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You Have No Idea

How good God is to me.

I read an amazing blog post today that I want to share with you. Incredibly enough, my fellow blog sister mentions Jeremiah 9 in the post and happens to be the same verses my pastor preached on just this morning! God ministers to me through people so often and so wonderfully, it brings tears to my eyes.

I greatly feel led to deviate just a bit and share this post because it involves knowing GOD. How do we know Him? Through the Bible? Yes. Creation? Yes. Through prayer and communion with Him? Yes. Walking in His steps? Yes. Some would argue that those are the wrong ways, some wouldn’t. Some would say that I’ve got it all wrong… I don’t know- I don’t think I do. I’m God’s daughter through faith in Christ. My hope is built on nothing less than upon His righteousness, the cleansing from His blood.

I have nothing else.

I am the spiritual begger of Matt. 5:6 and I desperately need HIM and need to know Him. I need these things as only a poor, middle-aged Gentile wife and mother can; I have nothing else to offer but a prayer of Phil. 3:20. That I might KNOW:

  1. Him: Christ,
  2. the power of His resurrection,
  3. what fellowshipping with Him in sufferings is, and
  4. that I am being made conformable (just like) to His death (hopefully a martyr’s crown).

This verse is my 2nd life verse. I pray these four things often. Maybe one day I will join the fellowship of suffering with my beloved persecuted brethen as well… for we know that the Lamb is worthy.

Anyways… (got to get down to it, ’cause y’all know I can go on for DAYS about the Lord) the following post really ministered to me today. I pray it will do the same for  you.

Today I ran across a post on facebook and learned of Knowing Me Ministries in Portland, Oregon.  It caught my eye because…

Continue reading HERE.

Taken from the 8thDayForLife blog.

God bless you all,

In Christ,

Joy

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…to be a bigger voice.  A loud one, if God so wills! I’ve been wrestling with a lot of issues as of late, but I always come back to this: being a voice for the persecuted. No matter what pulls at me, I somehow find my way back. Whether that be my husband’s illness, the inclinations of adoption, homeschooling, evangelizing the lost through the Gospel wagon or tracts, running my online shops, etc., all these things work to distract me at times, or just plain wear me out so that I can’t do anything else! It does take determination and focus to stay on this track, to do the will of the Father. I am confident that He has brought me into this ministry for His purposes and pleasure and I’m thrilled about that (and I strive not to deviate!).

I am priviledged in all of this to share in their sufferings even if that is a very, very small role. I will never forget that Jesus identifies so closely with the persecuted, that all persecutors are persecuting HIM. So any work I, or anyone else does, is for HIM. And that makes me happier than I can say to serve my first love.

So without further ado, I just wanted to post real quick that Afflicted4Christ has its own Facebook page. I never intended to have one, but it kind of just… happened. Now its here and I share it with you all HERE. Maybe it could be a meeting place for those who DO suffer and where they can share their stories and we pray for one another. Maybe even pray for more laborers in this ministry? Want to serve Jesus Christ through the persecuted with me?

May Jesus Christ bless you all with more of Himself,

Joy

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Hi everyone! I have two items I want to tackle today: 1) my husband’s diagnosis, and 2) the title above.  So, off we go!

In mid-June we had our appointment with a new neurologist. Let me tell you, she was in the room asking questions and within a ten minute period had it pretty much figured out. Her diagnosis- Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). After the appointment, we did our own research and feel that after four months, this is it.

Finally.

I’ll do my best to give a brief run-down of this disease in accordance with three main informational web sites (references listed at the bottom of this post):

Definition:
CRPS is an uncommon form of chronic pain that usually affects an arm or leg (Brian is affected in his left leg) due to nerve damage whether known or unknown (his is unknown). It is a chronic progressive disease characterized by severe pain, swelling and changes in the skin. The cause of complex regional pain syndrome is currently unknown. Treatment  is most effective when started early (Brian‘s been diagnosed within the 1st stage (1-3 months) which is a good thing, however we have until July 15th to know what the treatments will be). In such cases, improvement and even remission are possible.

Symptoms: (Brian has all symptoms but one)

  • Burning and electrical sensations, described to be like “shooting pain” in the affected limb.
  • Muscle spasms, severe jerking/twitching/convulsing.
  • Swelling, changes in skin tone (blotchy, mottled, darker coloring).
  • Joint tenderness or stiffness (movement is very restricted due to pain).
  • Muscle atrophy/wasting.
  • Pain is continuous, unrelenting and may be heightened by emotional or physical stress.
  • Moving or touching the limb is often intolerable (even the hair being moved by air or light touch is painful).
  • Extreme sensitivity to heat or cold.
  • Changes in hair/nail growth (this is the one that doesn’t seem to be a symptom for him).

Prognosis – Treatments:
There is no cure for CRPS, but the disease can be slowed (reading the “no cure” part was disheartening to say the least as Brian is unable to walk unaided). The main focus is on relieving the symptoms and helping people with this syndrome live as normal a life as possible. If the condition is not diagnosed quickly, changes to the bone and muscle may get worse and may not be reversible (worst case scenario: amputation). There is a range of treatments but again, we won’t know exactly what they will suggest until his next appointment on July 15th.


Mentally, physically and spiritually we’ve all been in a tailspin. Sadly, some family members just can’t seem to grasp it at all (I don’t blame them, we can’t really grasp it either).

During these past four months what we continuously kept in our hearts was the hope that this could be “fixed” someday; whether that be through surgery, therapy, medicine, etc. Now we are faced with the possibility that this is like, forever.

Nevertheless, Brian’s fighting spirit remains… Don’t count him out yet! He vows to walk again, get rid of that walker/wheelchair and even play baseball! Gotta love him! So I still covet your prayers- for wisdom, clarity, making the right decisions in regards to therapy. And above all of this, would you pray that God would bless all the family and friends and church members who have so diligently bestowed upon us their time, love, care, cards, visits, financial assistance, concern, prayers, food, and clothing. I am humbled more than I could EVER say for the support system that God has graciously bestowed upon us!!! And I mean that!!! With tears in my eyes, this verse comes to mind:

“By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John 13:35

We have been shown more love than any family could ever ask. Truly, the love of Jesus flows wide and deep all around us!

____________________________

Part 2 – Persecution in America

I’m learning a new term! It’s: “No-Go Zone”.

Did you know that in America, we have these here? In Dearborn, Michigan the very state I live in? Wikipedia defines it as follows:

“A ‘no-go area’ or no-go zone is a region where the ruling authorities have lost control and are unable to enforce the rule of law.” (source)

The authorities are unable to enforce the rule of law… because… there is a *new* authority. Can you guess what type of group would incorporate this? The answer would be, Muslim.

Pamela Gellar of Atlas Shrugs writes in an article dated, June 18th:

“Two Christian groups, both under attack in a no-go zone in Dearborn, Michigan, in an increasingly Shariah compliant America. Dearborn, the same city that refused to run my bus ads offering help to apostates (despite our win in the courts). On Friday, two separate groups were threatened and attacked because they came to Dearborn to stand for their beliefs. Whether you like their presentation or not is irrelevant. It’s free speech. Period.” [emphasis mine]

Also, in August 2010, a Tea Party group in Dallas, Texas reports:

No-Go Zones, aka “Muslim-Only” Enclaves — IN AMERICA!

Their intentions are clear; the establishment of “No-Go Zones” or “Muslim-Only” enclaves is an unmistakable goal of Islamists. For many years they have been hard at work establishing these autonomous regions where the host government has little or no control over Muslims living there. They wish to institute Shariah law, creating their own social, economic and political structures. There is evidence that Ummah mosques in the Detroit area have maintained armed militias. Others have provided training in martial arts, and guerilla warfare… Muslim groups are working to create these communities across the country in both urban and rural areas.”

Yes, almost a year ago this article was written referencing Detroit, MI. Are Muslim-Only enclaves alive and well outside Michigan? There are. I found an even earlier article from Family Security Matters. They report in May, 2010:

“So far Americans have shelled out $1.6 billion in federal grants, loans, and “charitable” gifts to create an alleged “Muslims-only” community [this is in Philadelphia, PA]. A convert to Islam, [Kenny] Gamble, now known as Luqman Abdul Haqq, is affiliated with the National Ummah Movement which seeks to establish sovereign Islamic enclaves ruled by Shariah (Islamic) law within major cities throughout the U.S.A. The movement was started by Jamil al-Amin (the former H. Rap Brown), who is now serving a life sentence at a maximum security prison for killing two police officers in Atlanta.”

So, what’s the connection here? One word: Ummah. An Arabic word meaning “community” or “nation”. It is commonly used to mean either the collective nation of states, or (in the context of pan-Arabism) the whole Arab world. In the context of Islam, the word Ummah is used to mean the Diaspora [citation needed] or Commonwealth [citation needed] of the Believers (ummat al-mu’minin), and thus the whole Muslim world.


