In Sight of Sin

Sometimes I forget.

I forget the type of person I used to be.

But other times, I remember. I remember it well.

And for those moments when I do remember, those moments when things I’ve done or used to do replay before me, I cringe. I cringe in horror. I shudder in shame. I shrink back in disgust.

That person…was me?

Sometimes when we let ourselves be consumed by whatever we feel at the moment or let ourselves be molded by what surrounds us, we become something we never thought we would ever become.

By beholding, I became.

Sometimes I feel that person still inside me. My sins spread out before me like fresh blood on a white rug. They are all there. Thankfully they aren’t displayed for everyone else to see.

But I want to say this: Something I have to consistently remember is even though I may have done those things or were part of a certain lifestyle in the past, choosing to follow Christ is what helps me keep those doors closed.

I have chosen to leave it behind.

It’s all a choice.

Anyone who chooses to follow Christ is a new creation; old things have passed away; all things have become new ( 2 Corinthians 5:17).

New.

If I were the same person I used to be, I wouldn’t be transformed. Dare I say, I wouldn’t even be a Christian. What would be the point?

Once we make a commitment to Christ, we are called to put off the old man and be renewed (Ephesians 4: 22-23), to be light bearers in a darkened world. To show there’s hope amidst what seems hopeless.

Christians hear and say this all the time, that God has an unconditional and inconceivable love for us. And He does. That love is there no matter where we are in our lives. He doesn’t love me any more or any less than he loves you.

We experience that love when we let Him into our lives. It must be an individual experience. I can sit here all day writing about God’s love and how He has changed my life. Though that can be helpful, only you can understand it fully when you experience it yourself.

Some more wonderful news is that God works in us to do good things, to change us the way we need and want to be changed.

The repercussions of my past actions are scars on my heart.

But I surrendered that part of me. And I have changed and will continue to change.

That’s the power of God.

People can say that the only reason I am different now is that I was driven to be different, and therefore can attribute those changes to the power I have within myself.

Oh boy, I can write another post about how false that is.

I don’t have that kind of power.

I do know that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I can overcome my propensities, practices, and habits that I know are dragging me down.

Every habit or practice that leads into sin and brings dishonor upon Christ must be put away, whatever the sacrifice.” -Acts of the Apostles, 312

When I made the decision to follow God (because I was so unhappy, broken, and miserable even though I was living with total “freedom”), there were some things I knew I needed to change. There were heartbreaking sacrfices I made. I questioned if the sacrifices were worth it and if it was even the right thing to do.

Was it worth it? I don’t even think I have to answer that. But I will. Yes.

So when I am burdened and stand in sight of my sins, I remember how faithful God is. I find hope in the promise that Christ will perfect our faith, perfect our characters. If we choose to serve God and let Him lead us, He will not lead us astray.

Triumph.

 

Until next,

Yes, I have loved you

How is everyone doing on this fine night? Well, it’s nighttime where I live in sunny SoCal. Maybe it’s morning where you are, or maybe it’s afternoon. Either way, thanks for being here.

So I’ve been thinking about how sometimes I get really caught up in being perfect in my walk with God that I skim over what drew me to Him in the first place.

Love.

I don’t say that lightly or even as a cliché Christian catchphrase. It really was and is and will always be His love.

I’ve realized that maybe one reason people don’t like the idea of God, or any single infinite being, is that they think about some tyrant in the sky who has no other interest other than making people afraid, condemning people to death, and watching them suffer on earth.

Because that’s what they hear, isn’t it?

Or they hear that all is love, love, love, love that the term starts sounding like an overplayed tune. Or how I like to say it, a flavorless and over-chewed piece of gum.

Except here’s the thing. When I reflect on texts like Jeremiah 31:3 and Hosea 11:4, I can’t help but feel peace about the choice I’ve made in believing in and following God.

It was love that drew me to Him. Not the promise of immortality or someday walking on streets of gold, but love. The love He has for everyone. Everyone. Not just Christians, not just me, but everyone.

And it’s only when I started to listen to His call on my heart that I began to see and accept His love for me.

You know, if I had to condense my conversion in one paragraph, it would be this:

I was doing everything and anything I wanted to do in my life. I lived purely for pleasure. And it felt good…for the moment. Deep down I was miserable. I needed something more, and I knew it. It was only by choosing to attend Bible studies and choosing to let God into my life that I started to feel meaning and purpose. I started to feel less and less empty.

And I want to share that joy with others, with you.

I can’t tell you how your experience will be. I can’t guess what your experience has been. But I do know that becoming a Christian does not happen overnight. It’s a process of learning, of growing, of accepting.

It starts with one choice.

 

Even though the struggle of temptations is very real, I could never go back to my old life. Never.

“I have loved you with an everlasting love…with lovingkindness I have drawn you…”

It is that lovingkindness, that deep tenderness and consideration, that keeps me tied to God.

It’s what keeps me tied to my choices. Even when they go against the popular scientific belief of the non-existence of God. Even when I chose to follow something I know is right when everyone else tells me I’m wrong.

And I pray that it is that love that always will keep me tied to Him. For me, for you, for all of us.

Remember, it starts with a choice.

