Let Us Settle The Matter

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“Come now, let us settle the matter,”
    says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
    they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson they shall be like wool.

Isaiah 1:18

Some time ago, I became aware of the fact that unforgiveness can hinder physical healing.  Fred Luskin, PhD at Stanford University says; “Not forgiving – nursing a grudge – is so caustic.  It raises your blood pressure, depletes immune function, makes you more depressed and causes enormous physical stress to the whole body”.  Ok, I got it. I asked God to show me anyone I needed to forgive and over a few weeks, He did just that. People just came to mind and I made the decision to forgive them. Some were easy, others were not. But with God’s help, we went through the list. I’m not saying I’m done, only that He hasn’t shown me anyone else.  At least not until the other day when He showed me who is most probably the most difficult person I have needed to forgive – me.

Wow! I did not see that coming! I could, however, instantly see the truth of that. I am quick to tell people they need to forgive themselves when I hear them verbally beating themselves up over something they did or didn’t do, but I don’t very often extend that mercy to myself. I wasn’t even sure how to begin. I remember I teaching someone once did on forgiveness and he said it begins with a decision to forgive, not a feeling to forgive. So even if I don’t feel forgiving, I can decide, as many times as I need to, to forgive and if I keep at that, the feelings will come.

So I am choosing to forgive myself. Choosing to accept the forgiveness Jesus paid for. I am settling the matter in my heart that my sins are covered and even though there are consequences to those sins, the stain of the sin is washed away. I am choosing to stop beating myself up for things I can’t go back and change. I am letting myself off the hook for expecting so much more of myself than I would expect of others. I am allowing the healing that comes from forgiveness to do it’s work in my life, my heart, my mind and my body.  And when self-incriminating thoughts come, I am reminding myself that it is settled and I am forgiven both by God and by me.

Lord, I do love Your word and how it shines the light of truth into my life. Sometimes that truth is a little painful to see, but it always brings healing. Thank You for Your word and for Your grace to allow Your word to do its work in my life. Continue to show me when unforgiveness is present in my life, I pray. I choose to forgive myself; help me to remember that when I talk otherwise to myself.  I ask in Your name, Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Baby With the Bathwater

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I believe in divine healing even though I still have pain in my body. I first learned about divine healing experientially. Members of my family were healed because someone prayed.  But experience isn’t the same as biblical doctrine. While living in Tulsa, I encountered the Word of Faith teachings of Kenneth Hagin, Bob Yandian, Billy Joe Daugherty, Richard Roberts and more. It was new to me; I had never in all my years of attending church, heard this message of healing. Since I needed healing, I gravitated towards it.

Having been healed instantly on occasion and not having been healed instantly led to many questions and I began digging deeper, which is also the purpose of this blog. Is healing really for today? Is it really for everyone? What happens when the healing doesn’t come?  The Word of Faith movement has quick answers for these questions and maybe they are spot on. Maybe they aren’t. The WOF movement has received much criticism and much praise. Neither of which makes it right or wrong.  I personally know people who have been hurt by this teaching when faith didn’t produce the results they were after and I know others who have dismissed the whole thing because of a healing that didn’t come. That, however, strikes me as throwing the baby out with the bathwater because I also know people who have been healed by this.

Have some people gone off the deep end with this? Probably.  Have some misused it? No doubt. But do those things make the underlying truths false?  I don’t think so.

When we build our doctrine on our experiences (or lack of experiences) or build it simply on the message preached by some or dismissed by some, we are in danger of rejecting truth. The very truth we may need to turn our live around.

My doctrine needs to be based on the word of God. Period.  Did God say it? Then it must be so. If I don’t understand something about God’s word the place to go is to other parts of the Bible and let it lead me into a better understanding. The Helper I need is the Holy Spirit who is available to help me understand truth. Listening to preachers and teachers is good and has it’s place, but it can’t take the place of doing our own homework and building our faith on what God teaches.

Let’s don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater, let’s examine scriptures and build our faith on what God says and find our healing in His word.

Lord Jesus, sometimes the questions demand answers, answers I just don’t have, answers You have chosen not to give me. I know, by reading Your word, that You are my healer God and that nothing is too difficult for You. With You all things are possible, even my healing. Thank You for standing by Your word, for establishing Your word in my heart and giving me the Helper to lead me into all truth. Where my doctrine is off, would You lead me into Your truth. In Your name, I pray, Amen.

