I Can’t Like It

Now I have an acquaintance that drives me bananas.  I talk to them for three minutes and I am ready to choke them out and put them to sleep.  The things this person says and does are just unreal.  I want to look them in the face and just ask…”Seriously?”  However, since I am supposed to love my neighbor I play nice, but to tell you the truth I struggle to find a redeemable quality in this human being.  I am so nice and agreeable, but I can’t like them.  

Leviticus 19:18 NIV
” ‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord. 

I have read that we are supposed to love our neighbors, but does that mean that I have to like them?  Recently I posted that question on Facebook and I got a variety of responses from my friends and co-workersNone of those answers coincided with the one I got from the Holy Spirit.  After considering what my friends said I went to the source, I read the Bible and I prayed for guidance.

The answer I got was, “Yes”.

Matthew 5:43-48 NIV
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you:  Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.  He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous.  If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?  Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others?  Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Christ commanded us to love our neighbors and our enemies.  I know what the Bible says, but how am I supposed to keep that command?  Did Christ know about this person when He told us to do that?  Did He know how annoying this person was going to be?  Did He know that it would take all of my love for Christ just to tolerate this person?  


The answer I got was, “Yes”.

Of course, Christ knew about this person and how crazy they were going to make me.  That’s why He made it so clear in the scripture that I am to love this person, and pray for my enemy.  I am to look at them through the eyes of Christ.   This annoying human being is a child of Christ, and despite whatever I may feel, Jesus died for them.  As our savior knelt in the garden of Gethsemane this person was in His heart.

So after praying and receiving my answer I struggled with this, for many days, before reaching understanding.  The things that drive me so nutso about this person have nothing to do with who they are, who they were, or who they could be.  The things that keep me from seeing this person like Christ are all the bad choices they make for themselves that affect other people.   The things that they do that hurt me and hurt the people I love.  The things that I can’t stand are their sins.

When I was a sinner, Christ looked at me and only saw His beautiful daughter.  He saw past all my mistakes and through His love I was saved.  Through His mercy I grew in my walk with Jesus and became a servant.  I am only clean because Christ shed His blood for me, and this person who annoys me could be too if they knew the grace of salvation through the cross.

Christ wants us to love our neighbors and our enemies as He loves us.  He wants us to see the child of God and not the sin, as He did.  He wants us to step into that person’s life and show them the love of Jesus, so that they will hear the message of salvation.  God wants me to love this person so that they will turn their face to heaven and seek the savior.  This person will seek God, receive salvation, and receive the kingdom of heaven.

Galatians 5:14 NIV
The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

I suspect that if I were to stop focusing on the sin and start focusing on the human being I would discover a person I CAN like.

Non-Refundable

Romans 8:38-39 NIV
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The first time I heard that passage of scripture was during a Celebrate Recovery testimony. It was declared with such passion that I was moved in such a way that I have never fully recovered. Not only did she believe it, but others around it felt the power of God’s love in that room.

When you take the time to look at that scripture it is moving in and of itself. Nothing, and it lists some powerful things, can separate you from the love of Christ. It says that life cannot separate you from Christ. That day to day living and the choices that we make do not inhibit Christ’s love for us. I take it to mean that even those that deny Him, still have His love. He wants for them to come to Him so that He can bestow that love and grace on them.

For a Christian it is part of the teaching that once saved, always saved. This has become a controversial topic and not all of the biblical teachers agree. However, I believe in the grace of Jesus Christ when it says that no one can be snatched from His hand. Who is more powerful than God that they can take what belongs to Him?

John 10:28-30 NIV
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.  I and the Father are one.”

Further more the Bible states that when you confess that Jesus Christ is Lord you become a temple for the Holy Spirit and are sealed. Now what is strong enough to break the Holy Spirit, which is also God? The Holy Spirit is dwelling within you. No amount of wrong turns on your walk with Christ will change that. Are you stronger than God that you could decide to remove the Holy Spirit?

Romans 10:9 NIV
That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Ephesians 4:30 NIV
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

We are going to make mistakes. We are going to screw things up. No one can be perfect. Not one of us is righteous. Our good deeds are but filthy rags compared to our Lord Jesus Christ. Every one of us will sin again. It is in our very nature to sin. We struggle against it, but we are not perfect. If we could be perfect we wouldn’t need saving.

If you skip a week of church. If you don’t read your Bible every day. If you listen to rock music, watch a rated R movie, or play a video game, the Lord is not going to erase your name from the Lamb’s Book of Life. Are those things pleasing to God? No. Will He cast you away from Him for eternity? No. Will He always love you? Yes.

If our deeds could cost us salvation, then we would need deeds to acquire it. If we could acquire salvation through works then Jesus would not have needed to die for us. That would make His sacrifice, His mercy, and His grace a very small gift indeed. I cannot accept that God would go to all the trouble to sacrifice Himself to torture and death if there were another way to Heaven.

God knows I am a sinner. He knew that centuries ago when He sent His son to die for me on the cross. He knew as He was on the cross all the sins that I would make throughout my entire life. He knew every wicked evil act that I would commit. Yet He turned Himself over to the Roman guards for torture and execution. When I accepted His grace and mercy, I was saved. God’s plan has been in place since the beginning of time, and one little girl from Oklahoma cannot screw it up.

The gift of salvation is non-refundable, non-negotiable, non-transferable and will never expire.

Discipline

Proverbs 13:24 NIV
He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.
Last night my daughter decided to pull the pin on the grenade and blow her behavior through the roof.  I am not inclined to share the details of the event, but needless to say she got punished for her choices.  Since her father had already warned her that a set of consequences would happen if she made that choice I was locked into that course for her discipline.
Disciplining a child feels terrible.  I hate having to be the hard mean momma.  I would rather be the blow-on-her-ouchies, cuddle bug, kiss-it-and-make-it-better momma.  Unfortunately if I am never the mean momma she would grow up and turn into Veruca Salt, the spoiled child from Roald Dahl’s novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  Not on my watch. 
The Bible has a lot to say on discipline, and I didn’t see this delightful child there.  The very word appears in the Bible 500 times as God explains his plan of discipline for his children.  If our Heavenly Father disciplines his beloved children aren’t we supposed to follow His model?
Hebrews 12:11 NIV
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Revelation 3:19a NIV
Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline
Proverbs 6:23 NIV
For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life.
Proverbs 22:15 NIV
Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.
Some people interpret this to mean to hit your child.  I disagree.  I read rod as something hard and unyielding, and discipline to be consequences for a choice not well made.  As I read this it means that a parent’s discipline should be strong and constant, but not necessarily physical.  I interpret this that I should be firm, consistent with the goal of teaching, not vengeance.
There is a fine line between discipline and vengeance.  If you become angry with your child and punish them too severely then you have broken the trust that God has placed in you to raise your child.  Be firm but not abusive in your punishments.  Do not be so extreme in your punishments that you lose sight of the goal, to teach your child wisdom so that they can grow in the Word and bring glory to the Lord.
Ephesians 6:4 NIV
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
Proverbs 22:6 NIV
Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.

Why and How

Matthew 4:4 NIV
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on breadalone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ” 

In less than twelve hours, I will begin my forty day fast as an act of devotion to my savior, Jesus Christ. For the next forty days I will limit myself to only forty carbohydrates a day, that means no sugar, no regular soda, no junk.  It is dark green vegetables and protein.  During this forty days I will share with you the trials and revelations I discover about this experience.

As she did last year, my daughter is joining me in this fast.  Unlike me, she is not giving up carbohydrates.  This year she has chosen to tell Jesus she loves Him more than candy, and will go forty days without any.  She plans to celebrate the end of the fast with a large chocolate bunny.

