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Miracle Worker

23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. Revelation 21:23

Father in Heaven, you are a God of miracles.  You bring light when I am in darkness through your healing powers and in ways I can never fully understand.  Help me to see even the tiniest miracles that you perform throughout my day so I can lift up my voice in glory to You. Amen

If you were asked if you believe in miracles, what would you say?  Your answer would probably depend upon how you define a miracle.  Some might call it a rare event.  What if instead, you changed your perspective and recognized that God works miracles in our lives every single day?

A standard definition of a miracle is  “an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs.”  And again, how would you define “extraordinary?”  As I’ve grown closer to God and understanding His ways, my view of the world has certainly changed.  When seen through the lens of creation being the work of God, we can find any number of impossible things made possible.

37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” Luke 1:37

I’ve been blessed with being pregnant and giving birth twice.  Each time I marvelled at what was occurring in my body.  A tiny human being built from microscopic pieces of the universe in a body that itself is the perfect factory for human creation.  The parts all fit perfectly, just about every single time for thousands of years, millions upon millions of instances.  You don’t need to know statistics to grasp how impossible that should be.

Many say “that’s just science.”  Of course it is!  Science is the study of God’s amazing work – where the impossible happens all the time.  But let’s set human biology aside.  I can state for a fact that miracles happen regularly because I have experienced them.  Oh, if you had only known me 30, 20 or even just 10 years ago. You wouldn’t have seen Christ in my life.  You would have seen a woman desperate for peace.  Longing for joy.  Fearful of not being loved or appreciated.  A couple of years ago, a friend who has known me for some time commented how she could now see the work of Jesus in me.  Truly a miracle.  I’ve seen the same work in a few friends.  Ones I thought would never change.  And the change that has occurred is one that only the hand of God could’ve accomplished.

When you think “miracle” do you only think of cancer being healed?  A death avoided?  A financial windfall?  If so, you need to rub the scales from your eyes.  Just the fact that the sun rose again today was God’s miracle of creation.   His glory is revealed in so many ways.  Some include our continuous acts of human creation.  While other times through the medicines He has placed here for us to “discover.”  His miracle work is revealed each time a sinner recognizes their sin and asks God to change her and He does.  And yes, whenever we are blessed financially when we need it most. 

Friend, God’s glorious miracles are at work right now in your life.  Like our future Eden, He doesn’t need any outside source to cause the light to shine because He makes impossible possible.

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The Healing Power of Forgiveness

Lessons from Cherith

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Matthew 18:21

He’d been a drug addict and alcoholic for at least the 35 years I knew him.  In fact, this lost uncle was my husband’s main reason for why he never touched drugs in his college days.  My husband saw the path of destruction his uncle created throughout their family.  This uncle, my mother-in-law’s youngest sibling, took the road so many addicts follow.  They demand help, make others feel guilty for not rescuing them, promise to do better then start the cycle over and over again.

In my visits to my husband’s hometown, we’d have infrequent contact with his uncle.  But we would hear of his begging his own mother for money and complaining of how “lucky” and “privileged” everyone else in the family were because they weren’t always so down on their luck.  To be fair, this man bore the brunt of being the youngest child of an alcoholic philanderer.  As for my in-laws, they gave money, moral support, food, and more for much of his life.  But after a number of run-ins with the law and intolerable behavior toward my husband’s grandmother, the uncle found himself eventually with backs turned.  Enough was enough.

22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:22

Let’s face it, we are only human.  We get our feelings hurt.  We often seek to protect ourselves from harmful relationships.  We don’t want to be taken advantage of and have our kindness thrown back at us with vitriol.  Like many of Jesus’ expectations of us the concept of forgiveness is not so easy for us sinful humans.  We get to the end of our rope.  We have no more tears to shed.  

I remember when my loving, caring mother-in-law said to me one day a few years ago, “I’m done.  I’m tired of being blamed for his problems.  I’m tired of being taken for granted that we will always help.  I’m angry how he treats our mother.”  And really, could anyone fault her?  But the thing is, I knew deep down she didn’t mean any of it.  I knew if her brother came again with hat in hand she would help.  Because she knew that Jesus would do the same for her.

