walk.

Do I believe that God is good?

Yes.

But does that mean that we won’t suffer? Maybe even immensely?

Absolutely not.

And that is what scares me.

I know that if we face a trial or hardship, it is for the glory of God. For a specific purpose that will have a kingdom impact.

I know that He is with those who suffer.

Yet I still struggle with trust.

I believe it all comes down to our perspective: is it earthly or is it eternal?

That is a war constantly waged in my mind, friends. My flesh is constantly seeking comfort and happiness, a long and full life… but my soul knows that trials are always ahead and that I need to love and trust the Lord anyway. No matter what.

Which then makes me question whether or not my faith would be strong enough to withstand the heaviest of blows… the death of a child? My spouse? My parents? To be faced by the persecution our Brothers and Sisters across seas face over their faith daily – being martyred and tortured for the name of Jesus? That’s a whole new level. That’s Bible status faith. Their faith is real. As real as it gets.

These are tough questions to reflect on. They are heavy. They are burdensome the second they come to my mind.

But one thing I know is that the decision to be Christian here in America is a light one compared to the rest of the world, which is why we have a epidemic of lukewarm Christians in our country. People don’t take it lightly overseas because it could cost them their lives. Over here it is becoming more and more about what the Lord can do for us rather than being willing to do anything for Him because of what He already did for us.

And I fall prey to that me mentality too often. But I want my faith to be more than that. I want my perspective to switch to more eternal rather than earthly.

Should I feel this fear? If I read about Paul in prison, before he faces death, he tells Timothy not to fear for him because he is about to go to heaven to be with Jesus.

So my head knowledge tells me that this fear is not of the Lord. It is either my flesh or the enemy. But right now, in this season, I struggle with it, and as we established earlier, I am a flawed, human Christian.

I hope this honest writing has sparked some new questions in you, ones that can help you dive deeper into your relationship with the Lord. And I pray for all of us that we do not allow ourselves to become lukewarm, but are seeking to deepen and mature our faith in Jesus.

 

What to do when you’ve lost your hunger

Friends, my faith walk has been through some tribulations.

Very big ones.

About six months ago I was at an all-time low in my walk with Christ. Funny thing was, I had just transitioned out of working in a ministry position that was part-time with super flexible hours and a boss that was one of my best friends. We talked about Jesus openly, freely, and frequently.

I had much of what I had hoped for to set me up for an intense, all-in life with Jesus. Problem was, I wasn’t pursuing Jesus outside of my job, and it was becoming the only source of my relationship with Him, and my crutch quickly became more of a thorn.

So I ventured into the corporate world, ripping away the thorn-crutch and expecting the Lord to help me be a light to my new co-workers. But obviously my habits did not change, and my walk continued to lack that hunger and depth… And you can’t pour from an empty cup.

My faith was more to keep up appearances at that point than out of actual desire to know the Lord better.

Has anybody else experienced this? Is this just me?, I wondered. I rationalized, I kept it to myself, and I ignored it. I thought that it must be normal, that like any relationship, the “newness” was finally wearing off at six years in, and I was falling into familiarity.

Every week I felt more and more distant from the Lord. I felt less and less joy. I found myself buying into more and more lies about myself, about Him, about life, about creation and the purpose of it all, about the Word… about everything really. I was becoming more and more lost and I FELT it.

Finally, I just couldn’t take it anymore. My confusion, my disconnectedness, the darkness I could feel growing inside of me… I decided I would spend an entire lunch hour alone in prayer and just dump it all out.

And I did. All of it. All of the darkness that was confusing and consuming me just flowing right out. All of the anger. All of the frustration. All of the guilt and regret and shame. All of my sadness. I just spoke honestly and openly out loud to the Lord, knowing He was listening and knowing that He was not surprised or shocked by any of my words, because He already knew all of my heart and loved me anyways. I was confessing it all.

Then I repented for a LOT and I told Him I didn’t want to live that way anymore – this shallow shadow of my potential self and potential life, scarcely scratching the surface of a relationship with Jesus, struggling with sin, and living my life for numero uno (myself).

