Tag Archive | Jesus

Devil, You are Cruel – God, You are Just

I sit here at my computer full of conflicting emotions today.  Pain, anger, fearful longing and tender hope.  I experienced Saturday probably the most cruel attack of the enemy against my very soul and convictions as I ever have and that is saying a lot when you consider the painful events of my past. 

Saturday started out like any other day.  I was watching my occasional weekend group of children (3 precious boys I love like crazy!!) and decided to do a little house/job hunting while they watched a short movie.  I have been trying to take a little time each day to look for what the Lord has for me next in those two areas.  I have no idea what my job will be or what side of town I am going to live on but I am totally open to what ever God has. 

So, I was looking around online and found this ad for a 2 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath for rent with a fenced in yard not very far from my dads house.  I shot out an email to find out the price and was surprised at the reply I got.  apparently, the house was owned by a female pastor and her family and they had gone on what was supposed to be a short-term missions trip but doors had opened and they would be staying for at least a year but maybe even up to 5 years. They were looking for someone to take care of their house for them while they were away.  They were asking 400/month and sent a link to their missions webpage and several shots of the house inside and out.  I thought – no way, this is too awesome….should I even hope?? 

Well, my dad and I decided to drive out there and take a look at the place and the neighborhood ect.  The neighborhood was so cute and quiet.  The houses looked taken care of but in a laid back sort of way.  Nothing was “perfect” but everything looked very loved and established. When we pulled up I couldn’t get out of  the car fast enough.  The house was small and a little run down with some obvious need of repair but to me it looked like heaven.  Literally everything I had ever hoped and dreamed about for a place to live – it had. 

The back yard was huge and fenced in.  It had a chicken coop, storage shed, HUGErope swing (the rope was thicker around than the widest part of my arm – and that is pretty wide!), garden plot, an area that looked like it was used for wood shop type activities, a little koi pond, a gazebo, screened in porch, and great big cedar and eucalyptus trees (my favorite!!)  My dad was so excited he was bouncing up and down like a little kid.  I was so excited I couldn’t stop smiling. I thought ‘if I smile any bigger I might just burst!’  The house had wood floors, tile, a fire-place, a washer and dryer and lots of windows – all of which I LOVE. 

I kept thinking to myself ‘This is it.  This is what I have been waiting nearly 4 years for.  I have been making the hard choices and the painful sacrifices I feel God has asked me to make for him and I am looking at the beginnings of the reward for that.  He is finally giving me the desires of my heart and blessing this next step of ministry.  This is where I am going to raise my daughter for as long as the Lord wills.  This is where I am going to bring precious children to get loved on and heal while their families work to get their lives in order.  And how awesome is it that the family I would be renting from is on a missions trip in Africa spreading the love of God?!’ 

Just to be on the safe side we decided to talk to the neighbor and see what he had to say about the family that owned the house.  When we get up to the guys house there is this big metal plaque nailed to the door that reads “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord”.  I thought – yay! Christian neighbors!!  This super cute old man answers the door and we start talking to him and his friend who was apparently visiting him at the time.  They had both lived in the neighborhood for upwards of 50 years and it was a good place to live.  When we asked about the family he seemed a little confused.  “No, a guy named “Roberts” (name changed simply because I can’t remember what he said) owns that house.  It is for rent but not for 400/month.  More like 6 to 8 hundred.  Someone is trying to scam you.”

My heart didn’t stop falling until it hit the ground.  Then I am pretty sure I stepped on in when we walked away because as we backed out of the driveway it hurt fiercely. Some one had laid before me all the desires of my heart concerning a place to live and said “its yours for a low monthly price of exactly what you can afford” only to have it be a lie.   Then, to make it even worse the truth was “well, actually you could afford this if you just gave up all your convictions about parenting and ministry and just put your daughter in daycare and got a real job.”  Ouch.  OUCH!  Writing this makes my eyes water and heart ache.  What a horrible realization to swallow! 

