God loves me

No really, God LOVES me! And He LOVES you! How can that change your life? How can that statement NOT become so ordinary and common that it no longer moves you? Recently I have been thinking about this fact and how it affects different individuals. It’s been amazing how teachings keep grabbing my attention on this subject this week. Coincidence? I think not!

We all enter into dry seasons in our walk with God. It’s a relationship and we are human. In any relationship we have highs and lows. I’ve heard my entire life that when you don’t feel close to God it is because you are the one that moved. But think about it. How can you move away from someone that is inside of you? If you have closed your ears to His voice could it be because you feel shame over something? Don’t forget that the scriptures tell us, ‘There is therefore NOW no condemnation to those who are In Christ Jesus.” Admit any sin in your life and receive His forgiveness and move forward. As I think about my relationship with God; He often reminds me of amazing truths through my grandchildren. I’ll come back to this thought in a minute.

When I first started realizing my new identity in Christ I was on a “honeymoon” with God. I’ve never felt so loved and excited about our relationship. Tim and I were driving to a Christmas party in 1990 and I told Tim, “I feel like God’s favorite little girl!” He quickly said, “Don’t share that tonight.” Seriously, what would people think if I shared that thought? Now I know intellectually that we are all God’s favorite child but oh the difference it was making in my life to see and feel His unique custom made love just for me. I want you to try an experiment. Start asking God to help you see how He feels about you. Just you. Not the entire world but you. And then wait for it. It may not come immediately. Keep asking. And wait for it.

Now back to my grandkids. I have a unique love for each one of them that I can’t describe. It overflows out of my heart when I am with them. I can’t contain it. And for a girl that struggled feeling love most of her life because of the childhood trauma and deep wounds in my heart, it’s been wonderful! As I pour out my love to them they in turn pour out their love to me. They KNOW they are loved. Elliott is almost 11 and he’s the one that kisses me on the cheek when he leaves. The other day I told him how sweet it is and he’s the only one that kisses me. (But the others give GREAT hugs!) He said “It’s because I love you, Nana.” My heart melted. I don’t see my grandkids taking my love and saying, “Hmmmm, I’m SO special I think she SHOULD buy me anything I want. I’m SO special she should never correct me. I’m So special she will do anything I ask her to do. No! It does the very opposite. It gives them security and an assurance that my love is unconditional and forever! (But oh I do so enjoy blessing them with things!)

My dad wounded me as a child when I did something admirable and got praise for it at church. He said, “Don’t think you are something young lady!” It stuck with me my entire life. It’s hard for me to feel good about myself. After all I don’t want to be arrogant. But I have found the very opposite is happening. Understanding and seeing God’s love for me even when I don’t do everything perfectly and even when there is sin in my life draws me to Him. I love what John Lynch has shared regarding Jesus and our sin. Can you envision Jesus standing beside you with His arm around you saying, “Yes, that’s a LOT of sin. But we are going to deal with it together?” Don’t run from Jesus but to Jesus when you fail.

When I have told my counselors over the years that my dad made that statement to me they have all responded in exactly the same way. “You ARE somebody, Rebekah.” Wow, I am uniquely made in the image of God, dearly loved by Jesus, indwelled by the Holy Spirit, loved and used by God to draw others to Him. And so are you! Bask in that thought this week and see what happens in your soul. Jesus loves YOU. With all your flaws, disappointments, bad choices and failures. It is truly unconditional. And He loves you so much He will work on those things WITH you. Because you were made for so much more!

My pleasure

The words “My pleasure” have become famous with the well known Chick-fil-A usage of the word over and over in their business. I wonder how many times a day those words are used in one given week. It’s use has been made fun of and it’s been admired. After all, good customer service is becoming a rarity in this day and time. And we all know CFA has the corner market in the area of customer service. They have knocked it out of the park!

