Victory in Jesus

Yesterday, as I was sitting in the car, my mind began to wonder. Sometimes when that happens it’s a good thing, a creative idea will come to me or I’ll remember something I had forgotten. Other times, when my thoughts drift off, they’ll jump onboard the “Fear/Anxiety Train.” Unfortunately, I was on my way to the plush cushioned seats of Worry.

So that’s where I was mentally.

As my eyes glanced at the radio, I noticed what song had started to play…”No Longer Slaves” by Bethel. Just to give you a quick preview, the chorus of this song says:

I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God

From my mother’s womb
You have chosen me
Love has called my name
I’ve been born again into your family
Your blood flows through my veins

Yeah, pretty awesome. I started to sing the words and the Spirit reminded me of something really awesome. Are y’all ready?

The same power that raised Jesus from the dead, lives in us! Like, WHAT. I think many times we gloss over this, or don’t understand the actual meaning. But y’all, the power that raised our Savior from the grave? That brought him back to life? LIVES IN US.

“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you,” ~ Romans 8:11

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth,” ~ Acts 1:8

It made me feel so empowered! And I could feel my fear being washed away as I meditated on this thought. Life can be really hard, and once in a while it’s wise to remind ourselves of whose we are. Children of the Most High. Princes and princesses of the King of kings. Creations of the Bright and Morning Star. Co-heirs with Christ (aka God of the universe). Friend of God.

And because of that, we have the privilege of being the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). God’s Spirit, to those who believe, resides in us. We can live in the victory of Jesus’ death and resurrection! We are truly free! In the life of Jesus, we have complete confidence of triumph. When we go through trials, struggles, pain, and suffering, let us remember that at the end of the day, in God, we are victorious! As Paul said, “perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

Perhaps you fight battles that no one knows, save for yourself and our Lord. Maybe you’re struggling with something that you think no one can possibly understand. Or it could be that right now your life is going perfectly. Everything is coming together exactly as you thought it would, and you couldn’t be more excited! Whether or not you find yourself in a season of waiting or one of great joy, let us never forget that in our Savior, we are VICTORS. CONQUERS. OVERCOMERS. WARRIORS.

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ,” ~ 1 Corinthians 15:57

As we celebrate this fourth of July, remember where the true freedom lies. Between biting into a juicy hamburger and dipping your glistening silver spoon into a bowl of cold, soft ice cream, do not forget the high price that Jesus paid. When you watch the fireworks explode in beautiful displays of red, blue, and white, thank God for saving us from a lifetime of misery and sin. He set us free, and His freedom is the most valuable kind. Because even if the world goes to hell, the government crumbles, and everyone is in a panic, as Christians, we can still stand tall and say with confidence that we are free.

We know the truth and we have been delivered. Let us never forget the priceless gift of being a Child of God. We are free.

~ Southern Dreamer

Resurrected King ~ Part 2 of an Easter Story

***Author note: similar to biblical fiction, I am writing portions of this as if it were a novel to be read. I have pieced together how it could have occurred to the best of my ability. As far as I have researched, nothing I have taken the artistic liberty with, contradicts Scripture but please understand, that some parts I have had to assume or think of how it might have happened, in order for the writing to flow better. Take it with what you will, but obviously my writing is not the Word of God, only something written by a daughter of the King, trying to do His sacrifice justice***

“And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it,” ~ Matthew 28:2

Mary Magdalene, Salome, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James (*there very likely could have been others, but these are the specific names given in Scripture, across the four Gospels*) went to the tomb of Jesus. Their hearts were heavy and weighted with sorrow at everything that had occurred. With them, they had spices in order to finish the burial preparations, which had to be left undone because of the Sabbath.

“Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” questioned one, turning to look at her companions for an answer (Mark 16:3). However, they were as much at a loss for a solution as she. Even still, they continued on.

