Stop Child Grooming

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Nobody ever thinks it can happen to them. Nobody thinks they know a child predator. Until it is too late.

Child predators are not some strangers in a dark alley. They are  people we all know. They are our friends, our relatives, our teachers, our youth leaders and our kid’s coaches. The best way to keep your kids safe is to learn their tactics. Ignorance and naivete is dangerous in this situation.

THEY GAIN TRUST

The most important step in grooming a child is to gain the trust of those around them. Predators are skilled at taking on the attributes of a “good guy” and that is unfair to the REAL good guys among us. Before they even meet their victim – Predators often place themselves in a position of trust. They seek out roles that place them around children. They ingratiate themselves into your life and into your routine. Predators are often patient and they will take months or years building up the trust with those around them.

THEY GIVE GIFTS AND FAVORS

Once the predator has established a role in your life and has gained your trust – they take things one step further. They might offer to do you favors or bring gifts and treats for your children. They appear extremely helpful and friendly. They may be playful and silly with your children, but they are careful to not be overly attentive to your children in your presence.

THEY ISOLATE CHILD

By now the predator has gained your complete trust and approval. Your child knows you trust them – so they trust them too. It is at this point the predator’s goal is to isolate your child. They might offer to babysit, give your child a ride, tutor them or give them extra coaching. The predator continues to work on the child’s trust and tries to develop a “special” bond with the them.

THEY DESENSITIZE THE CHILD TO TOUCH

You may get comfortable leaving your child alone with this “good guy.” Your child is always eager to go with them and they seem happy upon returning. It may be at this point that the predator starts to touch your child. At first it may be a tickle fight – where the predator “accidentally” touches the child’s private parts. The sexual contact will progress from there.

THEY SECURE SECRECY

Young children may not understand what the predator is doing. They may not know they are being abused. The predator might convince them that they are playing a secret game or have a secret bond. Older kids may think they are “special” or have a relationship with the predator that no one else would understand. Some kids are told that no one would believe them or worse – that their family will be hurt if they tell.

YOU PROTECT YOUR CHILDREN:

-Look for these warning signs.

-Understand that no role or position exempts a person from being a predator.

-If something feels wrong in your gut

– trust your instincts. -Keep the communication open between you and your child.

-Talk to your child about their time away from you.

-Talk to your child about sexual abuse and arm them with knowledge.

Knowledge is power. Spread the word. Share with others.

If you’re a parent, please make sure that your children are aware of the dangers online.

 

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The Penalty For Abusing Authority

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The headlines are bursting with stories about people in positions of authority who have turned a blind eye when it comes to protecting someone under their care—failing to do the right thing—the very thing their occupation demands. Teachers having inappropriate relations with students, politicians sexually harassing young girls and pastors falling in sin.  Husbands hurting their wives and children. Does looking the other way, or pleading ignorance, really exonerate someone who could do something to stop abuse yet, for political, or personal gain, does nothing?

All is not well in this world. Husbands are hurting wives, Teachers are predators, politicians are predators, despite their political affiliation, church workers are predators precisely because we allow them to be. Victims stay silent (it’s normal for a victim to wait decades before they share because of fear, threats, and shame), and when they expose the predators, they are then berated, unbelieved, and marginalized. And yet, I see this great kingdom of God advancing in precisely the opposite way, with the weak ones, the broken, overlooked.

Certainly, as Christians, we struggle with the reality that everywhere we turn there seems to be a moral battle raging and, at times, it may seem hopeless, to stem the tide of evil. With the media onslaught of moral corruption pervading our world, it’s little wonder we have become desensitized and almost ambivalent to the moral failures of those who are in charge, some of these men are members of the very churches we attend.  But, can we adequately plead “not guilty” if we do nothing?