25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mark 11:28

We can be thankful we haven’t been assigned the task of God’s prophets to administer final judgements like Elijah had to (although one day two of us will be called to do just that). In the Old Testament, we see time after time the people turning their backs on God after so many warnings. And he sent his prophets to speak truth and judgement. His final truth-speaker was His Son, Jesus. But this prophet came to tell us when we seek forgiveness and to forgive we receive eternal forgiveness from God, even when we mess up over and over. You see, Jesus doesn’t just want the one who needs forgiveness healed, he wants us, the forgiver to be healed.  Because when we place our own lives under God’s microscope, we each have a heck of a lot that needs forgiving.  We each are blessed with the incredible gift of coming with our own hat in hand to the Lord and asking, “One more time, please Lord.  Forgive me.” And He does.  

I’ve been fortunate to witness the healing power of forgiveness in a few people’s lives.  My friend Andrea will forever be changed simply by forgiving a family member for past hurts and asking for forgiveness for how she has hurt others.  My own relationship with my parents has required me to forgive them.  And although the situation can still be painful, I now have the healing strength which forgiveness affords to help me pray for them each day.

31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32

I started this message about a man so broken from addiction.  A man who most would say was without hope, without the peace from God.  But God is a miracle worker as we all know.  So, after another stint in prison about a year ago, my husband’s uncle finally said, “Enough is enough.”  He turned to God for forgiveness and healing.  When he got the news that his oldest sister was now riddled with cancer he came immediately to be by her side.

I don’t know if I’ll ever have the same opportunity to watch such a beautiful miracle unfold before my eyes.  To see God’s hands work like no other.  To experience the full promise of God’s grace and love descend upon a room.  We met in the lobby of the hospital, just the uncle and I.  His mind and eyes were clear. He looked so healthy!  His demeanor was clearly different.  I took him up to his sister’s room and we sat and chatted.  I felt like I should leave the room and give them some alone time when suddenly he took her by the hand and with tears streaming down his face he asked for forgiveness.  He asked to be forgiven for the destruction he caused, the pain, and for all the lost years that could’ve been different.

My mother-in-law thanked him immediately.  She said, “I needed to hear this.  It hurt so much when you blamed me for your troubles.”  And they wept.  For the next two weeks I witnessed this man stand guard outside her room, praying and participating in her last days.  I listened as he asked the rest of the family for forgiveness.  And saw them weep from the healing love of God.  I watched as he helped lift his sister’s lifeless body onto the gurney for her final road toward home.  He was in pain but was healed.  He was washed in sorrow but cleansed from forgiveness.  And he knew he was loved.

Who do you need to forgive right now?

Who do you need to ask for forgiveness?  

It’s time for healing.

PS: Happy Birthday to my amazing, handsome, loving, forgiving husband 🙂

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Lessons from Cherith

Sustain me, my God, according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed. 117 Uphold me, and I will be delivered; I will always have regard for your decrees. Psalm 119:116-117

Next week begins the new series, “Lessons from Cherith.”  For those of you unfamiliar with Cherith (also spelled Kerith) here’s a brief look into 1 Kings 17:2-6.  The Lord God had called Elijah out of his home and to the throne of Ahab.  While there he had the audacity to speak God’s words to the king telling him there would be neither dew nor rain for the next few years because of the kingdom’s fall into paganism.  Then the Lord told Elijah to leave the king, head eastward, and hide in Cherith Ravine.  And he obeyed.

He obeyed in spite of the fact that the drought meant the brook in the ravine was almost devoid of water.  And the desert-like landscape meant no food was available.  His trust meant God could continue to work miracles into Elijah’s life.

The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook. 1 King 17:6

It’s estimated Elijah stayed in this barren, dry place for almost 2 years.  And during that time, he learned some valuable lessons before his journey continued.  For one, the Jews listed ravens among the despised birds (Leviticus 11:13-16).  They were greedy yet tenacious.  Of course, God used the most unlikely of sources to bring Elijah food!  They were unclean and repulsive.  Yet Elijah had to rely on them – foreshadowing his next God-directed move to rely on an unclean and unworthy widow.

