My Identity in Christ (Part 1)

My Identity in Christ (Part 1)

2 Cor 5:17 “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he (she) is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

John 15:15 “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”

When I was a little girl, I remember having an overall sense of happiness and freedom to be a child. But as I grew older and began to develop the awareness of my identity within my family unit and became the victim of verbal and physical abuse, my perspective on who I was began to change.

In my mind’s eye, I was ugly, stupid, and overall, a pathetic girl that no one loved or wanted to be with. I can remember my father saying over and over, “Why can’t you be like your brother or why can’t you be like your sister?” He was referring to the older siblings that had gone on and became successful, in his eyes. Out of his frustration and unchecked anger, he lashed out and made us feel unwanted as he put us down by abusing us verbally. My mother was a quiet, submissive woman with multiple (total of 15) kids to care for. She wasn’t involved in our lives except to care for our physical needs. And the brothers that were still in the home, treated me with great contempt and regularly beat up on me. At age 11, I was being molested by two of my older brothers and by the age of 12, I lost my virginity to a drug-addicted man that was 14 years older, who lived in the neighborhood. He literally took advantage of my desperate need for love and affection and convinced me to cooperate with his selfish intentions. I told no one as I thought they would blame me; I believed in my young heart that it was my fault.

I felt like such a failure, that by the time I was a young teen, I began to medicate with wine and beer, and at one point, I felt so hopeless, I attempted to take my own life! Obviously, I wasn’t successful, but at the time, I believed that I was a failure even at that! I not only felt unworthy to be loved but I also felt dirty and had a great sense of shame that covered me like a thick cloud.

As I grew into my teens, I continued to abuse alcohol, adding hard liquor and was introduced to all sorts or illegal drugs, which I experimented with daily. I lived a destructive life of substance abuse and promiscuity. And at age 24, I committed what I thought was the unforgivable offense by having an abortion, essentially ending the life of what would turn out to be my only biological child. This event plunged me deeper into a sense of self-loathing and emptiness that I had yet to experience. By the time I was 25, my sense of self-worth was in the pit; I had no hope and no purpose for my future.

Then it happened! The Lord Jesus, who had been pursuing me for years through the witness of other Christ followers, opened my eyes to His amazing acceptance, love and mercy for me. And I can remember the sense of hope and love that flowed through me like a rushing river! It was incredible! My self-perspective changed that day. I dared to believe that I could be something more than I had settled into. And I embarked on a lifelong mission to get to know the God who would be willing to die for me, a pathetic, sinful, ugly and stupid girl. It took years of Bible reading, support from other believers in Jesus and some Biblical counseling, for me to accept my new identity as I embraced 2 Corinthians 5:17, which tells us, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he (she) is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

Today, after walking with the Lord for over 37 years, having His amazing Holy Spirit living in me, I embrace the truth that I am God’s precious daughter, loved and cherished beyond my wildest dreams! He has given me dignity, self-worth and a future hope. I no longer condemn myself because according to Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” I no longer accept the attempt of others to manipulate or put me down. I have come to understand that I can have boundaries and stay in control, by the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Blessings,

Luci

The Holy Spirit—My Guide & Friend

The Holy Spirit—My Guide & Friend

We receive this peace through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

If we have given our lives over to Jesus and are following Him we have the very spirit of Jesus Christ living in us! He is always present, interceding and guiding us into truth and peace, in and out of the storm.

What is His purpose? It is that you will live with peace and joy in your heart, knowing that He loves you and nothing will come between you and Him, no matter the situation. It is that you will be made righteous, that you may display the gifts of His Spirit and show Him to a dying world.

Prayer is always God’s plan to connect us to Him but now more than ever, we need to be praying earnestly for God to draw us to Himself and praying about all that’s happening around us.

We have access to the very Spirit of Christ in His Holy Spirit who will intercede for us when we don’t know what to ask for!

~ Romans 8:26-28

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because[ the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

“Our prayers are not always answered by a specific action. Sometimes our prayers are answered with a shift in our attitude or in our emotions. After prayers we may find that confidence has replaced our fear, contentment has replaced our desire, hope has replaced our despair, comfort has replaced our grief, patience has replaced our frustration, joy has replaced our spirit of heaviness and love has replaced our anger. I know many of us are shaken by the events in the past few weeks so, let’s look at Isaiah and see how he coped:

When Isaiah’s life was shaken, he responded by looking up. As a result, he had a fresh vision of the Lord. This is the time to look up…from our knees! Let’s ask God to give us a fresh vision of Himself. Because, God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear… since He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust. Surely he will save you from…the deadly pestilence…You will not fear the terror of night…nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you…” Anne Graham Lotz

Fear vs Faith

Fear vs Faith

John 16:33, John 14:27, and 2nd Timothy 1:7

When I was a little girl, I feared so much in my life, especially in my home where I should have felt safe. I can remember fear always being with me. At a very young age, while laying in my crib my older brother would come in and silently hover over my face, to frighten me. For years he tormented me in so many ways, including sexual molestation when I was an adolescent but no one came to my rescue. My parents were mostly present but unaware; they were not able to care for us individually since there were so many of us; I had 14 brothers & sisters. They were busy working, training us to do household chores, taking care of the home and keeping us afloat. My mom was not a communicator and didn’t engage in individual conversation with us. And my father was a very angry man who took his frustration out on us kids, so in fear I hid from him when he came home from work. But that was not always an option.

