Responding to The Resurrection

We went to a Third Day concert the other day and there was this awesome singer named Harvest Parker there who stole the show. She told a story about the Moravian missionaries (who were so awesome that this doesn’t do them justice, btw) who sold themselves into slavery to reach a group in the West Indies who would not allow preachers or missionaries in. As they were heading out, with no hope to ever return, someone passionately yelled, “May the lamb receive the reward of His suffering”, which seems to be a summation of Revelation 5 and is also the summation of our celebration of the resurrection, and of Jesus in general. We are unworthy to receive His sacrifice, but He gave it to us anyway. He did it because He loves us and it’s the only way to cleanse us in preparation of eternal life with Him. But our job is not just to receive from Him. It’s to glorify Him in all that we do! Here’s a link to her song, which is very moving (the one in Tallahassee was even better but I didn’t get the whole thing on my phone).

The Lord was already working on my boldness when I heard that, and it was reinforced there. This verse below was also so important to me that I couldn’t let it go:

“My eager expectation and hope is that I will not be ashamed about anything, but that now as always, with all boldness, Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or death.” Phil 1:20

Lord, do not let us be put to shame. Our faith is weak, our evil desires are strong, and the pull of the world is powerful. But You are mighty. When we are yoked with you we can do all things through you, and we ask that you will show this to your enemies. Do not let our humanness put us to shame, but guide us and go before us so all men see your power through our testimonies.

Our pastor at Four Oaks, Paul Gilbert, said, “if your conscience isn’t clear you don’t make a good witness”. Lord, thank-you for forgiving our sins, for dying on the cross, and for returning from the grave three days later–thereby fulfilling the prophesies and completing the transactions of submitting your righteousness and bearing our sin. By your stripes we are healed, we are fully forgiven, clear our consciences and guide our steps away from the sin we so readily return to. Help us to be bold for you, to be strong and courageous, and to share your love with meaning and truth!

Lord, help us to trust you with our lives, and with our deaths. Help us to recognize that we are not our own, and to earnestly desire to be used for your glory, whether your plan takes us to the cross or to the mall. Help us to be real, living sacrifices for you, and to go wherever you send us, with perfect peace and profound love. Your way is the only way we desire.

Because, “my eager expectation and hope is that I will not be ashamed about anything, but that now as always, with all boldness, Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or death.” 

Advertisements

Healing Day!

We’ve always celebrated major holidays and birthdays. Yaacov and I started dating and were married in summertime. So why on earth did Groundhog’s Day skyrocket to the top of my favorite days’ list? It’s the anniversary of the day we learned about my healing!!! The third anniversary, in fact! It was such a perfect reminder of the Lord’s gracious, precious love for me! And of His love for Yaacov and our girls! 

Every thing about that day was perfect. I have goosebumps remembering when I got to call so many people to tell them I was healed. And to think how much I wanted to keep the whole illness a secret at the beginning. I don’t even like talking on the phone, but God put it on my heart so I had prayed and begged for such an opportunity. It was hard to keep it together enough to get the words out. And the next day…the next day!!! I went to pick Abi’s preschool, all the teachers and staff had heard the news and ran into the hallway to applaud. That was one of the first times anyone had ever clapped for me. It would normally be embarrassing, but it was joyous and precious. How many people have ever gotten a terminal diagnosis that resulted in an entire preschool cheering for God? How many people have ever been worthy of a blessing like that? Only Jesus. 

Revelation 5:12 Saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”

Sweet, sweet Jesus. The sinless lamb. The perfect one, who died for my sins and loves me anyway. He intercedes for me and has blessed me more than He was blessed on earth. Sure, He was loved deeply and worshipped, but He was still abandoned and betrayed without just cause. And I complain about a few unanswered prayers.

