Quote for the Day: Psalm 63:8, "My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me."

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Taking a little break!

I am taking a little break to be able to focus on some priorities in my life.  Resurrection Sunday is coming and I really want to spend every extra minute I can on what Christ did on the Cross and that He rose and lives!!!

Bless you as you seek Christ in a deeper way this season!


Friday, March 16, 2012

In a Moment

Imagine walking on a frozen river. The ice starts cracking all around. Our footing is unsure. Add to this physical exhaustion and an emotional meltdown. In the midst of this, we might question, “Can God use us in our bad times?”

May 2010, I was diagnosed with cancer. I had good days and not so good days. In my good days I was positive and energetic and productive and thought, “God can use me because it’s a good day”. In the not-so-good days I tended to withdraw into my own little cocoon so no one would see me, thinking God wouldn’t use me like this.

One weekend, not too long after I started chemotherapy, and before all my hair had fallen out, I found myself in the observation unit of the hospital in pretty weak state. Once I was stabilized, I thought, “Lord, how in the world can you use me here…like this?”

In the middle of the quiet unit, the night shift nurse was making her rounds. As she took my blood pressure, temperature, and changed my IV bag, I asked her why she became a nurse. She told me she realized if she did not make a change in her life; her children would not have a stable home or have the opportunity to go to college.

She said she made a choice to pull herself up from the memories of a bad childhood, two failed marriages, a poor financial situation, and went back to school and got her nursing degree. At the time, she had two very young children. Now, she is employed at a very reputable hospital, has a home of her own and is “in a good place”. Her story was remarkable and she was and should be very proud of her accomplishments.

As I listened to her, however, I noticed a tough, uncompassionate edge to her. She said she did not have a lot of sympathy for some people because if she could do it anyone could. I asked her if she had anyone supporting her during this difficult time in her life. She quickly mentioned two people who supported her financially and emotionally and helped with the children.

That was my “opening”. “The Lord really sent the right people to help didn’t He,” I said. She looked at me strangely, thought for a moment and said, “Yes, He did.” Then she lovingly patted me on the foot and said, “You need to rest. Say your prayers and go to sleep”. I laid there in such peace, realizing God had, for a brief moment, brought her to a place where she acknowledged Him as being present in her life. I did say a prayer and fell asleep.

The next day, they wheeled me into another room to wait for another test, I was watching the news. They wheeled an elderly woman in to sit beside me to wait for hers. She had such a sad countenance. I asked her if she wanted to watch something else and she said she did not really care. I switched it to the weather channel (Who doesn’t like the weather channel?). We had been watching for a few minutes and she made the comment that we had been lucky in the area because we had not experienced any major weather affects.

I asked her how long she had lived in the area. “Since 1959,” she said. I said she probably knew of our little church and she said yes. She said she had attended another church a long time ago. She was quiet for a moment, then told me how, when her grandchildren were very little, she took them to church. One would come up from downstairs in the middle of worship and stand in the hall and yell, “Grandma, I love you!” She smiled and said, “I think he just wanted to make sure I was still there.” Her whole countenance changed. Again, I watched the Lord bring her back to a place where He was part of her life – even for a moment.

That weekend the Lord sent two other staff members who shared their stories and how the outcome worked out far better than they had ever imagined. All I injected into the conversation was, “Wasn’t the Lord good to you?” or “The Lord really orchestrated things didn’t He?” All they said in return to those comments was, “Yes, He was.” or “Yes, He sure did.”

This gave me a new insight for what it means to “spread the Good News of Jesus Christ”. We do not need to take a course in “Evangelism 101” or go to seminary or be a perfect person in a perfect situation. There was not a time while in the hospital when I felt good enough to be perky. Most of the time, I was either laying down or sitting in a wheel chair. I was in a gray hospital gown, my hair was flat and I did not have any makeup on. (I could not wait to get home and take a shower, wash my hair and get in my own bed.)

Back to the question: “Can God use us in our bad times?” The Lord showed me very strongly during the hospital stay that He could use any situation to bring people back to Him if I was willing to be used in an imperfect, unlikely situation.

We do not know where people are spiritually. Only God knows. So, let Him direct the conversation. Maybe they do not know the Lord. On the other hand, maybe they have just gone through so much they have forgotten and become hard or crusty. Maybe they just need to be reminded that the Lord is still in their lives, especially when they are going through difficult times.

The morning after I got home, I sat and prayed about it all. The Lord showed me 2 Corinthians 1: 3-5. Paul wrote this to congregation in Corinth, and to believers all over Achaia province. Therefore, it is for us.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows (NIV).

Another way to say it:
“ God comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too”. (Eugene Peterson, The Message)

The obvious answer to our question is, “Yes!”. Yes, indeed, God can use us anywhere, anytime, under any circumstance. Simply be available. Let God do the rest.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Fear Was My Giant

                                                 Written by Joann

Hard to believe that a parent can become a “giant” but they can. Maybe it’s not them directly but the situations concerning them. My giant reared it’s ugly head when this fall I suddenly was responsible for my father’s finances, assisted living care and well-being.

In a matter of a few hours, fear gripped me and stood before me as a giant of huge pro-portions. My whole life began to revolve around this fear. I was afraid of phone calls, especially if the area code started with 517. Even mail delivery became a source of dread, what new crisis would arrive that would need my attention to resolve.

