New blog and website

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

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Bloated with "Stuff"

Lately, I have been pondering one of my greatest enemies to intimacy with God.


It's everywhere. Though I strive for a simple, uncluttered life, I am besieged by the tyranny of "stuff", which pervades American society and is practically part of our national identity.

Stuff isn't bad. Stuff can be great. But really....we have too much stuff. In our homes. Our brains. Our bodies. Our relationships. I could go on. We are bloated with stuff. And if you don't believe me, I encourage you to spend a year in a less-developed country and see if you don't agree that overabundance characterizes our society, and it's not always a good thing.

It's not just about owning twenty pairs of shoes or a hundred kitchen gadgets, or trolling E-Bay on a weekly basis for the latest fashion jeans.

It's about distractions. Our stuff can manifest as checking six email accounts and Facebook ten times a day; surfing through six hundred television channels; poring over videos on You Tube, and spending time on ten thousand other activities that suck up every minute so that the essential gets neglected. (The problem is, if you are like me, then you find yourself being tricked into believing that Facebook and email are more essential than spending a little time with God).

Stuff has also infected the church. Programs, Christian books, and classes and courses for everything under the sun-from basket weaving to couples counseling, to Bible studies- fill our brains and schedules with "stuff."

Ideas, information and knowledge- which are continually on the increase, thanks in part to the Internet- can be valuable mental stuff, but in excess, they bloat the mind. Then the intellect gets stuck in a whirlwind of reasoning and analysis, and fails to cooperate with the Spirit in the Spirit's quest to impart Godly wisdom to it.

I condemn nobody for succumbing to stuff. And I'm sure not everyone is like me. My stuff manifests as a myriad of unprofitable ideas and information that compete for space in my brain; as three telephones and six email accounts that constantly clamor for my attention; as advertisements that promise to give me this or that, and take me from here to there to everywhere. The stuff manifests as invitations to a multitude of church activities...but why am I not doing the essential, like feeding that guy under the bridge a sandwich? Do you know what I mean?

I I really need to read another Christian book to grow in my walk with the Lord? Do I need to answer every email in order to stay ahead in my work? Do I really need to attend another women's event at church to alleviate my depression?

In my life, I find that the pervasiveness of stuff crowds out the one thing that I need most...time alone with my God, so that I can enter into a more intimate relationship with Him. Activities, classes, television programs and books about God, don't count, but I've been fooled into thinking that such things will bring me closer to Him by teaching me about Him. While they do have a way of bringing me into His presence, observing God from afar, or from someone else's perspective, isn't the same as sitting down to have a cup of coffee with Him, one-on-one.

So I grieve when my time with God gets shuffled to the bottom of the pile of...well, stuff. Too often, conversation with Jesus and soaking in the presence of my Lord is what I do when all else gets done, because after all, I think that He is patient. Anyway, my time with Him doesn't always produce some fast, tangible result that I can link to my survival- such as paying the bills or making dinner.

Of course, God is with me always, but acknowledging Him here and there throughout the day doesn't seem to produce the same results in my relationship with Him as when I dedicate my full time and attention to Him for an hour or two daily.

I need to work for my daily bread, and Facebook and email connections feed me with much-needed social interaction. But these, and other things, have a way of creeping into the realm of the non-essential, and even wasteful, so that I cease to remember that, "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." (Matthew 4:4).

I know it and yet I don't. If I knew in my heart how essential it was to feed on my Lord daily; to drink of the water of Life, to spend time in His presence, getting to know Him instead of about Him, my resistance against the demons of stuff might
be greater. But I sometimes get tricked by the allure and sparkle of stuff.

Stuff sparkles; but all that glitters isn't gold. The only real gold in this world is my relationship with Jesus Christ, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit- the Trinity, or three heavenly beings that together, comprise the God of the Universe. I am grateful that He continually reminds me of this, so that my forays into the vortex of stuff are temporary.

When stuff assumes its proper place in my life, I am at peace. I sense the presence and love of God more strongly in my life. I have greater discernment and wisdom. Worldly knowledge takes its proper place in my intellect. My reason submits to the Spirit, instead of following the devil or my biochemistry on a wild goose chase of analysis that ultimately lands me into a pile of tears.

Stuff can be good, if it's created by God. But I'm learning how to filter out, remove, and refuse the unessential and unprofitable, so that what matters most- my relationship with the Creator of the Universe- remains fulfilling, and bears the fruit of peace and joy in my life. It is a challenge in our society to push back the stuff, but I believe that when we make an effort to do so, in order to pursue a more intimate relationship with God, we reap benefits that are far more magnificent and wonderful than anything that the world, with all its stuff, can provide us.

I can think of no better benefit than knowing God and His love for me, and being able to give that love back to the world. Receiving from God is a process, but if we are faithful to spend time with Him, I believe that over time, He brings the reality of His love, and who He is, into our hearts, minds, bodies and spirits. What could be better?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

God's Healing Provision in the Days to Come

People's health nowadays is being attacked from many directions. I see it in the small things, as well as the big. The devil is busy at work within the agricultural biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries; the FDA, and other entities that promote profit above the well being of people. I realize that there are God-loving people that work within these industries, but unfortunately, the net effect of these industries upon society's health hasn't generally been positive.

I cringe whenever I see flu vaccine signs advertised, because I know that vaccines are a major part of the reason why the autism rate is now 1 in 40 people. I am dismayed whenever I hear about a friend who is about to do chemotherapy for her cancer, because, having written a book on cancer, I know that this therapy is suicide for most who do it. But people are led into it because medical policy is dictated by wealthy pharmaceutical companies, and physicians have been brainwashed into believing that immune-destroying drugs really cure people.

But harmful health care practices based on flawed science and drug company interests are only the tip of the iceberg. All you have to do is walk into a conventional grocery store to see the multitude of ways in which the enemy is destroying people's health. Nearly all of the food sold in these markets has been genetically-modified, and contains a plethora of unhealthy substances, including immune-altering antibiotics and hormones; gut-destroying pesticides, inflammation-promoting additives and preservatives, and other "junk" that is wrecking the health of millions worldwide. This toxic food supply is largely the result of drug and biotechnology industry greed, as well as ignorance by those who don't understand that their work is really harming people more than it is helping them.

Unfortunately, the enemy's tactics to destroy our health go beyond the toxic food supply and even more toxic conventional medical system. The enemy operates in many industries; the telecommunications industry, for example. As people rush to purchase the latest smartphones or install Wi-Fi in their homes, the incidence of cancer quietly skyrockets from the electromagnetic pollution that has already resulted from the use of these things.

You don't have to go far to see how environmental toxins are wrecking people's health. Just look up at the sky, and you'll see chemtrails left behind by pilots who probably believe that the pesticides that they are dumping are really meant for some "pest" besides the humans that are sickened by them.

Then there's radiation from sources such as Fukushima; heavy metal toxins that drift around the world from coal burning in China, and toxicity from a multitude of other industries, which is slowing poisoning our population to death.

I could go on, but why exalt the enemy's plans to destroy God's people? Although I must confess that lately, I have been enraged because of what I know. Fury grips me whenever I gaze at the skies, or see a flu vaccine sign, or happen upon a commercial for a drug that I know will destroy more lives than it saves.

I groan in silent desperation, whenever I hear about an organic farmer being sued for a crime he did not commit; when I learn of health food companies caving to the pressure of biotech firms to genetically-modify their food, and read reports of nutrient supplement companies being shut down because they didn't provide enough evidence for the effectiveness of their products-or so went the excuse.

I believe that God has impressed upon me a sobering fact in recent years; that the day is coming when good, holistic medical care will no longer be publicly available. People will have to resort to the toxic therapies of the conventional medical system- if they want to have health care at all. The day is also coming when the only food that will be available in supermarkets will be genetically-modified, processed and extensively manipulated; and the environment will be so toxic that a high percentage of the population will succumb to illness from these toxins.

And I have asked God what His provision will be for those times; how He will take care of His people, so that we can carry out His will on earth, with able, healthy, strong bodies and sound minds. Even now, many millions around the world are already sick from environmental toxins, bad medicine, or simply no medicine. And I think God grieves over it.

Unfortunately, most people today don't have the resources, knowledge or ability to do what it takes to live in a toxin-free environment; to see the best holistic doctors, to eat organic food, and to avail themselves of the necessary resources to remain well. Maintaining proper health is fast becoming a privilege that only the wealthy and well-educated can afford.

Yet I don't believe that God intended for health to belong only to the well-educated; to people like me, who have studied holistic medicine for nearly a decade, and to the wealthy, who can afford the expensive doctors who seem to be the only ones that know how to adequately treat environmental illness. Besides, wealth and education may soon become somewhat irrelevant in the battle to remain well, if what God has impressed upon me does indeed happen.

Through my books and writings, I teach people how to heal from chronic illness, as well as how to remain well. I educate them about organic food; about how to avoid electromagnetic fields and other toxins, and pursue holistic medicine, rather than pharmaceutical remedies, for their ailments. It's how God is using me right now to help others.

But what will be God's plan, as resources dwindle, good health care vanishes, and the environment and food supply become increasingly toxic?

I believe that part of the answer is found in the Biblical Scripture Mark 16:18 (NIV). Here, it states, "they (those that believe in, and receive, Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior) will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well."