****(this next little bit is not a part of my story – added it in as a thought process while writing)****

At the time I didn’t see the similarities between this and when the devil took Jesus up to the mountain top and offered Him the whole world if He would just kneel before him –  I see it now as I write this.

Jesus was taken up to that mountain top and told he could have everything he desired minus all the pain and suffering He knew was to come and all He had to do was kneel.  Such a simple act yet so profound.  To kneel was to renounce everything He had lived His whole life believing and all the choices He had made up that point. To kneel was to admit He did not think He could do what was being asked of Him on the cross.  To kneel was to choose the devils plan for His life instead of God’s plan for His life.  I can’t help but think that maybe up there on that mountain top looking down at the world and knowing all the anguish He was about to go through He just might have felt some of what I was feeling yesterday and today but on an even bigger scale! (now back to the story…)**** 

The more I thought about what had just happened the more I hurt and the more I doubted all my choices up to this point.  Maybe I should just put E.v.e. in daycare.  Most other single moms have to.  Maybe I should give up this Nanny Ministry.  There has to be someone else that can do this job with out it costing them so much personally.  Then, I could get a job somewhere paying minimum wage and then I could afford this place.

I have loved being able to bless the families I work for and their children.  They pay me what they can and I have accepted it as being what the Lord has for me right now.  I struggle with it from time to time but I know these are the choices I have made in an effort to follow after the Lords will for my life.  Never before this day had I ever truly believed – ‘maybe I am really wrong about all this and I just need to give up, get a “real job” and admit I made a mistake’.

Then, and even uglier thought entered my mind.  Maybe, just maybe, what I believed wasn’t a mistake.  What if I was totally right about everything I had heard the Lord speak to me and the choices I had made?  What if those times I can recall hearing a request from the Lord and choosing not to do it for what ever reason – fear, not understanding, lack of faith, whatever the reason, was to blame? 

Maybe I could have had this place if I hadn’t done this sin or that sin.  Maybe, just maybe, God had promised me some amazing things and ment it but then I screwed it up and this was my “Moses Moment” – Here’s the promised land Moses but because you hit that rock out of anger and frustration instead of just commanding it like I told you – you can not enter into this land.  Here is your dream home Nichole – it could have been yours – but because you messed up you can no longer have it.  I can not even describe the anguish I felt – and to a small extent still feel right now.  I started counting down the seconds till Sunday.  I knew I needed some fellowship and wisdom from my spiritual family.

I had saved up money all week and made sure I had enough to pay for the gas to get to church today and I was so looking forward to it.  After the day I had just had Saturday I reallllly needed some refreshing time with my Christian family. I knew I could count on God, my precious Pastor and my family to speak some truth into my situation.  I just needed a little bit of encouragement  and worship and I hoped with that I would be ok. 

So not what I got.  It was no fault of the Pastors.  I am sure his message was very encouraging to others and spurred them on to run the race well.  I how ever did not receive that stimulating message because a few minutes in he talked about Moses not getting into the promised land because of his choices.  Needless to say the rest of the message was lost to me.  I was fighting off despair with everything in me.  I was praying in the spirit, rejecting all the thoughts that were swirling around in my head and just trying to hold it together long enough to get through the sermon and out to my car before I broke down.

I did end up totally loosing it in the front row but not untill most everyone had left.  A precious sister came and prayed with me and I did get to talk to her and a few other women I respect and look up to but there really wasn’t much they could say to comfort me.  I have no idea why the Lord allowed this thing to happen to me.  I have no idea why I am stuck in this same rut I have been in for nearly 4 years.  I don’t understand any of it.  And no one else there did either.  All they could do was pray for me and remind me this is not the Lord being cruel.  The devil is cruel, God is Just. 

All I can keep doing is holding on to my tender hope. The enemy tried to snuff it out this weekend but I can’t let him win.  I may be bruised but the Lord says he will not crush me.  My hope may be a flickering candle but God says He will not put it out.  He will cause justice to be victorious (Matthew 12:20)

 I am afraid to keep longing for the things in my heart but I can’t give up out of fear of being let down or hurt again. I have to keep longing and expecting.  I have to keep trusting that God really does know what He is doing and that He is guiding my path.  I am so willing, so eager to do this work He has called me to – all I can do is keep clinging to Him and trusting that one day it will all make sense – even if that day isn’t until the day I see Him face to face. 

