He could have said No..

As I was driving this morning in my car to work, I was praying. I was singing worship songs as loud as I could. And then I felt prompted to pray. What led me to pray was this thought. He could have said no. Jesus. When he was arrested and forced to carry a cross, He could have said no. He could have no to the world. He was subjected to scorn, mock, and humiliation. He was publicly flogged and beaten until his skin was torn and flesh was hanging off of his bones. But he didn’t say No.

He said this.

Luke 23:46- Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” 

 

He didn’t hesitate. He didn’t say No to His Father. He didn’t say No to us. He said, Father, do what you will. If it was up to me, I would have said no. I would say something like…”God, this world will keep breaking your heart. They still will refuse to give themselves to you. They will still hurt you. This really won’t make a difference. Why are you punishing me and having me stand in the gap for them? They who mock and scorn. They who spit on me. This won’t stop them from sinning.”

But I am not Jesus. He said Yes. One of the few times you hear him question God is when He said “God, my God. Why have you forsaken me?”

God didn’t forsake him to punish him. But to free us. Ever drop of blood, every bit of flesh that was whipped, every crown upon His head was to free us. Can you imagine how hard it would be to sacrifice your own son so that millions could live?

Whom else, but the greatest Father, would do that just so that we would have a relationship with Him some day? I can’t even fathom it.

Just as His flesh was torn, the veil was torn. The veil that covered the wall between sin and our relationship with God.

I could not go through the unbearable pain and suffering that He did. But He did it. For you and I. So next time you think you are living an uneasy life as a Christian, or even as an unbeliever, remember this.

He could have said No.

Jesus came to Earth. Not to live as the King he is. But the servant of our hearts. And he did not wear the finest clothes or travel by jet. He didn’t wear designer clothes. He didn’t wear an Armani suit. And I’m not saying that is wrong. But too much excess does not equal success. If you live your life for yourself and not for God, you will have a shallow and empty way of living. Live the life of a servant. Learn what it is like to serve others. 

With my new job, I am learning this. To be a servant. I serve people. I serve food. Am I saving the world? No. I am just making a means to pay my bills. But, I am grasping what it means to have the heart of a servant. I am not only serving food. I am serving joy to others while I serve. I am serving hope when they need it. I am serving a smile to them in their dark days. Do they always receive or reciprocate? No. But if I can make a difference by doing just that, then God is working in me.

Maybe you are at a place where you hate your life. You hate your job. You think it will not get better. You just count down the hours until you can go home because you are in physical pain. But ponder this for a minute. If it was your last day on Earth, would you just want to do your job and go home. Or would you want to help save someone’s soul? Would you want to leave God’s mark on their hearts? Because, in the end, your life is not measured by financial success. It is measured by your character. It is measured by the little acts of grace that people might need. And maybe you will be someone’s catalyst to salvation.

Share Jesus through your words and most importantly your actions. People listen and observe you more than you think. I find that I am already being tested in my character at my job. But if I invite God into my day, I can face it. And you can too. You can face those lions with courage. Because you have God by your side. “If God is for you, who can be against you?” With God, you are a majority. By yourself, a minority. Make a difference.

Instead of saying no to helping people around you, say yes like Jesus did.

And I just want to say to those who might read this, thinking “What is all this God and Jesus stuff? Is he even real? I don’t know if I believe all of that.” To those who read this, rolling their eyes or laughing…I say this to you. You can’t deny what is real. Jesus is real, God is real and He does love you. And he did die for you. Whether or not you deliberate that is your own choice. But He is the way to new life. He is the ticket to your freedom. There is no one that could love you more. And don’t question your worth when it comes to Him. Because you are worth dying for. He proved it a long time ago. But it’s up to you to except this great love. Even if you argue on whether or not it is true…you can’t question something that doesn’t exist. There is no submission fee to becoming a child of God and a Christian. You just say…Jesus, I believe. And I want you to prove yourself to me. Come into my heart. Change me inside and out. And help me understand who you are. I want to know you are real and I want you to prove yourself to me. And he will.

Love all of you who read this,

-M

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50 Shades of??