They walked towards the tomb, grieving and remembering all that Jesus said. Sweet-smelling flowers greeted them when they entered into the garden (John 19:41), bringing in an aroma of life and hope that was desperately needed. Since they had left before dawn (Luke 24:1), there was barely any light to guide their way, and as such, the women made sure to walk with caution. As they approached, an earthquake caused the ground to shake and tremor! (Matthew 28:2)

What can this mean? thought one of the women, wondering what a second earthquake in only three days could signify.

And as the earthquake occurred, an “angel of the Lord descended from heaven” and rolled back the stone! He had white clothing, shining brilliantly.

The guards were terrified, and in such a state of fear (surely, they thought, death is near!) that they, “became like dead men” (Matthew 28:4). An entire troop of Roman guards reduced to a lot of unconscious men!

Image result for women at the tomb of JesusEntering into the tomb, the women expected to see the body of Jesus. The small amount of light that was able to enter into the grave, allowed them to see something shocking. Linen cloths, used to wrap the body, were folded neatly – with the face cloth in a separate place from the others (John 20:6-7). His body was no longer there!

Outside the tomb, Mary Magdalene wept. And looking within the burial, she saw two angels sitting where the body of Jesus had been.

“They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus,” ~ John 20:13-14

“Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” asked Jesus (John 20:15).

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Because of the early hour, it was difficult to see because the sun had not fully risen. Thinking him to be the gardener, because of the tomb’s location, Mary replied, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Saying this, she turned back towards the inside of the tomb, where an angel had begun to speak. Tears still splattered down her cheeks, grief very much real.

“Do not be afraid for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Why do you seek the living among the dead? Come, see the place where he lay. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise,” said the angel (*taken from both Luke 24:5-7 and Matthew 28:5-6*).

Then, a single word caught her attention. Her name. “Mary.”

Turning back around, Mary realized that it was Jesus. Alive! Right before her! The last time she had seen him, he had been brutally whipped, beaten, and nailed to a cross. Red had painted his skin in crimson. She had watched him die…and now, here he stood! “Rabboni!” (John 20:16)Image result for women at the tomb of Jesus

Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” (John 20:17).

The other women came out of the tomb, minds racing with this information. Their hands shook in astonishment, bodies trembling from the magnitude of it all (Mark 16:8). In a mix of emotions, each woman was filled with both fear and great joy from all they had heard and experienced (Matthew 28:8).

As they came out, Jesus greeted them.

Eyes wide and some, if not all, filled with happy, overwhelming tears. They came closer, bowing and touching his feet in worship. Oh the joy! To see him again! How wonderful, how marvelous.

