Wednesday, April 30, 2008
A Fresh Word From The Pastor's Heart~
Rev. A. Kelly Stanley, Jr.
Max Lucado, in his book The Gift, tells the true story about family therapist Paul Faulkner, who set out to adopt a troubled teenage girl. She was destructive, disobedient, and dishonest. Right now I know what most of you are thinking, “Has he lost his mind? What in the world is he thinking? Teenager? Does he need his head examined? Teenager? Troubled? Disobedient? Dishonest? Let him have mine for a couple of days and he will think twice!” Some of you who have raised teenagers probably would agree with Mark Twain, who said when a child hits 13, put them in a whisky barrel and seal it and don’t let them out until they’re 21.
Lucado says that one day when the girl came home from school, she ransacked the house looking for money. By the time Faulkner had arrived, she was gone and the house, well, to say the least, looked like a tornado had gone through it. When Faulkner shared what had happened to a friend, the friend suggested to Faulkner to not finalize the adoption. The friend said, “You haven’t completed the paperwork. You haven’t signed any documents. Let her go!”
Faulkner’s response is surprising: “But I’ve already promised her that she would be my daughter.” God has made a promise, a covenant to adopt us into His family. His promise is not conditional. It is not nullified by our rebellion. It is always easy to love someone when they are obedient, loving, and respectful. Jesus talked about this in Matthew 5:46-47, ”If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even scoundrels do that much. 47If you are friendly only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even the heathen do that” (TLB).
The Bible tells us, “The proof of God's amazing love is this: that it was while we were sinners that Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, PHL). I love how The Message Translation words it: “But God put His love on the line for us by offering His Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to Him.” When we ransack His house and steal what is God’s, His love never fails. He passes the test.
Faulkner did not look at his ransacked house and say, “Come back when you’ve learned respect.” No, in spite of our sin, in the abrupt face of our rebellion, God chose to adopt us. The Bible says in Ephesians 1:4-6, “Long before He laid down earth’s foundations, He had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of His love, to be made whole and holy by His love. 5Long, long ago He decided to adopt us into His family through Jesus Christ. What pleasure He took in planning this!” (MSG).
Just like Faulkner took pleasure in adopting that teenage girl, God took pleasure in the planning, the implementation and in the adoption of us. God did not put us in a whiskey barrel and seal it until we were “good.” Instead, He has chosen to put us “in Christ” and let the love of Christ change us from the inside out. God took great pleasure in this. The only question is: do we take great pleasure in being “in Christ”?
Take a moment to think on that question. Are you still like that teenage girl or are you being transformed by the love of Christ? The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Whoever is a believer in Christ is a new creation. The old way of living has disappeared. A new way of living has come into existence” (GWT).What is dominant in your life: the old you or the new creation?
Monday, April 21, 2008
1. $11 Billion to $22 billion is spent on welfare to illegal aliens each year. http://tinyurl.com/zob77%20
2. $2.2 Billion dollars a year is spent on food assistance programs such as food stamps, WIC, and free school lunches for illegal aliens. http://www.cis..org/articles/2004/fiscalexec.html
3. $2.5 Billion dollars a year is spent on Medicaid for illegal aliens. http://www.cis..org/articles/2004/fiscalexec.html
4. $12 Billion dollars a year is spent on primary and secondary school education for children here illegally and they cannot speak a word of English! http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0604/01/ldt.0.html
5. $17 Billion dollars a year is spent for education for the American-born children of illegal aliens, known as anchor babies. http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0604/01/ldt.01.html
6. $3 Million Dollars a DAY is spent to incarcerate illegal aliens. http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0604/01/ldt.01.html
7. 30% percent of all Federal Prison inmates are illegal aliens. http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0604/01/ldt.01.html
8. $90 Billion Dollars a year is spent on illegal aliens for Welfare & social services by the American taxpayers. http://premium.cnn.com/TRANSCIPTS/0610/29/ldt.01.html
9. $200 Billion Dollars a year in suppressed American wages are caused by the illegal aliens. http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0604/01/ldt.01.html
10. The illegal aliens in the United States have a crime rate that's two and a half times that of white non-illegal aliens. In particular, their children, are going to make a huge additional crime problem in the US . http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0606/12/ldt.01.html
11. During the year of 2005 there were 4 to 10 MILLION illegal aliens that crossed our Southern Border also, as many as 19,500 illegal aliens from Terrorist Countries. Millions of pounds of drugs, cocaine, meth, heroine and marijuana, crossed into the U.S. from the Southern border. Homeland Security Report: t9sht http://tinyurl.com/
12. The National Policy Institute, 'estimated that the total cost of mass deportation would be between $206 and $230 billion or an average cost of between $41 and $46 billion annually over a five year period.' http://www.nationalpolicyinstitute.org/pdf/deportation.pdf
13. In 2006 illegal aliens sent home $45 BILLION in remittances back to their countries of origin. http://www.rense.com/general75/niht.htm
14. 'The Dark Side of Illegal Immigration: Nearly One Million Sex Crimes Committed by Illegal Immigrants In The United States '. http://www.drdsk.com/articleshtml
The total cost is a whopping: $ 338.3 BILLION dollars a year.
So I guess my opinion is .....wow America must not be as bad as Hollywood and the liberal media made it out to be....Look at how many people will do ANYTHING to be given just the chance to live here! So maybe we should just get rid of all the people who openly hate our country and capitalism (yet that's why they stay here -- because the resources available) and want to change everything about it. Let them start their own country -- and make more room for people who will appreciate all our freedoms.
Friday, April 11, 2008
Update -- okay "yall" --- so my lack of being a Bible scholar showed in this original post (and probably still will in some way or another)!! I was using the term "law" that we are called to follow but I wasn't talking about the Mosaic Law. I was using "law" in terms of a moral code.....not as Mosaic Law set in the Old Testament. So I'm going to go through and fix what I wrote and change those to "moral codes" instead of "laws" to not cause confusion. I really do believe that God expects us to live a life of morality, integrity and love. I hope the makes more sense now!?!?!
