Wealthy in Love

Today my sweet sisters in Christ Jesus I want to explore with you Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi found in Philippians 2:1-11.  The church was experiencing many of the same challenges you and I face as believers.  Conflict, unforgiveness, pride, selfish ambition, vain conceit, dislike, and false teaching had found it way into the church. 

Paul opens his letter in this way… “Therefore, if there is any encouragement and comfort in Christ as there certainly is in abundance, if there is any consolation, comfort, support of love, if there is any fellowship that we share in the Spirit, if there is any great depth of tenderness, affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, having the same love toward one another, knit together in spirit, intent on one purpose and living a life that reflects your faith and spreads the gospel—the good news regarding salvation through faith in Christ.” Verses 1-2 personalized  Paul is pleading with them to resolve the tension and seek to heal any brokenness found.  He says if that can be accomplished it will make his joy complete (verse 2).

Paul further describes the condition of the church with these words “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit through factional motives, or strife, but with an attitude of humility being neither arrogant nor self-righteous, regard others as more important than yourselves.  Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”( verses 3-4) 

Put simply you cannot claim to love God and dislike, hold bitterness for others.  The question arises “Why do people do the things they do?”  I believe that we have not fully comprehended the suffering and sacrifice Christ made for us…that day on the cross in which supernatural love was poured out for us…Loving others is so costly only Jesus’s costly love for us can move us to bear the cost.  Jesus has a radical love for us! This love is so profound, so expense…it is a mystery so deep we can only know it in our spirit!  If we can grab hold of this love, we will be so rich in love we will be forever changed, unable to dislike or hold bitterness.  In our humanness…our mind and body cannot ever understand!  This love is spiritual and supernatural! When we step into this love it is spiritually supercharged.

I want to try and bridge our lack of understanding by helping you and I to understand exactly what Jesus did that day.  Most of us can easily say these words “Jesus suffered and died on the cross for me” however that is so limited.  The depth of Jesus’s love for us is revealed on the cross not so much in the physical suffering but in how society looked at this form of death.  What does it cost for God to love us? We know He sent His only Son to earth for the purpose of leading us in knowing God and restoring his relationship with us, revealing who we really are and redeeming us through Jesus’s death.  Philippians 2:6-8TPT says “He existed in the form of God, yet he gave no thought to seizing equality with God as his supreme prize.   Instead he emptied himself of his outward glory by reducing himself to the form of a lowly servant to be exploited. He became human!  He humbled himself and became vulnerable, choosing to be revealed as a man and was obedient.  He was a perfect example, even in his death—a criminal’s death by crucifixion!”

The cross was consider to be the most degrading form of death, the people of Jesus time saw crucifixion differently; the Jews saw it as being cursed by God, ultimate insult, shunned;  the Romans used it much like the Mexican cartels today who hang their victims in a public place as if to say “don’t mess with us”;  the Greeks saw it as humiliating, scandalous, disgraceful, further evidence that God could care less about humanity; to all it was an abomination, degradation, torture fit only for a slave. There is no other death in which the individual’s life could be destroyed that has the same impact and yet Jesus took the weight of the world, the sin and suffered this for you and me.  I don’t know about you but just writing these words is making me nauseas and tearful.

What great love…I will never fully comprehend while I walk this earth.  This is where love is revealed…we must let this revelation lead us into understanding how much we are loved and redeemed by a risen Lord.  And for this reason alone…verse 9-11TPT says “Because of that obedience, God exalted him and multiplied his greatness! He has now been given the greatest of all names!  The authority of the name of Jesus causes every knee to bow in reverence! Everything and everyone will one day submit to this name—in the heavenly realm, in the earthly realm, and in the demonic realm. And every tongue will proclaim in every language: “Jesus Christ is Lord Yahweh,” bringing glory and honor to God, his Father!”

You see, the Father, the Creator of us all acknowledges what Jesus has done for love!  We are rich in love!  And so now I leave you with this question can you love as He did?  Philippians 2:5 leaves us with these words…”And consider the example that Jesus, the Anointed One, has set before us. Let his mindset become your motivation.”

