Monday, October 19, 2015


LIFE'S JOURNEY

There is a saying, "What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger." I am here to testify that it was because of heartbreak, disappointment, difficulties and challenges, that I found my way to the foot of the cross. This is a brief account of my quest to understand the reason for my life and my eventual encounter with the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings.

At 21, I was desperate to find that special man with whom I could share my life and raise a family. I had been engaged for more than a year to my "first love," but without explanation, he broke the engagement three months before we were to be married. Heartbroken, I fell into the arms of the first man who gave me attention, and after knowing him for one month, we married.

The marriage was riddled with mental and verbal abuse, but when I became pregnant in our third year of marriage, the physical abuse began. I knew that I had to escape the toxic environment, before my son would be affected.

My apartment neighbors would hear him yelling profanities and threats, and they often expressed their concerns for my safety. They encouraged me to make a plan of escape, so when my infant son was just ten days old, a door of opportunity opened, and we fled.

My son and I relocated to a different state and settled into a one-bedroom apartment. Suffering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) I would jump and shake violently in terror with every noise that I heard in the enclosed hallway of the apartment building. My greatest fear was that my husband would find us before the divorce was final.  Daily anxiety, sadness, anger, fear, loneliness, and the uncertainty of my future and my son's future, became a constant torment. I desperately needed answers.

When I was a child, my parents told me that we were Christians, but I didn't understand what that meant. Though we occasionally went to church, and I recited the Lord's Prayer at bedtime, I never heard my parents pray. I was told that Jesus was a good man and a prophet who left teachings for us to emulate. When I asked about heaven, I was assured that good people went to heaven and bad people went to hell. However, that concept troubled me, because I didn't believe that I could ever be good enough, which terrified me. I would soon learn that "it is by grace [we] have been saved, through faith—and this is not from [ourselves]; it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).

My brother's mother-in-law, who was a devout Christian, planned to visit family in the area. Just a month before, I had had a vision of Jesus Christ, and at that moment, I thought I was dying. My uncertainty of my eternal destination created an urgency to find answers.

My brother and I drove through a snowstorm to pick up his mother-in-law at the bus station. When he parked the car, I asked if we were parked in a tow zone, but he assured me we were legal. We crossed the street and found his mother-in-law waiting for us. Gathering her luggage, we made our way to the car, only to find that it was gone. She and I returned to the warmth of the bus station, while my brother retrieved the car from impound. As I reflect back, I believe that God orchestrated that event for my benefit.

We settled at a small table in the cafeteria. After initial pleasantries, the conversation eventually turned to God, so I cautiously asked her about my vision. She told me that Jesus was trying to get my attention, because He loved me. In fact, His love for me was so great that He had sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on a cross, so that I would have an eternal home in heaven with Him. The conversation eventually ended when my brother returned for us.

Later that week my sister-in-law asked to speak with me.  She began to talk about the Lord. Part of me wanted to leave the room, but there was a stronger pull within my soul to know if there was something more to life...a reason to be on this earth. What was my purpose? Why was I born? What was my destiny? I had to know.

She began to share the gospel, and as she shared, I became overwhelmed with the presence of God and sense of love and peace that I had never experienced. Weeping with joy, I suddenly heard a Voice speak into my spirit. Having never read a Bible and not knowing scripture, I didn't understand the words and numbers that suddenly flooded my mind. "What does John 3:16 mean?" I asked. She quoted, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life." Then another word with numbers filled my mind - I Peter 5:6-7. Again, I asked the meaning. This time she opened her Bible and read, "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time, He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you." Then she told me that the Lord loved me with a perfect love and had a plan for my life, but only when I surrendered to Him, could He fulfill those purposes and plans.

My anxieties, fears, and worries were great, but when the Lord's Word called me to cast all of my anxieties on Him, my heart filled with hope and joy. I immediately accepted Jesus as Lord of my life and asked that I be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Knowing that God, Abba Father cared for me was revelatory. I didn't know that He was a personal and loving God who had a vested interest in me. That night of surrender, God began a healing in my soul, which eventually released me from the trauma of PTSD.  It was the beginning of a new life and a 44-year journey with Him, which has been the greatest joy of my life.

God is real, and He loves us so much that He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on a ruggedly hewn cross. He is our risen King and Savior and our daily Friend, Confidant, Healer, Restorer, Deliverer, and Provider.