I spent the day with the girls, reminiscing about the highs and lows. This year felt extra meaningful because Naomi is the age now that Abi was when I was diagnosed. It’s like I’m living it again, but with the joy flowing more easily this time around. There are other similarities, too. I remember how Naomi stopped sleeping through the night when I was diagnosed, and every day at 2 am she would cry until I rocked her. She would sleep on my shoulder while I cried. Every night. After cancer I got her to sleep through the night again, but now we are working on nighttime potty training. In the middle of each night I wake her up and carry her on that same shoulder to the bathroom. The conditions now are completely different, but every time she rests her sleepy head on my shoulder for the walk down the hall, all the emotions come flooding back. My cup overflows. My joy is complete.

Psalm 23:5-6

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

It seems like all my posts lately have been lamenting tragedy and heartache. My foolish flesh observes worldly devastation and wonders aloud where God is. Why He stopped caring. It’s written evidence of my own short sighted selfishness. How quick I am to forget! How weak my faith is to wonder. And to wander. He hasn’t left us. He doesn’t change. He didn’t reach His quota of miracles and move on to punishing the world. The same God who healed me is still alive. His word is true. And truth is in the word. Nothing can be added to it, and nothing taken from it. 

Ecclesiastes 3:14 I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him.

I’m including pictures this time around. The first is Abi and me when we found out I was healed, 2/2/12. I couldn’t find the digital file so it’s from our scrapbook:

We tried to re-create the 2012 pic today so I’m in the same outfit, and Naomi is wearing the shirt Abi had on that day. Clearly there are some other inconsistencies but it’s still sweet:
The others are just fun:

Passover Hope

Naomi turned three last week. THREE! She wasn’t even a year old when I was diagnosed with, and then miraculously healed from, stage 4 cancer. Since then she learned to crawl, walk, run and talk. She’s so much fun I can’t help but smile when I look at her, and the days that I do so with sadness because of what is coming for us are long gone. God has restored our family and allowed us to move on, with a stronger faith and love than we had before it all began. But I will admit that as the time has passed I am farther removed from cancer, and more focused on normal daily struggles. I am giving my testimony next week and realized that is the very first time since it all began that I haven’t had another opportunity to do so on my calendar. I have become less of a cancer survivor and more of a woman and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that.

I passionately promised God that I would never forget, never stop bragging about His awesomeness. Not in an attempt to “make a deal” with Him, but because I truly don’t want to. I don’t want to become the person I was before. To move back to my old definition of hope, which was more like “accept and except that bad things will happen but really want good ones” and back to the biblical definition that I learned, “the urgent expectation” that we all need. That we should all cling to.

I just read about the four different ways the word and concept of hope is used in the Bible. They are all awesome, so check it out here. The most interesting one to me is with Rahab in the Old Testament. In Joshua 2 we saw that Rahab was a prostitute who hid God’s men for Him. When they destroyed the city later, they had her hang a scarlet cord out the window to show they should pass over her place. That scarlet cord is a tiqvah, which is actually an unbreakable cord, symbolizing our unbreakable hope in God. And I’m sure it’s not coincidence that of course, during passover, God had His people put scarlet blood over their doorposts so the angel of death would pass over those homes…and that Jesus was celebrating the Seder meal from passover during the last supper, when He demonstrated how He would actually bear all our scarlet sins on the cross. And when it comes to judgment, our sins are passed over if we put our hope in Him.

Now that I’ve so smoothly brought this post about hope around to passover and Easter, I would like to invite all of you locals to a teaching Yaacov is doing about passover on Thursday, April 17 from 6-8 pm at Four Oaks Community Church. It will have elements of a traditional Seder meal that Jesus and the disciples were celebrating for the Last Supper (Lk 22, Mth 26, etc), and he will show how the things He said were explaining how His actions fulfilled the rituals his predecessors hadn’t understood. It is always a good time and this one will be shorter than many. You don’t have to be a Four Oaks member or have any idea what passover is about to attend. You might be able to see a description here, and if not email me to RSVP or for more info.

