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You Don’t Have To Carry The Burden

Business man carrying an old box saying "BURDEN" - indicates debt and business burden

Hebrews 12:1-2 says,

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. (NLT) 

Jesus is always working in us as we keep our eyes fixed on Him!

Don’t make the big deal about what you do (how you behave). Just a warning though: This may make some people (self-righteous people) mad.

Make the big deal about what Jesus has done for you through His finished work on the cross.

This way of doing life will remove the heavy weight you may be carrying of trying to fix yourself. It will also bring you great peace and cause your biehavior to improve. Yes, you read that correctly. This way of approaching life will cause you to grow in Christ.

Why?

Right believing leads to right living!

You will be changed by the Holy Spirit as you keep your eyes on Jesus!  See 2 Corinthians 3:18.

Here’s an example from my own life that just happened today:

I was sick today and had to miss the last day of volunteering at JUMP Camp. I started getting a sore throat yesterday about mid-day and it turned into a cold and flu type thing. I’m sitting here in my bed in the same pajamas I woke up in, just to give you an idea.

I do not believe God puts sickness on us or that He allows it, but I do believe there are times when we experience negative circumstances in our life as a result of the natural consequences that come along with our poor choices. This is what happened to me today.

I explained in my last blog post about the importance of getting enough sleep and admitted that this has been a difficult discipline for me.

During the past two weeks while volunteering at JUMP camp I was hoping to get on a better sleeping schedule, but I didn’t follow through as I should have.

I may have gotten a full 8 hours of sleep 2 out of the 7 nights. This left me with 5 other nights where I got less than 8 hours and on two or more of those occassions I got between 4 and 5 hours of sleep. NOT cool.

Thank God the lack of sleep didn’t affect my interactions with the kids or adults at camp because it could have caused me to be crabby. I shouldn’t have taken that chance.

I’m very thankful I wasn’t crabby, but felt peaceful the whole two weeks (whew). I did experience some tired spells at different times throughout the day though.

Then yesterday about midday it hit me, I started getting a sore throat. I get sick so very little that this was a surprise to me until I remembered how very little sleep I had been getting.

In fact, as I was typing this it came back to me that the last time I got sick was during a time when I wasn’t getting the right amount of sleep either. And I have no excuses.

I could have gotten in bed earlier if I really wanted to.  So I think I’ve made it pretty clear that I need help in this area.

Something very important I want to point out though, is that I have had zero guilt and condemnation over this. I’ve been sad that I disobeyed God by not getting in bed when I should have, that I had to miss my last day of JUMP camp and also had to miss another very special event tonight that our family was invited to… but not one ounce of guilt or condemnation.

I have a closer relationship with God now than I’ve ever had before so, of course, it makes me sad when I disregard His leading, but my genuine act of repentance didn’t take all day and it never does for me anymore. I already know I’m loved, righteous and forgiven in Christ and I think about that A LOT. In fact, I meditate on these Biblical truths everday!

The Bible says it’s God’s goodness that leads us to repentance, which is why I’m quicker to repent now than ever before. It’s the natural result of having my mind on God’s goodness so often. I hope you’re experiencing this same freedom!

As a believer in Jesus your position of being loved, righteous and forgiven never changes according to what you do or fail to do. It was never established based on you to begin with. Your position in Christ is established on what Jesus Christ did on the cross for you and your acceptance of that.

Even though I know I opened the door for this sickness by allowing my immune system to get worn down through my disobedience (lack of sleep), I’m fully expecting to get over this very quickly. It’s not like I have to be sick for a certain amount of days to pay my dues and then I’m clear. This is not a punishment from God.

In the new covenant of God’s grace we don’t get punished for our sin, thanks to Jesus. He already took all the punishment for all of our sin in His body on the cross. His willingness to go to the cross changed everything!

I also want to be sure I clarify that every time we are sick or have a negative circumstance, this does not always mean we’re living out natural consequences from some choice we’ve made. Many times these things just happen as a result of us living in a fallen world. The devil will continue to attack us until that glorious day when God throws him into the fiery lake of burning sulphur.

Revelation 20:10 (NLT)

Then the devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur, joining the beast and the false prophet. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Seriously, I’m just sayin’ – this is going to be one of the happiest days of my life!

But until this day arrives, we have to fight the good fight of faith and remember that we have authority over the devil.

Fight the good fight of the faith [in the conflict with evil]; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and [for which] you made the good confession [of faith] in the presence of many witnesses. –1 Timothy 6:12 (AMP)

Ok, I just got a fresh revelation on the importance of us knowing we are completely forgiven in conjunction with us walking in our authority in Christ from reading these next two verses.