The Lord and I have walked together since that unforgettable winter's night, because I know the difference between a life with Him and a life without Him. My life without Him was in shambles. My life with Him has brought profound joy, even in difficulty, sorrow and loss. I cannot imagine life without Christ. All the earthly pleasures, accolades, and wealth could never compare with that night of decision, when my soul was healed and my heart became one with the Lord.

If you have never made a heart commitment to Jesus, then I invite you to pray this simple prayer:

Father, I confess that I am a sinner, because Your Word says that all have sinned. I repent of my sins and ask for Your forgiveness.  According to Romans 10:9, I believe that Jesus Christ is Your only begotten Son, who shed His blood on Calvary's cross for my sins. I believe that on the third day He rose from the dead and sits at Your right hand. I surrender my heart and my life to You, and I ask that You lead and guide me in paths of righteousness. Help me to be all that You created me to be. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.

If you prayed this prayer, I encourage you to find a church that preaches the uncompromised Word of God. For God's Word tells us to "consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching [Jesus' return]" (Hebrews 10:24-25).

If you have a Bible that has been sitting on a shelf, dust it off and start reading one chapter from the New Testament each day. Jesus is the Word incarnate. When we read His Word, we not only see His heart and love for us, but we access the most perfect roadmap for life. 

If you have struggled in the past to read the Bible, don't despair. The New International Version (NIV) or the Living Bible are two easily understood Bibles. You can also access the Bible online, for free, at Biblegateway.com. It is an excellent source and offers multiple translations.  If you don't understand something that you are reading, that's O.K.  Simply ask the Lord to give you revelation, understanding and discernment. As you read His Word, you will find encouragement and healing, as it becomes a lamp unto your feet and a light unto your path.
                                                       
May God continue to bless, lead and guide us until we reach the end of our life's journey.










Monday, October 12, 2015

Today's blog is a little different. I have discovered that if we allow God to have His way with our heart and our will, He will guide us in a direction that we hadn't thought to take. 

I had written a different blog for this week, but during my quiet time with the Lord, something wonderful happened. I became overwhelmed with His love and so grateful that 44 years ago, He rescued me from an eternity separated from Him. The following poem was birthed during that time of prayer and worship. I pray that it blesses you.


  God's Holy Lamb

I had sought You in the dark and in the light,
Not knowing that You were always by my side.

You had never left me though I had felt alone,
And my broken heart had become like stone.

Yet You wooed and called me by my name;
Your unwavering love was without blame.

Though my heart yearned for something more,
I didn't know how much I needed You, Lord.

Just when I thought that all was lost,
Your Spirit drew me to Calvary's cross.

On that glorious day, such captured joy I felt,
As cleansing tears washed me, while I knelt.

There, I surrendered my heart and all that I am
To my Savior and Lord...God's Holy Lamb.

Joy Bollinger
October 10, 2015




Sunday, October 4, 2015

I SERVE AN AMAZING GOD!

Are you ever amazed when God answers your prayers? I have delightfully discovered over 44 years of being a Christian that God not only answers prayers, He loves us and cares about every detail of our lives and what we care about. From the smallest request to the greatest need, He hears our heart's cry.

God is in the details. All we have to do is look at nature and its expansive variety of flora and fauna, all the varied and colorful species of animals, birds, and marine life, the vast array of insects, the majestic mountains, the painted deserts, the rolling oceans, the green meadows, the golden wheat fields, the billowing white clouds suspended against azure blue skies, and the intricacies of the human body to see His penchant for care, detail, and design.

September 14th, I posted "HOPE...WHEN ALL SEEMS HOPELESS." If you recall, I initially told you about a small, yellow rosebush, which I thought had died. I was about to toss it into the trash when I noticed two, very small, green stems clinging to life. Sometimes, we initially see things as hopeless, when in actuality, God is challenging our faith to believe for greater things.

We also had some concrete work done, and a large shrub had been pulled and set aside to relocate and replant. However, the workers had not moistened and covered the root system, so when they were ready to replant it two days later, it was brown and brittle. After they assured me it was dead, I gave them fresh potting soil, told them to water the soil and the root system, and then replant it. I can only imagine what they were thinking.

We prepared to leave the next day for three weeks. During our absence, there would be no one to water the plants, so I prayed,  "Lord, Scripture says that You spoke all things into existence and then You said it was good. These plants and shrubbery are part of Your creation. I'm asking You to breathe life back into them, just as you breathed life into those dry bones in the Valley of Dry Bones.  