“Do not be afraid,” said Jesus, “go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

~~~

I love this. Out of anyone he could have chosen, Jesus picked women to be the first ones to see him risen from the dead, and as the designated messengers to his disciples. The true greatness of this can be more appreciated, when we realize that back then, the testimony of women as witnesses was not always believed. Yet, he still chose them.

As a young, Christian woman, I’m so thankful that portions like this are included in Scripture, because it shows one example of how Jesus saw men and women – equal. He treated their witness as concrete and sound as a male’s, and in that day and age, this was uncommon.

(and maybe a tiny part of it had to do with the fact that women love to talk and he knew they would spread the word) xD

 As I celebrate Easter, I remember everything that our Savior went through – the rejections, the beatings, the whippings, the guilt and shame though he was innocent…dying on a cross. It amazes me that someone would willingly choose to do that for me. Heck, I don’t think I would do that for me; it’s mind-blowing.

Literally, I cannot compute why Jesus would do that. His unconditional love is so unlike human relationships that I find myself unable to comprehend it, and yet, I am so, incredibly thankful for his sacrifice and grace.

Let us never forget the very real sacrifice that our Savior went through, and always celebrate the fact that on the third day, death was DEFEATED and Jesus Christ rose from the grave!

~ Southern Dreamer

Darkness Fell ~ Part 1 of an Easter Story

“Die he or justice must; unless for him some other able, and as willing, pay the rigid satisfaction, death for death. Say heav’nly Powers, where shall we find such love, which of ye will be mortal to redeem Man’s mortal crime, and just th’ unjust to save, dwells in all Heaven charity so dear?” ~ Paradise Lost, John Milton 

Who will step forward? Will someone sacrifice the glories and perfection of heaven for the broken and trying life on Earth?

“He asked, but all the heav’nly choir stood mute, and silence was in Heav’n; on man’s behalf patron or intercessor none appeared, much less that durst upon his own head draw the deadly forfeiture, and ransom set,” ~ Paradise Lost, John Milton

Silence. The golden streets and tree of life. Silence. The heralds of angels and beating wings. Silence. The majesty of the Creator and the magnificence of heaven’s shining buildings. Silence.

Silence can say so much more than words.

Would anyone step in? Would someone take man’s place?

“And now without redemption all mankind must have been lost, adjudged to death and Hell by doom severe, had not the Son of God, in whom the fullness dwells of love divine, his dearest mediation thus renewed.

‘Father, thy word is passed, man shall find grace; and shall grace not find means, that finds her way, the speediest of thy winged messengers, to visit all thy creatures, and to all comes unprevented, unimplored, unsought, happy for man, so coming; he her aid can never seek, once dead in sins and lost; atonement for himself or offering meet, indebted and undone, hath none to bring: Behold me then, me for him, life for life I offer, on me let thine anger fall; account me man; I for his sake will leave thy bosom, and this glory next to thee freely put off, and for him lastly die well pleased, on me let Death wreak all his rage; under his gloomy power I shall not long lie vanquished; thou hast giv’n me to possess life in myself forever, by thee I love, though now to Death I yield, and am his due,'” ~ Paradise Lost, John Milton

All heaven silent, until the Son of God spoke. All mankind lost, until this moment.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord,” ~ Luke 2:11

He, who had come from heaven: perfect, beautiful, joyful, now came to Earth – to be among his creation, to do what no one else could.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin,” ~ Hebrew 4:15

Instead of a throne, he sat on the dusty, dirty ground. Insects crawling beneath; an ant biting him. Instead of a crown and robes of splendor, he wore the simple clothing of a carpenter. Blisters on his hands from working with wood; a splinter finding its way into his skin. Instead of angels singing praises hour after hour, he endured the ridicule of bullies. Name-calling, excluding him from activities, causing a bleeding cheek or egg-sized knot on his head. Instead of perfection, he came to the broken world. Temptation rearing its ugly head and the battle not to give in.

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“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God,” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:21

He had friends, family. Perhaps, he had a particular pet growing up that he was fond of. Maybe a sheep that would sneak into the house when it was not supposed to, or a baby chick that cuddled up by his bedside. He celebrated holidays with feasts and great fun. He experienced the growing up pains of being a teenager; the temptation though he did not sin.

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33 years.

And then, came the end of an old world and the beginning of a marvelous grace-filled one where death is defeated.

