Monday, July 25, 2011

A Religious Fanatic

I was recently called a religious fanatic.  That there is believing that there is a God and all, but then there are people like me.  I had to think about that one for awhile - am I really a religious fanatic?  If others think I am, what does that mean for me?  I've come to this conclusion...

Romans 1:16-18
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written.  The righteousness shall live by faith.  For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth."

If sharing the power of God in my life, and living my faith out makes me a religious fanatic, then yes;  I AM A RELIGIOUS FANATIC!  And I am proud of it!  Although, I would prefer to label myself as a sinner redeemed by God's grace and no longer willing to hide it!  I no longer live to worry about what others might think about me, what they might say about me, or how they judge me.  Living my faith does not make me a judgmental, no fun, boring, Bible thumping, crazy person.  I do not walk around judging others and thinking that I am holier than all of them, which makes me superior.  If anyone thinks that, then you don't know anything about me, and have never taken the time to talk to me.  There is a difference between "being religious" and living in God's grace and forgiveness.  But no matter how you label it, view it, accept it or reject does not change the truth.  You can live and die saying the sky is red, but it doesn't change the fact that it is blue.  You can live and die claiming that the Gospel isn't true, but it doesn't change the truth that is true.

I am a sinner, you are a sinner.  Every person is born already a sinner.  God's wrath will be poured out on all unrepentant sinners that do not claim and live with Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  If you do not believe, you will go to hell...and you will not have friends there.  There are no relationships in hell, it is an eternity of pain, misery and "the gnashing of teeth".  Because of our sin, we all deserve to go to hell.  That is the just punishment for our sin.  But God made a way to save us from that punishment.  He sent his only Son, he came to earth and lived a perfect life.  He lived without any sin, and that allowed him to be the unblemished sacrifice that can atone for our sins!  Jesus came, lived and then died for us.  God poured out the wrath that we deserve - on HIS SON - so that we may have eternal life.  Our sins held him on that cross, and He took it all for you and me.  And then, He was raised on the third day.  Satan was defeated, Jesus has overcome it all, even death.  By his death, we can now have eternal life.  The catch is that you have to choose to accept his free gift of life.  Choose to accept it and live, choose to reject it and die.  He's not going to force you, while it grieves Him, He will let you choose to suppress the truth and live a life of sin and unrighteousness.  But that doesn't change the truth.  God loves you and died for you.  God is a God of mercy, grace, love and forgiveness.  It is not possible for you to have done "too much" for God to forgive.  He is waiting for you to turn to Him.  But don't live as maybe someday I'll be ready to 'be religious', but right now I just want to have fun...  Psalm 95:7-8 "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts" for 1 Thess. 5:2 "the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night".  Right now it is not too late to accept the gift, but one day, it will be too late and you will suffer for eternity the full wrath of the righteous God.  I am not a pastor, I am not a theologian, so please, talk to your pastor, to me, or someone else, just please, do not harden your hearts one more day!  I've been saved, and that means I share it for His glory.  What you think & feel about that, is between you and God, not between you and me.

In Christ's Love,
A Proud God Fanatic

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Amazing Grace

"Kari, you are ready, because you will never be ready" ...wise words spoken by a dear friend

My journey has had me all over the place lately.  I can go from confident and unwavering to crushed and crying quite quickly.  We are hitting lots of "anniversary" dates that make the days really hard as I remember back "one year ago today..."  I feel like I'm looking at when the string holding my life together started unraveling and it's still pulling one year later.  And that makes for some hard days.  I am so ready for my husband to come home, and it is hard to understand why it's not happening.  So God has put me on a hard, eye-opening journey.  One that I am still on and a lot of things I am still struggling with, but God is mercifully leading me through.

