vOn the surface, many observed a sweet Jesus girl who appeared happily married and mothered her children so well. However, under the surface, a volcano was brewing, rumbling and sending out steam, indicating something was seriously wrong. While I longed to be full of the love, peace, and joy promised to those who love Christ, depression, anger, and abusive behavior jerked me around on a chain.
I was a slave to my erratic emotions, desperate for saving from myself. I needed a miracle. Perhaps that’s why I love the story of the demon-possessed man whom Jesus freed in Mark 5:1-20.
What Jesus did for him, is what He also did for me.
1. Jesus welcomed a demon-possessed man into his presence. (vs. 1-2)
In this story found in Mark 5 – we see a man whose physical location, the tombs, mirrored what was going on inside his heart and mind. Scripture tells us he was a man who had the strength to break the chains others put on him. He wailed and purposely cut himself for demons possessed him.
For me - I looked good on the outside, but inside I was a tomb.
- dark, dark thoughts inhabited my mind
- those dark thoughts dictated my erratic emotions and actions
- I self-medicated with prescription drugs and food to numb the pain.
2. Jesus Addressed the Deeper Issues (vs. 3-8)
Villagers tried to control this man's erratic behavior by binding him, but his was a spiritual issue beyond the reach of man's remedies. Jesus went to the root of the problem and commanded the demons to leave (verse 8.)
For me – it was a spiritual issue as well.
I believed that God loved me conditionally, so I subjected myself to an endlessly exhausting pursuit to earn His love. When the Spirit revealed the lie I was shackled by, I asked God to prove to me He loved me unconditionally. To replace the lie, I hungrily poured over the Gospels, seeking to see Jesus with new eyes and renewed faith. I asked for a miracle: to be set free from this lie once and for all.
And, my friend, He did for where unbelief bound me, belief set me free! Woohoo!
3. Jesus Restored Dignity (vs. 15)
Upon Jesus’s arrival that day, He found an unclothed, deranged man. He set this man free, replacing despair with restored dignity. When the villagers flocked to the scene, they were amazed to find him clothed and in his right mind!
For me - I also am a radically different person than I was a decade ago. Jesus has replaced my despair with restored dignity. Because I am in the right mindset, I am balanced and content and joyful. Thank you, Jesus!
My man no longer wonders what kind of woman he's going to come home to at the end of the day. My children no longer live in fear of my anger.
Only Jesus can do that!
4. Jesus Encourages Us to Share this Life-giving Freedom. (vs. 18-20)
Jesus chose to leave when the frightened village people implored Him in verse 18.
Even though the villagers rejected Him, He cared enough for them that He urged the healed man to stay and share the good news with them!
The man obeyed Christ's command. Verse 20 says he went to the Decapolis and testified about the miracle Jesus had performed in His life and of His great mercy.
For me – That is why I’m writing this entry: to proclaim the miracle He produced in me and that He wants to do the same for you! My days of joy and peace far eclipse those of darkness and gloom. Only Jesus!
My friend, to quote Rebecca, "As long as there is breath, there is hope!" It is NEVER too late for a miracle among the living! I am living proof, all because of Jesus and His great mercy upon me! Jesus not only rescued me from the literal hell, but He also rescued me from the living hell I was choosing to live here on earth. He truly is the Miracle Maker!
How about you, my friend? Perhaps you’re still shackled by your own “demons.” Oh, my friend, Jesus wants to set you free! Cry out to the Miracle Maker, and trust Him for a miracle! <3
For further encouragement, read these posts:
Read "Why This Weary World Can Rejoice" here
Read "He Left the 99 to Rescue Me" here.
Tammy Valdivia - Jesus Girl. Wife. Momma. Student. Teacher. Lover of milky coffee, dark chocolate, lively laughter, deep talks, and a front row seat on the beach at sunrise.
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Most of us are familiar with the scene in the Bible where Jesus calls his first two disciples, Peter and Andrew. What had begun as an ordinary day on the lake for these two brothers ended in a rather unordinary way. When Jesus found them, they were washing their nets most likely to get the sea sludge off so that they could return them to the water the next day in hopes of a big catch.
