Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Even the winds and the water obey Him!

When I visited Israel one of my favorite places was the Sea of Galilee.  The water is a beautiful bluish green, and the day that we went out on it by boat the water was smooth and glassy.  It brought to mind the story from Luke Chapter 8...

Jesus had said to His disciples that He wanted to cross to the other side.  This was in the daytime and several of them were former fishermen, so I'm sure they would have sensed if the weather wasn't good to be out on the water.  I imagine it might have been like the day I was there; bright sunlight shining down, a gently breeze blowing, and good friends enjoying fellowship as they sailed across the calm water.  Jesus curled up and fell asleep as they went.

Suddenly a squall came down, so furious that the boat was being filled with water from the waves.  They took on so much water that they were in danger of sinking.  The disciples were terrified and woke Jesus.
"Master, Master, we're going to drown!" they yelled above the noise of the storm.  It must have been a terrific storm that the experienced fishermen among them were so afraid.

Jesus stood up and rebuked the wind and violent water and the storm stopped at His command.  Once again the water was calm and peaceful.  Then He turned to His disciples.  "Where is your faith?" He asked them...Luke 8:25
I can only imagine what the disciples felt at that moment.  They'd seen Him do many mighty miracles.  They'd seen Him heal the sick and blind.  They'd seen Him raise the widow's son back to life!  But to see Him command the elements amazed them.  It even scared them.  ...they asked each other, "Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him."- Luke 8:25

It's interesting that Jesus asked them about their faith.  Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.- Hebrews 11:1
What did Jesus expect them to be sure of and certain of?
Perhaps that being Messiah, He would not perish by drowning in a boat...which told Him that they were still not understanding that He was Messiah.
Peter was the first to understand.  In Luke 9, while Jesus was praying privately He asked His disciples who the crowds thought He was.  They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life."
"But what about you?" He asked.  "Who do you say I am?"
Peter answered, "The Christ of God."  Jesus warned them not to tell this to anyone.- Luke 10:19-21

Eight days after this the transfiguration took place in front of Peter, John, and James which would have removed any remaining doubts any of them may have had, you would think.  But after the resurrection, Thomas didn't believe Jesus had risen until he was able to put his fingers in the holes in Jesus' hands and the gash in His side.  Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen Me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."- John 20:29

So you and I, my believing friends, are blessed indeed!
May God bless and keep you.

Give Me Faith by Elevation Worship    

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Just a little poem from my heart

Down on my knees again...Lord, I want to get it right
All I want is to follow you
And reflect your brilliant Light
Won't You mold me like a lump of clay
Refine me in the fire, too
Until I become the vessel you want me to be
So I may serve You in all I do
Please pour Your Spirit out fresh on me
And give me Your words to say
Guide my steps and open my eyes
With each person I connect with today
Father, I thank you for your everlasting love
For the peace and joy You freely give
As I go about my day, let me reflect You in how I live...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Hello, my name is....

I just had to share this video with you!  It's as though it was written just for me; maybe you can relate to it too.  No matter what our past holds, through forgiveness we become a child of the One True King.  How amazing is that!  I hope you'll enjoy the message of the song as much as I have.  To become a new creation is a great and wonderful gift....

And in our new life, we grow from taking our first steps of faith, continually growing.  This Sunday my pastor spoke on maturing in Christ, and he said something pretty interesting.  He said that who we are inside is more important than what we do.  At first this seems puzzling, but he explained that if who we are on the inside is a person following the Lord with the whole heart, then the actions will follow.  When we love God with our whole heart, soul, and mind we don't want to engage in sin.  When we are filled with His Holy Spirit, our lives will be full of that fruit:

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.  For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. -Galatians 5:14

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. - Galatians 5:22-25

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness....this is the kind of person I want to be, and it is the Holy Spirit within me that draws these characteristics out more than I am able to show them in my own strength.  On my own, I am a miserable sinner; but by God's grace and Spirit, I can say in all humbleness that I am a child of the One True King...with LOTS of room to grow.  As long as we're here drawing breath we have issues to work on and a reason for being here.  But it's an awesome journey, isn't it?

Wishing you all many blessings in our Father :)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Magdalene Hope: reaching the women working the streets

Ah, today is a much better day.  Still somewhat swollen, but I'm looking forward to going to ministry tonight.

I belong to a ministry called Magdalene Hope.  Every other Friday night the team goes out and ministers to the women who work in the commercial sex trade.  There are a few areas where they can usually be found and we travel in teams by car, giving out gift bags, food, and whatever else we may have.  Within the gift bags we put a card with phone numbers, including ours, that they can call any day or time for help along with a CD of Christian music, personal care products, cosmetics, hair products, toiletries and whatever else has been donated.

