Words of Life

"He has made everything beautiful in its time." (One of my newest projects.)

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” (One of my newest projects.)

When I was younger, my mom used to take me to not just our normal church building, but all kinds of churches with her. There was such an outpouring of God’s Spirit in so many different churches at the time, that people were not only getting healed but speaking in tongues they didn’t understand and people from other countries were being told the gospel through their native tongues that the people praying over them didn’t even understand, but God’s Spirit was doing the work and people were being saved and would just weep that God cared so much about them.

At most of these places, my mom would ask for people to pray for her eyesight so she could see without glasses. At the time, I used to be so embarrassed because she was never healed. I think I thought maybe God didn’t want to heal her or else He would have. However, the testimonies from these churches and even my mom’s persistence that God’s heart was so good that He wanted to heal her caused me to have a deep longing for God at such a young age. I remember knowing that God was present and still working and as a young girl sleeping in a bunk bed with my sister, I remember praying every night telling God how much I love Him and saying that since He’s here, I would love to give Him a hug and kiss good night and would often kiss and hug the air knowing He could feel it because I knew Him to be a loving Father and wanted so badly to show Him how much I loved Him in return. This poem was written years later from that memory.

Honestly, I didn’t even remember about my mom asking for prayer for her eyesight until this past week, and when it was brought to my memory, I was actually sad that as far as I know, she doesn’t do that anymore. It made me sad that we as a body have stopped the flow of the Spirit so much that people don’t think God wants to heal them. People aren’t leaving the church because people are so evil, but rather the church is only giving people a God that’s being proclaimed only by mere words, and God is so much bigger than that. The verse: “My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him” popped into my head. I love that David said his expectation was from God. Do I believe that? That my expectation is from God?

I just finished the book Release the Power of Jesus by Bill Johnson and was so incredibly encouraged and moved in so many ways. At one point, he shared how it seems that people are always either building a case for God or against God. There are times that things happened that he didn’t understand like a leader’s wife’s baby dying in her womb even after they felt like God was going to heal her baby and spoke life over her child and a person close to them dying of cancer after they had prayed for healing and thought God was going to deliver him from cancer. He said they could keep dwelling over things they don’t understand and think that maybe God doesn’t want to heal people or they could dwell on things they do know, and what they did know was that God came to bring life and healing and deliverance and they were commanded to speak words of life. Since then, they have had multiple testimonies of babies who were proclaimed dead in the womb who were brought back to life as well as multiple testimonies of people being completely delivered from cancer. However, he doesn’t know that they would have had that breakthrough if they dwelt on the things they didn’t know or understand.

The world is full of things we don’t understand. There are so many things in my own life that I don’t necessarily understand why they happened. Reading that, I was so convicted because there are some things that I have been praying for and healing I have been desperately crying out for and realized I had let my heart grow cold to God. Bill Johnson shared how some people will come up to him and say how they’ve been prayed for up to 100x and prophesied healing over by so and so and still haven’t been healed, but would he please pray for them. He tells them he will only agree to it if they act as though it’s the first time because they’ve already started building a case against God and hardening their hearts to Him, that if healing doesn’t come, then God basically doesn’t want to heal. After agreeing to that, many have seen breakthrough.

I was reading some of Jesus’ words today in John 12:49-50 :

“For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.”

Jesus said that He only speaks what the Father commanded and His command is everlasting life. I’ve been so convicted of that. Do my words bring forth life or death? God’s Word says death and life are in the power of the tongue. Are my words and thoughts building a case for God or are they causing me and others to doubt His goodness that leads others to repentance?

I shared in my last post how God’s been really challenging my faith this year and whether or not I believe what I say I believe and 3 different times being shared the verse about how much more our Father wants to give good things to those who ask of Him. This summer has been an even greater challenge as I’ve felt led to pray for people I honestly might not have had the courage to pray for, yet God had just given me a heart for them. Most people gladly receive prayer, and I’ve been thanked, blessed, hugged, and seen some crying and thanking God. It has been so encouraging at times, though it’s been also sad to see the only refusal I’ve had in a church building. To be honest though, I get it. Like I said, I had a hard heart towards God thinking that maybe He doesn’t want to heal and building a case against Him. I was afraid to pray for people for a while because I was afraid God might not answer their prayers like He wasn’t answering mine. I didn’t want others to grow hard towards God as I was growing hard towards Him. I don’t understand why God doesn’t answer all our prayers-there are some reasons given in the Bible, but I won’t stop praying. I know that He is good. I know that He is life and the giver of life. I know that He commands us to speak everlasting life just as He commanded Jesus to. I know that my expectation is from Him. I know that sometimes it takes praying multiple times to see breakthrough, and God is looking for people who are willing to recklessly abandon themselves and make a fool of themselves to show their love for Him. God’s Word will not return void even when we don’t always see the fruit right away, and I realized that even if my prayers aren’t answered over others, they know that I actually believe what I say I do and at least I can point them to Him.