So, I heard years ago, there was this bestselling book that was trending the world. First, the annoyance of die hard Twilight fans. Now the 50 Shades fans. I had never heard of it. I just saw the picture of the book with the fancy tie on it. It is times like this where I am glad that I am not a bookworm. I’ve heard mixed reviews from people because I never intended on reading the book. The trailer has just went viral. Out of curiosity, I wanted to see what the fuss was about. The trailer should not even be shown on national TV. It’s as graphic as they can show in 30 seconds.

I read the Wikipedia synyposis of what the book is actually about. I was thoroughly disgusted. Girls are reading this. Grown women are reading this. What is this teaching our women? That it is ok for a man to literally punish you? Oh, only as long as he gives me gifts to make up for it. Pretty soon, our daughters won’t even be able to tell the difference between rape and love. In the book, the girl signs a contract that allows a man to discipline and punish her. And in return gets gifts and job offers. This isn’t that much more different than prostitution. Only she does consent. What the heck?? This is the man we should be saving our virtue for? A guy in a suit that uses us like a toy, on his own terms and then expects us to be ok with it?

What kind of message is this preaching? It disturbs me. This is stirring up the hearts of our women. You think men are the only ones with a problem of pornography? Wrong. Women also engage in it too. And it may not be in the form of a movie. But a book. This is dangerous.

What you read will either feed you or eat you. Sometimes you think you are being fed. But your mind, thoughts and emotions are being eaten alive. -M

The woman in this book is a naive virgin. She finds the man intimidating. But she succumbs to her attraction to him. And she lets him take ownership of her. She allows herself to be degraded, used, abused, and beaten with a belt. That is what happens when you are not in a life of Christ. You will accept anything given to you, whether it feels good or doesn’t.

Abuse is not a turn on. It leaves scars that you may never recover from. And to glamorize that is a sickness. I don’t care how good looking a guy is. He should respect me and treat me with kindness. If he doesn’t, he will not be in my company.

These books go against everything I believe in: purity, respect, and freedom. I will not waste my money to see this film. And if you are, shame on you. What are you feeding on?

Away from here

I have lived in Kentucky for about 4 years. And when I first came here, I knew I wasn’t really home. It had moments where it felt like home. But that has passed. I had a full time job, friends, co-worship leader at my church, etc. I felt like I had it all together. I was established. However…when I first came here, being in Kentucky was not my first intention. My first intention was to go to South Carolina. I visited there a few years ago and I fell in love with it. It has a Southern charm feel to it. And I felt like it could be MY home. I could see myself living there. I tried to forget about it. I tried to make things happen here in Kentucky. And they did. But now, everything is gone. I do have a job again. But I have few friends here now. Not much of a social life (by choice) and I have a strong itch to move again.

All my life, I have been somewhat of a gypsy. Traveling with my family caravan from state to state. So far, I have lived in 4 of them. I am at the age where I am ready for an adventure of my own. Without my parents. My heart is still in South Carolina. And I don’t really know why. Maybe out of curiosity or just magnetically drawn to it again. But I want to give it a try. I won’t be leaving tomorrow for it. But..I will be planning for it. So I am going to keep working hard at my job so that I can be transferred one day to S.C. I have a feeling that South Carolina is where I am supposed to be. I will be praying about it. But I am going to get my ducks in a row so I can do that.

I have also contemplated going to a training school for worship leaders. There is one in S.C.. Which is another reason why I feel led to move there. But, God willing, in HIS timing. Not my own.

Praying for Answers or Answering Prayers?

As I sit here, unable to sleep, I am pondering this thought. God showed me this today during my praying and worship time.

Instead of the world always asking me for an answer to their prayers, maybe they could answer mine. -God

Wow, God. That is deep. I never really thought of it that way. But it is true. We are always asking, “God, please do this.””God please do that.” As if he has some sort of quasi-genie dimension. And we get greedy. We ask all the time. And He does love to bless us beyond measure. But more than that, He wants us. Just us. Just a moment with us. A moment with our hearts. He wants to know what we are feeling, where we are at. He loves it when we pray to Him. Because that is part of devotion and commitment. And it is honor.

