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You can find Arcelia’s blog:  HERE

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Rags to God’s glorious Riches

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Galatians 2:20

Like you, I was born into a sinful world with a defiled heart full of disobedience. I knew I was created for intimacy but I just didn’t know with Whom yet. I also knew I was created for a purpose, but I didn’t know what.

As a bitter teenager I drew a picture of a broken heartdripping blood held together with a band-aid with one piece missing. For thirty years I tried to fill that missing piece in my black hole heart with love and affirmation from others, career achievements and money.

I was in bondage to my feelings of rejection, anger, jealousy, envy, and hatred fueled by insecurities and perfectionism.  This perfectionism and determination was lauded by others and encouraged me to ‘achieve my dreams’ and worldly ambition. So I did.

I was happily married, with two children (boy and girl), a half-million dollar home, and a loving nanny for the kids. We had a nanny because I always said I could NEVER stay home and raise children because I wasn’t raised by my mom and I would be bored to tears.  I was so insecure as a momma that I became an internal persecutor of stay-at-home moms, I thought they did nothing but watch T.V. all day {the truth was I was envious}.

My husband and I had great careers and were making a combined income of $245k/year and we were consumed by our own desires and dreams numbing ourselves to the things of God. We were known as generous people and gave to charity but that giving was done apart from the love of God.

I see now, I had artificial fruit. I chose to walk in death…I was a walking dead person fulfilling the desires of my flesh.

But on February 12, 2009 I breathed my last breath….

That was the day I died, the day I began to walk in newness of life.  The day I ‘committed my spirit to God’ and began my journey to follow Jesus Christ and learn to yield and walk in the power of His Holy Spirit and deny my flesh.

When I reflect on my life before I followed Jesus Christ, I see how even though I was faithless and un-deserving, God was faithful and had been drawing me to Himself and trying to get my attention for many years.  I cannot list the number of people He put in my life that sowed or watered seeds but those seeds either landed on my hardened heart, or soil that was full of weeds and rocks–I was more focused on the cares and desires of this world than God.

What did these obedient Disciples of Jesus Christ tell me?

“…Jesus Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)

I didn’t ‘get’ it.

And even when I said I ‘got’ it, I did not ‘get it’ because I still chose to walk in my fleshly desires and pursue MY dreams. I was a selfish believer and thought it was MY life,and God was there for me, I had no reverence for God—I just gave lip service and my heart was far from Him.

In 2008 I began to read the Bible.  I did not understand or ‘get it’ but I kept reading anyway.  That summer I joined a neighborhood Bible study and at my first visit I unloaded on these ladies, sharing the deepest longings and frustrations of my heart.  They prayed for me, and we studied Philippians. These sweet vessels of God kept inviting me to their Church, and after a few months my husband and I went.

My husband and I studied the book of Hebrews together with other couples. There were so many things about God I did not know and He was using these teachers to sow and water seeds on a now soften heart.

What was different this time?

My heart was soft because of the love from all these people willing to pray for us, and to teach us.  God had me in a Bible study to work on my own relationship with Him, He put our family in a Bible preaching Church, and then He sent us a woman after God’s own heart to be in our home as a nanny to help us raise our children and disciple me.

Oh, she did that and so much more! This woman, Anna LOVES Jesus!  I remember our first meeting… she would not stop talking about Jesus and I was very uncomfortable and somewhat frustrated because I loved Him too but I didn’t think we should talk about Him. Everyday she had something to share with what God had been teaching her. She seemed as if she knew Him, like she just had coffee with Him.  I didn’t understand.  I began feeling insecure about my relationship with God. I was jealous for the relationship she had with God.

I was baptized as an infant, made my first Holy communion, walked down an aisle when I was 19, was baptized again at 25, and my journal was full of entries to God I–talked to Him too, but He never talked back–at least I never heard Him–and then I asked God:

‘What does Anna have that I don’t? I talk to you God. I want what she has with you!’

One month goes by and that’s when I ‘hear’ Him.  It wasn’t an audible voice, He spoke to my heart and He spoke through His Word….

He wakes me up at 2am on February 12, 2009 and I feel this prompting to get my Bible and journal and go to the guest room of our home.  He speaks to my heart:

“Arcelia, you want to know what Anna has that you don’t? I want you to go through the Ten commandments and don’t move on to the next one until you perfected the first’

I didn’t even know where to find the Ten Commandments but I find it in Exodus 20

‘You shall have no other gods before Me…”

I respond.  I don’t have any other gods before you…then His Holy Spirit takes me to Deuteronomy 6:4-9

“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

I tell God, “I do love You! I do love You with all my heart, soul and might and Anna is ‘diligently’ teaching my children Your word.  She knows the Bible better than I do. Besides, this is the Old Testament anyway, what did Jesus say?”

Then I see what Jesus said about the greatest commandment in Matthew 22:37-40 as He quotes the Old Testament:

“ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVEYOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

My heart drops…I say again, I DO love you God.  Then He speaks to my heart:

‘Arcelia, you are passionate about your job, you are passionate about serving in the Church, you were passionate about the military, you were passionate about creative memories….what about Me?’

God through His Holy Spirit began to convict me of all of the idols in my life.

I see for the first time.  I did have other gods.

