Welcome to INTO THE LIGHT Journal!

This journal is NOT about me but about the GREAT Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ and ALL that He has done for me—who saved and changed (inside-out) a great sinner like me. I don't claim that I know everything about life. But one thing I am certain, that apart from the love and mercies of Christ—I AM NOTHING. "... God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world."(Galatians 6:14). I’m attesting the words of Charles Spurgeon: "My hope lives not because I am not a sinner but because I am a sinner for whom Christ died; I don’t trust that I am holy but that, being unholy, He is my righteousness. I don't have to be rich, but I must be pure. My faith doesn’t rest upon what I am, or shall be, or feel, or know, but in what Christ IS and what He has done for me. The love of Jesus is the source of salvation. He loves, He looks, He touches us, and we live!"

For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 10:36)

Serving in Christ's throne of grace,

Erlinda Mejia-Olsonღღღ

Religious Freedom Under Attack...Again

By: Ken Ham
( Answers in Genesis via INTO THE LIGHT Journal )

Last week, pastors in Texas faced an attack of their freedoms of religion and speech when city officials subpoenaed their sermons, and this week the attack centers on a couple in Idaho who own a wedding chapel and refuse to perform ceremonies for homosexual couples. This is a story that liberals promised would never come, but it’s already here. The Christian couple, Donald and Evelyn Knapp, operate Hitching Post Wedding Chapel.* They now face possible jail time or thousands of dollars in fines because they respectfully declined to marry a same-sex couple.
Since the federal courts for the District of Idaho have “held unconstitutional Idaho’s statutes and constitutional amendments preventing same-sex couples from marrying and refusing to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere,” the city of Coeur d’Alene claims that its “non-discrimination”ordinance requires the Knapps to marry same-sex couples. According to reports, when the Knapps declined to perform a gay marriage, they subjected themselves to jail time and fines for their refusal. This is nothing short of yet another assault on the religious freedom of all Americans.
To protect their fundamental right to exercise freedom of religion in accordance with their Christian faith, and their freedom of speech, guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States, the Knapps have had to file a lawsuit in federal court requesting a restraining order against the city government. The Alliance Defending Freedom, who are representing the Knapps in the federal lawsuit, said the following:
The government should not force ordained ministers to act contrary to their faith under threat of jail time and criminal fines . . . Many have denied that pastors would ever be forced to perform ceremonies that are completely at odds with their faith, but that’s what is happening here—and it’s happened this quickly. The city is on seriously flawed legal ground, and our lawsuit intends to ensure that this couple’s freedom to adhere to their own faith as pastors is protected just as the First Amendment intended. . . . The government exists to protect and respect our freedoms, not attack them. . . . The city cannot erase these fundamental freedoms and replace them with government coercion and intolerance.
Over the years as movements like the LGBT rights movement have picked up speed, we’ve been told that Christians don’t need to worry—we are free to have our beliefs, but that is demonstrably not true. The government is clearly no longer respecting or upholding the First Amendment. Instead, it is punishing people for having—and holding to—religious convictions, namely Christian ones. As liberal judges—who do not base their thinking even remotely on God’s Word—continue to make rulings, our religious freedoms will continue to dwindle. The Knapps’ refusal to perform this ceremony is a biblical stance that is being completely disregarded by authorities. Marriage is for one man and one woman because our Creator is the author of marriage and only He has the right to say what marriage is and is not. And marriage is not for two men or two women. As Jesus says, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female’, and said ‘For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?” (Matthew 19:4–5). Marriage is for one man and one woman—period. However, our society prides itself on being “tolerant,” but this is a false kind of tolerance that is completely intolerant—is actually opposed—to the absolutes of Christianity. Society is “tolerant”of you as long as you are wiling to accept anything and everything as fine. As soon as you take an absolute stand against something because of biblical convictions, you face the wrath of society and the government.
Our society is rapidly not just drifting away from its once-biblical foundation, but it is actively and aggressively attacking this foundation. For years, Christian leaders, including myself, have been saying that we are heading toward a time when Christians are going to be persecuted and even jailed for what they believe. Many people thought we were crazy, that nothing like that would ever happen in America, but it’s happening right now before our eyes. Christians need to be bold and stand firmly for what Scripture teaches. Our culture has adopted the foundation of “everyone doing what is right in their own eyes” (Judges 21:25) instead of doing what is right in God’s eyes. Without an absolute authority, anything goes. But we as believers are called to “obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29), and this means standing against a culture that seeks to replace God’s Word with man’s sinful ideas. Sadly, while America’s government has traditionally recognized that religious freedom is an important right (not a privilege granted at the whim of the authorities!), increasingly it is attacking those who choose to exercise their religious freedom by making decisions that are unpopular in today’s world. In the case of these two pastors, the government is claiming that their “non-discrimination”ordinance requires they not discriminate against homosexuals, but what the government is really doing is discriminating against—and threatening—two Christians who are seeking to obey and honor God and His Word.
These kinds of attacks shouldn’t surprise us, however. The Holy Spirit, through Peter, warned us to expect such trials:
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? Now “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?” Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator. (1 Peter 4:12–19)
Even when our freedoms are attacked, we can rejoice because we are partaking in Christ’s sufferings and His glory is being revealed. In fact, Scripture teaches that we are blessed when we are “reproached for the name of Christ.” In the end, we have nothing to fear because “at the name of Jesus every knee [will] bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue [will] confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10–11).
It can be discouraging to look around America and see this kind of thing happening but we should also keep in mind that there is a remnant—a large remnant—that still stands solidly on biblical authority. I meet these people every day here at the museum or while I am out speaking. It’s a bigger remnant than most people realize and that’s certainly encouraging.
I encourage you to pray for our fellow believers, this nation, and for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1–2), that they will make godly, wise decisions and will not be like the Israelites who were warned with, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20). Of course, the most important thing we need to do—the only thing that is going to change the attitudes of this nation—is preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the gospel and the indwelling Holy Spirit that changes hearts and lives.
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,
This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team
* While we do not know the Knapps’ specific beliefs on the Bible, theology, and whether they would stand with Answers in Genesis, this incident is yet another example of the increasing intolerance and persecution of Christians in this declining culture.

Beauty Pageant Reflections

By: Erin Davis
( Lies Young Women Believe Ministry via INTO THE LIGHT Journal )

They were stunning.

A row of gorgeous girls, lined up on a stage in breathtaking gowns.

A friend of mine was competing in a pageant. I came to support her. I’ve never had beauty pageant aspirations. I’m better suited for cowgirl boots than fancy heels. I feel most beautiful in jeans and a t-shirt, not a sparkly gown. Even so, as I watched those beautiful girls parade across the stage (and they were beautiful!) familiar feelings started stirring in my heart.   

Feelings like:

A craving to compare

I started to desire a crown I wasn’t even competing for. I wanted to be picked as the most beautiful, most talented, most likeable girl in the room. And my mind started to dwell on every flaw that might keep me from claiming those titles.

The craving for beauty and attention is a familiar one. In high school I spent all of my energy trying to be the best and the brightest. As a college student I became consumed with being thin, so much so that I developed an eating disorder. As a young bride, I worried constantly that I wasn’t good enough or pretty enough to keep my man’s affection.

But then I had a collision with God’s Truth. It was like someone cranked up the volume on all that the Bible has to say about my beauty and worth and suddenly I couldn’t ignore it any more.

Losing weight couldn’t erase my insecurities. New clothes couldn’t stifle my tendency to compare. No beauty product could make me feel beautiful for long. But God’s Word could. When I listened, really listened to all that God says about my worth and chose to believe it was true, I got the total makeover I’d been chasing for years.

But fast-forward a decade to the beauty pageant, and I suddenly needed a refresher course in God’s Truth about my beauty. Maybe you do to. Here’s some Truth you can grab on to the next time you feel threatened or insecure by someone else’s beauty.

I am beautiful to Jesus.

That may feel kinda cheesy at first, but that’s because we gloss right over the depth of God’s feelings for us.

Song of Solomon 1:15 says, “Behold, you are beautiful, my love; behold, you are beautiful; your eyes are doves.”

Song of Solomon 4:7 says, “You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.”

When Jesus looks at us, He is like a groom on his wedding day.
These passages are taken from the Song of Solomon, a description of two lovers, thought by many Bible scholars to be a picture of Christ’s love for His Bride. (That’s us!) When Jesus looks at us, He is like a groom on his wedding day. Don’t you just love that moment, when the groom sees his beautiful bride for the first time? That’s how God sees me!

Psalm 40:5 says that God’s thoughts towards us are many. In fact, no one thinks of us as often as He does.

He is thinking of me. He sees beauty when He looks at me. That’s true if I’m the prettiest girl in the room or if I’m not. It’s true when I feel beautiful and when I don’t.

Angela Thomas wrote about it this way, “If the question, ‘Do you think I’m beautiful?’ came attached to my soul, then maybe the answer wasn’t ever meant to fully come from this world. Maybe the purpose of the question is to take me by the hand and walk me into the presence of the Creator. My soul cries out and asks me the question meant to lead me to God. Maybe all that really matters is what He thinks of me.” 

I want a beautiful heart.

Sure, I’d love to have great hair, perpetually clear skin, and the perfect body. (Who wouldn’t!) But over the years I’ve developed a desire for a deeper kind of beauty.

When He looks at me He sees right past my face and clothes and straight into my heart.
In 1 Samuel 16 Samuel is on the hunt for the new king of Israel. He’s interviewed lots of impressive candidates, but God doesn’t choose the strongest or the tallest or the bravest to be king.

In the middle of that story, we find the key that unlocks the door to the truth about our beauty.
“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance nor on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).
I could hold the titles of Miss America and Miss Universe. I could be on the cover of People Magazine as one of the 100 most beautiful people. I could stop traffic with my beauty, but if my heart was ugly, none of it would matter to God. When He looks at me He sees right past my face and clothes and straight into my heart.

I know the secret to beauty that lasts.

Any former Miss America will tell you, the crown eventually loses its sparkle. One year later a new beauty queen is crowned and the sash gets relegated to the back of the closet. Eventually, even beauty queens get wrinkles, gray hairs, and squishy tummies. Even the most beautiful girls in the world cannot hold on to external beauty forever.

That’s why Proverbs 31:30 gives this warning, “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”

If external beauty is bound to slip through our fingers, spending years chasing it is a waste. The good news is, God offers an alternative.
“Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, for the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious” (1 Pet. 3:3–4).
Want the fountain of youth? It’s right here! Want a brand of beauty that will not fade? Look no further than God’s Word.
God can infuse our hearts with a kind of beauty that’s imperishable. That means it’s permanent, enduring, and indestructible!

God can infuse our hearts with a kind of beauty that’s imperishable. That means it’s permanent, enduring, and indestructible!

Whenever I’m tempted to get overly wrapped up in my external appearance, I force myself to remember that all good hair days eventually end in bed head. I want the kind of beauty that can never fade! I can only have it by asking God to make me more like Him.

The next time you see a beauty queen...

You don’t have to be at a beauty pageant to feel squirmy about your beauty. One flip through a magazine can do it. So can an encounter with that girl who looks so perfect. But when envy, jealousy, insecurity, and the need to compare cat walk across your heart, you have a choice...
Will you fall for the lie that beautiful girls are worth more? 
Will you grab on to God’s Truth that He’s thinking of you right now and longing to give you a makeover in the place it matters most—your heart.

Blessed Are Those Who Are Persecuted: The Answer To The WHY Is WHO

By: Erlinda Mejia-Olson
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.“ ~Matthew 5:10-12
There wasn’t a dry eye when Naghmeh Abedini shared her story during the recently concluded, True Women ’14 Conference held in Indianapolis, Indiana. She is the wife of a Christian American Pastor Saeed Abedini—who is currently imprisoned in one of Iran’s toughest prisons since 2012 because of his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

I didn’t mean to sound melodramatic, but I couldn’t keep a dry eye myself as I was reading the testimony of faith of Pastor Saeed and Naghmeh Abedini, and the letter, Pastor Saeed Abedini wrote for their daughter, Rebekka Grace’s 8th birthday on September 12th, 2014. Pastor Saeed’s faith in Christ in facing his present predicament in prison is so great that it enables him to endure constant torture, beatings, or even death. It made my own trials and testings in life looked like a grain of sand.

With good intentions at heart, I am sure Pastor Saeed longs to be home with his wife and two children back in the USA. The words he wrote to his daughter didn’t simply mean for us to feel sorry for him and pray for his release. His testimony has become a blessing and encouragement to me as I seek and serve the Lord Jesus Christ to all people, at all places and time … in all seasons of life.

If you want to know more about Pastor Saeed and help, here is the link.  Here is Pastor Saeed's Letter to Rebekka Grace:
My Dearest Rebekka Grace, 
You are growing so fast and becoming more beautiful every day. I praise God for His faithfulness to me every day as I watch from a distance through the prison walls and see pictures and hear stories of how you are growing both spiritually and physically.
Oh how I long to see you.
I know that you question why you have prayed so many times for my return and yet I am not home yet. Now there is a big WHY. In your mind you are asking: WHY Jesus isn’t answering your prayers and the prayers of all the people around the world praying for my release and for me to be home with you and our family.
The answer to the WHY is WHO. WHO is in control? The LORD JESUS CHRIST is in control. 
I desire for you to learn important lessons during these trying times. Lessons that you carry now and for the rest of your life. The answer to the WHY IS WHO. The confusion of “WHY has all of this happened?” and “WHY your prayers are not answered yet” is resolved with understanding WHO is in control...the LORD JESUS CHRIST, our GOD! 
God is in control of the whole world and everything that is happening in it is for His good purpose, for His glory, and will be worked out for our good (Romans 8:28). Jesus allows me to be kept here for His glory. He is doing something inside each of us and also outside in the world. People die and suffer for their Christian faith all over the world and some may wonder why? But you should know the answer of WHY is WHO. It is for Jesus. He is worth the price. And He has a plan to be glorified through our lives. 
I want you to read the book of Habakkuk. He had the same question as you. But see that the Lord answered him in Habakkuk 2:3, “the vision comes and doesn’t delay on time, wait for it.” Mommy and I always had big desires to serve Jesus and had great vision to be used for His Kingdom and for His Glory. So today we pay a cost because God, who created us, called us to that. 
And so I want you to know that the answer to all of your prayers is that God is in control, and He knows better than us what He is doing in our lives and all around the world. 
Therefore declare as Daniel and his friends Shadrach, Meshack, and Abed-Nego did in Daniel 3:17–18!
“If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” 
And learn and declare as Habakkuk did that even if we do not get the result that we are looking for, God is still good and we WILL praise His Holy Name.
Habakkuk 3:17–19:
“Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls—yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills.”
Then my dear beloved daughter Rebekka Grace, I pray God will bring me back home soon. But if not, we will still sing together as Habakkuk did HALLELUJAH, either separated by prison walls or together at home. 
So, let Daddy hear you sing a loud Hallelujah that I can hear all the way here in the prison! 
I am so proud of you my sweet courageous daughter. 
Glory to God forever, Amen. 
Kisses and Blessings,
Friend, are you always wrestling with WHYs in your own life?  The answer to the WHY is WHO. We know that our world is falling apart. Our human mind is limited.  Until the Lord Jesus Christ comes back again, there will always be trials and testings wherever you go, whoever you are. Even in our solitude our burdens keep echoing in the corner of our hearts and minds. You are exhausted! You want to run away! You want to hide! But you cannot! The WHYs are piling up like a mountain you cannot climb.  But when we rest our mind on WHO is in control, the WHYs become unruffled, unflustered, at ease.

The answer to the WHY is WHO.

GOD is the WHO.  He is in control.  He always was.  He will always be.

The answer to ALL our WHYs is the LORD Jesus Christ, our GOD and our Redeemer!
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! (Psalm 46:10)
References:  True Woman, Revive Our Hearts, BE HEARD Project/Saeed

How Do You Know You Are Going To Heaven?

By God’s Simple Plan Of Salvation: What Does It Mean To Be Saved (Born Again)?

"And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment," (Hebrews 9:27).

Dear Friend,

God is asking you the most important question of life. Your joy or your sorrow for all eternity depends upon your answer. The question is: Are you saved? It is not a question of how good you are, nor if you are a church member, but are you saved? Are you sure you will go to Heaven when you die? God says in order to go to Heaven, you must be born again. In John 3:7, Jesus said to Nicodemus, "Ye must be born again." In the Bible God gives us the plan of how to be born again—which means to be saved. His plan is simple! You can be saved today.


First, you must realize you are a sinner. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Because you are a sinner, you are condemned to death. "For the wages (payment) of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). This includes eternal separation from God in Hell ...."it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement" (Hebrews 9:27). But God loved you so much He gave His only begotten Son, Jesus, to bear your sin and die in your place. "...He hath made Him (Jesus, Who knew no sin) to be sin for us ... that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus had to shed His blood and die. "For the life of the flesh is in the blood" (Leviticus 17:11). "...without shedding of blood there is no remission(forgiveness)" (Hebrews 9:22). "...But commandeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). Although, we cannot understand how, God said my sins and your sins were laid upon Jesus and He died in our place. He became our substitute. It is true. God cannot lie. "God ... now commandeth all men everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30). This repentance is a change of mind that agrees with God that one is a sinner, and also agrees with what Jesus did for us on the Cross.In Acts 16:30-31, the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas: "...'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?' And they said, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved...'" Simply believe on Him as the one who bore your sin, died in your place, was buried, and whom God resurrected. His resurrection powerfully assures that the believer can claim everlasting life when Jesus is received as Savior. "But many as received Him, to them gave the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name" (John 1:12). "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:13). Whosoever includes you. Shall be saved means not maybe, nor can, but shall be saved.Surely, you realize you are a sinner. Right now, wherever you are, repenting, lift your heart to God in prayer. In Luke 18:13, the sinner prayed: "God be merciful to me a sinner." Just take God at His Word and claim His salvation by faith. Believe, and you will be saved. No church. no lodge, no good works can save you. Remember, God does the saving. All of it.

Just Pray:

Oh, Father in Heaven, I know I am a sinner. I believe Jesus was my substitute when He died on the Cross. I believe that His shed blood, death, burial, and resurrection were for me. I believe that apart from Your Son's finished works on the Cross, there is no other way I can go to Heaven except through Him and in Him alone. I now receive Him as my Lord and Personal Savior. I thank You for the forgiveness of my sins, the gift of salvation and everlasting life, because of Your merciful grace. Amen."

God simple plan of salvation is: You are a sinner. Therefore, unless you believe on Jesus Who died in your place, you will spend eternity in Hell. If you believe on Him as your crucified, buried, and risen Savior, you receive forgiveness for all of your sins and His gift of eternal salvation by faith. You say, "Surely, it cannot be that simple." Yes, that simple! It is Scriptural. It is God's plan. My friend, believe on Jesus and receive Him as Savior today. If His plan is not perfectly clear, I'm encouraging you to read this journal over and over again, until you understand it. Your soul is worth more than all the world. "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Mark 8:36). Be sure you are saved. If you lose your soul, you miss Heaven and lose all. Let God save you this very moment. God's power will save you, keep you saved, and enable you to live a victorious Christian Life. "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it" (1 Corinthians 10:13).Do not trust your feelings. They change. Stand on God's promises. They never change. After you are saved—there are three things to practice daily for spiritual growth: Pray—you talk to God. Read your Bible—God talks to you. Witness—you talk for God. After you are saved—you should be baptized (by water immersion, a symbolic picture of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection) in obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ as a public testimony of your salvation, and then unite with a Bible-believing church without delay. "Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord..." (2 Timothy 1:8) ..."Whosoever therefore shall confess (testify of) Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father which is in Heaven" (Matthew 10:32).