Archive for January, 2009

Just a few short months earlier, an expectant mother sat alone in the darkness wondering how she had come to this place in her life.  She was 20 years old, emotionally spent, suicidal and at a spiritual crossroads.    All her years of battling a developmental disability and the demons of mental illness had taken its toil on her spirit, and had eroded away all the  innocence and dreams she once held onto when she was a little girl.  She thought about that little girl and wondered where she had gone.  Had she gone away for good, or was she just hiding away in her soul, waiting for her storms to pass? 

Searching the deepest parts of her, desperate to find that little girl and the things of God that she had once believed in, she realized that her soul had become a ghost town with a solitary graveyard as the only evidence that there had ever been life there.  As she approached the graveyard that once was her soul, she began to cry softly.   On one headstone she read the word, “Love”, on another she read, “Hope” and then “Mercy” and “Grace” and “Forgiveness”.   So this was why she could no longer feel the things of God.  Life had poisoned all that had been good in her..

Finding no love, no mercy and no hope in the only place that she had once found comfort in, she touched her small baby bump and thought about how unworthy she was to be carrying this precious life inside of her.  She wondered how she could love a child when she didn’t even love herself?  How could she give a child hope when she didn’t have hope enough for herself?  How could she bring a child into a world that had been so devastatingly destructive to her soul, to her spirit?

“AAAAbooorrrrtttttttion.  AAAAbooorrrrittttttion.   AAAAbooorrrrttttttion.”

What?  Who’s there?  She looked around to see where the echoeing whisper had come from – who was there with her.  Turning in all directions, she found no one.

“AAAAbooorrrrtttttttion.  AAAAbooorrrrittttttion.   AAAAbooorrrrttttttion.”

Looking feverishly in all directions to see who, or what, was there with her, she was suddenly crippled with a fear and coldness that she had never known.   Although she did not see anyone, she had the sense that she wasn’t alone.  That there was an…..an evil presence with her.

It’s your only choice….your only way out.”

“What is?  Who are you?”

“Kill it!  You know you have nothing to offer it!  How could you ever give it anything but a life full of hopelessness, neglect,  and hardship.?  Your mind is broken and your spirit is dead.  No one loves you, wants you.  Look around.  Who is here for you when you need them most?  You don’t even love yourself.”

But what about God?  He loves me, doesn’t he?  He says that we shouldn’t…..”

“He says what!  Do you see God here?  Do you?  Tell me….where is this god?  Is this the same God that burdened you with the demons of mental illness, took away any chance you had at a normal life, took away your hope, your love.”

There was silence.  How could see argue with the truth?  For years she had felt hopeless, depressed and dead inside.  She was alone, with nothing, or anyone, to hold onto.  She couldn’t remember the last time she had felt loved, felt worthy of even taking up space on this earth.  Life had surely been a bitter mistress to her.

Confronted with the cruel reality of bringing this little unborn child into a dark world to be raised by someone that was worthless and unfit to be called “mommy”, she resigned herself to the inevitable fate she had been brought to…..abortion.  It may not improve her life or situation but at least it wouldn’t complicate and worsen it.  As she drifted off to sleep, she knew it was her only choice. 

Now, months later, I find myself sitting with her in a room at the Juvenile courthouse.  She is crying.  She says they are tears of joy.  She says that it is a happy day.  This is what she says but my spirit senses that her tears tell a half-truth.  Moments earlier, she had informed the judge of her decision to surrender her parental rights to the little girl that she chose to give life.  She had already grown to love her deeply but she knew that the odds had been stacked too high against her.  Instead of raising her, she had decided to give her baby up for adoption to a couple related to her that had wanted deperately to conceive their own child but couldn’t.  They are also in the room with us, holding mom’s little girl, tears falling as if they had finally been emancipated after years of pain and hopeless seeking.

Mom continues to cry, and I tell her how much courage she had to overcome those whispers in the darkness that told her that abortion was her only choice.  That told her that there was no God, that she was unloved, unwanted and unfit to give birth to this precious little gift.  I told her not to let anyone tell her that she made the “wrong” decision, or a “bad” decision because she had given life to a beautiful little girl and had made the most difficult decision of her life.  A decision to give up her little gift for adoption.  I told her that I hoped she would forgive herself and not let it stop her from living because she had made the best decision she could for her little girl.  I told her this over and over throughout our time together in that room because I sensed that she needed to hear something good about herself at that moment, not all the negative that she had heard about how she couldn’t care for this little girl because she was “unfit” or “incompetent”. 