PLEASE continue to challenge me -- I am such such a baby in the knowledge of the Bible, etc. I only know what I feel after I read scripture and I don't always know the "right" words for it ya know?!?!?!
Okay here's the original post with revisions. Revisions in white:
For the longest time I have gone back and forth with this battle. Let me present both sides of what I have struggled with.
I know that there is right and wrong. I believe God has laid it down. Morals are good...... it's just that we could never live up to them because we are sinners, falling short of the glory of God....and God knew that, so He sent us Jesus. Jesus removed any laws/rules/codes as a way to get to heaven.....not because the morals or rules were bad but because we were!! He fulfilled the law (both Mosaic and moral codes), which called for perfect obedience and so because He stepped in for us - we (just t by believing in Him) can have the power He has, the righteousness He has. We will never be Him....but we can get more like Him every day as we can allow Him to continually cover our darknesses with His light. The way we were bound to laws before has been destroyed....but that doesn't mean there is no moral code!
God has given me an extremely passionate conviction for the Truth. For right and wrong. For the morality our souls are based on. I hate sin. I hate my sin most of all. I absolutely believe that people just can FEEL right and wrong....I believe that our souls KNOW that we were designed to be "good" or "right" and our soul also feels that something has gone wrong. People try to fill this lacking they have with so many things --- worldly success, self-righteousness, religion, selflessness..... but the Truth is that Jesus is the only thing that can step in the gap for us and make us "right". He is the only thing that helps our souls be what they were designed to be, reflective of God. Speaking with my pastor and his wife via email the past few weeks they told me in our last communication that they believe I've been blessed with the spiritual blessing of discernment....the best I have heard discernment explained is, "to distinguish between truth and error, to identify whether something is of God. This gift involves wisdom and prayerfulness" .... so that being said....wow! I don't know if that's true of me or not...but I know this: I can't even express how strongly I oppose this "relative moralism" that has soaked into our culture. To be quite honest, I don't like that we as christians have lost our backbones when confronted with the option to stick up for Truth and morality...and we do this all in the face of love, mercy and tolerance.
Hold up though before you start pulling on your robes...... there's more pieces of this puzzle I need to put together.
The other side:
We are called to be understanding, loving and merciful. We are called to give people approval and acceptance right where they are, to be Jesus to them.
So we are just supposed to be tolerant of everybody?! Not ever stick up for any Truth or morality? We are supposed to just be okay with our culture that is running away from God? From Bringing Up Boys James Dobson writes, "Americans once expected parents to raise their children in accordance with the dominant cultural messages. Today they are expected to raise their children in opposition." I am sick of having to fight against my culture. I am sick of what is allowed into our public schools, television, radio, and shopping malls and on and on and on. I am sick of the minority being the ones to take a stand. I believe things can change. I have hope and faith for this country!
So how do we do this? How do we stick up for morality and righteousness without putting legality above Jesus? How do I be bold in my convictions that He lays on my heart but not push people away? How do I show the mercy and love and forgiveness He brings but also call people to a higher standard of living. Is it even possible to do all these?!
YES it is possible! I guess the loving part of this though depends on your definition of love. Does love to you mean an emotion? Making others "happy"? As a parent, I am truly learning about "tough love"..... doing what is BEST for your child, whether they object or not. Doing what is best in the long term, even if it hurts temporarily. Jesus' new law is all about loving God first (for example....wanting to please Him by doing whatever we can to live a moral, godly life) and loving others....sometimes with tough love.
But how to stick up for morality? Stick up for it in your own home above all else! After Jesus comes into our hearts -- that's just the beginning. After He comes into our hearts, I believe we are called to allow Him to make us right. To help us live up to the way of life God calls us to live. We will never be perfect --- but that doesn't mean we don't allow Him to make us closer to it every day. Morality, and clear cut right and wrong is a great thing.Obviously. Since Jesus walked on this earth and followed the morality "code" to a T and was perfect.....we should obviously try to follow it as well. He was righteous and moral and at the same time loving and merciful and that is why so many were drawn to Him!!
The beauty of what I'm feeling now is that God is helping me overcome this battle!!! He is helping me find ways to do both! I (obviously) don't have all the answers. But I do know the more time I spend with Him - I am not becoming LESS passionate. I am being MORE passionate but also more at peace. The 2 can exist together ya know!! I am at peace because of Him and the hope He brings --- but passionate for the Truth He has laid down in my soul.
I want to shine the righteousness He is....but in a humble way that draws people to me and therefore drawn to him. And I'm finding it's possible! I really don't have to apologize for the righteousness He brings me! I have found that I CAN be ME - passionate me that is full of emotion and full of conviction. What's different now was explained in my blog entry about emotions ---- I realize it's WONDERFUL to feel so strongly and passionately ---- but it's never wonderful to be controlled by that emotion. The 2nd part of what has changed is understanding that I can't WILL myself to be righteous or moral all the time . I simply have to conform through the Spirit more and more....and that is what brings me more righteousness, the ability to live with a higher standard... doing it that way, leaves no room for the devil to puff us with pride - we understand the Spirit is what makes us good and people will see that humility. (see previous blog link to Beth Moore's site for more on this).
So, we (I) have to harness those convictions we feel and just take those emotions as being a sign from the Spirit that is our calling. When our passions are aroused, our fire is ignited, He is asking us to turn to Him and He is leading us toward our earthly calling. Our passions were laid on our hearts for a reason. So we shouldn't be scared of them or ashamed of them. But we have to let the Spirit control. When the situation is right, He will give us words, He will allow us to do "right", He will help us be an example and challenge others with the Light we shine. So many of the times we 'teach' just by example! "Actions speak louder than words" --- so true.
