His Elect

I’m studying in Romans 8 right now. I have read Romans numerous times but every time I feel like I knew nothing of it when I go back through it. I am currently at verse 33 which says “who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the One who justifies.”

Elect. That word can create quite a division. As a reformed person it means more to me than I can express. Whether you agree fully on what it means, for yourself, you can at least admit that it’s an unbelievable thing. The word Elect means literally to select or make a choice, to choose out, chosen. The idea is that it’s the ones who have been chosen for one’s self, selected out of a larger number. Let’s stop there before we go any further. It is so hard for me to wrap my head around that statement initially. I was chosen by God. Why would God choose me? That’s something I’ve asked myself so many times over the years. I can hardly fathom that the God of the universe who is perfect and holy and completely righteous would choose me, knowing my failings and my rebellion and disobedience even after I would accept His invitation by His grace.

Webster’s defines elect as “to pick out; to select from among two or more, that which is preferred.” In theology, it is to designate or choose or select as an object of divine mercy or favor. When I read that I thought, “well I understand then.” One of the reasons He chose me was because He was able to display His divine mercy in His choosing of me. I was a mess before He saved me and in so many sins that I’m ashamed to admit,even now . Even though I have been made a new creation, a new person-I hate the thoughts of the sins I committed against my Father. All sins deserve death, one sin deserves death, but mine piled up and absolutely deserved divine wrath. I know many sins were because of the hurts and wounds I incurred throughout my life. I was searching for something to fill me, to be loved and wanted and accepted. Some sins were simply out of the wicked pride that looms steadily in my heart. Others were out of ignorance and yet some were out of straight rebellion to God’s holiness. And all of that, that person is the person He chose. I could never repay God for what He has done for me. None of us can.

Chosen has the accessory idea of kindness, favor and love, the equivalent to being cherished and beloved. It’s those chosen of God for salvation or as members of the kingdom of heaven, and who therefore enjoy His favor, and lead a holy life in communion with Him. They are called saints; Christians. What love does He have that He would cherish me-us? Someone wrote that Election is God’s eternal choice of persons unto everlasting life-not because of foreseen merit in them, but of His mere mercy in Christ.” We have been chosen in Him/ in Christ before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before Him.

Spurgeon said regarding election that “there seems to be an inveterate prejudice in the human mind against this doctrine of election and although most other doctrines will be received by professing Christians, some with caution, others with pleasure, yet this one seems to be most frequently disregarded and discarded.” Why, why would we ever disregard one of the most precious doctrines in the whole bible? In the rudiments, election means simply the act of choice whereby God in love picks and individual or group out of a larger company for a purpose or destiny of His own appointment.

Now saying all of that, here is the beauty of that verse perfectly said by Spurgeon. “Most blessed challenge! How unanswerable it is! Every sin of the elect was laid upon the great champion of our salvation, and by the atonement carried away. There is no sin in God’s book against His people. He sees no sin in Jacob, neither iniquity in Israel. They are justified in Christ forever. When the guilt of sin was taken away, the punishment of sins as removed. For the Christian there is no stroke from God’s angry hand-nay, not so much as a single frown of punitive justice. The believer may be chastised by his Father, but God the judge has nothing to say to the Christian except, “I have absolved thee; thou art aquitted.” For the Christian there is no penal death in this world, much less any second death. He is completely freed from all the punishment as well as the guilt of sin, and the power of sin is removed too. It may stand in our way, and agitate us with perpetual warfare, but sin is a conquered foe to every soul in union with Jesus. There is no sin which a Christian cannot overcome if he will only rely upon his God to do it. They who wear the white robe in heaven overcame through the blood of the Lamb, and we may do the same. No lust is too mighty, no besetting sin too strongly entrenched; we can overcome through the power of Christ. Do believe it, Christian, that your sin is a condemned thing. It may kick and struggle, but it is doomed to die. God has written condemnation across its brow. Christ has crucified it, “nailing it to His cross.” Go now and mortify it, and the Lord help you to live to His praise. For sin with all its guilt, shame, and fear is gone.”

Wow, I don’t know if anyone else needs to hear this today, but I know I do. I needed to be reminded what election means for me today. It means I’m loved, chosen when He seen ahead at all the bad things i would do..and still He set His love on me and chose ME! It means my punishment of sin was removed. It means I’m justified and never stand condemned again. It means He is never going to look away from me again or close His ears to me as His enemy. It means that I can come to Him and He hears me and will answer me. It means that the sins i struggle with, though I will always fight them, no longer have power over me. They don’t condemn me and they aren’t my master anymore. And it means that even when I still stupidly choose sin and then come back to God in repentance with cries for help and mess up again and feel this cycle of struggle in sin- He helps me, He forgives me and He isn’t pouring anger out on me.

Believers, your sins are forgiven, you are His elect. I pray that you have some peace today in this. And in transparency, please pray for me in this area and in learning who I am in Christ. I realize I’ve struggled with that and want to know more and grow in that in Him. Thank ya’ll.

Until next time Deo Valente

Am I not enough?

How many of you have asked that question of yourself? “Am I not enough?” I know I have too often. My very condensed answer to that question is no. No we aren’t enough, but He is. And that’s what this blog post is about; not about ourselves but about Him.

