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Restoration (Part III)

“So David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away, and David rescued his two wives. And nothing of theirs was lacking, either small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything which they had taken from them; David recovered all” (1 Samuel 30: 1-8, 18-19).

Four years ago I went through a very trying time in my faith. My spiritual family and I were hurt very deeply during this time. My godparents were falsely accused of many terrible things. Through much prayer, I eventually made the decision to leave that church and within a few days my god-parents were asked to leave as well. By the end of that year I had lost several close friends.

frriendsOne of these was a dear friend to me that I had defended repeatedly in her time of trouble. Yet when my time of trouble came, she turned her back on me. She sent me disparaging emails, unfriended me on facebook, and disconnected from me socially and spiritually. I was heart-broken.

Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me” (Psalm 41:9).

All communication between us stopped – with one exception. Every year on her birthday I sent her a one line email wishing her a good year and a happy birthday. Occasionally, I also tried to encourage her in other more subtle ways; for example, leaving uplifting comments on a mutual friend’s post in reply to one of her comments. We were no longer “friends”, but by way of mutual contacts I knew that she could see some of those things. For the most part, my efforts were ignored.

I admit it was difficult for me. I was hurt that she rejected me. I was angry that she was judging me without knowing or understanding what had really happened at the church. I was sad that we were no longer friends. I missed her.

It took me some time, but eventually I forgave her. She was doing what she felt she had to. In shunning me, she was following the direction of her leadership. I understood that to go against the church leadership is rebellion; she was trying to do the right thing. Yes, I had defended her vehemently to that same leadership when they were falsely accusing her of things, but she never knew that. Yes, she believed the false reports spoken about us, but they were constructed in such a way as to be very convincing. In the end I felt badly for her that she was still in that situation when I had found my way to freedom.

Indeed, while that was the most difficult time I have had to endure since becoming a Christian, it was also the catalyst for helping me to grow in Christ and to dig deeper into Him. I have been incredibly blessed in this last four years. I now attend a wonderfully loving church with very supportive leadership. I have been able to attend Bible College, coach the youth in Bible Quizzing, be involved in a Chinese Home Church and meet many wonderful new friends. Everything that I lost was restored to me and then some! Is the church I attend now a perfect church? No, of course not. But it is exactly what I need in my life and it has afforded me many opportunities that would have been closed to me at my old church.

“For I will restore health to you, and heal you of your wounds, says the Lord, because they called you an outcast saying: This is Zion; No one seeks her.” (Jeremiah 30:17).

I have learned that truly all things work together for good (Romans 8:28) and that going through that time helped to bring me to where I am now.  I also have a greater love and appreciation for those around me because I understand that things can change at any time and I know what a blessing it is to have them in my life.

Today, my dear friend that I lost four years ago sent me a friend request on Facebook. This may seem like a small thing, but I assure you, this is no small thing! Tears instantly welled behind my eyes when I saw it. Perhaps we will never be able to recover a friendship like the one we used to have, but I gladly welcome her back into my life. I pray she is well and that God is blessing her.

We truly serve a God of restoration!

In His Love,
Rebekah L.

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Guest Post: Rebekah M’s Mom “Entering the Restricted Zone”

Editor’s Note: Our weekly guest spot is our effort to help our reading community connect with each other. I am excited that my mom, who is currently in a Bible College program, has allowed us to post one of her previous papers she wrote for a class. Based on the book Entering the Restricted Zone by Steve Willoughby, she writes on events that I witnessed while growing up that show God’s amazing ways and how His hand has been on her and my family all our lives. ~Rebekah M.

storm1

Sometimes when the storms of life come, if we are not prepared, it can be devastating. Many years ago, some unfortunate misunderstandings caused someone in the church to mistrust our family. The more we tried to prove ourselves, the more the situation got worse, and eventually we really did not know how to get out of it. We were all praying and seeking God’s direction. Soon everyone got the answer except for me. I felt I was left out and I cried out to the Lord. Three days later, a lady in the church said that she needed to talk to me. She said she had been praying for me the whole week and that God has a word for me. God wanted her to say this to me: ‘There are three moments. “Moment before moment, I will give you peace”, “Moment before moment, I will give you peace”, “Moment before moment, I will give you peace”’. When she was speaking, the Holy Ghost told me that I was in the second moment. I felt the love of God because He sent someone to pray for me and gave His word to comfort me. I realized that this was a spiritual battle and God had allowed it to happen so we would learn an important life lesson. God has promised, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Heb 13:5). Yes, my husband and I, because we are confident in His love, were able to overcome the situation.

