Posts Tagged ‘Christian Living’

New Look, New Life

Monday, February 4th, 2019

new-look-new-life

A huge change happened in my life at the end of September 2018, and my main ministry friend thought I should change my outer look to match the change that had happened inwardly. She said that highlights in my hair would lighten my look to give it youthfulness, and she found a picture of just what she was talking about. I loved it!

Normally I don’t cut my hair for years (except for trimming my own bangs) because of the monetary cost of hair cuts. But now my ministry friend was telling me that God wouldn’t let her accept the money from cleaning the pirate’s house (the man in the wheelchair) because she said the money was supposed to be for me. So I suddenly had the money to get my hair cut and highlighted.

We prayed about it, and God prompted us to go to a specific Walmart about ten minutes from my house, and God also chose the day. It would be Friday morning. I didn’t even know that Walmart cut hair, but there is a Regis salon in many Walmart stores. I drove to Walmart and asked for an appointment for the specific time God had indicated during our prayer time.

Come to find out, God was making an appointment with a hairdresser. I love how He does that. The woman who cut and highlighted my hair prayed to receive Christ that day, after talking with her about the Lord for several hours. She was ready. Only God knew that. It’s so funny, because I never get my hair cut, much less highlighted, but we needed the time. My ministry partner came with me, of course, because this morning had nothing to do with me. It had everything to do with the hairdresser.

The three hours that we were there, the first two hours were spent leading up to her stopping to pray to receive Christ. And the last hour was spent equipping her for what her life would be like now that she was filled with the Holy Spirit. My ministry friend had said things about the hairdresser’s life that she couldn’t have possibly known—about her heart and her circumstances. She was stunned like all the people are when my ministry friend speaks to people. I’m so glad that we each have different gifts in the Spirit, and they all work together in the body of Christ. We are all valued.

I was surprised at how young and flirty I looked after going to the salon! I loved the curls, too. My ministry partner told me to start wearing lighter colors. That’s hard for me to do because my entire wardrobe is dark.

It’s interesting that even though my situation has not changed (and yours may not either), God supernaturally brought a breath of fresh air by showing me a new perspective on life. Instead of life’s impossible challenges and deep suffering causing us to despair, we can ask God to give us new eyes. Our own suffering doesn’t matter any more compared to the glory that is to be revealed in the people that we are able to reach for Christ, who will be in heaven with us forever just because we didn’t give up in the middle of our suffering.

Friends, if you love Jesus and are in despair, it’s because the enemy wants you incapacitated. The enemy tailor-made your circumstances to be your worst nightmare. And if you suffer deeply for many years, you eventually feel that you can’t go on.

At this point in my life, I cried out to God in my bed, almost a primordial scream. I just said, “Jesus! Help!!!”

Shortly thereafter God sent me my ministry friend. God changed my perspective through this woman who has a completely different background than I do. And we began our ministry, leading people to Christ, praying for people, and ministering to hurting Christians. My life is more worth living now than ever.

You can choose to cry all day and give up (and Satan wins). Or you can rebuke the enemy, rise up, put on some praise music, and dance before the Lord (even if you’re a klutz like me!) Then ask Jesus what you should be doing, and obey Him. You will gain energy as you do His work, and you will once again be glad to be alive.

Surprised by a Pirate (a true story)

Monday, January 28th, 2019

surprised-by-a-pirate

As I stooped over to open the pirate chest full of treasure, I sighed. Memories flooded my mind, from a treasure hunt in the backyard for a pirate party after reading Treasure Island, to painting the chest gold to transform it into King Tut’s treasure back when we studied ancient Egypt. We shoved that treasure chest into a closet under the stairs as a tomb for my toilet-paper-wrapped kid in a cardboard sarcophagus. Fun times.

My kids are now teens. Having outgrown the treasure box, I put it up for sale. A man claiming to be a pirate contacted me. He wanted to buy the treasure chest, and he needed me to deliver it because he had only one leg. My son Stephen drove me with the treasure chest over to his house, where he lifted the pirate treasure one last time. The man with the one leg not only gave me the $20 I was asking for the box, but he paid me another $20 for delivering it just ten minutes down the street from my house. Since I needed the money for groceries, I burst into tears and hugged this wild gray-haired man in his wheel chair.

There was something about his eyes that tugged on my heart. His appearance matched his description of himself as a pirate (he really did look like a retired pirate, with the personality to go with it). The surprised but happy look he gave me when I hugged him was priceless. As I drove away, I pondered how I could go back. I knew the compassion in my heart was from Jesus, and I wanted to make sure he knew that he was loved.

He was too interesting a person to just pass by and move on. I couldn’t let him sit there all day in his wheelchair, house-bound, just waiting to die. Yes. I said it. That’s what I saw in his eyes. I saw it because it was a mirror of my own soul, longing to be set free from the suffering, sorrow, and evil of this world.

I sat at the computer, pondering the meaning of life. Since I sold the treasure chest through Facebook, I clicked through to his profile. Without any thought, I pressed the button to add him as a friend. Within the hour, he mentioned that he needed a housekeeper. For some reason I sensed danger. Not knowing if the danger was real or imaginary, I asked my ministry friend if she would like to come with me to clean this man’s house. She said yes.