Blessings, Sister Laurie

This writing came to me after watching a teaching on Real Love by Pastor Akshay Rajkumar the lead Pastor of Redeemer Church in New Delphi, India.  It is available on RightNow Media.com

Waiting

A couple weeks ago I shared with you my sweet sisters in Jesus Christ, how the crippled man at the pool in John 5 spent years waiting for his healing.  For this man much of the waiting and frustration he experienced was of his own doing…his attitude kept him from the miraculous healing God had for him.

Waiting is a part of life, and the Bible teaches us how we wait has a lot to do with our relationship with Jesus.  Here in this writing, I would like to share with you some insight on how in the process of waiting our faith is exposed.  In other words, waiting causes us to encounter many different emotions, we get to know ourselves better.  So, you might even say waiting can be a test of our faith and the importance you and I put on our relationship with God. 

There is a direct link to waiting, our faith and our obedience.  In  Isaiah 40 the final verses tell us  “He gives strength to the weary, and to the one who lacks might He increases power.  Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord.  Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.”

Now I am not speaking ONLY about waiting for your prayers to be answered, I am speaking about the everyday waiting we do. Traffic lights, test results, airplane flights, vacation, Amazon orders, checkout lines, and doctor’s appointments; the list goes on and on.  How handle the wait speaks volumes about our relationship with God.

As believers we are called to respond as Jesus would in ALL things including waiting.  To help us the Bible teaches us 6 principles for living with a Kingdom perspective daily.

  1. Remember God is sovereign, no matter what we see and hear in this world…He is the ultimate authority. “All the inhabitants of the earth are of no account, but He does according to His will among the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can fend off His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’” Daniel 4:35 To more clearly understand this read https://newcreeations.org/sovereignty-of-god/
  2. We must trust and depend on God.  Psalm 9:10 tells us “And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, For You, Lord, have not abandoned those who seek You.”
  3. Spend time with God daily, make God part of your day.  The more we know God the clearer we will hear His voice and see Him working in our life.  Prayer is a huge part of this relationship, talking with God, simple words wholehearted spoken to Him about your life and those around you…Pastor Rick Warren uses “breathe prayers” throughout the day to privately connect with God.  Throughout the New Testament we see Jesus leaving the crowd to be alone with God, uninterrupted.  “But as for you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6:6
  4. Be expectant, know with all your heart that God is listening and that He sees what you are going through, the joy and the tears…there is a well-known saying “garbage in…garbage out” what you allow in your body, mind and spirit will directly affect your relationship with God.  ”And He was saying to them, “Take care what you listen to. By your standard of measure, it will be measured to you; and more will be given you besides.” Mark 11:24
  5. Obedience even when it seems impossible. When you do not understand remain obedient until understanding comes.  This is faith lived out. “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not just hearers who deceive themselves.” James 1:22
  6. God has given each of us gifts and talents to do the work of the Kingdom.  This work expresses our love for God.  We keep moving forward, keep pursuing Jesus NO MATTER WHAT.  Romans 12:4-8 “In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we are talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we would not amount to much, would we? So, since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.  If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.”

Now you might be thinking what does this have to do with waiting?  Whenever you or I find ourselves waiting in any given situation it becomes an opportunity to show our love for Jesus and one another.  The emotions that are stirred up during the wait express how we feel about God…is He a priority or a weekend duty? Or even forgotten during these times?  I pray for you it is the first.  Our reaction in any given situation reveals our faith.  Jesus tells us that we will have a variety of emotions and feelings given to us by God. It is when those same reactions, feelings or emotions do not reflex our position in God’s Kingdom we leave ourselves wide open to the devil’s plan to destroy us and our relationship with God. 

Some of you are facing much larger waits…the same applies to these seasons as well.  God gives us a very clear example of how when we wait on Him…He is faithful to send the help we need. Daniel fasted as an offering of obedience for 21 days while waiting for God’s help.  An Angel of the Lord answered Daniel in this way…

 Daniel 10:12-13  “Then he(an angel of the Lord) said to me, “Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I (the same angel)  have come in response to your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia (the devil) was standing in my way for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael (the guardian angel of the Lord), one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia(the devil). ”  Try inserting your name instead of Daniel and make it personal…God is fighting your battle and He is sending the help you need today…it is on the way so hold on!  In the meantime, God is asking for obedience before understanding.  Why not start today…

There are 3 scriptures I frequently use to remind myself of who I am in Jesus and how I need to react in any given situation.

