My Restored Gift…

My Spiritual Walk with God

As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it. For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation. (2 Cor. 6:1-2)

There was a time when I strolled along this journey of life distant from the wonder that it is a gift from above. Minutes turned to hours; hours to days, days to months and then the years would accumulate without a second thought. I now find time is precious and unimportant all in the same breath. I know this to be true, because in the blink of an eye my existence can change course without warning. This was the case almost three years ago when the gravity of heaven lifted my sweet Angel Girl to her eternal…

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Crucified with Grace

41We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” 42Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” 43And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:41-43)

Many young Christians struggle with the gift of grace. I know this as I reflect on my own early resistance to a relationship with Christ.  My battle in those dawning days stemmed from a false need to buy salvation in some way. This transaction included the so-called works of faith or the good deeds performed to prove I was worthy of such a Divine gift.

This passage concludes the account of the two criminals that were with Jesus in His final hours, one full of pride and self, and the other penitent and humble. The humble man acknowledges his sins and realizes his punishment is just. He then accepts Jesus as the Son of God by asking for his memory to remain alive in the Kingdom of heaven. By this acceptance, Jesus assures him “…today you will be with me in paradise.”

We do not know the history or even name of this first Christian, but we know his salvation unfolded in an instant. There was no time for good deeds to be performed or perfect prayers to be recited. He confessed his sins and accepted Jesus as his savior. He was then awarded the Divine grace of the Lord and a passage into the paradise kingdom of heaven.

We must come to know that Grace is a gift through our acceptance of Jesus Christ. As this acceptance takes hold of us, our heart will yearn to perform the works of faith in and around this temporary home out of willingness not of obligation. It is through this same acceptance that we are awarded the door into our eternal home in heaven.

May God Bless You and Give You Grace

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Newtown Tragedy

My prayers go out to the children, families and all that have been effected by this tragedy, and as a bystander, I am deeply effected. As I think of these events, it is impossible for me to wrap my head around them, so it is with my heart that I ache. I pray for peace to find its way through the devastation that remains. There are no answers, only prayers. So with a heavy heart, I will pray and know that God’s grace is sufficient.

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Why the Trouble?

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

The journey I have traveled to this point in my life has had its bouts with trouble. Some minor, some major, some of my own making and some by happenstance. The point is, trouble comes in all shapes, sizes and from limitless directions; there is no free pass that exempts anyone from its inevitable nature. So as this unavoidable nuisance lingers in waiting, what is its purpose and why must we encounter the sting it produces.

There is progress to be made from the pain brought on by trouble of any kind. Of course, this is easy enough said, but as we are in the midst of the ailment at hand, our senses are blurred, and our focus cannot seem to find clarity. It is at this time that our anguish is at full strength and our ability to realize the temporal nature of its existence; if there is purpose behind it, we are in no place to realize it. I do know there is a life cycle to these attacks of trouble, and we must go through them, we cannot go around them or brush them aside as if they never occurred.

Trouble will strengthen us as we rely on the Lord to pull us through the depths of whatever they may be. Jesus states very clearly the trouble we experience will be of this world. No matter the severity, even if it follows us to the grave it is only temporary. He overcame the world and broke us free from the chains that bind us here. The price He paid was written before its fulfillment, which wholly assures me of the Divine plan God is unfolding.

So as we encounter the trials of life, we must remember their temporal nature. They will strengthen us as we look to God to bring us through them and find peace. And, above all else, they do not have the power to follow us beyond and into our eternal home.

God Bless You and Give You Grace!

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The Surface Below…

There are many who shrug off the existence of God due to the evil that has rolled through the history of the human experience. On the surface, there is a good argument for “if there is a God, how could…” or “if there is a God, why did…” You can fill in the blank with any black spot in history and almost hear the civil cries denouncing the existence of the All Mighty or accusations of His injustice.

I referred to “on the surface”, because that is what many of us react to, and this does not account for what lies beneath. If a ships captain navigates an iceberg based on what he sees, rather than the majority mass below, he places his life and the lives of others in extreme danger. And, I believe we follow a similar peril by reacting to the surface conditions that we are permitted to witness without accounting for what we are unable to see.

God Himself allowed His own Son to be killed. Not just killed, but spit on, mocked, tortured and ultimately crucified, which in itself was one of the most inhumane, cruel rituals to bring on a persons last breath. We learn this through Mark’s account in chapter fifteen:

19Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. 20And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him. (Mark 15:19-20)

It was never in God’s plan to rescue Jesus from this event. There was life beneath the surface that had to be exposed to bring upon the saving grace offered to man.  Even those closest to Jesus were not awarded the truth of this event until three days later and the masses would not understand for many more. In truth, what existed below the surface is still being brought to life in new believers even to this day.

So as we go forward and witness tragedies and misgivings, we must not blame God for His allowance of such things. We must be patient as we confide in Him to help bring purpose and understanding to the surface from the depths below.

God Bless You and Give You Grace!

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The Sin within Me…

19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. (Rom. 7:19-20)

The battle of the flesh is a struggle that I cannot escape. Within this war lie temptations, judgment, and the origin of selfish ventures. It is the sin that resides within me that is lured to the deceitful enticement of these godless attractions.

To flee from these unwelcome invitations is not enough to derail their intention. To do so simply strengthens their focus and they attack from a different angle. The enemy feeds on this resistance as a challenge, that I myself do not have the strength to combat. This go-it-alone misstep is the weakness this culprit needs to derail the virtue of my faith and lead me astray. There is a vicious cycle that occurs when I wrestle with this ongoing conflict, and the constant conclusion is that I am unable to conquer these quests on my own.

As a believer, I must acknowledge that sin resides within me, but I must also acknowledge that the Spirit of Christ resides within me as well. It is in the Spirit of Christ that I must find strength to face the collusion of sin and its allure to the godless attractions that are ever present around me. Rather than flee from these distractions, I must align with the Spirit and face them head on and diminish their destruction and purpose.

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death (Rom. 8:2)

As this constant battle rages on, it is where my attention rests that prevails. I choose to face these ongoing enticements with the power and grace of Christ to strengthen my communion with His Spirit. This and this alone will begin to extinguish the damage brought on by the sin of my flesh.

God Bless You and Give You Grace

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My Thankful Everything

In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thess. 5:18)

In the wake of tragedy, this passage can easily appear blurred and unapproachable. As for the obvious blessings in life, a grateful heart rises up and becomes somewhat effortless, although at times, the act of being thankful is overlooked. So to shrink the distance between these two extremes becomes a challenge.

The loss of my daughter Angel has taken my encounter with tragedy to the extreme edge of my senses. How can such an experience prompt me to give thanks? After all, this event falls within the everything the apostle Paul was speaking of. In all honesty, I cannot be grateful and give thanks for this tragedy. I must draw in deeper and focus beyond to expose the blessings birthed from this heartache.

One of these blessings is that I see Angel’s reflection in all that I do. This is a gift God has given me through the ashes that remain. My perception has purpose and simple things take the lead as to how I navigate the course ahead of me. The sadness in my heart will remain for my dear Angel. But, it is through this sorrow I am reminded of the blessings born from them, and it is through these means I can be thankful.

As I go forward, the everything in my life is all-inclusive, whether that of a simple meal, an obvious gift, or the blessings given birth on the other side of tragedy. I must be attentive to the efforts I put forth in my offering of gratitude and discover the affirmation in all that I offer. The Lord has taught me these truths through the loss of my Angel, and for that, I am thankful.

May God Bless You and Give You Grace.

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