Follow up to: At Death’s Door

I was overwhelmed, again, by the wonderful response I received to the post that I wrote about my dream (not sure if you read it, find it here). Every message and comment is treasured, and I hope to get back to all of you soon. I felt that I wanted to share two things that God has been saying to me since the dream, as a balance to the whole “fearing God” thing. I wouldn’t want you to only get half of the message and misunderstand the grace of God as well.

So here is the first thing. That night I read in Psalm 27 and these verses 13 & 14 jumped out at me.

Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness
    while I am here in the land of the living.

Wait patiently for the Lord.
    Be brave and courageous.
    Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

In the midst of my understanding on the fear of the Lord, he also spoke to me that HE was the one who would give me the strength to be the woman of character and conviction that I need to be. As I wait on him, he will give me everything. It takes bravery and courage, but he will not let me down. I have confidence that I will see his goodness come to pass in my life! 

The second thing was very simple. He sang the song to me “Jesus Loves Me” (the updated Hillsong kids version), over and over the whole day after. I couldn’t get it out of my head. It’s like how sometimes when you must have a really serious conversation with your child, or maybe a friend, and then afterward you just want to affirm your love for them so much. Yeah, that’s what Jesus did. He just was like “Monica, I love you. I love you. I love you.”

You can listen to the song here, and let it soak into your heart as you receive Jesus’ love.

 

So be encouraged. There is fear in meeting the Lord, absolutely. But God will give us every thing we need to serve him well on earth. And we can be motivated by his undying, unconditional, passionate and pursuing love for us.

He is so good.

 

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At Death’s Door

Exactly one week ago today I wrote a blog post about Fearing God. In it I said that I don’t truly understand what it means to fear God, and that I was going to go on a journey of seeking out understanding. I prayed a prayer that God would reveal to me what it meant. Last night he answered by way of a dream that has changed my entire life. I won’t ever be the same. And if I start slipping back to how I have been, I’ll read this over and over until I have new revelation.

Here’s the dream. It’s a bit intense.

Caleb and I are sitting on his bed (he must have been a tiny bit older since we were on a toddler bed) reading some books. I had this instant knowledge that life was different. For some reason I was dying, but I didn’t know what from. I was treasuring this moment with my son, knowing somehow that it could be one of my last.

Then all at once I knew my time had come. I was at death’s door. Swirls of what seems like dark green and blue light circles started coming towards me. No one else could see them, only I could, and they were symptoms of death. I knew that once they all came upon me, I would move from this life into eternity.

The first one hit and I jumped up from the bed. I was overcome with the most hearwrenching cry from within the very depth of my soul. I yelled out;

“LORD, MAY I HAVE SERVED YOU WELL HERE!”

I was completely taken by two feelings at the same time. One was an overwhelming excitement that I was about to see the Lord. The second was this horrific fear that I was about to stand before him and give an account for my life.

All the situations came to my mind in a flash of times I wasted my life in not living whole heartedly for the Lord.

Over and over all I could cry out was “may I have served you well on earth, may I have served you with my whole life.” This went on for a long time with this same fear and wonder. My heart, facing death was desperate to know if I had served him well.

Then I looked and saw a swirl heading to me, and I knew I was about to be hit with my brain shutting down. I tried to turn the door knob on the room but my body was already too stiff. Instantly the door was like transparent glass and I saw Andrew sitting on the couch. I tried to speak, but no words could come from my mouth anymore. I managed to sign “I love you” to him. I saw on his face that he knew I was leaving them. I was ok though. I loved them but my hearts question was did I serve the Lord well.

Even writing this down, I am overwhelmed with tears. This dream was the most real thing I have ever experienced that was not actually real.

I looked away from Andrew, and then back to my son, as my body very softly fell to the ground, with a last intense cry asking the Lord if I had served him well, knowing I would soon see him face to face.

Heat and stillness crept over my entire body as death finally overtook me.

Then I woke up. My body was hot, and a numbness held me completely captive. I was terrified to open my eyes, expecting to be in heaven.

Instead I heard my husband snoring beside me. I saw the faint light of a street lamp streaming into our window. I reached for my phone to check the time. 2:05 a.m. September 25th, 2012. I had to remember to the date and time of the event that would forever change my life.

I lay in bed hardly breathing, not moving, overcome with the intense emotion of what I had just experienced. Then it clicked in my mind. That is what it is to fear the Lord. He had shown me. I had experienced the delicate balance of joyfully wanting to meet the Lord, yet the fear that comes from standing before his awesome holiness.

You may be thinking, ok crazy dream, but why won’t you ever be the same? In my dream I realized the moments that I had wasted in not giving glory to God throughout my daily life. I didn’t so much see missed opportunities, as I saw that I didn’t always do everything I did as unto the Lord. I wasn’t always serving Him.

I now understand at least a glimpse of the feelings just prior to meeting Jesus, and I want to be sure that I don’t let him down. I don’t want to be comfortable with simply salvation. I want to stand before the Lord and have him say:

“Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

A Spirit of Excellence

We are very excited to be apart of what our new church is doing involving reading the Word together and journaling. As much as I love writing, I have never been good at journaling. Why? I really don’t know. I think I just didn’t know how to write simply what was on my heart. I felt like it had to be a record of my life for the future. One day someone would stumble upon this old journal and it would tell a tale of adventure and excitement. They would publish it into a book, and my house would become a national monument, forever preserved as a piece of history. Somehow I always got stuck on the details.