1 Peter 1:3-9
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(M)”> In his great mercy<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(N)”> he has given us new birth<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(O)”> into a living hope<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(P)”> through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(R)”> that can never perish, spoil or fade.<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(S)”> This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(U)”> until the coming of the salvation<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(V)”> that is ready to be revealed<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(W)”> in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice,<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(X)”> though now for a little while<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(Y)”> you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AA)”> of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AB)”>—may result in praise, glory and honor<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AC)”> when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AE)”> and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

ANOTHER MIRACLE

I started this post earlier with many, many paragraphs about myself. I was going to lead into how He does these amazing things to bring me out of the selfish state I’m normally in. Took me hours to realize that I’d done it again. Just the idea of talking about myself for a few paragraphs in light of His miracles shows I’m STILL IN THAT SELFISH STATE. 

James 3:13-15 “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil.”

So, more importantly than any lessons I’m learning or struggles I face, God is good. Always. He is good in the bad times. Good in the good times. Funny frequently, not sure why the Bible doesn’t mention that outright. No matter what, He is. And today, He did it again. It’s almost unfathomable and honestly, it was the last thing I expected to hear today. But that’s because no matter how “close” I am to the Holy Spirit, I am not THE Holy Spirit, and really have no idea all the awesome things He’s doing…and just to be clear, neither do you. I don’t care how much intuition you have. It’s still intuition, not truth.
Job 11:7 “Can you discover the depths of God? Can you discover the limits of the Almighty?”

(Please note that the original post called this stage 4 cancer but I have edited it to describe it better)
Today, we will rejoice with the rest of our Christian family that Crystal was HEALED of horrendous breast cancer. It was really, really bad. They diagnosed it as stage 3 which is technically curable, but they later said it was all up her spine, which would mean it spread and should have been stage 4. Once it’s spread is when it’s incurable, but I get the impression that the doctors never changed it to Stage 4. Either way, the treatments she was undergoing weren’t working or even tolerable, so it wasn’t the medicine that made the cancer disappear. I didn’t get every little detail but she flew to Chicago for treatments at CTCA and everything bad happened. She was allergic to even mild treatments, there was an oozing tumor, even after all the strongest chemos and double mastectomy the cancer came back, more aggressive than ever. So they tried to radiate most of her torso just to kill off what they could and it caused crazy vomiting, which was so unusual the doctors thought it had spread to her brain. This Christmas she spent the day vomiting and praying that there wasn’t cancer in her brain. But today, January 17, she is praying thanksgiving to the Lord above who healed her entirely. The PET scan showed no cancer at all. Anywhere. Because men can’t. But God can…And God did…And God does…And God WILL…
“The Lord has done great things for us…we are glad” Psalm 126:3

A brief update on my friend–she is a friend of MANY in Tallahassee, and gives of herself lavishly for the name of the Lord– the brain tumor is not cancerous, but it is at the base of her brain stem and she needs immediate brain surgery to get it removed. She’s awaiting the schedule so please keep praying. We are thrilled that it is not cancer but brain surgery is a big, big, big deal for mere humans. Not too big for the trinity though.
Philippians 2:13 “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose.”

Please keep praying for Barbara, too. The endometrial cancer attacking her body improved but a mass in her lungs is growing. She is awaiting biopsy results of it today. I’d like to pray that it’s just not even cancer and disappears. But no matter how God chooses to heal her, we just pray that He does it for His glory and so Barbara and the whole family can continue to praise His name for many days to come!

Let’s keep praying, He is LISTENING and MOVING! He cares about His people!

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.

Surviving

I just saw someone who is dying of cancer. I don’t know how much longer she has. I do know she’s worn out from fighting, trying, and just surviving. I know she might be content with death at this point, but would probably prefer to be completely healed and have many more healthy, painfree years with her children. I know the longer we fight this disease the less we expect to overcome it. And I know that the longer people see us fighting it, the less it matters to them. The less they pray for miracles and expect them to occur. The more they accept that it’s our time to go. And most of all, I know: That Sucks.

