Trust and Obey

I have not been released to write and share my journey lately, so many, do not know where God has brought me in my faith. My faith has been growing steadily but when he brings me through a trial and I am challenged to rise to the occasion, a leap in faith is made. Now, I have to learn to walk in this truth that has been revealed in the depths of my heart.

I was going through a fiery trial. Stress was pushing in on all sides. I’d pray and I would know that God was with me, yet I still allowed the stress of the situations to put pressure on me. My friend who was talking with me, was reminding me that I was surrounded by My God and that she knew I was walking with Him. I told her thank you and that it was nice to have the reminder because even though I knew it, it was hard to feel it.

Later on in our conversation, I don’t know what she said that triggered it, but I was telling her how strong my faith was and that doubt was no longer an issue and then she reminded me of what I had just said a few minutes earlier. I couldn’t justify my two statements a few minutes apart. How could I be so full and strong of faith yet feel like I was walking alone?

Later in the evening, when facing some of the issues I had been dealing with I was given a choice. Overcome fear and speak or hold my peace and suffer. I silently prayed and the scripture was brought to recollection that God does not give us the spirit of fear, but a Spirit of Power, of Love, and of a Sound Mind. Even though my fear could have easily been justified, the spirit of fear is not of God! I made the right choice and then God gave me the revelation I needed in my heart.

Before this day, after praying, The Lord had placed in my mind a few verses to read in Ephesians. I love how God can do this and when I went to the scriptures to search these verses out, God showed me spiritually what I was up against. There was no doubt that I had heard from God because the subject matter was very specific to the situation I was dealing with. Then a little later in Ephesians in Chapter 4:25-27, His Word again spoke to me, but because of fear, I did not do what The Word told me to do. “Therefore, stripping off falsehood, let everyone speak truth with his neighbor, because we are intimately related to each other as parts of a body. Be angry, but don’t sin – don’t let the sun go down before you have dealt with the cause of your anger; otherwise you leave room for the Adversary.” It was after reading this, that I should have acted in faith. I remember being rebellious in my spirit in regards to this scripture and instead chose fear as justification to be disobedient. The next day, because I had now left room for the Adversary in the situation, God led me to read the book of Colossians. The whole book really spoke to me, but when I got to Chapter 3, verse 15 I knew in my heart that this particular scripture was for me. It says, “and let the peace which comes from the Messiah be your heart’s decision-maker, for this is why you were called to be part of a single Body.” I knew these scriptures were for me, but I did not know how they all combined to teach me this one lesson.

Our walk with God, just as Christ’s walk was, is in The Holy Spirit. Walking in the Spirit will bring us where we need to be every time, even if the journey is hard. My trouble was that I was walking in fear. How can I feel close to God if I am walking in fear? He could be walking right beside me but if I am entertaining a spirit that is not His, I will not feel His presence, but the presence of who I am entertaining. Fear is not His spirit, Love is. If I am walking in fear I am not trusting God. If I choose to walk in God’s Spirit just as Christ had to, then I will have peace. “I have said these things to you so that, united with me, you may have peace. In the world, you have trouble. But be brave! I have conquered the world!” (John 16:33)

I choose to not allow the spirit of fear to be my heart’s decision-maker. I choose to trust in the promises of God. I pray this seed takes root and chokes out the weed of fear! Father, let Your Holy Spirit continually bring this lesson to my remembrance and give me courage to overcome, strengthening my faith and trust in the Promises of God.

“In my integrity you uphold me and set me in your presence forever.” Psalm 41:12

 

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My Early Testimony

When I was six years old, I remember watching a mini-series on TV called “Jesus of Nazareth”. It’s still one of my favorite movies. It had a profound affect on me. I remember being six years old and raking the backyard and just crying out to Jesus to save me. Telling Him I was so sorry for everything. I mean, I poured my heart out and sobbed great tears. I remember the clean feeling afterward.  I really don’t know what brought me to this point.  It wasn’t taught to me.