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if anything, worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

2 Corinthians 10:5 “We are destroying arguments and all arrogance raised against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”

I pray these words minister to your heart and that you use your waiting time to reflect the truth and love of Jesus Christ!

Blessings, Sister Laurie

Thank you to Pastor Jesse Jamerson for his thoughts on waiting last Sunday, much of which I have used in this amazing truth about waiting and the opportunity it brings.

Secrets, Shame and Abortion

Secrets, Shame and Abortion

 “We must each fully embrace how much more the blood of Christ cleans up our whole lives, inside and out. Through the Spirit, Christ offered himself as an unblemished sacrifice, freeing us from all those dead-end efforts to make ourselves respectable, so that we can live all out for God.” Hebrews 9:14-15 MSG personalized

Strap yourselves in, this is going to get real, the kind of real that you may have brushed to the side, swept under the rug, voiced an opinion, or harbored strong emotions. Right here I want to say that there will be those of you who stop reading at this point or maybe in one of the next paragraphs,  it may get to tough or real however, I encourage you to take this journey of truth with me.

I need to get some statistics out of the way so that we can really see how abortion in the United States is destroying all of us.  I was sick to my stomach as I was gathering these numbers from reliable sources. So here we go…

Reported Abortions from 1970-1979 were 7,977,611, the female population ages 15-44 in 1979 was 41,857,686 or 19.06% of the women had abortions during the 70’s.

Reported Abortions from 1980-1989 were  13,283,150, the female population ages 15-44 in 1989 was 58,512,473 or 22.7% of the women had abortions during the 80’s.

Reported Abortions from 1990-1999 were 16,633,105, the female population ages 15-44 in 1999 was 49,554,764 or 33.57% of the women had abortions during the 90’s.

My findings were supplied by the Abortion Surveillance Organization and the National Center for Health Statistics, CDC as well as the population numbers through PopulationPyrimad.net and USGOV.org.  Note:  A small percentage were women who had multiple abortions or were out of the age range however the numbers do give us a picture.

A  further break down of these numbers reveal a greater number of people who have been affected by abortion in the United State during 1970 through 1999. Let me be clear why I choose these years and age groups.  These women are you and I today, you and I fall into one of three categories we are the daughters, mothers, or grandmothers.  We are the ones who have suffered in silence.  But this number is much larger let me explain. For every abortion there are at least five people who are involved not including the pregnant woman or her unborn child. There is the father to consider, the confidant, other family members, the doctor, the nurse, even other staff members.  Abortion touches way beyond the woman and the unborn child, it is like a pebble thrown into a pool having numerous ripples carrying a horrible secret and shame.  All of that being said can we agree to multiply the number of abortions by six and see how many people have really been affected. Let that sink in…

The Secret…as you shop in the grocery store, sit in your favorite spot at church, attend a movie or sporting event; look around…there is a very strong likelihood that you are very near at that moment to someone who has had an abortion and it’s a secret shrouded in shame.  This is an all-consuming situation that is affecting everyone lives. 

The woman who had the abortion is the victim (yup! I said “victim” every single one of them), you see behind every abortion is a woman who had to make that decision.  Every story and circumstance are unique, yet the bottom line is the woman carries the secret and the shame. The procedure is a violation of her body and the killing of an innocent child, both are a complete defilement of God’s design. 

Here are some scriptures to support how every child is by God’s Design…valued, loved, not a mistake and created to live with purpose.

The Old and New Testament confirm why God created the world and us.

Isaiah 45:18 God’s Word Translation (GWT) says “The Lord created the heavens. God formed the earth and made it.  He set it up.  He did not create it to be empty but formed it to be inhabited.”

Ephesians 1:4 (MSG) explains how the earth was created for us “Long before He laid down earth’s foundations, He had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of His love, to be made whole and holy by His love.”

There are many passages that speak of how God is our Creator and Father, each one of us He set in motion from the very beginning, here are two of my favorites.

Psalm 139:15 in the Message (MSG) translation says “You, God know me inside and out, You know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something.”

