In the Hard Places

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This past week has been hard. Our Women’s Ministry at church has been gearing up for a retreat and we are coming up on it at the end of this month. We are expecting some breakthroughs and some breakouts to happen in a HUGE way. We all feel it. However, with expectancy, we still have an enemy who is fighting in such hard ways and it’s stretching us to our limits. BUT God….

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.  John 10:10

So the enemy has tried to use division – stealing our unity,  killing our spirit, and destroying friendships. Thank GOD for obedient pastors and preachers who when feeling this spirit of division preached the truth in love and brought conviction and healing. THANK GOD!

I can assure you that anytime you or a ministry you are involved in decides to get closer to the Lord, there will be a fight. Just expect it and have your armor on and be ready (Ephesians 6:10-18). But remember this…

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.1 John 4:4

Share your testimony of those times you came through a battle. WE are over-comers when we share!

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.  Revelation 12:11

My prayer is when you find yourself in a battle, you won’t run but you will stand firm in knowing that the One (Jesus) who died for you is constantly fighting for you too! Remember where your strength comes from!

Love y’all!

 

If you are wondering who this Jesus is, click here – He can change your life! If you need prayer click here and leave us a prayer request and myself along with some pretty awesome, Godly women will pray for your situation.

Receiving Grace

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BY LINDZEY YAROSH

Everyone sins. Even Christians. As Christians, we often struggle to accept this fact. We worry about what others will think if they find out about our sin. Will we be called a hypocrite? Will people doubt our salvation? When it comes to our sin, we are often our own worst critic; and we can struggle to receive the grace and forgiveness that God freely gives us through Christ Jesus. Sometimes we even convince ourselves that our sin is too much for God to forgive. For these reasons and more, we as Christians must always be reminded of certain truths.

First of all, God loves us a lot! Christians are very familiar with John 3:16 and know that God loves us so much that He sent His one and only Son to die for our sins so that we can have eternal life with Him. But do we always remember what this really means? Romans 5:8-9 explains it this way,

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!”

Even when we wanted absolutely nothing to do with God, Christ died for us. How amazing! The moment we believe this and choose to follow Jesus as King, God declares us righteous and adopts us into His family. Chuck Swindoll describes it like this, “Justification is the sovereign act of God whereby He declares righteous the believing sinner while he or she is still in a sinning state.”

Because Christ paid our sin debt and because God counts us as righteous when we follow Christ as Lord and Savior, we are no longer held responsible to receive the punishment of our sins and have no reason to be afraid.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” Romans 8:1

We can trust that this is true, even when we fail, and we will fail. Proverbs 24:16 confirms this.

“For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again.”

Thankfully, God doesn’t leave us alone when we do fail; instead, He is there to guide us and to help us through. Psalm 37:23-24 says,

“The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with His hand.”

So today, if you are struggling to receive God’s gift of forgiveness, remember the truth of 1 John 1:9.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Take a moment to confess your sin to Him today and confidently receive His gift of grace and mercy. Then continue to live the life Christ has called you to live.

Lindzey attends Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, KY with her husband, Billy, to whom she has been married for 5 years. She is currently working toward a Graduate Certificate at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In her spare time she enjoys relaxing with her husband, cat, and Goldendoodle, hiking, crafting and watching Kentucky basketball.

 

If you need prayer, we have some Godly women at the ready to pray for you. Click here to leave a prayer request. If you are wondering what Christianity is all about and if it’s for you, click here.

I Was Here…Saying a long goodbye to a dear friend

Rick Elias

BY CRAIG DALIESSIO

This is a hard week. It’s been a hard few months, bookended within a hard year. Just hard. I turn fifty-five this week. It’s been hard for me. It’s not the number…it’s the regrets.

I hate my birthday. I think I always have. There are reasons why and I won’t go into them here. But by the time I was thirty, I stopped celebrating my birthday at all. I just chose to go to work or school and act like it was just another day, until it finally became just another day.

But this week is hard. Harder than usual. In the midst of my usual self-assessment and subsequent sadness over all that should have been, might have been, and probably never will be, I’m also now forced to begin the grieving process for one of the dearest friends I have ever had.

My friend Rick has terminal cancer. I can’t even look at the words as I type them. I can’t accept this and I can’t believe it. Rick has been my friend for almost thirty years now. He was a Christian musician and I began as just a fan, met him almost by accident, and we became friends. I am the oldest in my family, so I never had a big brother. But I had Rick.

I am watching him fight bravely. Fight the disease and fight the prognosis, and fight the sadness and the unrelenting assault of the illness. Cancer doesn’t have a game plan. It has no time limits. It can move slowly or invade like a lightning strike. It doesn’t care. It’s just a bunch of unfeeling cells with only one thing programmed into its code.

