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. 

 

pic credit:  abelappleacres.com

System Of Inequality and Divine Healing?!

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 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.

3 John 2:2

I have been in hot pursuit of divine healing for upwards of twenty years. Healing is promised in the Bible and numerous verses can attest to that fact. I have read them and memorized them and confessed them and put my trust in them and still I am not healed. My pursuit continues.

I read this verse a while back. No doubt familiar to those in search of divine healing  – every book on the subject I have read has included it. But this day, I saw the promise differently.

Instead of seeing it as an iron clad promise of healing, I saw it as an algebraic equation. Weird, right? It struck me as a system of inequalities. On one side of the equation are the variables of prospering and being in good health. On the other side would be the variable of our soul which is our mind, our will and our emotions. Three variables on one side and two on the other.

The question becomes what symbol is between the two sides. Is it an equal sign or not equal, greater than, less than?

My desire to be free of physical pain has so occupied my quest for divine healing that I never even considered the other variables that combine to make my health, holistically speaking.

I simply didn’t care so much about the others; I wanted to live free of physical pain. But God, in His wisdom, knows how much I need all of these variables to be healed if I am going to live the life abundant that has been promised. He is a holistic healer.

I have had to relinquish my ideas about how my healing would manifest and give God permission to heal other areas of my life, even if that means I continue to live with chronic pain while He balances out the equation.

What about you? Are you in need of healing?  I would love to pray for you and join my faith with yours for your healing.

If you have a testimony of how God has healed you, I would love to share it here with others who need encouragement.  

pic credit: pinterest.com

Sorry, Not Today

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You know that God anointed Jesus from Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power.

Jesus went everywhere and did good things, such as healing everyone who was under the devil’s power.

Jesus did these things because God was with him.

Acts 10:38

I’ve looked. I can’t find it. Nowhere in the Bible, to my knowledge, does Jesus tell someone, “sorry, not today”. Nowhere do I see Him turning away someone who needed healing and saying sorry, I can’t help you, today. What I do read is that He went everywhere healing and doing good things and setting people free from bondages and chains, setting right what had become so horribly wrong.

What has gone horribly wrong in your life? A relationship, finances, a child, a diagnosis, a dream, a hope? Jesus is the same, yesterday, today and forever. The same Jesus that went about doing good and freeing people is still doing those same good works today.

What are the chains and bondages that hold you down? Addiction, fear, anxiety?  Jesus, the same, Jesus the Healer, Jesus the one who set captives free because God was with Him, is still moving among people, breaking off addictions, fear, anxiety. God is still with Him, still healing, still delivering His precious children from all forms of bondage. Could a loving Father do any less?

Can you imagine for a moment that you held the power to make everything right in your child’s life? That child that rebelled, returned home in safety. The child born with a disability, healed. The child that seems to be rejected by peers and bullied made to know his value and worth. The fatherless child embraced by a Father who will never leave, never forsake, never forget. Would you withhold healing to your child? Would you say, sorry, not today? No, you wouldn’t and neither would our Father in heaven withhold what is good from His precious children. He gave us Jesus, His precious son to bear our sins, our infirmities, our diseases, our lack so that we could live a life free of them. He is the same Father that went with Jesus doing good and healing everyone.

Father God, how it must grieve Your heart to see Your children suffer, to see them live in bondages and see fear run rampant in their lives. I hurt for the kids whose lives have been torn apart by the wrongs done to them and I can’t even begin to love them as You do. Help me to be an instrument of Your healing, Your deliverance, Your love to a broken child, no matter how old that child may be.  We will never be too old to be Your child, will we? Thank You, that in Your economy, sorry, not today isn’t even an option.  Thank You Father. Thank You Jesus. Amen.

picture credit: myartprints.com

Could Not Have Been Made Better

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“God sat down for a moment when the dog was finished in order to watch it…

and to know that it was good…

that nothing was lacking…

that it could not have been made better”

R.M. Rilke

His name was Houdini because he could escape anything I put him in. He was one out of a litter of  9 Standard Poodles I had some years ago. I donated him as a puppy to Summit Assistance Dogs to be trained and used as a therapy dog and I was given a clay wall hanging with those words written on them as a thank you.

The accolades given dogs amaze me. I am a dog breeder and love them but I don’t think they walk on water, in fact, I’m pretty sure they don’t. They are wonderful, and perhaps those of us who adore dogs would readily agree with those words written about them,  but I wonder if we changed the words above to read like this how many of us would still agree with it.

