Tuesday, October 7, 2014

You have healed me

"Oh Lord, my God I cried to You and You have healed me."
~Psalm 30:2

     For a couple years back in the early 2000s, I suffered from stomach pains everyday. It did not seem to matter what I ate or did not eat, I would have pains that progressed through the day. Trying to sleep at night was the worst! Sometimes eating a snack sent me to my bed. I would stay standing on the floor while bending my top half onto the bed because it was more comfortable than fully standing or lying down! I went to the Doctor and was prescribed a antacid that had to be taken everyday one hour before eating. It helped but I was only in my early twenties and stubbornly thought I was way too young to need a pill everyday just to eat without pain. So that stopped even before my sample pack was done.

Deciding to deal with the pain, it just became part of my life. I ended up figuring out that the pain was lessened if I did not eat anything past 5pm. That is until one night at Bible study with friends and I mentioned that my stomach was hurting and could not eat. One of my friends said, "You've been having stomach issues for a while, do you want us to pray over you?" I said yes so all of them gathered, anointed my head with oil (a symbol of the Holy Spirit) and laid hands on me while praying for my healing. After that, my long struggle with that relentless stomach pain was GONE before I reached my car to go home that night! I have not felt it since and it's been over a decade! Praise God for His grace and mercy on us through His Son Jesus!

Now you can scoff in disbelief, thinking that it was just a coincidence, but those that knew of my pain back then realize something miraculous happened. God healed me that night! I am sharing this because I do not give testimony nearly enough. God loves us so much! I am one of many living proofs!

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Temptation of the Tangible

In general, we humans need tangible things to instantly gratify ourselves. We see this in Exodus 32 where the Israelites are getting restless because Moses was atop Mount Sinai for quite some time speaking with God. They built a golden calf due to feeling the need to behold and worship something with all their senses, neglecting all that they had learned about God through Moses. In Hebrews 11:1 the Amplified Bible says, “Faith is…the proof of things we do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]. Like the Israelites, we too have a problem in this area.

All one has to do is observe any media to see what appears to matter to most of us:

Look years younger with the latest face cream…
Lose weight instantly with this new pill…
Satisfy your cravings and indulge in this chocolate truffle…

Sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch are very important to us and that is ok in some circumstances. For instance, a soothing aromatherapy bath for a hardworking Mother of five can do wonders for relaxation. God gave us our senses to enjoy His blessings! The problem arises when our senses overpower God’s reality. What if I changed those media advertisements?

God’s light will shine on your face when you learn to cast your anxieties on Him… (1 Peter 5:7)
Treat your body as a temple of the Holy Spirit and let God be your diet and exercise guide… (1 Corinthians 6:19)
Satisfy your real needs by indulging in God’s word and let it wash over you and change you every day… (Luke 8:15)

You may notice two key words in those advertisements that we do not like to hear, “learn” and “let.” Why is that? Learning something requires effort on our part and it is not an instant result. It is a process of gaining knowledge and the application of such. The application is where the “let” comes in. We do not like to give up control in many areas, especially if we do not see immediate results. God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8), therefore His timing can be frustrating. Letting God handle our troubles, big and small, does not come naturally to us.

The Israelites had seen God do great things for them like parting the Red Sea so they could escape the Egyptians. There were many other miraculous signs of God’s care and provision through their journey in the wilderness. Yet they failed to truly learn faith in God so they wanted more and more tangible things from God to give them comfort. They failed to learn the real provision God gave them by delivering them from slavery in Egypt. God was also trying to teach them obedience to and reliance on Him by providing only enough food one day at a time.

There it is. God works on us one day at a time which is why Jesus said, “Do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34)

You may say, “But I need [such and such] so badly! Why hasn’t God provided this for me yet?” I have been there many times and still go there sometimes! I take comfort knowing that even a great man of God like Paul struggled with the same things. He says in Philippians 4:12-13, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” Paul had to learn just like we do that God is our strength and our provider.

