Taste and See

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Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

Psalm 34:8

Recently, in an effort to be more organized, I went through a large stack of cooking magazines.  I glanced at the recipes and, if they looked good to me, I tore out the pages and filed them in a recipe binder. I threw away more recipes than I collected but still I had more than I would probably ever make.

Recipes are good to have and fun to peruse but looking at them doesn’t tell the story.

The story comes in the tasting.

In order to taste them, I have to make them.

This means a trip to the grocery store and time to prepare the food.  Nothing overwhelming about that at all, but just saying, reading about a recipe and tasting the outcome are two different things.

This verse leads me to think that there is more to our relationship with God then simply reading the Bible, though that is a great beginning.  But if our relationship ends there, we have missed tasting and seeing that He is good.  At some point, we have to internalize what the Bible says. We need to meditate on His word, let it soak deep into our hearts and allow the words He wrote to replace the words others have written in our hearts about Him.

God gets a fair amount of bad press. If we based our opinion of God on what others say about Him, we might not decide He is all that good. He gets blamed for sickness and death, floods and famine.  Even fair minded individuals may say things like, “well God allowed me to be sick, allowed my child to die, allowed my finances to be in the toilet, etc… to teach me something.”

It becomes all to easy to think God is good – sometimes, maybe for some people.  But to believe He is good all the time, even when bad things happen, well, that’s often difficult. Years of tasting God through His word, through His faithfulness, through His continual presence in my life (even when I don’t sense His presence) have helped me to see that He is indeed good.  I didn’t come to that conclusion after one pass through the Bible; I came by it the hard way, through years of seeking and searching and dare I say, tasting.

I don’t always get my prayers answered the way I think they should be. I was in constant physical pain for 22 years now and believed for my healing all that time and I, will be honest, often wondered if God is really good. If He was really good, why was I still in pain?

But the more time I spend in His word and in fellowship with other believers, the more convinced I am that He is indeed, good whether I am healed or not. He has healed me of fibromyalgia but I am still waiting on healing from arthritis.  Why one and not the other I don’t know but this I do know – God is good all the time!

Forgive me Father, for the times when I have doubted Your goodness.  Forgive me for questioning Your goodness when my prayers did not get answered the way I wanted.  I know You are a good God and a gracious, loving Father. Thank You for not giving up on me and for not turning away from me.  Help me to come to You, to feed on Your word, to seek Your presence, Your peace and Your goodness, especially when I don’t feel like doing so.  Amen. 

 

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Salvation Coin

 

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Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said, “Why this gossipy whispering? Which do you think is simpler: to say, ‘I forgive your sins,’ or, ‘Get up and walk’?

Well, just so it’s clear that I’m the Son of Man and authorized to do either, or both. . . .”

At this he turned to the paraplegic and said, “Get up. Take your bed and go home.”

And the man did it.

The crowd was awestruck, amazed and pleased that God had authorized Jesus to work among them this way.

Matthew 9:5 – 13  MSG

This is Jesus speaking. The crowds had witnessed Him healing countless people of physical afflictions and delivering so many people of the demons that tormented them.

But this was new and they couldn’t get their minds around it.

Jesus the healer.  Yes.

Jesus the Son of Man who has authority to forgive sins?  No.

I have been in churches almost all my 62 years and I am convinced that many churches have reversed that.  I have heard churches offer the salvation message and seldom does that invitation include physical healing for our bodies.  Often times, even communion is offered with no reference to the body beaten for our healing represented by the bread at the communion table.  This is not a criticism, just an observation. I didn’t think too much of that until recently when God gave me this image.

Pretend that I have laid a silver dollar in your outstretched hand.

Would it make any difference if that coin were placed heads up or tails up?

Would it spend any differently?

Of course, we know the answer is no.

But, imagine for a moment God placing a coin in your hand.

A coin He referred to as a Salvation Coin.

On one side is engraved the word “Saved”.

 On the other side, “Healed” is written.

Would it matter which side of that coin landed face up?

Would it spend any differently?

Again, the answer is no.

It wouldn’t matter.

The word sozo translated in our New Testament means “to save, deliver, protect, heal, preserve, do well, and be made whole”  according to Strong’s Concordance.

Jesus showed us the Kingdom of God while He walked on this earth. That kingdom includes the salvation of our souls but it also provides for the healing of our bodies.

Different sides of the same coin.

