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Well spent days in Africa

The road less traveled took me to the sewage-lined streets of Diepsloot, South Africa. There I learned that loving is the new black, and that a lion lives in the heart of every brave person. Rats ran the same streets the bare-foot children did, and disease was rampant, occupying the body of virtually everyone we met. But, come to find out, these people had nothing but grace and big welcome smiles to offer us strangers. It was there, among the hungry-for-love Africans, that I found more joy than ever before.

Nearly 280,000 people live within the 1.5 to 2 mile radius we ministered in. Of these 280,000, my group of 10 planted 301 seeds, sharing the Gospel with 301 people. The angels rejoiced as a whopping 153 of them committed their lives to Jesus.

Our hand’s became the Lord’s hands as a crippled woman walked and a blind woman saw again. Our whispers became shouts as we prayed not just for all, but for each.

I sat in the dirt with countless women, each one sharing in the same struggles. Not just one or two, but all of them lived in shacks the size of a garden shed or smaller. The shacks were built from wood, scrap metal and cardboard, pieced together like a puzzle. Electricity was a mighty scarce thing. Instead, open fires took the place of stoves, and there was no such thing as a hot shower. Dishes and laundry were done in buckets with water so cold it literally stung your fingers. This is what these people called home. This is how they lived survived.

But the women, oh the strong women of Africa. There was nothing more humbling than being seated at the feet of a woman bearing the hardships one bears in Diepsloot. Holding her hand and trusting that maybe for a second she felt all the hope she’d been robbed of. Sitting together, soaked in sweat-mixed tears, audibly crying out to the Lord. And as we cried, scripture says He bent down, leaning in to hear us. I write with Precious and Privilege and Agnus in mind. Nancy, Chio, Jo Ann, Gladys, Winnie, each one paving the way to greatness.

Africa is the swing of a hand caught by another, much smaller than yours. A baby in one arm, a child on the back, one on your shoulders, two pulling on your shirt, a few on your legs — you just never knew what kind of a balancing act you were walking into.

Here’s the thing – I’ve never been gifted with kids. So here I am, swamped with an innumerable amount of children, stiffly patting them on the back, trying my hardest to show them the love they are just so deprived of. Their noses dripped and their open sores were only growing. Most had ringworm, if not something worse. In that moment my heart softened as I thought of God’s love for us. Each of us, dirty and tarnished, are beyond loved by the Lord. And although we’re all “infected” by our own kind of ringworm, He still yearns for us, quick to pick us up with His grace.

I can’t express the state my heart was in. It was truly broken in a way that taught me my heart had never actually experienced heart break. But in the same hours, I sincerely fell in love too many times to count. I went with the intentions to change the hearts of the Africans, when in reality, I was the one that left with a heart change.

“It’s hard to reconcile the challenges they face, with the joy I see in them. The images spilling out of my television showed only misery, and I was fooled. I bought into the lie that circumstances define happiness in places that despair should thrive. I find adults dancing and singing. Children playing soccer with a ball of tied trash. Relationships and faith provide joy. My new reality… my joy should have no regard for my circumstances. I want what I have learned to trickle down from my head into my heart. I no longer want to need the ‘next thing’ to have joy. Africa does need our efforts and partnership, but for me, I need Africa more than Africa needs me.

So here I am, back at home, but I’m not so sure that home is a place that’ll ever be the same again.

 

 

 

 

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The Gospel Of Grace

Sometimes it feels like the minute the word “grace” comes up, people put their defenses up. People steer clear of those “Grace Preachers”. Many think that “grace and the law have to be balanced”. Another controversial topic is the topic of reigning in life, kind of tying in with grace. Satan puts obstacles around the gospel of grace, aware that when we receive grace, we begin to reign in life. The Bible says the devil comes to steal, kill, and destroy. The Devil wants to see you at the lowest of lows, broke and broken. He doesn’t want to see us enjoying life. He doesn’t want us reigning. He strategizes how to prevent us from receiving grace and righteousness, a gift from God. Satan uses controversies as a way to surround God’s truth. Pastor Joseph Prince says, “You can always tell how powerful a truth is by the number of controversies the devil surrounds it with.” 

