Saturday, June 25, 2011

Victories: Health and Relationships Restored

Miraculous, out-of-the blue happenings are a reality, but oftentimes the Lord has been at work while we simply looked elsewhere. Today, you will peek in on victories won and a battle in progress. We have the opportunity to become warriors in the battle with our prayers.

Our families are always a revelation of the truth that God’s ways are not our own, aren’t they? God weaves us together in our families—using our strengths, our weaknesses and our needs—to accomplish His great purposes. Eighteen years ago, David saved his sister’s earthly life. Today, she chooses to serve and bless him in thankfulness and trusting God for eternal victories.

The Lord chose to use a life-threatening illness to restore her to fellowship with Him—and with her brother. The illness also brought transformation to her marriage; other amazing results of the crisis continue to unfold! The solid ground of God’s Word called to her then and sustains her now. May the glimpse of Jesus’ intricate work in these lives obscure any awkwardness created by omitting the sister’s name; the goal is to protect family privacy.
Despite six siblings, only David was a perfect bone marrow match. An unlikely hero in his own eyes—and in the eyes of those who judged only the externals—God had another perspective. A war injury resulting in a lifetime disability had launched David into a debilitating drug problem. Supported by a loving but enabling mother, David’s life had spiraled down until darkness dominated his world. Living in filth with unkempt hair and clothes, David only left his bedroom for the dark, dankness of barrooms and nightlife activities. As his mother’s health declined and nursing home placement became a necessity, homelessness loomed. God wove together the needs of David’s sister and mother to penetrate his hopelessness. His willingness to give life to his sister opened doors David could not have imagined.

The desperation of David’s situation and thankfulness for his gift of life propelled his sister to action. She invited him to move into an apartment above her own. Inspired by her own new lease on life, she suggested changes for him, and in God’s divine timing, David agreed! A haircut, regular laundering and home-cooked meals have lifted David into a world with light and cleanliness. It has brought him into contact with others and opened his world. The dramatic changes in David’s life brought his self-esteem to new heights; it also deeply touched the lives of his family members. God continues to use David to touch others and inspire hope. His sister’s devotion to him and God is a source of seed planting from which she trusts God to produce a harvest.

God has given many victories in this story already: cancer conquered, addiction chains unbound, fellowship restored! Let us praise God for our hero, Jesus! The great miracle of redemption for David is a victory yet to be gained, though. Let us storm the gates of heaven and seek this victory for our story hero, David!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Victories: Shirley

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. 1John 4:18

Greetings a day early!  I will be taking a 'fast' from internet and email for a week, so wanted to do this tonight and say, see you next week.  Blessings to you all.  Enjoy this story--the 'one' that got me started on this theme.  Neat place to remind you all of a good acronomy for FEAR:  False Evidence Appearing Real.  We can reject FEAR because of Jesus!

Today's Victory Report is from Shirley who has found a freedom in God’s love she describes as a miracle! In her early fifties, failing health forced Shirley into a nursing home. Her long-time battle against depression seemed even more hopeless. Shirley blamed her difficulties on herself and felt worthless. She had felt that a little more time in the Word—a little more effort on her part—would produce the peace she desired. Her harsh indictment of herself held her captive. God’s love has set her free!

Enjoy her words: “I feel like a new creature who can come out from hiding! I feel like the confident, loveable person God has created me to be! I never realized I was bound with so much fear.”

Can you relate to Shirley’s exciting discovery?! Fear keeps us focused on our problems and our inadequacy; God’s love allows us to face every circumstance with confidence because He loves us! We are free to be imperfect, free to be wrong and free to love (and be loved) even when we disagree with others. Our worth is in Him, not ourselves, and that makes us a priceless, useful vessel for the glory of God. May we each learn from Shirley’s experience and soak in His love that we, too, can be free!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Glimpsing God's Glory

Good Saturday morning!  I am convinced that unveiling God in the details of our days is both a privilege and a responsibility.  Every child of God is blessed by His presence; it is challenging to fix our eyes on the victories in our lives though.  Today's column is a request for YOU to consider how God has worked in the battles you have faced.  If you do that, would you share your glimpse?  You do not have to write in detail, just jot me some notes about the experience and I will draft a piece for your review and approval (or not) prior to printing.  Our stories of blessing are to be shared to encourage others!

The battles of life are as diverse as our own individual personalities. A battle against alcohol may have no greater spiritual significance than another saint’s battle against critical speaking. Self-mutilation, lies, murder, unforgiveness, slander—all are sins which, when grown, produce death and destruction. Jesus came to set us free from sin’s captivity. Giving Him the glory for chains released is our glorious privilege. It has been said that our battles are our unique opportunities to give a victory to Jesus that only we can give!