Psalm 139:16 in the Living Bible (LB) Translation says “You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!”

Other verses speak of how “He knew the sound of your voice before you were born” and “He (God) breathed life into you.”

No matter where an individual is in their relationship with God, every person knows that we belong to something greater, we embrace the knowledge that every human life matters, every unborn child is more than important, that baby is precious and a gift NO MATTER THE CIRCUMSTANCES. This is why, abortion operates in darkness shrouded in secrets and shame.

The secret causes the victims to display many of the symptoms associated with PTSD.  Abortion and PTSD share this description “A soul injury, an overlooked, unassessed wound that separates one from their own sense of self.”

The word secret is defined as “not known or seen or not meant to be known or seen by others; something that is kept or meant to be kept unknown or unseen by others. The skeleton in the closet; a discreditable or embarrassing fact that someone wishes to keep unknown.”

I cannot express to you more clearly how much I am 100% against abortion (the killing of innocent life). It has to STOP!  As women we need to create a better, safe place where a woman can come and be encouraged, helped financially, physically, spiritually, and emotionally when they find themselves carrying a beautiful new life unexpectedly.

Now take it back a little farther to the root of the situation…intimacy belongs in the marriage bed between one man and one woman, not before!  God has a design for us, a plan and every detail of His plan is found in the Bible. We destroyed His plan when man decided to call it sexual intercourse as if it was a function, sport or game instead of a precious gift to be shared, the “knowing” of someone is one way it is expressed in the Bible, for “two to become one” another.  The price of intimacy outside of marriage and the painful results are well documented by God in the Bible.  God knew how man would twist this precious gift and that is why He clearly explains His plan to keep intimacy a sacred gift within a covenant created by God.

Right now, I would like to address any unmarried woman as clearly as possible…First, a man who wants intimacy before marriage does not respect you and will never be the man you are looking for. Second, you do not have the “sexual desires” of a man that is a lie made up by men to fulfill their sinful desires.  God also explains this plainly in His Word, just read the Song of Solomon.

I know you are probably thinking…who does this person think she is, she does not understand. BUT I do and I will say this…I know on a very personal level every sentence, action, emotion along with the price paid, the life lost to man’s wickedness the idea that it’s permissible for  man to murder innocent unborn life. Please stay with me…keep reading.

The shame…let us talk about the symptoms associated with shame and abortion.

I found this statement from the National Library of Medicine. “Many women experience long-term emotional, spiritual, psychological, and interpersonal difficulties following abortion, including complicated grief, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and relationship disturbances. Guilt and shame play important roles in generating and concealing post-abortion symptoms.”

There is a great brokenness physically, spiritually and emotionally when a woman finds herself contemplating abortion, that’s when the secret and shame begin.  She does not set the appointment or enter the “clinic” smiling and confident…NO…she is broken, lost, bitter and disappointed in herself that this is where that day is heading.  Little girls play with baby dolls for a reason…God wired us to be the one to carry His gift of new life and to raise, nurture those children.

I cried for days after finding out I was carrying a child, unmarried, my mother said these words of encouragement to help “it’s just blood, cells, tissue”, “you are not capable of being a mother”, “this baby is better off not being born”. The shame and guilt overwhelming…my decision…how did I cope, I shoved every emotion, every dream down deep inside…like blowing out a bright candle cutting the wick so short it can never be lit again, my life changed forever…the path was one of self-destruction. 

Pro-Choice would say “it’s your body so it’s your choice” that right there puts all the shame and  guilt right on the woman. Abortion should never be a choice; should never enter a woman’s mind. Pro-Choice is man’s way of trying to justify their sexual habits and the killing of unborn children.

Those who suffer from post-abortion PTSD experience a disconnection with life. The shame will manifest itself into one or more behaviors, there is NO maybe…we find ourselves self-destructive, suicidal, victims of substance abuse or eating disorders, depression, extreme anxiety, suffering complicated grief, self-loathing, destructive relationships, even anger and violent behavior.

This is true for the Christian and non-Christian alike, each woman must come to grips with her decision, the death of her child at her own hands. There is a natural emotion to grieve the loss of life however in abortion those emotions are suppressed.  Women feel they have no right to grieve because they were the ones who made the decision.