Over the years, I learned that if others saw my fear, they would take advantage of and sometimes prey on me. Eventually I learned to mask my fear with a false persona of self-confidence to prevent anyone from getting too close and hurting me emotionally. I worked really hard to provide for myself and created a perception that I could overcome any threat that came into my life; I was convinced, I could protect myself. This worked as long as I was able to control my environment. But that is not reality. We know there are many situations we can’t control, including our relationships with others!

Into my early teens my life spiraled out of control with promiscuity, broken relationships, drug and alcohol abuse until I came to the point that I lost what sliver of hope I had and felt an overwhelming sense of despair. Fear ruled my thoughts and no matter how hard I tried to bury it; it was always present in my heart. I continued on this destructive path, trying to bury the pain, until one day I found myself pregnant and this situation stopped me in my tracks! I feared that my lifestyle would be exposed, I was ashamed and feared what others would think of me. I was single, in my 20’s and didn’t really know the father, so I had an abortion. That is when I found myself unable to cope with my decisions, especially the one that took the life of my child. This choice brought me to a point of extreme crisis. I couldn’t move past this decision which was always in my thoughts and defined who I had become.

During the time span of my disfunction, from the age of 14, I can remember followers of Jesus telling me about Him, but I was afraid of getting involved in what I thought was the rigid religion I grew up in that had nothing to offer me except judgement. For 11 years Jesus sought me out and one day, ironically, 9 months after my abortion, He opened my eyes to see His truth and, on that day, I asked forgiveness for all my sins and invited Him to be my Lord and Savior. As I began to walk with Him and explore the bible, I read that He would care for me and that I could exchange my fear for faith in Him, and in His promises!

As a new Christian, just learning about the ways of God and who I was in Him, I continued to operate out of fear. But over time, I came to understand that fear and faith cannot co-exist. One will always negate the other. This was a life changing truth for me!

For the past two or so weeks we’ve been listening to the world and experts tell us to, “Be afraid, fear for our health, the health of our family members, the economy, losing our jobs, not having enough to sustain us, to avoid all social contact, that things are going to get much worse, that there is a silent killer among us!”

The government entities have closed down the parks, schools, restaurants, businesses and more. The stock market is plummeting and the world is reacting in panic, wondering what the future holds for them and their children. Many are selfishly hoarding goods in the event they have to be quarantined. There is uncertainty all around us. While I’m very aware of what’s happening and that we have good cause to experience this fear and concern, I want to share 2 perspectives that I hope will help us put things into perspective.

And I heard Satan Say, “I will cause anxiety, fear and panic. I will shut down business, schools, places of worship, and sports events. I will cause economic turmoil. I will isolate them so I can more easily attack and cause great fear, so they will lose all hope.”

Then, Jesus said: “I will bring together neighbors, restore the family unit, I will bring dinner back to the kitchen table, I will help people slow down and appreciate what really matters. I will teach my children to rest and rely upon me and not the world, their money, or possessions. I will provide for all their needs.”

What are you fearful of?

How do you respond when you cannot control your environment?

The Lord has given us His Word to show us how we can be encouraged through difficult times and not to react in fear.

We read in John 16:33, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you; not as the world gives do, I give to you. let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

2 Tim 1:7, “For God gave us not a spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-control.”

 

In Christ’s love,

Luci

Read more of Luci’s blog posts here!

Sanctity for Human Life

Sanctity for Human Life

As I write this, it is the 47th anniversary of Roe vs Wade when the US Supreme Court decided abortion will be “legal” in all 50 states.

Churches all across America recognize this 3rd Sunday in January each year, as Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. It is a day when we as believers, thank God for the gift of life, we remember those who have died as a result of abortion, and we commit ourselves to protect the unborn.

To give you an idea of where we are, here are some statistics:

From 1973 to 2017 more than 60 million lives have been lost to abortion.

Every year, an estimated one million abortions are performed in the US.

As many as 2,500 unborn babies lose their lives in abortions every day.

4 out of 10 women who choose abortion identify as Christians and are attending church at least once a month. The sad truth is, many of us have been affected by what has been promoted as a quick fix to an inconvenience. Some of us have personal experience, some have a family member or know someone who has had an abortion.