Let’s back-track though.

The arrest of Jesus.

“Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples,” ~ John 18:2

This one sentence has so much information. We learn two key pieces of information about his arrest, that make it so much more painful. The obvious one is that Judas – someone he had taught, ate with, and spent many hours conversing about various things – betrayed him. Secondly, let’s go back to this…”for Jesus often met there with his disciples.”

Putting it in our terms, this was their “hang-out” place. The spot they went to when they wanted to talk, escape the crowds, just be friends. So I don’t think it is too overly assuming to say that this location probably had a special meaning.

“And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.’ And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling to the ground,” ~ Luke 22:41-44

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I’m not sure if it’s because only Luke records it, or if I’ve just never noticed it in the other Gospels before, but I find it so interesting that it says, “and there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.” I wonder what this entailed. Did the angel encourage him in words? Remind him of the good that would come after? Give him something to eat or drink?

I think it is noteworthy to point out, that though the angel strengthened him…his pain did not go away. Right after, it says, “and being in agony.”

Yes, Jesus was strengthened, but his “cup” was not taken away. The struggle, the apprehension of what was to come did not leave. As the verse concludes, it becomes clear that he is under a tremendous amount of anxiousness. There is an actual, medical condition where one is under so much stress and anxiety that sweat and blood mix, creating, as Luke wrote, “like great drops of blood.”

There would still be more to come. Trials. Betrayals. Beatings – horrible, gruesome whips that came upon him again and again. Thorns – a mockery by them, shoving a crown of nature’s needles onto his head…blood pooling out. Humiliation – casting lots for his clothing, doing everything to try and destroy his dignity. Pain.

The nails. The cross. Dying the worst and most degraded form of death that could be done. How amazing of a Savior we have! I cannot compute this kind of love – unconditional, perfect, encompassing. Even as I write this, it blows my mind that someone would willingly choose to go through the most undesirable form of suffering for me.

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed,” ~ 1 Peter 2:24

Guilt. Though Jesus had done no wrong, he took the weight of our sins. Can you imagine? All of history. All of humanity. Every person that has and ever will live. That feeling, that sense of shame and guilt that comes with sin, he felt. Him, who knew no sin and lived a perfect life, experienced the ramifications of sin. The consequences, though he was innocent.

Imagine the worst crime you can think of – murder, rape. And then picture yourself having to feel the guilt and shame for doing that, though you did not.

Horrible.

In every way, the sacrifice of Jesus was brutal. It was emotionally taxing – friends betraying him, mentally draining – enduring the verbal assault, physically sapping – the most horrific, pain and death, and spiritually exhausting – when God turned his face.

Let’s go back to that place, that hour.

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It is the middle of the day; there are three crosses. Because it is the Passover, travelers are passing by and witnessing this dismal sight. There are soldiers, who prolonged his suffering by giving him wine vinegar. There is his family, weeping and in anguish over what has been done to him.

12:00pm. Noon.

Instant darkness. The light from the day vanished and inky blackness took its place. There was no electricity, and no backup generators. Perhaps someone found a candle, though I doubt they had one close by. Who would have thought it would be needed at midday?

The hours ticked by, time moving slowly. Seconds turned into minutes, seeming to stretch into infinity. What had happened? Why was it pitch black at noon? Would the light return?

3pm.

“And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit,” ~ Matthew 27:50

The curtain of the temple stood sixty feet high and thirty feet wide. It separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place, that only the high priest was allowed to enter once a year. At this moment, this instant it was torn in two. The separation between God and humanity had been breached.

The ground rumbled – an earthquake. Rocks were broken, split into pieces. The tombs opened up and the “bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised” (Matthew 27:52).

Jesus had died.

***will post second part tomorrow on Easter***

My Story

Slothilda Sloth ProcrastinationWell, this is probably waaaayyyyyy overdue.

XD A little procrastination gif for all my fellow procrastinators out there 😉 But, getting down to what this post is really about…my story. More of my testimony really. Feel free to grab a coffee or chocolate chip M&M cookies *coughnotthatI’vebeeneatinganycough* and read on.

