Doubt your Salvation?

By Hayley DiMarco

doubting woman

Do you ever doubt your faith? Wonder if you are really a Christian at all? After all you don’t always act like one. You don’t hear from God the way others do. You often feel empty and alone. These thoughts and feelings plague even the most faithful of believers. But they don’t need to. There is a way to know, to be sure, so that you can stop the worry and the doubt and rest assured in your salvation. And so that you can honestly know that you belong to God and say of yourself, “I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38–39, ESV)

When you become a Christian you become a new creature. And as a new creature these 8 things happen to you:

1. Your heart is changed. “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26, ESV)

2. God’s law is written on your heart. “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Jeremiah 31:33, ESV)

3. You love God’s law and agree that it is all good. “So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.” (Romans 7:12, ESV) Even if you sometimes fail to act accordingly, you still call his law good and your actions sin. “Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good.” (Romans 7:16, ESV)

4. You learn to love selflessly because you, like Christ, have died. You have died to yourself.  “Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.” (Romans 6:8, ESV)

7. You live to serve righteousness instead of the law. “But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.” (Romans 7:6, ESV)

8. You become meek and grace-filled.“So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.” (Acts 24:16, ESV)

As a Christian your heart will confirm these things are true in your life. But if you fear that you cannot confirm them, take heart, you can find your faith. John 1:12 tells us that “to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,” (John 1:12, ESV)  That means that if you can agree to the terms laid out in scripture, that Jesus is as the Puritan William Guthrie put it, “a King to rule over me, a Priest to offer sacrifice and intercede for me, a Prophet to teach me.” Then you can give your heart to him and rest in the knowledge that he is sufficient, and that you are a true believer. And as you surrender your life to Him these 8 things will become a part of your new life in Christ and doubt will be the last thing on your mind. 

What do you want?

By Hayley DiMarco

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An idol is something that you have devoted your life to. It might be a way of life that involves self-sacrifice, self-discipline, or self-obsession. It might involve devotion to family, applause, comfort, power, more stuff, less stuff, more friends, more likes, more followers, even more church. The bottom line is that idolatry happens when you obsess. When there is something in your life that you are consumed with, that you can’t live without, or that you would do anything to keep—if you love something with all of your heart—then you have an idol. We can say that because of what Jesus said in Matthew 22:37: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37). That means you were made to obsess, to give 100 percent of your everything to Him. So when you obsess over anything other than God, you make that thing your little God, your idol, and God is replaced.

excerpted from Own It, Leaving Behind a Borrowed Faith

Just Do It

By Hayley DiMarco

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Never read God’s will concerning you without honestly deciding to do it at once, and asking God the ability to do so. God has given you His Word, to tell you what He wants you to do and what grace He has provided to enable you to do it: how sad to think it’s holy to just to read that Word without any serious effort to obey it! May God keep you from this terrible sin! – Andrew Murray

Killing Yourself

By Hayley DiMarco

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Prayer without fervency and violence is no prayer; it is speaking, not praying. Lifeless prayer is no more prayer than the picture of a man is a man.”  Thomas Watson

This idea of violence to one’s self might be offense to modern man, but it is not out of date for the believer. Watson was a Puritan who spoke passionately about the idea of dying to self; so passionately that much of what he said could be called too puritanical. But that said, the portion I have posted here is valuable and faithful in its approach. The language however is very old English and may be hard for the modern soul to fully ingest, so I have updated the language here without changing his message:

“Offering violence to one’s self, in a spiritual sense, is mortification of sin: Since self is the flesh, we must die to self. Our flesh is like the Trojan horse within the walls that does all the mischief. The flesh is a sly enemy; at first it is sweet venom, afterwards a stinging scorpion, it kills by embracing. The embraces of the flesh are like the ivy embracing the oak; which sucks out the strength of it for its own leaves and berries. So the flesh, by its soft embraces, sucks out of the heart all that is good. The flesh fights against the spirit (see Gal. 5:17). So it goes that the pampering of the flesh, is the quenching of God’s spirit. The flesh chokes and stifles holy motions: the flesh sides with Satan and is true to its interest. There is a part within that will not pray, that will not believe. In fact, the flesh inclines us more to believe a temptation than a promise. It is because the flesh is so near to us that its counsels are more attractive. But a man must offer violence to his fleshly desires if he will be saved, as we see in Col. 3:5, which says, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you.” The mortifying and killing of sin at the root, is when we not only abstain from the acts of sin, but hate the existence of them.

Even in the best of saints there is something that needs mortifying, such as pride, envy, and passion. Therefore, mortification is called crucifixion in Gal. 5:24. This is not done suddenly but every day some limb of the ‘body of death’ must drop off. There is always something that needs mortifying. So it was Paul would ‘beat down his body,’ by prayer, watching, and fasting, (see 1 Cor. 9:27).