I went through this stage the past year that I was ashamed of my passion. Because of what some had said to me, about me... I started second guessing my convictions. Was it wrong to want to shine His righteousness? Is it possible to be too "righteous"? I was ashamed that maybe I had put morality above Jesus. Maybe I was too focused on 'rules' and not on Jesus..... but God has shown me that I should never be ashamed of His Truth. Jesus IS the Word, the Truth! The Truth and righteousness I have is just because He is in me! If my light is too bright for others -- that's okay. It's not my job to dim the light. My job is never to lower my standard or stop waving the banner of Truth....my job is to keep the high standard for myself, my home my family....but to love on others right where they are. To show them that the light Jesus shines through me does not make me better than anybody --- it just means I accepted the gift available to all. But I need to be accepting of people right where they are. I need to continue to be PATIENT with people, patient with God working in people!
I don't want to be a pushover ever. I don't want to back down when asked an opinion of Truth. And I don't want my son to grow up in a culture so de-moralized. What will this culture/country be like when he is in high school if this demoralization of society keeps going at the rate it is now!? I want Raymond to know that there is a right and wrong....and He is going to learn it. I believe it is my calling as a parent to instill right and wrong in Raymond. I don't believe He should decide or learn what is right and wrong by himself! Doing "right"/having a high moral code is not going to get him to heaven...but he will respect the moral code while under my roof forcibly and he will obey it. I don't believe adults are ever called to be our children's friends, playmates or allies above all else like Hillary Clinton and other moral relativists preach....they believe since there's no absolute right or wrong.... that adults aren't really to teach or preach -- we are called to just be colearners...facilitators. They believe since nothing is right or wrong, everything is just relative - meaning "what's right for me and what's right for you" is what's right. It's so against the Truth! Do you realize what a HUGE turning point in our country this election is!??! I don't take this lightly at all. I hope you all don't.
Regarding tolerance and this moral relativism spreading through our country..... I absolutely believe when laws or moral code tries to be all inclusive, all encompassing --- Truth is ALWAYS sacrificed. You can't create Truth! You can't create morality! It's already been created! THAT is why Jesus had to come --- because God saw that we couldn't live up to what we were originally designed to be... so we started making our own laws and religions and it split us! Jesus is the only thing that has ever been accessible and available to ALL that didn't sacrifice Truth in doing so. Because He was perfect - He was righteous and He wasn't ashamed of it. He stood up for justice and He wasn't quiet about it.
This blog entry all comes because I have been asking God these questions for quite a while and then today I read more of Bringing Up Boys by James Dobson --- any mom out there who has a son - I HIGHLY recommend this. It is a huge eye opener for what is happening to our boys and what is happening in our culture. and it fired me up! :) The old Randi would read a book like Bringing Up Boys and just feel soo passionate I thought I'd explode. I'd get sssooooo fired up, ANGRY even.....and just want to go step all over everybody shoes and scuff up their boots. I'd get into emotional debates....I'd just be so full of just raw emotion.... New Randi reads this and walks away excited. Now, after reading something like this, I say,
Thank you God for this passion. Thank you for laying this Truth on my heart and convicting me so much. Remind me God that YOU are in control. Don't let me get too emotional over this God --- but don't let this fire die either. Remind me God that we need people who have a fire in them for Your word and Your Truth. and remind me God that no matter what direction the world is going on -- you will win in the end. Guide me and tell me what you want me to do with this Truth you have given me. Just ingrain it into who I am and how I live. Help me live out what I am learning. And when the time is right God, help me feel the nudge to stick up for the Truth and help me do it in a way that is loving and never condemning. Merciful but bold.
After reading Bringing Up Boys tonight and then reading some articles from michellemalkin.com which always fire me up too.... I asked God to please give me more. I needed to hear more about what HE thought of all I was reading. Then a few hours later (I can't believe how quickly He works - I was just thinking like sometime this MONTh would be great!) I turned to Ephesians again and read.....
29"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for bulidng others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen"
31 " Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
32 "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you"
Ephesians 5 goes on to say:
1"Be imitators of God, therefore as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God"
To be imitators of God! To do whatever we can to live up to the moral code He lays down - knowing that it is NOT what gets us to heaven -- but to do it because it is pleasing to Him! Much like our children should obey what we teach them. It goes on to speak against sexual immorality, impurity of any kind, greed, obscenity, foolish talk, coarse joking. And we know that what comes out of us is what we allow in. We can't practice these things --- which means we can't allow them in to us at all! Which means we have to shut off anything that is spreading unTruth. The TV, the radio, whatever is promoting these seeds, we need to shut it off. Don't condemn those who watch it -- just protect your own home! What are you allowing in? (and of course I am talking to myself here --- I have a lot of work to do and a long way to go)
Ephesians 5 goes on to say...
8 "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and Truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.
11 Have nothing to do with the fruiless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them"
If that isn't calling us to a higher standard of living, I don't know what will. If this doesn't show there is a right and a wrong and we are called to obey it, I don't what does. If this doesn't give us freedom to shine our light, I don't know what will! Morality is NOT the most important thing. Obeying moral code won't get you into heaven, but don't you want to please God!? Once Jesus is in us --- we are called to a higher level!!! We no longer are called to live on a human level a worldy level. We are called to live by the Spirit not the flesh. To conform to the Spirit, not the world!! As a parent, I know I will bless and be so so pleased with Raymond when he obeys our household rules and does it with a thankful and loving heart. I want God to be able to be pleased by me in this same way!!!