As I was studying the scriptures this morning the word pleasure jumped out at me in Ephesians 1. Did you know it was God’s pleasure to choose you, love you and adopt you as His very own child? Yes, God said, “my pleasure” when you were born into His family. He wanted you! And He went to great lengths to bring you into His family. He loved you enough to die for you and take away the wall entitled SIN that kept you from being able to connect to a Holy God. You see, His life wasn’t taken from Him. He willingly laid it down because He loved you and He wanted you and sin had to be paid for according to God’s plan. (John 10:18). And the currency of His choice was blood. He used the blood of animals in the Old Testament to atone for their sins. This had to be done over and over every year. When Jesus came into the world his cousin, John, saw Jesus walking toward him. He said, “Behold the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” (Colossians 2:13-14). And it was His pleasure even though it cost Him everything! He could have backed out at any moment. The human part of Jesus was afraid, anxious and in horrific pain. But He still chose you!

If He took sin away why do we still sometimes sin? Because He took away the penalty of sin. It was paid for once and for all by His blood on the cross. (Hebrews 10:10). Those who recognize this truth and accept His payment for their sins are reconciled to Him and given His righteousness and holiness. A righteous and holy God cannot enter an unholy human being. So He had to change us on the inside where He will reside. (II Corinthians 5:21). He made us a new creation. Now as we go through life He is making what is true on the inside, true on the outside by growing us up and maturing us in our true identity. He’s helping us realize that we can still try to make life work in our own strength and we can still be deceived and think choosing wrong things will bring us happiness but it makes absolutely no sense to act inconsistently with who He really made us to be on the inside. Again, He is changing you from the inside out. That is why you feel like a fish out of water when you consistently choose sin. If you don’t feel like a fish out of water you don’t know who you are. The real you was changed in your spirit, down deep inside where Jesus resides. It would be “my pleasure” to help you understand this truth. Follow my blog or come to a small group, conference or one on one counseling to understand who you really are. Life is too short to miss the fulfillment that comes through getting to know your creator as your Father, Lord, Savior and your best friend.

Trust: The antidote to doubt

God has been speaking to me so much since writing my last blog. That was one of the most honest and transparent blogs I have ever written as I literally poured out my heart. I am not perfect and I also have struggles. I’m so glad my identity in Christ is safe and secure even when I struggle. And so is yours!

I started raising support in 1992. It was an experience like none other! It was fascinating to see God build my team and provide for my needs. At that time Tim was working full time. Over the years we could tell you story after story of God sending a financial gift just in the nick of time from someone we barely knew or didn’t even know at all. Our faith was strengthened and we knew we were doing exactly what we were called to do. Fast forward to 2008 and you will remember that Tim took an early retirement to join Royal Life Ministries. This brought our ability to trust our Heavenly Father to a whole new level. And we can truly say He has been faithful. We don’t have the words to describe how fulfilling this ministry has been to both of us.

God has been choosing to bring our faith to yet another level. Don’t you just love how God continually works on you? Since writing the last blog He has shown me how support raising has triggered some of my past abuse. Long story made short…Fear and insecurity was triggered and I was challenged with the internal question; “Can I really trust anyone?”. As God opened my eyes to this trigger I felt so much better. There was PURPOSE in my pain.

In 1991 I was taught that support raising was also ministry. I learned that God was my source and the people He chooses to join our team were resources. I was taught that our partners would experience growth and fulfillment because of their obedience. Therefore, we followed God’s call to make RLM a support based ministry. Over the years we have had good seasons with abundance and hard seasons with need. Paul tell us in Phil. 4:11-12for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstance I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.”

I think the hardest thing about living on support is getting our eyes off of Jesus. If things get tight fear begins to raise it’s ugly head and our flesh pattern of control will try to take over. However, in Christ we are safe, secure, confident and content. Renewing our minds with those truths on a regular basis is a must! Because behavior follows what you believe. God is making what is true in our reality, true in our experience! This sometimes involves pain with two steps forward and one step back.