This made me start thinking about someone, long ago, who took the easy way out defense too. He was the high priest, he was the only one who was permitted to meet yearly at the mercy seat with God. His sole ministry was to represent Christ—who intercedes for the sins of his people. Yet, within Eli’s own family, a dark secret was lurking. He heard the rumors but, somehow, he failed to muster the courage to stop the evil. Why? What could he possibly offer as an adequate excuse for allowing such heinous sins to be committed on his watch, within his own church, and by his own sons? He had a choice to make and he chose to do nothing. Sound familiar?

Years pass by and God appears to be silent. He sent a warning message and now He waits to see what His servant will do. I’m sure the Spirit was pleading for this reluctant father to correct the evil course of his sons, but to no avail.  Finally, in a very unexpected manner, the message comes. When Eli has procrastinated too long, God speaks.

The Bible tells us, “The Lord came and stood there, calling… “Samuel, Samuel.” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 3:10)  The message God spoke to Samuel that night long ago has similar implications for us today! Are we listening? If so, are we willing to say, “Speak, for we are listening”?

God had previously warned Eli about the sins of his sons and what would happen if he failed to check their sins. “The time is coming when I will cut short your strength and the strength of your father’s house, …you will see distress in my dwelling.” (1 Samuel 2:31-32)  Do we stand firm in protest of evil or, like Eli, do our sympathetic actions toward a fallen minister, teacher, husband or politician counteract our ability to adequately protest their iniquities?

What could possibly be so wicked that it forced God to deal with Eli and his sons so harshly? It was the same sin that is destroying many in authoritarian positions today. “Now Eli, who was very old, heard about everything his sons were doing to all Israel and how they slept with the women who served at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.” (1 Samuel 2:22 ) Not only was the sacrifice disgraced and polluted, the personal lives of the priests—the very ones who were to be godly examples of holiness—were defiled with sexual immorality and abuse.  Sound familiar?

Can a minister, teacher, husband or politician who willfully chooses to destroy precious lives under his care simply excuse his actions as “a fall from grace”? Obviously, we know people make serious mistakes.  But this is on a deeper level.

And today, thousands of years later, there are those who still fail in their responsibility to protect those vulnerable under their leadership and care. When a transgression of this nature takes place, those who refuse to correct the evil done by a person of authority are guilty of the same sinful neglect to God’s heritage as was Eli.

It is time for pastors to believe the women who come to them seeking help from their abusive husbands.  To admonish and impose must needed church discipline. To believe the children that come forward about the teachers who have taken advantage of them.  To believe the small child that is being hurt by a parent.

It’s time we Christians, with sound mind and deep conviction, call predators and abusers out within the church. It’s time we stop tolerating any kind of abuse, stop looking the other way hoping things will improve. The statistics prove that predators and abusers typically continue to offend until they’re caught.   Our inaction, then, allows for more abuse.  We need to wake up and take this seriously!

Are we as Christians becoming desensitized by sins leavening effect—precious souls are being violated everyday.  I sat with a young women of 15 last week, who had been involved sexually with a teacher.  This poor child had tried to commit suicide from the shame and confusion.  I have to think that this teacher, who claimed to be a christian is just as guilt as Eli’s sons.

Recently in Papillion, Nebraska, a high school band teacher, Mike Pollock, was accused of sending inappropriate text messages to a former student. After his resignation, a spokesperson for the school stated that what Mr. Pollock had done was  “…not just a violation by that one teacher, but it’s a violation of the entire profession.” If the secular community can see how important the reputation of all teachers are, and that such actions committed by one destroy the reputation of everyone in that profession, certainly the church is in desperate need of true reformation when it comes to how we deal with a fallen christian.

All who hold positions of sacred trust and, like Eli, knowingly fail to take a stand against the abusive actions of leaders under their charge, will have to face serious consequences for neglecting their responsibility to guard the flock under their care.

Take heart, those who have been preyed on. The light is shining brightly, and the web of lies will be exposed.

