Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Since my post before the last it has been awhile since I've shared any thoughts. Since we're coming into this new year of 2010 I am reflecting on my 2009 and hope for the future that will bring in this new year. I know the most popular resolutions are to lose an insurmountable weight or make more money but what else might be worthy of a resolution? To me I'm thinking about being closer to God and becoming a stronger believer. I'm praying and wondering what kinds of happy times or heartships He would have for me to cleave even closer to Him through. I know its really easy to spiral downwards when your going through a troubling time. We're so easily pleased with ourselves when things go our way but immediately fall into a pity party when they don't. I think if we let our flesh get the better of us we miss valuable lessons and closeness with God. Its always good to have small goals like weight loss, especially for health benefits but what would be the resolution of your life? I know after God showed me His truth I became a new me and my life being lost had come to an end. I had a new life starting in this world and my only resolution my only objective... was Him. He is all that matters to me in this world. Yes, before you ask yourself, I do love my husband and family but after they're gone what else will always remain? God. God says in the bible to count it all joy to suffer. Just look at Job. Such wise christians to learn through that God has given us. But we're to count it joy, I know in the past its been hard for me to count it joy when I've suffered, but if your cleaving to Him and praying for His will and glory in the situation whatever it may be and your trusting in Him it'll become clear. Its not about getting YOUR way when you pray to God, its about HIS way. I pray for HIS will to be done, not for Him to work it so I get what I want in the end. My resolution is to become an even stronger christian this next year and that God would strengthen me in His word in the joyous times and the not so joyous ones. I urge you all to make a resolution of your lives not for just a year, and make it for Him.
"Happy New Year"
I realized tonight as I was talking/ thinking with my husband. We were discussing God and the lost. I found it interesting that a lot of the lost have been exposed to God and his truth in some small way and that is where He instills a guilt of sorts inside. With some people guilt breeds into this beast that eats at you until you know you need to make things right, but with God its different.
I know God hardens mens hearts. He gives examples throughout the bible, like take Moses performing the miracles of God's power in front of the pharaoh. The pharoah saw the power and wonderment of God but he couldn't admit it he had to keep making his wizards of sorts to remake the same miracles mumbling their incantations and working their dust. As sinners too we can see this in our lives or lives of others. I think to myself why can't they know it if they can see it. I believe as God has shown in the bible its because he hardens them to a point. He brings them close enough to know somethings there in the dark but not the light to see it. And like we naturally have the tendency to do to things of which we cannot understand, we hate it or Him. I t was made clear to me tonight why this may need to take place though. You may wonder, well why does God in a way play or toy with the lost like this. Like everything God does its for His will. I believe that on the day of judgement, which God's judgement is final there are no appeals, the greatest of pain for the lost will be the fact that God can show them that in their life they were exposed to His truth but did not heed His warnings and glorify Him denying self. I think to myself what would make that pain as the bible describes it as eternal flames and nashing of teeth greater, to me the greatest pain would be that my eyes were open to see that God's truth had been revealed but that I wasn't able to go back and make things right again with God. His judgement is final. That would be deep for me I know. This might seem really basic to some of you but tonight it all kind of came together to me. I love how even the smallest or simplest things God can make new and so deep. He truely is an awesome God. His power, sovereignty, and love know no bounds!
Friday, December 18, 2009
Today I was thinking about when I first became aware of God's truth in His word. I was only dating my now husband about 7-8 months I think and I was 21 or almost 21..:) Its a shame our memories fade so quickly. Any how, I remember back then how much I loved Ben. Ben is my husband for some of you who may not know that already. :) He's such a fun loving goofy guy. I was immediately attracted to him back when we met at 13 years old. I'll never forget he was sitting on a picnic table at the fair grounds imitating the parking directors outside the grounds into his walkie talkie...lol :) He has such a sweet side though, not many people see the very tender side often, I think its a manly type macho thing.lol :) Its very hard not to fall in love with Ben and boy did I. I, like many other young girls, caught the love bug majorly. After a bit of craziness(I'll save that for another story..lol) I was hooked. We were so in love. We would stay up late taking for hours on the phone. I bet if you think hard you can remember young love and when you first were dating your other half too. Its a very happy time.