The non-Christian woman might be able to bury her decision and death of her child for a period of time.  However, the truth is her conscience is built on God’s truth.  She will still suffer, there is grief to be dealt with along with shame.  She might find temporary excuses, distractions, however, her life will take a different course, who she is, her self-image, self-esteem will be built upon her decision and the death of her child.  Anger, resentment, empty self-righteousness, over-achievement, stress, and anxiety, numbness take over, her life will spin out of control.  Society will not see it, blame will be laid at her daily commute, finances, disappoint in her career, relationship issues to name a few.  She will eventually seek help to cope with life based on man’s acceptable fixes which may or may not address the true root of her physical and emotional state.  Self-help books or counseling lead to even a bigger sense of social separation and she reaches to medication eventually substance abuse.

The Christian woman will experience all the above and even more than the woman who does not know Christ.  She has the Christian community who unknowing continue to condemn her.  She seeks absolution outside of her church family, if she even has the strength to seek.  You see, she knows that forgiveness is found in the blood of Jesus but not this…Christians are really good at ranking sin (wrong doing) from one to hundred. Scripture tells us that all sin is equal. She has listened to the lie whispered to her by Satan, possibly for many years, about how her decision and abortion has no forgiveness available.  She gathers enough courage to seek out help within her church, unfortunately she witnesses the look of horror and condemnation on the well-meaning Christian she has finally reached out to.  This is the hard truth in today’s church. 

For me it took over 30 years to gain the courage needed, I had sought forgiveness at the cross after I became a Christian, but the damage done, the shame and guilt remained.  The devil had done a work and I had punished myself experiencing most of post-abortion PTSD.  So many years lost to self-loathing…

Through the love of some amazing women, I began to embrace God’s truth about forgiveness and sin.  I know that God sent them to me when I was ready to forgive myself and accept His forgiveness.  It is not an easy journey and I had to stand my ground as Satan tried over and over to destroy.  Scripture was so key.  My life verses of 2 Corinthians 10:5, Philippians 4:8, Hebrews 4:12 were my go-to every time the devil whisper lies. I had to allow God to cut the damaged flesh thinking vulnerable to Satan’s voice from my inner man, my God given spirit.

Today, I stand with confidence given through God and His forgiveness.  I walk in His righteousness, His daughter, restored and free. There is still the pains of guilt a consequence of sin BUT more importantly there is hope that in my forever home my child is waiting.  In fact, my story is now His story and He has given me to courage to speak His truth about secrets, shame and abortion from personal experience.

In closing, while researching for this blog, I stumbled onto an article written about women suffering under the weight abortion and how we as a church can help.  The article called, ”Post-abortion Counseling” by Julie Ganschow, link can be found below.  Here I have included some profound truth which I could not have said better…

Her article written in 2017 opens with this staggering truth…It is estimate that 43 percent of women under the age of forty-five have had an abortion. One is six women in the evangelical church.

Her article ends with these words of hope and our responsibility…

Bringing Gospel Hope. Along with watching the negative things that we say, we also have to actively bring gospel hope to her. Romans 8:1 is very clear that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. So we have to point her to Christ, to the freedom that comes in His forgiveness and His work on the Cross.

We can also turn to passages in the Psalms, particularly ones like Psalm 32:3–5, David’s response to his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband. David says, “My body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me” (NASB). What a beautiful illustration of how a post-abortive woman feels. This guilt is weighing on me constantly. He continues, “My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.” Many of these post-abortive women express this idea that they are so burdened by this that it destroys their strength. It consumes them.

But then David says, “I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.’” And then, here’s the hope: “You forgave the guilt of my sin.” Even with murder and adultery, sexual sin and taking the life of another, his sins were forgiven. God provides restoration, and He provides freedom in Christ. We have to communicate these truths to hurting post-abortive women.

Ultimately, we desire healing through Christ for each post-abortive woman. In our awareness of the very real effects of abortion, as well as the impact of our words on these women, we have the opportunity to love them and point them toward Christ. As pastors and caregivers, we can point them to the One who brings true hope and true healing, but we must do it with grace and compassion rather than judgment or condemnation.

Find the whole article at https://www.careleader.org/post-abortion-counseling/

Blessing, Sister Laurie