From Religion to Redemption

I love stories of “Putting the Pencil Down” and letting God lead us through life. I could not be more excited to introduce you to my dear sweet friend Hakan. The first time I met him I knew I needed to hear his story. Now I am thrilled to share it with you!

World meet Hakan.

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I want to begin by saying Thank you to my new and dear friend Lindsay for giving me the opportunity to share on her blog!! Lindsay, your love for God and people has been an inspiration to many of us and we are blessed to have you here in LA!

I feel very excited and thankful to be able to share…

My name is Hakan Emden and incase you are wondering I’m from Turkey:) I have been called many different names including ‘how come’ and ‘chaka khan” ….Haha

I love sharing what God has done in my life…I can write about this forever….Here is my life story in short!

I grew up in Turkey with a loving family and I thank them for raising me, I am so grateful.

At the same time we all have issues that we carry from our past and childhood and so did I.  I personally dealt with situations that were tough and I ended up with a lot of fear as a child. I was raised in an Islamic culture and I practiced the Muslim faith. Occasionally fasted, prayed, had a deep respect for God (I can still recite some of the Islamic prayers) and followed as best as I could.

After my dream of being a professional soccer player was over with an injury, in 2001 I found myself in United States…Pursuing and feeling that something special was going to happen here!

What does one ultimately want out of life? Why do we live?  I asked myself.

I was certain that if I pursued and accomplished my dreams and desires I would be happy and fulfilled!  At the end of the day I was certain that a good career, owning a house and a car and ultimately a relationship (marriage and having kids) would be the climax of life!  So I went on…I was so motivated to make it in this life…lets do this!! I have worked at many different jobs (six flags, gas station, coaching soccer, modeling, personal training) and eventually things have gotten much better. There was period of 3 years in my life, where I had gotten involved with many relationships and hurt many people, trying to make more money, partying pretty hard!

In 2009 everything seemed like it was falling in place, I pretty much had everything I wanted and life was moving forward but in that same year…something started happening to my heart! I started thinking “what is the purpose of my life?”  “When is it going to be enough?”…it is always the next job, bigger house, more money, better car, that dream relationship…but there had to be something more in life than this??? Seemed like my happiness was depending on my circumstance….I always believed in the existence of a God and I said; God there has to more to this life…what if I gain the whole world tomorrow, one day I’m  going to die and they bury me under that ground and IT’S OVER!!!!!!! 

I knew at that point in my heart that what I was looking for was Eternal…there was a gap in my heart that needed to be filled…and nothing in this world was able to!

So I began searching intensely and with an open heart…I picked up a Quran and a Bible and said ; God show me the way…and the Bible spoke to my heart like no other book did!  I remember the very first scripture that spoke to me, I opened my Bible randomly and I read …what is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. (James 4:14)….I was astonished!  These words not only spoke to my mind but penetrated into my heart!  Than Jesus spoke to my life…. Love your enemies (Matthew 5:44)   Jesus said;  There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friend (John 15:13)..and soon I realized that Jesus has laid down His life for me, demonstrating the greatest love anybody can encounter! I became a Christian 5 years ago at the age of 33:) and it has completely changed my life, my heart…I feel this eternal sense of Love now, I found so much Joy and healing through God and ultimately unfailing love that no one can give you!

I can write about this forever….You see all of my life I viewed God and religion as bunch of rules and regulations, do’s and don’ts…And I came to discover that it is a beautiful relationship…The Bible is the most romantic Love story you will ever read that is written for you and I!  I’m in Love with God now and I want to share this love with the world! 

If I can finish with a thought about my heart…and where my life is today…This scripture will summarize it well…

Matthew 13:44

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, when a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field”

Thank you for reading, I love you all, I bless you all and Joy Joy Joy:)

If you want to talk more email me at hakanemden@gmail.com or comment below to keep others in the conversation.

When you wake up discouraged

I woke up this morning thinking so many things depended on me. The burden of confusion was so heavy, my heart was hurting as I thought about all the people I love and what they might be going through, thinking how I could help them.  The feeling of utter hopelessness came over me that this “feeling” was never going to go away.

Like all the sudden I thought I was God and responsible for every person I know and their feelings, bordering on co-dependency here people. I have been through this, I am not going back!

So what do we do when we wake up feeling discouraged?  I have a few thoughts!

1. Turn to God first, even if you don’t feel like it. I turned over to my phone, clicked opened my Bible App. A writing mentor of mine Lysa Terkeurst is coming out with a new book called “The First 5” and she talks about how important it is to give even just your first 5 minutes to the Lord. I love this because not everyone has a ton of time in the morning, but we all get to decide who we give our first few minutes too, facebook? Instagram? (I love instagram) or God? The FREE Bible App (YouVersion) makes this SO easy to at least  read the “Verse of the Day”. My recommendation is to just read it slowly, think about what it really means? Meditate on it for your 1st few moments of your day.