In the book “The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment”, Jeremiah Burroughs makes a point that a godly heart enjoys much of God in everything he has, and knows how to make up all wants in God Himself. What if God takes away what you have? What if you have a little, and God takes It? What do we do when something we love is taken, when a dream or desire we had is taken or not fulfilled? When all is gone, we can make up those losses in God. If we really believe that God is our portion, my source of all my happiness and blessing, won’t we be content in Him should He take everything else? This was my prayer tonight, that should He will one day to take everything from me but Himself, that I will be content in that, that It will be more than enough.

We don’t live so much in ourselves but in God, continually. Jeremiah says “if anything is cut off from the stream, he knows how to go to the fountain, and makes up all there.” Everything I enjoy; food, sleep, people, intimacy, clothing, a home, money- everything I enjoy is a pipe, a conduit of God’s goodness to me. So when He takes away the pipe, He wants me to then go directly to where the pipe once delivered from, from the fountain- the source. He wants me to come to that and drink. He wants me to find all the satisfaction I found in those things in Him. John Piper says that “God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him.” I think that’s true. Elkanah said to Hannah “Am I not to thee instead of ten children?” I used to think how insensitive this man was, but as I sat and read that tonight I believe he was being used as the voice of God. Is God not to me more than all the comforts and joys this world has to offer?

God is more than anything here. And everything good that’s here is the image of His goodness to us. I thought tonight how God is using these pipes to convey His goodness to me. I thought of how Tim, when he tells me he loves me, holds me, provides for me- how it’s God’s display of His absolute goodness to me. I feel His love. How when my babies snuggle with me, they are used as a pipe of God’s goodness to me. I feel His comfort. Every good thing here is but a taste of the joy and pleasure to come. I thank God for the everlasting joy to come.

I pray your heart is encouraged to find all your satisfaction in Him tonight. I pray that He would create a heart in us that longs for Him with everything we have. That as we are friends, daughters, wives, moms etc, that we are able to see His great love for us in every thing we do and see.

Until next time, God bless

The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment

I’m reading a book right now that was written in 1648 by a Puritan man named Jeremiah Burroughs. It’s called “The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment.” It’s been so far, one of the best books I’ve ver read. I thought I’d share some of what the Lord has been showing me so far.

Paul said in Philippians 4 that he had learned how to be content in whatever circumstances he was in. That means that whatever state he was in, whether he had little or much, hungry or full, naked or clothed, though he had no outward comforts and worldly conveniences to supply his necessities, he had a sufficient portion between Christ and his own soul to abundantly satisfy him in every condition. 1 Timothy 6:8 says that “having food and clothing let us be content”, Hebrews 13:5 says “let your conversation (your conduct or behavior) be without covetousness and be content with such things as you have.” And 1 Timothy 6:6 says that “godliness with contentment is great gain.”

If I had to summarize contentment in one phrase it would be to have a quiet spirit before God. It freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal on every condition. I thought about Aaron when his sons offered “strange fire” in Leviticus 10. Fire came from the presence of God and consumed them, and the next verse tells us that Aaron remained silent. What could he say to God? What argument could he offer? God brought death to his sons who did what He commanded them not to do, what could Aaron say? Nothing.He held his peace. I thought of Job, when God began to speak to him, Job said, “how could I ever reply to you, I will put my hand over my mouth.” Again, what could Job say to God’s absolute holy and infinite wisdom? Nothing. And neither can we, contentment is a quiet spirit before God, standing in submission to what God is doing because we love Him and trust Him. When we see the hand of God doing something, we are to submit our hearts readily.

Contentment is the opposite of complaining and grumbling to God in unhappiness. That is not to say we can’t pour our heart out before the Lord with all our troubles, anxieties, disquieting thoughts and our frustrations. I believe we absolutely can do that, but we must strive for a content heart in all things where we aren’t angry at Him for not doing things the way we want them. It talks in the book about contentment not coming from outward things to please you. It says that if someone is upset and you bring him a thing to make him happy, It might quiet him and he’ll be contented. (I think of a baby, when he is upset he needs a thing to make him happy). The thing that quieted him and made him happy was the thing you gave him, but that’s not true contentment. True contentment is when It comes from our own heart instead of an external thing.

Is the hand of God bringing an affliction, yet your heart is troubled and discontented? We have such a finite limited mind that we can’t understand all that God is and certainly all God is doing. We see affliction one sided, but when we know the loving character of our Father, we can trust what He is doing. Then not only do I see that I should be content in the affliction but I’ll also see that there is good in It. I will see honey in the rock. And so not only will I say “I must submit to God’s hand” but also will say “It is good for me that I have been afflicted” -Psalm 119:71. Submitting to and taking pleasure in God’s disposal means submitting to what He does because we see the wisdom of God in everything. The Lord knows how to order things better than we do. We only see things at present, but the Lord sees a great while from now. And how do I know but that had It not been for this affliction I should have been undone! We must submit to God in every condition, in whatever befalls us. We are apt to think that any condition is better than the condition that God has placed us in. We do that all the time..”if only you’d not taken this but that, then I’d be content.” “If It had been my health instead of my marriage” or vice verse or any degree of wishing we had something else and THEN we could be content. But it’s a lie. We are never satisfied. We will always be able to find fault and wish we had something else instead. But we must not be our own carvers. Whatever afflictions God may place us in,we must be content it, in every affliction and the time of It and the continuance of It.

