The Art of Worthlessness and the Joy of Hope

I’m totally worthless, and I don’t say that in some sort of low self-esteem, depressed tone. I mean that I am completely devoid of all value. The things I do each day could be done by anyone. I live now to glorify God and not only do I repeatedly fail to do so, it also doesn’t matter to anyone but me that I do. The thing about God is that He doesn’t NEED me to do it (Acts 17:25, “And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else”). He graciously allows me to do it. Each time is a blessing. Because my heart is such that I passionately desire to brag about God and His mightiness. I long to extol the Lord because I have experienced His love and character. I know Him and want others to taste the joy that comes with it. 

I pray for many miracles, and have not seen many lately. I do not pray for them because I’m stuck on some thought that God doesn’t want or allow suffering. I pray for them because I want every person on the earth to experience a supernatural, perfect answer to prayer. We shouldn’t need to experience such miracles because our faith is in what can’t be seen, but the honor of being involved as a recipient of a miracle or to observe the answered prayer is life-changing. Seriously. If you haven’t experienced one, change your life until you do. And by that, I mean literally, get on your knees and pray to the only one who can create the world and everything in it, and seek His face. He will guide you from there. There’s no formula, just an honest desire to find Him and when you do you will be forever changed.

Proverbs 10:28 The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish.

I often think back to when my friend Debora was healed last October. It’s really embarrassing, what a hypocrite I was about it, actually. I had prayed (along with many) with utter abandon and brokenness for her to be healed. The stage 4 breast cancer had metastasized to vital organs that didn’t respond well to chemo. She’d been off chemo for awhile and the scans had not shown improvement so we our only hope was back in His mighty hands. For days we waited and waited for her PET scan results and finally, instead of those coming through, I got an email that another friend was in labor with a child. As the hours passed, I lost my faith.  I had a feeling of dread–I was certain that God would not heal Debora and let my friend have a healthy baby on the same day. For the umpteenth time, I just “knew” Him, and “felt” this was so. When I finally heard my friend’s baby was born healthy I broke down. I was happy for her but was certain that this demonstrated that He had made His choice. Clearly, He had chosen my friend and her baby` over Debora. I was so disappointed, completely crushed. And little angry, to be honest.

I kept praying for Debora while the time ticked by, because I had assured Him that I wouldn’t give up, but my faith was shaken. I was like Peter who boldly stepped out of the boat but looked around and started sinking. Like always, I wanted others to pull me up and assure me that God would work, but when they didn’t my faith wasn’t strong enough to keep my head above water (Mth 14:29).

It was after regular business hours that we even got the call, so I had stopped watching the phone. I’m so grateful that it had no signal because it meant Debora had to leave me a voicemail that I can preserve for the long term. The memory of what God did for her is recorded there whenever I check my messages–all the incurable, terminal cancer was gone. Doctors couldn’t do it. Medicine and diet were unable. But God was able. And willing. It’s not about the cancer, it’s about His mercy. He answers prayer. He wants us to see that. To feel it. I embrace just the memory of the feeling that I had that night when I was reminded of His righteousness. Of His goodness. Of His Sovereignty. Yet again, He broke down the walls of the box I continually try to put Him in and allowed me to see even more of Him than I did when He healed me. I didn’t sleep that night. There was so much joy. Inexpressible Joy. It consumed me so much that I couldn’t really function. Words didn’t express it and memories don’t fully preserve it. That joy is merely a fraction of what we will experience in heaven for all eternity, when He restores our bodies and invites us into eternity with Him. I’m sure many of you who prayed for me felt that joy when I was healed as well. I am truly worthless in all I do, but He still looked at me and valued me highly enough to pour out a huge measure of His awesomeness that day.

God doesn’t heal everyone, as we know and many, many, many, many, many people make sure to remind me all the time. But He chooses to heal many. He chooses to answer our prayers and open the window to His goodness for we who don’t deserve it. We, who think we know Him but actually can’t guess His next move. We will never guess who He will choose, so all we can do is follow through with His commands. He says to pray for the sick, so we pray (James 5:13-16). He says to believe He will answer, so we believe (Mark 11:24). He says to worship Him with all our hearts, minds and souls, and so we do (Luke 10:27). It’s hard and scary but the rewards are beyond all measure.

And, incidentally, if you don’t have any of “your own” sick people to pray for, please pray for some on my list! The three miracles we are begging for right now all have late stages of terminal cancer. Karen, Barbara, and Gulan have faith and desire to be healed, so please lift them up and beg Him to bolster their faith and relieve their physical and mental pain!

