It’s A Place We Live

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Repentance is not a place we visit.  It’s a place we live!  James McDonald

I’ve had to be broken, stretched, challenged, and changed—and I don’t want to get over it. I want to stay right in that place, and I invite you to join me there.

Why? Because repentance is a life-giving thing. It’s the cry in the mouth of almost every one of God’s messengers in the Bible. They were all calling on God’s people to repent. And not just once in a while. “Repent!” was often the whole message. When John the Baptist showed up, what was his message?“Repent” (Matthew 3:2a). “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”

Pray
Lord, thank You for speaking to me by Your Word. I am pierced by the thought that anything in me would resist those moments when You grant me repentance and open my eyes to the truth. I want to experience life deep in Your presence. I want to be ever open to Your correction, longing for the awareness of my unworthiness that draws me to You. Create in me a clean heart, O Lord; whatever it takes. I ask You this in Jesus’ name, amen.

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God’s Greatest Masterpiece

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Have you ever thought about this:

God’s greatest masterpiece of creation is you. And it is me. We are God’s greatest masterpieces.

Ephesians 2:10 say’s that “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

In Jeremiah we read, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations” (1:5).

In scripture we find, there is a unique and custom-designed plan that God has in store just for those who have put their trust in Jesus Christ. God selected you and chose you so “that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7 ).

Without question, man is God’s greatest creation. Man is His crowning achievement.

If God were to reveal to you today how much He loves you, it would overwhelm you.

We are His work of Art!  His masterpiece!

Are You Joyful

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“The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17 

Its been a while since I last wrote and well a lot has happened, In the last 4 months two of my children have been married and another will be married in 6 months. I am strong, healthy and feel more content than I ever have in my life.  To say my heart is full is an understatement.

I feel like God has blessed me so much already, and he keeps continuing to bless me.

I know I’m extremely blessed to have milestones like this in my life. There was a time when I was not sure I would, due to a cancer diagnosis.  During the many trials in my life, I have realized that I have a heavenly Father who is joyful and loves me immensely. Did you know God is a happy God?  A God who loves us?  A God who is for us?  What more do we need?

In 1 Timothy 1:11, Paul writes to Timothy about “the glory of the blessed God.” This word blessed is translated as the common word for happy. Today’s key verse gives us more evidence of a joyful God. Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

He saves. 
He takes delight in you. 
He rejoices. 
He sings.

We can be joyful right now, not because circumstances are perfect, but because our Father in heaven is perfect.

We can smile today, not because we feel like it, although, my life feels pretty perfect right now, but because we are responding to the truth that He is for us, and He is singing over us.  Isn’t that amazing!!

We pray, “Lord, make me more like You,” and that’s what we should do. But I wonder if we sometimes miss that being more like Jesus is becoming a happier, peaceful and joyful person. Living with joy is a holy pursuit, not a frivolous, shallow quest.

After all, I am sure this is why children loved being around Jesus because He had a twinkle in His eye, and a smile and He made them feel welcome. How do children feel welcome? Usually with smiles, laughs and perhaps a little fun. Children followed Jesus, which makes me think Jesus smiled and was friendly. Remember, it was a boy who gave up his lunch of five loaves and two fish to feed the 5,000. (John 6:9) That’s no small task for a growing boy!

Men and women, young and old, were drawn to Jesus. Joy is attractive. The more you put it on display, the more people want to be around you.

Can others see joy and happiness in your life? We all have different personalities, yet we are all commanded to rejoice. Rejoice in your own way; just be sure to rejoice. In so doing, you become more like your Heavenly Father who loves to sing and rejoice over you.

I know life can be hard: there are so many challenges we face in this fallen world. But, I would challenge you, even among the financial troubles, the illness, the loss, the pain, and the struggles of life, to see the blessings that have been bestowed upon us.  That should make us all smile and rejoice!

Lord, I choose to rejoice in Your love for me today. Thank You for saving me and singing over me. I praise You because You can turn my mourning into joy and bring happiness out of grief. Fill me with joy today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;

I will recount all of Your wonderful deeds.

I will be glad and exult in You;

I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High ~Psalm 9:1-2

Billy Graham 1918-2018

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Billy Graham is now with our Savior. 

Billy Graham 1918-2018
I had the pleasure to hear him speak in person and was truly blessed. An anointed man of God and warrior for the lost. I can only imagine the welcome he received not only from the Lord, but from all those who responded to his call of salvation.

“We loved Billy Graham because he told us the truth: The world is fallen, Christ is alive, and Jesus loves us—just as we are.”

His invitation hymn sang at his crusades across the nation: “Just as I am, without one plea, but that Thy blood was shed for me.”

I am sure he received those precious words “Well done my good and faithful servant”.  A great example of a life lived well.

“Someday,” the great evangelist once said, “you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead.”

