Circumstances

I have found myself in the midst of a war. The very first battle, between good and evil still continues to this day and I was blissfully unaware of much of it until recently. One thing is that I have been called to minister to and pray for sick people, mostly those with cancer, and it sometimes takes a mental toll on me. I start feeling like I’m praying the same words day after day, but just for different people. Like a broken record I pray from necessity rather than from the deep, wounded brokenness that overflows from the soul of an unworthy sinner. So I pray to care more, pray to break more, pray to yearn more. Then the worst thing happens–He answers those prayers. My circumstances change and I care more, ache from the inside out, cry out to the Lord for the ability to even comprehend the evil that surrounds me.

Psalm 34:15-18
“The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to blot out their name from the earth. The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

I’m so saddened by the circumstances around me, and I am trying not to allow them to interfere with the celebration of the season. We should reflect on the amazing gift of Jesus. He came willingly into the world, and didn’t sin. He was the only one who didn’t deserve death, but He carried our sins just because He loved us. And He is now the only way to get to heaven. None of that will ever change. Our interpretation, understanding, or circumstances all change, but those truths will stay the same.

Malachi 3:6, “For I am the Lord, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed O sons of Jacob”

I am supremely excited to tell you that Debora and I will be giving our testimonies on January 16 at Four Oaks Community Church. I’ve been honored to share it at many other places, but Four Oaks is our church home! I’ve been praying for and waiting on this opportunity for almost two years now. It will be well worth the wait, because we get to boast about His awesomeness there! If you’re in town please come rejoice with us about the amazing God we serve.

I’m going through some really difficult circumstances right now but I have to be vague about all the details. So instead I ask that you join me in praying for protection for my family and the families of all those we’ve prayed for in the past, that they would increase in faith and peace, and for help in focusing on the Lord. Pray also that the Lord will use us all for His good, and that we would see Him in all things. I have some prayer updates and new requests that I’ll put below:

Barbara–We were praying for her clear PET scan. We didn’t get that miracle yet, but we will not lose faith. Her liver looks better but it grew in other places, so they are trying to remove some to assess what best destroys it then use those drugs on here. Sounds pretty cool to me. Pray she will have total relief from pain, doctors will treat her properly, and for a complete and miraculous removal of all cancer cells

Sally–PRAISE: A long time ago I talked about her on here. She was diagnosed with stage 4 BC soon after I was, and hers disappeared. It’s been over a year without cancer and she had a bad PET scan recently, but HOORAY, the Lord had that disappear and further tests showed it was nothing.

Alison–PRAISE! At her 6 month scan they saw she has been cancer-free for over a year and a half! Glory be to God!!!!

Ryan–He has stage 4 stomach cancer and has been on chemo forever. He has a baby and has battling this for two years. Enough is enough, it’s time for this miracle. Let’s believe it for them because they are weak, tired, and worn out. We will carry him to the Lord and the Lord will heal him because of our faith (Mark 2:3-5)

Crystal–She and the others below are new on this list. She is young and was suddenly diagnosed with stage 4 BC. It’s all over her body and the chemo didn’t work so they are radiating most of her torso. They fear it is in her brain and are awaiting a CT scan. Please pray for her comfort and that she will lean on Him, as well as for her family’s peace, faith and comfort. Pray in the short run for immediate relief from her vomiting and that her brain scan shows absolutely nothing is wrong, and again for long run total healing.

Marlena–She is young and has already seen the Lord do great things with her diagnosis. There were fears that it had spread but He put those to rest. However, she’s undergoing chemo and has had a really hard time recovering from that. Please pray He will strengthen her so she can maintain her role as a mother and that He will make anything she needs to give up or modify very clear.

Jenny–She is a pastor’s wife who has had a recurrence of BC. She has a long list of awesome things the Lord has done to show her that He is in charge and is running things smoothly. She will have a bilateral mastectomy on Friday because she already had radiation. Please pray that the surgery goes well and with a smooth recovery and that the doctors have wisdom for all the proper treatment.

Teri–She loves the Lord and her triple negative BC did not spread, which is great. She’s going through chemo and trying to stay positive, but it’s really hard to work while undergoing treatment and she cannot take much time off. Please pray for her supernatural response to the chemo, that she would stay healthy and not struggle with the normal side effects of the treatment.