So Ephesians was totally what I needed to hear. God gave me just what I needed, as always. He reminded me that YES morality is great. That I am called to live at a higher level. I should boast in Him and the righteousness He brings! Because *I* don't get credit when there is any righteousness shown in me.... it does not make *me* any better --- the credit goes to who is in me that changed me! God reminded me today that I can be passionate but I need to keep the emotion out of it. He reminded me NEVER to be full of anger or bitterness or any unwholesome talk no matter how fired up I get - He is the victor, forever and so we know who gets the last word. I should speak the Truth in facts like Jesus did to the woman at the well. He pointed out factually not emotionally the fact that yes she had had 5 husbands and was living with a man who wasn't her husband now....and then He extended her mercy with the solution...Him.
More lessons for me: Never be bitter or angry at a person because of a sin you see. It is possible to hate the sin but love the sinner. Most importantly realize that you are the worst sinner you know..... understanding your righteousness comes from Jesus alone will take away any pride or condemnation. Being lead by the Spirit leads only to humility.
It's okay if people run away from the Light. The point is, you shed some light into their darkness. Pray that someday when they are ready to confront that darkness, they will be drawn to somebody else's light who will be able to exclaim and show them that Jesus is the source and He's available to ALL!! Then pray that that person who accepts Jesus into their hearts will realize that now, becuase Jesus in in them , they are called to live up to a higher standard, a higher moral code -- because of the power of perfect righteous Jesus in them!!!
THAT is how we change the direct of our culture!!!
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Did anybody else watch it tonight though --- the Idol gives back show? I have to say --- I thought it was an awesome example of the good God has done through America!!!
Sadly, I couldn't even believe my ears when the last song they sang together as the Finale song was "Shout To the Lord"
how bout that?!?!??!?!?! :) That was a very attyptical Hollywood move! Praise God! I am so thankful they gave Him praise and credit for all this good work being done through them!!!! WOW!
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
I didn't even realize the Truth I learned could be called "freedom from self" or being "dead to self". I never really understood those terms - but now I do. I don't feel chained to my flesh so much ...if you know what I mean. I can't express what I feel...it is not a giddiness at all, it's not "happiness" ... it's more just like an eternal peace and freedom that make me look forward to heaven so much but at the same time thank God for allowing me to grow on earth here and have the free will to choose Him. It's almost like the experiences of the flesh make me appreciate so much more the Spirit...ya know? The chains I used to have on me, make me appreciate so much more the fact that my debt is paid the chains are gone, Christ has set me free.
So I thank God for each of you who allowed Him to plant seeds to me through your words and encouragement - I don't want to name names because I read so many blogs that plant such positive seeds - but you know who you are! And that wonderful church drama on Sunday I know also was a way of God speaking directly to me. As the drama cast scenes of persecuted christians - people who were willing to die for Christ.... I realized that although I do not feel I am called to go and be a martyr for my religion or even go and live outside of America --- dying to my flesh, letting Christ be my King is just like these christians who laid down their lives physically for Him. Dying to self is the first step to getting eternal worth.
I am willing to die in self for you, God, the Lord of Lords, King of Kings. I want YOU God to be the # 1 in my life. Self is not # 1. I know my soul is where I get my worth, God, not my flesh. My soul is made in your image and that is where you gave me my worth -- it is what will be eternal. Help me be obedient to the Gospel and help me continually walk with you and fellowship with you because I know without doing these things, my soul has no worth -- therefore I have no worth. Help me put you first, help me make YOU my King, others second and me third. Please continue to restore my soul God and put a hedge of protection around me as I start this process of deliberately dying to self. I know I will be challenged on this and I know I'm just taking the first baby steps in doing this -- but I am willing to start this journey.
Thank you God for all these seeds you have been planting! Thank you for the sunshine on my face right now as I smile up at you and thank you SO much for the Holy Spirit, His comfort and guidance and reassurance. Please help me continue to have the discipline needed to set aside time for you and to humble myself before you daily!
6For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with,[a] that we should no longer be slaves to sin— Romans 6:6
20I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me Galatians 2:20
Monday, April 7, 2008
(*update -- actually I was a day behind on my post - baby audrey is born but is expected to meet Jesus today.....check for updates http://audreycaroline.blogspot.com/ ) The doctors believe she has no chance to live outside the womb.
What a heartwrenching story. What what really got me about this entry was this beautiful woman's heart and faith. As I read this, I saw my past.... Although I don't have an extreme case of anxiety like "Angie"/Angela talked about - having to be hospitalized ---- the stories she told from her childhood were very relatable to me. I hadn't really thought about some of these memories in a long time - but thinking about them - my emotions were so raw and real. I just thanked God for helping me overcome so many fears, anxiety, and worry. I thank Him so much for just helping me realize that *I* am not in control and it's not *my* job to take care and help everybody. I have a LONG way to go in this area.
In my compassion for others, I still try to rescue and help everybody. It makes no difference that I'm doing it out of concern....when I try to save instead of giving time and space to others - it's not good. I need to let God be who He is, the perfect Savior and stop getting in the way because of my emotions. I know that God sees my heart and knows that I just try to help others because I know what He offers and I want them to have what I have --- but I am learning that GOD is the only Savior. He will rescue people how He wants, when He wants, through whomever He chooses. I have to let the SPIRIT lead me, not my emotions. I'm not sure this blog entry will make sense to anybody at all but me....but I am going to keep writing.
When I was little, I was just labeled "too sensitive" and as I grow up - I believe that God has revealed to me that yes this can be a positive trait, but I have to allow Him to take over when I feel this compassion. When I see people suffering and feel so sensitive to their pain - I can't react or try to "do" -- my first step needs to be to turn to God and ask for Him to step in. So *my* job is to let him refine me and whenever I'm confronted with somebody's hurt or somebody's pain, I just give the situation over to HIM, not pretending I can fix them all the time. I need to be lead by the Spirit not by my "heart".
