5.27.2013

Sam on shame, perfection and brokenness (Lets Get Real Series)

I feel so blessed to be able to share this blog entry with you on the first week of the "Lets Get Real Series!"

I love Sam's bravery and honesty as she openly writes what she is going through. Being in a relationship myself I know how difficult it can be and it's so refreshing to hear her heart in all of this and what God is teaching her through it. 
I have been so challenged and encouraged by her and her entry and I pray while reading this you will be too.

Enjoy:)

My name is Samantha Nosal (I go by Sam), and I am a follower of Jesus Christ. The crazy thing is, though I have claimed to be a Christian since I was young, I am still learning what it means to truly be a follower, and not just a fan of Christ. Currently, I am reading a book by Kyle Idleman called "not a fan", which had challenged me to step outside the habitual, expected motions of a "Christian" (whatever that means nowadays) and become a radically obedient disciple of Jesus Christ. 
This past year has been one the greatest seasons of growth for me in my walk with Christ. It has also been a year of immense temptation and struggle for me, where I have battled with sins I felt like I could never overcome. Honestly, I believe growth in our relationship with God stems from brokeness. A prime of example of a man who really got this concept was King David. God even spoke of David as "a man after my after my own heart" Acts 13:22, so clearly David had some pretty solid insight into what the Lord desires from His followers. In Psalm 51:17 David cries out to the Lord, "the sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God". A broken spirit, that's it. Not works to try and regain the Lord's approval, not an extra donation of your money to a Christian organization, just a broken and repentant heart. 
I want to share this with you because I do not want you to continue trying to earn the Lord's favour by your own strength because you are holding onto the shame of a sin you feel like you just can't beat. 
I have been there
I have strived in my own strength and willpower to overcome sin, and this is so dangerous because it is a hopeless battle on your own. 
For the past two years my boyfriend and I have struggled with sexual immorality in our relationship. This sin has broken us down, stripping away our joy, and has even caused us to break up several times. Though I am a virgin, and some may consider anything less than sex ok, I am here to tell you that even a hint of sexual immorality is robbing you of the blessings God has planned for you are your future husband. Ephesians 5:3 "But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality". God does not warn us of this sin so often in scripture just because he feels like it. He knows us completely, and has beautiful plans to bless us and give us abounding joy if we would only listen and be patient for it all to unfold. However, the real struggle for me was not acknowledging that my sexual sin was wrong. I felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit every time I engaged in this sin, I just did not know HOW to overcome
Every morning I would wake up crying, telling myself I would never let myself fall into this sin again, only for the my motivation and willpower to wear off in a couple weeks. I was so sick of failing and so ashamed. I knew the right response wasn't to turn away from God in my shame, but how could I keep facing him over and over, when I knew what I was doing was wrong? I now realize that Satan was feeding me this lie. Scripture does not tell us that at some point God stops forgiving us, but that his grace is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). When Jesus was on the cross, God looked at his own Son with all of our sin past, present, and future. Because Christ was victorious, God sees us through lens of Jesus' righteousness. How arrogant and ignorant of us to think that our sin is too large that Christ was not able to bear it when he died on the cross. This mindset it minimizing all that Jesus did, which is EXACTLY what Satan wants. 
God's grace is a gift, and the first step to overcoming sexual sin was letting go of my shame and acknowledging that the Lord's grace is sufficient for my sin. He isn't just giving me a break. 1 John 1:9 tells us "if we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness". Our God is JUST by nature, so it is right that he forgives our sins because Jesus paid the ultimate penalty once and forever. How beautiful, loved ones, that we can come to the Lord in our brokeness and disgusting sin and he still sees us as his pure, beloved daughter. 

The next step to beating this sin was to stop depending on my own efforts, such as limiting contact with my boyfriend, writing out new boundaries, etc. I am not suggesting that you put yourself in dangerous situations that will drag you into sexual sin, but Satan will find a way for you to be alone and face this temptation, regardless of your own effort. The key is to be spirit-filled rather than self-empowered as Kyle Idleman puts it in his book "not a fan". Kyle goes on to explain that being filled with the power of the Spirit begins with the honest acknowledgement of our own weakness. He points to 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 as an example, where Paul speaks of how acknowledging our weakness makes room for Christ's power:
I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses... For when I am weak, I am strong.

I also agree with Kyle's statements that this is not just a once a week acknowledgement of the Holy spirit, but a moment by moment walk in the Spirit. One of the practices of walking in the Spirit I have learned from this book is Spiritual Breathing. It is a method to practice walking in a moment by moment awareness of the spirit, as described by the author. The moment you become aware of a sin in your life you exhale and repent of the sin, clearing our space in your heart for the Holy Spirit. Then you inhale, and pray to be filled with the Spirit, surrendering control to him. Basically, this keeps you in constant prayer to be filled with the Holy Spirit's power. The result is God in control, where by the Spirit's strength you are increasingly, though not perfectly, having victory over your sin. 

I just want to end with this verse from Colossians 2:13-14: "When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross". Because Jesus paid the penalty for our sins, God no longer looks at us in all of our unrighteousness and shame. 
He sees us as blameless and beautiful in the righteousness of Christ.
All of our sin was nailed to the cross with Jesus. If you have been struggling with a sin and are experiencing the weight and burden of shame, you don't have to! God does not expect perfection, but that we are becoming increasingly obedient to him, where his grace is being made perfect in our weakness. And the best part of all, our God is a god of healing! Isaiah 53:4-5 "Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds WE ARE HEALED." 
So if you have a past that Satan is telling you can never be mended, tell him to get behind you, because God's son already paid for that and HE still has abounding blessings and healing to pour upon you!

Sam.