Paul said he had all and abounded and he was full (Phil. 4:18). But what did Paul have that could make him say he had all? he had no bread, he was often naked, he was put in stocks and was whipped and cruelly used, he was sorrowful yet he was always rejoicing. He was poor yet he made many rich in Christ. He has nothing yet he had EVERYTHING. He had Jesus and the rich undeserved gift of eternal life.

We have that same gift, we can rejoice today because our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life! And in that we can be content! I pray you are encouraged by what the Lord used Jeremiah to share. I know I have been so far. I will share more soon Lord willing.

Until next time…

The Celestial City

I was talking with the Lord tonight and I thought about Paul Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress.” I don’t know if you’ve seen It, but the newest animated/cartoon one is the one I was thinking of. At the end of the movie, Christian finally reaches the Celestial City, what he has been working so hard to get to. I mingled that thought with the end of The Chronicles of Narnia. The children get to this massive wall of water which is the entrance into heaven. I was thinking about how suffering keeps our eyes on that city ahead, looking forward to the day when we will reach that wall of water where there will be no more suffering.

I was thanking God tonight for my affliction (which is only by His grace and to His praise, and not always done in a good attitude) and one of the reasons is because I can look forward to the day when I get home and there will be no more suffering. I thank God that there will be a day that there won’t be a “needs be” for my affliction for holiness, sanctification, growth, to keep my heart tethered to His or even just because of the sin that is in the world. There will be a day when all that will be a distant memory because I will be in the presence of Absolute Perfection.

I feel like Christian at the beginning of his journey where he can barely see the flicker of the light from the celestial city ahead. It’s barely visible but he keeps his eye on that as he struggles and fights to get there. It’s his only goal. He leaves everything behind for that city ahead. Every day when I wake up, I’m one day closer to going home. I can rejoice in that. I’m a little bit closer to the city and I can see the glimmer from the city lights a little bit brighter.

This is short, but I just want to encourage you to keep your eyes fixed on that little bit of light ahead that is getting brighter each day. Pray for the grace to rejoice in the fact that you are on your journey home. You may be “sitting still” living your life, you’re not doing much, but you’re moving. Each day you’re closer to going home! I guess to some It may sound sad or even morbid, but to me it’s hope. I love being here on this earth, I love my husband and my children, I love living, but I will love home infinitely more and I want to have the grace run to that day with joy and full of hope. Know that you’re closer to home and one day, all the suffering will be gone. We get one shot to rejoice and make a testimony in suffering, and that’s here on this earth. Let us pray together that we use It for His glory and honor. ❤️

Until next time….

It’s Been A While

It’s been quite some time since I’ve posted. In honesty I think the reason I stopped writing on here was because I felt like no one was reading It, so there wasn’t much point to continue writing and “wasting my time.” But, is anything wasted that we do for Him? I don’t believe so. Nothing is in vain.

Today was a bit of a more rough day. I don’t know how you are but when I’m having a tougher day, I’m so weepy. All I want to do is cry. I’ve been that way as long as I can remember. Whenever I was sick or didn’t feel good, I’d just cry all day. But I’m learning that those days like that make my heart so much softer to Him and in worship to Him. In tears I find myself being compelled to worship who He is, for all He is and all He gives.

With POTS I don’t handle heat well as well as standing for periods of time. Some days standing doesn’t bother me too bad, but today wasn’t one of those days. On the days like today when I’m more sensitive physically I notice just an overall sick feeling. I just feel “not good” though I can’t pinpoint It often. But being today was one of those days, at church today I was standing outside with my husband talking with family in the Lord. I could feel that “feeling” I get when I start to notice I’ve probably been standing too long, which was only a few minutes. I started to “pump” my legs while standing hoping to cause blood to stop pooling but It didn’t seem to work. As I was talking to one of my dear sisters I could feel It getting worse. She offered me a seat but It was too much, I really needed to lay down to stop It. She went with me to the car and while I laid there we talked. Even as I’m writing this I’m crying as my heart is so thankful to the Lord for her, in her kindness just being with me and caring about me. And while I talked with her I heard the words come out of my mouth “I hate this.” Oh Lord forgive me. How can I hate what comes from my loving Father’s hands. I’ve learned recently that when I’m affected by something it’s because I have experienced a thing, judged It, deemed It as good or bad and then acted in feeling and/or emotion as a result of that. Today what I did was see my physical sickness as bad and judged It as bad and felt the emotions of hating It. When I say no to my babies, I tell them no because I love them. How my heart would ache if they wanted the thing that wasn’t good for them and judged the thing I was doing as bad, hating It. To me that is a direct correlation of being accused of doing an evil thing, and not loving them.