Google search “America Ummah” and you’ll get all sorts of hits. There’s even a facebook page! Stated directly from the Muslim Ummah of North America (MUNA) web site you can know the fundamental creed, objective, principle and agenda. Taken from the article posted on MUNA titled, “Interfaith or Selling Your Faith” the answer lies in the very last sentence:

“The abstract issues of humanity, human rights, liberty, women’s rights, and democracy, etc. without true divine guidance are the creation of the Western civilization and distorted religions. We have much more under the leadership of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.). What we can get and achieve under it is the beyond the imagination of the people. All, we need is the Nizam (System) of Mustafa (Prophet Muhammad, s.a.w.). [emphasis mine]

Nizam of Mustafa, aka System of [the] Prophet Muhammad is SHARIAH LAW (just a simple Internet search will explain- It‘s abundant, folks).  Are you still with me? We all seem to hear this term, “Shariah”. But what does it mean for us, or for those living in or near a “no-go zone”?

“Shariah Law, also known as Islamic Law, is an all-embracing body of religious, social, political, and military duties that was written in the 7th century by Islamic extremists and virtually unchanged today.  It is not “law” in the western sense, but instead a set of rules. The leaders of the Shariah-Islam movement are Shariah “scholars” or Imams who dictate that only Muslims who follow Shariah Law in its entirety are “true Muslims” worthy of going to a wonderful afterlife. Shariah, an Arabic word, literally means “the way”. (source)

Examples of Shariah Law include the following: (taken from the authoritative source Reliance of the Traveller, The Sacred Manual of Islamic Law.)

  • Requirement of women  to obtain permission from husbands for daily freedoms
  • Beating of disobedient woman and girls;
  • Execution of homosexuals;
  • Engagement of polygamy and forced child marriages;
  • Requirement of the testimony of four male witnesses to prove rape;
  • Stoning of adulteresses;
  • Lashing of adulterers;
  • Amputation of body for criminal offenses;
  • Female genital mutilation;
  • Capital punishment for those who slander or insult Islam;
  • Execution of apostates, or those that leave the religion of Islam
  • Inferior status for all non-Muslims, known as Dhimmitude.
  • Concept of Taquiyya: A Muslim may lie or deceive others to advance the cause of Islam.

I know about Shariah through VOM. I don’t have to do severe or strenuous exercises to produce story upon story or case upon case containing brutality, abuse, even judicially reckoned murder of Christians under Shariah. It also doesn’t take much to Google search, “honor killings” in America. There are many. The long and short of it is, while I try to be a voice for those in restricted/hostile nations, is it possible that America will be a restricted/hostile nation against Christianity in the time to come? Many, many Christians would say, Yes! Believe it or not, it’s coming. Jesus’ words ring very true tonight:

“They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.” John 16:2

Please don’t think I’m out to slam Muslims or that I hate them. I don’t. It’s the opposite- I love them deeply. Every Muslim needs to hear the Gospel, every single one. They all need the chance, as many are hungry to know about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ but they are just so oppressed. Especially the women and children and my heart goes out to them all.

Learning about all of this is still pretty new to me. I’m continually absorbing much of the articles and videos that Acts 17 has produced in their labor of love in the Gospel toward the Muslim community (four were arrested last year at Arab Fest, all counts were false, their online video proves this. Amazingly, what it truly proves is the fact that preaching the Gospel on American soil will get you arrested in a “no-go zone”).

I pray that this blog is simple and to the point; that point being, Christians will be persecuted in America sooner, rather than later. And it’s only beginning- let us pray.

_________________________

Sources for CRPS:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/complex_regional_pain_syndrome

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/complex-regional-pain-syndrome/DS00265

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My Absence

Although I have been absent from this blog physically, my heart has always remained. Over the course of the last few months, various words and phrases that I’ve wanted to write about have been as fleeting as rain water soaking into the ground. Unfortunately most of it all has run off into the dirt and turned to mud! Prayerfully, there’s been a seed in there somewhere that’s just now sprouting into a choice plant that’s producing choice fruit. I’m asking the Lord to help me write this and I don’t believe He’ll fail me.

It’s been impressed upon my heart by the leading of the Holy Spirit to simply share some of my journal entries that I wrote beginning in early March. I don’t know a better way to explain all the emotions, struggles, fears and doubts that my family has experienced during this time. What I do know is that no matter how intensely personal this gets, may God be glorified through it all. May His Light shine brightly through what seems to be a dark time in our lives and that in the end clearly evidenced for all to see is that we are His workmanship.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Eph. 2:10

Let me first begin by saying that I’ve never wanted this blog to be about me. It was (and is) intended to be a voice crying out in the wilderness for those who suffer for the name of Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, we (and me, especially) need to be very careful that we are not glorying people above and beyond the Lamb of God. The One for whom ALL glory and honor is due. We do nothing of ourselves, but it is Him who works through us so that no one can glory in His presence.

“…God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption…” 1 Cor. 1:28b-30.

My purpose is to share how God is working in our lives at this point in time. Not everybody knows all that has happened with us. The why’s and the what’s have gone on for 3 months and it’s time to just be open and ask for prayers. Not that I didn’t want to do all of this before, but in all honesty, I wanted to internalize things and meditate upon most of it before making it public. See, there are no coincidences as a child of the Most High God. He works all things in accordance with His own purposes and sometimes these things are hard to understand for unbelievers. Unbelievers don’t understand spiritually how God deals with members in His family through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, they don‘t understand the spiritual battle for good amongst evil that goes on from day to day, nor the depths of love I have for the souls of men. I hope to shed some light on that in the journal entries below.

___________________________________

March 2, 2011:
“So many pictures, voices, imaginings in my mind. I can’t stop its racings. It keeps me from doing the most menial tasks. Peace in my brain, please! I need to, want to, give, hand over, release to God every day complete sovereign control of all events in my life and outside of it. I need to trust Jesus in every way. I give up all possible outcomes and scenarios. Whatever happens, whatever may be is because God chose and decided to do it that way. God rules over all, I am choosing to renew my mind on that so I can have peace and joy all the time inside and out. I don’t want control. I need to let go of the idea that I have it. If I laboriously endeavor to fall in step with God’s plans through prayer, there will be no regrets, no “shoulda-woulda-coulda’s”. I will stand before Him as a favored servant, who gets the “well done”. Prayer has to be done every day.

**A month after Brian got hurt, I realized that I had prayed heavily for him this day by a notation in my bible next to a certain verse. I don’t remember exactly what I prayed, but I know by the little written date of 3/2/11 that that was the verse God lead me to for him. It was 1 Corinthians 5:5. I did not realize I had meditated on this verse on that day, again, until about a month later. I’ll let you read that passage on your own. And no, I don‘t believe Brian to be a wicked person. However, I DO want him to bring forth the fruits of repentance, to be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus, just like I do for all the people I love. He‘s my husband, of course I want: more. than. anything. in this world, for him to be saved.**

March 7, 2011:
Everything changed when Brian came home Wednesday (March 2nd) from work. He hurt his hip somehow so bad he can’t walk, use the bathroom or sleep. One ER visit and Dr. appt. later, we know nothing. They *say* its arthritic and the joint is deformed, but with almost the whole leg going number by the day, we don’t believe that. On my end, I’ve slowly slipped into robotic mode, I know I’m supposed to be leaning and trusting Jesus more than ever right now… Instead I’ve not prayed or read His Word, I’ve retreated into my own mind and stayed there. I just don’t know what to do. We’re lost at sea, with no oars. Just sitting there waiting on God to move the boat to shore.

March 15, 2011:
Unfortunately, I have not been praying and studying like I should have. Brian has had a difficult time with his hip. We spent all weekend in the hospital (St. Joseph’s – Pontiac). At least we have a diagnosis: FAI with dysphasia and two bulging discs. Picked up his last check yesterday . God was so good to us in that the application for state assistance went smoothly and everything will be taken care of as long as we get all the medical information to them.

March 20, 2011:
Praises! God supplied to us a wheelchair (through church) and a friend is letting us borrow a spare walker.

March 22, 2011:
I need to stop being such a crybaby. I need to grow up in the faith and realize God is bigger, stronger and more powerful that I or anyone can imagine.

March 23, 2011:
I’m so ashamed of myself. I totally flipped out and started throwing things. I couldn’t find an account number for a utility in that pigsty of an office I have. I’m just no good at being a bookkeeper! Ps. 100 keeps coming into my mind. “Serve the Lord gladly”, or with “gladness”. I certainly haven’t done that… I’ve just pushed Him away, and pushed Him away. I don’t know how to feel about anything any more. I’m tired of never having peace in my heart! Everything and everyone is wrong! I have so many concerns about so many issues and so many people… maybe I’m simply over-stimulated and need to focus on ONE thing and ONE person. Instead of… 50 things and 50 people. I’ve been very unthankful to you, O God. I’ve been rotten. I praise You for Your new mercies every day.

Is. 32:17 – “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.”

Jesus is my example, I am to walk in His steps. His number 1 priority was glorifying God. STEPS – Ps. 85:13 – “Righteousness shall go before him and shall set us in the way of His steps.” Job 14:16 – “For now, thou numberest my steps.” God knows the number of every step I have or will take. Wow!

March 27, 2011:
I am amazed by God.

March 28, 2011:
Brian’s leg is getting worse. Please show me the truth of Eccl. 10:13 in my own life. I want to get back to knowing Jesus and seeking the lost. I need to learn more about being, “In Christ”. Father, I need You to teach me this truth. I need to maintain memorizing one verse a day.

