Like a Child

I love children! And God does, too!

I teach English at Japanese elementary schools in our town. It is so neat to see the similarities and differences between American and Japanese education. On one hand, children are children, no matter their culture. And on the other hand, there are ingrained cultural ideals regarding respect for adults and the value of education. Japanese children have really helped me to fall in love with Japan, where I was rather resistant to liking it at first.

I have witnessed such kindness in the students. For one, they always greet adults, and I am now known throughout the schools as “Love sensei”. They enthusiastically greet me with waves and high fives, attempting to communicate with me in Japanese (which I unfortunately understand very little). But it is in their little acts of kindness toward each other that have really touched my heart.

A few months ago, I brought in American candies for my classes. They were each given the opportunity to practice a conversational exchange and pick a piece of candy. They didn’t ask for more, but gratefully accepted one piece, careful not to take too much time in choosing out of respect for those after them. But in one of my first grade classes, a couple of students were out that day. I was able to communicate to the teacher that I wanted to leave a treat for those students as well, and she selected other students to stand in place of the absent children and choose a piece. These little first graders took the task so seriously! They spent more time trying to select the perfect piece of candy that they thought their friends might enjoy than they spent selecting their own piece! I remember feeling so touched by their thoughtfulness.

And just today, I was in a third grade class that was doing a craft to make a Christmas tree out of their handprints. They were passing back pieces of construction paper, and one student accidentally dropped the piece that was to go to the young lady behind him. He reached down to retrieve the sheet, and instead of handing it to her, he gave her the clean sheet from his own desk and took the one that had fallen on the floor. No one else noticed this little act of kindness, but I did, and though I cannot speak Japanese, I tried to communicate through a reassuring smile that I saw what he did and I thought it was great.

Of course, I do not mean to say that Japanese children are the only ones that show kindness to their peers. I’ve worked with American children for many years, and know that they also demonstrate such kindness. I just work with Japanese children predominately these days, and I remember in each of these incidents hearing a whisper from the Lord from the scripture in Philippians 2:3-4

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

Each student I remember chose to put the needs of his/her peers first. How often to we do such things? How often are we more concerned with making sure our own needs are taken care of that we are careless toward our brothers and sisters around us?

Jesus said

Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

Lue 18:16b KJV

The kingdom of God is made up of those with pure hearts, who demonstrate kindness and humility and love toward others. May we take the time to learn to act like the sweet children in our lives, showing little and great acts of kindness to those around us. Even if they are never seen or acknowledged by others around us, God sees and remembers.

Walk in love, and in the pure faith of a child!

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Take heed!

Hello, hello!

I was scrolling through Facebook this afternoon and came across something that gave me pause. One of my associates had posted something along the lines of: Don’t worry about what other people get away with; God has called you to a place more powerful than them. On the surface, I could see what was meant, but it rubbed me the wrong way. It seemed to rely on the idea of comparative righteousness (something I learned from Priscilla Shirer’s Armor of God study) to both make oneself feel better and to put others down. Almost like, well, they are allowed to go on getting away with some sins, but I’m above all of that because I’m called to a place more powerful than them. I think it’s the last part with which I take issue: More powerful than them.

We’re all trying to make it on this Christian journey – and a journey it is! In this past year, I have encountered some major storms but through them all, my faith and trust in Jesus has grown that much deeper. But I have found that the more I go out into these deeper waters, the more humbled I am that He would allow me to grow in this way. I know that I still fall – many times! I am aware that even on my best-behaved days, my righteousness is still but filthy rags. I understand that without the power of the Holy Spirit working within, I can do absolutely nothing, and I am nothing. And I want others to come to Him and experience Him in the same way!

As I look back over the past six months, I can see that I am not the same person. And I don’t see how I could ever go back to being the old me, with my surface-level relationship with God. And as I look around me, I want everyone to know this amazing goodness! I want everyone to learn to walk in power and authority! If God can do this great work in my life, surely He can and will do it for you – if you desire more of Him!

Yes, we are all at different levels and stages in our walk with Christ. There are those who are much further along than I am, and I can look to them as an example and for encouragement when my way seems hard. And there are those who may not be as far along as me, so I can reach back and encourage them to keep walking. At any moment, any one of us can experience a major blow to our faith; any one of us can “fall out of grace”. But I pray that my brothers and sisters in the Lord would be willing to reach down and lift the fallen one up in love, helping to restore him/her to Christ.

