From the Beginning

There is so much to be learned in just the first three verses of the book of Genesis.  I am reminded that in all we read in the Scriptures, God is always revealing something about Himself so we can learn more of WHO He is.

In the beginning, let there be light

Genesis 1:1&2 says:

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 
The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. 
And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”

There are several things to be learned in these two verses.

First, God is Creator, so He can make something out of nothing. 

We cannot. This is hard for us to fathom because even as inventors and great visionaries, we have to start with raw materials, but God does not.  He is naturally supernatural so He doesn’t need to start with resources and He therefore never runs out of resources either! Although He often USES the natural to work, He doesn’t need the natural to work – because He is Creator.

Second, there are places that are void and without form in our lives.

Places which are dark and deep that God can speak into and completely change in a moment. Think about it, the earth was without form – no definition, just chaos and confusion, a total lack of order. I think it is important to point out that the word, void in the Hebrew includes the idea of emptiness.  I have certainly had times in my life where I have experienced some or all of that for sure.  It is in those times that we MUST remember that God is Creator and He can move in the midst of nothing and, in a moment, a “suddenly” will erupt and shift everything.

This is natural for Him, easy, and simple, because it is WHO He is and the WAY He works!

But was there REALLY nothing there?  Look closely at verse 2 again, though the earth was void – don’t miss this – the Spirit of God was there. This makes my heart jump for joy!  Often we get so focused on what isn’t there, and what isn’t happening, and what we don’t have, or what we don’t know, that we forget the Spirit of the Lord is always with us. He is readily available to us. This passage says He was hovering, meaning, sweeping or moving.  Some versions say He “moved upon the face of the waters.” That is how He works; He is not a stationary Spirit, but rather He is active and ready to move at the sound of God’s voice.  And that is exactly what happened in verse 3.

“The God said, ‘Let there be light’, and there was light.”

God spoke, Light, and the Spirit was ready to execute. BAM! Light manifested (out of nothing) in a moment and pierced the darkness. So it was with all of creation; God spoke and the Spirit executed. I see the Spirit of God like a bull, just waiting on the Word of the Lord to swing wide open the gate for Him to work and execute the will of God in our lives as well. Get acquainted with the Holy Spirit, know His presence and acknowledge that even in your lack, He is hovering, eager to execute in your life.

So when you feel like your life is void, dark, and without any definition – when all resources and hope are gone and you can’t see a darn thing – remember Truth and stand on the Word.  God is Creator and His Spirit is His executive arm ready to manifest the miracle you so desperately need.  He was, He always has been, He is, and He will be!

The Tipping Point

The woman who anointed Jesus demonstrated the essence of worship in that she ministered directly to Him. She was unaware of her surroundings, wasn’t influenced by those who were staring at her, but rather in an uninhibited passion she solely focused on Jesus, and in His presence all she knew of her was suddenly shifted.

anointingHer entire identity as Prostitute no longer existed.

Simon comes along and accuses Jesus of not knowing who and what manner of woman this was. Although Jesus knew everything about her, I don’t believe for a moment that what He saw was a prostitute. That was not her identity to Him, for He saw the real her and who she was created to be.

What a tipping point this was for this woman, to sit at the feet of Jesus and in that one moment become completely transformed and set free from the lie that she had been living.

And so it is with us, as we live in worship of Him, ministering to Jesus first, sitting at His feet, pouring out our praise and our adoration, not worrying about everybody around us:

  • being uninhibited
  • being willing to focus in on just Him and Him alone
  • weeping in His presence
  • sacrificing our hair and our body to minister to Him

For we, as His holy priests, have the honor of stepping into the Most Holy Place and serving at His altar first. For it is in that place that we are changed. We no longer see ourselves as the world sees us. We no longer see ourselves through our own eyes or even through the mistakes or the failures of our life. But rather we see ourselves in the eyes of God.

Consider what the woman saw when she gazed into the eyes of Jesus.

I know she saw love, a love she had never seen and never experienced before, for it was not a love of this world. But she saw the love of an almighty God. Consider how she felt when she walked into that room. And then consider how she felt when she walked out. Hallelujah! For a spiritual transformation in just one moment, everything was shifted, a tipping point.

When we read this and we see it with our humanness just simply as a story about a woman, but there is so much more. I believe the heavenly realms were present and the angels were rejoicing for they understood that there was a spiritual shifting and a change that was taking place in her life that could not be explained.

