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Unrelenting

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Hi everyone! It has been a long time since I’ve last posted. The reasons are varied, but not too profound, so I’ll spare you the details.

Basically I just took some time to seek Him and grow in Him. I’ve increased my study of His word. I’ve increased my worship in both my heart and my home. I’ve started stepping out of my comfort zone in prayer – with intercession, with strangers and friends alike. I’ve been playing piano as a form of worship, rather than just playing. I’ve been getting more discernment on my visions and words for people. I’ve been working on going deeper – the depths of His heart call to mine and I have been trying to respond. This has involved Him revealing things in the depths of my heart that are so ingrained I just chalked them up to personality traits. But they’re not. They’re learned behaviors that get in the way of true intimacy with Him. Most recently, I (along with Rebekah L) have been involved in a book study with a group of Marshallese ladies – it is amazing to see God’s heart for this tiny island nation unfold.

Suffice to say it’s been a process – a beautiful exercise of being stretched in love and faith. Much has happened – about a squillion blog posts worth. And I’ve learned some things. I’ve learned it’s ok to be lost – He’ll always, always find me. I’ve learned that faith isn’t always pretty, but He’s captivated by the sight of it anyway. I’ve learned His grace is beautiful and will wash over me even when I least deserve it. But the bottom line is, what I’ve learned the most, is that Jesus loves me as I am just as much as He would love me if I were perfect. But even though His love for me is at this moment fiercer and stronger than anything I have ever felt, He will not give up on the girl He initially created – on the one He created me to be. The fullness of the identity He has for me. His mercy is literally unending, but He will never give up shaping me and refining the shape of my heart until I am fully, wholly His. Until no part of me belongs to the past I left behind.

The same is true for us all. No matter where we’ve been lately. No matter how far we fall, no matter where our starting point is. No matter if we’re at the peak of success or at rock bottom. His love is unrelenting, and He will love us right to the person He created in the first place.

To that end, I give you a song of the day. There is beauty in His love, just as there is beauty in your heart. Where your hangups and imperfections start, so does His grace. His yoke is easy, His peace is abundant and I pray you are washed in it today.

God bless!

Rebekah A

Single and Seeking

CoupleI have previously mentioned on this blog that there is a lack of single Christian men in my church. To be precise, there are zero single Christian men in my local congregation. The truth is that there is a serious lack of single Christian men in the American church at large. A 2011 PEW Research study showed that there are eight single women for every one single man in the average congregation. Being a long time single with few talents and little beauty, that’s a pretty disconcerting statistic. How I could ever attract a man over the barrage of other single women available is beyond me. It is beyond me, but it is not beyond God. Yet the harsh reality is that unless things drastically change in the makeup of the church, there is a large number of women in churches today that may never marry.

For a long time I assumed that if I loved God and waited patiently, that He would just send the right man to me. My husband would just show up. The Bible says, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing” (Proverbs 18:22), which implies to me that the husband does the finding. He should pursue after his bride. Therefore, I’ve never looked for a husband. I’ve longed for one, but not actively looked for one. But recently, a member of my church opened my eyes to the fact that my future husband cannot find me if I don’t position myself in a place to be found. The Bible doesn’t just say to ask, it also tells us to seek and knock (Matthew 7:7). I had asked for a spouse, but I hadn’t really sought for one. While I take all of Matthew 7:7 to be a reference to prayer, there is a difference between asking and seeking. Seeking implies some kind of action. The sister in my church asked me what I had done, what actions had I taken in finding a spouse. Not many. I have prayed. I have been faithful. I have waited patiently in the pew for almost eleven years for my husband to walk through those doors.

If we were to compare this search to looking for a needle in haystack (which is what it feels like), I have mostly just circled repeatedly around the same haystack expecting the needle to suddenly reveal itself to me. I have not dug down into the haystack pulling out individual straws in my search. I felt that actually looking through the straws meant I was not trusting God to reveal the needle to me. If it’s His will for me to be married, He will send a man to me, right? Well, yes, and no. He will send me a partner when the time is right, but it’s not likely to happen without any participation on my part. In the Bible, Rebekah had to participate by watering the servant’s camels. Ruth’s participation was even bolder. Ruth purposely went to Boaz (at Naomi’s suggestion) and uncovered his feet while he was sleeping, and lay upon his feet. I won’t take the time to go into the historical significance of what she was actually doing, but it was very forward. She was clearly making her intentions known to Boaz. She wasn’t passively waiting for him, she actively went to him.

