Friday, August 15, 2014

Robin Williams-Suicide and Salvation

John 1:12 - But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.

The recent passing of Robin Williams has sparked one of the most heart wrenching "debates" that I've seen in a long time. This will not be a debate and I won't allow it to become one. It would serve no purpose other than to incite pain and misinformation. But it was because of those debates that I didn't intend to write about his passing, or his life in front of the cameras. After all, I didn't know him personally, obviously, and all I would be able to do is just pay homage to him, grieve for the loss of another life and pray for comfort for his family and the loved ones he left behind. But, then, something changed. Something began to eat at me the more I read commentaries, articles and discussions. It seemed everyone had a "comment" or an "opinion." That part didn't surprise me because of this social media age of anonymity,  where everyone can "bravely" say what they want without regards to the feelings of others. However, something else was gnawing at me, something that I couldn't quite nail down and then! There it was, right in front of my eyes. One of the most horrific statements, that not only hurt my heart and shook up my spirit, but broke my heart for the millions of eyes who were reading those very harmful words who either suffered this kind of loss in the past or were in the middle of suffering and dealing with this kind of loss currently. What statement was it that turned my intention around? People were saying that suicide sent him to Hell! And worse yet was reading those words, from Christians! From people who didn't KNOW him on a personal level, and only knew him like the rest of the world.....PUBLICLY and IMPERSONALLY.

I always pray about my blog posts before writing them because I really try to write what the Holy Spirit leads me to write. I had two ideas laid on my heart, and on the burners, when he passed. I couldn't seem to write more than a few sentences before this subject would pop into my head and spirit. Well, as a result of not being able to finish the other posts right now, I prayed about it, was lead to a new, but hidden, article about him, and the Lord took me off the first article and changed my direction to this one! I'm OK with that because I pray that these words that I will soon be writing, will touch someone, comfort someone or give wisdom to someone that needs it!

Robin Williams was one of those rare comedic geniuses who crossed over into different generations. Comedy is a unique career path and an even more unique skill, or talent depending on how you look at it. The majority of comedians are generational-specific. By that, I mean, they resonate with those of their time and never really span much more than a decade, if that. Not Robin Williams. He came on the scene in the late '70's with a sit-com called, "Mork and Mindy," taking the world by storm ever since. Who was this man!?! Everyone has some memory of their favorite movie, stand-up routine, cartoon voice overs or the ingenious way he would completely take over an interview! No matter who you are, or where you live, he could make you laugh with his brilliance. He could make you forget about your pains and sorrows for just a little while. He could make you relate to his "characters" that he would so brilliantly create on the spot. His mind was amazing. His mind was unbelievably creative....unlike any other. The people who really knew him on a personal and professional level, couldn't say enough about his talent, his improvisational skills and his bullet-speed quickness in his delivery!

But, his mind was also fractured too. It was fragile and broken. Something, I'm sure, he didn't want to admit to the world; the same world he so desperately needed love from! Laughter was his fuel, his gas that kept him going, but more so, laughter was love. What Robin Williams showed, and shared with, the world and his fans, was the person he could never quite shut off. The person who was always making people laugh, who NEEDED that laughter for his own sadness, who was always "ON" and always in "character." That must have been so difficult to live the majority of one's life in full on "character" always afraid of not bringing joy and laughter to the world because that was what was lacking in the real life of Robin......Comedy is a mask. Some can take the mask off in private, and live semi-normal lives and some can't. Mr. Williams was one of those people who couldn't. Not because he didn't want to. Not because he didn't desire to. But because he didn't have the ability. He was clinically depressed. His television show recently was cancelled. He had addictions. He had failed marriages. He had financial burdens from those failed marriages. He had been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, which also is connected to depression. He had heart surgery. God only knows the rest of his battles. He had been battling depression for most of his life. If truth be known, there was likely a personality "disorder" that was likely evident, and possibly diagnosed, that we'll never know about. It would only make sense for someone to have a personality disorder that lived split lives. But it's really none of our business anyway. He didn't want the world to know about his Parkinson's Disease, and probably other silent things he was internally dealing with, and the only reason we found out about it is because his most recent wife of 3 years, disclosed it. It just added to the rest of his battles and maybe helped some people understand a little more just how tortured he was, how desperate he became and how cornered he felt, but more so, how much pain he was truly in!

Now, with that said, when the media lit up about his suicide, it ignited so much emotion across the social media that it was mind blowing. First of all, it's not the first suicide that Hollywood has experienced and sadly, it won't be the last. Second of all, suicide is NOT the problem here and too many people focused on the ACT instead of the problem that caused the action. Mental illness, addictions, trauma and physical issues. The mind is a curious thing. It's one of the mysteries of our existence. It's fragile and can be "broken" at any time. I remember watching "Mork and Mindy" one evening with my mom and out of the blue she said, God rest her soul, "Sweety, now there's a broken soul. He's a very SAD man behind those eyes." Well, at 15-16 years old, what did I know, right? Then maybe a few years later, we saw an interview with him, and I could actually SEE that sadness that mom had spoken of a few years earlier. I suddenly saw someone that couldn't turn it "off" and for a second, when he'd pause briefly for reflection, you'd see it in his eyes. They were sad. Very sad. Very hurt. Very lost. This was the beginning of my looking at people in a whole different light. That was one of those "moments" that one doesn't forget and every time I'd see him in an interview after that moment, I saw the same thing, sometimes worse, but always behind those eyes, was a deep sadness. I remember the discussion mom and I had afterwards about depression and hiding behind "masks" and this was around 1979-1981! She felt it important enough at that time to talk to me about it and so I listened. And learned.

2 Corinthians 3:17
I saw him as having two personalities. The one he let the world see, which was the one he couldn't turn "off" and the one that nobody saw, only MAYBE a select few, and that, I believe, was solely out of fear of not being "accepted" for who he really was. That second person was the hurt one, the sad one, the struggling one. Maybe he didn't know who he really was since he primarily lived a life of a "character" in front of the world. I don't know. None of us like to be rejected. But when you're in the public eye for years and you're expected to act a certain way and BE a certain person, I only imagine how hard it would be to find one's "true self." Couple that with clinical depression and addictions, along with all of the other strongholds, and well, that's a toxic recipe for disaster! I read an article from someone who said they'd been CLOSE friends for over 30 years and knew of his battles with depression and addictions but NOT to the extent of it's true destruction and he said he felt Robin didn't have the capability of allowing that side to be seen much more than what his small circle already knew. How very sad to be so brilliant in some areas but to also be trapped by that brilliance! By this time, people were talking about the fact of him committing suicide was going to send him to eternal hell. Not people that KNEW him personally but lay people like you and me! People that had NO clue about who he really was as a person, a father, a husband, a son, a friend. Much less knowing about his salvation......

Before I begin my discussion on suicide, and his salvation, take a look at the below information found straight out of the Bible!

Christ died for US
John 3:16 - "And God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life."
Romans 5:8 - "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
Acts 3:19 - "Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord."
John 3:36 - "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."
John 1:12 - "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name."
Ephesians 2:8-9 - "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast."
Assurance of Salvation
John 10:27-28 - "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand."
Salvation ONLY in Him
John 14:6 - "Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."
Acts 4:12 - "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

Remember, it isn't by the works you do, nor the hours you spend in church. It isn't about how good you are, or how good you THINK you are, that will get you saved and guarantee eternal life. Because it is important to understand that ALL people have a sin problem! Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" and in Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." It's believing that Jesus died for your sins, repenting, asking for forgiveness and receiving the Son into your heart! And you will have everlasting life, reigning with the King forever more! Did you see conditions or exceptions there? Anywhere in those scriptures?! No! The conditions are set forth by your belief in Jesus Christ, your repentance of your sins, your receiving Jesus Christ as your Savior! Receiving the FREE GIFT. It isn't a gift until you accept it, receive it and hold it!

Back to the issue at hand....Suicide! This is an awful, terrible act and out of ALL the ways to die, suicide is the ONE act that not only leaves so many loved ones feeling as though they "missed" something, but it leaves behind guilt and blame and in some cases shame. Nobody understands suicide! Nobody really can even explain it because that would mean knowing the thoughts and minds of those who commit this tragedy. Only one person can do that and that's God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit! People call it "selfish" and "cowardly" or taking the "cowards" way out. To some, it is seen as such. Well, in the minds of those who take their lives, they BELIEVE the opposite. They believe everyone ELSE would be better off without them being a "burden" to their friends and family. That's how their minds work through this act and they convince themselves that they are being BRAVE by removing themselves from burdening others. Remember, if someone is at the point in their lives to commit suicide, they are NOT mentally stable. Whether they've been battling a mental disorder/disease all of their lives, or something recently "snapped," they have become unstable for whatever reason.

Suicide is MURDER. Let's make that distinction first. This makes suicide NO different than any other "sin" in the bible EXCEPT the ONE unpardonable sin of "blasphemy against the Holy Spirit." Matthew 12:31-32, "Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. v32) Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come." And in Mark 3:29, "but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation” If you deny the Holy Spirit's entrance into your life, to work his sanctification in you, you cannot be cleansed from unrighteousness. Therefore, "blasphemy against the Holy Ghost" can be understood as a continued and persistently stubborn rejection of the gospel of salvation. This would be an "unpardonable sin" because as long as a person remains in unbelief, he voluntarily excludes himself from forgiveness of sin.

It would be difficult to argue that suicide is not a sin, because it's the taking of a human life, or to put it bluntly, murder. It isn't the murder of someone else, it's self-murder, but murder nonetheless. Murder is the taking of A LIFE. Yours or someone else's life. Period. The Bible clearly expresses the sanctity of human life in Exodus 20:13, "You shall not murder." God is the author of life, thus, the giving and taking of life ought to remain in his hands, Job 1:21, "And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” In Deuteronomy 30:19-20, you can hear the truest heart of God crying out for His people to choose life, "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; v20) that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.” 

His Hands Hold YOU!
But, the question is, and remains to those who have been voicing their "opinions," can a sin as grave as suicide destroy one's salvation? Is suicide any different of a sin than the rest? Remember, suicide is an ACTION. It's not the root cause of the action but rather the RESULT of something else. The Bible tells us that at the moment of salvation a believer's sins are forgiven John 3:16, "And God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life." And again in John 10:28, "And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand." When we become a child of God, ALL of our sins, even those committed AFTER salvation, are no longer held against us. ANYONE who turns to Jesus for forgiveness is made righteous by His blood as stated in Romans 5:9, "Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him." He covers our ALL of our sins, through His shed blood on the cross of Salvation, past, present and future!!! When God purchased us with the blood of Christ, ALL of our sins were paid for (1 Peter 1:19). If a person who has truly received Jesus Christ as Savior, demonstrating that they have been redeemed, reconciled, forgiven, justified, etc., by God, commits suicide, the SIN of suicide was bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ.

