Surrender to His Voice

Surrender to His Voice

Solitude. The very word used to cause me to catch my breath. I have a big family and quiet moments were rare. But when they did happen, I became filled with fear, shame, or both from traumas that occurred to me as a small child. The trauma manifested into fear in every area of my life and made everything difficult, including relationships. I cried through my entire first semester of college any time I was alone! It was truly crippling and prevented me from living life in the abundance that the Lord wants for His children.

All of that changed around 2014-2015. Some wonderful women tuned into the Holy Spirit mentored me, spoke life and peace to my soul, and eventually my walls began to crumble. The Holy Spirit removed chains and broke generational curses off that I had no idea was hindering me in so many ways. In their place, Jesus brought redemption and a confidence in Him that I had never experienced. He brought me out of a season that had been filled with sadness and impatience, to one filled with hope and expectancy. All of this was accomplished in solitude with Him. When I finally let go and surrendered all of myself to Him, He became my refuge and His spirit ministered to my soul in those moments of abiding with him. He refreshed me and gave me new perspective and purpose for my life.

One day as I sat in my little home with my cat in my lap and my dog laying on the floor by my feet, He told me this season wouldn’t last forever and it wouldn’t always be this easy to find a peaceful moment alone. I thought great! I’ve been waiting for that! But He whispered again to enjoy this moment. Enjoy this season right where you are and this time we have together. Matthew 6:33 states to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” He was asking me to dive deep into this love relationship and commune with Him. 

In every season of life, He beckons us to draw near and sit at His feet. I have found now that I have a family those rare quiet moments seem impossible to find some days. Proverbs 8:34-35 has become my mission. “Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoever finds me finds life, and obtains favor from the Lord;”

The Lord is always watching and waiting for you and I. I hope we all will find time to answer His gentle nudge and come running to His gates with anticipation for His presence to meet us. I hope we will choose to let the Holy Spirit minister to our hearts today in whatever season we are in currently. It is not always easy in our culture, but it is what we all so desperately need.

We would like to thank Christian Greer for writing this post

Solitude is a Gift

Solitude is a Gift

As I write about solitude, I just want to be clear. I’m not talking about the worlds view or maybe your own. Which is defined as the state or quality of being alone; loneliness, isolation, seclusion. I’m talking about intentional, specific alone times of solitude between you and Jesus in prayer; where you are real, letting your guard down and can share your deepest concerns with him. Where you are strengthened and refreshed from where ever you find yourself in life. You see God gave us this gift of solitude to not feel lonely or shut everyone out, but to have a way out to get out of ourselves and the world around us and step into his divine nature and be with him.

I believe God does things on purpose, I believe that he intentionally moves and allow things in our lives to bring us closer to him and into living a life of solitude with him. He has all the answers for the everything in life we face. I know this is where he was leading me over the past few months.

September of this past year I gave birth to my son. I had a wonderful pregnancy despite some health problems I had to work through. Shortly after giving birth to him, this chain of events started that would take me to an unexpected place in my life for several months. 

Four days after giving birth to him I developed this horrible, rare, post-partum rash, and it stopped me from caring for my baby in a way that I never expected. Then, at two months old, he caught a sinus infection and from there on it seemed like he couldn’t get well. The next month he caught the flu and couldn’t seem to recover. He had continued congestion and breathing problems and was put on numerous medications and breathing treatments. I was so tired, exhausted and full of worry. I was still dealing with my own rash and my sweet baby just couldn’t catch a break. Then in January, after catching the flu, he caught RSV and was put in the hospital, and that was when it all came crashing down for me.

Have you felt like that? Have you ever felt the weight of the stuff in your life piling up on you? Like life just doesn’t give you time to stop and breath. I did; I felt like a woman at the end of her rope. I had not been in a constant place of solitude with Jesus. I had been allowing my circumstances and busyness of my life to keep me from my intentional prayer life with Jesus. 

 This is what the Lord showed me early one morning in the hospital and what I’ve been learning from this season of my life about how to get to a place of solitude.

  1. Be still – Be still enough where you can hear the Lord  

Psalm 46:10 Be still and know (recognize, understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth. 