I don’t have the the “right” to judge the Almighty’s purposes and plans. What right do i have to examine something as “good” or “bad?” I have no right to say to the Potter, “why did you make me this way?” I don’t like POTS. I don’t like feeling sick. I don’t like not being able to do the things I think are good, like spending time in fellowship, going out and doing things, being able to drive my kids places etc, but just because I judge them in my own finite mind as bad, does that make It so? No. I am not God. He alone is God and what He does and wills is good. While I laid in the car today, I felt Him whisper, “Thank Me.” He wanted me to thank Him for the affliction. So I did. I always think of Corrie Ten Boom and her sister in the concentration camp when they were infested with fleas. They were biting them constantly and they got no rest. But Corrie encouraged her sister Betsy to thank God for the fleas. He deserves praise for the “good” and for the “bad.” Job 2:10 says “shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” And Job said again in chapter 1 verse 21, “the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” Accepting what God gives us is contentment. I asked God tonight to give me a heart that doesn’t want more than what His hand has given me. If It be affliction, then let me not long for anything else. If it’s suffering, then let me not want relief. I want a heart that is quiet and content with what He gives me. Why? Because I know He loves me. I know He is my Father who loves me more than any person ever could, and in loving me, He will do the absolute best for me. I can trust Him. He has proven Himself faithful and trustworthy. I ask that you would pray for my heart in that area of contentment. I do long for the day when I will be made whole, not just in the area of physical suffering but in every other suffering that ails man, but also freedom from my flesh and it’s sinful desires. I hate It in me, and I want to run until I run into His arms, where It will be no more.

Let me encourage you today to thank God for whatever situation, in everything give thanks. This is the will of the Father. Why? Because you know the One whose hand It comes from. ❤️

Sola Gratia

A week or so ago, Ali did something, I don’t even remember what It was, but I felt to offer her grace in the situation instead of discipline, grace she didn’t deserve for this situation. She seemed pleased and thankful that she wouldn’t have some form of discipline taken into action, whether it be no tv, no iPad, no barbies etc. A little while later, i caught her doing the very same thing again. And in that situation the Lord pointed something out to me as I spoke to her. The Holy Spirit was speaking to me.

Before I share that, let me explain that God is doing a work in my heart in regards to seeing Him. If I’m completely honest, I’m starting to see God differently than I ever have before, a deeper understanding of Him, if that were even possible to begin to do that. In the church of Christ, there are many different beliefs about grace. A friend once so correctly said “sloppy agape” is what is in the churches. I’m not speaking of outward grace toward one another though that is needed but more specifically His grace towards us. Paul said “should we sin that grace may abound?” In other words, we know His grace is so big that we use that as an excuse to sin in our own lives. We know He hates lying yet we choose to lie because we don’t think it’s that big of a deal and He will forgive us. We choose to gossip because we know His will forgive, or pornography, cussing, using His name in vain, stealing, cheating, fornication, adultery, envy, unforgiveness etc, fill in the blank-whatever is, we do them with the mindset that He is merciful and will forgive us. A few days ago, I was speaking to a friend and said something that was one of the stupidest things I’ve said in a while, I made a comment though it was meant to be funny,was in fact damaging to that person in the body of Christ. Immediately when I said It my heart sank. How could I have said such a dumb thing like that. When we got home I sat with the Lord and knew immediately I had to eat some humble pie and apologize to this person. But the Lord pointed out that though I was apologizing because It was just wrong, I was more concerned about apologizing to that person and maintaining my character than I was broken over the weight of my sin before Him. I grieved for that whole day and continued to ask God to help me. But for the first time in a long time, I think I felt just a small amount of the grief and displeasure and sorrow of my sin. I knew I had hurt my God. I knew I stepped outside of His glory into my own flesh where sin is so rampant.

In that conversation with Ali, when she did the very same thing that I had just shown her grace for, I looked at her and said, “Ali, mommy gave you grace for that thing and you did It again. The grace that I showed you, that you didn’t deserve should compel you to not do that very thing again!” And immediately I thought of me with God. His abundant grace, the very thing that doesn’t destroy me in my sin which I so very amply deserve, should cause me to fall in gratitude and awe of Him and worship at His feet for forgiving me. I don’t deserve forgiveness, i don’t deserve His mercy or grace. And yet, in my own life, that’s not always the case. I find my sin nature so strong that it’s impossible to break free, It is by the grace of God alone that I can when I do! Nothing is impossible with God.

He is everything. My absolute favorite scripture in the Bible is Acts 17:28 that says “in Him we live and move and have our being.” It is in Him alone and His marvelous grace that we wake up every morning. It is in Him alone that we are not overcome by sickness and disease this very second. It is in Him we are able to walk or talk or cook dinner or eat or whatever It is. Is is in Him we are His. It is His abundant grace that is more beautiful than anything there is. His grace was displayed in Jesus Christ on the cross and in His resurrection. In HIM live and we move and we have our being!

The name of my blog is Sustained By His Grace, and that is true especially in my own life. I/We are sustained only by His grace. I want to encourage you today, to look to God today for His grace. Ask Him to open your eyes to the reality of what we don’t deserve and how much He has done for us and ask Him to incline your heart to be compelled to worship Him in thanksgiving for the mercy He has shown you. I pray that we would behold the glory of our Savior today as we do that. If we were asked hypothetically when we got to heaven why we were there, we can’t say, “it’s because of ME! I made the decision and I came!” Yes we made a decision to follow Him, but no! It is by the grace of God that we are there. His wonderful grace is what brought us into glory! It’s what carries us today, and has been since the day of our birth and will be until those who are His are called home.