Contessa–This is the young mom whose home burned down a few weeks ago. She is doing well and has a new place to stay. We are collecting money for her utility deposit. Please pray she gets everything she needs and draws closer to the Lord through this experience.

Advertisements

Is anything too hard for God? (duh)

I told you at least once on here about a sweet woman named Barbara. She lives in Tallahassee and in February was admitted to the hospital for pain only to discover she had extensive cancer all over. Last I knew her treatments (and God…mostly God) helped remove it from her lungs but it was still in her liver. Her whole family is devoted to Christ and longs to see Him magnified through this situation. They’ve all rallied to be by her side and have prayed for her healing for 10 long months. I noticed that her first PET scan was scheduled at 2:30 back then and now it will be at that same time tomorrow. I imagine how scared and overwhelmed she was the first time around and pray that this time she will be filled with peace, love, hope and confidence. Confidence that there is no cancer, that Satan and all her cancer were cast out and the Holy Spirit created new, fresh, revived cells in their place. Join me now, and at 2:30 tomorrow (Thursday) in praying that the test will be performed accurately, and that it will show conclusively that every cell of cancer is gone (Like in Lk 8:43). We are not asking for the status quo. We are not “hoping for an improvement but settling for it not worsening”. No. God is in charge of this woman’s body and we are asking for and expecting complete and total healing (Mark 11:24).

Back before Barbara even had the official diagnosis, someone told one of her sons that he was in denial if he had any hope for her. Guess what? That person was right. There is no hope for her here on earth. No doctor can heal her entirely. No scientist can develop a drug in time to save her. But–thank the Lord–we do not put our hope in our powerful people, there is no hope for us there (Ps 146:3). And we wait in hope for the LORD; He is our help and our shield.(Ps 33:20).

Adrian Rogers broadcast a sermon this week called Is anything too hard for God? It’s good, follow the link to listen to the first part (second part can be found on his website). The answer, of course, is “NO!” Nothing is too hard for Him. Adrian recounts a story about praying for a really evil person who later accepted the Lord. God was in charge of having those men pray for that man’s salvation. The victory is not just that the man accepted Jesus, it’s that those people who prayed were emboldened to ask for more, more, and more, in His name. Because their faith was bolstered by each answer. God planned it that way because He wants to see such great faith. Look how thrilled He was with Abraham’s faith. He blessed Abe because he believed in God’s promises, NOT because he was such a sinless superstar (Gen 22, etc.).

God doesn’t need us to ask Him for things. He is the boss, He is in charge. He doesn’t do it for His own pride–He could get accolades in other ways. He does it for our own good. So we can see Him move. So we can see that the only limits on His goodness are the ones we arbitrarily set. Remember the time in your life where He did something so big that it could only be from Him? (If you don’t, pray for one!) If He did that for you, why couldn’t/wouldn’t He answer the other prayers you have? Why couldn’t He have Barbara’s PET scan tomorrow come back completely clear? Why couldn’t He have her doctor choke on his coffee when he sees the results and call all his colleagues to try to identify the Real Healer? Why couldn’t He have revival break out in the Cancer Center with such a strong presence of the Lord that people can feel the Holy Spirit from outside the building (Acts 2)?

This is a great opportunity for us all to be more involved in the kingdom. Pray for Barbara, pray for your lost loved ones, pray for your faith to grow, and then wait with the urgent expectation that He will do it (Ps 65:5). He will do it so we are not put to shame (Ps 25:2; Romans 8:28). He will do it so you can understand Him more. He will do it so others hear His name. And He will do it because He is God (Isa 40:14).

