Hurricane Ike Band

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He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.

Psalm 107:29

In September of 2008, my son and I flew to Houston for a weekend. My daughter flew down from Montana and we all stayed at my sister’s house.  We made these reservations long before we knew Hurricane Ike was headed right towards Houston.  Having grown up in Houston and being very familiar with hurricanes, we began the work of preparing for possible disaster.

We bought food and water and put things up that were outside and boarded up what windows we could, rounded up flashlights and batteries and the radio.  All that was left to do was pray and wait.  Hurricane Ike hit Houston in the middle of the night.  The winds were howling, rain was pouring and all power went out and the city was dark.  When we got up the next morning, we surveyed the damage and realized we were housebound for several days along with the rest of the city as workers worked to get roads open and power on.

My sister has two guitars, a piano and a keyboard that didn’t require electricity and we started playing songs.  We spent a long time singing and playing instruments and laughing at our not so good songs and marveling at our great ones. We called ourselves the Hurricane Ike Band!  It was a wonderful, memorable time together waiting out the storm.

You may not be going through an actual hurricane.  I certainly hope not, but what storm howls at your door and causes you sleepless nights? What answer are you waiting on?  Are you in need of divine healing that hasn’t come? Waiting stinks, but it doesn’t have to.  We could have huddled over the radio listening to all kinds of bad reports and wrung our hands and made ourselves sick with worry, but we chose instead to create music.  Peace in a storm is possible.  Remember when Jesus was sleeping on the boat when the storm hit the lake and the disciples freaked out?  Jesus woke up, calmed the storm and the disciples were left scratching their heads.  Who is this Jesus?

Jesus is the calmer of the storm, the peace in the midst of bad reports, the Comforter who holds us through difficult times.  Whatever the storm of your life is, He is greater and He is for you not against you.  Isn’t that something to sing about!

Jesus, calmer of my storms, thank You.  You are always present, always here for me no matter what the circumstances of my life may be and I am so grateful.  Thank You for keeping me safe through the storm and giving me new songs to sing.  Help me, I pray, to remember that when the storm comes I can count on You. Amen.

 

pic credit: texascoastgeology.com

When God Says No

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Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 

II Corinthians 12:8

 Don’t we all just hate that word – “NO”.  It doesn’t matter the request, how reasonable, how mature or immature,  how ridiculous or necessary the request seems to be, no is just not the answer we want.  For reasons I may never know, I believe I have asked enough, I have prayed enough and healing doesn’t seem to be something that God is saying yes to, at least not right now, for me.

Whatever the thorn in Paul’s side was (and there are many possible explanations for it), Paul asked three times and the answer came back “No”.  So Paul moved on.  Our pastor did a beautiful sermon on this and he commented that these three times were just three asks, but three seasons of asking. And still the answer was no. And Paul did what I am trying now to do, move on, accept that this is what it is, until it isn’t, and rely on God’s grace to move on in spite of the pain.

When the pain first hit over five years ago, I met it with denial. Every night I went to bed believing that tomorrow I would be better; this is a pulled muscle, a cramp, I slept wrong, whatever, but it would be gone – tomorrow. That Scarlet O’Hara mentality never did serve me well.  When it became apparent that it wasn’t a temporary thing, I moved into the anger phase of grieving. I yelled, I cried, I pulled away from God, I threw fits. This didn’t serve me very well either. Then came bargaining – if I confess enough scriptures on healing, pray enough, have enough people lay hands on me, be anointed with oil enough, eat the right supplements, do enough juicing, rebounding, detoxing, cleanses etc., I will be healed. While those things did serve me better, they didn’t get me healed.

So my pastor comes along and says sometimes, we just need to accept that it is what it is. First time I heard someone say those words to me, I wanted to kick them in the shins. But this day, I heard those words with grace and compassion and I knew that it was time for me to accept that this is what it is. For days, I couldn’t stop the tears. Then for days, I could stop the tears, but I couldn’t talk to anyone for fear of tears starting again. Then the tears were finished and the emotional pain of being told no began to heal and I am moving on.

I still believe in diving healing, I still believe God’s desire and will is to heal and that He has the power to do so. But I know from being a parent that sometimes, the hardest answer I can tell my child is “no”. And sometimes for reasons that they may never understand, sometimes “no” is the answer that serves them best at this moment in their life, which doesn’t mean no forever.

