Awakened (Part 2)
August 11, 2015
CLICK HERE TO READ “AWAKENED (PART 1)”
A couple weeks ago I took advantage of the free live-stream access to view Jesus Culture LA 2015 on God.tv. Throughout the day, I would check in and watch some of my favorite worship leaders, Kim Walker-Smith, Kristene DiMarco, and Bryan and Katie Torwalt. One of the morning sessions kicked off with a speaker I had never heard before so I decided to keep streaming.
Jude Fouquier, spent over 25 years as a youth pastor and he definitely connected with the young people gathered at the conference. He threw out quick, funny catch phrases to grab their attention and focused on the foundation scripture:
Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame. (1 Cor. 15:34 NKJV)
I have to admit, I somewhat started to lose interest until he said something very profound that shed light on my many questions regarding my “salvation experience.”
“We may be awakened to Jesus, but we may fall back asleep. I believe we go back to sleep because we try to establish our own righteousness.”
His main point was that our eyes need to be opened to righteousness in Christ Jesus and the Cross alone and according to 1 Corinthians 15:34, that can only happen through the knowledge of God.
That’s what happened to me. I fell back asleep because I tried to establish righteousness in my own strength and never pursued a life knowing God. It was just a matter of time that I would become entangled in sin and walk in darkness because I was trying to achieve righteousness through works and failed miserably, as we all will if we try to establish righteousness in our own strength. When you fail continuously, it is just human reaction to eventually throw in the towel.
From the moment I prayed the sinner’s prayer until I finally took up my cross and followed Jesus completely, it was six years.
Six years doing it on my own.
Giving into temptation and allowing sin to overtake me.
A six yearlong nap.
But thank God, in 2008, I had an encounter with the Father’s love that changed my life forever. The Holy Spirit woke me up and I stayed awake this time! These last seven years have been an amazing journey pursuing God, gaining knowledge of Him, and receiving (not achieving) my righteousness through My Righteousness, Jesus Christ.
Over the course of the last few months, my husband and I have been trying to understand how Biblical the sinner’s prayer is, especially when we continually see people saying the prayer and then going back to their old lives…
…just like I did.
I believe the moment we hear the gospel and are given the invitation to make Jesus our Savior AND Lord (we can’t have one without the other), the Holy Spirit is shaking us to wake us up from our slumber from a life in sin, separated from God.
We trust His work by faith and learn to walk in it fully awakened.
I don’t think we should discount the prayer because I believe it is what God can use to wake people up. And it’s something we can use as a tool to allow the person to make a confession (believe in your heart and confess with your mouth) but it is then up to them to keep walking it out and keep seeking to know God.
I think as Christians, especially those in leadership, we have deceived people into thinking that it is the prayer alone (merely reciting words) that secures salvation and causes the new birth. I believe the sinner’s prayer is like the woman’s contractions beginning. The manifestation of the new birth takes time and one must desire to take up their cross in addition to embracing righteousness through Jesus and the work of the Cross.
So many have heard the good news and have asked Jesus to take control, but are currently spiritually snoring like a bear.
So I must ask you, are you awake?
Even if you consider yourself a Christian, are you taking a spiritual nap?
Do you need the Holy Spirit to help you open up your eyes once again?
If so, make yourself available to encounter the Lord. You can’t wake yourself up; you must allow the Holy Spirit to have influence in your life, to guide you. Focus your attention on His voice. Clear out all distractions in your life and start gazing on the Lord.
Be still and know Him.
And never stop pursuing Him! He will keep your heart on fire, fully awakened to His truth and love!
Awakened (Part 1)
August 7, 2015
For the first fifteen years of my life, my view of God and Christianity was purely religious and an empty routine- attending church and Sunday school weekly and going through the sacraments, but never really understanding why. I just followed the rules and didn’t ask any questions. I memorized the “Our Father” and the “Nicene Creed” and attempted to memorize the “Prayer to the Holy Spirit” and “Hail Mary.” To me, they were just words, so after a while, I saw no point in even trying. I remember my Sunday school teachers focusing on stories of the Old Testament and thinking God was angry and would smite me down with a lightning bolt if I sinned. I had no revelation of the Father’s love or grace or forgiveness or the sacrifice of the Cross. The only thing I knew of Jesus was that He was one of the persons of the Trinity as “the Son.” I saw Him hanging on the crucifix at the front of the church every Sunday, but to me, it was just a statue- a piece of art, almost.
