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Be Afraid and do it Anyway

Overcoming Fear

For the last couple of years I have had recurring dreams of the same person. The dreams themselves are different every time, it’s just that this particular person happens to show up in them from time to time. It is someone I do not know in my waking life and usually when I dream of him, he has an important message to share with me or to help me understand something. I’ve come to refer to him as my “teacher” because that is the role that I most often relate to him in these dreams.

A few weeks ago I had a dream where he came to me and told me that God had a specific task for me to complete and that I was hesitating to do it. As if that wasn’t convicting enough he said, “You move in fear instead of love.” Ouch! I could not refute his claims. How often have we let fear be a motivating factor in how we act (or in what we avoid) rather than love?

I knew exactly what he was referring to. If you’ve read any of the Being Rahab series, you know that I am in contact with a woman who lives on the other side of the globe from me. Recently, she had some questions that she only felt comfortable talking to me about. She suggested doing a video chat. This is a simple solution to the problem of living so far apart and not being able to meet in person. A phone call isn’t ideal because there is a bit of a language barrier between us so we often need the help of facial expressions and hand gestures to communicate. Video was the best alternative. For me however, this was a terrifying request. The thought of being on the internet like that nearly sent me into a full blown panic. Just the thought of doing it, never mind actually going through with it.

This may come as a surprise to many of our readers since you know that I have been putting my posts on the internet for at least two years now. There is a big difference between putting words on a screen and putting your face out there. Where I could be seen. And heard. Even recognized. Or recorded. Especially recorded. You’ve never seen my face on this blog and I don’t even use my real name so making the shift to a video chat was a giant leap for me. Giant. Did I think my friend was planning to record me? No. Or worse, planning to distribute the video out into the world? Of course not. But I am paranoid and I don’t trust technology and frankly the whole idea is horrifying to me.

This paranoia is not completely without justification. I know what it is like to be involuntarily recorded. I know what it feels like to not have any control over that and to not be able to retrieve the recordings. I know the haunting fear that one day those recordings will resurface. I never want to be in that situation again so I have spent years avoiding technology that might take pictures or videos and transmit them somewhere.

But then there’s this woman half a world away. She has questions about the Lord and the church and salvation. She has past issues she needs help working through. She has fears and she needs someone to reassure her that the Lord is her shield and buckler. She needs someone to confirm that Jesus is a healer. And she wants to talk to me. Only to me.

I wanted so much to help her, but I honestly didn’t think I could get over my debilitating fear in order to do it. How could I possibly allow myself to be seen on video? The thought was unbearable.

But then I had a dream. My “teacher” came and told me that I needed to demonstrate my burden. He invited me to demonstrate my love for the Lord and for the souls I cry out for.

He asked me, “Do you love Him enough to leave your fear behind?” I could not answer the question. So he told me that God would be with me and that my calling required a giving up of self and a constant overcoming of fear.

He asked me again, “Do you love Him enough to put your own fear aside?”

Again, I could not answer him.

“Do you love Him?”

I answered with a resounding, “Yes!”

He said, “If you love Him, but cannot put your fear aside, then be afraid and do it anyway.

With that, he walked away and the dream ended. When I woke up, I knew I had to do the video chat. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but I knew that I could. Despite my fear, I had to move in love. I had to reach out to a woman thousands of miles away in a way that was utterly terrifying to me because it was what she needed. I had to put myself aside. I had to be afraid and do it anyway.

And you know what? I did it. Through the Lord, by the Lord, with the Lord, He helped me do it. It was not easy. It took a lot of prayer. I admit I cried and threw up before the video chat started. But when the switch was flipped and there she was on a screen across from me, Jesus helped me to move in love instead of fear. As far as I know, she had no knowledge of how difficult it was for me. And God accomplished something amazing in that conversation. Two women a world apart and He helped us both overcome that day!

I often think that God has to remove a fear before I can be free to act, but I have learned through this situation that sometimes God moves in the fear. He doesn’t always take the fear away first. You have to be willing to say that your love for Him and your love for souls is more important than the fear you are feeling.

When I feel God leading me to do something that feels scary, I have a new motto: Be afraid and do it anyway.

Dear Readers: May the Lord help you to walk in love instead of fear. May you never shy away from His bidding because of fear. May you overcome by facing that fear and doing the very thing that you are afraid of.

In His Love,

Rebekah L.

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Choose this Day

“…choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” –Joshua 24:15

As many of you know, I have a friend that lives in Taiwan. For the last couple of weeks he has been on a business trip to China. The beginning of his trip was fraught with difficulties. He is under incredible pressure to succeed by his company. In addition, he has been battling many personal temptations and sin has been lying at the door just waiting to trip him up.

