Friday, October 13, 2017

Cheryl's Testimony

I've said for a long time that I should post my testimony here; I'm finally getting around to it. This is, of course, only a very (very) brief version. Longer versions exist in two of my previous books and I hope that Lord, Prepare Me will also be released as a stand-alone short story soon. In the meantime, I pray this little section will be a blessing to someone, in some way.


Baby-sister and I in 1970.

The Sweetest Bridegroom
an excerpt from Cheryl’s Testimony
 


I grew up mostly in the Pacific Northwest and rural Alaska. Dad was a pipe-fitter/welder with a union, so we moved with the jobs (every six months to a year). I had two sisters, and I was the most fearful child—shy and scared of almost everything, especially of moving.

 My parents cherished us; they were capable, accomplished and excellent providers—for that I'm thankful. But it didn't help my fears that they drank often and were extremely adventurous. We camped in the wilderness every weekend for years, banging coffee cans with spoons to chase bears away. Dad's boat was the fastest and loudest around (built by his scary cousin who pioneered jet boats on the rapids of the Snake River). Dad's vehicles were even faster and louder. Dad didn't drive; he passed traffic! We didn't sight-see; we roared over the logging-roads, catching air on the other side of the mud-holes—the music blared, the tires skidded, spun and slipped along the mountainside, and I stared out my window at wrecked cars in the canyon below.

I had an ulcer by the time I was in my teens.

But there was a time I wasn't quite so fearful. We weren't Alaskan Natives, but when I was seven or eight years old I first heard the gospel from a family who ministered to Athabascan Indian children in Gakona, Alaska. This was the brightest, most peaceful point of my childhood. Mom dropped us off at mission outreaches and even sent me to Bible camp. There was only one television channel in town: the PTL (Praise the Lord) Network. It was weird, but soothing; it gave me hope. When I was nine years old I confessed Christ as my savior. I was very excited about Jesus. In daydreams my adult-self stood (fearlessly!) before crowds, imploring them to embrace Christ and beware of communism. (Someone gave us a pile of comic books: The Hiding Place, The Cross and the Switchblade, God's Smuggler and others. Most were about Christians martyred under communistic governments. I read them over and over again.) I too wanted to bring the light of Jesus to a dark world!

We lived in Gakona longer than most places. But we moved again when I was about ten. Along the way I lost my comic books; soon I completely forgot about Jesus. (Not only did I forget to follow Him, my memory of who He was, and of ever being in church, was plucked from my mind.)

Without Jesus, my overwhelming fears collaborated with the other quirks of my nature to turn me into a liar and a thief—and a serious chain-smoker. I started having boyfriends, and my preaching daydreams were replaced by a desire for a handsome prince on a white horse to come and carry me away. When I was eleven I went to an evangelical outreach to Eskimos for a short time (in Bethel), but I was no longer listening. By the time I turned eighteen I was a weary atheist, a stubborn know-it-all and a single mother trying to get away from a violent, alcoholic boyfriend.



But then when I was nineteen, by the mercy and grace of God, while on a short trip out of Alaska (trying to escape, but failing), I met a young stranger whose passion was street-witnessing; he was really good looking, so I let him read his Bible to me. He explained the Four Spiritual Laws and (I think) the Roman's Road.

Afterward the Scriptures haunted me.

Through God's mercy, I was suddenly aware that God was real and near. It was frightening, but comforting as well. I didn't deserve God's love, but He'd given His only son as a ransom for me anyway. He paid my penalty so I could be forgiven and brought near to Him—as His body and bride. I was overwhelmed with shame, but also with fear and a strong desire to repent and accept His offer. So I gave my heart and life to Jesus, and my daily goal became to know Him, at all costs. Right away my lost childhood memories of Him returned, and He began freeing me from my habitual sin (and the violent boyfriend). He also freed me from my many fears; they were all replaced by just one thing: Fear of God. 





Since then my understanding of the gospel and of Christ has grown, but my goal is unchanged: I want to know Him and (with the strength He gives) to serve the rest of the body of Christ—even if that puts me before crowds, fearlessly imploring them to embrace Christ. 

I want to walk worthy of being what He calls me: I am His bride, who waits for him to come on a white horse and carry me away.

