Why we should welcome homosexuals into our churches – the thoughts of an evangelical, pentecostal Christian

I never really speak about this issue publicly.. in person or on social media. I guess the reason why I never do is exactly what draws me to write this post.

My eye was caught this morning by a headline stating, “Vatican official says homosexuals welcome. “ I am not Catholic but that headline could be interchanged with any headline from a Christian news website.

The whole idea that..” I’m a Christian. . I don’t like gay people, ” is an unfortunate brand that has been placed upon the church.. And it saddens me to say, that many times,  for good reason. But the truth of the matter is – of course homosexuals should be welcome in our churches! Any follower of Jesus who thinks any different should examine their relationship with Him. 

Now I understand that for a lot of people it’s just the changing of the social tides that make them uncomfortable with the statement that gay people should be welcomed into our churches and that is the force that drives Conservative news providers to publish articles like the one aforementioned in this post. We must remember that we live in a fallen world. We live in the enemy’s domain. Regardless of how life was in the good ol’ days. . We should not expect the world to follow the light. . Because without Jesus..There is only darkness. History is beginning to repeat itself and the prophesies from the word of God about the end of the age are being fulfilled. Early Christians were tortured, persecuted, and despised. Followers of Jesus should never expect the world to adhere to Gods plan because Gods plan brings forth happiness and life and the evil one who has temporarily usurped Gods throne over this world doesn’t want his subjects to have life. . But only sadness and death. Our mission is not to force the world into our Christian box but to show them the unrelenting and never failing love and mercy of Jesus Christ.

In the past I have sat on the pews of the F.M. Church of God as a drug addict.. I have sat on the pews of the FMCOG as a thief.. A liar. .as a person addicted to fornication and sexual immorality. . As a defiant and proud sinner. All of us have and still continue to do so every Sunday because we are all sinners and it’s only by the grace of God that we have been made right with God through repentance and by the blood of Jesus. 

I will never apologize for calling homosexuality a sin. It is what it is. But good lord! I’m glad that there was never a stigma within the church that said liars, drug addicts and thieves were not welcome to enter into God’s house. Because, if so, I would probably be dead and my soul eternally dammed to hell right now. Jesus came for the broken hearted.. Jesus came to set free the captives trapped in a bleak and lonely wasteland of sin. . Not for the righteous. 

I pray that the pews of my church will be filled by gay people. Before I was married, I sat beside my partner in sexual sin many times in God’s house. Before i was redeemed i sat under the influence of drugs many times in church. . Actually, in the past, when i would finally relent to my parents pleading and go to church . . I used to make it a point to get high before church so to numb myself to the conviction of God’s presence. But you know what? God still reached me and planted seeds of life within me.. even though i would walk right out that door and continue in my selfishness and in my refusal to serve God. . He still loved me and wanted me in his house and in his presence because He had other plans for me!

Let us all look at life not through a temporary eye piece but through an eternal one.. Not with a proud heart but with a heart humbled by the love and mercy of Jesus.

cries from a soul astray – wandering without God – post 1

I have very few possessions left from my past. When I look around my house, it is difficult to find something that was in my house 10 years ago. There are a few reminders from my past hanging on the walls around me.. there are a couple of things scattered about in my kitchen cupboard,but that’s about it. Most everything else has disappeared along with the last decade of my life. There is one piece of my past that I still have in full though. Starting with a diary that my mom got me in 1992 (reading that one is hilarious), I have all of the journals that I have written into during my life. I am so thankful to have these still.

For some reason, I’ve started pulling them out lately. I feel like I should post some of the things in them. Sharing this stuff isn’t necessarily what I really want to do here.. wow, for once in my life, im actually kind of sheepish about sharing something. Facing and sharing these sad bits and pieces of my life kind of wears on me. The feelings I get when I see these old scribblings are bittersweet. A part of me is grieved for the time I lost. Running from God consumed all of my teenage years and many of my young adult years as well. I could have been whole if I would have only held tightly to my Lord. Its hard not to ask myself,

what if?..where would I be now if I hadn’t lived in rebellion against God for all of those years?

When I do find myself pondering the “what if’s”.. I am quickly reminded by a consuming peace from the Lord that there are no “what if’s” when he is involved. He has had his hand upon my life through it all.   Every rebellious step that I took.. as I desperately tried to run away from His call..every frantic stride that I made – they were all apart of the plan he had for me and the good of my family.

Jesus can change the actual course of our lives.  IF – we let him.

If we allow him to, not only will he erase the darkness and shame of who we used to be, but he will also cause great things to come from our new lives in him. Giving your life to Jesus will change the course of history..it will change the path of your family. He will tear down and destroy the curses that have stretched out for generations over your family .. all in an instant.

IF — WE LET HIM.

Thank you my merciful father for being patient. Thank you for giving me this song to sing. I pray that  – by your mighty works – others can hear this song and be drawn to the selfless and pure love that you have for us.  Thank you my merciful father for bringing me – a lost and forgotten little ragdoll back to LIFE!

This is the first of several journal entries that I will share over the next few days. This is the background of my life that I use to help me when I am trying to measure just how unbelievable the redeeming power of Jesus Christ truly is. The words that you will soon read are the words of a girl battered by years of living for herself..a soul aching without God.

I feel that I am nothing more than a ragdoll — A pretty little ornament that was once the center of my owner’s life.

In days past, DAYS FAR AWAY FROM NOW, I heard laughter, felt such love — because I was of such use.

Now, after some endlessly dark nights, I have become nothing more than a motionless pile.

