Do you ever feel as if you’ve been able to get a glimpse into heaven?
Yesterday, I attended a memorial service for the husband of a dear friend. The sanctuary, or auditorium as we call it at our church, was packed (Covid style). The love and joy in the room, with I would guess, almost two hundred people, wasn’t a feeling, it was a Presence.
God’s presence filled that place as we sang and listened to music and the wonderful tribute to a son, brother, father and husband that loved well and was so loved.
We tasted a glimpse of heaven.
It’s been that kind of a week for me.
Each day, the Lord has given me a new revelation – or a glimpse into his kingdom, his ways in heaven.
Here are some of the insights God whispered to me this past week. Perhaps they will resound in your heart as well or maybe he’s spoken the same things to you.
The light in me (Christ) drives away darkness.
No matter what things look like, God is setting us up for success.
Don’t live in reaction to darkness; live in response to Jesus.
You can’t attain anything good by your own effort – only by the Holy Spirit’s work in you.
The enemy intends to harm me with the illness I’ve encountered, but God intends to use it for great good. I’m learning to be bold and live in the power and authority He’s given me. My being forced to step back from our business has allowed my husband to lead. My husband and I are growing in unity as we learn to come against this illness together.
God wants us to lead others out of slavery and into worship.
When I fear disappointment, I sow sparingly which means I will reap sparingly.
The enemy is afraid of us when we step into what God calls us to. I offer people hope for their healing and redemption of their lives through Jesus. No wonder the enemy wants to take me out.
We become like what/who we worship. I want to become more like Jesus and model a yielded (to Jesus) life.
Quite a list, right?
Not every season is like this, but I believe God is pouring out his spirit on us. He loves us. He wants to be heard by us. When we ask him to speak, he will give up wisdom and let us have “the mind of Christ.” We can be transformed by the renewing of our minds. (I Cor.2:16 & Romans 12:2)
And finally, something I’d never thought of before in this passage:
“The Lord had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.” Exodus 12:36
When the Lord called his people out of Egypt, they were freed from slavery, but they also gave up the ways of living they knew. They gave up everything, but God gave them so much more, not just of himself which would have been enough, but also the material possessions of the Egyptians.
With God, there is always more for us. What is he calling you out of?
January has been the month of celebrating the importance of human life.
Various articles, memes, posts, and videos have shown that life matters. We’ve heard it from every angle. The over-arching theme is that human lives are significant.
All life should be equally important.
This is what the Bible says about life in Psalm 139:
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.”
Given that, perhaps you can understand my passion when I read this article quoting our new president about life and abortion and detailing the censoring of said articles. (You can read it for yourself here.)
And when I saw the following quote by Rep. James E. Clyburn (D – S.C. I decided I had to speak out. It was time to tell part of my story.
“Today marks the 48th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, which gave women the right to control their own bodies.”
Rep. James E. Clyburn
Right to control? How about the responsibility to control our bodies?
“…each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable…” I Thes. 4:4
Women, including myself, have the responsibility to control our bodies. Once we’ve made a choice (that’s the part of “pro-choice” I agree with) to engage in sexual relations, we have now relinquished our rights if that union has created a child. At that point, we have the responsibility to protect that child. Because that child has the right to be born and live the life ordained by their Creator.
As soon as an egg is fertilized by sperm, the gender of the child is decided.
Within three weeks, a baby’s heartbeat can be heard.
At six weeks, fingers and toes are developing.
After only two months, a baby’s form can be clearly seen – head, eyes, legs, arms, fingers, toes and internal organs are visible.
Some proponents of abortion argue that rape is a reason for choosing abortion, but even if the woman had no choice in the creation of the child, that fact does not remove the rights of that child to life.
Believe me, I understand the challenges unplanned pregnancy brings.
At twenty-five, I was going through a messy divorce because my husband decided he couldn’t give up an adulterous relationship. As a mother of two very young children, I chose, in that season of heartache and poor judgment, to become sexually involved with a dear friend. In spite of using necessary precautions, I found myself pregnant.
It wasn’t the first time.