I think learning contentment and learning faith go hand-in-hand. If we have seen how God provided in our pasts, that memory should carry us through the next trial. Then the next and the next as we learn each time that God is in control of our situation. Just like any learning situation the knowledge we acquire grows therefore our faith will grow. We can learn much through the example of the heroes of faith that are summarized in the book Hebrews:

“Prompted by faith Noah, being forewarned by God concerning events of which as yet there was no visible sign, took heed and diligently and reverently constructed and prepared an ark for the deliverance of his own family.” (Hebrews 11:7)

“Urged on by faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and went forth to a place which he was destined to receive as an inheritance; and he went although he did not know or trouble his mind about where he was to go.” (Hebrews 11:8)


I love that! Abraham did not “trouble his mind” about the uncertain things because he trusted that God was in control and true to His word. We all need to retain this faith when tempted to create our own comforts because it can very easily lead to sin, as in the case of the Israelites’ golden calf. We need to persevere where they did not and remember the awesome things that God has done for each of us. Those truths and memories will carry us through each “learning situation.” 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Forgive


At age 7, I moved to a different town and began attending a new school after my Mother died. I believe a lot of my emotional development issues and anger problems stem from there. Being in a very vulnerable state and dealing with my Mother being gone, while trying to make new friends, was difficult. Of course, I did not realize it at the time.

I became friends with one girl in particular. We played at each other’s houses and at school recess for a good part of the year. Then one day she simply said, “I don’t like you” and stopped being friends with me. It seems just very childish and silly but at the time I was devastated. My first thoughts were, “What did I do wrong? If you don’t like me, then why all the fun sleepovers and laughs?” The next several years I endured being bullied by this particular individual.

Blaming underdeveloped emotions and anger problems solely on that is far-fetched but I cannot deny that it had an impact. Anxiety around this person continued into adulthood because of the bullying. There were other bullies at age 7 and the 2 years after which had a hand too. I would love to say that I had this one huge breakthrough and am now free of any baggage from yesteryear. However, we know that is not the way it works.

I believe that everything we go through can be used by God for good. His process of helping us through it can be the best tool in helping someone else. As I sit and type this blog, I am wondering if someone will identify with me and begin their process of healing; knowing someone else in the world has suffered similar things.

My process of healing began upon learning to stop dwelling on the past. It will just make you stuck. Yes, it is difficult to break this habit but it all begins with the mind. The apostle Paul says in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.” If you are not thinking about past hurts, then you should refrain from speaking about them too. Even aloud to yourself. Words are extremely powerful which is said throughout the entire Holy Bible! One of these passages always stands out in my mind, “The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.” (Proverbs 18:21) Sure, there is a time and place for confiding in a friend about such topics. However, that is different than letting these past events plague you to the point where you are speaking of them all the time and allowing anxiety. I have been there!

The next step is forgiving people who have hurt you. In some cases, you may even need to forgive yourself for things. That happened to me too. At church, my Pastor preached a compelling sermon on forgiveness and offered a visual to help accomplish it. He suggested that we write the name of the person/people who wronged us on a sheet of paper. Then list the things you feel they owe you like an apology, your money back, your childhood etc… He said, “After you make these lists I want you to write over the whole thing, the word ‘CANCELED’ just like a canceled debt. Then rip up the “invoices” and throw them away.” It does not mean that those who hurt us are let off the hook. God will deal with them, “God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you.” (1 Thessalonians 1:6) We have no need to worry about how God will deal with them. Trust God and His infinite wisdom take care of that so we can move on. 