Jesus, You know how I am struggling to accept this. I want to, I need to, You have led me to this point and I want to be willing and obey. But I also want to be healed, three or five years ago. Nevertheless, not my will but Yours be done. Help me to focus on You and the good things in my life that don’t always scream as loudly as the pain and grant me the grace to truly move on. I ask in Your gracious name, amen.

 

pic credit: emmanuelbangkok.org

God’s Prescription for Healing

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 and My people who are called by My name humble themselves

and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways,

then I will hear from heaven,

will forgive their sin and will heal their land.  

Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place.

For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that My name may be there forever,

and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually. 

II Chronicles 7:14-16

There it is – God’s prescription for healing. First, recognize that I am called by His name, I am His. Secondly, humble myself. I was real excited when I read this passage this morning. Until the word humble came along. I tripped on that, I had to look it up and then had to repent and have meditated on it all day. Basically, it means to submit to God all that I am in order for Him to be all that He is in my life. Sounds like an exchange that is definitely in my favor, so what’s the snag?

I googled “what does it mean to humble yourself” and found this answer by wfestrock: “I think humility is coming to grips with who and what you really are. A very weak and flawed being who is ever prone to evil and very insecure and fragile and vulnerable in ten thousand ways. If you could see the truth, humility would come very naturally.  When you humble yourself, you are beginning to see things as they really are”.

I read all kinds of other more sophisticated answers from Bible scholars but this one struck a nerve with me. I have felt so vulnerable lately as more and more, God shows me the weak and flawed aspects of me, aspects I would rather just not deal with. But I do want to healed of this chronic pain and arthritis, and so, I find myself in a conundrum. Go all the way for this healing, humble myself, own up to my flaws and insecurities and yuck and begin the process of unloading all that and be one step closer to healed or leave all this alone and look for another path. Problem is, there is no other path, this is the path God is leading me on.

I realized this morning, that I am the land God desires to heal. You are the land He desires to heal. The healing might just take a different path that the one I started on. God is a holistic healer and He, apparently, is not willing to simply heal my body without healing the rest of me.

The big help in all of this is His promise that if I will humble myself and pray and seek His face and turn from my ways that don’t honor Him, He will forgive me and heal me and His eyes and His ears will be upon me perpetually. What have I got to lose?

Gracious, heavenly Father, I submit to Your plan and Your purposes for my life, even Your pathway for this healing to manifest fully. Forgive me for all the times I have tried to have it my way, to do things the way that seems expedient to me, easiest to me, least painful to me when You have a more complete view of healing than I ever could have. Grant me the grace to humble myself and seek Your face and pray and please keep Your eyes and ears on me perpetually. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

picture credit: wmconnection.BlogSpot.com

Getting Out of the Gate

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…and as long as he sought the Lord, God prospered him.

II Chronicles 26:5

This is talking about Uzziah, a sixteen year old who became king and reigned for 52 years in Jerusalem. He started off on the right foot -he did right in the eyes of the Lord, he continued to seek God and this verse tells us that as long as he sought the Lord, God prospered him. But something went horribly wrong because in verse 21 we are told that Uzziah was a leper to the day of his death and cut off from the house of the Lord.

We used to have race horses. Well, we had horses and some of them actually made it to the track. Mostly, they just made us broke. These were Thoroughbreds which means that most of their races were not sprints, they were bred for longer distances. Getting out of the gate in a sprint race has to be perfect, too much time out and it can’t be made up in a short race, but it can be made up sometimes in a longer one. A good start is crucial, but its the finish that counts.

Uzziah started well, and ended up poorly and if you read the story, you will see that his heart became proud because of victories won in battles and he stopped seeking the Lord and guess what? The Lord stopped prospering him.

When I started into this healing journey, I started on my own strength, that and help from the doctor and a wellness consultant. I had cried out to God for months and months to heal me or show me the way and He said NOTHING! At some unnoticeable point, I stopped seeking Him. The pills, the treatments, the supplements made some difference but I still had so much pain that I couldn’t deal with it any more. So I quit the prescriptions, the supplements, the treatments and decided to leave my healing in God’s hands totally. Either He healed me or I stayed this way.

I went back to seeking the Lord, which is how this blog began.  I started in search of physical healing but I have gained so much more. I have begun prospering in my life, not just financially, though that has improved, but mentally and emotionally and relationally and yes, physically. The only difference is that I sought the Lord through reading His word. That’s it, that’s all I did, and He has done the rest. In life, I don’t think our start in this life is as crucial as the finish as God allows us to start over daily, if need be. It’s the finish that counts in life, as in horse racing. And I hope, by His grace, that I finish strong and healthy and prospering.