Recently in prayer, God asked him a question. The question was, “Do you want to be like your father or like your Father? You see, many of the struggles and temptations my friend is facing are the very sins his father has succumbed to. God was asking him whether he would choose to become like his earthly father or like his heavenly Father. Indeed, this is a decision we all must continually make.

When he encountered these temptations in China, rather than fall into secret sin and try to hide them away, he reached out and openly told his pastor, his mentor, and a couple close friends exactly what he was tempted to do. So often we try to face our demons alone. Church, we need to learn to lean on each other during our trials! Had he tried to face this alone, he almost certainly would have failed. But with the love, support, and prayers of those close to him, he found the strength to stand for Christ!

His decision to stand for the Lord has resulted in something amazing! At a business meeting in Shanghai, he told his co-workers that he could not do some of the things they were doing because he is a Christian. After the meeting, one of his co-workers told him that he is actually a Christian also, but he had never told the group because he didn’t want to stand out. While Christianity is rapidly growing in China, it is still a tiny minority of the population, and if you think it’s difficult standing out in the United States, it is much more difficult in a place like China that values the group over the individual.

My friend’s Christian co-worker invited him to attend church with him. It is a government registered church so my friend knew that doctrinally some things would not line up with what he believes, but he decided that getting to worship with other Christians would be good for him. After the church service he and another member of the church were invited back to his co-worker’s house for lunch. During lunch, it was revealed that neither his co-worker nor the other church member had ever been baptized. In fact, they felt that baptism was something done in biblical times, but was not something to be practiced in modern times.

I know even amongst our readers there are differing opinions on this, but my friend went through all the Scriptures in the bible that admonish new believers to be baptized. He pointed out that there aren’t any Scriptures that would indicate that we should stop baptizing people. Before long the two church members were feeling convicted and having an intense discussion about what they should do. Meanwhile my friend contacted his pastor back in Taiwan to get some advice on how to handle the situation. His pastor recommended that my friend suggest they all pray together and then if they indicated they wanted to be baptized they should do it without hesitation. He pointed out that the government church would not baptize them so to help them be obedient to the Word, my friend should just do it himself.

As suggested, my friend had the three of them pray together. After prayer, the two men both agreed that they wanted to be baptized! My friend took them back to the hotel where he is staying and baptized them in the name of Jesus in the hotel pool!

One of the things that strikes me as so amazing about this entire interaction is how it would not have happened if my friend had chosen to be like his father rather than his Father. He was under extreme temptation and had he given into it, he never would have had reason to let his coworkers know that he is can’t do certain things, so therefore he never would have found out this other co-worker was a Christian, and the co-worker would never have invited him to his church and therefore would not have been baptized.

Every decision we make either for Christ or for the satisfaction of our own flesh, has consequences. When we stand for Christ, He can make miracles happen in our midst! When we follow Him and do His will, we can witness the expanding of the Kingdom of God before our very eyes!

Will you be like your earthly father or like your heavenly Father? Choose this day whom ye will serve.

In His Love,
Rebekah L.

Praying with Rahab

Today’s post is a continuation of the Being Rahab series. If you aren’t familiar with these posts, I encourage you to read parts 1, 2, and 3 by following the links.

I began the first post on this topic by discussing a woman who was forced into prostitution at a young age by her own family. At the time, it was my prayer that she would be like Rahab; a person with a questionable past, but an honorable future. I requested that our readers pray for her that she would have the faith of Rahab to believe God and allow Him to transform her life.

God has answered these prayers in an amazing way. She now regularly attends church, has thrown out all her former idols, has stopped worshipping at Buddhist temples, has committed her life to Christ and been baptized in His name. Truthfully, she is so far removed from her degrading past that I don’t really even like using the word Rahab in the title of these posts anymore. It was difficult for me to include it on the last update, and even more difficult on this one. Even though this is an anonymous blog that she knows nothing about, I feel she deserves better than to be identified by her past rather than by the incredible future that God is building in her. Yet, for the sake of continuity so that our readers are able to recognize and follow her story, I will continue to use it for now.

Recently, I have had the opportunity to pray with this woman a few times. She lives on the other side of the globe from me, but with modern technology she is only a click away and we’ve been able to video chat and pray together that way. Think about that for a minute, we are literally a few clicks away from evangelizing the world! Satan uses technology to put all kinds filth on the airways, violence in the media, and pornography at our fingertips, but we have the power to take technology and use it for good. Use it to witness to someone, use it to reach out and evangelize places you can’t physically get to. Use it for creating worship songs and Bible Studies. Use it for God! But I digress.