Why fast?  First off, it is in scripture that Jesus Christ fasted for forty days prior to starting his ministry.  It is a way to bring yourself closer to God and to seek His will and His righteousness in your life.  In our culture of constant distraction, taking time to focus on God’s will seems like a necessary step to reaching your potential and bringing glory to His throne.  Fasting is an act of devotion, humility and worship

Ezra 8:21-23 NIV
There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions. I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.” So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.

Personally, I want to discover God’s purpose for my life, and to find my place within the Body of Christ.  I want to surrender my will, my earthly addiction to unhealthy foods, and my focus on the things of daily life.  I want God to be center stage in my life, and not let Him act as the prop man behind the curtain.  It’s easy to discover yourself in love with your television, your pillow, your job, your car, your Facebook account, or even yourself.  Fasting is an act of surrender of your will to God’s will.

Matthew 26:39 NIV
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

As I mentioned earlier, when God impressed this fast upon my heart, I will be posting information to help guide you in making an informed decision for yourself.  So in fulfillment of that promise, I am including some links and some information found on other websites.




John MacArthur:  Fasting without Hypocrisy  Part 1 Part 2

Honeymoon

When I was first saved I got this happy, peaceful feeling.  I call it my honeymoon feeling, because I am newly in love with Christ.  I am finally getting to spend some one on one time with my savior.  It is a happy glowing feeling.  It is peaceful. Some people call this period being “on fire” for Christ. 

Then as time and the world started to crush down on me I focused less and less on the Lord.  It becomes about the drive to work and traffic.  Are the lesson plans ready?  What are we having for dinner?  I find myself spending all of myself on the worries of this world, instead of focusing on what really matters, the Kingdom.

Matthew 6:33 NIV
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

One of the benefits of writing this daily blog is that it keeps my focus where it needs to be, on Christ.  I find that I am drawn to the Word like a moth to a flame.  I find the teachings of Christ and on Christ permeating every aspect of my life.  Everything I do throughout the day reflects back to Him and how I can use it to grow, honor or serve him.

I find myself back in that new honeymoon period of the new believer.  The glory of Christ and the blessing of my salvation feel fresh and new to me.  I find the scripture to be like cool water to a hot and dry throat.  I feel white as snow.

Practically speaking I find that I am more patient.  When reacting to other people it is like the world is slowed down and I have a chance to consider my meager knowledge of the scripture before responding.  I find myself pausing frequently to check with the Holy Spirit.  I find myself to be at peace.  I wonder if God is like a football referee with His head under the hood watching my slow motion moments? 

This week I received some news that should have sent me into a panic, but during my slow motion moment, I considered that it just might be part of God’s plan.  I even told the bearer of the bad news to not be concerned for me, for I felt God’s hand moving in my life and I trusted His plan.  Where did that come from? 

Where was the panic attack?  I spoke with about it later with a friend and she was concerned that I would be frightened or afraid for the future, and to be honest.  I am just not.  In the last year I have seen to many miracles and have seen God provide for my family at moments when we should have gone under.  I have seen the body of Christ come to our aid and providing for my prayers.  I trust in the Lord and I am at peace.

Psalms 37:3 NIV

Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. 

Babies

This year I am going to be an aunt again three times over.  One of my brothers is having a little boy this summer, and my other brother is having twins this fall.  Becoming a parent is a miraculous experience that changes your perspective on how you read the Bible.  As one of my brothers said recently, reading about a Father’s love when you are a teenager is great, but reading about it as a Father is completely different.  God’s sacrifice of his only son has more depth when you are holding your own son.

John 3:16 NIV
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

I confess that I feel exactly the same way.  For reasons that we won’t go into now for the sake of brevity, prior to my daughter being born I had never experienced real love.  Since God is love, it is hard to accept this truth if you don’t know what love is.  The first time I held my daughter and looked into that sweet face I not only loved someone unconditionally, I was being loved absolutely.  It changed me from a cynic to a believer.  God must really love me to give me such a wonderful gift.  Within a few months I prayed the prayer for salvation.

