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He is My Son

Deuteronomy 3:16 (NIV)

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you

I know the Lord is always with each and everyone of my children, when I think of them and the way of life they are living I am reminded of their faith. This scripture is one I know the boys refer to from time to time. This story is about a mom and his youngest son.

Where do I begin….

Once upon a time there was a mom who loved her son so very much! She did everything with him. She would watch all the quirky TV shows, cook, grocery shop and just spend good quality time with each other.

One day the handsome young man decided he would become a Marine. In shock and dismayed the mom decided with her heart she would allow her son to become a Marine for the United States. This mom was so proud of the decision her son made. She supported him unconditionally. The day she watched her son graduate from MCRD San Diego boot camp was one of her proudest moments.

Then she felt something missing something had changed. He was not her little boy anymore; he had grown up to become a fine young man who was eager to serve his country in any way possible.

Sure there were trials and challenges through boot camp but this young man came out on top. Through infantry training, schooling and relocating to his final duty station he grew up even more. Slowly her baby was slipping away… Sure he still loved his mother after all it was his mom.

But years earlier after high school before the Marine Corp a fair maiden captured his heart. The tall blonde with bright blue eyes had captured his eye and his heart. While away he missed her more and more- they say the heart grows fonder with distance, but what mom didn’t expect was for him to get married- then all the memories of her baby boy came rushing in. Her trips with him, the laughter in the kitchen and just them being together enjoying each other’s company was going to change. He was already living on the east coast- now he wants to get married.

Mom prayed, prayed and prayed some more even though her heart was heavy she again let her baby boy go again. This time so he could have a family with his wife. Mom knew in her heart long before a decision was made for them to marry this fair maiden would be the one who would fill his heart with love and comfort.

His innocence was captivating he was so eager to please and make others happy but knew in his heart this young lady would be the one! They make a plan and she becomes a Marine wife; then he is called out to go far away.

Very little contact mom has had since he left on a boat; mom prays at night her son is doing well. She prays he still thinks of her from time to time. Because this is what reassures mom that she is still loved, she has to put faith in the Lord that one-day mom will hear from her son that yes, he is okay.

You see mom is saying good-bye until later to another son. One who has grown up to be a man who doesn’t deter from a challenge. Since the age of 8 all he talked about was becoming an Airman. One who doesn’t become overshadowed by the challenges of the world. He is the one the younger brother looks up to and is always being challenged and pushed by the older brother to do better. This is what brothers do for each other. They support each other unconditionally no matter where they in the world.

Mom is asking God, why? Why do my sons, my children serve this country?  Then she hears the answer, like a wisp in the wind. Because, mom raised them to serve the needs of others. She raised her boys to help those who are not able to help themselves. She was an example they followed, she put others before herself. Sure every once in a while she wants to have her pity party but she doesn’t. She will trust in the Lord to take care of her children. She has surrendered them to the Lord. Thank you Lord for allowing mom to be the best mom she could to her children.

She faltered and failed many times but these two young men showed unconditional love for their mom. A love never failing, never ceasing but a pure example of unconditional love.

Mom has gone through a lot of changes in the past few months, and being a military mom there are certainly more to come. Now, she focuses on keeping the memories of the past from overwhelming her and looks forward to the day when she sees her two sons who proudly serve this country together again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Sing Praise to the Lord

It has been way too long since I last blogged.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about trials, storms, desert and just feeling alone.

My latest Facebook post was about who are we to questions the trials we come face to face with. I am reminded of the Apostle Paul when he was imprisoned the first time because he freed the slave girl Lydia of her demons. What did Paul and Silas do? They would sing Praises to the Lord.

Doing this is easier said than done. I am human after all. When faced with difficult situations I need to remember; don’t become emotional. Listen intently, find the lesson or opportunity I need to learn and always, give the praise and glory to the Lord because he has a message for me. By allowing these things to happen we are putting faith and trust in the Lord. We allow him to help us through any situation we may be faced with. I believe the Lord will carry me through the valley. He is going to find the way for us.

He knows of all our needs. This is why we need to learn and have more trust and faith in the Lord. Sure, we are going to fall but it is an opportunity to grow.

Phillipians 4:13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Rely on him and remember give ALL THINGS to the Lord good and bad. Seek out the glorious gifts of life lessons the Lord has in store for each of us.

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Unconditional Love =Forgiveness

Young relationships have a lot to learn about forgiveness and unconditional love. The greatest gift any child could give a parent is when they call and say, “I get it, I understand what unconditional love is.”

