This blog is where I can pour out my heart with my longing for God.

Posts tagged ‘grace’

Our Miracle of Healing! Pt. II: Going Downhill Fast

Me with Meghann (left), Chelsea (right) and Elijah--just a couple of months before the parasite crisis--down at my parents' farm which you will see mentioned in this story.

Me with Meghann (left), Chelsea (right) and Elijah–just a couple of months before the parasite crisis–down at my parents’ farm which you will see mentioned in this story.

(This story is much too long to share in one blog post, so I have divided it into parts. Be warned that it deals with a sickness that was so severe I must occasionally delve into graphic descriptions of the symptoms. This is necessary for the telling of the story.)

Another Sunday arrived, yet again with only Keith able to attend church. I had suddenly become positive that we had a parasite. I knew it was more than the typical worms that kids get from playing outside barefoot where animals have defecated. We had a serious infestation of SOMETHING!

Back in the summer, a close friend from church, Joy Brown, had loaned me a book about parasites and how incredibly common they are. Whenever Joy gives me a book to read, it is usually for a purpose. In nearly every case before when she had loaned me a book, I ended up dealing with a problem similar to what the book was about. I remember when she handed me that parasite book. I smiled politely but was thinking, “Why on earth is she loaning me a book about parasites?” Then I rolled my eyes and said, “Oh, great! I guess I’m going to be needing this knowledge!” Little did I know just how soon that would prove to be true.

At Sunday dinner at my parents’ house, the kids only ate mashed potatoes and bread, but I ate tiny portions of other food. Although they looked pale and had dark circles under their eyes, my children played outside with their cousins and even walked down to Belews Lake. Meghann did have to carry Elijah part of the way, due to his weakness. Later that night, Chelsea began throwing up again; she had been the only affected person NOT throwing up with us in the wee hours of Saturday morning.

Monday, October 19, followed the pattern, just a minor diarrhea day with weakness. According to this pattern, I assumed Tuesday would be a rough day, and it was—all of us sick in the night once more.

By now, people were calling us, truly worried. My parents knew something really bad was wrong. Our assistant pastor, Mike Lane, came out to pray for us. He anointed us with oil, according to the Biblical example, and we all prayed for healing. He mentioned how Elijah Blue had fallen away to nothing. That was my biggest worry. I was constantly fighting a battle to keep fluids in him. We were going through Pedialyte like crazy!

On Tuesday afternoon, October 20, Keith took Elijah to the doctor. The physician’s assistant sent him home, recommending that we keep him on the BRAT diet and get Pedialyte in him every 10 minutes. I was absolutely exhausted from lack of sleep and nausea, plus having to nurse baby Abigail and continually monitor Elijah’s intake. He was hungry but didn’t want the things he could have. We were all starving….literally.

That night when Elijah had diarrhea, we mixed it with chemicals in three little vials which we took the doctor’s office the next morning to be sent to a lab for stool sample culture tests. There was nothing to do but wait and pray.

Wednesday was a weak day again; we skipped church once more. We were missing everything. The girls had missed dance the day before. We were praying so hard yet felt totally blocked—as if we weren’t able to break through.

Thursday, October 22, dawned with screams from Elijah who was sick again. He even threw up his Pedialyte. I was so desperate that I pumped some breast milk, although I was running low, and tried to get him to drink it, hoping it would coat his intestines with good bacteria. He simply threw it up.

Megh was sick again in the night, too. Two of my dearest friends, Vicki and Tracey Moses, came over and anointed us and prayed for us. It was so good to simply see someone new. Elijah even perked up and sat on Tracey’s lap, talking to her. But once they left, so did the joy. I stood in the driveway on a brilliantly sunny October morning and watched them drive away, wondering if my life would ever be the same again.

I had to call my parents to come up at one point, because Elijah was uncontrollable. He was screaming for spaghetti, of all things. My faithful friend, Heather Hampton, called at that point. Later she called another of our close friends, Lisa Stevens, and told her about Elijah screaming for spaghetti. Lisa felt strongly like calling me and telling me to let him eat anything he wanted, but she didn’t.

Friday, October 23, didn’t give us the break that the sickness pattern usually afforded us. Elijah was very weak and screamed if you even touched him. Keith was working for the first time in a while, and I ended up calling him off the job in the afternoon to get him to take Elijah to the doctor again. They wanted to weigh him and make sure he wasn’t dehydrating.