Experienced fishermen and skilled on the deep waters, Peter and Andrew probably believed that they would spend the rest of their lives casting and reeling. The sea was their home, their comfort zone. They had no reason to leave.
Then, Jesus showed up. And, with thirteen words, they left it all behind.
“Come, follow me, and I will send you out to fish for people.” Mark 1:17
Scripture says that they immediately dropped their nets and followed him.
No questions. No hesitations. No wavering back and forth. No goodbyes. No going home to pack a suitcase.
Empty-handed, they followed Him. And, they would go on to follow Him for the rest of their lives.
I have always admired Peter and Andrew’s eagerness to follow Jesus. I have often wondered if I would have done the same if Jesus had found me on the shores of Galilee with net in hand, mouths at home to feed, and the comforts of the sea calling. Would I drop my net just like that at the sound of His command to come? Or, would I clutch my net closely to my chest and tell Him, “Wait!” or “Hold on!” or “I Can’t!”
Would I have the faith to drop everything or would fear keep my feet affixed to the seashore? To this question, I had no way of knowing the answer.
Then, this past spring, on an ordinarily average day, the Lord made the call. He said to my husband and I, “Come, follow me.” And, in that split second response time, the answer to the question that had nagged at me for years came. I looked down...and our hands were empty.
Just like that, we dropped our nets.
Like Simon and Andrew, we weren’t expecting this call. We were quite comfortable where we were. Almost too comfortable. But, when the call came, we just knew it was time to go. I can’t explain it any other way.
The Lord has called us out of the small group (aka our comfort zone) that we are currently thriving in. Life is good in this group. They are the reason why I went from having no friends to having a whole group of friends. Yes, they know where my silverware drawer is. And, they pray for me. They love my children as their own. They enrich our marriage by modeling the love of Christ in their own. They remember my birthday (and celebrate it in grand fashion). They cry with me, sharpen me, sit with me at ballgames, make me belly laugh, and love me bigger, deeper, and wider than any friends have ever loved me before.
Simply put, they have breathed a tremendous amount of life into us.
And now, we are saying hard goodbyes to them. Why? Because we know that the Lord has another group for us. He has called us to a very specific work that cannot be achieved elsewhere. It is also a work that we are all too familiar with: the work of restoring broken lives.
Most of you don't know our story so I'll give it to you in a nutshell:
Once upon a time, a broken boy married a broken girl and together they had a very broken marriage. Hopeless is what some called it. There was only one thing that could save it and His name was Jesus. After many years and feeble attempts of trying to fix it on our own, we finally reached out to Him. And, He reached back to us.
Jesus was the only answer and the only hope for saving our marriage. With His tender touch, He slowly began to put all the broken pieces back together again. My husband and I are now whole, no longer broken. Praise God! But, we realize that there are so many couples out there who remain broken. They are broken and they, too, need hope of being put back together again.
Enter this call and the reason why we immediately dropped our nets.
If our story can save a marriage, sign us up. If small group now looks more like open heart surgery, sign us up. If our home welcomes the couple who is hanging on by a thread, sign us up. If we need to strip off our Sunday School masks and be real, sign us up. If it requires leaving the shallow waters behind and diving into the deep end, sign us up. Whatever it takes, we say, “Yes, Lord. Sign us up.”
We are ready to help carry heavy loads. I want to get a sign for our wall that says, “Your brokenness doesn’t scare us.” And, the reason that it doesn’t scare us is because we’ve been broken, too.
Since that call, the Lord has been moving with great precision and intention in the likes that I have never seen Him move before. Watching Him work, when the only thing that we have contributed thus far have been our “yeses,” has already increased our faith. We have teamed up with another couple who have been as equally broken and as beautifully put back together as we have been. And, their hearts are set on the same thing that ours is set on: the revival and enrichment of marriages.
I sat on my front porch the other day and asked Him, “Why Lord? Why have you been so clear with this calling?” It sounds like a silly thing to ask Him. Don’t we love clarity? Don’t we especially love clarity when it comes to what God’s will for us is?
I can’t say why for sure, but I believe the Lord has given us such clarity, so much that we can trace the deliberate movements of His Hand throughout the past six months since the call was issued, because He is working on a rescue plan for the wives and husbands who are silently crying out to Him right now. They don’t know if there’s any hope for them left. And, He is calling us forth to tell them, “Yes, there is. Just look at us.”