March 29, 2011:
Brian and I are working on taking up a Bible study together. I pray that You will work in our hearts and lead us into something that will magnify You and reveal more of Yourself. We give to You this time; help us to utilize it best for Your glory. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, think big in a spiritual sense. Seek for Himself and allow Him to seek the lost through me. Give Him unhindered sway to love others without losing delicate discernment for right and wrong. Thank You for Your Word! I delight in Your revealed… Self. I love Your Bible. I want to learn more of You everyday.

March 31, 2011:
Time. Such a big entity that cocoon’s us all… just can’t seem to escape it. I have to remember- ALL IS VANITY. Lord, set a watch over my lips. I find that as my stress level rises so does the decibel of my voice. I seriously want to scream my lungs off and never stop. My frustration is that high. I’m like Reuben and Joseph. Joseph’s brothers had so much contempt, they couldn’t speak peaceable to him. It says they, “couldn’t”. I don’t want to be like that even when stress levels are sky high. I understand my witness is precious and at stake and I’m destroying it. I’m so selfish and this ordeal with Brian is making me see how selfish I really am. I’m upset about so many things. I want peace to go in every direction, but all I feel is contempt- from others, from myself, I just want to break something. That is the rage within me and it’s not right. Dead people, crucified people aren’t supposed to “feel” anything. But its just not in me to pretend. Revelation 14:12, verse of the day.

**The verse says this: “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.”

I’m just now reading this verse again since I just wrote the address and not the actual verse. Did I realize how much this verse meant at the time??? I don’t know, I don’t remember. But wow!**

April ??, 2011:
It’s 6:45am, Jesus woke me up for communion with Him and for that I am thankful… I have so many thoughts racing around my brain. They swirl and gel and part and collide over and over again. So much anxiety and it’s ALL over my relationship with my Lord. Brian’s health and everything else is secondary. Anything  and everything I am hinges on Christ! My point of focus is Him, Him, Him! Everything I do or don’t do always revolves and swings back around to Him and His Will and Glorification. I am ashamed at being a runner, O God. I identify with Jonah so  much- O what a precious story. I’ve meditated upon the fact that over the last 30 days I’ve done nothing for His Glory. I’ve been self indulgent and wayward during the most critical time of our marriage to date. In some ways, in the last month, I’ve run away from God to do my own thing without even asking Him, but its just not in me to waste time or be a sluggard. I want and need God’s blessing to prepare financially in the event all state assistance stops. I want to plant seeds and hope the Lord blesses them with growth! Like the VOM store; all those items are there, they’re available for purchase wherever and whenever He so wills to help VOM. I have enormous peace and even excitement over what Jesus can do in the shop developed through His grace for those who suffer for Him. My part is so small, but SUCH a big joy! Words can’t accurately describe all that I feel knowing I’m a part of the Great Commission in hostile/restricted nations. Nevertheless, I need to ask for God’s blessing. I want to ask for His blessing.

I want to work- Jesus was a carpenter, Paul a tent-maker. It doesn’t even have to take that much time. My hope is that God cant take my crafts and the talents He’s given me to conform it into something that’s glorifying to Him. So why do I feel such a sense of guilt? The Proverbs 31 woman was a keeper at home and was industrious still… I guess I don’t understand. I suppose I’ve taken so much time up on that and messed up my priorities. They haven’t been to pray, read or study. I’ve always been a “do-or-die” type gal. I struggle greatly to find a balance. When I feel an ambition for something, everything else falls by the wayside… and the first thing to fall by the wayside is Jesus. I can never seem to bring Him along in any endeavor. And Him blessing me is crucial! I’m scared that deep down, I’ve really proven that I don’t’ want God in my life and that thought alone breaks my heart and makes me feel ill. I’m so afraid that in my mind, I want Jesus, but in my actions I’ve proven otherwise. I’ve actually lived the last 30 days apart form Him in accordance with My Will and My Will has become my god. What shame! And if I shared this with anyone, this truth in my heart, they’d argue with me. And tell me “not to be so hard on myself”. Blasphemy! I actually despise this light view of a Holy God. Where a vile, sinful human being is held in higher esteem than a just and righteous Creator. Makes me so mad at men (men, as people in general). Where, O Where is there someone to stand in the gap for me says, God?!

April 8, 2011:
The enemy is having a hay-day in our marriage.

April 12, 2011:
Well… found out yesterday that rent will not be covered for April. Where we’ll get the money, only God knows. I don’t want to pray, I don’t want to read my bible, I don’t want to go to church, I don’t want to ask for help… This being broke thing is nothing new to me. What’s new now is that I’m a Christian. I shouldn’t have to ask for help from humans. My God is wealthy beyond compare, He owns this earth. Yet, I have to battle everyday to trust and believe that when everyone around me doesn’t. I’m SO tired of doubting, I’m so tired of believing ALONE. I’m so tired of everyone’s opinions and the “Why’s” and Brian’s, “You need to do this…”, and, “You need to do that.” His constant, “What are we going to do?” Looking to me for answers. I just don’t know. I just want to die. Yes, its melodramatic, but I’m so exhausted from carrying this burden, this weight around me as I’m buckling under the pressure and still wielding away the evil that surrounds me. How, O how does the persecuted church do this? Their battle is far, far, far worse than mine. I don’t understand?

April 13, 2011:
I’m struggling so  much right now to maintain Christ-likeness. It’s really hard when things don’t go right, when people are mean, when disappointment comes, when uncertainty arises. I’ve been reminded of the sparrow quite a bit~ Sparrows know nothing of money, or worry, yet they eat, fly, nest, find warmth and go wherever they want to all the time… Jesus tells us to consider the sparrow. So I am.

April 19, 2011:
Brian can’t live like this anymore and neither can I. I’m so overwhelmed. Some people are just killing us. I’m becoming very bitter, not better… I have this hatred inside me, this confusion that can’t understand how some people can be so insensitive and cruel. I can’t do Master Club anymore, I can’t watch Jenna anymore, I just can’t anymore, it’s tearing me apart mentally and physically. Lord, what do YOU want me to do? “Serve Me gladly, Ps. 100” and, “Let Me handle it, Ex. 14:14”. I want You to handle it and I want to serve You gladly.

April 20, 2011:
Thank you for everything, Lord. Your love, Your grace, Your kindness. Help me to love you better. Help me to be like You to the Master Club children. Help me to be happy, kind, interested, vested, excited, tender, and glad. I’ve never been content to be a leader. It’s an uncomfortable role. Please continue to control hearts and minds for all involved.

April 21, 2011:
I pray that my journal is a testimony of Your love and power- not just a book of sour complaining by me. I love you equals “I search for ways to tell You how much I love You…” “Ah, the voice of my Beloved…” Song of Songs 2:8.

May 2, 2011:
Everything used to be so simple. Now, everything is so complicated.

May 3, 2011:
Today is our 14 year anniversary! Praise God! Love thinks no evil, bears all things, endures forever and never fails.

The Gospel is alive. It must be to “produce” fruit. Dead things don’t grow… aren’t seeds dead though?! Are people being drawn to Jesus by the way I live? Are people being lead to the Cross by me? By you?

May 4, 2011:
I feel very far away from the Cross… Thank You for demonstrating Your love for me on the Cross! Thank you for restoring my morning prayer time!  Thank You for the nice day we had yesterday.

When I feel used or taken advantage of, remember the song, “Channels Only”, or “Make Me A Blessing”. I’m merely a vessel, God will supply my every need. I don’t *need* any friends, God is my friend, my very best. Because He blesses me so much, I can bless other’s so much. Maybe when I feel unappreciated or used, its God’s way of reminding me that I need to thank someone.

How can the name of the Lord Jesus Christ be glorified in me? 2 Thess. 1:12

Help to always do what is good and right. To be blameless.

Remove any hindrances in me that would prohibit fruit production and/or doing the Will of the Father. Be not weary in well-doing. No complaining or grumbling.

I need help, Lord to do what You’ve asked of me.

May 6, 2011:
Stop making excuses and do the work. Just do right, stop sinning!

May 9, 2011:
Thank you, Lord for helping me get right. Thank you for the graciousness of Oxbow. Thank You for my parents. How can I help Brian? Help to control my tongue, help me to be strong emotionally.

May 10, 2011:
We got our gas shutoff yesterday. Unexplicably, I was still able to run Nana a hot bath. Thank You, Lord!

May 11, 2011:
Ps. 25:3a – “Let none who wait on thee be ashamed…”

Jesus used the scriptures to defeat the enemy. He can corrupt our minds and tempt us to walk away from the simplicity of Christ! He confuses and complicates! Resist him through faith, and through the scriptures.

May 12, 2011:
Thank You, Lord for restoring our hot water. Thank You for helping us. Help me to not be moved away from the simplicity of Christ.

May 13, 2011:
My testimony is too precious. I have to protect it. The enemy wants to destroy it.

May 14, 2011:
Church this morning. Slept unwell last night; chest pains, hot/cold, thirsty, fearful, etc. Amazingly enough I woke up not that tired~ Went to church, then cried all the way home. I hate to cry over the dismal picture of our finances. So behind, hope so low, faith low, uncertainty plagues me.

May 16, 2011:
Lord, you’ve turned it all around. I always do this. I always let my heart be troubled and somehow, someway, you never hold it against me. You’ve provided a better plan that I could ever dream up. Please help us direct it in accordance with Your will, please help me to see if there is anything amiss.