Suicide is a terrible tragedy, but it does NOT negate the Lord's act of redemption! Our salvation rests securely in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. So then, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." Romans 10:13! Will Jesus welcome home a believer who died at their own hands? I absolutely believe He will, tenderly and lovingly because He said ALL of our sins were forgiven and remembered no more. Would He not welcome home a believer who chose to have an abortion? Is this sin any different than suicide? He said that nobody would snatch them from His hands and that whosoever believes in Him shall have ETERNAL life. The Biblical basis for this is in  Romans 8:38-39, and I'm capitalizing the whole thing for emphasis upon His precious PROMISE to us, "FOR I AM PERSUADED THAT NEITHER DEATH NOR LIFE, NOR ANGELS NOR PRINCIPALITIES NOR POWERS, NOR THINGS PRESENT NOR THINGS TO COME V39) NOR HEIGHT NOR DEPTH, NOR ANY OTHER CREATED THING, SHALL BE ABLE TO SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE OF GOD WHICH IS IN CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD." This covers A LOT of ground, wouldn't you say?! Are WE not "created things?" So then, how is it that we can trust in this beautiful promise that He so profoundly spoke to us, then deny its same comfort to those people who doubly grieve for brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, husbands, wives and friends who, in horrible, desperate, clouded moments of total despair and in their darkest moments, decided to end their lives? I believe that Jesus died not only for the sins of us all, but for all of our sins, including the forgotten ones, even suicide.

Some people, Christians included, think suicide can't be forgiven. They say it's because the person who took their own life couldn't have repented of doing it and they were playing "God." I find terrible fault with this way of thinking because all of us commit sins that we're too spiritually cloddish to recognize for the sins that they are! And, as born again Christians, we ALL die with sins not named and repented of. That's why we have a Savior who remember our sins no more....covered us in His precious blood and forgave us of every single sin - past, present and future. Even those that we don't recognize as sin in our worldly fleshly ways. It's because of our humanly natural ways that we can't recognize all of our sins because we tend to justify them....sometimes to death. But if we are truly born again believers in Jesus Christ as our Savior, we will have eternal life with our Father in Heaven!

He Paid Our Sin Debt in FULL
For those Christians who believe taking one's own life is playing God and can condemn a fellow Christian to HELL, then I would suggest to look deep inside and remember that abortion, too, would be considered playing God just as much as murdering someone else would be considered playing God. Taking a life is taking a life no matter if it's yours or someone else's. And murder is a sin. No exceptions. Sin is forgiven, bought and paid for by the shed blood of Jesus for those who accepted Jesus as their Savior. I would also lovingly caution you not to be too quick to judge in this area because NOBODY knows if someone close to them could fall into this same kind of desperation, same kind of despair and suddenly decide to end their lives. Mental disorders are the "silent" disorders with shame attached. In many, they can go undetected for many years. Even the ones that seek and find help, still can "slip" into a bottomless pit and never fully recovery. There are those who have a temporary breakdown that can't find their way back. The list goes on. This can happen to anyone. Suicide has affected alot of lives and has touched many more. Suicide is a permanent “solution” to temporary problems. But it's really not about the ACT of suicide that counts. It's whether they are saved, born again, repentant Christians when they die! It's about their eternal salvation, not about the sins of commission.

As a quick side note, before I continue, is to make mention of being in bondage and under strongholds. Many Christians struggle with bondage and strongholds, most not even realizing it until something finally grabs hold of their spirits and shakes them up a little. Anyone who has been truly delivered from a stronghold or a form of bondage, understands how blinding they can be, how BINDING they can become, how heavy they can be to carry around and how they can cloud your views and judgment to a point of making poor life and spiritual choices. Satan is behind each of them. Lying through his teeth. Laughing the whole time. Being in bondage to a sin, or to sins, to the world itself, stifles your relationship and growth with the Lord BUT it doesn't mean He forsakes you or turns His back on you. Quite the opposite if we call out to Him with our hearts and souls! In our darkest moments, when we call upon the Lord the loudest, when our hearts are the most broken, is when He will be felt and seen the most! Sometimes, for some people, though, their illness, or bondage or strongholds consumes them and they find it more difficult to cry out during those times of total desperation. When you have strongholds and are under bondage and also have a mental illness/disorder, then how much more confused and desperate do you think that person becomes? Being in bondage is a very real thing. Some people would say something like, "Oh they are fighting their own demons." Or something like, "They've been fighting their own demons for years." And even something on the lines of, 'They're afraid to be alone in silence because they don't want to deal with their demons." Well, those are all pretty good examples of what being in bondage is like. Just because you are a saved, born again believer in Jesus, doesn't mean that everything changes overnight! We are sanctified daily! But the transformation doesn't happen overnight....and depending on if there is discipleship in that persons life, can also predict growth or lack thereof.

Every single day we are being worked on, growing, learning, changing, cleansed. It's easier for some than for others just as it is quicker for some than for others. Robin Williams was definitely in bondage to many things to a point that it overwhelmed him. It consumed him actually. He felt hopeless. And it's sad. Very sad. Nobody knows the torment this man suffered. Except for the Lord Himself! Yes, it's true that by accepting Jesus as our Savior transforms us from the inside out, but it doesn't happen overnight. Some very good, God fearing, born again believers in Christ suffered immensely unto their deaths because of bondage and strongholds, because of addictions and diseases. There are many more that weren't saved that went to their deaths the same way....which ones should WE, as Christians, be more concerned with?

Many commentators, bloggers and others reporting on this "breaking news" automatically ASSUMED that Robin Williams wasn't a born again Christian BECAUSE he committed suicide. How presumptuous! They flooded the comments sections with their thoughts and "truths" and they flooded the cyberspace areas with thoughts and memories. All on the first day of hearing about his death. All without even knowing for CERTAIN that it was suicide, even though it appeared that way. It's still presumptuous. It's still premature. So the next day, in a hidden article, tucked away nicely from the public view, late at night, there is the headlines...."Robin Williams "accepted Jesus Christ!"" For all to SEE. But did they? Not too many discussions arose after this hidden away article came out. Interesting? Not really. People would rather focus on other things of less importance and spewing condemnation of his eternal soul. I cringed but I prayed for peace! Now for those who followed Robin knew he had an Episcopalian upbringing and would base some of his jokes on that said upbringing. He was searching still when sometime later in his career, and through his depression, seeds had been planted by a few friends and one person in particular who shared the same kind of upbringing in the Episcopalian church and later became a born again Christian. This person is a Dr of Theology and said that after one of Robin's many stints in rehab, he "accepted Jesus Christ." He reminisced about their conversations and upbringing and how this Dr shared the gospel with Robin.

If you did follow Robin and happened to have the privilege to catch some of his interviews, on those rare occasions, when he would be able to contain the "public" Robin, he'd mention his reliance upon his FAITH and Jesus to get him out of his dark places. It was GENUINE. If you had eyes to see, then you would see how God was behind his eyes during those rare interviews. It wasn't a put on. Some things are just evident. He said at one point he realized, and I'm paraphrasing this, when he was at his lowest point, in the darkest part of his life, coming face to face with God made him come closer to Him and made him realize God and his family was ALL he had!!! As I read that, I was warmed to my spirit BUT furious at the same time!! Furious that people had already condemned this man without knowing anything about him. Or his HEART! Judging him before knowing truth. I was furious that they spoke about him spending eternity in hell because he committed suicide, to a world of HURTING people!!! To people who may have lost a loved one, that was a born again believer, to suicide now possibly putting doubts in their minds about where they will be spending eternal life. Furious that these Christians were HURTING the kingdom of God more than they were HELPING!!!

Then there's that statement, ""No one who is truly a Christian will succumb to addiction and depression or (fill in the blank) much less take his own life" which is tragically false. With all due respect, this is the sort of theology that damages God's children and minimizes one's ability to serve in God's Kingdom. There are "true Christians" all over the world who love Jesus with all their heart, who have faith in Him, but yet, are in bondage of some kind, or who suffer mental disorders/diseases. Being a Christian doesn't make any of us exempt from pain, suffering, flaws and mental disorders...but it does provide us a source in overcoming them daily. Still...with that being said, there are sometimes when we are overcome today by what we defeated yesterday. Remember what Ephesians 6:12 tells us, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." This battle is very real and while yours may not be provoking you toward suicide, depression or addiction, Robin's definitely was. What Robin lost was his perspective. I know you've all heard the saying, "Perception is reality." Well, Robin's perception became his reality. He may have lost perspective of life, but he didn't lose his status as a 'Christian' or his love from God.

And anyone who followed his career, and what he allowed in the public eye, also knew Robin Williams as a "giver" of himself and his wealth. He LOVED the  wounded warriors program and our soldiers, and put on some shows for them as well as visiting soldiers and supporting their cause financially. He LOVED children and supported St. Jude's hospital. He donated to causes that he DIDN'T brag about. He gave to others unselfishly because he loved. He did it humbly. Just like the bible tells us! Be humble givers and don't brag. He never did. He lived a primarily quiet life, out of the spotlight, unless he was promoting a movie or his recent television show, or a stand up comedy tour. Otherwise, he humbly stayed in the background, fighting his demons, struggling with his life, and silently crying out! There are lives he touched that none of us will ever know about. He made so many people laugh, and cry, and covered up his own sadness and tears. He had problems, sure. He had made mistakes. Sure. He wasn't perfect. But we all have problems, we all make mistakes and NONE of us are perfect. We ALL fall short of the glory of God! When Robin Williams accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior, he was sealed with the blood of Christ, promised eternal life and forgiven of ALL of his sins. The only thing that would condemn Robin Williams to hell is if he CHOSE NOT to accept Jesus Christ as his Savior. Not suicide. Not the sin that was bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus. Let Jesus' own words be a comfort to all of you who may have experienced this kind of tragedy of a loved one who was a suffering Christian! Loved ones who have died at their own hands we can safely entrust to our gracious God!

He DOES Hear Your Cries!
I believe that, as Christians, we should worry less about whether Christians who have killed themselves go to heaven, and worry more about how we can help people like them find hope and joy in living! The loved ones whose spirits are, even right now, this very moment, slipping so silently toward death without knowing the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior, these are our burdens. The most urgent problem facing us today and facing the world in general, staring us right in the faces, isn't the morality of suicide. It's the spiritual and mental despair that destructively drags the people down TO it. Satan is a thief! He lies to each of these hurting souls that they'd be better off dead. NOT TRUE!!! Satan is a liar! He wants to steal moments of joy that God has placed before you! Allow God to take victory over him. God knows each of us intimately, down to the very number of hairs on our heads, and He desires that ALL of us spend eternity in His presence. It's our choice though. His heart truly breaks over all the pain we suffer in this temporary life, but He promises us eternal life with Him, free of all life's burdens, through Jesus Christ. In Matthew 11:28, Jesus says, "Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." He knows that this life is difficult, so He wants to remove the burdens we carry. We, as Christians, should be very careful what we speak, how we speak and why we speak while publicly commenting, instructing or directing others TO Christ and FOR Christ. Our words are likened to life and death in the Bible.....and we have a huge responsibility to others in the Kingdom because many eyes are upon us! Both Christians and non-Christians alike. Our purpose here isn't to push people away, or to plant doubt where doubt shouldn't be! Doubt only draws people AWAY from Jesus....doubt is from Satan himself. Condemning people also draws people away from our Lord! Not a responsibility I want to assume! I desire to do the will of God! Our purpose is to love, comfort and share the TRUTH with others. Both Christians and Non-Christians alike. Our voices in writing may be the only voices they hear....So does a true, born again Christian lose their eternal place in heaven because they commit suicide? No.

