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Being Christian – Loving God, Loving People

phil-1-6-amplifiedI have a bit of a confession to make: I have no idea how to be a Christian. I mean, it seems simple enough; believe Jesus. But that’s really just the beginning. That’s what it takes to wear the label, but how we actually live out our Christianity from day to day isn’t so easy.

The Bible is full of wisdom and instruction on the subject and though I’ve committed to live by its principles I still find myself floundering at times. I wonder if I’ll ever get it right. And therein lies the problem. I’m entirely too self-focused. It’s not about me perfecting the rules and regulations, it’s about letting God transform me from the inside out. It’s really His work. I just have to be willing to lay my old man down and allow Him to create me anew.

When it comes down to it, being a Christian is really about loving God and loving people. It’s not about looking inward; it’s looking up to God and out to the people. We’re servants. We’re here to serve God and to honor God by serving others.

Jesus said unto him, Thou Love God Love Peopleshalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. –Matthew 22:37-39

When we really love God we are willing to decrease so that He can increase (John 3:30). We will strive to do what He asks of us (John 14:15). When we really love God we will love people (John 13:35). When we really love people, we will have a burden to reach them for the Lord! This is true Christianity.

Lord, help me to love you better. Help me to love your people better. Help me to believe you for every area of my Christian walk. Teach me how to follow after you with everything I have. Guide me on the path and show me how to be a true Christian. I struggle with how to best to represent you. I don’t know how to do the things I know I should do, but you are a merciful patient teacher, and I thank you for that. Thank you for your unending love.

In His Love,

Rebekah L.

Prayer Monday: PRAISE!!!!!

Jesus,

I’m SO excited to share this news with the readers: YOU GAVE ME MY FIRST CHOICE RESIDENCY PROGRAM!!!!! Thank You Jesus!!! Thank You that You truly do reward us when we just hold on to You!!! Thank You that You have given me favor!!! Thank You that You have ordered my steps!!! Thank You that there is none like You!!! Thank You Jesus… I cannot sing or yell your praises enough!!! Thank You Jesus!!! Thank You Thank You Thank You THANK YOU JESUS!!!!!!!! I AM SO HAPPY RIGHT NOW!!!!!!! all the hours of tears, fears, and doubt… You carried me when I couldn’t handle things any longer!!! You are SUCH a wonderful, loving, good God!!!!! Thank You doesn’t cover it all… my heart is overflowing with gratitude!!! I love You Jesus SO MUCH! Thank You for this life!!! Thank You for everything You have given me! Help me remember that if you can bring THIS to pass, you can take care of everything else! Help me drop the rest of my doubts and just trust You!

Oh Jesus, Thank You!!! I just can’t stop it!! I PRAISE YOU LORD! I WORSHIP YOU JESUS!!! THANK YOU!!!!!

With all of my grateful, adoring heart,

Rebekah M.

Song of the Day: Hear Us from Heaven

With so much going on this holiday season I can’t help but feel like I’m allowing myself to slip a little. Distractions get to me and I just don’t always seek Him as I should. This song feels like God’s beckoning to my soul.  Seek Him again so that He can open the blind eyes, unlock the deaf ears, and touch our generation.

Hear us from heaven Jesus.  Hear our cry of our souls. Heal us and our land.  Jesus, so many souls are hurting in this time when people should be celebrating family together they mourn their broken homes.  They mourn their broken lives.  Working in the ER I have witnessed first hand how much people’s pain can become more than just mental pain.  Jesus… heal us in this broken nation.  In this nation that has lost it’s commitment to marriage and family.  It’s commitment to You and Your ways.  Heal us Jesus! Heal us oh Lord who IS love itself.  Jesus, I thank You for those who have family and can rejoice with them.  I pray now that You will help open the eyes to the hurting that You are holding them! You are with them now! God… if there is someone reading this right now that You’ve been crying out to that You want to help mend their hurt and broken hearts… I pray they hear You now! You want them to feel Your love. You want them to know they can have a new life in You.  Bless oh Jesus.  Bless these dear readers with love and healing.

