Archive for the ‘Christian Living’ Category

A Great Day to be Alive

Monday, April 16th, 2018

great-day-to-be-alive

When you’re living a life of suffering with no end in sight, it’s hard to feel alive. The suffering sucks the life out of you so that you have to rely on God to get through your daily tasks. Strangely, during the past three years of non-stop suffering, I have accomplished more for God’s kingdom than all the rest of my life combined. Maybe it’s because God’s power is perfected in weakness, and the only way to be filled with His power is to surrender when we have nothing left.

This is one reason why suffering is something to rejoice in the midst of, not for the pain itself, but for the results it brings. Endurance and the power of God are only doled out to those who tenaciously cling to God to the death. Or to the living death, which is worse than death because in heaven at least Christ would wipe away every tear from our eyes and there would be no more suffering.

Job felt that way. He sat in the ashes, wailing in horror and sadness, wondering why God had seemingly abandoned him. Why was he born just to suffer?

“It is one thing to bear a sudden tragedy. It is quite another to suffer its pain for weeks and months and even years afterward.” – John Piper

God is full of endless delights, either as we worship Him through song in the midst of suffering to feel His tangible presence, or in His turning events around suddenly in a single day. With Job, God showed up and not only healed him but gave him back twice as much as he had before. He lived the rest of his life in peace and joy, having experienced God in a way few have.

And God was vindicated. Satan lost. God showed Satan that there are some of us—including me—that love God not for what He can give to us but for who He is. He will make all things right in the end and not a single tear goes unnoticed by God. All of our days are written in a book (Psalm 139:16), and if we suffer well, the book that has our name on it in the library of heaven will forever be a slap in Satan’s face that God was worthy to serve even when circumstances appeared to be dark with no way out.

cupcake-stand

So when my daughter walked across a parking lot the other day, she exclaimed with arms extended in the sunshine, “Look, Mom! It’s a great day to be alive!” I stopped and looked at her.

“I guess it is!” I laughed. I remembered a cupcake stand I saw at the mall that my daughter had never seen. I knew she would love the cupcake display, so I asked her, “Do you want to get a cupcake?”

“Sure, Mom!” she said as she rolled down the windows in the car, her hair flying in all directions. I rolled down my own window and shouted, “It’s great to be alive. Woohoo! We’re really living it up today!”

car-wash

After choosing a cupcake and eating it, we drove to the car wash. My daughter wanted to snap selfies during the car wash and told me what a great day she had when we got home.

I guess my point is that you can still feel alive even in a seemingly hopeless situation. With God all things are possible. Even though we might suffer longer than we would prefer, God is bringing about something beautiful out of our tragedy that will be read by generations to come. Don’t lose hope.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16 NIV

How the Money Multiplied

Monday, March 19th, 2018

how-the-money-multiplied

“Why don’t you go home?” my friend from Honduras asked when she saw my eyes drooping as I sat by her bed in the hospital room. I had been by her side for almost a week following her surgery. I decided I needed a nap, and I told her I would be back early the next day to translate the doctor’s instructions before she was released from the hospital.

As I drove away, before getting onto the freeway I saw a bum looking towards the traffic with agony. Normally I feel nothing for bums, but this time I had supernatural compassion from Jesus. I’m not sure how I knew, but I saw that the agony in his soul was real. I couldn’t stop because of the green light and the traffic, so I merged onto the on-ramp to the freeway.

“Why did You give me supernatural compassion for a bum that I couldn’t do anything about?” I asked God, praying for the man, that he would know Christ and that he would once again be a productive member of society. I prayed that God would remove his agony. Then I asked God if I could see him again, and would He tell me what I could do for him.

The next morning while I drove to the hospital, lo and behold, I saw the same bum on the side of the road. I quickly grabbed $20 out of my wallet, rolled the window down, and drew his attention. He came over and received the $20. Then I reached out my hand towards him, and he looked perplexed. He took my hand, and I felt my face shining with Jesus. I cried out, “Jesus loves you!” My heart broke as I smiled at him, and I felt power going out of my hand and into the bum, and he received the love of God coming out of me.

