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My Two Year Health Nightmare

It was November of 2009 and I was out with a group of Moms. We tried to get away once a month to talk, share stories, give and receive encouragement about parenting and eat together.

I had battled health problems on and off since I had my twin girls in 2003, but I remember thinking just days before this November evening Mom’s night out that I was feeling really good and it was a relief to be able to say that.

We went to Uncle Bill’s restaurant that night when, to my surprise, I started having sharp pains in my abdomen. I didn’t let on in front of my friends as I thought the pain would just pass. It didn’t pass though so I finally headed to the bathroom and before I knew it I was on the bathroom floor calling my friend Nancy on her cell.

She was only a short distance away in the restaurant but believe me, I couldn’t move. Anyone who knows me, knows that me sitting on the bathroom floor means I am in serious condition. Gross. I don’t even like to look at the bathroom floor, let alone sit on it, but at this point it was either sit or faint.

Nancy answered and immediately came into the restroom and thankfully she has the kind of decisive personality that handles emergencies well. By the time we got me to my vehicle I was rolling around the passengers seat in pain.

Nancy rushed me to a nearby hospital. I continued to roll around in pain in the emergency room bed and after the nurse put an IV in my arm, she offered me morphine.

The other moms had followed us to the hospital and however many they let back in the room with me were there. The rest waited in the waiting room and I remember thinking how blessed I was to have these friends.

My husband had to wake up our twin girls in the middle of the night and take them to Aunt Laura’s house so he could come to the hospital and join the party. The CT scan revealed a cyst and let me tell you, I never would have guessed a cyst could hurt like that.

Little did I know at the time that this was the start of a two-year health nightmare.

That cyst grew to be 16 centimeters, or the size of a cantaloupe, in 8 months, according to the doctor’s own words and what he wrote on his report. It was suggested that I get surgery in April of 2010, but I decided to continue trying natural methods to shrink the cyst and I was believing God…or I thought I was?

Actually, once the trial was over I realized that during the whole 2 years I had allowed the devil to bury me under guilt and condemnation for several wrong choices I made during that time frame. They were choices I wished I could go back and undo for a long time.

I told my husband Steve after I came through the difficult 2 years that I believed I went through all of that as a punishment to pay the price for my wrong decisions. Steve never knew I was having these misconceptions about God and when I finally told him, he said he didn’t ever believe God was punishing me. He knew God wasn’t that way.

I didn’t have the revelation on the finished work of the cross that I do now. Thankfully, now I know that all the punishment for our sin was placed upon Jesus at the cross and because of what He did for us, we will never be punished again.

There is a difference in a person living out natural consequences from their unwise decisions and a person believing they are being punished by God for their sin.

The unwise choices I had made during this time period and even before this time did come with some natural consequences that weren’t enjoyable but served as a reminder to me of how important it is for me to depend on Jesus as my wisdom.

Look at this:

1 Corinthians 1:30-31 (NASB)

30 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, 31 so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

With this new covenant scripture in mind, now check out this old covenant scripture (below) and remember that because Jesus ushered us into a brand new covenant through His finished work, you and I are not “trying to get” anything anymore. If you’ve got Jesus, you’ve got it all, including wisdom.

With this in mind, here’s how I now read these verses below, no longer as a law, but through a new covenant lens!

Proverbs 4:5-9:

Where it reads like this under the old covenant of law: 

Get wisdom; develop good judgment. Don’t forget my words or turn away from them.

I interpret it like this now, with my grace glasses on: I’ve got wisdom because I’ve got Jesus! Jesus helps me develop good judgement. My heart has been changed by grace so I don’t forget Jesus’ words or turn away from them.

Where it reads like this under the old covenant of law:

Don’t turn your back on wisdom, for she will protect you. Love her, and she will guard you.

I interpret it like this now, with my grace glasses on: I don’t plan on turning my back on Jesus because grace has changed my heart; therefore, I now know, without Jesus I got nothing. I’m confident that Jesus will protect me. I love Jesus because He first loved me and I know He is guarding me.

Where it reads like this under the old covenant of law:

Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do! And whatever else you do, develop good judgment.

I interpret it like this now, with my grace glasses on: I am so thrilled that because I have Jesus, I have wisdom because 1 Corinthians 1:30 says Jesus is my wisdom! I have done the wisest thing I could ever do by believing in and receiving Jesus as my Savior; therefore, I continually develop good judgement by the power of The Holy Spirit.

Where it reads like this under the old covenant of law:

If you prize wisdom, she will make you great.
    Embrace her, and she will honor you.

I interpret it like this now, with my grace glasses on: By believing on Jesus and receiving Him as my Savior I have shown that I prize Him; therefore He will cause me to do great things for His glory. As I continue to embrace Jesus, my wisdom, He will honor me.

Where it reads like this under the old covenant of law:

She will place a lovely wreath on your head;
    she will present you with a beautiful crown.”
(NLT)

I interpret it like this now, with my grace glasses on: Jesus, my wisdom, will place a lovely wreath on my head. He will present me with a beautiful crown!

See what happens when you read an old covenant scripture through a new covenant lens! Instead of it being something you have to try to do or earn or qualify for, under grace it’s now something that is your reality all because of Jesus!

This is the grace life, my friend, and when you live the grace life, any part that you need to play you will play, effortlessly, by the power of The Holy Spirit working in you and leading you, as you stay in faith by keeping your eyes on Jesus!

Had I understood and believed this wonderful Biblical truth all those years ago when I was being tempted to make those bad decisions, I bet I would have walked in wisdom instead. 

Some people worry that if you teach others to live under grace it will give them a license to sin. As you can see here, that is incorrect.

If I had understood grace during this time in my life it would have changed everything for me because I would have been believing correctly about who I truly was in Christ (a person full of wisdom) and I would have acted out of that right belief system, but instead I just kept striving to be something I already was. (see Romans 6:14)

Striving is stressful. Stress causes sickness and disease.

Here’s more new covenant truth. Are you ready? You better sit down or you might faint from this good news:

Jesus paid the price for our sin – past, present and future sin – when He died for us on the cross, so I was forgiven (for those bad choices) and God was not punishing me.

Same goes for you. You’re forgiven. And if you’ve received Jesus, then you’ve decided to accept Jesus’ free gift of complete forgiveness. Making this choice naturally leads you right into living the life of freedom He died to give you.

Again, this goes to show you how powerful our believing is. Because I didn’t know this life-transforming Biblical truth at the time and was not sharing my apprehensions with anyone who could help me, this kept me in a perpetual state of anxiety and stress over many years that could very possibly be the reason I became sick in the first place. It’s been proven that stress causes sickness and disease in at least a decent number of medical cases and one thing is for sure, guilt and condemnation absolutely cause stress.

As a result of me waiting 3 months past when the doctor initially recommended I have surgery, it was even more difficult for the doctor to remove the very large cyst. As he was taking it out through robotic surgery, my right Ureter was damaged.

The Ureter Tube is the tube that runs between the Kidney and the Bladder and now that it was damaged it was partially blocked, causing Hydronephrosis: obstruction of the urinary tract. Well, wasn’t this just peachy.

I was unaware of this for about 6 weeks until I mentioned my severe nausea to the surgeon during my follow-up appointment, at which time he sent me to a Urologist who confirmed his suspicions.