As flesh is taken to be physical, so it is to be cherished; but as flesh is taken theologically with all of its impure lusts, so a man must hate his own flesh. The apostle says, ‘passions of the flesh wage war against the soul’ (1 Peter 2:11). If the flesh wars against us, we have good reason to war against the flesh.” – Thomas Watson, The Christian Soldier

The best book (I wrote) for Christian teens wanting to date

By Hayley DiMarco

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I wrote a book for Christian teens back in 2009 called B4UD8 (Before You Date) along with my husband Michael. Although some may know me more infamously for my 2003 release Dateable, few know that I never speak on Dateable and that B4UD8 (and my husband Michael) were game changers for me. I wish I could say that B4UD8 was as commercially successful as its predecessor (Dateable outsells it 8:1,) but I am proud to say that B4UD8 won the highest honor in Christian publishing, the 2010 Christian Book Award for Youth.

I have reached out to my publisher to request that they offer B4UD8 available for free on ebook readers so you can read for yourself how I communicate to Christian teens on the subject of dating, though five years later it needs a little refresh (yes, there’s a K-Fed reference.) That’s why my husband Michael and I are working on a new book on the subject to go even deeper spiritually into why we look for love in another. But that won’t be written for awhile, so I’ll update you when I hear back from the publisher and then post a link to the freebie.

UPDATE: As of 2pm, Friday, 11/15/13, the Kindle version of B4UD8 is now listed on Amazon for $0.00. Our publisher has agreed to do this through the weekend until Monday morning. Thanks to Revell Books and Baker Publishing Group for this gift.

Here’s the link: http://www.amazon.com/B4UD8-Before-You-Date-Things-before-ebook/dp/B002E7ARVE/ 

Growing Up

By Hayley DiMarco

Growth-sunflower

The person I am today looks so much different than the person I used to be. One of the great things about God is that he’s always changing you, making you better, if only you will let him. For years I thought I knew it all and what’s more I thought everybody else didn’t. And so I started writing books, why not, if you now it all you’ve got to share it with the world? Right?

But boy was I wrong. Every year that I live I see how much I didn’t know then that I do know now. And it’s the same for everyone who surrenders their life to God. Once you surrender your self-will, your self-righteousness, and your know-it-all attitude to God and embrace the notion of humility, of dying to self, and stopping the self-obsessed preoccupation with your opinions, you are set free. Set free to love, set free to serve, and set free to grow.

There was a time in my past when I was merciless. When the law was my high horse. When being bombastic was a delivery system. When I was so certain that I knew it all that I forced it all onto others.  But God has been kind to me, he has taught me much, brought me through great trials and much humility, and shown me the depth of his grace. The grace I’ve been given has set me free from my past and it can set you free too. If you will only decide today that who you were yesterday doesn’t define you are today or who you are becoming, but it is just a step on the path to becoming more and more like Him.

I haven’t let the failures or embarrassments of my past derail me, but have accepted God’s grace for myself and have learned to extend it to others, even those who would define me by my past. Be set free today, don’t let the you of the past be the you of the present. Once God saves you he never leaves you the same, but brings you daily, yearly closer to the image of His son, and deeper into a life of humility that says, “I don’t know it all, but I love the one who does and that’s enough for me.”

In the age of the Internet and social media, your past is inescapable. Imagine if you had written over forty books over a ten year period all on how to live life! For anyone that has read my first book compared to my last, you know how God has changed me. As a loving, caring, Heavenly Father, he is with me (and you) as we grow up saying, “your past does not define you, my love defines you.” Never be shamed by the past, or anyone. You are valuable not because of what ‘rules’ you follow or don’t follow but simply because of His love for you.

God Bless this Mess

By Hayley DiMarco

Mark Twain's Mess

My husband Michael shared with me recently a series of photos of geniuses and their desks. People like Mark Twain, Steve Jobs, and others with extremely messy desks (my husband included.) It was a powerful visual reminder of a lesson I have been learning lately (and a gentle encouragement from my husband.)

When my house is neat, clean and pristine I feel whole. I breath more deeply and I find a peace that is absent in the mess. In fact, the mess that sits around me right now is silently pulling on me, making the waters beneath the surface of my life start to roll and I can sense a swell coming. Order gives my mind and my heart rest. It makes me feel complete, content, and hopeful. When my house is all cleaned up for company, I feel acceptable and proud. But on days when the floor is cluttered, the windows are dirty and the dishes aren’t clean I dread a knock on the door announcing visitors. How could they love me in my mess? What would they think? Yes, order is always better. Cleanliness is next to godliness after all.

Or is it? This well-known and often repeated mantra is not a bible verse: it is a worldly verse in Bible clothing. And it has perverted many a faithful heart from their first love. As I consider my desire for order and my discontentment with the mess, I see something more insidious at work under the waves of my life, an obsession, or as the Bible reveals, an idol. An idol is anything or anyone that we go to for the things God promises us. And in my obsession, I see the pursuit of hope, peace, acceptance, contentment, and even completeness taking the place of the very one meant to be my hope, peace, acceptance, contentment and completion.