To my local friends, if your marriage is broken…or if it simply needs refocused, refined, or recommitted…pray about dropping your own nets and following Christ as He leads us on this great pursuit to marital hope and wholeness. Our small group will begin meeting on Sunday nights starting mid-October from 5-7pm. Childcare is provided.
To my distant friends, I so wish you could come, too. But, since you can't, I encourage you to find a group or a couple who isn't afraid of your brokenness either and who can guide you well. I can promise you one thing...there is hope. Never give up.
First, I am a child of God. And, like a child, I am always learning and growing. The more I know Him, the more I love Him. Second, I am a wife to a good man. Missions is his thing while teaching women to love God’s Word is mine. Third, I am a mama to three plus a sweet cockapoo who thinks he’s #4. My children are my ongoing sanctification. Fourth, I am a passionate advocate of all things healthy & natural and a dreamer/designer. Old friends call me Becky, newer ones call me Rebecca, and the most intimate ones call me Beck. You can just call me friend.
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The last couple of weeks our family has been decluttering our home. I know...it sounds just as terrible to me! Ha! But when we complete a task, it feels so good!
The problem with me is that I get sidetracked very easily. My husband can clean out an area four times as fast as I can. So as everyone suspected, it happened...mom got sidetracked!
As I was in our attic reminiscing over tubs filled with our daughter's tee ball uniforms and dance costumes, our son's outfit he wore home from the hospital and many other sentimental moments, I stopped in my tracks when I saw an envelope that held prayers and letters of encouragement that I had received over the years, some of them twenty plus years ago.
So there I sat for over an hour reading through each one of them, remembering each person that penned such beautiful words and Scripture. Some of them have already gone to meet Jesus, others I don't see near as often as I used to, but still the same, they were all prayer warriors in specific seasons of my life.
It was so special to read specifically what they were praying over me at that moment in my life, but also what they prayed for my future. Through tears I was thanking the Lord for each of them, because there is no doubt in my mind that I am here writing to you today because they loved me enough to pray for me.
There were phrases such as:
"I pray you will take His love and share it with those He has placed in your path."
"Whatever the future holds for you, I know the Lord has so many lives that you will be touching."
"May you always walk in the knowledge of God's everlasting love, grace and abiding peace."
"Remember you are His, you are a winner, and He is proud of you. He has special plans for your life."
I also read in many of the letters how they were sorry that I had lost my dad at such a young age. That although I didn't understand it at the time, one day the Lord would use it for His glory. They would go on to pray the sweetest prayer over my life.
I can write to you today and confirm that the Lord is so good and so faithful and that He has used it all for His glory!
My spiritually immature self that many years ago probably didn't appreciate the thoughtfulness and steps of obedience that these individuals took.
I am thankful to have had people live out 1 Timothy 2:1
"I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people.
Ask God to help them;
intercede on their behalf,
and give thanks for them."
Do you have prayer warriors in your life? If so, tag them in the comments below.
Are you a prayer warrior for someone? Maybe they don't even know you are praying for them! Tag them in the comments below.
If you don't have someone that you can go to for prayer, become that person for someone else and ask the Lord to send you someone! We would love to pray for you too, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Imagine what our world would be like if we were intentional and lifted each other up to our Savior!
The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective - James 5:16
So you're a Christian. A Christ follower. You love Him, worship Him, talk with Him often, serve hard... At least that was your story.
But, somewhere along the way you got lost. Maybe a bad habit took over and is in control of your life now. Maybe one bad choice after another has led you farther and farther away. Maybe your life just got too busy. That busyness may even be for the Lord. Caring for your family, serving your church and community... However it happened, you now find yourself far away from your Heavenly Father. Things may appear great on the outside, but on the inside you know things are different. The intimacy you once had with Him is gone. You don't talk to Him much anymore because you're ashamed or maybe you're just too busy. You probably even hear that gentle voice inside calling you back into relationship with Him.
I've been there too! It can be a hard place to come back from. But Scripture tells us that heaven rejoices when we return.
Listen to this song as you read!
