I am not very patriotic, to be honest. I don’t feel comfortable pledging my alliance to a country I don’t believe in. So I don’t. I pray for our President and the leaders of our country, but I don’t make any show of agreeing with them.
There’s a lot to report, because obviously, it’s been way too long since I’ve written a blog post.
The reason I haven’t been blogging is not that I haven’t been writing or that I forgot about the blog–it’s that my spiritual life has been very dry for quite some time. At first I made attempts to commune with God and enjoy the testimonies of my church family, but eventually it became clear that it was not succeeding and that I was not living as God would have me. And so I stopped even trying.
This is a confession of my weakness and low self-will. I was tired of working, tired of trying, and I let life just blow by me. I didn’t fight for joy and peace in God, and I was driven to depression several times. I was tossed about like chaff in the wind.
But that isn’t what this blog post is about. I have very little self-will and self-discipline, and I’m terribly lazy. But now that you know that, you can see what a great god God really is!
Even though I was in a slump, crying because I knew I ought to read the Bible but I didn’t want to, God still brought me around and thrust the Bible in my lap and told me, “Back to the basics. You don’t need long hours of prayer and penitence. You don’t need all your theology straight. You don’t need all the wisdom you want, nor all the growth you want. You don’t even need to feel the passion you want all the time. Just set aside a small part of your day for me, and let me give you the wisdom, growth, and passion.”
Very basic, very simple. I just needed to start like I was saved yesterday. Who knows, maybe I was, though I don’t think that is the case.
After months of not reading the Bible and praying, and weeks of depression and knowing that I’ll never find joy again–I’m finally communing with God! I’m reading the Bible, not to impress my friends with the deep theological implications of it, but just to read what it says, literally, simply, and go back to the basics of being a Christian.
Before this dry season (that’s the best way I can put it) I had been ecstatic about all the Lord had given me, family, church, a job, a home, food, trips to Mexico, not to mention a niece.
After I stopped reading my Bible daily and praying often, I lost all the joy I had. I lost all the thankfulness I had, though I knew in my head that I ought to be thankful.
Now I feel like I have it all back.
I have joy in my future since my confidence in Christ has been proven true one more time. I know that my future belongs to God.
There’s a couple people who have already told me they were praying for me. I’m so blessed. So blessed to have the church family I have, the friends I have. I’m so blessed to have the Lord shaping me one day at a time. He is increasing the time I spend in the Bible daily, and even though I know I’m going to fail again and again, I know that He is faithful and so very good.
People have been praying for me, but I haven’t been praying for them. I want to begin again with the strength God has given me to pray for the people I vowed to pray for, and those who need it. Please let me know how I can help you.
I have noticed in myself an apathy, and it concerns me. I haven’t struggled against sin like I should. I haven’t fought for righteousness and holiness like I ought. I’ve sat back and let sin trample me, throwing me down and around until I have absolutely no choice but to throw it off.
My own lack of passion has concerned me, usually when I am around other Christians who are striving for the life that the Lord would have them live–and I can barely managed to pray every day. Or when my brothers and sisters are convicted of sin–and I haven’t heeded my own convictions that fall like a puddle around my feet. It took me awhile to diagnose the problem. It is disbelief.
A few weeks ago at our church’s family camp, Mr. Tren Groat preached a sermon, linked here. He said in that sermon, “Satan wants you to believe that the sin in your life can’t be defeated.” I felt electricity course through me as I was lightning struck. I thought, “Well then–it can be defeated?” My head answered, “But of course!” Jesus died to rescue us from sin. He overcame death and the grave. God has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of His beloved son!
I realized then that I wasn’t believing what my head was saying, and my head was quoting the Bible. I wasn’t truly believing the gospel, that I have been rescued from sin.
The next evening, Pastor Scott preached a sermon, linked here. It was a beautiful sermon: a beautiful picture of a beautiful person who served the church in a simply beautiful way. I could have melted right there, swallowed in despair and the overwhelming feeling that I will never get there.
