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Note as of April, 2014: Hello All! I am consolidating my writings into a new blog- Walking in Wholeness: Insights into God, Medicine and Healing. I will no longer be posting to this blog, so I invite you to subscribe to the new one! Thanks and God bless

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Stewarding the Seed to Get the Oak Tree

I wish I had been more coherent for the Voice of the Apostles conference which I just attended in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Long flights, drives and days, along with six thousand souls packed into an auditorium, contributed to the event being a little too much for my body and brain.

Although I was extremely fatigued and sleep-deprived throughout most of the conference, I've yet decided that the jetlag, tiredness, back pain, and now-the "aftermath head cold"- have been worth it. Because not only did I witness over a thousand miracle healings at this amazing conference, but God dissolved a chunk of long-standing despair in my soul, which had been leaning a little too long towards the lies of this world.

I need to attend events like this once in a while, so that I can be reminded of who God is for me and what He intends for my life. I think we all do, because life has a way of pulling us away from God's truths and into our navels.

I don't have the stamina tonight to put into words all that inspired me at VOA, although in the days to come I may post more about the conference and the rich tidbits of wisdom that I acquired from it. For now, I want to share one vital truth which encouraged me, in the hopes that it will encourage you, too.

God has a great plan for all of our lives, yet we sometimes miss it because we forget that great projects, works and relationships start out as little seeds of promise. God doesn't give us immense oak trees right away, but many of us, in our anxious desire to see the seeds that He has given us become trees, drop those seeds without watering them.

Pastor Bill Johnson, one of the speakers at VOA, noted that we must steward the seeds that God has given us, if we want to see those seeds become trees. That means being willing to step out in faith in the small things and obey what He asks us to do, so that the promises He has given us: in Scripture, through prophecy and in our personal time with Him, get fulfilled.

Great projects, prosperous relationships, and even miraculous healings, are the result of taking tiny steps of obedience towards a larger goal. And this is usually the way that God's amazing plans for us manifest. Through baby steps.

Yet these steps aren't the result of anxious striving and fighting to believe God for the fulfillment of His promises. They come from faith, which is birthed, as Bill Johnson mentioned, out of rest and surrender. When we fight, we lose. When we spend time with the One who loves us eternally and unconditionally, and live out of His presence, faith is the byproduct. Obedience results from faith, and from obedience comes the manifestation of God's plan for our lives.

Rodney Hogue, another pastor at VOA, noted that when we bypass the process of being children before God (by not doing anything for Him, but simply receiving from Him) our obedience towards Him becomes performance-oriented. When we attempt to fulfill our dreams out of a performance-oriented mindset, we get burned out, tired and fail to receive all that God has for us.

Self-effort cannot accomplish God's plan for our lives. We may achieve great things and be able to help many people, but our lives will yet be inferior products of performance, rather than a powerful manifestation of His Spirit working through us.

Nobody lives within the realm of the Spirit all of the time. We are busy. We forget that God is good, and our natural tendency is to "do life" through our own efforts. Especially if, as children, we were taught that we have to take care of ourselves, because nobody else will.

Yet if we know that God can and will manifest His marvelous plan for our lives, and that we don't have to do anything except choose to abide in Him, obedience doesn't have to be a burden. Life doesn't have to be so hard. We don't have to worry about having all the right ideas. We don't have to fear not having the physical or mental energy to survive. We don't have to strive and push and fight to make our dreams come true.

We just have to spend time with our Daddy, and choose to believe what He tells us in the quiet space of our thoughts, as we step out in obedience. Because if we are faithful in the little things, He will put us in charge of bigger things, and fulfill every desire of our hearts. It doesn't come from striving. It comes from being with, knowing, and abiding in Him.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Wasteland or God's Green Paradise?

I sometimes lead a double life. One is a reality based on lies, and the other, God's truth (but is there any other truth but His?).

When life is rough, I sometimes live in the enemy's reality. It's a wasteland, of muddy brown fields, skeletons and grey skies. There's also lots of "dissing" going on. That is, dis-ease, dis-appointment, dis-couragement, dis-pair (yes I know that's spelled wrong), dis-tress, dis-may, dis-sension, dis-ability and so on.

If circumstances are dark enough, I swallow the "dissing" wholeheartedly, though I may yet be seeking God and praying for Him to pull me out of it. Sometimes, an hour or two in His presence is enough to move me into another reality -His- but at other times, I need a bigger push in order to get out of the wasteland.

By the way, God's reality is abundance; green pastures full of good feed, the sun warming the earth, eagles soaring, and His will being done on earth, just as it is in Heaven.

Sometimes, the pressure to live in the wasteland is great. Difficult circumstances press in on all sides, and it's easy for us to forget where our true home is. And if the "dissing" has gone on long enough, we may need more than just an occasional Sunday in church or an hour with God, in order to get out of the wasteland.

Because it's one thing to get a glimpse of God's wonderland from the other side of the fence, and another to step into, and live, in His place of paradise.

Though we all want to live in green pastures, we get stuck in the enemy's territory because it's sometimes easier to roll around in the muck, as we replay the lies we've been fed over a lifetime. Staying on the prosperous side of the fence can be an especially fierce challenge for those who have been programmed to crave the familiarity of barren places.

