Born once, die twice. Born twice, die once.

WOW those words totally hit me this morning as I read my devotional written by faithful women in our church. I cherish these morning devotionals as they set my day on the right path.

This one sentence has so much power and so much truth and also sadness in it. I’m sure we all know someone in our lives who hasn’t, or maybe out right rejects the free gift that God and Jesus offer. It’s sad to know that when God opens the book of life their names won’t be in there.

That thought might overwhelm some. It did and sometimes does to me as well. But we have to keep persevering, we have to keep sharing the name of Jesus to all ends of the earth so that all might know his name and turn to him. And we should speak boldly and honestly with people. Don’t cover up your beliefs because you’re worried that you might offend someone. I’m reminded of a recent trip to Canada, Larry and I prayed ferverently for opportunities to share the gospel with family. Luckily God opened that door for us and allowed us to have a discussion. I would love to say we were able to show them God’s free gift of grace and they became our brothers and sisters in Christ. While they weren’t born again, we did have the opportunity to answer an important question. When we explained that we believed the only way to get to Heaven was through acceptance of our Lord Jesus who died on the cross for us to take our sins the questions was asked:

“So then you don’t believe we’re going to heaven?” Wow, my heart started beating quickly, but I took a deep breath and answered honestly. “No, we don’t”.

Any other answer would have been against the very book I believe, the very words from our Heavenly father that I study. And frankly it would have been insulting to them to say anything other than what we believe.

But we are still persistent and still pray for other opportunities to continue the conversation, continue to share grace.

Born once, die twice. Born twice, die once. Let’s make this true for everyone we know and don’t know.

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Not relying on my own understanding

I started this whole blog because of the verse from Proverbs 3:5(6) “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths.”

I was recently at a Moms group two weeks ago, they were going through the announcements, I was a bit preoccupied thinking about how I needed to wrap up the Moments I was organizing for our church so that I could make some announcements in the coming weeks. A woman whom I’ve seen at church but hadn’t really talked to much got up to talk, she was letting everyone know that their were still children available to be hosted for Christmas and to pray about if this was an opportunity for us.

And then I heard it. The Holy Spirit saying “Are you listening? Are you listening?” I without thinking wrote in my book, hosting a child for Christmas?

I had absolutely no idea what that meant, what I would be doing what it would entail etc. I came home and emailed my husband to see if it would be something he would be open to finding out more information. This is something I really try to work at, y’know involving the Leader of our family in decisions that impact our family…I admittedly am not so great at that sometimes, but I really am getting better I swear! He agreed to find out more information of what that would look like or mean.

I emailed the informational email to ask where I could get some additional information. The same woman who made the announcement emailed me back and gave us a pretty good detailed email about what that would look like. So far it was sounding pretty good…then I read: The cost to host is $2700. My first and immediate thought was ‘Oh yeah, that’s not going to work’

And then that voice was back “Why are you worrying? Is there some need you have that I am not currently providing for you?” Right…you’re right. OK God. If this is something you want us to do I am leaving it in your hands to help us work out the details.

When I told my husband, he gets full credit, his response was a slow but steady OK. He admitted that internally he was freaking out a bit, how would we afford this? Is my wife a little crazy? Should we get her checked out? -Ha that’s me taking liberty he didn’t say and I’m pretty sure didn’t actually think that…pretty sure.

And then we talked logistics. Well we have three bedrooms, and our family is coming into town at Christmas, so we really could only be able to host a girl. When I tried to think of the flyer I had seen I couldn’t recall any single girls on there, There were girls but I thought they were all in sibling groups that had to be hosted together. We agreed I would talk to the organizer explain our situation and if it didn’t work out this year, then perhaps next year.

Fast forward to yesterday, when I saw her and explained the only way it would work for our family. She immediately picked up the flyer and pointed to a girl that for some reason I hadn’t “seen” at first. I immediately got goose bumps, we both looked at one another and could feel it. It just it’s indescribable. I just knew, this was what was meant to happen.

While we are still in the beginning phases right now, I am praying fervently. I want my husband and I to really be on the same page, I want him to feel really comfortable with this decision. We both know that God’s will will be done in our lives because our focus is on Him and what He is asking us to do.

