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A world I can control

By: Carole L. Haines

All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him.
(2 Samuel 14:14 NASB)

“You paint too!” I hear that a lot. It’s one of those precious, quiet-place things I do. I started painting very late in life. I was probably about 40+ years old. We bought a house that had all its old windows replaced. It was a wonderful farmhouse that had raised other families under its caring eaves. I found the old windows in the attic and began to paint on them, just out of nowhere.
We actually had a car stop by with two older women inside one day and they told us they had grown up in that house. We invited them in and learned of their story and the story of some trees planted in our yard. One Black Walnut was planted the day that Franklin Delano Roosevelt died.

But we suffered the loss of that house through job loss, etc. We lost many things through that dark time, but the most poignant loss was the sense of any control whatsoever over our lives. As a mother, you protect your children, as best you can. But we couldn’t protect our youngest from the pain of going through that loss with us. As I sat in a room filled with windows of our new rental home, surrounded by trees, I realized just how little control, if any, I had over anything that happened to us.

I think I broke in that room, I had been cracking, chipping away at layers of false senses of security and control; but that final blow shattered what was left of my sense of security and control. I just sat there, no feelings at all. I had cried every tear my body held and ran out of them before I ran out of grief. My Best Friend saw the change and tried to get me to go to see a Christian Counselor. But being Baltimore-born and raised, I was tough, and felt I should just suck it up and move on like I always did. But this was different, like trying to get up after breaking a leg, and trying to put weight on it. I finally went to a Counselor and when she heard my story, she was blown away at all that we had suffered in a short period of time. She said we had experienced some of the most difficult losses, one right after another.

The Dam in my Heart broke and I literally cried a river. She knew I was a musician and writer, but when she heard I was an artist, she encouraged me to paint out my pain. I laughed inside at the sound of that, but thought, “Why not give it a try?”

Thus began my long journey of painting out my pain. Self-portraits, snapshots of my old home. God led me to listen to other people’s stories and make paintings for them of His Rescue in the midst of their pain. It was a Beautiful thing for me, and I gained back some sense of control. I could paint whatever I wanted, however I wanted, and no one could take that from me. I found solace in a world that I could control, my painting. People have such strong opinions about writing and music. They like you, or they don’t and they feel free to tell you so. But with my painting, I rarely let anyone see them, until recently, when I started feeling led to share them a little more. I’ve had nothing but encouraging words about them, and that blessed me a lot. It’s been a long road back to wholeness, and I will never reach its end ‘til I am with Him. But The Lord is good, and He gave me a verse in the midst of all my loss that I go back to over and over again.

All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him.
(2 Samuel 14:14 NASB)

He devised my way back. He will devise yours too.

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Jesus throws our sins away

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by: Carole L. Haines

Children have a way of teaching us the deepest truths just by being children. Trusting, believing, wonderful little people that they are. I love working with them, though there are days that they certainly outmatch my energy. One day was particularly hard with a child in my class. This child is both one of the sweetest and one of the most difficult children I teach, both enthusiastic and strong-willed. The defiance this day was as thick as a rope and I had done everything to curb it; taken all her prize points, one by one, privileges that the other children shared. The director came and spoke with her, so finally, I wrote a long litany to the parents about this child’s behavior. I listed every wrong. After a time, the child calmed down, told me she was sorry, hugged me, and all was right. She asked for her privileges and such back, but they were gone. We moved on from there and as it came closer to the time she would leave, I looked at the letter and felt prompted to show her how God treats us.

I called her over, read the letter to her, and then told her I wanted her to know what grace and mercy were. I told her the Jesus died to take away our sins and when we ask His forgiveness, he forgives us, and he throws our sins away. I tore the letter up in front of her and said, “I forgive you, and like Jesus, I want you to throw this letter in the trash.”
Her eyes lit up like fireflies and she said, ” You’re not going to tell My Mom?”
“No, this is the end of it. Just throw that away and we’re done, just like Jesus does.”
“Yeah!” she said, “Jesus throws our sins away too!” and she dropped the torn-up letter in the trash and went skipping off back to play.

Tears welled up in my eyes as I realized just how freeing it is to actually, whole-heartedly believe the truth that Jesus really does throw our sins away.

How many sins am I still holding against myself or someone else? Jesus died to set me from these sins, both my own and those others have committed against me. I don’t have to carry these around inside me anymore. I don’t have to read that old letter written about me by someone else or believe what they say about me. I don’t have to go through all this self-condemnation for all the mistakes I have made, all the sins I have committed in the past. If I have confessed my sins to Jesus, and I believe in my heart that He is my Forgiver, my Savior and my Lord, I can walk freer, and skip off to finish the rest of my life without all this baggage.

