Proving God’s Goodness

Monday was the day! We officially have gotten rid of all the junk! After a few days of transition (replacing all the traditional American diet stuff to whole food plant based – WFPB – items) we finally said, “Ok, let’s jump!”
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It really was not scary because God has given us both confidence in our new journey. We both watched the show, Forks Over Knives, on Netflix and heard some very disheartening information but also some encouraging news. So afterward we both came to an agreement, we needed to make a change. Making that decision together is half the battle in a home. My husband and I are determined, of course. I began to pray about the best course of action and low and behold God gave me a verse in my bible study the day after we made the decision. To me, it meant God’s final nod to me that we are walking in the right direction. It seemed to be an answer to a prayer I prayed weeks ago, “Lord, make me a clean and pure vessel for your service.” He almost always speaks through his word.
“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly;
and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Thessalonians 5:23
Do you see ‘sanctify you wholly’ and ‘whole spirit and soul and body be preserved?’ Watching the show Forks Over Knives seemed kind of random at the time but it made clear to me what I had been learning for some time through the scripture. It nagged me, the connection between food and man.  The numerous diets programs, the different messages coming from different health organizations and the habits we formed from childhood led to so much confusion as to what we should be doing.
The bible states so plainly, we are God’s creation. In Genesis, before the fall, mankind was eating the whole food plant-based diet. And after the fall we immediately started to decay, to die. We became meat-eating humans which meant animals would die to satiate our hunger and our comfort. I know the theology of it. The first animal dying, the first blood sacrifice for the covering of sin, the animal skin covering Adam and Eve which is way more than I want to go into. Suffice it to say, the message all connected in my body, spirit, and soul. There had to be a connection to the diet after the fall and the diseases that have crept into our everyday lives.
And let me say first nothing is random in God’s time and secondly, I am not going to lecture about the inhumanity of killing animals or the effects on our environment from raising and processing animal fat and meats (that may be for another day). It is not the reason we decided to do what we are doing as far as our diet goes. The main reason is for the health! We are sick of taking medications and being overweight and lacking energy! We do not take near the medications that our parents do, nor some of our friends and family, but if there is a way to not take them at all and it has to do with changing our diets then we are willing to try.
The money spent on doctor visits, medications, and hospital stays are so astronomical not to mention the danger of it all. If you could avoid all of that, wouldn’t you want to try???? I watched both of my parents go through heart surgeries and complications. Being connected to machines, depending on humans to know what they are doing and to do it in the right way. Sometimes guessing at what might be the matter. To see them both struggle with breathing, wearing oxygen masks to get through the day. That is not what I want for myself or my husband. Heart disease runs in my family and so does diabetes so why wouldn’t I do better for myself and my family? I know things happen that are beyond our control but most of our health is within our control. Our daily choices, to get informed and get off our butts, make some changes in planning, prepping and shopping.  From all the information I have read and studied so far it is proven that it can be done and done well. To the benefit of all.
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Another thought inspired by God’s Word is from one of my favorite verses in the bible and one I truly attempt to live out on a daily basis is Romans 12:1-2 “I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
During my study of the books of Thessalonians these past few weeks, I was struck by the fact that Paul often repeats himself when making a point. I found a repeated thought in his letter to the Thessalonians, Chapter 5 verse 21 ‘prove all good things; hold fast that which is good.’ Here he is telling us to prove something is good as he told us in Romans to prove that which is good. Christianity is about living out the Word of God, living out what Jesus lived out when walking on earth. He was proving God’s goodness, proving God’s ways are good and His ways will work if applied, He was proving God.
When we walk, act out and/or do God’s Word by applying His principles, we are proving to the world, as Jesus did, His ways are good, His ways work and thereby prove God’s love. Afterall love is not just a mushy feeling one feels, it is action. You can hear Paul pleading with believers in Romans 12: 1-2,  (paraphrased) ” I am begging you to give of yourself, your whole body, spirit, and soul, to God. Which is the right thing to do and if you keep yourself separate from the world in body, spirit, and soul you will prove the goodness and the ways of God”
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So you see how it all fits together? Praying and asking God to forgive you of your sins and save you from hell brings you to salvation. Praying and asking God to make you a vessel fit for service brings you to emptying yourself out to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Praying and asking God to make you healthy brings you to make choices about what you put into your body. When we pray for God’s direction we need to be able to watch and wait, while actively seeking and moving forward in what He already tells us to do. We pray, ask and take action.
“You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”
Jeremiah 29:13
I have heard friends say to me, “I am not sure what God wants me to do. I am waiting but not sure which direction He wants me to go in.” And then they literally just wait for God to magically put up a door that says “walk through here.” I kind of believed that at one time. But it has been my experience that when we take steps of faith toward something we desire or something we believe God is telling us to pursue, He will either close the door of opportunity or open the door opportunity. He will make it clear one way or the other.
If we sit and wait, how will we find the doors if we are not going out there looking for them? God’s Word tells us to seek and then it tells us we will find. You can’t find anything sitting and waiting. There must be action.
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This seeking and knocking can be disappointing or exciting depending on what it is you believe God is saying. And that, my friend, is where praying in faith comes in. You pray and BELIEVE God wants His very best for you so you trust whatever door He opens for you! And remember sometimes He has to bring many things together before we even get to the door. Yes, it may take some time. But never stop seeking! Because that door may just be around the next corner!