Don’t give up on praying! You will see breakthrough as you remember His promises and dwell on His goodness and His testimonies! Someone shared this with me along with the verse I was reminded of a few times and as she did, it was so moving that as I watched this, it brought tears to my eyes again. Only God knows how many tears I’ve cried as I’ve prayed to Him, and while this doesn’t share it, there is a verse that shares how God keeps all our tears in His bottle that came to mind as she was sharing this analogy with me:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqG9_acZbZA

Be blessed in the name of Jesus! 🙂

Me, faithless?

My youngest daughter looking skeptical...taken by her Aunt Laura. :)

My youngest daughter looking skeptical…taken by her Aunt Laura. 🙂

For the past year, I feel like God has been really challenging my faith. In essence, I’ve been challenged with questions such as “Do I really believe what I say I believe? Do I really believe God is who He says He is?” And not only that, but “Do I believe I am who God says I am?”

For so long, I have been faithless. Not faithless in a sense that I’m disloyal, but faithless in a sense that I’ve lost faith in God’s ability and my ability through Him. I lost faith in what He clearly says in His Word. I realized that everything I did, while they may have been “good” things, were really things that I could do on my own apart from Him-nothing I did really caused me to go beyond my ability into His ability. Yeah, I could work hard and maybe had talents that others might not have, but a lot of that can just come through hard work, practice, or might be said to be a hereditary trait. Anybody can come up with something to give to those in need, save their first kiss for their spouse, tithe, keep a nice house, etc. Although with young kids, the whole keeping a nice house is a little easier said than done. 😉 Anybody can even pray for the sick. Honestly, none of those things really require faith.

However, to speak healing over someone requires faith. To believe that I am the bride of Christ when I have been so faithless requires faith. To believe that I am dead to sin and alive to God requires faith. To believe that when Jesus died on the cross, He not only died for my sins, but all power over sickness and death was handed to Him and that He later handed all that authority to us requires faith. I could go on and on. I read today how He didn’t just say or rather, command us to pray for the sick, He told us to heal the sick. By the way, in those verses, He also tells us to raise the dead. Talk about requiring faith!

Like any good parent, God doesn’t do everything for His children, but rather equips us and gives us the tools we need to accomplish what He has commanded us to do. Yes, there are boundaries and rules just like in any loving household, because there are consequences when rules are broken. For instance, having a rule to not touch the stove top, is not to keep a kid from fun, but rather to protect them from being burned. A toddler might not understand that, but the older they get, the more understanding they’ll have. It would be unloving to just watch them do that without saying anything! However, it’s a sad state when the church speaks more about the rules and what not to do than about the loving Father behind those rules.

Colossians 2:20-23 says:

“Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations  “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,”  which all concern things which perish with the using–according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.”

When I was younger, I was fairly dramatic-ok, so not much has changed. 😉 As with most kids, there were many times I questioned my parents’ love for me, yet was given a lot of chores. I did them and would later write in my diary how I felt like they only had kids to be their slaves (pretty humorous and yet humbling to read my old journal entries). My mom used to even boast that she didn’t have just one dishwasher, but five and then would state our names. I was taught to do different things because they were the right thing to do. Nothing wrong with that, but it definitely helps an attitude to know the love behind those commands. Many people aren’t able to realize that until they have kids of their own.

I remember when God first really made Himself known to me, I started asking my older sister to use the restroom and maybe bring a book in with her, then would try to surprise her with doing all of her dishes. My older brother used to pay me to clean his horrific room in the basement, yet after God touched my life (I’ll go into more detail in another post), I remember trying to give what little money I had to clean his room just to bless him. I know what you’re thinking, what a sister! 😉 I remember wanting to do everything unto God and I truly loved blessing people. I remember standing at the kitchen sink trying to envision Jesus coming into our house and wanting to clean and make things nice for Him. Talk about a major change in my life and attitude! What used to seem like slavery became a way of worship!