Colossians 2:14-15 

14 He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. 15 In this way, He disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by His victory over them on the cross. (NLT)

Jesus paid our debt and secured our complete forgiveness. ‘In this way’ He disarmed and shamed the devil and his demons by His victory over them on the cross. Then He gave this authority to us, His followers!

Through the cross, the authority Adam and Eve handed over to satan has now been handed back to us believers – all because of Jesus.

See, I told you the cross changed everything!

Luke 10:19 (AMP)

19 Listen carefully: I have given you authority [that you now possess] to tread on serpents and scorpions, and [the ability to exercise authority] over all the power of the enemy (Satan); and nothing will [in any way] harm you.

My good friend Cally had to fight the good fight of faith and remember her authority in Christ recently as she got some routine blood tests and her numbers were really high, indicating possible cancer.

Her doctor wanted to do exploratory surgery. I watched her rest in Jesus’ finished work and all that He has provided for her. From that place of rest I also watched her follow through on a specific protocol that the Holy Spirit led her to go on.

She received grace to implement this protocol AND she just received the great news last week that every one of her numbers are completely normal.

Her doctor cannot explain it, but Cally can. No surgery needed. And Cally has already been able to speak into the lives of several doctors as a result of her miracle!

Cally didn’t carry the burden of her healing because she understands that when Jesus said, it is finished, He meant it is finished! She stayed in peace, relied on the power of prayer and God’s Word and followed the leading of the Holy Spirit.

This is not the first time Cally has received a miracle either. Another one of her miraculous stories is in my book and in this blog post titled Victorious Living.

God is still in the miracle working business folks. In fact, I’m convinced if we wrote down all the good things God did for us we would be astounded by the way He miraculously watches over us!

Just this week on the first day of camp my right eye was bothering me really bad. I almost never have eye problems. Sometimes, don’t you just want to say, “you’re so obvious devil.”

I even had to borrow eye wash and saline solution from the first aid station at camp several times during the day to get rid of the pain, but it started hurting again after getting home.

I simply prayed over my eye and commanded the pain to go and my eye to be made whole in the name of Jesus and I received the healing that Jesus provided for me through His finished work. It never hurt after that. Healed!

Now, do we perfectly understand everything that happens in this life. No we don’t. Sometimes we have to set aside what we don’t understand and stick with what we do understand and one thing we know is what Jesus Himself said here in John 10:10:

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. – John 10:10 (NKJV)

Another thing we know is that the devil is bad, but God is good.

Referring back to the title of this post, I refuse to carry the burden of trying to change myself in this area of being more disciplined to get the right amount of sleep. I lived that way for far too long and finally decided to trade trying in my own strength for trusting Jesus; therefore, right in the middle of experiencing the natural consequence of my poor choice (being sick), I turned my attention to Jesus and thanked Him once again for His love, His gift of righteousness and His forgiveness.

I know that focusing on God’s grace is the answer. I’ve had too many positive changes in my life over the past 4 years of my grace journey in areas that I struggled to change in my own strength for years and years to not believe my answer is the grace of God. I could never be convinced otherwise.

I’m not sitting here feeling guilty or condemned for my wrong choice. I’m still believing wholeheartedly in the healing power of Jesus for my body and am ever so grateful that it is not based on my actions, but on Jesus’ finished work on the cross.

The more you understand your position in Christ, the more immovable you will be, no matter what storms come along.

My friend, always remember you can rest in Jesus’ finished work for every single thing you need!

Make the big deal about Jesus and His perfect life of obedience to His Father. Refuse to make the big deal about you and your failures.

Go to the the throne of grace. Receive help in your time of need.

When you do this, you will see, as I have, that it is 100% possible for you to enjoy a life of peace and rest!

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

We Are Weak…But He Is Strong

I was singing the song  Jesus Loves Me by Anna B. Warner the other day. As I was singing in first person, this one line really stood out to me: We Are Weak, But He Is Strong. I’ve been singing this all week long and loving it!

Recently, after watching one of my TV interviews, a Christian woman asked me why I get to live in peace and wanted to know where her peace was. I love being asked these types of questions because it forces me to think through my answers and I learn a lot in the process. Questions from other people about my grace journey have actually been a major help to me.

Here’s a portion of my answer to her question:

I believe God created each person with a free will because He loved us so much that He didn’t want to have robots that served Him and loved Him because they were forced to. With free choice came the option to choose good or evil. Even though I was a Christian, I chose the wrong path for many, many years by choosing to rely on myself and my own efforts and by trying to solve my problems without God’s help. This approach to life left me feeling anxious and frustrated almost constantly. I believe the reason I now live in the peace that passes understanding that the Bible talks about is because I finally chose to give up on my own self efforts and told God that I was done trying to live this life in my own strength. When I made the choice to receive His Great Grace and came to the understanding that only through Him was I going to be able to successfully live the Christian life, His peace came over me and it has never left. Just like me, the way you’ll know if you’re trusting in God instead of trying to figure things out on your own and working everything out in your own strength is that you will have peace, even when all of your circumstances are not lining up correctly. You’ll have peace in the midst of the storm. You’ll find yourself relying on God’s ability instead of your own to solve your problems. Now, this doesn’t mean there will be nothing for you to do in regards to your specific circumstances and situations, but whatever actions you take, they need to be Spirit-led actions and not self-led actions.