cross1I know my calling and passion is to love and care for the people who have needs and I enjoy doing that as well because I am eager to share with others the love I have received from God. Then a few years ago, while I was happy and busy helping some people who have needs, something was secretly going on behind my back. Someone had spread rumors and false accusations about my motivation for helping others. I was accused with untrue matters from the distorted information. I was even betrayed by a very good friend whom I trusted and highly respected. When this thing happened, it was so hard to accept and way beyond my understanding. I was confused and scared. I thought “If God really, really, loved me; He would not let me go through this.” I was so hurt. I wrapped myself in pains and agony and I cried myself to sleep for several days. This time the storm had struck me really hard. Then at my lowest point, God reminded me of my third moment. Suddenly I realized that this is my third critical spiritual battle and I was not fighting the battle on my own; I have God and the support of my family. He then taught us how to fight this battle and the key was humility and submission. We were determined to hold on to His Love, stick with our faith and endure to the end. Praise the Lord; once again, through the help of the Lord, we overcame the situation.

I know when God allow trials and tests to happen in my life, it is for my own good. He used those situations to make me strong. Through the difficult times, I have learned how to trust Him and do things His way. Because of the confidence I have in His love, I have joy. And this joy that I have, the devil did not give it to me and devil cannot take it away!

Rebekah M’s mom is a loving housewife who lives the Bible and seeks to be His light where ever she is.  

Published by permission of the author. Submit your own post at beingrebekah@outlook.com. 

Sticks and Stones

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

When I was three years old, I fell off the top bunk of the bed I shared with my sister and broke my collar bone. A few years ago I fractured one of my fingers in two places. In both of these examples the initial injury caused significant pain and discomfort, but within a short period of time the bones healed and today they no longer cause me any pain.

“I’m rubber you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.”

Words are different. The hurt that is caused from words has a way of lingering. Most of us can think of something said to us years ago that still causes a slight twinge when we think about it. The pain that words cause can last a lifetime if we let it. We’ve all heard the childhood rhymes invented to try to shield us from the truth that words do hurt. We try to convince ourselves (and our ridiculers) that name-calling, taunts and negative words don’t affect us, but they do. The Bible says that “death and life are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). Our words have power. They have the power to pierce like a sword or to bring healing (Proverbs 12:18). For this reason we need to be careful about the things we say to one another. Our words should be centered in love.

“If someone were to pay you 10 cents for every kind word you ever spoke and collect from you 5 cents for every unkind word, would you be rich or poor?” -Unknown Source

The Bible says, “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:37) and “The lips of the righteous feed many” (Proverbs 10:21). I want the words that come out of my mouth to be words that feed others, not words that are destructive or hurtful.  As Christians, we should be known by our love (John 13:35). Let’s strive to use words in a healing way. Every time we speak we have the opportunity to build people up or to tear them down. The choice is ours. That doesn’t mean that we have to pretend things are all sunshine and rainbows all the time or that we have to stretch the truth in order to say nice things. No, we are called to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Even when we have to say difficult things we can do it in a compassionate, life-affirming way. Our words can show care, concern, and kindness in a world that so desperately needs to see the love of God in action. Let’s commit to speaking more words of comfort and to endeavor to eliminate destructive language from our vocabulary.

Jesus,

Help me to use my words in a way that honors You. I want the words that I speak to be pleasing to You. Help me to yield to You in such a way that my words are Your words to a hurting, broken world.  Thank You, Lord for being so good to me. I love you.

~Rebekah L.

For examples of how words can hurt us and some godly things you can do if you’ve been wounded by the words of others, check out these posts by the other Rebekahs:

Destructive Gossip

Forgiveness and Renewal Revisited

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. 

