Uncategorized

Finding Comfort When There Isn’t Yet A Solution

I am sure most people can think of someone who has really added tension and stress to their life. Often, we work with these people or are related to them somehow and therefore can’t always walk away. I have someone like that in my life, who unfortunately has given me a lot of issues and anxiety over about 1 1 years.  Initially, I sought her approval so much that I was willing to ignore the hurt, and move on without an apology or any repentance for her behavior. This created a positive relationship between us, for a while, but I still carried my old hurt below the surface, and she repeated the same type of behaviors against me. I recognize now that this is partly my fault, for not having boundaries or the courage to speak up and demand respect.

Fast forward; now I am a Christian woman, and I seek only the approval of Christ. I am way more secure in who I am as a woman, and I don’t need the approval of others around me because I am confident in my abilities as a Christ follower, functional adult, dedicated wife, and a devoted mother. I know who I am in Christ.  As a result, this person is no longer a part of my life.  We are connected through familial ties though, but I do not engage with her and have only seen her less than a hand full of times in the last few years. Still, she seems to surface every now and again – including this past week when I learned that she watches over us through a friend that happens to be my neighbor. I felt so violated. I have never been a private person per say, but I do believe that not allowing certain people access is for the best. I wish instead of spying on our family, she would own up to the hurt she has caused and make amends. I am for reconciliation, and I have mended broken relationships that seemed irreparable that proves that. I am for peace, which is why I can not allow an unrepentant person to recreate the same cycle of hurt that has already been recreated too many times in the past. Jesus told me I am to forgive, and I do, but he never said I had to endure emotional and mental abuse and that is where I have established boundaries for a reason.

I am literally unable to write all the damage, and all the hurt that I have endured at this person’s hands in one post, and in the same sense I’m unable to write all the comfort I have received from God about it. I can tell you before I met with this person to try and seek counseling, I wrote pages and pages of scripture verses, and almost every single time I open my bible I read something that reminds me of her and the entire situation, so God has been very present to me through it all.  I am thankful for that.

So, this week when I heard the latest in this seemingly never ending saga, I just felt incredibly overwhelmed. I said to my husband, “I don’t even know how to pray over this anymore, and I don’t get why God hasn’t changed this situation yet.” I felt exasperated and angry, and with that, I went to bed.

The following day,  I woke up with the same feeling. Only now I was even more frustrated that this person was trying to steal my joy yet again. Despite my feelings of turmoil with God about it, I sat down to read His word and seek His peace. This is where it gets good, as it always does when God is involved. Each day, I read some of the Old Testament, one or two Psalms, a few Proverbs and some of the New Testament, in that order.  Before I began to read I prayed a quick prayer thanking God for His word and asking that He reveal the truth of His word to me.

I am currently reading from Judges in the Old Testament. The stories I have been reading are about Gideon, a Judge over Israel who restores Israel and it’s people as Holy and following God’s commands. Eventually he passes away, and it takes no time for the Israelites to resort to their old habits, including worshiping other Gods and walking away from God himself. I explained what I had just read to my husband, and we had a conversation about how there is such a pattern in the old Testament: the Israelites get a good leader, and obey God and are rewarded, then they fall away and are punished, then a new leader rises up and the pattern repeats itself. During our discussion, I laughed at the symbolism – just as Israel kept making mistake after mistake, so do we humans. Yet, every single time, God forgives us when we repent and loves us the same. I began to recognize my need to repent for my anger with God the night before. I know He is in control, and I have seen Him bring peace in relationships I never imagined could have peace (as mentioned before.) So I know already that He works things out in His perfect timing, and yet, in my frustration, I ignored that and questioned God. So, within the first part of my four parts of reading, I’m recognizing I am not any better than the Israelites, and I am in no way worthy of questioning God despite the fact that I didn’t have peace about the situation or an answered prayer.

So, onto my next part, the Psalms, and it just so happened to be Psalm 56. I am going to include the entire Psalm here, and I will bold the parts that really stirred me.

“1 O God, have mercy on me,
    for people are hounding me.
    My foes attack me all day long.
2 I am constantly hounded by those who slander me,
    and many are boldly attacking me.
But when I am afraid,
    I will put my trust in you.
I praise God for what he has promised.
    I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?
    What can mere mortals do to me?

They are always twisting what I say;
    they spend their days plotting to harm me.
They come together to spy on me—
    watching my every step, eager to kill me.
Don’t let them get away with their wickedness;
    in your anger, O God, bring them down.

You keep track of all my sorrows.
    You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
    You have recorded each one in your book.

My enemies will retreat when I call to you for help.
    This I know: God is on my side!
10 I praise God for what he has promised;
    yes, I praise the Lord for what he has promised.
11 I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?
    What can mere mortals do to me?

12 I will fulfill my vows to you, O God,
    and will offer a sacrifice of thanks for your help.
13 For you have rescued me from death;
    you have kept my feet from slipping.
So now I can walk in your presence, O God,
    in your life-giving light.”

Wow. I read this and God’s comfort wrapped around me like a warm blanket fresh out of the dryer.  I have been so slandered by this person, verses 1-2. Verse 3, I was terrified before seeking counseling with her to the point of physical stress to my body, and I prayed prior and my heart palpitations went away.  Verse 4, God has shown me who I am, and allowed me to accept who I am in His eyes, and the recognition that her words can do nothing to me anymore. Verse 6 – Exactly how I was feeling, spied on, and I saw the second part as they were trying to kill my spirit. Verse 7 – I don’t wish ill on those who are wicked, but I do know that God is a God of justice who sees all. Verse 8 – I know that God sees all the sadness in my heart, and I know that he cherishes my tears so much that he collects them. This reminder made me remember that through it all, He has been there and He has seen it all. Not one tear has fallen from my face (or yours) that God doesn’t know about. The remaining verses just really spoke to what I had lost sight of, that God would take care of me and the situation. Though I felt no relief about the situation itself, I felt comfort from God, and the reminder that He’s in control.

Next, off to the Proverbs, and I was in chapter 22.  The very first one I read, Proverbs 22:8 “Those who plant injustice will harvest disaster, and their reign of terror will come to an end.” Way back in the first situation I had with this person, other people who have since seen the same behavior from her, believed her when she slandered me. Though I was innocent, the injustice was planted and the disaster that harvested was strained relationships for me, however when the truth came to light my relationships were restored and hers were not. The situation has been so severe I would honestly call it a reign of terror, not just over me, but over the entire family related to this person including my husband.  I discussed this with him as well. This discussion got quite intense and lead us to recanting some of the past hurts and sadness we have over the situation. One thing that has always upset me, is during counseling I had pages of things I was upset over and this person had nothing to say about why she treated me poorly.  Because I see this person as a narcissist, I believe she has not liked me because she can’t control me the way she controls others around her. My husband ended the conversation saying I never deserved any of the pain she had caused as I was a good person. I felt comfort hearing his words, but also felt angry because he is right. I didn’t deserve this, I couldn’t have changed it, and I have suffered a lot for no real reason.  Suddenly that warm blanket of comfort slipped away, and I began to board the self-pity train.

Still, I read on. The last reading I had was my New Testament reading from my favourite Gospel, Luke.  In Luke 16, Jesus is judged by the pharisees for basically everything He does even though He is undeserving, because they had their hearts set on rules, status and appearances, and Jesus was the total opposite, which angered them. Jesus calls them out on this in verse 15, after they money-loving pharisees scoffed at Jesus when He told them they can’t serve both God and money. Jesus says, “You like to appear righteous in public, but God knows your hearts.” I finished reading Luke, but didn’t catch on the importance of that verse until I prayed after reading.

I shut my bible, and still feeling slightly sorry for myself, I went to God in prayer. I thanked Him for the way in which His word spoke to me, and I explained to Him my heart and how frustrating it has been to deal with this situation I was undeserving of, and then it hit me during prayer, Jesus was hated by the world, especially by the Pharisees. This particular woman values her status in the world, and it hit me – she is like the pharisees. She loves to appear righteous, will never admit to any wrong doing, and cares more about the status of this world.  The entire time, I had lost sight of Jesus. Jesus was hated by the Pharisees of his day, and I am not liked by this woman who is like the Pharisee.  Jesus suffered in their hands the same way that I have in hers. Yet, Jesus died for them, while I was wallowing in self pity at the situation with my human heart. I had forgotten that God knows her heart, and He knows mine too.

Now, I am not equating myself to Jesus, but I found comfort in the minor parallel between us and that same comfort also gives me encouragement to be more Christ-like. Jesus told the Pharisees where they were at fault, He didn’t hide from them. He created boundaries and didn’t bend to act like them.  He didn’t worry about the fact that they didn’t like Him, because He knew they were after worldly status, which is detestable in the sight of God. He let their opinions, their gossip and their hatred roll of His back.  Jesus turned His attention to the people He came to save, who had ears to hear and eyes to see the message He was bringing. I need to remember the same thing. Forgive, as Jesus has instructed me, and follow the lessons God taught me through this one day of scripture reading: humble myself, trust His plan, accept His comfort, trust He will end the terror, and aim to follow Christ and His example.

I am amazed at how much God spoke to me, right when I needed it, through daily Bible reading.  This really just shows how much the Word of God is alive. These words date back to centuries before I was even born, and yet they speak right to me and the problem I am experiencing. Every single thing I read.  Praise God that he loves us so much that He plans for me to read the verses I need right when I need them, and that He reminds me how loved I am and how much He wishes to comfort me.

So, while I don’t have a solution to a decade long issue, I do have peace. And I do have a loving Father who gave me His comforting Word and His beautiful son, Jesus. Praise God for that. I pray that you find much comfort in the word of God as well.

 

 

Bible Reading · Spread Joy

Why Jesus anyways?

It was actually a while after I accepted Christ as my Saviour before I truly understood how ‘it all worked.’ We hear it every Christmas, Jesus was born to save the world. We hear it at Easter, Jesus died and on the 3rd day he rose to life and now we are allowed to go to Heaven if we accept him. But, does any of that make sense without the back story? I always struggled to understand this. Yes, I know Jesus is God’s son, and he died, and came to life again, but how does that mean I am forgiven of my sins? It never made any sense to me at all. I knew we were all sons and daughters of God, just like Jesus, and I knew we were supposed to call Jesus our Saviour to be recognized as his before God, but still the connection seemed to be missing for me as to how I was forgiven by someone being crucified.

I want to take some time to explain this, because I feel like many people coming from a non-Christian upbringing may also struggle with connecting these dots as I did.

