Identity by andrea

My identity in Christ.
I told my husband before I began writing this… it’s so boring, the same old same old… yet it’s my truth, this is my identity in Christ. It courses through my being … its all about Jesus
     I am a Protestant. A Charismatic. A Molinist. An egalitarian. Non-denominational and a Conditionalist.
     None of that means anything…. over 30 years ago I asked Christ into my heart and I began a journey into eternity. What I believed about scripture along the way has little to do with who I am in Christ Jesus. My identity changed when I stopped trying to be correct and started trusting in Christ’s righteousness and not my own.
     As I read Christian blogs and see people arguing over “how to pray” or which translation of the Bible is the most correct. I just want to reach inside of every one of them and ask, “are you more saved then that one”? Does what you believe in theory change who you are in Christ? Am I more saved today then I was the first day? Does knowledge elevate our status in Christ? I know I walk in more joy and I am more effective through knowing Christ more intimately but I am not more saved. That work was finished on the cross at Calvary. 
      In 1983 I was an atheist. I really disliked religion and Christianity was the religion I saw around me. I thought, those Christians, always trying to shove their beliefs down everyone else’s throats yet look at them. That bunch of hypocrites! There are people starving and all they care about are their church buildings. Those stained glass windows could feed a few hungry people. The more public the Christian right became the more I hated Christianity. Then in a moment, it all changed and I became what I hated. Not only was I a Christian but I was a Christian who wanted to be right. I wanted the correct doctrine, the correct church and I wanted to be a ‘good’ Christian. UGH. 
     In the midst of my struggles, the Lord in His wonderful grace would give me a word or a vision. Like road signs through a desert, one day at a time, one struggle at a time, until I realized I was not able to do this Christian life and I admitted to myself and to God, that I would have to go to hell. I just couldn’t be a Christian. As I explained to the Lord, that I understood why. His word read, no drunkard, liar, thief… 1 Cor 6:9 Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men[a] 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. I knew somewhere in that list I belonged but I was going to be the only one there, in hell, who still loved Him…. I vividly remember that vision. I was standing in a dark pit and Christ looked at me and put His arms very gently out to me and said “but “I” won’t let you”. In one moment I realized, it didn’t matter if I was unworthy. As my vision expanded, I saw all around me, prostitutes and drug addicts, homeless people in dirty clothes and He was speaking to all of us, “I won’t let you”. I didn’t know how but I knew it wasn’t about my righteousness but it was all about Jesus. Today I ask people, “how big is the cross”? How much work was done on that cross? I think of Christ speaking and the universe was formed. How big would His dying be? I am a mere human, finite and mortal, with a mind ill equipped to fathom infinity. I cannot wrap my brain around God. He never asked me to understand Him, He only asked me to love Him and my neighbors. I still have work to do in that area. When I get the love God with all your heart, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself down pat, I’ll move on to bigger issues but until then; I am just trusting Jesus.
     I am a child of God, a citizen of heaven. I follow Christ because He first loved me and I am a part of His kingdom because of what He has done and not because of anything I have done. It is the righteousness of Christ that I trust. Because “Sweet Jesus” I know I am not righteous because of my own behavior. The Lord judges the heart and if you could read what goes on in mine, you would see a battle raging. I don’t have to tell you about my battles, we all have them. We walk in fear, while we try to love. We walk in hate because we fear. This carnal body, who is able to save me from sin and death… only Jesus. I read Romans 7 and 8 aloud this morning, its wonderful. Rom 7: 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
     For this reason only do I identify with Christ because He is my righteousness and I am eternally grateful. There are no words to express the gratitude I have within me for His great love for me, this most unworthy being. Jesus saved me while I was still a mess, an atheist who mocked and ridiculed His church, His followers, His word and His cross. Until the day, I learned He loved me anyway. Not because I was worthy but because I was NOT worthy, I was angry, needy and hurting. It seems the qualifications to be a Christian are very low. I am quite sure you meet them. The only people Jesus turned away were those that were so religious, they condemned others to hell while exalting themselves.
    God bless, andrea

Seasons by andrea

For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. James 4:14b

     When Peg asked us to write on ‘seasons’ I thought, “no problem”. We have all shared about ‘going through’ a season. Yet, seasons denote a repetitive structured event that occurs without regard to life or circumstance. I don’t see life in Christ as seasonal. I view it more as having growth spurts, with an ebb and flow. More like our marital relationships or a relationship with our children.