So, I don’t want to get puffed up, thinking that I have ascended to some higher plane and experience, suddenly rendering me immune to the attacks that may be facing my sisters and brothers on the lower levels. The Bible warns us to take heed, lest we fall. Yes, I am progressing, yes I am growing in power through the working of the Holy Spirit within me. But I am aware that that power has nothing to do with me (except for my willingness to surrender to God’s will) and everything to do with God. Just as He grew me, so He can and will grow those who may be behind me in the road. But let us remember to keep our eyes on Him, not so much on those around us, unless it is to help them up and point them to Christ.

Sisters and brothers, do not seek to compare yourself to others, for better or for worse. Keep your eyes on God. Surrender your will to His, seek Him with your whole heart, and watch Him work a miracle in your life. In all things, remain humble and grateful, remembering that the grace we have is a gift that was purchased by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. I pray you continue to grow in grace and love, rooted and grounded in the truth of God’s word.

Righteous!

Greetings in the Name of Jesus! I pray you all are well and enjoying the blessings of God.

Several years ago, when we were stationed in Germany, we had a pastor we absolutely loved. He was only there briefly during our time, as his family PCS’d before we did, but they made such an impact on our lives and we recall them fondly to this day. Before he left, he said something that has stuck in my mind all these years: You don’t have to sin.

I heard what he said, but I could not understand it. I mean, the Bible says “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)” and “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8).” As humans, surely sin is a given in our lives. Right? Of course, we want to do our best and live holy, but it seems impossible. Even Paul wrote about the struggle in Romans 7 – he wanted to do good, and yet he still found himself sinning. I know I can relate to that!

But I’ve turned those words over in my mind for these several years, wanting to know if there was indeed a way to be free from sin. And while I do not profess to have the answer to that, I do want to share what I have learned.

Our women’s Bible study at church has been doing Priscilla Shirer’s The Armor of God study, which takes an in-depth look at each piece of armor laid out in Ephesians 6:10-19. Our study for this month is the breastplate of righteousness. This particular section has spoken to me on a level that I didn’t expect. Truthfully, I never quite understood this piece of armor. Sis. Shirer takes us through 4 types of righteousness – perfect righteousness (God’s righteousness; perfect and unattainable for us humans), comparative righteousness (how good are we compared to others), imputed righteousness (imparted freely by God, thanks to Christ’s sacrifice), and practical righteousness (living a life of righteousness daily). God really began to speak to me on the imputed and practical righteousness.

We receive the imputed righteousness of God as a result of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection and as a result of our belief in Him. Abraham was an example for us – he “believed God and it was imputed unto him for righteousness” (James 2:23). God’s righteousness is perfection, the quality of being blameless before God. We cannot attain this on our own; it is simply impossible. But thanks to Christ, and His blood that covers our sin, when God looks at us we who are believers and are saved are seen as righteous!

But that doesn’t mean that we can do whatever we want and claim righteousness. Of course, when we sin (because we will), we can repent and know that God will forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. But I found the idea that God sees me as righteous quite revolutionary!

God sees me as righteous, perfect, blameless before Him. That makes me want to walk in righteousness! It goes against so much of the tradition that I’ve always been taught about how we have to earn our way into the kingdom. I recall many years of struggling, trying to live holy before God, only to leave church beat-down on Sunday after scathing messages that assured me I’d never make it in! I remember hearing messages that if you were still struggling with the “little” sins when you’ve been saved X number of years, then you were doing it wrong, and maybe you didn’t have it (salvation) after all. But to understand that I am already made righteous because of the work Christ did on the cross – well, that changes my perspective. I want to practice righteousness in my daily living, my thinking, my speaking, my existing so that I may bring honor to my Lord. I will indeed stumble, but I don’t have to wallow in condemnation. I have a new power to say “no” and stand strong against those “little” sins because now I understand who I am. I’m righteous because God says so, so I am going to pick myself up and walk in that righteousness.

I think that this type of message could really help those believers who are struggling with condemnation and guilt as they try (and fail) to live holy. Knowing that we have righteousness from God isn’t a license for us to sin. But it is responsibility and accountability. I want to do better because I am righteous. Not, I need to do better so I can become righteous; I’d never make it! Knowing that I have this precious, divine treasure in this earthen vessel gives me a little more determination and power to say “NO!” to temptation. No, I don’t want to sin, because I am righteous. And what do I look like, a righteous woman, out here sinning all willy-nilly? You’d better get thee behind me, Satan!

