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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.

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The Filthy Mattress

mattress

Every day on my lunch break I take a walk. I find it’s good to interrupt my otherwise sedentary desk job with a little blood circulation and fresh air. There is a strip mall just down the road from my company so I usually walk to it and go around the back of the plaza before looping around front and back up the street to resume work.

A couple of weeks ago as I was walking around the back of these buildings I saw that someone had thrown a mattress out behind one of the stores. It appeared to be clean and fresh – it looked brand new!  On that particular day, it was warm and sunny with an ever so slight breeze. As I walked by the mattress, it looked so enticing. I thought, wouldn’t it be nice to just lie on a comfy mattress and watch the clouds drift by as the sun warmed my face in the cool breeze? It seemed like the perfect way to enjoy the beautiful weather and rest and relax. Of course not knowing where the mattress came from, I didn’t entertain the thought for long.

Day by day, as my walk took me by this mattress, I began to notice changes. After just a day it started collecting stray dirt kicked up by the wind, and falling leaves from a nearby maple tree. Within a few days, the corners started darkening slightly. After a day of rain, I noticed it had lingering water stains after everything around it had dried. It wasn’t long before the wet, dirty mattress became a breeding ground for all kinds of critters. The edges of the once bright mattress became black with mold and fungus. At some point, an animal evidently ripped a hole in the center and made off with some of the stuffing, the remainders of which lay strewn about the ground beside it. The once enticing mattress quickly fell into a state of filth and decay.

As I walked by this mattress for perhaps the dozenth time, the Lord spoke to my heart and said, “This is what neglect will do”.  You see, the mattress hadn’t done anything “wrong”; it simply sat there as mattresses have a tendency to do. In terms of time, it was still new; only a couple of weeks had passed. But in terms of quality, it was far from what we would describe as “new”. Indeed it now presents itself as used and worn out. Worse than that, it is soiled and repulsive. The problem is that it was neglected and left unprotected in the elements. On that first day, the elements had been friendly and inviting and did not seem to pose a threat to its integrity, but in short-order they destroyed the defenseless mattress. Had the mattress remained inside where it would have been shielded from the wind, dirt, rain, and critters, it likely would have lasted for years. Without protection, it lasted only days.

In that moment the Lord reminded me that it is imperative that I remain under the umbrella of His protection. It might be tempting to go out into the world to find some kind of relaxation, but it is an illusion. What looks inviting at first glance can quickly destroy us if we don’t have the proper guards in place. We must guard our hearts and minds. We must take heed where we go and what we leave exposed to the elements. The Bible asks, “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation” (Hebrews 2:3)? So let us strive not to neglect the things of the Lord. Let us hold them precious and protect them. As we embrace the teachings and safeguards that the Lord has put in place to protect us, He is providing us with shelter and demonstrating His unfailing love.

In His Love,

Rebekah L.

The Eraser

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.  -John 15:13

As some of you know, I am in my last semester of Bible College. I still have a couple of months left, but I’ve been thinking about the journey God has taken me on during this time.

What an incredible privilege it is to serve God. As I look back over my last four years in Bible College I am awed at how God has moved. When I began I wasn’t even sure I could afford one semester, but He has provided for me to go through the entire program.

Much more importantly than that, He has grown me in ways that I could never have predicted when I enrolled four short years ago.  He has truly taught me that He is the God of LOVE. Four years ago I knew intellectually (through the Word of God) that He is love, but now I know through experience. It isn’t that He hadn’t shown it before; He has showered me with love all my life, but I couldn’t see it before because I hadn’t learned to trust Him. He is teaching me day by day that I can depend on Him. He will never leave me or forsake me.

He has manifested His love a thousand different ways throughout these last few years. He has revealed it to me through His faithfulness, His encouragement, and especially through His chastisement. He cares about where we are as individuals. We are never beyond His reach.

Where I used to doubt love, His love erased doubt. Thank You, Jesus!

In His Love,

Rebekah L.

They will know we are Christians by our Love

“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” -John 13:34-35

Tonight I nearly incited a riot on Facebook. I put up a status basically stating that I hate the word till (preferring the word until). I thought it was written in such a way that people could tell I was joking around and not that I was harboring actual hateful feelings. I was talking about a word after all. A rather innocuous 14th century word. The status created a firestorm of controversy. The way that one of my friends responded you would think I wrote that I hate a member of her family or something. She began talking about the power of the tongue and blessing and cursing and sent me a private message saying that more people would be in the church if I watched my mouth more. I was flabbergasted. It was a joke! About a word! Really, it was just me expressing a pet-peeve of mine, but I miscalculated how it would be received.