Hebrews 10:23-2 

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
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Ending that 21 day challenge and some prayers/praises

I need to take a minute to post a few prayer requests that people have made me aware of (usually through comments on here) If you send them to me, please let me know the results, the less we know the harder it is to pray, and honestly when there are so many to pray for sometimes it’s the details we learn that remind us in daily life of the circumstances and ignite our passions…

First, Abbie is my neighbor who had brain surgery for a non-cancerous tumor a few months ago. She had to leave her family to go for radiation in a different city for 6 weeks! Please pray for her total, permanent healing, no side effects or problems with the radiation, peace and provision for all involved, and a miraculous restoration of her lost vision! God can DO it! Pray that this is an amazing time for every family member, not one filled with sadness or fear. Luke 12:28-31, “But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.”

A man named Radu who is only 31, with two children, was recently diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. Please, please pray for his faith, peace, and total, miraculous healing. Pray that the Lord will use those around him to truly encourage him, and that his hope and strength will be found in the Lord. There is something about this case that really stirs me up. I think we will pray Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Also, a wife named Naz is asking for serious prayer for her husband, who has stage 4 pancreatic cancer. There is a little information and a request for financial support here: http://familyfightingcancer.wordpress.com. Please pray for them and see if He leads you to contribute money or a nice note in the comments, a special verse, etc. 
I think we pray for total peace, that their finances and other concerns of this world would be cast aside so they can enjoy time together without the incomprehensible burden. Pray that He would bless them each with one-track minds and be reflections of you despite their circumstances. And pray for each of their faith, health, spiritual, and physical healing that will all be to glorify the Holy One.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Ephesians 1:2

An anonymous person posted about her mother’s stage 1 breast cancer. Pray for both of their peace, as it’s so tempting to get caught up in the terror that comes along with troubles of this world. Pray that the cancer will be permanently removed from her body and that it will not be permitted to control their thoughts or bodies! Matthew 6:31-33, “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Tamara had cancer (I think it was breast but not positive) in the past and is fighting it again. Please pray for her and her friends and family’s assurance that the Lord has a perfect plan and will turn all things the enemy intends for evil into good. Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

A friend of mine’s mother and sisters have all battled breast cancer and anger. Please pray He will be glorified through all of it and that they would turn from trusting themselves and blaming Him to trusting in Him and seeing His goodness.Romans 8:5, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.”

My friend Mandy’s mother has been battling a return of multiple myeloma and we are praying that He will make it disappear so they can extol the great things the mighty one does! John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

Okay, the end of the 21 day challenge (which has taken about 4 months to get through!) is here. 
Day 20
John 20
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(B)”> went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(C)”> So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved,<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(D)”> and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb.<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(F)”> Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(G)”> at the strips of linen<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(H)”> lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head.<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(I)”> The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first,<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(J)”> also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(K)”>that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(L)”> 10 Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.
11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(M)”> 12 
and saw two angels in white,<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(N)”> seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other
 at the foot. 13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” 
she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(P)”> 14 At this, she turned around and saw 
Jesus standing there,<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(Q)”> but she did not realize that it was Jesus. 15 He asked her, “Woman, why 
are you crying?<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(S)”> Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you
 have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic,<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(T)”> “Rabboni!”<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(U)”> (which means “Teacher”).
17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my 
brothers<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(V)”> and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(W)”> and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
18 Mary Magdalene<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(X)”> went to the disciples<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(Y)”> with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them
 that he had said these things to her.
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors 
locked for fear of the Jewish leaders,<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(Z)”> Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AA)”> be 
with you!”<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AB)”> 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side.<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AC)”> The disciples were overjoyed<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AD)”> when they saw the Lord.
21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you!<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AE)”> As the Father has sent me,<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AF)”> I am sending you.”<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AG)”> 22 And 
with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AH)”> 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, 
their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
24 Now Thomas<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AJ)”> (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when 
Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails 
were, and put my hand into his side,<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AK)”> I will not believe.”<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AL)”>
26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the 
doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AM)”> be with you!”<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AN)”> 27 Then 
he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my 
side. Stop doubting and believe.”<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AO)”>
28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed;<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AP)”> blessed are those who 
have not seen and yet have believed.”
30 Jesus performed many other signs<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AR)”> in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in 
this book.<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AS)”> 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God,<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AU)”> and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Until this year I always thought Thomas got a bad rap. It didn’t seem that bad to me for him to want to see Jesus with his own eyes. But now that I know more about faith–that true faith is reinforced by His signs and answered prayers, but is not contingent upon them–I reflect on this with different eyes. We should strive for the faith that is so strong we don’t need to see the scars. After we know what will happen it’s easy to look back and see where we could have had more faith, but in the moment it’s very, very hard. Thankfully there’s a helper that we will read about in John 21!


