Tag Archives: love

What Can It Mean: “Faith”, “Christian”

2 Mar

Recently I shared the story of the night the lead singer from Tenth Avenue North performed for me personally a song he had recorded. It was a beautiful gift and a reminder of God’s perfection and immense love.

For me the song had significant meaning; *(lyrics below) It wasnt just a song. It was a song that had helped me grasp who Jesus was and what He accomplished. It was my aha moment of fully grasping the Grace and Mercy of the cross.

The shift from it impossibly being on me to earn heaven to fully grasping unmerited grace. The shift to hope.

I’ve spent so much of my last 10 years reading and studying the word of God. When I first came back to faith, I fought legalism, in any shape or form, thinking I was defending grace. In the end I realized I was working out my own belief and disbelief. Honestly, I think God was simply working things out within me, communing with me. I was so aware of His presence, so loved and held, especially since I had never had that deep knowing He was near. I didn’t see the changes He was making in me at the time. He does that. He changes us, reaffirms us, softens the edges that hard things created.

The shift began from a place of giving up, a deep desperate, empty longing from loss, fear, rejection and hopelessness. It was there that I finally looked up and saw Him, from the bottom of despair. 

I learned that even though I had great passion for Him, great desires to be the woman after His heart, even though I clung to grace,  I was still trying to earn it, trying to be good enough, trying to fit what my perception of salvation was against the Word.

Now I can see, looking back, even as recent as 2 years ago,  As I was working through the idea that Christ fulfilled the law; I realized that I wanted to be set free, grasp the grace, forgiving me of my sins, but I was still wanting “credit” for doing good things, my goodness.

This journey of faith isn’t scary, like I thought, it isn’t fraught with failure. Fear of the Lord isn’t a hell and brimfire. It isn’t condemning, not of me or anyone else.

Our journey of faith is deeply personal. It is ours alone to work out. No one can change it, direct it, or make it happen. It’s only us, standing before our creator. And I want to hear, I know you and you know me. We have walked this garden together for a long, long time. Welcome.

If I really believe in Him, if I really trust in Him, I see it as all about Him, for Him, because of Him. I can let go of control. Surrender my grasp to control outcomes, my fear of everything, my disappointments because things aren’t how I thought they should or would be. I can press forward with Hope, with trust. I can believe He is always working things out not just for my good, but also for His purposes. Which are always good.

But its a journey. We don’t read something and have all the knowledge. We learned and grow all the time. I am not sin free simply because I know Jesus. I am not without trauma or sorrow either. I just have strong faith that this too, is part of the plan, I am to work out my salvation with trembling. Meaning I will be like Christ was in the garden of Gethsemane. He worked it out in prayer until he surrendered and finally said “Thy Will Be Done”.  It’s hard to surrender. But we must do the work to get there, He isn’t going to just be content with us ignoring Him, and expecting the God that created all of the universe to also do all the work in you without your submission. Without your desire for Him to do so. 

Religion has it messed up. People have messed it up. Paul says clearly in Roman’s it all comes down to  faith. Jesus says clearly in Matthew 5-7, it’s personal.

It’s a personal reconciliation between us and God. Grasping our own need to control everything to surrendering to our own inability to be good enough at fulfilling the entire law ( seriously read the Torah! Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, no way can we do it all) all by ourselves.

Trying to be good enough means we need to measure. Measuring us against each other. It makes us finger pointers and holier than thou and judgemental and fearful. Everyone is that way if they haven’t surrendered. Even those that don’t follow faith at all. 

We have a perfect healer, perfect hope,a perfect promise keeper, a perfect I AM the way. We either reject it all completely, or we grab hold and work out our idea of Him with truth. His truth. Obedience comes from suffering. Christ suffered too. Suffering meaning- it’s hard to let go of our own God’s for the one God. It’s hard to let go of our own ego centric idea we can affect the world around us to be the way we want. To let go of legalism.