Jesus, You paid for it all, my health, all of it, my mental and physical, financial, relational well-being are so important to You. I can’t attain to a level of health in any of these areas without seeking You and Your word and following hard after You. Thank You for turning me in my tracks back to the only source of healing for me. Thank you for the increase in my health in all areas of my life and please, please, help me to finish strong. In Your name, I ask. Amen.

picture credit: resaliens.com

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‘Tis the Season

As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:10-11

I promised a kid at work we would make Christmas ornaments out of Rice Krispies in time for Christmas. ‘Tis the season and guess who forgot that promise! She looked at me shocked and horrified when I admitted I had forgotten. Promises are especially precious to this little girl. She is in foster care and for over a year her mother has promised her that she would get clean and get the family back together. It hasn’t happened yet and it’s easy to see that, at times, this girl’s hope is fading. I reassured her and together we made a grocery list of things we need to make these treats.  We will make them next Monday. I know she won’t let me forget again.

God doesn’t give out His word and then forget it. Even with the myriad of things He no doubt has on His mind, He still remembers His promises and performs them. I don’t know why some take longer than others to materialize but I know His word and His character and both are trustworthy.

He sent His word and healed them,

And delivered them from their destructions.

I don’t know about you, but there have been more than a few destructions that I have needed God to deliver me from – addictions – cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, co-dependency, mental torment, debilitating fear, bad temper… the list is longer, but enough said. I am delivered by His word and healed by His word. The God who delivered me from addictions can and will deliver me from arthritis, chronic pain syndrome and carpal tunnel. This I believe. His word sent to me, sent to you, will not return void, it will accomplish what it is sent for. What word are you standing on? What deliverance are you in need of? It’s not too much for God to heal.

Lord Jesus, be Lord of my life. In the good days and in the not so good days, thank You for Your presence in my life and for watching over Your word to perform it in my life. Thank You for delivering me from my destructions when I couldn’t deliver myself. For this little girl who has heard a few too many empty promises, would You show up strong in her life? Help her to know that You never break Your promise and that she can depend on that. I ask in Your name and because of Your saving grace. Amen.

The Suffering of Christ

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Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ,

if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Romans 8:17

In many readings I’ve read and in discussions I have had with people, the subject of Christ’s suffering comes up. It is used to counter the belief that it is God’s will to heal all. I’ve heard people say that we are called to suffer with Christ and that the disease or ailment they have is the way they join with Christ in His suffering. These are sincere people who want God’s will in their lives but they see their suffering as something God called them to do.

I have a hard time with that. I believe we will suffer as Christ suffered if we are living as Christ lived; if we are disturbing our world the way He disturbed His. When I read through the New Testament though I don’t see Jesus suffering arthritis or chronic pain or allergies or cancer. Jesus suffered persecution, mocking, rejection, scorn and crucifixion. While many Christians around the world, may indeed suffer those things and we might also, our suffering diseases is not joining with Christ’s sufferings. I don’t see physical suffering as having a place in the kingdom of God, in heaven or in Jesus’ life. If suffering through a disease or chronic pain is something God wanted for us, then why did Jesus heal anyone?  And then say He was only doing what God told Him to do? And further tell us that if we have seen Jesus, we have seen our Father God? Why say and do any of that if it’s His will that we suffer with diseases and afflictions?

Can we honor God through our suffering a disease? Of course. Can He use our suffering for our good and His glory? Yes. But is that the same as suffering with Christ or for the sake of Christ? I don’t believe so. I am willing to enter into the sufferings Christ suffered, as God graces me to do so. I would love to rock my world the way Jesus rocked His and if I did, I could expect suffering and trust that God would see me through that. But I don’t believe that suffering would include physical afflictions.  And while I pray that God would use this suffering from arthritis and chronic pain for my good and His glory, I would not turn down healing. I believe I could do more for the kingdom of God if I were physically free from these pains.

Jesus, You showed us the compassion of our Father when You touched the infirmed and diseased and brought healing. You showed His heart of love when You healed the many and the all. Your word tells us You are the same, today, yesterday and forever. I believe it is Your will that I be free of this pain and I thank You for that. When I do experience suffering for Your sake, help me to remain faithful through it all, the way You did for me. I ask in Your glorious name. Amen.

