Tag Archive | religion

“A Faith That Breathes”

Yes, I am writing my very first blog book review! A Faith That Breathes, by Michael and Tiffany Ross, is a book that was lent to me by a friend, when I was having a rough time this fall. It’s part devotional, part journal, and for me it was perfect. It’s written by women (though compiled by a woman and her husband), for women, and every day is a new topic to think about. I read it with a journal on hand, and definitely recommend you do the same. Each day has a written entry, followed by a related interview from well-known Christian women. It’s instant solidarity and instant encouragement, and for me, I couldn’t have received it at a better time.

Before I moved to NYC, I was surrounded by Christian friends. Any time I wanted to chat or pray or worship, I had someone to do that with. It was great. I had friends I’d meet with for dinner, and hours later we’d still be talking about how God is moving. Rebekah M has posted about the power of sisterhood; for me, it’s been a vital part of my spiritual growth. I wouldn’t be the same Christian without it.

Since moving to NYC, I’ve been more on my own. I can pray with my friends over the phone or skype, but it’s just not the same. I miss my home, I miss my friends, I miss these talks, I miss these prayers….basically I just miss my girl time. I depended on it before, and while I am growing here, I really feel the loss of those connections I had.

Enter A Faith That Breathes. This book, by  has all the girl time you could ever want, in paperback form – let’s face it, our friends aren’t portable. But these ladies are, and they are a close second! Every entry is thought-provoking; they write about their journeys to certain realizations, periods of growth, things God’s revealed to them. Each one has Bible verses that relate to it, and there is a section in each that gives a broader view of what this particular topic looks like when it’s walked out. There’s even a chance to reflect on what they wrote about and how it relates specifically to you. I started reading it when I was feeling some distance from God, and could feel myself reading the Bible less, praying for shorter amounts of time. That’s a slippery slope, to say the least. This book singlehandedly gave me the jumpstart I needed to get grounded in God again, and get my focus back. It was like having an instant group of friends who knew me and related to me – without ever meeting me.

So if you need to kickstart your faith or if you’ve been in a spiritual rut, definitely check out this book. Hopefully it will speak to your heart as strongly as it has been to mine! And if you just need some girl time, don’t worry – they’ve got you covered there too.

And for you men…sorry. Find your own book.

God bless!

~Rebekah A

When God Doesn’t Answer

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts; neither are your ways my ways, declared the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” ~ Isaiah 55:8-9

In the wake of Rebekah M’s great post about bringing new life to this world, I have some sadder news to report. Earlier this week, a friend of mine sent out a prayer request – his brother’s 17-yr-old girlfriend was pregnant. To make matters worse, her father was going to press charges against him for statutory rape. The only way he wouldn’t press charges was if she got an abortion. To make matters worse still, this was not the first time he faced this predicament. I don’t have all the details and I’m not sure if he was threatened with criminal charges in the past, but I do think he had an ex-girlfriend who got an abortion.

Clearly, this situation needed all kinds of prayer. In a word, I think Scooby Doo said it best when he said, “ruh-roh” (yes I work with kids). So, I prayed all day. I prayed hard. I prayed and I asked everybody else I knew to pray with me. We prayed for the brother, the girlfriend, her father, the unborn child. We prayed for hearts to be softened, repentence to occur, mercy to be given, the baby to just be saved no matter what it took, and so on. We prayed for revelations of God’s true and pure love, real love, that they would stop confusing it with this false version that got them into so much trouble. We prayed for all kinds of other things too. The couple wanted to keep the baby, and if they didn’t keep it, my friend (the one requesting the prayer) was offering to adopt. It was a win-win – she was 17 and pregnant by mistake, they weren’t ready to raise a child, while he already has several children, he and his wife were talking about making their family bigger anyway, the baby would stay with someone biologically related – no-brainer. So we prayed into that as well, and if it wasn’t God’s will, then for Him to send an adoptive home their way.

After a day of prayer and my heart just breaking for this unborn baby and for the position this 17-yr-old girl was in, I started to feel strongly that the key to this was the couple. That they needed to be the ones to pray. They needed to repent and submit and pray together, or this wouldn’t work. So I went on the computer to send that message to my friend, and I got word that it was done. The abortion had happened. This got me thinking, what went wrong? If I had acted sooner at all, could I have saved this baby?

I had my guesses, but I looked into it a little more to be sure. I was expecting, and I was right, to read a lot about how God won’t answer prayers that don’t correspond with His will, or if we don’t truly believe in His ability. Yes, God tells us He will answer our prayers if we believe that He can (“If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer” ~ Matthew 21:22). I have seen Him transform a woman’s heart regarding abortion before; I have no doubt that this problem is not too big for Him. So, I believed Him for it – everyone who prayed did. And clearly, abortion is not in God’s will ever. Repentance, love, and wisdom are always in His will, so that wasn’t the issue either.

Then I read about if we have unconfessed sin, it can come between us and God. This is a tricky one, but I’m aware of it. Before I get into really intense prayer sessions, I do typically spend some time with God, so that if there is something I’m harboring that’s keeping me from God, I can get rid of it and get on with my prayer. I did that this time too. Unless God was holding back information from me, that wasn’t the issue. If you’re not in the habit of doing that, start. I highly recommend it.