I am not the person you can’t question faith with, I’m the person that openly, transparently has shown my crazy journey to wholeness. I’m stronger than ever, yet I have so far to go. And honestly, there is so much freedom in knowing I don’t have to. I won’t tell you your sins. I won’t tell you the bible isn’t accurate. I believe every single word even when I don’t want to. Even when I disagree. I believe it is the Living breathing word of God. Because I have seen the truth with my own eyes. 

If you haven’t read the bible, or you have only read a scripture here and there, and you aren’t sure what you believe. Just some food for thought. Read some of it. Start with Roman’s, Matthew, Luke and John. Read it in the NLT or NIV which is much easier  to read, a more conversational language.Read it and ask God, to show you what He wants you to understand. Tell Him you don’t believe. He already knows anyways. 

Maybe I will get to the end of the road and it will stop there. But my hope is in heaven and I am joyful even in sorrowful times. What have I lost? Nothing. What have I gained? Immeasurable strength, courage, love, hope, joy, peace. It’s pretty amazing. 

Romans 10:1‭-‬11 NLT
Dear brothers and sisters, the longing of my heart and my prayer to God is for the people of Israel to be saved. I know what enthusiasm they have for God, but it is misdirected zeal. For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself. Refusing to accept God’s way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law. For Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given. As a result, all who believe in him are made right with God. For Moses writes that the law’s way of making a person right with God requires obedience to all of its commands. But faith’s way of getting right with God says, “Don’t say in your heart, ‘Who will go up to heaven?’ (to bring Christ down to earth). And don’t say, ‘Who will go down to the place of the dead?’ (to bring Christ back to life again).” In fact, it says, “The message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart.” And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”

Lyrics to By your Side, Tenth Avenue North

Why are you striving these days?
Why are you trying to earn grace?
Why are you crying?
Let me lift up your face, just don’t turn away

Why are you looking for love?
Why are you still searching as if I’m not enough?
To where will you go child?
Tell me where will you run, to where will you run?

cause I’ll be by your side wherever you fall
In the dead of night whenever you call
And please don’t fight these hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you

Look at these hands at my side
They swallowed the grave on that night
When I drank the world’s sin
So I could carry you in and give you life
I wanna give you life

And I’ll be by your side wherever you fall
In the dead of night whenever you call
And please don’t fight these hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you

Here at my side wherever you fall
In the dead of night whenever you call
And please don’t fight these hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you

‘Cause I, I love you, I want you to know
That I, I love you, I’ll never let you go
And I’ll be by your side wherever you fall
In the dead of night whenever you call
And please don’t fight these hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you

Here at my side wherever you fall
In the dead of night whenever you call
And please don’t fight these hands that are holding you
My hands are holding youHere at my side
My hands are holding you

 

Work In Progress

5 Dec

I have learned so much in the past 10 years. 10 years ago today, I went to a tea at a non-denominational church. I began attending this church every week. Within a few months I bought my own bible for the first time AND I actually began to read it. 9 years ago today, I was re-baptized at that wonderful church.

You have to know this. I am still a work in progress. I have been studying His word for 10 years. I have been in deep relationship with him for about 8 of those years, or maybe 7. I am being changed and healed and softened and made stronger, every single day.  I submitted every nook and cranny to Him. And then, I pretty much forget and take it all back on my shoulders for a bit, then re-submit. It’s okay! That is our journey with Him. Not one part of us is perfect and we cannot perfect our selves. He can though. I am slowly being perfected. One day, when I get to heaven, I will be perfected. Not before then.

I say this often because I really struggled to grasp what Grace meant, what Jesus meant to me, for me. “Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.” Hebrew 5:8 NLT.   I had to learn that being a Christ follower has nothing to do with me. It is all about Him. I didn’t earn my way to heaven. You can’t earn it by being good. Heaven is about accepting that this Christmas birth was a gift! That Jesus came to show us what faith is. What God is seeking from us is to let go of our own ego’s and our need to earn; our own checks and balances way of living and just accept the gift.

Salvation is simply a life altering, mind blowing, ego balancing, rule crashing, insecurity killing acceptance of the greatest act of love ever.