 

picture credit: pgannon.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.

 

 

Halfway to Goal

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I am not so sure how properly I set this goal, but I am halfway there. Posting a blog a day for a year has been a stretch for me. Some weeks ago, I had to take a break because pain was too intense for me to sit at the computer and now I am trying to fill in posts on those days I missed.

So what else can I say about where I am right now, six months into this?

I am still dealing with pain.

I am still limited by pain.

I seldom use pain as an excuse for my mood, attitude, behaviors, etc.

I am encouraged by things I have studied and read and sometimes very challenged by things I’ve studied and read.

I still have more questions than answers and that’s good, it keeps me seeking.

I have more good days than bad.

I sleep more nights than I don’t.

I have learned that taking care of me is ok.

I’ve learned that God is a holistic healer and is as interested in my overall health as He is in my physical health.

I have discovered that I am more interested in my overall health than I am in my physical health.

I am relaxing in this process and not feeling like I must/need to rush it.

I am still connected with a local church and involved there.

I have made a new priority list and I am not at the top of it anymore!

My prayer life has grown by leaps and bounds.

I am grateful for this process and whenever my healing comes, I will be grateful for that.

I am learning to set boundaries with other people.

I am learning to delegate things I can’t do anymore.

I think going into this that I had in mind that I would be healed before my year was up. I know I can’t put a time frame on God and I know that what He has done in me in these past six months has more eternal value than just healing my body would have had. I have had to change my expectations from Daily Devotions on Divine Healing to Almost Daily Devotions on Divine Healing and I am ok with that, especially if the other choice would be to just quit. I won’t quit, I will make it to May 28, 2014.

Dear Jesus, what can I say but thank You and humbly come to You and surrender my life, my expectations, my timeline, my plans to You knowing that Your ways are not my ways and Your plans are higher, bigger, greater than I could ever imagine. Use me, use this pain, use this blog in any way You deem best, I ask in Your precious name. Amen.

No Favorites

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Peter fairly exploded with his good news:

“It’s God’s own truth, nothing could be plainer: God plays no favorites!

It makes no difference who you are or where you’re from—if you want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open.

The Message he sent to the children of Israel

that through Jesus Christ everything is being put together again

well, he’s doing it everywhere, among everyone.

Acts 10:34

Good news is really hard to contain.  Peter fairly exploded (but Peter fairly exploded often!) with his good news. It is really good news – God doesn’t play favorites.  What He has done for one, He will do for another, for you, for me. I think this is awesome news, because I have discovered, and perhaps you have too, that pain doesn’t play favorites either. Doesn’t matter what race or gender you are. Doesn’t matter what your economic position is or your political affiliations.  It doesn’t matter what church you go to or that you go to church. It doesn’t matter how good you are or how bad you are. If you are a member of the human race and still breathing, pain can interrupt your plans and your life. Life sometimes stinks  – for all us.

This message that caused Peter to fairly explode should have such an effect of us as well.  It is tremendous news. I am no less loved or no more loved than anyone else. So when I see in scriptures that Jesus went about healing people, or as this verse would say, putting everything together again, I know I am included in that group called everyone.

He’s the one who healed the leper. He heals me.

He’s the one who dined with sinners. He will dine with me.

He’s the one who embraced children. He embraces me.

He’s the one who extended grace to the woman caught in adultery. He extends grace to me.

He’s the one who raised Lazarus from the dead. He will raise me from the dead.

He’s the  one who fed the hungry. He will provide for me.

He’s the one who healed the woman with the issue of blood. He heals me.

He’s the one who delivered the man possessed by demons. He delivers me.

He forgave those who persecuted Him, rejected Him, despised Him, neglected Him. He forgives me.

He’s the one who entered our world, so that we could learn how to enter His. He is with me.

And He will do the same for you.

Jesus, I am entering the Christmas season and my life  just got so busy. I don’t want to lose sight of You through this time. Turn my heart towards You; help me not to forget the message of the Christmas season. I feel You are beckoning me to remember that all that You did, to know that You did for it me, for each one of us, everyone of us. How precious we are in Your sight and dear we are to Your heart. Thank You for not playing favorites and thank You for coming to put everything together again. Amen.

picture credit: hesmyallinall.com

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

My Endeavors

and he who does not use his endeavors to heal himself is brother to him who commits suicide.

