Evening News

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I’m overwhelmed with sorrow!     

sunk in a swamp of despair!

I’m like someone who goes to the garden to pick cabbages and carrots and corn

 and returns empty-handed,    

 finds nothing for soup or sandwich or salad.

There’s not a decent person in sight.     

Right-living humans are extinct.

They’re all out for one another’s blood,    

 animals preying on each other.

They’ve all become experts in evil.     

Corrupt leaders demand bribes.

The powerful rich make sure they get what they want. 

The best and brightest are thistles.     

The top of the line is crabgrass.

But no longer: It’s exam time.     

Look at them slinking away in disgrace!

Don’t trust your neighbor, don’t confide in your friend.

Watch your words, even with your spouse.

Neighborhoods and families are falling to pieces.     

The closer they are—sons, daughters, in-laws—

The worse they can be.     

Your own family is the enemy.

But me, I’m not giving up.     

I’m sticking around to see what God will do.

I’m waiting for God to make things right.    

 I’m counting on God to listen to me.

Micah 7:7-8

Although this was written hundreds of years before Jesus was born, it reads like today’s news. When I first moved to Vancouver from Montana, I was struck by the news at night. One channel from Portland had an hour program and the first 30-40 minutes were devoted to listing the robberies, rapes, murders, etc. They would tell what neighborhoods the crimes happened in and being new to the area,  I would wonder if that was anywhere near me.  My husband was still in Montana and I was here with our son for several months before Bruce could join us. These news stories put fear in me. So I just stopped watching. If the world was falling apart all around me, I’d just as soon not know about it. Have I mentioned before that I am quite fond of denial?

I can’t keep myself from seeing and hearing about the evil things taking place in our world. I am surrounded by it and it is my duty, I think as a Christian, to be light in that darkness. I can’t do that if I pull the covers over my head and think it isn’t happening.

Whatever the events that are bringing fear into your life, into my life, God isn’t ignoring them or us. He hasn’t pulled the covers over His head and chosen to live in denial.  He will make things right, in His time.

There is a “but” in this verse; a turning point in the prophet’s news report. He claims he is not giving up, he is going to stick around to see what God will do.  That strikes me as a good plan. Wait and see the deliverance God will bring. We don’t have to live in fear, no matter the news, no matter the diagnosis, no matter the destruction that is around us. Our God hears our prayers and we can count on that.

Heavenly Father, the news is often scary, the diagnosis is overwhelming and fear rises in me at times. I know I don’t need to fear, but sometimes, I forget that. Would You remind me to fear not? Would You help me to wait in faith to see what only You can do? I ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

pic credit: informativostv.com

 

 

The Other Side of Addiction

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The Lord will accomplish what concerns me;
Your lovingkindness, O Lord, is everlasting;
Do not forsake the works of Your hands.

Psalm 138:8

I have loved a number of addicts in my lifetime, including myself. I’ve seen pain drive them and me to kill the pain by any means possible. I am free from those addictions, praise God, but currently, I am watching a loved one spiral back into an addiction he was once free of. I know from past experiences and 12 Step Programs that there is only so much I can do and much I need to not do. I found these 10 Things to Stop Doing If You Love an Alcoholic on About.com. They serve as a good reminder to me and so I am printing them here:

STOP:

1. Blaming Yourself

2. Taking It Personally

3. Trying to Control It

4. Trying to Cure It

5. Covering It Up

6. Accepting Unacceptable Behavior

7. Having Unreasonable Expectations

8. Living in the Past

// 9. Enabling

10. Putting Off Getting Help

Someone else’s method of pain relief is causing a problem in my home and in my family so it is time to face it squarely and truly assess what is my role in this going to be. My first step, after recognizing the problem, is to turn it over to God. I trust that He will accomplish what concerns me, He will minister in this person’s life and bring healing and He will keep me in peace throughout this process.

I will practice forgiveness and grace and mercy and extend compassion but not allow myself to be trampled upon. I will find the support I need and take care of myself. I will welcome joy and laughter and embrace the good in the midst of the yuck.

I will repeat the Serenity prayer as many times a day as I need to.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;

courage to change the things I can;

 and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;

Enjoying one moment at a time;

Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;

Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it;

Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will;

That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next.

Amen.

Like the little engine that could, I can repeat “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can”. And like that little engine that could, I will make it to victory, as will my family.