~My love, I don’t understand.  I hurt so deeply.  I want to trust You.  I ‘know’ I can but Love please help me knowit. Yesterday was so hard and today was no better.  I never, EVER want to doubt again that You are directing my path.  That doubt felt like a poison and it ate at my soul. Love please heal my heart. 

I am choosing today – right now – to trust You.  I am choosing to trust that whatever happened yesterday was part of the testing fires – a proving of my faith in You.  I don’t want to be guilty of giving up and choosing the easy, wide path instead of the narrow, difficult one you have set before me.  The narrow, difficult path leads to an eternal life filled with You and what earthly comfort or desire could ever compare to such a treasure as that!

You are Faithful, You are Just, You are Trustworthy, You are my Strength and Comfort in my times of difficulty.  Help me remember that sooner the next time the wolf comes to steal, kill, and destroy. ❤

  ~Nichole

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About “Love Notes”

My Love

Image by Jennuine Captures via Flickr

My “Love Notes” section is where I jot down little tid bits from the Lord.  Things he may share with me from His word, in my dreams, through my friends, how ever He chooses.

There is also a subsection called “Daily Dose” where I write down the verse or chapter that I chewed on that day and what I got from it. 

I have also recently add the subsection called “The Assignment” which I am hoping turns out to be a fun adventure. 😀

 

The Assignment

I have been given a very fun assignment to accomplish over the next few weeks.  I am very excited to get out there and start accomplishing it and then coming back here to share with …. well with myself and whoever else might read this =P

The Assignment – Survey 100 random people, collect their answers, analyze the data and write a report on it.

The Survey –

  1.  Do you believe in heaven and hell? (y/n)                                                                           
  2. If you do  – what is the number of sins you think you are allowed to commit before you are no longer able to go to heaven? #_____                                                                                                                           
  3. How many ‘good deeds’ do you think you have to do to make up for one sin that you commit? #______

I am hoping this will give me a taste of what the people of Columbia believe in.   All those people that walk by me every day at the store and drive past me on the way to work….how many of them actually know the truth and how many have no idea.  How many don’t know and don’t care.  I know 100 isn’t all the people in Columbia but I think that it is a start.  It is enough that I will be able to see some sort of trend.   I am excited to see what I discover!

Tried and True

I read the words in my Bible and I know they are true.  I have seen them come alive in my life and change it in such a dramatic way that it can not be denied. 

 
Lightning is a highly visible form of energy t...
Mwahahaha! via Wikipedia

Like, for example, when I was going through my divorce.  I was feeling so hurt and betrayed .  All I wanted at first was for God to just zap him! 

 I knew God could do it. I had read about when Elijah was on the hill and God had poured out fire on his enemies – I wanted some of that!  My ex had left me for another woman, ripped out my heart and set fire to all my hopes and dreams about our future, not to mention abandoned our unborn child, the least God to do was let a stray lightning bolt melt his car, right?  Then in the midst of all this hurting and wanting revenge I stumbled upon Matthew 5:38-48 which reads:

38 “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’

39 But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also.

40 If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too.

41 If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles.

42Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.

   43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy.

44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!

 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.

46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much.

47 If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.

48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.

At first I thought, “That is too heavy of a thing you are asking for Lord.  How can I love someone who doesn’t love me? How can I give to someone who took everything I had to offer and declared it not enough?  How can I bless someone who has wounded me and continues to hurt me so deeply?” And the answer I heard in reply changed my whole heart.

“What was asked of Jesus was a heavy thing.  He loves you when you don’t love Him.  He continues to give to you when you are ungrateful and disregard His gifts.  He blesses you who wounded Him and continue to hurt Him by not believing.”