However, it wasn’t until I realized just how much God loved me-silly old me with my dramatic attitude, and that He cared about even the little things in my life! His love for me entirely melted my perception of Him and of life. Rules no longer seemed burdensome and I knew He gave me my parents and wanted what was best for me even when I didn’t always understand or feel it from my parents.

Like most people, I’ve had things happen in my life that has led me to question God’s goodness. I think it’s interesting that when the serpent spoke to Eve, he didn’t say that God didn’t say to eat of the fruit. That was an obvious lie. He knew the rule was there and he knew Eve knew the rule (though obviously she didn’t entirely know it as she said God said to not eat or touch of it, when he only said to not eat of it), but he knew he could get her to question the reason God gave her the rule. He knew he could get her to question God’s goodness. Breaking the command might have been the sin, but what led to her sinning was questioning God’s goodness and thinking He was holding out on her.

Recently, I was led to read Matthew 7:9-11 that says:

“Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”

Within less than a week, 2 other people shared that same verse with me! I knew then that God really wanted me to read it! It’s caused me to start hoping again when I pray. I know it may seem silly, but for a long time I had grown so disappointed with God and His answering of my prayers that while I may have asked at times, I wasn’t truly able to do it in faith. The Bible says that whatever is not done from faith is sin.  It saddens me that I had been sinning so long without even realizing it. I started building on a foundation that God maybe didn’t want to heal everybody, maybe He didn’t want to answer every prayer, yet when I read in the Bible, not once did Jesus turn anybody away who asked of Him in faith. Not once did He not heal someone who knew all He did was have to say a word or if they could just touch His garment, they would be healed. It was the Pharisees around Him who said that the people’s sickness or blindness was a result of their sin and that God was trying to punish them, not Jesus. He doesn’t teach people lessons by striking them with sickness, disease, or blindness. Obviously, those can sometimes be natural consequences for certain actions and He may allow them (and promises to redeem them for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose), but it’s Satan who came to steal, kill, and destroy and Jesus came to give life abundantly!

What I find even more mind-boggling is that Jesus told us that we would be able to do even greater things than that-even greater than someone touching His garment and being healed, even greater than raising Lazarus from the dead, even greater than calming the storm. Sometimes I think I’ve always pictured Jesus as a super human in a way-not in the sense that I thought He looked like what we perceive a superhero in movies, but in a sense that He could do anything He wanted to do. Yet, even He says that He had no power in Himself, and only does what He sees the Father doing.  I think sometimes we think it’s heresy to believe that. Yet, God says that those who are born of the Spirit of God, are not only children of God, but heirs, and that Jesus would be the first among many brethren. God’s word requires faith. He didn’t just come to save us from our sins, but to make us heirs and co-heirs with Christ. Christ in us is the hope of glory! When are we going to allow God to adopt us as His sons and daughters? When are we going to believe His Word? All of creation is longing for it!

Through Love

406253_719367574868_1600610380_n

“Through Love”- My hubby & youngest daughter 2 Christmases ago-absolutely melts me! 🙂

I actually wrote this in an old blog post on July 24th, 2006, but I recently came upon it and thought it was really fitting today as well. Kind of like the last post, no matter where I am in my journey, God keeps bringing me back to this:
*****************************

In the book of Job, Job and three of his friends started having an argument/discussion about who God is (sounds familiar in Christian circles, eh?). They all have their own thoughts and some seem pretty good in fact. However, none of them really knew who God was- not even Job- whom God proclaimed that there was none like him in all the earth, being a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil in chapter one. Job didn’t even know exactly who God was. So finally God spoke up for Himself and proclaimed who He is in Job chapter 38-40:2 (I originally had copied the verses, but in order to make this shorter, added the links-though it would be awesome if you wanted to look it up in your own Bible.)

Job responds in Job 40:3-5:

Then Job answered the Lord and said: 4 “Behold, I am vile; What shall I answer You? I lay my hand over my mouth. 5 Once I have spoken, but I will not answer; Yes, twice, but I will proceed no further.”

God’s response in Job 40:6-24; Job 41.

Job’s final response to God in the book in Job 42:1-6:

Then Job answered the Lord and said: 2 “I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. 3 You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. 4 Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, ‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’ 5 “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You. 6Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes.”