5.22.2013

Lets Get Real- New Series


I am so excited to share what's next on the ForeverHis blog!!

I've really been frustrated with all the "fakeness" (can I make up that word?) in this world. There are so many lies we believe, so many magazines that try to define a fake beauty etc etc. Honestly, I'm fed up with it. I'm fed up believing that I need to loose ten pounds to really be beautiful.

The past few months I've been so encouraged just listening to women who are real. Real women who have acne and struggles, who have bad self-esteem days and who have days where they are radiating with joy. I've been so encouraged just sharing about what's on our hearts, what we are going through and the grace we've experienced as we figure out this crazy world. 

I wish I could sit with friends and chat all day, but that isn't realistic in the slightest. 

This is where the "Lets Get Real" series started to form in my mind. I want to be encouraged by real women who are striving the live their lives with purpose. 

Every Monday I will have a guest blogger write what God is doing in their lives. They have an open slate to write whatever they want, whatever length. This space will be used for us women (and men!) to  be real with each other. To not sugar coat the stuff we are dealing with or praising God for- but to just be real with one another as we support and encourage each other. 

I am super excited for this next series and can't wait to be encouraged by so many beautiful human beings!!

Here's where you come in: if you want to write please contact me! The only requirement is that you be real and honest in whatever you write. I would just love to post it in this series and be encouraged by YOU (yes you!)

If you're interested email me at: mpcharnu@uwaterloo.ca or facebook message me and I would love for you to write:)
side note: I can't write at all. I failed so many english things in school- you do not have to be a good writer to share what you're going through!

Think about it.

A young woman trying to learn to be real in this fake world,
Maddie
xxx

5.06.2013

What falling in love with Mark has taught me

So let's just get over all the sappy stuff now (not the point of the blog but needs to be made!)

 I'm in love. Head over heels in love. I'm engaged and with that comes constant conversation of weddings and how in love I am with Mark. Every day I don't think I can love him any more and yet it happens. I continue to fall in love with his character, his life choices, the way he serves others but mostly the way he loves Christ. 

Okay, I love Mark.... here's my point....

A few weeks ago before falling asleep I was lying in bed just thinking about how crazy in love I am with Mark. I was just chatting to the Lord and thanking him for allowing Mark and I to be together- I really am the luckiest lady ever to have such a catch like him! If you know me at all I love to talk about what i'm passionate about and I must have been talking to God for a good five minutes listing all the reasons I love Mark. 

As I was going on and on God asked me very bluntly "do you feel that way about me?"

I was taken aback.  "Sure, God... I love you so much..." was my response to Him but a wave of loving conviction washed over me. God continued "are you constantly falling in love with my character and who I am- like you are with Mark?"

I love that God is relevant and uses my everyday situations to teach me foundational life lessons. I love that the God of the universe cares to speak to me and challenge me & I was challenged. So incredibly challenged. 

I say and believe that I love God so much more than any human being- including my family and Mark- but sometimes actions speak louder than words. I think being a Christian for so many years I can start to become satisfied with knowing God is love and God loves me. But I want to go deeper.

I want to fall in love with God each and every day. I want to spend some of my nights talking to God about how much I love him and his character. I know God adores hearing how much I love Mark and He is smiling down on our relationship and the way we are striving to love each other... but I also know that I want to love God more than anything else in this entire universe and I want to not only be in love with God but constantly falling head over heels in love with the way He takes care of me, protects me etc.

Today has been one of those days. I am just in awe of the way God loves me and I had such a sweet morning spending time with him and just hanging out the two of us as I fall in love with Him.

I am so thankful to have Mark in my life and to be able to practice what love looks like. I am also so blessed that God has used me learning to love Mark to set the bar higher for how I should love Him. I believe that learning this doesn't have to come from a future spouse, but this was my situation and I am beyond blessed that God is using this engagement season to teach me so many important lessons about His love.

Maddie



5.01.2013

My worst nightmare is a reality

Last night I woke up around four am drenching with sweat and terrified. My hands were clenched so tight giving me a muscle cramp and my face was tear stained.  Once I realized it was just a dream my heart beat calmed down as I tried to fall back asleep....however this time I laid there for an hour re counting the events of my nightmare and realizing it is all so real.

I was trafficked into the sex trade. I saw other girls getting taken and no matter how smart, clever or fast I was there was no way any of us was getting out. The sex trade is too complex and there are pimps and traffickers in every country, in every city around the world. My dream didn't take place while I was in a typical sex trafficking country but right here in Canada. Sex trafficking happens everywhere and my dream seemed all to real. 

My friends and I were at a club dancing to our hearts content without a care in the world. We had met the most gorgeous men in the club and were getting to know them well. When it came time to leave we needed to take a cab back to our hotel however these three men said they drove and could give us a lift.  I remember (in my dream) being terrified of drinking and driving but I knew that the one guy had been responsible all night and never touched a sip. That was my only concern. Since we were cheap students a free ride and saving money seemed like the best idea...only we never returned to our hotel room that night but to there house...

The dream continued and I woke up to me trying to call 911 locked in a dark room after being knocked out by these men. My phone call didn't go through but one of my friends escaped and she was running to the police... for anyone to understand...

As I was lying there trying to fall back asleep but to upset to, I thought about all the women and young girls who don't have the police to go to. Either the police are corrupt and are the ones that also rape these girls or they've taken the girls documents and they are now illegally here and can't seek help. They don't know the language or the first place to run to seek help. 

I am so thankful that all I had was a bad dream but I spent the next half hour praying for all the millions of human beings being trapped in sex slavery right now. The millions of people who are being held captive and are sold each and every day to men who chose to rape them and treat them like a object.

Our world is filled with so many injustices and last night my heart broke for the millions of women in the sex trade. 

 

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