I had an emotional day. And even though it was an hour or so, it was the most eye opening, heart wrenching hour with Him. I was in my bedroom and I cried out to him. I was sobbing. Before that, I started singing. I was singing with all of my heart and lungs to Him. I was starting to come up with new songs. Worship songs. So I just started singing from deep within my soul. These beautiful words formed to express my love for Him. And I fell to my knees. The tears burst right out of me so strongly. And I poured out everything I was feeling on that carpet. Things I was in denial about. Things that I needed to express from my lips, not my thoughts. And I felt something being released.

As you know, if you’ve read my past blog from this year, I had not worked in 5 months. Longest 5 months of my life. I know that comparing it to Moses’ adventure in the wilderness with the Israelites is no comparison. But I felt that I was in a wilderness. And it was dry. I had to let go of things, people, idealistic expectations of life. It was hard. But imminent. In that time, He has shown me and helped me grow and mature in my relationship with Him even more.

I prayed and prayed for answers. “Why is this happening to me? Why is nothing working? Am I even in the right place??” And one day, while in my pool, a rainbow appeared. No cloud. No rain. And if I wasn’t there, I would not have seen it. Because it faded 10 minutes later. He was showing me His love. He was showing me that He cares that I am going through this. And a few days later, I had a job interview. And I now have that job. Is it the job I prayed for? No, not really. See, the thing is, He answers our prayers, but not in the way we expect. Why? To teach us. To show us. And when we press into Him, he gives us clarity in why things are happening and what He wants us to learn from.

I have a job. But it is not fulfilling to me. It is not really fun. The only good thing is it will provide for what I need. He answered my prayer. But one thing I will keep asking myself, one thing we should all ask ourselves is…how can we answer His prayers?

What is His prayer? To spend time with us. To letting Him use us for His glory and His purposes. He’s not asking for every second of our day. But His prayer is to be our number one priority. His prayer is for us to be his hands, feet, and tell the world of His great love.

Instead of always asking God to answer OUR prayers, maybe we should try answering His.

To rephrase John F. Kennedy in my own version: “Ask not what God can do for you, but what you can do for God.”

Riding the waves…

Anticipation is what I feel. Like I’m a surfer waiting for that next wave. And the wave after that. And to ride that wave as if I’m flying. God has opened new avenues for me. Avenues I never considered. So I will ride this wave that has come for me. But I have a feeling that there will be another wave followed by another. Because God’s love is like the ocean. And his fingers are the waves. Whatever he puts his hand on crashes into people. And they become immersed in peace. And grace. And purpose.

I see my dreams unfolding. I see my face changing. I see my vision expanding. It is a great feeling. And I see the impossible become possible. But only with God can this happen. Only with God do I have the strength to reach for the stars. Because He made us to create and teach. And preach. And share. And evolve. And love.

I heard the saying once. That “if your dreams don’t scare, you are not dreaming big enough.” My dreams clash with my fear of failure. And that is why they never get closer. But if I work through this fear and let my faith take over, then my dreams should be closer to coming true.

What scares you? What is so big to you that God can’t handle it? Fear is the stepping stone to your finding your faith. Fear is not always a bad thing. Sometimes it draws us closer to the arms and hands of our Father. But don’t let your fear become bigger than God. Conquer it and then replace it with faith.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”-Isaiah 41:10 NIV 

 

His ways are usually not our ways…

Something God has been trying to beat into my head lately is that He does NOT think the way I do. I usually have a plan. And push that plan thinking it is what is best for me. But the last 30 years, I learned something. I have no idea what is best for me. In the past, I made decisions that ended up in regret. The men I had planned to marry in my head were never right for me. The jobs I planned to be established in would have been a long dead end road. I did not know this. He did. He knows how things will end up if my life was up to me. He has spared me by shutting doors here and there.