I love my church family so badly! I get choked up thinking about all my brothers and sisters in Christ. I want to serve them wholeheartedly, without prideful thoughts, without selfish intent. I want to be the person God has called me to be! But unconsciously I have been telling myself over and over that I will never get there, so why even try?
That question has beaten me up in the past few days. I couldn’t get around it. Why try if I’ll never get there? I know I will always have sin. I will never be able to do anything with a completely pure motive. So why should I try?
This is why I am not passionate. This is why I am despairing. This is why I am unhappy. Because I am not believing God’s promises.
I found the answer Wednesday night.
Why should I fight for righteousness? Because God is worth it, and our relationship to Him only gets sweeter and sweeter from here on out. If we could ever be perfect here on the earth, we wouldn’t experience His strength through our weaknesses like we can now. If we were perfect–there would be no grace. We hunger and thirst for righteousness because that is what brings us closer to God.
So why don’t I fight against sin? Because I don’t believe that I can conquer it. Which is true, but Jesus already did! I don’t have to subject myself to my old master. I’m no longer a child of sin, but a child of God.
Two things have really encouraged me through this battle to believe that the sin in my life is defeated, and I ought to fight against it.
1st, I look at people around me–and they aren’t perfect–but they’re awesome! I want to be like that. And I know that they didn’t get there by giving up. They got there by pursuing God with all their heart, soul, and mind.
2 Timothy 4:7
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
They struggled hard, went through trials, and sought after God as He worked in them to change them into a beautiful person. Those people–and if you know me, I’m probably talking about YOU–are the people that encourage me to love and good works. They inspire me to be more, to struggle farther, to follow after God and allow Him to work in my life. That’s why I need my church family so much! And for all those people–thanks.
2nd, the Bible is full of of admonishments to press on. On the one hand, that shows me that I’m not the only one who struggles with discouragement that leads to apathy.
1 Timothy 6:12
Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
And on the other hand, I know that it can be done and ought to be done.
But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
1 Timothy 6:11
Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.
And that is my battle from the last couple of weeks, believing that I am free from sin. This confession has tried to stay hidden for a long time. I didn’t want to write it. I didn’t want to be held accountable for posting it. I didn’t want people knocking on my door (figuratively) to make sure I was struggling on, fighting the good fight, warding off apathy. But what I have come to see, and what I hope you see, is that I don’t need a chart to make sure I am keeping up, but an encouragement in the promises of God. He promised that He would never leave me or forsake me. And He promised me that I no longer belong to sin, but I belong to Him. And through Him I will overcome the sin in my life.
And now with this freshly strapped to my forehead, I hope to fight on, not out of obligation, but out of a passion to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
I have a great friend, one who is a talented writer, composer, and a great encourager.
For the 11th anniversary of his newsletter St.Louis Amigan Billsey asked if I would write about something that often gets in the way of me and God.
I am greatly honored to be featured in his newsletter. You really ought to take the time to read his article and especially his hymns. :)
To view it, click here. Or copy the link and paste it into your browser: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0Bx5lJdNg2WEYa0JxZ2dxUmtMTEE/edit
I have come up with several story ideas. They are a bit depressing, probably mushy, and will take a lot of research. But I really want some ideas and input. They all have problems.
Here’s the first:
The Main Character is a 23 year old young man wants revenge on his father. Between ages 1-13 his father only showed up randomly when drunk and abused him and his mother. He blames his father for his miserable childhood and all problems since, and for all his mother’s health problems. When he was 13, his father went to prison for 10 years. While in prison his father wrote MC, but MC always burned the letter without opening the envelope. Now his father is being released and he is getting ready to hunt him down and kill him for all he did to him and his mom.
Possible Opposition –
His mother is still alive begging him not to?
His father is fierce and dangerous?
His father is defenseless and harps on MC’s conscience?
His father is now a Christian and begging for forgiveness?
MC becomes a Christian?