Until next time-

A Time for Everything

I have been doing a morning and evening devotional by Charles Spurgeon. It has honestly been one of the best devotionals I have ever read. I love Spurgeon and Tozer and other great men of God who gave such meat in their preaching and teaching. It’s very rare in my opinion to find ones who teach that way anymore. This morning Spurgeon talked about how the Lord sends showers of rain talked about in Ezekiel 34:26 and he likened It to grace. The Lord sends showers of blessings in our lives. He sends showers, not trickles. He gives grace in the same measure. He is the Source and Giver of these great gifts. The season we are in individually, whatever It is, whether drought or a season of great difficulty with dark clouds, He sends showers. I thought about for those in seasons with dark clouds, when you look outside and you see dark clouds what do you think of? For me, I think that It indicates rain is coming. So for many who face dark clouds, look up and see It as an indicator of great showers, showers of grace in your life for the difficulty you’re in. Now if you’re like me, I often don’t feel the grace in the trial. It seems sometimes as though its barely getting by, but then I take a step back here and there and see that I wouldn’t be able to even finish each day if not for His grace. So though I don’t feel It or even see It in the season, I know that it’s there. Deuteronomoy 33:25 says that “your strength will equal your days.” I say to that, His strength will equal our days. We only have strength in Him and through Him. The scriptures tell us that in Him we live and move and have our being. Anything we have or do comes from the Source, Him! Spurgeon said at the end of the devotional that all of His blessings go together like links in a golden chain. For example, if He gives grace for conversion and salvation, He will also send grace for comfort. I think of the scripture where It says if we ask Him for fish, will He give us a snake? And the scripture that says He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, will He not also freely give us all things? The point here is that He will give us the grace in every trial, even if we don’t feel It. He will be with us even if we don’t feel It. He takes care of us and loves us even if we don’t feel It.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 tells us of seasons. It tells us that there is an appointed time for everything.

There is a time to give birth or be born and a time to die. Every person, lest the Lord return will be born and they will die. But for us, death is not the end. For those who belong to the Lord, we have a hope that goes beyond this earthly life. We know that those who have gone before us who are His, we will see them again. Very often I see when people die, they try to console themselves by saying that they’re in a better place. Sometimes yes, they are with the Lord, but more often that not, those who say that about their friend or loved one, they may not be in a better place. God is just. People who are “good people” don’t enter into heaven, no matter how amazing and sweet they may have been here. The scriptures tell us that we can only enter in one way, through acceptance of Jesus Christ as our Lord and our Savior. There is no other way. We can’t enter into heaven because of our good deeds or because we haven’t “murdered” anyone or “stolen” anything. Truth and justice establish His throne. Jesus Christ is our redemption and Him alone.

There is a time to plant and a time to uproot. In your life, you may have been or be planted somewhere, whether geographically or emotionally and God will uproot you to somewhere new. In our life, we were planted in SC, the Lord uprooted us to Ohio. In that there is loss, loss of my family and their companionship, but there’s also gain, gain of being where He wants us, gain of our friends and family in the Lord. If you think about a garden, there is a time to plant seeds and then there’s a time to uproot what those seeds have grown into to nourish many. We will go through those times of planting and uprooting in our lives.

There is a time to kill and a time to heal. I thank God for the promise of healing, whether It be on this earth or in my eternal home. There is comfort in knowing that one day my physical afflictions will be over.

There is a time to tear down and a time to build up. I first think of a building. Sometimes they need to be torn down for something new to be built. This is very true in our own lives.

There is a time to weep and a time to laugh and a time to mourn and a time to dance. This is a great amazing promise and hope. There will always be laughter after weeping and dancing after mourning. It may take a long time, and It may seem impossible after loss, but there will be a time where you laugh again and a time where you dance.

There is a time to throw stones and to gather them. There is a time to embrace and a time  to refrain. There is a time to search and a time to give up as lost. There is a time to keep and time to throw away. There is a time to tear apart and a time to sew together, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, and a time for war and a time for peace.

It seems that there’s always a letting go of things in life. That is maturity and growth. We do this in our natural life and in our christian walk. God never intends for us to stay where we are. There is a design created by God of growth and change always. If we live today the same way we did before we got saved or even the day we got saved and we haven’t changed any, we still talk the same, live the same etc, It would be a good idea to seek the Lord and either give your life to Him completely or ask for a desire to change. There are seasons in our life, it’s the way God designed. We see It in nature and in our own lives. There are seasons of life and death, seasons of gaining and losing. But Ecclesiastes tells us that It doesn’t stay there. That is the hope. It will always ebb and flow.  He has made everything BEAUTIFUL in its time. This is God’s sovereignty. This is the hope we have in Him. Beauty is the final word, not death, not destruction or loss. He will use every single thing in our lives and make It beautiful. He causes all things to work together for good in those who love Him. It’s for our good and for His glory. He makes everything we go through absolutely beautiful. That is a promise.

Take hold of that promise today that the pain, the loss, whatever It is, He will make It beautiful. You can trust Him.

Until next time, In Christ,

Lori.

Oh My G*!