Healing miracles were commonplace among the followers of Jesus Christ during the first 300 years following His death and resurrection. Today, they are common only in third-world countries, and in a few churches within the developed world (such as Bethel church in Redding, California). Some ministers who have large, international healing ministries believe this to be because most people in developed nations no longer believe that Jesus Christ heals people today, or that it is always His will to heal.

Yet a close examination of the Scriptures, and specifically, those which have to do with the Atonement, reveal that when Jesus died on a Cross over two thousand years ago, He purchased not only our redemption from sin, but from every sickness-emotional and physical- that we would ever suffer from here on earth. Chapter 53, verses 4-7 in the book of Isaiah, which was authored approximately 600 years prior to Jesus' birth, reveal this:

4 "Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all."

The healing that is referred to in verse five is both physical and emotional. Sometimes, however, this healing isn't immediate, and dark forces in the spiritual realm can block people's healing, and we must persist in prayer in order to disempower those forces. Books such as Christ the Healer as well as my book, Healing Chronic Illness: By His Spirit, Through His Resources", explain these concepts. But more importantly, they explain why Jesus is willing and able to heal all those who come to Him, and how to receive that healing.

I have witnessed hundreds of healing miracles over the past several years, and have been used by God to heal others supernaturally- of back pain, blurry vision, teeth infections, and cancer- to name just a few ailments.

In these days of economic and political turmoil, when access to good medical care is becoming increasingly scarce, the safety of the food supply is in jeopardy, and the environment becomes increasingly toxic, I believe it is important that we know Jesus Christ as our ultimate Healer. That we know what He can do for us, beyond the resources that He has provided for us in the natural realm. If we know He is a God of miracles, then I believe that some of the factors that are destroying our health today will become less relevant, or important, in the days to come.

Consider Heidi Baker of Iris ministries. Heidi and her husband have planted over 5,000 churches in Mozambique and other African nations. They are largely provided for by God supernaturally; through food multiplication and healing miracles, which occur daily. Medical care in most African nations is extremely poor, so many people in these nations have learned to rely exclusively upon Him for their well being- because they have no other choice.

Sometimes I wonder if God is bringing the United States to a similar state of dependence upon Him, so that we will know how great His love is towards us, and how powerfully that love can manifest in our hearts, minds and bodies. Will we learn any other way, but if we are obliged to depend totally upon Him?

I think He may also be trying to teach us how great His mighty power and Spirit are within those of us who have received Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. The power of His Spirit within every believer is exemplified through verses such as Mark 16:18 (see above). While I wouldn't advocate drinking poison to see if it harms you, I would encourage looking past the natural realm for healing provision, sustenance, and protection from toxins. Because the Spirit is above the natural realm, and can affect and overcome all things within it. I believe that knowing our identity in Jesus Christ, and the power that lives within us, is the same power that can enable our bodies and minds to overcome disease, in times when resources in the natural realm become toxic or scarce. I don't know how, but I know that He knows how.

God promises to provide for all of His children, and His will is always to heal. He is doing it for multitudes in Mozambique, and other third-world nations, and even in developed nations that don't necessarily believe in His healing power. Greater miracles are seen, however, when a nation collectively believes in Him, and turns to Him for life, healing and redemption.

For now, I thank my God for medicine, because He has been using it to heal me. But I also thank Him for urging me to focus more upon Jesus Christ and his supernatural ability and willingness to heal me, and keep me safe from the evils of our toxic world.

This week, God urged me to get my gaze off of vaccines, chemtrails, drug company advertisements, and all of the evils that are presently destroying people's health-including mine. He admonished me to forgive those who create legislation without checking their consciences; to release from my rage those who intend to control the food supply, as well as those who ignorantly promote products and drugs that harm more than help the world.

I am still working on forgiving those who, in my self-righteousness, I've judged to be doing evil- but as I meditate upon the fact that Jesus came to heal and save me- all of me- in body, mind and spirit- I am able to release some of the rage. Because I don't have to be a hopeless victim against the forces of darkness. If I am a member of Jesus' body, I have victory over the evil that occurs in the natural, as well as supernatural, realm. I can be free, simply because Jesus is my Redeemer, Healer and Savior.

But I must know Him and His mighty power to save, heal and deliver me. And I must know that it is this same power which will enable me to "drink poison and take up serpents" (or survive in a toxic world) and to "lay hands on the sick and watch them recover." (when the health care system fails).

To those who presently can't afford proper medical care; who worry about the toxic environment in which we live, or who are dismayed at the battle for our health care system, "I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe." (Eph. 1:18-19).

May you, as I, know His healing power, and may the knowledge of that power, and His love for us, overshadow any knowledge or influence of evil upon us. Because it is only by turning on, and remaining in the light, that darkness can be extinguished.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

From Hell to the Fulfillment of a High Calling

As I lay upside down on a spinal decompression table, my innards squeezed by the pressure of a machine that was supposed to return my scrunched up vertebrae to normal, I pondered a revelatory concept that I had just read in Bill Johnson's book, Strengthened in the Lord. I cannot recall the passage which describes that concept right now- but the essence of it still remains with me, several days later, like a cheerleader in the background of my consciousness.

I have heard other pastors, such as Leif Hetland of Global Mission Awareness, describe this concept, too. Basically, the idea of it is that our areas of greatest challenge and difficulty in life; where we have suffered the most, and where the devil has attacked us relentlessly- are often the areas where God most wants to use us to help others. For instance, if you've suffered illness and learned compassion through your battles with infirmity, it becomes a gift that you can use to help others who have gone through the same trials.

It sounds obvious, perhaps, and not so grandiose. Especially when you are still enduring the suffering. When I hurt, I know I would sometimes rather tear off a head than lend a helping hand.

Yes, I have managed to squeeze some profitable juice from the lemons that life has handed me, but I wouldn't say I'm one of those "glass half-full" folks who know how to turn pain into gain. Neither do I break out in celebratory dance when people tell me that God will use my suffering for good. I'm no Mother Teresa and neither do I aspire to that level of self-sacrifice in my daily life, (although God isn't finished with me yet!).

Yet I sensed that the implications of Bill Johnson's words meant something greater than suffering for the simple purpose of identifying with another soul, and that the gifts and character that result from difficult trials stir in us a longing to fulfill that which we were created to do, and be- for the good of others as well as our own.

God has given all of us a tremendous assignment to impact the lives of others. Our callings, or destinies, are probably greater and more important than what we can conceive of, even on our happiest and highest of days. What comes to mind here is that verse, "To him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us..." (Eph. 3:20). Thus, it seems no coincidence that the forces of darkness often fight tooth and nail to lead us into a litany of lies about who we are in Jesus Christ, the destiny that God has for us, and what He intends to do with our hardships and deepest sufferings. His goal is to get us to believe that we are the exact opposite of who and what God has created us to be.

So what better way to lie to the future physician or healing evangelist about his calling to heal the sick, than by striking him with an autoimmune disease? What better way to scramble the mind of a future financial consultant by thrusting him into poverty? What better way to discourage the woman destined to be a marriage counselor by creating dissension within her family? How better to confound the man with the gift of wisdom than to convince him that he has nothing to say or teach others?

Why not tell the timid young woman with the gift of leadership that the greatest authority she will ever have is over the six plants in her home? Why not use the father of the child who has ten different talents that he will never amount to anything; that he's just a worthless kid who would be better off cleaning doggie doo off the sidewalk than following his dream to be a writer, airline pilot or pastor? (Not that there is anything wrong with cleaning up a dog's mess, but if it isn't what God has called you to do, then maybe it's best to not pick up the shovel).

The enemy's wiles are crafty, deceptive, subtle and...effective, especially if we don't know what God intends for us, and that His power and ability to equip us to walk out our destinies and what He has created us for, are greater than the sinister lies and difficult circumstances that assault us daily.

When I was attacked earlier this summer with two black lesions on my back; ugly, black sores that for a time, infused fear into my soul, and which have since stolen the vitality from my body, I wanted to curl up into a ball and die. What next? I thought. The circumstances of the last decade of my life might lead any logical soul to believe that infirmity is God's will for my life, because every year since 2002 has presented a series of new challenges to my health. And not just Lyme disease. That has become the least of my worries. So it would seem that God has allowed me to be sick for some good purpose, such as to write books on chronic illness or empathize with others who have endured disease. Well, He might be using my experiences for these purposes, but just because He is the redeemer of bad situations, does not mean that He's their author.

And since when, as Bill Johnson often states in his sermons, did the devil and Jesus trade places? Since when did Jesus ordain sickness to make us into "better Christians" and the devil heal the heathen supernaturally? Jesus' command to those who would follow him has always been to "heal the sick, cleanse lepers, raise the dead, and cast out demons." (Matthew 10:8). Today as yesterday.

The supposed cancers that afflicted me early this summer showed up right after God had gifted me with a more powerful anointing to heal others through prayer. Was this a coincidence, or was somebody pissed? Since that time, I have seen God pour greater healing miracles through my hands whenever I pray for others. And as I ponder the thought that maybe, just maybe, the devil is terrified that God's will for my life will prevail, I am encouraged by the attack. Because it means that the devil is scared, and I'm taking back ground that he has stolen from me- and not just for myself. With every attack that I overcome, something is being gained for God's kingdom, though I don't always recognize it as such.