Here’s what he said we should think when we hear this news.

“Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.”

In honor of Billy Graham…Hymn sang at all his rallies

 

My Daughter Is Getting Married

I think every mom of a baby girl dreams of the day their daughter gets married, hoping and praying for a perfect day and the man that will make their girl happy and secure.

On your wedding day the man we have prayed for will take you as his wife, for better or worse. This God-ordained pairing of two young people claiming Jesus as their Savior, joining together to live for Christ the rest of their days. I don’t know about you, but it overwhelms me and fills my heart with so much happiness.

The Lord knew the one who would love you with all his heart. The man who would take on the role of head of your family with certainty and a little fear. Someone who desires to uplift and encourage and love you as Christ loved the church.

I could not be more proud of you!

Head strong and confident.
Stubborn and feisty
Loving and giving
Sweet and sassy

You are my child.

The one I fell in love with twenty six years ago.  My daughter with the”800-watt” smile that lights up the room.

You are never far from my thoughts and my heart.

I love you, sweet girl.

 I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.

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When a Husband Doesn’t Love His Wife with Christ-Like Love

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One of the saddest and most disgusting phenomena I’ve ever encountered in my life is the Christian church and the many believers who take the side of the abuser in domestic violence, child abuse, and sexual assault cases, particularly if the abuser is friendly and many times charming, he may even be a pastor or leader in the church.  The types of assistance the church needs to give a woman and children seeking help for serious marital issues should be firm, direct, truth-seeking, validating, and grace-filled. When a person seeks counsel from their church, they are looking for spiritual help.

We all know husbands are commanded, “Love your wives, and do not be harsh with them” (Colossians 3:19). They are told to “love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it” (Ephesians 5:28–29). The focus of a husband’s Christlikeness in loving his wife is “love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).

It is so important for us as women to realize that God cannot endorse and will not embrace abuse in our marriages, because it contradicts His character. Since marriage is designed to represent Christ, any teachings of a church embracing abuse is heretical and it is blasphemous to the Word of God.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” John 13:34

“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.” John 15:9

“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” John 15:12

“These things I command you, that you love one another.” John 15:17

To be clear, an abusive husband is always breaking God’s law. He is disobeying Christ. He is not to be indulged but disciplined by the church. As a wife, you are never insubordinate to ask the church for help.

As Christians we are called to submit to various authorities and to each other: children to parents (Ephesians 6:1), citizens to government (Romans 13:1), wives to husbands (Ephesians 5:22), employees to employers (2 Thessalonians 3:10), church members to elders (Hebrews 13:17), all Christians to each other (Ephesians 5:21), all believers to Christ (Luke 6:46).

In domestic violence situations civil authorities can be the right thing for an abused wife to do. Threatening or inflicting bodily harm against a spouse (or other family members) is a misdemeanor or felony in California, punishable by fines, imprisonment, or most likely both. Which means that a husband who threatens and intentionally injures his wife is not only breaking God’s moral law, but also the state’s civil law. Expecting his wife to quietly accept his threats and injuries, he is asking her to participate in his breaking of both God’s moral law and the state’s civil law.  God himself has put law enforcement officers in place for the protection of the innocent. “If you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer” (Romans 13:4).

I wish in retrospect, I would have called the authorities on my husband the first time he physically abused me.  I would have spared myself and my children years of suffering.  But, because he was in church leadership, I was afraid that it would hurt the ministry and be a bad witness to the church, but glossing over victimization, minimizing its devastating effects, hurts us all.

My husband’s addictions, his verbal and physical abuse, his financial indiscretions, and a pattern of destructive behavior that had many times brought me to the brink of a breakdown—or well beyond it. Long stretches of estrangement, coldness, and sometimes outright contempt, only briefly interrupted by his “emergency” efforts to change the few times I found the nerve to give full voice to my frustrations. He would revive some semblance of the man I married for a few days or weeks, invariably slipping back into his previous patterns once he felt as though he’d sidestepped disaster.  I found myself trying to shoulder my entire relationship alone (not to mention my children, care of our home, and our finances) and still somehow feeling spiritually inadequate. I felt I needed permission to demand what I deserved—and to know that God was okay with this.  I was so wrong and suffered devastating results because of my desire to be a faithful christian.

I have learned a wife does not have to stay in an abusive marriage, nor should she!  She can get out and separate from her husband.  This does not mean she is divorcing him.   It merely means she is and should establish boundaries and protect herself and/or her children.  The abusive husband needs to be held accountable and he needs to get help.  If he truly has a repentant heart, then the couple could seek reconciliation.  If the husband is unrepentant then as in my case, he’ll most likely seek to satisfy his lusts by being unfaithful to his wife while they are separated.  And if he is unfaithful, the wife is no longer bound to him and she could then seek a divorce without being outside of the will of God.

