The Father’s Embrace

For the majority of my life, I struggled to feel truly loved by my dad, who was an on-again, off-again recovering alcoholic. Because of that missing piece, I longed to find love and constantly sought out approval and attention from boys, giving myself away piece by piece- first becoming entangled by pornography, then slowly moving toward sexual encounters beginning at the tender age of twelve and going on until I was about 22 years old- a whole decade of my life.

I knew John 3:16 by heart, but I didn’t fully understand it. I couldn’t shake the religious upbringing that taught me only about a vengeful, angry God who would smite me down if I were not perfect. I still felt like I had to work for forgiveness and love. That performance-driven mentality affected all areas of my life. No matter how hard I tried to be perfect, I never felt good enough.

I reached a point where I stopped trying and just lived. In college, I made plans to run away to Los Angeles. I would be an actress and prove to the world my worth, talent, beauty and charm. But, one Sunday morning, only a couple months after I graduated, my eyes were truly opened to my selfish and sinful existence.

I hadn’t been to church in years, but one morning I went with my mom and sister. During the worship service, I began to experience this deep conviction that I was living a reckless and selfish life; I had been running away from God. Immediately, I knew I needed to repent start running toward Him, back into the Father’s arms. In that moment, I realized where I truly belonged. Right there, with hands lifted in worship, and tears streaming down my face, I repented of my pride and rebellion; I told God that I didn’t want to live this life on my own anymore, and that I wanted to surrender to His plan. 

But only a few short months after this change began in my heart, I received some traumatic news- someone murdered my father outside of a strip club. His lifestyle landed him in the wrong crowd, and it tragically cost him his life. Although I lost my earthy father, I discovered a Father’s love that is stronger than anything I’ve ever known.

Since that time in my life, God has completely healed me, transformed me, and shown me His overwhelming love as my Father, who will never leave me. The most powerful revelation I received once I started seeking God as found in the first chapter of the book of John.

“But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be[h] children of God, to those who believe in His name,13 who were born, not of blood,[i] or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man,[j]but of God” (John 1:12-13, HCSB).

What a powerful reminder for us! Jesus died so that we could have unending fellowship with the Father. When you fully embrace Jesus, the Father embraces you. Jesus gave us the privilege of being called God’s child, and He made a way for us to have access to the Father. No what matter what you have done, you can never outrun His love. You are never too far gone for His reach. He will rescue you and use you for His purpose in the earth. Receive Jesus and the work of the cross and learn to stand in the most important position you will ever hold in this life- a child of God!

Father, help me learn to be satisfied with Your love above all else. You are the only One can satisfy my longing to find love and acceptance. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Tagged : / / / / /

The Crucial Point Most Affairs Begin (And How to Avoid It)

Most little girls dream of growing up to be a mother, a wife, a teacher, a doctor, a marine biologist, a chef, an actress, a singer…

… but not an adulteress.

That’s not a title I thought I would ever carry, but at 19 years old, I found myself entangled in an affair with a married man.

He was nine years older than me and was cast to play my boyfriend in a musical at a local community theatre company. After rehearsal one night, he asked for my phone number because he was going costume hunting over the weekend and said he would call me to give me details if I wanted to tag along. We didn’t end up going together, but he did call me when I got back to my dorm room that Sunday night. He started to talk to me about his costume ideas for a few minutes, and then quickly said he didn’t actually call me to talk about costumes, but to just talk to me because he was lonely. There was an uncomfortable silence, and then I changed the subject quickly.

He ended the conversation by telling me that he couldn’t wait to see me at rehearsal the next day. The interaction during our scenes together started to become more believable as rehearsals went on, and he decided to add more physical affection during our time on-stage than what the script described.

The way he gazed into my eyes during our duets was so intense and passionate. He would sing his love songs to me and my heart would just melt. It was becoming very difficult for me to separate my acting abilities from my true feelings for him.

Choosing to Follow My Heart:

The show opened and closed, but our love affair continued on. During the day, I would skip class, so we could go on lunch dates. At night, he would drop his wife at choir practice at the symphony hall down the street from my dorm and then swing by and pick me up for our weekly date-night in the city. At restaurants, he would hold my hand from across the table and gaze into my eyes, telling me how much he loved me, how unhappy he was in his marriage and how his wife treated him so badly, but being with me made him forget about all of that. He promised we would be together in the end. I believed every single word, and at the same time felt ravaged inside. I had set it in my heart that I was going to rescue him from his mean and hateful wife.

Oh, what a fool I was!

Affairs Begin in the Heart

In the sermon on the mount, Jesus boldly addresses adultery:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Matthew 5: 27-28, NIV

The sin of adultery – like most other sins– isn’t just an outward act but begins in the heart.

