Don’t Run from the Storm

The storm clouds roll in
I want to run, I am exhausted
One more step one long stretch
I see the sun then, again the down pour
Exhausted I cry out to the Lord, “WHY ME?”
I just want one moment of rest from the storm
I can’t focus, I am done. Yes Lord I said it I am done.
He then reminds me, “Oh Child remember it is during the storms, I carry you.”

Remember Luke 8:23-25 As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. 24) The disciples went and woke him, saying “Master, Master,” we’re going to drown? He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. 25) “Where is your faith?” He asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the Winds and the water and they obey him.”

I see the storm continue to swell in the sky and just in a flash I run, I don’t turn back I continue to run.

Standing in the rain with me I turn to the touch of a hand pulling me back, He whisper’s in my ear, “My child the job is not done yet. I am changing you to become my child; the path you take is very narrow you need to be sure to have all the tools needed to overcome the bigger storms we will face together. There will be the biggest Christian revival anyone will see; I am preparing my people to become strong to look within and also to trust when you feel alone it is I who have taken you from the pain. It is ME who is going to shield you from the pain. So remember to maintain the faith, the lessons and the be prepared at all times.”

Matthew 24:36 is a good reminder- “No one knows about the day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the father.”

Only the father, not even the Son. So when told me to be prepared, He wants our hearts to be purified like diamonds so our mind cannot challenge the evil which will be brought to challenge us.

Will you die in the Name of Jesus Christ, “Yes Lord, I will die in the name of Jesus Christ”
Weather the storm, He is preparing us for the revival of a life time.

Emmaus

Scars which Last a Lifetime: Words

Words change a person, for good and bad. Be mindful of the words you use.

Ephesians 4:29-32 (NIV Beautiful Words Bible 2015 Zondervan pg. 1373) Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30) And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31) Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of Malice. 32) Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

The emptiness has already consumed her; the goal today was o feel good and beautiful about herself; just a little confidence would go a long way. Each day she would try and look at herself in the mirror before school and tell herself, “I am beautiful!” She would believe it for a moment and then it was gone the emptiness was back. She thought what difference would it make, it didn’t matter what she believed; they always found a way to put her back in place. The harrowing feeling of walking into school each day felt like her form of punishment.

What would it be today? Her skin color, the flash of memory appears. She was maybe in 3rd grade trapped in the bathroom by one of the most popular girls in 3rd grade and being told to go home and have her parents paint her white like the rest of them. She never knew any difference in skin color. She just knew her mother was beautiful and her father was he most handsome man she knew. She snaps back to reality; today is about being a bitch and a whore. As time goes by she comes to the realization it didn’t matter how much she would defend herself; she would never measure up in their eyes.

The more and more she tried to ignore the words the worse they would get. Then it was back to being a wetback, spec, Jehobite slut and on and on… The people please in her personality chose to take it, take the abuse and allow it to consume her. With confidence torn apart and making the worst possible decisions through out high school got her in more trouble with her parents. She eventually allowed men to treat her with disrespect to the point of being abused. She allowed those words to control who she became. Graduation would be the happiest day of life. Or so she thought.

Now time for her to face the adult world. A world which brought her further pain and suffering; she thought the words were bad in high school but she was wrong. the words just cut much deeper. Entering the world of being an adult didn’t help when she looked at herself as being completely broken; unable to stand up for herself. She literally did whatever anyone wanted her to do. If it meant working a certain job which she had no desire to she did it. Oh, they have the most eligible bachelor ready for her to date. She did a good job of hiding the pain if she ever showed a sign of weakness it would be hidden from those who were surrounding her. She would put a smile on her face and proceed on.

She was along enduring constant abuse, who would she turn to. She discovers that if there really was a God she wouldn’t have endured so much pain and suffering only to find herself pregnant; this is going to be one of her greatest challenges being a mom and trying to prevent her children from becoming victims.

Wedding are blissful events; you want to feel good about yourself, there she was walking round with her baby girl and a young man on her other arm as her date. A family  member approached her full of confidence; with a comment that would come back to haunt her not once but twice in her lifetime. “You change boyfriends like you do shirts.” at that moment in time She should have been devastated but in this time she had already endured the worse form of abuse and she needed to be focused for her baby girl so she shrugs it off.

