Song of the Day: God of Second Chances

Below is a video of Carlos Whittaker who was filming a music video for his song “God of Second Chances.” While singing and playing his guitar a homeless man named Danny came up, kneeled down, and began to cry.  He eventually joined in and what followed was a beautiful moment in time. I saw this video on my friend’s facebook page and couldn’t help but be touched. So often we over look the homeless or widowed but this man is a reminder that beauty can be found even when we least expect it— and yet God sees us all.

 

 

Rebekah M.

Hope for Healing

Dear Readers,

I would like to ask you all to bind together with me in prayer. My step-father has just been diagnosed with cancer. Naturally, we are all a little scared. If you could take a moment to send up a prayer for him I would really appreciate it. Pray that he has peace, that he and his doctors have wisdom in treating the cancer, and that he will be healed. Most of all, please pray for his salvation. I believe that the Lord is going to use this diagnosis to draw him and my mother into His family. Our God is able! Thank you.

In His Love,
Rebekah L.

Well played, Jesus.

Sometimes Jesus does really cool things. Ok, all the time. But sometimes there’s a moment, or a series of them, where He is especially awesome. His math, His timing, the way He just works things out….it’s mindblowing. And I love it.

It’s one such story, a series of moments when Love stirred the hearts of 3 different people in 3 vastly different places, that I want to share with you all. I have a friend doing a missions trip in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is a country of unrest. In fact many parts  are active war zones, UN Redzones – as in, United Nations staff are advised not to go into those areas under any circumstances. All in all it’s a desperate, pain-filled place. Its violence is so pronounced that many of the children in the redzone often suffer from epileptic seizures due to prolonged exposure to trauma. Also, it’s beautiful. Its people are beautiful with beautiful hearts.

For her, it’s been a journey of loving deeper, of opening herself up more, of going lower and inviting Heaven to come and interrupt life in this place. There has been laughter. Tears. Healing. Soldiers coming to Jesus. Prostitutes and orphans coming to Jesus. Strongholds being torn down. Love has reigned, and hearts and spirits have been changed forever.

In the midst of this trip, my friend’s constant refrain has been that love is action. It looks like something. We love God by loving the one in front of us, the one overlooked and forgotten and abandoned by the world – for in that one, Jesus Himself resides.

Her words and experiences inspired me, here in NYC, to write the blog post, His True Face. It got a massive response – peoples’ spirits must have stirred as much as mine did at this message from Jesus.

The most ESPECIALLY COOLEST THING EVER is that the blog post, or more accurately the Bible verses I posted to preface it, then inspired one of our readers and fellow bloggers (the awesome blessedwiththunderthighs.com, and some minor internet stalking tells me she is based in California). She was inspired to write a song, which she posted in a comment. She even got to play it at a worship service at her church.

I, in turn, was inspired to turn around and share the song back with my lovely friend in the Congo. I am super excited to say that she loved the song and played it for her missions team, still doing their labor of Love in the Congo. Love inspired love that week, and Jesus used all three of us to spread His message around the world.

None of us knew we were being used that way. It wasn’t on purpose. It wasn’t part of any plan we had. It was part of a plan that Jesus had, one that He executed perfectly and one that will consequently give me Spirit-filled warm fuzzies for probably the rest of my life.

I told you He was cool, did I not??

God bless!

~Rebekah A

Sermon Quote- We are Not Defeated!

At church tonight my pastor was on, as I like to put it, ffiiiiyyyyaaaa!!! haa haa :) I’m grateful for a good pastor and his awesome family. Having been around to so many different churches and one who seeks out extra sermons, I have definitely enjoyed many and… not so much enjoyed others LOL Tonight however, my pastor preached on the idea that We Cannot be Defeated! The concept is powerful-

“There is no such thing as a defeated Christian. We are not defeated by the world- but we can surrender to the world.”

Let that sink in. Let the truth of that statement wash over you- you are more than a conqueror in Christ which means the ONLY way you can be “defeated” is if you give up! So don’t! :)

Don’t let the devil tell you that you can’t make it, that you’re not good enough, not strong enough, not pure enough, that your past means you aren’t qualified enough- JESUS PAID FOR IT ALL!