As many of you know, I am a doer.  Tell me what I need to do to fix it, and I will do it.  I so badly want to be able to do something - anything - in this situation!  I am stuck in this rut that I think so many people are.  If I can accomplish X, Y and Z, then that will be enough for God to bless me with what I want.  God must be holding back because because what I'm doing is not enough, I'm not good enough yet.  God just show me what I can do to be good enough for you to bring him home!  God is this punishment for my own mistakes?  Am I now reaping what I sowed years ago?  "That sin was so bad, it's the one that caused this whole thing.  It was the first domino and now I've caused all this, so I've got to make up for it!"  God, you have brought me so far.  Jon has a brand new wife, one that has learned and grown more in this past year than in my entire life!  Just bring him home and then I can "do" and "prove" it to Jon and then everything will be ok. This whole paragraph - it's all lies straight from the pit of hell.  It's all Satan's constant attack on me by whispering the lies over and over, playing the strings of one of my weaknesses: control.  But God is stronger than Satan and is opening my eyes to the lies and replacing it with His truth.  I am learning about GRACE.

I can never do enough to convince God to bring Jon home.  I can never earn my salvation, I can never do enough works.  On an intellectual level, I totally get that and can agree.  But if I'm going to face reality, that's not how I live out my life.  I am constantly trying to earn my salvation and what I feel I "deserve" for earning enough good points in my God bucket.  My sinful pride stops me from being humble to accept the free gift of salvation and redemption that God has for me (it's also for you by the way).  I feel the need to earn it because I know I don't deserve it.  Ephesians 2: 8-9 "For by GRACE you have been saved through faith.  And this is not of your own doing; it is the GIFT OF GOD, not a result of works, so that no one may boast".  I have read that verse so many times, but I never let it sink into the very depths of heart and soul.  What is Grace?  Grace is unmerited, undeserved favor.  It is not my commitment to God that saves me, it is God's commitment to me to that saves me.  It's God's gift and that's why I can't earn it (otherwise it's a payment not a gift), it has nothing to do with me, me, me!  It has everything to do with God! (FYI Grace by Bob Lenz is a great book).  God has showered me with grace, I don't deserve it but He gives it anyway and I need to remember to sit back and accept it.  If I "earn" Jon coming home, then it's a result of my good works and growing that brought him home (me, me, me).  Yeah, Kari, that's not how God works.  When Jon comes home, it will be obvious that it is the result of the one true God bestowing the saving gift of grace on Jon that only He can give.  TRUTH: I CAN NOT - AND WILL NOT - SAVE MY HUSBAND OR MY MARRIAGE.  TRUTH: GOD CAN.  So by God's grace I will continue to grow and follow the path that He leads me down.  My marriage and my husband are in God's hands alone, I hereby officially and publicly leave them at the feet of Jesus.  I do not understand what God is doing, and I do not know what His time line is.  But I know He is in control of everything that happens.  My journey is between me and God.  Jon's journey is between him and God.  I pray for the day that our journeys join back together and we are a living testimony of God's power, glory and GRACE. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Our 11th Anniversary

11 years ago today I married the man that God created and put on this earth for me.  God doesn't make mistakes.  With all that we've been through, with everything that has/is happening, I wouldn't take any of it back.  I may have done some things differently, but I even if I knew these things were going to happen, I would still choose to do it all over again.  11 years ago I married the man that means to world to me.  The man who has looked into my eyes and shared over half of my life with me.

The man the rides the carousel with his little girl.

The man that goes to games with his kids.

The man that loves enough to go find, dig up, and transplant this little tree the night before the first day of school just so that I can have a school tree to take pictures by.

The man who carves pumpkins with his kids, and will be the one to reach in and get the icky stuff out for them.
The man there to pull out the loose teeth, get our slivers, and pull off woodticks because it makes me cringe to even think about it.
The man who is brave enough to take us all ice fishing, and doesn't get mad when the poles, scoopers & whatever else are lost down the holes forever.

The man whose children adore him and love their daddy.
The man who will sit in the rain to watch the fireworks just to see the joy on his children's faces.

Even if you have lost faith, I haven't.  That man exists, I know him and I love him.  Although he may seem to be gone forever right now, he's not.  I have faith that God will continue to work in Jon's life and one day, we will all marvel at the glorious power and might of the Father, the only one with the power to save.  So my request from you, is that you pray for my husband on this special day.  For while he is a sinner, Christ died for him - just like he did for you.

Matthew 19:6 "So they are no longer two but one flesh.  What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate."