Archive | March 2012

A Matter of Perspective

I just want to take a minute today to thank God and praise Him for the change in heart He’s given me recently. I had a tough time adjusting to life in NYC; I missed and still miss my friends, and haven’t really found my niche here yet. Still, God has been telling me to be patient, and in the meantime He’s been slowly but surely working in my heart.

First of all, I found the endless to-do lists a little bit overwhelming when I first got here. God has been showing me that these ‘chores’ are not simply tasks. In fact, if I use that time to pray over everyone who might be touched by what I’m doing (mostly my roommate, but anyone who comes to the hosue really), the chores become blessings – not just by the task itself but because I’m covering the people in my prayer. I haven’t been doing this as consistently as I think God would like me to, but I’ve been working on it; I love the idea of constant prayer as simply a matter of routine.

Second, God’s been telling me to trust Him when it comes to employment, and not jump into something out of necessity that will take me out of His intended path for me. As interest from my student loans has increased and my bank account has dwindled, it’s been harder and harder to hold onto this promise. BUT, right when I was starting to get really desperate, God worked it out so I found some temporary employment – exactly what I needed to tide over my bank account while I continue to look for what He wants me to do.

Jesus, I thank you that every detail is in your hands, and that you know exactly how to speak to our hearts so that even the burdens you call us to bear, the things that would normally worry us, are lightened and taken care of by You. Thank You for giving me Your full attention, and never forsaking a single aspect of my life. I love You, Jesus.

~Rebekah A

Wanting It More

You know how sometimes things come up that you love to hate? Maybe we had a bad day and are talking about it, and get into ‘poor me’ mode. After awhile, we start to thrive on how bad we have it. Nothing can cheer us up, and often we don’t even WANT to be cheered up because we’re thriving on the attention and sympathy. On some level, we’d rather have a problem to complain about than a solution. Or maybe it has to do with people – in choosing who to make plans with or who to date, there are often multiple options. God can easily guide our steps here, but how often do we fail to ask Him, preferring to agonize about it and analyze it ourselves. We prefer the attention and the fantasy to the reality that these problems have solutions and you can get wisdom on them in seconds if you just ask God. It can be surprising how many areas we have like this, and how quickly we can slip into playing the martyr rather than ask God for guidance in that moment.

However, God brings unconditional love, and He brings peace. There’s no drama in His presence. We bring the drama we get from the world, we give it to Him and He takes care of it. He empties it from us, and fills the void with Himself. We have an easy time submitting bad things. But for some reason, we harbor these ‘martyr’ situations. We harbor the dilemmas that bring us extra attention. It doesnt even always cross our minds to submit those things. But to he used fully by Him, we have to give it ALL. We can’t be concerned about the attention our daily problems give us, or the credit we get when everybody knows how difficult it was to accomplish something. Our identity is in God, and we don’t have to fight for His attention. He sees everything anyway.

We have talked about fasting, and how when fasting gets tough we ask ourselves do we want this food, or do we want God more? We choose God, Nd fasting becomes bearable. We want Him more than anything else, and in that mindset, we will do anything to seek Him.

It is time to get into that mindset with our hearts. It’s time to ask ourselves, “Do I want God and God’s plan, do I want to thrive on my savior, or do I want to thrive on this problem that doesn’t even need to be here?” God vs problem…it’s a no-brainer. We’d choose God every time.

I’ve heard it said that living with Jesus is expensive, and that love will cost you. I think that’s a heart issue and we should count the cost here – it’s way more expensive to thrive on drama than on peace. It’s more expensive to hold on to our flesh than to let our Savior show us how to live. So spend time with Him today, and ask Him to show you your ‘martyr’ areas – things that are bogging you down when they don’t really need to be, or things that you haven’t given God full control over yet. Go through the problems and questions in your life and ask yourself “Do I want this dilemma or do I want God’s plan?” If you reach the no-brainer answer, as I did, it’s time to finally say “God, take this from me and guide my steps”. He will, and you will wonder what you were ever holding on so tightly for.

And as always, if you want extra prayer or support, or just to chat, i want to hear from you! So write to me at being.rebekah.a@gmail.com. God bless!