He is your strength.

He is your purity

He is your goodness

He make you qualified!

So just go forth, live this life, and know that in Him, you will NEVER be defeated!

One of my other favorite lines:

Stop thinking I should give up and start thinking I should get up.

 

Blessed in Him in so many ways,

Rebekah M.

For Arthur

When I was a new Christian I had a co-worker who was the bane of my existence. He was rude, cruel, and crotchety. He bullied other employees mercilessly. After witnessing his abusive behavior for months I had learned to avoid him. One day I watched him hurl insults as he suddenly cut the power on a piece of heavy equipment another co-worker was using. This caused the huge machine to stop short so that the man using it fell forward into it, twisting his body and resulting in what must have been a very painful fall.

I felt my righteous indignation rise up. I lost my Christian cool. In defense of the injured employee I lashed out uncharacteristically and swore at the tyrant, calling him a name that I’m sure I wasn’t alone in thinking. I will never forget the look of shock on his face. Had another person said it, he probably would have just responded with an equally abusive retort, but coming from me, he was literally stopped in his tracks. He never expected the timid, quiet, little Christian girl to say something so insolent.

I instantly regretted it, but I could not take back my words. I was embarrassed and ashamed that I had not acted as a Christian should. For days after that, I became his target. Where previously he would hand me his paperwork at the end of the day, he started coming in and literally throwing the stack of paper on my desk with such force that it would scatter across the desk and onto the floor. He said, “You called me it, so I guess that’s what I’ll be.” He took every opportunity to belittle me in front of others and to point out my hypocrisy. I felt awful. I thought I had ruined my Christian witness with this man and with all my other co-workers. In a moment of weakness I had destroyed my opportunity to show them Christ.

I confided to a friend what was going on. She agreed with me that his behavior was out of control and that management should have stepped in to curb his antics long before that, but she also didn’t let me off the hook. She told me to stop feeling guilty for the way I reacted. No, it wasn’t the right reaction, but the past was past. If you’ve repented, you need to move on. You won’t help the situation by wallowing in shame. Then she reminded me that it’s easy to love people who are nice to us; it’s very difficult to love people who are unkind. She told me he was the perfect opportunity to practice my Christian love. He was an opportunity to practice turning the other cheek. He was an opportunity to learn to be a better Christian. He was not an obstacle. He was an opportunity.

I took her words to heart. From that day forward I did everything I could to show him godly love. I refused to react to his negativity and hurtful behavior. I went out of my way to make his job easier. I made it a point to ask how his day was going. I inquired after his wife and kids, his hobbies, his frustrations. I prayed for him constantly. He began to soften up. Instead of eating alone at lunch, he started to join me and another co-worker. His anger subsided. He not only treated me better, but he treated everyone better. He started talking about his life; his hopes and disappointments. He showed an interest in my well-being and after a while he was not only accepting my efforts, but reciprocating them. In fact, I have yet to see someone, anyone, make such a complete turn-around in behavior that I witnessed in Arthur. I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but somewhere along the way, I genuinely came to think of him as my friend.

I began to share Christ with him. I continued to pray for him. I told him he needed the Lord. He said, “I know, but I’m going to wait until right before I die.” I said, “The trouble with that is that no one knows how long they have.”

What neither of us knew that day was that within a few short months, my friend Arthur, would be dead. He was 36.

Truly no one knows how long they have. In fact, the day I had this conversation with Arthur was the last day he ever worked. I remember asking him that day if he was feeling alright because he just didn’t look right. He confided in me that he hadn’t been feeling well lately. The following day he called in sick saying he had the flu. He was out all the next week too. Shortly after that he was diagnosed with stage four Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

I had many conversations over the following weeks with both him and his wife during this time. I was as much of a support to them as I could be. I kept praying. I believed God fully for his healing. But this time, healing didn’t come.

