Monday, May 9, 2011

Faith Before the Fallout

"Examine yourselves to see if your faith is really genuine. Test yourselves. If you cannot tell that Jesus Christ is among you, it means you have failed the test." [2 Corinthians 13:5 (NLT)]

We pray for help...and why not? God implores us to turn to Him in time of need; and to turn to Him in time of celebration and joy. But, when we pray for His divine intervention in times of "crisis," for some reason, we don't let it go. We hang onto our fear, exacerbating the situation. We, as my husband often says, "feed it and breed it." We then go so far as to try to solve the problem(s) ourselves. Oftentimes, we make things worse, or at least we make ourselves feel worse. that truly faith? We cannot do what the Almighty can do, but yet, we keep trying to run our own lives without calling out to Him for direction and discernment.

The song says, "take your burdens to the Lord and leave them there." many times have you sang that refrain? Felt good while you were in church, didn't it? Well, how many of us leave the lesson in the song/scripture on the pew?! We leave the church, after asking for others to keep us in prayer, and then we worry and cry "wee, wee, wee" all the way home. Saints, it's gotta be more than a lyric, it must be a lifestyle!

I can't count how many times I've approached the church with my tithes check written out, wondering whether I should leave it in the checkbook, and pay a bill, or put gas in the car, or stop for a snack instead. See, that's why the Lord taught me many years ago, write out your tithes check first, record it in the checkbook, and budget and live off of all that is left! I find when I don't, my life is a financial mess; my heart/spirit is in disarray; and my level of worry is elevated. But, when I pay my 10% FIRST, I'm much more at peace because I can say for once, I followed God's direction. I don't know about you, but each piece of peace makes a difference in our lives, no?

So, basically, I've never wanted to be a worrier. Even when I was a little girl, I prayed for God to take away my fears, no matter how small or large they were. I always...not sometimes...but ALWAYS felt better in due time. I knew God had the situation under control, better than anything I could've done for myself.

As I've gotten older, I've learned that God is talking directly to me, giving me His peace and comfort, and His joy. I remember a visiting pastor once said we must do more than believe in Him, we must believe Him! That's faith!! I no longer worry about the bills, the sometimes overdrawn account, the utilities that may be turned off - hey, we've lived without lights before; in fact, when we had a citywide blackout, Hubby and I lit candles and read to each other from our favorite books. We've learned how to negotiate with bill collectors; we've learned how to squeeze a dollar from a penny; we've learned how to be more than okay while unemployed. God's got us! C'mon, we've all lived through it, and guess what? We've made it to the other side! God delivered us! Just like He delivered the Israelites, He delivered us through our trials, tribulations, and bondage. But, is it taking us 40+ years to learn? Or, are we casting our burdens onto Him, thanking Him, praising Him, and remaining faithful to Him...and then reaping our reward?

We must live within our faith before we experience the fallout. The fallout is the constant worry, fear, absolute "worst" that you can experience. If you indeed go through the worst, with faith, you know Jesus is with you and He knows exactly what you're feeling and what you're going experiencing. Jesus is right there with you! He's promised never to forsake you, never to leave you alone, and to reward your faith. Because of your faith, you will be healed, saved, comforted, and forever loved. Let's not forget that. That's what it means to keep the faith. Are you keeping yours?

"Therefore, since we have been made right in God's sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us." [Romans 5:1 (NLT)]

God bless your hearts!

Monday, April 25, 2011

I'm Still Blessed 'n Walkin'!

I've taken some time off from blogging...because of my health, but also because of my fundraising efforts for the MS Walk 2011, Saturday, May 7, at Comerica Park. While I won't be able to walk it, I am putting together a team to walk for me; and gathering sponsors who've donated just a little over $1000 thus far. I've reached my goal...praise God!!!

So, here is my it and tell others. Prayerfully, all will see my MS is a testimony!

If you'd like to donate or join my team, just let me know. It's never too late. God Bless!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thank You, Jesus, for Your Healing Power!