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A couple of nights ago, we were all watching a movie on Netflix. I am a sucker for Christmas movies and this Christmas movie looked particularly good. About an hour into the movie, the main character said “oh dear G*@.” I immediately cut It off. We have gotten into the habit for years now to cut a show off if It uses the Lord’s name in an unholy way. I have to be honest though, I struggled with my flesh with the temptation to cut It back on later and watch It. Of course, the Lord is so good and helped me resist that temptation, but I got to thinking about the Lord’s name. Many would say It is silly for us to cut off an entire show because of the Lord’s name being used. I decided to pull out my Strong’s Concordance and dig deeper.

I learned that the first time we see the word “name” used is in Genesis 4:26. It says that people began to call on the name of the Lord for the first time. When I think of “calling on the name of the Lord,” I think of calling out to Him for help or rescue. But as I studied I began to see that wasn’t at all how It was used the majority of the time. A name has always been something very important to God. In Genesis 11 we see the people building the Tower of Babel because they wanted to make a name for themselves. We see in Genesis 12 where God promised Abram that He would make his name great. Abram then builds an altar to the Lord and calls on the name of the Lord. And in Genesis 17 we see where God changes Abram’s name which meant “exalted father” to Abraham which meant “father of multitude.” Names meant something to God. They always have. It tells us that God has called us by name in Isiah 43:1-5. Calling by name showed a type of relationship, an ownership almost. We see repeatedly throughout the word that when someone called on the name of the Lord, It was worship! It was worshipping Him. To speak His name was to exalt and worship him as God.

In the Jewish culture the name of God is held in such a high regard that they don’t say It or spell It. They refer to Him usually as Adonai or Jehovah and when they write His name they write It as G-D, lest they write It in an unholy manner. I believe that they have a grasp on the holiness of God that us Gentiles have not caught onto. In the ten commandments, there is a command to not take His name in vain. Now some Jewish rabbis disagree a tad here on the exact meaning, some believe It to be speaking or saying His name in any profane or vain way, and some believe It to mean using His name in oaths that you don’t mean. The Jewish philosopher Maimonides said that “If because of a slip of the tongue, one mentions God’s name in vain, he should immediately hurry to praise, glorify and venerate It, so that It will not have been mentioned in vain. If he mentions God’s name, he should say ‘Blessed be He for all eternity’, or ‘He is great and exceedingly praiseworthy,’ or the like.” Do we revere God’s name in such a holy way?

Why is His name so important? Acts 4:12 tells us that there is no other name under than by which we must be saved! There are many gods or names that the world calls on, but there is only one that can save us. That is the name of Jesus, It is God Almighty, I AM WHO I AM, Immanuel. Today our brothers and sisters in various places are being imprisoned, tortured and martyred for the name of christ. Paul and others in the bible bore the name of God and suffered for His name, but they counted It a joy and an honor to be counted worthy to do that. Romans 10:13 tells us that whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved! The name of God is banished in various places, the name of God heals, delivers, restores and saves!

The name of God is a holy name that should be exalted above all other words. It’s by His name we are called and by His name we reveal who He is to the world. I believe the Lord wants to encourage us today to think before we speak His name in an unholy or careless way. The world says that OMG and the like are no big deal. But from what I see in the word, I see exactly the opposite. I believe He wants us to reevaluate what we set before our eyes and ears for entertainment or casual conversation. He has been given the name above all names, let us show reverence and honor for that very name. Until next time…

 

IN CHRIST,

Lori.

Grief

Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross wrote about the stages of grief in 1969 in her book “On Death and Dying.” She says that there are five stages of grieving. There is denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

I see a christian counselor every week who has been helping me process and heal so many areas of my life. She truly is a woman used by God in the tool of healing, not physical as one might only think when I say healing, but mental and emotional, which are just as real and valid and just as much God’s work. She encouraged me to analyze the stages of grief as It pertains to my chronic illnesses. I thought It funny because I had read a while back about that very thing but thought I had gotten to acceptance. Yet I continually find myself back in those same feelings of anger and depression and much more!

I found an article tonight as I’ve been pooling resources to go through grieving with the Lord. What I learned tonight was that grief for chronic illness in not linear. It was said once that when you grieve chronic illness you think of It as a continuous spiral. I’ve often thought in my own mind of a landscape of mountains that one goes up and down up and up and down on repeatedly. When you lose a loved one, the grief is different-not any easier, but different. You lose someone and you have to grieve them no longer being with you anymore. You have to grieve in such a way that you go through those steps which are hard and finally get to a point of acceptance and using those things to help others. I think about my Grammy. She passed away a couple of years ago but up until then I had never experienced death. It was something I couldn’t have prepared for ahead of time. We went down to SC when we heard she only had days left. It was so hard to see my Grammy like that. She was so frail and yet this was the same strong woman on the inside. I remember realizing for the first time how much I hated death. I realized the significance in Jesus taking the keys to death and hell and death being the last enemy to be destroyed when Jesus returns. The day we had to leave, I sat by her bed, hating so badly to leave her, but I looked at her and said “Grammy, we have to go back home now, but don’t worry I’ll see you soon.” Her eyes filled with tears and she shook her head no. I knew what she meant. She knew her days were coming quickly to an end. But what I meant was totally different. I had the hope that one day, I would see her again, at our real home. It was all I could do to keep my composure but when I stood up, It was as if all energy and strength had been zapped and I buckled and just wept. It was uncontrollable. It caught me off guard. To not be that much in control of my emotions was hard to experience. The whole drive home I maybe said a few words. I tried to sleep so I wouldn’t have to feel the pain. When we got home, I couldn’t get the door open fast enough. I ran inside and ran straight to the bathroom. I cut on the shower, closed the bathroom door, got in the shower and cried as hard as I could. That was part one of my grieving her. I went through the stages of grief with her. I even wrote her a letter and told her everything I never got to say to her which was another step in healing for me. The Lord often allows me to have dreams of her where she’s normal and it’s just me and her. And I have accepted her death, though talking about her still brings me to tears.