The REAL question we need to ask ourselves, and not OTHERS, is, "Are WE doing the will of the Father? Or are we just acting like it?" If we truly have the love of God residing within us, we are mature enough to know that addiction, depression, idolatry, jealousy, pornography, murder and many more battles are being waged against God's children by Satan himself. Ephesians 6:12 once again, "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."  This is why all of God's people need each we don't lose each other to the lies that Satan and the suicidal thoughts he whispers in the ears of our loved ones, or those we may know. We need each other to be encouraged to pray for one another and to serve each other in Jesus' name! I'm convinced there wasn't many, if any at all, of those kinds of people in Robin's circle doing those kinds of things for him. This serves as a grave reminder to be sensitive to others around us, to be able to spot someone who may be battling these same battles, and who just might be spiraling into that deep darkened pit of despair. Suicide is an act taken in RESPONSE to feeling absolutely defeated by life.

Robin Williams death left me convinced that what had driven him to commit suicide had been his inability see the Hope and Joy that Jesus set in front of him because of his mental instability that consumed his very existence. He struggled for many many years to try to shake his addictions, to conquer his inner demons that produced his clinical depression and that would eventually cause him to feel like a failure in everyone's eyes, but especially his own. He couldn't feel that way because he was expected to make the whole world laugh. His expectations, not others. I'm convinced that as he looked in the mirror, he didn't see the person the whole world saw. The person he created for the world to see was the person he wanted to be but just couldn't for whatever reason. I'm convinced that Robin Williams saw a totally different man that was broken, bound up, sad, and fractured. his death also left me convinced that we, as Christians, need more compassion and love towards the battles of others, and less of fingers wagging and condemnation. Nobody escapes this life without sin....there are two choices, to have those sins covered by the blood of Jesus and to accept Him as our Savior, spending eternity in Heaven with our Father, or to go to our death with our sins fully exposed, refusing the free gift of Salvation that is offered to us in this life, spending eternity in Hell. I've made my choice many years ago.....I pray that you have chosen Jesus too. If you haven't, please take this time, where you're at right now, and believe on Jesus Christ as the only Begotten Son, who was born of a virgin, died on the Cross for ALL of our sins, who bought and paid for our sin debt in full, and rose three days later, repent of your sins, ask for forgiveness, and accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior!

In closing, with relation to depression, which is the primary reason for suicide in the first place, there isn't anything more of an extreme act of self-hate than taking one's own life and often the need to express such an overpowering and consuming emotion will manifest itself completely by the act of taking one's life! Self-hate comes in many forms. Some are seen, but many more are unseen, hidden deep within the recesses of our minds. Those are the ones that only God sees. This kind of clinical depression  drowns out God's voice of love and redemption just long enough to be overtaken. Asking for help is hard for anyone, and more so for someone suffering the degree he was...and most people can only see the depths of someone's pain on the surface. Nobody can see the true depths of someone else's internal pain, suffering or hopelessness. So, PLEASE, if your are reading this for whatever reason you were brought here in the first place, and YOU are struggling with thoughts of suicide, battling depression, or some other stronghold I ask you with all the love inside of me, to seek the help of a Pastor, Spiritual Mentor or Christian counselor. Someone you can trust who will lead you to the hope that can only be found in the Lord! Don't try to carry this battle on your own and don't try to carry all the burdens by yourself!!!! The devil is fighting hard for you; so whatever you do, don't give in to his lies. Don't listen to him. Realize that whatever you are facing will pass. Seek out someone to pray for you and with you. Seek out help! But more than anything else, SEEK THE FACE OF THE LORD! You may not think He's listening, but He is!!! Cry out and He will comfort you!!! There are those who love you dearly and want to help....Especially Jesus! May your darkest moments be interrupted by the purest love of God displayed through others He sends into your life for that very moment! May the lies that cloud your life be cleared by the TRUTH of God's love!

May you rest in peace in the arms of God!

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Sunday, August 3, 2014

Right-Moving vs Forward Moving - Which One Are YOU?

Let's take a look at what it means to be forward moving first and then we'll compare it to being RIGHT-MOVING. This might surprise you! To be forward moving means that you are moving ahead, things are easily falling into place. Almost too easily. Everything APPEARS good, solid and smooth sailing. We move forward because of choices. We move forward because of desires. We even move forward because we convince ourselves that what we've chosen to do, and have succeeded in accomplishing, is what the Lord led us to do. Convincing ourselves of these little lies can, and will, often times take us directly outside the will of our Lord! We need a job so we find one with much prayer. We take the first job offered because it “appears” like it was sent from the Lord, an answered prayer. But the danger lies behind the word “appears” because we didn't listen for His voice! We prayed. Yes. We were in need. Yes. But, what good is it if we don't stop and listen to what He wants us to do or how He wants us to move forward? Well, there is no good to be found in not listening. It just means it'll take us much longer to get back around to what He intended for us in His perfect plan in the first place! We're hard nuts to crack sometimes, aren't we? If you're honest with yourself, the answer is a screaming YES!

So by forward moving, we appear to the fallen world around us that it's ALL from the Lord and that's why we keep moving forward. Most Christians want to appear this way, even when they know inside that it's not really what it appears to be! What we, as Christians, should be striving for, is RIGHT-MOVING. That's the beautiful part of the journey anyway, to be in His will, walking His chosen path, doing His directed work. I know some people, professing Christians, who are constantly making their own choices, from their WANTS and desires, manipulating the outcome of “prayer” so that when they achieve what THEY WANT, and what the outcome should be in THEIR eyes, they tell the world it was from the Lord. Here's the danger in proclaiming this. I'm going to give another example from of those professing Christians to drive this point home because it's very important to grasp this! These same people will get their desired results because either they don't want to wait on what the Lord is doing or where the Lord is directing them, or they feel entitled to what their desires are based on the Scripture in Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.” The danger is when, after they've proclaimed all of their desires to be from the Lord because they're entitled to them, those desires turn out to not be in the will of the Lord and don't turn out quite the way they expected. It gives a bad and mixed message to the unbelievers who are watching and listening. If the Lord gave them the desires of their hearts, why are they so miserable, complaining or changing direction, they might ask themselves!

However, there is more to this Scripture that we need to look at in it's full context. Let's look at the verse before it first and then I'll tell you the verses 1-9. In Psalm 37:3, it says, “Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.” THEN it says to delight yourself ALSO in the Lord- emphasis mine – and He shall give you the desires of your heart. OK. Pretty clear to me that there are CONDITIONS in receiving the desires of our hearts. We are to trust the Lord, we are to do good, we are to dwell in the land and feed on His FAITHFULNESS! Now, let's look at verses 1-9 in their entirety. Psalm 37:1-9 reads as follows:

"v1)Do not fret because of evildoers, Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.
v2) For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, And wither as the green herb.
v3) Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. v4) Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. v5) Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. v6) He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday. v7) Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. v8) Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret - it only causes harm."

Now if you read these verses together, there are a lot of conditions, requests and commands. Committing our way to the Lord is an important part of receiving blessings and desires of our hearts! "Commit" in the Hebrew is "galal" (#1556 in the Strong's Hebrew dictionary), and it literally means to "roll it over, remove" it to our Heavenly Father and trust Him to take care of all those things that are troubling, making us anxious and are problems for us. This is a promise that we can count on, "Trust Him and He shall bring it to pass." There are two conditions that must be done on our part before "He shall bring it to pass". First we have to give all of those problems willingly over to God, and secondly, we have to trust and have faith in the Lord that He'll bring it to pass. But remember,  our request HAS to be within the will of God. Most Christians just can't cut those problems loose and turn them over to God because they have to find something to worry about. For some people, worrying makes them feel alive. Commit your problems to Him, He is the God of the Universe, and ONLY He can change the minds of the people when they are set against us.

Stand out!
I've always compared forward-moving people with those who are going with the flow or swimming with the current. It's easy. It's painless. It doesn't require exertion. It doesn't require pain. And it doesn't require feeling uncomfortable. But more so, is that forward-moving doesn't require WAITING ON THE LORD! These people are the ones who appear to have everything under control, who seem to have everything going their way. But a closer look, and you will find that's not the case at all. Just because you are moving forward doesn't mean you are right-moving! Anyone can move forward, but not everyone will be rightly moving in the Will of God Almighty! That's the difference. Forward moving usually is from our own doing, our own choices and from our own inability to wait for the Lord, for His timing and stay in His Will. Forward moving, from my observations, seems to look good from the starting point, when one starts off good, but finishes poorly. Or it ends badly. For example, we make a decision without waiting on the Lord's direction and convince ourselves the decision we've just made IS from the Lord. We WANT this "thing" that we've made the decision on because it fulfills our desires of the heart. It looks like things are going pretty good. For a temporary amount of time. The end result, which is oftentimes completed in front of those who've you've proclaimed the Lord's Will in front of, doesn't end so well. So, then, IF this was the Will of our Loving Lord, then it wouldn't have caused us shame and embarrassment and it definitely wouldn't have caused Him to look like He didn't know what He was doing.

To “swim against the current or tide” is an idiom meaning basically to go against popular thought, popular beliefs or popular practice. I compare this to "right-moving." The Collins English Dictionary defines this idiom as, “to resist prevailing opinion”. It has it's origins as a Shakespearean metaphor in Henry IV where it was used to describe characteristics in opposition to one another. Being so, to “swim against the current or tide” ultimately carries with it stark denotations and connotations of opposition, resistance, and contradiction. This doesn't really sound all too appealing or encouraging does it? Why do you suppose it doesn't sound appealing? Well, because it requires a lot of work! It requires being uncomfortable. It requires your FAITH!

Swimming upstream, against the current, takes strength, endurance, focus and determination. It's challenging. Going against the current is the hard way, and in many ways, it's the unpopular way. But while many prefer swimming with the current, or going with the "flow" so to speak, there are many more who choose to take the challenge. Swimming against the current sets us apart. It even sometimes alienates us from the "popular" crowd. But because we are NOT of this world, it shouldn't matter if we're alienated. We're instructed not to take on the "appearances" of the world, do as the world does nor are we to swim in the same "current" as they do. For some, that's extremely hard not to do. Let's look at John 17:14-19 before moving on. Jesus says, on the eve of His Crucifixion, "I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. v15) My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. v16) They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. v17) Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth." Now that we see what Jesus prayed for us even before He was nailed to the Cross, we know we are not OF this world. We are IN it, and must live here until the Lord Jesus Christ calls us home, but we are not to be conformed TO it! In verse 15, Jesus is praying for us to be protected from the evil one, or Satan. So why is that? Why would Jesus pray that if we are His children? The answer is found in John 17:18-19, "v18) As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. v19) And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth."