And so I step in to minister to my God every day, going in as one person but coming out as another.

I know that every moment at His feet is shifting things in the spirit realm for me, transforming me, making me more into His likeness. For I go in as myself, but I come out more like Him. Oh that we would get this and understand just how much takes place in our ministry to Him; things unseen, yet more real than the things we do see. It’s not something that can be explained or reasoned because it is supernatural.

Hallelujah! What an amazing God we serve!

(image courtesy of: Alexander Bida (WCG) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

Holding God to His Promises

jacob and angel“I will not let you go unless you bless me.” Genesis 32:26
I have felt many times in my years of following Jesus as though I were in hand-to-hand combat, wrestling with some sort of opposition that stood in the way of what God had promised. I have learned (and am still learning) through those times of wrestling about the importance of perseverance. The Lord has shown me that we can have faith, love or all kinds of great ideas, but if we don’t have what it takes to persevere none of those will ever come to pass.

The word perseverance in the New Testament is often derived from the Greek word, “hypomone,” which encompasses the idea of steadfastness, constancy, and persistence. It means holding unswervingly without any doubt or waver.

There are many examples of such perseverance in the Bible, but one that I have been recently drawn to is the story of Jacob when he wrestles with God in Genesis 32:22-32. While many of us can tell of times that we have wrestled with opposition that comes from the world, the enemy or even our own flesh, this story tells of how the opposition Jacob faced was from God Himself.

Let me give you a little history review.

In Genesis 28:15, God speaks to Jacob saying, “…I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” This verse tells of the promise that God made to Jacob…that although Jacob needed to leave for a season, the land he was in would eventually belong to him and his descendants. Jacob did leave that land and, in Genesis 32, the time had come for him to enter back to the land that God had promised and stake his claim. The promise was about to come to pass.

There were many things opposing Jacob such as doubt and fear, but the biggest opposition seemed to be his own brother, who was dwelling in the land and was not exactly his friend. And it was in the midst of all this concern that is seems as though God Himself is standing in the way of the promise. The Bible speaks of a man who comes while Jacob is alone in the night and “wrestled with him till daybreak.” (Gen. 32:25). So here we have it…hand-to-hand combat, a literal wrestling that Jacob is forced to engage in…boy can I relate! But the beauty of this passage is in verse 26 when Jacob says, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” Jacob was so convinced that God would keep His promise that he was able to speak this with confidence, knowing that God is a God of His Word!

I believe this story teaches us that often God Himself will engage us into combat in order to develop perseverance. He calls us “more than conquerors” and “victors in Christ,” but He often teaches us how to walk in that identity through times of wrestling. Hosea 12:4 says of Jacob:

“He struggled with the angel and overcame him; he wept and begged for his favor.”
I love the thought that his weapons were that of prayers and tears, but ultimately it was his faith in God that was his strength. Can you imagine what this wrestling looked liked? I can because I have experienced nights like this myself, where I tossed and turned with fear, weariness, frustration…tears, sobbing, crying out, etc. Romans 8:25-26 speaks to this whole concept,

“But if we hope for what we do not see we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses…and makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”
God wants us to be confident in what He has spoken and hold Him to His promises just like Jacob. Hebrews 10:36 says, “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” It goes on to speak of how we are not of those who “shrink back.”

So what is it that has you faltering?

What is it that is opposing you and keeping you from the promises of God? Could it really be that God is teaching you perseverance? God has spoken the promise of an abundant life to us all… a life where milk and honey flows freely. I urge you to wrestle by the power of the Holy Spirit and don’t give up.

“For at the proper time we WILL reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9.
Those are not my words…they are GOD’S words…a promise that we WILL reap, not might, but WILL. Therefore, by the Word of God, we can hold God to His promises and proclaim, “I am NOT letting go until you bless me.”

(image source: Charles Foster [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

The Incorruptible Seed

“For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring Word of God.” 1 Peter 1:23.
I was recently struck by this verse and led to do some study and prayer in regard to the seed of God’s Word. I think what got my attention was the mention of a seed that is imperishable…some versions say incorruptible, which means “not subject to death or decay; everlasting.” In a nutshell, this verse is saying there is a seed that promises to bring forth fruit…and that seed is the Word of God.

sowing seeds

The beauty of God’s Seed is that it guarantees to produce because it is encoded with life! But there has to be a planting! Think about it…we can fertilize a field, water it, pray over it, lay hands on it, even anoint it, but unless we plant a seed, it will NEVER produce a thing; the field will remain barren. I am not saying that these “disciplines” are not important, but they cannot replace the Word of God in your life.