Seeing myself as righteous really transformed my life. Yes, I still make mistakes. Yes, I still sin. But I have found that many times, I have been able to be victorious over old temptations because I confess with my mouth that I have the righteousness of God, therefore I don’t have to sin. And suddenly, I understood what my pastor had meant. I don’t have to sin willfully. I can choose to walk in the righteousness that I have already been gifted. And when I do inevitably fall, I can recall that same righteousness, which will convict me and lead me to repentance, and I can receive forgiveness and strength to get back up and keep walking and living a holy life before God.

You do not have to sin. If you have been saved by the precious blood of Jesus, you have been gifted righteousness. Walk in the power of the Holy Spirit and choose to say no to willful sin. And when you fall, confess your sins, knowing God is faithful and just to forgive you and cleanse you of all unrighteousness; then, keep walking in righteousness. You are not doomed and you are not condemned (Romans 8:1).

Walk in righteousness. Walk in love.

Faith to Receive the “Yes”

Praise the Lord, everybody!!

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6 KJV

The past several months have been an exercise in trust for me. And I thought I had been doing well at learning my lesson! But the Lord really dealt with me this week and I had to re-examine whether I was truly trusting God will all my heart, or just going through the motions of trusting.

A week before my LSAT, I went up for prayer at church. After my pastor finished praying for me, he said, “You need to make preparation.” But he didn’t say what I needed to prepare for. I began seeking the Lord, combing through the Scriptures to find some indication of what the Lord wanted me to do. There was a teensy, tiny thought in the back of my mind; so small, I figured it was my own imagination. Law school. But surely that could not be right. My law school plans had to be put on hold for a few years while we go to Germany. Right? What was there to prepare for?

So, while I have been going through this lesson on trust, I’ve simultaneously been learning the lesson of total surrender. I have had to frequently surrender my will on the altar of sacrifice. It started off generally: Lord, I surrender my will. But over time, the prayers started to get really specific. Lord, I surrender my ambitions. Lord, I surrender law school. Lord, I surrender my desire to go to Harvard or Duke. Lord, I surrender my fears about law school. Lord, I surrender my husband and my daughter and my need to feel like I’m in control of everything in our lives. Lord, I just lay all of me on the altar of sacrifice! 

At finally, it really took root. I really felt surrendered. I had let go of all of my ambitions. I had to get real with myself and admit that I wanted to go to a top school to stroke my own ego. I tried to convince myself that God’s children deserve the best. But honestly, I wanted to be able to say that I went to a top school – for my own desires. And I wanted to be able to say it so I could impress my mother and maybe gain her approval. So I laid all of that on the altar.

If we really want to experience a breakthrough with God, we have to be willing to be really honest with ourselves. God already knows the full deal; but we have to be willing to acknowledge it. The best thing is that our wonderful God brings loving conviction to help us to confront our shortcomings, and it inspires true repentance and change in us. We accept His loving correction and strive to become all He is calling us to be, because we are able to remember:

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Romans 8:1 KJV

So I continued to seek the Lord daily, imploring Him to send me a word, a Scripture, a message – something! – to help me on my way. A few days ago, comes this small whisper, easily dismissed: I’ve set before you an open door. You see, an amazing opportunity seemed to drop into my lap once I made the surrender breakthrough. There are hybrid JD programs, that would allow me to study mostly online with some travel to the school required over time. And one program in particular just seemed to fit exactly what I needed. I began to seek the Lord, to know if this was His will for me. If so, I’d need to get my applications ready and ask for letters of recommendation – because this program could potentially start in January! Ack! If I had listened to the first instruction to “make preparation” then I would not be feeling the time crunch. Nevertheless, I trust God.

Now, here’s where the Lord really convicted me.

In the beginning, I felt this opportunity was all God. The timing, the circumstances just seemed … supernatural. But of course, doubt began to set in. I prayed and sought the Lord, begging again for a word. I’ve set before you an open door. That can’t be God. Right?