Day 21
John 21
Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples,<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(A)”> by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way:Simon Peter, Thomas<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(C)”> (also known as Didymus), Nathanael<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(D)”> from Cana in Galilee,<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(E)”> the sons of Zebedee,<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(F)”> and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(G)”>
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(H)”>
He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
“No,” they answered.
He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(I)”>
Then the disciple whom Jesus loved<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(J)”> said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards.<span class="footnote" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="[c]”>[c] When they landed, they saw a fire<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(K)”> of burning coals there with fish on it,<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(L)”> and some bread.
10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(M)”> 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(N)”> after he was raised from the dead.
15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(O)”>
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(P)”>
16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(Q)”>
17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?”<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(R)”> He said, “Lord, you know all things;<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(S)”> you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(T)”> 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death <span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(U)”>by which Peter would glorify God.<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(V)”> Then he said to him, “Follow me!”<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(W)”>
20 Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(X)”> was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”)<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(Y)”>21 When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”
22 Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return,<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(Z)”> what is that to you? You must follow me.”<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AA)”> 23 Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AB)”> that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”
24 This is the disciple who testifies to these things<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AC)”> and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AD)”>
25 Jesus did many other things as well.<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AE)”> If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

In case you didn’t know, the disciple John is the one who wrote this book and is also the one “whom Jesus loved”. What’s that all about, because we know He is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34, etc.)? I guess He doesn’t deliver consequences based on how much He likes someone, but still enjoys us in unique ways. John was a great guy and is possibly the only disciple not martyred, but when we remember that heaven is better than here, that sort of gave him the short end of the stick. 

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.

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).

Not Enough

It’s been almost 2 years since my diagnosis. This time in 2012 my dad drove from West Palm (7 hours) to watch the girls while I went for an ultrasound on the lump in my breast. I had prayed for immediate, good news and that is what I got. Too bad we learned a few weeks later that they were wrong!!!! During the ultrasound the technician proudly announced that my lump was just a clogged milk duct and cancelled the mammogram I was supposed to have right after. I thought that meant my dad had driven all the way across the state to help for no reason, and I had missed Abigail’s Halloween parade, which was at her school at the same time. Of course, when we learned that it was actually a misdiagnosis and I had cancer, those details turned out to be the least of my worries.

I will always think of that day around Halloween, and it was on my mind today as I watched my biggest baby march proudly around the school in her unicorn costume. I can say with absolute certainty that she is no worse for having gone through my cancer and treatments with me. In fact, her faith is stronger and she sees the Lord in more things than before. We prayed so much that the girls would not be destroyed because of the attacks from the Destroyer, and God definitely answered those prayers. Plus, obviously, many, many more.

By the end of today’s parade I was smacked in the face with the reality that the world didn’t stop being a horrible place just because the Lord healed me. I learned that a strong, young believer named Jaime is days from death. She was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer when she had an infant, and that little boy is now 4 years old. By all accounts, that little guy is about to lose his mother. The cancer is in her liver and is causing her excruciating pain.

I remember ruminating once that this is how it goes: First, everyone has high hopes, then that fades and so do the prayers and belief that a miracle could occur. Finally it gets so bad that everyone starts praying for death to take you, to put you out of your misery. I think this has happened with Jaime’s family. She has a husband and parents who love her and no one can stand seeing her in this pain. I imagine she would rather not live more days like this but feels so guilty succumbing because of her child. Her son. Her lovely, precious, and perfect son.

I don’t know the boy’s name but I know he’s wonderful. And that he doesn’t understand. And that he’s on track to have to go through all the awful issues I prayed my own children could avoid. I often think the good Lord answered my prayers for my daughter’s sake…and with some difficulty I’m going to stretch my faith for this next part: I BELIEVE HE WILL ANSWER OUR PRAYERS TO ENTIRELY HEAL JAIME . For His glory.

Many people remind me that He doesn’t heal us all, but (I will say it again, and again), who are we to decide who He will heal? If we pray halfheartedly for healing “because He only heals some of us”, do we actually follow His command to pray in faith (James 5)? And to pray AND believe (Mark 11:24)? Are we actually doing it because we afraid that if he doesn’t heal the person and we thought He would, we will lose faith in Him? Is it just an easy way out to not really put our hearts into praying for healing?

It takes some difficulty to believe Jaime will be healed, but I am doing it. I did it for Debora and when He healed her it was so much more meaningful to me than if I had been just watching from the sidelines. Or waiting for her to die. So I challenge you all to pray with me. To suspend all understanding of what you know about science and the way things usually work, and to go all out in your prayers and belief that she will be healed. Ignore Satan and His lies. Those that whisper “it’s too late” and “no one is healed at this point”. By definition a miracle is a supernatural, unexpected change that we cannot explain away. So we do not lose the hope that He gave us two years ago. Or last week. We maintain this hope and earnest expectation of the good news to come.