I grew up believing in God. Without going to church regularly, I picked up a few things here and there, and throughout times of my life, I would pray to God but I never understood Jesus so my prayers never included him. I was sure that God had to have created us and the universe, because things seemed too complicated to be ‘just a fluke.’ I had snow-bird Grandparents who attended church while they were in Florida, and would say grace with us at holiday meals, and I have a few memories of conversations about Jesus with my Grampa but I still never really got it, so I went on believing in God and thinking that was it. Jesus was just some guy all the religious folks seemed to admire. I knew there were religions called Judaism, Christianity and Islam but I didn’t know a single thing about them, their similarities or their differences. I just believed in God.

Fast forward to after I accepted Jesus as my saviour, and still didn’t quite get the connection. I knew from learning about him that Jesus was an amazing man, and someone I wanted to be more like, so I felt confident accepting him as my saviour, but I began to wonder – How do we know that Jesus truly is the son of God not just some other guy from the Bible? What does his death mean?  I found some answers in the Bible, but it seemed like I barely knew anything and there was so much. (This is why I recommend a study Bible in my post titled Note to Self: Read My Bible, found here: https://seekinghispeaceblog.wordpress.com/2016/12/15/note-to-self-read-my-bible/) The more I read through the book of Matthew and learned of Jesus’ teachings, miracles and lessons, the more I realized that I truly believed, he was the true Son of God. He just was too perfect and did far too many awe inspiring things to be entirely human in my eyes.

So, what makes him the Son of God? Before Mary (Jesus’ Mother) was pregnant, as the well known Christmas story goes, she was a virgin. An angel of the Lord appeared before her and told her that she was chosen to carry a child. Here is the text from Luke Chapter 1, Verses 30-36:  ““Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favour with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus.  He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David.  And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!” Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.

From this we can see that the baby was conceived miraculously, his true Father being God Himself. We also see reference to Israel and David. Israel is the name of God’s chosen people who today would be referred to as Jewish and the old Testament promised that King David, a wise ruler over Israel (who wrote many of the Psalms in the book of Psalms) would have the Saviour (Messiah, Jesus) born in his lineage. Joseph,  Mary’s Husband, and Jesus’ legal father was a descendant of David, and that’s what the verse was referring to. There is so much more to this part of the story, for example an angel approaches Joseph as well, but in trying to keep this simple, I will invite you to read any of the 4 Gospel books in the Bible yourself for the full version (The books of Matthew, Mark, Luke or John.)

So, why would the son of God have to come to earth? This is where the connection was always lost for me because I didn’t ever read the Bible, or have any experience in understanding the Old Testament or Jewish traditions.

The Israelites (or the Jewish people, referred to as Israelites in the Old Testament) followed the law that God had given them through a previous leader named Moses. Each time a person broke the law, there was a sacrifice that required being made – consider it a penalty for breaking the law, like paying a fine or doing jail time in today’s terms. Often, the penalty was something like an ox, a bird, oil or something of value from that day and time that would need to be poured out or sacrificed at the altar to get forgiveness for the sin committed.

The problem with the Israelites is that they were a sinful bunch (and truthfully, we all are.)  The Old Testament books are full of stories where the Israelites would rebel against the rules God had given them, they would even go as far as to worship idols, and completely disregard God’s will for their lives. Time and time again we see them punished as a nation for the crimes they committed against God, and yet they never seemed to learn their lesson. God came to their aid many times, he bailed them out of many situations, and they were always so quick to forget the miracles He had done and think of themselves and what they wanted.

So, God sees this is not going well. His people are stubborn, they don’t seem to be learning or changing, and therefore they need the ultimate sacrifice: His son. God sends Jesus to earth through Mary, and when Jesus was about 30 years old, he began his ministry. His time spent teaching was very limited  (about 3 years total before his death) as the zealously religious folks at the time really loathed him and wanted to punish him with death for saying that he was the Son of God. They didn’t believe him, and felt he was full of blasphemy. Some even feared he was possessed by demons because of the miracles he was committing. He scared them because they couldn’t explain his actions, they felt convicted by him and they were so focused on the law and rules that they couldn’t understand why this man would act differently than many of the traditions they were accustomed to (including eating with the lowest people of society like prostitutes and tax collectors, healing the lame and forgiving those with major problems.)

During his time on earth, Jesus traveled and taught many. He kept 3 friends very close to him, 12 disciples (followers, in other words) whom he invested time teaching, and had interactions with crowds and people all over. The 12 disciples he taught (including the 3 he was really close to) are the men who spread the word of Jesus after his death and resurrection. Many of their stories are written in the book of Acts, and through out the New Testament. We can thank their bravery for starting the Christian church as we know it today.

It was a fact that Jesus walked this earth, the discrepancy lies in whether you believe or not that he was the Son of God.  Of the three major religions, this is where the difference is. The Jewish people don’t believe he was the Son of God, and the Islamic people think he was just a prophet.  Christians are the people who believe that Jesus was the son of God, follow the teachings of Jesus and believe he was conceived miraculously, died on the cross and rose to life again 3 days later, ascending into heaven shortly after. The Old Testament is full of prophecies predicting Jesus’ life that were accurate, and he fulfilled so many (see: https://bible.org/article/messianic-prophecies for more information and examples.) Jesus himself warned of false teachers, including the Islamic ideology that he was just a prophet. The amount of evidence in the Bible that Jesus is the true Son of God is immeasurable. Again, don’t just take my word for it!

