Archive for the ‘Testimonies’ Category

The following is a discussion that came about based on a question to Christians. The question read as follows: Which is appropriate for a Christian to say about themselves?

A. I’m a sinner, saved by grace
B. I was a sinner, but I’ve been saved by grace

For me the real point of this little quiz was to provoke people to think about their identity in Christ and how God truly sees those of us who have been saved. While the names of these participants have been exposed to the internet already, I am going to use only first names here. Also I am going to edit some of the comments for the sake of space but will do my best to keep the original sentiment intact. This exercise confirmed for me what I’ve known for quite sometime which is for the most part Christians have an identity crisis; and when we don’t know who we are in Christ it affects every area of our lives.

The overwhelming majority of people who responded see themselves as sinners, more than twenty, even though they claim to be saved and or born-again. I’ll let the responses speak for themselves. Here they are.

Dave: A. for all have sinned, and come short of the Glory of God.

Dona: B. I have been made perfect in Christ…!!!

Tammy: We are still capable of sinning…but with his love and forgiveness “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” Philippians 4:13

Joyce: A…we are still sinners…but, one day we will be like HIM!!

Ron: Not sucking me into this one.

Louie: Thanks so much for the responses but before I tell you my answer let me ask one more question. When Paul addresses his letters to the saints at Rome, Ephesus, Philippi, Colossae, etc. is he addressing you? If so does that mean the terms “saint” and “sinner” is interchangeable?

Dawn: A. God’s grace saved me. I’m still a human, still sin and won’t be perfect until He calls me home.

Dawn: I believe yes to your follow up question. Saints and sinners are the same. Saints saved by grace.

Louie: Here’s a thought: Before Adam disobeyed (ate the forbidden fruit) he wasn’t a sinner was he? I would say no. This means we don’t have to be a “sinner” to commit a sin. I think the Bible is clear that if we are “in Christ” we are a new creature (saint). This of course doesn’t mean we cannot commit a sin but according to 1 John it does mean we will no longer “practice” sin. So with all that being said, I think B. is the appropriate answer. If Jesus came to seek and save that which is lost I am either lost or found. I cannot be a lost/found person can I? “By His doing you (me) are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, ‘Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord (1 Corinthians 1:30-31). “For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14). All of this is the work of the cross. “He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:17). “All the fullness of the Godhead dwells in him in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete…” (Colossians 2:9-10).

Tammy H.: This is to your follow up question…saints are not sinless. The word saint means sacred. All who belong to Christ by faith are saints. We are born in sin. You become a saint by being reborn. But it doesn’t mean that you won’t sin.

Tammy H.: I was wrong it is B…sorry. I should have thought longer before answering…

Ron: 1 Cor. 13:9-12: We don’t always see ourselves as he sees us. Face to face is when we see the perfect complete creation. We know that we are complete/perfect in his eyes! Still have to live in an imperfect world in an imperfect sack of flesh! We still make mistakes. Face to face we will know as we are known. Amen

Louie: my thing with this line of questioning is based on my desire for us Christians to really see ourselves as God sees us. Jesus Christ paid much too high a price for us to go around seeing ourselves as sinners. He has bought us with a price, made us whole and set us apart for a purpose. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit, we are a branch for Him to produce fruit through, and we are to be an expression of Christ for the world to see.

Ron: Don’t forget about the thorn that Paul carried around his whole earthly life. Think Grace.

Tim: What difference does it make A or B whether we believe we are a sinner or not?

Louie: Tim, the short answer is we are what we think. If we see ourselves as a sinner we will continue in sin. If we see ourselves as someone freed from sin less sin will manifest. “As a man thinks in his heart so is he.” Viewing ourselves as a sinner tends to become a cloak for sin. If we see ourselves as that we give ourselves an excuse. Well, I’m a sinner so I guess I can’t help it if I sin, so I might as well.

