God

Hi, My Name is Amber, and I’m a Recovering Sinner.

I know this may seem strange for some people, but there are times were I find myself addicted to my past. Unable to let go of the sins that God has already forgiven me for; running back to my vomit, and I don’t know why I expect anything to feel different than the last time. Has anyone else felt this way? Like no matter how deeply I know I’m forgiven, I keep looking back to that time and reliving the hurt? God gave me a word about that and I thought I’d share it here with you this morning.

For me, I’m going to have to look at myself like I’m in a recovery program. Almost like a rehab for Christians who have a hard time letting go of the past. So I’m going to slightly adapt the Twelve Step Program to work for the Recovering Sinner: Sinner’s Anonymous.

1. We admit we were powerless over sin—that our lives had become unmanageable.

I will admit that only God has the power over sin, and that my life is a mess when I try to do His job…

2. Come to believe that God can restore us to sanity.

I will to stop doubting that God can and will do a miracle in my life.

3. Make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God.

I chose to turn over all of my past, good and bad, to God. Trusting Him with my life and my well being.

4. Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

I will take stock of all the junk I keep picking back up and hold it up to His revealing light.

5. Admit to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

I will finally confess that I have a hard time forgiving myself of my past and I will find someone I can call on to help me to remember that I’m a forgiven child of God.

6. Be entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

I will be open and cooperate with God as He heals my heart.

7. Humbly ask Him to remove our shortcomings.

I will acknowledge that I am flesh and ask God to remove the thing that is in me that causes me to doubt His forgiveness.

8. Make a list of all persons we have harmed, and become willing to make amends to them all.

I will make a list of all the people my repeated doubt has hurt and apologize, as well as try to make things right.

9. Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

I will be aware of anytime my doubt hurts someone and immediately apologize and try to make things right.

10. Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.

I will continue to be aware of my feelings and doubts, asking God to forgive me as soon as I do.

11. Seek through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understand Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

I will continually seek God’s will for my life and the power to carry out His will through prayer and meditation on His Word.

12. Have had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to sinners, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

I will grow closer to God and Jesus through this process and reach others with His message of hope for the lost, and I will continue to practice these steps throughout my walk.

I have to believe that I’m not the only one who feels this way, so if you’re struggling with this too, know that you’re not alone. Reach out and quit trying to do this by yourself. That’s what the kingdom is all about, a support system. Lean on other strong Christians so you can grow strong enough to be leaned on one day…
x,
Amber

“Becoming The Best Me For Christ!” by A. Miller

On my journey through discovering God’s plan for my career, I’ve always maintained that His Will is perfect and no matter what I think or want, I will follow His direction.  When I started down the road to my future career, my end goal was simple.  Make a better life for my family and to take care of my Grandmother when the time came for in-home care.  That lead me to getting my Patient Care Technician certificate last spring.  The thought of going back to school put me way out of my comfort zone, and when I learned that there would be rotations in the Emergency Department… well lets just say God and I had quite a lot of conversations about guidance and faith.  But as usual, God knew what He was doing, and I was hooked on Emergency Medicine ever since.  I have since gotten my Emergency Medical Technician certificate for both the state of Ohio and my national registry card.  I volunteer for my local fire department and will be getting my volunteer fire card later this fall.

With all that said, I knew from my talks with God that my scholarly journey wasn’t over.  So, once again, I headed out of my comfort zone and into the collegiate lifestyle.  I didn’t know at first which path to choose, whether it be getting my Nursing degree or something along those lines, but through it all I knew from past experiences that God wouldn’t lead me astray.

I began my university life at a popular online college, even going as far as taking my basic courses.  But something kept nagging at me, a feeling that this wasn’t where God wanted me to be.  So I began talking with the school about switching my major and the process stalled.  That’s when God’s mighty hand moved in a undeniable way.  I got a call from Ohio Christian University, my first pick but at the time I never heard back from them.  The adviser said that all of my paperwork was in order and I could start within the month if I was still interested.  Of course I was, because now there was a program available that wasn’t before: a BA in Healthcare IT.  This degree would combine my two skills, computers and taking care of people.

Praise God for His faithfulness and His wondrous plans for my life!  I look forward to all the things He has planned for my future!