Occupant of my lonely corner — where I am forgotten.

The crimson paint that once proved my beautiful smile has dimmed to be nearly erased — and I am expressionless.

Little Ragdoll eyes stare with such desire to see the one who once loved me.

No amount of hope will bring them back.

I’ll remain this discarded little doll until the wind comes and finally unravels my soul.

With a fierceness, I will be sent into the void of a damned eternity still forgotten and unclaimed.

– dated, October 9, 2004

No matter how long you run or how much you try to fool yourself as you fill the hole in your soul with other things..we all yearn for God. We are all programed with a gap in our soul that ONLY he can fill. If you find yourself in a place of solitude and longing for love, like what is written below..hang around these next few days as we work through all of this together. Jesus gave himself as a sacrifice on the cross so that we could be made “clean” enough to go before God. The cross that Jesus died upon was stretched out across the heavens to bridge the gap that once fell between God and his fallen creation. All you have to do is ask Jesus to reveal himself to you..and he will. Tell him that you believe that he died for your sins..so that you could be made whole. He will enter into your life and work things out day by day. Jesus is not a savior of confusion.. He is the opposite of confusion. He is freedom! .

rag

a letter to those who regret abortion

i have no political motives for this post. This post is not about right or wrong. this post is about hope.

I recently had the honor of meeting a brave young woman. I will call her “Mary.” Mary is thirteen. I don’t know much about mary’s life; the things that i do know reveal a little girl who understands what loss is. Sadly, her situation is just one example of the many broken children that are suffering the consequences of the world in which they live..a world created by selfish men and woman who forgot about God.

Mary found out that she was pregnant a few months ago. She hid it from her mother for some time. When she finally told her mother, her mother told her that she could have an abortion or she would have nowhere to live. Mary begged her mother not to make her do it and to let her give the baby up for adoption. Her mother told her that adoption would be too much of a bother.

The day that i received the email from Mary explaining what had happened I fell to my knees and wept for her..i wept for the life lost. abortion extinguishes more than the life of the unborn child..what devestates me the most about abortion is that it extinguishes a part of a woman’s soul. Abortion masquerades itself as a responsible freedom but behind its ugly mask is actually bondage that has deceived millions of women who now live enslaved to guilt and regret and the never-ending question of “what if?”

There IS a hope though in abortion. The following is what I wrote to Mary..the following is what I write to any woman who has gone through the loss of abortion:

I am not upset with you..my heart is just broken by the whole situation. I am about to speak to you like you are an adult..even though you are just a girl this is a very mature situation and this is going to affect you for the rest of your life..you may let it affect you negatively or positively..yes, there is  something positive about what has happened. I have always been against abortion but after giving birth and holding what had been inside of me for so long..after looking into my sweet son’s eyes..abortion wasn’t something that I didn’t like..abortion became something that grieved me..what abortion does to an innocent life and to its mother breaks my heart. I cry for you..I am angered by your mother forcing you to terminate a part of yourself. No matter what they say about abortion and how it’s no big deal..it is a big deal. There will be a giant hole in that woman’s soul for the rest of her life..she will always be reminded of the child that never got to be. These feelings can either do your future harm or they could bring your future joy..you can not hate yourself and live in hidden regret for the rest of your life..what’s done is done. you can’t take it back. But there is hope..your baby is safe now. Your baby is in the arms of Jesus and will never again feel pain or sadness. But you are not..you are still here on this sad planet. But, you will see your child someday..you just have to make it to heaven. Let this be a turning point in your life.. Nothing that sin can offer will ever be worth more than meeting your child in heaven some day. Jesus loves you so much Mary. Don’t live in regret because of this..live in Christ for the rest of your days. Ohh if I could only make you see how beautiful your life would be if you stayed true to Jesus. I waisted ten years of my life because of sin..and it brought me nothing but pain..I can’t imagine all the wonderful things that Jesus wanted to give me, but I didn’t get them because I was blinded by my sin. One of the reasons that I came back to Jesus was because of what happened in april of 2010. I lost my baby at 12 weeks. I’ll never forget driving home from the doctor and realizing that unless I quit sinning I would never be able to meet my child. After that, there was no amount of ”fun” that was worth me not seeing my baby. Live for Jesus Mary, so one day you’ll be able to see your little girl or your precious baby boy running towards you screaming..”mommy mommy..youre finally here!”

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. – psalm 147:3

Jesus AND Divorce? the thoughts of a once divorced preachers daughter

this entry is long, but I feel that the topic deserves all that I can humbly offer.

an entry from my journal dated January 2009:

Every road must end. Every candle, no matter the amount of wick or wax, will burn out. Every fire dies. Today Seth left. He packed up his truck and is gone. I find it quite ironic that after these years of collecting “things” together he left with what he started with 5 years ago. Today standing in my driveway I examined the contents of his packed truck.. a few pieces of cloths, a guitar, and an amp.

I was so broken at the time the above was written. I was lost. The outcome of stumbling through life in such darkness for so many years was a severely bruised spirit..and, as what the above attests to, a failed marriage. My rebellion and defiance towards God and towards Seth had finally caught up with me. By the reality of my failed marriage, the levee had finally been broken and the waters that crashed down upon me were cold. Everything I had done had failed..everything around me testified to one sad truth : I was a failure.