Ron: Got some people in the Word tonight. If you noticed I never did give my answer. According to the Word I believe in my spirit that the answer is…

Louie: Think about the song “Amazing Grace.” I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.” Part of being a witness for Christ is telling others I once was one way but now I’m another. It is all about our identity. Here’s another illustration. When we are born we are born a sinner (Pig). When we are born again we become a brand new creature not just a washed off pig. The nature of a pig is to wallow in the mud and like it. Once we are born again we become a new creature let’s say a sheep. The nature of a sheep isn’t to wallow in the mud and like it. No, in fact a sheep may very well find himself in the mud (sin) but rather than stay there he will get up and go the shepherd to clean him. So we are no longer pigs (sinners) we are sheep (saints).

Tim: This is what happens when we take proof texts to try and describe a biblical concept. Paul takes the whole book of Romans to systematically outline the doctrines of Justification and Sanctification. Legally in God’s eyes we are as you say, perfect sinless saints, but experientially we still wrestle with our sinful nature. So in a sense both A. and B. are true. The danger for each is that if we lose sight of our position in Christ we will live like sinners. However, we should not let our guard down to our sinful condition.

Louie: This idea of a sinful nature is a tough one, but I believe once we are born again we no longer have a sinful nature. In fact I believe we humans have no nature of our own. According to Ephesians 2:1-3, we were all dead in trespasses and sins and were “by nature” children of wrath because of the spirit that works in the children of disobedience. The good news is now that we are in Christ we are a “partaker of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). So in my view we are either by nature a child of wrath, because of the spirit of error indwelling us, or we have been born again and have become a partaker of the very nature of Christ. Either way we have no nature of our own rather we are joined to the nature of another.

Tammy S.: Sinner does not mean one who sins. In the Word, sin and death means separation. So a sinner is one who is separated from God by sin. The thing is we should only say about ourselves what God says and He NEVER calls His children sinners so neither should we. You know I bowl sometimes but I don’t identify myself as a bowler. I was a sinner, but I got saved by God’s marvelous grace, and now He says I’m a saint. In my spirit I am the perfect new creature that I am going to be throughout all eternity, and I am in the process of renewing my mind to think like the new creature He created me to be. Hallelujah!!

Tim: Oh boy, this could turn into a big can of worms based on our different understandings of the doctrines of the human condition and such.

Karen: I like to say it like this; I am not a sinner because I sin. I sin because I am a sinner born with a sinful nature however now saved by grace in Jesus name.

Louie: There are no worms here Tim just some people discussing what faith in Jesus Christ means. I don’t think there’s any bad vibes here. “Iron sharpens Iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).

Heather: There is none that is perfect…No not one! Salvation is a free gift of undeserved mercy for the sinner, so we are saved by Jesus Christs’ sacrifice and grace. We are to turn from sin and follow Christ. However, we may fall and stumble along the path until we are made perfect in Heaven with our Lord. So we are a sinner, saved by grace. A.

Ron: Are we done yet? Just kidding. Good debate. No winners. Saved by grace through faith. Sinner or saint doesn’t matter what word you use to describe yourself. Saved by grace through faith is what’s important. Amen.

Tammy S.: Thank you Lord for revealing to me who I am in you.

Keith: We are new creatures. Thinking that we are not sinners doesn’t make us not sinners, and having a sinful nature/body doesn’t cause us to sin more…unless we use that excuse. There’s only one human who walked the earth that was sinless: Jesus Christ. There’s no way we can say we ever become sinless, or that we don’t sin anymore. We ALL sin no matter what. So when we do sin, what then? Are you not born again? A child of God anymore? You still are!

Louie: Wow! This was amazing. Obviously there are deep rooted beliefs about whether or not we should call ourselves “sinners” after we’ve been born again. This reminds me of how many people, who have had an addiction, see themselves as an addict forever. To me we have a choice to make either we see ourselves as the world or (tradition) sees us or we see ourselves as the Bible sees us. According to the Word, “If any man be in Christ he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). I’m going to leave it here but maybe we’ll try another little quiz soon. Thank you so much for the great participation. I’ve learned a lot.

