Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Oh... Thank you.

"Here are some of my favorite prayers:
Help! Please. Don't.
Show me. Guide me. Change me.
Are you there?!
Why'd you do that?
Thank you."
"The Language of Letting Go" by Melody Beattie
Thanks, Beth!

This is something i learned within my first year with Christ and am continuing to learn. The pain in my hands came within the same month that i gained Christ. Next i lost my job, my apartment, my friends and was living in my car... until it was taken.

As a new Christian, i had no idea what to do but to pray, begging for help. Months later He brought me to a family where i could grow in Him and be nurtured. All that pain was necessary to bring me to that place. Since then i have surrendered much more.

Jesus didn't “fix” my life but He walks with me through it. There are no guarantees of perfect health, wealth, relations, comfort ect; yet there is comfort that Jesus was/is familiar with trials. Trials that make us more like Him.
Trials: 1) [peirasmos] meant to fail, usually from Satan
2) [dokimion] reveals value, test from God
(we don't get to know which type of trial happens when)
3) [hypomenes] steadfast endurance

What do we do? Rejoice! Rejoice in the result of trial.

Reactions of human proclivity:

judge God-> repent!
envy other's lives-> covetousness-> repent!
self pity -> become selfish and closed in, pride-> repent!
functional god-> drugs, alcohol, sex, food, ect.-> repent!

Godly Reactions:

Experience Trials-> Feel Grief-> Respond in Rejoicing!

1 Peter 1:6
6In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed (grieved) by various trials, 7so that the proof [dokimion] of your faith,... may be found to result in praise and glory and honor (worship words) at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

James 1:2-3

2Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials [peirasmos], 3knowing that the testing [dokimion] of your faith produces endurance [hypomenes].

10 Reasons to Rejoice:
1) Mercy for our sin,
2) you are Born Again,
3) in the Resurection of Jesus,
4) you have an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled and will not fade,
5) it is reserved in heaven for you,
6) salvation is secure, you are guarded,
7) life is a little while, it's just life nothing big like God, worse -> bad eternity
8) given faith (purified) worth more than gold,
9) God loves you and you love Him,
10) by faith we see, you have not seen Him but you believe in Him.

"It hurts!"

"I don't see Him."

"I can't make it."

"This isn't what i want!"

"I don't know if i can stick close to Him."

"It is too hard!"

"Make it stop!"

Like a woman in childbirth; so is this life before we see Him.

[Notes from: "Trial and Jesus" Mars Hill Church and "The Cup and the Glory" by Greg Harris]

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

My Thoughts for the Day

So yesterday i was given yet another trial. Nothing crazy, but enough to rattle me. As i was feeling helpless and violated, i thought of Satan asking to torment Job and sift Peter like wheat. For some reason that gave me strength. I am sure Satan has better things to destroy than me, but in the context of my prayer lately it wasn't a surprise that yesterday went down the way it did.

It is fairly easy to fight through trials when you view them as solely an attack from Satan... at least for me. We are linked with Christ, therefore enemies of Satan. We shouldn't be surprised when trial comes. Satan is the enemy and is to be defeated. However, it is not my (or your) job to vanquish Satan - Jesus did that on the cross. The larger component i tend to overlook is that God allows trial and suffering to happen yet never beyond the point you can handle. Why? We may never know this side of eternity, nor should we even inquire, why.
12"Have you ever in your life commanded the morning,
And caused the dawn to know its place,
13That it might take hold of the ends of the earth,
And the wicked be shaken out of it?
Job 38:12-13 (You can pretty much read Job 38-41 and get your answer to the question, why.

We have been given examples in the Bible, and ultimately the legacy of Jesus Himself. We can look back at intimate details of the lives of Peter, Paul and, of course Jesus, and see what the Father's forbearance accomplished. Saul persecuted Christians and looked on with approval at their death. God then struck Saul with blindness and then Saul died and became Paul. Simon was impetuous,
volatile and impulsive. Jesus called Simon to Himself and re-named him Peter the Rock, foreshadowing the man that was to be made. We can see Peter's growth through the New Testament. The Peter of the Gospels is a different man from the Peter in Acts, a different man in Galatians, and still a different man in 1&2 Peter. We actually get to watch how trials grew Peter.

Most important of all, the trials of Jesus. God did not put any restrictions on Satan's request upon Jesus as with Job. Jesus died an excruciating and humiliating death. But after there is joy, just as after birthing pangs, there is joy in a new child.

In my own life, i can see how God is using trials to grow me. Like an ear of corn, you have to husk it, ripping off a piece at a time to get to the good stuff... unless you like Tamales more than corn on the cob... okay, that might have been a bad illustration but you get the point. Through trials, God is stripping you of sin, making you new and that is cause for rejoice!

I will not say that trial and suffering isn't hard - it is, sometimes it hurts so bad that you'd, "choose strangling and death rather than [your] life" (Job 7:15).
But look at what was accomplished in Peter, Paul and on the cross! By enduring affliction, clinging to Jesus we are storing up our treasures in Heaven. So hopefully these stories of what transpired and of what is to come for those who have faith in Jesus will give you an eternal perspective through suffering.