Lord, You know the hurt and the pain that drives people to addiction. You are intimately acquainted with my loved ones pain and I pray Your healing touch upon him and Your grace and love to envelop him during this difficult time. Help me, please to practice what I know to do and leave the rest in Your hands. Help us as a family to draw closer together to You and to each other and help us to tear down any walls that have divided us from You and from each other, I ask in the mighty name of  Jesus. Amen.

 

 

It Ain’t Over

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But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God came into them,

and they stood on their feet; and great fear fell upon those who were watching them.

Revelation 11:11

 

This is referring to two witness that will prophesy for 1260 days and then they will be killed. Their bodies will lie in the main street of Jerusalem.  For three and a half days, people will come and stare at their bodies but no one will be allowed to bury them.  Then, as the verse above says, God will breathe life into them and they will stand on their feet.

Remember the expression, the opera ain’t over til the fat lady sings?  Wikipedia says, “It means that one should not presume to know the outcome of an event which is still in progress. More specifically, the phrase is used when a situation is (or appears to be) nearing its conclusion. It cautions against assuming that the current state of an event is irreversible and clearly determines how or when the event will end”.

Well, it isn’t over until God says it’s over. He will have the last say. Regardless of what it looks like right now, whatever the diagnosis, the symptoms, the seeming reality of your life, it isn’t the end of the story, not until God says.  These witnesses were dead for three days. Countless people saw them. But God. All He had to do was breath on them and they returned to life and stood on their feet.  No diagnosis I’ve gotten yet is as bad as being pronounced dead. But even if it were, God’s plans will prevail. God has the last word and I can look at the evidence surrounding me or I can look at Him. One leads to death and one leads to life. It’s up to me to decide which I am looking to.

I can’t presume to know the outcome of an event and neither can you. We can worry and speculate and plan and stress and none of that will change the outcome on iota. We can, however, leave it all in God’s hands, trust in His love, wait on His timing and leave the outcome to Him.  And we can have peace in that process, His peace.

I am so grateful Lord, that the outcome is in Your hands. For the people I know who are going through really difficult times, be their peace, touch them with Your lovingkindness and remind them that the outcome is in Your hands and that no matter how bad it looks right now, it isn’t over until You say it’s over.  Thank You for being the first word and the last word and our All Knowing God and our Great Physician. Where words of death have been spoken over these people, would You speak words of life?  I ask in Your merciful name, Jesus. Amen.

Zentangle Quilt

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In my distress I called upon the Lord,
And cried out to my God;
He heard my voice from His temple,
And my cry came before Him, even to His ears.

Psalm 18:6

 

Our Creative Arts Life group made this Zentangle “quilt” .  Each tile represents an answered prayer. Our list of answered prayers was longer than the 18 tiles here, but we ran out of time to make them. This was a very rewarding project for me personally. I am believing for my healing, I’ve mentioned that before and I am not healed, not yet. I’ll admit, sometimes, that effects my prayer life. I have even, at times, found myself thinking, why bother, does prayer matter? Working on this quilt was a great reminder of the many prayers He has answered, some just in the past few months since I started this blog. 

Answers like:

Salvation for a loved one.

A home for single foster mom.

A place to be a part of community for someone who was alone.

Peace in a troubled situation.

Hope for a young boy with a terminal diagnosis.

Increased compassion for a hardened heart.

A new song for a young girl that was locked in grief.

Financial increase.

Provision for home repairs from mold damage.

God hears our prayers. Our voice makes it to His temple, even to His ears. True, the prayer requests keep coming to our prayer group’s attention and perhaps the requests at this point are more numerous than the answers. But the answers are coming. God responds to the cries of His people in His perfect timing. It isn’t easy to wait, I know this, but keeping track of the answers along the way served to build my faith that my prayers, your prayers, our prayers don’t fall on deaf ears. None is too small, none are too big and none escape the attention of our Father in heaven.  They don’t have to follow a formula, or be eloquent or even wordy. A simple “help” can suffice.

Thank You God, that You hear our prayers and respond to them. Thank You, for all the answered prayers in my family and in my church family. What an honor and a privilege to be able to come to You, to bring my needs and the needs of others to You and know that You are more than willing and more than able to come to our aid. For the women that made this quilt, would You use it to remind us that You answer prayers, would You use it to encourage us in our prayer life and would You open our eyes to see more and more of the answered prayers you send our way. I ask in the wonderful name of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

Picture credit: Creative Arts Life Group at Rhapsody Church

 

 

 

God of The Valleys

Then a man of God came and spoke to the king of Israel, and said, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Because the Syrians have said, “The Lord is God of the hills, but He is not God of the valleys,” therefore I will deliver all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the Lord.’”