Have you ever looked back on your life and saw so much value in your hard season that you could actually thank God for it? That is evidence of real growth! I am learning to trust God more and more each and every day. He is good even when the enemy taunts me with lies about my Heavenly Father. God never let’s me go through hard times without a purpose and has promised to always meet all of my needs. I choose to trust Him with our needs AND I choose to be obedient to Him in our calling. This means letting people know our need and then trusting the Father to provide in whatever way He decides. I feel SO much better remembering these truths. I hope my season and crisis of belief will some how speak to you in your own times of doubting. When you doubt, be real about it. Run to God in your doubt, not away from Him. Allow Him to show you why you are struggling. Are you believing lies? Are you being controlled by fear? Are you living in pride? Is something from your past being triggered? If so, He wants to use this present circumstance to bring healing to that past wound.

God is trustworthy! I promise you He is 100% trustworthy! He may not meet a need in a way I thought He would but He does meet our needs. And He will meet yours. Trust is a choice! You can choose to trust even when your emotions are shouting you are afraid. (Update: We have been told that Tim’s pension is in jeopardy and will be depleted in 6 years or sooner. This is disappointing, sad and unfair but our Heavenly Father is our SOURCE. Matthew 6:26, “Look at the birds of the air… Another opportunity to trust God.)

Confessions of a doubter

When you hear the word doubt what comes to your mind? If you have been around the Bible for any length of time you may think about doubting Thomas. Remember the story? After Jesus was resurrected Thomas could not believe it. Unless I see him and touch his scars I will not believe. You can read this story in John 20:24-29.

Where do you struggle with doubt? For us it seems to always fall into the same category. We doubt God’s financial provision. God called us to birth Royal Life Ministries in 2006 as a non profit ministry. The ministry where we were trained operated in this way and we loved the concept of having a team of supporters who prayed for us and partnered with us financially so we could offer our help to others at an affordable price. God used discipleship counseling in our own lives and led us to be trained to guide hurting people to find comfort in Jesus. Not only find comfort in Jesus but to find truths that would change their lives forever. Truths about their identity in Him and how to walk in that identity. We do this through one on one counseling, small groups and conferences. And yes we often have to practice what we preach and we have by no means reached a place of no struggle. This is why the Bible tells us to renew our minds with truth. Lies creep in and flesh can rare it’s ugly head. The enemy shouts the same thing to us that he shouted to Adam and Eve. Can you really trust God?

I was encouraged this morning as I listened to a sermon by Rick Warren. He shared these verses. Isaiah 44:2 – The Lord who made you and helps you says, “Do not be afraid, O Jacob, my servant, O dear Israel, my chosen one.” Romans 11:29 – For God’s gifts and his calling are irrevocable. Romans 14:7 – For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. (We need one another.). Hebrews 3:1- Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus…

I’m sharing this struggle so you will know how to pray for us. I am also sharing this struggle so that you will prayerfully consider partnering with us in ministry. Royal Life Ministries currently has 19 supporters. We are currently needing to raise another $2000 a month to cover expenses and salary. Here is where I (Rebekah) struggle and the questions that I have to combat. “Am I worthy enough to receive funds from others?” “Did I do enough to make sure our partners know how much we appreciate them?” “Was I faithful to obey God and ask a person to consider joining our support team or did I chicken out?” “Did I prove that we are truly helping people?” “Did I send out enough newsletters?” Guys, this mindset is bondage. Jesus came to set me free. Jesus tells me and you, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30.

So today I believe God is saying stop doubting, repent of your pride and share from your heart. We must raise more support in order to continue Royal Life Ministries. We have been trying to live off of less than $32,000 a year for 13 years from RLM. We have some retirement and we both have small part time work. If people do not know our need, God cannot touch their hearts and call them to join our team. We understand that God will not call everyone to our team. We only ask that you prayerfully consider what you could give monthly to help us continue helping others through our 28 years of experience walking alongside hurting people and leading them to a relationship with Christ.