God sat down for a moment when you were finished, when I was finished, in order to watch us…

and to know that we were good…

that nothing was lacking…

that we could not have been made better

I can almost hear a collective groan. I know I’m groaning. I groan because I think I could have been made better. I groan just thinking about the number of times I have envied some feature someone else was born with and lamented that I was not or vice versa.  Because what? I know better than God how I should be? Comparison is such an insidious thing, robbing us of recognizing our uniqueness. What if we could actually embrace those words, that God was pleased with us, just the way He created us; that we could not have been made better? Isn’t that what He is saying here:

…for You formed my inward parts;

You wove me in my mother’s womb.

I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

Wonderful are Your works,

And my soul knows it very well.…

Psalm 139:13

If God is pleased with me, with how He made me, why is it so hard to accept myself the way I am. My physical features don’t need to look like someone else; they need to look like me. I need to accept that I look exactly how God intended and He calls His creation good. I think a big step in healing would come from just this – recognizing and accepting that I am who I am by God’s design and that I am fearfully and wonderfully made even if I don’t look exactly like what society calls good, even if I don’t look like what I might call good, God calls me good. He didn’t make a mistake when He made me and He didn’t make a mistake when He made you.

Father, how hard it is to see myself just as You do. Do You watch me with a smile on Your face? Do Your eyes light up when You see me? Am I really the apple of Your eye? Are You proud to show me off – there’s my daughter, my beautiful daughter? Forgive me for seeing myself as anything less than Your creation, Your masterpiece. Even as I write these words, I know I am a long way away from truly believing them. Help me to believe them as I give myself permission to believe them and thank You – thank You for creating me just the way You did. Amen.

I’m Going Down

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Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.  

   Proverbs 18:21           

“I’m going down, I’m going down”.  A boy I was playing a card game with keep chanting these words over and over again. We were playing a version of double Solitaire we call Touchdown and was just a tad bit slower than me!  I suggested he change his words to something that might help him win like “I’m coming up, I’ve got this, I’m gonna win”, but he didn’t buy into it. He just kept saying he was going down. And he did go down.

I’m not saying he lost because of his words; he lost because I am simply the reigning champion of Touchdown and he didn’t have a chance! Just kidding! It seems simple to think that we could change anything about our lives simply by changing our words, but this verse speaks of the power of our words. Power to raise us up or power to bring us down. Listen for just one day to the words that come out of your mouth, or the words that come out of the mouth of someone you love. Do they encourage and bring life or do they bring you down?

Remember Eeyore in Charlie Brown? Here’s a conversation with him from The House at Pooh Corner:

                  “It’s snowing still,” said Eeyore gloomily.
“So it is.”
“And freezing.”
“Is it?”
“Yes,” said Eeyore.

“However,” he said, brightening up a little,

“we haven’t had an earthquake lately.”

Eeyore was charming and endearing and totally a bummer, but we loved him. How much of an Eeyore are you?  Am I? Our words reflect the condition of our heart, the hope or despair or indifference that we carry with us. Our words probably won’t change too much until our heart changes which is something only God can do. But He waits for our invitation to do that. While we are in the process though of having our heart changed, we can practice speaking words of life and curtail the words of defeat that we speak. We can “fake it til we make it”.  Gloom and doom was cute on Eeyore, gloom and doom on us is not so cute; it may even be keeping us down when what we really want is to be coming up.

Forgive me, Father, for the times, so many of them, when I would rather speak gloom and doom then words of life. I don’t always think of the impact of my words on other people or even on my life, or how offensive my words may be to You after all You have done for me to live a life of joy and peace. Help me to fake it til I make it, if need be and change my heart, I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

‘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.

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.

My Dream Back Yard

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“Do what you couldn’t do before and do it until you can do it easily”.  I read this from a book on divine healing. I have heard similar exhortations before, but this time, I got it. I prayed about it and picked one thing I have not been physically able to do in a very long time – yard work. I don’t particularly care for yard work, but I do like a nice yard to relax in. Our back yard had become anything but nice.  Between the overgrown garden and the dogs and the piles of things that seemed to grow exponentially every year, the yard was a mess.

I decided to put this teaching to the test and began the process of reclaiming our back yard. The first Saturday, I worked for about 3 hours, not non-stop but throughout the day. It was hard and at the end of the day, I needed pain medication, badly.

The second Saturday, I worked about the same with the same ending, me on the sofa taking pain meds. But the third Saturday, I worked just as hard, for just as long but at the end of the day, I didn’t need any pain meds!  Not even Tylenol!  How exciting! The fourth Saturday was the same – no pain, then the rains came and I haven’t been out since! I am so encouraged by this. Chronic pain has kept me from so many things for so many years and to be able to do just this yard work is nothing short of a miracle. I am so grateful.  My yard is a long way from looking like my dream back yard, but it is now in the range of possible instead of impossible.

