My spiritual journey: moments of clarity, ponderings, and vast irritations

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Say What?!?!?!?!

It was literally out of nowhere. I was just minding my own business sitting on the couch at prayer meeting snuggling with baby Megs. I didn't bring my Bible because I knew I'd be holding the baby, and wouldn't want to have something else to keep track of. I came expecting Jesus to do something amazing, but this was not what I had in mind.

As the Bible study portion of the evening began, one of the gentlemen there began passing out Bibles to those who needed one. Did I look like I needed one sitting there with my arms wrapped tightly around my little one? I guess I did, because next thing I know he handed me one.

I stared at it for a moment and then figured I might as well use it, so as not to offend. "Turn with me if you would like to Matthew 9:35," Terry said. Okay, I suppose I will. This being healing prayer, I was not surprised at the verse choice.

"And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction." (ESV)

That was Jesus alright! He was a regular healing ministry. Would have been fantastic to see that! Would have been amazing to experience that! Wow!

And that should have been it. Terry continued on with his notes, but for some reason my eyes lingered in Matthew 9...

After reading/hearing a passage of Scripture a thousand times plus, you would think I'd have 100% understanding of it; that there would be nothing left for the Holy Spirit to reveal to me. Right? WRONG!
Apparently the Spirit still has things to teach me... who would have thought??

Let's look at 9:35 again, but pay attention to the verses that follow (context!)

35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest." (ESV)

What's this? Here we have one of the most well used verses of the great commission. Missionary after missionary has preached on needing laborers in the field. There's even the song that I have heard sung so many times, "My house is full, but my field is empty... who will go and work in my field." Jesus had compassion on this world of people lost, and on their way to hell. Jesus' only prayer request was for soul winners - missionaries. Get 'em saved, teach 'em and baptize 'em... end of story.

Ummm... not really! Context!!! He's not just talking about the state of their souls, he's also talking about healing their physical and emotional being! He has just spent all of chapter 8 and all of chapter 9 healing everyone with sickness and disease, and cleansing all of those who were possessed of demons. Now he looks out and sees these multitudes of sick, oppressed people and says, "If only I had more people to heal them all!" Wow! Now, I'm not saying that his only goal was physical and emotional healing, for that would be heresy. "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." Luke 19:10 (KJV) But what I am saying is that the kingdom that Jesus preached was soo much more than I ever realized!

Not sure you agree with me? Let's keep reading. Chapter 10 of Matthew starts out with Jesus giving authority to the 12 apostles to do what?

"And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction." (ESV)

And then the commission:

"proclaim as you go, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons." (ESV)

I have heard people say that this giving of authority to the apostles was a one time thing, having nothing to do with us. It was after all meant for 'the lost sheep of the house of Israel' (10:6 ESV) and not the Gentiles. If so, then we have no business pulling the harvest verse out and applying it to Matthew 28:18-20, and Jesus' only prayer request has nothing to do with us!!! OOPS!

This could not be more wrong! In Luke 10:1-17 Jesus then sends out 70 with the same authority and the same message. One could still think that this kingdom message was only to the Jews, except for Matthew 24:14

"And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." (ESV)

What gospel? The gospel that Jesus preached! What kingdom? Well, it's been called the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven, but it's one and the same... It's Jesus' kingdom! It's Jesus' gospel! It's not just the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, although that is indeed the pure gospel (I Cor 15:1-4), it's also the miracle power of God giving us authority over sicknesses and disease. Sound kooky to you? What does the great commission verse of Matthew 28 say?

"ALL POWER IS GIVEN UNTO ME," therefore, go and teach and preach the gospel.

What good is the gospel of Christ without the power of the Holy Spirit? We are mere men. We can preach the gospel until we are blue in the face, but without that power and authority there will be no change in the hearts of men. Period. It would be better if angels came and preached, or if Jesus himself had remained on earth after the resurrection and continued his kingdom ministry.

And what exactly did Jesus give us power and authority for? Healing, raising the dead and casting out demons. Hmmm... Makes you think, doesn't it?

