jesus

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

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“Trusting God When You Don’t Understand” by NAQUAN

It’s easy to say, “give your cares to the Lord and trust Him” when everything in life seems to be going well.  It’s easy to say, “I trust you Lord with everything I own” when bills are paid on time and when you just got a promotion at work.

However, if God striped you of everything you own; If God told you to leave the very job that’s paying your bills, will you trust the Lord enough to do it?  Will you trust God even when you don’t understand; even when life hurts?  If God told you to leave the familiar and enter the unfamiliar, will you trust Him?

For many of you, God has done just that.  He has taken you from what’s “oh so familiar” and redirected your paths into the unfamiliar.  You don’t understand what’s happening in your life; what to do or where to go.  The only thing you know is that the Lord gave you a word (instruction, a promise, vision, etc) and the only thing you have to hold on to is that word.

I understand the feeling; you’re not alone.  There is encouragement for you today.  Here are 4 things to remember whenever you feel as though you don’t understand what God is doing and/or allowing in your life.

Consider the Source

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last (Revelation 22:13).

Who else can say that but God?  No one, only God can say such a thing.  God knows everything: the past, current and future and our knowledge and understanding doesn’t even compare to the knowledge and understanding of God –  even when it applies to our own life.

Furthermore, when you don’t understand what God is doing in your life, consider the source – Who is it that you’re trusting; God or yourself?

Here is something to remember.  Man is fallible; we fall short and at times we’re unable to keep our promises.  Man can give you instructions that are misleading and imperfect.  With God, none of these things are possible.  God keeps His promises, God gives you right instructions according to His perfect will and He won’t mislead you.

No matter how much you don’t understand life as it is right now; no matter how uncomfortable it may seem or how hard it gets, don’t give up.  If God is with you –  the same God who spoke life into you, the same God who IS and knows the beginning and the end, the same God who knew you before the foundation of this world -is with you, then ask yourself who or WHAT can stand against you.

Consider the source and seek to be obedient to the Lord, even when you don t understand what God is doing in your life; don’t worry about “this or that” because God has provisions for you.

Trust the Lord

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding (Proverbs 3:5).

When you learn to trust the Lord, you will begin to have a sense of rest in the Lord knowing that He has everything under control even when life seems to be out of control.  Trusting God will get you to the point where you make a decision to trust in Him and NOT in your own logic and understanding.

As Christians, we must make a decision to trust Him regardless of how scary the situation may seem.  Trusting God doesn’t prevent you from being in uncomfortable situations but it does allow you to be placed in a position where you seek the Lord’s presence, provisions, guidance and promises.

I encourage you to stop stressing yourself out- losing sleep, being weary, anxious, worried, depressed and sad.  Don’t try to understand the ways of God because it is impossible for you to understand His decisions and ways! (Romans 11:33). The natural man cannot understand the things of God.  For God’s ways are higher than mans, they are past finding out and this is why we must make a decision to trust our all knowing God.

Be Obedient

The bible states that “obedience is better than sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22)” which should tell you a lot about our God.  God places significance on obedience.  He’ll much rather you be obedient to His instruction than for you to give Him sacrificial praise, money offerings, fasting and etc.

Why do I bring obedience up?  Because when God gives you instruction and you’re in a situation where you don’t understand what’s going on in your life, you need to be reminded to be obedient and to trust in the one who does understand – Christ.   There are blessings that follow a person who is obedient just as there are curses that follows a person who is disobedient.

God Will Lead You

The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1).

God told Abraham to leave everything he knew; everything he was familiar with and to enter into the unfamiliar.  God told him to go into a land which he will show him which meant Abraham didn’t know where he was going; He only had the instruction of the Lord to depend on.  Abraham could have easily said, “God, where will I go; what will I eat and drink”, but he didn’t.  He chose to trust God and be obedient and as Christians we must learn to do the same.

“It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8).