I Kings 20:28

The Arameans were enemies of the Israelites and had just lost a battle with the them resulting in a great slaughter. The king of Aram believed that they lost because God was with the Israelites  in the mountains but perhaps not in the valleys and so they planned another attack the following year.  They planned to attack in the valley. So many Arameans filled the surrounding country that the Israelites were “like two little flocks of goats”. The plan didn’t work however, 100, 000 Aramean foot soldiers were killed in that battle and the 27,000 that fled were killed when a wall fell on them.  God delivered the Israelites just as He promised.

What is the enemy that has surrounded you? Pain, loss, disease, fear, financial pressures, uncertainty about the future, addiction? Our God is a mighty God, not just in the high places of our lives – the times when all is going well, when we are at the top of our game, but the God of the low points, the times when we feel surrounded  by a vast army and all alone. Sometimes, I’ll admit, when the pain is closing in on me and I can barely walk or breath because of it’s intensity, it becomes easy to think I am all alone, surrounded like so many little goats. But this verse tells me otherwise. There is no enemy greater than my God. No enemy that He can’t send fleeing. No moment when I am alone left to defend myself all by myself.

Even when the way goes through
    Death Valley,
I’m not afraid
    when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook
    makes me feel secure.

Psalm 23:4

What more can I say than what You have already said? You are with me, You walk by my side and You send the enemy of pain packing. Thank You for being my Shepherd and my Defender, my Comforter and my Healer and my Ever-Present Help in time of need. Thank You for the high places where vision is clear and victory assured. Thank You for being with me in the low places when pain is bigger than my vision and victory seems less assured. Forgive me for the times of doubting Your goodness. Love, Diane

 

picture credit: onebighappyhome.com

Unlimited Asking

The best way to be sure your prayer is answered… is to pray! 

God challenges you to do unlimited asking. 

To the one in need of salvation, He says, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37)

To the one in need of healing, He says, “I will come and heal him” (Matthew 8:7)

To the one tormented by fear or dogged by failure, He says,”Come unto me…and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28)

To the one who is slave to habit, He says, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36)

Are you expecting an answer?

If you expect the Lord to do wonderful things for you, He will.

Believe it, and you will find, as I have, that prayer is one of the most wonderful experiences ever known.

This excerpt on prayer was written by Oral Roberts in his book Oral Roberts Answers Questions About …PRAYER.

I love the expression “unlimited asking”. Prayer is not something that interrupts God’s day. It isn’t something that He grows tired of hearing. He beckons us to prayer to ask so that we might receive. I love that prayer is something we can all do and that Jesus responds to our prayers. Our words don’t have to be perfect, our posture doesn’t have to be a prescribed position. Prayer is really pretty simple – ask and believe. So the question becomes – are you in need? Did you pray? Did you keep on coming to Jesus, and keep on praying and keep on asking and keep on believing? I know I am guilty of praying earnestly for a time and then moving on. Then, of course, I wonder why I don’t see more answers to prayer than I do.

A friend of mine and I have purposed to get up a half hour early and pray each morning. We are believing that not only will God answer our prayers because He is a prayer answering God, but that He will also redeem that time and we won’t miss that half hour of sleep.  So far, so good. Finding time to pray is something that doesn’t happen unless we make it happen. Care to join us? You can even stay in your pajamas and in your bed, and He still hears, isn’t that good?

Lord, I come to You in need. In need of healing and rest and freedom from busyness. I love that You hear my prayers, that You solicit my prayers, that You respond to my prayers and act on my prayers. You are so merciful and gracious to me. Help me and my friend as we purpose to rise early to seek Your face. Would You meet with us and lead us to pray for what is on Your heart each morning. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of bringing Your kingdom to my corner of the world. Love You, Amen.

picture credit: aheartforthehome.com

Holistically Speaking

 

Holistic medicine is not new. Plato said, “The great error in the treatment of the human body is that physicians are ignorant of the whole. For the part can never be well unless the whole is well”.  Plato was a Greek philosopher and a scientist and his findings date back to several hundred years before Christ came.

According to Quaker theologian Richard Foster, “ancient Hebrews saw persons as a unity, and they found it unthinkable to minister to the body without ministering to the spirit and vice versa”. This I found in Dr. Reginald Cherry’s book Healing Prayer.