This bizarre thought offers a strange comfort to me, as the enemy continues to use hopelessness in his campaign to discourage me. But thank God I have someone who intercedes for me and who has promised me the victory- Jesus Christ. I have no power to overcome the evil one, but greater is He who is in me, than He who is in the world. And I know this as long as I incline my ears, heart, and mind towards my Savior and His truths, rather than towards the destructive falsehoods that have been thrust into my mind and body for too many years.

But daily, I must spend time in God's presence and in asking Him to speak Truth to me, so that my mind is continually renewed with thoughts of who I am in Him, who He is for me, and what He intends for my life. Sometimes I fail to seek, believe and obey Him, but I don't give up trying. Because I want vindication for all the years that the devil has stolen from me- I want to be the one that believed the Creator of the universe when He said to me, "I am healing you, and I will then use you to heal multitudes. So that people will see what I have done in you, and know that I am good; that I am the God who heals, saves and redeems all mankind."

They are greatest calling to ministry.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

What's Making People Sick Today...Healing the Underlying Causes of Chronic Illness (in People with Lyme Disease... and Beyond)

In my work as a healing prayer minister, I sometimes witness God supernaturally heal people. I have also witnessed hundreds of healing miracles in the church, and have come to believe that God is willing and able to heal all those who come to Him for healing. Sometimes, He uses medicine to accomplish His purposes, and at other times, He intervenes supernaturally.

I especially love it when God heals people supernaturally, but...

...I am disturbed that the church isn't teaching people about how to prevent disease. Yes, it's wonderful and amazing that God can supernaturally heal diabetes, cancer, Lyme disease and chronic fatigue syndrome- but if the factors that caused those illnesses are not removed from people's lives, the diseases are likely to return.

It seems to me that if we are going to teach people that God heals, then we need to also teach them about how to remain well.

Today, we live in a cesspool of environmental toxicity, which is affecting the health of a high percentage of the population. Even worse, health care options are dictated by pharmaceutical and insurance company interests, which means that drugs are the remedy that most doctors give their patients. And while drugs may manage symptoms, they heal no one, and often exacerbate or create new problems in the body.

In this day and age, it's not enough for the church to ask God for a healing miracle. We need to be taught how to remain healthy, because most conventional medical doctors are not doing it. Mainstream media isn't doing it, and we are living in a time when the once-sufficient advice, "Eat your vegetables, exercise and get enough sleep," will no longer keep most of us healthy.

Throughout my eight-year battle with chronic illness, I have learned a lot about what's making people sick today. Why 1 in 40 children have autism. Why 1 in 10 children are on antidepressants and medication for ADD and ADHD. Why over half the population is overweight. Why the rate of cancer has skyrocketed to one in three people; why Lyme disease is the fastest-growing infectious disease in the country. Why it isn't uncommon nowadays to see children and twenty-something year-old's with chronic illnesses.

Some of us know that something has gone really awry, while the other some of us are being led astray by the drug companies, the government, uneducated doctors and the media, who aren't telling us the truth about where all this sickness is coming from, and what really needs to be done about it.

I was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2004, but it took me several years to fully grasp the reality that what was making me sick wasn't just a handful of tick-borne infections. Rather, a multiplicity of environmental toxins and other societal factors had caused the demise of my body and mind- and people all around me were also being affected by the garbage.

I just finished writing a book, which is intended principally for people diagnosed with Lyme disease. Yet others may find it useful, because it describes factors that are making a lot of people sick today (not just those with Lyme disease!). Many chronic illnesses have similar roots, and disease labels are sometimes just that; labels.

This book will be published sometime over the next 4-6 weeks and is entitled, Beyond Lyme Disease: Healing the Underlying Causes of Chronic Illness in People with Borreliosis and Co-Infections.

In a few weeks I will be publishing a link to the book's webpage, where you can learn more about it and/or purchase it. My prayer is that if you have been diagnosed with Lyme disease, or know somebody who has a chronic illness of unclear origin, that you would read this book, and share it with others. The church (and society!) needs God's healing power, but it also needs His wisdom about how to be well in this day and age of environmental pollution, rushed schedules, toxic food, and a broken health care system. This book provides that, and much more.

May you be blessed!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Principle of Gratitude

Prophet Doug Addison ( has mentioned several times over the past couple of months that God's people are in a season of change, and that God is bringing new alignment and new assignments to those who love and follow Him. As this occurs, He is also uprooting and removing the old and unprofitable, to make room for the new and to heal what has been broken or lost in people's lives over the past decade.

The truth of Doug's words has been hitting my life like a hurricane; in the seemingly insignificant, as well as larger, aspects of my life. Over the past six weeks, I have witnessed radical changes in my health- greater energy and stamina, sounder sleep, a stronger, clearer mind, fewer tears, and renewed hope in my spirit. It has been a welcome departure from the crushing insomnia, fatigue, depression and "God-just-let-me-die" hopelessness that has assaulted me since last October. Never mind that the devil has retaliated by incapacitating my right arm with carpal something-or-other and that last weekend I discovered two hollow black circles on my back which sent me into an emotional tailspin. Only after I received some intense prayer was I able to convince myself that even if I did have a skin cancer, it wasn't melanoma, and God would get rid of it because He's been pretty clear with me-through a thousand and one prophecies and in my personal conversations with Him- that He's nowhere near done with me yet.

I know good things are coming. I know it because the devil is nipping at my heels with new problems just as healing and other blessings are being placed in my path. The enemy's tactics have become tiresome, and in my weariness, I can't help but wonder on some days if my writing career will halted by the pain in my arm or if I will really see the fulfillment of all that God intends for me. But then He reminds me to look at what He has done in my life thus far, what He is doing, and what He has promised to do, and as I do, joy touches the edges of my heart, and my spirit is encouraged.

The winds of change have also sent new work opportunities and acquaintances my way; new friends, spiritual mentors and business contacts. As part of the removing of what is unprofitable, God has been pruning-and even uprooting- my relationships. Sadly, as part of this process, I had to say goodbye to one of my best friends- somebody I loved very much- but God's strength and peace accompanied me as I made the decision, knowing that it was for his best and mine to let the relationship go.

But that's not all. God's hand has been moving me to new places in my healing ministry, and I have witnessed more of His love, presence and power whenever I pray for others.

God has been changing the little things in my life, too. For example, He's encouraged me to start buying my groceries directly from an organic farm. To join Pilates again. To set up a new work station at home. Things that don't seem like much, but which are a larger reflection of the work that He's doing in me, and part of the season of change that I, and so many others, are in.

I still don't sleep great some nights and I can't get up before 9 AM most days. I can barely work at the computer because my arm is on fire (and this may be, in fact, the last post I do until I am healed of the problem). I wish I could climb mountains and roller blade like most people my age. And as my 38th birthday approaches, regret over the years that I have lost to trauma and disease yet nags at my soul.

But the tide is turning, and God keeps sending me a singular, powerful message; See what I have done, and am doing in your life, and be thankful for these things! Praise Me for my goodness. Keep your eyes on My promises- those which are being fulfilled, and those which have yet to be fulfilled. Don't look down at your feet, where the enemy is nipping at your heels. Look up at Me; focus your gaze Heavenward, and thank Me that my will is being accomplished in your life.

His admonishment is that my gaze would not be on the black spot on my back; that I would not catastrophize my inability to write; that I would not tell myself that my newfound feelings of wellness are part of some temporary high. That I would realize that the new opportunities that He's given me aren't just another means for my survival; but rather, seeds for the ultimate fulfillment of His plan for my life.

I don't believe God wants to make our lives perfect. The prosperity gospel is a farce. It wouldn't fly, anyway, in parts of the world where hardship is a daily reality. But God does make certain promises to those of us who would believe in Him and His love for us. He promises to heal us; in body, mind and Spirit. He promises to make us co-laborers in His kingdom, which means giving us the mind of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit, to set people free, from the bondage of sickness, soul wounds and sin. And He promises to provide for us, if we trust Him and follow His lead.

I don't understand His ways, and why the fulfillment of His promises isn't always immediate. But if there is one thing I'm learning- it's that when I thank Him for what He has done for me, it opens the door for me to receive more from Him. Whenever my gaze shifts to His work and His hand upon my life, rather than upon the enemy's meager attempts to destroy me, my faith grows, and more of His blessings are released into my life. It's not a performance thing; it's a spiritual law, and a principle of the Kingdom of Heaven.

So I praise Him for today; for Jesus, for life eternal, for healing, and, for the winds of change, which are sweeping away the debris and what is unprofitable in my life, to make room for the new.

May you be blessed in this season of change, too.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

From Performance to Papa's Lap

You don't need answers to all of your problems as much as you need to know who I Am for you. You don't need solutions as much as you need to see My face.

God gave me these words several months ago, during one of my encounters with Him, when I came pleading for the right path to take in a certain area of my life. When most of us go to God, we want solutions for our life's problems. We want Him to tell us what to do, where to go, with whom we should spend our hours, and how to pray.

My desire for solutions is sometimes birthed out of a fear that I won't be taken care of by God; that I'll make a terrible mistake if I don't hear Him right. The quest for answers comes cloaked in humility as I tell myself that I'm just trying to be obedient to God. But in reality, what I want is control over my life.