For a long time I thought that my discontentment and even stress over a messy house pointed to the purpose of my life, the need for order. And so I. like millions before me, embraced the idea that cleanliness was next to godliness, even if I didn’t voice it. Even though I knew this was not a biblical concept, I still believed that if my heart craved order it must be because order was a part of my soul’s DNA. But checking this belief against God’s Word which reminds me that ‘the heart is deceitful above all else,’ (Jeremiah 17:9) scripture proves the error of my ways. Rather than being a part of my soul’s DNA, this desire for a clean house is a part of my flesh’s DNA, my deceitful heart. The part of me that wars against the Spirit as I read in Romans 8:5. “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:5–6, NIV) When my mind screams about the mess of my unkempt house it is set on what my flesh desires. But I am meant to live with my mind set on the Spirit.

Jesus made it clear what that the single most important commandment wasn’t to keep a clean house, but to love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself. I consider the word neighbor to include the members of my household. Many would use this as an argument for good housekeeping, but let’s be honest with ourselves, the majority of men and children in this world would much rather have a happy, playful, present mom who considers time with them more important than order, than to have a woman obsessed with the standard of cleanliness she requires in her home.

As I remind myself that the fruit of the Spirit should be what I desire over the fruit of my own flesh, I look around at the mess on my table and on my floors and I breathe easy. My relationship with my family has never been better, my stress never lower, and my heart never focused more on the one who makes it all possible. So thank God for the mess and the ability to see it not as a stressor but as a reminder of my true purpose here on earth; to love him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love this messy life because it proves my obsession isn’t me, but Him.

 

Where is God?

By Hayley DiMarco

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“If your life is off track, if you are unhappy and can’t figure out why, know that the joy probably left when you started thinking more about yourself than about God, more about your worries and your dreams, more than his thoughts and his plans. When the God Girl (or guy) isn’t continually thinking about ways to make him happy and to please him , she risks falling into the pattern of “me.” As a God Girl you can’t blame God for the distance between you; your distractions are most often what remove him from the center of your life. You can return to him today–just seek out what pleases him and determine to do only that.

-Devotions for the God Girl

 

Under Attack

By Hayley DiMarco

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Your worry makes you the center of everything. When you say “I just feel like I’m under attack,” or “everything in life is against me,” because hard things are happening, you subconsciously take your eyes off of God and put them onto yourself. For the believer, life is never an attack, you are never a victim. No, all of the impressions of difficulty and attack are simply pressure under the mighty hand of the potter who is molding you into a vessel fit for his service. To see yourself in the devil’s hands or any other’s rather than the potter’s is to reject God’s very word (see Isaiah 64:8, ESV).

The next time you are tempted to worry, complain, or bemoan the tragedy that is your life remember who you belong to. As a child of the King, nothing ever happens to you that He hasn’t allowed for your good. Not the interruption, the delay, or the attack; it all serves His purposes. If you cannot see Him as involved in your life, as sovereign and as perfect, then your life will be one dilemma after another. If God steps back and lets life happen to you, if he carelessly allows Satan to attack or someone to harm you, then worry is a necessity. But if you believe in the God of the Bible then you must know that is never the case. After all, “Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?” (Lamentations 3:37–38, ESV) See your circumstances through the filter of God’s love and you will have no need to worry again.

Beggars wear rags

By Hayley DiMarco

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I must confess that when I see people begging on the street or selling homeless newspapers and they have on nice clean and new looking clothes, I immediately think it’s a scam. “If he was homeless he wouldn’t have on clean clothes,” I tell myself. It’s got to be a scam. What is he trying to pull over on people. Maybe that sounds harsh but think about it, success, accomplishment, even cleanliness, doesn’t go with poverty. So dear beggar, please don’t get all cleaned up to ask me for money, I will assume you are pulling my leg, pretending to be “out of gas,” making a quick buck. But let me see your true condition. Don’t try to impress me with your wealth to get my charity.

In the same way, sinner, don’t think you have to get all cleaned up in order to be accepted by Christ. There is no need to wait until you have fixed yourself, gotten your life together, proved to him your love, or done everything he has asked you. Your cleanliness isn’t access to the throne, your rags are. We make little of his grace when we believe that we have a part to play in our own salvation. Whether it is doing more for his kingdom or getting your life together, there is nothing you can do to convince him to accept you but present your sins to him and thank him for his cleansing blood. It is by grace you have been saved, not by your works, not by your goodness, or your cleanliness, but by his grace and his grace alone. Don’t wait til you’ve done everything you ‘need’ to do before you drop at his feet! Come like the beggar in your tattered clothes and kneel before him. He isn’t impressed with your works or your Sunday best, he isn’t more inclined to save you when you are cleaned up, but asks only for your dirty rags that he might make them white as snow.

“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” (Isaiah 64:6)

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