Humility: The Journey Toward Holiness

This is what I am about to start reading.
This book was originally written sometime in the last half of the 1800s by Andrew Murray.
This is the biography that the book gave:
Andrew Murray was born in South Africa in 1828. After receiving his education in Scotland and Holland, he returned to South Africa and spent many years as both pastor and missionary. He was a staunch advocate of biblical Christianity. He is best known for his many devotional books, including The Blood of Christ and Waiting on God.
Murray passed on in 1917.
This is what the publisher says about Humility:
When Jesus “made himself nothing … taking the nature of a servant,” He modeled for all believers true humility. Andrew Murray calls this “our true nobility” and “the distinguishing feature of discipleship.” With insightful, penetrating clarity, Murray calls all Christians to turn from pride, empty themselves, and study the character of Christ to be filled with His grace.
Boy am I in trouble.
I love books like these written by men like Watchmen Nee or C.S. Lewis or Andrew Murray… they may have been written 50 or more years ago but they are still relevant today.
I’ll let you know how it goes…
Good night and blessings,
Jen
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One Thousand Gifts

holy experience
Lately I’ve been… downsizing… the list of blogs I read, my “friends” on facebook, the tweets I follow…

I find that I only want to take in that which will encourage, feed my Spirit.

Don’t get me wrong, I think there are some pretty funny blogs and tweets out there, and I don’t just “un-friend” anyone, but those that have been “let go” just don’t make me want to read my Bible more or pray more or press into God with all that I have…

And THAT is what I need.

I was pretty stoked to come across (in)courage earlier this month. I found it through Bring the Rain and it has led me to some pretty great blogs by Christian women. That is also where I found Holy Experience. Over at the Holy Experience, today’s post was titled Gathering Joy. But not just Joy but gathering Thanks and Gratitude for what God gives us every day.

She also belongs to a group called the Gratitude Community. She encouraged us to begin to gather, to write 1,000 gifts that God has given to us. Every list will be different.

Mine is different from yours and vice versa.

This week I will start my gratitude journal and next Monday I will share with you what God has shown me.

My Story… Part 3… The End of Me and the Beginning of Christ IN Me

(Update: Sorry it took so long to post this. I took the LSAT (Law School Admission Test) this past Saturday, September 26 so I was sort of busy and also, this was probably the hardest post for me to write to date.)

So, this will probably be the second hardest of these three posts to write.

Mainly because this is where I hit rock bottom…. 2004 was probably the worse year of my life.

Within 3 months of breaking up with Mike, another guy, S, from my “past” finds me. S and I were also friends when I was in high school. He also dated a friend of mine. He never liked W. (Gee… there was a recurring theme there huh? Ahh… lust is blind…)

S was also going through a bad break up and we found in each other comfort for a little while. But I was so desperate for a relationship at that point that I pushed him away.

I pushed a lot of people away in the first year after the break up with Mike. And although Mike and I tried to keep in touch during the first 6 months after we broke up, I just couldn’t do it. So I was feeling pretty alone and lonely at this point.

At the end of December of 2004, I left working my management job at the mall and went to work for a camera repair company that my sister worked for. I worked my butt off and averaged about 50 hours a week once I was completely trained and eventually was promoted to a supervisor position.

I also started hanging out with people from work going to clubs and bars.

I just needed to not feel anything.

So, I started drinking, too. Not heavily but enough.

This was Spring 2005.

I remember one Saturday in May or June of 2005 when I didn’t go into work and was just hanging out with my sister and we got to talking about M. M and I didn’t exactly part on good terms. And I had found out he was now married with a little girl. (It’s amazing what you can find out about someone who is no longer in your life.) During this conversation, the phone rang and lo and behold, it was M.

He wanted to see me. He was at his mom’s house. Did I remember how to get there? Of course I did. How could I forget? I jumped in the shower threw on clean clothes and was out the door in 30 minutes flat.