Some examples I thought of regarding how "sensitive" I was when I was little:
- I went home crying numerous times a year - usually in the first weeks of the school year - just because I saw something that made me sad and I needed my mom to comfort me. This happened until I believe 7th grade. Some examples I remember that started the tears that made me run to the office to call my mom, were Melinda sitting by herself at lunch. ____ wetting his pants and me just being humiliated for him. The boys at recess throwing rocks at a bird. The boys at recess picking on 'Jimbo'.
- Not being able to color with just one crayon --- if I colored with one, I had to color with all the colors so none would feel left out
- in the same thought -- never being able to pick a "favorite color" when asked
- The stuffed animal example she explained from Disney World was so real to me. I used to get so sad going into any place that had stuffed animals. I wanted to take them ALL. And my own stuffed animals at home had to be given equal attention and I had to say good night to EVERYTHING in my room before going to bed.
I know that a lot of this is my personality - my sanguine parts just feels SO much emotion SO strongly for others that I get consumed by it and want to fix it NOW. The Spirit is the only thing I've found that can tame my emotions. Everything changed when I realized just how much He absolutely takes care and SAVES people. I started to have hope for the people that I saw hurting. I realized that IT'S OKAY...these people will be okay! Just because of Him, not because of me. God may use me --- but ultimately it's still Him that deserves any praise .... obviously.
By my husband's plea a few months back (because of the mistakes I made in my emotions - because of my hurt caused by others on blogs and in "real" life).... I no longer visits sites or spend time with people that make me upset (and if I have to spend time with some of these people - I just read a LOT before I go and ask for prayer!), which helps me have less emotional ups and downs. I also talked to my friends about my "sensitivity" and they no longer 'pass along info' that they know will hurt me, passing it just because "they think I should know what is being said about me". Because really --- like Brandon reminded me -- I care what God says about me and nobody else. And by hubby's plea # 2 - I no longer look who reads my blogs, so that I can truly have a pure retreat - not writing for any responses (although I do so appreciate all the comments), but instead solely writing from my heart without any interference in my mind as to how things will be perceived. And finally --- his last piece of advice - when I am hurt - bring it to God first and then to Him. Not to others, not to my blog, don't take it out on myself or the dog or Brandon or anybody.... find positive outlets. Read the Bible, pray, play the piano. God really can take away our hurt and bitterness and fill us with more love to give out even to those that hurt us. So there are some examples of practical true advice my phlegmatic peaceful and never dramatic never overly emotional husband gives me.
But I still mess up a lot because of my emotions. Just ask my poor husband who has seen all sides of my sin but just loves me anyway because He knows the true Randi that God is refining. Anybody who has read my blog for a while has seen my emotional posts. Even in the past 4 months I've posted entries on here responding to things in my hurt and responding with my emotions only....and then later on when I have 'calmed', the Spirit nudges me that I need to remove them. Not because I want to present only the righteousness that I have because of Jesus....but I need to remove them because those posts, whether I stated the names of people or not, were broadcasting the hurt in others and/or sins in others - which does absolutley no good to anybody except helps *me* to be able to get out what I'm feeling. I realized that I can get my emotions "out" privately in a journal and it would be much better for everybody.
I realized that showing my emotions is an awesome thing on this retreat --- but not when it involves others. God would want me to leave my emotions regarding other people private. He *may* nudge me to confront a person directly after I am calm - but it's never my job to react to others so intensely ---- only to act when He calls me.
My emotional posts are not my true or real feelings by any means. After the emotion is gone, I look back at my emotions and I'm just like ugh that is gross. They just sounded bitter and I didn't want anybody on my blog at all to have to even spend time reading it. Hubby and God are enough encouragement for me - and if I need more godly advice, I'll go to my godly friends but never on the blog again. I'm so thankful that I am not one of the types that doesn't say I'm sorry. I can't even count the number of times I have to apologize to people around me -- it's a lot! I'm a pretty big messup. But I think more than anything me not doing that sin again is the greatest apology - so that is why I'm working on me!!!! I hope the peole around me see that. I pray they see that I don't want to cause hurt so that I'm allowing God to change me and I'm getting rid of all remembrances of emotional posts. Emotions are so so so powerful. They *feel* so real and true at the time we are in them --- but they're not. They are reminders of our sinful selves - not the new Spirit that God gives us when we accept Jesus into our lives. I will continue to remove posts that I write out of anger or hurt if I mistakenly post them at all. I don't want to be lead by my emotions anymore - I want this blog to be honoring to God --- so I will continue to broadcast my own journey (not others)... I'll show my sins and my mistakes, but in a way that is God-honoring. Talking about them after the emotions have passed.
I am going to pray every morning that no matter my circumstances - God helps me be lead with the Spirit not my emotions!!! This is what I want. I want God to help me harnass my compassion and allow it to be used when HE wants it to be used and HOW HE wants it to be used.
Bottom line -- allow Him to take control. Allow Him to save. My job is to get close to Him - when I'm in conformity with Him through the Spirit, He will use me as He sees fit.
Sunday, April 6, 2008
The drama was entitled, STAND Live the Life. I can't do this experience any justice in my words - but I want to try to at least describe it and what I felt during/after. It was all inspired by Great Stories of the Faith --- it was the message of the gospel told through the eyes of our persecuted Christian brothers and sisters throughout the world. It had scenes of Creation, The death & resurrection of Jesus, Nazi Germany, Afghanistan, Communist Russia, Romania and China.
The major theme I kept hearing was all about the Word. The Word became flesh with Jesus and because He arose - The Word is still alive today! He passed His power onto us!! We are called to be The Word!! How incredible!! We are called to spread the Word --- sometimes verbally. With our love, our forgiveness & mercy we give to all, our servitutde to others, our willingness to give away of our blessings. It was an INCREDIBLE call to ACTION! Not all of us are called to GO outside of our most amazing country to live somewhere else......but I believe we are all called to support missions financially and in prayer.