This brings me to where I am now. Along with the sister who helped me to see that beyond asking, I should also seek and knock, several other well-meaning Christians have recently asked me what I have actively done to find a spouse. In another post I will expand on some of the things I have done and am doing to try to place myself in a better position to be found. I have sought to form a closer relationship with God, worked out a hidden root of bitterness over the way my last relationship ended, and went through a very intense spiritual battle to fortify myself against a particular weakness I have.

Reluctantly, I have also made myself a little more visible on social media. None of the other things I’ve done do me much practical good when there aren’t any prospects in my church (or even in my district), so I decided I needed to do something to widen the circle. This is fraught with a lot of uncertainty and not a few painful rejections. I’ve seriously been considering going back into hiding, but then I think of Rebekah M and her new found interest who she met through social media and I think perhaps it’s worth trying to stick it out awhile longer. I haven’t quite figured out where the line is between not doing enough and pushing too hard. In the end, it’s up to God. I still believe when I am ready and the timing is right, He will send me a companion. Until then, may God grant me the grace to keep waiting.

In His Love,
Rebekah L.

God Provides

testToday at work I received a payroll check for one of our employees. The check was a replacement for one that was originally issued more than three and a half years ago that was somehow never cashed. The employee had no idea this check was coming. I live for these moments.

When I saw her I exclaimed that God had sent her a blessing as I handed her the check. Bewildered she stared at it and of course inquired what it was for. After I explained, she nearly broke down. Recently, she has been struggling financially as she had to take a cut in pay last year. She told me that her bank account is currently $33 in the negative. She said that she had committed to sending $100 to a missions work in Cambodia and even though she didn’t have the money, she sent it anyway. She told her father that God would provide the money. Her father was skeptical and said, “How is He going to do that?” She said she didn’t know, but she believed He would. The check she received today was for more than $1200!

Let me be clear that I am not advocating for anyone to be financially unwise. We need to budget and plan accordingly. However, if God places it in your heart to step out in faith and give, and you make a commitment to do so, don’t back out of your commitment. Trust that He will provide!

I live for these moments. It is wonderful to watch God provide for His children and strengthen their faith. She stepped out in faith and God opened His windows of heaven to pour out a blessing! Yes, it was technically already her money, but it was money that she didn’t need or miss at the time (nearly four years ago) and instead it arrived exactly when she needed it! God’s timing is impeccable. She kept her commitment to the souls in Cambodia and put her trust in God. He provided. It is a testimony to her father and it is a testimony to me. To God be the glory!'GOD' 'ALWAYS' ‘PROVIDES' - Philippians 4 verse 19

Thank you, Jesus!

In His Love,

Rebekah L.

PS. Please share your recent testimonies with us.

We love to hear them!

Rahab Gets Married

rings“As God by creation made two of one, so again by marriage He made one of two.” ~ Thomas Adam

For those of you who have followed my Rahab series over the last two years, I have some exciting news! Hint – It’s in the title of this post. 😉 Yes, the lovely young woman referred to in these posts has gotten hitched.

This is significant because it represents a total separation from her past. As a woman who was forced to sell her body (by her own parents no less), she did not even dare to dream she would ever get out of her old life. She had resigned herself to the idea that she would have to endure her “profession” until she became too old to continue attracting clients. She often worried how she would support herself when that day finally came. The idea of marriage was so far beyond her realm of possibilities that she couldn’t even entertain the idea.

Starting when she was very young her father told her repeatedly that as a member of his family she belonged to him and had no choice but to do as he told her. He said, “Until you have a family of your own, you belong to me. And no one will ever marry someone as filthy and used up as you are. You will never find a man who is willing to marry someone like you.” He was the reason she became “filthy and used up”, but yet used that as the rationale that no one would ever marry her and that she was doomed to always be his property to be rented out as he pleased.

But God!

Oh how God can take all of man’s plans and turn them on their head! When the world saw someone who was filthy and used up, God saw a woman to be redeemed! Jesus Christ is still in the business of cleansing and making new! He took a woman of ill repute and completely turned her life around! She now knows the Lord; she has been delivered from her life of degradation, and filled with His Spirit.