I have heard it said many times, if you have the faith to believe your sins are forgiven, you have the faith to be healed.

Thank you Father, that your salvation is all inclusive.  Thank you for the love that sent Jesus to the cross on my behalf that I may be healed and saved and preserved and made whole.  In the times when I  don’t feel these provisions, help me to remember that the price has been paid, my salvation is a done deal. I receive by faith all that Jesus’ sacrifice purchased for me.  Praise Your holy name.  Amen. 

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Lottery Ticket

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The school where I work is holding their annual plastic drive. Families bring in plastic trash and the classroom with the highest weight of recyclable plastic wins.  The school in the district with the highest weight wins. Last year, our school won and the kids would like to win again.

I brought in a large bag (4 feet tall by 2 1/2 feet wide) stuffed with plastic.  All of the kids wanted to take that to their class but only one bag so, in an effort to be fair, we decided on lottery tickets. I put kid’s names on tickets and placed them in a bowl and drew out one lucky winner.  Kids that did not hear their name called were disappointed for themselves but happy for the winner.  Probably slightly more disappointed for themselves. These are elementary aged children! We, as adults, would never act that way! Right?

I recently shared with a friend that God had healed me of fibromyalgia.  He has been in pain for years and has had countless surgeries and still not completely healed. I hoped to encourage him to not give up on God.

All he said was, “lucky you”.

Then he added, “congratulations”.

I wanted to say this wasn’t a lottery. Healing doesn’t depend on luck. God promises that what He has done for one, He will do for all. He is no respecter of persons. But he had that closed off look people get when they don’t want to hear any more.

I understand giving up on God. My healing didn’t come after one prayer, or one time of being anointed with oil, or one week of confessing healing scriptures. This blog is testimony to the time I have spent waiting on a healing and the posts only cover four years. I lived with chronic pain for over 22 years and then one day, the pain was gone. I can’t explain that but I know luck deserves no credit whatsoever.

I remember all too well hearing testimonies of people being healed and feeling sad for myself because I wasn’t. I didn’t credit this to luck as much to thinking I had done something wrong. Didn’t have enough faith or something like that. Maybe I waivered in my faith too much or didn’t confess enough.

There was a tremendous amount of torment in waiting for a healing that didn’t seem to be coming. And so I gave up. I gave up blogging and searching for answers. I gave up confessing scriptures and seeking God for a healing.

I never gave up believing, however, that God is a healer and that healing is the children’s bread. I simply gave up letting that quest dominate my prayer life and my thinking.

And one day I realized I hadn’t taken any pain meds in quite a while.

I couldn’t remember the last time I couldn’t sleep because of pain.

The pain that had been a part of my life 24/7 was gone.

That’s not luck, that’s God!

Abba Father, thank You.  Thank You for touching my body and bringing the long awaited healing. I praise You for not forgetting about me or giving up on me or turning Your back on me.  For those who are waiting on a healing, Lord, I ask that You touch them in a palpable way, remind them of Your love and grace and mercy.  And please, let Your healing flow to them.  In Jesus’ name, amen.  

 

 

 

 

pic credit:  clipartfest

 

Detour Ahead

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For I believe God.

Acts 27:25

It should be easy: getting from point A to point B. It should be, but we all know it isn’t always so easy. Detours happen. Unannounced, undeserved, unplanned, unwarranted. It happened to Paul and the people on board the ship with him when they encountered a storm so terrible it “blotted out the sun and the stars, until at last all hope was gone”. The crew had been so worried that they hadn’t eaten in two weeks.

Ever been there? Ever had something come against you that left you so shaken that even food lost its appeal? When your stomach was so twisted in knots that you couldn’t have eaten even if you wanted? I have. I experienced that recently when my husband was diagnosed with cancer. Some days, it was easy to remember the promises of God and other days, well, not so easy. But always, I had that choice – believe God or believe the doctor’s reports. We all have that choice to make when, in our travels, we encounter a detour. It could be a storm, or cancer, or a horrible diagnosis, or the hurting words of a spouse or a parent, or the evidence of addiction, or the dwindling bank account. It could be undefined, unmanageable fear. Whatever the storm, God has your life in His hands. He didn’t orchestrate the storm for you, or because of you, but He is in control and brings His promises to our hearts in the right time, if we are listening.

Paul was listening and chose to believe God and he was able to encourage the others to believe as well. And God delivered them safely. As He will you and me and our loved ones. Can you believe that?

