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A Story of Hope

A Story of Hope

Written by: Anonymous Client

I very much wanted to share some of my personal story of receiving help from this ministry, Life In Abundance. It is dear to me. Please know these words are from my heart.

Life In Abundance. From His words in John 10:10, we know that abundant life is the life Jesus came for us to have. For me, I was not living this abundant life. Much to the contrary, I was at a very low point. I came to Life In Abundance to counsel with Stephanie in November of 2014. I was 34 years old. What I didn’t or couldn’t see then was the timeline of events that shaped my life up to that moment. My first visit with Stephanie I will always remember. She asked me a question, to rate myself on a scale of 0-5 with 0 being a piece of gum stuck to the floor and 5 being the best I’ve ever been in my life, can’t get any better. I honestly gave myself less than a 1 that day. In just the relatively short season of life leading up to that day, I experienced a chronic health crisis altering my everyday life and career, a failing effort to blend a family, and the sudden and unexpected death of my mom. Despite knowing Jesus, I was over my head, almost drowning from the physical and emotional circumstances. These things impacted my spiritual life and while I’d had a relationship with Jesus for years, I couldn’t find my way or connect to pull myself out on my own.

I sought out lay counseling at my church and participated weekly in that for 4-6 weeks. I was making no improvement and life seemed only more confusing. At the advice of a friend, I promptly made an appointment with Stephanie. This began a journey for me that would last 2 years and 8 months. Circumstances got worse before they got better. Much worse. My life was turned upside down. Praise God for placing me in this ministry for this time in my life. Financially, things changed for me also and only because of donations to the ministry was I able to continue my sessions. Also, please understand that throughout my life prior to seeing Stephanie at Life In Abundance, I’d seen a couple of different counselors. There is something very different that sets Life In Abundance apart from anything I experienced in those counseling sessions, and that is God. Each of my sessions always began with Spirit led prayer. Stephanie boldly invited the Holy Spirit into our sessions and submitted our sessions to Him for His work. Work He did over each of my sessions and I am beyond grateful. Another important aspect of my counseling was that I was always given “homework”. There was work that needed to be done. Years and years of layers that God needed to peel back and get to the root of with my cooperation. The effort while difficult most of the time was so, incredibly worth it. Over the years, I have referred many of my friends or others that God places along my path to the counseling services at Life In Abundance. As an active part of Women’s Ministry in my church, we also refer individual women here as well. I pray you will support Life In Abundance. It is an opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus in a world that desperately needs Him. Through this ministry and the work of God in it, I found hope and healing to live abundantly.

Fruit of the Spirit: Goodness

Fruit of the Spirit: Goodness

By Pastor Ben Hill (reproduced with permission)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

Once I was greeted by a stranger in passing with the standard, “How are you?” And I responded with the equally predictable retort, “I’m good, you?” Now ignoring the fact that we had both just repeated what is a common “greeting” here in the south, and not really an expression of deep concern for each other’s general well-being, the thought came to my mind: “can I really, honestly say that I am good? That, after all, presumes an awful lot!” Let me explain.

God is good. It is His nature. Goodness permeates His very being and that reality never ever waivers. God cannot contradict Himself so there is never a time when, or an action where, God is NOT Good! Me, on the other hand, well…. I’ll let you fill in the blank (and you won’t have to look at me, just look at yourself and the answer will come).

Remember being told by a parent, or telling your own child as a parent, “bye, have fun, and BE GOOD”? If your experience is anything like mine, that advice was followed with varying degrees of adherence, to say the least. But we all knew what it meant: do good, behave right, perhaps even, “don’t embarrass me!” How effective was that? Is that all the fruit of the Spirit “goodness” means? Jesus told the rich young ruler in Mark 10:18, “no one is good except God alone.” The young ruler had tried to earn God’s favor by doing and following all His commandments and by being morally right, but Jesus said it wasn’t enough! Teaching others to simply “do good” can easily become legalism.

The rich, young ruler was trying to earn his way to heaven by doing “good” and “following the rules”, but he lacked the most important thing… a genuine love for the rule-maker.

You see, the “goodness” that is a fruit of the Spirit is not merely self-righteous moral behavior, but rather is an excellence of character. It takes our good faith effort to do good and mixes it with the reality of God being good to produce in us an expression of His goodness. This is only possible through God’s divine work in our hearts. To enjoy the “goodness fruit” of the Spirit, get lost in and follow the great commandment to “love the Lord your God with all your soul and with all your might” and from that you will see the fruit of goodness as you “love others as yourself.”