"And these signs shall follow them that believe" Mark 16:17 (KJV)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Eyebrow Waxing

Terrifyingly bushy eyebrows - this is a recurring problem for me. I am terrible at brow maintenance. I hate it. I despise it. I would rather be stung by a bee than pluck/wax my eyebrows. (not that I enjoy being stung, for I do not... however I rarely get stung anyway, unless I step on one... I'm one of those bee charmer people... oh, sorry that's another story) There is something about that feeling as I stare into the mirror and rip out my own hair that just turns my stomach miserably! First tears well up in my eyes, then there is a slight twinge in my stomach followed by a mild churning. Before long I am so sick I have to lie down for a while. I am quite unable to finish both brows in one sitting, and often times I can't even finish one. Forget tweezing strays every day or so. It just doesn't happen. So most of the time I go simply ages between brow care.
Want to know the strange part though? I enjoy having someone else do my brows for me! I actually find it quite relaxing! I lie back in the chair, rest my head on the towel, and for a few moments someone else does a chore that I dread! And it doesn't make me the slightest bit queasy! In fact, I look forward to getting them done! It's the craziest thing! Waxing or tweezing? Not a problem if another person is in charge. I should just schedule regular appointments and avoid the bushy monster eyes altogether!
So what does this have to do with my desire to grow in Christ? Must everything have a spiritual application? Can't I just write about my quirky eyebrow issues?
Okay, you know me too well! Yes, there is a point to all of this! How many times do I have that something in my life that has to be done on a regular basis... and I dread it. In fact, I dread it so much it makes me nauseated. My stomach starts to hurt, I need to lie down for awhile. I put it off for weeks and weeks because I don't want to even think about how miserable it makes me... But why? Why do I suffer for so long when all I have to do is phone up Jesus and give it over to him? It's silly. I know I'm no good at it, I know it will make me stressed and crazy, and still I try it on my own. I know that if I let him take care of everything that everything will go seamlessly while I lie back and rest in his arms. It's soo foolish to think that maybe I should give it a go one more time... perhaps this time it will be okay... It never fails that I just end up frustrated and ready to quit. If only my first thought was, "I know this guy who's like absolutely amazing at doing this! He never fails to get it right. He never makes me feel uneasy, and never hurts me. In fact, he's soo gentle with me that I could fall asleep while he works! It's sooo relaxing going to see him... just like a day at the spa! I leave feeling like a new woman! He always does a fantastic job!"
So instead of me trying to do my daily spiritual maintenance... I need to let Jesus take care of it all! He's the best there is in the biz!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Not I But Christ

Here I am wide awake while all the rest of the house sleeps. I've been up for a couple hours now. I've played games, checked my facebook, and even taken a shower, and still my mind will not quiet down! So I began to pray. Okay God... I'm awake. What's up? My mind quickly wandered to different things, and I found that what I was most focused on was my upcoming audition for the worship team at church. I'm really kinda nervous about it! What to play, what to sing... should I sing? Maybe I should just do the keys. Will I be able to perform the song they give me? Am I going to practice the song they already sent me enough. Will I choose the right hymn to sing acapella? Should I do a song that I've written, and if so which one is the best? Will I pass the audition? Am I good enough.... blah, blah, blah, blah, blah! My mind wouldn't shut up! And then it hit me! I should not be auditioning! I am not good enough to do it! My talents are nothing! I have every reason in the world to worry, stress and freak out! Unless...... I remember WHO gave me the talent. Jesus is the giver of my gifts and talents! And would he give me something and then leave me to handle it all by myself? No way! He is working through me to use those things he has bestowed. Jesus will be auditioning next week, Jesus will choose the songs, Jesus will decide if I sing and play or just play. Jesus will cause my talent to shine or not. It's all up to him. I am just the vessel ready and waiting to be used. I desire to worship him in music more than anything in the world... He knows that, and is waiting for me to ask him to take over! So, Jesus, will you take care of things for me? I'm afraid and feel less than confidant in myself, but I can trust in you! You who gave the psalmist the words to write, you who gave the angels voices to sing, you who delight over us with singing, you the creator of all music, you who placed in me a new song and a desire to sing and write for you... You can do this! So, here and now I put my voice, fingers and mind into your capable hands. I will now rest in peace knowing it's all under control! You led me to sign up for the audition, you will perform the audition, and you will hand me the results! (So, could you please do an awesome job and give me the thumbs up?)

Monday, October 5, 2009

I'm Forgiven by Sanctus Real

Amazing song! So true! Makes me cry and want to shout at the same time! Goosebumps!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Chastisement of our Peace

Isaiah 53:5 KJV
But he [was] wounded for our transgressions, [he was] bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace [was] upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
Learned something for the first time at prayer meeting Thursday... As many times as I have read this verse, I never pondered the significance of the chastisement of our peace being upon Jesus. Sure, he shed his blood for our sins, and his body was beaten so that we could have physical healing, but what does it mean when it says the chastisement of our peace was upon him?
He not only died so that we could be redeemed, and so that we could have healing, but also so that we could have peace... not only peace with God, but peace of mind! He rebuked that which kept us from being at peace. In the Hebrew this word peace has many different meanings which I will list here:

1) completeness, soundness, welfare, peace

a) completeness (in number)

b) safety, soundness (in body)

c) welfare, health, prosperity

d) peace, quiet, tranquillity, contentment

e) peace, friendship

1) of human relationships

2) with God especially in covenant relationship

f) peace (from war)

g) peace (as adjective)

It is interesting to me that completeness and soundness are the first two definitions listed. After we are saved we are given the mind of Christ! We are given the keys to freedom from the prison of anxieties, worries, stress, and all mental disorders! He has completed us in Christ and given us a sound mind! I wish I'd realized all this back when I was in therapy! I've always thought of peace in other aspects such as our restored relationship with the Father, our ability to get along with others, and the millennial kingdom when Jesus sits on the throne and the lion and the lamb lie together. Funny, I have talked of wanting some peace of mind, and even talked about renewing my mind in the Word... but never stopped to think that all of that is part of Christ's finished work on the cross! Maybe I'm the only one, but I thought I'd share that. I never connected those dots! How are we to be given the mind of Christ, how are we to have that sound mind absent of fear, how can we possibly renew our minds in the Word of God if Christ had not made a way for it?? All gifts that the Father gives are a result of the Son's death, burial and resurrection! WOW! Just gives me renewed faith to be healed of all this depression and mood swing junk I've dealt with for so long.

Spiritual Disorders Part 2

Ever been mountain climbing? Well, I haven't, but I've watched those national geographic shows about it. Imagine you are climbing Mt. Everest. You are making amazingly fast time and are set to make a world record for length of time to reach the peak. After scaling sheer cliffs, crossing vast glaciers, surviving avalanches and terrible weather, you reach a small boulder. "AAAAHH!" you shriek. "A boulder! I can't get over that boulder! I need to quit right now!! Time to turn back team. This obstacle is just too much for me. I'm done. I will never reach the top." That would be so silly, wouldn't it? I laugh to myself as I imaging the whole team descending the mountain over a rock when they had overcome much greater obstacles that that before. And yet....
How many times in my walk with Christ have I been scaling the heights in Him... flying high! I knew I was victorious, I knew things were going to be okay. The trial may have been enormous, but in Christ I was more than a conqueror! And then a small hurdle was placed in my way... "OH NO! God has forgotten me! How could he do that? We were doing so well... the end was in sight, and now this? How could he do this to me?" And in that instance like Peter the waves become greater than faith in the Saviour.
I call this Spiritual Attention Deficit Disorder. Satan LOVES to use this one. He realizes that our faith is strong, and he can't stop us by using that huge thing he places in our path; so he places tiny nuisances along the way. It's kinda like the straw that broke the camels back! Oh, how we get soooo focused on the little things! "I'm getting the victory! Oh... look! there's a puddle in my way!" And suddenly that 'puddle' becomes the most important thing in the world to you... until the next little thing, and the next little thing. And suddenly we melt in a pile of anxiety and worry and depression because we are completely unable to stay focused on what the battle really is about!
My most recent SADD moment (Lol! sadd!) began last week. I have terribly weak ankles due to bad bone structure. Every time I gain weight from a pregnancy they get worse. After having Meagan in July, they reached a pain level I have never experienced before. I felt like I was walking on tooth picks. SCARY! I worried that I would drop Baby Megs at any moment. On top of all this, my insurance ran out. Both ankles needed surgery, and that's a total of 6 months recovery time. Impossible with 3 kids and a husband working, besides the fact that there is no way we could ever afford it. Our new church has healing prayer on Thursday nights, and I got to thinking that it wouldn't hurt anything to ask God to heal them.... why not? So I went (Aug 24). I was prayed over. God brought to light some things I needed to deal with in order to receive healing, and the elders prayed for that too. (another story!) I left that service on cloud 9! My ankles still hurt, but I KNEW God was doing something. Friday and Saturday were amazing days. My faith was soo strong. I was going about my day with so much joy that I hardly even noticed my ankle pain. Then Sunday came... that afternoon we were going to the mall, but the boys wanted to go to the park. Everybody changed plans on me. I was ticked. I grudgingly went along with them, but I wasn't going to like it! They played for a while, and I persuaded Chris to take us to the mall... only to remember that they close early on Sundays. Now I was ANGRY! The only thing I wanted to do that day and I didn't get to. I was so focused on this little thing that I remembered how bad my ankle pain was. I started to doubt what God was doing in my life, and I let my attitude show it. I realized what was going on that evening and renewed my faith in our evening devotional time.
So... now I'm on track, right? Not for long... I had a repeat of this on Tuesday because I had a long wait at an appointment. (It sure doesn't take much for me to lose focus on Jesus! lol) That was easily overcome with a trip to the mall, a Starbucks caramel frappuccino, iced lemon pound cake, and an apology to God and my husband (who I had hung up on several times that morning in frustration!), but it could have been avoided.
Backing up a bit, I have had a cold for the last three weeks or so... nothing too bad, just irritating. I woke up at around 2 o'clock in the morning Thursday (Oct. 1) and that cold had changed to bronchitis. YUCK! I knew the only way to beat it was antibiotics, but I no longer had insurance. I moped all day. My ankles killed me, I was depressed, I was upset. If God couldn't keep me well, how could he heal my ankles? I heard this voice in my head saying that the bronchitis was an obstacle Satan was throwing at me to try to steal my faith, but I ignored it. I made a choice NOT to go to prayer meeting that night. I was just going to go to bed and take care of myself since God couldn't.
Long story short, I ended up at prayer meeting.... and they prayed for me again. As one of the elders prayed for my ankles he looked up at me and said, "God wants you to know that this bronchitis is an attack of Satan trying to sidetrack you from what God is doing in you." WOW! funny... I guess I should have listened to that voice earlier in the day! They prayed for the bronchitis to leave me, and I left that meeting with my joy restored! The awesome thing in this is Friday morning I woke up and the bronchitis was GONE! I can breathe normally again! I have some residual coughing and runny nose, but it's all loose. I've never gotten better from bronchitis without meds! And that quickly?! God is good!
So, what in the world is wrong with me? God is faithful! Christ himself lives in me, and it should be soooo easy to focus on him 100% of the time! Shouldn't it? Why do all these little obstacles so quickly steal my undivided attention?
I am reminded of my conversation with Jessica the other day.... It's gaps in my conscious. My heart and head KNOW who I am in Christ, that my faith comes from Christ, that my victory comes from Christ, that all that I am comes from Christ... but sometimes my mind plays tricks on me. There are these little places in my mind that still have that old programming. Those little 'gaps' think that my faith is from me, that victory is up to me, and that I have to figure things out for myself. WRONGO! But those are the places Satan most likes to attack! He knows my weaknesses. All he has to do is figure out those areas and throw something in my path, and BAM! I forget the way of grace and walk in disgrace! As I said yesterday in Part 1, the only way to fix this is renewing my mind in the Word, reminding myself of my spiritual REALITY, and claiming authority over Satan. He has no business messing with a child of God! And I will be able to quench all his fiery darts in Jesus Christ as I immerse myself in his Word.
:) Here's to victory over Spiritual ADD!!!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Spiritual Disorders, Part 1