Being a parent and loving my child has given me insight into our Heavenly Father.  I can understand how He could continue to love us even though we constantly sin and deny Him.  I understand why He lets us fall and get hurt, so that we can learn and grow stronger.  I understand why He lets us do things the hard way rather than doing them for us.  I understand that while He forgives us of our sin, we still must deal with the consequences.  I understand that our Father is just and holy and there will be judgment for sin, just as our children will be disciplined for their wrong choices.  All of these are the same things that we as parents do.

Here is the big idea of the post.  If you can continue to love your child no matter how much they screw up their lives and make it a mess, how much more does our Father in Heaven love us?  We are mere mortals covered in our sin until washed clean by the blood of Jesus Christ, but we know how to truly love our children.  God is perfect and all-powerful, how much more love He must be capable of bestowing on His children.

Just as our own children will turn from our guidance and wisdom to do things their own way, we also turn from God.  We watch as our daughter tries to ride her scooter off the curb knowing she will get hurt.  God watches as we move in with the man that says he loves us.  Both parents know their children are making the wrong choice.  Both parents know that their children are going to get hurt.  Both parents tried to warn their children and had the wisdom of their words ignored.  Consequently, both parents will be there to pick that child up when they have fallen.

Just as you as a parent will take your child back when they return from their latest failure or adventure, so will God accept His children back.  Just as you will provide for your child throughout their life as they grow to adults, so will God provide for you. 

Matthew 7:9-11 NIV
“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

You Father is at home waiting for you to return to Him.  He is waiting for you to ask for His blessings in your life.  Just as you love to hear your children say those words that touch your heart, “I love you, Momma,” so our Heavenly Father yearns to hear it from His children. 

Father, I love you.

got milk?

1 Corinthians 3:2 NIV

I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.
To some of my friends, the things I write may seem simplistic and basic Christian teachings.  I will confess to you that I have not been long on my walk with Christ.  I was first saved in August 2004.  However, I was addicted to my lifestyle of sin, so not ready to allow Him in.  I was baptized in July 2006, but didn’t start seriously studying the Bible until last year.  That’s a lot of wasted time.
At first I didn’t know how to study the Bible, so I just picked up a copy of the Bible and started reading on page 1.  Needless to say I stopped reading the Bible when I got to Deuteronomy and Leviticus.  It was great for falling asleep but did nothing to quench my thirst for the Word.
1 Peter 2:2 NIV
Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,
I would attend services and I would feel the Lord moving in my life, but I felt broken and small among a bunch of people that seemed to be long-term believers.  It seemed to me as if they already had the answers to the questions I wanted to ask.  I went to a newcomer’s class and raised my hand with a question, and then was bombarded by the answer on all sides by other students.  I didn’t go back to that class. 
Last year I sat down and did some serious research.  I looked at the different translations and different types of Bibles, of which there are hundreds, and found one that I thought was easy to read for a beginner (The New Living Translation), and I bought my first study Bible.  Again I was overwhelmed by my thirst for the Word and spent many nights reading my Bible and the notes that explained everything.  It was as if I was reading the Word for the first time.  I imagine that my mature Christian friends were amused when I would rush into work and tell them what I had discovered.
I love reading the Bible.  I love listening to sermons.  There are literally thousands of sermons available for free download on the Internet.  They range from teachers who have been preaching for decades to your local church pastor.  There are the heavy sermons for the mature Christians, there are the light sermons for the beginners, and there are the every man preachers who try to focus on what is relevant today.
Hebrews 5:12 NIV
In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!
I am not an accomplished theologian.  I do not have a degree in anything relevant to the scripture.  I am a sinner who is in love with my savior, Jesus Christ.  I am a new believer bursting with joy at the promises found in the Word and I am so excited to share them with my brothers and sisters in Christ. 
I write on these passages to share those discoveries with you, so that you will not stand alone in a room full of Christians and feel small and alone in your new faith.  I write these passages so that you will not look at the Bible and all that it contains feeling overwhelmed and trembling.  On the left side of this page I have posted links to some wonderful free resources (on-line sermons, bible study and support groups) to get you started on your own path to discovery. 
Perhaps eventually I will start posting the solid food and not the milk.  I suspect that with time and devotion I will study the Bible and find deeper meaning, bigger messages, and more complex concepts.  For right now, my posts are simple.  God loves me and that’s enough.