Elijah’s lessons learned may not all be ones you or I need to learn.  And during my own trip to Cherith this year, when I too was separated from my quiet, comfortable life, I learned lessons you may or may not need to hear.  But the one lesson we all can learn from Elijah is unequivocal trust in the Lord.  No matter what the Lord is trying to weed out, burn out, destroy from our thoughts and hearts He needs us first to trust in Him.  And like Elijah and his ravens He will do more than just sustain us, He will surprise us.  He will work to heal our hearts in ways we can’t even imagine.

I hope you will join me starting next week as I go back on a journey of remembrance from my time deep in my dry ravine.  And watch to see how God surprises us, heals us, and love us.

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Gifts of the Spirit

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 1 Corinthians 12:4-5

A friend of mine and her husband recently participated in a church workshop which helped them identify their various gifts and strengths.  While doing her homework for the workshop she reached out and asked me and a few friends to help her identify three values she’s passionate about and three abilities she has.  I think it surprised her when all three of us identified the exact same qualities.  What was interesting was that she, herself, was struggling to do the same.

For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 1 Corinthians 12:8-10

I think so often as Christians we get caught up in this list of gifts from 1 Corinthians and forget what else this chapter says.  We are all given the Holy Spirit and we all are given gifts to assist the body of the church. So, when our friends tell us one of our gifts is being trustworthy or loyal or even diligent or empathetic, we might not see those as important as one of the “Big 9” and therefore not as worthy. And yet I will tell you having a person managing the church funds whose gifts are trustworthy and diligent is incredibly important!

I’m so thankful that God gave me the gifts of being organized, able to multitask, a love of writing and teaching.  I can’t interpret tongues but thankfully none of the jobs I’ve had, both volunteered and paid, required that!  I would love to stand on my church stage and be able to sing you a beautiful hymn but that’s just not going to happen.  What I can do, however, is thank God not only for the gifts he has bestowed on me, but the ones He has given others.  Together we make up the talented body of Christ.

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Healers

Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy,[a] drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. Matthew 10:8

I sat in my car after having just left yet another doctor’s appointment and announced out loud, “I hate doctors!”  One more doctor who treated me with some level of impatience all the while acknowledging I needed surgery.  But then I took a step back from my prideful emotions and realized this person – a man of flesh and blood – was gifted by God the ability to heal me.  I didn’t need him as a friend, I need him as a healer.  And I gave thanks for his able hands and depth of knowledge concerning my medical issue.

Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.”  John 5:8

I was reminded of the scene by the healing pool when Jesus encountered the invalid who had been laying by the pool for 38 years.  Jesus simply asked, “Do you want to be healed?”  And then told him to get moving.  And I realized how much I expect my doctors to be the tender, compassionate Jesus.  But even Jesus himself was a no nonsense healer.  

My own daughter is a doctor of physical therapy.  She’s a pretty no nonsense kind of person.  She’s also very good at her job.   When her patients are done with treatments, or during the holidays, they shower her with loving, thoughtful gifts.  It’s because, while she is good at listening to their needs, what they truly want is healing and she delivers.

I’ve had kind doctors, rude doctors, dismissive doctors, attentive ones.  I have to admit that just about all of them have done what I needed them for – healing.  Doing something for me that I could never do myself.  So, while I may not like every doctor’s bedside manner, I can say a prayer while sitting in the “big chair” thanking God for their skill and for the healing that is to come.  And I pray for me to have patience and kindness in between. 

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Beautiful Creations

Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, and also seven pairs of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth. Genesis 7:2-3

Like millions of other people, I’ve enjoyed watching the amazing fetes of strength and endurance on display during the Tokyo Olympics.  The way humans can push themselves mentally and physically to limit – just because they want to – is astounding.  No other creature on this planet puts themselves through so much hardship and pain just to reach a self-imposed goal.

But what really fascinates me when watching the Olympics is the beauty of God’s diversity.  In just one 200 meter heat you will see people of every color.  I saw a picture of two United States track athletes embracing in exhausted joy.  One had a creamy caramel color skin and another a jet black skin tone.  And just to the side was an athlete with skin as white as snow.  It was beautiful.   All colors of skin tone from the whitest white to cream and light tan to black as night.  And all God’s creation.