Now, lets get to how the death of Jesus forgave us all: Traditionally, the Israelites would celebrate an event called “Passover”, to commemorate when Moses helped them escape slavery from Egypt. They celebrated Passover every year, and as required by law they would sacrifice a lamb at the altar of God. In God’s perfect timing, Jesus was taken to the cross during Passover (and this is why he’s often referred to as the sacrificial lamb.) His death on the cross was the ultimate sacrifice. It all comes down to that. God sent Jesus to earth knowing he would die on the cross during the Passover celebration. He sent Jesus knowing that Jesus would give us an amazing example of God’s love, a powerful display of how to change our hearts to be more godly, and since Jesus’ death meant the debt for sins was paid, God knew we would all be able to draw closer to him through our thanksgiving for Jesus. Now, when God looks at his people, he doesn’t just see the Israelites who struggle to follow his rules despite how much He loved them, He sees all of us who have accepted Christ as our personal Saviour as children of His. He literally sees Jesus in us, and loves us the very same way He loves his true son Jesus.  He sees perfect, flawless Jesus when he looks at our faces, and not our problems, our faults, our shame, our guilt and our troubles.

On the 1st day (known as Good Friday to Christians,) Jesus was crucified and died. The Bible tells us, at the exact moment of Jesus’ death, “the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” (Matthew:27:51) The curtain in the temple allowed only the holiest leaders to have access to God, and the tearing down of the curtain meant all of us can go directly to God. On the 3rd day (known as Easter Sunday) he was seen by his disciples and many others alive and well, complete with the holes in his hands and feet from the nails, and the incision on his side. He rose to life from death, the ultimate miracle to prove that he was indeed God’s son and not just some random human. When he literally ascended into heaven, the Holy Spirit was left behind on earth as the gift for those who accept Jesus as their Saviour (as though the gift of being forgiven isn’t amazing enough?) The Holy Spirit immediately dwells in your heart when you have accepted Jesus and this allows us so much including the ability to hear from God through promptings, through the words of others, and to be seen as sons and daughters of God himself, just like Jesus.  Think of it as our own piece of Jesus living in our heart, helping us to be more like him, and helping God to see us as his own.

Thanks to Jesus’ death on the cross, when we are sinful (and we all are) we don’t need to sacrifice a bull or an ox, or what have you. Jesus was the sacrifice for the past sins and those future ones too. Jesus paid it all on the cross, he was the sacrificial lamb that changed the face of the world. He didn’t have to die for us, in fact in an other post I made, you can see Jesus had many temptations not to die as he did (https://seekinghispeaceblog.wordpress.com/2016/12/06/all-the-kingdoms-of-the-world/) but he accepted this fate and chose it out of deep love for each of us.

So, how do you accept Jesus’ offer? Its so simple. Romans 10:9 tells us, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Yup. That’s it. You don’t need to fix yourself first. You don’t need to clean the skeletons out of your closet. You don’t need to be perfect in any way.  Believe that Jesus is the Son of God. Believe that he died, and rose again. Believe that his death was a sacrifice for all sin, and say out loud “Jesus is my Saviour.”  Here is a sample prayer you can pray: “Father God, thank you for recognizing our need for Jesus here on earth. Thank you for sending your Son to earth in human form to die the death on the cross that took the penalty for my sins. I know I am a sinner, and I know I am in need a Saviour, and I am thankful that Jesus is my new Saviour. Thank you for the gift Jesus has offered me through his death. I accept it, and I am thankful for it. In Jesus’ Mighty name I thank you and pray, Amen.”

I really hope you can understand why Jesus is so important now. Don’t just take my word for it though, pull out the Bible and start with the Gospel books to learn of Jesus, his life, his miracles, his lessons and his death. I am confident that the more you learn, the more you will grow to love and appreciate Jesus and the more you will benefit from trying to be more like the example he provided.  He wasn’t just some random religious person as I always thought, in fact, he is extra-ordinary, and someone whom I struggle to describe with human words. But in my heart, Oh do I ever know who Jesus is. I pray that you do too.

Please, if you pray that prayer and found these words helpful – let me know. Reach out and tell someone that you’ve accepted the gift Jesus gave. Allow others the privilege to pray for and with you, and may you be blessed today and everyday.

 

 

 

Spread Joy · Uncategorized

To be a Child of God

Recently, I had tickets to take my older daughter into the city by train and go see a show. Of course, the day of the show arrived, and I had a touch of a cold still lingering and therefore hadn’t slept the best, and I woke up to hear the roads were terrible from a freezing rain/snow combo. Well, this left me feeling incredibly anxious. Anxiety is not something I would say has been an issue for me for long, in fact, I believe when I became a Christian, it really seemed to calm my nerves, but lately its been an issue for me, hence why the blog says “Walk with me as I learn to accept God’s comfort.”