My Thoughts, Submitted

Two days ago, I was talking to a friend. We’d been out of touch for a few months, just because we were busy, but have always been close regardless of our schedule. Her roommate is graduating, and I said congratulations and made some joke about throwing a party (they live halfway across the country). She said not to bother visiting, that there were enough mean-spirited and vain people in the world, and that I was a ‘player’ whose game was sad and cruel. She continued with some other nasty things. Well. Tell me how you REALLY feel, why don’t you!?

Where did this come from? I don’t know. We never had a falling out. We never had a fight. We never had any discussion about my life recently at all, especially not about anything that would have changed her opinion of me, and when we left off we were close friends. So what gives? I have no idea. I know we have a mutual friend who is dating a very insecure girl, and she starts rumors about other females a lot. Is she the culprit? Again, I have no idea. But regardless of who is talking about me behind my back, apparently the facebook gossip train can be vicious!

What I DO know is, it’s no coincidence that God chose last week to reiterate the importance of submitting my thoughts and reactions. I believe it was in preparation for this. It just confirms that to engage in the drama is feeding into what the enemy wants me to do. He wants me distracted and depressed, and he wants me embracing a worldly reaction to problems. He doesn’t want this in God’s hands. Dear Satan: not this time.

With the confirmation from God firmly in my head to capture ALL thoughts and submit them to Jesus and bring the thoughts in my head into obedience, I spent a lot of time in prayer that night and the next day. I prayed for extra focus and tried to catch errant thoughts immediately. And you know what? It worked. God took this little rough patch of mine and gave me a revelation from it: my being publicly villified is a good thing. Yes, a good thing. Why? Because God uses ALL things for the good of His children. And for those who don’t know Him as Father…well, they’re on Facebook too, aren’t they? In fact I’m friends with a good amount of atheists and agnostics. And being insulted publicly gives the public, for better or worse, to see my reaction. So, they can either see me engaging in the fight and becoming yet another Facebook drama story, OR they can see me standing on the fact that I don’t have to. I don’t have to bother with it because I have an inherent, priceless value, and it comes from a higher source than any friend or frenemy I may find on this earth. It is untouchable by the gossip train. So no, I don’t have to fight back. What do insults do anyway except hurt my pride? I’m not even supposed to have any of that in the first place!

Not only do I not need to fight back, I’m specifically told not to. My ‘enemies’ are not people or specific petty slights. Just as my value is not given to me from this world, my fight is not in this world either. No Christian’s is. Our fight is with Satan and his principalities and mindsets. Not with the people who he either uses as pawns, or who simply don’t know what the Christian mindset is.

There’s a lot of peace in this revelation. There’s peace in the fact that God and God alone can set my worth. And if my worth is being questioned publicly, my sense of peace in the face of the fight is visible. I don’t mind taking a hit at ALL if it means being a light to someone else. I can only pray that God shows it to any and all friends who may need to see it!

Meanwhile, I just think it’s awesome that God can take something so small and petty, and use it for the good of both me and anyone who happens upon my path (or the paths of my accusers). And all I have to do is let Him direct both my thoughts and actions. What a powerful and loving and attentive God we serve!!!!!!!!!

And as always, I want to hear what God’s doing in your life, and what He’s showing you. Anyone else having a test of a recent revelation? Write me at being.rebekah.a@gmail.com, with stories or prayer requests!! God bless!!

~Rebekah A

One Body

So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. ~Romans 12:5

Tonight at church they taught on how we’re all one body and how sad it is when the body of Christ gets an autoimmune disease.  Just as in those unfortunate individuals who have diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, it is horrible to think of the Body of Christ attacking itself… but it happens.

I myself have been the victim of such attacks more than once now.  Part of me is convinced that it was due in part to whispering behind my back that was partly responsible for my past relationship falling. Twice, my family has had pastors who sought to slander our family’s name when they could.  I have even had people apologize to me for things they were ordered to do behind my back at our pastor’s insistence.

I personally testify to just how much more painful it is when a child of God hurts you since we tend to put our guard down more with those in church.  They should have the same spirit of Christ in them as we do, so why should we have to protect ourselves?  Just as silly as it seems for us to do things like shooting our own foot, it would seem silly to those who truly love Christ to think of hurting another member of the church… but it happens.