Up to this point, I had had a few catechism classes. I don’t remember ever really thinking about much of anything regarding church after that until I got involved with a family that was Traditional Catholic when I was 13. My family didn’t go to church so I went with the neighbors. I was devout. I even prayed the Rosary every night with them. The priest had given me a prayer to say, a long prayer, fifteen times every night for the Lenten season and told me that if I was faithful, that God would answer my prayer. So, at thirteen years old, that is exactly what I did. I prayed that my parents would start going to church, but I didn’t specify which church. Easter Sunday my parents decided we were going to go to church (even this was unusual). They chose a Presbyterian Church, and kept going. They did not stop going to church until after I had graduated high school. When I told my priest what was happening, I was basically told that if I went to church with them that I was not allowed to participate and that if I went to their church for good that I would be going to hell. God answered my prayers yet I would go to hell for going where God brought my parents? This didn’t sit well with me and I left the Roman Catholic Church.

I do not want to recount my sinful life up until my repentance and re-admittance when I was 30 years old, right now, but let me just say that quite possibly you were a saint compared to the things I did. Satan had his hooks deep in me!

In 1998 or 1999, I was sitting in my parents driveway, high as a kite, writing in my journal:

“Everything I want, I don’t have. Yet, I can’t put my finger on exactly what everything is. It’s a feeling that I want, I can’t figure out when I felt it, or even if I ever have felt it. It’s a yearning for something to make me feel like that. It’s a desire to return there again. To experience what I felt again. Nothing is fresh anymore. All new experiences don’t have the crispness to it. I’m walking through a fog everyday. I am constantly struggling to find out who I am. I don’t look to the future enough, and therefore, I don’t have a clue what will satisfy me, or what I want. I live day to day on a roller coaster that seldom slows down enough to let me recuperate. I WANT LOVE! Until I figure out the word love, I’ll never make it!”

After I was readmitted in 2003, I got that feeling that I was writing about in my journal and then and only then did I realize that the feeling I was yearning for, while deep in sin, was the experience I had had at six years old. In 2003, when I finally decided to put myself in the hands of God, I still had trouble accepting Jesus Christ. I forced myself to accept it. I chose to believe even though in my heart, there were always those doubts. When I got involved in church, it was an Assembly of God Holiness church. I didn’t want to do anything half-hearted. I ended up taking on a lot of legalism. There wasn’t anything that I wasn’t willing to give up or sacrifice for God. I know I was saved. I was saved at six. But looking back through this lens I have now, I wasn’t the Christian I thought I was. Head knowledge and desire are not what creates a relationship, something was missing in my heart. I was baptized in the Holy Spirit and God honored my confession, but he still had work to do to bring me back to my first love.

I was baptized spur of the moment at a youth retreat. In fact, this particular time in my walk was momentous for me. Not the baptism, but everything else that had transpired. Just prior to leaving for this camp, I had been fasting for three days and God had used me to give out a message in tongues. I continued to fast two more days into the camp and instead of eating with everyone, I would go to the prayer room. It was here that I first experienced God speaking to me through the Word. In fact, this is the one thing during all my time away from God, that I couldn’t dismiss. I would pray, open my Bible and God would speak. Twice, He revealed what scriptures would be preached on in the night service. During one of my prayers, my doubts resurfaced and, when I opened my Bible it fell to 1Kings 18:21. “How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!”. During this camp, I had to leave to be at court with my god-daughter and being young in my faith, I was praying to angels. I opened my Bible and was rebuked by the Lord. Colossians 2:18 “Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshiping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puft up by his fleshly mind,” Out of everything I denied on my three years in the desert, this experience is what I could not discount or explain away. In a spur of the moment, at the last service, they offered baptism. I jumped up and took off. I really didn’t understand what it was about. I still entertained doubt, but I was high on God! It was after this experience that I entered legalism. A few years later, I ended up at a Church of God and after praying felt like that is where God would have me.

The story continues.  I fell out of church for nearly three years, but that is for another post.

The Prodigal Returns

I had been away from the Lord for nearly three years which is a testimony for another time.  The following is my testimony that I wrote on August 7, 2014.