~Rebekah A

Show Them Me

In a chat with one of the guys, I recounted to him when I once was praying, talking to God about how I might reach my best friends in college. I said to Jesus, “I know, I’ll tell them about the good choir our the awesome youth group!” Jesus quietly said to my heart:

Show them ME.

I learned in that moment the power that one of my favorite preachers satis in a sermon I listened to years later: just a touch from the Master is enough. You can have the most beautiful building, perfectly pitched choir, and well dressed saints, but without HIM it means nothing.

I Corinthians 13 talks about how without love it is all pointless and since God is love, everything we do without Him is pointless.

Jesus,
Help me to always remember to keep you first. Be my all in all. There is none like You. Let me keep in mind that so long as I am Your mirror, that is enough. You are more than enough. I love You Jesus with all my heart.
Rebekah M.

(posted from my phone)

“A Faith That Breathes”

Yes, I am writing my very first blog book review! A Faith That Breathes, by Michael and Tiffany Ross, is a book that was lent to me by a friend, when I was having a rough time this fall. It’s part devotional, part journal, and for me it was perfect. It’s written by women (though compiled by a woman and her husband), for women, and every day is a new topic to think about. I read it with a journal on hand, and definitely recommend you do the same. Each day has a written entry, followed by a related interview from well-known Christian women. It’s instant solidarity and instant encouragement, and for me, I couldn’t have received it at a better time.

Before I moved to NYC, I was surrounded by Christian friends. Any time I wanted to chat or pray or worship, I had someone to do that with. It was great. I had friends I’d meet with for dinner, and hours later we’d still be talking about how God is moving. Rebekah M has posted about the power of sisterhood; for me, it’s been a vital part of my spiritual growth. I wouldn’t be the same Christian without it.

Since moving to NYC, I’ve been more on my own. I can pray with my friends over the phone or skype, but it’s just not the same. I miss my home, I miss my friends, I miss these talks, I miss these prayers….basically I just miss my girl time. I depended on it before, and while I am growing here, I really feel the loss of those connections I had.

Enter A Faith That Breathes. This book, by  has all the girl time you could ever want, in paperback form – let’s face it, our friends aren’t portable. But these ladies are, and they are a close second! Every entry is thought-provoking; they write about their journeys to certain realizations, periods of growth, things God’s revealed to them. Each one has Bible verses that relate to it, and there is a section in each that gives a broader view of what this particular topic looks like when it’s walked out. There’s even a chance to reflect on what they wrote about and how it relates specifically to you. I started reading it when I was feeling some distance from God, and could feel myself reading the Bible less, praying for shorter amounts of time. That’s a slippery slope, to say the least. This book singlehandedly gave me the jumpstart I needed to get grounded in God again, and get my focus back. It was like having an instant group of friends who knew me and related to me – without ever meeting me.

So if you need to kickstart your faith or if you’ve been in a spiritual rut, definitely check out this book. Hopefully it will speak to your heart as strongly as it has been to mine! And if you just need some girl time, don’t worry – they’ve got you covered there too.

And for you men…sorry. Find your own book.

God bless!

~Rebekah A

His Word

I just found out my grandma passed away… I can’t begin to figure out what’s going on in my mind, but I know my God is faithful and true and just and good. Tonight at service they talked about how God’s Word is powerful. We can stand on His Word in times of trouble. We can gain strength from His Word.

I know God will see us all through this time because His Word tells me so. His Word tells me He is good and His mercy endures forever (Psalms 136:1). His Word says He loves me (John 3:16) and will never forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:8). His Word says He is my refuge and strength (Psalms 46:1).

Jesus,

I pray anyone who is experiencing loss right now feels Your arms of love wrapping around them.  I pray that anyone else who is in a time of grief knows that You hurt with us and love us and carry us through.  I know there is no one else like You in this world who could carry me through this like like You can for you saw me through the loss of what had been presented to me as a sure future.  I praised You then and I praise You now. 

I love You Jesus with all my heart
Rebekah M.