     When I was young in the Lord, I laughed a lot and knew so little of the weariness of life. Like a child who loves their parent and believes they will never die or allow anyone to harm them. I felt safe in believing that the Lord would protect me and my loved ones from all the pain of this world; until I was no longer a babe in Christ. That was a wonderful season…lol. My season of naivety.

     Like a marriage “when the honeymoon is over”, there is a time when I could no longer keep my eyes closed or protect my heart from the inevitable pain of living. I’ve been so fortunate, it would have been easy to remain naive and believe the Lord does not allow His faithful children to suffer at the hands of the unfaithful. Nothing is further from the truth than thinking Christians don’t suffer. If anything, there is a window of empathy and suffering that is opened wider and wider as we allow our hearts to beat with the heart of Christ. As we grow in Him, He who causes all things to become good. Does so not by changing our worldly circumstances but by breaking our hearts in all the right places. Until bruised and battered, we fall on our knees and only the Lord can comfort the ache of life. Only in Christ,  knowing His eternal purposes are beyond our knowing can I find solace and peace in this world. Because I know this world is only a wisp of time and “a beginning”. Like a honeymoon, we must come home to live with our spouse for all eternity. The things of this life are like a vapor that vanishes and then there are those things the Lord values, the things that do not burn up like wood, hay and stubble that are eternal: faith, hope and love.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zdUaul-rsM (Leonard Ravenhill – Wood hay and stubble vs Gold, silver and precious stones)

     I laugh to think how petty, how naive we Christians can be. Until one day we are in a fox hole and death is staring us down. There are no atheists in fox holes, either they are believers or they are terrified of a great emptiness before them. How does an unbeliever step into eternity with nothing or no one to hold onto? I find comfort in knowing this life is short. Life is but a vapor that vanishes away. I keep my eyes on the prize ahead and know that the Lord values our years, is concerned about our fears and holds our tears. Yet always always stands guard over our hearts. In God’s economy, with faith in Him, suffering and tears have great value; these things may be  the ‘rod of guidance and the staff of correction, we choose. We can be bitter or allow the Lord to reshape our hearts and be better in Him. It is we who change, not our circumstances.

     When we allow the pain of others to seep into our own consciousness, we see Christ and His love and hope for all mankind. We can empathize with those who out of ignorance disregard the Lord’s righteousness because there is no joy in knowing we are all in a fox hole together and when one suffers, we all suffer. The Lord loves us all, died for us all and will one day be known by all. We who are more fortunate to know Him now, cannot boast, knowing that there but by the grace of God go I. My faith in a just and merciful God, a loving and compassionate God gives me peace in knowing His justice is mercy, His love is eternal and He judges righteously.

     I suppose the time it takes for us to grow in Christ can be like the seasons but seasons will go on long after we are gone.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-94ecuHcqw&spfreload=10  Canon Andrew White / Sharing in the Sufferings and Glories of Christ

https://frrme.org/get-involved/donate/

#Searching by Andrea

I am not going to attempt to explain how we search for the things of this world.  When I was young, we went to the library for our information.  Today we have a world of libraries at our finger tips.  Yet we don’t seem to be more intelligent or any happier for all the convenience of the internet and it’s searching tools…

     I thought when I first saw # searching…. “searching for something worth dying for”. It seems that is the one thing we all have in common. A need to have something worthy of our life… something to die for. Yet Christ has asked us not to die for Him but to live for Him. We are to live honestly, openly proclaiming our faith and openly confessing our sins one to another. The search ends when we stop trying to find Christ and ask Him to unravel the desires of our hearts. I personally ask the Lord to make my desires align with His, simply bc I’ve learned that is the path of peace and wholeness in my life. But I am fully aware others have a different idea about what Christ wants or expects. I laugh as we “the church” tries to align itself into an image of Christ that we have found. If and when the body of Christ ever looks up, we’ll see that everyone has their own image, their own desires, their own searching tool for what they deem important in their lives. Even in something so important as our view of God.