But sometimes His solution is simply for me to sit with Him. To find safety in His lap. To be with Him, knowing that He will never leave nor forsake me- because in knowing Him I find the way.

Increasingly, I'm realizing that I don't need solutions for all of my problems as much as I need His presence. Today, as I received prayer in the healing rooms at one of the most powerful and Spirit-filled churches in the nation, I told my two compassionate prayer ministers that I would rather continue to suffer with health problems my entire life than miss out on knowing how much God loves me.

I'm that convicted about it now, but I also know that the more of His love that I receive, the more I will be healed, and the more that life will go well for me- at least, inwardly.

When I traveled to Bethel this week to receive prayer for physical healing, I was aware that God would probably be working more on my spirit than on my body. Bethel is known worldwide for its healing miracles, and while my limbs ache to be fully healed, my soul longs for an even deeper healing.

And so it has been this week, that God has been cementing into my soul the reality that freedom lies in intimacy with Him; in knowing the Who of life so I can navigate the What and How of life.

I've fervently pursued a relationship with God for over a decade now, but much of this relationship has been based upon my suffering, and a sorry-please-thank you list, designed to get Him to move on my behalf, that I might be freed from a lifetime of bondage to soul sickness and physical infirmity.

Unfortunately, the influence of unhealthy relationships in my life has created within me a tendency to pursue the bondage of a performance-based relationship with God, which is based upon a list of "To do's" and pleas to rescue me (as if He were reticent to do so).

As I received prayer today from the healing ministers, I realized that my moments of climbing into God's lap have been too few; that dancing and laughing with Him and sensing His delight over me as I do what He's created me to do, have been the exception rather than the rule. That while I share everything with Him, I struggle to see Him at times as my best friend and my beloved Papa- as the One who desires to dote upon me, play with me, and hold me in His arms.

And yet, these are the kinds of things that He longs to do with His children. But suffering has blinded me, and at times, I have viewed the trials that I have gone through as confirmation of His disapproval of me (never mind that the Bible teaches that all those who are obedient to God will endure trials!).

It's hard to sit in Papa's lap when an undercurrent of His (apparent) disapproval colors your conscience red with shame.

Fortunately, the longer I walk with the Lord, the more He sets me free from shame and performance-based relationship. And this week at Bethel, He invited me again to lay aside my grief, and relate to Him in new ways that transcend my suffering and need to "do it all right."

Just be , He kept saying to me. Just be.

I want to know what it looks like to be daily embraced by my Daddy. To sense His pleasure over me. To walk with Him in the cool of the evening, without an agenda. To talk to Him about life, without a laundry list of requests filling up the minutes.

Don't get me wrong. God delights in requests, and that we would come to Him for solutions to all of life's issues, but a relationship with Him isn't meant to be task-oriented.

Today, God also revealed to one of my ministers that I used to draw and paint as a child. I was a gifted artist in my youth (so much so that my kindergarten art teacher contacted my parents after I had reached adulthood, just to find out whether I had become an artist!). My parents told him no, but that my sister had become a professional painter. Still, I loved creating art, and through the prayer minister, God said to me, I loved to watch you paint. I delighted in the works you created.

And as I received those prophetic words, and many others, I felt another layer of my performance onion getting peeled, and I got another glimpse of what it means to walk in intimate relationship with God.

God doesn't ask us to know how to do relationship with Him. He doesn't demand that we be saints. He doesn't expect us to know how to love others, and to walk in obedience. We can only give Him who we are- and that includes all of our garbage, pain and emotional baggage, and expect Him to cleanse and heal us. The wounded soul cannot heal itself, and I'm learning that God doesn't need my efforts to receive His love, because striving to give and receive love is a hallmark sign of performance-based relationship.

He must pour it into me, and break down the walls that I, by my efforts, cannot tear down. My job is only to come to Him, trusting that He will do as He has promised. To set this captive free. For He has said, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." (Matthew 7:7, NIV).

Sometimes, receiving is a process, and the door seems to linger ajar, but He who is faithful has promised to redeem His saints.
May He show us all how to relate to Him as a loving Father, friend and lover, and may He help us to cast works-based relationship by the wayside.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Lost In Translation

The Bible tells us to renew our minds daily. Romans 12:2 says, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." (NIV). A renewed mind enables us to live according to God's truths, rather than in the warped and twisted unreality of our unregenerate minds. His truth literally transforms how we perceive ourselves, others, and the world.

If I don't spend time with God daily and allow Him to fill my head with His thoughts, then what I believe and think becomes subject to the whims of my biochemistry, the other aspects of my flesh, and the devil. What's more, my unresolved wounds become a filter through which I translate (and misinterpret) the words and actions of others.

Case in point- about six weeks ago, while at some hot springs in Costa Rica with friends, I happened to catch a glimpse of myself in my bathing suit, while walking past a mirror.

Whoa! Dismay filled me at the realization that the slender supermodel figure that Lyme disease had blessed me with (go figure that disease can make you look like a model) was gone.

Although some of the weight gain might have been good for me, it was nonetheless a shock to see myself nearly twenty pounds heavier than what I was less than two years ago. I don't make it a habit to study myself in a bathing suit, so the realization that I was well on my way to becoming a chunky monkey (apparently) threw a wrench in my otherwise happy day.

As I stopped before the mirror again, I wondered, Am I just not used to seeing myself as a normal-sized person?

I felt the voice of Truth nudging my conscience. Come on, Connie, let's be objective about this... It went. But the unregenerate mind would have none of it. Insecurity was the order of the day.

So I approached a male friend who happened to be with me at the hot springs, and asked him the dreaded question that no man hopes a woman will ever ask him.

"Am I fat?"

I picked on him because I knew he would tell me the truth. But as I asked the question, I sensed his discomfort as he shifted in his seat next to me. We were plopped down on a bench beneath a beautiful waterfall.

"No,'ve put on some weight." Was the candid reply.

Alarm bells went off in my mind as my heart picked up speed. "Well, am I pudgy?"

My poor friend. He didn't stand a chance at winning this game. As he squirmed in his seat, silent, I could have imagined what he was thinking- Should he gamble his friendship with his silly, vain friend, in the interest of telling her the truth?

No woman should ever ask a man the fat question. Ever.

But I did. Again. "Well, am I pudgy?"

He looked down. "Um, well, sure, a little."

We all know what the translation is for this, right?

I'm a cow!

Thus ensued a tirade in which I began to bemoan my clumps of cellulite and emerging Buddha belly. How unfair it was that I had put on so much weight, because I subsisted on salads and salmon and exercised- so how dare God allow this to happen to me? And what if my rolls were just getting on a roll? What if this was just the beginning?

Somewhere in the middle of my pity party, my friend looked at me quizzically and said, "What's pudgy mean?"

I stopped the tirade in its tracks. "WHAT?" I said to him, miffed. "You just told me I'm pudgy and you don't even know what it means?"

As I continued to flip out next to my friend beneath the waterfall, he muttered something about needing a drink.

Poor thing. I should have shown him to the nearest bar. Or at least taken my insecurities elsewhere.

"Look, you're not fat, OK? You've put on some weight, but you look good." He finally said.

But my unregenerate mind refused to swallow the truth. Not after he had told me that I was pudgy! (Never mind that he didn't really know what it meant). In that moment, all I could focus on was the fact that I had gained twenty pounds.

Never mind that by most people's standards, I am now an average weight. Never mind that my value and worth shouldn't be in my physical beauty, anyway. I had grown accustomed to the admiration of others. I was used to turning heads and seeing myself skinny as a rail. I didn't like having a real woman's body. Never mind that people still tell me that I am beautiful.

I might have received my friend's words through the lens of truth had I asked God to tell me His truth after looking in the mirror. Or maybe I wouldn't have even asked my friend the fat question. But because I did, I put us both through unnecessary grief. Besides, even if I had been overweight, what would have been the point of asking my friend the fat question? Why did I want to ruin our trip to the hot springs?

Yes, I would still rather be ten pounds lighter. But I'm not twenty-five years old anymore. Besides, in hindsight, I realized that the real question that I was asking-what most women are asking- when they approach a man (especially a close friend, boyfriend or spouse) with the fat question, is, Am I lovable just as I am?

And if the question were posed to God, the answer would be an emphatic, enthusiastic Yes! - Whether we are 120 or 240 pounds.

Living according to the unregenerate mind causes us to mistranslate others' words and actions- just as I did my friend's when I posed the "fat" question to him- and believe lies about ourselves and how God and others see us. And I have found that the only way to rise above the tactics of the enemy and the flesh is by asking God for His mind when my flesh wants to throw a twisted thoughts party.

All I can say is, thank God for the grace and love of my good friend, who forgave me for the fat question. And for Jesus, who has called me- and all of us- His beautiful, fearfully and wonderfully made, sons and daughters. May His opinion be the only one that counts, when we are tempted to lose the truth in the translation of our unregenerate minds.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Knowing The Power of His Death and Resurrection...

It's been a rough week. But I guess this was a rough week for Jesus, too, 2012 years ago. To put it mildly.

Night terrors, sleep apnea, and relentless insomnia are making a soup of my brain and body. My chest aches, and I push myself to prepare another cup of coffee, in the hopes that I might manage three hours of writing today. I'm weeks behind on my work deadlines.