2. Repent – come back into agreement with what he says about your situation and for not allowing him to speak the answer.

3. Rest – Live in peace and trust God for your circumstance.

Isaiah 30:15 This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it. You said, ‘No, we will get our help from Egypt. They will give us swift horses for riding into battle.’ But the only swiftness you are going to see is the swiftness of your enemies chasing you!

Even after my son’s hospitalization, he continued to get sick for two more months afterward. You know, sometimes our circumstances don’t change, but God can teach us how to walk through the storms with him and be deeply connected in him. So, I hope friends that you will choose Jesus and allow him to save you through whatever you face. I know he is for you, like he is for me, and may you be encouraged to find your place of solitude with the Lord. 

We would like to thank Brenda Martinez for writing this post

Alone . . . with Whom?

Alone . . . with Whom?

What do you think when you hear the word “solitude”?  I see a vision of myself sitting by a pond with a fishing pole.  And I truly am alone, because there aren’t any fish in the picture.  How about you?  Do you picture a desert island?  A cabin in the woods?  Chances are, no matter what you picture, you envision yourself alone.  

            Solitude can be defined as the state of being alone or withdrawn from society; a lonely life; or loneliness. Sometimes we use solitude in unhealthy ways.  One of these is being alone with our own thoughts. Solitude is not just for being alone when you are in a season of hurt or depression.  When I was a teenage girl, I spent a lot of time in solitude.  I would put on my James Taylor record – “You’ve Got a Friend,” or Carly Simon – “You’re so Vain.” Or whatever my emotions called for at the time.  I was truly in touch with my feelings and my emotions, I thought.  I was lonely, and there was a void in my heart that I needed to fill, but I didn’t know how.  Have you ever felt that void?

Oftentimes when we are alone, we are accompanied by our own thoughts.  Sometimes it is easy for me to fall into over-thinking every conversation, every interaction that I have had during the day.  I wonder if I said anything offensive to anyone if I am doing everything I can at work or with my grandkids.  I wonder … and I worry.  That type of overthinking and self-searching is NOT productive!  It can lead to depression.  That is not what God is looking for in solitude for you and me.

Another misappropriation of solitude is when we keep listening to scripts from the past.  When you are alone, do you hear the voice of a parent, teacher, or other person from your past berating you for something or giving you the “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” from your day or your current situation?  Some people mistake this script for the voice of God, but that’s also not how He operates in your time with Him.  

Closely related to these old voices is the voice of the accuser tempting, trying to keep a person overburdened and pushed down.  Scripture has evidence of people who were alone listening to the voice of the enemy and falling for his tricks.  Eve listening to the voice of the serpent.  David listening to his lust when he saw Bathsheba.  Judas listening to the enemy and turning Jesus over to the Jews.  How can we defeat this liar and expose him?  To fight the devil when we are alone, we need to study the Word and learn how it applies to our lives.

(If you’re hearing ANYTHING in your alone time that is contrary to the Word, it is NOT His voice!)

God has specific purposes for us in calling us to a time of solitude with Him.  The first is rest:  Jesus said in Mark 6:31-32 – “Come with me privately to a solitary place and let us rest for a while.”  Solitude brings us to a place alone WITH JESUS.  It is a restful, peaceful place.  

Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat. 

We lead hectic lives today!  Do you ever get to the place where everything seems like one more chore?  Even the things that you love?  I do.  Jesus knows all about these feelings.  We need rest, and the way to find that is in a time of solitude with Jesus.  Remember Him saying, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest…  Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”  Matthew 11:28-29?

Another benefit of solitude is strength.  When we have been through a rough season, or a bad day, our strength is sapped.  We feel spiritually, mentally, and physically weakened.  Isaiah 30:15 says, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved.  In quietness and confidence is your strength.  But you would have none of it.’”  Does He think that of you and me?  In times when we feel weak, we’ve given all we can give and we feel spent, we can be restored IF we will wait in solitude, in quiet with Him.  