In His love,

Rebekah M.

Praise Report!!! Hope Where there Seemed No Hope!

Dear readers who have been following my journey- God may have provided a way of escape for me! Having just posted my post last night about Freedom and praising Him despite my fears and doubts and letting them fall away, I received an email this morning from one of my top choices today saying that they would still rank me despite my current situation!!! I have hope!!! Even better- it came AFTER my praise and worship!!! WOW! Wonderful God that He gave me the chance to show true trust and faith in Him! This journey isn’t over yet, but I have hope of truly becoming a doctor and working at a place that I enjoy!!! Wonderful, wonderful Savior, thank You for hope!!!

Rebekah M.

Nothing Less

BePerfect

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing, and perfect will.” ~Romans 12:2

“What shall we say then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” ~ Romans 6:1-2

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:20-21

redeemed_righteous_in_christ

We are only human. I hear that all the time. We try, we fail, we get up and fall again. We sin. We are only human. But lately I’ve been really feeling like this isn’t a valid excuse. Like we’re selling ourselves short somehow by chalking our mistakes up to our humanity. Like we’re selling God short somehow.

When it comes down to it, we were delivered from sin. We were delivered and are now asked to be perfect (Matthew 5:48). I’ve never thought much about this verse before. I always just figured ‘we are inherently imperfect’ and left it at that. But God brought it to my attention yesterday. Would He have asked it of us if it was completely unachievable? I get it; we’re sinners. But we were also delivered. With the death of Jesus came the deliverance of us. Not only that, but when Jesus ascended to heaven, in his stead came the Holy Spirit. Jesus called it the Counselor and the Advocate, to reside inside of us and guide our choices. Here’s where we get a little theological. Depending on your denomination, you might view the Holy Spirit, Jesus, and God as more separate entities comprising the Holy Trinity, or you may literally see them as interchangeable. Either way, everyone agrees to a point that all three parts of the trinity are God in various forms.

I personally view them as pretty much the same, but for purposes of this post, the difference is this: Jesus walked among us, and sacrificed for us. The Holy Spirit resides inside of us. Yet both are God. Which means that God is inside of us. All of the love and compassion and righteousness that was Jesus Christ on this earth, is now alive and well and here. It’s within us. We were given this precious gift, a gift we could  never possibly hope to earn. Why? So that we can sit here and say “well, I’m only human…..”. Somehow, I don’t think that was quite the idea. I think we were meant to embrace this gift, to overcome our humanity (so to speak) and be a true vessel of this perfect righteousness we were given. It’s the classic ‘less of me, more of You’ desire. We humans are imperfect, inherently sinners. The Holy Spirit is perfect and righteous. One is inside the other, and we have do control over which one prevails.

I have a friend who has recently returned back from a missions trip to Africa. Her life was changed forever as she saw how open people were there to spiritual experiences and how freely God was allowed to move. Her facebook status the other day was “Jesus, how you’ve wounded me for anything less than You”. It exactly summed up my feelings lately.

I want a heart that truly knows the bright light and beauty of Jesus. I know that He outshines anything I see here on earth. I want a heart that is so attuned to Him, that knows my savior so well, that even the most beautiful and tantalizing temptations of this earth appear to be nothing more than trash on the side of the street when compared to His glory. I want a heart that desires, truly desires, the things that God desires – not the things that the world offers. I want a heart that is so passionate for Christ, that is so led by the Holy Spirit within me, that I don’t give those earthly temptations a second glance, because they just don’t look appealing. I want a heart that will settle for nothing less than Jesus.

But I’m only human….imperfect…so can I get my heart to be in that place? The more I looked into it, the more I realized that yes I can. We all can. We don’t have to settle for the human condition. God gave us salvation for eternity, but he also gave us a way to overcome the flesh now. We can do it. Maybe it’s moment to moment. Maybe we won’t be always perfect from here on out for the rest of our lives – but in theory, we could be. In the sacrifice of Christ, in the presence of the Holy Spirit within us, God gave us the tools we need to live by His righteousness. All of it.