Matthew 18:20

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

Alone on an Island of Loneliness

“For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in.”  Psalm 27:10

 

It’s a feeling that every human will experience from time to time.  Loneliness.  The feeling that you have no one and can turn to no one and that no one notices how lonely you truly are.  I’m there now.  My head knows I’m not alone; I live with my husband, our three children and a house full of animals.  I belong to a church where the people love me unconditionaly and whole-heartedly.  I just spent the whole holiday weekend with upwards of 150 people; worshipping, testifying, sharing, praying with each other.  And yet I still feel alone and abandoned.  My heart just can’t seem to connect with my head and get on the same page.  

I find myself knowing the answer in my head; I’m not alone, God is always there.  Maybe my feelings of loneliness are God tugging at my heart, telling me He wants more time from me.  God approached Adam in the Garden of Eden and said, ‘It is not good for man to be alone,’ not because Adam was lonely, but because he was making a statement about himself. He was saying, ‘It is not good for man to be alone, because one man cannot glorify me by himself.’ God creates an entire race of people to glorify him. . . . The panoply of gifts is essential if the church is to function as God intended. Image bearers are not lone rangers, and we see the great scriptural truth that God has not given us people to complete us, but to complement us as we seek to glorify him together in community.

So how do I connect my head back to my heart and feel connected with my world again?  That’s the million dollar question.  Let me know when you find the answer!  Maybe taking it to God and offering it to him as a gift in worship?  Saying, ‘I’ve tried everything to fix it, and I can’t. I’ve tried filling it with the world. I’ve tried filling it with people. I’ve tried seeking you. I don’t know what to do with it. So I’m just going to offer it up to you. Can you take this ugly thing and make it something beautiful?’ 

Elizabeth Elliot said

“Loneliness is a wilderness, but through receiving it as a gift, accepting it from the hand of God and offering it back to him with thanksgiving, it may become a pathway to holiness, to glory and to God himself.”  

Loneliness, at its root, is a spiritual issue. We don’t need to merely hang out with more friends. We don’t need to merely learn how to speak love languages. We need help. We need a savior. We need an advocate whose name is Christ Jesus. And our heart cry should not merely be, ‘I do bad things because I’m lonely, so someone come keep me company, make me feel better.’ Our deep heart cry should be, ‘I’m lonely because I’m a sinner in a dark and fallen world. God help me.’

We can say with Romans 8:28, that God uses all things for the good of those who love him, even our loneliness. Because our loneliness leads us to our deepest spiritual need, who is Christ. And we can also say with 1 John 3:20, that even when we feel condemned, God is greater than our hearts, and that loneliness cannot separate us from the love of God. We have a solution to our spiritual problem, and if we will submit to the Lord and accept his solution for our deepest spiritual problem, the atoning work of Christ on the cross, God can attack loneliness at its root and overcome the pain of separation in our lives that leads to separation from him, which leads to separation from other people.

Bottom line:  Feeling lonely?  Plug into God and He’ll plug you into where you need to be.  

xoxo,

A

“Unloved” by Elisabeth K. Corcoran

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Ok, here goes. This is what I realized this morning: No man has ever pursued me. Which means that no man has ever truly known me. Which means that no man has ever truly loved me. Dang.

My marriage is ending and as I walk this road these unwanted thoughts keep running up to me.  Just last night I looked in the mirror and didn’t like what I saw. It occurred to me that there is no one who cares what I look like. Now, don’t email me. I know I’m not supposed to care about my appearance and that God looks at the heart, et cetera, et cetera. I get all that. But I’m a girl. I care. It’s just that now I’m the only one who does.

I still can’t believe I’m the girl who uses words like “my marriage is ending”.  Maybe that’s good that it still gets to me, that it still stings. I never expected to be here, but here I am, and right here with me is this realization that I’ve been married and I have children but I’ve never really been loved by a man.

(Remind again me why I write stuff like this? I write stuff like this because I know I’m not the only woman who has ever felt this way. And I know I’m not the only woman who feels this way right now. One of you reading this feels this same exact way, I’m just sure of it. And I don’t want you to feel alone.)

So what do we do with this?

Well, I start by acknowledging that it is my truth today. It’s a longing, it’s a deficit, and realistically, it just may remain unfulfilled for the long haul, married or not. On days when I’m not a total train wreck, I take it to Jesus instead of ten million other substitute devices that fill for a second and then drain me right back out again. This morning, I did take it to Jesus.