It was yet another beautiful sunny day, and I wanted so desperately to just see my children able to go outside and play. I carried Elijah to the front porch and rocked him in my rocking chair. His bones were prominent where he had lost so much weight. He screamed to play basketball, so I carried a beach towel out to the basketball goal area and tried to get him to sit on it and eat Rice Chex cereal. He didn’t want any food at this point. He actually tried to shoot the basketball twice but got too weak.

Keith rushed home and took Elijah, with Meghann in tow, to the doctor. I tried to pray the whole time they were gone. I lay in the floor beside Elijah’s little bed and beseeched God to help me somehow.

I had been researching online anything I could think of that had to do with our sickness. One website from a hospital in Iowa said the BRAT diet was not good for an extended period of time—that children only get 25 percent of the nutrition they need from it. The research said there was no basis for the BRAT diet anyway.

I called the 800 number and talked to the actual researcher in Iowa. She was extremely helpful and told me to give my children some real food as soon as possible. I feel as if God let me make that connection, because my kids were slowly but surely starving to death on that bland diet. I determined right then and there to give them real food once again.

Soon Keith was home with our little buddy who had lost a pound since Tuesday and was down to 28 lbs., 12 oz. Still the doctors said, “Take him home. He’s not dehydrated. The stool samples are still negative.”

The physician’s assistant sent home two prescriptions—one for a powerful broad-spectrum antibiotic, Septra, and another for Zantac, an ulcer medication. Keith was all for getting the prescriptions filled, especially the Zantac to line Elijah’s stomach.

All I could do was cry. I didn’t want Elijah to have the medicine, and I didn’t really know why. It was a deep gut feeling of knowing that you know that you know. Keith kept following me around the house, asking me why not and what he should do. I couldn’t even talk about it.

I just kept remembering when Elijah was 11 months old, and we thought he had pneumonia. As I sat rocking him in the nursery, crying and praying to God to send angels and healing, the Lord spoke to me and said, “Do not trust him to the ways of man.” I knew then that I was supposed to trust God and Him alone for Elijah’s health.

That night as Keith held him in the den, Elijah perked up and started waving to something in the corner of the room. His little eyes followed “it” as it rose up to the ceiling. He smiled and waved as it departed. I am sure God sent an angel that only his little eyes could see.

The next morning as I nursed Elijah, he lost his breath from the mucous in his chest and began to turn blue. Disregarding what the Lord had told me, I rushed to the doctor where they sent him for a chest x-ray. His lungs were totally clear, and by afternoon, he had made a turn for the better. I have never gotten over the feeling that I had failed God on that one; He told me not to trust Elijah to man’s ways, and instead I subjected him to needless radiation.

(Note: I am not against doctors and modern medicine; Elijah’s situation is an unusual case based upon a leading from the Spirit of God which I do not question.)

Now almost two years later, I had the same feeling. TRUST GOD. But I felt blocked—as if there was something in the way of our breakthrough. Keith agreed we’d wait until Monday to decide what to do about the medicine.

Saturday, October 24, came, and we all felt rough. Elijah was so limp and weak that I had to carry him even from his bed to the potty then out to the den. He lay on the floor on his pillow and sleeping bag, too listless to even watch a movie. I had been able to entice him to eat by feeding him Ortega’s refried beans. I know that sounds like a strange food to feed an invalid, but that’s what tempted his taste buds, as well as the taste buds of the other kids.

In the afternoon, Mama came to get us to go sit in the sunshine in her yard. She had bought a pedal toy for Elijah to ride. He just sat motionless on it for a few minutes, then went inside to lie in the floor. I fed him a few refried beans, and he had a small diarrhea bowel movement. That was to be the last one he had for a long time, and it was a very minor one.

I could tell Mama and Daddy were extremely worried about us all, but especially the little buddy. He was fading away to just pale skin and bones, with dark circles under his hollowed-out eyes. He was extremely irritable and screamed much of the time. If I asked him how he felt, he’d say, “Not good. My belly hurts.” I was nearly beside myself with worry.

All day that Saturday, my phone rang. All kinds of people called to check. I was so exhausted and numb I could barely talk to them. Polly Marler, Leisa Rollins and others said, “You don’t sound so good.” I was too tired to put up a front. I simply said, “I’m not doing well.”

Some called to say I needed to put him in the hospital, but that brought such confusion to my mind. For some inexplicable reason, I didn’t feel right about it. The physician’s assistant called to check on Elijah and was a bit disturbed when he found out we had not yet put him on the antibiotics and Zantac. He was also displeased when Keith told him we had stopped the BRAT diet.