My friend is doing his best to refuse surrender. He will find ways to make me laugh when I call. He’ll joke about his plight. He’s good at this…good enough that I can’t tell if he’s just being brave for everyone else, or if he’s really this hopeful. Like maybe he knows something we don’t. Like they found a cure and it’s being rolled out thirteen days from now and he is number three on the list and everything is secretly going to be just fine. Like he’s just holding this card close to his chest until a day or so beforehand and then he’ll tell us all, and we’ll go have dinner together and celebrate.

I know none of this is true but Rick’s humor and ease makes me wish, and believe just a little. I’m in denial. I know it. But I can’t bring myself to accepting this. I can’t grasp a world without Rick Elias and the music, and the conversations, and the Christmas Party, and the Superbowl commentary. (Rick’s father-in-law was an NFL coach and his wife can take over a football viewing party like no other woman)

There is a certain self-satisfaction with being a fan of someone who exists slightly on the outside of a genre. It’s like a badge of honor that tells the world that your tastes are a little more discriminating. My musical tastes were always this way. My record collection was, for the most part, made up of names you know, but you don’t know any of their stuff. I reveled in converting my friends to the sounds of Southside Johnny, Little Steven, Willy Deville…and Rick Elias.

Usually, the first response was “That’s Christian music? That’s way too good to be Christian music.” And it was. It was because, for the last twenty years or so, especially since the plague of “praise and worship” took over everything on the airwaves, Christian music has been horrible. Horrible like “I’d rather hear the “Brady Kids” singing” horrible. The last record I cared about was Rick’s “Job” album and before that, “The Jesus Record” which was Rich Mullins’ posthumous masterpiece. I stopped listening to the genre…then I stopped caring about it. That’s sad. And that’s why we needed Rick in the first place.

This is weighing on me as I have dealt with this terrible illness that my friend has and with the inevitable goodbye, and with the gaping hole in my heart, and with the snapshots of all the moments we’ve shared. I can’t stop the movie that plays in my soul, and I don’t want to. But sometimes watching it hurts even more.

Three weeks ago I wrote him a letter. I debated sending it because I was afraid it was sounding like I was eulogizing my friend before he was gone. Like I was giving up. But I wanted…I desperately needed, to know that he heard my words sooner, not later. I wanted to be certain that he knew I loved him. That I was honored by his friendship. That I bore witness to this life of his. That someone stood up and said “I see you.” That he knew that others knew he was here.

That’s really the point of this piece today. Because Rick is facing something that ultimately we all face, and for me it has only served to emphasize the internal wrestling I’ve been experiencing for over a year now. I’m getting older. Certainly not old, but I’m older. And I wonder, as fifty-five approaches in a few days, did anyone know I was here?My daughter knows, of course. A few of my friends I suppose. But otherwise I wonder about the value of the life I’ve led so far. If I was somehow undone from history, what would the world look like?

I’ve walked most of this walk of mine alone. That’s simply a fact. I didn’t grow up in a home where I was valued very much and I learned early on to just make my own way. That’s great for survival, but in the long term, it doesn’t lend itself to the feeling that somehow, someone in the crowd of six billion humans saw you. I’m questioning this now as I turn fifty-five, and as my friend faces eternity. Who saw me? Who saw Rick?

I wrote him that long letter and sent it last week, after a few days of debating it in my heart. I hoped he would understand what I was saying, and what I was not. I wanted him to know that I saw him. That I see the footprints of his life and his work and some of those prints are on the sacred ground of my own heart. I saw the man he is and the dad he is and the husband he is and the Christian he is. I’ve seen the good and the bad and the in-between. And I stand as a witness to a life well lived. A job well done. A body of work that is superior to many who have achieved more fame, on far less talent.

He’s been my friend. My friend when I was flying high and when I crashed on his couch. My friend when we disagreed, sometimes vehemently, and my friend when we were in complete unity. He read my writing and laughed at my jokes. He’d send me an email with a new song inside. “Don’t share this yet, but what do you think?” or he’d call me and ask me to come over and just hang out, because he knew I was a new divorcee, and I was his friend, and his friend was hurting.

I am angry with myself that I have not learned this lesson already by now. This lesson of telling people you love them while there is plenty of time for them to accept it, and process it, and live in the truth of it, and let it inspire them. Rick and I –thankfully—kept short accounts. Twice I remember us disagreeing so passionately that we stopped speaking. In both cases the silence ended fairly soon and we were sorry it happened at all.

My friend’s life and death battle has taught me, reminded me really, that nothing is forever and nothing should be taken for granted. If you love someone…tell them. Whether you love them as a friend or romantically or whatever, tell them. Tell them what they’ve meant to you, and why. Tell them how bland and boring life would be without them. Tell them what they’ve added to your life. Give examples. Remember moments. Thank them for making your life better. Hold on tightly. Laugh at yourselves. Tell them you love them. Make sure they know. Make sure they know how invaluable their life was to yours. How flavorless your banquet would have been without the dish they brought. Go ahead and cry. It’s in those tears, and in that brokenness that the love you hold for them can escape the bonds of safety and propriety, and you can feel it in all its depth.