But grieving chronic illnesses are a different thing. With Grammy, It was one and done in a sense. But with my affliction, it’s constant and never ends. I read that chronic illness means that new symptoms crop up or existing symptoms worsen with some regularity. And EACH TIME this happens, we go through the grieving process again. The author also wrote that she often like myself finds herself quietly crying in bed (or in my case, my closet), plagued with self-doubt and feelings of worthlessness, cancelling commitments, internally being angry and frustrated at my body for not doing It what I want It to do. Being angry at myself for not being able to relieve some burdens off my husband, not being able to go on a walk with my kids, not being able to take them to the park without daddy, not being able to go buy groceries, or take them to band practice or homeschool activities without taking my husband who is exhausted from working, or driving myself to my appointments. The feelings depression, anxiety and fear that’s associated with that and all of these feelings I just mentioned, that is grieving! That means that because chronic illness doesn’t go away (unless the Lord heals), I will constantly have to grieve with all the same emotions grief brings. It means that there is a level of constancy just in the very act of grieving.

It was written that acceptance doesn’t mean that I don’t experience all the other feelings, or that the process is easier, but It does men that I let go of what I think my body should be or do and embrace It instead for what It is now, brokenness and all. I may have to grieve the whole process a million times before my earthly journey is over. I may grieve all stages in a day or in a month, or I may be in acceptance for a day or a week, who knows, it’s too much work and energy to figure all that out. What I do know now is that it’s a constant thing that I will always have to work through with all the hard emotions and feelings that go with It.

I realized tonight that acceptance though i’ve learned in certain aspects of It certainly with the Lord, I have yet to accept my body for what It is now and embrace that realizing that in my brokenness is Christ’s strength. I journaled tonight a long list of should’s to the Lord that I felt I needed to express. And as I was doing that, my writing shifted only by Him. I wrote that at the end of that “should” list, that I should be able to do a lot, but I can’t, and it’s not my lot right now. Though those are things that were a part of me then, they aren’t now, and that’s OK. Now, I have to embrace It for what It is! It’s a broken, unpredictable body that belongs to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! It has value and meaning and purpose and BEAUTY. What It is now is what I have to learn to love. This is my normal. Yes, I desperately want the old me back as I long to have Grammy back, but it’s gone unless the Lord’s sees fit to grant me healing before I go home and receive my ultimate healing one day.

The new me has helped me journey with the Lord in deeper ways than I ever imagined. It has shown me His grace and strength are truly what I need. It’s shown me that I can truly do nothing apart from Him. It’s shown me truth and pulled us out of ungodly doctrine. I’m more dependent on Him. It has blessed our marriage so much. Yes, it’s certainly been made harder, but blessed It all the more. Tim has learned to love me as Christ loves the church and lays himself down for me. He has learned to serve me and lay aside his own desires as I have learned dependency on him. Christ has shown me how he has used Tim as a clear picture of Him to me. It’s been beautiful to see. I love the me now that God has used to teach my children deep truths that come through suffering. It has taught my oldest to learn to serve her sisters when I need some extra help. It’s taught our middle to pray. She prays over me and thanks God that He is using this suffering to keep me close to Him and He has a plan and purpose in It. It has taught our youngest to love deeper. They all have learned compassion and grace for me but also others. Their hearts are for people who are suffering and they pray for them. It is teaching them the foundation of Christ alone. Though the new me can’t go out and hang out with my friends like “normal”, the new me has been able to value the close friends I have and pray for them as often as I think of them. The new me is available to them at any time to stop and petition God for their needs. The new me has shown me true friendships who faithfully love me even when I can’t be a typical friend to them. The  new me has a crazy love for others who suffer and a mama bear instinct to protect their hearts. I get extremely angry when I hear them being told that they just need more faith, that they are in sin or that it’s their fault. I have a godly jealousy to protect their hearts from the enemy who tries to draw their affections through false hope or pull them into despair. The new me has learned boundaries and is still learning them to protect myself in so many areas of my life. The new me has learned that I can’t make everyone happy or make everyone like me. That has been hard because I desire that so strongly. My Lord was perfect and was still hated and rejected. It brings me great comfort to know that it’s an unrealistic expectation. The new me has learned that perfectionism that I struggle with is an attempt to control, to calm my anxieties and help me feel safer. But I am learning that God is the only one in control and as much as I grasp for that, It will vanish as soon as I think i’ve grabbed It, because It was never mine to begin with! The new me has learned that I’m not promised tomorrow and have realized that every moment, every breath, every day is a gift from ABBA. There is much more that i’ve learned and an immeasurable amount more He will show me because He is faithful to complete the work He has started in me. And He will with you too.