This woman has poured her heart out to me in video chat. I’ve been able to tell her what God has done in my own life and then to pray with her about her hopes, her fears, her past traumas, and I’ve been able to feel the burden lifting off of her as we pray. If you had told me a year ago that I would be having these conversations with her, I would have thought you were crazy. Even just a few months ago I would have thought it was impossible. Nothing is impossible to God! Nothing!

If I had stayed angry with her, if I had allowed my own hurt and bitterness to get in the way, I would have missed out on the incredible blessing that she is now bringing to my life. She is a remarkable woman who is learning to pray to the One True God. She is learning to trust in the Almighty. She is giving her life to the Savior. And I am being allowed to witness it. Truly truly humbling.

If you are having trouble forgiving someone I encourage you to ask your heavenly Father to give you a genuine love of God for that person. Ask Him to help you allow a love of God to grow in your heart. He may answer that prayer in the most unexpected and beautiful of ways.

If you pray for that person, you may find one day you are praying with them!

In His Love,
Rebekah L.

The Faith of Rahab

“…choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” -Joshua 24:15

For those of you who have been following my Rahab posts I have more exciting news to share. I continue to be awed and amazed at the wonderful work the Lord is doing in this young woman’s life. If you have not been following along I highly encourage you to read Being Rahab and Revisiting Rahab to get the back story on today’s post.

I mentioned in Revisiting Rahab that the young woman the posts were written about had just attended her first Christian church service. I’m so happy to be able to let all of our readers know that she has faithfully been attending church since that first visit a couple of months ago. Last Sunday her journey to God took a giant leap forward; she was baptized! She lives in a crowded East Asian city where there aren’t any large bodies of water or baptismal tanks nearby so her pastor arranged for her to be baptized in the pool at a nearby hotel. God will always find a way when a soul is hungry!

Her pastor talked with her to make sure she really understood what it meant to be baptized and to be certain that she truly wanted to be a Christian. He told her that when she repents and gets baptized all of her sins would be washed away. When he told her that, tears began streaming down her face. Her pastor’s wife told her that there was no need to cry; she should be happy. This young woman’s pastor and his wife do not yet know about her past. If they knew, they would understand why the thought of all her sins washing away would cause her to cry. I can only imagine the weight that was being lifted off of her in that moment.

This woman’s pastor asked her, “Do you believe God forgives?” I am amazed and humbled by the response she gave. She said, “Yes. Because [Rebekah L] forgave me. When [Rebekah L] told me she forgave me, I knew that forgiveness is real. No one would blame her if she hated me, but she forgave me and prayed for me. She also explained to me how she was forgiven by God and how God helped her to forgive others. She explained that it was all possible because of Jesus. I want what [Rebekah L] has.”

This has touched me in a very deep place. That day in her apartment when I extended forgiveness to her was one of the most difficult days I have been through. It was not easy and it was only through the power of God that I was able to get to a place where I could utter those words. It is truly humbling to see the effect they had on her.

This woman lives in a predominantly Buddhist area of the world and she has grown up in that tradition. Additionally, she was raised in a culture that values familial piety over almost anything else. For her to be willing to walk away from the tradition of her ancestors is huge. After getting baptized she told her daughter’s father to throw away all of the idols in her home. She said, “Take them all away, don’t leave any here, there is only one God that is going to live in this house from now on”.

I am blessed to have met you, Rahab. I am so excited about what God is doing in your life. We serve a wonderful God.

In His Love,
Rebekah L

A Vision and a Prayer

So, as I have walked through New York City, following a fairly steady route throughout the winter, spring, and summer (between February and August, and less frequently starting in September), there have a few people who have become staple parts to my daily commute. One in particular is a homeless man named Bradley. Sometimes he’s more awake than others, and sometimes his words are more slurred than others, but no matter what kind of day he’s having he is easily one of the most personable people in New York. He might be filthy, but he is always smiling and always cheerful. He talks about his past with fond remembrance rather than bitterness, though he is from another part of the country and it’s been a long time since he’s had contact with any loved ones.

I don’t know exactly what happened in his life and what issues he’s faced that caused his decline from then, when he had a wife and a stepdaughter he still refers to as his princess, until now. We have a game we play, where he gives me a name, I look up its meaning on my phone, and he relates the meaning of the name back to the person they were. I don’t know most of the names he gives me or who these people were in his life, just a few snippets he’s given me.

I do know that the first day I met him I was hoping to pray for him, but before I could even ask he was expounding on how the government was a big conspiracy and how Jesus wasn’t real, His miracles were impossible and the whole Christianity thing was just a made-up story that people get fed today because the governmental powers that be think we’re dumb enough to follow it.

