Saturday, February 28, 2015

"TRUST ME"

"…for they cried to God in the battle, and He was entreated of them; 
because they put their trust in Him" (I Chronicles 5:20).


"Trust me." How many times have we heard that? What does it mean in the vernacular? Trust is a confidence in the truth and strength of someone's words and promises. Human trust, at one time or another, experiences the heartbreak of a betrayed trust. It may be at the hands of a friend, a family member, a spouse, or even a co-worker, but the pain is still searingly the same. However, the word, "trust," has a different meaning in God's economy.

The dictionary defines trust as "a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something." It is accepting truth of a statement without evidence or investigation. Biblically, trust is faith. It is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). It is a "confidence, belief, faith, certainty, assurance, conviction, credence, and reliance that you can believe and entrust your deepest secrets to God for safekeeping. It is a conviction that your heart can be safely surrendered to the integrity and honesty of Him without fear of rejection, rebuff, or abandonment. Ultimately, God is the embodiment of all those attributes. He can be trusted with our deepest secrets, concerns, desires, hopes, and dreams. He will never betray our trust.

During this battle with a life-threatening reaction to an antibiotic, the issue of trust bubbled to the surface. I asked, "God, how could You allow this to happen? Where are You in all of this? Is there something that You want me to learn? Surely there must be a reason?"

Over and over, the same answer resonated within my spirit, "You must learn to trust Me." That would require a monumental effort on my part, because all of my life, with every disappointment and betrayal, I was given one more reason not to trust people. Therefore, if I couldn't trust those with whom I was interacting with, then how could I completely trust God whom I couldn't see? However, His words repeated within my soul again…"Trust me. Trust me." God had promised to heal me, but with the caveat that I would need to "endure a little longer." Those words mystified me. What did He mean, by that statement? I would soon find out.

As I told you in my last blog, I had first seen two different doctors who had misdiagnosed me and given me medications that only made my situation worse and only served to allow the problem to get out of hand. So, I challenged the LORD, "You said to trust You. O.K., I need a doctor who knows what they are doing and can get to the bottom of this."

The next day, I called Vanderbilt to make an appointment with my MOHS Clinic dermatologist. The appointment was set, but when I got there, they said I had an appointment with another doctor. Confused, I said that there must be a mistake. They assured me that my MOHS doctor had referred me to this doctor because of her expertise in drug allergies and severe rashes. She turned out to be an unexpected  "miracle." God gave her the wisdom and knowledge to make the proper diagnosis and to prescribe the correct medications and therapy. Yes, "Trust me."

We are always looking for the supernatural healing of our bodies and too often discount medical intervention because we feel that to do so is showing a lack of faith. I am here to tell you that God gave us doctors with wisdom, training, and knowledge to help us in the healing of our bodies. Yes, there are times when God supernaturally steps in and miraculously heals, but more often then not, He allows us to take a journey to show that in every step of the way, He is with us, if we will trust Him and His methods, which we often don't understand.

Then there are those who never receive the kind of miracle that they were hoping for. The Apostle Paul  said he had a thorn in his flesh, which describes a chronic condition: "There was given me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord three times, that it might depart from me, and He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee; for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore, I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." God knows our heart and what will take our heart away from Him.

I have suffered from a chronic condition for over 30 years and have prayed to be released from it, but for whatever reason, God has allowed it to remain. Instead of being angry or bitter, it has drawn me closer to Him, because I have come to depend on His complete goodness. 

Five years ago, my husband was diagnosed with stage-4 thyroid cancer that had metastasized into his throat and 50 lymph nodes. The story of his journey is a remarkable one, and one you can still access on my blog, posted July 10, 2014, entitled, "Unfailing Hope."

Yes, we prayed for a sovereign miracle, but the miracle that we were looking for would not be the miracle that God would choose to provide. Instead, five days from his frightening diagnosis, God orchestrated a series of events that miraculously enabled him to be admitted to MD Anderson's Cancer Center in Houston, TX. Being accepted as a patient, at that short notice, was a miracle in action, since many are on a long waiting list and are never accepted.

His surgeons held out very little hope for him. We prayed and prayed for a miracle. Little did we know that the miracle would come through a journey of suffering, seeking, crying, praying, trusting, and growing in faith. Although he has not be declared cancer free, his "numbers" are within an acceptable range. 

Every year for five years, we have returned to MD Anderson for his check-up. Two years ago, his surgeon admitted that on the day of surgery, he had no hope of Michael ever getting off the operating table after 14 hours of surgery. The doctor told us that his survival is nothing short of a miracle. 

