Category Archives: Faith

Is It Warfare?

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We must learn to live in the tension between the real and the ideal.
It is in the tension that the beauty of salvation is seen.

~a paraphrase from Andy Stanley

When he said that yesterday, I felt more grace flood my soul than I have felt in a very long while. For someone to recognize the tension between the real and ideal, and then allow for a “less than perfect” reality … Well, I haven’t heard that kind of grace spoken much recently.

Another gracious word from a discussion over the weekend:

Satan calls you by your sin.
God calls you by your name.

And that’s when I remembered, this is warfare.

The names I’ve been called reveal the disappointment others feel toward me.
And the names I’ve called myself reveal my own disgust.

It feels like a flesh and blood battle when flesh and blood people are speaking the words.  But, I must remember that we do not war against flesh and blood.  Satan can speak through people, without them even realizing they are being used.  Remember Peter?  One moment he’s declaring Jesus is the Christ and the next, Jesus tells him to “get behind me, Satan!”

It wasn’t that Peter turned into Jesus’ enemy, it’s that he didn’t understand the Father’s plan for Jesus’ life. And in his misunderstanding he spoke.

We do this all the time when we assume we know what God is doing in someone’s life.  We imagine we can see where they need to be headed, and yet, only God knows the plans He has for each of us.  He is the One working out our salvation for His good will.  He is the One empowering us to do the “good works” He has planned for us to accomplish from the foundation of the earth.  He is the One who sees all the intricate details of each of our lives and is directing our paths as He sees fit.

Remember, Beloved, when others speak untruths concerning you, when you are “labelled” as they see fit, know that is not My name for you.  I call you Beloved.  I call you Redeemed.  I call you My Child.  Stand firm in the armor I’ve given you.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,
but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness,
against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy in the time of evil,

so that after the battle you will still be standing firm.
Stand your ground, putting on the sturdy belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness
For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News,
so that you will be fully prepared.
In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan.
Put on salvation as your helmet,
and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Pray at all times and on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all Christians everywhere.
~Ephesians 6:12-18

The Name of the LORD

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Does a name matter?  When I’m called something other than Michelle, I do not respond.  It is not my identity.  Names are given for the unique individual created…for the personality of the one being named.

Sometimes we do a lousy job of naming our children.  We don’t even give a thought to whom they may be, but to what sounds good to our ears.  Biblical names were not chosen by what would tickle the ear.  Biblical names were given to express the characteristics of the one named.

God revealed Himself through His Name.

The God of the Bible is…

Elohim  —  Our Creator Who said, “Let US make man in OUR image”

El Elyon  —  God Most High

El Shaddai  —  God All-Sufficient

El Roi  —  The God Who Sees

Adonai  —  Lord and Master

Jehovah  —   LORD

Jehovah-Jireh  — The LORD our Provider

Jehovah-Shalom  —  The LORD our Peace

Jehovah-Tsidkenu  —  The LORD our Righteousness

Jehovah-Mekkodishkem  —  The LORD our Sanctification

Jehovah-Rapha  — The LORD our Healer

Oh, so many names — more than I’ve listed — reveal the character and  attributes of our eternal, infinite, transcendent, and HOLY God.

Our God, the God of the Jewish people and the God of the Christian, IS the same God.

That truth offends so many people of both faiths.  But, when we see what scripture teaches, the OLD and NEW Testaments of God, we see Jesus is the Son of the Father, who is in Heaven.  The Great Shepherd who leads His flock to still waters is the Good Shepherd who searches for His lost sheep.  The Rock upon which we stand is the Stone of Stumbling which causes offense.  Our righteousness and our sanctification is found in the Name of the LORD.

The scripture teaches us:

The name of the LORD is a strong tower;
The righteous runs into it and is safe.
~Proverbs 18:10

For You are my rock and my fortress;
For Your name’s sake You will lead me and guide me.
~Psalms 31:3

My God, my Rock, in whom I take refuge,
My shield and the horn of my salvation,
My stronghold and my refuge;
My Savior,
You save me from violence.
~2 Samuel 22:3

For You have been a refuge for me,
A tower of strength against the enemy.
~Psalms 61:3

When the LORD called Moses to return to Egypt and bring His people out of slavery, Moses questioned God.  He wanted to know by whose name — by whose authority — was he to speak.  We read:

Then Moses said to God,  “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?”