Today I praise God for His diverse creation.  For not making us all the same yet still having the same desires to be loved, liked, admired.  For being so different and yet still afraid of so many of the same things.  

I’m fortunate enough to live in a pretty diverse community.  In the United States, even though the news might make it seem different, there’s diversity in almost all communities.  And for the most part we get along gloriously.  The same can’t be said of every country.  I believe God made us so diverse because He loves beauty.  Yet He made us so much alike so that we could still relate to each other.

The young Indian family that lives to the left of me, the Chinese family that lives to the right, and the Filipino family that’s a few houses up all have the same desires that I do.  To have healthy families, good jobs, to enjoy a walk around the block or a backyard BBQ with friends.  There’s so much the same in all our differences.

When I was raising my kids just a few years ago that was the message our schools, families, churches and media wanted to get across to them.  Multi-culturalism was something to be celebrated.  It’s sad to hear that message change.  As a Christian we mustn’t fall prey to demonizing one of God’s creations over the other.  That’s sliding backwards into old territory.  

News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them. Matthew 4:24

You’ll notice in the Matthew verse that Jesus healed all.  He didn’t select who He thought was the better person based on skin color, country of origin, race or gender.  He loved all and called all to Him.  Wouldn’t it be a great message for the world to say Christians don’t favor or degrade any person, no matter those outward identities?  To remind the people that God made us all – wonderfully?  That black or white or brown or any variation can be healed by turning their lives over to Jesus?

The next time you have the chance to watch an international sporting event take a moment and say a praise to God.  For His amazingly diverse creations.  For being a God who simply loves beauty and welcomes all into His kingdom.


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Step: 5 Wise Counselor

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14

The day I sat on the edge of my bed whining to God about my miserable life – the lack of peace and joy – He spoke quite clearly to me.  “What have you really done (to be close to me?),” He said.  I got down on my knees and wept.  I prayed for Him to show me the steps to take to draw nearer to Him.  The next day He tasked me to go to the bookstore and get a devotional.  So, I stood in front of the hundreds of books and prayed, “Show me.”

The book the Holy Spirit placed in my hands that day was called, “Power Thoughts” by Joyce Meyer.  I try my best not to question God.  He knew exactly where my problem lay – my mind.

“I am content and emotionally stable.”

“I purse peace with God, myself and others.”

“I live in the present and enjoy each moment.”

“I am disciplined and self-controlled.”

“I put God first in my life.”

These are just a few of the “power thoughts” I read over the course of the devotional that year.  My God-centered counseling session began each morning to help me battle the overwhelmingly negative thoughts I had so solidly built.  My stronghold was not fear of man, in fact my propensity was to be ready to fight each day I left my house.  My stronghold was not fear of serving in His name.  I did that willingly and often.  My stronghold, my addiction you might say, was self-hatred and self-doubt.  My husband once called me the “Queen of the Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda.”

I’ve frequently been told I don’t come off that way.  But I’ve come to realize there’s a difference between what a truly confident woman in Christ looks like and one that blusters her way through life.

Allowing Jesus and the Holy Word to become my wise counselor isn’t easy.  It’s painful sitting in “the chair” having someone show you your weaknesses.  And I have many.  But the beauty of our Lord’s Word contains something that no one else can provide – a deep and lasting love behind every nudge, every reveal, every chastisement.

That’s not to say human counselors don’t have a place in our lives.  God uses many ways and messengers to guide us toward righteousness. A poll released in May 2004 found that an estimated 59 million people had received mental health treatment in the two years prior, and that 80 percent of them found it effective. But for the Christian we should seek guidance that has our faith in mind.  What is the point of a, say, marriage counselor who does not view or support marriage from God’s point of view?  When we seek out counseling for our weaknesses, past hurts, we should be reminded of God’s overwhelming love and forgiveness.  

This is why I love the counseling session at the well.

15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

17 “I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” John 4:15-18

Jesus speaks to the woman about truth.  Truth without condemnation.  Just the naked truth.  He goes on to share with her the truth about forgiveness of sins and salvation.  She had lived her life in sin and shame.  And kept doing the same thing over and over.  That’s what shame does.  It envelopes us to twist our minds into feelings of worthlessness, self-doubt, self-destruction.