You Dirty Worm!

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Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.

Proverbs 18:21

Some kids at work were playing the other day. I don’t know what the game was but a little girl was pretending to be very, very sick. She was laying on the floor, curled up in a ball and the “doctors” were deciding what was wrong. They were saying things that sounded like death to me, things like “I don’t think she’s gonna make it” and “We’d better call an ambulance”.  I came over and suggested that maybe they could speak words of life over her – you know, speak words that would help her heal, not words that would help her get worse.

So the “doctor” says, “Get up you filthy worm and walk or I’m gonna kick you!”

Not the exactly the words of life I had in mind.  We all laughed, the “worm” got up and the “doctor” pronounced her healed. So I suppose there is a happy ending there, after all.

It reminds me, though, of words spoken by many of the Word of Faith movement when someone doesn’t receive their healing. Words like, “well you just don’t have enough faith” or “there must be some sin in your life”. I know several people who have been hurt by words like that. In all honesty, I withdrew from people when my healing didn’t come because I was afraid someone would say those words to me and I was hurting enough without them. Sometimes, they were probably spoken in good faith, with good intentions but the message comes through as condemnation and blame, no matter how nicely they may be spoken. Those words are translated as “it’s my fault I didn’t get healed”.

I am far from settling all divine healing questions in my own life, but I think there is more to the story than this.  When Jesus healed the many, or the all, don’t you suppose there were some there who had little faith and some who probably had sin in their life?  I’m not saying these can’t be reasons some don’t get healed, but wow, could we be led by the Holy Spirit on this one and not just offer pat answers because it is what we have been taught? Or because we don’t know other reasons.

What if, instead of kicking the worm and heaping condemnation and blame on people, we minister grace and mercy and words of life? The kids didn’t get that when I tried to explain it but we are all adults here, we can get it, can’t we?

Lord, I have been afraid to have anyone speak those words to me; I can blame myself and get under condemnation without any help from anyone, but I know others who have been hurt by those words. Would You heal them? Would You bring comfort to them and whisper Your love and acceptance to them? Help us all to remember that when we are hurting or withdrawn or sick that You haven’t forgotten us nor left us alone and help us to be ministers of grace and mercy and life. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

Not This Mountain- Again?!

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When Pharoah let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter.

For God said, ‘If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt’

Exodus 13:17

I have been told it could have been a 10 day journey at the most, leaving Egypt and heading to the Promised Land.  But it ended up taking 40 years. The only reason I can see is that their thinking had to change and it took a very long time for that to happen. They had to have time to learn God’s ways and to learn to trust in His word.  God knew that taking them too quickly through the wilderness would only cause great fear and perhaps they would retreat when they encountered opposition.

I wonder how many of the 14 years I have been in pain were only because I couldn’t get my thinking to line up with God’s. Would this journey have been reduced to something measured in days or months instead of years?

When I was 19, I was diagnosed with arthritis. Not knowing any better, I accepted that diagnosis and didn’t spend time expecting it to go away. Even after becoming a Christian and learning about divine healing and having received some miraculous healings in my life, I still didn’t address the arthritis as something that had no place in my life. It was so much a part of my life and I just thought I would live with it as I had always done. Kind of a captive mentality.  I see it differently now.

The purpose of leading the Israelites out of Egypt wasn’t just to get them out, it was to get them in. In to all the promises God had laid out for them, hence, the Promised Land. It isn’t enough to leave a captive situation we must also learn to walk in the freedom, all the freedom God has for us. Freedom His Son, Jesus paid for.  Arthritis is a form of captivity, one God never intended for me to live in, but to come out of that captivity, I have to have a new mindset about it. I have to see the promises of God as they pertain to disease and joint deterioration and such. I have to reject that diagnosis given me so many years ago and embrace a new diagnosis – one given by God, that Jesus paid it all, took it all, and arthritis is among the all that I have been freed from.