     There is nothing I have that is worthy of the life Christ gave for me. There is no reason to search anymore. No reward, or idea that I need to search out… today I only wish to end the search and accept the gift of life, given through Christ. A life, I believe will be eternal but not one that begins after this life but one that began when  Christ was speaking the worlds into existence. Did He see me as I am today? I can’t answer that but my sense is that He did. There is no striving or searching that will change what Christ saw as eternity proceeded from the sound of His voice.

     The day I found Christ or rather, realized Christ in my life, the search was over. Only the accepting is left. Only the need to receive all that has been provided for me and those who have chosen to follow Christ with me…. what ever that looks like: Catholic, Protestant, Charismatic, denominational or by what ever name we have chosen to divide this body of Christ. My search is over, it is time to enjoy the journey.

     As Resurrection Sunday (Easter)  approaches I am aware of His presence in my life but I’m also aware of His presence in your life. In the lives of those who choose another path, of those who do not choose Christ. The Lord makes it rain on the just and on the unjust. His Spirit touches His followers and those who choose not to follow. So I ask everyone everywhere…. ask Him. Are you in my life? Do you have a plan for me? Open yourself to the possibility of Our Creator, God as a searching tool. The next time you have a question search #Lord Jesus, do you have my answer?

God bless, may you come to know the comfort and love of our Savior Jesus Christ as we celebrate the victory of the cross, His death for our life, andrea

Selah by Andrea

When Jesus said, my sheep hear my voice and follow.  We can hear His voice today. He who spoke the universe into existence still speaks today.

 

Selah, consider this word, weigh it and see its value. David uses Selah as hear me and embrace the wisdom I have given you. Any time we stop and choose to consider His ways, His thoughts and the impact they have on our lives, we are hearing the Lord embracing us, growing us and knowing us.

I once heard a teaching that suggested we chew on each scripture until we have gathered everything it can give us. Our lives are full of moments to ‘chew’ on… times when we need to fully digest all that the Lord is giving us in that moment or through an experience. Only then can we fully receive the lesson of our lives. If as believers we know the Lord is with us, then we know He is teaching us, guiding us and directing our steps. In submitting our wills to the Lord, we must hear and agree, His ways are better than our ways. Our ‘amen’ must reach His ‘amen’ and then His will will be done.

I think that most of us are uncertain if our lives are in God’s will. It is helpful to examine our walk with the Lord and ponder the impact we’ve had on someone else’s opportunity to receive Christ. In other words, on another’s eternity. If our lives were spent sharing Christ with only a few people, how do we measure the value of an eternity? Just one is infinite.

Selah… consider this… close your eyes and pretend you have never read a book, heard a sermon or known anything about scripture and you meet Christ. You meet Him as He met Peter, James or Mary Magdalene. Think of yourself as the woman at the well. There you are at a well drawing water and this man tells you He has water that will never make you thirst again. Living water. Before this day, everything anyone has told you, is that you are NOT good enough for God and now, there God sits with you. He is looking into your heart and telling you He has water for you. Jesus went against all the conventions of His day, He spoke to a woman, she was not of His sect. She was considered unclean and yet He offers to her, living water and with it eternal life. Then Jesus spends two days teaching the Samaritans everything they needed to know about the kingdom of God. While we spend lifetimes and run ourselves ragged trying to learn that simple lesson, drink and you will never thirst again.

So I say, Selah, consider this… and when you are unsure of your salvation, when you thirst for more remember it is Christ who has accomplished your salvation. Its value is infinite and it was bought with a precious precious price. The most important part of scripture was love your God with all your heart, all your mind and all your strength and your neighbor AS yourself. Think about this…. in it hangs everything the Lord ever spoke through the law and the prophets… and if you find you can not love someone, be kind.

God bless, andrea

Remember by Andrea

I remember few years ago, Jim Gilbert, did a few teachings on the altars of the bible. There are different types of altars some for sacrifices and some for memorials to honor, remember and extol the greatness of our God.  It helped me think about the value of memorializing events and experiences we’ve been through with the Lord. When we take a moment to reflect or recall the Lord touching our hearts, radically changing our minds, relationships or perspectives; we who are believers cannot afford to forget  such significant occasions. We still need altars, or feasts and memorials that exalt the Lord’s goodness. As believer’s our testimony consists of our personal transformations and of the reality of Christ in our lives. This includes those times we want to remember and some we might want to forget but that the Lord managed to use them for our good. I’ve known people who were saved while on drugs or prostituting themselves. It may be difficult to share their personal stories but there are times that just like the Israelites who built a golden calf while Moses spoke to God, we can benefit from sharing those times too.