Would you pray for us? Would you pray for Larry and I to be drawn closer together in this and through this. Honestly in so many ways I feel like this is already drawing us closer together, regardless of the outcome. But would you pray for us. Pray that if we do take this on that we have a lot of fun doing fundraising to help her come and be part of our family for Christmas. Would you pray for her, this precious daughter of Jesus who is in a situation I can imagine none of us would want our daughters in.

Thank you, thank you for praying. Keep coming back to see our journey through us stepping out in Faith and letting go of control to God so He can do His work in us.

Human Limitations

John 8:15 “You judge me with all your human limitations, but I am not judging anyone.”

So many people reject Jesus because they judge the human limitations of this world. They see the followers and their actions and judge those actions as followers being one big contradiction. Preaching one way, but living another.

I get this. While I work hard to live and respond to people, conflict etc. like Jesus would I am by no means the best at it. I lose my temper, I snap at my kids and speak unkindly to my husband. I am not a perfect person.

But here are some ways I have been trying to respond more like Jesus, to stop being a contradiction and help people see Jesus through me at all times.

A few weeks ago I was driving down a local one way highway going the speed limit…for some reason in our area going the speed limit is outrageous! Following the rules? How dare you! So the gentleman behind me had some…interesting ways of communicating his displeasure of me going the speed limit. I could have reciprocated his actions back, I could have rolled down my window at the stop sign and explained I had a sleeping baby in the back seat, but instead I prayed. I prayed for him and his passenger, I prayed for where they were going in such a hurry and that they would get their safely.

I spent 4 months trying to recover a 401K check that was supposed to be sent back to me, In the end we had to switch over all of our accounts to a different bank just so I could get a paper signed. Then I had to call 7 times in 2 months to insist I had filled out the paper correctly and why couldn’t someone go and look at the physical copy themselves? I would like to say I never raised my voice or became angry….but that would be a giant lie. But toward the end of the 7 times, I took a deep breath, asked God for kind words and was able to communicate my frustrations in a calm manner, and I did in the end receive my money! -woohoo!

About a two years ago, I invited a friend to a conference that in the end conflicted with a wedding I committed to doing and I wasn’t able to go. I hurt my friends feelings by doing this, she felt frustrated and angry and alone and sent me an email that conveyed those hurt feelings. While I couldn’t take responsibility for everything in the email, I prayed and talked at length with God about what happened and finally responded how Jesus would have responded.

 

So I guess my post may be a little disjointed…truthfully most are from the starting scripture to the ending words. What I am trying to say is don’t judge the Jesus in “us”, in our human limitations. Instead find out who he is. Don’t decide because of one or two (or 100) people you may have met that didn’t live up to a “Christian” standard you may have in your mind. Really get to know who He is, what He says, what His Salvation looks like before you decide Jesus “isn’t for you”. Just because we follow Jesus doesn’t mean we’re perfect. We still have bad days, some worse than others, but I can say with confidence that the majority of us do try to model ourselves after our Savior.
The Savior of the world.

Investing in our Children

John 4:35-38

“Do you think the work of harvesting will not begin until the summer ends four months from now? Look around you! Vast fields are ripening all around us and are ready now for harvest. The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike! You know the saying, ‘One person plants and someone else harvests.’ And it’s true. I sent you to the harvest where you didn’t plant; others had already done the work and you will gather the harvest.”

This is a conversation I had 2 years ago:

God: Sarah I think you should help out with teaching Sunday school

Me: Hey God, no thanks, I don’t like my own children half the time…

He continued to lay that thought on me for several weeks until he decided to play a different hand since I wasn’t listening. Then I got this email from a woman I really respect and love:

“Hey girl, I think you should prayerfully consider teaching Sunday school.”

My response to her: Did God tell you to email me?

That was two years ago in September. A close friend who taught the three year old room had just suffered in a car crash and would be in the hospital for several months. When we approached our leader of our Sunday School with said friend who had emailed me (y’know because she just “happened” to be in the parking lot while we were also getting out of our car…) and she asked us a tough question “Are you serious about this? Or are you just helping out this Sunday?”

There it was, the perfect opportunity to back out of what I didn’t want to do. I could easily say just this Sunday, teach one class and be done with it. But I felt myself saying, we’re committed to the whole year.