Obviously, the problem with this story idea is that I don’t know which way to turn the story. Any help? You can throw out as many ideas as you have. I’d love them.
Here’s the second:
Leny is a 14 year old Mexican girl. Her family, which includes grandfather, aunts, uncles, 2 siblings, and 10 half siblings or cousins, live in three small shacks on the edge of the city. Her older brothers have each grown up to work for the cartel. Her brother Carlos who is 15 will be working for them in just a matter of time. They don’t have much of a choice.
She takes care of the small children and goes to school when she has time. But she has only a few changes of clothes, usually not enough food, her grandfather, father, and uncles get drunk regularly.
How does she get out of this situation?
The problem with this story idea is that while the situation is heart wrenching and gripping, I don’t know how to get her out of it. And even more difficult, how does one get the whole family out of such a situation, especially when this has been going on for generations? The most depressing part of this story is that I’ve met Leny personally, she’s a real girl, and her situation is only one of many like it.
Here’s the third and longest idea:
This idea is actually many combined. It could even be joined with the second story idea.
The MC is a single Mexican mom near the Texas/Mexican border. Her teenaged son has duo-citizenship. For this reason he feels out of place in both countries. There are several cartels in Mexico, some kill and kidnap, some stick to distributing drugs. The son went to the “good” cartel to work for them and get their protection for him and his mom. His mom is kidnapped one evening by the “bad” cartel and questioned about her son’s activities. She knows nothing so is let go. She fights with her son about it, and they determine to leave suddenly and swim the river.
They do. Right now (believe it or not) if you are caught as an illegal alien, you are given a check up, all your shots, food stamps, maybe more—which is more than you get if you come across legally. Then you are released and told to show up for a court date. No one ever does. The system is wack! Obviously, I’ll need to do more research. But anyway, the mom and her son can also get help from a charity organization to make her legal.
2nd part of story: The mom gets training as a nurse and gets a job at a Planned Parenthood clinic. She loves her job and is finally providing for her family.
But her son struggles hard with depression. He can’t fit into the school system very well, and doesn’t have a community or any friends. His mom tries to help him with grades, but it only serves to make him believe her love is highly conditional. His grades improve, but his depression is deep.
Someone finds out his mom is an abortion clinic nurse and tells him about all the horrors of abortion. They spare him no anger or accusation. Again, his depression grows stronger.
Finally he finds out that in order for his mom to counsel women to get an abortion she tells them that she wishes she had had the resources to get an abortion when she wasn’t ready. (Horrifically, such things have been said.)
So he kills himself. :'( See why these are so depressing?
He would probably leave a note explaining to his mom why he killed himself, and also explaining to her the horrors of abortion that have been told him.
She quits her job and becomes a pro-life activist in honor of her son. Through that, she meets a church and finds a real community for the first time in her life. And this is so sad, because her son never lived to find a community, nor acceptance in Christ.
Anyway, what are your thoughts on that story? The thing might be mushy and depressing, but with good research and a lot of work, it can reveal a lot of the problems in Mexico and in abortion that aren’t common knowledge.
So what I want to know is
- Which story would you most likely read and refer?
- And what ideas do you have for that story?
Thank you SO much! If I don’t get help for one of these I might go insane!
This blog was originally made to get feedback from people who took time out of their life to read it. So….do I still have any of those readers? Hmm, good question.
I am getting close to self publishing a short story through Createspace.com. I’m getting closer every day, and I can feel it in my bones. It’s almost ready….almost.
A brief synopsis is on the back of the book cover. The first draft (a lot of editing has been done) was my original profession and explanation of my faith, written right after I was saved in 2010. Right now I am looking for people to review the book and tell me what fine-tuning is left to be done. The story is about 16,000 words long.
If anyone is interested, let me know in the comments and I can send you an email.
Most mornings in Mexico we visited drug and alcohol rehab centers. In the afternoons we visited parks.
All photos taken by Billy and Sarah Jackson