Craziness That Is Out There

What does it say about a person when they’ve enjoyed sunshine most of their life, only to be comforted when it rains? These days it is the rain that almost makes me feel safe from the world.  It is a barrier between me and the craziness that is out there. Everything has changed from when I was a child. Not only my views of life, people and eternity but the world around me is almost unrecognizable. What was up is now down, what was in is now out and what is evil is called good and what is good is called evil.

world 2Most people’s views change as they grow up and move into different phases of life and as they go through different experiences. What I believed as a young adult quickly changed as I began to see the world beyond myself.  What I understood was very, very little in comparison to what I understand now.  Yes, I know, hindsight is 20/20 but that is not what I am alluding to. You have heard the statement, “If I knew then what I know now,” well, what is the point of that statement, really? How would that even be possible unless you had a time machine. Back then the world revolved around me and I was the smartest person alive. Isn’t every teenager going out into the big, big world? Today the world is revolving all right but not particularly around me and I am definitely not the smartest person alive. I have been literally put in my place on several occasions, by Jesus!

In the first part of 2 Timothy 3, Paul seems to me, to be describing this day and age.  The last part of the chapter Paul is encouraging Timothy to continue in what he has learned from childhood because it is what will keep him focused on Christ and his faith in Him. The Word is what will give him wisdom, strength and endurance for the coming persecution of his faith. It speaks to me, I am sure as it did Timothy as well, for the coming persecution of Christians on a scale like never before.  We are seeing first hand what it means to follow Christ in certain countries around the world. We are reading minute by minute the atrocities committed by those who are the enemies of God.  Be-headings, torture, sex-trafficking, sexual slaves of young girls, mutilation of their genitalia, burning in cages, hangings, on and on it goes. No end to the horror.

And here in America…where do I begin? Those things are happening here. You don’t believe it because you do not see it or hear of it.  Because the media would not have you knowing truth.  Truth is a barbaric thing to them.  It is politically incorrect to speak of such things here in A-M-E-R-I-C-A. I believe they believe we are shielded from the evil that is building in those parts far, far away from us. They believe we are safe as long as we do not speak of it. Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. They focus on the inane. And while they go about filling people’s eyes and ears with the most important ideas like sex, global warming and racism we are slowly losing the ability to discern the truth. Absolute truth. Absolute truth is disappearing. And when it is gone we will have lost one of the most important things our country was founded on, Freedom.

Freedom.  What a concept!  The word itself would stir up the most passionate of men and women.  It was fought for, died for and sacrificed for throughout history. Flags have flown for it. The children of Israel fled to the wilderness for it. And the greatest experiment in history, the pilgrims of the Netherlands crossed an ocean for it. The colonies of America fought the monarch of England for it. Countries have banded together to fight wars for it. Men have died for other men so they may be called “free.” But who fights for it now? What does it even mean to us today? Today freedom is about taking it away from one man and giving it to another man and calling it “rights.”