What does a repentant spouse not look like?

If an abuser denies their sin, and calls their victim a liar, then he or she is not repentant. If an abuser acknowledges their sin, but blames the victim for tempting them or taking part, or causing him to sin, then he or she is not repentant. If an abuser demands forgiveness and full pardon without any consequences for their actions, using such excuses as “If you’re a Christian, you should forgive me, and love me again,” then he or she is not repentant. If an abuser say’s I have already asked forgiveness, so I don’t have to talk about it anymore, then he or she is not repentant.

REAL REPENTANCE 

Sorrowful Recognition of Sin

Ezra and those with him are horrified and “disgraced” by sin:

“When I heard this, I tore my tunic and cloak, pulled hair from my head and beard and sat down appalled. Then everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel gathered around me because of this unfaithfulness of the exiles. And I sat there appalled until the evening sacrifice. Then, at the evening sacrifice, I rose from my self-abasement, with my tunic and cloak torn, and fell on my knees with my hands spread out to the Lord my God and prayed: ‘I am too ashamed and disgraced, my God, to lift up my face to you, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens.’” Ezra 9:3-6

Job is so distraught by his sin that he despises himself:

“’… I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know … therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.’” Job 42:3&6

A sinful woman washes Jesus’ feet with her tears and costly perfume:

“A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.” Luke 7:37-38

Peter weeps bitterly out of remorse for denying Christ:

“The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times. And he went outside and wept bitterly.” Luke 22:61-62

 Admission of Guilt & Confession

Isaiah, upon seeing how holy God is, dramatically confessed his fallen nature:

“’Woe to me!’ I cried. ‘I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.’” Isaiah 6:5

Paul does not mince words when admitting his sin to God:

“‘Lord … I went from one synagogue to another to imprison and beat those who believe in you. And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.’” Acts 22:19-20

John explains that failure to admit guilt is a sign that our hearts are devoid of God’s sanctification:

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.” 1 John 1:8-10

Humble Acceptance of Sin’s Punishment & Consequences:

Ezra declares Israel deserving of God’s wrath and punishment:

“What has happened to us is a result of our evil deeds and our great guilt, and yet, our God, you have punished us less than our sins deserved and have given us a remnant … Lord, the God of Israel, you are righteous! We are left this day as a remnant. Here we are before you in our guilt, though because of it not one of us can stand in your presence.” Ezra 9:13&15

King David affirms God’s right to judge him after Nathan confronts him with his sin:

“For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.” Psalm 51:3-4

The Psalmist thanks God for chastening him, yet sparing his life:

“The Lord has chastened me severely, but he has not given me over to death. Open for me the gates of the righteous; I will enter and give thanks to the Lord.” Psalm 118:18-19

A Desire to Reconcile & Make Restitution:

King Hezekiah seeks reconciliation and restitution by sacrificing sin offerings:

“Early the next morning King Hezekiah gathered the city officials together and went up to the temple of the Lord. They brought seven bulls, seven rams, seven male lambs, and seven male goats as a sin offering for the kingdom, for the sanctuary and for Judah. The king commanded the priests, the descendants of Aaron, to offer these on the altar of the Lord.” 2 Chronicles 29:20-21

Jesus requires reconciliation between believers:

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23-24

Zacchaeus pays back all he has stolen and then some:

“But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, ‘Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.’ Luke 19:8-10

Regeneration & The Glorification of God:

Jonah promises to change his ways and glorifies God from the belly of the fish:

“Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them. But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’” Jonah 2:8-9

King David promises to use his own sin as an example to bring others to repentance:

“Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you. Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.” Psalm 51:13-14

Paul says we were created and predestined to do good works:

“All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved … For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:3-5 & 10

John explains that a repentant sinner may sin, but will not persist in sin:

“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” 1 John 1:5-7

What Then Should We Do With Abusers?

If an abuser does not exhibit these Biblical traits common to those who, by the grace of God, truly repent, then it is wise to question the authenticity of their repentance, and whether God’s sanctification is actively working in their hearts. Surely, repentance is a process, but it is one that must be completed in order to fulfill the requirements exemplified and defined by God’s Word.

“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world … Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:1, 7, 8

For the sake of Christ, the church should never risk the appearance of winking at sin.  A truly repentant abuser should, through abhorrence of their own sin and concern for the honor of Christ and reputation of the church, willingly and humbly step down, thereby clearly and publicly defining their actions as un-Christlike and deplorable.  We cannot ever risk further victimization.

 

Remember this: even if a perpetrator hurt someone for a few days, months or years and even if he regrets it, a victim lives with the pain, triggers, shame, and fear for a lifetime. For the perpetrator? It’s an incident. For the perpetrated upon? It’s a life-long battle.  We need to stand up for change.  Women should NEVER have to endure spousal abuse alone.