I frankly didn’t care; I knew the BRAT diet was not what you eat when you have a parasite. And I was positive in my mind that this was parasitic in nature. It fit all the criteria. The sickness came primarily at night or early morning when parasites tend to be most active. We’d have long lulls in the sickness as our bodies tried valiantly to overcome—again, a characteristic of parasites. And our appetites never left us completely.

But still the stool sample showed no parasites.

Then came a phone call that started the ball rolling. A precious saint of God called to say she had been praying and felt impressed to call and ask me if we had taken anything into our house right about the time the sickness came. I didn’t even have to think about it. I immediately said, “YES!”

This was a confirmation of something I had been thinking about that very morning when I woke up. I had suddenly gotten a funny feeling about something we had taken into our house the week of the fair, the very week we got sick. The item was nothing immoral, but I, for one, believe that objects can be accompanied by evil spirits which of course cannot possess Christians, but which CAN work to oppress and hinder them.

Because I had awakened suddenly feeling very uncomfortable about this very object sitting in my house, I knew without a doubt that when the woman called me to ask me that simple question, she was on to something. I thanked her profusely and told Keith to please dispose of that object immediately. Instead of arguing with me and thinking I was being ridiculous, he agreed wholeheartedly—another sign to me that it was indeed the will of God that we rid ourselves of that object since Keith had been the one who had so desperately wanted it.

He got rid of it, then spent the rest of the day doing anything he could to eradicate the source of our sickness—Cloroxing the basement floor, cleaning out a window where a bat had flown into the house and roosted a few months back, laundering rugs, etc. I felt so sorry for him as I watched him feverishly work. He was the only healthy one, doing anything he could to find out what was wrong.

I began to have a little more hope on that Saturday once the mysterious item was gone. My parents were adamant that we get out of the house for a few days to see if that made a difference; they thought perhaps something in the house was making us sick. So I called our dear friends, Rusty and Vicki Moses, to see if we could spend the night in their basement. Rusty was hunting, but Vicki told us to come on over. . .

 TO BE CONTINUED…..See Pt. III at https://timesofrefreshingontheoldpaths.wordpress.com/2015/10/20/our-miracle-of-healing-pt-iii-a-breakthrough-at-last/

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Your springtime is coming

Sometimes in the midst of summer’s heat, there comes a day like today–a day that seems to be set out of time. The humidity is suddenly incredibly low. Skies are the vivid blue of early autumn rather than the diluted blue of midsummer. The air is fanned by a gentle breeze that remains cool throughout this rare day when late June temperatures have plummeted from the mid-90s to the upper 70s.

When I awakened this morning and saw the type of day I had been given, I felt a special essence surrounding it. I was mentally transported to late September when summer’s heat gives way to pleasing temperatures. My 14-year-old daughter Abigail must’ve felt the same thing. She kept repeating, “It feels like fall!”

Even now at 8:08 p.m., I sit on the deck and marvel at the stellar beauty of the day. Little birds peck in my flowerbeds near me and chirp merrily. The begonia given to me by my precious Aunt Audrey last fall delights my eyes with its pinkish-red blooms. I think of how I wondered if it would live until spring when she placed it in my care last October.

But somehow–despite my tendency to let summer’s leftover hanging baskets die inside throughout the winter–this lovely begonia survived. And now it blossoms luxuriously, lending beauty to my summer days on the deck.

You know what? I feel like that begonia now. And I feel in my Spirit that many of you readers do, too.

You’ve been through troubles and trials in your life and you’ve wondered if you would make it through the long winter that seemed to linger. Sometimes the days felt mighty cold, and you would’ve given anything for a little warmth. You woke up many mornings to a gray sky of life and prayed the sun would somehow break through your circumstances. Maybe you are still there.

Well, guess what? Our God will never fail us or abandon us (Hebrews 13:5). Hang on a little longer; your springtime will come. God is intrinsically a God of redemption, renewal, revival, regeneration, restoration, refreshing. He wants to renew YOU, restore YOU, regenerate YOU, refresh YOU, revive YOU, redeem YOU.

Just like the begonia that struggled to make it inside a house when it longed for the outdoors, that often suffered from lack of water due to the dry winter air inside, that needed more sunlight than it could get through my bedroom window–you, too, will once again feel the refreshing spring air, soak in the spring rains, flourish in the light of the abundant sun.