God said to Moses,  “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”

God, furthermore, said to Moses,
“Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel,
‘The LORD,
the God of your fathers,
the God of Abraham,
the God of Isaac,
and the God of Jacob,
has sent me to you.’
This is My name forever,
and this is My memorial-name to all generations.
~Exodus 3:13-15

God declared the name LORD as His memorial name to all generations.  He is known to ALL GENERATIONS by the name Yahweh.  Such a sacred name that the Jewish people will not speak it.  In English we have given the Hebrew tetragrammaton of YHWH the transliteration of Jehovah.

This is the name Jesus spoke when questioned by the Pharisees.  They became so enraged that they took up stones to kill Him!

Jesus said to them,
“Truly, truly, I say to you,
before Abraham was born,
I am.”
~John 8:58

God is known by His Forever Name — I AM  — to all generations!

Jesus is the Great I AM!  Emmanuel — God With Us!!!

In the Book to the Hebrews we are given this explanation:

Because God’s children are human beings––made of flesh and blood––Jesus also became flesh and blood by being born in human form. For only as a human being could He die, and only by dying could He break the power of the Devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could He deliver those who have lived all their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.  We all know that Jesus came to help the descendants of Abraham, not to help the angels. Therefore, it was necessary for Jesus to be in every respect like us, His brothers and sisters, so that He could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. He then could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. Since He Himself has gone through suffering and temptation, He is able to help us when we are being tempted.  Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession.  ~Hebrews 2 & 3

 

What is the name of your God?

If you want to serve the God of the Bible,

His name is I AM.

I am the LORD! That is My name!
I will not share My glory with anyone else, or the praise due Me with idols.
~Isaiah 42:8

 

Real Life in Christ

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Since you have been raised to new life with Christ,
set your sights on the realities of heaven,
where Christ sits at God’s right hand in the place of honor and power.

Let heaven fill your thoughts.
Do not think only about things down here on earth.

For you died when Christ died,
and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.

And when Christ, who is your real life, is revealed to the whole world,
you will share in all His glory.

So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you.

Have nothing to do with sexual sin, impurity, lust, and shameful desires.
Don’t be greedy for the good things of this life, for that is idolatry.

God’s terrible anger will come upon those who do such things.

You used to do them when your life was still part of this world.

But now is the time to get rid of
anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language.

Don’t lie to each other,
for you have stripped off your old evil nature and all its wicked deeds.

In its place you have clothed yourselves
with a brand–new nature that is continually being renewed
as you learn more and more about Christ,
who created this new nature within you.

In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile,
circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free.
Christ is all that matters, and He lives in all of us.

Since God chose you to be the holy people whom He loves,
you must clothe yourselves with
tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.

You must make allowance for each other’s faults
and forgive the person who offends you.
Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love.
Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony.

And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts.
For as members of one body you are all called to live in peace.
And always be thankful.

Let the words of Christ, in all their richness,
live in your hearts and make you wise.
Use His words to teach and counsel each other.
Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.

And whatever you do or say,
let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus,
all the while giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

~Colossians 3:1-17

I haven’t always lived like this in my Christian walk.

Oh Father, make me wise through Christ’s words. Let me be a true “little Christ” as I follow after Your Son. Thank you, Lord, for bestowing upon me love, grace, and patience. Empower me to fulfill Your will. I ask in Jesus’ name, amen.

Embrace the Cross

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Then Jesus called the crowd, along with his disciples, and said to them,
“If anyone wants to become My follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me.”
(Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23)

When we preach that Christ was crucified,
the Jews are offended, and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense.
(1Cor. 1:23)

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me;
and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
(Gal. 2:20)

Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
(Gal. 5:24)

We know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be destroyed,
and we might no longer be enslaved to sin.
(Rom.6:6)

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him.
(Rom. 6:8)

Since Christ lives within you, even though your body will die because of sin,
your spirit is alive because you have been made right with God.
(Rom. 8:10)

May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
(Gal. 6:14)

“And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.”
(Matt. 10:38)

Embrace the cross
Where Jesus suffered
Though it will cost
All you claim as yours
Your sacrifice will seem small
Beside the treasure
Eternity can’t measure
What Jesus holds in store