In fact, it’s asked of us. God specifically tells us to be perfect. To not continue sinning. To live righteously. I’ve even heard it preached that because God poured out His righteousness into us, and then gave us free will, that God is only as righteous as the human vessel. I think that statement is something of a misrepresentation, but I agree with the sentiment. We were made into vessels. We were given this gift. It’s up to us to allow God to move, both within us and around us.

And if we do it right, it shouldn’t be “I’m only human”. It shouldn’t be “this is so hard to ignore” or “I want ____ but I know I really shouldn’t.” Instead, it should be “I have Jesus; why would I want ____?” It should be a heart that literally settles for nothing less than the fullness of Christ Himself.

Jesus, help me to stop masking You with my humanity. Help me to stop getting in the way of the Holy Spirit and blaming it on the fact that I’m inherently a sinner. Give me a heart that is fully focused and centered on You and You alone, and is so in love with You that nothing on this earth even comes close to fulfilling my heart’s desire. Show me how to get to the place where you are my true desire. Show me how to shed myself on an even deeper level, so that all is left in me is You. Show me how to abide in You and walk with You in a way that makes me not even visible to the world anymore, but instead lets your light shine out of me. Help me to seek nothing less than You. I love you with everything I have and all that I am.

I know this might be a kind of controversial post. I haven’t completely worked through it all yet I don’t think. It’s just what I’ve been feeling lately, and what I feel like God is telling me. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it too, either in a comment or privately at being.rebekah.a@gmail.com.

God bless!

~Rebekah A

Unexpected Blessings: Concerts and Policemen

Concerts: 

Tonight, I got to go to the concert of a conductor friend of mine.  He has worked so hard to get to where he is today.  It was amazing to me that I was there for his very first performance back in high school and today, I was able to see him conduct a powerful group of singers in a prestigious music program. My how far we can go! I was unsure if I should take time away from church (my last service here in this city) to go, but then on my way I felt God tell me it was okay. Low and behold, the last song was about putting our hands to the plow, holding on, and moving forward. The vocals were phenomenal- it reminded me that God’s creation is so amazing and perfect. That JUST voices could create such a beautiful, powerful sound struck me with awe for His great ways. To top it off with lyrics that hold such meaning….  what a blessing where I was least expecting it!!!

Policemen:

All my life I struggled with self esteem issues until Ex #1 broke up with me, I went on an over 2 month fast, and God transformed me so completely from the inside out that I realized it was GOD esteem that mattered.  It doesn’t matter what I look like on the outside, and yet I realized that God made me beautiful.  I saw who GOD saw me as and so it mattered more that I was praying than grooming time did.  I cared more for thinking of what things pleased Him than I did about how I could do things to please guys in how they saw me.  When I looked in the mirror all I saw was that God created me beautiful. Lately, I’ve felt fat.  I’d look in the mirror and for some reason, even though I haven’t gone up a size in clothes yet, all I see is the fatness.

Tonight, as I was walking back to my room at the hospital (I’m living in the hospital this month), one of the policemen that guard the ER asked me out.  He was tall, good looking, and straight up stopped me to ask me out- my kind of guy! It was just so assuring because it felt like to me that Jesus was saying “see? You are still beautiful, even when you don’t see it. I will bring you a husband… in MY timing.” For along with the feelings of physical ugliness, I just starting wishing I had a husband.  My brain would ruminate over the fact that Ex #1 is married (while I am not), so many other people are married, and so many others are also having kids and sending them to pre-school etc. etc. etc.

I want a family that lives for Jesus.  I want a husband who will lead us all on this journey towards Christ with a passion for the God of creation.  I want a man who will be a father to our children, a prayer partner that connects with my spirit, and a friend who gets my soul.  I also realized I’m pretty superficial and hope he’s CUTE! haa! Is my definition of cute the same as everyone else’s? Not always. haa haa! And this policeman was certainly good looking in my book! So I think Jesus was just saying- wait some more on ME, my child. Wait.