Jesus died on the cross, and crushed Satan. Satan has no power anymore, Satan has only lies. Same goes for the world we live in. The world doesn’t have the truth, but instead it’s filled with pretty lies on how to live life fed to us by the devil. As believers, we have the truth. But sometimes we distribute the truth in a casual fiction way. This truth is something to shout about. Glory to God for all the love He shows. Be bold, believers. Jesus is the one truth, He is the one way, and He is the only thing capable of setting us free. Present people with the real, pure truth. What good is a watered down Gospel?

When God began restoring the truth of prosperity, guards were put up once again, calling it heresy. Churches back off of prosperity teachings because they’re so controversial. Does it not matter that the Bible declared that Jesus became poor on the cross so that we might be prosperous? 

You take your sick child to a doctor. You try to get the best education for your child. So on and so forth. Don’t you do these things out of love for your child? So that they can be blessed, healthy, and live a prosperous life? Do you think that your heavenly Father would want any less for you? God blesses you not because you are good, but because He is good. We have His undeserved favor, given to us not because of our works, but because of His grace. If we were given grace based on our actions, it would no longer be undeserved favor, but it would instead be based on the system of the law. Deserved favor. There is the the old covenant of law, and a new covenant of grace. Law is deserved favor – When we obey the commandments perfectly, we’ll be blessed. GRACE is undeserved favor – Jesus obeyed God perfectly, and we’ll be blessed by believing in Him. Which covenant are you under? God made a new covenant, a covenant of grace, and for a good reason.

The Lord wants us receiving the abundance of grace, to have the abundance of grace is to have the abundance of Jesus! 

John 1:17 – For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

Grace came as a person! Jesus is grace, and grace is Jesus. The Word declares that if we know the truth, the truth will set us free. Grace is the truth that will set us free, not the law. If the devil can keep you under the law, he can keep you defeated. 

There is no “Prosperity Gospel”. There is one gospel, and that is the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Thank you for reading, be blessed.

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The Finished Work of Christ

“Because all people have sinned, they have fallen short of God’s glory. They receive God’s approval freely by an act of His kindness through the price Christ Jesus paid to set us free from sin.” Romans 3:23-24

 I think one of the biggest things that people tend to overlook is the last three words that Christ said on the Cross: “It is finished.” The work of Jesus Christ is done. Sin is dead; it has no power over us. Death is destroyed. Christ did all of the work on that cross, your chains were broken many, many years ago. You’re already free. It’s a matter of learning to walk in the confidence of your freedom. The battle is convincing your mind how free you are and seeing the beauty of grace. Because let me tell you, the chains have been broken already. You’re free to walk without heavy burdens; you don’t have to be a slave to sin. I really love Romans 6:14, “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” I really recommend reading Romans and absorbing all of the truth in it. Romans was written by the apostle Paul around AD 57. It took place in Corinth when Paul was on a missionary trip. This book was written to the church in Rome.

 There is guilt, and then there is conviction. Guilt does in no way come from God, but conviction does. Conviction is completely different from guilt. When we read Romans we learn that not one person can get God’s love by never messing up or sinning. “Everyone has turned away, everyone is rotten to the core, and no one does any good.” (Romans 3:10-12) Paul makes it clear in Romans that through confession and repentance, we can be free from any guilt. If you think you’re still guilty once you’ve confessed your sin, you’re only believing a lie. Jesus is our savior. He saves us from sin. He saves us from guilt. Jesus Christ came to set us free, not keep us tied down to guilt. The one who has confessed and turned from sin is no longer guilty.

 If there is a place in your life filled with guilt rather than conviction, recognize it’s a lie. If you’ve accepted Jesus as the ransom for your guilt, you aren’t guilty. Paul wanted the Romans to know they were saved by grace but still called to be holy. Same applies for us! God bless you, thanks for reading. 