Years later she is going through serious life changes. Her baby girl is no longer a baby, she is now an adult and learning her path on raising a family. She can be described as a real Proverbs 31 wife in her momma’s eyes. When her mom thinks of her daughter she is reminded of Proverbs 31: 25 She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. Her mom recalls mentioning time and time again if she only had an ounce of her daughter’s strength what life changing effects there would be. 

November 11, 2006 a day which changed her life forever; the day she accepted Christ as her Lord and Savior. That day she would begin her infancy walk with Christ. Ultimately what she didn’t realize was God would use her past to learn from. Granted He knew her past He was with her along the way carrying her when she didn’t realize she needed to be carried.

One big lesson of life she would learn is forgiveness not only giving forgiveness but praying that those she hurt with her words would forgive her.

The words echoing loudly in her mind… they won’t stop…”You change boyfriends like you do shirts.” Those words hurt so badly and years later they echo through her head. Shaking and crying on her knees asking God why? The out loud she is yelling asking God, “why can’t I let this go?” Then she hears her self again feeling of anxiety coursing through her body then the words being spoke out loud as if the person was in the room. She would question to the point of almost breaking down then practically in tears she called her daughter. Tells her the story of the message God was telling her and keeps bring up this one horrible memory.

Then the reality hit home for this mom. Years earlier when her daughter was growing up through the teen age years. She repeated those same words to her daughter. She said to her daughter the exact same phrase word for word, “You change boyfriends just like you do shirts.” Tears flowing down her face she drops to her knees while on the phone she states to her daughter, “I pray one date in time you will forgive me.” Her daughter appreciated her apologizing then the full reality of what God was trying to teach her was revealed.

  1. She needed to forgive the person who made the statement in the first place. We do not need to wait to be asked to forgive. We need to just forgive. Especially if you are a victim. By forgiving we free ourselves from being the victim of abuse.
  2. She needed to ask for forgiveness. Healing begins between the mother and daughter when an acknowledgement of wrong doing has occurred.

So often words are like a double edge sword; the monumental effect words can have on a person can be overwhelming which can carry greater scars because they cut into the heart and mind.

Pulling Weeds

One day I was sitting in Village Inn waiting for my car to get serviced at Wal-Mart, the condition set by Chris if I wanted to go to Lansing to see my father.

I was alone, and I just started writing. I always knew what the title of my next blog would be and the subject matter I just didn’t know the direction I was going to have it go in. So here it is.

Every parent has a goal for their children. Here are some of my goals:

  1. Having a relationship with Christ
  2. Falling in Love
  3. Know unconditional love
  4. Enjoying making memories
  5. Have a full and successful life

As parents we can help our children attain some of these goals. The one goal I am focusing on is making memories. Our children have childhood memories these memories can be good ones and bad ones.

I know growing up in a home with multiple children each child will have different memories of how they view the way they grew up. This especially happens when there is a generation gap.

In 2007 my mother passed away from a glioblastoma brain tumor. Having someone close you go through this isn’t easy, she put up a fight and I know in my heart she did this for our family.

Our relationship wasn’t always roses, we were after all, mother/daughter. There was nothing I wanted more was for my mother to just love me for who I was, everything I believed I did  to please her.

In the final days before she died, she told me I would be fine. I know she loved me, there was never a time she wouldn’t tell me she loved me even in a heated moment of anger or should I say disappointment, she would say “I love you, bye” not once did she hang up the phone without telling me she loved me. She told me she did this because if she died tomorrow there would be no doubt that she loved me.

But, it doesn’t change the negative-I remember the tantrums me storming out of the house not understanding why she didn’t like me, what did I ever do to be treated so badly I didn’t get it, these memories flooded my mind. Then I remember when I was pregnant with my daughter how mom was so loving, understanding and supportive.  Before she passed away she asked me what my favorite memory was, I explained it was the night I fell asleep on the living room floor and she laid next to me; wrapped her arm around me feeling Erikah kick. This memory resounds through my mind often; I hold onto this memory because I choose to remember the loving moments in my relationship with mom.