Passage 1 Peter 1:3-7:

3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

4to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,

5who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

6In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials,

7so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;


This is a great sermon on trials. Mark Driscoll pretty much nails it. The intro is kinda cheesy and then he starts off with Mars Hill Church business; so you can start 9 minutes in. You can also click on "downloads" and there is a 200+ page booklet outlining the study.

Here is another great sermon on the same passage by Brian Colmery at Shoreline West Community Church.

Monday, January 19, 2009

“A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance."

“A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance."
Ecclesiastes 3:4

Weep, rejoice, travail and worship;
The Spirit of God will balance us in all if we are sensitive to Him.

Friday, January 16, 2009


This past Tuesday i arrived to a long awaited appointment with neurologists. I saw a resident doctor as well as the head attending. After what seemed like hours of poking, prodding and questioning i was told that there are no more tests to be done. I was prescribed something for pain and physical therapy with a return appointment in a month.

Confused, i asked what we were doing to find the source of the problem. The poor doctor answered, "Well I am optimistic that this medicine and physical therapy will help."
I posed the question again and she answered, "Well I am optimistic because we know it is not Multiple Sclerosis or Fibromyalgia. It is not one of the dangerous conditions."
Again i asked, and she answered, "Well, 50% of patients who suffer from neuropathy go undiagnosed because we just don't know enough about the brain."

I feel bad for that lady having to tell me that. I wonder how many other people she has had to give that kind of news to. It sounds weird but i think i was on the better end of this situation. I would not ever like to be the one to look into the eyes of a dancer (or anyone for that matter) and essentially tell her, there is nothing more to do. There is a good chance you will live the rest of your life in pain.

It is easy to die for Christ. Much harder to live for Christ. Eternal salvation is the freest gift that may cost you everything. Yet the end is worth fighting for. I really wish i could have seen what Peter, James and John did at the transfiguration. Selfish and faithless of me, i know. But it would make this much easier. I heard a quote, C.S. Lewis i think, that went something like, people would live much differently if believers were given a glimpse of eternity and non-believers were dangled over eternal damnation. I would agree.

"Don't give up, give up, hold on,
We're making progress,
Reach out, reach out, reach out and He will lead us on,
Come on, come on, we're getting stronger now,
The end is worth fighting for.

There is hope in the aftermath,
... small steps will lead to bigger things,
His voice brings new beginnings."

Worth Fighting For - Dizmas

Living Hope

Thursday, January 15, 2009

If You Want Me To

The pathway is broken,
And The signs are unclear,
And I don't know the reason why You brought me here,
But just because You love me the way that You do,
I'm gonna walk through the valley,
If You want me to.

Cause I'm not who I was,
When I took my first step,
And I'm clinging to the promise You're not through with me yet,
so if all of these trials bring me closer to you,
Then I will walk through the fire,
If You want me to.

It may not be the way I would have chosen,
When you lead me through a world that's not my home,
But You never said it would be easy,
You only said I'd never go alone.

So When the whole world turns against me,
And I'm all by myself,
And I can't hear You answer my cries for help,
I'll remember the suffering that Your love put You through,
And I walk through the valley If You want me to.

"If You Want Me To", by Ginny Owens

Saturday, January 10, 2009

God Is Strong

12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:12-13

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Over the River and Through the Woods, to the Neurologist's Office We Go!

It certainly seems i have traveled over the river and through the woods to get to this doctor. Yes, January 13th, a week from today, i will finally see a specialist who can take the time to study my symptoms and hopefully diagnose me! I am so excited for this and nervous as well. There is always the chance that this doctor will have no idea what to do with me either.

Over the course of these three years i have come to terms with a few things.

1. I have resigned myself to being physically ill (and believe me, i fought it) because that is where God has me right now.

2. I would be perfectly happy if this ended with me going Home sooner than later. So many nights of pain have brought me to cry out, "Abba Father, take me Home!" To be in the presence of God, for Him to wipe away my tears for all time... i cannot express how joyful that would make me!

3. If this illness was incurable and continually progressive, i have definitely been prepared for that. It would be difficult, but i trust that God would continue to use it for His glory.

4. If the doctor was to find something, treat it and cure me... man, talk about life change! All those that are close to me now, met me when i was already ill. They would possibly see another side of me that has been oppressed by this illness. I would be able to work again... what would i do... everything! There are so many desires stored up in my heart that would then be freed!

5. The doctor could tell me, "I don't know." This one scares me most of all. I am the person that needs to understand everything. If something doesn't make sense, i figure it out. After all this, i could tell you more than you would ever want to know about neuropathy (and symptoms of the like), medicare, disabled parking, how the nervous system works, and so on. This is a sin i struggle with daily. I "need" to know, yet sometimes only God knows and i have such a hard time trusting that i do not need to know.

