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Women in His Presence

by Erica Salazar

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faith

A New Level Of Crazy

If you would have asked me two years ago if I was a mature Christian I would have said, “Yes!” But over the past two years God is drawing me into a whole other level.

As it is…..

To the outside, being a follower of Christ is CRAZY.

To the outside, believing that the Bible doesn’t need to change with the times is CRAZY.

To the outside, being conservative is CRAZY.

But, to the outside and inside the church, believing that God has spoken a specific promise about marriage restoration is even CRAZY to many.

In fact it’s even CRAZY to me.

But, God has definitely drawn me to a crossroad where I have to face a couple of crucial questions.

1. What is God’s character?
2 Peter 3:9
9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

1. What does God desire?
Romans 12:1-2
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

2. What’s the truth about each person’s creation?
Psalm 139:13
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

Psalm 51:6
6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place. But to I have to believe in the crazy.

3. What is God trying to teach me?
Hebrews 10:36
36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

In order to persevere however, I have to go to a whole other level. In fact it’s a whole other level of CRAZY. It’s the kind of CRAZY that people will laugh at like Noah building the ark. It’s the kind of CRAZY that is impossible like Moses going to ask Pharaoh to let the Israelites go. It’s the kind of CRAZY that is unrealistic like Abraham and Sarah bearing children of their own.

If there is one thing I’ve come to realize though, these acts of obedience and faith in the Old Testament, made the way for the biggest CRAZY thing in the New Testament. The birth of a man named Jesus who sacrificed his life for us and then rose from the dead.

This level of CRAZY really requires me to dig deep in prayer. It requires that I believe in prayer. It requires that I believe my God speaks to me. It requires me to trust His voice. It requires me to be patient. It requires me to look at Him and not the circumstances. It requires me to look at me and learn how I need to change. It requires me to go against any bit of human logic and lean on the wisdom and truth of the LORD. This level is hard. It’s not easy. But, it is maturing me and bringing me closer to Christ. Ultimately, it’s a whole other level of CRAZY that I actually enjoy and brings the most peace. So being CRAZY for Christ is exactly where I want to be.

To God be the Glory,
Erica

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God Gave Me a Stone

My dogs favorite thing to do is have time off the leash. This means they can run fast and crazy without bothering anyone.  It’s complete freedom and bliss for them, which also makes me happy to see.

A couple of weeks ago, we were doing our normal off-the-leash trek when I decided to cut through the grass to a nearby waterhole.   Once there, they did their normal swim and stick fetching until it was time to head back.

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As I was walking back across the grass, I stubbed my toe on something hard.  As I reached down into the uncut grass, my hand stumbled upon a sphere shaped object. Pulling it up for inspection, I found it to be a rock. I found this to be quite unusual. So when I got back to the street, I had to test it.  I threw that rock down hard to see if it would break like mud but it didn’t. Therefore, like all other times an oddity occurs in nature with me, I took it to be some sort of message from God.

As I walked back home, I tossed that rock up in the air repeatedly.  As I did that, a couple of things came to mind:

1. Heft-This rock has the perfect heft to throw far and do damage.

2.  Catapult-This rock would be perfect for a medieval sling that catapults stones to hurt the enemy.

3.  David killed Goliath with a stone.

4.  Jesus’ tomb was covered with a large stone.

When I got home, I looked up the definitions for heft and catapult.

Heft: the weight of someone or something

Catapult: a device in which accumulated tension is suddenly released to hurl an object some distance, in particular.

So what was the message…..

God revealed to me that this stone represented a burden I am carrying.  As difficult as the burden is, he told me the heft and heaviness is exactly what is need to create a deadly blow to the enemy.

My arm on the other hand is like a catapult that the stone rests upon. The heavier the burden/stone gets, the further my forearm will hinge back and down closing in towards my shoulder   However, like a catapult, it will only go back so far.    Eventually, the tension will build upon the hinge until it can go no further. At that moment, with unleashing force, the stone will be released causing a deadly blow to the enemy.