As I got older, it very obviously became harder and harder for me to keep from sinning or follow the rules. A spirit of lust that I believe laid dormant from some seeds of sexual perversion that were planted early on in my childhood began to tighten its grip around my young heart. Right from the moment I entered high school, I got entangled in alcohol abuse and a promiscuous lifestyle in the backseat of cars. My straight ‘A’ reputation at school and my church attendance on Sundays were just covering up my reputation that I had on Friday nights. I wanted people to think I had it all together, but once people started talking, I was having a difficult time keeping my mask on. By the time spring came my freshman year of high school, the guilt and shame from the names girls were calling me and the gossip that filled the lunchroom became too much to bear. My solution was to confess everything to my mom and attempt to live differently. I wanted a fresh start so my answer was to seek out a relationship with “the Christian kid.” Maybe just simply being around Christians would help me become one, I thought to myself.
When I started dating this boy from school, not much changed. I was still behaving promiscuously with him, but tried keeping it hidden by attending church and youth group meetings. Although I had a bad taste in my mouth regarding religion, I remember being drawn in by the contemporary worship music of his church church. I actually enjoyed being there and wanted to learn more and read my Bible that the church gave me once I became a member. As the months went by, I experienced a few “God moments” where I felt Him tapping me on the shoulder during the sermon.
One of those “God moments” occurred at a youth conference that our youth group attended when I was sixteen. I don’t remember exactly what the preacher was saying accept that my heart was about to beat out of my chest if I did not run to the foot of that alter and surrender my heart to Jesus, who I just found out died on that Cross so that I would be forgiven and given a new life in Him.
I ran to the foot of the altar and cried out to God in desperation, “Oh God, please save me! I don’t want to do this on my own anymore. Jesus, be my Savior!”
Shortly after I made that confession, I was right back in the same mess I had found myself in before, and as the years went on, WORSE.
Alcohol, sex, adultery, pride, selfishness, lying…
To this day, that has always bothered me.
How could someone be awakened to the truth that they are sinful and need a Savior, embrace Jesus, and still live in darkness?
Was my salvation experience false?
These questions would haunt me for many years…
CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE ON TO “AWAKENED (PART 2)”
My Mind’s on Jesus and Jesus’ on My Mind
July 27, 2015
What I mean by that is…
…when Jesus was going about His day in public, did He ever miss an opportunity to minister?
Was He so caught up in the cares of His day that He passed people by who were hopeless?
Did He keep quiet of the life that He could bring to them because He had errands to run?
Did He ever think to Himself on His way to teach- “I just need to grab a bite to eat. I don’t have time for chit-chat” ?
Was He ever so focused on a task or mission that He walked passed people who were in need of a touch from Him?
According to John:
Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written. (John 21:25 NLT)
Since that is the case, I am certain Jesus’ main goal, every single moment of every single day, was to reach as many people as He possibly could for the Kingdom of God.
Before I became a stay-at-home momma, I worked for a world-wide ministry.
Before I worked for a world-wide ministry, I worked in a small medical office for four and a half years.
That job was difficult for me because I came into contact with a lot of hurting people.
And as we all know, “hurt people hurt people.”
There were many days that I would drive home crying and collapse on my bed because of the exhausting day of being a human punching bag.
I constantly asked the Lord to get me out of there, but He had other plans for me. I longed for the day when I would be used in ministry, but what God was trying to get me to understand was that my ministry was right in front of me!
Every single patient who walked into our office was an opportunity to share the love of Jesus with. Once my eyes were opened to that truth, my experience in that office changed. I would pray every single morning that God would bring someone across my path who I could pray for or share hope with.
And guess what?
