Jesus said, “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.”
Today I am struggling with a couple of different things. First, someone my husband and I care about has relapsed. He spent the last year living with us. Hind sight is always 20/20, this time is no different. We both saw the red flags and kept giving him the benefit of the doubt instead of calling him out on his stuff. So I’m mostly angry with myself for not doing what I should have done. Im hurt our friend is back out rippin’ and runnin’.
Second, a pastor who is very important in my life and has been a huge part of my walk with the Lord has chastised me for not being a part of a body (church). I am currently between churches. We left our church family (not this particular pastor’s church) about a year ago, maybe a little longer. We left on good terms, I have nothing bad to say about the church we left. We just felt our season there was done. We may have been premature in that decision. We have not found another church we feel at home in since we left.
I’m in school full time, I have a family and sometimes my life feels a little crazy. So finding a church home hasn’t been on the top of my priority list. I also was doing Hep C treatment up until the end of Dec. and I’m just now starting to feel somewhat normal again. I have RA and that takes up some of my energy as well. Sounds like a bunch of excuses… I’m just giving a little background on the situation. Trying to make some sense of this and process it at the same time.
I have a hard time meeting new people. I am guarded because I’ve been hurt but I’m also avoiding the responsibility of living up to others expectations of me. I don’t even know what they are but I know what mine are. I hate disappointing people. Obviously I can disappoint people without even being around them… that’s seems a little odd to me.
My relationship with Jesus is good. It could always be better but I don’t think my relationship with Him is dependent on my attendance at church. I seek Him daily, talk to Him all day long and He speaks to me as well. I love to worship. He speaks to me a lot through music. I love that!
Who has believed our message?
To whom has the LORD revealed his powerful arm? My servant grew up in the LORD’s presence like a tender green shoot,
like a root in dry ground.
There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance,
nothing to attract us to him.
He was despised and rejected—
a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion,
crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the LORD laid on him
the sins of us all. He was oppressed and treated harshly,
yet he never said a word.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.
And as a sheep is silent before the shearers,
he did not open his mouth. Unjustly condemned,
he was led away.
No one cared that he died without descendants,
that his life was cut short in midstream.
But he was struck down
for the rebellion of my people. He had done no wrong
and had never deceived anyone.
But he was buried like a criminal;
he was put in a rich man’s grave. But it was the LORD’s good plan to crush him
and cause him grief.
Yet when his life is made an offering for sin,
he will have many descendants.
He will enjoy a long life,
and the LORD’s good plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish,
he will be satisfied.
And because of his experience,
my righteous servant will make it possible
for many to be counted righteous,
for he will bear all their sins. I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier,
because he exposed himself to death.
He was counted among the rebels.
He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels. (Isaiah 53:3-12 NLT)
Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but He died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but He was raised to life in the Spirit.
When I got the revelation that Jesus died for all sin committed by everyone who had lived and will ever live, I was in such awe. It took me a while to chew on that and to let it really sink in. When Jesus died it was for every sin I would ever commit. It still amazes me to think about that.
I’m following the blog of an atheist and he was curious as to why I would follow him because I’m a Christian. He has been on my heart for the last week.
His curiosity got me thinking. Why am I following the blog of an atheist? Well first of all I’m curious too. I want to know what atheists think about Christians. When I first read his blog I was quite impressed with the fact that he doesn’t seem like a hater. His blog was not full of curses towards Christians and it was just comfortable to read.
As a Christ follower, I would like to know what it is about our God that Atheist have a hard time with and what is it about Christians that turn people off? I don’t want to be one of those Christians that they talk about that are hypocritical and is double minded, judgmental and haters of people who don’t believe what I believe. I don’t have all the answers but I do want to be like Jesus as much as possible. It’s really hard to live in this flesh sometimes though.
Honestly, its not that I don’t like people who are not like minded with me, it’s that I fear what I don’t understand. I’m afraid to be challenged and for people to know that I don’t have all the answers. I don’t want to get it wrong. So, I’m learning that it’s ok for me to be human as long as I am willing to say, “Hey, I don’t know.”
I don’t always act the way I should or think the way I should but I do want to work on being better. So, I’m following an atheist so I can become a better person by learning from him. I know I will be a better person for it. I hope he doesn’t mind that I will ask questions. I am grateful that his blog was so…honest and easy for me, as a Christian to read.
“But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
“Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
“Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
“And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’
“And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:31-46 NLT)
This is one of my favorite scriptures. Having been homeless, this speaks volumes.
Once my husband and I had made a stand against the enemy of our souls we also had to make a stand for a lifestyle change. This meant we had to quit doing everything we had been doing to survive on the streets. For instance, we stole pretty much all of our camping supplies we had in order to live out in the elements. We would also steal our food when we ran out of food stamps, which didn’t last very long because we didn’t have a way to refrigerate food so what we bought was mostly stuff that had to be eaten right away. We also stole to get money for our drugs.