Enter procedure number one, to place a stent that would hopefully stretch open my Ureter constriction and heal it in an opened position. Well, to my dismay, once the Urologist removed the stent after being in for 2 weeks he sent me for yet another CT scan and found it was closed right back up.

His second try to place a stent in the Ureter failed and when I woke from the anesthesia, I was given some of the worst news I had ever been given. I was told that I would need a Nephrostomy. What is a Nephrostomy, I thought?

The doctor said, we will need to place a tube through your back and into your Kidney with a drainage bag outside your body. Wow, seriously – this is not happening to me, right? Wrong, it was happening and it was terribly painful. Enduring that nephrostomy tube for 2 months was the worst pain I have ever been through.

The first tube was too large and pressing on a nerve so I would get so worn out from the pain that I would just sit and sob. I actually had to tell the doctor I couldn’t stand it and thankfully they replaced it with another, thinner, more bearable tube. Much better!

Another doctor was then able to place a stent in through the Nephrostomy tube, through my Kidney and into my Ureter. He ballooned the constricted area in my Ureter out which he was hoping and I was praying would then heal the Ureter in the opened position.

He left it in for 2 months and in early January of 2011 I woke up to another round of devastating news. It didn’t work. I was shocked because I felt I was believing so hard and was sure everything was going to be O.K.

Remember though, I was still deceived at the time and in the back of my mind was always the thought, I am serving my punishment.

To top off the bad news I must have gotten some kind of horrible infection from the procedure because just a short time after entering the recovery room I started vomiting and shaking violently. I had to stay in the hospital and man, was I sick. I really wondered if I was going to make it out alive.

I didn’t have any strength to pray and felt like I was living in some kind of oblivion for days. Thank God there were many, many family members and friends praying for me. I am so thankful for them!

I had to keep a stent in from January-June of that year. I had so many CT scans throughout this time period that I just lost count. Having a stent in makes some people more prone to infections and unfortunately that was the case with me. I was prescribed antibiotics galore.

I spent the next 6 months going to doctors and getting opinions of what to do about my Ureter. Do I keep a stent in for the rest of my life which would have to be replaced every 3 to 6 months or do I get surgery which was not a guaranteed fix? What a fun multiple choice question.

At this point if I had counted up all the doctor’s appointments, tests and procedures I was probably at about number 50, yet I purposely kept in the front of my mind that what I was going through was still nothing compared to what many people go through.

In April of 2011, although I needed to keep a stent in, I was delighted that they could take out the tube and close up the Nephrostomy and that was one of the happiest days of my life.

As I was seeking an answer for the ureter/stent situation, the cantaloupe size cyst that had been surgically removed the previous July started to grow back at a fairly rapid pace. Now I needed to see a new OBGYN and was facing having to get a complete hysterectomy as well as a ureter repair.

Thankfully, God led me to a wonderful doctor from Washington University, one of the top universities in the nation. God takes care of His kids. This doctor was able to perform one successful, combined surgery in June of 2011.

I know this sounds horrible and it was, but God held my hand throughout the entire trial.

Although, at the time this trial was taking place, I wrongly believed that God was either causing this trouble in my life for some higher purpose or at least allowing it, I’m happy to say I no longer believe this way.

Jesus himself said,

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. – John 10:10 (NASB)

So my belief now is very simple:

God only does good. The devil only does bad.

I’m convinced that when we choose to trust in God, He takes the bad things that happen in our lives – whether they are purely an attack from satan or a result of this fallen world we live in – and He works good out of them.

I even believe if we are experiencing negative consequences from years of living under stress or from other bad choices we’ve made, if we will freely receive God’s gift of complete forgiveness through Jesus’ blood by purposely choosing to remember and honor what Jesus did for us right in the middle of our bad choices, God will also redeem those! I have seen Him do this for me so many times that I have lost count and guess what this focus on God’s kindness and God’s goodness produces in us? A life of repentance! (see Romans 2:4)

We begin to see trials in a whole new way when we understand God’s true nature. You should hear me when I am encountering a trial now. Instead of wondering why it’s happening or questioning God as I used to, I look to God’s awesomeness and greatness and get excited to see what He’s gonna do for me to bring me out! Instead of focusing on what’s happening to me, I focus on the God of the impossible, because He’s my God!

I’m not saying I don’t get tired or even become exhausted at times, especially if I’m dealing with pain. But when I do, I run right back to my good Father and receive His strength.

And if I get tempted to believe a lie that the devil is feeding me, thankfully, because of all these years on my grace journey that I have spent understanding the true heart of God and renewing my mind with the promises in His Word, the devil usually only get’s about a half a sentence out before I cut him off with the truth.

My friend, when you keep your eyes locked on Jesus, there is no way you can lose. No matter what the devil tries to pull, you will come out on top!

This is cool too. Even though God doesn’t cause or allow your trials, He’s so brilliant that He does bring lots of good out of them. Here’s a list of the good things that came out of My Two Year Health Nightmare.

1.) I got to minister to a lot of people in hospitals including doctors, nurses and patients.

2.) I have no fear of pain, shots, IVs, surgery or procedures any longer.

In fact, during my last test that I had to get after the double surgery, they were about to give me an IV and there was a new guy there who was in training, learning how to do IV’s. They asked me how I felt about him practicing on me. I said, Oh sure, why not! I had no fear, but that was not the case when this nightmare started.

3.) I learned something through all the pain. I learned that God was going to be with me no matter what. I was never alone.

4.) During the trial I learned to rely on God more than ever before.

5.) My confidence in God’s ability grew.

Just as David fought the lion and the bear and won, it gave him confidence that God was with Him to fight the giant and win.

Nobody can ever take away from me the closeness I gained in my relationship with God through that time of sickness and pain and now I have that victory to recall in the future when God has another giant for me to slay.

6.) My compassion for others, particularly those who go through health struggles, increased.

7.) My ability to relate to others and be able to speak encouragement into their lives in a genuine way increased.

You don’t know exactly what God has for you down the road, but whatever that is, He is preparing you for it now. He is literally preparing you for tomorrow, today; for next year, this year; for the next decade, in this decade. Nothing is wasted, including those hard days when nothing seems to go right.

Receive God’s grace for your journey, each and every moment if need be. You will find that when you turn to Him for grace and strength, He will not fail you. He cannot fail. It is impossible!

Jesus said this:

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]  – John 16:33 (AMP)

If you have not yet made Jesus your Savior and received the wonderful joy that His finished work on the cross has provided for you to live in, please visit my page here titled Jesus In The Driver’s Seat. On this page I explain the good news of the gospel and you will have the opportunity to pray a prayer of salvation, making Jesus your Savior! Jesus loves you and His arms are wide open!

Sandra McCollom

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Does God Cause or Permit Bad Things In Our Lives?

Such a sad week for us here in The United States of America as we mourn the devastating tragedy in Las Vegas.

When tragedy strikes, people have questions and understandably so.

Does God cause bad things to happen to us? Does God permit bad things to happen to us?

I heard the most clearly laid out message on this subject that I have personally ever heard by my Pastor, Jeff Perry, and felt I wanted to share it today… to bring comfort.

Jesus said:

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10 NASB)

Here’s a quote from Pastor Jeff’s message and then a link to the full 34 minute teaching under the quote. I hope and pray this brings you encouragement in the midst of a week filled with grief and tears.