So, now my daughter is thrilled, and so was I – the day had finally arrived, and we could have special one on one time, and cue anxiety to overcast excitement. I began to pray, “Father God,  I pray you help my daughter and I arrive safely please, and please clear the roads where we need to go and take care of us...” And then I heard the whisper of the Holy Spirit remind me that I am to pray boldly. After all, I am speaking to the One who created the entire universe, separated the red sea and gave me Jesus. Hebrews 4:16 tells us, “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” So, I stood firm and declared “Okay Father God, I’m not going to waste my time tip toeing around this, I am tense and anxious, but you know how excited I am. I trust you to go before me and protect me, and I trust you to give me discernment while I’m driving, and Lord I declare this day is going to be amazing, and when I get home this evening, I will say ‘We had an amazing day, and all the glory to God for it!’ I boldly declare this in Jesus’ MIGHTY and POWERFUL name, Amen.

Immediately, I felt my excitement return and my fears subside. I told my daughter, the roads are slippery so we will leave early and take our time, and its going to be a great adventure no matter what happens! We got in the van, drove safely to our train, we made it with 3 minutes to spare (which is actually way better, no waiting around!) We got the best seats that she wanted, in the second floor of the train, and normally that would make me feel a bit car sick, but I felt fine. We arrived to our destination, and had to transfer to a subway. On our walk over, a car was stuck trying to exit a parking lot. I had my daughter stand safely to the side, and I helped with a few other strangers to push the car out. I felt proud to know my almost 6 year old daughter saw me use courtesy and strength to help others and I quietly thanked God for the chance to have her see me make a small difference in someone’s day after all we lead more by example than with words. We then walked to the subway, and thankfully I knew the station from when I used to live in the city, so that helped a lot! I had looked up the subway prices the night before and told the man waiting that I wanted an all day pass, and pulled my master card out. He said, “We only take exact cash or fares.” I told him, I didn’t have cash as I use my card for everything to get rewards. “Oh,” he said “well in that case, go on through, consider it a Christmas gift. Merry Christmas.” My daughter and I were so excited and amazed! Free subway passes!

We walked down to the waiting area, and the subway came a few seconds later, again, no wait! We counted our 14 stops, and got off where we needed to go. I was unsure of the area, but I figured there’d be somewhere we could grab a bite to eat before our noon show time. It was 11:15. Just enough time! When we came up from below ground, I saw a Pizza Pizza! Excellent, as we both love pizza. We went in and they only had two flavours, cheese and pepperoni, so we waited in the line and discussed our choices when suddenly the man working there brought literally every other flavour out! We got to chose our favourites – Hawaiian and Garden Veggie. What a blessing! All around us, little moments were happening. We ate and walked over to the show just as the doors opened. We had enough time to find and use the washrooms, and our seats, and within a few minutes the play began. It was perfect, and we both enjoyed it so much! On our walk back to the subway, I realized a store I had always wanted to check out was on our route, and was closing forever December 31st, so we went and scratched that off my childhood bucket list! Just in time, as it was December 17th! We found small little souvenirs for each of her siblings, and her, and we headed back to the subway.

I explained to the woman that I didn’t know I needed exact cash as I was from out of town, and she asked me what I had on me, and I told her 50 cents. She said through that in and be on your way! So for my $12 total, I paid 50 cents to board the subway there and back! Amazing. Once again, it arrived almost immediately. On our walk back to the train, we had enough time to find a Tim Hortons and grab a drink, and as soon as we arrived in the train station, the train arrived too (its a half hour cycle so that was so exciting.) We got back to our vehicle as the freezing rain started, but the entire drive was smooth and we had no issues. We walked in the door just as my lovely husband was serving dinner.

As I had prayed, our day was perfect. Glory to God for that!

I couldn’t help but reflect on the day, how I always made sure my daughter was on the inside of the sidewalk, how I was just as excited about this trip because I knew she was excited, how I stopped to grab her a kit kat, completely out of the ordinary for us just because she asked and it seemed like a fun thing to do, how much fun we had together just chatting, and running through the snow and seeing the city that is so different from our small town.  It donned on me in that moment, that I took such pleasure in making this trip happen for my daughter, that I enjoyed buying her treats along the way, that I graciously put her on the inside of the sidewalk just because I love her and want to see her safe. That’s when I realized, that’s what God had done for me – his daughter. He heard my frantic call for comfort, and he provided. He kept me safe, he provided tiny blessings through out the entire day, including perfect timing and my favourite pizza slice. And I bet, just as I smiled at my daughter and felt thankful for the opportunity to treat her, He felt the same.

He didn’t roll His eyes when I said “God, I need you.. yet again!” Instead he gave me peace, and then some! He doesn’t think I’m a bother when I go to Him, instead He is thankful that I chose to seek Him for comfort. Just as it was my pleasure to serve my daughter and do something wonderful for her out of the deep love that I have for her, so was it God’s pleasure to serve me, His daughter, and to do something wonderful for me, someone he has a deep love for. Do you realize how amazing that is? God isn’t bothered by the little details of our lives, in fact He wants to see us thrive and rejoice. He wants to see us happy just as I want to see my children happy. He wants to comfort us, just as I want to comfort my children when something is wrong. If I love my children so much it makes me a little nauseous to think about, how much more does God love me, and you too? His love is immeasurable. Accept it, and cling to it. You are God’s creation and He made you with a purpose for a purpose. He loves you more than you can imagine possible!!

Bible Reading · Uncategorized

Note to self: Read my Bible!

I have been sick with a stomach virus for three days, and barely had the energy to do anything. Of course, sadly, my Bible reading fell to the wayside. In fact, I realized, I hadn’t actually read my Bible in about a week, so really I couldn’t even blame illness.