The Prophet Ezekiel was placed in the midst of a valley, full of dried bones. Then God said to him, “Son of man, can these bones live?” Ezekiel answered, “Sovereign Lord, you know.” Then the Lord said, “Prophesy over these bones and tell them: ‘Dry bones, hear the Word of the Lord.  This is what the sovereign Lord says to these bones: Look, I am about to infuse breath into you and you will live.  I will put tendons on you and muscles over you and will cover you with skin; I will put breath in you and you will live. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’” (Ezekiel 37:1-10). They lived and stood on their feet. Death and life are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21).

There is an even greater lesson to be learned from the Valley of Dry Bones. But for now, this chronicle teaches us that with God NOTHING is impossible. What is required is our obedience in taking that step of faith and speaking His Word. Only then does the impossible become the possible.

Monday, the 28th, we returned home. We were so busy unpacking and sorting through three weeks of mail, that I hadn't thought about the plants or the relocated shrub, until the next morning, when to my delight, all were found green and thriving. My rose stems had miraculously sprouted three more shoots with new, bright green leaves. But, as I looked more closely, I realized that a bird had dug into the pot and uprooted one of the shoots, leaving its long roots completely exposed to the elements. Yes, you guessed it. This little fighter was determined to embrace life and not give up.


I carefully replanted the new shoot and as of today, it appears healthy and green, as seen in the picture to the left. And the bush that was declared dead? The picture below shows the bush is slowly but surely filling in with beautiful green leaves and yellow flowers. Amazing! Even more amazing, I had placed all my plants on the perimeter of our opened, covered deck, hoping that it would rain and water them while we were away. However, I learned from friends, that no rain had fallen while we were gone. Now, if God cared and provided so perfectly for these plants and a seemingly "dead" shrub, how much more will He care for us?


Jesus encourages us to, "Ask and it will be given to [us]; Seek and [we] will find; Knock and the door will be opened to [us]?" (Matthew 7:7). Jesus went on to say, "If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him (Matthew 7:11).

Faith believes before it sees. If we believe in the truth of God's Word, then we must act on His Word. For Jesus told us to have faith in God, address the problem with His Word, and then believe that whatever we ask in prayer, also believe that we have received it. Then it will be ours (Mark 11:22-24).

God wants to give us good things, but for us to receive, we must be resolute, unmovable, and unshakable in our faith. Just as that bird had pulled one of the stems out of the soil and left its roots exposed, to wither and die, Satan tries to uproot our faith through unbelief. That doubt and unbelief chokes and ultimately destroys faith to believe. Unless we are securely planted in the truth of God's Word, our roots will not be anchored deep enough to protect us from the negative elements of this world, as told in the Parable of the Sower.

A farmer was sowing grain in his fields. As he scattered the seed across the ground, some fell beside a path, and the birds came and ate it.  Some fell on rocky soil where there was little depth; the plants sprang up quickly in the shallow soil, but the hot sun soon scorched them and they withered and died, for they had so little root. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns choked out the tender blades. But some fell on good soil and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as he had planted.  "If you have ears to hear, listen!" (Matthew 13:3-9 TLB)

This is what the parable means:  
    - When a person hears the Word about the kingdom and does not understand, Satan comes and snatches what was sown in their heart; this is the seed sown along the path. 
    - The seed sown on rocky ground is the person who hears the Word and immediately receives it with joy. But that Word does not take root in them and does not last, so when trouble or persecution comes, they immediately fall away from their faith. 
     - The seed sown among thorns is the person who hears the Word, but worldly cares and the allure of wealth choke the Word, so [their faith] produces nothing. 
     - But as for the seed sown on good soil, this is the person who hears the Word, understands, and [produces] good fruit (that which controls the heart), yielding a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown (Matthew 13:18-30 NET).

Jesus said, " I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will [produce] much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).  Branches cling to the vine; we must cling to Christ, who is our source of life. When we produce much good fruit for His Kingdom, we see miracles and reach a broken and fallen world. He also said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father" (John 14:12).

We have been given authority to do what Jesus did. We only need to believe His Word and then act upon it.  When we do, we will see prayers answered and miracles unfold, as we joyfully say, "I serve an amazing God!"

So shall My word be that goes out from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me empty, 
But it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
And shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

(Isaiah 55:11)