With her head down, tears still running down her face, she softly said, “I was going to abort her but something told me not to.  Something just told me that I couldn’t.”  Before I could say anything, the new “mommy”  looked at her through tears of joy and said, “Thank you for not aborting her.  Thank you for giving us a chance to be her parents.  We’ve hoped for this for a long, long time.”  All mom could say was that she wanted her little girl to be happy, and hoped that she could receive a picture of her  “every now and then”.  They assured mom that this was the least that they could do.

In my work, I don’t often see tears born from joy.  Normally, the tears I see are tears of guilt, sadness, hopelessness, addiction and depression that comes along with childhood neglect and abuse, and the removal of children from their parents.  The rare instances where I get to be a small part of introducing families to a long-lost friend called Joy makes me happy and leaves my soul feeling satisfied.

Saying goodbye to mom, I walked out of the courthouse trying to process the contradiction of emotions running through me.  My soul was filled with both joy and sadness.  Joy because a young mother had quieted her spirit just long enough so that the voice of God could be heard whispering, “This little life inside of you is precious to me, a gift from me to you, to this world.  Abortion is not the answer.  Trust me and I will prove myself to you.  Give this little girl life and she will be a great blessing.”  Also witnessing a childless couple finally being given a little life to love and care for made my soul joyful.

As I drove back to work, I couldn’t help but think about mom with sadness, and how much pain she had known in her short life, only to come to this point – giving up a little girl that she carried for nine months and almost… almost had aborted.  I wondered what life would hold for mom from this day forward, and if she would find those things of God again.  I prayed that God would bring healing into her life, and someone to love her unconditionally. I prayed that God would bless her for honoring Him and Life by giving birth to a sweet, beautiful little girl, and I thanked Him for allowing me to see, through His eyes, the pure joy that comes when we choose a legacy of life, instead of a legacy of death.

Advertisements

Genesis 17-18:  God Promises a 100 Year Old A Child –

God appeared to Abraham and matter-of-factly told him that he and his 90 year-old wife would have a son but instead of profusely thanking God for his favour, he fell facedown and laughed.   Can you imagine God appearing before you and telling you that something amazingly unexplainable and awesome was going to be given to you and you laughed?!?  I can’t but it’s interesting how God reacted.  He didn’t wipe Abraham off the face of the earth for mocking him or taking him lightly.  No, God just calmly said, “yep, trust me…you’re going to have a son and you’re going to call him Isaac.”  God showed by his reaction how merciful He is but also that He has a sense of humor.  One, He reacted out of compassion and understanding toward Abraham because God knew that he and Sarah had always wanted children but had not been able to bear a child.  God knew that Abraham was a human with a tendency to see his own, limited reality versus God’s reality.  Abraham’s mind, in all its limited capacity, just couldn’t understand how a old, old dude like himself and an old, old woman like Sarah could have a child. 

Secondly, God told Abraham to call his son Isaac.  Isaac  means, “he laughs.”  It’s as if God wanted Abraham to have a friendly reminder of the time that he doubted God by laughing.  Not only did Abraham laugh but Sarah did also when the three visitors (one God) appeared before Abraham and again told him that he would have a son.  This time, Sarah laughed to herself and God heard, asking her “Why did you laugh?”  Sarah lied and said, “I didn’t laugh” to which God simply said, “Yes you did.” 

Personally, I think this is just classically funny.  I think God has to have a sense of humor to deal with us humans in all our fickleness and emotional instability.

Genesis 6-9: The Story of Noah

I’ve heard the story of Noah since I was young. You know, the religious version where “Noah was good, God choose him to build an ark, He did, then placed all animals “two-by-two” in the ark with his family, closed the door, it rained a lot, the earth was flooded, he drifted around for a while, it stopped, a dove flew away, came back with an olive tree branch, Noah saw a rainbow, floods went away, God promised to never destroy the earth by flood again and we lived happily ever after.”

That was a good version for a kiddie but superficial for someone of spiritual maturity or seeking it, I now realize. I’m seeing it differently now.

First impression that hits me is that Noah was approx. 480 years old when God told him to build an ark. FOUR HUNDRED AND EIGHTY YEARS OLD! He was 600 y.o. when the flood came. Talk about having faith and relying on God to give you strength and sustain you. Can you imagine building anything, especially a boat 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high at 480 years old? And it took 120 years to build on top of that!!!!