       I often encourage believers to write down their experiences, not just in their own interest but for the benefit of other believers and for the generations that come. Life can often be much shorter than we expect and writings from our loved ones are cherished. The miracles that we’ve experienced should be shared, to teach, encourage and edify our friends, family and future believers.

       When I become aware and actually sense, I am a part of the body of Christ, His church, His bride – that is when I see how important each individual testimony becomes to the whole of her, the bride of Christ is the church. It is why I believe we need to set our egos aside and share from our hearts and the witness of Christ in our lives. We must share our stories of overcoming and in those stories is our defeat and Christ’s victory. They may not be pretty stories and there may be pain and shame in them but in Christ there is an eternal victory and that should be shouted from the roof tops.

       Our life stories often resemble the story of Israel, we were in bondage and the Lord set us free. We were once a people with no hope, who now have hope. Once a people with no future who now carry within us the seeds of eternity. How powerful is that? Should we share it with those who are still in bondage? Should we share it with the brethren? We believers all have a story with a sad beginning and an eternally happy ending.

       As I was considering how to write on this month’s topic, ‘remembering’ my 2 yr old granddaughter, Anaya Rose, was playing with my phone when I saw she was in the text feature and had written HAGGADAH.  Maybe autocorrect helped her. I don’t know. I only know I had never seen the word Haggadah but it seemed biblical so my daughter looked it up on the internet and there is ‘Haggadah’, the text recited at the Seder on the first two nights of the Jewish Passover, including a narrative of the Exodus.

       It is the telling of the story of their liberation told at Passover and sometimes at Purim. We believers understand that the Passover is a type of the coming Messiah, our Christ. In preparation for the Seder, all unleavened bread, even the slightest crumb is removed so the house is cleansed. This represents the cleansing of our selves and the willingness to be cleansed, from sin, through Christ’s blood shed on the cross. They tell the story of putting the blood on the door post so that the Death Angel will pass over them. Believers see this as Christ sprinkling our hearts so that the death angel passes over us and we enter into eternal life in Christ Jesus. The Seder, is a powerful story, the remembering of their liberation from bondage.

As Messianic Christians take communion, the wine and the bread, during the Seder, the prayer said over the first glass of wine is:

I will bring you out of Egypt,

I will deliver you from bondage,

I will redeem you from Bondage,

I will redeem you with an outstretched arm,

I will take you to Me for a people

       The Seder is considered a Holy Gathering of remembrance of the Exodus out of Egypt. Most Christians celebrate Easter, Jesus is the lamb of God, no longer would people have to sacrifice in the temple for their sin. Christ is our sacrifice, once for all. Just as the Passover lamb saved the Israelites, who believed God, from death. Jesus’ death saves believers from death by giving His followers eternal life.

       What if we each told our own ‘Haggadah’ each year? How would you celebrate your own deliverance from the bondage of sin? Your own exodus from Egypt. It is vital that we exalt the  Lord when He appears to us and we commemorate God’s favor, not with stones or in journals but in our hearts. For we are to be a people of gratitude, who walk in the light, who have so much to celebrate, our personal testimonies should be worn on our sleeve and we always need to be ready to give a defense for our faith. Whether it be our personal experience or an apologetic response. We believers are never to hide our relationship with Christ and our testimonies are just one of many tools for evangelism that we have at our disposal. You are a letter from Christ, the result of His ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

       Where are our altars? Did they happen in our home, in our church or in our hearts? We need to ask ourselves where are our places of remembrance where God revealed Himself to us?

       I intend to write my own Haggadah, to tell my own story of deliverance. I want to remember everyday the times the Lord has spoken, the times His hand moved so mightily over me, I truly say, “I will never be the same”. A Haggadah can be used over a meal, shared with friends in a prayer meeting, or told on any day we choose to make a day to celebrate and remember the greatness of our God that when we were once slaves to sin, we are now slaves to righteousness because of Christ Jesus who has set us free.