That day, after I watched Seth’s truck pull out of the driveway and disappear into the road ahead, I stood there, frozen in my driveway for a long time. Our marriage had been a rocky one and we had separated and reconciled a few times before that..but on that day.. I knew that it was over. I was right..the next time that I would see him would be at the courthouse when we signed the divorce papers. With the cold, white January sky hanging above me, I stood there like a statue – it’s hard to explain how I felt..I guess my best attempt would be to say that at that moment, I had never felt so alone. Standing there that day, I had never hated myself more. I remember lifelessly staring at a flower-pot which held the shriveled remains of a house plant that I had forgotten.. what had once been a beautiful plant that had been very much alive had turned into nothing but a lifeless skeleton sitting on my front porch.. I had left it outside – my actions and neglect had killed it.

It’s odd to me how short my entry was from that day. One could assume that an event that brings such painful change would be documented with more feeling.. with a greater attempt to describe the pain of divorce.. with a greater attempt to put into words the depth of the gash which has just ripped apart their heart. I don’t know why I didn’t write about that dead house plant. I don’t understand why I didn’t express the anguish that my soul was overcome by when I wrote that. I failed to paint a picture of who I had been that day – a fool standing alone in her driveway tortured by the realization that the man who she had just pushed out of her life had once been the man with whom she had shared a deep and pure love with..a fool who had killed her marriage. My select words from that day show how truly numb I had become. I didn’t express the emptiness and the panic that I was consumed with because I ran from it.. I hid myself from it because to admit how bitterly painful divorce was would have also been admitting how truly messed up living for myself had gotten me. I needed Jesus so badly then..and as I will soon explain, it was the chain of events that took place after my divorce that caused me to finally find Him again.

Wait a second,  you may say..are you talking about the same Jesus that I’m thinking of..Ive read the bible and divorce is a sin..nothing good can come from divorce. Let me remind you of what Jesus said about divorce..

But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. – Matthew 5:32

Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” – Matthew 19:8-9

These are the verses that I have simply dreaded coming to in the past..these verses must have the same effect on others. The divorce rate in america is somewhere around 50 percent..I can’t be the only person reading the bible who is divorced or who is married to someone who has been divorced. Satan has used these verses to make me feel unworthy of God’s love and to make me feel like I don’t deserve to call myself a child of God far too many times.. he has crushed my spirit and made me feel as though I will not be allowed to enter heaven because I am divorced..and I am sick of it. How can satan use the holy word of God to hurt you, some might say. Look at Matthew chapter four.. Satan uses scripture in an attempt to hurt Jesus.. if he can use scripture against Jesus, don’t you think he can and will do the same to you? It was in a moment of doubt and self hate that caused me to call my father today. While reading my bible I came across a verse about divorce that completely crushed me..with tears rolling down my face I picked up my phone and called my daddy.

How my divorce would affect my father and mother is another aspect to this equation that has always caused me great sorrow.  In many circumstances, a preacher would be bought great shame by one of his children getting a divorce. I thank God that when his family is involved, the man who I call daddy is first a loving father and will not let his calling to be a pastor affect that. I thank God for a father who has  proudly walked me down the aisle twice. If my divorce has ever caused my father to be ashamed of me, I can’t say..but after speaking to him today, I do not think that this is the case. The love that brought my earthly father to tears today as he reminded me that, Jesus didn’t die in vain, cannot in any way be compared to the love that my heavenly father feels for me.

I was shocked today after I entered, “Jesus and divorce” into google. Every article that I read would make any divorced person feel unworthy and feel like they are  a useless person in the kingdom of God. One of the articles I read had the title of:

 Divorce is a Merciless Act of Unforgiveness; God Said He Will Likewise Show No Mercy,

this title alone could cause a person struggling with their faith to turn away from a God who seems so unloving. Another article titled What did Jesus Teach on Divorce, had this to say:

How ridiculous that so many people today, even professed Christians, are misquoting the Bible in a selfish attempt to justify the sin of divorce. It cannot be accomplished. Try as they may, sin is still sin, and divorce will always be a horrible sin just like abortion, homosexuality, and adultery. 

Yes abortion, homosexuality, adultery, and divorce are sins.. BUT WHERE IS GRACE?  Yes, sin is still sin.. BUT WHERE IS GRACE? Not one of the articles that I read today mentioned grace. It is this attitude that many in the church today have towards divorce that caused me to call my father today and ask him if my husband and I were sinning everyday that we continued to be married..why has God blessed me with a husband who loves me and who fears the Lord..why has God blessed me with having a beautiful daughter in my life and with the birth of my son..why has the Lord blessed me with anything; why has the Lord redeemed me from a life of solitude and granted me the family that I have longed for all of my life.. the family that I don’t deserve. The question that most confuses me is, why did it take my divorce for me to realize that I was nothing without Jesus.. the blessings that have happened in my life and also in the life of my first husband would not be a reality if we were still married. If God hates divorce so much does he hate me as well? If God hates divorce so much then why has he blessed me regardless of my wrongs?

Mercy – compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish.

Grace – a favor rendered by one who need not do so.

Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies..He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him – Psalm 103 : 4 & 10-11

Now, I am not saying that divorce is ok. Divorce is not ok. Divorce is a horrible and ugly thing..but we must remember that this is why Jesus died a gruesome and monstrous death in excruciating pain..  Sometimes I think that we forget just how ghastly Calvary was. Roman citizens were exempt from crucifixion..only slaves and non-roman criminals died by crucifixion. Cicero, a roman orator, described crucifixion to be, “a most cruel and disgusting punishment” he also suggested that, “the very mention of the cross should be far removed not only from a Roman citizen’s body, but from his mind, his eyes, his ears.” Unlike the paintings that we see of Jesus on the cross..he hung there naked for all to see..our Lord..our innocent Saviour died a humiliating death that even roman murderers and rapists were not condemned to. Before they nailed him to the cross it says in Matthew 27:34 that,

 they offered him wine to drink, mixed with  gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. 