Then I asked Him to make me HUNGRY.

I asked Him to put the fire back in me.

I asked Him to help me get back to Him.

Let me tell you, friends – He delivered.

I took action and sought the Lord, and He was faithful. Our God is FAITHFUL.

He told me or showed me the next steps. Some steps were made clear immediately. Some with time. They were personalized and perfectly constructed by the God that knows the ins and outs of my life, my sin tendencies, and the things that really excite me. He knew exactly what I needed to guide me back home.

And God showed me the path not because I am “special” but because He is faithful. He longs to be in close and meaningful relationships with us. That’s why Jesus came! So He could reconcile Himself TO Himself (Colossians 1 – oh my goodness, give it a read, it is absolutely BEAUTIFUL) and be Immanuel – “God WITH us” (Matthew 1:23).

But the key step is OBEDIENCE. I could have just continued on my lost and wandering path. We have to choose which path we want to take and then take action. The Lord has always been and will always be there. Our walk can be as intense or as shallow as we choose.

I thought about sharing what I have changed/added/stopped, but I really feel like I am meant to let only the Lord speak to you. I don’t want my steps to hinder/alter yours in any way, as God knows your walk and your heart and your life. Let Him tell you your next steps!

For me, some of the steps seemed so simple and small, but they have changed everything. I am not doing any of it perfectly by any means, but that’s okay. Perfection is not what the Lord asks. I have seen undeniable fruit appearing in my life regardless of my imperfections, and I am filled with awe at this powerful yet personal and merciful God that loves us so fiercely.

If there is a sin issue in your life or something you are holding on to and that is why you are distancing yourself from the Lord, I promise you, the pleasures that sin brings are not worth the joy, peace, and fulfillment the Lord can bring. Don’t let the enemy hold you back any longer. The enemy always over-promises and under-delivers. He is crafty and he wants you to think that your sin can make you and keep you happy, but it just can’t. The temporary pleasures of this world are not worth eternity, and with the help and power of Jesus, you can defeat the enemy.

If you are struggling because you have questions or concerns that you just can’t seem to reconcile – that’s okay! I wrestle with stuff that I read in scripture and see in the world and experience in my life, and that’s okay. It’s okay to have questions. Don’t let the enemy tell you that those questions cannot go before the Lord, or that you should be ashamed of them, or that you are wrong for having them. He made us curious creatures and questions can help us to know and understand Him better. We may never have answers to some of our questions and we won’t fully understand the Lord or His ways in this lifetime, but that doesn’t mean we need to hide.

[If you’re looking for messages that talk about the tough stuff as well as the good stuff, give Francis Chan a try (I typically just type his name into YouTube and pick a message that I felt a nudge reading the title of). He takes scripture literally and he strives to teach directly from it. It’s awesome.]

So, in summary, here is the secret: If we seek Him, we will find Him. If we ask for more of Him, He will give. We have to take action.

Matthew 7:7-13 (NIV)

Ask, Seek, Knock

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

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

The Narrow and Wide Gates

13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

Deuteronomy 4:28-39 (NIV)

28 There you will worship man-made gods of wood and stone,which cannot see or hear or eat or smell. 29 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. 30 When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the Lord your God and obey him. 31 For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors, which he confirmed to them by oath.

The Lord Is God

32 Ask now about the former days, long before your time, from the day God created human beings on the earth; ask from one end of the heavens to the other. Has anything so great as this ever happened, or has anything like it ever been heard of? 33 Has any other people heard the voice of God[a] speaking out of fire, as you have, and lived? 34 Has any god ever tried to take for himself one nation out of another nation,by testings, by signs and wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, or by great and awesome deeds, like all the things the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes?

