White As Snow

Experiencing God’s Restoration from Sexual Sin and Abuse 

Hi friends, I wanted to share this post with you by Leslie Ludy. I’m sure after reading, many of you can relate. You’ve probably said or done things that have lead you to ask yourself “how far is too far?”, “how much further can i go?”….without getting caught, until i can’t feel the sting of the Holy Spirit pulling me from sin. The reality is, the further you go the harder it is…but just know, no matter how steeped you are in that situation it’s never too late to be restored and made new by Christ’s amazing cleansing blood …it’s never too late to be made as White as Snow.
God bless you ~Yan

Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.
Luke 7:47

Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.
Mark 2:17

When Eric and I were first married, a Christian leader took notice of the fact that we had “wisdom beyond our years” about spiritual things.  He felt that the reason we had been blessed with unusual spiritual insight was because we’d protected the purity of our relationship prior to marriage.  We’d listened to God’s Spirit above our own fleshly desires, and as a result we had cultivated the ability to hear His voice without the cloudiness and confusion that sexual compromise so often brings.  Honoring and protecting purity did so much more than merely enhance the romance in our marriage relationship.  It strengthened our relationship with Jesus Christ and laid the foundation for our marriage to be built upon His amazing strength.

But our lives hadn’t always been marked with sexual set-apartness.  In light of the physical purity that marked my relationship with Eric, it may seem hard to believe that we both came from very impure backgrounds.  Eric and I grew up in Christian homes and went to youth group, but like most Christian young people today we approached purity from a selfish vantage point.  We constantly asked, “how far is too far?” rather than “how far can I possibly go to please God and honor my future spouse?”  And as a result, our lives were full of sin, selfishness, and compromise.  Both of us gave our heart, mind, emotions, and bodies carelessly away in temporary flings, even though we “technically” kept our virginity.  For most of our young adult lives, saving a kiss until our wedding day would have been the last thing either of us would have considered doing.

By the time I caught a vision for the amazing purity and breathtaking beauty that marked a Christ-centered love story, I honestly felt like it was too late for me to ever experience it.  Sure, I’d technically kept my abstinence commitment, but my purity had been forsaken long ago.  I’d allowed the treasure of my heart, emotions, and body to be trampled time and time again.  I knew I was unworthy of a God-written love story.

But then, in His gentle, tender, patient way, my King began to show me that I could be completely washed clean, restored, and made new.  If I was willing toimages-3 repent and receive His forgiveness, I could be set free from all the baggage of the past, cleansed from all the impurity I’d allowed into my life.  And I could experience the fullness of a brilliantly pure, God-scripted love story, through the power of His redemption.  It seemed almost too good to be true, but it was exactly what He promised.

God-scripted love stories are not just for those who have never compromised.  In fact, the very reason that Christ sacrificed everything for us was to offer us the chance to be restored, washed clean, and given a hope and future.  Just look at this amazing picture of Christ’s heart toward those of us who have sinned:

And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, “How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

If you feel that you’ve “gone too far” to experience a truly pure and beautiful God-scripted love story, let me assure you that it’s never too late to be restored and made new by His amazing cleansing blood.

images

Repentance means turning and walking the other direction.  Once you awaken to the fact that you are heading over a cliff, stop, turn, ask God’s forgiveness, and then, by His grace, head in the other direction.  There is no reason to look back or second-guess your position as His child.  You should not expect a second-rate version of romance.  Once you have been restored by Him, you are clothed in His righteousness.  You are entitled to all the benefits of His amazing Kingdom.  Your forgiveness is complete.  Your sin is removed as far from you as the east is from the west.  It is finished.

We only need to read the Gospels to be assured that He did pay the price for our sin—once and for all. Let us not cheapen His amazing sacrifice by questioning whether His work on the cross was truly enough. 

We are either ignorant or arrogant if we believe that Christ’s death was not enough to cover our sin. At the moment Christ gave up His life for us, He proclaimed, “It is accomplished.” (see John 19:30) The price had been paid. The power of sin had been conquered. It was done. It was final. It was absolute. He left no room for us to question it. 