What was Jesus doing during these times of solitude?  He wasn’t being all introspective or wondering how everyone felt about Him.  He SURE wasn’t listening to the voice of the accuser.  He was basking in the presence of His Father, enjoying fellowship with the Holy Spirit, and regaining physical and spiritual strength.  Jesus did what he did by power and presence of the Holy Spirit in His life.  He loved all His family and friends, but He gained strength from His alone time with His Father.

What are some things that get in the way of us having productive, restorative solitude?

Finding time alone. When Kelly and I were first married, we had a friend who lived in our same apartment complex.  He was a single guy, and every night when I got home from work, he was there!  He would stay for supper, and he would stay and stay until Kelly finally said we needed to have some time by ourselves.  We were newlyweds!  We were very protective of our alone time!  What is crowding in on your alone-time with Him?  Sometimes you have to get assertive and just enforce your time in the Father’s presence.  

Feeling comfortable alone:  I will admit that it is hard for me to be in a quiet house.  I usually want to have the TV or music on always.  I seem to favor distraction and escape.  Early in the morning, though, I love the quiet.  If total silence troubles you, try instrumental “soaking” music.  It fills the silence, but it doesn’t interfere with the voice of God speaking.  

Expectation:  In I Kings 19, Elijah was feeling down.  He needed the presence of the Lord.  He was looking for something BIG!  God told him to stand by the mouth of the cave.  The Lord was not in the wind, the earthquake, or the fire. “And after the fire came a gentle whisper.”  I Kings 19:11-12   

When you meet with Jesus, what are you expecting?  Some days will be full of goosebumps and feelings.  Other days will be a quiet, peaceful assurance that you are His.  I challenge you this week to find some time to have solitude with Jesus each day.  See what a difference it makes for you!

We would like to thank Sheri Warren for writing this post

Listen to His Voice

Listen to His Voice

When you hear the word solitude what does that mean to you? According to the Oxford dictionary it means the state or situation of being alone. It could also mean being lonely or in an uninhabited place. Biblically, solitude is the state of being alone and is often considered one of the traditional spiritual disciplines. How do you define your solitude? Your answer to that question may depend on the voices you are allowing yourself to listen to. Those voices could include the world, your own mind or God.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve found myself in all three of those situations. Depending on which voice I’m listening to at the time will define my solitude. It’s basically the battle between being alone and being lonely. There’s a difference. Being alone is where you are physically by yourself. Being lonely is an emotional state where you are feeling alone or disconnected from others even when they are right next to you. Solitude, done rightly, can be energizing, insightful and empowering.

Jesus found great importance in solitude. His solitude was being alone. We find in Mark 1:35 where Jesus got up early in the morning and went to a solitary place to pray. He could have prayed anywhere. However, He made solitude a priority. It was a time where He could be in a quiet environment and the only voice He was hearing was that of the Father. Luke 6:12-13 describes when Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray and spent the evening praying to God. In this instance, Jesus was looking for perspective. He was looking for guidance on which of His disciples He should designate as apostles. These men would be the ones responsible for sharing the gospel after Jesus’ death and resurrection. Such an important and critical decision to make.

Look at your five closest friends. Those five friends will be the ones who have the greatest influence in your life. Who are they? How are they influencing you? Jesus was choosing twelve, not five. It was crucial that He chose wisely. He went away, into solitude, for guidance on who was meant to be a part of His inner circle.

We see so many examples in the Bible of how Jesus made solitude a priority. If He did, shouldn’t we? Matthew 6:6 says, “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”  The greatest rewards are given to people who seek and spend time alone with the Father. His rewards are long lasting, fulfilling and eternal. When we seek recognition and rewards from the world, we find those rewards fade with time and then we are searching for the next reward to fill us.

Our world is big. Despite its size, it’s easy to find ourselves in the state of loneliness. However, our God is even bigger, and He is calling us into solitude with Him. Whatever your trials, tribulations, daily decisions or mountains are, God is waiting to meet with you. He is ready to guide, inspire, comfort, protect and give you peace. Most of all, He wants a deep, loving and personal relationship with you that is best built during times of being alone with Him.