I had married my husband five years earlier because I became pregnant after a night during which I was unable to prevent his advances. We married in spite of my miscarrying the baby. (I saw that baby who was only a few weeks old.) So when my friend insisted we marry when my divorce was final, I panicked. I wouldn’t be forced into another marriage. He was a kind man, but in a bad place both in his budding career and in his emotional state. My mindset wasn’t any better.
I didn’t see any way that as a single parent with no current source of income, I could carry and raise a new baby along with my two and four-year-old. But I had made a choice to become involved sexually, and that meant I had a responsibility to this child.
I prayed. God could take this little one home to heaven and “spare” me the challenge of carrying and raising him. Or, I could carry him despite the ramifications of what it would mean to my life, my future career, and my reputation. I could give him up. Somewhere was a family longing for a child who would be blessed by this baby.
In the end, I kept my baby boy. It’s a longer story than I have space for here, but I will never regret my decision to carry and keep my child. He is a grown, married man with two children of his own now. How much I could have missed!
I, as well as people I know, were told that the life carried was nothing more than a blob of tissue. I can imagine their heartache. Whether they knew what they were doing or didn’t, God as grace, forgiveness, comfort, and healing for all of us.
I know from my own experience as well as research that the “blob” statement isn’t true. It’s a lie that believing in live means we don’t have choices. We make a choice when we partner in creating a life by our sexual action. We can also choose to protect a life, rescue a life, or adopt a life.
But, we can’t make a true choice if we don’t have all the facts first.
Like these facts about trafficking, another “lives matter” issue:
300,000 – Children in the U.S., at least, prostituted annually (ndaa.org)
12 – The average age that a trafficked victim is first used for commercial sex (DHS)
3 – Florida’s rank in the number of calls received by the national human trafficking hotline (Polaris Project)
83% – Of sex trafficking victims identified in the United States were U.S. citizens according to a study of U.S. Department of Justice human trafficking task force cases. (Office of the Attorney General of Florida)
Less than 250 – Shelter beds for commercially sexually exploited children in the U.S. (ECPAT-USA)
Are you as shocked as I was when I read those statistics?
How can we be appalled at this and accept that 2,363 children die by abortion (2016 statistics) each day?
That is, if life matters.
Maybe we should think about what that means.
I believe all life matters. I believe what God says, that it begins at conception—for that is the way he planned it. And I also believe that we are spiritual as well at physical beings so as Dabney Hedegard states:
“…life doesn’t really begin until I meet my Maker.”
In the end, Jesus is the way, truth, and life. It is with him that we will spend eternity if we choose to believe him. Every sacrificed baby will be there in heaven with Jesus. Every rescued life has a chance to live now and forever. Our true life will begin when we meet Jesus in heaven.
God puts it this way:
“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life…” Deuteronomy 30:19-20
On this last day of January, the life awareness month, will you choose life?
Today is also the last day to get my novel, Dangerous Ground, which deals with sex trafficking, for FREE as the Kindle version. But every copy, whether digital or print, that is purchased will be supporting organizations like A21 and Bridging Freedom that are fighting to end sex trafficking and give aid to victims. All the proceeds of the book will be donated so you can know that you are contributing to saving a life by buying a book for you and/or a friend. While today is the last day for FREE, the annual proceeds from Dangerous Ground will always be donated no matter when you purchase it. Please pass the word.
For the past fifteen years, I’ve held a vision in my heart for a new kind of educational experience. Over the years, I’ve added notes, quotes, ideas, and cost analysis scribbles to the folder housing this dream. I’ve pushed it aside as life interrupted, picking it up again only to find the timing wasn’t right. But life is changing – has changed – now, right?
I believe God is doing a new thing.
For many of us, dormant dreams are awakening in us as God breathes on us with new life. The shaking of the world as we’ve known it has caused us to sit up and take notice. Are we going to keep living in the old ways, or will we shake off the dust and arise to something new?
“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19
For me, while I’m still writing books (When the Wind Blows is coming in September!), and my husband and I continue to help people plan their financial journey, God has also downloaded this exciting educational project called Discovery House.
Every day we each have hundreds of choices to make. Some minor decisions we make without much thought. What will I wear or eat? Where should I park my car? The blue plastic cup or glass?
Other choices affect us in bigger ways.
Should I spend the extra money for a new phone? Are we going out to eat—Chick-fil-A or Ruth Chris Steakhouse? Vacation this year? Put the kids in private school?