As soon as I got to his mom’s house, it was as if nothing had changed. We were back to the way things were before Mike and before he was married… except that he was now a father and he was still married.

That summer we spent as much time together as we could. We didn’t live far from each other and he worked close to my house, so he would stop by my house in the morning before work to talk or he would leave me notes on my car. We would talk on the phone when we could but once we went for 2 weeks with out speaking. Everything was in secret.

When I finally heard from him again, he informed me that he was being deployed with his Army reserve unit for the next year and we couldn’t have contact while he was gone.

My heart was broken once again but this time was slightly different.

I started to rethink what my life was all about after one more night out with friends from work where I drank more than usual and I came on to one of the guys from work. Boy was I a mess!

It was then that I felt, I heard, God calling to me. He was saying, “My daughter, it’s time. Come home. You’ve been gone long enough.”

So I went back to my old Catholic church the following Sunday.

And for the next few Sundays after that. Every week the pews were filled and every week I felt just like a number. No one greeted me. I could slip in and out without anyone even noticing. I was beginning to wonder if this was all there was to God. It wasn’t inviting and I didn’t feel comfortable there.

(Before I continue, I must say this. This post is not to bash Catholics. In my experience, the Catholic church was not welcoming. This is not everyone’s experience, I know. For some people, going to a church like mine is too personal for them. I say, as long as you except Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior and have a relationship with Him, it doesn’t necessarily matter where you worship.)

So, I asked S where he went to church. I was praying that wherever it was, it wasn’t like my old church. I needed to know that God cared. I needed to know that God was really there. I needed to see it in human form because I hadn’t seen it yet. This was in the beginning of September, 2005.

I didn’t make it to Christ Life Fellowship until October 3, 2005.

That was the day that changed my life.

I walked in and felt calm, peaceful and like I just walked in to my home. Almost immediately I was greeted by members of the church. I also found that one of the girls who I went to school with went to that church with her family. Her uncle is the pastor there.

Within the first month, my pastor preached a salvation message, which he rarely does, and I gave my heart to the Lord. I didn’t change overnight and I was tested within the first year many times about my faith in God and who I was in Him. In the past 4 years I have been tested many times over and every time I ask myself if this life, this walk is worth it.

And every time I answer, “Yes.”

I would not change my journey up to this point. All the heartache, pain and depression – I wouldn’t give all the up for the world if it meant that I would be where I am today. I am a Daughter of Zion, a co-heir with Christ. I have a wonderfully large church family that I wouldn’t trade for anything. No matter where I go in this life. If I don’t stay in Massachusetts, if God calls me to live somewhere else, Christ Life Fellowship is my home.

Blessings,
Jen

My Story… Part 2

At this point in my story, at 18, my idea of love was quite distorted. Much like the world’s view of love.

I no longer believed in the idea of waiting until marriage. I also wasn’t so sure God could forgive me.

I had left the Catholic church at 17. I was set to make my confirmation and due to some things I disagreed with, I no longer believed I could confirm my belief in the Catholic religion. (To this day, however, I can still remember knowing that I would someday make it back to God. I wasn’t sure how or when but that I would.)

So, now that I had let go of W and he was on a track to marriage with someone else, I found myself looking for others who would care about me, love me. And I did, or so I thought. I found a band of brothers. Five guys who were there when I needed a friend or just to hang out. They protected me like family. I was their little sister. One of these “brothers” was M. There was also H, L, P and D. This little group of ours only lasted a little while. Some left for the military, others just drifted apart. To this day I only still speak to H.

My relationship with M changed during this time. I didn’t just look at him through the eyes of friendship. There was something more but he didn’t want to change our relationship. Then he got a girlfriend and I started college. After that, we rarely spoke.

I was alone and didn’t know where to turn. I spoke to very few of my friends from high school. To this day, the only one I keep in regular contact with is my friend, Meredith, who I’ve known since kindergarten.