But I guess that's beside the point. On this sacred day, instead of awakening and bowing my head in reverence and gratitude to my Savior, for giving up His life for me on a Cross 2012 years ago, I emerged from bed with curses on my lips, foul language and accusations against my God. The enemy took advantage of my sleep deprivation to cast me into a litany of lies and melodramatic pleas to God to heal me or take me out of this world.

What demon has taken over my mind today, on this Good Friday? What part of me doesn't understand what Jesus purchased for me at Calvary, and the power that He has given me to overcome?

Opposing thoughts rage in my biochemically-imbalanced brain. It seems God has allowed an army of ten thousand demons to come against me, but where is He as their arrows fly fast and furious towards me? In my delusion, I accuse Him of just standing by and watching, as the arrows penetrate my heart. He waits for me to do something that I decide I cannot do, because the battle against my flesh is too strong.

"Take my thoughts captive, God?" I rail at Him. "You try that when you haven't slept for the better part of five months!" In self-righteousness I build a case against my Lord- as if that should convince Him to pull back Satan's army. As if my begging will move Him to shift a little pinky in my favor.

Yet, in exalting the flesh against the power of His Spirit, and by accusing Him of withholding His love and healing from me, I'm like the mockers who spit on Him when He died 2012 years ago on a Cross at Calvary. But instead of clamoring, "Save yourself, if you are the King of the Jews!" my angry words are, "Jesus, heal me, if you love me so much!" Even as, with tears rolling down His face, and his body hanging limply on a Cross, He softly replies, "I am."

And so it is. I turn up my nose at the lashing of His body, and I spit on the nails in His hands. I turn my back on His anguish and the tears that roll down His face. I shrug my shoulders in indifference, as He cries out to the Father, "Why have you forsaken me?" Figuratively, I do all of this when I treat His sacrifice as if it purchased nothing for me but a free ticket into Eternity.

He has all power to heal me now. But He has also given me all power to be healed by the Holy Spirit, who dwells within me because of His death and resurrection.

He who lives within me was not free. The gift of the Spirit came at the expense of a body and soul that were torn asunder by the world's sin. He came to live in me, and in all who would believe in Jesus' sacrifice. Without His death on the Cross, I-we, would have no power to overcome the devil and the flesh.

It cost me nothing to receive the power of Immanuel- or, "God within me(us)," but it cost God everything. It cost Jesus His life. And yet I exalt the devil and His work above that of my Savior when I curse and accuse.

I mock His sacrifice when I accuse Him of not helping me. He helped me 2012 years ago when He died and was resurrected on the third day. I mock Him when I beg Him to heal me, because that healing was already given, way back when...

I feel His tears today as I shed my own, as He longs for me to understand, for my sake and others, what it cost Him to give me the power to be set free and to have life Eternal with Him.

But, like so many others, I am deceived into thinking that what is real is what I feel, and experience. I am reticent to believe that He within me can overcome a mind and body that have been sickened by a thousand and one sleepless nights; that He whom I cannot see isn't greater than the effects of this world upon my body; that though I am outnumbered in my battle against the flesh, I only need One of Him to overcome the multitudes that rage against me.

The depression remains. But He who remains in me admonishes me to overcome. Because one day I will truly get it- and when I do, no shadow of disease or insomnia will be able to stand within six million miles of me.

Forgive me, Jesus, for what I don't understand. Forgive me for standing among the crowds that forsook you, spit on you, and mocked you. Forgive me for my irreverence and lack of gratitude. I will never know how much it cost You, to take my sins upon You, on that Cross. I will never know, this side of Heaven, the immense and amazing price you paid for me, so that I might have life, here and in the Hereafter. But yes, I don't condemn me for my cursing and accusations. If you did, then Your work would have been for naught.

Thank You, Jesus, for your great mercy and love towards me. Thank You, for dying for all of humanity, 2012 years ago, that we might be freed from all manner of sickness, soul wounds and the power of sin. Teach us that You gave up Your life, not only so that we might live with you in Eternity, but so that we might bring Heaven to Earth today, and every day. May we know that Your authority has been given to us because of Your work on the Cross, and that we all have power to destroy the works of the devil, to set captives free, and to open the eyes of the blind...

Open my eyes, Lord, that I may see, and be healed. Open my heart, that I would daily hold sacred your sacrifice, and not take for granted all that was given to me, 2012 years ago...and today. Amen.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Way It Was Meant To Be

With the exception of two meetings, I spent the entirety of this past week in bed, trying to coax bananas and rice cakes into my stomach. I can't recall the last time I missed an entire week of work due to the flu, but amidst the depression and misery, I also experienced a paradoxical feeling of rest. I knew I could do nothing- because even an hour at the computer left me in a miserable stupor- so I relaxed in the sudden lack of obligations, happy to ignore the ever-present checklist of life's "to-do's."

I rarely give myself permission to ignore the checklist, because as long as I can sit upright, I assume there's work to be done, and if I don't do it, then my budget for even bananas and rice crackers will be gone. I don't care if I'm tired or my back hurts or my body decides to undergo a detoxification reaction; every day, I must work. And like every other single person in America who must not only bring home their bacon, but also cook it, too, I have a home to clean and groceries to buy, along with other obligations that leave me wondering when friends and fun will also get to be part of my existence.

Furhter complicating matters are my health challenges, which force me to ration my energy and life's activities, so managing all of the above sometimes thrusts me into survival mode, as I daily strategize how to do all of the "to do's" without massively stressing my body.

The strategizing has been a way of life for me. It's a product of reason and the system under which our society has been taught to operate. But it's also a product of the hardships I have faced growing up, and has been exacerbated by the financial difficulties that have resulted from not being able to work a full-time job for seven years. While the challenges have also caused me to depend more deeply upon God, knowing that He is providing for me is a battle whenever I stray from His presence. So at times, I push myself- to do what I'm not sure He expects me to do, but which I do, because common sense tells me people have to work if they want to eat.

God doesn't live within the confines of what we call common sense, but I'm not willing to bet I can rest on my laurels until my body feels like working, and still live in the beautiful condominium that God has provided for me.

But I'm digressing here. This past week, I gave myself permission to rest fully, when a thousand new work projects clamored for my attention. But I did so only because I had no other choice. And then I asked myself why I allowed myself to clear the "to do" list only because I was too sick to stomach anything but bananas and rice?

That ain't right.

Strategizing instead of surrendering in the Lord is one problem, but the other is that I sometimes don't have a healthy concept of what God expects of me. My workaholic tendencies leave me not knowing when I'm engaging in the addiction, and when I just need to push myself a little to put some bread on the table.

I don't work ten, or twelve, hours per day. I can't. My body decided a long time ago it wouldn't put up with that garbage anymore. When I worked for United Airlines, I sometimes put in 14-hour duty days, but when the marathon days started to become a regular occurrence, my body protested with symptoms, as if to say, "I'm not doing this anymore."

So now, I might write (my principal job) for only four to six hours a day, but those hours stretch across an entire day when I combine them with the other stuff on my "to do" list. And before I know it, the day is filled with obligations and there's little leftover for recreation or relationships- the stuff of which life is meant to be about, just as much as work.

Yet I am thankful. God has miraculously provided for all of my needs, and continues to provide. Writing is difficult, draining work, but at least I don't have to get up at 6 AM, fight traffic and put on make-up and a suit in the morning. I couldn't do it, anyway.

Fortunately, whenever I spend time in God's presence, He enables me to move out of survival mode and shun the false expectations- both of which beset me whenever I buy into the lie that I don't have time for Him or for other people, because there's just too much on the "to-do" list.

But I usually need an hour or two alone with my Lord and Savior- every day- in order to know who He is for me and that I will be provided for, broken body or not. And whenever I lie down, and ask Him for truth and peace- or for whatever it is that He knows I need- I find my strategies disintegrating and my striving abating. The answers to the "to do" list simply come, or the means to do becomes more evident, or I receive His peace about the problems for which I don't yet have solutions.

And during my time with Him, He often encourages me to do one more thing- to have a social life; something that has been denied me to some extent because I haven't felt well for so long, and am accustomed to making survival activities my priority. But surviving isn't living, and I'm slowly learning to believe that God will provide- even if I don't get enough work done because I decided to watch a movie or have dinner with a friend, instead.

Because it was for relationships that we were made, and the body doesn't heal well if the soul is lonely, sad or isolated. As others who read this blog will attest, suffering from symptoms of chronic illness can present a formidable challenge to being in relationships and being able to participate in social events with others. Yet real love transcends recreational companionship and needing friends who are always witty, happy and "with it," and survival and meaning in life come not only through our work, but through the relationships that we have with others.

When I reflect upon my "to do" list- not just my paid work, but my laundry, the dishes and the thousand and one errands that I have to do, I realize that it isn't just me or others with health problems who have too much to do. We live in a society where distractions and obligations abound and technology seems to increase the demands that are inadvertently thrust upon us. Everyone has fifteen email accounts, five thousand friends on Facebook and a million things to do besides.

Half of us live alone or are single parents, divorced or sick; - all of which increase the burden of life's responsibilities upon us, because, instead of sharing in life's duties by living in community with one another, we live alone and manage it all ourselves. Whether it's because we're single or simply like our personal space, the end result of being in such situations is often isolation, loneliness, shallow Internet relationships, and fatigue- the latter resulting from a larger "to do" list than we need to have.

