Australia Ministry Trip (Sept 26-November 10, 2017)

Australia Ministry Trip (Sept 26-November 10, 2017)
From September 26 to November 10, 2017, my husband, daughter and I will be on a ministry trip in Australia and New Zealand. The places we will be visiting are shown on the map above - along with the dates in which we'll be in these places (and what we'll be doing while there). Please keep this ministry trip and all of us in your prayers! Blogs will appear daily throughout this time, as I have written them and scheduled them in advance. I welcome your comments - and enjoy them! Just know I will not have Internet access for much of this time. So, I will look forward to reading your responses upon my return. Thank you for your understanding! And please keep reading to complete the "Reading the Bible in a Year" challenge and blessing! I am very grateful to Claire for her faithful blog comments (please everyone - join her in sharing each day as a discussion blesses everyone so much more!) And I am thankful that Claire has graciously agreed to add a bit more into her daily comments during my time of absence. Please direct special comments or questions which require immediate responses to her (on this blog). Blessings as you continue your journey through God's Word this year!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Heaven's Arsenal - Part 7

Heaven's Arsenal: "The Power of Love" (continued)

 The Fruits of the Holy Spirit - LOVE

As I mentioned in my prior blog (part 4-6 of the Heaven's Arsenal series), Heavenly Love is powerful against darkness, yet its acquisition demonstrates one's attainment of full spiritual maturity. This is because God works to teach us to love even those who hate and abuse us. This is Heaven's kind of Love! 

"For if ye love them which love you, what thanks have ye? For sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thanks have ye? For sinners also do even the same." Matthew 6:32-33

Brandi's pregnancy (not her real name) was difficult for us all. Up until the announcement that she was pregnant with my son's child, my husband Mark and I were close friends with Brandi's parents. Brandi's mother, whom I will call Elizabeth, was my prayer partner and spiritual sister. But our relationship became increasingly strained over the next eight months. 

Brandi hated us. It was an old hatred, which had started long before her secret involvement with our son. Brandi's hatred towards my husband and I had grown from a series of resentments, some of which arose when I stepped in to homeschool her, as a favor to her mother.  Brandi resented this because she wanted to attend another school - not be home-schooled at all.

The situation reached some amazing and hurtful extremes. Accusations were made. People were turned against us. And it seemed that when things reached a new lower with Brandi, it would only go lower still a short time later. By this point, loving Brandi was the farthest thing from my mind! I am sorry to admit it, but the truth is that I was sinking into bitterness - I was even bordering on hate - against her.  And the baby had just been born... Much more was yet to come.


It truly looked as though Brandi was working to keep Christopher - and us - out of the baby's life as much as possible. Christopher was "allowed" supervised visits with the baby - in Brandi's home. Sometimes, he would drive the one hour commute to Brandi's house, only to be denied the ability to hold the baby. Brandi would cuddle and play with the little one in front of him, while refusing to allow him the privilege.

Eventually, Brandi's animosity reached such a degree that Christopher went with her to court-appointed mediation...  That didn't seem to work to resolve anything.  Ultimately, as unimaginable as it was to us,  Christopher believed it was necessary to go to court for the right to have parenting time with his daughter. The whole process and the sad legal battle continued until his child was two years old. During this time, all friendship with Brandi's family dissolved. My firm belief was that the loss of our friendship was due to manipulation and a tremendous amount of lies.  

One day, as I sadly sat across the courtroom from my former friend - Elizabeth - who now would barely speak to me and seemed to avoid making eye-contact, I mentally appealed to God.

"Why, Father?"

Suddenly, like a thunderbolt God's message at the beach came back to me.

"I'm giving you a baby to teach you how to love," He had said.  I hadn't thought about his message or this concept in two years.

But now, I sat in stunned silence.

"Ohhhh," was about all I could mentally muster as the full import of it all began to hit me. 

Here I was, detesting this girl and resenting all that she had done to bring such pain into my family's life - especially the life of my son - I was even coming to resent her parents, as they stalwartly supported their daughter... and it suddenly dawned upon me... I was absolutely flunking out of God's Love School!

By allowing my carnal response to Brandi's attacks, I had allowed tremendous darkness into my own life and home. I was bitter, resentful, angry, hateful...  I was a long ways from loving Brandi. All this, and I claimed to be a follower - a disciple - of Christ!!!

"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another." John 13:34-35

God doesn't just want us to love the sweet, easy people! He wants us to love those who are our enemies - those who hurt us the most!  Because that's how God loves me! I am that one who has hurt Him the most. This is true of each of us - as we are all sinners, for whom Christ has died. Whatever I might need to forgive Brandi - or any other offender - for doing against me, it was nothing compared to what I had done against God! Yet He forgave me! Yet He loved me! And it was He Who was working to teach me to love others - even my enemies - the way He loved me.

In that instant, in that courtroom, I understood John 13:34-35 with my heart - and not just with my head. Finally, I understood why God had given me that message on the beach so long ago...  "I am giving you a baby to teach you how to love."

My son had sinned in being sexually involved with Brandi outside of marriage. But it was God who allowed her to become pregnant! And by my very ungodly feelings towards Brandi, it was quite clear that I still had a lot to learn about demonstrating Heavenly Love. 

After we left the courthouse that day, I fell on my face before God and repented!

"Teach me to love! Please, Father, teach me to love Brandi and her family!" 

It was then that God gave me the powerful next step - the next step in learning to love others as God loves us...

(continued in the next blog - Heaven's Arsenal - Part 8)