A Look Back on 2018

My phrase for the beginning of 2018 was Defined By God.  I am amazed that every year I've done these phrases and posts - that when I go to look back on them at the end of the year - it truly did define that year!  This WAS the year that I became defined by God and God alone!  I had great personal and spiritual growth, probably more so in one year than I've ever had.

I let God cleanse me of the poison of the past.  I arose above others' definitions and characterizations of me that were untrue.  I broke the spiritual barriers that had been in my life for so long preventing me from reaching the place God wanted me to be.  I became even more aware of our destiny as I received 2 prophesies personally from the Lord through my Pastor.  I can't even hardly begin to tell you what God has done in our lives - I'm amazed and humbled.

I remember the first time I ever got a prophesy about me was from a doctor (of all people right?).  It was when we first came to Ohio at a doctor visit.  I felt the Holy Spirit moving and then the doctor began to speak a prophesy on me about my destiny.  It was one of the most amazing things I've ever experienced and something we NEVER had in the previous 18 years since being saved.  I can tell you now, 2 years after that prophesy, it has proved trueThis year of 2018, I received 2 prophesies - one in April and one actually just last night!  Both of these came through my Pastor by the Holy Spirit.  I've only to date had 3 prophesies to me in my entire life, other than things my mom declared about my life in church growing up that the Lord had showed her that I would marry a preacher.

These 2 prophesies I received this year were major turning points in my life!  I needed to hear them and God knew that!  I think how much better my life would have been, had they been allowed in former times but God knew where to bring us.  According to the most recent prophesy to me last night, something major is coming my way in a good way.  God promised me something years ago and I'm getting ready to step into that, I can feel it!

Our Pastor told the church recently about the vision he had several years ago,  and the interpretation of it from a preacher in another state; that he didn't even tell about the vision but God gave it to him and the meaning - and how when we walked in the church for the first time, the Pastor said God told him, that's them!  God truly sent us to this city for 2 purposes - one was our former Pastor, who I saw go through sad things and who had a heart of gold and was the one who helped me step into my spiritual gift fully and embrace it.  I also watched God set him free in many ways.  God also set us free in many ways.  Then, the 2nd Pastor God led us to and the destiny that we entered in to.  I've seen my husband break off the cloak of barriers that prevented direct access to God and seen him trust the Holy Spirit's leading for himself.  I've seen God promote him and I've seen him step into his call to preach again.  We've seen our daughter stand up and testify, and we've testified!  Something we didn't get to do for 18 years and that, in itself, is a tragedy!  We now enjoy freedom and liberty in Christ and see what church looks like when the Holy Spirit is allowed in all His fullness to orchestrate the service.  I wouldn't trade it for anything.

God defined me this year through the prophesies He sent!  I truly became DEFINED BY GOD - and Him alone!  No more letting others determine my worth, my value and who I am in God - God had had enough and He has chosen to make this past year, a year of defining in truth.

When Your Light Offends

You can try and be the sweetest, nicest person in the world but if you are truly born-again and a light for Jesus, you will offend others by the sheer light in you that invades their darkness.  You don't have to do anything.  You don't have to say anything.  Just the fact that you are light is all that is needed to make others hate you!

John 3:19-20
And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.  For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 

Matthew Henry's commentary for this scripture really speaks!  You will find people will not want you around because just you being there makes them feel bad!

The true reason why men love darkness rather than light is because their deeds are evil. They love darkness because they think it is an excuse for their evil deeds, and they hate the light because it robs them of the good opinion they had of themselves, by showing them their sinfulness and misery. Their case is sad, and, because they are resolved that they will not mend it, they are resolved that they will not see it.

I've found that you can never be right in some people's eyes, you will never be good enough or say things correctly and even the lack of you saying things will be wrong as well.  See, when you have the light, it is unbearable to those that choose to live in darkness.  Only when you step over to the darkness will you be accepted too.  So quit trying to appease everyone!  You are going to be hated.  You are going to despised.  You are going to have enemies.  You are going to suffer wrong.  You are going to be talked about.  You are going to be falsely accused.  Just stand and endure for Christ!

Quit casting your precious pearls before swine to trample on - that's the message God has for us today.  A lot of times God tries to protect us from hurtful people or situations, yet we constantly run after them seeking their love and approval because we are so needy.  In some situations, we should have had their love and approval, but we are in sad world of sin and robbed of that.  Quit running after them.  Quit chasing their approval.  Quit trying to make them love you!  Accept that you have done all you could, even more than you should have - and let go.

When you get to that place in your life when you truly let go, you will find your healing!  Your recovery will begin and you will be a much better person emotionally.  Jesus told us this would happen, even with those we love and think should never happen with:

Matthew 10:22; 34-36
And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.; ... Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.  For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.  And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. 