When we allow the busyness of life to take over, we are giving the world permission to beat on us and bring us down. It makes us feel weak and defeated. Through slowing down and finding solitude, God brings us strength, help and empowerment. Psalm 121:1-2 reminds us that our help comes from the Lord. Nehemiah 8:10 tells us the joy of the Lord is our strength. Where is your strength and help coming from? In solitude you will find all these benefits and so much more. 

We would like to thank Kathy Jones for writing this post

Perseverance: It’s Not Easy, but the Rewards are Great

Perseverance: It’s Not Easy, but the Rewards are Great

Who can write about perseverance and not include a sports analogy. Certainly not scripture:  Philippians 3:12-14, Hebrews12:1-3, 2 Timothy4:7…a google search of “Bible race verse” pulls a plethora of other verses referring to races and endurance and hope. Seek them out. Be encouraged by their words. 

For my non-sports minded friend, rest assured. I will move on from sports after a couple paragraphs though. From my limited running experience, I’ve learned how crucial it is to run my race, to stay in my lane. In events, crossing into another lane results in disqualification. In life, a comparison trap brings a lie of disqualification. Briana Villarreal wrote well about persevering against lies (May 12). 

I grasp, I understand perseverance in sports. I do. I get it. You push your body to the limit and keep going. You nourish and replenish and rebuild and you try again. It’s a process of stretching and growing and discipline. It’s not fun. It’s not easy, but the rewards are great. In our society those physical rewards are celebrated. 

In great trials that are physically observable perseverance is acknowledged, supported, encouraged, celebrated. Praise God for the support given in my own season of caregiving for a dear family member through her illness and Heavenly victory. Praise God for the hope we have in Christ. (Isaiah 40:30-31) It wasn’t easy and many days I grew weary and many days my church family encouraged me to persevere. And this perseverance wasn’t easy. It was a season of stretching and growing and discipline. Yet in that season, I agree with what Pastor Brad said Sunday, May 8, “I don’t want to go through that again, but I wouldn’t change it for anything.” Persevering in this season was accompanied with pain, but there was also nourishing, replenishing, and rebuilding. Relationships developed deep tap roots. Faith grew. Forgiveness bore and continues to bear fruit in keeping with repentance. (Matthew 3:8)

These are visible examples of perseverance. But what about persevering through spiritual and mental battles that are not seen? In the same way, they are not easy, but the rewards of perseverance are great. 

Please, please! Walk these trials out in the light with other believers. You are not alone! You are not a burden! My kids are messy, but I still love them. Life is messy, but I still love you. There is beauty and growth and development in coming to the Father who cleans up the mess for us and with us. I love to write, but my drafts are messy with cutting and rewriting and rearranging. There’s beauty in a final draft though I’m sure it could be rewritten again and again. There is beauty in revising and editing life too. We are works in progress, not bound, final copies. 

That doesn’t mean we sit idle, content to have so many words misspelled that we are incoherent. No, we engage the mess and focus on one aspect at a time. Not twenty or even two. (This isn’t about spelling-it’s about what God is calling you to right now-remember also to avoid comparison lest judgement and lies enter the scene.) We are not the author. We are the page. We may have allowed lies onto our page, but God, through Jesus’s finished work on the cross and the power of the Holy Spirit, wants to rewrite our stories into one of righteousness and peace and joy (Romans 15:17). 

We don’t work for our righteousness either though. We need to abide with God. Not trying to do anything for myself when I had a fractured ankle was one of the most challenging and humbling experiences in my life. Abide in God’s love as you seek to know Him

As we persevere, we need to know the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). In Spanish, there are two words translated as “to know”: conocer and saber. Saber is to know facts; whereas conocer is to know people, to meet, to become familiar with. Ephesians 3:19 uses conocer, to be familiar with God’s love-not saber-to know about God’s love. As you persevere in God’s calling and in His promises, my prayer is that you would first and foremost know Jesus. And as you consider His endurance to the cross, “that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:3 

 Further, my prayer is this:

“…that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

Ephesians 3:17-19 (emphasis added)

PS. Most of the scriptures included in this blog were memorized in part or whole through years of study and life. Embrace where you are at and move forward with the next step that you are called to. Persevere where you are. It’s not easy, but the rewards are great.