This lets us make contact and gives us a chance to reach out with God's love.  It's so important that these women know that God loves and values them.  No matter where they are in their life, He still has a plan and a purpose for them.   We will soon have a safe house that we will be able to take them to, but for now we have a shelter that keeps a few beds open for them in case we come across someone who wants out now.

Will you keep this ministry in prayer?  Before we go out we spend much time preparing the way through prayer and worship, and I know that it makes a difference.  We pray for His guidance as we drive the area, and that the Lord will go before us and soften their hearts to receive His Spirit and love.  We often pray with these women right on the street.  They are starving for love and light.

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for Me."- Matthew 25:40  (Jesus speaking)

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.  And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.  Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.  Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.  Let your conversation be always seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. - Colossians 4:2-6  (Paul speaking)

These scriptures are appropriate to ministries everywhere.  As our Lord's body here on earth, I pray that He will use our hands, feet and speech to reach out to the hurting world all around us, not forgetting those that society often judges as beyond help.

There is nothing our Father can't do!  After all, He saved me and turned my life upside down....no, make that right side up.              
Father, I pray that we will see people through Your eyes with Your compassion and love.  In Jesus' name, amen.

Wishing you all blessings :)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A little about my illness and how God has used it for good

I'm sorry it's been so long since I've posted; I returned from my son and daughter-in-laws home late last week but have been dealing with a lot of my chronic health issues popping their annoying symptoms up both during the trip and since I've been back.  
Yesterday I read someone's blog who had the courage to discuss his medical issues, and though I mention briefly in my profile what I have, I realize that most people probably don't read that.
So, what's wrong with me?

It's called gastroparesis syndrome and is caused by damage to the vagus nerve, which affects stomach emptying.  When my stomach doesn't empty, it swells to enormous proportions and many times I am asked by strangers when my baby is due.  Since my case is severe, I have been lucky enough to have a tube placed that rests inside my stomach and sticks out about six inches on the outside.  It has a cap that I can remove and everything inside can come out, releasing the pressure.  It has kept me out of the hospital quite a bit, because before they implanted the tube I had to go to the hospital and have one inserted into my nose, down the throat, and into the stomach.  Either tube can then be attached to suction and I am not allowed to eat or drink until the episode has passed.  Usually once the stomach has adequate time to rest, it will start working again, though mine is always slow.

Now, with my own tube, I rarely go in.  I can relieve the pressure myself, but I have to wait until my stomach is functioning better to eat or drink.  During these times I try to sip an electrolyte drink so that I don't dehydrate.  It's a very fine line that I walk.
But the worst part of this illness is that at times, my stomach will reject anything in it, including the secretions it normally makes.  For the first five or six years of this, these episodes went on for days to weeks and required IV fluids.  Over the last five years, these episodes have decreased but still occur with no warning.  The morning going into Easter I had the worst episode of this that I can remember in a long time. It luckily stopped by morning but it weakened me to where I was barely able to walk.
At present, I have been swollen to the max since my return and have been on a very restricted liquid diet waiting for it to pass.  So, I've been so very tired.

So.  It begs the question: Why me?  I want to spread the message of my Savior and God's love.

A better question is:  Why not me? What can I learn from my situation that applies to the above?

I've always been compassionate, but I've learned it now at a deeper level.

I know what pain is, and I have strengthened my bond with my Lord through this.  Sometimes,
in the dark of the night when I'm in pain, He is all there is.   And He is sufficient for all my needs.
I've learned patience.   Well, okay, to a degree.   I'm a person who wants to jump in and get it done, but when my body will not cooperate, I must wait.  I still have a ways to go with patience.  But what better way for my Lord to teach it to me?
If I were still working 12 hour shifts as nurse I wouldn't have the time I do now to develop my relationship with my Lord and become involved in ministries.  Sure, I miss my old life....I still work in my sleep, all these years later...but God stopped me in my tracks because now I'm meant to do something else.  

The trials of this world mold and shape our character either for the better or for the worse.  As long as I keep my relationship with my Father strong, He will use this to mold and shape me into the woman He wants me to be.

Life is not about reaching MY goals.   It is about reaching HIS.   He has a plan and a purpose that He created me for, and He will surely bring it about as long as I stay in His will.

All I can do is follow and trust, and let Him do the molding; and I am certain that He is.

He has a plan and purpose for you, too.  No matter how hopeless life may seem, when you surrender to Him, He will change everything.   No life is hopeless or worthless when given to God.  He changes us from the inside out.   Wishing you all blessings in our Lord and Savior.