Growing up in a Christian home, I’ve always believed in God. But it wasn’t until 2005 that my relationship with Jesus went to a completely different level. We were still living in Florence, Alabama then.

My parents had started to realize that something was wrong when I began to fall asleep at random times during the day, collapse during laughter or when experiencing excitement, and being unable to make it through school hours without going to sleep multiple times. My mom believed that I had narcolepsy, but I was six years old. Children “that young” did not get narcolepsy – or that is what everyone said.

When I went for my PSG, they said all I'd have to do was show up and sleep. Little did I know...: Yet, there were really only two choices: a brain tumor or narcolepsy. I went through multiple tests including blood tests, a MRI, EEGs, and an EKG. Once I was diagnosed, I had to go through additional sleep studies at University of Alabama at Birmingham. I spent a lot of time there during the next few years that included two more sleep studies. My world was suddenly changed and I had no control or understanding to stop it.

Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder, falling into the hyper-immune system illnesses. It results when for unknown reasons, the body attacks the cells that create hypocretin, which is a chemical that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Unlike many other cells, it does not reproduce – when it is gone, it is gone. I could not sleep through the night – only an hour at a time at the most, during the day I would fall asleep numerous times, and could never again go into deep sleep.

Cataplexy is a common side-effect of narcolepsy, though depending on the severity of a person’s narcolepsy, they may or may not have it. I happen to have one of the more severe cases, and as such, have cataplexy. Everyone has this naturally. Normally, when people dream their body goes into a natural state of paralysis to keep them from acting out their dreams. Because my sleep-wake cycle is so disrupted, my body thinks that I am dreaming whenever I laugh or experience excitement. This means that when that happens, my body goes into a state of temporary paralysis or muscular weakness. It looks similar to a seizure, but is very different in that the person experiencing it is completely alert to what is happening, and it usually ends in seconds or a few minutes.

During the first three years, my cataplexy was extremely severe. If I just had the thought – ‘I want to run’ – and would get excited, I would instantly fall to the ground. If I laughed just a little, the same thing would happen. To me, the worst were the nightmares. Narcoleptics, because of how disrupted our sleep-wake cycle is, instantly drop into dream state. Our bodies do not have time to gradually enter into dream state; it is instant. And this causes horrible nightmares. I would wake up terrified to go back to sleep for fear of dreaming again. These were not ‘I lost my homework, my dog died, or I fell off a cliff’ dreams. Mine night terrors. I was often aware that I was dreaming in my dreams. I remember as young as eight years old repeating every name of Jesus I could possibly think, while dreaming. And when I finally said it verbally – spoke His name – I would wake up. It never failed. His name has power, and should not be underestimated.

My entire life and the life of my family changed when I was diagnosed with narcolepsy and cataplexy. We all grew closer. I have a schedule for everything, every three to four hours I have to rest. My brother and I are best friends. I take medication during the day and at night. It’s better than when I first got diagnosed and as a seventeen-year-old I have learned to manage it the best I can. I have learned how to focus on the things I can do versus the things I do not have the energy to accomplish. I have grown to understand that having a medical challenge can be difficult for others to understand and embrace therefore I have concluded that the best way to reduce misperceptions is through communication and kindness.

Sometimes people do not realize the unseen disabilities or disorders. Often, it is not apparent of what I have to do just to do the normal things. Naps and rests are not always guaranteed to be fantastic, sometimes if I’ve been awake too long, I’ll immediately drop into dream state, have dreams, wake up, try to go back to sleep, and the cycle can continue. It can be frustrating to always have to take naps, not be able to do such and such things that others can do. The emotional and mental side can be difficult as well. Because narcolepsy is a sleep disorder, we do not get the sufficient amount of sleep needed. Sleep-deprivation can make anxiety or other stressful emotions feel stronger/worse.

Even though this disease can present many frustrations, I would not change it. Through narcolepsy and cataplexy, I was put into a place of forced trust with the Lord. I had to rely on Him. It was not an ‘if I want to’ or ‘when I will,’ I had to. One time my mom asked me, if they had a cure for narcolepsy would I take it, and honestly, I don’t know. I’m almost afraid of what my relationship with God would be like without it. Truthfully, I do not think that I would rely on Him as much. I wish I could say that without narcolepsy I would rely and trust the Lord just as much, but I don’t think I can.