Therefore, the burden that I carry of what is dead, will come back to life.

To God be the Glory

 

 

 

Ready for War

He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow, and concealed me in his quiver.

Isaiah 49:2

As the year comes to an end, 2017 has been a year of new firsts, a season of waiting, and a total dependence on the Lord.

As the past lingers with unexpected reminders, so does God’s Truth. It hits hard and is a constant reminder of how things work when someone steps out of God’s will and when you remain under his covering.

It’s been a year of experiencing the truth of living in the light and witnessing when someone chooses to live in the dark.

It’s been a year of focus when God is first, and yet a year of distraction when a career grabs a hold of my heart.

It’s been a year that magnifies the areas of my flesh that need to be scrubbed away. At the same time, I’ve seen how he has also slowly transformed me and my heart.

Overall, it’s been a lesson that’s preparing me to pick up the Sword of the Spirit in 2018 and really fight for the kingdom of God.

I’ve been too passive.
I’ve been too complacent.
I’ve been too worried what people will think.

All the while, people are lost.

I haven’t spread the gospel the way I’ve been called to. I’ve kept too much in, because I’m so focused on something that is God’s business. It involves me, but the saving, healing, and mending is not mine.

He has simply called me to obey Him and wait.

I however, have been too busy wasting time trying to understand it. I’ve wasted time letting my flesh fight being obedient.

But not anymore. I choose YOU-God.

As 2018 approaches, let me encourage you to choose Him too.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t realize that choosing Jesus meant dying to self and living by the Spirit and not the flesh.

It is a constant wrestling, but the Spirit is winning more and more. I’ve been stretched beyond what I thought possible. But it is undeniably comforting, peaceful, and exciting.

When I gave my life to Christ, if I would have known before hand the fire and refining I would go through, I would have been too afraid to proceed. But coming out of it polished and sharpened, I can’t imagine living my life without going through it.

2018 will be a year of conquering and gaining ground.  It will be a year of harvest and hard work for the kingdom.

Set your eyes and heart on the Lord this year.   Let he truly be the king that reigns in your heart.

To God be the Glory

 

Relentless

My grandma has always had a special touch in making a backyard look special and relaxing.

This Thanksgiving morning, I sit in the backyard reflecting, resting, and enjoying the birds, fresh air, and just being alert to what God has to say today.

 

RELENTLESS.

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He reminds me that his love is relentless and so should mine.

I am a STANDER.

Many of you may not know what this is, but it means you are waiting for your marriage to be restored. You are standing in the gap for your spouse in prayer and petition. You do not date. You wait even in they are in a relationship. You wait even if they remarry. You wait for God’s perfect timing for your marriage to be restored. Even if it takes twenty years.

It’s not always easy and it’s flat out crazy, but it’s not as uncommon as you would think. In fact, there are many amazing testimonies and they all have common patterns that include what led to the divorce as well as what happens when restoration begins.

Like Jonah, a stander cannot run from their calling. God makes it clear over and over. He always answers to stay the course when logic and flesh want to take over.

It seems so impossible. There is nothing in the natural that I can see to even have hope for. But, my God is a God of faith, hope, and love.

I am thankful.

1. Thankful for a trial that is truly testing my faith.
2. Thankful for a trial that can only end by God’s strength and power.
3. Thankful for the awareness that I need to grow in prayer and faith.
4. Most of all though, I’m thankful that God has given me the ability to truly love RELENTLESSLY just like he loves us.

It’s the only way to love if you are a stander, because it can be very easy to quit when you are not seeing God’s promises formulating quickly.

RELENTLESS

It’s a strange word that almost sounds violent. Which then reminds me of the cross. Reminds me that Jesus Christ laid down his life for us in the most uncomfortable and painful way.

For us
A group of undeserving sinners
Definitely not logical

So….

Who am I to limit my love, my life, my time, my heart?

You see, what seemed illogical becomes the most logical thing to do when the perspective is through the lens of unconditional love.