If there is any life lesson to learn, it is…that we have no idea what we are doing. Not really. We think we do. And if you think you do, you are sorely mistaken, my friend. As you know for months, I have been out of work. I have been almost literally going out of my mind because of it. Making poor decisions in my health. Eating the wrong things. Uggh. Because that is what the unemployed do. They wait. The phone never rings. Interviews happen. But there is no follow up. It is a pressure cooker. And every time you see a new opportunity, you go after it while waiting for the other shoe to drop. That is not faith. I know. But I will have my moments in my Christian walk where I fail. Sometimes daily. There are moments where I have more faith for someone’s life to change rather than my own. However…I can’t tell you know how many interviews I have been on, how many jobs I have applied to. How many times I check on Indeed.com, Monster or Careerbuilder. How many temp companies I have given my resume to.

The point in this very extensive rant is that I groan and complain when things don’t work my way. I had a few weeks like that. Complaining to God, “Seriously, what are you doing? I’m drowning here.” And I know that God doesn’t deserve to be talked to like that. But you reach a point beyond doubt to the point of frustration and it just happens. I’m not going to punish myself for questioning why all the doors have been shut. I am human. But…he opened a door for me recently. A job in which I have no experience whatsoever. Something I never thought of trying before. And after weeks of frustration, I heard back from my interviewer. You would think my first thought would be relief. It was more of unappreciation. “God, this was not the plan.” And it is as if he said “Yeah, I know.”

Earlier that day, I was sobbing and pouring my heart out to God. I was reading His Word, trying to grasp some encouragement. I didn’t really receive that much from what I read. My guess is I was too prideful to really press in. I was reading the book of Joshua. It was a story about how Joshua defeated the Amalekites. And I love hearing stories about triumph over trial. But…to me it was just a story of triumph for Joshua. Not for my own. Later that evening, I decided to volunteer with my parents to serve at The Salvation Army. That was rewarding. People were so gracious just to get a meal. After that, I went to Southland Christian Church, whom I am so blessed to be a part of. They featured A Night of Worship. It was a beautiful memory I will always treasure. I didn’t know it. But at the very moment I was serving at Salvation Army, a lady called me back and wanted to schedule me for an orientation. It was not the job I wanted. So my reaction was unpleasant. But here I had been praying and praying for the right job. And I felt completely ungrateful when I wasn’t happy hearing the message.

The moral of the story that I so graciously shared every detail (and I mean every detail) is that His ways are higher than mine. His ways are perfect. His ways are wise. And mine are not. So I am trusting Him in this process. If you are struggling with something you were blessed with but didn’t really wish for it…I remind you that God knows what is best. If He is your heavenly Father, trust Him. He knows the beginning and the end of your life. He knows the paths we will try to take. And at times stop us from leading down the wrong one.

He looks out for us even when we don’t look out for ourselves. Thank you God for your grace and forgive me for my unappreciation.

Be grateful and be gracious.

-Mare

It is for freedom you set us free…

Today represents one of the most notorious days. The Day of Independence. I have many things to be grateful about being independent. But…also I celebrate dependence on other things.

For one thing, I am grateful for the men and women who fight for this country. I am thankful for the people who stand in the line of fire and sacrifice time with their families so that I can be with mine in peace.

Secondly, I am grateful for independence from others. I am independent from having to please the opinions of others. To be independent from the ways of the world I live in. To be independent from obligations. To be independent of the word yes. I have learned I should not say yes to everything.

Most importantly, I am grateful for my dependence on God. My heavenly Father. I am grateful that I can still and will always depend on Him to supply all my needs. To supply the endurance of my heart struggles. To supply me with people who love and support me. To supply the love, patience and faith that will help me stand for all of my days.

Don’t get me wrong. I love and give my utmost respect for what our soldiers and heroes did for this country. But the very first soldier to lay his life down for me died thousands of years ago. His name is Jesus Christ. He stood in the line of fire for me. He stood in the gap for me. He died a brutal death. But I am also grateful that he didn’t stay in the grave. He rose and is still my soldier, fighting for me. Fighting for life for me.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. -Galatians 5:1

IF you are still enslaved in the idea that you have to do what everyone says or think the way they do, I challenge you this. Say goodbye to the dependence of that. Depend on God and God alone. Don’t let anyone put a yoke around your neck. And don’t let anyone but God’s Word dictate to you in the way you should live. Say no to the dependence of others. Say yes to the independence of others. Say yes to the dependence of God.

