Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace
by Toni Weisz/Abuse Recovery
Ephesians 4:29-32 and Numbers 6:24-26

Ephesians 4:29-32
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ forgave you.

In the Moody Handbook of Theology, Paul Enni defines God’s grace as the unmerited or undeserving favor of God to those who are under condemnation. I did not grow up in a home where grace was displayed. I experienced and witnessed harsh judgment for the smallest offenses. As a child, this caused me to be fearful and to hide because I did not want to face this treatment from my parents. I went to a church that was big and dark inside and they spoke in a foreign language. The school associated with this church was very much the same. Students were hit with rulers when they disobeyed. Because I did not see grace and love in these formative places, I began to believe that my faith in God was based upon my good works: if I am good, I will be loved and accepted, but if I disobey, I will be severely punished. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why I didn’t run to God when I was 21, unmarried, and pregnant. I was fearful that He too would judge me harshly and punish me severely.

During my adult life, I once again encountered a harsh church environment. My family and I attended a legalistic church for several years where it was all about following the rules with no room for grace. The Holy Spirit in me was so grieved that I could barely feel or sense His presence. At first, I didn’t recognize it, but I was experiencing spiritual abuse. Even so, I wanted to serve Jesus. If that meant wearing dresses 24/7and obeying ridiculous rules, then that’s what I would do. This spiritual oppression greatly affected my soul and inside I started slowly dying. Unfortunately, my children (who were in high school at the time) were also subjected to this spiritual abuse. I was so grateful when we finally got away from that toxic environment.

Similarly, I have experienced harsh treatment from other ministry leaders as well. In those situations, I felt like I could never do anything right and was always under a microscope. Every little thing I did was magnified and made into a public example. I was so discouraged. Until one day, God brought in a leader who was kind and gentle. She gave me permission to just be me and fostered a safe environment in which I could open up and share about the emotional and spiritual abuse I was experiencing. I trusted her and she truly encouraged me. It was so refreshing to have a leader that was sweet and kind, just like Jesus.

In our ministry, we want each woman to feel safe and know that she can share her story without judgement. We encourage her to use her voice, perhaps for the first time in her life. We want her to see the love of Jesus in our words and our actions. God wants our words to speak hope and life into the lives of the women He brings to our ministry and that is what we will always try to do. God has given us His heart for these courageous women. We are honored to walk alongside them on their healing journeys. You too are welcome here, courageous woman. Come as you are; we are waiting for you.

Closing Thoughts
What is Grace?
Grace is a gift from God; it cannot be earned.

Grace is overlooking someone else’s faults and loving them where they are.

I am so grateful for God’s overwhelming love and grace in my life. This grace compels me to love others, to extend mercy, and to be kind to all people. This grace humbles me when I think about what Jesus did for me on the cross…a gift I can never repay.

Number 6:24-26
“The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.”

 

Reflection Questions:

  1. Do you judge yourself harshly?
  2. Do you judge others harshly?
  3. Have you received God’s grace?
  4. Are you able to extend grace to others?

You are loved,
Toni

 

 

Read more of Toni's blogs HERE!

The Importance of Community

The Importance of Community

The Importance of Community

Ephesians 4:4-6, 11-16, Romans 12:15 and Ephesians 3:17

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

I have noticed over the years, the women who stay connected and accountable in a safe community continue to grow spiritually, they feel safe, they feel deeply connected and they feel loved. These women have huge victories in their lives because they are dedicated to following the Lord and living in community. Each of us has been given a role in the body of Christ by God. We see in the scriptures above that Christ is the Head and each one of us is apart of the body, we are called to do a specific job in the body to keep the body functioning properly.

Why is community so important? You have all heard the saying, “There is safety in numbers.” That is true for your spiritual life also, not just your physical safety. When we stay connected in community, we are protected from the enemy’s fiery darts. His primary goal is to get Christian women isolated so he can lie and torment us. How many of you know what I am talking about? We have all experienced the loneliness and despair that overcomes us when we are isolated. Especially women with abuse and abortions in their past, we are an easy target for the enemy. But after we join a safe group and stay accountable, we are now protected.

It’s not just being apart of a group that protects you, it’s being an active member of the group, serving and participating consistently, not just being an observer. We must invest in the group by sharing our hearts, our tears and our prayer requests. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. (Romans 12:15) This is how the church is supposed to operate.