Throughout Jesus’ three-year walk we see Him love and heal the sick, bring people into God’s service, comfort those in fear, teach so many about the ways of God.  And woven amongst the stories of His life are the counseling moments like the one at the well.  Moments where He uses all His God-given knowledge and skills to bring someone to a “truth” reveal.

Isn’t that what we seek when we ask a friend for advice about a problem?  Or go to a professional counselor concerning a life issue?  How can I fix this?  How can I fix me?  Unlike a teaching situation, where a topic outside ourselves is learned, seeking a wise counselor aims to reach into ourselves to find the “why?”

So often when our own friends or family express concerns about their life we know the “why” but are afraid of the damage the truth might do to our relationship so we stay silent.  That’s the challenge of being a wise counselor.  The culmination of all the Jesus traits.  

I believe the stories of Jesus’ counseling moments are included in the Bible not just for us to see ourselves being counseled like the woman at the well.  They are included so we can also learn to help others.  Others who are hurting.  Others who are living in sin.  Others who don’t know about the gift of forgiveness of self.

We need to take an inventory of how our individual lives, our fruit, our behavior are affecting the people we come in contact with.  The world is in such a desperate situation. Get yourself off your mind and see how you can bless someone else today.

Joyce Meyer

Join me this week, as we complete our series on The Jesus Mindset, in a deep dive into the methods of a wise counselor and how we might touch those around us, helping them to take a few bricks down from their strongholds.


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Laying By The Pool

Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”  At once, the man was cured. John 5:8

“Lord Jesus, I offer myself for Your people.  In any way.  Any place.  Any time.”

Corrie Ten Boom, The Hiding Place

I was reading recently about what it meant that Jesus called Himself a humble servant of God.  To some that seems contrary – for someone to call themselves “humble.”  And at the time of Jesus the word “humble” was a vile and contemptible thing.  According to Christian author Charles Jefferson, there was no virtue in the all the pagan world known as “humility.”  It was a defect.  

As Christianity spread across the world so did its values.  One of its unique additions to the world was the concept of Christ-like humility and servitude.   It is possibly one of the most misunderstood of Christian values.  To some, it means having a low estimate of ourselves.  To others it means we deny ourselves and make ourselves inferior.  But if we accept all of Christ’s words as true we then must also accept these:

“I am meek and lowly in heart.”  Matthew 11:29

And yet we have never met a person who held their head higher, with more confidence, with such loftiness, as Jesus.  So often it seems we create a vision of the various character traits of Jesus and each believer then feels they must change their personalities to fit that ideal.  When we picture a meek and humble person (not Jesus) do we imagine a rich person?  Do we picture a courageous and bold person?  Or do we picture a small, weak person who lets people walk all over her?

As I’ve progressed in my faith this concept of being a humble servant is something I’ve really mulled over.  I’ve tried “playing” various roles that seem to fit the ideal.  And it’s funny.  When I try to be so quiet and meek-like it usually backfires.  The recipient can tell I’m being a phony.

About a year ago I heard about the book, “The Hiding Place.”  I know many Christians have read this at some point in their lives.  As a refresher, the story is a Christian family from Holland living at the start of World War II.  As Hitler’s army advances, the local Jewish community starts to disappear.  Two of the main characters, sisters Betsie and Corrie Ten Boom, find themselves answering God’s call to not just hide Jews but also play integral roles in the underground system of protecting Jews from all over.  What struck me about this book were the opposite personalities of the sisters.  Both answering God’s call to be humble servants in their own ways.

Corrie was the bold one.  She found herself tasked with much of the dangerous work outside their home.  While in prison it was Corrie who dealt with the officials.  Lest we think this was easy for her because of a strong faith, Corrie frequently questioned God about what He wanted her to do.  And each time she prayed.  And each time either a word from God or someone close to her encouraged her to move on His command.  Near the beginning of their story, Corrie is tasked with obtaining extra food rations cards.  She was led to speak with a local man who recently took a job in the Food Office.  But she wasn’t sure it would be safe.