Here’s what I said to him… When will I learn to come to you, I mean really come to you? I am asking you, again, Jesus Christ, to fill my emptiness, to heal me and make me whole, again and again, to teach me to fully rely on you alone. I want to know you as my husband, my best friend, my one true love. Please do this in my heart and life. Please fix me and fill me.

I have asked Him for this before. I will ask Him for all this again. Maybe it will happen in the next week or so. Maybe it will happen in five minutes. It will probably continue for the rest of my life.

Do I think God not answering me? Or do I think I just keep banging my head against a wall? God already promises that He’s in me, that I have everything I need, that I am precious to Him.  He pursued me before I knew Him. He’s especially close to those of us who are heart-broken.  God is my peace and my joy. My Maker is my husband. God has answered once and for all, and He does answer again and again.

I know all of these things and I believe all of these things and I have experienced all of these things. But I’m human, I’m frail, I’m just a little girl (as a friend refers to herself during her vulnerable moments, even though she’s in her fifties). And I forget. I forget every single day what I’ve learned the day before.

Remembering God’s love

And, let’s face it…this realization, this knowledge that a man has never really loved me is a pretty big and painful thing to sit with and carry, a heavy thing to know about myself. How did I get to be forty-one without being loved? So, yes, it’s going to hurt and sting and make me walk slower on the days when it hits me again as if for the first time.

Do you struggle to feel loved completely, just for you who you are?

  • You can ask the Spirit to let truth sink into you…truth like “you are precious and honored in my sight and I love you,” the Lord says in Isaiah 43.
  • You can remind yourself that his grace is enough and it’s all you need according to II Corinthians 12.
  • You can remind yourself that your maker is your husband according to Isaiah 54.
  • You can remind yourself that Jesus is always with you as he tells us in Matthew 28.

I’m not going to run from this pain. There’s no point in running…it’ll be here when I come back anyway. This is just part of my story. It’s what makes me love my friends better and deeper. It’s what makes me pray for my children harder. It’s the thing that compels me again and again back to Jesus, who knows and sees and understands and heals, and when I’m open, fills me.  This is journey of divorce is an unfamiliar and unwanted road, but I know that Jesus walks it with me and He will always be there to remind me, every time I forget.

“A Real, Honest Confession” by A. Miller

As I’m waiting in my car for a break in the rain so I can sprint into the school, I find myself reflecting on my crazy life and the current trials The Lord has seen fit to bless me with. I know they are for my benefit, to strengthen me. Now here comes the real, honest part; I am beginning to get a little tired of it. And I know I’m not alone in this. If Christians would stop worrying about how they look to other Christians and tell God the truth about how their feeling, they’d tell you the same thing!
Sometimes it’s okay to tell your Father that you’re tired. That you’d appreciate a brief break from all the drama, fighting and craziness of life as a Christian warrior and just enjoy being a child of the King once in a while!

Now before you think, “Oh my, she’s gone off the deep end and is doubting Gods power/will for her life!” Just stop. I haven’t, I’m just expressing my emotions about things that we all feel. I love my Father and trust He’s in control, I’m just opening a line of communication about the truth that life is hard and bottling up how you feel about your testing/trials only hurts you. God’s a big guy, He can handle your venting!

xoxo

“Infection Control and Standard Precautions within the Church” by A. Miller

While going through any medical course, you’ll have Standard Precautions drilled into you; “Good hand hygiene is the best defense against the spread of infection…”  This got me thinking, could this translate into the spiritual realm as well?

  •      What are some Standard Precautions:

The technical definition states: “Standard Precautions are guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for reducing the risk of transmission of blood-borne and other pathogens in hospitals. The standard precautions synthesize the major features of universal precautions (designed to reduce the risk of transmission of bloodborne pathogens) and body substance isolation (designed to reduce the risk of pathogens from moist body substances) and apply them to all patients receiving care in hospitals regardless of their diagnosis or presumed infection status. Standard precautions apply to (1) blood; (2) all body fluids, secretions, and excretions except sweat, regardless of whether or not they contain blood; (3) nonintact skin; and (4) mucous membranes. The precautions are designed to reduce the risk of transmission of microorganisms from both recognized and unrecognized sources of infection in hospitals.”  FreeDictionary.com.  To do this, we in the medical field use PPE, or Personal Protective Equipment, (ie: gloves, gowns, mask, foot protection, eye protection…)  These, along with obsessively washing your hands, should for the most part stop the spread of infection.