It is You alone, Lord who gives wisdom, knowledge and understanding. It is You alone, Lord who allows me to see a better way, to see solutions to problems, to give creativity. It is You alone, Lord who gives us the resources and increase to take care of ourselves.

Don’t be lazy. Do the work, do what is right, be strong, have self-control, trust in the Lord with all my heart. Lean not unto my own understanding. In all my ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct my paths. Be simple, don’t complicate a matter. The Lord will make the plan, the path plain, easy to follow. He will guide my steps. He is the One who blesses and grants any increase. It is my responsibility to give of the first fruits of the work of my hands.

May 19, 2011:
Let Your light shine through me to all who see. Help me to do the important work and to set aside the unworthy things. Do what’s right. Slay the “little foxes” that ruin the vineyard. Leave them behind and continue the work. Make the sacrifice for those that actually want to be a part of my life and don’t merely want “something” from me. The ministries you allow me to have, Your work, Master Club, this park, VOM, my home, my kids, serving and supporting them. Stop dwelling or allow my attention to stay on those “little foxes”, or the people that have deemed themselves unfit, don’t matter. They are diverting my attention from Jesus – my prize! Jesus IS my reward, my inheritance! Everything should revolve around magnifying Him and His work in me. I’m allowing too many things to steal my joy in my pursuit of Him. I need more self-control. I need to continue to keep “short accounts” (keep a tight reign over those “little sins”).

How are the little olive plants growing in Master Club under my care? Are they dry and underfed? Neglected, growing wild? Dying? For lack of attention and food? No direction or cultivation? Must sacrifice the time. Seek the guidance, care, attention, tenderness that comes from our Lord. Be ENGAGED – plugged in! Stop giving my attention to things that don’t deserve it! Give my attention to the things and people God wants. Period. Dwell on Jesus and what He wants for me. Always ask, “What would the Lord want me to do?” Sometimes that’s easy. Sometimes that’s not. Help us to understand and know you better, Lord.

May 20, 2011:
Thank you, Lord for supplying our needs, for the love gift. How can I serve others? And do it with joy?

May 25, 2011:
I swore yesterday. I knew it was wrong, there’s no excuse. I’m so sorry, Lord. Will You forgive me? It’s so hard to ask forgiveness for willful sin.

In Christ, I am complete. I am His workmanship. Should He come today, it will be sufficient to understand His work is done in me. (Col. 1 & 2)

May 27, 2011:
I am to be a maker and a keeper of peace. Avoiding strife and vengeance. I must not fulfill the lust of the flesh in any form of retaliation. I am to overcome evil with good and practice meekness (power under control). I have to keep in mind the preciousness of my witness and testimony and do no harm to the cause of Christ in any way or for any reason. I represent Something and Someone so precious. May all know the love of Christ through me, and may I never tarnish, mar or damage His Gospel, ever. But live in love through the avenue of edifying. May everyone see in me what’s not seen in anyone else: Jesus Christ.

I have to trust Jesus and commit to Him the state of __________’s salvation. Leave that burden at His feet, He’s more than capable. Leave it and walk on rejoicing, not sad. If the Lord starts anything, He will complete it. Not me. May God begin the work in many hearts because of my faithfulness. A gift He has given me.

Later on tonight, we bussed in 15 children from our park to watch, “The Jesus Film – for Kids”. I was able to show through the scriptures to four little girls how they can know salvation in Jesus. I’m praying for the Lord to water those seeds and bring the growth. Praying for a mighty work in their hearts and in their lives. Please, Lord. Let them, give them, the desire to know You and Your salvation. Take them to heaven.

I’m not quite sure how or why God has chosen me, or how or why He blesses me so, so much. His Great Love is constant, but sometimes He lavishes it upon me in greater measure. And when that happens, it’s a wonderful surprise!

May 29, 2011:
Not going to church. 1) no ride, 2) didn’t arrange for a ride. Lord, You know our needs. I hate to keep asking and asking. Yes. Of course if and when we get a car, we will go to church like you’ve commanded.

Help me to show love to the Master Club kids through hugs and smiles. Don’t teach me just to love, but fill me with the operative Spirit of the God of Love. God is love and He dwells within me!

June 1, 2011:
We had a set-back in Brian’s insurance. We were not able to see a doctor the whole month of May because of it. Not that it was anyone’s fault. A surgeon didn’t work out due to a mistake that I made, so in my humiliation, we just had to wait until today.  The appointment yielded three new steps. 1) new neurologist, 2) physical therapy (when he was in the hospital they told us he wasn’t a candidate for it, but now apparently he is) and 3) continue with the orthopedic surgeon we originally saw. I will keep everyone brief on the results of all this as best I can.

I keep seeing and reading about Jesus being a “friend”. It’s impressed upon me. Thank You, Lord Jesus for being my friend.

Master Club tonight.

I want to be possessed by the Living God. Not just to save myself, but to save others. I may not understand all that happens during the process, but I’ve committed to Him everything that I am and everything that I have in my desire to see Him magnified. Ps. 40:16~

June 4, 2011:
I want to do so much more… But I feel stuck in my flesh.

________________________________

There is a little bit more written in my journal since this date, but it’s a little long about a dream I had. Maybe another time I’ll share it.

I hope and pray that these entries encouraged you. I’ve had the privilege of meeting through a precious brother in Christ, a sweet lady who is in a similar situation as mine. Ordained through God, I know I’m not alone. I never was, actually. Maybe you feel alone in whatever circumstance you may be in. What I want to relay is that our walk with Jesus is seldom covered in rose petals everyday of our life. It’s been said of the persecuted church that as a flower is bruised and crushed, it’s fragrant perfume comes out all the more from it. I don’t think that’s the exact phrase, but it’s close. It is in our weaknesses that God’s grace shows so abundantly, not in our strength! Many times I feel so weak, but that is where God can use me best. As difficult a pill that is to swallow, it is the way He works. He chooses to give grace to the humble and to resist the proud. I pray that you can see through every post that no matter how much I struggle, I never lose touch with what matters and neither should you.

In the world there lies a popularity contest, in Christendom there lies greatness and blessing in serving. I will never be popular in this world, I don’t aim to be. I suppose to some degree I’ll receive flack or disdain for baring some very private things that I’ve made public, but it doesn’t matter. After all, when we stand before God, our very secrets will be declared anyway, our very thoughts and the intents of our hearts over the courses of our lives. While many seek to exalt themselves, I seek to exalt The One who made my very life possible in the first place. All to Him I owe.

Please keep us in your prayers. I don’t know what God has planned for us. Brian and I are doing our best to remain hopeful and optimistic. We know someday soon, God will reveal to us what is going on medically.

In Christ,

Joy

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Ever have those weeks (or months) where you wrestle with about 50 different projects? I consider them to be like little baby chicks that run all over the place. You think you have a handle on 5 when 3 take off running into the other direction!

So it is with me lately… I’m trying very hard to keep all the baby chicks in the coop. Days seem to fly by, my mind is in a million places, but the good news through it all is that I maintain one focus; a singular direction, the willing of ONE thing. And that is still, and always will be God’s glory.

Right now, for this week, I have determined to corner in all those “baby chicks” into four separate spaces and section them off. I’m working on jelling these million little ideas and projects into four main entities by compartmentalizing (is that a word?!) them all to be more efficient and more glorifying for the ministry God has given me which is serving the persecuted church through VOM. I feel that getting these four avenues clear in my mind and maintaining the right objectives will go a long way to helping me and everybody else. Being a stay at home mom (without a car, I might add, so I covet your prayers!), I have no means of assisting this ministry monetarily which I promised to do right from the very beginning. However God has really blessed me in so many ways by giving me many ideas of how a homebound person really can financially bless the household of faith even when the odds are against them.

So, the four things I’ve been concentrating on are:

  1. Working with my hands and my camera to produce quality items and goods to sell in my Etsy shop
  2. Re-hauling my web site over to focus more on how I’m helping VOM, what I’m doing to assist, making it easy for people to find me
  3. Working to capture more stock photography (I’ve already had two sales!) to sell at Dreamstime, and
  4. This blog – Adding links for here to 1, 2 and 3 (the three above) and adding this blog link to them. I’m also endeavoring to getting more articles/news posted, drafting articles I’m preparing to post, etc.

To sum it up, these are the concentrated four designated to VOM: Blog, Shop, Stock, Site (you can also see these links to the right of this page under, “My Stuff”). I’ve worked oh, so very hard on getting this all worked out! Phew! It’s all I’ve been thinking about- in fact, I can’t rest very well when I have loose ends hanging all over the place.

Before our internet was turned off a year ago (hard to believe it’s been that long), I had allllllllll kinds of things going on all over the web. My presence was on at least 20 different web sites: myspace, facebook, rapture ready, digg, squidoo, delicious, 2 different photography/modeling sites, the list goes on and on. I really did have a hard time keeping up and sadly it took precedence over so many other way more important things; like prayer, worship, bible study, witnessing, and fellowship. It truly is by God’s grace that He took the time-sucker called the Internet away from me. I desperately needed to get back to the essentials even though I couldn’t see that at the time; but, after a year away now I have. It is right now, more than ever that I need to stick to these essentials and not deviate! The year has not been wasted- I’m prayerfully staying with THE FOUR.