35 You were shown these things so that you might know that the Lord is God; besides him there is no other. 36 From heaven he made you hear his voice to discipline you. On earth he showed you his great fire, and you heard his words from out of the fire. 37 Because he loved your ancestors and chose their descendants after them, he brought you out of Egypt by his Presence and his great strength, 38 to drive out before you nations greater and stronger than you and to bring you into their land to give it to you for your inheritance, as it is today.

39 Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other. 40 Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the Lord your God gives you for all time.

Seek after Him. Ask Him for more and rejoice in the pruning and renewing of your mind, spirit, and relationship with Jesus!

The Turtle and the Fish: A Metaphor Of Faith

A woman runs a forested trail near her home. It seems a miracle, given that leading up to that point, everything in her wanted to stay on the couch and mourn the loss of her vision of what her family would be like.

“The Bible is wrong about a lot of things,” says her bright-eyed 6 year old, kind of sadly. The very same sentence that came out of her father’s mouth the day before, as the three of them left the library, where there happened to be a grand exhibit about evolution. Thanks for that, Library.

That one little sentence had sent her down a whirlwind path of despair as she saw her future morphing into something very different than she had hoped or pictured for marriage, for her children, for their legacy. The man of faith she married had evolved into a man of intense doubt to the point of criticism and cynicism, and now those attitudes faced her whenever a discussion was sparked when their beliefs clashed. Because she believed what he found to be a great lie.

And now to hear her daughter, of barely six years old, affected by it…

It was too much to bear.

She contemplated going for a run. Clear her mind. Focus on the rhythm of her footfalls instead of the hurt in her heart. Something inside her, even though she was physically feeling the hopelessness overwhelming her, told her, “Go now.” And she listened.

About a quarter mile into her run, the thoughts, doubts, fears, swirled in her head and combined with the lack of fire and depth she’d been battling in her faith for months, until it bubbled up from her soul and overflowed in tears, making it difficult to breathe. She new she’d have to slow to a walk or she’d pass out.

There weren’t many on the trail that day, and she was thankful for it as she walked the trail quietly sobbing over the reality that was crushing in on top of her.

She loved nature. It had always been a comfort to her. Always helped her to set her perspective straight. She hoped this would be one of those times, but doubt in God and His goodness left her feeling rather hopeless in that area as well.

A dock approached on the left hand side, overlooking a small clear pond. She loved to look at water. It was one of her favorite things on Earth. So, naturally, she stopped for a look.

She leaned comfortably against the wooden railing and started taking in the view of this beautiful scene. Still teary, but managing deep breaths of fresh air.

The water was beautiful, clear, with a thick bed of seaweed and murk on the bottom, but beautiful none the less. The sun was shining directly onto the water, illuminating all that was in it. She could so clearly see fish swimming above the seaweed, bubbles rising from the plant life and all that lived in it. It was peaceful.

Then her eyes landed on the creature that rocked her world and radically threw it into perspective. From the moment she laid eyes on it, the scales fell away from her eyes and she saw.

The small turtle, sturdy, tough, protected, sat atop a lone log in the middle of the pond. There was only a narrow patch of it untouched by water, and there he sat. Atop the narrow path, when all others where taking to the water, the wide path. He, the lone turtle, sat directly in the light and warmth of the sun. No, he was doing more than sitting in the sun. He was bathing in the sun. Basking in the sun. On stable, solid ground that the log provided.

Confidence radiated in it’s posture. Neck extended. Head up. Aware of his surroundings. It had a presence. He was exactly where he needed to be. He did not doubt the path he was on just because he was the only one on it.

In her mind as she watched this turtle, pathways started to form in her brain. Tying her to this turtle. And God spoke to her.

The path is narrow. Few find it. We’re living in a world of doubt, but that doesn’t mean you become a fish. That you give in and let your doubts and fears pull you into the water with everybody else. We are called to be vastly different. We are the chosen ones. We have the privilege of remaining on the solid ground that is Jesus if we chose. Who put that log there? Who carves out the narrow paths for our feet? Who longs for us to bask in the light for all to see? Who wants us to share that light with those in the dark?

