Don’t Let Sin Destroy Your Life

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

Sin comes in a variety of ways. It can be outright evil, or it can be sneaky. Sneaky sin is scary. If you don’t ask for forgiveness and help from God to resist it, it takes root in your life.

When I was nine years old, my parents and I were at a mall at a surf and ski shop. There were magazines and pamphlets by the front door. At first glance, they were labeled “free.” I noticed one magazine with its bright, beautiful pictures of the ocean. I knew I wanted these pictures for a wall in my room. We left the store, and I had the magazine in my hands.

My parents and I got home, and I went straight to my room. I grabbed a pair of scissors and looked at the front cover to see a price of $5.99 on it. I could feel the blood drain from my face. “Oh no, I’m a criminal!” was my thought. I ran to my dad and begged him to drive back so I could give back the magazine. My dad sighed and said, “no, it’s too far, and it’s fine.” I had tears streaming down my face. My dad soon realized this was not the right way to rectify it and consoled me, “sweetheart, we will go back tomorrow.” And we did.

At that age, I wanted nothing to do with sin. As children, we are taught not to lie, cheat or steal. Something happens to us when we aren’t stable in our faith and follow the ways of the world. We may think we are safe if we know God and have a deep relationship with Him, but the enemy loves to distract and confuse us, especially when it comes to sin.

A few days ago, I was at a bi-monthly gathering. The same people usually attend, but every so often someone new comes. There was a man who I met for the first time. He smiled at me, and I immediately felt an attraction. It felt weird and sweet at the same time. He was making small talk, but he seemed genuinely interested. I soon realized we talked for over 20 minutes straight, I decided to bring in more people into the conversation, so I wasn’t alone. For days, I thought about this situation. I felt guilty and sad that as a married woman I would be feeling like this toward someone else other than my husband.

I decided to confide in a friend, a person who I think, also as a spiritual mother. Thankfully nothing more than conversations happened between the man and me. But I told her how I felt and cried tears of shame and guilt. She lovingly listened and comforted me. My friend was truthful but understanding. She revealed that there was something deeper that I needed to explore with myself and my husband. Expose the sin and work on those areas of weakness and pain.

I think back to that time as a little girl being so guilty of accidentally taking a magazine. Why isn’t that the same reaction I have to sin as an adult? We live in a world where most sins get a free pass because everyone is doing it. When faced with temptation, ask God to intervene right that minute. Please know, that no fleshy desired fulfilled is worth the torment it will bring for months or even years. I want to spend eternity in Heaven with Jesus!

Lesson Learned: If we allow Jesus to intervene, no temptation is too great for Jesus to save us. Sinning is not worth it.

Prayer:
“Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for allowing sin to take a foothold in my life. Cleanse my mind, heart, and soul. Reveal those areas that need work and your intervention. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

Never be in a Relationship that You Cannot Talk About

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

When I was in my early 20’s, I entered into a relationship that was toxic and unrighteous. He paid attention to me in a way no one had. I entered into the relationship because I did not see myself as able to be loved or valued. Every Sunday, I would go to church, torn by conviction and guilt. Yet the next day, I was emailing and talking to him. This carried on for many months. Then one Sunday, it all changed.

I was hanging out with a friend one Sunday after church. I was suffering from this relationship emotionally and physically. It was taking a toll on me. She noticed that I was distraught. The Holy Spirit prompted her to keep pursuing a conversation with me about it.

I drew in a big breath and confessed to what I was doing it. I bawled my eyes out, condemning myself and asking why would I let this happen. She listen to me and said the relationship ends today. We prayed and she would hold me accountable.

God gave me the strength to stop and end it. I told him to never contact me again and he actually did. He had too much to lose, so I think that is why he did. I spent the next 5 years of my life afterward, still living in guilt and condemnation. I wanted to be free and receive my forgiveness wholeheartedly. But I felt if I did, I would be condoning it. I felt I didn’t deserve to be happy.

The enemy still uses our past to slap us in the face and remind us how much we have sinned. I know the Lord forgave me the first time I asked and each time after that. But I just felt this torment, that I still deserved punishment. When I met my future husband, I knew I was going to marry him. I told him what I did because I felt I had to. He was so loving and understanding about it. God used him to show me what a true and pure love should be like.

This time in my life reminds me to continually pray for protection against temptation. This situation has given me mercy and grace over those who have made serious mistakes. I can see past the initial sin and look deeper to why they may have done something bad.