No, I don't have all the answers to your questions---nor to my own. But I know this for sure: Jesus is God, and He gave His life so that I could know Him.  If that's all I ever know for sure, it's enough. Because of this one absolute and unchanging conviction, regardless of cost, I’ve “set my face like flint” to seek God, through the atoning work of His only begotten son, Jesus. The power of His Holy Spirit within me both compels and carries me in this direction. I might never know my exact purpose or calling, but if I know the God of my purpose, that's more than enough.

I hope to know more tomorrow, but today I can promise you this: He sparkles more brightly; His beauty alone is unspoiled; He beckons gloriously, without guile or guilt; He rends the heavens to come down, rescuing all who cry to Him; He purifies hearts and carves new channels for our lives; He brings floods of living water from piles of stone. I'm  bathed in his dazzling light and drenched with His beautiful love time and again. Therefore, I’ve determined to follow hard and present Him with the fruit that is rightfully His, despite the many foxes that sneak in to devour time, weaken devotion and extinguish love. I've failed, some; this doesn’t surprise me. But I'm deeply astonished at how often I’ve not failed; it's a miracle—a result of His power extended through His amazing grace.

2017 

Friends and children, imitate me as I endeavor to imitate Christ; He knows you’re but flesh—He’ll help you.

Love your Creator with all that you are, and then some. Cherish what He cherishes, despite the little foxes in your life.


“Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord,
at the presence of the God of Jacob,
who turned the rock into a pool,
the hard rock into springs of water.”
Psalms 114:7-8 NIV



 

The above is a brief excerpt from Lord, Prepare Me, by Cheryl Sasai Ellicott. Read the entire story in Victory in Jesus, or in, Lord, Prepare Me (coming soon).


Monday, November 7, 2016

The POWER of PURITY

The Power of Purity

Excerpt from Becoming a Woman of Power: Walking in Step With the Holy Spirit
Ten-Week Bible Study by Cheryl Sasai Ellicott

“Now that by your obedience to the truth you have purified yourselves and have come to have a sincere love for other believers, love one another earnestly with all your heart. For through the living and eternal word of God you have been born again as the children of a parent who is immortal, not mortal.” 1 Peter 1:22-23

I once read about a group of tourists who took a guided tour of a little village in a foreign country. As they wandered through the ancient village, one of the visitors asked an elderly native man, “Were any great men born in this village?”

“No,” replied the old man. “Only babies were born here.”

BORN AGAIN!

“Jesus answered, "I am telling you the truth: no one can see the Kingdom of God without being born again." John 3:3

Years ago I had the privilege of helping a dear friend (my husband) grow in His faith after he was born again. Like the rest of us, he was born again as a spiritual baby. As a baby, I watched him go through some adorable and humorous stages. We still laugh about the season he was sincerely trying to be “dead in Christ.”

This really isn’t a bad place to start; I remember going through a similar phase. By the time many people decide to surrender to God—to finally stop trying to control their own lives—they’re in the middle of a deep crisis. God is near the brokenhearted, and many of us had to be broken before we looked up.

“And he [Jesus] said to them all, "If you want to come with me, you must forget yourself, take up your cross every day, and follow me. For if you want to save your own life, you will lose it, but if you lose your life for my sake, you will save it.” Luke 9:23-24

Laying down our life is a requirement; losing our life (daily) for Christ is how we are ultimately saved. This is a good thing; we should never let this go. But as we grow in our faith, we start to feel the stirrings of His new life inside of us. Instead of continuing to lay facedown at His feet, we begin to sense that He’s calling us to arise and walk.

ARISE and . . . ummm . . . WHAT NOW?

While my husband was striving to be dead, and stay dead, God honored his desire to get out of the way—he wanted God to do His work and get all the glory. But it was a very happy day (for both of us) when he realized the Bible doesn’t say we’re to be “dead in Christ.” The Scriptures tell us to be “dead to sin” and “alive to Christ.” Through continual Bible study and prayer, he saw that he was “hidden in Christ,” and then “raised to new life.” He wasn’t supposed to just get crucified and disappear, leaving an empty shell walking around. No, he was to rise from death with a new (fully alive) Spirit and nature controlling Him (Christ’s nature).

Likewise, Jesus wants to reveal His nature and essential character through us. So we ask ourselves, “Who is He?”

