Alive in Christ!
"Today is a special day for me. At this time last year I was captive to a gruesome meth and heroin addiction. I was a slave to the world and everything in it, ensnared by the hedonic treadmill. It's a hole from which I narrowly escaped: rescued by the grace of God. Many times I took what should have been my last breath after another lethal injection. But God preserved me. Many times I severed ties with those I once held dear because they stood between me and my self destructive mania. But God was in concert beside me in my disobedience. And after all the pain, and death, and suffering, I can say this....
Thank God for making me worthy of suffering, in order that I may experience the truth of Him more fully. If it took several attempts of suicide, a lifetime of anxiety and depression, and years of romancing futile philosophies and world-views to bring me to the end of myself so that I could see the truth, then it was worth it. And I would do it again a thousand times if it would demonstrate His worth.
And secondly, thank God for using Through the Gate to draw me closer to Himself and fortify my faith. The discipleship treatment I received for my addiction there was unlike any other solution I have ever heard of. I've never seen a more effective way to rid a heart of darkness, than through the teachings of the atoning love of Christ. I know who He is and who He says I am. Through the Gate has shown me how to surrender my life to Him and I do it every day. The love, joy, peace, hope, truth, and identity that is found in serving the Lord surpasses understanding. I am so honored to be a part of Through the Gate, which I can only describe as an instrument of God's good will. Oh, to be loved by Christ."
~Bella (graduate and employee of Through the Gate)
These Two companies have come together to help support Through the Gate and the as we work on a special project to get our residents to the True Women conference this year! To be sure, Friends like these make it possible to do what we do! Please support them, as they help the community fight addiction by supporting us here at Through the Gate!
Use Lights Lawn Care & Landscaping for all of your local Lawn Care needs. Check them out at: http://www.facebook.com/LightsTurfSpecialist/ or by clicking on their logo below!
To learn more about Shades Industrial, go to their website at:
http://www.shadesindustrial.com or by clicking on their logo below!
Matthew 25:35-40(NIV) 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
The following is an excerpt from a final class paper written by a current resident here at TTG:
This book has truly helped me realize my fear of man. I began reading this book with the mindset that I wouldn't get anything from it, but I was completely wrong. My fear of man is outrageous. I always blamed it on my personality and tried to use that as an excuse. I never saw my fear of man as the big problem it really was. I realize now how my fear of man has completely controlled me. It would cause me to lie, to say what I thought people wanted to hear, avoid embarrassing situations, and to be completely fake in front of people because I wanted them to like me. I also learned that comparing yourself to others is an excuse to sin. I tell myself, "Well they claim to be a Christian and have sex outside of marriage, so why can't I?" I know the answer to that question now and it's because I know it is wrong. I know it is disobedient to the Word of God. I now love, respect, and fear the Lord and that allows for me to know what is right and do what is right by God. Every human being struggles with the fear of man and can be called codependency, people pleasing, peer pressure and upholding your reputation. I've learned how to fear God more than man, how to grow in that area of obedience, and I'm able to know now when I am fearing man before God.
The following is a paper written by a current resident of TTG from one of the many classes being taught here at TTG:
God wants you to glorify Him in everything you do including how you use your money. If you work hard, which God gives you the strength to do, you should be a wise investor among many other things. It is a wise steward who invests to increase their finances little by little. Do not envy others that have more money than you, and if you are blessed with money, do not be stingy; be generous. Do not love money because loving it brings evil and you will never be satisfied. It is better to give than receive because freely giving will make you richer and that brings blessings upon your name from the Lord and He will always provide. Never be prideful or arrogant. God gave us work and the money He brings from it and we should enjoy the things that come of it. Be content with what the Lord brings into your life, whether it is a little or a lot of wealth. Never forget He gave and He can also take away. One should never expect to receive without giving of themselves whether it be financially, or with your time or your service. God gave to us and we are to live in His image of greatness.
Last week’s church sermon was on Mark 10:13-16. This is the passage about Jesus blessing the little children. People were bringing children to Jesus just that He may touch them and the disciples rebuked these people for bringing them. Children in this culture were not viewed as precious. Most times they were used and disrespected. Some were raised solely for the job of becoming a prostitute or gladiator. They were seen as a possession, and sometimes as something to sacrifice to their many gods. In one sentence Jesus refutes the entire culture, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.” He was greatly displeased that the disciples were rebuking those who were bringing these children to Him. Mark 10:15 Jesus states, “Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” Think about this for a moment. At first we would assume He means that we should come with all the attributes of a child, including innocence and naiveté. But Jesus is speaking to the disciples here, to the adults who were beyond innocence, to the hardened hearts of many years of experience and trials. Jesus, rather, is referring to receiving the kingdom with all the attributes that a child LACKS. Children are dependent upon adults for survival. A 6 month old baby has nothing to contribute to its survival except an empty belly, a dirty diaper or a need for sleep. It has utter and complete NEED of a parent to give it the nourishment it needs to survive. Since I heard Pastor Steve present it like this, the gospel has taken on an entire new level of meaning to me. I keep picturing myself coming to the beloved feet of Jesus with nothing but a handful of dirty rags, my sin. And offering it to Him in exchange for the greatest gift ever, eternal life with Him in His kingdom. What a humbling image. Although I had absolutely nothing to contribute to my salvation except the sin that got me there, I am still loved and forgiven. And He died for that.
In His Love,
During the course of the past two years the Lord has taught me what it means to really, truly trust Him. He brought me through moments of heartache, loneliness, and uncertainty of what my future would look like. But no matter what season I was in, the Lord proved His faithfulness to me.