I’m happy to say that my reply to her question encouraged her. Thank God!

I’ve posted it here with the hope that it will encourage many others as well.

Let me make one clarification to my response: Of course, what I said to her doesn’t mean I’m living in perfect peace 100% of the time because there are still times when I choose to trust in myself and my own ability to solve my problems instead of trusting in God and receiving His grace for the situation at hand. But life has become pretty simple now for my family and I because when things begin to get chaotic, we simply stop and ask ourselves several questions:

1.) In what area are we not trusting God that is causing this anxiety and frustration?

2.) In what area are we doing our own thing instead of following the leadership of the Holy Spirit?

We’re convinced that the Holy Spirit would never lead us into chaos so if our lives begin to get chaotic, that’s a sign to us that we haven’t taken the time needed to hear God’s heart in one area or another.

There’s an extreme amount of safety in remembering:

WE ARE WEAK…BUT HE IS STRONG

There’s also an extreme amount of danger in us putting confidence in our own flesh.

I love these scriptures that remind me of this truth.

In Philippians 3:3-4 Paul says, 

3 For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort, 4 though I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone could. Indeed, if others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more! (NLT) 

Have you ever heard someone say “Jesus is just a crutch?”

Ha! No way. Jesus isn’t just my crutch. He’s my whole hospital!

1 Corinthians 1:26-31 says,  

Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of the brightest and the best among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these nobodies to expose the hollow pretensions of the somebodies? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have “right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start” comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That’s why we have the saying, “If you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God.” (MSG) 

So let’s sing it out friends. Let’s sing it loud and clear:

We Are Weak, But He Is Strong!

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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Let Peace Be Your Umpire

For many years as a Christian I would override the Holy Spirit by doing what I wanted to do instead of being led by peace. This is one of the reasons I was filled with such anxiety and frustration. I literally felt like I was running around in circles all day long, barely getting anything accomplished.

Now that I am living by letting God’s peace act as an umpire in my life, as Colossians 3:15 (Amplified) instructs us to do, the difference is really significant. These days I live in rest the majority of the time AND I get so much more accomplished than ever before.

As a result of this change, God has given me a desire to spend the rest of my life helping others learn how to live in rest as well!

Following peace is one of the major ways you can do this.

For instance, this morning I made a quick plan that I was going to do something a certain way this evening, but I immediately lost my peace because it was going to require me to stay up late and I have an early appointment tomorrow morning so I do not need to be staying up late.

In the past, I would have just pushed past the check in my heart or uncomfortable feeling inside and went ahead and did what I wanted to do anyway. Not anymore. Living free of anxiety is too valuable to me to push through and do my own thing so I made a quick 180 degree turn and decided to go with peace.

I have to make these types of decisions every single day, all day long, based on how the Holy Spirit is leading me by giving me peace or a lack of peace in any given situation. In fact, I was not planning on writing a blog post this morning at all and I thought my next blog post was going to be on The Value Of Exercise, but God started putting this idea on my heart about an hour ago so I started writing. Even though it wasn’t in my plan to do it, I had peace and knew that I needed to adjust my schedule and finish it.

I encourage you to check out Colossians 3:15 in the Amplified translation and have a Spirit-led, peace-filled week!

To be honest, once you start living this way, you will see that it is like living an adventure when you decide to live your life by going with the Holy Spirit’s plan over your own plan!

If you want to learn more ways God has taught me how to trade my anxiety and frustration for rest and relaxation, I encourage you to get my book titled I Tried Until I Almost Died.

I promise you – it is possible to live in peace!

*A special thank you to my twin girls for gladly offering to cook me breakfast this morning so I could finish this post and get it published. My family loves to see people get helped and encouraged just like I do!

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

 

What’s Rest Got To Do With It?

This past March my twin girls had their first slumber party to celebrate their birthdays. As they were eating breakfast with their friends the next morning I thought to myself, “I want to listen in and see what all these girlsies are talking about.”

Interestingly enough, they were not trying to impress each other by naming off the things that they owned or the things that they had accomplished, like adults sometimes do.

These 10-12 year olds were talking about the vacations they had been on with their families. I sat there and smiled as I said to Steve, “This is so cool. What makes these girls happier than anything is getting to spend time with their families!”

