Lent – 40 Day Journey of God’s Renewal

“Aren’t you, like me, hoping that some person, thing, or event will come along to give you that final feeling of inner well-being you desire? Don’t you often hope: ‘May this book, idea, course, trip, job, country or relationship fulfill my deepest desire.’ But as long as you are waiting for that mysterious moment you will go on running helter-skelter, always anxious and restless, always lustful and angry, never fully satisfied. You know that this is the compulsiveness that keeps us going and busy, but at the same time makes us wonder whether we are getting anywhere in the long run. This is the way to spiritual exhaustion and burn-out. This is the way to spiritual death.”
 ― Henri J.M. Nouwen, Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World

There is something beautiful about the 40 days of Lent. There is peace. joy. giving. love. All that makes up the characteristics of God Almighty. There is nothing sweeter than the presence of God. Daily Bible Reading. Staying Connected to Him in prayer throughout the day. I love talking to him about everything and knowing that he cares about everything that concerns me.

I’m willing to give up the things that are wasteful and useless and in place draw closer to him without all the noise that fills up my days.

Lent for me is a time of surrender, giving it all up for the One Who gave His Life for me. It is a time of renewal, reflection of what Christ did for me and mankind.

It is more than just not eating certain things or doing certain tasks, it is depending on him for all that my heart desires.

It’s a time to check my heart condition and I’m not talking about the physical heart but the emotions the conditions of my soul.

It is a time of me giving my pains, disappointments to God and asking him to heal me and fill me with his love because nothing else will do.

It is a time of letting go and letting God love me.

As long as I keep running about asking: “Do you love me? Do you really love me?” I give all power to the voices of the world and put myself in bondage because the world is filled with “ifs.” The world says: “Yes, I love you if you are good-looking, intelligent, and wealthy. I love you if you have a good education, a good job, and good connections. I love you if you produce much, sell much, and buy much.” There are endless “ifs” hidden in the world’s love. These “ifs” enslave me, since it is impossible to respond adequately to all of them. The world’s love is and always will be conditional. As long as I keep looking for my true self in the world of conditional love, I will remain “hooked” to the world-trying, failing,and trying again. It is a world that fosters addictions because what it offers cannot satisfy the deepest craving of my heart.”

“solitude begins with a time and a place for God, and God alone.  If we really believe not only that God exists but also that God is actively present in our lives– healing, teaching and guiding– we need to set aside a time and space to give God our undivided attention.  (Matt 6:6)”

As I continue with the reamining of the 40 days,  I will do what will create more room for goodness and give room for God to come in.

His Truly,

El

All I need is Jesus and a good pair of jeans

I’m currently loving and may I say hooked on Susanna Foth Aughtmon ‘s blog Confessions of a tired supergirl and re read her book All i need is Jesus and a good pair of jeans almost three times in one week. It’s that good! She has me laughing and crying at the same time with her honesty and humor.

She will be the guess speaking at Media City Church Arise Women’s Conference next Friday and Saturday. I’m so excited about it as this will my very first Women’s Conference. If you’re in the Burbank area, check out the link for more info and come check her out. You will love it and don’t want to miss it. Arise Women’s Conference

I want to leave you with a little taste of Susanna’s writing from her book All I need is Jesus and a good pair of Jeans.

We tired girls like to have a system. We are looking to make our lives meaningful by the things we do, whereas Jesus’ life was meaningful because of who he was. The things he did, the miracles he performed, the teachings he gave, the love that he poured from him, came from the fact that his whole being was immersed in the presence of God, all day, every day. And the whole process of being, jailed, crucified and resurrected from the dead means that we can also be immersed in the presence of God, all day, every day. Since Jesus took on our sinfulness and gave us his righteousness, there is nothing keeping us from hanging out with God, being available to Him and being who God meant us to be. We no longer have to try to cram him into one neat little section of our day; we can let him overflow into every nook and cranny of the year. We can open ourselves up to his direction, his presence, his peace from Monday in the office through Sunday evening small group. We don’t have to rely on what other people think we should be doing our how much time we should allot to our spiritual upkeep. (101-102)

Time with God is about healing and giving life, not about keeping rules or maintaining others’ expectations.

Grace,

El

 

Lead Me, Holy Spirit

One of my favorite authors and teachers in faith is Stormie Omartian One of the women whom I admire and look up to. She has written many books on power of prayer that have sold million copies. Recently I purchased her latest book called Lead Me, Holy Spirit. It was so refreshing, I read 120 pages in one setting and wouldnt ‘t have put it down if I didn’t have to.