Fast

Be still and know that I am God
Psalm 46:10a NIV

I have been praying a lot about this blog and what it should say.  I always want to make sure that I am writing something that glorifies God and His kingdom.  Many ideas and concepts have come to the front of my thoughts and prayers.  I write them all down and pray about the direction God wants them to go.  Sometimes I am surprised during my writing to discover that what I thought the article was about is completely different than what it turns out to be.

Tonight I felt compelled to go back through my posts and read the ones at the beginning.  One of my motives was to see how long this blog had been up.  The other was to look for growth in my own spiritual understanding of the Word.  My very first post was at the beginning of my forty day fast last year, hence the name of the blog.  When I read that post it suddenly became clear to me what I should do next.  It is time for me to fast again.

In the course of writing this post, I am struck by the timing of this fast in accordance with Easter.  I always believe in a forty day fast, and now I realize that there are more than forty days between now and that blessed day of celebration.  The day when Christ rose from the grave. If I had doubted before that this was God’s will for me, then there is no longer any doubt. 

As I did last year, I am going to begin a forty days – forty carbs – forty prayers fast.  My hope is that my devotion to God will reveal within me greater understanding of His Word and His will.  I pray that during this period of fasting that God leads me to the path of service He has gifted me for, so that I may bring glory to my savior, Jesus Christ.

In the coming days I will be researching what scripture has to say on fasting, finding resources for those of you that may feel compelled to surrender something in your life for forty days, and praying for God’s blessing on this endeavor.

Falling off the Wagon

From time to time we attempt to change ourselves in a way that is good.  We decide that we want to stop drinking, stop smoking, stop overeating.  We then find the perfect plan.  We jump out there and do our best.  Sometimes our best efforts aren’t enough and we fail.  We fall off the wagon.
For Christians it is different and yet the same.  Every once in awhile an area of our life is out of control and we must surrender it to God.  We go before Christ and we leave it at the cross.

At Celebration Recovery you can literally write that area down on a slip of paper and nail it to a cross.  Even after laying something at the cross, Christians will sometimes return and pick it back up again.  We turn from God’s help and find ourselves falling off the wagon.

That is why we need grace.  Grace is defined as mercy; clemency; pardon:  The Bible defines it as the mercy of God through Christ Jesus.
1 Corinthians 1:3 NIV
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
God’s mercy and grace are limitless, and that is great because we as people need it.  There have been times where I have surrendered an area of my life to God at least twenty times, and still catch myself going back for it.  At Celebrate Recovery you accept a blue chip, a symbol, when you surrender an area of life to God.  As a mark of God’s grace in our lives you can go every week to Celebrate Recovery and take a blue chip for the same thing until you finally let God start to work in your life.
The important thing about God’s grace is that it is never too late to surrender to Him.  If you mess up today, surrender to Him again tomorrow.  He always wants you.  Turn to Him and let Him help you.  Do not be ashamed that you constantly need God in your life.  Shame is not a God feeling.  Shame is from the evil one. 
The devil wants you to beat yourself up when you fail.  He wants you to turn from God, because when we turn from God it hurts Him.  The devil wants you to hate yourself so that you will not be able to love others.  When you are beating yourself you are not serving God, spreading His Word, or accepting the blessings that belong to all people.
On January 1, 2010 I started a diet.  I restarted that diet on January 4, January 16, January 22, February 1, February 7, and February 17.  I am not beating myself up.  I am not ashamed.  I may be making slow progress, but it is still progress.  I will get there in time.  I will lose weight.  I will fulfill God’s plan for my life.  I will be obedient to God.  I may start over twenty more times this year, but I will make it.  In the meantime I will not give the Devil room in my mind, my heart, or my life to use me for his purposes.  I will hold true to God’s promises and take another blue chip.
You are not your failure.  You cannot be perfect.  You will make more mistakes.  You will sin.  Next time you fall off the wagon, dust yourself off and get back up again.  Repent.  Surrender.  Obey.  Praise God.