How many people even 36 years old (my age) today often fail to do God’s work and His will because they use their age as an excuse.? I’m too old, I’m too tired, I’m too sick…blah, blah, blah. How many people have I heard over 50 tell me they would love to go to another country to reach lost souls for Christ but they can’t because they’re too old. Man, I feel kinda unworthy and ignorant after reading the story of Noah again with more mature spiritual eyes. I guess that blows the age excuse for like…..ever

Genesis 6-9: The Story of Noah – More thoughts:

So Noah and his family were the ONLY ones that still worshipped God when God commanded him to build the ark?!?!

In having the fact illuminated to me, I am impressed by this:

Satan can have millions of lost souls and followers working 24/7 for him in an attempt to destroy God but still can’t defeat him. God can take just one family that is devoted and focused on worshipping God, and completely destroy satan and his plans.

Think about it. I bet satan was feeling pretty good about things in that day. “Hey, I have everyone on this earth, except that Jesus Freak, Noah and his family following me. How do you like that God. I have millions, you have a few. Who’s the man now? Who’s the most powerful god now, huh? And give me time, I’ll have Noah and his family also. No way some 480 year old geezer is going to spend the next 120 years building some boat and playing zookeeper.”

I wish I could have been a fly on that wall! God just laughed and said (I bet), “Not a problem. I’ll destroy your people with my pinkie (actually a simple flood by God’s standards),” and then proved his power and authority over satan by crushing him.

And we still question God’s power to work in our lives? Sad isn’t it?

Genesis 1:26 – “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness….”

I often hear homosexuals refer to this verse when rationalizing their sinful lifestyle choice. They state that they were made in God’s image. They were made homosexual.  In truth, many people state this when trying to rationalize their sinful behavior at times…”But I was made in God’s image so it must not be a sin.”  Not exactly!

Let’s remember that Adam had not been created yet and therefore, had not sinned. When Adam (man) was created, he also was free of sin. He had all the qualities of God: love, patience, kindness, forgiveness and faithfulness. He was to live eternally with God in the Garden.

But after Eve was created and Satan had tempted them into eating the fruit, they were suddenly filled with the knowledge of Good and Evil and knew that they had sinned against God. Their disobedience and unfaithfulness was overwhelmingly obvious because they were now in the presence of Evil himself, and had taken on some of Satan’s evil, and sinful, qualities. Before that, Adam and Eve had never known evil. They didn’t even recognize it when they saw it.

Therefore, we were changed forever. Although Adam and Eve still possessed those qualities of God, they also were now sin-filled and their image no longer reflected God alone. Their image now also reflected the qualities of sin. We are born into it. Just like God gave Adam and Eve the free-will (the choice) to eat the forbidden fruit, so do we have that same free-will to choose to sin against God. When one commits homosexuality, idolatry, adultery, etc., then he or she chooses those sinful qualities to live by.

Genesis 2:24 – “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”

Marriage is not a cultural, social or political institution but a spiritual institution. It was God himself who instituted marriage and its characteristics.

The institution of marriage can be manipulated by false religions or by political parties but not spiritually. Any marriage that does not adhere to God’s standard and His purpose of marriage is in direct opposition to God. When we change the rules of marriage to meet our own selfish and sinful desires then we openly defy God and dare God to bring down his wrath on us. God is the only one who can truly change the fundamental laws of marriage and that’s not going to happen.

Satan understands how sacred marriage is to God and isn’t surprising that he is working overtime to destroy it.

Genesis 3:1 – “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made.” …..3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ 4 “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.”

Why is it that we think we can be acquintances of satan and not be destroyed spiritually? Without the power and authority of Christ, we are overmatched opponents. When we play chicken with satan and leave Christ to spectate, we become easy prey for him. We become like a penny sitting on the rails of a freight train.

But what’s interesting about satan is that he often doesn’t tell a straightout lie. His deceit comes in the half-truths he whispers in our ears. Without the Spirit of Christ, we cannot discern them. Read the verses where Satan spoke to Eve. He did not lie to her. He told her that she would not die, her eyes would be opened and she would then know Good and Evil, just as God did. Adam and Eve did die spiritually that day but not physically, their eyes were opened and they then understood Good and Evil, just as God did.