Since March 23, 2014, I have been on a journey home to the Lord. It has not been a simple journey. At times it has been joyous, but for three months, I have been barely holding on. I wanted to beat myself up about it. A couple of times I thought about just throwing in the towel. Still, I did manage to hold on. I have been visiting different churches and often I would put my Christian music on even though I was having trouble even relating to it. I have periodically prayed during this time, but nothing substantial. It seemed that every time I would try to pray, it felt wimpy, like I was hitting a wall to no avail. I didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere with my prayers. One thing I would pray was for the Lord to help me through this and to not let me go. One of my very last entries into my journal before I began feeling separated was on May 8, 2014. Up to this, I seemed to be on fire and charging ahead. Within less than a week of my last entry, on May 8th, my journal took a different turn. My entries were fewer and not so upbeat. The entries would start with statements like “I feel so beat up today”, “I have been far from the Lord”, and “I feel I have been struggling”. I even tried fasting once during this period of time to try to fight the oppression that I felt heavily weighing on me. This entire time, I was entertaining thoughts of doubt. Old arguments from my past kept creeping up. Thoughts about worshiping, although not acted upon, outside of the Christian faith were common thoughts during this time. If you knew where I had come from prior to my re-admittance when I was 30, this would not be such a shock.

But you know, God is faithful even when we are not. On July 30th, I was at the library. I was looking for a historical fiction book.  After a little perusing, I saw a book called “Priscilla and Aquila” published by Guideposts. This unassuming book is what grabbed my attention. With Priscilla being one of the few woman mentioned by Paul in the Bible, I was interested in what story they might lay out with so little information actually mentioned about her.

I took this book home and began reading. It grabbed my attention. I immediately connected with the Priscilla created in this book. All through it, it is showing peoples conversion to Christianity, including Priscilla and Aquila’s. Arguments are laid out that Jesus is the Messiah and, all this time, not one of these arguments is sufficient for me. I realized that I was looking for this book to answer my questions and doubts. I was looking for something substantial. I wanted the intellectual argument for the veracity of Christ. It wasn’t happening. I wasn’t satisfied. I’d argue in my head, and continue moving on with the story. That evening I realized how severely this book was affecting my mood. That evening, I realized I was looking in all the wrong places for the truth. If anything, the lesson I learned from my exodus from religion for three years is that you must pray and stay in the Word to protect yourself. If you do not, you open yourself to all sorts of trouble! That evening after everyone was in bed, I decided that I was going to try praying and reading the Word. I put down Priscilla and Aquila and went outside on the porch to be closer to God.

Nothing should be a shock any longer; the things that I think. When I pray, I know that God not only hears my words, but also understands the emotions and unsaid thoughts behind those words. On the porch, I prayed. I directed my prayer to God, to the Father. Then had the audacity to ask if God was really a “Father” and asked if He may also be prayed to as “Mother” for us women. More often than not, during this prayer and all my previous prayers during this dry time, I also prayed that I wanted the truth. No matter where it might lead, no matter what, more than anything, I wanted the truth.

I decided when I came in from the porch that instead of continuing to read my book, I would actually grab my Bible which was in the bedroom with my husband. I was quite tired, but felt driven somehow. My husband was asleep so I literally went into my closet, sat down and prayed again with Bible in hand.

As I said, I know God not only hears my words, but my thoughts and emotions. Most of my prayer was silent. I remember the doubts being at the surface, I remember the feeling of thinking that maybe there was a depth to God that incorporated all these other theories about energies. I remember begging for the truth, begging for God to speak to my heart, praying that God would soften my heart. Then the verbal prayer was telling Him that I know I don’t deserve to hear from him that I shouldn’t even ask him to speak to me the way I was asking. I told Him I needed to hear from him in a way that I would know for sure that He was speaking to me. What I wanted was to be able to open my Bible and know He was speaking to me and my circumstances without any doubt.

I immediately began to think of the book of Jeremiah. I almost tried to dismiss it, but then the thought felt very bold, almost like I yelled at myself, JEREMIAH! I knew then to read Jeremiah and then the number 27 came to my mind. I opened Jeremiah. It opened to chapter 2 and on the right side of the page was verse 27. Now, if you knew what I had just read in my guidepost book, “Priscilla and Aquila”, you would realize how amazing it was that this is what I turned to.