Interestingly enough, today I feel well enough to resume normal life duties, and one of the first habits I reached for was my Bible. I began to read, and immediately felt so encouraged and refreshed, until my first distraction. Then I remembered the laundry in my bedroom waiting to be folded, the germs lingering from my bug waiting to be cleaned, the tidying of the toys and clutter I couldn’t keep up with, the laundry needing to be washed, the dinner I had planned to make, you name it, it crossed my mind and suddenly I found myself feeling completely overwhelmed again.

Isn’t it ironic how I picked up my Bible and immediately felt peace, until I remembered my growing to do list..  I’ve read articles that the enemy of our soul resides in our busy schedules, keeping us too busy to even spend time with God. Sure enough, I myself had let distraction then illness keep me from indulging in the Word of God. And oh, how I missed this time! I picked back in Luke where I was trying to read a chapter a day for the 24 days leading from December 1st to Christmas. I was refreshed and encouraged by the things I read. I found myself intentionally choosing to ignore my to do list to spend time with God (which is incredibly hard for me, but I wanted to do after having a taste of His peace.) When I got up, and went about some of my business, I felt so much chipper and lighter than I had felt in days.

I didn’t just feel good because after a few sick days, I was well. I felt good in my soul. I felt peace, and I felt joyous. I even found myself singing worship songs to my daughter as I changed her diaper, or ate lunch with her. This is what studying Jesus’ life does for my soul. This is why daily Bible reading is crucial for any Christian. Think of the Bible as vitamins for our soul, we want to stay well so we take our vitamins. We forget our vitamins for a few days and we feel unwell. My week away from the Word of God left me feeling overwhelmed and unwell.

I’d love to encourage you to read your Bible, daily! I have been trying to read through the history books of the Old Testament, one chapter of Psalms, a few proverbs and one chapter of Luke a day. I didn’t start out with that much! I focused on one book initially, but slowly have added to it realizing I was missing reading about Jesus, and especially with the Christmas season, so of those my priority right now is Luke. If you aren’t familiar with your Bible, I encourage you to find an easier to read edition, NLT, NIV, ESV (New Living Translation, NLT is the one I use.) I encourage you to read a study Bible – this way you can have access to answers immediately as you read things and wonder what on earth the context meant! Remember, culturally, we are in an entirely different time than when the Bible was written. This doesn’t change the TRUTH of the Bible, but it does make it seem strange for us to understand certain parts without understanding the cultural norms of the time, and this is where a study Bible is SOOO helpful!

Some people, like my husband who is on round 2 of reading the Bible chronologically, thrive with a daily plan, and others just kind of go where the Spirit leads them. I consider myself the latter. I will hear someone discussing a book from the Bible, and just go there, I just kind of go where I feel I should. I think this works better for me because if I miss a day or two, I can pick up where I left off, rather than feel like I need to speed read to catch up and get back on plan. Sometimes I read less and sometimes I read more. Sometimes one sentence changes my entire mindset and that’s sufficient, and other times I read pieces here and there, but the point is: I read it. I leave it right on my dining room table so that I can come and go through out the day, a chapter here and a chapter there. That may not work for many, but for me with 4 young children and a lot of demands, it does.

If you have never read the bible, I encourage you to start in the New Testament. Look at the Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke & John. Each tell the story of Jesus’ time on earth as researched and witnessed by the men who’s name the book is after. Matthew’s goal was to show the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah, Mark’s goal was to help the early Christian church, Luke was a Doctor who recognized the importance of interviewing and researching so that he could present the most facts possible and John wrote with the intention of proving Jesus was the true Son of God and that all who believe in Him will have eternal life, and as a result, John is really the most popular among new Christians. The rest of the books in the New Testament are considered ‘letters.’ Many were written by Paul to the Early Christian church, and many where written to encourage early Christians. Paul was a Jewish man who did not believe Jesus was the Messiah, and in fact, participated in the first stoning of a man who identified as a Christian. Later, he has an amazing experience with Jesus, realizes how wrong he is and writes a lot of the New Testament. Personally, I love Paul because he reminds me no matter how much someone is against Jesus and Christianity, they can still come around and do major things for the Kingdom.

I believe that the Bible is the word of God and in reading it daily, our faith is encouraged, educated and strengthened. I think we gain peace, and lose selfishness by spending time with God daily, especially in His word, and perhaps best of all? We hear from God.So many times I have heard God speak to me through the words written in the Bible. The more that I read my Bible, the more that happens – and what an amazing blessing that is!

Jesus says in Luke 8:18 “So pay attention to how you hear. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what they think they understand may be taken away from them.” Jesus said that after explaining the parable of the soils to his disciples. I especially love how he says, “To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given.” This is exactly what happens to me as I study the Bible more. I am sometimes surprised at how things speak to me, or how I am able to recall verses (not completely by heart but I remember the point), or find peace about a situation bothering me. But how cool is that – the Messiah, Himself, promises to reveal more things we could never have imagined knowing and understanding if we listen to His teaching. Wow! Don’t you want to know and understand more? The blessings I find from reading my Bible are endless.