Keith: In addition to being a deep-rooted belief (because of what God’s Word tells us), you/we have to take his Word collectively, as a whole, and base you beliefs on that, not on a verse here and there. **I’m not saying you are I’m speaking in general about KNOWING what God says.

Kelly: After reading all of your posts, I still agree with answer A. Our spirits are saved by faith and God’s grace, and because we seek to be like Him, we ask for His will and guidance in our lives, and we trust Him to “lead us not into temptation,” so to speak. But, while we are still human, our nature is still sinful from birth on. We sin daily…even the slightest rude thought towards another is a sin. Angry reactions and harsh words, even simple sarcasm, to people and circumstances, is sin. Ever thought of another woman Louie? Lust? Ever wished you had as much as someone else? Envy or coveting however you chose to say it. Ever told a teensy weensy, well-meaning lie? It’s still a lie. Ever cursed in your mind but not out loud? God still hears it. Not one of us can say not to any of these. But, as Christians, we know it is wrong, and we repent daily, even minute by minute for some of us (me!!). I am no theologian by any means, and I don’t have 100 verses of scripture to back up what I’m saying. But I DO know I can never lose my salvation, if I am truly saved. And because He lives through me, I can have the strength to go on KNOWING I am a sinner, saved by His grace through my FAITH in Him. It is through that very faith that we turn to Him to forgive us, daily, of our sins and to try to keep from those sins to the very best of our ability. And when I get to see Him, because of my faith and trust in Him, I know I will hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” I screw up daily, not because I want to, but because I am not God. I am not perfect. But I love Him for loving me despite all my wretched faults. And I will sleep well knowing I am a forgiven child of the King every night. God bless you for making me think on this tonight, I hope and pray I haven’t offended anyone with my beliefs. Goodnight.

Louie: No one is indicating a Christian can’t or won’t sin. The original question was about how we identify ourselves. Jesus himself said, “I came to seek and save the lost.” The good news is once He has saved us we are no longer lost. Whenever a blind man was touched by Jesus he went away seeing, so do we still call him a blind man? When a lame man was healed by Jesus, was he still lame? What about Lazarus? After Jesus raised him from the dead would we consider him to still be a dead man? Look to nature for a minute with me. Have you ever looked at a butterfly and said to yourself, “Look at that beautiful caterpillar?” Pertaining to thoughts, do you think, no pun intended, Jesus ever had a “bad” thought? For instance in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus didn’t appear to want to do what God wanted, He said, “my soul is deeply grieved and sorrowful (thoughts and feelings), even unto death” and “If there’s any other way.” Thoughts and feelings come and go all day everyday and we simply cannot control all of them nor do I think they are necessarily sin. There is a place where a thought becomes lust but simply having a renegade thought doesn’t automatically mean it’s sin.

In conclusion let me saypart of my job as a student of the Bible is to question traditions and rituals to see if they line up with the Word of God. I hope this has rattled a few of you, at least to the point of making sure of what you know. All I ask is that you don’t allow your thoughts and feelings to override what God says to be true about you. Our thoughts and feelings are to be the caboose not the engine.

Louie

 

The following is an e-mail conversation that took place over a couple days. I thoroughly enjoyed this and hope to do more, but for now I thought I would share it in the hope it helps encourage others too.

Louie: What do you think about discussing a verse or two, and each of us can add a comment or question at our leisure. What do you say? If you’re in then let’s begin with spirit/soul and body.

Check out these verses and let me know what you think.