Maybe you have already come through that dark winter and are currently being refreshed by your springtime season. Then reach out to help and encourage others who still linger in winter’s chill. That’s why I’m writing this to you.

Do I have trials and tribulations? Sure do. Are things perfect in my situation? Of course not–this world is not Utopia. Do I worry sometimes and feel gray? Yep.

But despite these things, I feel like the begonia. Today, I have been so overwhelmed by the magnitude of the gratitude I feel toward God that I had no way to express it. I have a peace I have never had before, a love for people that oozes out of me until I don’t know what to do sometimes, a confidence in the favor of God in my life that I never knew until I came out of that dark winter of 2007-10 (yep, that long).

If you haven’t gotten there yet, HOLD ON! Our God is indeed faithful and true. His plans for you are of peace and for you to have a good end. Praise Him even when the results seems to be negative. Contact me and I’ll praise Him with you and encourage you.

Some of you don’t feel that you deserve to be happy. Admit it; you don’t. You feel that you have failed God so much in the past that you don’t merit the good things He wants to bless you with.

Hate to tell you this, but guess what? You DON’T deserve the blessings. Neither do I. But our God delights to bless His children. Quit thinking you’re not worthy; that can chain up your blessings. Sure, we’re unworthy in ourselves, but the blood of Jesus has made us worthy.

So, yes, because of Christ’s sacrifice, you do deserve the happiness He desires to pour upon you. You got divorced, you say? You spent some years seeking fulfillment through alcohol or drugs? So you tell me you had sex before marriage or maybe even with someone else while you were married? You hurt somebody really badly in the past? You gossiped relentlessly about a brother or sister in Christ? You had a bad attitude a lot of the time while your children were little?

Okay, join the ex-sinners’ club; come have a seat on the front row with me and most everyone else in the world. We’ve all been there, done something similar to that in some degree.

Did you repent? Are you not committing that act(s) today? Are you working diligently, with God’s help, on your attitude? Are you trusting God to fully deliver you from any addiction that lingers?

Then move on and enjoy the life you’ve been given by God. What’s done is done, and you can’t go back and undo it. And if you feel that because of the mess you made, you really shouldn’t be happy now, then think again.

Our redeeming God doesn’t want you in sackcloth and ashes for the rest of your life. He doesn’t expect you to figuratively wear widow’s weeds forever because of your dark past.

But a word of warning from one who knows: SOME PEOPLE, ESPECIALLY SELF-RIGHTEOUS CHRISTIANS OR THE ONES YOU HURT BY YOUR PAST BEHAVIOR, DO NOT WANT TO SEE YOU HAPPY AND THRIVING. Shocker, huh?

There will be those–yes, Christians primarily–who think you smile too much “after what you did and how you behaved back then!” They want to see you pay the price, be miserable, hurt on and on. I was told by a friend of mine once that a woman I knew from church years ago gets so angry when she sees me in public and I am so full of joy; she thinks I should remain in sorrow for some of my actions of the past.

That is not God’s way. If only she knew how many nights I cried myself to sleep, how many days I wondered if the sun would ever shine again, how many times even now that I hurt with longing to be with my kids when they go to their dad’s house periodically, she might be satisfied with the degree of my pain.

I even overheard a “Christian” the other day on a cell phone, talking to someone who has obviously been done wrong by somebody else. That “counselor” was telling the person not to worry–that the bad person would “get theirs.” Even if they seem to be prospering right now, the “Christian” said, never fear–they’ll get what’s coming to them. The tone was very vindictive.

Yes, unless we repent, we will reap what we sow. But should we as Christians be so vengeful as to wish somebody would “get theirs”? I think not. But this Christian obviously wants someone to pay a heavy price.

If I spent the rest of my life bemoaning the less-than-satisfying way my life turned out and/or the sins I committed, then I would be of no use whatsoever to the Kingdom of God. He has set me free from my past, given me a present that is so full of joy and peace I want to explode, and promised me a glorious future with Him.

I know I’m talking to somebody who is nodding their head right now, saying, “YEAH! I know exactly what she means!” Get back up, shake yourself, commit your future to God and move on. Quit living in the realm of shame, you redeemed person you! Get your smile back. Laugh a little.