So what about the parable of the sower in Mark 4? Why is it that not all four seed scatterings brought forth a harvest? Let’s look briefly at the four soils in which the seed was being sown.

  • The first seed was scattered along the wayside.

This was the path where the farmers would walk in the field – if seed was scattered there, it would never take root because it was never plowed – therefore the seed would never even penetrate the earth. I believe this represents the “path of the world,” or those hearts that have walked in the ways of the world so long, that their hearts have become hardened and there is no desire to receive the Word with understanding.

  • The second seed was scattered among rocks where the soil was shallow.

I like to refer to this ground the “impulsive” or “emotional” heart. It represents the heart that receives the Word quickly and typically emotionally; a soulish reception instead of a spirit reception. The Word is not accompanied by the fertilization of true faith, understanding, and discipleship, so when the “excitement” and fun of Jesus turns into trials, tribulations, and persecutions, this person withers and easily becomes fainthearted because there is no root anchoring their faith.

  • The third was scattered among thorns.

I like to refer to this ground as the “crowded/occupied/distracted” heart. Unfortunately, I think if we were honest, this represents a lot of us. We read the Word of God, but our hearts are crowded and preoccupied by the cares and deceptions of the world. I think it is worth noting that these cares are not necessarily “bad” things, but they are distractions nonetheless.

  • The fourth was scattered among good soil.

This, of course, represents the heart that desires to understand and know; it is the “hearing heart” that is accompanied by plowing, fertilizing and watering. The result is a deep planting that produces a harvest that was portions MORE than was sown. What a beautiful picture of how God Word works…in keeping with the natural laws of reaping and sowing, we always reap more that we sow.

The overall point is that the God’s Seed is NOT the variable…the heart in which it is being sown is. The Seed of the Word of God comes with the promise of a harvest.

Isaiah 55:10-11 says, “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my Word that goes out from me mouth; It will not return to me empty…”
(image courtesy of: Forest & Kim Starr [CC-BY-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons])

Good Bye Burial Cloths

Now when He (Jesus) had said these things, He cried with a loud voice… And he who had died (Lazarus) come out bound hand and foot with grave clothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him and let him go.” John 11:43-44
There are many messages about the story of Lazarus in John 11, but I want to focus on these last two verses.

grave clothes

At this point in the story, Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days. Life was no longer an option for Lazarus. Clearly it was beyond the point of *it’s too late!* But at the pinnacle of hopelessness and despair, Jesus shows up on the scene and the Bible says that at the cry of Jesus’ loud voice, Lazarus is resurrected from death. Jesus speaks…and life happens. Lazarus is beckoned to come out of his tomb, out of darkness, and steps forth into new life. But there was still a problem; Lazarus was “bound hand and foot by burial clothes,” and “his face was wrapped with a cloth.” Imagine what he looked like as he stumbled about, with his hands and feet tied up and unable to see.

I believe this draws a beautiful picture for us of the difference between having life and having life to the fullest…that abundant life we read about in John 10:10:

“The thief only comes to steal, kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and have it to the fullest.”
It is important to note that Jesus was not OK with the burial cloths that bound Lazarus, but that he commanded for those around him to cut him loose. Jesus desired complete freedom for Lazarus, a picture of what God wants for us! God never intended for us to live life with bound hands and feet, groping around in the darkness with no idea or vision for where we are headed. Just like Jesus was not OK with Lazarus’s hindered stage, God is not OK with our hindered lives.

  • John 8:36 says, “If the Son makes you free, you are free indeed.”
  • Psalm 18:29 says that because of God, “I can run against a troop,” and “leap over a wall.”
  • Verse 34b says, “My arms can bend a bow of bronze.”

There is no hindrance of burial cloths in these verses.

At Crazy8 Ministries, we have the privilege of ministering to many people. Some have never experienced the life that Jesus offers. To those, we speak the Truth of what it means to come forth, and embrace new life. Others are alive in Christ, but they have their own personal burial clothes that are hindering them. Burial cloths like fear, anxiety, depression, anger, pride, sin, etc., all stealing the fullness of life that God intends for them to live. For those we hear the voice of Jesus saying, “Loose him and let him go!” The word loose here is derived from the Greek word, lou, which means, “to loosen, to break up, destroy, dissolve, melt, put off.” So, just when you feel you have hit the place of, *it’s too late,* that place of hopelessness and defeat, Jesus doesn’t just bring you life but He offers the complete destruction of all that binds you up so that you can live a victorious, abundant life! Hallelujah!