When God Doesn’t Answer

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts; neither are your ways my ways, declared the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” ~ Isaiah 55:8-9

In the wake of Rebekah M’s great post about bringing new life to this world, I have some sadder news to report. Earlier this week, a friend of mine sent out a prayer request – his brother’s 17-yr-old girlfriend was pregnant. To make matters worse, her father was going to press charges against him for statutory rape. The only way he wouldn’t press charges was if she got an abortion. To make matters worse still, this was not the first time he faced this predicament. I don’t have all the details and I’m not sure if he was threatened with criminal charges in the past, but I do think he had an ex-girlfriend who got an abortion.

Clearly, this situation needed all kinds of prayer. In a word, I think Scooby Doo said it best when he said, “ruh-roh” (yes I work with kids). So, I prayed all day. I prayed hard. I prayed and I asked everybody else I knew to pray with me. We prayed for the brother, the girlfriend, her father, the unborn child. We prayed for hearts to be softened, repentence to occur, mercy to be given, the baby to just be saved no matter what it took, and so on. We prayed for revelations of God’s true and pure love, real love, that they would stop confusing it with this false version that got them into so much trouble. We prayed for all kinds of other things too. The couple wanted to keep the baby, and if they didn’t keep it, my friend (the one requesting the prayer) was offering to adopt. It was a win-win – she was 17 and pregnant by mistake, they weren’t ready to raise a child, while he already has several children, he and his wife were talking about making their family bigger anyway, the baby would stay with someone biologically related – no-brainer. So we prayed into that as well, and if it wasn’t God’s will, then for Him to send an adoptive home their way.

After a day of prayer and my heart just breaking for this unborn baby and for the position this 17-yr-old girl was in, I started to feel strongly that the key to this was the couple. That they needed to be the ones to pray. They needed to repent and submit and pray together, or this wouldn’t work. So I went on the computer to send that message to my friend, and I got word that it was done. The abortion had happened. This got me thinking, what went wrong? If I had acted sooner at all, could I have saved this baby?

I had my guesses, but I looked into it a little more to be sure. I was expecting, and I was right, to read a lot about how God won’t answer prayers that don’t correspond with His will, or if we don’t truly believe in His ability. Yes, God tells us He will answer our prayers if we believe that He can (“If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer” ~ Matthew 21:22). I have seen Him transform a woman’s heart regarding abortion before; I have no doubt that this problem is not too big for Him. So, I believed Him for it – everyone who prayed did. And clearly, abortion is not in God’s will ever. Repentance, love, and wisdom are always in His will, so that wasn’t the issue either.

Then I read about if we have unconfessed sin, it can come between us and God. This is a tricky one, but I’m aware of it. Before I get into really intense prayer sessions, I do typically spend some time with God, so that if there is something I’m harboring that’s keeping me from God, I can get rid of it and get on with my prayer. I did that this time too. Unless God was holding back information from me, that wasn’t the issue. If you’re not in the habit of doing that, start. I highly recommend it.

However, that doesn’t mean that the 17-yr-old and my friend’s brother didn’t have unconfessed sin in their hearts. And wouldn’t you know, the very next thing I read was a paragraph about how it had to be the right people praying. That confirmed my hunch. We can pray for people, and often our prayers do get answered. However, we can’t pray their prayers for them. We can’t submit their problems to God on their behalf, so that God can take them over and fix the situations. There comes a point when they need to do that for themselves, and this abortion was a painful reminder of that.

God gave us all free will, and our free will is the one limitation God placed on Himself. He cannot move in us against our will. When I prayed for this couple and this father, when we all prayed for them, all He could do was knock on the doors to their hearts. If they’d opened the door the slightest bit, given Him the slightest crack to move through, He could have moved mightily. They didn’t. They probably wanted to, but were probably consumed with the problems at hand – bearing down on all of the horrible what-ifs and contemplating what they could do about it – rather than giving those problems to God to see what He could do about it. It’s a natural instinct, I suppose. When we feel our world slipping away, we don’t want to throw our hands up and let it go, especially if we don’t fully know God – we hold on even tighter.