“There was a minister years ago that said, God’s a good God and the devil’s a bad devil, and it made a lot of theologians frustrated, but I felt like it was hugely clarifying to help me, as a follower, to understand – I could trust God. And as sovereign and as mighty as He is, we need to understand the results of the fall of man and what the devil’s temporary position is and what our position is currently in our authority that we have over him and what our effectiveness is in terms of that so that we’re not just thinking everything is from God. Because if everything was from God then where do we resist the devil and what do we embrace and if sickness was a gift from God to teach us something then every hospital and every doctor and every nurse is in violation of God’s plan for the people.”  – Pastor Jeff Perry

image

Here’s the link to this teaching:  Stand Firm In The Power Of God

If you have not yet made Jesus your Savior and received the wonderful joy that His finished work on the cross has provided for you to live in, please visit my page here titled Jesus In The Driver’s Seat. On this page I explain the good news of the gospel and you will have the opportunity to pray a prayer of salvation, making Jesus your Savior! Jesus loves you and His arms are wide open!

Sandra McCollom

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The Fear Of God – Excellent Message by Patsy Cameneti

TONY + PATSY, AUG 2013 colour-41

This is the way The Fear Of God should be taught! I loved this message and listened to it myself, probably 5 times!

When we truly understand what The Fear of God means it actually delivers us from a whole bunch of other fears, including the fear of man.

Tony Cameneti spoke at our church back in July and his messages resonated with me so much that I added Rhema Family Church to my Casts app and have been listening to, enjoying and learning a lot from both Pastors Tony and Patsy Cameneti. When I heard this teaching on The Fear Of God I immediately contacted the ministry to seek permission to share it on my website with my friends – YOU!

In addition to my website being a place where you can come and read Jesus-centered blog posts, I also have a desire for it to be a place where you can come and find messages that are taught through the lens of Jesus’ Finished Work – messages that will set your eyes on Jesus!

It’s like my friend Rose says, “Jesus has to be center stage.” I couldn’t agree more.

Enjoy this message as Patsy puts you in touch with the absolute greatness of God!

TONY AND PATSY

Tony and Patsy’s life and ministry are marked by two significant truths – The finished work of Jesus Christ and His imminent return. These two eternal truths propel and steer everything they do, and are a significant element of what they teach and preach. Their ministry demonstrates powerfully, how the redeeming work of Jesus Christ can impact each believer on a personal level, and how the Holy Spirit wants to impart and equip each believer for a victorious and fruitful Christian walk.

Tony and Patsy live in Brisbane, Australia. They serve as Senior Pastors and Directors of Rhema Family Church, and Directors of Rhema Bible Training Centre Australia.

If you have not yet made Jesus your Savior and received the wonderful joy that His finished work on the cross has provided for you to live in, please visit my page here titled Jesus In The Driver’s Seat. On this page I explain the good news of the gospel and you will have the opportunity to pray a prayer of salvation, making Jesus your Savior! Jesus loves you and His arms are wide open!

Sandra McCollom

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The Simplicity of Grace

I had made life so complicated for so long. I still remember the main thing that drew me to a life of grace, like a magnet, was the simplicity of it.

Eluny, who is from South Africa and currently lives in China (where she works with kids) has now arrived in St. Louis, MO for this year’s Love Life Women’s Conference!

I’ve never met Eluny face to face, but I feel like I know her already. She bought my book shortly after it came out several years ago and every so often she sends me a new testimony about how much God has used it to change her life.

I enjoyed this one she recently sent as it reminded me of the beautiful simplicity of grace.

I added my comments into Eluny’s email in red and then I left more encouragement for you at the end of this post regarding God’s purpose for your life.

Hi Sandra 

Guess who’s in St. Louis!? Today I again realized what an awesome impact your book had on my life. In the midst of crazy circumstances I decided to trust God and receive His grace and that opened the door for God’s favor! 

After living the grace life for 5.5 years now, I’m not surprised one bit!

The revolution of Grace is such an amazing gift and I’m so incredibly grateful for it. I’m grateful you shared your story and I’m grateful God used you to help me get this revelation. I love how, with the help from your book and by the grace of God, it gets easier to realize when guilt and condemnation pop up and it opens the door to choose God’s Grace faster. That is why I want to tell you in short about the few days I’ve been having. 

Saturday, while packing my final things, I realized I couldn’t find my bank card anywhere. I have a debit card. I don’t own a credit card so it’s the only one I have. It was gone. I was like “shoot, I am leaving for Shanghai Sunday night after work. WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?” I searched everywhere – no card, I searched again, still no card! How do you travel to a foreign country without a bank card?

The first thing I thought to myself when I realized I lost my card was “Eluny you weren’t focused, you’ve been stressed and that made you lose your card because your mind is running 10 steps ahead. You were being negligent.” Trust me when I say I never lose things – EVER! I was about to go on a guilt and condemnation trip but in the midst of all this I decided that I was going to focus on God’s love for me despite all of the thoughts rushing through my mind. I asked God to help me focus on His peace despite my circumstances and He did give me peace. I decided to completely put my trust in God

I love how The Spirit prompted Eluny to turn away from the negative beliefs the devil was tempting her to focus on – “Eluny, you weren’t focused, Eluny, you were being negligent” – and had her turn toward and receive God’s love.

I’m telling you the truth, one of the reasons some people don’t get grace is because they are looking for something more complicated. They think, “yeah, yeah, this isn’t gonna do me any good, just sitting and receiving God’s love. I gotta do something AND I GOTTA DO SOMETHING NOW. I gotta solve my problem.” 

The only problem with that is, the road of self effort will drop you off in a town called frustration every single time. Believe me, I know. I lived half my life there.

In the end, I thought it was pretty amazing how God showed me my card was missing before I left China without any money! With the help from a Chinese friend I managed to convert all my money into dollars. 

God’s love for us is extravagant.

I love how God takes our circumstances and changes them for the better. I love how God blessed me with friends who are willing to help, friends I can trust. Now that I have chosen to live in God’s grace and receive His love for me I am overwhelmed at His goodness and kindness. When we choose grace we open a door for God to move and I absolutely love that He never disappoints

Listen to all that gratitude that turning to and trusting in Jesus provoked in Eluny’s heart!

It’s like Romans 8:28 says “God works all things together for the good of those who love Him.” No matter what happens if you live the Grace life and if you choose God’s peace and trust in Him, He moves mountains!

Oh yes He does!

I was reading a few chapters of your book on my long flight over and I thought back over the few days I had and being tired on such a long flight makes everything worse but then a big smile broke out on my face and my heart skipped a beat. I was deeply touched at how much your book has helped me get to the truth sooner.

I know for a fact that Eluny has already read my book 4 times, yet she picked it up again on that flight to remind her about the truth of God’s grace.

The apostle Paul often reminds us of the importance of continuing in the life of grace we’ve been given (through salvation). When we don’t, we can easily fall back into self effort mode which leads to bad things. This is exactly why my husband Steve and I are always reading the Bible and making sure we read it through the lens of the finished work of the cross, listening to teachings that set our eyes on Jesus, reading or listening to books/articles/blog posts that are all about Jesus or playing worship music and enjoying the presence of Jesus. This is our life, day in and day out.

Of course, even though we do make it a priority to grow in grace, this doesn’t mean we’re perfect. In fact, I’m about to tell you a story below about how I recently fell back into self effort in one particular area of my life and what the result was.