Unfortunately, slavery still exists. Our country has moved forward in ways. But still backwards in other ways. Children, men, and women are enslaved. Pray for them. Don’t turn your head the other way. Because it only takes one person to free another. That little voice in your head you can only ignore for so long. If you are free, try to free someone else. And don’t take advantage of the breath and life you have.

Happy 4th everyone.

Stay strong and stay warriors!!

<——–Singularsongstress—-+

It pays to obey…

Recently, I have been experiencing new changes. Not only in my perspective. But with no one else in my life, I have felt cleansed from the opinions of others. Which leaves me to only focus on God’s opinions. Since March of this year, I decided to read the Old Testament in my Bible. I was prompted to and I didn’t really know why. I confess I have not read the whole Bible. Ever. I usually read the New Testament because it was the stories of the disciples and Jesus. I never considered the Old Testament to be important. Gasp! Did I, a Christian just say that? Yes. I thought it was ancient law. So it didn’t apply to my life or the times I am living in. The more I read it, the more I find this muddled thinking is wrong.

The Old Testament is just as important for the times today as it was then. The importance of God’s first covenant with humankind. Yes, it is the law. And because of Jesus forming as a human sacrifice, we do not live or die by the law. But we are saved through God’s grace. However..it does not mean the law is irrelevant. When God used Moses to set a standard of rules back before Christ…it was the way He intended for us to abide and live by. Some rules were kept in tradition and some rules have been thrown away by modern Christians. And some rules are just plain ignored. But this was the manual. This is how the law, currently known as our government was formed. There were judges, high priests. People who determined who was right and who was wrong. What the punishment was.. I’m saying all this to bring up the lesson God was showing me today.

I was reading Deuteronomy. I notice that the words “If you obey my commandments and statutes”..several times. God blessed the Israelites on Mount Horeb. On one condition. That they love, honor, and obey him. Sounds like a marriage vow, doesn’t it? That is because it is. Obedience. On the other side of it, curse came with disobedience. And it wasn’t just a little lady in Italian muttering an Italian curse under her tongue. This was like a you will die or your enemies will smite you kind of curse. But if you obey, the blessing will come around. If you obey his commandments…there is reward. Not only will God honor you. But he will bless you. This doesn’t always mean financial blessings. The prosperity message is very cliche and frankly, I am a little tired of hearing it. There are blessings that don’t involve money. It could be a blessing of peace. It could be a blessing of receiving joy you have never had. It could be a blessing of a loved one coming to Christ. Or in the last scenario, having your needs met financially.

As I have previously blogged, I have not worked in months. More than a few. A few and some. But, even in my financial woe, I am complete. He has provided for me. I am not homeless. I am not in major debt. By his grace, I have paid my bills. I have still managed to tithe or give offerings. But I still worry at times. I still worry about finding a job. I still worry how I will pay my upcoming bills. And he showed me clarity as I read the chapters in Deuteronomy. “If you obey and keep my commandments”. So far, I have done that. I have rid myself of things that would keep me from him. I try my best every day to be humble, obedient. So, if I am doing mostly everything right, why do I still worry? He said to me “If you are obeying, what are you worrying about?” I was like..”I don’t know, God.” When you do the right thing, subsconsciously or consciously, you wonder what will happen anyway. I have to stop worrying and just obey.

He knows my fears. He knows my cares. And He talks to me about them. He said to me one morning “It doesn’t take faith to walk through a door. It takes faith to keep walking even when you don’t see a door.” So true. You don’t need faith to see it. You need faith when you don’t.

So, the moral lesson in this is: If you obey, you should not worry if your needs will be met. Our God is a great God and He provides and takes care of those who love Him. Those who do not know or love Him carry the burden of trying to meet their own needs. And that can be exhausting. If you don’t know Jesus, you will never experience peace or joy of not knowing when things will happen. I am discovering and finding my happy and my peace.