The other day I was talking to Jessica and said that I should change my facebook status to 'spiritually bipolar.' I was joking, of course... and yet... Why is it that I can have this super duper amazing spiritual high and then the very next day, or sometimes even hours later, I can be down in the spiritual dregs, moping and griping about God? It's crazy. It's insane! It's Spiritual Bipolar Disorder!
What exactly is Spiritual Bipolar Disorder? Well, it's kinda like this... I am saved by grace! I have a new nature! My old yucky grouchy self is dead, and a new Jesus self has been placed in me. I am righteous before God, and as such have victory all the time! But I live in the world... I have memories and habits of that wretched person that I used to be. I still sometimes view God through the lenses of my past. The problem? That me I remember no longer exists. I know that God isn't the big scary guy waiting to punish me and laugh at me every time I screw up. But sometimes my physical reality doesn't seem to mesh with my BIG 'R' spiritual REALITY. So, sometimes I am WAY up because I am focused on exactly how awesome and spectacular Jesus is and how amazing and spectacular I am as a result of what he has done in me, but sometimes I drop my eyes down here and listen to that little voice that says I'm scum, abundant life is a giant scam, there will never be victory over the trials, there are WAY TOO MANY trials, and I will never amount to anything spiritually.
That nasty little voice in my head is a LIAR! Jesus doesn't think those thoughts about my life; his thoughts are good thoughts! His thoughts are leading me to a beautiful place! His thoughts are making me into the image of himself! No, these thoughts are the whispers of Satan, who would have me to forget who I am in Christ and remember who I was before salvation. He wants me to FAIL. He can't take my salvation, but he can steal my joy, my victory, and do his darndest to steal my identity.
That's where the spiritual bipolar comes in... there are days when I am so confident in my identity in Christ that nothing can stop me!!! I am flying high in Christ and everyone's going to hear about it! Then there are days when it seems to me that I hit the ground with a giant thud like Wile Coyote and I will never find my way out of the hole that I've made for myself. Instead of jumping up and brushing off the dust, laughing at Satan's attempts and taking off again, I linger on my seeming failure. I get sad. I get grumpy. I get angry. I blame God. I have a giant pity party. I whine to everyone I can think of. WRONG MOVE! In Christ I cannot fall, I cannot fail! In Christ all is well! As the song writer said, It is well with my soul! There is 100% victory in Christ Jesus! There is no reason for this spiritual bipolar disorder to control my life! I am FREE!
What then is the cure for this? Well, first off I must submerge myself in the truths of WHO I AM! Who I REALLY am!
I am a daughter of the King! I am blameless, beautiful and spotless in the eyes of God... Full of HIS righteousness! I am bought with a price far greater than any price ever paid, as I am viewed as the most precious of jewels by my Saviour! I have been chosen to be the bride of the very Son of God, and He delights in me with joy and singing! I am loved, cherished, and treasured by my Jesus! ♥
Going hand in hand with this first step is renewing my mind in the Word. Day by day as I fill myself up with God-thoughts I will gradually find that my old life is forgotten - erased from my mind - those old habits have faded away. Finally I must exercise my authority over Satan and tell him to get out!!! Tell him his lies have no power here! Nothing that he whispers to me can EVER change what Christ has done in me! No fake physical reality that he flashes before my eyes can change what I am and where I am! I am seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, and nothing or nobody can pull me down! It's done! Finished!
Will I ever be 100% free of spiritual bipolar disorder? In Christ, I believe it will happen one day!!! Maybe I will never see it on earth, but the day that Christ comes to take me home I will be transformed in an instant to that body that has absolutely NO traces of memories, habits and crud that have been picked up on this earth! I will spend eternity basking in Jesus and who he has made me to be!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