       I’ll need to include the times the Lord renewed my life. I was an atheist, dramatically saved and convinced of God with one simple prayer. I struggled with doctrines and my faith because the mormons (a cult) had come to my door. I thought God sent them. I was challenged and confused. After so much study and prayer, I cried out to God pleading, what is the right church, He spoke? “Why do you worry about how men dress me and not what it is “I” desire”. That so altered my walk with the Lord and taught me why denominations or doctrines are not His first priority and it shouldn’t be ours. I eventually left the LDS but I was never more saved than the first day I knew the Lord. I wasn’t saved by a denomination or a doctrine. It was the Lord Who saved me and it is He who keeps me.

        I’ll need to write down how I was addicted to drugs and miraculously delivered. Thank you Lord, how can I ever thank you enough?

       Once I fell into such awful regret for how I had spurned the Lord before I was a believer, my best friend had died and I simply did not know if she went to heaven or hell. I had been twisted and grieving for months. One day as I walked up to her grave, feeling so hopeless and not knowing how anyone could carry this kind of grief. “The Lord spoke  out loud,”as I have risen so has she”. I am crying now even as I remember, what a burden He lifted from me. The gratitude and love that washes over me as I remember the healing of that heartache.

        I have many more stories. We all have those experiences, let us try to share them with others. In this season of celebration and thanksgiving lets remember who we are most grateful to and who did more for us than any man in heaven or earth, Jesus Christ. God Bless and Happy Thanksgiving everyone, andrea

Conformity by andrea

 

Conformity – ugh

 

When I first saw the word conformity I think my stomach rolled over. Sometimes this happens when I see someone else vomit, other times it is when something within me just has so much feeling attached to past events, my mind refuses to process it and I feel physically ill. Conforming is easy, not conforming is usually difficult. Difficult is what my mother would have used for my middle name if I had one. After 11 children she had run out of middle names so I have none.

One of my first remembrances of breaking from family traditions was when I was about nine years old, my father explained to me why black Americans were rioting. It was the civil rights era and I was being raised in an almost all white upper middle class town, Pitman NJ. He gave a lengthy explanation but what I recall most was, non-white people weren’t as smart as white people. He explained that at work he was a supervisor and he would tell these people to do something and sure enough if he told them to turn the valve to the right. He would come back and find they had turned them all the wrong way. I remember thinking, why would that happen repeatedly? Since the few black kids I went to school with seemed to be the same as all the other kids. I knew a few who were the top of the class. It took about 10 seconds for me to realize, they were doing it to get back at him for being so mean. These workers had organized a quiet revolution. If you won’t treat me as a decent human being, you will get what you expect and deserve. I knew they were making his life at work as difficult as possible and it was probably bc they were more intelligent then he was since he obviously had not figured that out. An intelligent supervisor learns to do what it takes to get their workers to produce. The only thing is, I could never tell my father this because he was also that mean to his own family. My understanding is that racism is built on making groups of individuals “the others”. The need to differentiate people who we believe are unlike ourselves is rooted in a need to heal our own damaged selves. The anger and hate is pointing outward, simply because it is too painful to point it toward the real problem, our own hurt.  As Joyce Meyers says it, “hurting people hurt people”. Racism is rooted in the need to feel better about ourselves. People who need to feel better about themselves must make the choice of improving themselves or tearing apart others to make themselves feel better and racism is about “the other” guy.  When I look out over the whole church, organized religion, I see a hurting society. Hurting people all too often hurting people. My thought is the church is trying to heal itself, by making everyone else “the other”. We have an ‘ism’ for every doctrine, dogma or perspective and tens of thousands of denominations to prove it. Instead of racism dividing our churches, we have factions who conform within their own faith communities. Sometimes over race, sometimes over doctrines.

This month’s blog is not about the evils of racism it is about what lies within us as a church body. Can we as a body see one another as part of the same body? Or do we need to see the “other”. Can we take from our collective psyche and relearn the paths we should go or will we remain mired in traditions and conformity. Are we willing to be conformed to the mind of Christ or will we seek healing in “the other”.