One of the biggest misconceptions about being on a support team is that we are looking for big donors. If we had twenty people commit to $100 a month or 40 people commit to $50 a month our needs would be met. Any amount is appreciated and your support is tax deductible. But we honestly need your prayers too. We are on the front lines of this ministry. We grow weary and we go through our own struggles and our marriage is attacked as we help other marriages. So please pray! And lastly if you are already on our support team we thank you from the bottom of our hearts and we pray that God blesses you ten fold for what you share with us.

Support can be received through cash, Venmo, checks (4046 Hwy. 154, Unit 112, Newnan, GA. 30265) or through our web site under the “support” tab. Or click below on donations and conference fees.

Donations & Conference Fees

Please read my next blog entitled, “Trust: The Antidote to Doubt.

After Salvation

None of these things are FOR your salvation but will help you grow in your faith, which results in great fulfillment and influence.

YOU CAN GROW! II Peter 3:18 – But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

FOLLOW JESUS IN THE BELIEVER’S BAPTISM. Mark 1:9 – And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized of John in Jordan. ***THIS ACT DOES NOT SAVE YOU. IT IS A WAY TO SHOW THE WORLD YOU ARE A FOLLOWER OF JESUS.

JOIN A COMMUNITY OF BELIEVER’S. Hebrews 10:25 – And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

YOU CAN CHOOSE TO SAY NO TO SIN! Romans 6:11 – Count yourself dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not LET sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey it’s evil desires. (Don’t forget WHO you are! Say no to temptation and live consistently with WHO you really are!)

YOU HAVE A PROTECTOR WHO FORGIVES. I John 2:1 – My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin, But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

GOD IS NOT FINISHED WITH YOU! Philippians 1:6 – Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

DON’T GIVE IN TO YOUR FLESH. Romans 13:14 – Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.

REMEMBER YOU HAVE AN ENEMY! I Peter 5:8-10 – Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of siufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will HIMSELF restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

YOU HAVE HIS SPIRIT WHO AFFIRMS YOU! I John 3:24 – The One who keeps God’s commands lives IN HIM and HE IN THEM. And this is how we know that He lives IN US; we know it by the Spirit He gave us.

REMEMBER YOU ARE AN OVERCOMER! I JOHN 4:4 – You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is IN YOU is greater than the one who is in the world.

YOU HAVE POWER! II PETER 1:3-9 – His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith, goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in INCREASING MEASURE they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is near sighted and blind FORGETTING that they HAVE BEEN cleansed from their past sins.

YOU CAN WALK BY THE SPIRIT. Galatians 5:16 – So I say, walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other so that you don’t do as you wish. (The real you wants to make godly choices.)

YOU CAN SET YOUR MIND ON THE SPIRITS DESIRES. Romans 8:5 – Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desire.

SET YOUR MIND ON THINGS ABOVE. Colossians 3:1-3 -10 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in god….v5. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature; sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. YOU USED TO WALK in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourself of all such things as these; anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with it’s practices and have put on the new self, WHICH IS BEING RENEWED IN KNOWLEDGE IN THE IMAGE OF ITS CREATOR.

What happened to me at salvation?

I BELONG AND I AM FORGIVEN! Colossians 1:13-14 – For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and bought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves. In whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

I AM UNITED WITH HIM! I Corinthians 6:17 -But whoever is united with the Lord is one with Him in spirit.

I AM NEW! II Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is IN Christ, the new creation has come; the old has gone, the new is here!

I AM RIGHTEOUS, HOLY AND REDEEMED! I Corinthians 1:30 – It is because of HIM that you are IN Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

GOD LIVES IN ME! I John 4:9,12,17,18 – He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives IN us and his love is made complete In us. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment; In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. New American Standard says – As HE is so also are we in this world!

GOD HAS MY BACK! Jude 1:24 – To Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy.

GOD WORKS THROUGH ME! Philippians 2:13 – For it is God who works IN YOU to WILL and to ACT in order to fulfill his good purpose.