Don’t try to add to His sacrifice by improving yourself before you fall at His feet in repentance. Simply come to Him, in all of your sin and weakness, let Him wash you clean, and make you completely new.  Don’t focus on your unworthiness. Rather, fix your eyes on the awesome power of His conquering, redeeming, transforming blood, shed on your behalf.

(Additionally, if God brings a Christ-built man into your life, He will give that man the grace to forgive the same way that God has forgiven you – fully, completely, wholly.  Eric and I have never struggled with hurt or anger over each other’s “pasts”, because we have allowed God’s grace to equip us with a heart of complete forgiveness.)

If sexual compromise has entered your life, I’d like to offer some Biblical advice that can lead to complete restoration and healing.

1. Repent & Turn

Christ said,

If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.  And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. (Matthew 5:29-30)

Our King tells us that once we awaken to the fact that we’ve allowed sin in our lives, we are not to continue doing the things that led to our stumbling.  That means if you were an alcoholic, you should no longer hang out in bars sipping beer.  If yoimages-1u were addicted to Internet porn, you should no longer spend hours alone, surfing the Internet.  An
d if you stumbled sexually, you shouldn’t remain in intense, close contact with the one you compromised with.  You need to “cut off” the thing that caused you to sin – namely, the relationship you are in.  This isn’t to say that God can’t heal, restore, and cleanse an impure relationship and rebuild it upon a foundation of purity.  But there needs to be a re-calibration; new patterns need to be established, Christ needs to claim the throne in your life once again, and purity needs to govern your every action and thought.

When you are in the heat of an intense, emotional relationship with someone, you aren’t able to truly allow Christ to renew and re-train your habits.  You become distracted by your feelings for the other person, and it’s all too easy to fall right back into the same sin over and over again.  Even though it mi
ght be difficult, honor Christ by taking a step back from the relationship, surrendering it afresh to Him, and letting Him re-build it only after a long season of healing, renewal, re-training, and restoration has been established.

Whatever the “compromise triggers” are in your life – whether an impure relationship or impure habits – ask God forimages the grace to turn and walk the other direction.  Do whatever you must do in order to cut temptation out of your life, even if it means stepping away from an ungodly relationship, getting rid of your computer, withdrawing from unhealthy friendships, or throwing away ungodly movies.  Remember, nothing is more important that your relationship with Jesus Christ.  And if you put Him first, He will fulfill your soul far more than any unhealthy relationship or habit ever could.

2. Receive His Forgiveness

Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn He came back to the temple, and all the people came to Him. Just as He sat down to teach, the scribes and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught committing adultery. They made her stand in the middle of everyone.

“Teacher,” they said to Him, “this woman has been caught in the very act of committing adultery. In the Law, Moses commanded to stone this kind of woman. What do You say?”…

But Jesus knelt and wrote down something on the ground. As they continued questioning Him, He straightened up and said to them, “The one among you who is without sin, let him throw the first stone at her.”

Again, He knelt and wrote down something on the ground. Those who heard left one at a time, beginning with the older ones first, leaving Jesus alone with the woman. (John 8:4-11)

The angry mob wanted to humiliate, expose, and destroy the woman who had been caught in sin. But Jesus – the only One who had the power to judge and condemn her – chose a completely different response.  Forgiveness.  Full, complete, perfect forgiveness.

Just as Jesus knew the sins of each person in that crowd, He knows every sin we have ever committed from the day we were born. It is pointless to try to keep our sins hidden from Him. Yet when we come to Him, truly broken over what we have done, filled with the soul-wrenching regret of realizing how far we have fallen, and look into His eyes, He smiles tenderly. He lifts our chin with His nail-scarred hand. And He gently says, “I don’t condemn you. Now go, and stop sinning.”

When we are washed in Jesus’ blood, we become completely clean. When He looks at us, He doesn’t see our failures and mistakes, He sees a new creation—a child of God – resorted and made white as snow, not by our own merit, but by His.