Regardless of my fears i know they are not greater than my God. It pleases me that the thought of only #2 and #4 make my eyes well up. Either one of those two would result in my dancing before the Lord and that is my greatest desire.

Praise God that no matter what happens our comfort can be in Eternity. All comfort comes from Christ.

Isaiah 40:1-14, 27-31

1 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.

2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her that her warfare is ended,
that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.
3 A voice cries: "In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD;

make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
5 And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken."

6A voice says, "Cry!"

And I said, "What shall I cry?"All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
7The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the LORD blows on it;
surely the people are grass.
8 The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.

9Get you up to a high mountain,

O Zion, herald of good news;
lift up your voice with strength,
O Jerusalem, herald of good news;
lift it up, fear not;
say to the cities of Judah,
"Behold your God!"
10 Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might,
and his arm rules for him;
behold, his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.
11 He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.
12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand

and marked off the heavens with a span,
enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure
and weighed the mountains in scales
and the hills in a balance?
13 Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD,
or what man shows him his counsel?
14Whom did he consult,
and who made him understand?
Who taught him the path of justice,
and taught him knowledge,
and showed him the way of understanding?

27Why do you say, O Jacob,
and speak, O Israel,"My way is hidden from the LORD,
and my right is disregarded by my God"?
28Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
29He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
31but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Hezekiah’s Sickness and Recovery

Here is a story of King Hezekiah. He was brought to his knees before God and saved from disaster.

Although just after (Isaiah 39), he did allow Merodachbaladan, the son of Baladan, king of Babylon (a.k.a. the bad guys) to invite himself over to gaze upon Hezekiah's riches. After, Isaiah has a, "You did what?!" moment (v. 3) and tells Hezekiah he has doomed his descendants. Hezekiah answers by saying, "At least it won't happen to me!" (v. 8)

So Hezekiah isn't exactly someone to model your heart by, however chapter 38 is a beautiful picture of going straight to God and how God shows mercy.

Isaiah 38

1 In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him, and said to him, "Thus says the LORD: Set your house in order, for you shall die, you shall not recover." 2Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, 3and said, "Please, O LORD, remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight."
And Hezekiah wept bitterly.
4Then the word of the LORD came to Isaiah: 5"Go and say to Hezekiah, Thus says the LORD,
the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will add fifteen years to your life. 6 I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria,
and will defend this city.
7"This shall be the sign to you from the LORD, that the LORD will do this thing that he has promised: 8 Behold, I will make the shadow cast by the declining sun on the dial of Ahaz turn back ten steps." So the sun turned back on the dial the ten steps by which it had declined.

9A writing of Hezekiah king of Judah, after he had been sick and had recovered from his sickness:
10I said, In the middle of my days I must depart;
I am consigned to the gates of Sheol for the rest of my years.
11I said, I shall not see the LORD,
the LORD in the land of the living;
I shall look on man no more among the inhabitants of the world.
12My dwelling is plucked up and removed from me like a shepherd’s tent;
like a weaver I have rolled up my life;
he cuts me off from the loom;
from day to night you bring me to an end;
13 I calmed myself until morning;
like a lion he breaks all my bones;
from day to night you bring me to an end.
14Like a swallow or a crane I chirp;
I moan like a dove.
My eyes are weary with looking upward.
O Lord, I am oppressed;
be my pledge of safety!
15What shall I say?
For he has spoken to me,
and he himself has done it.
I walk slowly all my years because of the bitterness of my soul.
16 O Lord, by these things men live,
and in all these is the life of my spirit.
Oh restore me to health and make me live!
17 Behold, it was for my welfare that I had great bitterness;
but in love you have delivered my life from the pit of destruction,
for you have cast all my sins behind your back.
18 For Sheol does not thank you;
death does not praise you;
those who go down to the pit do not hope for your faithfulness.
19The living, the living, he thanks you, as I do this day;
the father makes known to the children your faithfulness.
20The LORD will save me,
and we will play my music on stringed instruments all the days of our lives,
at the house of the LORD.

21 Now Isaiah had said, "Let them take a cake of figs and apply it to the boil,
that he may recover." 22Hezekiah also had said, "What is the sign that I shall go up to the house of the LORD?"

Friday, January 2, 2009

Complaining and Loneliness

Sometimes i feel the urge to complain, sometimes i feel utterly alone in my suffering.
Then it is a time for rejoicing. It is a time to remember that i have fellowship in His suffering, that i may know Him more. There is comfort that God knows what we can bear and no one can (or will) bear as much as Christ.

Isaiah 52:13-53:12:
13Behold, my servant shall act wisely;

he shall be high and lifted up,
and shall be exalted.
14As many were astonished at you— his appearance was so marred,
beyond human semblance,
and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—
15so shall he sprinkle many nations;
kings shall shut their mouths because of him;
for that which has not been told them they see,
and that which they have not heard they understand.

Isaiah 53
1 Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;

yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,

yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
8By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation,
who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
9And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him;

he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
11Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.