Proverbs 18:9 Message Bible

Wow! These are rather harsh words I think. Harsh enough to convict me of complacency when it comes to my healing. It’s one thing to write posts and build my faith for God to heal me, it’s quite another to determine which endeavors of mine would lend themselves to my healing and which are counter-productive. And to go the one (or fifty) steps further and actually do those endeavors, faithfully and regularly and still do all the other things that make up my life. Wow! I feel lost and overwhelmed. But to see that my lack of using my endeavors (whatever they may be) are tantamount to suicide. That really got my attention.

When I first started into this healing process, I was doing everything I knew to do. Trying the various prescriptions the doctors prescribed, taking the supplements my wellness consultant suggested, exercising, eating healthy healthier, making foods from scratch (even condiments), managing stress, confessing scriptures, reading books on divine healing, reading books on alternative healing, juicing veggies and even growing my own wheatgrass to juice. The list was daunting and time consuming and a financial drain. Totally unsustainable. And it only brought limited, temporary relief. So I quit. All of it.

And while I haven’t been any worse for quitting those things, I haven’t been any better either, for the most part. Somewhere in there though are endeavors that may benefit me and being willing to find a sustainable, helpful compromise between doing everything and doing nothing is certainly better for my healing, so this verse tells me. Funny that while I have been waiting for God go do something, maybe He has been waiting for me to do something. So today, I purpose to make a plan. Pick and choose those things that are affordable, time-wise and money-wise, and leave the rest in God’s hands. As I write this, I question where the time will come from (and the money) but I have to trust that God in His infinite wisdom did not lead me to this verse to condemn me, but to show me a path that He has prepared. Someone smarter than me said that where God guides, He provides. So I gotta have faith and I gotta go exercise. Ugh! Please pray for me.

Loving heavenly Father, where else is there to go except to You. You alone know the path that is right for me. When I think of all the things I have done to bring about my healing, I am overwhelmed and I feel defeated just thinking about starting all that again. Please show me of the “all that” which are the things that will aid in my healing. I simply can’t sustain a shotgun approach. I don’t believe You would have led me to this verse to leave me without direction. As I take the tentative steps I believe are right, would You please steer me as You will? I ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way

A seven year old boy at work the other day got his heart broken when kids wouldn’t play the game he wanted to play. He curled up in a ball against the wall and cried and yelled, “It’s not supposed to be this way. It’s not supposed to be this way. This shouldn’t be happening.” Meanwhile, a 10 year old girl was crying silently at a table, head down, tears covering her hands and Kleenex dotting the ground all around her. Her heart had been broken. Her mom’s boyfriend raped her and now she was in foster care, separated from her brother and mother. She stayed in this position for 2 and 1/2 hours. While she didn’t say a word, wouldn’t even respond to me at all, I would bet the cry of her heart was “this shouldn’t be happening. It’s not supposed to be this way”.

I thought of all the times I have curled up in a ball and cried and trying to wrap my mind around some awful truth with those same sentiments going through my mind.  It’s not supposed to be this way.  Maybe you’ve been there. There’s enough hurt going around that probably we have all experienced those moments of unbelief at a turn of events we didn’t see coming.

Friends are not supposed to betray us, ten year old girls aren’t supposed to be raped, spouses aren’t supposed to be unfaithful, guns aren’t supposed to be taken to schools, bodies aren’t supposed to be riddled with pain, families aren’t supposed to fall apart, and on and on, the list could go for a very long time. We all know of things that shouldn’t be happening that are. And it hurts. Sometimes that hurt causes us to scream out and yell and other times it causes silent tears. Pain so deep that words can’t heal, not now anyway. If there is a blessing that comes from being in pain, it is that I feel the hurts of others so much more deeply. Have you found that to be true?

This quote from A.A. Milne is one I have up on the bulletin board for kids to see at work and it seems appropriate to share it here:

Promise me you’ll always remember:

You’re braver than you believe,

and stronger than you seem,

and smarter than you think.

Christopher Robin to Pooh

For those of you who are going through a difficult time (and you know who you are), please be gentle with yourself.

God of all Comfort, please hold my friends and loved ones tightly. Embrace them as only You can do. Be their strength when they are weary, their hope when theirs is gone, the light that shines in their darkness, their ever present help in time of need. Please bring restoration to their lives; be their encourager and the lifter of their heads. I ask in name of Your beloved Son, Jesus. Amen.

 

Pitiful or Powerful?

Two of my adult daughters were going through extremely difficult times.