Anyway, this new approach to journaling involves using a Life Journal where we all follow the same daily reading plan, and then basically answer the question “How will I be different today because of what I have just read?”.

So tonight I was getting caught up as I was a day behind, and I was reading the story of Daniel and the Lions Den (a Sunday School favourite) in Daniel 6, when I was hit with one sentence that really stood out.

Then the other administrators and high officers began searching for some fault in the way Daniel was handling government affairs, but they couldn’t find anything to criticize or condemn. He was faithful, always responsible, and completely trustworthy. (Daniel 6:4)

I was thinking about all the characteristics of a godly leader and I couldn’t think of one that didn’t fall into one of those three categories.

1. Faithful

2. Responsible

3. Trustworthy

You could name something like a good listener, but I think that falls under faithful and trustworthy. Someone who empowers others, well that’s being responsible with your human resources. Can you think of one that doesn’t fit into one of these categories?

In another translation Daniel is described as having a spirit of excellence. I absolutely love that wording!  As an administrator, doing this with excellence requires a lot of hard work and diligence. He definitely needed to be faithful, responsible and trustworthy! Because of his excellence he was quickly elevated to places of influence.

Some of you may not feel like you are in a place where you are influencing anyone. If you’re a faithful reader of this blog, you know that I would disagree with you and say that you are always influencing someone. However, I understand you might feel you have a small sphere of influence (I can just hear some of you asking “do a dog and a cat count?”). Jesus said that those of us who are faithful with little, much will be given.

Luke 16:10

If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.

Therefore, I say to you that these three characteristics should be much sought after by us, in whatever capacities we serve. As we develop and prove ourselves to be “faithful, always responsible and completely trustworthy”, the Lord will expand our territory and give us more exciting adventures to embark on.

It is true that if you get used to taking short cuts in the little things, you are going to take major short cuts on the big things, because you won’t have trained yourself to follow the process.

Daniel’s life is an amazing example of a person that in everything he did, he did it all to the glory of God.

May a spirit of excellence be upon our homes, in our work ethic and apart of our daily family life.

If you are interested in purchasing your own Life Journal and joining me, and my church on this spiritual journey, you can order yours here.

Fearing God

After watching a video testimony of a man being raised from the dead after 3 days, I’ve been thinking a lot about some of the words shared by the man. I will post the video at the end of the post, and if you can find a few moments, please watch it. Guaranteed it will rock your world a bit, and maybe even shake up your faith.

The man who saw heaven and saw hell, shared that coming back to earth, he now has an incredible fear of God. This is something I have wondered if I really have. Am I afraid of God? Well, do I want to be afraid of God?

I believe that God is gracious, loving and compassionate, but sometimes I forget that he also is a holy, awesome, powerful God who is a consuming fire. This is a God who is to be served and feared. No human could pull off such a perfectly, delicate balance of all these attributes which inspire us to love, adore, fear, worship and cringe all at the same time. He loves us so much he gave us his son, yet he asks some things of us as well.

Last night in 2 Peter 2:21 I was hit with the warning behind these words, talking about people who get enslaved in sin after accepting Jesus Christ:

It would be better if they had never known the way to righteousness than to know it and then reject the command they were given to live a holy life.

These words cut through my heart. We are commanded to live a life of holiness. The reality of heaven and hell is so immense, it scares me to think of standing before the Lord and not being recognized as living a holy life. I’m not talking about salvation through works, I know that I am saved by grace. But in my gift of salvation, I have been asked to do a few things, the biggest being to live a life of holiness.

What is holiness? I honestly think we know a lot better what it is than we sometimes let on. Pray and ask God to show you the areas of your life that are not mirroring his holiness, and then see what changes need to come.

Yikes. That scares me a bit. Changing can be so hard. Having the courage to change the habits, mindsets and admit to loved ones that you have been acting in a way that is against God, is humiliating.

But humility leads to honour. Not self-righteous, self-given honour, but God-given honour.

But he gives us even more grace to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say,

“God opposes the proud
    but favors the humble.”

James 4:6

This whole fearing God thing is a bit of a mystery to me, one that I want to dive deeper into. This man in the video experienced what he did to warn others and encourage. I don’t believe I came upon this testimony by accident. I need to process it. I don’t believe you have come upon this testimony by accident either. Try to make some time and watch it.

Miracle Babies

Yesterday we were able to see our second baby at our ultrasound. With both babies so far, we’ve had to have ultrasounds at 9 weeks to see how far along we are. To see a baby at such a tiny stage is truly a miraculous thing.

This was Caleb at the 12 week ultrasound.

 

It is unbelievable to think that less than two years later he has grown into such a busy, healthy, wonderful boy! Here he is in one of our most recent photos of him.

Ultrasounds remind me of the verses in Psalm 139, and we have been praying them over baby #2.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.