My husband has maintained his optimism and faith throughout this journey, knowing that God has been with him every step of the way. What many of us don't understand, and my husband and I discovered, is that God is more concerned with our sick souls then He is with our infirmed flesh. He will allow certain things in order to reach that part of us that has become encumbered with the minutiae of everyday life and its struggles. He wants our hearts and all that we are. His Word tells us that "If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched" (Mark 9:43).

Basically what God is saying is that our bodies take second place to our spiritual life. God is far more concerned with the health of our soul then He is with our flesh. Our flesh can separate us from God if we are not careful to nurture our spirit and soul, for it is our spirit that lives on forever. These earth suits we call bodies are corruptible and will one day return to the dust from which they came. So when this corruptible (flesh) has put on incorruption (God's redeeming Spirit), and this mortal has put on immortality, then "death is swallowed up in victory" (I Corinthians 15:54). God is first concerned with the condition of our heart. Once we have that right, then health follows.

You may say, "Wait just a minute. I'm a Christian. I love the Lord, and I follow His teaching, so why do I have to suffer these things?" The answer is summed up in the following:

We now have this light shining in our heart, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our  bodies. Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you (II Corinthians 4:7-12).

God allows us to pass through difficulties to test our mettle. Will we break under the pressure and turn away from Him, or will we draw closer to Him and see Him more fully? Do we really trust Him? Only when we surrender all to Him, is He then able to show us His peace, mercy, grace, and yes, His healing power.

This same doctor who literally helped to "save" my life made arrangements for me to meet with a specialist at Vanderbilt who only works one day a week because of her unique research in chemical/antibiotic/allergic reactions. At first my appointment was two months away. However, when they were told that I have no go-to antibiotic if any illness should arise, they saw the urgency and put me on the specialist's schedule for next week. God made a way where there was no way. He provides access where there is none. 

The most important lesson that I have gleaned from this experience has been to trust God. It has not been easy, because of my past history and the multiple betrayals by those with whom I had trusted with my heart. However, the one thing I am learning is that God will never break our heart. He is there to bind up those wounds and heal our broken heart, if we will TRUST him (Psalm 147:3-11).

My prayer is that each one of us is able to surrender all that we are into His loving and capable hands and to be able to trust Him in every circumstance of our lives. I promise you that God will NEVER betray your trust. He is faithful and He is the Rock; His deeds are perfect. Everything He does is just and fair. He is a faithful God who does no wrong; how just and upright He is! (Deuteronomy 32:4). He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to Him (Proverbs 2:8).

Throughout scripture we see many references to TRUST. Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress" (Psalm 107:7). "Because he trusted in the Lord, God healed him." We are told we can trust in His unfailing love and mercy. "They cried out to You and were saved. They trusted in You and were never disgraced" (Psalm 22:5). "No one who trusts in You will ever be disgraced, but disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others (Psalm 25:3). "But I am trusting you, O Lord, saying, 'You are my God!'" (Psalm 31:14).

We must entrust our lives to God, but in trusting, we cannot assume that we know the methods by which He will deliver the answers to us. After all, He is God. His ways are far above our ways. His thinking is not even in the same sphere as our carnal thinking. Therefore, we simply need to learn to listen, obey, and trust Him, and know that He, in His infinite wisdom, will bring us to that place of healing in our heart, mind, soul, spirit…and yes…our body.

Freesia flowers, pictured above, convey friendship,
innocence, thoughtfulness, perseverance and trust.
We  must learn to persevere and trust God…even in the most trying of circumstances. 








Saturday, February 14, 2015


THE ORCHESTRA LEADER

By day the LORD directs His love, at night His song is with me--a prayer to the God of my life (Psalm 42:8)



A conductor, with great precision, uses arm gestures to interpret the music and communicate with the orchestra. Utilizing two-two, three-four, four-four, and quick tempo timing, each movement sends a message, cueing sections to come in at the right moment in the score.

Well-trained and disciplined musicians have eyes focused and instruments poised in the ready position, awaiting direction. Suddenly, and with great precision and flair, the conductor's hands move, signaling the orchestra's commencement of beautifully synchronized music that washes over and delights the audience. 

When we refuse to keep our eyes on God, we become "musicians" who are so busy concentrating on our own "musical score," that we can't focus on the Conductor of our lives. Until our eyes are set on Him, no "music" can come forth, only chaos.

Have you ever heard an orchestra tune and warm up their instruments just prior to the concert? Even though everything sounds disjointed, out of tune, and an affront to the ears, they are preparing their instruments to create beautiful music.  

Interestingly, the word, "instrument," is also defined as a channel, and "channel" is defined as a passage of communication and information. Thus, as His people, we are to be conduits by which God's Word flows and reaches a lost world. 