My number one always will be my relationship with Jesus (and I *love* that He cares enough to take away the things I’ve allowed to steal me from Him!). To be sure, nothing will ever fall into place without that. Nothing will ever produce fruit when it’s not attached to the vine and I can do nothing without Him since He is the giver of all life. If my involvement with helping those who suffer for their love of the Lord is truly alive and attached to the vine, much fruit will abound! It will grow and it will bring much glory to my Father in Heaven (John 15) and that’s my goal. I want everyone to understand that everything I do and everything I get doesn’t go to myself. I take nothing for my own benefit. Truth is, I want more than what I could ever attain now…

I’m going for the gold.

I’m going for the treasure that lasts forever.

Mt:6:21- For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Serving Him,

Joy

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#1. Faith is born

I had a “faith adventure” this week and I just can’t keep the information to myself! Although I am leery to put on a “teacher’s hat” (“My brethren, be not many masters [teachers], knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.” James 3:1) it is impossible to set aside my pure joy in being taught by God through His Word and Holy Spirit (“Let him that is taught in the Word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.” Gal. 6:6).

Let us all be in remembrance of these two commands:

“(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth); Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.” Eph. 5:9-10. And,

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth [dividing right from almost right].” 2 Tim. 2:15

The big lesson God taught me this week is about “faith”. I’m so humbled and grateful that He loves me enough to keep on enrapturing me with a total reverential awe in His presence. I can barely explain to you here the emotions and experiences I have during prayer and study including all the times He drives me to my knees in breathless wonder (either that, or crocodile tears are run down my cheeks because of His love and mercy).

Through His Word, and by His Spirit our fellowship is so so so sweet that when I have to painstakingly get up and do what I do throughout the day, I actually feel a void. Jesus is the prize of my life hands down. I love that He is my prize now and better yet, He will be my prize in Heaven! I can understand why Paul claimed that dying would be gain and I couldn’t agree more (“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Phil. 1:21).

My goal here is not to carelessly throw around all kinds of information without backing it up with God’s Word (false teachers do that). God forbid I share anything false with you, or any half-truths, void of direction by the Holy Spirit. A dire scriptural truth is that we’ll all be held accountable one way or another (“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” 2 Cor. 5:10), so perpetuating anything false would be very bad.

“…prove what… that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God [is],” (Rom. 12:2)

“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” (1 Thess. 5:21)

#2. Word meanings

In the spirit of proving and establishing a foundation of what I learned, I want to first clarify some essential points (let’s get the glass of milk poured and drunk before we get into the “meatier” aspects!). Sometimes when Christians are regenerated later in life, these milk parts of scripture don‘t get taught to adults (it‘s assumed they already know them- in fact, the teachings normally experienced in Sunday school in the early and teen years get missed). More often than not, newly born adult followers are trying to eat adult food with an under-developed digestive system. Fortunately the good news in this sad truth is that God never stops being faithful even when we are lost and can‘t find our way! God is clear that He will never leave us nor forsake us and much to His praise and glory He is more than faithful to take those hungering for His Truth under His very own wing… and lead them Himself.

Ok, let’s start with some word meanings:

What is “Belief”?

Acceptance of [a] truth of something: acceptance by the mind that something is true or real, often underpinned by an emotional or spiritual sense of certainty.” (Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2005)

What is “Faith”?

Faith has both an active and a passive sense in the Bible. The former meaning [in the active sense] relates to one’s loyalty to a person or fidelity to a promise; the latter [in the passive sense is] confidence in the word or assurance of another. OT faith is never mere assent to a set of doctrines or outward acceptance of the Law, but absolute confidence in the faithfulness of God [through] a loving obedience to His Will [either revealed or unrevealed]. In the NT, “faith” and “belief” occur almost 500 times. The NT makes the claim that the promised Messiah had come and that Jesus of Nazareth was this promised Messiah. To believe on Him meant to become a Christian, and was pivotal in the experience of the individual. Jesus offered Himself as the object of faith and made plain that faith in Him was necessary for eternal life.” (The Strongest Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance © 2001)

How does the Bible define “Faith”?

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

(Heb. 11:1)

What does “Substance” mean?

1. material: a kind of matter or material. 2. tangible physical matter: physical reality that can be touched and felt.

What does “Evidence” mean?

1. sign or proof: something that gives a sign or proof of the existence or truth of something, or that helps somebody to come to a particular conclusion. (Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2005) 

What is “regeneration”?

A. To form again, or become formed again

B. To recover from decline: to return from a state of decline to a revitalized state, or cause something to do this

C. In religion: to restore somebody spiritually: to restore and renew somebody morally or spiritually

(Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2005)

“The new birth, the inner recreating of fallen human nature by the gracious working of the Holy Spirit. It changes human disposition from godlessness, lawlessness, rebellion, self-seeking, and unbelief to a desire to love and serve God.” (The Strongest Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance © 2001)

How does the Bible define “regeneration”?

OT: “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” (Ezekiel 36:25-27)

NT: “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” (John 3:5-7)

#3. It’s just so confusing!

Now that we have established this foundation of word meanings (which will be helpful throughout what I am writing here), let me begin explaining the journey God took me on.

Last week I was contemplating these two issues in my mind:

Option A. Jesus’ work on the Cross plus something

By the “something”, I’m referring to anything you have to do to be FULLY considered “saved”, i.e, “on your way to Heaven or Kingdom of Heaven”. This could be anything ranging from God’s OT laws, or Law of Moses, or keeping Torah, etc. like the Sabbatical, Dietary, Festival/Feasts laws of Judaism (orthodox or not), to the edicts of Catholism, i.e., being part of the “One True Church”, Mary as intercessor, confessions to a priest, the creeds, the Apocrypha, etc. or anything in-between those two examples. To summarize, it is: “The belief that one can not be truly saved by Jesus’ work on the Cross alone.”

Please do not misunderstand; I’m stating this with absolutely zero condemnation or malice. Either you believe this, or you don‘t- one or the other. Seriously, I was hashing this out in my brain privately and prayerfully weighing it out in contrast with:

Option B. Justification by faith alone

“Alone” meaning a belief that assumes or indicates no further act on our part- that we are absolutely in right standing with God based on our belief or faith in Him.

So, which is it?

Could a person simply believe what God has said to be true on that knowledge alone and be saved? For real? The truth being Christ died on the Cross to pay for our sins, therefore upon this belief He will allow us entrance into Heaven with Him forever (aka, John 3:16 and Eph. 2:8-9)? To the best of my ability, the understanding that I have right now (including all my growing up years) is to simply believe what Jesus did, know that there is nothing I can do to save myself and that by hoping on Him and the sinless life He lived it’ll be the best I can do…

…and that by adding anything to that definition (“works”) would render it a “false gospel”. This is what I know.

After all, wasn’t righteousness imputed to Abraham simply because He believed God (Rom. 4)? Isn’t that what most Protestant and Baptist churches know to be true in the justification by faith alone doctrine? I mean, most of us have been raised with a clear understanding that we cannot work our way to Heaven (that is why the Messiah/Redeemer came to earth is it not?) and that salvation is a free gift of God (“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Eph. 2:8-9)?

If that doctrine just listed in Option B is found to be false, then by necessity we must have to rely on Option A which is using Jesus as some kind of half-way point. Logically speaking, it would indeterminately lead those to conclude that Jesus did the really hard work (like being crucified, redeeming mankind by His blood and taking the cup of God‘s wrath for sin) by becoming God’s perfect sacrifice and now we must do the rest.

In the hypothesis of a false Option B, Jesus didn’t adequately grant us full or complete entrance into Heaven, therefore we must now pick up the slack by doing the easier stuff- like, making sure we obey God’s Laws of resting, feasting & celebrating, carefully selecting our foods or abstaining from them, making incense, or whatever… Or, at the other end of the spectrum, take on Catholism’s way of claiming the Pope to be the head of the church, pouring our money into all the crucifixes and rosaries in order that we pray better, baptizing our infants, petitioning the release of our dead relatives trapped in purgatory, etc. With all these things, wouldn’t that comprise of a unified team of working together encompassing an all-out team of salvation? Jesus’ work plus our work, makes us pleasing enough to the Father in order that He let us into His glorious Kingdom? (Believe it or not, I’m very serious and I’m trying really hard not to come across snarky- forgive me if it appears that way). 

Let’s summarize:

A. Those who believe that left to our own devices, there is no way possible to Heaven outside of God’s pure gift of salvation through Jesus Christ (“faith alone”).

B. Those who believe Jesus does most of the work on the cross, and we pick up the rest (“faith” + “works”).

There are 2 ways here… and wouldn‘t you know, Jesus said there were 2 ways? Actually, Jesus was very clear about those 2 ways: The right way and the wrong way. The hard path and the easy path. The narrow road and the broad road (as John MacArthur puts it, both roads are labeled, “Heaven”). There is the good fish and the bad, the wheat and the tares, a good tree and a bad tree, good fruit and bad fruit, the path that leads to righteousness or the path that leads to destruction. I think you get the picture.

So once again, the age old battle becomes:

“Jesus plus something” vs. “Jesus plus nothing”

WHICH ONE IS A FALSE GOSPEL?