God has seen fit to give her a godly man as a husband. Even by her father’s twisted justification, she is free from him by virtue of having been married. The thing she never thought possible has come to pass by way of Jesus Christ. God took a terrible circumstance and used it for both her and her new husband’s good. They met through a series of cruel tricks by both his parents and hers. He never saw the deception coming, fell right into their trap, and committed a serious mistake. By all outward appearances this should have ended very very badly.

But God!

This man repented of his sin, and became a representation of Christ to this woman who was so desperately lost in darkness. He modeled love. She was filled with anger and bitterness. She fought back at him with sharp words and a hateful attitude. He kept reaching out in the love of Christ. He ignored her hurtful behavior. Through every angry word and difficult encounter he continued to show godly love in a way that she had never seen. In fact, she had never experienced any kind of love at all. Not from friends. Not from men. Not from family members. Not even her own parents.

But God!

God used this man to show real love. And real love prevailed. Through it all God kept reaching for her. He did a miracle in her life. She surrendered to Him and it changed everything.

Her faith in Him is incredible. I have seen her grow in spiritual maturity so quickly. Her prayers are deep and strong. Her level of commitment is rare among Christians. She has already become a role model for the women in her church. She is a woman who knows what God has done for her.

There is no greater freedom than that of living for Jesus Christ!

Congratulations, Rahab. May your marriage be as strong and resilient as you have been. May the goodness and mercy of the Lord follow you both all the days of your lives. May you and your husband be blessed with a love that grows stronger every day and moves you ever closer to the Lord.

In His Love,
Rebekah L.

More in the Rahab Series:

Being Rahab (Part 1)

Revisiting Rahab (Part 2)

The Faith of Rahab (Part 3)

Praying with Rahab (Part 4)

Moving On, Moving Up, Moving in Him

movingLast week I moved to a new apartment. I spent almost seven years living in a teeny tiny studio apartment. Though I recognize that many have far less than I do, it was just one room and was not even the kind that has a little kitchenette area. I literally slept four feet from my refrigerator. Let me tell you that you don’t realize how loud a refrigerator is until you have to sleep four feet away from one! The apartment was in a building with 16 units and mostly housed sketchy drug users and drunken college students. Being kept awake at all hours of the night because of the partying was a common occurrence. It was not the most spiritual of environments. That being said, it was a roof over my head and it afforded me the opportunity to completely pay off all my debts.

I had planned to only spend one year in that ratty little apartment, but one year stretched to two, then two to three, and at some point something weird happened in my psyche; I lost hope that I would ever get out of there. You see I was dating this guy who to me seemed to be the world. He promised me he would get me out of that terrible environment. We dreamed of the day we’d get married and he’d carry me over the threshold away from that place. When things fell apart between us I sort of just resigned myself to the fact that I would live in that horrible little place forever. Financially, I could afford something a little better for at least two years before I made the move. But I just couldn’t make the move. I didn’t feel I deserved any better and somehow moving meant giving up on the dream that he would take me away from that place. I had convinced myself that it was the last place I would live until I got married, so moving felt like admitting I would be single forever; I would never get anything better in life.

Thank God for that still small voice! In prayer recently God whispered to me of His love, His care, His intentions for my life. That drug infested place just doesn’t fit into those plans.  In a moment of letting that old fairytale go, I realized that I should never have been depending on a man to get me out of that place. I was still there because I believed a man was the answer to my problem, when the answer was in God! Jesus is the one who takes care of me. He is the one who provides for me! I realized He wanted better for me and He was willing to provide it!

So I prayed that if I should move this year that the landlord wouldn’t approach me with a new lease to sign until I found a reasonably affordable place. In all the years I lived there, the landlord was never late in getting the new lease to me, but this year he was! In fact, the landlord who never forgot, seemingly forgot for over three months! So while I waited for the new lease I began casually looking for a new apartment. At first I didn’t have much luck. All the decent apartments were way out of my price range. I had almost resigned myself to another year in my dilapidated studio.