But I wanted to love God with all my heart mind soul and strength but how?  How can I ‘perfect’ that? I wept andcried out to God. I cried because I was frustrated, how can I love? What was love? He took me to 1 Corinthians 13

That’s when God told me the good news:

“Arcelia, you can’t perfect anything, that’s why Jesus died on the cross for your sins, He is the perfect sacrifice allowing you to hear Me now.”

I was broken, my heart soft, ready to receive the gift of salvation.

I sorrowfully cried because I finally understood! I understood I was a sinner, disobedient, unwilling and unable to obey God in my own strength.  I asked for forgiveness for my sins and had a change of heart and saw my need for Jesus Christ.  There and then I loved Him as never before.

I didn’t get ‘it’ I got ‘Him’, His Holy Spirit and a new undivided heart devoted to God. Just as it is written in Ezekiel 11:19-20:

“And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in Mystatutes and keep My ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God. “

I told God I am His and I would go anywhere He wanted me to go, do whatever He asked and I would talk to whoever He wanted me to talk to. It was more than just believing in Him, I told Him I would follow Him all the days of my life.

That was the day I breathed my last and surrendered. I was literally a new creation from that day forward living for Jesus Christ, as His witness. I couldn’t stop telling people about Jesus Christ and I began sharing in my own family starting with my closest neighbor…my husband of 9 years.

With this new heart I was no longer numb about leaving my children to pursue a worldly career and I would cry when I drove to work. I was beginning to see my calling and purpose as a wife and mother. I told my husband I would like to stay home with the children.  He thought I was crazy and reminded me of all the years I told him I could NEVER stay home. I shared with him how God spoke to me and I no longer believed the lie that I am a better momma if I work.  I told him I now know I am supposed to be home to raise them and teach them God’s Word.

He said I should have told him years before because we now had the ‘golden handcuffs’ of debt and I would NEVER be able to stay home, it was impossible.  I wept and cried out to God to change my husband’s heart.  Every morning I got up and prayed over my husband while he was asleep. I realize now God was teaching me submissiveness to Himself and my husband—a word I could never say because I was very strong willed but now I was learning to submit…trust and obey God.

Just six months later God led us to a marriage retreat in Northern California where we went up a mountain as two and came down as one in Jesus Christ.  One of the most memorable moments is when we were baptized as a couple! When we came up from being immersed, my husband whispered in my ear:

“God has been talking to me this whole week, and everything we have is not ours; we are just stewards.  It is not our house, it’s not our car, and they are not even our children.  God entrusted everything to us! I am tired of this family investing in the things of the world, we are going to invest in God’s kingdom and it begins now….I want you to stay home full time with the kids so we can disciple them.  I don’t know how it’s going to happen, I don’t know how we will do it financially but the Word God gave me is in Habakkuk 2:4 ‘But the righteous will live by his faith’ and that is what we will do.”

Five months later God moved us to Alabama in the Spring of 2010.

We can see God was performing His Word in Habakkuk these past three years because we have been given many opportunities to live by our faith and trust in God: we had an overwhelming amount of debt from years of disobedience (over $100K), a drastic reduction ofincome, an unexpected call to home school, two car wrecks (one nearly fatal), pending foreclosure of a house and unemployment.

“For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake…” Philippians 1:29

Through these entrusted trials, testing and discipline my husband has led us in praying:

‘Lord may we seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness, may we trust in You and live by faith.’

In these fiery ordeals we continued to lift our hands praising and blessing God and God responded as He said He would (Psalm 50:15)!

All Things Are Possible With God:

In just three years God has paid our financial debt, is teaching us to be content in all circumstances, is empowering us to disciple our children, rescued my husband and a friend from physical death, helped avoid foreclosure and sell the home, and provided a full time ministry for my husband!!

Today as my husband follows Jesus, he has the privilege to ‘feed the homeless’ not just food that perishes but the imperishable food–God’s Word. My husband is making disciples and is entrusting God’s Word to faithful men who will be able to teach others at the Waterfront Rescue Mission. I am a full time wife and momma that home schools our precious children {if you knew me before my rebirth you would understand why this is a miracle}.

We are overwhelmed by God’s grace and mercy. God paid the debt of sin for sending His only Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross in our place and now He has paid our financial debt. And just as God rescued my husband and his friend from physical death from the car wreck, by God’s grace and peace we have been rescued from spiritual death by the Lord Jesus Christ who gave Himself for our sins.

I am in awe of God! Not just for what He has done, but for Who He is. God is faithful, truthful, compassionate, abounding in lovingkindness, and righteous. We know He has done this for His namesake and are desire is to remain yielded to His Spirit and to continue to seek first His kingdom and righteousness.

My spirit can testify how I love Jesus Christ and I have a passion for Him that burns like fire within me, His purposes are my heart’s desire. We are not perfect, and life as a disciple is not easy but we are learning more each day to rest in the finished work of Jesus Christ, to rest in God’s grace by the power of the Holy Spirit. We are so thankful we have gone from ‘our filthy rags to God’s glorious riches’!  God has made us righteous through faith in Jesus Christ,and that is how we are able to live by faith—to God be the glory!

Dear reader,

If you do not know the Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior I pray for the day God will claim you as His own and you will enter into a covenant with Him–the the One True God.  I pray this not so you can have a ‘good life’ but so you will know Him for yourselves and you will serve Him and seek first His kingdom and righteousness all the days He ordains for you. If you do know God I pray you continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

“…Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved—you and your household” Acts 16:31

“Thus says the LORD, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exerciseslovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the LORD.
Jeremiah 9:23-24