He has SENT us INTO the world, to be sanctified by the Truth but not to act, become or conform to the world in which we were sent INTO! As Christians, we must constantly be reminded of this because it plays a role in the direction we choose to move in....for the glory to God by "right-moving" or for our own selfish desires by "forward-moving." Both directions are a testimony to the unbelievers, although ONLY one GLORIFIES our Savior! The best part of this choice of right-moving is that with this choice, because it's the WILL of God, ALSO enables us to MOVE FORWARD with God! If we are only forward moving without the Will of God, then we aren't able to move forward WITH Him.....Oh what an awesome God we serve!!!

We are faced with all kinds of choices every single day. In every area of our lives. If we choose the right way, which is the way of the Lord and is RIGHTEOUS, then there will be a peace like no other! Philippians 3:13-14 “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” I have realized there are two things that need to take place in order to move forward WITH God that will oftentimes help with our choices in desiring the Will of God. 1) Stop dwelling on the past. 2) Reach out in front of you, taking the narrow path, swim AGAINST the current and let Jesus place within you a new and positive vision for your future, and then take hold of it. He WANTS us to have a beautiful future. No doubt about it!!! To dwell on the past, on your failures, hurts or disappointments, only serves to do a few things for you.....1) It bogs you down. Makes you feel heavy-hearted and full of despair. 2) It usually brings you into a depression in which you live and that depression holds you back from giving you the strength to swim against that current. 3) It tends to make you feel ashamed of past failures, either in life in general, or maybe something with school, work,or relationships. It makes you feel DEFEATED. Then you allow those moments to linger as darkened memories that will only stress you out and haunt you. Recipes for disaster!

His WAY!
Scriptures say, in Isaiah 43:18-19, "v18) “Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old. v19) Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert." I have experienced this a time or two. Over the years, I've learned how God gives us signals when He wants us to let go of one thing, so that we can take hold of something else that He wants to give to us, or LEAD us to! Sometimes, He removes His grace, so that a job, position, or task that we once enjoyed becomes tedious and joyless because we've overstayed His will and became comfortable with the "comfortable." Other times, the Lord puts pressure on us, sometimes ALOT of pressure, squeezing us off of the old path, and redirecting us onto a new and better one. If we listen carefully, which is what HE wants us to do in the first place, we may hear His voice telling us something like, "I'm done with that! I have something else I want you to do now...I have something else I want to give you now.....I have someplace else I want to TAKE YOU!" Every time God asked me to let go of one thing that maybe I wanted to hold onto a little longer than I should have, it's always been because He had something even better, more fulfilling and more precious for me waiting up ahead!

However, before we can truly grab hold of any, and all, of the new things that God wants to do in our lives, we really have to let go of the old things that serve to only be a stumbling block. And it's a test of our faith. None of us like to be tested, really. But a FAITH that can't be TESTED is a FAITH that can't be TRUSTED!!!! Can't trust something that we haven't tested out first! When we start to sense that the Lord is leading us into new territory, unfamiliar territory, we have only two choices. We can either choose to righteously move forward in our faith, or "right-moving," or we can shrink back in fear, swimming WITH the current and go with the flow. What we need to remember that in times like these, it's that failing to trust God that always robs us of His best for us! I don't know about you, but I WANT His best for ME!!! Anytime I've swam with the flow of the current, MY best didn't compare to HIS best for me and learned some valuable lessons along my journey that I WANT His best for me! His best for me is so much greater than anything I can imagine! And learning to trust Him implicitly in some of the hardest, most difficult of times, has made some other people scratch their heads at how I walked out on complete Faith KNOWING it was the will of God, but not being able to explain it. Showing it sometimes conquers all the doubt though and I wake each day asking to be used and when you do so, it means you must be willing to surrender and do whatever, and go wherever, He calls you to do or say. However hard that may be.

Isaiah 43:19 tells us something so beautiful, "Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert." Also in Job 17:9, "Yet the righteous will hold to his way, And he who has clean hands will be stronger and stronger." The path is narrow and Jesus never said it was going to be easy. In fact He told us that He was hated and we will be also. But His promises for us He gave so that we could live them out fully in Christ! We can't move forward and righteously move if we are always looking back. We must look forward and see ourselves as the person Christ knows we will become regardless of our past. We are to be separate from the ways of the world and live as Christ did and that means swimming against the current, right-moving in His Will for us, and TRUSTING Him and practicing our Faith! The world should see the difference in us and through us. We aren't to be driven by our old desires and impulses. We must put on the new nature, head in a new direction and have the new way of thinking that the Spirit of God within us have given us. The renewing of the mind is imperative to right moving! Our thoughts oftentimes are listened to over the Holy Spirit! If our thoughts line up with the Holy Spirit and we listen closely for guidance, and WAIT to act, then it becomes easier and easier to find that strength to swim against the current and to find the Will of God for our lives!  Look to His Word for direction on how to live because it's very clear! Our attitudes and behaviors should reflect the Spirit of God that is in us, not the worldly lives around us. Don’t live as the ungodly do, because they are hopelessly confused by refusing to believe receive the Lord Jesus Christ. We need to reach out to those who are confused and lost, not become like them. Our approach will either repulse them or encourage them, plant a seed or throw it over their hearts. We need to let Him continue to transform us daily into the new creation that we ARE.

John 3:30 tells us simply put, "He must increase, but I must decrease." Wow, just how simple is THAT!?!! That's why I don't have lists anymore, other than my grocery list or maybe a to-do list for TODAY. Lists bogs us down and reminds us of failures. Failures present depression and defeat and defeat keeps us swimming with the current in the world around us. We're constantly to be righteously moving forward, growing in Jesus Christ and doing all we can to get the message of God’s love to others. Some are called to go out face to face, some are called to preach and some, as I am, are called to reach out through the written word! We have to make sure that we're living a life that reflects Christ’s nature to attract others to Him, to point others in the right direction. We need to fully understand that the Bible tells us to press on towards the mark of the high calling in Christ Jesus. Even if it's a hard path, even if it takes us out of our comfort zone and even if we feel we're not well equipped. We're in a race for souls and we can’t go back and retrieve any time lost from the previous years. I want to live my life one day at a time, asking the Lord what He requires of me and how He wants to use me today. Tomorrow isn't promised to us! Seeking His plans for my life on a daily basis is sufficient because then at the end of the year, when most of us look over the events that had taken place, I won't be disappointed!

We aren't defined by what happens TO us, but rather by how we REACT to what happens to us! I tell others this all the time because as mere mortals with feelings and heart and emotions, we have natural tendencies to want to react less than Christ-like for sure! Is it hard to not react in our flesh!? You bet! But it is necessary to react to all of our circumstances and situations with the mind of Christ and react Christ-like! The Holy Spirit always gives us a warning in advance.....we either choose to listen to it or we choose to turn from that still small voice. I always tell people that there is ALWAYS someone looking on at what is going on in your life, how you are handling it and in the way that you are dealing with it when you are proclaiming to be a child of God. What we SPEAK, how we ACT, how we REACT all is a testimony to others about how good and LOVING our God is or it COULD send a negative message that God is judgmental and angry. We have a big responsibility to glorify our Lord in this fallen world. It's not easy, but Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit to guide us and comfort us.....

God promised that He has a great plan for you, for all of us that are His Christ believing children. When there are things that you don’t understand, difficult events that don't make sense, difficult roads that you must travel, don’t let yourself get in what you DON'T know or understand because that equals FEAR. Fear holds us back. Things may seem like there are pieces missing to the puzzle, and that very well could be true! It's only in HIS timing, in HIS will, and for HIS glory that God has more puzzle pieces coming your way. Those new "pieces" to the puzzle just may be the right opportunities, the right people at just the right time, the right words spoken at the right moment, or the right journey for God's perfect Will. God’s timing is always perfect. Keep righteously moving forward because what you gain through the difficult path is, and will be, much greater than what can be attained TEMPORARILY through swimming with the current. One day you'll be able to look back and realize the beautiful masterpiece that God designed for your life. For all of His children's lives! We just need to have a deeper inner trust and faith, a renewing of our minds, and a confidence deep down in our hearts that reminds us, “God has a great plan for my life. I know He is guiding each step I take. And even though I don’t understand this, somehow, someway, He will work it out to my advantage.”

Our determination to choose "right-moving" over "forward-moving" can make all the difference between living a life of frustration, complaining and disappointments or living the abundant life that God has waiting for you. The longer you've been a born again Christ believer, the more, and better, you know that the Christian life is far from easy. And the trouble with easy, is it's quite often not RIGHT. It's EASY to go along with the crowd. It's EASY to be self-indulgent and careless about others. It's EASY to do what the world does, like the things, clothes, music, styles that the world likes. It's EASY to live like the unbelievers. Determination means that you fix your eye on Christ and keep it on him, despite detours and distractions. What pulls you off the path, whether it's Satan or your own choices, you'll probably never really know, but there are sufficient temptations to sidetrack you along the way. Determination helps you get back on the main line, heading toward God.

The model for DETERMINATION is found in 2 Corinthians, 11:24-26, "v24) From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. v25) Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; v26) in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;" Paul wasn't going to let anyone or anything stop him from his mission of spreading the Gospel. Don't get discouraged if you're not as strong or determined as Paul was, but on the other hand, you CAN compare your setbacks and roadblocks to his and fashion this statement around them and think, "If Paul can overcome those with which he came against, all with God's help, then I KNOW I can overcome my problems with the strength in the Lord and with the same power that God gave him."

Paul learned to rely on Christ for his strength. He couldn't muster what was needed on his own. Neither can you. None of us are. Our own is weak. Our own is selfish. Our own is not perfect. It's possible that God could show you that you need to change YOUR plans. He might require you to back off until He has time to prepare conditions for you. He might set roadblocks in your way to stop you from manipulating the outcome. When you're in His will and need determination to go on, He'll give it to you. Don't be afraid to ask for His strength and determination. Don't be ashamed of being weak because really, it's only when we acknowledge our weaknesses that we are the strongest in Jesus. It's when you ALLOW God to replace your weakness with His strength and His power that the victory will be won. His timing is crucial. Have you ever heard it said that "The right thing at the wrong time is the wrong thing." Ecclesiastes 3:1 reminds us that, "To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:" I recommend you read Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 for further understanding because the bottom line is in verse 11, "He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end."

Which one are YOU? Right-Moving or Forward-Moving? It's never too late to change the path you're on! God's plans for your life is eternal!

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Friday, May 30, 2014

The Power of the Blood of Jesus

What does Christ's blood mean to us?

1.) His blood redeems us. There was a price against us that we could not pay, but the blood of Jesus redeemed us. 1 Peter 1:18-19 says, "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect."

2.) His blood brings us into fellowship with God. According to Ephesians 2:13, "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ." Without the blood of Christ, man is a long way from God.

3.) His blood makes peace with God. Man, by nature, is at war with God. We can only come to God on His peace terms - the blood atonement. The Bible says in Colossians 1:20, "and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross."

4.) His blood cleanses. Not only does it remove the punishment of sin, it removes the pollution. I don't care what sin you've committed, it says very clearly in 1 John 1:7, "But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin."

His blood gives power over the devil. People give way too much credit to the devil because, although he is the god of this world, and roams around seeking whom he can devour, he has been defeated! Even Satan has to obey to God! It's the blood that Satan fears. Revelation 12:11 says, "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death." The devil doesn't want you to learn about the blood. He hates it! He wants you to stay in the dark about it's power because it is exactly what Satan FEARS the most!