He is God, therefore He is LOVE.

“Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.” 1 John 4:8

“His Son [Jesus] is the reflection of God's glory and the exact likeness of God's being. He holds everything together through his powerful words. After he had cleansed people from their sins, he received the highest position, the one next to the Father in heaven.” Hebrews 1:3 GW

[Jesus said] ...” Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” John 14:9b


Many worldly people agree that “God is love.” However, as we mentioned in week two, Satan has perverted the understanding of the word “love” in this world. Because God is love, and He invented love, only His definition is valid. Therefore, we need to understand what God says love is. God’s love is described in 1st Corinthians chapter thirteen:

“Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud; love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs; love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth. Love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never fail. Love is eternal.”

ARISE and BE PURIFIED!

pure: free from everything that is foreign to the true nature of the essential character of the thing specified; without pollution. (Websters)

Because God IS love, these are His characteristics. Romans 8:29 says that God’s will is to mold you into Christ’s image—to make you like Jesus.  That’s His plan for your life.

God is love; Jesus is God—and I’m supposed to become like Him? Oy vey! This will take a miracle!

God’s characteristics can be learned about. We can study and memorize them. But His characteristics cannot genuinely become a part of us unless His Holy Spirit enters and controls us. Simply memorizing His character traits and trying to imitate them, with our flawed, selfish human nature, will produce only frustration, failure and hypocrisy in our lives. (It’s called “religion.”)

Being like Jesus, from the inside out, cannot be learned; it’s a miracle—evidence that we’re filled with His Spirit, basking in His glorious presence and yielding to His power.
   
“The Spirit has given us life; he must also control our lives.” Galatians 5:25

“You were baptized into union with Christ, and now you are clothed, so to speak, with the life of Christ himself.” Galatians 3:27

“So then, my friends, because of God's great mercy to us I appeal to you: Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him. This is the true worship that you should offer. Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God---what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect.” Romans 12:1-2


Allowing God to transform you inwardly means to let Him make you like Jesus, from the inside out—in other words “purify you.” Read the definition of “pure” (above) once again. To purify is to remove “impurities.” What are impurities inside of a person? Any characteristics that are different (foreign) from God’s nature and character. In essence, anything that doesn’t stem from God’s version of love is an impurity.

“He gave himself for us. He died to free us from all evil. He died to make us pure--people who belong only to him and who always want to do good.” Titus 2:14 ERV

With God’s help, can you identify any impurities within yourself? 


Do you remember learning about “context”? Take another look at the verse above—the one that says Jesus died to make us pure—and see if reading it in context helps you to identify impurities within yourself: 

“Instruct the older men to be sober, sensible, and self-controlled; to be sound in their faith, love, and endurance. In the same way instruct the older women to behave as women should who live a holy life. They must not be slanderers or slaves to wine. They must teach what is good, in order to train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, and to be good housewives who submit themselves to their husbands, so that no one will speak evil of the message that comes from God. In the same way urge the young men to be self-controlled. In all things you yourself must be an example of good behavior. Be sincere and serious in your teaching. Use sound words that cannot be criticized, so that your enemies may be put to shame by not having anything bad to say about us. Slaves are to submit themselves to their masters and please them in all things. They must not talk back to them or steal from them. Instead, they must show that they are always good and faithful, so as to bring credit to the teaching about God our Savior in all they do. For God has revealed his grace for the salvation of all people. That grace instructs us to give up ungodly living and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this world, as we wait for the blessed Day we hope for, when the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ will appear. He gave himself for us, to rescue us from all wickedness and to make us a pure people who belong to him alone and are eager to do good.” Titus 2:2-14

 

WHAT STEPS CAN I TAKE?