I truly believe this message is directly from God because I sat down intending to write something about Luke, not really knowing what, just knowing that I had missed writing, and this came out so easily. God loves you so much, and He loves spending time in conversation with you through prayer, and while you are reading His word. Relating back to the parable of the soils, Jesus says in Luke 8:8 “Still other seed fell on fertile soil. This seed grew and produced a crop that was a hundred times as much as had been planted.” Go read Luke Chapter 8, and see what Jesus means by this. He later says that the seeds that fell on the fertile soil  represent “honest , good-hearted people who hear God’s Word, cling to it and patiently produce a good harvest.” (Verse 15) I challenge you today, read and hear God’s word, and cling to it!

 

 

 

Spread Joy

All the Kingdoms of the World

By now in life, you must be aware of “advent Calendars” with their 24 doors you open each day counting down from December 1st to Christmas, and each day you get a nice little treat. My children love them each year, rushing through their meals (even the yucky parts) to be able to have that sweet treat, and one more door open until Christmas is upon us. I decided to see if I could find a “Spiritual Advent Calendar” for myself this year, and wouldn’t you know the Gospel of Luke is 24 chapters long! (Gospels are the four books in the Bible, Matthew, Mark, Luke & John, that tell of Jesus’ ministry and life.) How perfect – my own Christmas Advent reminding me of Jesus in the season of his birth celebration.

Fast forward to December 4th, or ‘Luke Chapter 4′ day. In context, Jesus has become an adult, and was baptized and felt lead by the Holy Spirit to go into the wilderness for 40 days and nights where he was tempted by Satan himself. First of all – whats with the whole 40 days in the wilderness thing? Well, Jesus was in a time of trial and testing, which we all know makes us stronger if we endure it well. Jesus is about 30 years old and about to begin his Ministry. I believe this time was to help give him the strength to have a testimony, and to understand the temptations every day people often feel as they themselves are tempted.

So, Jesus, wanders in the wilderness for 40 days without food. Try and imagine that; 40 days and nights in nature, with no people or friends, no social media, not even a bite to eat. I’m imaging that I would be lonely, famished and desperate. Enter Satan. He tries to tempt Jesus to do things like turn a rock into bread, and tests Jesus’ knowledge of scripture itself. How amazing an opportunity would it be for the most corrupt angel to win over the soul of God’s son who was literally sent to earth to redeem the people in earth. He takes Jesus, and we read in verse 5-7, “he revealed to Jesus all of the Kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. “I will give you the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them,” the devil said, “because they are mine to give to anyone I please. I will give it all to you if you will worship me.”

Without missing a beat, Jesus tells Satan, “The scripture says you must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.” (verse 8)

Wait just a minute. Slow down and really think this through. The devil reveals ALL of the kingdoms of the world?! Imagine learning of Ancient Egypt, the beauty and mystery of the pyramids. Imagine, the Roman empire, as they were creating so many modern day things we still use! Picture the beginning of time, before pollution, before anything was destroyed and there was only a few people on the earth. Think about modern day societies. I know I dreamed of becoming a royal family member as a young girl. Can you imagine being offered the chance to be a King or a Queen of wherever you live now, in this present age? How interesting and exciting that would be! The devil is offering Jesus not only that, but ownership over every single Kingdom. Every single country. From the dawn of time, to a time we don’t even know that is coming. Imagine the temptation in that moment.

Jesus is given a glimpse into what is to come. Imagine Him walking the earth in sandals, walking from town to town and seeing someday there would be jets, high rise buildings, trains, at this time even hover boards! Imagine Jesus who’s diet would have been a lot different from ours, eating things like fish and unleavened bread, seeing things like 24 hour drive throughs, fast food restaurants, anything you could possibly dream of craving or wanting available by walking into a grocery store. I cant even imagine how exciting it must have been to have been given a glance of all the kingdoms and history in the world. Can you imagine seeing 1000 years from now? Even just 50 years from now would be so interesting. How tempted would you be to say “yes Satan.. I’ll take that offer! Forget the plan my Father had for me. This is MY life and I want to be King over all of that stuff, I want to be King of this world! I’d much rather barter with you than die as a sacrificial lamb on a cross with real pain and agony. Show me where you need me to sign on the dotted line!”

The struggle is real! I don’t know if I would have been strong enough,being lonely, isolated and starving to turn down that offer. But Jesus did. He knew the word of God well enough to quote the Law the Jewish people believed and followed – that you must worship the Lord your God and serve ONLY Him. He stood in the face of the biggest temptation anyone could ever imagine and said “Naw, I’m good dude. I’ve got the law in my heart and a mission to fulfill. See yah!”

Wow. Just a few sentences of a chapter in the greatest story told, and yet, what an amazing few sentences. My heart was so full of admiration and love as I read these verses. Jesus loves us enough to take the road of extreme suffering and mockery, rather than accepting the greatest offer the enemy could give him. He loves us THAT much. I am not even sure I’d have the ability to turn that offer down for everyone, let alone one person, and yet Jesus didn’t stutter.

This Christmas season, I want to just think of that. How great a love does He have for us to remain that incredibly strong. But, also, what an amazing influence for us who call ourselves followers of Him. I struggle every day with temptations, and I give in more often than I’d like to admit. Maybe now, that struggle I have won’t be so tough to say no to because I will remember the One I have placed my faith in said No to the world and its glory so that I may one day reside in Heaven. Maybe now I will be able to stand a little bit more firm in my faith knowing my temptations are so minor, and the consequences of my temptations will never be as much as Jesus faced. If nothing else, I am that much more thankful for Jesus, His influence, His strength, His Will, and even His knowledge of the Word of God and ability to respond as He did. I am encouraged and inspired, and forever thankful.