This was all in 2000.

In the spring of 2001, I met Mike online. We chatted online and over the phone for close to 2 months before we met in person in June.

After that, we dated for about a month before he said ‘I love you.’ (Because I wasn’t going to make the mistake of giving my heart to someone before knowing they loved me even though I gave of myself physically. Strange how that works right?)

Mike was so different from W. He was kind and happy. He made me feel loved. He said it. He made me a part of his life. He was also older than me.

We had a great summer together. We went to Cape Cod for an overnight. I met his family in New Hampshire. They were unsure of us though because I was still a “teenager” to them at that time (Mike was 23). I should also note that about this time, M made it known that he was ready for us to be more than friends. I hadn’t spoken to him in a few months so he wasn’t aware of the fact that I was dating Mike. He became upset with me and I didn’t speak to him again for a few years…

Then 9/11 hit. My sister had just left to go to college on Long Island two weeks before. My family was freaked out because we couldn’t get ahold of her because all the phone lines were busy (eventually we did hear from her). We had also found out that my cousin’s husband had been reassigned to the Pentagon and his office was right in the part of the building that was hit (by God’s grace he had just left that part of the building 5 minutes prior).

Mike’s company sent him to New Jersey for a week to try to help the companies from the World Trade Center get their computer systems up and running.

As for me, I had been back at school but dropped out within the first month. I was stressed and depressed. I just couldn’t understand why anyone would do such a thing. I couldn’t wrap my head around it. So for the next few months, I worked my part time job at the mall. I applied at another school for admission for the Spring 2002 semester and was accepted. I told myself all I needed was a few months to get myself together.

By December I was feeling better but then New Year’s came and I began to question my relationship with Mike. My reasons were stupid, I know this now, but I was still holding on to my insecurities from my relationship with W and when I found out that Mike had planned for us to go to a New Year’s Eve party at his friend’s house in New Hampshire, and that his ex-girlfriend would be there, I began to wonder if he really loved me.

My depression grew worse and I was constantly on a roller coaster of emotion. And for the next two years I put us both through a lot. There were arguments and hurtful things were said.

His friends and family saw it and I know they must have said something to him but he never said anything to me. I tried therapy and it helped a little but I hated how I felt when it came to the antidepressants.

In the Spring of 2003, we planned a trip to Las Vegas but two weeks before the trip I was in a car accident and my car was totaled. We still went on the trip but it just wasn’t the same. I came home to have to purchase a car I couldn’t afford on my part time salary and decided to quit school again to work full time.

That summer I began a full time assistant manager position at a store in the mall.

That fall my parents began work on their house where I still lived with them. They had new windows put in and new siding, too.

Because of the layout of my parents’ home, my bedroom would see the most work and so I went to stay with Mike semi-permanently. (I say semi-permanently because at this point we had been dating over 2 years and I was hoping we would get engaged.)

Things still weren’t great between Mike and I but we were working through it. At least, I thought we were.

In October, he told me that although he loved me, he wanted to date other people as well as continue to date me. That conversation ended in my saying, “If you want to date other people, go ahead but I won’t date you if you do.” We continued to stay together but in late December, we broke it off completely. I wasn’t happy and neither was he.

This was the straw that broke the camel’s back. When we broke up, I was at work. I was so upset that I had to have my father bring my sister down to the mall I worked at to drive me home. Then, that night she drove me to his apartment to pick up the rest of my things.

He cried. I cried. My sister was mad.

I then rang in the New Year single one day later.

That February I took a week off and all I did was stay home and did nothing. At that time, I was so depressed I think my mother considered having me put into a psych ward…

This is the beginning of my rock bottom…

Part 3 tomorrow…

My Story… Part 1

In the last week, I have thought about the road I took to get here a lot. I get to thinking about my journey quite a bit this time of year since the anniversary of my salvation is coming up on October 3. I can’t believe that it has been 4 years since I gave my heart to the Lord through repentance and by His Grace and Mercy.

