A Beautiful Picture of God’s Grace

“What gives me the most hope every day is God’s grace; knowing that his grace is going to give me the strength for whatever I face, knowing that nothing is a surprise to God.” — Rick Warren.

Without fail, nearly every day on the news, we hear of another crime or another death taking place. Nowadays, the news and media in general, is nothing but a sad platform for the ugliness in today’s world. Nearly everyone heard the sad news of a shooting in Charleston, South Carolina last week. A young man took the lives of nine people in a place of worship.

Hearing such news makes my stomach turn and heart break so much! Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, Satan is very much alive and well in today’s corrupt society. God knew what he was doing when he portrayed him as a snake in the Garden of Eden; he is sly, sneaky and venomous. Satan does not care about who he might hurt; his only goal is to turn people away from Christ in whatever way possible. Any time we sin, no matter how big or small, we turn away from God and Satan gets his way. I think many people in today’s world have a skewed view of God. Sadly, many people tend to blame God for all the corruption and evil in the world. When, in fact, He is not the one to blame—Satan is. Satan knows the Bible extremely well. If he did not, he would not be able to manipulate people’s minds by twisting the Word of God.

What many people do not realize either, is that man-made resources are not the problem in today’s evil. Every form of sinfulness stems from a heart problem. We sin because we are selfish, prideful human beings. Jealousy and anger are outward effects of inward pride. No matter how much we try to stop it, we are all prideful. It is only with the power of Jesus that we can choose not to act in sinful ways when said pride consumes our souls. Only He can calm down a deceptive, broken, and contrite heart.

Now, I am sure some are asking, then why did the shooter still commit the crime, even though he almost thought about not doing it? That’s right, the shooter stated in his confession that he almost did not kill because of how nice the people were. Just as God has the power to bring people to Himself, He also has the power to harden hearts. God did not call everyone to be His children. In fact, He hardened Pharaoh’s heart EIGHTEEN times before he believed in Him! Some might see that as a corrupt and evil move by God, but it is really is not. God created everything and everyone in this world. Someone that awesome can do whatever He wants. It is not cruel because He makes Himself known to everyone. Even those in third world countries missionaries are unable to reach out to can know God: His Word, all of creation, and His people are there to proclaim His majesty. That truth alone shows exactly why people have a heart problem. I know this is true because I was one of those people, and I am not ashamed to say so. I spent years shutting out God, rebelling against Him, and refusing to believe that His Word was true in my heart. I did not have a problem believing all He proclaimed in my head. That was not the issue at all. No, it took years for my pride to fall. It took years for me to transfer what I believed in my head to my heart. The moment someone makes that transfer is the moment he or she must surrender all to Jesus, to give away the control. That was what made it so hard for me. I did not want to give up my control and let go of my pride. And sadly, though I do not know the Charleston shooter, his pride probably ensued him to commit the crime.

Even though the story is a sad one, it also is such a beautiful picture of God’s grace. The day that each victim’s family members and friends told the shooter they forgave him for his act of evil was the day that God proclaimed His greatness to the ends of the earth. Even in the midst of so much corruption, He made Himself known through His people. That alone is what makes this such an emotional event in history. The LORD God WILL be proclaimed. Testimonies matter because of events like the Charleston shooting. Until the end of time, Christ will prevail due to the power that lies within someone’s testimony. No one can tell you how God worked in and through your life. That is a gift and blessing that will never stop giving. It is up to you on how you choose to see evil because there will always be evil. Satan will always try to be stronger than God, but that will never happen. God’s strength is like a consuming fire.  I challenge you, next time you turn on the news and see evil, don’t blame God, but pray for the corruption in the world. Pray that God may break your heart for what breaks His. Most importantly, take every chance to forgive and be His light in this dark world. Cling to what is good, and shout it out for all the world to hear. Share what God has been doing in your life. After all, you never know who is listening. God can do mighty and immeasurable things–believe it–because I have experienced it!

Face the Fear of Judgement with Cream Cheese

“As soon as you share your concerns about swearing or about avoiding certain movies or about sexual purity or just plain godliness, people look at you like you have a moralistic dab of cream cheese on your face from the 1950s.” – Kevin DeYoung, “The Hole in Our Holiness”

I love this quote above because it speaks so much truth. Within a week, I will be 21 years of age, and to tell you the truth, I am not planning a big blow out of a celebration for it at all. I do not plan on getting trashed that day like society claims is the right thing to do. In fact, I probably won’t have a drink on my birthday. I told someone that the other day, and he judged me for it. In fact, most everybody that I say that to judges me.

God specifically calls His people to not get drunk in Ephesians 5:18, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” He does not say there is a problem with consuming alcohol. He says there is a problem with getting drunk. God gave us pleasures to be enjoyed, but not to be over excessively and uncontrollably consumed.

This past weekend, my fiancé and I spent time with a wonderful group of friends.  Yes, there was alcohol, and no, I did not drink. The best part was we had a great time of fellowship and a gathering of believers that did not involve drunkenness. Now, I am not writing this to harp on people and tell them how to live their lives. No, I am writing this to keep myself accountable, as well as share truth.

You know, I think that is what a lot of people who tend to judge believers do not understand. We, as believers, are tempted just as much as everyone else. Just because we have the Holy Spirit in us, does not mean we do not face the same temptations as everyone else every day because, believe me, we do. Even Jesus was tempted! Perfect, sinless Jesus was tempted, and yet He did not give in! “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.” – Hebrews 4:15. He knows exactly how we feel. Despite what some people may believe, that is beautiful and so encouraging!