It is like something broke inside me – but in a good way! – and all that anger and resentment melted away.  I still had to work on being a little bitter for a while but I was no longer praying for lightening.  I was praying for him to receive peace, healing, love and blessings.  My time with God went from being venting sessions full of anger and fear to times of rest and healing for my own soul. 

Thanks to the living word of God I was able to do in 9 months what it usually takes people years to accomplish – fully forgive, love, bless and release my ex husband from all the wrong he had done to me.  It had nothing to do with me – Gods word in my heart is what made the change.  I was not strong enough to forgive.  I was not strong enough to love someone who hated me.  I was not strong enough to do any of it but Jesus in me was.  

~Nichole

Is there a such thing as a good habit??

As promised, I got together my notes from Maria about our discussion the other day on habits.  I have been so excited about writing this post that I have been thinking about it all day!!

As we talked on the phone Tuesday Maria made some very shocking statements.  She told me about her dream (which I am not going to share – sorry!) and then about how when she woke up she felt pressed to pray.  She began rebuking things that she and I had never considered before to be a demon – habits! As she was praying this she thought to herself – is there even a demon of habits and if so does that imply that all habits are in fact bad? Even the ones we would consider good?  If they are all bad, what is it about the nature of habits that make them so?

The more she talked the more my wheels started spinning and coming up with examples of “good” habits:

Dental floss

Floss Daily - via Wikipedia

 

 
  • reading my bible every day
  • flossing my teeth
  • blessing my food
  • feeding my child on a regular basis
  • changing my undies every day
  • I could go on and on

This strange defensive feeling rose up inside me – “wait wait wait – I have good habits you can’t tell me my good habits are actually bad!”

The conclusion Maria came to was that when you form a habit it takes the choice out of the action.  You are doing that habit as an automatic response.  It takes the love, passion, and desire out. 

At first, you are excited “I am going to read my Bible every night!”  You hop in bed, snuggle into the quilt, grab your Bible and soak up some God Time.  But eventually, a habit is formed and suddenly one night you climb into bed and your bible is in your hand with out you even thinking about reaching for it.  You skim through the next chapter on you bible reading guide and by the time you fall asleep you don’t remember a thing you’ve just read.  Matter of fact the poor Bible is still on your bed getting scrunched up by your pillows! Okay, maybe that last part is just me, but none the less, I think you see where I am going with this. 

As you’re on auto pilot skimming over your nightly read, there sits “bad habit” on your shoulder nodding away “that’s right, you keep reading those scriptures, you better read those scriptures every night!  who cares if you’re too tired.  who cares if you’re not going to remember it.  you better read.”  Then suddenly you have guilt popping up right there with bad habit sayin, ” if you don’t read then you’re letting god down” and now you’re in a real mess because here comes mr.legalist saying, “you haven’t even cracked open your bible all day, you have to read now!”  You are so tired and not even really catching any of the words you are reading so you decide to stop before you finish your chapter and now here comes condemnation, “you never spend time with god. you are so lazy. you are such a looser you can’t even read one chapter. god is mad at you for not finishing that chapter.” Yikes!

 
An explosion

Yea that's about what it felt like - via Wikipedia

My mind just about exploded at this point.  I am suddenly realizing the depth of this issue!  OF COURSE there would be a demon of habit!  If the devil can’t keep you out of church then he will make it as automatic and redundant as possible.  Then once the habit is firmly in place he will use guilt, shame and condemnation against you to the point where you are no longer skipping off to church full of sunshine and joy but instead sulking up the steps dreading the next 2 boring hours but feeling like you HAVE to be there.  Going to church on Sunday is just what you do.  Sunday from 9am to 12pm is the slot of time reserved for church and secret naps while you sit hidden behind the lady with the big hair. You are going because you always go, not because you are expecting and wanting to encounter God and encourage your brothers and sisters.

 

In the middle of this mind explosion I arrived (safely) at home and just had to share all this perspective with my Sweet Dad.  He, in his ‘hmmmm..I don’t know about this’ voice, says, “Interesting…I’m going to have to look into that.”  Which led us on a very spirited Bible search and discussion which I am going to spare you from and just get to the point already!!