I have not told my testimony very often. Very few of my friends know where I came from before I came to the Lord. I only pray that by telling this story I will give courage to others who think that they can’t be loved unconditionally by our Sovereign God who rules with Grace and Mercy and yet is still tough when he needs to be. I not only am thankful for His Grace and Mercy upon my life but that He also disciplines those that He loves.

To tell it all may take a few posts and starts about 13 years ago when I was starting my freshman year of high school and my first boyfriend, W.

W was 2 years older and went to a different school. He  had a reputation of being a ‘player.’ I didn’t know him until the first time we met in September 1996 but I knew of him because of a friend of mine.

The attraction was immediate and dangerous. At 14, it was scary and intriguing all at the same time. I wanted to know who he was but I was scared to have my heart broken because I knew he was the type of guy who could do it and probably not care. And yet, I still found myself falling for him. (I was that girl who always wanted to be loved and never thought I was pretty enough for a boy to even like me.)

And yet, I still allowed him to pursue me and for two weeks he was mine.

Then, I broke it off. I told him the truth – I knew W could break my heart and I was too scared to let him. He didn’t come after me to try to make it work. Instead, he dated my ‘best’ friend. Needless to say, I lost my friend and my heart was still broken.

That December, just after my 15th birthday, he started to come around again. (Now, at this point I should also mention that the thing to do in my city at that time for high school kids who couldn’t drive was to go roller skating on Friday nights. So we always saw each other but we stayed away from each other. This had a little to do with another guy, M, who I had been friends with W but because of and unknown to me at the time, stopped being friends with W. But I digress…)

I wasn’t going to let him back in. And yet, all it took was one lost bet and he was in… he had my emotionally and physically. It is very much true what they say when someone tells you that you give away a part of your heart when you give yourself away physically.

I thought I could change him. I thought that I loved him enough for him to stay with me only. I thought at 15 I knew all I needed to know about love. I was wrong. One night in the backseat of his car started us down a rocky road that would last for the next 3 years. Every time we came to a place where we would date again or I would even allow him into my life, there was a fork in the road.

Really, it was an exit off of the circle we kept going around. And yet, I chose to stay…

I never wanted it to happen that way. That wasn’t how I planned it.

My parents raised me Catholic and I had come to believe that sex was for marriage. I had chosen to wait for marriage until I met W. And yet, there was no peer pressure. There was no pressure from W. That fateful night almost didn’t happen. There was nothing forced about it but I already felt that it was too late for me. So, instead of getting off the merry-go-round before it even started, we flipped the switch and away we went.

I didn’t know God’s grace then. Even as a Catholic, we were taught that you could sin and then, during penance, you could be forgiven after praying 10 Our Fathers’ and 10 Hail Mary’s. If that’s all it took, why not sin again?

And sin again I did. For the next 3 years I would endure heartache after heartache because of my own foolishness. After a few times, I could no longer claim naivete.

I was a willing participant until one day, at the age of 18 and after 3 years of our merry-go-round, I had enough.

I got off the ride.

He chose someone else.

But this is only the beginning of my story… Stay tuned for part 2.

Urgent Call to Prayer: Signs of the Times

I normally wouldn’t do this and I’ve sought God on this as well and I feel that this needs to get out to others in the Body of Christ. Also, I wouldn’t post this if my Pastor didn’t witness with it or it wasn’t from someone whom I believe hears from God. A woman I know, Bethany Yeo Temple, from JHOP Boston, posted this to her facebook profile from her friend and founder of The Call, Lou Engle. This word is regarding information that Lou received about the next five days. Please read this and ask God for discernment about the following:

Convergence

It is critical that the church in America understands the times and what needs to be done now. The natural things speak of the invisible. Natural happenings on the earth are revealing something that is going on in the spiritual realm. There is a great spiritual conflict with a rising tide of Islamic boldness being manifested. Several happenings are converging this week. First of all, our President has recently proclaimed, honored, encouraged the Muslim holy days of prayer and fasting called Ramadan. He was very silent on the National Day of Prayer but very vocal on the support of Ramadan. Interestingly at the same time a major Christian leader of the Emergent Church called for forty days of fasting and prayer in the same Ramadan period with the goal that the church will better understand our Muslim friends. We are all for understanding but we must have spiritual discernment as to the spiritual dark powers that are being invoked into our nation.