I want to challenge you to ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I alive in Christ?
  • Am I living life to the fullest?
  • Do I recognize that I have been set completely free… that through Christ, I can leap over a wall and bend a bow of bronze?

Jesus speaks, “Come Forth” across the expanse of the earth offering new life to all. My prayer is that we all, like Lazarus, respond to His voice and come forth…not just into life, but into the FULLNESS of life. Let’s no longer be OK with burial clothes and let’s strive to break free and live abundantly through Christ.

(image courtesy of: Giovanni di Paolo [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

An All-surpassing Peace

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
There was a time in my life when I struggled with worry and anxiety. It seemed as though my life was lived in a constant state of fret and fear. The minute I found the stability and peace that I desired, something unexpected would come and I would slip right back into anxious/worry/fear mode. Interestingly enough, I would read Phil 4:6-7 over and over again. But, even in prayer, I would spend much of my time trying to figure out what was causing my anxiety and then how to fix it. I would contemplate things like:

  • getting up earlier
  • adjusting my schedule
  • getting more organized, etc.

The point is… I spent most of my prayer time trying to figure out how I could accumulate more peace in life through my own intellect and by reasoning through my circumstances.

The world tells me that peace is something that comes from circumstances that are controlled and managed; that peace comes when our life is in order. It is the idea that we gain internal peace through our external circumstances. As intellectual beings, we have embraced this concept, which wearies us as we do all we can in our own strength and understanding to try and muster up such peace.

But God’s peace is different; it is an unexplainable contentment and stillness that begins on the inside regardless of our circumstances.

John 13:27a says, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give to you.”
Galatians 5:22 reminds us that part of the fruit of the Spirit is peace. This means that for believers, we have the fullness of God’s peace living within us. This is a peace that doesn’t come from “thinking things through” or from our own reasoning, or from bringing external order to our lives, or from anywhere else of our own natural strength. Instead it is a supernatural peace that can only come from the Holy Spirit of God. The word “surpasses” in Phil. 4:7 comes from the Greek word huperechō, which means “to hold oneself above or to excel.” It denotes the idea of superiority or excellency. In other words, the peace of God excels and is superior to our own minds, thus surpassing and going beyond our understanding of any situation.

I love the story of Jesus calming the raging storm in the middle of the sea. In the midst of the wind, rain, darkness, thunder…chaos and fear, you find the disciples fearfully trying to manage the storm on their own and keep their boat from capsizing.

John 6:48 says, “Then He (Jesus) found them straining and rowing, for the wind was against them.”
Isn’t that just like us? We spend life straining and rowing…thinking and analyzing…adjusting and fixing…just trying to manage the storms in life in order to accumulate peace and stability. But in verse 51 we read that it was the moment that Jesus entered into the boat that “the wind ceased.” What a beautiful picture of the peace that only comes from Jesus entering into our life!

This is the peace that I want to fill my life…a peace that surpasses my understanding, surpasses my circumstances, and surpasses all the storms of life. No more straining and rowing, but instead a loosing of the Spirit of God from within and a release of the supernatural peace that can’t be mustered up through my flesh. A stepping outside the soul and into the Spirit to receive His peace that is beyond my mind.

Ephesians 2:14 says, “For He (Jesus) Himself is our peace…”
In Isaiah 9:6, He is called the “Prince of Peace.”
My prayer is that we all come to a place where we embrace the very heart of Jesus and receive a supernatural peace that can only come from Him and thus walk worry free on a daily basis.

John 14:27b, “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

(images courtesy of: By Elembis [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

Faithful in Today

“Well done, my good servant!” his master replied, “Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.” Luke 19:17

One of the things that I have recently been pondering is the concept of faithfulness. I have begun to really consider my own faithfulness, specifically in the things that seem unimportant or insignificant to me. The Lord has brought me back to the story of David in 1 Samuel 16.