I was driving back from one of the Japanese schools where I teach, and I began to feel the Lord speaking to me. It is so easy for me to accept a no from the Lord when I ask a big thing of Him. I’ve grown accustomed to the no. I’m okay with the no, because it lets me keep walking, believing that something better is coming. But sometimes it takes greater faith to hear a yes from God. Believing that God has said yes to my requests is risky! I may have to risk my reputation, my money, my hope. What if I get it wrong? Then I have to do damage control. What if I face conflict and push back? So, it’s so much easier to just accept the no and be pleasantly surprised when it all works out. But that’s not trust! That’s not faith!

I had to repent. It’s true – I’ve gotten things wrong in this Christian walk at times. But honestly, it was because of me trying to force my own agenda on God; now I am learning to walk in full surrender. Lord, I believe You! Lord, I trust You! I believe that You will cause all things to work together for my good. I believe that Your thoughts toward me are of peace and not evil, to bring me to an expected end. I trust Your infinite wisdom and Your perfect timing. You will do what You will do. Blessed be the Name of the Lord!

I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and has kept my word, and hast not denied my name.

Revelation 3:8 KJV

I will walk through this open door with the help of the Lord! If He brought me to this open door, He’ll walk with me through the open door! Nevertheless, not my will, but His!

May your faith be strengthened, my brothers and sisters, to receive the yes from the Lord when it comes! When you seek Him with your whole heart, I promise you will find Him. May your spiritual ears be open to hear and receive what He is speaking into your heart. And may you stand firm in your faith and in the truth of His word.

God bless you! You are so loved!

He Always Causes Me to Triumph!

Many years ago, when we were stationed in Shreveport, Louisiana, the Lord put a wonderful woman in my path who became a mother to me at a time when I needed mothering. We actually bonded on a road trip to see a mutual friend of ours who had moved to Oklahoma. We didn’t know each other before that trip, but by the time we made it to OKC, it was as if we’d always known each other. There were so many parallels in our lives, and I appreciated the wisdom she was able to offer in dealing with life challenges, including infertility. Our relationship started off more as friends, but over the years progressed to a more mother-daughter type relationship. In fact, I still refer to her as “My Momma in Shreveport” when I tell people about her.

A few years ago, around the time we first moved to Japan, we were chatting on the phone and I remember her telling me the scripture that she just held onto:

Now thanks be unto God, which always causes us to triumph in Christ, and makes manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.

2 Corinthians 2:14

He always causes me to triumph.

I grabbed ahold of that Word, and it became the guide for my life. No matter what I faced, I could say: He always causes me to triumph.

When people on my job were acting funny and mistreating me, I could continue to smile and be gracious, because He always causes me to triumph.

When I didn’t know what to do next in life, I could have peace that it would all work in my favor, because He always causes me to triumph.

It works in any situation! No matter what you face, remember that God always causes us to triumph in Christ, and our lives will be a witness of Him everywhere we go. People will see you with joy, peace, and triumph in difficult and trying situations, and it will be an opportunity to point them to our source of hope – God.

Be encouraged! You are loved by the Creator of the universe. He, who sent His only begotten Son (Christ Jesus) will cause all things to work together for your good because you love Him (Romans 8:28). He will cause you to triumph in Christ – for without Him, we can do nothing.

Keep standing on His word, standing on His promises! He will surely cause you to triumph in Christ, and for that we can give God all the thanksgiving and praise and glory!

Walk in love!

You Gotta Know

Greetings, in the Name of Jesus!

I just returned from taking the LSAT – it was my first trip down to Tokyo all by myself! It was a bit nerve-wracking, navigating the airport and trying to find the bus that would take me to my hotel. But I am grateful for the help of the Lord, and for my husband’s help and patience as I texted him every other moment. I made it. (I will do a separate post on the LSAT experience a bit later, but I will say that God is faithful and I am at peace with how it all occurred. I do look forward to sharing that experience in a separate post.)

Even so, I guess this post still ties into the LSAT experience. But let’s back up a bit, so you can learn a little more about me.

I did not always dream of becoming a lawyer. It was far from my mind – my parents always said I would be the doctor and my middle sister would be the lawyer. I started out in college as a natural sciences major, and even had an internship at the cancer center on campus doing actual oncology research. And then I got married after my first year of college. And then my husband joined the Air Force early the next year. And then I moved to Texas to be with him in June of that year, leaving college after my second year. Of course, I always assumed I’d pick right back up and finish. But I didn’t. I started working, and before I knew it years had passed, and then we finally got pregnant with our daughter and got orders to Germany.