Steve and I do make it our goal to eat, sleep and breathe Jesus though, which is so very different from how I used to make checking off my task list my daily goal or how Steve would strive to spend his days making sure he was performing for God so God would be pleased with him.

We now know it’s all about relationship with Him and us remembering that He is already pleased with us! 

I don’t even know if saying “we make it our goal to eat, sleep and breathe Jesus” is the best way to say it because desiring to know Jesus more is really a very natural response to living the grace life rather than a “goal.”

When doing the one thing that is needful – sitting at the feet of Jesus – becomes your daily passion, everything else – both your task list and your spiritual growth – falls into place.

The bottom line is: Under grace, life becomes simpler – effortless, really – yet at the same time, so much more effective!

In the past I use to struggle trying to figure things out and I would have felt guilty for not focusing on my whereabouts with my bank card. Now I focus on Jesus and His love for me and things just work out. You can’t explain it but at the same time you can because it’s Grace! God’s favor!

This really is true. When we choose to live under the waterfall of grace, things work out.

Here’s that story I promised you: 

Recently I was feeling frustrated about something and talking to one of my accountability partners about it and we came to the conclusion that I had returned back to living in self effort in that particular area of my life. I was frustrated and I was mad about how things weren’t working out.

As we talked about how Jesus didn’t want that kind of life for me in any area, I repented (changed my mind) about continuing down the road of self effort, received God’s grace and guess what happened? Not long after that I realized the anger left and peace and wisdom about how to handle my situation arrived.

Please believe me when I say a life of grace leads to a life of simplicity and rest!

How amazing is Jesus! I appreciate your book so much because it broke open God’s love for me. I have more confidence because I know Jesus loves me. 

Have a wonderful day tomorrow.

Eluny 

And check this out: The coolest thing happened. Eluny and I ended up at the same hotel for the conference (thanks God) and plan on eating breakfast together on Friday morning! (I added a photo below)

If you would like to check out my book and learn how to live in the simplicity of grace, go here.

I can honestly say that writing my book and now watching God get it into the hands of people all over the world in various ways (through this website, speaking engagements, etc.) is probably one of my main assignments in life. I have not been released to write another book yet and may or may not ever be.

We don’t have to feel like we need to do a million things at once for our lives to be fruitful. Doing a few things that God’s hand is on will far surpass 20 things that God is not asking us to do.

I even went off social media back in May at the leading of the Holy Spirit and do you know what happened? God divinely worked it out for me to meet this group of Jesus-loving ladies who do Women of Grace conferences and the leader, Connie Witter, asked me if I would would speak with them at some of their conferences next year (2018)! See, God knew I needed to be off social media to focus and prepare for what was coming.

I certainly don’t have anything against social media, but I thought it was neat how God didn’t need me to be on social media for these ladies to “discover me.” Instead, He divinely worked it out all by Himself.

My friend, there is no devil in hell or person on earth who can keep you from what God has called you to do! If you trust God, He will open up any doors you need to walk through. You won’t have to kick the doors down. And when God opens up a door, no man can shut it.

That’s why…

Being Spirit-led in life is the most important thing.

Help us live Spirit-led lives, God, in Jesus’ name we pray.

I believe God gave me this motto for my life and ministry the other day when He was teaching me something. Here’s what I want to do with my life.

PREACH JESUS   &   LOVE PEOPLE

So I encourage you to receive, receive, receive God’s grace for your own life (which means you will be resting in Him) and watch Him bring everything together and cause you to fulfill all that He has called you to do. It’s gonna be awesome!

You’re going to be used by God to help others and you’re not even going to want to take the credit for it because when you live under grace you instinctively know what the Apostle Paul knew, “yet it was not I but God who was working through me by His grace.”  (1 Corinthians 15:10b)

If you have not yet made Jesus your Savior and received the wonderful joy that His finished work on the cross has provided for you to live in, please visit my page here titled Jesus In The Driver’s Seat. On this page I explain the good news of the gospel and you will have the opportunity to pray a prayer of salvation, making Jesus your Savior! Jesus loves you and His arms are wide open!

Sandra McCollom

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God Is NOT Judging America

Or anyone else, for that matter.

How could this be? Jesus, that’s how.

Because perfect, sinless Jesus was willing to go to the cross and take the sin of the entire world upon Himself – 2 Corinthians 5:21 says Jesus became sin for us – God’s wrath toward sin was forever satisfied.

Look, here’s the proof!

2 Corinthians 5:19 says,

For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And He gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. (NLT)

Even though Jesus ushered us into a brand New Covenant of Grace through His finished work on the cross, sadly, there are many Christians out there who are still relating to God and relaying God to others based on the Old Covenant of Law; therefore, they are telling people that God is judging them.

This bad news is incorrect information and has kept who knows how many people on this planet from receiving Jesus as their Savior.

John 3:17 says, 

For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him. (AMPC)

I love what Andrew Wommack says in his article, War Is Over.

“God the Father forsook Jesus so you and I would never be forsaken. All that you and I would have suffered, through billions of years in eternity—the grief, the pain and, worst of all, the complete separation from the presence of God—Jesus experienced. And He experienced all of this for us. When we say God is judging our sins as individuals or corporately as a nation, we are voiding what Jesus did. That would be “double jeopardy.”

“Some of you may not like this, but it’s true. Sin isn’t a problem with God anymore. It’s the church that has made it a major deal. Neither past, present, nor future sins can separate you from God. The only people who will go to hell are those who have spurned and rejected the greatest sacrifice that has ever been made. In heaven, you won’t answer for your sin; Jesus already has. You will answer for your acceptance or rejection of Jesus.

Andrew also says this at the end of that article:

“Before I learned that the war was over, I used to say, “If God doesn’t judge America, He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.” Now I say, “If God judges America, He will have to apologize to Jesus.” Thank God for Jesus!”

Bam! Is your spirit jumping up and down like mine is right now?

God’s grace is absolutely stunning!

As Believers, we’re suppose to be ministers of reconciliation, not ministers of judgement.

2 Corinthians 5:17-21 say,

17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 18 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation,19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (NASB)

Being a minister of reconciliation means to go around telling people the good news that Jesus paid the price to make the greatest exchange with them ever known to humankind – their sin for His righteousness – and that because of His finished work on the cross they can be reconciled to God.

As His ambassadors, God wants to make His appeal through us, but we can’t be giving people wrong information about God – God is against you, God is judging you, Clean up your act…or else – and expect them to be all enthusiastic about wanting to be in relationship with Him. People who do that are representing God wrong and I believe an unprecedented percentage of humanity has been thrown into a state of confusion as a result.

I want to encourage you to get a book titled Good God – The One We Want To Believe In But Are Afraid To Embrace, by Lucas Miles.

Here are the chapter titles:

  1. Inventing God
  2. God Is Not A Criminal
  3. Sovereign God or Control Freak?
  4. The Man Behind The Curtain
  5. Wisdom and Foolishness
  6. God Revealed
  7. The Purpose of the Law
  8. Removing the Mixed Gospel
  9. Better Than We Think

And then this good news from the back cover:

“God is neither responsible for your pain, nor is He allowing it.

In fact, He is against it and wants nothing more than to prevent it.”

You may have questions about God, His nature or things that you’ve personally gone through. That’s ok. I believe you just may find the answers to your questions in Lucas Miles book, Good God.