While the world seems to be losing sight of that noble word I have come to know the word very personally.  I did not fight on a battle field nor did I have to travel far for it. I experienced F-R-E-E-D-O-M when I met the savior, Jesus Christ. Freedom from the power of sin.  At first it was a peace and realization that I did not have to carry the weight of my sins any longer. Then as I began to walk with Him I discovered another kind of freedom.  Freedom from the bondage of my sins. Let me explain.

As I learned what it meant ‘to be a sinner’ I understood that I was born into sin. That from the beginning of time, when Adam and Eve fell from fellowship with God because they disobeyed Him in the perfect place on earth. They plunged every human born after into the same sinful state, a state of death. We are basically born dead.  Our spirit is dead to God. He himself placed a spirit in us but He gave us the choice to allow Him to bring it to life. It had to be our choice because He would not force us into a relationship with Himself. That is not His nature. He desires a relationship with us but we have to want it.

Once I realized that I was sinful and dead to God, I was undone. I wanted to live. I wanted God to live in me. I wanted Him to take away my sin. To wash me clean and give me a new beginning.  To set me free.  When I asked for His forgiveness of my sin and for Him to come into my life and lead me, He did!  First He showed me who He was.  By reading the bible and studying His Word I was able to learn about the one who gave me a new life. I spent time reading, praying and worshiping the one who had to power to give life.  The more time I spent with Him, the closer we became. And the closer we became the more I was able to overcome the sin in my life.

Then He did something that caused me great pain.  At first I did not understand the pain. But then I realized that He wanted me to go deeper into our relationship by going deeper into His Word.  He wanted me to trust Him completely; To walk with Him without questioning His leading. I was a babe in Christ, as they say and I did not know how to do that fully because of the consequences of the sin in my life. Those consequences bound me up and kept me from going forward with God. They were stumbling blocks to trusting Him. The were hindrances to growing the fruit of the spirit in my life.  They kept me believing lies about myself and about God.  Because of the consequences there were powerful voices of doubt which became extremely frustrating and exhausting.

So through the tribulations and desperate cries to be free from the bondage, God led me to the truth in His word, and to godly counselors and Pastors.  Those years of wrestling with my flesh and the Holy Spirit led me to the most amazing and joyous times in my faith. He opened doors for me that I would never have imagined to be opened.  He used me in others lives to show them Christ and to find freedom in their lives.  He brought me to a place of freedom the likes I had never known to that point.  All the while preparing me for the most devastating time in my life to come.

Lighthouse in Storm --- Image by © John Lund/Corbis

Lighthouse in Storm — Image by © John Lund/Corbis

When the bottom fell out God took me by the hand and led me the whole time. It was as if I was in a bubble of peace.  The storm was raging and I was losing everything that I thought made me normal. The world as I knew it had done a 180, along with my views and new-found faith and knowledge of God.  When you are confronted with truth in a way that rips the rug out from under you, you either fall or stand solid.  It all just depends on what is holding you up.  I stood at first because God was holding me up.  I wish I could say that I remained standing through it all. But I did not.  The storm grew so powerful that I allowed myself to be taken along with the wind, tossed to and fro.  God basically yanked me back to reality in a very public and painful way. With the help of godly friends and a strong support system through my church I was able to once again stand and even to move forward.

Not without scars to show for it. Hurt and pain I never knew existed. As I said in the beginning our views change over time. If you asked me if I would want to go back and have a do-over I am not so sure I would want that.  While I hate the bad things that have happened in my life due to the actions of others or of my own accord, I love how God has taken those bad things and made something beautiful out of them.  How He has given me a new outlook on life, people and eternity.  My thoughts turn to more meaningful questions such as have I lived a good life? Have I given more than I have taken? Have I made a difference in world?

I don’t even feel qualified to answer those questions.  For what I think I am is often influenced by what I hope I am and therefore to be objective I would have to separate every thought, action and reaction I have ever had.  Then I would have to relate that information to the type of relationships I have now in my life. It is all very scientific. But in the end useless. Because as I said before it comes down to the fact that the world does not revolve around me. So what questions should I be asking?