Several friends came to my defense since they recognized the intent of my post. Unfortunately, this resulted in my Christian friends arguing back and forth on my status. This made me incredibly sad. All I could think about is all my non-Christian friends who were reading it. I couldn’t help but think that seeing Christians lashing out at each other over something so petty would be more likely to keep them out of church than the fact that I used the word hate in my status. Perhaps I shouldn’t have used that word; it is certainly a learning experience for me; but oh, how I wish we Christians could learn to disagree in love. I implore all my brothers and sisters to please please consider how people in the world perceive us when we attack each other like this. Even in cases where one of us might be theologically or doctrinally wrong, we need to be gentle and conscientious when discussing these matters in front of the lost.

In the end I opted to post the song below as a gentle reminder. It seems to have worked as the woman who messaged me then apologized. I wrote back stating there were no hard feelings and I would be more careful about how I worded things in the future. So far the riot appears to have been quelled. I am disturbed that a religiously and politically neutral post could so quickly spiral out of control, but that is the world we live in these days. I take comfort that there was peaceful resolution. As Christians I would like to encourage us all to strive to avoid offense, turn the other cheek, and love each other better.

In His Love,

Rebekah L

 

The Fruit Just Happens

I have been very disheartened lately by the new TV show Preachers of LA. I haven’t watched it. I probably won’t, so if the previews are misleading and the show is actually a positive thing for Christianity, someone be sure to let me know. I saw a preview, and this was more than enough to keep me away, in which one of them was driving a fancy car and another had a baby out of wedlock. I heard a quote saying “it’s ok to be saved, sanctified, and sexual” (the pastor saying it is a single man). Yikes. Lord have mercy on the Christians of California! I have many atheist/agnostic friends and this show seems like such a misrepresentation of who Christ is and what Christianity means. I keep thinking how difficult it is to witness to my friends, and how this is just reinforcing every negative idea they had about the church. And in their case, salvation is absolutely at stake….this show literally has the power to trade salvation for its own bottom line. Souls for money. Heartbreaking. Humanity has stooped to a new low.

So I have been bummed out about that, and also suffering a major case of writers’ blog, when my hope was officially renewed by this one clip. I was listening to this (Heidi Baker giving a word) today, and it really resonated with me. It doesn’t matter what happens to us and what suffering we go through (in her case, malaria and being shot at – yikes!); there is joy, pure joy, in his presence. Moving in our own strength is exhausting. Moving in Him is beautiful intimacy. Intimacy is the goal. Falling in love with Him all over again, falling deeper and deeper, is the goal. And the fruit just happens. In Him, in His holy and infinite presence, love bears fruit. So today my prayer is simply this: Lord, draw me in.

Igniting the Passion

I’ve been noticing lately just how much we do to interact with other people. When it comes to our loved ones, we make time to call or we put things aside to take their calls. We stay in touch via text or Facebook. We send each other stories, memories, pictures that remind us of that person. When we don’t hear from them or haven’t in awhile, we miss them.

And it got me thinking – what would the church look like if we treated God the same way? How would we as individuals look? How would our lives look?

Because honestly, how often do we think like that? How often do you go out of your way to make time to talk to Him? Go out of your way to take His call? Go through your day and see little things throughout that remind you of God or that you want to tell Him about later? If you haven’t talked to Him all day, do you miss Him? Does talking to Him put a smile on your face, or is it just something we do? Do you get giddy with Him the way you would with, say, a crush? Do we talk to Him because we need Him, or because we love Him?

God doesn’t want to be kept at a distance. He doesn’t want to be an afterthought, a crutch, or an obligation. He wants to be everything. He loves us, even to the most minute details of our lives,  He loves us passionately and wants our passionate love in return. Passionate. Love. He is the lover of our souls and as such desires our company and our time – He delights in it. Do we delight in Him?

I challenge you to work on closing that gap. See how many areas of your life you can include Him on. Not because you have a problem you need to pray about, but because you love Him and want Him around. It’s time to ignite your passion for Him (or grow it, as the case may be). He will meet you every step of the way!

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!!