I guess this is a reminder to check in with yourself and check in with God when these situations come up, to see if you’re meant to be used in a counseling role. In my case, I didn’t actually know the couple, so all I could do is pray hard and pass on messages to the people I did know, as God dictated. I could have acted faster, but I asked God about it, and even repented it. He said it wasn’t my fault, but it’s something to definitely keep in mind for the future.

That said, there is still a lot to be prayed for. A baby, a wanted baby, has been aborted. My friend’s brother and his girlfriend are grieving, upset, questioning God, and the enemy has them exactly where he wants them to say “look, God didn’t answer you, what’s the point of believing?” There is guilt being felt by all parties, there is anger, there is regret….there is a whole gamut of things. So, even though our previous prayers didn’t work, I humbly ask that you keep these three people in prayer, and pray that their hearts would soften and that they would see a revelation of who God really is – so they’d know who they’ve been blocking out and would finally let Him in. Pray that they would find love, peace, and mercy in His pure beautiful light, and that they would finally know what those things really are. Pray as God leads you. In advance, I thank you for joining me here. If three people come to truly know the Lord because of this, that baby will not have died in vain.

Jesus, this is a storm. This is tragic, and it’s a baby I prayed so hard to save. I really believed You would, since I saw You do it before. I lost sight of HOW you answer prayers, and I’m sorry for that. I trust You God, that Your ways are so much greater than our ways, and I know that You can use this situation, however tragic, to reveal Yourself and ultimately work for the good of all three of these people. I submit my disappointment in You God, and I repent it. Instead, now I rejoice, because I know that this ISN’T beyond You God, and You DO have it all in Your hands. I trust You to move God, I trust You to take care of these three people, and I thank You for everything You’re going to do. Jesus, I love You with all of my heart.

Thank you all, and God bless!

~Rebekah A

A New Life

FYI: I’m posting from my phone so forgive the lack of formatting and quotes and links

I’m currently spending the next 4 weeks helping deliver babies etc and today was amazing! It truly is a miracle of God when a healthy baby is born!

When we give our lives to Christ, He gives us a new life- John 3 speaks of the new birth in the discussion between Jesus and Nicodemus. This new birth takes a birth of water  and the spirit. Seeing a live birth today, it gives a new meaning to that.

Jesus,
Thank You for the new birth we can  have in You. I love that w say angels rejoice when a sinner  returns to You for everyone rejoices at a birth here on earth. Thank You for the new life You have given me. Where once I thought my life was in shambles, I now know it’s only beginning :) Thank You for this new life! I love You Jesus with all my heart.

Rebekah M.

True Belief

“Through Him, everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.” ~Acts 13:39

The other day, I saw a facebook friend post a bumper sticker that read “Religion is good. But not all “Christians” are saved.” He posted this so that he could protest it (vehemently), saying “I don’t have a ‘relationship’ with Jesus. I didn’t ‘give’ my life to Christ. I didn’t turn away from a life of sin or get circumcised to be saved. I BELIEVED on the LORD Jesus Christ and was passed from death unto life because HE GAVE. I can NEVER lose my salvation.”

I know many Christians who take both of these views, and many with views in between. I so often hear “I’m going to Heaven and that person isn’t” or I’ve even heard “Jesus take me home; I can’t handle the corruption that’s here.”

First of all, if you want my opinion on the bumper sticker, I’d say that Jesus is good, and religion is an imperfect, human interpretation of Him.

Now to address my friend’s comment. Yes, Jesus said that the way to the Father was through Him. We need to believe in Him to be saved. In theory, just saying “I believe that Jesus Christ existed and is my savior” is enough to get you saved. Some people don’t go any further than that, and still make it to heaven. Simple, right?

However, there’s a lot more to this belief thing than just that. For instance, if you believe that Jesus Christ is your Savior, if you believe that most basic part of Him, don’t you have to believe all of Him? What about the part of Him that said He was the living bread that came down from heaven? If He is the living bread, don’t we need to look to Him daily for nourishment? How can we do that without a relationship with Him? What about the part of Him that refused to condemn an adulterous woman but merely told her not to do it again; what about the part of Him that said after He was risen from the dead He would send an Advocate, a Counselor, to guide us and advise us? Is this Advocate not the Holy Spirit that lives inside of us? Is it possible to truly say “I don’t have a ‘relationship’ with Jesus, but I believe in Him?” That’s like cutting out your internal organs and saying you have a fully functional and healthy body.