My hope and pray for each of us is that our faith will grow stronger. That our relationships with one another will grow deeper. That we will be mature strong confident believers in Jesus. That we will not be tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine. That we would have a Biblical world view. That we are rooted and grounded in love and in the Truth. That everything that we do is pleasing to God and that our words will always speak life and encouragement to others. God has so much more for us to accomplish in the upcoming year, but we as a group must be ready and equipped for this season in the ministry. I pray you are encouraged to step up your game and make Jesus and sharing His love your priority in everything you do. I am honored to be serving with you in this ministry. It truly is a beautiful thing to watch God work in and through us.

What are some areas in your life that you are working on?

For me I am working on being forth coming with a certain member of my family regardless of the situation. Secrets give the enemy a strong hold.

I want to hear more specifically from the Lord by taking time to hear from Him and to journal regularly.

I have learned to pray about everything no matter how small.

What is God leading you to do?

I need to keep my focus on God at all times and not to project into the future.

How can we be praying for you?

That I will trust God completely with my children’s health issues.

 

You are loved,

Toni

Read more of Toni's blogs HERE!

Fear of Surrender

Fear of Surrender

Fear of Surrender

November 13, 2021

Fear: Panic flight, causing of fear, terror (Strong’s Greek)

Surrender: Given out or over, surrendered, delivered (Strong’s Greek)

Scriptures

2 Timothy 1:7

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

Psalm 25:20

“Keep my soul, and deliver me; let me not be ashamed, for I put my trust in You.”

Psalm 27:1-14

“1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

2 When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh,

my enemies and foes

They stumbled and fell.

3 Though an army may encamp against me,

my heart shall not fear;

though war may rise against me,

in this I will be confident,

4 One thing I have desired of the Lord,

that will I seek:

That I may dwell in the House of the Lord

All the days of my life,

To behold the beauty of the Lord,

and to inquire in His temple.

5 For in the time of trouble

he shall hide me in His pavilion;

In the secret place of his Tabernacle

He shall hide me;

He shall set me high up on a rock.

6 And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me;

Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy to His Tabernacle;

I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.

7 Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice!

Have mercy also upon me, and answer me.

8 when you said, “Seek My Face,”

My heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek”

9 Do not hide your face from me;

Do not turn your servant away in anger;

You have been my help;

Do not leave me nor forsake me.

Oh God of my salvation.

10 when my father and my mother forsake me,

Then the Lord will take care of me.

11 Teach me your way, O Lord,

And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies.

12 Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries;

For false witnesses have risen against me,

And such as breathe out violence

13 I would have lost heart, unless I had believed

That I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

14 Wait on the Lord;

Be of good courage,

And He shall strengthen your heart;

Wait, I say, on the Lord!

When I say “fear of surrendering,” I’m not talking about our salvation. I’m talking about the things that we still hold onto that prevent us from completely surrendering our lives and will to Jesus.

Why do I still try to control my life, circumstances, and relationships? Why do I rely on myself instead of God?

Fear of surrender says that I believe that my way is better than God’s and that I trust myself more than the Lord to protect me, provide for me, and decide what’s best for me. It says that I am my own god.

When I am focused on my wounds from my past, I am not looking to Christ or to the liberty I now live in as His daughter.

Galatians 5:1 says “Standfast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.”

Surrendering is a daily choice. Instead of surrendering to Jesus, am I running to activities or behaviors that will harm me and hold me back from freedom in Him? If so, what are those things?

Do I run to any detrimental outlets including or similar to the following?

  • Overeating, undereating, or obsessively controlling what I eat
  • Relationships that feed my negativity
  • Gossip
  • Judgment of others and having a critical spirit, which prevent me from recognizing my shortcomings and working on myself
  • Control of people and my environment (e.g., being a hover mother, bossing around spouses or friends)
  • Not trusting God to handle a situation and outcome for a friend or loved one
  • Obsessive cleaning and/or organizing
  • Substance abuse (e.g., of alcohol and/or drugs)
  • Compulsive shopping
  • Failing to take care of myself
  • Overexercising
  • Busyness in the name of God
  • Overworking or being overly career oriented
  • People pleasing instead of God pleasing

The fear of surrender is a demonic spirit to which we give opportunity for entry into our lives by not staying steadfast in our walks with God, not staying in the Word and renewing our minds, running to sin, and not keeping our eyes on Jesus.

Questions

  1. What things or old habits do you still run to that are preventing you from fully living a life surrendered to Christ today?
  2. What do you do to protect your mind and stay focused on the freedom that Christ has given you?
  3. Choose a scripture that you can memorize and speak out loud when you are struggling with surrendering a specific situation to God or ending an old habit. Please share it with the group.
  4. What specific thing can we be praying for you to be delivered from today?