Then there are those choices that are life changing.
Go out with my married co-worker and not tell my spouse? File my taxes? Take another drink or those pills? Click on that site? Tithe? Lie? Cheat? Steal? Forgive? Give or take?
The choices we make determine the life we live.
One minor decision may not alter our entire life. Whether I wear jeans or shorts may make me more, or less comfortable depending on the weather, but otherwise will probably not lead to anything life altering.
However, for example, a small lie makes way for another and another until I begin to live in a pattern of exaggeration or avoidance or blaming which opens a door for more lies to cover my actions, get my own way, or secure something for myself. Eventually, lying can become a lifestyle of stealing, gossip, cheating, hiding secret addictions, or living a secret life.
I think you can see where I’m going with this.
Here’s the thing. I can easily say I’ve never killed anyone. But have I murdered someone with my thoughts of anger? And those murderous thoughts can lead to internal conversations that may erupt in speaking or yelling rudely to the guy who cut me off or the gal who didn’t get my order right. And eventually, harboring enough of them may come out in hitting that accompanies the yelling when my spouse says something I don’t agree with, or my child is annoying, or the dog pees on the carpet.
Let’s be real.
The truth is, God created us to live a blessed life in relationship with him. He gave us everything good and longs to lead us in prosperous ways. Despite man’s choice to defy him and usher sin into the world, God still had a plan to save us from ourselves and our destructive behavior.
We’re all prone to it.
Don’t pretend you wouldn’t rather have a Krispy Kreme donut than a kale tonic. (That may be an easy choice for some. I personally love kale tonic, but when I came downstairs at 3:30 a.m. and saw the box of Krispy Kreme donuts my youngest son left on the counter with a note saying Happy Mother’s Day on them, I could have easily eaten the entire half dozen. Not that a one-time splurge will alter the entire course of my blessed life, or maybe that IS part of my blessed life—but you get the idea. Enough. Said. Where is that box?)
See how easily we can digress?
Fill in the blank with your own diversion into less than positive behavior that leads to eventual destruction. Be honest. We all have those areas of wrong choices. Or, put another way, sin.
There. I said it.
The word we don’t want to acknowledge because there’s something about saying (or writing) SIN that makes us cringe and feel shame.
What if SIN means:
Sudden Impulsive Nature
Selfish Immaturity Naturally
Sometimes Indignant Narcissism
Slothful Ignorant Negativity
Self Interest Negotiations
God is perfect. He created us to be also. We are made in his image. Anything else is sin.
And we get to choose. Be like him or not.
If we choose to be like him—loving, kind, gentle, patient, humble, joyful, peace-loving, good, trusting, wanting the best for others, giving, hoping, persevering, faithful, and self-controlled—then we will live well.
If not, we’ll live in destructive patterns that will hurt us and others.
The bad news is that none of us can be perfect like God no matter how we try. (Thanks Adam and Eve.) Even if we do good things most of the time, none of us are righteous. And we can’t count on us doing something good enough to make us have a relationship with our perfect heavenly Father.
The good news? God planned for that.
He sent Jesus.
He says he doesn’t take pleasure in the death of anyone. He doesn’t want any of us to die as a result of our sin, so he sacrificed his son, Jesus, to take all our sin on him so we could have a new way of living and be covered even if we still made mistakes. Through Jesus we can have a new heart, a new spirit, a new life. That’s why we say, “born again.”
He wants us to live. Live well. Live abundantly. Live in freedom and peace. Live in love.
If we turn away from the choices we’ve made that bring destruction (repent), we can live.
God wants us to live.
Today, will we choose to live?
Rid yourself of all the offenses you have committed and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, people of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!” Ezekiel 18:32
“90 % of what I do, I do to piss people off because it
I overheard this bit of a conversation from a senior student during class as I was substitute teaching one day, and it made me think.
Yes, I admit I was disappointed to hear this sentiment.
But I also thought about my own motives and attitudes. Why do I do 90% of what I do? Is it productive? Helpful to myself or others? Is amusing ourselves the goal of life or is there something more?