I find this fascinating. I remember when doctors looked at you oddly if you mentioned prayer and got real nervous if you thought your physical and emotional symptoms could be connected. I remember being dismissed and regarded as odd. Things have changed, thankfully and it is possible to find doctors who know the wisdom in treating the whole person.

It wasn’t always this way, physicians long ago knew the value of holistic treatment. When  Jesus walked on the earth and ministered healing to the people, they would have understood the concept of holistic healing. They would understand that Jesus isn’t just talking about just spiritual healing when the word “sozo” was used for the word salvation. He was  a holistic healer healing people who were accustomed to being treated holistically. The word sozo is translated saved (Mark 16:16) but also used as healed when the demon possessed man was set free (Luke 8 :36) and whole when the lepers were healed (Luke 17:19).

We are coming back to this place in our society of recognizing the importance of holistic healing but I wonder if we are arriving there in the church. When we hear the word salvation does it quickly make us think of physical healing, deliverance, and wholeness or do we only think of spiritual rebirth? Jesus didn’t separate them in His ministry but somewhere along the way, we, the church did and how many people have not been healed simply because they didn’t know it was God’s will to heal their body and their mind and their heart and deliver them from all forms of bondage?  Jesus touched every part of brokenness in the people He ministered to and He probably wouldn’t have been considered a good healer by that culture had He only looked at one aspect of their brokenness. I suspect that part of what drew the thousands was the belief that He was a great healer and they would leave His presence changed. Do we believe that?

Lord, when I think of all that Your salvation includes I am humbled and blessed and overwhelmed. Forgive me I pray, for any and all times I have limited the Limitless One of Israel by thinking that physical healing was a lesser agenda and not a part of the whole. Thank You for revealing our Father’s will in all that You did when You walked among the people. Walk among us today, touch us today like You did then, bring Your healing to broken people, help us to see Your salvation as the holistic treatment You paid for it to be. And when people are healed and delivered and set right, may You get the glory and the honor. In Your saving name, I ask. Amen.

 

My “Creative” Child

Recently I joined a Creative Arts Worship group.  I’m not sure now why I did, I had no idea what to expect but I like the idea of painting and drawing and writing.  I probably like the idea of those things more than actually doing them.   I thought the group might help me be more creative or more disciplined to create.

During our first meeting, I heard a couple of women comment that they hadn’t written or painted or drawn anything in quite some time.  Life is busy and, somehow, allowing time for creativity just doesn’t happen.  We just simply don’t make time for it; there are too many other priorities.

It made me think of my son John, who is fourteen.  John is a gifted musician.  I don’t just say that because he is my son, others say it as well.  The problem is, he doesn’t see himself that way.  He hasn’t picked up his guitar in months.  His gift just lies dormant and, as a parent, that grieves me.

Maybe though, I am guilty of the same.  What have I done with the gifts God has given me except make excuses and put off developing them for a more opportune time or belittle my ability until I talk myself right out of even trying.  I imagine that must grieve my Father God.

The Bible tells me I have been created in the image of a creative God. Creativity is in my DNA, whether I recognize it or not.  Creativity is a part of who I am as His child even if it isn’t valued by myself or others like He values it.

I can still hear my mother introduce me as her “creative” child.  I can hear the tone of voice she used and the implication wasn’t lost on me then.  Or now.  It wasn’t approval.  I can still hear my ex-husband’s voice asking, “don’t you think people are sick of getting your homemade gifts?”.  I can still hear the tone of voice he used and the implication wasn’t lost on me then.  Or now.  It wasn’t approval either.

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Creativity became limited to only those things that had some practical value – sewing clothes, or curtains, or cooking until little by little, creating for the sake of creating just kind of fell by the wayside.  I began to believe that the resources – time, money, energy- expended on creating something weren’t worth the final outcome and therefore, just a waste of resources in the end.

At the Creative Arts Worship group, listening to  others voice their thoughts on creativity postponed, I was reminded of what God said to Job in response to Job’s questioning God.

He said, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the world! 

When the morning stars sang together. 

All the sons of God shouted for joy”.

I can almost hear the celebration; the songs the morning stars sang over creation. 

Joy filled the heavens. 

Color sprang up everywhere. 

Life abounded and what did God say?

And God said it was good.

I can almost hear the tone of voice He used and the implication is not lost on me. 

It was approval.

Creating is valued in the Kingdom of God.

Creating is celebrated.

Creating is expressing me as only I can do.

If worship is defined as acknowledging God for who He is, couldn’t it be said that creating is a high form of worship.  It is at it’s core recognizing that the creativity in me is a reflection of who God is.