A healthcare provider is taught to treat every person as if they have some type of infectious disease.  But we can’t forget that those people are humans, and need to be treated with love and compassion.  The same needs to be said for the spiritually ‘infected’ as well.  When someone has a deadly infection, they will still need help/prayer/encouragement.  But there are extra precautions taken to ensure the infection doesn’t spread.

  • What are some SP we can use to prevent the spread of harmful infections within the Church?

A healthy prayer life, in my opinion, is the number one way to defend against the spread of infection in your spirit.  Becoming obsessive about your relationship with God, talking to Him and listening to Him will give you an advantage to any invasion attempt by the enemy.  When you’re hands aren’t clean, you know it.  You can feel it, see it and others can as well.  The same goes for your prayer life.  If it’s not up to par, you feel it, see the evidence of it, and others can see it too, even non-believers.

     Philippians 4:6 says “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

While practicing SP, the nurse/physician isn’t focused on whether or not the patient has some terrible disease that could possibly kill them.  While that is in their mind, their focus is on treating the patient and helping them.  They know they have used their PPE and SP, their not anxious about anything.  They’re covered.  We need to be that way about our own lives and when handling those around us who may be battling demons that could do us harm if we try to help.  By covering ourselves in prayer and reading God’s Word, we’ve protected ourselves from anything the enemy might throw at us because “greater is He…”.

  • What is an infection inside the Church?

An infection can be anything from gossip and jealousy, to greed and lust.  Pride and dissention are common and powerful ‘infections’ that plague most churches today.  When a person has an open wound or sore, they are at a very high risk of an infection and also passing on their germs to others around them.  Now imagine a person carrying around an open spiritual wound or a sore spot on their heart.    What kind of damage can that do to those around them?  A healthy church is one without evil spirits infecting the believers.

  • So what is the purpose of infection control and Standard Precautions inside the Church?

The answer is simple and yet easily forgotten.

“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”  Ephesians 6:12

Using SP and PPE when dealing with the evils of this world, we can stop the spread of it and be a more healthy Church!  Pray constantly and treat every situation as one where there’s a spiritual battle going on for a soul, and you’ll do your part to keep The Church healthy and an effective tool for Christ’s Kingdom.

A Prodigal Marriage: A Real and Raw Inside Look (Pt. 3)

At the end of Pt. 2, I talked about generational curses.  Up until about 3 years ago, when I heard someone talk about generational curses, I immediately tuned out and that person lost all credibility with me.  I thought they were one of those nuts who saw satan and his minions behind every bush and in every computer.  But God, in His ‘I’ve got something I want you to know’ way, opened my eyes to what it really means. But I’m getting ahead of myself here, so lets continue down the road that lead to my rock bottom meeting with The Lord.

By the year 2010, I’d already had one full blown affair and was moving onto my second, all the while actively attending church and completely deluded in thinking that I was justified in doing so.  (NOTHING justifies sin…)  My husband asked me if I loved him anymore and in an abnormal moment, I answered truthfully.  No, I didn’t.  In my heart of hearts I knew that if I did, I wouldn’t be straying.  I wanted to leave and he asked me to.  The next thing I knew, my plans were shattered and I was circling the drain.  I’d lost my kids, they wanted to live with Daddy in their home.  I didn’t have a car, a job, a hope in the world.  I hated my husband  fiercely for everything, because as usual, I blamed him for my problems that I’d created.  I still went to church every sunday, praying that God would put me back into His Will.  Funny how He listens…

About 2 months after our separation,  I was sitting alone in my home, praying for direction.  I’d finally gotten a car the day before and wanted to finally go for a drive!  I hadn’t been to my father’s grave in a long time, so I decided to head there.  During the half hour drive, I prayed some more.  At the time, God was my only companion, He’d taken everyone else out of my life so He could get me to focus on Him.  That’s how stubborn I was.  My husband began to weigh on my heart while I was reflecting and praying, so without thinking (that’s code for ‘God’s working through you) I sent him a text saying I was sorry and that I still loved him.  In hindsight, that was the moment that set my failed marriage on a collision course with God’s Will…

“How To Strengthen Your Faith” by Steve Fuller

Need to strengthen your faith?

You might feel like you are the only one.  But you are not.

This side of heaven — every believer has times when his or her faith is weak.