Ezekiel 47:12 (NLT)

"All kinds of fruit trees will grow along both sides of the river. The leaves of these trees will never turn brown and fall, and there will always be fruit on their branches. There will be a new crop every month, without fail! For they are watered by the river flowing from the Temple. The fruit will be for food and the leaves for healing."

For the last year or so, I have awaken every morning with severe back pain. I figured it's either my MS or my old mattress. Each day, I get up, stretch, wince, and try not to reach for the nearest ibuprofen to ease the pain. Various medicines have worked to slow the exacerbations of my relapsing-remitting MS, but many times I still experience extreme numbness/tingling in my left leg, and as I said, extreme pain in my back.

These last few years, I have heard of powerful relief available through cannabis-based herbal medicines, but I've had yet to try them. I don't know, I guess I still have the "illegal drug" stigma attached to marijuana remedies in my brain, when, in fact, cannabis is merely an herb that has been used throughout the millenia by countless cultures to heal various ailments/diseases.

So, a close friend who has in the past year learned the medical marijuana business gave me a sample of a salve to try to ease the extreme morning tenderness in my lower spine. Previously, I'd repeatedly told her no to the brownies, the cookies, the rice crispy treats, and any other "tasty goodness" laced with marijuana/cannabis, although it has time and time again been proven on countless other patients to relieve them of their symptoms. Finally, she insisted one last time I try just a little on my back to see what would happen. There is no psychotrophic effect, so I conceded. And this morning...

...NO PAIN!!!! Absolutely NO PAIN!!! I really couldn't believe it. I praised God I finally awoke in a "normal state." Wow...I just kept saying wow...I wanted to hold onto my painfree status forever! I wanted to shout my joy, I wanted to tell everybody, give that salve to everybody...I just couldn't believe this little bit of ointment had this kind of power. But, then I thought, this is what we, as God's children, often think of His power. We just can't believe He could love us like He does, even though we're not worthy. But, God does love us in spite of us...and He doesn't want us to live in pain. He has given us everything on this earth to provide for us and heal us, including herbs.

So here I am, shouting the way I know how, in a little blog. It works! There are countless varieties of this herb, with countless ways to injest it. You don't always have to take drugs, with horrible side effects, but you do have to embrace Jesus' love and His healing power. So, pray on it, say thanks, and give Him all the grace and glory due Him. Meanwhile, for the first time in a long time, I'm saying "Good Morning, God!", painlessly!

P.S. Please visit my personal MS Walk 2011 page to give a little or a lot to my team, Blessed 'n Walkin'! God bless!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

We are Greater as His Church!

22 Saul's preaching became more and more powerful, and the Jews in Damascus couldn't refute his proofs that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. 23 After a while the Jewish leaders decided to kill him. 24 But Saul was told about their plot, and that they were watching for him day and night at the city gate so they could murder him. 25 So during the night, some of the other believers let him down in a large basket through an opening in the city wall. 26 When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to meet with the believers, but they were all afraid of him. They thought he was only pretending to be a believer! 27 Then Barnabas brought him to the apostles and told them how Saul had seen the Lord on the way to Damascus. Barnabas also told them what the Lord had said to Saul and how he boldly preached in the name of Jesus in Damascus. 28 Then the apostles accepted Saul, and after that he was constantly with them in Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He debated with some Greek-speaking Jews, but they plotted to murder him. 30 When the believers heard about it, however, they took him to Caesarea and sent him on to his hometown of Tarsus. 31 The church then had peace throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, and it grew in strength and numbers. The believers were walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit.

Often times when we go through the toughest times in our lives, we feel our most alone. Whatever the situation: our jobs, finances, illness, death, depression, we may not call on our church, friends, and family for their help or comfort. Moreover, we usually don't consistently call on the Lord. Why is that? The Bible shows He is THE most consistent of all!

In the text above, God had transformed Saul from his evil ways. Saul then went out to preach the gospel even when people didn't believe he'd changed. They feared him! But, he continued, and finally, the other believers ultimately got the message that God had made a miraculous change in Saul, and they began to protect Saul. They worked together to keep him safe.

Many times, God puts other believers in our lives to help protect us and comfort us when we need it. We shouldn't forget with anything, we need to use all the gifts, including the people, that God gives us. We each play a part in the Body of Christ. His gifts make us pretty good on our own...but we are greater in numbers...we are greater as His church! Amen!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired?

28 Hast thou not known ? hast thou not heard , that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary ? there is no searching of his understanding. 29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. 30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary , and the young men shall utterly fall : 31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run , and not be weary ; and they shall walk , and not faint . (Isaiah 40:28-31 [KJV])

Today is a very blessed day...I am absolutely the most fatigued I've felt in a long time. Yesterday, I felt like someone was literally sitting on me, but God grabbed me and lifted me out of bed. (Thank You!) By now you all know I live with multiple sclerosis, and one of the most prevalent symptoms is absolute fatigue. I know many people complain of being tired, or even exhausted. My MS makes me bottom-of-the-barrel fatigued. After days, weeks, and even months of feeling this way, I truly get sick and tired of being sick and tired. But God! reminds us that those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength...they shall run, and not be weary! This is God's Word, and we all know if He said it, we believe it.

Now, being physically fatigued stretches far beyond the physical. It becomes emotional and even spiritual. Some days I simply can't even think, put together complete thoughts or sentences, or remember things without having to write them down. But God reminds me my "problems" are minor compared to those of so many others. And for them, I pray consistently. I don't want to whine each day. In fact, I say if this is the disease I have to live with? Thank God...'cause I'm living with it. I praise Him that even though I have no medical insurance, the drug companies send me my medications for free through their patient assistance programs. I still have to pull and tug with Medicaid to get certain other major procedures -- it seems I'm not poor enough to qualify for everything -- but at least God is providing my measure of enough. Whoohoo!

So, with all that said, I may feel fatigued on the outside, but my spirit is lifted on the inside...Jesus lives there. I asked Him to come into my life many years ago, and He hasn't forsaken me yet. He knows what my body, heart, and soul feel, but He reminds me just what He went through to pay the price for my sins. Whew! I love Him, I love Him, I love don't worry. I may walk with a limp, or as I call it, my MS swagger; and I may move a little slower, but I will continue my walk and not get weary. I will get there in His time, and in His name...and I'll be right on time. Amen!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Is it Time to Raise Anchor?

In 1752, one of London's great minds and political leaders, Samuel Johnson, wrote after the death of his wife, "Grant, O Lord, that I may not languish in fruitless and unavailing sorrow." He prayed that God would give him the "peace which the world cannot give." He committed himself to God "with faith and confidence."

We all like to believe we, too, commit ourselves to God with full faith and confidence. We pray to Him often, especially when our lives aren't going the way we want. But, how often do we remember to pray to Him when we feel good, but our lives just seem a little stuck? We're fearful to speak up at our jobs or to our spouses for help, because we're afraid of losing  our jobs or our marriages. Sometimes, we feel our lives are not progressing as quickly as we want, as we see others "whizzing" by, making a lot more money, traveling the world, living out our dreams, etc.? We're often trying to keep up with the Jones' instead of trying to keep up with Jesus. We realize we're stuck in our comfort zone, but do we ask Him for guidance, discernment, and direction? Or, do we just complain, give up, or not seek His help, at all? Do we IGNORE God's commands when change makes us uncomfortable, or when we think we may know better?

In the Book of Acts, Paul is taken as a prisoner on a ship. God favors Paul and advises Paul on what to tell the captain and crew as they are in imminent danger.

17 Then we banded the ship with ropes to strengthen the hull. The sailors were afraid of being driven across to the sandbars of Syrtis off the African coast, so they lowered the sea anchor and were thus driven before the wind. 18 The next day, as gale-force winds continued to batter the ship, the crew began throwing the cargo overboard. 19 The following day they even threw out the ship's equipment and anything else they could lay their hands on. 20 The terrible storm raged unabated for many days, blotting out the sun and the stars, until at last all hope was gone. 21 No one had eaten for a long time. Finally, Paul called the crew together and said, "Men, you should have listened to me in the first place and not left Fair Havens. You would have avoided all this injury and loss. 22 But take courage! None of you will lose your lives, even though the ship will go down. 23 For last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me, 24 and he said, 'Don't be afraid, Paul, for you will surely stand trial before Caesar! What's more, God in his goodness has granted safety to everyone sailing with you.' 25 So take courage! For I believe God. It will be just as he said. 26 But we will be shipwrecked on an island." 27 About midnight on the fourteenth night of the storm, as we were being driven across the Sea of Adria, the sailors sensed land was near. 28 They took soundings and found the water was only 120 feet deep. A little later they sounded again and found only 90 feet. 29 At this rate they were afraid we would soon be driven against the rocks along the shore, so they threw out four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight. 30 Then the sailors tried to abandon the ship; they lowered the lifeboat as though they were going to put out anchors from the prow. 31 But Paul said to the commanding officer and the soldiers, "You will all die unless the sailors stay aboard." 32 So the soldiers cut the ropes and let the boat fall off. 33 As the darkness gave way to the early morning light, Paul begged everyone to eat. "You haven't touched food for two weeks," he said. 34 "Please eat something now for your own good. For not a hair of your heads will perish." 35 Then he took some bread, gave thanks to God before them all, and broke off a piece and ate it. 36 Then everyone was encouraged, 37 and all 276 of us began eating -- for that is the number we had aboard. 38 After eating, the crew lightened the ship further by throwing the cargo of wheat overboard. 39 When morning dawned, they didn't recognize the coastline, but they saw a bay with a beach and wondered if they could get between the rocks and get the ship safely to shore. 40 So they cut off the anchors and left them in the sea. Then they lowered the rudders, raised the foresail, and headed toward shore. 41 But the ship hit a shoal and ran aground. The bow of the ship stuck fast, while the stern was repeatedly smashed by the force of the waves and began to break apart. 42 The soldiers wanted to kill the prisoners to make sure they didn't swim ashore and escape. 43 But the commanding officer wanted to spare Paul, so he didn't let them carry out their plan. Then he ordered all who could swim to jump overboard first and make for land, 44 and he told the others to try for it on planks and debris from the broken ship. So everyone escaped safely ashore! [Acts 27:17-44 (NLT)]

In this text, Paul told the captain and his men to listen to what God told him about the voyage, and how to keep everyone safe. Not surprisingly, the crew ignored Paul, believing they knew more than he. In verse 21, Paul gently admonishes the crew and tells them, "Men, you should have listened to me in the first place and not left Fair Havens. You would have avoided all this injury and loss."

Don't you hate it when someone has every right to tell you, "I told you so!"? Here, Paul is trying to get the men to recognize their mistakes and get them to follow follow God's command. Growing up, my parents rightfully warned me to follow their instructions. If I disobeyed, or rather, did not follow their exact directions, most often, I ended up paying for it. Then came that other culturally stinging quote, "a hard head makes a soft behind!"

Just like when the seamen didn't follow instructions, and therefore, the bow of the ship stuck fast, while the stern was repeatedly smashed by the force of the waves and began to break apart, when we don't follow God's instructions, our lives seem absolutely stuck and life repeatedly smashes us with the gale force consequences God didn't plan for us.

For example, we don't tithe to our church, and we live beyond our means. Then we're repeatedly "smashed" with overdue bills, resulting in bad credit, low self-esteem, and the like. We sin by gossiping, lying, being unkind to one another, committing adultery, and countless other unsavory acts. That's when our lives really seem stuck. We fall into a rut of sin, ignoring God, not praying to Him for help when we obviously need it, and even when think we don't need it. And like Paul's ship, the force of life breaks us apart (i.e., our families, our finances, our health, our faith).

But God! gives us victory. He forgives us again and again, when we ask for it. He instructs us to cling to the broken pieces of our lives, hang on by our faith, and He will deliver us...just like when the crew and prisoners of Paul's ship were told to float on the broken pieces of their vessel. Like them, we need to keep the faith and float on the planks and debris of our lives. According to His will, God will restore whatever was broken within our lives, within our hearts, within our souls. God will not abandon us!