Say it. Go ahead and SAY IT! I love you, my dear friend. You have meant more to me than all these words of mine can ever express. You have brought me laughter, tears, joy, depth, anger, connection, hope, despair, a glimpse of the Holy, the faint scent of the profane, and the soft flutter of the occasional angel wing. The steps we took together covered more ground than all my steps alone ever could.

Hold nothing back. Because ultimately, in this crowded world of six billion people, it’s hard to be seen. Hard to be recognized. Hard to feel that someone, anyone, can pick your face out of the maddening crowd.

Friends are that for each other. The witness to the life each other has led and the chronicler of the victories and defeats and the ground gain and lost. I am determined, more than ever now, to not let even one of my friends go through this life without them hearing me tell them I love them. And why. And what that love has done in this hard heart of mine.

Maybe in that way, this long goodbye I am saying to my dear friend Rick, will have meaning and purpose that extends beyond his life, and into the concentric circles where his life and mine have overlapped.

That, and the wonderful music he has bestowed on us all, will keep him fresh in my heart, painful as it will be, until I see him again.
Tell them you love them…

* If you would like to help my friend Rick and his family please consider giving here:
Go Fund Me for Rick Elias

Reblogged from craigdaliessio.blogspot.com

Video Friday – Lean In

I have had the phrase, “Lean in” going off in my brain for a few days now. I was reminded of this because a friend of mine has been having some difficulty in her life  and it reminded me of times when I had difficulty. Our circumstances are a little different but the way we need to go about them is the same – Lean into Jesus!

This has been a difficult lesson for me to learn (and I’m still learning it) because I’m a runner. When things get bad and there isn’t anything I can do to fix it, I take off. After all my thought was, “if I can’t fix it, what is the use.” But God wants us to LEAN IN when these things happen. I’ve been practicing this along with WAITING on the Lord for an answer (whew is that a hard one!).

This video is short but it is EXACTLY what I discovered the hard way and I want to share with you in hopes you won’t go through the tough times I went through as a result of not leaning in. Enjoy!

Video Friday – Greater love hath no man than this…

Lately God has had me look at suffering – what it means to suffer, where He is in the suffering, and why He allows suffering. Believe it or not, it has been a joyous unpacking of this subject. It has made me truly understand how God sees me and who He is.

I know I’ve kind of been stuck the past couple Friday’s with “The Chat with Priscilla” but she has such great guests and such relevant topics that I can’t help but share. Get a tissue, and glean from these videos what you might need in these moments in your life.

 

For Your Good and God’s Glory

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Photo by Amar Yashlaha

Like myself, I’m sure all of you have had times when you are in a deep valley and you wonder if you are ever going to get out. I know that in the times I was there, it felt as if my prayers went nowhere; like I was in the valley of DRY bones. If you have found yourself at this moment – HANG ON – God is certainly in control.

I can not count on my fingers and toes how many times I’ve heard, “Satan is attacking.” And don’t get me wrong, it’s true. In those dark moments when it seems like nothing is going right and you are sitting with all this concern and worry in your head, Satan certainly is attacking. But here is an idea – God is allowing Satan to do what He is doing. God is allowing Him to only go so far with you (a Job-like experience).

Does this mean God doesn’t love you? NO of course not! Rather, God loves you enough to put you in situations where you can grow. While we are on the mountaintop and everything is going good, although it’s a reprieve from the wiles of the Devil, there isn’t much spiritual growth that happens there. The growth comes in the valley. It comes in those times when all we have is Jesus. Let’s look at what Jesus said to Peter:

And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.  Luke 22:31-32

He said, “…and when though art converted, strengthen the brethren.” We are to take these dark valley moments and turn them into a testimony and teachable moments for others. We are supposed to use them to strengthen others. EVERYTHING we are given is for OUR GOOD and for GODS GLORY! How can we ever help others when we have no idea what it is like to be in their shoes.

One of the sayings I try never to say (although it pops out of my mouth from time to time) is, “If it were me, I would do ______(fill in the blank).” The truth is, we never really know what we would do in any given situation unless we’ve been there.

Look at the times in your life – those dark valley moments and glean from it what you can and use that testimony to strengthen that brother or sister going through a hard time. Let them know you know how they feel and how you held on to the hand of Jesus throughout. Use it! Use your experiences to do what Jesus told Peter to do; strengthen the brethren.

If you have a prayer request, we would love for you to share it with us. We have a bunch of Godly women who would love the chance to pray for you. Click here to make your request. If you don’t know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior but want to know how He can change your life, click here.