It was in Germany where I heard the call to become a lawyer, but honestly, I didn’t realize it was a call from God until very recently. We were in church, and I remember our pastor saying that he told his son that God’s plan was for him to be a lawyer because God’s people would need them in the last days. Something inside of me reached out and grabbed hold of that, and somehow, I knew that that was what I was supposed to do. In that moment, it was as if my spirit answered the call, though mentally I hadn’t really considered what that would entail.

When we returned back to the States after Germany, and my daughter went to preschool then to kindergarten, I finally went back to college. I remember the day I applied: I had just raced my first official 5K (coming in 4th place for my age group) and I went to my husband and said “I need to go back to school. Now. I want to be an English major and then I want to be a teacher.” He was very supportive and that was the beginning of a new path. Still, in the back of my mind was the idea that I’d eventually go to law school, like in my 40s or something.

In the last semester of my undergraduate major, I took Introduction to Law as an elective and fell in love! Even so, being practical (and living once again overseas, this time in Japan), I planned to do a master’s in education and teach for a while before law school. I started a master’s in special education, and while I excelled, there was always this little feeling in the back of my mind that it was not the right thing for me to do. Sure, it was prudent, a way to get a check. And I had no problem with the work (it was often easier than the load I carried in my undergraduate program) and I figured I could brute force my way through it. But something inside kept telling me that it was wrong!wrong!wrong!

I made it through 3 semesters before I could no longer keep ignoring the nudges from the Holy Spirit. And one by one, doors kept shutting in my face. Finally, I made the decision to withdraw and begin pursuing law school in earnest. I bought all the books and materials I could find to study for the LSAT. And the Lord worked it for me that my working schedule (I was a substitute teacher) provided ample study time during the day. He sent confirmation after confirmation to let me know that I was on the right path. But just as soon as the confirmation would come, it seemed something (or someone) would come to make me second-guess once again what I knew God had spoken to me.

You know, I generally believe that people mean well when they try to advise you. And I have several people I look up to an respect for their spiritual wisdom and insight. But I admit, that it can be frustrating when those you would want most to support you instead seem to find ways to try to dissuade you from God’s purpose, even if they don’t realize what they are doing. I wrestled quite a bit, with some of the messages coming at me from people I loved and respected. But each time, God also sent a clear message my way for me to keep my eyes on Him, and not on others. Humans are fallible. We make mistakes and read situations wrong, even when we try hard to live a life pleasing to God. Sometimes our own opinions just get in the way of what God would like to say in a situation. So, I have been learning the importance of knowing for myself, beyond a shadow of a doubt, what God has said about me and to me.

I admit that I do not know the whole story. I am not even sure just how He will bring to where He promised based on how my situation looks right now. But I know He is faithful who has promised. I know that His thoughts toward me are of peace and not evil to bring me to an expected end. I know that He called me to become a lawyer for such a time as this. And when He sent forth the call, my spirit said “Here I am, send me!” and I cannot go back on that. I don’t want to go back on that. I trust Him. I know that He knows how to lead me through every single step. I know that every step I take is ordered by the Lord, because I belong to Him and I delight to do His will. I know that my call is much more than a job as a lawyer, but it is a way for me to minister to others and bring the love of God to the world.

So no matter what people around me may say, I have set my face like a flint and I shall not be confounded or put to shame. I am standing on the promises of God, for His promises are yes and amen. I know I am His, and I am here for such a time as this. I give myself to His service and His will. Have Thine own way, oh Lord!

I Trust You, Lord

Greetings in the matchless, wonderful, beautiful, powerful name of Jesus! Sometimes, we need to encourage ourselves and remember WHO God is in our lives. That’s what this post is all about – a way for me to record just WHO God is in my life. I pray that it will encourage you as well.

Father, first of all, I thank You for granting me yet another day on this earth. Thank You, that Your compassions fail not and are new every morning, and I proclaim that great is Thy faithfulness! I am still here because You are faithful!

Lord, You know my struggle these past few weeks about my future and where You are taking me. But Lord, I want You to know that I trust You!

See, I know that Your thoughts toward me are good and not evil, to bring me to an expected end. I may not be able to see it, but You see my beginning, ending, and all the steps in between. You know how to bring me along the best path for my life. I trust You, omniscient Lord.