While this may be a flippant statement made by a still maturing teen student, it gives us a window into much of today’s society. Where has the value of life gone? Are we so complacent by our lives, pursuits or goals that we live simply to get by or amuse ourselves?
Personally, I don’t believe that is what God intended when he created us. The Bible indicates that we were made for greatness, not simply amusement. God has intentional purpose for us each day.
A few weeks ago, I had a wonderful conversation with my eldest son.
During the course of our discussion, he made two comments in relation to life and career:
If you are unwilling to experience discomfort, you will not experience success.
It’s okay if I keep failing as a result of trying to grow.
Since our chat, I’ve thought a lot about that conversation and the wisdom of those two statements. I think they apply to life in general, but I’ve specifically thought about them in regard to my writing career.
Sometimes, I must really push myself outside of my area of comfort in order to find get to the place I really want to be. With trepidation I pressed myself to:
write my first book
attend writer’s conferences
start a blog
write a second book
have my work critiqued (several times)
re-write both books numerous times
learn, practice, learn more, practice again
seed out the advice of established authors
attend a mentoring class
read a lot (okay, so that part is fun)
For some people, those things may be easy. For others, the same activities may feel impossible. Looking back on the journey, I see that I am becoming more successful as I am willing to be uncomfortable. Because we’re only uncomfortable for a little while, until we try, learn and become comfortable again with our new knowledge or abilities.
And even though I’ve failed a lot doing the above things, I’ve been growing. So the failure is part of the process and actually something to be embraced, not avoided.
I want to see my life in the same light.
Pushing outside my comfort zone, trying, failing, learning, failing, and growing.
From the moment I answered God’s question affirmatively, my life became one revelation after another. Suddenly, I saw wounded places in my heart that I had never noticed before. I had a new understanding about my abuse and recognized the truth that God was showing me. I learned so much about myself and how I related to others. Then, as I began to change, my family changed. Not all my circumstances changed, but the way I saw things did, so the circumstances were no longer the main focus of my life. Jesus was. The things God showed me opened up areas of my life to his comfort and healing.
But when I first said yes to God’s question about getting well, it seemed like my life spun out of control!
Because it did. At least, out of my control. But that was the point, to get my life out of my control and into God’s. It was difficult and frightening at first because I had been comfortable in my old ways even though they were destructive. Everything I had learned to rely on, all the patterns I had employed to protect myself and all the defenses I built to make myself feel secure were actually hindering the better situations God had for me. I needed to learn new, different ways to live.
Kind of like when my kids were very young and learning about money.
They would proudly show me their five pennies and I would attempt to exchange them for a nickel. No way! They would adamantly refuse. All they could see was that five was more than one. It didn’t make sense to them to trade something they thought of as more for only one coin. Then, I would try to give them a dime for their five pennies. That was worse in their little minds! Now they perceived I was trying to steal their five coins for one coin that was even smaller in size! They could not grasp the concept of the dime being twice as valuable! Even though I had doubled the value, they felt I was trying to rip them off when I was actually trying to give them something twice as good. Until they learned more about money, they had a terrible time trusting that I meant them good, not harm.
Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that God has a plan for our future and it is to bring us good, not harm.
We can trade what we have made of our lives, even the destructive areas that seem safe to us, for something exceedingly better. We simply have to let go of our “pennies” and let God give us something twice as good! But until we learn more about God, we may have an awful time trusting his intentions.
In the beginning, I felt scared, shaky and unsure of everything in my life and heart.
I felt like crying, and sometime screaming a lot of the time. I was tempted to fill the void created by letting go of my old patterns. Before I fully learned new patterns of living, the empty places screamed at me to replace them. For me one of the biggest replacements was busyness, but it could be alcohol, food, shopping, reading romance novels (all of which I once battled) or any number of “comforts.” I would say “yes” to every request or perceived responsibility and take on more and more until I exhausted myself.
If I accomplished a lot, I felt good about myself and when I was busy I didn’t have time to consider the messed up places in my heart. That old pattern still threatens sometimes when my past fears get triggered. But now I’ve become aware of that tendency and instead of letting it control me I embrace the opposite. When I feel compelled to take on more than is reasonable, I recognize that old pattern, and I take a break or a time out, maybe even a nap.
God has a double portion of good for us if we are willing to relinquish our control.