What happened over the course of the next year was incredible. We fell in love with those kids. They were only three!! But somehow they had such insight into the bible that I feel I could only dream of having. They taught us more than we taught them is how I sometimes feel. We were so blessed to have been able to move up with them to the 4’s room the following year. What an absolute joy we had again being able to teach them. Now they were older, now we could really get into some deeper conversations! We discovered what it was like to glean grain with Ruth, we crossed the read sea with Moses, we brought down the wall with Joshua! And this summer we even slayed a giant with our marshmallow slingshots!

We were lucky enough again to be able to follow our same children to the Kindergarten classroom. Even though it was only our first week you wouldn’t believe the amazing questions we were blessed with being in the position to answer. Such as “When I pray, how does God know I am talking to him?” and “God was a spirit too right?”. We were able to answer those questions. Think about that and really let it set in. Your children were asking these questions to people who LOVE Jesus and know the bible, which means they were getting an answer through the holy spirit. They weren’t asking someone at school who might not know Jesus.

That my friends is the reason for this post. When I prayed on Sunday morning as we were driving to church in our car the Holy Spirit said these words through my prayer “I pray for the people of our church to become more involved in children’s ministries Lord. We can see how the world lives right now, the only hope that we have for the future to KNOW YOU God is through these children. It’s through setting them up on a firm foundation of knowing you, knowing your truths and knowing who they put their faith in.”

I will admit it was kind of a passionate prayer! I was upset because it’s true. Listen I was one of those people who didn’t think I would like helping out and that it would just be serving reluctantly, but I was wrong. Please understand how wrong I was.

I can’t even imagine what it would be like to not serve now. This is being written right now from the Holy Spirit to people who will read this and know this post is for them. Don’t turn away, don’t make any more excuses, get out there and commit to teaching our kids THE TRUTH! If we do not teach our kids, if we don’t make it a priority to teach these children who and what they should put their faith in then why are we even going to church? If our Faith dies with us then why do we go to church every Sunday?

Matthew 18:5-6 “And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who trusts in me to lose faith, it would be better for that person to be thrown in the sea with a large millstone tied around the neck.”

Lead by example, teach your children what it means to faithfully serve where God is calling us to serve!

The demons run and flee

“The Mountains shake before you, the Demons run and flee at the Mention of your name King of Majesty. There is no power of hell, or any who could stand before the power and the presence of the Great I Am.”

Does anyone else struggle with pride? With being in the spotlight and wanting to be recognized for the deeds they’ve done? I do, a lot. I try not to, every time a thought of selfishness comes into my mind I pray that God would take it away. But more and more I have heard these thoughts whispered to me. And that my friends leads me to know where these thoughts are coming from.

I’m glad I can make the distinction between God’s voice and Satan’s.

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Image source unknown

I’m sure everyone has seen these around Pinterest and Facebook, but it’s so important to know the difference. God gives you confidence yes, but not in a way that leads you to obsess over yourself.

A pastor once said in a sermon “When you are feeling tormented, or you feel Satan and his Demons pressing in around you, nothing, NOTHING rebukes them more than boldly stating ‘I AM A CHILD OF GOD! JESUS CHRIST IS MY SAVIOR AND YOU HAVE NO POWER HERE.'”

I do that a lot, when I feel my pulse quicken or I am feeling overwhelmed with something or a situation I know it is Satan trying to influence me in a way that is not God’s way. So I say out loud “Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior and you have no power here.” Sometimes truth be told I yell this while also crying -Hey I never said I wasn’t a mess!. But I will tell you this when I speak these words out loud I instantly feel better. My pulse settles down, sometimes I can’t even remember what I was just in a panic about.

There are none who can stand before the power and the presence of the Great I Am. When I sing and even write these words I am filled with love. I get goose bumps knowing the truth in not only this song, but the truth of the words.

Finding out you’re actually the other brother…

Have you read the story of the Lost Son? (Luke 15: 11-32)

My husband and I have many times, you know the one thing we took away (at one point in time) from the story? How unfair it was for the older Son. We are both first born’s, who not only enjoy helping out I think I can say with honesty feel like in some situations we have to or it’s our duty to help out. To follow the rules, to do what is right etc. With that usually comes an attitude of trying hard not the be selfish, or seem or have selfish thoughts.