Unlike most of the other homeless people that we lived around who would “fly” a sign (hold a sign asking for money), we got our money a little quicker with less humiliation unless we got busted for shop lifting. Then it was really humiliating.
I tried flying a sign a couple of times but I just couldn’t take the humiliation. I mean after all, who wants to stand there holding a sign while people drive by without even looking at you? Who wants to stand there and take verbal abuse from people yelling obscenities at you and sometimes even throwing things at you? It was awful! I would rather take my chances getting caught shop lifting than standing there like I’m invisible or feel like garbage as people just pass you by like your not even there.
Anyway, all these things took planning and time. I would spend most of the day planning my shop lifting sprees and then when we executed the plan usually without a hitch, then it would take time to hook up with the drug dealer and get the dope for the night. This went on day after day, night after night. So when we quit doing the dope and got right with God we had all kinds of time on our hands.
We had to fill that time with something positive or we would get bored. Being bored is not good for addicts of any kind. What we started doing was having Bible study at our camp. We invited some of our homeless family and a couple of them would come at first, but then pretty soon more and more kept coming.
We would end up having worship and Bible study for most of the morning. It was wonderful.
We kept hearing from different people how they loved the Lord but they could never step foot in a church because they felt they would be shunned or looked down upon and these broken people didn’t need that. Not long after the Bible studies began, we decided to start having church on Sundays for the homeless. We all enjoyed hearing God’s Word.
After we began going to a Church of our own (which is another story), our church family started coming out to our camp and meeting people that we lived around and loving on them. Essentially, this became the church’s outreach program. God used our homelessness to be a bridge to the body of Christ.
I shared all that to say this, God grace was abound in our life at that time (it still is) and it was so evident. I abused drugs for a good 20 years where I had grown up and went to school and learned how to party. I would have never been able to get clean and stay clean in this town without GOd’s grace. It (drugs & alcohol) was in our face everyday, but Jesus was even bigger and His presence surrounded and kept us for His glory. We continued to be homeless for about two months, then we were able to get our own place and we stayed clean that whole time.
2 Cor. 12:9 (AMP)
But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me! (2 Corinthians 12:9 AMP)
Recovery is a funny word. Not funny in the sense of ha-ha, but funny as in ironic. Recovery is a good thing that is just as painful of a process as the problem that got you there in the first place. Hence the saying, “no pain, no gain.” I’ve been in recovery for almost 4 1/2 years and I’ve been set free from cigarettes, methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, sex addiction, pornography, and homelessness. I’m still being set free from myself. A work in progress.
My husband and I spent 10 years of our 14 ½ year relationship in active addiction. During the 10 years we were able to get clean for six months, a couple of different times and once for 11 months. Most of that time we were homeless or couch surfing from one place to the next. Trying to keep up some kind of sanity in our addiction and me trying to be a mom to two wonderful son’s that deserved so much more than they were getting.
I’m not sure exactly when the switch went from survival to surrender but when I realized I was done with that lifestyle I was sitting in a jail cell. I couldn’t believe I had wasted so much time living for what? The next high?… I had run a long time and I knew I was running from God because I had been saved when I was seven years old.
I was finally in a place I had nowhere to run. Jesus had my undivided attention for the first time in years. I had no idea what my husband was doing while I was in jail but I knew he was up to no good and I could hardly stand to think about it. It would have driven me crazy had I let my mind continue on that path.
As I sat in my cell, I made a conscious decision to surrender my life and my will to Jesus. I could no longer live with myself the way things were. I had decided that when I got out of jail that if my husband was going to continue living that lifestyle; I would have to walk away from him. I would never divorce him because I loved him so much and knew there was a reason we had stayed together for so long.
The day I was released my husband met me at a place we had predetermined and there he told me that if I wanted to continue living that lifestyle he would have to walk away. He informed me that he had surrendered his life to Jesus and there wasn’t going to be anymore illicit sex and drugs and thieving to survive. I was so excited that my Jesus had met my husband right where he was at as He did me in Jail.
So, recovery has been very much a part of our lives over the last 4 ½ years. We surrounded ourselves with people who loved God and loved us right where we were at that time, which was homeless and living on the streets. We joined Celebrate Recovery and began forming our support. I would have to say the greatest thing that saw us through the first couple of years was LOVE. Love is what really helped us heal and begin to feel like we were a part of society again.
We were able to get a place about two months into our recovery thanks to public programs available in our area. We are now self-sufficient and doing things like all the other grownups in society and we are blessed, very blessed and very grateful.
My life verse has become Jeremiah 29:11-14
For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord.“I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your land.”
God is in the restoration business and He so wants to do that for anyone who asks.
I am now in school working on my bachelor’s in psychology and I have two more classes to do before I can test for certification for drug and alcohol counseling. I have had both of my son’s living with me for the last 3 1/2 years and my husband now has a relationship with his youngest daughter and our grandchildren. Miracles that were not possible without God!
Recovery is WORK, but it is so possible and so WORTH IT!
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
After years of carrying such a heaviness, I didn’t realize just how heavy it was until Jesus set me free.