When I think of my mother I also remember how she drilled into my head, “Bad association spoils useful habits.” this is a scripture 1 Corinthians 15:33(NWT) Do not be misled. Bad association spoils useful habits. She always wanted better for me, I didn’t understand this I was a teenager seeking guidance and direction. I saw how strong my mother was when faced with adversity. Then I remember, Proverbs 31:25 (NIV) She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.

I didn’t always agree with my mother; however she was my mother and I respected her as my mother. I loved her the best way I knew how. I want to focus on the good memories so I can be free and enjoy those memories. I am working hard on pulling the weeds; the negative memories so I can focus on the good.

My children will have good memories and bad ones as well. My prayer for them is to one day realize I am human afterall, I did falter and fail often but, I did my best to raise them to become the individuals they are today. I pray one day they will reflect and decide to pull  the weeds, focus on the good times.

 

Becoming Priesthood of Believers

The world can be a challenging place to live in if we do not have a relationship with God. With God as our focal point He helps us cope when we are faced with difficulties.  Before I became a member of this congregation I was a victim of abuse; I was a victim, I remembered each anniversary like it was a birthday, I was lost and confused. Soon I learned that God will also place people in our lives who have strong influences on us. One person He placed is in my life is Pastor Helen, she has been influential in my spiritual walk and it all began with a simple phrase, I needed to stop being a victim of my past and become a survivor.

Sure, those words didn’t set well however over time this statement changed my life. Where was I going to begin learning how to become a survivor.   I needed to stop feeling sorry for myself and stop becoming emotionally draining to those around me so, by developing a relationship with Jesus I was able to turn my past over to HIM.  I then learned the meaning of true forgiveness so I would be free; by forgiving those who have caused harm to me in my life allowed me to find my true happiness in God and understand the healing grace of Jesus.

God wants each one of us to find true happiness and have a relationship with him.  As a result of Jesus’ death we have salvation; God used this (Jesus’ death) act of love to bridge the gap of sin and death which at one time separated us from God, and us from other people. God has called on ALL of us to become servants; we need to show others how to make the grace of Christ real in their lives but, first let’s start with our own lives.

There is a biblical concept of priesthood of all believers, it is important to understand the church and everyone’s role who serve in the church. All believers, laity and clergy alike are called and given the authority to be priests to one another. We have all been baptized in Christ and we are one in Christ. We all have a role to play by being a member in the body of Christ; in God’s eyes no role is more important than the other. Often times there is a misconception that pastoring/ministering is left to the clergy; when in reality it is left to ALL of us to be pastoring/ministering to each other.

Each one of us play a role in being a priest in our community. What is a priest?

  1. A priest functions as God’s representative in the world, communicating God’s word and shedding light on God’s will in people’s lives. A priest pronounces God’s word of forgiveness and healing grace.  As believers we give words of forgiveness by stating, “I forgive you” this demonstrates the healing of a relationship through forgiveness and grace.
  2. A priest also acts as the people’s representative to God. A priest intercedes for the people, going to God for the sake of the people, and offering sacrifices of love on their behalf. Each time we lift someone in prayer or we are giving of ourselves selflessly we are being the representative for them.
  3. A priest is not only the ordained clergy but anyone who has experienced the love, acceptance and forgiveness of God, and who helps others experience this grace as well. At one point or another we have experience the love God has for us and accepted Christ as our savior.  There have been several members of this congregation who have surrounded me with unconditional love when I have reached out to them. I refer to them as God’s vessels and I am reminded their words of encouragement are words from God.

There is one great high priest and that is Jesus, He is the supreme mediator between God and people. In Christ, the separation between God and humanity is overcome.