We would like to thank Mary Coleman for writing this post

Perseverance Takes Both Patience & Persistence

Perseverance Takes Both Patience & Persistence

As women, we’re good at accomplishing 4,923 tasks in a day. We know how to persevere, right? 

I thought perseverance was this mentality to just keep going, keep hustling, keep working. Maybe it’s a West Texan thing, but it’s easy to get that mindset. I’ll just pull up my bootstraps and get this done.

I’ll feed one more baby. I’ll wash one more dish. I’ll fold one more onesie. I’ll make one more meal.

I’ll put one foot in front of the other, and I’ll just keep going.

That might be worldly perseverance, but it’s not biblical perseverance. 

In our theme verse for this year, Peter tells us that we’ve been given God’s divine nature—and out of that divine nature, we should be increasing in several qualities, one of which is perseverance (2 Peter 1:3-8). 

So what is Biblical perseverance? I believe perseverance takes both patience AND persistence. It can’t just be persistence. And patience isn’t something we muster up with our own strong will or our West Texas moxie.

Patience is a fruit we bear when we spend time with Jesus, when we ask the Holy Spirit to fill up our empty tanks, when we let our Father prune us so that we are branches that can be effective and fruitful.

So we receive patience from the Holy Spirit, but persistence is what we do—our action.

God’s divine nature is IN US. This means that the divine power to persevere is IN US. 

So how do we do this? 

We have to believe the truth of God’s word. We believe that God’s nature is in us. We receive this truth. 

We have to be filled with the Spirit. If we’re not full of the Spirit, then we’re just hustling in our own strength, and it’s not going to get us very far. It might feel like we’re persevering, but our tank isn’t going to make it for the long haul. 

We receive God’s patience when we receive the Holy Spirit, when we welcome him in our life, when we’re connected as the branches to the vine, and then this FRUIT deposits in us.

And when we’re full of patience, we can begin to persist, to endure, to take action again and again and again. 

What are our actions? What are we actually doing? We’re praying! We’re asking, seeking, knocking. What do you want? What do you need today? Have you asked for it? 

Did you give up asking somewhere along the way, when it got hard and God wasn’t moving? Maybe you need to keep asking, keep knocking on that door. If your desire is in line with God’s word, then He will do it. 

We can’t do these things out of order. You can persist ‘til you’re blue in the face, but if you don’t agree with God’s word, and if you’re not full of the Holy Spirit, your prayers aren’t going to have any power—and, worse, you’re going to burn out. You’ll give up praying in the gap, that period we have to endure between when God says He will do it and when He does it. 

Friends, don’t get stuck in the gap. Let’s be women who persevere!

We would like to thank Laura Brandenburg for writing this post

Pressing Past the Lies

Pressing Past the Lies

When asked to write a short blog on this month’s focus, perseverance, I almost wanted to say, “No, thank you.” I didn’t believe that I had really persevered through anything. I felt as though I had let the enemy knock me down and stayed down too many times to even be able to write enough about perseverance. But I reached out to a couple of ladies that pointed out many areas in my life, most I didn’t remember, where I persevered through adversity and stress. 

As children, we are full of dreams and the freedom to believe that we can accomplish those dreams. We don’t have crippling fears. We don’t worry about disappointing anyone. But somewhere throughout life, as we grow and enter adulthood, we pick up lies about who we are and what we can do; A burden that God never wanted us to carry.

We carry fear for so long, it becomes “normal”, a constant presence to which we become numb and blind. It can become so heavy a burden that we isolate ourselves and don’t meet with our sisters in Christ. We may even want to stay in bed and give up on our day… every day, afraid to reach out and let someone know that we’re struggling.

But Jesus, and the vulnerability of our sisters, gives us strength and courage. Reminders on who we are and what we have lived through push us, renewing the fire and dreams within, giving us strength to persevere and pursue once more the joy and peace God promises. 1 Corinthians says, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things”. Jesus’ overwhelming love catapults us past lies and gives us courage to persevere through anything life throws at us. His love overcomes all fear and doubt.