These people who struggle for years deserve peace, health, and happiness as much as you do. As much (or as little) as I did. I didn’t deserve to be supernaturally healed, I was just chosen for that path. These other people who are still sick could be chosen too. What would happen if God chose them to be healed too, but no one bothered to pray and believe they would be? We fail to pray for miracles when we don’t believe they will happen. We profess to believe in Christ but we don’t believe He will answer our prayers. So why do we bother praying for anything at all? Some of us are willing to pray that He will bless our finances but not that someone will walk away from her deathbed. We basically are willing to ask for help with things that we could just about do ourselves, but we don’t trust in Him to do things we obviously can’t control. Instead we believe the lies of the enemy, that there is no hope. What an insult to the Creator of the world that we would pick and choose what to believe He will do! That’s not faith in Him, it’s faith in ourselves. And none of us is worthy to make such big decisions.
Once a man named Jairus went to see Jesus. He begged Jesus to heal his dying daughter. The girl ended up dying for a bit and Jesus told Jairus, “Do not be afraid; just believe.” Then He healed the little girl. Back from the dead. He healed her because Jairus asked and believed Jesus would heal his daughter. The daughter was already dead, she certainly wasn’t expecting to be healed. (Mark 5:21-37). Was that girl more special to Jesus than our friends who have cancer today? No. 
It’s hard but necessary to believe in miracles. To expect them. To respond to the opportunity to pray for such miracles as a blessing, not a chore. I’m not sure exactly why it’s so hard or scary, but it is. When I was on my way to see this friend with cancer today I was humbled by the reminder that I haven’t been expecting to hear the great news of her miraculous recovery. I thought I should run up to her and boldly tell her I knew she would be healed. That despite all evidence to the contrary, it was going to happen. Maybe I would pray with her right then…
Instead do you know what I did? I said “hi”, “bye”, and ran off, telling myself I needed to pray more about it before I could really announce that I believed in her healing. You know why? Because it’s hard and scary to look at someone who is close to death and tell her she will live after all. Even though that is exactly what I was wishing for when I was so sick. Because even after receiving my own miracle I don’t expect to see others. Because she doesn’t give the impression of someone who is about to receive one. Oh, right, and because I am a hypocritical jerk. 
This is hard stuff, but am supremely blessed in that I have another day to try again. To try to believe that my mustard seed of faith allows me to say to a mountain, “Move from here to there” and it will move (Mtw 17:20). We will rejoice together at the amazing things He will do. And eventually every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil 2:10)

Wasted Life

I discovered an awesome show called “Extreme Weight Loss”. I watch it with tears in my eyes throughout. In the last episode I saw (season 3, episode 3) there were many echoes of statements that all people I know who have been blessed with a miracle make.

The overweight man miraculously survived a horrendous car accident. At the hospital, the doctors were stunned and repeated, “We don’t even know why you’re here”. I know those of us who survive have those thoughts too. But I also know the answer. We are hear to proclaim what the Lord has done (Psalm 118:17). That is my new career and I am thrilled to go to work each day.

Later the man was feeling bad about himself and said, “I feel like I’m totally wasting my second chance”. We all know what to do about that at this point. Ephesians 4:22-24 says, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

His personal trainer reported, “He lost his arm but he still has that spark of hope”. We have that spark of hope too. Romans 15:13, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Finally, the trainer in the show told him, “I choose you, Buddy”. The trainer was talking about selecting the man to be a client for the show. But it is exactly what God says to us. It isn’t because we are worthy. In fact, all are invited to walk with God, but few really go through with it (Mth 22:14). Ephesians 1:4, “Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes.” It is so sweet to be chosen for this life, and I know I forget that sometimes. But if the angels can rejoice about it, so can we. And I hope you all do just that.

“In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of God’s angels when just one sinner repents.” Luke 15:10