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!

The Courage of Mary

The Courage of Mary

The Courage of Mary

Abortion Recovery Women’s Support Group (ARWSG)

Luke1:26–38, 1 John 1:9, Deuteronomy 22:20–21, and Romans 8:28

In the book of Luke, we read about an incredibly brave teenager named Mary. Mary was a common name back then; it meant bitter. The people were bitter because the prophets were silent for 400 years. There was no revelation at all between the Old Testament and the New Testament for all this time. They felt bitter because they thought God had forgotten them and His promise of their Messiah.

We see this incredible dialogue between Mary and the angel Gabriel. He said to her, “Rejoice highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women! Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” He proceeded to tell her she would conceive and bear a Son and shall call His name Jesus. God used this young woman mightily to bring forth the promised Messiah, Emmanuel—God with us. Instead of running from her situation or panicking, she prayed and sought the Lord’s leading. Why didn’t we trust God when we found ourselves with unplanned pregnancies? If you have confessed this sin to Him, He has forgiven you. 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Mary could have been stoned for being pregnant outside of marriage because that was the law back then. Deuteronomy 22:20–21 speaks about the laws pertaining to sexual sins. Not only could Mary have been stoned, but Joseph, her espoused husband, could have walked away from the relationship by writing a bill of divorcement because they were legally betrothed to one another. But God protected Mary from both of these consequences because she had not sinned. She was supernaturally impregnated by the Holy Spirit of God. She was so courageous and brave. She risked her own life and reputation to obey God. What a beautiful testimony we see in her life.

This week will be 41 years since I aborted my son, Joseph, on December 10, 1980. I wish I had the courage like Mary to have my baby, but I allowed the fear of man to push me to abort my baby. I cannot change my past, but I can learn from my mistakes. God used my abortion to bring me into a relationship with Jesus. Now, I have the distinct honor of walking with all of you on your healing journeys. God has certainly taken my ashes, my horrible sins, and turned them into something beautiful for my good and His glory, and you are all a part of that. I believe that God makes all things work together for good to those who love Him, to those who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). God, through the work of the Holy Spirit, is continually sanctifying us and conforming us to the image of Jesus. You all are so precious to Him; I hope you know that.

 

Questions

  1. How long has it been since your past abortion(s)?
  2. Are you still holding onto your secret of abortion(s)?
  3. Have you allowed God access to all your broken places so that He can heal you? If not, trust Him today. He wants you healed and whole so that you can become the woman He created you to be.

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

 

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!