The fact that I hate cleaning became obvious when I wrestled with cleaning the walls of a shower that had a seat attached to the middle of the tub. There was no space. My ministry friend did not want to touch the bathroom with a ten foot pole, so she sang sweet songs about Jesus as she swept and mopped the living room. She asked him if it was okay for her to sing, and he seemed pleased with it. I prayed for his soul as I struggled to keep my balance.

Kicking at the grime, my back aching from the scrubbing, I sighed a bit too loud. My pirate friend laughed, shouting to my ministry partner that I was cussing in the bathroom. “No, I’m not. Are you trying to get me in trouble?” I responded, laughing.

We finished up, and the pirate paid us way more than seemed right, so I put some money back, returning it to him. He pressed me to take it and I said no.

I’m actually glad that I said no because after two times of cleaning his house, he said that he had run out of savings. This was after canceling the third time of cleaning due to going in and out of the hospital. I was sad for some reason, not just because I needed the money, but because there was something about the pirate’s eyes that was compelling. When I went to return his key, I told him that Jesus loved him, even though it seemed like He didn’t because of his amputated leg. I was sad that he had to suffer, and I told him that Jesus is with us in our pain. I didn’t know what else to say, so I hugged him one last time before I drove away.

Dark Streets, Meetings, & Oreo Cake

Friday, November 30th, 2018

streets-meetings-oreo-cake

One night God was taking us down dark winding roads. One of the houses was on the far right down a long street, and we parked in front of the house. God wanted us to say, “Is this where the Bible study is?” We had our Bibles under our arms. God had randomly chosen this house, so we were at God’s mercy as to what He wanted us to say and do for this woman. We talked with her for a few minutes and offered to pray for her. She asked a lot of questions, and near the end of the conversation, the Holy Spirit said through my mouth, “You are a true follower of Jesus.” She looked at us with amazement.

A friend of my ministry partner was visiting from five hours away from Spokane, and my ministry partner wanted me to come over and share my testimony with her friend. It had been her friend’s birthday earlier that week, and no one had called her. We wanted her to feel special, so we had my daughter pick out a gift for my ministry partner’s friend. (My ministry partner paid for it.) My daughter said she’d always wanted to put together a themed gift basket, so we were at Ross, and my daughter picked out all the items and arranged them in a basket. We prayed that God’s Holy Spirit would lead her to pick just the right items. When her friend opened her birthday gift, she was surprised that she saw her favorite brands of things that she needed. This could only have been God.

After sharing my testimony and praying and sharing Scripture, we got a spiritual breakthrough for her friend. She left for a get-together with family members, and my ministry partner and I went to buy a cake to celebrate her birthday that night. God prompted my ministry friend to go to Baskin Robins. I asked the Holy Spirit which cake? I asked God yes or no for each cake, and the Oreo cake was the only yes. It was a weird-looking cake, so my friend asked, “Are you sure?” I said, “God is saying yes to this cake and to no other cake, so let’s get this one.” When we celebrated her birthday later, the lady exclaimed with joy that every year in her childhood, she had gotten an Oreo cake for her birthday. She knew she had never told her friend, and so she knew that Jesus was near. Only God could have picked out the exact cake out of hundreds of cakes in the city.

On a different night God took my ministry partner and I to a Chinese restaurant. God drove us there. He literally was taking over my hands when I said, “Jesus, take the wheel.” I laughed because I knew when He was turning because He would put on the blinker. See, I have so much joy because God does everything. I just sit back and watch. Then if I have to get out of the car and say something, I look up and say, “What do You want me to say?” and He tells me the sentence that starts the conversation. Then He takes me over, especially when I am praying for people. Yay!

We parked in front of a Chinese restaurant, and after we had eaten (we had fasted all day and prayed while ministering to people in the city, and my ministry partner paid for this meal), we saw a gray-haired man named Larry in a booth. God pointed him out to us, so we started a conversation. He invited us to sit in his booth, and we talked about our ministry for maybe an hour. Larry had paid for hockey tickets that night, and God’s Holy Spirit had blocked him from entering the hockey building. God brought him to this Chinese food place for a divine appointment. These were his words. We were shocked. His heart was the same as our heart. He heard the Holy Spirit in the same way we did. His best friend was from our church, which is a nondenominational Bible church in Spokane. He was fed up with the way Christians stay in the church building, and he felt that we needed to get out of the church building and bring Christ to the world and actually DO what God commanded us to do.

He tested us with Scripture knowledge and rebukes, to see how we could handle rebuke. We passed every test. There were maybe 20 tests in total over the course of the hour. I have a strange feeling that this man will financially back our ministry at some point. He has my name and address and email. Please pray that God will send more people to support our ministry so that we don’t have to stop obeying the Holy Spirit’s promptings with regards to meeting a physical need before sharing the gospel with many people. And that people won’t have to be dead before they support the ministry. It’s one thing if people put your ministry in their will, but Jesus is coming soon, and there is no reason to withhold funds from people who are doing His work. My husband should not have to suffer financially because of my obedience, so if God is prompting any of you to give to pay for gasoline or any other expense in our ministry, email me at castlesusan@gmail.com. I never spend money on myself, and I am extremely frugal. Ask anyone who knows me. Every penny of what you send will go directly to ministry. I am paid nothing. Everything I have belongs to God.

Stay tuned for “Events Leading to the Missions Trip to Texas.”

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

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