I felt genuine remorse and wish I could go back in time and stop it from happening. But I cannot. I am blessed by His love that He forgave me and restored my heart. If you find that you are in a situation that is causing you to sin, stop and get help. Live a life of purity and truth.  On this Valentine’s Day remember that you are valuable and lovable.

Lesson Learned: God wants us to not be a slave to our sinful nature. He wants us to be victorious and been in healthy, stable relationships.

Prayer:
“Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you for carrying me out of mistakes I have made. Thank you for giving me the strength to end mistakes before more damage is done. Please guard my eyes from being deceived by the enemy. Show me my worth and value. Give me discernment and conviction when I am doing sinful things. Thank you for restoring those deep hurts and filling them with your love. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

There is a Unique Purpose for Each of Us

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.  I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.”  John 10:10

 

Patience is a difficult concept.  We know good things come to those who wait.  Yet we live in a world that demands things instantly.

 

Despite my own efforts, I don’t feel like I haven’t found my ultimate calling.  My efforts aren’t growing as fast as I would like and I get discouraged.  My doubts seem to be what grow instead and I wonder, where is my breakthrough?  Where are you God?  One Friday evening, I was driving to pick up my daughter at a birthday party.  This drive would change my life forever.  

 

I was approaching a very busy intersection and I had the green light.  My phone was mounted its holder near the dashboard.  I glanced down because I heard a notification. This glance was no more than 2 seconds.  All of a sudden I felt my car slam on its brakes.  I looked up to see bright lights and a car moving across the front of my car.  They went so fast through the intersection that my car shook.  That driver went through on a solid red light.

 

There was no collision. I drove out of the intersection and slowed down to about 20 miles below the speed limit. If my car was any father into the intersection or if I was in a different lane, I would have died.  As I realized what had happened, I shook and cried.  My life was saved.

 

I said, “Father God, I will never ever doubt that you have a plan for my life, because you saved me.”  My car does not have automatic braking, I didn’t brake when I saw the car.  God slowed my car down.

 

Many of us believers have a bad habit of wanting to know the exact plan God has for our lives.  We want to plan out every aspect of our lives.  There are reasons God hasn’t revealed every detail.  We have to grow, mature finish things and be content exactly where we are at.

 

There is a saying, “Bloom where you are planted.”  Wherever I am, I will do our best and for God’s glory, even though it may not be my true calling.  I will be thankful for everyday I wake up.

 

Lesson Learned: Be thankful for everyday we wake up and lovingly await God to reveal His purpose for us.

 

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for everyday you have promised me.  Give me peace and endurance during those times of waiting.  I wait in great expectation for all you have promised me.  Let there be a hedge of protection around myself and my loved ones.  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

No Need to be Dismissive

“…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

 

As Christians, it is eluded that we should be modest and humble.  We need to be giving constant glory to God.  It truly is all about Him.  However, when God trusts us with a gift, we should be bold to use it and be confident, He blessed us.  Many times, we become dismissive of our gifts.

 

My daughter was invited to her friend’s birthday party.  I saw the birthday girl’s grandmother and went to say “hello”.  We were talking about Instagram and mentioned how I tried to “follow” her.  She didn’t recognize me by the Instagram Account name, Anointed Courage.  I confirmed it was me and she accepted my request.  Then she asked, “how did you come up with the name Anointed Courage?”  I could feel a sinking feeling deep inside my stomach.

 

There were feelings of embarrassment and flat-out fear.  I started to stumble in my explanation.   But I heard the Holy Spirit say, “do not be dismissive about your writing. Be bold and sell it!”  So, I told her how I started a blog and wanted it to be a source of encouragement. I explained how I came up with the name.  I knew the courage it would take to start writing publicly and how it would take more than my strength alone, it had to come from God.

 

She was so excited and told me that she loved the name and that I was brave to publicly write. In other times of explaining my blog to others, I made my blog seem like it was no big deal. Especially, because I was not a famous writer or have a huge following on social media.

 

One has to believe in what they do with all their heart, soul and mind, even if the world doesn’t accept it because God gave them a gift.   God will always finish what He has started, even if it takes longer than what we expect or want.

 

Later that day, I saw on Instagram this picture my friend @rolanddenzel posted.

My hope is no matter the doubt or criticism one receives for taking a risk, it is better to try than to not.

 

Lesson Learned:  Whatever the dream that God planted in your heart: pray, work and listen to Him.  And do not dismiss your talents.