The end of the story from Job 42:7-17 (which I noticed something new tonight that I highlighted in bold print):

And so it was, after the Lord had spoken these words to Job, that the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has. 8 Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, go to My servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and My servant Job shall pray for you. For I will accept him, lest I deal with you according to your folly; because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.” 9 So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did as the Lord commanded them; for the Lord had accepted Job. 10 And the Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. 11 Then all his brothers, all his sisters, and all those who had been his acquaintances before, came to him and ate food with him in his house; and they consoled him and comforted him for all the adversity that the Lord had brought upon him. Each one gave him a piece of silver and each a ring of gold. 12 Now the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; for he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand yoke of oxen, and one thousand female donkeys. 13 He also had seven sons and three daughters. 14 And he called the name of the first Jemimah, the name of the second Keziah, and the name of the third Keren-Happuch. 15 In all the land were found no women so beautiful as the daughters of Job; and their father gave them an inheritance among their brothers. 16 After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children and grandchildren for four generations. 17 So Job died, old and full of days.

(I just love that God didn’t restore his losses until he prayed for his friends-you know, the ones who kept falsely accusing him of doing something wrong and saying that’s why he was being “punished” by God because of their poor misunderstanding of Him. I just think it’s such a picture of God’s love and how it works that I never really noticed until now!)

Onto my old post:

So, what was the point of all this? I realized something. I don’t know God. I may have heard or read a lot about Him. I might know parts of Him from spending time with Him, and I may have seen glimpses of His majesty, seen glimpses of His healing and saving power, seen glimpses of His beauty, but there’s SO much more that I have not yet even touched of Him.

If I can be enticed by sin and ever think of it as a good thing when it’s settling for less than God’s best and will for my life and is something that can hurt Him and hurt me, if I can be enticed by such a disgusting thing, I must not know Him or His greater plans for my life.

If I can purposely cause a child of God to stumble by the way I dress or act, I must not know that God cares so much about His children that it’d be better for me to have a millstone hung around my neck and me to be tossed into the sea than for me to cause a child of God to stumble.

If I can walk around with bitterness in my heart and unforgiveness towards another, I must not have experienced His complete forgiveness and will not until I forgive the other person just as Christ forgave me.

If I can go but a moment thinking only upon myself and not caring about others, if I cannot be absolutely disgusted with abortion and praying against it, I must not know His heart.

If I can ever look upon someone and think myself better than them and let a prideful look cover my face or enjoy and linger upon a proud thought, I must not know that it was not my hand or my righteousness that saved me, but His.

If I can go one whole day without being in awe of something He has done for me THAT day, I must have looked out to appreciate even a glimpse of His beauty. It’s EVERYwhere!

If I don’t believe He can heal someone or even me right then, right now, the moment I lay my hands upon that person or myself in His name, I must not believe in His healing powers.

If I can be more concerned with receiving love than giving love, His love must not be real in me, not all the time at least. If I can ever go a second without knowing I am completely and utterly loved, then I have not experienced His fathomless, unconditional love for me.

If I can judge someone before taking the plank out of my own eye or believe the worst about someone instead of believing the best, I must not love that person as He does because Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things and never fails.

If I can ever let fear overpower me, I must not know His perfect love for it casts out fear and I must not trust He has everything in His hands and that everything’s under control.

If I am afraid of death or do not know that I am going to Heaven after I’ve given my life to Him, I must not believe in His Word and what He says.

If I can ever doubt Him, I must have forgotten His uncompromising faithfulness.

If I cannot look upon the least of the least and see Jesus, I haven’t experienced the beauty of seeing through His eyes.

The fact is, we proclaim we know God. I say I know God. We get into little divisive arguments/discussions about who God is, and we maybe have seen a glimpse of Him. We may have seen a glimpse of His beauty and love through the eyes of a child, but we have yet to see all of Him. We have yet to show all of Him either, but that’s what we are called to do, and we do it through Love.

~*For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.*~

~1st Corinthians 13:9-13

Love Conquers All

My 2 baby girls when my youngest was 11 days & my oldest 3 1/2.

My 2 baby girls when my youngest was 2 days old & my oldest was 3 1/2.

Do I know how much God loves me? I mean, really  know deep down in my heart and soul? It doesn’t matter where I’m at in my journey with God; He keeps bringing me back to this. And with that comes the question, “Do I love others and see others the way God loves and sees them?”