About two to three years ago, I realized that I was laughing again. I had not been aware of the fact that I had spent the last few years before that not laughing much at all. And it hit me that my laugh was now totally different. It was louder, full of bubbling joy, frequent. I honestly think I laugh more than anyone I know. I would even startle myself when I would burst into laughter at commissioners’ meetings while covering them for the newspaper when Stanley Smith would say something funny.

And I knew then that God had restored my joy–nay, even doubled it from before those dark winter years. Like the begonia on my deck, I am flourishing, and God’s favor follows me. Life won’t be perfect from here on out in this fallen world, but I have the assurance that my GOD will work ALL things (even bad ones) together for my good (Romans 8:28).

He’ll do the same for you. Hold on to God’s promises–YOUR SPRINGTIME IS COMING!

Embarrassing Christianity

I remember when the word “gay” meant “happy.” (Yes, I’m that old.) But my kids will never be able to use that word in its original definition, because “gay” has come to mean something totally different in our society.

I’m beginning to think that the same thing is happening to the word “Christian.” Merriam-Webster says it means “one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ.”

I guess the key word there is “professes.” I can “profess” to be fluent in six million forms of communication, but that doesn’t make it true (or make me C-3P0, for you “Star Wars” geeks).

You can wear the title of “Christian,” but that doesn’t make you one. There are days I am loath to identify with American Christianity in its current state.

“Why?” you may ask. Because Christians are living more and more like the world? Because Christians are becoming more and more liberal?

Nope. Because the Christians who usually steal the limelight are often arrogant, self-righteous, holier-than-thou and condescending to anyone who doesn’t agree with every single tenet of their beliefs.

I have seen it like never before in the hubbub that surrounds the marriage amendment that is up for a vote on the North Carolina Primary ballot on May 8. This proposed amendment to the NC Constitution reads as follows:

SECTION 1.  Article 14 of the North Carolina Constitution is amended by adding the following new section:

Sec. 6.  Marriage.

Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.  This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.”

The lines have been drawn, and there is ugliness on both sides. I have seen staunch Christians blacklist those who are against the amendment. I’ve seen committed Christians be too intimidated to admit that they might have reservations about the amendment based on their beliefs that there could be a broader than expected legal interpretation of it which could have implications that reach farther than just a man/woman marriage. I’ve seen ugly comments that border on hatred of anyone who would oppose this amendment.

Call me clueless, but I just don’t get it.

As for the proposed amendment, I don’t understand the pros and cons of it enough to argue either side. I know firm Christians who believe the amendment is the will of God, and I know firm Christians who believe that it is not. (Please realize that not supporting the amendment in its present form doesn’t mean that someone supports homosexual marriage.)

To you liberals: don’t be hating on me, but I personally believe that marriage is a man/woman thing, according to God’s original plan for creation in the Garden of Eden and subsequent scriptures. To you conservatives: HOWEVER, I am not fully persuaded on how I will vote on this amendment. AGAIN, don’t suppose that because someone might be undecided or they have chosen to vote “No” that they are proponents of something other than marriage between one man and one woman. (Then again, they might be, although I personally am not.)

But the marriage amendment is not even the real issue here for me. For all of the people who are arguing that if we don’t affirm the man/woman marriage idea by passing amendments such as this one in NC, the door will be open for all kinds of evil to enter our country and that our nation will go down the tubes, let me say this clearly:

I believe that if you stand on your soapbox with arrogance, condescension, mean-spiritedness and anger against your opponents, it is YOUR behavior that opens the door for evil that could ultimately flush America down the toilet.

“For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” James 3:16

Why? Because no one expects someone they consider to be a “sinner” to act right. But EVERYONE expects a “Christian” to act right.

Yet we have it backwards. We’d rather “be right” than “be righteous.” I have a Facebook friend who commented tonight: “I must remind myself daily it is more important for me to act righteous than to make sure others know I am right. Humility is a cloak we all should learn to wear.”

It is more important to be loving to those who oppose us than to argue our rightness with them. Does loving them mean we are weak? That we have caved in to the opposing viewpoint? That we have compromised?

God forbid. Why on earth do we equate “love” with “compromise” or “agreement”? We have made love a weak, pansy-pie emotion when it is the strongest force on earth. Yes, the strongest. It was LOVE that made Jesus Christ shed His all-powerful blood on Calvary. It was LOVE that God breathed into Adam–He breathed into Adam to give him life–His breath is His Spirit–and if God is Spirit and if God is Love, then even His Spirit consists of LOVE.