Father, when You send forth Your word, it cannot return back to You void, but it must accomplish what You please and prosper in the thing You sent it to do. I know (at least in part) some of the things that You have spoken into my heart and my life. Your word is truth. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Every word You’ve spoken will come to pass, even if I cannot see just how it can happen given my present circumstances. You are not a man that You should lie, nor the son of man that You should repent; if You’ve spoken it, You will make it good; if You’ve said it, You will bring it to pass. I trust You.

Father, though my way seems dark and it seems that I cannot see the next step ahead, Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. I will yet seek You and search Your word to find the help I need to take each step in faith. You are light, and wherever You are, even the darkness is as light around You. I trust You to illuminate my path and my heart. You have hedged me round about to keep me in Your way and You’ve laid Your hand on me to direct me. You will send a word behind me to let me know that I am on the right track. I trust You, fearless leader.

Lord, I worship You. There is none like You in all the heavens or in all the earth. You are holy. You are good. You are faithful and merciful. You see all and You know all. You are my provider, my keeper, my healer. You are my protector and my deliverer. You stick closer than a brother and You take me up when my own parents forsake me. You are truth, You are light, You keep me in all my ways. I trust You to lead me along the paths of righteousness. I trust You to bring to pass all the words You spoke over my life. You will never leave me nor forsake me. You love me like no one else. Have Thine own way.

Lord, I thank You. Thank You for saving even me, and always causing me to triumph in Christ. Thank You for Your love that never fails, for Your mercy everlasting, for Your truth that endures to all generations.

I trust You. Have Your way. I love you.

 

Bleeding Hearts

I tend to be one of those “bleeding heart” people. Even if I slap on a smile, I can be wounded easily by the words and actions of others. I’ve tried not to be so sensitive, and I generally don’t allow my over-sensitivity to control my actions, but it’s just a part of me. I remember praying and lamenting before God that I just felt like I was spiritually, figuratively bleeding all over the place. So many wounds were still raw and festering and bleeding – probably because I either tried to ignore them or I kept picking off the scabs. I can talk the talk of forgiveness, and I can appear to walk the walk – but truly, I have been walking around with many wounds and I was bleeding all over the place.

A couple of months ago in prayer, the idea came to me to begin to cancel the debts owed to me from people who had hurt me. It was a command for me to forgive them by cancelling the debts owed to me. I began to pray, specifically to cancel the debts I believed were owed to me by the many painful actions of my parents. I began to feel far more forgiving and compassionate toward them than I had ever felt before. But somewhere along the way, I stopped walking in that forgiveness, and I began to remember yet again. I hadn’t cancelled the debts, apparently, just sent them into forbearance for a while.

This past Saturday evening, a prophet was visiting our church and conducting services through the weekend. I almost didn’t go, but I knew I wanted something from the Lord. I needed Him to show up for me, personally. I needed something – anything – to know that I was okay, that I was on the right track. The prophet’s message was about forgiveness. He told us that when we sin, we create a sin debt, that must be repaid. Christ, of course, provides redemption for our sins. But what about when others sin against us? It’s up to us to extend that forgiveness – to cancel that debt. Confirmation! The exact words that the Lord had given me about forgiveness came out of this prophet’s mouth!

When he wrapped up his message and was ready to pray and prophesy over individuals in the congregation, I was the first one he came to. He asked what I needed God to do in my life. I froze for a minute. Here I am, with an audience with God – what do I ask for? Well, the issue plaguing my mind for many weeks has been what to do with my life as we go to Germany, knowing God has also called me to law school but my plans had hit a major detour. So, that’s what came out of my mouth. He assured me that God was with me, telling me at one point that He was giving me a hug, and saying how I’m trying to understand it with my mind (yes!) and I just can’t see what He’s doing (yes!). But I was assured that God was with me and He would bring me where I needed to go, along the best path. But then the prophet shifted and said that God was displeased over the condition of my heart, and it was as if He were weeping over my heart, that my heart was bleeding all over the place. Again – confirmation! Then he asked, “How is your mother?” I answered truthfully: “I. don’t. know.” Then he said that my heart had been wounded so much by my mother, but that I was receiving healing. I received it! I broke down completely sobbing and gave it all to God. I received my healing.