GOD’S POWER WORKS IN ME! Ephesians 3:20 – Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to HIS POWER that is at work WITHIN us.

I AM SECURE! Romans 8:38-39- For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, neither angels, nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I AM FREE AND NOT CONDEMNED!Romans 8:1-2 – Therefore, there is now now condemnation for those who are IN Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus, the law of the Spirit who gives life HAS SET YOU FREE from the law of sin and death.

I AM HIS CHILD! I HAVE A PERFECT DADDY SO I DON’T HAVE TO BE AFRAID! Romans 8:14-16 – For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you RECEIVED does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again, rather, the Spirit you RECEIVED brought about your adoption to sonship. And by Him we cry, “ABBA, Father.” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

THE OLD SELF-SUFFICIENT ME DIED! Romans 6:6 – For we know that our OLD SELF was crucified WITH HIM so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin-because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

I WAS BURIED AND ROSE AGAIN TO NEW LIFE! Romans 6:4 – We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.


What is salvation?

If you were raised in the church, you are very familiar with the term salvation. What seems familiar to many people is not always familiar to everyone. I feel inspired to take a simple subject and talk about it from a simple approach. What do terms like born again or saved mean? What are we being saved from? If you are curious about these subjects, I hope this blog helps.

God created mankind in His image and absolutely loved having relationship with the first man and woman. Adam and Eve were perfect in every way and enjoyed a stress free environment. Can you imagine? However, God did not want mere robots so He gave all human beings free will. Don’t we all want someone to choose to love us? I don’t want anyone to have to love me. In the Garden of Eden God placed two major trees in the center of the Garden. The Bible tells us there was the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. They were free to eat of every tree in the garden except the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The enemy came along and questioned Eve. “Did God really say you must not eat of any tree in the garden?” Eve explained that it was only the tree in the center of the garden, called the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil that was prohibited. She said, “God said if we eat from this tree we will surely die.” The enemy went on to say that they would not die and that God just did not want them to be like Him. In other words, “God is holding out on you. You can’t trust Him.” So Eve gave into the temptation and she and Adam ate the fruit off of this tree. Immediately they knew something had changed. Their eyes were opened and they knew they were naked. They were afraid. They ran and hid from God in the garden. They even tried to make clothes out of fig leaves.

Since we were all created in the image of God we were created with a spirit. The spirit is the real you and me deep down in the inner most part of our being. Adam and Eve’s spirit was completely connected and alive to God. They were in union with Him. When they disobeyed God they did not fall over and die physically. They died spiritually. They now had an obstacle between them and God named sin. Therefore, the entire human race that comes from Adam and Eve are born with a dead spirit immersed in our sins. In other words, there is a wall between us and God. We have been left to our own resources. We have to try to figure out how to make ourselves acceptable to a Holy God and how to live life on our own. And it doesn’t take long before we see the deficiency in our abilities.

God knew human kind could not make themselves right with Himself. (A Holy God) He also knew that His greatest desire was to be reconciled to His creation. God loves relationship with us! He also knew that this sin that was passed down to us all was like an evil cancer. Since HE was holy and righteous, He could not be in relationship with a sinful being. So in the Garden of Eden He slew an animal and covered the nakedness of Adam and Eve. God was demonstrating to us that HE would remedy the problem and meet our needs because He loved us so much. This was the first “picture” of His plan to reconcile the human race unto Himself. Fast forward many years and you will see that there were people that wanted relationship with Him and there were people that did not want a relationship with God. So many wanted to live life in their own way which always ended in pain. This grieved the heart of God because He loved them. God had a plan before the foundation of the world. He wanted us back!