I encourage you who need to grieve, grieve. Don’t try to handle this yourself and don’t be deceived that you can just pull up your big girl pants and just keep trucking and be ok. It’s ok to not be ok all the time. it’s ok to feel all of these emotions and process them one by one as many times as you have to. I encourage you who need to grieve, write down what you’ve lost and your anger and go through the steps of grief. But do this knowing that it’s ok and the Lord is healing you even in this. He is the Healer, both physically, mentally and emotionally. And He is good and will not waste your grief. God bless you all.

 

Until next time….

The Value of Christ

I have been having a very rough few days, both physically and emotionally. I notice that when I feel worse physically It affects me mentally. It’s hard to keep my head up and stay in Christ when I’m struggling physically. The last few days have held a lot of tears and my notebook has held lots of journaling.

This morning after I did my “calm” app on my phone, I started reading a book that I got from the library at our local sale a few weeks back. It’s called “A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23.” It’s written from the perspective of this man who was actually a shepherd at one point in his life and he helps to bring understanding to what David meant when he wrote Psalm 23. It was saying how the part “I shall not want”, has a couple of different meanings. That though it does mean Him meaning our actual needs, that a second emphasis is the idea of being utterly contented in the Good Shepherd’s care and consequently not craving or desiring anything more. It’s the idea of being under God’s care and knowing It. It’s entrusting yourself to Christ’s control and finding contentment. Now, contentment is something I pray for almost daily; I ask the Lord for contentment with joy. I don’t feel like I have that at all yet, but like my calm app said this morning, be patient and realize that each seed planted will bring forth a harvest. (The irony is that it’s encouraging scripture and they don’t even know It.)

I thought about Paul where he said that he has learned to be content. This encourages me because it’s something that i just have to keep working at It with His help, it’s a learned behavior and learned behavior never comes easy or fast. He said He has learned the secret in It. The secret I believe is the value of Christ.

I don’t claim to have gotten this, so I’m preaching to myself here, but I think understanding the value of Christ is what Paul was talking about. Here’s what I mean by that. Christ is more valuable than what I’ve lost. For me that means my health stuff. He’s more valuable than being healthy. His presence is sweeter than feeling good. That is easy to write in words but in the day to day for me it’s extremely difficult. But He is encouraging me back to this again today. I have to be honest, I get very frustrated with myself and my walk. I’ve been sick now for 5 years, and I wish that I was at a place of pure joy and peace and contentment as a light to others but I find myself still struggling with the same things over and over. I get angry, I get bitter, I get frustrated, I get in deep pits of despair and depression, I get jealous of others who aren’t suffering, I lack faith, I lack trust and so on. I still struggle day to day with the same aggravating things but this is my walk. It’s a daily effort trying to keep my eyes on Jesus so i don’t sink but to be honest, i sink A LOT. but all of this will one day all make sense. And if I understand the value of being in fellowship with Christ today, then It can help redirect my thoughts and my perspective and treasure Him over what I’ve lost.

I’ve noticed for me that I am very hard on myself and very critical. I notice all the things i can’t do. I notice all the way I let my children down. I notice all the ways that I can’t be the mom I want to be for them. There’s so much guilt that I battle daily just in that one area. I desperately want to not have to rely on my husband to buy the groceries after he’s worked 12 hours. I want to be able to drive my kids to get ice cream. I want to be able to not have to have my husband sit with me at co-op for my kids every week when he’s exhausted or have him drive me to my appointments when he’s falling asleep on the way, I want to be able to run around outside and play normal things or go on vacations without being laid up in the bed for days because of the sever vertigo from the drive. There’s so much I want that I don’t have, but is Jesus more important than all of It? Yes, He is. He’s more valuable than what I’ve lost. One day, when I go home, I won’t even remember all of that I believe. All of those things will not matter in eternity. When I will be in His presence, all of these struggles will not even hold weight compared to being with Him. The things I desperately want to do as a mom also won’t matter in eternity I believe. What will carry on into then is what I’m doing eternally with my girls. Reading them the word daily, gently and patiently instructing them, teaching them to love Christ and love others, all those things will hold weight. And in eternity I don’t believe my girls will feel cheated because i couldn’t do things for them like other moms. All that will matter is Jesus! All that will matter is being in the sweet presence of God.

It’s faith in the Sovereignty of God. It’s knowing that He is totally and completely in control of this really hard thing I’m battling. It’s knowing that He loves me and that He will not let go of me. I want to encourage you today, in whatever your struggle is, whether It be anxiety, panic, depression, physical suffering, grief etc, that Jesus is valuable. Though none of It makes sense now, and It seems like empty happenings with no meaning or purpose in sight, that one day, It will all be make sense. That It will be to the praise, glory and honor of Christ when He is revealed. That when you enter into His presence one day in eternity, that His beautiful face and His holiness is all that will matter. Yes these things hurt today, they’re very real feelings and emotions and He understands that. And He isn’t angry at our emotions in response to what we are going through. He keeps those tears we shed and He sees and hears. But looking forward to the things unseen, and knowing that He is more than what we are going through can give hope and help in the struggles of today. One day at a time we take this sojourn, sometimes we take It minute by minute, but He’s there. He will not leave you today.

Until next time…

In Christ,

Lori