This seems to come a little more easily to younger or the youngest children. Don’t misread me I am not implying that the youngest is selfish, they just seem to have this freedom to express their wants and needs that comes more naturally to them than it seems to come to first born’s in my opinion/observation. And I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. In the story of the Lost Son/Prodigal Son we see a young man who is thinking of the now, he wants his inheritance now so he can strike out on his own and enjoy it while he’s young. In the story this decision does not end well for the younger son who loses everything he has and is forced to accept a job feeding pigs and eating the same food they do. He eventually comes to his senses and decides to repent from his sin of demanding his inheritance from his father and ask him to give him work.

But what happens next I don’t think anyone expects the first time they hear this story is the Father rushing out of his house to welcome his son home, and then selects the most choice meat to serve at a banquet in his honor when he returns.

24 “for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.”

My husband and I actually had a great discussion about the reaction of the other brother 29 “but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve worked hard for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me one young goat for a feast with my friends.” We felt his reaction was completely justified, why do the younger kids always get the best stuff? 🙂

Until we realized and finally understood the parable. The Other Brother was acting like the Pharisees. They despised the sinners, the gentiles, they thought themselves better than them since they were “closer to God”. Why should the supposed Messiah come to save such sinners? The Gentiles?? No way! They thought they should be the ones to be saved, they should have the seat next to God’s but God knew their hearts, they didn’t love him, they loved the attention, the feasts, the praises.

The truth is we are and can be both brothers. We are all the Younger son; that is a fact of the parable. We have all gone our own way from the father through sin, but when we come home “…there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.” All of Heaven throws a huge party for all of us when we return back to our Heavenly Father.

The trouble comes when we decide to pass judgement on anyone else who also decides to return home to the Father, that’s when we become the other brother. Sin is sin. No one sin is greater or lesser in God’s eyes, stealing a candy bar is the same as murdering someone to God. Telling a lie is the same as committing adultery, or coveting what your neighbor has.

It is all equal and that is why it can all be paid with one price.

Waiting on your Prayers

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Isn’t the above the hard truth? Sometimes when we’re walking through something and we need God the most it might feel like He’s not there, or He can’t hear us, or frankly we might think He’s just flat out not listening, or doesn’t care. But let me tell you He hears everything, and I can say with the utmost confidence that even if it isn’t evident in the present you will see how He was working on your prayers in the future.

My Husband and I actually met online. He lived in Florida and I lived in Wisconsin. Not a likely match eh? Who in their right mind would start a friendship or relationship with someone who lived with several large long states in between them? Us apparently! It was hard. It took a LOT of hard work for our relationship to survive, even more hard work because we didn’t have one another right there to comfort us when we needed it, or to just physically see the body language we had when saying certain words! I’ll write another post describing how we helped our relationship to survive three years apart.

Larry looked and we searched and we prayed for a job for him in Wisconsin for I think about 3 years. There were times when it seemed he might never find someone willing to take a chance on a person applying from Florida’s hot sunny, postcard picture perfect weather to the dreary snowy weather of Wisconsin. But God was faithful. The whole time we were praying and wondering when Larry might find a job God was working on the perfect job for him. He set in motion so many things to help Larry get to the perfect place. A job that he not only still enjoys three years later, but it’s full time, it was a great benefit package it moved him up here on their dime, and the company he found has weathered the uncertainty of the economy. He worked everything out according to His timing, His plan for us and we are so grateful.

Luke 11:9-10 “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for. Keep on looking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And the door is opened to everyone who knocks.”

I’m thankful that we waited on His timing because if we had tried to force our relationship to fit within our timelines who knows what would have happened. But I can almost guarantee it wouldn’t have ended well. Waiting on God’s timing is always the right answer because it shows Him that we trust Him, we know that He works out all things for the good of His kingdom and for His glory.

The Least of These

DSC00184Matthew 25:40 “And the King will tell them, ‘I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me.'”