Always Remember that Jesus said this:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. – John 10:10 (NASB)

These three things are true:

  1. God is Good
  2. The devil is bad
  3. I’m never going to stop telling you the good news!

If you have not yet made Jesus your Savior and received the wonderful joy that His finished work on the cross has provided for you to live in, please visit my page here titled Jesus In The Driver’s Seat. On this page I explain the good news of the gospel and you will have the opportunity to pray a prayer of salvation, making Jesus your Savior! Jesus loves you and His arms are wide open!

Sandra McCollom

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What About Obedience?

Lori, from Dracut, Massachusetts recently emailed me the following question about obedience after reading my post titled There’s No Bad News In The Good News.

Sandra….John 14:15 says “If you [really] love Me, you will keep (obey) My commands.

And John 14:23-24 says “Jesus answered, If a person [really] loves Me, he will keep My word [obey My teaching]; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. Vs. 24…Anyone who does not [really] love Me does not observe and obey My teaching.”

These verses, specifically vs. 23, almost make it sound as if the Father will love us only if we keep His commands. This makes His love sound conditional and that if we really love Him, we will keep His commands. I know I don’t obey His commands all the time. Does this mean I don’t really love Him?  This confuses me. Can you help me with this??

Thank you so much!
Lori

First of all let me say that I love getting questions from people like this because it forces me to go searching for the answers. This has been a very important part of my grace journey. If you ever have a comment or question please feel free to email me using the mail tab at the top of this website.

This time, as I went in search of my answer for Lori I decided to go to Paul Ellis’ website (Good News blogger), look in his scripture index for John 14:15 and John 14:23-24 and see which posts came up.

I was blown away by all I learned from reading four incredible blog posts that I knew would answer Lori’s question! In fact, I have read each of these posts 3 times now.

Check them out and then check out Lori’s reaction to reading them below!

Post #1: John 14:15 – The Commands of Jesus

Post #2: What Happens to Unfruitful Branches?

Post #3: The Root of Disobedience

Post #4: The Root of Obedience

Here’s Lori’s reply to this Good News!

Sandra, I can’t thank you enough for sharing this with me. I don’t even know where to begin to respond to all of it. I am overwhelmed and over-joyed. And I need to read it over and over again. This can be life changing for people who have never heard these verses explained in this way. 

 I’m so thankful that God’s love for us isn’t linked to our obedience. I thought I was beginning to understand this after listening to messages on God’s grace and after reading your book. That’s why this verse in John 14:15 just didn’t seem to line up with what I was learning about grace. Each time I read it, I felt condemned because I knew I wasn’t obeying God’s commands perfectly. So then I would think, “I must not be loving God as I should.” Yet I know Romans 8:1 says “therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” I have prayed and asked God countless times to give me a greater revelation of His love and His grace. I just never felt like I was doing or loving enough. And so deep down I believed that God wasn’t quite pleased with me. 

Honestly, this all brings me to tears of joy. I want to jump up and down and share this with everyone I know. No wonder when people hear the message of God’s GRACE, they want to share it. 

I think everyone needs to read this, to understand this, to know the truth about this. I believe it will be life changing for people who have been interpreting these verses incorrectly like I have been for so long. And I still don’t have a full revelation of all of this. I need to read it again and again. Please consider writing/sharing this in another blog post. I know I want to share it with everyone I know and love. 

I have also printed out your blog “Jesus in the Driver’s Seat” and will be mailing a copy of it to a family member. I think the way you explain and share the “Good News” is probably the best I’ve ever read or heard. You explain it clearly and precisely with no rules, regulations, or condemnation, just the way it should be explained and understood by everyone who hears it. So, thank you for this as well. 

Blessings, blessings, blessings to you and thank you again!!!

 Lori

I Love It!

Let’s Make Jesus Famous by spreading the Good News of God’s grace!

If you have not yet made Jesus your Savior and received the wonderful joy that His finished work on the cross has provided for you to live in, please visit my page here titled Jesus In The Driver’s Seat. On this page I explain the good news of the gospel and you will have the opportunity to pray a prayer of salvation, making Jesus your Savior! Jesus loves you and His arms are wide open!

Sandra McCollom

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Freedom From Legalism

Do you find yourself wondering if you have done enough for God?

Are you looking for a to-do list to accomplish for God in order to be acceptable to Him?

When you struggle with sin do you think you would be able to overcome if you would just try harder?

Do you have a hard time fighting off guilt and condemnation after you sin?

Are you afraid that God will be mad at you if you don’t read the Bible, pray or serve?

Would you feel safer if someone just gave you a list of rules and said, “Follow these and you will be ok” as opposed to your being led by the Spirit?

For many years my own answer to these questions was a resounding YES.

What was I missing? GRACE

My hope did not rest in simply receiving God’s unmerited favor (grace), but in my being able to do all the right things to earn it.

But thank God that He changes people’s hearts!

I remember one specific day on my grace journey when He had me read Galatians chapter 3 and as I did, the legalistic blinders that had clouded my vision for so long began to fall off!

I hope you are able to take the time to watch this 9 minute video devotional. I believe it will really encourage you. Think of it as a mini Bible Study!

This video was recorded several years ago when I went to Canada for a couple of TV interviews in conjunction with my new book. I’m thankful to Pastor Leon Fontaine for asking me to record this devotional while I was there and allowing me to post it on my website.

I also talk about this life changing day (when I read Galatians 3) in greater detail in my book in chapter 2 titled “When We Come To The End Of Ourselves.”

If you have not yet made Jesus your Savior and received the wonderful joy that His finished work on the cross has provided for you to live in, please visit my page here titled Jesus In The Driver’s Seat. On this page I explain the good news of the gospel and you will have the opportunity to pray a prayer of salvation, making Jesus your Savior! Jesus loves you and His arms are wide open!

Sandra McCollom

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True or False? Being Sin Conscious Makes Me Sin Less

I laughed, I cried, I kept screaming “Come on, PREACH” and I thought, my goodness, if every Christian on the planet could hear this.

Dr. Creflo Dollar is doing such an amazing job unveiling the beauty of Jesus through his teaching. I absolutely loved this message and I loved what he said about racism at the end of his teaching too!

I always pray about what I post on my website and I’m very picky about what I put on here. My goal is that everything I post would point you to one person and one person only – JESUS!

I know the Holy Spirit is leading me to share this message with you. It’s such good news. You’re going to be so blessed!

Click on the link below:

No Imputation Of Sin – Part 4

If you have not yet made Jesus your Savior and received the wonderful joy that His finished work on the cross has provided for you to live in, please visit my page here titled Jesus In The Driver’s Seat. On this page I explain the good news of the gospel and you will have the opportunity to pray a prayer of salvation, making Jesus your Savior! Jesus loves you and His arms are wide open!

Sandra McCollom

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God’s Protection Over Us

You have probably figured out by now, especially if you watch the news, that you cannot count on the people and the environment around you always being safe.

I made a personal decision a long time ago to stop watching the news because of the fear it brought along with it. Steve, my husband, tells me what I have to know for the purpose of prayer, but that’s it.

Everyone has to know themselves and I knew if I continued to fill my brain with all the bad things happening in the world, it would affect my level of confidence and my ability to stay sensitive to the Spirit.

Everyone is different so I’m certainly not telling you to stop watching the news. I just encourage you to pay attention to how it affects you. Does it cause you to be more fearful, depressed or hopeless? It was doing that to me and I am not even a person that is prone to depression. I am normally real positive and bubbly so I knew I had to make a change.