What does weak faith feel like?  When I’m weak in faith –

  • I can doubt God’s forgiveness.
  • I’m not sure God loves me.
  • I don’t believe God is in control.
  • I am tempted to pursue sin more than Jesus.
  • I worry about the future.
  • I feel discouraged or blah.
  • I lack spiritual motivation.

And when faith is weak, we can feel like nothing will ever change — that we’ll never again be strong in faith or feel close to God.

But there’s good news

The good news is that no matter how weak your faith, God has the power to strengthen you.

You can see that in –

  • Mark 9:24 — where a man prays “I believe, help my unbelief.”
  • Ephesians 3:16 — where Paul prays that God would strengthen the faith of the church in Ephesus.
  • Luke 22:31-32 — where Jesus prays that Peter’s faith would be strengthened.

The One who spoke a Universe into existence, who raised Lazarus from the dead, who brought Jericho’s walls down — He can and will strengthen your faith.

But how?

It’s not that we try to be good enough to earn strong faith from God — or that we try to be positive and raise our spirits.

Neither of those are taught in the Bible.

But in the Bible God invites us to take steps which He will use to strengthen our faith.

First — pray and ask Jesus to help your unbelief.

Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)

How did Jesus respond?  He answered the man’s prayer.

So don’t think you need strong faith before Jesus will listen to you.

Turn to Him just as you are — with your weak faith — and cry out to Him for help.

Confess that your faith is weak.  Ask Him to forgive you through the Cross.  Ask Him to strengthen your faith.

Because of His death on the Cross, He will welcome you, love you, forgive you.

AND — He will strengthen your faith — especially as you then take this next step –

Second — hear the word of Christ.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.  (Rom 10:17)

Paul teaches that as we hear the Word of God, God will bring His power upon us and strengthen our faith.

Open to a passage which is full of God’s love and faithfulness and promises in Christ.

And prayerfully read over that passage, asking Jesus to strengthen your faith, so you see and feel that His promises are true.

Here’s some passages I have found helpful to pray over –

  • I John 1:9 — that if I confess my sins, then because of Jesus’ death, God will surely forgive me.
  • John 6:35 — that if I come to Jesus and trust Him, He will fully satisfy me in Himself.
  • Heb 13:5-6 — that God will certainly meet my financial needs (not that I’ll be rich, but my needs will be met).
  • 2Cor 4:17-18 — that God plans every trial to bring me even more joy in Him forever.
  • James 1:5 — that God will give me all the wisdom I need.
  • Psalm 50:15 — that I will experience God’s deliverance in every trial.

So pick whichever one of these fits your circumstances — and pray over it, think deeply on it, and pray over it some more — until you feel God strengthening your faith.

This might happen quickly — or not.  But you can trust God’s timing.

And He WILL — in His perfect timing — strengthen your faith.

You will feel the Holy Spirit changing your heart, making Jesus more real to you, satisfying your soul, strengthening your faith.

 

Daily Devotions: January 14th, 2013

“Mighty to save.” — Isaiah 63:1

By the words “to save” we understand the whole of the great work of salvation, from the first holy desire onward to complete sanctification. The words are multum in parro: indeed, here is all mercy in one word. Christ is not only “mighty to save” those who repent, but He is able to make men repent. He will carry those to heaven who believe; but He is, moreover, mighty to give men new hearts and to work faith in them. He is mighty to make the man who hates holiness love it, and to constrain the despiser of His name to bend the knee before Him. Nay, this is not all the meaning, for the divine power is equally seen in the after‐work. The life of a believer is a series of miracles wrought by “the Mighty God.” The bush burns, but is not consumed. He is mighty to keep His people holy after He has made them so, and to preserve them in his fear and love until He consummates their spiritual existence in heaven. Christ’s might doth not lie in making a believer and then leaving him to shift for himself; but He who begins the good work carries it on; He who imparts the first germ of life in the dead soul, prolongs the divine existence, and strengthens it until it bursts asunder every bond of sin, and the soul leaps from earth, perfected in glory. Believer, here is encouragement. Art thou praying for some beloved one? Oh, give not up thy prayers, for Christ is “mighty to save.” You are powerless to reclaim the rebel, but your Lord is Almighty. Lay hold on that mighty arm, and rouse it to put forth its strength. Does your own case trouble you? Fear not, for His strength is sufficient for you. Whether to begin with others, or to carry on the work in you, Jesus is “mighty to save”; the best proof of which lies in the fact that He has savedyou. What a thousand mercies that you have not found Him mighty to destroy!