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Secured by God

I’ve had a lot of conversations recently on salvation, mine in particular. Whenever I used to tell people my testimony, I would always start it out with, “Well, it’s pretty boring…” But one day I was really convicted by that. I realized that ANY time God takes a dead person and breathes new life into them and gives them the gift of salvation, it’s INCREDIBLE! It’s MIRACULOUS and AMAZING! Who am I to call God’s work boring??!

So I’m here to tell you a story of Amazing Grace. To be quite honest, I don’t remember a time when I didn’t believe in Jesus as my Savior. I know there must have been, but I don’t recall that. I actually remember being in 1st grade or so and my Sunday School teacher told us the gospel and asked who all in the class believed it. Well of course I did! So I raised my hand. And then she had all of us close our eyes and pray “THE” prayer after her. You know what I mean. And I literally remember sitting there and telling God that I thought this was silly and didn’t understand why I needed to pray this because I was already saved. Those 6 year old minds. ūüôā

It’s only been recently that I’ve realized what a huge blessing I’ve had all these years. I know A LOT of people that struggle with doubt and I never did growing up. Ever. God says it. That ends it. It’s true. God is who he says he is. It was pretty simple. I never doubted the Bible or my salvation.

2018 was hard. God and I alone know it. And let me tell you folks, it’s extra hard to be on three medications that cause depression. A sinful heart is enough to handle without that! And I struggled a lot last year. In my loneliness and desperation to be close to God, I worked so¬†hard. I worked myself to a frazzle praying and doing my devotions because I so desperately wanted to feel that Presence that was once there.

And there came ONE awful day. The first and only day in my life where I have questioned my salvation. Suddenly I looked at how hard I was “working” and verses and sermons flew through my mind and one single thought crept in out of nowhere, “You don’t understand salvation at all.”

I have been through many bad days but none as bad as that one. I can’t even describe the hopelessness and darkness that I felt on that day. And I felt powerless against it. No matter what Scripture I read or what I forced myself to think, nothing helped.

It wasn’t until very late that night that God gave me the thought I needed:
“You know what? I don’t understand it. It’s waaaay beyond me. But even if I wasn’t saved before, God can save me right now.”¬†With a rush every assurance came back. And with a immensely grateful heart I thanked God that my salvation was secured by him and not by me!

As I reflected the next day, I wrote in my journal that I never wanted to have another day like that again. It was terrible and confusing. But I can see how God has used that one day. I have NEVER been able to understand how people doubt God or salvation. But now I have a small point of reference, of empathy, of feeling. A way that connects me with my friends and helps me pray for them better, with a hugely humbled heart.

So take heart friends! I know the journey can be hard and thoughts creep in! God is ALWAYS faithful- that’s the ONE thing I’m positive of.

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2019 in salvation

 

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Marveling with the Wise

Welcome to my favorite day of the whole year, Christmas Eve! I mean, sure, Christmas is great, but Christmas Eve is where it’s at people. And my favorite part of my favorite day are Candlelit Christmas Eve services, which I will get to enjoy tonight with my family- I’m sooooo excited!

Do you have a favorite Christmas movie? I don’t watch Christmas movies except during this time so it’s a tough job to cram them all in right now. And while I have many, MANY ones that I love, my absolute favorite is The Nativity Story. There’s a very particular reason I love that movie and it’s all about the wise men. This is the best scene of the whole movie:

Hmmm…gives me the chills. When that last magi finally realizes who is before him and falls to his knees to present his gift. He knows what sacrifice has been made- God has come in human form. The frankincense points to another sacrifice- Jesus dying on the cross for us. It’s a beautiful picture.

In my devotions the other day I read this verse, “For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel.” John 5:20 The verses immediately after it talk about salvation and God bringing life back to those who are dead (again, salvation!)

And sometimes, I wonder if we have lost our marvel. Do we look at God’s incredible work in the manger and on the cross and take it for granted? Or are we like those wise men and fall before Christ in wonder and worship?

Merry Christmas, friends! May we all remember why we are celebrating today and tomorrow and marvel at our Lord!

 
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Posted by on December 24, 2018 in Christmas

 

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My Case Against “The Case for Christ”

When I was in middle school or so, I read The Case for a Creator. And although a lot of the science was (and probably still is) completely over my head, I really enjoyed the book. I loved all the reminders about how creation points to the Lord. So I was pretty excited when I heard they were making a movie on one of the other books by Strobel, The Case for Christ. I haven’t read that one, but I was eager to see the movie. Although a little anxious too because, let’s be honest, Christian movies tend to be cheesy and have bad acting.

My whole church was excited, actually. We even did a movie night for it and hung posters up all over town. I ended up working nursery that night so I didn’t watch it but wasn’t too upset because by that time, it was on Netflix and at my fingertips.

