Tag Archive | Christ

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.

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The Mirror

Mirror

Every morning I get dressed and then head over to the full length mirror to make sure I am presentable. I smooth down stray hairs, straighten my collar or make sure my skirt is even. I sometimes find I have to try again with a different outfit because the first one made me look too old, too frumpy, or the usual culprit – too fat. I never thought much about this because I’ve always carried too much weight and I’m quite used to feeling down on myself for it.

Recently my sister and my mother came to visit me. I have been living in this apartment for several years, but this was the first time they had seen it.  At one point my sister caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. “Ugh!” she said. I assumed that like most of us, she wasn’t happy with some aspect of herself that she saw in her reflection. However, her next comment surprised me. She said, “How can you stand this mirror?” She beckoned my mother to come over. My mother then stood in front of the mirror and had a similar reaction. “Oh, this mirror is terrible. It makes me look so fat. It’s like a fun-house mirror!”

I was shocked! The first reaction for both of them was not to think that they were flawed, but rather that the mirror was flawed! I realized that when I had gone to a friend’s house I indeed felt thinner looking in her full-length mirror, but rather than think I looked good, I assumed her mirror was a cast-off from a retail store that had purposely been designed to make one look thinner than they really are. I presumed that my mirror showed my true shape and that my friend’s mirror was the one in error. It never occurred to me that it could be my mirror that was reflecting a falsehood.

It got me thinking about how we all perceive things differently and that we are easily persuaded by the images that we project onto ourselves. Is it possible that my mother and sister routinely see themselves as better looking than they truly are? Perhaps I regularly see myself as looking worse than I really do? And in either case, why do we value ourselves differently based upon the reflection of a piece of glass? How do these perceptions affect the way we carry ourselves in our day to day lives? Why do I allow the impression of a few extra pounds to define anything about me? What is it about my sister and mother that caused them to blame the mirror where I blamed myself? How much do I allow my perception of the image I see in the mirror to hinder the true reflection I wish to present to the world – the reflection of Christ?

What are your thoughts?

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

This Too Shall Pass

girl_on_stairs

I’ve been struggling a bit over the last couple of weeks. For the most part, I’ve kept this completely to myself. I tend to share the good things going on in my life and hide the not so good things. Last week when it was my turn to post on Being Rebekah, I just posted a simple prayer because I wasn’t ready to let the blogging community know about my struggle. Indeed, I’m still not ready.

But as things have a way of doing; my struggle has come to the light. I whispered a text to a friend to let her in. God Himself whispered a word of knowledge to several others. I’ve alluded to these struggles before on such posts as: Confident in His Love, Disquieted, and When Sadness Creeps in.

The amazing thing is that since things have come out into the open, God has rallied a wonderful support team around me. They have offered godly counsel, a shoulder to cry on, prayer and have even fasted for me. I am truly blessed. And yet, I’m still struggling. I feel incredibly guilty about that.

They give me good advice: you need to worship through it, you need to praise through it, you need to choose God, you must choose to hold on Him, don’t try to overcome by your own strength; you need to rely on Jesus etc. etc. It’s all wonderful advice, it truly is. But what I hear is: You’re screwing it up, you’re doing it wrong, you’re doing it wrong, you’re doing it wrong, you’re doing it wrong. The problem is not with the advice, the problem is with me.

They are all working so hard to support me with love, prayers, and fasting that I feel pressured to report that things are magically all better. I feel if I admit that I’m still struggling that I’m letting them down. I’m failing despite everyone’s best efforts. I owe them better and I owe God better.

I don’t know what the solution is. I’m not writing with my grand spiritual revelation on how I got beyond my struggle with the help of the Lord. I have no idea how to get beyond it and this blog post is simply my attempt at not sugar coating it the way that I’m tempted to do. Here’s what I do know: through Jesus, this too shall pass.

In His Love,

Rebekah L

Ambassadors for Christ

ambassadors

This week has been a tough week for the United States. Between the bombing in Boston and the explosion in Texas, many people in this country are grieving and recovering from tragedy. For those of us in New England, the tragedy is still unfolding.

Personally, I know several people who were running in the marathon this past Monday, several more who were near the finish line cheering on the racers, plus I have friends and a couple of relatives that live within blocks of where the bombings occurred. Today, most of Boston and many of the surrounding communities were in lock-down. Although my place of work was open, many of the businesses around us were not. Several of our employees could not come in to work because they live in the lock down zone and were ordered to stay in their homes. Others could not come in because the entire MBTA (our public transportation system) was shut down. Even the taxi services weren’t running for a large part of the day. Although I live a bit outside of the area that is on lock down, I must have seen close to thirty police cars on my way to work. A co-worker sent me a picture of a soldier patrolling the street right outside her window. It is the type of thing that one might expect to see in a war zone, but not in our own backyards.