We love to recite Romans 8:28 but too often we present Christianity as a future hope more than a present reality. People need to know faith in Jesus Christ can make a difference when:

• The children are sick and the boss insists on your presence at the meeting.

• Your frail and aging parents have more needs than you can meet.

• Your spouse chooses to end the marriage.

• Your child loses their way and continues to spin farther from God.

• Failure seems to be the only thing you are capable of…

Jesus meets us in our battles in ways and times perfect for our needs. He uses all we encounter to help us learn who we are and to reveal to us that He is the great “I am.” God reveals Himself in His people (in the details of our lives) so that others can see Him and know who He is too! We have the joy of helping people glimpse new dimensions of our awesome God as we share the victories that walking in the light of Christ’s presence.

God’s Word enlightens our path and reveals ways we can obediently follow Him as we face hard times. Sharing the instructions and victories we receive helps others see Truth as well. Consider the glimpses of God from the battles above:

• A parent learns God still provides as she prays and shares her dilemma.
• The overwhelmed caregiver finds new understanding about God’s ability to meet needs and learns to rest in Him rather than ‘do it all.’

• The abandoned wife realizes more of Christ’s passion for people who have rejected Him as she confronts her own emotions.
• A parent feels the depth of comfort there is in knowing the Shepherd who searches relentlessly for the lost.
• One focused on perfection finds the peace of knowing that the love of God does not depend on performance.

Those of us who walk with God must tell the difference He makes in our day-to-day lives—and what lies we have to release to receive Him. Please consider sharing the details of how you have glimpsed Christ in your life. The Master Weaver entwines the thread of our lives in amazing ways. We need each other to broaden our view:

That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Victories: Negativity

A spirit of negativity is a nasty opponent. As New Yorkers who have weathered a tough winter and are drowning in a wet spring, so we all are prone to complaining these days! More difficult, though, is the truth that victory over negative thoughts is often a generational battle with deep, tangled roots. To add to the challenge, negativity is deceptive and always insinuates that it is ‘justified.’ Complaining and criticism, though, give no glory to God. They are of no use in the Christian walk; they are the antithesis of doing all for the glory of God! We must have victory over the spirit of negativity!

The results of negative words and thoughts are everywhere, but we often hide behind our unrighteous words with self-righteous indignation. “He deserved it!” “She had that coming for a long time!” We excuse our poor behavior while condemning another. God’s Word exhorts us to use our words to build others up. Furthermore, scripture warns that we are accountable for every word that comes out of our mouths. Ouch! Speaking against others—and even things—makes us co-workers with the Destroyer. We darken the lives of others and callous our own hearts with our negative thoughts and words.

Victory is possible! The Word is, of course, our primary weapon. Obedience to the instructions such as those in 2 Corinthians 10:5 and Philippians 4:8 will do much to vanquish darkness. Our minds are the primary battleground with negativity. We must insist that our thoughts obey God’s direction. We must focus on what is lovely, pure, noble and good. Trusting that God is truthful when He says all things are for the good of those committed to Him allows us to be courageous and hopeful. Our loving heavenly Father filters all that comes to our lives; we must not complain against His permissive will. If we focus on the things that bring despair and darkness, we will fall prey to darkness. Our minds must heed God’s instructions.

Sometimes obedience is hard to muster up, though, is it not? When my spirit is not willing, it helps me to consider the consequences of disobedience. While our hearts ‘should’ always desire to obey, the reality is that they do not. Scripture never sugarcoats the reality of disobedience. The book of Numbers particularly emphasizes the contamination of complaining. It is a pervasive sin, which destroys lives, squashes hope and delays God’s purposes. When we truly understand the damage our disobedience causes, our hearts soften enough to heed God’s instruction.

Yet even when our heads hear truth, our hearts still refuse to believe. If we know that complaining is wrong, if we understand that disobedience brings consequences to ourselves and others and we remain hard, it is time to sit at the cross. We need to spend time in prayer contemplating Christ’s suffering for us. We must remember that while we were still His enemies, He went to the cross for us. We have no grounds to complain about any person or any circumstance in the light of what Christ has done for us. Our hearts, humbled and broken, by His sacrificial love will not complain and criticize. Victory, as always, is in the cross of Christ. Let us triumph over negativity in our own lives and trust Jesus to use that marked difference to draw others to Himself!