Thankfully, there is still time and mercy still pleads with our hearts. The signs around us loudly proclaim judgment is soon to be executed upon this earth. We, like Eli, have been given a message of warning. God is still waiting to see if we will correct our errors, retrace our steps, and implement justice before He executes judgment. If we fail to heed Heaven’s admonition, we too will pass beyond the line where mercy will no longer be able to reach our ears. Sadly, God will ultimately say to us what He said to Eli, “…I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’” (1 Samuel 3:14 )

The Secret I Kept

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I received an email yesterday that has me a bit discouraged. Without going into detail, I will say that this path God has me on is difficult.  I love sharing Jesus with people. I enjoy communicating about His healing. I love being an advocate for women.

But, I have been convicted about a secret I held for someone I loved, for way too many years.   When he shared the secret with me, I was not educated on the subject and didn’t take the necessary precautions I should have.  I watched this secret put a wedge between us for years.  We as of a couple years ago are no longer together, I think this secret was a big part of our downfall and divorce and lack of trust. Now I deal with the ramifications, that, maybe I could have done something to change his heart long ago. This secret has left me with powerful feelings of fear and shame.

The Bible say’s “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matt 10:26-28

We may harbor secrets because we think the truth about a single evil past act or a continuing bad habit is too shameful to tell, or we may keep our secrets hidden because we don’t want to risk losing our friends. Either way, we remain alone, isolated, and desperate to stay hidden.

My own choices to keep this secret has caused me a lot of pain and confusion for years.  I have shed many tears on how I could done things differently.  I am ashamed that I did not make a bigger deal of it when he shared.  I truly thought he had changed had genuine sorrow and that it was a thing of the past…well..it wasn’t.

I have found that Sin grows with secrets..“As Iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.  Proverbs 27:7.  Did I fail at this.  Because at the end of our marriage this secret came crashing back.  He had not change one bit.  He was still stuck in this sinful past.

Our sinful nature always desires more.  When you get away with something in secret, the deceitful nature of sin will convince you that it’s a reason to keep going.  Eventually, you find yourself somewhere you don’t want to be, and there are only painful ways out.

What I realize now is, that darkness causes sin and pain to grow, the light brings redemption.  In keeping this secret, I allowed darkness to grow.  I also did a disservice to him for keeping it hidden.  Some secrets bring much greater destruction into our lives than if they were revealed.

The truth is: this secret costs me a lot. My marriage…and that’s okay because perhaps it is my cross I bear. I just wish I could have had the joy of seeing him find healing and freedom which would have trumped all this angst.  But now, I am ready to close the door on this: I need to close the door on my expectations.  My expectation that he would really change his heart and be a new man.

Revealing this kind of secret can be a painful and a fearful experience. However, I realize now that it opens up new opportunities to experience God’s healing.  But ignoring sin is never the solution. Never. We cannot allow ourselves to be deceived into thinking that we can sin “safely.”

Even among Christians it can be a real struggle to find the balance in when to keep a secret and when to reveal a secret sin-whether it is your sin, or your friend’s sin or your husbands sin.

It gets even more complicated for some Christians. Even if you have confessed your sins to Jesus, which sins should you reveal to others?

One young man who had been married for about a year revealed to his wife that he had been struggling with pornography. He thought this honesty would help their marriage. But his wife was so devastated by this admission, that her distrust of him grew to the point that she divorced him.

So should he have kept this secret from his wife? Would they still be married if he had said nothing to her? There are no simple answers to these complex questions.

God clearly reveals what lies in our future. “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.” (Luke 8:17) We can’t hide our sins forever.

The power of shame can cause us to give far too much power to our failures of the past. You can begin to believe the lie that “if others know about my failures, they won’t like me. They won’t trust me.” So we put up walls to hide our secrets, and live in fear of what will happen if others really know the truth about me.

Jesus states clearly that His arms are wide open for you. He said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 )

You can’t keep any secrets from God. No matter what you have done, He still loves you. Learning to live in the light of His truth will put you on the path to healthy living and peace in your heart.

The problem comes when we seem to be left in the dark. God often does not give us His 5 year plan for our future. He wants us to learn what it means to walk by faith-taking one step at a time, and putting our trust in Him that He knows what is best.