As we progress through our walks with Christ, He reveals more and more of Himself to us, and shapes our hearts more and more like His own. That’s the epitome of a progressing relationship, and to stay in His will, there are changes we need to make along the way.

And let’s not forget Jesus’ distinction of true and false disciples. “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day ‘Lord did we not prophesy in Your name and in Your name drive out demons and in Your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (Matthew 7:21-23).

Yes, belief is all that it takes to get into Heaven. HOWEVER, belief is a continuous process, to be renewed and refined. If you had asked me at age 5 “do you believe in Jesus?”, my answer would have been an undoubted ‘yes!’. At age 20, my answer was “I believe in something, some power that means we aren’t here by mistake, but I’m not sure that it’s God per se”. Now at 27, my answer is “of course!”. If I had died as a child, I would’ve gotten into heaven. But it wasn’t until my twenties that God told me what salvation and Christianity truly meant. Does that mean I didn’t really believe in Jesus as a child? Of course not; I believed. It’s just that later, when God brought me back to Him, He revealed more of Himself to me, and refined that belief and grew it into something unshakable (given my stint as an agnostic, my childhood faith was clearly shakable).

When we ignore the commands of God, or when we spend time in our Babylons, or even fail to love others the way He wants, we’re essentially saying that our daily worldly desires are more important than His. We’re saying that God is not as important as us. He tells us how important He is to us; He’s our daily bread! We need Him! To act any other way is to essentially say “God, we don’t believe You that You’re most important, so I’m going to cut my prayer time short to go on facebook.”  If we believed that God is who He says He is, every moment of every day, we would act like it; and our walks with God would look much different.  That’s why when people spend their lives proclaiming Jesus as Lord like we’re told to, but then deny His name through a life of jealousy and judgement, their salvation may be in jeopardy. Maybe not. Only God knows where everybody is on their individual walks with Him; He knows who accepted Him with their last breath and didn’t have time to change their ways, and He knows who had plenty of chances to repent the darkness in their heart and should have known better.

But if your belief in Jesus is exactly the same as it always was, your walk looks the same and you haven’t grown in your belief, that’s a problem. God is not stagnant. Chances are, He’s tried to reveal more to you and you missed it. So spend some time with Him; ask Him to reveal the areas of unbelief that you harbor in your heart. And give them up to Him, so that He can have mercy on them and guide you from here on out. And if He IS moving a lot in your life, I want to hear about it! So write to me at being.rebekah.a@gmail.com.

God bless!

~Rebekah A

My Refuge

Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah. ~ Psalm 62:8

While going through one of my reading plans on youversion.com, an online bible, I read the above verse and knew that at some point, God wanted me to post about this.  I had plans to write about this on Leap Day, but God wrote a different post instead.  However, on Feb 25th I wrote about how we make choices in response to the events in our lives and one of those choices is trust and on Feb 27th I poured my heart out. I had not read the above verse until after I wrote those posts. I read Psalms 62:8 and knew God would call me to finish up with this thought- through it all, God has been my refuge.

In 2007-2009, I was at a church in which the pastor and his wife were against our family.  It was to the point that saints that ended up leaving that church called my parents up to apologize for the role they played- some were asked to join in secret prayer meetings against our family, some were asked to report on us as “spies”, and others revealed part of why they left was because they refused to do those things.  I spent MONTHS questioning God, fearing really joining another church, and just plain scared of allowing church people to ever again have the power to hurt me as much as that church did. It took SO LONG for me to finally thank God that He saw me through that time and taught me many lessons through it.

2009 also was the year my cousin committed suicide.  We had never been close but I SO DEEPLY felt as if I had somehow failed him. I knew God- I knew the hope of this world and yet my own cousin decided that this world was so dark and bleak that he ended his own life by jumping off a building.  It took almost two years for me to realize that there was nothing I could have done because when he was visiting us, we brought him to church, we tried to witness and yet he rejected God. He outright rejected God (based upon things he said).