I have learned that abusive people and unkind people, swindlers, manipulators and cruel people can actually have that mustard seed of faith and can also be saved. I have learned that really devout people have super big doubts sometimes. I have learned that it doesn’t matter what we do or who we are, salvation is not about us. It is about accepting Christ. In the same breath, I have accepted that God is not a punishing God. We don’t earn that either. We do suffer, but everyone suffer’s. Jesus did too and God as His Father, suffered for us, and Mary his mother, suffered. It’s our journey here. We suffer because of darkness, sin, because of brokenness. It’s important.

If you know me, I promised to be transparent every step of the way.  This former perfectionist put on a good front for the world. The need to be right enough and validated enough girl is now the self-proclaimed wishy washy Christian. I still sin, in my head, my words and in my heart. I am constantly learning and growing, I have a sense of confidence in Christ I have never had before.  God has changed so much in my heart, healed so much and filled the hole inside my heart.
I am also the girl that has a hard time with trust. Actually I believe that to be my biggest hurdle.  Probably for all of us, this is the biggest hurdle. Trusting when we can’t control or see the future. Trust is faith. Period. Trust when it all looks like it’s falling apart at the seams. Trust when our hearts our broken. Trust when we can’t understand.

No matter how far I swing away, no matter how close I walk; the words below are my reminder, and if I write it all on my heart, then I can constantly redirect my fears, my worries, my self reliance, my anger, my sorrow, my hopes and my desires of my heart. If we are seeking His will, we will have perfect peace, if we focus on our own plans, our own path; there is no peace.

They say “Leap of Faith” for a major reason! Faith is hard! It’s also an amazing journey full of amazing people. There is a deep joy that comes from hope in God. I have had deep doubts in Him, He was fine with that. He is steady, sure, unchanging and un-freaked out.
Isn’t it time to figure out what you really know about Him, what is truth to you? Based on learning who He really is? Not what you see a building of people being but what His word tells you about him?

Without Him I am nothing.

“My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart. If you do this, you will live many years, and your life will be satisfying.
Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
nothing you desire can compare with her (wisdom).”

Proverbs 3:1-6 NLT

Re-done

2 Dec
If I were to come up with a description for the past decade it would be Re-Creation.
I went back to church 10 years ago this month. I remained unable to really connect the dots of faith to my why until July 2010. Entering this decade brokenhearted, lost and so unsure of my why; ‘Why was I here? What did I have to live for? ‘ These were some very overwhelming questions for me.
I often quote my friend Pastor Brent Knox.” I am either in a trial or between a trial.” Such truth!
Nothing lasts forever except The One who created it all. No trial, no moment. But, His love endures forever.
Isaiah 40:28 says “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.”
Endings are as much a part of life as beginnings are. Grief and joy, peace and struggle, gain and loss…. Nothing is without meaning and value, but nothing is done without Him beside us and the Holy Spirit within us. He is sovereign. Always. We choose to trust in faith or struggle alone.
This is the hope I hang on to every day. He has it all figured out, and it’s all meant for my good and His glory.

There is perfect peace to be found in the bumpy journey, even when it all falls apart. I am so grateful to have found this joy. This life is so not easy, and it will only become more difficult as we grow older.

Joy isn’t happiness, joy isn’t laughter. Joy is deep. It is resting assured in faith that I don’t have to have the answers, that I am deeply cared for, loved beyond measure, I am not alone, and one day, this will all be new. I will live forever with Him.

Joy is pouring this truth into another life;Being able to be completely transparent, no longer having to pretend I have it all together. I don’t!

Joy is knowing that even if I made a huge mess of a thing, even if all the pieces make no sense; I don’t have to have the vision of the future. He does. I just need to be so in touch with Him, so patient, so steady.  He will not leave me, nor forsake me. Men may leave me. friends may, but not God. Joy is confidence in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The one truth remains, our lives are still so rich with blessings. Our trials become our lessons and the lessons become our testimony. When we give them all to Him, He uses our difficult testimonies to bless other’s.

This heart is so grateful, even for the hard, the goodbyes and the trials. This girl is glad for the decade of crazy, coming to a close. This girl is grateful for every mistake, every tear cried, every lesson, every sorrow. Without each of them I wouldn’t be me. I wouldn’t be where I am.