The story, in a nutshell, is that God’s prophet, Samuel, was sent to anoint the next king of Israel. The Lord sent him to the house of Jesse, who had eight sons. Seven of the sons were brought to the prophet, but none of them were the chosen. When asked if there were any more sons, Jesse then brought David in to be considered. (I think it is worth noting that for whatever reason, Jesse did not even consider David as a potential candidate). When David arrived the Lord finally said, “Rise and anoint him; he is the one.” 1 Samuel 16:12.

One would think that David would immediately leave the field, his measly job as shepherd boy, and his family who obviously didn’t regard him very highly, to assume his position as king. But that is not the case, later in the chapter we read that David was found still tending sheep. Really?! He was anointed as king, yet there he was…still in the field.

I can imagine David as a young boy, setting up targets to practice his slingshot aim…perhaps even scratching a bulls eye on the trunks of trees, or setting up towers of stones to shoot at. Little did he know that those years of practice were actually refining him for the day he would face Goliath. His faithfulness to his job as “measly little shepherd boy” of protecting sheep from predators was actually preparing him for battle. Each lion and bear was like a pop quiz. When the test came, facing the enemy of God’s flock, David fearlessly hit the target dead on! It was because of his faithfulness during those seemingly insignificant days in the field that his aim was perfect; that he was ready when God called.

David exhibited what it looks like to be faithful in your today. God, in His infinite wisdom, is so gracious to carefully equip us for where He is taking us. I am afraid that too often, we don’t see the importance of our times in the field…those times of waiting. We live in a culture of the immediate and too often we rush ahead of God and thus show up ill equipped for our call. It is so important for us to rethink what we consider big or small, significant or insignificant. God is always at work in our lives and He honors our faithfulness in our today. David wasn’t in the starting line up…he wasn’t considered for kingship, nor was he asked to go fight in the war (1 Samuel 17)…he was just the “scrub on the bench.” His faithfulness on the sidelines didn’t just move him into the game, it is what won the game!

I think we can learn from David and his faithfulness. David waited approximately 40 years to take the throne as king, but there was purpose in his waiting as there is in ours. If we are not fulfilling all that we are asked to do in our today, we are cheating ourselves of valuable equipping and character building.

Think about this:

  • Moses tended sheep for 40 years before leading the people of Israel
  • Joshua wandered in the desert for 40 years before crossing in to the promised land
  • the prophetess Anna worshiped through fasting and prayer day and night until she was 84 before seeing the awaited Messiah
  • the disciples fished for fish before fishing for men
  • even Jesus transformed wood before transforming people.

So what about you? Would you say you would be found faithful in your today; not just a person of faith, but a faithful person?

“Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.” Mother Teresa

The Power Of His Word!

The Holy Bilble Pictures, Images and Photos

As I have been reading through the book of John, I have been amazed at how many times Jesus performs a miracle, just by speaking!

  • Jesus revealed His identity to the disciples on the storm, just by His voice…by speaking alone…he didn’t lean in so they could see him more clearly.
  • He healed the invalid in Bethsaida, just by speaking…he didn’t even touch him.
  • And the official’s son? They weren’t even in the same town when Jesus spoke words of healing!

So many examples of how the very Word of Jesus held so much power! It reminds me of creation…God spoke “let there be light” and light literally formed at the sound of God’s voice! God speaks, and something happens!

In all of this, I can’t help but consider the power that there is in the Bible, the Living Word of God. We say that we believe that it is alive and active, that we believe it is a double edged sword, that it does not return void…but do we really get it?!

I can’t help but think that I’m missing out on the fullness of the power there is in just the WORD OF GOD!!! I know there have been so many times in my life that God has shown me the power His Word holds…in the life of my children, in the lives of so many people around me, and of course in my own life. But I too easily forget and don’t utilize his Word nearly enough!

God, remind me of the power your Word holds! So many times you have revealed yourself to me, just through your word alone…times that you have healed my wounded heart through just the right passage! Lord Jesus, it is your Word that holds the power to transform the heart and reveal all of who you are. May I not be found falling short or shrinking back from your Word, may we as your children get it …really get it…and tap into the power there is in Your Word, the very breath of You Lord!

Healing vs. Relief

The Crippled Beggar Part 1

Acts 3

I read the story of Peter and John healing the crippled beggar and found myself pondering the many messages within this story. Let’s start by taking a look at the beggar himself.

There at the temple gate called Beautiful sat a man who was crippled. We are told that this man was place there everyday for the purpose of begging for money. He was completely dependent on others, not only for food and money, but also to get him to the temple. Now being over forty years old, I can only fathom how my years he had been doing this…day after day. I can only imagine the desperation in his voice as he sat there helplessly pleading with all who came by to offer him some relief in the form of money or food.