If we can’t always trust the people and the environment around us, then who can we trust? God – that’s who! We can trust God completely.

Check out this awesome verse:

Isaiah 41:10

Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice. (AMPC)

I want to go through this verse piece by piece so we don’t just read it and move on. I feel it needs to make a deeper impression in our hearts since we are discussing God’s protection in this post. So lets just take our time.

Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you

This is powerful. We are accompanied by the omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent God at all times. Wow!

Here is what that means:

Omnipotent – having very great or unlimited authority or power.

Omniscient – having complete or unlimited knowledge, awareness, or understanding

Omnipresent – present everywhere at the same time

Our God has unlimited authority and power, complete knowledge, awareness and understanding and is everywhere at the same time. Certainly no amount of worrying on our part or figuring out how we can keep ourselves safe would be able to outweigh God’s ability, might and power to protect us. We serve an all powerful God Who does more than just protect us. He Himself is our protection!

Do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God.

This part of the verse reminds us that we have two choices. We can choose to walk around panic-stricken, discouraged and distressed or we can remember that He is our God, keeping in mind that we just talked about how all-powerful, all-knowing and ever-present our God is. He can do anything. Nothing is impossible for Him!

I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with my [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice. 

Here we see that we will be strengthened by God, helped by Him, upheld by Him and retained by Him. Retained means to keep possession of so God is keeping possession of us.

If He is keeping possession of us than that means He will NOT let us go.

So the truth of the matter is, we have a choice to walk in fear and unbelief or to trust that God’s Word is true. I choose God’s Word! I choose God’s promises about how He is protecting me and my family.

There are a lot more promises in the Bible regarding this subject in addition to Isaiah 41:10. I encourage you to memorize a few of them on this particular subject so they can become settled in your heart with use and over time. They are so easy to find. Just google Bible verses about God’s protection and there you go!

Here are a few I have memorized. I turned this one in Psalm 91 into a confession and speak it over myself and my family:

Yes, because God’s our refuge, the high God our very own home, evil can’t get close to us, harm can’t get through the door. He will order His angels to guard us wherever we go. (from Psalm 91:9-11 MSG)

Instead of being fearful wherever we go of what someone might suddenly do, I encourage you to walk around remembering that God Almighty goes with you everywhere you go. This will cause you to walk with a real sense of confidence every step you take.

Just days after one of the horrible shootings took place, which Steve told me about so I could be praying, we were grocery shopping. I started to send my girls about 20 feet away to get some bananas for me while I was collecting other fruit.

My first thought was, “Oh my gosh, maybe I better not let them get that far from me. After all, what if someone tried to do something dangerous and I wasn’t with them to protect them.”

Thankfully, my second thought was, “I can’t place my trust in myself to protect my kids. If I go around feeling like the job is on my shoulders, I will be stressed out to the max. I have to trust God to protect them. He is here with us, He walked in with us and He is with us everywhere we go.”

Here is another confession I often speak over my life:

No weapon formed against me shall prosper, but every tongue that rises against me in judgement I shall show to be in the wrong. This is my peace, righteousness, security and triumph over opposition and is my heritage because I am a servant of the Lord. This is the righteousness or the vindication which I obtain from The Lord. This is that which He imparts to me as my justification. (from Isaiah 54:17)

The other day the story of Sodom and Gomorrah came to me and how God sent His angels to save Lot and his family before destroying those cities. When the men of the city became angry at Lot, they started to attack him. But here is what verses 10 & 11 of Genesis 19 say happened when these men tried to attack Lot.

10 But the two men inside (angels) reached out, pulled Lot back into the house, and shut the door. 11 Then they struck all the men outside with blindness, so that they couldn’t find the door. (GNT)

I just think that is so cool! I truly believe if God sent angels to protect Lot like that, He would do it for us as well. I think about God’s ability to protect my family often so when God brought that story of Lot to my remembrance the other day, I started imagining an angel picking someone up and moving them out of the way, if need be, to protect me.

Your imagination is powerful and you can choose to use it for good or evil. One way to use it for good is by purposely sitting around and imagining God and His greatness. I do it all the time and I encourage you to do it too!

My husband Steve and I talk to our girls about God’s protection. When they are going through fears, we pray with them and encourage them that everything is going to be fine. We remind them that we are protected in every way through the finished work of the cross and nobody will ever be able to harm us.

If anyone ever tried, I tell my girls I believe God would protect us in some way, even if it meant that person/those people dropping dead right there on the spot. I’m not kidding. I believe this with all my heart. God is all powerful and He is MY GOD!

Someone may say, well that is a little overboard Sandra. I mean we are not guaranteed of anything, but I am not going to sit around and imagine the worst in life. I am believing for the best and that includes God’s protection. What we believe is powerful and it makes a difference.

If we are not careful, we can start believing more in the devil’s ability to harm us than in God’s ability to save us from harm.

Now, I am not saying there isn’t wisdom that comes into play here as well because there certainly is.

My daughter Starr asked me a great question a few months ago. She said, “Mom, if you believe that nobody will ever harm us and that we will always be protected, why do we lock our doors and why do you watch us so closely when we go outside?”

That was an awesome question and here is how I answered it:

I said, “Even though I fully believe what I have told you, there are still principles of wisdom that we can walk in.” I then gave her a few examples.

I also like how my Mom replied when I told her about Starr’s question. She said, “One of the ways God does protect us is through the wisdom He leads us to walk in.” That is so true!

No matter who it is and how grounded they are in the Word, we all get attacked with fear sometimes. A few weeks ago Steve and I went on a marriage getaway and the day before we left I had this panic-stricken thought.

What if something happens to the girls while we are gone? The devil was attacking my mind with this thought. I had the same thought maybe two or three times and said to myself, time to pray over this.

I went to my husband and he agreed with me in prayer. First we bound up the spirit of fear that was attacking me, loosed a spirit of peace and then just prayed and believed that we would all be protected and come back together safely.

As a result of praying and believing that God heard our prayer, that was the end of it for me. I did not fight any more fearful thoughts the whole trip, but instead felt certain that we were all being protected!

When I write a blog post, especially one of this nature, I like to come at the subject from various angles because I realize that people have different experiences in life.

I am well aware that there are people, and quite a number of them, who have gone through situations and even tragedies that have left them with questions.

I wouldn’t dream of telling someone who has been involved in a tragic situation that they didn’t have enough faith and that is why they went through what they did. It’s very uncool when Christians say this kind of stuff to other Christians who are writhing in pain.

I think we try to give all the answers sometimes and end up causing people more pain instead of simply being a comfort in their time of need. Sometimes we have a hard time just saying, You know what, I don’t understand why that happened and I can’t explain it. 

Even if we can’t fit an answer into the slot where we think it should go, that’s ok.

This is a very important topic because I do believe when a person wants an answer and doesn’t have one, far too often in an effort to come up with an answer, they then come to the conclusion that God must’ve caused or permitted this bad situation or tragedy in their own life or someone else’s life for a higher purpose.

I am not ok with people treating God like this.

Now, let me clarify that I do realize that many people believe this way because they’ve been taught this. They simply don’t know any different.

But I have great news for you, that is not God’s nature! I will be a defender of God’s true nature for as long as I live.