Living at an 8

During the show Grey’s Anatomy a patient is checked into the hospital and tells the doctors that his pain level is an 8.  He has been living with this pain for years.  Much happens throughout the show, but eventually Dr. Cristina Yang is in Dr. Wyatt’s office telling a therapist that Dr. Meredith Grey has been living at an 8.  She means emotional pain, because Meredith is physically healthy. 

I didn’t know it at the time, but during the period we now call the “Long Goodbyes”, I was living at an 8.  I was separated from my daughter for a few months at a time, sometimes over 100 consecutive days.  I spent a fortune in plane tickets so that we could be together, but we were mostly apart.  During this period I was living at an 8.  I was in constant pain all the time.

The relationship between a mother and her child starts at conception, and by the time the baby is born there is already a connection.  You know your child.  You two have interacted.  The child already knows your voice.  After the child is born there is a period of post-partum where the mother suffers a feeling of loss over the physical separation from her child.  In infancy the natural state of being for the mother and the child is still one that has them together.  It is God’s plan.  Anything else just feels unnatural.

When my daughter was two, circumstances arose that caused us to live apart for about three years, with periodic visitation.  When my daughter was away from me I felt as if I were living handicapped.  As if some crucial part of me was missing.  It was like living with one lung.  I could never relax and take a deep breath.  There was no such thing as happy when we were apart.  There was content, but no happy.  Even when my daughter was with me there was always a loud ticking clock reminding me that she would be leaving in a few days or a few weeks.  It was only a matter of time.  I had to fit all the love I could into just a few days.  On top of that, I got to watch her tears, her pain, and her struggle as a little girl trying to accept the situation, and I owned all of it as well.

People would ask me how I would endure, and my answer was always, “What other choice is there but to endure?”  The only way I managed this dark period in my life was with the strength of God.  Every day of that period I felt Him near me, supporting me, strengthening me.  When I had to let my daughter go, I did so knowing that God would be with her.  Every night I would pray for God to love and hold my daughter all the times that I couldn’t.  When she got old enough, I taught her that the only person she never had to say goodbye to was Jesus, and then He was able to comfort her as well.

I am thankful to say that we are no longer apart.  In March 2009 God told me it was time to move to California to be with my child.  I told God that there was a recession.  He told me to move.  I told God that I didn’t know anyone.  He told me to move.  I told God that teachers were being laid off all over the state.  He told me to move.  I told him I had nowhere to live.  He told me to move.  So I did as God told me, and I moved.

I won’t say that my daughter and I have been dancing in a field of flowers since I got here without any worries, but I am no longer living at an 8.  There have been times when I had to choose between paying the light bill or the car payment.  There have been times when we couldn’t go to church because we didn’t have any gas.  There have been days of stress, fear, and lonliness, but it is not nearly close to living at an 8.  As Cristina Yang would say, “His 8?  My 3.”

I didn’t tell you this story so that we could have a pity party.  I shared this experience with you so that you could see that even in the darkest part of your life God is there.  He always keeps his promises.  You may have to deal with the consequences of your sins, but He will be there with you every step and every day.  Your part is to turn to Him first.  Trust the promises of the Bible.  Let Him lift you up and give you the strength to do what you cannot do alone.

Philippians 4:12-14 NIV
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.

Psalm 23:4 NIV
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Matthew 5:4 NIV
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Thank you Lord for the many ways you move in our lives and constantly bless us, even when we are living at an 8.