What was his plan? Before Jesus came into the world He called His people to look forward to the coming Messiah through faith and understand His remedy for this fallen relationship by sacrificing an animal to atone or cover their sins for that year. This was done over and over, year after year. When Jesus came into the world, His cousin John saw Jesus walking toward Him. He said, “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” You see Jesus wanted to deal with the sin problem once and for all. His painful sacrifice on the cross, His blood that was shed was powerful enough to take away the sin of the world. He cried out from the cross, “IT IS FINISHED!” You may be wondering if He took away all of our sin why do we sometimes still sin. Jesus took away the penalty of the sin problem. Romans 3:23 tells us that all of us have sinned. Not one person was perfect except Jesus Himself. Romans 6:23 tells us that the penalty for sin was death (eternal separation from God). We could pay for our own sin or we could allow Jesus to pay the penalty for our sin for us. And guess what? Jesus wanted to take care of this penalty as a gift! But if someone wants to give you a gift it isn’t yours until you receive it.

He loved us all so much, He was willing to lay down His life to bring us into relationship with Him. The Bible says He exchanged our sin for His righteousness.  (II Corinthians 5:21). That’s what we needed…to be made right with God. We could never attain it on our own so He freely gave it to us if we wanted to receive it. The sin of the world was placed on Him. Jesus not only gave us His righteousness or rightness with God; He gave us Himself. In other words, His Spirit entered our human spirit (Romans 8:11) so that we could live from a greater source than ourselves. He wants to live His life through us. He gave us a new identity! He wanted union and intimacy with His children. What a deal! I give Him my sin and He gives me Himself.  I/We have the God of the Universe living inside of us. He wants to commune with us and He wants us to live in total dependence upon Him. Why? Because He never created the human race to have the capacity to handle the pain and stress of this fallen world. I’m so thankful He didn’t just hand me a ticket to heaven but wanted to be united with me. He didn’t say,”Pull yourself up by your boot straps and try hard to be good and influential and stay away from bad things and do the best you can until you die and go to heaven.” He said, “I love you! I loved you enough to pay the ultimate sacrifice so that I could make you right with a Holy God and I will come and live in you. I can give you abundant life!”

What a deal! What a Savior! John 1:12 tells us, “To all who received Him, to all who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God. Children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” Jesus also tells us in John 3 that no one can see the Kingdom of God unless they are born again. The question was then asked, “How can one be born again?” Verse 16-18, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”   What does that mean? We were born in this world with a dead spirit immersed in our sin. Condemned! We can stay in our sins with our dead spirit doing life on our own or we can accept His sacrifice on the cross for our sins, receive His life into our life, given His rightness with the Father and live empowered by the one that loves us more than we can ever imagine.

God gives us a choice. Because He never wanted robots. He wants men and women to choose to believe Him, His way, His word and accept His enormous sacrifice to bring them into the family of God through a rebirth. Have you recognized that you cannot make yourself right with a Holy God? Have you recognized that you can’t make life work? Have you realized your sins have separated you from a Holy God? Have you realized that you need a Savior? Have you realized that you are loved more than you can imagine? Have you said yes to the offer to receive Him into your life?

I John 1:11-12 says, ”And this is the testimony; God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” Is Jesus IN you? Have you invited Him in? Have you realized your need for a Savior? If you did, then He is in you! You may not feel Him or hear Him but He is there. As you get to know Him you will understand more about His life in you through out each upcoming day.

What a gift! A gift is not earned. A gift only has to be received. Once you receive His gift through believing, He begins to change you from the inside out. You will experience a peace like you have never had before. You will have a purpose like you never had before. You will be saved from an eternity without God, a physical life without God, which leaves you to your own resources to navigate a difficult life in a hopeless world. And you will have HIS power to deal with the hard things life will sometimes bring upon us. I can’t imagine facing some of the trials that came into my life without Him.

I’ll end with some of my favorite verses: Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is a gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Have you received this gift? Are you recognizing He wants to work through you to do His works in this world. Not works FOR salvation but works in union with the lover of this world to reach out to hurting people. There is nothing more fulfilling.

Romans 10:13, “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Just simply tell Him. “Lord, I’m calling out to you right now. I realize I need a Savior. Thank you for dying for me. I know I cannot make myself right with a Holy God on my own. I could never be good enough. I accept your payment on the cross for my sins. Please forgive me for my sins. Come live in me. I want real life!”