There are many examples of Blood Sacrifices in the Old Testament. They were specifically done to cover the sins of the people. There was even one instance where the blood was applied at the doorpost so the judgment of God would pass over them. Mat 26:28, "For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." And look what it says in Act 20:28, "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood." 

There are 4 occasions where Jesus shed His Blood (but is useful to God's people in a thousand ways!) All of these occasions have significant meanings and speak to us about the Power of Jesus' Blood. Let's take a look at some of them for a moment.

A) Praying with Sweat and Blood - Luke 22:42-44, "saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” v43) Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. v44) And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.[a]" See, Jesus, as a human being, is showing us and teaching TO us that God’s Will is above His human Will. Our Flesh follows our old human will, which is our old nature, the nature of the unregenerate man, the old person and the old nature before we came to know God. Romans 7:18, "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find." 

Hebrews 10:6-7, "In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin, You had no pleasure. v7) Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come - In the volume of the book it is written of Me - To do Your will, O God." God doesn't take much pleasure in us if we want to do our own will instead of God’s Will. Jesus shed His Blood to deal with our will because it's against the Will of God. So we need to surrender our will, totally surrendering ourselves to Him and take HIS WILL for our lives!

B) Whipping until Blood flowed - John 19:1, "Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him." His body was whipped 39 times! In scourging, a soldier used a whip called a flagrum consisting of leather straps embedded with metal and glass fragments with small metal balls sewn into the end of each thong. This whip was brought down with full force and when struck against the back of Jesus, was pulled, whereby tearing the skin off, exposing muscle, and maybe even exposing His very bones. Scourging stops when it is determined that the victim is near death or 39 lashes was reached. 39 was the number of mercy according to Jewish law. Isaiah 53:4-6, "Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. v5) But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. v6) All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all." Our sins will ultimately lead to pain and suffering, punishment, losing direction and confusion. And we know confusion is NOT from the's from our adversary, the devil! So confessing our sins, leads to daily cleansing by God as it speaks of in 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

C) Wearing the Thorns until Blood Flows - Mark 15:17, " And they clothed Him with purple; and they twisted a crown of thorns, put it on His head...." They put a crown of thorns on His head, thorns that were shoved between His scalp and skull and were ripping and tearing at His skin. Imagine the great pain Jesus suffered for our sins! His blood was shed for US! Thorns represent a curse. Genesis 3:17-18, "Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’: “Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. v18) Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field." Some of the types of curses spoken about are:
a) Generational Curses which are curses passed down from one generation to another because of judgement. Found in Exodus 20:5 
b) Self Curses which are curses that you consciously or unconsciously speak over yourself. Found in Genesis 27:13
c) Other curses which have been placed on you by other people, knowingly or unknowingly. Found in Numbers 22:6 
d) Objects of a curse, which are objects that are abominations in the sight of God. Found in Deuteronomy 7:26. The good news is that Jesus can take away all our curses! Galatians 3:13, " Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” We need to reject ALL curses against us, even those we unknowingly speak over ourselves from time to time. Luke 6:28 tells us, "bless those who curse you, and pray for those who mistreat you." This is the antidote for all types of curses that are put upon us. To live the victorious life that Jesus Christ has promised us, we need to start blessing people and especially those who curse us.

D) Crucified with the Shedding of Blood - Mark 15:15, "Pilate wanted to please the crowd. So he set Barabbas free. Then he ordered his soldiers to beat Jesus with a whip and nail him to a cross." The Cross is a representation of Discipleship as taught in Matthew 10:38, "And he who does not take up your cross and come with me, you are not fit to be my disciples." A Disciple is one who loves God above everything, and everyone, else - your family, your job, your life, your children. Jesus called us to become disciples and He called us to make disciples. He went to the cross so we could do just that! Luke 14:26 says, "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple." We really need to make a commitment to become a disciple for Jesus. He gave His ALL for us, I think we can give Him all of US!

In my personal opinion, we don't hear enough about the blood of Jesus! It's not being taught in the majority of the sound churches. He had to pay a debt of sin that He didn't owe! Why? Because WE owed a debt of SIN that we couldn't PAY! Our sins were so atrocious that they had to be paid for with Jesus' BLOOD! What a wonderful Savior is HE! The Bible is very plain that Jesus entered into the heavenly holy place after He arose from the dead. He ascended into Heaven with His blood. The blood had to be applied as it is said in Hebrews 9:12, “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” It's ALL about the blood of Jesus! That's why I feel the churches need to teach, preach and speak on the Blood more often! It's ALL about the BLOOD, from the blood of Abel's slain lamb in Genesis, to the saints robes that were washed in the blood of the Lamb in Revelation, the whole Word of God centers around the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Hebrews 9:22, “...without shedding of blood is no remission.” Jesus' death was just as important as His blood sacrifice, and equally important was the burial and resurrection. BUT everything concerning the events of Jesus' life were leading up to the blood being applied to the Mercy Seat in Heaven. Hebrews 9:24-26 state, “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us...” (that is, God the Father). Jesus took His shed blood to Heaven to present unto the Father, by applying it to the Mercy Seat. This is why Jesus said to Mary in John 20:17, ”Jesus saith unto her, TOUCH ME NOT; for I am not yet ascended to my Father...” The blood couldn't be tainted.

I found a very good statement from one of the many great bible teachers by the name of M.R. DeHaan, M.D. that I will share here in it's entirety:
SOURCE: The TABERNACLE, by M.R. DeHaan, M.D., ISBN 0-310-23491-3, page 129.
"The blood was to be sprinkled, remember, on the mercy seat right after the death of the substitutionary animal of sacrifice, Now Christ is, of course, our substitute.  He was slain for us upon the Cross, and entered into death for us, and when He arose, He immediately went to heaven, entered into the holy of holies in heaven, sprinkled His precious blood upon the mercy seat before the throne of God, and forever settled the sin questions, and delivered us from the curse of the law. This is clearly taught in the New testament. Hebrews 9:12 is very definite on this: "But by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us." The Bible also makes plain when He accomplished this. On the morning of the resurrection He meets Mary at the tomb. As soon as Mary recognized Him, she prostrated herself upon Him, and would have kissed His feet, but with shocking suddenness, Jesus emphatically says to her: "Touch me not"; and then He proceeds immediately to give the reason why Mary is not permitted to touch Him at all. "For I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God." (John 20:17) Literally the Lord Jesus Christ said, "Touch me not; for I now am about to ascend unto my Father."  We can understand this action when we remember the the high priest after he had offered the sacrifice, was to enter the holy of holies, before he did anything else, with the precious blood. No one was allowed to approach him. Everyone was shut out until this was completely done. And here in the record of the meeting with Mary we have the fulfillment of this type. Here Mary meets her great High Priest, just arisen from the tomb, but before He had entered the holy of holies with the reconciling blood. And so He says to her, "TOUCH ME NOT."

What a wonderful truth! The Bible is so clear when you accept it as it's written. Thank God for the precious redeeming literal blood of Christ Jesus!

Blood at the scene of a terrible accident, murder or some other form of violent crime is a sign of injury and death. But when blood is coursing through our veins, or even when it's given as a transfusion to a dying patient, it is a sign of life. However, it's the pale, pasty color of a face without blood that we take as a sign of death. Our society of this age seems drawn towards violence, death and blood. I've written about it in some of my other articles and it just seems to get worse with each passing day. It's starts very young too, grabbing the attention of our young children, conditioning them and numbing them to the beauty of LIFE. I've read a few years back that by the time an average child leaves elementary school, he or she will have witnessed 8,000 murders and over 100,000 other acts of violence. That's ASTOUNDING! By the time that child is 18 years-of-age; he or she will witness 200,000 acts of violence, including 40,000 murders. Television is relatively "new" as it relates to technology, but the violence and bloodletting isn't. In the Crusades, in the Inquisition, in the Holocaust, those interested in power and wealth at any cost have seen death as the final solution. They have bloodied the teachings of the Bible and twisted the direction of the church to accomplish their unholy purposes and to justify, even dare I say, glorify, the spilling of innocent blood.

One of the reasons that I support and continue to pray about the churches preaching the "Blood of Jesus" more often then they do, is because of the culture we do live in! It's full of the gory fascination with blood, violence and death. Since it's so blatantly common, and honest discussion of it is so rare, it's extremely easy to misread and/or misinterpret the Bible, with only looking at the blood of Jesus only as a symbol of His death, rather than as a symbol of His Life and Truth. For new believers, or for non-believers who are feeling the call of the Lord knocking at their heart's door, this can be a problem! And it's because of this reason that I am writing this post! The focus needs to be on LIFE not DEATH! One reason Jesus died was to overcome the power of hell. Jesus worked against evil spirits throughout His life, and His suffering was the final struggle against evil, and His resurrection the final victory over evil. For every person, overcoming evil involves temptation or struggle against evil, and “dying to sin and the world.” As we struggle against evil individually, Christ struggled against evil on a GRAND scale, and His death was the conclusion of that struggle. So the Bible says that God took on flesh and blood so that “through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.” (Hebrews 2:14,15) Still, in Romans 5:10, "For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." Another reason that Bible gives for Jesus’ death was that He might make His human nature completely one with His Divine nature, so that He were “to make in Himself of two one new man,” (Ephesians 2:14-16, cf. John 17:11,21; 10:30), so that He could “go to the Father” (John 13:3; 14:2,28; 16:10), or be “glorified” (John 17:1,5) or “enter into His glory” (Luke 24:26), that is, “be perfected” (Luke 13:32), or “sanctified” (John 17:19).

The blood of Christ is the ultimate proof of God's love. Romans 5:8-9, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. v9) Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him." He "loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood" (Revelation 1:5). In 1 Peter 1:17- 19, "And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; v18) knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, v19) but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." God proves His love by the price He was willing to pay for our salvation. In Acts 20:28, it tells us that the church was purchased by the blood of Christ! The grace of God is demonstrated by the blood of Christ. We are "justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith" (Romans 3:24,25). "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace" (Ephesians 1:7). The blood of Christ frees us from Satan and places us in the kingdom of God and allows us to stand in white before the throne of God.

Much more than anything, and the greatest of all, is SALVATION! Romans 5:9, " Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him." And in Ephesians 1:7, we read, "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace" With the Blood of Jesus, salvation is sure. It's a free gift of our Loving God! Our Lord Jesus Christ shed his blood for the salvation of our souls. What a price to pay! His blood gives us full access to GOD. Foolishly, people believe their own self righteousness can save them....their good deeds. They're so mistaken! Our own self righteousness can't save us. We are sinners. We NEED a Savior! And a Savior was given unto us! It's ONLY through His blood that we are saved. It saves is from sin and we should ALL want to be saved from sin because it saves us from eternal death. The blood justifies and saves us from condemnation. It rescues us when we're in trouble.