 

God’s Beloved 1 John 3:2

 

My Baby’s Purpose

My Baby’s Purpose

Luci’s blog

Genesis 50:20: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”

II Peter 3:9: “The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

Growing up in my dysfunctional family, which included neglect and sexual, physical, and verbal abuse, did not equip me to care for or respect myself as I grew in the way God intended for me. I spent many years allowing others, especially men, to use and take advantage of me for sexual purposes. By the time I was 15, I was deeply wounded and hurting. My way of coping was to act out in self-destructive ways. As I mentioned earlier, I allowed others to use me. I also drank daily and experimented with most drugs, including mind-altering substances.

I had no hope that anything in my life would improve but that it would just continue to get worse until I died. I was so angry at the way I had been treated by my father and brothers but didn’t understand how to break out of this pattern of destructive behavior.

At the age of 24, I slept with a man whom I hardly knew. In fact, I couldn’t even tell you his name. All I know was that he said all the right things that my heart longed to hear: that he cared for me, really wanted to be with me, and made me feel special, even if it was just for a brief time. He kept insisting that we have sex, and I resisted at first but then gave in when he said he had a vasectomy, since that meant he could not get me pregnant.

I was desperate for this man’s attention but certainly didn’t want to have a baby with him! But like most of the men I opened my life up to, he had lied to me and much to my dismay, I became pregnant. I was devastated and felt a sense of desperation as to how I would “fix” this predicament I was in. Of course, the guy who said he cared so much about me left the scene as soon as he got what he wanted.

I confided in a friend that had introduced me to him. I remember that she had a 9-year-old daughter and no husband, and it was clear that she resented her daughter greatly by the way she treated her. She told me to “Get rid of it; you don’t want a kid!” All I could think about was how I didn’t want to end up like this woman, mistreating my own child! So, against my better judgement and my conscience that told me “NO, this is wrong,” I chose to abort the only child I would ever conceive.

I cried every night when no one was around to see my pain. I cried for myself because of how empty this act made me feel, but mostly for this innocent child whose life I had taken so violently. I cried unconsolably, every night for months. Not knowing my Lord Jesus Christ at that time, I had no one to turn to for forgiveness and healing. As I look back on this desperate act of selfishness, I realize this was the final self-destructive thing that drove me into the arms of God! I just couldn’t live with the emptiness and pain anymore. Nine months after my abortion, I surrendered my life to Jesus, asked forgiveness for my sins, and began to walk in the newness of life that He offers to all who come to Him in humility.

I want to read a section of the letter to the baby I named Gabriella, which means “God is My Strength”:

Although your earthly life was so short, you impacted mine for eternity because precisely nine months after I allowed that abortion clinic to strip you away from my womb, I was born again! And on that amazing day, my heart, soul, and spirit were transformed from darkness and condemnation into the forgiving and precious light of Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit! God took our pain and ashes and turned them into eternal beauty!

I am pouring much of my life into other women who have experienced the pain and grief of abortion by helping them to acknowledge and heal from this event. I love you with all my heart, my precious little one, and I will see you soon!

Your forgiven Mom

 

What purpose did your unborn child serve in your life?

 

Did it move you towards God or away from Him?

 

Additional portions of letters to the unborn:

Beloved, God knows your life was not a mistake. Your life spurred me to a deeper faith and a passion for Christ. God showed me grace, love, and healing in ways that I can’t describe. He used all these things for good (Rom 8:28). Your life allowed me to defend the defenseless, to value life in the womb, and to have compassion for the hurting moms who fell into the same trap as I did. God numbers our days and although yours were few, they continue to fuel my passion.

I, your mother, hold you in my arms today in a way I could not 10 years ago because I feared to look into your eyes and to hear Gods voice speak through the gentle grasp of your fingers saying choose life.” In the light of my mind, I now behold you, my first child—the first of three girls. Do you know that you have two sisters? Do you know that your life has given great meaning to their lives? Because of you, I cherish the very breath of life God has gifted me and those whom I hold close to my heart.

As I embrace you today and always, I let go of shame, guilt, humiliation, rejection, abandonment, pride, and pain. I reject the lies that once kept your memory hidden in darkness far from the light of truth. My love, my beautiful baby girl, you were never forgotten.

Heaven has documented each moment of your existence in the book of life. Now, it is time for me to write your page into the story of my life.