Psalm 139:13-16

One of the number one concerns for us as parents, besides our children one day following the Lord, is health and strength. We have been praying that the Lord would knit this baby together within my womb and that He would watch over every detail of baby’s development.

This is our newest baby. It fills me with so much joy and curiosity to think of what this child will be like, after having gone through this process once already.

 

I know that this baby is bursting with personality already. The way Caleb was like during pregnancy, has been very much what he has been like on the outside. He never stopped moving within me, and he never stops moving now! As difficult as pregnancy can be, it is such an amazing time to get to know your baby before they are born.

I haven’t been as focused on this baby as I was with my first pregnancy, since life is busier. However this baby’s development and life is just as important. I know that they are going to bring a unique dynamic to our family that only they can bring.

To all my readers carrying babies along with me, let me pray this prayer of protection upon your little one.

Dear Jesus, would you hold each of these unborn babies within your hands. Please protect them, form them and create them as only you can. Your workmanship is exquisite, and I ask that you would place a wall of protection around each little one as you knit them together within the womb. May each one be blessed by you, and may you call each one to do mighty works for you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

 

Love You Forever

I’m fairly certain that author Robert Munsch wrote “Love You Forever” more for moms than for children.

After a particularly frustrating morning with Caleb taking things out of the fridge and ripping the house apart, and the combination of time-outs and hand-slaps that followed, I was feeling pretty discouraged.

I sat down on the foot stool of the rocker in Caleb’s room and started to cry. My 16-month old peaked at me from around the corner and then I heard his little footsteps run quickly away.

After pulling myself together I came out into the main room that was littered with pantry and fridge items, toys & books and crushed crackers. There was Caleb standing on the rug in the living room holding the book “I’ll love you forever”. He saw me and ran over and gave it to me.

We sat down, and of course I can’t read a page of that book without starting to cry. We came to this part:

The baby grew. He grew and he grew and he grew. He grew until he was two years old, and he ran all around the house. He pulled all the books off the shelves. He pulled all the food out of the refrigerator and he took his mother’s watch and flushed it down the toilet. Sometimes his mother would say, “this kid is driving me CRAZY!”

My son seems to be very understanding, and when we got to that page he looked at me with big eyes that said “I’m sorry”, and for fifteen brief seconds I rocked him back and forth, back and forth, and said “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.”

With that Caleb jumped off the chair and was on to the next event.

But I’ll remember it forever.

 

You may be like me and feel like you don’t have a clue what you’re doing, but I hope you can find some joy in the moments where you seem to understand each other. Taking time to remember just how much you love your child can be a step towards turning a rough day around.

 

Will You Walk Away?

My heart has been aching for all the people who I have once seen living passionately for the Lord who have now seemed to completely have “thrown it all away.”

Some of the ones who were extremely influential in my spiritual walk when I was younger, are now ones who I am praying for to return to the Lord. I’ve asked a lot of questions, the biggest one being “what happened?”

In the midst of grieving over another life not being lived to it’s fullest potential, I felt God speak to me and ask me how I know that I will never walk away from him. It flung me on a path of searching for an answer.

While reading in 1 Peter chapter one the other night, I felt like I gained personal revelation on this topic. It’s going to seem obvious, but I believe that this holds a huge piece of ensuring that you will walk with the Lord all the days of your life.

Ready for it?

You must recognize and accept that life is going to be really hard, you might suffer and not everyone will like you.

1 Peter 1:6-7 says

So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

The people who I have sadly watched walk away from the Lord, are the ones who have given up in the midst of trial.

There is a lot to be said for sheer will power and determination. The best marriages succeed simply because they determined in their hearts and minds that regardless of what happened, they would never leave each other.

So it is with our relationship with the Lord. We already know that he will never leave us or forsake us. The question is, will we forsake him?

When I read through the famous chapter on Faith found in Hebrews 11, I can’t help but get emotional. Oh the faith these men and women had! They went to their graves with this assurance in their heart that they had lived their days unto the Lord.

Almost each example of a person with great faith, proved their faith through great adversity! It was not in the easy time that they were mentioned for having exceptional faith.

Sarah was barren for years! But she believed God, and through her came a whole nation.

Abraham left his homeland to go a place that he did not know, in a time where this was very dangerous. By his faith, the promise land was indeed inherited.

Noah, faced years and years of ridicule as he followed the Lord’s guidance and built an ark to protect from rain – an element they had never experienced! Imagine explaining to people who had never seen rain that they would be washed out by a flood!

Not all of these stories had happy endings. No, further on it says that many were tortured and killed, dying without seeing what they believed come to pass. But they all died knowing that they were looking to a better future, an eternal future, where there was no pain, torture, suffering, disease or turmoil.

What will your faith chapter say? Will it record how you lived passionately for the Lord until the flood came? Then you decided to lean on drugs or alcohol?

As I have been grieving for some who have walked away, it has caused me to strengthen my commitment to the Lord. I can say with confidence that no matter what is thrown my way, I will serve him.

We need resolution and grit to make it to the finish line. May our faith chapters be ones that speak of our love and faithfulness to the Lord until we are greeted by him in eternal glory.