Romans 5:1, "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Justified is another powerful word used in the Bible to describe the forgiveness of our sins and the beautiful restoration of our relationship with God. If we take the word justified in this verse, and look it up, we are given the Greek word dikaioo, which means, "to render (to show or regard as) just or innocent: - free, justify (-ier), be righteous." When a person is justified, it makes them innocent, just as though they'd never sinned! That, my dear readers, is exceptionally great news for us! This is the very reason that we can live a new life in Christ, as a new creation, because when we've repented of our sins, we're made right with God and have the righteousness of God upon us! Romans 3:22, "Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe..." This is often referred to as part of the divine exchange. Christ was punished for our sins, so that we can receive forgiveness, He was given our shame so that we can receive His righteousness.

So, in conclusion, why is the blood of Jesus so precious? Through it, we have redemption, justification, reconciliation, sanctification, access to God, and daily forgiveness. Nothing else in this life has the power to do any of these things. Apart from the blood of Christ, you and I would be destined to an eternity separated from almighty God.

If you haven't accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, I encourage you to do so now! It's never too late and it will change your life forever! Your life will never be the same!

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Sunday, May 25, 2014

God's Favor and Divine Protection

Proverbs 3:33-35, “v33) The curse of the Lord is on the house of the wicked, But He blesses the home of the righteous. v34) Surely He scorns the scornful, But gives favor to the humble. v35) The wise shall inherit glory, But shame shall be the legacy of fools.”

Psalm 84:11, “v11) For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give favor and honor; No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly.”

Wow did the Lord teach me a beautiful lesson about the Promises of those Scriptures! This entry is going to be a little different than the rest of my posts just because this is a personal and relational experience that I want to share with every eye that is led to read this! The experience that I will share with everyone made me suddenly see MORE of the Hand of my Loving Lord God Almighty and tie together some loose ends that I'd been struggling with over the past few years. I recently wrote about the believers steps all being directed by God in my post titled, “For Such a Time as This.” It can be found at the following link for those of you who haven't read it yet or are first time visitors. It was an article that was meant for all of my readers, but in some divine appointed way, ended up being a prophetic writing to myself, for such a time as this! Although He was preparing me for something yet to come, He was giving me words and leading me through that entire article for each of you, as He always does when I write! How amazing God is when we allow Him to work in our lives!

It was around 11:15 pm on May 20th, 2014 when I was watching the evening news and to catch the weather report. It called for some strong thunderstorms in my area, early morning, but nothing that would alarm me in any way! Just another normal thunderstorm for this time of the year.....or so I thought. Shortly after they gave their forecast, I fell sound asleep on the couch! Not intentional, but it happens from time to time! A few hours later, around 1:30 in the morning on May 21st I suddenly awoke with this urge to pray for protection and safety for myself and my property, asking Him to find favor with His good and faithful servant, then asked the Lord to also protect the families in my neighborhood. The next thing I prayed for came as a strong prompting from the Holy Spirit, I prayed for the people to seek His face and call on Him! Why? Only the Lord knows the answer! I didn't think about it again and went back to sleep. Now for the sake of the experience, I must tell you, it is very RARE that I'm awakened to pray. The Lord speaks to me in many ways and for many reasons, but not usually waking me up to have me pray! I know many Christians who are called to do intercessory prayer, have heard some amazing stories, but that's not my calling. It's only happened a handful of times in my life!

Ok, so anyway, the timeline is now established. I fell back to sleep around 1:50 am and was in a DEEP restful sleep when around 4:25 am a loud lightning bolt CRASHED nearby and jolted me right out of my sleep! I flew off the couch, obviously confused as to what just happened. My heart was racing and when I finally gathered my wits about me, I realized it was lightning and we were having some HORRENDOUS weather out there! I flip on the news only to see a SEVERE line of storms right outside of my city and they were moving FAST and furious right in my direction! Within 15-20 minutes, I start to hear loud pops and flashes that WEREN'T lightning strikes and then the entire block lost power! Transformers all around the neighborhood blew! Electric poles fell over! And the winds were picking up at speeds I'd never witnessed before around here! At this point, I sensed it was going to be BAD! Rain started to fall. I sent a text around 5 am to a brother/friend in Christ in another state asking for prayers because he is warrior, a prayer warrior and God's warrior Soldier! I gathered my flashlights and found my cat hiding, which she NEVER does during storms, and I sat down for about 10 minutes in silence.......I received a response to my request for prayers and he said he'd been stirring and now he knew why! Then I heard cracking noises and a sudden whir!

Something flew against my home and shook it! It had already moved slightly from the powerful winds that weren't even at their fullest speed yet, I would find out in another few minutes! I immediately worried about my dead oak tree that was 12 feet from the side of the house where the couch is that I had been asleep on. I'm still unemployed and struggling (but blessed!) and cutting down a tree of that size is expensive so I choose to put the money towards my daily needs until I'm blessed with the job the Lord is preparing for me. So I prayed for that to stay standing and in one piece! Since I had no electric, I didn't have power to the tv. The wireless router that would give me internet was down and so were some of the cell phone towers so reception for internet was SCARCE at best. I didn't know if the area was under a tornado warning or what and I had no way of finding out! I finally was able to get a 4G signal BRIEFLY enough to see the radar path and it was rapidly approaching upon my neighborhood! I didn't have time to act, or think actually, and all of the sudden the wind whipped upwards of 80 MPH! The rains were so hard they were blowing sideways in the wind and quickly filling any crevice that would hold it! Debris, trash cans and roofing shingles were flying was pitch black, hail coming down in some areas, trees uprooting, limbs cracking off, a few fires ignited, and I could hear metal tumbling in the street which I would find out later, were someone's siding 8 houses down from my house on ANOTHER street! I didn't take cover. I didn't have any time because it happened so fast! Not to mention that I didn't even know what was going on! This part of the storm's end, which carried the heaviest damages, lasted about two minutes but it felt like hours!!!! Then it was eerily still as quickly as it sliced through our block. A quiet calm. All except for fire trucks, police sirens and anything that made a faint noise echoed through the stillness!

I want to say that this is going to be another of my long posts because I will finish up the storm part and then tie things all together so you, too, can see the Hand of God upon me giving me favor! I'm going to speak just a few moments about favor and obedience and then will continue with the rest of this wonderful testimony! Throughout the Bible, God repeatedly requests our obedience to Him. He doesn’t really put much stock into our good deeds (because they aren't His priorities) or the talents that we may possess professionally, socially or even our emotional intelligence. Those qualities are all good in and of themselves, and we are to utilize them for HIS glory, in HIS Kingdom, for His purpose, but they are not His focus for us! All God really wants from us is our obedience to Him, to His voice and to His purpose. He wants us to have a relationship with Him. He wants us to do what He asks us to do, say what He wants us to say, be who He wants us to be because acts of obedience prove our trust in Him! Obedience proves our love for Him. He wants us to totally, fully and unconditionally TRUST Him! Faith and Trust are the two things He admires most and it's those qualities that He most passionately responds to! They both stem from obedience. Our obedience to Him shows our love for Him. Are you aware that God desires to favor you with His blessings? Isaiah 30:18, “18 Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; Blessed are all those who wait for Him.” The word "gracious" used in the first part of that verse literally means “to show favor” according to the Hebrew dictionary. In Psalm 5:12 we find these words: “For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; With favor You will surround him as with a shield.” In this verse, you have the promise from God of His shield of FAVOR surrounding you. You can't “earn” His favor because it's a gift that comes freely to you when you're born-again and given the righteousness of Christ. (2 Cor. 5:21)

Let's take a look at Genesis 39:2-5, “The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. v3) And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand. v4) So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority. v5) So it was, from the time that he had made him overseer of his house and all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had in the house and in the field.” Take note of Joseph’s attitude in the midst of his difficult situation. An attitude we all should adopt through our own trials and difficult situations! That kind of attitude is easy for some while harder for others. The scripture clearly tells us that he pleased and served his boss. We must work in cooperation with God’s favor. If Joseph had been bitter, resentful, spiteful, complained about his circumstances and resisted his boss’ instructions because he was in slavery, God’s favor wouldn't have operated fully in his life, if at all. We really need to cooperate with the Spirit of God in every single situation that we face, no matter how uncomfortable, difficult, miserable or terrible WE think they are. Going through difficulties in our lives are simply life lessons! Failing and falling makes us rely on the Lord, trusting Him more, and having a stronger Faith! It helps us become more Christ-like in our walks the closer we become with the Lord Jesus Christ. The only way we learn is by successfully coming through those difficult times and situations. Glory be to God the Highest! If we maintain a clear conscience, walk in love, remain free from bitterness and show grace and favor toward others, we will be able to receive the free-flowing of God’s favor in our own lives.

In Luke 4:18-19 we find Jesus’ declaration about Himself: “v18) The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; v19) To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” Jesus declared that He was announcing the day when the free favors of God profusely abound. Jesus came to bring us into the right relationship with God through His death and resurrection. And then, once a person enters this love relationship with God, he or she can receive the free favors of God in this life on this earth. God’s favor is a powerful weapon in any of the circumstances that you may be facing right this very moment. But exactly how do you “make a claim” for God’s favor to operate in your life? Like any promise of God throughout His Word, you first must accept His word as true and as TRUTH.

Microburst Diagram
Now back to the storm raging throughout my block! I quickly found out that it was definitely NOT a tornado, but rather what they call a “Microburst.” What that is can easily be as damaging as a low grade tornado, and by the looks of my neighborhood, I agree! “A microburst is a downdraft (sinking air) in a thunderstorm that is less than 2.5 miles in scale. Some microbursts can pose a threat to life and property. Although microbursts are not as widely recognized as tornadoes, they can cause comparable, and in some cases, worse damage than some tornadoes produce.  In fact, wind speeds as high as 150 mph are possible in extreme microburstcases.”Taken from the website. And this description is taken from stating, “A microburst is a small column of exceptionally intense and localized sinking air that results in a violent outrush of air at the ground. It is capable of producing damaging straight-line winds of more than 100 mph that are similar to that in some tornadoes, but without the tornado's rotation. A microburst often has high winds that can knock over fully grown trees. The size of a microburst is typically less than 3 miles across, and its lifespan could range from a couple of
seconds to several minutes.They go through three stages in their life cycle: the downburst, outburst, and cushion stages. Microbursts may be accompanied by heavy precipitation or may occur in dry air, defining the two types of microbursts: wet microbursts and dry microbursts. Dry microbursts are produced by high-based thunderstorms that generate little surface rainfall. Often, they are found in the Midwest and West. Wet microbursts are similar, except that they bring significant precipitation with them; these tend to form in the Southeast.” My neighborhood experienced the wet microburst!

With that established, I am going to give you a little back story before I continue to share the rest of this story! I've really been going through some difficult times in the past few years. From a few bouts of unemployment which I'm currently going through now, both no fault of my own, to a pretty bad car accident which some of you may have read about in an earlier post. I'm always being tested, facing many, many difficulties and hurdles that not only strengthened my faith, but drew me closer to the Lord! And although there were times of great disappointments and trials, heartaches and loss, frustration and anguish, tribulations and pain, I managed to move forward with the strength I found in the Lord Jesus Christ! People let me down, but Jesus NEVER will! I kept a smile on my face, joy in my heart and a lot of laughter in my soul! I got down from time to time because everything, and I do mean, EVERYTHING all kept happening and wouldn't let up! And is STILL happening! But through the Lord, He sustained me, and still IS, made me stronger and gave me more and more testimony to share with others! All the while, He was teaching me many valuable lessons! My nickname was given to me...JOB! He went through trial after trial, loss after loss, but stayed faithful to God the entire time! Nothing Satan did to him could turn him away from God! And for his faithfulness and obedience, he was blessed with way more than what had been taken from him!