Embrace the love
The cross requires
Cling to the one
Whose heart knew every pain
Receive from Jesus
Fountains of compassion
Only He can fashion
Your heart to move as His

Oh, wondrous cross our desires rest in you
Lord Jesus make us bolder
To face with courage the shame and disgrace
You bore upon Your shoulder

Embrace the life
That comes from dying
Come trace the steps
The Savior walked for you
An empty tomb
Concludes Golgotha’s sorrow
Endure then till tomorrow
Your cross of suffering
Embrace the cross
Embrace the cross
The cross of Jesus

Miserably Failing People

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But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

… Weaknesses are with me for the whole journey.

Paul was particularly thinking of persecutions, but how much more does this passage apply to human frailty, brokenness and hurt? How essential is it for us to be broken, if Christ is going to be our strength?

When I am weak I am strong.

Not, “When I am cured,”
or “When I am successful,”
or “When I am a good Christian,”
but when I am weak.

Weakness- the human experience of weakness- is God’s blueprint for exalting and magnifying his Son.

When broken people,
miserably failing people,
continue to belong to, believe in and worship Jesus,

God is happy.

~The Internet Monk
Read the whole article…it just might change your life…
😉

His Promise of Peace

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“One of the great wounds in life is the shattering of relationship — having a friend who turns on us and reverses shalom or what the Bible calls peace.  Betrayal is the experience of being set up, violated, and then discarded.  It is being used by someone who violates our dignity and then is unmoved by our pain.

Such betrayal, for whatever reason, isolates us in loneliness, doubt, and shame.  The connection we once assumed and enjoyed becomes a web of awkwardness.  We don’t know whether to speak to the estranged friend when our paths cross, or simply pass with eyes averted.  To the degree there is avoidance, suspiciousness grows.   If there is conversation, it is constrained and tight, marking the contrast to the way it once was.  This is the soil where blame shifting and slander can grow like robust weeds.

The memory of how-it-once-was burns a deep and hollow spot in the heart.  Memory haunts and self-doubt grips.  Why did it end?  What did I do wrong? Why does my friend no longer like me? The intense shifts between angrily blaming the other and cutting oneself with the shards of self-doubt are exhausting.”  ~Dan Allender

Allender speaks clearly of the chaos in the heart and mind when betrayal has been experienced.  It is a lack of peace in our deepest parts.  How…how, in those moments, do we consider Jesus?  How do we stand firm on the Rock when our minds are haunted with memories and self-doubt?  The constant cutting of oneself with the shards of broken relationship is not only exhausting…it leaves one bloodied and crying out for relief.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.  Walk with me and work with me–watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.  Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.

Jesus says I can live light and free.
Jesus says I can walk in unforced rhythms of grace.
Jesus says I can have a real rest and recover the life He wants me to live.

These are the promises Jesus gives to those who will follow after, and learn from Him.

Who is Jesus?  He is a true friend.  He does not “set us up, violate, and then discard” us.  He does not make promises He never intends to keep.  He is the one who sticks closer than a brother.  He is a husband to the forsaken bride crying in the wilderness.

He loves with an everlasting love and He gives an unshakeable peace.

Betrayal is soul-wrenching.  Its never-ending shattering peace gives way to many doubts and unanswerable questions, unless…

Unless…

You turn to Him.

Go to Him.
Lay down your burdens and confusion,
Your pain, and your doubts,
Your fears, and all your tears,
Your woundedness…

All of it.  Lay it down…at His feet.
Bow down and consider Jesus.

“For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake,
But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you,
And My covenant of peace will not be shaken,”
Says the LORD who has compassion on you.

“Come unto Me all you who are weary and heavy-laden,
And I will give you peace.”

A New Heart — A Right Spirit

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“I’m learning the insidious ways of denial.
For myself, I’ve needed to believe I was ‘good’ and did not recognize my ability to fall.
To see my depravity, up close and personal…ugh.”

~Me…from an old comment thread

Maybe it’s a need we all have, to believe we’re better than we are.
To hide from the disappointment and shame of living on this side of Genesis 3.