Loving like Jesus.

I wear Biblical glasses with lenses set on a prescription of scripture giving me insight to the love of Jesus Christ.

I loved you at your darkest.
Romans 5:8

To God be the Glory

Relentless

My grandma has always had a special touch in making a backyard look special and relaxing.

This Thanksgiving morning, I sit in the backyard reflecting, resting, and enjoying the birds, fresh air, and just being alert to what God has to say today.

RELENTLESS

120DFE1E-73D9-44ED-A5E8-B04D6AEB7C47.jpeg

He reminds me that his love is relentless and so should mine.

I am a STANDER.

Many of you may not know what this is, but it means you are waiting for your marriage to be restored. You are standing in the gap for your spouse in prayer and petition. You do not date. You wait even in they are in a relationship. You wait even if they remarry. You wait for God’s perfect timing for your marriage to be restored. Even if it takes twenty years.

It’s not always easy and it’s flat out crazy, but it’s not as uncommon as you would think. In fact, there are many amazing testimonies and they all have common patterns that include what led to the divorce as well as what happens when restoration begins.

Like Jonah, a stander cannot run from their calling. God makes it clear over and over. He always answers to stay the course when logic and flesh want to take over.

It seems so impossible. There is nothing in the natural that I can see to even have hope for. But, my God is a God of faith, hope, and love.

I am thankful.

1. Thankful for a trial that is truly testing my faith.
2. Thankful for a trial that can only end by God’s strength and power.
3. Thankful for the awareness that I need to grow in prayer and faith.
4. Most of all though, I’m thankful that God has given me the ability to truly love RELENTLESSLY just like he loves us.

It’s the only way to love if you are a stander, because it can be very easy to quit when you are not seeing God’s promises formulating quickly.

RELENTLESS

It’s a strange word that almost sounds violent. Which then reminds me of the cross. Reminds me that Jesus Christ laid down his life for us in the most uncomfortable and painful way.

For us
A group of undeserving sinners
Definitely not logical

So….

Who am I to limit my love, my life, my time, my heart?

You see, what seemed illogical becomes the most logical thing to do when the perspective is through the lens of unconditional love.

Loving like Jesus.

I wear Biblical glasses with lenses set on a prescription of scripture giving me insight to the love of Jesus Christ.

I loved you at your darkest.
Romans 5:8

To God be the Glory

Uprooted

I had a really difficult time about thirteen years ago moving from Houston to a small south Texas town. Even though I had gone to college there, it was still a drastic change from the big city of Houston.

My second year living there was the first time I had heard the saying, “Bloom where you are planted.” From that moment on, I began to embrace the differences and adapt to my new home. It was slow progress, but eventually I loved it. Everywhere I went, I ran into somebody I knew. Wal-Mart was my go to place when I was bored. A drive down the backroads was always relaxing and the outdoors was always near. Friends were like family and across town (15 minutes) seemed far. Traffic was never an issue and summer always brought the best snow-cones and fire flies. No matter the season, the stars were always in view and home was where my heart was.

Uprooted.

Everything I grew to love began to slip through my fingers. It started small, but eventually led to me moving back home to Houston to be near family, find work, and start over with a divorce in the works.

Uprooted.

It hurt. Every root that grew down was tangled around a dream, a spouse, normal routines and friends. And then, it all got pulled out. Trying to cling to every grain of old soil, I fpund that the process rips. Roots don’t let go easy and they take a piece of that earth with them no matter what.

When I saw this tree in the middle of the road I found it to be very interesting. It’s so grown and not like a seed that’s expected to bloom where it’s been planted. No, this seed bloomed already. In fact, it even reproduced. It’s gone through years of growing, storms, branch breaking, and leaves falling and growing.

I wondered, how does it live and not die of shock in the replanting? How do the roots get ahold of something that they never held before? This is new soil. A new territory.

For me, it took support. Luckily I had family to lean on. But, the biggest support was God. Only through the Word of God, could I receive healing. Only through the Word of God, could I receive understanding. Only through the Word of God, could I receive the most delicate pruning. And only through the Word of God, could I have received comfort through this shocking process.