During the scenes of Nazi Germany I just weeped thinking of my PopPop. I know that when PopPop and grandma both went to heaven - God abolutely said to them - well done my good and faithful servants. During those scenes, I kept thinking of stories my PopPop has passed down to us of things he witnessed in the army during the reign of Hitler and World War II. I pray for our country and for America to still bless God so that God can bless America! I want to continue to get the wonderful blessings we have and the freedom He gives to us so we must bless others!!
My PopPop was able to speak with christian Germans whose families were persecuted during the Nazi reign -- and they warned him that all the trouble started because of many reasons that I see starting to happen in our country now. In fact, after I heard one of our potential "leaders" doing a campain trail speech last week I looked up some of Hitler's speeches and was disgusted and shocked at the similiarities. More on this tomorrow......
I am just passionate that we have to keep our country FREE....our economy free so that we can continue to have resources to bless others!! We have to do whatever we can to empower the people and limit the control of the government....we have to continue to protect God's people, the Jews... and we have to keep The Law in our laws! Like it or not --- the politics in our country very much affect the ability for God to use us to bless the world. If we make bad choices as a nation - He'll just move His blessings to others and raise up another nation and use them instead.
The missions/ministries that were represented in the fellowship hall that we got to talk to/learn about were:
- Global Day of Prayer --- let the nations arise! May 11th, 2008 - find out where all the christians are meeting in YOUR city!
- World Vision
- Liberty University - Extreme Impact mission opportunity - and residential and distance learning programs
- and the one that I was drawn to the most ---- Wycliffe (Bible Translators)
- and our very own church member Joe Carr with the very special ministry http://www.gospelforbrazil.org/
I love our Brazil ministry that our church supports. I love that our tithes are going to help a child eat and be clothed and be able to read the Bible. We forget how many people really are affected by our small decisions don't we!? There are people how need our meager pennies!!! Joe Carr spoke at the end of the drama about The Great Commission that we are called to do. And he spoke about the scenes in the film that showed communism and how INCREDIBLY beyond words blessed we are to live in the most wonderful nation created - America! We can't take for granted all the resources and freedom we have available to us!!! Joe spoke about how he believed that God created this nation - with more wealth and the ability to produce wealth ---- so we can spread His gospel. It takes resources to spread the gospel --- and we have more resources available to us than all the great empires combined. And we, as a nation have always given that credit to God and should continue to! He has blessed us! Let us continue to go out into the world and spread the Word and be used!As soon as the representative from Wycliffe came up and started talking I just really felt a connection with this ministry. I guess because I'm such a WORDS person and I can't imagine what I would do without the Bible! Over 380 million people in our world don't have the power of the Word in their language! There are 22+ languages that have Bible -- no God, no Jesus, no hope. This ministry is determined to get into these people's cultures and communities, learn their languages and have all languages have the Word by year 2025. Incredible! Brandon and I did decide to give financially to them right then when we were talking to them afterward - and I went home and called my mom about what a phenomenal ministry they had - and as soon as I said Wycliffe she was like ohhhh of course, Wycliffe Bible Translators, grandma always donated and supported them monthly..... !!!!!!!!!!!!!! It almost made me want to cry! It was like God was telling me --- I've passed this specific purpose on to you, Randi. Grandma is in heaven with me - now you must take over where she left off!! I have to get the list of missionaries that grandma donated to - the more blessed we continue to be - the more I will give to those missionaries in her name.
The Wycliffe representative shared from Revelations “After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white and held palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a mighty shout, "Salvation comes from our God on the throne and from the Lamb!”—Revelation 7:9-10, NLT ----
He talked about how when Jesus comes back, it says people from EVERY trible and nation and EVERY language will know Him and be praising Him! So they really believe that by having their goal of all langagues having the Bible by 2025 ---- that they are doing their part to be obedient and to speed up our Savior returning. I love to think about that! I can't wait for Jesus to return!!!!!!!!!
So it was just a truly phenomenal day.... I just feel sooo..... I don't even know what I feel...humbled, blessed. I guess what I'm feeling right now is that God IS using me right where I am. My little pennies DO make a difference! The time I spend with Him at His feet every day really DOES make an eternal difference not just in MY life!
During the last years of grandma's life when the disease tried to capture and take hold of her mind -- I did whatever I could to fill her with positive. I'd speak only of heaven and of Jesus to her. I'd tell her how excited she should be -- because very shortly Jesus was going to take her up in His arms and there would be no more pain, there would be complete joy and health and happiness and peace. I remember always always encouraging her -- "grandma, do you realize how much of a difference you've made for so many? To all the ladies you taught in Sunday School to all the thousands maybe even millions you donated to missions all over this world! Grandma when you get to heaven there will be such a long line of people thanking YOU for bringing them Jesus. Me included!" And I know today that all this is true - I KNOW that grandma is being rewarded for her good works and I want to do whatever I can to know Jesus like she knew Him. I want God to use my life like He used her. She didn't travel outside this country --- but in prayer and resources and enouragement she travelled the world!!!!!!!! I am so humbled by her lifework. She just absolutely loved Jesus and loved serving Him. She was so proud of Him but so humble in herself. Had such high standards but always gave so much grace to us (me) when I didn't live up to the standards she had for herself. I am so humbled that God chose her as MY grandma. I look forward to seeing how God uses me --- knowing that however He does and whatever good work He does through me - is a reward for HER also!
I am so willing, God -- do what you want with my life. Continue to stretch me and mold me and show me YOUR will.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
For example....when I had those really long posts on relationships a few weeks ago - I was challenged in many ways right after that. I still haven't blogged yet about what happened....and I don't think I will anytime soon. And just yesterday after writing about Ephesians on my book blog, writing about my purpose and my meaning and significance in bringing glory to God.... after I posted that, I had such a negative night.