However, that doesn’t mean that the 17-yr-old and my friend’s brother didn’t have unconfessed sin in their hearts. And wouldn’t you know, the very next thing I read was a paragraph about how it had to be the right people praying. That confirmed my hunch. We can pray for people, and often our prayers do get answered. However, we can’t pray their prayers for them. We can’t submit their problems to God on their behalf, so that God can take them over and fix the situations. There comes a point when they need to do that for themselves, and this abortion was a painful reminder of that.

God gave us all free will, and our free will is the one limitation God placed on Himself. He cannot move in us against our will. When I prayed for this couple and this father, when we all prayed for them, all He could do was knock on the doors to their hearts. If they’d opened the door the slightest bit, given Him the slightest crack to move through, He could have moved mightily. They didn’t. They probably wanted to, but were probably consumed with the problems at hand – bearing down on all of the horrible what-ifs and contemplating what they could do about it – rather than giving those problems to God to see what He could do about it. It’s a natural instinct, I suppose. When we feel our world slipping away, we don’t want to throw our hands up and let it go, especially if we don’t fully know God – we hold on even tighter.

I guess this is a reminder to check in with yourself and check in with God when these situations come up, to see if you’re meant to be used in a counseling role. In my case, I didn’t actually know the couple, so all I could do is pray hard and pass on messages to the people I did know, as God dictated. I could have acted faster, but I asked God about it, and even repented it. He said it wasn’t my fault, but it’s something to definitely keep in mind for the future.

That said, there is still a lot to be prayed for. A baby, a wanted baby, has been aborted. My friend’s brother and his girlfriend are grieving, upset, questioning God, and the enemy has them exactly where he wants them to say “look, God didn’t answer you, what’s the point of believing?” There is guilt being felt by all parties, there is anger, there is regret….there is a whole gamut of things. So, even though our previous prayers didn’t work, I humbly ask that you keep these three people in prayer, and pray that their hearts would soften and that they would see a revelation of who God really is – so they’d know who they’ve been blocking out and would finally let Him in. Pray that they would find love, peace, and mercy in His pure beautiful light, and that they would finally know what those things really are. Pray as God leads you. In advance, I thank you for joining me here. If three people come to truly know the Lord because of this, that baby will not have died in vain.

Jesus, this is a storm. This is tragic, and it’s a baby I prayed so hard to save. I really believed You would, since I saw You do it before. I lost sight of HOW you answer prayers, and I’m sorry for that. I trust You God, that Your ways are so much greater than our ways, and I know that You can use this situation, however tragic, to reveal Yourself and ultimately work for the good of all three of these people. I submit my disappointment in You God, and I repent it. Instead, now I rejoice, because I know that this ISN’T beyond You God, and You DO have it all in Your hands. I trust You to move God, I trust You to take care of these three people, and I thank You for everything You’re going to do. Jesus, I love You with all of my heart.

Thank you all, and God bless!

~Rebekah A

Being Anna

There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer. And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.” ~Luke 3:36-38

My last post was about seeking God and not His promised rewards; those will come on their own as God sees fit, but our priority as Christians needs to be on God Himself.

The story of Anna the prophetess exemplifies this. She was married for seven years. That’s it – just seven years before her husband died. Marriage and parenthood are supposed to be two relationships, marked by unconditional love, that emulate God’s love for His people. We can’t fully love the way God does, but in these two relationships, if we do it right we come as close as we can.

However, Anna was denied these things. She was denied a loving marriage. The bible doesn’t mention any children; since other details about her life and family are mentioned, I’m assuming she had no children. But if you know for sure please tell me! Regardless, most girls dream of growing up and getting married. Especially back then. Anna got that life, and then it was taken away from her.

Did she get bitter, or turn on God? No. She may have for awhile, I’m certain she was hurt; but she opened herself up to be healed by God and to grow in her walk with Him. Ultimately, she spent her life not on a human family or any earthly thing; she spent her life with God. Granted, she was brought to a place where there was nothing left for her on earth. Facing that, she turned her desires and her focus to Heaven. Her temporary home was empty, so her sights were set on her eternal home. We aren’t all brought to such a place of despair; sometimes we have to shift that focus on our own.

But look what happens when we do! Anna, at age 84, having spent most of her life as a widow, was essentially living in the temple and spending her waking hours in fasting and prayer. She worshiped and prayed to God for the sake of being with Him – not to gain a reward, but just to be with Him. Her perspective was right, and guess what happened? God rewarded her anyway! Anna spent so much time worshiping in the temple that she was in the temple when Jesus Christ was brought in to be dedicate. Anna’s there praying, desiring God, and then sees Him as an 8-day-old infant. Not only did she see Him, but she knew Him for who He was. She had been blessed with prophesy and her time with God honed her discernment. She knew exactly who she was looking at, and she knew what He would ultimately do. She had the chance to speak over Him. God literally rewarded her with Himself.

Jesus, we thank you that you are so faithful and giving of Yourself to us, when we just focus on You. Help us to keep our priorities straight and keep our eyes on You and Your light. Help us to see You as the true and ultimate reward, and to see anything you bless us with here on earth as a bonus.

God bless!

~Rebekah A