“Lord,” I prayed silently, “if it is not safe to confide in Fred, stop this conversation now before it is too late.”  

Corrie Ten Boom, The Hiding Place

She found herself asking not for five cards but suddenly 100.    And within a week they were in her hands.  The danger she faced – being turned into the authorities– was replaced with her trust in God’s urging for her to be a “doing Christian.”

Throughout her ordeal, while at home and eventually in prison, she wanted to be so angry with the Germans and those who supported them.  She balked at loving her enemies and showing them mercy.  Really, who could blame her?  And yet over and over she submitted her heart and hands to God.

“My job was simply to follow His leading one step at a time, holding every decision up to Him in prayer,” she wrote.  “I knew I was not clever or subtle or sophisticated; if my home was becoming a meeting place for need and supply, it was through some strategy far higher than mine.”  

Corrie Ten Boom, The Hiding Place

You can contrast her submission to God with a local pastor she encounters.  He, on the other hand, when asked to take in a Jewish mother and child into his home was clearly frightened.  He admonished her for the “illegal” activity and warned her that what she was doing wasn’t safe.

The concept of being a humble servant doesn’t require of us to be a person of a certain personality or style of living.  A longtime pastor can fail while a wealthy man can succeed at this effort.  Throughout “The Hiding Place” one such wealthy man aids the underground effort with both his money and his own hands. 

In all of Jesus’ teachings we see Him asking us to do two things: love one another and take action.  Like the man at the pool who had been waiting for healing for almost 40 years he asks us to first believe Him then get up and start moving.  Along the way he wants us to be teachable and willing to learn.  He asks us to put aside our vanity and social aspirations.  He tasks us to serve and feed His sheep.  He doesn’t ask us to underestimate ourselves, make ourselves small, or feel unworthy.  In fact, He wants us to stand firm in the knowledge we are doing His work.

Corrie Ten Boom was bold and faithful and humble at the same time. She was always looking to serve the less fortunate and those in need.  And when she forgot about serving her enemies, her sister stepped forward to remind her.

I once took a leadership personality test at a conference.  The results weren’t that surprising.  I have a bold personality and I’m good at organizing.  But what makes any leadership situation successful for me is to be paired with a softer, gentler leader.  That person remembers those who aren’t as obvious and reminds me to slow down to see the whole picture.

Betsie Ten Boom was that kind of leader.  The book in which they are written of highlights her bold sister, Corrie.  But it’s this quieter, gentler servant of God that I saw as a thread throughout.  It was Betsie who would send up prayers for the Germans soldiers who were torturing them.  It was Betsy who thanked God for fleas in their new barracks.  While Corrie was dealing with the big problems, it was her quiet sister drawing people out of the shadows for prayer meetings in the middle of the night.

During one difficult transfer to yet another barracks, the women were made to stand for hours and hours.  The two sister’s personalities and approach to being God’s servants was evident in this exchange:

“Betsie!” I wailed, “how long will this take!”

“Perhaps a long, long time.  Perhaps many years.  But what better way could there be to spend our lives?” Betsie replied.

I turned to stare at her.  “Whatever are you talking about?”

“These young women.  That young girl back at the bunkers, Corrie, if people can be taught to hate, they can be taught to love!  We must find a way, you and I, no matter how long it takes…” Betsie said with excitement.

Are we that excited to serve God humbly? To be teachable, free from ambition, and vanity?  Have we looked Jesus in the eye and said, “I trust you.”  And when He has told you to get up and pick up your mat have you obeyed Him?  Or have you decided that you aren’t “good enough,” “strong enough,” or “smart enough?”  

Are you laying around by the pool, waiting for someone else to do the work for you? If you keep saying to God, “show me what you want me to do” and have yet to walk out your front door and serve your neighbors you’ve missed the point.  He takes all types in His Great Army.  Get your mat and get moving.

“All of us are different, but all of us can serve the Lord for His glory.”  

Warren Wiersbe

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Rescue Me!