How can one simply believe God, live anyway they want their WHOLE lives with no laws to follow (Matt. 7:21-23) and STILL gain entry into the Kingdom of Heaven?! It just doesn’t seem fair or make sense. How can anyone declare that “justification by faith alone” is the Truth? But on the other end, how can anyone possibly stand at the foot of the Cross, look upon to our precious Savior‘s bloody and beaten face, see the whip marks that tore the flesh off His back, all the while knowing full well that in the Spiritual realm He swallowed every last drop of wrath from God’s cup and still be able to tell Him out loud that what He is doing is NOT enough to save us?!

These questions tore at me. They bounced around in my head for a while. You have two polar opposites: God does all the work or He doesn’t do enough of it; which is right? If there is a right, then there is a wrong and I’m sad to say there are many who will find out they are wrong when it’s too late. The sadness about these questions is the reality that a lot of people believe themselves to be on the right path to Heaven when they actually aren’t. In this life, our eternal destiny is a pass or fail test. And no one truly knows when they are passing or failing when they are deceived.

Deception: enter stage left.

A good point to remember is if you could SPOT deception, it wouldn’t be deception (we are warned 36 times in scripture about it, whether directly or indirectly). Furthermore, you do not know if you are deceived, if you are; and you can even deceive yourself (that’s called “self-deception”). It is with that formidable knowledge that I pray all the time for discernment. I beseech my God to give me wisdom to know right, from almost right (C.H. Spurgeon). Some things can sound SO true, even to the point of making the most sense in the world, but in fact be absolutely wrong. My #1 life verses are:

“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And

see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalms 139:23-24)

#4. With God, there is no confusion

After much prayer and thought tossing, it was almost like a light-switch went off in my brain. It can best be described by a feeling of scales falling off my eyes when that still small voice gently asked this question, “Do you really know what “faith” means?”

I can remember exactly where I was standing when it happened (although I don’t remember exactly what I was doing, I do remember the moment!). It was a dawning realization in the form of a second question that washed over me- have many of us been deceived or possibly tricked by the enemy into believing a false definition of faith? I think its quite possible that I have been ignorant, unschooled or even deceived about faith (I think maybe it’s been all three!).

After pouring through commentaries, concordances, dictionaries, books in my own library, and books in the church library, this new-found knowledge has me swept off my feet in joy. I have been just so happy and at peace about what I’ve learned. God truly deserves all the credit and praise…

“But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy,” (James 3:17)

This is the first set of truths that I learned (and I‘ll explain each one):

“Belief” is not always the same as “Faith” (they can hold two different definitions)

Justification by faith alone (Option B), is the TRUTH

Saving faith is evidenced by “works”

“Works” aren’t always classified as being attained by human effort

The second set of truths is this:

Salvation is a gift of God, wrought only in the power of God (Rom. 1:16, Eph. 2:8-9).

Faith is a gift of God and one of the nine fruit/characteristics/manifestations of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:8-9, 1 Cor. 12:9, Gal. 5:22-23).

This is the biggie right here: there is such a thing as “true faith” and a “false faith” (James 2:14-20).

For some of you scholars out there this next part may sound really elementary. But for those of you slow-learners like me, I was thankful and excited that God was gracious enough to give me a simple (and neat!) illustration to explain these truths and it goes like this: let’s say you came to my house to minister to my need because I have a broken leg. During the visit, we‘re talking so much, having so much fun, I say to you, “Wow, I’m so thirsty right now, I could really use an ice-cold bottled water. Unfortunately I do not have any bottled water in my house… Would you get me a bottled water from the convenience store about a mile away from here right down the street?” And because you love me desperately, you agree! Yay!

Now. You have no reason not to believe that I’m telling the truth about a store approximately a mile from my house, correct? Because I have never lied to you before, you are convinced that I am telling you the truth; and because of that conviction, you believe me enough to take action by walking 3 miles to the store to buy me a bottled water.

The key word in that story was the word, “action”. You believed me that there was a store- and because of that belief, you proved it by moving into action, and bringing me water, get it?

Let’s go back to Romans 4 and the story of Abraham (Paul uses the illustration of Abraham quite a bit, along with James and the writer of Hebrews). Abraham “believed” God and it was imputed to Him righteousness, or in other words he was in right standing with God. Because Abraham believed what God said, He proved it through action by taking Isaac into Moriah to sacrifice him.

“And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.”

(Genesis 22:2-3)

Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,”

(Rom. 4:16)

He gave his belief, what? Remember that word, “evidence”? That tangible proof IS FAITH. It is the “substance”, “verification”, “demonstration”, and “confirmation”!

His faith was the proof that He believed God.

Then to Romans 5:1… “Therefore, being justified by FAITH, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” In other words: “…being justified by [proving we believe what God says to be true] we have peace with God…”

This truth really hits home in the classic passage of scripture in James 2:14-20. Even my commentary agrees with what I learned through the Holy Spirit before I even read it! It has given me such assurance to the testimony of this very important truth: belief does not equal faith every time. James 2 in this passage is explaining what faith really means. He is defining it. The controversial debate isn’t between, “Grace vs. Works”, or “Law vs. Grace”, or “Faith vs. Works” – The debate is:

BELIEF + NOTHING vs. BELIEF + SAVING FAITH

The true equation becomes “Belief (in Jesus) + Faith (in Jesus) = Salvation”. Do you believe that? I’m getting used to it… The crux of the matter is- the right kind of faith. Is it a living faith or a dead one?

If you simply think believing is enough, guess what? “…the demons also believe, and tremble.” -James 2:19b. Do you even tremble? James makes this so clear: intellectual assent to a fact is not enough. Millions of people believe in God but they DO NOT demonstrate any saving faith. Millions more profess Christ and then remain in a perpetual state of sin & worldliness; they are therefore traveling that “broad road” to destruction with absolutely no assurance of going to Heaven, even though they think they are and may even consider themselves “believers” (1 John will also give insight to this). I suppose this can be controversial on some levels… And if you think it is, let the Lord give you understanding (2 Tim. 2:7).

#5. The proof of truth

True saving faith works or is works!! And a false faith (no evidence given) is dead. False faith does not save. Just in the story I used- simply believing me about the store ISN’T going to bring me any water. The most exciting thing I learned can be found in Hebrews 11:4-40. Do a little experiment some time: in place of the word “faith”, transpose with the words, “[By] acting on what God said to be true” and see how that reads for you.

It fits. And it’s wonderful.

These “hero’s” of faith didn’t just believe and do nothing, they MOVED- they DID- they proved that they listened to God and the end result was: obedience. The same goes for what Jesus said. Because I believe Him, I obey Him or I give evidence to my belief thru FAITH. Belief must be followed by a true living and saving faith. So when we say or are encouraged to have more faith in God, in essence we are really saying that we need to trust Him more, or believe Him more, not always or necessarily need to have more faith. More faith can mean more action, more demonstration, more evidence, more works… Think about how the disciples asked for more faith… and then contrast the man who asked Jesus to help him with his unbelief… Points to ponder! Hope you enjoyed this lesson, good-bye.

STOP!!!!!! [record scratching]

But wait… this doesn’t make any sense! I thought a works-based salvation is a false gospel- Joy, are you saying that we can’t be truly saved unless we do something, unless we “demonstrate“ or “prove” our salvation? Doesn’t that by definition make it a false gospel? Let’s face it- you’re contradicting yourself. What’s going on here?!

——If you are thinking the paragraph above, you are in good company because that is what I kept going back to over and over again. Even after that still small voice… But what I was learning about saving faith was only part of the puzzle. However at this particular junction, God got to me and really started opening up the understanding banks. Although faith can be considered a “work”, the actual gift of faith itself cannot be produced by our own efforts! It’s a conundrum, I know. However, this is where I point you back up to page 5, in the “second set of truths” section, it is written in #2:

“2. Faith is a gift of God and one of the nine fruit/manifestations of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:8-8, 1 Cor. 12:9, Gal. 5:22-23).”

If saving faith is a “gift”, then you cannot work for it because a gift is not a work. If you work for a gift, it no more a gift, but a debt. The three passages that I listed clearly state that saving faith is a gift. This also can be found in Romans 4 (back to Abraham again), vs. 4- “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.”

Also, if you do an in-depth study on the fruits of the Spirit in Gal. 5 in conjunction with Christ’s fruits in John 15, it is clear that fruits and gifts can not be attained by human effort (John 15:5), nor worked for no matter how well you obey or do anything. If you are thinking you can just do something good enough (by keeping/practicing ANY laws, edicts, creeds, ceremonies, etc.) and that by doing so God will grant you something, again by definition it becomes a debt or a work- it stops being a gift.

How do we get this saving faith?