Until next,

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Hide It Under a Bushel

It’s been awhile since I’ve felt this way.

But let’s be honest: these feelings happen more often than I would like.

Just to go back in time a little, when I was 21 years old and first really started to veer away from my old lifestyle, I quickly realized that being around all the things, places, and people I hung around wasn’t good for my progress; It was temptation overload.

And I used to be embarrassed to explain why I couldn’t go out to that certain place or partake in certain activities or be around a certain person. But handling those situations has gotten a little easier over the years.

And it’s especially easier now because I hang around different people.

But then it happens: I’m around certain people in certain situations and I really can’t do anything about it. (Except, of course, leave early haha).

And I feel shame and embarrassment for my choices all over again.

Why?

Well, I feel as though my lifestyle is offensive to them, and me being the noncombative person I am (for the most part) I automatically feel like I have to tone it (who I am and what I stand for) down a bit. Sometimes a lot. I probably eat things I shouldn’t eat, say things I shouldn’t say, talk about and agree with things I shouldn’t talk about or agree with anymore…

Or I just stay quiet, haha. Which can get awkward…

I necessarily don’t know (or am not sure ) if doing any of that is right or wrong. I want to be a good example and show how my life has changed, but I certainly don’t want to give off this self-righteous “holier-than-thou” attitude.

So I tone it down. But in the end, I feel awful. I feel awful for feeling ashamed of my choices, I feel awful for the people I was just with, I feel awful for feeling awful.

But should I care? If so, how much should I care?

 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16.

Let my light shine. Not hide it under a bushel. If I have no problem saying how much I love my husband or my cat, I really should be better at standing up for my lifestyle choices… right?

I don’t know. What do you think?

Until next,

And Then I Heard a Story

We’ve all heard it before: There’s always two sides to a story.

Except I have found that usually there’s even more.

Confession time: I’ve been totally guilty of creating scenarios and stories in my head (that are probably completely wrong) about people and their situations. What they’re thinking, why they’re thinking it, and what they’re doing about what they’re thinking…

Yeah, I’ve figured it all out.

But the thing is, I haven’t. I never completely figure anything out. *Mind=blown*

And I keep learning this lesson over and over and over again.

We often don’t know the whole story, especially if we have only heard one side of it.

Or maybe we haven’t even heard any side of it (remember those scenarios I create in my head.)

For years I’ve harbored very awful and ugly feelings about something, and I thought I could never gain any peace about it, ever. There was a war raging inside of me. I needed, I yearned for, I cried for peace.

And then I heard a story.

I heard a story that changed my outlook and my feelings about what I felt awful and ugly about.

And I would have never known about any of this information had that story never been shared, had that moment and timing and circumstances been different; I could have lived forever with those feelings. But by God’s divine timing of that shared-story time, the way I felt, something I thought would never change, actually did change.

And there is probably even more to the story I still don’t know.

I know for a fact I don’t want those ugly and awful feelings I had to come back, and I pray they never do.

 

That story was a missing piece of my peace puzzle.

There are no coincidences.

It makes me wonder…how often do we go about our days thinking we know it all? How often do we make assumptions and spread ideas that could, in fact, be wrong?

I want to know the other side. I want to know the true story.

Instead of thinking I know, I actually want to know.

 

How many stories are out there that we could afford to hear?

To pay attention and listen?

There are so many sides to a story. So many opinions. So many changing elements…

 

Maybe there’s a part of a story you’re missing. Maybe there’s a piece, and some peace, you’ve been longing for that can only be found by making peace.

 

Until next,

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A Battle, a March

I think some of you know that I teach bible lessons to a class of teens/young adults. A questioned I asked them—and ask you— is this:

If I asked you if you were 100% committed to Christ, what would you say?

Christians often say that because we’re sinners/live in a sinful world, we cannot really be in control of our actions.

“No one is perfect,” they say.

Usually, such things are uttered immediately following (or immediately before) they did or said something they inherently knew was wrong.

They say something really mean about someone: “Well, I’m not perfect.”

They curse and gossip and cheat: “That’s just who I am.”

To me, that response diminishes God’s power and tells me the God you say you serve is a God that truly isn’t all that powerful.

If I am trying to represent the God I serve and the Christ I follow, I’m not going to talk like the rest of the world talks. I’m not going to cheat like the rest of the world cheats. I’m not going to lie like the rest of the world lies. I’m not even going to eat like the rest of the world eats (well, at least the rest of the world where the standard Western diet prevails). Plain and simple.

I digress. The point I’m trying to make here is that instead of coming up with excuses to why we curse/cheat/lie/steal/mistreat our bodies/sin, we should own our mistakes, switch gears, and say “You know, that was wrong. I messed up. I shouldn’t have done/said that. But God is able to help me with this.

Yes!

I get it. We struggle.

But who said this life would be easy?

“The Christian life is a battle and a march. In this warfare there is no release; the effort must be continuous and persevering. It is by unceasing endeavor that we maintain the victory over the temptations of Satan. Christian integrity must be sought with resistless energy and maintained with a resolute fixedness of purpose.”