[Jesus said], “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” Matt. 5:8 ASV

If you’re anything like me, you trust that God knows best. So you want to be purified. You want to see God, and you realize this is going to take a mighty miracle. But do we have a part to play in this miracle? Yes, we must be agreeable, active participants in God’s purification process. We agree with him in our hearts, and we participate by taking the following steps (with His help):

HAVING FAITH IN JESUS


“God treated them in the same way that he treated us. They put their faith in him, and he made their hearts pure.” Acts 15:9 CEV

“I ask God from the wealth of his glory to give you power through his Spirit to be strong in your inner selves, and I pray that Christ will make his home in your hearts through faith. I pray that you may have your roots and foundation in love...” Eph. 3:16-17



DRAWING NEAR to GOD with HUMILITY


“Come near to God, and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners! Purify your hearts, you hypocrites! Be sorrowful, cry, and weep; change your laughter into crying, your joy into gloom! Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” James 4:8-10


OFFERING MYSELF to GOD EVERY DAY


“Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him. This is the true worship that you should offer. Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God---what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect.” Romans 12:1-2

“...you have put off the old self with its habits and have put on the new self. This is the new being which God, its Creator, is constantly renewing in his own image, in order to bring you to a full knowledge of himself.” Col. 3:9b-10

“Your hearts and minds must be made completely new, and you must put on the new self, which is created in God's likeness and reveals itself in the true life that is upright and holy.” Eph. 4:23-24



STUDYING GOD’S WORD SO I WILL NOT SIN AGAINST HIM or BE DECEIVED


“I have hidden Your Word in my heart, so that I might not sin against You.” Psalm 119:11 MKJV

“The people in Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica. They were so glad to hear the message Paul told them. They studied the Scriptures every day to make sure that what they heard was really true.” Acts 17:11 ERV


OBEYING the TRUTH


“Now that by your obedience to the truth you have purified yourselves and have come to have a sincere love for other believers, love one another earnestly with all your heart.” 1 Peter 1:22

“Be obedient to God, and do not allow your lives to be shaped by those desires you had when you were still ignorant. Instead, be holy in all that you do, just as God who called you is holy.” 1 Peter 1:14-15



LOVING and FORGIVING ONE ANOTHER


“Be always humble, gentle, and patient. Show your love by being tolerant with one another.” Eph. 4:2

“Most important of all, love each other deeply, because love makes you willing to forgive many sins.” 1 Peter 4:8 ERV


><>                    <><



MY ACTIONS COME FROM my HEART


Jesus said, “A good person brings good out of the treasure of good things in his heart; a bad person brings bad out of his treasure of bad things. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Luke 6:45

In James chapters 3 through 5 we learn that our tongues can do much evil. But is it really the tongue that’s the problem? No; a vicious tongue is the result of a vicious heart.

When a heart isn’t purified by faith it’s called a “natural” heart. Human nature is called the “sinful nature.” Therefore, the natural heart is sinful; it harbors bitter envy and selfish ambition.

The book of James contrasts what our lives will look like if we live by our natural hearts (selfish and proud) instead of asking God for wisdom, humbling ourselves and letting Christ purify our hearts. Our impure natural hearts will give birth to actions: boasting, bragging, fighting, grumbling. Gossip and bitter words will come from our selfish natural hearts to poison us and others. In the end we’ll be judged and condemned if we refuse to humble ourselves and purify our hearts.

Can you remember a time that you boasted, bragged, fought, grumbled, gossiped or spoke bitter words? Did you know they were the overflow of a boastful, aggressive, slanderous or bitter heart?



LIVING AND LOVING in CHRIST!


“But the wisdom from above is pure first of all; it is also peaceful, gentle, and friendly; it is full of compassion and produces a harvest of good deeds; it is free from prejudice and hypocrisy.” James 3:17

“But to those of God's selection, Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power and the wisdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:24b BBE


James shows us that we need to have our hearts purified, and we need wisdom—the wisdom that is gained through humility. We are told that if we ask God for wisdom, He will give it. But, there’s more! Every time we study, trying to find out how to please God, all paths lead us back to the same exact answer:

Jesus.


JESUS is the ANSWER—AGAIN!


You want wisdom? 1 Corinthians tells us that CHRIST IS THE WISDOM OF GOD. In previous chapters we read that Christ is the key to all the mysteries and treasures of God.

Putting this wisdom—Christ—to work in our lives results in purified hearts, and purified actions. The end of James chapter five gives an illustration of what we should be doing instead of the old destructive things:

When we suffer, be patient.

If we’re in trouble, instead of grumbling we must pray.

If we’re happy we must not boast or brag but we must sing songs of praise.

If we’re sick we shouldn’t complain and whine but should call the elders to anoint us with oil and pray for us.

Instead of harboring pride and selfish ambition, we should confess our sins to one another, and pray for one another.