That one moment was frozen in time.

Suddenly he realized the light was going to change and he didn’t want to get run over, so he let go of my hand and hobbled across the street. He was covered in dirt from head to toe, and I could see that he had a lower back problem. I asked God, “Would you please count my laying on of hands for his healing?” I knew that when the power of God went out of me, it felt the same as when I lay hands for healing and deliverance, so something supernatural had already occurred. I had been fasting that day by accident because I didn’t have time to eat before realizing I would miss the doctor’s instructions if I didn’t leave immediately. I determined to go ahead and make it a real fast and dedicated it to the physical healing of the bum.

Entering the hospital room, I told my friend about the bum. The doctor came and gave instructions. The nurse told me we could pick up the medication in the hospital pharmacy. Realizing that there was no one to pay for the medication (my Honduras friend has no money), I went down to my car to get my wallet. I looked inside to see how much cash I had. I despise credit cards, so I buy groceries with cash at a store that only takes cash and has lower-priced foods.

I saw that I had two $20 bills left, and I prayed that it would be enough to pay for her medication. I clearly saw that my wallet was empty except for the two $20 bills that I squeaked in my hands to make sure there was nothing behind them. This is the clearest multiplication miracle I’ve ever seen. My money has multiplied itself before, but I always thought there might have been a rational explanation; that I had counted wrong or whatever.

When I got to the hospital pharmacy to pay for the medication, it was $35. I was overjoyed that I had enough. I opened my wallet, and suddenly there were three $20 bills!

When I got back up to my friend’s hospital room, she was drooping her head because she didn’t want me to have to pay for her medication, after all the time I had spent beside her bed for the past week. I eagerly told her that God paid for her medication by doing a miracle! I jumped up and down while I told her what happened, how the money multiplied itself, and her jaw dropped. And I still had $25 for groceries left over!

We laughed as we marveled at God in awe…

The Life-Giving Phone Call

Monday, February 19th, 2018

life-giving-phone-call

I rushed to the emergency room because my friend from Honduras was doubled over in excruciating pain. She needed someone to translate her Spanish into English. Wheeled into a CAT scan and a sonogram, my friend discovered she had a 14-centimeter mass on her uterus, a cyst in her ovary, and the organs in her abdomen were swollen. At that point they didn’t know that her appendix was full of pus and was about to burst.

Meanwhile one specialist after another came in and out of the room, asking questions. I found out that in Honduras, years ago, her last C-section had gone bad. It had opened up, and her intestines had come out of her body. She held her intestines in with her bare hand for 6 hours before she could get an operation to put them back in and sew her up.

After translating for 10 hours with no food, I was exhausted. Another friend from my Hispanic church called and asked if I needed anything. Food, I said. Within a short time, I was eating delicious Cuban food as far away from my friend as possible, since she was not allowed to eat or drink in case she needed emergency surgery.

When I looked into my friend’s anguished face, all I wanted was to take that pain into my own self to alleviate her. I realized this is what Jesus does for us. He loves us selflessly and takes all our anguish into Himself. I saw the cross in a new light, and I felt that Jesus was shining out of my face.

The lab assistant noticed. She said I had a gift, and that she had noticed my selflessness a year ago as I was taking care of another Hispanic woman who was alone at the hospital, in an emergency.

When she pierced my friend’s arm with a needle, I petted my friend’s head and told her that it was all for the best because now she was going to get the surgery that she had needed for years. “Hold on,” I said. “God is providing for you to be healed. Not many hours from now, you will be healthier than you’ve been for years.” Her eyes filled with hope and joy in the middle of her moaning pain.

I called home and told my son to make spaghetti for dinner. I texted my husband that dinner would be ready when he got home, but that I was at the hospital with my friend.