Vulnerability moment: Lies have held me back my whole life. I found myself deep in depression, unwilling to get out of bed. And it was caused by fear. I believed the lie that I wasn’t good enough to maintain friendships. The fear of allowing others to see me in my mess overwhelmed me, because what if I’m too much and they decide my friendship isn’t worth the mess. What if I fall short of their hopes or expectations? What if I lash out in pain and hurt them?

God didn’t create us to live in isolation. We can’t allow fear to keep us from reaching out to our mentors and friends. Hebrews 12:1 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Did you know when you speak, out loud to your sisters in Christ, about the fears and struggles you face, the fight is less daunting? Admitting to our “great cloud of witnesses” the sin we must overcome allows us to lay down the weight we’ve been carrying, and run, with endurance, our race. That is perseverance.

In 2018, I came back from living away from my parents, the church and Jesus. I wasn’t actively running away, but I was a flower that was stuck in dry soil. I was afraid to reach out and make friends because I had been hurt and felt that I had nothing to offer. After a few months of being home, in church and loved on by my parents, God gave me the courage to reach out to a woman I admired. I was terrified to open up and be vulnerable. What if I was too messy? She shared with me that “too messy” is a lie. What if I hadn’t persevered and asked her to meet me for lunch? I would have gone many more months, possibly years stuck where I was. She poured into me, and I am forever grateful for her friendship.

What would happen if we remembered that we don’t need to “have it all together”? What if we laid down the heavy burden of fear? What could be possible if we persevered through the mess and stress? We would find women just like us, reaching for Jesus and bringing heaven to earth. Romans 12:12 encourages us by stating, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Let’s rejoice for the hope He gives us, persevere through trials, and fear, and call out to Jesus and our sisters in Christ. Let’s persevere and run this race!

We would like to thank Briana Villarreal for writing this post

Perseverance in the Waiting

Perseverance in the Waiting

Perseverance is defined as “persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.” When I think of perseverance, I tend to think about it as completing a difficult task. Sometimes it has been finishing a hard workout, my master’s degree, or the last trimester of pregnancy. You mamas know what I mean! What really sticks out to me in this definition is “delay in achieving success.” God has been teaching me that perseverance can feel more passive, it’s in the waiting for a promise to be fulfilled that we need to persevere

Patience is not a character trait which comes easily to me. I like to jump in with both feet and figure things out as I go. Waiting is boring and passive. Or so I thought. What I have been learning is when we are waiting for our promises to be fulfilled, is when God is doing the hard work inside of us. 

I have been listening to Waiting on God by Wayne Stiles and it’s the story of Joseph and how he had to wait on God for His promises to be fulfilled. When Joseph was 17, he had two dreams that his parents and brothers would one day bow to him. The brothers were jealous of their father’s love towards Joseph and of his dreams. They sold him into slavery, and he became a slave of Potiphar. For many years Joseph waited on God for his promise to be fulfilled. This was not an easy journey for Joseph and there were many trials. Hebrews 10:36 says, “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” Joseph persevered through his time as a slave and received God’s promise in the end. He interpreted Pharaoh’s dream and saved many lives because of it.

Sarah waited many, many years to have a baby. AT the age of 90 God told Abraham, “I will bless her, and indeed I will give you a son by her.” (Genesis 17:16) What seemed impossible, God made possible. One thing Wayne Stiles discusses in his book is how the bible is filled with the action and not with the waiting. Sarah was a woman just like you and me. I imagine her feeling the same way I do when I’m waiting and questioning God. She probably questioned whether it was God’s will for her to have a baby and if it wasn’t, then why does she have such a desire to be a mom? 

While God has had me wait, I’ve begun to lean on him more than ever before. I think this is why He has us wait. It causes us to ask Him questions and search for answers in His word. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take” When the waiting gets too hard, I call on friends to pray for me and talk about what is going on. We weren’t created to persevere alone and in all honesty, we won’t make it if we try to. 

Finally, Galatians 6:9 says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” God has promised us a harvest when we persevere. God’s timing is always best. So, keep doing good in the waiting, keep learning on God, and ask Him questions.