Instead of being deceitful, we should let our yes mean yes, and our no mean no.

If someone has wandered from the truth, instead of gossiping about them, we should bring them back, turn them from the error of their way and save them from death.


BORN to be PURE


God is love. Jesus is God; He’s trying to purify you, from the inside out. You’ll always have the “old self” to deny, crucify and put off. You might hear your old self raging at you because you won’t obey it; you might feel it pulling, scratching and kicking. But the Holy Spirit in you will give you the power to choose to be purified.

You’ll know that you’re allowing God to do His perfect work when you choose to speak true, loving and edifying words. You’ll know you’re in step with His Holy Spirit when you choose to allow true, loving and edifying actions to flow from your purified heart.

“But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he really is. Everyone who has this hope in Christ keeps himself pure, just as Christ is pure.” 1 John 3:2-3



CONCLUSION: Being purified is God’s plan, accomplished by His power. My job is to trust Him, agree with what He’s doing, and then obey as He holds me up, and urges me to take steps forward.




______________________________________________________________________________
"The Power of Purity" is an excerpt from my latest book, Becoming a Woman of Power, which is currently in progress. When it's finished and available, I'll announce that here.


Saturday, May 7, 2016

God Have Mercy

My apologies for letting so much time pass since the last blog entry---I've been busy writing. My next book, Victory in Jesus, will be available soon (pre-pub through www.sweetwaterstill.com). In the meantime, here's an excerpt. I pray it inspires you:

God Have Mercy: 

Helping Orphans to Come Out

An excerpt from Victory in Jesus: Equipping Christian Families for Foster Care or Adoption,  Copyright 2016 by Cheryl Sasai Ellicott. All Rights Reserved. Do not copy or reproduce without Author’s written permission.


In Bible interpretation scholars often apply “the Rule of Firsts”—taking special notice of the first time something appears in Scripture. This mention is always significant; it sets the precedent for interpreting the concept when it appears again. Keeping the Rule of Firsts in mind, here’s the first time the word orphan (or fatherless) appears in Scripture:

 [The Lord says,] “Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you . . . “ (Exodus 22:22-24a NIV)

Over forty other Bible Scriptures outright proclaim, or clearly imply, that God defends orphans (along with widows and foreigners). If we abuse, neglect or cheat the fatherless, we arouse God’s wrath. However, one Scripture declares that Almighty God, who is love, will at some time turn away from even the orphans. He’ll refuse to show them pity.

". . . he will not show pity on any of the widows and orphans, because all the people are godless and wicked and everything they say is evil." (Isaiah 9:17b GNB)

This prophecy was fulfilled after the ancient nation of Israel turned away from their God, ignored His warnings and calls to repent and was eventually destroyed by enemies. Because of her covenant with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Israel had been divinely blessed and invincible; she was surrounded by God’s hedge of protection. But she turned away to follow idols, heaped up sins and ignored the prophets and warnings—even the obvious removal of the hedge. Total destruction of her Northern Kingdom followed (in 722 B. C.) and in 586 B.C the survivors of Judah’s decimation were carried into captivity.

But many years later, on April 30, 1789, another newly formed nation dedicated themselves to this same God. Intent upon patterning their nation after ancient Israel, they took vows binding them to be faithful to God. Inside a church—their ground of consecration—they prayed as Solomon had upon Israel's Temple dedication. This also was spoken over their new nation that day:

 “. . . the foundation of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality . . . . . . The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself hath ordained.” 1

The results were tremendous: God placed a hedge of protection around this new nation; she became the most powerful and blessed of all. She was invincible. Yet in time, this nation also turned away from God and denied her vows. She shamelessly heaped up sins—mocking both private and public morality—spilled the innocent blood of her children and lusted after gold and other idols. Just as Israel before her, she entered a season of warnings, which were ignored. Next, the hedge of protection began to crumble. The first breaches were so tremendous, the collapse was heard around the world.

On the exact ground where the founding fathers dedicated the nation to God, she was devastated by terrorists—it was “the worst terrorist attack in world history.” In 1789 when this nation took her vows to God, it was within a small church called St. Paul’s Chapel; at that time Ground Zero, the site of the future terrorist attacks, was an empty field which belonged to the church. Unaware of these facts,  the terrorists who staged the attack gave their plans a code-name: The Big Wedding.