“So then, FAITH cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”

(Romans 10:17)

When the saints in the church of Galatia were being persuaded to follow the Law of Moses in order that they make their salvation complete (Jesus + Law) or saved all the way or an actual guarantee they’d get to Heaven or really please God, Paul cut right to the chase:

“This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of FAITH?” (emphasis mine) (Gal. 3:2)

The only thing Paul wanted to know was how they received the Holy Spirit! If the Spirit bestows the gift of faith, how did they get the Holy Spirit? By doing something, or hearing something? Twenty-three times (I counted) the word, “faith” is used in the epistle to the Galatians. How do you receive the Spirit? By hearing about faith. How do you hear all about faith? By the Word of God. How do you hear the Word of God? By studying the scriptures. ALL of the scriptures, New and Old – 2 Tim. 3:16, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”

In my own paraphrase of Eph. 1:12-13 & 15: “When we heard about Christ, we trusted Him. Then we shared with you and when you heard about Him, you trusted we were telling the truth and trusted in Christ too. Then at the time you heard and believed, you were sealed [indwelt] by that Holy Spirit of promise. How do we know all this is true? We heard about your faith, in Jesus… and heard about your love…”

See the pattern? This can also be found in Romans 10:14-17. People hear, trust, believe, are sealed, and then they demonstrate faith. But wait a second here; something isn’t adding up again. If the Spirit gives us the ability to prove we believe God (faith) as in 2 Cor. 12:9, how can we get the Spirit if we can’t demonstrate any kind of faith in the first place? Since demonstrating faith gives us the Spirit, and yet somehow without the Spirit we can’t get the gift of faith, how can we reconcile these two truths?

This is the picture I have in my mind:

Indwelling Holy Spirit à Gift of Faith

Gift of Faith à Indwelling Holy Spirit

Confusing? Yah, a little. But it doesn’t have to be. That is what the Holy Spirit is for!

“But the anointing (Holy Spirit) which ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you:”

(1 John 2:27a)

Is there then two ways of receiving faith? That’s a good question. In the two verses I used a little while back, there is one word that comes to the forefront that I want to dig into before answering that question. Can you pick it out?

“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

(Romans 10:17)

“This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” (Gal. 3:2)

The word is: hearing

#6. Say what? Hearing with ears, Greek roots, & real progression

How can anyone receive anything without hearing about it? As far as I know there isn’t a single person who learns by osmosis. Furthermore, although it’s not impossible, I’ve never heard of anyone upon hearing the Gospel to instantaneously become a super-sanctified saint, nearing perfection right on the spot either.

Jesus spoke of a parable regarding spiritual growth found in Mark, chapter 4. In verses 26-28, He says this:

“And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how.

For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.”

My Scofield confirms in the Panoramic View Of The Bible #that,

“The Bible is a progressive unfolding of truth. Nothing is told all at once, and once for all.”

If something is progressive, then it has to have an origination point. If Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith as spoken of in Hebrews,

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith;” (Heb.12:2)

It has to have a starting point… So where is it?

When we hear. But after we hear and we believe it to be true, it is that faith in the passive sense (see page 2) that begins, and I’ll parallel that understanding with Jesus’ words to those who believed Him and to those who didn’t.

In my study of the scriptures, there are three kinds of “faith’s” found in the New Testament:

Greek Translation

No faith “Apistos”

Little faith “Oligo-Pistos”

True faith “Pistis”

The expression of “faithless”, or Apistos is found four times (only once in each Gospel- Matthew 17:17, Mark 9:19, Luke 9:41 and John 20:27. The expression “no faith” is found in Mark 4:40). “Little faith” or Oligo-Pistos, is found five times (four of which are in Matthew (chronologically) 6:30, 8:26, 14:31, 16:8 and once in Luke 12:28). True faith or Pistis, is found 239 times all throughout, ending in The Revelation.

Of all those 239 instances of “faith” found in the NT, they are all Pistis. The defining words of Pistos in “little faith” are mostly adjectives or descriptions- Pistis carries more nouns or objects, and there are differences between nouns and adjectives. By using an allegory, the best way I can explain it would be to say- while “Pistos” describes what a car looks like; “Pistis” gets in a drives it.

I realize that this is a very long explanation of faith and I pray that I haven’t lost any of you way back on page 5! The short of it is, there is only ONE true faith; little and none do not count. In A.W. Tozer’s article, “Faith: The Misunderstood Doctrine” he says,

“Because faith is so vital to all our hopes, so necessary to the fulfillment of every aspiration of our hearts, we dare take nothing for granted concerning it. Anything that carries with it so much weal or woe, which indeed decides our heaven or our hell, is too important to neglect. We simply must not allow ourselves to be uninformed or misinformed. We must know.”

He goes on to say,

“Specifically, my fear is that the modern conception of faith is not the Biblical one; that when the teachers of our day use the word they do not mean what Bible writers meant when they used it.”

That article has been a huge blessing to me. I read it about a month ago, before the Holy Spirit really started ministering to me about this very important doctrine. Now that He has given me further understanding, I have gone back to this article with fresh eyes, and the truths here are too wonderful to mention.

I have come to an understanding through this in-depth study that the beginning of faith starts upon hearing, but only when it‘s believed as something that‘s true. When that happens, Jesus starts “The Faith” wrought in the power of the Gospel which is the Good News message to the nations regarding the death, burial and resurrection of Himself (1 Cor. 15:3-4). In that beginning, passive sense it eventually develops into something progressive- it is never stagnate- meaning, if its not growing, it’s not true faith. Saving faith develops over time (it’s that tiny mustard seed (Mt. 17:20)).

When and where the Holy Spirit moves into this transaction can not be definitely known (if you can know it scripturally, I’d sincerely love to hear how!).

#9. The mystery of the re-birth through the Spirit, example Nicodemas

“Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:7-8)

I believe the greatest example found in the Bible is that of Nicodemas, the Pharisee who came to Jesus by night in John 3. Here is a man, a stout religious leader in Israel, clearly believing He is right with God and on His way to Heaven… that is until Jesus meets with Him and unloads some very heavy statements shattering that belief.

In John MacArthur’s book, “The Jesus You Can’t Ignore” (Softcover edition © 2008) there is a great chapter on Nicodemas. Mainly, this book is a study on what we must learn regarding the “bold confrontations of Christ” and it dissects these scriptural passages and contrasts them with the current epidemic of Post-Modern Christianity. Post-Modernism holds the belief that dialogue is better than debate since the Bible and Christian ethics are all a matter of how one interprets it and cannot be known absolutely. This book clearly demonstrates through God’s Word that Jesus was anything but friendly and ready to calmly dialogue and “hash out” differing opinions on various belief systems.

Nevertheless, this book also covers in one chapter the spiritual rebirth using the example of Nicodemas as set forth in John 3.

Here is an excerpt (pgs. 61, 62):

“By the very nature of things, therefore, spiritual life cannot be the fruit of human achievement, a fact that contradicts every form of works-religion, including the fundamental belief system of the Pharisees.

On top of that, Jesus added, because spiritual rebirth is the work of the Spirit, it is beyond the control of either human works or human will power: “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (v. 8). The effects of the wind may be observed, but its boundaries cannot be discerned by human senses, and the wind itself can neither be harnessed nor directed by human efforts or ingenuity. The Holy Spirit’s ministry operates in a similar fashion. He is sovereign and moves where He wishes, not at the whim of any human agenda. His workings are not contained in- or automatically dispensed through- any religious rituals or ceremonial protocols. In fact, the Spirit isn’t moved by what we do at all, but by His own sovereign will.

To a typical Pharisee, what Jesus was saying to Nicodemus would likely have come across as highly offensive. Jesus was attacking the very core of Nicodemus’s belief system, plainly implying that Nicodemus was lost, spiritually lifeless, and ultimately no better off in his rigid Pharisaism than an utterly immoral Gentile without God. (Indeed, as we shall observe throughout this study, Jesus said that very thing to the Pharisees quite often.)

This was a direct answer to Nicodemus’s questions (“How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?). Jesus was telling Nicodemus, in language Nicodemus was sure to grasp, that not only was He not speaking of any superficial or fleshly self-reformation, but He was in fact calling for something Nicodemus was powerless to do for himself. This punctured the heart of Nicodemus’s religious convictions. To a Pharisee like him, the worst imaginable news would be that there was nothing he could possibly do to help himself spiritually.”

The following statement below which is stated earlier in this chapter perfectly correlates how the spiritual element ties in to faith,

“…the story of Nicodemus is a vivid example of how perfectly Jesus knows the human heart. Nicodemus, meanwhile, demonstrates how easy it is to respond positively to Jesus and yet fall short of authentic faith.” (pg. 55)

Here is a biblical illustration of how one can believe they are pleasing God, yet not actually be saved. They thought they had true faith, but Jesus can see full well into their heart and know that, in fact, that they don’t. That’s why He says, “Many will come to me in that day and say, Lord, Lord… And I will say, Depart from me…” (Matt. 7:23) (emphasis mine). Without the indwelling Holy Spirit regenerating us into a New Creature (2 Cor. 5:17), partaking of the Divine Nature,

“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” (2 Pet. 1:4)

We can never hope to be re-born, or be divine partakers with totally new hearts by anything we do. All these gifts of God are wrought in Him, by His power alone.

Conclusion: the faith spectrum

Uh oh, have I traveled off the beaten path? What happened to the discourse on “faith”? You’re probably wondering how all this ties into faith. I’m wondering that too, LOL! Just kidding. Faith and being born again truly go hand-in-hand. Can you possibly have one without the other? Honestly… I don’t believe you could ever hope to gain the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (the spiritual rebirth), or become a new creation in Christ without hearing about Him, then believing Him- leading to the beginning of faith.

“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?” (Luke 11:13)

Jesus went on to pray in His high priestly prayer to the Father in John 17:16-17 that the Comforter would come to abide,

“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.”