God Is Light

This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.

I have learned more about grace and forgiveness working as a teacher to these precious children, then I ever learned in a church. Truly, the little ones will lead us. I thank God for such a privilege, as teaching these little ones is. I truly have the best job in the world.

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Prisoner of Unforgiveness

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By: Carole L. Haines

I have stayed a prisoner to my unforgiveness and didn’t even know it. I should have known it. I’m sure God tried to tell me a million times, the Holy Spirit urging me to truly forgive from my heart, but I didn’t listen. I wanted to pick at the wounds, demand my rights, wallow in self-pity. The wounds festered, they grew infected, and spread everywhere throughout my bloodstream. I never thought about it like this before, but God’s Word tells us:
23 Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life. (Prov. 4:23)

In the body, the heart is what carries the blood to all the organs and such, enabling us to think, and do all we do. But if there is an infection in the bloodstream, stemming from the heart, it will carry that poison throughout all the rest of our being and infect everywhere.
Guard means to:

  1. to watch, guard, keep
  2. to preserve, guard from dangers
  3. to keep, observe, guard with fidelity
  4. to guard, keep secret
  5. to be kept close, be blockaded
  6. watchman (participle)
    (Blue Letter Bible BLB)

I have not done these things when it comes to forgiveness. I have let unforgiveness run riot throughout my body by holding it in my heart. I kept asking God to restore unto me the joy of Salvation, this was His answer to me. The person I have needed to forgive more than anyone else, is myself. I still have much to let go of toward others, but God made it clear to me, that my greatest grudge was toward myself. He showed me that to forgive as He forgives us includes forgiving ME.

  1. The heart means: inner man, mind, will, heart, understanding, mind, knowledge, thinking, reflection, memory
  2. inclination, resolution, determination (of will)
  3. conscience, seat of emotions and passions (BLB)

All these parts of myself became infected by my unforgiveness. My will, my heart, my emotions, my understanding, my memories, my conscience. All infected, all disturbed and twisted by unforgiveness.

Dearest Lord Jesus, Have mercy on me, an unforgiver. You have touched me at the sorest spot, and I run to you for the strength to forgive fully from my heart. Nothing is impossible with You. I see now. Help me to do the deep work of forgiveness toward all, holding nothing back. Please empower me, as I know You have given me. Please give me the want to and the desire to, forgive from my heart, as You have forgiven me. Amen

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How could we not recognize Him

by: Carole L. Haines

Watching MOVING ART New Zealand. Such beauty overwhelms my mind and ignites all my senses. How can we stare in the face of Nature at her most glorious and not recognize the fingerprint of God in every crevice and canyon? Yet in the glories of such pondering, even more stunning are the Words penned by John in His Gospel:

10 He was in the world,
and the world was created through Him,
yet the world did not recognize Him.
11 He came to His own,
and His own people did not receive Him.

(John 1:10-11)

He came, He walked, He meandered our streets, pulling at our hearts, drawing us toward Himself. Drawing us to the Father, and yet we did not see Him, we did not know Him. Our creator, who formed our inward parts and knit us together in our mother’s womb. How did we miss You, our Precious Lord, Creator and Savior? How could we not see You, Lord, when you came down to dwell among us? How could we not have Known the one who made us? The One who fashioned us to be who we are and bent down to earth to become one of us; so as to take all of our sins and rebellion upon Himself. Our sins had so marred our frames and hearts, yet you died and rose again to free us, to save us, to make us whole.  Forgive our blindness, Lord God, and open us to receive You fully now and forevermore. Amen

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Transformational Forgiveness

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by: Carole L. Haines

God showed me something very powerful recently. A close relative was coming to visit and I started to have all kinds of resentment and anxiety about that. Feelings of anger over things they had done in the past began to surface and before I knew it, I was mad at them before they even got here. When they arrived, I realized that the person that I was mad at didn’t even exist anymore, Jesus has so transformed them that they truly are a new creature in Christ. As believers, we are in a state of constant transformation. Who I was yesterday differs even from who I am today. God’s Word tells us that in 2 Corinthians 5:17.

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!

However, context is so important. This whole section of Scripture says:

 16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.”