It’s so important for us to know the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We pray in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit but aren’t mindful of how God is near and wants to be a part of our daily lives and guide us into the life He has for us. When we read the book of Acts in the Bible and are amazed at the work of the Holy Spirit that’s done through the disciples what we fail to realize is that we can do the same kind of work int he kingdom of God because we’re given the Holy  Spirit if we believe in Jesus.

Many people are fearful of the works of God or His Spirit because they have heard creepy church stories. I personally have not seen anything freaky or creepy about our church or the things who believe in God do. I’ve actually been able to see how the Holy Spirit has brought joy during difficult times and has given peace in place of fear and has transformed lives, including my own.

The most important thing is God doesn’t tranform us to some alien “spiritual” creepy mystical being, yet He makes us more like ourselves so we don’t walk aroud with masks on and pretending to be someone we’re not.

Here is what the book looks like if you’re interested and I wanted to share Stormie’s video about the book below.

Lead me, Holy spirit

Love and Blessings,

Elle

Divorcing Religion

If anyone thinks himself  to be religious (piously observant of the external duties of his faith) and  does not bridle his tongue but deludes his own heart, this person’s religious  service is worthless (futile, barren). —James 1:26

Sometimes it seems that religion is killing people. There  are many who are seeking a relationship with God, but the religious community  tells them what they need to “do” in order to be acceptable to Him. This   religious spirit was alive in Jesus’ day, and even though He died to put an end  to it and bring people into close personal relationship with Himself, the Holy  Spirit, and the Father, that same spirit still torments people to this day—if  they don’t know the truth.

Religion says, “You must find a way, no matter how  impossible it may seem. You had better follow the rules or suffer punishment.”  But relationship says, “Do your best because you love Me. I know your heart.   Admit your faults, repent of your mistakes, and just keep loving Me.” – Joyce Meyer

Being an Armenian and from the first nation to accept Christianity, Armenia – we as people are much more religious than we are in a relationship with the God we claim to believe. We follow man-made traditions we have created like baby christening for the name of God but are clueless to know God and what baptism means to Him in our Lord Jesus Christ. For instance the Bible says

water baptism, as taught and demonstrated by Jesus, as the way for
believers to identify with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.

We live in motions of going to church maybe for Christmas but for sure Easter, and doing other stuff on the side like wearing the evil eye charms but are not living lives that reflect our beliefs in fact it almost contradicts everything written.

I was raised in a home that taught right from wrong and was taught to believe that no matter what I do God is watching me. I was given the idea that in order for God to love me, I had to be good and if I wasn’t, I should be expected to be punished. Not knowing the truth, I lived in fear and torment whenever I did make a mistake or didn’t live up to the rules and standards that my parents had made for me. Just like everyone else, we actually practice withcraft without knowing it like reading cups, cards, wearing evil eye jewelary, hanging from our car, cross hanging at our house and our necks but No Christ in our hearts or seen in our Lives.

It wasn’t until after high school, that I decided to dig deep to the roots of my faith Christianity and make sense of this confusion. I realized this deep longing inside of me that no one and nothing else could fill. I had a good family and lacked no good thing but there was an emptiness inside of me that i knew only God could fill.

I was all alone in my room on a Saturday morning, when I invited God to show himself real to me. And He did by surrounding me with the warmth love as if His arms were really around me & filled my heart with so much joy and peace all at once that I couldn’t deny him. That’s when the desire in me to want to go to church, want to read the Bible to know Him better birthed. I could now have conversations with him inside my home, in my car and fellowship with other believers at church in which all reflected His love and character for His children in all races and nations.

It’s been almost 12 years since I started my journey with God and He has changed my idea of Him.

I had to divorce religion, in order to know God.

With love & blessings,

Elle

 

heaven is real

I believe in heaven because Jesus believed in heaven. Also because C..S. Lewis said it best:

If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.

Just read this fascinating article about a doctor who was in coma, got to see the after life and his reports of it.

Heaven is Real

The Bible talks a lot about heaven. Here are some verses.

Psalm 23:4
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (NIV)

1 Corinthians 15:54-57
Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(NLT)

2 Corinthians 5:8
Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.(NLT)

Philippians 1:22-23
But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me.(NLT)

Believers will dwell with God forever.

Psalm 23:6
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.(NIV)

Also:
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Jesus prepares a special place for believers in heaven.

John 14:1-3
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”(NIV)

Philippians 1:21
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (NIV)

Revelation 14:13
And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this down: Blessed are those who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, they are blessed indeed, for they will rest from their hard work; for their good deeds follow them!” (NLT)

 

Philippians 3:20-21
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. (NIV)

After their physical death, believers gain eternal life.