Jesus has shown himself to me in ways that I would probably have not experienced without receiving this disease. He has met me at my weakest, even in my anger, and shown Himself to me in grace, love, and truth. There have been times when I have cried silently at night, or been terrified that I would have nightmares going to sleep. When you are put into a place where you have to rely on God to get through the day, have to seek Him out, it changes you. Through this disease, Jesus has strengthened my faith and trust in Him. While it definitely has it’s negatives, I believe that God has used what many people would see as something terrible – being diagnosed at six years old, not knowing anyone else with your disease until almost ten years later, having an incurable illness – and used it for good. Even though this probably sounds weird, I’m grateful to Jesus for how He has given this to me and walked with me through it.

Often, it can be hard for me to understand how people completely abandon their faith when hard times strike. I can understand and sympathize with being angry, frustrated, and utterly confused as to why something happens, yet, it’s difficult for me to grasp someone just…giving up on their faith. I guess it’s because no matter how furious, weary, and whatever else I may be feeling, the truth is, I need God too much to just say “screw it.”

I know a lot of people say that God can take the worst thing in your life, and make it something wonderful. And it can start sounding old, like, ok getting sick of the ‘church’ answer. But it’s true. Jesus can redeem anything to become something beautiful. You just have to be willing to stick with your faith, wrestle it out with God. Ask questions – Jesus isn’t afraid of them.

~ Southern Dreamer

P.S. March 11 is Narcolepsy Awareness Day, please spread the word so we can bring more awareness to this illness 🙂

 

Christmas

As Christmas ends in all of its bright lights, Santa 🎅🏻 wrapped gifts 🎁, and loudly playing carols 🎼, let us not forget the true joy behind this holiday: Jesus.

It really is amazing how Jesus humbled Himself not only to the point of death on a cross....but that  He also chose to be born as a babe.   Think about it.:

Jesus who left the golden glories of perfect heaven to come down where imperfection is sowed deeply. Jesus who traded comfort and ease for a world of sin, pain, and suffering. Jesus who set aside His rightly given crown and wore one of thorns. Jesus who put away His heavenly robes for those of this earthly life. Jesus who was tempted. Persecuted. Deserted. Made fun of. Beaten. Spit upon. Jeered at. Ridiculed. Anxious.

This same Jesus who told Moses, tell them I AM sent you.

Exodus 3 14:

I AM…LOVE. I AM…GRACE. I AM…COMPASSION. I AM…HOPE. I AM…PEACE. I AM came.

 

 

Merry Christmas.

 

Comfort Zone

Trust the One who created you to lead you to the places He has set aside for you, wherever that may be:

Well. You know the moment when the Holy Spirit is speaking to you and you’re just like why did I come here/walk this way/etc self?

That was me on Wednesday.

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Here’s the scenario: I was coming out of Walmart and was walking behind an older man who had several groceries in his cart. That’s when God was like, you need to ask him if he needs help putting his groceries away.

And then my brain was all like, maybe that’s not God. Except. Then you start getting that feeling where you “just know.”

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My mind then went into compromising territory. Maybe I can just ask to take his cart back for him. Yeah. That’s…good. Because as an introvert, the thought of just going up to a stranger is sort of *ahem* terrifying.

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So. You can see why this would be out of my comfort zone. I was totally planning to go with the whole just-ask-to-take-his-cart thing, except…his car was way before my car. And it would be sort of…creepy, I thought, if I just stood there…waiting while he was loading them up. #IpromiseI’mnotastalker xD

Well, that sort of made me have to make a decision. #YIKES

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I walked up to him and asked him if he needed any help unloading his groceries.

And he said no, even after I asked if he was sure. Then he told me to have a wonderful day.

The Lord is testing me

After that happened, I realized it was just a test. God was testing me to see if I was going to be willing to do something that scared me and was outside of my comfort zone for Him. And each time we do something hard for Jesus, our faith grows like a muscle that is being strengthened.

~ Southern Dreamer

Journal Entry

 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