But as we are naturally inclined to be, we get selfish even when it comes to love. I loved my Ben more than anything. I use to tell him that I'd walk through fire for him. I'd do anything in my power for him. I became a bit obsessed. Which many young girls do. When I was first learning and seeing God's truth though I learned many things I never realized before. And at the time I ,even knowing the truth, didn't want to face it. I didn't want to face that I was obsessed a bit with Ben. I didn't see a problem with it at the time either. I remember the couple that counseled us talking about making God the center of our relationship and I was all for that. Most people who claim to be Christians would agree with this too. But I didn't ,and I don't think many others do too, understand what that really means. Most people as well as myself back then would have told you it meant both partners being christian,going to church every Sunday/possibly Wednesday, and doing activities within the church. But thats not what keeping Christ center means.
We're naturally in our sin, very selfish beings. We want all the glory and are full of pride. So when I tell you this next bit keep an open mind, because this was very difficult for me to understand and with prayer I eventually got it. Its not about us. Four little words that can be taken literally or not but they are true and very important for everyone to understand.
Think about all that God has done for you and me as believers. He sent His son to take the punishment for every sin you'll ever commit your entire life. His son, perfect and sinless. He didn't deserve the suffering He endured but He did it for me. He came to serve me. God through His son made it possible for me to really be a believer and one day reunite with God. Thats a very powerful thing to understand and it takes God working in your heart to get it. Through this amazing work of God through His son we are also taught a invaluable lesson. That as He has served us we are to serve also. Pretty intense right? But if thats what we are called to do then it also rubs us the wrong way. Like I said before we are very selfish due to our sin. To serve someone it requires you to deny yourself. Thats something as a sinner you don't want to do. It takes away from yourself, and every decision I made in my life up until the point God called me was for myself. Everything we do is in benefit to ourselves in one way or another. But once God softens you , you see your purpose.
Then comes what I'm really trying to say: If God wants His own glory and has called us to serve what does that require for you to do that? Love. Many people would say,sure I love God. I believe in Him. But ask yourself again, "Do I really love God'? And Why? I did and at the time as I had said in a few blogs back, all I had were empty words. How can I really love God if He hasn't unveiled my eyes to see why? Because thats what it really takes. You have to pray for that desire sometimes before He can give it to you.
So back to my beginning of this blog. I was telling you all how much I loved Ben and how I was obsessed. If I can say I truely love God then what does that mean? Does that mean you love Him a little bit, or occasionally or only when you feel you get what you want? Let me ask you this, how much do you love your parents? Your spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend? Your family? Do you love God more than them or them more than God? The answer to this question can change the whole course of your life and every decision you make. I know back then my answer was I love Ben more. Ben was my world, he was everything to me. Then I realized that I'm here to serve, not Ben not my family not my friends, only God. God loved me so much He put me above His son. Had I ever shown in my life that kind of dedication and love for God? I hadn't. I realized that Ben though I love him, he's a sinner too. I can say now that I do love God above Ben. God comes first before me or anyone else in my life. I still love Ben and He knows I do, but to really serve God you have to love Him above anything and everyone. This was a hard lesson for me to learn and I can imagine its hard for anyone. Many Christians or self professed ones will have great trouble with it I'm sure.