But we have been lied to by the enemy of our souls. In John 10:10, Jesus says, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” And the enemy has been involved in the killing of God’s children since the beginning of time.

Some of you may have hearts that are burdened with sins from your past. For some sins, it is harder for us to receive the forgiveness Christ offers than for others. Especially those sins committed against the body. Sexual sin and abortion are difficult to share and receive healing for because they touch us so deeply and there is great shame and stigma attached to them.

I am passionate about this because it has affected me personally. And I suffered so much for my choice! I was alone and afraid; I had no one in my young life that could speak truth to me. I was fed the lie that it wasn’t a baby and that I would be better off without it. For many months after the procedure, I was deeply depressed and felt empty inside over my decision; I cried every night. After being witnessed to over and over, I turned to the Lord Jesus for forgiveness because the burden was too heavy. He turned my life around and immediately forgave me. But I had to work through a lot of emotional struggles. I look back on that time and since the Lord showed me His forgiveness, over time I learned to let go of the guilt and shame I was holding on to and receive healing from the Lord through His Word and other believers.

The Lord exposed me to some compassionate and amazing Christians who were involved in the pro-life movement. And they helped me work through the fallout and heal to the point that I was able to minister to other hurting women who were alone in their secret suffering. It was a great relief to get rid of the burden of myself hate!

And the cross is open to all; the Lord receives all that ask for His forgiveness. There is healing available for grieving hearts that regret their involvement in abortion. It is not the unforgivable sin. Our Savior went to the cross for all sins.

When our hearts are surrendered to Jesus, we make better choices for ourselves and others. And there is support and protection in the body of Christ. But there are people out there who don’t know this yet. It’s up to us to share Christ love and truth with the those He brings into our lives and our church.

As we often say, the courts can make abortion illegal but only God through his church can make it unthinkable. The good news is, the abortion rate is declining but there are still so many we can reach out to with God’s love and healing!

—Luci

Read more of Luci’s blog posts here!

 

Gifts from God & Giving Gifts with Purpose

Gifts from God & Giving Gifts with Purpose

It’s that time of year that we are thinking about giving and receiving gifts. And today I want to share my heart on the topic as well as share some spiritual insight.

When I was a child, we had very little by way of gifts as my parents couldn’t afford much with 15 children. I don’t know how but they always managed to give us one or two gifts a piece. They would get us one toy and an item of clothing which we cherished because most of what we had were hand me downs.

But I really wasn’t longing for material gifts; Instinctively I longed for the gifts that come from the healthy kind of love a child would expect from her parents, like affection, healthy interaction, guidance, acceptance, and encouragement to become the best I could be. I had a deep longing to feel safe and cherished.

As I grew into my adolescence, I discovered that needless material possessions, dysfunctional relationships and substance abuse could temporarily substitute for those things that I lacked and truly longed for. It wasn’t my intent but I set out on a self-destructive path which caused me to establish unhealthy patterns and relationships. When I did receive a material gift with a personal touch, it gave me a great sense of belonging and worth. For example, at 13, on a rare occasion, while my oldest brother was home to visit, he took me shopping and bought me a new outfit. I felt so loved! But it wasn’t the actual gift that moved me, it was the fact that he took time out, saw a need in me and made me feel so special!

As I grew into my 20’s, the Lord opened my eyes to Him and having tried to live life my way which was causing great pain and broken relationships, I surrendered to Him, not knowing all that it involved, jumped in and simply believed He loved me and that my life would be better. I was in for a wonderful surprise in how my life improved!

As God began to pour into me and bless me with all the good gifts, he has for us, I had an overwhelming desire to pour His blessings back out. And over the years, I’ve been fortunate to have opportunities to give so much to others. And others have been so generous to me in the giving of gifts.

I’ve always had lots of fun choosing the “perfect” thing for each person I was giving to. It’s so much fun for me to see their delighted response to what they receive. According to Acts 20:35 “it is more blessed to give than receive.” I have found it to be true in my life. But then I had to learn that receiving gifts with humility and thanks is just as important because the giver receives a blessing as well as the recipient. I also discovered that I didn’t have to spend much $ to give the most meaningful gifts!

So, as times passes, my perspective on giving gifts has changed. And, more often, I’m giving with the desire to move others closer to the heart of God. Because that is the gift that will be the most meaningful and have eternal benefits.

As an example of giving with meaning, when a dear friend’s husband suddenly died of a heart attack while the two of them were entering the church one Sunday morning, I made a mix of worship songs for her because she loved music that praises the Lord. It didn’t cost very much but it helped her focus on Jesus, during a time of great struggle.

As I consider how we give and receive gifts, it got me wondering how God gives gifts and for what purpose. And what we can learn from His ways. As I researched and prayed, the Holy Spirit showed me just how much He does give and the wonderful ways it works in our lives.