Maybe this will help. This verse settled the whole issue for me:

Jesus himself said:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. – John 10:10 (NASB)

We live in a fallen world and we have an enemy (the thief). We can’t explain everything, but I believe with all my heart that:

God is good and He does only good things.

The devil is bad and he does only bad things.

And anytime the devil does manage to attack us, if we keep trusting God, He will turn everything around and work it together for our good.

When a person is hurting, they don’t need us to try to solve their problems anyway. They need us to listen, be compassionate and support them in prayer and in other ways that we are led to be a support.

A couple, who are friends of ours, went through a terrible tragedy almost 4 years ago. I asked them if I could use their story to help others who have had questions.

Mary Ann loved babies and all she ever wanted to do when she grew up was get married and have babies. She waited for her prince charming, James, who is very good to her. One year and one week after their beautiful wedding Mary Ann’s dream of having a baby was coming true, or so she thought.

Everything was going along great with the pregnancy until her 16 week appointment. They found out they were having a girl – that was great news. But they also found out after having an ultrasound that something was wrong with their baby.

After an amniocentesis was performed the doctor told them their baby girl had Triploidy. Triploidy is a disorder that arises at conception when a baby starts life in the womb with a complete extra set of chromosomes. Most people have two sets of 23 chromosomes, making 46 in all. Babies with triploidy have an entire extra set of chromosomes, making 69 in all.

Actually, for their daughter to even still be alive at 20 weeks (the time of the amnio), was amazing. So James and Mary Ann started calling many of their friends, including us, telling their story and asking for everyone to agree with them for a miracle. When I interviewed Mary Ann in preparation for this blog post, she said, “We totally believed Aubrey would be healed.” I did too. I remember getting the call and thinking, that is no problem for God.

Sadly though, at 26 weeks, James and Mary Ann found out their beautiful little girl had passed. In the midst of their heavy grief, they had to go to the hospital immediately for Mary Ann to be induced and give birth to Aubrey.

She was in a high level of danger herself due to the situation. In fact, the doctor had an operating room on hold, thinking for sure that he would need it to save Mary Ann’s life. But she told me she had an easy delivery and this usually never happens in cases like hers.

Things were happening so fast that her and James were basically in shock. They were being asked many questions but it was hard to make decisions because they felt numb.

It wasn’t until after Aubrey was born that it really hit Mary Ann. She said she cried for days. She said this about their loss, One of the worst feelings ever is leaving the hospital without your baby, knowing that you can never go back and pick your baby up.

They had a memorial service at their church. I remember attending. That was hard. Mary Ann said she couldn’t even go to the burial site. She just couldn’t.

I asked her about the emotional pain she went through during their loss and she said she told one of the pastors at their church this; I never wanted to be this woman. I never wanted to lose my child. He and his wife knew this pain well. They had also lost a son in a car accident at the age of 18 months.

We were all delighted to hear that James and Mary Ann became pregnant just 7 weeks after their loss. This helped ease their pain and they were thankful to God for this blessing much sooner than they even expected.

When a person is hurting and even struggling with questions for God, as Mary Ann was, God meets them right where they are. He did something special for her one day. Here is what happened in Mary Ann’s own words.

About 5 months after Aubrey had passed away, James & I were listening to Close Encounters of the God Kind. (this is the true story of Jesse Duplantis being taken to heaven) Jesse was talking about this room in heaven where all the babies were at- every miscarried, still born or aborted baby. Angels were teaching the children and they were happy; however, they still longed for/wanted their mothers. They could not wait till their parents were with them in heaven. That moved me so much since Aubrey was a still born. What he spoke just took that weight away. I knew she loved me. She was waiting for me. She wanted me just as much as I wanted/always will want her.

This October 30th Aubrey would have been 4 years old, so time has brought healing, as well as counseling and prayer.

Mary Ann says she still struggles with her faith sometimes, but as time goes by, she continues to get a little more understanding and peace. She still has questions sometimes, but she knows it is going to be ok.

She has a tough time trusting God sometimes, especially in the area of protection over her babies (she has two boys now!), but deep down inside she said she knows it is going to be ok.

Mary Ann went through an array of emotions over losing her baby girl – emotions including feeling like she didn’t have enough faith, hadn’t prayed enough, that her faith was somehow wrong or even that maybe she was being punished for past sins.

She knows now that none of this is true and James and Mary Ann have become stronger people through their pain. She named a few of the ways that God has strengthened them.

  • Their marriage has been strengthened
  • The devil tried to make Mary Ann hate God, but he didn’t succeed
  • She has more of a personal relationship with God now (a special bond) she didn’t have before
  • James says he now has more of a confidence that God won’t abandon him in his time of need
  • Through their pain, both James and Mary Ann have made the choice that they will believe God’s Word, no matter what.

Although everything in life certainly doesn’t turn out the way we expect it will, we can’t afford to have a wishy-washy view on God’s desire to protect us. It is critical that we walk with confidence in this area. This confidence comes through many avenues, one of the most important being, renewing our mind with the promises in God’s Word.

Then, for the seasons in life that we don’t understand, we can know that God’s grace will be there in abundance to carry us through. We can trust that God, although He doesn’t personally cause or allow our suffering, will take all the pieces of our life, even the pieces that have had the sharpest edges, and fit them together for the good according to Romans 8:28.

Update! Update!

I have an awesome update to report on James and Mary Ann’s Family! They are now coming up on 8 years since Aubrey’s passing and look what a beautiful family God has given them!

They had 3 boys and then, just 11 months ago, they had another little girl! (plus they have Aubrey waiting for them in heaven)!

Just think:

James and Mary Ann could have handled Aubrey’s death so many other ways than how they chose to handle it. They could have just curled up on the side of the road of life and stopped trusting God completely. They could have blamed God. They could have been angry at God. They could’ve responded in a variety of ways, but do you remember what Mary Ann said during her interview with me 4 years ago when I initially published this post?

She said:

  • Through our pain, both James and I have made the choice that we will believe God’s Word, no matter what.

This was an incredibly powerful choice they made and it’s one of the main reasons I wanted to post this update – so you could be encouraged in the midst of your own hardships.

God is faithful. God is faithful. God. Is. faithful!

If you have not yet made Jesus your Savior and received the wonderful joy that His finished work on the cross has provided for you to live in, please visit my page here titled Jesus In The Driver’s Seat. On this page I explain the good news of the gospel and you will have the opportunity to pray a prayer of salvation, making Jesus your Savior! Jesus loves you and His arms are wide open!

Sandra McCollom

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Where Sin Abounds, Grace Superabounds

All my life I had struggled with being late. Believe me, it was a chronic problem. I can even remember running down my subdivision street, chasing the school bus fairly often in elementary school as a result of standing in front of the bathroom mirror too long and not leaving my house in time.

The Apostle Paul said,

20 God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. 21 So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  – Romans 5:20-21 (NLT)

The following story is my personal story of how God’s amazing grace freed me from this life-long bondage that I had struggled, for decades, to free myself from.

One afternoon I was on my way to visit my Grandma and once again I realized I was going to be late. (Sigh) I started to feel guilty like I did every time I ran late, but that day something different happened.

My wonderful Helper, the Holy Spirit, reminded me that I couldn’t keep fighting this sin in the same way I had always tried to before, by my own human efforts. He encouraged me not to feel bad about myself and instead, remember what was true about me…in Christ.