God ALWAYS provided! I was given countless opportunities to pray for people over the phone, lay hands on the sick, and even pray for a blind woman’s eyes to be strengthened. I received such a boldness to step out in faith and truly walk out my life like Jesus commanded us all to do.
And then my season there ended, and the Lord fulfilled a dream of mine to work for Joyce Meyer Ministries. I no longer was surrounded by lost people, in regards to those who don’t profess Jesus as their Lord and Savior. All of my coworkers were professing Christians because that was a requirement to work there.
I struggled with how God wanted to use me there, but realized that all people are important to God, not just lost people.
I would pray with coworkers when the Lord lead me to to, and as I went through a very traumatic time there, my coworkers saw how I did not allow my circumstances to shake my faith. I learned that everyone needs the hope Jesus brings.
I have been gone from JMM for almost a year since having Isaiah and have been struggling to find the boldness to pray for people who I meet on a daily basis- which doesn’t happen too often nowadays as stay-at-home mom who babysits 3-4 days a week.
There was just something so powerful that I would experience when I prayed for someone I did not know. And I know that Jesus is calling me to step out and believe Him to use me in that way again.
I know that the enemy doesn’t want us to share the hope of Jesus with the world and will try all that he can to get us distracted, in a hurry, or timid. We must push past all of that, get over ourselves and our troubles and insecurities, and trust that God wants to use our mouths to share His love and truth with all that we come in contact with.
I want to always have Jesus on my mind so that wherever I go, all I want to do is tell others about Him.
Not just when I feel like it, but every time I step foot outside of my door!
I want to be “on,” and red hot for God, just like Jesus was when He walked the streets. He has commissioned us to go, so we need to step out in faith and believe He will help us through the power of the Holy Spirit to be His hands and feet wherever He sends us!
Lord, give me the boldness to step out and tell others about you. Help me to have a listening ear to hear Your voice when You need me to pray for someone at any moment. I know that the light of the world lives on the inside of me and I don’t want to hide that light any longer! Let me shine bright for you, Jesus! Amen.
Podcast Interview- Undone Redone (7.20.15)
July 21, 2015
Last week, I had the privilege of chatting with Tray and Melody Lovvorn of Undone Redone. Similar to me, they have an amazing testimony of forgiveness, healing, and redemption!
Together, they host a podcast in their “Messy Boots” studio where they interview guests with like-hearted messages of divine transformation and deliverance from the entanglements of sin. I definitely felt at “home” while talking with this precious couple.
I also happen to be a huge fan of their Alabaman accent…totally makes me want to sit on the front porch swing and drink a big ol’ glass of Southern sweet tea!
But seriously, I pray that this interview touches hearts and changes lives for the glory of God! Each word that was spoken was guided by the Holy Spirit who I know has hand-picked each individual who will hear its message. Despite everything that I went through and all the mess that I found myself in, the pit wasn’t too deep for God!
The same is true for you- you are never too far gone for God’s mighty, redeeming hand to rescue you and use you for His glory!
Thanks for listening!
Time of Testing
July 16, 2015
Last week, the Lord gave me a dream in which the number 40 was highlighted. In the dream, I was speaking with someone from my past and he said that my soul would not find rest and I would not be released emotionally from my situation until 40 days had passed.
Typically, the number 40, in the Bible, represented a time of trial, testing, or proving.
When Noah and his family were in the ark, it rained 40 days and 40 nights.
The children of Israel were in the wilderness for 40 years.
Jesus was lead into the wilderness and tempted by Satan for 40 days.
I felt the Lord was telling me that I would be experiencing a time of testing that would last 40 days.
I received confirmation of that the other night at church when my pastor was speaking of Jesus’ proving time in the wilderness. Through the re-telling of the story, I was reminded that before Jesus experienced the time of testing for 40 days, He was first baptized and the Father spoke from on-high saying:
“This is my beloved Son,[c] with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17 ESV)
At the end of May, I was also baptized. I felt like after I came up from the water, I would be entering a new season ahead of me. Perhaps, a new season of ministry. But first, God needed to make sure I was prepared for it.