Father, I am ashamed at how much fear that word cancer could strike in my heart. If the word wasn’t enough there were the reports of the specialists, each one getting rougher and rougher to listen to. Each one making the detour longer and longer,   but I believe You. You have promised to be our Healer, our Helper, our Hope and I am hanging on to You and Your word through this detour. Help me to believe, help me to continually make the choice to hang on to You and Your word, I ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Facing the Fear

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…Fear not…

Genesis 15:1

When my loved one’s diagnosis came and the ramifications started setting in, I found myself wallowing in fear.  To my credit, I did bring to my remembrance scriptures that addressed fear such as “God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind” and “fear not”. How many times is fear not written in the Bible? Actually, I just looked that up and the answer is 365.  I guess God knew fear would be an issue for us. To my discredit, I have been anxious, losing sleep, overeating, tense and at just plain ol’ overwhelmed.

Then I remember who I am – a child of God and I began addressing the fear. While fear may be a natural, even expected reaction to a life-altering diagnosis, it is something God went to great lengths in His word to tell us that we don’t need to be afraid. From Genesis to Revelation, God tells His people to fear not. Some reasons given are:

He is with us.

He is for us

He wrote the book and He knows how it ends.

No weapon formed against us prospers.

He never leaves us.

He answers prayer.

He performs miracles.

He comforts His people.

He guides His people.

He loves us.

He has good plans for us.

He is our Great Physician.

His rod and His staff comfort us.

He leads us in paths of righteousness.

He didn’t give us fear, He gives power, love and a sound mind.

There are so many more reasons. Trials come and go, but the word of God stands forever. We will, by the grace of God, make it through this until the day healing is complete but wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could make it through without giving fear any place in our lives? This diagnosis did not surprise God; He knows exactly what is going on and He is well able and willing to see us through to health and wholeness.  I do not need to fear.

Lord Jesus, how well You know my inclination to allow fear to swallow me up at times. Thank You for Your exhortations throughout scriptures to fear not. Steady us as we go through this. Lead us in the path of healing that is right for us and give us courage, grace, wisdom and peace. I ask in Your mighty name, Amen.

Snow Day

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Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 

Psalm 51:7

I am homebound today for the third day in a row. Snow has closed schools and many business here in the Pacific Northwest.  The snow has covered everything, blanketing the good, the bad and the ugly in white. Clean and vibrant white. It is beautiful. I lived in Montana for 25 winters and took snow like this for granted or at times, wished it away.  I remember a scene, though, that stands out in my mind.

Our neighbor had several acres of land and he was fond of vehicles. Broken, rusted, old, new vehicles (trucks, cars, farm equipment) and just pieces of vehicles. Actually, I don’t know that he was fond of them, only that he collected them. His yard and pasture were a veritable junkyard. We didn’t have neighborhood associations then (probably still don’t in that part of Montana) so his treasures could accumulate to his heart’s desire.  Ugly is an understatement and I passed it every time I went to town, took kids to school or came home – there it was in plain sight –  the neighborhood junkyard. Until it snowed.

Snow transformed the junkyard into a glistening, sparkling exquisite collection of sculptures. I would be in awe of the transformation as I drove by. I was surrounded by beautiful snow-covered nature scenes – mountains, trees, and creeks, but this scene seemed the most remarkable simply because of the transformation. Mountains are always beautiful as are trees and creeks, but a junkyard, well, not so much. Until the snow made it a work of art.

I imagine my heart something like this junkyard before I accepted God’s freely offered forgiveness for my sins.  A collection of junk that could only be described as ugly. A collection I would rather no one saw, including me. After accepting His forgiveness, I see my heart more like the snow-covered sculpture I marveled at in Montana. What a transformation!  How awesome to think that my sins have been forgiven, I have been cleansed and now my heart is whiter than snow. Not because I am sinless, but because my sins have been wiped clean. I have a clean and vibrant white slate for a heart and much like the junkyard that was transformed into a thing of beauty, God transformed my heart into a work of art He could gaze upon. He doesn’t have to turn away from seeing my heart because He freely cleansed it for me. He washed it whiter than snow!