I realize now why I went to the Creative Arts Lifegroup.  I didn’t go so much to create but to be given the permission I needed to create.  Not so much because what I write or what I paint or draw or sculpt is of any tremendous value in the overall scheme of things.  But to not create is to deny a part of who I am and a part of who God is.  And I tend to think that that might just grieve my Father.

 

reprinted from my old blog  godhappenings.wordpress.com

Full Moon

God’s Message, from the God who lights up the day with sun and
    brightens the night with moon and stars,
Who whips the ocean into a billowy froth,
    whose name is God-of-the-Angel-Armies:

 “If this ordered cosmos ever fell to pieces,
    fell into chaos before me”—God’s Decree—
“Then and only then might Israel fall apart
    and disappear as a nation before me.”

Jeremiah 31:35-36

Last Friday night, there was full moon. We watched it rise, starting out huge and yellow as it made its way up the night sky, getting smaller and whiter in appearance. I was reminded of this verse. It tells me of God’s faithfulness to His people. If the moon rose in the wrong place, or the sun refused to set or the stars collided and fell, we would have cause to doubt God’s faithfulness. I haven’t seen that happen, have you?

If God can keep the “ordered cosmos” from falling to pieces, if He can keep the nation Israel from falling apart and disappearing as a nation, then surely He can keep His promises to me.  And to you.  How about these promises?

He gives power to the weak
and strength to the powerless.
Even youths will become weak and tired,
and young men will fall in exhaustion.
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:29-31

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord.“They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,

for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 

Matthew 11:28-29

As beautiful a sight as the full moon is, to me, what is more beautiful is the faithfulness of God it points to.  God has great and wonderful promises for us. Promises He stands behind and promises we can stand upon.  Need healing? Rest? Are you weary and burdened? Does your future look dim, are you weak and powerless?

His promises cover our weaknesses. We can trust in them and every time the moon rises and the sun sets at their appointed time, we can be reminded of His faithfulness to His word.

Your ordered cosmos is a beautiful sight to see and such a wonderful reminder that You stand by Your word and You hold all things in the palms of Your hands. I need the reminder of the full moon because sometimes, I forget that You are in control. How often do I try to take that control back? Forgive me, help me lay my burdens down and rest in the knowledge that You and only You can make something beautiful out of my life. Thank You for the good plans You have for my life. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

 

Exceedingly Afflicted -But Not For Long!

I am exceedingly afflicted;

Revive me, O Lord, according to Thy word.

Psalm 119:107

When this pain came on some four years ago and I realized that doctors couldn’t help me and tomorrow it wouldn’t just magically go away, I sank into a pit of despair.  I felt my life spiraling downward and inward until I couldn’t see anything but me and this pain.  I couldn’t see any way out and I couldn’t even talk about the pain. I simply couldn’t frame it in words.

I lost interest in a number of things that would benefit me, going to church, reading the Bible, praying. I would go to church, on occasion, out of force of habit and even, at times, respond to the altar call and go forward for prayer but when asked what I need prayer for all I could say was pain and break down crying. I don’t know which hurt worse – my body or my heart.

A woman I met blogging, suggested that I read through Psalms. Having no better idea, I did that.  At first, it was difficult, the words didn’t touch me at all, but after a while, I began to notice that the feelings I couldn’t put in words were beautifully written.  The pain, the sense of betrayal, the loss, the bewilderment all there.  Someone understood what I couldn’t share.  Someone had captured the feelings I couldn’t express and had laid them out for all to read. I also read of the hope and the peace and the joy that touched the writers’ lives at times and I could feel it touch mine.

And I was revived.

Not overnight, not even in a matter of days.

But I began spiraling upward and outward and began to see the expanse of light just beyond the darkness and I felt hope.

Hope. It’s such a sweet, sweet thing to feel hope when once there was none.

Sometimes, I think miracles are different than we expect them to be. I would have settled for physical healing but God knows there was a deeper work that needs to be done in my life.  There is pain that needs to be dug up, rooted out, looked at and let loose. Only God knows the revival that needs to take place in my life and reading through Psalms showed me that.  I am grateful.

I am truly grateful. Your word has revived me and I know it will continue to revive me. Thank You for the writers of the Psalms who so humbly wrote of their pain and their hope. I am humbled by Your revival in my life, that You would look upon me and see my hurt and touch my hurt in a way that can only be of You. Let Your word richly dwell in me, I pray, and bring about in my life all Your good purposes. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.