            In Matthew 5:13-16, Jesus uses many metaphors to help explain his teachings and the concepts to the people. Out of the main two metaphors used, my favorite would probably be the second. I think the imagery of light in the darkness or a city on a hill is poetic and beautiful. It only takes a small amount of light to cut through the darkness. Similarly, it doesn’t take a dramatic or huge moment to show Jesus to others. Sometimes it’s something small; something simple. But that one spark can act like a domino effect and spread like a forest fire.

Questions

Many times, we as Christians can fall into the legalistic or Pharisaical trap. The trap of believing that we cannot ask questions or have doubts.

Yet…that is not true.

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I know, I know, I sense the appalling shock radiating across the web 😉 But it’s the truth. There is nothing wrong or sinful about having questions or doubts. It does not make you less of a Christian if or when you have them.

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Some of you are probably doubting (hee hee, had to put that pun there xD) that. So, here’s the actual definition of what it means to doubt from Merriam Webster.

Doubt: “a lack of confidence,” “uncertainty of belief or opinion,” “to consider unlikely.”

Nowhere in this definition does it say anything about not believing. Sure, it says, “an uncertainty of belief,” but that only means you aren’t 100% sure in what you believe – not that you don’t believe.

Thomas, a disciple of Jesus, doubted that he had risen from the dead when the other disciples told him. He said that unless he put his own hands where the nails were in Jesus’ hands and on his side, he would not believe.

John 20:26-29 says, “Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

What I find interesting about this (and actually just noticed xD), is the fact that Jesus does not condemn Thomas for doubting. I mean, you would think, he would be angry or annoyed by it – He just died for him! But instead, He says, “Peace be with you.”

That is the last thing I would expect. After all of the miracles Jesus had done in front of the disciples and the suffering He had gone through – peace, would be the last thing I would expect Jesus to tell him.

I think that tells us something though. God is not going to condemn us or punish us for having doubts. I’ve had my own doubts – and they weren’t fun at all. It caused me to have a lot of anxiety. Maybe, that’s why, Jesus – before he said anything else – said, “Peace be with you.”

Further, when doubts come, questions often arrive hand-in-hand with it. Similarly, many times people believe that we should not have questions about God, faith, or suffering.

Matthew 27:45 says, “About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lemasabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).”

Jesus, who was without sin and completely perfect, questioned God. Now, I don’t think it can be any clearer than that. If the Son of God, asked Him questions, then why shouldn’t we?

~ Southern Dreamer

 

 

 

No Condemnation

Me being myself and a natural perfectionist, I’m always trying to be perfect. Even though that’s not actually possible and the logical part of my mind knows that, I still find myself in that perfectionistic goal.

Just this morning, I was starting to feel guilty (whether false or true) about something I had been thinking about. And it was sort of like an epiphany when I realized that I don’t have to be “perfect” or think all the “right” things all the time with God. That might sound like something I should have realized a long time ago, but my mentality can often be so perfectionistic that it’s difficult for me to see past that.

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Of course, that doesn’t mean I should stop trying to do the right thing – it’s not giving a free pass to ‘do whatever you want.’ It’s more of in the sense, that when I do something wrong, yes I shouldn’t have done it, but I don’t have to panic (*ahemlikeIusuallydoahem*) about, oh my gosh I’m such a horrible person, I can’t believe I just thought/did that.

Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

The Merriam-Webster dictionary says that the definition of condemn is: “to say in a strong and definite way that someone or something is bad or wrong, to give (someone) a usually severe punishment, to cause (someone) to suffer or live in difficult or unpleasant circumstances.” And for those who are Christians, we are no longer under condemnation. Sometimes that’s easy to forget at least for me, and go into the mentality of, ‘what kind of punishment I’m going to receive’ when I mess up.

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Hebrews 9:12, “He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.

I love that phrase “eternal redemption.” For those who are believers, we are redeemed for all of eternity. In the Bible, there is a term – “kinsman-redeemer” – that connects the Old Testament to the New Testament. A kinsman redeemer was someone who delivers or rescues, redeems property or person, avenges the murder of a relative as a guiltless executioner, and receives restitution for wrong done to a relative who has since died (biblestudytools.com).

Jesus is our ‘kinsman-redeemer.’ He delivered us from an eternity apart from Him and redeemed us from sin so that we can be made righteous.

~ Southern Dreamer