Maybe something that is more in line with what Jesus would want from me. Have I allowed Christ to live through me? Have I given to others in the name of Christ more than I have taken in the name of Christ? Has Jesus made a difference in the world through me?  In being honest I would have to say No, not always. No, definitely not and finally, only time will tell.  The world is changing so much so fast that it seems time is speeding up.  It makes me think more of heaven and my time left here.  It gives me a sense of urgency.  As if time is running out, not just for me but for everyone.

What does it say about a person when they’ve enjoyed sunshine most of their life, only to be comforted when it rains? I think it says that you can not completely enjoy the sunshine without the rain and it is the rain that brings new life. It is God who sends the rain and He gives me safety in His Word and truth. The actual barrier between me and the craziness that is out there is God’s love, mercy and grace.  Everything has changed from when I was a child or so it seems. It is God who has actually changed me.water sun

“The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1:9 His ever constant faithfulness to me no matter where I am in my walk or in the world continues to encourage my faith.  For He has certainly changed my views of life, people and eternity through His unchanging love.

My views:

  • Life is precious
  • People need Jesus
  • Eternity is closer than ever

Grace to you,

Shell

It’s God’s Move

I have been having these memories lately about my years as a young mother and even some from my childhood.  They are random but somehow related and I am not exactly sure what I am supposed to do with them.  They seem to be moments in time where the direction of my life changed significantly due to a decision I made.  They say that the devil uses your past failures or sins to discourage you, to taunt you or cause you to be defeated.  But I think the devil gets way to much credit for things that may be of God.

It is of my personal opinion that God may use our past to show us something about the current state of our heart.  When God is ready to deal with an area in our life I believe He may start with a memory.  The Holy Spirit may bring it to mind, showing it to our inward self much like a slide show.  There may be no real trigger to the memory it may just be God’s timing.  His time for us to sort through an experience or decision made that led to a turning in the road, a turning that changed our lives forever.

He does not condemn us but may want to teach us truth, truth about ourselves, our heart and its motives. “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1)  Yes, sometimes, there is pain involved or guilt perhaps because we did not face the truth back then.  But for the most part there is freedom in looking at it and asking God, “What do I do with this?”  Seeking His wisdom or healing in it.

While Paul speaks of forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth to the prize of the high calling, I think there are times in our lives that God uses our past choices as lessons to transform and conform us into His image.  David says to God, Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties;”(Psalm 139:23)  He already knows everything we have said and done in our lives and the moment we become a child of God He begins to transform us.  While our past sins are forgiven, often the past consequences continue to be evident in our lives, as well as the current blessings of a relationship with our Heavenly Father.

Every decision I made I made consciously but not always in wisdom.  Much like a beginner chess player I did not look ahead at every possible move that could have put my ‘piece’ or my family in jeopardy.  You know the choices we make in the past are never really at rest until we find God’s grace in them.  I have struggled so much with choices I made for my children through-out the last ten years and at times the pain goes so deep.  When I find His grace in it I am reminded that it isn’t about me at all, it is about what He does with our choices, good or bad, for His purpose. 

Gods’ word says “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) so we should not fear or be anxious about those past decisions.  We should just believe that He will do what He says He will do.  He will use “all things” to transform us into His image.  How it all works I have not a clue, why there is pain involved I do not know but I do know that in trusting Him I find the grace and mercy of His peace.

The older I get the more I often wish I had known Him at a younger age.  I wonder what my life would have been like had I known His ways before I chose my ways.  I do know more now then when I first accepted Christ as my Savior that He is sovereign and even though He chose me before the foundation of the earth it was still up to me to choose Him.  He gave me that free will.  He gives it to me every single day, to choose His ways over mine.  One of my favorite passages in God’s word is Romans 12:1-2 because I believe it is pivotal to what God wants to do in and through me. 

“I beseech ye therefore brethren, to preset your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind that ye may prove what is that good, acceptable and perfect will of God.”

“O’ God, give me the wisdom and discernment to see the temptations before me, to apply the truth of your word before I choose so that my decisions glorify you, Amen.”