In January of 2015, my boyfriend of nearly 5 years ended our relationship. It wasn’t because we grew apart, he got bored, or was no longer interested. Rather, it was because he knew that I had allowed our relationship to become the most important thing in my life. I loved him more than anything else in or out of this world, including my Creator. Although this decision was very difficult, he loved me enough to end it so I could focus on the most important relationship I could ever have: my relationship with God.
In the beginning I was very heartbroken. I felt like the floor had been ripped out from under me. The future I had been so sure of for so many years was no longer certain. Despite my heartache and confusion, I pressed into the Lord. Through studying God’s word, spending time in prayer, and fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ, I found comfort, peace, and encouragement.
As time went on, God in His loving mercy revealed Himself to me in ways I had never experienced! For the first time in my life I began to understand what the Bible means when it says our God is a jealous God. As a child of God, I truly am His. He created me, sustains me, and loves me in ways that only He can. He deserves nothing less than my whole heart, as He is the One who created it. He is the ONLY Thing that can satisfy the longing I feel inside. The ONLY One who can love me unconditionally. The ONLY One who can bring me joy that lasts. Happiness is circumstantial, but true joy is found in the Lord!
Although it was hard to let go of the idea that I would one day marry the man I always planned to, God granted me peace. He allowed me to become content with the possibility that it would never happen, and through that I was able to trust that He would provide exactly what I needed.
Over a year passed from the time my relationship ended and I was experiencing joy in the Lord in a way I never had. I was content with where God had placed me and no longer felt lonely. I still desired to be married, but understood that God would provide things in His time. One verse I clung to was Psalm 37:4; “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” God knew my desire for a husband, and He knew I still desired to be with the man I first loved, Austin.
By His grace, God brought Austin and I back together after nearly 2 years of being apart. Throughout our time of singleness, the Lord worked in each of our hearts. He used this season to help us rely on Him and trust that He would lead us where He wanted, knowing what would be best through His sovereignty over us.
As I write this, I am reflecting back on just how amazing it has been to see God orchestrate everything in our lives. In just a few short weeks, I will be walking down the aisle to marry the man of my dreams. His love for the Lord is absolutely beautiful and I am so thankful that I will be blessed enough to call him my husband.
I have had people ask me if I wish things would have happened differently, in a way that was less painful. My answer is absolutely not! I know that without this experience, I would not have the relationship with God that I do now. I would not understand the freedom that comes from fully relying on Him. I wouldn’t know the joy that can only be found through true satisfaction in the Lord.
Yes, it was difficult at times. But it was SO worth it. James 1:2-3 says “Count it all joy my brothers when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” This is absolutely true. I am so thankful that Austin loved me enough to want Christ to be first in my heart. I am grateful that God used this experience to draw me closer to Himself. And I am incredibly thankful for the testimony we now have through a relationship that has been redeemed. God’s timing truly is perfect.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness! “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, therefore I will hope in Him. The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.” Lamentations 3:23-35
In Romans 9, Paul starts the chapter by speaking on his great sorrow and continual grief for his fellow Jews. He wants them to experience and know the gospel of Jesus Christ. Romans chapters 5-8 are rife with the Good News of the gospel. In his reflecting on the awesome power, knowledge and saving works of Jesus Christ in these 3 chapters, he reflects on the fact that his own relatives do not know or accept the saving power of the truth. His heart GRIEVES for them. Lord, my prayer today is that you burden all of your faithful servants with this same burden Paul experienced. I pray that through the Holy Spirit our hearts are grieved for the lost and that You use this grief and burden in us to become more passionate evangelists to glorify the name of Jesus. Amen.
As a Christian, we are commanded to share the gospel. In Mark 16:15 Jesus was speaking to the 11 disciples; “And He said to them, “”Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.””
We, as followers of Christ, are called to the very same order still today. I was reflecting on that today and it hit me: Bringing others the “good news” is not the only reason God wants us to share. We are to share the gospel everywhere we go to remind ourselves of what our Savior did for us every single day! I share the gospel with others because I care about them and want them to experience the joy that I know can only be found in the Lord, Jesus Christ. Every time I share the gospel with others though, I am hearing it again as well! Reminding myself of the gospel in turn reminds me to show God’s love to others. It encourages me to forgive others and to be sacrificial for them because God forgave me and sent the ultimate sacrifice to pay my sin debt in full. What an amazing gift the Lord has given us in that simple and encouraging fact! He wants us to be reminded of what He sent His Perfect Son to do on the cross for us. There is no more beautiful story than this!
In His Love,
I’m no longer a slave,
I knew I had to become brave.
He broke the chains,
And took away my shame.
He brought me to the light ,
He knew I was loosing sight.
He was there all along,
Singing in my ear a sweet, sweet song.
He has become my all,
With Him I will never fall.
He has saved me from my past,
I’m free at last.
Addiction no longer has me in its hold,
From now on I will stand tall and bold.
Finally I see,
Addiction and I were just not meant to be.
He has shed his grace,
And I know now this is the right place.
I found my true King,
To him I will sing.
Addiction takes you when you least expect it,
It drags you to a bottomless pit.
It takes what you love the most,
Sometimes I think just to boast.
It brings guilt and shame,
It’s far from a game.
You loose people you love,
Just to feel above.
It feels as though you have chains,
And you can’t break through all your pain.
It becomes your master,
And I’m here to tell you it’s a disaster.
I became a slave,
Knowing that it could send me to my grave.
It’s like a thief in the night,
Robbing you of all your sight.
You feel lost,
and at what cost?