 

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me Lord for doubting you in using me.  I pray that our gifts be revealed and you show us how to further these talents.  May we always be humble in the success but be confident in these gifts.  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

Guarded by God

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.”  Psalm 91:11

 

Have you ever wondered why things happen the way they do?  There have been countless times, when things go badly, I grudgingly ask, “why?!”  God has good reason to allow things to happen.  One Sunday Morning, I was thankful for something going wrong.

 

Every Sunday, before church, I go grocery shopping at two stores.  One Sunday morning, I put cash, allotted from my budget, in my pocket.  Usually, it goes straight in to my wallet, but I thought my pocket was deep enough not to worry.  Also, I just had a car accident, where someone hit me from behind and I wasn’t feeling so great. (It turns out I sustained a concussion from the accident, so I definitely wasn’t well.)

 

At the first store, I did my grocery shopping.  When it was time to pay,  I reached into my pocket and my $100 bill was not there!  Reluctantly, I paid on a credit card.  However, I  decided to go home to look for that $100 bill instead of going to the second store.

 

By the grace of God, I found the $100 bill on the floor.  I put away the groceries and went back out to the second grocery store with that cash secured in my wallet.  I did my shopping and asked for help out, since I was starting to be in some pain.

 

One of the clerks at the store went out to the car with me.  As we exited the store, one of his co-workers was coming back from her meal break.  He said, “you will not believe what happened when you were out on break.  I will catch you up when i come back inside.”  Anyone would have their curiosity piqued by that comment, so  I asked him.

 

He told me something sad happened.  He began to tell me about an elderly customer that always comes into their store.  I interrupted him and said, “does he wear glasses and looks homeless?”  He said, “yes, but he isn’t homeless.  He just died in our parking lot about 30 minutes ago.”  He started to describe what happened.  Thankfully, he spared me most of the medical details.  I told him to take it easy because he witnessed something quite traumatic.  After he put the groceries away, he went back into the store.   I got into the car and began to cry.  

 

I was sad because he died so suddenly and traumatic.  But I heard the Lord say, “this is why I let you temporarily lose that $100 bill.” If I didn’t lose that money and went grocery shopping at this second store, I would have seen the whole thing unfold.   I am in NO way minimizing his death.  But the Lord knows us so well.  If I witnessed this man die, I would have been anxious for weeks, maybe months.

 

This event happened a week after September 11th.  I have read lots of stories where people who worked in the Twin Towers in New York, who were late or didn’t plan to work that day.  Whether it was because they hit traffic, their child got sick, or they had to go to the dentist because of a toothache, these things saved them from death or injury.  I know realize that even though things don’t go according to my  plan, God still has the best plan for me.

 

Lesson Learned: Nuisances can still be a blessing in disguise or a lesson that needs to be learned.

 

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, forgive for wanting life to be easy and perfect all the time.  Thank you for days when they go well and even when days do not.  May I see that your plan is always better than my plan.  I pray for a hedge of protection and your full armor everyday.  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

Didn’t Like What I Had Become

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is a way to death.”
Proverbs 14:12

Most people decide a moral code for themselves. As we grow up, in childhood through adolescence and into adulthood, this code forms. This moral code provides us with the ability to get through traumatic situations as well as making everyday decisions.

My parents taught me to be a rule follower. Whether I was in school or home, I was expected to abide by the rules. Of course, I was human and broke rules. I suffered the consequences and usually learned the first time (okay, maybe after the third time) rules are there for a reason.

I feared disappointing my parents, teachers or God, so I stayed out of trouble throughout high school and even into college. However the summer before my senior year of college, I began to question some things and loosen up on following the rules. And the reason being, I met a cute guy.

The summer before my senior year of college, I interned for a professional roller hockey team. This team and their staff were filled with really cute and athletic men. Since I love hockey and many of them played minor league ice hockey in the winter, I felt like I was in hockey heaven. Not before long I noticed their athletic trainer and equipment manager, named Mike, who was a couple of years older than me.  He began to notice me too.

Mike and I began to hang out at the rink and soon began dating each other.  He would tell me about his goals of going to medical school after he saved some money from work. His father was an assistant coach and he seemed to approve of me as well.  The family seemed great and he was driven and on his way to being successful. But there was just one thing…he was a drinker, a heavy drinker and I never drank.

To describe my drinking history would be non-existent. I didn’t try any alcohol until I was 21 years old (rule follower). And even the couple of times that I would order a drink, I would sip about 25% of the drink and be done. I never had a hangover either.