There is a sweet poem that John Piper wrote for his son's wedding: http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Poems/ByDate/1208_Love_Her_More_and_Love_Her_Less/
I recommend reading it, its very sweet and romantic. If you look in the bible there are tons of stories about believers showing their love and dedication to God. Just look at Abraham. He was ready to sacrifice his son,Issac, for God. Think about that. Do you love God enough that if he asked of you to sacrifice your child, would you do it? Abraham would and he almost did but God intervened. That takes a lot of love and passion to do what he almost did. What I thought was even more remarkable about that story was that Issac loved God enough to let himself be sacrificed. He knew what was going to happen and he layed there in wait for what his father was going to do. Abraham was called to kill his only son whom he loved very much. I don't know many people who would willingly give up their life for God. And yet that is what God has called us to do. Everyday of our lives we are to be walking up Mount Moriah, in a sense, and laying down on that rock. Denying ourselves and our sin as in our sin we naturally love ourselves. We're called to die to ourselves and live for God. I think that is such a powerful command. One that shouldn't be ignored or taken lightly. I wanted to share this lesson I learned because it changed my life and the decisions I make today are reflected by it. I pray for God to soften each of you to soak this lesson in if He so wills because its amazing loving God. Having a deep rooted unfaltering passion for God is amazing feeling. I pray God gives me more and more lessons to bring me closer to Him.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Some of you may recognize the title of my blog. Lately I have been silently struggling with my soon to be death. I know it might sound strange because a few posts back I sounded excited, but the truth is I do get scared. I have been asking myself why a lot lately. As a firm believer in Christ and what he's done for me and God opening my eyes from the blindness of my sinful flesh, why would I be scared? Do I not know where I'm going? Do I not feel I'm a believer? You might be wondering these things about me too as I pose these questions. Lately I have had an intense fear that plagues me every night. The fear is that some time in the middle of the night a robber will come and murder me and my family. Its a bit crazy ,I know. But with all the Tru tv I've watched and news stories, and sex offender sites I've seen I can see where this is manifesting from. Every night it takes me several hours to get comfortable enough to close my eyes, or my eyes just hurt too much to keep them open. It really has bothered me that I'm so effected by this. I feel weak the next day and that results in me not accomplishing much that I wanted to. And I ask myself why? I can almost feel hardened in a way with this recently. But then today as I was reminicing through some old emails I came across one that a lady from church sent out with the link to this site.... http://deathisnotdying.com/eventvideo/
I implore you, watch the clip on this site if you haven't already. I'll warn you its very emotional, but the message is extremely powerful. Its the story and life lessons through faith of Rachel Barkey a woman fighting a 4 year long battle with cancer. Earlier this past year she was informed that her cancer was back and terminal. A strong believer who lived her life selflessly for the joy and glory of God. Rachel died this past July 2nd, leaving a husband, Neal, and 2 small children, Kate and Quinn.
Her story was incredibly moving and encouraging. Its no surprise I was clutching my tissue box the whole time. :) Its almost like God again is talking to me through this in a sense. I've noticed that different things I struggle with God puts a scripture into my sights or a book into my lap or just an encouraging conversation with someone that seems to help me better understand and deal with the issue. I feel God working in me through Rachel's story. She touched on many challenging topics and I could go very deep in talking about many of them, but I'm afraid this blog would turn into a book. :) Of all the many points she made was one set that stood out to me. She was talking about why she was having her speech recorded, so that one day long after she's gone her children could hear her talk about what she went through and that God could use her words to draw them to Him. That had me crying instantly, I think sometimes its easy to slip our minds of how crucial it is to magnify the Lord in all we do including witnessing to our own children. I look at my beautiful baby boy, looking into his precious blue eyes knowing every inch of him was a blessing and miracle from God. I know even now at his age even though he may be young, I tend to think selfishly about my time with him throughout the day as she had talked about in her video. Quoting her in her challenge to the crowd: "Know God, know yourself, know the gospel,and know your purpose"
I realized that in these four points was the answer to my fear and quietly has hushed it. I answered these questions to myself, #1 I know God, and who He really is and love Him, #2 I know myself, I'm sinful undeserving of God's love and Christ's sacrifice for me, taking the punishment from the Father for my sins and selfishness. And I know that I'm a believer. #3 I know the gospel, and how God forsake His son for me, and how Jesus came to serve...me. #4 I do know my purpose, to glorify God and spread the gift of the gospel, to live my life deep and pure and to give it up denying self for His glory. He is the only one who deserves it. There is a verse that I thought was so compelling and powerful: James 4:14, "yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes." Life on this earth was never meant to be forever, our forever takes place at a different venue. I love how in Rachel's very last blog she wrote:
"And I am finding that my greatest challenge and what occupies my thoughts most these days is how to finish well. All the little things that I battle daily seem to loom larger in the waiting of each day and moment as my impatience and selfish tendencies rush to the forefront of every thought and activity."