Cause for Concern

At the same time, on the 25th of September, Muslims are calling for a Muslim Day of Prayer in Washington DC (http://www.islamoncapitolhill.com/). They are calling for 50,000 Muslims to gather and pray on the DC Mall. This is the exact word of one of the Sheikhs who is leading this historic gathering, “Muslims should march on the White House. We are going to the White House so that Islam will be victorious, Allah willing, and the White House will become into a Muslim house.” These are not empty words. They speak of a dark spiritual intent and a coming day of great trouble to America.

A Divine Moment

Now one of these events is enough to awaken us to this significant throbbing moment, but when they all converge it becomes a massive spiritual alarm that must be responded to by the praying Church. However, I believe in this moment of divine providence God has raised up on the stage of history a little “Esther” that if we pray and fast for her she could be a major voice to expose the dark under-belly of Islam and radiate a bright hope for a day of salvation for Muslims in America.

Headlines

On Monday, Rifqa Bary, a young 17-year-old woman, will be in the headlines of US news. Four years ago, while living in a very devout and radical Muslim home, Rifqa met Jesus in a powerful way as her savior. She hid her conversion, began praying secretly, and began hiding her bible from her parents. Then, on Facebook, her love for Jesus was exposed to the radical Muslim community in Ohio. Rifqa’s father demanded that she renounce Jesus or he would kill her as is commanded by the Koran. As a radiant believer in Jesus she refused to renounce her Lord and fled to Orlando where she was taken in and cared for by a Christian Church and family. Now, the father is appealing to the courts to bring her back under his custody. Major television networks have already covered her story. How must the Church of America respond in this moment for our sister who is a part of the Body of Christ?

A Major Sign

This convergence, I believe, is urgently summoning us in the midst of the rising tide of Islamic influence in America to recognize that our God is above every god and that if we return to Him with all of our hearts and call upon Him with fasting and prayer then God could use what the enemy meant for evil to bring about a great day of salvation for Muslims in America, of which Rifqa is but a major sign.

Here is The Call

First of all, we cannot be passive as a Church to let these kinds of developments go on without being challenged in the spirit. Our fight is not against Muslims, it is against principalities, powers, and forces of darkness. We are calling the Church of America at the end of Ramadan, from September 21st through 25th, to five days of concerted prayer. On Monday, we must pray that God would grant supernatural wisdom to the courts so that the testimony of Jesus would be proclaimed and that the best situation for Rifqa and her family would take place. We must pray for Rifqa to be bold in proclaiming Jesus that even thousands of Muslims would hear and be awakened to the love of Christ. She has already said that this is not about her but about many Muslims coming to Jesus. We must pray for her lawyers who are being bullied, threatened, and challenged on every side. On Friday, September 25th, the Muslim Day of Prayer, we are calling the Church of America to fast and pray that Muslims would be moved by the Holy Spirit, convicted by the testimony of Christ, and even be visited by Jesus in dreams. We must pray that God would restrain the spiritual powers behind Islam and grant us the great awakening that we desperately need for America.

Let us hear the call to prayer and not miss this moment,

Lou Engle
The Call

I know for me, this word has pricked my heart and I will be praying and fasting regarding this situation. Please pray that God will use this situation to change the hearts of those who want to persecute those who follow Jesus. I have been having difficulty typing this and I hope that posting this word alone will speak for itself.

Blessings,
Jen