I stayed well after service to help my pastor and First Lady to clean the church in preparation for Sunday morning service. On the way home, I could still feel the presence of the Lord, and I just knew it wasn’t over for me. My husband and daughter were sleeping when I got in, so it was a great time to get before the Lord again. I just knew we weren’t done. I prayed and cried (a lot!) just seeking Him for help and wisdom and guidance. At some point, I went back to the debt cancelation, and I began to call the names of people I needed to forgive and to declare the debt cancelled. Then, it was as if God sent a parade of faces before me, and every single face I saw, I called the name and declared their debt cancelled. Some faces were from long ago, and honestly, I cannot even remember them all now! I didn’t realize just how many wounds and hurts I had been nursing in my heart all these years!

But if I am to truly live out God’s mission for my life – to take His love to everyone – I must be full of His love. I cannot be filled to the brim and overflowing with His love if there are these gaping holes and wounds in my heart. I thank God for leading me to the place of true forgiveness and for healing my heart. I know something inside of me is different. It doesn’t mean I don’t still feel the sting when someone wounds my heart. But I am quick to “cancel the debt” and ask God to heal the hurting place so that I can be whole.

God loves each and every one of you. Don’t allow unforgiveness to cloud your heart and put a wall between you and His love. Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection provides the redemption – the payment – for our sin debt. As ambassadors of Christ, let us extend that love and forgiveness to our brothers and sisters when they sin against us by cancelling the debt. Cancelling the debt does not excuse the sin. But it frees you to be able to be a conduit of God’s love and grace.

May your hearts be healed of all hurts, that you may continue to grow and walk in His love and grace.

Stepping Out

Greetings, in the name of Jesus!

I just love God! He always comes through for me when I seek Him. His word holds true every time, that when I seek Him with my whole heart, I will find Him.

Yesterday I posted about how God’s love is our weapon against fear. And even so, I found myself still wrestling at times with fear of the unknown future. I have been researching different graduate programs in preparation for our move and have been seeking God for direction. I had thought, For sure, I’ll do a Juris Master. Then I thought, I’ll definitely do an MBA. I could find justification and potential benefits of both programs. I had even found an MBA program that would let me do a specialization in legal studies – best of both worlds! I had completed the application earlier this week, but when it came time to submit it, my heart seized and I just couldn’t do it. I tried a couple of times, and I just couldn’t do it. I wasn’t sure if it was God telling me to wait or my fear causing me to freeze, or a combination of both.

In prayer, I did have a “wait” in my spirit. But I also had a “go forth” in my spirit. Which was it, Lord?

Then, a dear friend messaged me yesterday and shared a message she had heard in Bible study. We must move forward, trusting that wherever God wants us to be, He will open the door. Likewise, if we find ourselves in a place not in His will, He will shut the door. But the point is to just move forward, with a heart bent on obedience to His will. I knew this was in line with what God had been impressing upon my heart in prayer. Go forth. Go.

Even with that confirmation, I was hesitant. Then something funny happened. I went back to look at the MBA legal studies program, and found that I actually did NOT meet the admissions requirements. I could still apply, and the school would deny me and put me into another program instead until I met the minimum business requirements; after that, I could reapply to the MBA program. The program was not at all what I wanted, and I didn’t want to spend that much more time in a program that I was not interested in to try to get to the MBA. Hmmm….closed door? So, I said, no worries. This school also had a JM program that I was interested in. But every time I tried to click on the link, the page refused to load. I tried multiple times throughout the day! I even used a different browser altogether, and that page would still not load! Closed doors, huh? But there was another JM program that the Lord had led me to earlier, and I kept coming back to it. It is in Florida, and as I’ve kept my Florida residency throughout our time in the military, I’ll qualify for in-state tuition. It’s a well-known school/law school. It just keeps coming to my mind.

So, this morning after my prayer time, I had all but made the decision that that was the direction for me. I was journaling after my prayer time, just writing to the Lord, and I wrote: I trust you to guide me along my path, to send a word behind me saying, this is the path walk in it.

And that scripture hit me like never before.

And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.

Isaiah 30:21 KJV

You see, the confirmation comes behind you, after you are already walking. That means you have to step out and start walking in faith! So often, we are waiting for a word in front of us, to herald us on our way. Here is the path, just up this way! We don’t want to move until we know absolutely for certain that we are on the right path and that we will not make a mistake and will not find ourself on a detour, or worse – a dead end. But that’s a mistake! We must be willing to step out on faith, even when we cannot see the entire path before us. With a heart of obedience and a desire to submit to God’s will, we can trust that God has already determined the path and He will guide us along the way. As we walk, He will open and shut the necessary doors to fulfill His purpose in our lives. And He will send His word behind us to let us know that, “Yep! You’re on the right track. Keep walking, Precious.” 

My brother and sister, do not be afraid to step out. If the Lord has been urging you to take a leap of faith, I pray you gather your courage, seek Him, and jump. Do not be afraid to take that first step, even if you are unsure of the steps that come afterwards.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Psalms 119:105

Sometimes, we have only enough light for one step at a time. But stay in His word. Continue to seek His face. Step out on faith. He loves you. His thoughts toward you are of peace, to bring you to an expected end (Jeremiah 29:11). Because He loves you, you can trust that He will be with you every step of your journey to help you to fulfill His purpose in your life. As for me, I am going to continue my preparation for the LSAT next month, and I am going to take that (wonderful) score and apply to this JM program. I trust God to open and close the necessary doors.

May you walk fearlessly in His love!

No Fear!

The gospel and epistles of John are probably my favorite books in the Bible because they are so full of God’s love. I often tell people who don’t know where to begin in reading their Bible to start with the books of John. For me, I can just feel the love of God coming off the page and wrapping around me, providing comfort and strength when I’ve felt alone and lowly.

From childhood I have wrestled with fear. Yes, it is likely a part of growing up for most children, learning to deal with and confront fears. But like others who can understand this experience – it was more than just being afraid of the dark or of heights. For much of my life I wrestled with a fear of death. There have been times I felt that I would die young, and in a violent way. I did not want that; I did not live a violent life (we couldn’t even watch violence on TV – we didn’t even have a TV for a good chunk of my childhood). I just could not shake this fear of dying. At times I obsessed over it in morbid fascination, committing to memory poems about dead children and choosing the song I’d want played at my funeral. Other times, I had to force myself to even go out into the world, because I was so sure I would not make it back home alive. After I had my daughter it got worse. I remember having what I now realize was a panic attack, and lying on my sofa in our apartment in Germany believing that I was getting ready to draw my last breath at any moment. In fact, I was sure at times that I would not make it out of Germany alive. I could see it clearly, the car flipping on the autobahn and me going into eternity (the final destination was up in the air at that point, though). The visions were so clear I felt they just had to be premonitions of certainties to come. It was only the help of the Lord that allowed me to continue to live, and helped to pull me through the days to a place of peace and rest.

But fear is not how God intends for His beloved to live. Jesus said

I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

John 10:10b KJV

Fear is from the enemy. It keeps us bound up and prevents us from progressing and growing in God’s grace. Fear can stifle us, silencing the words that God put in us to speak life to ourselves and others. Fear has a way of making even good days seem like foreshadows of doom and destruction. Fear sucks the joy out of living and separates us from the love of God.

John encourages us in 1 John 4 to be perfected in God’s love, for

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

1 John 4:18 KJV

When we understand that we are loved, we have the greatest weapon against fear. God’s love banishes all fears, including fear of death. For when I realize that I am loved by God, and that I have been obedient in following His ways, because of His grace, I need not fear what happens when I die. God is in control of what happens in this life and beyond, and I know I belong to Him, so I need not worry.

I do not have to fear what others think of me, because I am the apple of God’s eye (Psalms 17:8).

I do not have to fear when people try to plan against me to take me down, for God is my light and my salvation (Psalms 27).

I do not have to fear when even my own parents turn against me, for the Lord will take me up (Psalms 27:10).

I do not need to fear the future, for God already has plans and provisions in place (Jeremiah 29:11).

Beloved child of God, you have no need to fear anything, anyone, any event in this world, for you are loved, and no one can ever separate you from God’s love.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor powers, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come,

Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39 KJV

When fear comes upon you to torment you, call upon Jesus and use the word of God to fight against it. You are not without hope, nor are you without weapons. God’s love and God’s word is powerful. Read it and commit it to memory until you are utterly convinced of the love that God has toward you. Continue to seek the Lord through prayer and reading the word.

May you be convinced beyond a shadow of doubt, that you are loved, that you are chosen, that you are worthy. May God’s love wrap around you in a very real way, providing peace and comfort at all times.

You are loved. God loves you. I love you.