Something that many people do not know is that in an act of mercy a cup of vinegar mixed with gall and myrrh was sometimes given for the purpose of deadening the pangs of the sufferer. Gall was used as a painkiller in those days. Our Lord refused to drink it because he didn’t want anything to numb his pain or ease his suffering. He refused to go to the cross drugged and insensitive, he refused the painkiller because he had to feel the anguish and the pain of sin.. he had to taste every bitter drop of God’s wrath. He had to take the suffering from the whole world and he had to feel it to the uttermost.  He knew that there was no other way.  His death was ugly because sin is ugly.

Divorce is a sin  that causes such great pain and heartache to all who are involved..I believe that one of the reasons that Jesus spoke passionately against divorce so frequently is because he wants to protect us from that hurt..he doesnt want his children to pass through the destructive wasteland that divorce creates. I believe that he speaks against all sin for this reason..the wages of sin is death. If you continue to reject Jesus and to live selfishly in sin.. the outcome will be painful. Without Jesus sin will kill you. But thankyou my saviour! There is NO sin that one who seeks the Lord can do that the blood of Jesus cannot cover ..not adultary..not homosexuality..not abortion..not divorce. Nothing you have done will ever make the Lord unwilling and ready to forgive you..to redeem you.. to give you a brand new start. As my daddy reminded me, Jesus didn’t die in vain. He died for us.

My inability to find an article on divorce that expresses and relays the true message of christianity is a shame and something that every follower of Jesus should be motivated by. I believe that we should stop focusing so much of our energy on pointing out the sins that can keep us from God and instead pour our energy into spreading the message of how to find redemption from sin.. spreading the message of accepting Christ, putting your faith in him, and letting him influence you little by little.. as he, day by day polishes away your impurities. Is this not the message that Jesus taught.. at the root of it all is following Jesus not simple? Our finger pointing and name calling, in some ways, can weaken the importance of the sacrifice that Jesus made on Calvary…  it can turn people away from Jesus before they are ever given a chance to hear about what he did for them on the cross and what it all really means. Divorce, or any sin for that matter, is not going to keep you from entering heaven.. as long as you ask for forgiveness, seek what it is that He wants for your life, and submit to what it is that he reveals to you. Let us never forget that Jesus did not die in vain.

 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.  For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood.  – Romans 3:22-25

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions … For it is by grace  you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. – Ephesians 4 & 8

But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. – 2 Corinthians 3:16-18

on the child I lost.. the child who waits for me

Today I will share something with you that is very personal..something that I rarely speak of. Today my heart is grieved for the child that I lost. For some reason on this day, far more than others, I yearn to touch the baby that I never met. To say that I have refrained to speak of the child that I lost because of shame isnt necessarily the case..however, this statement does hold some truth. At the time when all this happened Jonathan and I were not married. We do not live in a society anymore where a young girl, without explanation, goes to live with a relative for 9 months..but still, the bible is clear about the fact that God created sex for married people and I knew that I would not be able to hide my disobedience. I remember the fear that gripped my heart as I walked the steps to my parents house..I was so afraid of their disappointment. I was so scared to see the look in their eyes and to hear my mother cry. I remember standing there for a moment trying to find the words to say..my mouth was dry and my mind was blank. With my parents just looking at me, waiting for me to speak, I finally just let the words, “im pregnant” spew from my mouth. After I said it,  I kept my head down almost like I was watching the words I had just spoken fall to the floor and shatter into a million little pieces. When I finally lifted up my head, to my surprise, my eyes were met by smiles. My mother took me into her arms. My father told me that he loved me. Yes, they wished that we had done things in the order that God tells us to, but they were not angry.. their rath did not fall upon me and my unborn child as I had supposed it would. My fear had caused me to forget something that my parents believed to be true.. something that all christians should believe to be true – For all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, but in no way does this make the blessing of a sweet child any less precious. Today I stand up against any feelings of shame. Today I stand up for my precious child. Today I stand up for my sweet baby whose death helped me to see life again.

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. – jeremiah 1:5

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful.. your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book – psalm 139: 13-14 & 16

On the day of my first ultrasound, the excitement I felt was unlike anything I had ever experienced. The thought of seeing the life within me and hearing its heartbeat caused such  joy that I almost ran off the road a few times driving to the doctor. My excitement quickly turned to panic when they could not find a heart beat. My panic turned to sadness when they also could not find any indication of a pregnancy in my womb. I was 2 1/2 months when I lost my baby. Even though at 2 1/2 months gestation I was unable to feel my child move ..I still knew that within me was a life. The love and connection that I felt with something that I could not feel nor see was something that I cannot explain..it was something that caused me to lay in bed at night holding on for dear life to my stomach. How a woman recovers from losing a child late in pregnancy is something that I cannot imagine and something that my loss cannot fully relate to. No matter the stage they are in when it happens, one thing is shared between all women who have gone through this loss and that is the dream that is crushed with the loss of a pregnancy. Walking out of the doctor’s office that day, I was numb. It was early spring but still very cold out. Driving down the desolate stretch of highway that day was the saddest moment of my life. At that point, it was pain and sorrow that caused me to cling to my stomach not the never-ending love of before.  I had been traveling down the opposite side of the same highway just a short time before with nothing but hope and dreams for my new life..and just like that, as I drove home..everything was gone.