I don't blame anyone for seeking companionship on the Internet. I do it at times, because I live and work alone, and on days when I'm not well enough to step outside my front door, Internet friendships help me to keep my sanity. And I love the people I have met on Facebook and in Lyme disease support groups- as far as I know them, of course. That said, a "friend" on Facebook once said to me, "You know, a lot of people really love you." (Meaning, those who read my books and blogs). I politely responded, "They don't know me. They admire me for my work and my insights, which is different."

While Internet friendships can provide a valuable source of companionship to those who are truly too sick to get out of the house, we all need face-to-face relationships with people, too. People who can hug us, squeeze our hands and smile; share meals with us, laugh with us over a comedy and share in life's responsibilities, and whose communication with us goes beyond the written word. But the Internet is replacing these types of face-to-face relationships with others. This, along with a mentality of independence- with which most of us have been raised-and the circumstances under which we live, foster a life of isolation, which I believe God never intended for His people.

I have traveled to over fifty nations in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America, and I have observed that the happiest societies seem to be those where interdependence is not only encouraged, but is also a necessity, and daily social time with family and friends is a priority, not an option. Many of us in the United States are lucky if we share a meal with another human being on a weekly, or even monthly, basis.

There are no easy solutions for the soul accustomed to a life of relative isolation. I'm still trying to find a way out of the quandary myself. But I want to experience the fullness of life that God has for me in relationship with other people, and that means taking and making social time as much of a priority as my so-called "survival activities." And only by spending time with God am I continually reminded, that it is for relationships that we were made. Because only by being with others do we truly survive- and live life to the fullest.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Jewels From My Journal

God speaks to us in many ways. Through nature, events, circumstances, people, books, the Bible, impressions, dreams, visions, and our thoughts.

During my daily prayer time, I generally spend just as much time listening for God's voice as I do speaking to Him. Maybe it's because I'm a writer, but I hear God best through words, sentences and phrases that come to mind whenever I pray. Over the past few years, I have kept a journal of what He has told me through my conversations with Him. I believe that most of the words that are scrawled within this journal are His. I say "most" because my mind has biases and preferences, and my soul carries wounds- which sometimes get in the way of me hearing perfectly from God.

Still, whenever I reflect upon the pages of my journal, I am struck by certain phrases, which I know are from Him, because they are more insightful, optimistic, encouraging and wise than the normal ramble that races across my mind. And they are consistent with His Word and loving character.

Below I share some of the "jewels" of thought that God has given me over the past year, and which I have recorded in my journal during my private times with Him. I share these in the hopes that they will encourage you, too.

What God has said to me:

"When you don't believe I am good, come to Me and I will show you that I am good"

"Stop being practical and live from My promises, not out of your reason."

"Spend more time in the reality of Me than in the reality of what's happening in the world and in your physical body. This is the only way to peace."

"Your greatest struggle isn't poverty, isolation, or sickness. It's your lack of peace. I will teach you how to have peace in every situation, if you come to Me."

"I build trust through uncertain circumstances, not situations of ease."

"You don't have to seek Me, believe Me, or obey Me perfectly in order for My will to be fulfilled in you."

"I can use you, through your mistakes and though your heart's motives towards Me are imperfect."

"I am not the means to your end. I am the end that provides your means."

"If you take to heart the things I have told you about your identity in Me, you will start to see opportunities. It is not opportunities you need, but knowledge of your identity in Me and and who I am for you."

"When people are healed with medicine, there is no recognition that it was because of my Son's work. They may know I blessed the treatment, but it's not the same as understanding that my Son died on a Cross so that they could be (supernaturally) healed. That understanding only happens with miracles."

"Your (healing) testimony isn't going to be that a treatment protocol made you well. Neither you nor your doctors will receive that glory. Only I can heal you fully."

"Remember, every promise I have given you will be challenged by the enemy. When things become especially dark, that is because the dawn is coming."

"Thanking Me and praising Me tears away the veil of lies you believe (about yourself and others)."

"Belief isn't a feeling; it's a choice."

"You want a complicated answer, but the answer is simple: Spend time with Me. That is how you believe and receive. By knowing who I Am."

"Do more things that inspire you. This will teach you how to live out of your heart, not your mind."

"There is grace for your suffering, but at the same time, there are spiritual laws. Words create reality. You must understand this. But my Spirit indwells you and enables you to create the reality I have in mind for you."

"Look to me to help you. Do you want to be well? Then immerse yourself in Me, though it costs you everything."

"When you are suffering and in pain, invert reality. Speak the opposite of what you feel. Do the opposite of what you feel like doing, and great power will be released. All things are possible with my Spirit."

"You say you can't do what I ask of you, but don't forget, I am your helper, and I work in you to will and to do all things."

"Life feels like it's falling apart to you, but the truth is, you are being prepared and aligned. Stop exalting the enemy's attacks against you. Exalt My promises and what I have told you are my plans for you."

"Man's greatest challenge has always been to believe Me. The Bible is filled with such stories. But all things are possible if you have faith."

"Don't be content with 'crumbs' in your relationships- I have come that you may have life, and have it more abundantly."

"I know you are tired, and I grieve with you."

"The core of your pain is that you believe I have rejected you, and the pain has been reinforced by the circumstances of your life. You can't heal this. I must do it-and I will do it- in my time."

"My people believe everything they hear but what comes from my Word. They believe in recession and in the reports of disaster. But what about My report and My promises of abundance?"

"One day you will receive that flood of My presence that you are seeking. Until then, learn to experience me in the more subtle, day-to-day expressions of life."

"Trust, praise and thankfulness open a lot of doors."

"Continue to insist upon the power of your words, and you will see things change in your life. Even if you don't believe at first."

"I like it when you think of Me."

"I delight in spending time with you."

"You don't need to speak words of truth to convince me to bless you, but to convince you that I want to bless you."

"I am a God of detail. I like to know the details of your life. Even those which you consider to be insignificant."

"Rest. Be at peace. I am your provider."

"Don't invent quotas for spending time with Me. Let your time with Me be without compulsion."

"Seek Me with all your heart, that you may remain grounded in truth and forget every reminder of the enemy's work in your life."

"Dare to trust Me."

"Do you know what it's like to be friends with someone apart from what they can do for you? Strive for that kind of friendship with Me."

"Focus on what I have already done for you. It will open the door for you to receive more."

"I know the difficult position you are in, and I am coming to rescue you."

"Don't lie in your bed in the morning and meditate upon lies. Meditate upon my Word."

"You don't need a (physical) remedy. You need to declare the truth about who you are in Me. That you are loved, loveable and capable of giving love to others."

"I don't need you to heal yourself. I just need you to trust Me."

"Your latter years will be greater than your former years. I will restore every year that the locusts have stolen away."

"Meditate upon the fact that I died so that you could have the power that raised Jesus from the dead residing in you. And that this power (the Holy Spirit)enables you to do all things."

"I long for you to seek Me and spend time with Me just for the sake of being with Me. I enjoy being with you. I adore you. I delight in you."

Monday, February 27, 2012

Discovering the Why and What of Our Desires and Gifts

When I was a young child, I once asked my mom out of the blue, "Mommy, where's South America?" I subsequently developed a fascination with the Amazon, Latin people and the Spanish language.

When I signed up for my first Spanish class at age 13, and before I knew a word of the language besides "Hola", I knew that I was going to love it and be good at speaking it. And I knew that one day I would travel to South America and that my heart would remain there.

How could I have known these things, never having experienced Latin America or known what it was like to speak Spanish? I believe it's because God birthed them into my heart.

The things that intrigue and fascinate us, as well as our natural gifts, are often clues to God's destiny for us, though we may not realize it when we first discover them. He didn't fit us with interests, passions and likes for nothing, though we may be tempted to think so, especially when He hasn't (apparently) used them much in our lives, or we believe that their use is solely for recreational purposes.

I studied Spanish throughout high school and college. Though I enjoyed it, it was also tedious to learn. For years, I didn't see the fruit of my labor, and until I graduated from college, Spanish was little more than a series of mental exercises for me. And as a Spanish major in college, I wondered how it would be useful in a career. At times, I have believed that I should have been more practical and studied engineering or marketing or something else that would have been (supposedly) more useful in the business world.

But over the past seventeen years, God has used my ability to speak Spanish and my love for Latin America in ways that have exceeded my wildest dreams.

For instance, I never imagined that by age 20, (and after having lived in Argentina as an exchange student for a year), I would speak Spanish with a fluency and accent that would confuse some into thinking that I had been raised in Latin America. I never would have guessed that by the time I was 30, I would have traveled to nearly every country south of Mexico, and lived for short periods of time in Venezuela and Costa Rica, in addition to Argentina.

Yet as precious as the gifts of travel and becoming fluent in another language have been for me, much more has come of the desire that God birthed in me to learn Spanish and become enamored with all things south of the border. Perhaps most important are the deep friendships that I have developed with Spanish speakers. Second to that are the eyes and ears that I now have to see how people of other cultures think, live and experience God. I have also developed more profound insights into my own culture, as I compare and contrast the society in which I live, to the different societies of Latin America.