John 11:25-26
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (NIV)

 

Revelation 21:1-4
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away … I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God … And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (NIV)

 

1 Corinthians 15:50-53
I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. (NIV)

The Reason for My Hope

11 years ago after high school graduation, around this time in June 2001, my life was forever changed. I made Jesus my personal Lord and Savior and since then God has done awesome things in my life that I know I would not have been able to myself.

You know, being an Armenian and having Christianity go hand in hand with our culture, it’s really hard to walk in faith because we already think we are. Growing up, I heard about God, my parents took me to church for Easter and Christmas, and we all had a cross necklace on,  but I really didn’t know God or the meaning of the Cross. That was until after high school something came alive in me that made me seek the Truth and for answers. It may have been the transition period or my dad’s cousins who were already walking with the Lord praying for me to come to know Him for many years. They seemed annoying to me at the time and “one of those” Christians that I didn’t want to associate with, but to my surprise, they proved otherwise.

I was 17 years old and it was the weekend after my high school graduation that I was doing a lot of thinking on my own in my room with no one at home at the time. I had everything growing up, I lacked nothing, I had a good family, relatives, friends and all but no matter how happy and good things were, I had a void in me that no one and nothing can seem to fill. Out of my emptiness, I said a simple prayer “God if you’re real, I want to know you.” At that moment, I felt this warm blanket come over me and embrace me and I started crying out of joy because I knew He had heard me and He was answering me.

Then I remembered my cousins who had been praying for me and going to church and I desperately had the need to check it out! I called their house, after a couple of rings, grandma answered the phone. The rest of the family were in Hawaii but she said I can go to church with her on Wednesday. So I picked her up then, and came to church. That was the beginning of my life in Christ.

Since then, I’ve had many setbacks and questioned God and my faith. No matter which way I try to go, He brings me back home. No matter how far away I try to run away, He follows me and waits until I’m ready to come back home. I’ve had many many struggles that there is no need to get into details but only the fact that it’s been Jesus who has walked with me during those lonely, dark times and has been my best friend and my light in the tunnel.

Until this day, I am in awe of Him, his grace, the power of the Cross, the name of Jesus and for all the answered prayers. My hearts desire is to live a life worthy of my calling and for my family to serve the Lord, and to raise Emma in the Lord to be a dangerous, fierce and fearless woman that stands out and makes a difference.

I wanted to share this mostly because I don’t want a different private life and a public one. For the most part I hope I’m not any different in private than I ‘m in public life.

This is me and what I believe:

I BELIEVE there is one perfect and almighty God, eternally existing in three persons who are the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

I BELIEVE the Bible, including both the Old and New Testament, is the Holy Spirit-inspired, inerrant, infallible, authoritative Word of God.

I BELIEVE that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). I believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God and He was born of a virgin to become our Savior and Messiah

I BELIEVE that “Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life” and no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). I believe that salvation can not be found in any other, “for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). . I believe that salvation, the forgiveness of sins, and the promise of eternal life is available to all of us who put our faith in Jesus, the Savior.

I BELIEVE that “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). I believe we cannot live a healthy and successful life apart from receiving God’s forgiveness to us and our extending forgiveness to others.

I BELIEVE that God “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Ephesians 3:20). I believe God has more for us than we can imagine if we will live His way and let Him live through us.

I BELIEVE that we are to bear with one another in love and endeavor “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). I believe that cultural, racial, political, denominational, generational, or geographical differences should not in any way limit our love for one another as brothers and sister in Christ, or keep us from the unity in which God wants us to live.

I BELIEVE that “the things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:27). I believe that God is the God of the impossible.

I BELIEVE that we should be “anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving” let our “requests be made known to God”. And when we do “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” will guard our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7). I believe we should pray about all things instead of worry about everything.

I BELIEVE that “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). And “if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears Him” (John 9:31). I believe that worshipping God is the most important thing we will do in our lives.

I BELIEVE that all believers are commissioned by God to bring the good news that everyone can be “reconciled to God” through Jesus, God’s Son (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). And we are to teach others to “observe all things” that God has commanded (Matthew 28:18-20). I believe the Holy Spirit enables us to spread this good news and He, “the Spirit of truth,” will guide us in all truth and help us to live in a way that is consistent with God’s will. (John 16:7-15, Acts 1:8).

I BELIEVE Jesus said, “Whatever things you ask for in prayer, believing, you will receive” (Matthew 21:22), and “if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in My name, I am there in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:19-20).

Christ in me The Hope of Glory,

El

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