But then just like that, the door opened! My co-worker found out her downstairs neighbor was moving out. I spoke to her landlord and agreed to go look at the new place. I prayed that if it was the right place that I would feel comfortable with the new landlord, the new apartment, and the new neighborhood. I also prayed that if it wasn’t the right place that the door would close and the landlord would rent it out to someone other than me. The day I saw the place, I knew it was for me. It isn’t a huge apartment, but it’s a huge step up from where I was living. It’s actually a two bedroom and has a decent size kitchen and living room. I had a good report with the landlord right away and he even gave me the keys that very day even though I hadn’t yet given him a dime of my money! Amazingly, the new rent is LESS than the old apartment was! And it isn’t in a building with 16 units. There are only two apartments in the house; mine and my co-workers. That means no more listening to partying at all hours of the night. Also, my cat absolutely loves the new place. That may seem trivial to most, but it was a big confirmation for me. My cat has experienced incredible stress every time I’ve moved. When I moved into that horrible apartment he cried non-stop day and night for three days straight. It’s been a little over a week now and he is still as happy as a clam in the new place. Instead of crying, he’s been purring non-stop. He is running around and playing like he used to when he was a kitten. I thought he had stopped playing because he is getting up there in years and his eyesight isn’t what it used to be, but now I’m starting to believe he was just as depressed in that other apartment as I was.

For me, moving was so much more than just a physical relocation. It was accepting that what I had with that guy is over – and that’s okay. It’s believing that God wants the best for me. It’s knowing that all good gifts come from Him!

What a blessing! The Lord is so good to us! Truly! I think we so often live beneath our privilege. The Lord wants us to ask of Him and depend on Him to provide for us. Our blessings don’t come through spouses or children or bosses; they come from the Lord! He is the source of our joy. I thank God for that still small voice that reminded me that He is the one who cares for me. The Lord is good!

In His Love,
Rebekah L.

Forsaking the Past

I came to know the Lord in my mid-twenties. This means that I lived long enough prior to Christ to have made a substantial number of mistakes. Truth be told, I’ve made significant mistakes since coming to the Lord as well. The fact is that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness.”

Recently, someone in my life has been going out of their way to remind me of my prior indiscretions. Admittedly, this has taken quite a toll on me. When I first became saved, I felt the weight of those early sins lift off me. I experienced the incredible cleansing that came with repenting of my sins and being baptized in His precious name. I was blessed with an amazing renewal through the infilling of His Spirit and the chains of those transgressions fell as I embraced the freedom of forgiveness. I believed the Bible when it says, “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). I truly felt that Scripture become real in my life.

Psalms 103:12 – “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.”

Yet after being repeatedly reminded of my past, I found myself ruminating over dead sins, old guilt, and shame. More than just thinking about them I’ve been feeling dirty, worthless, and broken. I’ve been obsessing about the fact that I can’t fix it. No matter what I do, I can’t go back and undo the mistakes I made in the past. I can’t undo the sin, I can’t fix it!

Romans 8:1 – “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus…”

Make no mistake; we have an enemy of our souls! Satan would like nothing more than for us to become shackled to our past. The enemy knows we don’t have the power to change the past and he will try to continually condemn us for it because he wants us to feel hopeless. Feeling hopeless is a very dangerous place to be. When we feel hopeless, we can lose our vision and give up. If I can’t change the past, what good is it to try to live holy? I can’t change what happened so I might as continue in them. That kind of thinking is a lie from the pit of hell!

Micah 7:19 – “…He will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”

It’s true that I can’t change the past, but as far as God is concerned that past no longer exists. The Word is clear, “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more”(Hebrews 8:12). When I was baptized in Jesus’ name I was cleansed of my past sins. The bible says, “though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18). What an incredible gift from God! I couldn’t fix it, so God fixed it for me!

Isaiah 43:25 – “I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.”

When we dwell on the past, we are limiting our future and essentially making the blood of Jesus of no affect in our lives. I think it probably grieves God to see His children dwelling on sins that He has already forgiven. It indicates that we don’t trust Him enough to truly believe that His Word is true!

Isaiah 43:18 – “Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old.

What kind of future would the newly converted Paul have had if he had been unable to let go of his past mistakes? Paul, the man who wrote more of the New Testament than anyone else, was a man with a past! He persecuted Christians and was complicit in murder. If he had dwelled on his past mistakes it would have paralyzed him and kept him from operating effectively in God’s will.

Ephesians 1:7 – “In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.”

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is in the third chapter of Philippians where Paul penned the words, “this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” When the enemy whispers memories of your past into your ear, rebuke him, rebuke the thought, and rebuke the intention behind the thought. Don’t allow those things to get in your spirit. Instead focus on Jesus. Turn your eyes to the One who freed you from all your past mistakes and the bondage of sin. Praise Him for His unending mercy and unfathomable forgiveness.