 

 

 

Spread Joy · Uncategorized

Joyful Dancing

“You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,
that I may sing praises to you and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give praise to you forever!”
-Pslam 30: 11-12 (NLT)

I came to know Jesus as my savior when I was 22 years old. A lot can happen to shape a person in 22 years, and a lot did. My past is very colourful and vibrant. There are things I am not proud of, and yet looking back there are a million ways God provided without me even realizing. I’m alive, aren’t I?

I recently had a situation where someone from my present was told about my past. In my anger and hurt, I realized – I can not be ashamed of my past. It is a testimony of how far I have come. I have often referred to myself as my”old self” and “new self”, Jesus being the source that made me new. The person from my past even showed my past in a manipulative way, behind my back, as if to show that the current “new self” isn’t real, or to bring dishonour to my name.

I thank God that the person knew my story, and knew how much I have overcome and why Im so deeply thankful for Jesus and His redemption. When she told me about the situation, she said “What struck me the most was the photos of you back then, just showed sadness in your eyes even when you were smiling or laughing.”

My heart broke at these words. I see that same agony in my eyes when I see pictures from my youth and teenage years as well, and yet this person who knew me so well never saw that back then or even today looking back. I think as believers, God allows us the honour to see more and be able to discern things that others can’t see, and my treasured beleiving friend saw right through the laughter and saw the pain. She told me herself these eyes shine brightly now. They do. I am free!

In my past, I searched so desperately for love. I wanted acceptance above all else. I wanted to belong, to know I mattered, to be important, a person of value. Now that I know Jesus and know of His love for me, His sacrifice for me, I know these things to be true. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a NEW person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” How exciting! I am loved. I am valuable. Im worth it! Im a person of deep value! God has made me with a plan for a reason! I am important in His eyes, worth even dying for. I am accepted regardless of my past.

I am so happy as I settle in with these truths. God’s love is never ending. If you don’t know Jesus, I so encourage you to seek him and accept Him into your life. I have never regretted it for a minute. Yes, I have lost things including the friendship with the person who tried to ruin my reputation, but I have gained so much more, as the Psalm said, my mourning has become joyful dancing.

Praise God for all that He has done. My life as a Christian is far different from my life without. I have come so far, and I am so excited to see what God has yet to do in and through me!

Spread Joy

Choose Your Legacy Wisely

Last night, I was really troubled by the amount of negativity and posts that encourage negativity and hate on my Facebook news feed. One post in particular really saddened me, it said “The nicer you are, the easier you get hurt, so just be an a–hole.” Oh, my heart was sad to see this.

Yes, you may be hurt by being nice – but doesn’t that beat out being the bad person hurting others? I think so. I would rather be apologized to, then be the one apologizing (oh there’s my niceness kicking in.)  I would rather be free to chose to forgive someone else than to know people spent time loathing me, resenting me, or struggling because of me.

I teach my children when we go somewhere, to try and be the type of people that after our exit, others say “Wow, I’m so glad they came. It was so nice to have them here.” I want people to feel that way about me – I want to be seen as a helper, an encourager, a friend, a giver, a hugger, and someone others are happy to be around. We need to stay eternity minded and stop thinking in this moment. One day I am going to die, and all that remains of me here on earth will be the legacy I have left. It is my sincere hope, that at my funeral, people will say things like “She was so lovely. My life is better because she was in it. When I picture her face, I see a big smile.” In this temporary moment, it may seem easy or fair to chose hate. Maybe you were seriously hurt, maybe you haven’t had the niceness you have given offered back to you, but don’t let that allow you to follow the world’s advice. Don’t let the world decide your legacy.

In these times of social media, there is a footprint left behind when someone passes away. What if tomorrow you passed away, and the last post you made said “The nicer you are, the easier you get hurt, so just be an a–hole.” People would be looking at your page as I know I have done after losing someone, relishing in their final words. What a disappointing last message to leave to others, one to discourage kindness.

This morning, as I was spending time reading my Bible, I was reading the story in 2 Chronicles of Jehoram, who was an evil King over Judah long before Jesus’ time. Jehoram came into Kingship after his father, Jehosophat, passed away. After becoming King, he murdered his brothers and took advice from evil friends and even married the daughter of an other evil King. When Jehoram passed away, 2 Chronicles 21:20 tells us, “Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years. No one was sorry when he died. They buried him in the City of David, but not in the royal cemetery.” (NLT) No one was sorry when he died. Can you imagine? By all means, I want the lives of those I leave behind to carry on in my absence, but I sure hope that I’m a good enough person living that people will be sorry to hear of my passing.

Don’t be a Jehoram. Be a person whom others love and admire. Spread joy in this dark world. Be a nice person, even if it means you may get hurt. Be forgiving. But whatever you do, don’t be a Jehoram.

I’ll leave you with these final words I also happened to read this morning, from Proverbs.

Wickedness never brings stability, but the Godly have deep roots.” Proverbs 12:3

The wicked die and disappear, but the words of the Godly save lives.” Proverbs 12:7

A sensible person wins admiration, but a warped mind is despised.” Provers 12:8