Yet in all of this, heroism and selflessness abound. It is important to remember that the love of God continues to flow in calamity. He continues to reach out through the hands and feet of countless ordinary citizens; volunteers, donators, EMTs, first responders, nurses, physicians, surgeons, and law enforcement. For every psychopath or terrorist, there are hundreds of compassionate hearts that are moved to action. We have all read the stories of every day citizens who came together to offer food, blankets or a hug to someone lost in their grief. We’ve seen the pictures of untrained hands pinching off the femoral artery to keep a victim from bleeding out. Perhaps we saw the list online of the thousands of people who offered their homes and a hot meal to those displaced in the tragedy. And let us not forget the police officers who ran towards the location of the blast (not knowing if there were more bombs that would go off), while everyone around them ran away. Or what about the doctor who was exhausted from having run and finished the 26.2 mile race? After the bombs went off he immediately ran to Mass General Hospital and within 90 seconds of arriving was scrubbed in to surgery. 48 hours later, that surgeon was still performing surgeries for the victims of the marathon. He was in surgery almost non-stop for over 48 hours after he had just run a marathon! There are heroes among us. Real people, living real lives. Tired, hurting, fallible people, who go beyond their normal physical and emotional limitations to reach out to those around them.

Those acts of heroism do not negate the grief or right the wrong, but they are reminders of love and humanity. Reminders we desperately need at times like this. When we grieve, God grieves with us. I believe He feels the pain that we feel. When we are hurting, He hurts with us. When Jesus walked the earth, He was filled with compassion and time and time again, He reached out to touch the sick and hurting. He brought restoration to people.

As believers, it is our job to represent Jesus on this earth. The enemy wants us to be immobilized by fear, but God wants us to be mobilized to serve!

People can serve without knowing Christ, but can we truly know Christ without serving? If we claim to know Him, we should be on the front lines of service. When horror strikes close to home, it is then that our friends and neighbors need us the most. I want to encourage all of us to serve one another in humility and love. Reach out to the hurting, donate to the destitute, offer a couch to the displaced, pray for the grieving. Be His hands and His feet and His mouth and His listening ear.

Be an ambassador for Christ.

In His Love,

Rebekah L

Praying with a Muslim

love_is_the_answer

For the last year or so I have been developing a relationship with a Muslim co-worker. She regularly comes to my office to share her fears and frustrations. She has slowly come to trust me. Just as I know she is devout in adhering to her faith, she knows I am a faithful Christian. In some ways this has been a point of commonality between us. While our two faiths are vastly different from each other, they are both also vastly different from secular Western society and so in our own way, we are each a bit of an outcast here. I think this is part of what drew her to me; she can see that I dress and act differently than the world. What she does not yet realize, is that it is not me, but rather Christ drawing her to Him.winning muslims

I have desired and prayed for her to get a revelation of who Jesus is. At the same time, I have been careful to allow things to progress organically in our relationship. I am aware of many of the misconceptions that Muslims have about Christians (i.e. they think we worship more than one god) and because of this, straight preaching won’t work. Certainly Bible thumping won’t work. She needs to see Christ active in my life. She needs to see the love of Jesus poured out in my life. She needs to see that a true Christian will show care and concern to a Muslim.

A few years ago when I was witnessing to Buddhist friends, God told me to worry less about what to say and concern myself more with what not to say. Bashing someone else’s religion rarely works. We don’t need to disparage what someone else believes, but instead we just need to show Jesus. Live Jesus. And when necessary, speak Jesus. Rather than cutting down what someone else believes, just share what you believe. Share who He is in word and deed to anyone who is willing to listen.

This week, an amazing thing has happened between my Muslim co-worker and I. It may be considered somewhat controversial and no doubt not everyone will agree with my actions, but I believe that God has opened a door for her to feel His presence in a way that she would not otherwise be able to.