During these times, including right this moment, I've felt isolated, I've felt like I'd been abandoned and all alone. I've experienced rejection. I've experienced doubt, although fleeting. However, I've NEVER felt lonely because I always have Jesus by my side! There is a big difference between the two! I learned along my walk that it is much better to be without friends for a short time until the Lord brings the right ones into your life, than to be around the wrong ones just for the sake of having friends. I see this all too often when people are so afraid of being alone that they will cling to any friend just to have one. Oftentimes, they not only are the wrong ones, but they're worldly. A dangerous path to travel down is a path traveled with a worldly friend. ESPECIALLY if you're easily influenced! Or if you're a person who doesn't like to say no. Those friends lead you down a worldly path eventually because their influence isn't a Godly influence. Their advice isn't Godly advice. Their behaviors aren't Christ-like behaviors. At different times in my life, I've been without friends and it was during those times when I heard the voice of the Lord while also learning and growing in my faith and my relationship with the Lord. Then, in His faithfulness of His promises, He would bring someone else into my life.

Looking back upon my life, that seemed to be the typical cycle. I have plenty of acquaintances but there's also a difference between a friend and an acquaintance. I'm not afraid to be alone because I'm not afraid of being with myself! That's one of the biggest reasons people don't want to be alone.....they have to face themselves. Their thoughts are amplified and there's no diversion so they eventually have to deal with them OR they jump into relationships for the diversion. Some people would rather stick their noses into the lives of others rather than focus on their own torment and be delivered from their own demons. When you see people always in the presence of someone, always searching for an activity that results in being around someone, whether it be a relationship, a friendship or in a crowd, it's highly likely they are people who, not only are emotionally needy, but are also very much afraid of being alone. Over the course of my own life lessons, I've learned that being alone with my thoughts and the Lord have always been very cathartic for me in my personal life as well as my spiritual life. Don't get me wrong, God didn't design us to spend our lives totally that I mean, friendships and co-workers and all the other relationships that we have to encourage us and vice-versa. But sometimes.....

Many of my MAJOR trials have been no fault of my own while some of the other smaller trials have been because of a bad choice, jumping ahead of the Lord or not waiting long enough to hear His voice CLEARLY. The major trials are the ones that were the most significant in my life though! Even though they were, and some still ARE, the most difficult and trying times, God has guided my path, directed my steps and provided many blessings along the way. I never LOST anything! I came close. I worried a time or ten. But I kept remembering all of His promises! I clung to them so tightly that my knuckles hurt! My needs were always provided for and those needs were financial, spiritual and physical. He appointed people to be in my life during these times to help me financially with some bills, spiritually to encourage me and help me see how I was being led, and for emotional support when I was seriously at my wits end! He provided specific people to cross my path that would help me with, what would have normally been, expensive home repairs that were desperately needed. They'd been left unattended because of the many trials and hardships I began to have in my life. The closer I got to the Lord, the more intense the attacks of the enemy became! After awhile, those were issues that overwhelmed me because one at a time, I could choose not to look at it until I'd get back on my feet! But one repair led to two, and then before I knew it, well, I fell to my knees pleading with the Lord to help me!

Those specific men have remained within my reach for a year now and I can only say that finding them the way it happened, was a divine appointment through the hand of the Lord! They finally told me the story of how they came to be my helpers the day before the storm hit (which is part of the storm story) and we all laughed. They know my financial situation with being unemployed and they've blessed me in ways I will ONLY attribute to the Lord God Almighty's Divine Appointment! Of course, their expertise in their field of work as well! There was a stretch of time where my financial needs were too great of a strain in order to sustain myself while awaiting unemployment to go through the backed up system and through blessings given to me in favor, those were met with help from specific dear friends that I will never be able to thank enough! And a few other financial blessings along the way to meet my needs in between.

I'm going to list some of the things I've had to contend with, mainly alone without much support of anyone, (by that, I mean emotional support, not financial) just to give you a glimpse into my life, while at the same time to give you hope in knowing that ALL of God's promises are ours to hold onto through our obedience, faith and trust in our Savior! Then I will finish my story....the back story is important to know what I've been going through so you can see the steps that had been directed, to see the guidance that was leading me right where I needed to be, in front of who I needed to cross and how FAVOR played a HUGE role in this storm!!! Let's start with the list:

1) After just starting a new job, and after almost losing my home, and transmission in car went out. Car wasn't in good shape enough to put a new one in.
2) Bought a used car, through two gracious people, one being my dad, also put in my life for a specific season, and THAT transmission goes out a month after.
3) I stood firm in my faith in new job, began getting persecuted for it and the enemy attacked me heavily the entire time I was working there....
4) Gutter overflowing on a drop ranch so much it rotted out the soffits under the overhang, which lead to a HUGE leak in my ceiling WHILE unemployed from the job mentioned above.
5) Light fixture shorted, and lightswitch, no light in that room for nearly two years kept breaker off to that room.
6) Ended one friendship, while two others fizzled on their own.
7) Had two bad infections in my back teeth
8) Injured toe, eventually nail got ingrown and severely infected, removed half of the nail
9) Refrigerator door alignment off.
10) Toilet Seal eroded and leaked water in basement. Shut that valve off and prayed. Used other toilet.
11) Foundation wall crack got a little worse and began leaking water into garage (built in)
12) Deck is old and became extremely unsafe. It's located in the back part of the drop ranch so it's 8 feet off the ground! Railings, spindles and the support beams all needed replaced.
13) Wind damage knocked off a limb and knocked off the corner of my gutter, damaging some of roofing shingles. (Thankfully those only needed resealed and nailed!)
14) Riding Mower broke down. Too old to find parts to fix. Had to begin paying someone to mow. They suddenly never showed back up after two years of beautiful work. This summer found a Christian owned business and they're doing that
15) My heat pump on my central heat/air unit burned a wire into two pieces
16) Thermostat broke in the middle of the coldest month, also while I was awaiting unemployment to get through the system!
17) THEN the plumbing line totally clogged up that ended up having to be cut, cleaned, power flushed and put a piece to make future pipe cleaning easier. Couldn't use kitchen sink for over 6 months because my unemployment was next to nothing at that time and I had no resources. (Last May is when God placed those two aforementioned helpers in my path specifically for this job) Unbeknownst to me at the time, how valuable they'd become in my very near future!
18) Lost the job mentioned above, started a government time limited interim position 10 months later
19) 3 months after starting that job, I was in a bad car accident, totaled my car, knocked me unconscious, blood on my brain, neck injury that has changed some parts of the way of life that I live because I can't do some of the things I used to do. Suggests surgery, but it's too risky. I've prayed for protection and I just had to accept the fact that I need to be careful until, or IF, the Lord directs me to surgery. And dealing with other injuries sustained.
20) Had to find a vehicle while I was trying to work, trying to heal, trying to keep my sanity. God leads me to a private owner at the last moment, who "understood" and I got another vehicle
21) Job contract ended, completed successfully, unemployed since. That's the time the roof began leaking, gutters damaged, etc....
22) Car breaks down three times....God leads me to a new mechanic, a Christian, and fixes the two problems for next to nothing. Three other companies were talking big bucks and to fix something that wasn't needed.

And SO much more in between! You can only imagine how traumatic the accident was on top of all of the physical sufferings sustained in the accident and not having family near, just starting a job, trying to recover while also trying to support myself, forcing myself to work as much as I could in order TO support myself, and still having to deal with all the rest of the "stuff" that just seemed to keep being thrown at me. It was seriously overwhelming! Thank the good Lord for the sense of humor He gave me for my coping mechanism!

Now back to the storm! When the eerie stillness happened and everything just stopped, I gathered myself and my flashlight and went outside. There were still a few stray lightning strikes and thunder rolls but I had to see what I could see for myself. Strangely enough, I could only see one other person outside down the street doing the same thing as myself. The first thing I see is my pine tree laying within inches of my home and front room window!! Literally! It had been uprooted so I assessed it to make sure there wasn't any damage then walked around the roots to the tree that was DEAD! There was ONE big limb that fell and it WASN'T from the dead tree! How truly AMAZING this was for me to witness! I never gave a thought to the pine tree, but my 60-70 foot dead oak tree I did! I began thanking the Lord for protecting my home from that tree, and any other tree that was in the direct path of my house, and that's when it hit me about me being awakened to pray!!! Now I knew why the Holy Spirit stirred me awake in anticipation for the storm! Thank God I heeded His prompting! I then realized the slamming against my house was the pine tree. It must have hit the corner THEN landed within inches of the front room window!

I surveyed the rest of my yard and saw these metal siding strips, black roofing shingles and the underlay, along with Styrofoam (not sure what that was from but there was alot of it!) strewn all over my yard and my two neighbors yards. Since the power was still out and it was still pitch black outside, I couldn't tell where they came from or even if part of the roofing shingles were mine! I got a little concerned BUT my prayers were remembered and I praised the Lord AGAIN! I had peace. A peace that I can't explain but powerfully present nonetheless! I glanced across the street and noticed something out of sorts. I shined the light towards the house and saw their tree laying on top of their home, ruining their roof and structure! Later, when the sun came up and there was daylight, it also damaged the back of their home as well! This was a very LARGE tree! Fully mature and NOT dead! I shined my light down the street and it didn't look too good through the little light that I had. I had debris, leaves, broken branches and some smaller limbs down in addition to the big limb and the pine tree uprooted. I found someone's garbage lid as well. I went inside and prayed about the destruction to the area homes, for the things I couldn't see and for the people that would be affected by this terrible event. I prayed for my own peace for when the daylight came that I wouldn't see any major damage to my roof and that my food wouldn't be a total loss in my freezer. I knew the power outage was going to be a little longer than I'd first thought. And then I curled up with my cat, flashlight, cell phone and waited......

Within an hour, the sirens were everywhere! Red Cross vehicles were scouring the neighborhood assessing needs and damages. Within another hour, the sun began to rise on, what looked like, a war zone. It was heart wrenching! I felt a heavy heart over what I was seeing all around me! And for just a moment, as I looked around, it appeared that I was in a bubble! My street and two other streets off of mine, almost making a triangle, got hit hard! From my home and the neighbors directly across from me, all the way down the street to the left of us have trees. Then to the right of me and the neighbor directly across the street are pretty much in the clear. A few homes here and there are surrounded with them, but my side of the street down is the most heavily populated with trees. I tell you this because it looked like a war zone! Trees were uprooted, some were cracked in half, huge limbs everywhere, debris from everyone's roofs, yards and homes were everywhere! I was the only one on my side that didn't have a downed tree! Almost every person just on my side of the street alone, had some kind of damage. Roofs were torn off, decks were damaged, cars were damaged from hail and flying debris, garages destroyed, corners of roofs clipped and so much more. One house, about 4 houses down, looked like the entire back side had been ripped off because you could see right through it! My heart sank for what I was seeing and for what they must be experiencing! By now, others were coming outside. they were looking at the same mess I was looking at only most of those people were looking at their own damages.