If I hug a known liar, the Christian world looks at that as if I am embracing lying. If I treat a drug addict kindly, then I must be accepting of his/her lifestyle. Right? WRONG.

Stop making love and compassion for a sinner equal to agreement and compromise with sin. These things are not synonymous.

And by the way, I smile at you and treat you kindly, yet you have your own imperfections and sins. The majority of you would probably embrace me and love me, but I sure have my own set of faults and sins. Because we treat each other with kindness and love does not mean we are saying, “Hey, it’s okay. Go ahead and continue in your impatience, arrogance, gluttony, lack of self-control, hatefulness and general sin.”

NO. We are saying that we love each other DESPITE our imperfections and that we pray that we ALL overcome sin in this world by the power of Jesus Christ.

You want to win the sinner? Well, you sure won’t do it with your arrogance “because YOU have never done what they do.” Or your holier-than-thou snubs of these people “because YOU would never fall the way they did.”

“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” Galatians 6:1

I noticed the word “meekness” there. And the idea that you and I, too, could be tempted.

But Jesus wasn’t always meek, you say. He got angry in the Temple and overturned tables. He called people “whited sepulchers” and “generation of vipers” and “hypocrites.”

Yep, He sure did. But the people He was coming against were the religious snobs of that day. Those ugly labels were pinned on the Pharisees and Saducees–the religious right of Jesus’ time.

I am conservative. I lean toward the right. But do not identify me with those who parade the title of “Christian” complete with arrogance and condescension.

Jesus wasn’t condescending, yet He didn’t condone sin either. “Go and sin no more,” He said. But He handled each of these sinner situations with love. Find me one instance where He was brutal to a sinner. If He had been disrespectful or snobby, the tax collectors and drunkards wouldn’t have wanted Him to break bread with them.

Again, don’t confuse Jesus’ love with tolerance. He did not tolerate sin, but He loved the sinners and treated them with compassion.

And sinners were drawn to Him because of that. And consequently, lives were changed for the better.

It is the same today. Manifesting the love of Christ through the Holy Spirit–even to those with whom we don’t agree or to those who vote opposite of us on the NC Marriage Amendment–is what will change this world, draw the sinner to repentance and help you and me stop sinning, too.

I have determined to love the people on both sides of this debate. And to my many friends who have a strong belief one way or another on this issue yet have managed to demonstrate integrity and kindness in the midst of your strong convictions, thank you. I am so blessed to call you friends. I feel privileged to be identified with you as Christ-followers.

Christ-follower. I like that. Perhaps until the term “Christian” loses its negative implications brought on by the ugliness of some of its more outspoken professors, I would rather be called a disciple of Christ or a Christ-follower or even a Jesus freak–as long as I am more closely identified with Him than with religious spirits.

Let’s stand strong for the right, but let’s be righteous while we do it.

The assurance of salvation

What if. . .

. . .we could live our lives trusting in the unconditional love of God? What a novel concept!

We would know that He loved us no matter what we did. We would experience the ups and downs of life with the blessed assurance that Jesus is there regardless of the situation, that He will never leave or forsake us.

Oh, but wait! That’s “easy grace,” isn’t it? We can’t preach that, can we? Everyone will take advantage of it and do whatever they please because they will know they’re going to Heaven anyway.

Let’s don’t dare preach that, even though the Bible does say we are sealed to the day of redemption.

“And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby YE ARE SEALED unto the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:30

“. . .after that ye believed, YE WERE SEALED with that holy Spirit of promise,” Ephesians 1:13

We preachers will have no control over people to make sure they toe the line if we don’t preach that they can lose their salvation. We’ve got to warn people continually to walk the straight and narrow so that they’ll be so scared of hellfire and damnation that they’ll live right.

Really? Is that what makes people live right?

Could it be (hear me out) that what REALLY makes people live right is “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine”? Could it be that if we could rid ourselves of the “He loves me, He loves me not” mentality (based on how well we’re performing right now), we would actually live better lives because of our intense gratitude and love for Him?

Bible teacher Andrew Wommack wrote an interesting book called Spirit, Soul & Body in which he contemplates the novel concept that if we truly get saved (we’re not talking about walking the aisle and shaking a preacher’s hand or filling out a card at the altar or meaninglessly reciting “The Sinner’s Prayer”–we’re talking about being truly born again), we cannot get unsaved. That if you’re truly born again, you cannot get unborn. That if Jesus redeemed you, He’s not going to unredeem you based on your performance.