I’m not going to lie. Some of my roots feel a little lost as if nothing quite feels right. Part of my heart isn’t home. Some of my roots are growing deep excited about the new growth to come. But my core root knows to hold tight to only one thing. The root of Jesus Christ. It will always comfort, always provide, and always bring life to my soul.

“For there is hope for a tree, When it is cut down, that it will sprout again, And its shoots will not fail. “Though its roots grow old in the ground And its stump dies in the dry soil, At the scent of water it will flourish And put forth sprigs like a plant.

Job 14:7-9

To God be the Glory

 

Surviving on Higher Ground

Today I went with my youngest sister for our daily walk in the rain. It’s a time we count our blessings that this little area has been spared so far. However, we take pictures of the increasing water behind the house as we toss a toy with the dogs. They have been the few to not mind the rain since it has given them plenty of off leash time and easy access swimming.

On our way back today, my sister noticed a bunch of empty snail shells in the crevices between the sidewalk and the landscaping off to the side.

We began to gather the empty shells and it reminded me of what is happening now during Harvey. So many empty homes whose inhabitants have had to flee. There the shells lay on the ground submerged under a thin layer of water surrounded by debris.

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We tried to rescue a few that were still alive but underwater. Like the rescue helicopters, our hands reached down to pluck the ones that had life. We then began to stick them to the trees to try and give them a chance to survive. My sister then realized, that other snails had made their way up those trees on their own clinging to higher ground.

I love when God reveals himself in nature.

What I was getting from this little observation is, how do we survive the storm? It doesn’t have to be an actual weather storm, but any major disruption in life that is unexpected and can be catastrophic. It upsets and challenges our soul and spirit. Emotionally we can be swept away or in a rage. Or we can rise above to higher ground and be an overcomer.

Again, the question is HOW?

Jesus Christ!

By constantly being in His Presence through the reading of the word and prayer, the Holy Spirit equips us to supernaturally survive when by the world’s view we should be drowning.

It gives you the ability to love unconditionally who you are rejected by.

It gives you the ability to forgive those who don’t even ask for forgiveness.

It gives you the ability to go outside yourself to be helping hands.

It also gives you the knowledge that you are not a victim of your circumstances. Instead you are a victor in Christ.

Matthew 7:24-27New International Version (NIV)
The Wise and Foolish Builders

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

To God be the Glory

Not What I Pictured

 

In 2011, I took a similar picture on this porch with my husband.  We were celebrating our first Thanksgiving in our new house.  It was almost a dream come true. It was almost what I had always pictured.  I thought the goal in life was to be happily married, have good jobs, and buy a nice house.  The only thing missing from this picture were the kids we never had. However, beyond the image, what was hidden inside was real life.  A real struggle and spiritual battle that had existed almost since the beginning.  And, why wouldn’t it.  The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Marriage is his #1 target.

So today, Thanksgiving 2016, I take a picture that isn’t…. what I pictured.  What sits behind me is an empty home with various types of memories and a dying dream.   It appears that the enemy is winning and tearing apart what should never be torn apart and Biblically never will.  However, beyond this image, what is hidden inside is real faith.  Faith that I couldn’t have dreamed of having without this trial.  Mainly, because  the forgiveness that is now in my heart  is authentic.  Mainly, because more than ever have I grasped the importance of being a praying wife and cherish my remaining days as my husband’s wife to do just that.  Mainly, because the story of the Prodigal Son that I hated so dearly in the Bible (since I’ve always empathized with the older brother), has now become my favorite because I now have the heart of the father.

This is not what I pictured my future would be, but I also would have never pictured this new level of conviction I have moving forward to stand for God’s truth and truly believe He can conquer all. This isn’t what I had pictured, but I know this picture rests in God’s hands.

To God Be the Glory

Ezekiel 11:19 NIV

I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone an give them a heart of flesh.

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