The nation is, of course, the United States of America. “No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States,” the first president declared.1 Not only was America bound by vows to acknowledge God, but also to adore Him.

In Isaiah chapter nine, when the Lord removed the hedge and stirred up Israel's enemies to attack her, instead of repenting, the leaders responded:

"The bricks have fallen, but we will build with dressed stones; the sycamore trees have been cut down, but we will replace them with cedars." (Isaiah 9:10 ISV)

Likewise, on September 11, 2001, after the World Trade Center fell, America also failed to take this removal of protection to heart. Instead of calling the nation to turn from unfaithfulness and return to her God, leaders responded by publicly quoting the prophecy of Isaiah—word for word, multiple times. "The bricks have fallen, but we will build with dressed stones; the sycamore trees have been cut down, but we will replace them with cedars,"2 they swore. “We will rebuild! We’re going to come out of this stronger than before. . .”3 “We remember, we rebuild, we come back stronger!”4 “We will rebuild!” newspaper headlines echoed repeatedly.5 They didn’t know that they claimed a prophecy of judgement upon a nation who had broken her vows. They failed to understand the prophecy in context:

 8 "The LORD has sent a plague against Jacob, and it will fall on Israel; 9 and all of the people were evil—Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria—saying proudly with arrogant hearts:
 10  'The bricks have fallen, but we will build with dressed stones; the sycamore trees have been cut down, but we will replace them with cedars.'
 11  But the LORD has raised adversaries from Rezin against him, and he stirs up his enemies—12  Arameans from the east and Philistines from the west—and they devour Israel with open mouths! "Yet for all this, his anger has not turned away, and his hand is still stretched out, ready to strike."
 13 "But the people have not returned to rely on him who struck them, nor have they sought the LORD of the Heavenly Armies. 14  So the LORD has cut off from Israel head and tail, palm branch and reed in a single day—15  the elder and the dignitary is the head, and the prophet who teaches lies is the tail. 16  For those who guide this people have been leading them astray, and those who are guided by them are swallowed up.
 17 Therefore the Lord does not have pity on their young men, and has no compassion on their orphans and widows, because each of them was godless and an evildoer, and every mouth spoke folly. "Yet for all this, his anger has not turned away, and his hand is still stretched out, ready to strike."
 18  "For wickedness has burned like a blaze that consumes briers and thorns; it sets thickets of the forest on fire, and skyward they swirl in a column of smoke. 19  From the wrath of the LORD of the Heavenly Armies the land has been scorched, and the people have become like fuel for the fire; no one will spare his neighbor. 20  They cut meat on the right, but they're still hungry, and they devour also on the left, but they're not satisfied; each devours the flesh of his own children. 21  Manasseh devours Ephraim, and Ephraim devours Manasseh; together they are against Judah. "Yet for all this, his anger has not turned away, and his hand is still stretched out, ready to strike." (Isaiah 9:8-21 ISV)

True to her word, America proudly rebuilt. Part of her national makeover was the passing of more laws disregarding the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself hath ordained. And she boldly built a new tower to replace the World Trade Center. Spending 4 billion dollars, America constructed a monument to herself: the most expensive building in the world at the time. At 1,776 feet (signifying the year America signed her Declaration of Independence) this symbolic tower was the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere; she named it the One World Trade Center. A symbolic cornerstone (“dressed stone” from the quarry) was brought in and called the “Freedom Stone.” The sycamore that fell within the courtyard of St. Paul’s Chapel was replaced with the same genus of tree spoken of in the prophecy of Isaiah 9. The new tree was dedicated as “the Tree of Hope.” Workers engraved the new One World tower with graffiti symbolizing “rebirth and resilience.” America marched forward in the footsteps of the ancient nation of Israel, prior to her total destruction. But these actions also aligned with future prophecies of a rebellious One World government that arises in the end times.

Oh, little Christian, listen and take heed! These facts apply to us! It is within this context, this exact prophecy—this judgment upon a nation that has turned from her God—that God declares "he will not show pity on any of the widows and orphans, because all the people are godless and wicked."