Steve and I really want to be great friends with our daughters, Angel and Starr, all throughout their lives. We’re thoroughly enjoying our relationship with our girls now as well as looking forward to what our relationship is going to look like as they grow up and begin leading lives of their own. We want to continue doing life with them and we want them to want to continue doing life with us as well.

The kind of relationship Steve and I want to have with each other and with our girls is one of the things we kept in mind when we made the decision to go with owning less stuff and have more date nights with each other, date nights with our girls and family vacations.

We are in the middle of a vacation right now and we could definitely have found something else to do with this money (isn’t that always the case), but we don’t want to do something else. We want the memories with each other.

We think investing in our relationships holds far more value than getting our garage fixed up or finishing the decorating on the inside of our home or buying furniture for our one room that still doesn’t have any after four years of living here.

That will all be done over time, one thing at a time, but the memories come first. Why? Because they’re more than just memories.

We’re building a family identity together. The security our girls are gaining from knowing that they are so much more valuable to us than material possessions is something we believe they will take with them into their own families.

Really, so many of the decisions Steve and I are making now, by God’s grace, are actually an investment, not only into our kids lives, but also into our grandkids lives. Did I mention we are already looking so forward to having grandkids? Cannot wait!

In talking about this subject, I realize there are many people who are barely paying the bills with the income that they earn and I am definitely not for spending money you don’t have.

So everyone has to start where they are at. For instance, Steve and I go on a date twice a month, but we don’t want to pay a sitter twice a month so one of our dates is a stay-at-home date. This way our date money that we set aside each time Steve gets an extra check (which is twice a year) lasts a lot longer.

As I mentioned, we are on a vacation right now and it is a dream come true for me. Ever since I saw the Anne of Green Gables series of movies years ago I have wanted to go to Prince Edward Island, Canada. Well, I will be there by the end of this week, but this didn’t happen immediately just because I wished for it. It took lots of years of being patient and not getting ourselves into debt by spending money we didn’t have and continuing to believe that if we used wisdom that we would be able to go someday.

When I first started having a desire to do this our girls were not even born yet and they are now 11 years old so you can see how much patience I’ve needed to have. And that’s ok. Waiting is good for us. Do you know how much I am going to treasure the memories from this vacation since I have waited to do this for so many years? A lot!

Anything is possible when we are willing to put whatever little amount of money we can aside and wait, wait, wait. The thing that Steve and I have found out to be true with money is, if we don’t set it aside for date nights with each other, date nights with our girls and family vacations, that money will get spent some other way and usually very rapidly. But if we set some aside from each paycheck or from the extra paychecks Steve gets, it does eventually add up so we can do some special things with each other and with our kids!

So please don’t let the fact that you don’t have enough money right now stop you. You can even take a stay-cation. You can take off work for the week, stay at home and plan lots of local things to do with your family. We have done this before as well and it was so much fun!

And most importantly, above and beyond all of this, you gotta believe that God, your Heavenly Father, does want to see you blessed. It really is ok with Him if you laugh a lot and take breaks and go out and have fun and go on vacations.

I know for me personally, I used to feel like I was doing something wrong if I wasn’t working all the time.  It was ridiculous. I think a lot of people struggle with this. For me, so much of this workaholic mentality stemmed from my misconceptions about God and the way I perceived Him to be, but thankfully I’m getting all straightened out now by His grace. Now I see God as my Heavenly Father who loves, loves, loves me.

You wouldn’t even believe the number of times I’ve simply prayed and seen miraculous answers. I’ve prayed simple, believing prayers like this. “Dear God, I sure would like to have some more money for date nights. We are running low and won’t be getting any more for a number of months. I trust you to provide for us, in Jesus’ name, Amen!” or “Dear God, I would love to go to this particular place on a family vacation. It’s a desire of my heart. I thank you for providing the finances for us to be able to do this someday, according to Your will, in Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Obviously, from a physical and mental standpoint having an impromptu mid-week movie night with the family, a day of rest, time out with your friends, date nights, and vacations are all so good for you because they allow you to pull away from your normal everyday life and throw in some variety and they allow you to recover.

Yesterday we were on a bike ride with our friends, Frankie and Teresa, in upstate New York. As we were coasting down one of the hills on our bike ride I told Angel and Starr, “It’s in the times when you’re coasting downhill that you can recover for the times when you have to peddle uphill.”

It’s the same in life. This is what vacations are for. This is what time alone is for. This is what Mom’s nights out are for. This is what date nights are for. This is what any and every kind of break is for – recovery and strength building so we can then do everything else God has called us to do in life!

Don’t be afraid to rest because rest has everything to do with God’s overall plan for you!

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