What an amazing gift forgiveness is, so totally undeserved. I am so grateful that You saw my ugly, junkyard condition and chose to free me from it. Not just by covering it with snow, but by cleansing me and wiping away my sin from before Your eyes. I need that washing daily. Thank You for forgiving me, for loving me in spite of my sins and wanting to gaze upon me with love and acceptance. Thank You for the blanket of snow You keep me covered in.  Amen.

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The Puppy and the Peanut Butter

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“Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe.”   
     Voltaire

As I write this, our Goldendoodle puppy Sadie is persistently attempting to clean the insides of an empty peanut butter jar. She has the top part really clean but hasn’t figured out how to get her face and tongue far enough down to clean the bottom.  She has been working on this for over half an hour! She has gotten the label all the way off and has bent back the edges of the plastic jar enough to get her face further down, but there is still peanut butter to be had.  Watching her determination is funny and heartwarming and sometimes, makes me think that maybe she isn’t all that smart.  Or maybe she’s smart enough to know that persistence pays off. Even if to others it looks like a lost cause.

I think that sometimes of my pursuit of healing. Why not just give up and accept that this is what it is and move one?  I would bet that to others that my determination may at times seems odd and, at times, may seem heartwarming, and maybe at other times, it just seems like, well, maybe she just isn’t all that smart. To me, though, there is something bigger at stake than getting the last bite of peanut butter. My healing, your healing is worth pursuing. It has been paid for and the price was high: Jesus taking all our diseases on the cross with Him to put an end to their destruction in our lives.

God made it clear in scriptures that Jesus came to do the will of God and Jesus went about healing all. ALL.  I am sure that sometimes, these people who came were to Jesus looking for healing were viewed as odd. I mean, who tears a hole in a roof to let someone down into the house on a pallet? That’s major league cutting in line, not to mention just plain odd. But they persisted and the man was healed. If I had been willing to say enough is enough and move on when we were believing for our son John, I am not so sure he’d be here today. I can’t help but wonder what other miracles I have missed because I was unwilling to persist to the end.  I don’t want to quit believing for my healing any more than Sadie wants to give up on that last bit of peanut butter, regardless of how it looks to others (and myself at times).

Jesus, You know the struggles I have had with faith, how it waxes and wanes, how some days faith comes easy and others, not so easy. Help me to be steady, to be persistent to the end when I see this promise of Yours manifested in my life. I’m not resting in my ability to believe, but resting in the faithfulness of Your love, Your character and Your word.  Thank You for bringing our promised son, John into our lives when it seemed impossible, and thank You for this healing You bring into my life even when, at times, it seems impossible. Forever Your humble follower, I thank You. Amen.

Outcast … Again

To the outcast
On her knees,
You were the God
Who really sees.
And by Your might,
You set Your children free.

These lyrics are from Amy Grant’s song El Shaddai. The speak to what is on my heart today for a young girl I worked with. I have written of her – she’s the 10 year old who was raped by her mom’s boyfriend and then taken from her home and put in foster care. She’s the one who would sit for 2 or more hours and cry silent tears because of the pain. I say worked with because last Friday, she was removed from the foster home she lived in and will no longer come to our program. I don’t know where she is now or if I will see her again this side of heaven. This, by the way, was the 7th foster home she was in since September.

I asked our prayer group at church to pray for her and they did. Our pastor brought up the story of Hagar who was an outcast. She was banished from her home and was in the wilderness when the Lord showed up and spoke to her. Far from home, far from anything familiar, far from having any where to go or any place to return to and far, far, far from hope. And yet, God saw her.

She was returned to her home and the ending of her life was far better than the beginning because God saw and acted on her behalf. We prayed that the same God that saw Hagar would see this little girl who has also been banished from her home, far from anything familiar and far from hope.

It is so easy to believe when we are hurting that God is distant, that He doesn’t know or perhaps He knows but doesn’t care or is too busy. This story tells us otherwise. God sought out Hagar and found her at her lowest point and raised her to a new place in Him.

Whatever the situation,

whatever the loss,

whatever the diagnosis,

whatever the change of circumstances that has left you feeling alone or abandoned,

know that God sees,

He is the God who really sees.

Jesus, thank You for the short time I had to spend with this young girl, she will be forever in my heart as I know she is in Yours. Show up big in her life, please, help her to know that You really see, that You haven’t abandoned her or turned a deaf ear. Would you hold her and love on her and put someone in her life who will listen and comfort her and love her? And would you make the ending of her life be greater than the beginning? I ask in the name of the God who really sees. Amen.

pic credit:  karlmarxhausen.net

The Ugly “P” Word!