A key word in that first verse of 14 is the first word, “And”. That “And” is contingent upon the verse before it, v. 15.

“If ye love me, keep my commandments, and I will pray the Father…”

Assuredly, one of those commands is to be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18). The Spirit comes of His own will through a true faith that begins upon hearing the Word of God, and believing what He says written in the scriptures.

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” Heb. 11:6

Scripturally, the pattern is this:

Hear, Believe, Trust

True faith in Christ in the passive sense is born, Spirit comes to abide

By a gift of the Spirit, comes an active faith, producing evidence of salvation

Others Hear, Believe, Trust- on the cycle goes.

However if there is any kind of breakdown in the cycle, it becomes imperfect (there shouldn‘t be any breakdowns in a scriptural pattern set forth). Or if there is no growth, no progression, no fruit in the life of the professed believer, then something has to be amiss. The only logical remedy according to the Bible is, self-judgment. It must commence to see if one has truly been in the faith to begin with (2 Cor. 13:5, 1 Pet. 1:10). If you are a true believer, but you don’t’ self-judge, then the Lord will, resulting in discipline (Heb. 12:7). If you are a professed believer, yet: practice sin/deviate from Biblical teaching/live outside the Father’s Will, and never receive discipline (through repentance/self-judgment or the Lord), then you are a bastard and not a true member of God’s family through the spiritual rebirth (Heb. 12:8). True faith is born when you hear and trust Christ for salvation. True faith grows through hearing and hearing and hearing God’s Word. When the Holy Spirit comes, He bestows that gift of active faith that evidences your salvation through the fruits of the Spirit (if you don’t know about the nine fruits, I urge you to find out!), therefore anything short of those things is not true faith, it is dead.

Also, I believe it would be profitable beyond measure for all of us to do our own studies on what Jesus has to say about:

Hearing (174 verses)

Believing (184 verses)

Trust or Trusting (35 verses)

Gifts from God (56 Verses)

In conclusion, please know that words cannot accurately express the overwhelming sense of peace I now have from doing this study about the birth and development of faith and how it directly ties in with the Holy Spirit. But that is not to say that I can now wipe my hands clean of everything and put my Bible up on the shelf to gain dust! God forbid! This study has been like an exquisite drop of the finest liquid onto my tongue- a nectar so sweet that it propels me to search more and more for it. Every time God shows me more of Himself, I can only want more. I can’t ever imagine being bored by Him or sick of knowing Him, it sounds utterly insane. And this drive isn’t even to prove anyone wrong or to tout to others my newfound knowledge- its simply showing to everyone I can the treasure map I have that leads to Jesus through a Spiritual understanding of the Scriptures! All of our wisdom and treasure lie within Him! He’s alive right now, and He comes to those who search for Him with all their hearts. And, He’s already teaching me the next lesson: Being Filled With The Spirit… It’s so exciting!

I also want to give some loving encouragement to you brothers and sisters in the Lord and say that there is NEVER a question too foolish for God to answer. Let us never forget that by faith in Christ we become His sons and daughters… and He becomes our everything; wisdom, knowledge, understanding, etc. Many times I fear that there are new Christians who are too fearful of ridicule to ask a pastor or Sunday school teacher something as basic as, “What is faith?” It’s assumed too much that everyone knows these things. So if you didn’t know them before now, take heart, God is with you.

Never give up~ (((HUGS)))

_________________

“And there came a fire out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces.”

(Lev. 9:24)

Only the Lord starts the fire… [So] that no flesh should glory in His presence.

(1 Cor. 1:29)

All my love in Christ,

In His Service,

Joy

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I have a sinking feeling that I’m going to be held accountable for what I’ve written in Part 1 from 7-13.

Ultimately I am responsible for the words, therefore I must live by them, correct? The old adage that says, ‘practice what you preach’ is creeping into my mind like a sneaky little rat. Or, maybe I’m just over-exaggerating and the Holy Spirit is simply suggesting that I clear a few things up!

Either way, as I sit here tonight I’m asking if I’ve done damage to the word, “suffer” or the word, “suffering“ in the eyes of my readers. I’m tossing this idea around that maybe I should have substituted it with the word, “persecution” instead. Why?

Because the definition of what constitutes suffering is in the eye of the beholder. 

Sunday morning, my pastor preached on suffering as a tool used by God to either; a) mature us, or b) discipline us (what are the odds he would preach on something I wrote about only a few days earlier. Not coincidence, but providence!). The book of first Peter was used a lot (as you can imagine). The pastor wondered out loud how many congregants there that morning were possibly suffering from financial difficulties… Or, in other words, how many of us in the pews were suffering over how our bills were going to be paid?

After hearing about the Nigerian massacre back in March, I have a real hard time with those who claim to suffer over finances. Now, there were more topics preached than just suffering over finances, but I have to ask: 1) is what I’m feeling righteous indignation and, 2) is it appropriate? I genuinely ask because I have a sense of conviction typing this right now. Could it be the enemy, or am I just flat-out wrong? Somebody help me, here. In some sick sense I know all about struggling financially; I’ve been poor by America’s standards just about all my life (I live in a trailer for crying out loud!).

And I’m not here to speak negatively in any way, shape or form about my church or its leadership. Please don’t think that because they have been there for me when no one else was. They never forgot about me, they have prayed for me many, many years. It’s the enemy that can take all the credit for wrapping those poor souls into believing LIES about our Heavenly Father. When you worry about how you will pay your light bill, or how your rent is going to get paid, get these verses sunk into the depths of your heart:

Jesus uses some strong phrases here that require obedience if you follow Him:

Matt. 6:24 – No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon (or money).

25: Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

26: Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

27: Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

28: And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

29: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

30: Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

31: Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

32: (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 

I’m not a betting person, but I’ll lay a dime to a donut that the persecuted church lives off of these verses. It really is the air they breathe every single day. And to say we here in the states can struggle over finances or even material things smacks of disobedience to me. I don’t believe Jesus ever promises us cars or electricity or even a dwelling place:

Mt:8:19-20: 19: “And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” 

Basically, I believe Jesus is saying, “You can follow me, but I’m homeless. Are you prepared to face the same?

There may be those who disagree with me and what I am saying about these verses, however you can’t argue the fact that Jesus said had nowhere to lay His head that night. As far as I know throughout scripture, Jesus stayed with people or lodged in their homes as He did not have his own dwelling place.

We in America are living within the richest nation on earth. In fact, I read in a book (David Platt’s, Radical) that if you have your own dwelling place, a car, a refrigerator of food and a closet of clothes, you are 83% wealthier than the entire WORLD (I’ll get a more accurate quote when I get the book back- it’s loaned out to someone right now). Can you picture that? EIGHTY-THREE PERCENT of the earth’s population does not have what you have and unless you have a heart of stone, that is incredible! And until we experience the suffering the Nigerian Christians did, the loss of precious children and babies all because of their witness, I don’t think we can say we know anything.

Next on the agenda that I quickly want to touch on is our physical health. Our church prayer list has many people on it, greatly suffering with pain and terminal cancer. There are some very Godly people riddled with pain there, eagerly anticipating their heavenly homecoming because their time on this planet is limited. Many people on the list are more than just a name to me, including my husband’s grandmother who is very, very sick right now. Am I saying that their suffering shouldn‘t be recognized? Absolutely not, God forbid! Please know that in my heart I would never want to even touch that type of topic with intolerance or frustration. The thought makes me queasy!

The whole point that I was trying to make in the blog was that suffering for being a Christian specifically, is a whole other ballpark on a whole different planet. You will see below in what I’m going to tell you that counterfeit suffering for being a Christian does exist. It is with great regret that I didn’t include this in my last blog to further enlightened the audience as to where I was coming from.

I remember reading this article I’m about to talk on quite a few years ago and it has always remained with me. The article was about a woman who was high up in the ranks of her denomination as she had racked up some type of influence, and she was lamenting over how much she was suffering because of her religion. Why was she suffering? Because she was too knowledgeable about the Bible. Apparently, she was considered an “outcast” because she was so smart and no one wanted anything to do with her. Her spiritual family had labeled her a black sheep and now she was crushed.

I won’t go into what denomination she was because that is not important. Come to think on it, I don’t even remember where I read it. The important issue that remained all these years what that she was glorifying her intellect and not the person of Jesus Christ. And I’m thinking in my mind, if you are that smart about the bible wouldn’t you know this? Wouldn’t you know that you are to glorify Him, and Him alone? Unfortunately, the answer to those questions is found in 1 Cor. 2:14. If she didn’t have the Holy Spirit within her illuminating the scriptures the sad reality is she wouldn’t have known these things.

1 Cor. 2:14 – “But the natural man (the unregenerate man) receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 

I don’t believe the scriptures were foolish to this woman, I believe she didn’t know them because she was spiritually blind. Most of all, I think we can be confident of this:

  • There was no glory given to the Creator,
  • There was no furtherance of the Gospel, and 
  • No person received the plan of salvation.

Therefore, her suffering was counterfeit. And I’m not saying these three things are pre-requisites, but you know what I mean. She glorified her pain and the tragedy of having a big brain (or not-so-big brain depending on your point of view) and not the person of our precious Lord.

That’s the difference.

 

Well, that’s all. Thanks for letting me ramble.

Yours In Christ,

Joy

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