Hebrews 4:12
1 Thessalonians 5:23

Tracey: I love this idea of email biblically based conversation. So here it goes…Hebrews 4:12 is one of my favorite explanations of dividing between Spirit, soul and body. It gives us permission to be human. For example, the soul, joints and thoughts go together because they all move and we don’t necessarily have control over them. But the Spirit, marrow and intentions are steadfast, unmovable, and where the life is. So, it explains that being human is okay. It doesn’t give us permission to sin, however, but it gives a great explanation of how the Word of God divides the three parts.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:23 this verse points to my sanctification, as if it isn’t my mine at all, but that of Christ. He doesn’t leave any thing out as if I may mess it up. It is Him who I am depending on for my Spirit, soul, and body to preserve me until the coming day of Jesus Christ.
What a load off of my self effort and we can fully or wholly, depend on Him for our keeping. All parts of us.

Cindy: Is our spirit and soul not the same?

Louie: One of the main things I wanted to look at in these two verses is that spirit and soul are in fact not the same. This is why all three: spirit, soul and body are mentioned in 1 Thessalonians and in Hebrews 4:12 we are told, “The Word of God divides (or distinguishes) between soul and spirit.”

Like Tracey said, “soul, joints and thoughts” are one category and “spirit, marrow and intent” are the other. If you think about the joints of your body and how they are designed to move, and how they coincide with our soul, you will start to see that our soul level was created by God to change or fluctuate. The reason for this is because our soul is primarily made up of our thoughts and feelings (emotions) and they change all the time don’t they? On the other hand, our “spirit” is a bit deeper coinciding with the marrow of our bones which is where the real life is. Then again if it wasn’t for the life in the marrow (spirit) there could be no life or movement in our joints (soul). So the truth is we are spirit beings designed for God’s Spirit, joined to our spirit, to be expressed through our souls (thoughts, feelings, personality).

But the real point here is that we are spirit and if we’ve been born again “He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:17). This means we are designed to live from our spirit, where the life (Spirit of God) is instead of our soul that is designed to move with thoughts and feelings we like and thoughts and feelings we don’t like.

I admit this is a huge topic and I don’t want to write a book here but getting an understanding of this is life changing. Once we see we don’t have to be ruled by our thoughts and feelings, we will begin to walk in the spirit and stop fighting things on a soul level, which will change if given enough time. So we learn how to wait.

Tracey: I was going over this again and something hit me. (not literally) Is that it’s the Word of God that divides. Meaning we live our lives (all 3 parts) as by the Bible (The Word) who is Jesus. This is our guide line, not what the world says, or even our sister (ha), but we let the Word of the Lord divide it, and we live by Him.

Cindy: We have to let the word of God open our eyes to the fact that we don’t have to be controlled by our soul, that the word shows us that we are NOT our feelings. We have to choose to not be lead by our thoughts and feelings, because God is not the one driving the confusion and condemnation.

Louie: Amen to both T and C. Sometimes Christians think the enemy is going to stop his attack once we’re saved. The truth is the enemy no longer lives within the inner citadel of our hearts, but he still has access to our body/soul level. He can still inject thoughts and feelings we don’t like. So the question is what do we do with them once they come? This is where we are told to “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Once we realize the thoughts aren’t from God, we turn to Christ and see what He has to say about it. For instance if the enemy says to us “You’re no good and you never will be.” We say, “That’s strange because God says He loves me and has great things in mind for me and I’m not who I used to be” (John 3:16, Jeremiah 29:11, 2 Corinthians 5:17).

Thoughts and feelings we like and don’t like will continue throughout our lives but we learn to detect their source.

Cindy: What we choose to do with those thoughts and feelings is the point. We know to well how they can be persuaded by the enemy, which in turn causes us to lash out that the ones close to us. Idle time will cause us to fight with the thoughts and emotions that Satan throws at us, and make you totally miserable. Like the Bible says, God gives us an outlet to temptations, so too He gives us a way out of the thoughts…..look to Him!

Louie: That’s right Cindy, we can’t control all of our incoming thoughts but in Philippians 4 we are told what we can do as an offensive. The Apostle Paul said, “Think on these things: whatever is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, good report, virtuous and praiseworthy.” In other words we redirect our thoughts and think of these types of things “On purpose.”