So, here are some of the many gifts God gives us:

Protection: Before I even knew Jesus, He kept me safe in my disfunction and very bad life decisions. So many times, I could have died or fallen so deep into my sin that I would not have found my way out on my own. I remember one time while hitch hiking to the laundry mat from my apt. I was picked up by a guy who dropped me off where I asked him to but as I was getting out of the car, he hit me over the head with a heavy object. It hurt so bad but didn’t knock me unconscious. As I got out of the car rubbing my head, he was racing down the road with the passenger door still open. I can only imagine what his intentions were! I believe the Holy Spirit was there protecting me. I am so thankful!

Provision: Before I knew Jesus, He was providing for me and meeting my material needs, for many years.

Revelation: He reveals himself to each of us uniquely, speaking to us and meeting us where we are in our lives. Being from a very large family, I’m especially thankful that He treats me special, as if I were His only child! Can you relate to this?

Forgiveness: He forgave all my offenses from my past, present and future and I chose to repent and turn from them. But even when I went back to some sinful habits, He never abandoned me. He is always available to help me sort out my mess when I come to Him.

Guidance: I’ve prayed for direction so many times when I didn’t know which way to turn or what choice was best and He guided me!

Favor & Salvation: When Jesus saved me, I felt as if I was unworthy of any love or acceptance but He adopted me and taught me the meaning of unconditional love and acceptance. His gift of salvation is irrevocable if we truly repent and surrender our hearts to Him.

We read in Romans 8:32 that “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” God loves us so much! He wants to shower us with gifts and blessing in this life and the one to come!

His Word: It gives me hope and helps me understand my connection to Him and what He expects of me

Prayer: This is one of the main ways we connect with our Lord. It is a gift He gives so we can communicate our hearts to Him.

Our Role: Being used of God to fulfill His eternal plan at this time in history. God’s timing is perfect and we were chosen for such a time as this! How incredible is it that God allows us to be part of His plan?

His Holy Spirit: In Acts 2:38 we read, “And Peter said to them, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” This is Jesus in me! One of the gifts I am most thankful for! He is my constant companion.

So, what gifts can we give to the Lord; what does He desire?

God wants us to trust in His Son as Savior and Lord.

He wants us to “become conformed to the image of His Son.

He delights in our praises to Him.

He desires for us to spend time with Him.

He calls us to love one another and serve Him with humility.

The gifts God desires from us have the distinct purpose of making us righteous, in good relationship to Him and loving one another. If you notice, it’s all about relationship with Him and the body of Christ. It’s never about performing works for the sake of that alone.

God is loving and gracious, always wants what is best for us. Let’s praise Him together during this most beautiful time of year.

In Christ’s love,

Luci

Read more of Luci’s blog posts here!

Angel of Light (Part 2)

Angel of Light (Part 2)

In part one of this story, I left off when I threw the man out, I will call “abuser” that had been living with me, who I was allowing to ruin my testimony, my peace of mind and keeping me from a relationship with the Lord. I had discovered that you cannot serve Jesus and the devil or another way to put it is, ungodly/sinful desires, at the same time.

He had threatened me as I told him to leave so I worried that he would retaliate, having seen him do it to others who crossed him. But I had turned a corner and began to trust in the Lord again so I was resolved. Although I knew I had done the right thing, I was so unsure of my future. And in spite of feeling so broken and vulnerable, I trusted the Lord and moved towards Him. I asked for forgiveness for leaving the path He had so firmly planted me on and asked him to restore me to Himself.

Through the tears and the shame, I began my journey back to my Lord, one step, one day at a time. I began attending church again and as I sat in the services, I felt numb and unable to respond. I just took it all in and allowed the Lord to begin the healing process on my heart, mind and my sick body. I got back into the bible and read everyday and slowly returned to fellowship with other believers which was so good for me! It took five plus years to be restored to the closeness that I once had with the Lord and to feel confident in my role as His child.

I still had a deep longing to be married but this time I was leaving it up to the Lord. I learned that I could not make it happen on my own, not the way God would have it for me! I knew I wanted to be with a devoted follower of Christ, a man who would put Jesus first in all things and cherish me the way God intended.

After a couple of years no men of this caliber had come into my life so, I assumed that the Lord intended for me to be single. And shortly after I accepted this and began to settle on the idea that God would use me in my singleness, He sent me a godly, ethical, gracious man who would eventually become my husband! The way we met could only have come from the Lord! We lived in different countries and found one another on a

Christian dating website. So after 42 years, I married my soul mate. It has been 17 wonderful years that we’ve been together. He is perfect for me!

If you ask me, would I want to go through that horrible relationship with the abuser again to get where I am today, I would say NO. But having experienced it, I can appreciate how God provides and does it so much better than we can imagine! Praise Him for His faithfulness!

In Christ’s love,

Luci

Read more of Luci’s blog posts here!