So let’s talk about the truth, forgiveness and saying I’m sorry.

John 8:32 Then you will know the truth and the truth shall set you free.

The truth can set us free. I use this statement to discuss the importance of forgiveness. Asking for forgiveness and forgiving.

Recently I ran into my husband with a laundry cart at the Laundromat. First words out of my mouth was, “I’m sorry.” this statement was the nudge I needed to write about forgiveness and how this relates to unconditional love.

No matter the situation when you say I’m sorry you are asking for forgiveness. I have found recently I have been saying these words a lot because even though my words are unintentional I do not like to cause pain to a person. If I see someone hurting, I want to help by wishing I could absorb their pain. So I say I’m sorry you feel this way is there anything I can do to help ease the pain. This is a way of showing someone empathy and compassion.

I have also found that when you show empathy a person is more likely to trust you and will allow you to take a sneak peak into their heart. Unconditional love, allowing the person to have ownership of their feelings which leads to the beginning of healing.

In 2006 I wrote, “Often times this is how forgiveness works, having the power to forgive without being asked is a sign of unconditional love for others.”

Have you ever had to forgive someone with out them asking for forgiveness? For me this was the hardest thing to do in my life. I had a person in my life who was very abusive to me and one day with the help of my loving congregation I learned who to set myself free and I ended up saying out loud I forgive you.  There was a long list of people I had to forgive, those who disappointed me and not being there for me when they should have been. The ones who assumed they knew what I was going through and called me horrible names. I learn my normal was not normal at all, I was living the life of being a victim. one day my Pastor’s wife pointed out to me I was living my life as a victim and when was I going to allow God to take over the healing and move forward. The first step was to forgive my abusers. Once I did this I felt for the first time I was set free. I would make strives to serve the Lord and teach others the importance of forgiving.

Ephesians 4:32 Be Kind and compassionate to one another forgive each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Jesus is our example of mercy and unconditional love as our relationship with Jesus grows we want to become more like him.

Two Point

  1. Ask for forgiveness to be forgiven will allow us to unload those burdens.
  2. To give forgiveness is to be set free.

I building a relationship with Christ we want to be more Christ like. We become a better person by making changes . Remember what God did for us.

John 3:16 “for God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal love”

This example of God’s love demonstrates unconditional love and forgiveness.

We believe that there are sins that are so horrible and we will never find the grace of God’s love however in Psalms 103:12 As far from the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Remember to Say I’m sorry and forgive just as the Lord would want us to do with a spirit of unconditional love.

Salvation

For some reason this topic has been on my mind a lot lately; I have also been reading a lot from the book of Psalms especially from Psalms 51. (David wrote Psalms 51) This is one of the critical points when king David has realized everything he had done was for his own selfish need. He sinned by having an affair with Bathsheba and then he also had her husband murdered and covered it up.

King David did horrible things but here is where he begins to ask for forgiveness:

 Psalms 51:2 “Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from sin.”

We are familiar with the story of King David and his short comings yet the Lord still used him for His purpose.  How? by showing us his mercy and love by forgiving King David for his sins.

So, thinking about ourselves; we have days we are just on top of the world; we don’t miss a step and keep on walking forward with the plan to please the Lord. Reminding ourselves of our true purpose. Then one day we will sin, sin is a little word with a huge impact, it means the same as doing something wrong which is against anything you believe to be righteous and true. I know I fall short on a daily basis; falling short could be as simple thinking a thought which is inappropriate or wishfully thinking harm would fall upon someone.

When we were born; we were born with sin. Our natural tendencies are for our own selfish ways rather than to please the Lord. When Jesus died on the cross he took on all our sin for our own salvation. King David didn’t have this at the time; he had to turn to the Lord himself. I can imagine him on his knees praying these words to the Lord.

Psalms 51: 10-12 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a stead fast spirit within me

11) Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.

12) Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.

With our salvation; we ask for forgiveness by praying through “His son Jesus Christ.” We can become free of sin once we ask for forgiveness and truly want this forgiveness. God wants to have a close relationship with us and the only way to prevent the crushing wave of guilt is to ask for his forgiveness. By doing this we are also building our relationship with Christ and this is where the foundation for salvation begins.

So when we find ourselves distant from the Lord this is the time we want to remember:

  1. We turned away from Him (Through sin)
  2. God has proven time and again he will mercifully forgive us
  3. Salvation comes through accepting Christ as our savior
  4. Ask for repentance

Remember Jesus’ words

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only So, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

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.