What Hebrews 4:12 is telling us though is it takes “The Word of God” to distinguish between our soul and spirit. This isn’t just talking about the written word but it’s talking about God’s very word to us. When God shows us the difference between our soul and spirit we know it. For instance we may feel angry or jealous but we begin to see those are emotions and not the real “us”. We begin to be able to see these feelings as apart from us rather than thinking they are us. In other words, I’m not angry; I’m feeling angry and so on. This enables us to step back from within and let them pass through without ruling us. We look at anger or jealousy and say, “You’re not the boss of me!”

Cindy: Being able to “just be still” and listen to the voice of God as he instills his word in us to be able to distinguish between what is soul or spirit is a struggle for me at times I must admit.

Louie: Now you’re onto something Cindy. I think most people don’t really want to be still because they are afraid of what God might say to them. One more thing I would like to add to this about Hebrews 4:12 is this whole chapter is talking about entering into God’s rest. I think the key to “His” rest is learning how to walk in the Spirit even while all Hell may be breaking loose in the soul/body level. Jesus promised us His rest if we would just come to Him…Matthew 11:28-30. This is a rest even in the midst of life’s storms.

Cindy: Why is it so hard to walk in the spirit, especially when all that Hell has to offer is being thrown at you and the ones you love? Why is it so hard for us to actually just say, “OK God, here you go, take over”. When your world is falling apart, why is it so much easier to use the excuse of what you use to do in the past for “rest” you are seeking, instead of looking to God for the real rest….because we know the other “rest” just wore us out. Made us ache and cry out in despair. Turn to God, we will tell anyone that quick, but sometimes it seems to be the last resort when it comes to ourselves.

Louie: Wow! This is quite insightful Cindy. Let me quote our friend Brian Coatney here. He says, “Walking in the Spirit is easy. It’s excruciating at times but it’s easy.” In Romans 8 we discover “to be carnally (flesh) minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity (open hatred) against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” So what we really need is to learn to walk in the mind of Christ, which we have according to 1 Corinthians 2:16 “We have the mind of Christ.”

A counselor Tracey and I spoke to before we were remarried seemed to do everything in his power to convince Tracey I would go back to drugs as soon as something difficult came along. Little did he know Christ truly had taken up residence within me, and He would keep me! Later on this man’s wife actually apologized to Tracey once she saw and believed God had truly changed me and it wasn’t just me, or “my flesh”, attempting to “turn over a new leaf.” God did in fact transform me into a new creature. So to make it real simple, the only way we make it is to be kept people. We learn to “NEVER” trust in ourselves, and our old ways, but in the “ONE” who raises the dead!

Today I had the privilege to share a little about the blood and body of Christ with my home church. We have been going through quite a transition lately because the pastor of forty years has retired. When I say retired I mean he has step down from being pastor; I don’t suppose he will ever stop sharing the gospel but for now he is no longer our pastor. This means others have to step up and fill in the gap left by his departure.

We usually celebrate the Lord’s supper or communion on the last Sunday of the month so today was the day. Joe Scott moved into the role of preacher today and when the time came for us to take the bread and juice of communion he asked me to come and share a bit, so I gladly did.

As most, who have attended church regularly and have participated in communion services before, know there are two elements set on the table–one being the juice, or wine, symbolizing the blood of Christ and the other being bread symbolic of His body. I shared with them how most understand the blood was shed for the forgiveness of sins, but many have never even stopped to think about what the body part is all about. The scriptures tell us “without the shedding of blood there is no remission, or forgiveness, of sins.” So, in other words, the blood deals with our sins, meaning plural, or sins we have committed but what about the body?

The bread, or body side, has yet another significance. As I have heard it put “The body death” deals with the sin-maker. It is an amazing thing to know that Jesus’ bloodshed covered, or dealt with my sins, but it is an altogether other thing to know the death of His body did away with the “Sinner.” Let me see if I can explain it this way. If I wanted to get rid of all the alcohol in this country I could go around to every house, grocery, liquor store and bar and smash millions of bottles but that wouldn’t really solve the alcohol problem would it? No! The reason is because the factories, or distilleries that bottle the liquor, would still be producing them. So if I really wanted to do the job correctly I would deal with the bottles, but I wouldn’t stop there, I would shut down the place producing it. This is exactly what God has done in Jesus Christ’s blood and body death on the cross. His blood was shed for our sins, or deeds, and His body died to shut down the sin-producer.