2. Ask for prayer! Don’t be embarrassed. I know it is humbling, but it’s ok. I sent a text out to a few of my sweet friends and asked them to say a prayer. I just needed help out of this ditch I woke up in. And if you don’t have any praying friends, do what I did just this past December. I was so desperate for the Lord to answer my prayers for friends and community here in LA and felt I had bugged my friends back home enough!  I went to the websites of some of my favorite Bible teachers and pressed “request prayer” and literally sent my prayer request into some strangers. I needed help praying. (Guess what, two months later, I had amazing friends here in LA, prayer works)

3. Get out your journal or a piece of paper. This helps me tremendously, I just start to write out my feelings to God. All of them, see He knows EVERYTHING anyway, the good, bad and the ugly, for heaven sakes He knows every hair on your head. Just get really real with Him, He knows every thought and wants to help you.  Putting your feelings on paper can give you clarity.

4. Get on your knees. I didn’t feel like it this morning, I kept hearing the voice in my head say “it’s not going to help Lindsay, you have totally gone backwards, you thought you had such victory, but look at you” IGNORE the voice and the thoughts that are pretending to be yours. Force yourself to get up, get down on you knees, and pray even if it is two words “Father, Help”. He will, He is our ever present help in time of need. Psalm 46:1 (ASV) God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Even if you have to yell out scripture or google scripture that you are so in need of to yell out in your house by yourself or with your children, just speak the truth over your life. I know it’s awkward I just did it this morning. But push through the lies, the feelings, they are trying to keep you down.

5. Turn on a GO TOO! I don’t know about you but when I struggle like this in my mind I have a ‘go to’ that I go to!  Joyce Meyer has helped me with matters of the mind more than anyone I can point too. I know if things start getting foggy, it’s time to turn her own and hear the truth of the matter, that the battlefield is in the mind and we are not alone.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this subject, comment below!

 

Why is rest awkward?

It was Easter Sunday as I drove up the freeway to church, my heart kind of beating in my throat. You know the feeling, my stomach just not settled, I was bothered and felt extremely anxious. “What did God want me to do”, I thought?

I knew He led me to step away from my job, without another job, I knew He asked me to rest. I thought 3 weeks was enough and it was time to get back to it. I had several irons in the fire, audiobooks on play, learning how to take the next step as a writer, a creative entrepreneur.

I got to church, sat down and couldn’t get my mind off of the thoughts running around inside my head. Then it was time for prayer at the end of service.  It’s a time where anyone can go up and receive prayer about anything. I have taken advantage of this prayer ministry many times, which can be humbling to walk up in front of everyone and admit you’re desperate need for God, once again.

But God has been really teaching me about “people pleasing” or really caring what others think and caring more about what He thinks instead. So with my head down, I proceeded to the front of the room. I needed to know what He thought and I knew prayer was a great place to start.

“I just need discernment on what God wants me to do“ I said to the prayer minister. “Let’s listen to the Holy Spirit” she said. Then, she began to pray and ask for God’s direction on my behalf. See there is power in the agreement of two or more people when praying, the Bible talks about this in Matthew 18:19 where it reads “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. -Jesus.”

As she prayed, I heard the Lord whisper “just wait”

I thought “Lord, I have all these irons in the fire, I have told so many people I would help with this project and that project, shouldn’t I start making money?”

The prayer minister then said “I feel like God just wants you to crawl up in His lap and be His daughter.”

I had heard God tell me to “just wait” before and that He would show me, but it didn’t quite compute. I knew that hearing this a second time, it was probably from God, so I knelt down at the altar to just be. Then another friend who didn’t really know anything about what we just prayed, knelt down beside me and said “can I pray for you?” As she prayed it felt like she had just had a full on conversation with the last girl that prayed for me, she was saying the very same thing. I knew then without a doubt it was God. I knew He wanted me to stop all that I was doing and rest and trust in Him for what was next.

“God this doesn’t make sense, you know how much money I have in my bank account, right?”

Then I thought, “Oh yeah, You are God, You know everything.”

I realized later as I was processing with God, that I have done a pretty good job all these years taking care of myself. I wasn’t sure what He meant by being a daughter especially at age 38, I mean I am an adult shouldn’t I take care of myself? But He said “no, I want to show you how to be My daughter”

Why is it so difficult? To let the One who created us, take care of us?

Control? probably

Distrust? I am sure

Unbelief? yes we all struggle with that from time to time

fear? possibly

The opposite of what culture tells us? UHM yeah FOR SURE.

But as I like to say, people create culture and God well He created the entire Universe.

He is God and because of His son Jesus, we are reconciled back to Father God and called His children. It’s quite beautiful and pretty simple, but we like to make things way more complicated it seems.

Have you given your life to the Lord Jesus Christ? It’s not really a prayer or a big production, it’s a belief and acceptance of a gift that He died to give us, we accept it or we don’t, the choice is really ours.

We love Him only because He first loved us.  

If you love Him, let Him know, He is much closer than you realize.

 

Fear and Love

I am thrilled to tell you how the Lord lead me to really punch fear in the face. I never read any of Jon Acuff’s books but he first coined that term. “Punch Fear in the Face.”

I have probably always lived with fear, my entire 37 years of life, sad, but true. I struggled mainly with two out of the three kinds of fear;

1. Fear of Man

2. Fear of the Devil

I use to fear YOUR opinion, more than you can imagine and it was so exhausting. I cared what everyone thought, from my precious family to a stranger, it was beyond exhausting trying to manage your perception of me. I might have a future in being a publicist or something because I got really good at thinking through the lens of everyone else. WHOA.