  1. There is only one representative to God and that is Jesus. He is the Word made flesh, mediating God’s grace and truth to us. The only way to the Lord is through the son and the son is Jesus. He is the one we develop a relationship with; which draws us closer to God.
  2. Jesus is our representative to God. He shared our humanity and loving sacrificed his life for our salvation. John 1: 29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

All believers share this priesthood-in partnership with Christ. The members of the Christian community are a royal priesthood. As described in 1 Peter 2:4-5, 9-10

1 Peter 2:4-5, 9-10: As you come to him, the living stone-rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him-5) you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

9)But you are chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10)Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

  1. We are part of the priesthood of all believers, each of us is called to represent Christ and share his grace with others. We need to stand with Christ in the gap to help those who have lost their way with God or we have a friend on the outside looking in; God wants us to extend a hand by using our relationship with Christ we bring them closer to God.
  2. We also participate in Christ’s ministry when we perform loving, sacrificial acts and share the good news of God’s grace and forgiveness. Live by example, how are we demonstrating the love God has shown us; we also must be able to have grace and forgive as God did.

The phrase “priesthood of all believers” doesn’t mean every person should act as their own priest. What it means is we are given the authority to love to be priests to one another.  Christ laid down his life for others to make the grace of God real; we are also called to do this. Demonstrate the grace, love and forgiveness of God to each other and those in need of a relationship with Christ.

The church is the body of Christ a place where people come to experience the love, acceptance and forgiveness of God. The Church is also the place where we have also committed our lives to Christ and also to the ministry of sharing God’s grace with others.

We all have a journey we are on and are becoming more aware of our role in being part of the priesthood of believers. God has a plan; a mission for each one of us.  While I was on the walk to Emmaus (Which is a 72 hour retreat; to help you individually to develop a relationship with Christ. At the beginning of the walk we are assigned a table group. This group was our family for the next 72 hours, my table was the table of Rebecca.) By the time Pastor Helen told me to become the survivor my faith journey was just in it’s infancy by the time I participated in the walk to Emmaus. Well, I experience a brief argument with Jesus, he was urging me to share my story within my group. I resisted very hard and I even remember walking down the hallway and verbally stating “Why? I am no longer a victim, I’m becoming a survivor.” Little did I know at the time; if Jesus wanted my story shared it was going to be shared. So by the discussion got to me; the words were just flowing from my mouth. In that moment I was ministering to someone else and giving them the strength they needed to share a part of their past they had never shared with anyone in their lives not even their spouse. They were also a victim of abuse.  In that moment I realized, the Lord DOES have bigger plans for me and I may not always understand at the time but, how can I question his plan. I share this experience with you because:

  1. We need to make Christ real for people; we need to embody Christ in all things we do in life; personal, family, work and leisure. The building we come to worship in is not the Church, the Church is a ministry of love; we are a community of believers in ministry, the royal priesthood whoever are the body of Christ in the World. Not only do we belong to the Church; we are the church, wherever we are.
  2. We need to be a gateway of God’s grace, share love, acceptance and forgiveness with other people. God has put in our had the keys of the kingdom, we have the power to bind or unbind a person by the way we share or withhold the grace God has given us. Words from God can be expressed in many ways; when a person is in pain we can tell them “God Loves you,” “You are forgiven,” or a simple prayer. For someone who is overwhelmed with life, a simple touch of a hand on the shoulder, the company of a friend, or an offer to help also represents God. There are so many different ways to represent God in different situations.
  3. In the world today there is so much darkness that surrounds such as narcissism, cynicism, and hopelessness; so, we want to be the light in the darkness and also become a promise in the midst of problems to help others overcome these things.

Our journey/mission is personal. The only person who can guide you on your mission is yourself and the relationship you have developed with Christ. Just as Jesus struggled in the wilderness with his own temptations we are going to have our struggles as well. We need to be true to ourselves, look at ourselves in the mirror and remember our relationship with God is personal and avoid religious language and stereotypes. We want to be a Witness for Christ in a way that is natural to us.

Our journey is spiritual; spiritual doesn’t mean after we have passed on it is about how we live today to the fullest in this time according to God’s will. Just as Jesus worked for God’s deepest desire for people in this world; live in the fullness of God’s grace and truth. This is our mission from God once we have accepted being a part of the royal priesthood this will help us interpret God’s will for people’s lives.

Our journey is service oriented we are reminded we do not act on our own authority but we are a representative and our journey should be one that demonstrates serving as Jesus served.