Philippines 3:13 – “…this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before.”

I will remind our readers as I remind myself: you are not your past; you are a new creature in Christ! God never intended for us to live in the past. It’s one of the reasons we needed the new birth experience. We serve a mighty God who is not intimidated by our failures, but instead provided a way to remove them from the record. He is worthy of all our praise!

In His Love,
Rebekah L.

No Place For That Here

Recently, I was talking to a friend who said she needed prayer – the “spirit of discouragement” was trying to latch onto her. I went into prayer for her, ready to do battle against this “spirit”, to cast it away from her, whatever I needed to do. She is at a really intense time in her life and certainly didn’t need  a spirit of discouragement standing in her way!

As I began getting into the heart of my prayer time though, God gave me the revelation that in this case there was no such spirit of discouragement. There was simply a girl, a child of God, doing her best to walk out the calling on her life but currently falling short. She wasn’t out of His will, she was following His call, she was just falling short of the fullness of what her life was meant to be at this time.

Why was this happening? It was because she knew what God had called her to do. She had heard His voice…..but then she used her earthly ideas to fill it in. For example, say somebody really likes flowers. And so, really liking flowers, was expecting them from a loved one for their birthday. All day at work waiting for that bouquet to arrive, expecting it at home. Instead, the loved one didn’t send a bouquet at all but took them to a picnic in a field of wildflowers. The wish was fulfilled but not in the way our flower-loving person expected. The present didn’t meet expectations per se, but does that mean it was bad?

In the case of my friend, it is Jesus’ will that she is doing. She is just walking with a certain (earthly) expectation of what that should look like. A certain expectation of how people will respond to her along the way, because it is God’s will. And as it happens, it isn’t turning out like she expected. The breakthroughs are happening between her and Jesus, not between her and those around her. And so she is finding herself discouraged.

But as I prayed for her, God revealed that this is an issue of our own hearts, not some outward spirit attacking us. And it’s an issue we face a bit too frequently. So often we walk in expectation of what God can and should do. And yes, of course we should be expectant. But sometimes we end up seeking the things we expect of Him, rather than seeking God Himself. And that’s a problem.

Readers, our first and really only desire should be Jesus. To serve Him. To seek Him, To be with Him. There are numerous – numerous – Bible verses about how we should seek God with our whole heart. That doesn’t mean “seek Him with half our heart and keep the other half of our heart waiting to witness His miracle”. That doesn’t mean “seek with most of our heart and keep a teeny bit waiting to rejoice at a breakthrough”. It means our whole heart longs for Him and Him alone. If He is healing the masses as we walk among them, great. Awesome. Amazing. I had a friend in Africa recently who was feeding a village and God literally repeated the miracle of the loaves and fish. I was crying at His glory and power with this miracle. BUT. If He happens to just be merely standing before us, that is fine. Amazing in fact. Why? Because He’s Jesus. And He’s enough. And if our whole heart is truly desiring Him and Him alone, if we keep all our own thoughts and expectations out of it and instead seek only His face and heart, His mere presence is enough. If we desire Jesus, our desires are fulfilled. Because we have Jesus.

There’s no place for discouragement when our heart’s desire is being fulfilled. At the end of the day, maybe we didn’t see a miracle we expected. Maybe we didn’t see what we thought we would. But it’s not our plan. It’s His. It’s not our expectation that matters. It’s His. We’re merely the vessels for it. If our hearts are truly in the right place, and God is our true desire, we’ve got Him. Our desire has been fulfilled. It’s being fulfilled constantly, as an inherent part of our relationship with Him. Us + Jesus = perfect satisfaction for our hearts and spirits. The Bible makes this equation clear, and there is simply no room for discouragement in it. Where would it even go?

Where does that leave us? Well. We all feel discouraged at times. It’s normal. It’s natural. For every verse in the Bible that says to desire and seek God above all else, there are probably just as many examples of someone discouraged. It happens. But it’s still a problem.

So, if you are in that place of discouragement, as we’ve all been, I invite you to seek Him a bit further today. Really, really press in to Him and let Him show you if maybe something else has entered your equation. Let Him reassure you and give you peace to know that these other variables don’t really matter because He is bigger than them and He is able. Give your heart over to Him to be reshaped. Give Him your very thoughts to be brought into obedience under Him.

And then rest assured. He’s got this.

God bless!

~Rebekah A