Our ability to self-deceive is frightening.
Most of the time we don’t even know we’re doing it.
We blame others for the sin in our own lives.
Or, we hide behind coverings of our own making.

The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?
~Jeremiah 17:9

To begin to see the motivations of the heart is to take a frightening journey into the inner workings of the soul.

Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it flow the springs of life.
~Proverbs 4:23 (NASB)

The springs of our lives flow from the heart.
If the heart is deceived and desperately sick, how can the source of our lives be clean?
A spring does not pour out fresh water and bitter water from the same opening, does it? ~James 3:11

Above all else, guard your heart,
For it affects everything you do.
~Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)

The world tells us to follow our hearts.
“If it feels good, do it.”
But our hearts are the problem!

We want what we want when we want it,
and we’ll stop at nothing to get it.

I speak from experience…
Unfortunately.

No one wants to feel pain day-in-and-day-out. We search for something to satisfy. Food. Alcohol. Drugs. Sex. Relationships. Success. Video games. Clothes. Busyness. Anything to make the pain go away for awhile…

We tell ourselves it’s nothing. It won’t hurt to indulge…just a bit.  And before we know it, we’re: obese, alcoholics, addicted to pornography, promiscuous, in an affair, climbing the corporate ladder, walking over anyone to get to the top, spending hours in front of a screen in a fantasy world, buying more and more things to look better, staying busy with anything to stave off the pain…instead of looking for Real Life.

This is the state of our being since the Fall.
We all live on the other side of Genesis 3.
Then the eyes of both of them opened, and they knew they were naked;
so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Have you ever seen what happens to a leaf when it dries out? That shriveled-up crunchy thing can’t cover nothin’! So what do we do? We gather more and more leaves and sew together our “covering” every day —  maybe many times a day — so people can’t see how very naked we are.

Our “coverings” won’t work.
They are only shriveled-up leaves.

Then…they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

We are cowering behind leaves as we hide from…
What is it we are hiding from?

Our self…each other. The memories…the shame.
And…The Only One who can help us.

They heard the sound of the LORD God …
and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God …

Are you hiding?

Are you ashamed when thoughts come to mind?

Is your covering not really covering anything?

Our hearts are deceptively wicked.
We need new hearts.
We need a perfect covering.

“If you only knew the gift God has for you
and who I am,
you would ask Me, and I would give you living water.”
~Jesus
(John 4:10)

Do you want a new heart…one that has clean water pouring forth?
Do you desire The Living Water of God?
Do you want Jesus?

Here’s a prayer of repentance you can pray.
He is faithful and just and will forgive you of all your sins.

He will give you a new heart.

Have mercy on me, O God, because of Your loyal love!
Because of Your great compassion, wipe away my rebellious acts!
Wash away my wrongdoing!
Cleanse me of my sin!
For I am aware of my rebellious acts;
I am forever conscious of my sin.
Against You – You above all – I have sinned;
I have done what is evil in Your sight.
So You are just when You confront me;
You are right when You condemn me.
Look, I was guilty of sin from birth,
a sinner the moment my mother conceived me.
Look, You desire integrity in the inner man;
You want me to possess wisdom.
Sprinkle me with water and I will be pure;
wash me and I will be whiter than snow.
Grant me the ultimate joy of being forgiven!
May the bones You crushed rejoice!
Hide Your face from my sins!
Wipe away all my guilt!
Create for me a pure heart, O God!
Renew a right spirit within me!
~Psalm 51:1-10

Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst;
but the water that I will give him will become in him
a well of water springing up to eternal life.
~Jesus
(John 4:14)

Mysteries Revealed

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God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise;
God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;
So that no one might boast in the presence of God.

He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus,
Who became for us wisdom from God,
And righteousness and sanctification and redemption,
In order that, as it is written,
“Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
~from 1 Corinthians 1

Know this first of all,
That in the last days mockers will come with their mocking,
Following after their own lusts, and saying,
“Where is the promise of His coming?
For ever since the fathers fell asleep,
All continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.”

For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice
That by the word of God the heavens existed long ago
And the earth was formed out of water and by water,
Through which the world at that time was destroyed,
Being flooded with water.