I’m asking, did Jesus come down out of glory so that we could go to church on Sunday and try to be good people. Sitting in our own little group of like-minded church goers. If that is all there is, then we are the equivalent of the religious system that crucified Jesus 2000 years ago.

We look no further than our Sunday services to see that we aren’t doing anything differently than my father did with the “other”. When we attend a church because it reflects our own beliefs, we encourage one another in our own beliefs. Rarely stretching ourselves to be prodded and poked by the Holy Spirit, to be taught His ways are not our ways.

 

Have we questioned what is taught in our church? in our fellowship? in our own homes? Why do we sit under one or two pastors who tell us what the Bible says when the scriptures clearly tell us how the Lord will teach us. Jesus never said, I must go so your pastor can teach you about Me.

John 16:12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

What happened to Jeremiah’s prophecy?

Jer 31:31

“The days are coming,” declares the Lord,

    “when I will make a new covenant

with the people of Israel

    and with the people of Judah.

32 

It will not be like the covenant

    I made with their ancestors

when I took them by the hand

    to lead them out of Egypt,

because they broke my covenant,

    though I was a husband to[a] them,[b]”

declares the Lord.

33 

“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel

    after that time,” declares the Lord.

“I will put my law in their minds

    and write it on their hearts.

I will be their God,

    and they will be my people.

34 

No longer will they teach their neighbor,

    or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’

because they will all know me,

    from the least of them to the greatest,”

declares the Lord.

“For I will forgive their wickedness

    and will remember their sins no more.”

1 Jn 2:27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit–just as it has taught you, remain in him.

2 Cor 3:4 And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

I have a dream of a church that gathers in His Name, to glorify Christ and not our own beliefs. Where we share our beliefs and accept education, exhortation and encouragement from one another. Where there is no one head, who tells us what to believe but where believers encourage one another to believe. If we encourage one another to follow Christ, then and only then will we want to truly learn of Him and be conformed into His image. The image of Christ is His bride. That desire is something that grows within us, it is not something we visit on Sunday. No one can spoon feed you Jesus. Although, there are many gifted teachers who can give you spiritual food to chew on and be fed.

Why do churches have to birth new churches because of division within the body. If we celebrate our differences and a group has serious differences within a church. Encourage that group to explore the possibilities and birth a new work of God, instead of having a split that tears and wounds the body. The whole point of the church is to spread and grow, not to become bigger than the church down the street. When churches become too large, they are unable to meet the personal demands of the individuals so go and be at peace with one another. There is no our church or your church, there is one invisible church that belongs to Jesus Christ, whom is the Head.

I personally have found Peg and Jim Gilbert to be my ‘idea’ of the church body. Moving through and with other churches, other denominations toward the same goal, conforming to Jesus. Glorifying Christ. What that looks like and how that is expressed in our own lives is different and it is also fluid. I am not the same Christian I was 20 years ago. I have grown. But I have seen many fall to the wayside, unable to come to terms with what they see as heresy, unkindness or just plain indifference within the organized church body.

I have learned more about being a good human being moving through the 12-step rooms addressing addiction and co-dependence issues than I have from the pulpit. I have learned more about being honest with myself on a secular psychologists couch than I had from any pastoral counseling. Yet, I learned to put that together in the past few years by fellowshipping with other believers in an open and honest prayer group. With women who told it like is was and expected the same. I thank God for Mary Datz, Laura Williams and Tina Siberio. What great friends and soul mates they have proven to be. What a wonderful church body we could have if we all had friends like these, there would be no ‘isms’ no ‘others’ because godly men and women would challenge us to be as Christ to the world.

Sharing my problems and imperfections has allowed me to witness Christ in my life far more than anything else. This is me, I have trouble, I have pain and yes, I believe the Jesus can make something good come from it… I know because I have experienced Him in my life.

When at church and everyone smiles and dresses well and they are hurting but there is no place to take it. They have serious issues in their faith but cannot share it. They have questions but they can not be addressed by one man standing at the door shaking hands. Many believers have children who have lost their faith, how do we address this and how do we encourage one another in our own faith even as the world seems to be falling apart?

I have been inspired by reading great men and women of God who write: N.T. Wright, Scott McNight, Dallas Willard and so many others. My hope would be to inspire others through this blog.