Christ's light divides from the darkness - you can't mix the two!  Those in darkness will not be able to even stand to be around you, you are making them feel bad - go away they may say!!  If you can comfortably walk with those in darkness, then you may need to question if you really have the light.

2 Corinthians 6:14
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

Don't be surprised when your light offends, it comes with the territory!  Strive and do your best to keep peace with all men with all that lieth in you, right?  But, realize that you are blinding to those in darkness and you make them feel uncomfortable just by your very presence.  It isn't you - it's Christ they are rejecting and we are called to endure to the end.

Message to Young Women From a Feminist Career Woman

This is great advice for young women from a feminist who, sadly, has learned that feminism is indeed a lie, not so much just a lie... but a spirit that destroys women as it destroys society and the order of God's creation!  You can listen to the Dennis Prager radio call or read the transcript at the link below:

Transcript Link

Spiritual Gifts Don't Prove The Person - Fruit Does!

I have seen people follow individuals just because of the great spiritual gift(s) they have, assuming that they MUST be right to have such a gift and such miracles.  However, that is a dangerous road of assumption.  God gives gifts and callings and they never go away - even when the person walks away from God and sins.  They still have the gift or calling!  (Romans 11:29)  That is why we are told in God's Word to rather, judge a tree by its fruits:

Matthew 7:15-16

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.  Ye shall know them by their fruits.

Don't look at the signs and wonders, the gifts, the miracles, great speech, etc. - LOOK at the fruit of that person's life!  Do they show love?  Meekness?  Self-Control?  Gentleness? etc.  It has been said with cults, never look at their beliefs or doctrine, as some can have their doctrine just exactly right - rather, look at their ACTIONS!  What do they do?  Are they full of the fruits of the spirit?  Most of the time cults are not, they are controlling, manipulative and use guilt tactics to have power over people in a lording sort of way, which God forbids!  It is actually the spirit of witchcraft these cults use as witchcraft is making others do what you want them to do.  God doesn't even do that as He made us with a free will!  The Holy Spirit sure doesn't do that.  Yet, some cults, even in the name of Christ, will use witchcraft to make people do what they want.  And usually, they were started by a man who had some great gift or calling at one time yet fell to something - whether it was adultery, pride, etc. and people followed the man because of his great gift or calling, and blindly continued to follow in idolatry.

This is why as you read of many of the miraculous leaders throughout our time, people wonder HOW they could have done those miracles and yet live in sin at the same time.  Think of Jim Jones, he was a very great man in the beginning, as there are people that can attest to that who knew him and followed him.  However, he went out of his mind at some point and was overcome with the spirit of witchcraft to control people.  You may know the rest of the story, how these idolators did everything he said, even drinking the kool-aid and they died.  You can NOT follow a man, you only follow him as he follows God and if he stops following God and starts using Satan's ways of control, etc. - RUN!!  We are commanded by God to watch out for these false prophets by judging them against God's Word and that is why people fall to cults of all kinds - they didn't count God's Word or His Holy Spirit as #1!

Think of what wolves do.  They attack the sheep.  They tear them apart.  They ruin the flock!  They fleece and waste the sheep.  If you really think on that and compare your Pastor to that, you will know if you are truly under a wolf.  I'm thankful that my Pastor does none of that and never has to anyone in his 49 years of preaching the gospel!  He rather has the fruits of the spirit and is a gentle man but don't be fooled - he can preach hard things and rebuke but does it in love and you don't feel attacked by Satan but rather convicted by the Holy Spirit.  Thank God for Godly Pastors that love, care and feed their flock!!  God tells us what a true Pastor will be like:

1 Peter 5:2-3
Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;  Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. 

The Bible clearly warns us about signs and wonders and clearly warns us that even the VERY ELECT could be deceived!  Satan is able, as was shown by the Egyptian magicians in the OT, to operate signs and wonders.

Matthew 24:24
For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. 

Mark 13:22
For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. 

We already saw that Satan has the ability to do signs and wonders, that is why we must not follow after those things alone!  Come on, read your Bible and don't be deceived! 

On the flip side, we need to respect those with spiritual gifts and allow them to be used in the church, as this is what God created the church to work like!  If you go to a church that doesn't allow anyone in the congregation to exercise spiritual gifts, guess what!?  You are in a cult!  Of course they wouldn't want people to use their spiritual gifts, most especially those with the spirit of discernment - because then, they would be found out for what they are!  They would be exposed to be the false prophets that they are.  Therefore, it makes much sense that those with the spirit of discernment are the hardest hit by Satan.  Satan is well-aware of their gift and knows who has it!  He will do all he can do to discredit that person so their discernments are not allowed or received.  With the other gifts, don't worship that individual for the great things that are done through them, but rather let their gift help the flock.