We are all important. We all matter.

One of my pet peeves is how some people will mock others that do not live by the standards that God has placed in their lives.  Whether it be a certain way of dressing, make-up or no make-up, piercing/no piercings, etc, I get so upset when people start judging each other. As I once heard it said, “we are all guests at God’s table. Who are we to judge who is worthy or unworthy to sit there?”  If God has called you to a more strict level of living, don’t judge others if God has not done that to them at this time.  Just the same, for those who God has not called to a more strict life, who are they to judge those that Jesus has?

Jesus, 

My heart breaks at the thought of those who attack the Body.  We are all Your children and we love You- help us focus on You and reaching those who don’t know you and stay away from strife, envy, slandering, gossip, and a judgmental attitude. Jesus, lead and guide us towards a path of living for You and You alone. Let us not look at others and judge ourselves by how they are walking (either farther along the path or less) and instead judge ourselves by the mirror of Your Word. 

I love You Jesus with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength. 

Rebekah M. 

Destructive Gossip

Surely the serpent will bite without enchantment; and a babbler is no better. ~ Ecclesiastes 10:11

I have been hugely concerned about revealing too much of myself on this blog for one of the reasons my ex cited grounds for breaking up with me is because I once posted on facebook:

I keep praying over and over again- Nevertheless Lord, let Thy Will and not my will be done…

I so desperately want Him to say “Yes my child, Yes, this is for you…” but I know that it needs to be what He wants for me, and not just what >>I want

 Sometimes… the hardest part is the waiting. 

His friends confronted him (without ever saying a word to me) about why was his girlfriend posting their relationship problems all over facebook? Clearly, that post MUST have been about the two of us (in their mind). He looked at me with pain in his eyes and said, “my own pastor’s wife said something to me about your post, you KNOW I hated having anything up on facebook, you KNEW that.” They didn’t consider it might be about picking which job location I wanted, where I might want to settle down permanently, or (since they barely knew me) if there was ANYTHING else going on in my life.  They just up and, instead of praying for someone who was clearly searching for God’s Will and confused, asked him why was his girlfriend posting about their relationship problems on facebook- specifically citing the above post.

I NEVER again want people to read what I write and end up seeing WHO is writing the post instead of THE ONE that the post is supposed to be about.  I naively posted that on my wall thinking that people would either encourage me or be inspired to also seek to do God’s Will above their own.  Instead, it was used to just tear me down and break up our relationship. The worst part was when he said “I didn’t even think anything about it when I first saw it but then everyone started saying things to me, even my pastor’s wife.”

The bible has some really strong words about what happens to those who gossip:

Whoever slanders his neighbor in secret, him will I put to silence; whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, him will I not endure. ~ Psalm 101:5, NIV version

As my last post spoke about, I want all that I say and do to lift Him up.  To give God the glory.  Whether I live or die, whether I look prideful or ridiculous, if it gives God the glory, I don’t want to be silenced but to freely speak of His wonders.  Those people who talked about my post without ever speaking to me, God knows.  God knows and sees everything we do.  I now try to be much more careful about what I say because I never want to be one to inflict injury to others.  I pray that God is never made to silence me for slandering others in secret.

Jesus, 

Help us now be mindful of what we say and do.  Let us, instead of tearing others down, build YOU up. Let us forget the things of this world and just look unto You.  Let us be SO busy going about YOUR business that we don’t have the time to bother with hurting others around us.  Help us remember that the “you need to pray for Jane because of xyz” is NEVER a good excuse to spread gossip.  If we are truly concerned about someone, let us instead ask “Please pray for Jane. I just feel like she could use extra prayers right now.”  We need to lift each other up in prayer.  We need to seek to help those around us make it to the finish line in this race that You’ve set before us.  Jesus, help us strengthen each other without spreading gossip. I love You for protecting me from marrying a man that so easily allowed our relationship to be torn apart by gossip.  I thank You for helping me endure the destruction of those who were gossiping about me.  I love You Jesus with all my heart. 

Rebekah M.