In the years to come, when we find ourselves reunited in the spirit, I will delight in the unfolding of your unique personality woven together with the experience of your brief, yet significant life. For now, sweetheart, I entrust your care and protection to the Father, whose plans for you are greater than either you or I can imagine.

I named you Joseph because what the enemy meant for evil, God turned around for my good and for His glory. He exchanged my ashes into something beautiful. Joseph, you inspired a ministry called My Ashes to Beauty to help other moms heal from their past abortions.

 

Blessings,

Luci

 

 

Familiar Bondage

Familiar Bondage

I would rather go back to what is familiar, even if it is bondage…

Exodus 16:1-4a and John 3:16,

And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of Egypt. And the whole congregation of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness: And the children of Israel said to them, “Oh that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into the wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold I will rain bread from heaven for you….”

When the trials of the children of Israel were too hard for them to bear, they wanted to go back to what was familiar: bondage in Egypt. They wanted to be in control; they felt safe knowing what to expect.

How many of us can relate to wanting to go back to the dysfunctional relationships or sins of our past because there is comfort in knowing what to expect? Change is hard because it’s unfamiliar, and there is no safety or comfort in it. But God doesn’t want us to stay in our dysfunction. He wants us healed. He came to set us free from our bondage to sin. He wants us to trust Him completely with every area of our lives.

God provided the children of Israel with bread that literally dropped out of the sky. He called it Manna, “Bread from Heaven.” If God did that for them, don’t you think He can help you too? I think the answer is Yes!!!

What is the spiritual factor to consider when I want to be in control, instead of God being in control?

I am saying to God, “I don’t trust You. I don’t believe You are good. I don’t believe You care about me.”

So, what is the sin I am committing when I don’t trust God? The sin of unbelief.

Definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1 and 11:6: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Let me ask you, what are you still trying to control and refuse to release into God’s hands?

I learned at a very young age to take control of every area of my life; that, unfortunately, was not a good thing. A 12-year-old is not mature enough to take on such a responsibility. I controlled my voice but I did not use it. I controlled how I performed in school, sports, and in anything I set my mind to do by practicing until I could do something perfectly. When I was older, I controlled my weight by taking speed and diet pills and exercising excessively. I controlled what others perceived about me by wearing a mask to hide my true feelings and identity. It wasn’t until I felt safe to let God in that I was able to relinquish control to Him. By spending time in His Word, I began to understand the heart of God and discovered how much He loves us and wants us to be set free from our pasts, so we can live the abundant lives He came to give us. It’s by relinquishing control to God that we are set free. There is beauty in surrender.

Why are you not trusting God to help you in this area? What are you afraid of?

Relinquishing control was not a comfortable thing for me because I didn’t trust others not to hurt me. I became very self-sufficient and proficient in all I did. I had a huge wall around my heart that no one was going to penetrate, not even God. I grew up with a distorted view of God. I thought He was angry with me and would punish me if I was out of line, which is what I heard and saw as a child. Church was dark; people there spoke in another language, and the atmosphere was not warm and welcoming. So I associated these attributes with God. I felt He was dark, harsh, and unloving, which could not be further from the truth. I was fearful about trusting God because I was afraid of being hurt again. I didn’t know God’s heart toward me. When I got saved in 1994 and came across this verse from John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life,” I started believing that God does love me. And once I received His love into my heart and believed that He died for me on the cross, I started trusting Him more with my heart. But it was a long process. I am so grateful today for His love. That truth changed my life forever.

I had everything under control, so I thought, until my life and health started spiraling out of control. I couldn’t afford stuff anymore and my health was failing, my marriage was on the brink of divorce, and I didn’t know what to do. I was plagued with suicidal thoughts because I just couldn’t deal with my depression and self-loathing anymore, due to the sins from my past. This was not a life; it was a prison. I was just surviving because I needed someone to take my pain away, someone I could trust to love and accept me for who I was. Did such a person exist?

Dear One,

I want you to know that there is such a person who loves and accepts you for who you are. His name is Jesus, and He is the only one who will love you right where you are. He will never hurt you or force you to do something against your will. He is kind, loving, dependable, faithful, merciful, and forgiving. Jesus is your Savior and friend. Why not relinquish control of your life to God? Honestly, what do you have to lose at this point?

You are loved,

Toni

 

What is the spiritual factor to consider when I want to be in control instead of God being in control?

I am saying to God, “I don’t trust You (God). I don’t believe You (He) are good. I don’t believe You care about me.” So, what is the sin I am committing when I don’t trust God? The sin of unbelief.

Definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1 and 11:6: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

 

Read more of Toni's blogs HERE!