Our heavenly Father is the Conductor of the universe. He raises His hands and the universe responds. He speaks and the mountains obey. We are part of His creation, and He awaits our full attention.
With arms poised and ready, He anticipates our readiness to follow His lead. If we ignore His direction, chaos prevails and instead of music that draws the world into a symphony of beauty, there is only discord and rebellion. When we respond to His commands, our lives take on a direction that emits a sweet-sounding song, drawing the world to us and ultimately to God.

Are our eyes turned toward Him? Have we prepared ourselves as fine tuned instruments of beauty that project God's love to the world?

Members of an orchestra practice and dedicate themselves to their instruments and the quality of its sound. We are God's instrument to be played for the world to hear. Without the instrument, the song cannot come forth; without the song, the instrument loses it's intended purpose…to offer God's beauty, joy, and love to the world. 

How do we practice daily? We put God's Word (His music) into our hearts. With eyes forward and locked on Him, we are then sensitive to His daily guidance. Only then can He cause all the parts of our lives to become unified and joined in a symphony of beauty.

Do you want to be a part of God's wonderful orchestra that fills the earth with the music of His Word? He is looking for a people who will be His instruments of righteousness, drawing the lost world with His song. We, His Church, are called to be His fine-tuned instruments, ready to play a glorious song of salvation for all the world to hear. 


Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 
He who believes and is baptized will be saved; 
But he who does not believe will be condemned.
Mark 16:15-16





















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Saturday, February 7, 2015

"WHY?"

Death has been swallowed up in victory.
Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our
Lord Jesus Christ.
(I Corinthians 15:54-55 NIV)


Recently, we received word that a friend of ours passed away. Any death causes us to reflect on the brevity of life. God's word tells us that we are like the grass that withers and the flowers that fade, because the Spirit of the Lord blows upon them (Isaiah 40:7). In other words, our lives are short and a breath away from eternity. We need to be assured of where we are going, no matter when that day arrives.

As a child, I would gaze through my bedroom window and watch the twinkling stars shine against the expansive, black velvet sky and wonder why I was born. Was I here for a reason? It frightened me to think that when I died, my final resting place would be in a cold, dark hole with no hope for anything else.

When I was sixteen, my 45-year-old father died in his sleep of a massive coronary. I was angry and confused. I found no solace, comfort, or peace in his premature death. My heart was broken, as I screamed over and over again, "Why, God, why?" As years passed, I became desperate for answers. "Why do people suffer? Does God even care?" "Does He care about me?" "Why was I born?" "What's our purpose on this earth?"

My parents had taught me that "good" people go to heaven and "bad" people are sent to hell. I struggled to be a good, moral person, hoping that my efforts might be enough to get me into heaven, but the older I became, the more I was convinced that being "good" was a flawed concept.

"Good" means to display flawless moral virtue. Only God is flawless. We read in Mark 10 about a man who ran up to Jesus and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone (Mark 10:17-19).

There is a dichotomy in this conversation that can't be overlooked. The young man was addressing Jesus as a "good teacher" and not "Lord." He did not recognize Jesus as God; he saw Him as a Jewish scholar of the law; therefore, Jesus was saying, "If you see me only as a good teacher, then you cannot call me good, because no one is good - except God alone." With this truth in place, it would be impossible for anyone to earn his or her way to heaven by being good, since no one is good but God. 

One winter night, I was having dinner with family from out of town, when my sister-in-law pulled me aside. Finding a quiet place to talk, she asked me a simple but very direct question, "When you die, do you know where you are going?" My first response was to run from the room, because I didn't know the answer. I hoped that I would go to heaven, but the uncertainty of what happens after death frightened me. As I processed her question, she continued, "The Word of God tells us that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:29). If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (I John 1:8-9). His grace is so great that He provided an escape for us through His Son, Jesus Christ."  I knew nothing about the Bible, so I didn't understand what was meant by an "escape."

The Law of Moses provided a way (an escape) for people to have their sins covered by the sacrificial blood of animals. However, that was temporary and a precursor to the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ, the perfect Lamb of God, who would come to save mankind from sin and eternal destruction (Hebrews 10:10). That night I confessed that I was a sinner and asked Jesus to come into my heart. Immediately a peace and joy that I had never known covered me like the embracing warmth of the sun. That wonderful and significant night was the beginning of a journey that would forever change my life.