Wow! From now on, as we look at one another in the Body of Christ, we are never to regard each other from a worldly, or fleshly point of view. Christ is transforming us all from the inside out. We may look the same but we are not the same at all. We are given the Ministry of reconciliation. God is reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. We do not have the right to look at our brothers and sisters from a point of view that is not held by God Himself. We only have a right to see others as He sees them.

My visit with this close relative went wonderfully and I found that not only has God transformed them, but me as well. We are truly new creatures in Christ and He is our Savior and transformer. Believe this for yourself, and Your Fellow Companions in Christ. This truth has been so freeing for me, that I felt God wanted me to share it with you all. Be Blessed.

 

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The Hand that made them

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By: Carole L. Haines

In The Gospel of John, there is one of the saddest statements ever penned.

10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. (John 1: 10-11 NIV)

The Creator of the World, the one through whom all things were made came here and many did not even recognize the hand of their Creator. Just who is this Hand of God who spoke the world into existence? Do we see His hand as the fingers writing on the wall, sealing our doom; or as the Hand that made us? What does the Hand of God have to do with me? Shall I kiss it or refuse it? Shall I spit on it or take it firmly into mine? Will I follow where He leads me or will I break away and try to do it my own way, in my own strength? It’s not usually all or nothing in answering these questions. Some tend to call on God when they have come to the end of themselves. While others commune with Him daily in a wonderful relationship. Still some spurn Him as the enemy of their freedom. But Jesus is our Creator and so much more than that.

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:14-17 NIV)

My heart weeps when I read the above passage in John 1. I have come to know Jesus as my precious and loving Creator, Savior and Friend. It actually hurts me when I think that some of those I love don’t know Him and don’t seem to want to. I pray for them often, but I can’t make them see Him as I see Him. I am powerless to open their eyes to the precious Hand that made and fashioned them into who they are. He filled them with all their potential and gifts, their personality and talents. But God directs us to pray for those who do not know Him yet. Don’t you love that word, YET? Just the sound of it inspires hope of a future fulfillment of our desire for our loved ones to walk with Jesus. His Word tells us how to pray for them. Here is one example of how to pray for your loved ones to come to know and treasure God, and the Hand that fashioned them.

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,[e] 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you[f] to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
(Colossians 1:9-14)

Sometimes I feel so helpless to reach those I love with Christ’s message of hope. They have ceased to listen to me. But God has His ways of reaching them and loving them beyond all that I could ever do. My call is to pray for them and to trust the Spirit to do His work in their hearts. I just place their names in the Scripture above and pray it over them. Perhaps you are feeling a deep desire for people you love to know Jesus. Pray this over them often, it brings hope and encouragement to us, and is filled with the Power of God toward them. Be Blessed.

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Works of Grace

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Photo by: Cody J. Haines

by: Carole L. Haines

Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. (Galatians 5:2-6)

When I read the underlined phrase above, The Spirit pricked my conscience about my number one stumbling block… people pleasing. Circumcision, for myself, represents a faith based on works rather than God’s Grace through Christ. When we look at verse 4, we can see that whenever we are trying to be justified in any way by whatever our own circumcision is, we have fallen away from grace.

Now does this mean that we have lost our Salvation? Of course not, I believe it means that we have shifted from living the life of faith, in that particular area, from grace into works. We begin to try to produce works based on abilities of the flesh instead of relying on Christ for His works of Grace produced within and through us. Now I am sure some will argue with me about this, and it is certainly not doctrine. But I sensed so strongly from the Lord this morning, that to try to please others instead of Him, alienates us from the Grace of God to live for Him alone, through His strength.

When I looked up the Original Greek for the words, fallen away and alienated, it really gave greater insight into what this passage actually means. To have fallen away can mean to have been driven off course, to have become inefficient, to become of no effect, to become powerless. 

Christ makes this very clear Himself throughout Chapter 15, of John’s Gospel.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me. (John 15:5)

To rely on the approval of others or even on our own talents and strengths, is tantamount to circumcision in the Jewish Law. Now that is a strong statement, but it is what I sensed the Lord saying to me this morning, so I am sharing that with you.

He uses others and our gifts and strengths, but always through Christ, and under the umbrella of His Grace. Fruit bearing is beyond us, unless we stay strong in the Vine, as a branch, where He can easily flow through us and produce His Fruit.

Looking back at our original Scripture in Galatians 5, it fits perfect here to close with verse 6: For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

So rest in Him, Dear Believers. Stay close to Him, and He will produce Beautiful Fruit through your life. The only thing that counts is faith in Jesus expressing itself through love.

 

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