God’s Word says not to fear or fret about anything, but my days were consumed with both fretting and fear. My mind raced ahead to all the “what ifs”.

Then, I was reminded of young David in the Bible and his giant, Goliath. Like a light bulb going off in my head it opened my eyes. I had made this whole situation a giant! My God was bigger than my circumstances, more powerful and able to smack this giant down. Be-sides, He loved and cared for my dad and would help me do what was best for him.

When I handed this giant over to the Lord, all fear and dread were demolished, I was free. At times, the giant tries to rise again; it is very slick and knows how to stir up the old fears. But, I know my God, His power, and I quickly turn it over to Him. In God’s hands, this giant fades away to nothing.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Facing Any Giants? Part 4

The following days I noticed a peace I hadn’t had for a very long time.

My husband and I went in, as scheduled for my fifth chemo treatment ready to tell the doctor I didn’t want another treatment. The doctor came in with the test results of the PET scan. He sat down and said I was all clear of any cancer after only four treatments.

We cried and thanked the Lord Jesus Christ for healing me. We praised Him for a few minutes before we gained our composure. There was no necessity to have that fifth treatment, but the doctor wanted me to have it for “good measure”. I did, but praised God the whole time.

We thanked the church and all our friends for praying.  We have people in our church dealing with cancer and other illnesses and I struggle when others are not healed. I'm embarrassed to talk about my healing. But I praise and thank God that He healed me. 

I do not have any answers why some are healed and some are not. I do not have any formulas. God is not a respecter of persons! I am not special!!

I just know, in my particular case, the giant I was focusing on had a lot to do with my cancer and slaying him and focusing back on Jesus, had everything to do with healing my cancer. 

The peace and joy I have is from keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus who has the power to slay giants. I do not want to allow anything to become a giant in my life again. We allow our feelings and situations to become giants when we take our eyes off Jesus and His power.

What are the giants in your life?

They come in many forms: fear, worry, anxiety, stress, depression, loss, alienation, relationships, finances, our habits, habits of others with whom we live. Any little or big thing can become a giant “if we” let it.

When Goliath and the other Philistines lined up, they cast a shadow of fear over the Israelites. Remember, “On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified”.

Doesn’t that describe a lot of us in many situations? The enemy will use anything to keep our eyes off the Lord. He knows God is the only one with the power to fix the situation.

Remember also, Goliath threatened them for forty days. The enemy is relentless. Every day things happen that want to throw us for a loop. And, sometimes they do. But, we simply need to choose day to day, moment by moment to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus instead of the situation.

We do not need to remain afraid or stay discouraged for long. Two things we can do. In the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ we can:

1) Slay the giants we face.
2) Refuse any new giants.

It is important that we remember:
...we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12, NLT).

Isaiah 26:3 says, “He will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusts in You”.

This is God’s promise. We believe. We trust. We have God’s peace that passes all understanding.

Blessings, Pat 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Facing Any Giants? Part 3

I went to 1 Samuel 17 and read the story. Goliath was 9 feet 9 inches tall. He was quite intimating and that is exactly what he wanted to be to the Israelites. Many of you might be familiar with this story.

“Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.” Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified” .

Verse 16 said, “For forty days the Philistine came forward every morning and evening and took his stand”. But then came David, who said to Goliath, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” (verse 45)

All David had was a slingshot and five stones. He slung one stone and it took Goliath down. It wasn’t the stone that killed the giant, it was the power of the Lord.

So, I told that giant in my life, “in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Heaven, you are coming down!” I threw a spiritual stone at him—The Word of God and he came down.  Praise the Lord!

Part 4, the conclusion continues tomorrow.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Facing Any Giants? Part 2

Before the fourth treatment I was looking at the schedule for my chemo and realized they hadn’t given me a date for the fifth treatment. I asked the scheduling nurse and she said, she didn’t know why they hadn’t scheduled it and that it was an oversight. She would have to check into it. I needed to know, because before each treatment I needed to have a blood work done to make sure I could handle the chemo.

When she didn’t have it, I started thinking maybe the Lord had healed me. So, during the fourth treatment, the nurses and I were kidding around and I said something about not needing anymore treatments because they weren’t scheduled. Of course they laughed and disagreed. I didn’t know why, but seriously something (someone) was telling me that I wouldn’t need any more.

After the treatment, I went home to let it do its thing. I just kept wondering about the “coincidence” that they had not scheduled more. I called and asked them if they could schedule a PET scan before the next treatment. They agreed that was a reasonable request.

So, a week before they scheduled my “fifth” treatment, I went in for a PET scan. The results should be in the day of my fifth treatment and I would get them then.

That same week, during my regular quiet time with the Lord, He showed me something that changed my life.

He brought the story of David and Goliath to mind. I didn’t have to wonder why for long. I had been struggling with a situation for nine years with no resolve. I had become anxious and angry and it was eating me up inside because I couldn’t fix it.

Lovingly, God said, “You have allowed the situation to become a giant and when you did that, you diminished my power in the situation.”

Ouch! He was absolutely right! Of course God is always right. Why hadn’t I realized that truth? I felt horrible. I had grieved the Holy Spirit for focusing on the situation, instead of letting Jesus deal with it. I diminished the Lord’s power.

I repented for three days. Not because of condemnation, but because I felt so bad I had allowed it. Then the Lord showed me what to do.

Part 3 continues tomorrow.

God is faithful,