During that time in my life I was not living for God..I was running with all my might in the opposite direction of what He had planned for me. During that trip home something occurred to me that I had not considered in some time..I thought about my salvation. I thought about where it was that I would spend eternity. The loss of my child was a turning point in my spiritual life. It took something so important..a loss so painfully personal for me to realize how important heaven is. It was when I realized that I would only be able to meet my child if I made it to heaven that I began the slow turn around back to where my faith was supposed to be. Sometimes I feel so guilty when I think about my child who never had the chance to be born.. did the Lord send him or her just to die so that I might be able to find my way back home? All the days ordained for me were written in your book.. I truly believe that the life of my beautiful child that was never given a chance was not in vain. He or she was all apart of God’s plan. It was in God’s mercy that I went through all the pain and heartache of losing a child.

I cant wait to get to heaven. I cant wait to walk through those pearly gates and to see my little boy or my little girl running up to me, arms stretched wide screaming, “mommy, mommy..Ive been waiting for you!” My child was precious in the eyes of God. My child was created with a purpose. Maybe you have lost a child or maybe you have made some bad choices that you now deeply regret. Dont drown in sorrow or in guilt. Your child was fearfully and wonderfully created by God. There is hope to one day right a wrong from your past. There is hope that crushes any pain felt by anyone who has lost a child because of any circumstance. That hope is Jesus. If you are already a christian, be comforted in Him. If you are still seeking..just know that if you choose life in Him..one day the beautiful words that I long to hear you will hear also..”mommy, ive been waiting for you..mommy i love you.

and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. – John 10: 27-29

 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. – Revelation 21:4

I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more. Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days – Isaiah 65:20

on when God grew skin. email # 2. a child from a barren womb

Response to my question, When did you know that God was real? Email # 2:

I stopped doubting God the day my husband and I found out that we were expecting. We had been trying to conceive for 3 years and my hope to have a child seemed like something that would never happen. Every pregnancy test that I took was more painful than the last when I saw that negative result. The pain and desperation from not being able to have a child caused me to go on a search for something more. In my search I stumbled onto the book, The Power of a Praying Wife. I had always known about God but my relationship with Him had always been very childish. The book showed me how to be the type of wife and mother that God wanted me to be. It taught me how to pray and how to be patient. I knew that I was pregnant the night of my 10 year anniversary. I prayed that night for the first time EVER for God to please give me a child.  That night after my husband and I made love  the peace that I felt after praying to Him is a moment that I will never forget. Shortly after I found out that I was pregnant. During all the years of heart-break I never prayed. Only after giving it to God did I receive the answer that I hoped for. I believe that the wait was all apart of God’s plan because my daughter has had a lot of health issues and if she would have been born earlier, I do not think that my marriage would have survived the first year of her life. God is real. I have a beautiful daughter as proof.

Maybe it is not a child that you hope for but other areas in your life that are barren. In biblical times, a barren woman was thought to be cursed. It was a disgrace and to be barren brought a woman great shame. What is it that has cursed you? What is it from your past that has disgraced you? What is it that you cannot get past on your own?

There is a hope for the barren spirit. Just look at Sarah from the bible..

 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. Genesis 6:1

She was barren. In those days, she was useless. After God stepped in and after she opened her heart to Him and to His will for her life..the bible goes on to say.. (God is speaking to Sarah’s husband in this verse)

As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and moreover, I will  give you a son by her. I will bless her, and  she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her. – Genesis 17: 15-16

But Sarah shall be her name. After you let God step in He will change you.. He will give you a new name. All the curses and shame from your life before God will be erased, for He will give you a new name.. He will make you a new person. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her. Not only will he erase the darkness and shame of who you used to be, he will also cause great things to come from your new life in him. Giving your life to Jesus will change the course of history..it will change the path of your family.

Maybe all that you have done on your own has been fruitless and without reward.. but, with God all things will flourish. With Him, all things will be given according to His beautiful plan for your life..for He is the God who gives life to the condemned. He is the God who gives joy to the hopeless. He is the God who gives the barren womb a child. How long will you remain Sarai? How long will you run from becoming Sarah? The new life of becoming Sarah is only a prayer away.

He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the Lord! – Psalm 113:9

The most beautiful thing that has ever been shown to me.

what do your harness bells say?

Today I have really struggled with trying to find something to write about. It is usually something simple that will happen in my life that sparks my mind into writing..but lately, my life hasn’t been simple enough. The void sitting before my mind definitely attests to how busy Ive been lately. Today, however..my bible became a bridge that I used to cross that void. I asked the Lord to please help me find something through his word. Go figure..when I opened my bible my eyes fell upon Zechariah chapter 14. At first when I read the title of the chapter, “The Lord will rule the Earth,” I was excited about writing on the topic of Jesus’ second coming. I was amazed at how well things work together when you are in God..the end days, the rapture of the church and the second coming of Jesus are topics that I am incredibly interested in. The Lord leading my eyes to this chapter also strengthened my belief that these prophecies should be very relevant to the generation in which I live. On a side note..I really do believe that we could be seeing Jesus very soon. Now, getting back on topic..as I began to read Zechariah chapter 14, with each verse that I read, my excitement began to dwindle. With utmost faith, I believe the things in Zechariah 14 will one day happen..but still, the challenge of writing about something that is so significant and something that I am not bright enough to confidently share with others made me say, “Really Lord?” I kept on reading though. As I neared the end of the chapter I read verse 20..and I understood it. The relief that I found from being able to understand that one verse made all of the other verses that i hadnt been able to understand seem far less important.