We would like to thank Chelsea Criswell for writing this post

My Secret Place

My Secret Place

Editor’s note: During 2022, we are focusing on the scriptures found in 2 Peter 1:3-11. These verses teach us about God’s divine nature. We pray that as we reflect on God’s nature, you will see all that He has created you to be! For the month of April, we are focusing on God’s characteristic of FORGIVENESS.

There are some things that happen throughout our lives that are beyond understandable. What right does a grown adult have to abuse this little girl of 5 years young with such a vile sexual act that destroyed my innocence to a point of hiding it away in a deep, dark hole for no one to ever find?

Did I ever forget what happened? Of course not. This deep, dark secret reared its ugly head throughout my growing up years into my young married life, and into my life as a divorcee with 3 young children.

I was saved when I was 11 years old at an area-wide crusade in Lockney, Texas with Dr. Wilfred Moore from First Baptist Church in Amarillo, Texas officiating.  I can still hear his welcoming voice inviting those who needed Jesus to come forward…so I did. I couldn’t wait to tell my Mom and Pastor what had happened. I joined the church and was baptized that following Sunday. Not even then did I dare tell anyone of my deep, dark secret. I had just accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. All is Good!!  Jesus loves me and I am on my way to Heaven!

I did remarry, my wonderful husband of 46 years, Tim. Between the 2 of us, we had five awesome kids, great friends and family, and a successful business. The most important thing we did NOT have was a place to worship our Heavenly Father or a church family. I knew in my heart that our priorities for our family were in dire need of Jesus in our lives. Through some difficult times in our marriage, we came to our senses and made the best decision for us by “Getting Back to God.” One afternoon a dear person in my life came to me with a devastating story of being abused as a child. Up popped my deep, dark secret that I had kept hidden for almost 30 years. The next Sunday at church I went racing to the altar not knowing if I needed forgiveness or if I needed to be forgiven. You see, the Holy Spirit prompted me for years to settle the matter. Even though I hated what happened to me, I didn’t want to see “him” go to hell for what he did to me. At times I had even prayed for him but never thought about forgiving him. 

Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

I knew I had to forgive this person but there was one problem, he had already passed on, but the need for me was still there. One morning as I was getting ready to leave the house, I saw Charles Stanley on the television talking about forgiving someone who is no longer here. I was captivated by his words. I listened intently and followed his instructions. I sat down across from an empty chair and forgave. God is so good, and it was that simple.

Colossians: 3:13 “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

There is a beautiful song that describes the Love of Jesus and how he wants to abide in us and us in Him. I hope you relate to these words. I certainly did and do.

THE SECRET PLACE

My heart is like a house

One day I let the Savior in

There are many rooms

Where we would visit now and then

But then one day He saw that door

I knew the day had come too soon

I said, “Jesus, I’m not ready

For us to visit in that room

‘Cuz that’s a place in my heart

Where even I don’t go

I have some things hidden there

I don’t want no one to know”

But He handed me the key

With tears of love on His face

He said, “I want to make you clean

Let me go in your secret place.”

So I opened up the door

And as the two of us walked in

I was so ashamed

His light revealed my hidden sin

But when I think about that room now

I’m not afraid anymore

‘Cuz I know my hidden sin

No longer hides behind that door

That was a place in my heart

Where even I wouldn’t go

I had some things hidden there

I didn’t want no one to know

But He handed me the key

With tears of love on His face

And He made me clean

I let Him in my secret place

Is there a place in your heart

Where even you won’t go?

You have some things hidden there,

You don’t want no one to know.

Well, He’s handing you the key

With tears of love on his face.

He wants to make your free,

Let Him go in your secret place.

I read recently that there are 3 aspects of forgiveness.  We are either granting forgiveness, receiving forgiveness, or seeking forgiveness.  I’ve learned that Jesus is available to see us through all 3.

Ephesians: 4:31-32 “Lay aside bitter words, temper tantrums, revenge, profanity, and insults. But instead, be kind and affectionate toward one another. Has God graciously forgiven you? Then graciously forgive one another in the depths of Christ’s love.”