In the book, Priscilla and Paul are in Ephesus talking to Faltius, trying to convert him. They are telling him that Artemis is no god. (The Roman name for Artemis just happens to be Dianna!) That it is useless to worship chunks of silver. “You have a god made by human hands, worthless as dung. In fact, it might as well be made from dung. It would be just as worthy but cheaper. One is just as good as the other.” At this point in the story is when I had put my book down and gone out to the porch to pray.

So, What does Jeremiah 2:27 say?

“To an image carved from a piece of wood they say, ‘you are my father’. To an idol chiseled from a block of stone they say ‘you are my mother’. They turn their backs on me, but in times of trouble, they cry out to me, ‘come save us!’. Verse 28 kind of goes along with my thoughts and questions in my prayer on the porch. “But why not call on these gods you have made? When trouble comes, let them save you if they can! For you have as many gods as there are towns in Judah.”

I can’t tell you how many or all of the thoughts that crossed my mind. But one of those thoughts was; should I pray to God as a goddess? Should I sincerely try to pray or worship other than God the Father and see if my prayers are answered? When I pray to God, sometimes, a book and verse will come to my mind or I’ll just turn to something and it will often speak to my recent thoughts or prayers. Very much like what happened here. (I do not advocate relying on this regularly.) Would it even be possible if I were to pray elsewhere that my prayers would be answered as real as God has answered me now and in the past? These were just thoughts. At this point, I really felt that God proved himself to me. At this point, my belief in God began to solidify.

I went to bed. The next morning I continued to read Priscilla and Aquila and within a page and a half, Paul is speaking to a group of men in Ephesus: “Some of us would never be tempted to worship Artemis. We know-” he paused dramatically, “-don’t we? That Artemis is only a big chunk of silver. Worthless! But that is because some of us have never bowed our knees to her as others of you have, since childhood. It is the only thing you have known until now. It is more difficult for you to give up Artemis. So we must stand with you, encourage you; but my brothers,” he stopped, “there must be no compromise! Artemis must not be worshiped in any way.”

At this point, somehow, something supernatural happened and not only did I believe in God, I believed in Jesus without needing all of the substantial arguments I had previously been looking for. I still felt fragile and guarded my thoughts closely.

It’s amazing how God works. God amazes me in so many ways. But, he didn’t quit showing off. I spent the next day, the 2nd of August, speaking to a co-worker and sharing all that had happened. I got excited that LCOG was about to have a night service. I knew beyond all doubt that I needed the altar and needed corporate worship. So on August 3rd, I got to church early. I was so excited to be able to go to the house of God. I came expecting to experience the presence of God. Before I went in, I prayed that God would give me more grace that my faith would abound. I prayed for enough faith that I would never doubt Jesus again. I prayed that all the confusion and doubt of my past would go away. I prayed that Jesus would come into my heart and fill me to overflowing. I came EXPECTING!

God does not disappoint! The second song of the service got my attention. It was “Desert Song” by Hillsong. I had been in the desert. Everything felt dry. I have been in the fire lately, defeated more often than not, begging for faith. I had been going through the refining fire. Then came the chorus…No Weapon Formed Against Me Shall Remain! These words were power for me. I began to claim my victory. Even though I had been on my journey home since March 23rd, I always felt like I was in a battle. I always felt under attack. It’s because even though I had made the conscience decision to return to Christianity, the weapons of the warfare had not dissipated. There were still arrows being fired at me relentlessly whenever I tried to draw closer to God. I claim these lyrics. From this point forward, none of these weapons shall remain to torture me, to wear me down. I shall no longer be the victim. I take my stand on the promises of God, I am a conqueror and co-heir with Christ. I tell you what, I had a reason to sing and worship in that service. I was ready to take laps and shout at the top of my lungs! If you thought it couldn’t get better, there was the third song! “Wide as the Sky” by Mark Redman. My hands were up, my heart was open. I was ready to receive! Then the lyrics “let all the other names fade away, let all the other names fade away, until there’s only you, let all the other names fade away, Jesus take your place, Jesus take your place.” This was my prayer! After this weekend I felt and feel like a new creature. I truly feel different. My faith is unwavering.