Just like the confusion and doubt that I faced while reading through zechariah, so our christian walk can be at times. This same confusion and doubt are also what can keep many away from becoming a christian. The confusion felt from trying to grasp all of the complexities in the bible gets the best of me often (very often), and I was born into a family steeped in the bible. It’s hard for me to imagine how a person who has never been exposed to christianity might feel when trying to figure it all out. I mean, where do you even begin?.. I doubt my ability to conform into being “good” enough for Jesus all the time, and much of my 27 years here on earth has been spent seeking to find confidence in my faith. The doubt that a person who is looking into this whole “Jesus thing” for the first time or that a new christian must feel has to be monumental.

There is good news though.. Even between the lines of ancient text written by men who lived thousands of years ago the simple answer can be found. Even in the midst of things that you dont understand God’s unfailing love for us and the path to freedom that he has already paved for us is made clear. It has been laid out right before our eyes..and when we see it.. the relief that it brings  will make all the other stuff that we dont understand..all the other stuff that has kept us from seeing Jesus..it will make all that seem far less important.

“on that day even the harness bells of the horses will be inscribed with these words: Set Apart As Holy To The Lord. And the cooking pots in the temple of the Lord will be as sacred as the basins used beside the altar.” – zechariah 14:20 

In the old testament the words, “set apart as holy to the Lord,” were engraved on the plate of gold worn on the head-dress of the high priest. The high priest was appointed by God and was the only person ever allowed to enter into His presence. The high priest, in some ways, represents our feelings of doubt…our feelings that we will never be holy enough to have a relationship with the Lord. The symbolism of the high priest shows an untouchable God who has separated himself from humanity because of their sin..it shows how truly unworthy we are and the sentence that we deserve. In the old testament, the only way to go before God and find forgiveness was to sacrifice an animal. In those days animals were needed to survive, from animals families had food, milk, transportation..life. And it was only by slaughtering something so crucial to survival that you could be worthy enough to be forgiven… animals who were innocent of sin..their blood was the only hope for a man to be saved.  Zechariah was written during this time..it was written before the ultimate sacrifice was sent to earth to atone man from sin and to bridge the gap so that ALL men could enter into the presence of God.

on that day even the harness bells of the horses will be inscribed with these words: Set Apart As Holy To The Lord..

Dont you see? This is the answer that people seek..that I seek. On that day..on the day when Jesus gave his life on the cross for us..even horses are worthy. What was once written for the only soul allowed to go before God was now available to everyone. The blood that Jesus shed on the cross poured to cover EVERYONE..no matter how much sin.. because of His blood shed for us we can go before God empty handed..it’s not what we have to sacrifice before God that brings us forgiveness anymore. Because of Jesus we can be “set apart” by God..or, we can be made holy by God.

..And the cooking pots in the temple of the Lord will be as sacred as the basins used beside the altar.

If doesnt matter how dirty you are..it doesnt matter how ordinary you may think you are..because of Jesus, God looks at all of us as sacred vessels.. vessels that He can fill with happiness.. vessels that he can use to work in the lives of others.  Because of Jesus we are clean..because of Jesus we are worthy.  If you can just understand this then you understand the foundation of christianity.. all the other things will eventually be shown to you or maybe you’ll be like me and live your whole life not understanding everything in the bible. As long as you continue to see what is important .. all the other things that once made you question your faith will become less important. Keep your eyes on Jesus, for it is by knowing him that you may know life.

For God is not of confusion, but of peace.. 1 Corinthians 14:33

out of the darkness comes light. out of hate comes love

..He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. – john 8:44

And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. – 2 corinthians 11:14

an entry from my journal dated September 3, 2004:

With the day falling rapidly before my eyes, I sit here wondering.. pondering a couple of things. When the sun rose this morning so much lay ahead. Now, I sit in sadness; is it life that I dread? The sky’s purple haziness is all that’s seen. The beautiful morning light of earlier was a waisted dream. A dream that I spit out..not caring of how I feel now..low. sad. waisted. dark. Id feel so much better if i’d just taken part of all that couldve been given to me today. But I passed it by hissing a curse into the sky. I hate being lonely, so occupied with regret..drowning in sorrow, suffocated by forget. The sky’s purple is now black. Night has come. Like the light, all that couldve is snuffed out as well..on this couch..in this room, ive entered some kind of hell. The flames dont really burn me, they just laugh and singe the only part that’s left of me. I’ll wake up tomorrow just a little more burnt, but maybe tomorrow I’ll be able to reach this roads end..this road i’ve paved for myself..this neverending road of hurt.