And if we truly receive His amazing forgiveness, He can take the sin that our enemy meant to use to destroy us, and use it for His glory. He can take a shattered heart and life and script a beautiful tale of His perfect love.  As it says in Psalm 103:2-5:

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases; who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercies; who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

About fifteen years ago I sat down at the piano and attempted to express the heart of this amazing forgiveness through a simple song called White as Snow:

Alone and confused, your heart is bruised from sin; 
Your joy is gone from love gone wrong
And you’re longing to start again.
I know that you’ve been hurt, and you don’t know who to trust;
I won’t pretend I understand your pain.
But I can see repentance in your eyes, and I know it’s not too late;
I hear Him calling your name…

White as snow, He has made 
you white as snow;  
The moment you confessed, 
His heart forgave. 
You might think you’ve ruined all the 
plans He had for you,
But it’s for that very reason 
Jesus saves.

White as snow, He has made
you white as snow; 

Pure and innocent like a dove, 
Though you have done nothing to 
deserve His pardoning, 
You’ve been purified by Jesus’ blood—
White as snow.

The guilt and the shame, 
keeping you chained,
Not wanting to let you go;
It’s not how you dreamed,
not how you planned,
And you can’t see that still
there is hope.

Receive His healing for your bruises;
Receive His riches for your rags.
You cannot imagine all the plans
He has for you,
So take His hand, and don’t look back.

Thanks to Leslie Ludy https://setapartgirl.com/magazine/article/09-1-13/white-snow

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A FRIEND OF THE BRIDEGROOM

“It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the bridegroom’s friend is simply glad to stand with him and hear his vows. Therefore, I am filled with joy at his success. He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less”. John 3:29-30

As Christians, we often spiritualize the idea of self-promotion.  After all, the more successful and popular we become, the better Christian witnesses we will be, right?  But surprisingly, that’s not God’s pattern at all.

At the peak of John the Baptist’s ministry, Jesus started baptizing, and people began coming more to Jesus than to John.  John’s followers seemed disturbed by this trend, and told him, “Behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!” (John 3:26).  They must have felt jealous on behalf of John, thinking, “Why is John suddenly getting overlooked?  People aren’t noticing him as much now that Jesus is around!  John should do something to promote himself and his ministry!”  And yet John knew that his sacred commission was to make Jesus – not himself – known to the world.

He told his followers, “I am only the friend of the bridegroom; not the bridegroom Himself; when the Bridegroom is ee0e98db35658c4bed8a5200113540f4seen, my joy is complete.” (John 3:29, paraphrase) And then John made a truly profound statement, completely opposite of the self-promoting messages we are so used to today.

He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).  What an amazing attitude!  His primary concern was getting out of the way, so that Jesus could be seen.  John knew that if he tried to take center-stage, Jesus would not receive the glory that He deserved.

The same is true in our own lives.  When we try to be seen and applauded, Jesus fades into the background, and people look at us, not Him.  But when we focus on getting out of the way and pointing others to Him, He receives the glory He deserves. This doesn’t mean we can never cultivate the unique talents and strengths that He has given us.  It is certainly possible to use our gifts to glorify God (in fact, that is why He gave them to us in the first place!) But first, we must ask some critical questions:  “Am I doing this for His glory or for my own applause?  When people see this part of my life, are they drawn closer to Jesus, or are they merely impressed with me?”  If we are more concerned with what others think of us than what they think of Jesus, then we have not learned how to be a faithful “friend of the Bridegroom” as John the Baptist was.  If we are pursuing our dreams in order to “get what we want out of life” rather than to lead others to the Source of true life, we are missing a crucial part of the Christian life.

Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”  (Matt 16:24)  The word “deny” here means “to forget one’s self and lose sight of one’s own interests.” What an incredibly different message from the “do what makes you happy” notion that our culture promotes!  Jesus says that in order to truly follow Him, we must lay down all pursuits of self-glory and seek His glory alone.

I once heard a true story about a young woman who left everything – all her dreams and personal pursuits – in order to share the hope of Christ among the destitute and dying in a foreign country.  One day she was walking down a filthy alley, watching several sad old men sifting through garbage cans in search of food. They were long-time drug addicts at the end of their miserable and hopeless lives; their bodies shriveled and wasting away, their souls lost and despairing. No one knew their names or cared whether they lived or died.  As the young woman watched the heartbreaking scene in front of her, she silently said to God, “It would be worth my whole life if I could just reach one of these old men for You, Lord.”