For some reason I started having these thoughts like... you don't really have any meaning Randi. You really don't have a lot to offer. You don't really make a difference to anybody. ___ was right when they said what they said about you. You're really not as sharp as you think you are. Why do you think you can be used? Why would God choose you? You can't do the things you dream about. Look at how blessed ___ is, you must be doing something wrong. Look at ___, they are good at ____ , and you really don't have anything to offer like that.
And you know what happens after that ---- once the negative snowball starts it's like an avalanche of negatives. I think about the things I've messed up on, who I've hurt and who really really has hurt me terribly and start to think about negatives in my past....thoughts like, "Will I ever overcome ___? Will this relationship ever be healed? Will ____ ever know how bad they've hurt me? Will ___ ever see how hard I tried to do the right thing in our relationship? Will anybody ever recognize the good decisions I've made and how hard it was for me to do the right thing even though everything in me was telling me to do wrong? Will ___ ever know how much they really misjudged me? How come ____ thinks such horrible things of me? Am I really as evil as some believe me to be? Will I ever be able to share the good things in me? Will anybody see the good I have to offer?" and on and on and on....
and then during all that negative avalanche last night.... I literally stopped in my tracks and was like woah woah woah - where in the world did all that come from? Those are NOT thoughts from the Spirit. They make me feel yucky and icky and hopeless. which is exactly opposite of how Christ makes me feel! Having all those thoughts was shocking...and I didn't like the way it felt at all! I had to start speaking the Truth to myself. And yes I speak in the 3rd person to myself sometimes hehe....
"Randi ..God sees ALL of your decisions and rejoices in those small unnoticed steps!!! He is so proud of the things you did to show love to others when the devil was telling you to attack back. God loves you Randi and He is watching you! It doesn't matter what others think.. it matters what God thinks! It doesn't matter what false things are said or believed about you! Those things just don't matter."
and then in 1st person:
"My purpose is not defined by others. I know that I'm attacked because I know the devil fears me because I'm a christian. God is just refining me. I'm just going through the fire to get better. I will get rid of these negative thoughts by covering them up with positive Truth. I will not let my failures define me. I do have meaning. There is purpose. I was created for a reason. I will fulfill what I'm supposed to. I will not let the devil tear me down. I will let God have this victory and the way I'm going to do that is by turning to Him."
And then ater I realize what has happened --then the guilt comes on....How come Randi, you keep letting the devil in? Why do you keep thinking such negative thoughts recently? etc. etc. and then I feel guilty for even allowing negative thoughts in --- what a nasty cycle!!! So that was what was happening after that Ephesians post. I started being grouchy to Brandon and Raymond.... and finally Brandon said... hey! Randi snap out of it. Why don't we pray....
So thank God for people in my life who step in and take over for me when I am burdened with guilt or negative. And then I felt much better, back to smily faith-full Randi. So in the end, these attacks are really good things - but sometimes if I don't step back and recognize it for what it is - the devil really can knock me down. Ultimately the devil always loses because I turn back to God eventually and let Jesus fill me up.....but sometimes he wins temporarily and I hate that. I don't want him to win, even if it's just temporary.
So what have I learned from all this? Well, I'm not one of those types that expects the worst...I am always the one who expects the best and assumes things will be wonderful --- but I'm learning that sometimes planning ahead a bit for these attacks is a good thing. Expect the best, prepare for the worst type of a thing. So whenever I write a bold post about the Truth, I will expect blessings but will be prepared to be challenged on what I write about. I will be prepared to SHOW this truth is very real and true ways in my life and not just in wonderful blog land!
I hope anybody who reads my blog knows that it's okay to mess up; as long as you keep turning back to God! I hope you all know that your life is so so meaningful not because of what you do but because of who created you! I hope you know that God sees you and every small decision you make! The ones that go unnoticed and unappreciated and unpraised are usually the most signficant and life-changing decisions in your life! So keep doing right no matter how hard it is and stand on the Truth you blog and talk about!!! I am not scared to keep blogging about the truth and the convictions I am so passionate about.
And so after all that....I started thinking about my life right now. 2 years ago I wouldn't recognize my life today. I'm at a totally different point in ALL areas of my life: financial, career, spiritual, physical, relational, emotional..... and I guess what's so beautiful, and at the same time what makes my life so hard right now --- is that in the past 2 years God has literally stripped away everything my life was defined by. I remember we were at a wonderful time in our lives and were being extremely blessed in so many areas but I didn't feel close to Him...and one night I remember laying in bed praying and just crying.. saying... God am I doing what YOU want for my life? God I am willing to give you my life. I really am God. I will do whatever you want me to do. Please God do whatever you have to.. to help me make You the center of my life. I remember that night like it was yesterday. and WOW did He do what I asked. I remember praying for Him to take away whatever was keeping me from Him. I asked Him to use me how HE wanted, not how I wanted.
I had not thought about that night in years......but it came back to me the other night. I realized that all that is happening in my life is because I asked God to refine me. He heard me. I told Him that I wasn't strong enough to receive blessings and "success" and then have it torn away later because I did it without Him. I remember saying that I wanted my success to be in Him and not in the world and if I was going to get prideful in my success --- to not give me any until I could do it the right way. And I absolutely feel that is where I am right now.
He's taken away just about everything that I thought was me. The wonderful thing about having nothing but Jesus is that I have nothing but Jesus. I am not distracted. I am NOT saying by any means that to be close to Him He has to take away everything in your life. But I am saying that that is what He had to do for ME. I am too easily distracted. I'm too immature in so many areas of my life. My sanguine choleric personality needs God to be bold like that. What I am saying is that....He knew me. He knows my personality He knows my heart He knows what I can and cannot handle and He knew that the only way I would ever be able to realize and understand my true and defining purpose was to take away everything my life was defined by. To be drastic --- leaving Him and me. I am not going to talk about what used to define me... but it wasn't God.