I have also used Spanish in my work- as a medical interpreter, translator, Spanish instructor, flight attendant, and missionary. I have used it to communicate God's love to people in Guatemala, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Cuba and beyond. Just yesterday, I used it to pray for a beggar on the street, who couldn't work due to severe back problems. As she wiped tears from her cheeks, I realized that God had healed her. When she confirmed this, and showed me how she could move parts of her body that she couldn't move before, I was, once again, thankful for my gift. I have used it to dispel myths about Americans to Latinos, and myths about Latinos to Americans. I have used it to create a bridge between my culture and that of others.

Travel for me these days is hard. I don't sleep well, and Latin America is really the last place that a sleepless soul who needs peace and quiet to rest, should be. As I write this from a balcony fronting the ocean on the Guanacaste peninsula of Costa Rica, I am reminded that the sleeplessness, along with other symptoms that I suffer from, aren't for forever. Because I think that God intends to my gifts for an even greater purpose, and this purpose can't be accomplished unless I am able to sleep and function in the places that I used to travel to- places more rustic and less comfortable than my friend's plush beach condominium in Costa Rica.

But just as, at the age of 13, I couldn't have guessed all that God would use my gifts and passions for, at the moment, I can't fathom the even greater ways in which He will use them, but I sense that He's just getting started with me.

How do I know for sure? I don't, but every time I am nudged to read a Mario Vargas Llosa novel, or pray over a beggar, I sense something bigger in the works beyond the activity at hand.

I share my experience to encourage those of you who have wondered if your passions are for a purpose; if your interests aren't just for your own enjoyment, and if God desires to do something great with the natural gifts and desires that He's given you.

God is glorified when we explore, express and use our natural gifts for His Kingdom. Sometimes, what seems like a useless talent or frivolous dream is really the seed of a majestic plant that God intends to grow and use to draw people to Him, although life sometimes has a way of squashing the seeds that God has planted within us. Yet if we ask Him to resurrect our dreams; to show us the what and why of our passions, and to develop that which He has placed within us, we will see those seeds bearing fruit that satisfies us in a way that goes beyond selfish pleasure, recreation or vain ambition. There is nothing wrong with pleasure, but sometimes, God desires to take something that gives us pleasure and use it for the good of others, too.

Recalling your childhood interests and fantasies, and exploring the pure, innocent passions of your youth, may help you to discover how God intends to use all that He has placed within your soul.

Knowing why and for what we were given talents and desires, helps to sustain us during times of trial or uncertainty and to have hope when life seems to offer none. Just as I didn't know at age 13 that God meant to use my love of Spanish and Latin America for so many purposes, so you may not know, until you ask Him, the entire reason for the talents and loves that He has placed within your heart. And if you have forgotten how to dream; if you can't remember what stirs your soul to life, and what awakens joy within you, ask God to resurrect those things, that you may once again, dare to dream with Him.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Choosing Redemption

Lately, God has been revealing to me some ugly truths about my consecration-or lack thereof-to Him. As His light shines upon the dark spaces in my soul, I realize how much of my relationship with Him has been based upon my need for Him, rather than my love for Him. I see how much of my ministry has been based upon selfish motives, and how the cocktail of my thoughts is more often a bitter brew than a sweet Spirit-filled punch. And He's been showing me how these bitter thoughts stem from unresolved anger that I harbor towards Him- anger which began in my childhood and which has subtly choked my relationship with Him over the years.

Roots of bitterness aren't easily yanked from soil that has been rained on, packed down and fertilized by a lifetime of trials, so I don't think God is disappointed that I can't just rip the suckers out with my hands. The traumas I have endured have been severe, and my need for grace has been infinite. Yet I had hoped that after a decade of following Him wholeheartedly, my love for Him would be deeper, and my consecration to Him, greater.

If I ever thought that being in full-time ministry was my calling, I discarded the idea a couple of weeks ago. Well, sort of. I simply decided that I couldn't be used by God in my current condition and that my soul was too shredded to ever come to a truly profound knowledge of His love for me. I'm a walking bag of loveless, irritable bones these days. Maybe it's the lack of sleep. Maybe it's the pain in my hip and back. Or maybe I'm using these problems as excuses to feed those bitter roots of disappointment in God. In any case, God would never use such a person in high levels of ministry, lest the sharks of pride or something worse eat me alive.

Or have I simply been believing a fantastic lie about my usefulness to God and my ability to receive from Him? In any case, the enemy threw some well-harvested salt into the wound created by this belief at a Christian conference this weekend.

I preface this story by saying that God's love towards us and our love for Him can't always be measured by our feelings. Feelings are subject to our biochemistry, and faith has nothing to do with our neurotransmitters, hormones or other chemicals that affect our mood and thoughts.

So when the Holy Spirit touches people, especially at charismatic and Pentecostal healing conferences, and His presence manifests in us as feelings of joy, tears of release, and other warm fuzzy expressions, such feelings shouldn't be used as the barometer by which we measure the quality of our relationship with God.

But everyone still wants a warm fuzzy from God, because fuzzies touch our emotions and help us to feel reassured that He loves us.

So when I was literally (or so it seemed) the only conference attendee this weekend who didn't receive a powerful physical or emotional manifestation of God's presence in my inner being, the enemy vanquished Truth from my mind and said to me, See? You can't even receive God's love.

Normally, my thoughts don't descend into such a dark pit simply because I fail to fall to the ground under the power of God's Spirit, or I don't sense His presence when a well-anointed minister comes and imparts the Spirit to me. But I have never witnessed such a powerful anointing upon one of God's ministers as that which I saw this weekend, and yet never felt so strongly like I was the only one who couldn't be a part of what God was doing.

Shirley Strand was the minister, and as she prophesied and extended her hand to impart God's Spirit to each one of the forty-some women who came to the altar to receive from God, I watched many of them fall to the ground, with shouts of joy, tears of laughter, and other obvious physical manifestations of God's presence.

Usually, in these type of services, not everyone exhibits visible evidence of having been touched by God, but this time, nearly everyone that I saw, did. It was amazing. Every time I looked up to see what God was doing...Bam! Someone was falling down under the power of the Holy Spirit.

But when Shirley prayed over me, I felt nothing. As tears welled in my eyes, I looked at her and said, "I can't receive from God."

She prayed over me once again and still, I felt nothing. She ordered me to sit down, and as I watched her continue to minister over other people, grief filled my chest. Instead of comforting me, God seemed to be confirming my earlier suspicions that I was beyond being touched by Him...beyond redemption, beyond ever sensing His love in the way that I so desperately needed to.
Beyond ever being used greatly in ministry.

But the next thing I knew, Shirley was standing in front of me again. She said to me, "Okay, get up. You're going to come minister with me."

I forced a smile, though I'm sure my expression screamed devastation. If it wasn't, my soul certainly was, but nobody seemed to notice as Shirley took my arm and raised it to the people still awaiting a touch from God. As my hand touched their faces, they collapsed backwards, releasing peals of laughter and shrieks of joy as they went. Some simply fell, struck by the power of God flowing through my hand as Shirley moved me from one person to another. Granted, it was her anointing, not mine, touching the people. I was simply her puppet, but I didn't understand in that grief-stricken moment that God was doing something with me besides trying to get me to smile.

My grief intensified as the women fell. Everyone in the room seemed to be receiving a touch from God--that is, everyone but me- the instrument that ironically, He was using to drop the people to the ground like sacks of potatoes.

Maybe Shirley just wanted to cheer me up, I thought. After all, it was her anointing that was touching the people, not mine. Anyway, I was too bitter to be used by God in that moment...or was I?

The message became clearer when one of the women who had organized the conference came over to me and prophesied over me. She said, "You are a healing minister. I saw it all over you the second you walked through the door (of the church)."

She then told me she thought that it was no accident that Shirley had asked me to stand and minister to the people, because she thought that God was calling me to do the work of an evangelist, too.

It's not the first time I have heard it, or the second, or the third. We are all called to pray for the healing of one another, but as the conference concluded, I realized that God was yet calling me to a position of higher authority in ministry. He still believed that I could be healed of my wounds, and when that happened, it would unfold into the fulfillment of an amazing promise.

I didn't receive a touch from the Holy Spirit as I had hoped this weekend, but as I left the conference, I realized that God had yet reached out to me- knowing, perhaps, that using my hand in ministry and receiving words of prophecy were the only ways that I would be able to sense His love, and receive the knowledge that He yet intended to do great things with my life, despite what I believed about myself. I could have chosen to ignore the signs, and the message. I could have said to myself, "Shirley just asked me to minister with her because she felt sorry for me. The prophet called me a healing minister-but aren't we all?"

As I drove home, I realized that how I decided to view the situation meant the difference between growing my bitter roots towards God or taking another step towards uprooting them.

As difficult as it was to choose, I finally decided that God using my hand in ministry was meant to be a foreshadowing of the fulfillment of one of His great promises in my life. The prophecy was meant to confirm that He intends to use me in an even greater capacity as a healing minister, and that He yet thinks I'm divine material for that purpose. That my lack of consecration, irritability and intermittent bitterness are no hindrance to the fulfillment of His promises for my life- if I keep seeking to be healed from them. But like a surgeon who removes infection with a scalpel or a knife, God must first bring my infection into the light, before He begins the painful work of cutting it out, so that I may eventually be healed.