This faith walk goes against our natural desire to be in control. Surrendering control makes us feel vulnerable.

When we allow God to be in control, we open the door to a new level of freedom in our lives. You can have the confidence that He has your best as His top priority.

Since only God knows all the future, it’s a great choice to give Him full control.

If someone came to me today, with this same secret I would point them to a male counselor/pastor and probably would have distanced myself from him.  I am not sure, although I know I was wrong in the way I handled it.  I pray the Lord forgives me.

When the people closest to us sins, it hurts. Sin is destructive. When we are standing close by, we often get hit with shrapnel.  My shrapnel was the secret.

The truth is, we all have a sin problem. That’s why we need Jesus so much. But if someone you love is trapped in a pattern of sin, or refuses to repent from sin the stakes can seem sky high. When I don’t know what to pray, I pray God’s Word.

But your iniquities have separated
    you from your God;
your sins have hidden his face from you,
    so that he will not hear. Isaiah 59:2

I pray for them to see their sin as God sees it.

 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 26:36

I pray that their heart will be soften.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

Pray the word changes their heart.  

God is in the business of dealing with sin. There is no sin too big for Him to forgive and no sinner too far for God to take them back. As you wait for Him to do the miraculous redemptive work only He can do, keep praying with great expectation.

Do you know someone stuck in a pattern of sin? Which of these prayers will you start praying on their behalf?

 

Genuine Repentance

 

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I once had a dear friend who asked me this question many times..Have I committed the unpardonable sin? How can I know if my repentance is genuine?

This is a question that has haunted many sensitive people in every Christian century, and maybe it has haunted you, like my friend. I want to be clear in saying that if you’re bothered in your spirit that you may have committed a sin God will not forgive, the very fact that you have anxiety over that is evidence you’ve not committed the sin. If He is still working in your heart, it’s not possible to have committed the unpardonable sin.

My reassurance is based on repentance. It is equally basic to, and almost synonymous with, the command, “You must be born again” (John 3:7).

Repentance is a biblical word. The Old Testament thunders, “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin” (Ezekiel 18:30, NKJV). The New Testament also vigorously exhorts men and women to repent. “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish,” said Jesus (Luke 13:3, NKJV). “Repent … and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out,” said the Apostle Peter (Acts 3:19, NKJV). The Apostle Paul said, “Now [God] commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30, NKJV).

The Bible commands it, our wickedness demands it, justice requires it, Christ preached it and God expects it. The divine, unalterable edict is still valid: “God commands all men everywhere to repent.”

The Bible says, “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7, NKJV).

True repentance is contrition. The Bible says, “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit” (Psalm 34:18, NKJV). Contrition, or “godly sorrow,” as it is called in 2 Corinthians 7:10, is not a shallow sentiment nor empty emotion. It is a sincere regret over past sins and an earnest desire to walk in a new path of righteousness.

Repentance carries with it the idea of changing–changing your mind, changing your attitude, changing your ways. The Bible says, “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation” (2 Corinthians 7:10, NKJV). If we are truly repentant, our will is brought into action and we will make a reversal of direction.

Repentance when you have hurt someone?

There are times in everyone’s life that it’s helpful to know if an offender is truly repentant. To know the true state of another’s heart. Is there godly sorrow and true repentance or worldly sorrow and temporary change?

When there is true, lasting repentance, restoration can occur as in Galatians 6:1.  Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be                   tempted. 

Here are a few signs of genuine repentance:

We name our sin as sin and do not spin it or excuse it or call it an “issue”, and further, we demonstrate “godly sorrow,” which is to say, a grief chiefly about the sin itself, not just a grief about being caught or having to deal with the consequences of sin.

We have a willingness and eagerness to make amends. We will do whatever it takes to make things right and to demonstrate we have changed.

We are patient with those we’ve hurt or victimized, spending as much time as is required listening to them without jumping to defend ourselves.