Guess what, God wasn’t done showing off and proving His providential hand in my life! On Monday, I ended up at the library again. I already had a book to read, but really felt driven to look at the religion section. I picked up a book titled “Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist”. From my days in Catholicism, I knew this had to do with communion. When I looked through this book, I knew that it was something that I needed to read. Earlier in my recent walk I had prayed about communion and even spoke with a dear friend about it, but I got no revelation on the things I had studied. I still had questions, I still could not understand the depth of it. When I got home to read, it dawned on me that at some point in my journal I had an entry about communion. On May 8th, the last entry in my journal, before my desert trip for three months, was when I was journaling and speaking to my friend about communion. I then got really excited about the book in hand.

Before I began reading, I asked for discernment. If at any point in time I did not feel like this was scriptural, I would put it down. On the contrary, this book was awesome. It opened my eyes to the perfect plan of God, set out from the foundation of creation! The atoning sacrifice of Christ is revealed in the manna from heaven, the banquet at the top of Mt. Sinai (Ex 24:5-11) the Bread of the Presence in the temple and the festival of Passover, with all of the Jewish traditions of that time including the four cups used during passover.

On May 8th I had been studying Luke 24:13-41 which is the story of the disciples on the way to Emmaus. They were frightened and filled with doubt. They touch, feel and experience Christ yet they still stood there in disbelief, filled with joy and wonder. (I look back and realize that this was the state I was in, even though I felt close and drawn to God, I had not realized my true state.) Not until food is shared do they recognize him for who he is. This puzzled me. I prayed that God would help me to understand communion on a deeper level. I prayed that God would help me to walk daily with Christ and that I could understand the depth of “daily bread” in the Lord’s Prayer. It took the desert, for three months, for God to bring me to a place where He could draw me to a true relationship with Christ and to a point where I could finally understand the depth of what the passover and communion really are. Before, I had excellent head knowledge, but somehow this journey gave me heart knowledge.

Without daily communion (relationship) with Christ, we cannot hope to understand or believe he is who he says he is. We can have head knowledge yet not really know him. Without a faith based on relationship, we cannot commune, we cannot know Christ. Without communion, you cannot have life in you. John 6:53-58 Only the grace of God can draw you into the hands of Christ.

So what have I learned on this journey that has lasted over three years?

I have learned that I must be patient. No matter how much I love the Father, no matter how high in the clouds my heart soars, I can only move as fast as the Lord wills me to. If I run ahead like a toddler without first learning to walk, I will stumble and fall. I must walk beside the Lord and allow him to patiently direct my path! I’ve learned that always before reading my Bible to pray and seek communion with Christ that I might understand his Word. I’ve learned what grace truly is and that there is nothing we can do to earn it. No matter how much or what you set aside in your life, even sin, it will not earn your salvation. It is a gift not dependent on your current state. I’ve learned that once you accept this gift, all you have to do is sincerely seek Christ and walk with Him daily and if there is doubt in your heart, to seek the Father that He might lead you to the arms of Christ where there is no doubt. If you do this, your path will be divinely ordered and you will walk in the light of truth. I’ve learned that no one but the Father knows the hearts of His creation and that I am called to be His light, not His cattle prod. Even those who are blatantly in sin, I do not know their heart, I am only called to love them. I will be changed through this exodus to heaven, to be like Christ. When I am tempted to worry, when I am tempted to doubt, I only have to remember the providence of God and that all time is in His hands.

I have truly learned that Satan is here to steal the truth, your victory, your loved ones and your joy. He is here to separate you from the Father with anything at his disposal, he is here to cause confusion, hurt, and pain. Only I have the power to separate myself from the Lord and He does not easily let the kicking and screaming toddler have her way. I have learned that I am a conqueror and co-heir with Christ and that no weapon formed against me shall stand.

My life is in the tight grip of God Almighty who loves me unconditionally!

This Sunday, August 24th, 2014, will be a momentous occasion for me, I am being baptized and I really believe!

Baptism 6

Honeysuckle

So when I was praying for God to show me what to write about next, honeysuckle came to my mind.  Honeysuckle?  What in the world?  I looked up information about the flower, it’s got great uses, it’s edible and it smells divine.  I knew that I had this awesome picture of some honeysuckle my youngest brought to me one day and that I could use that for a picture in my post, but what in the world would that have to do with my next blog post?