Letting him lead us may seem crazy because his ways are opposite of the patterns we’ve employed to make ourselves feel safe. But if we will agree to his making us well, he will have twice as much good for us than what little we’ve been clinging to.
What have you been clinging to that God wants to exchange for something better?
I may be an amateur, but my friend, Margaret Feinberg [www.margaretfeinberg.com], has a new book and 7-session Bible Study calledWonderstruck: Awaken to the Nearness of God[www.margaretfeinberg.com/wonderstruck](releasing Christmas Day)—a personal invitation for you to toss back the covers, climb out of bed, and drink in the fullness of life. Wonderstruck[www.margaretfeinberg.com/wonderstruck]will help you:
Recognize the presence of God in the midst of your routine
Margaret weaves a captivating story which reveals the heart of God around every bend. Searching for a deeper understanding of God, she asked him to show up in a fairy tale way bringing wonder and amazement; and he did. Wonderstruck describes all the ways our hearts were made to thirst for the heart of God.
I’m reminded of the vast ability of our God to do unimaginable things in us, through us and for us.
All it takes is the merest thought of a prayer that God would reveal himself in spectacular ways, and our open eyes, ears and hearts to see them. He’s waiting to awe us. He longs to.
So where have you seen the wonder of God in your life?
No one paid me for this endorsement. I’ve heard Margaret speak at two of our church’s women’s retreats, and I’ve already read three of her other books. So I gladly accepted a download of the first three chapters of Wonderstruck in order to tell people more about God and Margaret. I can’t wait to read the rest!
Everything I’ve written so far on my blog relates to my present and my future; the amazing things God has done in rebuilding a life. He has restored what he originally intended for me, and I dwell in joy and gratefulness.
But once, my life held fear, despair and brokenness.
Nightmares from being molested by neighbor children as a five year old and raped as a young woman plagued me. Panic clutched at me in the night. An unseen force kept me silent and terrified. Betrayal in my first marriage, and the devastation of a second marriage to a man driven by fantasy crushed my hopes and dreams. Exhaustion and suicide were my constant companions. I felt lost and alone until a woman whose past had been redeemed by the Lord, grabbed my hand and held me steady.
When I filed for a divorce the second time, it was my only option—a last ditch effort to save all our lives, but I felt ashamed. Friends told me I needed more hope and faith that God could do miracles. My maturity in Christ was questioned when I decided not to “rise above” the choices of my husband and stay with him. My choice was about faith and maturity, but not the way most people were thinking. I embarked on a journey in which I had to let go of the past and my dreams, and cling to an intimate relationship with Jesus instead. I learned to live a life of faith as I trusted God to do the impossible; heal me and my children and give us a new life, an abundant one.
At first, I trusted no one.
As a Christian woman, I felt ashamed to have anyone find out that I had been divorced—twice! But we found a safe place within our church family where few people questioned me. We were loved and accepted right where we were. No one pressed me for details. No one judged.
After several years, I began to realize that there must be others who were suffering like I had. Perhaps they were standing in line near me at the grocery store or sitting next to me in church. I wondered if they felt lonely and misunderstood like I had? Were they afraid as I was? Did they wonder what people thought of them when they listed the various last names of their children or admitted they were separated or divorced? Did they cringe inside when well-intentioned people inquired about their husband? Did they want to hide? Were they wishing they could explain their situation so someone, anyone would understand, while at the same time wanting someone to understand without having to explain?
As the years went by, I became bolder in telling people about my past.
It began to dawn on me that silence was deadly, and Satan wanted things to remain hidden. His goal is to make us feel ashamed so we don’t feel we can come to God. He wants us to fear others’ opinions of us.
My story is not much different than thousands of women all over the world. Some have suffered far worse than I, and others may not even realize they are suffering. For years I didn’t understand my own entrapment—the perspectives that kept me stuck in a place of death rather than life.
I long to offer hope where there is none.
Perhaps by sharing the redemption of my life as well as the shattered pieces of my past, a ray of light will break through someone’s darkness. Maybe a lifeline can be grasped. Regardless of how you feel, you are not alone.
Are you someone who is crushed by your past or even your present? Do you know someone who is feeling stuck in their life? Can I help you?