Yes, I will fail and I will sin, but I can be encouraged knowing that my pain and my temptations were not beyond Jesus. To know that the One who loves me with such a deep and unconditional love experienced all of life’s temptations, did not give in, and yet still loves me who does give in most days, that is incredible. He is a someone worthy to be praised and adored. I know I will be able to face any temptation or trial that comes my way only through His power and strength. “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13.

Yes, I know that when I turn 21, I will constantly face the judgements of people who are shocked to know that I will not get drunk, or I will constantly face judgements for being sexually pure, or I will constantly face judgements for growing in my relationship with Christ. No matter where I am in my life, I will always face judgements. I know I am not perfect either. Judging me for what I believe or how I live my life, though, is not beneficial to anyone. I could finish this by saying do not judge, and it could be as simple as that, but I know life does not work that way. Humans are sinful; by our very nature, we judge. So instead of telling you not judge, I will ask you this: Where’s your heart? Take five minutes to ask yourself, why do I judge others in the first place? I can tell you right now, I tend to judge people out of insecurity. I want to be someone that I am not, or I get jealous or envious. But that does no good for the human soul and heart. It is in those nasty moments we need Jesus the most.  We should not let the fear of judgment stop us from being whom God created us to be, instead we should all strive to add the cream cheese on our faces.

Blessings,

Renata

Shout It from the Rooftops, He is God!

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” – 1 Peter 3:15.

This past week, I entered into three businesses that shared the Gospel. One business had a Bible verse on the wall, and the other two had Christian music playing in the background. What made each of these occurrences interesting was that none of them out-rightly proclaimed they were Christian. For example, it was not a Christian bookstore, such as Family Christian, or a Christian coffeehouse. Though they may not have fit the idyllic “Christian mold,” they did not refrain from sharing about God.

I have much respect for businesses that use their operation to spread the Good News about Christ. These companies walk with no fear knowing their God is for them and with them always. There should be no such thing as a timid Christian. Nothing about the majesty, greatness, and beauty of the Almighty Father should make us timid. It should be shouted from the rooftops for all to hear.

However, there is something to be said about spreading the Gospel, too. We, as a society, cannot hold onto material possessions to do so. Yes, using a canvas and music is a great way to spread the Gospel, but it should not be the only way. I am not saying that everyone should leave what they are doing and become a missionary overseas either. No! That is not my point at all.

My point is that your mission field is your LIFE. It is one of our greatest calls in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” Everything we do should bring glory to God: It is how you react to a sticky situation at the supermarket. It is how you behave behind the wheel when running late. It is the way you love others. It is the way you forgive and wash others with grace. It is especially the way you lovingly share with someone about their sin. We have no idea when God is coming again. No idea. We should live every day as if he is coming in the very next moment. If we truly revere Christ with all our hearts, we should only yearn to be that light in the world. People should be able to look at us and wonder, “What makes them filled with so much joy in the midst of all of life’s chaos?”

Have you all seen or heard of companies sharing the Gospel that may surprise people? How do you feel about businesses doing so? Let me know what your thoughts are! It could be a great discussion!

Blessings,

Renata

I Cling to You, Always

cling to you; your right hand upholds me.” – Psalm 63:8

The past couple of weeks have probably been some of the hardest on me financially since I moved out almost three years ago. You know, it is crazy just HOW MUCH money we need to live from day-to-day. It is funny how the second we think our bank accounts are working towards filling up, another life event snatches it all away. Though it seems as if I am doing nothing but paying bill after bill, I am content and I am at peace.

In Matthew 11:28, the LORD said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” It is an incredible feeling to know I can give all my financial worries away to God. Of all topics in the Bible, God frequently talks about not loving money the most. In fact, Hebrews 13:5 states, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” Now, THAT is some amazing TRUTH. Though I have spent much of my week, doing what any dutiful adult should do, I have done so with gratefulness and contentment.

This past week has taught me that God really does know what He is talking about, and exactly what He was doing when He created the earth and everything in it. I am sure some of you are reading this and going, “Duh, of course He does. He is God!” But, have you really thought about just how awesome it is to know God will always care for you, and that someone else has already done all the gritty hard work of figuring out life?! In my most recent marriage counseling session, I learned word for word—with no doubt or question in my mind—exactly what role I am supposed to play in my upcoming marriage. I do not know about you, but that was such a RELIEF to me. I do not view following God’s commands with how to live my life, whether it is in my future marriage, with my money, my actions towards others, and my actions towards myself as rules and regulations. No, in fact, I gladly, graciously, and humbly bow before my God ready to follow Him. Following His commands is just another way I can express how much I love Him.

He is worthy of all my praise, for He is the Creator and Sustainer of the earth. No matter how much I try to be my own sustainer and comforter, I cannot and will not be able to do so according to God’s standards. It is a comforting feeling to know that I will never go through life alone because I have God. In fact, I do not have to go through life alone! He does not want me to! He tells us to COME. No level of success, money, power, or human love will ever compare to how MUCH God cares for me. I know that not everyone reading this may be a Christian believer. I am not writing this post to stand on my soapbox and be a Bible thumper. No, I am writing this because I LOVE sharing the hope and security I have in Jesus. I can go to bed tonight just before I get my next paycheck, and know that financially making it through this past week was possible ONLY because of Jesus. I know not everyone has financial problems, and I get that. However, no problem is too big for the Almighty Father.

Blessings,

Renata