It is possible that some struggle with resentment toward one person on a regular basis because they are constantly being wronged due to a trapped situation. I know it is difficult but we can learn from Matthew 18:21-22 where Peter asks Jesus, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answers, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven.” If you earnestly desire to be free of this bondage and say the words, “I forgive _______,” pray for God to help feel true forgiveness. Afterward, begin to pray for those that hurt you. It is definitely a struggle but Jesus told us to, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44) He will help you if you let Him. Loving our enemies does not come naturally to us but we “can do all things through Christ Who strengthens us.” (Philippians 4:13)

We will need to guard our hearts against unforgiving attitudes as long as we live but it is worth it, trust me!

An amazing amount of teachings on mental and emotional health and attitudes can be found at Joyce Meyer’s website: www.joycemeyer.org

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Children's Ministry

In January, I felt led by God to help with the children's ministry at my church. Having no children of my own yet, I can only draw from my experiences taking care of my disabled younger sister and the times I am around my friends' children.

Last night, I thought about why I felt led to do this. Then God reminded me that I have a certain empathy for children because of the turmoil I endured as a child. Without God, I would never have survived once into my teens. I thought about how the spiritual seeds planted in children can be used by God later on when these children have grown up and are far away from the Sunday School teachers of their youth. I want to be used by God to become one of those people planting seeds early on and praying for these children because maybe no one else is.

This morning I searched again for more wisdom into this situation and God led me to 1 Corinthians 3:10 which says, "According to the grace of God bestowed on me, like a skillful architect and master builder I laid the foundation, and now another is building upon it." This affirmation from God was so amazing because I am nervous about teaching children, wondering if I am adequate to do it. However, I need to keep reminding myself what the word "grace" means in that passage. It means, "special endowment for my task." God will handle the areas that are making me nervous and need improvement. He will also nurture the gifts He has given me that make me right for the task of laying a strong spiritual foundation in each child's life. If the child already has a good foundation from teachings at home with family, then God will help me be someone "building upon it" and nurture all children to a closer relationship with their Creator.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Jesus wept.


I am currently working on a yearlong chronological reading of the Holy Bible that I began a few years ago and unfortunately stopped for one reason or another. This time around, I am realizing how awesome these 66 books are! The Old and New Testaments are connected even more than with the awesome prophecies in the Old that Jesus alone fulfilled in the New. I foolishly missed the other connections all these years. Having learned my lesson, my reading will be completed this time! Then I will start it all over again in a different format to see what more gems are to be found.

This past Sunday my Pastor preached a sermon involving the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead found in John chapter 11. In verse 35 of that story, we read the shortest verse in the English Bible, “Jesus wept.” As I listened, that verse resonated with me and I realized how much we can learn about our Lord from those two words. The first thought that came to me was that it represents Jesus’ humanity. Yes He was God but also human or as we say God incarnate. Why did He weep? Even though His plan all along was to resuscitate Lazarus and show God’s glory in that miracle, He took the time to show compassion for Lazarus’ family and friends who were grieving. He wept with them.

Have you ever wondered if God understands how you feel? I wondered the same thing at one point but have found hope in this passage and many others. We know that the trials we go through will not last forever. As long as we focus on Jesus during them, we know victory is on its way. He will help you by always taking the time to bear your burdens with you because He knows exactly how you feel. He has been here and done that! It is incredibly comforting to know that the God I serve is not some “hovering being” without any understanding of my life. My God knows exactly what I feel because He was right here feeling hunger, thirst, betrayal, disappointment and joy just like us.

I would like to finish by adding one more piece to this which is important. In the Lazarus story, Jesus gave us a perfect example that shows the importance and meaning of a passage that Paul wrote later. “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2) Our Lord will certainly help us during our trials but we must remember to help others going through theirs. He will help others too, who depend on Him of course, but we have still been commanded to help as well.
A great teaching on this verse in Galatians can be found here:

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Bigger Picture


“Keep your minds fixed on things that are above, not on things that are on this earth.” Colossians 3:2

Often times, I get distracted from God because of a list of things. One of my biggest struggles is forgiveness. It is so easy to let that seed of bitterness destroy my happiness! I spent many years with bitterness, resentment and anger over things that happened years prior. Like the snowball effect, someone would treat me badly and that anger would add to the giant mass I already carried with me. Now it is so important that I stop unforgiveness in its tracks. After praying and letting God handle those harmful feelings of yesteryear, such a weight has lifted off my shoulders. This does not mean that what happened to me was not hurtful, it just means that I am not dwelling in it. Can dwelling in it change the fact that it happened? No. So I need to let God help me move on. Forgiveness is one of the BEST things you can do for your relationship with God! Plus, you will be much healthier. Our bodies are not designed to carry around those awful emotions. If someone wrongs me in any way now, I focus on “things above” and remind myself Who set the example of absolute forgiveness. There is a powerful Matthew West song entitled, “Forgiveness” and here are some of the beautiful lyrics that have helped me so much:

It flies in the face of all your pride
It moves away the mad inside
It’s always anger’s own worst enemy
Even when the jury and the judge
Say you got a right to hold a grudge
It’s the whisper in your ear saying ‘Set It Free’
Forgiveness

How true huh? The next lyrics end the song and move me to tears every time:

I want to finally set it free
So show me how to see what Your mercy sees
Help me now to give what You gave to me
Forgiveness

Dear Lord, help us all to give what you gave to us! Isn't it easy to get swept up in how we feel and how much so-and-so betrayed us. But isn't that exactly what we did to God? Why else would we need Him to save us through Jesus? We need to keep our minds fixed on things above. Only then, can we fully understand the bigger picture in all situations.

“…And forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us…” (from The Lord’s Prayer, Matthew 6:9-13)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

For Identity Crises

As a child, I remember becoming very angry when teachers would assume I had a Mother and Father at home. For example, we would be having a field trip and they would say to me, “Be sure to have your Mom or Dad sign the permission slip.” To which I would retort, “You mean my Grandma or Grandpa?” That was my way of dealing with being part of a family that was not the “norm,” I suppose.

Growing up with my maternal Grandparents, my experiences differed from my friends. Music was a big one. I am thirty-years-old and a huge fan of the Andrew Sisters, Elvis, Frank Sinatra, Glenn Miller, Boots Randolph and Jo Stafford to name a few. Generally speaking though, there are core values from my Grandparents’ generation that are so important to me. When I was younger, they were kooky and old. Now it is apparent that their wisdom throughout the years has been invaluable!

At age seven, my Grandma and Grandpa took over taking care of me after my Mother died unexpectedly from a rare blood disease. My Father had never been in the picture so they were the obvious choice to move in with. When entering my teen years, I experienced those inevitable questions: Who is my Father? Why did he not love me? Why did he abandon me? Who am I? They did not cease for a long time. I only knew my maternal family and had no clue who the “other half” of me was. I missed out on a lot, not having my Father.

My best friend led me to Christ at age fourteen and I was introduced to my Heavenly Father! It was so important to finally have Someone to heal the emotional scars that abandonment left. The answer to my questions had arrived! God says in II Corinthians 6:18, “I will be a Father to you…” God is love (I John 4:16) so of course He loves me as His daughter in Christ. In Joshua 1:5 God says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” which tells me that I do not have to fear abandonment anymore! Finally, the “who am I” part. I read recently that there are 160 versus in the Holy Bible that tell me who I am in Christ. You can bet that this identity question is answered thoroughly! Here are a few of my favorites:

I am complete in Him Who is the Head of all principality and power (Colossians 2:10)

I am more than a conqueror through Him Who loves me (Romans 8:37)

I am forgiven of all my sins and washed in the Blood (Ephesians 1:7)

I am greatly loved by God (Romans 1:7, Ephesians 2:4, Colossians 3:12, Thessalonians 1:4)

If you have struggled with the effects of a broken family and/or have questions regarding your identity, I encourage you to seek out these passages and ask God to help you understand fully. These Words are meant for you too! I pray that you find the answers you need. God bless!