There are many verses in the Bible regarding the significance of the heart of man, butI wanted to highlight these three because I believe they give us clarity on how the sin of adultery (and others) can creep into our lives and what we can do to prevent temptation from becoming sin:

1. We should never trust our heart

“The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 NKJV)

2. We are to protect our heart

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23, NIV).

3. We are to trust the Lord with our whole heart

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NASB).

Learning to Follow God:

I was “the other woman” for about a year, and when he was through with me, he moved onto someone else who played his girlfriend in another musical. It was all a blur of empty kisses and empty promises. I allowed the sin of adultery to drag me even further into the pit of self-destruction with other men while I was in college, creating more wounds and more soul-ties, but the story didn’t end there, praise God!

I eventually committed my life to Christ shortly after I graduated college, and the Lord delivered and healed me. It was a long process of learning how to walk the narrow road, but God’s grace continues to give me the strength to keep putting one foot in front of the other as I follow Him.

God Can Redeem Your Mess

I look back over this time in my life, now a very happily married woman of 10 years and a mother of two precious little boys (and one little prince or princess on the way!), and I can’t help but thank God for His mercy and grace. Instead of feeling shame and guilt from my past sins, I can now glean from these wrong choices to help strengthen my marriage and ensure that it doesn’t become susceptible to the sin of adultery.

I believe the Lord can take my mess and turn it into a message for others, both married couples and single people. I never want to give glory to my past sins, but only give glory to the One who can redeem us from our sins and give us the strength to escape every temptation. Most of all, I long to lead you to truth and obedience to Christ one step at a time in the right direction.

Tagged : / / / / / / / /

Let Not Change Move You

Growing up, I learned very early on that not much in my life would stay consistent and that the pattern of my life would include a lot of change, and sometimes drastic change. From my parents’ divorce to my mom’s remarriage to a man she met on the internet (remember AOL chatrooms?) to the birth of another sibling when I was in middle school to moving homes every two years throughout grade-school and middle school to my father’s constant on and off battle with alcoholism to a sudden complicated break up with my high school boyfriend of two and a half years. It did not take long for a heart of anxiety to be formed in my life because there was not much in my life that I could run to for security. 

So as I got older, I ran to other things, other people. I quickly became ensnared by alcohol abuse and did many dangerous things that only served to create glue-strong attachments to other people — things like an adulterous relationship with a married man and countless one-night stands with random men I followed home from the bar. I was constantly anxious and depressed.

But, after I graduated from college, my eyes were truly opened to my selfish, promiscuous existence and my deep desire to find something firm and secure. I hadn’t been to church for years, but one morning I went. During the worship service, God met me in my mess and convicted my heart. Immediately I knew I needed to stop running away from Him and start running toward Him.

In that moment, I realized He was the security and peace I was searching for. I told Him I didn’t want to live this life on my own anymore and I repented for my rebellion and unbelief. I knew that all I was searching for could only be found in Jesus. I resolved to stand upon the secure foundation of the Rock, Jesus Christ, who never changes. After that moment, my whole world changed as God began transforming my heart. It was by far the best change I have ever experienced!

You may not have experienced difficult and often painful change in your life exactly like I did, but I’m sure you have realized that change is inevitable while we are here on this earth.

Change is just a part of life.

How we handle that change is really where we will discover where our hope and sense of security lies. If change is causing us to worry or stress out, we need not to run to other things or people to try to fix our anxiousness. We will always be disappointed, left feeling empty and even more anxious. We must run to God.

Philippians 4:6 tells us that we must not allow anxiety to overwhelm us, but instead, we are to come to God in prayer and cry out to Him with our requests, full of a thankful heart knowing He hears us.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

Philippians 4:6, ESV

Nothing is too small when it comes to our prayers to God; He wants us to come to Him about everything! God not only hears our prayers; He responds with giving us His peace and protection. 

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:7, ESV

God’s peace is like nothing else this world can offer; it is beyond all human logic or reasoning.

He promises to protect our hearts and minds when we dwell on our position in Jesus, as forgiven children of God. He is not only the Creator and sustainer of life, but He is our heavenly Father that longs to protect and provide for us. 

So at the turn of 2020, are you undergoing a lot of change, whether by your own hand or by unforeseen circumstances? Is this change causing you to worry?

Instead of allowing these worries to drive you to other sources in an attempt to bring relief, make a list of these worries and take them to God is prayer today. He hears every request. You can find peace and rest assured that He is the One who never changes. Even if everything around you feels like shifting sand, remember that Jesus Christ is firm and secure.

While you are writing down your requests, listen to the old hymn, My Hope is Built on Nothing Less and reflect upon the One who is the only strong and constant foundation.

Tagged : / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /