Unconditional Love

Happy Valentines Day, my friends! I know, for those who are single, this day is dumb… right?

In the past year or so, I have learned incredible things about love… things I never knew or even thought about. Traveling this crazy road with my friend Rob has taught me so much about loving someone unconditionally…. that almost, perhaps just maybe, I have a small glimpse of the way in which God loves us.

I can’t really explain unconditional love. Most of our relationships, even spousal relationships, are tied to conditions, whether we realize it or not. When someone doesn’t treat us like we’d expect them to, or doesn’t say the things we think they should, we get hurt and it sometimes affects the way we think of them.

Unconditional love seems to be made up of compassion and deep understanding, a true desire to see growth and ultimate success, encouragement, forgiveness and reconciliation, combined with a genuine enjoyment of one another’s company, laughter, tears, open honesty without fear of criticism. Unconditional love is just that…. you can love the person even when they don’t make the best choice, and you are there beside them to guide them to better choices. You can love the person when they seem unlovable, when the rest of the world has turned their back on them, and love them back to safety. They know their deepest darkest secrets are as safe with you as yours are with them.

God, our Father, loves us this way…. and it doesn’t matter what we’ve done, or how many times we’ve screwed it up, He loves us back to safety. He loves us so much, in fact, that He sent His only Son to literally die in order to provide a way to reconcile our relationship with Him… the relationship that was broken by our sin.

Admittedly, this is a love that I do not fully understand. I’m not sure I ever will on this side of eternity, but I can say that, having this small piece of understanding has helped me to love others with a genuineness that can only come from God.

Be blessed today, my friends, and whether you have a personal valentine or not, know that our Heavenly Father loves you like crazy.

SB

I am the storm

“The devil whispered in my ear, ‘you are not strong enough to withstand the storm!’

Today, I whispered in the devil’s ear, “I am a child of God… a warrior of Christ… I am the storm.”

The power of the Holy Spirit is more powerful than our battles. When we understand that Power, that flows in us when we accept Jesus as our Savior, we begin to truly become what God wants us to be.

“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8:26-27

“And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.” Acts 4:31.

God has a purpose for us. Do not allow the devil to make you believe you are too weak to withstand his attacks. Call upon the power of the Holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus, to fight your battles.

Be blessed today, my friends.

SB

God’s timing

I remember clearly the day I first came to my current church, completely overwhelmed by life, but knowing I needed healing. God spoke to me that day, and said, “Come back… I have something in store for you.”

I had come to the church looking for healing, and healing I found. Within a short period of time, I got to know their pianist, a wonderful man named Jim, who was also a fellow engineer. He and I hit it off well, and he became like a father figure to me. He was a phenomenal pianist, and we enjoyed playing music together. When he retired and moved south, he left his console keyboard to me. It now sits in our studio, used to teach others how to play the piano.

Jim and I remained close over the years, and, as he was getting up in years, I prayed for his health. He and his wife are truly a blessing, and they have raised a wonderfully loving family.

Over the past year, as plans were unfolding for what is now our studio, I had, in the back of my mind, a feeling that I should reach out to him and tell him my whole story. Few people really know my whole story, and honestly, I think if people were to hear it, they might either not believe it or think that I’m certifiable. I ignored the feeling for a while… but felt it strongly last November. I messaged his wife, Pat, and said I had something I wanted to share with them and asked her to confirm their email address. Jim replied with their email address. It took me until January 13 to work up the courage to reply… even though I felt they would understand my story.

On Mon, Jan 13, 2020 at 1:00 PM SB wrote:
Hi, Jim. I’m so sorry for the delay in filling you in on what’s been going on, but somehow I’ve got to trust Gods timing is perfect.
My story is really quite long and convoluted to be honest, but in my prayer time over the past few months I have felt a gentle nudge to share it with you specifically. I’m not entirely sure why, but trust God enough to know I need to follow that nudging.
I’d like to start by sending you a book. The book was written in 2009 but sat on my hard drive until 2017 when, during a long solo drive in my car, God asked me if I was willing to share my story. I said, “yes, of course I am, Lord, but what story?”…. then I remembered the realistic fiction book I wrote years before…. next thing I knew I was publishing (under a pen name, of course).
In all honesty, the book is a bit dark, and chronicles a woman’s journey through depression and/or spiritual oppression. Although fiction, when you read it, you may recognize pieces of reality of a life similar to mine.
I don’t have your mailing address with me.. can you please send it?
After you read the book, I will explain further.
I’d like you to keep this confidential until I have a chance to finish telling you the story to date.

SB

Jim replied right away that he’d be honored to read the book, Masquerade , and I sent it to him right away. On January 29, Pat sent me an email…

S,
We finished the book–very different difficult subject, There is a whole world out there about which we only know a very little bit. As mentioned in the book most everyone knows someone who has tried and/or succeeded in committing suicide, and we are among them–both in the family and out. The book was an eye opener about the topic of suicide and depression. 
If we are doing God’s will there will be satanic attacks making us doubt, etc. but we must resist–stand firm and believe what we know to be true. The Lord is with us and cares about us.
Jim has several procedures and a surgery coming up next and the following. He is not doing very well right now. In fact I read the book aloud because he is having trouble reading. How about if I let you know in a couple of weeks or so when he should be doing better and we can discuss the book then?
Thanks for sharing this. The title was very apt–we all play a masquerade at times.
Pat

I saw the email on my phone on Wednesday night, but Rob had just gotten discharged from the hospital and I went to check on him so I didn’t reply and then it slipped my mind.

On Monday evening, February 3, I replied,

Yes indeed! I am praying for Jim’s upcoming procedures and surgery and praying for you as caregiver.  
The book was only the beginning of the wild road the Lord has taken me in the past couple of years. I have been working on a timeline to share the highlights of this wild ride and will be prepared by the next time we talk.  
I am trying to stand strong against Satans attacks and believe wholeheartedly that I am doing what God has called me to do
I felt strongly He wanted me to share with you and will keep you both in my prayers in the meantime

Blessings, SB

On Tuesday morning, I got an email from our church’s prayer chain saying that Jim has passed away the evening before. His funeral service was held at our church yesterday. When Pat saw me in the receiving line, her first words were, “how ironic the timing! But God is good. Keep trusting Him.” His service was a blessing to me, and I’ll be sharing more about it soon so you can be blessed, too!

I cannot begin to understand God’s timing, but I know that, for some reason, He is continuing to use me and prepare me to keep doing His work. I am blessed to be His.

Be blessed today, my friends.

SB

The battle

“if we know that we are moving in the direction God planned, nothing will ever cause us to loose His blessing or thwart His purpose for us”. Pastor Stoper, Mission 119

Why is it sometimes- really most times- totally frustrating, lonely, unfun, and seemingly endlessly unrewarding to continue the direction that deep down we know is right, all the while urges just for a little relief drown us even deeper into love of self and if we concede we then hate ourselves and wonder whether we even know God at all. I mean seriously, life can really be a cross to carry, and it doesn’t always seem like an easy yoke to work under.
I fear God, and there are lines I won’t cross, but then sometimes I think I fear men more than God cause other lines I’ve already crossed could be worse than certain ones I won’t cause of upbringing, and then one must think, well, WTH, I’ve already done all that, and we are saved by grace through faith…. But true faith manifests in the works and so why should I plummet any further … I’ve gone far enough and climb up and sink back and climb up and sink back …..I do so get discouraged – where is the power of the resurrection? Where is the new life? Why is it an endless road of repentance? Where is the repentance not to be repented of?
I really am discouraged.

I posted Pastor Stoper’s quote on my Facebook page the other day, and an acquaintance of mine shared it to his page with his post in italics… as I read his words, I felt his genuine discouragement, and my heart broke. I believe these are the lies that the devil wants to continually barrage us with.. he knows we can be easily discouraged.

I have felt the very same way that my friend feels at various times in my life, especially when I’ve fallen prey to the same sin that I know God has previously forgiven, and beat myself up over why it happened. I really appreciate my friends’ open and honest dialogue as it shows our humanity, it shows we don’t have it all together. (I know I certainly don’t)

Romans 7:15-20 New International Version (NIV)

15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[a] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

I am comforted by the fact that even the Apostle Paul wrestled with this… I have found tremendous comfort and healing as I read the Bible and see that the people who God uses to further His kingdom in mighty ways were not perfect. If nothing else, it shows me that God can stilll use me despite my flaws, despite the lives I’ve crossed (or not crossed). When my heart is right and contrite, God forgives and grows. It IS an endless road of repentance, but a road of growth and expectation as well.

Philippians 1:6 English Standard Version (ESV)

6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

I have felt tremendous discouragement very recently, and wondered if the path I travel really is the path He has for me, or if I’ve simply misread. As I Stare in His direction though, I am convinced now, more than ever, that I AM doing what He’s called me to do, and He is using present circumstances to strengthen my faith for the purpose to which He’s called me. I pray I can remain steadfast in His promises as those challenges continue (because I know they will). I pray for those around me, that they would see Him working in my imperfect life to bring about His purpose. I pray that for those around me as well.

In His Holy and precious name I pray, I am His.

Be blessed,

SB

Therapy with Jesus… again

Saturday, February 1, 2020: Here I am a few months later, having a therapy session with Jesus in the lobby of our studio. Rob has told me that this place brings him peace. I’m sitting here in complete silence, interrupted only by the occasional passer by.

Lord, I love You. All I am, all I have is Yours.

https://journey-for-life.com/2019/09/24/therapy-with-jesus/

We have met the enemy…

…. And it is us

We are often our own worst enemy. We allow self doubt, even self loathing, to creep into our mind, and let it traipse all through, telling us that we can’t overcome our past, or our limitations, or our weaknesses.

The truth is, though, that where we fall short, God fills our gaps. He alone can be our strength when we are weak, and can do things through us that we are unable to do on our own.

It’s funny how the devil knows just where to hit us… and he’ll do it every time. Many times, it’s not a frontal attack he launches. Instead, he uses our own self doubt and weakness to convince us we’re powerless. He is so sly he fools us to thinking we’re the ones who aren’t worthy.. and we don’t even realize he’s doing it.

One of the best ways to combat that approach is to really study the word of God. When we know scripture, we can be in a position to recall the scriptures when we need them. Sometimes, a scripture verse will pop into my mind… and it’s completely appropriate for the situation in which I find myself.

Ephesians 3:20 New International Version (NIV)

Ephesians 3:20 “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us”


English Standard Version exodus 14:14 “The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

Turn your battle over to Him today. Let Him fight the fight for you and trust that He will carry you if you fully surrender to him.

Be blessed today, my friends

SB

Chasing Daylight… 2

“When you are passionate about God, you can trust your passions.”

“There are few things in life more inspiring than a life lived with passion and clarity”

“We were not created to live life from the sidelines. It’s about a refusal to live a life in neutral.”

These are a few of the awesome quotes from Erwin MacManus’ book, Chasing Daylight. I had the privilege to worship at his church last year on the day he spoke about this book.

Every now and again we need a reminder that we ARE warriors. We are created by Him for His purpose …and if we are passionate about Him, we can be confident that He’s got us, no matter how difficult a road we travel.

I have the courage to create my future, but only because I am confident in the One who created me for His purpose. I pray for wisdom and knowledge, and know that He is working together for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose.

Blessings,

SB