I also had a Fear of the Devil “what would be my next suffering” I constantly thought. And when I say constantly, I mean constantly. I almost thought more about the devil then I did about God. I actually believed for a long part of my Christian walk especially after moving to LA that the devil was more powerful than God, talk about exhausting, I can’t even explain the terror of that lie.

What I know is that the devil is the Father of Lies and to be honest agreeing with His lies can be pretty damaging. My favorite quote recently on this subject is from Todd White (if you don’t know Todd, you might want to google him) he said “you can’t fight the devil, it’s like punching air, you instead have to fill your head so full of the Word of God that there is no room for the devils lies.” When Todd recently said this at a conference I was at,  I literally jumped out of my seat  yelling “YES YES”!  I am sure you can imagine. I was excited because the truth of the matter was, I was spending so much time fighting the devil that I had no time to sit and be with God. 

It was a sweet new friend of mine that said “Lindsay there are 3 kinds of fear that all fear really root back too:

  1. Fear of Man; aka People Pleasing and the alike

  2. Fear of the Devil

  3. Fear of Death

I told her I defiantly had been struggling with the first two, the 3rd one didn’t seem to be as bad for me, but it might be for you.

So what is the cure, how do we fight fear? Well as I was reading my Bible one evening filling my head with the Word of God (as Todd so suggested) and I came across 1 John 4:18

English Standard Version

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

We all know that first part of the verse. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. I have heard that one a million times, but the second part is the part I had not heard in a while or maybe ever, “whoever fears has not been perfected in love” . It jumped out at me and I thought “ok I know I can’t fight fear, because fear is a lie, so according to this, I need to pray to be perfected in God’s love, which will then CAST out fear.

It’s sounds painfully simple, I mean 38 years of fear and this little prayer was going to do the trick?

Well folks, I gotta be honest with you.

IT SURE DID.

I don’t know how, I don’t ever pretend to understand how prayer works.

So if you struggle with fear, my prayer for you is that God would perfect you in His love, good news, He IS LOVE so more of Him is more of Love! 

Love Always, linds

The Shield of Faith!

Lately I have been learning about forgiveness. Again!

This time not so much about the big ugly things of our past, I have been through that cleansing process already and am beyond thankful to have taken a few years to forgive myself, others and even God for a lot of the past. No God does not need my forgiveness, but it sometimes frees us to admit our anger or resentment towards God.

This time it is about the seemingly little everyday occurrences of life that happen just by doing life with other humans. I am learning that when I “think” I have every right to stay hurt, or offended the truth is Jesus said “you are to forgive 70X7 times” which =490 times EACH DAY even if it is the same person who hurts you.

That’s a lot!

Trust me, I understand, sometimes the anger feels so justified, sometimes the hurt is so very very real, but Jesus makes it pretty clear to the disciples, forgive 7X70. (period) no exceptions.

I have this category here on my blog called “worry, wonder and minimeltdowns” I have heard people call these minimeltdowns “their wrestling matches with God.” But me, I just call it like I see it, “adult temper tantrums” because basically we are saying, “I don’t want too, I don’t want to forgive them God.”

We want to hold onto the anger, because it feels justified and to be honest it feels good. It feels like we are getting them back by staying angry.

The truth is “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12 NASB

The people we sometimes refuse to forgive are not our problem but the enemy would love for us to think they are the problem because it is really him who is the problem.

So what do we do?

The very next verse in the Bible after warning us that our fight is not against flesh and blood is “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace

The very next verse says in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:13-15 NASB

As I was studying a bit for this blog post, I saw that the scripture reads “you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one with this shield of faith”. Ephesians 6:16 NASB

And I fell head over heals in LOVE with the word, ALL.

I will admit to you that I have struggled in the past with believing the lie that the devil is more powerful then God, WHAT ON EARTH I KNOW. And friends I will tell you, believing that will create gripping fear in your life. And sadly that is how I have lived most of my 37 almost 38 years.

Gripped by fear, which is just a big fat ugly lie from the very pit of hell.

So, as I was learning this and going through one of the toughest months I have had in a while, I would smile on the inside when I picked up this really groovy bracelet from a company called Gracewear. As all of their jewelry represents the Shield of Faith.

It was like a sweet little (but powerful) reminder that My God, has me covered with His armor.

People would often notice and comment on the bracelet but they didn’t know what it stood for, it was like a nod from God, “I have got you girl”.

So guess what, I have the same SUPER groovy bracelet (see here) to give-away to one of you sweet readers. Comment below with a verse from scripture that encourages you and I will put you in a hat and draw to see who wins. We wear lots of hats in sunny Southern California.

Ps. My next giveaway (shoes from a certain One for One company) will be for my email subscribers exclusively. Sign up to receive my blog in your inbox.

You can also use this link (Click Here) to purchase any items from this website. I will then get credit and I will use that money to put back into my blog (which I am re-launching soon) so thanks for helping.

Love you always,

Linds