We share our journey, we work together as a team we are one body of Christ in this community and we must remember; we cannot accomplish Christ’s ministries alone, Jesus called along 12 others to share his life and his journey with. (Just as I mentioned earlier) I have had several members of this congregation I have called on to help steer me in the right direction or just in a moment of needing a little reassurance.

Our journey calls for our best, each day when I wake I have the free will to decide what type of day is it going to be. Each day is a journey in strengthening my relationship with God by becoming closer to Jesus and in doing this I want to ensure I put my best foot forward in attitude, ability and action. After all, Christ did give his best for us in turn we should do the same for him.

I was saved on November 11, 2006; my mother passed away on July 17, 2007 I believe with all my heart; me being saved at this time was part of God’s plan. Hindsight is 20/20 after all; then my younger sister was asked, “How is Melanie handling your mother’s death?” her response was, “Not too badly, she has a strong relationship with Christ.”  At that moment when I heard her retell me the conversation I realized I was being used as a vessel of God’s to show how coping with difficulties of this world which cause heartache we still find comfort of the Lord’s arms.

God wants Christians like you and me to become active partners in our journeys/missions; he calls on us to be the church. We are blessed with an opportunity to write our own modern day version of the Gospels, telling our story and how being active participants in the body of Christ we grew in our relationship not only with Christ but with others within the body of Christ; we became messengers for God to those of little faith. We each have a responsibility, a mission, a journey and that is to continue each day to make Christ real in our lives; share his grace so that others may know what God’s salvation is really about. We have the ultimate responsibility to be the church right where we are; it is about our personal relationship with Christ and being the example to others who strive to have the same relationship with Christ. Be a vessel/or messenger of God in someone life today. We are all called to be priests.

Lessons from Job

The book of Job is a long and an  interesting read.

Horrible things happened to Job, he literally lost everything. When I say everything I mean everything including his children. He was a faithful servant of the Lord.

There are so many lessons which could be learned from reading the book of Job.

  1. Job remained faithful to the Lord after everything he had gone through.
  2. Job’s friends immediately went to be with him once they heard of the things which happened to Job.
  3. Compassion
  4. Redemption

We remain faithful to the Lord and we don’t understand why things happen to us. Why do bad things happen. If you read the book of Job from beginning to end; you will find out that Job was used as a test to prove a point to Satan. (Job didn’t know this)  We know that the Lord doesn’t always do this but in this example the Lord wants us to know no matter what we are going through we are not alone. He will bring us through the situation.

Job’s friends constantly tried to give him council; he got so angry with them because they were telling him to get on his knees and beg for forgiveness for whatever sin obviously committed against God. Job didn’t need to feel like he was being lectured for something he knew he didn’t do wrong. He was seeking compassion from his friends.

Job 16: Job replied, 2 “I have heard many things like these; miserable comforters are you all!”

I have felt like my world has fallen down all around me. I have serious anxiety attacks when I feel like I am being judged or people want to make an example of me for whatever purpose they see fit.

I despised being in high school; this was my beginning of being a victim of being bullied. I thought when I left home this type of treatment was the norm for me. Which led to me being emotionally, physically and completely abused and for years I lived as the victim. I had huge pity parties and felt sorry for myself. The best advice my father gave me was to not sit around and feel sorry for myself keep moving forward. It wasn’t how I fell it was how I got myself up that mattered.

During this time, I didn’t get angry at God, I believe I lost faith but, I didn’t blame him.

What I found years later is God would surround me with a compassionate family; my church family. God used my church family to help heal me. They helped me to find a way to forgive; forgiving set me free. He also brought into my life a man who learned over time to love me completely and unconditionally.

I have also realized the Lord blessed me with 3 beautiful children who are now adults who have through the years shown me that they are my redemption. They have taught me that I can have days when my world is falling around me but, the Lord is with me during these times.

In the end because of Job’s patience everything he lost he gained back and he received even greater blessings than before. His friends however were rebuked for adding to Job’s suffering by their false assumptions and critical attitudes.

The prayer I often think of is from Psalms 23 (NIV):

1. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

2.  He makes me lie down in green pastures he leads me beside quiet waters,

3. he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake

4. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

5. You prepare a table before me in the presences of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

6. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.