We decided that there really is NO such thing as a good habit!  There is only one reference to what might be considered a good habit in the bible, which I will post and discuss under the “daily dose” topic, and aside from that all the rest of the habits are bad in the Lords eyes! 

In both the old and the new testament there are examples of God chastising the Israelites and Pharisees about their tendencies to perform good Godly actions out of habit rather than out of a heart of love and service to the Lord. They do them to be seen of man – because they are supposed to do them – not because they want to connect with God and please Him.

“Wait, Wait, Wait!” My dad says, “You can’t just throw out a blanket statement though and declare alllll habits as bad ones! What about changing your underwear?” (Okay, so his real example was making the bed every day but underwear is just funnier;)) 

Love ? I love love love you.

God wants our heart not just our time - via Flickr

From there we decided that there has to be a distinction between actions that you do that require no heart: brushing your teeth, going to the gym, making the bed, and actions that do require heart: praying, reading your Bible, kissing your honey when they come home from work.  If the action is supposed to come from your heart but comes from a place of automatic reaction it has lost its ‘goodness’. 

God isn’t looking for people to be in the habit of reading His word or going to church.  God is looking for people who love Him and long to spend time with Him.  He is looking for people who talk to Him/pray with fire and passion, people who treasure His word and plant it in their hearts so they never lose it, because those are the ones who can go out and impact the world of lost, hurting people. 

Maria pointed out as she read my rough draft of this post that even heartless actions can’t really be considered a ‘good habit’ so much as just self-discipline.  The more self-discipline you have the more likely you are going to brush your teeth every day or walk the dog.  This might really seem like splitting hairs at this point but I think she is on to something.  🙂

Revelations 1:20-2:1-5

I often will start reading at the beginning of a chapter and read until the first point is made, whether that means one or two verses or a full chapter, and then mull over in my mind what that point was talking about and life applications and such. 

Today, I got a wonderful example of how stopping and starting where the Chapter Markers are is not always the best of plans!   Revelations 2:1-5 has always left me feeling a little uneasy.  I would read it and due to lack of understanding think, “ok, this sounds a lot like if I mess up I could

 

 loose my salvation! YIKES!”  I have always associated ‘lampstand’ with my ‘light’ as in the light of God inside me.  Seems obvious when you look at it sort of squinting while standing on your head, right?

I have even heard other people make this same assumption and had a very dear friend walk away from the Lord because she cited this as proving that even when ‘saved’ by grace there is a chance you are still not good enough so whats the point?  I must admit this scripture has never helped me feel any better about my decision to walk in faith on grace – until tonight!

The Son of Man and the seven lampstands

 My Sweet Dad came up to me, Large Print Bible in hand, and said ” I found some gold! Wanna hear about it?”  OFCOURSE! I quickly finished up getting little E.v.e. her glass of warm milk and honey (mmmmm) and tuned in full attention on what my Sweet Dad had discovered.

 

If you go back a little into the last verse of Chapter 1 Jesus, Himself, explains the mystery of the golden lampstands and the seven stars.  I have read over it a million times (ok maybe only a couple dozen but none the less…) I have never caught it!  The Seven Stars are the seven angels (messengers) of the seven churches which are represented by the seven lampstands.  Right there in black in white plain as day!

Now, when you hold on to that little clue and then go on down into chapter two where the Lord starts talking to the first messenger you can clearly see that he is not talking to a heavenly being – he is describing a Pastor and by the sounds of it a good one that looks after the safety of his flock.

Church in Maransart (Lasne), Belgium

Image via Wikipedia

Ok, so the star is a pastor and the lampstand is his church….that means that when you get down to verses 4 and 5 (the scary ones!!) he is charging this pastor with forgetting his First Love – God.  This pastor has gotten so wrapped up in his “job” as a pastor that he has forgotten what it is all about and the Lord is telling him that if he doesn’t come back to him he is going to remove….DUN DUN DUUUNN – his CHURCH!!! Lampstand = church = Lampstand not salvation – woo hoo!