That’s what I have to understand is that without Christ and his Spirit guiding me, I am no match for Satan and do not have the discernment to see through satan’s schemes. While I’m busy looking for the obvious lies of Satan, I’m falling for the half-truths and subtle deceit that causes me to fall prey to satan and sin against God

So I’m taking Joe up on his challenge to read the Bible in a year.  I’ve read a lot of the Bible but not all of it and never all of it in a year.  It will be a significant challenge for me but I know it’s a challenge that will bring me closer to God and more knowledgable, and hopefully wiser. 

I challenge you to join us.  I am already a day behind so don’t worry about the slow start.  You can catch up.  Regardless of whether you take the challenge. 

I was going to create a new, ongoing page to put my notes from the readings under but have decided to do them as posts.  I think more people will read them since I’m learning that people don’t like to browse sites, regardless of how good or God inspired they may be so I’m giving the “lazy” ones an easy way to view the thoughts and be able to respond with their own insights that God has given them while reading.   Join in the discussion.  I think it will be beneficial for all of us.

Good luck and meet’cha at the end!

While working this morning, a song by Coldplay came on the radio, and a line in the song stood out to me.  The line was:

“For some reason, I can’t explain but I know St. Peter will call my name.”    Coldplay

It got me to thinking, “when my time comes to stand before the Pearly Gates, should I be worried if Peter meets me at the Gates instead of Christ?”  As I was wondering this, my mind began to play out a hypothetical simulation starring me at the Pearly Gates:

Peter:  You Mr. Loyd?
Me:  Yea, who are you?
Peter:  I’m Peter, the fiesty, emotional, stubborn Apostle you’ve
read about.  You’re not Catholic are you?
Me:  No!
Peter:  Good!  They like to call me St. Peter but you can just call
me Peter.
Me:  No problem.  Uhhh, what are you doing here?  I thought…
Peter (interrupting):  Thought what?  Were you expecting someone else to meet ya?
Me:  Uhhhh, kinda of.  Where’s the Big Guy?  You know, Jesus?
Peter:  Weeeelllll….let’s see.  Ummm, He had to break up a fight between the Southern Baptists and the Pentacostals (they can’t seem to get along, something about tongues, quenching the Spirit) so He sent me.
Me:  Should I just wait outside the Gates then until He’s finished?  He will be coming to meet me and escort me into His glorious paradise, won’t he?
Peter:  Ummmm…how do I say….
Me (interrupting Peter):  Wait, I shouldn’t be worried should I.  I mean, I went to church regularly, prayed whenever I needed something, sang out loud in church, gave  $20 bucks here and there, voted yes to buying 200 acres of property for a Christian retirement community that the poor couldn’t even begin to afford, went on missions, did the criss-crossy thingy with my hands a lot, said 14 hail-mary’s a day, always bought a two-liter  to all those “covered dish” parties after church, spoke in tongues once (but between me and you, it sounded more like a cross between Spanish, Portuguese and toddlereze.)   Hey, I even voted for Obama.  That has to count for something right?  I do pride myself on being progressive you know?  So…. when is He coming to get me.
Peter:  Well Mr. Loyd…
Me: Wait….did someone turn up the heat?  It’s starting to get a little warm in here.
Peter:  You may want to sit down for this.  You see, I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one, and the heat thingy?  Well….

 

But seriously, if anyone other than Jesus meets me at the Pearly Gates, shouldn’t I be worried?  If I am expecting anyone other than Jesus to meet me, shouldn’t I rethink my salvation?  Although my spiritual role-play was for fun, it made me think about how we still don’t get Jesus and the magnitude, the importance of His birth, His death and His resurrection.  It wasn’t for fun and it wasn’t to “hot dog” and to “showboat” His power and authority.  He came as the Messiah, the Ultimate Redeemer, the Sacrificial Lamb that would end and make obsolete all other attempts at redemption.  Jesus is the only one that we need to focus on.  He is the only way to Salvation and eternal life. 

So why is it that we cling so stubbornly and defiantly to our religious rituals and tradition?  Why do we worship everyone but Christ…the Virgin Mary, Saint Peter and a whole host of other “saints” and religious figures?  Why do we think we can be “good enough” and earn Salvation?  Why do we equate our giving and our standing in the church with our eternal worthiness and spiritual righteousness?

We have to refocus our hearts, souls and spirits onto Jesus and realize that He is the only one worthy of worship and praise and it is only Him that will get us across the eternal finish line.  I have to stop thinking that my eternal life depends on observing a set Sabbath Day, or not eating pork, or being Southern Baptist, or going to Mass regularly, or serving on the Missions committee and stop thinking….period! 