Sometimes I find myself asking Jesus, “Why me, Lord?” Then right after that thought comes His answer, “Love!” He let himself briefly become one of us to break the curse of sin and death forever.  Even better, He allows access to this freedom by grace through faith. I believe He has forgiven me. In Luke 23:24 Jesus spoke these words from the cross, “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.” That’s Pure Love.

I’m so glad I let Him in my Secret Place!!

We would like to thank Sue Johnson for writing this post.

Forgive like Jesus

Forgive like Jesus

Editor’s note: During 2022, we are focusing on the scriptures found in 2 Peter 1:3-11. These verses teach us about God’s divine nature. We pray that as we reflect on God’s nature, you will see all that He has created you to be! For the month of April, we are focusing on God’s characteristic of FORGIVENESS.

Forgiveness. Does that word stir up anything in you when you hear it?

Anytime you mention forgiveness, your mind can immediately recall an offense that you’ve suffered. 

So, what emotions follow the thoughts of forgiveness? Is it joy at the thought of a relationship restored? 

Do you find yourself feeling a little sorrowful because a damaged relationship couldn’t be salvaged or restored? Does anger come rushing in and take you down a dark trail all the way back to the offense where you find yourself reliving and feeling the pain of the offense all over again?

We’ve all been hurt and abused in some fashion. These offenses, left to fester, can make us bitter, angry, and resentful. We’re robbed of our joy and peace, and eventually we can be physically affected!

So, how do we truly forgive? There are many scriptures in the Bible that address this issue. Let’s take a look at a story that you’ve read many times, and even felt some unforgiveness toward some of those in the story. It’s one of my favorite stories, because it shows the love and tenderness our Savior has toward and for us.

John 8:1-11- This is the story of the woman who was caught in adultery and brought out into public by the religious leaders. She’d  been shamed, humiliated, and threatened with stoning. Now, their purpose was to trap Jesus, but it all backfired on them. In gentleness and love Jesus told each person that if they were without sin, to stone the women. They all ended up walking away. Wait for it… the one part of the story that I had never seen before, until I was faced with having to forgive, was that Jesus stayed with the woman. He asked her where her accusers were, she responded, “there are none”, and the One person who could’ve judged her, condemned her, and stoned her, forgave her! He said, “Neither do I, now go, and sin no more”! Jesus could’ve also embarrassed and humiliated the religious leaders by calling them by name and pointing out their faults instead of simply writing in the dirt, but He didn’t.

Jesus taught all who were there a valuable lesson that day, we ALL fall short, but there is forgiveness and love if we just choose to surrender.

You see Jesus addressed her sin, without condemnation, but He forgave her, and sent her on her way as if she’d never done anything wrong. That’s when I learned the true meaning of forgiveness. No, we don’t forget, only God can do that, but He has given us the ability to choose to give up our rights to hang on to offenses, and to treat others as if they’ve never done anything to us.

Luke 23:34 is another wonderful example. While on the cross, as Jesus was being crucified for our sins, He prayed and asked the Father, “ forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing”! Those are the sweetest words I’ve ever read. If Jesus, dying on a cross for sins I committed, can treat me as if I’d never done anything wrong, how can I hold unforgiveness in my heart? 

It takes a strong relationship with Christ, and much prayer, and surrender to walk this out.

Allow God to help you set healthy boundaries for yourself while you continue to walk in the love of Christ toward others.

I lived a life of  physical, verbal, and sexual abuse from my biological father and my stepfather.

My mother, too scared to know how to protect me, allowed it all. I was sent away to a children’s home to protect the reputation of my stepfather. My marriage suffered offenses that took a few years to work through, but by God’s grace we are stronger than we’ve ever been! I’ve been deeply hurt and betrayed by close friends. I’ve had to learn to let things go and surrender to Jesus so that I can be free to live in His grace and mercy, and to genuinely love others as He does. This is how those in our circle of influence are going to experience and see Jesus and be drawn to a relationship with Him. If we’re going to make disciples, we must follow the example that was set before us. 

We would like to thank Janie Keller for writing this blog post.