Have the children of our age become so godless and wicked that God cannot tolerate them? Will the children that I raise, and that you raise, fail to receive His pity and protection, because we have not turned them from the sin and guilt of this society? May it never be! Please stand with me, saying, “Not on my watch!” Beloved brothers and sisters, regardless of what age we live in, God has called us to do more than just feed and clothe the orphans. It's not enough to lift them out of the ashes that they might become like America's rebel sons and daughters—sharing the pride, riches and ungodly lifestyle of our society, thereby sharing her guilt. The voice from heaven declares, "Come out of her, my people, so that you may have no part in her sins and in her punishments." 

Our mission, if possible, is to turn orphans away from the wickedness within society—to encourage and enable them to be separate—so they will receive God's mercy. To do this, we must first come out and turn away ourselves.

“Put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. . . . Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 13:12b, 14a NIV)



1: Excerpts from George Washington’s first inaugural speech, April 30, 1789
2. Senate Majority Leader Daschle, September 12, 2001; John Edwards, September 11, 2004; President Barack Obama, February 24, 2009
3. New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, September 11, 2001
4. President Barack Obama, June 2012, writing on a steel beam of the One World Trade Center
5.CBS News, CNN, MSNBC, The Guardian, National Public Radio, Times Online, Fox News, Al Jazeera, Drudge Report, Associated Press, New York Times

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Power of Humility: Mike's Testimony

I grew up on the east side of Tucson, Arizona. I'm the youngest of five boys, and we were raised Southern Baptist.  I was baptized at 8 years old. Growing up, when people asked me if I were a Christian, I’d honestly answer, “No, I’m Baptist.”
That was the extent of my understanding of Christianity.



In the 1980’s I was on the football team at the University of Arizona. There I met a couple of teammates who were on fire for Jesus.  I wanted what they had, so I rededicated my life to Christ and began studying 
the Bible. 
 


I was zealous, but only for a short time, only on my terms, and only when it made me feel good about myself. I was confused, frustrated, proud, and discouraged by my tendency to sin even when I tried not to.  When I was 23 years old I met Cheryl.  We got married when I was 24. 

I worked various jobs, including as an actor and stuntman for a time.


We attended Calvary Chapel in Tucson. The teaching was very good.  But I usually slept through church anyway.

Together Cheryl and I raised our three biological children, plus many foster children and two adopted.


I often wished I were a better father and husband (and a better Christian), but my faith was very weak.

Year after year I remained confused, proud, angry and discouraged by my sinful state, although I'd stopped trying to please God or resist sin years earlier. I was angry at myself for this, but it was hopeless.

I was a proud, miserable, angry, religious man.

I was overcome with despair.

I knew the scriptures.

I knew that my sin had separated me from God.








But early in the year 2007



I finally reached the end of myself.





I cried out to Jesus for forgiveness, mercy and help . . . 

I was finally willing to listen, regardless of what He might say . . . 
And at last, He revealed Himself to me.


There’s really no way to describe an encounter with God . . . so I won’t even try.

But for the first time ever, I saw a glimpse of who God really was. 

For the first time, I was aware of the awesome, terrifying, breathtaking holiness of God.



In light of HIM, I finally saw myself clearly, and I wasn’t proud of what I saw.

I was disgusted and ashamed . . . and scared. 

“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  (James 4:6b ESV)

I finally humbled myself before God,  and from this position, I could see clearly.
  
I suddenly understood the scriptures that I had memorized.  I finally understood that Jesus offered me forgiveness for my sins, and freedom from myself, in exchange for me laying down my life and accepting His new life. 

Choose life, he said -- choose MY life, my life inside of you -- that was his offer, and I accepted with my whole heart.
I’d literally been born again. Everything was so new . . . the world looked different. Even the people I thought I’d known before were nothing like I’d imagined they were.

My family and friends had been hurt badly by my pride and rebellion . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . .This grieved me. God allowed me to begin to see things as they really are, as he sees them. Finally it wasn’t all about me.
He showed me how to deny myself, to take up my cross and follow him, through His strength – I began letting Him reveal His character through me.

His character is humility, with the heart of a servant.  

I began seeking him with a heart that’s been purified by faith.

I began letting him fulfill His plans in my life.




I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1 ESV)

 


 Every day since then has been a joy, as he enables me to live to bring Him pleasure.








Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Matthew 23:12 ESV)

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