In the face of death

No one likes to think about death. However, the older a person gets the more the subject will arise through conversations or attending another friend’s funeral. The Bible tells us that “when we grieve, we don’t have to grieve as those who have no hope.” (I Thes. 4:13). So grieving is natural and to be expected when a loved one has left this earth to be in the presence of Jesus. We didn’t lose anyone. There has simply been a change in their address if they know Jesus.

Several years ago I lost a sweet friend to cancer. She had a husband and two very young girls under 7. It was heart breaking yet a touching passing as her husband held her while they listened to worship music and they said their goodbye’s. He awakened his young children to tell them the angels came to get mommy. This family knew Jesus and they had tremendous faith and hope. I remember having some very different perspectives during this time. Let me explain.

We learned a new definition for “eternity” many years ago. We often ask people how they would define eternity. Most will say that it means living forever in heaven with God. I now see that definition as incomplete. I John mentions several times that eternity is a person. (I John 1:1&2, 5:11&12, 5:20). When I received eternal life I received a new life altogether. I received Jesus very life. He actually came to live inside of me. Therefore, He wants to live in and through me. The Bible often says we are IN HIM and He is IN US. If a baby is inside their mother, that baby will go wherever the mother goes. The child is IN the mother.

It’s hard for us to wrap our heads around a new definition for eternity because we are time creatures. God is not a time creature. He can see the entire parade of life in the skyscraper all at the same time. He can see Adam and Eve in the garden, Noah on the ark, David on his throne, Jesus ministering on earth, our birth and all of His children with Him in heaven. This is why Romans 6 tell us the old you and me was crucified WITH Him, buried WITH Him and raised WITH Him. In Ephesians 2:6 we see that we are seated WITH Him right now in Heavenly Places. Think about that for a minute in reference to death.

Did my friend close her eyes on earth saying goodbye to her husband and then open her eyes in heaven to say hello to her believing husband? I’ve never heard anyone teach this concept but could that not be reality? We are spiritual beings right now. Our oneness with Christ is real. God’s word is true. And for me, this gives the death of a loved one a whole new meaning. I’m WITH them for eternity! They are not waiting on me to arrive. However, the physical me is here on earth missing them so grieving is appropriate for a time. But God gives us hope too on our end of this journey. Scripture says, “Set your mind on things above, where Christ is seated.” (Col. 3:1-3) If we focus on the real you and me being IN Christ things can get easier in time. That’s why we can grieve BUT not as those who have no hope.

There was a song I heard as a little girl. The words said, “This is not my home, I’m just a passin through.” Again, we are time creatures but with God 1000 years is the same as 1 day. Mind blowing I know but comforting at the same time. We are safe and secure IN Christ and so are our loved ones FOREVER!  Another thing to remember is if Jesus is IN me HE feels my pain also when I grieve. He knows how bad it hurts. And He comforts and heals our hearts through time. However, don’t forget to set your mind on things above as we live this life accomplishing what we were created to accomplish. Keeping our minds straight is the struggle. There is a time appointed for death (Heb.9:27) but that does not mean we no longer exist. Our loved ones who have passed are more alive right now than we can even imagine.

Part Two – Why pray?

Last week I started off my blog explaining that I often thought of questions regarding prayer. I truly did not understand it. How could I make a difference by praying a prayer? God is, well, God! He will do what He wants to do. I ended my blog sharing a portion of a prayer that Jesus prayed for you and me. Does that seem like an oxymoron? Jesus prayed. Yes, He actually prayed for us 2000 years ago. Doesn’t it touch your heart when someone tells you they have been praying for you? I know it touches my heart. Prayer is one of the most important things we can do for a person. That’s probably why the enemy goes after that activity so ferociously.