We are patient with those we’ve hurt or victimized as they process their hurt, and we don’t pressure them or “guilt” them into forgiving us.

We are willing to confess our sin even in the face of serious consequences (including undergoing church discipline, having to go to jail, or having a spouse leave us).

We may grieve the consequences of our sin but we do not bristle under them or resent them. We understand that sometimes our sin causes great damage to others that is not healed in the short term (or perhaps ever).

We don’t resent accountability, pastoral rebuke, or church discipline.

We are humble and teachable.

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” ~1 Corinthians 7:10

Is there someone you have hurt by your attitude, actions, or words that you have never apologized to?  Have you been trying to justify your pride and stubbornness, even though, deep down, you know that God wants you to humble yourself and get things right?

Search your heart (Ps. 139:23-24).  Is there a person with whom you need to make amends?  Don’t delay.  A close, satisfying walk with God depends upon you and me getting things right with people we have wronged.  Trust God.  Push through the fear and pride.  Open your mouth in apology… and watch God do a great work in and through you.

 

 

Why Are Voices Are Not Heard

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I am truly disheartening at the number of women who have shared stories, including my own, with pastors who, in one way or another, advised them to stick with their abusive husbands: to be more submissive, to pray more, etc.

So I started thinking about the fact that so many women having such similar stories.  If it had not happened to me, I would have a real difficulty believing that any one of these pastors, would ever condone domestic violence.  Especially,  since these are Godly men, who teach anointed sermons.  Who have continually blessed me through their ministries.

And yet here we are with all these women sharing the exact same thing happened with their pastor. And I know those women are not lying, or somehow mistaken about what happened to them.  Because it happened to me!

What I wish these pastors understood is how brave these women are when they finally come forward.  How scary it is to finally tell our secrets, secrets we have hid for years.  And that when a woman is writing/telling the real raw truth of their lives, their words take on an integrity that even the most accomplished fiction writers struggle to write. There could be no doubting the truth of these women’s stories.

Just this week, I wrote a pastor that dismissed my allegations, to clarify now that I come from a position of strength and healing as opposed to the weak woman asking for help.  Warning him he has a man capable of hurting women a sociopath in his congregation, and asked why he never confronted him when he was clearly in sin.  Even if he had doubts of my accusations, wouldn’t you want to investigate.

But howHow could these good, loving, Godly, well-intentioned men give advice that’s so manifestly, egregiously, cruelly wrong?

Is it because to a Godly man Domestic violence is fundamentally unbelievable. Like all true evil, domestic violence is basically incomprehensible. Most people find it simply inconceivable that any man would systematically victimize his own wife and children.

So, maybe, it’s easy for pastors to, in fact, fail to imagine it. When faced with a woman saying that her husband is abusing her, pastors must sometimes immediately and even instinctively assume that in some fundamental way the woman must be mistaken.  Especially, when every interaction he has had with her husband has been positive.  They can even seem charming, loving, and care deeply about the unsaved in the world.

What I think pastors are missing is the fact that these men are master manipulators.

For example, my husband was the friendliest, most sincere, open, warm, kind, generous person I had ever met.  That was the very thing I was drawn to.  But, wife abusers are sociopaths. They can talk the stink off a skunk. And guess who’s at the top of the list of people the abuser is determined to fool? Exactly: The family pastor. Who is very much inclined to love and trust people. Most pastors don’t stand a chance against a perpetrator of domestic violence.

Or could it be that a lot of pastors hold to the traditional Biblical definition of the proper relation between a husband and wife. Ephesians 5:22: “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”) But I hardly think that from that pastors typically think that it’s acceptable for husbands to abuse their wives. Most pastors know that the rest of that passage from Ephesians enjoins husbands to “love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her … .” I think it’s safe to say that pastors get that it’s wrong for a husband to beat or otherwise abuse his wife and kids. But I also think that not enough pastors have spent the time thinking about the broad, fuzzy line between biblical submission and repugnant victimization.