Find a church that allows the spiritual gifts to operate!  Each church will have all the gifts, as God is the one that gives them out to whom He chooses.  Next, don't follow after some man (or woman), just because of their great spiritual gift or oration abilities!  Measure your Pastor always by God's Word and if he veers off course and doesn't change, find another one.  We are nearing the end, if not there already - and must be watchful and mindful and know God's Word for ourselves because we won't be judged by what so-and-so said, we will be judged by the Word of God, which we had access to.  If you go to church where the Pastor is threatened by your questions or expects you to take his word for it and not search the scriptures - RUN!  You found a false prophet.  A true man of God, will rather encourage you to search the Bible and he won't have a narcissistic-ego that is offended that you would question him.  Think of fruits - it will tell the tree!

Why Wives Work - Unbelief

What is the basis, the real reason why a woman, who has an able-bodied husband to provide for her - would go to work?  You could say greed, covetousness, etc. but the true basis is that of UNBELIEFThey don't believe or have faith in God to follow His Word and live on their husband's income.  They have decided rather to take matters into their hands and make it happen.  Instead of being dependent upon God and His Word, they rather play God and become independent and put themselves under another man's headship besides their husband.

Faith does God's Word and falls into line with the roles we were made to follow.  Faith depends upon God to provide, not ourselves as women.  Faith shows the world that God's Word is true and you can depend upon Him!  No wonder God says women can cause the Word of God to be blasphemed.  By not following His Word - they are encouraging the world, the unsaved, to be independent upon themselves and not dependent upon God.  Titus 2:5

Clark says it well:

That the word of God be not blasphemed - The enemies of the Gospel are quick-eyed to spy out imperfections in its professors; and, if they find women professing Christianity living an irregular life, they will not fail to decry the Christian doctrine on this account: “Behold your boasted religion! it professes to reform all things, and its very professors are no better than others! Our heathenism is as good as your Christianity.” These are cutting reproaches; and much they will have to answer for who give cause for these blasphemies.

When people ask me how we do it without me working and how we've done it for almost 19 years now, the answer is easy - I have FAITH in God.  Sure, I could definitely take things into my hands and get a career but for what end?  To have more stuff?  To have a bigger house to store more stuff?  To be a money lover?  To see my kids tossed on someone else to school and babysit?  To cause the Word of God to be blasphemed by showing I have no faith it can be done God's way?  Why in the world would I want that!?

I trust God and have always trusted God to provide by following His Word and His model for a wife and it has proved blessed.  I would rather have God (and my husband and children) smile on me than have the acclaim of others by what career I had or what awards I had.  I've already been down that road.  I had many awards in my short military career, advanced fast and was set for a successful career in the world's eyes.  I had a choice when I got saved and then got married - I could either continue my selfish desires or I could submit myself to my husband as the head and to God's Word for wives.  I chose God's way!

Pray to God to help your evil heart of unbelief and start believing in faith that God can provide your needs through His master plan for the husband and wife and family!!  Show the world through your life and your faith that there IS something different.  Don't allow your independence and unbelief to blaspheme God's Word to the lost!  Either He is your God or He isn't!  Either His Word works or it doesn't!

Self-Lovers & Money-Lovers

When we look at the end times signs of 2 Timothy 3, we find a long list of what shall become of mankind and it isn't a pretty picture.  How evident these things are today but sadly, they are accepted as the norm!  Notice the first 2 things listed are self-lovers and money-lovers:

2 Timothy 3:2
For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous...

If there ever was a time in history when we see self-love, it is now!  Take Facebook for instance, there are those who constantly change their profile pic to yet another pose of themselves constantly.  If having a picture of yourself wasn't enough, changing several times a week is overload.  Sadly, it is here - a culture that is full of itself.

Matthew Henry put it well in his commentary:

Self-love brings in a long train of sins and mischiefs. When men are lovers of themselves, no good can be expected from them, as all good may be expected from those who love God with all their hearts. When covetousness generally prevails, when every man is for what he can get and for keeping what he has, this makes men dangerous to one another, and obliges every man to stand on his guard against his neighbour. 

Self-love is a close relative of money-love, they kind of go hand in hand.  When all you think about is your SELF, you tend to not think of others and their plight.  You will build your bigger barns and look to your own luxury and never consider that you could help someone in need.  You will have 5 coats (or shoes ladies!) and your brother in the Lord barely has 1 with holes in it - instead of buy or give him a coat, you will talk about him behind his back.  This shouldn't be so among those in the faith!