Recently at work, during our read aloud time, I read Diary of a Wimpy Kid – The Ugly Truth  by Jeff Kinney to a group of elementary children.  The story is about a boy named Greg who is in middle school and having to go through the classes on puberty.  His mother adds to his embarrassment by giving him a book to read about puberty.  The kids loved the book but every time I read the word puberty, they would wrinkle up their faces and say yuck!  We started calling it the ugly “P” word.  It became our private joke.

patienceIt reminded me of times when I had issues with another ugly “P” word – patience.  UGH!  I would have to say patience was not a strong suit of mine when I first started on this journey with Jesus.  I’m not saying it is a strong suit now, but I don’t cringe at the word and want to run from it like I used to.

While waiting on God’s promise of healing to manifest in my life I have encountered moments (many) where patience needs to do its perfect work.  I want to be healed right now or yesterday or three years ago, but here I am – waiting and learning more about patience and how hard it is.  What about you?  Are you being taught patience through something you are going through right now?  Does it feel like patience is an ugly “P” word?

One of the most difficult aspects of waiting, I think, is to continue believing for the promise to be fulfilled.  In my case, that is healing, it may be different in yours.  Waiting stinks.  Romans 1:17 says the just shall live by his faith.  So if I am to live by faith, then giving up isn’t an option.  Building my faith is, however, and I can do that by looking at the character of Jesus and His words and determining that regardless of how long it takes for this promise to be fulfilled in my life, God is faithfully working behind the scenes to bring it to pass.

The process of waiting and building and rebuilding our faith has a purpose and that is to prepare us for the promises of God to come to pass in our lives.

What to do while waiting?  Practice gratitude, read Psalms, enjoy a sunset, read a good book, play a game with a friend, watch your favorite TV show, take a friend to lunch, etc.  Find ways to make waiting less of a chore and more of a relaxed way of life.  Practice savoring the moment, one moment at a time.  Fight against discouragement.  Speak words of life over yourself and others and keep your eyes on Jesus – the Author and the Finisher of your faith, of my faith.

Father in heaven, like the song says, I want to know that redemption wins. I want to know the struggle ends.  And I would like to see that NOW.  Forgive me for my impatience and as I look to You will You perfect my faith?  I know that Your plans and purposes for my life are perfected in Your ways and in Your times but patience doesn’t come easy to me.  Help me find ways to wait patiently with grace and trust and joy.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.


Kingdom Benefits

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Let all that I am praise the Lord;
with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
Let all that I am praise the Lord;
may I never forget the good things he does for me.
He forgives all my sins
and heals all my diseases.
He redeems me from death
and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
He fills my life with good things.
My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!

Psalm 103:1-5 NLT

In this Psalm, David commands his soul (his mind, his will and his emotions) to line up with his spirit and bless the Lord. To bless the Lord is to adore and thank Him for all His benefits. To recognize His rightful place as Lord over all, including me and every aspect of my life. It is to gratefully acknowledge Him for who He is and receive all that He has provided for me and chosen to bestow upon me. It’s a way of saying “YES” and “AMEN” to the promises of God.

What are His benefits? Just in these verses we see that His benefits include forgiving me of my sins, healing me of my diseases, redeeming me from death, crowning me with love and tender mercies, filling my life with good things and renewing my youth like the eagle’s. Wow! Where else can you get benefits like that?

That list of benefits is huge and it seems like blessing God isn’t something I should have to command my mind, will and emotions to do. But, often, I forget. I forget the benefits; I forget how awesome it is to have Him as Lord over my life. Sometimes, can I just say this, sometimes, I forget to even think about Him, much less bless Him. Ugh! There I’ve said it. I’m not proud of that. Like David, sometimes, I have to command my mind to bless God; I have to put a halt to self-regarding thoughts and purposefully think on God-blessing thoughts. Sometimes I have to command my emotions to line up with the word of God and not be swayed to and fro because of symptoms and sometimes I have to command my will to line up with His because, quite frankly, I like to have things my way. A lot.

Amazing God, how wonderful You are to us.  How gracious and giving. Thank You for all the benefits You so freely offer.  Enlarge my capacity to receive, I pray, enlarge my faith and enlarge my sphere of influence so that I can share You with others.  May Your will be done in my life.  Bless You Lord. Amen.