Sometimes, I think we are waiting on God to do the miraculous and He is waiting on us to accept the fact that the miraculous is a done deal. I still have pain, but as God leads, I am going to reclaim my life (and my yard) and do the things I couldn’t do when pain ruled my life. I will hike with my son and putter in my back yard and keep my home cleaner and groom my dogs better and…and…   Most of that is not too exciting but it is stuff I have not been able to take for granted for the past 18 years.  For the first time in a very long time, I see possibilities in my life instead of impossibilities. Only God could have turned that around.

Father, when I think of Your goodness, I am humbled and blessed and speechless. What can I say but thank You? Thank You. You are my healer God and I am amazed at how You continue to work in my life. What a wonder You truly are! Thank You for the yard work I have been able to do and the possibilities of reclaiming my life that are rising up in me. Please continue Your work in me and lead me in Your perfect will. In Jesus’s name, I pray, Amen.

A Balanced Equation

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Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers. 

3 John 1:2

I am relearning Algebra. Not by choice, but in an attempt to help our 9th grade son with his school work.  One thing I learned is that equations need to be balanced.  For example 2 +5 = 10-3 is a balanced equation.  You probably remember from high school that what you do to one side of that equation, you have to do to the other side to keep it balanced. An equation can be unbalanced if you don’t do to the other side what you do to the one side.

When I looked at this verse recently, I saw it as an equation.  What if it could be written like this:  prospering and being in good health = your soul (mind, will and emotions) prospering. What if the power and the truth of that verse lie in the balancing of that equation?

One aspect of the meaning of prospering is that nothing is missing and nothing is lacking. Having what is necessary to have a successful journey here on earth. Money is part of it, but it encompasses so much more. What is lacking in your life? Joy, peace, forgiveness, health, love…?

If, and this might be a big if, our mind – our thinking patterns, the tapes we play over and over in our head, our outlook on life, lined up more and more each day with the word of God, wouldn’t that affect our will and our emotions positively?  And if that happened on that side of this equation, wouldn’t it cause for more prospering and health on the other side of the equation?

Too many times, it is easy to allow feelings and emotions to guide our thinking and our behaviors, but what if we reversed that? What if our feelings followed our thinking and our thinking followed the word of God?  Wouldn’t there be healing in that area of our life?

If one side of this equation effects the other, then my soul prospering will raise the level of prospering and health I experience in other areas of my life, like my finances and my body and my relationships.  I think that’s kind of exciting and a worthy goal, to have my soul prosper and my life follow that. How do I do this? By reading the word of God, meditating on it, and applying what I learn in my life by God’s freely given grace. Daily.

Once again, I am renewed in my mind by reading Your word. Once again, I feel hope arise in me. I desire to prosper and be in good health, I desire to finish the course You have set before me and I need Your resources to do that. I need Your word and Your grace and Your provisions. I need good health. Help me to feed upon Your word, to allow it to have its perfect work in me and help me to be fruitful in every good work. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Communion

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He personally carried the load of our sins in his own body when he died on the cross

so that we can be finished with sin and live a good life from now on.

For his wounds have healed ours! 

I Peter 2:24

Today at church, we will celebrate communion. It is a time to reflect on what Jesus’s death on the cross means to us. Forgiveness is usually the message that is spoken at communion services, but I have come to think of communion as more that just that (although that alone is reason to celebrate).

Joseph Prince has this to say about communion: “To see God’s grace toward us when we are sick is to see what Jesus did for us at the cross…Beloved, see Jesus carrying your symptoms and diseases on His own body. See Him taking one lash after another until His back was shredded to ribbons. See Him falling again and again under the brutality of the scourging, only to rise again and again for more beating until ALL your diseases were healed! Receive your healing as you receive what His perfect finished work at the cross has accomplished for you!”

We are told to celebrate communion and to remember Jesus as we do. To the disciples that would include remembering all the people He touched and healed and the lives that were changed right there in front of their eyes. To me, it would include thinking back on all the times He has been faithful to His word in my life, the times He touched me and healed me and changed me. It would mean looking intently at Jesus and knowing that all that He took upon Himself on that cross, He took so that I could live free of its power over me.  Free from sin, free from death, free from sickness and disease. Free to enter into a relationship with my Father God without shame or condemnation or a sense of unworthiness.

Today Jesus, as I approach the communion table, prepare my heart to receive all that You purchased for me. Open my eyes to see You more clearly, more dearly, more intimately. Thank You for doing for me what I couldn’t do for myself – be cleansed from all unrighteousness, be healed from all diseases. Today, would You touch my heart, my body, my life in whatever way You desire as I keep You in remembrance as we celebrate communion?  Have Your way in my life, I surrender it to You again.  Amen.