All of us were born with what is commonly known as a “sinful-nature” except Jesus. He of course was born of a virgin therefore bypassing the sinful-nature in order for Him to live a sinless life. Since He was sinless He was the perfect candidate to take our sins upon himself in order to redeem us. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “He has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” What this is telling us is Jesus became what we were, our sin-bearer, so we could become what He was which is the righteousness of God. Wow! This is indeed “Good News” isn’t it?

We were crucified with Christ in order for us to be set free from the Sin master. Romans six tells us we are either a slave to sin or a slave to righteousness but we are always a slave. You see in the fall Adam actually joined himself to the sin-boss, Satan himself. In Ephesians 2 we read how all of us “used to walk according to the world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience.”

God created humanity to be containers or vessels in which He could dwell. The Bible tells us we are temples, branches, vessels, bodies etc. We were always meant to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God but in the fall another spirit, the spirit of error, the spirit of the prince of the power of the air came to live within us. A spirit requires a body in which to live therefore in order to rid us of the deceitful, indwelling spirit of error we had to die. This is the whole point of the cross and us being co-crucified with Christ. A spirit needs a body so when Christ died on the cross with us in Him the spirit of the god of this world left and God raised Him and us out of death by way of His Holy Spirit who now dwells in us. God has moved back into His property.

The blood of Jesus Christ shed for the remission of sins is His job alone we do not participate in it in anyway. The body, on the other hand, includes us for we too have been crucified, buried and raised to walk in newness of life in Him. The spirit of error has been cast out never to enter into our inner man again. That’s not to say he doesn’t shout at us from the outside and tempt us to join him, but the difference is now we can say no to him whereas before he ruled us. Thankfully we have a new boss now and His name is Jesus!

Louie

Throughout life we are all called to move on from time to time. Sometimes the workplace we’re in becomes too much or maybe we simply have an opportunity to move into something we find more suitable for us and our family. The same could be said about a church. Maybe we’ve been called to go out from the environment, or group, we’ve been with for many years either way how we go is very important. We can either go out with joy, or we can go out dragging hurt feelings and offenses, it’s really our choice in the end.

Sometimes we find ourselves divorced and remarried but we never really healed or dealt with the hurt that caused the division to begin with. This is what some would call baggage. You know what I’m talking about. We leave a situation, whether it be a job, church or even a marriage, and take all of those same problems with us into the next job, church or marriage. So at first it may seem like a fresh, new start, but give it time. The “stuff” you carried with you out of the one comes along into the next. Maybe we’re attempting to solve an inner problem by outer means. There’s an old tale that addresses this very subject I would like to share with you, and I hope you take it to heart because it really doesn’t matter if we move to the moon if we don’t do it with the right heart and attitude.

Back in the days when the settlers were moving to the West, a wise man stood on a hill outside a new Western town. As the settlers came from the East, the wise man was the first person they met before coming to the settlement. They asked eagerly what the people of the town were like.

He answered them with a question: “What were the people like in the town you just left?”

Some said, “The town we came from was wicked. The people were rude gossips who took advantage of innocent people. It was filled with thieves and liars.”

The wise man answered, “This town is the same as the one you left.”

They thanked the man for saving them from the trouble they had just come out of. They then moved on further west.

Then another group of settlers arrived and asked the same question: “What is this town like?”

The wise man asked again, “What was the town like where you came from?” These responded, “It was wonderful! We had dear friends. Everyone looked out for the others’ interest. There was never any lack because all cared for one another. If someone had a big project, the entire community gathered to help. It was a hard decision to leave, but we felt compelled to make way for future generations by going west as pioneers.”