Later that evening, I answered my cell phone; it was my husband. We had been in some recent arguments, and depleted as I was, I braced myself. I didn’t want to be told that I had to go home and abandon my friend who had no way to communicate with the doctors and surgeons. I asked questions of the doctors that my moaning, almost unconscious friend wouldn’t have thought of asking, and I knew enough of her story to be able to add vital information that was needed for making the decision to go ahead with the surgery.

I was pleasantly surprised that the phone call was life-giving.

My husband asked if I wanted him to bring me some food. I told him I had just eaten, but it was kind of him to think of me. I wasn’t sure how much longer I would be at the hospital, because my friend was going to be transported to another hospital for the night, to have surgery the next day.

I was so exhausted from making life and death decisions for my friend, answering social workers and countless other people what her situation was. On the phone with my husband, he gave me the strength I needed by cracking jokes and then staying on the line and not hanging up. I was transported back in time to when we were dating, and he cared and wanted to be with me.

I felt refreshed after the phone call. It was exactly what I needed.

After following her ambulance to the other hospital, I settled her in for the night and went home. The next day my friend got the surgery she needed, and she has been recuperating ever since. I’m exhausted from spending a full week at the hospital, and I’m glad things are sort of back to normal.

You are Complete in Christ

Tuesday, October 31st, 2017

complete-in-Christ

You are complete in Christ! “And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power.” Colossians 2:10 KJV

God wants us to see ourselves the way that He sees us. If He says we are complete in Him, then we are complete. Even though in our humanity we are flawed and imperfect, God at salvation made us a new creation, and our spirit was born again. We want to please God, and we war against our flesh.

God sees through to the core of our being–that new creation that is us–and He sees us complete, not lacking anything. God allows us to go through trials that test our faith so that we will be perfect and complete, lacking nothing (James 1:4). But He knows that we will get through them.

If an outsider looks at us groaning heavenward in the midst of a fire, they will falsely judge that we are sinning in our agony, just like Job’s friends did. But if you wait until you get to the other side of the trial, you will see that you have been transformed through the furnace of affliction:

  • “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.”) Isaiah 48:10
  • “But He knows the way that I take; when He has tried me, I shall come out as gold.” Job 23:10 ESV

“For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.” John 1:16 NASB We are given God’s fullness at salvation. We have access to everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). “For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” Ephesians 2:18 KJV

complete

God’s power is also made perfect through weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9), so it’s not as though we have to perform to perfection to be considered complete. God does a mightier work through our weaknesses than through our strengths. God knows we are but dust (Psalm 103:14).

While doing a study for preparing to teach this topic, I came across so many Scriptures of Jesus making people complete or whole while on this earth. Nearly every time that He healed someone physically, the Scriptures say that they were made “whole.” (Matthew 12:13; 15:28; Mark 3:5; Mark 5:28, 34; Luke 6:10; 8:48; John 5:6, 14, 15; John 7:23)

heart-sculptures

Jesus wants to make us whole. The more areas of our life we yield to Him, the more He completes us. But we are already complete in Christ at salvation! Let’s appropriate this great truth and walk in confidence that He who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it (Philippians 1:16). Continue yielding to Christ so that you can experience that wholeness!

complete-in-christ-2

We have complete salvation, complete forgiveness, and complete victory. (If you have extra time, you can read John MacArthur’s very long, thorough sermon on being Complete in Christ for more information on this topic.) Even though God is in the process of transforming us, that doesn’t mean that we don’t already own what Christ purchased for us on the cross.

Speaking of completion, this post completes our series: 31 Days to Regaining Your Identity in Christ. Besides the art class that inspired this series, there are a couple of other books I recommend for further study in finding out your identity in Christ. (These are affiliate links, and I highly recommend all three):

you-are-a-masterpiece

 

My daughter and I created the artwork for this series from the course {aff} “You are a Masterpiece” by Alicia Gratehouse. If you love to do art and are discovering who you are in Christ, this is a great art course for you!

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