Further prayer, and I get James.  James 1:9-11 speaks of the rich fading away like a little flower in the field.  The hot sun rises and the grass withers; the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away.

I was still not getting a clear connection of what I was to write about.  I was frustrated and troubled in my spirit.  So I decided to soak and meditate and I began imagining the picture of the honeysuckle that I had taken that day, so long ago, not too long after I began my return as the prodigal.

Then wham!  It hit me!  The picture I took was lying on top of my journal, my Christian journey journal.

171

I searched high and low for last year’s journal and found the message.  Whoa and behold, a warning.  One I must heed and so I take a small hiatus until God releases me.

“You must wait to proceed until you clearly understand what God wants you to do and how He wants you to do it!”

So, I shall return when it is clear what God wants me to do and how he wants me to do it.  I deleted my essay on the rest of Luke 6 because that came after this warning and I did not have peace with it being public anymore.  As of October 27th, 2015, I have also deleted  my posts on the  First and Fourth Commandments.  Please pray that my heart and mind will be soft and open and ready to receive and act upon my calling.

Until then, toodle loo!

Easy Yoke, Light Burden

I have prayed before starting my blog for my Lord to keep me from pride, to help me keep things in His perspective, to keep me humble. All I had to do was read one chapter of Luke and I am so humbled. If I cannot do one chapter of Luke, what gives me the right to speak one word to one reader?

Luke 6:1-10

Jesus heals on the Sabbath. Jesus was challenging the religious of the day. They did not understand the heart of the Sabbath. The rulers had imposed so many rules for the Sabbath, what joy could be found in keeping it? They wanted their traditions followed so much that there wasn’t even room for good works on this blessed day. Jesus healed on the Sabbath, they even harvested enough grain to eat on the Sabbath at the chagrin of the establishment.  The Sabbath was made for man and not the other way around. Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath. Jesus challenged the system and we should to, especially when we are told things are sin that God did not say was sin. We must challenge the religious when they make the faith harder than it is. Jesus’ challenges are hard enough and there are enough scriptures in the Bible that tell us what is sin without people adding anything to it.

Holiness is something that happens as we walk with God, not something we can put on or take off. So many have been lost to legalism. So many have been afraid to draw near to God because of legalism. I know of at least one personal case where a friend of mine would not become a Christian because that person could not give up smoking and a few other things. That person is no longer alive. Is smoking really a sin? No, smoking is not a sin. Is it a yoke? Yes. It is a yoke. A yoke that causes harm to your body, but it is no more a sin than eating things that you shouldn’t be eating or overeating. My friend couldn’t give up some of the things that had her bound so she would not come to Jesus. Why must we present perfection when we cannot attain it ourselves? Why must my friend have died without coming to Christ? She couldn’t live to the church’s standard so she didn’t even try.

Come to Jesus as you are. I don’t care what you have in your closet or even if you are in it. It doesn’t matter. Draw close to Jesus and He will draw close to you. His heart will become your heart and as you walk daily with Him, the things that hinder your journey will eventually fall off. Come to Jesus today. Do not wait. There is not time. A great shaking is coming. It is time to change directions. Repent, confess, believe and begin the journey of your lifetime!

Hello World!

This is my very first time attempting a blog.  I love to write.  Many have said I write well, but that is definitely subjective.  The thing is, I usually have a lot to say, that I want others to hear.  My only outlet has been Facebook but no one ever sees the little place on the home page that you have to click on just to see the word “notes” that opens up to the things I have written.  Unless Facebook generously shows all my friends what I post when I post it, most do not see what I write.  I want that to change.

Most of my writing is from my heart.  I love to testify to what God has done in my life.  But, lately, I have felt things deep in my spirit that I want to share.  I’m hoping that maybe something I have to say may help someone else possibly dealing with the same things I have dealt with.  My other hope is that when God lays something on my heart and I write about it, I hope the right person comes to this blog and reads what God has just for them.

Please be kind with your comments.  Feel free to disagree and tell me why, but I will not tolerate any negativity, name calling, berating…you get the drift.  I’m always up for a good discussion.

We are made overcomers by the word of our testimony and I’m about to climb a mountain!