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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Troubled Hearts

How to find peace when our hearts are at war

 

Howdy day everyone! Boy, it feels good to be back on the blog! It’s felt like an eternity, though really it’s only been a few weeks.

Anyway, today I want to talk about these two P’s I keep stumbling upon in the Bible (bear with me non-believers.)

Persecution and peace.

As Christ’s followers, His disciples, we are to expect persecution. Namely, being hated, ridiculed, even killed for our faith and for standing up for truth. But why is it that no one in Christian circles really talks about that? John 14, John 16, James, 1 Peter are just a few places where persecution is mentioned. Those living now are not exempt from that. We in America may not deal with being killed for our faith just yet, but one thing is for certain: if we are living the way a Christian is supposed to live, we will experience persecution in some form.

So what is Christian living?

And as people who believe in the second coming of Christ, why does it seem like we really don’t believe He’s coming soon? If we did, wouldn’t our lives be different? Wouldn’t we be concerned with witnessing, with getting rid of sin in our lives, of making changes we need to make, of finding out truth from error?

There are so many bonkers beliefs out there amongst Christians. That’s why there are so many churches. So how do we know what’s true?

“Give me the Bible, holy message shining, Thy light shall guide me in the narrow way.”

That’s how we discover truth. By studying the book we believe is inspired by God. That is the only way to find true peace. I’ve really been struggling with certain teachings that are out there, and it took so long for me to realize I need to study God’s word for myself and not just take what people say as truth or hold onto any preconceived notions.

Knowledge is power, right?

So even amidst persecution, there is hope! That hope is found throughout the Bible. John 14 is a beautiful chapter on hope and promise. So even though we are to expect persecution, Jesus tells us not to be afraid, to not let our hearts be troubled.

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27 NKJV

How easy is it for me to let my heart be troubled! I feel like I’m troubled all the time. And I’m especially troubled whenever I hear or read about persecution. I get scared, discouraged, and even angry.

With all that trouble in my heart and countenance, what kind of example am I setting for others, for you?

How do I find peace amidst all the confusion and internal struggles?

Here’s something I found especially meaningful from a book called In Heavenly Places.

The Saviour’s life on this earth, though lived in the midst of conflict, was a life of peace…. No storm of satanic wrath could disturb the calm of that perfect communion with God. And He says to us, “My peace I give unto you.”

He left [the disciples] the peace which had been His during His life on the earth, which had been with Him amid poverty, buffeting, and persecution…Those who take Christ at His word and surrender their souls to His keeping, their lives to His ordering, will find peace and quietude. Nothing of the world can make them sad when Jesus makes them glad by His presence. In perfect acquiescence there is perfect rest. The Lord says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (Isaiah 26:3).

It is the love of self that destroys our peace. While self is alive we stand ready continually to guard it from mortification and insult; but when self is dead, and our life hid with Christ in God, we shall not take neglects or slights to heart….

When we receive Christ into the soul as an abiding guest, the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, will keep our hearts and minds. There is no other ground of peace than this. The grace of Christ, received into the heart, subdues enmity; it allays strife and fills the soul with love. He who is at peace with God and his fellow men cannot be made miserable…. The heart that is in harmony with God is a partaker of the peace of heaven and will diffuse its blessed influence all around. In Heavenly Places, 249 

There are so many things unanswered, so much confusion to sift through. There are also so many truths to discover in God’s Word, truths that are waiting to be discovered if we only took the time to study and remove any preconceived ideas and misguided traditions of men. But as we delve into discovering those truths, we can rest assured that peace is given to us.

 

Seven Days of Blessings: Days 5, 6, and 7

Day 5: Employment

All I can say about this one is thank God I am not sitting at a desk in an office somewhere right now. Kuddos and mad props to all you out there who are doing that, but that kind of job is just not for me. And at this point in my life I have come to accept that THAT IS OKAY. I may be but a nanny, but a nanny I’ll be if that’s what God wants for me. And I love it. It gives me a job, a purpose, a motive, a drive. I gain knowledge and experience and above all, happiness.

Day 6: Generosity

I looked around at all our household items in our place and realized nearly everything was given to us either as a gift or just by fine generosity. I can’t believe how blessed we are. My prayer and goal is for me to be this generous to others, no matter what.

Day 7: Like Minds

Having a group of people as friends and fellow believers is something money can’t buy. I love having conversations with people who just GET IT. No filtering, no explaining, just real and open conversations. It truly is a breath of fresh air.

Seven Days of Blessings: Day 4

Day 4: Encouragement

I listened to a podcast this afternoon that talked about that nasty old thing called rejection, and how to deal with said rejection. It was encouraging to hear that I’m not the only one dealing with these bitter feelings, not the only one bothered at always being that last choice for dodgeball. Okay I don’t play dodgeball, but you get the point.

One of the things the podcaster also mentioned was how God never leaves anyone out, how He is always there.

There are so many biblical texts with God’s promises of encouragement that all I have to do is look them up in a concordance. I’m grateful that those texts are there, that God really is there for me. But even more than just looking them up, I actually have to believe and apply them to my life.

What do these texts mean to me? How can they apply to x, y, z situations?

Something else the podcaster mentioned: Dealing with social rejection might lead to developing new friendships, and friendship is another blessing I want to talk about.

In the last few months, I have really connected with a few young women in ways I haven’t connected with any other females in a long while. I can be myself with them, I am comfortable with them, I am encouraged by them. I am open and honest and I genuinely love their company. I can be 100% me, and I love that.

God has truly blessed me with His promises and with these young women.

Seven Days of Blessings: Day 3

Day 3: Transformation

Today I am grateful for quite a number of things: The honey bee my little charge (the child I nanny) and I examined on our walk today, the fact I can use all of my limbs to exercise, the breakfast and dinner I ate, the health and safety of my husband.

But even deeper than that, I’m grateful for who I am and where I am in my life so far.

Specifically, where God has brought me. I know I have yet to share my full testimony, but it is only through God that I am where I am today.

If I lived my life the way I had been in my teen and early twenty years, I’d probably be in a deep mess right now.

It is only through and with God I am overcoming my struggles.

Struggles I’d give in to if it weren’t for His transforming power in my life.

All I can say is, thank you Lord, thank you.

Seven Days of Blessings

Hello friends!

Last year a friend of mine gave me a little journal in which I write the highlight of each day for the next three years. I absolutely love this journal, and can’t believe I’m already reading entries from last year. Appropriate timing, because two days ago I challenged my students to write down seven things God has blessed them with and write one on each day of this week. They are to share whatever blessing they wrote on that particular day with another person. I decided to take on that challenge as well, sharing with my blogging community.

With that being said, I’ll be posting every day this week. Today I will share two blessings: Sunday and Monday, since I didn’t post anything Sunday.

Sunday’s blessing: The rain

I don’t even need to say how glad I am for this. California has been plagued by drought and wildfires. And the thunder is just so awesome to hear, despite the fact that it was so loud it woke me up :p Nature is incredible!

And even as something as simple as the leaves falling around me and my mom as we walked together is something that highlights my day.

Monday’s blessing: Rain and my mother

Another day of rain. Again, I am awe struck by the sound of thunder.

My mom recently moved from Texas to California and has been staying with me and my husband. She has been so helpful with everything (literally, everything) I can’t even express all my love and gratitude. God has truly blessed me with wonderful parents and wonderful in-laws. I can only thank Him for that.