“Wrongs cannot be righted, nor can reformations in conduct be made by a few feeble, intermittent efforts. Character building is the work, not of a day, nor of a year, but of a lifetime. The struggle for conquest over self, for holiness and heaven, is a lifelong struggle. Without continual effort and constant activity, there can be no advancement in the divine life, no attainment of the victor’s crown.” Ministry of Healing, page 452 & 453

It’s a struggle because we live with sin all around us. Temptations are rampant. Traumas tear our hearts. The good news is, we have a hope!

“You need not go to the ends of the earth for wisdom, for God is near. It is not the capabilities you now possess or ever will have that will give you success. It is that which the Lord can do for you. We need to have far less confidence in what man can do and far more confidence in what God can do for every believing soul. He longs to have you reach after Him by faith. He longs to have you expect great things from Him. He longs to give you understanding in temporal as well as in spiritual matters. He can sharpen the intellect. He can give tact and skill. Put your talents into the work, ask God for wisdom, and it will be given you.” Christ’s Object Lessons, page 146

Hebrews 12:3-10 talks about what it means to love God, to allow him to transform us, to develop love to obey and willingness to let Him change our hearts.

Titus 2:11 talks about the importance of God’s grace in overcoming sin and temptation and Ephesians 2:8 talks about the importance of growing our faith.

1 Thessalonians, James, and 1 Peter all talk about trials faced throughout the Christian life.

Christ’s righteousness comes by faith (Romans 3:22), and nothing is impossible for us to achieve (Philippians 4:13). He came to change our sinful hearts, to help us obey his law in love, to overcome sin. We can do nothing without the transforming power of Christ ( John 15:5)

The test of true Christian sincerity is not in our words, but in our actions.

That said, it absolutely matters what we do—how else can we develop a heart/character fit for heaven?

“Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow….if you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; But if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword.” Isaiah 1:18-20.

Okay, this last verse sounds a bit scary. But I included it because there is a deep message here. Not meant to be scary, but definitely meant to be serious. As Christ’s disciples, we must serve Him out of love and commitment (just like a marriage). But if we refuse to obey the commitment we made and rebel against that commitment, there are consequences (just like a marriage).

Just because I make mistakes in my Christian life (and marriage) does not mean I am less committed. If I give up, then yes, I am less committed. Press forward with love and faith!

Don’t. Give. Up.

Trust in God’s power to help you overcome. (And get a brain scan if you’re really struggling. I type this to be a little humorous, but I’m actually pretty serious.)

In the end, I believe we Christians should be able to say we are 100% committed to Christ. And if we’re not, we need to ask ourselves why.

Until next,

A Love Stronger

I read something the other day that really, I mean really, made me think. It was about our own willingness to sacrifice everything we have in order to follow what is right, to be willing to walk away from the people who matter to us the most because we have compromised truth somehow.

So many of us spend our time procrastinating. Procrastinating to do homework, to go back to school, to start working out.

To turn back to God.

But procrastinating to turn away from sin is nothing to mess around with.

Hebrews 10:26 -“Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins.”

Sounds scary, but I am using this text to point out that there is no excuse for sin- His sacrifice doesn’t mean we can do whatever we want and not face any consequences.

Shouldn’t we know better?

Hebrews 10: 36-39 – Endure, do the will of God and receive His promises. Live in faith and press forward.

Proverbs 5:22-23- Our sins trap us and lead us astray, and ultimately to death.

As Christians, we have to ask ourselves: “Have I turned away from my old, sinful life? What am I doing to show God I love Him? What am I doing to show the world what it really means to be a Christian?”

 

We can’t just stop progressing. We can never stop looking up. We have to abide in Christ and let Him transform us from the inside out. It’s a constant process.

The word of God reveals His character. He Himself has declared His infinite love and pity. When Moses prayed, “Show me Thy glory,” the Lord answered, “I will make all My goodness pass before thee.” Exodus 33:18, 19. This is His glory. The Lord passed before Moses, and proclaimed, “The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.” Exodus 34:6, 7. He is “slow to anger, and of great kindness,” “because He delighteth in mercy.” Jonah 4:2; Micah 7:18.

God has bound our hearts to Him by unnumbered tokens in heaven and in earth. Through the things of nature, and the deepest and tenderest earthly ties that human hearts can know, He has sought to reveal Himself to us. Yet these but imperfectly represent His love. Though all these evidences have been given, the enemy of good blinded the minds of men, so that they looked upon God with fear; they thought of Him as severe and unforgiving. Satan led men to conceive of God as a being whose chief attribute is stern justice,–one who is a severe judge, a harsh, exacting creditor. He pictured the Creator as a being who is watching with jealous eye to discern the errors and mistakes of men, that He may visit judgments upon them. It was to remove this dark shadow, by revealing to the world the infinite love of God, that Jesus came to live among men.” -Steps to Christ, p. 9

 

 

God has a love for us we can only begin to understand-Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. (John 15:13). We have a friend in Christ. He lay down His life for us. And in turn, as we grow to love Christ because of His love for us, nothing, not even death, will keep us from standing for Him, to choose what is right.

A love stronger than death.

Do we have that love? If not, why don’t we?

How are we showing our love to our Creator?

Until next,