The wise old man said to them exactly what he had said to the other group: “This town is the same as the one you left.”

These people responded with joy, “Let’s settle here!”

How they viewed their past relations was their scope for their future ones.

Louie—- the wise man story was taken from John Bevere “The Bait of Satan”

Approximately one year ago Tracey and I spent a few days at what might be called a halfway house for women. It is a place where women, coming from jail, drug addiction, abusive situations or maybe even all three, go to get a new start and learn how to live in the freedom of Christ.

While there are many, many recovery programs available this one is completely focused on the Bible and Jesus Christ. It is based in a church and headed by a lady with a heart for these broken women. You can tell within just a few minutes she loves what she’s doing and loves these women and they love her.

One lady, who Tracey met in jail, went through the program and was living in a house directly across the street from the church. Not only was she helped, she decided to stick around and help others through their journey. When Tracey met her she had been in and out of jail numerous times and, like many others, just couldn’t seem to get it together. She had spent a great deal of her life on drugs and all the things that particular lifestyle involves. One night after being free for a while, and becoming fugitive of the week, she found herself back in jail. As Tracey walked beside her on the way to the church service; she looked at Tracey sort of dejected and said, “Why do you even care?” For me this was the best story yet, because sometimes people have heard the gospel message so many times they almost seem inoculated to it, but this time she not only heard but saw the gospel. You see Tracey didn’t condemn her or look down on her she simply was present walking beside her during her moment of need. As a Christian our job is to express Christ and one of the ways we do that is simply by being there for others. Sometimes it may even be after someone has made repeated trips in and out of jail.

Anyway, this lady had been living across the street from the church where these young women go to celebrate recovery meetings, attend church services, sing songs etc. Even though she had gone through the program and had come a long way she still seemed to have a bit of a problem handling offenses and solving relationship problems. This isn’t meant to be a knock on her, we all have to work through how to deal with others from time time, I’m just mentioning this because it plays into the story I’m about to tell you.

There was one particular young lady who had arrived just a few days before we did. We were told a judge allowed her to participate in this “halfway house/rehabilitation program” rather than sending her to prison. Her and her husband had a history of drug addiction, and in fact her husband had actually smuggled some pills in to her during a visit and it was discovered. The judge could have sent her to prison for this but miraculously he allowed her to stay on but her husband could no longer visit. Without going through all the extra details let me just say, the day Tracey and I were scheduled to leave the pastor called us and told us this young ladies husband had killed himself the night before. We were asked  if we could meet them at the church, and of course we said yes, and were on our way.

On our way there it dawned on me to ask the lady living across the street to join us. I thought, she’s having a tough time right now and what could be better for her than to help someone else. Besides, her husband had died while she was in jail, so she would have a better understanding of what this young lady was going through than any of us. God himself had orchestrated this whole thing so the one could comfort the other with the comfort she herself had been given.

When we got to the church I felt somewhat like a trapped animal that didn’t know where to go or what to do, and part of me just wanted to run away.  Even though Tracey and I have taught and prayed with many people, involved in some very bad situations, for me this one was going to be the most difficult. These are the times when the Holy Spirit becomes more real than any other, because there is absolutely no way I could have gotten through it otherwise. I know some of you are saying what do you mean you? What about the young lady? I know, I know she definitely had more to deal with than we did, but there we were. What do I say? What could I possible do to comfort her? Do I keep silent, hug her, pat her or stay far, far away from her? I know one thing to do and that was to pray, pray, pray!

We all gathered in the sanctuary and someone turned some music on quietly in the background. Thankfully there were two ladies there that gently broke the news to her, and she started wailing uncontrollably as we silently prayed. As they consoled her we all took turns, although feebly, speaking life and encouragement to her the best we could. For the most part I didn’t say much, but we sat with her for about three hours and it seemed like fifteen minutes. God truly shows up in the most painful of life’s situations and brings comfort in the way only He can. As our time with them came to an end it dawned on me that I do have something to tell her. I shared with her how three of my friends had passed away, directly or indirectly, because of drugs. One was killed, one became ill and passed away, and the other committed suicide.