As a devout Muslim, my cmuslim girlo-worker must pray five times a day at certain times every day. Usually at least two of these times will occur during her working hours. Yesterday, she came to my office to ask me to open up the conference room for her so that she could do her prayers. When I went to unlock the conference room, I found that it was already occupied, as were some of the nearby offices. Realizing she had nowhere else to pray I offered to allow her to use my office and said that I would come back after she was done. She felt bad about making me leave my office so she said to me, “You could stay and pray with me if you want.” Perhaps she did not expect me to take her up on this highly unusual suggestion, but I have been praying for God to open a door for her to get to know Him. I saw this as God opening the door. So I said to her, “I’ll pray with you, but I’m going to pray to Jesus.” She responded by saying, “Okay, Mama (she uses mama as a term of endearment), you pray to Jesus.” So we did. Side by side, the Muslim praying to Allah and the Christian praying in the name of Jesus.

Never in my life did I expect to pray beside a Muslim like this, but God works in mysterious ways. The difference is that while she went through her rituals of different postures and preset phrases, I was praying for her salvation. I was praying for God to intercede in her life. I was praying for Jesus to reveal Himself to her.

Afterwards she told me that what had happened she could never tell her family, but that it was very special. Muslims will often pray by themselves, but consider it to be an added blessing to pray with other Muslims. Most would consider it a serious affront to Allah to allow a Christian to call on the name of Jesus in front of them during their sacred prayer times. What happened here was huge. Bigger than mere words can explain.

Again today we had the opportunity to pray together. Afterward she reiterated that her family could never know about this, and hinted to me not to let any of our co-workers know. Then with a smile she said she would see me again tomorrow before slipping out my office door. It is clear that while this may be slightly outside the comfort zone for me, it is downright radical for her. And yet, when I offered to leave her alone to pray, she again invited me to stay. God is doing something here.

When I say we prayed together, I use the word “together” very loosely. It is more like we are praying at the same time, rather than praying together. But it is my prayer that she will feel the difference. I’m praying she will feel a move of the spirit when we pray together that she has never felt when she prayed on her own. So while we may not exactly be praying together, I believe she can be influenced by the Christ-centered prayers going on right next to her.

I suppose it is somewhat like two people going to the same restaurant. They may arrive at the same time, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be eating together. No, they are seated at different tables and they order different items off the menu. But if they are seated close enough together, perhaps one of the diners will catch the aroma of the other diner’s food. Perhaps, their mouth will start watering and they will find they have a hunger for the other diner’s meal, even while their own food sits in front of them. Perhaps, one day, they will venture out and order that inviting dish and find it so satisfying that they never go back to their old meal.

Dear Jesus,

I pray that you would get a hold of this woman’s heart. I pray that this door you have opened will allow her to develop a hunger to truly know You. Lord, I ask you to protect me and my co-worker from any traps the enemy may try to set for us through these interactions. May You always be the reason, hope, and purpose of all our endeavors. Thank you for your love and care for the lost and misguided sheep in this world. Teach us to be laborers to reach out to a lost and dying world. I love you.

Rebekah L.

Leaven of the Sadducees

Matthew 16:6: “Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.”

Jesus’ disciples thought He was talking about actual leaven but Jesus rebukes them and they realized he was talking about the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees. I think as a Christian, there is a temptation to look like we’re living for Christ but not really.  Even now, I sometimes feel like I’m starting to revert back to my old way of just sounding like one who loves Christ, and looking like one, but I need to bring back that unquenchable passion for Him.  I don’t want to live a mediocre life where He isn’t my everything.  I get distracted by the guys, by med school, things I need to learn, movies, even sudoku.  Have I been keeping up with my BREAD (Bible Reading Enriches Any Day)… yes…  but do I do it with a hunger to know Him better? Have I said prayers? Somewhat but not with the time or intensity of when I was in my ordeal.  Do I look for Him in everything I do? Honestly I don’t feel like it is almost EVERYTHING as it was when without Him in almost every breath I took, I felt I couldn’t survive.  That intense pain birthed a hunger and thirst for Him like I never had before.  I hope I can refind that intense, deep, passionate need for Him again because I never want to go through such intense pain and sorrow just to ground myself better in Him again.

Jesus, 

Help me refind that intense passion for You.  Help me rededicate myself to You.  I feel like it’s just been circles lately.  I’ll regain a little ground and then lose it.  Help me to rid myself of this leaven once and for all for just a little goes through the whole lump! I need You Jesus more than anything else in this world.  If this means forgetting the guys, then so be it. I need and want You more than them.  I’ll focus on You and see how You handle them being in my life… should they decide to stop talking to me, so be it.  Should they decide to continue on this path and even deepen things by praying more with me, so be it.  I put it all in Your hands. I love You Jesus with everything in me and all my heart. 

Rebekah M.