In a Place I Never Expected!

So, here we are in Westerville, OH. WOW! I really had begun to believe we were going to live in Northeast Ohio forever! I was planning on raising my kids there... watching them get married there... Funny how the second you accept your life the way it is, God reaches down and mixes things up!
So, we get the call from James asking Chris to come work for him. He had asked before, but it had never felt right; never had that God touch on it. This time both of us just KNEW! Of course we prayed about it a bit, spoke to some of our most trusted spiritual counselors... but we knew what the decision was going to be.
It was a quick move! God's hand was all over it in every detail, even in finding the apartment. I had this whole list of places to check out, and none of them were working. Then one apartment manager sat down with us and gave us the lay of the land! She directed us to Lake Forest Apts, which was not on my list due to price. We felt it was of God and came here and ended up with an apartment! They worked with us, James gave us the raise we needed to pay for it, and BAM we had a place to live!
Living in Westerville... It's amazing! I love it here. There are so many things to do, so many conveniences close by. I think it will be awhile before boredom sets in! LOL We are close to Easton Mall, Polaris Mall, and hundreds of little plazas. Right across the street is a Krogers; it's close enough to walk to!! I can't believe how many parks there are around here! We've visited a handful of them, and they are all fantastic! The kids favorite is Huber Village Park which is like a giant castle! We also enjoy going to the Hoover Dam. Of course, now that bad weather is on it's way, there is always the Zoo Park at Polaris Mall; another kid favorite!
This doesn't even touch all the things to do in downtown Columbus. We have already been to the museum of art, but still need to check out Cosi and the Columbus Zoo. Aidan and Evan keep reminding me that I told them there is a zoo here... "Mommy, where is the zoo? I haven't seen the zoo yet. When are we going to the zoo?"
God directed us to an awesome church down here! It's Heritage Chrisitian Church. He's speaking to us every service! They have 4 weekend services, and we like to go to the 5:00 Saturday service before they've 'practiced' a bunch of times! LOL We also went to their healing prayer service last Thursday. AWESOME! We'd like to make it a weekly thing. It's not a kooky freaky thing... just the elders of the church practicing and believing James 5! ;) The Holy Spirit Power is amazing!
Well, I could go on and on and on... but I just want to say that I am SOO thankful that God directed us here. It's the best thing that ever happened to us. We are growing closer and closer as husband and wife, and as a family. We only have each other right now, and each other is our number one priority! We are also drawing closer to God in this. He knew just what he was doing, for sure!
Oh, and of course college is on hold right now! We took the step of obedience in enrolling, and God then decided to show us what he wanted us to do! We will most likely enroll somewhere down here next fall, once we are really settled in and adjusted. Unless God chooses to do something else!