I re-read through the New Testament this year and as always before I read anything, I asked God to speak to me through what I was reading. I found myself underlining so many verses about Christ having compassion on the people. It was such a beautiful thing. These were people most other law-abiding people turned away or condemned and accused. Jesus loved the least of the least, had compassion on them, and healed them! And that’s what He’s called us to do!

I know I’ve only had small glimpses of Christ’s love, but it’s enough to keep me coming back for more. It’s amazing how freeing seeing through the eyes of Love can be. For too long, I had lived under the weight of feeling like I had messed up too much to be loved by God. I would never speak anything like that over anyone else’s life, but I believed so many twists of the verses in Hebrews 6 about falling away from salvation, that I thought I who once tasted God’s incredible gift had fallen too far from His grace. I became like the people described by J.S. Park trying to earn Christ’s love:

” I meet Christians who are super-glossy, picture-perfect, law-abiding people, but they are absolutely miserable and difficult to be near. Their every movement is dictated by a strict rigid ruleset that is motivated by a desperate fear. If your efforts are not driven by grace — that God absolutely loves you no matter what — then you will punish yourself towards an invisible standard that looks like success but feels like slavery. Such a standard might work for a little while to conform your behavior, but it will never become a part of you: it’s just an apparatus that imprisons you. Only grace can truly be internalized to melt your heart, and though it can take longer, a truly tenderized heart follows God with all joy and perseverance. This is motivation by grace and grace alone. ”

I was miserable. There were many times in my marriage that I looked like a modern-day Proverbs 31 woman on the outside, but as I mentioned before, a lot of it came from a striving out of an insecurity that I was unloved. I would see and hear about all these women who were overwhelmingly loved by their husbands and while I’ve always wanted other women’s husbands to show their wives love, because I wasn’t loved even with how much I was “doing”, I would look at them and wonder what they did to be loved like that and why what I was doing wasn’t enough, why I wasn’t enough. I felt like something was inherently wrong with me deep down. I was jealous that these women could be so loved without the performance. The more unloved I felt, and the more my husband sought other things than me, the more I felt the need to control our situations. I’m still not perfect in this. There were so many years of dishonesty, I’ve developed some ugly habits. But the more love God has shown me, the more freeing I’ve become, and the more God has been able to work in my husband’s heart. My husband has told me that the times he’s sought other people and things, it wasn’t because of a lack on my part, but a dissatisfaction he had with God. The more he’s satisfied with God, the easier it is to turn away from any temptation, and the love God has given him for me and really for and through both of us as I hardened my heart a lot during that time has been better than we’ve ever experienced. It’s a beautiful thing that could only come from God’s unconditional love and grace! (We’re definitely not perfect in this though!)

Too often I’ve seen that we as Christians seem afraid of speaking of God’s unconditional love and grace. We may speak of it to people who haven’t heard of Christ, but it’s almost as though once someone receives salvation, we expect performance or if people who have known God’s love screw up, we immediately condemn them and forget that God’s a God of second chances and thirds and fourths and nothing can separate us from His love!

I often wonder if we speak so much about performance because it seems easier to love others if they’re doing what we want or if we ourselves have forgotten the wonder of His love for us. We put sin on such a pedestal and act terrified of it and speak about the Bible as though it’s a book of rules we need to follow without getting to the heart of it. We expect people who don’t know God’s love to perform as though they do and act as though the good news is about looking perfect and following the rules. Yet, God says that LOVE is the fulfillment of the law and whether we can speak with the tongues of men and of angels but have not love, we’ve become nothing but sounding brass or clanging cymbals. And though we have the gifts of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though we have all faith, so that we could remove mountains, but have not love, we are nothing. And though we bestow all our goods to feed the poor, and though we give our bodies to be burned, but have not love, it profits us nothing!

I love how David says in Psalm 119:32:

“I will run the course of Your commandments, For You shall enlarge my heart.”

God enlarging our hearts with His love is the only way to fulfill the law. Walking in the faith of His love for us and our pursuit of Him is the only way to please Him! You can be the best preacher and have the most appealing arguments until you’re blue in the face, but only God’s goodness will lead people to repentance!

God humbled Himself and came in the form of a man and brought Himself to our level to show us His love for us and defeated Satan and all powers of darkness through that love and that is our greatest weapon because love conquers all and never fails! When are we going to take up His weapon of choice and fight all manner of darkness? When are we going to love the least of these? When are we going to remember the depths of our sin and remember the wonder of His love for us and show that same level of compassion and grace and love to those around us? When are we going to soften our hearts enough to love as Jesus did?