I think Pastors need to face and acknowledge this truth. They need to take case-by-case responsibility for drawing a clear line of demarcation between the kind of “submission” they and the church has traditionally understood as healthy, and the kind of submission everyone knows is unhealthy.

Pastors believe in the power of Christ to heal, to bring new life, to reclaim, to save, to resurrect.  They believe that through the community of church God radically and permanently transforms people’s lives. They believe in the enduring, righteous strength of marriage and family.

Pastors are not in the business of divorce; they don’t recommend the shattering of a family unit. They believe not in dissolution, but resolution.  And really God Bless them.  So am I, but there is a time when it is necessary, if the man is not repentant.

Let’s face it Domestic violence is simply not a subject present on pastors radar.  so a pastor faced with a domestic violence problem is likely to counsel patience, forbearance, and the discernment of the will of God. Each man is just doing what he knows. And in so doing each, of course, creates pain.

It’s not enough for us to simply desire that our pastors do a better job of handling issues of domestic violence. We must also help them to understand and obtain the training necessary for doing so.

So, although I failed to get the help, I so desired from my church, I will not turn my back on God.  I will continue to educate and support women in crisis.  I also, learned that all churches are not devoid of the knowledge of domestic violence.  There are many churches with great support groups for women in crisis.

Remember, It is impossible with our limited knowledge to see all God is doing to convict your husband and bring him to repentance. You might not see evidence of his conviction for years. That doesn’t mean God isn’t pursuing him. Remember that God has an eternal perspective. His timetable is not your own.

Also, remember although it isn’t fair what has happened to you with your pastor,  God hasn’t disappointed you; man has! God is the one constant in your life. If anything wasn’t fair it was piercing the hands and feet of the totally innocent God-man for your vile sins. If need be, Repent of your bitterness toward God. Ask Him to give you a right perspective of His love for you.

This is perhaps the most important lesson of all. God wants to do a work in you. He doesn’t want to leave you where you are—He loves you too much. He wants to increase your faith, your reliance upon Him, and your love for Him. Be willing to allow God to transform you.

God loves you. He will never reject you. He hears your cries! He longs to draw you close and fill you with His supernatural peace. No matter what your circumstance, no matter if your situation never changes this side of heaven, God is there. He is the steady hand underneath your days.

Suffering The Loss Of A Child

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As, I pleaded for the life of my son, and felt his body turn cold in my arms. I watched the life leave his eyes. My child.  Was Gone.

At the time, my mind could not make sense of this trauma. I have already lost so much. I just have to walk through it. This is just the way it is.

And so, it takes time. Lots of time.

At the time, I could not pray, but I could believe. I could not pray like I used to, but I could hold onto hope. I knew deep down that my roots go deep.  There was so much comfort in knowing my faith was strong.  “You don’t really know Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have.”  This realization changes you!  It gives you a peace  knowing you have faced the worst and your faith not only survived but grew.

My dreams and my innocence were robbed from me that day. My hopes were completely and utterly struck down. My son was born and we watched him slowly lose his ability to live. I sat at his hospital bed, traumatized, helpless. He came close to death too many times. We fought and fought and in the end we lost. I surrendered him to the Lord, knowing he loved him more than me.  I realized it was not my fault. It was not God’s fault or his will. It is just a part of life, but it hurts.  A lot!

I was stunned that the story of my precious son unfolded this way.

When Casey was diagnosed, I saw the battle before us, I was weak and exasperated. But I prayed for Casey and leaned into my faith. But then, after his passing, I was anchored. I forged through. Both feet on the ground. Eyes on the prize. Until…until I felt the very God I was praying to, sit down beside me. I saw Jesus sitting with me holding me.

His death changed me. Everything froze. Time stood still.  It was like a slow motion movie, but it was my life.

One cannot speak into this unless they have walked this path. This territory is set before a few, and even then, they can only act as guides.