I love this re-creation of me. He is pretty smart!

Phillippians 1:6 “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

Forgotten

2 Nov

As my mother slowly began to slip away from us, it became clear to us that it was time to draw close. To not leave her at all. She would speak to us a bit but would tire quickly. Everything had been said long before. Now it was just time for each of us to see to her comfort and to say our goodbyes.

It was an honor and a blessing to be beside as my mother crossed over to heaven. I thought of those that have gone before, my father, my uncles, my aunts, my friends. I began to reflect on her time the months prior. The trip we took to spend fun time with as much family as we could gather; the visits each of us took to be one on one with her while she was still able to enjoy our visits. Now, we prepare for her funeral, a family united by love of our mother.

I rested today. There was this nagging thought that would not leave my mind. Not of my mother, but of the countless men and women I see in the nursing homes and Veteran’s home, day after day in my work. So many of these people will die with no one holding their hand, praying over them, caring for them. (Yes this would be one more huge reason for Hospice at end of life!)

I recall the social media cry for people to attend the funeral of a veteran in Sarasota that had no family. It was touching. It was an event one could “check in” at, did you know this? You could let the world know you do good deeds.

What if your good deed went vaguely unnoticed by the world but made a huge impact on the life of a human being. Without knowing what the reasons are for living life in a nursing facility, without any family or friends to stop in, to check on you, I have to ask… Does it matter?

These facilities do religious services within those institutional walls, but then the crowd dies away and for the remaining 23 hours, with the exception of an aid or a nurse, your day is spent alone. Waiting to eat; Waiting in your chair, or your bed.

How lovely would it be if we began to “foster” the lonely nursing home patients? If the social media cry was to “rescue” an invalid or dementia patient; an ALS patient or Parkinson’s patient. Maybe your calling is to visit the veterans and visit with them, spend time letting them feel valued and seen?

We are a nation of “see me” and “look at what I did” and “listen to my opinions”; “Make me feel important”, “I am enough”. Can you imagine how completely important a selfless act of time and friendship would be to someone that is invisible, unseen, forgotten?

This is not the grief I anticipated, nor the sadness I thought I would process today on this beautiful Saturday.

My mom is no longer.here Her new life began on Tuesday, when she became a bride in heaven. She doesn’t need a funeral, we do, we need the closure. Her suffering has ended and she is rejoicing. I am rejoicing for her. There will be tears I am sure. She will be missed but she is no longer ever going to feel anything remotely close to suffering, regret,sorrow or loneliness.

Have you been lonely? I have been so lonely it took my strength away; being lonely is true suffering.

You don’t really live well until you love well and you don’t love well until you give it away selflessly to someone who can never repay you.

I encourage you to give this thoughtful consideration.

When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Romans 12:13

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. 1 Peter 4:10

And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God. Hebrews 13:16

 

The Letter

10 Sep

by Beckie Halaska

My mom put a letter in my hands as I left her house and said “read this when you get home.”  I asked her if it will make me cry, she smiled her sweet smile and said “yes”.

I have held the letter in my hands for long minutes, staring at it, unable to open it. Wanting to hang on to the mom I have always had, strong in mind and spirit. Not ready for what is coming. Not ready to read her words.

I am so grateful for the time I am blessed to spend with her and leaving her gets more difficult. As her body grows weaker with every passing week, her spirit grows stronger. She is more peaceful, happier.

This is what the hope of Heaven looks like. Peace. I am blessed to see it in my mother’s eyes.She is at peace with her journey and is now beginning to look forward to meeting her beloved bridegroom. I am encouraged by her inner strength.

As I set the letter back down, my heart streams down my face. I say a silent prayer for her and I decide maybe I will open it tomorrow. Not tonight.

‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelations 21:4 

Hope

2 Sep

by Beckie Halaska

God gave my friend and I this word last night. It was just one word. A powerful word.
I have realized that Hope is what drives everything; Everything!
We go on dates because we hope for this to be the one.
We flirt, we share, we open our hearts up because we hope for the relationship to be important, we hope for love.
We begin new jobs, plan families, plan vacations, all from hope.
We fight disease from hope.
We stay in jobs because of hope.
We invest energy, resources and time in the hopes of outcomes.
We go on diets, and begin exercising with a hope of achieving a goal.
We look forward to an event, hoping for a fun time.
We pray from hope, and sometimes we pray for hope.
Today, we pray for a hurricane to move away, we hope for safety, for lives to be spared, for change.

Hope is hugely important and drives just about all we do or desire.
The Hebrew root words to describe Hope all stem around the word trust: To trust, or worthy of trust.  To put our trust in God is to put our Hope in Him.

The entire bible is about Hope. Jesus himself was about Hope. One of my favorite scriptures is the epitome of that Hope. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

There is a hope that comes from knowing that at the end of our time here, at the end of this amazing and turbulent world, we will no longer suffer and there will be joy everlasting. What a hope this is.

There is a hope that comes from trusting that even when we can’t see an outcome, with things out of our control, God is still in charge, still working all things out for our good. There is a hope that when we look back on our lives, we can see that we always came out of hardship. All the pieces made us who we are, gave us our purpose.

When you don’t have that hope, when you are trying to do this all on your own, when you have lost the ability to see hope, find hope, we become desolate and alone. We crumble. Sometimes hope is all that is left when the suffering is great. It can be just a thread, but it is life itself. Without that thread of hope, we have nothing.

Hopelessness is a rampant disease these days. People suffering and taking their lives, because they have lost hope. Our world isn’t becoming more evil, our world is losing hope.

In all that I have gone through, in all I have done, I can only give God that credit. It is because I learned from hopelessness, that He is my hope. And all my hope comes from the Lord. I have learned to trust in His sovereignty. I am grateful to not have to shoulder everything myself and I know this world will have it’s share of suffering and sorrows, but my strength and joy comes from the hope for heaven. For eternity.  I can lean on that when all else falls apart. This life is a vapor and it without the Hope of more, it loses all meaning.
Literally no one will know most of us even lived here 2 generations from now. We are not so important to be remembered like that.
However, we are so important to those people we love and those we encounter. We are also important to God.
We can be the ones that light the fire of hope in this suffering world. One smile at a time. We can be the hope that says to one person or many, every day, “I see you, you matter”. “There is still good here”. “You are loved, even if I don’t know you, I know God and He loves you beyond measure”.

Hope. We talk about being accepting, being love, but what we really need to be is hope spreaders.  We need to share what Hope looks like, feels like, and how we found it, how we find it every day.

That is our calling here. That is our legacy for the future generations. That is our light in the dark.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. “- Romans 15:13

Through The Tears

16 Jul

By Beckie Halaska

The thunder rolls, the rain pours down as I sit in complete still and silence.
I am in awe of our awesome God. His power. His love.

I bring my grief and sorrow to Him and just lay it wide open for Him.

I feel a sense of His presence.  When I can just be still, I become so aware of Him around me. My heart is so full. So overwhelmed.

This is a practice of being aware of Him. Seeking Him.
When I stop being me focused, silence the crazy world and be still, alert, aware of Him, He shows off for me in big ways.

How can I not worship this knowing, protective, worthy, infinite, unchangeable God?

I will never be strong enough.
I will never be loving enough.
I will never be whole enough.
I will never be beautiful enough.
I will never be worthy of His beautiful Grace.

It pours over my heart, my spirit as I soak in His greatness.
It is a free gift He showers on me. Over me
His peace is beyond all understanding.
It is well. Deep within my soul, my heart, it is well.

My beautiful Mom knows this God, this rescuer and lover of our souls as much as I do.
It is all well with her soul. This brings me so much comfort.

She may be preparing her goodbye’s to this world , but her joy has only begun.
As the storm gives way to blue skies, I am so blessed by His love and comfort.

As the tears fall, the sorrow leaves.
Because of Him.

Joy overwhelms me, peace that makes no sense in these circumstances, transcends through my whole spirit.

And I sit in gratitude. Such a good, good Father.

Amen.