As Mike and I dated, I began to drink. I knew my tolerance level, so I still would manage to not get drunk. He would be wasted. I was the designated driver for us.  After games, we would meet a local bar. I noticed a staff member named Michelle, starting to flirt with Mike. They each already drank a 6 pack of beer and the night barely started. I was getting angry that she was aggressive and he was loving it. In my anger, the quarter of margarita I was drinking for over an hour, suddenly was gone. Mike noticed I finished with it, gave me a “high five” and diverted his attention back to me.

We decided to leave, but this time, neither one of us could or should drive. I knew that I never wanted to drink and drive because I knew the severity of drunk driving. However, I tried to drive anyway. I was driving about 5 miles per hour in a 35 miles per hour on the street but pulled over and said I can’t drive. Mike offered to drive and I told him neither one of us should drive. He got angry and said that maybe Michelle (the one flirting with him all night) should take him back to his hotel. I got mad, started the car and drove him to his hotel.

By the grace of God, I made it to the hotel. He wanted me to go up to his room and I did, even though I knew it was a mistake. Even as I made terrible choices that night, I prayed for a way to get me out of this situation. He opened the door and his father already was back from the bar.

Halleighluia!  This was my way out! Because I knew Mike would never try anything with his father there. I think Mike’s dad knew I was uncomfortable. He told me that Mike would pass out shortly and that I could stay on the couch (that was outside the bedroom) until I sobered up. I called my dad and told him that I felt to drunk to drive but I would leave as soon as I felt normal again. I drank water and rested. Sure enough Mike was passed out and I sobered up and left for home.

On the drive home, I did a lot of thinking about what became of myself. I didn’t like how I was behaving or the decisions I was making in the time I was dating Mike. It was time to stop dating him.  The next day,  I told him my decision and later that day, he was already hanging out with Michelle. Even though I knew it was the right decision, it still hurt.

I was 22 years old when this happened, I’m 40 years old now and haven’t drank any alcohol since that night.

Thank God, I didn’t get into an accident that night or was taken advantage of sexually.  So, I am glad that I realized I followed rules for a reason and my morality should be aligned with what God wanted for my life. In the next few years, I still made mistakes but I always found my way back to God.

God will always give us a way out of temptation if we look for it. To reap from sin is not a way to live.

Lesson Learned: If a choice seems knowingly bad, align it with what God would want for you and make the decision to stop.

Prayer:
“Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your mercy and forgiveness. Forgive me for making poor choices. I ask that I hear the Holy Spirit loud and clear to make the right decision. Remind me that all choices have consequences to help me not make poor ones. In those areas where there is lack, fill them with love, acceptance and grace. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

Know it alls, really don’t know it all…

The way of the fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice” Proverbs 12:15

It was a beautiful afternoon in Los Angeles and I was walking home after school from the bus stop. I decided to walk a different way home than what my mother suggested, because I believed it was faster. I knew that this way was closer, because I was sixteen years old and I knew more than my mother. After ten minutes of walking, I realized that this way was a terrible choice because a creepy man was following me in his car.

I began to walk faster. The way I chose was on a very isolated street, a kidnapper’s ideal situation. No houses were on the street and people did not drive on the street often. The way my mom suggested was through the neighborhood, loaded with homes. I would hear him drive up and then slow down and he would roll down his window and look at me in a way that would make all the hair on the back of one’s neck stand up, then he would speed off. As I came up on my street, I noticed a little boy playing basketball. He lived on the corner. I didn’t see the creep, so I ran across the boy’s lawn. Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw the guy driving by again. I stopped and pretended to have dropped something on the lawn. I knew I could not let him see where I lived. I looked at him again and he drove off. I ran back to the boy playing basketball. I said, “Please help me a man has been following me”. He ran and got his mom. His mom came out and saw me crying. Her son told her what was going on and she invited me inside and let me call the police. She told me she would walk me home and make sure that he would not hurt me. We walked across the street to my door and watched me go inside. She said, “lock that door and you are safe now”. I am not sure if the police found him, but he never came around again. I also made sure, I didn’t walk that way, ever.  Lesson learned, listen to your mother and carry pepper spray!

I believe this happens with us and our relationship with Jesus. He warns us about sin and how it will destroy us. We think, “well everyone is doing it” or “a little bit won’t hurt if I do this some of the time”. We will be forgiven when we repent our sins, but our blessings will be hindered if we don’t wise up and listen to Him. This event happened over 20 years ago, but I still thank the Lord that He kept me safe.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father,

Forgive me for not trusting your will for my life.  Remind me that you know what is best for me. Thank you for the life you planned for me. Give me strength to run the race of this life.  I am grateful that you are the Wonderful Counselor. In Jesus’ Name. AMEN!