That was the one and only time I’ve seen him agitated. Suffice to say he was not receptive to the idea of prayer. But, That said, he has been heavy on my heart lately. I have been vaguely praying for him as God has led me, and praying into God’s plan for him, but the past few days God has gotten much more specific in how I’m to minister to him. Basically, He told me He wants me to do a bible study with Bradley, and gave me a specific place in the city where he wants this to happen. It’s near where I always see him, and it happens to be on some ground that I claimed for Jesus a few months back (possibly a story for another day, but long story short: God is pretty cool). He also told me in no uncertain terms that Bradley won’t willingly go there with me, and certainly won’t willingly read the bible with me (had God consulted me first, I easily could have told Him this part and spared Him the trouble of sending me the vision, but I digress). That being the case, my next direction was simple: if he won’t come with me, I am to go to him. Sit on the subway floor, by his side. If he won’t do a Bible study with me, I am to read my bible by myself, as I sit next to him. I am to simply talk to him. To seek God for wisdom and discernment on every word that comes out of his mouth. To seek wisdom and discernment over his heart. To let God fill my mouth with the words to minister to those places, and to supply the bible verses as needed. Eventually, there will be more direct bible interaction. God promised this, if I follow His guidance. In short, I am to go low and slow here.

I have never done anything quite like this before. But I’m game if Jesus is. Interestingly, I haven’t actually seen Bradley since this has been revealed to me. Either way, I thank Him for what He’s shown me, and I stand expectant and believing for Him to do a work here. And so today I just ask that you pray into God’s will over this man and my role in his life. That I would hear God clearly throughout and fully lean on Him to guide my steps. That most of all, He would move in this man’s life and do a work in him until he is walking in the fullness of the identity God has for him. Umm…..and also that if I am meant to move on this, I would cross paths with the guy. Or at least be told where he is so I can go find him. The city is huge, and there are lots of places where a homeless man might go when the weather cools – sometimes it would be so nice if directives from on high came with a GPS. Or a major clearing of the NYC smog so I could use the north star like the wise men, but honestly at this point I think dropping a supernatural Bradley-tracking device in my lap is the easier option.  Umm…..and since wherever Bradley is, it’s probably somewhere like the subway floor (where I normally see him – he even makes himself comfy and goes shirtless and shoeless down there) or an alley, prayers for my protection would also be appreciated. Though I have to say, there’s nowhere safer than in God’s arms!

I will keep you posted if, after all this subway-sitting and alley searching, I also need prayers to supernaturally boost the strength of my washing machine.

Meanwhile, thank you all very much, and God bless!

~Rebekah A

Revisiting Rahab

Hope in ChristBy far the post on Being Rebekah that has received the most views was a post called Being Rahab. Over a third of the views for all of our posts combined are for this one post. I believe there is a divine reason for that. At the end of that post I asked our readers to pray for the young woman the post was written about. If only a tiny fraction of our readers whispered a prayer for her, there have still been hundreds of prayers that have gone up with her in mind. That is a miracle in and of itself. Today, I have an exciting update to share with you all. I believe the combined prayers of many people have had a hand in the mighty move of God that is occurring in her life. If you have not read the original post, I encourage you to read it here so that you can share in magnifying the Lord with me.

Last week I had the opportunity to travel to the country where this woman lives and got to spend some time with her. It was a very difficult meeting at first because of the history between us. A couple of years ago she hurt me very badly by getting in the middle of, and effectively ending, the relationship I had with someone I had assumed I would marry. During this meeting with her she shared some information with me that made me realize the guy I was with, although not completely innocent, had much less control over the situation than I thought. I already knew that he had been tricked and that he had fallen into a trap of the enemy, but I didn’t know that he had so little control over the events and that his attempts to stop it from happening were ignored.

I found myself crumpled on the bathroom floor crying afresh over everything that had happened. I was very angry with her and it was only after I called upon the Lord that He began to give me a new perspective on things. He helped me to see things from her point of view. He reminded me of the unbelievable pain and abuse she has suffered in her life. Those early years in her life clouded her judgment on everything and led her down a path of unbelievable degradation. While I cried on the bathroom floor, the Lord brought healing to my heart and renewed my compassion for her. I prayed that God would meet her there and that somehow she would be saved.

Afterwards we had an amazing conversation where I was able to tell her that I forgive her and to share with her the amazing forgiveness of the Lord. I even had an opportunity to pray for her. While she doesn’t know the Lord, I am sure that she must have felt His presence in the room while I prayed. She thanked me before I left.