I am definitely feeling the time of testing, especially after I made the decision to fast social media for one year.
Because social media was a means of distracting me and keeping my mind full of other things, I am given more time to reflect.
This is good and bad, of course.
I’m finding myself having to rebuke more negative, worrisome, and anxious thoughts than I normally do. I am being given opportunities to lose my peace and my joy constantly. I’m even having to battle a little physical pain- I have a cluster of canker sores on the inside of my mouth that developed within the last few days that make eating, talking, and even sleeping very unbearable.
And while I’m on the topic of sleep…
…I’m not getting much of it these days as I endure my son’s nine-month sleep regression.
He’s growing and developing new language and motor skills, which is awesome- but I am one tired momma always in need of coffee, coffee, coffee!
Last night was difficult for me because my little man didn’t want to sleep longer than an hour and I was up every hour from 10 PM-5 AM. When he finally passed out around 7 AM, he let me sleep until 10:30 AM (thank you, Jesus!) but I had to rush to run some errands before the kids I babysat made their way over around noon. I had to get little man out of the scorching heat, carry the bags (and Venti iced white mocha with an extra shot of espresso), let the dog out to do his business, and put everything away before the boys got here.
The moment I could catch my breath and take a quick sip of my ice-cold coffee goodness that was keeping me conscious, my phone notified me that I had an email.
The subject line was the title of an article I wrote for ibelieve.com that was also featured on its sister-site, crosswalk.com.
My heart sank.
Lord, let this be uplifting. Please.
But, of course, it was a hateful, condescending rant from a perturbed reader of my article from A MONTH AGO about my experience with the dangers of divorce.
I made sure to take a breath and remain graceful as I wrote my response. I use every email, comment, or conversation as a means for ministry and not to argue.
The heart behind all of my writing is to encourage and point other’s to God’s truth, even if the topics are challenging and go against Church culture.
I seasoned my email with salt and illuminated it with the light of God’s Word, as I always do. This woman had obviously been hurt. I could sense that in her statements.
But man, does the enemy know how to kick ya when you’re down!
After all was settled, I just had to chuckle because later today I am being interviewed for a podcast to discuss my book and share my testimony.
The ministry I am speaking with is called UNDONE/REDONE. They are a precious couple whose marriage was restored after infidelity and divorce…
…the very topic this angry (and wounded from her past) reader was shaking her electronic finger at me for.
I think not.
So what do I do?
I stand firm on the promises of God. I hold up my shield of faith to deflect the fiery darts the enemy fires at me. I make sure I have my pants tight with the belt of truth and that my breastplate of righteousness is secured. I keep salvation on my mind and walk in peace at all times. And most importantly, I wield of the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s mighty Word, that I uses to chop down all of the enemies lies he utters in his native tongue. And I pray.
Not just in my time of testing.
But every. single. day. at. all. times.
Matt Redman’s UNBROKEN PRAISE- A Review
July 14, 2015
Matt Redman is one of my favorite Christian songwriters and his new album, Unbroken Praise*, does not disappoint! He has such a way of taking the truth of God’s Word and putting it to music.
Redman states “”Unbroken Praise reveals a heart not wanting to be beaten down by the things of life, but to actually increase worship in those moments.”
From the moment the album begins, you are ready to be ushered into an atmosphere of praise with the song “Louder,” which shouts to God that we will lift up our voices boldly to praise Him!
This live recording allows you to be a part of an awesome time of worship as the songs continue to ebb and flow between praising and worshiping our great God. There is even a new rendition of “It is Well With My Soul” that uses the hymn’s familiar chorus and adds a modern sound to the well-known hymn.
Just like Redman’s famous “10,000 Reasons,” “Heart of Worship,” and “Our God,” I believe the songs on this album will be become future anthems in churches across the globe!
Grab your copy of Unbroken Praise today at Family Christian!