This was his life:

  • no hope of walking
  • no hope of being self sufficient
  • no hope of healing.

Then, Peter and John happened by, and the crippled man called out to them and asked for money. Peter asked the man for his total attention, and the Bible tells us that he gave it to them, “expecting to get something.” I can’t imagine that this man ever even considered that he would receive what they had to offer…complete healing! This man had probably become so accustomed to simply seeking aid or relief that it never occurred to him to seek healing instead.

Isn’t this just like us? We go from one thing to the next, from one person to the next, from one addiction to the next…just looking to be relieved from our crippled, broken state. Too often, it never occurs to us that we are missing out on healing. In fact, I would venture to say that the enemy distracts us from healing by keeping us busy in the “great search for relief.”

I think we spend more time searching for options to our healing than we do focusing on the Healer Himself.

My mind is drawn to the woman with the issue of blood. Luke 8:43 says,

“And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her.”

I just wonder about all that she had tried and gone through to be relieved of her issue. Yet here we find her…in faith coming straight to the Healer Himself. My heart believes that this woman was tired and weary of what the world was offering her and telling her. No doubt she had probably tried many things…exhausted multiple options throughout her 12 years of bleeding…and perhaps some offered relief, but none offered her healing.

This woman’s issue of blood and the man’s crippled state were only symptoms of a bigger problem.

Both of them were in need of total healing that could only be found in the person of Jesus Christ. And so it is with us as well! I recently had a conversation with a dear friend of mine who has been struggling with food issues for many years now. Just like many of us, she has tried many things…from dieting to exercising, only to sometimes find temporary and minimal relief to her problem, but ultimately she would still end up back where she started: controlled and obsessed by food.

I asked her to consider that perhaps her food issue was only a symptom of something much deeper…and that Satan was using it to distract her from something much more important, thus preventing healing somewhere within her heart.

I truly believe that God uses the symptoms in our lives to bring us closer to Him, but the enemy uses them to keep us distracted. Satan is all about offering relief, but Jesus is all about offering healing! If we live in a constant state of relief, how will we ever experience true healing?

Think about it…if I have an excruciating headache every day of my life and switch from one med to the next to relieve the pain day after day and never seek the help of a physician, how can I be healed of the real problem? Is not the headache just a symptom of a bigger issue?! But this is what we are doing. We are not going to the Master Physician to find healing. That is the purpose of the symptoms…to send us to the Doctor! It was the woman’s issue of blood that brought her to Jesus and the man’s crippled state that brought him to the temple. God used both of their ailments to woo them into His presence where they both found something much greater than just relief…they found healing!

I cannot help but wonder all the ways that I am currently just seeking and finding relief. Perhaps through people, activity, performance, shopping, sleeping…the list could go on and on. We find relief by avoiding people, changing jobs, moving away, moving back, exercising, eating more, eating less, spending more time with people, even going to church more and dousing ourselves in religious activity! Often we do find some relief in those things, albeit temporary, but we are missing out on healing!

O that we would not settle for the relief, but that we would instead desire complete healing…or “perfect soundness” as it is said in the KJV Bible. Let us run together to the Mighty Physician and find wholeness in every area of our lives and truly live more fully!

Camp Summit…Final part 6

Part 6…The teaching and development of my faith!

Every retreat I have been to, God has used to develop me more and more. My mind is drawn to Phil. 1:6, “Being confident in this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” So I wanted to share with you my personal struggle that God worked out through this particular retreat.

One of the very first things that I said in part 1 of this note is, “I can honestly say that I am more passionately in love with Jesus than ever before, and I know more than ever that my life is in the hands of One who is Master of all things!” I want to give you some insight behind that statement.

For many weeks before this retreat, I had been struggling with believing WHOLEHEARTEDLY in God’s ability to reach ANY person. I mean I said that I believed, and truly I thought that I believed, but there are so many people out there who have lived lives of sheer hopelessness. Lives filled with anger, abuse, pain, etc.