In Luke 15:3-7 Jesus tells a parable about those who stray.
Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
That gentle voice calling you back is The Holy Spirit who took up residence in your soul the moment you said, "Yes!" to Jesus. You are the lost sheep, and He wants you back. Stop running! Get on your knees, repent if you need to, and thank The Lord for coming after you.
Since He’s pursuing you, stop, turn around and press into Him. Even when you don’t FEEL the desire to read His Word, pray, and praise, return in obedience and the passion will follow. It may take some time. But it will come.
Not sure what to do next? Need some practical advice for how to respond? We have all been here before. Below are a few good resources to help you get back on the right track!
Titanic No More
Who Should Teach Them?
It's Ok to Ask For Help!
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Audra and her husband Jordan are called to ministry and he is the senior pastor at their church. They have two beautiful children who bring them tons of joy, lots of laughs, and on occasion new grey hair. She is a former teacher who still loves to teach, enjoys cooking and baking, and has a passion to lead other women to know Jesus and live out their faith in Him.
In case you missed any posts, here they all are in one place. Enjoy!
In the days to follow, I remember watching as people all over our country were seeking after God. I remember hearing the word "PRAYER" used more in those days than I have in my entire lifetime. People searching the Scriptures longing for hope, longing for something more than this world has to offer. I remember seeing our country unified more than ever.
Now I watch as our country is further from God than it's ever been in my lifetime. How easily we forget God's sovereignty and that He mourned alongside of us. Just like David wrote in Psalm 27, our ultimate hope and comfort is not found in wartime victory or physical safety, but in the goodness of God. Seventeen years later we should not forget. (Continue reading here.)
I recently had a situation that pushed my rejection button. It was all perceived of course, but I was physically tired, obviously spiritually thirsty, and the perceived slight drained all my rational thinking. I was ready to throw in the towel on all I was involved in.
I grasped that my thought pattern was crazy, but I was like a car whose gas light had been on for the last 20 miles. I was running on empty and in the danger zone. Crazy, irrational thoughts railed against all I knew to be true. (Continue reading here.)
Overcomer! by Audra's Mom
Audra's mom, Carmen, shares her story of what the Lord has walked her through in this 4 minute video. May it encourage your heart and mind today of what an awesome God we serve!
Click here for Carmen’s Story
God instructs us to "pray without ceasing," and in His kindness, He has supplied us with a whole book to use to guide us in our prayers! We have many favorites, but here are five passages to get you started. (Continue reading here.)
God instructs us to "pray without ceasing," and in His kindness, He has supplied us with a whole book (the Bible) to use to guide us in our prayers! We have many favorites, but here are five passages to get you started.
Luke 2:52 - Audra's Pick
“And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature,
and in favor with God and man.”
I pray, that like Jesus, my children would grow in wisdom and stature, and favor with God and man.
1 Timothy 4:12 - Laura's Pick
“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young,
but set an example for the believers in speech,
in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.”
Our daughter is ten and we have already seen the Lord use her in mighty ways for His kingdom! I pray she always sets an example through her words and her actions that Jesus is Lord of her life.
Ephesians 6:13-17 - Rebecca's Pick
"Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes,
you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist,
with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith,
with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."
All of my children have received Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. While I rejoice in this knowledge, I am aware that because of this they face the enemy just like I do. Therefore, I frequently pray each piece of the armor of God onto each child so that they will be able to withstand any attacks that they face.
Joshua 1:7 - Tammy's Pick
Above all, be strong and very courageous.
Be careful to observe all the law My servant Moses commanded you.
Do not turn from it to the right or to the left,
so that you may prosper wherever you go.
With every candle my children add to their birthday cake, the call of the world increases. I can fret and try to shelter them, but the most powerful thing I can do for my kiddos is to pray Scripture over them day and night. God loves them so much more than I. I'm so thankful for the peace that truth brings to my momma heart.
3 John 4 - Guest 's Pick
I have no greater joy than this,
to hear of my children walking in the truth.
It’s Audra here today. This week’s Friend Friday is a first for us! She is not only my friend, she’s my mom! Her name is Carmen and this video is her story of what The Lord has walked her through. I hope it will encourage you today!