Realizing this and blogging about it brings me so much peace. I am rejuvenated again and refreshed. God is refining me. I asked for this and I'm so so thankful for it no matter how hard it is somedays. The only reason it's hard at all is because I'm human. I keep fighting with Him thinking I need to do more, be more, accomplish more, I need to have a wordly, earthly purpose .....and He keeps saying Randi slow down. The only thing you need is me. He really is the only thing that satisfies me. And when I don't feel satisfied, when I start looking to what I need to do do do.....I realize that I need more of the Holy Spirit. The greatest joy I've felt, satisfaction and peace only comes when I allow the Holy Spirit to fill me. I need to ask for more. God gives overflowingly of the Spirit with no "cap" on how much He'll give. If I am having a hard time remembering positive things, encouraging things and yet my memory is extremely sharp on destructive things - I need more of the Holy Spirit. When I keep thinking of the hurt I've caused others and they have caused me - I need to ask for more of the Holy Spirit....and when I keep resorting back to what I was 2 years ago - chasing things that I thought would give me meaning, looking at the world for some validation of my life...I need to ask God to please slow me down, fill me with the Holy Spirit and remind me that there is no lasting meaning or purpose from this world - only in Him.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
LAST PICTURE OF RAYMOND IN THE WOMB
FIRST PICTURE OF RAYMOND OUT OF THE WOMB
Raymond has always been the most beautiful, breathtakingly cute little being to me. What a miracle he is! In so many ways.....
In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of His glory.
These verses are just FULL of wisdom and Truth to me. The first part, the fact that He's so all-knowing and all-powerful and can make every decision we make turn out right...is just so awesome. It takes so much pressure off our days doesn't it? Our job then is just to do whatever we can to be Christ-centered and lead by the Spirit...the focus isn't on any decisions we do or do not make - God will work all that out. Our focus is just to be with God, getting closer to Him daily, allowing Him to give us wisdom and discernment to live a spirit-guided life. Even when we mess up, which we will, a lot...our decisions don't ruin His ability to use us. For more on this, check out this post.
The 2nd part of this verse -- just absolutely sums up and clarifies our defining purpose as christians. In order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of His glory... To exist for the praise of His glory. To bring praise and glory to God. Our lives are purposeful, there is meaning.
Verse 9 and 10, And He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment - to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.
The mystery of His will is that we were created for His pleasure. His will is for all of us to be under Him, glorifying and praising Him. He loves us so much and He wants us to love Him and to forever praise Him..... so He had to send Christ. Our sins were separating us from God and He didn't want that. So He sent Christ to take away all of our sins - the Bible says He took the iniquities....meaning all aspects of the sin - the blame, the shame, and the consequences of them (the consequence was that He had to be temporarily separated from God) so that we could not be condemned to hell.
Hell, I believe, is more of a spiritual place than a physical like we tend to think.... I believe Hell is just to be eternally separated from God - and God doesn't want that. He wants us to choose Him and to love Him and so He sent Christ so we would be given that chance. Christ gives us the chance to love God, to choose Him. Christ was separated from God so that we wouldn't have to be. When we do choose Christ and choose God, we are then a child of God. There is no separation between us - we are part of the body. Our lives then have meaning have purpose and no matter what we do - if we've chosen Christ --- God works out everything in our lives for His glory, because we chose to be part of the body.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Maybe I'm way off base or am wrong to express these thoughts...but just wanted to share some random thoughts from my heart.......
Sooo...saying all that I hope that I'm a living testimony to His commands. I pray for God to help me love everybody in my blog life and real life, like I love Jesus. No matter the sins I've seen them commit, no matter all the wrong they hold against me, help me God to see the good in everybody, to ignore the hurt we might have caused each other and just to love. God keep me accountable to this.......
I love each of you, old and new relationships and want to protect our relationship as His church!
Some excerpts I read....
How could God use me when there seemed to be something missing in my life? Could He ever use me for His glory? .......
.....Although the Holy Spirit dwells in a believer's heart at the moment of salvation, the filling of the Holy Spirit is when a believer completely submits to the Holy Spirit. This filling was the missing dimsension from my life.....
The fear, anxieties (doubts that I would ever fulfill my "potential", worry that nobody would ever see the gifts and talents I was given and give me the chance to use them) that possessed me were not from God. "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" 2 Timothy 1:7. This is exactly what I lacked! I needed power, love and a sound mind to let God do whatever He chose to do with my life. I knew my limitations and that I could only do this by turning the control of my life over to the Holy Spirit.
It was also helpful when I realized that I was wrong in not accepting myself as God had created me. "I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well" (Psalm 139:14)
Dr Brandt talked to me about confessing my fears and anxieties as sin, "for whatever is not from faith is sin" (Romans 14:23) and then asking to be filled with the Holy Spirit. I admit there was no outward sign or expression except for a beautiful and quiet peace that settled in my heart. God was beginning to do a work in me that would be far more effective than anything I could do myself. I wanted to do the impossible for God. My new discovery did not change me overnight, in a week or even a month. But as I began to daily draw on that power, love and sound mind, God was working within me. The missing dimension had been found. My natural temperment was still a part of me, but God was going to work on my weaknesses.
This couldn't be more real to my heart right now. I feel like I could have written these words.
The book goes on to talk about our temperments, how they influence our lives, and more importantly how the Holy Spirit can create in us a new heart and build in us a Spirit-controlled life.
OHH I NEED to read this book! I thank God for these excerpts He lead me to tonight. There is hope. There is a plan. My life has meaning and purpose and I will be used!