If we have to be without sin to be able to enter the pearly gates, then why wasn’t the law enough? Why do we need grace? If we sinned, we could just go to the Temple and make the proper sacrifice and we’d be good to go. There must’ve been a need for something more comprehensive–His amazing grace.

And if I couldn’t live good enough to earn salvation, how in the world am I going to live good enough to keep it?

And if committing sin means I am no longer saved, how much sin does it take? Where is the sin-ometer that tells me when a person has crossed the line, has fallen away, has become unredeemed?

I do believe there is such a thing as apostasy. I believe a person can renounce Jesus Christ and blaspheme. I believe someone can leave Christianity and become an adherent to another religion that does not believe that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, the Life, the Only Door By Which One Can Be Saved. In that case, I believe they cannot go to Heaven.

But then you have to ask: was that person ever truly saved? Maybe they professed a faith in Christianity, the religion, but not Christ, the Savior.

And in the case of apostasy, we’re not talking about just committing sin or backsliding. We’re talking about renouncing all ties to Jesus and refusing to be identified with him. There are many, many backsliders who can tell you that truly God is married to a backslider–that they felt His presence deep in their spirit man even while they were living in outright sin. So if His Spirit is still there, are we saying that these people couldn’t go to Heaven if they died?

Are we saying that a person has to be living a totally stellar life to make it to Heaven if they die suddenly and unexpectedly? As a tree falleth, there will it lie? (And why are we reading Ecclesiastes and quoting a verse about trees to define salvation?) If you get killed in a car wreck and you have something you haven’t repented of, you can’t get to Heaven even though you have been born again?

Hmmm. . .makes it sound as though it’s about works, doesn’t it?

“And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” Romans 11:6

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

Here are 4 of my 5 kids. They sometimes disappoint me. They make me mad occasionally. They have at times sinned against me. But since they are truly my children, nothing they can do can make me love them less. And I gave birth to them; I can't make them unborn.

Am I saying we can live any old way while here on Earth and suffer no penalty? Absolutely not. First of all, even if Wommack is right and your spirit is sealed no matter what you do, if you live in sin you will pay the price in the body realm–perhaps with sickness, premature death, legal prosecution, jail-time, a horrible quality of life. You will also pay the price in the soul (mind, will, emotions, conscience) realm–with torturous thoughts, a guilty conscience, troubled emotions, no true peace or happiness or joy.

So yes, sin carries with it a huge penalty while here on Earth. And if you believe in differentiation of rewards in Heaven, then sin will also carry a penalty there. A friend of mine recently told me about her belief of how we won’t receive as many crowns or rewards if we did not live holy lives. But it doesn’t mean that we won’t be saved.

“If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” 1 Corinthians 3:14-15

A person who has lived not as holy a life by building wrong things upon the foundation of Jesus Christ will suffer loss–that’s certainly punishment. But he can still be saved, according to the Scripture.

I haven't seen my cousin Susie in many years. We don't email, we don't call, we have no communication really. Our relationship has been physically nonexistent for a long time simply because we live far apart and our lives are busy, each of us with 5 kids. But we are still family, born of the same blood. I did not disown her just because our relationship has been lacking. We love each other.

I am convinced that the assurance of the security of eternal salvation will actually make a truly saved person (again, remember that many will say “Lord, Lord” and not enter in because they were never truly born again) live a holier life. The knowledge that Jesus Christ has forgiven us of all sins past, present and future ought to fill us with such a joy and gratitude that we want to do whatever it takes to please Him.

I, who have lived my life under the fearful knowledge that if I don’t perform well as a Christian I will be found wanting on the Judgment Day, have become assured of my salvation for the first time in my life. And it has brought a joy and peace that I have never known before, as well as the desire to live the holiest life possible for the Savior who loved me so.

What if. . .

. . .we accepted the security of our salvation in Christ our Lord and rested in that knowledge without the fear that He will disown us if we are not perfect? What a novel concept!

(More to come about this subject as I discuss my thoughts on “Why repent of sins if we are eternally saved?” “What does it mean you must endure to the end to be saved?” “But can’t He blot out your name from the Book of Life?” I welcome comments because iron sharpens iron, and I believe that challenges to our belief system actually make us stronger. And if we disagree on this subject, please know that I love you all and hope you can still love me.)

Hope you enjoy Chris Tomlin’s song “Amazing Grace”! This video has lovely landscapes in it.

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