John Gill's commentary states it this way:

...who only love themselves; their love to God, and Christ, and to the saints, being only in pretence, not in reality; and who do all they do in a religious way, from a principle of self-love, and to selfish and mercenary ends; either to gain glory and applause from men, or to merit something for themselves at the hands of God, without any view to the glory of God, the honour and interest of Christ, and the good of others;

You obviously need to love yourself to love others but you don't grossly over-love yourself to the point you are full of yourself.  Let God be first in your life by loving Him and then love your neighbor as yourself and you will never find yourself on the wrong road!

Love, Mercy and Forgiveness

I have many that have lied on me, wronged me, falsely accused me, discredited me, smeared my name and so forth, but I'm reminded that although the flesh would've like to seek vengeance and vindication - the love of God restrained me.  Instead, with each hurt, I grew in mercy and forgiveness for the wrongdoer.  If you do this, you will never become bitter!  It won't matter what they say about you, what they do to you...  you will grow in the perfect love of Christ and share in His sufferings.

I'm reminded of the great love chapter, Corinthians 13, and how it tells us that the first thing we should seek above all is what?  LOVE (charity)!  You can have a lot of things but if you don't have love - you're nothing God says!  The first commandment is to love God and the second is to love thy neighbour as thyself.  It goes on to say in Romans:  Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.   Think about that for a while.

Even when someone does wrong to us and never says they are sorry, we are still to have mercy and forgive them.  If they were true Christians, they would follow the Bible and come to you and work it out!  I've always found that those who can't say they are sorry, are not real Christians, they are wolves in sheep's clothing and they will only do more harm to you and others.  We should pray for them as they are truly, our enemies.  They may have the spirit of narcissism, which comes along with a lot of religious leaders unfortunately, supposing that they themselves are God.  They seek their own worship, they are never wrong and they will discredit anyone that threatens their worshipers from idolizing them.  This one is easy - find a Godly Pastor who doesn't humiliate you to correct you, doesn't use his pulpit to slander others and does all things in the spirit of love, and you will stay far from the spirit of narcissism, but most importantly a false prophet!

But what about the friends that believe the lies?  Well, it is a good time that you found out that some people will believe a lie way before they believe the truth!  Or as the adage goes - A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.  Ain't that the truth!?  You will find that true friends will find both sides of the story and pray and seek God before they react.  Anyone that doesn't - count it a blessing from God that they are removed from your life!  God has saved me a lot of trouble in my life by this very thing, He knows how to weed out the tares!

It isn't up to us to seek vengeance.  God sees it all!  Every word, every slander, every false accusation - God sees it all.  It may hurt to be lied on unjustly but we will find our healing in mercy and forgiveness.  We can't allow the root of bitterness to spring up in us and defile us!  That is what Satan would want but we can rather, grin and bear it - stay sweet in our souls and pray that others will repent in time and come to know true Godly love.  Maybe, just maybe, our correct love response will bring them to shame for their evil, we could only hope.

Families Benefit from Tax Plan

I was playing around with some numbers on the new drafted tax forms from the IRS for this coming tax season of 2018.  It is pretty amazing how great Trump's new tax plan from last year is for families.  It is especially great for families with more than 3 kids but those with 2 kids will also find great savings.

For the typical family of 4, that includes 2 children, you actually will pay NO federal tax at all until your household income reaches $60K.  Then, for every $5K after that, you will pay on average $600 or 12% as shown below.  However, if you go into the next tax bracket past $78,950, your tax increases to 22%.

2-dependent child tax credit households making:

$60,000 and below = NO federal income tax owed
$65,000 = $600
$70,000 = $1200
$75,000 = $1800

If you have a 3rd child, you may even qualify for an additional child tax credit, which means the government will actually PAY you for having that child despite you not paying a dime in federal income tax.  Some may say that isn't fair but it is!  By having children, you are helping the government by adding another taxpayer.  It is great the government is finally giving back - oh, thanks to Marco Rubio who added this child tax credit increase at the last minute before the bill passed.

It isn't all roses, even though you may not pay federal income tax, you still must pay about 13% in other taxes:

  • Social Security tax - 6.2% of income
  • Medicare tax - 1.45% of income
  • State Income Tax - Ohio's is 2.6% on most families
  • City Income Tax - if you live in a state that taxes the city you work in, you pay up to 2.5% of income
  • School Tax - again, if you live in a district that taxes you, you pay average of 1% of income tax

So for a family making close to $60K - you may pay upwards of $7,800 in other income taxes.

*Averages are based upon a typical one income earner, married filing jointly, with W2 wages only and no contributions to HSA, retirement, etc.  Calculation short list: Income - $24,000 standard deduction = taxable income; tax - child tax credits of $4,000 for 2 children = 0 tax owed