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Mercy & Kindness

It is good to be merciful and generous. Psalm 112:5

I wanted to share the story of Thomas Weller to start us off. This man, 16 at the time, plowed into a snow bank during a blizzard. This blizzard left him alone and helplessly stuck. He waited, unhurt, for someone to come along. Eventually, after waiting by himself, a man finally came by in a tow truck and Thomas was able to make it home. He thought to himself, there wasn’t any other traffic tonight, that man probably saved my life.

Today, at the age of 61, Thomas, who is known as “San Diego Highway Man”, scans roads for people stranded or stuck. After 45 years, he’s had over 6,000 roadside assists. He’ll fill up your empty tank, cool your radiator, or even change your flat tire. What’s even cooler, is he accepts no pay, and only asks that you do some kind of kindness to someone else in distress.

Jesus talked to a crowd on a mountainside and told them, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” This truth is evident in Thomas Weller’s life.

In Luke 6:36 Jesus says, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” To be Christ like, we need to show mercy. Titus 3:5 tells us, “God saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”

Mercy can change someone’s life from defeat and darkness to hope and light. The pattern of revenge, anger, terror, ect. can be broken. Love can destroy hatred.

Someone named Ridley once decided to sit by an “outcast” at school everyday at lunch, despite the looks from others. Days went by, he started talking more, came out of his shell, and the boy told Ridley that he had decided not to commit suicide after because he was thankful to have a friend. Now the two of them enjoy Bible study together every week. Do you see how far a little act of kindness can go?

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The Struggle for Happiness

(Most facts and verses taken out of God Girl Bible 2011by Hungry Planet.)

In Amos 5:4, God says, “Search for me and live.” Don’t worry about what you’ve done, go back to God and live! Sometimes people see God punishing sin and wonder if He’s dangerous, or disloyal.  It can be scary to think of the wrath, but the message we see being repeated through out the entire Bible is God’s love for everyone no matter how often they mess up. It doesn’t matter how you’ve slipped up, or even how often, because God still loves you and offers another way, “Search for me and live.” 

If you’re living in a dark place, and you feel numb with all the disaster and sin, flee from it all and run to God to live. When you risk leaving all of the secular, worldly things, to run as quick as you can to God, you risk pure bliss. Don’t cover up your mistakes and try to keep them in hiding, but bring them out into the light so that you can run free of baggage back to Him. “Don’t worry about not being prepared or needing to get things right first — His love has no prerequisite. Know that whatever condition your heart is in today, you can go back to Him and love.”

 

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The Gist of Leviticus

(Most facts and verses taken out of God Girl Bible 2011 by Hungry Planet.)

What is a Levite? Descendants of Levi who were set apart as religious workers. They were commanded to serve the name of the Lord forever. (Deut. 18:1-8) 

Key Verses:

“Respect your mother and father. Observe my days of worship. I am the Lord your God.” (Lev. 19:3)

“Show respect to the elderly, and honor older people. In this way you show respect for your God. I am the Lord.” (Lev. 19:32)

“I will put my tent among you, and I will never look at you with disgust. So I will live among you and be your God, and you will be my people.” (Lev. 26:11-12)

Author – Probably Moses

Time – Probably around the fifteenth century BC

Place – Probably the wilderness of Sinai

Written to – The Israelites

 

Leviticus was written as a guide for people on how to live clean and holy lives. A lot of what it discusses are rules people should follow to not be saved, but to be holy and pure and right with God all around. Although we don’t have to follow these regulations any more, Leviticus still helps us fully wrap our heads around the requirements people lived by to serve a holy God.

To start off, Jesus isn’t your “home boy” or your “dude”. Call him that, but you’re way off. You know, He loves you and He’s always involved in your life, but He’s more than just another friend. God commands His people to be holy and apart from others. They had to do well and be different than the rest of the world, different than those who weren’t following Him. They needed to work at protecting cleanliness and obeying laws so that as they were in His presence, they would be accepted. But then Jesus came, and a lot has changed. His sacrifice set you free from sin. When you talk to God, never forget the cross. Remembering what Jesus did should lead you to live in holy reverence. Be in awe of that!