At the peak of her youthful potential, when she had her whole life ahead of her, this young woman was ready to leave it all behind just to lead one hopeless old man to Jesus Christ. Such a self-sacrificing attitude might at first seem foolish to our logical minds.  If we could speak to her, we might say, “You are such a bright and beautiful young lady; don’t throw away your life for the sake of one old man!  Surely there are better ways – bigger ways – for you to make an impact in God’s kingdom!”

But God doesn’t measure success the way we do. Mary of Bethany poured out her most priceless ointment upon the feet of Jesus without applause, recognition or fanfare, and some thought it was a waste.  Yet Jesus said, in essence, “what she has done for me is a picture of the Gospel itself.”  (See John 12:3-8)

The apostle Paul had loads of worldly accomplishments and accolades that he could have been leveraged to gain a bigger platform for his ministry. But only when he was willing to consider his earthly achievements worthless and become a fool for Christ’s sake, was he truly effective as a witness of the Gospel.  (See Phil 3:8, 1 Cor 1:27)

Jesus said that if we cling to our lives, we will lose them, but if we are willing to give up our lives for His sake, we will find true life.  (See Matt 10:39)

Instead of striving to be noticed and appreciated, we are to take an entirely different posture into every area of our life – one of humility and self-denial. Whether we are recognized and applauded, or disregarded and overlooked, it should make no difference to us.  A woman who has truly taken up her cross to follow Christ only cares about knowing Him, and making Him known.

Thanks to Leslie Ludy of Set apart girl for these words of guidance. https://setapartgirl.com/devotional/friend-bridegroom

Love and Fear

I always want to understand what is happening in my life. I can put up with a lot of discomfort and even misery if I know why.

Gideon felt that way. One day the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon and said, “The Lord is with you, Mighty warrior”. “But sir”, Gideon replied, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?'” (Judges 6:12-13). I can relate to that!

Yes, I know in my head that God has promised never to leave me nor forsake me. But if all that is true-and it is- why am  I going through such a hard time? As Gideon put it, “Why has all this happened to me?” When things arenwhy‘t going my way I don’t understand, I begin to be anxious. Fear grips my heart.

John writes something that is very profound, but it will take a little mulling over to appreciate the full meaning. He says, “Perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18). My first impulse is to respond, “No, John, I think you have it wrong. That should read, “Perfect understanding drives out fear’.

If God would just tell me why  I have to deal with this problem or situation, I wouldn’t be afraid….right? But that’s not what John says. He says that perfect love drives out fear-that love is the supreme weapon against fear.

When I truly understand how much God loves me, fear leaves my heart like darkness when the sun rises. That’s because love always says…

  • I want the best for you – always
  • I have in mind your ultimate good, not just your present comfort
  • My love includes discipline, for I care too much for you to allow you to become a spoiled brat

The best thing I can know during a difficult time is that the One who allows that difficulty is the One who loves me more than anyone else does in the whole universe. No, I may not understand the state of affairs, but I know He loves me-deeply- just as He loves you. Fear not, You are loved by God.

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

How Were You Baptized?

Making the decision to be baptized is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. The Bible tells us in the book of John (3:5) that unless we are born of the water, which means baptism, we cannot enter into the kingdom of Heaven.

Peter asks the question in the book of Acts (10:47) can any man forbid water that these should not be baptized? And in Mark (16:16) scripture tells us that whoever believes and is baptized shall be saved. This baptismis pretty important, wouldn’t you agree? There are several scriptures throughout the Bible that inform us just how important baptism is.

There are also many, many scriptures giving us the correct formula in which to baptize. Since baptism is so important, there must be a precise method we should follow. I don’t believe God wants a certain group of people to baptize this way and another group of people to baptize a different way. Why would Christ give us different methods for this, especially if He Himself told Nicodemus that unless you are baptized, you cannot enter into the kingdom?

Ephesians 4:5 says
5) One Lord, one faith, one baptism

I was right, there is only one baptism. Now let’s see what that one baptism is.

If you have spent any time at all in church then you know some baptize “In the name of the father, the son and the holy ghost” and some baptize “In the name of Jesus Christ.” You will even encounter those who baptize “in the name of the father, son, holy ghost AND in the name of Jesus Christ” just to make sure they cover it all.

Continue reading “How Were You Baptized?”