As much as we would like God to give us “what where when and how” upfront all the time (all in one shot), God does not operate like that.  Sometimes, God will place you in a satiation where you have to trust Him and He’ll give you piece by piece as you obey and trust Him.

As a person who’s been in this situation, I will tell you that this only increases your faith as you learn to walk by faith and not by sight.

Trusting God When You Don’t Understand: Finial Words

I don’t know what your story is (your more than welcome to share it below), but I encourage you to trust God even when you don t understand what’s happening in your life.

You may not understand life and all that’s happening; but God will give you a piece to the puzzle as you learn to step out on faith, trust and obey him.

Don’t let the devil fool you into believing that you’re taking a step backwards in life or that you’ll never make it out of this situation; because you will.  What you’re going through is temporary.

Encourage yourself in the Lord daily; read His word; pray without ceasing and seek His face.  The next time you find yourself in a position where you are stressed and worried about what God is doing in your life remember to:

  1. Consider the Source
  2. Trust the Lord
  3. Be Obedient
  4. Trust God to Lead You

Prayer for Trusting God’s When You Don’t Understand Life

Heavenly Father,

I ask that you place within me your obedient spirit so that I may be obedient to your instruction.  Help me Lord to walk by faith and not by sight.  I don’t understand what you’re doing in my life, but I make a decision to trust you God.

In this season, I ask that you place within me your spirit of joy, peace and rest.  Give me joy; peace and rest to endure all that comes my way.  Right now, I make a decision to trust you Lord because I know that you’re in control of my life even when my life seems to be out of control.

Lord, I thank you for clarity, guidance, provision and strength.  I pray and ask for these things in Jesus name; Amen.

Pray and stay in the word of God.  There is strength for you in the word of God.  Trust the Lord and be obedient even when you don’t understand life and what God is doing.  Be blessed and encouraged in Jesus name.

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“New Life in Christ” by M. Larson

Maybe I should have that dead thing cut down, I thought.

Then one day I heard the mockingbird sing. Going out into my backyard, I saw him perched on the top of the highest branch of the dead apple tree, rendering his melodious repertoire to cheer the neighborhood.

No, I can’t have that tree cut down, I decided. That makes too good a bird perch. And whatever birds sit up there, I can see clearly and learn their different songs! So I continued to enjoy that tree. Though dead, it lived in a new way.

According to God’s Word, all of us are dead in sin before we are made alive with Christ by God who loves us (Ephesians 2:1-5). In that dead state true peace escapes us. We long for what we do not know. Some of us may even consider killing ourselves because life seems too chaotic and hopeless.

But when we call on the Lord to save us for Jesus’ sake, He reaches down and lifts us up and gives us a new life. Second Corinthians 5:11 tells us that when we are in Christ, we are new creatures. Old things are passed away; all things become new.

Even though we have been resurrected to new life in Christ, we sometimes fail to appropriate the benefits of that wonderful new life by not staying close to our Lord. Yet the good news is that our Lord is always near, and we can always get right with Him.

In God’s Word, David said it this way: “Lord, restore to me the joy of your salvation” (Psalm 51:12). And God did.

Some of those benefits of the new life in Christ are:

JOY. King David, in deep repentance, asked the Lord to restore to him the joy of His salvation (Psalm 51:12). Jesus promised to give us His joy, a supernatural experience that lifts our hearts to the heavenlies and puts a smile on our lips (John 15:11). It is within and is not dependent on our outer circumstances.

Peace. Jesus also promised us “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:7), a peace that gives us strength through the severest trials.

Love. Jesus puts a love in our hearts, even for the unlovely, that shines out to others for Him and makes it possible for us to forgive others. (See 1 John 4:7-8).

Power. Jesus promised His followers the power of the Holy Spirit. (See Acts 1:8). King David, after asking for restoration, said, “Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you” (Psalm 51:13). This power transforms us into soul winners.

Comfort. When we are right with the Lord, we are assured of the comfort of God in Christ whenever we need it. (See 2 Corinthians 1:3-5).