The choice I made at the conference to believe that I am one of God's sheep, instead of a stubborn little mule who is too broken to receive anything from Him, wasn't just for yesterday. As the daily stresses of life press upon me and symptoms continue to poke at my happiness, I realize that I must continue to choose to see His love and promises through the grind of my day-to-day existence, instead of focusing upon difficult circumstances that blind me to His Truths.

The devil is always looking to slap a blindfold across our eyes and tell us that we aren't really chosen, loved or created by God for great things. He would have us believe that we are more screwed up than any other; that our messes make it impossible for us to receive from God or be used by Him. That lie has never hit me so forcefully as it did this past weekend.

But then God reminded me that the darkest hour in our lives is sometimes just before the dawn. Though I yet long for God to descend upon me with flurries of warm fuzzies, I realize that to see the dawn, I must stop expecting Him to love me my way, and instead allow Him to love me His way. And I must know that He doesn't give up on me, even when I give up on me. Only then, will I perceive His gestures of love towards me in the darkness.

May we know in our heart of hearts that we are not beyond redemption. May we know that there is no soul on this earth that the power of Jesus Christ can't touch, and no wound that He can't heal. May we know that our circumstances and emotions are no reflection of His love towards us, and that when we are tempted to see them as such, we must look to the Cross and know that we are loved, simply because of what He did for us there.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Satiating The Need For Solutions

It is human nature to find security in solutions. If we know what job we are supposed to hold; which relationships to pursue; what health remedies to take...if we feel confident in the strategies and opportunities presented to us, we feel safe.

Personally, I'm always in pursuit of something. I'm inquisitive but my need for answers sometimes stems from fear. What looks like logic, common sense, healthy pondering or really fear. Fear masks itself as many things. One of its more subtle manifestations is in the fierce pursuit of solutions, whether or not God is involved in the chase.

God has made us curious beings. He has designed us to be seekers of knowledge. But as respected evangelist Leif Hetland said in a meeting at my church last week, "We are a society with much knowledge, but little wisdom." (my paraphrase).

And I wonder if our insatiable desire for knowledge is sometimes a sneaky counterfeit for security in the Lord. Knowledge leads to solutions... which leads to feelings of safety...or so we think.

I have been researching medicine for nearly a decade now, yet the more I learn, the more I realize that I know very little about how to heal the body. Medical knowledge is, in some ways, like a drug to me. Every new discovery infuses me with an emotional high at the promise of what it will bring- to the health of my body and that of others. But when that knowledge doesn't fulfill its illusory promise to heal me or thousands of others, disappointment deluges my soul.

The same can be said for any type of knowledge that we pursue. While sometimes useful, valid, important and intriguing- when we lean on knowledge instead of the One who gives all knowledge, we get into trouble.

This is because pursuing solutions for the sake of security blinds us to the right information that God would have us use for the furtherance of His Kingdom, our well being, and that of others. It also puts our hope in the wrong place- in our intellect, or in God's resources, instead of in Him.

Knowledge is important, but wisdom is better. Wisdom teaches us what to do with what we know, how to apply it, and how to submit it to God's will. Wisdom admonishes us to use knowledge as a tool, not a security blanket, and keeps our hope centered in the proper place-upon Him.

Wisdom enables us to take comfort in the apparent absence of solutions; in the scarcity of immediate answers and knowledge which we believe will get us to where we need to go.

In my life, wisdom admonishes me to trust when I don't know how to cure my insomnia. It teaches me how to sift the valuable medical knowledge that I gather from the chaff, and it shows me how to rest, when God isn't flashing neon signs across my conscience.

Living without solutions- or when the only solution is to be content to have none- is difficult. Yet it is also freeing, because it can teach us to rely upon and submit to God, knowing that the answers will come when, and if, we need them. Often, what we think we need to know, we would be better off without. Society clutters our minds with news, facts, theories, trends, and advertisements that aren't of God, but which we strive to sort from the stuff that God gives us.

I wonder what would happen, for example, if every person in the United States closed their eyes to any text but the Bible for a week? If we agreed to disregard all that we know- "except for Christ Jesus and Him crucified" (1 Cor. 2:2)? Rather than sentence us to a narrow-minded existence, I believe it would open our eyes and ears to gold mines of knowledge- the likes of which we really need.

I confess, as of late, I have been led astray because my faith, and security, has been in solutions. I have believed that my survival depends upon having the right answers, not the right Counselor, who, while silent at times, desires so deeply to provide for me, even when my mind and soul are blank.

Our desperate searching for solutions will not cease unless we choose to trust God with what we don't know- and what we do. Sometimes, I think He allows all solutions to be snatched away from us for a time, for our own good. So that we may learn to rest and have peace in Him, rather than in the need for answers. May He be the only answer we need.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Moving Into Costly, Yet Priceless Higher Places

Upon the heels of a major breakthrough in my healing this month, came two more significant trials. After having experienced a week of amazing health (perhaps the best since 2004), I was hit with insomnia unlike anything I have ever experienced before. No exaggeration. It has been two radical extremes. The six hours of prayer ministry that I received three weeks ago released me from some major strongholds, and for the first time in years, my blood pressure normalized, my energy soared, and despair vanished. When this continued for a full week, hope rose in my heart- yet it was tentative. So when a friend said to me, "If you think you have been healed, why aren't you jumping up and down with excitement?" I explained to him that it's hard to do that when you've been in prison for so long. The freedom just feels too good to be true, and you fear trusting it.

Besides, I've had windows of feeling well throughout my journey with Lyme disease. Although...this time it felt somewhat different.

I'm not sure if the insomnia and attack upon a very important relationship in my life were the retaliation in the spirit world for the freedom I had attained following the prayer, but it made sense that if the enemy could get me to become so sleep-deprived to the point of not being able to work or drive a car, I would doubt I had been set free at all. If he could get me to sink into despair over the potential loss of a close friend that I deeply loved- this would further destroy my health.

As I shed copious tears of frustration, I felt God asking me to take His hand and to come up into a higher place of Truth with Him. Moving into higher places with God always has a cost, because it means thinking and doing things that are hard, or which feel unsafe. It means trusting that what He has said He will do, He does, and that what promises, He makes come true- despite the lack of visible evidence. This time, it meant accepting apparent deprivation, making some difficult choices, and staying in the reality of my new found health freedom- though darkness was once again coming against that freedom.

Whenever I don't trust God, moving into higher places with Him feels costly. Yet whenever I am able to trust Him, I know that getting to the higher places is priceless, and that the cost is worth it.

Some months ago, God gave me a prophetic dream. In this dream, I was in a department store, and I had to try on three different evening gowns. The first dress that I tried on- a pink one- was too tight for me. The second- a vibrant purple one- was just slightly too big. The third- a red, frilly dress- fit me perfectly, though I didn't like it much. In the Bible, colors have meanings- both positive and negative. When I asked for revelation of the dream, I was told, "The pink dress didn't fit you, because you have outgrown childish things. The red dress fits you because you are in a season of spiritual warfare (red in this case, signified warfare). I wanted to wear the purple dress, but God told me I wasn't ready to wear it yet. Several months later, He told me through my prayers that He wanted to put me in the purple dress, but that I needed to overcome certain harmful attitudes and behaviors in my relationship with Him-especially unbelief. Purple in the Bible means royalty, and is also synonymous with the gifts of leadership and administration.

Because two of my spiritual gifts are leadership and administration, I took the dream and God's words as a sign that He desires to move me into places of higher authority, in my work and life's calling. But first, I must move into higher places with Him. This requires doing what feels counter-intuitive to my heart and mind, in order to overcome those sins that keep me from being fully free.

God's kingdom is like that, though. Upside down and counter-intuitive. Upside down because the person who wants to be greatest in the kingdom must humble themselves and become a servant; and counter-intuitive because blessings sometimes come from doing what feels wrong and unsafe to the carnal mind, but which is right in God's kingdom.

Only when we trust God can we effectively submit our thought processes and behaviors to Him, especially when we desperately think we are right (but He is silently suggesting otherwise). It takes courage to heed that voice, and even greater courage to do what He asks, because it opposes worldly philosophies, carnal knowledge, circumstances and most importantly, our heart, which screams for our needs to be met-right now.

When life is rough, I struggle to believe that God cares about my needs. Though His hand is extended, I recoil because I fear what going into the Higher places means. Is it not just a place of servitude and more trials? How do I know I can count on His Word to do what it says? After all, just look at the evidence of my life...all the disappointments and grief... Besides, it's just so hard to do what He asks. That whole delayed gratification thing just seems to extend into infinity.

But then I remember the purple dress, and the multiple times that God has shown me the color purple, through visions, dreams and prophecies of recent years. The promises He has given me- though they have been countered, not only by circumstances, but by well-meaning practical friends in the world who pooh-pooh prophecy and the notion that God gives us personalized promises today.

Still, I want to wear that dress, and I want my freedom. So though sleep-deprived, I have decided to reach for His hand...May He give me the grace to hold on, and may the conviction of truth propel me into those Higher places, where deception, despair, sickness, loneliness and sadness cannot survive. May He encourage all of us to take His hand, because it was for our freedom that Christ Jesus died- on Earth as it is in Heaven.