Thankfully, I heeded His advice and said to myself, “No Sandra, you’re not going to allow the devil to bury you under guilt and condemnation any longer. That was the old Sandra (pre-grace revelation Sandra). The new Sandra doesn’t do things the same way. Remember, you know something now that you didn’t know before.”

It wasn’t like I was sweeping this issue under the rug and ignoring it or saying to myself, I can do whatever I want now that I’m living under grace. No! In fact, I began to pray and tell The Lord (while driving to see my Grandma) that I did not want to continue being late everywhere I went, but…

In the past, each time I realized I was going to be late somewhere (which was almost always), I would start feeling terrible about myself and at the same time anxiously try to concoct a plan for how I could get free from this life-long struggle. (self effort)

Fearful thoughts would flood my mind such as, I have to stop being late everywhere. I gotta get free from this bondage. This is terrible. I cannot keep doing this. And at the same time I had self-talk like this, I will never get free from this. There’s no hope for me. I try so hard but it never works out. I’m a failure.

I wonder if maybe you can relate to this inner dialogue in some area of your own life?

If so, please keep reading because this story is about to turn for the good!

Thankfully, on that glorious day in the Fall of 2012, the Holy Spirit showed me the practical application of grace in my life. That day He led me to think and say (out loud), some very different things than I had ever said before.

I recall saying, “God, I thank you that I am loved unconditionally by You even though I am on my way to see my Grandma and will be late. You love me just as much as if I was not late because You love me simply because I’m Your child. Your love for me is not based on my works.”

“I thank You God that I am righteous in You. I am not less righteous right now because I am running late and I wouldn’t be more righteous than I am right now if I was on time. My righteousness is in You, completely separate from what I do or do not do.”

Of course I began to relax the moment I started speaking these things out. The anxiety began to subside. I could breathe.

I went on, “I thank You God that I am forgiven right now because of the blood that Jesus shed for me on the cross. I’m not less forgiven because I’m late. I have complete forgiveness in Christ Jesus!”

Interestingly enough, I went through this same scenario about three different times when I was running late and after about the third time I clearly recall that something changed in my heart.

I told my husband, “Steve, something has changed in me. I suddenly have this strong desire to walk in love with people in this area by being on time. I want to walk in love with you and the girls (my family) by not making you feel as if we are rushing out the door all the time and I also want to walk in love with the person waiting for me to meet them by being on time for them.”

I don’t mention having done this three times as some sort of magic number, but simply to show you how fast God freed me from a lifelong problem that I could never, not with all the trying in the world, free myself from!

Once I gave up on my own human efforts and threw myself on the grace of God – once I decided to receive His grace right in the middle of my mess instead of waiting until I had my mess cleaned up so I could ‘deserve’ His grace, the bondage was annihilated.

And did you notice that I went from following a law – I have to stop being late everywhere. I gotta get free from this bondage 

to following this new commandment that Jesus gave us:

34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” – John 13:34-35 (NLT)

That’s what a life lived under the waterfall of God’s grace does for us. It helps us live with the law of love as our guide!

How many Christians will not receive God’s grace unless they think they deserve it? I did this for decades. But guess what – that’s not grace! Grace is God’s unmerited, unearned, undeserved favor – period, end of the conversation.

After God’s grace produced this change in my heart I started being on time. Of course, I wasn’t perfect, but let’s just say, where I used to be late 90% of the time, I would now arrive early 90% of the time!

This freedom I enjoy was and still is simply amazing to me to see how quickly and easily God’s grace changed me from the inside out. I experienced heart transformation and it was so much better than the behavior modification I had going on for so long. I could hardly believe what was happening to me after all those years of struggling to get free.

When you and I receive God’s grace by faith, it produces His power working in and through us! This is what happened to me.

As I decided to stop condemning myself and concocting my own plan for freedom through self-effort, and instead placed my trust in the unmerited favor of God, His power went to work in my heart. As a result, instead of me feeling like I HAVE to stop being late I would think I WANT to walk in love with people by being on time. God’s grace changed my have to into a want to and His grace can do the same for you in any area of your life.

I purposely meditated, right in the middle of being late, on the following Biblical truths:

1.) God’s love has not changed toward me one bit.

38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39 (NLT)

2.) God is not going to take back the gift of righteousness He has given to me because I sinned.

For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ. – Romans 5:17 (NLT)

3.) God is not charging the sin of being late to my account because He has already completely forgiven me of all of my sins – past, present and future sins – according to the riches of His grace.

He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. – Colossians 2:14 (NLT)

As I meditated on these truths and spoke them out, right in the middle of my sin, I was changed!

My friend, this is what receiving grace looks like!

Look at this verse:

Galatians 3:10 (AMP)

10 And all who depend on the Law [who are seeking to be justified by obedience to the Law of rituals] are under a curse and doomed to disappointment and destruction, for it is written in the Scriptures, Cursed (accursed, devoted to destruction, doomed to eternal punishment) be everyone who does not continue to abide (live and remain) by all the precepts and commands written in the Book of the Law and to practice them.

Now look at this great news:

Galatians 3:13 (AMP)

Christ purchased our freedom [redeeming us] from the curse (doom) of the Law [and its condemnation] by [Himself] becoming a curse for us, for it is written [in the Scriptures], Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree (is crucified);

These verses are amazing because how many times do we look right past what Jesus did for us to our list of rules and regulations instead? No wonder I wasn’t getting free before I realized I could receive what Jesus had already done for me.

Yes, I had believed in and received Christ the day I was saved at the age of 8, but not long after this I turned away from focusing on my relationship with Him and focused completely on living this thing out in my own strength instead. Bad idea. I was doomed to disappointment as it says in Galatians 3:10 and believe me, that’s exactly what I was experiencing. I was often disappointed in myself.

But not anymore, thank God!

Interestingly enough, several different times since God initially set me free in 2012 (including recently) I have begun to be late a lot once again. Each time I started to stress about it anxiously saying things to myself similar to what I had in the past, “I can’t start being late again, etc,” but thankfully God helped me and sent me back in the right direction. I recall Him speaking this to my heart, ‘No Sandra, you don’t have to live this way. Just get right back to believing in the grace I’ve provided for you.’

I did and guess what happened? I started getting places on time again!

Each time this has happened I’ve noticed that I remembered what actually frees me faster (God’s grace) which means I caught the devil in His lies and stopped believing them more quickly.

If I ever fall back into being late again I think I’ll just ignore the devil all together. Why should we let him waste our time. Freedom belongs to us…in Christ Jesus.

Yay – now we know the answer. We don’t have to be afraid of getting trapped in sin again. If we falter in the future, we know exactly what to do…trust completely in Jesus!

In addition, as I have said in other blog posts, when we get out from under guilt and condemnation and lay down our self-efforts, we are then able to clearly hear from and be led by the Holy Spirit as to any Spirit-led actions He wants us to take to assist us in overcoming areas of sin in our lives.

I have lost count, at this point, of the number of freedoms I have received by God’s Superabounding Grace.

My friend, as a Believer in Jesus, freedom living is your reality in Christ Jesus! Believe it and you will live it!

If you have not yet made Jesus your Savior and received the wonderful joy that His finished work on the cross has provided for you to live in, please visit my page here titled Jesus In The Driver’s Seat. On this page I explain the good news of the gospel and you will have the opportunity to pray a prayer of salvation, making Jesus your Savior! Jesus loves you and His arms are wide open!

Sandra McCollom