His wife told me how much she appreciated my friendship. She told me that Arthur hated his job before I befriended him. Having a friend changed his whole outlook, she said. She would call me on the phone and cry about how difficult it was to deal with the whole situation and my heart just broke for her.

Ultimately, I think my friend died without knowing the Lord, but I am not the judge. I cried and prayed for months feeling I had failed him. But in the end, I know that he heard the gospel. What he chose to do with it was up to him.

I look back on him with fondness. He taught me one of the most powerful lessons I have learned in Christianity. He taught me to love even when someone is unlovable. He taught me that an angry and volatile exterior is often a cover for a vulnerable person who just needs a little compassion. He showed me that sometimes gaining a friend only takes being a friend.

Happy Birthday, Arthur.

In His Love,
Rebekah L.

Riding the Tide

These last few weeks have been SO busy. I am on our inpatient currently which means long hours and having to work even while at home for a few hours… but I know God is faithful!  Between getting the actors ready to act and sing for the Easter skit, this new guy, and work I feel overwhelmed at times but this God has shown me the last few weeks:

1) I need to remember that I am a light EVERY where and to EVERYONE- coworkers, strangers, patients alike- I am either shining His light, or distorting it. Lord, may I truly reflect ONLY Your light!

2) His love and mercy extend beyond all I deserve- it is about direction. If you are headed towards Christ- His grace extends beyond all limits to you. If you are running away (or sometimes just slinking away, testing the boundaries), His grace cannot always cover the consequences of your actions (past or present)

3) In truly learning to leave “my future husband” in His hands for the first time in my life, there is freedom. I don’t know if this newest guy is “the one” . . . but I am certainly enjoying the learning process of what I do and do not like and making  a conscious effort to notice it all. I appreciate him more because of things that I liked and did not like from my past relationships. Is he perfect? No. ha ahaa! but he is certainly sweet and attentive- which I have learned I need. Moreover, I truly believe that his direction is towards Christ. The question of can he be my spiritual leader is still hanging in the air, but I will wait until we hang out for the first time since we switched out of “just friends” mode and see what happened… some days I’m glad he’s 10 hours away because I am just that busy, and some days I curse it haa haa

Jesus,

Help me ride this tide in my life and keep YOU first!

Rebekah M.

Changes

So…. since my last post the craziest thing happened- I started talking to  guy! One that I’ve known of for years now and had forgotten that I text with occasionally for months now. Shortly after I posted my last post, he started talking very passionately about church and God and I remember being struck by “and why did I friendzone you again?” and for the life of me all the excuses of the past held no ground.

The jury is still out on if this if truly of God to be… something more long term… or if this is just another learning lesson. In the mean time though, I know that I struggle with my usual struggle- finding my way of keeping God first despite the presence of a man in my life.  I don’t fully understand why or how, but when a guy shows me attention, I am easily given to giving that person as much time as they want and even thinking about them when not.  This guy… he works in IT so he tends to have lots of down time between when he’s asked to fix something … i.e. lots of time to pay much attention to me.  I rarely find myself just dreaming on and on about him like I have with other guys in the past… but I am not 100% sure if that is because I am growing or because I am just too busy between work, church (I am doing the music for my church’s Easter service/play), and the very few social things I can do.

Regardless… I still want to find the balance of keeping God first. I want to feel like He is FULLY in charge of my mind and heart.  I don’t think I’m there. I don’t think I’m doing this right… but I do know that my ultimate desire is to please God above man.

Lord,

Help me please You above all else even with changes in my life.  Help me keep you #1 even when there’s a guy in this world who is giving me attention… many times at all hours of the day.  The last guy I was practically beating the air for him to keep his word about contacting me and this guy is the opposite… I don’t want this to be rebound- I want this to be You or nothing.  Let YOUR Will be done in this.  Help me keep You first. Jesus, be my all as part of me wants to just allow myself to drown in this attention by a man on the Earth and forget the guilt I tend to feel when I give him more time of my day than I do You. Forgive me for those days and give me strength to do better.

Rebekah M.