When I think, I screw things up but when I completely focus on Christ, allow Him to fully direct and guide me, and take my eyes off this world and all its religious rituals, then I begin to see that it was always Jesus that deserved my full attention.  Nothing else!  Once I do that, then He can work in me, and then through me. 

Jesus wants us to seek Him, love Him, worship Him, praise Him and want only Him!  No one, and nothing else can get us through those Pearly Gates with Christ holding our hand, saying, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” 

 

 

Two thousand and eight seemed to pass in a matter of a few blinks.  The older I get the more time speeds up.  I’m beginning to wonder if a minute gets shorter after you hit thirty.  Honestly, I think I get only 45 seconds per minute now.   Oh well…such is life but I guess it’s a good thing because time is just moving me closer to being with my Father in heaven.  So it is that we find ourselves on day one of a new year.  We can honestly say that 2008 was a good year for us, full of God’s favor and blessings.  Sure, we could choose to focus on some of the negatives but that would just distract us from looking back with grateful hearts, and grateful we are because we are living a life of privilege compared with most in this world. 

But life isn’t lived in the past and we have to move forward with expectant hearts for the year ahead of us.  However, instead of focusing on goals such as losing weight, learning Portuguese, etc., etc., I want to focus on improving my spirit.  I sense that God is wanting me to take my spiritual life to a deeper level of understanding so that I can be used more effectively for God to reach others for Him.  Following God isn’t a passive endeavor so I’m going to have to get off the spiritual couch I’ve been on the past few months and put on the warm-ups.  In order to accomplish my goal of growing closer to God and spiritually wiser, I’ve come up with some steps that need to be taken.  Here they are:

1.  Seek God and the ways of God more.  I want the Holy Spirit to flow through me and outwardly.  I tend to quench the Spirit within me and dam it up.  I need to allow the Spirit, the Water of Christ that is life to rush from my spirit so I can worship God in a meaningful and powerful manner.  I don’t want people to hear about the passion I have for Christ but see the passion I have for Him.  I want to live in the supernatural world of Christ and I want Him to show me great things so I can share them with this dark and hurting world.

2.  Read my Bible on a consistent basis.  I’ve gotten away from reading my Bible on a daily basis and I can tell the difference.  Regardless of what’s going on in my life, I have to make it a priority.  I may even take Joe up on his challenge to read the Bible through in one year. 

3.  Pray more….and then some more.  I often find myself praying through conversation with God throughout the day but I also need to have a devoted time for just prayer.

4.  Pray with my wife consistently.  Now, Christy and I are very close and our love is deep but for some reason, I find it hard to pray with her out loud.  Silly, really.  I know that if we spend more time in prayer together, God will take our relationship to an even greater level.

5.  Find a church home.  Since leaving Calvary, we’ve been attending the International Church plant and The Santuary but haven’t committed to either.  I sense where we need to be but just have to commit.

6.  Continue to tithe faithfully and seek God’s guidance in how to give even more to Him and those that are in need around me.

7.  Get back to posting more because for me, our Leave A Legacy site is a ministry that God has called me to do.  He often places things on my heart or reveals things to me but lately I haven’t been writing about them.  Granted, I would love for my site to get hundreds of hits per day but if I can touch or reach just one person with a post or revelation or whatever, then I have done my job.

8.  Stop dreaming of doing great things for God and start taking some action, some steps to make these dreams a reality.  I need to stop procrastinating and get moving.  God places ideas and visions in our hearts and minds for a reason.  It’s not so we can say “that would be cool” but so that we can potentially start something that will point others to Christ.

9.  Seek divine appointments and opportunities to share my faith and the Truth of Christ more. 

10.  Learn more about my spiritual gifts and seek God’s guidance in how He wants me to grow them and use them.

11.  Seek a mentor that is strong in spiritual deliverance.  I sense strongly that God wants me to understand this area of ministry so He can use me to battle the dark forces of satan.

I’m sure as the year goes on and I seek God more, He will reveal other areas that he would like me to grow in but if I stay focused on attaining my goal, then I may yet make myself a worthy servant of Christ.  Yea, I have other goals (losing 25 lbs. comes to mind) but those will come if I strengthen my spiritual well-being.

Happy New Year everyone!!! I hope the New Year is full of blessings, and that God would show favor on you and your family.  May Christ be with you.

Your brother and sister in Christ,

Patrick and Christy