The moment in my life when my hand scribbled those words into being was ohh so dark. My mind was like a run down movie theater with a broken reel that only played the same dreary preview over and over. There was no joy in my life. A future of hope and happiness was kept just out of reach –  I could never get past the previews – I could never make it to the movie. My sin had programmed my soul to believe that I was not worthy to ever experience anything of substance..anything that had purpose was just a dream that I truly believed I would never reach. Every time that I would get close to that happiness..the happiness that I so longed for, I would mess up..I would involve myself in something that just dripped with sin, and it would cause me to start over further than where I had begun. Thats how satan uses sin to ruin your life. It’s not going to be some sudden change of heart..it wont be some quick decision you make that will change your course. As it says in the verse above, he can transform into an angel of light..he isnt going to dangle ugly things before your eyes to draw you away from the Lord – he is going to make the things that could destroy your life look beautiful not like something that will send you to the grave.  It’s his mode of destruction to bait you with small sins that don’t seem so bad..these small sins will keep sending you back a little bit more further from the purpose filled life that God created you for until one day you will be so far away from happiness that you will lose hope in ever reaching it..just like I was when I wrote what it written above.  In your silent defiance you will slowly push yourself farther away from believing that you are even worth the change required to reach happiness. The beginning of this descent may seem innocent at first..the bad decisions you make will seem to be no big deal..but, let me tell you, from someone who has fought (and is still fighting) her way back from it..it is indeed a big deal – a life or death crossroad. Once you have completely placed yourself on satan’s path of deception you will not be able to remember the innocence it was at the start. All the little sins that once seemed so harmless will eventually lead  you to a place where you cannot remember how to be good..you will not be able to identify with the person you once were. The idea of having a meaningful life with a divine purpose will have been completely wiped away from your mind and you will hate who you have become. I say all this stuff with such confidence because I have been there. It is only by the grace of God that I was given the chance to redirect my course. Even now, satan tries to fool me into falling back into the pit of despair that I found rescue from only by the blood of Jesus.   If you don’t allow your eyes to be opened then you will one day reach your end just like satan wanted you to. To reject the change that living for Jesus can only give.. you will pave your way into a land of empty dreams and worthlessness. Just like the sad testament of my life that’s written above, you will find yourself chained in a life where you can never see the beauty of daylight.

There is an answer though..his name is Jesus Christ. He will take the wasteland that your life has become and turn it into a fruitful orchard. He will sweep you from the destructive path that your sin has placed you on.. He will lovingly guide you to the path which leads to beautiful things. He will turn the hate that you have in your heart into a love that you cannot explain. He will take you out of darkness and show you the light of dawn. If you surrender your life to Him you will begin to love your life.. you will begin to love yourself, for he will show you all of these things. Finding Jesus is not difficult..

 And you shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13

For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. – matthew 7:8

even if you have no clue who He is or how He would make a difference in your life..if you are desperate to find an answer and everything that you have tried on your own has failed you..i urge you to give Him a chance. If you ask with a true heart he will show you who He is. In Him is life ..happiness ..hope ..redemption ..forgiveness ..love.

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. – romans 10:13

As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. – psalm 103:12

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new – 2 Corinthians 5:17

a letter from a prisoner

My father has challenged me to write in my blog everyday for 60 days..I was (and still am) a bit nervous about it. Writing is something I have always found joy in doing..but it is also a task that drains me..it requires a great deal of thought as well as time..the level of concentration it requires transforms me into an extreme introvert. I dont like to write about things that are pointless or shallow; for me to be able to “scribble things to life” (as i like to call it) I have to be passionate about the subject, and with a 5 year old running around and a 7 month old demanding my time constantly, as any of you who are raising or have raised children know, it can be pretty stinkin hard to find passion even for your husband, let alone for something to blog about. How am I supposed to work something, that asks so much of me, into my daily schedule without compromising it..When I voiced these concerns to my father..he simply said, “it’ll come to you”..and.. Like always, my father’s advice has, thus far, been right.

I was talking to a friend of mine today, when she told me an odd story..thankfully she shared this with me, because until she did, I had no idea what I was going to write about today. She told me about a letter she received. The letter was from a person that she has not spoken to in quite some time…it was from a guy who is now in prison. In the letter he asked her to please call his parents..he wanted her to tell them how sorry he was and that he loved them..he wanted her to ask his mom to please come and see him. My friend can be somewhat shy at times and she told me she was nervous about calling them. My advice to her was that she should do it. The next text I sent her read..thats sad that they havent gone and seen him..shame on them. No matter what your kids do you dont give up on them. If Rory was in prison for murdering someone i would still love him…as I pressed the send button..I knew what I would write about today.

When I look down and see the beautiful face of my son, I forget that one day from his smooth little chin whiskers will grow..as Jonathan hangs Trinitee’s towel up to dry after giving her a bath, Im sure that the last thing he thinks about is how this nights completed bathtime is just one more check on a short list…before he knows it daddy’s little girl wont be so little anymore. No matter how much we beg for the clock to stop and for time to exclude our children it cannot be done. The little hands that reach out for me..the tiny hands that hold onto mine so tightly..this lays upon my soul such sadness to say..but, one day these sweet little hands could become the hands that take a person’s life. If this dark scenario were to one day become reality, my love would not lessen. No amount of evil or wrongdoing done by my child could ever cause me to deny him..I would never fail to be there when he reached out for me..no matter the amount of sinful blood dripping from his hands..I would never let them go.

For almost a decade, I was the constant tears that flooded my mother’s heart. I was the pain that cut into my father’s soul. I was the constant prayer on their lips. My parents never gave up me..they never stopped praying for me. They never gave up on the promise they were given by God. Ive failed my parents more times than I can count..but to them, I have never been a failure..and in the back of my mind, I always knew that. If any parents are reading this who have children that are running from God..dont ever give up on them. Let their name be the constant prayer on your lips..regardless of the evil that has them blinded..dont ever stop being there when they reach out for you. No matter the distance into a pit of despair that they have fallen..never let their hand go. The progress and the change that the Lord has made in me shows the power a mother’s prayer can hold.

If the love of a mother and father can be so unconditional…think about the love that God has for us. If you are reading this and you realize that you are a prisoner trapped in the despair of your own guilt and self hatred..just know..there is no distance that one can travel to that God cannot reach. There is no amount of sin that God cannot cleanse. Even if you are unsure of who God is..in written words or spoken words write him a letter..tell him that you are sorry..tell him you love him (or that you want someone like him to love)..and if you ask him to come and see you(or for him to help you understand who he is)..i promise that he will. The darkest most disgusting crimes will not stop God from answering your letter..The thickest bars and the highest razor wire cant stop the love that God has for you.