When I finally did get around to watch it, I have to admit, I was a little disappointed. It wasn’t because the movie was cheesy or the actors were bad, it was the message. If you haven’t watched it, this might spoil it so here’s your fair warning.

The wife gets saved at the beginning but all throughout the movie the meaning of that is somewhat vague. I was willing to let that hang in the open because the focus was really on Lee anyway. So what really got me was at the end when he admits that the evidence for Christ’s existence, death, and even resurrection is too overwhelming to ignore and he gives in. He admits that he believes God is real, is sorry for hurting his wife and family, and that is portrayed as what everyone needs to do.¬†I kept waiting for salvation to be explained and things to be cleared up for the unsaved watchers but it never came! I mean c’mon! Christian Mingle had a better salvation message than that! (Yes, I watched it- don’t judge. I had the stomach flu and was really bored.)

Salvation is MORE than believing in the existence of God and even Christ. There are many people who believe that because the evidence IS too much to ignore or because- Duh, of course I believe in God- it runs in my family. But those same people are sadly not on their way to heaven and it’s wrong to give them a false hope that they are. Salvation includes heart change, repentance, forgiveness, and an indwelling of the Holy Spirit. So I take issue with narrowing it down to simply admitting that God is real.

A lot of people will probably say I’m being picky. Yes, I am. I think we need to be picky about a movie that SO many people talked about as a great way to lead others to the Lord. It may be great as an encouragement to those who are already saved- a way to confirm the faith they already have, but I don’t believe it should be used as a salvation tool.

If you want a salvation tool, may I recommend the book of Romans? I have found that much more helpful. ūüôā

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2018 in movies

 

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What are you afraid of?

This is kind of a follow up to my last post so if you didn’t read that one yet, you might want to start there.

I shared before how it’s hard for me to find time to get a deep enough conversation going so that I can witness to my co-workers. BUT I do have one thing going for me. At my old job, we had these “Random questions of the Day” that we would ask each other in the office. It was super fun and they ranged from really shallow, (If you could only wear one set of clothes for the rest of your life, what outfit would you pick?) to fairly deep, (What is one passage of Scripture that you don’t understand or confuses you?)¬†

I found that it’s a really good way to get to know another person and to start conversations so on the very first day of my new job, I started asking “Random Questions of the Day.” It’s to the point now where some of my co-workers will very determinedly find me and ask ME what the question is if I don’t ask them first. It’s also pretty handy because it’s an intentional way to get to know another person without them really realizing it.

So, one day last week my question that I thought of just happened to be, “What is something you are afraid of?” I had gotten several answers such as spiders, the dark, etc. I was close to being done for the day and excited to leave because I had several places to be that evening and needed to leave right after work. I was hurriedly cleaning up some dishes in the meat department when one of my co-workers (who is probably the most persistent about the Question) came in to tell me his answer after thinking about it for a while.

“I have my answer.”

I looked up absent-mindedly. “Oh ok. What is something you are afraid of?”

“Dying.”

I can’t quite explain the feeling that came over me. It felt like someone had smacked me upside the head with a board but at the same time a door was flung open right in front of me. Considering all the other answers I had received (and that my answer was snakes), this was totally unexpected. I believe I whispered, “Oh, Jesus”¬†in my head. Outwardly I was cool as a cucumber.

Feeling the weight of my words and knowing exactly where they would lead me, I asked, “Why are you afraid of dying?” He explained that he had done a lot of dumb stuff and could have died.

Me: “Do you know where you would go when you die? What do you think happens when you die?” I have already had conversations with this young man (he’s actually only 15) and knew that he was unsaved and didn’t know anything about the Lord.

Him: Well, with me it could go either way, I guess.

Me: …slowly…¬†“What do you think is the determining factor as to where you go? What determines if you go to heaven or not?”

He did not have an answer. I inhaled slowly and shared the only way to get to heaven. Standing in the meat room, washing dishes, I told this young man about salvation and hope. I told him there was only one way to be rid of a fear of death.

And then he was called to the front and it was time for me to clock out. But I have been praying for him and for the other girl who was walking in and out of our conversation, listening the whole time. Praying for God to change their hearts.

Hmmm…how very simple it was and yet how very hard at the same time. I felt like my face was on fire and my brain was going to explode. In that moment, I truly did not see a person standing before me but an eternal and LOST soul! And I think the weight of that was a little overwhelming. But praise God for putting some words in my mouth for once! What an answer to prayer!

[Side note: As I was rushing quickly out of the store because I was then running late, one of the other girls asked me what the Question was. I quickly told her and she instantly replied that she was afraid of not being able to achieve greatness in life. I hesitated for a moment and I’m pretty sure my thought was, “Lord, I LITERALLY do not have time, strength, or energy to do this again today!” Fortunately these questions are also easy to come back to and I plan to follow up on that one too. What a difference one small, intentional, question can make!]