*I received this CD free as a member of the Family Christian Blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Max Lucado’s YOU’LL GET THROUGH THIS- A Review
July 5, 2015
“You’ll get through this. It won’t be painless. It won’t be quick. But God will use this mess for good. In the meantime don’t be foolish or naïve. But don’t despair either. With God’s help you will get through this.” –Max Lucado
These words echo throughout the entire text of You’ll Get Through This: Hope and Help For Your Turbulent Times* from Max Lucado. Mr. Lucado uses the great story of Joseph from the Bible to support the truth that no matter what we face in this life, whatever evil comes our way, God uses it all and turns it around for our good.
Although while reading this book, I am not currently experiencing “turbulent times,” just like everyone who is born on this earth, I have experienced trouble and pain in my life…
…once or twice…
…or more than I can count, truthfully.
I was so thankful that Max used Joseph’s story to tell of the journey from trial to triumph because I have always connected with his life. At one time in my life, I found myself in a deep, dark pit. Sexual abuse and a spirit of lust were heavy chains that wrapped themselves around me as I was seduced into a life of sexual bondage and brokenness. Thankfully, like Joseph, God didn’t leave me and I didn’t give up on God. He delivered me from that pit and turned my mess into a message for His glory!
Max easily connects Joseph’s chaotic life to both personal stories and other Biblical characters’ life-stories who also experienced tragedy, trial, and temptation. The reader encounters one simple truth- they are not alone in their pain.
As Joseph’s story progresses throughout the book, we see how God is always in control of everything that happens and in the end, as the Creator, creates something beautiful from the ashes in His time. His process may take time, but as each day passes, He is molding us into a wonderful masterpiece, looking more and more like Jesus!
I believe this book is a cheerleader for the downtrodden, shouting “Don’t give up! Hang on! God’s got this!” The ultimate reason is because Jesus has already won the victory. When we embrace the work of the Cross and live for Christ, death has no sting. Pain has an expiration date. And eternity is our reward!
I pray that the reader finds understanding that God is good no matter what, even if they don’t fully comprehend His perfect plan. When He is in control of our situations and lives, He will have the last say and will fight on our behalf. Even in the midst of struggle, we must stand firm on the promises of God, keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, stay thankful, and trust that God’s ways are higher than our own!
The process that God is taking us through has a purpose, even if it painful. We may not see the purpose on this side of eternity, but one day, it will all be clear to us. We will look back and know that God was there the whole time, working in and through us.
Purchase this best-seller today at Family Christian!
Available in both hard-cover and soft-cover!
*I received this book free as a member of the Family Christian Blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Reflections from my TV Interview
June 26, 2015
I traveled to Nashville, TN Tuesday for my first TV interview sharing a little of my testimony and information about my book. I sat down with Monica Schmelter on the show ‘Bridges’ on Christian Television Network | WHTN to speak on the topic of sexual brokenness and how I found healing in Jesus.
In the interview, I shared about a time in my life after I prayed the sinner’s prayer, but failed to completely surrender my entire life to Jesus- living as if He was my Savior, but not my Lord.
I used a phrase that is found in my book to describe a season of six years of a tug-of-war with God for my heart. I said, “I lived with one foot in and one foot out of my old life and new life.”
Last night, while I was praying for an old friend of mine who has become entangled in the dangerous lifestyle of alcohol and promiscuity that I found myself in for many years, I realized that it is impossible to walk one foot in your old life and the other foot in your new life in Christ.
No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other… (Luke 16:13a)
Even though in the context of Luke 16:13, Jesus is talking about wealth, the principle is the same-
you can’t live for two different things.
You can’t walk two different paths.
You either choose the narrow road or you choose the broad path.
There are so many people professing Jesus as their God, but they serve someone or something else by ignoring the Lord’s commands and seeking after whatever they want.
They are deceived believers. I pray they wake up!
I was one of those people who said they were a born-again believer, but I lived as if God didn’t exist and followed my fleshly desires, the pride of life, and worldly activities.
The more I share my testimony, the more I realize that I am called to wake up the Body of Christ from their double living. I pray for more opportunities to share my story.
The episode of Bridges will air in the coming months, and I will let you guys know the details as soon as I do.