I shared with this young lady how for a while I actually felt guilty for being alive. I looked around and thought to myself, “It isn’t fair that my friends have died and I’m still alive. I lived just as dangerously as they had, so why am I still alive?” I told her,”Do not take guilt for being a survivor! Whatever you do don’t do that to yourself. The greatest thing you can do is to get sober and live for Christ and your children. That’s what your husband would have wanted.”

This took place close to a year ago and it seemed a bit too fresh to share it then but now it seems right. I hope you have been touched by this story and you would say a prayer for this young lady and her family. This isn’t something you ever get over, but with the Spirit of the God of all comfort living in you there is a way to get through. We are called to “Rejoice with those that rejoice, and weep with those who weep” this time it was the weeping part hopefully we will see her again and get to do a little rejoicing with her.

Louie

 

IMG_1552

At the finish line!

I was asked by a co-worker if I wanted to participate in a 5k race that the work place would pay for? She would run with me and hang out. I agreed and was looking forward to the event several weeks away. Before the 5k “Trot for Troops” race, my co-worker found other employment and was no longer in the event. I was let down but texted her the night before to inquire if she would be there. She answered yes so we looked forward to seeing each other.

The morning of the race I began to feel anxiety, not sure what to expect, what to do with my thin hair, you know; the little details that daunt you before something you have never done before. So needless to say, I was not looking forward to the task. I left early, got my number and starting seeing my other co-workers who were also running. I noticed I was getting excited and looking forward to the race. I had decided to run to compete not as to run with someone. Although I run on a regular basis, I wasn’t sure how this was going to work out.

My co-workers and I started out all together, the Fort Campbell Army band was there playing live music. We all got a little teary when the Star Spangled Banner was sung so beautifully. This was it, we pledged the allegiance to the flag, the announcements were made, the sirens were blaring and the race was on. It started with the mile fun run followed by the 5K and finally the 10k which would keep running further.

It was cold, cloudy and windy but there was no rain. We started out in a huddle and as we ran on the bypass, the crowd thinned out. Next we turned down Gary Lane which is a country road. People stood on the side as we passed by cheering us on as we went. I could see the runners’ way up ahead and thought, “I have a ways to go, yet.” I was starting to warm up and kept saying to myself not to stop. Once I reached the turn around sight, there was a table with little cups of water. I took one and tried to breathe while drinking, but it only made things worse as I started back the way I came. I was passing my co-workers and slapping them the high five as we encouraged one another. I noticed at this point there were less and less people around me and could hear myself breathing heavily.

After I passed the 2.5 mile mark, I knew I was almost there, but I was hot and my legs and stomach were getting wearisome, I really felt like walking, but I didn’t want the “guy” behind me to pass me. My mind went to Paul in the Bible and how he said to run the race to the finish. I was thinking that this race is like when we stand before God and will answer to Him for our time on earth. Nobody can answer for you; it will just be you and Him on that day. I never want to give up; I never want to give up on me or on anyone who is looking through me for Jesus. I felt like this was not just a physical race but a spiritual race as well.

Now I was on the bypass again and could see the YMCA where we started. I felt like I was alone and wanted to quit, but then I saw a co-worker named Chase, he was smiling so big, clapping and telling me I was doing a good job. I could feel my stomach wanting to throw up anything that was in it, but about that time, I was passing a line of American flags and the band was playing, “You’re amazing just the way you are.” As I noticed some other people I knew, I started to cry because I was so happy that I did it. I looked at the time clock and it read 32:00. I couldn’t believe it, a little over thirty minutes. I had never done anything like this in my whole life. It felt amazing. It was so hard, but I pushed through, and I did it. I am so thankful to Heritage bank for making this happen and for my co-workers who rooted for me. This whole experience has strengthened my faith tremendously.

Tracey