Jesus, 

Thank You for these unexpected blessings.  Thank You for things to make me smile and soothe my weary soul.  Thank You for Your goodness and mercy.  Thank You for reminding me You find me beautiful.  Give me strength to just WAIT. I love You Jesus with all my heart. 

Rebekah M. 

BTW- for those wondering, I told him I was moving tomorrow (because I am) so I wouldn’t be able to go on a date with him… it was still a nice way to end my day though 🙂

The Garment of Praise

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. ~Isaiah 61:3
So I found out today that my Ex #1 got married this past weekend- just a few weeks after when we had originally planned to. Although I did not and do not want him back, I can’t help but feel slightly heavy in my spirit. Barely over a year ago I told him I loved him… a month after he had started telling me he loved me. I don’t give my love lightly and I don’t think anyone should, but nor should we cling to the past.
Even if I made no efforts to find out this information on my ex, I know God allowed me to be told to solidify that he chose his path and God has released me to a much better and brighter future.
I praise Him now, knowing He is good. I praise Him knowing He has saved me from pain and sorrow. I praise Him now that I wasn’t stuck in an abusive (emotionally and verbally) relationship.
Jesus,
Thank You for saving me. Thank You for Your goodness. I thank You that even if people may claim to love us but their actions show otherwise, Your love is pure and Your love is real. I love You Jesus with all my heart.
Rebekah M.

Breaking Oppression

So after a few days post-cleansing by God on Sunday, I realized that the freedom I feel goes beyond just forgiveness. It took me until today to really grasp the concept that I was spiritually oppressed.  Now I don’t like to give the devil and his minions more credit than they are due, but this freedom is really huge.  I went from feeling plagued by a constant feeling of “I never want to be with a guy like that EVER again” and “I loved him” (as if holding on to the fact that I had once loved someone meant something) to just a whole lifting of my soul.  God brought it to my mind that during my prayer on Sunday, I prayed against spirits who were reminding me of my past to leave me and never come back.  It was in the moment but the more time goes on I realize it was totally Jesus’ leading.

I read up on a post on this area on christianitytoday.com that is related.  The minister who wrote the article speaks on identifying the sins in your life that give the demons a foothold into your life and then has the people he works with write them down. He then says:

If the area is not habitual, I ask the person not to write it down. Demons are unrelenting. If they are present, they are persistent. They will not surface only once a month or on holidays. They like to hide, but they are aggressive in their attempts to control the thinking of anyone within whom they hold ground.

When I read that it just solidified within myself even more that it was exactly what was happening to me! I just felt almost consumed by thoughts of how he treated me so badly and how I had loved (although no longer had anyone to love) etc. etc. etc. To the point that now I’m free of it, I can see it wasn’t even me.  It was a daily, multi-event struggle in which I couldn’t help but think of those things.  It has been getting worse as time has gone on. Months ago I forgave my ex for dumping me the way he did, but I never forgave him for all the times he hurt me. Even if he verbally abused me, it doesn’t mean I needed to hold on to that part of my past by harboring unforgiveness. In harboring my anger, pain, and unforgiveness, I gave the enemy a stronghold in my mind to attack me from.  The more I responded to it’s whispers of “he treated you SO badly” and “don’t you remember when he did x,y,z… wasn’t that so horrible?” the more it knew it had found my weakness.

God wants to set us free from oppression.

If you are daily plagued by thoughts multiple times a day either of your past or any other thing that is not of God, know that this struggle might be beyond just you being weak! It took God sending me literally to the other side of America to visit family where very specific preachers would be preaching that Sunday for it to come to surface enough to be banished from my life. I didn’t even recognize things for what they were! I thought I was weak and it was just my self who was creating this spiritual spiral of “stinkin’ thinkin’ ” but God has bringing to light that it was more than just me! Yes, my weakness created a stronghold, but as time continued and I didn’t address things right then and there, the enemy created a place for itself in my life to remind me over and over again of things just for my bitterness and anger to continue.