When we think God's not listening to our desperate pleas for help, perhaps God is telling us to pull up anchor on our own carnal desires, and listen to Him. Perhaps He's telling us to pull up our anchors of distrust, fear, or that relentless comfort zone that keeps us stuck where we can't realize the future joy God has planned for us if we just let go of the past. When we feel merely good for too long, we reject feeling our best in whatever it is God has planned for us when we step out on faith! 

When we finally figure out we can't make it through life on our own, without His direction, discernment, and counsel; when we begin to continually pray to God and follow His Word, will, and way, we, too, can swim safely to shore. We, too, can be saved. So, pull up your anchors and follow Him!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Yes, winter's back, now help somebody!

Through this bitter cold we're enduring in the midwest, the east coast, and even in the south, we're "suffering" and complaining, but most of us are getting through it. Many of us have high-tech equipment to make snow plowing easier (i.e., some even have mats/special surfaces that actually melt the ice and snow as it falls to the ground); or snow blowers so we don't have to shovel manually; or we may have automatic car starters to warm up and defrost the car before we get inside, so we can comfortably conquer our commute.

And yet, there are larger parts of the world that have never even seen snow. Many have never oopsed, slipped, and fell to the ground on a hidden patch of ice. I've met many people from around the world who came to the Detroit metro area, actually eager to see their first snowfall and feel the cold crystals fall on their tongues and faces. You know, kind of like how we native Michiganders are during the first snowfall before Christmas. However, by the time February gets here, we're grumbling about the harsh winter elements, cringing at the relentless dirty snow, and succumbing to cabin fever. Where's the sun and warmth we used to know?!

We become jealous of our family, friends, and associates who may be able to leave this blistering cold atmosphere, even temporarily. We get Facebook notices from our "friends" telling us they've escaped to LA for awhile, and how warm and wonderful it is out there. They're wearing flip flops and t-shirts and they "truly" wish we were there. (Yeah, right) We forget that California endured endless brush fires this past year; they're always on the cusp of who knows what size earthquake and when; and that most areas of the U.S. have to endure something "harsh," in terms of weather or natural disasters. Have you ever stopped to think that God gives us moments to pray through our "hardships" and become closer to Him? Perhaps He continuously lets us know just how much we DO have...even in the cold.

Oprah Winfrey recently dedicated a show to military families who must endure without their spouses who are deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq, and countless other third-world countries in service to our country's freedom. First Lady, Michelle Obama, is passionate about this issue, opening our eyes to just how many of these mothers and fathers must raise their families as single parents  while their spouses are thousands of miles away in the most volatile countries of the world. We know tomorrow's not promised for any of us. But, the military, they're honored to put their lives on the line each day without complaint, and they pray to just come home safely when their deployment is over.

Oprah also introduced us to a family who's father was severely injured while in the war, returned home blind, with a severe brain injury, and now the family has a new normal. Thank God, the father is making his way back physically, and he has a very devoted wife and loving children, but their lives have changed drastically. On that show, Oprah and First Lady Michelle gave us ways we could help the families who are still here, and not seen because they're not whearing a uniform. It's surprisingly easy to find military families who live nearby, and could possibly use our help. We all can contribute. We all can do something.

In the Old Testament, God tells us to give a portion of our tithes to the widows and orphans. We can take that to also mean give a portion of what we have to military families, the poor, and others in need:
29 Give it to the Levites, who have no inheritance among you, as well as to the foreigners living among you, the orphans, and the widows in your towns, so they can eat and be satisfied. Then the LORD your God will bless you in all your work. [Deuteronomy 14:29 (New Living Translation)]

Wouldn't it be wonderful to take our minds off our winter woes and tithe our time to help others? We can ask them how we could pitch in to make their lives a little easier. We could say, hey, our church is available to you, how can we help? Do you need a babysitter? Would you like to get your hair or nails done? Do you need a ride to go shopping? Can we cook you dinner? Do you have enough winter clothes, warm coats, and boots? Would you like to join us in church? Would you like to worship with us?

Can we shovel your snow?

God bless!