Times I wished had not come their way; times I can’t spare them from going through.

I hurt for them.

My heart broke for them.

And I felt helpless.

My husband and I were discussing this one night and he said it must really feel bad to know what they are going through and not be able to do anything – to be so powerless.

And I nodded in agreement.

Then I trudged upstairs to get into my pajamas and curl up in the darkness of my bedroom and be  powerless and helpless and feel sorry for them and sorry for me.

I decided to pray first maybe more out of habit than conviction and an amazing thought crossed my mind.

Actually, I remembered Joyce Meyer saying, “You can be pitiful or you can be powerful”.

I must have heard her say that dozens of times but that night, it resonated with me.

In the natural, there is only so much I can do for my daughters.

But God, through my prayers, can do so much.

I began speaking His Word over them:

They are the head and not the tail.

They are loved with an everlasting love.

They are led in paths of righteousness.

They are inheritors of the promises of God.

They are blessed to be a blessing.

They are surrounded with favor like a shield.

They are taught of the Lord and great is their peace.

They are protected by angels.

They can do all things through Christ who strengthens them.

They are children of the Most High God who has not forgotten them or forsaken them or turned a deaf ear to them.

God will restore to them for the years the locust have eaten.

Goodness and mercy will follow them all the days of their lives.

They will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

No, I don’t have to be pitiful.

I don’t have to be powerless.

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I can take them to the throne room of God anytime, day or night, and know that He hears my prayers.

He has bottled up my tears.

He has sent His angels to perform His Word in their lives.

I still curled up in the darkness of my bedroom, but instead of feeling sorry for them and for myself, I felt peace.

That peace that surpasses all comprehension.

Peace that only God can give.

Pitiful – I don’t think so.

Powerless – I don’t think so.

Not me, not anymore!

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.

Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.

It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

Philippians 4: 6-7 Message Bible

reposted from my old blog godhappenings.wordpress.com

Worth Loving?

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“You need to love him”.  Those words, spoken by the Holy Spirit, woke me in the middle of the night.  I looked around, who is the he I need to love?  I realized He meant my husband, (now ex) Donny, asleep or should I say passed out next to me.  My response was immediate “I can’t love him, You see how he is”.  And with that I went back to sleep.

The next night, I was awakened by the same words, “You need to love him”.  I still didn’t have to think very long for my answer, “I can’t love him, You see how he is, he is so mean to me”.  And again, I went back to sleep.

This continued night after night and night after night, I added to the list of reasons why I couldn’t love my husband. It got harder and harder to come up with reasons and I found myself during the daytime thinking of more reasons.  It was getting old to me and every night I thought I had made my case and this would be the night the Holy Spirit didn’t wake me with the now familiar words, “you need to love him. But every night, He did.

One night out of frustration, when He spoke those words, I presented my whole list:

You see how he is, he’s mean to me, he’s seldom home, he’s almost always drunk, he doesn’t help out with anything, he’s unfaithful, he neglects me, he neglects his kids, he’s abusive, he abandons us for months every winter, he’s always at the bar.  I ended my list with, “no, I can’t love him because in my opinion, he’s not worth loving”.  I went to sleep satisfied that I had settled the issue.

The next night, I didn’t hear the words I had come to dread.  Instead I heard these words spoken in a very soft and imploring tone, “But, you weren’t worth loving either”.

Wow! I felt like Eve in the garden of Eden, naked, exposed, ashamed and desperately in need of somewhere to hide. 

I wanted to crawl under my bed and dig a hole through the carpet and the floor and keep digging until there was no chance of being seen. 

I was so ashamed.

When I realized there was no place to hide and no need to hide (He’d already seen my gross sin), I asked for forgiveness and the grace to begin loving my husband.

I’d like to say that as a result of that encounter, I was able to love him well enough that he responded to my love and responded to God’s love and changed his ways and we lived happily ever after.  But that’s not what happened; we were divorced three years later.

What did happen was a paradigm shift in my thinking. I had been raised to believe that love was conditional – conditional upon my being good as defined by … whomever.  I never was good enough and never felt worthy of being loved.

What I learned is that I’m not worthy of love, no one is really. 

We are loved simply because God decided to love us. Love is a choice, not a feeling. 

God’s love for me, for you, is not based on our worthiness, it’s not based on our good behavior or lovable actions. 

It is based on His character and His decision to love us – regardless. 

Isn’t that good news?