Please do not think that I’m saying EVERYTHING is of the enemy, but I am saying that if you are caught in what feels almost like a pit of  bad thoughts, know that this could be oppression from the enemy and that God wants to take you out of that pit never to return! He wants to save you and through His name you have the power to banish them from your life!!!

If any of this resonates with you- I pray you seek out a prayer partner or even your pastor and ask God to not just reveal to you what are the strongholds in your life you’ve given over to the enemy (anger, hatred, lust, lying, envying… just to name a few). You have to be honest! I was harboring so much within me and God cleansed me of it all… but I had to bring it forth to the light for Him to remove it since He will not forcibly remove things from our lives since He gives us free will.  Know there is a much better way of living when you give it all over to Him and allow Him to help cleanse you of oppression.  Yes, I was injured, but I didn’t need to allow bitterness and unforgiveness to take hold the way it did.  I thought I had forgiven him… but I had only forgiven certain things and not ALL of it.  You may be injured this day, but know that His forgiveness can cleanse you and give you the power to forgive others!!! Take the first step and find that He can help you with the rest.

God bless you all my dear readers and I pray that for any of you who are oppressed, know He can and will help you banish those things from your life! In Jesus name you can be free! 

I love You Jesus with all my heart. Thank You Jesus. 

Rebekah M. 

Related article: http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2012/spring/removingdemonic.html?paging=off

Suspect A Trap (When Sadness Creeps In Part 2)

In continuing my current trend of adding to (mooching from?) the posts of my fellow blog writers (as opposed to sharing original thoughts), yesterday I read Rebekah L’s post When Sadness Creeps In. Then I proceeded to text her with my every opinion on the topic. Through her replies and our discussion, God revealed even more. This resulted in two things: 1) a serious need for a better text plan; and 2) a reason to rejoice in the Lord all over again.

As I was reading it, I relived my own struggle with depression, and how my ability to cope with it is directly tied in to my spiritual walk. I also realized that I know of two kinds of sadness in the Bible. The first is the sort one would feel after having a bad day or being hurt by somebody. The second is a more pervasive, weighty sorrow that I associate more with true depression. Yes, it existed. But one thing I’ve noticed is, depression in the Bible does not usually stand alone. Usually, depression goes hand in hand with a time of intercession.

The more I thought about it and went to God with it, the more it just started to make sense. Someone whose heart has been bruised and battered, who has felt pervasive sadness and pain and loss, can look at someone who’s lost and relate to them. Showing Jesus that person becomes less about talking at them about who Jesus is and what they should do to get closer to Him, and more just connecting with their heart. Someone who has been both enveloped by depression and enveloped by the peace of Jesus Christ can reach a lost person on such a deeper level. They can look at this lost person, see where they’re at, and join them there in love – because they know that place. They can also look ahead to where Jesus is; they can see the road that needs to be traveled and the light at the end of the tunnel. Someone in the midst of deep pain can’t necessarily see a way out of it. But someone who has been through it can. And that someone can bridge the gap on such a deeper level than somebody who doesn’t relate to the emotions being felt. That’s what deep intercessory prayer does – we stand in the gap for someone who needs a breakthrough of Jesus. And how much more heartfelt our prayers are when our compassion and love comes from a place of true understanding!

That is the way God would have us use our depression – as a way to draw closer to Him, more dependent on Him, and then ultimately, while He does protect us from our past He also uses it to make up the vessel we are. He is amazing that way – we may not be proud of where we’ve been, but He ensures that we didn’t go there for no reason, that our suffering wasn’t pointless. Thanks Jesus! This, in case you didn’t notice, is the reason to rejoice that I mentioned above. Having traveled the road we have and taken the hits we have, we can now be the exact vessel Jesus needs to use. Maybe someone whose vessel is shinier and less chipped isn’t right for this particular task. And Jesus knows that – He made each of us, after all. Our deepest, darkest moments turned out to be useful. Praise God!