Tallahassee Family in Need

I have been posting this all over, so you might have seen it, but I wanted to get it out as much as possible. There are SO many families in need that we can’t help them all, but this one touched a core with me so I’m trying harder to help them out.
Hebrews 10:24 – And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
My mom has a young, single mother in a class at TCC who is a reformed drug addict. She’s been trying hard to get her life together but bad things keep happening—when she finally got it together she was falsely accused of more criminal activity so had to move in with her sister (who is a single mother of 4). She’s trying exceedingly hard to get a degree and better her situation and has no money. Now their apartment burned down so between them there are 5 young kids and they have nowhere to live and only the clothes on their backs. I think this is the time to show them that Christ came to save people just like them (all of us). And that He really is their burden-bearer and healer! They’ve never known Him as their true Abba father and their kids can’t fathom what that even means.
1 Timothy 1:15, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.”
We will collect any donations for these people. Please let us know by Sunday if you happen to have something to donate so we can get it all arranged. Anything (used is fine!) would be appreciated. 
The kids’ sizes are: 2T girl, 3T girl, size 6 girl, and two size 6 boys. 
Matthew 5:16 – Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

GREAT News

I haven’t posted in awhile because I needed time to digest, grieve, accept, and finally… rejoice over the loss of Jaime VanOrden. She’s the one I begged you all to pray for in my last post. The one I stretched my faith to believe would be healed, and the one who died anyway, leaving me dazed and confused. 

I never met Jaime but I heard enough about her, and followed her friends’ posts and updates to know that it was all by the book. I mean, The Book. She was a devout believer who wanted to live to raise her son. Tons of people prayed that she would be healed, and she even claimed it until the end. And now she is healed, but not on earth like I believed. She is in heaven, filled with more love than any of us down here could ever imagine.

There were a few times since my own healing that I started wondering if some of those denominations were right in their belief that everyone could be healed if they just did what the Bible says. My church and family don’t believe that, so it was a stretch, but it would have answered a few questions. First, it would explain why Pentecostal denominations that emphasize healing see more healing. Because they expect God will do it and He does! It would also explain why I was healed myself, and would put an exclamation at the end of a few verses like, Exodus 23:25, “Worship the LORD your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you,”, James 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”, and Matthew 21:21, “Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done.”

It is controversial to believe that everyone could be healed. When people aren’t that into the debate, they push the possibility aside because there are so many Christians who die of illnesses. But when you’ve been healed or through some other type of miracle, it opens other realms of thought. And you start thinking maybe those people could have lived if they’d really believed, etc. Plus, my beliefs aren’t dictated by the masses. If they were I wouldn’t be sitting here in perfect health with a Bible on my lap.

So anyway, I really started seeking the Lord on this healing business, and when I heard how ill Jaime was I put my whole heart into praying for her. It was hard to believe she would be healed, but I made myself do it. Because we know all about the times that Jesus healed people because of the faith of their friends (e.g. Mth 8:5-13). 

God answered me when Jaime died. I know now without a doubt that He does not heal everyone. We (she had a huge group of believers praying for her) did everything that the glorious Word says. Checked off all the boxes. But she was still buried.

I am so sad for her family and friends. Especially with those who had the nerve to pray and believe that she would be healed. It’s such a downer, and opens up doubts that niggle at our faith. But God is good. Note that I didn’t say, “He is STILL good”. Because that would be indicating He did something bad in the first place. He didn’t. In the heavenly realm, where He is infinitely more intelligent than we are, where the whole picture can be seen and doesn’t need interpretation, the earthly death of Jaime is a victory. She was a sinner (like all of us) and the wages of that sin is eternal damnation. But because of proclaiming the name of our Messiah, for depending upon and clinging to Him, she was saved for eternal glory. To spend forever praising His name with no tears, sadness, or pain. 

I learned it is still true that “It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.” (Romans 9:15). He will not be put in a box. We cannot follow a list of rules taken from the Bible to get them out of the hospital, any more than we can follow such rules to drag them into heaven with us. We are back to square one, worshiping Him with all our being and depending on the Holy Spirit to do the rest. We must still pray and believe He will answer as commanded, but be resolved that the One who knows it all makes the decisions.

For my part, I’m glad to know the truth, and see that going through the motions to “get someone healed” can not replace the value of brokenness. It takes the control off each of us and puts it back onto our burden-bearer. Where it belongs. I was going to title this post, “Bad News” but that would be inaccurate. The truth is, it is GOOD news to know He is in charge, He is involved, He is a personal God. He has great plans for us that are better than the misery we are suffering through today. One day our pain will be gone, the purposes clear, and the truth declared for all. That is GREAT news.