Today, I believe my words and my prayers carry weight and an authority. I believe in walking alongside others in grief, even as I myself grieve. I believe in giving a piece of my heart to others.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

God has not promised us an easy life. Far from it! He has promised His children that he will be with us through ALL those trials. Jesus meets us in the middle of the storm to build our faith and to teach us to worship Him in truth and spirit.  I can attest to this!

Suffering produces a reliance on God in the heart of the faithful. Suffering pushes others further from the Lord when their souls are unfaithful and bitter. In essence, tough times separate the wheat from the chaff. As we grow spiritually, God begins to show us His power and comfort as we go through the rough spots in life.

I have survived, and I am living life. I choose joy, I laugh, smile and act silly. I enjoy my family and friends, and I dance in my kitchen to music that is way too loud. As, his brother and sisters are starting there own families, I also cry, mourn the milestones he misses, I still miss my son and long for eternity when we will meet again.

 

 

 

 

Are You Strong And Courageous

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Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1 6-9

After church this morning, I was thinking about these versus on courage.  Courage is something I have lacked for so many years.  It is only in this last year, I have changed so many things in my life, I have moved out of my comfort zone.

You see, God uses people who realize they are weak. In Joshua 1, God told Joshua to “be strong and courageous” a total of three times in four verses. Why? It was probably because He knew Joshua was afraid.

Another good verse that should give us courage is Ephesians 2:10 which say’s we we should step out in bold obedience. The good works he has prepared beforehand—we should walk in them!

Are there things God has prepared for you to do? When did you last reassess God’s call on your life? What are you passionate about?

For me, my calling is one that is not very popular with society as a whole.  And that’s o.k, because if the Lord has called me, He will lead the way, and he has!  The empathy the lord has given me for women and children finding themselves in abusive situations, has lead to a passion that burns bright in my soul.  As a survivor, when I can come along side a women or child and hold them as I share God’s word is the best feeling in the word.  Women in these situations need God’s word as He is the ultimate healer, not the worldly alternative.

I have faced persecution from Christians that say “I am a feminist”…let me assure you this is so far from the truth.  Jesus loved the downcast the underdog.  One of the clearest features of the life and teachings of Jesus is the way that Jesus included people that everyone else left out.  Jesus included criminals (the thief on the cross), the people that were unclean (did not keep all of the cleanliness laws and rituals), and people who were outcast (Samaritans, Gentiles, the poor, the sick, lepers, women, and the list goes on).  Jesus always defined his mission on the basis of who is included, not on who is left out.  I want to follow the example of Christ.

God’s heart always is to save people.  Every soul is precious to Him. God always cares about individuals, and we should follow his example.

I find that your courage will rise up when you have confidence that Jesus has called you. Most people leave their (calling) ministry because of confusion and a lack of courage.

If God has called you, he is with you. Courage doesn’t mean that I am not afraid, I am a lot, when trying to help a women and her children escape their violent husband and father. But, It means that I fear God more than I fear my environment. It means that I trust in his divine resources more than the resources of man.

Leadership is strengthened by our acts of obedience. Every time we are obedient we get stronger. Obedience is a verb, not a position. You know you’re on the right path when you’re being shot at. If you’re running because of opposition, you’ll be running for the rest of your life.

Your ability to endure deepens your resolve. If you act courageously, you’ll get more courage. God is with you, but he’ll only strengthen you when you raise your leg and start walking forward. He can’t steer a parked car.

Devotion-ally master the word of God. Meditate day and night.   Immerse yourself in the book. Love it, and live it.  God uses people who study and live by His Word. God told Joshua, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night . . . ” (1:8 NKJV). If you want to be used by God, then you need to know the Word of God. “Meditate in it day and night,” God said to Joshua.

Remember: The integrity of your ministry is everything, so you have to practice the truth you’re proclaiming.

Joshua was communicating with the people he was leading, and he was encouraging them every step. If you want to be used by God, then this is what you need to do.

The Bible says, “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him” (2 Chronicles 16:9 NKJV).

Will you be that person He can use?  Will you answer the call?