Did you know prayer goes two ways? Sometimes we can just close our eyes and get quiet and listen. Yes, I believe God puts thoughts in our minds to affirm us and lead us. And yes, I know He uses scripture to speak to us also. Many times the thoughts in our minds will include scriptures. Or a song will sometimes come to mind and I’ll wonder why. I’ll look up the lyrics and it’s exactly what I need. That’s no coincidence.

Have you ever felt so distressed that you just had no words? The Bible tells us that at those times in our lives the spirit IN US will pray for us with words we cannot even get out! So we can sit in silence with our focus on Him and He will know our hearts. I mean, He created our hearts! He knows what we feel and need more than we do.

Maybe prayer is more about just being WITH Him. Yes I know we can never physically be away from Him because the Bible says we are now one. He lives in us if we have invited Him in. But don’t you just love it when a person is totally engaged with you in conversation. They are not looking at their phones or around your shoulder. Those conversations are meaningful. God loves us to BE with Him. So prayer is not so much about eloquent words or about the amount of time we spend talking. Prayer is about focusing on Him and enjoying Him focusing on you. He loves you and He loves spending time with you. He cares about what you care about. He wants to give you what you were created for. Himself! You need Him! I need Him! Undivided attention that will literally change your life from the God of the Universe who also happens to be your Heavenly Father.

Why pray?

How often do you pray? This question is not asked to make you feel guilty or condemned. It’s a question that can make us all stop and think. And why do you pray? What kind of things do you pray about? Does it make a difference to pray? These types of questions have been on my mind over the years.

I grew up in church so I learned at a very young age that it was important to pray. I learned the common way to pray. A – Affirmation C- Confession T-Thanksgiving and S-Supplication. This blog won’t get into the specific ways we can all pray but it will discuss the validity of prayer.

Does it really make a difference? If we truly believed that it did, we would probably all prioritize it. Sometimes it feels like prayer is similar to pulling up to a drive through fast food establishment. I begin verbalizing my list of things I want. If this is the way I am praying, it is understandable that it is unfulfilling. Yes, God wants us to talk to Him about the things we want and need but that isn’t all prayer should involve. Why pray for others? Does it really make a difference how someone’s outcome will come about? Does it help to pray for world peace, Israel or the neighbor who has cancer? Again, if we truly believe it doesn’t; our prayers will merely be a gesture out of habit with no power.

Let’s find some scriptures that can remind us of some facts. Jesus said in Matthew 6, “When you pray, pray like this.” He then taught us the Lord’s Prayer. Therefore, if Jesus prayed it must be important. He also led by example by sometimes rising early in the morning to spend time in prayer with His Heavenly Father and sometimes getting alone at night to pray. He prays for wisdom, guidance and strength. Yes, He prayed for Himself, as well as others. You see a vivid example of this act in the Garden of Gethsamane.

He prayed for protection. (John 17) He understood that there was a real enemy that had a distinct purpose. That purpose is to deceive us, encourage evil choices that will hurt us and others. Why? Because we are God’s children and the scriptures say that darkness hates light. He specifically doesn’t want us to be fulfilled or influential. And He certainly doesn’t want our faith to be strengthened by participating in prayer and experiencing peace and victory.

He prayed for others. He knew that there was power in prayer. He knew that His Father had the power and capability to do anything. He saw it as a privilege to lock arms with God and together make a difference in someone’s life through prayer. It was a partnership. It is a partnership. We pray and He performs miracles. Would He do it if we didn’t pray? I believe so because He loves the people we are praying for even more than we do. But He loves us enough to want our involvement. We get to lock arms with the God of the Universe and participate WITH HIM through prayer.

First and foremost He wants us to know Him. He wants us to be assured that we are in a true relationship with Him. He wants us certain of our standing with Him. He doesn’t want a relationship out of fear or condemnation. He says in John 17 in His own prayer. “Father, you granted the Son authority over all people that He might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life that they may know you, the only true God and Jesus Christ, who you have sent… For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them…Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one….I say these things so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them…Protect them from the evil one…Sanctify them by the truth, your word is truth…I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message.

To Be Continued…

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