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2018 in witness

 

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How Very Blessed

Sometimes, I don’t feel blessed. I can hear your gasp and see your shocked face…but it’s true. Sometimes, I feel like my life is awful and I just don’t want any more uncertainty and I want to go home. There are days when I just want to lay in bed and cry all day. Days when the problems of my friends get me down and inject stress into my life. Days when I long just to have my baby brother tell me he loves me and to feel his arms around my neck. Days when I don’t feel blessed.

Now, I realize of course that I am blessed. I have a wonderful family and I have a baby brother TO miss. I don’t have many of the fears and problems of my friends. I have a home to visit. I have tons of people who sincerely care for me. I have plenty of food and a warm place to live. I am blessed.

But, you know what? That isn’t enough. History would tell of millions of people who had all that and more but who weren’t happy or content. They were missing the greatest blessing of them all. The blessing of salvation.

But I have that. I have the assurance of things hoped for and I know the evidence of things not seen. I know my name is written down in the Lamb’s Book of Life and that his hand of grace and mercy is upon me in salvation. I know that the struggles of this life are merely a shadow and that the glory of eternity is mine. I know that my Lord is faithful and just to forgive my sins and that he remembers them no more. I know that my God reigns forever and that he listens when I call to him.

Sometimes, I don’t feel blessed. And sometimes, I just need to be reminded of how very blessed I really am.

 

 

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2014 in blessing

 

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Country Christmas

One of the main barns

One of the main barns

Here at the farm, we have just started Country Christmas.  Four evenings in December we take hayride tours around the farm and the birth of Christ is portrayed by actors in a play format.  At the last stop, the gospel is shared with the audience.  The evening is completed with pony rides, a petting zoo, Christmas tree sales, hot chocolate and cookies.

Usually, we have around 500-600 people come each evening. ¬†500-600 people who get to hear the gospel that night. ¬†Yesterday, it was different. ¬†We had a big snow storm come through and in the office we got calls all day long about people wanted to transfer to another day because of the weather. ¬†One call included 50 of our volunteers who weren’t going to make it. We were getting somewhat discouraged. ¬†Some people wondered if it was worth doing it at all.

Last night, our total count was 135. 135 people who got to hear the gospel proclaimed. ¬†It was worth it. ¬†It would have been worth it if ONE person was able to hear and see Christ. ¬†Is it really up to us to decide who gets to hear God’s Word? ¬†Is it up to us to decide how many people is enough for us to proclaim the gospel?

I pray that those 135 people last night were changed by what they saw and heard and that God will begin a work in their hearts to salvation. ¬†And now it’s time for us to get ready for the 500 people coming tonight!

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2013 in Christmas

 

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Encouragement

The other day, we got an interesting and rather long phone call in the office.  The other secretary took it but we all heard it since it was so quiet. It was quite obvious form the conversation that it was a displeased camper Mom and that it had something to do with Catholicism.  When she got off the phone, we all just looked at her expectantly.

First off, the lady was not mad at all. She just wanted to know it this was a “safe” camp for Catholics to attend. Do we intentionally try to undermine Catholic beliefs? ¬†Her daughters have been campers for years but something had happened this past summer. Her daughter came home full of doubts as to some of the Catholic rituals. Also, she had been telling her friends in her Catholic school that evolution was not correct and was promoting Creationism. ¬†She also said that when her daughter was at camp they discussed the pope and her daughter wasn’t convinced she really agreed with the idea of a pope anymore. ¬†The mother was concerned; her daughter’s faith was being torn down.

Now, this mom didn’t want anything said to the counselor because she really liked her and didn’t really think she was intentionally doing this.

What she didn’t know was that I work in the office……and I was her daughter’s counselor.

I remember that week so clearly. It was the only week I had older girls (age 11-12) and I had at least 3 who were Catholic. So of course it was a topic of conversation during Bible Study. Not because I brought it up, but THEY did! ¬†(As a side note: ¬†I don’t remember talking about the pope at all that week. But she certainly could have formed her own opinions!) ¬†We did talk about who we should pray to and such things as that. I mean, when we started to study the Bible, these girls had questions. “If the Bible says that, then why do we do this?” ¬†I always stressed that YES you can be a Catholic and be saved! ¬†Of course you can! ¬†Also, God is the only one who can see a person’s heart and I can’t tell anybody if they’re saved or not.

That’s what I stressed to all my Catholic campers. ¬†Apparently, this Mom thought that we were anti-Catholic here when we aren’t really. ¬†However, what she meant for a slight reprimand, got me so excited!

I got to see some more fruits from camp. ¬†How this girl was challenged by Scripture and how it applies to her life! ¬†It’s encouraging to me and…

I’m going to pray for this young lady.

 

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2013 in camp

 

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