Yet the scriptures also tell me:

Isaiah 2:22 

Stop trusting in mere humans, who have but a breath in their nostrils.Why hold them in esteem?

We need to be encouraged in our relationship with Christ and we need to encourage others to do the same. They don’t need them to believe exactly as we believe. There is so much room for differing beliefs but only one Lord of all. Room for differing personalities but only one Lord of all. We can not take the scriptures and reduce them to a bunch of one liners nor can we cherry pick our way through them but we must take the whole of the scriptures and see God’s hand… His way of salvation, His plan of redemption and His great love for His children. If we as parents know how to give good things to our children, how much more has the Lord God have for us who believe?

And then I must add all of 2 Timothy 2 because sound doctrine is important but without God’s love it is just another religion, another writing…

2 You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.

Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.

11 Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him;

12 if we endure,we will also reign with him.If we disown him, he will also disown us;

13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.

14 Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 16 Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. 17 Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have departed from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some. 19 Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.”

20 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. 21 Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

22 Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

May the Lord richly bless you as you walk toward our mark… Jesus Christ. God bless, andrea

Relentless by Andrea

 I am struggling with trying to get my heart on paper after the events of the past month with the horrific beheadings of innocent American journalists, the cruelest persecutions of Christians, non-muslims and Yizidis in Iraq and around the world. I am tormented over families slaughtered, children’s heads hung on posts in playgrounds, one little boy named Andrew was literally cut in two. Women raped and enslaved by the thousands. Nearly a million people have been displaced and are running for their lives. The most appalling things are being done in the name of a god we do not recognize. Once again, I am forced to ask myself what would I do if I were given the choice of pay, die or convert. Many having no means to pay, they died rather than renounce Jesus Christ. Then I must ask myself, how do I respond in my own heart to these terrorists? What would I do?

     In the midst of righteous anger, I hear my Lord on the cross and He says, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do”…. in this one statement, Christ demonstrates what our response to ISIS (Islamic State) should be, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do”.

     So what should be the response of Christians to radical muslims who behead children, rape women and enslave people… Jesus set the standard. We who know the love and mercy of God must grasp what that love looks like when confronted by the most grotesque men, who hate us and our Lord. These are the same people nailing Jesus to the cross.

     When everything in me says, please bomb those monsters off the face of the planet, I find myself thinking how much they are like Saul. Righteously rounding up the heretics, stoning them to death, imprisonment or death. Convert or die! And I pray, Lord raise up a Saul in the midst of this horror…. raise up someone who knows blood lust and finds God’s mercy. Who will then, with all the zeal of these radical muslims, confront them with their atrocities and offer them Jesus…. this is the absolute relentlessness of God. Our Lord gave everything to save a broken world, to redeem a humanity lost and on a path to eternal destruction. Jesus raised a standard so high, we can only reach it with the power of God within, Christ said,”Father forgive them, they know not what they do”.

     Yes, God is that relentless in His pursuit of a lost and fallen world.  He loves us so much that before the foundations of the world were laid out, He had decided He would come in the form of a man, suffer and die for those who would choose to live out eternity within Him.

     When everything in me wants to see these monsters blown off the face of the earth, I think of a world with a long history of atrocities that pales in comparison to today. Yet, our Lord found  a way to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. Even as they tortured and murdered believers who would bring them the good news, Christ loved them, died for them and wanted to share His life and death with them. He still says, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do”.

     This year, in this country nearly a million babies will die in their mothers womb. Across the globe over a billion have died before their first breath. It will be sanctioned by the government and little is said about it… the greatest atrocities are often the ones that we ignore. No natural disaster, plague or man-made horror even comes close to our sins. I bring these two issues together to say we all have sin, some we consider worse than others. Is there any doubt that the Lord forgives the sin of abortion? No. I can have no doubt that He is ready and willing to forgive these barbaric religious extremists.

     ISIS refuses to be ignored and our nation may need to fight them and many may die. I only ask Christians to pray, not that they get what they deserve but that they seek mercy and receive salvation through Jesus Christ. That same grace He gave to us, I pray he finds a way to give to them. The absolute relentlessness of our Lord’s love demands that we pray for our enemies and believe for their redemption.

May God be merciful, andrea