Come, let us glorify the Lord together. We shall rejoice together for the upcoming healing of  the Lord’s daughter, Jaime. For her sake, for her son’s sake, and for yours.

Psalm 17:17
Show me the wonders of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in them from their foes.

Events and Prayers

I have mixed feelings about keeping this blog going. It was such a huge part of my cancer journey, and I have been extremely blessed by the responses of people who read it.
Before I was healed I mentioned a fear on here that when people stopped supporting me as much I would feel irrelevant. That definitely happened, as it happens to most people who deal with illness. It’s a natural part of life–whether or not we want attention, at some time of our life we get it and then notice during those times we don’t. It bruises our egos. It has taken awhile to get over this, but I think I have, which is why I can express it better now. I am humbled by being less relevant and more unimportant, and this blog is an extension of that. But I feel like “ending” the blog would be like saying what God did is not important or relevant, either. 
Anyway, whenever I pray about closing down the blog, someone inevitably mentions it in a positive way. So I am keeping it going with less frequent entries until further notice. 

I am healthy. I decided to wait until next year for further reconstructive surgeries because my body has been taking a long time to heal from each  It has been a little over a year since I ended radiation, which was the final part of my treatment. I would say I have physically recovered from all that and have no notable side effects from any of it, besides the actual surgical scars. I consider those my war wounds from the fight for my life. 

I am still moved by people with cancer and have several that I’m praying for. It feels like an epidemic and it’s a bit overwhelming to try to keep up with everyone’s horror stories. But still, every so often in the midst of the storms, we hear good news. It is a tinkle of hope ringing in the distance, and we must search for it’s source. It is the only way we will get through the journey.

Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

These are the current things we have going on.

Prayer:
There is a young girl named Anna, and her family, who really needs your prayers. She already beat leukemia once but it’s back now. Her family has been through an enormous amount recently, so having this terrible disease come back was icing on the cake. Her mother has to work in Tallahassee, and Anna Grace is at Shands all alone (2.5 hours away). She is so sick only her mother is allowed to visit right now. They need support in every way imaginable. Here is a link to a blog with some information, http://annagracedoran.wordpress.com/2013/08/22/anna-grace-doran/comment-page-1/, and if you want to help with any fundraisers it talks about a pancake breakfast on October 5 and I know a local coffee shop is donating funds during certain hours also. Please, please cover this family with your prayers for total healing, finances and peace. Also for protection from emotional problems that arise from all this.

Great Lessons:
Yaacov is leading a cool teaching on the Parables at 11am at Four Oaks Community Church starting next Sunday. You don’t need prior knowledge or anything, just come prepared to learn more about the details of what Jesus was talking about. I’ll paste a blurb about it below:
This class will discuss the origins and meanings of the parables of Jesus from a Jewish perspective and the decisions Jesus called his listeners to make pertaining to the gospel and the kingdom of heaven. The class includes an introduction to what a parable is, the context into which Jesus was teaching (including what the Rabbis were teaching during the 2nd Temple period and who the Jews expected the Messiah to be), and a study of 9 parables: 3 parables of warning, 3 parables of the gospel message, and 3 parables of righteousness.


Bible Study Fellowship:
I have been going to Bible Study Fellowship for 5 years, and it’s a really great nondenominational Bible study. It is not local, there are weekly meetings all over the world. If you want more specifics shoot me an email and I can fill you in. But this note is because we have two women’s groups and not one for the men in Tallahassee. They would like to start a men’s group in town, but they need a list of 300 men who are interested in attending. It isn’t a commitment to show up, just to say they would consider it. So, if you or someone you know is a man who would consider going to the group if it started up, please send Yaacov or me a message with your name and number for the list. Or put it in a comment beneath this.

Cards for a Cure:
We are really excited for the big Cards for a Cure fundraiser that is coming up on September 28 at the Antique Car Museum. The board is made up of lots of amazing people who have lived through or been touched by, breast cancer. The money raised goes to support the TMH Cancer Center, and this year my story is the one being highlighted. As a promotional tool our family was even featured in Tallahassee Woman’s Magazine, which has a watered down version of my story. Lots of non-believers are finding out some truths about what God can do (page 38 http://issuu.com/tallahasseewoman/docs/aug_sept13_online). So, not only would I love to see you all come to the event, I would also appreciate prayers for all the audience to learn about God’s miracles and that there is always hope. http://www.cardsforacuretallahassee.com .