But by His word
The present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire,
Kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved,
That with the Lord one day is like a thousand years,
And a thousand years like one day.
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness,
But is patient toward you,
Not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
~from 2 Peter 3

Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men:
“See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones
To execute judgment upon all,
And to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds
Which they have done in an ungodly way,
And of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”
These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts;
They speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.

But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand
By the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ
That they were saying to you,
“In the last time there will be mockers,
Following after their own ungodly lusts.”
These are the ones who cause divisions,
Worldly-minded,
Devoid of the Spirit.
But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith,
Praying in the Holy Spirit,
Keep yourselves in the love of God,
Waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.
~From Jude

Bands of Love

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Some of the scriptures He has led me to recently:

I took them up in My arms; but they did not know that I healed them.
I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love.
I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks.
I bent down to them and fed them.
Hosea 11:3

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6

I know, O LORD, that the way of human beings is not in their control,
that mortals as they walk cannot direct their steps.
Jeremiah 10:23

I will lead the blind along an unfamiliar way; I will guide them down paths they have never traveled. 
I will turn the darkness in front of them into light, and level out the rough ground. 
This is what I will do for them. I will not abandon them.
Isaiah 42:16 (NET)

But I’ll take the hand of those who don’t know the way, who can’t see where they’re going.
I’ll be a personal guide to them, directing them through unknown country.
I’ll be right there to show them what roads to take, make sure they don’t fall into the ditch.
These are the things I’ll be doing for them–sticking with them, not leaving them for a minute.
Isaiah 42:16 (MSG)

He has blocked my ways with hewn stone; He has made my paths crooked.
Lamentations 3:9 (all of chapter 3…wow!)

Though the fig tree may not blossom,
nor the fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
and the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
and there be no herd in the stalls –
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The Lord is my strength;
He will make my feet like hind’s feet,
And He will make me to walk upon my high places.
~Habakkuk 3:17-19

I’m letting these words sink in.
His bands of love will bind this broken heart.
I will recognize His healing thus far, and ask for courage to continue on the path.

“Follow Jesus, I will follow Jesus. Anywhere He leads me, I will follow.”

Please, continue praying for me.

Redeeming the Scars

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God’s passion is to weave glory out of broken shards
of past sexual abuse,
an affair,
financial disaster,
a divorce,
death,
or any other experience of powerlessness or sin.

Everything hinges on the past.

“The scars of sin and death can’t be erased, but they can become the weather-beaten marks of character that bring depth and intrigue to what would have been merely a beautiful but ordinary vase.  God’s passion is to weave glory out of broken shards of past sexual abuse, an affair, financial disaster, a divorce, death, or any other experience of powerlessness or sin…
What was yesterday?  The loss of a job, victimization, bottomless grief, pointless sacrifice that brought little good?  Was it deep struggle, intense drama and terror that eventually brought us to our knees and to the face of God?  Everything hinges on the past.  We will project the past into every new moment and either repeat our past themes of victimization or marvel at the work of God in redeeming us in spite of our questions and doubt.”
~Dan Allender, The Healing Path

Everything hinges on the past.

If I’m beginning to repeat myself, please be patient.
It takes awhile for some things to sink in.
Especially if you’ve been living in shame-bound systems for fifty years…

We will project the past into every new moment and
EITHER
Repeat our past themes of victimization
OR
Marvel at the work of God in redeeming us

Oh, I have spent so many years allowing the theme of abuse to be projected into every moment of my life.
I desire to move forward. I really do.

However, before I can, I must allow the deeper work of healing to wash over me, to cleanse me through and through. Jesus prayed for us to be sanctified in the truth. His word is the Truth. Paul reminded the church that Christ died “so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.”

I want to see the work of redemption in my story.  I desire to see the Truth of the Word working in my life.  I press forward recognizing betrayals can be redeemed through faith, powerlessness can be infused with hope, and ambivalence can be turned to bold love.  These are the great gifts of redemption and restoration: Faith, Hope, and Love.

Many scars have formed over the years.  I pray they will not be as numerous as the freckles… but, honestly,… there could be more.

This path of healing I am choosing to take may be a long one, so…

“I ask you right here please to agree with me that a scar is never ugly. That is what the scar makers want us to think. But you and I, we must make an agreement to defy them. We must see all scars as beauty. Okay? This will be our secret. Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived.”   ~Chris Cleave, Little Bee