Father God, I am ashamed of how long I have just accepted this captivity. I have wandered in the wilderness for so long, not realizing that it may very well be my mindset keeping me there. How I long to enter Your Promised Land, to be set free from the pain and limitations of arthritis. Help me to line my thinking up with Yours and to speak words that line up with Yours, help my unbelief and help me to inherit the promises You have provided for me. I ask in Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Girdled Tree

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I have never had to have a tree removed; I don’t need to, I have a puppy who has destroyed three already.  They were young and she was young and I hoped they would outgrow her but that wasn’t the case.  It was pretty easy to determine that the tree was dead. The leaves were gone and the branches chewed off. I have heard though of a method for killing off invasive or unwanted trees called girdling.  Girdling is done by stripping off a band of bark from the tree. This removes the part of the tree that transports sugars necessary for growth basically stopping its food supply. The tree dies over a period of time. It won’t, however, look dead for all of  this time frame. There will be evidence of life for a while. But because it has been girdled, it is easy to picture the tree as dead in spite of evidence to the contrary. It time, the evidence of death will be obvious.  Sighted evidence will line up with faith that the tree is indeed dead.

Believing I am healed in the midst of evidence to the contrary is much like watching that tree only in reverse.  It requires that I look beyond the evidence.  I have to look at what is not seen. What I can see with my eyes is not the whole story. I have to see with eyes of faith. See my knees bending properly, see my neck and shoulders moving freely, see my hands and fingers functioning unhindered.  I have to see life where there seems to be death. One day, sighted evidence will line up with faith that I am healed, if I keep believing.

F.F. Bosworth writes, “The process of faith which brings the healing is a far greater blessing than the healing itself.

…When we have learned the process of faith for receiving healing,

we have learned how to receive everything else God promises us in His word”.

I believe he is right. Putting our faith in God’s promises is not manipulating God, it is trusting God. It is taking Him at His word and not letting go until we see the manifestation of what we are believing for take place.  Can you see what you are believing for in the midst of evidence that says forget it? Can you continue to see past the evidence to the trustworthy promises of God?

Too many times, I have a hard time seeing beyond the evidence. I can count the years I have waited and hoped and prayed and still not seen the healing and I consider giving up. Forgive me, for placing more faith in evidence than I do in Your word. You purchased my healing, You prophesized my healing, You promised my healing, You provided for my healing, what tremendous love is that? Thank You for caring so much about me and doing so much for me. When I am tempted to look for evidence, would You nudge me back to Your word? I ask in Your trustworthy name Jesus. Amen.

Picture credit: wikipedia

 

Qualified

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…giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. 

For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 

 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 

Colossians 1:12-14

My son, who is homeschooled, is in ninth grade and the curriculum we chose this year has a built-in grading system. The kind most of us grew up with A,B,C,D,F. This is his first encounter with grades. I never used them because I have such an aversion to them. The first time he got a grade lower than an A, he was devastated. More than once when he got a “bad” grade, he would tear up, push away from the computer and leave the room. It took a lot for me to not trash the curriculum. Instead, I helped him over a period of weeks to recognize grades for what they are – a method designed to help us understand where he needs to develop more mastery of a subject and what grades are not – an assessment of his value or worth.

Grades are part of our lives for good or for bad. Even into adulthood, long after schooling is done, grades enter our lives.  I recently had my evaluation done at work. It felt a lot like being graded. And it was. The evaluation is done only to show me where I need to improve and what I am doing that meets expectations. Knowing this though doesn’t change the barbs that enter my brain for a lower mark. Grades and evaluations are also used to evaluate our qualifications to move on or move upward. I got a raise because of my evaluation. People get qualified for college scholarships for good grades.  This is how things work in our kingdom.

The problems come when grades and evaluations become something we internalize and allow to eat away at our sense of self worth or when they become a source of pride and cause us to puff up.

In the kingdom of God, however, things work differently. I am qualified to receive my inheritance (which includes healing) simply because Jesus made the grade, passed the evaluation on my behalf. I am qualified because He qualified me. When I tend to qualify myself based on my assessment of myself, I recognize quickly that I don’t make the grade and feel disqualified to ask for healing or anything else for that matter. Implied in the ability to disqualify myself though is the reciprocal of that thought – that there is something I can do to qualify myself for His blessings. And that is just plain wrong. I can’t do anything to qualify myself nor can I do anything to disqualify myself except to believe in the qualifying sacrifice Jesus made for me. Then I can boldly come to God and ask for and receive my inheritance.

Jesus, thank You for rescuing me from the domain of darkness and transferring me to Your kingdom where there is redemption and forgiveness for my sins. Thank You that qualifying to be in Your kingdom isn’t based on my ability to perform satisfactorily. Thank You for my healing and for allowing me to share in Your inheritance with You and all those that call upon Your name. When I am tempted to disqualify myself, would You please remind me that You’ve got that covered. I ask in Your name. Amen

picture credit:  amandastaysatchurch.com