In 2010 a person at my school tried to get me kicked out. I tried to comfort a fellow student on an exam exercise that they clearly had already completed via responding to a facebook post about it. For my efforts I was called into the office and accused of helping students cheat who were supposed to go the next day. Please note: I was in the class above, I did not know their class was split over two days (ours had all been in one day), and I was responding to a reference to MY year’s (the previous year’s) exercise and not specifically theirs. Little did I know the course director didn’t change the exams from year to year and in trying to comfort that friend, the course director tried to get me kicked out.  I went to the bathroom sobbing to the point I almost passed out. This was my lifelong dream and this person was trying to kill it because I was trying to assure someone that we all feel badly about how we did but the vast majority pass. A few hours later I looked at my roommate at the time and told her “I trust God. Remind me, when I start doubting, ‘[Rebekah M.] you said you were going to trust God!’ ”  Within 2 hrs I received news that I would not be kicked out of the school.

The end of 2011 brought about the end of a relationship where the guy had been talking to me about how he had already picked the ring out, where I should look for jobs, and even the fact that we would have twin boys (since twins ran in his family and we realized that both of us had separately dreamed of having twins) and a little princess. He did it by calling for a break, we then had two subsequent conversations, a two week span of silence, then (without ANY communication from him) changing his status on facebook to single. As things fell apart I chose to worship Him, I turned to Him in prayer and fasting, and I believed that He had all things in His hands.  In the end, I emerged closer to Him than I had ever been and stronger than before.

In ALL of those times and others not mentioned, God showed Himself to be a refuge.  He was my strong tower when things tried to come against me. He was the strength of my life and my hope.

Jesus, 

Let this post encourage these readers to just trust You with their lives and find in You the refuge they are seeking when they pour it all out to You.  Let them find that when they are emptied of themselves, You step in and fortify them.  Lord, You have been so true and real to me in my times of trouble.  You have shown me that when I dance before You in my prayer closet even in my time of pain, You come. You come as surely as the sun will rise You’ll come. We are safe in You.  I love You Jesus with all my heart. 

Rebekah M. 

Set the World on Fire

Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. ~ Matthew 5:15

All day the song by Britt Nicole with the above title (you can listen at the end of this post) has been on my mind.  With everything swirling around me- I’m starting my monthly moves tomorrow until mid-2013 when I graduate, my parents are flying out of the country because my grandmother is very ill, I have multiple guys in my life that I’m interested in very much but don’t know which one I want more, I’m trying to get paperwork done for next year, trying to figure out where I want to work once I graduate, and more- I’m trying to keep myself grounded in Christ.  It seems the things in this world can make it SO hard to live for Him at times though. I don’t want in all this spinning to lose sight of Him. Regardless of everything, I know He is my past, present, and future.

I appreciate the guys right now so much because they have been helping to urge me towards Christ.  We exchange sermons (one of them is even going through a sermon series with me), talk of Jesus, and they even help relieve some of my stress with a good laugh here and there :)  However, even with them doing this I don’t want to lose focus on spending time with HIM. That was a downfall with my ex and I- I started letting him consume my every thought to the point where I lost sight of Him- Jesus.

The pressures in this world seem to be trying to buckle me and crumble me to pieces. Even if she barely played a role in my life, my grandma is still my grandma and I don’t know how well I can handle that loss in my life right now.  I just had a huge life change a few months ago with my ex dumping me after all his promises and talks of the future. To go through my parents hurting because of the loss of my grandma isn’t something that I feel I can do right now- and yet God whispers to me that He is sufficient.  Should she die- He will hold us all up.  Should she live- He will dance and rejoice with us.  Jesus is enough.

So I come to the point of it all…

Jesus, 

Let me burn SO brightly in this world for you that the cares and troubles of my life burn away.  Let my light shine so brightly for you that I start lighting those around me on fire for you.  I want to set this world on fire for You.  I want Your love and mercy and grace to burn so strongly in me that an uncontrollable fire catches on those around me and they can no longer contain You in their lives.  Spill forth in me.  Even with everything else swirling around me in my life- let me just burn all the brighter for You as the cares of this world fuel my fire for You.  I love You Jesus with all my heart. 

Rebekah M.