This is why it’s really too bad that so many of us feel shame and guilt over our struggles. I believe this negativity is a lie from Satan himself. He reads our cues, multiplies our sorrow, and tries to turn it into a time of self-doubt and self-loathing. Often, he succeeds. Jesus would have this be a time to draw closer to Him, and instead we hide from Him. Jesus would have this be a time when we use our pain to relate to the pain of others so that we can love deeper and start to see with God’s heart. Satan would have this be a time to pity ourselves or get bogged down and chained by the weight.

So when sadness does come, please don’t hide. Besides, even if you do, Jesus still sees you. But He can’t help you unless you open your heart up to Him and let Him in. Transparency can be key here. When you feel ashamed by emotions, I implore you to suspect a trap. Find a friend you can confide in – yes, you open yourself up to judgement when you discuss yourself. But you also open yourself up to prayer and support, which gets you through it so much faster and grounds you again in your true identity as a servant of Christ.

My prayers are with you. If you’re struggling with something specific and want prayer for it, write to me at being.rebekah.a@gmail.com. God bless!

~Rebekah A

Forgiveness and Renewal Revisited

This past weekend was my birthday and just as he seems to have always had the “perfect timing” ever since we broke up- Ex #1 posted on facebook that he was engaged and of course a friend felt the need to tell me.  I have come to realize something- our minds are our major battle ground.  I have allowed resentment, bitterness, anger and even a touch of hatred enter my heart not only for him, but for his friends who had at one point said I was like a part of their family but dropped me faster than a hot potato once things fell apart between he and I.  I keep thinking of his church as a “den of snakes” for he had told me that it was part of their gossip that drove him to dump me- even his pastor’s wife was involved in it. Last weekend was one of the potential (and most likely) dates for the wedding we were starting to plan. As more and more people get married right when I had thought I would be around this time last year, the bitterness grew.

Bitterness, anger, and hatred only breed destruction of ourselves.  

God doesn’t want us to harbor these things for they poison our soul. As the preacher this morning said, “Bitterness is like cholesterol clogging your spiritual arteries.” You may not realize how bad it is until you die of a heart attack.

This morning, God cleaned out my spiritual arteries. 

I prayed at the alter, the tears falling down as my hair covered my face, and I forgave my ex for each and every time he yelled at me, berated me, made me feel ugly by demanding I go to the gym, and hurt me. Then I forgave the others in my life who have hurt me. Another church that turned their back on me. A pastor’s wife who attacked my character to everyone she had put under me as the Sunday School director as well as anyone else who would listen.  A professor who tried to get me kicked out of medical school for her mistake.  My ex’s friends who abandoned me in my darkest hour despite having claimed to call me family.  As I sit here now I know what happened this morning truly happened- when I prayed forgiveness to all those people I felt His forgiveness not only wash over me, but also extend to those who had wronged me.  I realized that it was not MY forgiveness, but HIS.  He forgave me for harboring these horrible things within me and all my other sins and that forgiveness overflowed in me enough to flow out to everything else.

I am free. 

Then tonight another preacher preached on Jesus healing the man with the withered hand.  Life can cause us to become deformed. Hurts we endure can scar a part of us so badly we don’t want anyone else to see. We do whatever we can to hide it- even using our “normal” limb for handshakes so no one realizes the other is blemished. We act like everything is fine to our friends and family. When Jesus says “stretch for thy hand,” however, we need to realize and believe in faith that He means the deformed part of us so that He can make it new.  He can heal us.  Once again, I cried at the alter, this time seeking God on renewing my hope.  Renewing my belief that He intends good things for my life.  He did.

I am healed. I am whole. 

God has renewed my soul. He has to first take out the muck of hatred, anger, bitterness, and resentment so that He could then perform a healing within me.  Readers- I implore you to look within yourself and see if there is anything that says “I know what she means,” for if you do- seek to do the same! I did not do this on my own but I can tell you for a fact that the dark clouds and heavy burden I had felt is now lifted!!! What a mighty, wonderful God we serve!!!! Thank You Lord for healing my soul. Thank You Lord for taking away the resentment and anger.  Thank You Lord for renewing hope within my soul!!! 

I Love You Jesus with all my heart. 

Rebekah M.