Assurance. When we’re walking with Jesus, we experience surety of this truth: “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son” (1 John 5:11).

Prayers answered. First John 5:14-15 says, “…If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. and if we know that he hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of him.”

Provision. The Apostle Paul, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, assured the dedicated Christian at Philippi, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

Father God, Restore to me the joy of my salvation today. Amen

Questions: Are you experiencing the power and the joy of the Holy Spirit in your life? Are you worried about your situation? How can one turn from worry to being thankful even in dire situations?

Matthew 18:20

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

“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.

“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.

“We Engage Culture for Jesus” An Interview of Christian Artist Lecrae

Speaker: Lecrae (Christian rap artist. Last month, he released his latest album Gravity, which immediately dominated the charts, taking the No. 1 spot on iTunes Top 10 Albums).
SessionWe Engage Culture for Jesus


There is a secular-sacred divide that hinders us from impacting culture. We, the church, are great interpreters of scripture, but we are often clueless when it comes to of art, music, and science. As Christians, we ought not to avoid culture; rather, we should engage it with the transforming power of Jesus.

Christianity cannot be imposed on culture. It can only engage and transform culture.

Daniel is a great example of a man who did not run away from the things that the society he lived in identified with. Although he lived in the midst of a pagan nation, he actually immersed himself in the culture for the sole purpose of bringing glory to God.

After interpreting King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream correctly ”the king gave Daniel high honors and made great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of babylon. Daniel made a request of the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego over the affairs of the province of Babylon. But Daniel remained at the king’s court” (Daniel 2:48-49). Daniel felt called to stay in the king’s court because he desired to point them to Christ.This is a biblical worldview.

What we need to realize is that Christianity is total truth not just religious truth.

Because it is total truth, it is relevant and applicable to all areas of life. When we don’t know how to navigate through culture, we miss out on Jesus’ power to shape and transform society. We, as Christians, have the unique privilege of being able to expose how things that this world has taken and intended for evil can be redeemed for their intended purpose, the glory of God.

Some philosophers have claimed that matter existed before God and was evil in and of itself. We know that God is the only one who is preexisting, the creator of all things (Psalm 24:1), and that everything that he made was good (Genesis 1). Things in and of themselves are not inherently evil. People are inherently evil.

How we interpret culture: Good, Bad, and Redeemable

Good:

“For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving”1 Timothy 4:4

You are not more godly by avoiding things. They are not bad in and of themselves. You can’t transform culture if you aren’t willing to engage things.

Bad:

God is structuring all things for his glory and purpose, humanity misdirects them for evil to serve their own purposes.

The question is not what is evil but rather what can we do with the things man meant for evil to bring glory to God.

Redeemable:

Redeeming is doing exactly what God has commanded us to do in Genesis 1:28, “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.”

“We don’t just need evangelistic Christians, we need missional Christians.” -Tim Keller

All we tell people is what to do and how to get saved. If this is all we talk about people will not listen. We need to engage and through doing that we will transform.

Three ways to apply this

1. Engage Culture– Know the language, values, ideals, and learn how to contextualize
2. Love the people in the culture- They are not a project. They are souls that matter.
3. Rehabilitate culture (Redeem)– We are here to paint a picture of what it looks like when Jesus changes us.

Jesus has redeemed us to demonstrate that this world is his, and he is coming back for it. So whatever you eat, whatever you drink, whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

“12 Reasons for Christmas” by John Piper

  1. “For this I was born and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37).
  2. “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8; cf. Hebrews 2:14-15).
  3. “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17).
  4. “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).
  5.  “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
  6. “God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:5).
  7. “For God so loved the world that whoever believes on him shall not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:16).
  8. “God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9).
  9. “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).
  10. “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against . . . that the thoughts of many may be revealed” (Luke 2:34f).
  11. “He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18).
  12. “Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarches, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy” (Romans 15:7-8; cf. John 12:27f).