Police cruisers were driving through the neighborhood making sure everyone was safe and if there were any needs. It was almost surreal to me! I walked out onto my deck and yet ANOTHER revelation came to me and I fell to my knees and praised and thanked the Lord AGAIN! The day before, those two wonderful helpers that had been directed to me, came and redid my raised deck support beams, railings and spindles. The flooring was good. This is mentioned above in my list of SOME of the trials I've endured. They were going to wait until after the rains, but for whatever reason they said, they decided to come that day! Well, after this storm, I KNEW why that "for whatever reason" meant! God appointed them to do the deck to make it sturdy enough to withstand the winds that were going to whip through in the next 14 hours!!!! He came by the day after the storm just to see if he would be able to remove the pine tree for me, and we went in the back to discuss a few things about the spouting, and we talked about the deck. I told him what I felt was the reason they were prompted to come the day before the storm was because of the damage it could have caused. He agreed!

The back of my home is on a hill so all the wind that comes from that direction is much stronger anyway, let alone something like this! God KNEW all of this in advance of it happening! Had my plumbing not been a problem for me, I'd have never met these two. They not only fixed my plumbing problem that took all day, they would eventually fix the majority of the other problems that needed attended to and while doing so, was honest about what I needed and didn't need! I asked him one time about something and they both said don't fix something that isn't broken. Well, I've said that all my life BUT I'm not the expert in home repairs so I question everything! God truly blessed me with these two! Each disaster I had in the house, and all of it happening at once with the majority while unemployed, they were there by divine appointment! In no way, in any other circumstance, would I have been able to afford someone else!

All the tree companies were beginning to show up and were lining the neighborhood streets! I was outside doing some clean-up of the things I was physically able to because of my neck injury that I've had to baby! My next door neighbor came out and was telling me what damage they received from a neighbors tree on the other side of them AND they had one of THEIR trees go down! She looked at my dead tree and looked down my tree line (which I have approximately 15-17 trees lining one side of the house) and she asked about my damage. I almost felt bad but I said I didn't have any, other than the pine tree being down. She was a little confused and looked at the tree again and said how "lucky" I was not to be "touched" by this because everyone else "appeared to be." Made another comment about being amazed that the dead tree survived THIS microburst! First of all, I do NOT believe in luck! As a born again Christian, luck is not part of my vocabulary! God blessed me and gave me FAVOR, just as I asked! I told her very politely that luck had nothing to do with it, but God had EVERYTHING to do with this protection! My clean-up was limited so I went inside to rest, to praise the Lord and to let this all sink in. Almost everyone to the left of my home was touched in some way by this devastating microburst! I wasn't able to get out of my garage because the electric was off and my neck can't handle the struggle of manually doing it but I knew as soon as the power came on, I was going to take a drive just around the immediate block to see the rest of the area.....

And the power came on! It had been off nearly 7 hours at this time, but would go off two more times before the day was over. The tree cutters and other services were across the street cutting away that huge mature tree that fell on the roof. I peeked down the street further and saw most of the street was full of these boom trucks! I looked out back off of my deck to the street directly behind me and saw one but heard more. Across the street, the local news station crews were out filming the damages sustained at the house with the huge mature tree that fell on their home! I got washed up, grabbed my camera and went to take a drive! EVERYTHING up to this point already had been thanked for, prayed for and praised! I drove the opposite direction to the street behind me, about 500 feet if that, because the other direction to the left was blocked with vehicles, and suddenly it was a reality! Everything became more real than what I knew already! Tears came to my eyes. My heart became heavier the further I'd inch through the mess left behind. I saw a woman sitting by a little tree in her front yard with approximately 6 coolers and her home was literally destroyed! I could see all the way through it. Her roof was gone, her garage was caved in and part of her backside was blown off, or knocked off by trees. I could only imagine the anguish she was feeling. I began to talk to the Lord while I was driving through just three streets. That's all that was needed to see the devastation that happened all AROUND me. House upon house had damage, some worse than others. Some structural, some just downed trees, some vehicles. It was really heartbreaking! I never took out my camera because I couldn't! I didn't feel right taking pictures of someone else's pain! Not those kind of pictures! If I worked for a news crew, then yes, it's my job. But I don't. And it almost seemed too awful that even I couldn't believe I thought to bring my camera in the first place! Although, photography is my hobby! I drove just another 30 feet and the only thing I could think of was the prayers that I said when I was prompted awake.....let others seek your face!! I pray that they do!!!

This didn't seem real to me even though I was visually SEEING it! By the time I returned home, I stood outside for a moment and once again, out loud, thanked the good Lord for His favor, for His protection and for His divine intervention! It was like everything flashed before me.....from my accident being allowed to happen, to having a severe clogging problem with my plumbing in order to cross paths with the two that would end up being a huge blessing to me! This is where I want to share the little short story of how they came to be.....I was leaving church one morning and someone came up to me and said that I'd been laid on their hearts and wanted to know how I was and if I'd found work yet. Mind you, this was someone that I RARELY see, let alone speak to! So I gave him a little run down and told him about my plumbing. He asked me how long it had been that way and when I told him, he kind of got this look on his face of determination and told me he'd see what he could do to find someone for me. Before I quickly finish this, I must tell you at this point, I've heard that line before....."let me see who I know....or who I can find...or what I can do." And never hear back from anyone! That's part of the disappointments that I experienced. So to me, what was going to be any different with this one......And THEN.....

The next morning I receive a call from him, giving me the number to these two. Told me to call them and they'd come out and check it out. I got off the phone and cried. I had one estimate before and asked if I could make payments because of my situation. NO payments were allowed and the cost was ridiculous. I lived with it and made do with what I had up to that point. So they come, they assess, they tell me they could do it for the money the other guy from church proposed (which at the time, I had no idea it was even on the table for the church to help with this) and scheduled a time to come back. Before they left, we talked about my hardships, my trials and how I'm honest, I just need a little help. They obviously felt my integrity because payments weren't an issue with them! Now THAT part is what I already knew because I took part in the odd initiation of it, when the Lord prompted the church member to approach me. A year later, on the day they did my deck before the microburst, is when I found the rest of the story out! I went outside and asked them exactly HOW were they found and how did they come to know the church member! They immediately began to laugh!

Before I continue, let me say first that TYPICALLY people get referrals, or know the work of the contractors. And especially someone like the church member!!! Ok, so here's the way the Hand of God worked this whole thing out for me! They said they'd began a job a few streets down from the member's house, and wasn't supposed to start it for a few more days but the weather held up so they went out that day. The church member drives by, backs up, and asked them if they did plumbing work. They said yes. The church member said, and I'm going to quote what they said, "Well, there's a nice lady at our church, who's having a really rough time, a special one, and could you help us help her, for x amount of money?" Just like that! He had no idea what kind of work they did, WHO they were, if it was guaranteed, if they were locals. NOTHING! So, they tell me after the church member left, they kind of laughed because they had no clue who this guy was and that they never got approached that way before. They said he was a very nice man, (which he is) and that there was just "something" in the way he spoke about me that they said ok. And been helping ever since. Not only did the Lord direct the steps of the church member but also allowing all the "rejection" and disappointments to happen. Without those moments of rejection and disappointments, I'd have never learned what it really meant to NEED something so badly, but having to WAIT for HIS timing, for HIS direction and for HIS guided steps! I've always been a patient person, something the Lord has blessed me with, but this kind was something new! He showed me just how many people He did use in order to bless me, to give me favor and to help protect me! Literally through the storms!

And what was sacrificed, was restored even better! People asked how I could live without my toilet working. I have two. They'd ask how I could go without using my kitchen sink.....I used the bathroom sink, paper plates and plastic forks/spoons. They would ask how I was able to make it with little money, I'd tell them the promises of the Lord to provide daily for my needs. They would ask how I haven't broken down or turned from God because of all the trials and hardships. I'd tell them because I have joy in my heart, Faith in the Lord and trust Him implicitly and whatever hardships I've endured, and are currently enduring, it's all for the glory of God! It's for His purpose, in His time, for His Kingdom. It doesn't even begin to compare to the sacrifice of God's only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, dying on the cross for our sin debt to be paid in full! I've broken down in tears a time or ten, but that's to be expected. I have emotions and sometimes they come flooding out. But I never once lost hope. I never once got mad at God and turned from Him!! As a matter of fact, I turned TOWARDS Him even more! He was the only one sustaining my spirit, my life and my emotional well being! This whole experience of the microburts, the tremendous loss in this neighborhood, and the bubble of protection and favor that was laid upon me, has forced me to look over everything in the past few years to see how the Hand of God was all through it! Never once letting me fall. Never once letting me go without. I may have had to strip down to the bare essentials, but I'm not a material person anyway. It humbled me and made me appreciate things, blessings and life MUCH more! It makes it harder for me to question "Why me, Lord?" Why NOT me? Whatever the Lord is doing in my life only He knows! As witnessed through looking back on everything He's done FOR me! Proverbs 3:5-10, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; v6) In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. v7) Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil. v8) It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones. v9) Honor the Lord with your possessions, And with the firstfruits of all your increase; v10) So your barns will be filled with plenty, And your vats will overflow with new wine."     

The clean-up will continue for days. The rebuilding will continue for days. The broken spirits will take time to mend. I'm sure many people are asking the proverbial, "WHY?" right now because honestly, something this devastating is uncomprehending. Yesterday I was sitting on my deck, trying to heal my neck from the clean-up I had to do, and I heard an angelic voice coming from the home directly behind me. Also protected from this storm! Obviously a child of God! She was singing praises to the Lord! Oh what a beautiful moment that was to hear another sister in Christ singing praises through what was His favor upon their dwelling as well! My heart sang and rejoiced with her. My heart knew there were going to be many hurdles to jump for some of these people who, for some, lost everything. But I also knew my prayers were going to be answered. A seed would be planted in someone to look up and seek His face! For Jesus will give them peace......The bubble of protection and the Favor upon me is still being praised for even as I'm writing this to my readers! I may not like what I had to go through, but what I had to go through was, and IS, for His glory and purpose! I'm OK with that! This lesson of His favor given to me was a lesson that I needed to learn! He knew the right time for me to receive it and recognize it for exactly what it IS! His plans are much greater than mine and when I try to do something on my own, I mess it up. So, the strength, the freedom, my growing relationship with Jesus, the favor, the respect for life and all the other lessons that I've learned is all worth every moment of sacrifice! Psalm 34:19 reads and says it best....."Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers him out of them all." AMEN!

I pray that this very personal experience that I'm sharing with you, will touch someone who has been led to read this in it's entirety! I pray for the Father to speak to you to let you know you too, can receive His favor so that you may share in testimonials for the lost and unsaved! If you haven't come to the point to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, I urge you to do so! The Lord will knock, but you need to answer! Please receive Him because no matter what you've done, thought, acted like, or said, He accepts you just as you are! Come to Him and He will change you forever! The Light that will reside inside of you is so much greater and more powerful than the darkness in the world!

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