It was in that moment, that she realized she had to have faith. The faith that was beyond understanding. The faith to continue to pray for her husband, for her daughter, for her future children, for their legacy. The faith to live for Jesus first and foremost. To make bold moves. To share the stories. To disciple. To let those around her chose their path, sure, but for her to show them how wonderful it was to be on the path that is narrow.

With tears of hope and joy on her cheeks at the revelation, she climbed out of the water to join the turtle on the log.


What To Do When Your Spouse Doesn’t Believe

Ethan and I decided to get baptized together just before marriage. It was Ethan’s idea and I was elated. He even wrote a testimony to share when it was our turn to get in the pool. It was beautiful. He talked about how we were committed to building our marriage on the rock and foundation of Jesus. It is still a joyful and precious memory of mine.

But Ethan has really struggled in his faith for the last few years. He has such a passionate heart for justice, and in a world full of the suffering of the innocent and helpless, it makes him really question and even doubt God’s love and control simultaneously. For him, it is hard to make those two things reconcile with the world we live in. He also believes that science has started to point away from the existence of God, which makes him question further.

At first, seeing him pull away from God made me do the same, because I was praying that God would speak so clearly to him, that the scales would be removed from his eyes, that he would get revelation from the Lord for the answers to the things he couldn’t figure out or peace about the things God doesn’t want to reveal to him… but it doesn’t always happen immediately or in the time frame we think is best.

It’s God’s plan. We’ve gotta trust it.

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So here are some things we can do for our spouses as they wrestle with their faith:

PRAY FOR THEM. Knew that was coming, huh? It is imperative that we do this!!! These prayers may not be answered right away, but we must persevere. Do they need a better group of friends? Pray for it! Do they need a mentor? Pray for it! Do they need to hear God’s voice? Pray for it! We also need to pray against the enemy for them, as they probably aren’t doing that for themselves. You can be fighting spiritually for them, on their behalf, helping them along the journey, as it is, ultimately, the enemy trying to keep them from joining with Christ to fulfill their God-given purpose and bring glory to His kingdom. Think “War Room” (if you haven’t seen it, it is worth renting and even purchasing – this movie is powerful). Tell the enemy he can’t have your husband. Pray against any spiritual attacks against your husband that God brings to your mind. Get your sword out and keep it bloody!!!

“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up…(The Parable of the Persistent Widow)…’And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will He keep putting them off? I tell you, He will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?'” – Luke 18:1,7-8

“Then Jesus said to them, ‘Suppose you have a friend, an you go to him at midnight and say, “Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.” And suppose the one inside answers, “Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.” I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need. So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” – Luke 11:5-10

“The seventy-two returned with joy and said, ‘Lord, event the demons submit to us in Your name.’ He replied, ‘I saw satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample of snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.'” Luke 10:17-20

“‘Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.'” – Ephesians 6:10-12

See also Ephesians 1:15-23 – this really parallels how I feel praying for Ethan. This is a great place to start if you like to pray scripture!

DO NOT LET YOUR FAITH WALK SUFFER IN ANY WAY. IN FACT, KICK IT UP A NOTCH. When Ethan started to really doubt, I started to feel awkward about talking to him about God stuff and doing God stuff with him and around him, so I toned it down substantially. But then I realized that my faith walk is my own, as is his. We can play a part in each others, but with Jesus, it’s a relationship, and the only way to have a relationship with somebody is to personally pursue them, to spend time with them, to put in the effort yourselfMy relationship with Christ is mine to own, and mine alone, as is Ethan’s. That’s when I decided I would continue to pursue Christ openly, and that changed everything. I ask Ethan to pray with me when I feel led, I share my cool God stories with him, I ask him to read the Word with me when I feel led to, I talk to him about my faith, even struggles with my faith, I talk to him about his faith, I tell him I’m praying for him, I ask him if I can pray over him when God prompts me… You have to decide to be obedient to Christ first and foremost. You have to live out the command to love God first and others second. 

“Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested Him with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied: ‘”Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” all the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.'” – Matthew 22:34-40

ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS – BE AN EXAMPLE OF CHRIST AND WALK THE WALK. There is nothing more inspiring than watching somebody you know truly live out their faith and seeing God’s transformation in them. Show them that your faith isn’t just words, that it is a life choice – something more than just a belief, something that is worth living for. Something that is real, tangible, and powerful. As you pursue Jesus each day, you will learn more about Him and He will continue to renew your mind to be more like His. Serve as Jesus serves. Forgive as Jesus forgives. Ask forgiveness in humility when you do wrong. Pursue joy and peace in the Lord. Be obedient. Take leaps of faith.

“Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do no believe the word, they may be won over without words but by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment… Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” – 1 Peter 3: 1-6

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Event the demons believe that – and shudder. You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.” – James 2: 14-22

RESPECT THE JOURNEY GOD HAS THEM ON. God is not surprised by their unbelief. He made them. He knows them (Psalm 139). He knows the struggle in their hearts. He can handle the questions. He can even handle the anger. They are on their own journey, a journey God knew would be their path. We have to surrender our spouses over to the Lord and trust Him. Worrying and stressing about it will not convert your spouse, but exhaust and frustrate you both. All we need to do is be obedient to God’s nudges and love them through it. Appreciate their journey and where they are at in it.

YOU PROBABLY WON’T WIN YOUR SPOUSE OVER BY DEBATING/ARGUING. You want to keep the door open on communication about faith. Arguing is actually a way the enemy can get in to shut it, making it you against your spouse, as opposed to you walking alongside your spouse. If any of you have taken the 16 Personalities test, check this out: my husband got “The Debator” and I got “The Defender,” (according to this test, we are each other’s exact opposite in personality types). Can you imagine a heated debate between us about the most important thing in the universe? Not. Pretty. And not productive. These impassioned debates-turned-arguments created a big rift in the faith part of our relationship. I was so focused on winning him back, winning those debates, getting my points across, that I lost focus on just loving him through his questions, doubts, and fears, which again, goes back to the previous point – appreciate the journey God has them on. God kept telling me, over and over, “I don’t need you to defend Me.” But it took me forever to believe it and realize that He just wants me to continue to show him compassion. To be a good listener. And to be a good listener to Him in those situations, so He can tell me when to speak, what to say, or when to only listen.

“Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: ‘Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall.'” – Luke 11:17

REMEMBER THAT THEY ARE A CHILD OF GOD. Whose are they first and foremost? God’s. And through God, how should we see them? As a potential brother or sister in Christ. How does God see them? As worthy of unconditional love and grace. We should not stop loving them or divorce them (see 1 Corinthians 7: 12-16) because they doubt or struggle or have turned their backs on God entirely, we must be an example of Christ to them and show them unconditional love. God loved us before we believed in Him, we should love our spouses whether they believe or not. This was a game changer for me, and I was finally able to let go of the idea that I had to have a Christian husband, which had really become an idol to me. I started to look at Ethan as a child of God – somebody God imagined and masterfully created for a purpose (Ephesians 1:11-12), somebody God was willing to die for. I saw him completely differently. I stopped focusing on “flaws,” which are really just wounds surfacing or differences in our preferences, pasts, and personalities, and I started focusing on his gifts and strengths. I started to see the beauty of God’s creation that is Ethan. I started to really appreciate his character. And because of this renewed perspective of my husband, grace flows much more easily, and I’m getting that much closer to learning what it looks like to love unconditionally. It’s about choosing to love them sacrificially and in spite of their short-comings. This unconditional love, I’ve found, is an essential piece to the joyful and successful marriage puzzle.

“‘A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.'” – John 13:34

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son…” – John 3:16

So, brothers and sisters, let’s continue to fight for our spouses, to love them in the middle of the mighty battle over their hearts and souls. Have a tender heart and a tough hide. Seek first the kingdom of God and He will guide you through the battlefield. The enemy cannot have our spouses or our marriages, in Jesus’ name!!!