"So my challenge is to finish well. And it seems I am to do this by waiting. Appropriately, I found this verse in Lamentations:
“It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”
"Waiting. Quietly. It is a good thing apparently."
"I have added it to my To Do list"…
As I look back to when I was in the hospital with problems in my pregnancy I'm reminded of how selfish I was and am shamed by it. It was all about me. I wasn't concerned with my testimony to others like the nurses or doctors diligently treating me. "I want to go home"." Please I don't want to be here." " I can't do this anymore." I begged, argued, and pleaded with them. I knew how dangerous it would be if I were to go home and yet I was willing to put my health and my baby's in jeopardy for my own selfish comforts. It was all about me. If we really think hard as Rachel suggests, we find it is all about us. Me.Me.Me. We are very selfish creatures. That reminds me of Debbie's words from the ladies luncheon on why we don't give the gift of the gospel: Mine.Mine.Mine. We're selfish even when it comes to spreading His word. Afraid of being inconvenienced or uncomfortable for any period of time.
I love how Rachel brought up one of my favorite quotes by Martin Loyd Jones:"The main trouble in this whole matter of spiritual depression in a sense is this, that we allow our self to talk to us instead of talking to our self."
We do listen to our inner thoughts all day long its very true. We are all dying everyday, coming closer and closer to our end. I pray that when its my time to go that I can do as Rachel has: "I hope I finish well". So now as my fears are hushed and my mind cleared I find that I'm no longer concerned so much about the fear of dying but rather how I live my testimony day by day. How I show my love for God and His word in my daily life, in how I feed or comfort my son,how I speak with my husband, and how I treat others. Doing all these things in magnifying the Lord and His great love.
I have cried a lot tonight but its okay because the way I see it , it shows that we love. Not neccessarilly this life, but the loved ones and dear friends God has blessed us with. You know its funny, my husband and I were driving home from the store and I asked him what he fears most about his own death and his answer silenced me : "I just fear how you and Mazio would be, if you both would be okay after I'm gone." Thats not the answer I was expecting from him, but it spoke volumes to me.
As I end this blog here, I again quote Rachel: "Dying is hard" If dying to self is a life long battle, then dying and leaving this world where the sin of man runs rampant can't be expected to be any less difficult. But thats where faith steps in. I'll be praying continually from here on out for God to help strengthen me on this topic.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Today as I'm writing this I'm over come with a mix of emotions. Friday morning was our Ladies Christmas Bruncheon, and we had a nice time sharing and just enjoying each others company. Debbie had spoke about sharing the gift of the gospel, and among all the things she said was one that jumped out at me. forever. A seven letter word we've all heard many times throughout our lives, yet the meaning of it in this reguard was so powerful. God has called us to share the gospel, a gift He has blessed us with that we may spread it and through that He could will for others to see the truth. Yet we hold on to it so tightly, for no real reason but for our own selfish comforts. Not wanting to feel persecution, or feel the strange looks or any other reason we give. But its not our gift to stow away like a child with a toy. (mine..mine..mine) The punishment for those who don't see truth is ..forever. God's judgement is forever. Its needless to say, powerful words we heard on Friday. John 15:18-20 If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I CHOSE you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.
And it got me thinking about a few old acquaintances I've met on my facebook account recently. I had met them when I had been going to my parents old church as a child through different activities I participated in. I went to "youth rallies", "church camp", and numerous other activities. One huge thing missing from all of these distracting things was God's truth in His word. Many of them, not all, believed like arminians. They didn't believe in the sovereignty of God. I know that its only through God's grace I believe this myself. Isaiah 66:1-2 Thus says the LORD: "Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool;
what is the house that you would build for me,
and what is the place of my rest?
All these things my hand has made,
and so all these things came to be,
declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look:
he who is humble and contrite in spirit
and trembles at my word. I guess as a believer I think I feel frustrated to myself at times, and want to just shake their shoulders and say "Can't you see this, can't you see that its by God's will in all things and not man"? Can't you see the truth in even the Potter and the clay"? "Can't you see the true God and not one made from tradition"?
I want so desperately to show them the gospel and the truth. Math. 20:23 He said to them, [Rom. 8:17; Phil. 3:10] ">“You will drink Acts 12:2; Rev. 1:9 ">my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, [ch. 19:11] ">but it is for those for whom it has been ch. 25:34 ">PREPARED by my Father.” Its a common pattern in most "christian" churches today. They hold fast to a deceiving tradition of selfish faith built on their own wills and "easy religion life". They come to God and not God calls them to Him. They believe all you have to do is just repent over and over( knowing and purposely sinning again and again) and God will always forgive and they think that is the life of a true believer. Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Such lies they live with. They pick a apart scripture and twist His meanings to adapt and condone to their life of selfishness. Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ I think to myself ...How can that be enough of a life, to just give in knowingly to the sinful flesh and deny the Father? Now that I know Him there is no way I could live my life any different than to give it fully to His glory. There is no "falling away and coming back to God" like I hear so often after a sermon in those churches a call to come forth and repent and "come back to Him". I use to wonder what God wants from us and why He lets things happen in this world, such terrible things. The answer to every question is just this.....God wants His own glory magnified through us, and it is only through His will. Everything that happens is according to His will.
I apologize for my openness but I feel that this needed to be said and it helped me to vent in a way. I pray that God will continue to bring me closer to Him and be humbled under Him in all things even these of which all control is in Him. It humbles me in knowing that even through my frustrations to the blind, that its grace that God has blessed me with that I even see Him myself. Someone once asked me if I really loved God, not just to say it with empty words, but to feel true unending deep love and desire to please Him. At the time all I had was the empty words. Its hard to love Him unless He has brought you to feel it. I prayed and prayed for Him, to desire Him. Its a continual battle of spiritual warfare we endure against our wicked flesh, but as long as we have that love and desire to please Him in the end His glory shall be magnified. .......I leave you all tonight with one of my favorite gems of C. H. Spurgeon :
"Don't keep back any part of your life. Make a full surrender of every inclination of your heart; work to have but one purpose, and one aim. And for this purpose give God complete control of your heart.Cry out for more of the divine control of the Holy Spirit, so that as your soul is preserved and protected by Him, that it may be directed into one river, and one only, that your life may run deep and pure, and clear and peaceful; its only banks being God's will, its only river the love of Christ and a desire to please Him."
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Its another day in this world and another day closer to going home! Its interesting that before I was truely saved by Him I never thought I'd look forward to death. Then again "death" isn't the end, but merely a changing of scenery for believers, I think(scenerey without sin:) ). Going home to be with the One who made me, saved me, and blessed me- with His mercy and grace that I never deserved. Our whole purpose in this world and our life is to glorify Him in all we do, continually longing for Him. Its bitter sweet! Though the only thing that seems to scare me is the pain factor, though I know even through that no matter how painful it may be I know He's there always just as He has shown us our entire lives.
Any hoo, on to my thoughts for the day. Have you ever felt God harden your heart? Like really feel yourself close up to Him like a tight fist? Its so weird but just shows me more how different and powerful God really is compared to the version I grew up seeing depicted. Recently I've felt this way a few times. A good friend had pointed out a verse in the lady's bible study a few weeks ago. Hebrews 11:35 " Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. "
God's showing us through this verse that He hardens our hearts and gives us release from Him at times throughout our life.
I now realize what people mean when they talk about spiritual warfare. Its a battle everyday in every way, some harder than others. I think its amazing though how He can harden us and in turn allow us to feel it. I mean how awesome is that? That alone shows how He's not this weak and only lovey dovie God that the world tries to portray Him as. I hear a lot of "christians " use God in the analogy of the relationship of a parent to his child. One thing though that is off in this analogy many times is that a parent can't choose what child God gives them, for one and two if your going to go by that parent/child relationship you must accept it completely. Does not a father ever discipline his child? And in so doing that show his wrath in the punishment? Then again this whole analogy gets turned on its head because of the Lord's elect. Which not many people see as truth, which the Lord has preordained.
When I feel myself harden up inside I just start praying. How awesome that God pushes us away a little bit to bring us ever closer to Him than before. :)
Ben and Jennie