This whole thought process began when I had lunch with a friend who works with sexually abused children and women. She asked me a question something like this, “Lisa, how have you crossed the barrier of hopelessness in people?” Can I just be honest with you in saying that I gave her the Sunday School answer. I said, “I can’t, only God can pierce and draw the heart of a man. I think I even went on to explain that it was not my job to grow the seed of the Word, just to plant and water. It’s not that I didn’t believe what I said to her, or that I was purposely giving her the “proper” answer, because in my mind I knew that’s what Truth says, and therefore believed it. But honestly, that question resonated in my mind and soul as I pondered, “Can you Father? Can You draw even the most hopeless of hearts?” I asked Him, “Lord, there are some hard hearts out there that are a result of their environment, their families…things that are out of their control. How can I explain your love to them?” I cannot tell you how bothered I was by all this. I wanted to believe with all my heart, but I couldn’t get it to move beyond just my mind…my intellect and knowledge of Truth.

To be exposed to some horrific scenes of abuse, and then try to walk away still BELIEVING that even in that moment God was sovereign…? If even I, a believer of 20 years and grounded in the Word was struggling with moments of doubt, then how in the world do we reach a young heart who has no idea who God is? A heart that has experienced nothing but pain and suffering…hopelessness! How do we “convince” them that God loves them?! At the end of each night, as I wrestled with this whole idea, I chose to believe that God is sovereign. I claimed OUT LOUD that if His Word says it, then I believe it.

I had never thought this deeply about it before, I guess because I had never looked head on into the face of the wickedness that is in our world before. It’s easy to sit in our comfortable homes and churches and say that we believe, but to get out there and witness the reality and depth of the brokenness and hatefulness in the world we live in is a whole other story. I was tired of giving myself the same patent answer to some very hard questions.

I praise God that what I was struggling to believe in my mind, he wrote upon my heart through this retreat. Remember that moment in the fourth session that I mentioned was so impacting to me personally?! This is why…God was showing me, proving to me what I was desperately wanting to believe was true. I am not ashamed to say that God knew my doubting heart and that my feeble flesh needed to SEE Truth in action! The moment when that girl said, “You are saying that no matter how much bad stuff is in our lives that it doesn’t matter because it doesn’t change our value in the eyes of God.” It was as if in that moment that God said to me, “Yes Lisa, even these hearts I can pierce!” God had revealed His Truth of love to this young lady right before my very eyes. That was the sweetest moment! God does not owe that to me…he should not have to prove Himself…He is God, but He did solely because He loves me, and He wants me to believe Him and know Him. In that moment, God migrated Truth about six inches down…from my head to my heart, and what I once THOUGHT I believed in my mind has now become a reality in my heart.

When we got back from the retreat, Brandy, Lana, and I were going back and forth sharing this story with some friends, each throwing in our own perspectives of what God was doing in and around us.

Important side note: Brandy’s main purpose for the weekend was to pour into me. Sounds selfish I know, but I truly believe in and have experienced the attacks of the enemy when ministering at these retreats. I often come home drained and struggle emotionally for a few days. I know that God told me I needed to take a prayer warrior, and I absolutely believe that God provided Brandy to fill that need. And although she filled many roles, this was by far her most crucial one.

At one point,while we were recalling the weekend, Brandy shared that as she was praying on Saturday morning, the Lord led her to passage in Mark 9. She began sharing about the man who was struggling with his faith. She recounted how she read where he says, “Lord, I do believe. Help me overcome my unbelief.” She didn’t express to us why or why not she felt the Lord called her to that passage…all she said was that’s where He took her, so that’s where she stayed…reading and praying! What a perfect passage to grasp all that I was wrestling with. Funny thing is…I had no idea that’s what she was doing out on the deck that morning…and she had no clue of all that I was struggling. Talk about a Holy Spirit moment!!! What a beautiful picture of the importance of walking in sensitivity to His voice.

I believe with all my heart that God led Brandy to that passage on purpose, she had no idea why, but in her obedience in prayer, she was actually interceding on behalf of my heart. Chances are, He was working in her as well, because that is how our God works! He is never done working out our salvation and developing our faith, making us more and more complete until the day of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

I am ever so thankful for a God who is…everything! I cannot even begin to tell you all the words that flooded my heart as I typed that last sentence. So “everything”…that will have to sum it all up…He is my “Everything!”

I praise you for your love most gracious Father and Lover of my Soul! You continue to reveal Truth to me in a way that I get it…you know my weaknesses and the flaws of my heart, yet you love me…all of me! Jesus, how precious you are to me. I thank you for the opportunity to minister to your children, it was truly an honor! Amen.