Rise up and help us; rescue us because of your unfailing love.
Psalm 44:26

I’ll admit I’ve had a bit of a rough relationship with God the last few weeks.  I have an on-going health issue related to my sinuses.  For years I’ve suffered through swollen sinuses, infections, allergies, clogged ears, excruciating headaches and more.  I’m in my third year of allergy shots and recently had a second sinus surgery.  And I feel worse.

A few weekends ago I spent most of the time feeling like my head was either in a tight vise or underwater. Conversations were muffled and my eustachian tubes felt as though a needle was being jammed in them.  I got on my knees and started praying desperately for God to heal me.  While at church I prayed continuously for healing.  And the pain continued.

Awake, Lord! Why do you sleep?  Rouse yourself!  Do not reject us forever.  
Psalm 44:23

Have you ever felt the way the psalmist did when he wrote that verse?  Like God just isn’t listening?  That Sunday evening, I sure did.  I was in tears.  And so, I cried out to God even louder to please heal me.  For a brief moment I even felt myself being pulled back into my old way of thinking that God didn’t care about me or worse, maybe didn’t even exist.  But my faith journey has brought me too far to let me slide backwards.

There is no relapse where Christ heals; no fear that His patients should be merely patched up for a season.  He makes new men of them; He give them a new heart and He puts within them a right spirit.  

Charles Spurgeon

My knowledge of God has led me to a place of greater wisdom.  Instead of asking God to “wake up” I started asking Him if this was to be my thorn, my constant affliction to cause me to rely more and more on Him.

It also led me to put my pain and suffering in perspective.  While my issues are painful and irritating, I am not debilitated.  I can still rise every morning and serve Him and the people around me.  And through a pounding headache I can still go out for a walk and experience a beautiful day.  I put my troubles up against my mother-in-law’s, who through a year battling cancer and diverticulitis has managed a smile each time I talk to her.  Yes, at her lowest she has cried.  But I’ve watched her turn back to God in faith, searching for His hand in all things.

I want God to take away my pain.  I know He can.  He can heal me as I write this.  And it is not for me to know why He doesn’t.  

I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  
2 Corinthians 12:7-9

I would prefer not to be held to the same spiritual standards set by the Apostle Paul.  To seek God’s goodness when I feel my worst.  To feel His presence when my head is pounding.  To do the work required of me when the pain is almost overwhelming.  At times I just can’t.  That’s when I beg God to help me, to rescue me.

I’m not going to stop asking for healing.  But I’ve decided that I trust God that there is a reason He hasn’t.  And I know for certain, that in trusting Him, one day we will all be free from affliction and experience His amazing glory.

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A Tiny Message #6

Therefore, since we are surrounded 
by such a great cloud of witnesses, 
let us throw off everything that 
hinders and the sin that so easily 
entangles. 
Hebrews 12:1

I was at one of the lowest points in my life. Sure, I realized at some point that my hormonal situation was partially to blame but so was my environment. More specifically, I had surrounded myself with friends who, to be honest, weren’t all that great of friends. When I asked for help one day because of a medical problem my friends said, “no.” Even my parents said, “no.” I found myself at the end of my spiritual rope.

I remember sitting at my computer looking at Facebook and slowly deleting every single “friend” while sobbing. But the Holy Spirit doesn’t let go of us.

I will not leave you as orphans; 
I will come to you.  
John 14:18

What I was led to do in the coming weeks was to seriously evaluate what environment I had created and how I could create a better one. I went down the list of women I knew casually and had shown themselves to be people of character. And I started calling them, inviting them to lunch, Bible study, or for a walk. About a year later I told some of them what had happened that day I needed help. Some of them cried for me and said, “I wish you had called me. I would have dropped everything for you.” And then I cried. But this time tears of love and joy.

Sometimes we need to have a truly hard moment to see what we have created around us and how it hinders our spiritual connectedness. And the Holy Spirit will be there to guide us to our new home. I found this prayer about laying aside all our hinderances that I thought you might enjoy.

“Lord, I want to stay in an environment that will keep my faith alive and strong. Help me recognize those relationships and places I should avoid to keep my faith from being negatively affected. As you show me places, people, and things I should avoid, give me the strength I need to do what is right — and give me the wisdom I need to know how to avoid those places and people! I pray this in Jesus’ name!”