Years of searching had brought me to a place of discovery. Jesus' words became life to me: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). With that knowledge, I was uncertain of my father's eternal fate and expressed those concerns to my sister-in-law. She quickly responded, "You don't know? Two weeks before your dad died, he gave my mother a ride home. She asked, 'If you died tonight, do you know where you would spend eternity?' He said that he hoped he would be in heaven. She then asked him if he would like assurance that he would see Jesus. He pulled the car to the side of the road and received Christ as his Lord and Savior.

When my brother died at age 49, many years had passed since that night when I had surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. Changes had taken place in my heart and in my life. I had come to know the love of God, His sovereignty, guidance and loving protection. His Word had become life to my soul, a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. He had shown me His love in so many tangible and wonderful ways, that I knew I could trust Him no matter the circumstances. He had been my strength and source through difficult times. Though I grieved the loss of my "baby brother," God wrapped His loving arms around me with a comfort and peace that was palpable. Seven months later, my mother died and once again, God's arms were there to embrace and comfort me with a sweet peace and knowledge that both had surrendered their hearts to the Lord shortly before their deaths.

My husband and I have lost many friends and family members, some much too soon. Every day, local and national news agencies report senseless deaths, murders, tragic accidents, diseases, famines, evil, violence, and inhumane atrocities. We can't help but ask, "Why?" The disciples and Jesus' friends and family asked that same question.

Jesus’ ministry started at age 30, when He “began to preach and to say, 'Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand'” (Matthew 4:17, KJV). “[He] went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people (Matthew 4:23-24 NKJV). However, Jesus’ life of promise was cut short when at age 33, He was arrested, mocked, brutally beaten and flogged until his bone and sinew had been laid bare, and then was brutally nailed to a rugged, splintered cross.

Jesus had forewarned his disciples, "... after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee" (Matthew 26:32). Unfortunately their limited, human knowledge and unbelief prevented them from understanding Jesus' mission on earth, so when He died, they felt hopeless, abandoned, and fearful. It wasn’t until Jesus appeared in the flesh after His resurrection, that the disciples finally understood Jesus' mission was to defeat sin, death, and the grave.

There are many mysteries in life that we will never completely understand until we are in the presence of our Lord. Each one of us has a mission, but it is up to us whether we choose God's plan or our own.

Evil abounds in this world and bad things happen. The thief (Satan) comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Jesus came that we might have life, and have it more abundantly (John 10:10).

God is all love and not capable of evil. Why then is there evil? God gave us free will to choose; He doesn't want programmed robots. He gave us the freedom to either reject Him and His promises or to choose Him and discover the joys of a surrendered life to Him. He had offered Adam and Eve eternal life, but they chose death.

The tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil were in the middle of the garden. God warned, "…you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it, you will certainly die" (Genesis 2:17). God was speaking of a spiritual and physical death. Unfortunately for us, Adam and Eve chose wrongly, forever infusing the sin of disobedience and rebellion into our DNA. Through Adam's disobedience, many were made sinners, but through the obedience of the one Man, Jesus Christ, many will be made righteous (Romans 5:19). For the Lord, blesses the righteous and surrounds them with His favor as a shield (Psalm 5:12). Jesus is the life giver. He wants us to have life abundantly. He never diminishes our life or takes from us.

Like Adam and Eve, we have been given the freedom to make choices. He will never force us to do something that we don't want to do, nor will He intervene in the affairs of man unless asked. When we choose God's plan, we receive all the blessings and entitlements that go with being a child of the King. Yes, life is messy, sometimes confusing, and often bumpy, but that is why we need God to help us through those difficult places.

Followers of Christ believe that Jesus is the resurrection and the life. Our faith and trust in the truth of the Holy Scriptures give us assurance that no matter the length of our days on earth, we will one day spend eternity with Jesus Christ, who redeemed us from eternal separation from God the Father.

Like so many who have gone before us, we will cross life’s finish line. Do we have that blessed assurance that heaven is our ultimate destination? Are we ready?

My parents had me baptized as a child and made sure my brothers and I attended church. They told us we were Christians, even though I had no idea what it meant to be a Christian. However, that memorable, winter night, so long ago, transformed my life, and my heart was opened to the truth and reality of a loving God who wants fellowship with us.

We look forward to the day when we see the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords face to face. Then we will see His completeness, and all that has been unclear and blurred will be revealed (I Corinthians 13:12).

If you have any doubts as to your final destination, you are invited to pray the following prayer: Lord, I acknowledge You as Lord and Savior, who suffered, died, was buried, rose again on the third day, and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father. I am a sinner in need of a Savior. I repent of my sins and ask that You forgive me. Wash me clean and come into my heart. In Jesus name, I pray.


For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 
And all are justified freely by Your grace 
Through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 
(Romans 3:22-23)