Last week I was able to be a small part in something huge. Our church was able to host a Royal Kids Family Camp. I encourage you to check out the link if you have never heard of it before. We were able to minister for an entire week to children who have experiences things a child should never have to experience. But they were in the presence of the King. You could feel it all over the Camp. In every square inch in every corner it was covered with God’s love for these children. We were able to celebrate each child’s birthday and sing happy birthday to them. Some of them will never have a birthday outside of the camp birthday they have. And one night their special activity was launching rockets for the boys and putting on a style show for the girls. Each girl was able to create their own style. So what better way to celebrate the launching of rockets and these beautiful women showing off their own styles than with rocket and crown cookies!

They were a big hit with the kids and I was so happy to have been a part of the experience. I can’t wait until our children are old enough to look after themselves or we can find an alternative care for them during the week so that I can be a counselor for an entire week.

If you would like to become more involved or would like more information on our specific branch of the Royal Kids Family Camp you can do so here.

Do you feel deserving?

Ephesians 2:8-9 “God saved you by his special favor when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”

I have a problem. Well had, I am getting better I swear. I have a problem accepting anything from anyone. Help, food, even water at times. I can distinctly remember being in people’s homes and feeling incredibly parched, having them offer me a drink but saying no because I did not want to inconvenience them.

Trust me, I know how ridiculous this sounds. Inconvenience them by grabbing a glass and getting free water.

What I had to re-teach myself is that as much joy that it brings me to help people, to do things for them, they feel the same way in return. By not allowing people to care for me I was alienating myself, creating this aura that I can do everything myself and I don’t need help.

I can’t do everything myself, and I need help. Sometimes I need a LOT of help. Contrary to popular belief I’m not good at everything and I’m getting better at asking for help. For asking for a glass of water when I’m parched or letting people know when I’m hungry and need something to eat. I don’t know why it was so hard for me to ask or to let people know I needed help.

Salvation is the same. I can’t do it myself. I actually can’t do any of it myself. If there was something we could do then Jesus’s death on the cross would have been for nothing. If we could put in ‘x’ amount of hours volunteering and that would guarantee that we would get into heaven, then Jesus’s death on the cross was for nothing.

If we relentlessly tried to be passive and politically correct at all times and never hurt anyone else’s feelings and that would guarantee that we would get into heaven, then Jesus’s death on the cross was for nothing.

There is a book: How good is good enough. It does a great job of outlining popular belief in North America, that if we work hard and are nice and give occasionally to those in need, or better ourselves then that surely, will guarantee that we have a place somewhere after we die.

But it doesn’t. No matter what we try to do (or not do), it would never be enough. Sin permanently separates us from God, the only payment for sin is Blood. Jesus willingly sacrificed himself for our sins, past present and future. So that we didn’t need to do anything. We don’t have to work really hard to be good enough. The only thing we have to do is believe. Accept the gracious gift He freely gave to us on the cross. It’s free. All we have to do is accept it and we will have eternal life.

What could be a better gift?

Jesus Wept

The morning after we found out the house we wanted and thought was the one for us already accepted an offer, I received a God timed devotional in my inbox. It was called Weep With Those Who Weep written by a woman in our church.

First let me state that I am completely aware that losing a bid on a house does not compare to a lot that is happening in the world, and I know, that in the grand scheme of things is not really that big of a deal. However, that is the reason for this post. It still matters. It matters to me, to my husband, and above all it matters to God.

It hurt me, my heart was broken, my husband was sad as well. Everyone goes through these little things in life, we know they aren’t the end of the world, we know that compared to friends, relatives, neighbors etc. and what they may be going through right now it’s not that big. But it’s something that matters to us in our lives in that moment and above all it still matters to God.

He knows we’re hurting he knows our pain and sadness that this brings. Even in the little details He is there and He cares. This situation has taught us a lot of things, one of the main things though that God has taught us is compassion. Compassion for those situations that we might hear about and think is not really that big of a deal, to instead of just saying “God’s in control”, “God is faithful” or “Trust in the Lord” to really stop and listen. To listen to what others are going through and really feel for their emotions no matter what. We all know that God is in control, faithful and that we can trust in Him. But sometimes what we need is just someone to understand that we’re hurt, we’re sad and what we need is for someone to just stop, really stop and listen.

And to remember the words in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the source of every mercy and the God who comforts us. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”