Today, God reminded me that one important way that we can remain in the reality of His paradise is by loving, and ministering, to others. Because as we do, we are reminded that He is active within us, and faithful to bless those who seek Him. As we speak kind words to another, we realize that His love lives in us and flows through us. As we pray over strangers, we witness His power to heal, transform and pull people out of the wasteland. As we provide food and clothing for neighbors, we witness His provision. As we cheer up the downtrodden, we experience the warmth of His sunshine. And then, we remember we have value because He inhabits our being and deems us worthy to carry out His great works of love on earth. And suddenly, we are back in the green of His land, simply because we activated what He has put inside of us.

Today, when I awakened from my slumber four hours earlier than usual, I unwittingly sentenced myself to the enemy's territory by lamenting the fatigue in my body. "This will never go away, anyway, whether you get two hours of sleep or ten, so you might as well get used to it." Went the sinister little voice in my head.

But as the day progressed, and God used me in church to heal a 20 year-old woman who had suffered from intense back pain since the eighth grade, I felt myself jumping the fence. Afterwards, as the healed woman looked at me, her eyes round with amazement and joy accentuating her lovely features, the morning lies moved further from me. "I can't believe it," the woman said, and as she asked me my name, the astonishment in her voice indicated to me that her real question was, "Who are you and where did you come from?"

Had she articulated those words, I would have replied, "God sent me. To remind me, and you, of the land to which we belong."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Our Real Woe: We Don't Believe God

Illness deflates the spirit. Financial hardship discourages. The loss of relationships pains the heart. Loneliness sinks the soul. Broken dreams crush our hope. But in the end, our greatest woe may not be that we lack money, love or our health-it's that we don't believe God and the promise He's made to redeem our suffering.

We look at the evidence of our lives and deep down believe that the promise of health is for others. After all, we've been sick for fifteen years! Or we recall our car repairs and cardboard-walled apartments and think that God really isn't interested in meeting all of our needs. We ruminate on our divorces, or years of isolation, and conclude that relationships are for the happy who were blessed enough to have well-balanced parents.

When we don't believe God, despair and fear set in. When "by His wounds, we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5 NIV) and "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10, NIV) lose their significance, life distresses. When "Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5, NIV) are empty words, so are our souls. When we believe that the words, "Beloved, I pray that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers" (3 John 1:2, NKJ)were meant for the characters of the Bible, we give up on the idea that God still heals today. When challenging life circumstances become a greater reality than what He has promised us in His Word, hope fades. And when Jesus' death only purchased for us eternal life, rather than abundant life on earth, His sacrifice becomes emptied of its power for the day-to-day of today.

But Jesus purchased more than just eternal life for us when He went to the Cross. He redeemed us, and saved us, in the greatest sense of the word. For "sozo" (saved), in the original Greek in which it was written in the Bible, means, "saved, healed, delivered and preserved." Therefore, because of His sacrifice, we are given power over sickness, depression, devastation, and all the lies that affront us about our identity and inheritance in His kingdom. Of course, the manifestation of His promises can take time, as we get to know Him and who He is for us, but they are real, Yes and Amen nonetheless.

Still, we struggle to embrace "sozo" because we have been taught that seeing is believing. We don't know how to believe first in order to see, because staying stuck in what we know is sometimes easier than stepping out in faith. Grasping on to a more optimistic reality feels unsafe to a life that has been accustomed to tragedy.

"But God," we protest, "Those promises seem like they are for everyone else but me, because life just never seems to get any better."

And we forget that it's not about our weaknesses, or what we have endured, but the Cross and what He endured for our sake. So what is truth? The voice in our head or what He has said?

When we say: "I have screwed up too much in life to ever be in a healthy relationship again." He says:
I was pierced for your transgressions. (Isaiah 53:5, NIV). Nails were driven into His feet and hands; a spear was thrust into His side, for the purpose of redeeming every mistake we have ever made.

When we say: "God doesn't care about me."
He says: I was crushed for your iniquities; (Isaiah 53:5, NIV) He cared about us so much that He thought that being bruised, broken, battered and murdered would be a worthwhile exchange for our freedom.

When we say: "I can't have peace in the midst of this situation" He says,
the punishment that brought you peace was upon Me; (that is, He took the punishment that we deserved for our independence from Him, upon Himself at the Cross, so that we would not have to feel guilty for our sins against Him, ourselves, or others).

And of course, when we protest that we will never be healed, He says otherwise:
"By My wounds you are healed." (Isaiah 53:5, NIV).

Let us ask Him for the courage to believe in Him, not in the trials that life has handed us. Because either His Word is true or it's not. Either God is a liar or our thoughts are deceiving us. It's up to us to decide, moment by moment, the truth that we want to embrace. Let us not adopt the mind's perspective out of a perceived inability to challenge the lies that have beset us our entire lives. Let us not buy into an inferior life, because it seems easier than doing the hard work of change. Let us ask Him to instill in our hearts the reality that, "Everything is possible for him who believes." (Mark 9:23, NIV). And may we know that in the end, we can do it, because, "it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose" (Phil. 2:13, NIV). Amen, Jesus. Amen.