I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. – Jeremiah 31:3

on sadness and redemption part 2

Before I go any further I must make a few things clear..first off, I am not a bible scholar. I am speaking from my heart..from my own personal experiences. I pray that the things I write are pleasing to the Lord and that they match the direction that He would like me to follow..be it so, I’m sure that some of my lowly mortal ideas are not one hundred percent on target. Please do not hold any of my opinions as being undeniable truth unless, of course, it be a direct quote from the bible or a statement obviously made with biblical truth to back it..for example- ”Jesus loves you.” How I interpret things may be completely different from how you see it..but now, that is why I started a blog..so that I can say what I feel like saying. The second thing, which I’m sure my writing thus far has already proved..I am not an english major,if I was id probably be failing terribly. My grammar is ”briana grammar” and if you know me..then you know nothing about me is proper…ever. I may need to copy this onto the front page of my blog because I’m sure that the need to say this will be a repeated one. So now..after all that is said, let me move on to why I am really here..sadness and redemption part two.
When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. – Jonah 2:7
The story of Jonah and the whale is a story that children who are taught the bible (which unfortunately is far too few these days) are fascinated by. The idea of a man being in the belly of a whale is an exciting concept for children and i was reminded of this the other night. Trinitee and i have an illustrated childrens bible that we read every night before her bedtime..i think i enjoy it almost as much as she does..but, a few nights ago we read the story of Jonah. She clung to every word..her eyes grew wider with excitement the more i read. It got me thinking..as an adult,you really don’t hear about ol’ Jonah too often. Could it be that the idea of a giant fish throwing up some dude on a beach somewhere is just too far-fetched for a sophisticated adult to believe? This is a perfect example why the Lord urges us to come before him as a child would. The story of Jonah is breathtaking..it is a story so many hurting, lost people need to hear. The bible does not lie. The truth it holds is so concrete that even the catastrophes of Armageddon could not (and will not) shake it. It grieves my heart to think of all the souls that are blinded by pride or by scientific “reason” who curse our Lord and spit hatred onto the sovereign word of God..it will take these catastrophes of Armageddon mentioned above to finally open their eyes to the bibles truth..and sadly by that point, it will likely be far too late for many of them to recant their stubborn choice to refuse the Lord’s invitation to lifesaving redemption. Why so many hate christianity i just can’t understand. It is a message based on selfless love and nothing else..so many people skew the word of God to make christianity into something that it is not..but it is simple..God loves us so much he sent his son to die an agonizing death so an evil humanity could have the choice to believe and to be freed from the chains of sin. He loves us so much he had his son butchered just so we could choose to have life.
If i woke up tomorrow morning to news reports proclaiming the outbreak of a virus that, without exception, was deadly..a virus that every baby born on this planet would have and every person alive would eventually catch, i would be devastated beyond description. But what would be even more devastating would be a knock on the door from men telling me that Rory was the only human on this planet that possessed the supernatural antibody needed to create a cure but “unfortunately mam, the child will have to sacrifice his life for us to have access to the antibody, this is humanities only hope of survival..the child will feel no pain..it will be like he is going to sleep.” I cannot even imagine the affliction that would drown my soul..but i would have to say yes. i would first make sure that my son’s life would not be taken in vain..i would mandate that this miracle cure be given to EVERYONE, whether they want it or not. If my son is going to give his life to save humanity then this virus shall not make a mockery of his life! Not one person shall die from this virus if my son gives his life! Any parent who reads this i’m sure can understand. Think about God..God is not some all controlling dictator who forces us to accept the cure that the death of his only son has granted us. He loves us so much he allowed his son not to be painlessly “put to sleep” but to be mercilessly slaughtered just so we could have the choice to live. And Jesus.. before his resurrection he was a mortal man..he could have chosen to walk away. The night before he was crucified he was scared..our Lord was scared..he cried and begged God to let his fate be different. but, it could not be different..Jesus gave himself as a sacrifice for us. The blood that dripped down the cross..the cross that Jesus died an excruciating, agonizing death upon..was filled with the selfless, pure antibody that is our only hope for life..the only cure..yet so many reject it.
Just like Jonah, my life was being chiseled down..almost to nothing. I was so barred beneath my sin..but through that black void of my life i continued to cry out to God..even though i was sure that i had gone too far to be recovered..even though i believed that i was too torn and dirty to be refurbushed..i knew he was there. My cries..the prayers that came out of my filthy mouth – He still allowed them to enter into his presence – He heard them. That selfless, pure blood of Jesus.. it reached down into the hopeless pit of death that i was in and it cured me from the certain death that i deserved.
 WORTHLESS. HOPELESS. INSIGNIFICANT. ABANDONED.  BARREN. DISGUSTING. DIRTY. FULL OF SHAME. EMPTY.
 Jesus does not discriminate..he does not reject one who asks him to save them..no matter how filthy they are..no matter how dark their sin. The redemption that has brought me back to life is available to ANYONE who asks. Jesus loves you no matter how much you belive that you don’t deserve it. What he has done for me he will do for any who asks. Because of Him i am now
WORTHY. HOPEFUL. SIGNIFICANT. FOUND. FRUITFUL. DELIGHTFUL. CLEAN. FULL OF LIFE.