Now for the really good news. On Sunday, for the first time ever, she went to church! She lives in a predominantly Buddhist/Taoist area of the world and has been deeply entrenched in that tradition. She has many idols in her home, but something in her is hungry for the One True God! She wants to be set free from the bondage she has been in all her life. She took a chance that Jesus Christ is real and despite all her fear, she went to a Christian church! God touched her there. She even went to the altar and cried out to the Lord, asking for His forgiveness and she prayed, “If you are the real God, please help me.” We serve a wonderfully loving and compassionate God so I know He will not ignore this sincere prayer.

I praise the Lord for His goodness!! He is a mighty God who is able to break the barriers of tradition, culture, language, past hurts, resentments, fear, abuses, and sin to reach a soul. His love never fails! He never stops reaching for the lost.

Please continue to pray with me that this woman will come to truly know the Lord for herself. Pray that she will be saved and that her life will be transformed by the power of Jesus Christ. He is able!

In His Love,
Rebekah L.

**There’s a Part III! Read the followup to this story at: The Faith of Rahab!!

A Certain Day

“God again set a certain day, calling it ‘Today’. This He did when a long time later He spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” 

day

When it comes to certain things, I am an opportunist. If I hear of someone hiring, I fill out an application. If a friend is in town, I move things around to see them. If i want to go visit someone else, I take steps to make it happen. If there is an opening to something I want, I take it. Most of us do. We seize the opportunity and think nothing of it.

Yet when it comes to seizing the opportunity for Jesus Christ, we balk. We don’t assert ourselves.  When I was first developing a relationship with Jesus, and I had questions, I would ask Christian friends. You know the kind: “why do bad things happen to good people?” “How can Jesus be man and God at the same time?” And so on. You would not believe how vague the answers were. Across the board. I even asked pastors at times (I bounced around to different churches trying to answer this stuff), and the most answer I got was “look in the Bible.”. Well, today that would be helpful to me. But back then? Do you have any idea how many pages are in that Book? Or how small the type is? Or how many chapters and books and verses there are? If you have never picked it up in your life, do you have any idea how hard it is to start? I mean…..they could’ve named a verse to start with, at least.  This was across the board, and it was when I was coming to them with direct questions. It was so disheartening and frustrating – God is not supposed to be hard to find! I later found out that they weren’t sure how I’d take the answers – in short, I was too ‘new’ to answer. I love my friends, and we freely talk about all things Christian now….but something tells me when it comes to reaching out to people, spreading the Gospel and simply sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ and salvation, God had a slightly more proactive approach in mind.

Yet, I’m not sure I’m much different. I talk about Jesus freely among my Christian friends. I stop to give coffee or change to the homeless. I stop to make casual conversation with them. But I don’t evangelize with them much. I want to. It’s on my heart. But I wait for God to open the door….wider. And TO A POINT, this is good. You don’t want to evangelize and witness outside of God’s will. I’m not advocating AT ALL.

It’s just that I don’t search for the opportunity to talk about Jesus the way I search for opportunities with other things. And it’s not just me; I’ve noticed this trend in people in general. We will try to squeeze through an opening the size of a keyhole for a person we miss or a new potential relationship. But when it comes to being a simple witness, to love on others in a deeper way, we wait to get hit with a Holy Spirit 2-by-4 before we jump in. And that’s a bad ratio. When the world needs a keyhole to entice us (even when the world involves Christian friends and Christian relationships), but Jesus Himself needs a 2-by-4…..it’s just a bad ratio.

And so I implore you today: don’t wait for the 2-by-4.  Sure, sure. We don’t want to impose. It’s uncomfortable. The person you’re talking to isn’t a believer. We don’t want to force our beliefs on someone else. It’s not our place. There will ALWAYS be an excuse not to go deeper. But at its core and essence, God is love. You don’t have to preach (unless God puts it on your heart to do so). You just have to love on someone, beyond the usual superficial way. It’s time, as a body, to look for the spiritual keyhole too, check in with God, and try to squeeze through.

I was listening to an interview with Heidi Baker (she runs Iris Ministries with her husband), and they have started a movement called Stop for the One (you can find the site here). It involves stopping for the One who is the One…..and then stopping for the one He puts in front of you. Their challenge is to every believer out there: to stop for one person per day. Help the elderly woman across the street. Help somebody in a parking lot. Stop for a homeless person. Stop and actually love them, with the deep love that God has for them. When you walk away from them, they should feel loved in a deeper way than they did before. Because God loves them in a deeper way than they felt before.

And today I issue the same challenge to you.  Be an opportunist for Christ. Stop for somebody every day. Go out of your way to love. Today. God set a certain day, and He called it today.

If you want to see the interview, here it is:

Stop For The One

Make a point to stop today, and be blessed!

~Rebekah A